At work, I am involved in the office Fantasy Football League. I’m not doing very well if truth be told, but that isn’t the cause of my despair as far as this little competition is concerned. My consternation lies firmly in the fact that I am incessantly finding my team name to an ever-expanding group of people who go “I don’t get it” whenever I extol the etymological origins of the mighty mid-table Half Man Half Busquets. I’m generally happier when explaining who Busquets (Carles or Sergio, it matters not) is. Half Man Half Biscuit shouldn’t really be hidden away just out of sight of the mainstream consciousness, although I suspect that this is where they like to hang out – their fans are loyal and well-rewarded, modern culture provides a well-ordered line of targets for lyrical disdain, and they remain at the forefront of a punk movement casting a disappointed spotlight on life’s many vagaries; mostly by virtue of the fact that nobody else has really bothered to join in.
Cor, it’s all go here. the last few weeks have been spent moving house and sorting out all the attendant woes that go with it. I’m almost done, the internet is working, the new sofa’s being delivered on Thursday and I have a lovely new base of operations in an old mill overlooking a canal, a wood, and nothing else. It’s beautiful by day, wonderfully dark and star-strewn by night and I have yet to find more than one shop. Very strange screechy noises outside when the sun goes down too.
It’s all a bit re-energising though and I’ve pretty much already written as many things in the last 10 days than I have in the previous 6 months (either here or elsewhere – see below the fold for details), and hope to keep up to speed certainly over the next four weeks when there’s a fair old pile of stuff going on. in the meantime, thanks for still reading and thanks also for the kind words posted around the web, it’s hugely appreciated.
Hope you like the new look of the place! There’s still much tinkering to be done as I had to put in a whole new theme at very short notice when it turned out that the one I’ve been using for the last four years didn’t want to play, and I’m not 100% sure about the one I chose in a moment of “that’ll do for now” late on Friday night, but it’s certainly something to build on over the next few weeks or so.
What I am 100% sure on is the new logo and banner. Nick Rhodes at Switchopen has produced some beautiful art for the likes of Mark Lanegan, Soulsavers, Ed Harcourt, Queens of the Stone Age and so many others, and now his work adorns the top of this page. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am that this happened at all and how happy I am with the result, especially after it puts a happier hat on the end of a rather sad few weeks.
I’m not in the most fragrant of moods today. Being overworked to buggery tends to do that. Then again, I had an actual day off work yesterday and didn’t do anything constructive (other than two reviews here, one of which I rather ashamedly mistitled no less than three times. Might actually have to change procedure and read stuff before I hit post in future…
On the plus side, the backlog’s almost cleared save for a couple of bits and bobs to be squirrelled away until later this week, which will save me from posting another rant about how Facebook is changing the way that bands and fans connect and how fans are being expected to take up the slack from FB’s recent (well, several months old but it’s only now that people seem to be noticing…) poor decision-making.
Ah well, mustn’t grumble.
I have to say that the real Mercury Prize shortlist this year is a bit of a disappointment this year in the respect that it’s a bit on the vanilla side. Thankfully this means that everyone can get all in a strop about *their* faves not getting a mention, and this is the real spirit of the competition. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way from an award named after a telecommunications company that went bust in 1999.
So, to join in with the doings, here’s an almost shortlist of my favourites that weren’t nominated keeping to a couple of mild criteria:
- Released within the real prize’s qualification period (July 12 2011 – September 10 2012)
- Artists involved are at least partly from the UK
- Artists not actually shortlisted (although for the purposes of this list, only Richard Hawley – see below for comedy gold in 2006 – is omitted from this thingy)
- Something from qualifying album is on Spotify, just to make it easy for me. BTW, if you like something here or elsewhere on the various playlists, please buy it – no artist will ever make a living from the tiny streaming royalties they receive.
Hope there’s something you like, or violently disagree with.
I’m probably being a bit unpatriotic or something as I’m typing this as the closing ceremony to the (it has to be said, rather wonderful, once all the corporate nonsense was summarily buggered off) Olympic Games, but it’s on in the background and – as is compulsory with these sort of things – somewhat baffling. As I type, Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 is on a bicycle.
It’s a bit of a strange one this week. As usual, I’ve not done half the things I was supposed to do due to various awfulnesses, and work and more awfuls will probably put the mockers on much getting done this week too. Still, it’s August and hardly anything is getting released – note to artists, labels and assorted associated lickspittles: We Have iPods And Things Now, we can listen to things and play outside! Not at the moment obviously, it’s pissing it down.
Lots to do and no time to do any of it seems to be the order of the day here. It’s not helped by the constant helpings of European Football (which is on as I type, so please forgive occasional losing of track or bouts of unexplained swearing, although the latter is mostly to drown out Jim Beglin), although I have helped things along a bit by accidentally deleting my comment/spam queue without checking to see if anything was actually from a person. Whoops.
Right, now I’m starting to receive more and more things from artist, bands and those in the employ of the aforementioned, I’m going to have to make a proper job of this. So once a month (the 1st seems as good a date as any) I’ll devote a page to this sort of thing. Thanks so far for all I’ve been sent, apologies for not getting round to most of it so far…
It’s time to dig out the commemorative teatowels and give the posh spoons a bit of a buffing, as Sunday Whatever’s Silver Jubilee is upon us! Or upon me, at least. Anyway, hooray for a series that I just do to keep my typing fingers occupied at times when I generally can’t be bothered typing, and that has managed to crawl unconvincingly to 25 posts, all of which take me about five times as long to do as a normal one…
It’s been another strange week here, there’s been a couple of interesting bits and bobs that have appeared recently and the impending arrival of a month that promises to be very exciting indeed for me, with a couple of oddities out tomorrow, a couple of nicely-anticipated things the week after and then two of my most looked-forward to albums of the year out on the 21st. And to put the tin hat on everything, I’m going to be a bit rude and blow my own trumpet again and link you to this, where – after I said that I didn’t like doing book reviews! – a snippet of my review of this book is used as proper promotional blurb. Considering this is just a hobbyist blog talking to itself for the most part, it will never not be a source of a constant mix of bemusement and pride when this happens.
Well, it feels like one, doesn’t it? Am already one week late with this thanks to illness, so one more day isn’t going to make much more of a difference… Not quite sure what’s going to be happening this week as proper work is going to take up almost all of my time, but it’s also the start of what seems to be a very busy period here – new arrivals both anticipated and surprising starting (hopefully) tomorrow and then carrying on until the end of May. And to think, I’ve been bored lately.
Whatever passes for normal service around here will be resumed next week. Probably.
Last one for this bit, with the remaining ten(ish…) getting a page to themselves. And thank the stars for that, as it’s such a bugger to go on about ten things at the same time whilst trying (and probably failing) to remember which adverbs I’ve already used. What I’ve found interesting so far whilst doing this and looking at the many emerging lists from other sites and proper media (and confirmed during a brief conversation with a friend on Twitter earlier today) is that while there’s been a lot of good, very good and great albums out this year, nobody seems to be agreeing on pretty much anything – the standard this year is of a very high average, with little common ground as to what is considered essential. This may sound as if this state of affairs is anything but a very good thing indeed, but the opposite is true; musically-independent artists have been coming up with their own visions without consideration to what anyone else is up to and largely without interference from marketing, in a direct inverse to what is going on in a mainstream seemingly happy to strangle itself with its own banality. There seems to be more and more little labels springing up all over the place, and there are more and more cheap/free ways for artists to reach an audience than ever before. It’s like 1976 and 1987 all over again…