Archives for August 2010

LaFaro's Inferno

Stuart Bailie | 15:49 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

If you haven't been seduced by the whiskery beauty of LaFaro yet, then you might want to sample this BBC footage of 'Tupenny Nudger', live at Reading Festival over the weekend. In the past, we worried that the band's laissez faire approach to PR and presentation might cause them to lose out, but they have actually collected enough slacker points to boost them into the next rock and roll stratum. They are wholly uncompromised and just a bit fearsome. A good thing, natch.

More videos here:

Playlist 30.08.10

Stuart Bailie | 15:46 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Playlist 20.08.10

Bruce Springsteen - Prove It All Night (CBS)
Badly Drawn Boy - Too Many Miracles (One Last Fruit)
Eels - Oh So Lovely (E Works)
Justin Townes Earle - Harlem Rive Blues (Bloodshot)
The Charlatans - My Foolish Pride (Finck)
Matrimony - Last Love (white)
The Bees - I Really Need Love (Polydor)
Paul Weller - Fast Car Slow Traffic (Island)
Dr Feelgood - She Does It Right (UA)
Joel Plaskett - Through Through and Through (Blue Grace)
Huey Piano Smith - Free Single and Disengaged (Westside)
Southern Tenant - Folk Union The Black Crown (Johnny Rock)
Fops - Black Boar (Monotreme)
James - Look Away (Mercury)

Beach Boys - The Warmth Of The Sun (Capitol)
Justin Townes Earle - Slipping And Sliding (Bloodshot)
Eels - The Morning (E Works)
Get Cape Wear Cape Fly - The Uprising (cv)
Blind Boys Of Alabama - There Is A Light (Preservation Hall)
Bombay Bicycle Club - Rinse Me Down (Island)
Villagers - On A Sunlit Stage (Any Other City)
Justin Townes Earle - Working For The MTA (Bloodshot)
Elliott Smith - Between The Bars (Domino)
Pocket Promise - Juno (Stop:Go)
Jimmy Reed - Baby What Do You Want Me To Do (Charly)
Mary Dillon - Army Dreamers (Back Lane)
Eels - I'm A Hummingbird (E Works)
The Lost Brothers - Under The Turquoise Sky (Tri Tone)
Field Music - Measure (Memphis Industries)
Wildbirds And Peacedrums - The Drop (Leaf)

Some Canvey Talking

Stuart Bailie | 10:20 UK time, Monday, 30 August 2010

The first gig I ever saw was Dr Feelgood. The first song I ever played in a band was 'In The City' by The Jam. So it was uncommonly sweet to stand in Custom house Square in Belfast, watching Paul Weller in motion with the old Feelgoods guitarist, Wilko Johnston.

The song was 'From The Floorboards Up' and the stuttering beat was just about perfect for Paul's guest. Some of us would have preferred more volume coming out of his Fender but still it was recognition of the value of that mid Seventies Canvey Island sound.

wilko2.jpgEarlier in the day I had been in Wilko's company on Gordon Street. He wore the customary black suit and his face has deepened over the years into a mournful story. It was like watching an old silent film star. Maybe Harold Lloyd. He wasn't designed for grace but that's not why we admire him.

Over at Belsonic, Paul Weller paid his dues and then steered his performance into a soaring career resume. Those new songs with their clatter and bite were a good fit besides the many Jam tunes ('Malice', 'Pretty Green' and blimey, 'New Art School') and only an overlong stretch on the piano stool dampened the intensity.

After, we crossed the road to see Wilko headlining the Belfast City Blues bash. Onstage he is resplendent, turning his gauche limbs into a rare behavior. It's a lineage that goes back to Max Wall and the music hall muggers. It's also a reminder that rock and roll took its cues from the traveling tent shows in the US, where the entertainers would perform weird steps and gyrations for the sake of fun and fervor.

Wilko plays 'She Does It Right' and 'Back In The Night'. impeccable. He closes with that Chuck Berry song about Johnny B Goode and his attack on Hollywood. Norman Watt-Roy from The Blockheads is on bass and the thrill is sustained. Geezer.

Ready, Aim, Wire

Stuart Bailie | 19:47 UK time, Saturday, 28 August 2010

manics2010.jpgHorray for the return of the Manic Street Preachers. I'm reasonably certain that 'Postcards From A Young Man' will be a good value album. And of course their new campaign is accompanied by a series of masterclass interviews, citing the heavy thinkers, the challenging books, domestic chores, bathos and sporting gubbins.

So here they are in The Times Playlist guide today, passing verdict on New Labour, castigating the Liberals, missing Richey and imagining the terms of their appearance on reality TV. To quote Nicky Wire:

"If we were offered Strictly Come Dancing - unlikely I know - we'd do it as a Situationist Spectacle... us and Ian McCullough with a load of dancers behind us. I'd love that."

Me also. I can already visualise the Generation Game Terrorists. They have my vote.

The Doors of Perfection

Stuart Bailie | 13:57 UK time, Saturday, 28 August 2010

So I'm at Belsonic of a Thursday evening and Two Door Cinema Club are the current feature. They've been grinding out the miles across America , Europe and the Far East, priming the college balls , elating Glastonbury and collecting many festival points. Not to mention those 130 000 pals on Facebook. Now they're in Custom House Square and they may even know just how many miles it is to Donaghadee. Welcome home, fellas.

TwoDoorClub250.jpgAnd have they changed? Well, Kevin is hoisting his bass guitar into a number of heroic poses. The live drums are now a regular accessory - causing some of the dance stalwarts to decree that their tidy electro model has been compromised. Oh well, several thousand young aficionados are clapping and barking out the words. "To the basement people!" they bleat with gusto.

With a casual grace, they throw 'Something Good Can Work' into the middle of their show. It's an exceptional song that meets with tonight's giddy atmosphere (rampant scenes with Major Lazer, 2 Many DJs in a royally eclectic mood). And there are times when Alex looks properly joyous, rather than abstracted and out there. Mind you, there's no telling how it must feel at the centre of all that propulsion and clamour and cool.

Photo by Paul McClade

Gotta Hear This # 13

Stuart Bailie | 09:11 UK time, Thursday, 26 August 2010

It's the Spring of 1972 and I'm somewhere up the Mourne Mountains with the Boy Scouts. We're done the camping thing already but this time we're on a hike into the hills, steering for a hostel on a windswept slope. If I knew the location I would tell you. I would also go back there myself as it seemed tremendously desolate and cool. It was like one of those shacks you see in old cowboy films, populated by the James-Younger Gang or some other desperadoes.

Inside there was a utility grade stove and we would sit there in the evenings, loving the rough comfort. The best seats were reserved by some older boys, who walked around with the ease of seasoned hill walkers and hostel vets. They were growing sparse beards and always seemed to be singing elusive songs that we half understood.

Their favourite was a tune called 'Meet Me On The Corner'. It was about a lonesome guy trying to cop a deal with a dreamseller. He wants to exchange some rhymes for a reverie. He's setting up a meeting and the deep longing in the guy's voice makes you appreciate the importance of the trade-off.

lind.jpgIt was some long time later when I realized that the song had been released by a band from Newcastle, England, called Lindisfarne. To my young ears, 'Meet Me On The Corner' sounded like no song ever written, but with hindsight they were maybe listening to Fairport Convention and definitely immersed in their Bob Dylan. Their lyric isn't really so far away from 'Mr Tambourine Man' with his magic swirling ship. In fact the Lindisfarne recording had been produced by Bob Johnston, who had steered Bob through 'Highway 61 Revisited', 'Blonde On Blonde' and more. Maybe that also explains the quiet rapture of singer Alan Hull, who was clearly on his uppers. You would be, really.

That's essentially all I can remember about my mountain experience. We returned to the city with its bombs and relentless dread, but we were humming a delicate song, written by Geordies and related to us by those boys with beards, rolling their own and addressing the dreamseller.

Playlist 23.08.10

Stuart Bailie | 18:16 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Back in the very first issue of Alternative Ulster magazine, there was an excited article about 'Ballymena Beat'. It was a fanciful idea, and it centered about a bunch of old schoolmates who were playing in each other's bands. I can't remember which acts were cited, but I do suspect that The Throes were involved. They were a rumbling menace, with singer Eamonn using his words like a circus knife-thrower, evidently inspired by Dylan and Lou Reed.

The band expired a while ago, but Eamonn and some of his pals have regrouped as The Holy Innocents. Mark McCambridge is sharing the songs and adding a mournful tone to the show. They are spread between London, Ballymena and Belfast, and when they played at McHugh's last Saturday night, it seemed that precision wasn't part of the deal. But there was excellent attitude and that insouciant style that revealed a deep and assured grasp of the music that's significant. Their sails are lifted by Neil Young's 'Wayward Wind' and their spiritual advisor is Leonard Cohen. I do hope that they travel well and often.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Playlist 23.08.10

The Coral - More Than A Lover (Deltasonic)
Ben Folds, Nick Hornby - From Above (Nonesuch)
Villagers - That Day (Domino)
Li'l Millet And His Creoles - Rich Woman (Specialty)
The Duke And The King Hudson River (Loose)
Paul Weller - Andromeda (Island)
Piney Gir - Lucky Me (Damaged Goods)
The Jim Jones Revue - Righteous Wrong (Punk Rock Blues)
Gene Vincent - Blue Jean Bop (Poppy Disc)
The Drums - Down By The Water (Moshi Moshi)
Eddie Vedder - Better Days (Island)
The Holy Innocents - Epistle To Home (white)
The Mighty Stef, Shane MacGowan - Waiting Round To Die (Cherry Red)
Georgie Fame - Baby Please Don't Go (Spectrum)
Deerhunters - Revival (4ad)

Tom Waits - Way Down In The Hole (Island)
The Cribs - Housewife (Wichita)
The Duke And The King - Gloria (Loose)
David Rotheray - The Sparrow, The Thrush And The Nightingale (Proper)
John Prine - Angel From Montgomery (Oh Boy)
Agnes Obel - Falling, Catching (PIAS)
The Arcade Fire - City With No Children (Mercury)
Brian Ferry - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Virgin)
Danny and the Champions - For The Sake Of The Song (Cherry Red)
Mississippi Sheiks - Sitting On Top Of the World (Snapper)
David Rotheray, Eliza Carthy The Road To The South (Proper)
The Housemartins - Build (Go Discs)
The Transatlantics - Tea Legs (Freestyle)

The Beef At Belsonic

Stuart Bailie | 11:09 UK time, Thursday, 19 August 2010

So I'm hanging at Belsonic with my old pals from Across The Line. It's the first night of the proceedings and we note with satisfaction that the site has been lengthened towards the Albert Clock to allow some more punters in. It's looking a bit successful.

ashbelsonic250.jpgAsh are opening with Kasabian. Joe from the Stiff Kitten says that he's not seen the band live before, but blimey, the rest of us ATL vets have collectively witnessed about 100 Ash gigs. Some have been a little ropey, but many have been filled with fervour and fun and soul-bracing tunes. Tonight, they resume the big hits, including a fine 'Girl From Mars' and a concerted bid to make 'Orpheus' part of their primo collection. Tim Wheeler notes that they used to play the Penny Farthing on Donegall Street, back in 1993. "You've come a long way," he tells the city.

Their new adventures are represented by 'Return Of The White Rabbit', an early salvo from the A-Z experience. Tonight it's a dizzy noise, fixed on that bass rumble (care of the author, three stringed hooligan Mark Hamilton) and a lyrical invitation to get lost. Sadly, the rather mature crowd is not inclined to follow that trail to Wonderland.

Rigsy from ATL points out that if a new band had released that song, it would have been met with astonishment. Perhaps we take the Ash talent for granted, or maybe it's the culture's obsession with novelty that leaves the song without major acclaim. Some day, posterity will be a lot more fulsome.

Ikasabianbelsonic250.jpg'm not especially keen on Kasabian. For me, it's been like some reheated gruel - old ideas served up in a dependable manner. I'm thinking of the danger and disorder of The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, The Mondays and even Death In Vegas. In contrast, Kasabian offer stability and a known measure. Like they care. They are currently on a victory lap, with three albums delivered to the people, steady sales in perilous times.

Tonight is a bit of an education, a chance to see how the fans relate to the grooves, the tribal ululations and the stomping beats that recall The Glitter Band, circa 1973. And to be fair, Kasabian seem to enjoy the job. They move like Cossacks on manoeuvres and when the big hits from that first album are aired, Custom House Square becomes an exuberant mob.

Beside me, Rigsy is waving his phone around, filming the crowd, tweeting and re-tweeting with his customary vim. Online, there's a conversation going on, across national boundaries, riffing about particular songs before the tune is even over.
Meanwhile here's me, with the notebook and the old pen, working to another scheme. If this were a football match, I'd be the fella with the muffler and the flat cap, making grouchy remarks and remembering the long-gone moments of Sammy Pavis and Big Trevor Thompson. Hey, I can live with that.

Photos by Paul McClade

Playlist 16.08.10

Stuart Bailie | 11:03 UK time, Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Stranglers fans are a peculiar lot. Their band was neither punk nor pub rock, with a few goth accoutrements and wibbling keyboards that recalled The Doors. Few bands would claim to be influenced by the band, although Elastica may have accidentally borrowed a riff or two in the Nineties.

So their fans are essentially pariahs, lost in their mildly defiant world. Like the followers of, say, Marillion. Some of the band's original members have long gone, but again, that's apparently not a problem. So they mutter amongst themselves, blethering about their collectible 'Choosey Susie' pressings and their Jean-Jacques Burnel solo releases. I recently met one of these individuals at a party and he informed me that the band were currently at their best and that things had improved considerably since Hugh Cornwell left as frontman. He was gearing up for a 30 minute conversation, but I didn't have the heart for it.

Still, 'Go Buddy Go' was a wheeze. Right?

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight
Playlist 16.08.10

The Love Affair - Bringing On Back The Good Times (Columbia)
Superchunk - Digging For Something (Mesh)
Felice Brothers - Frankie's Gun (Loose)
Modest Mouse - Float On (Epic)
Dave Rawlings Machine - Bells Of Harlem (Acony)
Nick Drake - Northern Sky (Island)
Wheat - Changes Is (No Dancing)
Cathy Davey - Army Of Tears (Hammer Toe)
Mavis Staples - In Christ There Is No East Or West (Anti)
LCD Soundsystem - I Can Change (DFA)
The Stranglers -Go Buddy Go (A&M)
Yeasayer - Madder Red (Mute)
Ronnie Lane - Give Me A Penny (Island)
Josh Ritter - Change Of Time (Independent)
Slim Harpo - Strange Love (Righteous)
Caitlin Rose - Shanghai Cigarettes (Names)
Gavin Glass - Bleed (Orphan)
Solomon Burke - Dreams (One World)
Leela James - Miss You (Sanachie)
Isobel Anderson - Ten Of Swords (white)
MIA - It Takes A Muscle (XL)
Noonday Underground - Rock Steady (Setanta)
Soweto Kinch - Escape (Soweto Kinch)
Client - Night And Day (Domino)

Passing The Bucks

Stuart Bailie | 14:43 UK time, Monday, 16 August 2010

I'm at the London Weekend Television building on London's South Bank and the main studio is overrun with rabbits. They are in the living room, upstairs on the bed and there's even a black and white specimen on Father Jack Hackett's head. Meantime, Father Dougal is mildly flummoxed. "It's like a big rabbit rock festival," he burbles.

The year is 1995 and it's a live filming of a Series Two episode of Father Ted, called 'The Plague'. The premise is that Dougal's pet rabbit has sired a multitude of offspring and that Bishop Brennan's visit to Craggy Island will be problematic - given that he has an intense fear of the creatures. There's an interconnected subplot about Father Jack's penchant for naked sleepwalking and of course it all ends badly and hilariously.

It will repeat forever on cable television. I revisited the episode on the weekend and noted that it has weathered so well, a classic. On occasions I thought I could hear the delighted laughter of my younger self in the background. The filming night was the sweetest occasion and even when the scenes had been halted or the lines were occasionally fluffed, the actors and the audience were at their best.

When everything had been finished to the director's satisfaction, we all headed upstairs for a little aftershow party. I was reasonably friendly with the writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews and they were wearing their new fame with a degree of modesty. Graham had been a fairly talented music journalist, but he was now supremely in the zone and we were happy for him.

In time, the actors emerged from make-up. Mrs Doyle was ten years younger, and was drinking something more exotic than tea. Father Ted was revealed as Dermot Morgan, a little twitchy with the attention, while Father Jack had been jettisoned by Frank Kelly, beaming and resplendent in Ralph Lauren.

Like many other people, I would dearly love a return visit to the headspace of Craggy Island and more of that sort of thing.

Stringing Lessons

Stuart Bailie | 12:55 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

Most local bands take to the stage with all the relish of a hospital visit. It's a bit of an ordeal, an affront to the sensitivities. Perhaps they may mumble their name at some stage, or introduce a song with little verve. If they can't summon up a bit of belief, what are we supposed to do?

This is why I enjoyed my Colly Strings gig last week. They treated the modest space of Auntie Annie's in Belfast like it was Madison Square Garden. It was a stadium show in waiting. At the start of the gig, various members were randomly beating drums across the stage, allowing singer Travis to skulk, centre stage in his hoody. His voice was damaged and the discomfort was apparent, but still he fronted it out.

Some of the members served their time with Seven Story Weather, a shouty guitar band with essence of emo. This time they seem intent on marking out their own individual space, with wiry guitar, martial drums, soaraway vocals and some of that theatre we've already noticed. Their recent single release revealed a bit of intent, but it already sounds like an old story. I'd say that in six months, they will have evolved again.

Their exit is reminiscent of baby U2 during their '40' period, with the band members taking it in turns to leave the stage. It's hardly a radical idea, but it is effective and at this moment, perfectly bold.

Colly Strings: live fast, tie young.

Playlist 09.08.10

Stuart Bailie | 11:18 UK time, Wednesday, 11 August 2010

We lost Bobby Hebb on August 3. He was born in Nashville and worked as a boy on the Grand Ole Opry, but he was essentially a soul man. His big tune was 'Sunny', a song he wrote in 1963, just after the assassination of JFK and the tragic death of his brother. It's a song that will live forever. 'Love Love Love' is also amazing, and a gift of a song to start the show with.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Playlist 09.08.10

Bobby Hebb - Love Love Love (Polygram)
The Arcade Fire - Suburbs (Mercury)
The Chiffons - Sweet Talking Guy (Capitol)
Best Coast - Our Deal (Wichita)
Wilco - Say You Miss Me (Reprise)
Colenso Parade - Fall At Your Feet (white)
Patti Smith - Summer Cannibals (Arista)
Magic Kids - Phone (Matador)
The Coral - Roving Jewel (Deltasonic)
Karen Elson - The Truth Is In The Dirt (XL)
Tim Hardin - Part Of The Wind (Polydor)
Band Of Horses - Blue Beard (Columbia)
MIA - Tell Me Why (XL)
Wavves - Baby Say Goodbye (Bella Union)
Bonobo - We Could Forever (Ninja Tune)

Bruce Springsteen - Badlands (CBS)
Delta Spirit - Bushwick Blues (Rounder)
The Arcade Fire - Half Light (Mercury)
Harper Simon - Berkley Girl (Tuksi)
Beth Orton - Concrete Sky (Heavenly)
The Duke And The King - Shaky (Loose)
Stina Nordenstam - I See You Again (Warner)
Howe Gelb - Nail In The Sky (Orchestra Pit)
OMD - If You Want It (100%)
Musee Mechanique - Fits And Starts (Souterrain)
Villagers - Home (Domino)
Delta Spirit - Devil Knows You're Dead (Rounder)
William Orbit - Nimrod (Decca)

Mercury Rising

Stuart Bailie | 10:17 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

I was on holidays when the Mercury Prize shortlist appeared, but I was reassured to learn that a lot of the Monday Late Show Regulars (Laura Marling, Paul Weller, Wild Beasts, Mumford & Sons) were all on there. And - great joy - so too was Villagers, whose 'Becoming A Jackal' has consumed my affections since getting a preview in March.

It's not a record that wears off either. On the contrary, the strange little images and splintered pieces are totally beguiling, hauling you into the narration. I'm not sure that there's an explanation for any of it, but like all great records, it encourages you to paint your own response.

It's such a great mix of dread and elation, insights and lockdowns. If I had to explain the tone to a stranger I'd refer them to Radiohead's 'Paranoid Android' - a song written about insomnia and the hallucinations that follow. Everything is vivid but twisted. The skin is thin and the emotions are amped up. And what's all that about jackals, snakes, graveyards and ghosts?

Conor J O' Brien steps into the music like the Ancient Mariner gatecrashes a party. He's got something to say, but it may not be literal or even believable. But his fables eventually wind you in, taking you to that place. It's not a Katy Perry party, but it's a location I've been visiting a lot.

Villagers play The Black Box, Belfast, Sept 9. See

Led Astray

Stuart Bailie | 10:52 UK time, Saturday, 7 August 2010

It is 1988 and I'm working at the press offices of Warner Records in Kensington, London. The company is flush with record sales from the likes of Madonna, Prince, Fleetwood Mac and The Bee Gees. My own little roster includes James, The Soup Dragons, Motley Crue, Brigitte Nielsen, Miriam Makeba, Biz Markie, John Zorn and Ace Freeley from Kiss. I think I've already told you my Ted Nugent stories, and remind me some time to give you the lowdown on how Nikki Sixx died on us, momentarily, just before a UK tour...

RobertPlant280.jpgAnyway, both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin are signed to the company. It's the former who first walks into the office, immaculate in pinstripe and sporting an eerie smile. We shiver as he glides past. A few weeks later and the request arrives; I must set up a college press conference for Robert Plant.

He's promoting an album called 'Now And Zen' which is nearly as awful as the title suggests. That's not the main problem. It's the idea of getting a score of badly organised and oddly staffed college mags to attend an event in London. In the days before e-mail and mobile phones. But I persevere and on the appointed day, Robert's office calls to say that actually the press conference is off, as the singer isn't feeling at his best. In the next two hours, a relay of excited student journalists arrive from all over England, only to be told that it's no go.

We reschedule and the artist finally arrives. He nips into the toilet first and meets a colleague who is gargling some medicine. Robert is curious and the guy exclaims that he has a throat infection. Robert then says something utterly unrepeatable, which delivers a horrendous insight into the rock and roll lifestyle.

He enters the press conference swinging a baseball bat. He is all charm and exhibits less of the vainglorious aspect that we underlings had experienced. And so all the college people leave the room with a smile and a dozen impeccable anecdotes.

Me, I couldn't listen to his voice for a decade or so afterwards. But hey, his last two records were actually rather great. And it's quite a big deal that he's announced a Belfast date at The Waterfront, November 2. Ramble on, old fella.

Playlist 02.08.10

Stuart Bailie | 18:29 UK time, Tuesday, 3 August 2010

I know exactly where I was when I first heard the Arcade Fire. It was the San Diego Sports Arena, and the date was March 28, 2005. It was the first night of U2's 'Vertigo' tour and just moments before the show, the PA system thundered into existence with 'Wake Up'. These days, the tune is a standard rouser for sports events and TV playbacks, but then it was unknown and I guess I remember that Arcade moment more than the actual gig that followed. I recall looking around me for clues and there was Gavin Friday on the riser for the sound desk, beaming proudly. His call, I reckon.

I bought 'Funeral' the next day at Amoeba Records on Sunset Boulevard, and it has served me well since. Likewise with 'Neon Bible', which lacked a bit of that royal splutter but was still impressive. And so to yesterday's release from the Arcade Fire, 'The Suburbs'. It's not easily digestible, but you can immediately witness the vast choruses, the clamour, the strangeness and the pure human focus. That's plenty to be starting with.

BBC Radio Ulster, 92-95 FM
Mondays, ten - midnight

Playlist 02.08.10

The Undertones -Under The Boardwalk (Sire)
The Arcade Fire - City With No Children (Mercury)
The Coral - More Than A Lover (Deltasonic)
The Gaslight Anthem - Old Haunts (Side One Dummy)

Serge Gainsbourg - profile featuring:
Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin - Je T'Aime
France Gall - Laisses Tomber Les Filles
Serge Gainsbourg- Intoxicated Man
Serge Gainsbourg - La Horse

Erland and The Carnival - The Derby Ram (Full Time Hobby)
Paul Weller - Andromeda (Island)
The Coral - Sandhills (Deltasonic)
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffitti - Beverly Kills (4ad)
Randy Newman - We Belong Together (Disney)
Deer Tick - Twenty Miles (Fargo)
Vampire Weekend - White Sky (XL)
Beach House - Silver Soul (Bella Union)

Echo and The Bunnymen - Silver (Warner)
The Arcade Fire - Rococo (Mercury)
The Coral - Two Faces (Deltasonic)
Justin Hines - Rub Up, Push Up (Island)
Rox - Rocksteady (Rough Trade)
The Congos - Solid Foundation (Blood And Fire)
Minus The Bear - My Time (V2)
Morrissey - I Am Hated For Loving (Parlophone)
Rachel Austin - All That I Lose (white)
Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mercury)
Solomon Burke - Everything About You (One World)
Burns Unit - Trouble (Proper)
Caribou - Sun (City Slang)

Ask Me, Ask Me...

Stuart Bailie | 09:39 UK time, Monday, 2 August 2010

July is always a fine book-reading month, and this time I nourished the head with seven or eight, including the new, resonant Don DeLillo and a book by Tim Parks about professional burn-out, 'Teach Us To Sit Still'. Happily, I read that little account by the comfort of the holiday pool, but it was still rather alarming.

TheAsk2.jpgFor light relief there was David Quantick's 'Dangerous Book For Middle Aged Men' and Stuart Maconie's 'Pies And Prejudice', which had been cruelly misplaced on a book shelf for some time. Sweet work from the chap, who can be wry or involved when it suits.
My fave though was 'The Ask' by Sam Lipsyte, former frontman of Dungbeetle and a mate of James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. It's about the infernal world of a professional fund-raiser in New York, a bluster of intent, lies and under-achievement.

The main guy is Milo Burke, a vivid chancer, a failed artist and rubbish family man. He is heroic in his own awful way, like Sam Giametti's lurid character in Sideways. The background is collapsing economies and vacuous Noughties pop culture but the voice has the classic verve of Philip Roth and Joseph Heller. Ask is the measure of an age and I laughed often.

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