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Gratuitous Tom Jones video

Because it’s my blog and I can do what I want. 😛

Woke up with this song in my head and feel honour-bound to share it. I heartily recommend a blast of Tom as a wake-up-dance-along kind of thing, for any kind of morning.

I saw Tom Jones play live once. At Cardiff Castle, no less. It was the most patriotic experience I’ve ever had, even more than New Year’s Eve 1999 when fireworks went off and the whole city danced to ‘It’s Not Unusual’ at midnight.
At the castle, we danced way more than the people in this video’s audience are, and EVERYONE sang along.
I’m guessing this crowd weren’t rowdy Welshies.


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Advent Thanksgiving: I Gots Terrible Fever

downside covers stacia kane city of magic unholy ghostsMy Advent Thanksgiving series is a series of posts about stuff I liked in 2011. Music, books, tv, games, handsome gentlemen – you get the idea.

I think my love of Stacia Kane’s Downside series is pretty well documented already. I’ve tweeted about it, written a glowing review for the first book in the series, bought the books for my friends and joined the Goodreads self-help group for people with an unshakeable passion for the male lead, Terrible. I read all three books this year (in about a week) and they have undoubtedly been a major highlight of my 2011.

One more thing. Here’s a playlist of tracks from the novel, feat The Stooges, Richard Hell, Chuck Berry, X, Misfits, Them, The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers. Stacia’s got a page of playlists on her site, too. Short of crocheting amigurumi witches and priests (like the people in my last post would), I’m done for now. I’ve said it. The Downside series is great. If you don’t read them it’s your own fault – I did all I could.

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Advent Thanksgiving: shouty songs for sh*tty times

My Advent Thanksgiving series is a series of posts about stuff I liked in 2011. Music, books, tv, games, handsome gentlemen – you get the idea.

This has been a crappy year for too many good people. And in hard times music always makes me feel better. My 2011 theme song, played LOUD and bellowed along to often, has been ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding’, by Mr Elvis ‘Godlike Genius’ Costello.

Then I either blast Suicidal Tendencies to get things out of my system, cos this song makes me laugh and is probably the best ever if you need a shout-along –

or play Talking Heads to happy myself up.

Ooh, that was invigorating. See, I feel much better now. Got a righteous indignation tune of your own? A shouty-happy recession playlist? Do tell. I feel another 8tracks playlist coming on. . .

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My Muses, aka I love Kristin

I don’t remember my first kiss. I don’t remember my first drink or first cigarette (though I do remember my first Marlboro. I nearly fell over, and had to pretend I was deliberately leaning against a wall, all nonchalant like a cat pretending not to have done anything it didn’t intend to). But I do remember my first gig, my first nightclub, and the first time I heard Throwing Muses.


Mark & Lard’s Graveyard Shift radio show in the ’90s was responsible for the majority of my taste in music; two hours of mind-expanding excellence, four nights a week, during my most impressionable years. Like a cool older boyfriend, but without the seediness or leather-jacketed heartbreak, they took me by the hand and turned me on to Nick Cave, Belle & Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, Stereolab, Tindersticks. But they could have played crap non-stop and I’d forgive them it, so long as they still played Dizzy that one night, the night I turned the radio on and heard Throwing Muses for the first time.

Poppy and fun, Dizzy is very different from the darker tracks that became my favourites. I guess it was my gateway drug to their close-to-the-bone, raw-edged other songs. The view into darkness that I got from their music was important, because when the black dog came to rip at my own throat few years later, I recognised it. I’d seen it in books, heard it in songs. I knew that some of my heroes had been pushed to the edge and made it back. I knew that they had experienced the walls closing in and the ground falling away, the same way it was happening to me.

It wasn’t anything as conscious as that at the time, and I don’t mean that the music I listened to glamourised mental illness or that my experience was as intense as Hersh’s bipolar disorder. That’s not how it works – it’s not a game of Snap! where only people who’ve had the same experiences can understand or help each other. I listened to stark, lost music not to wallow in how I was feeling, but because it comforted me to know that other people had felt that way and managed to return to centre in the end.

Hunkpapa, along with PJ Harvey’s Dry and, later, Bjork’s Homogenic, became my first aid kit, applied whenever I get fragile and frayed.Even before I had my own frame of reference, there’s something visceral about those albums, an honesty that makes them compulsive.

Muses songs are also damn good fun and sound fantastic played as loud as possible – don’t let my reference to depression give you the wrong idea. Screeching along to ‘Mania’ is one of the most invigorating ways to spend 3 minutes 2 seconds, and I challenge anyone to get 2 minutes into ‘Rabbits Dying’ without bouncing around. Watch this video for ‘Not Too Soon’ and witness perfect pop.

Tuesday night was another first – the first time I got to see the band play live. I’ve seen Kristin play solo lots of times, and seen her play a whole set of Muses songs, but the sound with the whole band was always going to be different. The gig was breathtaking, even better than I expected it to be. I don’t think I blinked once, especially not in the last part of the show when the pace of their early material was especially intense. I’m not a music writer and I’m sure people who are will describe the set better than I can – I’ll put links here when I come across ‘proper’ reviews.
If you’re a fan and you want to know what it was like, just imagine them playing a selection of their finest songs (the tracklisting of their Anthology would be a good place to start if you lack imagination) for two hours in front of a rapt, reverential audience. ‘Pearl’ and ‘Furious’ from Red Heaven were highlights for me (cos that album will forever remind me of being 17. Plus, Bob Mould. Nuff said). Otherwise, ‘Soul Soldier’ and ‘White Bikini Sand’ were (and could only ever be) gorgeous ways to start and end the set. If you’re not yet a fan, buy that same Anthology cd and get started, eh? There’s a wealth of genius to catch up on.
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