My picture of the decade


On a personal level this sums up the noughties for me. It is Lola,
aged seven months on the anti-Iraq war demonstration on Feb 15th 2003.

Loads of good things happened in this decade – the explosion of the
web, serious investment in education and the health service and of
course Arsenal’s unbeaten team of 2003-2004. But the best was the
arrival of Lola and Astrid, and one of the worst was the stupid Iraq
war and all that it has brought the world, the UK and the Labour
party. I really hope one day Tony says sorry.

Anyhow after a couple of hours of demonstrating we had to take Lola off
for a feed. It really does seem like a lifetime ago

Magpies and Eccles Cakes – The Smittens

Wonderful song that reminds me of The Magenetic Fields at the peak of their 69 Love Songs powers. The album is real grower. I love it that there are so many US bands whose starting point for their music is twee 80s British indie pop. Sarah Records has a lot to answer for (in a good way tho)

My top 24 albums of 2009

In my book there’s no point in having a personal blog if you can’t share a few tunes, so here’s my favourite music of 2009

I think it has been a fantastic year for albums with some great new bands (Soundcarriers, Orphans and Vandals) and some returns to form from my old heroes (Luke Haines, Darren Hayman)

Anyhow here’s the list with a sprinkling of videos – please share yours

1 The Clientele – Bonfires on the heath – Their best album so far, beautiful jangly autumnal tunes that stay in your head for days. The nearest thing to an English Fleet Foxes. A perfect pop album.

2 The Soundcarriers – Like all the cool bits of your record collection (West Coast Pop Art/John Barry/Stereolab) mixed into one.

3 Orphans and Vandals – I am alive and you are dead – Like the Velvet Underground fronted by Scott Walker. An amazingly original album which has in Argyll Square, my favourite song of the year


4 The Horrors – Primary Colours – An astonishing re-invention. All the best bit of the early 80s distilled into one discordant but joyful album

5 Robyn Hitchcock – Goodnight Oslo – Not as good as Ole Tarantula but a beautiful selection of songs. Peter Buck’s chiming guitar on the title track send shivers down your spine.

6 Pram Town – Darren Hayman – A concept album about Harlow new town doesn’t sound promising, but this is the ex-Hefner bloke’s best album in a decade

7 Luke Haines – 21st Century Man – Another fantastic return to form – English Southern Man, an homage to Surrey, is classic Auteurs.

8 The Pains of being pure at heart – Glorious mid 80s influenced American indie. Fuzzy guitars and sugary sweet tunes

9 Mr Solo – Wonders never cease – Quintessentially English psych pop (with a dash of glam) from the genius behind David Devant

10 Shadow Kabinet – Smiling Worlds Apart –Sergeant Pepper in miniature. A must for anyone who loved The Orgone Box

11 God help the girl – Not as good as it should have been, but plenty of fun singalong tunes and a couple of mini classics.

12 Atlas Sound – Logos – Great Beck-like album. Walkabout has one of the best samples ever on an indie tune

13 The Church – Untitled 23 – Beautiful dreamy psych which, unbelievably, is the band’s 23rd album

14 Cocktail Slippers – Norwegian girl garage punkers whose Valentine’s Day Massacre is a perfect pop tune.

15 The Girls – Album – If Teenage FanClub had come from California. Wonderful lo-fi sunny pop tunes

16 Michael Nyman/MacAlmont – The Glare – Dramatic pop tunes squeezed out of Nyman’s film music. When it works, it is amazing.

17 Morrissey – Years of Refusal – Some rattling good noisy pop tunes and a few duds too, but one of his better solo albums

18 The Raveonettes – In and out of control – Diminishing returns from the Danish duo, but still enough fuzz pop to keep me interested

19 Shirley Lee – Spearmint singer’s solo album which sounds a great deal like his band, but not quite as inspirational

20 Echo and the Bunnymen – The Fountain – Mac’s been listening to a few too many Coldplay albums for my liking, but this has 4/5 really strong songs

21 The Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder – Makes your ears smile – Wonderfully uplifting DIY English power pop

22 The Duckworth Lewis Method – The best album about cricket ever made, though I thought I’d play it more than I have

23 A Camp – Colonia – More sultry country-esque tunes from Nina Persson

24 Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications – Not a patch on his debut, but still very enjoyable in places

TechCrunch takes a pop at Demand/aol’s fast food media, yet shows little grace


Missed this yesterday

Essentially Arrington takes a real pop at Demand and aol who are constructing a huge amount of content purely based on what people are searching for and suprise surprise, making lots of money out of it.

Contrast this with old media which is basically going though the equivalent of an industrial revolution.

It is worth mentioning too that many people on both sides of the Atlantic have written similar stories especially relating to aol and Demand. So he isn’t really saying anything new here.

PersonalIy I think Arrington lays it on a bit thick. TechCrunch has on many occassions chased easy readers with sensationalist headlines, search engine friendly articles and other media tricks. Not that I have an issue with this as all online media does it. They wouldn’t survive if they didn’t. However if you are going to take the moral high ground make sure you really are clean.

Secondly his comments about about aol’s journalists really stink

‘Hiring a bunch of people who couldn’t keep their old media jobs and don’t have the stomach to go out on their own’ that is so condescending. From bitter experience I know how hard it is for a journalist to make money from online content in the UK. Also I have many talented friends who are finding it very hard to make freelance journalism stack up. It is bloody tough out there.

He concludes

‘Forget fair and unfair, right and wrong. This is simply happening. The disruptors are getting disrupted, and everyone has to adapt to it or face the consequences. Hand crafted content is dead. Long live fast food content, it’s here to stay.’

Ultimately I am sure he is right, but just as TV has dumbed down to give people what they really want, so now will online news. And if companies are responding to what people are searching for then maybe we only have ourselves to blame.

Where this leaves old media, or even UK indie media for that matter, is anyone’s guess…

My augmented reality app wishlist


There has been a lot of talk in these parts of augmented reality phone apps today and how they might be the big thing for 2010. Which reminded me Anna wrote this great piece detailing her AR wishlist a few months back. The Party Conversation Layer would be amazing – you’d have to be really subtle about how you pointed the phone at the person though