Wednesday 31 October 2012

The City Is Ablaze! - The story of a post-punk popzine, 1984–1994

The City Is Ablaze!
The story of a post-punk popzine, 1984–1994

What they said about Ablaze!:
“There are other people to condemn, Karren – aren’t there?” - Morrissey
“I forgive and hope for Karren A” – Thurston Moore

Ablaze! fanzine was published in Manchester and Leeds in the late eighties and early nineties by Karren Ablaze!

The best bits of this notorious and outspokenly passionately zine are now available in book format, to be published on 5th November 2012. Alongside hundreds of zine pages, The City Is Ablaze! features new writings by Karren and other members of the Ablaze! team, as well as interviews with fanzine writers John Robb (Rox), Dave Haslam (Debris) and Richard Johnson (Grim Humour), essays by DIY cultural commentators Lucy Cage and Deborah Withers, a re-examination of the Riot Grrrl movement, and an epilogue by Gary Jarman.

This 320-page A4 book also covers other zines that Karren produced in Manchester and Leeds between 1984 and 1994, capturing an era where DIY was de rigueur and indie actually meant something.

You’ll be able to read original interviews with the following bands (in chronological order).
Eyeless In Gaza • The Membranes • The Stone Roses • The Inca Babies • Tools You Can Trust • The Bodines • Inspiral Carpets • The Pastels • The Janitors • Happy Mondays • King of the Slums • The Dust Devils • The Shamen • Cud • Sonic Youth • Dinosaur Jr • The Pixies • Throwing Muses • The Sundays • Thrilled Skinny • Rapeman • UT • Dog Faced Hermans • Edsel Auctioneer • Mudhoney • AC Temple • fIREHOSE • Band of Susans • Henry Rollins • Live Skull • Kilgore Trout • The Sun and The Moon • The Breeders • Happy Flowers • Silverfish • The Keatons • The Stretchheads • Pregnant Neck • Mayomberos Alive • Fluff • Archbishop Kebab • Nirvana • Pale Saints • Mercury Rev • The Heart Throbs • Babes in Toyland • American Music Club • Hole • Pavement • My Bloody Valentine • Shudder To Think • The Wedding Present • Leatherface • Nation of Ulysses • Tsunami • Poster Children • Sugar • Moonshake • Hood • Polvo

The book also includes irate letters from Morrissey and Thurston Moore.

The City Is Ablaze! reads like a musical history of the late eighties and early nineties, a history that could only be obtained by surfing the sliproads, sneaking backstage at a thousand shows, sleeping on strangers’ floors and living to type up the tales of the sounds that defined an era.

The City Is Ablaze! can be ordered from or from the address below, for £25 plus £6 p+p in the UK.

Mittens On Publications
145-149 Cardigan Road, Leeds LS6 1JL.
Order enquiries:, 0113 278 0567

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19th Nov. Bonnie "Prince" Billy & Dawn McCarthy release festive single‏

Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie “Prince” Billy - Christmas Eve Can Kill You b/w Lovey Kravezit 7” out 19/11/12 on Domino

What better way to spread holiday cheer and celebrate the season than with the comingling voices of friends? This year, old friends and collaborators Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie “Prince” Billy (Bonnie "Prince" Billy's The Letting Go) present you with a Christmas gift; this new holiday single—comprised of two songs from the Everly Brothers' catalog, Christmas Eve Can Kill You and Lovey Kravezit. From the Seeger Sisters to Elvis, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard; there is a remarkably strong musical tradition of fa-la-la-la-la-ing from country and folk musicians. The two songs on the single also offer a foreshadowing glimpse at Bonny and McCarthy’s forthcoming full length record of Everly Brothers songs; a project that was inspired by the songstress’ young daughters love of the rhythm and blues duo.  In true Everly style, both the single and the LP celebrate and showcase harmony as a medium--which is eminently worthy of attention (and even adulation).

Bonny’s career, which spans over a decade and a half of inspired creative practice; this single marks his first holiday release. Given the depth and dynamism of Bonny and Dawn’s natural harmonic ability, the single is sure to awaken the inner holiday spirit (and beasts) like no other record this season.

Christmas Eve Can Kill You+Lovey Kravezit were recorded in Nashville and is a collective effort by:

Dawn McCarthy, Bonny Billy, Emmett Kelly, Dave Roe, Kenny Malone, Billy Contreras, David Ferguson and Matt Sweeney. Recorded by David Ferguson and Mastered by Paul Oldham.

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Granta 121: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists

Granta 121: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists
Published in Autumn 2012.
Brazil, the great Jorge Amado said, is not a country but a continent. In this latest instalment of the Best of Young Novelists series that introduced Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie, A.L. Kennedy and Zadie Smith, Granta presents the young writers who are telling modern Brazil’s vast and compelling story – and who are its future.

Each of the twenty writers in the issue, which was originally published in Portuguese by Objectiva, will be introduced by a previous Best of Young Novelist, with Adam Thirlwell on Michel Laub, Rachel Seiffert on Vanessa Barbara and Alejandro Zambra on Daniel Galera.

The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists:
Cristhiano Aguiar – 1981
Javier Arancibia Contreras – 1976
Vanessa Barbara – 1982
Carol Bensimon – 1982
Miguel Del Castillo – 1987
J.P. Cuenca – 1978
Laura Erber – 1979
Emilio Fraia – 1982
Julían Fuks – 1981
Daniel Galera – 1979
Luisa Geisler – 1991
Vinicius Jatobá – 1980
Michel Laub – 1973
Ricardo Lísias – 1975
Chico Mattoso – 1978
Antonio Prata – 1977
Carola Saavedra – 1973
Tatiana Salem Levy – 1979
Leandro Sarmatz – 1973
Antônio Xerxenesky – 1984

Source: Granta

Review: Stellar Days – A New Beginning

Stellar Days – A New Beginning (Tanza Records)
Originally formed in 2008, Champaign, Illinois natives Stellar Days suffered a false start, shed a drummer, and returned again in 2011 with a new line-up. Led by Ben Myers (lead vox, rhythm guitar) the group plays a honest-to-goodness form of rock, underpinned with serious themes and a credible alt. pop edge, which hooks the listener almost from the off. Indeed, launch track “Yesterday” warms up with a simple acoustic strum before the electrics kick in, and memories of bands like The Other Kids and late period Replacements are revived.

The rhythm section of drummer Dexter Williams and bass man Woody Deck lay complex foundations for the songs to sit, and Myers and lead guitarist Jarod Tinsley provide plenty of substance. “Walk-Around” features a tremendous loping rhythmic device, and the song is performed with passion. Tinsley adds detail and nuance, and if things like singles mattered anymore, “Walk-Around” would be bound for radio.

“Miss Jane” opts for a more traditional rock approach, it’s choppy guitars and old-school lyric will please many and “Break-Up Song” redresses the balance with something altogether more new-wave - in fact, it’s almost power pop, and no less enjoyable for that. I’m not sure Stellar Days have completely found their musical feet just yet, but there’s plenty of promise on this debut collection and I’m looking forward to hearing what they come up with next.
Rob F.

Stellar Days: A New Beginning

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Bridget Riley receives Dutch art prize

British artist Bridget Riley has become the first woman to receive the Sikkens Prize, a prestigious Dutch art award that recognises the use of colour.

The 81-year-old's work is renowned for its abstract geometrical shapes and for what the Sikkens Foundation called its "purity, subtlety and precision".

To mark the prize, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is hosting an exhibition of her art that will run until June.

"I hope people will find things in it to look at," Riley told The Guardian.

According to the Sikkens Foundation, Riley's use of colour has led to "a sensational oeuvre from which a new generation of artists is drawing inspiration".

The Gemeentemuseum exhibition includes a new 20 metre (65 foot) wall mural, painted by assistants, entitled Composition with Circles 9.

"One of the difficulties that many people seem to have with my work is what they complain of as dazzling," Riley told the BBC in 2010, the year the National Gallery in London presented a major exhibition of her work.

"What I was interested in was visual energy and the dynamics of how you could build up a situation that produced a sensation."

Source: BBC

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Edwyn Collins honoured at music awards

Singer Edwyn Collins has been honoured for his contribution to the music industry, seven years after he almost died from a double brain haemorrhage.

Collins, known for his work with Orange Juice and his 1995 hit A Girl Like You, was recognised at the Association of Independent Music (AIM) Awards.

New mother Adele was crowned the most played independent act at the ceremony, held at The Brewery in east London.

The awards honour the best acts signed to the UK's independent record labels.

Collins, 53, was left unable to walk, talk or read after suffering a stroke and two haemorrhages in 2005.

But the Scot recovered enough to record again, work as a producer and publish a book of his illustrations of British birds.

Collins was in attendance to collect his outstanding contribution award from his friends and collaborators Vic Godard and Frankie and the Heartstrings.

Daniel Miller, founder of Mute Records, also received an honorary award at Monday's event, hosted by BBC DJs Huw Stephens and Steve Lamacq.

The Prodigy were named best live act, while Enter Shikari's A Flash of Colour was named independent album of the year.

Source: BBC

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Daniel Day-Lewis donates poet father's archive

Papers from the archive of poet Cecil Day-Lewis have been donated to Oxford University's Bodleian Libraries by his actor son Daniel and daughter Tamasin.

The archive, never seen in public before, includes a letter from WH Auden to Day-Lewis criticising one of the latter's poems.

It also includes the final stanza of The Newborn, written to mark the birth of Daniel Day-Lewis.
The collection will be celebrated with a day of special events on 30 October.

Tamasin and Daniel Day-Lewis said they were "thrilled" with the archive's new home.

"If the manuscripts had ended up outside the country it would have saddened us all as a family as the poets who became papa's lifelong friends and peers all met up at Oxford as undergraduates," they said in a joint statement.

Cecil Day-Lewis was one of the most notable Anglo-Irish poets of the 20th Century.

He studied classics at Wadham College, Oxford from 1923 and went on to become a well-known member of the Auden group of poets and intellectuals in the 1930s.

He was elected professor of poetry at Oxford in 1951 and was appointed Poet Laureate in 1968.

He also wrote mystery novels and short stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake.

The collection also includes an early draft of Day-Lewis's elegy for TS Eliot, At East Coker, published in 1970 in his book The Whispering Roots.

There are several hundred correspondents who have contributed to the archive, including letters from the likes of Sir Kingsley Amis, Sir John Betjeman, Sir John Gielgud, Christopher Isherwood and Sir Stephen Spender.

Cecil Day-Lewis died in 1972.

The one-day event to celebrate the donation of the archive will include readings and a discussion of Cecil Day-Lewis's life and work by Tamasin Day Lewis and other scholars.

The Bodleian Libraries form the largest university library system in the UK.

Other major British literary archives held at Bodleian include the archives of Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alan Bennett and John le Carre.

Source: BBC

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Review: Michael Powers - Bluesiana Breeze 3 Decades

Michael Powers - Bluesiana Breeze 3 Decades (Independent)
Something of a curiosity is Michael Powers. A longstanding bluesman with a pedigree going back to Jimmy Reed, his recent output could be said to be somewhat erratic. While 2007’s ‘Prodigal Son’ seemed to herald a mainstream breakthrough with its confident blend of blues, funk and psychedelic rock, later releases including last year’s ‘Revolutionary Boogie’ seemed aimless and disinterested. This new collection gives little away in its sparse and sometimes confusing packaging (even the title ‘Bluesiana Breeze’ has been used before, for a collection of JJ Cale covers), so little prepares the listener for the curate’s egg within.

Instrumental all bar two songs the set draws from sessions which are variously solo acoustic, with full orchestral accompaniment, and with his full Powder Keg touring band, PKB. It’s thereafter that the plot thickens, since for the most part these tunes bare little or no resemblance to his more familiar blues-based material, often positioning themselves somewhere between Jim Hall and Julian Bream. In that respect they show a whole new side to Powers as a musician, being undeniably virtuoso displays of his craft which both engage and impress and collectively make for an admirably enjoyable album, if ultimately begging the question ‘where next?’.
Neil B.

Michael Powers: Bluesiana Breeze 3 Decades

Review: Electric Electric – Discipline

Electric Electric – Discipline (Africantape)
French trio Electric Electric utilise looped and live guitars, drums and electronics, and source inspiration from post-punk, electronic music and ethnic and ritual music.  Edging truncated and obscurely timed loops and circling electronic phrasing with voraciously poly-rhythmical, tribally patterned percussion produces a hypnotic, repetitive and compulsive urge to dance.

Tracks like “Exotica Today” and “Material Boy” are African inspired incantations that evoke the sounds of thumb piano and steel drums; “Pornographic Arithmetic” titillates with Arabic junglism. The title track soars to almost anthemic and epic heights, “XX1” and “XX2” take on a harsher stance whilst “Neutra Tranta” sounds like a machine whirring out of control under its own devices in the middle of the desert.

Review: Brandon White – A Win For Both Sides

Brandon White – A Win For Both Sides (Independent)
From Fort Smith, Arkansas, Brandon White (and his band) are making a name for themselves throughout their home state and are picking up plenty of column inches and radio play all over the web. White released his debut EP, “Streetlight Lullabies” in 2009, and “A Win For Both Sides” is his first full-length outing. Where “Streetlight Lullabies” got his foot in the door, “A Win For Both Sides” should see him kick it down.

Custom built for the world’s arenas, White’s brand of white-knuckle Americana-rock falls somewhere between the blue collar melodicism of Springsteen, the dustbowl riffing of Bon Jovi and The Gaslight Anthem’s unerring energy. How White and his cohorts have managed NOT to come from New Jersey, I don’t know, but to my English ears, it hardly matters, as these songs, first and foremost, sound American - we can leave the details to the locals.

As for the songs themselves, the title track hits first. White’s got just the right voice; weathered and far from pure, and it nails his words to a tune powered by buzzsaw chords. “Bound To Come Along” ebbs and flows, and when the guitars rip into the anthemic chorus, those of a more rowdy disposition may well feel the need to punch the air. When they play it slow and cool on “House of Cards” they’re just as engaging, and hats off to whoever’s responsible for the guitar solo at the end.
Rob F.

Brandon White: A Win for Both Sides

Terry Callier, US soul jazz singer, dies at 67

Chicago-born singer-songwriter Terry Callier, who collaborated with Massive Attack and Beth Orton, has died at the age of 67.

Callier, who began his career at 17 when he signed to Chess records, recorded his final album in 2009.

Hidden Conversations was written and produced with Bristol collective Massive Attack.

He also worked on Orton's Mercury prize nominated album, Central Reservations. Callier died in hospital in Chicago.

The news was confirmed by record label Mr Bongo, which worked with him on six albums between 2001 and 2009.

His funeral will take place on 3 November in his home city and a memorial is planned for London. The date is yet to be announced.

Many musicians have taken to Twitter and YouTube to pay tribute to the jazz and soul musician.

Orton shared a YouTube video with fans, saying: "This was one of the best nights of my life. Such a privilege and joy - RIP dear Terry Callier."

'Dynamite neighbourhood'

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans posted: "The world has lost another beautiful voice. Rest in peace Terry Callier."

Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody posted a video of Callier's track Ordinary Joe, saying: "Terry Callier RIP. A great soul-folk legend. A sad day."

David Buttle, founder of Mr Bongo, wrote on the company's website: "I first worked with Terry when recording him at the Jazz Cafe in Camden, London in the late 90s. This was a spiritual home for Terry's fans; most nights that he played you could hear a pin drop when he sang and many people passed out, overwhelmed by the light that shone from him."

Callier was born on 24 May, 1945.

He grew up singing alongside soul singers Jerry Butler, Major Lance and Curtis Mayfield.

"That was a dynamite neighbourhood. All of us were doo-woping at the time in different groups," Callier wrote on his MySpace page.

He released his first single Look at me now in 1963.

Callier released three jazz-funk albums in the 1970s but in the 1980s, he left music behind after he was granted custody of his only daughter Sundiata, and re-trained as a computer programmer.

"When I got custody of my daughter I had to give up music to raise her properly, she needed me and the music business just didn't seem like a viable option at that point," Callier said, although he continued to perform.

His music career was resurrected in the early 1990s when his Chess/Cadet recordings were re-discovered by acid jazz fans in the UK.

He sang vocals on Massive Attack's single Live With Me, which was released in 2006.

Source: BBC

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