Wednesday, 4 June 2008

June 2008

Sugar Paper; 20 things to make and do. For a start, this looks lovely, with a stylish colour cover. The great look continues inside. I sometimes get a bit jaded about cut and paste. I'm not quite saying it's become an orthodoxy but it can get samey. But here it looks ace with lots of 'just right' images glued in just the right places. As the title suggests the zine's got twenty things for you to do - some crafty and some just fun. The writing style in the 'fun' bits on themed film nights and learning the running man dance move is really amusing. And even if you aren't ever going to do the crafty bits they're still really nice to read - like a sort of craft porn, although I suppose that's a bit in the eye of the beholder. I'll probably never make the felt purse using the kit provided, but I'll definitely give the fairy cakes a go. Contact Kandy and Seleena to buy a copy.
Downloads, MP3s. Blah Blah Blah Hopeless and Lazy. Exploring the lighter side of failure, this lot are quite blokish and skiffly. Nobody would claim they're pushing the envelope musically, but they're much cleverer than they're letting on. Most London bands with wry observational lyrics tend to get lumped in with Squeeze and Madness, but Blah, Blah, Blah are less music hall and more Play For Today. Or at least Eastenders. Good stuff.

CDs. AFUK & I (vol 1) Up the Anti! (Various artists). I've had this for ages and not listened to it until now, but it's well worth checking out. Anti-folk's a pretty nebulous term and this comp CD demonstrates how broad a category it is. Accordingly, some of the tracks I could take or leave, but there are some gems. My favourites are the countryish My Bike by Mertle, which is like folk music with the shit bits taken out, and the South London blues of Milk Kan's Gather Round, Motherfuckers. Other recommendations are the Hitchcockian psych pop of Sergeant Buzfuz's Too Stupid and the shifty gallic sounds of The Bobby McGees. I also liked JJ Crash and the Lips' Ape Man which comes over like Wreckless Eric turned folkie. See the Antifolk site for details.

Art. I love the pictures on James Reekie's blog. They seem to divide into two main styles; light-hearted and cartoony or scratchy dark and moody.

Podcasts. The Home Made Hit Show. This is such a great idea. Presented by Dave and Tony, two keen home recording musicians, the focus of the show is discussion of the realities of making music at home, rather than expert advice handed down from on high. The show's aimed at hobbyists rather than wannabe pop stars and is all the better for that. I really like the jokey unscripted rapport between Dave and Tony. The music played is pretty much an unfiltered sample of what home-recorders send in. A lot of it is a bit conventional for my tastes, but it's great to know there are so many people out there doing their stuff. Maybe if I keep listening long enough I'll finally take that 8 track out of its box.

Websites and blogs. Erasing Clouds . Erasing Clouds knock this blog into a cocked hat. Every month it gathers together some really fine critical writing on music, film and other things, created by a dedicated team from across the globe. This site is clearly a huge labour of love and would be worthy of praise for that alone, even if the criticism wasn't as skilfully written as it is. The regular feature, Is it Really a Great Movie? is particularly worth reading and stands as a pretty sound guide to many of the so-called great films of the last 70 odd years.