A Blog's Life Top 10 Totally Off Topic

10 Things I Loved In 2013

Releasing my first ever solo EP Let’s Build An Airport was the major milestone for me but here’s 10 other highlights of the year.

The Rise of LFC

The massive turnaround in all areas of Liverpool Football Club, but especially the performance of SAS, the blossoming of Suarez into one of the best players in the world and of course the fall of Man Utd.

Discovering Cormac McCarthy

6 books 2 plays and 3 films so far. His lean style, profound dialogue, dark subject matter and old testament overtones create books that sink deep into your psyche.

Nottingham Music Thrives

Though posterboy Jake Bugg and new signings Indiana and Saint Raymond grab the headlines, they really are the tip of the iceberg. Nottingham continues to thrive and newer bands like Sea Monster Eyes, Privateers, Field Studies and Injured Birds excite me the most.


Mysterious Mostar is the partron saint of the Skyless LFC fan and the underground prophet of the match highlights videos. Thank you – whoever you are!

Bill Bailey does Billy Bragg for Billy Bragg

Brain Pickings

Addictive and profound – sign up for Maria Popova’s newsletter

Whole Lotta Helter Skelter

I interviewed Soundhog here. His mashup and video are both things of beauty.

Bad Lip Reading

Along with Honest Trailers and How It Should Have Ended, BLR supplied the lols.

Carragher & Neville Double Act

Sky turned MUFC’s most hated player into a universally respected pundit a few seasons ago. This year they did it again with LFC’s Jamie Carragher and created an entertaining and knowledgable double act.

Arctic Monkeys Regain Their Mojo

After two classic albums and two dour and miserable affairs it seems like the clouds are lifting and the Monkeys have a spring in their step once more.

Click on the links for my top 10 music, books and films of 2013

Top 10

Top 10 Albums of 2013*

1) The Wilderness – ks Rhoads

There’s nothing lower case about ks’s (?) epic soundscapes. His debut album also contains some great tracks (Dark Hotel for one) but The Wilderness has been stuck on my mp3 player ALL YEAR LONG. You can check out the free sampler on noisetrade.

2) Clothes You Can’t Outgrow – Mountain Schmountain
2) Saturn Mexico – The Black Heartthrobs

Equal second – two self-released albums available on Bandcamp. Nottingham’s Mountain Schmountain write some of the most original songs on the planet (check out Unnatural Stances for one) and L.A.’s The Black Heartthrobs crankout super-melodic super-feelgood noisy indie rock.

4) Let It Beast/DJ BC presents The Beastles – DJ BC 

Hard to pick between The Beastles 3 albums and these two are neck and neck – but why not download em all and make your own Beatles/Beastie Boys mashupmixtape

5) Live at Electrical Audio – David Bazan

Bazan’s live in the studio ‘best of’ contains my favourite version of Magazine

6) The Riddle (Expanded Edition) – Nik Kershaw

30 years on this album still hold up as a shining example of uber clever hooky pop writing

7) Beardytron 5000 mkII debut Pune, India – Beardyman

Beardyman unleashes the power of several ipad, and incredible set of vocal chords and a musical genius brain. Powerful grooves, athletic melodicism and at least one hilarious trainwreck in completely improvised live set.

8) Stack-A-Tracks – Jellyfish

Just the backing tracks from 2 classic 90’s albums. A heartbreaking work of staggering pop genius.

9) Great Balls Of Fire! – The Best of  – Jerry Lee Lewis

They didn’t call him the killer for nothing.

10) EI8HT – Nik Kershaw

Brillaint tracks like Runaway, The Sky’s The Limit and The Bell rub shoulders with others that are merely very good.

honourable mentions

Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin

It may have some average tracks but it demonstrates what it means to be an album.

The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind – Ben Folds Five

A perfecly credible return from BFF boosted by a handful of awesome tracks like Draw A Crowd, Erase Me and the title track.

Check out
The Black Heartthrobs on Beatles-influenced songwriting
DJ BC Interview
Ben Folds Five on Sodajerker podcast

*as always these are merely the albums I heard in 2013.

Arranging Great Bassists Quotes

A Band Is The Space Between Members

Everybody is familiar with the concept that something is more than just the sum of the parts (John+Paul+George+Ringo=The Beatles) but Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones has a unique twist on that

I think the problem with most modern bands is that all the band members listen to the same music, which makes for a very one-dimensional sound. We never listened to the same music.

[Logic suggests that a band in which everyone goes in different directions is a band ripe for conflict -]

No not at all. We considered it valuable. I’ve always maintained that Led Zeppelin was the spaces between us. Bonzo was into soul music and Motown ballads; I was into jazz and classical music; Jimmy was into rockabilly, blues and folk; and Robert was into blues and Elvis Presley. None of us had the same record collection. Nobody on the outside of the band could understand this.

But it was very clear to me why it worked. We all loved music and liked learning about new things. Each of our individual record collections was interesting to everyone else.

John Paul Jones in Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page – Brad Tolinski (p.103)

If you recruit a band who all share your love for Nirvana, you will sound like Nirvana. But if you bassist is into Primus and your drummer digs Mumford & Sons, you won’t sound like any of them. You will sound like something new.

And isn’t that the point?

Great Guitarists

Ladies and Gentlemen – John Pointer!

Here’s the truly amazing John Pointer, Texas based multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, composer and actor. Watch him doing alone what it took 4 members of Led Zeppelin to do, armed only with a guitar, delay pedal, flight case and healthy set of lungs. Amazing…Kashmir – Solo Acoustic performance by John Pointer (Short) from John Pointer on Vimeo.Related Posts: John Piper vs. Led Zeppelin
Yuri Lane

Multicultural Worship: From Cape Town To Brazil (Via Cambridge)

If you ever needed proof that the planet is becoming a global village here’s a song by Brenton Brown (a South African) written while he was part of a church in Cambridge UK, translated into Portuguese, performed by Brazilians, in the style of classic British rock band Led Zeppelin.

So what’s not to like?

Related Posts: This is SO wrong #1
John Piper vs. Led Zeppelin


Loud, Louder, Loudest

Rock music documentaries seems to be the cinematic soup du jour at the moment (ain’t I talkin’ fancy!)

First up here’s one I really enjoyed Iron Maiden: Flight 666. I was impressed by the genuine camaraderie show by the band, and the mature attitude to personal space they have, playing golf, taking their kids along on tour, sight seeing and, yes, flying 757 jets.

Here’s one not on release yet but looks fascinating, It Might Get Loud. Jimmy Page, The Edge & Jack White in an aircraft hangar, talking about guitars…

And last, one that looks funny and heartbreaking at the same time, The Story Of Anvil.
I wonder if the whole thing is a laugh at Anvil’s expense, rather like the awful singers always set up to fail in the early rounds of The Pop Factor’s Got Talent?

Related Posts: John Piper vs. Led Zeppelin
My top 5 weirdest gigs

Zach Nielsen saw one first.


John Piper vs Led Zeppelin

This song was already cool, but quoting John Piper over a drum sample from ‘When the levee breaks’? That’s too much cool.

Lecrae & Tadashii with Red Letter performing ‘Send Me’ – Live at Mars Hill Church (Ballard) in Seattle.