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Words, music and the return of the Tenuous Lynx: The Liebster award (again!)…

It’s awards season again, with all the hype, scandal and controversy which that entails.
With outrage at the Oscars, grumbling at the Grammy’s and boycotts at the Brits, it’s good to know that there’s one place where prize-giving is still a polite and pleasurable pastime; The Blogosphere.

I’ve been extremely honoured recently, (and throughout my blogging adventure) in that I have received several award nominations on Diary of an Internet Nobody from a wide variety of other bloggers, who have very possibly taken a wrong turn and found themselves diverted to this little backwater, on an obscure side road off the information superhighway.

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The Liebster Award was, in fact, the very first one I was nominated for, way back in September 2012, so it’s nice to know that it’s still being passed around the blogging community.

As always, there are a whole set of rules that come with these awards, although they seem to vary considerably, depending on which version you receive.
However, since I never follow the rules anyway it won’t be problem deciding which ones are most relevant to me, (which is fortunate, as I probably wouldn’t qualify under at least two of the variations) but that doesn’t mean I’m any less grateful to be nominated.

This incarnation of the award comes via Brittany at blg2011motherof2, so thank you Brittany, I’m delighted to accept it.

I have decided to bestow my nominations on the last eleven bloggers to follow me, as the number eleven appears to be a feature of award this time around and it seems to be a nice way of showing my gratitude and appreciation to my new readers.
(That’s about the only similarity though, so if you are nominated and want to follow the original rules, go HERE to check them out.)

image I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can tell a lot about people from their taste in music, so instead of telling you a lot of useless facts about myself that you’ll instantly forget, I shall once again be employing the Tenuous Lynx principle, to connect my nominees to songs, bands or albums that I’m fond of, in the hope that you’ll discover something new and interesting to enjoy whilst perusing the blogs I’ve chosen.

Ready?

1) Sass and sauce – for cookery, cats and more.
Connected to: G. Love and Special Sauce and “Baby’s got sauce”…

2) Amy Parker – from thoughtful articles to short stories.
Connected to: Amy Winehouse “Live at the BBC”…

3) This thing called life, one word at a time – life, poetry and fiction.
Connected to: Richard Ashcroft and the United Nations of Sound with, of course, “This thing called life”…

4) My daily musing – ships, smiles and spirituality.
Connected to: Muse and my favourite track by them, “Plug in baby”…

5) Sableyes – dogs, motorcycles, tech and fiction.
Connected to: “Eyes wide open” by Aussie YouTube sensation Gotye

6) Shirley Blamey – personal journal with plenty of heart and humour.
Connected to: Garbage‘s Shirley Manson used to be a backing singer in Scottish rockers Goodbye Mr Mackenzie from whom we get “The Rattler”

7) Pass the bubble wrap – frank, moving and a little mad, a new blog from Australia.
Connected to: “The Bubblemen are coming” by The Bubblemen (aka Love and rockets)

8) Melting ice towers – impressive creative writing blog from two students in Nairobi.
Connected to: unhinged Japanese punk-pop loons, Melt Banana and their “Fetch” album…

9) A covert narcissist’s wife – emotional and raw, a cathartic blog written with a brutal honesty.
Connected to: “Malignant narcissism” by awesome Canadian prog trio, Rush

10) Café book bean – couldn’t be clearer; enjoy a book and a coffee? Come on in.
Connected to: classical/folk oddballs, Penguin Café Orchestra and the strangely beautiful “Music for a found harmonium”…

11) Greenland diaries – intriguing and atmospheric post-apocalyptic fantasy fiction blog from a self-published American author.
Connected to: what else? “Greenland” by Oregon electronica musician/producer, Emancipator

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So there you have it; 11 new blogs for you to check out, 11 musical nuggets to entertain you, giving you 11 new insights into my psyche (possibly), I hope you find something to make your day more interesting.

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{Toons by Ho}

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Just Jot It January: Day eleven – Ashes and Heroes…

image I almost wish I didn’t have anything to write about today for Just Jot It January.
You know me, I’ll waffle on quite happily about any old rubbish, don’t get me wrong, but this challenge forces me to try and come up with an original or topical subject every day and today has brought me one that I really don’t want to have to write about.

Or rather, I’ve got to write about it for a reason I wish I didn’t have.

The Cracked Actor, The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Major Tom; all names synonymous with originality and eclectic musical genius, all of whom would be worthy of the plaudits and tributes of their peers, even if they had only made individual contributions to our understanding of what makes popular music such an unquantifiable medium to express artistic individuality.

Except of course, we know that these flamboyant and larger than life characters were all facets of the same unique and groundbreaking artist, the one of a kind cultural chameleon who was David Bowie.

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I quite literally didn’t believe it this morning, when the very first story on my Facebook newsfeed informed me that possibly the greatest musical hero of my generation was no longer with us.

It’s difficult to imagine a British musical landscape without the genre-defying presence of a man who saw no incongruity in a career that embraced musical forms that included glam, pop, rock, new wave, dance and blue eyed soul, as well as an indefinable style that can only be described as Bowie-esque.
His influence and inspiration are so ingrained in our musical heritage, so far reaching and ubiquitous, that the idea of him no longer surprising us with another unpredictable reinvention is almost unthinkable.

If Mick Jagger had announced that the Rolling Stones were going to release a trip hop concept album, I suspect (no, I hope) that he would have been roundly mocked and told that he should leave that sort of thing to the youngsters.
And yet, when Bowie brought out a Drum and Bass record at the age of fifty, nobody batted an eyelid, because he’s David Bowie and that’s exactly the sort of thing we had grown to expect from him.

I mean, if one artist can produce a bombastic rock masterpiece and an ultra-slick soul classic in two consecutive years, then, musically speaking, all bets are off.
Which is precisely what made it so difficult for an industry obsessed with pigeonholing, to pin down a man whose hunger for change and personal discovery put him outside the normal definition of a pop star.
Because that is exactly why we loved him; we just didn’t know what he was going to do next.

The man who started his career as plain old Davy Jones achieved something that few, if any, musicians have managed before or since; to become an accessible and populist teen idle, an enigmatic underground cult figure, a genuine, stadium-filling Rock God, a movie star, a consistently original and influential visual artist and an almost universally loved national treasure and the true wonder of his astonishing legacy is that none of this seemed in the least bit contradictory or contrived.

I can’t remember a time in my life that hasn’t been soundtracked by David Bowie’s music.
Whether it was hearing the quirky psychedelia of The Laughing Gnome on Radio One’s Junior Choice as a kid, seeing the extraordinary video for Ashes To Ashes for the first time, or the shiver of emotion that came from hearing him tell the crowd that “You are the real heroes of this concert” at Live Aid, Bowie has always been at the forefront of innovation and he personifies what makes pop music such a fascinating art form.

I was initially shocked at how much emotion was stirred up by today’s sad news, but I suppose that, given the fact that here was a man who provided the soundtrack to my entire life, I shouldn’t be surprised that writing this post has caused a certain dampness around the eyes and a little difficulty in swallowing the lump in my throat.

I leave you with two milestones in a career that has spanned half a century of musical transformations; first the story of probably his most memorable creation, Ziggy Stardust, followed by his most recent release, Blackstar.

Goodbye and thank you Major Tom, it’s now time to leave the capsule if you dare.

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David Robert Jones: 08/01/47 – 10/01/16.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Melodic Randomiser Unspooled 3…

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Welcome back to the fragile plastic box of delights that is the prequel to the CD Melodic Randomiser, a selective plundering of my huge collection of cassette tapes, some of which are approaching forty years old and still going strong.

This selection is made up of music from the eighties and early nineties (the closing half of the cassette’s glory days) both from this side of the Atlantic and the other, not to mention the other side of the border and across the Irish Sea too.

The first of today’s trio is one of two compilations, this is one called Absolution and is themed around what I suppose you would call the indie-goth sound.

The first half is livelier, more spiky and abrasive, with side two demonstrating the introspective side of the genre, building to an angry, bass driven, post-punk classic.

I keep feeling the need to use that word, classic, but it can be applied to so many songs here, including this, from arch-miserablists Echo and the Bunnymen and their 1983 hit, The Cutter

…then there is this, my all-time favourite David Bowie cover, the Bauhaus version of Ziggy Stardust.

Closing side one is a bona fide goth anthem, The Jesus and Mary Chain with the wondrous Some Candy Talking.

Side two starts softly and becomes darker as it goes on, with Enjoy the Silence from Depeche Mode

…followed by the surprisingly gentle and sophisticated tones of The Stranglers with this, European Female

…and Absolution ends with a thundering beast of a song, New Model Army‘s No Rest, which is so good, I’m giving you the full album.

You’re welcome.

Tape two is another much-played favourite, a solo project from Husker Dü frontman, Bob Mould, and I’ve chosen the single, If I Can’t Change Your Mind from Sugar‘s 1992 album, Copper Blue.

If you like that and want to hear more, you can listen to the whole album HERE.

Which brings us to the last of my random selections for today, a slightly poppier affair, compiling some upbeat chart hits from Scottish and Irish bands of the nineties, from which I’ve picked Orange Juice and their biggest single, Rip It Up

…this unlikely hit from the fabulously named Goats Don’t Shave and Las Vegas (in the hills of Donegal)

…and I’m finishing this third dip into my magnetic archives with an absolute, genuine, fully-fledged, copper-bottomed pop (yep, I’m gonna use that word again) “classic”, the sublime Somewhere In My Heart from Roddy Frame‘s Aztec Camera.

Go on, sing along, you know you want to.

I hope you can join me again soon for the next spool back into the past and in the meantime, remember…
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Posted by on August 9, 2015 in Melodic Randomiser, Music, Video

 

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Melodic Randomiser: Day seven…

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Another generation-spanning mix of tunes today, starting with a track by strangely underrated UK rock band, A, from their 2001 “Hi-fi Serious” album here’s Starbucks.

As unlikely though it may be, the segue from that, into the elfin psychedelia of Marc Bolan and T.Rex wasn’t as odd as you’d assume and revisiting his greatest hits again was a joy as always.
Whether you’re an old fan or a willing explorer of new sounds, treat yourself to some classic songs and free your inner hippy…

…who may also be interested in reliving the heyday of eccentric English sonic experimentation with the great Delia Derbyshire from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
My old mate Ho gave me a collection of their work a few Christmases back and here is one you’ll all recognise, young and old alike – The (original and best) Dr Who theme.

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Which brings us to the second full album from today’s selection, as groundbreaking in its own way as anything the BBC sound boffins came up with.

A cartoon band.

It is of course, Gorillaz.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2014 in Arts, Melodic Randomiser, Music

 

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Melodic Randomiser: Day five…

Another unseasonably pleasant December day, this one spent in the bright winter sunshine of Exmoor National Park on a visit to my old friend Chris.
We took the opportunity to pop into a local country pub for a bite to eat, enjoyed the bright winter sunshine on his dad’s farm and fed peppermints to the horses, a perfect Sunday afternoon.

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As for music, this morning we began with “Classics”, a greatest hits compilation by techno terrorist The Aphex Twin, featuring such favourites as Didgeridoo, changing pace somewhat when we returned from our countryside excursion with percussionist Patrick Dawes and his fabulously inventive “Circus Train” CD.
***Listen HERE for full album***

I like something a bit lively to cook dinner to, so it was fortunate that next off the shelf was Muse and their mighty “Origin Of Symmetry” album.
Get out your air guitar and rock along to this…

…or if you like something a little more acoustic, why not give yourself a taste of my final selection of the day, Alex Lloyd and the haunting yet jaunty “Watching Angels Mend”.
Here’s my favourite track, Amazing.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Arts, Blogging, Melodic Randomiser, Music

 

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Melodic Randomiser: Day four…

Somehow an inadvertent element of order has crept into proceedings today, if only because both selections playing at the time chosen for this post are on the same label, Ninja Tune.
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First up is Brazilian DJ extraordinaire, Amon Tobin, with hisOut From Out Where” album, which you can enjoy here in it’s entirety…

…followed by the far more laid back electronica / acoustic noodling of Hint and “Portakabin Fever”
Again, the full album follows on from this track, Actory.

No need to thank me.
Happy Saturday.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2014 in Ho., Melodic Randomiser, Music

 

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The best ’80s flashback in the world. Ever! – Volume two…

Hey there synth-pop pickers, welcome to the second sensational segment of retro reminiscences from that long ago land of Logic System and League Unlimited Orchestra, the 1980’s.

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   The Ultimate ’80s Synth-Pop Superstar.  (exclusive toon by Ho)

My taste in music is very eclectic and I have a huge number of albums by a wide variety of artists spread across many genres.
A dedicated vinyl junkie from an early age, I nevertheless finally succumbed to the tinny, soulless, glorified coaster format that is the CD in the mid nineties, surviving up until then on a diet of second hand record shops and increasingly badly made cassette tapes (a format unlikely to succeed in making a nostalgia-fueled comeback anytime soon) and now of course I have a whole pack of memory cards stuffed full of mp3 files.

My favoured method of buying music has always been to plunder second hand record shops, sale racks in local independent music stores and charity shops, looking for, well, nothing in particular.
But I’ll generally find something that I’ve never heard of (which is an important consideration; Why buy something you already know? Expand your musical horizons, there’s so much music out there you haven’t heard yet)
Whether it’s because I’ve heard an artist I liked on the same label, or I like the mix of instruments on an album, or some other indefinable something which grabs me, I’m very rarely wrong in thinking I’m going to enjoy the music I buy and I’ve discovered some fantastic things along the way.

(There is a fair sample of my vinyl and CD collection in the video I made, Klone, for which I also created the music.
If you’ve not seen it yet, you can WATCH IT HERE.)

Back in the ’80s though, things were a lot simpler.
We didn’t have dozens of sub-genres and ever-expanding categories of music types to puzzle over before we knew if were even looking in the right rack, we just had to look at the cover;
If it had men with leather trousers, open shirts, long hair and guitars (or dragons, half-naked women and flames) it was Rock.
If it had serious looking speccy nerds, trying their damndest to look surly whilst twiddling knobs on a tiny keyboard sprouting wires, (or geometric graphics/futuristic landscapes) it was synth-pop.

I’d buy 7″ and 12″ singles by bands I knew nothing about, purely on the strength of the sleeve, knowing full well that there would be some new bleepy noises and clattering electronic rhythms that I hadn’t heard before, never tiring of the range of sounds that could be achieved with this emergent new musical technology.

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One of the most inventive bands from the period were a Swiss duo that featured national golfing star, poker player, industrialist and concept artist, Dieter Meier on vocals, with suave composer and musician Boris Blank on electronics, samples and pretty much everything else.

Yello are masters of peculiar noises, catchy melodies, strange vocal quirks and complex percussion patterns. Still producing their unique take on electro-pop today, they are one of the most prolific electronic groups of the last thirty years.

Sporting some of the most ludicrously styled hair in pop, A Flock of Seagulls were the indie band of synth-pop, using sweeping keyboard melodies combined with phasing guitar riffs to create some great tunes, some of which wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio today.

Here’s their greatest hits compilation, I bet you remember more hits than you realise…

Other bands I was listening to around the same time that I discovered Yello (something else my old mate Chris introduced me to) include this pioneering dance act, 400 Blows,..

…the darkly gothic electronica of Cabaret Voltaire,..

…and the oddly named Our Daughter’s Wedding

A big part of the attraction of the early synth-pop scene (or Cold Wave, to give it it’s cool genre title) was the number of earworm-heavy one (or two) hit wonders. The sort of things recently labelled “guilty pleasures”,  as if we shouldn’t really be enjoying perfectly crafted, cheerfully catchy pop music, except in an ironic, patronising way.

In tribute to these glorious anthems to school disco dance floors and Christmas office parties everywhere, here are a few of my completely un-ironic favourites.

Flash and the Pan

Propaganda

Freur
(One of these impeccably dressed gentlemen is Karl Hyde of rave-genius duo, Underworld)

Naked Lunch

Men Without Hats

And despite not qualifying, as it falls just outside the eighties in 1979, I’m including this too.
Because in any list of great pop music, you’ve got to have Pop Muzik.

M

One of the things that prompted all this eighties nostalgia was the discovery of a very fine internet radio station called Soma FM and their Underground ’80s channel.
If you want to check out some more sounds from a time when all the bleepy noises were new, YOU CAN LISTEN HERE.,

Now, where did I put my leg-warmers…?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Animation, Arts, Music, Personal anecdote

 

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