Tuesday 28 December 2010

McJunk on Facebook

McJunk has finally made it to Facebook. Uploaded already are the original Polaroid photographs that started the whole thing off 10 years ago. This is currently the only place where these are viewable, except the one published here, which is the only Polaroid image to make it into the book after the rest were culled.


Sunday 26 December 2010

This is what a year sounds like 2010

OK, here goes the annual round up of everything I've bought, downloaded, borrowed and been given music wise in 2010.

I tend to judge what I consider to be the best on the amount I've returned to things throughout the year. On that basis, Liars' 'Sisterworld' and These New Puritans' 'Hidden' have got to be up there, as has Sufjan Steven's 'All Delighted People' EP. Massive Attack's broody 'Heligoland' also became a repeat player at various points throughout 2010.

On the pop front, the Gorillaz album and Momford & Sons were on constant replay in the car for a while but I haven't gone back to either since the summer.

Some albums have grown on me the more I've left them alone. For example, I thought The National's 'High Violet' hugely disappointing compared to the first single and having given it several goes after buying it, it was confined to the bottom reaches of my iPod until a few weeks ago when I gave it another go. I'm now really getting into it. Similarly Gil Scott Heron's 'Im New Here' (particularly New York Is Killing Me).

Bonny 'Prince' Billy continues to disappoint (has he peeked?) and Grinderman equally failed to impress with their second release, just as they did with their first.

I've been loving the Crass reissues, which were remarkably well timed to coincide with the student anti-fees demos and the word 'anarchists' being bandied about the news again. Spooky. Two other conjunctions included buying the first Big Audio Dynamite CD and some of Elvis Costello's back catalogue. This first was prompted by a visit to the Mick Jones's Rock & Roll Public Library and the second by visiting Process, the Barney Bubbles exhibition; oh and the fact that the new Elvis Costello release was Jools Holland fodder, (that's an insult by the way, in case you couldn't tell).

However, if nothing else, 2010 for me was the year I 'got' jazz. First up was going to see The Ex with Brass Unbound in Tufnell Park which is definitely up there with one of the best gigs I've ever seen. The melding of frenetic choppy riff laden and African rhythm influenced punk with an amaziningly chaotic freeform brass jazz band blew me away. Then came Jerry Dammer's Spacial AKA Orkestra in Brighton which was a joy from start to finish, particularly hearing the reworkings of Ghost Town and Man at C&A. And then, what has got to be the best release of the year for me, the one I keep returning to the most, is Polar Bear's 'Peepers'. Prompted by reviews and bored with many other styles of music, I gave it a punt. Truly astounding musicianship constantly on the verge of falling apart. Organised sonic chaos indeed. Thoroughly looking forward to seeing them when they play Ipswich in April.

These three events alongside gifts and purchases of The Ex's jazz collaborations past and present prompted a borrowing of selected CDs from a jazz buff work colleague (thanks Dave). The Bad Plus and Esbjörn Svensson Trio's 'Leucocyte' have both been big hits for me (although on borrowing other EST stuff, Leucocyte seems to have been a lucky break). And now I'm the proud owner of a box set of DVDs about Jazz courtesy of a Christmas present from Claire that I'm sure will influence my musical tastes for 2011.

The list…

Ian Dury - New Boots and Panties

Heavy Trash - Midnight Soul Serenade

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Radiohead - In Rainbows Disk 2

Radiohead - These Are My Twisted Words

These New Puritans - Hidden

The Imagined Village - Empire & Love

The Maccabees feat Roots Manuva - Empty Vessels

The Ex - Double Order, Maybe I Was The Pilot

The Ex + Tom Cora - Scrabbling At The Lock

Massive Attack - Heligoland

Seasick Steve - Man From Another Time

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Kollaps Tradixionales

Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here

BangStick! - Ring of Salt

The Selecter - Too Much Pressure

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

Dans Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - The Logic of Chance

Autechre - Oversteps

Liars - Sisterworld

Bonnie 'Prince' Billie - The Wonder Show of the World

Opa Hey! - Kottarashky

The Upsetters - The Upsetter

Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths - Young, Gifted and Black

Harry Js All Stars - Liquidator

Lou Reed and John Cale - Songs for Drella

Micah P Hinson - All Dressed Up and Smelling of Strangers

Dave Formula - Satellite Sweetheart

Polar Bear - Peepers

The Fall - Your Future, Our Clutter

John Eden - RSI Radio 4

Konono No. 1 - Assume Crash Position

The National - High Violet

Pavement - Quarantine the Past

These Are End Times - We Have Come So Far, It Is Over

The Bundles - The Bundles

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Various - Too Old To Be New, Too New To Be Classic: DFA Gets Cheap with Bleep

Big Audio Dynamite - This is…

Stornoway - Beachcomber's Windowsill

Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island

Jon Langford & Kay Ex - KatJonBand

Television - Marquee Moon

Wire - A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck

Chemical Brothers - Further

The Ex Guitars Meet Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo, Vol 1 - Lean Left

Colin Newman - A-Z

Electricity In Our Homes - We Agree Completely

Four Tet - There Is Love In You

Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty

Autechre - Move of Ten

M.I.A - /\/\ /\ Y /\

The Ex - Dizzy Spells

The Ex & Guests - Instant

Ex Orkest - Een Rondje Holland

The Books - The Way Out

Ornette Colman - The Sound Of Jazz To Come

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Skream - Outside The Box

UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall

Various - Randy's 50th Anniversary Reggae Anthology

Niney The Observer - Roots with Quality Reggae Anthology

Micah P Hinson - Pioneed Saboteurs

Mogwai - Special Moves

Grinderman - Grinderman 2

Roots Manuva meets Wrongtom - Duppy Writer

Esbjörn Svensson Trio - Leucocyte

Bojan Zulfikarpasic - Solobsession

The Ex - Catch My Shoe

The Ex & Tom Cora - And The Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders

The Ex - Too Many Cowboys

Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

Tricky - Mixed Race

Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People EP

Various - Around Robert Wyatt

Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love

Everything Everything - Man Alive

Wyatt/Atzmon/Stephen - For The Ghosts Within

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Lee 'Scratch' Perry - The Black Ark Years, The Jamaican 7"s 1974 - 1979

The Bad Plus - Give

Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, National Ransom

Various - Producers: Lee Perry vs Niney The Observer

The Jim Jones Revue - Burning Down The House

The Beat - Wha'ppen

Wire - The Drill

Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon

Crass - Stations of the Crass, Crassical Collection

The Fall - The Marshall Suite

This Mortal Coil - Filigree & Shadow

That Petrol Emotion - Manic Pop Thrill, Babble

Polar Bear & Jyager - Common Ground

Brian Eno - Small Craft On A Milk Sea

Ninja Tune XX Vol 1 & 2

Five hundred plus

As many people opened their presents on Christmas morning, the good people of Ipswich, in association with McDonald's, gave me the gift of allowing McJunk to turn 500. As Claire and I walked Timmy over our local park my trusty camera phone was put to good use documenting this monumental occasion. Check Flickr for images (link right).

Quick book update: every thing is set to go for 1 Jan 2011. More details here soon in the next couple of days as I the finalise promo copy, sort out some postcards and knock up a website.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

RIP Celia Stothard

I was lucky enough to see the poster artist Alan Kitching speak about his life and work a couple of years ago. It was extremely touching as he had to take breaks because he was getting overwhelmed with emotion as he was realising, mid-talk to a room packed full of design lecturers, that many of the people he was mentioning as having been a great influence on him had passed away. It was really quite moving as he chocked on his own words and asked the audience to bare with him while he composed himself.

It is with this in mind that it is very sad to hear the death of Kitching's long-time partner Celia Stothard. The design community has lost one half of a creative partnership that produced many iconic posters. I particularly like the story of the two of them blowing their pension on a huge collection of theatrical type. As Celia wrote of their finding the collection in Eye 74:

"Alan climbed up a ladder to check a range of condensed letters stacked on the barn wall shelves. Some had become damp and infested with woodworm. They would have to be dried out and treated, but first the make-ready (random bits of printed paper, glued to the underside of letters to bring them to type height) would have to be removed. As I logged, measured and photographed cabinets and randoms of type around the barn, I heard a shout of ‘Schwitters!’ and joined Alan, looking in amazement at the first of many examples of the Wrington pressmen’s unconscious ‘make-ready’ art, reminiscent of Dada collages.

Alan already had enough type in his ‘palette’ but the prospect of working with this range and scale was thrilling. In June that year I had up-sized from a two-room flat in SW7 to a former alehouse in Kennington SE11. I had envisaged Alan and some of the Typography Workshop in the covered rear yard, but almost an entire print works? Still, there was plenty of room on the ground floor, the joists could take the weight and the old beer cellar was dry. Who else would or could do it?

Perhaps it was the full moon over the horseshoe atop the Organ’s barn door, or the sweet Somerset air that added to the feeling of fate, but I turned to Alan: ‘Pension payments or this?’ ‘This!’ we chorused and returned to London to make the bid."

Sunday 12 December 2010

Unlearn to relearn

After three weeks of using a PC at work (my staff iMac was in a computer hospital), I'm now struggling to get back into Apple keystrokes at home.

I'd become used to strange menus appearing every time I hit the wrong keys as I retrained my fingers for a Dell keyboard.

Now I'm working at home on my Mac desktop, I'm trying to unlearn in order to relearn!

And who's bright idea was it to shift the f#<*ing speech marks and 'at' symbol around?

Friday 10 December 2010

Detail, please.

The vacuous phrase 'moving forward' seems to be on trend at the moment.

I'm hearing it everywhere; at work, in the press, in meetings, online, in interviews.

But without context it is meaningless—moving forward from what and to what?

On its own, moving forward equals standing still.

Detail, please.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Walker on the wild side

Last night Claire and I attended the Private View of Russell Walker's exhibition at University Campus Suffolk. There is some fantastic, well crafted and iconic work on display, and I'm not just saying that because Russell is a work colleague and friend of mine.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to take any photos of what was an amazingly well attended private view, considering the weather conditions, but Russell and I returned this morning with students where I took these shots.

Titled Friends & Acquaintances, the exhibition showcases 30 years of character based work that according to Russell, "capture either a time or illustrate an emotional attitude experienced through my engagement with literature, the arts and fascinating individuals".

The exhibition poster and catalogue cover (above) was designed in a collaboration between Russell and typographer/designer Jonathan Barnbrook, and on display are musical influences, working materials and books that have inspired his work.

This free exhibition comes highly recommended and is on Monday to Friday until 23 Dec at the Waterfront Gallery, Ipswich.

More photos to follow on Flickr.

Exhibition details
Getting there