The 405 meets Nadine Shah: "These are some of the most vulnerable people in society, and they have been lied to."


The 405 meets Nadine Shah: "These are some of the most vulnerable people in society, and they have been lied to."

Nadine Shah, interviewed at The 405:

What I intended to do was to humanise the dehumanised. There are a lot of figures and numbers bandied about over the refugee crisis; so I did my research into first-time testimonies, into both economic migrants and refugees. My brother is a documentary maker, so he helped provide some of the material for me. I thought it was important to focus on the really harrowing subjects to write about. I love Billy Bragg, but I don't want to be Billy Bragg political, I didn't want to preach. I think it's also because most people agree about the crisis, so I just wanted to tell stories in a way that's relatable and I didn't want the music to be downbeat or dour, I wanted it to be energetic. So, oddly even though it's the hardest thing I've written about, it's also musically and sonically the most energetic and vibrant.


Luna Kafé e-zine - The Blue Aeroplanes: Welcome, Stranger!


Luna Kafé e-zine - The Blue Aeroplanes: Welcome, Stranger!

In the mid 90s, when the internet was all dialup, Pentium desktops, and Lycos search engines (marvellous days), I occasionally wrote music reviews for Norwegian “e-zine” Luna Kafé.

It was a buzz to see my name appear on a website at a time when not everyone I knew had access to the internet. It was all so new and exciting.

It also offered my first experience of angryinternetman. I wrote a largely positive review of the first Hurricane #1 album (don’t judge me - it was a long time ago), but this didn’t stop an extraordinary email exchange with a fan of the band, who was disgusted that I didn’t like all of the songs. I wish I’d kept it, as it was a precursor of Twitter egg rage.

Work and my personal life got in the way and I had to stop writing after a couple of years.

Luna Kafė has continued to publish a new “menu” of music review “dishes” from global contributors, on the evening of every full moon since.

Although the site will proceed on an ad hoc basis, last night it published it’s 250th and final menu.

19 years since my last review appeared there, I was honoured to be asked by the editor, Håvard Oppøyen, to contribute one last time.

I chose to write about the fabulous new album by The Blue Aeroplanes - Welcome, Stranger!

You can read it here:

Congratulations to Håvard and all involved with Luna Kafé.



Top 50 Albums of 2016

2016, despite being 2016, was a pretty good year for music.

In reverse order, my fave 50 albums:

50 Savages - Adore Life
49 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
48 Weaves - Weaves
47 Wye Oak - Tween
46 Invisible Boy - Invisible Boy
45 AlunaGeorge - I Remember
44 The Joy Formidable - Hitch
43 All Saints - Red Flag
42 Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
41 Boys Noize - Mayday
40 Eliot Sumner - Information
39 Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits
38 Honeyblood - Babes Never Die
37 Katy B - Honey
36 Nice As Fuck - Nice as Fuck
35 Solange - A Seat at the Table
34 Sleigh Bells - Jessica Rabbit
33 Still Corners - Dead Blue
32 Warpaint - Heads Up
31 David Bowie - Blackstar
30 Banks - The Altar
29 Emma Pollock - In Search of Harperfield
28 Emma Ruth Rundle - Marked for Death
27 Frank Ocean - Blonde
26 Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
25 Dinosaur Jr. - Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
24 Jimmy Eat World - Integrity Blues
23 Bat For Lashes - The Bride
22 Tegan and Sara - Love You To Death
21 Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers - The Way It Is 2016
20 Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion Side B
19 The Frank And Walters - Songs For The Walking Wounded
18 Haley Bonar - Impossible Dream
17 Kate Tempest - Let Them Eat Chaos
16 The Anchoress - Confessions Of A Romance Novelist
15 Bob Mould - Patch The Sky
14 Bon Iver - 22, A Million
13 Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
12 Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers - Rehab Reunion
11 Minor Victories - Minor Victories

10 Mitski - Puberty 2

Your Best American Girl is already an indie classic but there’s much more than that here.

9 Beyoncé - Lemonade

Another remarkable achievement.

8 Angel Olsen - My Woman

Her most absorbing album yet.

7 Daughter - Not To Disappear

Initial disappointment that this didn’t move on much from the (albeit excellent) sound of their debut now more than compensated by repeat listening. A grower.

6 Låpsley - Long Way Home

Everything about this album made sense when I saw Låpsley live this year. What a talent.

5 School of Seven Bells - SVIIB

The perfect, bittersweet farewell.

4 Shura - Nothing’s Real

Every single track’s a banger.

3 Poliça - United Crushers

Three albums in from my favourite band and I’m yet to hear a song I don’t love to bits. I saw them 4 times this year and wished it had been more.

2 Rihanna - ANTI

Intriguing on first listen and still revealing gems nearly a year on. In years to come ANTI is going to be revered as a masterpiece. People hating on Work could not be more wrong either.

1 The Wedding Present - Going, Going…

I’d fallen a bit out of love with The Wedding Present over the last decade. 2008’s El Rey and 2012’s Valentina had their moments but were disappointing. The subsequent “Cinerama” reworking of Valentina into an atrocious lounge jazz / easy listening / big band thing was so awful it was the first album I’ve thrown away and deleted from my library for years.

My expectations for Going Going… were therefore pretty low. The idea of 20 tracks at 1 hour and 20 minutes starting with 4 (FOUR!) lyric free moody instrumentals was going to be horrendous. A conceptual piece, based on a US road trip with videos for each song just made it sound worse.

Yet. Here we are.

Despite including the most diabolical song The Wedding Present have ever recorded (Secretary) it’s my album of the year.

It’s gorgeous. The production sounds like the Wedding Present again.

There are so many moments in an album that showcases Gedge’s talent for storytelling, melody and emotion but I’ll just comment on the last two songs, which are my favourites.

Gedge’s love of the pop song and knack for classic songwriting was honed in the (proper) Cinerama years, and reached a peak for me in the gorgeous Perfect Blue from 2004’s return of the Wedding Present. I didn’t think he could match those moments again. He has. Rachel is melodic, sentimental, and just utterly joyous.

You might not top Rachel as an the album’s indie pop banger but you can follow it with the perfect album closer.

Santa Monica is magnificent. It is the most affecting song David Gedge has ever recorded.

The sense of finality is unavoidable:

It’s the last track of an album titled “Going, Going…”. It feels so much like he’s revisiting the last song (Octopussy) from his best album (1991’s Seamonsters). In the lyrics he also references a song from George Best, the first album.

Then there’s the last line. Oh boy, that last line.

I hope this doesn’t mark the end of The Wedding Present but if it is what a way to go out.