6° of separation

From Kid Wave to the Vaselines in 6 reviews. Click the links to listen on Youtube.

  1. Kid Wave, reviewed in the Guardian, 26 March 2015

‘The jangly melody and lush harmonies of opener Honey recall the sweet, dreamy pop of legendary 1980s independent label Sarah Records – except Emmery’s vocals aren’t winsome. They’re aloof, hushed and so restrained as to be almost uninterested. It’s like Nico fronting the Field Mice

kid wave

2. The Field Mice, Reviewed on Pitchfork Media, March 16 2005

‘But if the Field Mice were just adorable indiepop amateurs, then why do they sound so slick and stylish? Yeah, they have their sunny strum-a-longs and wistful laid-back jangle– songs so “pop” that it feels like someone must always have sounded like this. But then not so long afterward, didn’t Ride come along in the same stripey shirts and fuzz the exact same stuff up into “higher” art?’

field mice

3. Ride, reviewed in the Telegraph, 25th May 2015

When Ride split up, in 1996, it seemed like the end of an exciting but short-lived musical era. After a few heady years in the early Nineties, their brand of shoegaze rock – defined by a wall-of-sound style that layered effects-laden guitar parts, droning vocal melodies and thundering drums – had burnt itself out, and Britpop was on an inexorable rise. By the end of the decade, Ride’s former guitarist Andy Bell had joined Oasis, and the rest had largely faded from view. For fans of the band, it was all rather sad.

RIDE - 1992
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brian Rasic/REX (197678b) RIDE RIDE – 1992

4. Oasis, reviewed in NME, Originally published August 27 1994

‘… we’re somehow supposed to have evolved from beyond these simple pleasures; the buzz of an electric guitar and a young voice yearning simple truths and uncomplicated desires ought to leave us cold because, by definition, something better must now exist. Oasis prove that this need not be so.’ Noel Gallagher is a pop craftsman in the classic tradition and a master of his trade. Of his generation, probably only Kurt Cobain wielded the manipulative power of melody better, and you can’t imagine Noel having many guilt pangs about whether or not ‘Live Forever’ was just that little bit too perfect.

oases

5. Nirvana October 1991 show at the Paramount Theatre, Seatlle, Wa reviewed at http://www.livenirvana.com/tourhistory/

As Nirvana come out on stage, Kurt introduces the opening song, Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam by saying “This song is written by a band called the Vaseline’s. They’re from Edinburgh, Scotland, and they’re very punk rock”. What follows is a truly powerful performance of the song, Kurt really getting into it, noticeable from his voice. When the song ends, the band doesn’t stop to breathe, and Kurt strums into Aneurysm, and turns out a solid performance. At the end of School, Dave jokes with the crowd, “So like 2 percent of you people are in costumes, and personally I think that’s pretty lame, unless you’re all supposed to be punk rockers”.

nirvana

6. Vaselines reviewed at http://diymag.com/2014/09/24/the-vaselines-v-for-vaselines-album-review

V For Vaselines’ is a summer album. Its purposes include providing the soundtrack to long, hazy trips to the beach and BBQs in your best mate’s garden. When the British weather prevails, ‘V For Vaselines’ is only a set of headphones away. Throwing a sepia tint over the world with each song that goes by, this is a record that will make you pine, long and lust for the past months spent basking in the sun.

The-Vaselines

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Tooled up.

Since his earliest ancestors man has set himself apart from other species by his use of sophisticated tools. In this weekly offering I consider what our choice of everyday items and accessories says about us based on the reviews people have left on Amazon.

In this week’s offering I consider what our choice of flask says about us. Here are some flasks and the distilled reviews about them from Amazon.com.

1. Stanley Classic 1L Vacuum Flask

Stanley

You view your flask as an investment (indeed you tend to view any purchase of more than a fiver as an investment). You work an allotment or drive a heavy goods vehicle (though worryingly seem rather clumsy – ‘must have dropped it hundreds of times’ – and value your flask’s sturdiness. You drink tea, not coffee. You are also quite pedantic. If it says it is drip free then it better bloody well be drip free. You are the kind of person who conducts a temperature control test before using your flask for the first time.

 

2. Web Tex Ammo pouch flask

web - tex You own a gun and enjoy shooting things with it. You tend to describe the things you own as kit rather than what they are. You are a fork lift truck driver but wish you had joined the armed forces. Of a weekend you like to spend time lying outdoors in heavily wooded areas covered by a heap of branches, damp leaves and bracken. You call this bivouacing.

You are quite concerned that other people who have purchased the Web – Tex Ammo Pouch flask do not use it in an ‘abnormal’ way. You are willing to defend your right to purchase a green plastic drinks flask. With force if necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. SmuggleYourBooze.com Fake Tampon Flasks
5 fake flasks

You are a woman and you want very much to be drunk. You have an impending hen – do in Blackpool and you’re buggered if you’re paying the bloody prices they charge for shots.

You don’t mind waving a tampon applicator around on a packed dancefloor either. After all – you’re only young once. Or, you were young once and now you want to get pissed to remember what it was like.

 

 

4. OCC One Click Premium Travel Mug

occ one click cup

You are a busy mum, or a busy business woman, or you are a go – getter who is busy. The emphasis is that you’re busy doing something and you want to look good drinking a mug of tea whilst being busy. You stand on the sidelines at the footy or ice – hockey. You cheer on hubby when he scores a goal but you don’t spill your tea because you’ve rigorously tested a million such cups and found that this one alone does not spill. It comes at a premium price but you get what you pay for, right? And you also get admiring glances on the train in the morning. And that’s fine with you.

5. Andrew James Designer 8Oz hip flask.

andrew james

You describe your drinking rather more lyrically than your friends and family might. ‘I like to have a nip of J.D. from my hip flask when I’m settled on a rock to survey my surroundings.’ You might be an eagle. Alternatively you might be very pissed and by ‘settled on a rock’ mean lying on the pavement.

Drink is a social lubricant for you. ‘You’re always welcome if you have a hip flask.’ You might have been drunk when you penned your review – ‘Anchors Aweigh, my boys.’ Hic. You walk around a lot and are sometimes drunk when you do this. ‘I tripped over the dogs and a man laughed at me and it’s hard to put a price on things like that.’ It’s unclear if the reviewer’s emphasis here is on the price of his drinking or the comic value it provides the rest of us.

Lost in Ikea…

ikea-map

I have long been a fan of the ‘heroic age’ of exploration: Mallroy and Irvine, Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton, Ray Mears. These names echo through the ages. Finding the Poles and Everest somewhat inaccessible I have conducted some of my own, more modest, but nonetheless equally perilous, expeditions through modern life. Here I bring you my experiences and some advice for fellow explorers.

The map on first glance is not overly complicated though the ‘find your way in the Self Serve Furniture Area’ diagram looks like a schematic of a nuclear reactor.

The more you wander the show room though, the more the map starts to take on the appearance of a diabolical maze. The clean, ordered white lines of the Showroom and Market Hall diagrams, and the gently meandering dotted white line that marks out your seamless progress through the store, bears no relation to the reality of the situation you find yourself in when ‘on the ground’.

Upon arrival in the entrance foyer you are immediately presented with a scene reminiscent of the American withdrawal from Saigon, minus the helicopters. The flow of humanity through the seemingly haphazardly arranged layout of the store presses you onward. No beating against the tide here. Missed the stylish chrome towel rail you saw on their website last night? Can’t find that discounted storage unit that you thought would be in the ‘bedroom area’ but wasn’t? Thinking of turning back for a second look? Forget it.

I turned back, like a salmon seeking it’s spawning ground. I decided to swim against the tide to locate a desktop lamp that I thought would look nice on our kitchen table. The name of the item was a string of vowels, some with umlauts hovering over them, no consonants, which made pronunciation inadvisable. Asking for help was rendered futile. ‘Are you looking for the Äeoiae or the Øöeaüo?’

I saw grown men weeping.

Advice for fellow explorers

Items to pack for your journey:

  • Tamazepan or Valium and/or sizable hip flask containing spirits depending on the length of stay.
  • Mindfulness colouring book and pencils in case things really do get testing.
  • Compass, in case you find that the map you pick up at the entrance doesn’t match the layout of the store (as I did). I had to escape through a ventilation duct.
  • Credit card: just as the 1921 expedition members to Everest found the silent whiteness of the ice – bound world they discovered powerfully alluring, deciding to go back several times until most of them were dead, so will you find the siren call of cheap, minimalist Swedish designed furniture difficult to resist.

 

 

Talking shop: conversations overheard

I work Saturdays in a shop on H____ Road in Hull. Let’s call the shop Oddbury’s. Every Saturday I write down the funny things I hear. These are real conversations with real people about the things they’re buying and what they mean to them. Names have been changed to protect people’s identities. Paul is my co – worker.

Sat 30th Jan 2016 2:15pm Malcolm 53, unemployed and Paul 59, shop assistant

Scottish Malcolm: You got any Christmas lights?

Paul: Blimey, you’re getting organised early.

Scottish Malcolm: What for?

Paul: (Puzzled) Well, Christmas.

Scottish Malcolm: Nah, cannae stand Christmas.

Paul: oh?

Scottish Malcolm: Hate it!

Paul: how’s that?

Scottish Malcolm: (sniffs) Just cannae. You got those lights or what?

Paul: got some in the back. Wait here.

Scottish Malcolm: Be quick.

Paul (returning): Got these ones – different colours, light up, flash in different ways, you can have them fast or slow flashing or twinkling. What d’you want with Christmas lights if you don’t like Christmas?

Scottish Malcolm: They’re ‘cos ma wife’s comin’ home t’day.

Paul: she been on holiday?

Scottish Malcolm: Prison.

Paul: oh.

Scottish Malcolm: Domestic violence towards the dog. But she’s OK now.

Paul: she like Christmas?

Scottish Malcolm: Nah. Ah’m gonna make a love heart in lights above the bed. So she can look at it. While were f***kin’ like.

Paul: right you are.

Malcolm says about his purchase: I’ve missed my wife while she’s been inside. It’s been tough for both of us but I’ve not been able to visit her as much as I’d like. I haven’t been with anyone else like. I just couldn’t afford the bus up there every week. We’ve had our ups and downs, what married couple hasn’t? But I’m going to buy some rose petals and sprinkle them on the bed and with these lights in a nice love – heart shape I think she’ll see I love her. I need a nail gun from B&Q and then I’m off home to put them up. Maybe she won’t batter me for not coming to see her! The Christmas lights are going in the bin if I don’t get any action tonight.

Clear out confidential…

So it’s time to embark on ‘Kondoing’ our home but there’s a stumbling block already. We’ve decided that clothes are the Achilles heal of our tidiness problem so following Marie Kondo’s advice to work on one category at a time we’re starting with a whole scale clear out of our clothes.

ugg boots 2

My initial skepticism about the KonMari method overcome I am enthusiastically ditching my clothes by the bin – bag full. The vile lime green and black checked Burberry shirt – does it ‘spark joy’ KonMari asks? Presumably it did around 15 years ago when I paid £215 for it at Birmingham Bullring but I have worn it a handful of times and it has languished in a early – noughties ghetto in my wardrobe for a decade and a half. I feel a small tug at the heartstrings as I pitch it into the bin bag but as soon as it disappears inside the guilty feeling is replaced by a strangely vertiginous rush of euphoria. Turns out that throwing away, donating, disposing, consigning one’s possessions to oblivion is actually quite addictive.

The kids have got in on the act too. Gretchen (who we call G) is sifting through piles of decapitated and limbless barbies, dismembered teddies and broken roller skates. She draws the line at disposing of Mifkin, her 9 year old Steiff bear who, having very little fur left and only one, leering glass eye, is frankly terrifying, . She does, however, consent to have him washed so at least we can rid him of the faint whiff of piss that clings to him. Small steps.

All is going so well until I check on Annie’s progress. She is sat on a vast clothes mountain on our bed, her head only a foot away from the ceiling.

‘How’s it going?’ I ask.

‘Good!’ She is reading a copy of Take a Break magazine. ‘Have you heard about this woman? She didn’t know she had a mouse living in her hair for three months until it fell out one day!’

‘I meant with the clothes. Have you thrown any away yet?’

‘Some. A bikini. A pair of pants with some brown stains on them.’

‘What about these boots?’ I ask.

‘THOSE?!’ She is incredulous. ‘They’re Uggs! They were really expensive. And you bought them for me.’

It’s true, they were, and I did. We got them on our honeymoon in New York. I remember the exact day, the weather, how much fun it was to wander around Manhattan visiting all the shops and how happy we were, high on the euphoria of being newly married and in The Big Apple. If you parachuted me into Central Park tomorrow I could find the exact Ugg shop we purchased those from. Holding them in my hand awakens some of those memories.

But the zip is broken now and in any case, they are pink and Annie hasn’t worn them in the five years she’s owned them because pink doesn’t go with anything she owns.

‘I can get the zip replaced,’ she says, raising her eyebrows in a mock sad expression. I feel like a mean spirited bailiff stripping a penniless woman of her television or something.

‘OK! You can have those,’ she says springing down from the clothes pile, ‘but I am keeping these.’ She clings a vile pair of luminous orange Crocs to her chest as though they were a naked baby.

‘They’re vile Annie.’

‘But they’re mine!’ she says defiantly and flounces out.

Small steps.

 

The magic happiness of a self – help binge?

A quick internet search for the term self – help reveals it to be the worlds biggest selling genre. The most commonly quoted figure of the industry’s worth is $11bn, most of it spent in the US admittedly, but the UK is catching up.

Shelf Help packshot shelfAs with most things I am a little behind the curve on this one. I have never read a self – help book or considered myself to be in the target audience for a self – help book. Recently though a new branch of the genre is making waves in the market: the so called ‘intellectually credible’ self – help book. The publishers Penguin assure me that it is OK now, if not even cool, to own books with titles like ‘The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves’ . Well why wouldn’t it be you may ask? And I suppose you’re right.

Through their imprint Vintage, Penguin are promoting a series of 10 books they say have the ‘power to make life brighter’.

In response to the latest crisis in my life I decided to make a positive change to the way I live and have drafted a list of 6 things that I want to change before the end of the Year:

  1. To be happy(er)
  2. To not be nearly bankrupt
  3. To not feel disorganised
  4. To have more time with my kids
  5. To have time to be creative
  6. To feel physically healthy

With 2016 set to be dominated again by the publication of a slew of self – help titles from some of the biggest hitters in the field I began to wonder whether self – help could lead me to a happier, more sustainable and ultimately more rewarding lifestyle.

In this series of blog posts I’m asking have we become a nation of self – help bingers? What are the best self – help titles out there? And what are the worst? Have you got a favourite example that you think I should try?  Throughout the year I intend to read as many titles as I can get through and to post the results here for you all to read about.

Comment below or tweet me @TmhoLudek to leave suggestions.