This week I went to the beautiful Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle’s historic independent filmhouse, for dinner and a movie with friends. The film in question was Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy, and within minutes I knew it was going to be one of the best films I’d ever seen. As a lifelong Beach Boys fan, I was aware, of course, of bandleader Brian Wilson’s creative genius and history of drug taking and mental health issues – but the extent to which these are intertwined and the horror of what Wilson went through mentally is mindblowing. Continue reading Film Review: Love and Mercy – The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson
Washington DC, dawn 2003. “Record digger” Dori Hadar was hunting for rare vinyl at a local fleamarket, when he discovered boxes containing 38 albums by an unknown soul singer named Mingering Mike. “Can Minger Mike Stevens Really Sing?” screamed a hand-painted cover in bold capitals. “The Outsiders are Back” proclaimed another. The collection was comprehensive, including several greatest hits albums, free single giveaways, a Bruce Lee tribute album and collaborations.
But why was Mingering Mike such an unknown, when he had a huge body of work behind him, recorded under numerous labels such as Mother Goose and Fake Records? As Hadar began to delve deeper into the boxes, he realised that the discs, far from being in poor condition and scratched, were actually pristine – and made of cardboard. Whoever had made them had taken enormous care to paint the cardboard black, draw on grooves, and create an entire recording career, all in their imagination. Continue reading LifeStories – Mingering Mike
Australian singer/songwriter Sia has been around for a long time, but I had never really heard of her until her intriguing performance on this year’s The Voice UK, during which her face was obscured by a bizarre long wig that looked like a modern reworking of a 1970’s lampshade. Who the heck is this? I thought, whilst being slightly mesmerised by her haunting vocals and electro-pop sound.
A quick search on Wikipedia revealed some interesting snippets – her music incorporates hip hop, funk and soul; in 2014, she was ranked the 97th richest Australian person under the age of 40 by BRW magazine; she is the niece of Colin Hay from Australian group Men at Work; and she performed as a background vocalist for Jamiroquai. Recently Sia has written hits for Rihanna (Diamonds) and Beyonce (Pretty Hurts), as well as for Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, and Rita Ora. Continue reading LifeStories: Who is Sia?
It’s a Friday night and Miss Dolly Parton and I (that’s my cat, not the real DP, in case you were wondering) are relaxing on the sofa. Me with a little glass of homemade Christmas spiced vodka and diet coke; she with her favourite cream faux-fur blanket, which is getting a good wash. Together we are writing draft posts and listening to some First Aid Kit. Continue reading First Aid Kit for the Soul
Hi! Just wanted to share this gorgeous song by Tyler Lyle – “Werewolf”. I discovered Tyler a couple of years ago when his song “I will follow love all the way home“ was featured on one of my favourite TV shows (sadly now ended) – Private Practice. I instantly fell in love with the song and downloaded his beautiful 2011 album “The Golden Age and the Silver Girl,” which was released entirely through Bandcamp.
If you haven’t yet heard of Tyler, he has an indie-folk-with-a-bit-of-country style, and writes beautiful, heartfelt lyrics that can make you feel like you experienced the things he’s writing about along with him, or else can easily relate it back to your own experiences. He is currently at work on a new full length album titled “the Native Genius of Desert Plants,” funded via Pledge Music, which I’ve been privileged to contribute to. In terms of the album name, Tyler explains that “The native genius of desert plants is that they can survive a long time without water. It’s been three years and six months since my last album. That feels long enough.”