Not resolutions

These aren’t resolutions, but aspirations.

By this time next year, I want to have had my book published (I’m assured this will happen), make a record (I believe this to be achievable) and play some more proper gigs (this is the least likely).

Anything over that is a bonus.

Oh, and not die in the first blast of the nuclear war that man-baby about to assume the White House will launch when someone is rude to him on Twitter.

Albums of 2016

Been a shit year, hasn’t it. At least there have been some cool records to listen to. Like these.

Lucid Dream – Compulsion Songs
Krautrock from Cumbria. Absolutely knock-out stuff.

Future Of The Left – The Peace And Truth Of…

Christian Fitness – This Taco Is Not Complete

This Becomes Us
These three can come as one. First you have a Future Of The Left album which is always to be savoured. Then comes the third instalment of Andy Falkous’s side-project before Julia Ruzicka – Mrs Falkous – sees some of her ideas for bass materialise into an LP. All different, all wonderful.

Solar Bears – Advancement
Their last, sadly. They will be missed.

Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere
Excellent collaboration between British-Pakistano Riz MC and Indo-American Heems. Politically and culturally aware, lyrically intelligent.

CTMF – SQ1
A Billy Childish record. Never not good.

Recordiau Prin – Iechyd Da
A wonderful compilation of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci covers from a bewildering array of DIY artists. Lovingly crafted and well put together.

De La Soul – …And The Anonymous Nobody
A series of collaborations hallmark the latest from the hip-hop veterans.

Dementio13 – Broxen
This time last year, it seemed like Paul Foster was done with making music, but he couldn’t keep away. Good for us all.

Mr Sterile Assembly – It’s All Over Now
Totally off-the-wall. A bit challenging, but worth putting in the time.

Nat Lyon – Random Walk Theory
One of his best. Dope Bike Man is a highlight of the year.

The Baggios – Brutown
Brazilian bluesmiths return with a blockbuster.

Scott Walker – The Childhood Of A Leader
The score to a film about a 9-year old who would go on to be a dictator. Absolutely astonishing.

Klammer
Second LP from the Leeds punks. Knowing and clever.

Andrew Weatherall – Convenanza
The remix maestro teased this at the end of 2015 and released it early this year. Still sounds great after multiple spins.

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
One of a number of top hip-hop records this year. Very clever.

David Bowie – Blackstar
It was a great album anyway before it took on several new dimensions when Bowie died in January, just a couple of days after the launch. An absolute masterpiece that covers everything from jazz to drum n bass.

Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner In The Rain
The prolific trio with another record packed with great tunes.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Third World Pyramid
It does what a BJM record ought to do and does it well.

The Avalanches – Wildflower
Almost worth the 16-year wait.

LA Salami – Dancing With Bad Grammar
Astonishing. This guy needs to be the next big thing.

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…
Maybe the most important album of these strange times in which we live.

And that’ll probably do. What are there; 23? I know I’ve left a couple out so I may come back and add stuff, but that’s a fair cross-section of what’s been flicking my dials this year.

Poetry corner: America, you’re a twat

“Keep off my ancient lands!” cries she
“Send your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost back to sea”
America, you’re a twat.

Your new President has extremely thin skin –
An open racist has just got in.
The KKK are celebrating the win.
America, you’re a twat.

You’ve had 200 years in which to grow the fuck up.
The whole thing runs the risk of blowing up
When you see that you’ve been sold a pup.
America, you’re a twat.

Fucking Donald fucking Trump?
That compulsively lying fucking chump?
With you and your country I’ve right got the hump.
America, you’re a twat.

The whole thing is just fucking absurd.
Into a maelstrom we’ve all been hurled.
And now begins the end of the world.
America, stop being a twat.

David Bowie would know what to do.
I’m starting to think he was society’s glue.
Oh, to go back a month or two
When America was less of a twat.

Poetry Corner: This is why I drink

Government by plebiscite.
Opposition never to be seen.
A supine press obsessed with clickbait articles
That encourage you not to think;
This is why I drink

Crowing about the hill of beans
You outright lied to win.
And when it goes tits up and I say ‘I told you so’
You kick up a right old stink;
This is why I drink

Wake up too early, travel to work.
Sit in an office for a few quid an hour.
Go home, eat tea, go to bed.
Repeat until you’re pushed to the brink.
This is why I drink.

Pills for depression, pills for the pain.
A buggered ankle, knee and hip.
A constant voice in the back of my brain
Reminding me I’m hardly in the pink;
This is why I drink.

Public sector pay freezes.
Social security cutbacks.
People being left on the scrapheap.
From its responsibilities government will quickly shrink;
This is why I drink.

Emboldened racists, empty patriotism.
A government that think it’s alright
To demonise the other
In an attempt to appease fascistic doublethink;
This is why I drink

I also like beer. And pubs,
And the people that staff and frequent them.
It gives me a space to forget.
Away from life’s horrors and tedium to shrink;
This is why I drink.

The years go by as quickly as you wink.
This is why I drink.

Poetry Corner: Lest We Forget

Every November
The great and the good gather
At the Cenotaph.
They’re all very solemn.
‘Lest we forget’, they say.
And I look around
Through the rest of the year –
At the hate,
The intolerance,
The poison rhetoric,
At conflicts ongoing
Around the world –
And it’s clear to me
That they –
That we –
Remember
Nothing.

Poetry Corner: Evidently TransPennine

Won’t get to work ‘til half past nine.
A fucking KitKat’s £6.99.
We’re expecting six cars, they send fucking three.
Stuck on platform 16b.

The fucking air-con’s fucking bust.
If I sweat much more I’ll fucking rust.
We’re outside Morley, blocking the line.
Evidently TransPennine.

Shove us in so fucking tight.
Veal calves have more fucking rights.
To squeeze more of us on they’d need fucking lube,
Onto this Diesel-powered misery-tube.

The fucking toilet fucking reeks.
Engineering lasts for weeks.
This fucking happens all the time;
Evidently TransPennine.

Fucking earphones fucking leak.
Fucking ringtones fucking shriek.
Fucking massive wheelie cases
Taking up our valuable spaces.

The fucking Metro’s fucking dire.
Can’t wait until I fucking retire.
By then I might be 89,
But free of fucking TransPennine.

No fucking seats – I’ll fucking stand;
A year of this costs me two grand.
If this derails, we’re fucking fucked,
Inside fucking cattle trucks.

We’re all crammed in, can’t fucking breathe,
Personal space costs additional fees.
Commuter conversations; asinine.
Evidently TransPennine.

Poetry Corner: Two banks of four

RBS fucked your mortgages
HSBC fixed Libor
The only banks you can ever trust are
Two solid banks of four

Two banks of four
To no-one shall we yield
Two banks of four
Strikers miles upfield

Two banks of four
No space in between
Two banks of four
Style just ain’t our scene

Two banks of four
We’re no slaves to fashion
Two banks of four
None of that fancy passing

Two banks of four
Strictly functional rubbish
Two banks of four
No time for a flourish

Two banks of four
Keep the aesthetes at bay
Two banks of four
It’s the British way

Dobson’s Choice

I am a Labour party member. I’ve got the card and everything. I’ve not been a member that long – I joined shortly after the 2015 election in the spirit of ‘oh dear sweet christ how did that lot get in again?’ – but I’ve yet to be excluded from the upcoming leadership election.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn last time this came round in what I assume is a now-annual competition. I did so because he seemed to be the only candidate that wasn’t blaming the loss at the 2015 election on Labour not being Tory enough. In trying to be slightly less nasty than the Tories, the opposition under Ed Miliband didn’t seem to be doing much in the way of opposing and carrying on like that was unlikely to get a Labour government of the sort I believe would be helpful to the nation into power.

I’ve liked some of what Corbyn has tried to do, but attempting to play a different game – his fabled new, kinder style of politics – when nobody else is aware of the rules just doesn’t work. And in that space, any message gets lost. And there have been plenty of times where strong leadership is required and we’ve not seen it, particularly surrounding the base level of debate around his leadership.

The manoeuvrings of the parliamentary party, at odds with the membership’s overwhelming choice, was depressing and dispiriting. If that energy had been directed at opposing an utter shambles of a government we might be getting somewhere. But a leader needs to command not just a mandate from members, but also from the party’s MPs so it’s clear that Corbyn’s position has been untenable for a while.

It’s said that he’s unelectable – always a highly subjective statement – and that there’s no point having principles if you never get the power to legislate in accordance with those principles. Which sounds to me like suggesting that the only way to gain power is to lie to the electorate and do lots of other stuff when you get in. That sounds an awful lot like the sort of thing we’d all scream about should the Tories do it and a lot like the laughable Leave campaign in the EU referendum. He may be unelectable – the polls make ugly reading – but I wouldn’t particularly want to fight the next election on a sham of a manifesto.

I think probably that a change is required. But the alternative being offered isn’t that appetising. Owen Smith seems to represent the option that reverts to the sort of position that lost Labour the last election and more or less support the neoliberalism that clearly, abjectly and demonstrably failed in 2008, albeit in a slightly different shade.

In other words, I don’t know what I’m going to do when my ballot arrives. Go for someone I don’t think it very good at leading the opposition or someone who former DoSAC minister Hugh Abbott would doubtless have described as a brushed aluminium cyber-prick. I don’t know. And I’m not going to call anyone names on social media if they disagree.

EDIT: BUT I’m always less likely to find common ground with anyone who thinks homeopathy is anything but pure quackery.

You know what I did last weekend?

So we did that thing for charity. Finally, we did it.

Five bands, three spoken word artists, about four hours and who knows how many beers.

Here’s a film:

If you were there, thank you so, so, so much. We cleared over half a grand for CALM including a £315 donation from Mark, bassist of co-headliners Dr Hackenbush, who had been running a last man standing football competition all last season.
It was a top night. I had a laugh despite falling off the stage after the brilliant Ceiling Demons had finished and giving myself a really solid whack in the ribs.

If you weren’t there, you can still donate. With impeccable timing, we set up a justgiving page after the event. Chip us a few quid at justgiving.com/fundraising/CALMapalooza

Maybe we’ll do it again some time.

Poetry corner: Deadline Day

My agent got me a last-minute deal
So now I’m happy to reveal:
“It was always my boyhood dream
To play for [insert name of team]”

I’ll say I supported them as a kid.
I’ll kiss the badge for a few extra quid.
“Rival offers? I cast them aside
To play for [insert name of side]”

And when the window opens next,
To my advisors I’ll send this text:
“A lucrative move I wouldn’t snub
To leave for [insert name of club]”