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Made in Shoreditch

I also contribute a weekly column to Made in Shoreditch magazine called 'Old East End/New East End', where I look at the relationship between the East End of old and new, looking at the changes and the stalwarts in landscape, residents and culture, focussing on one street or district each week. You can find it here.

Brentmeister General for Xmas No.1 2012

Monday, 23 January 2012

Today I am starting a petition. I'm going to get as many people as possible together, starting from now, to get David Brent's rock classic Free Love Freeway to Number 1 on the British Singles Chart at Christmas of this year. If you like this idea, read on. I have a plan.

Chilled out entertainer at work

First off, I'm going to start a Facebook page and a Twitter account for it and garner as many people as I possibly can.  I'll keep everybody updated through this blog and a separate one which I will start and together we can do it.

Once enough people are in place I will contact Ricky Gervais and ask him to release the single, but first I need people, and lots of them, to help me do this. If we can get enough support, there is already a recorded version in place with Noel Gallagher on backing vocals which could go on release 2 weeks before the Christmas chart on Sunday 23rd December. The plan is then to get everybody out into their local HMV or onto iTunes or whatever to buy it in the week running up to the 23rd.

If you want to join the Facebook page the link is here and to follow on Twitter the link is here.

We have roughly 11 months to do this, so get involved!!!

Remember: the love is free and the freeway's long.

5 of the Best: The Smiths

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Since getting the Complete box set for Christmas The Smiths have been playing more often than even usual in my home. With one of the greatest guitar bands to ever surface from Britain in mind, here's 5 of their best.

The Smiths

Half a Person - Everybody was 16, clumsy and shy at one point and Morrissey's superb lyric in this song, coupled with a nostalgic, sad and touching arrangement make this one of the best, let alone theirs.

Ask -  "Writing frightening verse to a buck-toothed girl in Luxembourg". It doesn't get much better than that. This song so wonderfully counteracts all of the 'miserable' tags applied by lazy types with no facets to their musical taste other than "if it's about a night out I like it, if it challenges me, no thanks".


Bigmouth Strikes Again - Johnny Marr's breakneck rhythm playing and surging, single string leads make this song one of the guitar performances of the eighties. Far simpler axe-work than the stuff on Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others and the like, yet no less stupefying, it is, frankly, a masterpiece. The Morrissey bits are not 'alf bad either.

This Night Has Opened My Eyes - A dream-like work of textural space and total catchiness, this song finds Morrissey floating a breathy, sumptuous vocal over the top of some really great stuff from the rhythm section and almost unfathomably ear-catching guitar work from Marr. Marr's philosophy of playing as a whole band with one guitar is at points on full display and at others out of the window. Fantastic song.

This Night Has Opened My Eyes

This Charming Man - A song that defined its era with lyrical dexterity, simple harmony and a rather intricate, instantly recognisable  riff that, as Noel Gallagher puts it, "even Johnny Marr can't play that properly anymore". Probably The Smiths' London Calling or Losing My Religion, yes, but also one of their best efforts.

The Annoying Din

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The builders are in next door. Their constant banging, awful radio and flatbed loading and unloading seem to be trying to cut through my records with alarming zeal. This is, as one can imagine, fucking infuriating. The most infuriating part of all, however, is the Geordie foreman, who seems to marshal the troops by speaking as loudly as he possibly can. It's as if the North Eastern Public Speaking Championships are going on right outside my thin-walled 2 bed Manchester apartment.

Add to that the chav-wear shop 2 doors down who insist on blaring JLS, Example and Ed Bloody Sheeran at full blast and the rattle of traffic spinning through Central Manchester and it's rather hard to concentrate on doing my work, reading or, most annoying of all, me time!

Looks like a gimp, doesn't he?

Quite why people feel the need to listen to Capital Radio or perfect their human megaphone skills every day is beyond me, but why they have to do it within any distance of me just pisses me off.

It has all got me thinking though. What have been the most annoying noises that have been everywhere we go over the last few years? Which God-awful songs have been in every pub, shop or club over the last half-a-decade or so? So I've made a list...

Rihanna - Umbrella: Now while Ri-Ri (as I'm told she is to be called now) is extremely easy on the eye and does have a few catchy tracks, dare I say it, even good ones, there was a time a few years ago when you couldn't move without hearing this. It was number one the whole way through a rainy summer (oh the irony!) and was, and is, utter dross.

Ed Sheeran - The A Team: Why does anybody think this or anything else he's done is good? It's not. Turn it off.

See Example photo for caption

Florence and the Machine in General: Seemed OK at first and then after four or five listens I realised it's shite. The problem is, since 2008, or whenever they decided to burst into our lives, they've not buggered off. Florence, Machine, please do.

Tinie Tempah - Written in the Stars: He has to be one of the worst rappers ever. Up there with MC Tunes (had a couple of tunes with 808 State, check them out on Youtube for a laugh) and Vanilla Ice. He took what was a great backing track for Pass Out and put lines like "I've been Southampton but I've never been to Scunthorpe" over it. This one, however, lacks even a decent tune behind it and is, in turn, a niggling, persistent annoyance.

N-Dubz in General: Don't get me started.

So there you go, I've most certainly not covered everything, these are just the ones that stick out as I'm writing this. If you're reading this and have a suggestion or two, feel free to comment below with them. It's always best to vent frustrations and get them off your chest.

Songs of the Year: The Horrors - Still Life

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Gone are the days when The Horrors were just another annoying five minute flash-in-the-pan skinny band doing the rounds in Dalston or Camden. With their last two albums the band have hit their stride impeccably and have extended their musical boundaries to incorporate more than just two-and-a-half-minute post punk backward glancing.

This then, the biggest single to emerge from Skying, probably their best effort to date, sees the band going for it big. It has a large, all-encompassing, almost balladeer feel which treads the line between Joy Division and Simple Minds perfectly (namely, it leans towards the Joy Division side of it, only sometimes slipping into Simple Minds territory, which is good as Simple Minds are a grotesque outfit).

The Horrors

Farris Badwan's voice sound hoarse at points, in a good way, and his deep, searching baritone hits the spot perfectly on the anthemic "When you wake up, you will find me" parts.

Musically it's an array of string-like synths and well-worked harmonies which, although they at first seem large, are subtle. Subtly subtle then, if that makes sense.

In short this is an easy pick as one of 2011's best songs.