So much beauty out there

August 10, 2010

The West Highlands

Filed under: All,Dear Diary,Travel — Josh @ 5:50 pm
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Last weekend, my flat was hosting a hen party for the best friend of one of my flatmates. While I said bravely that I honestly didn’t mind sharing my flat with 16 drunk young women, I was gently persuaded that heading off for the weekend would be better. So I spent the last weekend in the Highlands, around Loch Ossian. Here’s what happened: (more…)

July 29, 2010

Thirty Days of Song (day 25)

Filed under: All,Dear Diary,Music — Josh @ 1:56 pm
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Song that makes me laugh.

“Determined, but moist…”

(more…)

July 27, 2010

Thirty Days of Song (day 24)

Filed under: All,Dear Diary,Music — Josh @ 12:42 pm
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Song for my funeral:

Not just suitably elegaic, but expresses clearly the one thing I’m certain I’ll feel when I die – that I should have paid more attention to the person I love (whoever that may be!)

(I see that video currently has been seen a mere 51 times, I want to see that number increase exponentially)

(more…)

July 26, 2010

Thirty Days of Song (day 23)

A song to play at my wedding:

I think I mentioned that I wanted this song played at my wedding in another post so better be consistent. It’s perhaps not the jauntiest of tunes, but the lyrics are very sweet and direct, and if there’s any day you don’t want subtlety or irony it’s your wedding day.

“Why would I stop loving you, a hundred years from now? It’s only time.”

Not convinced I’ll be playing that video though.

Alternatively, there’s Al Green’s fabulous Let’s Get Married, but I’m not sure I want the phrase ‘I’m tired of playing around, a girl in every town’ being played. Or ‘might as well’ for that matter. (more…)

July 25, 2010

Thirty Days of Song (day 22)

Filed under: All,Dear Diary,Music — Josh @ 2:09 pm
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Song I listen to when I’m sad:

Ok, for once, I’m not going to be awkward, this is a sad song for a sad mood, and it even says so in the title. It is beautiful too. From the late, lamented, Mark Linkous –

(more…)

March 11, 2010

Cheers

Filed under: All,Dear Diary — Josh @ 5:04 pm

I walked past the Jenny Ha’s pub on the Royal Mile today, which has painted on its wall something along the lines of “the pub where everyone knows your name”. As I’ve never been in the place, I find it rather concerning that everyone knows my name.

March 2, 2010

10 Albums That Changed My (Musical) Life

Filed under: All,Dear Diary — Josh @ 12:28 pm

Ok, inspired to finally do one of these by my brother’s awesome post about his list. These are not neccesarily my favourite records now (indeed I don’t even own one of them anymore) nor can I claim that they really shaped my personality, but they are the ones that shaped my taste in music. In order of when I listened to them.

1) The Pet Shop Boys – Actually

This was the first album I ever owned (I did have a few singles before it, but we should draw a veil over them). I’m not sure what prompted me to ask for it, and it didn’t lead to any other similar albums. But I really liked it (and still love It’s A Sin, What Have I Done To Deserve This and Rent) and I guess it must have opened up my mind to listening to music in general.

2) Leonard Cohen – I’m Your Man

I don’t really remember listening much to music at all when I was very young, but as adolescence came on, I became aware of what my Dad was listening to. 4 albums in particular stick in my mind, Paul Simon’s Graceland, Randy Newman’s Land Of Dreams, Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The USA and this by Leonard Cohen. Of them, I’m Your Man is the one that made the most impact on me, both in terms of enjoying it at the time and as something that has stuck with me.

3) REM – Out Of Time

We never listened to music on the radio at home (it was Radio 4 only) so for a couple of years my taste was entirely dependent on what my Dad played. But on the school bus one day, they played Losing My Religion, and I fell in love with it on one listen. I bought Out Of Time and then within 6 months pretty much the entire REM back catalogue. REM were my first proper “favourite band”, but also they made me realise that there was life outside my Dad’s collection. I don’t have the album anymore, but I reckon I’d still like most of it.

4) The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps

On a school trip to London we listened to Radio 1 for 5 straight hours on the bus. Mostly this was taken up with repeat playing of the chart hits of the day (Informer by Snow is permanently scarred on to my brain from this trip) but they also played (once) the glorious pop of Wishin’ I Was Skinny. I bought Giant Steps at the first opportunity and was disgusted to find that the rest of the album was filled with discordance, dissonance and feedback. I stuck it away for a few months, then tried it again and for some reason liked a few more of the tracks. Gradually it became one of my favourite ever albums and was integral to my taste widening beyond easy listening.

5) Tindersticks – Tindersticks (first album)

As my brother has described it, our musical relationship was fairly one way up until this point, he would like most of the music I recommended to him, I would dismiss mots music he bought on his own initiative. When he lent me this, he even warned me that the first couple of songs were weak and I shouldn’t rush to judgement. But I loved the album (still do) and had a new favourite band. More importantly, a huge part of my subsequent record buying was informed by recommendations and compilations from my brother.

6) Pulp – His’n’Hers

Just a great album, and for the next few years Pulp and the Tindersticks were a constant musical reference point.

7) The Four Tops – Greatest Hits (can’t remember actual title)

I’m not sure what prompted me into listening to this, as I wasn’t really aware of soul music before. I knew that I loved the likes of Stand By Me, Reach Out, I’ll Be There, Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay and I Heard It Through The Grapevine when they appeared on adverts or were re-issued, but I was not that inquisitive about music from the 60s. Still, something must have prompted me to listen to this compilation. It’s an amazing quality compilation, I reckon only 2 or 3 songs don’t qualify as great. I was hooked. Ben E King was next up, then Etta James, Al Green and Nina Simone, and on and on to Bettye Lavette and Brenda Holloway.

8) Various Artists – The Essential World Collection

I had always been sceptical about “World Music”, people I knew who liked it tended to have terrible taste in “Anglo-American music”. But I needed another CD to complete a “Buy X CDs for Y” deal, so I picked this up. It’s very good – almost all from North and West Africa and the Carribean. Ali Farka Toure, Habib Koitie, Cheikh Lo, Sierra Maestra, Africando. It not only got me into lots of different sounds from around the world, but made me much more open-minded about other genres that I hadn’t really given any consideration towards before.

9) Louise Attaque – Comme On A Dit

While living in Paris, and listening to French radio they regularly played Pour Un Oui, Pour Un Non from this album, which prompted me to buy it. I’d read lots of scornful comments about French rock music, so I was rather surprised at how good it was; and I’ve subsequently found that there are lots of good guitar bands in Europe who never get played in the UK because they don’t sing in English (Kaizers Orchestra, Mickey 3D, Jan Plewka, Bob Hund)

10) Yeah, can’t choose a number 10. Could be any of: Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska, Sparklehorse – Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I See A Darkness, Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball, Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs, Gillian Welch – Hell Among The Yearlings, Massive Attack – Blue Lines etc, etc.

March 1, 2010

Turning Over A New Leith

Filed under: All,Dear Diary — Josh @ 5:41 pm

As of today, I am living in Leith, Edinburgh, in a very nice flat. I will be celebrating the event with any number of very bad puns on the word “Leith”. You have been warned.

February 23, 2010

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Filed under: All,Dear Diary — Josh @ 7:14 pm

Just a quick post after I went back the gallery, which was mainly closed for re-hanging when I was last there. Fully open today, and good fun. High Point: Arman Cello in Space, low point: the tartan trousers/skirts the staff wore. Yeuch.

February 17, 2010

Art in Montreal

Filed under: All,Dear Diary,Travel — Josh @ 6:24 pm
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There was a collection of sculptures by Alfred Laliberte, which were mostly fine (though I’m not much of a conneisseur of sculpture), but as usual, my eye was more drawn towards the comical – which in this instance was one entitled “Edouard Tasse fights the Devil”. No symbolism here, it was a straight punch up between the two of them. I’ve no idea who Tasse is or was, but he seemed to have Satan on the ropes, perhaps surprising given that Beezlebub has a bit of a reputation, but perhaps he’d had word to take a dive in the fifth round. Or maybe it was because Tasse’s right fist was almost as big as his head. I was also amused by the fact that the Devil had a cloak artfully arranged to cover his privates.

Possibly even funnier was a work by Frederick B Taylor which sought to warn the people of Quebec of the dangers of fascism by depicting a swastika in the sky. Not the most intrinsically hilarious of subjects, you might think, until you saw the date: 1942-1948(!). Given the urgency of the message, you might think Taylor might have upped his work rate (or else left it unfinished in 1945).

There was, of course, some great stuff there too. Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Young Woman and de Vlaminck’s Rueil près de Paris in particular. I also liked Valentin’s Abraham sacrificing Isaac though Abe doesn’t look too chuffed at being told he can spare his son, in fact he looks like he fully intends to slay the angel as well.

I’ve not been too complimentary about Canadian art, but I did like Dorian Fitzgerald’s, I guess neo-impressionist, Throne Room, Queluz Palace. I doubt it’s cool to admire contemporary representational art, but it’s very effective.

Then I went to the Contemporary Art Gallery and liked some more Canadian artists. The gallery is mainly devoted to temporary exhibitions, so it’s appeal is very much predicated on the quality of those. Fortunately for me, I liked both the Etienne Zack and Marcel Dzama shows. Dzama uses a limited number of motifs repeatedly (animals, guns, ballet dancers, soldiers, urophagia) but it’s very effective.

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