The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake


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This record has repeatedly been brought to my attention by my most respected muso fans, Fowler and Karlossus, in recent weeks.  It also gets respectable but surprisingly not brilliant reviews on Metacritic.com.  However it unquestionably drops straight into the running for album of the year having purchased it on Friday.  The opening track, Roscoe, is the best opening to an album I can recall for a considerable time – as is the convention in music these days the first track (the hook) is the best, but repeated listening quickly brings it back to the field. 

It’s an odd sort of concept album set in a mysterious land (American settlers?) and in that respect one might compare it to Ys by Joanna Newsom; but not in any other, or even to Sufjan Stevens’ American States project. 

It’s a complex love story centred around Van Occupanther and his band of settlers who seem to be gradually starving to death as they cannot glean enough food from the land and this leads to a journey from the land to the sea and possible survival.  It ends on a cliffhanger (almost literally).  I can’t wait till the next instalment.

It has shades of Fleetwood Mac (who I don’t like very much) in the arrangements and is, despite both the cover and the lyrics, a very accessible disc indeed.

 Go on take a risk.  Get it. 

In sympathy for Elvis


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Ok, I am a Hibs fan and you might wonder why on earth my first ever footie post is about the Jambos, but I cannot help but stick up for the rights of Steven (Elvis) Pressley in his predicament at Hearts.

Pressley is a model professional.  I would almost go as far as to say I like him.  He has put in many excellent performances for Scotland and is as articulate as any football professional plying their trade outside of the hallowed land in Leith, where the sun is most certainly shining. 

I admire, unreservedly, the stance ‘Elvis’ has taken against the farce that is ‘the Romanov Revolution’.  That particular movement was concieved amid the joy of Hearts success in reaching second in the league against the backdrop of a woeful Rangers and winning the cup (just) against Gretna.  Their exploits in Europe in general and in the Champions League in particular are best overlooked. 

As it turns out the ‘Romanov Revolution’ is an extraordinarily well concieved notion.  Although it was never meant to be an apocalyptic vision.

Romanov is singularly the worst thing ever to happen to Hearts.  And it’s right up there with the worst in Scottish footballl history.  I am embarrased about the whole fiasco and I don’t even support the team.

He makes the Pieman look like The Messiah.  Hearts do not need a White Knight now; they need the whole of ruddy Camelot with the Heath ledger and his mates in reserve.

I’d laugh (and I have) but, you know what, it’s not funny anymore.

One last point.  Has Elvis had to forego a looming testimonial year because of his principled outspokenness?  If he has I think you Jambos out there need to do something about that.