Yo Mae Leh by Invisible Minds.


This song has been haunting me since its release on 30th October last year.

Gorgeous is the only word I can find to describe it adequately.

It’s from an anonymous bunch of musicians, and more is promised from them.  Listen carefully and you will hear that the title is the lyrics.  I put them into Google translate and it detected Japanese; and the translation?

An entirely unhelpful ‘Yes h’.

Anyway enjoy it.

Swing Time By Zadie Smith: Book Review.


 

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Zadie Smith is one of my go-to authors. Of her five published novels I’ve read four of them (NW being the exception).

She captures a small class of striving and/or educated London black people (led by women) that must strongly appeal to sociologists and social workers alongside the creative ‘set’ that find favour in the modern day Labour party.  This particular novel straddles all of these groups with its focus on dancers and musicians as its central protagonists.

It’s a type.  she knows them well.  And, let’s face it, Smith’s work feels deeply autobiographical.

It’s a million miles from the Scottish, suburban, middle class, extremely white community that I live in; although my circle does have feet in Smith’s more creative circles.

I shouldn’t really connect with her work but, like many others from outside that ‘set’, I do, strongly.

And that’s because of the sheer quality of her writing.  Let’s face it, there’s a reason she has won more awards than Usain Bolt.

To define her writing would be to say she overlays great story writing with poetic largesse and great character studies.

They spellbind.

Usually.

Swing Time, her latest, long listed for the Booker, somehow misses quite a few beats – despite its subject matter being music and dance.  Maybe I took too long to read it, but parts of it really did not connect with me at all.

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Swing Time, the movie by George Stevens that inspired the book title.

It concerns the life of a young (pretty untalented) wannabe dancer who ends up as travelling PA to a global pop star phenomenon called Aimee (the choice of name is probably deliberate although Aimee is no Winehouse; more a cross between Adele and Madonna with some Angelique Jolie thrown in).

Ignored by her thrusting Labour politician mother, spurned by her childhood bestie (a low grade touring musical theatre dancer) and living a lie with her African lover our main (unnamed) protagonist recalls four decades of her life from lowly roots in London to the aforementioned glittering lifestyle that takes her to New York and Africa.

In parts its funny (not many) in parts poignant but, sadly, in most parts (particularly the African sections) it’s turgid, drawn out and uneventful.

I so wanted to like this exploration of humanity – it touches on many important emotions; most of all estrangement and lack of engagement with family and/or friends.  but it just couldn’t root in my brain.  I didn’t much care for the narrator.  I found the African sections boring and the whole a bit disjointed and the story?  Meh!  All a bit of a 21st century collection of tropes and news stories stitched together by a woman we don’t much care for.

Lacking in dramatic tension and not her best.  Start with White Teeth or On Beauty if you want great Smith.

 

Creeped out!


In an interesting twist of fate Radiohead are suing Lana Del Rey for copying Creep in her song Get Free.  I say interesting because The Hollies previously sued Radiohead for exactly the same reason, accusing them of copying ‘The Air that I Breathe” in creating Creep.

Have a listen for yourself.  I have to say, both have a point.

 

 

 

The best song I’ve heard in a long, long time. (But it comes with a strong Parental Advisory warning.)


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You heard Baxter Durie’s Miami yet?

I know, it’s been out a while and I only heard it as background music on its single release.  But now that I have the album and a new pair of amazing Bose headphones its menace becomes clearer.

On 6 Music I heard some chat about it that a parent was using the phrase ‘I’m the sausage man’ to scare their kids.  I think that may be going too far.

Anyway it’s a deeply poisonous piece of writing that Nick Cave would either be giving his right arm for or covering on his next release (perhaps a future Grinderman staple).

The lyrics are incredible.

The throbbing repetitive baseline is addictive but set against the string arrangement it’s unique.

The contrast between his, frankly, satanical voice and his angelic foil, Madeleine Hart, is breathtaking.

And then there’s the video…

[Female choirs]
Welcome to Miami now
Broken promises are here
I don’t know you don’t know
Welcome to Miami now

[Baxter Dury]
I don’t think you realise how successful I am
I’m like a shipping tycoon
Full of promise and cum
I’m a salamander
Short riff lover-boy
Causing grief to the bleeding eyes
I’m the turgid fucked up little goat
Pissing on your fucking hill
And you can’t shit me out
‘Cos you can’t catch me
‘Cos you’re so fat
So fuck ya
I’m Miami

[Female choirs]
Welcome to Miami now
Broken promises are here
I don’t know you don’t know
Welcome to Miami now
[Baxter Dury]
I don’t think you know who I am
I’m the sausage man
The shadow licker
I’m the tiny little ghost
That features in your despondent moments
The timeless whisper
The glassy dude
I’m the science of all that’s wrong
And I’m making you think that you doubt
Everything you love
But I’m here to stay
I’m Miami

[Female choirs]
Welcome to Miami now
Broken promises are here
I don’t know you don’t know
Welcome to Miami now

[Baxter Dury]
I’m the great sleeper
I’m the bookkeeper
I’m the vicar
I’m the main course
I’m Morgan Freeman
I cut master Neon Angels
I’m the night chef
The eye doctor
Mister Maserati
I’m king of the migraines
Soiled Lord of Tears
I’m the urban goose
I’m a river of dead fish
I’m Miami
[Female choirs]
Welcome to Miami now
Broken promises are here
I don’t know you don’t know
Welcome to Miami now

Battle of the Sexes: Movie review.


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Whilst Emma Stone puts down her marker for a possible third Oscar nomination the film as a whole left me slightly cold.  But then, when did you last see a GREAT tennis movie.  That’s right.  You didn’t.

But this potentially offered more because it appeared multi layered and could have been more nuanced than it is.

It tackles two themes simultaneously.  First, Billie Jean King’s lesbian relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) that eventually ended in controversy as she was publicly outed by her lover when they split in 1981.  Throughout King remained married to her first love Larry (played sympathetically but a little limply by Austin Stowell).  This is handled very tastefully and, for me, was the better part of the whole.

Second, and the source of the title, the movie explores sexism in the women’s tennis game that led to her breaking away from the WTA and its sexist president, Jack Kramer (in an unconvincing performance by Bill Pullman), and taking on a challenge billed as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES with 55 year old ex tennis champion and self proclaimed Male Chauvinist, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).

I disliked Carell’s part greatly, not because he didn’t perform it well but that it is written to make him out to be a complete idiot (which no doubt he was).  He becomes a caricature of himself quickly and I neither liked nor disliked him (I was annoyed by him though).  It all makes for a strange mix of comedy, politics, sexuality and revolt.

And the revolt was all too gentlemanly for me – despite the subject matter and the ire it must have stirred nobody really ever loses the plot and so the film lacks edge and dramatic tension.

What’s more, it’s 30 minutes too long and the overwrought soundtrack (Nicholas Britell – it really is a shocker) is over-pervasive and just plain annoying.

Emma Stone rarely puts a foot wrong in my view and at times you really do think BJK is on screen.  That part, and the general 70’s styling of the movie, is excellent but it’s ponderously directed and although the final shoot out between BJK and Riggs has an element of tension we all know the outcome and Britell’s pomp and circumstance was gradually doing my nut in.

Just because you loved Little Miss Sunshine it does not follow that you will love this.

 

A new venture. Spotted by Locals; Edinburgh.


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Look out for my impending travel writing.  I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals.  A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.

It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.

Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start.  Looking forward to it.  If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.