The Guardian, always our finest newspaper (Comment is free, but facts are sacred), ran a story about the Nottingham music scene. Alongside the usual places (Rock City, Bodega etc) Jamcafe gets a mention which is nice to see. I was constantly amazed by how many Nottingham students barely knew Hockley beyond the cinema or to the sides of Market Bar. It’s the only different area in the city! Fewer still knew the Jamcafe even if they knew the cinema on the previous street.

I may have had a few choice words to say about the¬†largesse of the city’s impact but I was always and still am impressed by the amount of acoustic music nights around town. I salute Notts for that ūüôā

Anyway the article is below.


The Tallest Man on Earth

Oh but rumor has it that I wasn’t born,¬†I just walked in one frosty morn.
Into the vision of some vacant mind

I’ve been listening to The Tallest Man on Earth recently after a prolonged break for various technical (sound on lappie and MP3 not working for starters) reasons. I’m also finally getting my guitar back rather than playing my knackered five-stringer right now. A little like a Milan Kundera character, he sings in mystical prose what you’ve been thinking but are unable to articulate. But while his lyrics make take a reading to fully understand, like a Girls review I wrote recently, his ability as a man to use his words to open himself up and expose his feelings without fear is honest and heart-warming. Ahh you gotta smile! I love this guy.

Mike Holland just informed me of this too

Ed Milliband

I’ll update this as the speech goes along.

I’ve only just got back to watch this. Despite his schoolboy look and the lisp, Milliband has impressed to a degree. Of course its easier to look dynamic when you aren’t in power or even close but his speech is littered with some solid ideas taking about more intervention into the economy.

I liked his statement about the tender system in the UK. While almost all other countries favour their companies in the tender process with the understanding of the social consequences of the economic system. The handing of the contract to Siemens over Bombardier resulted in 3,000 jobs lost in Derby. 3,000 workers on the dole with the benefit pay-outs that entails, the loss of skills, pride and health implications. They are huge and yet it is always the overt economic interests that remains paramount under too many governments including Labour.

The focus on the continuing privatisation of the health service is correct. Colin Leys has written widely about this. While Labour continuing the free market into the NHS, with their history, they could never move to the lengths Cameron is.

The section about student¬†tuition¬†fees joking about Dick Clegg making promises he couldn’t keep was fairly short and inconsequential. He promised to help, open access etc, maintain fees at a lower level. He has the Universities on his side judging by the news today.

Terrible song at the end! You got the love:) Not a bad speech though Ed still looks fairly bland when speaking. While the analysis is there, plenty of questions about how fairness and responsibility are to succeed remain.

Great album: Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

The Big Guns have fallen silent fairly quiet on the release-front this year after a mammoth 2010. Only Jay-Z and Kanye have churned out an entertaining free-for-all while The Strokes’ just continue to free fall. But despair not, that’s merely left the field open for the young pretenders, for the new generation to get some attention. The Cults, Fleet Foxes, Fucked Up and Bon Iver have all produced excellent second albums in 2011 as the US continues to lead the way.

A latest release merely confirms it. Father, Son, Holy Ghost by Girls is the follow-up to their 2009 debut. Despite hailing from San Francisco and formerly playing with Ariel Pink, Girls have a brooding, meandering take on life and love. Bon Iver famously wrote an album in a wooden shack about the break up of a relationship. Owens takes it further here pulling out all the romanticism anyone could muster.

Owens’ back story needs quick explanation for its evident in his lyrics. He grew up in the Children of God cult, a collection of hippy ‘colonies’ emphasising spirituality and free love to the hippiest degree. As a consequence, Owens’ song-writing is marked by his openness which could sound a touch mopey to the un-informed.

He gives a lot of himself away in his lyrics, risks being laughed, putting feelings before reality without fear. He reminds you of the great and lost Elliott Smith. Despite this, its actually pretty uplifting and joyous, like you’ve hit rock bottom and you’ve decided to go up.

Musically its close to the ridiculous at times with gospel singing and organs, like a moody Beach Boys or Fleetwood Mac. Stand-out tunes include the breezy opener Honey Bunny, Alex, Jamie Marie (yes he still sings about girls who got away), Forgiveness and the epic Vomit.

Owens’ extravagant self-generosity never becomes a burden. You simply develop an appreciation of someone who isn’t closed and knows he can’t make it on his own. A real emotive and sort of happy album.

Nottingham Mark Two

So I returned to Nottingham last weekend. While I kinda missed the place, I certainly missed the people I met. Last weekend a lot of the MA-ers were handing in their dissertations and I wanted to see them, look at the place again and see a street art exhibit at the Contemporary. I managed to do most.

You might have read the blog I re-posted on FB dispensing my initial thoughts of the city (town?) from July 2010. Reaction was swift from locals in particular who felt I’d done the place a disservice. Jon called it harsh (but liked the ending), Siobhan referred to Nottingham as a¬†aesthetic¬†and cultural dream (come on…!) while Ashley assumed I didn’t like it. Well I did.

Last weekend was the marathon which in 2010 had marked my first weekend in the flat, a pretty but cold place with high ceilings, no TV or internet and ultimately too damn far away from Uni. I checked the TV this weekend and Big Fish was on, one of my favourite films. That was on last year too.  I love that film. So it all means its been one year for Mila and Basia too, since I met Mila and gave her the keys to the flat before running off somewhere for something.

I mentioned I found the city a curiosity. But there are small gems mostly in the Hockley area; Broadway cinema, Rosey’s Tea Shop, Jam Cafe or the Contemporary. Further a-field there’s the Orange Tree, Sir John, Crocus Cafe, The Golden Fleece, The Maze, the cheesecake shop etc. All these places became my haunts. I’m a recognised face, for better or worse. ūüôā

I said ‘I was a fool for now’ in the original piece lulled in by the city’s gentle atmosphere. Little changed overall. As I got to know it, I liked it more, felt comfortable and found my homes with ease. The city is still very walk-able (except to Uni), the roads and pavements are quiet and the townsfolk are kind. A serious saving grace are the music venues, acoustic nights everywhere and plenty of international bands called through.

As you can tell I’m still pretty¬†ambivalent about the city but in a positive warm way. I think a lot is related to the University. It does have an out the way, ivory tower feel about it. It lacks a hub. The Union building feels like a shell, the bar is paltry and only the library or just outside could be considered a meeting point. It lacks a community vibrancy, a homely feel. Its almost a chore to get there. Lenton and Beeston are the same. They can’t act as student hubs for they lack the infrastructure. No pubs, no real cafe, no communal vibe.

There’s a Cathedral. Did you now that? You may have walked past it on numerous occasion but it looks more like a small church. There’s a castle that isn’t. It also lacks, and this may be a benefit a distinctive street or area like Broad Street in Birmingham, famous for its run of pubs and curry houses or Big Market in Newcastle. The higgledy-piggledy nature of the centre with its weaving streets and lanes make it difficult to gather an image.

But putting it all in relative perspective, few cities in the UK stand out. Bristol has a vibrant music scene with access to the sea, Liverpool is Newcastle plus The Beatles, Manchester is trying to go Northern Cosmopolitan, Bath and York are lovely but quaint. Only Edinburgh, Brighton and London stand out as go-to cities. Nowhere else really stands up.

Returning to study will be interesting. Many friends who came to visit referred to the city jokingly as Nothingham. There was even going to be a Uni magazine article about it. I can understand that. At first glance, that’s pretty much all you see. But the city does have the amenities but without the distractions. It feels comfortable without the sprawl and contains hidden, small delights without the swarm. As someone I know would say, ‘it’s aright.’

Forest 3 – Newcastle 4

Alan Hansen wouldn’t like the defending (or the fact that defenders scored)but this was a rollicking good cup-tie in front of 10,000 fans. A much-changed Newcastle team scrapped home in the end in a fairly evenly-fought contest.

Newcastle went ahead just before the break when Peter Lovenkrands met a gorgeously-whipped cross from new signing Marveaux. From that moment you feared for Forest and McClaren who’ve started the season poorly conceding too many at the back while Newcastle look pretty tight in that department.

McClaren must have said something because after the break, a real see-saw battle commenced and Forest showed real fight and pride. Findley raked in the equaliser before I’d finished my half-time pie (which was mildly upsetting) as the Newcastle defence backed off . Lovenkrands converted a penalty after 66 minutes after Marveaux was clipped in the box before Derbyshire rounded Newcastle d√©butante keeper Elliot (where the hell is Steve Harper?) just minutes later to make it 3-3.

Extra time kicked off with a bizarre twist. The Ameobi brothers (Shola and Sammi) to were both on to add some bandy-legged entertainment and were soon celebrating the bizarre when Simpson’s cross drifted over the Forest keeper to send us all dancing (I’d finished my pie). But Forest kept pressing and after some good work down the left, Tudgay tapped in the cross as the Newcastle defence stood watching.

Penalties were seemingly on the cards but Sammi Ameobi and Obertan combined to provide the cross for Captain Coloccini (on loan from The Killers) to head the ball home. The away end exploded in celebration at winning another 4-3 away from home in the League Cup 3rd Round. Forest can take some consolation from this. They take heart but the failings in the league were still evident here. McClaren is running out of time.