What I’ve been listening to this week

My music taste is pretty eclectic (doesn’t everyone say that?).

Here’s a few albums I’ve been listening to on and off.

The war on drugs
Ambient Oasis-esque, quite liking where it was going, not sure my life was long enough to wait for them though. Full marks for milking it though. Nice album cover too.

Gentleman’s Pistols
Loving the 70’s Thin Lizzy/Ozzy double zz references, reminded me instantly of pubs that smelt of patchouli oil, afghan coats and the likelihood of a slap from a bearded biker type. Another great cover in a kind of ‘smell the glove’ kind of way.

Frightened Rabbit
Delicate and lovely like a wispy folky beard that might blow away in the morning wind. Surely this trend is behind us: every band sounds like this right now. One thing that slightly unnerves me – one member of the band DOESN’T have a wispy, folky beard. Call the record company.

Fucked Up
Best named brand by far. Does the music match the hedonistic nature of the name? Almost. And these guys I suspect will be pretty awesome live. Blew off some cobwebs. Lead singer is clearly the embodiment of the band name (see above).

Thurston Moore
Mature and confident and with plenty of guitar to boot. Two tracks of this stuff would have been plenty, a full album of it is a little too much.

New blood needed

We recently asked Culture Vultures’ readers to choose a book for our book club. For good measure, CV also suggested introducing a controversial guest female reviewer into our all-male bookclub as part of the process. All in all, we found the entire process a really positive experience and a real eye opener into how we could bring some new people and ideas into what we do.

On one hand, we could quite happily carry on as we are and have been doing for the last 6 years – reading books, drinking red wine, causing a ruckus in The Cross keys…but we do like to change and develop and we feel that the time is right to invite some new members to join us.

We could simply ask people we know, but as we generally came together not really knowing each other, we feel that we should continue in this vein and find new members that none of us know.  Then we had a brainwave: why not ask the readership of the Culture Vulture if anyone out there would like to join the Boys Book Club. And we’re looking for two people to join – do you fancy it?

This of course raises a whole host of questions and issues.  Firstly how do you go about choosing people to join without it turning into the new lodger interview scene from Shallow Grave?  I like the famous Groucho Marx quote “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member” and I suspect that if any of our current members applied or been interviewed to join this book club, we probably wouldn’t have got in.

And then the questions began…

  • What if more than two people want to join ?
  • Do we simply go random and put names in a hat?
  • Shall we ask people to give a short reason on why they would like to join?
  • Should we ask people to pick their favourite books?
  • How about first come first served?
  • Are we still going to be a Boys Only Book Club?

The more you think about it, the more complicated it gets! On top of this, we’re very concerned about coming across as some worthy literary types deciding who is deemed suitable to join us – that’s definitely not what we are about.  We came together randomly, have a great time and would like two people to join in and share that with us.  Every one of us has brought interesting experiences to our discussions and we have no doubt that the new people would do the same.

I think it’s worth noting that there is a certain amount of process and rigour to what we do (see original post for full details) so any new person coming along would need to a) read the book (and there will be a wide variety of books read) and b) be prepared to give their view of that book (not some Googled researched view but their view).  We meet roughly every 4 weeks (usually the 1stFriday of the month) and we normally meet in a pub in Leeds.

If you fancy it then we think that the best thing is to send in a very short expression of interest to Ian at the following address: street.ian@virginmedia.com and we’ll then pick two candidates.  It could be that we end up picking more than two people and they could come along and meet us to see if you fancy being part of it – to be honest, we’re still not sure the best way to do this just that we want to do it.  One other thing we did think is that if there are a few people interested then perhaps we could put other people in touch and hey presto a new random book club is formed.  By the way, if you have any bright ideas to help with our ‘difficult’ process then please leave them in the comments section below.

Over to you…

All the books we’ve ever read

I love this image – this is the cover art for all of the books we’ve read in book club.

It gives me a real sense of achievement when I look at it and each book cover reminds me of the book immediately and brings back the feelings and emotions I had for each book when I was reading it. They also serve to remind me how important the design of a book cover is and if a publisher or author gets it right it completely adds to the overall experience and if they get it wrong how it compounds the any negativity I have about it.

Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover?

Are you a geek or a nerd?

This is brilliant – I’m definitely a geek….and proud of it.

A tribute to Lem

Recently I learnt of the sad death of one of my true inspirations, Laimonis Mierins.

Known affectionately to everyone as Lem, he taught drawing at Jacob Kramer College in Leeds (which is now Leeds College of Art). Lem was a native Latvian who had settled in West Yorkshire during the second world war and he seemed sophisticated and mysterious to this green 16 year old.

So it was with great trepidation that I approached my first life drawing class with Lem. I can remember the over heated studio like it was yesterday and the sheer feeling of terror picking up a piece of charcoal to draw a nude woman still gives me the shakes.

But Lem cajoled, bullied, encouraged, laughed, took the piss – in short did everything to get us looking, seeing, drawing properly.

We soon moved on to drawing with a pen on paper, no pencil, no sketching. ‘Just make your mark!’ he would insist, just before bring out his Tommy Gun from his little office (literally a real gun, by the way, but without bullets obviously).

‘Bloddy Hell, people!!’ was his catchphrase and his heavy Latvian accent lent an air of fear and mystery to what were already dramatic classes. But his style was inspirational and soon we were all looking forward to drawing classes and we spread our wings wider and started drawing everything we saw both inside and outside the college.

Lem encouraged us to truly study what we drew and didn’t mind if every single detail was accurate – ‘I bloddy believe it…I don’t care!!’ There was a handful of us who loved drawing and continue looking and making marks, drawing what we see. And that’s all because of Lem.

I think I became a good designer because of Lem. He taught me to really look and consider things carefully – traits which set me in good stead as designer. I’ve lost count of the number of designers whose careers and lived have been touched by Lem – he was just one of those people you meet in life who make an indelible impression.

He was completely unique and the world has lost one of its true characters. RIP Lem, you will be missed.


2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.