Thunderbirds are gone

Returned home after Christmas to hear the sad news about Gerry Anderson. I don’t know a lot about the man but I get the impression he would have rather been making movies with real people than working with puppets, but he did amazing things with those lumps of wood and string and created whole worlds as brilliantly realized as any in children’s entertainment or literature. I can’t think of anyone who is responsible for as many icons of my childhood as him, or whose creations inhabited such a large part of my imagination. My toy collection would have been a hell of a lot smaller too.

Download: Thunderbirds Are Go – The Rezillos (mp3)

Something for the Christmas Week

Time to shut up shop for Christmas. I’m off to the in-laws for a week of sitting in a comfy chair and reading a book and hopefully not much else. Hope you and yours have good one and I’ll see you in 2013.

Download: Last Train to Christmas – April March (mp3)

That was also the year that was

The biggest personal events for me in 2012 were losing my job and turning 50 which could have been an awful double whammy but turned out not so bad in the end. Temp/freelance work has been pretty steady and my birthday ended up being a happy, memorable event thanks to my lovely wife and some surprise guests. Otherwise these were the highlights of my year. How was it for you?

HE’S DONE IT!!!!!!!
In 40 years of supporting Chelsea I have never gone as deliriously batshit happy crazy as I did when that penalty went in.

The Olympics
Hard to pick one clip that summed up the magnificence of London 2012 – one that I’m not legally forbidden from embedding here anyway — so this will do. What a couple of weeks that was, eh?

I went pretty berserk then, too. Gary Neville wasn’t the only one having an orgasm at that moment.

The Heavenly Saints
Going in I was a bit nervous that seeing Saint Etienne live wouldn’t live up to my expectations, coming out I was floating on a happy cloud in pop heaven.

Republican Math
Obama winning a second term was sweet enough, but putting on Fox News to enjoy some schadenfreude and see evil Karl Rove desperately trying to deny the reality before his piggy little eyes was a treat for the ages.

And the winner is…

Congratulations Rick for being so meta. Personally I would have gone with Roger saying “Freddie, sometimes a banana is just a banana.”

That was the year that was

Another year, another list. I know, yawn. I’ve tried to avoid doing it, but whatever genetic trait that makes one like music more than is healthy also give you the irresistible urge to make lists, ordering and categorizing your preferences in an attempt to put some grand meaning into the simple business of liking something. It also reeks of the status games that music snobs are prey to — behold my impeccable taste! But I’m not saying these are the best albums of the year, just my favourite ones. Which, I guess, does make them the best as far as I’m concerned, and if you don’t think so, well, then your taste isn’t as good as mine. Loser.

While 2012 wasn’t quite 1971 good it was still a bloody good year, the best I can remember in a while. To get this list down to five I had to leave some good records on the cutting room floor which, while not exactly Sophie’s Choice, was tough.

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
I know what I said above, but this was the best album of the year, at least if it’s position at the top of nearly every other best-of-2012 list offers any empirical proof of that status. The best by several furlongs too. It had it’s ordinary moments but at times (like the astonishing “Pyramids”) it was as good as Stevie and Marvin at their peak — and I say that without for a minute worrying that I’m indulging in hyperbole.

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
With it’s orchestras and choirs Natasha Khan’s third album was her most widescreen and expansive yet. But it was also her most intimate as she often sounded as naked as she was on the cover. This time there was no make-up, wigs, or feathers — just her soaring, expressive voice shining through on a set of gorgeous electronic chamber-pop.

Father John Misty – Fear Fun
A concept album about moving from the rainy Northeast to sunny, crazy California, in the process having an identity crisis, doing drugs, writing a novel, and having dodgy sex with dangerous women. Josh Tillman made his personal trials and tribulations sound like the funnest, wackiest trip in the world, dropping the earnest and precious harmonies of his previous band Fleet Foxes for a looser Californian country-folk-rock swagger and a bunch of brilliantly funny, sardonic, and sexy songs. Best sleeve of the year too.

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Johanna and Klara Söderberg have the voices of Appalachian angels, their stunning harmonies and haunting folk songs sounding steeped in the dirt and smells of the American landscape and as lived-in as an old cowboy boot — which is quite something as they’re a pair of Swedish girls barely out of their teens.

Metric – Synthetica
If you’re my age you probably bought a lot of angular, punchy New Wave records made by bands with skinny ties when you were a teenager. Synthetica was like those records made by a band that was older and wiser, full of Blondie-size pop hooks driven by the icy synth propulsion of Magazine. And when I was a teenager I would have had a poster of lead singer Emily Haines on my wall too.

Honourable Mentions
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber
Saint Etienne — Words and Music
Cate Le Bon — Cryk
Chromatics — Kill For Love

Something for the Weekend

This jam was da bomb back in the day. Or something like that.

Caption Competition

I’m probably asking for trouble with this one.

New Monday

It was a major oversight on my part not to include Katy B’s On A Mission in the list of my favourite albums of 2011 because it was one of the best dance albums I’ve heard since Madonna was in her pomp. Hopefully one day she’ll find it in her heart forgive me.

Now she’s back with a four-song EP called Danger which is terrific and you can download it for FREE from her website. This video is another of those “out on the town” jobs that Londoners can play spot-the-location with, though judging by the Brick Lane sign a lot of it takes place in the East End which was far from being a trendy destination when I lived in London. I did my first year of art college in Whitechapel and back then Brick Lane was almost Dickensian in its squalor and Docklands was a wasteland.

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com





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