Miles vs Swann

Leanne Swann is one of my best friends, and one of the top ten best-looking women in East Yorkshire. I met her back when I was twenty years old as part of the Andy’s Records massive, the best job I have ever had. As she will tell you, she is a complete geek, and she has something planned that she wants to tell you about.
leanne nerd
Tell the good people a little bit about yourself.

I’m Leanne, I’m 32 and I’m a huge nerd. I’ve worked in caring last four years and have recently started volunteering for ‘we are hull’ as a digital marketer. My top fav films are Labyrinth, The Lost Boys and the Crow. I like dressing up in Cosplay. I love Batman, disturbingly half of my wardrobe now consists of batman branded clothing, so I’d say I’m bordering on obsessive now. I still watch wrestling as I’m yet to have grown out of that one! When I have the spare time I love reading Edgar Allen Poe, i like to draw and I have recently taken up writing thanks to a friend’s inspirational words. And most of all I love music and pretty much have a playlist for everything I do.

You have something planned. What is it?

Yes, I am really excited! Along with a few friends i have arranged a festival called Macmillan Fest.

So, what can we expect to see at this shindig?

A mini Glastonbury really. The venue has a huge beer garden so we plan to utilise this, we have a massive HGV trailer which has been donated as a stage for the day. There will be a BBQ with local fresh produce, a vast amount of alcohol of course, and lots of amazing local bands. It’s set to be an amazing day guaranteed, the only thing we can’t promise is good weather really! But that’s what wellies where invented for right!?

Tell us about the acts that are going to be a part of this?

We have been really lucky in securing some amazing local talent and they are all playing for absolutely nothing! I don’t want to give too much away yet but I can certainly tell you about a few of them.

‘THE BEAUTIFUL HOUSEMARTIN’ with covers from The Housemartins and Beautiful South. He has performed at Hullfest and Hessle Fest.

‘BROKEN GLASS’ are a 5 piece indie rock/alternative band with a female lead singer.

‘THE CHARM OFFENSIVE’ promising something a little bit different providing rock style covers of pop songs. We are excited to have these guys, you’re in for a treat!

Not only will Until Tomorrow be headlining Macmillan Fest but they will also be doing their ALBUM LAUNCH! Until Tomorrow are a Metalcore band based in Beverley. They recently featured on BBC Radio Humberside with their new single ‘April Fool’, a very catchy and energetic tune, not to be missed.

Richard Harries a local performance poet performing some of his comedy poems in between acts.

This sounds like you could make a lot of money from this. Are you looking forward to lining your pockets?

Not at all as it’s for charity we don’t stand to make a penny from this, all funds raised will go direct to the charity. All the bands and staff involved have kindly donating there time for free.

I see. Tell us a little bit about the charity you have chosen.

It’s for Macmillan Cancer Support, more specifically the Hull and East Riding Campaign.

How wonderful. Give us the details.

The Macmillan Hull and East Riding Campaign is a £1 million pound programme aiming to provide an additional 5 nurses to the area. I recently met with Becky our local Macmillan Manager who told me about this programme. I felt it was important that since the event was local the funds should stay local supporting friends and family who are affected by such an hurendous disease.


Excellent stuff. Please give us all the links and what not.

The event is taking place on Saturday 17th June between 2pm – 11pm at Loud Mouth Count Pub (formerly St George’s Pub), 120 St George’s Road, Hull, HU3 3QE.

We encourage people to like our Facebook page to keep up to date with the event and future band announcements:

Well I’m coming. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

That’s great, I look forward to seeing you there! We hope everyone else can pop down too, but for those who can’t I’d encourage them to please stop by our donations page and still show there support:

Hopefully this will be the first of an annual event that we can look to grow over the coming year so it’s exciting times.

I would just like to say a big thank you to Premier Logistics for donating the trailer, Whiteheads for donating the food, The Loud Mouth Count Pub for letting us use the venue, everyone else that’s helped out along the way he most importantly all the bands involved and it couldn’t go ahead with out them!




How’s it going?
I’m very happy today. I’ve been set a goal to make lots of new friends and I made a new friend today at the all-night chemist. He was called Spozz and I gave him three pounds because he’d just got out of prison and wanted to see his mum. He’s going to ring me tomorrow. I tried to give him my phone number but he said he could guess it.

You’re writing for this site because your primary goal in life didn’t work out. What was it?
My life goal is right on course. I’m going to be a famous genius rock singer. I’ve got two CDs coming out soon. They’re very good.

What were you like at school?

No one used to sit with me because I played with matches.

What is your all time favourite
a) Album? Bizarre Fruit by The M People. I like to dance to it sometimes.

b)Film? Free Willy. The acting is so good and I love Willy too.

c) Book? I don’t read much but I love Jeremy Clarkson’s books.

d) Sitcom? Mrs Brown’s Boys. She’s a man really! So funny.

What’s your most treasured material possession?

My He-man figures. Fisto is my favourite.

What is the single best item of clothing you’ve ever owned?
I don’t know really, I have someone who helps me with my clothes. She is called Karen. She got me a lovely coat from Matalan last year. It cost forty pounds.

Who is your favourite sportsperson ever?

I don’t like sport. At school they used to say to me, get in goal Nigel. They always used to make me go in goal. It wasn’t fair.

Other than property, what is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I don’t know really. My friend Kelly helps me when I need to buy things. I’m allowed twenty pounds a week to spend myself and I like to go to Pizza Hut or even sometimes buy some beers! Crazy!

What’s your poison?

I’m not allowed to touch the stuff under the sink.

Who is the funniest person you’ve ever met?The Chuckle Brothers. They turned the Christmas lights on in my village a few years ago and I talked to them. I laughed so much! They kept saying to me to you to me to you!

Pick five words to describe yourself.
I’m very clever and strong.

What’s in your pockets right now?

My mobile phone and my pencil and my card with my address on it that Kelly tells me I must always keep with me at all times.

Can you dance?

I really like to dance at my church disco at the end of every month. Sometimes they play Dancing In The Moonlight by Toploader and I just go mad!

Vinyl, Tape, CD or MP3?

I like CDs because I like using my CD player that Kelly got me for Christmas.

What are you most likely to complain about in a hotel?
I went on holiday to a hotel last week and I complained because they wouldn’t let me have my belt on and they took my shoelaces off my shoes so I had to wear my slippers.

What’s your most unpleasant characteristic?
Sometimes I can be a bit too clever for people and they don’t understand what I mean.

What’s your culinary speciality?
I’m not really allowed to do much cooking but I like to do pop tarts.

What single non-political thing winds you up the most?

The Storeman at my work. His name is Allen Miles but I call him Allen Piles. He bullies me and he is horrible to me and I go to the mangers about him all the time but they say it’s my own fault for drawing pictures of him and calling him a horrible arsehole. He is so mean to me and everyone laughs when he makes fun of me. He is a bad man.

What’s your greatest fear?

I’m frightened of Spiderman. I don’t see how a man can also be a spider. If he comes on telly I turn him off because I get confused and upset but not scared.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

I don’t know. I heard Kelly say to Karen the other day that if I die she’s going to play Beautiful Day by U2 so I should say that.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
A great rock star.

Recite a line of the greatest lyric ever written.

I don’t want to see a ghost,

That’s the sight that I fear most,

Rather have a piece of toast,

Watch the evening news.
It’s by Des’ree. I love Des’ree so much that I got those lines as a tattoo on my arm.

Happiness is…

Drawing with my new crayons and writing great new songs!

What are your plans for this weekend?
Karen and John are driving me to the garden centre so i can get some compost and plant my seeds. Then on Sunday I will go to church and have a bacon sandwich when I get home! Great times!

Nige is a musician, comedian, writer, singer and all-round entertainer from East Yorkshire. He lives by himself in a flat but his friend Kelly comes rind to help him from time to time. Nige enjoys dancing to his M People CD, going to Pizza Hut and colouring-in.

BASTARDS by Paul Featherstone


A nation awoke divided today. Half awoke to a brave new dawn, and half awoke to a monumental fucking nightmare all the rubbing of their eyes couldn’t get rid of. Some had partied through the night, some gawped in horror at televisions in scenes eerily reminiscent of the moment Lisa Simpson breaks Ralph Wiggums heart in slow-motion.

A stronger united country, in charge of our own destiny, was the dream sold. Except today I think we can all agree that we face a very divided nation, where not even the “Leave” campaign knows just what the FUCK happens next? I don’t watch “Game Of Thrones”, but I imagine it is a bit like that, without people shagging dragons or whatever it is that happens in it.

For the record, this is an opinion piece. I know it is a democracy and that it is the will of the nation. I know there are two sides to every story, you don’t need to do what my A-level teachers did and try and crush any lingering soul I may dare to bare.

This, is how it felt waking up as a “Remain” supporter today and Christ it was (and has ironically) remained grim all day. So, like the people at the ballot box let’s make some ill thought through, knee jerk reaction points about the whole thing!!!!




…..and I mean in droves, Brother. Another political event, where a supposedly disengaged young electorate turn up in strong numbers to shout loud and proud about what they want….only for the older electorate who are entirely more engaged (by parties, you know, engaging them) to turn up in higher numbers and ultimately take a decision that will wholly affect that age group out of their hands.

I understand how democracy works, I really do and I love it. However, a lot is happening in this world that future generations will have to deal with, that they simply did not ask for. In fact, they campaigned against it in huge numbers.

Tuition fees, leaving the EU, living with your parents until you are 46, Jamie Vardy NOT having a party in France. Young people don’t want this, but they have it thrust upon them.

This may not matter in the short term, but if a passionate group of young voters doesn’t come through that will vote throughout their lives or tell their children that- yes, voting does make a fucking difference, we will reach a saturation point of apathy.

That, my friends, is a recipe for the death of the democracy we so heavily shout about being exercised in this situations.

Who is smart enough, and quick enough to cotton on to that, will run the nation for the foreseeable future when they do.




An angry nation, sick of the out-of-touch political elite not listening, rises up in anger. Hear them roar, finally they will be heard. Years of righteous frustration, pent up and finally released.

The next day, the predominantly left wing and left-of-centre are told to stop being angry and to accept the decision. It is the will of the nation- suck it up.

Except you cannot complain about not being listened to, and being so goddamn angry that you just want to get out there and do something, and then deny that same indignation to those who don’t share your views, seeking to quell any passion they may show about the subject mere hours afterwards.

There is not a monopoly on being so fucking helplessly powerless in this country that you want to scream your lungs out for only the right wing or those in the “Leave” camp.

You have to allow people to vent, to get it out of their system, as odd as it may seem- allow them to grieve.

This referendum has shown, if you ignore and allow anger to fester, it explodes in lurch-to decisions no one expects to happen. That isn’t great for a powerful nation like ours. The established order may need shaking up, but if you haven’t a clue what the future even remotely holds, you cannot conceivably hold your standing in the world.

Let the Left be angry. Just this once. Most of them are Vegans anyway, they will expend more energy than a dying star and will go quiet soon enough.




Use facts? People are bored of “facts” and so-called “experts”. By the way, the most hated “so-called” group since Islamic State, surely?

Use realistic, apocalyptic examples of worst case scenarios that may result from either decision? That is “Project Fear”.

Try not to campaign too heavily in the wake of a colleague being murdered in the street, for fear of returning to the old, name-calling politics that may have led to it? Taxi for Corbyn!

Fuck a pig’s head? That’s aright, don’t resign…

Lose a 50/50 vote you promised in your manifesto (a manifesto littered with false promises you have failed to deliver on)…? See you later, Danepak Dick!


The established parties have no idea what to do out on the streets anymore? Labour feel like they are door knocking for Michael Foot, but should push Thatcher politics to get working class voters back.

Even Farage seemed like a mad, hormonal drunk teenager on results night. Picking fights, conceding, not conceding, winning, sticking a traffic cone on his head in Parliament Square, being sick in it and throwing it in Nick Robinsons face. Even he had no idea if it was working?

He even managed to forget he had erected massive 20 foot slogans on buses about funding the NHS with £350 million a week approximately 14 minutes after winning.

I mean, politicians are normally so coolly in charge of their lies, they at least remember them the fucking DAY they win!

He basically threw a load of shit formed bollocks into a desk fan and didn’t know how to wipe it off the walls when it actually fucking worked!




Labour back benchers need to get something through their thick fucking skulls- Jeremy Corbyn is loved by its members and is not going anywhere.

England football fans accepted James Milner 2 years ago. They hate him, but there he is warming up, because someone, somewhere likes him.

Have as many leadership challenges as you like, he is not getting shipped out anytime soon. Those who don’t engage with him tore their cards up years ago. Those who do are here to stay.

Either the party splits into a Socialist Labour Party led by Corbyn and the New Labour remnants led by someone like Andy Burnham, or they get behind him at the next election.

It will be a snap General Election, opposition parties do not win them. It would be foolish to not at least test the waters with Corbyn on a truly national level, for indications of what to focus on at the next fully-formed election. He is noble enough to step aside if it is a humiliating experience.

The immigration issue is well and truly put to bed. Labour won’t have to sheepishly pander to an issue they are uncomfortable in meeting head-on for at least a generation.

The focus now turns to the preservation of the NHS, defending workers and social rights we have under the EU and ensuring the money not sent to the EU is redistributed fairly, not to the elite. These are all Corbyn’s specialist subjects, and aligned with fact that turncoat Labour voters will surely never vote for Boris Johnson, George Osborne, Teresa May or Michael Gove, all hope may not be lost under him….




Generations turning on each other. Scotland wanting to clear off again. Your EU passport a distant relic your children will look at with intrigue. EU workers who adopted this nation as their home, had children here, integrated, looking over their shoulders for the big heave-ho out of here. Babybel Cheese becoming prison currency.

It may feel like a huge street party for Farage, but fundamentally the EU was set up to bring nations closer together.

We used to openly hate each other in Europe. We still do a bit, but it seemed we had learned to live with all our faults like the family we were.

If the project to all rely on each other and not be tiny islands is truly over, it is just a crushing blow for mankind’s ability to get on.

When the Berlin Wall came down, the idea of borders, of isolated people separated by gates and ideology seemed to be over. The Global Village is seemingly dying now.

Our future children won’t backpack around Europe freely anymore, and if they do it will be under the gaze of suspicion that greets strangers and unfamiliar accents.

Britain has pulled up the draw bridge, and in 20 years’ time it will feel that way to our distant European neighbours.

It may be the right thing for all our nations, but it says a huge amount about our ability to just get along and live together as individuals.

That isn’t pie-in-the-sky, liberal thinking. It is how we have learned to avoid war in modern Europe. Moving away from that won’t lead to World War Three, but dear fucking me, its bleakly defeatist about what we can achieve together.

I always felt European. I feel like a part of my life is dead now.




Sincerely……..well done. There won’t be a referendum on the break up of that.


IMG_20160625_152930Paul Featherstone is 34 years old and spends the majority of his time rubbing his temples in despair at the world he lives in. He is going grey and lives in the eternal hope that the world will be untied when James Corden’s career finally ends.



Music And Writing by Aidan Thorn

Music and writing, for me have always gone hand in hand. I can’t write without something on in the background (right now? Rival Sons, if you have to know). I guess it could be because I’m a failed musician that’s turned his hand to writing for that creative outlet. I actually find I enjoy the writing more – and it seems so does the audience, which is nice. But, I still think it’s a shame that my funk metal rap outfit, Acid Fungi, never took off when I was 14 – I think we had something in that one awkward jam session where the only person that could play his instrument was a young Daniel Pugsley, who’s actually a bona fide rock star these days as the bass player in reggae-metal band, Skindred.
It’s little wonder that when I first started writing, naively diving straight in with a novel, one of my main characters was a failed rock musician from a ‘90’s band that had found grunge a couple of years too late. I filled it with references of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. I remember re-visiting all of those classic albums during the writing of that book and getting lost for hours in tunes I hadn’t heard in years.
And, the novella I’m working on, that is probably a couple of weeks off finished, focuses on the accidental kidnapping of a rock star by a group of clueless twenty-somethings. I guess a psychiatrist would have a field day with me for putting my rock star characters in challenging situations.
With my short stories I feel they’re even more linked to my relationship with music. Because, every short story I’ve ever written gets a soundtrack in my head, it’s based on what I was listening to at the time of writing. And, I can pretty much remember every one of them. During much of the writing of my latest collection, Urban Decay, I was listening to a lot of British music – Xfm’s become a bit of a fixture in my life.
And so, the soundtrack to which I wrote my collection of stories set in the dark corners of urban Britain has a distinctly British flavor to it. Bloc Party, Jamie T, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Stone Roses, Pulp, Oasis, Blur, The Stones all feature heavily in my mind’s ear as I read back stories from this latest collection.
As a character walks a city street in my story, ‘Lucky’, in my head they do it with a swagger to the beat of Jamie T’s ‘Don’t You Find’. Morning breaks in my tale ‘Sign of the Times’ and for me Ben Howard provides the tunes. As the protagonists in ‘The Replacement’ drive through deserted urban streets at night, my ear hears Bloc Party’s ‘Banquet’ from their car stereo. And, as violence breaks out, as it inevitably does in many of the stories in a collection called Urban Decay, my head is filled with tracks by Royal Blood, Arctic Monkeys and The Prodigy.
There’s a distinctly British voice to Urban Decay. I’d suggest you grab a copy, dust off your Jam, Clash or Stone Roses LP’s and settle down for some tales from the underbelly of the city.

Aidan Thorn is a 33-year-old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titanic sailed from before sinking. Aidan would like to put Southampton on the map for something more than sinking ships and terrible R’N’B music. His latest short story collection ‘Urban Decay’ is available now and more about his writing can be found here

Andi Ware On: Why everyone should know about Jack Monroe.

Jack Monroe cooking

I want to begin by apologising to those that are aware of Jack Monroe and the difference that she has made. As January draws to a close it perhaps a little late to consider New Year’s resolutions but if like me you are a little heavier than you were before the festive period it may be worth taking the advice of this lady.

I first became aware of the Girl Called Jack in 2012 when I heard a feature on her on Radio 4’s The Woman’s Hour. I remember this vividly because everything she said seemed to strike a chord with me due some of my own recent experiences. For those that don’t know who Jack Monroe is she is a writer, journalist and poverty campaigner. She first gained a profile within the British press for her ultra-affordable recipes. After leaving her job at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service she felt the strain of being a single parent. The difficulty that she experienced in trying to feed her son coupled with remarks made by a local (Southend on Sea) Councillor that ‘druggies, drunks and single mums are ruining the High Street.’ caused Jack to respond with a blog called ‘A Girl Called Jack’ in which she wrote about issues facing those that were reliant on benefits and suggest ideas for good quality, low cost meals. The main stream press soon became interested Jack’s blog and Monroe soon featured in the Independent. She has since described Xanthe Clay’s article; ‘My 49p Lunch With A Girl Called Jack’, as the moment that changed her life.

The reason why I was so taken with Monroe’s story in 2013 was because I had at the time recently been through a time of financial difficulty. In 2011 I was made redundant. I was luckier than some in that I managed to secure some part time work immediately. However, I still found that my income was now a third of what it had been. Working only 2 and a half days a week meant that I on Thursday mornings I could shop but shop in my own way. This involved arming myself with what I dubbed the Skintsack; this was an old canvas rucksack that I had bought for a camping holiday a few years previous. Climbing on my bike I would head out to the outskirts of Hull where I would visit several farm shops where I was able to fill the Skintsack with fresh eggs, a back-breaking amount of fresh vegetables and fruit all for a less than a tenner. I would then hit the budget supermarkets where I would stock up on meat and fish. I would find that for little more than the cost of a large Domino’s pizza I was able to prepare quality meals for a week or so. It was during this period that I feel that I truly learned to cook. What I learned about cooking during this period was that it can be a hugely socially emancipating experience. Preparing a meal for four and knowing that it cost less than a fiver gives you a great sense of satisfaction.

At this point I feel that I must clear something up. I am not preaching, in that I am not suggesting that everyone on a low income should trawl their local rural areas for farm shops and cycle 15 miles just to gather the ingredients for an affordable meal. You see this is the beauty of Jack Monroe, all of the ingredients for her recipes can be found in Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Monroe is an advocate of value range foods and all of her recipes consist of these. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Monroe’s recipes is that they work, are very good and whilst following them you learn that good food can actually be very affordable whilst bad food tends to be incredibly expensive. I don’t wish to stereotype but I can only speak of my experience. In 2011 it just so happened that my wife and I had to move in to social rented housing on one of Hull’s most deprived estates. Both of us were struck by the number of take away deliveries we saw. Every night the estate was buzzing with hatch backs with Domino’s (other providers of pizza are available) signs on the roof or many of the local fast food establishments. I remember thinking about the amount of money that had been spent in the area on poor quality, high fat foods, in area that was not noted for material affluence. This probably sounds incredibly patronising and condescending. But I feel that it is food for thought. If these families had been aware of Jack Monroe would their eating habits have changed? Perhaps not, but the financial and health benefits may have been enormous had they had the same outlook as Jack.

Last year Jack Monroe excelled herself when she proposed that everyone that bought Starbuck’s coffee in the mornings on the way to work should for one day only have a filter coffee at home and spend the money that they would usually spend on their Starbuck’s on tins of value range food that they should then donate to a local food bank. A beautifully simplistic idea, perhaps if the British public did this for a week it may go some way to addressing the balance of Starbuck’s tax avoidance.

Whether you need austerity cuisine in your life or not Jack Monroe certainly deserves a degree of respect for what she has achieved in such a short period of time. He column including recipes are a weekly feature in The Guardian and her cook book is available in book shops now.

Xavier DwyerAndi Ware is 33 years-old, married and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that. Find him tweeting at @AWareA5


Ten Songs by Grant Nicol

A big thank you to Allen Miles for this opportunity and experience. I, like him, tried to do this without the plethora of British rock bands that I always seem to spout at people when they ask me what sort of music I listen to. Doing this list without The Cure, The Cult, The Smiths or Joy Division forced me to look at the bands and songs that influenced my tastes in somewhat more formative years and the moments of live magic that have stayed with me ever since rather than simply repeating the names of my favourite songs from my record collection. It has been a memorable experience recreating the moments that shaped my musical past and present.




  1. Add It Up – Violent Femmes

There was a time in my life, about a year in fact, when you couldn’t go to a party anywhere in Auckland without hearing the Violent Femmes first album in its entirety at least ten times over the course of any given evening. It became an anthem for every misconstrued, ill-thought of and awkward teenager there ever was. ‘Add It Up’ is a song about the difficulties of getting laid as a teenager aimed squarely at a demographic who think about nothing else. In New Zealand Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie and Victor DeLorenzo quickly became part of musical folklore and their concert in Auckland touring the mighty follow up album, ‘Hallowed Ground’ was extraordinary. Their eponymous first album went gold on our tiny islands faster than anywhere else in the world. Gordon’s haunting and yet menacing vocals still resonate today and it’s hard to imagine how bands such as the awesome Placebo could have ever existed without this one coming first.


  1. This Must Be The Place – Talking Heads

‘Speaking In Tongues’ was another album that was a revelation to my teenage ears. As was all of Talking Head’s early albums. ‘Fear Of Music’ and ‘Remain In Light’ have to be mentioned here as well. They opened my eyes and ears to the way that music could be looked upon as a performance art-form as opposed to simply a recorded medium. This culminated in their 1984 movie, ‘Stop Making Sense’ which was more like going to see a concert than a movie at the cinema with people dancing in the aisles and singing along to all the songs. Talking Heads become the uber-hip benchmark for all other cool bands of the late 70’s and early 80s. David Byrne and his collaborations with Brian Eno were also heavily influential especially their ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’ album which I had the dubious honour of listening to just as a dose of psilocybin was kicking in one night. ‘The Jezebel Spirit’ was indeed an interesting choice to start that night off with.


  1. A New England – Billy Bragg

This was the first real love affair I had with a musician’s work. I saw Billy Bragg five times over the course of a year and a half in Auckland. His brutal honesty and heart-broken lyrics hit a chord like no other performer at that time. Such simple and yet beautiful songs performed with just a guitar slung around his neck and his heart worn on both sleeves were a breath of fresh air in a time of synth-pop and New Romantic over-indulgences. His plaintiff love songs sung in his unmistakeable accent were unlike anything else we had heard in NZ before. His live concerts were raw and real with his cover of The Clash’s ‘Garageland’ in particular bringing back the best days of British punk. His songs rang out from the stage like poetry put to music. Sonnets with an electric guitar commenting on everyday life through the eyes of a realist trying so very hard not to become a cynic.


  1. Jennifer’s Veil – The Birthday Party

This song was the beginning of the end for me. Or the beginning of the beginning, or the end of the beginning of the end. Something like that. I’ll never know for sure. What it definitely was, was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the music, novels and screenplays of Nick Cave. My friends and I conspired to get this song to the top of Auckland student radio station BFM’s Alternative Top Ten chart and keep it there. And we did. For almost two whole months. The Mutiny EP was the first thing I listened to that scared me. It affected me in the same way that Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ did and the way the ‘The Exorcist’ did as well. It was proof that scary could be fun. It’s beautiful (albeit in a pretty weird fucking way) and it’s horrible too. It’s the musical equivalent of disease-ridden wounds and trench warfare nightmares that you could never fully recover from even if you did survive. Nick has gone on to write some of the most beautiful love songs ever written and some of the most disturbing images ever transmitted from one human being to another. And I love him for them both. For beauty and disgust go hand in hand in this world. That is an inescapable truth.


  1. Celebrated Summer – Husker Du

These guys were the greatest band in the world. The first sensitive and emotionally relevant punk band. The Clash had certainly been emotive but these guys wrote love songs. And meant them. It heralded the beginning of something completely new in punk and ‘New Day Rising’, ‘Flip Your Wig’, ‘Candy Apple Grey’ and ‘Warehouse: Songs And Stories’ were all staggering albums. If you were to look at the American rocks bands of the last thirty years there wouldn’t be too many of any quality who wouldn’t cite these guys as a significant influence. They were the first punk band to be signed to a major label and considering that they probably never allowed themselves to hit their potential the indent they left on music was truly unforgettable. Nirvana and The Foo Fighters in particular owe enormous debts to the trailblazing exploits of Husker Du. Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton gave their all so that others could follow in their footsteps.


  1. The Mission Soundtrack – Ennio Morricone

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a song but I couldn’t pick one track off this soundtrack that would have told the whole story. One night in the late 80s a group of friends and I headed to a disused WW2 bunker under an old gun emplacement dressed as outcasts from a Zodiac Mindwarp video. We spent the evening in there covered head to toe in leather, bandannas and the glowing liquid contents of a dozen Cyalume sticks sprayed liberally over every surface in the place, including ourselves. We were of course all completely off our heads on acid at the time. There could be no other explanation for such behaviour. The space we created looked like the universe seen inside out and upside down from the brain of a giant insect supernova and all the time we were listening to Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece. It was the most religious and spiritual experience of my life and if God does actually exist he was definitely checking us out that night. For we were on a par with him. Morricone’s music transports you to another time and place of your choosing. It is what cathedrals would sound like if they could make their own music without our help. It is a recording from above delivered to us through the ears, fingers and imagination of an Italian master. God bless him.


  1. Man of Golden Words – Mother Love Bone

The song I want to be buried to. Andy Wood’s painful soul-aching lyrics on this track from one of the greatest rock albums ever made can break your heart into a thousand pieces. And if you spend too much time thinking about how he was to die shortly after recording it they probably will. The sorrow within the songs on this album as it swells towards its end is immeasurable. Listening to it one night (with the aid of LSD admittedly) I realised that what on the outside appears to be a great American psychedelic rock album is actually the journal of a truly beautiful man sliding away from us into the arms of heroin. It starts off as a celebration of life and spirituality with the joyous ‘This Is Shangrila’ but slowly becomes darker and darker still until you find yourself at ‘Man Of Golden Words’ and ‘Crown Of Thorns’.

“Wanna show you something like the joy inside my heart, seems I’ve been living in the temple of the dog.”

‘Temple Of The Dog’ would become the tribute album made in his memory shortly after his death by his flatmate Chris Cornell and the guys who would go on to become Pearl Jam. Along with the death of Jeffrey Lee Pierce this was one of the greatest untimely losses ever to American rock.

  1. The Ship Song – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Now I know that technically I shouldn’t be using the same artist here twice but this seems so far removed from his earlier days with The Birthday Party that I thought I might get away with it. ‘The Ship Song’ was the song I wanted to get married to back in the days when I thought I might actually wind up getting married. They’re long gone but this is still one of the most sweepingly beautiful love songs ever written (along with ‘Are You The One That I’ve Been Waiting For’ and ‘Straight To You’) by a man who understands poetry as a way to woo any woman’s soul like no one else on this planet. No one still alive anyway. If this doesn’t make you want to fall in love your heart has long ceased to work properly. I have been fortunate enough to have seen Nick live twice. Once with The Bad Seeds and once solo with nothing more than a piano to aid him and frankly that’s all he needs. All his songs begin on a keyboard and songs such as ‘The Ship Song’ don’t need anything else.

news nick cave rc


  1. My Iron Lung – Radiohead

One of the greatest live experiences of my life. I saw Radiohead play in Sydney when they were at the peak of their powers touring ‘OK Computer’. At that point in their career they only had three albums to pick their set-list from which is what made the show so good. Because those albums were three of the finest rocks albums ever. ‘Pablo Honey’, ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’ are all completely different and that has always been part of what makes Radiohead so unique. Never wanting to stand still they have continually pushed the boundaries of what they have done. Thom Yorke’s towering vocals and Jonny Greenwood’s awesome prowess as a guitar player and multi-instrumentalist made them a true force to be reckoned with. These guys were quite simply magical in their heyday.


  1. Popplagið – Sigur Rós

The moment when the wave broke for me (to steal a phrase from the late great Hunter S. Thompson). A massive turning point in my life. Reduced to a gibbering speechless idiot after first seeing these guys live in Reykjavík I was forced to admit to myself that there was no other place on earth I wanted to live apart from Iceland. A move that has proved to be the best thing I’ve ever done with myself. They are still the most incredible live act I have ever seen and with six years in my twenties as a guitar technician for a number of rock bands I have seen hundreds of live shows. I have now seen Sigur Rós three times. I travelled to Denmark to see them at the Roskilde Festival and have also seen them in Dublin. They are beyond any doubt one of the ‘must see before you die’ bands in the world. The sensory overload that they inflict upon you at their concerts has reduced a number of people to tears. I had a girl standing in front of me at Roskilde who wept for about three songs. Not because there was anything wrong with her but because she was simply overwhelmed by what was going on in front of her. Their songs are from another planet. They don’t sing about anything. They open you up and let whatever is in there come out. Most of the time it is joy. In the shape of tears. Popplagið is the last song they play at all there shows because after it has finished there is simply nowhere left to go. They have taken you as far as you can go and it is simply time for them to let you go and get back to reality. You will probably find that your reality has changed a little bit after seeing them in the flesh. I did.


Grant is 45 and lives in Reykjavík where he is an author. He has two books published both of which are set in Iceland, ‘On A Small Island’ and ‘The Mistake’ are available on Amazon as eBooks or paperbacks at:



Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 2


Number 2 – Scott Walker – Tilt

I am well aware that very few of the people who read this article will have heard this album, and even fewer will like it. It is infamously one of, if not the, most difficult album ever released by a major artist, but before I tell you how good it is, a bit of context.

The Walker Brothers, in 1964, were the biggest band in the world. Bigger than The Beatles. Belting out magnificently rich and melancholy ballads, they were rabidly pursued by teenage girls who were confused by their hormones, wherever they went. As one story went, they were once surrounded by a legion of screaming harpees in their getaway car after a show, and they were so tenacious in their desire to gain contact with these impossibly handsome stars, that these sex-craved harridans actually managed to tip the car onto its roof, where underneath Messrs Engel, Maus and Leeds (none of them were actually called Walker) all sustained serious injuries. Noel Engle, who had been the bass player, and had played the part of Scott Walker, had been forced to the front of the band when a song called Love Her had called for a deeper voice. He was the best-looking member of the band, and after providing lead vocals on mega-hits The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore and Make It Easy On Yourself, retreated into himself, desperate to maintain his artistic integrity, terrified by the trappings of fame and fortune. In one interview, which is possibly the single coolest moment in the history of humanity, while his bandmates yapped away about on camera about how great it was to be making money and pulling endless broads, Scott lounged in the corner of the dressing room, his face masked by enormous shades and his shoulders wrapped in a shawl, a bottle of beer dangling from his fingers, and drawled, “I’m in it for different things…” you can see it at 13:49 in this clip.

Scott became increasing arty and obscure, crafting intricate, gloomy operettas and covering songs by sweaty Belgian cabaret singer Jacques Brel. In particular he performed an incredibly morose ballad entitled My Death on his Saturday tea-time TV show. It is often said that George Michael was the first pop star to eschew commercial success for artistic credibility; nah, Scott Walker got there first. His solo albums continued to top the hit parade, due to the sky-scraping beauty of his own compositions, his impossible good-looks and bravado, and the manner, similar to The Smiths and early Suede, in which the listener could live in his songs. He was a star on his own terms. Then, something strange happened. After the top three success of Scott 1, Scott 2, and Scott 3, Scott 4, his most accomplished album to that point and one which would take the number 31 spot on this list, was released in the midst of the hippy revolution in 1969. And it bombed. Not as in, it failed to crack the top ten; it failed to chart at all.

Nobody quite knows why this happened, and the album was deleted soon after. Walker was deeply scarred by the snub, and after releasing a couple of lacklustre albums comprised mainly of MOR cover versions, he disappeared for a few years and descended into drink. A comeback with the Walker Brothers came in 1975, by way of the hugely popular break-up song No Regrets, and with one album left on the deal, Nite Flights was released in 1978, a twelve-track album on which each member composed four songs. The compositions of Gary and John were perfectly serviceable, but Scott’s tracks were so far ahead it was almost embarrassing. The Shutout, Fat Mama Kick and Nite Flights were pounding, visionary pieces, reminisecent of Station To Station-era Bowie and later Joy Division, but his final track on the album, The Electrician, was astonishing; cold, suspenseful and spiralling; as if they’d put a torch song on the Eraserhead soundtrack. It was almost note for note ripped off by Ultravox for Vienna, and the aforementioned David Bowie calls it the best song ever written. This was the direction he would pursue on his next album, Climate Of Hunter (1984), and in the age of Bon Jovi and Dire Straits, this brittle and fascinating album would shift less than a thousand copies and is said to be Virgin’s worst-selling record ever.

And then… silence.

Eleven year’s worth of silence, to be precise. Tilt would be released in 1995, apparently having taken six years to record. It sounds like the work of a man who had not spoken to another human being in a decade. From the cover art to the bizarre lyrics, it is the most starkly self-possessed record ever made.
When I was about nineteen, I bought this album, with the view to completing my Scott catalogue. I’d snapped up the first four, and everything else was unavailable on CD. Nothing could have prepared me for the stylistic chasm between Scott 4 and Tilt. The first track, Farmer In The City, is something that has no parallel in this far reaching medium of popular music. There is a road about six miles away from where I live, which acts as a bypass between the local villages of Dunswell and Beverley. There are no streetlights down this road, no houses for miles and if you travel down there after dark, only the headlamps of traffic will cast any sort of illumination. About halfway down, on the left, is a derelict barn about five hundred yards from the road, which will be lit fleetingly when a lone car drives past. In my imagination, Farmer In The City was recorded there.

This song must be listened to in the dark, alone, preferably on headphones. It is simply the heaviest piece of music ever written. I don’t mean in the way that silly bands like Metallica and Slipknot are heavy; I mean in the sense that when you listen to it, it weighs on your shoulders, it drags your senses down. It starts with a faraway tinkle of a triangle, then the deepest, most gravity-laden pull of double bass you’ll ever hear. A few plucked acoustic guitar notes and then Walker starts singing. And it’s different. That soaring baritone of thirty years earlier is now smothered in chloroform, hopeless, abandoned, like the voice of an oncologist who finds himself singing on his way home from work. Strings lurch to and fro behind him and the relentless procession of ugly-beautiful noise illuminates the intensely surreal lyrics that this loneliest of all men wails. Seemingly obscure literary references and snapshots of half-remembered dreams, the words to Farmer In The City are apparently about Italian film director Pier Paolo Passolini, who was murdered at the premiere of his hugely controversial and quite frankly revolting movie Salo, which was considered blasphemous by a bunch of hardline Catholic nutcases. The repeated “Do I hear 21?” refrain is possibly about the age of military conscription in Mussolini’s regime, and the passage from 4:42 to 5:46, where he howls of how he “Used to be a citizen” as the string section carry this twenty ton weight to the heavens on a other-worldy crescendo is absolutely incomparable, the most dramatic moment in the history of recorded music. The last line, almost an afterthought: “Paolo, take me with you.”

Anyhow, that’s the first track. Six and a half minutes long, and offering a wider scope than most artists manage in entire careers. The second track, The Cockfighter, begins with a bizarre, near-silent montage of wails, distant gusts of wind and odd scratching noises that you have to strain to hear until a terrifying moment after about a minute and a half when an industrial cacophony slams through the speakers at full volume as Walker howls “It’s a beautiful night, yeah.” After a while the track settles into a Joy Division-esque pounding rhythm and multi-layered voices intone lyrics that again, make absolutely no sense. It also features an instrumental break that sounds like someone beating a cow to death with a guitar. In Bouncer See Bouncer, we start with the sound (honestly) of scuttling and chirping locusts, which is laid over a relentless thump of a bass drum, whilst the mantra “Spared, I’ve been spared” is repeated, along with other deeply esoteric lines. It is staggeringly bleak, bringing to mind scenes of men in death camps marching to their end. After four minutes of this nightmare, the black clouds break and a ray of the most exquisite sunshine shines through in the form of harp and pipe organ as he sings beautifully of how much he loves this season, before the death march starts again.

Elsewhere, Manhattan features an enormous, slashing chorus of organ and ravaged guitar, along with lyrics such as “Scalper in the lampglow/scalper on a chair/stick wiped shirt?/and his arm somewhere” No, I don’t know either. Rosary is a simple piece for voice and reverbed electric guitar, and was performed live on Jools Holland in 1995 on condition that he would only take the stage after the studio audience had all left. The title track is arguably the most accessible track on the album, and the only piece here that could be played by a conventional rock band, even though it does feature guitars that seem simple yet are somehow disorientating, in the same way that you can inexplicably lose your balance in a hall of mirrors.

The two tracks at the heart of the record, Bolivia ’95 and Patriot (A Single) are vast, deeply layered compositions, cinematic in their scope, both featuring operatic structure and amazingly intense vocals. It is a testament to how far this man retreated into himself that a line as seemingly innocuous as “I brought nylons from New York/Some had butterflies, some had flecks.” can sound as like an incantation of death for the whole world. The chorus line to Bolivia ’95 is “Lemon bloody cola.” and he sings it has if he’s just heard that his mother has died. It is dense to the point of being impenetrable.

Tilt is the bravest record ever made by a major artist. It is far beyond the realms of pop music, and far beyond the realms of rock. It is heavier than anything by Nine Inch Nails or Einstürzende Neubauten and it’s more intricate in its make-up than the works of the electric Miles Davis or even Rite Of Spring-era Igor Stravinsky. The only album in mainstream rock’s cannon it would compare to would be Bowie’s Low, but only then in terms of the soundscaping and introspection. It is not a record for the MP3 generation, as it is to be consumed as a whole, and the artwork and the format of the lyric sheet are very much part of the package. It is not a record to be enjoyed, rather it is to be appreciated, and I’m well aware that the majority of people who will check it out on the strength of this review will absolutely loathe it. It is a record completely without precedent, it has influenced precisely no-one and will never appear on Top 100 Albums Ever lists. It is, however, a staggering artistic achievement, and it will haunt you for a long time after you hear it, much in the same way that you can’t shake the image of Brad Pitt’s face in the last scene of Seven. If you are interested in any way in what can be achieved in the medium of recorded sound, how one man can interpret the sounds in the darkest corridors of his mind in the most extreme way possible, then you should listen to Tilt. It is a terrifying, punishing, but deeply rewarding experience, and in my opinion there has only been one album ever made that is better than this one.

The lyrics don’t make any sense.

Best Tracks: Farmer In The City, Bolivia ’95, Patriot (A Single)

Best Moment: The afore mentioned passage from 4:42 in Farmer In The City. Listen to it on headphones, loud, in the dark, with your eyes shut. Your body will start to vibrate.

Like this? Try: It’s a tough one, but I’ll go with Up by Peter Gabriel (2002)

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here.