Ready To Start

My copy of the new Arcade Fire album, ‘The Suburbs’, arrived yesterday. It’s officially released tomorrow. I’ve been playing an MP3 version since last weekend, but it’s only when I hear a lossless version, up loud, on my hi-fi, that I find out how good an album is. And this is good, full of strong melodies with lyrics that resemble their debut Funeral more that the bombastic follow-up Neon Bible. It could be an album of the year contender. I’ve already previewed the opening, title track here (grab your mother’s keys, we’re leaving). Here’s the second track, which is just as exciting. The Arcade Fire – Ready To Start

Loudon Wainwright sings in C

I was having dinner with friends recently and they started telling another guest that I was a massive Dylan fan. I confessed that I’d seen Dylan ten times, but it didn’t seem that many to me. I have one friend who’s nearly into three figures. Still, they got me thinking. Which other acts have I seen ten times or more? There aren’t many. Gaffa, a Nottingham band from the 70’s. REM, Elvis Costello and Richard Thompson. I’m into the teens for those three acts largely because they’ve been touring for so long. I first saw Thompson in 77, Costello in ’80 and REM in ’83. The other act who should be on that list is Loudon Wainwright III. I’ve seen him eight or nine times.…

Janelle Monáe

Earlier this week, a couple of my favourite music bloggers, Mike and Marcello, were tweeting about Janelle Monáe. By the wonders of the internet, within minutes I was listening to her entire back catalogue and ordering her rather wonderful new CD, The ArchAndroid, from Amazon. It’s a varied smorgasbord of modern soul sounds that makes the new Prince cd (good as it is, well worth all 65P I paid) sound dated. Here’s a track from it, plus an obscure non-CD trailer that was presumably released to promote her first EP proper, The Chase. Janelle Monáe – Wondaland Janelle Monáe – The Chase

Willy Vlautin and The War Horse

I don’t go for stories about animals. You’ll hunt in vain for animals in my novels, or even pets. As for stories narrated by animals, put it this way. Paul Auster’s  novels since Moon Palace have been variable but the only one i don’t like is Timbuktoo, which is told by a dog. It’s far too cutesy. So I’ve not read Michael Morpurgo’s The War Horse, which is narrated by a horse. And I had no interest in seeing the play based on it, though I’d heard good things about the songs in the production, by John Tams. However, my partner and I had a London day out planned, primarily to see the Henry Moore exhibition at Tate Britain (it’s wonderful and we went round…

Reviewing The Pretender

Above is the cover of the Achuzat edition of my novel about literary forgery The Pretender, copies of which arrived this morning. What’s that parrot about? Think about it for a minute – the narrator’s first significant literary forgery is accomplished on a 1920’s Royal typewriter. My first novel in Hebrew! After Tuesday’s lousy effort at photographing Broken Social Scene (see below) I didn’t take my camera to Jackson Browne and David Lindley on Thursday. I was reviewing the penultimate show on their European tour for the Nottingham Evening Post. I’d seen the second show on the tour, and it was OK, but shambolic in places. The gig never really took off, and Browne refused to play the song that I named the novel after…