How NOT to write about music – 173. ÜNHANG (The Great Escape)

You know that scene in Repo Man where all the punks are slam dancing and drinking beer outside of an all-night garage or some place? ‘Six Pack’ by Black Flag is playing, and the mood is fast and brutal, but inclusive. You feel like these kids are part of a community, however dysfunctional or disconnected. It feels real, separate to mainstream society and mainstream alternatives. Well, tonight, we walked out of the flat, attracted by the loud harsh rock sound we could hear coming fom next to the Green Door, a minute’s walk away. A messy noisy focused three-piece were tearing up the pavement in a courtyard, effects pedals jumbled across the front of the stage, beards and beer and beauty spread out in equal measure: songs guttural and passionate and LOUD, hard-soft hard-soft. It felt like stepping back in time 10 years to me, to the underground music scene taking place underneath houses and in disused warehouses in Brisbane – spontaneous and broadly outside the everyday restrictions of society. One song was announced as ‘Enter Sandpit’ (“our ‘popular’ one”), another as ‘Separation’. There was humour, and beer. And much friendly moshing.

A sign read “No writsband queue”. I am hoping the spelling was deliberate.

Elsewhere in town, a corporate music festival was taking place to help keep the blood pumping through the corporate music industry. But we didn’t give a shit about that. We had found our home.

How NOT to write about music – 172. Quasi + Snoozers

Moments in joy.

  1. I can’t hope to capture in words what I express through dance.
  2. After the show, when I was mustering the courage to speak to Janet Weiss, she broke off from the group of people she was chatting to and rushed over to hug me, saying “You must be the greatest dancer in the world because I can always tell how a show is going just by watching you dance”. What a lovely, lovely thing to say. I was always so taken with the idea that Jonathan Richman was the first person to ever dance to Ramones: all I want to be remembered for is the fact I like to dance down the front of shows. Even at the age of 62. Especially at the age of 62. My hair and beard were an absolute asset: so soft and comforting, I even needed to remove my spectacles at one point because I was worried they would fly off, my head was shaking so much.
  3. Alice said she received so much joy watching her friends receive so much joy watching Quasi, and she was tickled majorly by the fact all much of what the audience would have captured on film – if that was what they were attempting to capture – was myself and Nadia’s hair bobbing about in front of the band. I had a similar feeling watching Snoozers: whether the three of them had played a note or not, it made me so, so happy to see my three friends up there on stage, such wonderful people. The music they create is magical indeed: like I always wished Cyndi Lauper would sound like, toes turned inward dancing, Steve’s minimal drums so brilliant, so integral. (FACT: a bad drummer will ruin a band more than any other sort of bad apple.) Jon and Nadia… oh my God. Why are these people not major league stars, but of course they could never be major league stars cos their songs are too personal, too evocative, too Snoozerly for that/ Nadia has an extraordinary voice, as does Jon in his own way. I was captivated, first note to last – so gentle, so angry, so mid-80s rock star stadium that you wouldn’t even notice.
  4. After, Alice was like, “Wow, Janet is quite some drummer” and I was like, “yeah, she was the main reason Sleater-Kinney kicked ass so hard” and she was like… “she was in Sleater-Kinney?” And then a few minutes later, Alice was like “they reminded me a bit of Elliott Smith” (she loves Elliott, and has danced on stage with him), and I was like, “uh… Alice…?” and she was like WHY DIDNT YOU TELL ME?! I think that was shortly after a woman detached herself from a group of friends walking past, grabbed my hands and said “Excuse me, but you are Everett True aren’t you? You once wrote something really nice about my band (you can find it here) and I just wanted to thank you” and then she hugged me and looked on the verge of tears and ran away. But, your band were great! Why wouldn’t I write something nice?
  5. I forgot how loud, how intense Quasi are. They have gotten louder, more intense over the years, I swear. I did not forget however how melodic, how poignant, how heartbreakingly pure Sam’s voice sounds to me. I did forget how much I used to love seeing them… for about 10 seconds, and then I was like WHAT THE FUCK? WHY DO I HIDE MYSELF AWAY THESE YEARS? This is what I love. Quasi. Shows like this. Quasi.
  6. I didn’t forget how much joy Quasi give me either. For a while there – when I moved to Seattle in ’98 and for a crazed nine-month period became the Music Editor of The Stranger and found myself living MY LIFE DREAM and yet not with the woman I loved because of circumstances way beyond our control – Quasi were the main band in a life that had spiralled out of control and then back into hyperreality and star-tossed focus and shortly after would go even weirder. Every three minutes during their set, I found myself clutching myself convulsively nearly unable to believe I am still able to experience such paroxysms of joy. It was every time Janet hit a drum basically, or Sam hit the keyboards. Or either of them sang. Certainly, the Breeders cover and ‘California’ and all the other echoes of a previous existence didn’t hurt.
  7. Towards the end, Sam asked if there were any requests. I shouted out immediately for ‘You Turn Me On’… the one song Quasi clearly never cover – perhaps the most magical song of the 90s for me.
  8. It didn’t bother me.
  9. I have no words. I cannot hope to express through words what I capture in dance. “Side note, in this life one should aspire to the amount of joy that @everett_true had dancing to Quasi last night” – Nadia Buyse, Facebook.

How NOT to write about music – 171. Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø // Audrey Chen // F. Ampism // The Burbling Mind // DJ Fiery Biscuits

Yeah, I’m guessing you may know what to have expected from Wednesday night at the Rose Hill.

Warped, mutant retro-futuristic electronica.

Dystopian dancing.

Amplified trombone and object orchestra – this sometimes sounded like someone farting into a wind tunnel, while everyone around kept very straight faces. Either that, or the fellow (Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø) appeared intent on duplicating the sounds you hear within an MRI scanner. I don’t mean to be mean, just reporting. I happen to be a fan of MRI scanner machine sounds, the dislocated noise glitch electronica.

Mostly, the evening was comprised of epic and often solitary journeys into sound and surreal alternative realities. I noticed that when I was pissing in the toilet in between acts, I began to hear beauty and discover rhythm in everything (this is good). The sound of my piss hitting the trough: the hand dryer being momentarily turned on. This sounds feeble, but it was true. My senses seemed heightened in a way that people commonly associate with hallucinatory drugs. Paper-thin posters became inches, feet thick. I couldn’t stop smiling. During a sizeable chunk of F. Ampism‘s set (I may be wrong), it felt like I was living the slow-motion scene from Blade Runner, the one where the AI breaks down and just stops functioning as the rain drips on our faces. Hello? Is anyone there?

P2 = grade 4 or 5 at GCSE, exam board grades. 40% the setting/60% performance.

My only coherent notes taken during The Burbling Mind‘s set state that I think the four-piece could do a killer version of that horrible, horrible schmaltz song ‘Show Me The Way To Amarillo’ because they could fucking loop and loop it, decapitate it and pull it to fucking pieces while all the while reminding us of how sweet indeed Stan Kenton was. Either that, or ‘Big New Prinz’. I know all four of The Burbling Mind, much to my surprise. One of them taught my second eldest how to draw crazy, elongated comic book writing. Two of them own the downstairs flat I did an unexpected shit in, two weeks previous on the school run. And one of them is Brighton’s own reluctant diamante multi-versatile musician interpretative star.

It feels like they should be handing out weird electronica to the entire audience so they can join in on rotation, layer upon layer – but when I mention this to my friend, she just says “you really can’t watch without wanting to perform yourself”, which is true enough. I was singing Gavin Bryars in my head over most of it, anyway.

And Audrey Chen... oh my fucking God, no one warned me about Audrey Chen. My notes have disintegrated into minutiae and incomprehensibility by this stage, probably an indication of how wonderstruck I was by Chen’s incredible, intense, intuitive throat singing, the range of sound and noises she could dredge from her larynx, the way she never stopped moving, never stopped challenging. Here they are. The notes, I mean.

Dislocation dance.
Gloccal (yeah, that’s not the word I mean).
Million sad sped-up conversations, brutally truncated after micro-seconds.
Turns on.


P.S. DJ Fiery Biscuits, you promised to send me an MP3 of that strung-out Ethiopian-style jazz.

How NOT to write about music – 170. GRLwood

I was upstairs in my eldest’s bedroom earlier. We’ve never fallen out, and we love each other but we have difficulty communicating. She’s smart, curious, sensitive – I trust that sooner or later, this situation will change and we will be back to watching Bill Murray movies together. (We got through the entire run of Buffy a year or two back.) Lockdown changes us, in ways we probably will never understand. That is true of life itself though: looking close up, the focus has changed, distorted into new ways of being. Looking further off, this is what always happens.

A couple of years back, Maddy was sharing her playlists with me – some of it, beguiling East European darkwave that sounded equal parts Batcave-era Goth and Riot Grrrl gone metal, overland. (Courtney Love herself, in other words.) It was intriguing, not least because it represents a generation way, way different to mine. And similar of course…

But mostly different.

So today, she wants to share some music with me. It’s the first time in a while this has happened, and so I pay attention. I am keen to communicate, to gain even a fraction of insight. I love my children. She mentions this band GRLwood. (I have a vague feeling she had mentioned them to me before – I’m right.) She says I may like them, cos they feel vaguely like (her perception of) Riot Grrrl, and I guess she associates that strand of DIY feminism, the music with me. (Rightly so.) So I mention that I’ve started writing about music again and that perhaps I may write about them. Communication, remember? She says that, dad you might not want to do that, they’ve been cancelled.

OK then.

It’s later. I settle down to revive my connection with my eldest through my writing, but decide to do some research first – and I come up against this. I cannot go further than this. The band are a two-piece. This is the (former) drummer Karen talking about the singer.

I can’t ignore that. So I make it front and centre of this blog entry.

I am in something of a quandry though, because I want to understand Maddy a little more by listening to music she cares about.

Their music is chilling, alienating. ‘Hard To Touch You’ is a quietly traumatic, beautiful song. Sad, so sad. But beautiful. There is clearly a deep personal connection between the band and their fans – and I also read what Karen says above.

GRLwood currently performs as a duo, consisting of Rëj Forester and drummer, Mia Morris.

How NOT to write about music – 169. Crayola Lectern + VÄLVĒ

I started the day by having a birthday haircut and beard trim, my first in a year.

I ended the day by drinking several pints of ale, one pint of coke, any number of shots of whiskey and a fifth of a bottle of paint-stripping pear brandy. I didn’t intend to, that’s just how events turned out – it was certainly the most I have drunk in over 15 years. I wasn’t an asshole, fas as I recall. That’s a relief. I also managed to avoid a hangover… although there is the distinct possibility I am still drunk as I type these words. Certainly, the familiar lethargy and slowness has returned. I hope the darkness hasn’t returned as well. It doesn’t feel like it right now.

In between, we walked the short way down London Road to the Rose Hill, a magical venue lit by fairy lights and peopled by fascinating looking people – painters and filmmakers, AI experts and people who like to stand on chairs outside the venue looking in, bleeding conversation and laughter. We were there primarily to see the first band of the evening, Crayola Lectern, on a very rare outing. It felt like coming home, although I felt fragile at the start and nearly left.

There were fascinating looking people there and I am a fraud. It doesn’t matter how many acquaintances and strangers bought me birthday drinks. The facts remain.

Chris and Al teeter on the edge of psychedelia. Crayola Lectern create haunting, beautiful music and textures written while on the school run, and populated by woozy sideshow characters. Al can make his trumpet sound like a whale call. I don’t know how. Lights sparkle and glisten. Chris sometimes layers human harmony behind Al: Al often layers keyboard harmony behind Chris’ piano magic. Stately. That’s a nice word. Chris seems nervous on stage – this really is their first show in years – but he has no cause to doubt he will be less than wonderful. He’s always wonderful (but of course the nerves are part of the reason why). I find myself drifting, lost within their worlds, not in any conscious state at all. I think how nice it must be to be able to create music so enabling, so comforting, so startling. They play all our favourites and some we’ve never heard before (well, I have) and they’re favourites anyway.

Last time I was at this venue, it was pre-lockdown – 2017, perhaps – and I was watching Crayola Lectern.

I am still drifting, hazy when Crayola finish so I do not move from my spot: find myself caught in the beauty and close harmony singing and atmospheric, spooky sounds of VÄLVĒ. Oh my God! So good. The woman spends much trying to coax sounds out of her bewildering array of pedals and thingamijigs: the guitarist doesn’t. The sound ebbs and wanes, like waves crashing on a neraby shore – sometimes, all we hear are muted versions of silence, other times it’s like we’ve been cast back hundreds of years, deep and steeped in folkloric tradition. Sounds appear random, but clearly are not. Sometimes, it feels so sad I wake for a moment or two from my reverie and am surprised not to hear muffled sobs. Mesmerised.

A third band played, Arch Garrison and engaged the audience with similar levels of awe and love, but my emotions and aesthetic stimuli were far too overloaded to watch so I stood outside, peering through the outside window like a kid at Christmastime. Happy in the knowledge that folk were inside, happy in their togetherness.

From the Facebook event page:


Having cut her teeth in the cult bands Chrome Hoof and Knifeworld, Chlöe Herington is now forging her own soundworld under the monikor VÄLVĒ. The music can take many forms: “…found-sound collages interrupted by Welsh language orations and sudden outbursts of fuzz bass. Gleaming synthpop workouts that collapse into swirling dreamscapes of sax and harp. Tiny sounds opening out onto the epic. Hi-tech and no-tech, deployed with equal measures of discipline and abandon. Carefully sculpted disorder. Uncanny geometries of noise and melody. Dizzy and gleeful and drawn in notebooks.”


Arch Garrison

Arch Garrison is the duo of Craig Fortnam (North Sea Radio Orchestra) on guitar and James Larcombe (Stars in Battledress, William D Drake, NRSO) on organ and synth. Fortnam’s approach to singing and songwriting is pastoral, low-key but deceptively complex – take a listen for yourself on the first two albums ‘King of the Down’ and ‘I Will Be A Pilgrim’, available on bandcamp:


Crayola Lectern

Their first gig in over three years, Crayola Lectern will on this occasion be playing as a duo, with Mr Crayola himself Chris Anderson on ‘tragi-piano’ and Al Strachan on cornet, synth and percussion. The sounds they make have been described as ‘what psychedelic music would have sounded like had the Edwardians invented it,’ and along with this there is a sure nod to the Canterbury scene of Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, mixed in with the high melodrama of early cinema accompaniment, and more besides……/11981-crayola-lectern-the-fall…

How NOT to write about music – 168. Leonard Bernstein

“The violence is senseless, but Bernstein’s score makes us feel what we do not understand”
The Washington Post review of West Side Story

It’s my birthday today.

A beautiful four-CD box set featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein (“An American in New York”) turned up unannounced on my doormat, a present from my friends at Cherry Red Records. Beautiful use of monochrome colour and stills from theatrical rehearsal sessions to adorn the inner sleeves, a booklet that should be an example in minimalist art magazine design. It’s very linear, but starkly enticing. I know that, much as I want to, I cannot skip straight to disc four – 1957 Original Cast Recording of West Side Story – because it will distract me too much. I won’t be able to type. Instead, after briefly checking in to listen to Billie Holiday’s prologue for Fancy Free, I settle on disc two, On The Town (including various cool jazz interpretations of popular numbers). We used the opening 10 seconds of ‘New York, New York’ (no, not that one) to illustrate the power and pull, the intoxicating sway, of musical numbers when we were teaching Film Studies to third-year performance students at BIMM London last term. A strictly cultural studies module, it was hard not to burst over with joy and enthusiasm presenting entire universes of sound and sight to students who’d never encountered them before/ The songs from On The Town are suitably overblown and histrionically sung – think South Pacific for the general tenor if you’re unfamiliar with the film, oh come on you must know that one. I don’t need to hear them. It’s enough to have them playing in the background, creating textures and invisiable cities in the air around me as I hover over the keyboard and try not to let this chill spring air pervert my spelling. Invisiable cities, but I can hear/see them plain as the dirty cream wall next to me, the stark outlines and shadows of mid-century Manhattan skyscrapers, the dirty tenements and teeming street life and coarse laughter of Will Eisner’s bevy of immigrants.


I wish I had been there.

I know this world never existed, that it’s a simulacra, a simulation and stimulation of reality that was never so attractive or enticing, but – man. I wish I could have been there. And what difference is there between this sharp, cool, finger-clicking reality and the reality I live in these days, except that one I have to continually shell out money to take part in, and in the main hide myself away from and if I do dream, I dream dull dreams All reality is mediated, all reality is different – the world created within books and music is no less ‘real’ than the one constructed by neoliberals and venture capitalists. Ineed, the venture capitalists had much play within Bernstein’s worlds. But why not? My waking dreams when I occasionally catch them are ceaselessly full of vigour and life and rudeness. And oh. These four CDs are going to make my train journey reality so different to everyone else’s train journey reality in the coming weeks.

Here. Above. This is why I am not paid to write about music. All I do is talk about myself. I know that’s all I ever did, but back then I was an active participant, dreammaker, keeper of the keys.

How NOT to write about music – 167. Porridge Radio

As usual, I was in a grey place a few weeks back.

As usual, I was in a grey place.

My music listening has nearly disintegrated to zero during the years of me playing piano versions: one supplants the other. There is immediate satisfaction to be had in creating music, and – as important (remember Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message”) – being able to share the songs, scant minutes after. Of course, I realise my preference for silence and my inability to socialise or call up people is a mark of ongoing debilitating depression. (God, I hate that WordPress does not carry a spellcheck.) Occasionally, I will try and lift myself out of it – no one is on your side, except yourself, that is the lesson I want to teach my children (but not nastily): no one will do fuck all for you if you don’t do fuck all for yourself – why should they?

Listening to myself singing to the void does not count.

Occasionally, I will listen to my iPhone with the dial set to ‘random’. Occasionally. It was a few weeks back, and the air was dank, grey. I’d been half-listening to songs on random on my new headphones (not ear buds). I am reasonably good at recognising songs that I have heard before but then a painful, torturously human lament coloured by plaintive harmonies and punctuated percusion, seasick and slightly delirious, came onto my speakers and I was momentarily thrown. Throwing Muses, I thought to myself? No. Clearly not. So I promised myself that if I could identify the band without cheating in the next 30 seconds, I would start writing about music again.

Thirty seconds in, I started laughing my fucking ass off. The only band I’ve written about since my exile from Brisbane in 2015. The Guardian, NME, Loud And Quiet, Brighton Dome… oh whatever, have endlessly quoted and requoted a review I wrote of a Porridge Radio show I saw for 40 fucking seconds at the Albert that year. (The NME even quoted me in their headline on their front page.) Before I quit playing live, I played live alongside Dana in various incarnations far more than anyone. Else.

Of course, it was Porridge fucking Radio. The one article of value I’ve written in a decade, come back to taunt me. Read, and weep.

I watched 40 seconds of the greatest band. I pretended I had watched 40 minutes when I spoke to them later because hell it’s embarrassing to have watched 40 seconds of the greatest band just as the “thank you’s” kick in and then enthuse to the band how wonderful you think they are and can they play a show with you in Worthing in November, please please please. I asked the promoter too. It is my new way of mating. See 40 seconds of the greatest band and then turn on the 54-year-old charm. Someone had whispered “Raincoats” downstairs and I scorned and they looked embarrassed too, because they were downstairs and so if it was true why were they there and if it was not true why were they saying it, and so I took the steps three at a bound only to discover 40 seconds of the greatest band, and not only was it both true and not true but it was wonderment, magic, sparky nervous magic. Whispering as if it was an orchestra, and so special. I am a git, frankly. 40 seconds I watched, and 40 minutes was there for the taking like a manifesto: the key to the newest treasure chest was in my hands and I failed to turn the lock until just so close to being so late. WHAT ELSE HAVE I MISSED IN MY MANIA?

Read not my words. Read my words and weep for my future. Read not my words, and listen. Five or six of them on stage (I did not have time to count) and they were in the groove, lost in music. Caught in (a) trap. More intimate than the sexual act (not that that is saying too much, really). A call to hugs for the lost and flighty. Ivor Cutler distilled through an alternative lens and alternative reality. Marine Girls re-imagined by a generation that has their own beachcombers. A cosmic love-bomb. Psychedelic whispering. I took all of this from 40 seconds, easy. I have that ability. So lonesome, so awkward. So beautiful. I relived the 40 seconds over and over in my head for weeks afterwards. It feels like weeks since I last felt their touch. (It is days.) You will not understand. You will understand.


This is yours, if you just stop talking and listen.

This was the song. Fuckers. Leave me alone.

How NOT to write about music – 166. Adwaith

There is a beautiful artefact in my kitchen: a 12-inch solid vinyl record, gatefold sleeve, what looks to be flourescent vinyl in the style of Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights’ 12-inch single that I scratched one night DJ-ing at my school disco, three human beings in full colour on the sleeve, words in a familiar but indecipherable language on the innter sleeve. We’re talking quality. We’re talking a project of love and pride. We’re talking Welsh band Adwaith.

I saw Adwaith on my first trip abroad in five years to Groningen in the Netherlands last February. I had been invited out there to help conduct a keynote interview at ESNS with Bruce and Jon from Sub Pop Records – a record label I once had close associations with, although was never paid by despite stories running in local papers to the contrary. In the event, Jon was too ill to attend in person and so contributed in that lovable, sardonic, shaggy dog way of his via Zoom while Bruce and I shared lived experiences and the odd warmth that comes of seeing friends again after decades of isolation. I have thought about that weekend often since returning. I miss weekends like that.

I miss most everything about life now, and still have no idea how to reclaim it – like it was ever mine to claim at all.

A highlight was traipsing around the cobbled streets of Groningen by myself, finding a second-hand charity store where I picked up a Der Plan single, walking up to the top of the clock tower and feeling like I’d stumbled across the setting for the second book in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, as a Chelsea-loving student tour guide gave me an unobstructed one-to-one guide to everything historical and Gronigen. Another highlight was forgetting the Netherlands does red light districts in plain sight, and accidentally stumbling across the local one at 10 in the morning, as sparsely populated as you’d expect.

A major highlight was watching a series of varied, imaginative artists and bands – ranging from experimental pseudo-norse to drum-tapped flamenco, from “we like Wet Dog” to DIY UK punk rock (hello, Big Joanie) playing at 1am in a giant pop-up tent. Just being able to walk around, and be myself – accosted by a bevy of drunken Norwegians – and by “be myself” I mean “be Everett True” of course, because that was just about the only persona I ever managed to successfully create. Even if it was for only a brief time. Feeling part of something, however insignificant. Feeling wanted, however briefly. Hanging out with my more successful friends, Ruud and Bruce…

And then there was Adwaith.

For a moment there, it felt like I was being allowed access to another world – a magical world full of magical, mysterious creatures and ways of seeing not entirely alien to me, but a little alien nonetheless. For a second, it was like I had stpped back in time 30 or more years, back to the Vera Groningen – or somewhere similar – swaying and melting and freaking out to Screaming Trees, to Dead Moon, to Thee Open Sex or one of Sonic Boom’s wayward offspring. Everyone was smiling, everyone was dancing. Everyone was screaming but not out of terror. Everyine was happy, and melting within layers upon layers of sweet psych guitar and incomprehensible but so desirable language – Welsh, of course, being God’s own chosen language when it comes to rock music, as She or Anyone will tell you.

Bruce was there. Peter was there, smartly introducing the trio in a way that made us fall in love with the trio before they’d even strapped on a note. And somehow, incredibly, we were at the Vera again after 30 or more years – the best fucking venue in the entire fucking world, worker-collective run after all these years, and walls adorned with … oh god, so much of my heritage and past. At the fucking Vera Groningen, watching these three human beings being so very human and lively and full of wonder and good cheer, and yes my feet were under a spell, moving up, moving down, not wanting to ever lose sight or forget this moment like I have so many times before. This, THIS is what it was like being Everett True when all that meant was rock and joy and wonder and anticipation of the next cloud-scraping harmony, the next climactic chord change and drum roll of distant thunder.

I grabbed Bruce afterwards, I grabbed Peter – who I recognised even though I never recognise anyone and though I hadn’t seen him for 30 or more years – and demanded we speak to the band, that I could go and babble incoherently to them about how I was a Rock Critic Fornerly Known As… and that I didn’t write about music anymore but that if I did, this would be the moment I did because – fuck it ADWAITH MADE ME WANT TO WRITE ABOUT MUSIC AGAIN.


This was like seeing Hole at the Paradiso in Amsterdam again, without the full-frontal nidity and the screaming.

This was like every show I’ve dreamed about attending in the last 20 years but somehow anxiety always got the better of me.

This was Adwaith.

Photo credit: Bruce Pavitt.

How NOT to write about music – 165. Gina Birch

It’s been nearly two years since I last wrote on this blog.

It’s been nearly two years since I have wanted to engage with the outside world through my writing (leaving aside the occasional review of an old Fall album, and a never-ending stream of short reviews of Neil Young bootlegs for Classic Rock). In the interim, I have posted up over 800 piano versions of songs that have connected with me on some level – positive, negative, mostly positive – on Facebook, feeling that these interpretations represent my music criticism far more ably than the written word. Through them, I can express at first hand (and immediately) how songs interact with me, how I view the music, how it sounds to me. I add another layer of meaning, however trivial and/or obvious, to the songs through my clumsy and naive playing. The lyrics come to life in a way they rarely did to me before. I must think, act fast. Every second counts. Every mistake matters.

Somewhere down the line, I gave up competing. I never liked competing anyway, but when I was younger, I had more energy and enthusiasm. I would dance. I would sweat. I would enthuse. I had no sense of perspective, and it really did feel like every time I put pen to paper, typewriter to paper, fingers to keyboard, I was going to change the world. There is no way I can believe that anymore. I have no power.

I took part in a podcast recording session with several Fall fans last Saturday. (This is rare, for me: only the third or fourth podcast I have taken part in.) I was struck by how smart all my fellow combatants were with their use of descriptive language and metaphors when it came to describing The Fall – maybe they had prepared in advance, but that is unimportant. Their words shifted and flowed like streaks of cloud across a sunset: I have nothing to offer up next to that. Lived experience don’t mean a thing if you’re loathe to acknowledge it, would prefer to forget it.

It’s been almost two years since I last wrote on this blog, and (outrageously) around 15 years since Plan B Magazine finally shut up shop. I was proud of my work in the 2000s, maybe prouder of that than my work during the 1990s (for which I am vaguely better-known) or during the 1980s (when I was a living work of art) … but it did lead, eventually, to my divorce, and that still overshadows everything, even more than Kurt killing himself.

I lost the password, the access.

It’s been nearly two years – and no, I am not going to write about Gina here. Am I never going to write about music again? On a good day, I can outshine any star you want to name. I can do that still. Why does no one care?

I had this idea that if I could identify a certain song on my iTunes then I would restart the blog. That took 30 seconds, and it turned out to be Porridge Radio. And then I found the password codes, a couple of days later.

I saw Adwaith in Groningen at the Vera, and they filled me with absolute joy. Still dancing. Still flailing.

I saw Gina Birch and Helen McCookerybook in Brighton, at the Hope and Ruin, and the evening filled me with delight. Still dancing. Still hoping.

I bought myself a cheap crap portable record player and started listening to my vinyl records again.

I continued recording piano versions of moments in time.

I have no idea what is going on. Intersectional feminism, that’s where it’s at.

Sixty for 60: 31. Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Cami

I’m a sucker for stuff like this. My order is about to go in to Resident Music in Brighton.

This is part of a wider project, Spanish Model, wherein Elvis Costello and collaborators have reimagined This Year’s Model in Spanish – all-new vocal performances set to the original Attractions’ recordings and instrumentation.

I cannot stop myself watching, listening.

An absolute sucker.