Sixty for 60: 10. LC Pumpkin

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am 60.

Today, it’s the turn of dear friend Chris Anderson to make a suggestion – ‘Song‘ by LC Pumpkin. As Mr Pumpkin himself indicates on his homemade webpage, “It’d be nice to have a box here where you could write your comments but I don’t know how to set something like that up“. Amen, brother. Amen to that.

He goes on to explain: Hello. Here’s another of my home recorded tunes with my psych banjo & MPC sampler set-up. The foil curtain is there to add a touch of low budget showbiz to the video, and to try and disguise the fact I’m just playing in a corner of our flat with the odd neighbour and passer-by peering through the window at me every now and then. If you’re interested, you can find out more and get some free music at

You heard the man! Go have a look!

Here is what I wrote about him earlier (puts Blue Peter hat on) (apologies to American friends and so forth who will not understand what the fuck I am going on about here): L C Pumpkin plays: described on the flyer as an eccentric one-man music machine, he simultaneously sings, blows harmonica and bashes instruments too strange for even Tom Waits to curate, taps out a melody on his xylophone-keyboard-organ contraption with the microphone he uses for singing down, throws in the occasional jarring squelch and bleep, and is quite honestly the pub given aural dimension. He smiles, we smile. He smiles more, we smile more. Psychedelic is not a word that is often correctly used, and I am not convinced I am about to use it correctly here so please blank out the last 30 seconds reading time. This is what L C Pumpkin is most like, but in a decidedly non-linear fashion:

Don’t take my word for it. Go have a listen.

Sixty for 60: 9. Chai

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am 60.

Today, it’s the turn of Collapse Board mainstay (and way talented musician and writer) Brigette Adair Herron to make a suggestion – ‘Donuts Mind If I Doby Chai. Now, I do wonder whether there may be a touch of an in-joke about her suggestion (‘Do Nuts’ being the song that Julie Burchill is most famous for singing on stage with Pearl Jam); and it’s a fantabulous offering, for sure. Like J-Pop and PC Music reimagined by a group of somnambulant Sonic Boom fans, all straining, soothing, higher-than-the-sun vocals and trippy hazy instrumentation that would have gone down a storm in Brisbane 2015. Just mind-blowing: all of a happenstance, my slump week has sunlight turned on it and the dust particles in the air are dancing, butterfly dancing. And I see that my pals from across the water, agree:

Since breaking out in 2018, CHAI have been associated with explosive joy. At their live shows, the Japanese four-piece of identical twins MANA (lead vocals and keys) and KANA (guitar), drummer YUNA, and bassist-lyricist YUUKI have become known for buoyant displays of eclectic and clever songwriting, impressive musicianship, matching outfits, delightful choreography, and sheer relief. At the core of their music, CHAI have upheld a stated mission to deconstruct the standards of beauty and cuteness that can be so oppressive in Japan. (Sub Pop press release, 2020)

However. My blog, my rules. All due respect to the totally awesome Brigette, but that is not the song I wish to share with you today. Nah nah nah. It’s this one: spooky and sampled and disorientating, and full of borderline psychosis. Recalls John Steel Singers and anyone else ever fallen in love with Krautrock they shouldn’t’ve. Reminds me of… what was their name again…Teen. (Sorry, can’t find what I wrote on them for ref. You know how difficult is it to Google ‘Teen’?)

God, this is great, St Vincent great.

As they sing:

You know how I feel about make-up?
I feel like make-up has the ability to allow you to be who you want to be.
It’s that super awesome, sparkling kind of magic!
Yes you can paint over with it, even recreate with it but… doesn’t that make it just like decorations?
The same as a cake no?
Because, I’m the original!
There’s no reason to become someone else right?
My color is only for me to decide! “what’s attractive to us?”, is something CHAI will MAKE♡ and of course eat as much CAKE as possible!
It’s this type of song! Take a listen〜

Makes me wanna go out and hang and dance and whirl round, lost in intoxication, lost in the music.

Sixty for 60: 8. Peter Stampfel

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am 60.

Today, it’s the turn of Collapse Board mainstay (and way talented musician and writer) Scott Creney to make a suggestion – ‘Long Ago And Far Away’ from Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century 5-CD box set. “This limited release comes complete with 88 pages of liner notes with full descriptions of the songs and stories from Peter’s career replete with tales for Holy Modal Rounders fans,” states the Bandcamp page.

In near every great American folk singer there is an element of Kermit (the frog).

“Here’s the best music thing I’ve heard all year so far,” Scott writes. “[I] feel like you might feel a certain kinship with a project like this.” I can see why he says this – through my own limited musical resources (just one man singing badly over an out-of-tune and barely mastered piano), I am engaged in a mammoth project that sometimes feels like I am trying to document my own experiences as a music fan and hater through the second half of the 20th Century and beyond. All I try to is to capture the essence that lies within, sometimes buried deep within, the songs – by necessity my versions brings the focus away from the marketing and production and back onto the words and melodies. I like to think there is a little of ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’ (Gavin Bryars) in some of my longer, more introspective pieces. Occasionally, folk mention Ivor Cutlet – a high compliment indeed.

Culter, not Cultet.

Stampfel is way more accomplished than me, but he does not let this stand in the way of his interpretations. Often (and I’ve listened to several of his versions now while typing this blog entry), he recalls that wonderful series of YouTube videos documenting singing collaborations between Sesame Street stars and celebs. His music is mischievous, playful – not disrespectful though. Not disrespectful. Maybe a closer reference might be that excellent album of Disney interpretations Stay Awake. He can sound old man beautiful on some of the earlier songs, which I am sure is partway the intention (and something I am often aiming for). All of which merely adds up to me wanting to throw one of those flip comparisons your way that made a generation of pop kids rightly hate slick music critics: I wanna say this sounds like I’ve always imagined Mr Rogers covering Tom Waits would sound like.


Childish, but that has never been an insult.

Does it make me want to throw in the towel, hearing such beauty and joy on quite a similar project? NOT AT ALL! The more voices singing, the more voices clearing a path through the murk and despair of 2021, the better. Also, I greatly prefer my own versions most everywhere – see, for example, his slightly raucous cover of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’, also his not-tentative-enough version of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’. Here is a link to my take on the former (you can access Peter’s version via his Bandcamp page).

There again, I prefer the sound of my own voice to near every voice I have ever heard.

Let’s leave it to the man himself to have the last word. Scott says: “Hey R.E.M fans, I’d urge you to check out this cover that I really, really like of my least-favorite song on Out Of Time.” Damn Americans. Never could spell favourite.

Sixty for 60: 7. Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am now 60. Enough folk came forward to make this a blog series.

This time, we’re shifting across to Twitter so The Wire editor Derek Walmsley can make a recommendation – ‘Neutral Love’ by Amirtha Kidambi & Matteo Liberatore. Derek writes, “I absolutely love this” and I can understand why. It’s absolutely enveloping, gorgeous, strung out with dissonance and texture and a silence all the more eloquent for the occasional disruption and distortion. Or, Avant Music News puts it, “Kidambi eschews singing for drones, mouth and throat noises, and plaintive tones, unbending in her lack of orthodoxy. Liberatore provides his own drones as well as long-held notes and dissonant chords on an undistorted electric guitar. While only voice and guitar are credited, a certain amount of processing may be present as well.

Yeah, well of course. I was just about to say that myself. Although such straightforward (albeit accurate) description does not serve to capture the feeling of wonderment within the listener, the sense of spaces and shapes collapsing and reforming in and around your computer desk, the helpless. I expect that this is music which seeks to remove itself at some stage from the everyday, the chatter: dislocated and unbidden. No images race across the inside of my mind as this sound lingers: no images need to. It is enough to be surrounded by it in itself.

Glacial. From New York. Not entirely sure I would describe it as… no, wait. That’s OK. Improvisational.

Sixty for 60: 6. LoneLady

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my Facebook friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am now 33 years older than a 27-year-old when she died. Enough folk came forward for this to make for a reasonable idea for a blog series.

Time for David Laurie to make a recommendation – ‘(There Is) No Logic’ by LoneLady. David writes, “This. Is. A. BOP.” And. He Is Right. LoneLady herself writes, Switching out her Telecaster guitar for electronic hardware, using sequencers, synths and sampling – LoneLady creates her playful, punchy take on electro with darkly humorous lyrics inspired by Medieval ‘Memento Mori’ paintings. And. She. Is Right. Too.

I’m not sure grading comments like they’re answers to a year 9 French test is the right way to go about evidencing a passion for new music, but I’ll overlook it if you can.

She says, “I live in a tower block next to the Mancunian Way, on the edge of the city centre. It’s a lively place: a kaleidoscope of beats, echoes, and adventures invigorate the viaducts, empty mills, shuttered streets and small pockets of spaces and buildings that still seem to have their own magic inner life. As if the city itself were a labyrinthine all-night club.”

You know all those delicious Tiny Desk concerts that keep popping up in your YouTube feed (maybe not yours) and how you keep imagining they encapsulate the spirit of live music? You remember the debut (and only) Silicon Teens album, a very early release on Mute Records, full of retro-futuristic bleeps and electronic squiggles, reimaging rock’n’roll for space age generation? You recall how fun it was to play along with ‘Computer Love’ by Kraftwerk on your pocket calculator? (I never did either, but I can imagine it must have been rare good fun.) What significance do you attach to the words (and phrase) “thin-sounding”, “jagged”, “darkly humorous”? Like a Casio version of St Vincent minus the overarching sense of entitlement. And so forth.

From Manchester. I believe myself and LoneLady crossed paths there 20 years ago. I may have my dates wrong.

This. Is. Indeed. A. BOP.

Sixty for 60: 5. Alpha Maid

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my Facebook friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am now 33 years older than Kurt Cobain when he died. Enough folk came forward for this to make a decent blog series (assuming that my writing is still up to the task).

Today, it is the turn of Dylan Nyoukis to make a recommendation – ‘SUM1’ by Alpha Maid. As The Wire magazine says about the video in its typically deadpan manner: Taken from Alpha Maid’s forthcoming five track EP Chuckle, available via CANVAS from 19 March. The video was directed and edited with friend and collaborator Adrian Aldihni in Sydenham Woods, London, December 2020. OK then. Introductions over.

Maybe you should just listen to the music and cut through all this bullshit.

NOTE TO ANY PASSING STUDENTS: You can derive more information and context from the above paragraph then it may seem at first sight. First up, what is The Wire magazine? What connotations do you derive from its name, what associations can you make? Is ‘SUM1’ by Alpha Maid (for example) likely to be bro country rock, landfill indie or music in the style of Lewis “the new boring” Capaldi? If not, then what? Will is be throbbing and pulsating with sexual desire and WAP pussy innuendo, will it help to orientate or disorientate the listener or do neither? Will the video be filmed within some woods (see above) – and if so, what does this signify? In shot? Blurred? What then? These questions are not designed for you to second guess what other people think. The choices and interpretations you make are for you alone. (Unless you choose not to let them be.) WHAT DOES the fact the video was filmed in woods SIGNIFY??? ANY thing? Anything. The choice of band (artist?) name – what does this denotate? Is there anything to be read into the music’s release formats, the title of these release formats, choice of label, choice of video director/editor? And so forth. Do some research. How about the Facebook friend who recommended me this music – is it worth tracing back through their name and see what they’ve been up to? DO some FUCKING RESEARCH.

Five tracks. Why five?

It reminds me a little of that arsequake stuff Reynolds and Stubbs were so hot on, tail-end of the 1980s. A.R. Kane, Bark Psychosis. Lush. (No, not the fucking band. A descriptor.) You don’t know what the fuck I am talking about, and furthermore would prefer it if your posterior was doing everything but wobbling with pure physical delight? More fool you. LOOK IT UP. Or don’t. Whatever. I’ve had it with you lazy Joes for today.

Listen to the music.

Sixty for 60: 4. Dry Cleaning

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my Facebook friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am now 10 years older than Joe Strummer when he died. Enough folk came forward for this to make a decent blog series (assuming that my writing is still up to the task).

Today, we have a suggestion from James Kavoussi – ‘Unsmart Lady’ by Dry Cleaning, or “Nico fronting Slint,” as one YouTube commentator has it. Available on 4AD, which still serves as a mark of quality. They’ve got all their merch and yellow vinyl sorted out, which is nice to see. It’d be even nicer to imagine that Dry Cleaning could make a living from this radical charisma, these mohair pink cardigans and love for the dissonance and abrasion of early 90s period Sonic Youth (specifically Kim Gordon songs), but we all need a dream, right? Spoken, not sung – like that horse caught on a barbed wire fence as the train speeds by, and we have to look away. Murky. Spitting cum on a Travelodge carpet.

Still what do I know? The most recent comment left on this blog states, “Jesus wept. What a steaming pile of self-regarding, loquacious excrement your writing is.” Great choice of words.

I wanna throw in the name cult TikTok band Life Without Buildings here, as not too many other places seem to have done. Pitckfork reckons their one studio album, 2001’s Any Other City, is worth 8.7 stars which is just 0.1 stars above what they reckon Dry Cleaning’s 2021’s debut New Long Leg to be worth. Coincidence? I think not. I throw in the comparison cos I’m just free associating here, trying to capture a sense of the surreal. Nice guitar, too.

And, despite their assertions to the contrary, they sound nothing like Lung Leg. Ha. Leave it to musicians to draw their own comparisons?! I think not. (Although, in fairness, I guess both bands may have drawn inspiration from the cover star to Sonic Youth’s EVOL.)

From South London. I have lifted one of my old mate Steve Gullick‘s photos to illustrate this piece. I hope he does not mind, and of course will remove it if he does.

Sixty for 60: 3. The Muslims

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my Facebook friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am now 10 years older than Douglas Adams when he died. Enough folk came forward for this to make a blog series.

Today, a second nomination from 5-track – ‘Punch A Nazi’ by The Muslims. The album is called Gentrified Chicken and they describe themselves thus: “THE MUSLIMS is a crunchy, kickass punk band of Black + brown queer muzzies. Your racist dad is a piece of shit and THIS IS NOT A SAFE SPACE.”

And, quite honestly, I am not sure I need to add anything to that. I reckon you get the idea: a raucous, angry, politically-charged goodtime. From North Carolina. Imagine Amyl And The Sniffers or [insert the name of your own favourite punk/thrash/metal band here] and you’ll be most ways there. Political satire and extremism.

Punch that Nazi in the throat
That should keep his no-lips shut
Noose that flag around his neck
Tell the boys to string him up

Beat him up
Best him up, beat him up, beat him up, beat him up
Point em out
Point em our, point em out, point em out, point em out
Beat him up
Best him up, beat him up, beat him up, beat him up
Point em out
Point em our, point em out, point em out, point em out
Beat him up

Punch a Nazi
Punch a Nazi
Punch a Nazi
Punch a Nazi

Sixty for 60: 2. Black Ends

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my Facebook friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I am now 10 years older than Joey Ramone when he died. Enough folk came forward for this to be a realistic basis for a blog series. One disclaimer: I am not going to include music that does not connect with me.

For our second entry, we have a suggestion (one of two) from 5-Track (Zinnia Su) – ‘Low’, from the Stay Evil EP by Black Ends. Some gunk pop from Seattle, WA. Now lissen up and lissen good: I fucking near singlehandedly invented the entity known as “Seattle” – well, me and a couple of other rancid souls – so I feel like I have some kinda fucken stake in tellin’ you what is good and what is not when it comes to music emanating from that fair bloated city and I gotta tell you right now in bold neon capital letters THIS IS THE GOOD SHIT!

You can imagine the neon.

And the bold.

This is so fucking good, in a delirious, woozy, too-much-downers-and-amphetamine-causing-stuffed-noses way that it makes me want to start ANOTHER FUCKEN MAGAZINE just so I can slap this bunch on the front and make a bunch of puns about Cocteau Twins and sunsets and Sesame Street and the abuse of (electrical) power. God damn, this is good. The singer has a lilt in their voice that sounds like they’re laughing half the time; and the other half? Sugar hiccup. It’s always a delight to hear music sung so freely, with such abandon. Me? I need to pull the shutters down and pretend suburbia doesn’t exist if I’m gonna let loose on the piano.

Damn, it makes me so happy to be living in a world where music like this exists. Plasticine monsters and hippie hairdos and long graffitied walls. Delirium and repetition and disorientation and long drawn-out hysterical laughter. Yet there is a sombre undertow, a tingling, a worrying worry behind the abandonment… maybe there always is? Sure, I can hear a little Kristin Hersh in some of this, the way it backs and forth, the restless spirit…. but I can hear a little Kristin Hersh in most all music. This particular song, this particular performance is Mitski good.

As Mariana Timony explains on BandCamp: “It takes several listens to truly appreciate exactly how deep the rabbit hole goes as [Nicolle] Swims’ songs don’t feel written so much as sourced straight from the void, emerging from the ether still covered in gunk and with one eye suspiciously fixed on the real (and real disappointing) world.”

Put it on again! Put it on again! Life really does begin at fucking 60.

Sixty for 60: 1. Yard Act

I like receiving presents. Who doesn’t? To celebrate my 60th birthday, I thought I would ask my Facebook clan to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to commemorate the fact I now qualify for a free bus pass to be used anywhere within West Sussex (and possibly further abroad, although this hypothesis has yet to be tested). Enough folk came forward for this to make a reasonable idea for a blog series. One proviso: I am not going to be discussing or sharing music that does not connect with me on some level.

First up, we have a recommendation from Christopher Bartley: ‘Dark Days’ by Yard Act.

Clearly, I am out of practice with this music criticism/music curation stuff – I forgot to ask everyone to supply a sentence or two detailing the reasons for their choice, which I could then have lifted and used here, to riff off and make myself seem far more in tune than I am. Oh well.

My extensive research throws up one fact: Yard Act are a band from Leeds. Nice. I like bands from Leeds, indeed I used to be in a band myself with the singer from one such notable act (The Mekons). Feels like Yard Act may have been influenced by the success of recent groups such as Fontaines DC, Idles, Sleaford Mods – also, of course, hip-hop, grime and so forth. I have long contended that spoken word – shouted, with a wash of noise in the background – is the most direct way to communicate: obliterates the need for fluency or musical literacy, for one. Not that I’m saying Yard Act aren’t literate (they clearly are). Anyway, it feels like we’re off to a great start with this Sixty for 60 series, because I love the acerbic, spiteful, politically charged No Wave chug of Yard Act. A real sense of The Velvet Underground, too. Can totally picture myself yelling this in my sleep as I inexorably head towards Prince Phillip territory. Anyone else notice how he looked like the inside of Rupert Murdoch in those final photographs before his death?

Catchy as all fuck.

Here are some sample lyrics.

But if looks could kill, 
My vacant gaze wouldn’t even pierce the skin
I’m not lazy, ambition is just something I have no interest in
At least when I meet my maker, I’ll embrace my mistakes
As I descend to the bowels of hell with a shit eating grin on my face