Sixty for 60: 18. Bleu Russe

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 is the turn of Benjamin Berton to nominate the quite extraordinary stylings of Bleu Russe – Ça fait du bien. Berton has cheated here, because this is from February 2020 but as this music really is quite extraordinary I will forgive him. Extraordinary inasmuch as this song reminds me of Al Larsen and his primordial expression of love, Some Velvet Sidewalk. (Nirvana occasionally sounded like a slightly inferior version of Some Velvet Sidewalk, which ain’t meant to be a diss on the big KC just a comment on how raw and beautiful SVS were.) Bleu Russe are equally as extraordinary however. Intrigued, I clicked on a couple of their other YouTube songs and they sound nothing like. Nothing at all like. Maybe these are several different bands all going by the same name? Those dozen or so of you who are reading, see what you think. The final clip is revelatory: like Sleaford Mods hit with a lo-fi electronica button and driven to mindless repetition to keep spitting the words “like Jumping Jack Flash” over and over – the rest I do not understand, as I have little to no grasp of French.

The video in itself is quite disturbing, but adding sound really does not help the feeling of disturbance. This music is absolutely to be encouraged.

(That Some Velvet Sidewalk song by the way is one of the GREAT unheard classic rock songs of the early 90s.)

Sixty for 60: 16. Nightspell

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.

Another sleepless night. Another morning when I wake at 4.30am and wonder just how I am going to fill the blank space in between now and when I next see a human being. Another day of knocking around the inside of my house, wondering if other people have lives, friends, stuff they do which makes them happy to be alive. Folk say you shouldn’t let your workplace or your partner define you, but what have I ever been if not defined by my workplace or relationship? We spend more time in this life alone, whatever happens. It’s grey outside, and these days there is a constant humming in my ears – a little like an old computer or fridge ticking over, but constant. I already know what I need. I need some good old school rock’n’roll as She Herself created, some gold old-fashioned rock’n’roll with shiny metallic skirts and bobbing lights and angel wings, guitars that chug and burr, beautiful underplayed harmonies and buzzing guitars, old school like The Breeders and Scarce and those other names I hold dear but increasingly am starting to wonder whether I dreamt through entire decades of my life, a glorious rock’n’roll-drenched dream and soon, very soon, any day now, I am going to wake and discover that I am in fact what I have long suspected myself of being: not a figure to envy or hate or be aware of, but just plain me – a little shy and a little dull and a whole load mediocre. I struggle against these thought patterns near every day, when I allow them in. I try not to allow them in. I cannot listen to old music (music made by ‘indie’ bands in the 80s and 90s and 00s), it makes me too sad. Why would I do that deliberately? So my artificial high, my Joey Ramoney, my drugs fix needs to restart all over again, needs to come from somewhere… needs to come from moments and series like this. Nightspell – Sea of Thieves. This reminds me of my French crush, the increasingly scary Sugar & Tiger, and … it ticks every box I want ticking. For now. It makes me happy without making me sad, lost in the pureness of the moment for 150 brief seconds. Beautiful, bruising, beautiful. I want to play it FUCKING LOUD, but cannot for fear of waking the neighbours.

So fine.

It’s your turn it’s your turn it’s your turn
Listen listen listen
Time is gone this is all this is it
Do you care? Suck all the air
A sense of love is hardly real
It is my life you want to steal
A pirate thief has come for me
My heart is rich with victory
So please stop talking
It my turn it’s my turn it’s my turn
Listen listen listen
There’s no way it’s ok there’s no way
Do you care suck all the air
Swim away swim away swim away swim away
Take anything that you want
Take anything but me

Sixty for 60: 14. Nightshift

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 Facebook friend Alexis Late – ‘Power Cut’ by Nightshift. (Are they Australian? Please tell me they’re Australian! They totally sound Australian.) Slightly panicked, she writes, “I’m probably too late but just in case xx” and then adds, “Oh no that was 2020! Eek sorry 😳 But that was my favourite song of 2020. Here is a 2021 one xx.” No need to worry Alexis, both are great – and strikingly different too. (Beach Photography have a bit of a Petticoats vibe about them, don’t you think?) This one reminds me of… no, wait. Why should you care which obscure yet magnificent Sydney and Melbourne band this reminds me of? All you need to know is: does this pass the Electrelane test?

Well, does it? You can answer your own question at around the 4.15 mark when the clarinet (oboe?) and swings come into play. Fuck YEAH it passes the Electrelane test. And no, it ain’t from anywhere close to Melbourne or Sydney or Brisbane or any of those other cities I hold so dear – but that’s cool. That’s fine. Good music is good music is good music. And this groove just keeps going on and on and on, so much so that when the needle leaves the groove you just need to place it back in there and start dancing all over again. A little bit Totally Mild, a little bit one of those homebuilt cassette labels from the early 1980s (the synth), a little bit Life Without Buildings even. I mean, what more do you need to know? This contains near everything Everett True loves about a certain strand of psych music. I know, because I asked him.

I notice this is referred to as “post-punk” on their YouTube channel but it really isn’t.

It is way more magnificent than that. My new favourite band. Their record label is named after a Nina Simone song. Do yourself a favour: listen to their entire album. So good.

Sixty for 60: 13. Gravel Samwidge

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. Again, today I am breaking my own rules. I do not believe this was a nomination but certainly a) I have been aware of this for some time now, and b) these are some of my old homeboys from Brisbane and as such take precedence. It has only been in recent months that I no longer miss Brisbane and its sun and isolation and massive lawns every day – this, more than five years since I moved back to the UK. Haywards Heath is similar: but as yet, I have not discovered the space or underground music scene that made Brisbane so bearable and indeed desirable. And the grunge! Sometimes, it feels like Brisbane’s Gravel Samwidge – and the much-missed, sadly departed Bek Moore – are the only people left this side of the Arm himself to understand what was meant by “the grunge”.

Today, we have Gravel Samwidge – ‘Wrong Way’ (Swashbuckling Hobo Records).

Mess. Noise. Freedom. Beer. Sprawling comatose under share houses. Loudness. Camaraderie. Loving the loud rock and most all that goes with it. Loving the weird little scuttling creatures that lurk beneath the abandoned car in the garage under your share house.

Or, as Robert Brokenmouth says about their newest vinyl Complaints:

It’s quite unpleasant, and I may never listen to it again. But if I do, it will be very loud, and I will end up in jail. I like Gravel Samwidge. They’re out of kilter with everything else around right now. The songs put the listener right in the singer’s place, their intense, irritated narrative. The Gravels write songs as natural to Australia as the King Brown Snake, and just about as cuddly.

Agreed. He goes on to mention a fair bit about The Birthday Party and The Scientists – but bearing in mind I have been cited on numerous occasions as saying Kim Salmon invented grunge in Australia years ahead of schedule, I think we can safely say me and the Brokenmouth are spewing forth syllables from the same dusty semen-impregnated hymn book here. He also adds this most excellent disclaimer:

Don’t get “Complaints” if you want to dance (get the Revillos’ Cherry Red box, “Stratoplay” instead). Don’t get “Complaints” if you think that Nirvana were stoner rock, nor if you think Mudhoney stole Nirvana’s glory. This ain’t Seattle-nostalgia. This is something very nasty out of Brisbane. Get “Complaints” if you’re a grumpy old git like me who wants the world to pay a bit more attention to itself, and you fancy a turn inside yourself. Down a wrong way street, naturally.

So true. Ain’t Seattle nostalgia at all: this is specifically Aussie RULES and more specifically Brisbane and also nasty and cuddly and twisted (though, much as I love the new Revillos box, gotta say that it’s mostly irrelevant after the first disc). So that’s that. Gravel Samwidge: two MASSIVE fucking thumbs up from ME! This is like Fontaines DC or Idles or someone, but really fucking good. (NOTE: I like Fontaines DC and Idles and someone.) THEY KICK SOME FUCKEN ASS.

As I wrote before:

I really appreciate any music that sounds this sludgy and acerbic and sarcastic. Music that captures a moment in time, and doesn’t move forwards, only sideways. I really appreciate any music that makes me feel a little less alone. I really appreciate any music that can remind me of music that’s actually near-impossible to duplicate but tries anyway and gloriously, deliriously fails. Music that makes me shuffle backwards and forwards, rooted on the spot, waving my non-hair in abandon. In my head, I’m dancing. Always dancing. In my head, I’m surrounded by music like this and I’m leaning out of a third-flight window throwing whiskey bottles at the dullards below. In my head, this is the sound to aim for: drawn-out and lingering and not a little woozy. Everything is a failed climax. Everything is anchovies.

If there were from Birmingham UK, they’d be called The Nightingales, and Stewart Lee would be making gloriously brilliant documentaries about their sadly never-realised glory years.

Sixty for 60: 11. Azita

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 the peerless Neil Kulkarni (Dave Callahan’s description of when he met me in the 1980s always comes to mind when I think of Neil, “he treats music like a bruised lover”). Neil did not recommend this song specifically to me, but I care not a snap for that. I am simply shocked that I was not aware of this artist before now. (Disclaimer: I may have been, but forgot.) The song under consideration is ‘If U Die’ by Azita. Neil shared this on Facebook three scant hours ago with the words, “Love the album this is from and love this video”. So I watched it still half-asleep, through eyelids heavy with the debris of smoke from the bonfire on the allotment the night before, and was totally taken in by the video. “Who is that dude with the greasy long hair and beard, like a 70s acid causality or bit-part member of Foo Fighters?” I thought to myself drowsily. “Man, that female guitarist rocks.”

Damn, I can be slow.


Perhaps it was the context or the connection but… wait. Isn’t this precisely the sort of music I used to hate, too-clever math rock mixed in with improv jazz and weird time signatures and a stop-start thrown in right at the heart of the clamour just so we appreciate how “on it” the band are? Like I say, I was drowsy – but Neil sez and so I let the music play out, becoming more and more captured by its off-peak melody, its malodorous sway. Second play in, I found myself resenting the fact I have deliberately removed myself from most every press agent’s mailing list ever just cos I dislike clutter, cos I want to find out more more more about this intoxicating off-kilter sound, hear more more more of this intoxicating off-beam sound.


Nobly, I have resisted the temptation to discover more. Research? Why bother when you can revel in the mystery, the imagination? To these ears, it recalls some fine 1981-vintage excursions into jazz, improv and post-prog that was taking place at London Musicians Collective. Ido not have the slightest idea who this artist (“band”) is, and am revelling in it. A perfect moment, alone.

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: 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.