An Interview with Safety First Records

Once upon a time, the term ‘indie’ described a philosophy rather than a genre and an indie label meant a way of doing things, not an identifiable sound. Xanthi Barker meets the people behind Safety First Records, a passionate attempt to live up to the ideals that come with independence The night before Guy Fawkes’, … Continue reading An Interview with Safety First Records

Go West: An Interview with Jonathan Evison

Rooted in the history and traditions of the Pacific Northwest, Jonathan Evison’s West of Here rethinks the epic American novel for the 21st century. Dan Coxon talks to the author about the difficulties of selling his American vision overseas. Portrait by Keith Brofsky For a New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Evison has remained remarkably … Continue reading Go West: An Interview with Jonathan Evison

Gauge: Hustler on the Move (Aqua Boogie Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Texas rapper Gauge knows how to compact syllables, but that won’t separate anyone from the current pack, especially given all the dried-up roto-tom-filled beats on this docket, the worst of which is Beat It Up, an Usher-blingy makeout number with a feat. by Miss Myke. Chicago-house (and tenuously Tupac-connected) producer Mr. … Continue reading Gauge: Hustler on the Move (Aqua Boogie Records)

Kiyomi: Child in Me (self-released)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Interesting little vanity release here in that it stars a Japanese-American chick from New Yawk doing an unintentional Forrest Gump routine. I’d expected jazz, but this is straight piano pop, open-hearted, almost like something you’d hear during lovey-dovey scenes in an anime cartoon, ie, believe it or not, there’s a market … Continue reading Kiyomi: Child in Me (self-released)

Reverse The Curse: Hither and Yon (Paper+Plastic Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Take a bunch of Cleveland-burb kids who wish they were in either Airborne Toxic Event, Unsane or Thursday, let them yell, holler and flog themselves in a studio and it’d sound like this. If I’m reading their blurb sheet right they’re moving away from the indie-punk that was their original formative … Continue reading Reverse The Curse: Hither and Yon (Paper+Plastic Records)

TV Eye: 30 Rock and Jonathan Meades on France

Jacob Knowles-Smith on homophobia in elitist liberal comedy and nationalism in polymath documentaries After the inconvenience of creator Tina Fey’s pregnancy, the new season of 30 Rock (NBC) has finally aired. If there was one impact of her pregnancy on the show it was Fey’s slightly fuller face – which, I should say, was only … Continue reading TV Eye: 30 Rock and Jonathan Meades on France

John Warner: The Funny Man

Reviewed by Declan Tan John Warner’s debut novel, about the rise and fall of an unnamed American comedian known only as “the funny man”, is a mulchy broth of satire, cultural commentary and La-Z-Boy philosophy that simmers away on lukewarm, only ever threatening to come to the boil, though not without ambition, before bubbling back … Continue reading John Warner: The Funny Man

Benji Kaplan: Meditacoes no Violao (Circo Mistico Productions)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger New York-bred Brazil-o-phile Kaplan provides a sort of life-travelogue here, soloing nonchalantly throughout the entire album on his nylon-stringed unplugged guitar. It’s so relaxed and unhurried that it can come off as improv, and reading some of the blurbage here I believe that’s the case with some of it. No matter, … Continue reading Benji Kaplan: Meditacoes no Violao (Circo Mistico Productions)

Abyssal Creatures: Social Awkwardness (Independent Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger A vanity release in more than one sense. Colorado kid Ian Garrett Fellerman is a lonely geek with a score to settle with jocks, chicks who read Dostoevsky, pretty much everyone of his generation, so he’s attached his own Hoobastank emo bleating to his own Postal Service-like cheese, beat it with … Continue reading Abyssal Creatures: Social Awkwardness (Independent Records)

Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen)

Reviewed by Declan Tan Steve McQueen’s second feature is a visually arresting, thematically dense piece of cinema, that may, and probably will, prove to be an important film in years to come. That is, if enough people get to see it. Having been cursed with a NC-17 rating in the US and a limited release … Continue reading Shame (Dir: Steve McQueen)

The Chocolate Horse: Beasts (Stable Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Specializing in the wispy, sparse and non-commital zen that defined 70s chill-folk-rock, this Cincy band makes elevator music for bongpackers old and young. They rarely deviate from a formula that nestles Blind Melon between Mountain and Belle & Sebastian – wait, I’m lying, there’s some Warlocks fuzz-rock in there too. What … Continue reading The Chocolate Horse: Beasts (Stable Records)

Regurgitator: SuperHappyFunTimesFriends (Valve Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Their seventh full-length finds these anti-Wiggles Aussie punks floating an endless supply of quite listenable joke tunes powered by (very appropriate) bones to pick. All Fake Everything is just awesome, singer Quan Yeomans taking aim at modern rap with a grenade launcher, the first half a poetic apology from an interchangeable … Continue reading Regurgitator: SuperHappyFunTimesFriends (Valve Records)

Lowe: Evolver (WTII Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger The rate at which Chicago indie WTII has been wailing on Metropolis Records in the fight for the goth dollar has been noticeable lately, and now it’s even happening in the 80s-pop sideshow that’s becoming more and more a part of the action. The third album from this Swedish band is … Continue reading Lowe: Evolver (WTII Records)

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 7: Hyde Park

The final photo-essay by Dr Nick Maroudas on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London. The series begins here Epstein lived at no. 18 Hyde Park Gate, and it says much for the civic pride of this ultra-respectable neighbourhood that he was twice commissioned to make a sculpture for the Park. Both of them have a … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 7: Hyde Park

TV Eye: The Story of Musicals and Timeshift: The Smoking Years

Jacob Knowles-Smith tries to make sense of this season’s viewing With the Christmas schedule now safely out of the way, viewers can settle into shows designed to ward off the effects ‘the lull’ and winter blues that come without an enforced sense of Christmas cheer. This year Charles Dickens, the codifier of our Christmas traditions, … Continue reading TV Eye: The Story of Musicals and Timeshift: The Smoking Years

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 6: Portrait Busts and Elemental Carvings

The sixth of Dr Nick Maroudas’ photo-essays on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London. The series begins here These little works are scattered round the world, but I happened to snap them on exhibition in the West End. The Epstein centenary exhibition of 1980 was not your modern blockbuster, with a glossy colour catalogue and … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 6: Portrait Busts and Elemental Carvings

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 5: Parliament Square

The fifth of Dr Nick Maroudas’ photo-essays on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London. The series begins here “The finest body of mounted riflemen in the world”. Generous tribute to a former foe of the British Empire, from Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples – a history of the greatest body of armed robbers … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 5: Parliament Square

Freddy V: Easier Than It Looks (Watersign Productions)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Okay, okay, about four songs in I get where this is going, basic Weatherscan background jazz à la Kenny G, born from Freddy’s artistic turpitude developed during hack stints with Average White Band, Michael McDonald, need I say more. The ideas, though lovingly rendered by Freddy and co-producer Mo Pleasure (am … Continue reading Freddy V: Easier Than It Looks (Watersign Productions)

Ghost Knife: Kill Shelter Yes (End Sounds)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger There may be much unfortunate confusion when people buy this LP expecting “pop-punk,” one of the main categories into which this stuff’s been lumped. This stuff has nothing to do with the oversaturated emo market, as fans of Austin-based singer Mike Weibe (on leave from Riverboat Gamblers) would instinctively know. But … Continue reading Ghost Knife: Kill Shelter Yes (End Sounds)

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 4: Victoria and Battersea Park

The fourth of Dr Nick Maroudas’ photo-essays on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London. The series begins here Victoria – For London Transport Transport House at 55 Broadway, over St James Park tube station, was the tallest building in the London of 1929. Fascism was in the air, Signor Mussolini (as the Press politely styled … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 4: Victoria and Battersea Park

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 3: Cavendish Square – For The Convent of the Holy Child

The third of Dr Nick Maroudas’ photo-essays on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London. The series begins here One side of John Lewis’s (“never knowingly undersold”) fronts bustling Oxford Street with its rabbits that dart on and off the buses to do their shopping. The other side of John Lewis backs onto a little oasis … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 3: Cavendish Square – For The Convent of the Holy Child

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 2: The Strand – For The British Medical Association

The second of Dr Nick Maroudas’ photo-essays on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London. The first is here “Let’s all / Go down the Strand”. Walking along the Strand is always a pleasure because of its variety and the nearness of the river. “Hear the little German band / Ach du liebe Augustin”. Entertainments abound … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 2: The Strand – For The British Medical Association

Intensus: Intensus (Metal Blade Records)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Journeyman multi-instrumentalist Eli Litwin is from Philly, where he latched on to the extreme-metal scene at first before growing to dig math-metal and basically anything else that makes guitars sound utterly nuts. Even an eclectic snob like me can appreciate this project, which, simplistically enough, comprises a collection of off-the-cuff drum … Continue reading Intensus: Intensus (Metal Blade Records)

Martin Moretto: Martin Moretto Quintet (self-released)

Reviewed by Eric Saeger Sometimes you’re just looking for a little dinner-jazz and lots of subtlety. Moretto, an Argentine jazz guitarist based in New York, explores the sublime in his debut LP as a leader, pulling off some barely-there genius (the runs toward the end of ‘Imagenes’ almost sound electronically altered). His agility in the … Continue reading Martin Moretto: Martin Moretto Quintet (self-released)

London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 1: Bloomsbury

The first of seven photo-essays by Dr Nick Maroudas on Jacob Epstein’s public sculptures around London Prologue I had read Epstein’s Let There Be Sculpture in South Africa, along with many other books, when I came to Imperial College of Science and Technology in 1956. I vaguely recalled some passages: a penetrating judgment on Rodin … Continue reading London’s Epstein Sculptures: Part 1: Bloomsbury