Thursday, 22 December 2011

12 To Watch In 2012

Thanks to Ludi Valentine's blog Silicone Valley, I now have a new crush (oh hai Danni Daniels), and an improved knowledge of sex toys, and phthalates - eeek! Valentine is one of the rad queers featured in my article 12 To Watch In 2012 for DIVA magazine's January/Feb issue (on sale today), which includes protest singers, poly advocates, political activists, rockers, artists and awesome transdyke women. Glad I got to write/publish this; its my queer feminist answer to the deluge of fawning, malecentric best-of lists that happen round about this time each year. Here's hoping 2012 will be SASSY.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Blueberry skies: Best of 2011

True Widow's As High As The Highest Heavens & From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth bagged the #1 spot on my best music of 2011 list over at The Guardian because I have rinsed that album like no other this year; narcotic riffs, echoing harmonies, bone-rattling bass lines and aching tempos. Seeing them live at The Macbeth was probably my favourite gig of the year. 

2011 was good year for guitar albums: True Widow, St Vincent, EMA, Japanese Voyeurs and Anna Calvi all upped the game in diverse, inspiring ways (courtesy nod to PJH's harp/guitar work on Let England Shake). Progressive danc/electro-types also did well, with Austra, Planningtorock, Gazelle Twin, Katy B and Emika, and undergroundish hip hop came big, with THEEsatisfaction, Shabazz Palaces, Danny Brown and UK vet Jehst.  

A lot of the gals I didn't get to include on this list will end up on the Wears The Trousers end-of-year list, but honourable mentions of all genders include: Azaelia Banks, Lana Del Rey, Beyonce, SBTRKT, Machinehead, Yelawolf, Rihanna, Rustie, Colleen Green, Chelsea Woolfe, Tu Fawning, Hollie Cook, La Sera, Planningtorock, Love Inks, Pettybone, Nitty Scott, THEEsatisfaction, Grimes, Veronica Falls, Razika, Drugstore, Ghostpoet, Katy B, Wiley, Left Lane Cruiser, Daedelus, Jamie Woon, James Blake, Paul White, Danny Brown, SBTRKT, Blood Orange, Little Roy, Samiyam, Wild Beasts, Amon Tobin, John Maus, A Dancing Beggar, Canibus, Tom Waits, Willy Moon, Gang Gang Dance, Factory Floor, Tyler The Creator, Kreayshawn, Nicola Roberts,  Mastodon, Cosmic Dead and  Lasers From Atlantis.

Grau top 10 tracks of 2011 in video:

I'm New Here - Jaime xx and Gil Scott Heron

2. Hudson Mohawke - All Your Love

3. Active Child - You Are All I See

4. Japanese Voyeurs - Couldnt find a good live version of Smother so here's my favourite 2012 JV track, Milk Teeth

5. Michael Kiwanuka - I'm Getting Ready

6. Jehst - Starting Over

7. Emika - Count Backwards

8. DELS - Violina

9. PJ Harvey - The Last Living Rose

10. Barbara Panther - Moonlight People

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Wears The Trousers 2011 Yearbook

You can enjoy a big ole slice of independent, UK-based femalecentric music press with your Christmas cake this year, because the Wears The Trousers 2011 Yearbook is now available for pre-order! Its printed on thick, uncoated paper, features the awesome Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs in superheorine covergirl pose on the front, and for a mere £5, you can expect to enjoy:
  • Interviews with tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, Tori Amos, Ane Brun, Zola Jesus, My Brightest Diamond, Joan As Police Woman, Alela Diane, Emmy The Great, Dum Dum Girls, EMA, Eleanor Friedberger, La Sera, Lisa Hannigan, She Keeps Bees, Drugstore, Big Deal, Tennis, Sharon Van Etten, Gazelle Twin, Amy Klein, The Sandwitches, Jenny Wilson, THEEsatisfaction, Jennie Abrahamson and more!
  • A rundown of our top fifty albums of 2011! 
  • A peek into the future with a look at some of next year’s most promising artists and albums!
Sounds delicious, doesn't it? Reserve your copy here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Feeling for my shoes

"In the fall it was better than at other times of the year. That was because of harvest season, cotton picking, corn pulling and so on like that. There was more money around then. In the spring of the year there wasn't much of anything because people were trying to get themselves straightened out over the winter season. Along about June and July things begin to pick up to where you could get hold of some money. September, October, November and sometimes up through December and sometimes January, that's when you really had to get it. Didn't make no difference what kind of hustle you had to do, you had to get it right through then. Those were the big months, that's when the money was floating around. When things would start to fall off, I would go back to Memphis and kind of take it easy until the next season came"

Blues player and Robert Johnson's on/off travel companion, Johnny Shines, quoted in Elijah Wald's  Escaping The Delta. I love the idea of seasonal music in this sense, of artistic trade syncing in to economic tides in a kind of mutually rewarding cycle - hard, calloused hands in the fields rewarded with coins that fall into the palms of hungry guitar players, the music blooming out just as the crops are cut down. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Paws up!

Photographing Magnus is almost impossible unless he's coaxed into curling up for a snooze on my lap. He's a blur of fur, rocketing around the house at amphetamine-style mph, all stripes, baby claws and shark teeth. Its fascinating to watch his tiny kitten body instinctively perfecting the maneuvers of adult cats; he's cultivating a clumsy, juvenile kind of elegance - prowling, stretching, leaping - stalking us from room to room, saucer-like eyes peeping out from hidden spots, neat white paws tucked under his chin, belly low to the ground and the arc of his back easing out, bottom in the air, a little wiggle....then POUNCE! Its terrifyingly funny, the audacity of this tiny furry thing who launches his miniature frame at us with all the confidence of a Safari predator, ruthless when he's awake and leisurely affectionate in repose.

King of book mountain, having toppled the neatly piled stacks.