Monday, 25 May 2020

Chop’s Journal - 24 May 2020

Ninth week of lockdown and it’s been ok. My anxiety about work has reduced, as I managed to get a bit more productive. I relaxed a bit on the days when I didn’t fit in sport or didn’t find time for other fun things. It’s still a tricky balance but I’m doing ok. As always, music, exercise & list making helps a lot. I’m also fortunate to live within walking distance of some very pretty sections of the River Thames. 


This week’s favourite song is the first release from Laura Kidd, previously known as She Makes War, under her new Penfriend name. It got a play on Steve Lamaq’s Roundtable and seems to be getting a bit of traction which bodes well. I definitely get the rebrand and am looking forward to the day I get to see the new act live. 

Everything Looks Normal in the Sunshine - Penfriend 

Music I’m enjoying

‪Not sure if I’ve previously mentioned that I try to play most albums at least three times before deciding if I really love them or not. This is a thing I got from Ruth & Martin’s Album Club blog, where Martin would suggest an album for a celebrity to listen to and get them to listen at least three times before discussing their thoughts. As someone who listens to a lot of new music this does mean I have to work quite hard to fit it all in but it also means I give the music a fair chance. 

This week I’ve become obsessed with the latest album by The Electric Soft Parade having initially dismissed it. My first two listens hadn’t done much for me at all & I might not have bothered with a third play if I hadn’t been working from home and looking for something that wouldn’t distract me too much. Stages turned out to be perfect for that, actually helped reduce my anxiety and I found, after a couple of further plays, the album really clicked for me. I think it will be in my favourites of the year. 

Book Reading

Book 7: Darkwood by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch 

Thoroughly enjoyably modern fairy tale that weaves themes of intolerance & authoritarianism into a really enjoyable tale of good vs evil. There’s a gentle humour, characters you’ll want to route for and some neat reversals of the usual stereotypes. Gabby HC has previously written for Horrible Histories & the News Site but has been best known to me as Scriblit on Twitter. I read this book as it was offered cheap on kindle but I think this will be a series I’ll want to follow for some time.

Lockdown Top Fives - Week 9

A slightly curtailed week of top fives as I had a few days off work and decided I wanted to have a proper break. Still managed some fun top five discussions which you don’t get to see on here and as normal loads of great suggestions that made me want to reconsider my choices. 

▪️Monday 18th: Bands with Punctuation* in their names 

  1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  2. ¡Forward Russia!
  3. The Go! Team
  4. Sunn O)))
  5. ? and the Mysterians 

*not ampersands though you can include other typographic symbols like *

Sub Top 5: Umlauts Special 

  1. Motörhead
  2. Hüsker Dü
  3. Amon Düül II
  4. Spın̈al Tap
  5. Föllakzoid

▪️Tuesday 19th: Albums of the 00s

  1. Cat Power - The Greatest (2006)
  2. Sleater-Kinney - The Woods (2005)
  3. Bill Callahan - Sometimes We Wish We Were An Eagle (2009)
  4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
  5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus (2004)

▪️Wednesday 20th:  Long Songs - over 6 minutes

  1. Marquee Moon - Television
  2. Moya - GY!BR
  3. Good Morning, Captain - Slint
  4. I Walk On Guilded Splinters - Dr John
  5. Jungleland - Bruce Springsteen 

 Long Songs - over 15 minutes

  1. Supper’s Ready - Genesis (23:06)
  2. Mogwai Fear Satan - Mogwai (16:19)
  3. Grendel - Marillion (17:16)
  4. Cop Shoot Cop - Spiritualized (17:00)
  5. Sister Ray - The Velvet Underground (17:29)

▪️Thursday 21st: Comic Book Artists

  1. Walter Simonson
  2. Steve Ditko 
  3. Alan Davies
  4. Brian Bolland 
  5. John Byrne

▪️Friday 22nd: Films of the 60s

  1. The Apartment (Wilder)
  2. From Russia With Love (Young)
  3. The Italian Job (Collinson)
  4. Carry On Cabby (Thomas)
  5. Fahrenheit 451 (Truffaut) 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Chop’s Journal - 18 May 2020

A better week thankfully though other than running, work & occasional early morning raids on Tesco not much to talk about. 

I did manage ninety minutes of music on Sunday and felt like my equilibrium had been restored by doing that. A bit of overdue bass practice, a bit of singing and a few new tunes on the uke. It’s good for my soul.


After The Fact - Martha Ffion

Music I’m enjoying

‪I first discovered Eve Owen when she accompanied The National on their last tour. She contributed song writing to the I Am Easy To Find album and performed vocals on the tour along with Kate Stables. Eve’s debut solo album, Don’t Let The Ink Dry, is really great. 

A couple of people nominated Mogwai’s ZEROZEROZERO for my Albums of 2020 so far top five which took me by surprise as I had no idea they’d released anything new. It was available for pay what you can on Bandcamp and is a another excellent soundtrack release. 

Another album that somewhat snuck up on me is Mark Lanegan’s Straight Songs of Sorrow. I think it’s released to coincide with his Autobiography and on first couple of listens it seems to be up with his very best. 

Book Reading

‪I finished re-reading Good Omens this week. The recent TV adaption was very good and I enjoyed reading the book with those visuals fresh in my memory. 

Lockdown Top Fives

▪️Monday 11th: Pop Bangers

  1. Crazy In Love - Beyoncé & Jay-Z
  2. Toxic - Britney Spears
  3. Some Girls - Rachel Stevens 
  4. Never Ever - All Saints
  5. Bad Guy - Billie Eilish 

▪️ Tuesday 12th: Bands from all Ireland 

  1. Stiff Little Fingers 
  2. Lisa O’Neill
  3. The Undertones
  4. My Bloody Valentine / Rory G
  5. Jetplane Landing

▪️ Wednesday 13th: Songs Under 2 minutes 

  1. Three Girl Rhumba - Wire
  2. Tame - Pixies
  3. Heard About Your Band - Brakes
  4. Fell In Love With A Girl - White Stripes
  5. Never Talking To You Again - Hüsker Dü 

▪️ Thursday 14th: Songs of 2020 so far 

  1. Hope - Cable Ties
  2. Kaizen - Peaness 
  3. Wee Guys (Bobby’s Got a Punctured Lung) - The Just Joans
  4. Dear Sweet Rosie - Freya Beer
  5. Checkout Girl - HANN 

▪️ Friday 15th: Films of the Fifties

  1. North by North West (Hitchcock)
  2. Some Like It Hot (Wilder)
  3. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa) 
  4. Twelve Angry Men (Lumet) 
  5. Touch of Evil (Welles)

▪️ Saturday 16th: Eurovision Songs 

  1. Waterloo - ABBA
  2. Puppet on a String - Sandy Shaw
  3. Hard Rock Hallelujah - Lordi
  4. Boom Bang-a-Bang - Lulu
  5. Rise Like a Phoenix - Conchita Wurst

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Chop’s Journal - 10 May 2020

It’s been a really tough week one way or another. Not much to add here. Hope you’re all hanging in there.


Adding Up - Parsnip

Music I’m enjoying

Never Work, Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom’s second album of duets is a joy. Songs about robots, the gig economy and the nature of work in the 21st century with the usual wit & melody of The Burning Hell. 

I’ve also enjoyed debut albums from Lavinia Blackwall, previously with Trembling Bells, and Green / Blue, the new band for Jim Blaha of The Blind Shake (among others) that I recently discovered via a Contraflow playlist. 

Lockdown Top Fives - Week 7

▪️Monday 4th: TV Sci-Fi series

  1. Blake’s 7
  2. Star Trek: The Next Generation
  3. Babylon 5
  4. Battlestar Galactica: Original 
  5. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

▪️ Tuesday 5th: Bands/Artists from Canada

  1. The Burning Hell 
  2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor 
  3. Leonard Cohen
  4. Rush 
  5. A Silver Mount Zion

▪️Wednesday 6th: Songs about Radio

1. Do You Remember Rock n Roll Radio - Ramones

2. Mexican Radio - Wall of Voodoo

3. Radio Free Europe - R.E.M. 

4. Radio - Ty Segall 

5. Radio Radio - Elvis Costello 

▪️ Thursday 7th: Albums of 2020 so far

  1. “The Private Memoirs & Confessions of …” The Just Joans
  2. “Far Enough” Cable Ties
  3. “Every Bad” Porridge Radio
  4. “Juillet” En Attendant Ana
  5. “The Neon Skyline” Andy Shauf 

▪️ Friday 8th: Favourite Pubs

  1. Masons Arms, Teddington
  2. Bricklayers Arms, Putney 
  3. Royal Oak, Southwark 
  4. The Antelope, Surbiton
  5. Red Lion, Shepperton 

▪️ Saturday 9th: FA Cup Finals

  1. 1979 - Arsenal 3 Man Utd 2
  2. 1978 - Ipswich 1 Arsenal 0
  3. 1990 - Palace 3 Man Utd 3
  4. 1981 - Spurs 3 Man City 2
  5. 1975 - West Ham 2 Fulham 0

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Chop’s Journal - 3 May 2020

The weather has taken a turn for the worse this week which has maybe affected the mood in our household a bit. I think the main struggle is the feeling we’re not making as much use of the time as we could do. 

My back feels better now so have been out for a couple of runs & managed my first 5K on Saturday for as long as I can remember. I also started trying to learn how to play the harmonica I’ve had about 5 years via a set of lessons on YouTube. Something else to add to the list of instruments I play terribly. 


Brown Paper - Darren Hayman

Music I’m enjoying

Got quite a lot of new physical music over the last few weeks. And last Friday I did another plunder of Bandcamp during their no fees period which looks like being a regular thing. Bandcamp seem like good people and I’ve been using them more often recently. 

Listening stats show that I’ve been enjoying the new Darren Hayman album quite a bit (22 songs all around 1 minute long). I bought the 7” which you can see in the picture and the digital release includes additional demo & alternative versions. 

I’m also enjoying the new BC Camplight album more than I expected. I struggled a little with his last one but this one flows really nicely. Katie Harkin’s debut solo album as Harkin is excellent too and the perhaps unexpected inclusion of Beyoncé in my stats is a result of listening to James Acaster’s new podcast, Perfect Sound Whatever. 

Other notes

Lockdown thoughts: We’re 6 weeks in (I think) and generally I’m doing ok but it’s been a tougher week at home. I’ve got used to the current restrictions but get a bit cross with people who seem oblivious to what’s going on. I think in hindsight we should have locked down earlier and possibly been more stringent. Some of this is hindsight obviously but I don’t think the government have served us well. 

I worry about how long we may be affected and think whatever we can do to reduce that would be good. I’m missing gigs a bit but I can live without them as long as I know the bands, venues, promoters & people who work in that industry are supported to ensure they are still there when we return to normality. 

Lockdown Top Fives - Week 6

People who follow me on Twitter know I’ve been running daily top fives as a bit of distraction. I figured I should share those over here too. I will go back & post the previous ones on here sometime too. 

▪️Monday 27th: Top 5 Romantic Comedies 

  1. The Apartment (1960)
  2. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  3. Annie Hall (1977)
  4. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  5. When Harry Met Sally (1989)

▪️Tuesday 28th: Top 5 Gig Venues

  1. The Lexington 
  2. Union Chapel
  3. The MOTH Club
  4. Hope & Ruin, Brighton 
  5. Village Underground 


▪️Wednesday 29th: Fictional Detectives in Novels

  1. Miss Marple
  2. Sherlock Holmes
  3. Philip Marlowe
  4. Dirk Gently
  5. Jack Parlabane

▪️ Thursday 30th: Albums of the Sixties

  1. The Sonics - Here Are The Sonics (1965)
  2. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1968)
  3. Jethro Tull - Stand Up (1969)
  4. Nina Simone - Wild Is The Wind (1969)
  5. The Monks - Black Monk Time (1966)

▪️Friday 1st: Modern Black & White Films

  1. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
  2. Roma (2018)
  3. Ed Wood (1994)
  4. Sin City (2005)
  5. Somers Town (2008) 

▪️Saturday 2nd: UK Punk 7” singles 

  1. New Rose - The Damned
  2. Identity - X-Ray Spex
  3. Anarchy in the UK - Sex Pistols
  4. Suspect Device - Stiff Little Fingers
  5. Typical Girls - The Slits