Elise Trouw is obviously not the first person to discover a loop pedal, nor the first person to play many instruments on one track, but still, to me, what she does feels new.

And perhaps part of that is because tracks built up entirely from loops can often get boring very quickly, whereas her ‘loop’ music videos actually have momentum. They are so skilfully arranged, and as much about the performance as the music.

I sometimes find it fun to watch musicians really shred — to play incredibly fast, with incredible precision. But I actually find what Elise Trouw does more impressive than that, because she just makes it look absolutely effortless. It sounds like she is performing with a rock-solid band behind her. And I know that if I tried to do something like that I would just fuck up take after take after take…

Current Favourite Thing:
Also, I mean, there’s two ways you can try to deal with very young musicians who are extraordinarily precious. You can be consumed with bitterness, or you can try to vicariously enjoy the youthful enthusiasm. I defy you not to do the latter when watching this video:

As far as I’m concerned, travel TV with a good host is pretty much as good as TV gets.

And most of my favourites have been under some other pretext. In the 80s and 90s Michael Palin retraced the journey in the book Around The World In 80 Days. I love love love Andrew Graham-Dixon’s ‘the Art of…’ series for BBC4. And for Anthony Bourdain, perhaps the best travel TV host that I’ve seen in the last 5 years or so, the pretext is food. In many ways his most recent series, Parts Unknown, did with global cuisine what Jonathan Gold did with LA cuisine: showed how it can give you a different appreciation of cultures other than your own. He goes to Myanmar, Columbia, Libya, the Korean quarter of LA…

With Bourdain, who tragically died just a few months ago, I get the sense of a guy who spent lots of years trying to fit into a macho environment, but was now sick and tired of it, and serious about being a curious and compassionate human being. Continue reading

Okay, first recommendation of this month…

I have no idea when I first discovered Anna Akana. I think I’ve always been watching her YouTube videos, in much the same way that Mr Grady from The Shining has always been the caretaker of the Overlook hotel.

Actress, comedian, novelist, vlogger, musician, Mother of Cats, honest discussant of mental health problems. Daniel Radcliffe fan. Dreamer of sex dreams with people she doesn’t like. The videos are funny, insightful, compassionate and she’s definitely a talent to watch out for…

Current Favourite Thing:
I mean, it’s probably this…

A song I happened upon on Spotify. I thought the title looked good, and started the track, and thought… okay… kind of generic opening… and then a kind of generic riff… and then… one of the finest examples of songwriting I’ve heard in a very long time.

Not everyone has the same tastes in songwriting, and the thing I’ve always responded most to is to be able to cram a huge amount of emotional information into as few words as possible. And this, like the best punk rock, just nails in such a simple way the heartbreak of wanting others to see you the way you see yourself, but knowing that instead they see something they find deeply troubling.

You can also find more about the context behind the song below:

Not for the faint of soul…

Current Favourite Thing:
“The ragged ends of your summer dress…”

The comic 2000 AD was ubiquitous when I was a child. Its principle character was Judge Dredd, an almost ridiculously exaggerated version of the Hollywood action man that was so popular in the 1980s: muscular, militaristic, ultra-macho to the point of sadism, humourless (apart from the occasional sub-James Bond pun). I found him a deeply unlikeable character, and although I had friends who loved the comic I don’t remember reading one of this stories all the way through. Continue reading