Moddi Unsongs, Kodi, and Catherine Rayner

Moddi Unsongs

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Moddi, or Pål Moddi Knutsen, is a Norwegian folk musician whose latest project is an album of previously-banned covers, Unsongs.

Admittedly, few of them are familiar to me, but I recognise Kate Bush’s Army Dreamersbanned from BBC radio during the first Gulf War – and Pussy Riot’s Punk Prayer.

Moddi’s voice is endearingly awkward, reminding me of Björk or, especially during Open LetterDolores O’Riordan. I really like June Fourth 1989: From the Shattered Pieces of a Stone it Begins, Army Dreamers, and The Shaman and the Thief.

Kodi

I recently upgraded my home internet connection – previously I was only able to receive a paltry 1MB download speed – and the first thing I did was buy a device on which I could install Kodi.

Kodi® (formerly known as XBMC™) is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media center for playing videos, music, pictures, games, and more. https://kodi.tv/about/

I’tim-and-eric-mind-blownm really not sure how it’s legal – it’s something to do with the fact that nothing is ever downloaded to your device – but it allows you to stream essentially any TV show or Movie at any time. Mind blown.

So far, I’ve watched a bunch of shows and Movies: Harley and the Davidsons (made-for-TV bobbins), Hail, Caesar! (very good), and Westworld (OMG!! AMAZING!!!11); and I’m planning to get rid of my Sky TV dish.

Catherine Rayner

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My 3yo daughter has a copy of The Bear Who Shared. I can’t say I’m a fan of the story, but the illustrations are beautiful. It’s both written and illustrated by Rayner and I’ve since found out that she has won awards for her artwork.

She has quite a few kids books out, and if they’re anything like the one I’ve read, I’d recommend taking a look at the art, rather than the story.

Saga, Sturgill Simpson, and drawing

Saga

It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a comic or a graphic novel as much as I’ve loved Brian K Vaughan’s Saga.

Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series [depicting] a husband and wife, Alana and Marko, from long-warring extraterrestrial races, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, who is born in the beginning of the series and who occasionally narrates the series as an unseen adult.

It’s like Star Wars written for grown-ups; it’s graphic, funny, and sometimes both; and it has great characters, such as The Will, The Stalk, The Brand and Lying Cat.

But the thing I like about it most is Fiona Staples’ artwork. It’s so good, and I’m definitely going to look at some of her other work.

Saga Volume 6 is out now.

Saga

Sturgill Simpson

I’m off to see Sturgill Simpson in Glasgow tomorrow night (review to come, perhaps). I’ve been enjoying his work since he released Meta Modern Sounds in Country Music and his more recent album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, is just as good.

To get you in the mood, here’s a clip of him on Letterman from a couple of years back, doing one of his more straight country tunes.

Drawing

I’ve stumbled back into picking up a pencil and paper again recently – not that I’m any great artist, but I do like to try my hand at some illustrating every now and then.

This time, I’ve been asked if I’d like to contribute a pin-up for a friend’s forthcoming comic. Fraser Campbell’s Alex Automatic will be out later in the year, and hopefully I’ll have something in it. Here’s a sneak preview of what that might look like.

Alex Automatic

Pocket Operator, Europe, and #52whiteboards

For a recent birthday, I was gifted a Pocket Operator PO-12, and I’ve been annoying the family with it ever since. It’s essentially a pocket sized drum machine and, although its limited feature set would suggest that it won’t be at the centre of any EDM albums anytime soon, it’s a simple, and very effective way of creating some cool drum patterns.

There are a number of models, each of which has their own particular speciality, and can be synced together to enable the creation of multi-levelled tunes.

Great fun.

Speaking of fun, Euro 2016 has been underway for just over a week now, and I’ve enjoyed watching football again – after a break of a couple of years.

Unfortunately, however, it has been marred by a number of incidents involving fans from a number of different countries. From the (allegedly) Putin-approved skirmishes between Russian and English fans, to their Stadium battle, and then Croatia’s ludicrous in-fighting.

It’s all been rather unpleasant and a reminder that Europe is not really a fun place to be of late:

It’s in this context that the UK heads to the polls on Thursday to decide if it wants to continue being part of the European Union. Friday is sure to be an interesting day!

#52whiteboards is a colleague’s ongoing project to complete – you guessed it – 52 whiteboard drawings over the course of a year. John Lloyd is the supremely talented artist and I love seeing what he does each week.

The Grace of Jeff Buckley

I listen to a lot of podcasts.

From Helen and Olly’s Answer Me This, through NPR’s All Songs Considered, to WTF with Marc Maron, and many more in between. One of those others is KCRW’s Unfictional.

Fascinating documentary production and storytelling that covers the ground between the sophisticated and the profane. A half-hour of captivating stories of real life, created by the most talented producers from around the country, as well as stories from writers and performers based in Los Angeles.

A recent show, The Grace of Jeff Buckley, tells of a day-in-the-life of the late musician. That day in particular being March 18 1994.

An oral history of a day in the short life of musician Jeff Buckley… A day in London begins with a memorable photo shoot in the morning. In the afternoon, a radio performance stuns the DJ and her audience. Then, that night after two concerts, one planned and one improvised, his legend had begun to be written. It’s a story told by the people who were there, manager Dave Lory, booking agent Emma Banks, photographer Kevin Westenberg and tour manager Steve Abbott. Featuring exclusive interview and music recordings featuring Jeff Buckley.

It’s originally from BBC Four (where it’s also available) and is an interesting look at someone about whom I know very little. I know Grace, and Hallelujah, and that he didn’t know his dad, but that’s about it.

Somewhere in the back of my head, he’s always been a bit of a wallflower, but he comes across in this as having just the right amount of rock-star-arrogance, telling “Wasted Talent” agent Emma Banks, prior to meeting her that he’ll, “be wearing a hat, and I look like a musician.”

If you don’t get around to listening to the full episode, then at least listen to the acoustic GLR performance of Grace, highlighted in the podcast. It is fantastic.