Border Lord by Kris Kristofferson

Border Lord by Kris Kristofferson was my first taste of country music. In fact I think when I bought this album it was the first time I had stepped out of my musical bubble of that time. It has a slightly darker flavour than what I thought country was till then.

As I remember it I was on my way home from my early shift in a local warehouse when I passed by a charity shop in the town. In the window I saw a bunch of albums and Border Lord was one of them. I think it was the cover that initially drew me to it and at only about £1.50, how could I say no?

When I first listened to this album I was immediately drawn in – I hadn’t heard anything like it before. I had been brought up on a healthy diet of Fleetwood Mac, Meat Loaf and Supertramp; so it was a refreshing addition to my music range. In retrospect I think this was the album that made me start actively searching out different types of music.

Border Lord

The album opens with the song “Josie” which, as best as I can work out from the lyrics, is a song about a man finding himself experiencing his first love with a woman of the night. When I say “as best as I can work out”, I just mean that most of the album’s lyrics are open to interpretation. I tend to see the literal meanings first, as opposed to any metaphor attached. I think it speaks volumes for the album that I can hear it ten years later and still find new things within it.

The next song, “Burden of Freedom”, is a song directed to God by the singer, about either adjusting to life outside of a prison and what it has done to him, or about him taking his own life. This, along with the third song, “Stagger Mountain Tragedy”, are brilliant examples of the fully formed worlds within Kris’ songs that are expertly crafted with these sometimes-cryptic lyrics.

I was born on Stagger Mountain in the sunshine and the snow.
And leavin’ was the first mistake I made;
But I hungered for the shadows in the valley down below.
And the girl that danced the tune the devil played.
Her smile was like the blindin’ light of sunshine on the snow
And the flashin’ of her hair was black as sin.
And her body set the smokes of hell a-boilin’ in my skull.
When the fiddle of the devil made her spin.

opening lyrics from “Stagger Mountain Tragedy”

opening lyrics from “Stagger Mountain Tragedy”

The rest of the song takes a dark turn that I will let you discover for yourself.

The stand-out song on “Border Lord” for me, is the start of the album’s second half, “Little Girl Lost”. This, like some previous songs, comes across as being from a darker side of love. The song also has one of my favourite tempo changes I’ve ever heard.

“Smokey put the sweat on me” is a great driving song and gives “Border Lord” greater variety. Not that the album gets boring at all, it just gives it a breeze of cool air. It sounds like it would be a great live concert closer too. If you can listen to this song through without either bobbing your head or your feet, or both, then you’re in much more control of your body than I am.

I have shook Kris Kristofferson’s hand

Every album of Kris Kristofferson’s I’ve heard since “Border Lord” I’ve loved. I think my favourite is actually his eponymous debut, but this will always have a special place on my shelf.

Also, on the strength of this album, I travelled up to Edinburgh, from Birmingham, to see him live. He still knows how to command a stage, twang them strings and I even got to shake his hand.


You Know What It’s Like by Carla dal Forno

Since I first heard the song “Fast Moving Cars“, the album “You Know What It’s Like” by Carla Dal Forno has been on my radar ever since. When the album was released on October 15th, it both was and wasn’t what I was expecting.

It was, insofar as it being rooted in a consistent feeling of ambience that I came to expect from “Fast Moving Cars”, and the second single “What You Gonna Do Now”.

It wasn’t, in that I had half-expected the album to be samey throughout. However I am happy to say that the album had enough variety within, without becoming disjointed.

One thing is certain; with “You Know What It’s Like” you will be taken on a journey around some of the darker reaches of music.

You can buy “You Know What It’s Like” from Bandcamp.

Carla walks us into the void

Carla brings an eeriness to music that for me, has many distant echos back to albums like “The Marble Index” by Nico.

The opening song, an instrumental called “Italian Cinema” is possibly the strangest album intro I’ve heard in a long time. The title “Italian Cinema” is apt, being that it made me conjure up images of old Italian Giallo films. It starts with a strange warbling effect and merges into what I could only imagine as a demonic playground melody.

Four flies on grey velvet

Following “Italian Cinema” was the now-familiar crack of thunder, ushering in one of my favourite songs of the year, “Fast Moving Cars”. The song doesn’t seem to really go anywhere as such. It’s almost like a Wican chant set to a repeated base tone and minimal synthesizer. But that is precisely what I love about Carla Dal Forno’s music – her ethereal, often haunting, aesthetics.

“DB Rip” steps in as the third song on the album and brings a slightly more aggressive edge. With its punchier beat and sharper synths, it will either shake you free from the album’s trace-inducing charm, or take you deeper. I was taken deeper, so it was only fitting that the next song’s lyrics opened with the following:

What you gonna do now,
that the night’s come and it surrounds you?
What you gonna do now,
that the night’s come and it surrounds you?
You could wait for the day,
Though I don’t think it’ll make a difference

What you gonna do now by Carla Dal Forno

What you gonna do now by Carla Dal Forno

Seduced by the darkness

This album has a darkness to it that is inviting, not off-putting. I can only liken it to the feelings I got during the end of this years film “The Witch”. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but let me just say it involves an inevitable pull into the comforting arms of darkness.

Out of the album’s eight songs, the division of instrumental and vocal-led songs is evenly spilt. At first seeing that the album clocked in at only 29 minutes, I can’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed. However, now that I have listened to “You Know What It’s Like” a few times, this now actually seems like a perfect length. And the fact that half of the album is instrumental – and experimentally so – gives the album a diversity that stops you getting bored from it’s surreal soundscapes.

This is an album I will be listening to either in bed or on the train when I want to zone out for my morning commute.


His word is his bond – Negan shows who is boss

Like many of the other comments on The Walking Dead’s seventh season opening episode, I too found it the most shocking. For me this episode showcased one of the best things that the writers do – take what you think you know and turn it around.

The drawing out of the big reveal set out by last season’s finale was left just the right length for me. Not only did it keep me on the edge of my seat, anxious, it also succeeded in putting me into as close to Rick’s frame of mind as it could. I don’t think I’ve ever been as anxious and upset and angry during one episode ever before. Of any TV show. The base of my spine was aching by the end from being that anxious while watching.

I’ve seen people writing about how the show was “too much” or that it had “jumped the shark”. What a load of bull. Negan is an evil bastard and will do anything to ensure his followers do exactly what he commands. He takes no shit and leads by example. The world of the Walking Dead has always been a brutal one and I think some people have become too comfortable in Rick leading the way and being the big boss man. I’m so glad a character like Negan has come into it to truly push our heroes to their emotional and physical limits.


Day out at Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Tip: Check your cereal boxes for “Buy One Get One Free” offers.

My good lady and I had a great day out at the Sea Life Centre Birmingham yesterday. It had been at least a couple of years since we’d last been and so it made a nice change. Plus we had a “buy one get one free” voucher from a cereal box, which is always nice.

Stood behind the family in front I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Dad. He was forking out £71.80 for himself, his wife and his two or three kids. I almost tapped him on the shoulder to advise him to go next door and buy two boxes of Frosties. Thereby getting two adult entries for the cost of two cereal boxes. But I figured the Sea Life Centre could do some good with the extra.

I was impressed with the array of sea creatures throughout the building, with the underwater tunnel at the end being of particular stand out. All of the talks we saw, including the Oceanic Adventures; Asian Short-clawed otters; and the behind the scenes tour were all great and very informative.

This was also the first time I’d seen Gentoo penguins up close. They were very cool and very inquisitive with the human faces pushed up against the glass.

The route throughout the Sea Life Centre was just right – not too long and not too short. I think we got there at about 1pm and left and about 4:45pm after the last talk. So you could easily do this in a morning or an afternoon. It pretty much moves around the building in one direction with many rooms containing multiple displays. Of course you can always go back through to look at any creatures again – we did, multiple times.

The only draw back was the lack of a cafe in the building, but that isn’t really a deal-breaker for me.

If you’re in Birmingham and have a morning or afternoon free, do consider the Sea Life Centre.

Some Facts I Remember Learning

The difference between Sharks and Rays is that Sharks have gills on the side of their head; Rays’ are on the bottom of their body.

The Mantis Shrimp’s hit is so strong, that if humans had the equivalent power, we could hit a ball into space.

Some breeds of fish can change sex, for instance when one of a breeding pair is removed.


Interview With Droid Bishop

Droid Bishop is a well known and respected name within the synthwave scene. He has music on SoundCloud that spans back several years, which you should definitely go and check out.

This month I was lucky enough to be able to send him some questions to answer and with Bishop-like precision, he got the answers straight back to me.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I am Droid Bishop. I live & make music in Los Angeles. This city at night is the best place and time to exist.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
My childhood musical heroes (who are still my heroes) include, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Queen, The Misfits, Daft Punk, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Django Reinhardt, Tupac, and many many more.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
Arnold Swarzenegger, Bruce Lee, Jamie Thomas, Harrison Ford, Marty McFly, Ferris Bueller , Zack Morris
What was the first album you remember buying?
Michael Jackson “Dangerous” on cassette
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I’ve been playing music since I was 7 years old, but after discovering Metallica’s early albums I knew that was it for me.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
Daft Punk, Tycho, Todd Terje, Power Glove, Com Truise, Aphex Twin
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Receiving messages from fan’s letting me know that my music makes their life better. That is what music/art should be about.
What is your favourite Book?
The Alchemist
What is your favourite Album?
I don’t know if I can answer that, but a few top choices would be: Michael Jackson “Thriller” , Metallica “Master of Puppets” , Daft Punk “Discovery”, Steely Dan “The Royal Scam”
What is your favourite Film?
Die Hard
What is your favourite TV Show?
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
At the moment, “It Follows” film score. Also, “Back To The Future”
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
Not at the moment. I’m working on new music, so I tend to block everything else out while I’m in that process.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Probably an unreleased demo of Droid Bishop song that i’m working on.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take it easy on the drugs & alcohol.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would ask Freddie Mercury if we could make a song together.
Your stage name must be a reference to Bishop from Aliens. What made you use him for your name?
I had made a song many many years ago, titled ” Android Bishop” after the character from Aliens. I love that movie and so I just dropped the “A” for Droid and thought it would fit with my Sci Fi synth wave style.
Could you tell us a joke?
Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
…Go fuck ya self

Thank You Droid Bishop

A big thank you to Droid Bishop for taking the time to answer those questions, and so quickly to. Not bad for a human…

Please head over to Droid Bishop’s Bandcamp page and pick yourself up some of the greatest synthwave music there is.


Integrity by JME

Two years ago, If you’d have told me that one of my favourite ever albums would end up being a rap album, i’d have probably laughed. However that is just what Integrity by JME has become.

I should mention early on that I don’t really have any knowledge of rap music in general; only what I’ve picked up over my past 12 months or so of listening to it. But it really has grown on me, and JME’s latest album was a real gateway drug.

Some of the cleverest lyrics I’ve ever heard

The first thing that stood out to me about JME was his interesting ways of writing and forming rhymes. He has a real talent for writing with clever, and sometimes even humorous, lines. The album’s second track, “96 Fuckries” has one of my favourite verses in:

I roll with Aaron and Aaron
Frequently I get stopped by the gammon
Because my whip looks like it should be owned by Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond
Feds pull me like I’m a drug baron
Chatting bare shit, can’t understand ’em
In the stereo I got Krept & Konan
In the boot I got my creps and my Canon
I don’t own a BlackBerry
Ask for my pin and get slapped heavy
Call me a rude kid or a maniac but beats?
I ain’t sharing ’em like Teddy

from 96 Fuckries by JME

from 96 Fuckries by JME

Just to point out one of the cleverest parts of that song above, specifically in the last two lines: “Call me a rude kid or a maniac but beats? I ain’t sharing ’em like Teddy”. A mate at work explained to me: Teddy Sheringham is a football player (I aint “Sheringham” liked Teddy). Get it? Such clever word play and the album Integrity is littered with clever word play like that.

For example, in one of the album’s later songs “Don’t @ Me”, featured guest – and JME’s brother – Skepta raps the following:

Hi hater
Why you wanna diss man online then say “hi” later
I already said don’t waste my time
Now I’ve gotta tell ’em don’t waste my data
I don’t wanna write a diss track for an MC
Nah, I don’t wanna waste my paper

from Don’t @ Me

from Don’t @ Me

In fact every line on this album is expertly written and performed by both JME and the guests featured throughout.

Wide range of talented guest artists

“Integrity” also has featured a host of other great rappers from the same grime scene. Jammer; D Double E; Big Narstie; Skepta and Giggs to name a few.

Arguably the album’s biggest song was the one that Giggs features on – “Man Don’t Care“. I say featured, but I think the split is pretty much 50/50 between the two of them. I actually heard JME speak in an interview recently about how “Man Don’t Care” came to be finished. I find it interesting hearing about how great songs and albums came to be.

Skepta, as mentioned before, is actually featured on two of the album’s songs, “Don’t @ me”, as mentioned above, and “Amen”. And he kills it on both.

Big Narstie is always great to listen to, whether giving advice as Uncle Pain or killing it on Fire in the booth. On “Integrity” he features on the track “Break You Down” and he doesn’t disappoint. He gives it the gusto that any fan of Narstie’s would expect from him.

I can lip-sync Integrity

The closing song, which is also the title track, “Integrity” is my favourite song on the album. This song is as great an introduction as any to JME’s music – you’ll be introduced to his skill as a writer, rapper, producer and his ability to weave his sense of humour through his lyrics. The guy absolutely nails it on every song I hear him on and I’ve heard the song “Integrity” so many times now that I can almost lip-sync it perfectly.


Interview with Roslyn Moore

This week I am excited to share an interview I did with one of my favourite lady performers at the moment – Roslyn Moore. You should be listening to her music, specifically her awesome album, “Hazy (A Desert Opera)“. I wrote a review of the album recently and can’t recommend it enough.

Roslyn is part of a genre of music known as “Sadcore” and works often with another favourite of mine, “Scarlett Taylor” who I interviewed last month.

Without further ado let’s chat with Roslyn Moore.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I’m a bit out there. The more people I come in contact with, the more I realise how differently I seem to view the world than the average person.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
I don’t have a specific name to give. Everyone in music was inspiring to me. I always admired anyone who was able to express themselves openly through music. It’s not an easy thing to put yourself out there and be exposed in that way.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
Because I always felt so unsure of myself, I really admired people who were just the opposite. People who are unapologetically themselves. So many people live their lives based on what other people perceive of them.
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I can’t say there was one defining moment. I’ve always been drawn towards music and wanting to make music, but I was always kind of shy about singing and putting myself out there. I never felt I was good enough. As time went on I just stopped caring as much about how I may come across to other people, and started living for myself. I never really had much of a desire to actually get out there and perform, but now that I’ve been able to create music I feel connected with, I’m much more excited to get out there and bring it to life!
Where do you get your creative energy from?
I draw a lot from my personal experiences and how I view the world. I also get a lot of inspiration from films I like.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Performing at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood, CA and seeing my name on Hollywood Blvd. It was so cool.
What is your favourite Book?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What is your favourite Album?
This is such a hard one to answer! I can’t say I have one overall all time favorite album, but rather I go through different phases where I will binge listen to one album and it will be my favorite for that period of time and then I’ll move on from it.
What is your favourite Film?
Another hard one to answer! I love film nearly as much (if not as much) as I do music! So it’s hard to pick one favorite, but I really love Quentin Tarantino’s films. I’d say in general his are my favorite. But I have many favorites!
What is your favourite TV Show?
I don’t want a lot of TV and when I do it’s usually just on Netflix. I’ll watch as much as I can of one show and then move on to the next. I just finished Breaking Bad and I’m now finishing up Narcos. Really love both!
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
I can’t say I have a favorite soundtrack, but I do really love and enjoy music in film and television. It has such a large effect on the overall feel of the moment and adds so so much. I can’t wait to have my music accompany film or tv like that.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
Lately I’ve been binging on Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I’m loving it. It was the perfect soundtrack to my recent trip to California.
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Asking all the hard questions! It would probably depend on the day, but off the top of my head I would pick Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You are good enough to follow your dreams. Don’t put them off.

A Big Thank you

Thank you so much to Roslyn for taking the time to answer those questions. I always love to learn more about the person behind the music and Roslyn did not disappoint. At the time I contacted her she was actually mid-way into her tour, so I appreciate her fitting this interview into her schedule.

Take a listen to Roslyn’s music over on SoundCloud right this instant. That’s an order.


Everlasting Road by LOCK

About a month ago I shared an awesome song by LOCK called “Click”. I have been listening to this song quite a lot and had become a big LOCK fan based on it. So when I heard about their new E.P. “Everlasting Road“, I was well up for it.

The title song opens with a seductive, twangy, reverbed electric guitar. The vocals are just as seductive and leads into the explosive wall of sound that is the chorus. I can’t tell you how much this song rocks. The second song on this two-track E.P. is just as great, but with a slower tempo and calmer delivery.

Because I’d listened to “Click” over and over again, I kind of expected a similar sound with their E.P. When I heard it, I was taken back, and it has only got me more excited about their debut album. Each of their initial releases have had such an interesting diversity, and have been so expertly done, that for me it only points to a great debut album to come.

You can buy Everlasting Road on iTunes now.


Trying out Rise of the Tomb Raider on GNU\Linux

TLDR (Too long didn’t read) : It don’t work. 🙁

Linux gaming, for me at least, has always presented problems. The initial issue is the fact that the selection of games is very slim compared with what is available on Windows computers. I was however greatly pleased this month when Rocket League was finally made available, and the smoothness is just as smooth as on Windows. In fact the only reason I was still using Windows up until last week, was in order for me to play Rocket League. Pathetic, I know.

To get around the lack of the other games, I have attempted in the past to set up wine in order to install the Windows version of Steam. However with this I found that the quality of the graphics and FPS suffered greatly. So I just gave up a went back to using a Windows PC, which always made me feel dirty.

Before Playing

Tonight I thought I would follow a guide to installing PlayOnLinux word for word, and try out my favourite game at the moment, Rise of the Tomb Raider. PlayOnLinux is basically a front end interface over the top of Wine. Wine, I should probably mention, is a GNU/Linux program that allows Windows programs to be ran on a GNU/Linux system.

As I type this, I have just finished installing the Windows Steam using PlayOnLinux. I am now awaiting Rise of the Tomb Raider to finish downloading so I can try it out. I’m not expecting great results at all, but just to be able to play it would be good.

I have actually completed the story line of the game but love the world so much I want to finish all of the side quests and get 100% completion.

Try to play it

It finished installing, I clicked play, and it game me an error. It says “Failed to start game (Invalid Platform)”, which is apparently down to a Direct X 11 issue.

Oh well, I guess it was never meant to be.


Hazy (A Desert Opera) by Roslyn Moore

Like people who remember where they were when JFK was killed, or Princess Diana, I remember exactly where and when I first heard Hazy (A Desert Opera) by Roslyn Moore.

I was in that midway state of consciousness between awake and asleep, listening to this album. I was enjoying it as an overall experience as my dozing in and out hindered my ability to latch on to the songs. That was until one song in particular stood up and smacked me in the face. That song was “Drama Queen”. It is fucking awesome. In fact I tweeted that exact thought right out then and there.


A manifesto for love’s losers

I imagine that this album was very cathartic for Roslyn to make. I know nothing about her personally, but the music comes across so personally and emotionally that it just has to come from somewhere real.

When I listen to the songs here I don’t feel down at all. I mean, I can imagine people listening to this music in completely different frames of mind. Perhaps you need music to enhance your depression; perhaps to need comfort to remind you that you’re not alone. For me, I see the beauty that has come out of pain and made something that the world needs – real, honest, art.

Hazy is a brutal manifesto for loves losers. That person willing to take a bullet for passion. At its best, Hazy is ride off the cliff hand in hand music.
Hazy (A Desert Opera) described on SoundCloud

Hazy (A Desert Opera) described on SoundCloud

Each song on Hazy (A Desert Opera) is completely unique to me. No one song bleeds into another and every song has its own idiosyncrasy that makes it stand out from the next.

“Malibu” is as great an album introduction as they come. It’s hard to talk about sadcore without somehow thinking of Lana Del Rey, but I got that sort of vibe in this song. But I also got reminded slightly of the singer from a band I used to listen to called Jack Off Jill.

When presented with a new artist I often can’t help but draw initial comparisons to other artists I like. But if I grow to like that new artist the comparison soon goes away. Before the end of Malibu the comparison was gone – I was officially a fan of Roslyn Moore.

Roslyn Moore

The next song, “The Burbs”, is where I fell in love with the album. While writing this post, I focused in on the words of this song and found I could vividly picture the song’s story in my mind’s eye. I couldn’t help but see the scenes play out in a Twin Peaks-esque town. A picture perfect idealistic town with a dark underbelly of taboo hidden just beneath the surface.

Or am I just thinking about it too much? – I don’t think so. The great thing about music, and art in general, is that every receiver’s opinion is valid.

I love the lyrics to the next song, “XO”:

someone cool like you
who tastes like you and smells like you
and fucks like you
someone who talks like you
and kisses like you and smiles like you
I really really need someone cool like you
who moves like you and plays guitar like you
and looks like you
someone cool like you
someone cool like you

XO by Roslyn Moore

XO by Roslyn Moore

I couldn’t mention a couple of songs with mentioning “Drama Queen”. The flow of this song just blows me away every time I hear it. The transitions between the song’s sections are so greatly done. How her voice and the accompaniment come together perfectly in the following passage just grabs me:

every time I close my eyes
I can see you in my dreams
I can see you through the lines
telling me baby, you’re such a drama queen

Drama Queen by Roslyn Moore

Drama Queen by Roslyn Moore

Curtain Call

Like many of the emerging artists of today, Roslyn has her music on SoundCloud where you can listen to your heart’s content.

I urge you strongly to get on SoundCloud, turn the lights off, and enter into Roslyn’s highly-emotive world of Hazy (A Desert Opera).