June 3, 2015, Posted by Mr Book in Culture, Music

The Ultimate Glastonbury 2015 playlist

It’s only a few weeks now until the greatest show on Earth returns: the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts.

From 24th to 28th June, over 100,000 music fans will come together for a weekend of warm cider, incredible parties, surprisingly good food, camping, and a vast array of musical acts from all over the planet.

Headlined by Foo Fighters, Kanye West and The Who, the Glastonbury line-up this year also boasts the likes of Florence and the Machine, Belle & Sebastian, alt-J, Kate Tempest, Caribou, Frank Turner and even Lionel ruddy Richie. It’s going to be ace. And if you haven’t got a ticket, don’t worry – you’ll be able to watch all the main sets on the iPlayer (plus Mark Radcliffe and his gang trudging around the site in his wellies).

To get you in the zone, here’s our ultimate Glastonbury playlist, packed with tunes from artists appearing across the huge range of stages. Enjoy the festival!

April 23, 2015, Posted by Beau Merchant in Books, Music

IN THE ALL NIGHT CAFÉ – How Belle and Sebastian came to be

Now in their 21st year and with 9 studio albums under their kilts (the brilliant Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance was released earlier this year), this memoir by Belle and Sebastian founding member Stuart David explores the band’s formative year and the making of their much-loved debut, Tigermilk.

As a band mostly shrouded in mystery (the book’s title is a reference to the legend amongst fans that the band was formed one night in a café), it is fascinating and surprising to read such an honest and detailed account of how lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s ambition and vision led to a group of out-of-work musicians became the darlings of the melodic indie scene.

As well as the wider story of the band, this is also a very personal account of Stuart David’s time jumping from band to band with no crystal clear idea of what or where he wants to play. It’s not until he meets Murdoch at a sponsored music class for unemployed musicians that the beginnings of Belle and Sebastian begin to form. His relationship with Murdoch is warming, touching and you get a real sense of the respect David has for Murdoch as a songwriter and musician. The process and ideas behind the songs on Tigermilk give the tracks a new freshness and depth, and means new listens are rewarded.

A must-read for fans of Belle and Sebastian and anyone who had the dream of being in a band.

 in the all night cafe
In the All-Night Café by Stuart David is out now, published by Little, Brown

April 22, 2015, Posted by Tom in Culture, Music

Playlist: forgotten indie classics from the mid 2000s

Who doesn’t love a good indie dancefloor filler? We can’t get enough, especially when they’re from the mid 2000s, when we were at our peak.

It’s been all downhill since then for us, but we digress.

Here are a few indie classics from the noughties that you may have forgotten. Grab a can of Red Stripe, don an awful skinny tie and get involved…

The Walkmen – ‘The Rat’

Kubichek! – ‘Nightjoy’

The Bravery – ‘An Honest Mistake’

Forward Russia – ‘Twelve’

Boy Kill Boy – ‘Suzie’

The Rakes – ‘We Danced Together’

The Sunshine Underground – ‘Borders’

Hot Hot Heat – ‘Bandages’

This Et Al – ‘The Loveliest Alarm’

Napoleon IIIrd – ‘The Conformist Takes It All’

Duels – ‘The Slow Build’

And listen to our indie classics playlist on Spotify. Go on, you know you want to.

April 14, 2015, Posted by Tom in Culture, Music

Frank Turner’s top 5 independent UK music venues

With his tour memoir The Road Beneath My Feet out now, musician Frank Turner picks his 5 favourite independent music venues in the UK.

I can’t possibly put this in order as it’s just too tough, so I’ll give you four that are even and then give you my overall number one. Here are the four in joint 2nd place…

5. Joiners Arms, Southampton

I went to my very first ever gig there back in 1995, and it was to see a band called Snug who Ed Harcout played bass for. I would have been about thirteen years old and it just blew my mind. My old band Million Dead played our last ever gig there before we went our separate ways and I started performing solo, so it’s always been quite a significant venue for me.

4. King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow

It’s just punk as f*ck and I love it. I’ve been to loads of great gigs there and played some of my own favourite shows there as the crowd is always just awesome. Glasgow crowds – you just can’t argue with them! So passionate.

3. The Monarch, Camden

And I’m not just picking it because my flatmate runs it! They put on loads of great gigs there, with a proper mix of genres and styles. I love it.

2. Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

It’s a great indie venue, which is why I chose to launch Love Ire & Song there in 2008. Nath that runs it is one of the good guys on the live music scene, and it’s a cool place to hang out, play a show, play some darts, and drinks pints of ale with the locals.

And my undisputed number one…

1. Rock City, Nottingham

The people who run it are so cool. Punk as f*ck. They really look after the bands and have really long memories – in a good way. When you arrive for a show they put out photos of all the previous times you’ve played. Little touches like that make it such a great place to play. Long may it reign.

Rescue Rooms, the smaller venue next door is also really good too, although I did once get food poisoning on stage there. So not quite as happy memories…

FRANK-3dThe Road Beneath My Feet is out now in hardback and ebook

March 27, 2015, Posted by Tom in Culture, Music

Gallery: Frank Turner live at Cecil Sharp House

Last night we were lucky enough to join Frank Turner at his London gig to mark the publication of his new tour memoir, The Road Beneath My Feet.

Featuring a converation with esteemed music journalist Ian Winwood, questions from the audience and an amazing acoustic set, it was a truly special night.

Here are a few photos from the evening…

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The Road Beneath My Feet is out now in hardback and ebook

March 26, 2015, Posted by Tom in Culture, Music

Frank Turner’s top cultural picks

With his tour memoir The Road Beneath My Feet out this week, folk/punk hero Frank Turner picks some of his all-time cultural highlights…

Book: Cultural Amnesia by Clive James. I felt like I’d been awoken after reading it. I always thought I was quite switched on, politically and culturally, but it turns out I’d been dozing on the job. It showed me that I wasn’t as engaged as I thought I was, and made me change my way of thinking.

Writer: Probably Paul Theroux, as his writing makes me feel like I can barely speak English…

Artist: Zdzisław Beksiński. He was a Polish painter and photographer who created these nightmare visions. He’d lived through WWII in Warsaw and so had seen the worst in humanity, and this was reflected in his work. He was actually murdered by his friend and caretaker’s drug addict son over just £50, as he was after money for a hit. A really tragic story. He’s the only artist whose work I have bought prints of.

Film: Beasts of the Southern Wild, because it makes me cry at the end. The lead girl in it was about 8 or 9 when they filmed it and I think she was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, deservedly so. An incredible performance.

Food: If I was eating before a gig, I’d say sushi. It leaves you feeling clean and fresh, and not too full, which is great for when you’re about to run around on stage for a couple of hours. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a nice steak and a bottle of red, but that’s not ideal when you’re about to perform.

Drink: Jameson Irish Whiskey, straight. No ice, no mixer. On stage these days though I usually just drink water. I used to be on the booze but the shows are so physical that you’d just die if you were hitting the bottle too hard. Imagine running on a treadmill and someone giving you shots – that kind of thing.

Place or holiday destination: Walking the South Downs Way. It’s about 100 miles and goes through some of the most beautiful places in England, including the village I grew up in. I walked it immediately after the whole Olympics thing [Frank performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony], and it was the perfect way to get away from it all.

Band: The Weakerthans. Why they aren’t the biggest band in the world is a mystery to me. Their album Reconstruction Site is a great starting point – it’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do with recorded music, but better.

The Road Beneath My Feet is available in hardback and ebook from March 26th 2015


March 16, 2015, Posted by Tom in Culture, Live reviews, Music

Live review – Idlewild at the Roundhouse

They’ve been away for a while, but it’s bloody good to have Idlewild back.

It’s Friday night in Camden, and a couple of thousand punters have descended on the Roundhouse to see one of the most underrated British bands of the last 20 years. After the release of their storming seventh album, Everything Ever Written (their first in five years), Idlewild are back in a big way.

Their comeback UK tour has been a resounding success, and the Roundhouse seems a suitably glorious venue to draw this current string of dates to a close.

Ambling on stage just after 9pm, they head straight into a new song, the gentle and rather sweet ‘Nothing I Can Do About It’. If that gives the impression that this is going to be a quiet, brooding evening, then the next few songs quickly smash away those fears.

The anthemic classic, ‘You Held the World in Your Arms’, and the crunching rock of new album opener ‘Collect Yourself’ follow straight after, and from then on in the band have the audience lapping everything up. Basically, people go mental.


There’s crowdsurfing (even during the supposedly more chilled ‘Live in a Hiding Place’), a continued chorus refrain from the audience following ‘Love Steals Us From Loneliness’, and the fervour that greets ‘Roseability’ is nothing short of heartwarming. Whilst frontman Roddy Woomble has calmed down a little over the years, he’s still an engaging and charismatic frontman, and often disappears off to the side of the stage to let his bandmates take the limelight. Indeed, the instrumental jam at the end of ‘(Use It) If You Can Use It’, during which guitarist Rod Jones takes centre stage, is a personal highlight.


At the end of the main set it’s hard to see how they can top all that. But then they do. A superb 4-song encore that concludes with the fuzzy punk of ‘A Modern Way of Letting Go’ and the quintessential Idlewild tune, ‘In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction’ (complete with spoken word sample from legendary poet Edwin Morgan), draws things so a thrilling conclusion, and the smiles on the faces of the band as they leave the stage suggest it’s been just as enjoyable for them as it was for us.

And then that’s it. On a night like this it’s really difficult to understand why Idlewild have never been one of the biggest bands on the planet, but perhaps that’s part of what makes them so special to their sizable base of hardcore fans.

They came, saw and conquered, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another five years to see Idlewild headline shows like this again.

You can catch Idlewild later this month, as they’re supporting Frank Turner as he plays the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust on Sunday 29th March. Get your tickets here.

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Idlewild played:

Nothing I Can Do About It
You Held the World in Your Arms
Collect Yourself
Little Discourage
Make Another World
Every Little Means Trust
Live in a Hiding Place
Come on Ghost
Quiet Crown
A Film for the Future
So Many Things To Decide
Love Steals Us From Loneliness
(Use It) If You Can Use It
American English
El Capitan


Too Long Awake
I Understand It
A Modern Way of Letting Go
In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction

March 11, 2015, Posted by Tom in Culture, Music

7 top tunes from The Cribs

Wakefield’s finest export The Cribs are back with a new album, For All My Sisters, out on March 23rd. We’re huge fans of the Jarman brothers so can’t wait to hear it, especially as the tunes we’ve heard so far (so as ‘Burning For No One’) have been bloody great.

While we wait for the new album to arrive in record shops, here are a few reminders of why The Cribs are always essential listening.

7 top tunes from The Cribs

‘Come On, Be A No-One’: One of the highlights from their previous LP, 2012’s In the Belly of the Brazen Bull

‘Our Bovine Public’: Some say that their third album, the Alex Kapranos-produced Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, is quite poppy, but that certainly ain’t the case with the storming opening track

‘We Share The Same Skies’: Built around a classic Johnny Marr riff, this is one of our favourite tunes from his time with the band

‘Mirror Kissers’: Classic Cribs, from their brilliant second album The New Fellas

‘Hey Scenesters!’: One of their first ‘hits’, this is a middle finger to all scenesters out there. Still glorious, still depressingly relevant.

‘Be Safe’: Featuring Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. Just listen to it. And then remember that it’s even better live.

‘You Were Always The One’: We’re ending by going right back to the start, with this tune from their 2004 self-titled debut

 The Cribs’ new album, For All My Sisters, is released on March 23rd. Pre-order bundles are available here, so get involved