The Girls

A book I see carried everywhere in New York is Emma Cline’s much-hyped debut ‘The Girls’. It has the perfect pop culture moment to pull upon, the infamous Manson Murders, albeit disguised. The problem on the face it, is that this is such a well-known story that giving a narrative twist or surprise to the …

Hell or High Water

  The tone of ‘Hell or High Water’ is set from the very first shot by a piece of graffiti which states that unlike banks, there’s no bailout for homeowners in these parts. This theme is carried throughout the whole piece. We see billboards with the single word question ‘Debt?’, waitresses struggling to bring up …

String Theory

One of the biggest divides in life apart from the divide between the ugly and the beautiful (a chasm far greater than mere racial difference) is the divide between the artist and the sportsman Artists are in general what we at school would have called total ‘spods’. The kind that would always carry a sick …

82 portraits

David Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London ’82 portraits and 1 still life’ brings out another side of the artist. Having dedicated the last few years to landscapes of his birthplace Yorkshire, he now turns his attention back to California, creating portraits of various friends who visited his studio. With just …

UN Rap Wars

The Art of the music video is alive and well, if this DJ Shadow effort is anything to go by. The sight of old white men rapping is worth watching for first 90 seconds for..

Public, Private, Secret

The new ICP Exhibition location in the Bowery is host to a fascinating exhibition about the future of image making in the 21st century, ‘Public, Private, Secret’. As it says on the ICP site ‘The exhibition creates a physical experience through which to examine photography’s role in breaking and resetting the boundaries of social and …

Memoirs of the Armenians

Every other month I come across a great photographer who had previously been unknown to me. The latest is Antoine Agoudjian. He was was born in Saint-Maur, France,  to Armenian parents. Following an earthquake in Armenia in 1988, he began an ongoing photography project about the country of his roots.    

Bryan Ferry Live

On my bucket list, along with visit New Zealand, sleep with Monica Bellucci and pet a tiger, was see Bryan Ferry in concert. A trifling bucket list item but one, nevertheless that had very little chance of being ticked off Ferry being 70 and unlikely to put another album that would require a tour of …

They Wanna be Adored

A band that sings ‘I am the resurrection and I am the light’ is probably not lacking in confidence. Their most likely the sort of band who, having not released an album for 20 years, would decide one of the best places for them to gig would be Madison Square Gardens. All secure in the …

Strangers

The latest release from Marissa Nadler is a more expansive accessible album than her previous release ‘July’. There’s still the same distinctive Julee Cruise-ish vocal but now we hear a little more country twang and rock-ish overtone in the arrangements. A sort of ghostly gothic Americana, that at points kind of reminds me of a …

Lyon at the Whitney

  Danny Lyon is Magnum photojournalist mainly known for his images of Chicago bike gang ‘The Outlaws’, whom he rode with and befriended. Yet as the current retrospective of his work at the Whitney proves, there is much, much more to him than that. I’d been aware of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement …

Modern Country

It’s always exciting to discover a new artist who up to this point has been utterly unknown to you. I know now that William Tyler is not exactly new and has released several albums before this but this is the first one that’s come to my attention and it’s beauty. Spare instrumental country that is …

The Day the Other Music Died

  Time and tide waits for no one apparently. And this week it will wash away a small part of my New York experience. Other Music is closing. This small music store off-Broadway, used to be a place to get both the latest hip indie band album and that oddity that you couldn’t quite believe …

Choose Heroin, Choose Life.

The message of the Chet Baker biopic ‘Born to be Blue’ is not perhaps as romantic as his music. It amounts to this. When given the choice between the devoted love of a good woman and a trumpet and a boatload of heroin, go for the latter. This perhaps surprising conclusion is at the very …

Miles Ahead

How to tell the story of Miles Davis, one of the world’s most prolific improvisational musicians? It’s certainly not an easy one to solve. Do you focus on his creation of Kind of Blue, a widely acknowledged musical masterpiece? Or perhaps his creation of Bitches Brew, a jazz-rock odyssey created to show he could put …

Eyes Wide Open

Skater punk photographer Glen Locket alias ‘Spot’, recently released a book of images ‘The Sound of Two Eyes Opening’. It depicts southern Californian youth culture between 1969 and 1982 in all it’s sexiness.

Peep Show

  Having peered through windows of New York, Gail Albert Halaban turns his peepers to the apartments of Paris with much the same result. As previously there is the same illicit feeling of haven stolen someone’s privacy and the same wonderfully composed images depicting the lives of our unknown neighbors. In a way it’s street …

Real Blues

Back when it was fashionable in the late 90’s early noughties, Saint Germain produced a blues sampling house album ‘Tourist’ that found it’s way into many a CD player and ITunes library. Saint Germain aka Ludovic Navarre then disappeared completely from sight not long after that but with the revival of interest in house through …

Invite the Light (and the Funk)

  Dam Funk has perhaps the most descriptive name in music because there is no doubt that funk is what he does. A massive endless amount of funk. So much funk in fact that funk-sampling fan Snoop Dogg nee Snoop Lion, collaborated with him on an album. Now he is back with a vast 18-track …

Barbarian Days

I like to think I’m pretty adventurous. For a pussy. I lived on several continents and travelled to many countries but William Finnegan has me beat. His book ‘Barbarian Days’ chronicles a surfing life that saw him travel the world in search of the finest breaks, from his native Southern California to Hawaii, where he …

Sicario

The movie ‘Sicario’ hits you like an assassin’s bullet, right between the eyes with its powerful betrayal of the Mexican drug cartels and the men and women who try to bring them to justice. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent recruited by a mysterious government official played by Josh Brolin, to take down a Mexican …

Mistress America

Having a director talk about his film immediately after it’s been shown should be mandatory in my view. Yes, it maybe hard to be in hundreds of places at once but they can at least try. I was pleased to see that Noah Baumbach at least had listened to my needs and had turned up …

Amazonas

Mads Nissen is a Danish documentary photographer who has won many prestigious prizes like World Press Photo of the Year amongst others. Of his work, perhaps my favorite series are those captured in the book Amazonas published in 2013.

Low Life, High Roller.

Having spent a few years of my life living in Hong Kong and having taken the hydrofoil to the gambling kingdom of Macau on a couple of occasions the book ‘The Ballad of a small time player’ has particular resonance for me. Thankfully I never had a gambling addiction like the one suffered by Lord …

Going Solo

Nils Frahm is a modern classical composer who seems to be everywhere I look. At least two complications I have brought recently have featured this piano player’s delicate and haunting compositions, as well as a soundtrack to the film ‘Victoria’ and an album released early this year as a free download called ‘Solo’. ‘Solo’ is …

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

As I get older I get harder to please particularly when it comes to literary fiction. So it was pleasant surprise to come across Vendela Vida’s funny and touching ‘The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty’ Set in modern day Morocco it involves the hapless adventures of a mixed-up young woman who meets disaster after disaster by …

Ex-Machina

It’s been a while since I was truly excited and hooked by a film. Ex-Machina ended that for me. Even though I only watched it on a tiny screen on the back of a plane seat its obvious quality shone through. Devised and directed by Alex Garland the writer of the novel ‘The Beach’ and …

Looking for Eden

Back in the day I was something of a club kid. A job in the London music industry combined with easy access to guest lists and drugs made it a no-brainer (though having no brain was a serious option if you ingested the amount of ecstasy that was available to you) I have mixed feelings …

Slumming Angels.

During my short-lived time in southern California I had plenty of time for reading being virtually friendless and often poverty stricken. Naturally I turned my attention to Chandler and gained a deep appreciation for him. Which led naturally to the discovery of Ross MacDonald. Considered by many to be the successor to Chandler’s crown, he …

Shot in New York

What better way to tour New York then to tour in the footsteps of its most iconic photographer? Arthur Felig, better known as Weegee, roamed the new York streets capturing the aftermath of mob hits and car crashes, murders and general mayhem. Now ‘Weegee’s Guide to New York’ shows you exactly where many of his …

Max Richter

The reinvention of classic music has often been an embarrassing cultural void. Whether it was Emerson Lake and Palmer reimagining Mussorgsky’s Pictures in an Exhibition or Sky repurposing Bach. So the thought of someone recreating Vivaldi’s Four Season’s didn’t exactly fill my heart with joy. Until I heard it. What we get it turns out …

Severson Surf

Eighty year old John Severson, one of the founding fathers of modern surf culture, has a book out unimaginatively but appropriately called ‘John Severson’s Surf’. This is a man that introduced surf culture to none other than the surfin’ safari Beach Boys( who he accuses of appropriating surf culture) That’s how deep into the culture …

The Last Book

Tom Wolfe had a chapter in his classic ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ called ‘The Last of the Great Smokers’ featuring a man with a habit soon to be in serious retreat. Dutch photographer Reinier Gerritsen has captured another possibly vanishing habit – reading a paper book. He’s captured people on the subway reading, faces …

Kane Hulse

The minimalist shots of Napoli and Havana courtesy of Kane Hulse, concentrate on the architectural shapes and pastel colors that shape the two crumbling but vibrant cities. Like Eggleston, he finds interest and beauty in the apparently mundane and has the uncanny ability to make you see the familiar through new eyes.Like Richard Misrach he …

Zambians Rock

Amanaz is a name that you may not have come across before. Well imagine if you will Black Sabbath but played with the nimble dexterity and great rhythmic sense that you associate with the African subcontinent. You have imagined the world of Amanaz, a group that was a central part of the hitherto unknown to …

Oh to be a carefree bachelor in Paris. The women, the Gauloises and the charm of every arondissement you have the good fortune to stroll through. Monsieur Jean is perhaps the most famous cartoon version of such a beast. A writer beset by a fearsome landlady and a group of deeply troubled friends who manages …

Antonio Sanchez. The Unexpected Virtue of Jazz

There have been a series of films over the last couple of years that have had their soundtracks performed live by their composers in New York, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ and ‘There Will be Blood’ to name but two. Birdman is the latest to be given the honor with Anthony Sanchez doing the honors …

Skylight

The theatre, two words that can strike terror into the hearts of many right-thinking people. Werner Herzog the famous German film director doesn’t like it. All that ‘ridiculously shouting’’ has made him swear off the art from for life. Though that hasn’t stopped him producing operas, which surely must be a definition of the phrase …

Physical Graffiti

Who hasn’t got the Led out at some point in their lives? Who hasn’t played air guitar to Trampled Underfoot or sang fiercely into a hairbrush for Kashmir? They may not admit it but Led Zeppelin like acne, are a phase through we all must go. The reissuing of one of their classic albums ‘Physical …

Outline

Rachel Cusk has written a wonderfully subtle and beautifully controlled book that is among the best things I’ve read recently. ‘Outline’ is a novel in ten conversation narrated by a woman so apparently anonymous that we only learn her name is Faye, 200 plus pages into a book which is only 249 pages long. Yet …

Beatles vs The Stones

Just when I thought I’d tapped out my Beatles obsession comes a new book to get me reading about the Fab Four once more John McMillian finds a new angle on the subject through the competition between the loveable mop tops and the big bad Rolling Stones. Up to this point I’d always thought of …

Sketches of Spain

Jazz and flamenco? Do they really go together? On the face of it the idea seems vaguely preposterous and the results potentially heinous. But in reality it turns out they’re made for each other. Well certainly if the album ‘Jazz Flamenco’ is anything to go by. Spanish Jazzman Pedro Iturralde is behind the double album, …

Le Pas du Chat Noir

ECM is a label responsible for some of Europe’s finest jazz recordings. Often more reflective and moody than barnstorming, it’s a place I’ve often checked for more mellow introspective sounds. One of my recent discoveries is the Tunisian Oud player Anouar Brahem. His album ‘Le pas du chat noir’ is one of the more haunting …

Sun Slipping Down

For the last forty years as visitor, social worker and reporter Eugene Richards has been coming to the Arkansas Delta. The result of this deep relationship is his soulful book ‘A Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down’. It’s a timely reminder in these post Ferguson times of how the legacy of racism and slavery …

Lou Reed Animated

Lou Reed was with out doubt one of the more literate rock stars who ever lived. From tracks like ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ to albums like ‘Magic n Loss’ he was constantly producing music and lyrics of depth and compassion. PBS produced this fun animation to accompany one of his interviews in which he lays into …

Gregory Porter at Town Hall, NYC

It’s a long time since I enjoyed a concert as thoroughly as I enjoyed Gregory Porter at Town Hall. His charisma is undeniable and his voice is unsurpassable. He even found time in between blowing the roof off with the power of his voice to allow a fan to propose to his girlfriend. Something neither …

Players Wanted

Having worked my way through a fair few of the Oscar Nominated films I have no hesitation in declaring Whiplash my favorite so far. It’s a film that is resolutely unfashionable in a number of regards but for that very reason seems vital and exactly what we need right now. The protagonist Andrew, played brilliantly …

Bedrooms of the Fallen

How do you show the horrors of war without showing the horrors of war? Ashley Gilbertson has come up with a poignant way. His book ‘Bedrooms of the Fallen’ depicts the bedrooms of soldiers killed in action in Iraq over the last 10 years. The artifacts that litter many of these rooms hint at the …

All-American: Born Ready

‘Born Ready’ is the latest in the All American series, produced by Bruce Weber and his partner Nan Bush that attempts to show contemporary America. The volume starts with a poem from Native American writer Sherman Alexie. According to Weber while the poem ‘looks to the future, it reflects living in the past’ which is …

Voodoo

Originating in Western Africa, Voodoo spread with the slave trade to the Caribbean and later New Orleans where it was fused with Christianity to varying degrees. Gael Turine has attempted to capture the followers of the religion when he travelled to Benin, Haiti and the USA in his book ‘Voodoo’ with spectacular results. The pictures …

Daydreaming

Radiohead are never entirely what they seem. Beneath the surface are hidden depths that have been uncovered here by Rishi Kaneria. He has analyzed Paul Thomas Anderson’s video for the single ‘Daydreaming’ from their most recent album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ and come with the following hypothesis

Old Music. New Passion

It’s only natural to what to be hip. Long past the age when it’s deemed appropriate modern day man longs to prove that he is down with Skepta or Phonte even if he’s not entirely sure what word you would use to describe your enthusiasm and worries that ‘down’ is almost certainly not it. This …

Fever Dream

It’s time to grow up and put away childish things. It’s time to put on Fever Dream by Ben Watt an album of laid back singer songwriter charm that is probably a little too low key to ever be truly popular. For anyone who doesn’t know Ben Watt was the songwriter and musician with the …