Last week was a bumper issue; at 1600 words it was double the length of the first newsletter I sent out. When combined with a completely new playlist, last week was quite extra, and hardly sustainable under the best of circumstances. Illness and sleep deprivation do not count as “the best of circumstances”, under any circumstances. Look, I’m really tired and I just like saying the word circumstances, and hoping it’ll distract you from the lumpy nature of this week’s newsletter.
Sadly Royal Blood released their new album Typhoons just a little too late for the last deadline. There’s nothing revolutionary to this new album, but if you like what they’ve done so far, you’ll like this album too. If you don’t know Royal Blood at all, then what you need is: Daddy, Who Are Royal Blood?
What about something gentler? Even meditative? Well, if you have the Calm app, London Grammar have partnered with them to create meditative remixes of songs from Californian Soil to help you sleep, relax and unwind. I’m sure in time the tracks will find their way onto Spotify, but for now they’re exclusive to Calm.
It’s the Brit Awards next week, where I hope Celeste wins Breakthrough Artist, but that’s because I saw her perform in a small venue in 2019 (which still feels like last year) and I know how hard she and her team have been working. However, I have no success with predicting awards winners, so I’ll just stick to what I know:
Sounds From The Engine Room 3 is ready for your listening pleasure. It contains at least four references to blood in amongst the nine tracks and if I’d realised that sooner, I’d have made sure every track carried on the theme and not even told you. I’m still not sure how or why I’ve settled on nine track playlists, but I’m sure I’ll think of something and then retcon in some reasoning.
In music industry news, it’s all change at the Grammy’s. The Recording Academy that organises them have announced that nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards will be selected by all of its more than 11,000 voting members, instead of by secret committees of 15-30 industry experts. I honestly have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I’m not sure that secret cabals of all that is right and proper are a good idea, and lays them open to accusations of bias and fixing. On the other hand, I’m not hugely convinced on the subject of the “wisdom of the crowds”, but we shall see.
Line of Duty season six has ended. I’d have said “concluded” but I’m not sure that’s really accurate. Some stuff got wrapped up, some stuff didn’t. While some threads remain dangling, other secrets were revealed and found to be… boring? In a series that brought us deaths and gunfights and car chases, we were once again left on the wrong side of the realism/drama divide, where the only conspiracy is to cover up institutional incompetence. It’s certainly a statement, a treatise on the banality of so-called organised crime. But to me, when they concluded that “AC-12 […] have never been weaker”, I couldn’t help but agree.
So, I’m on the look-out for something new to watch. In the meantime though, I shall be more than satisfied by the fact that The Hour is streaming on Amazon Prime. It’s a shame it never got a third season; instead they gave the budget to some show called Peaky Blinders, and it’s not like that was ever going to go anywhere…
Next month I’ll have no such issue, as Netflix will be showing Sweet Tooth. This adaptation of the Vertigo comic has been dubbed as “Mad Max meets Bambi”, and if that sounds like something you’re interested in, there’s a trailer.
This week I’ve been re-reading Priscilla Page‘s wonderful article about Baby Driver, Once Upon A Pair Of Wheels: The Noir Fairytale Of BABY DRIVER. Priscilla is one of my favourite writers on the subject of film, and her passion is only doubled when the theme involves cars and music.
We lost Umberto Eco the same fateful year we lost David Bowie, and I often go back and read his articles, books and interviews. This week it was this interview with the Guardian, where he said: “People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged”. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s a delightful read and will always take you on an intellectual journey with him.
And while I don’t have an In My Eyes section this week, I do recommend Eco’s Faith In Fakes, a collection of his essays from the 60s to the 80s.
I’ve been too ill or too tired to cook, never mind mix up a cocktail this week. Instead, I will recommend another cook and her series of columns. Felicity Cloake‘s How To Cook The Perfect… column is often less about the final recipe, as it is about the preamble. She takes dozens of established recipes for a dish, by a multitude of writers and compares and contrasts each element, before ending up with a final combination. Her recipes are often the foundation of my own cooking, where I’ll take her recipe and will allow myself to be inspired by the antecedents she mentions. And while I still don’t have an In My Eyes section this week, I recommend her Perfect series of books.
As hospitality venues continue to open up, gigs start to actually be in danger of happening, and people start gradually returning to offices, there’s a phrase I hear on a daily basis: “I can’t wait for things to get back to normal”.
I know what they mean, I really do. I too yearn for freedoms that I just about recall from 2019. But was “normal” really that normal? The restrictions cut incidences of flu by 95%. UK air pollution fell to its lowest levels on record. We briefly took great strides towards solving homelessness. Commuting workers regained some element of work/life balance. For a while we showed our gratitude and respect for key workers.
I’m not ignorant of the horrors of the last year, which are manifold and plentiful. But that doesn’t mean the pendulum needs to swing all the way back. Clearly there were problems that were apparently not beyond the wit of man to solve; they were just difficult. They just required the will to make a change. We have seen what that will to change can do, and I’d like that to be part of a new normal.
And with that, this sleep-deprived writer is signing off. I’m done, I have no more words in me. For this week anyway; the well is nowhere near dry.
Enjoy your weekends, my good people. Refill your tanks, and begin the new week afresh.