What it feels like to be alive in the UK right now

Johnny Marr and Maxine Peak have collaborated on a music & spoken word project, around the theme of ‘What it feels like to be alive in the UK right now’.

The first release is a sobering start, featuring Molly Windsor who I last saw in the BBC’s Three Girls.  The words are taken from a diary kept by Joe Gallagher who spent time on the streets in Edinburgh.

The music is excellent, and would easily standalone without the spoken word, but it is the narrative that provides a dose of realism and edge to the track. I’m looking forward to more releases from this project in 2018.

For further information, there is a great interview over on the Guardian site. 

Watch The Priest now:

Top 10 Movies of 2017

As seems to be a tradition on every blog in the world, my top 10 movies of 2017 are below – along with a few memories of them.

I didn’t get to the cinema as often as I would have liked this year, but it was still a good year for film enjoyment.

Here’s my top 10 – links are to IMDB for more info:

  • Baby Driver – I loved the amazing syncopated action and dialogue, and the high octane car chases. I know it’s not cool to like Kevin Spacey anymore, but I cannot take away from the fact this film was a lot of fun.
  • Manchester by the Sea – Great script, sad story and some incredible acting made this a highlight for me.  I can play the pivotal scene back in my head and still find it catches my breath.  (I know this was a 2016 film, but I didn’t see it until early this year)
  • Dunkirk – Visually interesting and with an awe-inspiring soundtrack and sound design. I was impressed with the way that Christopher Nolan told the three stories.
  • Logan – Not the last of this franchise, but certainly the most human of the mutant stories.  Incredible debut by Dafne Keen.
  • Return to Montauk – Caught this gentle story on a place, excellent acting and a great script.
  • Victoria and Abdul – Brilliantly funny story about a Queen forming an unusual friendship with an Indian clerk.
  • Atomic Blonde – High action, high style cold war action movie with some amazing stunts and effects.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes – much, much better than I expected. A great end to a trilogy of modern ‘apes’ movies.  The motion capture stuff still impresses me.
  • Wonder Woman – stupid, funny romp from one of the best superheroes.
  • Ghost in the Shell – Perfect soldier, cyber-enhanced, future dystopian world… what’s not to love?

 

Top 10 Albums 2017

It’s that time of year again where I review my top 10 albums of the year, and try and come up with a top 10.

This year has been rich with music for me, according to Spotify I have listened to over 50,000 minutes of music and 2700 artists – and some of my old favourites have made their way into the top 5. The data looks like this:

My top ten albums is a more subjective list, and I’ve tried to put them in some sort of order.

  1. Meursault / I will kill again – They describe themselves as ‘epic lo-fi’, I’ll say that this was one of the interesting listens I had in 2017.  At times challenging and funny the stand out track for me was Klopfgeist.  I saw them live in London in July, and I’m happy to report that the live experience is as good as the recorded.
  2. Tricky / Ununiform – it’s always an event when Tricky releases something new, and this was no exception.  With the usual dark and layered vocals, interesting collaborations and multicultural references, ununiform stands amongst his best. Stand out track – Bangboogie with the Kazakh rapper, Scriptonite.
  3. Arcade Fire / Everything Now – I really wasn’t sure at first, but this soon fell into regular rotation.  Billed as their ‘disco’ album, it has some standout tunes. Especially ‘Put your Money on Me’, with its pure pop Abba-esque climax
  4. Cigarettes after Sex / Cigarettes after Sex – From El Paso, Texas this four-piece crept onto my radar gently in the summer, on the strength of a couple of singles, I booked tickets to see them live at the Roundhouse in November. I’ve seen this reviewed as a ‘one-note album’, but what a note! Stand out track – sunsetz
  5. Baxter Dury / Prince of Tears – 5th album from the son of Ian Dury, this is a fantastic listen. Lo-fi hop-hop beats and a deadpan, funny, almost spoken delivery.  Standout track – Miami (for the brutal precis of the city)
  6. Four Tet / New Energy – ambient, world-wise electronica from the laptop and circuits of Kieran Hebden. The stand out track 2017 seeped into my consciousness and demanded exploration of the remaining tracks.
  7. Loyle Carner / Yesterdays Gone – I truly hope this is the sound of future London, woke rap with eloquence and sensitivity.  Stand out track – Sun of Jean (featuring Mum) or The Isle of Arran.
  8. Lorde / Melodrama – after a four-year wait, the second album from Lorde was worth the wait, from the precision pop of Green Light to the more epic Liability.
  9. The XX / I see you – ‘That’ sound doesn’t get old, danceable and relaxing at the same time. Stand out track – A violent noise (especially the Four Tet remix)
  10. Mura Masa / Mura Masa – the Sound of summer for me, ephemeral & poppy. Like an urban calypso.  Loved it.  Stand out track – Love$ick featuring A$AP Rocky.

Finally, some honourable mentions:

  • Marlon Williams / Marlon Williams – released in 2015, but only making my radar this year.
  • SZA / CTRL – late entry, but an amazing sound.
  • Kendrick Lamar /Damn – golden boy, unique talent.

Migrating to Evernote #1

For many years I had been a OneNote devotee, with a work culture that encouraged using the free software, there really wasn’t an alternative for an electronic note-taking solution.

However, some recent problems with synchronisation and organisation meant I wanted to find another solution.  I’ve recently made the move to Evernote, and I thought I’d capture some tips for anyone planning the same move.

Why Evernote?

I mainly use paper for note taking, removing the barrier between me and anyone I am meeting with and allowing me some creativity.  I enjoy the act of writing something down, I use Moleskine books and disposable fountain pens.

However, over the years I have discovered that having a second brain is also really useful, so I have become dependent on electronic notes as a kind of wiki to back up my brain.

I spent a lot of time evaluating my needs and my ecosystem and came to the conclusion that Evernote had the best solution for me, combined with reliable syncing across PC and IOS devices, and a layout and workflow that seemed to fit my way of thinking.

Moving from OneNote to Evernote

Once I had committed, this was actually the easiest step. Evernote has the ability to Import from OneNote books – open your Evernote client and select FILE, IMPORT, MICROSOFT ONENOTE:

The wizard will hand hold you through the process.

Using that function I was quickly able to pull in my multiple Notebooks from OneNote.  The whole process took less and ten minutes, leaving me with all of my OneNote items listed in a single notebook, but with the taxonomy I had built in OneNote applied as Evernote tags.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how I have defined my organisation in Evernote, and how I use notebooks and tags.  If you want to try Evernote for yourself – please use this link.

Brain Diet – November 2017

Inspired by Kottke – here’s a snapshot of the media that is currently feeding me:

  • Watch: Tin Star (Sky Atlantic) – Binge watched this great series about a British cop played excellently by Tim Roth, who moves with his family to Canada for a quiet life. When tragedy strikes, his life takes an all too familiar path.
  • Listen: Charlotte Gainsbourg / Rest (Spotify) – Fantastically lush electronica to support some great songwriting and vocal performances. Beautiful album.
  • Read : Satya Nadella / Hit Refresh (Amazon) – Easy reading from the CEO of Microsoft, part biography, part business book, part manifesto on the future of technology.
  • Watch: Mindhunter (Netflix) – Another binge watch, set in the early 70’s as the FBI begin research into serial killers.  Features some great scenes as the team interview some of the most notorious names from the American crime psyche.
  • Listen: Baxter Dury / Prince of Tears (Spotify) – Louche beats, laid back spoken vocals and a guest appearance from Justin Williamson (Sleaford Mods) make this a must listen album for the end of 2017.
  • Read: Working Out Loud / John Stepper (Amazon) – Excellent book with some easy to read, practical advice on building better relationships that can benefit your career or any other area of life.  Supported by an interesting blog here.
  • Watch: The Deuce (Sky Atlantic) – Set around Time Square / 42nd Street in New York (known locally as The Deuce), this is a great series focusing on the prostitutes and pimps that inhabit the area in the early seventies.  Starring James Franco in two roles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a prostitute turned pornographer.

Nemawashi

I came across the beautiful Japanese concept of ‘nemawashi’ yesterday, which is an informal process of laying foundations for a proposed change or project.  I guess we would call it ‘socialising’, or consider it gathering feedback to reduce the friction of the proposal.

The word ‘nemawashi’ comes from gardening and literally translates as ‘going around the roots’. A gardener would gently dig around the roots of a tree over an extended period of time to prepare the tree for a move.

Moving a tree is hard. Take your time.

Sometimes, landing an idea or a change is difficult and involves laying groundwork in a deliberate way so as not to introduce shock into a process.

Nemawashi.  Playing the long game.