Monday, December 22, 2008

The 2008 Unwritten Word Literature List

For the first time I engrossed myself in Literature of both the fiction and the non fiction in 2008. I wasn't necessary a cautious or slow reader, it was just finding the time, which always seemed to tick away so quickly. However since finishing University I have started to read and started to learn, the following list includes several books that were published in previous years, but have either had a culture significance or personal feeling to myself this year. So please enjoy reading my list and hopefully reading these books for yourself, remember Libraries give us power.

10) History of Modern Britain - Andrew Marr
An award winning series, and an exciting and engaging read from the pen of Andrew Marr, it both conducts a historical narrative, and delves deeper into the cultural significance of the history to modern day Britain. Marr follows on from what you’re kept from in History and what we must all come to terms with.

9) The Political Animal - Jeremy Paxman
2008 was the first year of being engagingly active within the Labour party, and meeting many of the names both past and present has been interesting, and getting to know them personally makes you realise beyond the public image, these people are people. Paxman's book thrives on this feeling and should be read by anyone who see's politics and politicians as distant and disengaging, far from it they are human and as Paxman's book recalls for some it's a drive gained from childhoods much less fortunate than most.

8) Modern History of Russia - Robert Service
In the year of Russia electing a new president (and Prime Minster), Service's book certainly resonates in what is a heavy but interesting read. Service starts with the later years of the last Tsar and follows up to the later days of Vladimir Putin. Its insight is excellent and its knowledge second to none, if you want to know the true Russia, then this is the only book you need.

7) All In The Mind - Alastair Campbell
Part time Labour scenester (Really) writes an interesting and engaging read on the subject of depression, the stories he brings together in the setting of the office of a London psychiatrist are heartfelt and extremely powerful, but as the novel unfolds so does the life of Dr Sturrock and the novel ends in a slightly disappointing but on the whole reasonable conclusion, with the death of Sturrock and the realisation that he was always there for others, but could never be there for his family.

6) Browns Britain - Robert Peston
Arguably the man of the year Robert Peston's biography of what makes Gordon Brown tick and what a country under him would be like, and for the most part Peston is correct. Before the economic crisis Brown was pillared from post to post, but now as Peston says he has come out as a man who knows his economic plan, whilst leaving the opposition a team without steam.

5) Jpod - Douglas Coupland
I could have chose several Coupland novels which I discovered this year, but Jpod by far was the most interesting. A humorous novel that follows the world of nerds and nerders(a woman nerd maybe), it's every possible office setting and then some but the weird life in which Ethan, the protagonist tries to continuously to help others around him in the situations that continuously find themselves in. Coupland also appears and his part is linked intrinsically to why the novel has been written, it's simply fantastic.

4) Whats Left? - Nick Cohen
Cohen's argument, (and that is pretty much what it is) about how the Left falls over itself to support causes that are against its entrenched beliefs. Most of Cohen's arguments hit the right spots and yet his occasional pretentiousness can threaten his argument but for the most part he cuts a conclusive and a very convincing argument.

3) Cats Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
This year saw the passing of Kurt Vonnegut, to coincide with this penguin re-released Cat’s Cradle and with it a book that creates a humour in the darkest and most pessimistic of places. Vonnegut creates like in his masterpiece, dry humour in the worst of places, in Slaughterhouse 5 it’s the battlefields of Europe, in Cat’s Cradle it’s the end of the world due to the specialist concoction called Ice nine, a due reminder that Kurt Vonnegut is gone but will never be forgotten.

2) Flat Earth News – Nick Davies
An exposure on the very heart of journalism, and one that makes you worry what constitutes for journalism each and every day, and with the introduction of the “free” papers I can only see this becoming even more the norm. Having studied the industry deeply, this book backs up what most long lamented “media” students know, sadly most of government doesn’t, and this industry which is coated in shoddiness remains as powerful as it ever was, when it’s not half as well investigated as before.

1) Pies & Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
Radcliffe and Maconie brought back decent music to primetime Radio 2, and probably produced the only half decent Lesley Douglas decision of her short-lived but “Dr Beeching” like tenure of Radio 2 and 6 Music. Maconie originally released the book in 2007, but the cost effective paperback was released in 2008 and tells of his rediscovery of the north and along with the general factual nature its heart warming and beautiful. A book written by a northerner for all, it holds none of the snobby southern stereotypes and should be held up as the one true travel book on the north.
As one northern saying goes “its super smashing great”

List complied by Matt Hurst

The 2008 List

Every year these lists multiply in size and I could probably produce a best television of 2008 list. However for this year which has been mostly made of highs (Degrees) and lows (Unemployment) I have allowed myself only four lists which are made up a literature list and three music lists, the literature list will include several books I have read this year but were published in previous years. To go along with this I have a list of Ep's, Singles and the much loved Album of the year. And in early 2009 I'll be updating this regularly...So keep your eyes peeled.

Anyhow I'll be publishing these over the next week so keep checking and have a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

Matt x

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On The Box - This Last Week In Television

I used to ignore television, it had become something i paid a licence for but rarely watched, as they say University was too exciting. However ever since i've graduated i've returned home and television is a constant.

'Press Stop, Press Play, Record and Rewatch.. Just not sports'

I have BT vision and this is handy due the amount of stuff my mum forces me to watch, and the problems i have accessing informative exciting and thought provoking television along with Match of The Day. You can press Stop, Press Play, Record and rewatch but for some strange reason i need to watch sport as it happens.

This includes late night Baseball, which is shown on Channel 5 and features Johnny and Josh, these welcoming "Blokes" have a delightful brand of charm and humour and hell if you don't like Baseball it's worth it for them alone....remember you could get BT Vision and fast forward.However for me i love Baseball and No Yankees, however post season like Euro 2008 will probably be much better for the lack of my team.

'Craig Burley...Get In My Son'

Staying on Sport, the wonderful Setanta (And yes i admit i actually love them, mainly for James Richardson being given a football show) have possibly the cheapest version of Andy Gray they could find. Craig Burley formerly of well Scotland and apparently Celtic is possibly from the Steve Claridge school of football, in which he repeats basically the great myths of football. These myths like Rafa Benietz rotates far more than anyone, Sheffield Utd were conned and Neil Warnock is a cock.. well perhaps that last one isn't a myth. Anyhow Burley must be paid for the "In My Son" comment, he mentions it possibly 20 times a match, a direct copy of Mr Gray who for his ills has toned it down.

Still Burley is continously wrong, his criticisms are usually about one decision which he will equate has happened throughout the match, this quite frankly makes him the worst pundit on television apart from David "Yossi Benuoooon" Pleat.

'A Whispering Eastend'

Finally i'm talking about the soaps, however i only watch Corrie and Eastenders and bits of Emmerdale (if i can't avoid it...It's better than the one show), and the Peadophile story grips the nation or maybe not. A worry is that Eastenders has recieved little coverage on this and yet as soon as Rosie Webster (Who is Fat, Obnoxious and ugly) shows a slight tit, the papers cry FURY after all thats what they do best, and they go on to show these shocking pictures taken from Corrie so that every man who sees it can show fury with his right hand.

Anyhow the Peadophile story is worrying A) because the guy can't actually be heard, he doesn't pitch anything above a mumble, this however is a habit of most characters in Eastenders apart from Patrick. B) He's now focusing his eyes away from Whitney and on to an innocent kid, and no it's not Lucy Beale who i think was having sex with a older lad some months ago (I think it was the actual peadophile story but was scrapped in favour of this), and anyhow Lucy Beale looks about 21 so she wouldn't be that suitable for this storyline. C) He's marrying Bianca, surely someone should of spotted him by now.

Alas it's hard hitting and not a subject that should be criticised so much as it's brave of them to tackle it, but hell it's better than commenting on Jamie Oliver's Minstry of Food, in which Oliver seems to patronise poor people, he'll get a knighthood for this probably.

One last word on the modern version of Merlin, as bad as the first espisode was i decided to give it a go, it's actually pretty good and Anthony Head, Richard Wilson, Merlin and King Arthur are as delightful as each other.

Regards and seeya next week

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Cure - Freakshow

Bobby Smith and company are back and after the lacklustre first single the true fruits of having Porl Thompson back show.

Freakshow is brilliant, it's modern Cure but certainly nods to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me with more playful lyrics from Mr Smith. The Wah Wah guitars are masterfully put into give a sense of a playful but energised.

So far this collection of songs has been a mix, but the b side nods to early Cure and maybe this album will reflect all the best things about the Cure..... but yes it must be said welcome back Porl.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Elle Milano - Meanwhile In Hollywood (Single)

Well Elle (You the get the pun surely), Meanwhile in Hollywood is the second single to be taken from the forthcoming album Acres of Dead Space Cadets.

Suck in/blow out the same air in the same town
laments our protangnist Adam M. Crisp in a modern day tale of day dreaming. And yet it seems alluring almost like the young Dylan when he tackled the age issue, Crisp tackles in a stream of consciousness the factor of boredom.
It's also a frantically paced 3 minute pop song, that tackles the age of today. It's socially saying alot with very little.....ending with the message of letting the ones you love go....Sweet.

Songs Revisted - Lenny Bruce By Bob Dylan

Having spent the last week pouring over Dylan for my dissertation i'm going to make this a regular feature on my blog on generally every band.

Lenny Bruce

As much as i smirked upon first hearing Lenny Bruce it's a song that is possibly one of Dylan's better efforts during the 1980's. Emotionally its powerful in delivery and the lyrics are delievered in such a sad way you believe that Dylan is for the first time since "Street Legal" singing from the heart.
Lenny Bruce sums up many of Dylan's early laments about people who generally know the answer is there and yet can't grasp it til its gone, most famously suggested in "Blowin In The Wind". So is "Lenny Bruce" up their with Dylan's very best work? The Simple answer is no but it does need to be relooked at, for Dylan its passionate in a period in which much of his work seems full of empty wind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sharp Focus - January's Albums & Singles

So yes, the first month of 2008 is over, a year that promises so much and has delivered tit bits of excitement so far.

Lightspeed Champion was the first band to release something of note (if you dismiss the actual release of Radiohead which i will for purposes of this blogs reputation: see albums of the year). Songs to kill to, songs to lie to and strangely songs to love to, Dev Hynes is a modern day tale teller of quirky sorts and his album sort of delves in to the less fanciable places of society, ironically for Hynes he delves far too deeply but it's wondrous to know the failures in such a beautiful creation....

Another band that entertained us in January was the strangely adaptive These New Puritians, i could possibly spill the usual bullshit journalist jargon about them being from stella Southend (Yes stella is spelt that way due to it being mostly full of stella lager drinkers), but no the album speaks for itself, it speaks largely in tongues but its quality. From Swords in Truth almost a nod to all those similar sounding hip hop records, but hell its out of tune English white kids to the almost brilliantness of Colours and yes they improve music ten fold.

January also said hello to Vampire Weekend with a collection of fun filled frolics, Cat Power singing a load of covers and Sons and Daughters releasing something extreme in delight.

February kicked in with Lupen Crooks latest effort, not only is it on par with his brilliant debut its almost too little, the Murderbirds have added a spike that was missing but it needs more yet still best to leave the audience as such. As for the Morrissey best of, please hardly a best of at least the two extra tracks nod interestingly at the new album due later this year.


Little has really excited me on the single front as of yet, except the odd gem. Firstly we had the dull affair of One Night Only, frankly one album only is too much for these Keane sounding chancers. Laura Marling's been kicking about but she's frankly too annoying to like and Biffy release another record of their latest sham fest, what a god awful record it was. Still Los Campesinos are as chirpy as they were in 2008 and it bodes well for the forthcoming album. Attic Lights seem capable of smashing into the music mind in 2008, and Blood Red Shoes build up to what surely will be a contender for album of the year with the latest single You Bring Me Down.

So finally this brings me to the chirpy almost ludicrously brilliant Hot Chip, Ready to a Floor betters anything on the debut and though I’ve not heard the record yet, if the single precludes the album in anyway then Hot Chip have finally arrived.......Fuck me Over & Over isn't a patch on this.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Unwritten Word's 20 of The Best from 2007 - Singles

The singles i felt worthy of being mentioned this year are:

1) Hot Puppies – King of England
Hardly a known classic, it barely registered on the dial, in fact I heard it only once on radio, but the figures hardly matter for this fan only stop gap single was certainly special, certainly exciting and in the year of new rave, not one synth was noticeable.

2) Blood Red Shoes – Its Getting Boring by the Sea
It’s getting boring by the sea is the coming of age single by Blood Red Shoes, the previous singles though showing of promise were scrappy and lacked the maturity that It’s getting boring by the sea has in abundance, it’s quality is in it’s heart in its sound and in its soul.

3) Elle Milano – My Brother, the Astronaut
Elle Milano gained an album lost a band member and released a brilliant slice of musical goodness. In 2007 Elle Milano were inactive for most the part, recording the album behind doors and finishing off degrees, My Brother, The Astronaut was born from the sessions and though not as instant as previous attempts, it grew and grew and became a stunner.

4) Lightspeed Champion – Galaxy of the Lost
Test Icles were frankly shit, a band who admitted as much split after a few singles and an album of beautiful failures. Dev Hynes one part of the Test Icles has comeback and far from being useless Galaxy of the Lost is sublime soaked acoustic social commentary and much more is expected in 2008.

5) Late of the Pier – Space in the Woods
Space in the woods was the first single by this 4 piece synthestias tagged with the ghastly NME scene “New Rave” Late of the Pier have the looks, the fashion and the moves to be written off, yet Space in the Woods and follow up single Bathroom Gurgle show substance beyond the style, and as they say shit hot just about sums them up.

6) Cajun Dance Party – Amylase
A child choir should never be used without exception, well except one and Amylase is that exception. An intro chanted in a ditty to blow the senses and a misunderstanding delivered in a childlike beauty.

7) Los Campesinos – You, Me Dancing
Some say twee, some say sick, some say pap I say pure pop of the sweetest kind. You, Me, Dancing is a lush epic 6 minute beauty, strange in its depth the Cardiff 6 piece delivered several pieces of outstanding pop in 2007, this was the greatest.

8) Foals – Mathletics
Hummer, Mathletics or indeed Balloons any of the three Foals singles could have been chosen. The oxford rejects are interesting, intriguing and in form the squealing intro in a stamp of action it’s stating fact, when in fact most of it’s nonsense.

9) Peter & the Pirates – Knots
Knots is a joyous foot stamping two minutes seventeen seconds tune that’s frantically played to the point that it seems there lives depend on it, which they do well sort of.

10) Shrag – Talk to the Left
More known for the name checked hit Mark E Smith, Shrag released this slice of sarcastic dialogue between a girl and a boy in the autumn months of the year. Talk to the Left is brilliantly clever in delivery of the acid tongue lyrics.

11) Beck – Timebomb
Tick Tick Tick Boom

12) Calvin Harris – Acceptable in the 80’s
Still acceptable in the noughties

13) I Was a Cub Scout – I Hate Nightclubs
Sarcastically sadistic in brilliance

14) Richard Hawley – The Night Belongs To Us
50’s slush lush rock and roll

15) The Be Be See – Disney Eyes
Dance Pop, Dance Pop, Dance Pop

16) Rosin Murphy – Overpowered
Sweet slush electro swirls sublime

17) Official Secrets Act – Snakes & Ladders
Up and Down, Up and Down success all the same

18) Strange Death of Liberal England – Oh Solitude
A total utopian bewilderment, brilliant.

19) XX Teens – Darlin’
Eccentrically daring, deliciously reliable

20) The Bee’s – Listening Man
Wistfully wandering on a summer’s day

The Unwritten Word's 20 of The Best from 2007 - Albums

The End of The Year became hectic and thus was my list, late as per usual but some goodun's


1) Eugene Mcguinness – The Early Learning’s of…
A mini album yes, but that never stopped iLiKETRAiNS last year, and it won’t stop Eugene McGuiness. This reflected my views, my feelings and hopes, childlike in its delivery but with an ounce of humanity and courage, McGuiness delivers 8 songs of delight, very special.

2) Windmill – Puddle City Racing Lights
Captivating in its entirely, Windmills debut is special for his haunting vocals and brilliant musical shapes, just its beauty at the criticism of the human condition, special, special indeed.

3) Art Brut – its Bit Complicated
Almost an escape from the last album, covered in maturity and immaturity it’s almost a record dictating an order, a charm that can’t be heralded, maybe it can be applauded for staying together, a truly redundant diamond among others, it’s crass, happy and go lucky….

4) Crippled Black Phoenix – A Love of Shared Disasters
A haunting almost sceptical appearance of despair and hope, this was overbearing at times but brilliant. A Love of Shared Disasters was clinical in its hearing, and most of all special, haunting masterpiece.

5) Field Music – Tones of Town
Field Music are a band who have simmered for years yet now have burst upon the scene, but Tones of Town silently achieved that. For two people it created a buzz, an interest and something much more exciting than most.

6) Joy Electric – The Otherly Opus
Electro at it’s most inventive; Otherly Opus was one of the most intriguing and interesting records of 2007, from the title track to stand out “write your last paragraph”, it stood out like black on white.

7) Radiohead – In Rainbows
One word for this record………sublime from the opening beeps of 15 steps to the closing aching piano of Videotape, In Rainbows is sublime.

8) Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight
Rilo Kiley went pop and pretentious indie types went all horrified and even people who are just slightly tasteful. Much like the Goldfrapp turn of the earlier naughties Rilo Kiley went pop and most went aghast, I frankly loved it and I’ll stand by that statement till the day I die.

9) Microfilm – Stereodrama
Microfilm, yes you’re possibly asking who? Well at number 9 and possibly the first band to include movie sound like clips over amazing cascades of sweeping delights Microfilm are spanking, did I say spanking yes I think I did.

10) Le Loup - The Throne of the Third Heaven Of The Nations' Millennium General Assembly
Possibly the longest record title this year and one of the quaintest most surprising records too, Le Loup are quite quintessential in their post rock movements silence is golden yet sparse, a remarkable journey and yet very very enjoyable.

11) iLiKETRAiNS – Elegies to the lesson learnt
“Welcoming Armageddon with strings and horns”

12) Bear Colony – We Came Here To Die
“Remarkably special in a culture of boredom, destruction and despair” (Trademarked)

13) Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
“Mishmash washes of colour, heart and destruction”

14) Polytechnic – Down Til Dawn
“It’s a pop album to all intents and purposes but it’s sung in a heart that’s at odds with its cheery persona, quite the quality.”

15) Help She Can’t Swim – The Death of Nightlife
“Falling Over and Succeeding”

16) Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position
“The heart aching beauty that Wolf creates is a treasure, his vocal is distinctive, his work enchanting and his heart continuously sits on his sleeve.”

17) Gravenhurst – The Western Lands
“It includes most of what is expected; loss, anger, sadness but a rarity for Nick Talbot it holds hope”

18) Bruce Springsteen – Magic
“Not a classic of Springsteen’s but rarely could you say it missed the mark.”

19) Strange Death Liberal of England – Forward March!
“A mess of joyfulness”

20) Battles – Mirrored
“Still for all the pointless over kill of the odd track, Mirrored holds it’s own.”