Billy Bragg: The supporters of an English parliament keep telling me no one wants devolution to the English regions. Oh yeah?

The supporters of an English parliament keep telling me no one wants devolution to the English regions. Oh yeah?

Hamish McRae: Every swing in commodity values has winners and losers, but here there are many more winners

Hamish McRae in the Independent.Every swing in commodity values has winners and losers, but here there are many more winners

— A Feed from the Moon

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John Naughton: We need to be pragmatic about the principle of net neutrality

Attempts by content providers such as Comcast to charge for fast-lane delivery must be resisted but data transmission needs to adapt to changes in technology

The composer and aesthete Lord Berners was a famous eccentric who hated sharing railway compartments with strangers and developed a sure-fire way of ensuring that he travelled alone. He would stand at the door of his chosen compartment, maniacally beckoning people in. This being England, no one ever entered.

Nowadays, the same effect may be achieved by telling people that you wish to engage them in a discussion about net neutrality. You get the glassy smile, the sideways glance checking the location of the nearest exit, the sudden remembering of things that have to be done at that very moment, and all the other evasive tactics deployed by those who find themselves in the presence of a madman.

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God Is In The TV: Jesse Malin – Fibbers, York, 27th November 2014

119It is the fourth Thursday in November and where better to celebrate Thanksgiving Day than in the recently relocated and completely transformed Fibbers in the most wonderful company of Jesse Malin from the grand New York City borough of Queens.

Jesse Malin’s musical career can be traced back to New York’s post-punk scene of the early 1980s though his own solo recorded output actually dates from a couple of decades later and his breakthrough debut long player, The Fine Art of Self Destruction. Malin’s primary sphere of influence is located in the late 70’s songcraft of Neil Young, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen – with whom he would later join forces on the 2007 cut ‘Broken Radio’ – though more contemporary touchstones are Ryan Adams and The Gaslight Anthem. He distils all of these reference points into his very own personal narratives of lost opportunities, doomed relationships and fresh new beginnings.

Hollis Brown

Hollis Brown

Jesse Malin is currently here in the UK to primarily road test songs from his forthcoming and as yet untitled new album and he is backed by a superbly tight band including three men who will feature on this record – Derek Cruz (guitar), Don DiLego (bass) and Randy Schrager (drums) – plus Adam Bock on keys. Bock has already appeared earlier with principal support act Hollis Brown, Malin’s near neighbours from Queens and who put in a great shift of classic rock, Americana and blues and end their set with a tremendous cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Sweet Jane’.

The new single ‘Addicted’ confirms Jesse Malin’s strong grasp of pop history and its inherent sensibilities and the gorgeous reminiscences of ‘The Year That I Was Born In’ promises even more for this forthcoming album. Malin expertly weaves the newer material in amongst some of his more established songs. ‘Hotel Columbia’ from his second album The Heat is an early highlight and the appearance of Danny Ray on saxophone adds further weight to a joyous reading of the title track from The Pogues‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’.

Jesse Malin

Jesse Malin

The heartbreak of ‘She Don’t Love Me Now’ attests to Malin’s ability to balance vulnerability with determination and his innate skill in capturing these feelings in song. The concluding ‘All The Way From Moscow’ – taken from his last album, 2010’s Love It To Life – showcases another side to his songwriting craft, that of the old fashioned rock’n’roller. Three encores deservedly follow – the beautifully nostalgic ‘Brooklyn’, which in Malin’s own words is all about being stuck in a moment as much as you can; the equally gorgeous ‘Promises’ and a valedictory shot of ‘Heart Of Gold’, the B-side of the new single – all of which add to the mystery of why the pendulum of commercial success has not swung a whole lot further in the direction of this supremely talented and most personable of performers.

‘Addicted’ will be released on 19th January 2015 through One Little Indian

More photographs of this show can be found here

via Simon Godley God Is In The TV

Dave Hill | The Guardian: Help London’s future: forget immigration, love babies instead

Politicians talking tough on EU migrants might not please London voters as much as others in the UK and doesn’t address the things the capital needs most

London’s population boom is mostly caused by babies. They are emerging from the wombs of the capital in droves – more than 128,000 of them last year alone. True, greater numbers of newcomers have been arriving from foreign lands – 170,000 in the twelve months to mid-2103. Still more have been turning up from elsewhere in the UK – 196,000 during the same period. But even as those out-of-towners were blowing in, almost as many were shipping out: 79,500 to other nations and 251,600 to somewhere else in this one. That left a net increase of 24,500 to a total population of over eight million. They were dwarfed by the army of newborns.

Older people too have contributed to boosting the number of people Greater London contains to the brink of its largest ever, beating the record set in 1939. They’ve been living for longer and leaving in smaller numbers than they used to. But it is babies who’ve been most responsible. It seems worth underlining this in view of national politicians’ current, feverish, contest to sound the most “tough” about reducing immigration.

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via Dave Hill | The Guardian

Liberal Conspiracy: I oppose positive discrimination because white men have run the most successful positive discrimination scheme of all time

I was invited this week to speak at Cambridge University, with the topic title: “Does Britain need more positive discrimination?“. We would interpret this however we liked.

Below is roughly what I said.

In the 1940s, When Vera Rubin told her school physics professor that she’d been accepted into Vassar, an arts college near New York City, he said, “That’s great. As long as you stay away from science, it should be okay.”

Predictably, she didn’t. Rubin went on prove there was vastly more dark matter in the universe than previously thought, and overturned some basic laws of Newtonian physics.

And yet, she was turned down from the astronomy program at Princeton because they didn’t allow women. For years the scientific community ignored her work, only accepting it later after her male colleagues validated it. She didn’t get a Nobel prize for her work.

* * * * * * * * * * *

a) Before you came to this talk, I suspect some of you thought to yourself: I bet someone from the talk is going to open with a sob story of a gifted black-disabled-lesbian woman, to illustrate why we need positive discrimination.

But you’re wrong – I oppose positive discrimination. I oppose positive discrimination with every breath because, like many of you, I believe it to be unfair. Why should someone get promoted just because they belong to a minority group, instead of their ability? It’s wrong!

b) Between 1 and 3% of the British population are white men who graduated from Oxford or Cambridge. Yet, they completely dominate the worlds of higher academia, politics and business. Just 0.5% of all university professors in Britain are black. Just two FTSE 100 companies have a female chair.

THAT, my friends, is the most successful positive discrimination scheme of all time. A group of white, middle-aged men have successfully discriminated against anyone who didn’t look like them for centuries. THIS is why I’m utterly opposed to positive discrimination!

c) Diversity isn’t about gender or skin colour – it’s about background, experience and mindset. But all of those are usually the by-product of having a different gender or skin colour. And studies consistently show that companies or groups with more diversity do better than those more homogenous. Why? Because people with different mindsets look to solve problems in different ways. If we want more innovation, we don’t need more positive discrimination, but we do need more diversity.

d) Look around you: there is rampant positive discrimination everywhere – albeit in favour of white middled-aged men. But worse, because of this positive discrimination, we all lose out. Yes, even you, the white Cambridge man at the back – you lose out too!

I bet you’re thinking: that doesn’t make sense, I’ve hit the jackpot. how do I lose out? But you do.

If our companies and government had been more diverse to begin with, hiring talent from any gender, race or sexual orientation they could find, we would have far more progress than we do now. We could be chilling on hoverboards and flying around the world at twice the speeds for half the environmental cost. We could have solved our energy or poverty crisis .

Put it another way. It’s a bit like me raising you all in prison and then saying, wouldn’t it be great if the prisoners could also enjoy as much freedom as the wardens?
. We aren’t fulfilling our potential as a civilisation because the vast majority of intelligent people out there don’t get the opportunity to use their talents. They are shunned in favour of a narrow minority.

A woman Mexican engineer may have thought of a brilliant way to extend battery life. But since Apple hired its first high-ranking female executive in 24 years only recently, you are still cursing them for the shit battery life on your phone. You lose out too!

This is why I oppose positive discrimination, because so far it has been used to help white men. I want to see an end to this regime of positive discrimination.

via Sunny Hundal Liberal Conspiracy

God Is In The TV: Joanna Gruesome win Welsh Music Prize


Today (Friday, 28th of November 2014) the organisers of the Welsh Music Prize, in association with PPL and Otley Brewing Company, are proud to announce that Joanna Gruesome are the winners of the Welsh Music Prize 2013–2014 for their debut album Weird Sister.

“The thrilling Cardiff-based five-piece band beat off stiff competition from albums released over the past year by the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Gruff Rhys, Cate Le Bon and Future of the Left to scoop the prize. The Welsh Music Prize trophy was awarded to members of the band by Media Wales music journalist David Owens at a ceremony held at The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

Joanna Gruesome comprise Alanna on vocals, Owen on guitar, Max on bass, George on guitar and Dave on drums. The band formed in 2010 after they met at an anger management counselling group. They have received rave reviews for their energetic live shows and critical acclaim for their debut album. Weird Sister, released via Fortuna POP! (Europe) and Slumberland (USA), is an album brimming with irresistible pop melodies, spiked with dissonant fuzzy jangle and super-fast, hardcore punk drumbeats.

Now in its fourth year, the Welsh Music Prize has given artists in Wales a remarkable platform to showcase their music globally and celebrates the very best of what the Welsh music industry has to offer. Organised by John Rostron and Huw Stephens, the Welsh Music Prize has been won previously by Georgia Ruth for Week of Pines, Future of the Left for The Plot Against Common Sense and Gruff Rhys for Hotel Shampoo.

John Rostron said: “Huge congratulations to Joanna Gruesome. They’re a brilliant young band with a strong sense of identity and have released a terrific debut album. Their record resonated with the judges who were universal in their praise. I hope that many new people now seek them out and buy a copy!”

Huw Stephens said: “The 12 shortlisted albums are fantastic. A big thanks to our judges who chose Joanna Gruesome’s Weird Sister as the winner. They’ve come a long way and continue to thrive, so a massive congratulations to all involved with Joanna Gruesome!”

The final decision culminated in over a year’s worth of activity where one hundred members of the Welsh music community whittled down their recommendations to the definitive list of nominees. From a shortlist of twelve albums, nine judges made up of industry experts, practitioners and tastemakers then cast their deciding votes by secret ballot to decide on the winning album. “

The shortlist in full was:

9 Bach – Tincian

Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

Euros Childs – Situation Comedy

Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

Gruff Rhys – American Interior

Gulp – Season Sun

Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

Samoans – Rescue

Slowly Rolling Camera – Slowly Rolling Camera

The Gentle Good – Y Bardd Anfarwol

The People The Poet – The Narrator

The panel in full comprised: Helen Weatherhead (BBC 6Music), Sian Rowe (XL Recordings), Folu Babatola (Red Bull), Owain Schiavone (Y Selar), Teleri Glyn Jones (Juxtaposed), Laura Snapes (NME), Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons / Communion), David Wrench (Producer) and James Watts (Xenomania).

via Bill Cummings God Is In The TV

God Is In The TV: Preaching From The Pews: Faerground Accidents


Sheffield’s Faerground Accidents debut A-side single ‘We Hate The Same Things’ c/w ‘Back In Town’ is out this week and is available on digital download and Limited Edition Pink vinyl 7” through Louder than War. Produced by Alan Smyth (Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley, Pulp), it clarifies their self styled brand of ‘psychotic pop’ primed by the acerbic camp wit of Bomar Faery a cross dressing lipstick smeared frontperson with a sharp tongue and a fluctuating mood, laced with the fret work of former Artery guitarist Murray Fenton that reminds one of the cramp inducing jangle of The Wedding Present and hoist aloft by d see sawing rhythm section and keyboards that sound like they have been borrowed from Pulp‘s ‘His N Her’s sessions.

‘We Hate the Same Things’ urgent post punk pop ripples somewhere between the hooky riffs of the Buzzcocks and the witty melodrama that hints at the tragic romanticism of the likes of the Smiths. Perhaps the superior cut comes in the shape of ‘Back In Town’ memories of early Pulp colliding with the witty vignettes comparable of the bedsit psychosexual melodrama of the likes of old Moz himself, witty kiss offs (“I went to the supermarket after every one of those/And I spent my last pennies on a value meal for one”) capturing the futility, fumblings and fragility of affairs of the heart, it’s a rather smart tune indeed..

Earlier this year they recorded a version of Pulp’s Babies for us, to celebrate Bomar’s appearance in the Pulp documentary, ‘Pulp. A Film About Life, Death And Supermarkets’…

“Originally formed in Manchester in the Spring of 2012. Their first demos quickly caught the attention of John Robb who little realising how close to the truth he was, described front person Bomar Faery as ‘borderline psychotic and quite definitely genius’ as 48 hours after the bands’ first press feature, on Robb’s ‘Louder Than War’ webzine, Bomar found himself committed to a Manchester lunatic asylum and the band’s future decidedly uncertain.

On the day of his release, Bomar returned to Sheffield and made an impromptu appearance at the wake of Artery’s Mick Fidler, performing with a hastily arranged backing quartet. Also performing that night was Artery’s Murray Fenton, who having agreed to produce the original line up’s planned EP, was so blown away by the performance, he joined the new Faerground on guitar, as did Loveboat’s Dan Botterill on bass and after very little persuasion, Dodgems drummer Michael Breeze. Original member in Manchester Henrietta Rowlatt, teamed up with the band on keyboards to complete the line-up.”


24th November –Washington, Sheffield – Single Launch with John Robb DJing

26th November – Roadhouse, Manchester – with John Robb DJing

28th November – The Montague Arms, London SE14

13th December – Academy 2, Sheffield supporting Sleaford Mods

20th December – The 12 Bar, London supporting The Membranes

6th March – Buffalo Bar, London

via Bill Cummings God Is In The TV