Category Archives: New Music

A Conversation With Harry Stafford

There is something assuringly honest about Harry Stafford’s demeanor. He says without a hint of self-consciousness that he likes to get up on stage and put on a show and if that means dressing the part, then so be it, he’ll gladly do his best. Which goes a long way to explain why the one-time spiky-haired goth rocker now prefers to wear a conservative business suit with a white shirt and tie to perform in. Harry reckons if people pay good money to come to see you, then they deserve a show, not some bloke shambling on in boring jeans and a t-shirt. It all works because Stafford’s new album, Gothic Urban Blues presents melancholy look backward without being old-fashioned. It’s a collection that could have easily been released ten, twenty or maybe thirty years ago, yet the suggestion that this is a carefully crafted homage to nostalgia is shattered by the crisp production and Stafford’s almost languid but up-to-the-moment lyrics. Gothic Urban Blues can be played all the way through without stopping or one track at a time, it’s one of those albums that works perfectly either way. Which is a lot like chatting with Harry. He gives thoughtful, well-considered answers with a treasure trove of insights and details that could persuade you that your sixty-minute conversation was really just ten minutes. He’s an affable chap is Harry Stafford, the ups and downs of the music biz may have given him cause to be cynical but he manages to keep that persona well hidden. Instead, he recounts the early days as founder, guitarist, and vocalist of post-punk gothic rockers Inca Babies as fondly as he chats about his latest venture. Stafford decided to release untamed solo material that echoes his love of blues piano and barroom ballads. The idea he says was to leave his noisy electric guitar behind – abandoning everything he held and cherished – to make some new music with a piano and a head full of ideas. His band is now called Guitar Shaped Hammers to reflect this cohesion of musical unity – with more guitars from Vincent O’Brien, and an additional layered sonic blast from Nick Brown (The Membranes). With intense percussion from Rob Haynes and a truly masterful trumpet contribution from jazz supremo Kevin Davy, the result is very much the soundtrack of a basement radio station stumbling across a new genre they’ve tagged Gothic Urban Blues

LEM Vol 172

Madame President? Fearless Cooking. New Music.

After November 8, 2016, first came the sadness; then came the rage, the activism, and the protests; and, finally, for thousands of women, the next step was to run for office – many of them for the first time. More women campaigned for local or national office in the 2018 election cycle than at any other time in US history, challenging accepted notions about who seeks power and who gets it. The Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election saw an unprecedented and a record number of women running for office. Now Super Tuesday is behind us and as if time has stood stubbornly still, two late 70s white men are the front runners. To begin to unravel how we ended up without a woman to effectively fumigate the White House of the most debased misogynist of all time, we revisit our 2019 interview with journalist Caitlin Moscatello. She reported on the wave of female candidates who decided to run for political office after the 2016 election. Caitlin followed four candidates throughout the entire process, from the decision to run through Election Day, Her excellent book, See Jane Win takes readers inside their exciting, winning campaigns and the sometimes thrilling, sometimes brutal realities of running for office while female. What she discovers is that the candidates who triumphed in 2018 emphasized authenticity and passion instead of conforming to the stereotype of what a candidate should look or sound like, a formula that was intended to be more relevant than ever as we approach the 2020 presidential election. This look back at Caitlin Moscatello’s exuberant work serves as the forerunner to future examinations of why “Madame President” is not likely to be heard for at least another four years.

Food stylist, recipe developer, and cookbook author, Susan Spungen has a lot to say about Fearless Cooking and Entertaining. In her appealing new book, Open Kitchen she gets straight to the point by telling the reader whether physical or spiritual, an open kitchen is a place to welcome company, to enjoy togetherness and the making of a meal. Her cookbook is full of contemporary, stylish, and accessible dishes, from simple starters such as Burrata with Pickled Cherries and centerpieces such as Rosy Harissa Chicken, to desserts such as Roasted Strawberry-Basil Sherbet. Norman B’s conversation with Susan is a mouth-drooling exercise in the love of food, cooking and the wonders of discovering new recipes.  

Also in the show, a selection of new music from an enterprising compilation, The Music Of Others. This came about when The Glad Cafe, a cultural hub in Glasgow’s south side discovered they were facing closure if they couldn’t come up with 40,000 pounds for repairs to the roof of their building. To help raise funds, the venue started a crowd-funding rally. The outcome was a new label imprint, Glorious Traces Recordings. In turn, they released a 22 track collection which sees a whole host of brilliant names covering each other’s songs…the result is, honestly one of the best compilations we’ve had the pleasure play in quite a while…here then are Wolf with Help This Animal originally by Paul Vickers & The Leg followed by Emma Pollack with Holy Smoke originally by Robin Adams Enjoy!

Show #363

A Conversation With Rudy Tambala – Redux

Rudy Tambala is a smart guy, he’s well read, he’s articulate and he enjoys a spirited conversation. He’s sincere when he states, “Rock ’n’ roll is fucking sex! It’s the rhythm of your blood. It’s the most vital force. Without it, there isn’t any existence on this planet!” The irony of his words adds to the fascination of listening to a man whose creative talent has been on display for over three decades. Rudy Tambala first came to critical acclaim as one half of the influential duo, A. R. Kane. Released thirty years ago Lollita, their mesmerizing 12” EP for the enterprising 4AD label, remains as fresh and innovative now as it did way back then. During Norman B’s exclusive interview with Rudy, the forthright musician reveals how he and his bandmate, Alex Ayuli created their extraordinary and frequently emulated sound. He talks enthusiastically of the beginnings of A. R. Kane, detailing the creation of the noted Lollita artwork. Rudy shares his thoughts on current music, design and why style is important, “It’s not what you play it’s the way you hold your guitar. It not what you wear it’s how your hair looks…it’s a youth thing.” He says wryly. The legacy of A. R. Kane continues with his new band, Jübl and Rudy gives us an insider’s take on the demands of his new project. This is an interview full of warmth and candor. The conversation flows seamlessly from previously unheard details about recording techniques to spot-on observations about the business of life. Make a Donation Button

 

A Conversation With John Robb

He sports an impeccably-coiffed mohawk. In photos, he often appears shirtless or exposing his impressive ripped torso and well-defined biceps. Cameras always catch a striking scowl on an arresting-yet-handsome face. And, his unfiltered Lancashire brogue suggests you better not ask, “Sorry, what did you say?” As it happens, John Robb has a lot to say. He has experienced so much and he wants to share his thoughts, so…you better listen. Not because his stern visage is intimidating, but because John is a charming, polite and knowledgable man. Pick a topic, any topic and Mr. Robb will offer up a well-considered commentary.

Inspired by the DIY ethic of the punk scene, 16-year-old John Robb co-founded  The Membranes in his hometown of Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1977.  The energy he displayed then, is still in full effect today.  On June 6,  The Membranes released What Nature Gives… Nature Takes Away, a double album deservedly receiving generous praise from critics and fans alike. Taking time out from his busy schedule, John chatted to Norman B about the new album, reflected on making music, the story of The Membranes, rock and roll, and selected cuts to play on Life Elsewhere. Make sure you don’t miss this entertaining conversation with one of rock music’s most eloquent voices.

portrait of John Robb by John Middleham

Show #332

The Stonewall Anniversary + A Conversation With m1nk

June 28, 2019, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which is considered the most significant event in the gay liberation movement, and the catalyst for the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States. Drawing from the New York Public Library’s archives, The Stonewall Reader is a collection of first accounts, diaries, periodic literature, and articles from LGBTQ magazines and newspapers that documented both the years leading up to and the years following the riots. Most importantly the anthology spotlights both iconic activists who were pivotal in the movement, such as Sylvia Rivera, co-founder of Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR), as well as forgotten figures like Ernestine Eckstein, one of the few out, African American, lesbian activists in the 1960s. The anthology focuses on the events of 1969, the five years before, and the five years after. Jason Baumann, the NYPL coordinator of humanities and LGBTQ collections, has edited and introduced the volume top coincide with the NYPL exhibition he has curated on the Stonewall uprising and gay liberation of 1969.

m1nk, (pronounced em one en kay), first came to our attention over a year ago with their independently released single, Fuck You Up. Then, two excellent follow-up singles, The Far Side and eBomb prompted us to make contact with the talented duo behind m1nk. Recently, on a beautiful sunny afternoon in Athens, we caught up m1nk for an in-depth conversation. Erika Bach (aka Lola Demo) is based in Athens by way of Australia and Germany. She says she comes from a more garage rock background with some electronic influences in her productions. Trainspotters may argue Erika’s haunting voice and edgy trash ethic evoke identifiable references, but we prefer to think she has a style all of her own. Barry Snaith (aka The Inconsistent Jukebox), moves effortlessly between genres, his productions encompassing everything from acerbic alt-pop and industrial soundscapes to French cabaret and dubstep. Together as m1nk, they make dark, gothic, electronic soundscapes. They are certainly distinctive, yet hard to define. In our conversation, you’ll be impressed by their candor and the passion they so obviously have for the music they make. Based in Manchester, UK and Athens, Greece, m1nk have just released their album m1nk = em one en kay on Seja Records out of The Netherlands.

The Podcast is available at NPR One, Apple Podcasts & Mixcloud

Sundays 12 noon ET at The Source WMNF HD3
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Life Elsewhere Music airs:
Sundays 11.00am ET at 
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Wednesdays at 3.00pm Pacific Time on 
NWCZ Radio
Fridays at 10.00am Eastern Time on IRN
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You can hear all the volumes over at Mixcloud

Show #322

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