Tag Archives: Apple Podcasts

In A Word It’s Madness!*

“We have to start with what has happened in the past week, which is that the President of the United States of America in the service of the conspiracy theory that he has been peddling since the election and for years, he whipped up a frenzied mob and directed them to the US Capitol and enrage them to attack not just the legislative branch but his own Vice President, which where I come from s an act of insurrection – sedition. And, the house is at this moment voting on whether to impeach him – which is needed and necessary. And we are watching the Republican Party splinter on live television.” So begins my conversation with author and political commentator, Jared Yates Sexton. We both took one hour out from staring at our monitors in disbelief to talk about exactly what had happened and try to figure out why. Jared continued, “Certain parts of the GOP want to protect their corporate donor base, others want to distance themselves from Trump for their future political careers, and then we have another group who are performing for the very people who broke into the Capitol in order to be their chosen representatives in the future – in a word it’s madness!”* In the sixty minutes we chatted, Sexton shared his well-considered thoughts on not just the recent events that led to the 2nd impeachment of Trump but also his take on the state of the nation, dropping quotable observations along the way – “The promises Trump made in 2016 were just catchy slogans” or “Trump knew how to pluck the strings of manipulation, he became a faux-populist President” and “If it wasn’t possible he will be arrested and held accountable, the post-Presidency would be the ideal job for Trump”. Jared Yates Sexton is an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University, his most recent book is American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People. 

I thought some contemplative music would be welcome, to take you to the closing credits, Possible from the EP Snowmelt, by Zoë Keating out of Burlington, Vermont who describes herself as a one-woman cello orchestra. 

Show 407

Who Stormed The Capitol Building?

When the results for the 2020 Presidential election were finally announced we here at Life Elsewhere were relieved yet hesitant to announce that Donald John Trump would not feature in yet another of our shows. For well over four years we have interviewed many authors, discussed with professors, experts, and pundits the phenomena of Trump. Back in 2015, we asked the question “Could a caricature become President?” Since then, day-by-day, week-by-week, and year-by-year the 45th President proved again and again that the bar for the absurdity of incompetence could and would get lower and lower. The late-night talk shows no longer satirically-mocked him, instead, they became some of the most serious and loudest voices of condemnation. So, the unforgivable outrageous events of January 6, 2021, happened. We are all in shock, anxiously hoping to get through the next few days until the inauguration of Joe Biden without further tragedy. I use the word “we” sparingly because there are those who refuse to accept that Trump lost the election. They unabashedly hang on to the falsehood of voter-fraud or somesuch other screwball reason to stage an insurrection. At this point, we are exhausted from even attempting to comprehend the raison d’être of Trump. There is though, an urgency to unravel who are the individuals who stormed the United States Capitol building last Wednesday. To that end, we return to our interview with David Neiwert in May 2018.                   

Norman B, January 9, 2021

Donald Trump’s victorious campaign for the US presidency shocked the world, the seemingly sudden national prominence of white supremacists, xenophobes, militia leaders, and mysterious “alt-right” figures mystify many. But the American extreme right has been growing steadily in number and influence since the 1990s with the rise of patriot militias. Following 9/11, conspiracy theorists found fresh life; and in virulent reaction to the first black US president, militant racists have come out of the woodwork. Nurtured by a powerful right-wing media sector in radio, TV, and online, the far-right, Tea Party movement conservatives and Republican activists found common ground. Figures such as Stephen Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Alex Jones, once rightly dismissed as cranks, now haunt the reports of mainstream journalism. Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking extremists for more than two decades. In his latest book, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of TrumpNeiwert provides a deeply researched and authoritative report on the growth of fascism and far-right terrorism, the violence of which in the last decade has surpassed anything inspired by Islamist or other ideologies in the United States. David Neiwert joins Norman B for the next edition of Life Elsewhere to talk about his years of reportage, including the most in-depth investigation of Trump’s ties to the far right.

Also in the program, new music from Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter, Ellis May. About her song, Father she says this, “Father is the most personal work I have done. It’s about loss. It’s about carrying on. It’s about acceptance, and about how accepting things will move you forward, and get you through hard times and push you onto your own path.” 

Show 406

 

2020 Special Mentions – Life Elsewhere Music Vol 214

Finally, 2020 is over and here we are as if blinking at unfamiliar bright sunlight, wondering what the new year will bring us. Here at Life Elsewhere Towers the abundance of wonderful new releases throughout 2020 could for a moment belie how rubbish the past twelve months have been. Being in isolation has been the prompt for so many creative folk to get off their arses and – well, create! We avoid Best Of Lists because every cut we play at Life Elsewhere Music has to be Best, otherwise, we wouldn’t play them, so we gave you Not The Best Of 2020. To start the New Year, we are giving a big nod to those who deserve a Special Mention

Miranda McCarthy – From Loving You on first play we were singing along with this song. Yes, it does sound familiar, yet original.  Miranda says, “The song was inspired by the wildness of West Cork and a life in profound transformation.”

Eka –  Shadow Play this song arrived unsolicited from Ekaterine, aka Eka with a wonderful descriptive message, “I’m a French visual artist with multicultural background and influences (French, Vietnamese, Russian and I spent my childhood in Brazil)” Eka went on to tell us all about her creative work. Her music caught our attention, in part because of her slight, lilting accent.  

Tears On Demand – If I Was Alive this is an outstanding example why you should investigate the releases on Shoredive Records. This is entrepreneurial, Nicolas Pierre Wardell, boss of the label’s own outfit. Clearly Nico is fluent in how to make an engaging song. The man’s work is appealing and his label must not be overlooked. 

Wu-Lu – Black Classical Music this cut from the Overgrown Interludes album is a perfect example why you need to spend time carefully listening to creativity of Wu-Lu.

Gad Whip – Sundown since we first heard these lads and their uncompromising music it was obvious they would be on our radar. But, please Gad Whip put out more releases often and send us some videos of you playing live. We want to imagine we are there with you having a mad dance around the place. Simply put, damn good intelligent music to have a knees-up to.

Benin City – Get Your Own and while we are talking about being in the dance. Josh, Shanaz & Tom aka, Benin City have that well covered. It would safe to say, every release from Benin City becomes a big fave for us. This trio know how to work their magic. Exceptional, well-crafted music with a message. In Get Your Own they tackle Covid as only Benin City can. 

Phoebe Coco  Different here is a talented in singer-songwriter-musician who has put our a number of superb releases. There is something about Phoebe output that prompts me to suggest she work with a producer who has another angle on her abilities. I’m thinking Olly Shelton of Pela fame, or maybe Adrian Sherwood. Your thoughts?

Tasha But There’s Still The Moon we keep returning to this cut, trying to analyze why it it works so well. Tasha says “For me, the moon is reliable, beautiful, it’s anchoring.” Written in early 2019, this single takes an optimistic message of gentleness. And, that we agree with.

Talitha Ferri Home she is out of Copenhagen, the album is, Get Well Soon. About this song, Talitha writes, “It was written in retrospect, at a time when I was able to appreciate the fragile moment that is falling in love. That sacred little dance we love to drag on and on, clinging to and resenting the space that stands between us.” Beneath that fragility, is a determined songwriter.

This Is The Kit – This Is What You Did this is the musical project of Kate Stables and whoever joins her in locations such as Winchester, Paris and Bristol. Her album, Off Off On showcases clever songwriting and production skills. There is an energy to be savored. 

Happy Speedy – Fresh Air “I like writing sad lyrics to help me through my feelings (or two),” says Eimear Coyle. The Irish-born singer, now located in Glasgow goes on to say she started the band to help her work through some tough times. With Glasgow friends Kieran Coyle, Rosie Pearse, Siobhain Ma and Connell King, their debut LP, You’re Doing OK is one of those hidden gems you should not pass over.

Miriam Ingram – A Tiny White Dot this poignant song from the album, Spells was produced by her son, Diolmhain Ingram-Roche and a fine job he does too of taking us through a psychedelic, visceral, textured maze of vocal loops and layered synths. Miriam’s observations on life are acute. Essential listening.

Keeno – I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison) real Drum and Bass, Dubstep or Grime have not made it onto mainstream radio in America, which is why we like to make a point of selecting first-class cuts to wake up the neighbors with. Hospital Records out of the UK have been releasing brilliant cuts since 1996. Use this cut to lead you to discover more essential releases. Keeno’s I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison) is so infectious, you’ll want to hear more.

Winsome – Untitled here is a fine example of how minimalist digital reggae can be so emotive. Winsome Benjamin was a popular Lover’s Rock chanteuse on the UK scene in the 80s. This 12” was probably originally released a few years back but rereleased to help raise donations to the northeast London migrant action (NELMA) solidarity hardship fund.

Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip to end this Special Mentions show an intriguing release. Eel Drip is about honouring the dead, the passing of lives within you and beyond you,” says the London-based artist. She continues “It’s about physical or emotional change, acknowledging fears, and being true to yourself… reaching your full potential.” Words to ponder as we move into a new year. The accompanying, disturbing video was directed by Agnes Haus and inspired by artist Francesca Woodman’s 1970s series of nude self-portraits with Eels.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to Life Elsewhere Music. Make sure you let us know what you think of the show. Send your thoughts to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Playlist

  1. Miranda McCarthy  From Loving You
  2. EKA – Shadow Play
  3. Tears On Demand – If I Was Alive
  4. Wu-Lu – Black Classical Music
  5. Gad Whip – Sundown
  6. Benin City – Get Your Own
  7. Phoebe Coco – Different
  8. Tasha – But There’s Still The Moon
  9. Tabitha Ferri – Home
  10. This Is The Kit – This Is What You Did
  11. Happy Speedy – Fresh Air
  12. Miriam Ingram – A Tiny White Dot
  13. Keeno – I Wonder (feat. Ellie Madison)
  14. Winsome – Untitled (SUG001-B)
  15. Penelope Trappes – Eel Drip

Happy New Year!

The artwork for this volume is by Jamie Singleton “Beautiful Brian” 1997 6’ x 8’ (detail) Giclée print on archival paper of a manipulated video image. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection. The image of the late Brian Jones has nothing to do with this selection of music. We just happen to love it!

LEM Vol 214

2021 On A Positive Note With Pela

Here we are, at last, a new year. This is not just another new year, this is different, 2021 means the end of four extraordinary, incomprehensible, difficult – fill in the blank – years. Although we have fascinating guests and conversations already lined up for the new year, many of the topics cover distressing and serious topics. I decided the first edition of Life Elsewhere 2021 should start on a positive note. 

The music of Hannah and Olly aka, Pela caught my attention early in 2020. Since then and over the past year, while in isolation in Brighton on the UK’s south coast, this remarkable and talented duo have been carefully choreographing a series of brilliant new releases. I made a point of capturing them for an interview before they were swept away into stardom. 

This is my original introduction to Pela from July 17, 2020

Popular music has always been about image. From the brazen eighteen-year-old truck driver in Memphis, Tennessee who donned showy pimp-like garb slicked his not-yet jet-black hair into a pompadour, grew sideburns and applied eyeliner and rouge – to the spotty youth from Aberdeen, Washington with straggly blond hair and a habit for raggedy urchin-look cardigans,  image was all-important. It still is today. Recently,  I pondered on the relevance of image while chatting via Zoom to Hannah Coombes and Olly Shelton, who go by the moniker of Pela. The South London duo had made a couple of singles which led to my enthusiastic raving, in turn requesting an interview. Looking at the poised couple via Zoom I couldn’t resist mentioning how lovely they are. “You’re gorgeous!” I blurted out. But, my sense of what is politically correct stymied my urge to babble on about Hannah and Olly’s fabulous camera-ready looks. We are here to talk about Pela’s intriguing music, I reminded myself. Their singles, You Got Me and South Of are so good I included them back-to-back in Life Elsewhere Music Vol. 187Hannah’s sensual voice with Olly’s manipulated sounds presents a “now” sound with honest references to the best of past popular music. The duo has a distinctive sound that is thankfully difficult to categorize. Listen closely to the start of You Got Me, is that a needle dropping on a scratchy disc? The tinkered-with title is repeated then Hannah’s crystal-clear vocals come in as a plaintive piano coda plays with a guitar or processed “other” sounds appearing here and there. More manipulated vocals and the tune fades with a morse-code-like sound emanating from who knows what source Olly has played with. South Of opens with a keyboard riff or maybe it’s a processed guitar, after all in our chat Olly makes it clear he enjoys disguising the original sounds and instruments. Again, Hannah’s voice delivers emotive words. Is this a love song? Is she in despair of a lover leaving? Does South Of (Something) mean it’s all over? The absence of obvious drums with a bass directing the beat adds to the mystery. Olly’s deft hand at the mixing board and digital production are ion fine display on this track. Their latest release, Reverie sounds so familiar as it begins. You cannot help feeling you’ve heard this cut before. It’s that good. Except, it’s completely new. A sax appears to confirm this is an original masterwork of pop music. The title and the lyrics almost contradict Hannah’s seemingly laid-back delivery. She’s questioning, “Are we in reverie?” What happened? An unrequited love affair? “I think we might be holding on” she offers. Reverie sounds nothing like Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, yet here is a song with the same magic formula that’ll have you singing along with the chorus. Hannah and Olly very kindly allowed us to include an as-yet-unreleased track to round out the show, All The Way (With Me). Here Olly gets busy from the opening with processed vocal samples. Is that Hannah at a different pitch? The blips and beats could be micro edits of well anything…is that Hannah in reverse? We catch glimpses of lyrics, “All the way with me”, “In the morning sun…”. This is the most abstract of Pela’s work so far. It drives along with a percussive beat that will surely turn out to be anything but percussion. Then, All The Way (With Me) stops suddenly leaving the listener wanting more. Hannah and Olly are engaging, honest, and forthright. They make wonderful, innovative music and yes, they are delightful to look at.

A couple of weeks before the end of 2020, Pela sent me their superb cover of The Sundays, Heres Where The Story Ends. A fitting song to close out 2020.

Happy New Year!

Norman B January 1, 2021

The instrumental heard at the close of this show: I’m Very Sad by Clogs

Show 405

2020. That Was The Year That Was!

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As I write this, there is less than a week to go in 2020. I imagine the history books will be filled with seemingly never-ending footnotes about the past twelve months. And the headlines will probably start with something like, “A Year Like No Other”. Yes, it has been an extraordinary year, one we all wish was already over. At Life Elsewhere we covered so many topics and spoke with a wide variety of guests. So, to begin the last edition of Life Elsewhere of 2020 we start with a journey back in time to the first week of 2020 when we asked seven guests to give their predictions for the coming year. First up is, Anthropologist Agustin Fuentes who was not referring to a pandemic when he suggests, “Here’s the big one, a lot more people are going to lose hope!” Musician, Erika Bach speaking from her home in Greece continued in the same vain with, “Most of my predictions are going to be negative.” While Penguin – Random House chief copy, Benjamin Dreyer was little more optimistic. Film critic, Bob Ross said he was out of the loop and self-proclaimed hillbilly soul singer, Ronny Elliott predicted more hope, but little change. Author and regular contributor to Life Elsewhere, Mark Haskell Smith reasoned that we would all work towards a more healthier planet. Then rising-star British singer-songwriter, Arlo Parks predicted young people would get together to make a change in our world, yet she modestly did not predict her own success in 2020

I interviewed many authors in 2020, John Tierney co-authored the timely, The Power Of Bad – How the Negative Effect Rules Us And How We Can Rule It, and Caitlin Moscatello almost brought me to tears with the opening of her book, See Jane Win. For our Valentine’s day special we asked the guests two questions. You’ll the honest and moving answers from the talented Sylken Somers

No matter how many topics we covered in 2020, we couldn’t get away from you-know-who. A fitting example is Shakespeare In A Divided America by James Shapiro. Conversations with new music discoveries are always a feature of Life Elsewhere, so it was a pleasure to gather together the members of Brighton-based, Slum Of Legs. Their music was, of course, discussed but our chat veered off into other areas, including body image. Vagablonde, the brilliant debut novel by LA-based author, Anna Dorn led us into learning about the author’s opinion on sex and sexuality. 

2020 will be remembered for a long long time for Covid. Agustin Fuentes gave us his anthropologist’s take on what it all means for the future and how we can learn from the past. 

As “social distancing” became an everyday phrase, we talked about it on the show, often. Comedian, Dave Hill alarmed by the restriction on earning a living shared his idea for coping – learn to play an instrument, well – like a banjo. If there has been any good to come out of this horrible global situation, it has to be the outpouring of creative talent. In Italy, Andrea Vascellari compiled a superb benefit album, Love In The Time Of Covid from musicians he loved. To close the show, beautiful music from an artist featured on the album, Barzin

Much will be written about 2020, we all have our own stories, some of us have lost dear friends, partners, lovers, relatives, it has all been far more than we deserve. I have been in isolation for over nine months producing Life Elsewhere we have covered an enormous number of topics on the show and spoken with wonderful guests, far too many to include in this brief overview of 2020, you can hear all the shows from the past year over at Mixcloud or right here at the Listen page. I look forward to producing more Life Elsewhere shows in the coming year and I thank you for your continual support. I wish everyone a wonderful and happy new year.

Norman B 12.25.2020

Show #404

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