Tag Archives: IRN

A Conversation With Rebecca Handler

After reading, Edie Richter Is Not Alone, the outstanding debut novel from Rebecca Handler, the big question was how do you talk to the author about her surprising book without revealing the “secret” I prepared myself by taking my time in reading a book that taunts you to immerse yourself in the tragicomic stylized writing and devour it in one sitting. Instead, I forced myself to gobble up Handler’s cleverly observant prose over three evenings. It was a struggle, but it was worth it. Rebecca Handler’s writing is so smart, so clever, she craftily intends you to not put her book down. I began our conversation with, “possum”. A reasonable start, the first sentence in Edie Richter Is Not Alone is, “The possum is dead”. From there, Rebecca Handler explained that Edie Richter is married, childless by choice, and moving from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father, but Edie has a secret, she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. Edie Richter narrates her experience of complicated grief with brutal accuracy. As you read, you discover along with Edie herself what happened to an oddly ordinary wife and daughter, who in her stunned anguish resembles all of us. 

   

Also in the program, new music out of Hull in the UK, from accomplished musician Katie Spencer, along with Alan Thompson & Spencer Cozens give us a beautiful version of the late John Martyn’s Hurt In Your Heart. The legendary British songwriter, guitarist, and singer, born Iain David McGeachy in London, 1948, sadly died in 2009. Katie Spencer pays tribute to Martyn with Cozens and Spencer, two longstanding members of his band. The recording sessions for the three-track EP, Hurt In Your Heart were captured as live performances. Plus, new music from an artist who describes herself as, “A 15-year-old singer-songwriter from Leigh-on-sea in Essex and I have been writing music for a couple of years now. Here I am with my first EP. I started solely on piano, but I have really enjoyed pushing my guitar and vocals too“. Her name is Ruby Hickman, the two tracks I chose are, I Hate You and the title cut, The Fake You. A talent to keep a watchful eye out for. 

Norman B April 10, 2021

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What Animals May Tell Us About Aliens. A Return Visit With Katherine May.

                                   

Was Arik Kershenbaum’s intent in writing, The Zoologist’s Guide To The Galaxy to make the reader reconsider – everything? To look at our world from a new perspective? “Yes!” the zoologist, College Lecturer, and Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge responds rapidly. His new book will not only make you think, you’ll also find yourself wanting to share your discoveries. Kershenbaum has a quirky, yet delightful knack of setting up a question, answering it, then questioning what you’ve just learned. He is a gifted storyteller who uses colloquialisms and common-day language, while his studious research is paraded before us without a hint of laborious, long-winded academia. The book gallops along at an agreeable speed, yet never once do you feel the author is only giving you a précis of his knowledge. Arik says Scientists are confident that life exists elsewhere in the universe. However, while we often imagine that life on other planets is the stuff of science fiction, the time has come to abandon our fantasies of space invaders and movie monsters and instead place our expectations on a solid scientific footing. Short of aliens landing in New York City, how do we know what they are like? Could there be an alien planet with supersonic animals? A moon where creatures have a language composed of smells? Will aliens scream with fear, act honestly, or have technology? Kirksenbaum draws on his own expert understanding of life on Earth and Darwin’s theory of evolution, which applies throughout the universe to answer these questions and more. The Zoologist’s Guide To The Galaxy is an engrossing book. Arik Kershenbaum will open your eyes to the marvels of our planet and the universe beyond.

Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power Of Rest And Retreat In Difficult Times returns to the program to talk about where we are now at the second anniversary of the Covid pandemic. Katherine wrote her book before she or we had any knowledge of Covid 19. The unlikely timeliness of her book was and still is remarkable. Katherine has insights into what we have all been going through in the last year, not least of all because she had written a personal narrative about the unexpected. In the conversation, Katherine shares her thoughts about coping and explores the ways we can repair ourselves when life knocks us down.

Over on Life Elsewhere Music Vol 225, talented Liverpool-based duo, King Hannah offers a remarkable cover of Bruse Springsteen’s State Trooper. Plus, sixty minutes of very cool new releases.

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A Conversation With King Hannah

They look like they just stepped out of a photoshoot for ID magazine circa 1979 or it could be 2025. Their potent music, like their striking image, is an alluring reverent homage to a past they could have invented, perfectly and seamlessly blended into a brilliant foretaste of the future. Hannah Merrick and Craig Whittle are King Hannah. Their moniker is clever, a deadpan kick in the shins of conformity and gender identity. Yet, Hannah nonchalantly says, “Oh, it’s a name I came up with ages ago, I thought it sounded good. So we used it”. That’s the thing about these two, everything is all matter-of-fact. There are no pretensions, no deliberate persona they are eager to get across. When they are told that Crème Brûlée is an incredibly sexy song, they both sound surprised. Craig, between a chuckle or two, says, “Just look at us!” We did and we like what we see. The authenticity of King Hannah is right up front, their music does not mess about. “We’re determined to get it right”, says Hannah They genuinely enjoy making music together “We know when to finish a song without even looking at each other,” Hannah shares. There is so much going on in their debut EP, Tell Me You Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, it’s almost impossible to grasp the depth of pure rock ’n’ roll spirituality that shines through on every track. There are so many ghosts channeling their voices through Hannah and Craig, they are harvesting the fruits to create vital music. Listen carefully to our conversation, then indulge in their music.   

Because of time constraints and we wanted you to hear everything Hannah and Craig had to say, we edited a couple of their songs. You are advised to make sure you get your own copy of Tell Me You Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine.

Playlist

  1. Meal Deal 
  2. The Sea Has Stretch Marks
  3. Bill Tench
  4. Crème Brûlée

 

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Life Elsewhere Music Vol 223

To begin, we visit the beautiful Emerald Isle to hear from John F. Phelan and Stephen Byrne who use the moniker, One Morning In August. Their excellent new single, Get It Right on Cork-based indie label, FIFA Records is a stellar production that should prompt you to check out their self-titled album which was released…wait for it…last August. We stay in Ireland to hear from A Cow In The Water with O Preacher from their long-player, Dark Country Jamboree. This band from County Cork was an integral part of the Cork live music scene in the late Eighties and early Nineties and were regulars at venues around the country. Then, the band’s frontman, Aidan O’Connell sadly passed away in 1996 effectively calling an end to almost 10 years of live performances. The remaining band members went on to separate projects but occasionally gathered for impromptu performances. In late 2017 A Cow In The Water reformed with John Lynch who previously was the drummer with, Emperor of Ice Cream, and began work on their new LP. A tip: do check out the whole LP. Francis Lung is next with Bad Hair Day. A well-produced cut, showcasing Mr. Lung’s competent ability to write and perform a genuinely good pop song. In my voice-over commentary, it may come across like I’m being a little sarcastic, apologies for that, instead, I was intending to give kudos to Francis. Kylie Van Slyke from Vancouver BC says on their Twitter page, “Hey, I’m Kylie V, I’m 17 and non-binary, and I make music that will probably mostly make you sad”. I mention this because I think it is important that we all should be respectful of everyone’s sexual identity. Performing as Kylie V the title cut from their album, Big Blue is yes, sad, at the same time Kylie proves such confident songwriting and singing and production. You should also know that the Canadian government believes in supporting the arts. They helped Kylie V on this one. An essential LP. There is so much to talk about with Leg Puppy and their latest album, A Guide To Social Remixing. Not least of all, their questionable penchant for dressing up as clowns. I admit clowns scare me. I suspect that will warm Leg Puppy’s little hearts. The South London band conjure up decidedly good music, Bring The War (Wake Me When It’s Gone) being a fine example, although there are at least four other cuts I could have selected. Leg Puppy like to make videos with a deliberate DIY look. They have a lot to view, all worth your time. As I was finalizing this playlist news came in that the last surviving member of the original Wailers had passed. One Neville O’Riley Livingston also known as Bunny Livingston or Bunny Wailer…dead at the age of 73 just a couple of months short of his 74th birthday. Long considered a living legend, the Rastafarian singer-songwriter a winner of a number of Grammy awards was named recently by Newsweek as one of the three most important musicians in world music!  As a tribute, I’m going to take you back in time to circa 1972 when Bunny Wailer was known for his smooth Rock Steady stylings. Recorded at Tuff Gong and released as a 7” on the Solomonic label, Search For Love. Rest In Peace, Bunny Wailer. Staying on a reggae tip, we turn to producer, Richie Phoe with his brilliant reworking of Jacob Miller’s reggae classic, Baby I Love You So. Richie is joined by Kassia Zermon & Leroy Horns on vocals & sax.This one is available as a limited edition 7” and as a digital release on Balanced records. Listen carefully as I segue into Baby I Dub You So. Sometimes you just have to see the video created for a song, don’t miss, End Of The Road by Israeli singer, Noga Erez strutting her stuff with an aloofness most high fashion models would crave to master. The Tel Aviv-based artist has a terrific look which only enhances her rapid-fire rapping. Very cool. Here is a name I want you to take note of, Bleach Lab. Now, I know some of you trainspotter types will be stomping over each other to shout out, “Sounds like!” Yet, give Bleach Lab a chance, please, Never Be is from a two-track single by the four-piece originally from Buckinghamshire, now based in South London. They formed in 2018 and I’m seriously looking forward to hearing more from this excellent quartet. Play it again and again. Lucy Kruger says her new album, Transit Tapes, is for women who move furniture around. Now, I’m not sure if that is a threat, but what I do know is Evening Train from Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys has me intrigued. From what I can gather, Lucy Kruger is originally from South Africa but now resides in Berlin and I’m going to keep a watchful eye out for more of her and the band. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, compilations are a terrific way to learn about a certain style of music or label or even a place. Here then out of Paris, a tasty comp on Hologram Records titled, Darkives. Marina P offers us a first-class production with Watching Over. You are advised to don your headset for this one and turn the volume up to 11. Wicked production. The final cut in LEM Vol 223 is Eggshells from the EP Belonging by Joely who says, “I’m 20. I write soulful, relaxed pop”. This talented singer-songwriter from Oxford has created a radio-friendly single. Splendid arraignment and production. Thank you for listening. 

LEM Vol 223 Playlist

  1. One Morning In August – Get It Right
  2. A Cow In The Water – O Preacher
  3. Francis Lung – Bad Hair Day
  4. Kylie V – Big Blue
  5. Leg Puppy – Bring The War (Wake Me When It’s Gone)
  6. Bunny Wailer – Search For Love
  7. Richie Phoe – Baby I Love You So
  8. Richie Phoe – Baby I Dub You So
  9. Noga Erez – End Of The Road
  10. Bleach Lab – Never Be
  11. Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys – Evening Train
  12. Marina P – Watching Over
  13. Joely – Eggshells

The artwork for this volume is by Skip Mathewson “Mum, I’m bleeding” 2000 4’ x 4’ Giclée print on archival paper. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

A Conversation With Chip Jacobs

If you are going to write a crime thriller, what are the essential ingredients? Well, how about a big helping of murder, mix in a generous portion of blackmail, spice everything up with a layer of greed, add a dollop or two of 1979 Los Angeles, and sprinkle in a shiny El Camino. Pasadena-based writer, Chip Jacobs has perfected the recipe with his latest book, The Darkest Glare. Only there is one important ingredient Mr. Jacobs has no option but to admit to – his new crime thriller is true, all of it. The Darkest Glare reads like a grotesquely macabre fantasy it also has moments of absurd hilarity. Yet despite, Chip Jacobs’s undoubted ability to create a dark twisted tale, he readily agrees, even he could not have come up with such a bizarre cast of characters, or a plot with more twists and turns than a bowl of spaghetti. Mr. Jacobs tells the tale with a steady hand and crystal-clear eye. He spares no details yet he skillfully moves the story along at a feverish pace. Below the surface, this is a story of personal failure and hidden vulnerability. As the story unfolds Chip paints the complexity of real people instead of presenting two-dimensional villains. Like his book, Jacobs verve for explaining the details makes for a fascinating guest.

Just as we were putting this show together, news came in that the last surviving member of the original Wailers had passed. Jamaican-born Neville O’Riley Livingston also known as Bunny Livingston or Bunny Wailer was dead at the age of 73 just a couple of months short of his 74th birthday. Long considered a living legend, the Rastafarian singer-songwriter winner of a number of Grammy awards was named recently by Newsweek as one of the three most important musicians in world music. For a tribute, we take you back in time to circa 1981 to hear Bunny Wailer’s, Rise and Shine, a 12” platter on Solomonic Records. Rest In Peace, sir.

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