Tag Archives: music

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 240

As I type these notes for Volume 240 of LEM, it is pissing down outside. Torrents of rain have been causing havoc all night and day. Over-the-top thunder and lightning has caused Mr. Grumpy, the orange (ginger?) half-feral cat I feed, to shelter under the chair he usually poses on. I say half-feral ‘cause he just showed up one day about 15 years ago. No collar, no tag, and he wouldn’t allow any petting or human contact. He kept his distance, but he also hung around. Eventually, I gave him a bowl of cat food. He scoffed it down and came back for more. He’s been doing that about three times a day ever since. He still won’t tolerate any stroking or belly rubs. But, he does waft his rangy body around my legs when I present him with another helping of ridiculously expensive cat food. As the years have gone by he has become more and more vocal. These days it’s an indignant ME….OW!! if I don’t serve him food promptly, every time I open the door. We have taken upon a staring game. He always wins. I’m tempted to invite him in, but he never seems interested in crossing the threshold. So, he misses out on hearing all the new music I review. I have no idea if cats have an appreciation of any music, but I like to imagine that if Mr. Grumpy did venture inside, especially on a sodden day like today, he may settle down next to me and quietly digest each cut I play and perhaps give a flick of his tail in approval or dismissal. We begin with an artist I have been keeping my eye on for some time, Tizrah is back with a new album, Colourgrade recorded soon after the birth of her first child and shortly before her second child was born. Tizrah says, “The album explores recovery, gratitude and new beginnings”, adding “I discovered the type of love that is shared between a mother and a child for the first time, whilst simultaneously working as an artist”. Send Me explains all as she croons, “Let me in, now I’m sure”. Watch out for the surprising ending. Then, don’t let the almost cartoon-like Chinoise refrain fool you of Michael Sayer’s Little China Boy fool you. The LA-based musician is writing from experience. I’m familiar with his story. My son’s mother is Asian. He came home from school one day and innocently asked me, “Dad, a kid at school said I’m chinky – what does that mean?”. Michael’s album is A Good Fool, it’s excellent with cool artwork. His video for the single, Little China Boy is worth checking out not least of all for his splendid hair color. Love it. The Vovos are from Melbourne, Australia. The Vovos are Ada Duffy, Bethany Feik, Bianca Ayliffe, Lu Galante, Mika James, and Ruby Ayliffe. Their Jana EP is on Roolette Records. The single is Spring Cleaning. They are magnificent. A three-piece called Soursob is based in Glasgow, originating from Lithuania, Australia, and Glasgow. Blow is from their self-titled LP on HoZac Records out of Chicago who says, “The right kind of music for the wrong kind of people, since 2006”. Oh, what a gloriously good single. But, should I be concerned they are going on about cocaine? I think not, Soursob is being ironic, right? Girl Friday, a duo by way of New Zealand and LA knows how to write an engaging pop song as illustrated by I’m Impossible. Thos F sings songs and makes noises as Trees And Flowers and I enjoyed everything about their LP, Are You Broken? Take Cover and all the other songs here are by Seattle-based Thos F helped out on each cut by a collective of friends it would appear. The album is on Pelagoram Recordings and thumbs-ups for the striking artwork. Deep Sea Fish is from the album, Tangerine by Reiko and Tori Kudo. Recorded during winter and spring of 2011 and 2012 and just rereleased. Tangerine, they say is the culmination of over thirty years of experimentation, making this a touchstone of contemporary Japanese folk minimalism. Inspired by thick forests and nature of Lithuania, also by Baltic ethnic culture, Giriu Dvasios gives us Sanku from the LP, Dub Vibes Vol. 4. This is one you can put on and ask your dinner guests to select the country of origin – extra dessert for anyone who gets the answer right. Blackjack Illuminist Records is operated by a genial chap named, Alex. When he is not teaching elementary kids or running marathons, Alex dedicates himself to putting out exceptional releases. His latest, Ready To Drown is by Cologne-based duo, Adnan Abbas & Nadin who present as Verneblung. The video for Cracked Puppet is required viewing, featuring a beautiful solo male dancer whose body and movements are like a living anatomy lesson. Some while back a conversation I had with Colin Moulding, the legendary bassist for XTC has been downloaded scores of times. A new conversation is being arranged because Colin has a new solo single, The Hardest Battle.  I think you’ll agree, this has that distinctive, XTC/Moulding sound and we like that. London- based singer-producer, Satu says, Play The Game from their Technicolor Wreckage EP. Listen to this one carefully, so much going on and that voice – so good. Love the production! Make sure you check out the rest of Satu’s releases. The Ophelias are out of Cincinnati, their 3rd album Crocus deserves your attention. Take a listen to the cut we selected, Neil Young On High featuring Julian Baker. The Ophelias have been on my radar for some time as I regularly prompt adventurous PD’s to include them in their playlists. It goes without saying that when a new Benin City single arrives you know dancing is going to be the first priority at Life Elsewhere Towers. Josh, Shanaz, and Tom have produced a beauty with We Belong To Us. Not only is this a Pride anthem, but it’s also our summer anthem. Always right on the money is Benin City with their social and cultural observations and commentary, so much going on in this mix, that juxtaposition between Shanaz’s vocals and Josh’s voice, Tom is in there too, plus Tom on sax adds a brilliant touch to masterful recording. Mr. Grumpy gave me a threatening stare as I cranked up the volume to way past 11. He demanded more food, but I had Benin City on repeat play and signaled through the glass door for him to shelter from the rain and be patient. Enjoy!


  1. Tizrah – Send Me
  2. Michael Seyer – Little China Boy
  3. The Vovos – Spring Cleaning
  4. Soursob – Blow
  5. Girl Friday – I’m Impossible
  6. Trees And Flowers – Take Cover
  7. Reiko and Tori Kudo – Deep Sea Fish
  8. Giriu Dvasios – Sunku
  9. Verneblung – Cracked Puppet
  10. Colin Moulding – The Hardest Battle
  11. Satu – Play The GameThe
  12. Ophelias – Neil Young On High (Ft. Julian Baker)
  13. Benin City – We Belong To Us

Artwork by Stephen Brownwell “Sex headline” 24″ x 26″ 2011 mixed media on craft paper. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection

LEM Vol 240

Revisiting Challenging Covid With Music!

It will be one year ago on Sunday, April 25th, 2020 that we aired this show. 12 months later, Covid is still with us.

Barzin, the talented singer-songwriter, poet, all-round good guy, and friend of Life Elsewhere alerted us to a new compilation he had contributed a previously unreleased cut to. If Barzin was involved it had to be seriously worth checking out. We did. And, it is. “Love In The Time Of Covid” curated by Andrea Vascellari, is an exceptional collection of music. Based in North-East Italy where the virus has wreaked devastating havoc, Andrea took it upon himself to reach out to acts from the most relevant in slowcore, dreampop, and drone-rock scenes. He requested tracks that had not been released before. And, he explained, “All proceeds will go to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, supporting the World Health Organization’s work to track and understand the spread of the virus, to ensure patients get the care they need and the frontline workers get essential supplies and information, and to accelerate research and development of a vaccine and treatments for all who need them”. The seventeen tracks Andrea selected for “Love In The Time Of Covid” perfectly evoke this peculiar and unfathomable of times we are all enduring. Andrea Vascellari is a fan, he is a musician, he is passionate about bringing together this remarkable compilation to challenge Covid.

Please make sure you do not miss our exclusive conversation with Andrea Vascellari. And, support this cause.

LE Show 421




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


  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

Women In The Alcohol Industry With Hope Ewing. Recalling An Early Conversation With A Star – Arlo Parks

Veteran bartender Hope Ewing, had grown impatient with the surprisingly outdated perceptions of women in the alcohol industry. Entrepreneurial and ambitious, often the first in their fields, the women she knew in the business were leaders, mentors, and trailblazers. In her debut book, Movers & Shakers – Women Making Waves In Sprites, Beer, and Wine, Ewing seeks them out, to share their stories as well as valuable business advice and insight into a constantly evolving industry. In her travels across the country, Hope discovers how women are paving the way and creating a more inclusive and sustainable world full of delicious drinks. Los Angeles-based Hope Ewing talks about her book and the important women involved in the alcohol industry with Norman B and shares the recipe for her favorite cocktail, Where In The World Is Tuan Lee. Here are the ingredients, make one, sip it leisurely as you listen to the conversation.

11/2 ounces Diplomatico

1/2 ounce Batavia Arrack

3/4 ounce Byrrh

1/4 ounce Bigallet China-China

Pour over 1 large ice cube with a grapefruit twist


A lot can happen in a couple of years, especially if you display extraordinary talent while still at high school. When we first discovered Arlo Parks, she explained to Norman B that she had school-homework to complete and hoped she wouldn’t get too distracted. At that time the 18-year-old singer-songwriter-poet had just released her debut single, Cola. We were raving on about her ability to write so confidently with such mature lyrics. Then, we got to hear Arlo talk about her music and herself. She spoke so assuredly, we quickly forget she still had school-homework. Yet, even though Arlo chose her words carefully, she never sounded precocious. Instead, she came across as poised while remaining wide-eyed and ready to learn. She managed to be charming and completely unrehearsed. We knew on listening to Arlo Parks talk, there was no doubt that she was a special talent who would not allow herself to be easily engulfed into the fragility of stardom. As you listen to Arlo chat with Norman B, expect to be captivated and remember her music is now on every discerning playlist. We congratulate Arlo Parks on her wonderful success, which is truly well-deserved.

Arlo Parks’ latest single is Caroline

Show 40

Streetlight Harmonies

Brent Wilson

“The main thing was all the girls used to come to the best group. And we were the best group … they used to come and crowd and load up our corner.” The Drifters’ Charlie Thomas on the motivation for starting a vocal group, then he pauses and looks off-screen and says, “Excuse me wife, those were my younger days.” This is just one of the many evocative scenes in the new independent documentary, Streetlight Harmonies. Director, Brent Wilson talked to Norman B about the making of a film which surprisingly, is the first to seriously explore the origins of Doo-Wop. The music is so very familiar, yet few people know the artists. Streetlight Harmonies traces the history of the genre from its street-corner origins through to 60s girl groups and beyond. The film is masterfully put together featuring interviews with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, “Little” Anthony Gourdine, Lance Bass, and the Crystals’ La La Brooks, among others, as well as restored archival footage. The documentary also touches on the problems the vocal harmony groups faced performing in the segregated South, an issue so pertinent today. During our conversation with Brent Wilson, you’ll hear clips from Streetlight Harmonies and the director’s high regard for the artists and enthusiasm for their influential music.

Show #379

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