I’m in the process of figuring out a few things about this site and what I do with it. There are a lot of clever people out there who see the humble blog making something of a comeback. I guess that’s something of a kickback against social media platforms and their restrictions. On a blog you can say what you want, how you want.
I’ve been going back through the archives of the site (and there are a lot of them—I’ve been on WordPress since 2005, and Blogger for a few years before that). It’s interesting to see how X&HT started as a ‘web log’ in the truest sense of the word. That is, a way of sharing what you’d been up to on the web. To a point, early X&HT looked a lot like my Twitter stream—links, snarks and short-form thoughts.
I think there’s some benefit to that format. Once a week, therefore, I’m going to try and post out some of the things I’ve found of interest in my travels through the aetherscape. I hope you find it of benefit. Call it a kind of cuttings collection.
In fact, let’s just call it The Cut.
Jason Isbell’s latest album, Reunions, drops today. His honest, unflinching music resonates hard with me, and has done since his days with Drive-By Truckers. In a typically wide-open interview, Isbell talks about how making Reunions nearly destroyed his marriage. You’ll never look at Listerine the same way…
The Quietus has a great piece on Island Records’ head honcho Chris Blackwell’s attempt to build a distinctive sound for his label around a crack team of house musicians and engineers. The end result—an almost perfect trio of albums from the magnificent and terrifying Grace Jones.
It’s a heavily music-based Cut this week, helped no end by the fact that it’s Eurovision weekend. There’s a bunch of special shows on Saturday, making the most of a bad situation following the event’s cancellation—best bits, and showcases of some of this year’s entrants. My history with Eurovision has always been a bit contentious. On two separate occasions I swore I’d never watch again. My position has mellowed as I’ve grown up, and now Eurovision is a highlight, in whatever form it takes.
Here’s a post from the X&HT archives in which I celebrate a true high point of the competition—the 2016 Swedish-hosted show. Love Love Peace Peace!
Dave Strickson is doing every music fan a favour by posting high-quality links to most of the BBC Radio John Peel sessions. This is an absolute treasure trove with something for everyone. Don’t assume this is an endless litany of Fall b-sides and indie clangulation. Go on, dive in!
Moving away from music finally, it would be remiss of me not to loudly praise an amazing oral history of the endlessly fraught production nightmare that led to Mad Max Fury Road. Frankly, given the stones in director George Miller’s path, it is astonishing that a single frame was ever shot. I’m reminded of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote which had a similarly cursed production. On the Fury Road, the ride makes the journey worthwhile.
And finally… I miss pubs. I miss pubs so much. It’s difficult to walk down into Caversham past The Last Crumb and know we can’t pop in for a swiftie. Tristan Cross also misses pubs—so much so that he ended up building a version of his local in VR. Did it hit the mark? It’s no spoiler to say it’s not the same, but the work and passion Tristan puts into the project shines through. When the doors of Skehan’s in Nunhead reopens, someone owes him a pint.
To finish, something from the band that gave this site its name. I guess this one sums up the way we’re all feeling at the moment. See you next week.