Sunday, December 29, 2013

the top 10 albums and songs of 2013

2013 was probably my favourite year for music since I started doing these countdown things. There's been so much great stuff around. Hopefully what follows goes some way to demonstrating that.
Note: As usual, an artist can only appear in the top 10 singles list or albums list, not both.

Top 10 Albums of 2013

1. Kanye West - Yeezus
2. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of The City
3. James Blake - Overgrown
4. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
5. Arctic Monkeys - AM
6. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
7. Janelle MonĂ¡e - The Electric Lady
8. Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap
9. Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind
10. Matthew E. White - Big Inner

You can also hear a sample track from each album as a Youtube playlist. It's a fairly abrasive listen I suppose.

Top 10 Songs of 2013

1. Chase & Status - Lost & Not Found
2. Stylo G - Soundbwoy
3. Chris Malinchak - So Good To Me
4. Justin Timberlake - Mirrors
5. Daft Punk - Lose Yourself To Dance
6. Sia (ft. The Weeknd & Diplo) - Elastic Heart
7. Duck Sauce - It's You
8. MS MR - Hurricane (CHVRCHES remix)
9. Eminem - Rap God
10. Nils Frahm - Says

You can also hear all ten songs as a Youtube playlist. It's quite a poppy selection.

Anybody looking for a more general review can find the 52 best songs of the year in my 2013 mixtape on Spotify here:

Archive fans, meanwhile can also look up my top 10 albums from 2012, 20112010, 20092008 and 2007, and the singles countdowns from 2012, 20112010,200920082007 and 2006. SEASONS GREETINGS xxx

Sunday, July 21, 2013

who is still about in glastonbury's stone circle at 1:37pm monday afternoon? let's find out.

On Sunday the main stages at Glastonbury finish at the reasonable time of 11:15pm. After that, those that are so inclined can find any number of smaller clubs, stages and installations littered throughout the festival, at which they can party through the night.

It’s tradition, though, to gather at the Stone Circle at roughly 5am to watch the sunrise over the entire site. It’s a particularly nice tradition on a Sunday, as a delightful way to round off a weekend.

Of course, any sensible person would send themselves off to bed shortly after, with a happy hippie spring in their step, ready to return to the regular world when they wake up. What, though, of the people who stay at the stone circle? Of the folk that are still there when most people have already packed up and left the site?

I trek back to said Stone Circle at 1:37pm Monday afternoon to find out. I meet Michelle and Noah at 1:42pm at the top of the hill overlooking the field. She introduces herself, saying “I’ve just been swinging from the ancient tree by the ancient dragon. It was pretty mystical.” They ask me where I’ve been, and I say asleep for the last three hours. They’re naturally warm, and curious: “What’s sleep like? How does it make your brain feel?” Noah asks. They tell me they last slept two days ago. “I kind of feel like the less sleep, the more you can get on the wavelength of these people who are feeling pretty groggy themselves.”

What have they been doing up until now? “All love, and joy, and prancing and dancing and romancing” Michelle says. “This place is like a medieval village, and the sky is so beautiful”, offers Noah. “The skyyyyyyyy” Michelle agrees. What time would you like to stay awake until? “Until we bleed. Although he’s already bled.” What’s been their favourite moment of the festival? Everything. EVERYTHING!”, Michelle screams. “Probably a hogroast”, offers Noah.

Sensing I’ve brought him down slightly, I leave Michelle and Noah to further contemplate his hog roast.

I find Abby and her friends, who have been sitting inside the Stone Circle since 3am. What’s been going on up here for the last ten hours? “Little mobile music machines. 30 transvestites from New York. There were some drums, and then a women got involved with her flute, and that was ridiculously good.”

How long would you like to stay in the Stone Circle for? “Forever, probably, would be really good.” She pauses. “If they had a shower, toilet and tea making facilities.”

Fearing I may be about to bring Abby down slightly, I exit and find a friendly, close-knit couple called Cirus and Louise. Louise immediately asks me “Would you like a drop of red spring water from the mouth of the lion?” I decline, but by way of explanation, she offers, in full poetic flow...
“There are seven sacred springs of Avalon,
that rise from the land that we stand upon
Each a different medicine with its own special magic,
we can bring miracle healing from remissions of the tragic
For underneath the ground on which we stand,
are the meridians of the planet, the dragon lines,
the ley lines, linking the world up. To Stoke.”

This gets a deservedly big round of applause, even though I’m a bit confused about the Stoke bit.

What happened in the Stone Circle tonight? “Lots. Mainly good vibrations.” offers Cirus. They then show me their purple Good Vibe Ray Gun, which makes a spaceship sound. “There’s been a lot of love, and happiness and enjoyment” Cirus adds, perhaps unhappy with his first answer. They then use their Good Vibe Ray Gun to shoot some good vibes into my heart. “I am so, so, so in love with my partner”, Cirus adds, by now looking Louise in the eyes. Did you guys meet at Glastonbury? “No, no we’ve known each other forever”, Cirus says, a little ambiguously. “We’ve been bimbling around the site in the most amazing way. Not using a fucking festival guide, and not having an idea of what’s coming next. Just enjoying the fucking moment for what it is” “It’s not about getting what you want, it’s about wanting what you get”, they add in well-rehearsed unison.

So what’s their favourite thing about Glastonbury? “The connection between everyone.” Cirus says. “Good vibes, good vibes” Louise adds, before shooting me with the Good Vibe Ray Gun again. “For everybody to be in the same place and to hug each other, and be on the same level, which is love and peace. Everyone can just be in love with each other. We can all just live on the land, like this, for our whole lives, and not have to live in cities.” So how long have you guys been together? “It’s only been since sunrise”, says Noah. “But it’s definitely forever.” “It’s definitely been forever”, Louise adds. I wish them well, knowing that I couldn’t possibly bring their mood down. Perhaps because my heart has been successfully filled with good vibes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

campaign to get a street in king's cross named 'muldoon avenue'.

There's a competition afoot to name one of ten new streets in King's Cross. I would like one of these streets to be named 'Muldoon Avenue'. So I have entered the competition.

The competition website states:
We would welcome suggestions that have a strong link to King’s Cross, but other names will be considered. Put simply, we want people to suggest appropriate, interesting and engaging names for the new streets.
All names will have to be consistent with Camden Council’s guidelines on the naming of streets.
 Armed with these instructions, I entered the following reasons why I think a road should be named 'Muldoon Avenue'.

  • Muldoon is an Irish surname. 'Muldoon Avenue' would be a nod to the Irish history in King's Cross, as The Pogues formed in the area. Everybody likes The Pogues.
  • It's my Dad's surname, and I think having a street named after him would make him really proud. Especially as I don't think I can be bothered to give him a grandson, which I think he'd prefer. So you'd really be helping me get out of that one.
  • According to my research, there's only one street in the UK to namecheck the surname; Muldoon Park in Omagh, Northern Ireland. And it's a really really tiny street. This doesn't seem reasonable, as it's quite a good surname isn't it. Plus there are LOADS of streets with Muldoon in their name in the USA. And do you know where's better than the USA? King's Cross.
  • It's my surname as well. I would like a street named after me. It would be mad japes.

    Many thanks in advance,
    Mark Muldoon.

The competition is open until the end of May. If you agree that this is a valid, nay, important campaign, why not give the reasons why you think a street in King's Cross should be named 'Muldoon Avenue' over on the competition website. Thank you for your time.

Monday, April 22, 2013

nottingham’s new tourism campaign in london is the finest advertising i have ever seen

Dear fellow Londoners,

I imagine, like me, you’ve already spent much of 2013 gazing at the bare summer months in your calendar app, painfully aware of how most years this season passes unfilled, each of us lonely and imprisoned in our respective dwelling-houses. Perhaps also like me then, you sensed a great weight lift from your shoulders recently, as posters went up across our city’s transport network (two spotted so far!) showcasing events forthcoming not here, but up the country a little bit, in my home county of Nottinghamshire.

Please, at this juncture, take a moment to admire the above poster. The more astute observers amongst you will by now have realised that it appears to be advertising some manner of medium sized outdoor concert. And so let us linger in order to further admire the impeccable timing of this poster campaign. For as only the canniest of Nottingham’s marketing brains will have noticed, London has been cruelly starved of medium sized music events in recent years. Quality entertainers simply don’t gravitate to this city. The situation has become quite dire, with people being spotted wandering around various London parks, listening to Smooth Radio, and trying to imagine a way of seeing such hits performed by the people that wrote them.

But puzzle no longer, wandering citizens of England’s capital! A plucky city in the North has rushed to our aid. The less cool-headed Londoner might slap their head in embarrassment, that none of their own had hit upon such a winning event formula. Although I know it will take a degree of swallowing our pride to depart our city for Nottinghamshire, I hope my fellow Londoners will be as commendably mature as I am, and join me on that journey.

If that seems impossible, and you tire of gazing North with your thinly veiled jealousy, let us instead examine our advertisement in question with the appropriately mature admiration that it deserves. Alongside the totemic headliners the London music industry have been kicking and screaming in its attempts to book for years – Blondie and Paloma Faith – we see a number of other borderline arrogant claims. Aside from the brash assertion to hold 12 of some fantastical creation called ‘music venues’ (
presumably 11 now), one also notes that apparently, (and please fellow Londoner, steady yourself before reading on) Nottingham has given birth to “one top album artist”.

Well, I can only assume you are also in stunned silence. The only course of action remaining appears to be damage limitation, and so I issue a critical warning to my fellow capital dwellers, not yet versed in the beauty of England’s green and pleasant county: book those train tickets early. Once summer finally rolls around St. Pancras will verge on riotous scenes for the hordes of culture starved capital-dwellers fighting for a place on a train to get to a city where a person has produced a successful album. Let alone
a person as admirably refined as Jake Bugg.

In closing, I can only enter a plea to the Gatekeepers of Nottingham: act with greater delicacy in future! Be sensitive to our already blindly jealous eyes! Did NBC advertise their US presidential election coverage across Syria? London life is a daily struggle as it is. I just ask for our plight not to be rubbed in our faces. Many, many thanks, and obviously, see you in June.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

india goes indie at the nh7 weekender - guardian article

This article was originally published on here.

The Raghu Dixit Project  
The big Weekender … The Raghu Dixit Project perform onstage at NH7 in India. Photograph: Stephen Budd

It can be difficult when travelling by train in India to ensure you disembark at the correct city. Especially when it's 5am, and everybody around you is busy giggling at your pronunciation. We're in Pune (pronounced Poo-nay, apparently) for the second year of the NH7 Weekender. India has a smattering of music festivals, but these are mostly traditional events or trance affairs aimed at tourists unable to wait for their Ibiza kicks. NH7 is an attempt to create a Glastonbury, or perhaps more precisely, Lovebox-style event in India.

India's middle class is now estimated at more than 300 million people – that's a lot of folk with disposable income, internet access, and perhaps an interest in exploring non-traditional culture.

"There aren't any Indian festivals that concentrate on non-Bollywood music," NH7 co-organiser Stephen Budd explains. "The view was Indian audiences would never want to go." A few years ago Budd's business partner, Vijay Nair, was struggling to fill a five-band bill in Mumbai, now they're both filling festival schedules. Understandably perhaps, Budd says they faced skepticism. "The industry view was there's not enough interest in things that aren't Bollywood led. [Myself and Vijay] lamented that the only British acts visiting India then were the Stings and Simply Reds of the world, when kids wanted to see Mumford and Sons and Basement Jaxx, but no one was bringing them over."

Fans desperate to see the few western acts playing India have lately encountered a second problem: this year has been disastrous for gig cancellations, including Bryan Adams, Akon and Metallica.

This organisational chaos is something NH7 wants to put right. Arriving on site, the event feels clean and well mapped out, in a country with a reputation for the opposite. We never wait more than 60 seconds for one of the (regularly cleaned) Portaloos. There's a buzz in the air – none of the acts are received poorly. "Has anybody heard of grime music?" London's Riz MC asks the crowd. Three people cheer. But no one is standing still once introductions have been made.

The festival programme advises "getting from one stage to another will require a fair amount of walking". But it took us less than four minutes to get from one end of the site to the other. Not exactly Glastonbury, then.

There's corporate branding. For most of ex-Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction's set, a vodka logo is dragged around the screen like a four-year-old playing Etch A Sketch. India is a fan of brash marketing, and here it is overwhelming. As are the lineup changes, which seem to occur throughout the day. Thankfully, everybody on site is tweeting so it's easy to keep them updated. And aside from the music, there's plenty going on. There's a convention of 30 tattoo artists on site. Fans can pay for food, drinks and merchandise via an impressive system of RFID cards and micropayments. With the same cards they can also choose to log performances they watch and have the story of their weekend automatically updated on Facebook. Well, that was the idea – the system collapses minutes after the gates open and stays down all weekend.

Indian acts get the biggest reception. The audience for the secret set by Mumbai rockers Zero is easily the most frenzied of the weekend. The mass singalongs when the Raghu Dixit Project play Mysore Se Aayi and Indian Ocean play Bandeh rival the most euphoric Glastonbury moments.

An almighty party closes the festival on Sunday night, as artists from across the bill collaborate on covering western hits (Blur and Metallica ) and Indian folk classics. Finishing with a rave, Indian Ocean singer Rahul Ram freestyles in Hindi over Underworld's Born Slippy. It's a brilliant set to close the festival.

Afterwards, nobody is disappointed. The festival sells all 7,000 tickets for the Saturday and Sunday, and says it has made a profit in its second year, something "unheard of in the UK festival market", claims Budd. "Next year I expect we'll get some really high-end younger artists willing to take the leap. I'd love to see Chase and Status, Dry the River, even the Vaccines come and play with their Indian counterparts." NH7 has certainly proved there is an appetite for it.