Monthly Archives: February 2012

>> SHAKE IT OUT (live)

I wasn’t that sold on Florence and the Machine’s new album when it came out a couple of months back, and it didn’t help that I bought it only a few days before buying the new David Crowder Band, which is so good that you almost don’t need to listen to anything else for the next six months (that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much). However, it’s grown on me since, being one of those albums that gets under your skin and then sticks…

That said, though, from the start I loved Shake It Out, which has got to be up there with the best songs that Florence Welch has ever written. It’s got some great lyrics, but I particularly love these at the start of the second verse:

And I am done with my graceless heart

So tonight I’m going to cut it out and then restart…

I think “graceless heart” is a fair summary of this thing that dwells in my chest, and I can’t be alone in wanting that put to death. I hear this song and for better or worse I hear a cry for something else, a freedom and liberty to dance that is stifled by our broken bodies and the devils that we carry on our backs.

There’s a beautiful live version below, where the power and fragility of Welch’s voice is accentuated by mournful strings and gospel backing singers:


Posted by on 23/02/2012 in God, Music


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Listen up! The mighty Praxis Bold have just dropped their first EP, Oh Sacred Surreal, over at Bandcamp, and if you call yourself a lover of music in any way, shape or form, you need to listen to it.

Which, in fact, you can do below.

It’s a beautiful thing. Dreamy melodies swirling around what is described as “alternative bodacious indie jazz synth”, which pretty much tells you all that you need to know really.

Listen to it above and then buy it, noting as you do how much the opening chords of Possibility sound like the theme from Black Books.

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Posted by on 20/02/2012 in Music, News, Other


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Back to chorizo again, although I have at least chosen to do something different with it this time round. One of my housemates spotted it in the fridge and exclaimed mock-horror “do you ever cook with anything except chorizo?” I see his point, although all things considered, it does make adding flavour to things a whole lot more simple.

I made this for dinner with friends a couple of weeks back and have been meaning to write it up ever since, as it’s one of the best things I’ve made in months; however, the past couple of weeks got kind of crazy and so you had to wait. Sadly pumpkin is out of season at the moment, so it’ll cost you to get hold of it, although you might have more luck at some of the bigger supermarkets (I went to Oxford’s covered market, and so a decent-sized pumpkin cost me £4)

This comes from a blog called The Runaway Spoon, and you can find their recipe for it here. I’ve adapted it slightly, adding some hard, cured chorizo and substituting mixed beans in because I couldn’t find black beans, but it was still delicious – spicy, sweet, and really satisfying, with the pumpkin adding substance to it.

We ate this with nachos and a hunk of bread, but you could go with rice if you fancy (I don’t think it’s worth it, as the chilli itself is sufficiently filling). It’s best cooked when the weather is cold, so if we do end up having another unscheduled cold snap, I’d highly recommend it.

So, here’s what you’ll need (serves 4):

1 packet of 6 soft Mexican chorizo sausages – go to M&S or a butcher for this, but you need at least some of the soft stuff rather than the hard stuff or this won’t work
A little bit of hard cured chorizo sausage (about 1/4 of a ring), chopped into little chunks
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Chilli powder
A medium-sized pie pumpkin (get the green ones not the orange Halloween ones, as they have no flavour at all)
2 cans mixed beans, rinsed and drained (feel free to sub in black beans or kidney beans)
Salt and pepper to taste

It’s pretty simple, as you’d imagine. Here’s how to do it.

Before starting, peel your pumpkin – you might not need to use it all, but put a decent amount in – and scoop the seeds out, like you’d do with a butternut squash. Chop the remaining flesh up into bite-sized chunks, bearing in mind that you’re going to be eating this with a spoon…

Chop up your soft and hard chorizo into bite-sized bits and sauté them in a high-sided pan. Once it’s started cooking and some of the oil has started coming out, add the onion on a medium heat, stirring it until it’s soft but not browned. Add the chicken stock when the onions are soft, along with your tablespoon of cinnamon and as much chilli powder as you dare.

Add the pumpkin to the chorizo mixture, hopefully simmering by now, which should have come out of its skin now and be starting to look more like you’d expect chilli to. Cook for another ten or fifteen minutes, or until it’s starting to go soft, and then add the mixed beans. Simmer until the sauce is thick and the pumpkin is soft and then serve with an accompaniment of your choice, and some beer. And smile.

It’s a beautiful thing, and I highly recommend you try it; a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. I particularly appreciated the addition of little chunks of cured chorizo to change the texture, but you may not want to go to the effort. Let me know how you get on.

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Posted by on 15/02/2012 in Food, Other


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There’s a lot of buzz flying around about Anais Mitchell’s (she who wrote the magnificent folk opera Hadestown) upcoming album Young Man in America. People are touting her as the next Dylan, and although labels like that are never especially helpful, you only need to listen to this live version of Wilderland from her the new album to see why.

There is a power and fragility in her voice and some wonderful lyrics tucked in there. I love this, and I’m excited for the album, which is out on Monday. What do you think?

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Posted by on 07/02/2012 in Music, Other


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The final album by David Crowder Band, entitled Give Us Rest (a requiem mass in the key of C [the happiest of all keys] came out a couple of weeks back, and it’s an incredible thing – vast, profound and deeply moving.

Here’s a promo for it that you may not have seen yet – the track in the background is Sequence 7, which I think may be my favourite of all the 34 tracks. I’ll write more soon, although I imagine much of it has been said already:

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Posted by on 03/02/2012 in God, Music, Other