Provence, September 2014

Elizabeth David’s anecdote about the English still selling olive oil in chemists in the 50s is renowned. Even in post-rationing Britain, the thought of the dishes David covers in French Provincial Cooking, while we were using powdered eggs, must have sounded incredibly remote. Continue reading

2013 in music and my top 20 songs of the year

TL:DR? Jump to the list

Well that wasn’t a very good year for pop music, was it? We had to wait until November until we were given a half-way decent pop hook (Rihanna’s Monster chorus), but even that was replicating the exact same formula Ri and Slim nailed for the first time a few years ago.

Of last year’s two really big hitters, only Taylor came out with one great tune (“22”), but that was actually from 2012 and Carly Rae was nowhere to be seen.

The biggest summer sellers both used Pharrell in what must have been a very profitable year for him. And both tracks became the de facto back-to-back option for lazy DJs everywhere. “Blurred Lines” provided guilty pleasure plays long after its release and “Get Lucky”‘s brilliance was put to the test of being played to death. Unfortunately both failed. I haven’t voluntarily played either since August.

Elsewhere, Miley Cyrus has encouraged moral outrage across the country by being provocative. She’s outraged more people than even the Daily Mail managed to this year. And last time I checked, it has always been the role of a pop/rockstar to piss off the adults of the world. Teenagers love her and all your outrage is doing is helping her shift records. The only depressing thing about Miley is that she hasn’t recorded a decent tune since Party in the USA. Miley, be as naked as you like, but please get back in the studio with Jessie J asap.

Eminem brought out the MM2, which aside from the Monster was terrible. Kanye’s Yeezus flirted with trap too much to be anywhere half good (Bound 2 being the only exception), and the new Jay couldn’t even manage one good tune.

In RnB, Amel Larrieux released an exceptional album, which is probably my favourite longplayer of the year. It sounds like some late 90s RnB and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

The real blossoms (unsurprisingly for me, granted), were with dance music. Let’s first get the bad out the way. The deep house sound from the past two-to-three years, spurred on by the Jamie Jones’ of the world has entered the mainstream well and proper. MK’s Storm Queen remix was massive but not particularly inspiring (unlike his LDR take), Duke Dumont witnessed relative success for a good few months, and BrEaCh (sp?) saw to it that even the Radio 1 Breakfast show wasn’t without its house cuts. 

But the best thing about deep house’s entering into the mainstream has been the need for the underground to recreate itself (its been long overdue).

Todd Terje was the absolute victor this year. His edit of Lindstrom’s “Vos-Sako-Rv” was exceptional, and so underappreciated (yet when I played it out at a summer party this year, it killed it). But of course his “Strandbar” release has to be the one that constantly turned heads and wowed dancefloors everywhere. And when you got bored of Disko for its more in-your-face piano explosion, Samba took over to bring out the intracacies for months after.

Fort Romeau was my personal favourite producer of the year. In 2012, he was putting out harmless deep house that lounged its way through out soundsystems very unoffensively, but this year – my word! “Jetee” was an absolute banger uniting acid influences, hands-in-the-air breaks with truly melancholic piano in the space of 6 minutes. “Stay/True” was the real glory moment though. Weatherall-esque drugchug taking the acid thing even further produced exceptional tunes at well below the regular bpms.

The love for lower bpms for me this year was created by my greatest clubbing experience in five years (I.e. Clubbing zero one) as I found Rhythm Section. As if by magic at a time when I was getting utterly bored by the London club scene as it was sluggishly playing dull, insipid and uninventive four-to-the-floor house or techno for an audience that needed a head full of horse tranquilisers to appreciate anything more than 15 minutes of it, I found RS.

Rhythm Section, headed up by Bradley Zero, better known as ‘the guy in dreads’ in the Boiler Room videos, changed everything. Here I was dancing to music at anything from all over the world at any given tempo, and it all ignored the paint by numbers house and techno that every other club seemed to be playing. 100bpm never felt so natural to dance to. And my mix of the year is without a doubt the first RS show on NTS I heard: solidifying that early RS sound that I fell in love with: “Stop Bajon”, and “Rising to the Top.”

My love for disco expanded this year in tandem, and in particular with the re-edits scene. Fingerman’s “Too Much” and Late Nite Tuff Guy’s “I Want Your Love” mix (which admittedly isn’t a re-edit) stood out on top, but I could have easily put together a top 20 of re-edits that all sound as excellent today as they did when I first heard them this year, while simultaneously bringing some life back to forgotten originals.

There’s some jazz entering my heard properly for the first time outside of the Miles Davis and bigband canon that previously existed. The jazz influences on the King Krule album in particular were standout for me, and really impressed me with the modern genre-blurring he achieved. Dysnonia blew my mind as to what jazz could be, as did the Sons of Kemet album. My love for both comes from Gilles Peterson who also turned me on to countless other jazz sounds throughout the year.

Looking back, I got into the Philly Soul sound via hearing Tom Moulton’s incredible anthology that I only found this year. Likewise, a new appreciation for Screamdelica was found as I realised there was more to that record than Loaded.

Albums by The Range, Bilal, Jai Paul, Colin Stetson, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Rhye also all left a mark, in the pits of late night bus journeys, early mornings and soundtracks to loosing myself in books.

Vampire Weekend’s new long player was my surprise like of the year. I don’t often find many guitar-heavy albums that satisfying anymore, but the new VW LP was really excellent. The afrobeat influences from the first record are still there but the world music sounds have diversified even more, which was consistently refreshing with an album that got better with every play.

It was a great year for a lot of music. My dance music tastes broadended, RnB and guitar music seeped back in, but after last year’s great twelve months for pop, I was a tad disappointed this year. Still, you can’t win them all.


My top 20 songs of the year

20 – King Krule – A Lizard State
19 – Bilal – Lost for Now
18 – Kan SANO – Everybody Loves the Sunshine (Leftside Wobble Remix)
17 – Gil Scott Heron – Bottle (Disco Tech Rework)
16 – Andras – Running Late
15 – Romanthony – Ministry of Love (Andres edit)
14 – Fort Romeau – Jetee
13 – Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
12 – Amel Larrieux – Afraid
11 – Daft Punk – Get Lucky
10 – Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
09 – Chaos in the CBD – 78 to Stanley Bay
08 – For Romeau – Stay/True
07 – Fingerman – Too Much
06 – Late Nite Tuff Guy – Bless the Rains
05 – Taylor Swift – 22
04 – Sons of Kemet – Inner Babylon
03 – Lindstrom – Vos-Sako-RV (Todd Terje Extended Dub)
02 – Paul Simon – Diamonds (Ame Private Mix)
01 – Todd Terje – Strandbar (Samba Mix)


Albums of the year

Bilal – Love Surreal
Amel Larriux – Ice Cream Everyday
Dawn of Midi – Dysnonia
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
King Krule – Six Feet Beneath The Moon
Mountains – Centralia
Rhye – Woman


Top 20 songs of 2012

I am a huge fan of lists. To-do lists, checklists, and my favourite of them all – end of year lists.

This is a task I have undertaken before (2011, 2010) and have for some time now been looking forward to writing this years. ‘But it’s only the end of November’ I hear you shout in disdain. Well this is true, but I’ve had a brief look at what’s going to be released in next month and I don’t think much is going to take my fancy. Plus, time is a big factor in this process. It is more impressive that a song from January makes this list than it is a song released last week. Freshness always tricks you a little bit. I digress.

Without much further ado, here are my favourite 20 songs of 2012.

You can listen to them all on Spotify through this playlist.

20. Ultraista – Smalltalk (Four Tet Remix)

I first heard this at the beginning of a mix back in the summer. I then kicked off my October mix with. So it’s fitting that it is at the beginning of this list. Beautiful vocal made even more wonderful with Four Tet’s broken beat.

19. Sebastien Tellier – Cochon Ville

Little of Tellier’s work has ever stood up next to La Ritournelle and it probably never will, but Cochon Ville makes a valiant attempt albeit in an entirely different direction. Made even  better by the most nudity-filled video of the year.

18. Andrew Bird – Spirograph

Most of the music I listen to these days is driven by a beat, typically a four on the floor, but there are odd moments when a man and his guitar still makes it way into my listening. Spirograph is one of those moments.

17. fun. – We Are Young

This was my song of the moment for quite a few weeks after its release. It’s not as big on my listen-to-list anymore, but when it comes on shuffle, it still has its definite pride of place.

16. Kanye West – White Dress

MBDTF is still my favourite hiphop album of all time, but there are moments when I miss the old Kanye. Pre-autotune, pre-terrible albums with Jay-Z, pre-baroque pop and grand orchestration. I miss the College Dropout days and White Dress is a wonderful throwback to that.

15. The xx – Angels

Standout from this year’s album and even through its overuse for television, this remains a great tune.

14. Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments

I had heard a lot of Jessie’s voice through various house remixes this year, but I only recently listened to her music in its original form and wow. Wildest Moments is simply sublime. I’ve only heard it a handful of times but I know it’s going to grow and grow and grow. Of all the British female musicians at the moment, Jessie Ware stands miles above the rest.

13. Dusky – Lost Highway

This has to be my favourite house tune of the year, that I didn’t put on one of my mixes. The synth chords guide this feel-happy tune, but the real highlight is the two part drop after the main break. Listening to it takes me back to summertime even with the rain beating down outside.

12. Otto Knows – Million Voices

I’m not much a fan of progressive house generally, though about once a year a song comes through that’s just in your face brilliant. This will have you smiling from cheek-to-cheek. Particularly amusing is seeing the YouTube comment thread where fans debate how the lyrics should be written (my preference is for Eh Ah etc rather than E A).

11. Stay+ – Crashed

Crashed finds itself at the crossroads of The XX, garage, house and trance. While there are moments that are a little cheesy, the sum of all its parts make for a stellar tune.

10. Hot Chip – Flutes

Hot Chip outdid themselves with their long player this year, an absolute classic in my eyes and Flutes just about clinches my favourite song on it.

9. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse

This was released in January, although it has become such a classic that it feels like it’s been in my life even longer. I’m hit or miss with Todd Terje, but this is hit, hit, hit.

8. Russ Chimes – Back 2 You (Hot Since ’82 Remix)

The original of this is patchy, but Hot Since 82 really make this tune something. Less can be said of his Pete Tong remix.

7. Lana Del Rey – Ride

Dark-pop princess LDR had it pretty good this year and any fears that Video Games would be a one-off were appropriately quelled. Lyrically she is on fantastic form here, and the “I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy” is one of those incredibly simple moments in writing that could not be written better in any other way.

6. Ry & Frank Wiedemann – Howling/Howling (Ame remix)

Yeah I know it’s cheating to put both in but I love them both equally depending on my mood. The acoustic original is a brilliant example of why more house producers should take the reigns with producing indie tunes, and the Ame remix kills it. Hearing Maceo drop it at Warehouse Project was one of my moments of the year.

5. Julio Bashmore – Au Seve

This song must have been dropped about ten times at Eastern Electrics and I missed all of them. Thank God I heard it dropped at Sancho Panza at Carnival because there was little more I wanted to hear it through a soundsystem from the moment I first heard it. Song of the summer without a doubt.

4. Hot Natured – Benediction

The Hot Natured crew did a remarkable job stopping this from leaking. Every time it went up on YouTube from either Jamie Jones’ closing set at Paradise/DC10 or his essential mix, it was taken down almost instantly. Which doesn’t help when all you want to do is play it on repeat. It does help build anticipation though, and so it unsurprisingly hit the UK top 40. “I feel like our love has found a home” Ali Love sings about his first discovery of Space in Ibiza. I’m sure many will feel the same about this song.

3. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

“Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad” has been a lyric of much discussion for me this year, because frankly I think it’s one of the greatest lyrics of the year. The kind of allusion to a feeling that pop doesn’t ever usually hit in any context, yet alone with this eloquence or passion. Absolute best part of this song is the break, and nothing else this year comes close to that.

2. Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Cyril Hahn Remix)

I used to slate Annie Mac for being too mainstream, then I actually started checking our her tracklistings and realised she champions new, underground music extremely well. This absolute gem was one of those championed pieces. I have listened to this song to an almost obsessive degree and it still gets better. The video is here, and if I can blow my own trumpet for a moment, it’s place in my October mix was probably one of my favourite 15 minutes I’ve ever done.

1. Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

I had a hard time deciding whether this, Cyril or Carly should be my number one, but since putting this list together and hearing it in order, I know I was right to put it at number one. Bubblegum pop shouldn’t ever, nor has it ever, been this fucking good. The ‘oohs’ in the pre-chorus make even the most reluctant singers want to burst out into horrendously camp song. The ‘indie record’ line will make anyone who’s ever been remotely snobbish about music, start wondering if they’ve ever done that (yes, we probably have).

It’s just so good. The fact this sits on top of the Billboard Country chart is absurd but hilarious. But it’s the fact it reached the elusive number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 that is really telling. Let’s hope her career carries on with the same arc that it has so far, because if it does, we could be looking at a new queen of pop.

Post by Joshua Lachkovic

on food

I was having a conversation with a colleague last week, where we were both discussing our passion for food.

During that conversation, I said the following,

“When you’re at a dinner table with someone, there’s absolutely nothing else going on in the world apart from the conversation you’re having with that person, and the food that has brought you together. And when cooking at home, the ability to provide that – the setting, the delicious food, and to facilitate that conversation and mood – is wonderful.”


As such, this has rather inspired me to start writing about food as well.

One of the reasons that blogging/writing outside of work has taken such a toll is time. Of which, I wish that there was far, far more of it. So if at any stage, as almost every blogger does, I simply stop writing, you will know why.

I don’t plan the writing to be extensive, it will be very bloggy – the shorter and punchier it is, the more likely I am to do it – and if nothing else will hopefully act as a reminder of things I’ve cooked, eaten, and drank that I love or hate. And a mental memo of that kind is always nice.

So without much further ado, you can read the blog here: “Eggs Benedict and a glass of fizz.”

Notes on James Bond: Goldfinger


Fantastic, short and sweet pre-credits intro. Realised that this is the second film that the Dom Perignon ’53 has been brought up by name and year. Pocket squares alternative from square to triangles for the first time, and change throughout. DB5 introduced.

Martinis: 1

Sour Mash “but not too sweet please.”

The fight between Oddjob and Bond is brilliant.

Another great drinks exchange:
Felix: ‘Liquor for three’
Bond: ‘Who are the other two?’
Felix: ‘Oh there are no other two’

Overall, fantastic, best Bond out of the first three. Solid storyline, good lines, well-paced, the best story out of all of them even if the nuke Fort Knox plan does seem a little preposterous, although given the economic outcome, fascinating to consider.

Overarching feeling, however, that – if you are head of a criminal organisation/terrorist group – and you get a 00 agent in your hands, you’d probably just kill him.

Which leads me to the interesting point on ego, which seems to be a huge theme. If it wasn’t for the enemy’s ego in needing to impress Bond, then most of the time they’d get away with it. Likewise, if it wasn’t for Bond’s ego, he wouldn’t get ensnared by so many women so often, who typically lead to his downfall (and then so far, happily lead to his victory at the end).

Watching three in quick succession has made me see how formulaic they are.

Definite standout, however, will be hard to beat.