heard on the wire

We are the great unwashed


I’ve just time for a few words before Suzi and I head south for a week in the Netherlands.

It will be our third visit in the last 15 months to a country that seems to get so much right where this country lamentably fails, whether it’s urban architecture, transport policy or producing technically competent footballers. They even like cricket.

Rotterdam is an astonishing city, a modern, sharply dressed temple to trade and commerce. Amsterdam is, well, Amsterdam, a human city that is what you make of it. This trip will take in Utrecht, Gouda, home of the much and unfairly maligned cheese, Delft and the Hague.

What it is unlikely to take in is Dutch music. I can recall just one or two songs by Dutch artists among the 20,000+ that make up my iTunes collection. It’s not an impressive return for a country where the lingua franca of pop, English, is spoken as widely as anywhere outside its home countries.

So there’ll be no Dutch playlist for the trip, just the usual collection of noiseniks and tunesmiths from these shores. And where better to start than with the kind of odious, racist no-mark that, sadly, has also besmirched the Dutch political scene of late.

Flies on you // Katie Hopkins in a Human Form

Flies on You come from Leeds, which has long been one of this blog’s favourite musical destinations, albeit virtually. The other is Brooklyn, the New York borough that just keeps giving. It’s home to A Place to Bury Strangers, who released their fourth studio LP this year. The bass on this track goes up to 11.

A Place to Bury Strangers // Supermaster // iTunes

Audio MP3


Unlike Leeds and Brooklyn — how I love that juxtaposition — the North East isn’t renowned for its musical heritage. Think Sting, Mark Knopfler and Jimmy Nail! So NARC Magazine deserves considerable plaudits for drawing attention to the wealth of musical talent that the city and the North East in general has to offer. The free fanzine also promotes and annual festival in the city’s best pubs and, if that weren’t enough, it regularly compiles the latest local talent in a package of tunes for you, me, all and sundry to download.

The first of these two selections comes from Durham’s Martha, whose Courting Strong was one of the best LPs of 2014. The second is by Barry Hyde, who formerly played guitar and sang in the Futureheads. Purely coincidentally, the Sunderland band’s bass player, David Craig, was on my teacher training course.

Martha // Lost Without You

Barry Hyde // While We Were Sleeping

Photo: cube² by photographer; some rights reserved.

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