Elbow ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’
From the celestial rumble and swoop of eight minute opening track The Birds (surely to become an anthem for twitchers – ‘The birds / Are the keepers of our secrets’), it’s clear that Elbow’s fifth long-player is the work of a band utterly confident in their own skin. It’s a record that seems to glow out of the speakers as it plays. And rightly so too. This is a band that genuinely deserves their success – you’d be very hard pushed to find someone churlish enough to deny them that. Build A Rocket Boys! will sate the legions of new converts the band picked up in the last couple of years whilst not alienating the kind of people who’ve obsessed over the band since first single Any Day Now (aforementioned The Birds fills that song’s boots admirably). A triumph – the most famous bird watcher in pop’s best record yet.
‘The Second Coming’ by John Niven
There’s a giddy rush of pride you get when first receiving a copy of a book or record created by a very close friend. It’s a feeling that’s inevitably accompanied soon after by the jangling of nerves. What if it’s not up to much, what in blazes am I going to say then?’ I’ve been waiting for a copy of Friend of the River John Niven’s new novel, The Second Coming for a while now. Some mutual friends had already got it and were ploughing through, wanting to compare notes. Mine was stuck in the post, somewhere just outside London. I worried I’d be the last to read it, all the punchlines texted to me long ago. I needn’t have.
Suffice to say, when it arrived, it took over my life for the following 48 hours. I’m not going to give away much about it other than it’s blinding, it’s about the second coming of Christ, it features Kill Your Friends’ antihero Steven Stelfox in a Cowell-esque super-role and it was worth every bit of the wait. The boy done very, very good. I’m glad I’ll be able to look him in the face and tell him that.
King Creosote and Jon Hopkins ‘Diamond Mine’
Sifting through forty albums worth of King Creosote numbers, Kenny Anderson and Jon Hopkins chose just half a dozen to rework over a seven year period. The result – Diamond Mine – is a delicate and beautiful thing, at times so gossamer light it seems to flicker and dance past like sparks spiralling away from a campfire. A truly beautiful collection of songs.
Camden Brewery Pale Ale
Hands down the best beer I’ve tried in the last year. Utterly moreish, this is a beer worth crossing town for. Thankfully, there’s a good few stockists dotted over the capital as pubs and punters cotton on. Without a doubt Camden are a brewery to watch (NB – discerning Pint By The River folks might have tried their beers previously at their flagship pub, the Horseshoe in Hampstead).