Caught by the River


26th January 2019

CBTR’s Jeff Barrett, Robin Turner and Diva Harris recommend books, music, films, and more they’ve been loving lately

Jeff Barrett:

– Christian Marclay’s The Clock at Tate Modern was genius. A 24 hour movie montage which counts down by the minute and was screened in real time. Sadly now finished and I’ve still got twenty hours left to see. The thought of ever watching it on DVD scrambles my brain.

Roma on Netflix. Yeah yeah I know you have to see it on a big screen but you don’t really. You just need to see it.

Cold War – I loved this film. Of course I did, this happened. The soundtrack, an amazing collection of traditional Polish folk music and fifties American jazz, doesn’t seem to be officially available anywhere, but thanks to whoever it was that created this Spotify playlist.

– Amazing Grace – do you love music?

– David Keenan – For The Good Times (Faber). I enjoyed This is Memorial Device but this is something else altogether. Masterful storytelling. 100% Como.

– Fiona Benson – ‘Ace of Bass’, the opening poem from her essential collection Vertigo & Ghost (Cape poetry).

– Virginie Despentes – Vernon Subetex One (Maclehose Press, English edition). A speed-driven punk rock soap drama set in Paris read pretty much in one setting. (With thanks to Adelle Stripe)

– Wendy Erskine – Sweet Home (The Stinging Fly Press). A terrific short story fiction collection from a Belfast writer brought to my attention, as above, by Adelle Stripe. Follow Adelle on Twitter. Buy this book.

– Jon Savage – This searing light, the sun and everything else: Joy Division: The Oral History.

– Current listening: Jeff Majors ‘Yasmeen’ from the album For Us All (Yoka Boka), Little Simz – ‘Selfish’, Helado Negro – ‘Pais Nublado’, The Comet Is Coming – ‘Summon The Fire’, Earl Sweatshirt – ‘Riot!’.

– The best live show I’ve seen recently was the London debut of UNLOVED at the Hoxton Hall. Album out on February 1st.

Robin Turner:

– Kacey Musgraves: ‘Slow Burn’  – Creatively kickstarted by the artist dropping acid in order to make new music, this is a soft ocean breeze of a track and is about as far from Spacemen 3 as you can get. 

– James Holden: A Cambodian Spring OST – A solo synthesiser record by one of the most consistently brilliant producer/musicians working at the moment. Holden manages to pull warm, sometimes discomfiting sounds out of analogue machines that almost seem to glow as they hum into life, looping and layering, building and building. It’s a brilliant companion piece to his recent live band album The Animal Spirits – an electronic new dawn rising after the previous album’s nocturnal bonfire frenzy. 

– The Chemical Brothers: Desert Island Disco – A real trip, right from The Millennium’s ‘The Island’ through to Kraftwerk’s majestic ‘Europe Endless’. The Chemicals’ beautifully dreamy 30 minute mix for Lauren Laverne’s 6 Music show pushes some surprisingly emotional buttons. Well, it did with me anyway. 

True Detective series 3 – I was addicted to the first series, it was a proper junkie’s itch waiting for the dodgy URL to arrive every Monday morning (thanks Julian). I didn’t bother with the second after reading countless bad reviews (always told myself I’d go back to it when I had some time – who actually has time though? Where did all the free time go?); decided to give this one a go before anyone laid into it. So far, there are deep echoes of the first series which is absolutely fine by me. Fantastic central performance by Mahershala Ali, playing the same character across three different eras. I’m digging it so far – might even go back and watch the second series after. 

– The Dukes of the Stratosphear: ‘What In The World?’ – I think I started listening to this record after reading it was the biggest inspiration on the first Stone Roses record and part of the reason the band chose John Leckie as producer. The Dukes (aka XTC deep on a slightly more pokey acid trip than Kacey Musgraves took recently) are wilfully deranged, possibly too daft really but the points where it all clicks – this track particularly – are immense. And the pointers for the Roses record are all right there. 

– Heineken 0%. Still on dry January. Officially no fun anymore. 

– Deerhunter – ‘Death in Midsummer’ – Pastoral psych that sounds wonderfully out of time. 

– Jeremy Deller’s Desert Island Discs – It’s rare that someone you consider as ‘one of us’ gets taken seriously by the proper, venerable institutions of the BBC. This Jeremy Deller interview really felt like finally hearing a Friend of the River as a castaway. The choices of music were impeccable (The Sweet, Roxy, The Congos, The KLF); taking the view over Hay Bluff to a desert island as his luxury item was the icing on the cake. 

Diva Harris:

– I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to recommend things I haven’t fully engaged with yet, but I’m going to do it anyway. I bought myself a copy of Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina this week and I can’t wait to get properly stuck in. Copies were scarce for a while after it became the first ever graphic novel to be longlisted for the Booker last year – and it comes highly recommended by both Chris Ware and Zadie Smith.

Out of the Woods – It’s an uncontroversial opinion (unless you write for the Evening Standard) but I’ve just about finished Luke Turner’s first book and it’s fantastic. I have no doubt it’s going to become a “nature writing classic” before too long – and it’ll certainly shake up the canon. His appearance on the most recent episode of Literary Friction – the only podcast I bother with – is well worth a listen too.

– NOV3L – ‘To Whom it May Concern’ – a bouncy, hooky, post-punk track from a band who appeared out of the blue. There’s some member crossover between NOV3L and Crack Cloud (the excellent Calgary collective who caused a bit of a stir with their debut album last year – listen to that too if you haven’t already), but this is a little lighter, janglier, and easy to dance to.

– I’m seconding Robin on the Deerhunter front – the new album is incredible. I really enjoyed Paddy Clarke’s mad Quietus interview with Bradford Cox off the back of it too.

– Lizzo – ‘Juice’ – so good, so catchy, and with enough glimmers of Shalamar’s ‘A Night To Remember’ that I’ve been singing a weird mashup of the two, constantly, for about 3 weeks.

Sophisticated Boom Boom – Sheila B’s weekly 3-hour radio show on WFMU, which proffers ‘female-fronted pop from the past, present, and future; from all over the globe. And the occasional man.’ Every single week SB plays an unfailingly fantastic selection of music, including lots of new-to-me stuff of a 60s girl group persuasion.

Sex Education on Netflix – sweet and squirmy and funny, and just the right amount of politically aware. Plus, obviously, Gillian Anderson is in it.