Archive for August, 2010



Rumer is a strange name, and it’s a peculiar choice for searching the internet; it returns a lot of weird stuff. If you are not looking for Bruce Willis’s daughter (who she?), but the wonderful band featuring the wonderful singing of Sarah Joyce, then check out their website:

[Embedded Videoclip from youtube of Rumer doing Slow]


Sarah Joyce is a Pakistani lass who grew up in Cumbria/Cumberland (Carlisle) discovered by none other than Burt Bacharach. She has a voice that resembles the smooth, easy quality of Karen Carpenter, Maggie Reilly, Carole King and Eva Cassidy. It’s easier than Norah Jones, more easy pop than jazz, so it ought to appeal as a familiar and secure, homely thing in a financial crisis — and there’s a lot of that about — just look at The Scissor Sisters, Mika, and The Feeling. Her album is not ready yet, but apparently will be due for release by Atlantic in November 2010. It HAS to be big for Christmas! Who knows it could upset the X-factor people again! Sarah deserves it — she’s now 31 and she’s been at this since she left Newman High School in Carlisle aged just 16. It’s been a long slog for this singer-songwriter, from Wentworth Drive, Lowry Hill with her Mum Tina, Dad Jim and sister Kathy to California. Rumer Godden was her Mum’s favourite author, so Sarah relaunched herself professionally as Rumer in honour of her mum who died in 2003 of Breast cancer. Her mum would be proud of her recent chart success.

[Embedded Youtube videoclip of Long Long Day]

[Embedded Youtube video clip of Aretha]


Pakistan is suffering just now with the cricket, the floods, and the politics relating to “looking both ways” when it comes to neighbouring Afghanistan’s Taliban/ Muslim terrorism. Maybe Sarah can claw some much-needed goodwill back.




I have lost 1.3 kg since last week, 18.4 kg in total. BMI 25.8 kg/m2

I have survived 15 weeks on The Dukan Diet, and am in my Dukan target weight region.

My scales state that I am now 77.1 kg.  I am still trying to get under a BMI of 25, but I am also trying to phase in the Consolidation Phase and phase-out the Cruise Phase of this diet as the change-over seems a wee bit too radical for me just yet.

See ya next Thursday!




I let my wife listen to The Trials of Van Occupanther, a 2006 offering from Midlake, and she got hooked.  It is easy to see why — reminiscent of Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Fleetwood Mac, Surfjan Stevens, and even Joni Mitchell, it is at first shot, an “easy listening” album, but it offers more with each listen, and is in fact quite complex and rewards the effort.

I reckon the world simply divides into two camps with Midlake; you either “get it” or you don’t.

Here are the relevant links:

[Embedded video from You Tube of “Head Home” by Midlake]




I have lost 0.8 kg since last week, 17.1 kg in total. BMI 26.2 kg/m2

I have survived 14 weeks on The Dukan Diet, and am in my Dukan target weight region.

My scales state that I am now 78.4 kg.  I am still trying to leave the cruise phase and enter the consolidation phase, I am quite pleased (and surprised)  to see such a big loss; I’d like to get under a BMI of 25.

See ya next Thursday!




[picture of Cover of Now We Can See by The Thermals 2009]I am getting back into raw rock’n’roll at the moment, and what better than last year’s “Now We Can See” from The Thermals?

Classifying them is just annoying — I see “garage-rock” and “punk-pop”! Quite why we have genres and subdivisions is beyond me; if you like rock’n’roll, from Tom Petty to The Pixies, you WILL like This Thermals record.

At The Bottom Of The Sea starts a bit like an old U2 track, When I Died starts like Feargal Sharkey! Now We Can See is just superb, completely catchy Johnny Thunderesque, early Attractions, maybe Frank Black, Dr Feelgood chops, love it; it’s addictive, mood-lightening, daddy-dancy classic stuff.

[Embedded Video clip from The Thermals’s Now We Can See]


When We Were Alive is pretty punky, and nods at old Lux Interior or The Ramones. Liquid In, Liquid Out is sharp and clean, and a firmly modern song to rival the Arctic Monkys or Franz Ferdinand.

[Picture of the guys from The Thermals]“Now We Can See” is not offensive on first listening, being easy music to get into straight-away — yet it still grows with each play! Like a fine wine, it develops rather well.

The Thermals are: Westin Glass (drums), left-handed bass-playing chick Kathy Foster and Hutch Harris. Funnily enough, Foster owns a Tee-shirt company and she plays drums in the appropriately named “All Girl Summer Fun band”. Their website is, and they are on

Check it out.




[Picture of The Radio Department -- from Sweden]The Radio Dept is a really good band from Sweden.

[embedded videoclip from, The Radio Dept “David”]


I got their 2003 EP, “Pulling Our Weight” and I thought “I don’t need love, I’ve got my band” was a fairly unimpressive poppy of-its-time guitar band track.  The title track had a nice beat and wistful guitar and vocal, and was — well, “nice”.  From the start through to the end of “We climb the wired fences” (my fave track of the five), it was a fairly calming, soothing experience, trippyish.  It was never a challenge, but it grew on me still over time.

Pet Grief” from 2006 is a much more mature-sounding band.  Better songs, better ideas.  Same wistful, reverb-filled vocal, but it all comes together like The Blue Nile or Prefab Sprout, if you know what I mean. “I Wanted You To Feel The Same” is beautifully recorded, and the piano is delicious, leading right into the filler, “South Side“. The up tempo “Every Time” has their signature reverb vocals underpinned by the driving beat. Crackin’ stuff. Maybe not as powerfully emotional as The Blue Nile, which is maybe why it is often classed as “Shoegaze” music — it is not “sad” per se, but I guess if you’re in that mood it would be just perfectly melancholy.  I find it hazy, summery, lovely music to wander the streets looking about, or while reading or just chillin’.

[embedded videoclip from, The Radio Dept “It’s Personal”]


My favourite track has to be either “It’s Personal” as it is almost Richard Hawley! or “Tell“. But hey; it’s all good.  Yes.  This is a very good album — and definitely worth checking out at Amazon or try these links:




I have lost 0.3 kg since last week, 16.3 kg in total. BMI 26.5 kg/m2

I have survived 13 weeks on The Dukan Diet, and am in my Dukan target weight region.

My scales state that I am now 79.2 kg.  This represents a small loss as I slip into “Consolidation”.  I have added two Mini Baby Bel Light cheese a day and over the week two or three tubs of Muller Light Yogurt (all of which are tolerated), and as a sort of celebration meal, I have had two glasses of red wine on two occasions in the week.  The effect has dramatically slowed down my weight loss, but that is what I am aiming for.

See ya next Thursday!




[Picture of Russian Sonstress, Regina Spektor]Regina Spektor seems to be everywhere these days. Her music is used extensively in TV commercials, movies, trailers and campaigns, and she’s done all the big European festivals like T in the Park and Glastonbury.

Her album “Far” is actually pretty good.  It is very New York East Village, very girly, and all that.  She is quirky, plays the piano and has some orchestration. That sounds like so many others, doesn’t it?  It moves on the Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom, Tori Amos thingy, and sits well with St.Vincent — or even Emily Simone.

If you listen a wee bit more closely, you hear that she does crazy things while singing — odd noises are emitted form her mouth, buzzes, rasps, tuts and heavy breathing!  She has a broad range too.  This moves the music up a notch from the usual girly wistfulness to something else.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Oh no.  There’s the “Back-Story”, and what a tale to tell — what a soap-opera!  You couldn’t make this up!  I’ll try to be brief and still do this fascinating tale some justice.Where to begin?  Well how about a few weeks ago?

OK, it’s the 7th of July 2010, at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Regina was set to perform, but was reportedly distraught, shaken and in tears most of the time.  She had to stop several times simply to regain her composure — all because the day before, her cellist, Dan Cho, drowned while swimming in Lake Geneva near Chillon Castle. But the show went on, and she pulled it off.

Flashback: to 1989, the USSR during the period of Perestroika, the Spektor family (including a nine-year-old Regina) emigrate to Austria and then Italy. She is completely fluent in Russian and reads Hebrew.

They were admitted to the USA as refugees with the assistance of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and settled in the Bronx in New York where she studied classical piano with Sonia Vargas, a professor at the Manhattan School of Music, until she was 17.  She did a four-year studio composition program of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College graduating within three years.  In the summers she worked at a Butterfly Farm and even worked in Tottenham, London. Otherwise she was gigging to sell her home-burned CDs and gain a reputation.  She started getting recognition by performances at the East Village’s Sidewalk Café, CB’s Gallery, the Living Room, the Knitting Factory, Fez and Tonic that led to signing with Sire in 2004.

She was on Loose Women (Housewife Daytime TV show in the UK) back in 2007 — and later that year — during a sound-check for her gig at Ryman Auditorium, Nashville on 14th November that year, she collapsed due to intense vertigo as a result of an inner ear infection, and was rushed to hospital, cancelling the concert.  I can relate to that as I was suffering a similar state of affairs at that time too.

I take my hat off to her; she’s not had it easy, she’s a grafter, and she’s done a lot already with her life.  She’s definitely one to keep an eye on; some people just attract happenings and events!

[Embedded videoclip from YouTube: Spektor’s “Samson”]


[Embedded videoclip from YouTube: Spektor’s “Machine”]





I have lost 1.0 kg since last week, 16.0 kg in total. BMI 26.6 kg/m2

I have survived twelve weeks on The Dukan Diet.

[Picture of excel bar chart showing 12th weeks on dukan diet]

My scales state that I am now 79.5 kg.  After last week’s dip I expected either to have plateau’d or to return to pattern loss of 1.5 kg a week. At the end, it was better than plateau but not as good as a return to form.  A slow down in weight loss is what the official loss curve predicts, and I guess it makes sense as I get nearer to my last stable weight region.

See ya next Thursday!




[Picture of the band called ratatat]Aw, maaan. I have really been getting a lot of enjoyment from my music since I replaced my in-ear phones with proper headphones.  The difference is outstanding.  My walking about they city has become a joy despite the rain and cheerless grey sky.

Today I was rather enjoying Ratatat’s album “Classics“, it’s about four years old but it’s still fresh-sounding to me.

Mike Stroud and Evan Mast have come up with an excellent album — my fave this week being “Loud Pipes“, sublime.

Ratatat has toured in support of loads of band —  Björk, Daft Punk, Mouse on Mars, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, CSS, The Faint, Super Furry Animals, Clinic, Panther, The Killers, and Mogwai. They even became the first band to perform a public show inside the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (back in October 2006), so it is  a surprise to me that they are not better known.

Anyway, I don’t care about that, all I care about is the music.  I’d recommend Ratatat to anyone.

Check out their official website here: but they are also here:, and (of course) try

[embedded video of Loud Pipes by Ratatat]