The Modern Antiquarian for tQ

Music, Writing

In the first of their subscriber-exclusive Low Culture essays, I have opened up my battered copy of Julian Cope’s The Modern Antiquarian for The Quietus to argue how this classic guide to Britain’s neolithic remains has a strikingly modern relevance. An extract of ‘A Glimmer of Cope’ is available to read here.

Subscribers get perks including music, podcasts and bonus long read features penned by special guest writers such as Darran Anderson on the occulted history of kids TV show Knightmare; Megan Nolan on the unadulterated joy of loving Billy Joel; Joy White on grime as a contemporary Black British genre; Daniel Dylan Wray on John Cale and Oobah Butler on the anarchic artist Christian Jankowski. Plus, editors John and Luke are clambering into a clapped out old motor to drive round the UK to interview a wealth of guests such as legendary folk singer Shirley Collins, Repeater Books supremo Tariq Goddard and writer John Higgs about the culture that has shaped them for a brand new series of podcasts exclusively for subscribers – get the first episode as soon as you sign up today. Support on the last bastions of quality music journalism and sign up today!

Dennis And Lois: The Oldest Living Indie Rockers Of Our Luminous Age

Film&TV, Music, Writing

I have written a feature on the extraordinary lives of Dennis and Lois, two unsung heroes of the trans-Atlantic alternative underground. A new documentary based on these legendary superfans of rock ‘n roll, and directed by Chris Cassidy, is out this week. Visit The Quietus to hear more about this New York couple and their shrine to 20th century pop culture.

Portico Prize in The New Review

Books

Anita Sethi has interviewed six shortlisted writers (including myself) for this year’s Portico Prize for the Observer New Review… with portrait photographs by Richard Saker (this one was taken in Mytholmroyd on a cold, blustery December afternoon)

‘Do writers in the north have to work harder to get published? Is there a northern aesthetic? We talk to the six authors shortlisted for the Portico prize – AKA the “Booker of the north”‘

Sacred Heart for Smagghe & Cross

Music, Poetry

One of my poems, Sacred Heart, makes an appearance on Smagghe & Cross’s new LP, 1819, via Offen Music later this month. It is taken from Cigarettes in Bed (Blackheath Books, 2008), and was recorded at Air Edel studio with Ivan and Rupert. The first installment, Cock of the North, featured on their previous album release, MA. This new spoken word track, From Sacred Heart, is available to purchase from 27/01 as a download or on vinyl through Offen Music, and Rough Trade etc.  

You can listen to a preview on Juno. It sounds nothing like me at all; which is just perfect. It’s a dark, drone-like excursion into the mind’s swampy sewer. Beelzebub in Pigalle.

Here’s the official blurb…

“This second LP on Offen is an ajar window overlooking a phantasmagoric world; a remembrance of days that never were. The music is sparse, the past is forever: ghosts of industries are conjured through the English countryside, fading memories play static with an idea of romance, the sun breaks through the iron clouds. A record free of uncouth nostalgia but laced with ethereal melancholia…”

More info at Ransom Note and Resident Advisor.

Channelling the Spirit of the North

Books

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile has made it onto this year’s £10,000 Portico Prize for Literature shortlist, an award for writing that “best evokes the spirit of the North”. Other shortlisted titles include Saltwater by Jessica Andrews (Sceptre), Ironopolis by Glen James Brown (Parthian), The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson (Lightning Books), The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney (Picador), and Under the Rock: The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers (Elliott & Thompson).

Here’s what the Bookseller had to say about it:

The shortlist of six was revealed on Monday (9th December) and was praised by the judges for celebrating “the spirit of the people, the spirit of place and the wonderful diversity of the North”. It comprises four fiction titles, three of which are debuts, and two non-fiction titles, while the ratio of books from mainstream publishers against independents is 50:50.

The six books were whittled down from a longlist selected by the Portico Prize’s newly formed Society of Readers and Writers. They were chosen by a panel of judges chaired by journalist and broadcaster Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads.

Savidge said: “This list defies the rumour that it’s grim up North. Yes, it can be gritty up North; yes, it can be gothic up North; but more than anything it’s glorious and great up North. These books celebrate the spirit of the people, the spirit of place and the wonderful diversity of the North…”

Click here for the full article

Sweating Tears with Fat White Family at Rough Trade Books

Books, Music

The good ship Rough Trade Books have published an exclusive new edition, Sweating Tears with Fat White Family. It’s a pamphlet that I have worked on alongside Lisa Cradduck (my long-term collaborator and partner-in-crime) and together we have created this beautifully sordid publication. This exclusive edition features demonic engravings by printmaker Lisa Cradduck, inspired by Berber folklore and the grotesque 16th century drolleries of Richard Breton.

“A revealing examination of the dysfunctional songwriting partnership at the heart of one of Britain’s most unpredictable and controversial contemporary rock ’n’ roll bands, Sweating Tears with Fat White Family features candid interviews by author Adelle Stripe with Fat White Family singer Lias Saoudi and guitarist Saul Adamczewski. From childhood traumas to adult squalor and critical success, it is a tale of bitterness, humour, excess, cruelty, and the vile affections that bind this exceptional pairing on their continued Orphean descent into the underworld.”

Sweating Tears forms part of the Rough Trade “naughty series”, and is available to purchase online at Rough Trade Books, Drift Records, Bleep, Village Leeds and at Rough Trade stores. Copies are also available in galleries and bookshops across the UK, US and Europe. Check the full list of stockists here.

It was named as one of the Irish Times’ Books of the Year in 2019.

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile on Tour: Reviews

Theatre

Lisa Holdsworth’s stage adaptation of Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile (with Freedom Studios) is touring across Yorkshire in June. It has received a series of extraordinary reviews in the press this week. These are just a few…

Vibrant and unsentimental, a shining example of site-specific work ★★★★ The Observer

A celebration of fierce, resilient women ” ★★★★ The Guardian

Poignant and resonant… a relevant and emotive caution against the one-size-fits-all approach of the privileged theatre industry” ★★★★ The Stage

The real deal” ★★★★ The Times

“A funny, desperately sad tale of a young woman whose blazing talent made her a once-in-a-generation dramatist” ★★★★ Mail on Sunday

“Compelling and totally believable… it honours Dunbar’s legacy in a manner of which she surely would have approved” ★★★★ Yorkshire Post

“Powerful and convincing” ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

“A deeply human celebration of a young, female, regional, working-class voice who was important not in spite of, but because of, the life she led and the place she came from” ★★★★ Broadway World

“This brutally honest and beautifully written work, performed by a cast who really get it, would have had Andrea raising a glass to them in The Beacon” ★★★★ North West End

Lively, engaging and packs one hell of a punch” British Theatre Guide

A really impressive feat of acting and staging” The Culture Vulture 

“The truth does hurt, but thank goodness Dunbar chose to tell it”  The Independent 

Fat White Family Hit Paydirt: Serfs Up! Reviewed

Music

I have written the lead review on Fat White Family’s new LP for The Quietus. “There is no darkness like that of a bleak Yorkshire winter, days when the light barely rises and outside the streets are pounded with relentless horizontal rain. It is fitting that from this climate and post-industrial landscape emerges Serfs Up!, a shimmering spectacle of delight. Recorded at Champzone Studios in Attercliffe, Sheffield, Fat White Family’s third album should be regarded alongside their forebears – Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and Pulp – as a welcome addition to the musical canon of Steel City…”

Andrea Dunbar’s life story to be staged in Bradford pub

Theatre

I’m pleased to announce that my novel Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is being adapted for the stage by Lisa Holdsworth and Freedom Studios in 2019. Chris Wiegand wrote a feature about the new play in today’s Guardian, “A new drama is to revisit the life and early death of Andrea Dunbar, the playwright who became a sensation with Rita, Sue and Bob Too, a dark comedy inspired by the Yorkshire housing estate where she lived. The play, written by Lisa Holdsworth, will be staged in a pub in Dunbar’s native Bradford in May next year. It is adapted from Adelle Stripe’s strikingly atmospheric novel about Dunbar, which captures Dunbar’s experience of poverty and abuse, her quick wit and her flair as a playwright. Holdsworth says her adaptation doesn’t give a voice to the men who mistreated Dunbar but instead focuses on ‘women’s relationships and how they quietly get on with things and get things done…'”

Visit Freedom Studios‘ website for tickets and further information