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As 2015 approaches and I look back over the past year I can honestly say that one of my proudest achievements of 2014 was being awarded Shittest Tutor Of The Year by graduating UCS Graphic Design and Illustration students, (albeit via Mr Bingo’s Hate Mail project book ).

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Happy New Year to all Dubdog readers. Here’s to 2015.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

No lengthy introduction to my annual music round-up this year due to illness at the time of posting. My highlight releases and re-releases of the year, (those that I’ve returned to the most over the course of the last 12 months), have been, well, highlighted.

Most important band of the year? It can be none other than Sleaford Mods. Why? Well, for many reasons—because they are aesthetically the antithesis of Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Farage; because they have zero pretensions; because they are not a ‘protest’ band; because not even 6music can play them despite desperately wanting to jump on the bandwagon; because they were the only band worth seeing live in 2014, (which is lucky as they were pretty much the only band I did see besides reggae superstars Jimmy Cliff and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry); but mostly because of so many great lyrics, such as: “I can’t believe the rich still exist, let alone run the fucking country”; “The smell of piss is so strong is smells like decent bacon”; “Cameron’s hairdresser got an MBE, I said to my wife ‘you’d better shoot me'”, and, well, if you’ve heard them you’ll know. If you haven’t, scour YouTube.

Lastly before we get to the list, RIP SpaceApe. You’ll be sadly missed.

Kasai Allstars – Beware The Fetish
Laetitia Sadier – Something Shines
Swans – To Be Kind
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2
Dels – Petals Have Fallen
Mogwai – Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1. EP
Sleaford Mods – Tiswas EP
Robert Wyatt – Different Every Time
Fugazi – First Demo, End Hits, Instrument
Bo Ningen – III
Tony Allen – Film of Life
Hacker Farm – Poundland
Dead Rat Orchestra – Pearl Fishers / Boat Notchers
Kate Tempest – Everybody Down
Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls – Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls
Various – The Wire Tapper 36
The Pop Group – We Are Time / Cabinet of Curiosities
Kode9 & The Spaceape – Killing Season EP
Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin – Mynd
Jon Langford & Skull Orchard – Here Be Monsters
Mary Gauthier – Live at Blue Rock
Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
Rapeman – Two Nuns And A Pack Mule
Hacker Farm/Libbe Matz Gang – Crass In Africa
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Singer’s Grave A Sea Of Tongues
Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
Apex Twin – Syro
Big Black – Rich Man’s Eight Track Tape
Shellac – Dude Incredible, At Action Park
Liz Green – Haul Away!
Killing Joke – In Dub
Augustus Pablo – Born To Dub You
The Bug – Angels & Devils
Viv Albertine – The Vermillion Boarder
Fun Boy Three – Fun Boy Three
Mogwai – Come On Die Young / appendix
King Creosote – From Scotland With Love
Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business
Various – Studio One Dancehall, Sir Coxsone In The Dance: The Foundation Sound
Various – Frontline presents Dub 1975–1980
Various – Frontline presents Roots1975–1979
Edvard Graham Lewis – All Above
Eno . Hyde – Someday World, High Life
Cabaret Voltaire – #7885: Electropunk to Technopop 1978–1985
Death Grips – Niggas On The Moon
Various – Hyperdub 10.1
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Back At The Controls
Plaid – Reachy Prints
Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack
Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit
Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold + Tally All The Things That You Broke
The Bad Plus – The Rites Of Spring
Steve Ignorant with Paranoid Vision – When?
Fat White Family – Champagne Holocaust
Various – Wire Tapper 34
Sons of Kemet – Burn
Polar Bear – In Each And Every One
Liars – Mess
Iggy Pop – Zombie Birdhouse (thanks Ken)
Metronomy – Love Letters
Deadbeat & Paul St Hilaire – The Infinity Dub Sessions
Sleaford Mods – Chubbed up. The Singles Collection.
St Vincent – St Vincent
Various – Inner City Beat: Detective Themes, Spy Music and Imaginary Thrillers
Neneh Cherry – Blank Project
Beck – Morning Phase
Various – Evolution Of Dub Vol 8: The Search For New Life
Various – Studio One Rocksteady
The Upsetters – The Good, The Bad And The Upsetters
Young Fathers – Dead
The Move – Anthology 1966–1972
The Ex – How Thick You Think/That’s Not A Virus
Various – Songlines Top Of The World #98 +
Actress – Ghettoville
Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything
Warpaint – Warpaint
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
Fire! – (Without Noticing)
The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock – The Brutal Here And Now
Primitive Calculators – The World Is Fucked

Since leaving Facebook a while ago I’ve been meaning to update or remove other online presences of mine. As a result I have now spent some of this morning on a purge. I am only notifying Dubdog readers here in case trawling through previous posts you find some links are now broken.

With my long time project McJunk on hiatus, I’ve updated its website to take account of this and deleted McJunk’s Facebook page and Tumblr submission site. Unfortunately, as McJunk on Tumblr was the first Tumblr I set up it was automatically my ‘primary site’, which meant I couldn’t delete the site with out obliterating all my other Tumblr projects, (it seems crazy Tumblr doesn’t allow you to switch ‘primary sites’). I don’t regret loosing most of these other projects as none were particularly useful to me now, except that is for my type and print publication research archive The Small Letter. That said, I was never overly happy with the format of Tumblr for this archive so I bit the bullet and hit delete. I plan to resurrect The Small Letter, or a variation there of, at another time in another online space in the future when I have a little more time on my hands.

Along with these changes, the McJunk hardback book is now no longer available to buy so if you do own a copy it is now a very rare thing indeed. However, the essay and accompanying presentation are still available to download for free from my Academia.edu profile.

Lastly, I have also removed my ‘archive’ portfolio page from this site. It had moved further and further away from representing what my current interests and activities are.

It’s not everyday your local Tory MP big’s you up in the local newspaper. But to my surprise, I found my McJunk project featured in MP Ben Gummer’s weekly Ipswich Star article yesterday.

While I’m not sure Ben has completely seen he point of McJunk, (see McJunk website here), and I’m certainly not sure that the free advertising McDonald’s are getting from this is appropriate, I can’t be too harsh on the man as I expect that Ben’s love of beef burgers is a family thing that he is unable to distance himself from.

McGummer

Ipswich Star, Friday 25 July 2014

Contractual Freedom is a short film I made seven years ago about the then obsession with ID Cards and surveillance that Tony Blair’s governement had at the time.

While not directly relevant to the current internet spy scandle, there are enough cross overs to feel it is worth posting this old film again in 2013.

Contractual Freedom

Contractual Freedom was short listed for the Big Issue Film Festival in 2007.

Earlier this week I was asked to go head to head on the radio in a song war with a friend of mine Tim Hetherington. Kim Trotter, who hosts the All Things Considered show on Ipswich Community Radio runs a feature called Wheels of Steel, where by she pits two people’s song choices against each other in three categories. When Kim asked if I’d be interested, I jumped at the chance, as I’m always up for a bit of musical competitiveness.

The winner was decided by studio guests, the band Reggae Rainbows, and I think I scraped a narrow win against Tim, 2–1, through bias, as one of my choices was Ken Boothe. You can listen to the show here—the Wheels of Steel feature is about an hour in.

For those without the time, here are the tunes I picked, and their competition, plus the rationale I emailed to Kim to justify my choices.

Best punk song: Shot By Both Sides by Magazine vs Alternative Ulster by Stiff Little Fingers
This was actually my second choice, the first being Boredom by the Buzzcocks from their Spiral Scratch EP. However, as that had swearing in it and not suitable for broadcast at 11am on a Thursday morning, I went for Magazine. Howard Devoto has the best Punk voice ever, (he also sung Boredom, as he was originally in the Buzzcocks before leaving after Spiral Scratch to form Magazine). The lyrics have an outsider spirit which completely fits the original punk ethos, as well as having nihilistic undertones. The fact that Pete Shelley allowed Devoto to take a guitar riff with him when he left the band and use it for Shot By Both Sides completes the circle on this. However, the irony is that Devoto formed Magazine because he didn’t want to be confined to punks’ narrow and reductive aesthetic, so I’m sure he wouldn’t be best pleased with thinking it is thought of as a punk classic.

Best pop song: Prince Charming by Adam And The Ants vs Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode
The opening guitar strum, the primal screams, and the acoustic riff all set this song up for greatness. And then the lyrics kick in, declaring that no one should be afraid to express themselves. Raising self-esteem and personal pride lies at the heart of this song, and that, in my mind, sends an important personal/political message from the get go. Questioning who has the right to tell anyone what to do, how to dress or how to behave should be at the heart of pop, whether implicitly through dress codes or explicitly through lyrics, and pop has been doing this since Elvis first shook his legs in Memphis in July 1954. My love for this song was reaffirmed when I saw Adam Ant in Ipswich last July, and the sight of pretty much the entire audience, (except for me), do ‘that’ dance, made me smile in admiration at them all as Adam sang ‘ridicule is nothing to be scared of’, probably one of the best pop lyrics ever.

Best sing along song: Everything I Own by Ken Boothe vs Sweet Talking Woman by ELO
This song is sheer emotion—there is something about Boothe’s tender vocal delivery that pulls directly on the heart strings. I have always been fascinated by how he pronounces his ‘H’s on this, which I stupidly emulate when I join in wishing I had such a voice as his. I sometimes wonder whether I just HAVE to sing along to stop myself from sobbing uncontrollably, it is that powerful. It is sung directly to the listener forcing you to FEEL his heartache. And all to a gorgeous Lover’s Rock rhythm to boot. But please, don’t anyone mention the Boy George version, or I’m likely to get very angry.

 

Thanks Kim and Tim, this was great fun.

TheShipSongSingle

Next weekend I’m cashing in a Christmas present from Claire—a day at Winklebag Press in the middle of the Suffolk countryside. There I hope to learn how to use an Adana ‘Eight-Five’ letterpress tabletop printer, also a present from Claire.

For my inky day out, I’ve artworked a new title for my Songcard project, (switching Helvetica for Univers in the process as Winklebag have limited typefaces), in honour of our 10th wedding anniversary.

Photos of my progress will follow after next week.

 

A new year, a new page on the Dubdog blog.

Looking at the menu above, regular visitors here will notice a new page titled Work has suddenly appeared. Since I moved from Blogger to WordPress early in 2012, I have been meaning to create a section on this site to showcase some of my creative output, and have finally gotten round to making one. This was largely prompted as I’ve recently had to create a portfolio pdf for an application, (more news on this later), which will hopefully lead to some exciting news, (for me at least), later in the year.

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The portfolio showcases a range of work created over the last 10 years, and includes both commissions and self-set projects and its aim is to demonstrate as wide an approach to visual communication as possible. It was difficult to decide what went in and what was left out, and those familiar with my long standing portfolio site that I shut down in 2010 will recognise some of the work.

Having this facility here also allows me to add other content for visitors to download, such as my McJunk essay and presentation presentation slides. This is particularly useful for those that balk at the ever increasing costs of Blurb books and who can’t afford to purchase a copy of McJunk.

While I’m discussing the four letter word that is work, 2013 is starting to look like a creative year for Dubdog, which will be a challenge to fit in alongside the full-time day job, but should be rewarding none-the-less. I’ve been approached to do some design work for a renowned fine art photographer, and the next issue of the UCS academic journal, Childhood Remixed, is being published at the end of February, so I will be busy designing that from late January onwards.

As well as the above, I also have a couple of photographic projects up my sleeve. One, called Graphic Interruptions, has already started seeing the light of day on Flickr, where I’m investigating instances of  where graphic content collides, is interrupted by, or clashes with natural or man-made forms. Much like McJunk, I’m unsure of where this is going as yet, and as a project it is in its infancy, but none-the-less I finding it visually intriguing. Alongside this is another photographic project which is still in the testing phase, and may or may not be mentioned again, depending on initial results.

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Thanks to all the readers who have stopped by here in the last year, and I look forward to your company again throughout 2013.

This week I published number 1000 image of McJunk to Flickr. This is a noteworthy occasion, because at the publication of the McJunk photo book in January 2011, I had only just uploaded 500 images. Therefore, in less than one and a half years, I’ve doubled the number of photographs of McDonald’s litter it had previously taken me 9 years to collect. It is difficult to tell whether this is because there is more McJunk out there, or because since the publication of the book, I’ve been more proactive in capturing examples I happen upon.

Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to take a hiatus from McJunk to concentrate my spare time on some other project ideas I’ve been scribbling in notebooks recently. To mark this breathing space, I’ve decided to publicly publish the essay I wrote to accompany the book. I will continue to take submissions to the McJunk project and post them to Tumblr, and the book will still be available—see the McJunk website for details. The McFacebook page will, likewise, continue. And if you are interested in seeing what 1000 piece of McDonald’s litter looks like, please visit the Flickr set.

The essay can be downloaded from the Dubdog Archive page

McJunk number 1000

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