Band About Town: The Pagans

first_imgMore often spotted balancing his cello on the back of a bike, softly-spoken music student Duncan Strachan is lesser known as the front-man of this nine piece indie-folk collective, based at Catz during term time and found touring the highlands and islands of Scotland in the Vac. Bringing together endowed feminists, hippie mothers, maths lovers, ex-choristers and prospective poets, The Pagans are, in folkloric terms, a witches’ brew of magical musical potions. And collectively, they’ve stuck their greedy little fingers in every kind of musical pie that Oxford has to offer – from running a regular club night “Indulgence” to playing for the Oxford University Orchestra. The line-up – nine people, twelve opinions, according to Strachan – features a core of guitars and the bell-like tones of the Fender Rhodes piano, balanced with more traditional acoustic instruments such as fiddles, saxophone and clarinet. The similarity of forces begs comparision with the quasi-theatrical instrumentals of chamber pop bands such as Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene but The Pagans sit just as easily with acid/freak-folk like Animal Collective or Joanna Newsom. Cruising atop the instrumental forces, vocals from Siobhan Wilson and Strachan on Standing on the Threshold take the tenderness of Vashti Bunyan or Newsom but forgo child-like fragility in favour of an edgy intensity, pushing their ranges to the limit.I’m keen to understand how Strachan squares his tutorials in baroque counterpoint and techniques of composition with song-writing for a completely different genre. He’s keen to explain that although borrowing tone rows from the second Viennese school can help to create a structure for an album which links the sound-world of each piece – less an explanation than a further layer of bafflement – these sort of techniques are only used to guide and not to restrict the creative process, which places equal emphasis on composition and improvisation. With four composers contributing songs, they’re not above using themes to create an overall character. The Pagans’ forthcoming album ‘Witches,’ which will be released on their own fledgling record label ‘Heretical,’ is a concept album based on Celtic Folkore. Reminiscent of Fairport Convention’s ‘Tam Lin,’ ‘Witches’ goes beyond old-style folk narratives by underlining ballads with Debussyian modal harmonies layered with footstomping drums. Whether it’s the effect of quality library time with books on post-modern musicology or not, The Pagans aren’t content to be just a band about town. Duncan fills me in on their forays into film, politics and amateur music therapy. “Using Shostakovich’s 8th quartet, symbolic of a voice speaking out from under Soviet oppression, we made it into the local papers for performing outside the Chinese Embassy in Edinburgh in protest against their treatment of the Falun Gong.” Nice. Other projects include an album investigating environmentalism and performing in a Nativity play with autistic children.Having supported Scotland’s leading exponents of Celtic fusion, The Peatbog Faeries, and post-punk London scensters Revere, who are soon to be featured in an MTV documentary, The Pagans’ potential fans seem to sit amongst crossover-classical, jazz, folk-indie or alternative pop listeners. However, what really drives them is the spirit of Prog-rock; the will to experiment and fuse ideas together melded with social ambition. Strachan claims that “Even when we’ve got a sound we love, we don’t want to stay in the same place.” Ottwell Bablast_img read more

Review: David Bowie – The Next Day

first_img★★★★★Five StarsThis time last year David Bowie would have been coming to terms with his newly acquired bus pass having spent the last decade in retirement with his family. On the 8th January this year however, we received the incredible news that The Thin White Duke had been busy recording his 27th studio album, The Next Day – his first since 2003. Considering he had turned down the opportunity to play the TwentyTwelve Olympicstm – arguably the biggest one off performance platform Britain has ever seen (so big they gave half of it to Emili Sandé) – it is fair to say that even his most devout fans had come to accept that the career of their idol had come to an end. Therefore the announcement from Bowie’s twitter page on his 66th birthday that he had a surprise installed for us on his website (new single ‘Where Are We Now’ and a new album out soon) was always going to generate an intense volume of excitement. The best part being that, with The Next Day, it was worth it.The opening track’s refrain of “Here I am, not quite dying” – to the backing of a pulsating, jerking rhythm that only Bowie could ever make work – defiantly announces his return from the start and sets the tone for an album that simultaneously manages to turn back the clock on Bowie’s career whilst still seeming light years ahead of anyone else.A recurring theme of the album is Bowie revisiting his time in Berlin in the late 1970s, the album’s cover work being the most obvious example and the dirty sax riff on second track ‘Dirty Boys’ sounding at one with his work of the time. ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, the album’s latest single, swiftly follows with a driving bass rhythm and unnerving vocal style. Singing about the world’s celebrity obsession, it’s hard not to hear Bowie revealing his own frustrations at life in the spotlight; though trying to read too much into Bowie lyrics can quite easily lead you down blind alleys. ‘Love is Lost’ comes next, again featuring driving rhythms but also with an excellent climactic bridge before we come to the album’s first slower song, and also the song that announced this album to the world. ‘Where Are We Now’ is the first time we realise that Bowie has aged since 1978. His voice, for once so brittle, asking us “where are we now” whilst referencing times long gone is oddly revealing for an artist of Bowie’s mystique. This is a beautifully emotive song that gets better with each listen (which is lucky considering how much Radio 2 and 6 Music play it).‘Valentine’s Day’ is lovely pop with a sweet melody and chord changes that manage to surprise and please in equal measure. If not quite reaching the same heights, with its dominating lead guitar line it sounds more reminiscent of 1972’s Ziggy Stardust. We then get sent a further 8 years forward to Scary Monsters with ‘If You Can See Me’; a song that sounds as though it belongs in a sci-fi chase sequence. Bowie’s TARDIS keeps working its magic as the next song, ‘I’d Rather Be High’, has flowing Indian style riffs that could have snuck their way onto the Magical Mystery Tour. The chorus of “I’d rather be high, I’d rather be deaf, than training these guns on those men in the sand” even makes me want to go out and protest against the Vietnam War. ‘I’d Rather Be High’ is brilliantly catchy and goes to show that Bowie’s knack for a great innovative pop song has never left him.The Next Day’s producer Tony Visconti was the man used for Low and Heroes, and ‘How Does The Grass Grow?’ brings out the similarities most strongly with its opening synths and constant switching of vocal textures. Full of attitude and innovation, it grabs your attention throughout whilst never seeming forced. The penultimate track is a waltz timed ballad, ‘You Feel So Lonely You Could Die’, a name straight out of the Morrissey guidebook. Despite being no ‘Five Years’, in the context of the album it is an important song, breaking away from the rock n’ roll before the final track.Album closer, ‘Heat’, is awesome. Again, we hear Bowie’s age and experience come out beautifully in his voice but this time to the backing of deep, space-age synths. An ominous song, it would surely get Freud’s pulse racing: “my father and the prison, I could only love you by hating him more”. Gradually it builds with acoustic strumming, bass and haunting strings to a great intensity before fading out to a drone; no one else sounds like this.The worry leading up to The Next Day’s release was that it would eventually fall into the group of decent if a bit disappointing albums he released before his hiatus; Bowie has done more than enough to ensure that that won’t happen with this album. During Bowie’s peak he went out of his way to write a brilliant album in each of the different popular styles (Space Oddity – Folk; Man Who Sold The World – Rock; Young Americans – Soul etc.), he would always be one step ahead of the pack. The problems started to arise when he continued this approach whilst no longer being so relevant in the 1990s. By trying to make new sounding albums his priority rather than a collection of great songs, however admirable his innovation was, you never continued to listen to the record after the hype had died down. With The Next Day, Bowie hasn’t tried to make an electronic album, a rock album or a funk album but simply a great David Bowie album; that is The Next Day’s greatest success.last_img read more

Flooding round-up: how bakers coped

first_imgBakers nationwide have been left counting the cost after high winds and heavy rain devastated the UK over Christmas and the start of the New Year.One place heavily affected was Mytholmroyd in West Yorkshire, which was left battered after the River Calder burst its banks.For Waites Confectioners it was the second time the bakery had been hit by severe flooding in the past few years. The company was hit in 2012 and after that time had been left without insurance cover.Bakery director Janet Chew-Tetlaw criticised the government for failing to ensure the town was safe. “The floods of three years ago were devastating, but this is worse. The bakery is devastated now, but the government has done nothing to help us,” she said.“They come round and say what they are going to do and make big promises, but nothing ever comes out of it. We are told there is funding for everything, but we never see the money been spent.”Heartbreak: people trudge through floods in MytholmroydThe bakery remains closed at the time of going to press. Waites Confectioners was founded in Mytholmroyd over 100 years ago and now has two sites, one in Mytholmroyd one in nearby Hebden Bridge. Janet has been running the operation for 30 years.The floods that hit Britain in December caused widespread destruction of their own. United Biscuits’ (UB) Carlisle factory was flooded by over a metre of water in the wake of Storm Desmond. The misery was compounded this month when severe flooding hit Cumbria again. This affected one of food and farming conglomerate Carr’s major customers, believed to be UB again.Carr’s chief executive Tim Davies said: “Despite the direct impact of the floods… the speed of our recovery owes much to the resilience and tenacity of our employees.”Lancaster had a power outage for about a week, but Filbert’s bakery carried on thanks to a few heavy-duty generators. Owner and director Felicity Diurwyn told British Baker: “We’re on slightly higher ground so we weren’t physically flooded, but a significant supplier of ours was flooded in Kendall. We changed all our lines and just worked with what we had, but in the build up to Christmas it was pretty tense.”She added: “We were very patient with them (the suppliers), but eventually we had to demand that they deliver to us so that we could complete our Christmas orders. Thank god our freezers didn’t fully defrost, as that would have been a nightmare. We did have to take piles of croissants home to eat so that they didn’t go to waste – it was a pastry feast!”A lucky escape: Felicity Diurwyn of Filbert’s bakery in Lancaster had to cope with a flooded supplierShe goes on to praise another local bakery, Saker Organic Bread (part of Saker Wholefoods) who “had it far worse but were absolutely amazing. They had 4ft of water all the way through the bakery, and still managed to partly open up again for business the following week. They’re incredible – a real credit to the industry.”And it would appear to be a similar story across the board – the floods are affecting plenty of bakers to varying degrees, but they are all determined to carry on.Alex Dalgetty & Sons is a fifth generation bakery in Galashiels, Selkirkshire, specialising in traditional breads. The business is now run by Craig Murray, the original Dalgetty’s great-great-grandson. He said: “There has definitely been flooding around here, but we’ve been lucky enough to have been able to carry on – it’s been business as usual for us.”It was a similar story near Glasgow for family bakers McGhee & Sons’ owner Gordon McGhee, who said: “We’re one of the lucky ones really as we’ve had no issues – I know there are stacks of people out there who’ve had it really tough, but apart from the odd road closure we’ve held up ok.”Devastated: Waites Confectioners in Mytholmroyd has been hit by flooding again GroceryAid are a national charity who support the food and drink industry and would be happy to support bakers affected by flooding. Go to or call their free, confidential helpline, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: 08088 021122. Has your business been affected by flooding?Email our news desk: [email protected]last_img read more

Odds & Ends: Barbra Streisand’s Broadway Encore & More

first_imgBarbra Streisand(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Barbra Streisand’s Broadway EncoreIt’s as if Barbra Streisand never said goodbye to the Great White Way! The legendary star will release a duets album, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, later this year. Streisand has also announced a new tour, which is scheduled to kick off on August 2 at L.A.’s Staples Center and run through August 23 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. The honorary Tony winner is set to play August 11 and August 13 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. No word yet on who has been tapped to appear on the record with Streisand, but we can think of a three-time Audience Choice Award winner who would jump at the chance.Now Megan Hilty Will Sing for Queens2016 Tony nominee Megan Hilty is set to team up with the previously reported Matthew Morrison for a concert with the New York Pops. Under the musical direction of Steven Reineke, the performance is scheduled for July 7 at the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, N.Y. We’re sure it will be smashing.CBS Enlists Steven PasqualeCongratulations to stage and screen favorite Steven Pasquale—Doubt, the pilot he starred in opposite Katherine Heigl, has received a series order from CBS. Variety reports that the show follows a hotshot defense lawyer who falls for her charming client, who could be responsible for a brutal crime. You can catch Pasqaule off-Broadway in The Robber Bridegroom through May 29.Nigel Lindsay Tapped for Guys and DollsNigel Lindsay will join the oldest established permanent floating craps game in New York London! The stage and screen vet is set to step into the West End cast of Guys and Dolls as Nathan Deroit, taking over for Richard Kind. Lindsay will play a limited engagement May 26 through June 26; Kind’s final performance is scheduled for May 22.Lin-Manuel Miranda & Adam Pascal Duet in #Rent4HamThe always entertaining #Ham4Ham paid tribute to Rent over the weekend. The classic tuner is celebrating its 20th anniversary so Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda got together with quintessential Roger, Adam Pascal, along with Kenny Brescia (Rent’s original guitarist) and Alex Lacamoire on keys for a rendition of “What You Own.” Check it out below!center_img P.S. Sean Hayes (An Act of God) and CBS’ Mo Rocca will host this year’s Stars in the Alley on June 3.last_img read more

Northeastern states tighten belts as economy weakens

first_imgSTATES EXPERIENCE TIGHTER FISCAL CONDITIONS AS NATIONAL ECONOMY CONTINUES DECLINENGA and NASBO Release Latest Fiscal Survey of StatesWASHINGTON-Fiscal 2008 marked a turning point in state finances, with a significant increase in the number of states experiencing fiscal difficulties after several years of relative stability, according to the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).In a report released June 19, 2008, The Fiscal Survey of States, NGA and NASBO found that while fiscal conditions varied dramatically across states, overall expenditure growth rates declined in fiscal 2008 and the number of states experiencing revenue shortfalls increased. States expect continued expenditure pressures from a variety of sources, including health care and Medicaid, employee pensions and infrastructure. In addition, because states historically have continued to feel the impact of national economic downturns even after recovery begins, states could face even more difficult financial conditions in fiscal 2009 and beyond.In fiscal 2008, state general fund spending growth was 5.1 percent-about one-quarter lower than the 31-year state spending average of 6.7 percent. Additionally, governors’ recommended budgets for fiscal 2009 reflect a 1.0 percent increase in general fund spending. For 2008, four states projected negative expenditure growth, and 18 states reported negative growth in the governors’ recommended budgets for fiscal 2009. Also in fiscal 2008, 13 states reduced their enacted budgets, compared to three states in fiscal 2007, primarily as a result of a slowdown in revenue collections.”Fallout from the housing market decline, coupled with dramatic increases in the price of energy, is having a negative impact on state revenues, particularly corporate and sales tax revenues,” said NGA Executive Director Raymond C. Scheppach. “Governors know that meeting increasing expenditure expectations with limited revenues will present challenges even after the national economy rebounds.”State revenue collections were up 1.7 percent in fiscal 2008, with 15 states exceeding their original revenue projections, 14 states meeting their projections and 20 states falling below their projections.States’ largest expenditure for fiscal 2008 was health care, which accounts for nearly one-third of total state spending. Medicaid alone comprises about 22 percent of total state spending. With a projected growth rate of 8 percent annually through fiscal 2018, health care spending will continue to strain state budgets. Meanwhile, about half of governors included proposals to expand health care coverage for the uninsured in their proposed fiscal 2009 budgets. Approaches include using traditional Medicaid expansion and flexibilities offered under the Deficit Reduction Act, expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and using public-private partnerships to increase coverage.”This report reflects the impact of the economic downturn across the states, with some states beginning to experience a period of much slower spending and revenue growth,” said NASBO Executive Director Scott D. Pattison. “Although states’ total balances are relatively healthy right now, we are likely to see them dip dramatically over the next year or two as more states feel the full effects of the downturn.”Total year-end balances-ending balances and the amounts in budget stabilization funds-are a critical tool states use to balance their budgets during downturns. For fiscal 2008, however, the report shows a decline. At their peak in fiscal 2006, state balances totaled $69 billion-a very healthy 11.5 percent of expenditures. In fiscal 2007, total balances dropped to 10.5 percent of expenditures. Balances for fiscal 2008 are estimated at 8 percent of expenditures and are projected to drop to 7.5 percent of expenditures in fiscal 2009.This edition of The Fiscal Survey of States reflects actual fiscal 2007, estimated fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009 state budget data from governors’ recommended budgets. The data were collected during spring 2008.###Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s, most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit is external).The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) has served as the professional membership organization for state finance officers for more than sixty years. NASBO is the instrument through which the states collectively advance state budget practices. As the chief financial advisors to our nation’s governors, NASBO members are active participants in the public policy discussions at the state level. The major functions of the organization consist of research, policy development, education, training, and technical assistance. These are achieved primarily through NASBO’s publications, membership meetings, and training sessions. For more information, visit is external).last_img read more

Extending your disaster recovery plan beyond a battery powered radio

first_imgThis week at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference, Ted Koppel was a keynote speaker, discussing his latest book “Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.” It was a fitting discussion for credit union executives given not only the importance of disaster preparedness within our industry, but the major importance of banking and finance to our country’s survival.Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon…And yet, as Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid. The current Secretary of Homeland Security suggests keeping a battery-powered radio.Can you imagine a discussion with your examiner about your disaster recovery plan where you point out that you are prepared while holding up your transistor radio? continue reading » 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Radio star Luke Bradnam sells Gold Coast home

first_imgThe Monaco St property.More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa17 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoHe and partner Cathy Hallam bought the 2031sq m property — made up of one 981sq m block and one 1050sq m — 11 years ago for $1.85 million.At the time it was newly renovated with separate lounges, pool, a full-size all-weather tennis court and a boat shed.The home also has a purpose-built concrete mechanics pit in the four-car garage, ideal for a serious racing/car enthusiast according to a listing by agent Campbell Moore of Harcourts Coastal. Luke Bradnam has sold his Gold Coast house.RADIO announcer and Gold Coast Bulletin fishing columnist Luke Bradnam has sold his waterfront home in a multimillion-dollar deal.Mr Bradnam listed his five bedroom Broadbeach Waters home in November.It is on a “massive block on two titles” on popular Monaco St, a riverfront enclave made up of mega mansions on sprawling blocks. The Monaco St property.Mr Moore declined to reveal the sale price but said both the buyers and sellers were happy with the deal.Mr Bradnam, whose “first gig in radio” was giving out cold soft drinks off the B105 Black Thunder according to his TripleM bio, has a fierce love of the ocean and fishing — so it’s no surprise the property also has direct ocean access with 35.8m water frontage.center_img Luke Bradnam, right, with his Triple M co-hosts Ben “Dobbo” Dobbin and Libby Trickett. Pic Mark Cranitch.The property is 3km from the Surfers Paradise party strip and beach, and close to the new multimillion-dollar Pacific Fair shopping centre, Star casino and convention centre.Mr Bradnam works on radio for Triple M during the week and does weather, beach and surf reports for Channel 9 and the Bulletin.last_img read more

The neoliberal seductiveness of euthanasia

first_imgThe Daily Blog 17 December 2017Family First Comment: We are being conned into believing euthanasia is a solution to a fear of living in pain during death that isn’t the reality for the vast majority of us.This legislation is to appease alpha personalities who can not tolerate the idea of needing help in the painful end of their lives, but it will be used against the poorest and most vulnerable who are already so easily abused by the State.Self-assisted suicide – which is what we are really discussing here, not the far more sterilised ‘euthanasia’, will become a means to a neoliberal end in NZ.There is a neoliberal seductiveness about euthanasia.It creates this false narrative of ‘choice’ and puts us all in the fake position of ‘what if it was me’.The truth is that the vast majority of those who die do so without immense pain and suffering, this is legislation for the exceptions, not the rule…Many people fear death partly because of the perception they might suffer increasing pain and other awful symptoms the nearer it gets.There is often the belief palliative care may not alleviate such pain, leaving many people to die excruciating deaths.But an excruciating death is extremely rare, reports The Conversation.The evidence about palliative care is that pain and other symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia and breathing issues, actually improve as people move closer to death.More than 85 percent of palliative care patients have no severe symptoms by the time they die.Evidence from the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) at the University of Wallongong shows that there has been a statistically significant improvement over the last decade in pain and other end-of-life symptoms.…more than 85% of palliative care patients have no severe symptoms by the time of death? The issue here is that palliative care is expensive, and what the Government are suggesting is cost cutting.It should come as no surprise that ACT, the far right political party are pushing for this reform. For them it is the perfect collusion of total individualism (the act to kill yourself) and the purity of the market to efficiently end those no longer contributing.Self-assisted suicide – which is what we are really discussing here, not the far more sterilised ‘euthanasia’, will become a means to a neoliberal end in NZ.Look at the horrific manner in which NZs institutes treat the most vulnerable. Look at how we treat the mentally ill, the poor and prisoners. How long do any of you honestly believe it will take for some Wellington bureaucrat to start planning to use this legislation for all those costing the health budget?It happened before under National in the 1990s, and that was when euthanasia was illegal.We are being conned into believing euthanasia is a solution to a fear of living in pain during death that isn’t the reality for the vast majority of us.This legislation is to appease alpha personalities who can not tolerate the idea of needing help in the painful end of their lives, but it will be used against the poorest and most vulnerable who are already so easily abused by the State. up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

Avic and Shacman merge to facilitate distribution of heavy trucks…

first_imgChinese companies, AVIC International Beijing and Shacman have merged to supply heavy-duty trucks for the Kenyan construction market. Both companies are well known for their expertise in that particular sector and have promised to scale up business activity even as demand for materials soars in the country.AVIC-SHACMAN Company limited will distribute heavy trucks under the brands SHANTUI and JAC. The joint venture will facilitate distribution of heavy trucks.last_img

2 suspects jailed for ‘theft try’

first_imgWith the help of the closed-circuittelevision footage, the suspects were nabbed and identified as 19-year old SkyInventor and 24-year-old Jay Rose Delprado, a police report showed. Personnel of the Majesty Spa reportedInventor and Delprado to the police around 7 p.m. on Dec 29, the reportadded. Bacolod City – Police arrested two suspects who tried to cart awaykaraoke equipment worth around P46,340 at a bar in Barangay Singcang-Airport. Inventor and Delprado were detained inthe lockup facility of Police Station 8. Charges will be filed against them./PNcenter_img Sky Inventor (right) and Jay Rose Delprado were arrested for allegedly stealing karaoke equipment at a bar in Barangay Singcang-Airport, Bacolod City on Dec 29. POLICE STATION 8/BCPO Recovered from them were two karaokeplayers with remote control, a microphone and a songbook, the policeadded. last_img read more