The Skinny – Reviews and Cultural Commentary

Independent, in-the-know, on the edge – journalism with panache and velocity.  The Skinny is a monthly culture mag serving Scotland and Northern England, covering the music and arts scenes in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Aberdeen, and Dundee.  I started contributing in June – you can find all my articles and reviews for The Skinny here.

Interviews and Features

WOMPS

C Duncan

Lydia Kavina (theremin virtuosa)

Live Reviews

SxSW 2015

The Edinburgh Festivals – August 2015 (The Black Sorrows, James Brown Is Annie, Japan Marvelous Drummers, The Sun Ra Arkestra, Antonio Forcione and Adriano Adewale, The Waterboys)

Positivus (Latvia) 17-19 July 2015 (featuring Placebo, Kasabian, St. Vincent, Warpaint, Jungle, Basement Jaxxx, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters)

T in the Park ,10-12 July 2015

Friday, featuring: The Cribs, Jessie Ware, Hozier, Model Aeroplanes, Kasabian

Saturday, featuring: The LaFontaines, Stillhound, Charli XCX, Enter Shikari, Vukovi, St. Vincent

Sunday, featuring: Admiral Fallow, Idlewild, Alabama Shakes, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks) – Glasgow School of Art, 16 June 2015

Earl Sweatshirt – Glasgow O2 ABC, 8 June 2015

Album Reviews

From 2017:

Gorillaz – Humanz

From 2016:

The Last Shadow Puppets – The Dream Synopsis EP

Warpaint – Heads Up

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

WOMPS – Our Fertile Forever

The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything That You’ve Come To Expect

Lake Street Dive – Side Pony

From August 2015:

Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre

From July 2015:

Albert Hammond, Jr. – Momentary Masters

Ghostface Killah – Adrian Younge presents: Twelve Reasons to Die II

Gunship – Gunship

C Duncan – Architect

Admiral Fallow – Tiny Rewards

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Every Starbucks in Edinburgh (A Celestial Cartography)

I should start by apologizing to my friend and frequent traveling partner, Steve Coffed.  I used to give him grief every time he suggested going into a Starbucks, anywhere in the world.  The coffee, I said, is inconsistent from city to city – and nothing to write home about even at its best.  The atmosphere can be sterile, the clientele often a mix of high schoolers, bluetoothing businessmen, and the unfriendly type of medical student.  But shortly after I came to Edinburgh (a city awash in espresso, with enough comfy unpretentious top-notch java joints to give anyone a caffeine headache), something changed: basically, my parents sent me Starbucks gift cards.

What can we send our poor starving postgrad son? they thought, Our son drinking pint after pint of Tennent’s Lager, because it’s only £2.50?  Money?  No, that would send the wrong message, he’ll think he can come home and move right back in … So they settled on Starbucks gift cards, and I settled back into a comfortable middle class lifestyle – at least, that’s what it feels like every time I pass beneath that fish-woman’s spreading tails to wait for a cup with my name on it, or whatever variation of a loosely A-sounding name these Scots come up with, from “Owen” to “Hadrian’s Wall.”  I started to take my Starbucks breaks further afield from the university, trying to see if the world’s biggest and best-known coffee chain could produce any significant change in atmosphere.  A project began to take shape: I would visit and review each Starbucks from New Town to Newington, and share my findings with the world.  [Nota: I’m not the first with this obsession.  See the folks at Every Single Seattle Starbucks.]  I found out that the Starbucks locations scattered across Edinburgh do vary, if sometimes subtly, in atmosphere and clientele – even while some franchises in Edinburgh are within a Frisbee-toss of one another- and even more interesting, my Starbucks survey soon turned into a new way of mapping this strange and diverse city: A Celestial Cartography of Corporate Coffee.  Even if I can offer nothing more than tips on hidden views, rush hours to avoid, and, of course, musings on jams and jellies, I hope something in what follows is of some small value.

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Yer Average Punter’s Gustatorial Guide to One Day in London

If you’re familiar with things like power checking, tax loopholes, and the way a Maserati feels in fourth gear, then you don’t need this guide – you can afford your bad taste.  If you’re a philistine with a tin ear, a corduroy tongue, seasonal allergies, and a general indifference to those moments – a cloud passing long enough to turn a green leaf golden, a certain shiver when all the elements of a night, a flavor, a temperature, a wavelength, Blood Alcohol Content, add to something greater than the sum of those parts – when life becomes, somehow, art, then neither will you have any use for this.  But if ye’r an average punter like me: read on.

Like any cultural capital, London offers an embarrassment of delights for any epicure possessed of a little pocket change and a fluency in bus and subway routes.  So much is this the case with London that one couldn’t squeeze all juice out of this city given a whole lifetime and a busload of Magic Bullets.  There are near-infinite combinations of sights and tastes to take in even in 24 hours, but I’ve decided to put together – actually based on four days of “research” in the city – a sketch of one day balancing an average punter’s pocketbook, comfort, and gastronomical enjoyment in the city.
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