Thursday, 31 January 2013

Explaining Social Phobia

Social phobia is an unpleasant aspect of Asperger's syndrome. It can escalate into anxiety, and in turn induce dark mental states and severe depression. In this video I discuss my ongoing struggle.

Videos to come will look at such aspects as Obsessive Behaviour and Misreading Social Cues and Body Language.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Searching For Quality Original Music on the Internet

The internet is a wondrous thing when it comes to self-publishing. Not only can one write and produce a paperback novel and sell it through a print-on-demand system, or upload it to Kindle, but thanks to websites like Bandcamp, anyone who fancies their chances as a musician, singer or composer, may now sell their efforts to those who care to search.

Fed up with the offerings of local commercial radio (the same ten songs on rotation every time the DJs changed over), I began such a search.

DULAHIBCS is an acronym for Dress Up Like A Hooker, I’ll Be Charlie Sheen.

Such is the dark tongue-in-cheek humour of the unnamed composer of A Small Collection of Old Recordings. Made in his bedroom with little more than an acoustic guitar and hints of percussion played into his laptop, this set is enticing in its melancholia.

Of the 14 tracks, these are my favourites.

“Because My Headphones Broke” musically evokes the tone and style of Oasis’ “Half the World Away”. Vocally, DULAHIBCS puts me in mind of Jeff Lynne on ELO’s album Time. It also has something of John Lennon about it. I’m not entirely sure how the lyric relates to the title, though!

The third track “When One Night Stands Go Wrong” features a girl backing vocal. She’s spot on and prevents the soundscape from becoming too bleak.

“Young At Heart, Old In Face (ft Sam and The Love)” is a sleepy track opening with sound effects and again featuring girl backing vocals. His singing on this one puts me in mind of Marc Bolan for some reason. Weighing in at just under three minutes, it’s a pleasant listen.

More audio samples trigger the start of “European Soul”, a haunting, almost whispering ballad.

Just before DULAHIBCS succeeds in lullabying you to sleep, the jaunty “Lovely Day” wakes you up. Two minutes and forty-five seconds of plucky guitar, lilting voices (I counted three this time, might be wrong), it claims to feature someone called Pieter the Rooster.

“Farm House” opens with the tempting line, “Our farm house burned to the ground, burned to the ground, but our love never got out.” Or, at least that’s what I think it is, as the writer hasn’t included printed lyrics to any of the songs. I hope he does add them soon, as one’s listening pleasure would definitely be enhanced by reading along.

Production quality goes up a notch with “Circles”. Everything about this has class. The guitar is clear, there’s a bit of piano in there, and his voice has just the right amount of echo. A nice turn of phrase makes this a haunting track – “Honey, don’t you waste your time on him, he’s gonna turn you inside out. He’s gonna turn you back to what you was before you became what you is.” Love it. If I were to release a single to promote the album, this would be it.

I really like the female vocal on the sleepy “Since You Come Around”.

Should you drive down the motorway and you’re in one of those moods where you just don’t want to concentrate on layers and layers of sound, this album would be the perfect background score. I would recommend downloading in its entirety for that purpose – though you might want to stop for a coffee if you find yourself falling asleep before you reach “Lovely Day”!

Out of the 14 tracks on this Small Collection of Old Songs, I would recommend the seven above. If the artiste ever considers remaking the best of them for a short EP, I would say do these.

If you only buy one of these songs, buy “Circles”. It is brilliant.

You can find the album here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Docking at the Tea Harbour

There's a lovely restaurant in Bolton called the Tea Harbour. My wife and I went in one Thursday afternoon imagining that it would just serve speciality teas and that the dumplings I'd ordered would be the standard British variety. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food (not to mention the tea!) and we've been back every Thursday since that initial visit.

The homemade vegetable soup is lovely, while the dumplings are a Polish dish called Pierogi. All the recipes are from Poland.

The above video is my review of the Tea Harbour and was made with the kind permission of the restaurant's proprietors.

Thanks to legendary composer Ken Freeman for allowing me to use some of his music in the presentation, and thanks, as ever, to Theresa Cutts who filmed and edited the piece.