Culture, Music

Anohni – Hopelessness review

Hopelessness is the first album from independent musician Anohni, who was previously known as Antony Hegarty of the pop group Antony and the Johnsons. It’s an album that’s heavily political, but it is also intensely beautiful.

Culture, Music

Jam of the Week: Nicole Willis – Paint Me in a Corner

Nicole Willis - Paint Me splash (640x360)There’s a fire brewing along the edge of the Arctic Circle. And if gets any hotter it may just begin to melt the icecaps. This week sees the return of the raw talent that is Nicole Willis. Brooklyn-born and now Helsinki-based, her first two albums with the Soul Investigators (Keep Reachin’ Up (2005) and Tortured Soul (2013)) are marvels of original, sensational soul music – they’re more than 60s “throwbacks”.

Culture, Diary, Music

Mixtape: let’s get political – change begins with you

Tibet protest, Chinese embassy, London, Mar 07, 2015, by Chris Beckett (1350x759)If you live in the UK, you can’t fail to have noticed that we’re approaching another riveting general election. The three major parties – Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – are all hoping their rhetoric will win you, and I, over. We’ve even got the Eurosceptic, borderline-racist party, UKIP, filling our screens this time.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have at least some view on politics, and the decision makers who, like it or not, hold much of the power in our society.


VAT (Very Annoying Tax) Increased

Oh, this good. Yet another result of the poisonous 2010 Budget is VAT (Value Added Tax), which, as of Jan 1, has now risen from 17.5% to 20%. There have been dire warnings that the new tax rise could result in the loss of 250,000 jobs, nevertheless, the coalition government see this “tough, but fair” strategy as the only way to get Britain on the road to economic recovery.

In small change, this tax rise means there have been incremental increases in the price of foodstuffs, general bills and some welfare services. Yet it will have a profound effect on the cost of sending items abroad, road tax and day-to-day goods.

An increase of 2.5% may not seem like a lot, but it will likely end up costing me an added £10 or more on my weekly food shop alone.

Fortunately, there is no VAT for almost all printed materials, so I can continue to stock up on books, magazines and comics until a lack of storage space forces me to do otherwise. Cultural goods are supposed to be exempt, however, I’m sure the rise in other economic areas may encourage retailers to bump up prices somewhere. I’m praying it won’t be an excuse for video game prices to climb.

This government have already betrayed the trust of thousands of first-time voters (myself included) by increasing university tuition fees  up to £9,000 a year – something with will have a crippling effect on the country’s higher education system, putting it further out of reach of the poorer classes and prompting layoffs and cuts up and down the country. My brother and cousins will be affected by this as they are due to go to university after the increase in 2012. Perhaps I’ll express some further thoughts on this soon.