widg‧et /ˈwɪdʒɪt/ [wij-it] -noun: Pointless ramblings from the New Forest. Obviously complete & utter Rubbish. Why must I contibute to all this endless talk about me? My self-indulgent knees, spilling themselves all over the internet. Obviously i am Jon and his hair, I AM HIM!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Flail Is The New Troll (Farewell 2006)

Yo yo yo, it's 'bout nearly, like, of the hour to, like, party! I'm gonna, like, put on my spangly boob tube and, like, rock out! It will be kewl, Dakota said so, innit.

Well, I do declare, it is time to get, I said, it is time to get funky, dag-nabbit! Ooh baby baby, forgit the bottle-bank dwelling ex-maggots, let's get jiggerty wit it, d'ya know warra mean?

What is he like? What's 'ee like, anyway? New Year, for it is upon us, like, rules, get me?

And please do remember, if you are presently hanging in a buffalo stance and planning your Hootananny playlist, little fluffy dogs prefer Madawnna to Elvis. Dig it, etc.

Currently listening to this pressie: Faking the Books by Lali Puna

Friday, December 29, 2006

Flumpella, The Fastest Sneeze Of The South

I am lost in the limbo between Christmas & New Year, pressies have now been used, abused or destroyed and midweek fatigue has set in. Today's entry is mainly an excuse to post this gorgeous picture of the fabulous "friendship tree" of fun from Christmas Eve. I was going to wax lyrical about the decline of the B-Side, but that will have to wait till next year, as I carn't be arsed. I have just bought a genuine ten pound glitter ball for the post pub New Year's mini-party and am now in the mood for a little drinky. Twinkly Twankly, come on!

Currently listening to this pressie: Kimono My House by Sparks

With thanks to Chloe & James for use of their photographic treats and Si for the appropriate headline.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Massive Bumming Campaign (One More Time)

I have returned from the parental bosom with my haul of seasonal bounty, shards of coconut falling from my big ol' bag, bursts of sneeze with a dash of cranberry sauce discarded in my wake. Merry things and a happy James Brown death to you all. I'm not sure he'll be getting on up and feeling like a sex machine anymore, unless his autopsy is conducted by a particularly necrophilliac Quincy ME.

Nixon's understudy and husband of Betty, President Gerald Ford-Clinic also died over the festive period. Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death within the month. It seems they're dropping like flies, or maybe it's because there's nothing else to report as the rest of the population is gorging themselves on cake and The Two Ronnies.

Fate (or a grumpy God) also made a feeble attempt to relieve Tony Blair of his smug life as he set off on a BeeGees theme holiday of a lifetime. It was either by shortening Miami Airport's runway or steaming up the pilot's glasses, making him run over a few bits of broken glass or some street lights, depending on which report you believe. Well, I don't believe. I think the truth has been denied to us by a massive Cliffmas cover-up.

It was obviously a failed bid by evil Dame Sir Cliff of Richards to steal the life-force of celebrities that will keep him looking unnaturally young (well, perpetually 50, at least). He's already claimed James (Hit Me!) Brown & President Ford, he must be stopped before he gets ever more desperate, laying waste to great swathes of the inhabitants of Hello! magazine. His goal is to lose at least another thirty years in order to join Westlife and have another crack at the Christmas number one. Sadly, even this will not be enough as Westlife has been usurped by the triple headed Osbourne-Cowell-Walsh beast, named (whisper it) The X-Factor.

Currently listening to this pressie: A Piano by Tori Amos

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Holidays Are Coming! The Holidays Are Coming!

'Tis the season to get pressies, fa la la la, la la la lar! Joy to the Jon, the Lord is come (to give me pressies)! Oh come all ye pressies, come to pappa Johnny! O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive pressies! I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas day, on Christmas day, I saw three ships come sailing in, fully loaded with pressies (for me)!

There's an awful lot of come at Christmas, isn't there? I never realised. I must have been a deprived child. All the more reason to give me pressies! No, I must suppress my excitement (and come) for another few days.

Now Noel Edmonds has made a comeback maybe we'll get to see his gurning face and bizarre hand-graffitti on the tellybox first thing in the morning, just like the old days. Or maybe not, as I have just checked the TV listings, but before the Queen is wheeled out again we do get the return of Top of the Pops, and the actual gurning faces of Bruce Forsyth, Harry Potter and Robbie Williams. Luckily I will be too busy opening my stash of PRESSIES to care!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

5-4-3-2-1 (one)

Dun da da daa, da da da da da, dun da da daaaa!

Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins
Rabbit Fur Coat

At long last, here is my tip-top, most favouritest record of the year, and it's not just because it's got twins in it.

Jenny Lewis began her working life as a child actor, starting off in a Jelly advert and graduating to become Becky's friend in Roseanne (the original puffy Becky, not the Scrubs one). This kind of CV would not usually bode well for musical greatness, but, with her band Rilo Kiley, she has managed to produce a mighty fine body of work so far. The band was generating a fair bit of a much deserved buzz at the beginning of last year with their 'More Adventurous' album, but this seems to have passed most people by. A dirty shame, as I feel that this surpasses it by a mile. Eschewing the rockier side of some of her earlier songs, this embraces 1970s twangy country music head on.

From the first few bars of the a cappella first track 'Run Devil Run' the mood is set, with the lush vocal harmonies of the artists currently known as The Watson Twins and buckets of heartfelt emotion. While the music has one foot firmly in the past, the lyrics are thoroughly modern, witty, tragic and funny. The "Big Single" 'Rise Up With Fists' includes concerns about pollution, "It's like trying to clean the ocean, what do you think, you can drain it? It was poisoned and dry long before you came." and Californian life, "You can wake up younger under the knife, and you can wake up sounder if you get analysed." It just proves that it is possible for Los Angeles to produce something intelligent and worthwhile, however rare that may be.

Old chums Bright Eyes, Johnathan Rice and The Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard show up for a sing-along on an appropriate cover of the Traveling Wilburys song 'Handle With Care', echoing the gang's all here feeling of the original supergroup (comprising George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty & Bob Dylan). Then comes the slow-burning masterpiece, 'Born Secular', dealing with the traditional country themes of God and loss. The end comes all too soon, a sad & lonely voice unconvincingly repeating the refrain "So happy, I'm so happy" with only a woodblock for company.

This is a vintage and gorgeous dusty trail of an album. No home or heart should be without one.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The winter seems to following the pattern of last summer, gig-wise. With the Levellers out of the way it could only be the turn of Devonian fiddler Seth Lakeman to provide my evening's entertainment. Do not fret, meine kinder, though my musical & theatre-going horizons have been folkily narrow over the last twelve months; I have already booked tickets for Kristin Hersh and Torvill & Dean in the New Year. So There.

We nervously journeyed to the studenty wilds of Portswood with some apprehension last night. Apparently Mr. Lakeman launched his last album with a gig at his local Dartmoor Prison. I think that might have been a safer option than the evil Scumton Brook, who is hosting a sold out performance by Steven bloody Seagal and his band in February. This is the kind of place that it is. So There.

In actual fact once we got in, after a slight twenty minute detour to the nearest (not very near) pub (Talking Heads, worth it for the super-cloudy Hoegaarden), the venue was pretty groovy; woody & spaciously cramped. After a nice, but dull set by the support band, Seth and his band took the stage, including a drummer & bodhrán player that was the spitting image of a 60s Joni Mitchell (the 1960, not in her 60s). Mucho foot stomping ensued and many toes were squished under DM-heel. I was accused of being eyed up by Seth & his dancing eyebrows, and of embarrassing the cool-as-thighs bass player by incessantly (well, once) shouting "Go Benny!"

A reel-shaped encore rewarded the folking faithful with random dancing, but most of the crowd refused to even sway. Why go to a gig and just stand still? I had the same problem at an oldies filled Rufus gig a couple of years ago, they talked all the way through Joan As Policewoman's set and frowned on any movement during Mr. Wainwright's. Well, I have a solution; flail around in a fit of drinky spasms and shout a lot. That soon gets them moving, even if it's only a bit of edging away to create more flail room.

Once the music outside our minds had ended we retired upstairs for more drunky fun and to listen to the voices in our heads. It just so happened that Mr. Lakeman was also upstairs, groupie-baiting, but we were too chicken to get him to say "Lozenge soup" or to sign a set of breasts. We made do with the now traditional car ride home shoutalong. The evening finally ended with a showing of "The Best Clothed Shower Videos in the World... Ever". Though there were only two contenders, Etienne Daho and Seth Lakeman himself. Everyone then went their separate ways with only the lonely image of a soggy fiddler to comfort their frazzled souls.

Currently Listening: 12 Greatest Carols by The Butties

Sunday, December 17, 2006

5-4-3-2-1 (two)

Sonic Youth
Rather Ripped

Sonic Youth were always a band I meant to check out and I know I would have worshiped them if I'd gotten in to them earlier. I bought a couple of their late 80s/early 90s albums quite a while ago and was genuinely impressed, but I've never managed to catch up. Every time a new album came out I kept prodding my fast draining mind with a spoon handle, but to no avail, it wasn't until the magnificent 'Rather Ripped' that I finally made the commitment, and oh boy (yes, oh boy) I'm glad I did.

The first voice you hear, about a second in, is Miss Kim Gordon's, and she's actually singing, quite a rare occurrence, my limited memory and even more limited knowledge tells me. This is indeed a good thing and she keeps it up through most of her vocal appearances on the record, contrasting nicely with the stoned & throaty stylings of Mr. Thurston Moore.

This is a great wonky, rocking pop album, not too experimental, but in no way ordinary. An array of stylishly duelling melodies, just the right amount of dishevelled tunelessness, this gang have aged like a fine (farmyard of) wine. Employing a varied palate of big choruses, quiet moments, fat chords & skinny guitars, there's a good balance of the slapdash and the skilled. It is, in fact, skill. There's a song here for everyone. Mine is the catchy 'Incinerate', guaranteed to get you jiving like John Prescott's wife, complete with strangely unflailing, angular finger movements.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Itchy)

Just a few quickies ... evil hangover ... work beckons ... must typo coherently sentancings ...

Grave news. There will be no more telly for the Open University. The last program was broadcast this morning at 5am. Insomniacs can no longer be comforted by the incoherent babblings of strange bearded men in kipper ties. This is indeed a tragedy.

For the first time in history the British Prime Minister has been questioned by Police, but because people will not let go of bloody Diana's dead corpse this story has been relegated to the middle pages of the newspapers. Let it go, she died of nothing more than not wearing a seatbelt!

Thought for the day: I find the use of the term 'prostitute' in the recent coverage of the Ipswich murders quite odd. The first word used to describe the victims is not 'person' or 'young woman'.
This may possibly be for the lazy minded, if the papers had said 'women murdered', people might have to read on thinking "but why?", but because it has been reported as 'prostitute murders' they can stop right there and smugly think "well that's alright then, there you go". The only other job that I can think of that would be used in this way would be the Police, but with the opposite connotations. When the words 'Police officer murdered' are used we are supposed to feel more sympathy, anger or indignance. Are not all lives just as precious as each other? Apparently not.

Ooh, that got a bit serious didn't it? Don't worry, here come the funny foreigners to lighten the mood. The Swedish village of Fjuckby is getting fjucked off with being the butt of feeble puns and have petitioned to change their name to Fjukeby. Fjukeing spoilsports (see, it still works, they can never escape their fate, ahahahahahah).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

5-4-3-2-1 (three)

Thom Yorke
The Eraser

I've never been a big fan of Radiohead, for no particular reason, the stuff I'd been exposed to just didn't really grab me by the shoulders, spin me round by my ossicles and force me to sit up & take notice. I went to see Lamb at the Jazz World Stage during Glastonbury 2003, rather than partake in the "best festival set ever"™ by Radiohead on the Main Stage, and never regretted it.

But this, ooh, it gets me right here (no peeping). It was given to me as a birthday present and I was a little dubious before I put it on. The second I did, ooh, the sound hit me in the guts, albeit gently at first, like a bitch-slap from a small child. This record's odd tone makes it seem like it should be a grower, and it kind of is, but even on first listen you find yourself immersed in a whole new sonic world.

Thom Yorke's soaring voice has an edge of the miserablism that had turned me off his band in the first place, but the jittery beats and the interjections of electronic bleeps & squiggles lifts the mood. The dark, smoky atmosphere continues throughout the record, but despite this adherence to a limited soundscape it continues to hold your interest with its varied melodies and strange, layered noises. The album rewards repeated listens, though it initially sounds sparse and misleadingly minimalist, there's always something new to tempt the ear. It's obviously time to ditch my preconceptions and give Mr. Yorke's old band another try.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Would You Like a Cup of Coffee?

With Kofi Annan leaving office as the UN Secretary General at the end of the month, I was hoping that we would get another double-named candidate, after the entertainingly titled Boutros Boutros Ghali and the aforementioned Mr. Ann-An. For the next holder of this position I would like to nominate the famous, stuttering spy, Bond James Bond or maybe even BoBo the Clown (everyone knows his name). Sadly the decision is out of my hands, the President of Burundi has spoken, but as luck would have it the new bloke does have a traditionally funny name, possibly inspired by an old Wings song, Ban Ki-moon!

On the subject of Jimbo Bond, I recently embarked on one of my increasingly rare trips to the cinema to see BJB in action. This time with my mother, who got very excited when he emerged out of the sea like an underdressed & slightly less curvy Ursula Andress. I do think that the founders of Broccoli should have back peddled even further and set it in the 1950s, in a black & white, Cold War, noirish kind of style, but as a reboot of a film series that had seriously lost its way 'Casino Royale' does what it says on the tin. Spectacular, but not too unbelievable, low-key in all the right places, I'm sure they could have found a place for Miss Moneypenny, maybe she didn't have the range, but still, a job well done.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

5-4-3-2-1 (four)

The Information

Some commentators have dubbed this a return to form, but I cannot agree with this statement. I am not convinced that Beck ever lost his form. He may have ventured further afield, wandering around between arbitrary musical genres, but I don't believe a bad album he has made. Still, this is a bit of a page three stunner.

More varied in style than his previous records, this is like a mix of his best work, a Greatest Hits, but with all new songs. Original, yet familiar, his funny skew-whiff raps are teamed with more melancholy numbers. This creates not a schizophrenic feeling, but more the image of a well-rounded, if a bit weird, individual.

Ordinarily I would find an album clocking in at 67 minutes a bit of a struggle, but worry not, there is never a dull moment and no time to be bored. Denied a chart entry for its 'gimmicky' DIY cover concept (I think the BPI have been misinformed if they think that is the reason people buy CDs), playing with all the groovy stickers continues the overall sense of fun and freedom that fills any room in which these tunes can be heard.

"One, two, you know what to do!"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Whores Will Have Their Trinkets

I have returned from my midweek shopping extravaganza in my old stomping ground of Brighton just in time to celebrate the last birthday of the year, save for Mr. Christ's.

Christmas shopping must be the most fiendish form of torture yet invented by the Archbishop of Canterbury & his minions, it would give the Spanish Inquisition a run for its money. First of all, this holy activity includes shopping. A major pain in the arse at the best of times, unless, of course, you are browsing the polished racks of gleaming records and CDs, tempting you with their come-to-bed sleeves. Number two, you are shopping for other people. Oh, the misery. You are handing over your own cash in exchange for things that you will not get to play with, except for the couple of weeks you have left before they must be given away. They must be tested to see if they are worthy of bearing your name on the tag. Most CDs don't come with the special British kite mark, a child may choke if you don't iTunes them quickly.

Saturday was Mr. Hockbo's official birthday, ahead of his actual birthday later in the week. We got to learn about Jupiter, ferret's bedtime habits, allergies, ghostly photos from the past and how to combine beer & chocolate cake in new & interesting ways. Worst of all, things that I'd lovingly bought had to leave my possession into the waiting arms of the birthday boy. A small foreboding shadow of the multiple horrors to come.

Currently Listening: Real Life by Joan As Police Woman

Sunday, December 10, 2006

5-4-3-2-1 (five)

As the NME publishes its own albums of the year and gets it spectacularly wrong (again) by naming Arctic shitting Monkeys as the best of the bunch, here are my own personal pop picks, and therefore, the truth.

Giant Drag
Hearts & Unicorns

This is one of those records that in the olden days you might have thought had been played at the wrong speed, or the vinyl was warped, or even the tape in the cassette was stretched to buggery. But no, after a couple of minutes your ears adjust and realise that it is supposed to sound like that.

Every so often the air is startlingly punctuated by barmy and unintelligible sounds erupting from mad Miss Annie Hardy's mouth. The music looks around, wondering why everyone is staring, open-mouthed, and then starts up again as though nothing out of the ordinary just occurred.

The titles of the tracks, such as 'Kevin is Gay' or 'You Fuck Like My Dad' (obviously stolen from the black-hearted, Irish girl group B*Witched) may give a small insight into the inner workings of the minds of those involved. The lyrics are mostly downright twisted, full of emotion and dark humour.

The entire length of the album, there is always something niggling at the back of your senses, a feeling that something is almost amiss. If it wasn't for this slightly sinister undercurrent this would still be a strong collection of songs. Killer tunes that are a little rough around the edges, but the growing sense of unease and, yes, excitement elevates it into a listening experience worthy of its place in this years greatest aural achievements.

And unlike some silly people I am very much fond of the bonus track cover of 'Wicked Game'. Much better than Mr. Isaac's yodelling original.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Bit Of A Turn-On

A busy weekend saw me out in the cold, on a street corner, in a coat that I am obviously allergic to, blowing into my horned instrument. Yes, it was time for the delights of the ceremonial Fordingbridge Christmas lights switch on. From what I could see through my streaming eyes and rapidly blurring vision it was the same old, same old carols and child-greedfest. I couldn't rely on my hearing, as whatever sounds were emerging from the crowd bore little resemblance to any recognisable tunes. What I could hear was the numerous double-entendres about the lights being "turned-on" coming out of the mouth of the barmy compere, as he nudged Santa suggestively. He really should stick to his day job, which is, in fact, burying the dead.

The next day was the, now traditional, December outing to a Levellers gig. This time at the Southampton Guildhall. The evening culminated in not getting lost, an absence of unbridled t-shirt purchasing, lots of boozy pogoing, lisping violinists, sneaky fags and a journey home sing-along to the freebie CD, hoorah!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

5-4-3-2-1 The Near Misses

Now I've got all that annoying past out of the way, it's time to concentrate on 2006. I must hurry as Mr. Bo has already beaten me to it and since nothing of any consequence is likely to be released in this, the month of the cheap & nasty Best Of. Here is the run down of the albums that didn't quite make it into my top 5 this year.

Lou Rhodes
Beloved One

It could have been The Guillemots, Peter Bjorn & John, Roddy Woomble, Pure Reason Revolution, The Long Blondes, Joanna Newsom or Bellowhead, but no. A tough choice had to be made and here at number ten is the former Lamb vocaliser, Louise Rhodes. As a witness to Lamb's final concert I was pretty gutted that they had decided to call it a day, but this more than makes up for it. A world and a half away from their dancey ways, this is an organic, almost traditional folky record. Strong melodies and sympathetic backing makes this a hidden gem, a sleeper hit niggling at the back of my mind all year. A pleasantly surprising Mercury Music Prize nomination brought it to a wider audience.

The Dears
Gang of Losers

A huge leap forward from their still impressive debut. Another group to add to the avalanche of really rather good Canadian bands, this was released on the Cocteau Twins owned label, Bella Union, another reason to love or hate them. The title of track four has some advice, as well as summing up their attitude, "Hate, Then Love". I may be wrong, but the prevailing mood seems to be anger with an underlying sense of hope peeping through the cracks. Dark, mysterious & consistently strong, Murray the singer sounds a lot less like Damon Albarn on this one.

Cat Power
The Greatest

Rampant ex-booze hound Chan Marshall goes to Memphis and teams up with Al Green's guitarist and songwriting partner Teenie Hodges for an album of rough, soulful goodness. Ditching the minimalist arrangement from past albums and embracing the full power of a host of veteran session musicians brings a warm and lush sound to this album, but not so overpowering as to bamboozle the senses.

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Ballad of the Broken Seas

With a little help from The Scottish Arts Council our protagonists take refuge from their old homes in Belle & Sebastian and The Screaming Trees to provide us with a delicate slice of Scots-American Folk-Country. Mostly written & produced by the lovely Ms. Campbell, bringing Mr. Lanegan aboard to share the credit for this otherwise solo album was a genius move, broadening the scope of this wonderfully autumnal sounding record. The noise Mark's rasping throat makes is the perfect antidote to Isobel's high, airy warble, and gives the whole album a quietly sinister edge.

TV on the Radio
Return To Cookie Mountain

This year wouldn't be complete without a 4ad entry, it could've been Tanya Donelly, but much as I love her new album (best in a while) I had to choose the more upbeat & experimental TV on the Radio. Building on the screwy sounds of 2004's 'Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes', this is an even odder prospect. More untunefully tuneful, more scary, more fun, more David Bowie. In fact, pretty much just more. Bringing the fine tradition of whistling (along with Peter, Bjorn & John) back to pop music.