Sat 20 Feb 2021
On my radar: Brett Anderson's cultural highlights
The Suede frontman on his latest musical discoveries, the brilliance of Michael Clark and the enduring appeal of mudlarking by the Thames
Born in Sussex in 1967, Brett Anderson founded alternative rock band Suede in 1989 with then-girlfriend Justine Frischmann and childhood friend Mat Osman. Billed by Melody Maker as “the best new band in Britain”, Suede released five albums including their self-titled debut and Coming Up, before disbanding in 2003. Anderson went on to front the Tears and release four solo albums. In 2010 Suede reformed and released a further three albums, the latest of which is 2018’s The Blue Hour. Anderson will perform with Charles Hazlewood and Paraorchestra as part of the Gŵyl 2021 festival, 6-7 March.
1. Music: Dry Cleaning
Easily the most exciting thing I’ve heard in a while has been the recent single from Dry Cleaning, Scratchcard Lanyard. It popped up one afternoon on the radio and I just stood there mesmerised. I love the word play and the clever use of cultural ephemera set against the grinding, wiry post-punk sort of backing. Brilliant. Also last year I fell in love with the new Fontaines DC album, A Hero’s Death. I love the surly half-spoken vocal delivery that toys with the suggestion of melody but then just says “fuck it” and does its own thing. Fantastic.
2. Film: Beautiful Boy (Felix van Groeningen, 2018)
I found this incredibly moving. The desperate story of a father trying to manage his son’s addiction problem was a wonderfully dramatic exploration of the dynamic that exists between all parents and their children; that cognitive dissonance between wanting to nurture and guide your child, but at the same time realising they must be free to take risks to become themselves. My own parental paranoia was very much a drive for The Blue Hour, that sense that no matter how much you buffer and protect there’s a darkness lurking just beyond your field of vision.
3. Exhibition: Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer
Before life closed down again I was lucky enough to go to this exhibition at the Barbican. My wife loves ballet, but being the philistine that I am it’s sometimes lost on me. The brilliance of Michael’s work, however, is something that we can both agree on. I first saw him dancing with the Fall in the late 1980s and loved how the whole thing challenged all those conventions. It was such an unexpected collaboration and one that still seems so fresh more than 30 years later.
4. Place: The banks of the Thames
One of my favourite things to do in London is jump on the Central line with my son and go mudlarking by the Tate Modern. Over the centuries the river has washed up all sorts of fascinating debris: ancient animal bones, fragments of pottery, glass. I read somewhere that the crowds at the nearby Globe theatre used to show their disapproval of a play by throwing oyster shells at the actors, so it’s fun to imagine that the many you can still find littering the banks were once eaten and thrown by baying Elizabethan mobs.
5. Documentary - Tones, Drones and Arpeggios: The Magic of Minimalism (BBC Four)
Recently I watched Charles Hazlewood’s terrific documentary about minimalist music. I’d always loved Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but to trace where the movement came from, with the work of people like Terry Riley and La Monte Young, and even further back to Erik Satie, was fascinating. It’s an intriguing form, quietly revolutionary in its rejection of the principles of classical music. It was a huge influence on 1960s art rock and bands like the Velvets, and in many ways its embrace of repetition laid the foundations for modern pop music.
6. Book: Skint Estate by Cash Carraway
As I get older, reading becomes increasingly a place of solace and pleasure for me. Carraway’s brilliant book was one that I found visceral and powerful, about the desperate struggles of a working-class single mother in an indifferent 21st century Britain. Hers is a voice that is so often silenced and brushed to the margins of the current political discourse and so remains even more vital. The writing is stark, jagged and at times unexpectedly hilarious.
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/ ... xAqadtjhRw
For all your discussions about Brett's solo career.
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