the red penguin

The Popes Of Chillitown – Crashmat

Would it be possible to make up a playlist or radio show featuring bands who took their names from the Simpsons who are actually quite good?

This definitely sounds like it would have had heavy rotation on p-rock in the early 2000s but while I’ve moved on from that musical phase I really like this one. Got more than a little PWEI in it, which is a great thing.

This track came out last week and it’s the first single from the forthcoming album “Take A Picture” which is out in June on Criminal Records, a label whose name I feel is also a Simpsons reference although I can’t remember exactly which episode.

I found this track while looking for new releases for my radio show. About 15 minutes later I found a single by London band Pynch – who’ve just released an album called “Howling At A Concrete Moon”. This is getting silly now!

Wednesday 10 May 2023, 2683 views

Blur – Modern Life Is Rubbish

I’m writing this exactly 30 years to the day after its release and I’m trying to remember exactly how large an impact this album had on my life back then.

It harks back to a very specific “English” sound, influenced heavily by the Kinks and Syd-era Pink Floyd. But this wasn’t the kind of music I was listening to at that time.

I was listening to a lot of different stuff at this time – undoubtedly Carter USM was my flavour of the month, having seen them 3 times live in the last 12 months, which was a lot for me.

I was also listening to the Frank and Walters, the Sultans of Ping, the Manic Street Preachers, Pop Will Eat Itself, Thousand Yard Stare, Billy Bragg, They Might Be Giants.

I was even obsessed with the Barenaked Ladies’ current album “Gordon”, probably because I’d just had my honeymoon in Toronto and we loved it there.

Looking back there’s a lot of variety there, but it was all “indie music”, all part of the same scene for me.

I was an avid reader of the NME and Melody Maker, never missing an edition. The music press seemed to simultaneously champion and hate every band they featured. I loved There’s No Other Way, I read 18 months of articles about how Blur had squandered their talent and lost their musical way, but then noticed a buzz over Popscene and For Tomorrow.

And then the album came out and I genuinely saw the light.

The music and lyrical subjects reflect a changing period in my own life – getting married, looking to buy a house, maybe have kids, looking to move out of Romford where I’d lived all my life for a slightly bigger house in the country.

Whenever I hear Graham Coxon’s fuzzed up guitar over Chemical World or Oily Water, or the horn section on Sunday Sunday or the Visit to Primrose Hill extended mix of For Tomorrow, then suddenly I’m driving around the back roads from Billericay to Chelmsford and beyond, exploring a country I hadn’t really bothered to look for before.

I’m not one of these people who goes on Facebook pages moaning that “things were better years ago”. They weren’t – can you imagine living in 1993 again without social media, without amazing phones and cameras, without being able to watch or listen to what you want, when you want?

Yet I can listen to Miss America, close my eyes and suddenly I’m a 20-something making my way in the world again and everything is good.

The album’s title derives from stencilled graffiti painted along Bayswater Road in London, created by an anarchist group. (Thanks, Wikipedia). I remember this group writing to either the NME or Melody Maker, moaning about the band and their appropriate of their slogan, ending the letter with words along the lines of “see you in the bargain bin, losers”.

I remember thinking that if they really were anarchists, they would have loved this reappropriation, surely? I probably remembered it for so long because it was a prediction that went stale very quickly.

The painting of the steam locomotive Mallard on the album cover was a stock image that Stylorouge — Blur’s design consultants — obtained from a photo library in Halifax. According to Design Week magazine, the painting by Paul Gribble “evoked the feel of a Just William schoolboy’s pre-war Britain”.

This feeling filters through to the music, and despite me being the opposite of a middle-aged right-wing-obsessed little Englander, it’s an emotion I have a lot of time for. This may be why British Sea Power’s albums rate so highly on my all-time lists too.

Modern Life Is Rubbish is still my favourite album of all time.

This photo was taken in Clacton – a place where I got to see a much-more-hyped-up Blur the following year when they played a gig at Oscar’s night club.

I’m not sure who made this image, but I love it.

Wednesday 10 May 2023, 2604 views

Ceefax – bringing rugger news to Orcney in 1972

What an amazing find! Someone called Diteli Media – Film & Video posted these images on Facebook, saying:

These stills are probably from the earliest known recordings of Ceefax pages anywhere in the world. I found these on an open reel Shibaden video tape and as far as I can ascertain, going from the Sheffield United V Charlton football match, date from 23rd October 1972.

If genuine – and no reason to suggest it’s not – then Ceefax was testing at least 2 years before it officially launched. I find stuff like this fascinating – and it’s mindblowing to think that it’s over 50 years old, too. But Orcney? Soccer? RUGGER?

Tuesday 9 May 2023, 2628 views

Frogpond – Talk To Me


Yes we all hate Spotify because (1) they don’t pay bands enough and (2) the guy who owns it supports/almost bought Arsenal. But I still find some amazing bands thanks to THE ALGORITHM. You know, play an album and see what it plays next once you’re done.

After playing Ice Cream by Salad (still one of my top 10 favourites ever) this track popped up. It’s from their 1996 album Count To Ten released on (major label) Columbia. Having read the music press voraciously back then, I don’t remember them at all.

Frogpond came from Warrensburg, Missouri and featured Heidi Phillips on vocals and guitar, Kristie Stremel on guitar, Justine Volpe on bass and Megan Hamilton on drums.

They reformed in 2021, put out their first album in 20 years, and are still gigging – although probably not in the UK, because thanks to stupid Brexit no one wants to come to the UK any more. They have an active Facebook page here

Thursday 20 April 2023, 4221 views

Salad – The Hope and Ruin, Brighton

A new venue for me, and I managed to get there from Billericay in about an hour and 15 minutes which is probably quicker than me trying to get into London. And I managed to find somewhere to park for free round the corner in car-unfriendly Brighton too!

I wasn’t able to get there in time to see the support as I was working this afternoon, but I managed to perch myself nicely up at the front to catch the band who played about an hour and 20 minutes, finishing conveniently (for old people like me) just before 10pm. I got another shout out from the stage, as my interview with Marijne and Paul was the inspiration for Details. And yes I think my face goes red every time.

A good set list with a nice mix of old and new, including one song getting its live debut, Where I’m At (I seem to remember a reggaeish chorus which is new for the band).

I liked the Hope and Ruin – the sound was good and the stage was unusually roomy for a venue of that size.


  • Diminished Clothes
  • The Selfishness Of Love
  • Granite Statue
  • In The Dark
  • Details
  • Your Face
  • Your Ma
  • Namedrops
  • Things In Heaven
  • Yeah Yeah
  • I Didn’t Know You’d Gone
  • On A Leash
  • Where I’m At
  • A Man With A Box
  • Drink The Elixir


  • Motorbike To Heaven
  • Kent

No ticket scan this time, as I did a rare “pay on the door”.

Sunday 16 April 2023, 4255 views

Catch – Bingo

Have I not blogged for three months? Oops – I blame work, study, family and everything else. I only discovered this song about two years ago – it just completely passed me by when it came out in September 1997. It even appeared on Top Of The Pops, and I still missed it, even though I watched it regularly. I’m guessing I might have been still playing OK Computer day and night when this song came out.

But I absolutely love it now and I don’t understand why this band were never bigger. They were kind of Britpoppy – actually with those horns on this track, they were very Britpoppy – but they would have really appealed to the audience for McFly or Busted so maybe they were just the right band at the wrong time.

This single made no 23 and a follow up, Dive In, made no 44. Their one and only album was never released in the UK, and it’s at this point you wonder whether someone has been messing with Wikipedia, because from there you learn that it was only ever released in Indonesia. But it’s true …

Lead singer Toby Slater wasn’t happy with the album. This explains why it was never released in the UK, which probably annoyed the then-mighty Virgin Records who had signed them.

It seems from various YT comments that they did a lot of media in Indonesia and Thailand and built up quite a following there. The album is available – unofficially – on YouTube, and no other streaming services, officially or otherwise.

After Catch, Toby was involved in other bands and event organisation, but sadly died in December 2021 aged just 42. He was the son of singer Stephanie de Sykes, who was a TV staple in the 1970s, and Stu James, lead singer with 60s Liverpool beat band The Mojos, who featured a very young Lewis Collins on drums. Lewis was writing songs with Mike McGear (Paul McCartney’s brother) and was recommended by him to replace Pete Best. Lewis turned down an audition he was offered, and eventually became an actor. I’m glad about this, because the Beatles turned out OK, and I really liked The Professionals.

Thursday 9 February 2023, 9649 views

Is this a piece of your brain?

Twitter is currently an Elon Musk-sponsored binfire with people actively talking about how long it’s going to last. Hard for me to walk away just yet though when it produces comedy gold like this.

Saturday 12 November 2022, 16996 views

Worker & Parasite – The Silent Majority

I came across Worker & Parasite for the first time yesterday and HAD to listen to them. Any Simpsons fan would know why.

Fortunately the abstract absurdity of that cartoon sketch has definitely come over 100% in this band’s music – and videos too. This might actually be my favourite video of the year.

The band are from Melbourne and the song itself is from an EP, released in September, called “Politics: A Case Study Of The Nexus Between Populism, Apathy & Exploitation”. My kind of band on so many levels.

Saturday 12 November 2022, 16386 views

Wunderhorse – Girl Behind The Glass

I don’t know much about Wunderhorse, but this song is champion.

(Sorry for the predictable-if-you’re-my-age pun)

Friday 11 November 2022, 16422 views

dEUS – Must Have Been New

New music from dEUS, out today – I loved Instant Street when I first heard it in 1998 and I’ve had a soft spot for them ever since. This is their first new music in 10 years.

Tuesday 8 November 2022, 16592 views