Latest good stuff, 27th August

Gather The Daughters, Jennie Melamed

Image With hindsight, it was not a good idea to read this book while watching The Handmaid’s Tale (that season finale; Jesus Christ). A dystopian tale set on a remote island where women are first the property of their fathers and then their husbands, it does not make for a joyful, uplifting read. It is beautifully and vividly written, however, and if you want to lose yourself in a dark, disturbing story, I’d highly recommend it. It’s Melamed’s first novel and I really hope we see more from her soon.

Hamish Anderson

I reviewed this guy a few years ago for a now-defunct music blog*, and for some reason, the track I wrote about then came back into my head last month. ‘Howl’ is a fairly average bluesy pop-rock track, the lyrics decidedly underwhelming, and it owes a lot to the Black Keys, and yet… there’s something quite sexy about it (and that’s before you get to the video). But the songs’s major redeeming feature is the swaggering guitar solo that spans the last minute and a half of the EP version. The video below doesn’t show this, annoyingly, so you’ll have to take my word for it or conduct your own search. Rest assured though, it’s a good’un.

Anderson’s more recent tracks fall in the bracket of “bluesy pleasantness”, but No Good has got a nice groove to it and is reminiscent of John Mayer, and while Burn suffers again from lacklustre lyrics, it’s old-fashioned, but in a good way.

*My fledgling music-reviewing career was cut short when a site I was writing for decided to send one of my pieces to the artist it concerned before it was published (yeah, I don’t know why either). As my review contained the line, “I can’t help thinking I’ve heard more genuine feeling on a Mumford & Sons record”, it did not go down especially well.  

Thom Pankhurst, Lighthouse

Now this is a pure delight. Even if you think lead-guitar-driven instrumental stuff isn’t your thing, I urge you to give this 3-track EP a listen – you will not be disappointed. Intricate and melodic with moments of swooping wistfulness that catch a little on the heartstrings, Lighthouse is a real gem. Oh, and if you do love it, I ask one more thing: pay money for it. I know too many musicians to be OK with not paying for content. Pay for what you consume, y’all.

Elder Millennial, Iliza Shlesinger

I’d never heard of Iliza Shlesinger until about two weeks ago, but on a colleague’s recommendation I spent a hungover Saturday afternoon cackling at Elder Millennial. Shlesinger’s material is nothing ground-breaking – most of this, her latest stand-up show, deals with heterosexual dating foibles. But her wit and energy elevate her jokes, and some of her punchlines had me squawking with laughter in the manner of a demented parrot. This isn’t comedy that will change the world or even make you think too hard, but it is immensely enjoyable.

Eden Perfumes

I have an appalling sense of smell. Honestly, don’t ever ask me if the milk’s off; I won’t know and you’ll end up with lumpy tea. So you’d think then, with my decidedly lacklustre olfactory system, I wouldn’t be all that fussed about perfume, but I’m very specific about the fragrances I like. I can name perhaps three perfumes I’ve fallen in love with in my lifetime – and one of them has since been discontinued. Typical.

Despite not being a fan of the Michael Kors brand’s high-octane glam, bold-and-gold aesthetic, you’d have to prise the original Michael Kors Eau de Parfum out of my cold dead hands, so wedded am I to it. Launched in 2000, the scent is pure heaven, and while it evokes images of long summers in exotic destinations, personally, I think it works all year round. It’s warm, a little bit sweet and floral, but with enough spice to feel incredibly sexy. But the warmth and slight muskiness also goes beautifully with leather jackets, red wine and dimly-lit bars in colder months.

Having found the love of my life, scent-wise, it takes something pretty special to tempt me away. But a post-Pride hungover shopping trip a few weekends back found me in Eden Perfumes on Brighton’s Western Road, and there I discovered my perfume bit-on-the-side. All I want to smell like, I think, is a man who washes regularly but has just come home from band practice or something. Nothing overly sweet or splashy, not like clean laundry, just fresh and citrussy, but with a hint of warmth and spice. Sali Hughes and Claudia Winkleman explain it well when discussing YSL Opium:

There are 2 “In The Bathroom” videos with Sali Hughes and Claudia Winkleman, and if you love clever women, beauty products and shrieking with laughter, give them both a watch – they’re the most joyous things you’ll see this month.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – Eden Perfumes keep it simple, and their fragrances each have about 3 main ingredients and are identified by number. Right now, I’m on 201 –  lemon, musk, and vetiver – which fairly self-evidently ticks all of my boxes. 30ml was £15, and all their products are vegan and not tested on animals.

I hope to be back on full feminist-ranting form very soon.

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