Killian Fox
Thursday, April 24th 2014
TECHNOLOGY
Digital Underground
(Observer Tech Monthly, January 12, 2014)

A mammoth project for the Observer Tech Monthly: we visited six cities around the UK - including Manchester, Belfast, Bristol and Brighton - to take snapshots of the country's growing tech startup scene. In the process, we talked to more than 80 companies, organisations and key industry figures about the pros and cons of starting a tech business in a regional city. Suki Dhanda took the photos.

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kf

PS. The contact page is being amended. To contact me in the meantime, please email k...@k...x.com


MUSIC
A Year in Music
(Observer, December 31, 2013)

The albums I most enjoyed reviewing in 2013 include: Wakin' on a Pretty Daze by Kurt Vile, Monomania by Deerhunter, The Thieves' Banquet by Akala, Immunity by Jon Hopkins, Olympia by Austra, Tales of Us by Goldfrapp, Beautiful Rewind by Four Tet, Matangi by M.I.A., Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange and Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper. My top 10 albums and tracks of the year can be found in this Guardian round-up, if you dig around a bit.


FOOD/TRAVEL
Land of the Lotus-Eaters
(The National, November 27, 2013)

A culinary journey around north and central Vietnam, written up for the National. (No snakes were eaten in the making of this story.)

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FILM
"I like a cinema of walk and gesture"
(Observer, November 24, 2013)

A chat with the very charming director of Sideways and Nebraska, Alexander Payne, about making black-and-white films and putting his home state on the big screen.

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FOOD
The Night Before Christmas
(Observer Food Monthly, November 22, 2013)

For OFM's Xmas special, I pay tribute to my favourite festive meal (recipe included).

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COMEDY/TECHNOLOGY
"I was probably the least criminal driver in Grand Theft Auto"
(Observer Tech Monthly, November 10, 2013)

The comedian Bill Bailey on his wild GTA rampages and falling victim to identity theft on Twitter. An interview for the new Observer Tech Monthly supplement.

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MUSIC
"A Fine Balance"
(Observer, November 3, 2013)

Album-of-the-week review of the new M.I.A. album, which I liked very much.

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MUSIC
"We have to make the best records possible. That's a good reason to be anxious"
(Observer, November 2, 2013)

I went to Los Angeles to meet Vampire Weekend before they played the Hollywood Bowl. Nice guys, not the easiest of interviews...

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FOOD
Pigs Will Fly
(Observer Food Monthly, October 19, 2013)

As part of OFM's chefs of the decade special, I interviewed Gordon Ramsay and the intrepid Fergus Henderson.

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SOCIAL
"I'm interested in groups on the margins"
(Observer, August 4, 2013)

An investigative journalist Katharine Quarmby, who has written a study of Gypsy and Traveller communities in the UK, explains why she was drawn to their lives, history and culture.

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FOOD
Fillet of Soul
(Observer Food Monthly, July 21, 2013)

A reprise of OFM's "how to" series. This time, I asked experts (including Ollie Dabbous and Tom Kerridge) how to fillet a fish, make incredibly indulgent mashed potatoes, fry chicken in buttermilk and prepare a full English breakfast.

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FILM
The World in Black and White
(Observer, June 30, 2013)

The past two years has seen an unprecedented resurgence in black-and-white movies, from The Artist to Ben Wheatley's forthcoming A Field in England and Alexander Payne's Nebraska. So what's the sudden appeal for directors?

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FOOD/TECHNOLOGY
Eat My Fork
(Observer, June 30, 2013)

Some musings on the future of food: edible packaging, augmented-reality kitchens, enhanced rice, and the obligatory observation that we'll all be eating insects in 10 years' time.

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MUSIC
Sit Still for a Minute
(Observer, June 2, 2013)

A fleeting interview with Peaches about her various roles in the forthcoming Meltdown festival, including a performance of Yoko Ono's Cut Piece.

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BOOKS
"It was good to have a painful immersion in capitalism"
(Observer, May 25, 2013)

George Saunders, author of the much-lauded Tenth of December, talked to me about Buddhism and his youthful love of Ayn Rand.

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MUSIC
What does a £2,500 record sound like?
(Observer, May 25, 2013)

Audiophile Pete Hutchison has gone to extraordinary lengths to reissue golden era classical recordings in their purest form. I talked to him about the price of perfection, the "digital con", and the sound of a truly analogue recording

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FOOD
Keeping it in the Family
(Observer Food Monthly, May 18, 2013)

For the Observer Food Monthly, I talked to siblings, husbands and wives, fathers and sons, and mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law - in London, Manchester and Cork - about the highs and lows of running a food business together. Pics by Pal Hansen.

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MUSIC
Pulling the Rug
(Observer, May 12, 2013)

The Knife turn my favourite album of the year into a brilliant stage performance with a twist. Reviewed for the Observer New Review.

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SOCIAL
Subculture
(Observer, May 12, 2013)

The skate park beneath London's Southbank centre is under threat of closure. I spent an afternoon at the legendary spot talking to the skaters, BMX-bikers and graffiti writers who bring it alive. Andy Hall took the photos.

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kf

MUSIC
Kevin Parker's Soundtrack
(Observer, April 28, 2013)

The Tame Impala frontman talked me through the records that have influenced his life and music.

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MUSIC
"You need a bit of animosity to get people's backs up"
(Observer, February 3, 2013)

I talked to the brooding UK rapper Devlin about the ups and downs that fed into his second album. For the Observer New Review.

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FILM
Talkin' to Who?
(Observer, November 24, 2012)

I talked to some guy - what was his name again? - oh yeah, Bobby De Niro about his great supporting role in the new David O Russell film Silver Linings Playbook. Nice kid...

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kf

FOOD
Turkey Lyonnaise
(Observer, November 18, 2012)

Claude Bosi - lovely guy, unless you insult his food on Twitter - explained why this most French of Frenchmen likes to cook the most British of dinners - turkey, ham and all the trimmings - on Christmas Day.

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TV/SOCIAL
Why, in the 21st century, do a billion people live in poverty?
(Observer, November 18, 2012)

The BBC and 80 other broadcasters around the world are showing eight documentaries about poverty later this month. The series is seriously worth a watch. I put together a couple of features on the documentaries for the Observer, and here I talk to all eight filmmakers about the subjects they tackled, ranging from land grabs in Africa to whether Bono is a good thing. (I also asked a panel of experts what they would do to alleviate poverty.)

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MUSIC
Forgetting About Everything Else
(Observer, November 4, 2012)

Something stopped me short of loving the new Tame Impala album (although Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is one of my tracks of the year). Equally, in concert at the Brixton Academy they were good but not out-of-this-world (except during the encore). I reviewed the gig for the Observer.

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FILM
Breaking Down the Door
(Observer, November 4, 2012)

My first two film reviews for the Observer! They're both tiny little short reviews, but still, it was nice of them to ask - and it gave me a good excuse to marvel at The Shining again. The second film was less interesting but still worth a glance.

kf

FOOD
Young Turks etc
(Observer, October 21, 2012)

For the annual Observer Food Monthly awards, I interviewed the best newcomers, the winners of the best cheap eats award and the best independent local retailers.


MUSIC
James Murphy's "soundtrack of my life"
(Observer, September 30, 2012)

I talked to the former LCD Soundsystem frontman about the Velvet Underground, Bowie and Can, and what made him first want to make music.

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FILM/THEATRE
"It feels like being in a bad soap opera"
(Observer, September 23, 2012)

This interview with Juliette Binoche was sprung on me at the last moment, but it was fun - and a little scary. She was promoting the French-language version of Miss Julie she's currently starring in at the Barbican.

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kf

TRAVEL
Food Heaven
(The National, September 21, 2012)

We went to San Sebastian for a long weekend in May and ate a cornucopia of mind-blowing food, which I write about in this travel piece for the National. We may never eat that well again.

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BOOKS
"Two years into writing this I felt like it was an utter flop"
(Observer, September 9, 2012)

A pleasant chat with Michael Chabon, Pulitzer prizewinning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Wonder Boys and - most recently - Telegraph Avenue.

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FILM
Anna Karenina / Observer
(Observer, September 2, 2012)

I edited a special Observer supplement on Joe Wright's audacious new film (which I liked a lot more than I thought I would) and, here, I talked to key crew members about bringing Wright's singular vision to life.

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FILM
"Always Moving Forward"
(Observer, August 26, 2012)

An interview with the hyper-prolific (and super-nice) Jessica Chastain for the Observer's Lawless supplement.

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kf

MUSIC
Hebden Bridge Won't Know What Hit It
(Observer, August 26, 2012)

On the phone from a sauna in Sweden, Damon Albarn told me about the brilliantly crackpot train journey he's conceived with his Africa Express associates. A 1970s British Rail diesel train will be carting 80 musicians around the country for a week at the start of September.

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MUSIC
"I feel very, very old-fashioned"
(Observer, August 19, 2012)

Ariel Pink has made one of most confounding and exciting albums of the year so far. I had a fun time interviewing him and his big pink hair-do for the Observer.

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FILM
Peeping Toms
(Observer, July 25, 2012)

To tie in with the gargantuan BFI retrospective, the Guardian asked some local film enthusiasts to write about their favourite Hitchcock movie. Here's mine.

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MUSIC
Channel Orange
(Observer, July 15, 2012)

Frank Ocean's brilliant new record is already my favourite album of 2012 but this review of it for the Observer gets off to a grumpy start...

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FOOD
Coffee and Oysters
(Observer Food Monthly, July 15, 2012)

I contributed to the Observer Food Monthly's series of "how to" guides and asked the experts (among them Fergus Henderson and Hawksmoor honcho Richard Turner) how to perfect the following: coffee, steak, pizza, oysters, window boxes, noodles and bacon sandwiches. Now you know...

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BOOKS
"Writing has to earn people's interest"
(Observer, June 17, 2012)

American author Ben Marcus on the state of experimental fiction and why his new novel The Flame Alphabet tells a very human story.

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BOOKS
"Most French writers are lazy"
(Observer, April 27, 2012)

Laurent Binet, author of the riveting WW2 assassination meta-novel HHhH, loves Bret Easton Ellis (who in turn loves Binet's book) and has issues with fellow French novelists. I had an interesting chat with him for the Observer.

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TRAVEL
Lake Koman Ferry
(Observer, April 15, 2012)

Last September, we went to Albania and were totally bowled over. I attempted to capture what was great about one bit of it in this travel piece for the Observer Magazine.

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kf

THEATRE
Rebuilding Hope in Jenin
(Observer, March 25, 2012)

A year ago the Israeli-born director of a tiny theatre in a West Bank refugee camp was gunned down. Now young Palestinians are fighting to save the place where they can voice their anger, frustration and dreams in creative ways... I travelled to Jenin recently to see how the Freedom theatre is coping after the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis. Yousef Eldin took the photos.

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Photo: Yousef Eldin
BOOKS
Abandon All Hope
(Observer, February 19, 2012)

Not sure which I enjoyed more, Shalom Auslander's relentlessly funny new book Hope: A Tragedy or this conversation I had with him last week for the Observer's books pages (particularly the Steven Pinker comments).

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THEATRE
The Murder Rate
(Observer, February 12, 2012)

In contrast to the puppet show I reviewed last month, this homage to Punch and Judy at the Barbican was dark, funny and beautifully crafted.

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FILM
Capacity For Restraint
(Observer, February 5, 2012)

An interview with the very measured British actor Hugh Dancy about his role the Sundance-winning cult shocker Martha Marcy May Marlene.

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BOOKS
Into the Zone
(Observer, February 5, 2012)

A review of Geoff Dyer's lively jaunt through Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker.

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SCIENCE/PUPPETRY
No Magic Involved
(Observer, January 15, 2012)

A real odd couple this week. First, an interview with a graduate of MIT's health sciences and technology department who has invented a magic mirror that can take your pulse. Then, a review of a (frankly, not very good) puppet show with its head in a fairy tale.

PS. The contact page is being amended. To contact me in the meantime, please email k...@k...x.com


MUSIC
Small Packages
(Observer, January 15, 2012)

A gig review in which the real star is the venue.

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MUSIC
Album Review Round-up
(Observer, January 8, 2012)

I was lax about rounding up album reviews in 2011 (and in late 2010), so here are some of my reviewing highlights and lowlights of the last 16 months. Among other things, I've appreciated The Low Anthem, DELS, Emika, Tune-Yards, Zomby, The Roots, the latest Wiley (that's him below), Neon Indian and Battles; and been unimpressed by Funeral Party, SuperHeavy and this Michael Jackson cash-in.

kf

FILM
My Favourite Film
(Observer, December 12, 2011)

This - ie. choosing and writing about my favourite film for the excellent Guardian series - wasn't easy. But in the end I went for the film that blew my mind into outer space when I was 13. Some commenters quibbled that a film I've watched only twice is a dubious candidate for "favourite ever". Perhaps, but I'm not much of a re-watcher. Too many amazing things yet to be seen! My other favourites include Rear Window (watched three times), l'Avventura (watched once), Chinatown (four times), Blue Velvet (three), Brief Encounter (once), Raising Arizona (seven or eight, all before the age of 20), Chungking Express (one ecstatic viewing at the NFT), Sunset Blvd (twice) and The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On (once).

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MUSIC
Arm's Length
(Observer, December 1, 2011)

Laura Marling doesn't trip over herself in a rush to tell you all her deepest darkest secrets, but I did what I could in this Q and A for the Observer.

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BOOKS
Zombie Highbrow
(Observer, November 27, 2011)

Colson Whitehead, MacArthur "genius" grant recipient and Cool Brooklyn Novelist, takes on the (beyond-debased) zombie genre in his latest book Zone One and unleashes something pretty damn good. I talked to him for the Observer.

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TELEVISION
Not in the News
(Observer, November 6, 2011)

I talked to Rageh Omaar about modern slavery, the dark side of journalism and why he doesn't miss the three-minute news story

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MUSIC
Audience Participation
(Guardian, October 16, 2011)

"It's a beautiful sunny day ‒ the last gasp of summer ‒ and in a leafy back garden in north London, Camille is elegantly turning the tables on this interview. I've come to talk to the Parisian singer about her brilliant fourth album Ilo Veyou, on which she does all sorts of clever things with her extraordinarily versatile voice ‒ and yet somehow I have ended up agreeing to sing for her. There is one supremely confident and accomplished vocalist in this garden and, let's be clear, it's not me..."

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FILM
"Making this film felt like an exorcism"
(Observer, September 25, 2011)

An Observer Q&A with actor-turned-director Paddy Considine about his (excellent, dark-as-hell) feature debut Tyrannosaur.

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MUSIC
My Favourite Album
(Guardian, September 5, 2011)

Actually, I've no idea what my favourite album of all time is, but I had to come up with an answer for the Guardian music blog and this seemed as good as any.

(Other candidates included Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou: Ethiopia Song/Solo Piano, Genius: Liquid Swords, The Knife: Silent Shout, John Coltrane: A Love Supreme and Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation...)

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TRAVEL
Near Misses, Unexpected Hits
(The National, August 27, 2011)

Two recent journeys, written up for the National. An optimistic attempt to get a last-minute table at the World's Best Restaurant ended in failure, but led to some very interesting culinary discoveries and revealed that there's more to Copenhagen than Noma.

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Secondly: a long-dreamt-of trip to a hotel on the rim of a crater lake in western Uganda, and some primatial encounters in the dark of an equatorial rainforest.

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BOOKS/FILM
Multiple Choice
(Observer, August 21, 2011)

Two new Q&As for the Observer, one with Jennifer Egan author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, the other with great Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, who stars in John Michael McDonagh's The Guard and is about to direct an adaptation of At Swim-Two-Birds.

Also in this week, a review of Renata Salecl's The Tyranny of Choice.


MUSIC
A Gap in the Clouds
(Observer, July 31, 2011)

I went to Inverness to work on my tan review Laura Marling for the Observer.

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TECHNOLOGY
Uganda Mobile
(Observer, July 24, 2011)

Photographer extraordinaire Yousef Eldin and I travelled to east Africa a few weeks back to report on some ingenious ways that mobile phones are being used to tackle social issues in Uganda and to forge a new enterprise culture among the country's poorest. One of the most fascinating features I've worked on in a while, it took us to some unexpected places...

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Photo: Yousef Eldin
MUSIC
Alter Ego
(Observer, July 24, 2011)

Anna Calvi's debut album, nominated last week for a Mercury prize, is big, bold and passionate, taking inspiration from Italian opera, flamenco music and suchlike. In contrast, Calvi was small-voiced and shy when I talked to her on the phone last Wednesday for an Observer Q&A, but she had interesting things to say about how her work relies on just such a juxtaposition of strength and vulnerability - plus a few words on her encounters with Karl Lagerfeld and Brian Eno.

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SCIENCE
Speak More Languages
(Observer, June 12, 2011)

Neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok tells me why I shouldn't have let my polyglot tendencies lapse miserably after high school. Being bilingual keeps your brain healthy - and can stave off the effects of Alzheimer's.

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MUSIC
With A Little Help
(Observer, June 5, 2011)

I travelled west to assist the folk-electronic duo Lamb with some heavy-lifting. Then I talk to them about the leap of faith that led to their forthcoming album. The interview came out a few days later in the Observer.

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MUSIC
Long Fuse
(Observer, May 22, 2011)

For some reason I got it into my head, before I met her at a restaurant in north London last Saturday, that Ms Dynamite was going to be a difficult interviewee. I couldn't have been more wrong. I came away really liking her, and it probably shows in this long-ish Observer profile - the lead piece in the New Review's music special - which investigates what she's been up to since she "disappeared" from music in 2005.

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MUSIC
Keeping It Minimal
(Observer, May 15, 2011)

Everything Everything are notorious for throwing everything into their music but their rather underwhelming live show, reviewed here for the Observer, is an exception.

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MUSIC
Biggest Don't Mean Best
(Observer, May 1, 2011)

A contribution to the Observer New Review's regular "10" series: the 10 best British indie record labels (to coincide with the release of a new film about Creation Records). Expect a howl of comments decrying various unforgivable omissions. Apologies to Bella Union, in particular.

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PHOTOGRAPHY
Life in the Old Dog
(Observer, Apr 24, 2011)

"Age discrimination in the media doesn't stop with humans. Our collective obsession with youth extends to the animal world. Considering how much of the internet is given over to the extreme cuteness of kittens, how often do you click on images of elderly cats or glaucomic dogs at the tail end of their lives? How many ad campaigns show us horses past their prime or birds in their twilight years? Not often, and probably none."

An appreciation of Isa Leshko's wonderful photo series Elderly Animals, in the Observer.

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kf

TRAVEL
Ceret to Girona
(The National, Apr 15, 2011)

An account of travelling through Catalonia (French as well as Spanish) last autumn and the eating done along the way. Catalan food is extraordinary and most of the delights are relatively cheap and simple. The highlight of the trip, however, was a visit to El Celler de Can Roca, a neither-cheap-nor-simple restaurant in Girona which - for what it's worth - has just been voted second-best in the world in the latest Restaurant Magazine poll.

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LIFE
All This Support
(Observer, Apr 3, 2011)

Fifty years ago, the Observer played a key role in setting up Amnesty International, the influential human rights charity. As part of a special issue of New Review this weekend, I talk to three people who, with the help of Amnesty, were released from prisons in Burma, Malawi and the American sector of Cuba.

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SCIENCE
"A Catalogue of Terrifying Lurches From One Catastrophe to Another"
(Observer, Mar 27, 2011)

Hopefully not an allusion to my new role as editor of the Discover section of the Observer, but rather to the sky-scraping adventures of Auguste Piccard, the original mad scientist whom I write about in the section. Discover covers matters scientific, technological and nature-related, and I'm at the helm for the next few months.

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MUSIC/BUSINESS
Shady Business
(Observer, Mar 6, 2011)

How I came to spend a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Morrison's car park (Chiswick branch) being seranaded by a Margate rapper named English Frank - and other stories from the journalistic edge - in this feature on young British entrepreneurs.

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MUSIC
Wounded Rhymer
(Observer, Mar 6, 2011)

I can't say Lykke Li was the most cheerful person I've ever interviewed - she was tired and a bit testy - but I genuinely liked her and her no-bullshit approach. Her new album is good too.

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THEATRE
"Nobody's impressed back home"
(Observer, Feb 13, 2011)

I went to Leeds to talk to Maxine Peake (her off Shameless - and See No Evil, Red Riding, etc) about her lead role in one of several Terrence Rattigan revivals this year, a new production of The Deep Blue Sea at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Was she nice? Yes, very.

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BOOKS
Everything, All the Time
(Observer, Jan 2, 2011)

For an in-depth and extended account of actor James Franco's off-the-scale proactivity, viz his ventures into academia, performance art, literature, film directing, etc etc etc, I refer you to Sam Anderson's highly entertaining profile in New York magazine.

For a review of Franco's intriguing new short-story collection, Palo Alto, here's my two cents in the Observer.

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TRAVEL
Legends of the Fall
(The National, Jan 1, 2011)

I had high hopes for my trip to the new, state-of-the-art Freestyle Academy - an indoor training centre for aerial acrobatics on ski, snowboard, skateboard and BMX - in Laax, Switzerland. Find out how those hopes were painfully dashed in my blow-by-blow account for the National.

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FILM
Keep it Succinct
(Observer, Dec 19, 2010)

I spent a hell of a long time researching this Observer feature about online shorts. There's a bloat of bad short films out there, but definitely enough good to convince me that the internet is breathing new life into this underappreciated form.

You can watch all my choices over at the Observer website. My favourite is a toss-up between this, this and this.

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kf

MUSIC
The Soul Machine
(Observer, Nov 7, 2010)

"If Cee Lo Green's new solo album sounds calculated to generate hits and appeal to the widest possible audience, at the expense of his usual freewheeling inventiveness, that's because, without any attempt to disguise the fact, it is."

Album of the Week review for the Observer.

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FILM
Cinephilia
(Guardian Film Season, Oct 22, 2010)

I've contributed a fistful of film write-ups and interviews to the Guardian Film Season, which kicks off this Friday (Sept 24) and continues into October. For the Film-making Guide (FREE! with this Saturday's Guardian), I grilled Shane Meadows, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and legendary film editor Walter Murch about their jobs. Also: a foley artist, a set decorator, a line producer and a casting director. Educational!

My write-ups - for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Hidden, Ran, etc etc - will be scattered throughout seven genre handbooks (also FREE! with the Guardian/Observer over the next week or two), ranking the best 25 films in each category.

Update Oct 22 All seven are now available online: romance, crime, comedy, action/war, arthouse, sci-fi/fantasy and horror.

Plus: "the best of the best" is... dot dot dot.


MUSIC
Album Review Round-up
(Observer, Sept 26, 2010)

Recently, I've appreciated the gargantuan Ninja Tune XX compilation, Skream, Wavves, Mount Kimbie and Mountain Man; had reservations about Salem, Robyn, Philip Selway, Klashnekoff, Laurie Anderson and Drake; and been perplexed/bored out of my skull by The Hoosiers, Tired Pony and Jack Johnson.


FILM
Jemaine?
(Observer, Aug 29, 2010)

"Present."

A fun Q&A with the Flight of the Conchords legend, who is currently playing an animalistic performance artist in Dinner For Schmucks. (He's the best thing about the film.) The Observer understandably went with the 'I was in a public park replicating gay porn pics in my underpants' sell.

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BOOKS
Prose in Slow Motion
(Observer, August 1, 2010)

"Hello, this is Paul Chowder, and I'm going to try to tell you everything I know." A review of Nicholson Baker's superbrilliant The Anthologist, for the Observer. If you haven't read Baker on Wikipedia, read it here, right now.

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MUSIC
Cupcakes
(Observer, Aug 1, 2010)

A short and surreal encounter with the popstar Sophie Ellis Bextor at her OTT pop-up soiree venue, for the Observer.

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THEATRE
Plus and Minus
(Observer, July 25, 2010)

Two London theatre reviews for the Observer, one enthusiastic, one not so enthusiastic.


MUSIC
Rock'n'Roll Behaviour
(Observer, July 11, 2010)

Martina Topley Bird for the Observer New Review.

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TRAVEL
Boom!
(The National, June 25, 2010)

I went to the Mediterranean island of Stromboli for The National, to witness its short-fuse volcano. It displays its temper, blasting fire and ash hundreds of feet into the sky, every seven or eight minutes. I was very happy to discover that one of my favourite films, L'Avventura, was filmed nearby, on Lisca Bianca.

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ONLINE
Hyperlinked
(Times, May 1, 2010)

Ben Machell and I profiled 40 top bloggers for the Times Saturday Magazine. My personal favourites include this and this and this.

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TRAVEL
No Excuses
(The National, April 30, 2010)

Another seasonal round-up of travel ideas - movies, football, jazz, Easter Island solar eclipse - for The National.

Read more...

(My guide for spring can be found here.)


FILM
Cinema Interlude

I've been toiling over a screenplay. This would explain the occasional gaps in journalistic output. Screenplay details to follow.

kf

MUSIC
Album Review Round-up
(Observer, May 2, 2009)

May 2: Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (Polydor) 9/10

April 25: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone) 7/10

April 18: Cypress Hill - Rise Up (Parlophone) 3/10

April 11: Harper Simon - Harper Simon (PIAS) 5/10

April 4: We Have Band - WHB (Naive) 5/10

March 28: Wooden Shjips - Vol 2 (Sick Thirst) 6/10

March 21: Mary J Blige - Stronger With Each Tear (Polydor) 4/10

March 7: Boyzone - Brother (Polydor) 3/10

February 28: Ringo Starr - Y Not (Commercial Marketing) 2/10

January 10: Lawrence Arabia - Chant Darling (Bella Union) 6/10


FILM
Cosmic Forbearance
(Shortlist, February 26, 2010)

A Dude-centric interview with Jeff Bridges for Shortlist magazine. Laid-back? Naturally. Likeable? Extremely. Bridges was promoting Crazy Heart, which may finally win him an Oscar, but he didn't mind when the conversation drifted, inevitably, Dude-wards.

Update: He won!!

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kf

MUSIC
The Maestro
(Thought Catalog, February 8, 2010)

Gonzales - genius key-tickler, perennial prankster - interviewed for new NY-based online magazine Thought Catalog.

"Chilly Gonzales takes the stage at the Pigalle Club, a Forties-style dinner and cabaret spot in London's West End (circular tables, low ceilings, regular intervals of green velvet), and assumes his place at the piano. He is wearing a brown knee-length silk robe with matching trousers and a pair of generously cushioned slippers. His hands are encased in pristine white gloves. With shadowy deep-set eyes and slicked back hair, he is the very image of the brooding piano maestro..."

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MUSIC
Mea Culpa
(Observer, December 22, 2009)

At the end of every year, as a guilt-assuaging measure (and to quicken the December doldrums), Observer writers eulogise albums that went unreviewed in the paper in the preceding 12 months. This beautiful, unsettling record was my choice for 2009.

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kf

Other agreeable releases of 2009:

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
Wild Beasts - Two Dancers
Martyn - Great Lengths
Sonic Youth - The Eternal
The xx - xx
Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do
Micachu - Jewellery
Fever Ray - Fever Ray

And the first majorly agreeable release of 2010:

Gonjasufi - A Sufi and a Killer
FILM
Observer Film Magazine
(Observer Film Magazine, December 6, 2009)

Jacques Audiard is director of Read My Lips and The Beat that My Heart Skipped. His new film is the truly brilliant A Prophet, his best yet, and the unimpeachably cool Audiard is the cover star of the latest Observer Film Magazine. Elsewhere, we've asked six respected authors, including Geoff Dyer and Jonathan Coe, to write in defense of underappreciated or forgotten films. We republish Martin Amis's notorious 1979 interview with Roman Polanski. I interrogate the expanded best film category in the 2010 Oscars and talk to author and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo about the films of her life. And more besides.

Read the magazine here...


MUSIC
Album Review Round-up
(Observer, December 20, 2009)

December 20: Lucas Renney - Strange Glory (Brille) 8/10

December 13: Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom (Sony) 4/10

November 29: Tricky Meets South Rakkas Crew - Tricky Meets South Rakkas Crew (Domino) 5/10

November 15: Shirley Bassey - The Performance (Polydor) 5/10

November 15: N-Dubz - Against All Odds (UMTV) 5/10

November 1: Bon Jovi - The Circle (Mercury) 4/10


MUSIC
Light and Dark
(Observer, December 6, 2009)

Jesca Hoop at the Slaughtered Lamb.

"This sense of play, which also permeates her music, has darker undertones. She tells a story about giving her Mormon mother a pot-smoking lesson over the phone, and the story makes us laugh, but it happened because her mother was dying of cancer and needed pain relief. The conversation, their last, it transpired, led her to write the extraordinary "Whispering Light", from her current second album Hunting My Dress..."

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kf

MUSIC
Fun Machine
(Observer, November 22, 2009)

"According to their Wikipedia profile, the Low Anthem use no fewer than 32 instruments in creating their desolate, often beautiful folk-rock, showcased recently on their second album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. These range from guitar, upright bass and clarinet, to Tibetan singing bowl, tongue drum and fun machine. Whatever a fun machine is, there are none on clear display at the Rhode Island trio's packed-out London show, but no one could accuse the band of skimping on the instrument budget..."

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GAMING
Making a Killing
(Observer, November 8, 2009)

"When it was released in 2007, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a stunningly rendered first-person shooter video game, sold two million copies in the US in its first month. The sequel, which comes out here on Tuesday, has already received 2.4m pre-orders in the US alone and is expected to become the fastest selling video game of all time, and perhaps even the biggest."

Read more...

kf

MUSIC/FILM
Twice
(Observer, November 1, 2009)

The stars of the Irish film Once, whose lives imitated art when they became a couple for real and then quietly split up, have returned with a new album. Life post-Once, they told me, involves playing spaghetti sticks with Ringo Starr.

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MUSIC
Album Review Round-up
(Observer, October 25, 2009)

October 25: Cheryl Cole - 3 Words (Polydor) 3/10

October 18: Mr Hudson - Straight No Chaser (Mercury) 6/10

October 11: Echo and the Bunnymen - The Fountain (Ocean Rain) 4/10

September 27: J Tillman - Year in the Kingdom (Bella Union) 6/10

September 27: Girls - Album (Fantasy Trashcan) 7/10

September 20: Basement Jaxx - Scars (XL) 7/10


TRAVEL
Further Afield
(The National, October 10, 2009)

The National is a fine newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates and online here. They asked me to write a series of travel recommendations for the winter ahead. I happily obliged.

Read more...


FOOD
The Best Things to Eat in the World, and Where to Eat Them
(Observer Food Monthly, September 13, 2009)

"From cake, steak and tapas, to oysters, chicken and burgers, Killian Fox roamed the world to find the 50 best things to eat and the best places to eat them in, with a little help from professionals like Raymond Blanc, Michel Roux, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray."

Permit your mouth to commence watering... now.

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MUSIC
Observer Album of the Week
(Observer, September 13, 2009)

Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3 (Atlantic)

"Following the patchy Kingdom Come and even patchier American Gangster, pundits have questioned whether a 39-year-old businessman can still prove his relevance, let alone supremacy, in a genre that demands freshness (and from which he tried to retire in 2003)..."

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kf

MUSIC
Album Reviews
(Observer, September 13, 2009)

Observer album reviews - monthly update.

September 13: Amanda Blank - I Love You (Downtown) 4/10

September 6: Taken By Trees - East of Eden (Rough Trade) 8/10

August 30: Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend (Cooperative) 4/10

August 23: David Guetta - One Love (EMI) 4/10

August 16: Simian Mobile Disco - Temporary Pleasure (Polydor) 5/10

August 16: Tinchy Stryder - Catch 22 (Island) 6/10


FILM
Future Filmmaking
(Observer Film Magazine, August 30, 2009)

In the latest Observer Film Magazine, I write about the big challenges facing the next generation of British filmmakers. And I talk to four emerging talents responding to these challenges in resourceful ways.

Read more...

kf

A still from Zam Salim's 10-minute film Laid Off


FILM
Observer Film Magazine
(Observer Film Magazine, August 30, 2009)

A British film special this month in the Observer Film Magazine, which I co-edit. Jason Solomons writes about the current state of British cinema. I look ahead to the next generation. And we look back over the past 25 years, listing the 25 best British films since 1984 as voted by Ben Kingsley, Kevin Macdonald, Sam Taylor-Wood, Peter Morgan, Irvine Welsh and many others. What is number one?

Read the magazine here...


TRAVEL
Palace of the Winds
(Observer, August 9, 2009)

In June, I went to Korcula, an island on Croatia's Dalmatian coast, and spent a weekend in a restored 18th-century bishop's palace in the old town. They treated me like a high-ranking church official and I ate like an Illyrian pirate after an unholy rampage.

Read more...


MUSIC
Album Reviews
(Observer, August 9, 2009)

Observer album reviews - monthly update.

August 9: Tommy Sparks - Tommy Sparks (Island) 2/10

August 2: Juice Aleem - Jerusalaam Come (Big Dada) 6/10

July 26: Melanie Fiona - The Bridge (Island) 3/10

July 19: Clark - Totems Flare (Warp) 7/10

July 12: Malcolm Middleton - Waxing Gibbous (Full Time Hobby) 5/10


MUSIC
Shredding With a Smile
(Observer, July 26, 2009)

Marnie Stern wins over the Luminaire

"A couple of songs into the London leg of her European tour, Marnie Stern observes that she's wearing the same red nail-polish as her bass player. It's a girlie moment at odds with the sounds her fingertips have been coercing from the strings of her guitar: great blocks of noise chiselled into jagged pop hooks and interspersed with Van Halen-esque fretboard tapping..."

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kf

FILM
Zowie Bowie Comes of Age
(Observer, July 19, 2009)

"Many fathers are eager to hand the family business down to their sons and Duncan Jones's dad was no exception. He wanted his son to become a rock star, or a musician of some description, but instead Jones has grown up to be a film director and his highly accomplished - and perfectly timed - debut feature, Moon, went on general release on Friday..."

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MUSIC
Future Primitive
(Observer, July 19, 2009)

Fever Ray terrorise London.

"If you listen to too many songs involving Karin Dreijer Andersson, you may begin to imagine yourself lost in a dark Swedish forest. The music she makes with her brother Olof as the Knife is pristinely synthetic, yet the images it conjures up are of primitive nature, harsh and cold and thoroughly Scandinavian..."

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kf

MUSIC
Album Reviews
(Observer, July 5, 2009)

Observer album reviews - monthly update.

July 5: Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do (Cooperative/Downtown) 7/10

June 28: The Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Bella Union) 5/10

June 21: Jack Penate - Everything Is New (XL) 7/10

June 14: Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey) 7/10


MUSIC
Barcelona! Sonar! Deadmau5!
(Observer, June 28, 2009)

"The most spectacular audiovisual assault came right at the end and involved an oversized mouse mask with an illuminated red mouth..."

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kf

FILM
Observer Film Quarterly
(Observer, June 21, 2009)

The cover star this issue is Emily Blunt. Amy Raphael visits the set of the upcoming Harry Potter movie. Andrew Roberts talks about Room at the Top and "kitchen sink" dramas. Vanessa Thorpe explores the fantastic BFI archive. I write about great movie venues worldwide, David Bowie's sci-fi loving son Duncan Jones, and the Mexico train drama Sin Nombre, plus I talk to Dave Eggers about the films of his life.

Peruse it here...


ART/LIFE
Sir Anthony Caro at 85
(Observer Magazine, June 21, 2009)

From an Observer Magazine special on ageing.

"The overwhelming impression you get upon entering the studio in Camden, north London, where Sir Anthony Caro has worked for 40 years, is of physicality and weight. Great battered sheets of rusting metal are stacked outside in the courtyard, surrounded by girders and heavy machine parts. Inside the large, noisy workshop, Caro's small team of assistants takes on hulking artworks with hammers and angle-grinders. But at 85, is Caro - one of the most influential sculptors in modern times - still able to engage with his pieces physically? ..."

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FILM
Ronan Bennett on Public Enemies
(Observer, June 21, 2009)

A quick chat with the Belfast-born novelist and screenwriter about writing a John Dillinger screenplay for Michael Mann - and how his time in prison fed into the movie. Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, is out on July 1.

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kf

MUSIC
Album Reviews
(Observer, June 7, 2009)

I haven't been posting the weekly album reviews I write for the Observer on this site, so here's a quick catch-up, going back a month or two and beginning with last Sunday's thoughts on the new Sonic Youth album. I'll collate them monthly from now on. And for the hell of it, I'll break with Observer Review tradition by awarding marks out of 10. (Warning: I'm going to rate quite ruthlessly.)

June 7: Sonic Youth - The Eternal (Matador) 9/10

May 31: Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy (Big Dada) 4/10

May 24: Toddla T - Skanky Skanky (Sony) 6/10

May 17: Passion Pit - Manners (Columbia) 6/10

May 10: Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (Reprise) 2/10

May 3: Peaches - I Feel Cream (XL) 7/10

April 26: Golden Silvers - True Romance (XL) 6/10


FILM
Observer Film Quarterly
(Observer, March 22, 2009)

The latest edition of The Observer Film Quarterly, which I co-edit, features an interview with Vincent Cassel, Armando Iannucci on his unholily hilarious In The Loop, and an astute assessment of Richard Curtis by Tim Adams. And much more besides.

Peruse it here...


THEATRE/GAMES
GamePlay
(Observer, February 22, 2009)

"If you see men and women dashing through the streets at night pursued by sinister, black-clad figures, or a cluster of people receiving instructions from GPS-enabled phones, chances are you've witnessed an example of the recent theatrical phenomenon 'pervasive gaming'."

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MUSIC
Holler, Stomp, Ramble
(Observer, January 25, 2009)

To tie in with BBC Four's Folk America season, the Barbican laid on two nights of music featuring American folk types - aptly enough - and hosted by Seasick Steve and Billy Bragg. Here's a review of the first night, which showcased this particularly wonderful performer (who, now that I think about it, was inappropriately un-American):

"You get the impression that he is so completely immersed in the era of the earliest folk recordings that his shambling, clattering sound is a default setting, not an artistic choice. Hearing Stoneking perform live is, somehow, like listening to an old 78 recovered from a dusty attic in New Orleans..."

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kf

FILM
Frost/Nixon Supplement in Observer
(Observer, January 18, 2009)

Frost/Nixon hits the cinemas next Friday. A 120-minute movie about two men talking politics in a room, directed by Ron Howard, does not come laden with thrill potential, but it's unexpectedly entertaining, and gripping, thanks in no small part to screenwriter Peter Morgan who adapted it from his stage play (and wrote Longford, one of my favourite-ever TV films). This eight-page Observer pull-out, which I co-edited, covers the film and the events surrounding the famous 1977 interviews during which David Frost managed to cajole an apology out of Richard Nixon for the Watergate debacle.

Site...


MUSIC
New Girls OTB
(Observer, January 11, 2009)

The Observer profiles six emerging female pop conquerors who will be laying waste to 2009, including the thoughtful, talented and really very nice VV Brown.

"In an age of prefabricated pop stars, VV Brown is a refreshing anomaly. Tall and strikingly beautiful with a vibrant voice and an attitude to match, she looks like the product of a major-label wish fulfilment session, but there is more to the 24-year-old from Northampton than meets the eye..."

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kf

MUSIC
Interview with Animal Collective
(Guardian Film & Music, January 9, 2009)

"When Animal Collective were ready to make a new record at the beginning of last year, they decided to up sticks and head south. The four members of the band, originally from Baltimore, who make music that resists almost every effort at categorisation (experimental psych-rock? postmodern pastoral pop?), had "lagoony, beachy" images in mind for their eighth studio album, so it made sense to trade the coats and mittens in for shorts, shades and suntan lotion. The plan didn't quite work out..."

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kf

BOOKS/ART
Observer Miscellanea
(Observer, January 4, 2009)

A quick review of Benjamin Markovits's beautifully written A Quiet Adjustment, which looks at Byron (and his sister) through the eyes of his beleaguered wife, Annabella.
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and...

As part of Review's 2009 hotlist, an interview with the affable Cornwall-born, Becks Futures prize-winning artist Matt Stokes, who discusses his attraction to offbeat musical subcultures (Lake District cave ravers, Texan punks). If you're in London, go see his show at 176 in Camden from February 26.
Read...


TRAVEL
Dark Skies
(Observer, December 21, 2008)

A wet, cold, dark, but oddly enjoyable trip to Northumberland for the Observer to gaze at dislocated lights, rustic observatories and, in spite of meteorological interference, the great fabric above.

"It's as we are trotting down the steep far side of the hill that the mist suddenly clears and - at long last - we are afforded an unexpectedly perfect view of the heavens. I let out a whoop..."

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kf
Photo: Amit Lennon
MUSIC
Uns(tr)ung Acts
(Observer, December 21, 2008)

Albums that slipped below the Observer radar in 2008, including...

"In the past 12 months he [Bradford Cox] has delivered three albums that deserve to be considered among the year's best. His solo Atlas Sound project reached us in May, wafting out of the speakers like a haunted dream. Two Deerhunter records, Microcastle and full 'bonus' album Weird Era Cont, followed in October. They were less ethereal, more grounded in crunchy guitar riffs and achingly gorgeous pop melodies..."

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kf

Other agreeable releases of 2008:

TV On The Radio - Dear Science
White Denim - Workout Holiday
Diplo vs Santogold - Top Rankin'
Benga - Diary of an Afro Warrior
Nico Muhly - Mothertongue
Fleet Foxes - Ragged Wood
Nick Cave - Dig Lazarus Dig!!!
Neon Neon - Stainless Style

And the first majorly agreeable release of 2009:

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
MUSIC
Great Scott
(Observer, November 16, 2008)

"It's been 30 years since Scott Walker last played a full live concert..."

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FOOD/TRAVEL
On the Chilli Trail in Assam, India
(Times, November 15, 2008)

"There is nothing at all serene about the bhut jolokia, the hottest chilli on earth. It registers an incredible 1,041,427 on the Scoville Heat Unit scale, more than double the score of the previous world record-holder (the red savina habanero). It is 200 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. And yet, when you bite into a bhut jolokia, there is no pain at first, only a smoky flavour with an intense, apple-like sweetness. Then, after about 20 seconds, all hell breaks loose. I know this because I was foolish enough to try one."

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kf
FILM
The Greatest Films Never Made
(Observer, November 2, 2008)

"Floods put a stop to Terry Gilliam's pet project; Stanley Kubrick's studio pulled the plug on his; Orson Welles ran out of funds. Some of the greatest directors laboured over films that ultimately never saw the light of day. Killian Fox rounds up the potential classics that fell foul of fate."

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MUSIC
"We used to smile, but not now. They use smiles to bury you."
(Observer, September 14, 2008)

An interview with art-rock heroes, and album-of-the-year deliverers, TV On The Radio.

"'The loose idea was that we wanted to make a dance record,' says Tunde Adebimpe, the band's towering lead vocalist who has a habit of raising his fist to the gods when he sings as if testifying to some formidable higher truth. 'At our gigs in the States we can get a lot of crossed-arm starers when we're playing. So we thought it would be nice to come up with something that made it a little more difficult for people to just stand there.'"

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kf

FOOD
"I liked it so much I bought the restaurant"
(Observer Food Monthly, August 17, 2008)

"Morgan Freeman wanted a decent place to eat in his home town; Sebastian Junger needed a quiet bar for a Monday night book club and Norman Cook loved his local Japanese so much he worked in the kitchen. But do other A-list investors really eat in their own gaffs?"

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TRAVEL
Sea-Kayaking off the Coast of South Wales
(Observer, August 10, 2008)

"At the far tip of Black Scar, a rock that looks like the skeleton of a battleship rising from the sea, we catch sight of a seal. He vanishes as soon as I spot him, then rises to take a closer look, peering at us through large, curious eyes as we drift by. I paddle back to the mainland feeling immensely pleased by this brief connection..."

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MUSIC
Glitter and Doom
(Observer, August 3, 2008)

Tom Waits in concert at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

"He teeters and sways alarmingly. Legs shoot out at right angles, hands grasp at empty air. At one point, his entire body leans so far over to the left it looks as if he's struck a drunkard's deal with gravity to remain upright whatever the cost..."

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kf

THEATRE
Scalpel-sharp and Dark as Blood
(Observer, August 3, 2008)

The first of a number of reports from the Edinburgh Fringe.

"Flashes of grim humour riddle the play like light through bullet holes. Riding in the Buick Electra that shuttles the young narrator towards disaster is 'like lounging. There's this sense that platters of food will be served.' A garden gnome 'looks as if he's suffering from some sort of gastro-intestinal disorder'..."

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FILM
"I have no idea how I'm still alive"
(Guardian, April 29, 2008)

"In late November 2004, Pat Dollard, a Hollywood talent agent whose biggest client was the director Steven Soderbergh, dropped everything, picked up a video camera, and went to Iraq. The 40-year-old, who was suffering a drug-fuelled breakdown following the collapse of his fourth marriage, had never been near a war zone in his life. After a brief stopover in Baghdad, he embedded at Camp Kalsu, a US Marine Corps base in an area known as the Triangle of Death."

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kf
Pat Dollard, centre
MUSIC
The Rise of the MP3 Blog
(Observer, April 20, 2008)

"In 2003, a few thoughtful music bloggers decided it would be a good idea to complement discussions of songs on their sites with the songs themselves, which readers could download in MP3 format and listen to straight away. Don't just take our word for it, was the attitude - take the music too..."

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MUSIC
"Give me anything and I'll make a beat out of it"
(Observer, April 6, 2008)

Observer piece on prominent producers: Diplo, Danger Mouse, Switch and others

Read...

email: k@killianfox.com