Broken window theory

We were having a chat this morning with a friend who designs parks about the council’s attempt to save money by cutting back on park keepers. This seemed to us a strange decision because intuitively council spending on dealing with antisocial behaviour would probably go up significantly.

Then tonight I will reading a blog post about code comments in software development and the author linked to this Wikipedia article about broken window theory.  The title appeared directly relevant to our discussion at breakfast. And so it was.  I hope Birmingham City Council take note of social science research when they make their spending decisions. I wonder if they do.

Best tracks of 2013

Best of 2013

Each year a bunch of my friends put together a list of their musical discoveries as a 12-track compilation.

Here are the rules, courtesy of Paul Harrison:

1. Minimum of 6 and maximum of 12 tracks on 1 compliation only
2. No more than 2 tracks from any one album or artist
3. Tracks can come from anything you’ve bought, downloaded or otherwise acquired this year (so it may be something off a free CD you got with a magazine). Year of release of the track is irrelevant.
4. Perhaps the most important rule of all – which will henceforth be known as the ‘Robert Wyatt rule’ – every track you choose no matter how mainstream or obscure is allowed so long as it’s something you genuinely thought was good. So don’t let what other people might think stop you putting something on there if it really is great in your opinion.
5. If you’re not certain what you bought this year just be approximate – we won’t be too fussy if it turns out you actually got the CD in November last year.

And here’s my entry for 2013:

1 At Night in Dreams by White Denim from Corsicana Lemonade

I love White Denim. Probably mainly for the stunt guitar licks, but the songs are great too.

2 Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) by Unknown Mortal Orchestra from II

Probably my top musical discovery of 2013. Again, incredible guitar playing, with fingerbending chord inversions and melodies which stretch the limits of phrasing. Almost baroque.

3 Step by Vampire Weekend from Modern Vampires of the City

I took a while to warm to VW’s latest, but I got there in the end, and now I would almost rate it as their best to date (perhaps after another year with it).

4 Giorgio by Moroder by Daft Punk from Random Access Memories

Another slow burner. My favorite track probably won’t make it as a single, it’s just too long, but I love the voiceover, the drumming and the way the track goes completely beserk at about 8:00.

5 Spitfire by Public Service Broadcasting from Inform – Educate – Entertain

A great concept – take a wartime propaganda recording and set it to a post-rock inflected backing. Works really well, though has a limited lifespan.

6 The Village by Tunng from Turbines

We went to see Tunng on a rare excursion without Vashti, and they were great fun.

7 Shut Up by Savages from Silence Yourself

I was bouncing ’round the kitchen with the volume turned up to 11 when I first heard this one. Needless to say, I was asked to turn it down.

8 Vier Impromptus, op.90 D.899: II. Allegro, E flat major played by Paul Lewis from Schubert: Piano Sonatas D.840, 850 & 894

I’m learning piano at the moment, so getting back into classical music after a long hiatus.

9 About Farewell by Alela Diane from About Farewell

Beautiful and tender.

10 My Favorite Picture of You by Guy Clark from My Favorite Picture of You

Guy Clark just gets better with age.

11 Jezebel by Iron & Wine from Woman King

I filled in some of my Iron and Wine back catalogue this year. Well worth the digging.

12 The Harbinger by Julianna Barwick from Nepenthe

A little odd to take this out of the context of the album, which is an ambient delight, very immersive. This track isn’t perhaps completely representative as it features quite a strong piano line, whereas most songs purely on vocal arrangements.