Tag Archives: 2014

The Festive 15. Part.1: 15-11

Jonathan O’Shea returns to share his top fifteen tracks of 2014 over the course of the next three days. In this inaugural instalment, the 2011 ‘Midlands rear of the year’ nominee counts down numbers 15 through 11.

Gruff Rhys

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, is on the way to becoming an annual tradition (I think this the 6th one).

Each Christmas holiday, I like to review the great new music that’s been produced over the past twelve months and make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking some of it and then clumsily boxing it up like a scraggy bundle of deep-fried chicken. Then I present it to the world.

Here, in the first slice of a triple-header, I give name five of the past twelve months’ stand out releases that narrowly missed out on top ten honours.

15. Temporary Ground – Jack White

Straying across archetypal White Stripes slide-guitar territory, and lending brilliant use of Lillie Mae Rische’s ethereal vocals, this song even has a gleefully ghoulish whistling bit halfway through.

14. Talking Backwards – Real Estate

For anyone who’s endured the silent torture of time spent with a loved one who only ever hears their own version of events. A delightfully dreamy way of airing a universal frustration.

13. Government Trash – Death From Above 1979

Sonic assault on…well, everything (I think). Three minutes of relentless ass-kicking anti-authoritarianism. “Nothing is free/Call the police/They dress to kill/I dress to die!” You get the idea.

12. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be) – Gruff Rhys

Builds from a shuffle into a strident, if typically wry, ode to freedom (and Welsh pioneers.) Glorious pedal-steel guitar too.

11. Archie, Marry Me –  Alvvays

Instant indie classic. Melancholic Camera Obscura-esque vocals, wonderfully witty wedding-related lyrics about floral arrangements and bread-makers, and lilting 90s guitars.

Remember to tune back in tomorrow to find out which tracks made the cut for positions 10-6. If you do we’ll save a puppy, if you don’t we’ll slump into rice milk addiction and over zealous bouts of tea bag folding.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Premier League Deadline Day – who needs what?

The Premier League kicked off more than a fortnight ago, with Manchester United’s woeful start forcing them to splurge a British transfer record £59.7m on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria, one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup.

Other clubs, such as Arsenal and Everton, have embellished their squad with a handful of high-calibre additions, while Newcastle United and Liverpool have been amongst this summer’s most active deal brokers.

How has each club fared during the 2014 summer transfer window? Dom Kureen takes a look at the ins and outs of all 20 top-flight sides.

Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez
Best addition: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, £35m)
Notable departure: Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona, £15m)

Last season’s FA Cup winners have operated shrewdly in market this summer, with the marquee signing of attacking maestro Alexis Sanchez adding yet more flair to an already heaving creative hub.

The likes of Matthieu Debuchy (£12m from Newcastle) and Calum Chambers (£16m from Southampton) were probably overpriced additions, although both improve what was, at times, a leaky Gunners back line last term.

What they need: A striker is a must now that Olivier Giroud has gone down for up to five months with a broken leg – Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon would be an excellent addition to Arsene Wenger’s squad.

8/10

Aston Villa
Joe Cole

Best addition: Carlos Sanchez (Elche, £4.8m)
Notable departure: Marc Albrighton (Leicester City, free)

A strange window has seen the Villains snap up veterans Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Phillipe Senderos – all of whom are past their best.

On the flip side Paul Lambert has managed to conclude deals for Colombian defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez Moreno and pacy French full-back Aly Cissokho, both of whom should command regular first-team spots at Villa Park.

What they need: a creative player such as Newcastle’s out of favour Hatem Ben-Arfa would add an air of spontaneity to an ostensibly uninspiring group of players.

5/10

Burnley

Best addition: Matthew Taylor (West Ham, free)
Notable departure: Chris Baird (West Brom, free)

Newly promoted Burnley have been active in the market this summer, adding seven new faces to the ranks without spending more than £1.5m on any of them.

The free acquisition of versatile veteran Matthew Taylor adds a glaze of experience to a youthful setup, although the Clarets still look well short of possessing the quality to stay up.

What they need: Three or four proven Premier League players would be helpful, although with their limited budget that may prove difficult and the pursuit of Watford’s Lewis McGugan isn’t likely to improve early season fortunes drastically should it prove successful.

2/10

Chelsea
Diego Costa

Best addition: Diego Costa (£32.2m, Athletico Madrid)
Notable departure: Romelu Lukaku (£28m, Everton)

A breathless turnaround for the always active Stamford Bridge club has seen the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Frank Lampard, Demba Ba, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres and David Luiz depart – the latter to Paris Saint-Germain for an astonishing fee of £50m considering the regularity of the Brazilian’s mid-match brain farts.

Diego Costa has started well with goals in each of his first three league matches, and although Cesc Fabregas (£30m from Barcelona) has yet to sparkle, the ex-Arsenal man brings an abundance of pedigree to SW3. The return of ‘wunderkind’ custodian Thibaut Courtois, following a three year loan spell at Athletico Madrid, could prove the most pivotal addition of the lot.

What they need: Jose Mourinho would love to add Raphael Varane to the ranks, although it may take north of £30m to prise the central defender away from current club Real Madrid.

6.5/10

Crystal Palace
Neil Warnock

Best Signing: Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United, loan)
Notable departure: Danny Gabbidon (Released)

The Eagles lost their talismanic leader Tony Pulis this summer, whilst also missing out on most of their top targets, including free-scoring midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who snubbed a move from Spurs in favour of a return to Swansea City.

Newly appointed gaffer Neil Warnock has more than a whiff of the lower leagues about him, and the whole setup reeks of troubled times ahead – a lot will depend on the success of the returning Wilfried Zaha, with Brede Hangeland and Martin Kelly the only other summer acquisitions of note.

What they need: A time machine to go back three months and draw up a more realistic list of targets, possibly placating Tony Pulis with the new faces that he desperately required.

2/10

Everton
Romelu Lukaku

Best signing: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m)
Notable departure: None.

Christmas came early for Toffees fans when the club agreed a long-term deal with last season’s loan star, Romelu Lukaku, whose £28m jump from Chelsea almost doubled the club’s previous transfer record.

A less heralded loan deal made permanent was the free transfer of evergreen Gareth Barry from Manchester City – a fine player who fits the ethos at Goodison Park, although the short term signing of Samuel Eto’o may prove one move too many for the experienced forward.

What they need: Another central midfield option would be handy, with Manchester United’s want-away England international Tom Cleverley the subject of tug-of-war between Everton and Aston Villa.

8/10

Hull City
Tom Ince

Best signing: Harry McGuire (Sheffield United, £2.5m)
Notable departure: Shane Long (Southampton, £12m)

Steve Bruce has been a wily operator in pre-season, making Jake Livermore’s loan spell from Tottenham Hotspur permanent for a cool £7m, snapping up brilliant young central defender Harry McGuire from Sheffield United, nabbing the reliable Michael Dawson and stealing Thomas Ince from under the noses of a dozen or more other admirers.

Of the departing players only Shane Long was any great shakes, meaning that Tigers fans can expect another season of progression and some exciting months ahead.

What they need: With Long having headed south, the need for a new partner for Nikola Jelavic has grown more pressing, expect Palermo’s Uruguayan hitman Abel Hernandez to be announced later today.

7/10

Leicester City
Leonardo Ulloa

Best signing: Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton, £7m)
Notable departure: None

The Foxes have shown faith in the majority of the group that brought them success last season, as Nigel Pearson’s men romped to the Championship title to gain promotion to the Premier division with weeks to spare.

Leonardo Ulloa should add some muscle to a lightweight frontline, although at £7m the former Brighton and Hove Albion man is probably a little overpriced. Marc Albrighton and Esteban Cambiasso are two of the better free transfers of the summer.

What they need: One more experienced player could prove invaluable – something that should be addressed by the imminent arrival of Lokomotiv Moscow striker Dame N’Doye.

5/10

Liverpool
Mario Balotelli 2

Best signing: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan, £16m)
Notable departure: Luis Suarez (Barcelona, £65m)

The departure of Luis Suarez hinted at an end to the controversial times at Anfield… and then they decided to sign AC Milan’s wild-eyed forward Mario Balotelli.

The Italian should prove a shrewd investment, likewise Dejan Lovren is a terrific defensive addition and Lazar Markovic has the potential to do well after his big bucks move from Benfica. In contrast Adam Lallana might find the going tough at such a high-profile club.

What they need: Not much. If anything the defence lacks a bit of depth, something that the potential signing of River Plate’s Eder Balanta would resolve.

7/10

Manchester City
Eliaquim Mangala

Best signing: Eliaquim Mangala (Porto, £32m)
Notable departure: Gareth Barry (Everton, free)

A quiet summer by Manchester City’s standards has been more courtesy of FIFA restrictions than design of the club, with the champions punished for a previous breach of financial fair play rules with a budget of ‘only’ £49m net expenditure allowed.

Almost two thirds of that amount was splashed on Porto’s promising centre-half Eliaquim Mangala, who should provide captain Vincent Kompany with a worthy partner. Midfield scrapper Fernando was signed from the same club, while the addition of goalkeeper Willy Caballero from Malaga provides decent competition for Joe Hart.

What they need: With Alvaro Negredo unsettled Manchester City might look to do a swap deal for Athletico Madrid’s creative starlet Koke.

6/10

Manchester United
Angel Di Maria

Best signing: Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid, £59m)
Notable departure: Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan, free)

Louis Van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford having taken the Netherlands to an impressive third place finish at the World Cup, in theory his presence was intended to create a quick fix for David Moyes’ doomed tenure, in reality it is proving more difficult.

This is despite a massive summer outlay of around £140m, easily the most in the division, and the addition of half a dozen very highly rated players to the roster. There is still a sense that the shiny new Dutch boss has plenty of streamlining to do before the window shuts.

What they need: Clearing out dead wood such as Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Anderson would be progress, as would the expected conclusion of deals for Ajax schemer Daley Blind and long-term target Arturo Vidal from Juventus.

6/10

Newcastle United
Remy Cabella

Best signing: Siem De Jong (Ajax, £6.1m)
Notable departure: Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal, £12m)

Following two painfully reticent previous transfer windows, Newcastle have been busy this summer, capturing nine new players and allowing a slew of second rate performers to depart.

The £14m spent acquiring Remy Cabella from Montpellier and Siem De Jong from Ajax should prove a bargain, although both will take time to settle. One player who has adapted quickly is £5m full-back Darryl Janmaat, recruited from Feyenoord to replace outgoing incumbent Mathieu Debuchy. Jack Colback’s free transfer from arch rivals Sunderland is a genuine coup for the club.

What they need: a 15+ goals a season striker and a pacy centre back are paramount, Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and Virgil Van Dijk of Celtic are two players who could be the difference between a season of struggle and a top half finish for the Toon.

7/10

Queens Park Rangers
Rio Ferdinand

Best signing: Steven Caulker (Cardiff City, £7m)
Notable departure: Loic Remy (Chelsea, £10.5m)

Harry Redknapp made defence his priority this summer, pairing new signings Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker to add some much needed steel to last season’s play-off winners.

The versatile Mauricio Isla, on loan from Juventus, is a quality utility man and in Leroy Fer and Jordan Mutch the Loftus Road outfit have stoked up their engine room. Losing Loic Remy to Chelsea has severely depleted an already paper thin attack.

What they need: A replacement for Remy is vital to reduce the burden on Charlie Austin. Jordan Rhodes could probably be persuaded to take the step up, although Blackburn Rovers are demanding more than £12m for the Scotland international.

6/10

Southampton
Fraser Forster

Best signing: Fraser Forster (Celtic, £10m)
Notable departure: Adam Lallana (Liverpool, £25m)

The summer started horribly for the Saints, with manager Mauricio Pochettino heading to Spurs and no less than four key players and exciting young defender Callum Chambers all exiting, albeit generally for massively inflated fees.

New manager Ronald Koeman has managed to snap up some nifty talent to alleviate much of the misery from St Mary’s. The most impressive of these are goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic of FC Twente and £12m hit man Shane Long from West Bromwich Albion.

What they need: A couple more squad players and centre-half would fill some of the gaping holes in the squad. Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld would solve the latter issue and is expected to join on loan today.

5/10

Stoke City
Bojan

Best signing: Bojan Krkic (Barcelona, £6.8m)
Notable departure: None

In typical Stoke City fashion, the club have made a series of solid, dependable signings this summer embellished with a couple of less predictable ones.

Bojan Krkic was once regarded as the next great player from Barcelona’s youth academy and it’s a measure of how far his stock has plummeted that he now joins The Potters with a reputation in need of salvaging. Mame Biram Diouf and Victor Moses perpetually lurch between potential match winners and a state of ineptitude.

What they need: Mark Hughes has publicly stated that he doesn’t wish to add any more players to the squad, looking instead to offload the likes of Wilson Palacios and Jack Butland.

5/10

Sunderland
Jack Rodwell

Best signing: Jack Rodwell (Man City, £10m)
Notable departure: Jack Colback (Newcastle United, free)

The Mackems’ investment in Manchester City’s want-away midfielder Jack Rodwell has paid instant dividends and given the player a new lease of life, with his point salvaging goal against Manchester United serving as testament to that.

The departure of another Jack – Colback – caused consternation amongst Sunderland fans, with the 24 year-old, cheekily nicknamed ‘ginger Pirlo’, heading to arch rivals Newcastle United on a free transfer.

What they need: A quality central defender, with the club strongly linked to Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk and Athletico Madrid’s (Southampton bound) Toby Aldreweireld.

5/10

Swansea City
Bafe Gomis

Best signing: Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon, free)
Notable departure: Michu (Napoli, loan)

The high flying Swans have attracted some quality players to the club this summer, including Lyon’s livewire forward Bafe Gomis and returning Gylfi Sigurdsson from Tottenham Hotspur.

Perhaps more crucially, they have so far hung on to star men Wilfried Bony and Jonjo Shelvey, despite intensive transfer speculation. Losing both Ben Davies and Michel Vorm to Spurs was disappointing, albeit unavoidable.

What they need: Jet-heeled Marseille winger Andre Ayew would add a sprinkle of dynamism to the Welsh side.

7/10

Tottenham Hotspur
Mauricio Pochettino

Best signing: Mauricio Pochettino (Southampton, £6m)
Notable departure: Michael Dawson (Hull City, £4.5m)

Luring new manager Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton seems to have breathed new life into Tottenham and should provide long-term dividends for the club going forward.

After last season’s wild spending spree, it was inevitable that the business would be a tad less hasty this time around. The likes of Ben Davies and Eric Dier are exceptional prospects and snapping up Sevilla defensive rock Federico Fazio is an astute piece of business.

What they need: Morgan Schneiderlin has been linked with Spurs all summer, although Southampton are for once proving reluctant sellers.

7/10

West Bromwich Albion
Brown Ideye

Best signing: Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev, £10m)
Notable departure: Billy Jones (Sunderland, free)

Eleven new faces should have put plenty of ‘boing’ into the Baggies’ step, only for closer inspection to reveal a dearth of quality among the new faces.

Brown Ideye has all the attributes to be a success in the Premier League, although his mediocre goal scoring feats elsewhere suggest that he might not be one to hang your hat on. Craig Gardner, Chris Baird and the like are solid enough reinforcements. Georgios Samaras lacks the quality to set the division alight.

What they need: Someone with a touch of class in the centre of midfield wouldn’t go amiss. Will Hughes of Derby County has been a long term target of the club.

5/10

West Ham United
Enner Valencia

Best signing: Alex Song (Barcelona, loan)
Notable departure: Joe Cole (Aston Villa, free)

The Hammers pulled off one of the coups of the window 48 hours ago by bringing in Alex Song on loan for a year from Barcelona, although his arrival probably spells the end for Mohamed Diame, who has his sights set on Hull City.

Enner Valencia is another exceptional addition, arriving just in time to cover Andy Carroll’s latest injury setback. Aaron Cresswell and Mauro Zarate are technically gifted players who will hopefully steer ‘big’ Sam away from his usual tactical anti-football.

What they need: Another body at the back. Micah Richards is being strongly linked with a late move to Upton Park from Manchester City, so watch this space.

8/10

Have you heard any rumours? Let us know. Make sure to ‘like’ Kureen on Facebook while you’re at it!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Popping The Glastonbury Cherry

Sceptics claim that it’s become too commercial, with bands such as Metallica undermining its heritage, while devotees insist that it remains the world’s premier music festival – but what did Dom Kureen make of his first Glastonbury Festival recently?

Glastonbury 23
By the time of my 13th and final day at Worthy Farm, Pilton, the blisters on my feet were long replaced by oozing sores and the 2-3 hours of sleep between bouts of heavy manual labour and heavier partying had finally rendered me a zombified meat puppet with the motor skills of the elephant man’s physically inferior cousin…

It was so worth it!

For more than a decade I’d longed to visit this place, to be woven into its quivering fabric and fight my way through steamy, intoxicated bodies towards the barrier closest to the domineering Pyramid Stage (the latter of which I achieved on a surprisingly regular basis.)

The music and main stages provide the platform for the bulk of mainstream media coverage of the event, but in truth are a mere speck on an expansive landscape. A quiet village transformed for five enchantingly bizarre, unapologetically ‘balls out’ days that somehow manage to encompass virtually every genre of entertainment.

Human beatboxing in tents, tightrope walkers, the rasping of kazoos from octogenarian lips – These are just the tip of the iceberg.

People start young, the stories shared by 30-somethings who began their Glastonbury life when a few months old, with parents refusing to miss the show regardless of a freshly baked sprog attempting to crash the party.

To witness the intricacy of the stages around Block 9, Shangri-La and Arcadia is an experience that can leave a first time spectator in a perpetual state of awe, the level of which possibly correlates directly with the amount of brain altering supplements that have been ingested.

Then there’s the Stone Circle: a blatant homage to Stonehenge that is equal measures spiritual haven and Silk Road in living colour. It pays to be vigilant – one festival goer this year having deceased at the tender age of 26 after an adverse reaction to some Ketamine laced with other substances which he allegedly purchased on site.

 

With all emotion to one side, this isn’t uncommon or unexpected at a five day free-for-all with an attendance of close to 200,000, regardless of some tabloids’ attempts at hyperbolic pro-drug war propaganda.

 

Make no mistake, Glastonbury Festival is special. Forget the rain, the state of the toilets and all of that bloody mud! There is something in the Pilton air that puts everything into perspective – be it money, life choices or simply the kind of people you choose to surround yourself with.

For yours truly Glastonbury granted a truly life changing couple of weeks that ultimately cleared a formerly clouded psyche, I advise everyone to at least visit once.

 

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Isle of Wight Festival 2014. Part Three: Photo Gallery.

The final part of the Isle of Wight Festival series is a wee photo gallery for y’all to enjoy.

Both myself and Sophie Robinson had an amazing time at the event on behalf of Kureen.co.uk and I wish to place on record my gratitude to the organisers for allowing a newly formed media outlet to enter the premises – you made our weekend!

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Isle of Wight Festival 2014 Highlights. Part One: Local Bands.

The Isle of Wight Festival kicked off the 2014 summer season of live music with a posturing, strutting cocktail which catered for everyone who entered Seaclose Park during the course of the four days. Dom Kureen and photographer Sophie Robinson were present to check it out.

Ellie Price of Signals

Following last year’s disappointing ticket sales and mixed feedback, Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings knew that he had to flip a Royal Flush this time around in order to mend the reputation of a previously highly regarded event.

In 2014 Giddings and his fellow organisers got it right, providing a fully warranted spotlight for a burgeoning crop of local talent that is the most exciting in decades, whilst cramming the main stage headline slots and under card with an eclectic menu that surely had something to satiate even the airiest hipster.

Local Highlights

The “Platform One” and “Kashmir Cafe” stages in particular promoted the cream of Isle of Wight talent, allowing groups from the area pleasingly extensive exposure.

Fresh from their Bestival competition success, Ba.Dow hit the P1 stage three times over the course of the weekend, their catchy guitar riffs accompanied by Beth Ditto-esque vocal interpretations that resonated courtesy of lead singer/drummer Jodie Amos and ensured that they once again confirmed their status as one of the five most promising bands on the island.

Signals excelled in their final set of the weekend inside the Kashmir Cafe, despite front-woman Ellie Price suffering from a bout of laryngitis.

The four-piece, who have only recently returned from a successful UK tour, had the packed venue leaping around incessantly with a memorable rendition of the uber uplifting “Square Wheels” with bass guitarist Alex Vanblaere in his element within the crammed venue, upping his usual ferocity to compensate for Price’s enforced throaty reticence.

Ska practitioners The Ohmz engaged spectators with their customary high-tempo unpredictability and their place upon the “Life’s a Beach” stage was undoubtedly one of the booking masterstrokes of the entire festival.

Dan Duveaux
Dan Duveaux

Pleasurade disappointingly opted to call it a day, announcing they were set to go their separate ways following a conclusive gig at the festival.  It brought the curtain down on a four year stint that had gradually gained the talented quintet a decent following in local circles.

Their adieu wasn’t all sunshine and lounge chairs, with Adam Gaterell’s guitar refusing to play ball for the band’s send-off, fortunately he had a replacement in tow!

Others who stood out from the local acts were Duveaux who were booked to play a mammoth six times, yet still managed to attract hefty crowds until the end and Floella Grace, whose emotional recital left a lasting impression upon everyone who was there to enjoy it – she’s one to watch in the next couple of years.

On a broader level, Platform One and those who come from its conveyor belt have evolved massively during the past few years.

Where in the College’s infancy the output was diluted by a host of wannabe Nirvana tributes, there’s no doubt that the contemporary artists all have the potential and originality to thrive on grander stages.

This was the first Isle of Wight Festival that truly showcased the magnitude of local talent on offer, for that John Giddings and his motley crew should be commended.

Check back for part two, where Dom will be looking at the ‘big names’ who performed at the 2014 Isle of Wight Festival!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.