Monthly Archives: September 2016

Cascadia, earthquakes and Catalonia

This excellent piece from the New Yorker slipped under my radar when it was published (so you may already have read it). It covers the worrying evidence that the US Pacific coast from northern California to Vancouver Island, an area not known for its seismic activity, is actually at risk of a massive and devastating earthquake. The Cascadia subduction apparently poses much more of a risk than the more famous San Andreas fault.

This, coupled with last month’s tragic earthquake in Amatrice, led me to look up the seismic potential in Catalonia. Surely being so close to a ‘young’ mountain range like the Pyrenees indicates we’re at risk from earthquakes? The answer is: no. The Generalitat’s report into Catalonia’s seismicity found that while there have been a number of quakes in the Garrotxa region (its volcanoes last erupted 10,000 years ago), Catalonia’s a stable area. The Basque end of the Pyrenees is far more prone to tremors.


In deepest, darkest #Catalonia #valldellemena #rocacorba

A photo posted by Tom Clarke (@tombcn) on

We went to la Garrotxa at the weekend, celebrating ten years of marriage. We stayed in the Vall de Llèmena, just to the south. Llèmena is a real hidden gem – gorgeous forested landscapes and very little human interference. Much as I love the neighboring Empordà region, Llèmena has a lot going for it.

Are You With Me Now?

I shan’t bother with the apologies. Suffice to say, inactivity plagues this blog, like most others. My remedy: trying to post shorter, more frequent updates. And they’ll mainly be Spotify tracks & playlists (mine and from others), or music from elsewhere on the web.

First, a quick note about Spotify: many of my favorite artists aren’t on Spotify. Very little music from Drag City records, or many other independent labels, is ever published there. The reason is that artists make very little money out of ‘airplay’ on Spotify. I get that and I think it should be up to artists to choose how they want to distribute and publish their work. So I fully respect the rationale behind Neil Hagerty, for example, not having his music go up on Spotify.

That said, Spotify also represents a sort of adolescent dream made real. As a teenager, it was impossible to imagine having so much music available with the click of a mouse (or a touchscreen or whatever). It’s a great way of discovering music, particularly older tracks and compilations which just don’t make it to radio these days (with the exception of WFMU and a few other excellent stations). The Spotify Discover weekly playlist has been the source of quite a few new favorite tracks – some of which I knew, some I should have known, and some I’d never heard before. So, I’m happy to pay for a subscription to Spotify and also purchase music that I enjoy direct from the artist when possible, or from their record label.

For new music, Bandcamp and Soundcloud are excellent websites you know about already and then there are friends. We still share songs, after all.

Anyway, here’s a Spotify playlist of some songs I’ve been listening to a lot recently. Some new, many old. Some, like Spirit In The Sky buy Norman Greenbaum are true radio classics. Others, like Dion’s Daddy Rollin’ (In Your Arms) are completely new to me. Cate le Bon is a recent discovery, and I’m really looking forward to her gig in Barcelona this autumn.

Margo Guryan’s pop doesn’t seem to have that many followers these days, but in my opinion you can hear the bridge from her California Shake song, or a version of it at least, popping up in Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain (also her Sunday Morning contrasts nicely with the Velvet Underground’s track of the same name). She also wrote the lyrics for vocal versions of Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman and numerous other songs.

BRONCHO and Alvvays are just good bands I’ve been listening to a lot. Ex Hex’s Rips is one of my favorite albums of recent years: it’s just packed with great songs and even better guitars. They were excellent at Primavera Sound last year too.