Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What's new?

How do you discover new music to listen to, or new writers to read?

Although I can at times find them a little annoying, the recommendations on Amazon have provided some interesting discoveries over the last few months: Aeon Zen (sort of intelligent Prog Metal), Anathema (ballsy Post Rock) & Thieves' Kitchen (jazzy Prog) came to me that way. (The descriptions are purely mine, and I'm not 100% sure what they mean, so don't ask!) Cover discs on magazines have introduced me to a wide variety of otherwise unknown (to me) bands from across the world, like Crippled Black Phoenix, Lens, Lalle Larsen & Matt Stevens.

I'd actually heard of Matt Stevens through an advert he'd placed on Facebook, but had not really listened to his music. Having done so, I would highly recommend him to anyone who enjoys well-produced and well-played acoustic sounds: you can find him through this link. Check out his band, The Fierce and the Dead, too.

In terms of new writers, I've had some help from my wife, Judith, who pointed me towards Karen Slaughter from Georgia, USA, a writer of crime fiction, which is one of my particular favourite genres. It was through her love of Karen's work that I was introduced to another crime writer that I have really enjoyed -  a namesake of mine - Chris Simms. We came across Chris at a Crime Writers' convention in Harrogate last year, and I have to admit that I was attracted to reading his work simply because we share a surname (spelled the right way!).

Chris has been described as Manchester's answer to Ian Rankin, and he writes mostly about DI Jon Spicer. I would highly recommend any of his books; they all have their own particular strengths and its difficult to single any one of them out as better than the rest. He certainly deserves to be better known and more widely read.

But maybe you have some music or writers that have 'grabbed' you that you feel ought to have a wider audience. Who are they? Why do you like them? It's good to share.