Friday, 20 July 2018

Smokescreens 'Used to Yesterday'

New album 'Used To Yesterday' out now from Slumberland Records

Hailing originally from New Zealand, the duo of Chris Rosi and Corey Cunningham recruited Jon Greene when they moved to Los Angeles in 2011. After the passing of Greene, the pair re-grouped with Brice Bradley (drums) and Jenny Moffett (bass) that allowed Cunningham to switch to lead guitar and keyboards.

After constant touring throughout last year and recording at Primitive Ears in North Hollywood, the band ended up with the 10 tracks that appear on Used to Yesterday. The result is an ear-worm worthy album of riffs and power pop; that embraces both the kiwi summer zeal with the energy and warmth forever paramount to California.

A sea of guitars hit you from the outset of 'Someone New' the album opener followed quickly by the title track. However, this is not a band rashly flailing on guitars, there are melodic structures and good composition in their songwriting such as 'Waiting for Summer'

There is a rich vein of stylish quality coming out of the speakers even on a hideaway track such as 'Buddy' which culminates in riffs reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. Much like contemporaries such as Major Murphy and Lawn, there is an acknowledgement to the late 1960s Laurel Canyon songwriting; this emblematic on the album closer 'Falling Down' both anthemic and joyous.

How befitting to hear an album end on a high as if Smokescreens are signing off victorious from their efforts; coupled with another gorgeous album cover (a growing theme of this year's releases), the great year of unheralded gems from across the pond continue

Follow the band on Twitter here

Smokescreens 'Used to Yesterday' is out now from Slumberland Records.
My thanks to One Beat PR for the review opportunity.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

An Unwanted Guest

Shari Lapena returns with her third novel, An Unwanted Guest, following the unprecedented success of The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House.

Lapena has taken an Agatha Christie template and weaved a fast paced thriller that this reader read in less than two days when on holiday.

On a cold wintry weekend in upstate New York, strangers from varying backgrounds all descend upon the Mitchell's Inn - a remote lodge where there is not great phone signal nor wi-fi.  The blizzard like conditions have led to an understaffed hotel being manned by the father and son team of James and Bradley.

From the get go, it seems a lot of people are keeping cards very close to their chest; the Christie like method of taking six to ten strangers put them in an uncomfortable situation and then let murder commence leads to the thriller taking shape before our eyes as one body appears after another in the polite atmosphere.

Lapena has crafted a winning formula perfect for these times; a thriller centred upon a mad cap 48 hours in the wilderness with the harsh reality of nature having a debilitating effect on proceedings leaving people reliant upon their wits and survival streak.  Characters are dependent upon being able to connect with the outside world, yet they have tried to escape the rat race for various reasons.

These same characters are knee-jerk in their reactions and behaviour, jumping to conclusions from the defence attorney David who was arrested for murdering his wife to Candice who may or may not be writing a real fiction novel on crime.

Lapena writes with such relish the scenes of people talking in confined spaces that once the body counts starts to add up, other writers may have got lost amongst her character's own hysteria, yet Lapena never deviates from the narrative rounding things of with a denouement that is both satisfying and startling.

Some critics may suggest that the ending comes too soon, yet in these hysterical times of constant moral panics; Lapena has been deliberate in treating the characters with respect instead of mere cadavers.

An Unwanted Guest is out in Hardback from 26th July from Bantam Press.
My thanks to Transworld Publishers for the review copy.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Kevin Krauter 'Toss Up'

Debut album release from Kevin Krauter, Toss Up is released from Bayonet Records

Indiana native Kevin Krauter has built up a loyal following in his home state, and whilst the music has slowly gathered a wave of momentum; Krauter is releasing his debut album and the result is Toss Up.

Toss Up proudly wears a wide range of influences from 60s flower pop, 80s yacht rock and upto the modern day indie rock.  There is a shimmer to the music that is both transcendent and illuminating; full of good will and a smoothness that is rarely heard in music recently.

From the ear worm radio friendly 'Suddenly' to the chilled out 'Keep Falling in Love' there is a confidence in the music that permeates from the earphones and yet there is a richness in the complexity of the production; a mixture of rhythmic intricacies and bold melodic artistry.

Krauter has composed an album that is full of lushness and beauty, one that should be shared by all at poolsides, equally aspirational and ambitious it is one of the better albums to come from America in recent times one that is easy on the ear that slowly penetrates your memory and consciousness.

Toss Up is released from Bayonet Records on 13th July.
My thanks to One Beat PR for the opportunity to review.

Rayland Baxter 'Wide Awake'

Out on 13th July from ATO Records, the new album from Rayland Baxter Wide Awake

Following on from the positive word of mouth of recent video and radio hits, 'Casanova' and 'Strange American Dream', Baxter has realised a dream in the production of his third studio album.

The roving rock and roll philosopher has dreamed of produced an album very much of the space in which it has its genesis. The hard-touring led the musician to slow down and find a quiet place for his work, he found in an abandoned rubber band factory in Franklin, Kentucky where he covered the windows, threw a mattress on the floor and with just a guitar and a piano he spent three months writing in the wilderness so to speak.

At night, Baxter would listen to the sounds of America from howling coyotes and the harsh wind with only the endless cycle of TV news for comfort.

The result is a collection of songs that speaks on the isolation of the individual in the vast United States but yet celebrates the best of humanity despite the worst being spoken of at length in the media.

Following in the footsteps of contemporaries, Ezra Furman and Jim James, who have capitalised on the traumatic presidency of a Trump administration where the needs of big business are being heard above those of the masses; Baxter explains, 'This is an album about decision making. It's about being a human at a crossroads. All of these emotions are things I see in myself, and they're the same things I see in everyone else no matter where I go'.

Wide Awake was produced by Butch Walker and features Walker himself on bass; and the production on this album is first rate elevating what must have been scratchy demos and ideas that Baxter had during his weeks of loneliness to raise them up to greater American staples of rock and Americana; songs that speak to the uniqueness of the American experience - one man can make a difference for sure, but one man perhaps has to make himself heard firstly.

Baxter is going the right way about it, creating music that is both accessible and pleasing despite its angry subtext brimming below the sometimes shiny exterior.

Wide Awake is out from ATO Records on 13th July.

My thanks to One Beat PR for the review opportunity.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Zero - Marc Elsberg

For fans of Black Mirror and conspiracy thrillers with a technological spin

This thrilling novel by Marc Elsberg is one of the more prescient novels of recent memory, due the knowledge of recent data swiping by Facebook and how do you know how safe and secure your online personality is from people who track your data and what you like and do not like.

Elsberg has crafted a paranoid conspiracy thriller in the vein of the man done wrong such as the 1970s American cinematic thriller like The Parallex View and The Days of the Condor, the only change of tone is the use of a female protagonist as the person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Cynthia Bonsant, is a journalist, who starts to uncover the truth of a new Freemee App which infiltrates people's live through immediate gratification. Bonsant is on the lead of an anonymous activist called Zero who promises to uncover the truth of how big business is after your data.

As Cynthia gets closer to the truth and people around her become targets also, her safety is threatened by those she trusted.

Elsberg although crafting a decent thriller, has also written a glossary of how apps and online resources infiltrate our lives through our human need to gain instant satisfaction with a combination of chemical releases.  The data businesses garner from our usage rates and likes, tells them a lot about people and how possibly we could all become drones and cogs of a bigger operation.

While the thriller is a very good in places and goes along at a break-neck pace the stops for exposition sometimes drags down a good thriller to a chamber piece; which is unfortunate as caught between the devil and the blue sea Elsberg requires the exposition to create the paranoia in Cynthia for us to embrace her conspiracy.

Tellingly, the last word of the novel is left to the anonymous bloggers and hackers, who are still out there watching keeping an eye on those who are watching us.

Zero is out from Doubleday Press on Thursday 12th July

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Eyes Turned Skywards

New novel by Ken Lussey, focuses on rumours surrounding a number of real-life events including the death of the Duke of Kent in the summer of 1942 during the Second World War.

Wing Commander Robert (Bob) Sutherland used to be a detective before the War began, he thought those days were behind him, he was wrong.

On 25th August 1942, the Duke of Kent, brother to King George VI is killed in Northern Scotland in an unexplained air crash. A second crash soon after suggests sinister details may be afoot. Sutherland is tasked with visiting the base in Oban and the first crash site in Caithness to gather clues and rule out the threat of sabotage.

Reflecting on a country that is not as united as Winston Churchill nor history would have us believe, and with the kingdom recovering from the bombardment of the blitz, we follow Bob as he unravels lies and deceit from corners of the nation he did not expect.

There is a lovely economy to the writing of Lussey in the growth of Sutherland as a character and how the narrative progresses as he attempts to uncover the truth of the Duke's crash.  Lussey weaves a winning formula of transplanting a detective storyline into the wartime narrative, Sutherland is smart enough to be one step ahead of people and yet stay cool under pressure of which there is many.

Lussey writes with a real efficiency and the dialogue is indicative of putting fictional stories into a historical narrative; a lot of dialogue is exposition so we learn about various medals awarded to Sutherland and the different type of aircraft but it serves as important in the grander scheme of things.

Sutherland has an everyman quality that resonates throughout the book and makes you want to know what is going to happen to him during the remainder of the war time years as well as beyond once he returns to Edinburgh - the possibility of stories from Sutherland's pre-war days in the police force is both enticing.

As an introduction to a new charming character, Eyes Turned Skywards is enlightening and full of enterprise both gripping in its thriller form and wartime context.

Eyes Turned Skywards is released from Fledgling Press on Thursday 28th June

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Jim James - Uniform Distortion

Jim James, the angelic voice of My Morning Jacket, has ventured into areas his band would not have been renowned for when together. Following on from the politically conscious 'Eternally Even' from 2016; James returns with the new album Uniform Distortion.

Whereas, the previous album was a comment within an election year, the new album is more of a reaction to the Trump presidency - an album of anger and looking back.  In the press release for the album, James has mentioned how in the world today 'my head feels like it is exploding with the amount of information we are forced to consume on a daily basis and how that information is so DISTORTED'

Having listened to other American albums from such luminaries as Ezra Furman, there is a general anger simmering in American musicians about how their lives are being governed by a man who distorts his own way of thinking on a regular basis changing the narrative to suit his needs and wants; and thrusting it upon his people.

Whilst James' first album was one of meditation closer to that of MMJ releases, the further he goes down a solo career the more relevant to today's world he is becoming. Whereas MMJ albums would play like psychedelic work from another dimension full of hipster bohemia; James is certainly more of a rock and roll performer currently - in the same vein as Neil Young.

From title opener with its scratching hook 'Just A Fool' to the vitriolic 'Yes to Everything'; James is trying to make sense of the world and of his own place in the world - the latter track being more about regret and remorse than anything else.

There are still moments of lushness such as 'Throwback' a sonic blast of euphoria reminiscent of the best moments of MMJ with soaring backing vocals embracing the hook line, 'When we were young' before rocking out akin to Neil Young at his most bombastic.

Because of Trump, perhaps this is where rock music has to be on this permanent Eddie Vedder type show of angst. A reflective strain of songwriting in reaction to the nature of the world with a slight resignation to the belief that MAGA can happen in this first term of a loose cannon presidency.

From the rock out nature of 'Out of Time' and 'You Get To Rome', there remains an energy throughout the album that rivals many the qualities of a band of four or five. James wants to be heard on this record and heard loud and clear.

However, you cannot discount the voice of James one of those rare instruments in today's music scene that deserves the praise showered upon him, a voice that is full of soul, gravitas and power.

Uniform Distortion is out from ATO Records on 29th June.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Corrupted by Simon Michael

Published by Urbane Publications on Paperback on 21st June, Corrupted is the fourth book in the Charles Holborne series

Having never known of the Charles Holborne series you fear that you may be late to the party, much like the swinging dance parties and afternoon teas that take place at the Ritz in 1964, the year in which the latest Simon Michael novel is set.

There is no fear of that though, Michael has been lucky enough to create a central protagonist in the same vein as Jack Reacher; a likeable everyman who is one step ahead of most people, but one who is not afraid to throw punches (literally) nor get his hands dirty in the eternal pursuit of justice and truth.

Charles Holborne (or Horowitz - to show his birth name, and the still relevant anti-Semitism taking place in London), is 39 a Barrister working in Chambers at the Temple and the Old Bailey, he presides over a variety of cases - yet he himself has a criminal past which will not let go of him. He is well liked by his peers, colleagues and his unwillingness to fall in line with the old boy network does ruffle feathers, he nevertheless gets results.

The book is set in a hot summer of 1964, a year where the Beatles are returning home from conquering America, Sonny Liston just lost to Cassius Clay and the beginnings of the sexual revolution are slowly fermenting around the swinging London scene.  We first encounter Charles at home with his partner Sally, having recently moved in to a new house in North London; even Charles moans about the commute to work.

Upon his desk though comes a case involving his old nemesis, the Krays twins; the legendary Ronnie and Reggie whose criminal underworld dealings were known and held a vice like grip over London's night life.  The Krays are at war with the Mafiosa, and this leads to a footsoldier Mo Drake being murdered at his home supposedly by the Italians in revenge; yet there is more to the case than meets the eye.

It had long been rumoured for some time that Reggie Kray was homosexual and he was played as such by Tom Hardy in Legend as such; and yet the narrative revolves around a scandalous sex party that takes place at one of Reggie's residencies in Walthamstow, where all manner of high profile dignatries and cabinet members including Lord Robert Boothby attended indulging in fornication and sexual conquests.  In the narrative, a runaway boy Teddy is taken in by Mo and attends the party leading to Mo's death later that same night.

Charles takes on the case to clear the boy whom has been arrested for Mo's murder; yet Charles also has problems at home with Sally (who sadly vacates the scene somewhat abruptly) as Charles will not relent on his dream of fighting in the boxing ring one last time before his fortieth birthday, following a successful amateur career.   Charles goes for long runs on Saturday mornings and sometime evenings, which allows the author to write fondly of London before overpopulation took hold.

Even the premise of placing historical figures such as the Kray twins and all the mythos and legend they carry with them does not restrict nor overawe the character development of Charles Holborne, our protagonist remains front and center and the heart and soul of the book; you never feel your allegiance being swayed by the celebrity gangsters who themselves are written with great clarity and care by Michael, not becoming these overbearing larger than life figures, merely important people doing their job like anyone else.

Author Simon Michael

That is the beauty of this book, for all the gripping thriller elements and the page-turning quality of the narrative that rips along as quickly as that of Child or Grisham; Michael has gone to great lengths to paint a vivid picture of London at that time, as if it was the centre of the world - the glamour of the Ritz, to the stuffy tradition of the Old Bailey.

There is a vibrancy in the writing from the back and forth dialogue from each colourful character Charles meets to the vigour of the scene-setting of nightclubs and bagel shops, you feel a part of the story - something that this reader has not felt for quite sometime.

And with the protagonist Charles, Michael has created an anti-hero who is very much of his time - a chameleon like individual who is changing with the times much like his own city and world is in flux itself in terms of the rise of sexual freedom, feminism with Charles embodying the new breed of outsider and non-public schoolboy combating prejudices daily in his professional career; something the author had to confront during his career as a barrister.

As mentioned, the books 420 pages rips along at quite a clip that you will would be wanting more and with there still six years left in the 1960s for Charles to indulge in, it promises for more yarns for Michael to tell.  This reader for one will be looking back at the three previous installments of the series and looks forward with relish to the rest.

Corrupted by Simon Michael is released by Urbane Publications on 21st June.

In The Wake Extract

Helen Treverrow's debut novel is released from Urbane Publications on 28th June

In anticipation of the release of Helen Treverrow's gripping London based thriller, here is an exclusive extract which features our protagonist Kay heading home after a bad day at work and it encapsulates the psyche of the lead with her emotional upheaval at work, where she comes from and her fraught relationship with her father, Jim and the rewarding relationship with alcohol.

Check out my review here of In The Wake 

Follow Helen Trevorrow on Twitter @helentrevorrow
Follow Urbane Books on Twitter @UrbaneBooks

My thanks to #LoveBooksGroupTours for the opportunity to review

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Lawn - Blood on the Tracks

The new album Blood on the Tracks by Lawn, out now from Forged Artifacts.

It is weird how certain bands and albums come into your life; my brother is a big fan of The Gaslight Anthem, but I missed the release of The '59 Sound; a seminal album of that generation and now 10 years old, as if I need reminding how old I am getting.

The beauty of music and albums is that it connects with you on an emotional level. That is why some people like The Smiths more than Led Zeppelin and vice versa.  Sometimes an album comes out of nowhere that connects with you on a level that is hard to explain, but you know you love the album because it is a breathe of fresh air.

One such album is the album 'Blood on the Tracks' by New Orleans based band Lawn.  Oddly, the band followed me on Twitter before I had ever heard of them, partly because I tweet new music videos and they must have taken a punt on me.

Lawn are comprised primarily of Mac Fogler on guitar and vocals and Rui De Magahales on bass and vocals, with support from Nicholas Corson on drums and percussions and Duncan Troast on keyboards; and they prove to be a tight unit together.

Lawn image

So through the link on their twitter feed, I went to Gold Flake Paint website which carried an album stream which was released on 11th May by Forged Artifacts and was blown away by the simplistic 1960s feel of the tracks and with the swelling punk rock energy.

With a mixture of good songs swaying from serious to fun. There is an energy of abundant glee running throughout the album, from opener '2000 Boy' to the ear catching quality of the title track. Interspersed throughout are quick fire cuts like 'Rats' and 'Suzanne' full of fire; as well as the sheer driving force of 'Restless and Tired' which reminded me of early REM and Orange Juice.

A lot has been made in press releases that the band show the influence of The Kinks and The Beatles on their tracks, which is great to hear and there has been a plethora of bands in recent years mining the swinging Sixties for inspiration from Lab Coast and Major Murphy, evident in 'Vinnie' track 6.

The reason being is that there is a colourfulness to the music being produced, a vitality that is being lost in the programmed mainstream, music that is lovely to listen to - the type of music you can put on in the background at work or a BBQ and it slowly earworms its way into your consciousness.  The music of the 1960s laid down the foundations for future musics, it was rock and roll that would eventually morph into glam, heavy and metal.


All songs start with a guitar and the music of Lawn is the type that firstly sounds great to listen to, but also sounds like fun to play - it comes full circle as they have sing-along hooks and a hum-ability not often given the credit or airplay. For this just listen to 'My Boy' track 5.

Lawn have done some shows in America recently as well as playing at South By Southwest - and this album is very much an album of context and location; hailing from the Big Easy in New Orleans there is an almost horizontal laconic ease to their performance and playing that could almost be too laidback, but this comes across in a swath of cool not arrogance.

It has been a while since  an album got me this excited about and left me wanting to share with my followers in sometime; there is a track for everybody on this and it should be heard by as many people as possible with this album being one for music lovers as much as anything.

Too often albums like these get lost in the graveyard shifts of late night alternative radio or playlists, Lawn deserves to be heard by more people.

Blood on the Tracks is out now from Forged Artifacts.

Check out more music at Gold Flake Paint

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

In The Wake - Helen Treverrow

Helen Treverrow's debut novel is released from Urbane Publications on 28th June

When a body is found floating in London's Royal Albert Dock, public relations expert Kay Christie is sent to quiet the media, but things become complicated when it emerges she knows the victim.

Centered around the Excel center in London, a major exhibition is overshadowed by this body being found.  A convoluted narrative structure involving Kay's father who works at the exhibition hall, and the tightly knit support network around her starts to unravel as secrets much like the body rise to the surface.

Opening with the disappearance of a French nurse from her London hospital around Christmas time - the imagery Trevorrow evokes the harshness and cold of the London winter is depicted succinctly, showing the combination of how lonely the big city can be when you are questioning your own decisions in life.

Kay is in her 40s, gay and partnered with Julia, a woman who is enjoying an Indian summer with high-profile media commitments; and yet Kay is not happy. Kay drinks regularly, she is in love with her job but not in love with her routine. The introduction of a female police officer, Polly - younger and vital stirs some lustful yearnings within her which has been absent for sometime.

This melodramatic shift to a women's narrative in unison with the crime story is a risky venture, and on occasion the crime story struggles to be heard beside the Sapphic storyline; at times this reader felt that the love scenes were overpowering the actual crime story narrative and the interest in the case being solved.  Kay is an intelligent, successful woman and yet her life is full of quandry with Treverrow delicately explaining her psyche following a sexual assault from years past; which is told to us in flashback.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Gary McAllister

Full piece appears here

Gary McAllister is one of those players, that when people talk of them they are remembered fondly - not a bad word to be spoken of them, glowing praise radiates in odes to their past glories.

When people think of the Scottish midfielder what comes to mind firstly? A receding hairline or lack of hair altogether. A midfield maestro who could pick a pass with pin point accuracy. A reliable player who elevated every side he played for.

From his early career days for hometown Motherwell he left for Leicester City where in the then Second Division he drew acclaim before joining Leeds United in 1990. For many, McAllister was a key missing piece of a side that eventually won the First Division title, the last before the dawn of the Premier League and he was the lynchpin of a formidable midfield foursome of himself, Gordon Strachan, David Batty and the late Gary Speed - a best of British midfield.

Following a move to Coventry where he rekindled a partnership with Strachan, McAllister was nearing the end of his playing days and in July 2000 he signed a free transfer with Liverpool.  To many an observer it was a strange signing for both the club to sign an ageing but gifted individual, and seen as a retirement move for the Scot taking the bigger payday to seat behind younger team-mates on the bench.

Yet the importance and quality of McAllister's dead-ball expertise came to fruition the longer the season went on culminating in a triumphant triumvate of trophies for the red side of Merseyside; in a season where they also finished third in the Premier League.

Starting with a League Cup triumph in Cardiff where Liverpool beat Birmingham 5-4 on penalties on 25th February. Birmingham were a Championship side at that time and came so close to causing an upset, yet the lottery of a penalty shoot-out fell in Liverpool's favour; tellingly McAllister scored the first penalty of the shoot-out, Birmingham missed their first attempt and momentum was with them.

From that game, Liverpool only lost two more games all season (a 2-0 defeat at Leicester and a 2-1 defeat at home to Leeds, who finished fourth and were on the crest of a great season themselves); most famously McAllister had the final say in the Merseyside derby on 16th April on Easter weekend at Goodison Park. An always tense match was locked at 2-2 when deep in injury time a free-kick was awarded to Liverpool the ball safely positioned some 40 yards away from goal. 

Using his wealth of experience and intelligence, McAllister knowing the pitch was wet from rain took the decision to shoot for goal hoping for a shot on target might induce a goalkeeping error; a long run up was met by a shot on target and the ball found the corner of the net under the despairing arm of Paul Gerrard.

It was the first game, three days after the home defeat to Leeds, and the result galvanised Liverpool to go undefeated in the league for the remaining six games of the season to finish ahead of McAllister's former employer in the league. 

McAllister had become the figurehead of the side surrounded by the burgeoning youth of England's finest - Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey. McAllister was the focal point of the side becoming as talismanic as Bryan Robson, Ray Wilkins and dare I say, Andres Iniesta.  By being able to read the game with a brain, the game can slow down for you and he was able to see passes many would not.

McAllister became the shepherd of the new flock of superstars coercing the best out of this new breed of footballer in the soon to be christened Golden Generation with Owen himself taking over the mantle from Robbie Fowler. Credit should go to Houllier who was able to fit three midfielders like McAllister, Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann into an XI - Hamann could do the dirty work in front of a defence which allowed Gerrard and McAllister to express themselves fully with probing runs and assists.

McAllister's calm from the penalty spot was also seen as the responsibility would fall on his shoulders to convert the spot kick - there was never any doubt when he stood from 14 yards ready to give his side the lead.

Liverpool returned to the Millennium Stadium again in May to come from behind to defeat Arsenal with Michael Owen scoring twice in the final 10 minutes; McAllister himself came off the bench to help change the course of the tie.  Trophy two had been gained.

A mere four days later, Liverpool heading to Dortmund to face Alaves in the final of the UEFA Cup.  McAllister started this game and his influence was everywhere on the night. At the age of 36, McAllister was Man of the Match coolly converting a penalty in the 41st minute to give Liverpool a 3-1 half time lead. Despite the grit of Alaves to keep fighting and pulling back the tie, McAllister would have the final say.

With the game heading to a penalty shoot-out and Alaves down to 9 men; G-Mac stood over a free kick from the left wing; his quality of delivery was telling as an inswinging delivery was met by the fateful head of Delfi Geli who cruelly converted into his own net. With this being the dreaded period of Golden Goal, that settled and ended the match in an instant.  Liverpool players swallowed up the Scottish veteran and jubilation rained on the field as Liverpool completed the cup treble. The first time ever an English side had won both domestic cup competitions and an European trophy in the same season.

McAllister's late season form means that it is his exploits that are more fondly remembered than that of the PFA and FWA Player of the Year Teddy Sheringham; many felt that McAllister's influence and far ranging appeal should have been acknowledged in some respect. However, to many Liverpool fans he is fondly recalled and for two months of 2001, Gary McAllister was perhaps the most important footballer in Europe.

Not bad for someone who was thought to be too slow for the quickening English Premier League.

The Love-Birds 'In The Lover's Corner'

The debut album 'In The Lover's Corner' from The Love-Birds out now from Trouble in Mind Records

From the sunny climes of San Francisco, the debut album from the Love-Birds is out now; and it is a wonderful earworm of an album full of gorgeous summery lilts, jingle jangle melodies and oozing with sunshine and hummable tunes.

The debut single Angela is emblematic of the influence of 1960s Laurel Canyon summer time music, it packs a punch with the reverb on the guitar but there is a drive to the music that sticks with you throughout.

The rest of the album is full of equally appealing tracks from opener 'Again' to 'December (Get to You)'; much like other bands from America who have released recent albums Lab Coast and Olden Yolk this is music for music lovers with an ear to the past to brace themselves for the future.

With 11 tracks this is a short sharp album that is great for the commute or a workout to fill the time; for fans of early REM, Pavement and the Replacements all the way back to the Byrds.

In The Lover's Corner is out now from Trouble in Mind Records

My thanks to OneBeatPR for the preview opportunity.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Rose Gold Interview with David Barker

book cover of Rose Gold

David Barker returns with the sequel to his hit novel, Blue Gold, featuring the returning characters of Sim Atkins. This is Rose Gold, I had the pleasure of being to ask Mr. Barker some questions for the #blogtour of Rose Gold.

You have come to writing later in your life, how did this come about?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, even while I was working as an economist. It’s a challenge to convey complex information in a fashion that is succinct, easy to understand and interesting. I had thought about a change in career towards financial journalism but more recently decided that I wanted to stretch myself and try my hand at creative writing.

What was the gestation of Blue Gold and Sim Atkins?

In my previous role I did a lot of research into commodity markets, and one recurring theme was the notion that fresh water would become a precious resource over the next 20 years. I realised that a world war for water would be a great setting for a novel and suddenly I knew what the opening and closing scenes would be for a story.

How long did the first book take to complete, how many drafts?

From that very first idea to the published book hitting shelves, it was about seven years. Talking to other authors I have come to realise this is not uncommon for first novels, especially because most of us write our debuts while working full time. And I think it was the ninth draft that went to print. The biggest changes happened between drafts one and two, which occurred after I had attended the Faber Academy novel-writing course.

What is your normal working day like, do you have a daily word target?

There are certain times of the year when I am just trying to think of new ideas for sticking points in the current project or for completely new future projects. At other times, I am focusing on the promotional side of things. But when I am in first-draft mode, then yes, I try to aim for 2000 words a day. I often get that done by lunchtime (I’m an early riser), so will tend to spend the afternoon reading novels. As Stephen King says, an author should split their time evenly between reading and writing.

What did you like to read growing up, there is a lot of Fleming in your work?

Funnily enough, I did not read a lot of his novels. I loved Douglas Adams, both his Hitch Hiker books and the Dirk Gently series. I read quite a bit of fantasy: Stephen Donaldson and, of course, Tolkien. And I enjoyed Frederick Forsyth’s global thrillers.

What do you read now?

An eclectic mix. I appear on a monthly Radio Berkshire show called Radio Reads, and we review a new book that can be chosen from any genre. I attend a local book club that focuses on Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so that’s my second book of the month. I normally find time for a third book each month, and that varies a lot. I get invited to quite a few book launches so often pick-up the latest best-seller then, or I’ll try to read something from one of my fellow Urbane authors.

Can you talk about the relationship with Urbane Publications?

They are a fantastic independent publisher with big ambitions. They are very supportive, without being proscriptive about what or how you should tackle your latest project. And one thing that really helps their books stand out is the beautiful design detail (in the physical book). For example, in my latest book Rose Gold, there is a double-page spread at the start of each of the three parts, showing a black background and a moon at a different stage of its cycle. In my first novel, Blue Gold, there were faint water droplets in the background of every page.

You have one more book in the trilogy to write, can you give anything away?

It’s called White Gold, and it should be out in May 2019. Something happens to Sim in Rose Gold that becomes the main driving force of his story arc in the final book (no spoiler alerts). But I also wanted to give more time and space to his old partner, Freda Brightwell, who was a big hit with female readers from book one, so you’ll see a lot more of her. And of course, the baddies are bigger and badder than ever!

What will you write after the trilogy is complete?

I’m not entirely sure yet. I have a couple of ideas that are rattling around inside my brain, but both are completely different to the Gaia trilogy.

Any advice for would be scribes?

Keep going – it’s a long slog to complete a novel, and even once it’s finished it’s a tough road to publication. Don’t be put off by the knock-backs or stumbling points. And don’t forget to write with passion – if you try merely to emulate some book trend that’s currently successful, chances are your own voice will disappear along with the fire inside your belly.
Rose Gold is out from Urbane Publications now on all formats

Friday, 11 May 2018

Batman Ninja - DVD Review

Out on DVD from Monday 14th May, a new story featuring Gotham City's greatest hero, Batman Ninja

Incorporating the influence of Anime animation, Batman in the attempts to ward off an evil experiment, gets transported to feudal Japan where the Joker and the rest of the criminal masterminds have taken over various states of Japan as their feudal lords in the hope to make Japan one criminal world with Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face all joining the party.

Batman is not entirely on his own, he has Catwoman as his ally - the plan to bring structure and normality to Japan before getting themselves and everyone back to the modern day world.

Whilst lusciously drawn in such detail, the film is also a satirical comment on the influence of western civilisation on eastern worlds with the Joker ploughing the land for coal bringing forward the industrial revolution by a few hundred years.  Ironically though the influence goes full circle with anime becoming an avenue for new storylines and narratives for the Caped Crusader.

Featuring good voice work led by Roger Craig Smith as Bruce Wayne and Tony Hale as The Joker, the film is a stunning piece of animation full of set pieces aplenty and colourful aplomb.

This new adventure away from Gotham is ripe for fans old and new; providing a good gateway for American comic book fans to find a route to enjoy the rich tradition of Anime movies.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is pleased to make available a brand new featurette for the incredible upcoming animation, BATMAN NINJA, out now on Digital and available on Blu-ray™ Steelbook, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 14.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Rose Gold - David Barker

book cover of Rose Gold

David Barker returns with the sequel to his hit novel, Blue Gold, featuring the returning characters of Sim Atkins.

The events of the world are still changing, following on from the adventures featuring OFWAT, Sim is thrown a curve ball from the off, learning a life-changing fact and then being asked to go to the moon.

The moon is the next landscape to be mined for the minerals that could help the forever changed Earth, perhaps as an outpost for new territories. Sim undergoes an intense changing regime and within 8 days is on the moon space station.  Yet this requirement to go to the moon, is a means to change the environment of the main character who must endure in a different milieu from previously.

Barker writes with a real lightness but swiftness; he is able to render an environment and atmosphere quickly utilising character dialogue to progress character development.  This is reminiscent of the writing of Matthew Reilly - whilst Reilly worked on a wider more outlandish scale with huge set pieces and explosions; Barker utilises the environment to his advantage. By having a base on the moon, you have people out of their comfort zone from the outset creating an underlying wave of tension and conflict as the diverse multi-ethnic world population of the base have to co-exist.

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Author of Rose Gold - David Barker

However, the yarn is gripping and moves a breakneck speed, for me it did not reach the same heights as Blue Gold did. Yet, the book is certainly one of the better action-adventure novels this reviewer has read - Barker cleverly takes his influences of Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown et al to make a winning favourite in Sim Atkins - the type of guy who usually sits behind a desk but elevates and surprises himself with how well he can become something better than he thought he was. 

That everyman quality shines through Barker's brilliant depiction of Sim as with the diverse cauldron of characters that pop up throughout the book from the erstwhile Lin to the detailed Piet as well as android Henry the AI who provides the key to the running of the whole base; and Barker does not waste pages with exposition and needless character thoughts, he uses dialogue as a means to shape story and extend plot with efficiency.

Barker is quite prescient in terms of future technology he grants his characters an item called tab rolls on their wrists, a sort of Apple watch which details your journey, time, sleep patterns but linked to a main body such as Henry who can monitor and advise on your behaviour, but has sinister reaches akin to Big Brother watching you. Having just been on a trip to Walt Disney World, they gave us magic bands a sort of GPS locator come money band where you can pay for items at leisure.

Barker leaves things up in the air - in terms of Sim quite literally - in readiness for the next part of the trilogy White Gold (out May 2019), where the heroine of Blue Gold Freda who we last see escaping a prison in Russia, is now front and centre at the beginning - thanks to an exclusive extract written at the book's conclusion.

Again, this is a brilliant thrilling novel from Urbane Publications who specialise in believing in under-appreciated authors whose work deservedly gets much needed exposure; Rose Gold is a thrilling addition to the Atkins trilogy, one more to go and this reader cannot hardly wait.

I will be featuring in the #RoseGold blog tour on 18th May

Rose Gold is out from Urbane Publications on Thursday 10th May

Thursday, 3 May 2018

In praise of...Klopp's Borussia Dortmund

A full piece appears at Row Z online here

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With Jurgen Klopp on the verge of taking Liverpool to the Champions League final for the first time under his stewardship, after the 5-2 victory on Tuesday night at Anfield versus Roma, it is only fitting that we look back at the last attacking juggernaut he took to the promised land.  This piece will look back fondly at the 2012/13 Champions League season when the competition became distinctly German.

In honour of the 150th Anniversary of the Football Association, UEFA gave the honour of hosting the showpiece final at Wembley only two years after Barcelona had defeated Manchester United in 2011.  The irony was not lost on anyone that the anniversary and the birth of football in England was rewarded with an event featuring two German powerhouses at the home of football.

Whilst, Bayern Munich were entering this game with the hope of completing a treble in Jupp Heynckes last game in charge before stepping aside for the incoming Pep Guardiola, the hope of many a neutral was that Borussia Dortmund would finally garner the trophy their style of play deserved.  A mixture of bombast and beauty, Dortmund were the coming together of Klopp's beliefs - high pressing, stylish counter-attacking, breathless football.

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Having won the Bundesliga title in 2012, the need to have a deep Champions League run was required to cement the legacy of Klopp's work and deny the Munich machine the last laugh.  The season itself was oddly though one of transition and movement; many key players were making important decisions about their future.  Mario Gotze would leave for Bayern Munich at the end of the season and the heads of other luminaries, Robert Lewandowski and Matt Hummels were believed to be turning.

This should not discount what Klopp achieved though, creating a roster that was the equal of Bayern Munich's all-star team.  From the aforementioned trio you can add Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski as well as the steady Roman Weidendfeller being the last line of defence.

How best to explain Dortmund and their particular enduring appeal?  Think of it like a tennis aficionado; there are people who are either fans of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.  Whilst Federer is the archetypal doyen of balletic grace and finesse on the court, you would rely on Federer to save a match point and get the job done - you do not win twenty grand slams by being na├»ve; in contrast Nadal is the bombastic, the power, the explosion who came out of nowhere to attempt to usurp the natural order.

Munich is Federer, the machine who has grown more charming in an extended career but the envy of all before him due to the professional structure of their game; Dortmund is Nadal, the little guy who is far stronger than it appears and garners a universal acclaim of adoration and respect.

Dortmund's run in the Champions League was a welcome relief to the poor defence of their Bundesliga title, which resulted them in meekly surrendering their crown to Bayern by 25 points, only claiming second place ahead of Bayer Leverkusen by one point.

Perhaps an early decision was made by Klopp and his staff to go all in on the Champions League, and they were helped by having a good draw in the group stage; being drawn with Real Madrid - a side that always saves itself for the knockout phase; Ajax - a side living on past glories and no match for many a European superpower; and Manchester City - who were still finding their feet in European competition.

Manchester City were always an attractive side in the English Premier League, yet they could not translate that form to the European format - a problem they still have. Real Madrid scored a late equaliser in the return group game to save a point.  Dortmund were top easily, but could have won all six games.

In the first round of the knockout phase, they were drawn against Shaktar Donetsk, following a 2-2 draw in the Ukraine an easy 3-0 second leg triumph made light work of the Ukrainians prompting a quarter-final versus Malaga.

On paper, an easy tie and yet the Spanish islanders were 2-1 going into injury time only for Dortmund to score two late goals to steal victory from the jaws of defeat; goals from Marco Reus and Felipe Santana kept the unlikely dream alive for BVB.

The semi-final drew them with Real Madrid and the third and fourth games against each other; in the first leg in Dortmund all of Europe bore witness to the epitome of Klopp's attacking philosophy and one of the greatest performances in Europe's elite competiton.

In a season where he scored 10 goals in the competition, Robert Lewandowski scored four goals against a vaunted Real Madrid side led by Sergio Ramos.  The game was finely poised at 1-1 at half time with goals by the Polish striker and Cristiano Ronaldo, however the Pole scored a further three goals in the space of 16 second half minutes giving a 4-1 advantage going back to the Bernabeu.

The second leg was evidence of another part of Klopp's philosophy, his sides can defend when they need to, they are prepared to do the dirty work if need be something Barcelona and Real Madrid can be criticised for. This shows the loyalty players have towards Klopp and the belief he can instil in his troops to do what needs to be done.

Real Madrid won the second leg 2-0 but only scored the two goals after 83 minutes showing how resolute the defence was built around the superior leadership of Hummels and solidity of Weidenfeller.

And so to the final at Wembley Stadium, the first all-German final of the European Cup.  In a tense but highly entertaining and enjoyable spectacle, BVB started out the far more fluid side and yet could not convert their chances into goals with Manuel Neuer making some sharp saves.

Come the second half, Bayern grew more into the game and this growth led to a Mario Mandzukic goal on the hour, which was cancelled out shortly after when Gundogan converted a penalty following a silly foul by Javi Martinez on Reus.  As

As the game got more and more stretched with both sides searching for a winner to avoid the energy sapping extra half hour.  Bayern Munich were starting to pick off holes in the defence leading to a Thomas Muller chance being cleared off the line by Neven Subotic which also prevented a tap-in for Arjen Robben; and yet the big bad wolf blew and blew and ultimately got the winner in the 89th minute as Robben ghosted through the box evading tackles and a weak toe poke of a shot left Weidenfeller flat footed as the ball rolled agonisingly into an unguarded net.  For all the ingenuity and intelligence on display during the game, for it to be decided in such an anti-climatic manner was a shame.

It was also a shame that Jurgen Klopp and his troops came away without anything to celebrate; whilst Jupp Heynckes celebrated a treble in his last season before Guardiola came in, Klopp had to face a summer of transition as players moved on.

While they are celebrated and lauded, there are eerie similarities with the side Klopp is in charge of now.  Liverpool are having people salivate over their attacking play this season spearheaded by an amazing individual season by Mo Salah who has scored 41 goals.  It feels that Liverpool have to win the Champions League this year so historians, statisticians and fans can look back at the season and say look what we won with that firepower behind us - instead Salah's season will become a footnote in history and merely that.

And much like Klopp faced then, he faces the possibility of losing one of his best players as Salah may well be sold to PSG or Real Madrid should he back up this domestic campaign with a good showing for Egypt in the World Cup.

Klopp hopefully has learnt that for all your attacking intent, you need to defend as much as score goals, let's hope his chance at history is not thwarted again.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

New Music 2nd May 2018

Following on from last week where I got to bear witness to the excellent album launch by Night Flowers, this week has led me to some other brand new releases of videos. And rather than post them all individually, here is a round-up of the best of them.


The alter ego of Samuel Bedford, Cagework, shares a live session of debut single Simmer, in a video shot by Matt Martin.

Cagework plays solo on a near-raucous track which shows off his raw talent and relatable content.

Live shows coming across London and 23rd May at Rough Trade East


Staying in South London but with a different musical bent, a new video for Tyrell by Kirx. Taken from new EP 'Feels', the new single is a throwback to early 1990s British RnB or nu-soul, an intelligent soulful record.  The video is a mature one also taking the record's content seriously.

KEVIN KRAUTER 'Keep Falling In Love'

Crossing the Atlantic, the new single from Krauter shows of his evocative ambient soundscape which comes from a huge range of influences.  His debut album Toss Up is out from Bayonet Records on 13th July.

Thank you for reading, please share with other music lovers out there.

Trailer Talk: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

Out from Warner Bros. UK the new trailer for TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES coming to UK cinemas from August 3rd.

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When the Teen Titans go to the big screen, they go big!  “Teen Titans GO! to the Movies” finds our egocentric, wildly satirical Super Heroes in their first feature film extravaganza—a fresh, gleefully clever, kid-appropriately crass and tongue-in-cheek play on the superhero genre, complete with musical numbers.
Full of knowing tongue in cheek references that the adults will get whilst the kids are transfixed by the colour and action, with voice talent including Will Arnett (Lego Batman), this is a self-referential funny film for all the family this summer.

The film is being directed by Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail, from a screenplay by Michael Jelenic and Horvath, based on characters from DC.  Michail, Will Arnett and Peggy Regan are producing, with Sam Register, Jelenic, and Horvath serving as executive producers.  Apart from Arnett, all are “Teen Titans GO!” series contributors.

My thanks to ThinkJam for the trailer preview

Batman Ninja

Released from Warner Bros. Entertainment on Digital now, available on Blu-Ray Steelbook, Blu-ray and DVD on May 14

The visually stunning Batman Ninja is the creative result of a trio of anime's finest - director Jumpei Mizuasaki, writer Kazuki Nakashima and character designer Takashi Okazaki - who produced the original film in Japan. The script was then reinterpreted and re-written for English language distribution.

The film transports Batman's worst enemies to feudal Japan along with the Dark Knight himself. The villains take over the forms of feudal lords that rule divided land, with the Joker taking the lead; along with Bane and Poison Ivy. Batman with his allies - including Catwoman - must restore order to the land and return to Gotham City.

Below is a featurette about the history of anime and enthusing the DC universe into the animation featuring the screenwriter Leo Chu.

Voice talent in the film include Roger Craig Smith (Batman: Arkham Origins) and Tony Hale (Veep) voice Batman and the Joker respectively.  Other support comes from Grey Griffin and Tara Strong.

The trailer and featurette promises a feast for the senses and a thrill ride as Batman Ninja gives the best of both worlds in a new synergy of entertainment.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is pleased to make available a brand new featurette for the incredible upcoming animation, BATMAN NINJA, out now on Digital and available on Blu-ray™ Steelbook, Blu-ray™ and DVD May 14.

My thanks to ThinkJam for the link.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Okkervil River 'In The Rainbow Rain'

Okkervil River releases new album In the Rainbow Rain on ATO Records.

The American musician, Will Sheff, under the guise of Okkervil River returns with his new studio album. Produced by Sheff himself, the new album is a step up in songwriting form, as too long under the radar, Sheff is making a break for the mainstream by producing an album that is relatable and singles that are radio-friendly and have that unique ear-worm quality.

Coupled with luscious productions, there are swooning synths and bombastic guitar licks, married with some great vocal work by Sheff himself and on backing vocals, most notably on the epic 'The Dream and the Light'.  

Driving melodic anthems appear in 'Love Somebody' and 'Pulled by the Ribbon' along with lead single 'Don't Move Back to LA'; there is an emotional vulnerability running through the music. A need to understand where Sheff was when he started writing the album was late 2016 after Donald Trump was elected. 

With touring ending, the band reconvened to Brooklyn and for the first time Sheff wrote with the band, and the wave of collaboration is running through the album, no less on 'Family Song', and the songs sing as this sense of unity and togetherness comes out of the speakers.

Whilst there are moments of anger and disconnect within the album, these are off-set by the uplifting moments of euphoric joy which makes it a pleasing record to listen to and one you go back to for several listens. 

Mixed by Shawn Everett - who has worked with The War on Drugs - it also has that hook-worthy notion reminiscent of Elbow and Ed Harcourt's work.

Will Sheff - Okkervil River's under-rated songwriter

An album that is indicative of the changing socio-political climate in America; one that is looking towards the horizon rather than worrying about the here and now. The idealist virtue prevalent in American culture is strong in this brilliant new album.  For this reviewer, it may well be one of the best albums of 2018.

You get the feeling that this would be a great album to hear live. Okkervil River tour Britain in early October stopping off at Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton and culminating with a headline show at Koko, Camden on October 10th.

In The Rainbow Rain is out from ATO Records on 27th April.

My thanks to One Beat PR for the review opportunity.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Amber Arcades 'Simple Song'

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Today, Amber Arcades (Annelotte De Graaf) released details of her second studio album, European Heartbreak, set for release on 28th September 2018 via Heavenly Recordings.

In conjunction, with today's thrilling news, Amber Arcades also shares new single, 'Simple Song' with accompanying video. This video is part two of a trilogy of videos where all three intertwine, the first being Goodnight Europe

The new album was recorded and produced with Chris Cohen in LA and Richmond, Virginia with Trey Pollard.  A step forward from the critically acclaimed Fading Lines, the album is European thematically and in the sophistication of the music constructed.

This is ushered in by the video which show the love affair we have with balmy European holidays, the romanticism of love overseas and the sunny disposition of being away.  The memory of such events are felt in the music about new love, love lost and the way memory plays tricks on you.  In that way it promises to be both truthful and disarmingly powerful.

Amber Arcades is playing some intimate shows in UK and Europe before summer festivals, landing in London at Omeara on June 7th.

Follow Amber Arcades on Twitter @AmberArcades

Spurs-y: When is a Choke not a Choke

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You have a lot of ups and downs being a Tottenham Hotspur fan, more downs than ups in my lifetime. Things could be worse, I've never seen my team get relegated but they have only won three trophies in my lifetime since I started going - 1991, 1999 and 2008. I don't count the cup trophies of 1982 and 1984 as I was busy rolling around myself.

Yet the most recent Spurs defeat in an FA Cup semi-final to Manchester United (21-4-18) was not your typical Spurs-y performance; it was not the sort of game where they went all Spurs-y and threw it away.  The only circumstance was they threw away a position of superiority and did not see it out, but this was against a team who wanted to win the game versus a side who wanted to play football.

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This has been the criticism of Tottenham in recent years, they like to play football and yet cannot do the things you need to do to win vital football matches. For all the stats of possession and territory translating to shots on target, there remains a lack of composure in the final third.

In the season when Leicester City won the league, they came to White Hart Lane and won 1-0 due a set-piece goal after Tottenham had dominated. Leicester soaked up pressure, got one chance and converted it. At that moment, the game did not seem important until it was important.

Tottenham again find themselves in moments of superiority and yet cannot convert into dominance or victory, before they took the lead on Saturday they were in the ascendancy and yet did not force De Gea into many saves with off-target attempts.  They finished the first half on the front foot including an Eric Dier effort hitting the bottom of a post.

In the second half, more pressure was undone by Manchester United converting their first chance of the half and then it was down to Tottenham to breakdown a stoic resistance of a familiar Mourinho side.

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And yet the team struggled to find an fluidity or cohesion, trying to pass through a resolute back-line without little success failing to utilise the width and delivery of Kieran Trippier.  Whilst Pochettino may be at fault for not starting Toby Alderwield on Saturday, there were not many options on the bench to change the game - Erik Lamela has had an indifferent run of form, Lucas Moura is good on the ball but not electric in the box and there was no out and out striker to score a goal.

The reliance on Harry Kane reared its head again and he was unusually absent throughout the game, Christian Eriksen was hounded in possession and Moussa Dembele was outmuscled and below par.

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Oddly, the goal came from a long ball from Davison Sanchez which found Eriksen in acres of pitch to pass to Alli unmarked in the box to convert the first goal.  Reminiscent of Alli's goal versus Chelsea which also came from a long ball; the pragmatism to remain loyal to the passing and movement led to our downfall as we were over-run in midfield by Pogba, Matic and Herrera.

Pochettino can do only so much to prepare his troops for these big games, but until they win a big one, those questions will circulate constantly from naysayers and critics.  Another season without a trophy leaves a bitter pill, but a close season with more additions may make it easier to swallow. I have been lucky enough to see Tottenham captains lift trophies three times at Wembley. It has been 10 years since the last, how long must we wait for the next?