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Apparently country is music is dead. Well nobody told Lindi Ortega that and she is single headedly making country music cool again.

Having toured as a backing singer with Kevin Costner and more recently Brandon Flowers, Ortega is known as Toronto’s best kept secret.
After ten years, she was picked up by Last Gang records and is now releasing her debut album Little Red Boots this month.

Little Red Boots is a gem packed full of songs about love, loss and despair.

Ortega’s voice is delightfully reminiscent of some of country music’s finest from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash. She has the ability to transport you to Nashville’s Broadway, clicking your cowboy boots as you walk.

Highlight of the album has to be Dying of a Broken Heart which is so haunting it’s very hard to forget. It’s almost as if Ortega is tearing her heart out at every word. Singing “I don’t believe in fairytales, I don’t believe in fate.” We see Ortega’s bitterness and disillusion with love and happy endings.

There is a less serious side to the album with the cheerful Little Red Boots and I’m No Elvis Presley which instantly makes you want to walk the streets of Nashville’s Broadway and start dancing in your cowboy boots.

What’s clear about Little Red Boots is that Ortega is a natural story teller, from the cheerful to the gritty. She manages to shine through the darkness and makes the album a successful book of stories.

So is country music dead? With Lindi Ortega around that certainly is not the case. Keep an aye out as she heads for our shores reviving country music for all of us.

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Oh my. This is amazing.

When Q magazine announced that they would be releasing a covers album of U2’s infamous album Achtung Baby I was rather excited. Even more so when I heard The Killers, Snow Patrol and Jack White would each be having a go at a cover.

Jack White managed to do the usual and give the song the JW twist and the result is this :

Nothing else needs to be said really….

The magazine is out at the end of this month and features an in depth interview with U2. Tracklisting for the album is:

1. Nine Inch Nails, “Zoo Station”
2. U2, “Even Better Than The Real Thing (Jacques Lu Cont Mix)”
3. Damien Rice, “One”
4. Patti Smith, “Until The End Of The World”
5. Garbage, “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses”
6. Depeche Mode, “So Cruel”
7. Snow Patrol, “Mysterious Ways”
8. The Fray, “Trying To Throw Your Arms Around The World”
9. Gavin Friday, “The Fly”
10. The Killers, “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)”
11. Glasvegas, “Acrobat”
12. Jack White, “Love Is Blindness”

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So let’s face it, Bono isn’t everyone’s cup of tea while for others he is literally a musical god. Earlier this year there was a protest at Glastonbury about Bono avoiding not paying taxes by having offshore bank accounts. It’s not good press either and this ad probably isn’t going to make them feel any warmer to the poor guy.

But hey – both Bono and his wife are wearing their own range of ethical clothing in which Louis Vitton has a 49% stake in. All profits will go to a charity that promotes sustainable farming in Africa.

I’ll let you decide.

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We’re driving, as fast as we can, through Louisiana, Alabama and eventually Florida. We’ve got three days, racing against the clock, trying to get to our target position as soon as possible.

There’s little time to sleep or eat. On average we’re getting about four hours a night before setting off again and racing past landmarks we had planned to see. There’s a sense of guilt that we’re racing across half of the southern of the USA, stopping only in Alabama for petrol, rather reminiscent of that epic Top Gear episode but without the hillbillies chasing us. This is important, something we would regret if we don’t do it. Our last chance.

Over eight hundred miles later and we arrive on the coast of Florida in Titusville, we skip Cocoa Beach just in case we can’t get onto the pier (apparently the best spot to see it), amongst the million people who are trying to do exactly the same thing, searching for a spot on the beach, by the side of the road or rather bravely on the edge of a bridge, about to become a piece of history.

It’s only seven in the morning, some people have been here since the day before and we look totally unprepared as people roll up in campervans or grab their fold out chairs and begin to cook bacon sandwiches on portable stoves. The pair of us only have jumpers to sit on and some gone off Pringles.

For most of the people here, space shuttle launches have been a main part of their life, the staff in Wallgreens across the road have a certain sombreness to them but keep a cheerful face as they serve people buying STS 135 t-shirts by the dozen and an insane amount of ice cold coffee.

Others like myself have always intended to come and witness one of the most amazing pieces of scientific history. Today is our last chance and there are strong levels of anticipation amongst us, everyone is whooping and cheering, listening to NASA radio. Claps are heard as they give the final go ahead for launch.

The atmosphere is electric and everyone is so lovely to each other sharing food and spare camping chairs, swapping thoughts and stories about the last mission. The southern hospitality obviously spreads all the way down past the concrete city of Orlando, all the way to the space coast.

Those last five minutes seem to last forever, the past three days have been so stressful that as the crowd start to count down 10…..9…. I can’t help feel relieved and of course extremely emotional…..6….5…..4….3…..2….1… Suddenly, the bursting yellow flames of the burners appear in the distance and the giant mega tonne shuttle lifts off. People are fist pumping, whooping and cheering as the rocket speeds into the sky. It’s hard to remember that there are four people inside, their bodies being pushed to the limit as they speed off high up in the air towards the international space station 50 miles above the air.

The solid rocket boosters fall of as supposed to and the amazing rocket goes up into the clouds. Everyone is chanting USA, USA as we finally get the delayed sound of the super shuttle at full speed above us. I was awestruck, a tear running down my cheek. This country just sent a giant plane with fuel attached to it up into the atmosphere, the crowd are patriotic and everyone has come to say a final goodbye to the space shuttle programme. If there is a time for the country to be able to chant USA USA!!, then today is the day.

People shake hands, swap email addresses, finish taking the final pictures, eventually stop whooping and cheering, but no one can really stop talking about what they have just seen. We have all been part of history today with record numbers of people being witness to the final mission.

When we eventually got back to the car, we journeyed to Orlando to decide what to do now. Everything we seemed to do that day seemed entirely insignificant from watching brits waddle around outlet stores and spotting theme parks to see which one we wanted to go to. After much debating about what to do and where to go, we headed out of Orlando. We’d got what we came here for anyway, something that will stay with us forever.

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We’ve all seen it. Pictures of London being ripped apart by gangs of so called rioters are being beamed all across the world. It even made the front page of The New York Times yesterday. With the Olympics less than a year away, this is highly embarrassing.

Although many people don’t really care about what the world think. For people in London, this is too close to home to even think about international reactions. People’s homes and livelihoods have been lost and many things are irreplaceable.

Last night, a video was shown of a woman in hackney standing up to the youths. She was amazing. Not only because she was standing up to them but because she was the only person yesterday who seemed to really hit the nail on the head.

What are all of these people fighting and causing destruction for? A young man has died, a father of children, a family man. Would he really have wanted his life to end with all of this? People took advantage of people’s upset and turned it into reasonless fighting, hurting even more people.

As the woman in the video says, they don’t have a reason. Maybe people would be able to understand it more. People in Egypt have been fighting for democracy and what are we doing in the UK? Rioting so someone can get some nice new air maxes and then be able to make some money from the Tesco value basmati rice that they also stole?

It’s pathetic. In the current economic crisis that we’re in, people are struggling enough without their businesses being targeted. It’s saddening when you hear tales of businesses that have gone through 5 generations of the family, destroyed by mindless, violence hungry people within minutes. Some people might have saved for years so that they can start their own business and then suddenly it’s gone. Then what about the people who live above the shops? Children’s toys gone, family photos that will never be replaced.

There were also reports of masked people going into a Michelin star restaurant in Notting Hill and making shocked and distressed diners give them their jewellery. It is shocking that a country like the UK is behaving like this. This is something you would expect from a third world country. It is dreadful.

I feel sorry for the emergency services who have to deal with this unnecessary trouble, fixing things that shouldn’t need to be fixed. They are ordinary people trying to do a job that isn’t being made easy by this. They should be helping people who really need help. The police horses that have to deal with rioters throwing stuff at them, and the dogs that have to keep working even as fires blare in the background.

As people are still panicking in London and the violence spreads to Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol, the question still remains, where was our prime minister when we needed him? Why didn’t nick Clegg step up to his deputy role? Rumours are beginning to suggest that the government were warned about dissatisfaction amongst certain communities so why was nothing addressed before it got so serious?

If there is one good thing out of this, it’s the fact that people used twitter to rally together and clean the streets. Not only that but they clapped the police as they drove past. It suddenly reminds you that the people doing the damage to London are a minority while the rest of us are incredibly devastated that this beautiful city is being damaged and victimised.

Tonight, 16000 police officers have been drafted in to help keep London to some kind of normality. I question whether this will truly work, but all I know is that this needs to stop. Innocent people are being harmed and the emergency services are being stretched all for vandalism and damage without a cause.

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The Teenage Cancer Trust put on shows every year to raise money and awareness for the charity. This year Editors finished off the residency at one of the beautiful venues in the world. Fact.

To be honest, I’m not even going to tell you what you should think. Just listen. Wow.

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MGMT announced a show in Hong Kong as part of their Asia tour so I paid the extortionate $580 and went and saw them play.

There’s this problem I have with MGMT. Having been ‘lucky’ to have seen them around four times I can easily say that they are lacking somewhat live. However this time I was willing to give them one more chance. It was a gig in Hong Kong after all.

They were supported by the French Horn Rebellion who did their best to warm up the crowd with their synth beats and interesting mix of a yes – you’ve got it – a French Horn. The crowd seemed to like them especially down the front where everyone was jumping up and down when asked. Although at the back, the crowd were hardly moving at all. French horn rebellion did have some familiar tunes – they must have been on the H&M playlist in London for sure.

It was getting late and the roadies were setting up the stage equipment for MGMT. Finally people at the back were beginning to get excited. The one worrying sign about this audience was that the majority of them were western business men in suits who had obviously just left work. The problem is with ticket prices here is that the young folk just can’t afford it which means the atmosphere completely changes. And it did.

As soon as MGMT started, the rich hipster kids at the front were in full bopping mode while everyone else in the middle and the back just stood there, motionless as MGMT tried their best to get the crowd going. This was going to be a tough gig. The band started surprisingly with a majority of songs from their more recent album Congratulations before going straight into electric feel. The crowd suddenly started to warm up.

As always, the band limited talking to one sentence every five songs. They’re not the most sociable band i’ve ever seen live. It almost felt as if you were watching them jamming in their bedrooms, completely oblivious to the fact that 3000 people were watching them play.

They of course finished their set with Kids which got the best reception of the night before coming back for an encore full of Congratulations songs. By this point a lot of men in suits had disappeared. After all of the Oracular Spectacular hits had been played there was no need for them to stick around.

MGMT thanked the crowd for letting them “finally play in Hong Kong” before finishing with fan favourite Brian Eno. They gave a wave as they left the stage and that was it, they were now on their way to Indonesia to play to some more fans. Let’s hope the next crowd won’t be full of suits.

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