Dum Dum Girls Interview And Only In Dreams Review.

Dum Dum Girls - Review and Interview Only In Dreams-The Von Pip Musical Express

Bedroom Eyes” By Dum Dum Girls.

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For somebody brought up in a house filled with the music of Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Phil Spector, the Brill Building sound, The Ronettes and The Supremes, and who then went on to discover Blondie, The Ramones, Lush, The Jesus And Mary Chain and The Raveonettes,  Dum Dum Girls are a veritable gift from the musical gods!

Their debut album “I Will Be was a raw, adrenaline fuelled white knuckle ride through heartbreak and B-movie cool combining Ronettes style harmonies with  discordant Mary Chain guitars and garage punk.  But whereas ‘I Will Be’ was essentially the one woman  project of songwriter and front lady Dee Dee Penny (real name Kristen Gundred) ‘Only In Dreams’ sees Dum Dum Girls flourish into a formidable, fully formed, holistic musical entity.  At the risk of being accused of indulging in hyperbole it’s my opinion that in any right thinking society this album should be regarded as a genuine slice of  pop genius and as such ought to be mentioned in the same breath as canonised classics such as ‘Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes,’  Blondie’sParallel Lines’ or The Ramones ‘Leave Home.’ With Richard Gottehrer and Raveonette, Sune Rose Wagner on production duties, the album demonstrates just what an amazingly gifted songwriter Dee Dee is. This is not empty vacuous, throw away pop, for the twist is that beneath the often blissful melodies you’ll discover dark lyrics full of poetic candour imbued with genuine emotional depth and intelligence that is both profoundly beautiful and extremely moving.

Dee Dee also comes into her own as a singer of some substance. This time around her vocals are not buried deep under a tsunami of reverb as she sings every note with a seemingly new found confidence and passion that is often reminiscent of a modern day Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde.  Lyrically deep and melodically uplifting ‘Only In Dreams’ is a triumph for Dee Dee and her Dum Dum Girls and builds on the huge potential demonstrated on ‘I Will Be’.  Essentially the album revisits the theme of separation from loved ones on a number of occasions, whether by circumstance, geography, or ultimately, death.  It is an album that bears the stain of genuine sadness and packs a huge emotional punch, written as it was at a time when Dee Dee’s mother was terminally ill with cancer.  Yet whilst the elegiac lyrics address these difficult issues with a graceful and touching eloquence, the melodies are joyous and life affirming. In essence this is music for life and for living, about dying and death.

There’s not a single track on ‘Only In Dreams’ that comes close to being labelled ‘filler fodder.’ From the sublime foot on accelerator adrenaline rush of opener ‘Always Looking’, the prefect melody of “Bedroom Eyes” the poetic rattling girl group fuzz pop genius of “Wasted Away”  right through to the heartbreakingly gorgeous incredibly poignant album closer “Hold Your Hand,” each and every song is beautifully crafted, sincerly delivered and lovingly polished.  And for an album that is lyrically centred on the brevity of life, loneliness, loss and separation it never wallows in self pity. Of course if you aren’t the sort to take meaning from music then I guess it can also be enjoyed as a straight up, cool as fuck, rollicking rock n’ roll pop monster too!

Although the album is a different musical beast to Sarabeth Tucek’s wonderful album ‘Get Well Soon’ (which also dealt with the death of  a parent) ‘Only In Dreams’ also manages to transform the  pain of loss into something life affirmingly beautiful that resonates with honesty, tenderness, heartbreak, frustration and love. It also showcases that Dum Dum Girls are a force to be reckoned with and that Dee Dee is a songwriter of honesty, integrity and depth.  Quite simply a flawless album shot through with 24 carat pop gold. Buy it. Cherish it. Love it.

 Rating a perfect- 10/10

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We had a chat to Dee Dee about the emotions involved in writing the album, taking Dad on tour and the logistical planning that goes into balancing a rock n’roll lifestyle with domestic bliss.

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VP: Firstly, Congratulations on the new album! It really did blow me away, definitely one of the best albums of this year, or indeed any year.

DEE DEE :  Why thank you very much!

VP:  Was it a difficult album to write, in terms of your personal life, what was going on with your Mum. Was it a cathartic kind of process?

DEE DEE : Yeah definitely, really it was the only therapeutic outlet I had. I really don’t think I could have written about anything else, it was either that or nothing; I just had to kind of run with it. It’s a weird thing really, but I didn’t feel I had much of a choice.

VP: In terms of the overall sound on the album, the ‘He Gets Me High’ Ep earlier in the year is an obvious sonic stepping stone between ‘I Will Be’ and ‘Only In Dreams.’.  The album is also the first time you’ve recorded as a full band; did you find it difficult to relinquish control after doing almost everything yourself on the first album?

DEE DEE:  Not really, I mean the EP was a necessary step forward and I want every release to reflect some kind of progress, I really felt it was the most appropriate time to do a full band record. Also because I feel so comfortable working with Richard (Gottehrer) and our engineer Alonso it was more of a relief to concentrate on the things I do best. For example I’m terrible at recording [laughs] and I don’t know a thing about mixing even though I find them really interesting and tried to do them on my first 7”’s and first record. But I’d much rather leave it to people for whom it’s their deal, so I get to do what I do. I think I also felt because we had been touring to such extremes and that we had become such a tight group that it was a natural step to take.

I guess the last thing I was holding on to, not in any sort of protective way or worrying it would go wrong, was the singing as I used to do everything. One of the first things we did when recording the album was record backup vocals on a song called ‘In My Head’ and the minute after Jules sang her bit and I heard it unmastered and unmixed I was like “Oh Wow! I obviously should have let this go earlier.” It added another dimension and different tones to the overall sound and if anything that’s who we are live and I wanted to capture that on the record.

VP:  I’ve seen you live a couple of times now and each time there’s been a huge leap forward. Actually at the Deaf Institute in Manchester I was chatting to your Dad who you took on tour and promised a Dum Dum Girls leather jacket.  He seemed to be having a great time; did he enjoy the whole tour?

DEE DEE : [Laughing] Yeah ! He totally loved it. It’s such a bizarre lifestyle and to hear about it is one thing but to see it first hand, especially for an older fellow is another. But truthfully he was probably in better shape than we were [laughs]. It was only maybe the last week when we had a couple of really long drives that he started getting like “Oh my God, this is awful,” but in general he really took advantage of the whole experience.  It was fun and didn’t impede us in any way you might expect.  And yes he got a leather jacket!

VP : On the first album you  said Richard Gottehrer added some ‘gentle finessing’ to the overall sound, he produced the new album, alongside Sune Rose Wagner from the Ravonettes. How did Sune become involved?

DEE DEE : Well Sune did the earlier EP this year, kind of like testing the waters and we are both managed by Richard and Scott Cohen so we had met socially first.  I’d also been a massive fan of Sunes for years. I remember when I was in school in Germany around 2002 and The Raveonettes first EP was out and I just fell in love with it!  I hadn’t heard anybody do that sort of thing in quite a while and it was right up my alley, a nostalgic homage to beat America and I absolutely loved it !  So with the album I had a pretty defined idea of what I wanted in my head and Richard’s pretty much the same, but maybe in a more poppier way? So I thought it was important to have Sune on the other side, I like to refer to him as my expert in noise!  He knows how to keep things dirty and dark, kinda evil and tough y’know ?  I thought if I could toe the line somewhere in the middle we’d come up with an album that was beautiful in some parts and nasty in others, I felt like that kind of would be the perfect form.

VP :  So since you started out has the way you approach song writing changed ? Do you sit down at a predetermined time or does intense touring mean you kind of write ‘on the go’ ?

DEE DEE : It’s not really changed that much, I mean maybe I’ll be out walking and I’ll get an idea for a chorus, you know, a phrase that sounds like it has potential. It may be something I’ve been thinking about for a while, unless it’s totally random like maybe a painting I’ve seen or been inspired by a book I’ve been reading.  If it’s not something I’m able to work on at the time due to touring or other things I’ll make a note or a recording on my phone and then when I have more time I’ll take these snippets and flesh them out.

 

VP : On ‘Only In Dreams’ , knowing the background to writing it, the listener can understand where you’re coming from on certain songs, but one song, which is great but stood out for me as being a little different was ‘Just A Creep’ . What’s that song all about, or cant you say? 😉

DEE DEE :  [Laughing] Aha!  The wild card on the album! Yes, really it’s an example of coming up with a phrase which may have potential . . . and I’ve certainly known some creeps!  I remember coming up with the song really clearly. At the time I was visiting my Dad one weekend and listening to my ‘Girls In The Garage’ compilations and a lot of Nancy Sinatra. I was on a kind of kitschy pop vibe and I wrote the bass line for ‘Creep.’ If anything, at that point in my life I was a little bit touchy maybe? I definitely wasn’t quite myself, [laughs] so I found myself over reacting to things, without really acting out on them. I think something relatively minor had happened and I felt irritated toward a person and that was kind of in my mind when I wrote the song, I suppose after the fact it was a kind of an absurd reaction. I guess you have to have a thick skin to do what we do and I don’t really have thick enough skin.  If anything the song kind of acts as a reminder to me to disregard a lot of the hatred out there [laughs.] It has no substance and is not worth worrying about!

VP:  You’ve also mentioned that you initially suffered from stage fright when you started out, has that gotten any easier?

DEE DEE : Yeah it’s totally manageable, in fact with this band I don’t even realise I have it.  I’ve played solo shows recently which are much more terrifying!  I mean I’m nervous before a show, but it’s more like nervous energy rather than anything debilitating.  This is something I’ve always wanted to do but never thought I could as I was always so shy and self conscious. It literally took doing it just once and knowing what it felt like – y’know, the reward of being able to perform, even though at the time I was in a terrible Jefferson Airplane rip-off band [laughs]. I had to get really drunk to do it, but once I’d seen the other side, and experienced the potential for putting on a good show, well that kind of dwarfed anything else. And playing in this band now we feed off and support each other.

VP:  Without prying, is it difficult balancing your band life and personal life with both you and your husband [Dee Dee is married to Crocodiles singer Brandon Welchez] touring your bands all over the world?

DEE DEE :  Well it does take a lot of work, we are both aware of the fact that it’s not quite as simple as saying “ we should spend more time together.” In reality it means forcing our managers to have lunch [laughs] and figuring out when our records are coming out , when we’ll tour etc. It can take a lot of co-ordination, but it is do-able. This year he’s been in Berlin recording, I’ve been over here [in the UK] but we are touring together in October and he’s joining us in November. Then December will be our first real time together in our apartment in New York!  The year is finishing better than it started!

We have friends who don’t do what we do they have wives /husbands/ boyfriends/ girlfriends and arrive home from work together. They aren’t really privy to what goes on when you’re in a band, I mean it’s not actually as glamorous as you might imagine. There is a lot of time spent bored and uncomfortable in a van ! [ laughs]

VP : Well Dee Dee, lovely to talk to you,  I’m sure the album will do amazingly well and look forward to seeing you again soon on tour!

DEE DEE :  You too, we’ll see you in Manchester soon !

Links.

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Order the album here

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Dum Dum Girls Live in Manchester.

Dum Dum Girls @ The Deaf Institute Manchester

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Alas not a review as such, due to the unremitting crapness of public transport in the UK.  Basically the last direct train back to Merseyside from Manchester  is at  10.15.  Actually there is another one at 11.30 but when that arrives back in Liverpool at 12.40 all connecting trains are no longer running- meaning a taxi  which normally costs an arm, a leg and possibly a kidney-and that’s if the taxi driver can be arsed going through the Mersey Tunnel.  So much for the 24 hour society.  We missed Dum Dum Girls  last year so we were looking forward to this gig, but alas the girls didn’t get on stage until 9.45 meaning  sadly, we only managed to catch 3 songs. This was all rather disappointing as it looked like it was shaping up to be a great gig.  We did however grab a video and some photos.

We  met Dee Dee’s dad who they’ve taken on tour and who is THE man!  He’s still waiting for that leather tour jacket they promised him to help him ‘fit in’ though. 🙂 – Let’s hope he’s keeps a tour diary!

Dee Dee's Dad.

Dum Dum Girls Live Deaf Institute Manchester

‘Wrong Feels Right’ Dum Dum Girls.

Dum Dum Girls Live

Dum Dum Dee Dee Diddle do


Dum Dum Girls

Mazes supported….

Mazes


Songs To Learn and Sing – Dum Dum Girls – He Gets Me High.

Dum Dum Girls

‘He Get’s Me High’ By Dum Dum Girls.

Dum Dum Girls follow up their debut I Will Be,’ which was also incidentally one of our very favourite albums of last year, with a new EP –‘He Gets Me High’. It continues in the gritty garage pop vein of their debut, which owed much to chief Dum Dum Girl Dee-Dee’s love of Patti Smith, Motown, The Mamas And The Papas and the Jesus and Mary Chain, but this time the production is a little more polished,  with Dee-Dee’s vocals  higher in the mix. Richard Gottehrer and Dee Dee share production duties  with  The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and the results are spectacular, capturing the essence of the debut album whilst moving the band’s sound forward into new sonic territory without skipping a beat. The three original songs , ‘He Gets Me High,’ Take Care Of My Baby’ and ‘Wrong Feels Right’ all demonstrate once again what a fantastic songwriter Dee Dee  is, and as a bonus there’s also a sublimely  scuzzy cover of The Smiths ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ which whilst respecting the original, stamps the Dum Dum Girls sound all over it.

‘Wrong Feels Right’ by Dum Dum Girls

Dum Dum Girls He Gets Me High EP

The “He Gets Me High EP” is available via Sub Pop

And the band play a string of UK dates

UK DATES:
31-Mar UK Manchester Deaf Institute
01-Apr IRE Dublin Whelans
02-Apr UK Belfast Black Box
03-Apr UK Glasgow Stereo
04-Apr UK Leeds Brudenell Social
05-Apr UK London Dingwalls
06-Apr UK Brighton Komedia

The VPME AWARDS 2010.

 

The Von Pip Musical Express Awards 2010

As 2010 draws to an end it is required of all blogs to list their favourite albums, it is in fact, the law.  And so, croaking from my sick bed I attempt to reflect upon the music that inspired and moved us this year . In one way trying to rank your favourite albums numerically is a little silly. On any given day any of the top 10 these albums could have been classed as our ‘ album of the year’, but for  the purpose of  much revered  VPME Awards, we have put logic to one side and attempted  to list our favourites in some sort of order.  As ever we award the victors a rather magnificent statuette, made from purest pixels.

ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

NO.1

“WYWH”- The Concretes.

VPME - Album Of The Year- The Concretes WYWH

“My Ways” – The Concretes

‘WYWH’ emphatically proves that anybody who has previously written the band off following the departure of former vocalist Victoria Bergsman will soon be choking on large slices of humble pie because ‘WYWH’ is without doubt, a triumphant return.  The Concretes have reinvented themselves and in doing so produced an album that sparkles with a fragile beauty and a sense of yearning which is perfectly communicated by former drummer and lyricist Lisa Milberg’s airy, delicate ethereal vocals.” Also, the NME wasn’t too keen on it  which, by definition,  means it must be good!

Interview here

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No. 2

I Will Be – Dum Dum Girls.

Albums Of The Year the VPME - Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be

‘I Will Be’ – Dum Dum Girls.

Dum Dum Girl’s début album for the legendary Sub-Pop label, “I Will Be” is a raw, adrenaline fuelled white knuckle ride through heartbreak and B-movie cool which employs Ronettes style vocal harmonies allied to discordant Mary Chain guitars and old school garage punk.”

Interview Here

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No3.

Songs For Swinging Lovers” By The Indelicates.

The VPME Albums Of The Year - The Indelicates - Songs For Swinging Lovers

Songs For Swinging Lovers” is a musical and poetic tour de force that tackles subjects with the sort of brutal honesty that would give most traditional record labels coronaries.  Make no mistake this is a magnificent album that enthrals, shocks and delights in equal measure, full of dark poetic lyricism whilst demonstrating an unerring ability to cut through the bullshit and dismantle accepted societal truisms.”

Review here

Listen to and download album here .

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4. Plastic Beach‘- Gorillaz.

I always found Blur a tad overrated, and conversely often found Gorillaz a mite underrated. Often dismissed by many as a clever clogs, art school ego trip, ‘Plastic Beach’ is Albarn’s opus and proves finally that he really is a clever clogs, art school, ego-tripping genius. Like him or loathe him, the musical world would be a lesser place without him.

5. ‘The Hundred In The Hand- The Hundred In The Hand.

This really is a marvellous début from the seemingly endless stream of bands that appear to be pouring out of  Brooklyn at present. Dark electro pop that manages to be seductive yet stand offish, and is as you’d expect from a hip  Brooklyn duo, achingly cool without really trying..  A bit like me.

6. Grinderman 2- Grinderman.

7. Stridillium II- Zola Jesus.

8. Crazy For You – Best Coast.

9. Slide Over – The Kiara Elles.

Release a great début and split up in the same year, that’s proper rock n’roll innit. In an industry that is unwilling to take risks and one which will generally always go for the safe bet, maybe the Kiara Elles fate was inevitable.  Mike  Sizemore’s tweet referencing  The X Factor loving public, possibly summed up the current state of play best  “I wish all the real musical talent that we’ve lost over the years could rise from the dead and tear you all limb from limb for watching shit.” Or as the band said ” Unfortunately the record industry machine prefers to plug away at Scouting for Girls and other shit we hate to have time for us so there you go”

‘Laser Shot’– The Kiara Elles

10. ‘I Speak Because I Can’ -Laura Marling.

Still only twenty, Ms Marling sings as if she’d experienced a thousand lifetimes in an album that covers heartache, betrayal, death and redemption.  All the good shit.

11. Sex With An X – The Vaselines.

12.The Fool – Warpaint

13.  The Family Jewels- Marina And The Diamonds.

Possibly not achieving the longevity I’d anticipated upon first hearing the album, it’s still an excellent ‘pop’ album.   Maybe in retrospect if I was being honest, I’d have preferred an edgier approach in terms of the production, as it can seem a little too polished at times but hey ho .  The real winners on this album  are the slower numbers such such as Obsessions, Numb, Rootless, and of course Iam Not A Robot  as these contains the seeds of potential greatness.

14. Boo- Dag For Dag

“Hands & Knees” By Dag For Dag

15. “In The Wooded Forest’ – Savoir Adore

16. “Sugar For My Soul” -Sweet Jane

17. “Total Life Forever” – Foals

18. Treats – Sleigh Bells

19.  “Release Me” – The Like

20. ‘Postcards From A Young Man’ – The Manic Street Preachers

Despite appearing on “Strictly Come Dancing” (“We destroy light entertainment” ) and despite the overblown duet with Ian McCulloch, which in theory I should of loved ,there’s still enough in this album to merit a place in my cynical jaded old heart. So there. ‘Don’t Be Evil‘ is possibly my favourite, and lets face it the lads are getting on, you can’t be a ‘Generation Terrorist’ for ever.

21. The Noyelle Beat – Standard Fare

22. “Disconnect From Desire” – School Of Seven Bells.

“Windstorm” By School Of Seven Bells

23.  Frankie Rose & The Outs -Frankie Rose & The Outs

“Girlfriend Island” ByFrankie Rose & The Outs.

24. “The Ballad Of  The Big Machine”- Emiile Simon.

“Devil At My Door” – Emiile Simon.

25. In Debt’- Johnny Cola & The A Grades

“The Party’s Over”– Johnny Cola & The A Grades

26. ‘A Coming Of Age’- Lucky Soul

27.’ Fire Like This’  – Blood Red Shoes

28. ‘The Suburbs’- Arcade Fire

29.  ‘Without Why’ – Rose Elinor Dougall

30.  All0 Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’

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Best Songs Of 2011

The VPME - Songs Of The Year 2010

1.  ‘Ill.’- The Indelicates

Really, this kind of sums up my year!

 

2.  ‘Sea Talk’ – Zola Jesus

As I’ve said before, this is the aural equivalent of the sun rising.

3. ‘Nine Lives.’- The Kiara Elles

Maybe not the most obvious choice on the album, but kind of sums up the appeal of the band for me. It’s the sort of music  that recalls a young me furtively listening to John Peel under the covers via an old tranny ( that’s a radio, not a transvestite I hasten to add.) The Au-Pairs, Delta Five and The Passions all spring to mind. Which is of course a very good thing.

4. ‘ Melancholy Hill’ – Gorillaz

Reminds me of the stone circle at Glastonbury. Which is nice.

5. Palaces Of Montezuma’ – Grinderman

All you need to know about this song is that whilst  Joe Public laps up utter shite like ” “So I got busy throwing everybody underneath the bus /And with your poster 30 foot at the back of Toys-R-Us” Mr. Cave gifts us lyrics such as “The spinal cord of JFK / Wrapped in Marilyn Monroe’s negligee.” That is all.

6. ‘Undertow’ –Warpaint

7.  ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ –The Vaccines

8. ‘Get Some’ –Lykke Li

9. ‘Early Bird’ –Savior Adore

10.  ‘Crazy For You’ – Best Coast

11. Spanish Sahara’- Foals

12.  ‘Jail La-La’ –Dum Dum Girls

13.  ‘Don’t Ask’ –Blood Red Shoes

14.  ‘Don’t Be Evil’ –The Manic Street Preachers

15.   ‘Numb’ – Marina And The Diamonds

16. ‘Bleed’ – Sweet Jane

17.  ‘Raptor’ – The Horn The Hunt

18.  ‘Binary‘ – Ash

19.‘Your Body Is A Machine’ – The Good Natured

20.  ‘Confessions’ – Blindness

21. ‘Isles’ –Little Comets

22. “Civilian’-Wye Oak

23. ‘Commotion’– A Hundred In The Hand

24. Kiss Your Lips- Allo Darlin’

25. ‘You Forget So Easily’– Exlovers

26. ‘Five Trees’– Chapel Club

27. ‘Release Me’- The Like

28. ‘I Should be A Communist” – Too Many Boyfriends

29. ‘Carry On’ – Rose Elinor Dougall

 

30.”Violet’ – H Bird

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Video Of  The Year

THE VPME VIDEO OF THE YEAR - ASH- BINARY

1. “Binary” – Ash.

Ok so the footage wasn’t shot this year, but it’s the first sight we’ve had of the infamous Ash slasher movie. Oh and it features a Charlotte Hatherley shower scene.

2. ‘Isles’- Little Comets

3. ‘Melancholy Hill’ – Gorillaz

You cant watch it here, you’ll have to follow the link.

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Compilation/Reissue of the Year.

Need you ask ?

“Upside Down- The Best Of” – The Jesus And Mary Chain,

Upside Down - The Best Of The Jesus And Mary Chain

“All Things Must Pass” – The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Interview here

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Gig Of The Year – Glastonbury – 40th Anniversary

 

And a couple of nice quotes from the year

“How did this violent thug become the nation’s sweetheart?” – Bill Bailey

 

“Maybe it’s time for the people who complain that they can’t make enough money from music , to stop making music  ?”Julia Indelicate.

“He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands, Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qa’ida and taliban leaders?”Sarah Palin on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, proving she’s a fucking lunatic.

‘”When I seen bands like The Drums being fawned over, it makes me feel ill, there is literally no soul in that band. They’ve taken nothing from the depth or poetry or amazing lyrics of Ian Curtis, they’ve just taken his kooky dance. The whole generation is attired in American Apparel, there’s no individualism any more.” – Nicky Wire (Manic Street Preachers) -Amen to that.

 

“There is a gulf in values between myself and David Cameron. They have no progressive reform agenda at all – only an unbearable sense of entitlement that it’s just their time to govern”Nick Clegg, proving he’s a c*n*t. Which leads us finally on to. . .
TWAT OF THE YEAR
Nick Clegg.
Nick Clegg Liar