Algorithm Rhythm


Like lots of other people I use Spotify.

In an ideal world I would have a Sony Walkman with those foam headphones and a bag of compilation tapes to listen to as I gaily meander around the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.

This, in case you hadn’t noticed, is not an ideal world.

For a start it isn’t 1994 any longer and to make matters worse I am no longer young, free and single…I am old, imprisoned by my aching joints and married.


In the absence of a Walkman then I have to make do with Spotify.

Each day brings a little gift from the algorithmic meisters at Spotify H.Q…my daily mix.  A clutch of songs compiled for my listening pleasure based on the things I listen to most frequently.

Basically it is a mix-tape made by a bot version of me.

Nothing creepy or sinister about that.


I thought it might be fun to share with you the first ten tracks from that list today so that we can see how well BotMax actually knows real Max.

Heads up…nobody knows the real Max.

He’s an enigma.

Wrapped in a mystery.

Don’t try to work him/me out.

Actually, now that I think about it I’m not really all that difficult to work out.

I’m a middle-aged man (who looks very much his age…and possibly even looks the age he is going to be in ten years) and I like Britpop, indie music, films and pretending to know what I am talking about in relation to each of those things.


First up today is Elbow and “Grounds for Divorce”.

Well done BotMax.

I do like Elbow.

I think it is Guy Garvey’s voice that does it.

There is a genuine warmth, tenderness and soul in it.

This song was actually the first thing that I had heard by Elbow.  I know that they were around for a long old while before this but they had just slipped past me.  Something about that line “There’ll be twisted karaoke at the Aniseed Lounge” really got to me.  I didn’t know what twisted karaoke was…but I also knew exactly what it was.  A scorned, spurned lover singing “Islands in the Stream” as tears stream down his face, thinking of better times at the Aniseed lounge.

I had recently survived a divorce and the title, Garveys voice and some of the imagery in the lyrics really resonated with me.  It soothed me.  Even now with a happy, settled and beautiful home life this song can take me back to the start of the journey to being whole again.

I can remember exactly where I was and who I was with the very first time I heard this song.

Dave Evans lived in Kinghorn, the next little town along from mine.

We had become friends in sixth year.

I don’t remember how that happened.

It probably had something to do with music.

Maybe a Smiths badge?

I dunno.

Anyway, we were in his bedroom listening to records and he pulled out this from his collection and I sat a bit mesmerized by the baggy beats.  Dave had a floppy fringe so he could do the whole baggy look and dance a bit better than me…at that point I was at the height of my Morrissey obsession so was quiffed up.  Funny hairstyle a quiff…it limits the sort of music you can successfully dance to.  Basically you can shake your hips to rockabilly or Morrissey.  Nothing else.  You just look daft.

Do you love The Bluetones?

I do.

Don’t tell any of the other bands but…hold on, let me just close the door so nobody else hears…I think I might love them a little bit more than the rest of the bands.

Do you know what I mean?

Of course you do.

You’ve got ears.

And a soul.

Tim Booth.

He’s just like you and I.

Except a bit better.

Well, he’s certainly better than me.

James have released fifteen studio albums…with each one being the sort of record that, on any given day, could lay claim to being your favourite James album.  If we are being honest, and why shouldn’t we…we’re all friends here, most of them could lay claim to just being your favourite album.  Ever.

Today my favourite James album is “Seven” and so I’m really glad that little BotMax has chosen something from it for his mix-tape for me.



I reckons that the best Travis album is”Everything at Once”.

At one point in time Travis were a genuinely big deal.

It seemed like every week they were on Top of the Pops and on the cover of everything from Smash Hits to the Melody Maker.

One hit record followed another and then…who knows, but they sort of drifted out of the public eye and in the void came Coldplay.  A band with a knack for writing songs that nobody actually enjoys but which still sell by the truck load.  Coldplay are Travis without the craft, heart or guile.

I digress.

“Everything at Once” announced the return of Travis and anyone who heard it suddenly remembered why they had fallen head over heels for them the first time around.  It really is a wonderful record.

“I can see a time, when I won’t be able to feel the pain no more and I can leave this town for other shores.”

Embrace, like Travis and Elbow, have an uncanny knack for writing music and words that seem to resonate with the parts of you that you feel most uncomfortable with.  Partly that is down to the their preference for heart over balls but it is also down to their willingness to write about things that matter…love, seperation, family, loneliness, pain, heartache and heartbreak.

Of course Embrace can knock an absolute banger out at the drop of a hat but, for me, it these more delicate, near fragile, moments that draw the most heartfelt response from me.

Is there any need to say anything here?

Thought not.

Let’s just enjoy this version and move on.

Enjoy it?

Thought you might.

We’ve got so much in common you and I.

We should meet up.

Let’s play a fun game shall we?

This fun game is called…”Let’s Listen to a Morrissey Record From Before he Disappeared Into a Pit of Half Baked, Borderline Racist, Opinions and Ruined our Love for Him.”

I’ll admit that the name needs worked on but take a look at this video for “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” (which happens to feature the divine Kathy Burke) and remember just how ace and weird and handsome and strange and brilliant he once was.

Good that innit?

The Stone Roses.

One flawless masterpiece of an album.

One genuinely thrilling cocaine soaked rocker of a second album.

One of the finest guitarists of all time.

One of the greatest frontmen of all time.

One of the most incredible drummers of all time.

One of the most fantastic bass players of all time.

Almost too good.

“She looks like Eve Marie Saint in “On the Waterfront” has to be one of the best lyrics in the pop music canon.  It could only ever have been written by Lloyd Cole, a man so beautiful and so cool that he, well, looks a bit like Eve Marie Saint in “On the Waterfront”…or something.

See the source image

This song introduced me to Tennesse Williams, Simone de Beauvoir and Eve Marie Saint…for that I will be eternally grateful.  It also introduced me to Lloyd Cole both with and without his commotions…something else for which I will be eternally grateful.

There we have it…BotMax has revealed the truth about me.

I like Britpop and indie music.

He knows me better than I know myself.

Bit scary that.

2 thoughts on “Algorithm Rhythm

  1. I had a scary Spotify moment yesterday as I was strolling into work, musing about Stanley Road’s anniversary and Changing Man popped into my head and then a split second later started playing. I was quite rattled by it. I am now an algorithm of myself 😂


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