glenatron: (Iris)
When I was sixteen, four of us went around to our friend's house. He had a drum kit and we had guitars and a keyboard, so we shut ourselves in his room and started playing together. As far as I can remember we mostly played Enter Sandman by Metallica, maybe a Levellers song and we made up a riff of our own. It was, I daresay, somewhere close to the worst possible sound. I had never felt so unbelievably cool as I did right then. I was in a band. The next few weeks I did every job I could persuade my parents to pay me for, sold some belongings - including selling my nice guitar to my brother, if I recall correctly - and bought myself a bass and amp. One of our guitarists was substantially better than me, the other was probably not as good, it seemed natural that I would be the bass player. Our friend with the keyboard, which was not of absolute utility, became the singer by default.

Now, I'm not going to say that the Way Out Exits were the best band in history, but I can definitely say that we believed ourselves to be the best band in history. Our singer was seldom entirely in key, the rest of us were seldom in time and our drummer was incredibly good and kind of kept everything together musically. Inexplicably we never achieved the fame that we felt we deserved, but until we went off to university that band was core to my identity and the closest I have ever been to cool.

In the intervening twenty four years, I have almost always been in a band of one kind or another. As far as I can tell The Patient Wild is the eighth band I've played live with. I have written songs and worked with autocratic songwriters. Recorded an album that you can still find in the bargain bin if you are super lucky ( or still on Amazon aparently ) and probably played somewhere between one and two hundred gigs. It's been pretty cool.

This weekend we recorded a final set of songs with The Patient Wild. The best band I have been in by a broad margin and ( with the exception of those heady early days ) probably the most fun. We're a little older, musically confident and we know how to be a band. I am playing lead guitar and appropriately enough I'm playing that nice guitar I sold to my brother way back at the start. It is a real pleasure to play with this team, but there are babies and more on the way, our drummer is moving to Cardiff and we have barely played in the last year. This weekend was our chance to get the songs that we care about most, our latest and best, recorded for posterity and for us. We did an amazing job in terms of getting everything down in a very limited time and I'm super-impressed with everyone's performances. Listening back to the vocal takes it sounded pretty great even ahead of mixing. We won't hear the final product for a while, but I think it's going to be something special.

And you know what? I think that's it for me with bands. I've had a great time, but I don't need it any more. I'm too old to care about being on the scene, schmoozing promoters or struggling to play a gig every night that god sends in order to get on the bill for better shows. This is part of the reason that music is a young person's game. Also having skirted the edges of the music industry, I wouldn't want to get any further into it. Even if it wasn't dying under the weight of the idea that music can and should be free, even if every band wasn't desperately struggling to get their voice heard among the tens of thousands of others, the industry itself is cruel and seems inordinately packed with terrible people. It is an engine that runs on crushed dreams, trying to sail a boat across a lake that has almost totally dried up.

I'll still play music- I enjoy writing and composing, writing and arranging for the podcast is a real pleasure and I have no doubt that Stu and I will collaborate for a long time, but unless some extraordinary offers show up I doubt we'll be taking it live again. We've done that. We were good, sometimes excellent, occasionally spellbinding, but in time playing to the band's partners, two other bands and a promoter on a Tuesday night in Basingstoke? I think I've done that enough for now.
glenatron: (moody othello)
It has already been a bitter year for iconic heroes of the arts and it has left me thinking a lot about the music I grew up with.

I was never a great Bowie fan- I only own a couple of "best-of" albums - but I grew up listening to bands who grew up on Bowie. His influence was absolutely pervasive. It is also undeniable that he was responsible for some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded - I cannot think of any song that could get close to Life On Mars as a contender for greatest pop song ever. He had a brilliance for tunes, a great voice that showed us that one could sing rock with an English accent and a knack for finding amazing musicians to collaborate with throughout his career. That's without even thinking about his impact on fashion, art, cinema, video games - he was an explosion of ideas that touched every part of our culture, particularly in the early seventies when ( by all accounts ) we really needed it.

The other thing is that he was able to do this because of when he was alive. He was, as his friend sang, a twentieth century boy and his art defined the last third of the century. David Bowie lived at the only time that he could possibly have been David Bowie.

Now that he is gone, we have not only lost his bright light in the world, we are also seeing the passing of that age. The music I grew up with was powerful, but it was on the cusp, becoming a reflection of what had gone before - Zeppelin and Sabbath powered the Grunge scene, The Kinks, the Beatles and Bowie were fossil fuel that Britpop burned. As the nineties ended bands were looking back to New Wave and the early eighties followed by an interminable eighties revival which may be petering out at last- I didn't really listen to eighties music at the time and when I did get into music it felt like that was everything the music I enjoyed was a reaction against, so I never came to like it.

The feeling I get now is that music is recycling. The best modern artists are creating music that is heavy with references to the past, that looks backwards rather than forwards. It is hard to be clear about this because music has been inextricably wound into my life and I have gradually gained context as time has gone by so I can see more than I ever did, but it feels to me as though pop ( in which I include all it's genres and subgenres ) has simply run out of places to go. I couldn't say when that boundary was crossed - probably the last truly new sound to appear was that of electronic dance music and the way that started to cross over into rock around the time of Madchester. Since then - which encompasses the entire part of my life when I have cared about music - there have only been iterative changes. Different tunes, different arrangments. Play a little slower and it's a new subgenre, play it a little faster and it's a new subgenre, but nothing that feels different and new.

Technology has changed us- we can now make any sound that can be imagined, but it turns out that only a few sounds actually appeal to our ears. We're still playing the same scales, the same twelve semitones, the same three or four beat rhythms.

David Bowie worked in the brief period when music was available to everybody, but in order to listen to it someone had to pay for it- whether it was you or the radio station you were listening to. Now music can be propagated endlessly at effectively no cost, something which has been strongly pushed for by the network providers who spend a lot on lobbying against copyright. The idea that it should be given away for free is deeply embedded in the generations who grew up with the internet and that means that it is now exceedingly hard to make a living as a musician and almost impossible to become rich as one. With a diminishing pool of people who can afford to be professional musicians there will be less room for invention and exploration. Bands don't have a shelf-life in the way that they once did - record labels can't afford to finance a career so you get an album, maybe two or three and you're done. The opportunities to grow and change within the music industry are far more limited.

A consequence of this is that the people who pay for music are my generation and older and we get more backward looking music because we are already past our prime and looking for things that comfort us and remind us of when we were young and responsibility-free. Consequently the greatly reduced finances in the music industry go to encourage backward-looking music. If you wanted to make forward-looking music you would need to be appealing to a generation who don't see a need to pay for it and making any kind of living from doing that would be challenging at best. You'd be better off doing lets-plays.

I suppose I don't have a strong point to make here, except that pop music is rapidly becoming ( or has become? ) a legacy genre and that it leaves me wondering whether the all-consuming passion for music that I experienced will be far less available for young people in the future and whether that even matters. I don't see where music has left to go. Of course as a middle-aged white man I'm not supposed to know what the future of music is, perhaps it is already happening in sweaty clubs across the cities of Britain, or Mali or Indonesia. Still it is sad to see that the great beast music, who carried us so far in my lifetime, is emaciated, stumbling and losing its pace. A time will come when there is nothing but the empty plain where those of us who recall it can look back across its bones and listen to the whispers of its legacy. Humans have always needed music and I think we always will, it speaks to us in a very fundamental way. But I think the great flowering of recorded popular music is over. When I was young, jazz was old people's music- it belonged to my granny's generation. As I get older, I realise that pop is going the same way, but I can't see anything on the horizon of the rock and roll that will overwhelm it and take its place.

David Bowie is dead, popular music is slowly wasting away and it feels like that is the passing of the age that I belong to as well.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
A few months back I posted about the must I have listened to in springtime for the last twenty one years, but summer has passed and I missed out on a corresponding summer post. Better catch up!

1993
( A camping holiday with friends and then the band spending a week rehearsing at my house makes for awesome times! )
  • The Looks Or The Lifestyle - Pop Will Eat Itself
  • Fuzzy - Grant Lee Buffalo
  • Zooropa - U2
  • Red House Painters - Red House Painters


1994
( The fear of my A-Level results being poor or terrible, which they were, meant that I was living in the shadow of August and the effect it would have on my future. )

  • Giant Steps - The Boo Radleys
  • Treehouse - Buffalo Tom
  • Mirth And Matter - Eden Burning
  • August And Everything After - Counting Crows. There was a long period of that summer where I could not go a day without listening to this album at least three times, it remained my favourite record for the next ten years. I don't listen to it much these days because every moment of it is inscribed on my bones.


1995
( Back from University, caught in the reverberations of some bad decisions and my first "proper" summer job )
  • San Francisco - American Music Club
  • Throwing Copper - Live
  • Olympian - Gene


1996
  • Born On A Pirate Ship - Barenaked Ladies
  • Brink - Eden Burning (one of the most underrated bands ever and this is one of the great bass albums. )
  • Love And Other Demons - Strangelove


1997
(Some disastrous decisions left me in a terrible state over this summer.)
  • OK Computer - Radiohead
  • Way To Blue - Nick Drake ( compilation )
  • You? Me? Us? - Richard Thompson
  • Dreams Fly Away - Linda Thompson ( compilation )


1998
( I think this was a weirdly sparse year for music, I don't recall listening to much that was new in '98 - I may have decided that music was past it's best... )
  • From The Choirgirl Hotel - Tori Amos
  • Loser Friendly - Steadman
  • Down A Wire - Counting Crows
  • Almost Here - The Unbelievable Truth
  • The Good Will Out - Embrace


1999
( I was horribly broke this summer, so I couldn't afford much by way of music )
  • Mock Tudor - Richard Thompson


2000
( The summer I moved home and had some money to buy music with. )
  • The End Of The Summer - Dar Williams; if you haven't heard this, I heartily recommend it, possibly the best lyricist of all.
  • Parachutes - Coldplay
  • XO - Elliot Smith
  • Little Black Numbers - Kathryn Williams


  • 2001
    ( I had just moved to Reading, lived with my friends, who fought like and cat and dog that year. )
    • Asleep In The Back - Elbow


    2002
    • Hard Candy - Counting Crows


    2003
    • Kick Up The Fire And Let The Flames Break Loose- The Cooper Temple Clause
    • Passionoia - Black Box Recorder
    • The Old Kit Bag - Richard Thompson


    2004
    • New York, New York - Ryan Adams


    2005
    • A Certain Trigger - Maximo Park
    • Dog's Got More Sense - The Decca Years - Michael Chapman
    • Ebb & Flow - Sequoia


    2006
    (I apparently didn't listen to much music this summer)

    2007
    • Pretty World - Sam Baker


    2008
    • Our Endless Numbered Days - Iron & Wine
    • Boys And Girls In America - The Hold Steady


    2009
    • First Love - Emmy The Great


    2010
    ( The main thing I listened to this summer was a short playlist I had been sent by [livejournal.com profile] herecirm which introduced me to a lot of the kind of music I have heard a lot more of since. The music was new and awesome and it marked a change in my relationship with the person who sent it. )
    • Angles - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip


    2011
    (The finest girl I had ever met agreed to be my belle at the start of this summer, I was walking on air. )
    • The End Of Days - Abney Park
    • Slania - Eluveitie
    • Virtue - Emmy The Great
    • April Rain - Delain
    • Smother - Wild Beasts


    2012
    • The Hare's Corner - Colm Mac Con Iomaire
    • The Whirling Dervish - Mad Dog Mcrea


    2013
    • The Fontana Trilogy - The Lilac Time


    2014
    • New Eyes - Clean Bandit
    • Mynd - Hannah Martin and Philip Henry
    • Into The West - Pilot Speed


    2015
    • Did I sleep And Miss The Border? - Tom McRae
    • Almost Home - MAd Dog Mcrea ( no relation )
    • Somewhere Under Wonderland - Counting Crows


    Summer is a weird time of year for me- although I look forward to it, I end up so busy it often passes in a blur and lacks the clarity and definition of the memories I have for other seasons. Perhaps my mind still works on an academic year and Summer feels like the stretched out ending that for so many years it was. Also I probably haven't listened to enough new and interest music in the last few years, I've learned this also. That said, Mynd, from last year's list is a fantastic album and you should definitely listen to it.
glenatron: (Iris)
The lights went down and a mix of sounds came from the speakers- radio voices from the early twentieth century and then beautiful female harmonies singing an entirely familiar melody, albeit one that I expect to hear from male voices. I suppose one might call it Women Together Today.

"The universe is a record Of everything you say and do."

It's a little over ten years since my favourite album ever came out - which is, by no coincidence whatsoever, the greatest album ever recorded - and to mark this occasion, British Sea Power announced a few shows that celebrated the anniversary re-release of The Decline Of British Sea Power. Now I am not great at thinking about gigs I want to go to- in fact, I have somewhat lost my passion for seeking out live music in the last few years - but fortunately my brother is and for my birthday back in February he bought us tickets for their London show. My response to it was not what I expected.

"A swallow is depicted there, along your fuselage."

When I bought The Decline Of... I was in a brief intermission of staying at my parents' house, having recently moved out of a flat nearby and being in the process of buying a first home. It was an exciting time, but also a happy one- I was in a relationship that seemed to be quite comfortable, quite grown-up, and we were temporarily living in the house I had grown up in. It was an odd house, built up from an old WW2 Nissen hut and entirely wood clad, comfortable in that cool November, with it's textured wall paper and the big green log stove in the living room that heated it. It connected up my childhood, my teenage years and the happy homecomings during university holidays with the changes ahead, my impending marriage and the house I was about to purchase. I had also joined a new band and I was exciting about the music we were going to make together. I missed my university friends but I was still young and there was a lot to look forward to.

"Oh little England, tonight I'll swim, from my favourite island shores..."

I didn't really appreciate The Decline Of British Sea Power for a year or so after I got it. I listened to it the next autumn and suddenly it blazed into my mind and my imagination and I realised in a flash what an astounding collection of songs it is.

"I believe that bravery exists."

The band didn't work out, I mean we recorded a pretty great album and I enjoyed a lot of things about it, but there were others that made me unhappy. Well, if I'm honest a lot of them were to do with the relentless political machinations of our singer. There were things I liked about him, the person I talked to when we had direct conversations, and I was ambitious for our music to achieve something too, but he spent so much time working at being a jerk that eventually that was what he became. He had a very troubled relationship with women as well, forever teetering between worship and contempt. There are things about him that I didn't realise until years after I left the band, but certainly I don't regret leaving, but maybe in some ways I regret joining. We did a lot of gigs, we played in some interesting places, once I got a free t-shirt - although given the investment I put into the album it doesn't feel like a great deal in retrospect - and it gave me a glimpse of the edges of the music industry. Those edges were full of boring middle-aged men, no different from most other industries. It didn't look so exciting from where I stood and the relationship between work and the chances of getting any pay whatsoever as a musician playing original music seemed unbelievably tenuous. All around me I saw amazing bands who could have sold huge numbers of records playing to empty back rooms and slowly washing away. With them went my faith in the music industry. I will always love music, but I wouldn't want to work there.

"I feel the lapping of an ebbing tide..."

I was standing in the Roundhouse with [livejournal.com profile] herecirm beside me and British Sea Power were playing Remember Me and at some point I realised that there were tears rolling down my face and I didn't know that I was crying until that moment. It was the strongest and most immediate emotional impact music has ever had on me. They weren't the last tears I shed that night.

"For then you will have lost it all, the last of this island..."

A couple of years after the time that we stayed there, my parents went ahead with their plans to demolish the old house and rebuild it. It was a massive undertaking, costly, time consuming and immensely stressful. They came through it stressed out, exhausted and having spent their life savings, but they also have a truly beautiful house. It's in a different position on the plot, with a tall prow, bright windows and gorgeous wood floors. Now it has been lived in for a few years it is a charming place and a well deserved reward for their retirement. The pine clad walls are gone, though and the old green stove and I will never be able to show them to Sari.

"They say the past is a foreign country, how can we go there? How can we go where we once went?

One of the first nights I listened to The Decline Of British Sea Power, on a deep November evening, I made a pecan pie in that familiar kitchen. It took ages because I'm bad at pastry but it was a really good pecan pie, what we had of it. We left it on the side in the kitchen over night and the next morning the pecans had all gone and the surface of the pie was covered with tiny mouse footprints.

"All through the years, all through the dead scenes, all through the memories, melodies..."

Every moment of the first half of the set was wreathed in magic and memory and that strange intensity that comes from listening to music that you have loved so intensely it feels as though every word of the lyrics is carved into your bones in a room full of people who are caught up in the same moment as you. Not your moment, though, because the last twelve years of your history are opening up like a flag around you and you are free to inspect them, and to enjoy them, and to let them go if you want. To let them rise like paper embers and give them up to the wind and the joyous noise of the sky. Not to let them weigh you down, but instead to allow them to lift you up.

I have lived out some of my potential and allowed a whole lot more to drift away to nothing, but I am once again engaged to be married and this time it is to the absolute love of my life. I am becoming a horseman, playing music I love with a band I enjoy belonging to and working on other creative projects in the moments in between. And just the other night I heard the greatest album ever recorded, played live in its entirety by one of the few truly great bands of our era. This is a good place to be.

"When wooden horses were in use, I would have built one and left it for you."
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
One thing I have done since music grew into one of my obsessions ( which I think it probably no longer is, though it is deep in my bones now and I wouldn't be without it ) is that I have always listened to albums intensively at the time I discovered them and then often find that I can reach back to that time by listening to them again. Considering this the other day I started to think about spring albums that I associate with different years and so here, for no reason other than that I can is a list of albums that I have listened to in spring over the last 21 years:

1993
( I am at sixth form college, having the time of my life. )
  • Uncle Anasthesia - Screaming Trees

1994
  • Dream Harder - The Waterboys
  • Gentlemen - The Afghan Whigs

1995
( Now I have started university so I am home for the Easter holidays. )
  • Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins
  • The Bends - Radiohead

1996
  • Expecting To Fly - The Bluetones
  • Drag Down The Moon - Tansads

1997
  • Secret Samedhi - Live
  • Navigation - Michael Chapman
  • Drag Down The Moon - Tansads
  • Placebo - Placebo

1998
  • Grace - Jeff Buckley
  • Faithlift - Spirit Of The West

1999
  • The Boy With The Arab Strap - Belle And Sebastien

2000
(I am in my first full-time job but still living with student friends. )
  • Weights And Measures - Spirit Of The West

2001
( Back to the nest, moved home to my parents - a poor decision but a comfortable place to be. )
  • Mortal City - Dar Williams

2002
( First spring dating Lou, who I went on to marry. )
  • True Love And High Adventure - Grand Drive
  • The Sophtware Slump - Grandaddy

2003
  • Just Like Blood - Tom McRae
  • Sweet England - Jim Moray

2004
  • Everything To Everyone - Barenaked Ladies
  • Up The Bracket - The Libertines

( Not a great spring for music, apparently! )
2005
  • The Wind In The Wires - Patrick Wolf
  • Fisherman's Woman - Emiliana Torrini
  • Open Season- British Sea Power

2006
(Working freelance, something I didn't really enjoy- stressful, long hours and inconsistent returns.)
  • Plans - Death Cab For Cutie

2007
  • More Adventurous - Rilo Kiley
  • Whatever - Aimee Mann

2008
  • Cease To Begin - Band Of Horses

( I really tried to like this one, but it was just too boring. )
2009
  • The Midnight Organ Fight - Frightened Rabbit
  • The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow
  • Weightlifting - The Trashcan Sinatras

2010
( Looking back now I think I was probably genuinely depressed at this point, unhappy with my lack of achievement, realising I was middle-aged, my marriage was failing and staring into the abyss of an existential crisis. )
  • Grammatics - Grammatics

2011
( My marriage had ended and I guess the inevitable crash was over, but I also had an idea that just possibly something better might follow it. )
  • Drown Your Heart Again - The Strange Death Of Liberal England
  • Not Far Now - Richard Shindell
  • Also some stand-out songs included Richard Shindell's beautiful cover of Northbound 35, Cracker's Big Dipper and Mermaid Parade by Phosphorescence

2012
  • Shallow Bed - Dry The River
  • Let England Shake - PJ Harvey

2013
(The first spring that Sari and I were living together and moving into our flat. Also we were travelling around Australia for part of the time, which was technically autumn? )
  • My Head Is An Animal - Of Monsters And Men
  • The Village To The Vale - Autumn Chorus

2014
  • Into The West - Pilot Speed
  • An Awesome Wave - Alt-J

2015
  • Grown Unknown - Lia Ices
  • Revival - Bellowhead ( going to see them live on Monday! )
  • The Fine Art Of Hanging On - The Leisure Society


I'm sure there are more that I don't recall around the early 2000s - recently is new and the joyous lack of context that marks youth means that the 1990s are vivid as though they were yesterday. One thing I see looking at this is that it wasn't just my feeling- some years genuinely were way better for music than others...
glenatron: (Iris)
I have a big post about horses to write, because there's all kind of thing to say about those, but first: Music.

The songs we recorded a few months back are finally out in the world and you can listen to them right here on The Patient Wild soundcloud.

This is unquestionably the best music I have ever been part of and I am very proud of how these recordings have worked out. Please give them a listen and, if you like what you hear, tell other people you know who might enjoy it too.

Being part of a band that feels like you are creating something unique and amazing can be a little dispiriting when it feels like nobody hears the things you have made.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Over the last few years it has gradually dawned on me that I am a middle aged man now. Once, however, I was a long-haired chump who loved music.

This started quite suddenly around the time I was 15- I started learning to play guitar and listening to various guitar music ( ahem... much of it was Dire Straits ) and the kind of turn-of-the-nineties cheese rock that was the thing at the time. Later I discovered U2 and it blew my mind a bit because here was a band playing guitar in a way that I could ( sort of almost ) emulate and yet they were a real band making real records. That was a pretty exciting thing to discover. In the autumn of 1991 I got a copy of Achtung Baby and REM's Out Of Time, which are probably my favourite records by both bands and I started to realise that what I really wanted was music that touched my heart and carried me away with the ideas it conveyed.

In 1992 I finished my GCSEs and left school for sixth form college. This was a big deal because until then I had really spent my time with school friends who I had been around in many cases through the preceding two schools, so it was very much a male group and I basically didn't know much about being around girls. At sixth form I began hanging out with a new social group, including some friends I had made later in secondary school and finally I was in the company of girls too. Obviously I immediately fell in love with everyone I met and was horribly, cringeworthily embarrassing ( and self conscious, and embarrassed ) as I now realise is the fate of all teenagers at some point.

So suddenly my life was a heady social whirlwind full of amazing rollercoaster highs and lows. I was a total idiot, but it was so exciting- I still clearly recall the unbelievable intensity and somewhere I retain notebooks full of terrible poetry and lyrics from those days which are the closest thing I have to a diary.

As 1993 began as this social group began to take form and it's fair to say that it was the most amazing year of my life to that point. Luckily it was also an excellent year for music, so I had a great soundtrack. Maybe everyone has an amazing soundtrack to some equivalent period of their life, but this is mine.

The year began with me mostly listening to records from the year before, mostly ones I had borrowed from my friend Alf, so it was The Lemonheads with Its A Shame About Ray and Sugar with Copper Blue. I found both of these in a charity shop last summer and they still stand up very well. I had already extracted most of the goodness from Nevermind that I was going to but I was still enjoying Ten - my controversial opinion is that the letter is probably a better album, for all that it wasn't the peak of the zeitgeist. Just at the end of the year my friend lent me the first two Levellers albums and I couldn't believe it- here was a band playing music like the Steeleye Span my parent had played while I was growing up, but modern! It was so cool! They were one of the great unifying bands of my generation- there was only one way of life and that was our own.

One of the early year records I got in 93 was Sweet Oblivion by Screaming Trees. Mark Lanegan's brilliant, gravelly voice over the dark seventies-tinged rock of the Trees was like a flame to my army-surplus combat-trousers-wearing moth.

During the spring I had a tape on which I had Are You Normal from Neds Atomic Dustbin on one side and The Looks Or The Lifestyle by Pop Will Eat Itself on the other. The former was alright, but suggested the band were a bit of a one-trick pony, the latter I totally loved- Fuzz Townsend is an amazing drummer and it is baffling to me that the template for mixing dance and rock that PWEI created wasn't really followed up on for another fifteen years or so, though it is more or less the standard for most pop now.

As the year wore on I actually joined a band too. The Way Out Exits were really something. Listening back that something might be terrible, but that's neither here nor there- we were a band playing our own original songs and we were cool because we thought we were. Our singer couldn't sing, I started on guitar but switched to bass after our first practice, none of us could entirely play in time and our drummer was amazing. The first time we practiced we basically played Enter Sandman for three hours. I remember on the drive home ( getting a lift with mum, obviously ) thinking "yes, this is the real deal!" It was a late spring evening and the evening light on the water meadows was beautiful.

While I was doing every household chore I could think of in the hope of earning enough money to afford a bass amplifier, I was listening to the old Best Of REM on my personal stereo, building up an affection for So Central Rain and Driver 8 that persisted ever since.

In the summer our group of friends went out for a week of camping holiday in Cornwall and it was the best thing ever. Actual best thing ever. On the train down we forgot our tent and one of our group had to go back on an epic adventure to retrieve it. We sat on the beach and drank Thunderbird wine through a straw while our friend Steve narrated farmer stories in a stupid west country accent. I bought a copy of the second Red House Painters album while we were there and it was totally depressing and beautiful and not fitting at all but I loved it. I had a "Simon and Garfunkel for easy guitar" book and it turned out our friend Penny had a beautiful voice so we played those songs a lot. Also Levellers songs because those were super easy.

When we got home my parents were away so the band moved in at my house and practiced for a week. During that week, on a trip to town, I got hold of a copy of Fuzzy by Grant Lee Buffalo. We got a short set together and on the last night we played to our friends. It was the most unbelievably exciting gig I have ever played. I am sure we were terrible but it was awesome fun and gratifying when our friends realised that we actually were a real band playing real songs. It hardly mattered that we were playing them very badly indeed.

We were up all night partying then, and the next day took a lot of tidying up before my parents came home. When the last of my friends left I just broke down and cried for a very long time. I felt as though nothing would ever match up to that fortnight and to an extent I was right. Also I hadn't slept for thirty hours, so I was pretty easy to tip over into an emotional state.

Summer turned to autumn and we went back to college. I passed my driving test ( the day before we went to see the Levellers live ) and suddenly had freedom. It's hard to express how much difference that makes when you live in a village with very poor public transport links. Suddenly you can socialise almost whenever you like.

During the autumn I bought Together Alone by Crowded House - now I know they are not a very cool band but I still think that is a beautiful record and the production is amazing. It really holds together as a single work of art- each song stands out but everything flows together perfectly. I still listen to that when I want to feel autumnal.

I remember sitting on the old sofa in the new conservatory at Rivendell ( my parents house ) and listening to that album the night I came home from my Biology A Level field trip. That night I decided I didn't want to study Marine Biology at university because that field trip had been agonisingly boring and I couldn't face three more years of that. I had almost sent off my university application form, so I had to tear it up and pick a new subject out of the air. I chose Psychology and Philosophy but in retrospect I'm very glad the Psychology side ended up by the wayside.

The other CD that ruled my listening habits during that autumn was A Slight Case Of Overbombing, the Sisters Of Mercy best of. I now have all of their albums, but I think that best of is actually better than any of the albums. The tracks were remixed and remastered in a way that worked very well and it also has the brilliant Under The Gun as its opening track. It's just a tremendous album from one of the most incendiary songwriters in rock. Of course, half the time you have no idea what he's on about, but man whatever it is it sounds cool.

That Christmas I was given two CDs among my gifts- I can't remember what my main present was, but those CDs have stuck with me - the second Pearl Jam album ( which is, you know, fine ) and Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos which I am listening to right this moment and I have never not loved. In fact when I was at university it was posters of Tori that ruled my walls. I'm not even certain that it's her best album ( The studio version of To Venus And Back might be, or Boys For Pele ) but it is a truly great record.

So that was probably my most intensely formative year. And it was twenty years ago now. I am considerably more than twice the age I was then. But - and maybe any year of this significance would seem the same to someone as music-oriented as I am - looking back from this distance I still can't think of a year that provided a greater haul of amazing albums. Especially if I was to include the records recorded that year which I got later ( Gentlemen, Giant Steps, Siamese Dream, August And Everything After ) and ruled absolutely over the next few years of my musical life.
glenatron: (Iris)
I have been up to a broad selection of things lately, I shall endeavour to share some with you:

Last weekend we spent four days recording some new songs for the next release from The Patient Wild. In fact they will probably go onto a CD with the existing tracks ( people at gigs are often asking whether we have a CD to sell ) and we will endeavour to put them onto the usual services so you should be able to find them easily if you want to. I won't lie, this is really awesome music- complicated, intense and catchy all at once. It won't be for everyone but I feel that this band is the one that has been closest to my musical vision of any I have been part of and it is always a pleasure to be around musicians this talented. I will doubtless post more about this once we have the mixes back and they are out where people can find them.

My contract comes up at the end of the month ( which is Thursday, by this point ) and I don't yet have anything else lined up. This means that my poor abandoned mare will get some work to do while I sort something else out. Hopefully another contract will be forthcoming reasonably soon because if I don't find anything in November, the market tends to go dead in December as everyone in HR goes skiing and then with the spin up time after Christmas it would probably be February before anything much turns up, unless I want to go to London, and nobody wants to go to London. I do have a mobile phone project I've been working on for a while, so I guess if I'm not in a full time job I can concentrate on that in between horses and maybe get enough done to get it out in some app stores and make a few quid. It would be nice to be running my own stuff, but at the same time I prefer not to put too long of a break between contracts and my bank manager likes me not to as well.

Iris has been somewhat underworked lately, between recording and the growing dark of an English autumn, but I am planning to combine intensive teaching with one of my students with working Iris by driving her over to my student's yard ( which has a really nice arena, unlike our own muddy swamp ) and teaching from horseback. We tested travelling there and back today as it was sunny but too blustery for riding out with Iris as she is at the moment and although she was very sweaty after the journey, the wind gave her a chance to dry off and she offered some really nice work. This horse is so amazing - she just gives and keeps on giving. I feel so much responsibility to be as generous in my training and care of her as she is in her work with me.
Accompanied by sundry illustrations )
Also I read The Book Of The New Sun recently and if you haven't read it you could probably put it on the "to read" list. It is unlike most of the books.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
We were supposed to play a gig in Camden tomorrow night, but the other band on the bill pulled out and we got unceremoniously cancelled at the last minute. Very frustrating because it would have been our first London show and felt like a pretty cool step. :(
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Last weekend was the first of the Profound Decisions Empire larp events and it was pretty much awesome. In game it was the winter solstice and in a no-expenses spared effort they actually arranged for snow and exceedingly cold temperatures. Fortunately the group I belonged to was based in the snowy northern lands so our kit was broadly up to the weather and I am quite relieved about that.

It was good to have a chance to play with some people I've not seen for a few years and be part of the beginning of a really interesting, epic and exciting game. When we went to battle either as players or monster crew among hundreds on each side it really felt like a big deal and the amount of effort and skill they had invested in creating a complete world with deep and compelling background, some explicit and some waiting to be uncovered, was very impressive indeed. Also everyone had put a lot of time and effort into kit, so it was the best looking event I have been to- the organisers had really gone overboard on the monster outfits, from the orc armour and minotaur kits to the big setpiece trolls and bone drakes we were confronted by. Other systems are going to have to work very hard indeed to catch up.

Unfortunately since the weekend I have been quite ill- in fact last night was the first time in years I have actually had a proper for-reals fever. I thought I was well enough to play a show with the band last night, but it transpired that I was incorrect and I burned myself out really badly. I've got medicine now, which will hopefully help, but yes, not feeling the healthiest. I have been entirely reliant on the ever-brilliant [livejournal.com profile] herecirm to keep things going, which she has done immaculately as well looking after me very generously. She is of the opinion that she doesn't have a caring bone in her body which goes to show that she isn't always right. I am very fortunate indeed to have her with me.

Also we finally played the jig we've been working on for a while in front of an audience, so I feel like we're a proper folk rock band now.
glenatron: (Cash)
Today we were playing as part of the Oxjam multi-venue festival in Reading. We played the first show of the weekend at Pavlov's dog, after a brief delay while the engineers found some extra bits so that we could plug our acoustic instruments in ( we're a nightmare to engineer in that respect ) we were off. It was a good fun set with a decent sound and we felt like it went pretty well in terms of sound. I took my kit back to the car and we hung around to catch the next band. Our bassist ( who is a legend ) vanished off to another venue to see what music was going on there and it turned out the next band hadn't turned up and weren't going to. A moment later it was back to the car and on to the next venue to play another set. We weren't as good second time up- partly because the sound was less good in the venue, partly because we had already played one set with full commitment- but it was still good to play.

As we finished up one of the organisers came over and asked if we might be able to play a third set in another venue, who were also down a band. Just as we were setting to leave, the other band turned up, which was probably as well for Stu's voice and my fingers, but three sets in one day would have been quite legendary.

Instead we went off for lunch and then back to the car park to find that it cost fifteen quid to park in Reading for the day. For that money I would want my to be resting on a bed of caviar when I returned.

Anyway, the outcome is: Band still awesome. Playing two gigs in a day is fun. And if you somehow missed them before, you can listen to or download our songs here. You should do that if you haven't already.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
One of the things that [livejournal.com profile] herecirm has brought into my life is a lot of music I wouldn't have heard otherwise. Her tastes are as diverse as mine but tending far more into the realms of metal, especially folk metal. She has introduced me to a lot of bands I would never have heard at all otherwise varying from the brilliant to the insane, frequently across a single song.

One of her favourite gigs of the year is Heidenfest and when she asked if I wanted to come along, I figured it might help me understand her music a little better. Consequently yesterday we marched up to the Forum to hear some bands rock out.

The first thing I noticed was that the crowd basically appeared to be almost identical to what you might encounter at a typical LARP event. I suspect there is a reason for this. In fact as Turisas, one of the headliners, favour black and red war paint and a lot of their fans were wearing it there was a clear resemblance to the monster crew at some Jackals events a few years back.

The sound was pretty good- I was a bit worried that the music would be just pure white-out noise, but that was only sometimes the case. We weren't right in the mosh pit, though- in a generous concession to the fact I'm an old man, we were a little further back.

First up were Skalmold ( various umlauts missing as I couldn't be bothered to work out how to type them ) who are Icelandic and intense and I really enjoyed. They were a great start to the evening. Also their bassist was really bless.

Second band were Trollfest - I couldn't make head nor tail of these guys - they seemed to just change pace at arbitrary intervals and for every time they did something musically interesting they had to suddenly change in a way that made no sense and had no dynamic. Also the singer seemed to only have one tone, a monotone distorted quack. They came across as someone's jokey side project to my mind, though for all I know they could well be doing some kind of thrash Zappa thing. Nice to see an accordion being used in metal, but then they did also have a saxophone.

Arkona were supposed to be third but for some reason they had cancelled, so next up we got merry scottish japesters Alestorm. They put on a good show and they were very entertaining but I really couldn't make out much of what was going on with their songs. I'm not sure that the singer is actually a singer at all but he does have a keytar, which is also important. Their pirate theme was another reason that the gig felt a lot like a LARP event as there were many tricorns and pirate boots around. Possibly a case of concept over actuality.

Fintroll, conversely, were crazily heavy, ridiculously fast and very intense. They were a whole lot of fun. If you pressed me I probably wouldn't be able to distinguish many of their songs from each other ( aside from Trollhammeren which is just one of the most hilariously brilliant songs ever ) but the overall effect was pretty devastating, in a good way. In places the music was going so fast that my researches indicated that I would need to dance at a quarter speed to be able to dance to it at all. Very good fun.

Top of the bill were Turisas who, in keeping with the old adage of "write what you know", write songs about being vikings and fighting epic battles, joining the Varangian Guard and generally getting up to shenanigans. I liked the balance of instruments ( not just crazy guitars- one could actually make out the violin and keyboards ) and the general sense of fun. Also it was a very hot headline slot at a very hot gig and you have to respect a band who go out and play that in medium armour. Going out and playing songs on these topics is an inherently silly thing to do and it was nice that the band were clearly embracing that while also playing with total commitment. Also they played a song about hunting pirates, which complemented the Alestorm set. We missed the last few tracks because of needing to get back in time for a train, but I felt like it had been a pretty full evening nonetheless.

What the bands had in common, and what they had in common with most bands who have really impressed me live, was that they pretty much demanded a party happen right there with those people in that room and one did. It was a very entertaining evening and I really enjoyed experiencing some of the music that [livejournal.com profile] herecirm loves with her as my guide.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
From time to time I go on about what a great band Our Lost Infantry are. This is their new video and it's representative of what they do. Excellent stuff:



Also I am weird about mugs. I just noticed this earlier as I went to make a cup of tea and had to ferret through the mug shelf in the cupboard to find a suitable mug.

Unsuitable mugs include: Mugs that can only be used at the weekend, mugs that belong to [livejournal.com profile] sleepsy_mouse in my mind or in reality, mugs that just never get used, the Holy Grail.

Why do I categorise mugs so hard? And why is it so hard for me to change the category of a mug? The practical outcome is that I actually will not use about half of the mugs in the shelf.

I'm not completely sure this is normal.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
I bumped into this a few days ago and I think it is just beautiful. The song is by Richard Foucault originally, but I slightly prefer Richard Shindell's cover:


Northbound 35
Through the iron hills
Under infidel skies
It's two hundred miles to drive
You won't be home

I saw an elsebound train
On the overpass
In the driving rain
Every ticket costs the same
For where you can't go

Mustang horses, champagne glasses
Anything frail anything wild
It’s the price of living motion
What's beautiful is broken
And grace is just the measure of a fall

So I rolled into your town
I passed the smokestacks
And the ore docks down off of Main
And the sky spun around
With her diamonds on fire

We fought all night and then we danced
In your kitchen
You were as much in my hands
As water or darkness or nothing
Can ever be held

Mustang horses, champagne glasses
Anything frail anything wild
It’s the price of living motion
What's beautiful is broken
And grace is just the measure of a fall
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Just back from watching Our Lost Infantry live. A Tuesday night in Bracknell doesn't make for a packed out house, but they conjured an energy into the room in a way I have very seldom seen bands do. The way they will drop everything out to just have three layered vocals and suddenly come crashing back in at precisely the right moment is nothing short of stunning. They are musically complex, lyrically smart, they have some great tunes and they put on a show. At some point during The Arsonist I actually found myself thinking "this is incendiary" and only later realised the appropriateness of the term. You may consider this a recommendation. Have a listen to the songs on that link and if they are playing nearby go see them.

It's been a good few months for music actually - I have been buying a few albums that have seemed pretty worthwhile to me so I'll share some thoughts:

The National - High Violet
My first album from The National. I know, I'm pretty late on this particular bandwagon, but oh, they really are as good as everyone says. There are so many great moments on this. It's nothing shockingly new musically but it really doesn't matter because the execution is spot on and the tunes are very memorable. Also the drummer is fantastic - he manages to totally flip out without interrupting the song in any way.

Everything Everything - Man Alive
I don't even really know what kind of music this is- some kind of crazy indie-funk with a whole bunch of seventies stuff thrown in, none of which really does it justice. I like the way the songs all craminasmanywordsaspossibleintoeveryline as I do like a good complicated wordy song but at the same time I am not so sure about the lyrics, which seem to have wandered a little beyond oblique and potentially into completely meaningless in places. Maybe the singer knows what he's on about, in which case he's probably a genius. It's so full of musical fun and invention that you can forgive them a lot. Also I like the song where Diana's phantom head is directing some kind of revolution.

I Like Trains - Elegies to Lessons Learnt
How did it take me so long to realise how good these guys are? If you imagine someone taking the post-rock stylings of Explosions In The Sky or someone along those lines and then adding a deep voiced singer whose songs are often about obscure moments from history ( in fact this album originally packed with a booklet of essays on each song's topic ) and you have a pretty good idea of what this record sounds like. It's pretty intense, dark, slow and epic. If those are things you enjoy in music you would probably enjoy this.

The Outcast Band - The Longest Mile
A bit of context here- The Outcast Band were the single best live act I have ever seen. Some of their performances when I saw them at university totally blew my mind with their power and intensity. They split up before they released the album that would have featured most of the songs they were playing at that time and then, fifteen years later, they got back together and recorded them, along with a few other newer tracks. This only arrived a few days ago and it hasn't really had the attention it deserves yet, but it has an instant familiarity because these are songs I loved when I heard them live and that I tried to hear live at every opportunity. They still have their solid, upbeat, folk-rock sound allied to emotional and downbeat lyrics, Tex's voice still has that combination of rough growl and vulnerable tremor and the whole thing takes me back a long way. I don't know if it would mean as much to anyone else, but I enjoy it although I wish it had come out back in the mid nineties when I really needed it.

I Like Trains - He Who Saw The Deep
Now this is something different. More song-oriented than Elegies ( which actually came out a few years back ) and only just out, so I have yet to give it the listening it needs, but so far this sounds like an important record. It is dark, rich, complex and deep, varied yet coherent and deeply serious. Rather than the historical vignettes of their earlier material, this is songs about the modern age and it's consequences. In moments it reminds me of other records I love - there are hints of Strangelove in a couple of places, certain moments recall Radiohead in their heyday - but this is absolutely and unquestionably it's own record. I don't think you can necessarily declare something a masterpiece until it has had years to settle into it's own context, but this sounds to me a lot the way a masterpiece sounds at the first few listens. I would not be at all surprised if this turned out to be my album of the year by a clear margin.


All in all, a good few months for music. Next up, I believe the very brilliant Dry The River are playing in Reading next Wednesday, so we're planning to get to that as they are another band whose music I love but I have yet to see live.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
So when the nineties ended all I really knew was nineties music and maybe a bit of necessary music history, everything was bright and new and exciting to me and it was great. I was young and in love with music and the whole deal was amazing.

Now at some point it seemed to me as though music stopped. I hear things now and there is very little that sounds actually new, suddenly it all sounds like tired rehashes of music I have heard before- new to the kids today perhaps but a little bit tired to me and maybe a lot of music isn't really for me now. I think this contributed to me not buying many albums in the middle of the decade, which means there are probably some omissions from this list that happened because I just didn't hear the records in question, but would have liked them otherwise. Others that people have really rated ( Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes etc ) are competent but have failed to blow me away entirely. However, this year I have rediscovered the pleasure of buying good records and listening to them intensively and I plan to do more of this in future.

So, on to the music, starting with one that isn't quite on the list,,.

Honourable Mention: Sequoia - Ebb & Flow

I don't have enough distance from this to say where it belongs relative to the list. It's a damn good album, no question, but after four years of living that record- the recording, the artwork ( that's my handwriting on the front cover ) playing the songs at gigs up and down the country, the whole deal, I can't really compare it with anything because I can't create the requisite distance.

Also, because I have heard it at every stage of it's creation, I know it so well that it is - to a degree - a record I don't really feel the need to hear again. Sometimes I'll listen to parts of it and be surprised and pleased with how good it sounds, but I rarely put it on to relax.








10. Damien Rice - O

A very fine album- intriguing, modern songs about love, doubt, porn and eskimos with heartfelt vocals and the brilliant interplay between the two voices it is one of the definitive singer-songwriter albums of the decade and very influential.

One of the very few records where the string arrangements ( particularly on Aimee ) come close to those on Five Leaves Left - although of course that is kind of the aim, I'm sure that the conversation was approximately "Make this song sound a bit like Nick Drake" but the outcome really was as close as anyone has got to that wonderful, autumnal, melancholic sound.







9. Tori Amos - The Beekeeper

Tori Amos is quite unusual in that she reliably creates albums that average out as good, with some truly brilliant songs and, a few somewhat weak filler trakcs. Nothing from this decade quite matches up to the brilliance of To Venus And Back, Boys For Pele or Little Earthquakes but this is still a very strong record, certainly next to some of the other dire nonsense she has produced lately - Strange Little Girls and American Doll Posse were both disappointingly terrible.

Here we have songs about pirates, a duet with Damien Rice and the astounding Toast which stands equal to her finest moments and there are more good songs than average ones here by a broad margin, which counts as a good Tori album. And because when she is good she is very good, a good Tori album is better than most albums by most artists.






8. Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump

"Bring it back 2000 man..." I was really surprised to realise this came out this century, but it certainly deserves a place on this list. A genuine, beautiful, classic record full of the charm and warmth that Grandaddy always did so well. The subsequent album Sumday is also excellent but this one I prefer slightly.

The melancholy beauty of He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot with it's tremulous electronics and long slow build is worth the price of entry alone, even if it is somewhat connected in my mind with giant squirrels assaulting cyclists in slow motion.







7. Richard Thompson - The Old Kit Bag

This, for me, stands equal to anything Richard Thompson, the guitarist's guitarist and the songwriters' songwriter has released. Even the relatively filler tracks are solid and enjoyable, the menacing songs are properly menacing and towering over everything else A Love You Can't Survive is a searing moment of glorious lyrical storytelling.

The guitar playing is as stunning as ever, although I think probably best appreciated live when you become entirely conscious that yes, he is actually playing all of that on one guitar at the same time.







6. Mercury Rev - All Is Dream

If you listen to the opening bars of The Dark Is Rising you'll be entirely clear on why this appears here on this list. What a stunning song. I know that many fans prefer Deserters' Songs but for me that record was ruined by the saxophone ( oh how much do I hate that instrument ) whereas this one is a glorious success in its absence.

I do definitely prefer the tracks that have the more complete orchestration, but as an album this hangs together beautifully with it's soft, spacious sound.

It's also one fo the records I bought when I first met [livejournal.com profile] sleepsy_mouse and it reminds me of the first few times I went to visit her, which are certainly a treasured corner of the decade.





5. The Arcade Fire - Funeral

I got this one quite late- in winter 2007 - because people had been going on about it for so long. In fairness they were right, it is a blazing, beautiful record. The way that musical figures carry through from song to song, the feeling of loss and time's relentless encroachment on life and the way that in spite of that it raises itself to glory and celebrates the joy alongside the sadness.

And then I was in Canada and my horse had just died three thousand miles away and it was one of the worst weeks of my life and this was the only record I could listen to at that point. It soaked up a lot of pain, but now every time I hear it some of that is released again and I don't listen to it these days, although I wish I could.






4. Midlake The Trials Of Van Occupanther

I was surprised to find this one had wound it's way so high in the list, but then I listen back to it and it really is an excellent record. Every song is strong enough to stand alone and they knit together beautifully to create a whole that is greater than the sum of it's parts. The desire to be part of a less complex, more rustic, time - to be waylaid by bandits and lose everything and start again, that talks to my rustic side. Sat by the fire and dreaming of horses, I'd say that side is pretty strong these days...

The record was very much a grower- I enjoyed it immediately but it took a year or two to appreciate it's depths. When Gideon Coe finished his morning show on 6 Music - the best radio show around at that time, no question - Branches was the track he chose as his definitive one of the period.

I'm not so sure about the many wannabe bands that have followed in these tracks, but this record is one I can go back to time and again and keep finding wonderful things.



3. Tom McRae - Tom McRae

Seriously, what a stunning songwriter. Every track on this album is a winner in terms of lyrics, tune, arrangement the lot. There are song highlights such as End Of The World News and Bloodless and there are highlight moments- when the cellos first come in on You Cut Her Hair the beat rolling in to A And B Song but there is nothing on this album that is not exceptionally strong.

There are no bad Tom McRae albums - All Maps Welcome might be less amazing than the others but an average album from this guy is better than most of what any other singer-songwriter could produce. When he is good - this album was very close with Just Like Blood and King Of Cards could easily be on this list - he is truly stunning.






2. Emmy The Great - First Love

I first heard something from Emmy The Great a couple of years ago and it caught my ears and made me think this might be a songwriter to be reckoned with. When this album finally came right I was absolutely vindicated. She is a brilliant lyricist. Probably the best songwriter in the world right now. As good as Dar Williams was before she got happy and lost her muse. I really can't overstate the quality of the lyrics here but I don't want to suggest that she is a one-trick pony. The tunes are strong and the arrangements are brilliant, particularly the counterpoint backing vocals on a couple of tracks that just offset everything amazingly.

There is no question at all in my mind that if I do get around to doing a "Songs Of The Decade" list Easter Parade would be right there at the top. So good that when I heard it I felt inspired to give up writing lyrics because really there's no need for me to even try when Emmy The Great is doing it so much better.



1. British Sea Power - The Decline Of British Sea Power

Half way through the song Lately it dissolves into squalling screaming feedback and a general wall of sound for very slightly too long. That is the only flaw in the entire album.

I don't even know how to talk about this one- I bought it, was somewhat unimpressed, put it on one side after a few listens and then came back to it a year later to discover that it was the greatest album ever recorded. Even thinking about it sends shivers down my spine.

Although it was released in this decade it is really about the twentieth century and not just the end of it, the whole thing. Favours In The Beetroot Fields with it's Dostoevsky references, Carrion's chorus referring to brilliantine mortality, it is a very complete picture, musically intense, beautifully performed and strikingly original. Although it is made up of familliar post-punk shapes they have never been arranged in quite this order and they have never sounded quite so rural. There is nothing rustic about it, but it is an album that lives by the sea, that celebrates all of England, not just the cities, even as they threaten to swim from these favourite island shores.

They have recorded some other very fine albums in the last few years, but nothing has come close to this amazing, intense achievement.

glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Since Sequoia I have only really played music with Stu and Jena as Quesada & Molino. It was good fun but after a time Stu and I started to feel like getting a full band back together and in the end we decided to call a halt to that project and set up as a three-piece with Stu doing voice and guitar, me doing bass and finding ourselves a drummer.

We found a drummer but after a while of trying we couldn't make his playing fit with how we hear the songs in our heads so that didn't work out. During that time I also switched back to guitar because my guitar playing works really well with Stu's so we're now back as a duo on the quest for another two musicians.

We do, however, have a name and we're recording a lot of stuff from our rehearsals through Stu's webcam to give people an idea of the songs and also the way they develop from initial sketches through to the versions we play live and record. Probably we'll also have some talking-to-camera type stuff going on because we're funny enough to keep ourselves entertained if no-one else. So anyways, for anyone still reading may I introduce The Patient Wild...
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
So if an artist ( in the musical sense ) is going to find their way to my heart, one surefire route is by being a truly amazing lyricist. I've always been a words person and if someone has great lyrics I will warm to them very quickly, if they have stunning tunes and passable lyrics I'll take a lot longer to get into their work, if the lyrics are bad then no amount of musical genius will entirely persuade me.

For some time now, since I heard The Easter Parade on the radio, I have been keeping an eye out for an album by Emmy The Great and the other day I noticed it had come out.

The lyrics are good, really good. Better than almost anybody in fact. Right up there with the the finest moments of Billy Bragg, with Dar Williams before she was beaten to mediocrity with the MOR stick. Basically, judging by my first couple of listens it seems to me that she is writing songs as good as anyone ever has.

And i am grateful for the things
That you've tried to show to me dear
But there's no arcadia
No Albion and there's no jerusalem here

And underneath your pastures green
There's earth and there's ash
And there's bone
And there are things that disappear
Into it and then they are gone

And there is light that hits the sky
And then it is midnight again
And there is my mother, my father,
And you and we are all impermanent


- The Easter Parade



I wanted to pick out a couple of select lines, but like Dar Williams, these songs reflect in on themselves and fold from verse to verse, so one can't take a corner and do them justice. Seriously, I'm pretty sure that anyone else driven by a love of the sung word among you could click on any song title here and find yourself shopping for the album without making any conscious decision to do so, such is their intensity.

This is of course the first flush of discovering something very special and I don't know how this record will settle with time's regard, but I feel like it is worth the price of entry already.
glenatron: (Default)
Quesada & Molino are playing at Cafe Iguana in Reading tomorrow night. There are four bands on the bill and we're last up. I think it will be our first full-length set, so it will be interesting to see how we get on. The atmosphere in this band is like no other I have belonged to- we're all good at what we do, we play well together and we have songs that just keep getting stronger.

I'm looking forward to it.
glenatron: (Default)
Last night we went to see Sequoia ( the band I belonged to until last year, for more recent friends ) at the West End Centre in Aldershot.

The first act of the night, Moscow Flyer were absolutely tremendous. Huge anthemic tunes, lots of musicians on stage, really really worth listening to. Considering it was only their third gig I was very impressed indeed. I think a band night that featured them, Wire Jesus and Godwits would be literally amazing. Heh, there may even be a little room on that bill for Quesada & Molino. Anyways go listen to them on the Myspace link above. If "Lights In The Sky" doesn't take your breath away there may just be something wrong with you.

Sequoia were headlining. It's the second time I have seen them live, although of course I was in the band for something in the region of 50-70 gigs. Since I quit they have had another bass player who also left to tour Switzerland so I hadn't heard the new guy play. He is very good- a tremendous musician and he played very much my bassline to Laura Valentine, something the girl who replaced me didn't do. It may seem silly to say so, but that bassline is really important to the song, giving it drive and bounce, and it was really good to hear it done properly.

What has been really informative for me was the songs that I played live but we never recorded, so my replacements have had free rein to do what they want with them. Both of them are amazing bassists, well trained, properly taught and simply better at playing the instrument than me, unquestionably. In a one-on-one bass-off either of them could have handed me my ass on a plate while still playing better than me with the other hand. However, listening to the bass lines they put together I couldn't help but feel that maybe I have a stronger sense of dynamic and what one can do with a bass line to change the shape and feel of a song. I may be a fairly mediocre player in terms of improvisation, sight reading and whatever else, but I do have a pretty good sense of pop. Also I've probably had an extra 10 years to assimilate my influences and develop my playing over either of them and sometimes being old can be handy. For some reason I found that slightly satisfying.

It was nice to hear new songs as well- they have a fairly upbeat set now, which is important for a stand-up audience and also for Chris, the guitarist, not to look too horrendously bored; something he did particularly well in acoustic and unplugged kind of shows. I enjoyed seeing the guys and some other friends from when I was with the band again so it made for a really good fun night out...

July 2017

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