Paul Goodwin

General ignorance

2 Sep 2011

I've noticed that the standard of English in signage has taken another dip recently. The other day I saw a glossy poster advertising a roaring twenties themed event that boasted of the "loose morales" of the time, which is depressing, but is at least the first time in as long as I can remember when someone has written "loose" when they don't mean "lose". Nearby a printed job advert at a local department store said to apply witin. Maybe it's just a type of make up I'm not familiar with, but I don't reckon anyone who made that kind of mistake in their application would get an interview. I got sent a CV not that long ago that said the applicant had "excellent attention to detial" and although they seemed pretty good otherwise, I "kept it on file". 

I'm not sure even the keenest pizza eater could manage this feast, even if they do get all day to finish:

It's no wonder Habitat have gone bust with this kind of geographical knowledge. (It's from their "Capitals" range)

My personal favourite is this unintentionally insincere sounding apology. Even the name of the establishment seems to be open to doubt.

Inappropriate quotation marks

I don't know why I care about this stuff. I'm a small, petty man I guess.

I scream, you scream, we all scream ice cream

22 Aug 2011

I'm getting quite far behind with this whole thing, and I think it'll only get worse from here on in. On the other hand, my time's not being taken up with anything of interest, so maybe it won't. Anyway, a month or so ago we got a very crowded train down to London (one 4 coach train to Liverpool Street to take the passengers of three 8 coach trains to Kings Cross) for the Ben and Jerry's thing on Clapham Common, with the promise of all the free ice cream you could eat and some decent music. It was an unexpectedly beautiful day and we stopped off for a surprisingly tasty lunch at the O'Neill's next to Clapham tube (best burger I've had in ages) before getting in just as a band whose name I never found out were finishing. It was quite hard to tell which enormous queue was for which type of ice cream at that point, but after a 15 minute wait for what turned out to be pineapple or apricot or something else orange and inappropriate (when will people learn that ice cream should be either brown, yellow, or yellow with little bits of raspberry in?) we got some pretty nice Baked Alaska and watched a bit of Stephen Fretwell. The sound wasn't really loud enough where we were (or anywhere really - it was one of the quieter events I've been to) to grab our attention, though I've heard a few of the recordings and they didn't really grab my attention either.


There were two stages, of very different sizes. The first being pretty impressive, and the second looking a bit like something you'd get at a school fete. Most of the bands on it in the early part of the day sounded like Tom Waits impersonators singing circus music, but Rachel Sermanni was OK - she had a lovely voice and a nice line in songs about how it's annoying when you have to queue in chip shops.


When she was done we went over to the main stage to see Simone Felice from The Duke and the King stake a reasonable claim to being the coolest person in the entire world (though he was in a band with a man wearing what looked a lot like a fishing hat), as well as the best in the band at every instrument. I'd forgotten that he was the drummer in the Felice Brothers, but even if I hadn't I think I'd still have been taken aback by how enjoyable it was to watch when he took over. I like it when people drum with their entire body. I kept trying to take pictures of him standing on the kick drum but he kept getting down just too soon. 


I remembered quite a lot of the songs from his solo show at The Haymakers the other month, which is always a good sign. Though I do think maybe Knockin' on Heaven's Door should have been retired as a song that people can cover after the definitive Guns 'N' Roses version of the early 90's (only half joking). The Duke and The King (or Simone Felice on his own) are well worth seeing.


The surprise highlight of the entire thing was Gary Numan. My friend Chris bangs on about him all the time, but I've never been convinced. Obviously I knew a few of the classics, but I wasn't expecting it to be as energetic as it was, or as engrossing, or his band to be so young and energetic. The layering of sampled and live drums as well as real and synth bass made a pretty huge sound. To be fair the set also coincided with a very short queue at the chocolate flavour, which probably made me more amenable to things than I would otherwise be but I'll definitely try and see him the next time he's passing through. Odd fact - his biographer has the same name as I do.


Deer Park were the last thing playing on the second stage, with a full band this time, and were as good as the small stage sound allowed them to be. I think I enjoyed him on his own better, but that might have just been the dark and the surprise. I really like the songs. 


We only watched a little bit of Maximo Park, who were good fun, but not worth adding an extra hour to the journey home for. They played the only song of theirs I know (and I had thought that was by The Automatic - you know, the one that goes "something something something - recover!") as we were walking arond the outside of the arena. We randomly bumped into my brother on the way to the station, which was strange as I didn't know he was going. That happened at Glastonbury once too. The world is smaller than you'd think.

I was never convinced about how much commercial sense it made to give away ice cream all day, but I'm completely sold on Ben and Jerry's now. Their chocolate flavour is even better than the cheapest sort you can get at Asda, which was my previous favourite, other than the stuff you get abroad. So, fair enough Ben, fair enough Jerry, you win.


Canada Fortnight Pt 2

10 Aug 2011

So, the day after Dan Mangan's wonderful show at St Pancras Old Church, it was back to London to see The Weakerthans at The Garage, which I'd not been to since the Broken Family Band's last London show. We got to London fairly early and met in a pub round the corner where the cheapest beer was San Miguel so we had a couple and went round the corner at about 7.30, only to find that the doors hadn't opened. So we went back and had another, getting into the venue in time to see the last couple of songs of the support act. I don't remember their name, something about a racetrack I think. They sounded like they'd listened to Deserter's Songs by Mercury Rev a lot to me. The Weakerthans were as good as I'd been hoping and they weren't the comedown from the night before I'd been worried about. There were only a couple of problems with the gig. The first being that about halfway through someone came and stood with his heels touching my toes and the back of his head in my mouth and would do the same wherever I shifted to. The other was that I'd had a bit too much San Miguel so let that bother me more than it normally would. Anyway, they played everything I wanted to hear I think, and they have A LOT of really great songs. I very much want to see them again.

If you see me drinking San Miguel ask me politely if I really had no choice about it.

The final of my three Canada based gigs was Arcade Fire at Hyde Park exactly a week later. It started much earlier than any sensible gig would, but we got there in time for both opening act Owen Pallett and a massive sudden rain shower. Which was a shame. He was good though - probably my favourite of everyone that played. His constant switching of instruments and the fact we were watching it on the big screen rather than the stage made me think there were 2 identically dressed identical twins in the band for a while. 

The Vaccines were OK I guess. Each song sounded not only like a specific band but a specific song by a specific band, so that was fun. Beirut were good but I think I'd have liked them better if I'd known the songs because there seemed to be a lot of eastern european waltzing. I also spent a large portion of their set queuing for the loo and then a burger.

I've had a good time watching Mumford and Sons every other time I've seen them, despite the material. I might have been influenced by the hatred for them shown by the people I was with, but this felt like too big a show. They'd drafted in a couple of extra people to do some haphazard morris dancing and occasionally hit things, but that was a bit lost on us from the distance we were at. The banjo player's beard is looking really full and thick these days, which is nice to see. There were some new songs that were fairly indistinguishable from the old song, so everyone will either be pleased about that or hate them even more.

I don't know anywhere near as much by Arcade Fire as I probably should, mostly because I got their first EP and never really got into it, and they aren't on Spotify (I'm such a sod for hardly ever buying anything any more). I pretty much only know the one that goes "oh oooh oh oooh oooh oooh oooh ooh". Luckily for me, that turned out to be about 5 of them and despite the sound not being amazing (could've been louder, and was affected by the wind) I really enjoyed the set. I'd forgotten how difficult it is to find people in massive crowds when you mobile phone doesn't work  and despite triangulating my position with various masts and speakers and things I spent the last half hour or so on my own (I did well - one of our number had been missing since 2 songs into Mumford). No matter though. It was a good day.

Revolting Rhymes

25 Jul 2011

I follow John Darnielle from The Mountain Goats on Twitter, because he is a genius. Recently he said that "best/the rest" is the only inherently bad rhyme and everything else can be ok in the right context (though I think he later extended it to include "phone/alone" - I don't even know which song that's from). I'm not sure I agree, so, as if I don't have better things to do, I've made a short list of rhymes that I reckon people should probably retire now. You know, like when a shirt gets retired from a football team. I've included the song that if anyone else uses them (the Maradona song) will make you go "but hang on, you've nicked that from..." usually followed by "and that was pretty shit to begin with".

  1. "The best/the rest" - Simply The Best by Tina Turner (fair enough John)
  2. "On your own/alone" - November Rain by Guns 'N' Roses (guilty pleasure)
  3. "Fly/sky/high" (or combinations) - Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz
  4. "Survive/alive" - I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
  5. "With a fox/in a box" - Essence by Lucinda Williams
  6. "Crying/dying" - Two Little Boys by Rolf Harris
  7. "Love/above" - The Power of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (unless it's preceded by death from) 
  8. "Yesterday/far away" - ...
  9. "Pain/insane" - weirdly, couldn't think of an obvious example of this, but I strongly believe that the word "insane" should be retired entirely unless preceded by "clinically".
  10. "Baby/maybe (or anything)" - Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus (probably should've been retired before that, but at least it's a novelty song).
  11. "Green eggs and ham/Sam I am" - Essence by Lucinda Williams

I've just realised that what a lot of those have in common that I don't like is that the second line just reiterates the first line, so serves no purpose other than the crappy rhyme. Which I guess means it may be possible to make exceptions after all. Except for "the best/the rest" obviously. Any more anybody?

Canada Fortnight Pt 1

17 Jul 2011

Life has got a bit busy in a cleaning/improving my DIY skills kind of way in recent weeks, which means both that I got way behind with this, but also that there's not that much stuff to talk about since the start of July. The second half of June was sort of busy though.

A few days after getting back from New York I went to a lower-mid level mobile phone industry awards ceremony with work (under a last-minute assumed name - Sam doesn't own a suit apparently) which was both pretty cool (it's been a while since the dinner jacket has been out of the cupboard) and pretty depressing. You can tell it was lower-mid level by the fact that Miles Jupp was hosting (though I did manage to predict it would be him, based on the fact it was Rufus Hound the year before). He was funny to begin with while pretending(?) to be posher than everyone else there, but lost it a bit when he spent 15 minutes essentially going "you when trains are late? that's annoying eh? And how come you can never understand platform announcements?". I was surprised he didn't break into Ben Elton's early 90s routine about station coffee and toilet roll dispensers. He did manage to keep a straight face while pretending the actual awards mattered, so earned every penny they paid him I suppose. The dinner was "gourmet" (too small - I had to get a Maccy D's on the way home) and featured something I've never seen before - a potato container filled with pureed peas. Which tasted very much like when you eat potato with peas. The beef fillet was glorious though. I came out £1 up in a guess which nominee is going to win the award competition. There was also a "shop idol" contest between the best mobile phone shop salespeople, with the prize being an expensive holiday. Presumably to Magaluf.

"Nice Nice Very Nice" by Dan Mangan is one of the albums (if not the album) of last year for me, so I was a bit annoyed when what looked like his only London gig this year clashed with The Weakerthans (the other amazing band that had somehow escaped me until last year) playing at The Garage, but thankfully he added another date, the day before. It was at St Pancras Old Church, which, despite being a sucker for churches and walking past it fairly often, I'd never been to before. I had heard that drinking opportunities were sparse there, so we got to Kings Cross a bit early. It's nice enough round there, but I wouldn't go as far as the town planners did:

The venue itself is wonderful. A tiny, ever so slightly creepy church. There's a sign on the way in saying that it's been a place of worship since 300AD or something, which is insane. This picture of the sun does look a bit pre-Christian I suppose...

Will Sheff and Emmy the Great both played there recently - I wish I'd been able to get to either. It felt a bit wrong sitting on a pew drinking one of the 20 or so cans of Carlsberg that they had on sale on the way in (they'd run out after about half an hour - maybe for the best). Once again I was surprised to see Singing Adams as support (though I shouldn't have been I guess, bearing in mind Dan Mangan played with The Broken Family Band on one of the few tours I didn't make it to). It was Steve on his own for the most part, and I really enjoyed it. We got "You broke my fucking heart" and "Going to Everglades" by Herman Dune, as well as stuff off the current album (which I've really got into recently). He was joined by some of Dan Mangan's band for a couple of songs at the end, and they were really excellent. I spoke to him after and apparently he'd seen us in the crowd at Okkervil River earlier in the year. Must think I'm stalking him or something. This happened with Emily Barker a couple of years ago. It's really not my fault.

I was very excited about Dan Mangan, to the extent that I was concerned it could only be a disappointment, but if anything it was even better than I expected. I really wasn't prepared for how brilliant his band were going to be either - quite possibly the best drummer I've seen, and a world class guitarist. The bassist was really good too, but it's harder to judge that stuff... They played everything I wanted to hear, (except Road Regrets) and I was grinning the whole time, especially during "You Silly Git". There were a couple from his next album which is due out in the autumn too and, I'm reliably informed is another step up.

Mangan has a really powerful voice - it sounds great on record, but I'd not fully realised how big it is. It really came to fore at the end, where the band came halfway down the aisle and played a couple of songs from his first album completely unamplified in the middle of the church. The audience acted as a choir and it was magical. I'm not sure I've ever described anything as magical before. They played a note for note version of Waltz #2 as a final encore and we went home a little bit elated. Again via Maccy D's.

So come back I am waiting

19 Jun 2011

Just back from a thing at The Cornerhouse over the road where a bunch of people who were there in that classic summer of two years ago when it was a real little community were playing. It all fell apart a bit after a while, as these things do. I guess living in a pub takes its toll, especially on the young. Of everyone who was there, Lester Allen has really blossomed. He was on TV as part of that Goldie's Band thing (that I didn't watch, admittedly), and recently played banjo on a Madness record. And, was really good just now. Touching, passionate, brutally honest (and that's coming from me) songwriting. Check it out.

So, the second week in New York... After a return visit to the crazy world of Spa Castle (it wasn't quite so fun this time, I think because the hot weather meant that the water was colder - still amazing though - I had a foot massage), we spent a couple of days in the mountains near Albany.


It's an incredibly beautiful place, though it's a more familiar kind of landscape than other places I've been in America. Apart from it being generally bigger, and the grass and trees being a subtly yellower shade of green, it could've been England. Soon after we got there we went on a little boat trip and saw a bald eagle at really close quarters. The guy whose boat it was had lived there for 20 years and had never been as close to one he said. They don't look real. 13 year old me would've been extremely excited as it looked just like the picture of one in (and on the back cover of) my book of the birds of the world. 33 year old me was still pretty excited, but spent the next 2 days being a bit annoyed he'd not taken his camera out. I'm actually a bit worried that as a race, we don't think that things really count unless we've photographed them and put them on the internet.   


The day we got back we went to see Okkervil River who were playing at Terminal 5 (where we saw The Frames last year). It wasn't that long since the Heaven show but this one was even better. First up were Future Islands, who I'd not heard of before, but enjoyed a lot. I'm not cool enough to know what to call their sound (everything with synths sounds like Gary Numan to me), but there was a synth/drum machine guy, a bass guy and a growly man who moved too fast to take decent pictures of. He was properly crazy - kept on pounding at his chest and throwing his arms around. Great stuff. It's nice to see an "ordinary" looking band getting somewhere too.



Next up were Titus Andronicus who I missed at The Haymakers here earlier in the year because of, I think, a Travis Waltons show. They were... energetic. I'm not sure I caught enough of the words to know whether I loved it or not, but it was a lot of fun. The girl on the end was really going for it.



Okkervil River were amazing again. I was quite a lot nearer the front this time, which might have had something to do with liking it more because I couldn't really fault the other show. I'm not so keen on the new album, but the songs from it are pretty spectacular live and we got "So come back, I am waiting" which was incredible. Once again they misjudged the curfew so they had to just play through instead of doing an encore. I wonder if the stuff from the first couple of album has been permanently dropped now or if I've just been unlucky twice with curfews.



I was pretty happy


On the plane out there I'd seen the first half of Barney's Version starring the suddenly ubiquitous Paul Giamatti, which I thought was brilliant, so I was very much looking forward to seeing the rest. It kind of went downhill. I always feel a bit let down when films set themselves up to be brilliant and then don't follow through. It was much better than Cedar Rapids though, which was the other thing I saw on the plane back.

When I got back a big box of copies of Trinkets and Offcuts was waiting for me. I'm really quite pleased with how they came out. Not as fancy as Scars, but good still. Please buy them.

Oh, I saw the piano from Big


Weiner - it's no big deal

13 Jun 2011

How many of these things have I started with "I'm sitting in my favourite bar at JFK" now? Feels like a lot. I'm heading home after a lovely couple of weeks in New York which has, for the most part, been unnecessarily hot. Not sure what its problem is. It's almost exactly a year since I came here for the first time and from the first day I arrived I knew I wanted to come back for longer. I didn't anticipate coming back quite this often though. I've actually lost count. It's been a fairly action packed time but I'm not sure how much I can fit in before my laptop battery goes. It has the staying power of a Donald Trump Presidential tilt these days.

The day after I turned up we went to do some important shopping and then went to see some people play at a couple of Manhattan's most prestigious small venues. I'm increasingly convinced that nobody in the New York singer/songwriter scene has listened to anything by anyone outside of the New York singer/songwriter scene since about 1993. And that was the Ally McBeal soundtrack album. At least rip off Bright Eyes or something. I don't get it -  I reckon the majority of the music I like is made here. Somewhere. The only act out of 4 or 5 that was decent was Niall Connolly, an Irish guy, who I enjoyed a lot. It reminded me a bit of The Saw Doctors, which I'd imagine isn't a comparison he'd want, but I've always had a soft spot for them. Bizarrely, his guitar player was a guy called Warren Malone who lived in Cambridge for a bit, probably a decade ago. My friend Rob used to play guitar for him sometimes. I actually have his first CD. More weight to my theory that there aren't really that many people in the world.


The weekend I arrived was Memorial Day Weekend, though nobody I spoke to seemed to know what it's in memorial of. It coincides with a UK Bank Holiday that I don't know the reason behind, so I can't really criticise. Anyway, it meant that the Sunday was the same as a Saturday, so we got some incredibly expensive, but incredibly delicious ice cream (or gelato - anyone know what the difference is? It's all ice cream to me) then got drawn into the (second) weirdest open mic I've ever witnessed (if I'd have made a video of the guy playing Cannonball by Damien Rice complete with guy on out of time electronic drum kit in Paris the other month, I'd have been able to give up work on the youtube earnings) by a man of a certain age, wearing a sailor costume, playing a Bob Dylan cover on a tiny keyboard, completely deadpan. I still don't know if he was serious, but he had a real and actual show later in the day. You can get away with anything if you appear to believe in yourself.


Anyway. He paled into insignificance compared to this guy.

There was a bloke from Northampton on the table next to us who claimed his name was Simon Cowell and couldn't quite believe what he was seeing, but everyone else seemed to be really into it. I'm not sure if the whole event was a piece of performance art aimed at tourists. Except that one of our party, who went by the name Rhonda Diva, performed a couple of poems that were as sincere as they were carefully written, complete with random keyboard accompaniment, and got a bigger round of applause than anyone else

That evening we went to a bar on a boat, and I got a reminder of how many rich people there are here, and how rich they are.


We went to another show on Tuesday night - a guy called Greg Holden who is apparently the next big thing, and the audience was full of semi-known New York faces. He reminded me a bit of Frank Turner, but he only had the things that sometimes make me a little uncomfortable about Frank Turner and not whatever it is I like. Lots of aspirational songs about moving from England to New York to write songs. A bit calculated I thought. Presumably the next album will be full of songs about writing songs about moving to New York and writing songs. It's one of the awkward things about playing music that I feel uncomfortable expressing opinions about other people's efforts. So... he had a very good voice and seemed like a nice chap. His band (all of whom I'd seen playing with other people) made a really great sound too.


We went to an open mic on Wednesday, where I played Edinburgh and Muscle Memory, to general ambivalence. There were a lot of comedians who were, on the whole, very funny, which is unusual. Comedy tends to be much more awkward at a low level than music, I think because with music there's a definite place for the audience to show appreciation, even if it's insincere. Laughing on the other hand is a spontaneous thing that's very hard to fake. There was also a magician, which is something I've never seen at an open mic before. He had very impressive skills with the cards, but the thing I really liked about him was that he went to the trouble of putting a (presumably paid) stooge in the audience for the old $20 disappearing and turning up in a sealed cigar trick. For an open mic. Nobody cares about anyone but themselves at open mics. That is dedication.

My God American adverts are sinister. I just saw one for AT&T that was like something from 1984. Do people really fall for stuff that simple? I guess they must. It's only been a couple of weeks, and, as much as I like it here, I miss England a bit.

The country is currently gripped by a scandal that even makes the whole superinjunction thing look important. Not sure if it was big news at home. A congressman used his official Twitter account to send women pictures of "his bulging underwear". I suspect it wouldn't be nearly as big a thing (fnar) if his name wasn't Weiner (and if he'd not done that thing that politicians always seem to do of trying to deny it), but they've been having a field day with the headlines. I'm just waiting for "Weiner: I can take it" or "Weiner: they don't like it up them". Oh my goodness - there are TV pictures of people protesting about it. I'm confused about why politicians do such stupid things, but I'm also confused about what difference it makes to their ability to do their job, which is surely what really matters? Considering how massively corrupt America is, you'd think that sending random people pictures of yourself in a posing pouch would be the least of anyone's worries.

Dear Lord, someone is playing the guitar and singing in the departure lounge. That's even worse than people who think it's ok to play the guitar in parks. Which in turn is even worse than people who think it's ok to play the guitar at parties. He sounds like Jack Johnson. Well, not quite that bad, but, no need! Right, boarding the plane, so I'll leave it there and do the rest later. It's a double decker plane. I hope I'm on the top, but I suspect I'm not. You get a flight attendant between about 10 of you up there.


I've got you, you've got whatever's left of me to get

26 May 2011

I've been to two cracking gigs this week. First up, on Monday, was The Wave Pictures at The Haymakers. They were ably supported by The Pony Collaboration who I've not seen for far, far too long. They were doing an acoustic thing because Ellie, who sings and plays keys, couldn't make it (I saw her on iPlayer at that Radio 1 Big Weekend festival the other week - I swear more people I know have had some reasonable degree of success than you'd expect statistically) but, despite their claims to the contrary, it was still lovely. Highlights included Model/Actress, which is a properly great song, and a semi-sincere cover of How Soon Is Now? with omnichord accompaniment. I'd never heard of an omnichord before. It was great, but I hope it's at least a little while before I see one again. 

I've probably seen The Wave Pictures 6 or 7 times now, and some times have been better than others. Actually, the two times in Barcelona were the best, possibly because we were in Barcelona, but this one was up there too. They're such a likeable band. Much shorter than I'd imagined though - I've only seen them in venues with dressing rooms before. They didn't really play any of my favourites, but they did do a lot of songs that sound a bit like my favourites. There were quite a lot of guitar solos, some of which got worryingly close to Dire Straits territory. The guy is very good at guitar, but everyone realised that after one solo, so doing one every song wasn't really necessary. I don't think anybody really enjoys listening to them.

I made a bit of a fool of myself by telling the drummer after the show that his rendition of "Now You Are Pregnant" was my favourite moment at Primavera last year. There's not really anything anyone can say to that other than "oh, thanks, that's great, I have to... go... over there...".

Earlier in the day my friend Ciaran had said "ooh, Mountain Goats this week!". I'd found out they were playing months ago but had been planning to be in New York this week, then when my plans changed (I'm sitting at Heathrow now) I didn't put two and two together. I'm glad he mentioned it, because it was wonderful. I checked out support act The Submarines during the afternoon and they sounded good too, so I managed to herd the motley crew that had assembled over the road in The Lyttleton Arms (expensive!) a little earlier than we might otherwise have done. We've all grown out of watching support acts at moderately sized gigs after a decade of being let down. In the last few years I've missed Glasvegas, MGMT and most of Sons and Daughters. That's some pretty strong justification for staying in the pub right there. Anyway, I very much enjoyed The Submarines, a boy/girl (well, man/woman) duo who were mostly on guitars but had some effective backing tracks some of the time. They seriously tested my hypothesis that married couples can't play music together without it being horribly smug. I still think they might be the exception. It was pretty happy stuff (apart from the songs from their album about breaking up that got them back together) but clever enough that it made me happy too, rather than suck my teeth.

I've written about The Mountain Goats before. I was looking through some discussions online about the best line to try and get some inspiration for the title of this, and they run for pages and pages. The guy is seriously prolific while still coming out with better lyrics than pretty much anyone else I can think of. I hadn't really appreciated from the other times I'd seen them (both at End of the Road, one more successful than the other) how odd a man he is. Or maybe just much cleverer than me. His banter is downright weird, but you can't help but love it. I'd think it was an act, but I follow him on Twitter and if it is, he keeps it up the whole time. I also love that he reviews death metal CDs as a hobby. Anyway - they've made about 20 albums I think so the setlists can vary quite a lot from one show to another. This time we didn't get You or Your Memory, which is probably my favourite (and really short! Surely that could've crept in) but there were so many spine tingly moments. Broom People was incredible, No Children too, as you'd expect, and one that I'd never really noticed before called Woke Up New with the amazing line "The first time I made coffee for just myself, I made too much of it, but I drank it all" that has me welling up slightly even writing it out. I don't understand why it wasn't totally full. Well I do understand. It just depresses me. We met someone on the train home who'd been to The Naked and Famous at the other end of Camden High Street and said that everyone there was there to be seen there and spent the entire time talking and being photographed for Facebook. Still all the more elbow room for me. It's a shame that Koko have continued their policy of selling cans of lager for £4.50 a time though. It's also a shame that as the second, third and fourth tallest people in the room, this was our view.

God, I wonder what the 17 year old Alison Krauss would have thought if you told her that one day she'd be making music so bland that it would sound right at home being played in airport bars?

This Monkey's Gone to Heaven

22 May 2011

I spent a good hour this morning being convinced that The Rapture had in fact happened, albeit 16 hours late, and the only thing deemed worthy of being taken to heaven was my phone. As much as I like my phone, I'm not sure why it would stand out among other ones, what with it being about 3 models behind, and, to be honest, it's been hampering my Tiny Wings efforts slightly by slowing down at vital moments. Anyway, it turned up under my pillow. I guess the iPhone fairy had been visiting.

Talking of Heaven, I went to see Okkervil River in the club of that name on Monday. It had been a long time since I'd seen them so decided to do it properly and was in the pub next door at half 6. Rather foolishly I chose one that spans both sides of the street, which made it hard to meet up with everyone. Paul, Cambridge's busiest drummer (I went to his birthday gig on Friday at which he played with 4 bands), displayed his amazing sense of direction again and kept calling me from various corners of London, though Jack who he was with had been there before and should've known better. We got in about halfway through The Singing Adams' set (I couldn't believe they were supporting - good for them!) and spent most of the rest of it trying to get served, but they sounded really big and seemed to go down well.

Okkervil River were, to continue a theme, out of this world. Judging by the way they were talking (apart from one slightly awkward moment when Will Sheff went off on one about some literary reference or other that nobody but the most bearded understood) it had been almost as long since they played a full set as since I'd last seen them, and they were clearly enjoying it. I'm not as in love with the new record yet as I was hoping to be, but every song they played, old or new, was brilliant. And that was without them playing anything from their first two albums. I think the encore was shorter than they intended because they had to clear the place out for a foam party or something (it was a Monday after all), so maybe we'd have got Okkervil River Song or Westfall if it'd been somewhere else, but even so I can't remember when I last came out of a gig feeling that uplifted. Here's a video someone posted of A Stone, which was a highlight. Lovely.

In total contrast, I saw a bit of Lady Gaga's "spectacular" on ITV last night. I know it's like shooting a barracuda in a jam jar being mean about that kind of thing, but it's still depressing now that anyone could enjoy it. There are people whose opinions I value that seem to have a bit of time for her so I had wondered if there was something to it that I was missing, but she just paraded around stroking her dancers in the groin, occasionally spouting a bit of nonsense. Actually, has there ever been anything involving dancers that wasn't awful? I'm not convinced. At least she didn't do that one she stole from Madonna (while I was watching). If you have to steal a song from Madonna, why wouldn't you at least steal one of the better ones?

Back to School

14 May 2011

Andy, Dave, (other) Paul and I spent the day recording with Sam from The Morning People and our friend Steve, who has access to a primary school at weekends. I was under the impression that we were going to do it in the hall, but we actually used one of the classrooms (Year 1 I think). This led to me taking a lot of pictures of people sitting on tiny chairs. I think I would have to see a lot of people sitting on a lot of tiny chairs for a long time to stop finding it funny.


It was also fun to see musical equipment on tiny tables with cartoon vegetables and insects on them and to reread childhood favourites like Funnybones and be surprised at the modern equivalents like Floppy and the Bone. Floppy and the Bone? Really?


Paul's sense of direction is quite impressive - he turned up about 25 minutes later than expected because he left his house, drove for half an hour in what he thought was the direction of the village the school was in, and found himself back at his house again.

We were doing it partly because I've never recorded anything "live" with a band, and partly because Sam was testing out an audio interface he's reviewing for work. I don't know which make it was, but I'm not sure it's going to get a great review - it has an innovative function that detects the best take you're going to manage of any given song and stops the recording halfway through. Despite that, weird interference from the computer with Dave's amp, and my voice only really lasting until lunchtime we got seemingly ok takes of 6 or 7 songs. If any of them turn out to be usable I might make a little "live" CD. Or just put them online. Even if none of them are up to scratch, it was a lot of fun playing entirely electric and being able to have the amps turned up to a reasonable level (which is about 1.5 out of 10).


Talking of little CDs - Trinkets and Offcuts has been sent off for pressing, so barring any cock ups by the pressing people (or cock ups that have already happened by me) it should be ready in a few weeks. I suspect it'll arrive the day after I next head off to New York.

My amp has seen more action in the last 2 days than the preceding 2 years - last night was another in the Ciarafest series of charity gigs at The Portland and Dan (who I'd not seen for too long) and the guy from Tellison (who was fantastic I thought - I really want to see them but they keep playing when I can't make it) both borrowed it. The whole night was really high quality - as well as those two, there were sets from Emily Barker and Gill Sandell (who were playing their second Portland gig in a week and, again, made a lovely sound) and Liam Dullaghan who used to be in a band called The Havenots, who were a semi big deal a few years ago, but somehow passed me by. He sang very sad and pretty songs and said some very funny things in between them. I approve of both things. I meant to buy a CD but didn't get round to it. Though my CD listening time is currently being taken up with the Deer Park tour EP from the other week (which is excellent) and the new Okkervil River album so that there aren't songs I don't know when I see them on Monday. I relented and started paying for Spotify because I realised that I only own about 10% of the albums I like to listen to these days. And it turns out that my iTunes plays 50% Leonard Nimoy if left to its own devices.

I don't know if it was the 5 hours spent singing and holding a guitar or the 15 minutes spent kicking a ball around at lunchtime but I've been incredibly tired ever since I got home. I've gone to bed really early and watched some Eurovision. I can't decide whether to be amused or appalled. Not that the UK and Ireland cover themselves in glory at these things, but it does sometimes seem like you go back 10 years in time for every hour you go forward. I did enjoy the Ukranian backing sand artist drawing a big wang with a face on it at one point. It turned into a mother and child in the end. I wonder if there was some deeper meaning intended or if that's just a step on the way to a mother and child in sand.

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