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24 June 2005

I'll close my eyes if I know that you're there

Current listening: Saint Etienne - Tales From Turnpike House

it’s friday morning. and i’m off into london in a minute or two to go to the rough trade shop in covent garden because William Elliott Whitmore is doing an instore this afternoon. i saw him last week at the Windmill in Brixton, supporting Clem Snide. i thought he was really amazing. like it said in the Plan B review of the album, his songs have the power to “silence your voice and goosebump your skin”. it’s completely true. when he came on and did the opening song acapella it was something else. spellbinding. not a word i use very often, but it seems to be the only way to describe it. and i don’t think i’ve felt like that about seeing someone live since i saw Joanna Newsom at the 12 bar last year, when both her and Micah P Hinson, who was supporting left me like that. so, really looking forward to this afternoon. a nice way to spend a friday lunchtime.

i’m only a few tracks into my first listen of the new Saint Etienne album, but so far it sounds really beautiful. just got to the song ‘Relocate’, and it sounds like David Essex is doing a duet with Sarah. i’ve checked the liner notes and he doesn’t seem to be directly credited but the songwriting credits say Essex/Stanley/Wiggs so i guess it probably is him. wow. always been a big fan of David Essex. especially the first two albums. anyway, favourite song off the Saint Etienne album so far is probably ‘Teenage Winter’, if only because it mentions there being copies of ‘Every Loser Wins’ by Nick Berry on the doorstep of the Charity Shop. i’ve always had a soft spot for that record. even though i know it’s complete shit.

apart from going to see William Elliott Whitmore in the evening, i spent last sunday hand stamping ‘Hugging My Grudge’ seven inches. took me most of the day and then i had to get up early on monday to paste together some inserts for the single. there are two different ones, so completists can look forward to trying to find them both. and if you buy it from Rough Trade it will be a signed copy. then tonight we’re rehearsing for the shows coming up at the beginning of July and for a couple of radio sessions we’re hopefully doing in the next couple of weeks. the two gigs are at the Brixton Windmill on the fourth of July and at the Heavenly Social on the sixth. i think full addresses are on the concerts page of the website.

anyway, i’ve got to get on a train now. happy everyday x

13 June 2005

The evening wore on

Current listening: Scout Niblett - Kidnapped By Neptune

so. i haven’t written anything for over a month. no excuses. i guess there just wasn’t anything i wanted to write about. sometimes i just feel quiet. but today, i’m awake early and i feel like posting something. so much has happened since the last post and i can’t really remember what order it happened in, so this will probably be all over the place.

i bought the new Scout Niblett album a couple of weeks ago and i think it’s beautiful. i like it even more than the last one, which i really really liked. something about the way this new one sounds. it seems fuller somehow. i don’t know why it seems like that, there aren’t any extra instruments or anything. it’s just that with the last two albums it was almost as though she used what was missing from the sound as much as she used what was there, if that makes sense. it was the space around the sounds she used that seemed to define it as much as the sounds themselves. almost as if she used silence as an instrument. the emptiness and the space between the drums and the vocals was just as important as the drums and the vocals sometimes. but for some reason Kidnapped By Neptune doesn’t seem to have that space, even though a lot of it is still just drums and vocals. and so it sounds really different to the last album. it sounds full. and warmer too, softened almost. and as much as i loved the last two albums, this is the Scout Niblett album i needed right now in my life. my favourite song at the moment is ‘pompoms’. i like the line “everybody needs someone to spell out their name”. because everybody does.

other than that i’ve been listening to the first Magnolia Electric Co album, which Scout sings on as well. and a lot of the Go Betweens this week. and the new White Stripes album too. even though i don’t really need to listen to that at home because it seems to be playing in every shop i walk in to at the moment. and there are tons of other records coming out or already out that i haven’t got round to buying yet, but that i’m really excited about. like the new Saint Etienne album. and the new Go Betweens album. the new Malcolm Middleton album. the new Micah P Hinson album. and the Orange Juice compilation that’s coming out on Domino, even though reading the review in Plan B yesterday it seems there isn’t much new stuff on there. still, it’ll be nice to have all those songs on cd.

as i’m typing this i’ve got a video of Harvey playing in the background. it just got to that bit in the film when Elwood Dowd is talking to Miss Kelly and Doctor Sanderson about Harvey outside the bar in the alleyway, and so i thought i’d rewind it and put the quote in...

“Harvey and I sit in bars, and have a drink or two... play the jukebox.... and soon the faces of all the other people turn toward mine... and they smile. and they’re saying “we don’t know your name, mister, but you’re a very nice fella”... Harvey and I warm ourselves on all these golden moments. we’ve entered as strangers and soon we have friends. and they come over and they sit with us. they drink with us. they talk to us. they tell about the big terrible things they’ve done. and the big wonderful things they’ll do. their hopes and their regrets. their loves and their hates. all very large. because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar. and then... i introduce them to Harvey. and he’s bigger and grander than anything they offer me. and when they leave, they leave impressed. the same people seldom come back but that’s... that’s envy, my dear. there’s a little bit of envy in the best of us. and that’s too bad isn’t it.”

i like that. there’s a bit later on in the film when the taxi driver is telling Veta Louise about the difference between people before he’s taken them to the hospital and when he picks them up afterwards which i always liked too. i’ll put that in when it gets to it. but for now back to the weblog.

i went to see the Pipettes a couple of mondays ago at the Borderline. i hadn’t seen them for ages, so it was really good to see them again. they’ve got a new Pipette since i last saw them. i was worried that she wouldn’t suit the band. i’d heard she was a trained dancer. and it doesn’t always work when a band changes one of their original members, it seems a bit heartless sometimes. like finding out a nice cute puppy is capable of evil. but actually i thought it worked really well. she’s got a Welsh accent, which sounds great in the call and response bits. and the other two Pipettes looked happier, more confident with her up there. so no need to worry. and i spoke to Bobby on the phone yesterday and he’s going to be supporting us, as Monster Bobby, at the Water Rats in August, which is fantastic. really looking forward to it.

also last week we did a couple of photo shoots. the first one was for an American magazine called Permission. it’s only on its second issue, but the magazine looks really good. we did the photos on Clapham Common, south side. by a pond. in sunny weather at last. it was the best photo shoot ever. it only took ten minutes. and then we did an interview for the magazine. i think it’ll be in the next issue hopefully. and then on tuesday we did some more photos, this time in the warm summer sunshine in a field of freshly cut grass. perfect for that puffy eyed hay fever look. the polaroids of that looked okay too. i didn’t look too much like a troll. which is always encouraging.

then on wednesday we played at the Windmill in Brixton. it was the first time i’d played there but i’ve been down there a couple of times to see other bands and i’ve always really liked it as a venue. so i was looking forward to it. i think it went okay. we played ‘Monsters’ for only the second time live, and the sound onstage was pretty good which always helps. a big thank you to everyone who came down to see us. i think we’ll be playing down there again on Monday 4th of July, to coincide with ‘Hugging My Grudge’ coming out. and the other two days of last week we spent recording the new b side for ‘Be Gentle With Me’. it’s a song called ‘Rock Upon a Porch With You’, and Pete’s written a really nice xylophone bit for it. i think it’ll be a new favourite of mine when it’s finished. it’s already been given the Amanda Applewood seal of approval. i’ve got to finish off the lyrics this week so we can hopefully finish recording it by next week.

there's a message board up on the website now and hopefully we'll be putting up the video for 'Hugging My Grudge' in the next couple of days. oh, it’s just got to that other bit in the film i was writing about, so here’s another quote from Harvey...

“on the way out here they sit back and enjoy the ride. they talk to me. sometimes we stop and watch the sunsets and look at the birds flying. sometimes we stop to watch the birds when there ain’t no birds and look at the sunsets when it’s raining.”


yesterday i watched the two Richard Linklater films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. i’d seen Before Sunrise before, but it was a few years ago. so it was good to see that again and i thought i’d better watch it before i watched the sequel. and Before Sunset was really beautiful. i liked it even more than the first one. both the characters seemed to genuinely have changed in the time between the two films without really changing at all. the way that people do change but don’t really over time. because no one really changes that much in the end. whoever i was when i was young isn’t that different to whoever i am now. however i felt. my hopes and my dreams. most of them have stayed fairly constant. i think i still want pretty much the same things from life that i did when i was ten. i just feel a bit more peaceful. more accepting maybe. i like nice and i like simple. which reminds me of another bit in Harvey, when Elwood Dowd is explaining his kindly philosophy to the doctor and Miss Kelly. and he says “well. for years i was smart. now i recommend pleasant. you may quote me”. and i guess in Before Sunset, the two characters just seemed more comfortable with themselves, more comfortable with the way their lives were turning out. and even if their lives weren’t turning out the way they’d expected, it didn’t change who they were essentially. plus it was only 77 minutes long. perfect.

and the rest of the last month has been like that film. nothing much happened. but it was perfect. i won’t leave it so long next time x