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31 August 2007

some clouds have brass linings

we went up to manchester yesterday to record some songs with the grimethorpe colliery band for our album. they were really lovely people, and they sounded amazing. it was absolutely the perfect sound for the songs, and it's nice to be able to have nice people playing the instruments on our records.

and then afterwards we had to wait around for a couple of hours for our train so we went to the balcony bar in manchester piccadilly station and played on the top of the pops quiz machine. we only put a couple of pounds in and we won eighteen. it was just like when we were young and we used to go between the three pubs in winchester that had top of the pops quiz machines winning the money for our night out. it's nice to know we've still got it.

anyway, here is a short video of pete and the brass musicians working out the parts to 'the boy with two hearts', and jamie pretending to alter the position of a microphone just so he can be in the video too.


29 August 2007

land of hope and bloody glory

it's nearly the end of august, almost a year since hugging my grudge came out as a single. we've been mixing the new album for the last couple of weeks now. i can't always be here at the moment, but pete and jamie are doing a lovely job without me, and i'm coming in to the studio whenever i can. we're halfway through mixing the fourth song, which is actually the last song on the album. i'm really happy with what we've mixed so far. i just hope other people like it, i didn't used to care when we were making the first album because i didn't expect anyone to ever hear it, but i guess i'm a bit more aware of caring about this one because i want everyone that liked the first album to like this one just as much.

on monday someone came in to play fiddle on three tracks and then tomorrow we'll be recording all the brass sections. i'm very excited about the brass because we're going up to a studio in manchester to record with the grimethorpe colliery band. i think they'll be perfect for the sort of brass we want on the album. we want it to be quite sweet and mournful and sad, a bit like the brass in the flumps. and as soon as we decided we were going to be having brass on some of the songs we knew that we wanted the grimethorpe colliery band to play on them, so it's really nice that it's been made possible. we'll try and film some of the recording if we can and put it up somewhere.

my brother has started doing some drawings for the artwork as well, and they look amazing. there's a drawing of a machine that he's been working on for a month or so that i really love. it's so nice when everything starts to take shape.

and we moved to a new studio last week, we didn't move very far, just next door, but it's bigger and there's more space for all our silly instruments and we can rehearse in here too hopefully. and it's got a parrot fish in it that we don't really know what to do with. he seems quite happy though, if a little bit fat.


08 August 2007

thank god for kids that love obscure things

"i may be small but i know i'm right for you
no big cowboy can do the little things i do"

lee hazlewood died on saturday. i didn't know about it until monday though. i guess i was kind of expecting him to die because he'd been ill for a few years, but it's still sad. and it made me think about him. he's one of my favourite songwriters ever. he seemed to be able to write pop songs about absolutely anything. his songs always seemed to be as dark and sorrowful as they were ridiculous and silly and romantic. and i guess that always appealed to me. and he wrote about death a lot, and i like songs about death because they usually end up being more about life. i guess you understand one better by thinking about the other.

i discovered lee hazlewood by accident one sunday when i was at a car boot sale, which is where i used to be most sundays when i was younger, buying cheap records. and i saw a box of records for two pounds each, which was quite expensive for albums at a car boot sale, so i was probably only half heartedly flicking through them. i didn't usually spend more than a pound on a record, if i was going to spend two then it would have to be something pretty special. i think the most i ever paid for a record at a car boot sale was five pounds, for a copy of the first solo album by kevin rowland, and that's just because i'd never seen it anywhere ever before. and i've never seen it anywhere ever since either so it's lucky i did, even if it's a bit crap. anyway, i was flicking through this box of records. me and pete always used to laugh if someone said they were flicking through some records, because i think we thought it sounded a bit rude. it doesn't seem that rude or that funny now. anyway, there was this box of records that were two pounds each and i wasn't really that interested in them, until i came across a copy of the first nancy and lee album. i hadn't ever heard of them before but i knew nancy sinatra because of these boots are made for walkin and i was really into sixties girl singers like sandie shaw and petula clark and i'd been thinking i might try and get hold of some more nancy sinatra stuff if i saw it anywhere so i decided that maybe this was something worth paying the extra pound for, and nancy and lee both looked amazing on the cover. so i picked it out and carried on flicking through. i wonder if pete still finds that funny. anyway, i carried on flicking through and i found the second nancy and lee album, nancy and lee again. and again they both looked amazing on the cover and it was in really nice condition and i figured that if i was going to buy one then i might as well buy both, so i did. and when i got them home i listened to them while i was painting my bedroom ceiling. and they turned out to be two of the most beautiful and funny and sad pop albums i'd ever heard.

and after that i was obsessed with the songs of lee hazlewood. and i bought everything i could find. i think i nearly finished my collection last time we were in america, because a lot of it is only available in the uk on import. i'm still short of a few things though. my favourite two songs of his are feathers, off the poet, fool or bum album and congratulations, the song he did with nancy on their second album. there are so many others like some velvet morning and sugar town and sand and my autumn's done come and summer wine and easy and me that i love too, as well as all the songs he sang that he didn't write like did you ever and jackson, but feathers and congratulations i've always loved just that little bit more.

i'll write again soon about everything we've been doing for the last couple of months, but i just wanted to write something about lee hazlewood because he wrote pop songs the way i always wished i could. and because he's died and it's sad.

it's a funny thing to be sad when someone you don't know dies.