Friday, August 21, 2009

Lyrics Again - Blue Roses, the album.

I've finally conceded to all the requests. Here they are in full:

Greatest Thoughts
This is the fortress that I built
Cold and uninviting
You stumbled on its stones last night
Beneath the trailing ivy.

These are the shoes that I had worn
It was on that day last winter when
You left me frozen and forlorn
I swore I'd never know you better.

But, oh! You did not know me at all
'Til you had seen me fight
With the dead of the night.

Still, you pulled me closer to your chest and
You were the one that I liked the best,
But I always thought that if someone loved me at all
They would give up the things that I detest.

I know that you'd never change a thing
Not for anyone or anything,
But when you cannot spare an hour won't you
Spare a thought for a dying flower.

But, oh! Who really knows you at all
If you cannot talk of your greatest thoughts?

Still, you pulled me closer to your chest and
You were the one that I loved best
So go to the fields and wait for me there
And I will show you the paths I used to tread.

High on the hill where the rain came down,
Punching its holes in the cold hard ground, well
I stood in your shadow
Jumping and starting at every sound.

Cover Your Tracks
Go, cover your tracks in the snow
Time is slow.
My hands are empty,
Go home.

Years, concrete and cold,
They stared me down.
Avoid town-
Hollow and empty
And falling down.

Oh, we searched all night
For a piece of bread,
And then when it comes
Give it to the birds instead.

Today he was here,
Holding my arms,
"All's not lost!
Your head's not empty!
Come home!"

Oh, I've searched all night
For a piece of bread,
And then when it comes
Give it to the birds instead.

I am leaving
When I decided
To live the rest of my life from a list
Of towns and cities,
And populations,
My home was silent.

My town was hidden somewhere in the dark
And a spark
Ignited my imagination.

Oh! gave me a clue somehow!
My days are so mis-spent now
I'm wasting my time
Worrying all about you.

Oh, soulless city!
Your changing skyline is twisting me up inside
I give away another minute.

All through the stations
I wonder whether constellations can change
A leaden sky, a heart unmoving
I'll tear up letters
I'll take some pictures from their frames
To make a story from the way I'm choosing.

Can't Sleep
When we sleep
The air is made of silence.
The light that cracks our windows
Is settling like dust
And while you dream I lie.
My eyes are staring upwards
Beyond this ceiling's heaven.
Is that where we're aspiring?
Or don't you know?

These are the days that bring me round again.
Tried to stop the sun from falling out of the sky
With my bare hands out.

Oh we ran and ran
You ask too many questions
The birds that sing at night time
They restored my faith in town but
For too long.

And God knows,
I want to write a love song
You asked me so nicely for one.
I promise I will do one
Before too long.

These are the days that bring me round again.
Tried to stop the sun from falling out of the sky
With my bare hands out.

Listen to me-
Oh my...oh my darling
I will never believe you again
But please start trying
'Cause I don't want to leave you.

Oh, from this day on
I promise I won't wish on
Anything unreachable,
Especially the stars,
'Cause they're too far away, yes.
They're too far away.
They're too far away.

I Wish I...
I called you and got what I deserved.
Heard that laughing in your words.
I wish that I could photograph my moods,
Show them to you,
Just to prove

Down in the town, I'm trying to prove something
But the clock hands won't move
So I'll go on singing about the same thing
And reading myself into books.

The roadside buildings are black-eyed and aged,
They can't see me anymore.
How would I mean anything to anything
Now I am not the hues in your city square puddles?

But when he touched my hand like it was gold,
I want to pull away and say,
"Look, it's only...
It's only made from plain old skin and bone
Don't try to give me credit you don't owe me!"

You've got your eye on the door.
This is what my life is for now.
I'll pray that you won't drop your anchor here.
We'll share our ancedotes from last time we spoke.
We'll never change.

Let's go out for a drive in your car
We don't have to go that far.
Let's try to find a road that we don't know
Till we don't know where we are.

And I can smell the bonfires in the street,
I want to say that I love you

But you've got your eye on the door.
This is what my life is for now.
I'll pray that you won't drop your anchor here.
We'll share our ancedotes from last time we spoke.
We'll never change.

Leave my house
Leave the troubles at the door
I need the coast of the East of England

He says "We're all going one day
Why cling on?"
I think that he and I will be saved.

I want to see the electricity
On the masts of the ships
As the storm builds.

Lighthouse beams-
I know where I am
By counting the flashes.

Years ago read that there were
Ghosts here.

I want to see the electricity
On the masts of the ships
As the storm builds.

Does Anyone Love Me Now?
(When we were on the way).
I know we're too far away when I see besteepled plains.
Nothing is concealed,
Nothing is revealed by the brow of a hill.
I believe in plans
And I believe in maps that you drew
Sitting next to me.

Two nights in a row
I didn't see the moon hanging in the sky
And I need its cool pale face
To believe in this place and believe your lies.

Imagination-go! And free me from your secrets-
Heavy and cold as stone.

Well does anyone love me?
'Cause I asked the deep sea,
But it wouldn't speak to me.
My darling I'm sorry.

And I tried so hard.
So long, so long.
By the time I woke up
Then you were gone.

And on the way back home
Our wandering eyes met fleetingly in window glass
And we're etched on a block of night.
Its something I will treasure
And you'll just let pass.

I will just lie in wait
If only to hear the stories
You don't seem to know how to tell.

Well does anyone love me?
'Cause I asked the deep sea,
But it wouldn't speak to me.
My darling I'm sorry.

Doubtful Comforts
When you come home tonight, my love
Will you take me out somewhere?

You're so good at getting my hopes up
Where they don't belong-
I can't reach them.

This is the place that appears in my mind,
Covered with orange lights,
That I've seen countless times.
When can we find a place where we'll stay for a while?
Till we come back in style.
Oh, they don't know the half of it.

Walls crumble and fall.
You don't have to carry the weight of it all.

I have come to realise
My bad memories
Were an indulgence of mine.

So I close my tired eyes-
Stop this train of thought.
Stop it dead in its tracks.

But will you put your faith in something
When you are afraid?
That's what we were taught-
To bow our heads and pray.

Turn yourself around.
You can do better Rebecca.
Turn yourself around.
Make yourself better Rebecca.

I can sit and try to conjure words,
But there is nothing left to prove to you.
Let me sit and watch you working-
I won't be a pain.
You will not notice me at all.

Gone like seasons
All wasted.
I did not hate winter
Like a child.

Imaginary Fights
I heard a song and remembered his bed.
Love alive and love dead.
I'll never believe in the things that you said,
Love alive and love dead.

A matter of time, yes,
I knew it would be.
Until there was a bad dream
In which you forgot about me
And cursed the stars
And cursed the sea,

But oh, how I hate it when you go,
So, I'll walk to the station.
I'll see you leave.
I'll see you leave.

Sixes and sevens, and dimly lit lights.
A lifetime full of sleepless nights.
Imaginary glimpses at imaginary fights.
You're better off leaving-
Just go in the night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What's not to love? Live and new Music 2009 - Part 12

I was reading the set-list and synopses of the bands booked to to appear at 'The End Of The Road 2009' and, while I might try listening to Herman Dune again it is a band that (and it is rare that I blog this) I found rather disappointing at 'Latitude 2007' not least for stating in between almost every song "We are Herman Dune", just in case we might otherwise forget or possibly want to. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, it's true, and I'd risk them again but only if there were no competition from a band that I have a burning desire to hear.

As it happens there are potentially many, not least ones that have played at Latitude over the 2007-9 period which, for one reason or another, I have missed out on. It could become something of a folk-roots-Americana fest, at least in so far as I'm concerned, but if that is what I want to hear then I will.
I've mentioned, in this regard, a couple of bands already but they are ones that I have not even had the opportunity to see before. One in the "missed" category is Okkervil River. I've long regretted failing to see them live at Latitude 2008, now only more so for discovering this album, which was also released in the US in 2008...

I can fix the first problem, as Okkervill River are playing 'End Of The Road 2009', but the above band is perhaps even more interesting; She Swings, She Sways are not appearing and I don't think this six-piece, all from south-east Iowa, have ever even toured in Europe before... but I hope they will do so soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Latitude - live with little comment...

Some more pictures from Latitude 2009 (unless noted otherwise) with little, if any, comment on each but if you want to know more about them either leave a comment (anonymously if you wish) or e-mail me.

Marina Diamandis live on the Lake Stage on Sunday.

D'où donc vient le danger - Caroline Martial? (One half of Kap Bambino...)

Hjaltalin - on the Uncut Arena on Sunday...

...followed by iLiKETRAiNS.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing...

'The more you have the more you look' is not quite the oxymoron that it might appear to be. Inquisition and acquisition, or at least the desire to do so, are little more than two sides of the same coin.
I mentioned Snowbird, Sleepless Night and Stephanie Dosen yesterday evening and I have just listened to Marissa Nadler - Little Hells (an album that only gets better on repeated listening) so, just now, this is another addition to my 'wants list' even though I was totally unaware of the artist or album this time yesterday evening...

..and not one particularly well known in the UK just now, I contend.

Will I like it?
I don't know, so I can't tell you as I've heard none of this album, or the artist for that matter, but I think so. That has to be the way of things, at least much of the time, because otherwise one would never buy, perhaps even hear and pay attention to, much that is new beyond the usual boundaries of radio or mainstream reviews.
I'll know whether my confidence is well placed, or indeed was not, in a fortnight or so when it arrives from the US. I could have had it slightly quicker and more cheaply had I gone for the CD option but since it was marginal and she is a UK artist why not, if for no reason other than to be contrary and because I like the format, have the original US vinyl release?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Snowbird In The Gardens Of The North - New Music 2009 - Part 11

This is the continuation of the topic that I mentioned in Music I Want - Part 10 - Infinite Light a week ago (yes, I have it now, it is that good but for a later post).
As I also mentioned then that August is supposed to be a quiet time for album releases; all I can say about that is I hate to imagine what the Autumn-Spring 2009/2010 might bring (aside from the inevitable crop of "festive releases").

No great revelation is this one, given that I'd already mentioned that Bella Union releases would be a theme even before I had a little strop last Friday concerning, amonst other things, the importance of independent labels...

I almost deleted that post yesterday but changed my mind in the end. I'm glad now that I let it be - it was written when it was written: I have never actually deleted a published post in its entirety which, given the blog title, makes sense to me as yesterday's thoughts might not be the same as today's thoughts.
More importantly perhaps, even at my age, occasionally throwing ones toys out of the pram is still - at the very least metaphorically - cathartic and as any child knows it is so much more satisfying to do it when there is an audience, be it a real or imaginary one.
This item is one well publicised and it is on pre-order from an independent retailer. It is the first full-length album from Sleeping States, released in the UK on 17 August by Bella Union, which is fronted by historically peripatetic, but currently Bristol-based, Markland Starkie who is yet another arist I must catch live as soon as possible.
Talking of artists signed to Bella Union in the UK here are two more that I want to see live - Fleet Foxes and The Low Anthem - and that is as near a certainty as is ever possible as they are both playing at 'End Of The Road 2009' and I'm going to that.

When I went to Latitude 2007 however, my first festival in decades, one of the artists who made an immediate impression on the Sunset Stage was then a rather little known singer-songwriter from rural Wisconsin, Stephanie Dosen, who had recently been signed by a label (guess which) that had then just released her second album. I still listen to 'A Lily For The Spectre' on rotation, which says a great deal. It does not, however, demonstrate just what an amazingly good live artist she is.

Why I didn't use this picture two years ago is now an utter mystery to me and I despair!
[Click to enlarge]

Be that as it may she is currently recording her third solo album, again for Bella Union, which should be released in the spring of 2010. The reason it has taken so long is that she's actually recording two albums at the same time - Snowbird is a collaboration between herself and, Bella Union co-founder and ex-Cocteau Twin,
Simon Raymonde (in partnership with Robin Guthrie, also of Cocteau Twins). Snowbird have played a few support gigs in the UK since the spring of this year and I haven't caught one of these yet but the potential is obvious.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Eutectic Point...

The MTV and Mercury Music awards are now both shortlisted, so it is that time of year again. I imagine that many in the major labels are wringing their hands although it is likely that they will score some successes in 2009 even if the personal cost might have been high for music industry executives in terms of bonuses.

'real world' --- aka 'the rest of us' --- because we've known exactly that for ages and were not paid a penny for our wisdom.
I'm happy living with my thought that that the industry is, finally, undergoing some kind of corporate cognitive therapy, resulting in a very slow transformation in terms of both self-awareness and of the changing situation. The issue is that depite (maybe even because of) the riches the-gravy-train that recorded-music history granted them for almost fifty years the magic has finally worn so thin as to have as-wide-an-appeal as a dried-out-tea-bag, awaiting its second-coming, in a student house.
It took, however, the better part of a decade for the industry to wake-up to, let alone make attempts at full engagement with, the new reality. My experience is that students learn such things much faster and probably because they simply have to.

The four major labels are certainly not out of the woods yet but at least they are trying. The real issue is that the decades of sycophantic hegemony are over; it is now a long-established industry under attack from more directions than merely those posed by the rise of illegal downloading alone. That is, however, a phenomenon that both they and the High Street music stores handled catastrophically: a case of corporate self-denial, in the face of a blindingly-obvious rapid change in circumstances, if ever there were one.
Many of the new threats are, and have every reason to remain, valid as they are quite legal and that too is largely a massive failure on the part of the existing players in the market. It is hard to say for sure but, had things been done differently and I'm not talking Draconian measures here, I can't help but think that the 'big-four' might not be in the situation in which they now find themselves.

Good luck independent labels - you are amongst the forces of the future!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

My America - 2009 in the 51st state...

In 2008 I was struck by the thought that much of the new music I really wanted actually needed to be imported (on vinyl or CD) from the US. That has continued unabated in 2009 but there is now a subtle change of emphasis. The two-way trade continues but now the bands are importing themselves, and I'm getting to hear them play live in the UK. I have no problem with it whatsoever and it is likely the result of a number of on-the face-of-it unrelated vectors. At the very end of 2008 I read an article that championed three New York bands, the by-line being that you should at least see one of them live in 2009.
Slightly before 2pm on 17th July some complete strangers, all several years younger than half of my age, loudly commented that they were now about to achieve this feat. I said nothing save "yeah, good band and strong songs on the album" (this was just before the band in question was on stage) and, possibly thinking I didn't know what was under discussion, they asked me really rather bluntly what I thought and, as I'd been eavesdropping in the inter regnum, they got it.

"Since you ask, I'm sorry to tell you that this is the last of the three for me." ('Telepathe' and 'School Of Seven Bells' being the others in question). I think I spoiled their ego-trip and, if sardonicism were a concept new to them, they have learnt about it now! After a few minutes of silent bravado they sidled away, crestfallen and unnoticed, which was how I got a front-row place to take this picture of 'Chairlift'.

On Saturday morning there was no sign of them when the band - that might now be regarded as the fourth in this category - was playing. I know that they were there, however, because I saw them leave, from near the back of the arena, at the end. They were clearly in no mood for a repeat of the previous day's meeting and were that a problem it was certainly not mine. I could hardly supress a wry smile!
I was exactly where I will be, if I am so minded, when 'Yes Giantess' were playing on the 'Sunset Arena' at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. They are now used to playing the most fashionable club venues in New York so you might think that ...

... perhaps a rather leaky, tented, stage in a Suffolk wood might just be anathema to them.

Well, no! The set was special, no doubt about it, even if the setting and context was slightly bizarre. The audience response was incredible, as witnessed by the fact that the band said as much without sounding remotely trite. Aside from my very slight, and it was no more than that, quibble almost everyone else that I met at Latidude was amazing. We might have talked total nonsense (and there is certainly no doubt about that): a paucity of peroration being very much the prevailing theme but so what does that matter?
I have plenty more Latitude 2009 highlights to mention and, if you don't know this already, pre-sales for Latitude 2010 go on sale on 1st September 2009.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Music I Want In 2009 - Part 10 - Infinite Light

Well we might not be getting 'the barbeque summer' that back in the spring we were promised would be ours to lift the mood, at least here in the rain-sodden UK, but not all is bad. August may traditionally be a quiet time for new releases, particularly of albums, but here are a few that I would like...
From Canada - and arguably where else - comes this.

Amber Webber and Joshua Wells - both also members of 'Black Mountain' - return with a second album release from their side-project 'Lightning Dust', the first of which was the self-titled album that I have mentioned before and, very importantly, still love to bits. Infinite Light is, as was the first album, released (yesterday in the UK and today in the US and Canada) by Jagjaguwar Records and is available on 12" LP, CD and download.

Now jump continents, and styles, as here is Sweden's First Aid Kit that was unfortunately a last-minute no-show at Latitude 2009. All is not lost on the live front as they are appearing at the 'End Of The Road Festival' in September, along with many other acts I want to see, and so I'll be there too.

Live at Puregroove Records, London. Better pictures soon I hope!

The 8-track 'Drunken Trees EP' (more of a mini-album really) is available on vinyl too and although in part currently best known for an act of breathtaking bravado --- covering Fleet Foxes' Tiger Mountain Peasant Song barely months after its original release --- they have thus been compared with Seattle's 'Fleet Foxes' and also their 2009 heirs and successors, Providence, RI based 'The Low Anthem' --- but they did more than simply got-away-with-it. Unlike the other two aforementioned, who are signed to Bella Union in the UK, they were snapped up by UK indie label Wichita Recordings.

Maybe, decades later, they still have somebody who can spot such things? I hope so...

I hear you singin' in the wire,
I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita lineman
Is still on the line.

Whatever the truth this recording suggests that they could get along just fine in such company because the self-written tracks are also pretty special too, so now the surprise factor...
They are two sisters from Stockholm, with a combined age of thirty-five and a remakable world-weary take on music for two so young. In a truly inspired piece of booking, doubtless done months ago when what I have just written was far from obvious, all three bands are on the bill for 'The End Of The Road'!

I've plenty more to add, including more fascinating developments in the pipeline from Bella Union, but this post is getting long enough and unfortunately I have rather more important, but much less interesting, things to do just now.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Live and local...

Thirteen days without live music... I can't remember when I last went so long but so what. Time then to get down to 'The Griffin' to catch one of the bands of 2009 live and up-close before it is too late to do so in such an intimate venue...

It is not much different to having a band play live in one's own living room, other than the performance issues and the fact that the 'The Griffin' also brews its own beers.
About the début album, and on authority as good as you can get, "in September, hopefully". That is on my next 'Want To Listen To...' list for sure.
There are some bands you really need to hear live. This is most certainly one of them but, almost needless to say, very few bands indeed come with an artist in residence...

...fewer still with one who can also be caught live in action.