Monday, May 31, 2010

Eurovision 2010 live thoughts...

I've tried to write about Eurovision after the event before and it never seems to work out.
This time, apart from mentioning that I think that Norway put on a very impressive show with its use of lighting and the transparent stage, here are some of my thoughts, written live in pencil and on the back of the cover letter to a gas bill.

It'll be hard to read, harder still to understand, but that is the price you pay for what was very much live commentary.  There was good and there was bad and then, in the case of the UK contribution, the utterly forgettable.
As you can see I had not done much advance planning for this new concept beyond having 'an old Neil Young record and a bottle of red' to hand in case of emergency: a ploy suggested by Thea Gilmore on 'Harpo's Ghost' (2008).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Between Day and Dream' or 'The Drifter and the Gypsy'

To whosoever asked if I think that two of the problems in the music industry are the lack of new artists and the hegemony of the four major labels. I am delighted to say no; rather the opposite in fact and this is why.
I was then challenged to name five acts or artists that fall in to this category and in the specified musical theme, which was female vocals and a principally acoustic milieu.  I decided to narrow it down to just five nascent New York based female artists or female-fronted acts - vaguely following the theme of yesterday's post and that actually turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it might be but not for the reason that I had anticipated.

Lack of choice was not the problem; to do so from a short list of (just) twenty was a challenge and isn't the real issue rather the opposite of the question that was asked? Plenty of talented artists who are either not signed at all or, if they are, to progressive independent labels. In my opinion independent labels are the future so that aspect is not a problem at all.

These are the five that I chose in no particular order. It was a tough call, often hearing only a song or at most two from each contender, and I intend to pursue this theme in more detail soon. I'm not aware that any of them are currently particularly well known in the UK.

Rachel Platten

Sarah Solovay

Rachel A. Brown

Rosi Golan "The Drifter and The Gypsy"

Chloé Temtchine "Between Day and Dream"

Now imagine had I tried to do the same for the of the other thirty-something regional categories, in just this one exposition, what other treasures might I have found?  That is my inspiration.

New Music 2010 - albums, festivals and things

Don't second guess your feelings
you were right from the start.
And I noticed she's your lover
but she's nowhere near your heart.

This city is for strangers
like the sky is for the stars.
I think it's very dangerous
if we do not take what's ours.

It is true that I have written little in the last fortnight but that is in large part because I have been listening to and reading about new music. But not just new music, as the above lyric implies...

Some cities come round again and again; and New York is one of them. Only by luck did I happen to catch some of Jamay (Jaime Seerman) at Latitude 2007 - I had never heard of her then but the lyrics above are from 'Blue or Gray' on her album Autumn Fallin'. One that I then bought and have never forgotten. In many ways I am far better informed these days, which is mostly good, but the thrill of discovering quite unknown acts at a festival is not something I would wish to forgo. Another New York band, that I am already aware of so the foregoing does not really apply, is this:

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, recently added to the line up for Latitude 2010, is one I'd much wished to hear live though did not expect to and this was, in my opinion, one much under-rated album of 2009. 
Levelled against it is that it is not particularly original - shoe-gaze circa 1986 being something I read as a criticism. Well the band members are certainly not old enough to remember that first time around and so, although it seems to have passed me by, I see no reason not to take it at face value now and given the more recent EP (the excellent 'Higher Than The Stars') it is something that I'm now even less inclined to concern myself about.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lonely Is The Word

Lonely Is The Word

It's a long way to nowhere
And I'm leaving very soon
On the way we pass so close
To the back side of the moon

Come join the traveller
If you've got nowhere to go
Hang your head and take my hand
It's the only road I know

Oh, lonely is the word

I've been higher than stardust
I've been seen upon the sun
I used to count in millions then
Now I only count in ones
Come join the traveller
If you've got nowhere to go
Hang your head and take my hand
It's the only road I know

Got to be the saddest sound I've ever heard
Yeah, lonely is the name
Maybe life's a losing game.

Ronnie James Dio (July 10, 1942 - May 16, 2010) holds a remarkable place in heavy metal and heavy rock history. When Ritchie Blackmore walked away from the extremely successful Deep Purple to found a solo project, as he felt his bandmates were taking a bad direction, he was doubly fortunate. Firstly he was able to recruit RJD to his band that would début with the album 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow' in 1975. It was phenomenally good, very influential and there were three things that really matter here:

  • Blackmore and Dio clicked, sharing similar ambition.
  • Blackmore could write heavy rock music, Dio could both write and sing the lyrics to go with it.
  • They were both phenomenal virtuoso guitarists, giving Rainbow something that Deep Purple never quite had.
Rainbow were to record three almost flawless albums with Dio, during the UK Punk period that was then making life very difficult for heavy rock/metal. That was not to be the end of Dio however for when Ozzy Osbourne quit the increasingly fossilized Black Sabbath the others quickly recruited him and the result was another remarkable album.
The Black Sabbath albums, 'Black Sabbath' and 'Paranoid' (both 1970) still stand the test of time but so does 'Heaven and Hell' (1980), which marked a return to favour for the band and another level of achievement.
Music and arrangement is credited to all four band members, and it is something of a departure from the previous albums, but all lyrics are credited to Dio - and in those it shows. Never before had Sabbath revealed something so credible, yet elegantly elegiac, as Lonely Is The Word. It is the last track on 'Heaven and Hell'.

More importantly, given his track record, and I feel that this issue is understated in importance as well as the second in which Blackmore was prescient; Dio was an American in a genre that until that point had been largely been dominated by either UK or German (sometimes co-operative such as UFO) heavy rock/metal. Had that not been the case then I rather doubt that the situation would be as it is now, on either side of the Atlantic.

We sailed across the air
Before we learned to fly
We thought that it could never end
We'd glide above the ground
Before we learned to run
Now it seems our world has come undone.

I can only try to imagine how much time I spent listening to music like this in my college years and now I don't regret it for a moment.

We can but mourn knowing
Heaven rocks tonight.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thoughts on blogging

If this seems a strange post then please let me explain...

There seem to be many new recruits to this part of the social network revolution in the last few months. Many of them have just started, written one or two posts, and then started to ask questions about blogging. I have, either directly or not, been on the receiving end of some of them...

Many things are common to all internet activities:

  • Don't give personal details recklessly. If in any doubt at all then don't.
  • Never EVER give bank details, passwords or anything similar.
  • If something or someone concerns you, report it AT ONCE.
If you allow comments to your blog, and I do because I think it important that people can comment, then I suggest you choose settings such that you get to review and approve or delete (moderate) them before they appear. I have not yet (in 3½ years) had to delete one because it was in any way offensive but I have declined to publish a few that were totally irrelevant. Others comprised links composed of Chinese script, the content and relevance of which I am unfortunately unable to judge on merit, so I had no option but to reject in ignorance.

  • It is a two way game. Trouble is generally found where trouble looks.
  • Having opinions is what a blog is all about but not everyone will agree with you.
  • If you are reasonable and principled then your respondents will probably be likewise.
If that all sounds a bit gloomy, and rather like advice that you heard at school, then I apologize! Blogging is great. I started out of curiosity and never, ever thought that I'd keep it up beyond a few posts.

That was in September 2006 and I have thus found way more music than I would otherwise have done; of that there is no doubt.
Although indirectly, because I was reading and writing about music, I have met so many people often in the real world as a result of my blog. If I had not started it I doubt that I would have committed to going to festivals again...

As this, when I click 'PUBLISH' [and if you are reading this then I have and it has worked], will by my 452nd published post and I'm beginning to think that it wasn't a mistake to start. I also read a lot of other people's blogs now, so just blog if you want and if it suits you keep it going...


Friday, May 07, 2010

Fields of June - lyrics

I detect a theme this week and if the prominence of lyrics of tracks by Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo is surprising you - the requests for them are certainly surprising me - then please, please try and track down the two albums. This track, Fields of June, is from the earlier of the two and that is Photos, Fires, Fables. It is unusually a call-response duet; the male vocals are provided by Steven Adams of The Broken Family Band while Emily sings the female ones and also plays banjo.

Fields of June

The sky is grey now not blue, she doesn't love me like she used to
there's a cold wind blowing in these trees along the track
She doesn't love me love me like she used to.

Today I told my darling in the fields of June
that I do not love him like I used to
Well the wind began to blow and the sky turned from blue
when I told him that I do not love him like I used to.

Chorus 1:
I burnt my hands trying for our love
and I broke my nails too
so now do not accuse me of going back on our vow
I'm gonna bury you in the fields of June.

How the hell did it ever come to this? How does she not love me like before?
I'm lonely and I'm sorry and I don't know what to do since she told me
that she doesn't love me used like she used to.

Well baby I have reasons that you never listen to as to why
I do not love you like before
And you might be sorry and not know what to do but don't
bother me for I do not love you like I used to.

Chorus 2:
But I broke my hands trying for our love
and if you go I'll split in two
so don't you leave me now and don't go back on our vow
and don't you bury me in these fields of June.

Chorus 2: (repeat)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Hi ho voter priming.

We have, here in the UK , for better or for worse just elected a new government. Voting closed a couple of hours ago and at this time we have no idea what we have done or indeed any clear consensus of what, as a nation, we wished to do... It is going to be a long night and who can predict the outcome? It certainly matters but, importantly, I just love election night even when the result is generally predictable. It is the best, and shortest, reality contest!

It is well summarized by the title of the 2001 album by Seattle band Death Cab For Cutie: 'We Have The Facts And We Are Voting Yes'. Words that sensibly tell us everything in general and nothing in particular; so thus nothing has changed and yet there could be words of wisdom within.

There's nothing new (and with apologies and appreciation to Scott English and Larry Weiss for the lyric to their 1967 song) but, trust me - heard that before? - that this is multi-partisan and applies to all of them, even the maleficent man in his flying machine: strange transport related accidents can strike at any time.

[For older readers only: David Cameron and Nick Clegg are both younger than I am.]

Hi Ho Silver Lining

You're everywhere and nowhere baby, that's where you're at
Running down a bumpy hillside, in your hippy hat
Flying across the country, and getting fat
Saying everything is groovy, when your tires are flat

And it's high ho silver lining, no matter where you go now baby
I see your sun is shining
But I won't make a fuss, though it's obvious

Flies are in your pea soup baby, they're waving at me
Anything you want is yours now, only nothing is for free
Lies are gonna get you someday, just wait and see
So open up your beach umbrella, while you're watching TV

And it's high ho silver lining, no matter where you go now baby
I see your sun is shining
But I won't make a fuss, though it's obvious

And it's high ho silver lining, no matter where you go now baby
I see your sun is shining
But I won't make a fuss, though it's obvious

And it's high ho silver lining, no matter where you go now baby
I see your sun is shining
But I won't make a fuss, though it's obvious

And it's high ho silver lining, no matter where you go now baby
I see your sun is shining
But I won't make a fuss, though it's obvious

Tomorrow is another day and another download. Next Sunday's UK #1 single anyone?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

There's a blackbird singing. It's the coming of the spring.

Oh lyrics, oh lyrics!
It is always interesting when someone pitches a question about lyrics and this has been some week for that! Of course this is none more welcome than when they are by an artist or act that I really believe should be better known - in this case Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo.


There's a blackbird singing from a winter tree and his tune is soft and
haunting, it's the coming of the spring
All the leaves are being restored and the vagaries getting bored
there are new dreams on the way.

There's a road that I walked down just the other day
and it forbid me turning around, I admit I lost my way
and then I heard you like a whisper, telling me to keep on straight.
that mistakes are like like dirt and in time they'll wipe away.

There's a clock and many seas that come between you and me
but the hours are weak and the water isn't deep.

There was an arguing ensuing and I was in the wrong
there were words being thrown like bullets from a gun.
And then into the equation shone the light of your good self
everything was redeemed, you put that fight on the shelf.
And now those valley stars shine like a jury up above
and when I don't know where I'm at, at least I know

where I'm from...

I need you to love me
And help me when I'm losing
And in return I will love you
and help when you don't win.

There's a leaf that is skirting across the pavement grey
you're the soul beneath my shoe and you ride the words I say
and when the blackbird sings he reminds me from his tree
that we always gain more than we lose though at times
it seems the other way.

There's a clock and many seas that come between you and me
but the hours are weak and the water isn't deep.


If you have any doubt about just how good this is then try and catch them live.

Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo live at End The Road Festival 2009.

If it comes to casting a vote for those that deserve to be given a chance on the greater stage then I'm not unwilling to nail my flag to a tree. Music certainly is not politics but at their best, in their ability to unite or divide, they aren't that different either.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hada de las flores

As we seem to be much involved with song lyrics here is another, except that it is a poem by Peruvian José María Eguren (1874 - 1942).

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, which is hardly something that would have happened otherwise and it is some time since I have indulged in foreign language lyrics. I'm not sure how or why we ended up here but then that is part of the pleasure of writing a blog.
You have to believe it, as I do, because if it were any other way I'd have quit after the first few posts just like I thought I would!


En el pasadizo nebuloso
cual mágico sueño de Estambul,
su perfil presenta destelloso
la niña de la lámpara azul.

Ágil y risueña se insinúa,
y su llama seductora brilla,
tiembla en su cabello la garúa
de la playa de la maravilla.

Con voz infantil y melodiosa
en fresco aroma de abedul,
habla de una vida milagrosa
la niña de la lámpara azul.

Con cálidos ojos de dulzura
y besos de amor matutino,
me ofrece la bella criatura
un mágico y celeste camino.

De encantación en un derroche,
hiende leda, vaporoso tul;
y me guía a través de la noche
la niña de la lámpara azul.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Alpha Shallows

Another lyric asked for...

Alpha Shallows

He could fall and shake and weep
By his holy are my feet
And heart with mention the dear that may not speak
We feel tight when there is tension
And our eyes can make us weep

And his heart was full of fire
And the man he had become
And his soul was seldom higher
With the falsities of fun
Could embrace sweet desires in moments as they pass
But he feared ever more. He saw it didn't last

We walk up Holland Avenue
And watch the rich as they consume
That product made our hearts exhume
An emptiness unrivalled by
The Hunger that could control
He'd pray up to his God that he might save their soul.

The grey in this city is too much to bear
The grey in this city is too much to bear
And I believe we are meant to be seen
And not to be understood

And I want to be held by those arms
I want to be held by those arms

You'll work your thumbs 'till they're sore
And you'll work my heart until it's raw
And you'll call, and you'll call, but you'll never be told
And I'll fall and I'll fall and I'll fall
And I'll fall and I'll fall and I'll fall

We are basic light, we are basic light.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

She Walks Beautiful

Lyrics: where would we be without them? Thank-you for asking and this is still my favourite track on the (much under-rated) album 'My Paper Made Men' and was, as far as I know, never a single but in these downloading days who knows what might happen.

She Walks Beautiful
She walks alone
And when she loves her love is her own
She don't need a man
She won't stand by what she can't stand

Like whited walls
You all stand in line
And watch her pass you by
She knows her sins
With humility and reaches for the light.

With aching knees and back
The weight is hard to bear
But she carries it with a smile.

She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
By herself
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
By herself

She walks alone
She's not invited to parties
So she throws her own
All alone to feel the highs
She bears the lows.

She doesn't call out like the others
In the night
In despair and loneliness.

She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
By herself
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
By herself
Adieh, adieh, adieh. Aow!

She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
She walks beautiful
By herself.

Adieh, adieh, adieh. Aow!

This really should have been a single. It would make a rather interesting BBC Radio 1 'live lounge' cover. The thing is I'm not sure who I'd wish to hear attempting a makeover - it could go either way.

For thoughts on the album 'My Paper Made Men' see here: