October 2008 Archives
Recently when perusing a certain gig guide I came across a group who described themselves as 'Dystopian Space Rock' "mmm" I thought..."music genre no. 4357 has been created there". Well 'Old School Tie' are the antithesis to that particular group with music genre no. 4358 now to be known as 'Utopian Space Rock'.
I've been aware of Old School Tie for some time now, their 2006 release 'The Addict' shown some excellent potential, good solid post rock grooves with some high quality live recordings thrown in for good measure. In 2007 their 'You Borrow from Tomorrow' release cemented them (in my opinion) as aces in the genre, highly polished and melodic and worthy of comparison to groups such as 'Pelican', 'Mogwai', 'Mono' and more locally Birmingham's 'Una Corda' and 'Mothertrucker'.
When I received their new CD 'Mystery Sound Playground' I pressed the play button with some trepidation. What could this group do to surprise me now? How could they follow up 'You Borrow from Tomorrow' and keep it interesting? Well in a word 'Vocals'. So surprised was I at the quality of the vocals on this recording, I was left wondering why they kept their mouths shut for so long! If I could compare the vocal style to anyone it would probably be Coldplay's Chris Martin only less dreary and doom laden, oh yeah...and it sounds far superior!
The album has a euphoric, laid back, dreamy feel with their signature bubbling bass sound, intricate guitar melodies and layers. The drums are always holding varied rhythms on a solid medium pace which always gives the impression that the tracks are a little faster than they really are. The keyboard use throughout is used to high effect, providing that little bit extra to the sound, even providing a beautiful solo in the form of the track 'Walls' which reminds me ever so much of the striking minimalism of Brummy pianist 'Rich Batsford'. This is a 5 out of 5 album, no doubt!
Don't just take my word for it. Take a listen to them at their myspace page www.myspace.com/oldschooltie and breathe in their magnificence!
When I woke up on Monday morning I could not open my eyes because they were glued together with gunk.
When I eventually managed to prise my lids apart, having dabbed at them with a warm flannel for quite a while, I was horrified by what I saw.
There was no need for a Halloween mask for me. Staring back at me in the mirror was someone I barely recognised.
My sockets had swollen up like tennis balls and the eyes themselves had been reduced to red slits with pus oozing out of them. I had Conjunctivitis.
The strange thing was that I felt well in myself yet I figured I could not go into work because I was too ugly for human consumption.
Welcome to Brumcast Lite Show 5, with brand new tracks from Copter, Machine Boy, The Scarlet Harlots, and Gas - a fine mix of dynamite soul, electro pop, punk step, and ambient.
The BBC TV programme to be aired this evening on the UK's class system, hosted by John and Pauline Prescott, looks to answer a question that's been plaguing me for a while now: is it possible to have working-class values while living a middle-class lifestyle?
John Prescott claims to be able to spot who attended public school by 'their confidence, the way they speak, and the way they dress'. Not sure what he'd make of me, but I suspect on first meeting that he'd pigeon-hole me as grammar school material. In fact, I had very much a Comprehensive education, albeit within a specialist music school, and I'm very proud of the fact that my granddad at various times in his life was a miner, worked in a Singer sewing machine factory, and ended up as a foreman in a Clyde shipyard. My grannie's best friends were the offspring of Red Clydesider - hardly middle-class credentials.
Ran into Gemini (aka Bert Hackett), the recently-retired Birmingham Post cartoonist, at the weekend. Nothing too weird about that, you might think. Except that it was in the shop at the British Library, just round the corner from St Pancras Station. We were on our way back to catch a train and Bert was down for the weekend to stay with his daughter.
Years back I recall climbing on to an escalator on the underground and being aware of someone stepping on behind me. 'Dad!' came the excited cry. It was younger daughter. She was travelling from college in Portsmouth to Edinburgh to visit a friend hurt in a road crash. I was travelling to a magazine office to work and our paths crossed at that instant on that step of the escalator.
Government plans to introduce sex and relationship education into the curriculum from primary age seem to have received a very mixed welcome. For my money, it makes sense, although I can imagine Mary Whitehouse must be turning in her grave at the amount of prime-time broadcast coverage the S-E-X word has achieved.
I received all my education in Scotland, which admittedly does have a different system, but my primary school was particularly progressive. As a new build school with hitherto-unknown delights such as a wet play area (in reality, a trough filled with water and a few models of water wheels) and a psychedelic Colour Room for us to chill out in (that can only have been thought up by someone after a chemically-enhanced brainstorming session), in hindsight I suspect that us pupils were used as guinea pigs in a range of pedagogical experiments. For instance, it was only in our final year of primary school when the inter-school netball league kicked in that we discovered that we were the only kids in the area to sit formal exam-style tests each October, despite being lead to believe that everyone had to do them; the sense of betrayal from those in a position of authority has never quite left me.
One of the particularly forward-thinking parts of our curriculum was to show us, as a class of eight year olds, a film of a woman giving birth. The footage was in very grainy sepia tones (which led to the rumour that babies were poo-ed out), but certainly left a very deep impression on us all. Scare tactics may not always the best way to work with kids but I've often wondered if my classmates at Craigdhu Primary School had statistically fewer children than the national average.
Perhaps if we had been part of a longitudinal research piece, the current Government would know whether their forthcoming ideas will work.
Myself and my good lady have just come back from a few days in Tuscany, staying in Pisa with a trip to Florence by train (about an hour) thrown in. We went from Birmingham with a low-cost airline, which seemed unfeasibly cheap until the extras (ÃÂ£16 for booking with a debit card, ÃÂ£24 to take a case) started to pile on to the price, then it just seemed cheap. The restful trip didn't start too well when we found out that the airline has baggage weight restrictions much lower than you would normally expect, which lead to us swapping clothes between bags and at one point weighing a pair of jeans to see if they would have to be hand-luggage. After two hours of being mercilessly sold scratchcards we arrived safely, but with unresolved desire to rub coins over all silver paper we saw.
I like flying, especially now with airports so full to capacity that you get to walk out to the plane over the tarmac and feel like The Beatles or the Pope. I also really enjoyed overhearing "It looks just like Google maps" from someone looking out of the window as we took off. No doubt Google and the airline have a plan for overlaying adverts for local businesses.
I also like Italy although, at the risk of coming over all Clarkson, I've never understood the European obsession with Snoopy. The dullest character in a fairly dull comic strip, and yet the first bit of graffiti we see beside the train track is the small white hound. He's also on many a sweatshirt to be sold around tourist attractions, with his twin pillar of American marketed cartooniness Bart Simpson (the dullest character in what I'll admit is/was a brilliant show). What Bart and Snoopy are doing here is called 'Pisa Posing' or 'Pushing the Tower' - that is standing in between your mate with a camera and the tower and trying to line yourself up so it looks like you're interacting with the round leany thing.
The odd person pretends to hold it in their hand, some hug, but most either hold it up or push it over (an interesting psychological distinction, anyone want to fund a long research paper into it?). Of course, they're only trying to look as if they're doing it from the angle of their mate taking the photo. Which means the area is filled with people doing crap tai-chi. It looks like the biggest mine convention in Italy. It looks brilliant. I spent a good couple of hours taking pictures of them from the 'wrong' angle, and chuckling manically to myself. There's a Flickr group dedicated to it, as there is these days for everything.
Well after I discovered that Copter had made their new album free for download last week, this week a real treat for you all. Miss Halliwell (no, not Geri) have made both EPs that they released earlier this year, 'Imp-Imperfection' and 'Pre-dateoralbum Launch Party' free to download on their own Shabby Records archive page which can be found right here.
Now I could bore anyone to death going on about how good this trio are, and their extremely quotable lyrics. Now I don't have to. Download the EPs and see for yourself. All comes with artwork too! Please look to donate them a few quid!
If you're a myspace user you can keep up to date with their latest gig info and goings on and all that here. They are playing next at Katie Fitzgeralds in Stourbridge on October 27th which will be a live audio and video recording. Give them some support!
So, the thought for the day is Poverty. It's Blog Action Day 08 and the all-too-appropriate theme is poverty.
I've been musing on this all day, and I'm really not sure what I can add to other posts I've read on credit crunch, mortgage misery, or financial failings - maths was never my strongest subject.
But what has hit me is that poverty isn't really about money. Let me explain.
One of the most life-changing things I've ever done was to visit Khayelitsha, one of the massive townships outside Cape Town. Poverty doesn't even begin to describe the conditions that some of the locals were living in. We heard some horrific stories, including the women who insert Femidoms before walking home at night, figuring that they can't do anything to stop being raped but they could do something to stop them contracting HIV.
Is it beyond the realms of possibility that former Genesis frontman and general world-saver, Peter Gabriel, and Ex Cathedra director Jeffrey Skidmore are brothers?