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Pesky Indie Kids .. September 3, 2008

Posted by stagedive in Music, Reviews.
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I kept reading about Vampire Weekend and ignored them. I’d heard all I needed to hear on ‘da radio and they sounded twee and somewhat lacking a USP. I aquired a copy of the self titled album and placed the needle on the iPod – infectious, articulate, upbeat, considered … and lots of other superlatives. It’s one of those great lost arts of making an album better than the sum of it’s parts. The two or three singles that I was familiar with, sounded a bit inane on their own, but put together I am leaping round the continuous repeat button like a sprightly teenager. Well done boys, well done …

I don’t even want to mention Noah & the Whale in this post, they are just too lovable to mention … just when I thought it was safe to listen to the Dennis Wilson re-issue, I get distracted again …

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What time is love? July 21, 2008

Posted by stagedive in Holiday, Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music, Reviews, Travel.
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It’s been almost a week since I last put pen to paper on here .. I was so inspired by a Monday back at work after a week out that even looking at blog searches from a year ago inspired me.

Whats happened?? 20th Nov last year 31,517 people looked at these pages in one day – thats about a 5000% increase on when I actually wrote anything on here that (I thought) had meaning. If only working life was like that, you take some time out and the worker pixies press buttons for you .. if only. It was a search on panda eyes or something. There was me thinking the only person that read this was gf linking through to Annie Rhiannon’s site cos she is too lazy to bookmark it.

Tips brain contents out onto page so can look back and remember some of this in a year from now ..

We went on a fantastic long holiday and I meant to write about it, Moscow, across Russia, Mongolia, drank Yak’s milk, Beijing, Shanghai, celebrated National Day, Hong Kong, then home .. I even took some notes at the time to get the blog motors rolling, it seems so long ago.

We had a romantic weekend in Bratislava too for gf’s birthday. Lovely place & the best hot chocolate in the whole world ever. I didn’t think it were possible to get that excited about hot chocolate, but it is! A trip across the border to Vienna for the day, without my passport – life on the edge, the closest I get to being a bond villain.

A lovely trip to Canadia to see the in-law’s. The Ontario winter was a sight. I got to drive the Bobcat – I was momentarily ‘Mr Plough’, but alas I wasn’t there long enough to develop my obvious natural ability for a change in career. Two days cross country skiiing by Lake Pigeon in a little log cabin too, it’s harder than it looks.

A rejuvenated TFC had a couple of gigs, one at the Islington Academy with shiny new line-up. I always promised myself I would never be in a band with keyboards, oh the shame I have brought upon this humble home, but that’s another promise broken ..

Went to Latitude with the kids last weekend. Got dirty and didn’t care .. Saw a whole bunch of bands that I hadn’t heard of, watched a whole load of kids walk round with T-Shirts of bands that I hadn’t heard of. It was a great weekend. My shoulders are a different shape from carrying youngest son on shoulders for the enitire (almost) Elbow set down the front. They even had showers this year that worked & toilets that were bearable. Highlights were largely in the Comedy & Literature tents with Russell Howard topping the stand up list & Colin Watson at the Book Club just being mesmiringly mental & taking lots of laughs. I also saw Attila for a bit of left wing nostalgia who was bang on form. Musically, Elbow, Death Cab for Cutie, Joanna Newsome & Okkerville River all ruled.

Booked a bunch of holidays this year … at last. There was a worrying few weeks where we had nothing booked and a bleak horizon of work and no play. The sun is shining again though & in this house the summer starts next week, officially.

You are my Guitar Hero .. November 20, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music.
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Six Strings is the new gold .. Woo Hoo .. Guitars are the currency of the futire and a definite sound (ahem) investment, so says today’s Guardian ..

Now all my slightly lightweight excuses that I do need 7 guitars that I dont’s play are fully justified by accountants. Yo to life ..

Rebellion .. June 6, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Kids, Music, Reviews.
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index2003_r1_c4.jpgSo you think you are a punk? Well no, not really, but picture the scene ..

I am sitting at one PC watching the very entertaining American Hardcore*, grinning at the Jerry’s Kids live set and some in-depth interviews with Ian and Henry .. I even sang along with Minor Threat a little just to get into the mood ..

My youngest Son is listening to JAMES BLUNT on Bebo .. those three wise men can shove their semi’s somewhere unpleasant ..

I am sure their will be some role reversal come the teenage years, but frankly, I might need to beat this phase out of him ..

 * Great film for nostalgia, focuses a little too much on the West Coast for my liking, but a lot of grainy snippets of live footage that I could watch for weeks on end. Look forward to seeing the extras on the DVD.

Isopropyl .. April 26, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music, My Girlfriend.
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Say hello, wave goodbye ..

150px-isopropanol-3d-vdw.pngIt is the end of an era .. in days of old, when ships set sail to restore England’s pride, I bought a smoky brown glass jar of Isopropyl Alcohol from Boots Chemist for £3.69 (I know cos the label is still on it) on recommendation of the geeky looking guy in the hi-fi shop .. I was a mere teenager and audio cassettes were the de rigour .. I used to record loads of trite off the radio and had just started getting into four track home recording on my Tascam Porta 1 .. ahh those were the days ..

To clean the cassette heads you used to have to get a cotton bud, dip it in the alcohol and rub all the dirt and grime away before you made your masterpiece .. the smell is instant and recognisable, like a mix of pencil smells & clinical institutions ..

Anyway .. I’ve kept that self same bottle of Alcohol on the shelf for all those years, it saw me through leaving home, came with me to college, my first real home, having kids (I think that’s when it went to the high shelf) through to today .. but needs must .. I was clearing space out for girls stuff ‘well where am I going to put my stuff?’, said T, with what I have to admit was a reasonable degree of concern and empathy* .. the junk had to go .. I had ditched the audio cassettes some 3 or 4 years ago, but the Isopropyl stood for so much more ..

It is now no longer. Where the bottle once stood, now stands girls stuff .. disposable stuff that will probably be out of favour in a few months and replaced by the seasons’ hot trends .. tee hee .. so long big brown bottle, you have been good to me ..

* It’s because she is worth it ..

BMG, Justin & Me .. April 23, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music, Reviews.
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220px-avrilgfdl.jpgIt’s a small victory, if a victory at all, but the only publishing music contract that I still have is with Complete Music. This was for some songs that I wrote for Ipswich Town FC and the Cherry Red Record that bore their fruit. It’s not lucrative in the Robbie Williams sense of the word and I would be hard pushed to keep myself in Wine Gums from the revenue, but that’s hardly the point ..

The other day I received a letter in the post to say that Sony/BMG had bought up Complete Music, and that all the songs are now owned by BMG publishing .. woo hoo .. BMG is the biggest baddest Music compony going and one that you would run a mile from to retain your false indie credibilities, but I’m no longer Citizen Smith in that department, so the small victory now sees me sharing publishers with Avril Lavigne and Justin Timberlake amongst others .. I can picture it now, they are bound to invite me round for lunch sometime soon .. maybe ..

In no particular order .. March 12, 2007

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It’s not that I haven’t had the urge to write, nor that I haven’t set time aside, but something always seemed to get in the way that was way more important. In the past week or two I have mostly been doing some or more of the following;

  • I have eaten out on three occasions, starting with a birthday bash in the ‘Japenese Fusion’ (whatever that means) of Aqua 8> This turned out to be a really nice looking building with decor reminiscent of a Tony Soprano owned establishment. The atmosphere was upbeat and the food was good. It was pretty pricey for what was offered, but it has all the hallmarks of something better than a provincial town. What followed was lots of booze and dancing around with Tulips – people have video phone these days too and dancing with Tulips when you are pissed, never quite looks as stylish as you think it did at the time..
  • Another someones birthday took me to Mizu .. which is owned by the same people as Aqua Eight, only its a cheap and quick noodle bar version. Seemingly, their excellent food has been dressed down and moved to the up-market younger brother .. it might be me but the food seemed a bit bland to what it was and the plates have all gotten smaller .. why do they do that?! The birthday girl had a Salsa evening and I strutted all the moves I know* & left quickly afterwards ..
  •  I took my 93 year old Aunt out for Sunday lunch with my Mum and Brother. We went to the Cornwallis resturant in the Countryside. I was amazed how completely together she is, witty and mentally sharp. She is still sarcastic and in on the jokes, not only the general ones, but also the subtle piss taking – I hope I am still like that at her age. I also got upset thinking how much she reminds me of my Dad. I only tend to think of my Dadin a happy light (he died 12 years ago), but seeing the way she glanced at me in exactly the same way as my Dad used to was a bit full on in terms of  emotion. Inevitable as she is the only surviving relative on that side of my family, but when she felt ill towards the end of the afternoon and struggled for breath, it was a step closer to panic that I reached. She recovered when she got home and was really appreciative of the day and gave me a big hug – she is great..
  • I cared for 2 sick children. Both my kids got fever and felt sorry for themselves for a couple of days. They both puked up – my eldest looked a bit green and went to puke in the toliet and didnt move quickly enough .. I caught the puke in my hand, in a double cupped motion .. it was warm and stunk like a badgers armpit .. after the clean up, digging chunks from between the floor boards, I had to shower twice to get rid of the smell .. Mmmm ..
  • I taught my Canadian Girlfriend what Ska is, its origins and dance moves (ahem) .. We went to the Skatones night at the Great White Horse in Ipswich. Preceded by lots of beer in a pub crawl formation and danced in some refined style all evening. I loved it ..
  • I also taught/was amazed that my Canadian Girlfriend didn’t know what the NME is .. really? .. yes .. In the cultural waters of Montreal and Toronto, it seems that Indie Pop is not what it may seem. I can appreciate a world where music isn’t as important to some people that others, but to not even comprehend what the NME is/was, or what the foundations of a muso nerd in the UK even look like, was quite odd to digest .. very refreshing .. she’s great too ..

… oh .. and, I have been to Albania for a Long Weekend of dust and Communism lost .. I’ll follow that one later ..

* none of which are strictly Salsa moves but done very quickly and with some extreme style..

Waiting Room .. February 13, 2007

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joe.jpgLast night I took a trip to Norwich to see Joe Lally at the Arts Centre. I love the Arts Centre, it being a fairly regular focal point to my teens and early twenties. It was a full rush of nostalgia walking in there last night, I could even picture the 21 year old me getting everyone to sing happy birthday (to me) from the balcony in the bar room.

It was also life affirming meeting up with some old Norwich friends that I hadn’t seen in an age. The times change from them being dope smoking punks to dope smoking Phd graduate teachers, but the backdrop remains the same and it was very nice catching up on tales – more appreciation for Architecture and the Russian revolution though than the latest jade Tree  SoCal punk trio.. It is fair to say that some characters stay with you for life – I don’t think I will ever forgot those guys, they manage to make me laugh just walking in the room ..

The gig itself was pretty low key. Joe looked uneasy being the front man. The tunes were bass heavy (there was no guitar), Jazz subtlety almost, but engaging and lyrically thought provoking. Fugazi it was/is not – the irony brought to the fore by Simon Goober reminding me that when Fugazi first played over here, people would be asking ‘do they sound like Minor Threat?’ .. its the kind of thing that would grow with familiarity, but worth checking out .. I was however convinced that he broke into the first two lines of Waiting Room on more than one occasion ..

Recorder Frenzy .. January 11, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music.
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fc496.jpgI did once learn how to play the recorder at primary school. obviously my massive (ahem) musical talent was closely guarded at that young age and, along with the 1000s of other (predominantly male) 7 year olds, all I really wanted to do was pull the top off and blow into it as hard as you can to get that crazy shrieking noise my parents grew to love ..

Suffice to say the recorder is one of those instruments that no one needs to play, it’s pointless. It is cheap mind you, and thats probably why all primary school children in this country get to learn the first three bars of three blind mice by default and the discard the recorder to the dusty top shelf of their bedroom ..

As a 30 something male, fond of all things Indie Pop, I am a big fan of Belle and Sebastian, poor man’s Smith’s to some, twee Indie nothingness to others, but I love them and all that they stand for .. so ..

I was listening to Boy with the Arab Strapfor the 10,000th time the other say and thought .. Mmmm .. that’s a recorder solo, no band would ever be so uncool as to have a recrder solo … Insert Light bulb Icon .. can you guess what happened next?

When I dropped off my Son at his Mums, I stole the once discarded instrument of choice (he has his first electric guitar now .. woop woop) from before his very eyes, he hadn’t even hidden it on the shelf! .. like candy from a baby, except he merely shrugged and looked bemused ..

Since then I have been leaping around the room with axe, sorry pipe (will that work?) in hand stabbing at the guessed notes and making an awful racket .. I am reckoning though that recorder solo with stage dive hasn’t been tried before and am plotting and scheming ..

Progress to date is that I have the first 4 bars down to a tee .. from then it goes horribly wrong and I revert to .. three blind mice .. doh ..  I will get there, I really will .. then my Mother will be proud ..

Lost Weekend .. January 8, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music, Reviews.
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carstenholler_06_sm.jpgI love it when a weekend comes together. There were a few tentative plans and nothing so dramatic that it could have been construed as military precision..

Great food out on Friday night, followed by enough alcohol to make running through the subway and giggling into the CCTV camera for probably far too long .. perhaps I need to work on my act and look to get on an ITV Reality Show (is there such a thing?), but then again .. It was one of those nights that seemed fairly innocent, almost sophisticated and then reached tipping point ..

Went visiting on Saturday, James & I drove up to the big City to see Ed, Jacqui & Amy .. always a pleasure and yet an almost bi-annual event these days. It was a Saturday of chatting, sarcasm and drinking posh tea. I got to be educated in the photo genius techniques that create pics to be proud of .. Ed is a friend that has a lot of creative talent (please don’t tell that to his face) and is yet very humble about it, so learning how to hold broken up bits of military regalia in front of a cheap SLR is par for the course .. oh happy me .. a really nice day sitting listening to the rain and talk talk talk ..

Fine Sushi for a Saturday evening, all the gossip on George Michael* that I needed to know & a late night dive into Punk Books.. did you know Lloyd Cole was once in the pre-cursor for Blitz .. Oi! Oi! Perfect Skin!**

Sunday morning we went for trip on the Tate Slides by Carsten Holler. Well, in reality James and I went on the smallest slide and no one amongst us could be bothered to accept the four hour waiting time for any of the others .. but we did indulge and it was very good fun .. even the small slide gets you to a fair pace .. there was lots of smiles ..

I can’t see the ‘art’ in it at all, its a glorified fun fair that doesn’t cost you anything .. to see the Tate staff reduce to ferrying gym sacks to start of each of the runs made me think of seaside fun fairs, without the smell of chip fat and donuts, when I’m sure they applied for a Kunst Halle job admiring Tracey Emin. It was worth seeing and I’m sure there is a lot of ‘art’ thinking about it. I advise anyone with kids that want to see the gallery to go now, let your kids run riot on the slides for a few hours whilst you go explore the gallery .. perfect ..

We then took the drive home and having missed my planned sofa shopping trip, got a late invite for Sunday lunch .. it was amazing too, and all just for me .. ahhh ..

Watched a brilliant movie last night .. I have been without a TV projector since early November and watching a regular TV like a peasant since then, oh the shame of it .. so after getting a replacement bulb late last week, watched ‘What To Do in Case of Fire’last night. A humorous German movie about last 80s anarchists who planted a bomb that didn’t go off, only to find 12 years later, when most are respectable marketeers and parents, that the bomb explodes and kills an estate agent .. a lightweight but very funny unfolding of relationships and politics .. well worth checking out ..

Welcome to the working week ..

* I could tell you but would have to kill you
** A far more interesting fact than anything about George Michael