Apr 132014

No Shouts, No Calls was the last (so far) Electrelane album, it was their fourth album and I’d been listening to and loving them since “The Power Out”, their second. Somehow I never saw them live despite probably having a billion opportunities. Not long after this album was released the band went “on hiatus” and it looked like I’d never get the chance.

I’ve not really stopped listening to this album, or any of the previous two, so this wasn’t revisiting a lost album, but just confirmation at just how much I love it.

In August 2011 the band reunited for a few shows and I finally got to see them live, at an overcrowded Scala. It was good, but I think it would have been better if I’d seen them four or five years earlier.

Apr 122014

… and so season 3, thankfully comes to an end. I didn’t enjoy this season nearly as much as I thought I had. It had some great moments, but as a whole it really started to grate. Now I’m beginning to wonder if this is me changing. I decided a couple of years back that I couldn’t be bothered with modern cinema’s blockbusters, I didn’t want CGI, I didn’t want to see the budget, I wanted something that was able to get to me emotionally, rather than be battered into me, and I found I was not getting that from modern Hollywood.

I find that a lot of telly I’ve watched recently has had a similar effect, so, for instance one episode of Peaky Blinders and not much more of Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Nashville made it clear that this is not the sort of telly I want to watch (any more). I found rewatching Twin Peaks much more difficult than I thought it would be, I didn’t make it to the end (although I started watching the first series of West Wing and that was still able to suck me in).

Obviously we’re going to plough on with Buffy, and maybe I can get back into it (maybe Maggie Walsh and Tara will help), but at the moment it feels like I love Buffy less than I like, and like less than I just don’t care about.

Graduation Day was an OK end, it had a cool/weird dream sequence, and the Faith/Buffy fight was OK. But I was relieved when it was over.

Maybe I’ve finally become… old, telly was much better in the olden days.

But you know it really was!

Apr 112014

Teenager in Second Ward Neighborhood, 06/1972
You know, it never crossed my mind for years that there’s a danger that Thirteen could be interpreted as creepy – to me it always was, and still is, just the sweetest song about growing up.

Big Star – Thirteen

Big Star – Thirteen (alternate mix)

Magnapop – 13

Kathryn Williams – Thirteen

Garbage – Thirteen

Rose Melberg – Thirteen

Apr 102014

Just home from seeing the silent film Why Change Your Wife? at the BFI. The film seemed to be a projected DVD and frankly looked awful, which was a shame. It is a 1920 romantic comedy and despite what might be considered a rather dubious message, is fun and silly, and almost looks like it might get a bit dark in places… but no, goes back to being silly. The three leads, Gloria Swanson, Bebe Daniels (“legally a widow but optically a pippin”) and Thomas Meighan were all rather great.

The film was presented with a new score by jazz vocalist Niki King, which was OK, but I found the vocals a bit distracting, it worked in places but often seemed to sit a bit uncomfortably with the film. Also… can’t help watching a band when it has a harp… and I should be watching the film!

Apr 102014

Audrey #2
I can’t remember how I came across Audrey, but, I’m fairly certain the first track I heard was a demo called “The Text is Written (Upside Down)” which I don’t think ever made it onto a release of theirs. I then bought their 2004 self-titled EP and fell in love. This was slow and melancholy music.

Visible Forms came out in 2006 and was more sad and slow music, maybe not quite as perfect as the EP, but still rather beautiful. Audrey came to London in August of that year and played at The Water Rats. Hazel and I went along, these ridiculously young women made us feel so old. It was a lovely show.

They released another album a couple of years later but it didn’t grab like the earlier records. Their painfully awkward website has a post from 2010 saying that they’re … “still alive but currently find themselves in a slumbering mode” – it’s been too long a slumber.

The EP and Visible Forms however are two nearly perfect releases.

Here’s the video for Mecklenberg, the stunning opening track of Visible Forms

Here’s a short clip of them playing Box and Fights (from the EP) at that London show in 2006.

Apr 092014

Over on A Head Full of Wishes to-day the Originals series reached the very wonderful Sally Free and Easy as covered by Magic Hour on their first LP in 1994. Head over there to hear the writer, Cyril Tawney, the best version by Trees and the wonderful cover by Magic Hour.

Stick around here for a few more splendid versions:
Marianne Faithful (1964)

Fiat Lux (1984)

Flying Saucer Attack (1996)

Davy Graham

Pentangle (1972)

Carolyn Hester (1962)

Moira Kerr (1971)

The Diamond Family Archive (2013)

… I could go on and on

Apr 082014

I’m rather chuffed that The Clientele are back… and back as a three piece. Not sure how long for but now that a London date has been added, and I have my ticket in the bag, I can relax. I was scouring YouTube for an appropriate video to post and came across the video for House on Fire and spotted the awesome Rowley Way estate in Camden (about 40 seconds in)

The estate also turns up in the video for A New England by the lovely and sadly missed Kirsty MacColl

Hazel and I happened upon Rowley Way completely by accident while walking around the area just after Christmas. It is a breathtakingly beautiful piece of brutalist architecture – and I know many might not think that beautiful and concrete can go together but just take a look at it – it really is amazing.
Alexandra Road estate
Alexandra Road estate
Alexandra Road estate
Alexandra Road estate
Alexandra Road estate

Apr 072014

Polar Bear in Nottingham
Despite having lived in (or near to) Ealing for a good number of years, 2005 was the first year I was brave enough to go to the Ealing Jazz Festival. Coincidentally it was the year that the F-ire Collective curated part of the day. F-ire collective at the time counted Polar Bear amongst their number. I was aware of Polar Bear and had seen band leader Seb Rochford a few weeks previously, drumming for the late, great Stan Tracey at The Bull’s Head.
Polar Bear
Despite this I was slightly unprepared by how affected I would be by seeing jazz played live in the way that Polar Bear played. This was much closer to rock than I expected, not necessarily in sound, and maybe not in presentation, but certainly in feel.

I do love this album, it is still (mostly) a jazz album, but in my head it is tied in with my jazz Damascus moment that I had during 2005.
Polar Bear – Beartown

Polar Bear – Fluffy (I Want You)

I listened to Polar Bear’s new album at lunchtime to-day, if anything they’re pushing at the edges of jazz even more now.

You can buy that, all their albums on Bandcamp… which makes me love them even more (even though I already have (most of) them).

Apr 062014

Angela Lansbury

Hazel and I wandered east to Poplar to see a lovely interview and Q&A with Angela Lansbury, she talked for an hour and a half and had lovely and funny stories, and was wonderfully down-to-earth, and rather splendidly still a bit of a Londoner, for someone who’d been in America since she was 15!

Hazel took a bunch of rather lovely pictures.

We also wandered round Tower Hamlets cemetery park beforehand, and Goldfinger’s proto-Trellick Balfron Tower afterwards.
Balfron Tower

Bobbing along...

Leopold estate

Apr 052014

Luna - Rendezvous x3
In September 2004 Luna announced on their website that they were calling it a day

On October 26, we will release our seventh studio album, Rendezvous, on Jetset Records. This will be Luna’s final record. We will tour the United States and Europe over the next six months, playing our last shows in 2005.

I posted this to the Galaxie 500 mailing list (which was still a fairly lively community back then)…

Can I just say – ten years of my life has gone into the website and this mailing list – TEN YEARS – they don’t think of the children when they get involved in a divorce.

Rendezvous came out as promised in October. I can never be too objective where Dean is concerned, and certainly couldn’t be in the emotion of the break-up announcement. With nearly 10 years between then and now I can try and listen to the album with a little more… maturity.

It’s not my favourite Luna album, I’d say it’s probably not in my top five (that is to say it’s not one of the band’s first five!). It’s good, it is maybe a little too… loungy… for Luna (listen to the brushed drums and clean guitar sound at the opening of Motel Bambi for instance).

I love Sean Eden, and I’m looking forward to the long-awaited and long-promised solo album, I also love both of his songs on Rendezvous, but there’s a little bit of me that wonders whether they should have been on the album at all. Actually, I was just looking through the mailing list archives and I had these concerns when it was released… so maybe I’m better at objectivity than I thought…

27th October 2004: I must admit that I’m still not entirely comfortable with hearing Luna without hearing Dean. I love both of Sean’s songs and they’re close enough to Luna to not bother me too much but I’m sorry but I can’t love then AS Luna songs.

… and I can’t help thinking that Rainbow Babe is a bit of a whimper of a recorded/released end to Luna.

But the album is still lovely. Malibu Lovenest is a fab opener. Astronaut is wonderfully alien, and Speedbumps is a Luna classic and I won’t truck with anyone who would suggest otherwise.

Here they are (without Lee) playing Speedbumps on the John McEnroe show, with bonus Sweet Jane with John McEnroe at the end!