Off To The Game

It’s West Ham today. I can see it now, the wondrous pointless ineffective sauntering of Diaby, the “is he on the pitch?” ability of Denilson, the silky passing-the-ball-to-the-opposition skills of Eboue, the headless chicken defending of Gallas. I can hear the booing already.
Or maybe we can actually win?

Review – Further by Geneva

Do you ever hear a song for the first time, and when it’s done just sit there in astonishment at the beauty people can create? No One Speaks by Geneva was one of those. Driving home from work one night listening to Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley (yea, verily, it was the mid-90’s, and that was what was done in those days), and Jo announced the first single from a Scottish band just signed to Nude, Suede’s label. So there I was thinking the worst – a Scottish Suede, aaargh – and the first few bars of slightly jangly, rather melancholy guitar made me think, oh sweet Jebus, another Smiths/Suede ripoff.

And then the singer sang. And when the song finished I had parked my car outside my house and sat there for a couple of minutes with my mouth open. Really, I’m not making this up.

Look, I really don’t want to start going on about sonic cathedrals of sound, voice of an angel, blah blah blah, like everyone did once they heard Andrew Montgomery’s singing, so if you haven’t heard it yet, click on the link below and have a listen. He is truly, truly astonishing. Yes, he sounds like a choirboy crossed with Lisa Gerrard. Yes, he’s got a near 4-octave range. His voice has a timbre that is simply astonishing. And what’s more, he understands better than most other great singers that the key to putting emotion in your singing is to be restrained, so that when you do finally let go, it sounds all the more heartbreaking. Go on, listen then come back.

There was a story I once heard that his mates had never heard him sing, and on a drunken night out he suddenly jumped up onto a table and started belting out tunes, much to everyone’s astonishment. His friends then told him, frankly, to form a band and do something with that voice of his. Not sure if it’s true, but hey, it’s a nice image.

Anyway, he formed Sunfish with Steven Dora and some other fellas, then renamed themselves to Geneva. No One Speaks was there first single, followed up by this album Further. And you can tell that this lot weren’t the chirpiest buggers around (and not just because they’re from Aberdeen). The first song, Temporary Wings, is about suicide. The second’s about being a bit pissed off. Closely followed by more songs about despair, loneliness, depression, paranoia, and other such cheery subjects. But aside from Worry Beads, it doesn’t really feel like an unhappy album, thanks to the marvellously dextrous guitar playing and Andrew’s vocals, which continue to amaze me even now, thirteen years after I first heard him. It must be said that some of the songs haven’t aged particularly well, but No One Speaks and another song, The God Of Sleep, stand up well.

The God Of Sleep possibly shows off Andrew’s voice at it’s finest. It’s a lullaby, of sorts, starting off with the old “Now I lay me down to sleep/pray the lord my soul to keep”.

Of course, it all went wrong – difficult second album, hopeless record label, breakup.

Andrew is now recording under the moniker St Famous. Check it out.

And there’s a rather nice archive where you can listen to lots of lovely Geneva goodness here.

The God Of Sleep

No One Speaks

Quick Photo

Just sorting through some photos and found a nice one from Burnham Beeches last month.

Burnham Beeches 1

Quick Post – M Ward, Arsenal, iPhone

A really quick post this morning.

I’ve managed to listen to a copy of M. Ward’s new album, Hold Time. What’s to say? He’s a fantastic guitarist, a great songwriter, but after one listen it’s difficult to say anything other than it sounds like an M Ward album. Bet you’re glad you read that, eh? Anyway, title track below.

Arsenal are continuing their descent down the Premier League, still in fifth but now five points behind lucky, lucky, but annoyingly quite good Aston Villa. I wish we’d bought Aghbonglahor in the summer. West Ham tomorrow should be a fun game, and by fun, I mean a dreadful waste 90 minutes watching us huff and puff against less skilful but better organised and motivated opposition, with us winning 1-0 after Bendtner gets one in off his arse in the 93rd minute.

And I see Apple have decided to update the iPhone firmware. Oh my lord. And mine’s updating now, so it’ll probably go horribly wrong and BSOD my PC.

Hold Time by M. Ward

The Pitchfork 500 – Part 1

So, Pitchfork, one of the biggest music sites on the Interwebz, decides to release a list of their top 500 songs from “Punk to the Present” (eg about 2007). Cue pandemonium on the web, with accusations of snobbishness, racism, and all sorts.
But you know what? It’s not a bad list. It’s got all sorts of tunes on there, and I’m going to listen to them all.

And then comment on them.

From time to time, like.

First thoughts then. Georgio Moroder is some kind of genius. I’d never thought of the homosexual undertones of “Ever Fallen In Love” before. And isn’t Marquee Moon just the best thing, ever?

Ever Fallen In Love

Note: will try and post the other two later, but WordPress is sulking at me right now.

Review – American Music Club – Love Songs For Patriots

I was never a huge fan of American Music Club in their first, late-80’s to mid-90’s incarnation.  They seemed to sensitive, too yearning, and frankly the production seemed a bit, well, late-80’s.  For all the hype that they were the next REM, they never seemed to deliver.  Plus, their frontman Mark Eitzel sounded humourless and spiky, and let’s face it, we had Mark E Smith to be spiky and at least he had a sense of humour, odd though it may have been.

So when they reformed in 2003 and released Love Songs For Patriots, I wasn’t really bothered.  Until I came across a couple of songs, and I, quite frankly, was blown away.  Released in the dark days of the second Iraq war, calling your album “Love Songs For Patriots” was a perverse move that I rather liked.  Plus, the third song on the album, Patriot’s Heart, is about a male stripper, which is about as anti-Neo Con as you could get in those days.

Frankly, the album’s a beaut.  From the opening clang of Ladies and Gentlemen, through Another Morning’s reluctant anger, right to the hope of Myopic Books, it’s filled with fantastic songs.  The aforementioned Patriot’s Heart, telling its tale of a male stripper, starts off with “If you wanna see something patriotic, there’s a stripper/He don’t look that good, but he’s got an all-American smile”.  And any man who’s ever wandered into a strip club (either straight or gay, and not that I have, of course *cough*) would surely recognise the line “And after a few tequilas, I become something holy.”  It’s pure, wholesome entertainment.

To me, the highlight of the album is the pair of tracks Home and Myopic Books.  Home was written following a drunken argument in his local bar, when he realised afterward he was a miserable, drunken wretch, picking on some young guy for no reason other than he felt like it.  There’s a nod, presumably intentional, to The Smiths in the line “Why do I waste my time with people who’ll never love anyone?” (“In my life/Why do I give valuable time/To people who don’t care if I live or die ?”).  Mark’s anguished yells of “Home, home, home/I hope I make it home” are heartbreaking, the drunken yelling of a man who has got lost.  And I mean that in a metaphysical sense, of course.

In Myopic Books, Mark sings about getting over the pain of a breakup by visiting a bookstore “I was just hoping/for a bookstore like the one I prayed for/and the music they’d play there would be Dinosaur Jr./and the people who worked there would be super skinny/and super unfriendly – and that would make me happy”.  Now personally I much prefer personal service like you get in Daunt Books or John Sandoe but hey, that’s just me, I’m not a ex-drug addict, middle-aged gay singer-songwriter.  I do dig the Dinosaur Jr bit though.  Anyway, I’m rambling again – it’s a delicate, simple number, and absolutely wonderful.

(Digressing somewhat, but if you ever want to play AMC songs on your guitar, invest in a decent tuner – he’s a big fan of alternative tunings.  I mean DADF#AD?  For pete’s sake)

As for the humour.  Well, me and Mrs L&L went to see them live a couple of years ago.  I warned my wife that it might be a bit of a sullen evening, but we decamped at the front of the stage at Dingwalls anyway.  Out comes Mr Eitzel, dressed in a shabby suit, and I think the worst.  Then he starts telling jokes.  Asks me if it’s too loud for me.  Then a funny story about how, whilst on heroin, he and a friend try selling some drugs back to their dealer. Then a story about how writing a song about an ex can backfire when he turns up to your show and starts camply yelling “This songs about me!” whilst you are pouring your heart out on stage.  He’s one of the funniest front men I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Teenage Fanclub and the hugely amusing Tony Crow playing with Lambchop).  If you ever get a chance to see them live, do.

Anyway, there are a few less than stellar tracks on there – Song of the Rats Leaving The Sinking Ship brings forth my worries about whining that I mentioned at the start – but I truly love this album. And the production’s pretty good too.

Home.mp3 from Love Songs For Patriots

The Second Post

Well, here we are.

First of all, a bit about this blog.  What’s it for?  Well, I fancied having an outlet where I can blather on about music, books, football, and little bits of rubbish from time to time, rather than blathering on to friends, family and colleagues.  Or rather, as well as.

So I plan to put reviews of old and new albums – yes, albums, I’m in my thirties so I still believe in the long format rather than individual tracks – books, and occasionally bits about Arsenal, other football items, plus bits and bobs.  Just a load of stuff, really.

I hope you enjoy it.

The First Post

Well hello there.  This is my first post and as I’m just testing how to use this, you probably won’t find anything good here for a little while.  Or ever, heh.

Anyway, pop back soon.