GOODBYE

THE GOODBYE EP

I’m not going to write a load of individual blogs for these tracks. This will be my, and our, final ever post. These songs are my home recorded demos of what potentially would have ended up recorded properly by the whole band on album 3. Why not download them for free now and give them to a friend, lover or enemy as a parting gift?

THAMES FROST FAYRE 1814
The Thames used to freeze over periodically. Mini ice ages we had in the past apparently. When that happened, London folks held markets on the ice. Brilliant. This conjures up some evocative imagery so I delved in to my Sigur Ros-stealing songbook and penned this number. We opened with it at our last few gigs and I really thought we were on the form of our lives as a band. Classic TBOTB really. Long build up, harmony vocals, layered guitars. Bosh. I was looking forward to doing more of the electronica-tinged percussion elements to this that we’d started to introduce live. More synth stuff too. Piano at the forefront. This was definitely where we were headed.

ANYBODY’S GUESS
Another song we’d only very recently popped in to our live set. Maybe 2 or 3 outings. Blissfields, Bestival and maybe Isle of Wight I believe saw this in action. I was going for a kind of Talking Heads feel. Listening to lots of Field Music too which is obvious here I think. I predict album 3 would have been half slow-build, piano-led electronic things and half up-tempo semi-funk. Would that have worked? Who cares. A pretty political song (which was a rarity for us) talking about where and why we’ve p’raps gone wrong with our generation. Eat your heart out Billy Bragg.

MODERN LATIN
Elliott’s dad liked this one. A foot-tapper. Allowing our inner-funk out again. I blame Prince.

RAISE HIGH THE ROOFBEAM, CARPENTERS…
A little nod in the title to our good pals (and Ox & Elliotts other band) The Retrospective Soundtrack Players as they’d recorded a concept album about the ace novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’. ‘Raise High…’ is another short story that JD Salinger wrote and I thought it was a great post-rock song title so I cheekily pinched it. Another piano-led number with a bit of electronica thrown in. Indebt to Mogwai greatly here…especially their incredible Les Revenants soundtrack. This song was instrumental for a while too but that would have probably been too much of a rip-off so I flung some lyrics at it about THAT MOMENT. You know, the Eminen ‘Lose Yourself’ moment. P’raps we should have got Rhianna to guest on this. Then things might have turned out differently. The ending also sounds remarkably like that tune All Saints did for ‘The Beach’. TBOTB goes pop. We ended our set with it live a couple times in embryonic form and it went down well. Shame we never got to flesh this one out.

LITTLE MISTAKE
The only track out of this collection of demos that we didn’t get around to learning live. Not sure it would have worked but I liked the idea. Kind of Nick Cave meets Caribou (or that’s what I had in my head). Very vitriolic lyrics – again vaguely political….maybe this album would have been our ‘What’s Going On?’. Maybe not. The guitars on this were so treated and effect-laden that you can’t really tell they’re guitars. There definitely would have been more of that going on. Again – synth bass and sampled drums. A club banger with Calvin Harris would have certainly been our next natural progression. It wouldn’t.

RE-ENACTMENT
This got one live outing at an acoustic gig in a church supporting the wonderful Smoke Fairies. From the same place as ‘All Be Gone…’. A simple but emotional piano ballad. I would have loved to record a real string section for this. Lyrically about a parent who’s child dies before them but really for anyone who has lost someone. Another chirpy subject as always. S Club we were not.

So there you go. That’s it.

On behalf of the entire band (Elliott, Rox, Dave, Ox, Jack & Keef…) – and all who sailed in her in the past (Emily, JD, Maff, Matt, Fozzy, Cal…) plus more who got involved (The Dawn Chorus lot, the Pie & Vinyl chaps, Old Blacksmiths Studios, people who guested, sang or played with us, bands we supported on tour and who supported us…) I’d like to thank everyone who ever came to see us or showed us support of any kind. We had some incredible times that will stay with me for my entire life.

Thank you.

Christopher George Whitear.

The B of the Bang.

Signing off.

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ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2013

It’s that time of year again innit? Fire crackling (I don’t have a fire), stocking hung (I don’t have a stocking) and sherry in hand (I don’t have any sherry)….it’s time for that odd, and slightly unnatural, annual yuletide tradition of PUTTING THINGS YOU LIKE INTO AN ORDER FOR NO APPARENT REASON. But, like watching Jack Frost (the terrible Michael Keaton-is-a-snowman one…), drinking Advocaat (why would you do that at any other time of year?) and eating sprouts (January to November they are banned from my plate)…it just has to be done as December’s darkness envelopes us all…

So….ready? Heating on? Carols being sung? Astonishing amount of pastry based snacks at hand?

My (me. Wit. Hello.) Albums of the Year 2013. GO!

#10) Lanterns on the Lake – Until the Colours Run

A band that seem to have gone through a whole load of shitty stuff just to get the chance to make their second album (which certainly resonates with us…) and the end result is ruddy fantastic. A record that skillfully blends swelling, subtle, gorgeous tunes with informed and thought-provoking lyrics. A theme that seems to crop up lots in the following artists….

#9) Olafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter

The Erased Tapes label really is a goldmine and Olafur is probably their…er….shiniest nugget? (Sorry Olafur…that was meant to be a compliment). All of his work is beautifully evocative and this’n is no exception. They (who are ‘they???’) call it ‘neo-classical’ but daft genre titles don’t really interest me. What does interest me are subtle electronic beats, sparsely layered string quartets and even some cheeky, sexy vocals popping up this time round. A wonderful, wintry album.

#8) Midlake – Antiphon

An all time fave band of mine returning with an album that’s much more impressive than it really has any right to be. Eric Pulido taking over on vox from Tim Smith has only invigorated things as far as I can hear and the songs themselves are as classy, inventive, well executed and lyrically inspired as ever. Well played sirs. Well played.

#7) Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad

An artist who I was unaware of until very recently and I’m ever so glad I am now. I think she’ll be a mighty force to be reckoned with in years to come. Fantastic lyrics and fantastic musicianship. The restrained power in her voice really is something to behold too. What’s not to love? I believe Wild Beasts like her n’all so that means I must be right.

#6) Sigur Ros – Kveikur

A tricky one this. On the one hand, if you held a gun to my head (please don’t…I’d probably wet myself…), I would more than likely say – depending on what day of the week it is – that Sigur Ros are my ‘favourite’ band overall. Kveikur certainly has some of their most immediate, ‘catchiest’ (not really the right word for Jonsi & co…) work on it but I will admit, when push comes to shove…(guns, pushing, shoving…what’s going on?)…I prefer the Ros in full on soundscapey mode. In fact, the album of theirs I’m probably fondest of is Valtari. Saying that, it’s a bit like comparing eating Wensleydale with watching snooker. They’re both lush so let’s just enjoy them all and STOP COMPARING EVERYTHING YEAH???

#5) The National – Trouble Will Find Me

It’s rare these days that you get a band who deliver album after album of top notch stuff. Even rarer when each album bests the last. Mid-period REM spring to mind (for a while anyway…) and I think this lot are their natural successors. Again you get those people (often dullards…) that are all ‘Alligator/High Violet/Boxer is the best and nothing will beat that’ but I couldn’t care less – I think this is easily up there with some of their finest stuff. Sounds even better live too.

#4) John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

I’ve been hooked on Johnny-boy since I first heard his dulcet tones a few years back. He just has that certain quality where you need to hear what he has to say and want to know everything that he’s thinking. A wonderful album that’s quite different from his first solo record and, to these ears, even better for it. The Gus Gus involvement in production meant the album was always going to be a bit ‘dancier’ (for want of a better word) but it still manages to be packed full of emotion and meaning. Also, the third Bella Union act on this list. They know what they’re doing them lot.

#3) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

It’s Nick Cave for fucks sake. I don’t need to say anymore.

#2) These New Puritans – Field of Reeds 

Firstly, most of the reviews I’ve read about this album bang on about how it’s ‘like, almost classical man’ or that it’s mind-bogglingly, genre-spanningly, boundary-pushing…er…ly…different from everything ever in music. I’m not quite sure I completely agree with all that BUT what I do hear is an incredibly strong album, packed with excellent songs and interesting arrangements from a band at the top of their game. It goes to show how homogenised and derivative a lot of current music is at the moment that, when a band come along who do have a definite and specific vision, people whip out the over-the-top superlatives like ol’ Jack whips out the Taiko drums and samurai swords. Still superb though.

#1) Mogwai – Les Revenants OST

Now I’m no Mogwai purist/die-hard fan like lots o’ folk. I’ve always liked what I’ve heard by them and owned a few bits and bobs but I’m not what you’d call a completist (about anything to be honest…I don’t think I have the patience or attention span…). Hearing this album though, and intrinsically linking it in my mind to some of the beautiful imagery from the excellent French TV series it soundtracks, just made me go a bit Mogwai-mad. There’s something rather special about it. In general, I like a bit of instrumental post-rock as much as the next man but occasionally I find there can be a wee bit of emotional detachment involved. More nodding and beard-stroking than actually feeling like your heart may explode. This album, however, really does deliver it all. A cardiopulmonary whilst rubbing ones chin approvingly.

Special mention goes to Everything Everything for making one of the more interesting mainstream(ish) pop albums of recent times in ‘Arc’ and the following two albums I still don’t actually own but have been listening to loooaaaaads and intend to purchase ‘em as soon as possible (unless Santa is reading this…I’ve been reet good this year big man…) – those albums in question are Nils Frahm ‘Spaces’ and Anna Calvi ‘One Breath’. Cracking stuff.

Tons more I’ve heard bits of this year too but just haven’t yet had enough time or dosh to make up my mind and buy (as usual) including:

Emiliana Torrini, Boards of Canada, Volcano Choir, No Age, Tuung, I Am Kloot, Eels, Deerhunter and probably loads of others I forget. SO MUCH MUZIK.

So there you have it. Some will agree, most won’t. That’s the joy of art isn’t it? If you find this list rubs you the wrong way so hard that you’re face goes red and you want to send a strongly worded email on how wrong I am then send it here: elliottgregg@thedrummer.com

I think I’ll post up me top gigs of the year somewhen this week too. Just because.

SPEAKING OF GIGS (see what I did there…?) – come to this next Wednesday and you really will feel that Christmas miracles can come true:

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Facebook Event – http://www.facebook.com/events/479932588788715/
Pie & Vinyl Event – http://www.pieandvinyl.co.uk/events/2784/
Wedgewood Rooms Event & tickets – http://wedgewood-rooms.co.uk/WhatsOn/LiveMusic/LIVELOCAL.aspx
In the words of Tiny Tim…..MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS
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