PORT LA GALÉRE

Port La Galère, I’m led to believe, is a swanky area of the Côte d’Azur. Ive not been there myself. But JG Ballard told me so in his ace book Super-Cannes. This song is loosely based on ideas from said novel which, if you’ve read it, deals with a privileged, elite Utopian society of ex-pats living it up in the sun. On the face of it, everything looks swanky-dory but below the surface ugliness awaits. I should write the tag lines for books eh? The lyrics to this song kind of reflect that same feeling. Being somewhere where you feel a prisoner even though you are free and happy. Sinister. That imagery I find ever so appealing. Ballard’s book Cocaine Nights is on a similar bent and this ditty was indeed originally titled Heroine Chic. I then decided that was a bit of a toss title and rather than a light nod I went for a full on pinch. Again.

It’s an old song anyhow and has gone through a few different permutations in a couple of previous bands. For this take the accordion seemed to lead it so that’s the way we went. The percussion throughout is one of this clicky frog things you bring back from holiday (I think it was Kyle DC’s in this case…) and some little blocks of wood that we set up. I also remember doing a load of takes of that faux-flamenco guitar at the end as I constantly kept muffing it up. No Guitarist of the Year Awards heading my way anytime soon.

For no reason other than the holiday/coast/sun link, here’s me in a dodgy vest (I’d just woken up…) with a terrible barnet (no excuse…) covering Metronomy on banjo. Standard.

Advertisements

Albums of 2011 (and gigs…)

Ahhhhh a list. Love em or hate em. I personally love em…whether they be shopping, bucket or Schindler’s. People get so irate over end-of-year lists don’t they? They say ‘HOW DARE YOU RATE THE WANTED OVER NICKI MINAJ!!!  (check me out…i’m down with the hep cats…) YOU MUST BE MENTALLY UNBALANCED!!!’ Well, don’t take this list too seriously as my mind changes as often as a member of the Sugababes…this is just what I think in this particular moment at this exact point in time (10.48AM GMT, Monday 28th November 2011).

Also…for your records, this is Wit writing…hello. I don’t want you to exact revenge on one of the other GangBangers just because i’ve placed X higher than Y. That just wouldn’t be on. Unless it’s Jack. Cos his list would be awful.

So…mince pie in hand, Bailey’s poured, fire crackling….let’s begin.

…oh by the way – i’m doing a top 15…just because I want to…

15) Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Shock! Horror! A Radiohead record has been released and it’s not my number one! These truly are end times! Well the truth is that, although there’s some good stuff on there…it’s just not top 10 material. Codex is lovely though. Like Thom’s dance moves.

14) DELS – Gob

My hip-hop knowledge is not as sharp as it might be but I know what’s good and this is ruddy good. (ps my first ever band when I was 13 was a comedy rap band with my brother and I used to listen to his Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Lords of the Underground CD’s quite a lot….does this make me more street? No? Oh.)

13) Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen

I haven’t had very long with this record so, over time, I’d imagine this would place much higher…on the first few listens though it is indeed splendid and has introduced me to the wonderous Lift to Experience so that’s nice…

12) Roddy Woomble – The Impossible Song

Long time BangFans will know of my worrying man-love for young Roddy…ever since his early Idlewild days he can do nowt wrong in my eyes and this album is a joy. So that’s nice too…

11) Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!

Another cracking record from everyones favourite angel-voiced plumbers…in other years this would probably be higher on the list but personally I think 2011 has been an exceptional year for musical releases. So there. I’m sure Elbow aren’t too fussed. I would like to try their ale though.

10) The Antlers – Burst Apart

Critics darlings but for once completely justified. A beautiful record though not quite as wondrous as ‘Hospice’ so just edging into my top 10…I would like to see these live please. As Jim can no longer Fix It for me i’m asking Santa.

9) The Duke Spirit – Bruiser

I love Leila Moss and her band. That is all.

8) Beirut – The Rip Tide

More marvellous merriment from Monsieur Condon and co. Managed to get a gorgeous see-through vinyl of it too. Does that matter? OF COURSE IT DOES.

7) Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia

He’s got some lungs on him this lad. ‘House’ is one of my pop songs of the year too. Not just because it shares a name with a certain medical series about a miserable genius that i’m semi-obsessed with.

6) St Vincent – Strange Mercy

Probably the freshest thing to grace my ears for some time. Amazing guitarist she is n’all. Well done Annie.

5) PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Not really getting why people have said this album is love or hate – it’s Polly Jean at her finest in my ears. I also love ‘White Chalk’ though and lots of folk don’t care for that. Those people are called idiots.

4) Wild Beasts – Smother

To be honest, my top 5 are completely interchangeable. This would deffo sit easily and proudly as my fave album of the year but, perhaps because I’ve listened to it so very very much, today it’s at 5. Sorry lads. I STILL LOVE YOU!!!!

3) Bon Iver – s/t

See above. Amazing stuff. Even the 80’s power ballad. ESPECIALLY the 80’s power ballad.

2) Metronomy – The English Riviera

Caught me by surprise this’n. Having seen em a few times and heard their earlier stuff I was always left a bit underwhelmed but this album is nigh on perfection. It also contains one of the best pop songs ever in ‘The Look’. That keyboard solo at the end…yes….

…and DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..

1) Bjork – Biophillia

Just astounding. May mean more to me because of seeing her perform it live in Iceland this year (on my 30th birthday too..) but it’s an absolutely amazing piece of work. Not just in the innovative way it was released, the app’s, the bizarre instruments and her top notch wig. The songs themselves are also 1st class. And after all boys n girls…that’s what it’s all about innit?

So…there you go. My Albums of 2011. As I say I can’t speak for the others (though I dare say Rhodesy would have Stephen Malkmus and The Fall high up there…I haven’t got those albums yet so will have to ask for a lend…) and Keef and Ell Greggo might have gone for a bit of Tyler, the Creator (I love ‘Yonkers’ but can’t bring myself to love the rest of the album…). Rox will no doubt be rocking out to the Deftones (actually that might’ve been last year…soz) and Jack is probs relaxing in the bath to Sade but WHO KNOWS. You’ll have to ask them…

I’m not gonna list the various TBOTB offshoot albums/side projects as it’s a bit unfair but both Rox’s album and The Retrospective Soundtrack Players LP were excellent. Go buy them both. Special mentions also go to The Horrors, Tom Waits, I Break Horses, Zun Zun Egui, Washed Out, Mogwai, Blood Orange and, of course, there’s loads more that escape my mind or that I haven’t really given enough time to. As always, being a skint musician (who DOESN’T ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD) means I can’t afford a lot of the stuff that I want. Add to this the fact that i’m always catching up on the last 1000 odd years of music means that really, when it comes down to it…THIS LIST MEANS NOTHING. Still, it’s kept us both out of trouble for 10 mins and I feel like we’ve bonded. Do you?

While i’m here – i’m gonna do a gig list too. I’m feeling frivolous, footloose and fancy free!

15) Bob Dylan/Fionn Regan/Shane McGowan – Feis Festival, London

Bob’d be higher but I’ve seen him before, I was surrounded by 20,000 drunk Irish folk (both a plus and a minus…) and I left before the encore when he played ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Blowin in the Wind’. Oops. Fionn played on a quiet acoustic stage about 10 metres from where The Waterboys were bellowing out ‘Whole of the Moon’ so I could only hear about 40% and Shane McGowan…well he’s Shane McGowan (again, both a positive and a negative…)

14) Beach House – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves

I think just the fact that when I saw them support Grizzly Bear in Brighton last year they blew me away might’ve lessened the impact this time round. Still proper good though.

13) Andy Foster/Stealing Sheep – The Wedge, Southsea & Kinky Boot Beasts – The Cellars, Eastney

A tie here. Lovely stuff from both Mr Foster and the Sheep Stealers. Saw them supporting Emmy the Great. Who really wasn’t great. Kinky Boot Beasts played with Dave and myself’s other band Analogue Manilow. And really were great.

12) Howling Bells – The Wedge, Southsea

They didn’t play ‘Low Happening’. THE HEARTLESS BASTARDS.

11) Other Lives – KEX, Iceland Airwaves

Watched them soundcheck in a tiny little bar. Lovely.

10) The Walkmen – The Wedge, Southsea

We supported them. They were aloof and didn’t talk to us. I kind of liked it though. And they played ‘The Rat’. YOU HEAR THAT HOWLING BELLS??

9) Deerhunter – Shepherd Bush Empire. London

Lots of scenester tossers there. This would probably have placed higher were it not for them talking balls incessantly everywhere you turned.

8) Borko – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves

‘Ding Dong Kingdom’. Nuff said.

7) Wild Beasts – Concorde 2, Brighton

‘WATCH ME! WATCH ME!’ This would’ve been top 3 but for some bizarre reason (a club night or something…) the curfew was 10pm on a Saturday night meaning they started at 8.30. Myself, Mrs W, Ell Greggo and Rhodesy arrived after much mulled wine at about 9 hoping to catch the end of support band Dutch Uncles only to be met with the Beast’s a quarter of the way through their set! D’oh! Still, we did then end up in, not one, but two gay night clubs so every cloud n’ that…

6) Clock Opera – The Wedge, Southsea Fest

Really want to see this band again as I had drunk a lot of brandy prior to this gig. I think it was very good…in fact i’m pretty sure it was…DAMN YOU BRANDY!

5) Retro Stefson – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves

‘KIMBA! KIMBA!’ The liveliest folks I’ve seen since….I saw them a couple of years ago. Chirpy, funky and danceable are not words often associated with me but they’re infectious. Some of the other Bangers saw them play in a launderette or something too. I’ve been telling every Ron, Mick and Larry in Blighty about them ever since…

4) Roddy Woomble – The Point, Eastliegh

See my Album List. Worrying.

3) Donovan – Albert Hall, London

Played the whole ‘Sunshine Superman’ album with an orchestra. Then sat cross-legged and pretended it was still 1966. We got a free upgrade to one o’ them posh boxes. Noel Gallagher was next to us. It was a fun evening all round.

2) John Grant – Harpa, Iceland Airwaves

Bloody hell. I had a tear in my eye all the way through. As did Mrs W. Not just because of the Birthday shots of Cointreau either. Absolutely beautiful.

1) Bjork – Harpa, Iceland Airwaves

She’s only gone and done the double! Just 750 people there and in a stunning venue. I’ve been to a handful of gigs in my life that have been that outstanding. Made me want to give up. In a good way.

And that’s that. Again there’s probs loads of others that i’ve forgotten about so don’t shout at me too much. All in all though –  in a year where dosh has been tight, tight, tight and thus festivals and gigs have been few and far between for me, I’m happy to have seen and heard some absolutely awe-inspiring stuff. Now…back to TBOTB recording. FINALLY.

MERRY EASTER.

xxxx

Shabbey Road Sessions – vol 1

Oh hello…didn’t see you there…you alright?

Well with the world plunging evermore into madness financially and morally, thought i’d post up a few vids. They might brighten your dwindling spirit, or they may effect you in such a way that you choose to pop out and rob the nearest Lidl. The choice, as our Graham used to say on Blind Date, is yours…

Basically, within the last month or so, I have been forced….nay, hurled….into the 21st century by obtaining a new phone and mac within the space of about a week. Hence the quality/dodgy effects/inexplicable vest on these little puppies.

First up is AN EXCLUSIVE BRAND NEW SONG (in my head that voice over was Rutger Hauer…like them butter ads…) – it’s called ‘Aim High’ (which Elliott tells me sounds like a song title that should be in Glee or summat…I have no idea what he’s on about…)

So that’s the phone video mastered…onto the ol’ lappy toppy. And the aforementioned ill-advised attire…a cover of one of my fave songs of the year thus far. In fact, the whole Metronomy album is really rather spiffing…

And finally, back to the hi-tech, no-expense spared, FX laden adventure-fest of the phone camera and a tour of my spare room. For no reason, other than i’d had a few drinks. Enjoy.