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.

x

Thumbs Up

SOMETHING IS HOLDING ME DOWN

The ‘epic’ one. Being ‘epic’ without being ‘wanky’ is everso difficult. I don’t know if we achieved it but we gave it a good shot. A few of the tunes on Bon Iver’s second album do it well. Knowingly overblown. Not saying we scaled those heady heights of course. It’s basically us playing the same chords over and over, slow build up, big crescendo ending. That seemed to be becoming our trademark. Well…it’s Mogwai’s trademark but we borrowed it.

This is the moment in the story arc where everything seems lost and our hero/antihero steps up, the cameras pan out and the violins swell. Or something. Hopefully it’s hopeful. We chucked everything at it whilst recording it. Kitchen sink. The lot. This would have been the one to get the orchestra in at Abbey Road. Unfortunately we did this in the freezing cold studio I work in so an extra cup of tea was all we could bring in on our budget. Good tea though. For some reason, there’s something about the organ that reminds me of Billy Ocean’s ‘When the Going Gets Tough’. That in turn reminds me of the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner 80’s classic film, ‘The Jewel of the Nile. No bad thing.

Here’s a vid from our Wedgewood Rooms album launch back in 2013. Top 3 gig for us I reckon. Good times.

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:

Image

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
XXXXXXXXX

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