Monday, 28 December 2009

our staff picks of 2009.....


1. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
2. Real Estate - Real Estate
3. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
4. Girls - Album
5. Mika Miko - We Be Xuxa
6. The Feelies - Crazy Rhythm (OLDIE)
7. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close
8. Hush Arbors - Yankee Reality
9. Nite Jewell - Good Evening
10. Dan Deacon - Bromst


1. Dirty projectors_ Bitte Orca
2. Kurt vile - Childish Prodigy
3. Grizzly bear - Vecktamist
4. Wild beasts - Two Dancers
5. Cold cave - Love Comes Close
6. Real Estate- Real Estate
7. Girls - album
8. Lindstrom and prins thomas- II
9. Sound of wonder compilation
10. Cass mccombs - Catacombs


1. Woods- songs of shame
2. Arvo Part- In Principio
3. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion
4. Fever Ray-Fever Ray
5. Bibio- The Apple and The Tooth
6. Clark- Totems Flare
7. Nils Frahm- Wintermusik
8. Fuck Buttons- Tarot Sport
9. The Rural Alberta Advantage-Hometowns
10. Heartless Bastards- The Mountain

Saturday, 19 December 2009

albums of my year #6

animal collective merriweather post pavilion

simply one of the most brilliant bands making music today. their influence cannot be understated. i had been looking forward to this for ages and when it came out in january, i honestly didnt imagine i would still be playing it in december. but i am. panda bear and avey tare are special.

albums of my year #5

nils frahm -wintermusik

i saw nils play with peter broderick earlier this year at bush hall, and was kinda knocked out. this little christmassy disc is perfect for the cold mornings and the kind of music i like to listen to in the house when i am staring out the windows.

albums of my year #4

bibio's the apple and the tooth.
i am a new convert to this music, thanks to stephanie, and i picked this up, initially unaware it is more of filler between records than a full-on new album, it has a few new things and some remixes, but i really love it. amon tobin and fourtet have been favourites of mine for years, but bibio, clark etc are a new fascinating hybrid of this.

albums of my year #3

i am sure this will be a shoe-in for most people's end of year lists. It IS a wonderfully rich album, musically and lyrically and i am only annoyed it took me most of the year to not pay attention to everyone that was telling me how good it was. Also regret i didnt see the live show. oh well.

albums of my year #2

from one of my favourite labels, one of my favourite bands have consistently grown and experimented in a way that feels totally appropriate, never contrived. Jeremy Earl and Christian DeRoeck may well have made hiss and background noise cool again, but this isnt lo-fi for lo-fi sakes. I love it.

albums of my year #1

hearing arvo part's tabula rasa was as important important a moment in my music education as hearing eno's music for airports was. i have bought all the scant releases since but it wasnt until this year's In Principio that i had similar feelings of wonder from a release. Ivo Watts-Russell, former boss of 4AD Records took me to see Part conduct St John's Passion at the Almedia Chapel in London in the mid 80s and it was astonishing. I owe you a debt of gratitude for that Ivo. I would love to see this work performed there also. I will try and make it happen.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

the incredible DIRTY THREE with Nick Cave

i invited some friends over to my hotel room tonight ; )

(actually this was on the fab pitchfork tv pages!)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Vintage Dirty Three Are More Vital Than Ever Before...

Tonight's triumphant return to the London stage could not have been timed better. Lest we forget, and i assure you i won't...DIRTY THREE ARE THE BEST ROCK N ROLL BAND ON THE PLANET, bar none....

This is no idle boast by the way..this is gospel.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, Dec 7th, 2009

A violin, a drum kit and a guitar? no effects, no stacks of amps? it shouldnt be possible to make noises as beautiful and brutal, as apocalyptic as this with such a sparse set-up.

but listen, Dirty Three have been a fuckin revelation for years and so the industry continues to remain largely ignorant to their exceptional and original talents. If that music show on BBC2 has managed to ignore them for however long that show's been running, then there's a fair chance that when the band play London in ten years hence, nothing will have changed. Except the tv show probably wont be on anymore

They have curated ATP, sold out Shepherds Bush Empire, and yet the music press, the radio and the television people probably think they broke up long ago. It irks me, but i guess no more than most things one has to deal with when running a label. It's my challenge, to keep ensuring more new people are turned on to their music and it was beautiful to see such a diverse and predominantly young crowd there tonight.

In what can occassionally be a 'pleasant room' for live music, the dirty three from melbourne transformed QEH into a burning cauldron of emotive sounds and feeling that captivated all of us present.

In my forty something years of confusion and contemplation on our sceptred isle, i have spent many days being sad angry and bewildered, confused euphoric and hurt, in love and out of love, happy, in pain, bitter, and rarely content. Dirty Three have been my companion through all of these days and i love their music like the oldest and dearest of friends. I simply could not have imagined existing without it.

After a stunning set of new songs from Josh T Pearson which brought tears to my eyes, for oh so many reasons, Warren Ellis, Mick Turner and Jim White stroll onstage to a warm welcome.

As Warren approaches the mic he begins to improvise a fabulous fantasy horror tale about being trapped in a chalet at butlins by a burning made us laugh hard before they launch into a blistering version of Last Horse In The Sand, a wonderful song to open with, from our first release with the band Ocean Songs. Then in what is one of my best live moments of 2009, they started to play Some Summers They Drop Like Flys from the extraordinary Whatever You Love You Are album which is certainly one of the greatest records of all time.
They return to the earlier Ocean Songs for a mesmerising rendition of Sea Above Sky Below.
Initially so soft and subtle, the song builds with mick and his morphine waltz guitar, delicately fingering graceful arpeggios while rocking slowly back and forth on his heels. Jim White makes his brushes flap softly like a hummingbird hovering above water...before his beaters with their white cottonbud heads begin creating the thunder rumbling above, a warning ahead of the crashing waves, as Warren's sad lament turns from at once gentle lilt to full force storm. Suddenly the clouds part and its over.

The drama is disturbed briefly by an inane question from the audience about Warren's shoes which he deflects masterfully.

Then all of a sudden we're into Authentic Celestial Music.
The last time I saw the band play this was at the Barbican with Nick Cave and it was an epiphany. Could this top that?
Yes. Mick Turner, "The kid from Black Rock". is tall and watchful, with his boyish charm, like a young Charlton Heston as he builds his chords, stepping through C to D to E with such poise, beside him the flayiing arms of the bearded Ellis and the blur of Jim White's hands as the song moves to an almost unbearable climax. I shake my head in disbelief at how amazing this show is. So-fucking-what they dont play any new material? If i could write one song half as good as any of these, i'd die a happy man.

Everything is fucked.
With turner's elegiac opening, this song really is classic Dirty Three. Warren's violin has rarely sounded more vital as the poetry of jim's initial clatterings suddenly see the song explode in a whirl of arms. Jim White's kit would sound incredible tonight even if it all collapsed around him. As mics fall, as the legs of the floor tom, give way, Jim still manages to paint picassos with his brushes. Yes of course he's the greatest drummer in the world but tonight is still a fuckin revelation to me, and I've seen the band 20 times.

Kims Dirt. one of the first ever Dirty Three songs, if not THE first, which was written with Kim Salmon, sees Ellis walk over and perch on the front of the stage, as White crouches into his snare, and caresses his wood block. At times Jim is like a master magician at work, so sleight is his hand. Where others hit the skin, Jim plays it, and lives inside it. When he drops his stick on to the snare its not a mistake, it is HIS music. When he throws his tambourine on to his cymbal it is to add yet more colour to the palette.

For some reason i am hearing this as an old Russian folk song as if it were being played by Erik Satie on looped guitar! In this very moment it simply illustrates why the Dirty Three are still the most important rock group on this earth. Ellis, the master alchemist, conducts this fantastic music not with a baton but with his entire body and soul. Every muscle and tendon is working overtime as he pulls notes and ushers sounds from the sky as if they were bolts from the clouds. Barely moving one moment, he suddenly leaps, like a coiled panther ready to strike, into the air with a wild kick of his leg, and the music suddenly erupts again.

The word 'THREE' really is SO important. I was in Cocteau Twins and perhaps always felt a spare part, even though i know my contributions were as vital as the others', so i can appreciate how important that we recognise the three of them.

"The next song is all about finding yourself dead in the back of the car cos you had too much fun and it's dedicated to anyone's who's dead or dying here tonight." We ARE laughing but the fact is Warren, we haven't felt this alive at a show in a long time.

Su's last ride is from the album Horse Stories that we recently re-issued after it had been out of print for a while and is another of my all-time favourite D3 songs. So tonight is like my greatest hits show! But unlike a greatest hits show, where the songs will likely sound dull and lifeless and without any of the original energy that drew you in in the first place, the Dirty Three tonight have pulled the skin from these songs and ruffled the feathers so now they are new beasts altogether, recognisable but more important than they have ever been.

As the song begins, Warren lies prostrate on the floor like he is lying in state, and yet while his back is flat and his eyes are looking up to heaven, he manages to strum his violin without moving. This is music I could not imagine having lived without, and makes me think of my friend Al Brooker from the much missed Gwei-lo who died onstage aged 24. He had Dirty Three played throughout his funeral and it was one of the most special moments. Sue's Last Ride builds and drops, once and again, and then as she approaches the gates to heaven, there is a wonderful pause, a long one, maybe 20 seconds, when a lesser audience would have reckoned this to be the end and broken the moment with a misplaced clap, but not one peep was uttered, and then...... CRASH! They are soon banging on the door to be let in, making a racket so magnificently unholy that you'd have to be insane to let them in.

They end with Some Things I Just Dont Want To Know, from WYLYA album and a more fitting finale they could not have chosen.

If you have yet to go to a Dirty Three concert, i urge you that it goes on top of that hush-hush list of things to do before dying.

Everything about tonight was just about perfect. I feel so lucky that i got to see them again.


Sunday, 29 November 2009

snowbird the snow

wales and winter, the two are intrinsically linked for me. like sun and sea, fish and chips.
I seem to be recording in wales most wintertimes which is not a planned annual event, it just seems to work out that way, like arsenal's apparently sublime football usually leading to another year of nothing at all.
this week, while my loved one celebrated thanksgiving in the equally frosty tundra that is wisconsin, with family and friends numbering close to 30, i was holed up in the northern part of the welsh valleys, on the edges of a slate grey village called Bethesda, at Bryn Derwen Studios in the shadow of a mountain on one side and a massive quarry on the other.
As this studio is really the only place in the world where i like to record and produce, the long journey to get there from my near-london home, doesn't really bother me. The 5 hour drive however was not something i fancied this time around and instead i packed a small bag for my four-day stint and decided to try the train from Euston to Bangor. It seemed like a good idea at the time.......

As i arrived at 10am at Euston, the packed concourse seemed a little odd for a Tuesday morning, and before long i twigged that i could be on for a long day, much longer than the 3 hour train journey had promised! something about 'lines down' and 'hemel hempstead' were the mutterings among the hundreds upon hundreds of us poor fools who stood staring up at a big board with orange electronic lights informing us that our trains were very sorry but were unable to take us where we wanted today. My first day of recording was now looking like becoming a very short day, and so it was as i finally, wearily rolled into Bangor station at something close to 8pm.

Laurie, the distinguished looking studio owner, (reminiscent of a handsome christoper lee), and engineer Dave Wrench (more of Dave later) had driven to the station and welcomed me warmly, which was in stark contrast to the freezing wind and rain which greeted me as i stepped down from the train. The drive to the studio from Bangor is only 15 minutes and as the narrow winding roads wet from the teeming rain, look like soft black curling licquorice, i start to feel hungry , for supper and for work.

Ever the hospitable host, Laurie ushered Dave and i into his kitchen where he served up a lush stew which after the junk i had been nibbling on all day from station cafe to station car, tasted wonderful. i love that kitchen. Its not faux rustic, not even faintly inspired by the Victorian Kitchen programmes on the telly, its 100% authentic and somehow, that makes the food taste even better. Laurie and his family are the real deal. Interesting, thoughtful, eccentric but not in that way we English like to think we're oh-so-eccentric cos we have an open top car or a bow tie. Eccentric in the old-fashioned entrepreneurial sense, in doing things the way YOU want and bugger the rest, and in the way the studio is, and in the way they bring up their children. With morals but relaxed and not remotely uptight. It will soon be eccentric to have morals i guess...hmmm

anyhow sorry for that brief irrelevancy ...

The studio is in the grounds of Laurie's house, in fact it is really part of Laurie's house, which he shares with his lovely wife Gabriel. With their sons now moved away, the house must seem eerily quiet at times, and as it is quite remote, and like an old lovely lived-in country manor that is still very much in its original state, there are of course many stories of ghostly encounters which have been coming out of there ever since i first recorded here with the Duke Spirit many years ago. James Yorkston certainly had a 'visitation' during the night, and i think i heard that the archie bronson outfit boys all ended up in one bed one night after a scare but maybe thats just a myth. But in all my time going there, i have yet to feel anything but love and creativity within the boundaries of this wonderful place. With waterfalls and woody retreats, secret caves and magical forest trails all within 5 minutes of the studio confines, i find this the perfect place for writing and recording. Molly the dog agrees! Our morning walks are the perfect way to start any day.
I tell people about the studio but only people i like! i dont want it ruined!

Byrn Derwen and Dave Wrench are intrinsically linked, like Tim and Eric, or Spurs and Style. Apart from being one of the sweetest men around, Dave is also a brilliant engineer and producer (check out his Race Horses production and Kathryn Williams newie too!), and a master of his studio and all the wonderful equipment within it.
Bryn Derwen did try getting another engineer once to cover for Dave when he needed a break, but it didnt work out. Like it didnt work when Jacques Santini managed Spurs and then later on Ramos tried. They just couldnt hack it.

i am in Bryn Derwen to record the music for the snowbird album i am making with Stephanie and my target is to record as much as i can in the four days i now have left. With Dave at the controls, it really is a breeze. He knows what i like and how i work and by midnight on that first night, we'd already recorded three piano tracks. They have an old upright piano and a lovely old grand, both with bags of character. Apparently the upright was the one favoured by natasha from bat for lashes on their recent visit but i found it a bit too noisy when i used the pedal. The grand makes noises too but they are more 'musical'.

We sleep nights in this quaint little coach-house that is across the courtyard from the studio with a lovely old farmhouse style kitchen warmed by the permanent heat from the Aga where we sit till the wee small hours chatting about norwegian death metal (dave is an officianado) and how crap florence in the machine are. I'd heard earlier in the evening from a good friend who was managing a new artist that he'd been sacked and i am deeply saddened by this as i know just how much heart and soul he put into this artist's career to date. Good people bounce back though and if i know him, he will be ok soon.

I send some good vibes his way before falling fast asleep.

the next 4 days just passed so fast, in a flurry of vibraphones, pianos, bass and guitars and i even managed to drum on 3 songs. That was excellent fun and sounds wicked. So much more fun than the last time i did recording 'by myself'. (1996 for my solo record and i didnt enjoy the experience at all!) I also managed to write and record two new songs while i was here that i am excited for Stephanie to hear. Alot of the pieces that we performed as snowbird on our dates with Loney Dear in the summer have been transformed from sketches into fully fleshed songs and it is exciting to see the possibilities when recording with so much lovely old gear around. Lovely Coles ribbon mics on the piano, an old Selmer amp for guitar, bass and the Rhodes, and a look at the old Altec mic (has a ribbon mic and a dynamic mic all in the one housing) the same one that Bing Crosby used! A set of lovely old electric vibes added a touch of class to the lullaby song, and the gretsch snare was a proper treat. The little back room is actually amazing for drums. If you want a good ole rock sound, then the big live room is perfect, lots of wood, stone and glass, but the little back room is perfect for the softer kind of 60s/70s sound i wanted on the drums.

Yesterday as i sat at the kitchen table battling with the dodgy free online football sites in a desperate attempt to see spurs v villa, dave belied his welsh roots and cooked up a totally authentic italian pasta dish out of the not very much stuff we had left in the fridge. delicious it was but something spooky happened during dinner. We had been sat down for about 15 minutes when suddenly two plates flew across the kitchen and smashed dramatically on the tiled floor. They had been on a shelf and not disturbed in days. It was downright weird cos we tried to vainly find a plausible scientific reason and dave's best was the wood on the shelf expanding with the heat and moving the plate. Possible but then why wouldnt that happen every time the kitchen got a bit warm? anyway, that was a bit 'ghostly' and i took thinking how the greeks used to smash plates at their weddings so that they would be able to recognize each other by matching the two halves even if many years passed before they met again. Quite why they wouldnt meet again when they were just about to get married i am not entirely sure about but it's a thought...There is also the belief that by smashing the plates they forget the past and look forward to the future. So i am thinking that dave's plate smashed cos he's looking forward to doing more production and finishing his wonderful solo stuff, and my plate smashed cos in coming here i am opening a new chapter for myself by recording and writing more. It's been 12 long years since i felt confident enough to do this again, and making music with Stephanie is a real treat and inspiring to me.

the following morning after a fitful sleep only oddly aided by watching Dirty Harry at 4am, i got up to see the whole house and ground covered with thick white snow! it was a sign ..SNOWBIRD..

Thanks to dave, laurie, gabriel and north wales for giving me a week to remember....

ps sorry for not posting for ages, i have had a tedious flu thing that wouldnt go away....nearly better now!

Friday, 30 October 2009

The Acorn 'Flood Pt1'...

hi again

god i am so IN YER FACE arent i?

i had some very nice tweets about the 'Crooked Legs' video (tho no one could be bothered to leave me a comment and give me even the vaguest notion that this blog is read by anyone) and requests to post the fore-runner to that..this is the first video Christopher Mills directed for the band and is equally stunning.

i will leave the visuals married to one of the best songs ever to do the talking....

The Acorn 'Flood Pt. 1' from the album 'Glory Hope Mountain' from Paper Bag Records on Vimeo.

have a good weekend..

The Acorn 'Crooked Legs'

There's a fair chance you havent seen this yet, and well, you're in for a bit of a treat...! The Acorn are one of my favourite bands in the whole world and also happen to be darlings. The video for Crooked Legs, one of the best songs on the album Glory Hope Mountain, is awesome. Canadian film-makers really do such wonderful stuff. Ambitious and glorious visually, i think you'll agree that it's a stunning piece of work. The Acorn are now recording their follow up to GHM, and we await this with baited breath. (have you ever said to someone '"your breath is baited?)

anyhow. enjoy.

The Acorn 'Crooked Legs' from the album 'Glory Hope Mountain' from Paper Bag Records on Vimeo.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

my word there are so many amazing bands out there ....

for the thirty three people that currently read this blog (well it is quite new?), chances are you are a bit like me, a bit of a music freak who cannot stop listening and discovering wonderful stuff out there...? right? ok well hello. arent we amazing? yes i think so too.

i am in my mid to late forties and while i may be missing something here ( i do hope i am), i DONT see alot of other folks of my age as into music as i am. The kids came along, marriage, work too hard, slump in front of xfactor on a weekend and thats it till youre too slow to even get out the chair to piss let alone go to a feckin gig. THAT seems to be the norm from my black-coloured spectacles. but fuck come aint over yet you know. have you any idea ANY IDEA how much incredible music is being made and not even released, just being made?

'when i am doing the weekly shopping at Tesco i look at the music there'
' well i sometimes go to HMV every month and have a look at whats on offer there '
' well i use Genius on iTunes'
' i was going to go to Rough Trade last year '

you know what i am on about. invest a bit of time in to your soul, enrich it, trust me when i tell you there is amazing music JUST FOR YOU out there that pisses all over the crap you bought this year in the supermarket trolley dash. picking up cd's and lobbing them into your cart is not really the best way to find music you're gonna love.

try these four today. you'll find them on myspace

mountain man (
zun zun egui (
alessis ark (
washed out (

thats all i am giving you today

(A&R men, go find your own music)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Lucas Renney's 'Strange Glory' album 9/10 NME

it's not often the nme give 9/10 for album reviews, nor is it very frequent for that album to have been produced by ME!!!!!!!! in fact quite a rarity.
the album in question is by Lucas Renney, a quite brilliant songwriter from the North East of England, and said album is now available here through Brille Records, a label run by former XL Records man leo silverman.

i initially heard lucas's songs in a very raw form and knew immediately what kind of setting i would like to put these songs. I called paul and mckenzie from Midlake, the best bass and drum team since sly and robbie, and then spoke to the arranger fiona brice who i have known a long time and think is a superb arranger, as well as being a brilliant violinist, and set to work, choosing the 15 or so songs we would work on. Over the next month or so, Fiona got to work on the arrangements, Paul and Mckenzie flew over from Texas and then we all went into rehearsals in London, and a week later all met up at Bryn Derwen in North Wales, home of my favourite studio.
It was a wonderful time, most mornings we'd start with a walk with the dogs along the quarry up to the waterfalls, back for some hearty breakfast and then setting to work around 11am. Paul and Mckenzie are such a wonderful pair to work with, as they really helped with feel and tempo, and they both really care about the work they do. Of course, running Bella Union, i should know how superb they are as musicians but seriously till you see people in the studio, you dont really know. Lucas found the experience to be quite inspiring i felt, as he had only really ever heard these songs in his bedroom on an acoustic guitar, apart from the odd song that was left over from his old band Golden Virgins. The engineer, the unique and quite brilliant Dave Wrench, someone i have now worked with on about 5 albums, was also a tremendous help throughout with his own musicality, and i think between all of us, we created a beautiful moving album. The final icings on the cakes were the backing vocals from Stephanie which added that fairy dust to the whole thing. i was also lucky enough to be able to work on the final stages of the album at my friend Bill's house, and we had some additional cameos like that one from sarah jory on pedal steel. Lucas is a lovely feller, who cares deeply about the songs he writes and his lyrics are dark and brooding, songs of loss and longing, yet there is a romance about his writing that draws you in, as poetry does. Lucas is one of only a few english songwriters whose lyrics could be published as poetry, and i urge you all to take a listen before you decide to buy...there are some songs on lastfm from the album...probably the one i enjoyed working on the most was These Same Stars, as i ended up completely reworking it while mixing as it wasnt working at all. Now i think it's one of the best tracks on the album...

you can hear at

Thursday, 22 October 2009

the 'bella union story'...kind of

i am of course much better-looking than this CGI pixar animation of me might suggest,
but i cant deny the filmmakers their little bit o' fun...
this was filmed in june 2009 at cherry red tv and was surprisingly painless!
i almost enjoyed it...almost.

thanks to ian and matt at Cherry Red for caring about the stories of the smaller labels.

the return of aunt agony.....

she's help you in your hour of need.
leaking pipes?
bad body odour?
old lady bothering you?
hair falling out?
always angry?
no clothes sense?
animal problems?
work problems?
aunty steph is here to help

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


we havent really chatted much about snowbird. i am in a chatty sort of mood, and you are too right?


since cocteau twins broke up 1997 (i was in them see) i havent really felt like being in another band. why would you right?

then i heard stephanie sing. we made a record together well kind of, she sent it me from nashville and i ended up getting all carried away and sticking loads of me all over it!

after a while it was glaringly obvious that we needed to actually write an album together, especially as we live together. thing was, we just couldnt find the time. till she got deported..then we had some time! me on my own and her on her own, in different countries! so then we got offered this tour supporting loney dear, who we love. so we kinda said yes we'll do it. problem was we didnt have any songs, oh well yes we had one that we had recorded a year ago. but one wouldnt have made a very good show. so, with the tour starting in 12 days we thought we better set to it. so i perched the mac on top of the piano, no microphones or anything fancy like that, just the shitty little mac in-built thing, and opened up garageband and recorded some of me noodling on the piano. i emailed one piano piece every day for a week over to stephnie over in the usa, she was staying at her parents looking after her grandma while her parents were away, and every morning i would wake up in london to an email with my piano song back with her vocals all done, again on her mac, with her shitty little in-built mac mic. it was kinda magical and fun. she came back 12 days later and the day she arrived we went on tour. no kidding, no rehearsals or anything. well we rehearsed the morning she arrived, the morning of our first show at the 800 capacity london venue the scala> thats a whole nother story! but is one of those garageband recordings exactly as it was done, and here is a little video stephanie made for fun..the song is called 'we carry white mice'

hope you enjoyed it a little bit xx

the cat's been sleeping on the dog's bed...

i am not sure what to deduce from this, but it's got tongues a-wagging around here i can tell you.

in other exciting local news, the neighbours moved out, and in their Builders who are living in a van outside and builders who drill skirting boards into the walls at 10.40pm at night. Nice.

cant wait for the postal strike to start cos i dont like the postman. and i especially dont like all the letters we get from the last 38 people who used to live here. have they not heard of mail redirection?? i dont think i knew about it till i was like 12.

stephanie is out on tour with indigo girls which she's loving, so i have been writing some music for snowbird and i am excited to record soon. more news very soon.

what i really wanted to tell you is that our website is now up and running. we are making changes all the time as we come across things we think arent quite perfect but we're very happy with how it's coming along. we hope you enjoy it too.

i also wanted to tell you that 'memoirs of a geezer' by jah wobble is the book you need to get your mum to buy you for xmas.

i dont really like colin farrell.

i havent got a particularly good reason why i dont like him or why i brought it up, but i just dont like the things his face does. do you know what i mean at all?

i am sure he doesnt like the things my face does. especially when my face is looking at his face. it does some weird shit then!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Denmark and Vincent Moon

Denmark really is a wonderful place. Full of wondrous musicians and home to a fascinating music scene.
Bella Union has been in love with Denmark for some time, since publishing an Under Byen song a few years ago, and in the last few years we signed The Kissaway Trail from Odense, Chimes and Bells from Copenhagen and Our Broken Garden from a small village in the countryside not too far from the capitol.

A wondrous event took place recently involving some of our bands and i will let you have a read all about it here..

The filmmaker Vincent Moon, known for his take away shows flew into Copenhagen in May for a couple of days and this is what he says:

"In May 2009, i flew to Copenhagen, invited there to experiment some recordings. I had gone in search of this « new » Danish scene, mostly following Slaraffenland in their acoustic rendition of their new album, over one day all over Copenhagen. The result, 'Temporary Slaraffenland', is a 40 minute piece, including all their songs in 'Take Away Show' style versions.

Two days later, we brought 9 local bands in one house, for one night, to experiment a certain relationship between music and images, and collaborate on something unique and ephemeral. The result is a 30min sound and visual piece, one take, no cuts, plus a lot of outtakes with each band playing one of their songs. A certain idea of a document on a city and its creative life."

So, you can visit both pages and

If you want to just watch Chimes and Bells (Bella Union) peform their brilliant new song Do The Right, please head here, but you should check out the whole film, it's really worth it..

TEMPORARY COPENHAGEN _ 04 _ CHIMES & BELLS from vincent moon / temporary areas on Vimeo.

At Vincent Moon follows Slaraffenland around Copenhagen as they play their latest album from start to finish. A lot of guest musicians from various Copenhagen bands feature the recordings.

At Vincent Moon has documented 9 Danish bands collaborating in a 30minutes one take session filmed in a cool apartment..

The bands are: Murder, Choir of Young Believers, Efterklang, Slaraffenland, The Sad Lovers, Chimes and Bells, Thulebasen, Jong Pang and Valby Vokalgruppe. You can watch the films and download the audio and there is also individual films with each band performing on of their songs. In the extra material you can also find these three bands: I Got You On Tape, The William Blakes and Taxi Taxi!

i should also mention the very fabulous Efterklang including our very own Peter Broderick who are a band we love very much here at Bella Union...we love you!

Hope you enjoy,

Simon x

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pat Nevin talks to me, & Ashley Cole's wife

i really dont know what all the fuss is about...for those of you from lands afar here it is in a nutshell.. cheryl cole is a judge on X Factor ( a rather popular talent show here in blighty ) and yet she is also a member of the all-girl pop band Girls Aloud. Add the fact that she's married to the odious Ashley Cole ( a premiership footballer ) and there you have it. The apparent fuss is this; all the wannabe winners of X Factor, have to sing live in front of the studio audience and to the millions watching, and this week Cheryl is on the show as a SINGER herself performing her SOLO single and she refuses to sing live. 'Hypocrite' they shout. Fact is Cheryl cant really sing, and i dont want to hear her sing out of tune and then get all wobbly and pull scared-face and look at Simon Cowell and start crying and run off stage, do i? Oh. Yes actually i do want that.

i havent watched any of this X factor series, cos i am very busy on Saturday nights with personal grooming, building a ship in the garden, and quilting. So i am a bit out of touch with who is who, NO i tell i lie i saw that excitable Danyl chap in one of the first live auditions as i walked through the front room with some grey ship paint. Couldnt stand his face or his voice, and havent returned since. But watching lovely Cheryl muff it all up might be worth a brief glance. Then she'll know how Ashley Cole feels every time he plays for England..

Anyhow, it's Fryday which means i have a fry-up for breakfast. Saturday means i sit about alot and sunday doesnt mean anything (unless youre religious of course). Sunday means going up to Manchester for In The City where i am doing a keynote speech which sounds a lot posher than i think it will be. I am going to chat with my old chum Pat Nevin who used to play for Chelsea and Everton. As a Spurs fan i suppose i will have to explain how i managed to put on a chelsea training kit and went out to train with the first team once. It was hard. Honest. I had an asthma attack actually. And when i say it was hard, i dont mean physically, i just mean mentally.. anyhow, thats what i am doing this weekend. I hope you all have a lovely rest, and for those of you working i hope you get home in time for House on Sunday. x

ps my original title for this was 'Cheryl Cole', but my learned friend at Wichita convinced me that i was shamelessly headline-seeking to get people to my blog so i changed it.. ; )

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Lovely Bones with lovely music by lovely me...

well of course not JUST me. this is 'Alice' by Cocteau Twins (my old band) i cant get my voice up that high. but hey check out the piano! it starts playing on this trailer at about 0:54
and heck, the movie this looks so cool.

the chorizo sausage

my girlfriend doesnt like sausages. says it feels like your chewing cartilage. i guess she has a point, but when youre chewing cartilage thats SPICY, it's G-R-E-A-T!
which leads me on to Mexican food. Not TEXMEX but Mexican food.
why arent there hardly any decent mexican restaurants in London? Dont tell me there are cos where i live there arent. and in shoreditch where i work there isnt. (is there?)
i found one nice cheap one but its in Westfield, that big, shiny, new world near Shepherds Bush and i dont live anywhere near there.
i started eating breakfast in the Diner in shoreditch cos it has amazing mexican breakfasts and free wi-fi and decent coffee. sometimes i sit here with my headphones on from 10am till 3pm while having my meetings its THAT nice! If i could get my mail delivered here, I'd stay here longer.
Yesterday on the way home i found a place that had all the original Moomin books. i bought them. There is a museum of moomins in tampere in finland you know.
i think i will find a reason to go to tampere one day.

talking of moomins, i used to love listening to the voice of Peter Jones the football commentator, so evocative. he died a while back but if you like his voice you can hear it again here

went to see District 9 last night with my sons.

quite a brilliant film. The alien "prawns" are so fabulously dirty and cool. i love them! how do they do that shit? i know it has to be computers, but
and what a brilliant idea giving the brainy alien the name 'Christopher Johnson'.

the other thing that keeps me awake at night is that commercial where the dude is in his garage with pingpong balls and he bounces them on the floor and they all land in different - sized recepticles. he does it really quickly and doesnt miss and there are no edits and i am 99.9% convinced it's real and that he's a genius but stephanie tells me its all done with computers and that it'd be impossible to do. is she right?
i WANT to believe shit like that. tell me it's real. lie to me if you have to.

My mum doesnt like hugh laurie. so she cant watch House. she really is missing out. It's the one show i cannot miss. Well that and Flog It. I dont always watch flog it when it's on. my girlfriend and i just look up when the weird folks come on pretending they're interested in the history of their shit-encrusted teacup when all they want to know is HOW MUCH? we love that bit and then watching the lovely but ever-so-camp Paul Martin tell them he's sure it's going to be a big earner just one minute before it doesnt even make the reserve price.

i bought a fabulous old record player recently off ebay for 10 quid which has changed my life. its one of those all-in-one affairs where its a square-ish box and the speaker's in the front and you lift the lid up and its all cream plasticy..takes up no room and sounds amazing. to be able to buy vinyl again is intense, and to play all my old records feels like i have just unlocked all my teen memories again.

to get the new Midlake album made on vinyl is going to be wonderful, as it already sounds like a classic 'album' in that way that records just did back then.

was getting all excited about going to see Spurs playing again this weekend after all these hideous internationals but just realised it's away at Portsmouth and i am rapidly tiring of trying to spend saturday afternoons on the internet searching for a stream of the spurs away games that actually work.

see if Peter Jones was still alive i'd be listening to the radio. I dont like alan green's voice at all. Or his opinions.
i am sure he likes my opinions though! i've got loads.

wanna hear some?


"Chorizo should replace the british 'banger'."

there's one.
"Andrei Tarkovsky could not have known that the District Attourney of Syracuse iss also called Andrew Tarkowski".

there's another.

Here's another opinion of mine.
"Richard Nixon was even more of a slimy creep than you knew". Yes. Did you know he had his chief scriptwriter william safire write a speech for him in case the apollo 11 astronauts never made it home. "These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice".
Not cool Dick. Not cool at all.

'i think Wikus from District 9 looks like a south african steve carrell'.

thats my final opinion of the day.

off to slay some trolls now.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

the older i get

the older i get the younger i feel.
probably this is a temporary chemical imbalance. when i see 43yr old women wearing the same clothes their 11 year olds are wearing i think 'no.wrong'.
i 'feel' young but i have no desire to wear jeans that dont cover the top of my bottom, or have trainers that smell, nor do i wish to walk with that fake kind of limp to look 'ard., though i do like to sit at the back of the bus, cos there is one seat with more legroom there..
with my shaved head i already look 'ard so i am covered there.
today i bought the jah wobble book. he is an adorable man who i go to football with when i can, and i am looking forward to reading all about the stuff i dont know about him.
made some good plans for the kissaway trail and had an idea about sending some Lawrence Arabia tunage to The Inbetweeners show on Channel 4. Wrote to the producer of The Danish Girl, a film directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In) about some ideas i had re the music. I cant stop thinking about that let the right one in film. so poetic and makes twilight and new moon seem all a bit silly.
just saw the trailer for Lovely Bones, the new Peter Jackson movie, and heard the song 'Alice' i co-wrote which was quite a buzz, cos it's a film i think does actually look rather good. Unlike Judge Dredd which we also wrote a song for once! i might not have mentioned that once upon a time, but hey...who's to know what's gonna be good and what isnt? Right?
i put on a new shirt today and thought i looked rather sharp. thats not something i feel very often so i might go and buy another couple the same.
got asked to dj at swn festival today which i am looking forward to, though the last time i dj-ed wasnt memorable. it was in Paris a couple of years ago and first a young girl kept coming up and saying 'house music, house music' to which i just shrugged and shook my head as if to say ' go away youre mental, i am playing a certain ratio, cabaret voltaire, wire, the slits, and no of course i dont have any house records do i!' and then a long-haired, clearly very drunk middle aged man, older than i, came up and said ' pink floyd?' i smiled and shook my head as if to say 'sorry, not a million miles away but sorry i dont have any'. when he kept on repeating 'pink floyd, pink floyd' after every song i played my smile started to wan. an hour later when he stumbled more aggressively over towards me about to undoubtedly ask for 'pink floyd', i beckoned him to the side of the turntables and he put his ear next to my mouth so he could hear me over the strains of miles davis' 'bitches brew' and i shouted ' I DONT HAVE ANY PINK FLOYD. NONE NOT ONE SONG, NO DAVID GILMOUR OR SYD BARRETT, NO PINK FLOYD AT ALL!' He moved back away from me and looked very annoyed and stared at me throughout the rest of miles davis and then as it finished he returned to the desk. " Led Zepelin " he shouted.
god. so moral being, if you see a shaven headed man in cardiff this weekend dj-ing in a club, dont ask for anything cos chances are i wont have it. you'll get what i play and you'll be very happy and if youre not, then call your mum. it feels like friday today.
just saw peter capaldi walking down the street. least i think it was him. legend.