rashbre central: February 2010

Sunday 28 February 2010

fixing buzzing guitar frets

Logic Studio Track Automation
It's been a fixin' it kind of day today.

The Sunday Morning rain preceded a visit to Halfords on the trail of a very particular lightbulb. The blue car had become one eyed and I had to suffer the inevitable time penalty associated with its replacement. It's almost a conventional Sunday activity, fiddling around with a car. It already looks clean though, so there's no danger of even more traditionalism.

Then I was sitting next to my work PC ominously switched on, because of some stuff from Friday that I couldn't complete. Basically, there's another computer fault which means a further trip to the repair den in the office on Monday. This will be the third time since I received the 'new improved' device in November.

And I wanted to record another track from my lyric-making, this time with my rather economically priced acoustic guitar, only to remember that the middle frets have become non-playable since around the last time I re-stringed it.


A few minutes with a pair of pliers and a small piece of plastic and I was back in business. Its probably not the way a luthier would repair it, but it worked for me.

I did try that big bolt "truss rod" adjustment first, but I could tell it wasn't going to work, whilst pinging the pegs for the strings and adding a sliver of packing to the bridge has done the trick.

Full pix for anyone else so foolhardy, are here

Saturday 27 February 2010

New York Love Song

Brooklyn Bridge
Half an hour of further songwriting today, as I tried to make a New York song to round out FAWM.

I listed a few places on a sheet of paper and have linked them together with a bit of a story. Instead of trying to do the whole city in three or four verses, I've decided its better to hang around in one area and ground the lyrics from that point.

Its probably still the transatlantic equivalent of 'Mary Poppins does London Town', but its something to knock into shape later and maybe add some Velvet Underground style guitar licks.

Its on the FAWM Page here.

nico and andy

Worryingly thats number 19 of 14.

Although my last song's New York Chelsea girl reminded me of Nico. So now I'm thinking a techno 20 would be a good way to round it off, perhaps with female vocals and a slightly German accent. So here it is....the bonkers last track

Friday 26 February 2010

in the presence of royalty

Great excitement today as unexpectedly a first royalty cheque arrived as proceeds from the rashbre novel, 'The Triangle'.

Now I'm considering what to spend it on.

Whilst appreciative of the readers that have helped create this reward for my efforts, I also liked the suggestion I received that I should do something special with the money.

In the same way that writing the novel itself was a gamble, I suspect that'll be my plan for the way I spend some of the proceeds. I may divide it into some different spending streams. One for something worthy, one for something to signify the occasion and one for something reckless.

I'll tell you how I get on with the gambling part.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Thursday Thirteen (V49) FAWM


I know its not 13, eighteen is a trifle excessive, but its difficult to cut them back down. I've somehow managed to keep on with the February Album Writing Month where the official target was 14, but I've kept on going.

I should think there will be a few to salvage from with the set, although I'm not sure that "Motorway Adventures in Wales" is going to make the final cut, with its chorus of:

"alone again in this hotel room
squish the teabag with a spoon"

Oh dear.

A few made it to being accompanied or mixed and I've decided to put some links to those with music here too. Of course they are all hastily assembled demos:

- no more moonbase alpha - that's the where the nearest available instrument was a banjo, and the song is designed to be an artifact from the near future. I'd prefer it to have clicks and scratches actually.
- la dama puliendo el paso, por todo la calle real- the one based upon a number 3 card (la dama) from the Mexican Loteria, with a nod to Dylan. This is a slightly different mix from the version on FAWM but still has my dodgy faux American accent. I chopped out some of the accompaniment and turned up the rhythm guitar.
- i'm your hit man, babe- a punk guitar tune about a bad lifestyle that I wrote and then played without learning any of the words. A one take disaster, which I kinda like.
* prophesy- short haunting Christina track, in an attempt to re-establish some musical credentials.
* remember me- dance track with a bit of synth and guitar. Somewhat over compressed but they are only demos. Couldn't resist some stabbing synthy bits and some outlandish autotuned vocals.
* your body all over mine- lets do some slinky jazz - quite pleased with this one which is also a bit off normal genre and which really does shake the floor with the bass.
* temazepam bunker - a 2:30 orchestral piece about life in a bullied workplace. The sleeve notes for this one are a bit warped.

I keeping with the FAWM convention, I've starred a few that are probably slightly better produced. The ones without stars are demos with my own vocal accompaniment. I don't recommend starting with those. Despite how it may sound, I've rather enjoyed doing this little project.

I also still really want to do a song about New York. Maybe this weekend.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Aperture 3 - 32 bit and 64 bit working fine

aperture 3
Moving my photos onto Aperture 3. Its taking a few hours, because its trying to recognise all of the faces. Will leave it to run overnight.

1) It took about 6 hours to process and convert an around 80,000 photo library
2) It has made a reasonable attempt at guessing the faces, but theres some laughable mistakes too.
3) The GPS tagging is very quick and useful and integrates with google Maps.
4) It booted Aperture into 64bit mode, but most of my third party plug-ins are still 32bit.
5) Now its completed the processing, its speed is about the same as previously.
6) There's a lot of new functionality, much of which save jumping across to Photoshop or similar
7) The new RAW support handles my Lumix cameras (at last)

I like it and its a noticeable improvement on something that was already pretty good.

Technical moment - running Aperture in 32 bit mode
I've changed back to 32 bit mode for the time being. Its easy to do, there's a little box in Finder 'Get Info' for the application which needs to be ticked and then Aperture starts in 32 bit mode. All my old Third Party plug-ins work fine (eg from Nik, Genuine Fractals, Noise Ninja, One etc). I'll flip to 64 bit once the plug-in fixes appear.

If the little box is missing (for some users), then reboot holding down the shift key (ie Safe Mode). Once its booted, the tick box is installed. Then re-boot again. I have to say this is a most un-Apple like thing to need to do though.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

punch and judy bullying allegations denied

punch and judy
The discussions about whether or not the Prime Minister displays temper tantrums has appeared a few weeks before the election.

There's straight-faced denials from Peter Mandelson saying nothing untoward has been happening, yet there seems to have been an undercurrent of questions for at least the last nine months. Ever since a little question about throwing mobile phones was raised in Prime Minister's Questions.

"This is not an account I recognise" being part of the subsequent mandarin response.

It's quite difficult to unpick this kind of thing. I know someone wants to sell books, and there's around two months countdown to the elections, so it seems predictable that the truth is being smeared by anyone within reach of the trough.

For starters there's the jolly poster japes of mydavidcameron.com although the equivalent domains for gordon and nick have already been bought in a pre-emptive strike.

We have to treat the next period as a Punch and Judy show, with accusations and denials in equal measure. Are we looking at a pussy cat, or a crocodile? as Mr Punch would need to decide.

Presumably the same sausages of disdain will be used to parade the current alleged achievements of leadership and the similarly aspirational plans for the future.

Unfortunately, these accounts are something I recognise all too well.

And here's my short orchestral piece inspired by some of this, entitled temazepam bunker and described at FAWM

temazepam bunker (rashbre and the unexpected musicians)

Monday 22 February 2010

feel your body over mine

populart madrid
I received some comments after the last posting because I appear to have frittered spent some time on the music.

How could I find the time and so forth.

Well, this evening we've just enjoyed a late dinner and some wine, but also managed to jam a jazzy Latin track which wouldn't be out of place in Madrid.

So this one is for anyone alone at the moment.

Jazz of the type you might hear in the Plaza de Santa Ana. But in this case it's here and made on a Mac.

With a little help from my friends.

feel your body over mine (rashbre feat. Christina Nott)

Sunday 21 February 2010

full of java beans, bloops and bleeps

java bean Sunday
It would be a lazy Sunday ahead, except that I've been drinking freshly ground java bean coffee, which has increased my state of alertness and forced me out of the house.

After a week on the run and then Saturday to restock the larder, the logic suggested a day to read a few newspapers and maybe watch some television. In practice, early this morning I was reviewing a work document, despite my broken disk scrambler. All finished now.

So what next?

Well, the rashbre and Christina Nott collaboration is back since yesterday's 'prophesy' mix and today's track is called 'remember me'. A good excuse to dust off some synthesizer bloops and bleeps.

Somehow we will get an album's worth of content.

remember me (rashbre feat. Christina Nott)

Reminds me I always thought "feat" would be a good name for a recording artist.

Saturday 20 February 2010


This is the first chance I've had to actually record anything from those little songs I created last week.

Yesterday evening I had a bash at a couple, which were rather 'one take wonders'. Live triumphs over quality. Still, someone else can pick up the vocals when we eventually arrange the music weekend we've been talking about for a year.

It wouldn't be right to leave out the rashbre and Christina Nott collaborations from this little experiment though, so there's a new track from us, which is the only one that's been through any proper mixing.

It's quite good. And it is here. Prophesy.

prophesy (rashbre feat. Christina Nott)

Empire State of Mind (Part II) deconstructed

I did a sort of experiment today, based upon my recent sideline in boshing out lyrics for this FAWM thing. I tuned into Radio 1 whilst in the car and listened to half a dozen tracks, to find one that stood out as a good song.

Not very scientific, but I just wanted to hear one that was a recent tune and radio worthy. I decided to go mainstream in the interests of deconstruction.

After hearing Lady Gaga the one I alighted on was Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind (Part II)", which is a song about New York. Haunting choral type start, some affectionate words about an iconic city, hope and positivity plus an inspirational hook.

A short stop at the nearby Tescos and I had a copy in my hand. Not very digital, but I wanted the little booklet to check the lyrics and the writing.

Very clever. The track credits were at the back of the booklet in italic 8pt. It showed that the song was indeed written by Alicia Keys.

Oh, and Al Shuckburgh.

Not forgetting Sean Carter and Jane't "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic.
And Angela Hunte and Bert Keyes.
And finally, Sylvia Robinson.

I estimate there's 200 words, including a couple of lines from "New York, New York", so that would average almost 30 words per songwriter (including the Ooohs). Not forgetting the original Jay-Z version with slightly more NYC references in it.

Of course, its worked in that the album is at number two in the Tesco rack and actually the whole album is quite listenable mainstream R and B type music. Many would put Alicia into the superstar category, and her delivery is pleasantly un-diva-esque compared with the Reality X clones.

Comparison with my own efforts, which are for fun, are somewhat minimal. No teams of writers or special production in a different studio to get the right commercial sound. Just ten minutes of tapping. But of course Alicia will sell millions of copies.

It raises a broader question though, about ultimate economics. How few records get bought in full now, compared with track downloads, and how many ways does the 69 pence need to be split? The full list of people on the track in question amounts to 7 writers, 9 record publishers, 2 producers, plus musicians and a considerable production crew. With the occasional million seller, this still works.

For the rest of us, its still just for fun.

Friday 19 February 2010

I think I need an early night

New security software on my work PC today.

One of those disk scrambler things. My old PC had it, but the new one arrived without it installed so I dropped it in to the technicians to have the software added.

When I picked it up, it was working fine. The trouble was, when I got home and restarted the PC, it didn't work.

Similar to the memory stick with built in fingerprint recognition that jams with a software fault every time I try to use it.

At least the banjo and guitar works.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Thursday Thirteen (V48)

FAWM 2010 14 songs
Thirteen song titles and a bonus track. My handiwork was to write 14 songs in February.

Next part of the plan will be to spend a weekend recording them.

Where's the banjo?

Wednesday 17 February 2010

cos I'm your hit man

cos i'm your hit man, babe
Today's Milan visit didn't quite go to plan, but I've recovered my composure and the concurrent short term headache has subsided. When I used to visit Milan regularly I would often have a sense of calm as I returned to Linate to catch the flight home.

I think its because Milan can be quite an intense city and I suspect those little shots of expresso build up in the course of a day.

Daniel made some remark about one of my last songs and suggested that my random trips could be concealing a less straightforward occupation. Just because there was a revolver on the draining board next to the vodka and explosive fuses.

Oddly enough, some of my family muse about what I do as well.

So, to put things straight, I thought I'd use Daniel's comment as the inspiration for today's little song.

hit man

don’t promise me no promises
and its the same from me to you
on the run from love after all this time
we both knew just what to do

pack my bags, go around the world
sleep anywhere I please
you stayed, but didn’t wait, in this Chelsea flat
when I returned at the end of a mission

'cos I’m your hit man, hit man
always on the run
yeah I’m your hit man, babe
always got a diff’rent gun

last time in Jakarta when the rain was hot
I’d been running for the Java Sea
they came after me with that Mata Hari girl
but my mind was able to break free

and before that, together in St Petersburg
when we were hiding in that Literaturnoye Cafe
I’d done the deed, we were holding hands
that time when we both looked happy

'cos I’m your hit man, hit man
always on the run
yeah, I’m your hit man, babe
always got a diff’rent gun

even then I could tell that our war was over
your warmth told more than lies
a silencer moment of instant truth
a burst of sun from your deep blue eyes

never promise me your promises
we both knew just what to do
still running from love after all this time
and this time its without you.

cos I’m your hit man, hit man
always on the run
yeah I’m your hit man, babe
always got a diff’rent gun

yeah I’m your hit man, hit man
always on the run

That'll be number 14 of 14 then. Now I can resume a normal blogging service.

model romance (je t'aime)

model romance 1
Back from snowy Brussels, where I've been involved in some meetings largely conducted in Flemish. I can just about track the main conversation, as long as it is sprinkled with useful keywords.

Then back to the airport, where the plane was missing from the jetway and eventually back to Heathrow where the jetway was missing from the plane.

The last part was a small advantage, because the bus took us straight back to the main T5 instead of the B Terminal, where you have to catch that little shuttle.

Now I'm up to 12 of 14 in the songwriting thing, I feel compelled to write two more to get to the full set. So here's number 13, about a model romance in Paris.

Met you in that nightclub Rue St George
You talking to me of Voltaire
You with all those art school credentials
Made eyes and love as if you really cared

It was a model
It was a model

So together we took the Fifth Arondissement
Je t'aime, amour, along the Seine
Somehow you worked your magic
Paris together, Sorbonne, fantasy.

It was a model
It was a model

But one day you started looking different
Gauloises smoke, your head was turned
His plastic form of dressing
Synthetic as he struck the pose

Plastic model
Plastic model

That's around the last time that I saw you
You quietly melted away
You found your plastic lover
Left bank, left me, misery.

No more model
No more model

It was a model
It was a model

Tuesday 16 February 2010

some of your stuff ain't normal

some of ya stuff ain't normal
It's Tuesday so it must be Brussels.

Yep. Off to Belgium.

Then just before bedtime I thought I'd blast out another track and this one appeared. I think there's quite a fun framework for maybe adjusting the lyrics too, perhaps to increase the perversity. Acknowledgements to a certain kitchen for providing the inspiration and 'bulk' for this one, which is number 12 of 14.

Not saying its the company you keep
Not saying its your moods
Not sayin’ its the way you spike your hair
But some of ya
Some of ya
Some of ya stuff ain’t normal

Not sayin’ its the vodka in the fridge
' those bottles full a' broken glass
Not sayin' its the way you shake your skin
But some of ya
Some of ya
Some of ya stuff aint normal

Not saying its the barbie full of pins
Not sayin’ its your screams
Not sayin’ that revolver shouldn’t be
But some of ya
Some of ya
Some of ya stuff ain’t normal

I c-can’t understand it
I can’t take a lead
Those chains and studs are cool
You gotta a certain attitude whenever
I raise these things
but some of your stuff ain't normal

Im sayin’
Some of your stuff ain’t normal
Yeah some of your stuff
Ain’t normal.

Monday 15 February 2010

China Tang

china tang
After a busy night out, we headed for China Tang. I'd taken the precaution to book a table for 11pm, and we were there just about on time. We headed downstairs into the restaurant instead of across to the cocktail bar - one less Filthy Martini was probably a good thing.

The subterranean entrance is quite evocative of Shanghai with Chinese lanterns low enough to need to duck and then onwards to the main dining area looking more like a restaurant on an art deco cruise liner, with dozens of staff buzzing around the busy tables.

There's a pecking order amongst the uniforms too, with white sailor costumes for the people clearing, a kind of two tone outfit for those taking the orders and a dark suit uniform with loosened ties like the Crazy 88 fighters from Kill Bill for some of the other floor managers.

As we arrived the evening was in full swing. Across from us another already large table was having extra places added as more and more of the evening fabulous arrived. This isn't a place for timid conversation and there's a continued bustle and theatrics as people's food is prepared at the tables.

We enjoyed mixed authentic Chinese dishes, leaving enough room to share toffee apple desserts and to drink endless China tea. Somehow, the Year of the Tiger had arrived.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward

Jersey Boys
With all of the song-writing activity at the moment because of that FAWM (February Album Writing Month) thing, it seemed appropriate to see a show which at least partly featured song writing within it.

Jersey Boys has been in the West End for quite some time, and I think originated in the US and after Broadway was added to the UK list of West End musicals featuring pop.

I'll admit that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is before my time, so I didn't really have a clue about their songs, although as the evening proceeded I found that I recognised nearly all of them, chiefly from covers by other singers and bands.

The story is kind-of predictable local boy makes good/form band/become successful/have strife/disintegrate/reform to collect Hall of Fame Awards. Spinal Tap without the big amplifiers.

The setting in Jersey with Italian/gangs/Mafia connotations was interesting and the arrival of Bob Gaudio the songwriter who'd had one previous hit at age 15 with 'we wear short shorts' flipped them from quite good into a viable mainstream pop commodity.

Gaudio's hits with the band included "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Sherry Baby," "Rag Doll," "Walk Like a Man," "Bye Bye Baby," "Silence Is Golden," and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."

There's also a gay record producer, various cigar smoking bigwigs, jazzy and seedy clubs, ladies of the road and dozens of songs, mainly played for about a minute instead of the 2mins30 of the era.

Strong staging, it makes for a pleasant evening out, easy to follow, predictable storyline but an upbeat way of telling it. The house was packed - its clearly a hit with the out-of-towners.

We enjoyed it as a piece of simple entertainment. As we left the theatre, everyone was smiling and buzzing from a good evening's show.

Saturday 13 February 2010

gold taps for valentine's day

gold taps
We found ourselves in the wonderful Dorchester Hotel by way of celebrating the St. Valentine's weekend.

There's a clue about some of the occupants when you approach the Dorchester, because there's usually a Bentley or two parked outside.

Today there was also a Bugatti Veyron($1.7m) and a Lamborghini Reventon ($1.6m) parked side-by-side. The irony is that the outside parking is 'free' whilst the nearby multi storey car park has conventional fees.

As luck would have it, our room was upgraded to the splendid and magical Oliver Messel Suite, with its fanciful decoration and vistas of London.

Oliver Messel was an English artist as well as a stage set designer and the suite in the Dorchester was designed by him as well as featuring his artwork. It is now preserved as a part of national heritage, although still operates as a fully functioning and extensive hotel suite.

Amongst its guests have been Noel Coward, Bob Hope, Barbra Streisand, Marlene Dietrich, the honeymooning Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Judy Garland, Brigitte Bardot, Johnny Depp, Britney Spears, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Michael Jackson.

It was impossible not to be struck by the splendour, but also by touches such as the artwork overpainted onto the mirrors, which could be some of Messel's own handiwork.

And to smile at the golden taps with ornate fish head moulding for the bath or the more or less walk-in minibar with its full bottles of spirits (unpriced but don't ask!)

The friendly Dorchester has always been a favourite venue for a rashbre family celebration but this stay has taken it to a whole new level.
bugatti veyron

Friday 12 February 2010

FAWMing over Vlad

The problem with this February Album Writing Month thing is it becomes stealthily addictive.

When I started I thought I'd just do one tune for a giggle.

Then I logged into it again the next day and found I'd received a comment.

What's the harm in doing another one I thought?

By day three I was worrying as I found myself composing a song in bed on my iPhone.

I didn't notice the little dial on the web site for a few days and then I realised it was tracking my progress towards 14 songs. And it even changed colour at the halfway point.

Now I'm at ten.

I'm slightly embarrassed about the latest one. I've left it over on the FAWM site but won't also post it here.

It's a sort of love song. But it's to someone else's love.


He's Debra's. And had to go away for a while.

Let's not get into gender politics here. I might have a slight variation on the name (with an 'ett', perhaps?) if I was really serious. And I know that Vlad is fully devoted to Debra in any case. In only the way that a real film camera can be.

But for those of you less versed in the seductive ways of photography, I thought I'd also reference the new work from Kim Boekbinder, who wrote 31 songs in a month last year and has just sprung a nice little live set from Zebulon.

Played on the sixth. Up as an album today.

Thursday 11 February 2010

more tales from the road

american cars
I spent several hours driving again today and whilst looking at the cars in front I couldn't help spotting some of the types that have been in the news recently.

It got me thinking about today's FAWM entry, which has a reference to the current bother being experienced by a couple of the global car firms.

My song takes a view on American cars, but of course in the UK we don't really get American cars in any quantity, the Fords and such like are made in Europe with corresponding styling.

I gather that there's routinely around 150 recall notices for cars issued in the UK every year and I must admit that I've had a few of them myself. Usually along the lines of "get the gimbal-splatchet-cogs checked at the next service".

So time for another composition.

Gotta get an american automobile
I just know how it will make me feel
those little “made in America” stickers
almost enough to wet my knickers
gotta get an American automobile

Not for me a car made in Japan
wobbly brakes and airbags bang
time to legislate to make a ban
Foreign cars should go to hang
gotta get an american automobile

gotta get an american automobile
something simple made of steel
lump of engine, no stick shift
gasoline powered, auto trunk lift
gotta get an american automobile

On second thoughts an SUV
or pickup truck with two TVs
Steel gun box and lights that flash
steel bull bars to survive a crash
gotta get an american automobile

Bring me cup holders, leatherette trim
Stark eurostyling just looks grim
gotta get an American automoblie
We need to ban those electro cars
We don’t need something made for mars
gotta get an American automobile.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

dont put the cheese sandwich by the heater

P1010363 2
Another 05:45 start as I headed out to the North East through what was supposed to be snow but turned out to be quite pleasant sunshine.

The lack of snow didn't stop a few people from skidding off the roads along the way though so the journey had its share of interruptions.

I was also caught unawares as I approached my destination and a whole extra road system seemed to have been introduced. I really need to update the DVD in my Sat-Nav.

I still made it to the meeting-place, having stopped along the way to take a conference call with Paris and on another occasion to buy a sandwich, which I later ate in the car park before heading inside for the meeting. Such a glamourous lifestyle.

Tonight I've arrived at a hotel which seems to have been built in anticipation of an emerging infrastructure. Its all shiny, but only overlooks a few tin sheds and car parks.

I decided to memorise the day in my latest FAWM (February is Album Writing Month) song.

motorway adventures in Wales

Been out on the road since dawn
m4 and m6 without a yawn
my sat-nav was working fine
'till I crossed that dividing line

as I drove into northern Wales
suddenly the big map fails
so I'm stuck by a parking lot
bad sense of direction is all I've got.

alone again in this hotel room
squish the teabag with a spoon

but I still had to go to my meet
had to find my way to the right street
even had to read a real map
thought the signposting around me was crap

I'd grabbed some food at a motorway stop
Some fuel, a sandwich and fizzy pop
I put the food in the passenger well
The heater was on so it fried to hell

Everything was plastic wrappered
I was tired, some might say knackered

alone again in this hotel room
squish the teabag with a spoon

alone again in this hotel room
squish the teabag with a spoon

(to fade)

Tuesday 9 February 2010

you can be my vampire, if I can be your werewolf

Work is filling most of my available time at the moment, so the attempts to create tunes might need to take a back seat.

I'd wanted to get at least some of them with a splash of music, but events are conspiring against me, with the next two days on the road and next week already building into something with quite a lot of travel along the 'its Tuesday so it must be Brussels' kind of flavour.

So this punk tune is something of a rush job.

Y-Y-You can be my vampire
If I can be your werewolf
We can try to love each other
Till we both find out the truth.

I don’t understand the pecking order
I don’t understand your needs
Your lust for me ain’t human
Through everything it bleeds

Your otherworld attraction
is sucking at my heart

I see you in my mirror
I see your full moon stare
My instincts make me animal
Whilst for me you never care.

I can’t stake much on pleasure
My brains been locked away
You only think of punctures
Sharp teeth games you will play

My otherworld attraction
is gnawing at your heart

You got no feelings for me
Just for what will run inside
The wooden stake I’m holding
Will only make you hide

So I’ll scream and howl this evening
Its what makes me who I am
Don’t sucker me lost angel
Cos we’re both part of the damned.


Monday 8 February 2010

elementary my dear Watson

London evening
Yesterday became a day for an extended pub lunch followed by a trip to the movies. We decided to see Sherlock Holmes, which did show some quite good scenes of 'London Town' during the time that Tower Bridge was being constructed.

The trailers were for various new monster movies with lots of CGI, but I actually thought some of the gryphons and so on looked rather wooden, despite the finest animation of 2010.

By comparison, the more understated mattes and composites in Sherlock Holmes created a rather more realistic impression of late 1800s London.

There was generally a good sense of 'place' in the movie, until near the end, when they left the Houses of Parliament and ran to the top of the Tower Bridge construction for the grand denouement. Quite a hike really, just to have the fight on the top of the box girders.

There's a similar moment in Bridget Jones, when she follows Mr Darcy through a snowstorm from the Globe in Borough Market to the place where he buys the diary., which looks like its by the Royal Exchange (maybe the Mont Blanc shop?).

I know its the movies, but these would both be Oyster card moments in today's world.

Maybe I'll write a song about it.

Sunday 7 February 2010

La dama puliendo el paso, por todo la calle real

la dama -option 4
A sort of ballad today, after being enticed by the Halfpenny Orchestra’s Mexican Loteria Challenge.

They dealt me the 3: La Dama - The lady.

So I'm finding myself in Mexico.

La dama

Sitting here in this Mexican dustbowl
Where every breath tastes of sand
A wild dog barks at nothing
Small bottle of cerveza in my hand.

She walks across the main street
Tight clothes and dark tanned skin
Small flash from her brown eyes
Feel the warm gaze reel me in.

Theres a rattle in the distance
Leather boots jump a broken wheel
I see him walking towards her
Desert cape and the click of steel

She’s walked across that main street
Puliendo el paso, por todo la calle real
She’s seen me with those brown eyes
la Dama tries to show me how she feels

He’s got a switchblade out his pocket
His eyes cut through the glare
His boot’s pace quickens
On la Dama he’s locked his stare

She’s running now on that main street
Heels crack and kick up dust
Her hair flows free behind her
As towards me her die is cast

My empty cerveza bottle
I grip tightly in my hand
No match for steely violence
No grace in this scorpion land

She’s run across behind me
Perfumed musk as her skin brushes past
A crash as he reaches the cantina
Then time slows down as he moves fast

La Dama has crossed that main street
First elegance then speed
Her lover is back in Durango
Full “Te quiero mucho” need

Sipping coffee here in this dustbowl
Where every breath tastes of sand
Another wild dog barks at nothing
Before I ride out of this desert land.

I suppose some Spanish guitar could work here.

Update : warning, I tried a mix for this one, complete with one-take faux American vocals. here. Oh dear.

Special Offer : collaborate : here's the tune and you have the lyrics - so sing the vocals - it can't be that difficult to do better than me...

Saturday 6 February 2010

fawm shop

Worryingly, I am thinking about recording some of them.

In the meantime, here's the old homage track created by the Christina Nott (bass!), Mel (keys) and rashbre (stuff) collaboration quite some time ago under the original band name of 'The Mad'.

Hmm : Fire, desire, Alright.

Asylum music with limited lyrics and overly loud guitar solos.

or click here to listen

...and I've just had another couple of titles come to me:

"Memory Effect" and

"You can be my vampire, if I can be your werewolf" which might include:

"I don't understand the pecking order
its gnawing at my heart.
A moonlit kiss is all it takes
no blood keeps us apart."

as a part of a chorus. It could be really bad. Wooo.

Emily Strange

Friday 5 February 2010

one card at a time

centre point from doorway
Alongside my diffident lyric writing attempts, I feel the need to praise maximum bob who is not only writing the lyrics (which are quite decent in any case) but then also getting them to the level of a published song.

Some are broadly accompanied on bass, keys and even a spot of background percussion, whilst others feature plain guitar. If you don't have time to listen through the entire set, then try songs 3 and 4 for an interesting sample.

Last year I also enjoyed Kim Boekbinder's January equivalent, which resulted in the little enjoyable album called "31" and right now Kim is raising money for a next album as theimpossiblegirl. Check her blog although the current marshmallow post is a tough one to read.

Meantime, I'm still a'scribbin'...

One card at a time

Drank champagne and tasted high life
Needed ways to be so bold
With sixteen year Jane we ran away
That rainy night, so cold.

First time in big city
Fell in with rackets, dips and screens,
Slept by bars in doorways
Cardboard home and limited means

So deal a card my brother
A royal from the pack
Flip it over gentle
Drink some bourbon from the sack

We consorted with the devil
Crooked streets you shouldn't go
Where knives and blood stripe on the cracks
Where only cheap wines flow

So deal a card my sister
A royal from the pack
Turn it over gentle
Drink some whisky from the sack

The last time it was good here
The full moon streaked the sky
We drew a line and danced alone
Said we’d make another try

So deal a card my lover
A royal from the pack
Turn me over gentle
Drink some bourbon from the sack

But you can’t step for ever on that devil’s tail
without him looking around
He’ll catch your eye ; you cannot blink
Then kiss you without a sound.

So deal a card my lover
A royal from the pack
Flip it on me gentle
Before you leave me in this sack

Nyah - and jukebox John - I'll need your help with this one for the Ribot guitar.

Thursday 4 February 2010

french kiss-off

Another evening on the tiles, finishing (oops) on Friday so I've had to back post this.

I'll tell more of that later, but my quick inspiration for tonight's dodgy song is also from the last Being Human episode that I watched, where the recently converted werewolf fled leaving a note for another.

I thought it would be better to move the action to a little town in France, and have a proper silent bust-up, where she just leaves in her little Citroen without any explanation.

Don’t expect much sense from me
My heart’s broken in two
She left without a warning
Like a swallow out she flew

No letter on the table
No lipstick mirrored cry
No bitter final argument
Couldn’t tell what made her fly

Her crazy little auto
It even had a name
No longer parked in front of here
She’s gone and it’s my shame.

No letter on the table
No lipstick mirrored why
No bitter final reasoning
Couldn’t tell what made her fly

The cobbled street we lived on
Had pretty tales to tell
But now it only reminds me
Of loneliness and hell.

Since I’m lost and brokenhearted
The world has flipped to grey
So everything tastes sour
On this broken breakup day.

The world has lost its meaning
My life is filled with pain
Can’t be sure I’ll ever trust now
My loss is all her gain

No letter on the table
No lipstick mirrored cry
No bitter final answers here
Couldn’t tell what made her fly.

So I’m lost without direction
My heart’s been torn in two
There’s a coldness creeping over me
Since the moment that she flew

No letter on the table
No lipstick mirrored cry
No bitter final answers here
Couldn’t tell what made her fly

I think this one needs a Bminor somewhere.
Elle a rompu avec lui, and maybe I need a break from this songwriting lark.

Wednesday 3 February 2010


gothic asylum
I need to break this habit.

Bad songwriting.

This is day three.

I'm getting jitters. Yesterday, I wrote the song on my iPhone, whilst in bed after an oval-tabled dinner with a few colleagues.

Tonight I was supposed to be at another dinner, but it was cancelled, so I headed home and watched a couple of episodes of the excellent and twisty supernatural 'Being Human'.

I was doing fine for two episodes, but to avoid getting sucked into the next one I had to resist the brilliant trailer. The storyline had a gothic edge and plenty of hospital scenes.

Before I could stop myself, my next ten-minute cascade of ill formed words were dripping from my fingers.

You’ve always been high-voltage
You know how to rock the room
When you shimmy or eat sashimi
The boys around will swoon

We were a lot together
Your pink hair and green eyes
The clothes you wore you’d make your own
made every fashion a surprise.

Don’t turn yourself low voltage
Don’t let those bright lights dim
You’re better as conductor
Make new sparks not with him.

How he drove you to those aspirins
Doesn’t make me feel so strong
Gotta try to understand you now
What has happened, what went wrong?

So the ambulance attended
Paramedics did their thing
Could clean you but not fix you
Couldn’t fix a broken wing

So they’ve put you in this place now
With its white and wipe clean walls
They’re gonna put you thru high voltage
They say they’ll stop your anguished fall.

So you’ve always been high voltage
Know how to rock the place
I wanna see you be conductor now
Again your smiling face.

(EST = Electric Shock Therapy)
(when you shimmy or eat sashimi ...what was I thinking?)
A, D, E.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Triple A proportions

I thought I'd do another FAWM post in the form of a song, also related to some of today's news.
This one uses Em G and A and an occasional D (mainly).

Don't wanna be elected
Don't wanna be found out
The politicos just change their face
And make up rules to flout

It's disproportionate proportional
Triple A rated hot air
They all say anything they like
Self serving, they don't care

Forty-four thou-sand years
Repay a deficit reduction plan
So let's all adopt the position
Whilst we all go down the pan

It's disproportionate proportional
Triple A rated hot air
They all say anything they like
Opportunist, they don't care

So two months to election
Fill agenda up with noise
No-one's really listening now
Just more jobs for the boys

We're seeing the last embers
From a system crashed in flame
The parliament has run it's course
Looking for someone else to blame

It's disproportionate proportional
Triple A rated hot air
They all say anything they like
Forget truth they don't care

Sent from my iPhone

Monday 1 February 2010

no more moonbase alpha

I was going to write a post about Obama cancelling investment in the Space Station on the Moon, but I wanted to have a go at that FAWM February Album Writing Month write a song a day thing as well and realised I didn't have time for both.

So I've combined them.

Useful chords for this are C, F and G.

No more moonbase alpha
No visits to the stars
No more walks on the milky way
No parking lots on Mars

I see twinkles in your eyes, babe
And the moonbeams in your hair
As you ride the sky to infinity
Make the universe so fair

But the bankers took the money
Politicians took the rope
They wrapped it up in a message
But it couldn’t give us hope

So the twinkles in your eyes, babe
And the starlight in your face
As you jet on to tomorrow
Fill the universe with grace.

Now I’m stranded here on Earthside
SInce they made that final call
No more rocket ships to outer space
Program terminated, fail.


So the twinkles in your eyes, babe
You still speed across the sky
Make trails of silver star dust
Whilst I’m here unable to fly.

So the twinkles in your eyes, babe
And the moonbeams in your hair
You ride the sky to infinity
Make the heavens, oh so fair.

Perchance too much moonshine in the production of this?

seduced and abandoned

Magnetic Fields
There are a few bands whose music I'll buy on trust.

The Magnetic Fields is one such entity. Unlike most bands, they don't evolve the style, its a kind of hard slam of the dials into whichever genre.

Take 69 Love Songs. Literally, sixty nine tracks of poppy-styled songs, with a level of houseoftomorrow Stephin Merritt's clever lyric writing and story telling.

Then Distortion. Every track blasted with extra effects pedals and general fuzz as an experiment into the form.

And now, the new one.


A kind of counterpoint to the last one and a certain folksy crafting to the songs, which have identifiable and unscrambled instruments. Nothing that needs to be connected to anything else. Unplugged acoustic. Flugelhorn, tuba, cello, piano, tablas, cajon, leaves, accordion, violin, banjo, cuatro, sitar.

I've heard it said that its supposed to be a kind of second part of the previous album. Distortion and Realism. The album covers do match.

One of the tracks is called Seduced and Abandoned. Maybe it's their next coupling?

Anyway, worth the long wait for this second half of what could have been a double album.

Meantime, some banjo distortion from California.