Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bilge Pump - "Rupert The Sky"

When Drowned In Sound redesigned their website, this review got lost. I found it again so here it is:


Aaaah, Bilge Pump.

There exists in the UK a sub-underground culture of bands that make fine music but never stick their head above the trench long enough for anyone to truly notice it. It's not a reflection on the quality at hand but more on the way that people pick up on bands and respond to things like 'hype' on a really basic person-to-person level. The UK has always had a really strong and interconnected network of bands like this, from which a Franz Ferdinand or a Foals has occasionally sprung, again not as a reflection of quality but more a reflection of ambition and willingness (and opportunity) on those bands' part to 'play the game' a little.

Ben Patashnik's comment (in the Dis review) that Bilge Pump have somehow got the potential to "grow into being a fine underground band" is a statement that perfectly encapsulates what I am referring to. If by 'underground' band he means a band like the aforementioned Foals or Mclusky who are 'underground' in the sense of that being a buzzword or a descriptive term of their output (in the same way as 'indie' has become) then he is right. With some 'work' and a little direction then they could become that. I don't doubt it. But those bands are as overground as it gets. The band isn't just the people playing and writing the music, it's a whole network of individuals making it happen for the small cottage industry that is 'the band'. Which is all fine of course but it's not to be mistaken with what this is.

The actual "underground" in the UK is just that. Underground. Self-sufficient. Relatively undisturbed. It exists on a rung way below even the most lowly touring bands that arrive on our shores from the USA. Despite this, Bilge Pump have become not just a fine underground band, but the finest, bar none. The influence of this band, both as a musical unit and as people, is hugely far reaching. Cultish even.

Fortunate then, that the second album from them, Rupert The Sky, is so amazingly, heart-swellingly awesome.

Every song is a microscopic world filled with ideas (both musical and lyrical) that lesser bands could extend to entire concept albums. Musically it swings and rocks as hard as Zeppelin at times, as a 3 piece band they have a natural psychic ability to make absolutely anything, no matter how noisy, possess an irresistable groove. It's humorous but never wacky, noisy but never blustering, complicated but never pointless. The lyrics are a series of perfect little snapshots, like some strange haiku. Lines like

"We were genuine happy children, but our Dad was a miserable cove. His parting shot... spread his brains across my frock"

are as bizarre as they are rich in their knack for setting a scenario that would be far less complete were it described in any more detail. Couple this to a musical language that is entirely their own and any notions of comparing Bilge Pump to other bands seems somehow redundant.
When people talk about bands existing out of the mainstream or being independant it's usually an 'angle', and more to the point you're usually being told that by a manager or a journalist thus making the whole statement something of an oxymoron. In a way, it's a shame Bilge don't make more of their history, lineage and influence on others as maybe listing a series of celebrity fans of the band might make it easier for shitty journalists to fill a few hundred words and maybe it'd give people an 'angle' on them. But at the same time, it's what makes them (and this record) so amazing.

The only reason I didn't give it 10 is because there's not enough of it and I'm gutted that I'll have to wait another couple of years for the next one.

Felix Artwork

Felix LP Mock-up

Felix CD Mock-up

Mock-ups for the finished artwork for the forthcoming Felix album "You Are The One I Pick". Photos by Lucy, layout by me and tweaking, nudging, kerning and all-round design excellence courtesy of Craig McCaffrey. Who played in the band Paul Newman. The world is small...
(Please don't use these without permission)

Here's some photos of it's creation (click the photo):

Never Work With Children Or Animals

New Poster


New poster for Baba Yaga's Hut at Corsica Studios for their upcoming Master Musicians Of Bukkake and Flower Corsano Duo show.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Holga Photos

Yet more Holgary goodness arrives in the post from the processing lab: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin/sets/72157614224224605/




Kurt's Guitars Now


Awesome, geeky guitar website about Kurt Cobains equipment and where it is now. Also includes stuff that didn't belong to him that his missus sold to the Hard Rock Cafe anyway.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Lucky Horse - An Appeal

One of the achievements in my life I am least proud of is that (according to their old website) I have played the now-deceased-but-soon-to-be-revived Highbury Garage venue in London 18 times. That is a colossal waste of anyone's time.
Early on in this procession of pointless jaunts down the motorways of England, I developed a bit of a superstition.
On the Archway Road, in Highgate, there used to be a shop called E.Ploton Sundries that sold art equipment on the right hand side as you come into London. The address is 273 Archway Road.

In the window above the shop is a fantastic ornament of a horse. It's about 12 inches across and looks like it's made out of painted white wood, or maybe even ivory.
Before E.Ploton closed, Flickr user London RIP took this photo of the shopfront and you can see 'my' horse clearly in the window above it on the right:

I have no idea what made me notice it but when I did, the gig that followed went very well. So well that next trip down I made a point of looking at the horse as we entered London.
And so it's gone on. Everytime we go to London for music I have to set eyes on the horse or it's a guaranteed bad gig. I'd even drive out of my way to see it. I have taken a few pictures of it over the years, all from passing cars and all terrible. I even made the band Fixit Kid detour and stop the van on the way back from a gig in Camden that had gone horribly so that I could show them where the horse is for future trips to London.
A while ago, the lovely signage of E.Ploton was removed to make way for it's new tenants Orchid Florists who are still in there now.
I guess the room it resides in is a flat. The horse has been there for over 10 years now easily so it has to belong to someone who lives there as opposed to it being a store room or something.

So here is my appeal. If you own the horse then name your price. I will pay anything within reason for the horse. Or I can trade you something for the horse. Or, if you require some graphics work doing I will oblige in exchange for the horse. If you live near the horse then please relay my appeal to the owners of the horse. If you work in Orchid under the horse then please get in touch with insider information on the horse.
It's become such an important part of my gigging life that I feel owning it myself would somehow align the universe. It'd certainly make my front room look at least 600% more awesome at the very least.

Thanks for reading. I know one day I'll drive past and it won't be there anymore, I'd like that to be because it's in my front room.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whose Idea Was This? Pt II

If you'd shown me this 10 years ago my mind would have imploded.

Whose Idea Was This?

I had the fortune/medical misfortune to have to stand in front of J Mascis soundchecking a guitar through 3 full stacks and a Fender Twin last week. It was like dental floss for my brain. It led me to Dinosaur on You Tube where I found this:

What the christing hell is going on here? Dinosaur on the Letterman show around the Green Mind era doing The Wagon but with the house band playing too. Whose idea was this? Murph's relegated to standing up playing toms and the house guitarist goes in two-footed with a solo over the vocals that might as well be a 7ft tall middle finger in Mascis' face. I don't know much about Dinosaur's personal lives but I do hope they were all seriously high for their sakes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

You Tube

The first in an ongoing series of tremendous and inspiring You Tube videos juxtaposed with a genuine comment or comments posted about them by You Tube users. When the aliens land and take Earth to some universe-court-of-law (I imagine it to be like the futuristic chamber in Bill & Ted) then You Tube comments will be Exhibit A in the case for the mass cull of humankind. Anyway, I give you Washington DC's Nation Of Ulysses performing in DC in 1991 as a 4 piece without Steve Kroner who had been packed off to do medical experiments*:

biggayUtube (8 months ago)
Where's all the fucking dancing and good times and subversively making out promised in their album cover screeds? It's just a bunch of too-cool shy kids standing still and watching a ponce fall down.

* Possible fib.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Actual Conversation

Overheard at a gig...

Band member: "Hey man, have you got any jams?"
Promoter: "What?"
Band member: "You know, like, jams. That you could, you know, play before we play?"
Promoter: "What?"
Band member: "You know, like, jams. Party jams. That you could, you know, like, play over the you know, like, system before we play"
Promoter: "Oh. Like what?"
Band member: "You know, like, jams"
Promoter: "Such as?"
Band member: "Oh. Like, anything really".

New Holga

Some new Holga-ry goodness, this time from France:


Pleasing Tree

Tennis Defeat

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Actual Proof Of God's Existence

At least Ricky gets to spend the next few weeks at home enjoying the unseasonably good weather.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Nasal Concerto

Phil & Joanne's Wedding

Photos and videos from Lord and Lady Welding's big day at Augill Castle here:

A bit of Led Zep for you:


Having promoted gigs since the late 90s, I've noticed a few changes to the way things work with bands coming over from the USA. It used to be that the bands were largely the same as me, they were involved in similar exploits to me back in their hometown and it had the cosy feeling of camaraderie.
Then the booking agents got more plentiful and the guarantees got more unrealistic. Then the bands themselves started seeming like alien creatures who no-one could relate to operating in microcosms of the larger mainstream rock industry.
Somewhere along the line of ATP reformations, NME-covered guerilla gigs and 'emotional hardcore' becoming the musical norm, the tag "DIY" has shifted from meaning "do it yourself" to being more of a term of description for a musical style or, worse still, a type of dress. If this all makes me sound like an old fucker then fair enough.
The economic climate and the way money is made from music means that bands can't live off touring and recording anymore. And by 'live' I mean make a minimum wage, barely. So the bands that tour are people with some financial security and it's fucking the music world right up. Because of the intense documenting of behaviour that the internet affords, gigs become almost tribute nights. Even the photographers at the front are there to replicate something they already saw from a gig that already happened. Couple this to only seeing bands who are fortunate to be able to afford to live out fantasies of bands they liked when they were growing up and you can work out why I'm grumpy.
Worst of all is American bands using the DIY network to further their own asses. The worst of the bunch is Wavves. Maybe I misread them? Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick? Could be.

But read this:

"I think in the back of my head I knew I wasn't exactly mentally healthy enough to continue to tour the way I have been since February. Honest truth is this has all happened so fast and I feel like the weight of it has been building for months now with what seems like a never ending touring and press schedule which includes absolutely zero time to myself. I'm sorry to everyone who has put effort into this and to everyone who supported me. Mixing ecstasy valium and xanax before having to play in front of thousands of people was one of the more poor decisions I've made(duh) and I realize my drinking has been a problem now for a good period of time. Nothing else I can do but apologize to everyone that has been affected by my poor decision making. I made a mistake. Not the first mistake I've made and it for sure wont be the last. I'm human. Don't know why I chose the biggest platform I could imagine to loose my shit, but that's life. You live and you learn."

and tell me you don't want to punch the face right off this overpriviliged, typically-American little whiner.


Just got back from a week in Les Forges, near Poitiers, in France.

It was a week of excellent tranquility with one exception. After an evening spent exploring meadows, petrified forests, pastures, woods, lakes and the like, I settled down to watch a James Bond film only to suddenly feel a very painful concentrated pinch to the base my erm... "chap". It was enough to make me jump. I feared a pube entanglement until a repeat occurrence sent me scurrying to the loo to check inside my shorts.

Good job I did because one of these was clamped onto my groin:

I had no fucking clue what it was and immediately dissolved into a liquid-like mess of panic based around the quite reasonable assumption that this spider/scorpion thing had just laid it's eggs in my penis. This panic was enhanced by the discovery that not only had whatever it was bitten me, it was hanging on for dear life too. It took me about 3 goes to detach it from my flesh and then throw it down the sink like a big girl before whimpering at the sight of two freshly bleeding teeth marks in my youknowwhat.

Turns out it was a Tick; an external parasite that lives off the blood of mammals. They like woodland areas, especially those with deer and human track areas. They like humid, slightly damp conditions and they basically hang around waiting for something nice and living to be a host for them. The warmth emitted from my flowing short leg was enough to convince this one that my genitals were prime Tick real estate. I'm flattered.

The bad news is they carry all kinds of fucking hideous diseases (mainly Lyme Disease) and there are horror stories online of people being paralysed or going mad as a result of an untreated bite.
The good news is they can sometimes hang about on you for over a day without you noticing and can be next-to-impossible to detach after getting this comfy so good job it chose a particularly sensitive spot to sink itself in and I managed to get rid of it within a few minutes.

Pleased to report no side effects, temperature, swelling or mentalism as yet. Will update with any breaking developments.