Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tony Bailey

I just caught wind via the internet that Louisville drummer Tony Bailey (left) passed away. I didn't know him at all, other than him drumming in the other band named Lords (above) in their first incarnation and the correspondence between our two bands over sharing the name a few years ago.

I don't know the circumstances of his death nor want to know anymore than I do but what leads me to post on the matter are two things.

One is that Tony was part of a gig experience that legitimately changed my musical life. I managed to get myself to Derby in 1998 for the Mogwai/Aerial M show at the Loft. It was no mean feat I might add. I think I stayed on someone's floor after missing my train/bus home. I don't recall. I have a few photos from the night that I'll scan in once I move house. But anyway, it was Mogwai I was going to see. The idea of doing instrumental music was a pretty fresh one to me then and not just instrumental music but wordless music still delivered with huge amounts of passion and a not inconsiderable amount of fury. I still look back on the early Mogwai shows I saw as being genuinely amazing, at times unhinged and above all super, super loud events.

But it was Aerial M that night that blew me away. I dug Mogwai of course but I guess I knew what to expect. It's Aerial M that sticks in my mind from that night (and in Birmingham on the same tour). I didn't expect to hear a band play with such a measured approach and to veer not between loud and quiet/tension and release but between awesome beauty and a woozy, sinister edge that to my ears at the time even superceded that of mainman David Pajo's previous band Slint. They blew my mind by barely doing anything at all. Tony Bailey, like Pajo (and Cassie Marrett on bass and Tim Furnish on guitar), seemed to constantly be playing within himself on purpose, like having an amp on 10 and only barely touching it which gives this strange tension to proceedings. It absolutely changed the way I looked at making music and it was almost like I was hearing things I'd wanted to make all along. It's easy to write off that early Aerial M music as part of the post-rock deal that made the underground in the UK so dull for about 10 years but re-assessing it now, 10 years down the line, it still sounds as unique and fresh as it did then.

Secondly, Bailey was just 2 days younger than me. Look at the list of bands he played in and the sheer amount of effort he dedicated to his music: http://history.louisvillehardcore.com/index.php?title=Tony_Bailey

I don't know how he had the time. If everyone making music used this guy's output as a benchmark it'd be just the kind of mass stepping-of-one's-game-up that the world needs no?

New Lords 7"


Sleeve art for forthcoming split 7" between Lords and Black Feelings from Canada on sexy purple wax. We contributed Space And Death Recipe which is a new song recorded after our ATP show in May. Black Feelings contribute Lost Rings Pt.1 which is something of a psych masterpiece reigned into 5 minutes or so. All in all, well worth adding to the shoeboxes under your bed. http://www.weberecords.comWe Be Records has all the info...

Monday, September 28, 2009


The riff that comes in at about 2mins is so sweet. Head over to Merge to stream the new Polvo record In Prism to hear it in all it's Brian Paulson-recorded, non-You Tube lustre...

Scene: Polvo Head Office

"Guys, how about we go to this part at about 2 minutes?"
(plays riff)

"Who's for lunch? I think we're done here"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nathan Bell

Nathan Bell (with Rogério Martins, Richard Ribeiro and Luciano Valério) live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 11 2009.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Lawyer Tone

Get back to the office lawyer-boy, your secretary has scheduled a meeting with the Good Taste Police for 3pm!

Bilge Pump

It struck me last night, whilst watching Bilge Pump for what I estimate to be the 200th time, that they really are the best band in the world. I've sung their praises in a little more detail here so I'll spare the gushing except to say that the Bilge/Lords Tour of March 2008 was so much fun I didn't leave my house for about a month afterwards. I managed to film a little bit of Bilge every night on the shittiest digital camera in the world and I recommend you ignore the quality and watch some of them now. The Bristol County Sports gig goes in my memory as the best Lords gig we ever did by some distance, concluding with Kush from Zun Zun Egui on vocals and Turps on drums (and Gringo with the quality video camera somewhere at the bar) and then Bilge still blew us off the stage.
The clip above is from Milton Keynes and features the re-appearance of the now-famous "Bletchley Omelette" where many youthful men become so excited by Bilge Pump they strip to the waist and hoist the band above their heads like Gods. Rightfully so.
In true You Tube style there is one comment:

"Lol look at all those faggots"


So here are those clips:

"Bastard Scaffolder" and "Up The Nest" from Nottingham 20/3

"Can I Touch Your Leg?" from London 21/3

"Thank You Very Much" from Bristol County Sports 22/3

"Natural Blonde" plus the crowd playing the drums and a death-defying amplifier leap from Bristol County Sports 22/3

"Dour Hogwax" from Dalston 23/3

"Natural Blonde" featuring Kevin Smith on 'curtain' from Dalston 23/3

Joe embarks on Ian MacKaye-style speech about the quality of the toilets (followed by "A Storm In A Teardrop") from Milton Keynes 24/3

"Up The Nest" thwarted by one and a half pints of ale from Milton Keynes 24/3

Crowd surfing and Turps in the audience from Milton Keynes 24/3

"I Am Perfectly Fine" from Liverpool 25/3

"Up The Nest" from Leeds 26/3


Wednesday, September 23, 2009



He can read your mind.



Kogumaza is Neil Johnson (Bob Tilton, Savoy Grand, Wolves Of Greece), Katharine Eira Brown (Little Girl With Cherries, Not In This Town) and myself and we have what is (relatively speaking) a frenzy of gigs coming up. Here they are; click them for info:

w/Bilge Pump
30 LIVERPOOL JOHN MOORE'S ART SCHOOL w/Bellini and Cath & Phil Tyler and poster art exhibition (FREE)

w/Billy Mahonie
10 LONDON BLOOMSBURY BOWLING LANES - International John Peel Day

We have also just finished mastering 4 songs (thanks Graham Langley) for release on 2 seven inches on the Low Point and Lancashire & Somerset labels in the near future.

A Feast Of Music...

If you're anything like my good friend Ross you'll go all foamy at the thought of some of the bands that came out the US underground in the 80s and early 90s. Despite the constant re-packaging of what was (I presume) a series of beautifully spontaneous outbursts of music into some grand plan re-told on DVD with a Thurston Moore and Byron Coley commentary, there are still some truly killer bands that thankfully remain off the radar for documentary makers and lucrative reformation tours. Kind of like the UK come to think of it. That's another column/book though...
I'll get to the point. Chris Thomson has offloaded all his cassettes onto Henry at Chunklet who has decided to do the right thing and make them available for folks to listen to. First up is a series of MP3s from a demo by Cupid Car Club.
Go here: http://www.chunklet.com/index.cfm?section=blogs&ID=554

Monday, September 21, 2009

Film: Moon (2009)

I hate going to the cinema. I think it must stem from some long-suppressed childhood memory. Maybe I was flashed at? Who knows. All I do know is that being made to endure the ticks, rustles, coughs, chomps, nasal whistles, mobile phone beeps and whispered questions of a room full of strangers (not to mention all of the above from myself too) is close to a form of torture for me. So I rarely go. I especially rarely go and see a science fiction movie.
My primary problem with movies of the genre is that they're invariably made by people who have an interest in details. It's understandable. In order to create a believable futureworld you have to be able to consider every last detail to make this vision believable. You have to think how door hinges would work in the future, how tin openers would evolve, how you'd take a dump in zero gravity and so on or your film will just end up being the subject of a very detailed website pointing out the flaws and contradictions in the science involved and people who go to fan conventions would laugh at you. And, most importantly for me, you're saddled with a film that lasts 17 hours and 17 hours is a long time to spend in the cinema.
So why the hell did I end up watching Moon, the directorial debut by Duncan Jones (aka Zowie Bowie, son of the Thin White Duke)?
It wasn't just because it was free.

It's because the cosmos lights something up within me. I can stare at well-taken images and film of the solar system and our own planet for ever. The recent BBC documentary James May At The Edge Of Space made me cry. I share most pre-pubescent boys' dream of being an astronaut but it's not to boldly go where no man has gone before but just so I could sit there and look at Earth in one frame of my eyesight and in total peace and silence. Imagine it. So I went along figuring that, if nothing else, I'd get to see some beautiful shots of the Moon and Earth whilst sitting in a comfortable chair.

What I actually got was totally unexpected. For starters, this is a very compact and minimal film, weighing in around the length of your average John Hughes flick at just over 90 mins.
This has been achieved by completely stripping the science fiction elements down to simple offerings of only the most important information. You know the central character Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) is on a 3 year employment contract to man a space station on the Moon and oversee automated processes to mine Helium 3 from the soil. That's about as far as the tech side of things gets. You see machines work and processes happen and quickly understand that the details are somehow not important and that you should concentrate your efforts elsewhere and that being wowed by a person's vision of the future is not Jones' aim here.

The great thing about this film is that it manages to completely capture what it is about the moon that fascinates us but yet scares us too. This sense of the unknown, of a freedom and ambiguity that is both very liberating and very oppressive too. The juxtaposition of tight, strip-light-lit claustrophobia and this overwhelming sense of space that the surface of the moon has gives the film a strange and creepy quality. Jones has been careful to restrict the number of locations that the film is set in to accentuate these feelings of contrast and subtle touches like the repeating refrain of the music help to bring about a dream-like state in the viewer that allows you to accept some of the films more peculiar moments as being conceivable.

The mid-section of the film is willingly given over to this feeling of peculiarity and confusion as the routine of Sam's existence gets abruptly broken when he crashes his lunar mining truck after seeing the vision of a young girl in his path on the moon's surface. He comes round in the medical bay, tended to by the onboard robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) and then impulsively wants to get outside of the space station where he eventually stumbles across himself, unconcious in the lunar truck you presumed he had been rescued from.
Any other science fiction film would have force-fed you so much information by this point that, as the viewer you would probably understand that what is occurring is that 2 clones of the same man (unaware that they are clones) are coming face to face with each other. As it is, Jones' embracing of the sense of the vague and the mysterious means you never quite accept that solution even when it slowly dawns on the duo of Sams that this is the case and that the weekly correspondence with their "family" is pre-recorded and that the reason they can't contact Earth is not due to a malfunctioning transmitter but because the people who cloned them and put them there don't want to them to know the truth.

Throughout, Jones comes back to this theme of humanity shining through even the coldest and bleakest situations; shining through where they should be no humanity there. The messages Sam hears from the bosses of the mining company are noticeably less tender than the robot voice of GERTY and when the realisation hits the 'old' Sam that he is a clone and he tries to hack into the computer system to check CCTV tapes it is GERTY who helps him do it. The tapes themselves reveal a succession of Sams, each growing more thrilled as time draws closer to the end of their 3 year spell and they view the same pre-recorded messages from their family and long to return to Earth. Each growing more ill in the week leading up to the conclusion of their contract as some pre-installed disease eats them up. Each climbing into a pod to be returned to Earth only to be vapourised and a new Sam delivered from a stock of hundreds in the depths of the station to awake, dazed and as though having been in an accident and with the necessary memories of their arrival and their life on Earth pre-implanted in their brain.
Rockwell shines here, conveying complete deflation of an already struggling person with a subtlety that is hard in a film where you play both the central characters.

It's far from perfect though. This idea of space bringing about feelings of helplessness is nothing new - in fact, it could be argued that the basic premise for this film is pretty much Red Dwarf right down to HOLLY/GERTY. Also, working in the realm of space travel, human beings as alien forms and cloning is hardly fresh ground when your Dad is David Bowie and some of the visual elements, appealing though they are, are straight from the Stanley Kubrick school of font-obsession and creating futuristic environments from source material that we understand as being from the past.
I also have a problem with the ending. The pair of Sams work out a way of blasting the 'original' Sam back to Earth in a pod before the help team arrives to fix the crashed truck and discovers them both there. In the end, the illness that overtook each of his predecessors finally gets him too and it's decided that the 'new' Sam should be the one to go in the pod. It seems to me that they go to great lengths to give any future clones a better chance of working out their situation and I read this as being because they don't know if the pod will get back to Earth OK or not. I like this ambiguity and it seems deliberate.
There is a beautiful moment where the 'original' Sam dies just after he sees the pod with the 'new' Sam blast itself off the moon and into space. You understand somehow that because they're clones it doesn't matter which of them makes it back and in effect it's just Sam Bell returning to Earth and not one version or another. You also accept that the pod maybe won't make it, but the next clone of Sam might work out a better way, or the next clone, or the next clone and so on and so on...
This makes the voiceover from a talk show (in which Sam is exposing the conspiracy upon his return) that has been overdubbed over the shots of the pod approaching the Earth's atmosphere a little too neat for a film that has been built, up to that point, on deliberately shaky foundations. It feels like this was tacked on at the behest of a focus group or to conclude the film more completely when it didn't need it.

Having said that, this is a fantastic film. Rather than being a science fiction movie and dealing with detail and technological wonders in order to astonish an audience, it's a supremely touching story about how important the past (memories) and the future (hope) are to establishing exactly what it is that makes a human being human. Even though the memories that Bell has are fake they are still memories and even though he/they understand that they are clones they still have a human instinct to help and to protect each other and most importantly to return home - even if they've never been there before.
You feel this compassionate instinct too in a sense of profound upset when you realise the videos of a family that are keeping Sam sane and motivated are of a family long-gone, of a family he never really knew. You really feel for him and how utterly alone he is and how utterly pointless his existence is too. Let's not forget you're feeling this about a film in which the 3 central characters are 2 clones and a robot.
Like I said, this is a film about humanity where there should be none.
If Jones is going to show the same level of compassion and warmth in all his movies then consider me a fan.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Time To Go To Bed

Will Spin Spin The Dogs finally take Gringo to MTV?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Left Lion Circus Extravaganza Artwork


One more new piece of design work. This is for Left Lion Magazine's upcoming Circus Extravaganza. It's an a day-long event of music, art, comedy, spoken word, dance, food and more and it's taking place across venues in the Canning Circus (geddit?) area of Nottingham.
Editor Jared wanted a simple and striking take on old Circus posters coupled to cinema-credit-style text to maximise the amount of words we were able to get onto the poster, magazine ad and double-sided flyer. A good job as the line-up is a whopper...
See you there!

A Couple Of New Poster Designs...



2 new ones for the masters of good musical taste in our nation's capital: Baba Yaga's Hut at Corsica Studios

"We’re all going to be sick of these by the weekend"

You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I've seen a few bits of illustration work that look ever so slightly like I might have done them but I'm always very wary of thinking it outright because the work I do is so small scale that I can't ever believe anyone would see any of it let alone be influenced by it in anyway. What I do is hardly unique either. But I can't help looking at the latest poster for comedian Jimmy Carr and wondering...

Illustration Fail

Illustration Fail

Mr Fairground Airbrusher: what were you thinking?

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I have listened to this song about 200 times in the last 24 hours. It might be perfect. Fuck it, it is. Jealousy levels?

As usual, You Tube Comments come up with the gold:

neelradhakrishnan (1 day ago) I agree, it is a different style and some may like it, however in my opinion it is not very good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Energi Molla Poster


I love doing these twice-yearly posters for the Energi Molla in Kongsberg, Norway. We came up with a rough rule that the poster should feature the building itself each time. So the previous 2 looked like this:



This time I wanted a different colour scheme and feel and was inspired by some photos of a snowy Kongsberg on Flickr. The rough idea being that even in the depths of winter, the venue glows with an excitable warmth. Marte at the venue sent me some photos of the building taken in her rear view mirror and it seemed to suit the idea in that it gives a feel of someone not really wanting to leave the warmth and happiness of the venue. Next up: Energi Molla as spaceship...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Six Finger Satellite


Friday, September 04, 2009


Thursday, September 03, 2009

TV Adverts

Working from home means sitting in front of Dave all day in my pants eating eggs. There, I admit it. It means I have become very familiar with TV advertising to the point where I can recite certain ads word for word. I'm not proud of this. Here are a few that have been making me consider a career change of late:

Glade Air Freshener

"I want to do a poo in Paul's bathroom"
"No problem kid. Here's what's going to happen. Fuck off to Paul's house and have a poo and then when you're done see if Paul's Mum will wipe your shitty arse because I seriously fucking doubt it"

Optimax Laser Eye Treatment

This one is on the Freeview channels more than Jeremy Clarkson and it makes me wish someone would invent the mind eraser from Men In Black so I could wipe clean each of the twenty thousand times I've heard this woman say:
"I really do just bang on about it to anyone"
Do you? Do you maybe stop to consider they might not care? Isn't talking wildly about one subject to anyone indiscriminantly a sure sign of impending madness?
Amazingly, I couldn't find it online, save for this You Tube clip that appears to have been made by someone I feel a deep kinship with.

Peter Halpin's Cornering Of The Market

I am sure Peter Halpin is a nice guy. I hold nothing against him. And I know that the people in adverts are actors and actresses, even the ones for washing powders that are filmed shakily to make it more 'real'. I understand that. But I see this guy so many times in a day that when I dream he's started taking the place of my Dad.

Actually I just found this: http://www.youtube.com/user/peterwhalpin

and within it this:

I take it all back. Has someone superimposed END DAYS over the top of this montage or am I seeing things?


"Act like a cunt to whoever you meet as long as it benefits you". As though anyone anywhere is doing anything remotely constructive with any of the time they have gained back by using faster technology. We use Broadband and hi-speed communications in order that we can sit around doing nothing more often, complaining that we're bored. Fact.
And you know when an advertiser uses a regional accent it's to soften the blow of an evil message by making it more friendly, more down-to-earth. Until they start using Norfolk accents in adverts for any other reason than comedy, I will remain unconvinced.


Hard day at the office advertising guys? How on Earth did you think of this? That awesome dance routine, with treadmills and a vaguely 80s style pop song? Oh wait a second...

If sitting around all day on the internet is what it takes to work in advertising then where's my job?

Grrrr. More soon. Unless I do get a job of course.

Twin Peaks Party

When Matt, Neil, Selene and Chris moved house and wanted a housewarming party it was decided that, at long last and after many discussions in the pub as to who would be who, there would finally be a Twin Peaks Fancy Dress Party.
Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin/sets/72157622229615654/
No Bob, no Man From Another Place, 3 Doctor Jacobys and a little too much to drink...
Good times.

Sheriff Truman

Doctor Lawrence Jacoby

Leo Johnson's Birthday Party

FBI Regional Chief Gordon Cole

New Work

Just completed this flyer and poster set for the Bodega in Nottingham:


Tuesday, September 01, 2009


http://www.dikipedia.org/ - a Wiki of dicks.

From the entry for Victoria Beckham:

"She and an odd assortment of angular haircuts appear regularly in the tabloids, although paparazzi reportedly dislike her for refusing to smile on request. Perhaps it is because the smile in question resembles two greasy cocktail wieners pulled back to expose an unwrapped packet of Chiclets"

and of everyone's least favourite rock vocalist:

"Axl Rose escaped Lafayette in 1982—probably the smartest thing he’s ever done, all things considered—and wound up in Los Angeles. There he teased his hair, put on make-up, and performed with various local bands, including such spectacular butt rockers as Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe), Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns), and the absolute buttiest rocker of them all, Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. "

actually, make that this guy:

"Many dismissed Stone Temple Pilots as a second-rate Pearl Jam and Weiland as a second-rate version of Pearl Jam’s leader Eddie Vedder, himself a quintessential dick"