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Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts tagged with ‘indie’

Come And Play In The Milky Night

In which we listen to Stereolab

That’s the title of a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately, by Stereolab. It’s a beautiful lullaby of a song, sung in a way that makes it almost an instrumental, structured almost as a round, with a single verse which starts in the middle of a musical phrase. I’ve liked it for a long time, but just recently I’ve been listening to it quite often. It sounds like whirling stars.

I have a cunning Christmas present plan – but I’m not telling you what it is.

Anyway: what do you want for Christmas?

Saturday

In which a song reminds me of Scotland

…is one of my favourite cosy, romantic songs. It’s by The Clientele, and it goes something like:

The taxi lights were in your eyes
So warm again, St Mary’s spires
The carnival was over in the rain
And on and on, through Vincent St
The evening hanging like a dream
I touched your faith*
And saw the night again

When I lived in Edinburgh, I thought it was a song about the city. After all, the Clientele did record one song almost definitely set in Edinburgh,** and it has both a St Mary’s Cathedral (with distinctive spires)*** and a Saint Vincent St. Glasgow, though, has both too.

And in your arms, I watch the stars
Ascend, and sleep
The loneliness away for a while
Your fingers wide and locked in mine
I kiss your face, I kiss your eyes
Until they turn to me and softly smile

Edinburgh or Glasgow, I wish I was up in Scotland this weekend. I’m sure I will be again soon.

* Until writing this post, I thought it said “I touched your face”. Listening very carefully just now, for the first time I realised it’s actually “faith”.

** A B-side called “6am, Morningside”

*** Actually, it has two St Mary’s Cathedrals, just to confuse people. One of them, the Episcopalian one, has three distinctive spires that are a major city landmark, especially when you look down the length of Princes St. The Catholic one, on the other hand, is tucked away inconspicuously behind a shopping centre.

Comical

In which we're off to Oxford

As mentioned the other day, I spent most of the weekend at Caption, the annual small-press and self-published comic convention in Oxford. It wasn’t somewhere I’d visited before – I’m someone who looks on people who can draw properly with awe and admiration – but it turned out to be a nice day out. Held in a community centre which felt like an overgrown collection of church halls inside, it was a nice quiet relaxed event. “Ooh, it’s a bit quiet this year,” said the people I was with, who were veterans, but I didn’t mind that myself. It helped that it was on Cowley Road, which made it easy for us to pop out for a meal in the early evening, then nip back to the convention. And, unlike the centre of the city, Cowley Road isn’t completely flooded with tourists.

What will you do when the music stops?

In which we listen to The Pipettes

As I said yesterday, I’ve been listening a lot recently to the debut album from The Pipettes, released a few days ago. It’s light, bouncy, pop music, always trying to evoke school discos and teenage fumbling. The band deliberately tries to come across, it seems, as a modern indie version of a 1960s girl group; hiding the musicians behind the scenes and relying on the singers to front the band.

It’s a very nostalgic record – a band full of twentysomethings, aimed at twentysomethings, singing at the emotional level of fourteen-year-olds abandoned on the dancefloor. Even when they’re singing about sex, they still sound somehow childish. It’s not surprising to find that they’re fairly closely connected to The Go! Team, whose debut album – which I do like a lot – always strikes me as being the auditory equivalent of a TV talking-head nostalgia show. The Pipettes are similar, a nostalgia band for the London indie scene; you could never imagine this record having been made anywhere other than south-east England.

On the whole, though, it is good to listen to. It’s an easy listen, and there are some good tunes and hooks in there. Whoever is writing the songs knows how to put a catchy melody to equally catchy lyrics, even if the lyrics of one song – “It’s Not Love (But It’s A Feeling)” – always make me think of that cosmetics commercial with Anna Friel in it.* They will probably do quite well. By the end of the year they’ll be a Radio One staple, cropping up on Radio Two occasionally too;** then by the end of next year we’ll be wondering what happened to them.

* You know, the one with the corset and the dirty smirk. That is Anna Friel, isn’t it? The particular lyrics are from the chorus: “touch a little tighter, eyes a little brighter”.

** Actually, I have to admit here, the first time I heard them was on Mark Radcliffe’s Radio 2 show, which I listen to if I’m still travelling at that time of night.

At last it’s Friday

In which we plan to get away

Sorry to be whining so much about work, but that’s all my mind’s been full of this week. The pressure is so draining, my mind feels numb and empty by the time I get home, and I have nothing else to write about. My mind feels numb most of the daytime too; it’s at the stage where I just sit down at my desk and blank for a couple of minutes until I remember where I am and what the next task is.

At least I’m off away again this weekend, so I should be able to put work out of my mind for a couple of days. I’m going to Caption, a convention for alternative, small-press and zine-style comics. It’s not a scene I know much about, but I am hoping to be educated.

This week I have mostly been obsessed by: Last.fm,* the website that tells you what bands people are listening to. I’ve been refreshing it regularly just to check that it is correctly identifying which tracks I’m playing – it does sometimes not seem to recognise some obscure stuff.** I’ll post the link to my profile here, when my profile has more on it. Hopefully it will lead to finding more music I don’t know much about. I am hoping to be educated.

I’ve also been listening over and over to the first album by The Pipettes, a 60s girl-band in modern indie clothing. Review to come when I have time enough to write it.

That’s all for this week, then; one more day of stress stress stress, then at 5pm I can zoom off down to Oxfordshire. And then I’ll come back on Monday all refreshed, hopefully there will be news of the cat, and I’ll be all ready for another week of stress to grind me down. Just maybe, too, I’ll have been educated.

* also known as Audioscrobbler, which always makes me think of The Box of Delights by John Masefield, in which “scrobbling” means “kidnapping”.

** Usually things from Fluxblog, whose mp3s also confuse my mp3 playing software – it can’t read the track length properly, and usually tells me that the file is thousands of hours long.

More from London

In which we listen to a friend play

One of the events from my trip to London recently: a gig by the band Montoya, at the Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon.* I have an interest to declare, of course: John, Montoya’s lead singer, is someone I’ve known for years, and don’t see at all often enough.**

I’d not seen them play before, but they really were rather good; and I’m not just saying that because John’s a friend of mine.*** Lively, bouncy indie-rock with intelligent lyrics and intelligent chord progressions; look out for them.

I shot off a whole roll of photos, but – like the Shimura Curves gig a few days earlier, I’m not really happy with them. The Shimuras photos had put me off doing natural-light photos; so I went the other way, and produced a roll of brightly-lit shots with horribly detailed backgrounds and hardly any atmosphere. The few I did with natural light were by far the best. Here are some of them; I also didn’t get any good shots at all of the drummer, because he was hiding away at the back.

John from Montoya

John from Montoya

John from Montoya

Chris from Montoya

Peter from Montoya

Nick from Montoya

* Directly above the Widened Lines, and almost above the Ray Street Gridiron bridge – if you look at this 1860s picture, the Betsey Trotwood is above the tunnel mouth on the left, now the Circle Line.

** He’s a regular reader, too – hi John! – and there are photos of his daughter Piglet Jaime elsewhere on the site too.

*** or because he’ll be reading this.

Pull Shapes!

In which we spot stereotypes

Sometimes, in life, I feel a little out of place. It feels – to coin a metaphor – like I’m the only indiekid in the middle of a goth club.

Sometimes, like on Saturday night, that’s because I’m the only indiekid in the middle of a goth club.

Sometimes, though, you just have to go out, have a few drinks, and make a complete fool of yourself on the dancefloor. I do it far too infrequently, so Saturday night was a whole lot of fun. I made new friends, I bounced around a lot, and I discovered a whole new talent.*

Afterwards, we were in the takeaway over the road; and two men were already waiting there. They looked uber-indie – messy hair, beige t-shirts with witty slogans, and thick-rimmed glasses. “Are you students?” said one of the people I was with.

“Um, no,” they said. “We work over there,” pointing back at the club, “we’ve been watching you lot getting drunk all night.”

“You do look a bit … indie,” I said, rather drunkenly. I wanted to say: I’m one of YOU, really! I might be dressed in black, but I’m not one of these goth types! I’ve got Belle And Sebastian records and everything! I kept quiet, though. I didn’t really care what music I’d just been dancing to, because I’d just had a damn good night.

* Giving neck and shoulder rubs. Apparently I’m very good at it even though I have no idea at all what I’m doing.

Slip-up (part two)

In which tastes keep changing (again)

When Belle and Sebastian released their last album, a couple of months back, I wrote that clearly I’m not a true fan any more, because I didn’t buy it until the second day of release.

Well, it took me an entire week to realise that they’d released another single. By today, when I finally bought “The Blues Are Still Blue”, it was already in the charts.

Of course, I still had to buy it, on lovely blue vinyl. Apart from being a sad geek, it’s one of my favourite songs on the album, with a particularly glam feel to it. The sleeve is blue, of course, but it’s a warm, dusky, beautiful shade. All round, it’s a great piece of work.

Slip-up

In which we listen to music

Clearly I’m not a Belle and Sebastian fan any more. I can’t be, because I forgot to go out and buy their new album on Monday, when it was released. I did remember to go and get it yesterday, though, and now I’ve got around to listening to it.

If I was still a fan, I probably wouldn’t like it very much, because it isn’t in quite the same style as their first three classic albums. On the other hand, as it says in the sleevenotes, in a response to criticisms like that:

Do you think and do the exact same things you did nine years ago?

One track does sound rather like an attempt at a T-Rex impersonation; but, in general, I have to say: I like this record more than I was expecting to.

Growing up

Or, remembering what we used to like

Tastes change as people grow up. Things you are a huge fan of will slowly fade away, and other things will come along to replace them. Your tastes will change, as you change.

Some of you might have heard of Alexis Petridis, rock and pop critic at The Guardian. I don’t always agree with what he writes, but I tend to pay attention. Because, back in about ’97 or ’98, Petridis was a semi-frequent contributor to Sinister, the mailing list for fans of Belle and Sebastian. I was only a lurker, but I remember his posts, on topics such as: do Belle and Sebastian sound better when you’re on drugs? And if so which ones?*

Since then, when Petridis has mentioned them in the Grauniad, you get the feeling that he doesn’t so much like what they’ve become. He doesn’t think much of devoted fans, but he still loves their early work. And I have to sympathise with that. I, too, used to be a devoted fan.

I’m still a bit of a fan. I’m still the sort of person who will go and buy a new single on its first day of release, for example, like I did yesterday. And then, I get it home, and find that I’m not really very interested in it any more. Compared to their old songs, it’s lost something. It’s brassy and polished, shiny and bland, the sort of track that has never been at all interesting or inspiring for me. Their sleeve designs get better and better,** as the music gets ever-more over-produced. The B-sides are better, but even so it’s not something that I would have bought if it were by any other band.

* No, really, this was something he wrote. The list archive doesn’t work nowadays, so I can’t link you to it; but I strongly remember reading it. I have no idea now if he was being serious or not.

** although I was disappointed to see that they are still crediting Patrick Doyle with helping with the sleeve photography. He’s someone else who was on Sinister, a few years later, one of those people who hero-worshipped Stuart Murdoch and would desperately and deliberately try to appear as twee, fey and indie as possible because he thought that was how a B&S fan should look.