Sunday, January 29, 2006

When in Cheltenham I got caught up in a bit of 80’s nostalgia. Whilst enjoying my traditional “full English” in the hotel, an article on The June Brides by American writer Dave Eggers took my eye. Now for many people the music of The Junes Brides won’t mean much. However when Orynthia and I got married (19 years ago next weekend since you ask), their album “There are eight million stories” was one of the ones that we both had copies of, there were a few others, feel free to guess.

Mr Eggers piece perfectly captured the strange hold that the work of a band can have over you. The way that years later, you can still find yourself looking for news of a performer, who moved onto a more secure way of earning a living many years ago.

Later whilst trying to finally spend some of my Xmas / birthday book tokens, I picked up the Simon Reynolds book “Rip it up and start again – post punk 1978 – 1984” it does sound more like someone’s specialist subject on an episode of Mastermind than an exciting read. But that’s exactly what a book covering the music of that time should be titled. A mixture of knowing reference and dry fact, which our bible of the time the NME would have revelled in.

Much like Simon Reynolds my real musical obsession started in 1978, previously I’d taken an interest in prog and heavy metal and strangely bits of jazz. However, the combination of spending money (having started work), and a burgeoning addiction to the John Peel show saw me throwing my money at any number of soon to be forgotten guitar bands. What a treat then to turn randomly to page 222 to find a top ten consisting of bands such as “Prefects” “The Cravats” “Notsensibles” “Spizzenergi” “Family Fodder” “Fatal Microbes” “(And The) Native Hipsters”. Should be a good read, before I get into that I’m going to spend my time with the latest book from Ian McEwan “Saturday.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

We had a great couple of days, on Wednesday evening we had the chance to reacquaint ourselves with The Strokes. Very fine they were too, I’m not completely convinced by the new album but from the moment they took to the stage they were on top form. Crisp, concise and punchy they were on top form and were a treat to watch from first to last. Support band The Shout Out Louds, did their best, but found it hard to replicate the bouncy fun of their excellent album due to the awful sound which the mixing desk provided them with.

On Thursday evening we made the short journey up the M5 to Cheltenham for slightly early wedding anniversary treat. We stayed in the majestic splendour of the Hotel De La Bere, before enjoying a wander around Cheltenham on Friday.

I’ve just got in after watching one of those games, which remind me why I go to watch Bristol City play football. A full-bloodied encounter saw us beat highflying Swansea City 1-0 on a bitterly cold afternoon. Much shouting and jumping up down ensued.

More music treats in the upcoming week as we get to see Belle & Sebastian for what I think must be the 7th 9th time. It will be the first time that they have played here in Bristol, so I hope that my fellow citizens are nice to them. Then on Thursday, we are aiming to go to Bar unlimited for the latest acoustic night to be arranged by local guitar gods Aspen Woods.

Disappointingly I’ve given up reading Moby Dick, after 450 odd pages. After a sparkling start, I’ve been worn out by the minutiae of detail surrounding Whales and boats. It’s back to dry land for me.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

So what’s been going on this week? Well apart from spending quite a lot of time with the lovely new debut solo album from Joe Volk “Derwent Waters Saint”, I’ve been messing around with that new fangled (well, not that new actually) fangled myspace business.

So we now have a site where we can link directly to many of our favourite people and bands. It’s a good way of hearing a few tunes from people that you may have read about, without taking too much of a gamble.

It’s turning into a bit of a mini empire, what with this blog, the Flickr site and now the Myspace site. Where will it all end?

We are in the midst of planning yet another trip to Scotland. This time we aim to venture considerably further north of our traditional stopping point of Glasgow, although of course we will spend time there as well. We are going to venture back in time with a good old-fashioned driving holiday, taking the chance to catch up with a few friends along the way. Time to find a pair of those strange string backed driving gloves that were all the rage in the 50’s and 60’s. At least we have a few months to locate a pair.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Our film week ended on a slightly unsettling note with the film “Innocence” at The Watershed. It was a French study of young girls seemingly kept against their will in strange and unsettling closed society. Featuring some wildly inappropriate scenes it left both of us feeling more than a little disconcerted, not pleasant viewing. Still we saw 8 films in a week, and apart from our last choice at least one of us enjoyed all the others.

After a night off on Friday, Saturday saw us returning to French cinema, this time with much more enjoyable results. We went to The Orpheus to see “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”. Interesting, thoughtful and occasionally funny it was a perfect antidote to the nasty feeling which “Innocence” left us with. It was directed by Jacques Audiard who previous film was the equally splendid “Read my Lips”. Of course it helped that the central figure in the film is called Tom.

Had an interesting character sitting next to me. Of course Orynthia is always interesting, but on this occasion I’m talking about the chap that was on the other side of me. I was impressed when He returned to his seat after just before the start of the film holding a mug of coffee, that’s a mug of coffee mind you, not the normal cardboard cup. So I assume that he must have taken his own mug to the cinema. Then when he sat down, he delved into a large bag of sweets and noisily unwrapped 7 or 8 of them, so that he would not disturb either himself or the rest of us whilst the film was in progress. He also took copious notes, whenever the film changed direction or mood. It all left me feeling very the amateur filmgoer.

He reminded me of those people that you see whilst you are plowing you way around an art gallery. Whilst I stand and gawp at the paintings you can’t help noticing those intellectual looking types – notebook in hand, recording, well recording what exactly? The name of the piece in question, their thoughts about work, notes on the composition? Maybe it’s just a shopping list, whatever it is, I always think that they are getting more out of the experience of me.

Managed to pick up a few CD’s on Friday whilst we out and about. Most were things that have been on my personal shopping list for a while. Such as the albums by The Cribs - “The New Fellas”, The Rakes – “Capture / Release”, the self titled album by Clor, the mini album by Au Revoir Simone – “Verses of Comfort, assurance & Salvation”, all of which I’m enjoying. Also picked up a copy of the new Strokes album and we managed to finally track down a couple of tickets for their upcoming gig at the Colston Hall, which I’m looking forward to a lot. Just a week after that Belle & Sebastian come to town, hooray!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cinema week continues for us, we’ve seen two more films in the last couple of days. Firstly on Monday evening we took the short walk to The Orpheus in order see Just Like Heaven, which was fun in light-hearted sort of way. Last night we went to Arnolfini to see Factotum, must say that really enjoyed this take of the crazed world of Charles Bukowski. Tonight we are off to The Cube to see The Constant Gardner.

Other than that not too much to report, Grumpy Man nights are going so well that we have booked into Mr Wolfs roughly every 4-5 weeks for the rest of the year! In 3 weeks time we will be seeing Belle & Sebastian again when they play their first gig in Bristol. Also looking forward to seeing Francois and the Atlas Mountains at The Cube on Feb 24th for the launch of their album. Calexico and Iron & Wine are playing at The Academy soon as well; they are both lovely bands so that’s really something to look forward to.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Quite a weekend! After some family stuff during the day on Saturday, we took a trip down to Clevedon for the latest leg of our cinema week. We wanted to visit The Curzon, which is apparently “The oldest purpose-built, continuously operated cinema in the world”. It’s a fantastic old place, which even has an organ at the front of the screen. Well worth a visit if you are in this part of the world. The film we saw was “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” which we both enjoyed a lot, very funny post modern take of the noir films of yesteryear.

Sunday was always going to be busy and indeed it was. Started well in the morning with a 5-0 victory for myself and the rest of the Bryan Munich boys. Then back home to sort out CD’s for that nights Grumpy Man event. Of course we had to fit in another film, so it was off to The Watershed to see the 5pm showing of “Brokeback Mountain” I think I enjoyed it more than Orynthia, great performances from the two leads.

Then we had the short walk over to Mr Wolf’s for Grumpy Man. All was going well until I was about to order some food from the bar and realised that my wallet wasn’t in it’s normal place, I knew that I had it in the cinema so I hoped that I’d lost in there rather than on the street, Played a few tunes which went down well enough, then nipped over The Watershed, where the very helpful staff took my details and said that they would check the room when the showing turned out. Luckily for me I had a call at around 10:15 to say that they had found the wallet, better still everything was intact. What a lovely place Bristol is!

Played a few more tunes back at Grump Man, quite a few friends came down, indeed considering that it was the worst Sunday of the year to do anything, I’d call it a bit of a success. Lot’s of people looked like they were having a good time, it could have been the drink but I’d like to think that my fellow DJ’s and I had something to do with it. Due to an earlier finish than anticipated and 5 of us playing, I didn’t play as many songs as last time. Here is the list of tunes.

King Creosote - Not one bit ashamed
Animals that Swim – Faded glamour
Shack – Miles apart
A Girl Called Eddy – Somebody hurt you
Clearlake – Jumble sailing
Craig Armstrong & Evan Dando – Wake up in New York
The Dears – We can have it.
Stars – Your ex-lover is dead
Silver Jews – Punks in the beerlight.
The Jesus & Mary Chain – Sometimes always.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

As we both had the day off, we started our week of cinema today. First up was an early afternoon visit to The Odeon for The Chronicles of Narnia. Thought that it was great fun, just the right amount of magical wonder and not too much running back forth type battle scenes. Much has been made of the Christian propaganda attachment that has been levelled at the film. I must say I think its just another good Vs bad film, like any Western, Pirate or Sci-Fi film. No more, no less.

When that finished we took the short walk over to The Watershed, giving ourselves just enough time a pot of tea and a cake (Scone for Orynthia), then it was time for the new Woody Allen film Match Point. Strange one this, thought the first 20 minutes or so was really rather awful. The acting was all over the place, particularly from Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Scarlett Johansson. Then suddenly a genuinely tense and gripping film emerged, not at all what we have come to expect from Mr Allen and all the better for it.

More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Had rather a strange weekend, starting rather abruptly at 3am on the morning of the 31st, with the first of many desperate dashes to that special room. Yes that’s right my purge of the festive excess’s started early, things were leaving my body a great speed from several exit points.

Now some people seem to be quite happy to indulge in a spell of vomiting, one chap that I work with thinks that no night is complete without something heading the wrong way past his larynx. I, on the other hand, loathe it.

Without going into too much detail, at one point I had visions of a strange variation on the classic rock star “choked to death, on his on vomit” affliction taking my very un-rock star life away from me.

I’m sure that everyone has experienced the horrible sensation of unwanted mater forcing itself through those delicate nasal passages, well on this occasion things started to become stuck, causing me to gasp desperately for air. Between bodily convulsions my mind raced, “That’s it! I’m going to die!” “what an timid way to go.” “How pathetic”

Somehow I conveyed my fears to Orynthia as should stood patiently beside me. Brilliantly and instantly she saved my life with a simple comment, “Blow your nose” -


Any that sort of thing went on for the next few hours, meaning that virtually the whole of Saturday was spent feeling wonderfully dreadful, whilst wrapped in duvets and blanket’s. Various radios playing seemingly astonishing songs, which slipped in and out of my mind as, I drifted away.

We had made plans to go to Holy Cross Social Club for the New Years Eve night arranged by my friend Boca 45 and others. We decided to give it a go, and very fine it was too. A great little band featuring Jim Barr from Portishead and John Gardner from the Scissor Sisters live touring group worked their way through a great set 60’s instrumental soul gems, sounding like they had come straight from 1967. They went off, Boca 45 kicked off his set with the Paul Anka version of “Come as you are” then it was hip-hop, reggae, old soul and the Arctic Monkeys all the way to midnight.

After catching up with a few friends it was time to head back to the place I knew best, my bed.

By the way since I last moaned about Bristol City, it’s all changed. 8 points from the 4 games over Xmas seeing us moving up the table. What’s more the team appear to be playing with a smile on their face. I had to join in.

I'm going to be playing a few CD's at Grumpy Man again this Sunday.