Saturday, January 19, 2008

It’s been a quiet week for us as a bug left Orynthia doing her impression of a nun in a silent order. For most of the last weekend she could only produce the occasional squeak, which was interesting as we had friends staying with us. Thankfully as the week moved on she has been gaining strength although she did have an unfortunate set back last night.

We went to see a friend performing in an excellent production of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” at Trinity. Just as the play was heading for it’s climax, Orynthia was struck by a coughing fit which forced her from her away from her seat and out of the room, meaning that she missed the final dramatic minutes of the performance.

Visits to Trinity are rather sporadic these days and tend to be for non-music related events. It was very different in the early 80’s when it was a regular stop off point for the up and coming bands of the day and I had the chance to see the likes of Joy Divison, Nick Cave, Teardrop Explodes, Monochrome Set, New Order, Death Cult, Magazine, Bauhaus and masses of others in the gloomy church with the bizarre tarpaulin ceiling and enormous industrial heaters which looked more like jet engines than any sort of heater that I’d seen before.

They were amazing things, belting out enough heat to strip the flesh from the back of your legs if you got too close them, yet making virtually no difference to the seemingly always chilly conditions. Things were always slightly haphazard at Trinity I well remember turning up for a reggae gig at the advertised start time of around 9pm, before eventually giving up and going home at round 1am without having seen a band make it to the stage.

At the end of next week we are taking one of our now regular trips to Glasgow, where we will be taking in 4 gigs as part of the Celtic Connections festival. On consecutive nights we shall see King Creosote, Bricolage, Camera Obscura and Teenage Fanclub for what should be a fantastic long weekend. Before that we have another Grumpy Man night to attend to on Sunday at Mr Wolfs where our friend Steve Dew will join us with the rest of his excellent band, Submarine. Upon our return to Bristol, we finally get to see the Canadian Band Stars when they play at The Thekla, so we are going to have a pretty musical week or so.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

For quite a while we've been thinking of joining the City Car Club as a way of having access to a 2nd vehicle without the expense of running a 2nd car full time. For a long time we had 2 cars, confusingly for some people they were both light blue Fiat Seicento's. In fact we had 3 cars but the 3rd member of our little Fiat family, a 1971 Fiat 500 hasn't emerged from our garage for about 5 years now, every year I seem to say that it has to go but we never get round to moving it on, maybe it will happen in 2008?

When we bought our Fiat (anyone see a pattern developing here?) Panda a couple of years ago, we traded in both the Seicento's and in the main having one car has worked well but there are occasions when we need to be in separate parts of town at the same time, especially as parents gets older and need a little more help. So we've taken the plunge and taken out a joint membership which gives us access to cars located all over Bristol. Ideally one of them would be located right outside our house but realistically that was not going to happen, there are a couple of options which are around half a mile away from us, which isn't too bad. We have been sent a "magic" card to give us access to all the vehicles, you can book the cars on line and it all looks pretty straightforward. A whole new world of motoring awaits us.

This article caught my eye in The Guardian today, an interesting idea for a different sort of night out. Could it work in Bristol? I've been talking to a friend about it this afternoon and I do think it has some potential, could be a Grumpy Man offshoot.

Talking of which this Saturday marks a bit of a milestone in the Grumpy Man history, when we find ourselves DJ'ing at 2 events in Bristol. Luckily they take place at venue's which are pretty close to each other - The Croft and The Cube.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So onwards and upwards into 2008 we go, I've got a feeling that we are going to be quite grown up and spend a bit of money on the bits and bobs that need doing around the house. As anyone who knows me will testify, I'm not the handiest man around the house so this will entail us "getting a man in". So the painful process will soon begin of us trying to find someone who is competent, reliable and affordable - what fun!
In the meantime there are plenty of Xmas viewing gifts to catch up with, I was lucky enough to be given The Flight of the Conchords DVD (not once, but twice) so at the moment I think I'm safe in saying that "I'm the muthaflippin", if you get my drift. Also had a nice Hitchcock box set containing 6 films from the 1950's, so last night we sat down to watch the 1950 film "Stage Fright", a film by the great man which I had not seen before. It boasts a wonderful cast including Alastair Sim, Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich and Michael Wilding amongst others. It also features an unusual device for it's time, when we are shown a section of the film in flashback, which we subsequently find out to be misleading. It's a very interesting thing to do as it suddenly switches your sympathies, although apparently it drew some criticism at the time. Nothing quite beats a Sunday evening in the company of Orynthia, Hitch and a cosy sofa.
I've been catching up with some old literature over recent weeks, firstly I read Midnight Cowboy which Film 4 kindly put onto TV for me and then I moved onto To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Oddly I've never read the Harper Lee classic before, although I bought my copy in the late 1970's as the £1.95 price tag proudly indicates. I've also been rading the winter fiction issue of the New Yorker and my latest magazine of choice - Monocle. There is a bumper pack of goodies heading my way from the good people at McSweeny's and a couple recent purchases namely You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem and Zadie Smith edited collection of short stories The Book Of Other People. Lot's to keep me occupied there.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Things to thank 2007 for.

Panda Bear: Person Pitch -When I played this for the first time I thought about taking the CD back as I was convinced that it was faulty. Then slowly, the strange concoction of loops and echoes worked it’s magic on me. A fabulous unexplainable record.

Cornelius: Sensuous - Another strange, fractured record which doesn’t ease it’s way into your life. On occasions it even veers close to that most depressing of genres the jazz/rock/funk hybrid that sends all sensible folk running for the hills, and yet… It made a perfect counter point to the Panda Bear album, whilst that record felt strangely random and free flowing the Cornelius disc was almost mathematical in it’s slavish devotion to structure and somehow managed to stay interesting.

Richard Hawley: Lady’s Bridge – The king of croon made another record to make you feel that it was fine to be middle-aged. Great songs, great voice and some wonderful guitar playing it’s just a joy.

Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala – A brilliant pop record, nobody writes songs which such awkward honesty as Jens. We finally managed to see him in the flesh this year, it was as wonderfully strange and beguiling as we hoped it would be.

The National: Boxer – They just get better with every record, surely they are on the cusp of making the move into the mainstream, then again they don’t wear the right trousers for that, so I guess it won’t happen.

King Creosote: Bombshell – His records get more polished yet still have the ability to rip at the heartstrings one moment and then put the biggest daftest grin on your face the next. A gem.

Iron & Wine: The Shepard’s Dog – A fuller sound from the Sam and the gang, this record contained one of my favourite tracks of the year, the astoundingly beautiful “Carousel”. A song so gorgeous that it can get away with having one of those faintly ridiculous vocoder type effects of it and still conjure the image spending a warm summer evening, sitting on the back porch with a glass single malt in your hand.

Amongst other treats this year are Arcade Fire – Neon Bible, Band Of Horses – Cease to Begin, LCD Soundsytem – Sound of Silver, Beirut – The Flying Club Cup and albums from Stars, Burial, Pinch, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Au Reviour Simone, PJ Harvey, Rufus Wainwright, The Ladybug Transistor, The Coral, Edwyn Collins, Scarlatti Tilt and The Apples In Stereo.

Having said all that my favourite song this year (although I have a nasty feeling that it may have come out in 2006!) is from local band Slow. The title track of their Seeds EP is so simply and perfectly constructed as to be devastating, I think that I could play it on repeat for evermore and still not tire of it.