Archive for April, 2011

Why I probably won’t bother watching the royal wedding

April 28, 2011

I’ve been trying to remain ambivalent to The Royal Wedding, rather than allowing myself to descend into seething rage about it. After all isn’t it maybe a little juvenile to object to the royal family? It’d be like getting angry because politicians lie. Or feeling genuinely sad that children starve to death in african countries from which we import out-of-season fruit. You know, a bit passé…

But then I can’t help but think about the privilege bestowed on a man whose ancestors murdered their way to power hundreds of years ago – at a time when things are bad, and only going to get worse, for the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

This man will one day technically rule over me and you (by pricking holes in bits of goats skin once a year), because our country is too wuffle-nut-mouthed with tradition and deference to actually draft a proper constitution which makes us citizens rather than subjects. His whose sole qualification to hold this position is that half of his genetic material originated in the testicles of our current ruler’s eldest son.

His father, in turn, being a man whose greatest achievements in his 60-odd years on this earth are:
1) establishing a biscuit company
2) promoting batshit medicines
3) using his name to influence architectural contracts

Let’s get this cleared up. The Royal Family do not ‘work hard’ by any reasonable definition of the term. Are they masters of their own destiny? No – but then neither is a child born in the UK’s poorest council estates, into a community where there aren’t any jobs and haven’t been for generations. Can they stay in bed for a lie-in on Sunday and have a three-album wankathon instead of putting on their nice hat to open the latest proletarian wibblemart? No. Is Prince William probably a perfectly nice human being when you get to know him? Yes, I imagine he probably is.

The point is the Royal Family infantilise the whole country, they teach us that power flows from an arbitray source, and that some people are just born better than others. No one who supports them can come up with anything more pragmatic than ‘they’re good for tourism’ – so is a Sea Life Centre. Anything else boils down to ‘it’s tradition’ which is no kind of argument for anything.

The only reason I’d stop short of calling for them to be demolished (or whatever the word is) is that I know how complex it would be to basically have to re-write our country’s laws from scratch. That would barely be worth the effort, and there are worse problems to fix. Plus on some level I enjoy the absurdity of one old lady having 100% of the say in everything that happens, but having to exercise that will by doing ludicrous things to bits of dead goat.

The timing of the wedding is, at the very least, inconsiderate. The country has still not quite sunk to its lowest ebb economically – thanks to callous cuts imposed by a blinkered government whose members mostly come from the same tradition of hereditary power as the House of Windsor. Two weeks before a much needed opportunity to reform our parliament and at least ensure that right governments are likely to always be tempered by a more moderate, compassionate partner, we suddenly have the distraction of this nonsense.

The coverage has overshadowed any chance of actually ensuring people understand what’s happening on May 5th. Thus allowing the only arguments which get coverage, between CGI mockups of Kate’s dress, to be the attention grabbing ones – i.e. the stupid, simplistic ones. ‘AV will mean the BNP get more votes’, ‘AV will mean everyone has to pay £50 to vote’, ‘AV will mean anyone who votes Liberal Democrat will be allowed to vote as many times as they want’ etc etc. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy (I’m really not), but it does kind of suck.

You have to stoop pretty low to make a system as straightforward as AV seem complex, shady, and inaccessible. But that’s what its opponents have done with staggering intellectual dishonesty – apart from Baroness Warsi, of course, who’s so thick she probably believes everything she says. Yet once again the media has chosen glitter and trivia over providing information which might actually empower people. They have filled this week with blather about an event which I today saw laughably referred to as ‘a private wedding’, rather than make sure people are able to make an informed decision about something which will affect their lives in the long term.

Ah well, there goes my ambivalence.

In fairness this not really WillNKate’s fault. I’m sure they’re in larve and I hope they have a very nice time tomorrow. The dress will doubtless be very pretty. If you’re comfortable knowing that their first child will one day rule over your children and your children’s children, regardless of whether he/she is a lovely human being, or a witless, corrupt despot, then by all means tune in.

The Boxed Set #5: Restless Revolution Day By Day & Goodbye Workshy

April 19, 2011

Around four years after I first took the stage as PWL I finally got around to releasing my long awaited debut album. ‘Restless Revolution Day By Day’ was released in 2004, around two months before last month’s EP ‘Jazzy Jungle Memorial Hall’. It took around a year to do, started in Aberystwyth before I left university, a few songs done in Bolton, a few in Brighton, then finished off in Cardiff.

It’s one of the last wilfully rough and ready PWL releases. Songs banged out with little re-take or polishing, after this I started gradually to take a little more care with things. Here you will find things which are shockingly out of time/tune and boomy production. I like to think that under all that there’s still a set of decent pop tunes.

Still not quite integrating the electronic/acoustic/rock styles, the tracklist was royally screwed up by an attempt to shoehorn in the newly written ‘Hypersanity’ at the last minute, resulting in a damn weird opening portion. I was tempted to re-do it in a different order for this reissue but decided against.

Artwork wise every copy had a unique cover, all made from different bits of a collage I made and photocopied, and stuck onto different coloured bits of card, with different coloured plastic disc trays. Quite an eyesore all told. It was in a jewel case with cut out handwritten tracklisting, and some sort of long waffly essay glued into the ‘booklet’.

The line ‘Restless Revolution Day By Day’ is from Paradise Lost, and refers to the movements of the planets.

Vote With Yr Feet

I’ve quite a soft spot for this song, though it’s a rubbish opener. It was one of my first successfully ‘rock’ recordings and I listened to it on repeat quite a lot. My recollection of the lyrics is hazy, but I think it just touched on a lot of stuff that was happening as I left university. I’m pretty sure this is the last song I wrote in Aberystwyth (the first time).

Believe Everything You Read

When I said above that some of this album was out of time this is the song I was thinking of. My approach to recording drums at the time was to do the guitar first and then play along underneath using a midi keyboard to trigger the sounds using two fingers. I never really did more than one take so it didn’t really work out most of the time. This song was already about three years old when I finally recorded it so lyrically it’s the earliest thing that’s been released. I think the line ‘I read it somewhere once that they put baby’s tears in bombs’ is an early manifestation of the multi-lateral cynicism which I think has often been my lyrical angle ever since.

Hypersanity (Kiss & Refrain)

At one stage I planned to do an MA thesis on my notion of ‘Hypersanity’ – by which I meant people who are so rational that it almost becomes a form of mental illness. I.e. people like me. It was much easier to just write this bangin’ techno number about it.

Based On A True Story

Previously cryptically entitled ‘B.O.A.T.S.’, this was the second appearance for this song following its first outing in 2002. Did a crudely ‘Idioteque’ style beat and replaced harmonica with synths. Lyrically it concerns complacency and watching TV too much. A kind of ‘grasp life with both hands’ message filtered through the usual negativity.

Molly’s Lips

The first instalment in the ‘Molly & Victor’ song series – was followed by ‘My Victor’ and ‘At the hairdressers…’. Again I’d like to just leave it to you to enjoy the story. This also appeared in acoustic form on ‘Goobye Workshy’ and is tacked on the end. This version is more upbeat and girl groupy.

(You & Me and) Winston Churchill

One of my first bona fide hits, and the earliest song to re-emerge on a record since signing to Brainlove. This version has slightly different lyrics and is a bit more raucous in its production. It was written after seeing a Brighton bus called Winston Churchill.

Telling Stories

This was written and released as a single in a limited edition of one as a Valentine’s Day gift for Siân, the girl I later married. Mostly consists of in-jokes. Only proper love song I’ve ever done really…. Yes the opening is a Bright Eyes reference, well done.

Make A Mediocre Dinner

One of a couple of early songs to feature me doing an impression of Roddy Woomble doing an impression of an American. Took roughly 20 minutes to record as I recall. Quick little punk number. Played it as a techno-fied version for a while back in ’05 – sadly uncaptured.

Billie Holiday

Sort of Jesus and Mary Chain-y, girl group-y thing. Not the best song on here, suffice to say….

Straight to Video

An early acoustic ‘hit’ re-done after first appearing in 2001. I’ll save discussion of it for the earlier version, which I actually prefer.

“Headaches” Girl

Inspired by some utterly insensitive newspaper coverage of a friend’s sister’s sudden death. I still play this quite regularly.

Take Only Photographs

Originally entitled ‘Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Weblogs (The Spire Collapses)’. Wish I’d gone with that. Just a straight acoustic number.

Respect Your Mother

Another Brighton song, follows an early trend of setting traumatic thoughts to inane music.

The album originally came with an unlisted Track 14, which I have chosen to omit in this reissue. Instead….

Goodbye Workshy

Also included are two songs from ‘Goodbye Workshy’ – this was a four track EP I released the year before. The first two tracks were ‘B.O.A.T.S.’ and ‘Vote With Yr Feet’ which were included on RRDBD anyway so I didn’t want to give it its own special reissue. I’ve tacked the others on the end here as ‘bonus tracks’.

They are an acoustic version of ‘Molly’s Lips’, and an electronic version of ‘Jaded Wannabe Parade’ which I’ll talk about when we get to ‘Tank vs. Cat’ in a few months time. It came in a plain black slipcase with a marker pen drawing on the front and a bit of purple card inside with a hand-drawn tracklisting.

And that’s it! For the first time this is available beyond its initial circulation of about 20 people. As usual it’s ‘pay what you like’. As usual the money is going into a new record – which I’ll be playing songs from for the first time at some gigs in May. Stay tuned.