Thursday, 29 November 2007

Conglomerative, Sadistic Nature

I hadn't even heard of Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jongs until about five minutes ago, but I don't know if I have ever hated a band quite so fast as this one. It was partly the music (an near EXACT Razorlight rip that I won't bother linking to), but it was mainly this interview in The Guardian, which is a real paper that people buy with money. (Read it and decide for yourselves!)

What I like about it though, is that Mr Jonze seems to actually get fed up with baiting him about halfway through the interview and just resigns himself to having to listen to this shit because it's his job to listen to it. I can almost hear him thinking "I didn't get into journalism for this".

The most ironic thing is that as an actor, Joe Lean had a part in Nathan Barley. Life imitates art etc...

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Cube Kino Benefit

Cafe Kino is a lovely vegan cafe in Stokes Croft which recently had around £1,000 stolen. The cafe is a co-operative, not a money-making venture and this loss doesn't affect shareholders or executives but the cafe itself and the people who put in a huge amount of effort to keep it going.

There is a benefit gig to try and recoup that lost money on Thursday 29th November. Lots of bands are playing and it's just generally going to be great in every way imaginable. Except for that way. Roz and I will be DJing, probably not with amazing technical ability, but we will play tunes that we think are pretty good. I think it's £4 to come but I'm not really sure.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

In The Biz

I was sixteen when I first decided I wanted to set up a record label. I didn't know how to start one, how to promote one, or how to run one, and I didn't really know what I would put on it, but I did have a name: Rubber Ring Records. It sounds pretty crap now, and it probably sounded pretty crap then, but it seemed to convey what I wanted to put out, which was music that changed your life.

I didn't really have any friends in bands (or any friends at all), so I scoured all the unsigned music sites I could (MySpace wasn't really on the map at the time) and emailed all the artists I liked the sound of, pretending to be cool and professional and generally appear like I knew what I was doing. And amazingly, some people fell for it. I was almost literally inundated with responses, almost all of them wanting to put something out, or be on a compilation, or something. Quite a few people sent me CDs through the post, and I ended up getting quite a lot of good music for no money simply because I promised something I couldn't deliver.

Anyway, it soon fell through because I decided it was too much like hard work, and I mention it only because that was the last time I recieved a promo of any kind through the mail, until this week. This week I got in the post the new Kotki Dwa single (plus press release), the same as probably every radio station and music mag in the country did. Only I'm not a radio station or music mag, I'm just me. And again I promised something I couldn't deliver: I'm on the mailing list cause of me and Roz's clubnight, but in fact the night in question is no longer a going concern (aside from one...thing which I will type about soon).

So because I'm not really in the strongest position to Make Kotki Dwa Their Surely Deserved Millions, I thought I would do a Single Review. It's fifty words in the style of a young critic's first piece for a middle-brow Sunday supplement reviewing a quirky indie band:

Buckinghamshire 3-piece Kotki Dwa may sound like a foreign proposition, but there's nothing alien about their effervescent debut single "Robin's Clogs", which plays like Alice dreamily abling into a bizarre toytown of casiocore mathrock. A "Honey I Shrunk The Arcade Fire" take on anthemic pop, this miniature gem is worth purchasing for the artwork alone. EJ.

Hope that helps. "Robin's Clogs" by Kotki Dwa hits a couple of record stores on December 10th. (They don't really sound like Arcade Fire.)

Monday, 19 November 2007

Chart Without A Heart / Trucking X Factor

It's a Sunday, so I was doing my usual post-band-practise bored-internet-trawl, when I ended up on the Radio One website. More specifically, the page containing this week's UK Single Charts. It is a really terrible list. I guess there is always a pre-Christmas lull in terms of Big Hit Songs, but I feel more concerned about the staleness of the music than anything else. It's not that the songs are rubbish (.....they are) but that they all seem so worn out.

I don't know if now is really the time for a single-by-single rundown, but it seems like the top 40 is mainly split between ropey 'comeback' singles (Kylie, Britney, Spice Girls, Craig David[!]), album-milking third or fourth singles from the summer's big sellers (Rihanna, Mika, Take That, Mark Cunting Ronson) or dad-friendly rock that presumably has been advertised heavily on iTunes (Phil Collins, Led Zeppelin, Elvis....yes, Elvis Presley). Not one song (of those I've heard, which is the majority) has any merest hint of edge, be it originality, controversy or style. I know Elvis is The King and everything and even though I think he is shit, old people still love him, it's just hard to accept that there are that many people who need to buy it now, this week, that it would manage to beat hundreds off new releases from new bands with new young fans. (Soon the world will be full of old people and nothing new will ever happen.) I don't know if I should even be mentioning this, because it's easier to pretend it isn't true, but NICKLEBACK have a single in the top 20 this week. Nickleback.

Whilst on the subject of atrocious popular music, I thought it was worth noting that every single song on yesterday's X Factor featured the horrendous trucker's gear change. I wouldn't really mind if it was actually in the songs they were covering, but as far as I know the originals are gear-change-free. I wonder what they would do if someone did Man In The Mirror (which features the most wonderful gear change in the history of everything) - perhaps they would just do the change twice or something. Anyway it's a sickly horrible thing that should be reserved for pop songs which need it (or even deserve it), not ruined by using it as the quickest route to making the audience think you're really going for it.

Not that I watch X Factor of course, far too busy....

Saturday, 17 November 2007

When Is A Pig Not A Gig?

The Lauras had a gig last night, and because I'm one of The Lauras, I was there. It was a last-minute gig, not literally, but it was literally a last-48hour gig. So there wasn't very much time to badger and bribe our cash cows fans into seeing basically the same set as we played last Monday.

Being a replacement for the surely-marvellous-but-cancelled "Adam Hussein Show (from GLC)" is never going to be an easy one, so an audience of about twenty was a pretty fantastic result, although they were never all watching the bands at the same time, and at least a car-full left after the first band, which is a shame, because the first band were rubbish.

I don't know if I should really say this, but it's too late because I'm just about to: Lionhearts were really depressingly bad and my favourite part of their gig was when the singer defiantly ripped his mic off the stand to further emphasise the ....emphasisness of their performance, only for it to disconnect from the cable and improve the overall sound quality by approximately twenty-five per cent. (Actually my real favourite part was when one of the bullet-headed fans they had taxied over from Cardiff barged past me on the way back from the bar and spilt most of his pint across the floor. Hopefully he learnt that sometimes it pays to have manners, but I expect he will just shove harder next time.)

My third favourite part was when they said they had a song called "Dirty Rotten Scoundrel". It would have been a brilliant joke, but it didn't make a brilliant song.

The Jelas, though, do make brilliant songs! In abundance! Not only that but they are the nicest, funnest, funniest band we have ever played with. They seem like the sort of band who have ideas thick and fast, and just put them all together until they run out of room, making a skronky collage out of musical pipe-cleaners. We got on too, as bands, which is not a completely freak occurance, but it is definitely the first time that a band has been so sociable with us, and it was great!

We went on last and played alright. It was quite hard to be excited about it but I didn't play as many wrong notes as usual and Bert said something funny about Children In Need. He also wore his SPECIAL t-shirt, which might have been good but for me it was an anti-climax because I couldn't really see it. But despite playing Every Song We Have, it seemed to go by just as quickly as usual and if we'd had any more songs I would quite like to have played them (although no-one was exactly screaming for an encore). Bert's cousin who was once in a good band called The Danans said that I was a good guitarist, and that I used my little finger a lot, which I hadn't thought about before and won't ever again.

I got back to see the end of Children In Need (they were struggling to reach last year's total) and no-one had said anything nice about my new song.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Sandcastle Advice Bureau

I'm blogging on a laptop! I feel like Carrie Bradshaw, only without the stupid rhetorical questions. Anyway it's not even my laptop.

I have done a new song! I started it yesterday and finished it today, which is probably the best order to do it in. It's on the myspace now, I took all of my old songs off because I wanted a fresh start with new songs that I absolutely loved instead of ones that I thought were.....alright. Truth is I don't really love this new song but I can imagine liking it for a while. It's called "Being Me and You" and it's about how Roz and I spend a lot of time together but don't really do very much of note.

The myspace is and has always been at, I'm working up to a Facebook page but I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that level of scrutiny just yet.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

An Introduction

Hullo, I'm Ellis, and if you're reading this you probably know me already. This is a blog I'm going to be writing in. It's hard not to be self-conscious and so I make no apologies for being a little bit awkward for this paragraph at least, and probably the next few days.

The main reason for committing myself to write regularly is for practise. I tend to go about day-to-day life thinking in the back of my head that I am a "Writer". I suppose lots of people do. But I haven't written anything of worth ever, and the last time I wrote anything at all within any sort of structure was probably something I was forced to do through promises of a shiny certificate at the end of it. So maybe through here I can sharpen up my literary wits a little, and hopefully make something worth reading (though I'm not promising anything just yet).

Another reason is that things keep happening to me that I'd like to write about. Not to claim that my life is a calvalcade of whirlygig adventures - it really, really isn't - more that a few things have happened recently that have been quite suprising, and if more things happen like that in the future then I'd like to record them here for posterity. I tend to forget the details of things with an alarming quickness, so hopefully by writing here bleary-eyed when the memory is fresh, I can read it back the next week and remember "yes, last Tuesday I really did trip over three curbs in a row!", or whatever.

This blog will probably be mainly about music, because music is mainly what I'm about. It's what I think about when I'm walking the dog, or catching a bus, or watching Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, so it will probably be what I'm thinking about what I'm writing here as well. Playing and writing and gigging and recording and probably mainly planning. Planning is what I do best. Following up the plans I am pretty crap at.

So I'll probably forget to write here ever again. But I hope not.