Last one, I promise. It’s just to let you know that the album is now available for free streaming on Soundcloud, free download / pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp, and paid-for downloads on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and CD Baby.
According to CD Baby, which distributes the music for us, the list of sites and services includes Spotify, Omnifone, Rdio, Muve, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, Rhapsody, Xbox Music, Last.fm, 24-7, Shazam, MediaNet, Tradebit, GreatIndieMusic, Emusic, Simfy, Samsung Music Hub, Beyond Oblivion, Mondia Media, 7digital and Yandex.
Thanks to everybody who’s bought the album so far and/or spread the word. We appreciate it.
I wrote this one at the same time as Don’t Let Me Lose Tonight, fully expecting to finish it in 2007. I missed that deadline a little bit, but the version you can hear now isn’t dramatically different from the version I had then: the mix is better, but I found that I couldn’t better the original performances. The vocal has a nice time capsule feel to it, I think: recording a new vocal just feels wrong. The only real difference between the new version and the old one is that the old one had a very long and boring bit of sub-U2 bollocks at the end. Sniiiiiiiip!
I’ve just realised that I haven’t mentioned the cover. That’s David’s work, and I really love it: I like the juxtaposition of the heart with the alleyway, the idea of something beautiful in the most ordinary of places.
So that’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts and the songs. They’ve been fun to do. I’ll post again when the music finally appears on the various streaming services and in the online music stores.
This is the second of the two Kasino songs we’ve rebooted. The original dates back to 2000, 2001, and it sounded awfully like Snow Patrol’s Run; Snow Patrol hadn’t actually written Run back then, and their singer saw us play this one live several times before they did. Ho hum. That’s not just me being bitchy and bitter, though: while we love the song we knew that if we redid it, people would go “oh man you’re just totally copying Run by Snow Patrol”, and if that happened we’d end up killing somebody.
The reboot happened when David started messing around with it. “Kraftwerk!” I yelled, donning a red jumper and writing lyrics about motorways and the Tour De France.
That last bit isn’t strictly true, but I did get excited about the Kraftwerk bit: I hear Computer Love every Monday when I do my BBC gadget stuff, and it never gets old: it’s just a wonderful piece of music, so when David played our riff in a Kraftwerk style I was sold. I’m really pleased with the result: like Goddamn, You’ve Got To Be Kind it has that electric melancholy I love so much.
The lyric seems pretty obvious to me but maybe it isn’t all that obvious to anybody else: the two fingers in the lyric mean two shots of alcohol. It’s about someone getting drunk quickly and looking for a fight, something you’ll see in pubs every weekend.
Musically this one’s had a bit of a journey. I demoed it on a 4-track – a 4-track! – and that means it dates to my late teens or early twenties. It was called Malicious Lies back then, and the verse was a fairly pedestrian U2 stomp with chiming harmonics, a der-der bassline and a Larry Mullen beat. All that remains of that is the chorus bassline and riff, which David describes as the Ice Cream Van from Hell and which is deliberately too loud. The obvious autotune on the chorus vocal is deliberate too: there’s a fantastic effect on the “you know” bit that I just love.
In the last song I was trying to be Michael Stipe. In this one, I’m Rihanna.
I’ll pause a moment to let you get over the horror of that mental image.
David wrote this one, his riff really reminding me of the Rihanna/Calvin Harris collaboration We Found Love. It doesn’t sound anything like it, but hey. That’s how my brain works. Resisting the temptation to chuck in some canned applause and rave horns, I grabbed the bass guitar instead. The result has nods to The Cure (the bass sound in the closing section), Arab Strap (the spoken vocals in the chorus) and Adam Clayton (the bass sound in the main song), and I managed to get some cowbell in there too because everybody likes cowbells.
I’m joking about rave horns but they would have fitted with the lyric: it’s about someone who’s done all the hedonistic things, had all the drugs, and is putting it all behind them.
Oh, this one’s fuuuuuuuuun.
Let It Go started off as a spectacularly cheesy 70s keyboard thing that David concocted, and we’ve tried to keep its fundamental cheesiness throughout the song. That explains the brass section stabs in the chorus. Musically we’ve kept it really simple – one bass, one lazy guitar, some drum loops and a few vocals – and vocally I’m trying to be Michael Stipe, which seemed appropriate for a song urging everyone to get naked and do rude things to one another. The backing vocals are inspired by Aerosmith’s Love In An Elevator.
The lyric on the same kind of lines as our song Youth Is Wasted On The Young, me pointing out that life is far too precious and short to spend any of it worrying about what other people think.
I wrote this in the middle of Scotland’s gay marriage panic. For a while you couldn’t open a newspaper, turn on a TV or listen to the radio without hearing all kinds of pinch-faced puritans preaching a gospel of No Fun For Anyone Ever, based on some middle ages nonsense wrongly credited to a beardy man who lives in the sky. But it wasn’t just the usual suspects that annoyed me, it was the phone-in callers and the newspaper website commenters too, all these miserable people demanding a say in something that’s none of their damn business. They’re the “insufferable fools in their pubs and their pews” of the lyric.
The clouds here are metaphorical, of course. The lyric’s about the constant internal critic that we all have, and which really ought to shut the fuck up.
I read an interview a long time ago that suggested songs just float through the air and you have to catch them “before some bastard like Mick Hucknall gets ‘em”. I think this is one of those songs, not so much written as captured and recorded before it could escape.
Listening back to it, the vocal melody’s very reminiscent of something Brendan Murphy from The 4 Of Us might do. That’s accidental – I love the band but haven’t ever tried to emulate them – but the Cocteau Twins guitar sound in the final half is absolutely deliberate. The song I’m nodding to there is Pitch The Baby from Heaven or Las Vegas.
David reckons the drums are Ultravox’s Vienna played at half speed. David is wrong. I don’t like Ultravox.
I was very pleased with this column I wrote for .net about boredom.
I spent most of last night glued to a screen watching a Twitter stream, refreshing my RSS feeds, clicking on various interesting links and using recommendation engines to find writing worth reading. After a while, I’d read the entire internet, so I kept on refreshing Twitter and the RSS feeds, and the interesting-link websites, and the recommendation engines. I was bored. Unfortunately, I wasn’t bored enough to go and do something more worthwhile.
This one’s a good example of why musicians need to collaborate with one another: I wrote this on an acoustic guitar, and it’s a perfectly decent acoustic guitar song – but it’s a much, much better song if you put the guitars away and get the keyboards out.
The lyric is about casual cruelties, the throwaway comments that can really cut deep: we often say things without really thinking about them, and sometimes even well-intentioned words can have a negative effect. The example I had in mind when I was writing this one was a couple who were desperate to have children but couldn’t, the papercuts the assumptions of friends and family and the enquiries of acquaintances, but it could apply equally to any difficult situation or circumstances.
This is our Elbow song. Elbow have been a big influence on me: their Seldom Seen Kid is a tremendous record. It’s music for grown-ups that isn’t a pale imitation of former glories, that isn’t trying to be down with the kids, that isn’t ashamed to be about grown-up subjects. It’s music that’s lived a little and wants to tell you about it. Broken Bottles is me attempting to do something similar.
Broken Bottles is one of my favourite songs, and it was going to be the lead track off the album before we decided that Grip Is Slipping was a better attention-getter. Musically it’s pretty straightforward, although we’ve changed it quite a bit from the first demos: we’d started off playing the riff on lots of very distorted guitars and turning everything up to eleven, but while that was suitably rocky we decided that a heavenly choir of fuzzy Fenders was too bombastic for what’s actually quite a gentle and sad song. There’s only one guitar in it now, playing a single note in the breakdown. The song still rocks. It just rocks in a different way.