Thursday, 31 May 2012


"Rosebud is the emblem of the security, hope and innocence of childhood, which a man can spend his life seeking to regain. 
It is the green light at the end of Gatsby's pier; the leopard atop Kilimanjaro, seeking nobody knows what; the bone tossed into the air in 2001."  
Robert Ebert

Here's an interesting one.
I recently posted this in conversation with Toronto Tim regarding Paul Buchanan's 'Mid Air':

"For me, that's what's potent about Buchanan's writing TT; he details the concerns of man; seen and recognised by a worldly man; then a revelation will be qualified with a small 'child's eye' detail'; a red car in the fountain, christmas tree lights; starlight in a suitcase. Is he dreaming; pining for the safe harbour of childhood, or using signifiers that help him to decipher to confusions of the adult world? 
I suspect that Buchanan has a 'Rosebud' or two in his attic... don't we all?
Mine's a Blue Tractor. 
What's yours?"

Anyone who's seen the film 'Citizen Kane' will be familiar with idea of 'Rosebud'
In the film Kane's last word is "Rosebud"; one of the themes of the film is the search for the meaning of that word. This itself is a symbol of lost childhood; a cherished memory of an object that signifies or embodies lost youth.

So, I ventured a blue tractor (it's a long story).
Toronto Tim gave me an enigmatic list:

- Mickey Mouse "ears"
- Eskimo Pies
- Dad's tree hammock
- Mom singing "Amazing Grace" 
- Pop-Tarts!

I feel a 'list song' coming on.
Why not join in below; give me your 'Rosebuds'.
You don't need to qualify or explain them; although you can if you'd like...
Here's a chance for you to have a childhood memory captured forever in a chart topping pop song...

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Treeman

I'm sure that many of you think that the days of a singer-songwriter are balmy and blissful; belly button gazing done whilst sitting half way up (or half way down) a mountain, drinking rose and grasping at the muse; trying to make something rhyme with 'purple'.
It's not all lavender folks; witness this footage of The Treeman; perhaps the angriest folksinger on the block.
I pity his guitar collection; I think that he needs to buy a cat...
Be warned, his prose is... purple.
Btw; thanks to Boo Hewerdine, that oasis of calm, for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Linn: Studio Master Downloads: Limbo

For many (well, a few) 'Alaska' and 'Limbo' are Miracle Mile's finest moments.
Both albums have been lovingly remastered by Marcus and Peter Beckmann (of Technologyworks) for Linn's 'Studio Master Downloads Series'.
The downloads are pricey but Marcus and Pete say that they sound 'fantastic'.
'Limbo' is now available alongside 'Alaska'.
If you are interested you can have a look here...

Limbo was Miracle Mile’s 7th album. It received massive critical acclaim upon its release; indeed The Sunday Times made it their ‘CD of the Week’ and nominated the lead track ‘Lights of Home’ as a ‘Sunday Times ‘Song of the Year’ 2007 noting: "Trevor Jones finds the poetry in real life; Marcus Cliffe anchors it in the sweetest pop. Gorgeous as ever. You may cry "

“Songs that rival those of Prefab Sprout, the Blue Nile or just about any other grown up pop group you could imagine”  Hi-Fi News *****

"Its evocative lyrics and melodies take the listener on their own journeys into their past and future. Miracle Mile have released yet another superb record; how much longer will they be in Limbo?"
Americana UK 9/10

"Classic pop songwriting, gorgeously realised" The Sunday Times ****

“An album overflowing with sensitively wrought melodies and heart-fluttering lyricism. If it's possible, this is even more passionate than usual, deliciously understated and tear jerking." Hi-Fi News *****

Monday, 28 May 2012

'Ghost of Song' Reviews: 'CD of the Month' Vinyl Mag

The Italian online music magazine 'Vinyl Mag' has just reviewed 'Ghost of Song', making it their 'Disc of the Month'
8 out of 10 apparently.
You can read the original review here.
Below is a clumsy translation (by me) which gives a rough idea of the reviewer's kindness.
If you can improve on it please advise...
Many thanks to the journalist, Gianfranco.
You can currently buy 'Ghost of Song' here, either paying Amazon's ridiculous £14.34 (I wondered why it wasn't charting) or, still on Amazon, here, brand spanking new, for as little as £1.44 plus p&p...

Vinyl: Ghost of Song: Reviewed by Gianfranco Marmoro

Without succumbing to the lure of the music business and the praise of English critics, the band Miracle Mile have survived for more than two decades with an artistic stature in pop-rock that has few equals. The exquisite arrangements of Marcus Cliffe joined with the mastery of the songwriting of Trevor Jones have created a catalog of pop music that does not desire the fruition caught fast and broken by a distracted public, music that observes the daily moods and changes in the small poetic joys of life. The group's singer and composer Trevor Jones began to reshape his career as a pop singer with more intimate, catching sounds, more acoustic and less contaminated by the modernity of the last project of Miracle Mile, that album "Limbo" reached a perfection unknown to many composers of the new millennium. Their music is reminiscent of the splendor of noble writers like Elvis Costello and pop geniuses like Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout), built on a series of songs with infinite harmonic nuances, never the victim of apparent defeat by the joyful or melancholy. The two solo albums by Trevor Jones, "Hopeland" 2009 and "Keepers" of 2010, have garnered the attention of fans as ever, despite the confidence and resigned tone that characterized them, the matrices of folk and soul have become evident with a grace and an unexpected strength, the music has captured the moods and sounds that tells of the passing time and seasons with a warm and compelling musical language. "Ghost Of Song" tries to look back over the short and decisive step of this adventure, collecting a dozen tracks from the two albums and placing them in a more enjoyable context by eliminating the parts recited and even sacrificing some small pearls. Steel guitar and piano underscore the solar notes of the beautiful "Hopeland", a ballad both evocative and nostalgic, balanced between country and soul that the voice of Trevor emphasizes with warmth and little emphasis. The swaying harmonies of "Girl On A Bridge" and the gorgeous ballad in the blues key "To Tell You The Truth" is the result of harmonic insights of rare beauty, Trevor Jones possesses the poetry of Joni Mitchell and knows the secrets of the best Bob Dylan. It remains incomprehensible that silence still accompanies the music of the composer in London, it is rare to hear an album as strong and vital as "Ghost Of Song", the lyrical genius in the progression of "Bluer Skies Than This" deserves to be handed down to posterity, while the melancholy tinged symphony and opera of "I Showed You The River" brings back the memory of the glorious splendor of albums like "Harvest" by Canadian Neil Young. It should be emphasized that the great influence of American music is sometimes evident in the more country ballads like "Something Resembling Love", but also latent in a most british pop song like the incantevoel "I Deny", introduced by creating a beautiful mandolin and acoustic guitar that opens in a harmony which has the airy softness of silk and the strength of wood, resisting his refrain is impossible and foolish. Autumnal music, to listen to by the fireside with the smell of smoke and the snow falling, but also perfect company for the sultry days of August. "Ghost Of A Song" with each listen reveals an immense collection of emotions . "Folding Street" eliminates any lingering doubts and enters firmly amongst the best songs of the decade, a growing lyric welcomes traces of folk music with a hypnotic refrain that resembles a ritual dance. Reflective, sometimes austere, music by Trevor Jones does not mind baroque tones but knows the secrets of simplicity and poetry, his lyrical force transcends genres embracing jazz, blues, soul sound in the folds of a rich twilight colors and power emotional simplicity marrying classical music with a lyrical triumph that has the force of authenticity and intellectual honesty. Trevor Jones is one of the most vital writers of the last twenty years but also one of the most underrated, but now has come the hour of his discovery and his appreciation.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sunday Morning Blue: 'Nilsson Schmilsson' & '24 Years of Hunger'

We were bouncing around the house to the frivolity of this music when the relative peace was shattered by a phone call and the news that a friend had just taken her life...
The glorious weather and incessant chuckling of the blackbirds makes the sad news somehow sadder. Mental health is a fragile thing; we're blessed if we are stable.
If you have a sad friend, ring them now...
I replaced the clatter with silence but that seemed a little sonorous; so put on Max Richter's 'Memory House'; mournful yet uplifting and oddly life affirming.
Music's a balm; music can save your life...

Here's my post as was:

Sunday morning is not for sonic adventure; it's a time to cozy up with old favourites, sure things to soundtrack recovery from the ructions of the previous night. Last eve' was spent with the Bholla family, celebrating the birth of Priya's first born; Eashan; Ches's grandson. The baby's head was not so much 'whetted' as sodden, waterlogged even...

First up is a classic soothy: Harry Nilsson's 'Nilsson Schmilsson'.
'Without You' was the first 45 rpm that I ever bought; most of you will know it well, so try this neglected gem instead; 'The Moonbeam Song' and marvel at Harry's voice; he did the backing vocals too; Brian Wilson would be proud of them...
It does get a bit raucous in places; I had to turn it down during a drum solo (Ringo?); a sure sign that it's not a totally perfect 'Sunday Morning Blue' choice, it was a pleasant reminder of college days though and had me reaching for The Beatles Blue album which is classic Sunday fodder but doesn't make the SMB grade, being a compilation.
For later in the day see also 'A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night' which is a collection of covers lovingly orchestrated by Gordon Jenkins (who also worked closely with Frank Sinatra).
It features standards like 'As Time Goes By' and 'What'll I Do' which I'll be listening to tonight...

Next I played '24 Years of Hunger' by Eg and Alice.
This is another classic pop album that you can currently buy new on Amazon for £51.96. I guess that means it's deleted which is a shame as it's cracking; loaded with emotionally vibrant songs. 
Eg White is still a jobbing songwriter who writes for Will Young, amongst others. His solo albums are worth checking out; but I don't think that he's ever bettered this 1991 album. It hasn't dated; at least not to these old ears...
Have a listen to the gorgeous 'Indians'.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Mid Air: The Hissyfit Review: World Weary Plain Song or Just Plain Knackered?

"Every record should be compared to silence - silence is perfect.
What are you going to put on it?"  
Paul Buchanan

It's interesting how the Blue Nile and Paul Buchanan particularly have helped map the emotional landscapes of many; not only enriching but endorsing the human condition. Surely this is the ambition of any artist: to connect. It seems that Buchanan's voice and canny observations have us all rendered dumb, then babbling; he says what we wanted to say; he articulates the minutiae, the commonplace, helping us to reclaim lost moments; the silences; the space between the disappointments and the small victories. That is his gift; he speaks for All of Us without preaching... with the faltering delivery of a wounded man he notes and totes the daily defeats; the bruises, the scars, the damage done; his keen eye focussed on the fault lines of the male psyche. And yet with PB there is always the promise of recovery. Perhaps this is why he elicits such adulation and devotion from us maudlin middle agers. And while he speaks for all of us, there is an intimacy in the delivery that gives the impression that he is speaking directly to us; the effect can be emotionally overwhelming. 
There's always empathy and tenderness; "Ask me if I am grateful , watch as I fall down to my knees"
The album is chock full of such blessed moments, too earthly to be called heavenly. It's also informed by a pretty potent quotient of loss. I won't detail the songs here; their discovery is surely a personal pleasure and, if you've not yet heard the album, I envy you your first encounter. There's no fat here, no distractions in the austere presentation; the prodding piano, that beautifully imperfect voice stage centre; everything lean and focussed. You can't help but... lean in. There's much pondering, Buchanan has you rubbing your chin, nodding sagely at the worldly recognitions; and then he'll hit you with 'for the starlight in my suitcase' and you find yourself elevated and... in pieces. 
Are we ever too old for epiphanies? 
Ever too old to wish upon stars?
It's said that the boy is the father of the man; what is unique about this exceptional writer is the way he articulates what it is to be a man in testing times; yet always with a sense of wide eyed wonder; there's clarity and wisdom in his almost willful innocence. He sees, he recognises, he sheds light, illuminating a path forwards, onwards and beyond the defeats, towards some kind of refuge...  that guiding light might be insubstantial starlight; a half light; but it is light enough...

In Cassidy's Care: 6. Last Tuesday

The next morning Cassidy prepared breakfast for his boys. 
He also needed to prepare them for bad news; their beloved ‘Grumps’ had passed away the night before. He looked at the box of cereal in his hands. ‘Cheerios’. Who says Americans don’t do irony, he thought.
“What’s ‘irony’ Dad?”
Cassidy rubbed his forehead. Breakfast was always ‘Question Time with Archie’.
“It’s like insincere wit, sarcasm. The Brits are experts at irony Archie. I can’t even spell it.”
Daniel looked up, tilted his head, said ‘I. R. O. N. Y.’ and returned his attention to the back of the cereal box.
“Yes Archie?”
“What’s a ‘cactuscunt’?”
Cassidy choked on his Cheerios.
“Where did you hear those words Archie?”
“Isn’t cactuscunt one word?”
Bloody Bill I’ll bet, thought Cassidy. He knew that the term was applied to dry old spinsters, but wondered if it had been a fresh insult leveled at him.
“It wasn’t Uncle Bill Daddy” Daniel protested, “and he’s not bloody…” Both boys looked at each other and bowed their heads.
Cassidy steadied himself.
“Where, Archie?” he said in as even a tone as he could muster.  “Where and in what context?”
“What’s ‘context’?”
Cassidy lost momentum, wasn’t sure that he wanted to pursue this.
“It means ‘situation’ or ‘circumstance’ Archie. Like this moment in the kitchen”
Maybe best not give the words too much attention.
“You, me and Daniel sitting here eating breakfast, that is the context to our conversation.”
Archie wrinkled his nose, puzzled.
“Now, finish your cereal kiddo. Less talk, more walk.”
A seamless deflection, thought Cassidy. Best to let that one slide, although he doubted that he’d heard that particular term for the last time. Daniel and Archie were persistent and pretty worldly; they too had developed edges, the influence of Amelia, the benefits of a ‘broken home’.
And what a shitty term that is.
“Dad, you cursed.” Cassidy winced; he was making a habit of thinking out loud. Daniel side eyed him disapprovingly; since Amelia’s departure his first son had become Cassidy’s conscience and moral mediator keeping both he and Archie in check and on track. Archie chuckled into the canary yellow sleeve of his Arsenal shirt. Cassidy noticed that Archie always wore the team’s away strip when staying at his apartment; now that was fricking irony. He’d be wearing it the next night when Arsenal visited Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea. The boys didn’t know it yet, but Cassidy had wangled tickets. That might soften the blow.
“Listen you two. You know that your Grandpa has been poorly? Well last night, in his sleep, peacefully, no pain, with Granny Annie by his side he….”
“Grumpa Harry’s dead?” chirped Archie.
“He passed away”
“So he’s dead?”
“Correct Archie.”
“Will he go to heaven?”
“Absolutely. He was a good man. Good men go to heaven.”
“Yes Archie?”
"Did Grumpa curse?"
"He taught me everything I know Archie"
"And cursers can get into heaven?"
"As long as they know that they shouldn't curse and say sorry in their heads after they've done it" parried Cassidy. “Sometimes it’s ok to curse. It all depends on the… context.”
"Yes Archie?"
“Can we have pancakes for breakfast?”

Friday, 25 May 2012

Mid Air Arrives Chez Moi

Yup, got it yesterday; listened to it after arriving home from work. Di was in the garden mincing around in a bikini so my mind was possibly elsewhere; it all just seemed to pass me by...
I went off to play squash and came home at midnight to a dormant house so, just me, a bacon butty and a beer; headphones on and... there's so little going on that, if you listen, you can't help but pay attention to the details and God, my friends, is there in these heavenly vignettes. The brevity just sharpens the focus on the Carveresque (thanks TT) observations and minimalist piano proddings. There is an imperfection to the arrangements, and indeed to some of the vocals, that involves and engages; you just can't help but lean in...
I'm already looking forward to re-listening tonight and will do my review once I've soaked in the thing.

Meantime, here's a review from The Big Issue:

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lovesong: Olafur Arnalds: ...and they have escaped the weight of darkness

I've posted on Olafur Arnalds before here, when he recorded 7 songs in 7 days for his album 'Living Room Songs'.
I've been listening to his 2010 album "and they have escaped the weight of darkness" and it's a fantastic thing, rich symphonic soundscapes, yet often childlike in its (almost insubstantial) simplistic serenity; reminds me of Sigur Ros in that aspect.
Have a look at this video and try and remain... unmoist...

This second track from the same album has a whiff of Paul Buchanan (him again) about it melodically, and in the pensive piano playing.
Gorgeous stuff...

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Glow Diaries: 6: Cymbal Swells and Tubular Bells

Here we seem to be in 'tinkering mode'. 
'Glow', 'Beads Without a Chain' and 'Off the Wall' (soon to be 'Heels for Dust') get the "turd polishing" treatment...
As ever, click on the image below to enlarge and read...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lovesong: Rachel Sermanni: Eggshells

I don't know an awful lot about Sermanni other than that she's 19 and has just toured in support of Mumford and Sons. Her influences sound pretty standard; Bob Dylan and her dad. (I wonder who inspired Jacob Dylan..?)
“My dad taught me the penny whistle when I was younger. He taught me to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We went to church as well and I think we were all musical naturally. We did listen to a lot of music – things like Eva Cassidy, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan.”
The inevitable Laura Marling comparisons are rife; I think that she's more mainstream than that (Mary Hopkins anyone?) but this song in undeniably lovely.
Does anyone else think that she's a dead spit of the gal from the Scottish Widows ad?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday Morning Blue: Shawn Colvin: Fat City/A Few Small Repairs/Whole New You

After the dramas of last night's European Cup Final I needed something familiar to calm the nerves.
Prompted by the news that she's just about to release her first album in six years, 'All Fall Down', produced by the great Buddy Miller, I had a Shawn Colvin morning; starting mid-stream (and mainstream) with 'Fat City'.
'Polaroids' resonated and I found this great version with Miller playing 'Mando-guitar' and a startlingly underused Emmylou Harris on... tambo.

'A Few Small Repairs' was the critically acclaimed, Grammy winning follow up; full of excellent songs and arrangements, produced by John Leventhal. 'The Facts About Jimmy' is particularly fine and I found this video of Colvin performing it with that smooth jazzer Chris Botti. 

I finished up playing 'A Whole New You', the successor to 'A Few Small Repairs'. Many were disappointed by this unwholesome gem but I think that it's my favourite Colvin album. With Leventhal at the helm again, there's a darkness to the soundscapes and song content that drags you in and gets you hitting repeat as you wonder "did she really just say that?" Have a listen to the lyrics of the brutally brilliant (and gorgeous sounding) 'Another Plane Went Down'. 
'Zipadeedoodah' it ain't...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Paul Buchanan Extra

I'm beginning to feel a bit like PB's press agent with all of these pre-release posts.
Here below is a reminder of some recent press activity.
This might seem a bit nerdy but maybe we could all venture an album review to be initially posted here, and then posted on amazon by the author; I know from personal experience how important those endorsements are. I'll start the ball rolling once I've lived with the album a day or two and then you can play if you want to... it'll take a lot to get Peter Broderick off my system...

With 'Mid Air' realeased on Monday there are a couple of radio interviews to look out for this weekend:

Firstly there will be an interview on the Tom Robinson show on BBC 6 Music at 21:00 tonight (

He will then be appearing on Bob Harris's Radio 2 show on in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Here's a new review on the BBC's website:

Uncut 9/10 - "Scotland's greatest living singer"

Sunday Express 4/5 - "14 short pieces are melodic, beautifully crafted and definitely not for the broken hearted"

Time Out 4/5 (Album of the Week)
- "exquisitely hushed and extraordinarily intimate listen"

Mojo 4/5 - "A 2am album of sheer devastating beauty"

The Sunday Times and Guardian ran 2 interviews with Paul last weekend that are also available to read on PB's website:

The Sunday Times

The Guardian

There is also a great interview with The Works on RTE in Ireland. (Here is a YouTube link for those who can't view the RTE link -

The Glow Diaries: 5: Paper Planes, Secret Fold and BJ.

Getting BJ Cole in to do a session is always an inspiring and invigorating time. He challenges you, does BJ; he requires his sound 'just so', likes to play instinctively and... loud. Marcus needs to be on his toes technically and I need to really concentrate on what we regard as his direction with the track; he fires off so many great ideas that you need to be sure not to miss something inspired that might lead down another path. You don't always get what you're expecting (or even what you wanted); what you invariably get is something... better; but you'd better pay attention, to be sure to capture the best moments. It's quite a sight as BJ moans and groans, rolls and rucks with the challenge, totally immersed in his endeavour; Marcus behind him, braced against the wall of stupendous sound, trying to twiddle knobs with his fingers in his ears...

Click on the image to enlarge and read about the development of 'Paper Planes and Ponytails' and 'The Secret Fold'.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Lovesong: Peter Broderick: 'Sideline': Paul Buchanan: 'Time Out' Record of the Week

I got home from work yesterday to a package from Amazon that I assumed was my copy of 'Mid Air'. Disappointed to open it and find Peter Broderick's 'How They Are' instead; forgotten that I'd ordered it... I played it and disappointment flew out of the window; beautiful, minimal stuff; much what I'm anticipating from PB.

First track 'Sideline' is breathtaking in its modesty; just lovely. Take a look at the video below and tell me that you cannot break a heart with ten thumbs and a 'so-so' voice...
Meanwhile; 'Mid Air' is Time Out's record of the week.
Click on the image (right) to enlarge and read.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

In Cassidy's Care: 5. Last Monday (continued)

Later that morning Cassidy sat at his desk in the lower school lab, eating a stolen doughnut. Second graders were easy pickings. He liked the kids, liked the school. He was ‘Head of Department’ now, admittedly a department of one, but the title was worth an extra eleven hundred a year, even though it did come with a few extra curricular responsibilities. He also got to teach Daniel and Archie daily, so that was good.
“Teaching’s good” he said to his reflection in the monitor screen and heard his father’s voice. He pictured him on the porch of the beach house poking at his plants with a rusty trowel.
“That’s good. Teaching’s good”, Harry had said when Cassidy showed him his college application forms.
“One more teacher means one less delinquent.”
His father could be an acerbic old ass but Cassidy recognized his approval.
As he prepared his first class of the day his mind fixed on the early morning’s events. An ambulance had arrived 17 minutes after he’d finally hit 999 and, with Monty en route to hospital (and after changing into a more supportive jogging suit) he’d started making his statement to the police; a statement that he finally signed at the local station in Maida Vale four hours later.
It transpired that Monty had met Claude the week before “somewhere in Old Compton darling” and after a couple of dates had invited him home “for nookie and a nightcap”. Monty had caught him rifling through his drawers.
“He only got the Rolex, my worthless inheritance, all that my father left me. Tight arse.” Cassidy had walked beside Monty as the medics stretchered him down the stairs, towards the ambulance. “Lovely crocodile strap but never kept time.” He grasped Cassidy’s hand tightly. “Over wound, beautiful and useless. A bit like Claude really” he guffawed and then grimaced. “Sorry Peter, you Americans don’t do irony, do you?”
As Monty disappeared headfirst into the ambulance his bluing feet hung pitifully over the edge of the stretcher and Cassidy hung his own slippers over the clawed toes of his injured friend.
“Thanks old boy.” Monty’s voice echoed dolefully from the darkness within, “You’re a good egg. My extremities were beginning to feel rather chilly.”
Cassidy wondered if he’d ever see Monty, or his slippers again.

Finishing his doughnut, Cassidy brushed sugar from his tie and eyed his emails, noticing one from his oldest brother Tom. “Urgent. Ring home. Dad not good.”
“Dad’s had an episode; a stroke they think. He’s gone into a coma”, explained Tom two hours later when Cape Cod finally awoke. “They don’t think he’s going to make it.”
“Jeez. How’s Mom?”
“Annie’s OK; sitting by his bed, shouting at him to wake up and stop milking it. Keeps asking him what he wants for supper.”

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

In Cassidy's Care: 4. Last Monday

It had been a tense and testing week for Cassidy. 3 a.m. early last Monday, his neighbour’s latest lover (in a long line of latest lovers) had threatened him with a butter knife. Cassidy had been awoken by Monty’s screams.
“You fucker. You’ve fucking killed me Claude, you fuck
Armed with a single leather slipper (left foot) and an early morning erection, Cassidy charged upstairs into the darkness with only his dressing gown for cover. As he reached the communal landing, a hooded figure blundered past before turning on him.
“Want some? Want some?” lisped the livid stranger, apparently Claude.
Cassidy hit the light switch and his bleary eyed bravado evaporated. It might have been but a butter knife but Cassidy definitely did not want some.
“Come on big boy, you gonna frisk me or fuck me?” drawled Claude, eyeing Cassidy’s now gaping gown. His eggy eyes popped and then narrowed; there was a smell of whiskey and stale sex. Cassidy pulled himself and his gown together. He felt naked and vulnerable without his glasses.
“Just go”, he said in a voice that was an octave higher than it should have been, and stood impotent, squinting as Claude’s sorry hooded ass stumbled down the stairs. Cassidy tied a double knot in the belt of his dressing gown and tentatively pushed open the door of Monty’s apartment. Monty sat bolt upright on a sofa, clutching at his right side.
“The fucker’s killed me”, he wailed.
There was an odd gurgling sound. Cassidy thought of his boys with plastic straws, clearing their coke bottles of that last holy half-inch.
Not good.
“Hold it together Monty, I’ll call an ambulance.”
“I am holding it together. Literally. Look”
Monty raised a bloody hand from his satin pajama jacket. Even without his glasses Cassidy could see an ugly gash leering up at him, pink and frothy.
“Did you meet Claude? Isn’t he a charmer? From New York… one of yours Peter... I mix him a Manhattan and the fucker stabs me”
“He did that with a butter knife?”
“Uumphh” Monty started to roll onto his side.
“Stay with me Monty” Cassidy’s mind raced. He searched out the bathroom and returned with a towel, rolling it up into a ball.
“I want you to press this against the wound, Monty. Pressure’s the thing here.” 
Thank Christ for compulsory first aid classes he thought and reached for the phone.
“Is your phone working Monty? I’m getting nothing from 911?”
“That’s because you’re living in London you prick” guffawed Monty before dissolving once more into that ghastly gurgling.
Cassidy reddened. He always knew he’d be found wanting in an emergency. Amelia had always maintained that it was a blessing he’d led an uneventful life.
“You’ll be crap come the revolution”, she had said just before testing her theory.
I love you, goodbye…
Cassidy; crying out loud again...
“Up yours” muttered Monty.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Paul Buchanan: RTE interview, Sunday Express review & The Sunday Times interview with Dan Cairns

I'm trying to gather as much of the pre-release minutiae as possible regarding Mid Air; mainly sourced from the (now regularly updated) official website 
(I hope that this doesn't expose my arse legally), which I'd say to go direct to (your honour).
Witness a PB interview with John Kelly on RTE OneHit this link and watch from 13.40 onwards. It's available until May 31st...
Here also is The Sunday Time's interview with PB, preceded by The Sunday Express's review of Mid Air; always a sure sign that the wheels are spinning when the tabloids get involved...
Click on the images to enlarge and read.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Keepers: Wall Street Journal Interview: Gabriella Stern

Once again, Trevor Jones, an obscure British singer-songwriter, has produced a gorgeous pop album that few will hear — unless there’s justice in the world. Those of us who’ve followed Jones for years savor his new releases, playing and replaying them because that’s how best to absorb his moods and fresh tunes. Then comes a reliable wave of enthusiastic reviews from a select following of pop-music critics from the U.K., Italy, New Zealand, New York, followed by, well, meager sales. 
Jones’s new album, “Keepers,” due out Oct. 25, has already received raves, and indeed it surpasses “Hopeland,” his prior, and first, solo effort combining song and spoken word. “Keepers” now ranks among my top-three favorite Jones creations — the others being the “Limbo” and “Alaska” albums produced byMiracle Mile, a group comprising Jones and collaborator Marcus Cliffe.

I recently contacted Jones to ask him about his new music and his career.
The Wall Street Journal: Basic stats - how old are you?
Trevor Jones: Fricking Fifty!
Where were you born?
Ely, Cambridgeshire but, as my Dad was in the RAF, I spent much of my childhood abroad. (Singapore & Cyprus)
Where do you live?
I live in a small cottage in a little village near Henley, between Oxford and London.
When did you start being a singer-songwriter?
When I returned from my early years abroad I was sent to a boarding school in North Yorkshire. There wasn’t a lot to do but play rugby and gaze at my belly button. One Christmas I asked my parents for a guitar. I received a cherry red Gibson SG copy and taught myself (badly). My friends all wanted to mimic Clapton and Page so it was out on permanent loan; I was more interested in the stories and songs of Paul Simon and Tom Waits so I traded the SG in for an acoustic guitar and painted it blue. It was all mine after that…
Where do you write, record?
I have a special chair (the ‘cinnamon chair’) in my back room that looks out on to the garden. Most MM songs start there, although the genesis for the solo stuff is a similar chair that sits in our dining room in Corsica. We’ve recorded everything since ‘Alaska’ at Marcus’s Norbury Brook studio. We’ve had our house in Corsica for nearly 10 years now. It’s become our ‘other life.’ We alternate between the two lives; London and Corsica, and have been amazed at how one lifestyle enriches the other. Although my songs with Miracle Mile are personal, the inspiration for ‘Hopeland’ came from a very particular place and time. I was feeling disconnected in London: there was so much noise that I couldn’t hear. I wanted to retreat to a quiet place and try to reconnect with simple virtue. I felt graceless and needed to sit in quiet, and then take the time to stand and stare, to recognise the wonders, the delights and shadows of life. As I’ve said, my girlfriend Di and I have a house in a small village (population 60) half way up a mountain in northern Corsica. Over the course of a year I wrote ‘Hopeland’ in that house. The poems and songs are very much rooted in that wild, authentic environment and I hope that the simple, traditional existence is reflected in the directness of the writing. I wanted the recording of the songs to reflect that simplicity and directness.
Are you seeing your acclaim and popularity pick up over the years — as measured by disc sales, attendance at concerts (do you ever perform?), reviews, whatever other metrics?
As the music got quieter I found myself more comfortable in a controlled studio environment and less willing to expose myself to the vagaries of live performance. In doing so I removed myself from the everyday contact that might endorse my work. Critical acknowledgment is important in that it encourages my mumblings. It’s heartening when informed journalists take the time to listen. My music is important to me; I take it seriously. It is ultimately my attempt to observe, communicate and connect with the world. Where some folk seem engaged by the grand gesture, I’m more interested in the small pulses of life. That is not intended as a criticism of others: gesture is a vital part of any dialogue, but for me the challenge is to make the mundane interesting, to illuminate everyday miracles and small dramas without making them seem dull.
Frank question: how does it feel being so good and yet being relatively undiscovered? Does it anger you? How do you deal with the frustration?
I suppose that there’s cold comfort in knowing that a lot of great music goes unheralded. I guess I’m resigned to life in the margins. The benefit of independence is that you can remain true to yourself. You don’t have to manicure your work to suit some corporate template. You can develop naturally. The danger of course is that you might make the same unchecked mistakes over and over. It suits me though; I’m not good at taking direction.
Is it fair to say you work hard via word of mouth, Internet, and social networking to spread the word? Do you have champions out there doing the same? Have their ranks been swelling?
Our fan base seems to be increasing; sales remain modest but folk who take the time to listen seem to be incredibly engaged and loyal. There’s no denying that the Internet connects us with kindred spirits. The Italians seem particularly interested. Our music is available to download through the usual sites and the benefits are undeniable, although I’m a little uncomfortable with the MP3. I think that we might suffer a reaction from the listening habits of the modern music fan; folk listen to iPods rather than CDs, often with the ‘Shuffle’ on. With MM and particularly the solo stuff the sequence of listening is vital. I believe the albums are best heard in order and in one sitting; maybe too much to demand in these transient times. We take care in developing the progression on an album. One thought leads to another; a development of sound, mood and thought. The hope is to engage the listener, to present a listening experience akin to a journey. That sounds a little self-important I know, but there has to be ambition attached to any creative process.
Personal question: some of the autobiographical songs are awfully sad–what happened to your sister? On “Pink Jesus (Limbo),” what is the old recording we’re hearing?
I’m always prodding Marcus to feature his bass playing more, and he came up with a lovely piece that I’d been sitting on for a while, waiting for the light bulb to flash. My sister Kerry is never far from my thoughts. She took her life nine years ago. I had already placed that moment in ‘Sister Song’ on ‘Alaska’ so was mindful of not being overwrought in her remembrance. There was a dignified melancholy suggested in the quiet beauty on Marcus’s piece that somehow seemed appropriate to her now distant memory. For some forgotten reason I had recorded a conversation with my parents just after Kerry’s passing. Some phrases reverberated; Mum has a framed picture of Kerry and, in the recordings, she talks about the comfort of “dusting her everyday”. We took some of the spoken sections and flew them into the music, and I wrote some brief thoughts and sang them. So, just a bass guitar, my Mum and me. Where ‘Sister Song’ was raw, cathartic, vital as a means of dealing with something unthinkable, ‘Pink Jesus’ feels more like a goodbye kiss.

On “Plasticine (Limbo)” — whom are you singing to?
The easy ambiguity of much popular music invariably allows listeners to inhabit a song and make it their own. I wonder if our limited commercial success is because my lyrics are too specific, refining our appeal. I try to illuminate the everyday stuff that might seem too mundane to be worth a second glance. Nothing original in that, many writers attempt to connect by observing those ‘penny-drop’ moments, but for a song to resonate, for me, there needs to be personal investment, specifics that might alienate, or at least take the ‘that’s me’ moment away. ‘Plasticine’ started as an observation of a friend’s disintegrating relationship and his attempts to re-launch himself as an independent spirit. Moving forward helped him to look back with clarity; resentment became understanding and he began to “talk about the good things” again…as Paddy MacAloon noted “all of my insights in retrospect”; isn’t that simply ‘wisdom’. I didn’t want the song to be voyeuristic or too specific to him, so I imagined myself regretful at the end of my current (long-term and very happy) relationship. This provided the tastes and smells of that last verse and took away the possibility of the song ever being a single!
Do you agree with AmericanaUK (a music web site) that “Keepers” is sadder than “Hopeland” and if so, why is this so?
‘Keepers’ is essentially a collection provoked by loss. My previous album ‘Hopeland’ had been bathed in optimism’s glow after the retreat to a simple life in Corsica had gifted a startling clarity of thought. What followed was no regression, just an unsettling feeling that those peaceful waters were about to be disturbed. It’s inevitable that small dramas set the ripples forming and here they were again. And again, it was through writing that I tempered that turbulence. Once more I withdrew, simplified and learnt to be alone. I started writing ‘Keepers’ on the shores of a lake in northern Portugal, and stumbled towards a moment of grace on the roof of a shepherd’s hut in Corsica. Always close to water, always with a small yellow notepad in hand. Inside the cover of that notepad I had written the words of American poet Galway Kinnell: ‘Maybe the best we can do is do what we love as best we can’. It’s the ‘Maybe…’ that moved me. ‘Keepers’ is also a collection provoked by the loss of a good friend. A recognition of the importance of touchstones; objects, places and people that inspire us to keep eyeing the horizon, yet offer safe harbour should things go awry. These bellwethers colour our lives daily, helping us to go on. We bottle their benevolence and call it ‘home’. We carry them with us; their absence is company enough. Their kindred spirit can haunt inanimate objects; a toy plane, a letter, a button, a bible, a key…These are not pious custodians, just plain folk with the same vulnerabilities as the rest of us and yet something sets them apart, moving us to burden them with our wellbeing. They become the keepers of our faith in other people. We are comforted in their presence and diminished by their loss.
What’s next?
I’m still writing, always hopeful that my next song will be my best. Song writing is like breathing to me. I feel blessed to have retained enthusiasm for my creative outlet. There’s nothing sadder than looking at my girlfriend’s dusty dancing shoes in the attic…