Saturday, 27 February 2010

Aston Villa

If you read this blog with any regularity you may know that I am an Aston Villa supporter and this weekend am off to Wembley for the Carling Cup final against Man United. A big deal for me, and it seems other supporters who have took it upon themselves to record tribute songs celebrating the final.
This one it seems is based on the Black Eye Peas song, I Got A Feeling.

Colin Davies, who put that song together is an ardent Villa supporter and has put together numerous songs and videos celebrating the team. It's kind of catchy.

The next one is The Ultimate Villa Song, and at times it sounds like Sham 69, not a good thing.

The Ultimate Villa Song (Murfee Mix)

A song I heard on Radio WM though is Althea and Rays Aston Villa and to be frank it is fucking shocking. You have to listen to it, Man United, they get Status Quo to write songs about them, we get this shite.


Aston Villa Carling Cup Rap by Althea and Ray.

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Side Project

One of the joys of Leeds Festival last year wasn’t seeing youngsters running riot in some rock n roll Lord of The Flies, but instead it was seeing The Bronx’s side project band, Mariachi El Bronx. Great songwriting served up in a beautiful mariachi style that was neither novelty nor comedy. I really can not recommend their album enough.

I Would Die 4 U by Mariachi El Bronx

Side Projects are that way of letting off steam, for some its an escape from your regular bandmates before you kill them (Blink 182’s four examples in Angels and Airwaves, Boxcar Racer, The Transplants and Plus 44) or a way of getting a different sound out there (McCartney’s The Fireman). Sometimes it’s secret (Green Day’s Foxboro Hot Tubs), Sometimes not so secret, (Homme, Jones and Grohl’s Them Crooked Vultures).

There Is by Boxcar Racer

The side project is as old as time, from Robert Johnson standing at the crossroads want to collaborate with Lucifer on a blues side project as he felt the confines of his usual krautrock band was stifling him. It’s not that well documented in all honesty.

The side project for some is a release take Alexis On Fire man at the back, Dallas Green, Dallas Green in his side project guise makes me very happy with his songs, Alexis On fire, not so much. Dallas, from Canadia records under the name of City and Colour (Dallas Green, geddit?) Alexis On Fire, shouty!!!!! City and Colour not shouty, lovely, fluffy, keep your wifes hair out of the way whilst she throws up, helpful. Alexis On Fire shouty!!!!!!!

The Girl by City and Colour

Clapton was the master of the side project, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, Derek and the Dominoes and Blind Faith, but thats the tipping point of when a Side Project becomes a supergroup, The Clap loved the supergroup.

Comin Home by Delaney, Bonnie and Friends

Of course there are times when the side project eclipses the main project. Further Seems Forever turned into a shit sub par Christian emo band when Chris Carrabba went off and did Dashboard Confessional, never to return due to their shit sub parChristian emo leanings, that and Dashboard Confessional being a whole heap more popular.

Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional

Another notable main act eclipsing side project is Broken Social Scene, the side project of another from Canadia Do Make Say Think, Do Make Say Think are the undisputed champions of the pushing their members out to the projects, Lullabye Arkestra, Gesundheit, Z'howndz, Microgroove, Sphyr, Years and The Happiness Project all being side projects and most of them are the side project of main noodler in Do Make Say Think, Ohad Benchetrit.

7/4 Shoreline by Broken Social Scene

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Give em' Enough Rope Review

John Mellor, Michael Jones, Nicholas Headon and Paul Gustave Simonon were todays commute music makers, or The Clash to me and you and their second album, Give Em Enough Rope.
The Clash are the greatest Rock n Roll band on the planet (after Tenacious D) and this their second album confirmed it for most. Universally liked by critics and fans alike it is an album that has stood the test of time. I think its OK, not that great and maybe my 4th favourite Clash album.
You see its got filler on it, and The Clash should not do filler on a single album, there isn’t any filler on double albums so why is there on a single? This filler is fair though and the good tracks are great, but where is the Career opportunities though, or the White Man in Hammersmith? Possibly still Hammersmith’s Palais.
It does have Tommy Gun, it does have Safe European Home and more but somehow these left me unfulfilled, The Clash are one of my very favourite bands, and I guess this isn’t Cut The Crap, thank heavens for that, but it’s just not right. 6 out of 10.

Stay Free by The Clash

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Take Dis Review

If this was 1994 and this was the Shropshire Star you would be reading now that Peter of Donnington’s favourite albums were Dolittle by Pixies, If This Is Rock And Roll I Want My Old Job Back by The Saw Doctors and Take Dis By Credit To The Nation. This is 2010, I now live in Stafford and this isn’t the Shropshire Star.
Those albums are what a 24 year old me though were unsurpassed in modern music, I suspect Bandwagonesque was also part of that list. I still like all of those albums by the way, just perhaps not as fervently at 39 as I did at 24.
That brings us neatly to todays commute disc, Take Dis by Credit To The Nation. UK hip hop act fronted by MC Fusion, or as his mum calls him, Matty Hanson.
Walsall is famous for many things, its market is the punchline to a joke involving the lead singer of A-ha, Noddy from Slade used to roam the Beechdale, as did Martin Degville of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, the current Mrs D’s formative years were also spent there, as was MC Fusion from Credit To The Nation. Wikipedia also tells me that Boy George spent some time in Walsall, I find that hard to believe.
Enough of the history lesson, to here, and now and the CD.

I still like it it has to be said, its still a good album as far as UK hip hop goes. Mainly political in its themes, be them rascism, sexism, police brutality or the government. Fusion was politicised if memory serves working with the likes of Chumbawamba and possibly Blaggers ITA, that feeling and those artists at that time would always show up in the words of any left leaning youth.

Hanson at times struggle to hide his anger, on lines like “the fucker named Major” you feel his anger, more so at the time, these days, you think oh John Major (father of whom came from Walsall). Some times though he mocks, on Honey, the target is Shabba Ranks. Yes the targets haven’t dated well, but the sentiment still means the same.

The most memorable track was the Nirvana sampling Call It What You Want, This was the record that bought CTTN to the attention of most of Britain, it is a great song, but as they try to iterate a lot on the CD, they are more than a sample, Hanson stresses this and it is the case, this album is more than a sample, but in the book of life, after Godzilla has looked sheepish whilst they try to find him, Matty Hanson will unfortunately say, you know, the one that samples Smells Like Teen Spirit.

For me it’s a track that is the weakest on the album, there is better. These days Hanson is back recording under the name Credit To The Nation and is going to be playing dates in 2010, this is a very good thing, this album, the follow up and the album being recorded as we speak need to be heard. So Take Dis, 8 out of 10.

Sowing The Seeds Of Hatred by Credit To The Nation

NB. Matty Hanson is from Wednesbury, my wife has informed me, this is NOT Walsall.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

White Light Review

So today we come to Gene Clark and White Light. Of all the albums in all the world that I have heard this is one of my favourite ever. My heart did a little leap this morning when I pulled it from the shelf, that BMW cutting me up just past Rugeley was not going to dampen my spirit one iota.
Its an alt country album in the best traditions of Gram Parsons, Neil Young and Clarks former home, The Byrds, it however does beat the living shit out of any of them, it beats them, stamps on their fingers, flicks them the V’s and says check that out, thats how to do an album, and just as this album is about to slam the door on a crying simpering Parsons, it looks back over it’s should and declares that you can stick you Flying Burrito Brothers up your arse.
It’s a good album.
My daughter, my idle baby girl (21) this week played me a Ryan Adams track and a flying Burrito Brothers track, it caught me off guard it has to be said, they were quite good, thats not what caught me off guard, the off guard catching was down to my dyed in the wool indie/rock/pop girl branched out beyond her comfort zone and played me a couple of tracks that I had never heard, but liked whole heartedly. Neither here nor there though as I know that Adams or FBB’s could produce a track that comes close to anything on this album, I have stated elsewhere on this blog that I do believe that they should make children listen to this album in schools.

“OK class, get out your ipods and turn to White Light, the seminal alt country album by former Byrd Gene Clark”

He even makes Stand By Me sound good on here, this version of the album, and I didn’t think that was possible (Stand by me being one of the few songs that regardless of the cover, it always sounds bad, yes I have heard that version before you say Lennon).

The Virgin is a song of astonishing quality, but its more than one track, For a Spanish Guitar its just consistent more than any other album I am likely to hear this entire year or beyond for that matter...maybe....another favourite is in the D’s.

Yes I may be looking at this through rose coloured specs, on the whole alt country is not my thing, but when its this good the genre isn’t important and its the songwriting that shines though. Clark on the whole is the lead songwriter and it is his songs that are the most fragile and at times plaintive and imploring. When he takes up someone like Dylans words its easier for him to pull down a mask, and that seems to be what he does. This is not a bad thing, or a criticism, it allows his focus to be on his playing and not conveying his innermost thoughts.

So an album that is perfect, faultless and completely without a flaw. It has to be 10 out of 10.

With Tomorrow by Gene Clark

Monday, 22 February 2010

Murder Ballads

Monday, the mood was high after Aston Villas hammering of Burnley, and I was given a car sticker. Nothing not nothing was going to spoil that mood. Ah. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads. Curses.
I am a bit hit and miss when it comes to Nick Cave, in Deanna, The Ship Song and The Mercy Seat he has been responsible for some of my favourite songs, but by Christ the man is overly dramatic. He really does create these tales that at first glance seem humourless. Then as Murder Ballads progress I start to really enjoy it, yes I would make some changes, no Minogue for me, I am part of the 1% in the country that really can not stand her, she is an irritation and none more so on this. Her weedy voice is the only downside of the Dylan cover, Death Is Not The End.
The highlight is the variation of Stagger Lee, I love Stagger Lee, I love it in most of its variations and this version does not disappoint.

So he walked through the rain and he walked through the mud
Till he came to a place called The Bucket Of Blood
Stagger Lee
He said "Mr Motherfucker, you know who I am"
The barkeeper said, "No, and I don't give a good goddamn"
To Stagger Lee
He said, "Well bartender, it's plain to see
I'm that bad motherfucker called Stagger Lee"

Superb song on a very good album, the journey in this morning was a little congested, but this album kept me going. 8 out of 10.

Stagger Lee by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

Edit. That Nick Cave review is a little shortlived, it was hurried, apologies. A little more about the album, its a death frenzy of an album, full of murder and death, barring the last song, when various stars take turns to tell us death is not the end, its like a big finale on the muppet show really as Kylie, Shane Mcgowan and such like are wheeled out to give us a verse, I kind of expected John Denver and Roger Moore to also sing a line, as it goes though they must have been busy.
PJ Harvey appears on an earlier track, Henry Lee and she gives us her best Nick Cave impression, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had sang “I’m down here for your soul”. She didn’t.
This really is his most collaborative effort, as well as PJ Harvey, Kylie, McGowan, we have the various Bad Seeds, Terry Edwards, Katherine Blake out of Miranda Sex Garden, James Johnston from Gallon drunk and Roland S Howard. There are a lot lot more on this album. No Bono, but its only a matter time.

The Very Best of Elvis Costello and The Attractions 1977-86

It took me hours to get home on Thursday night and the only company was Cornershop, I chose to sit in gridlock on the M6 in silence, the only voice was my own cursing myself for going the Motorway home and not sticking to the A roads.
Friday it was not Cornershop though, its Elvis Costello and The Attractions and their 1994 compilation, The Very Best of Elvis Costello and The Attractions 1977-86. Its quite specific that, pre beard?
I have a lot of Elvis Costello singles, possibly more than any other artist, all 7 inches and none bought by me, I don’t know how I got them but I have them, I only own one Elvis Costello album though and this is it. I think someone gave it to me, I don’t recall buying it. Maybe they took pity on me not having any Costello on CD.
Its of course excellent, in parts. Its classic in parts, its extremely well known, in parts. The parts that aren’t in parts are pretty good as well, you can hear him contemplating growing a beard though. “What would it take for McCartney to work with me? A BEARD!!!!!!!” “Hi is Pavarotti there? Yes, yes I have a beard” Costellos beard period isn’t really represented here. We have his clean shaven period and that takes in Radio Radio, Allison, I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down, Olivers Army, one of my all time favourite songs in his version of Shipbuilding (Favourite being the Wyatt version), you get the idea, as the name suggests, its his very best from 77 to 86.
I like it a lot to be honest and think its possibly worth at the very least a 7, maybe an 8. Yes it is not as great when he gets to his stubble phase around 85 or 86, and even now you feel like saying yes Elvis, but what have you done lately? The reply would almost certainly be “Been on The One Show mate, what have you done?” Listened to Cornershop mate. 8 out of 10.

Alison by Elvis Costello

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Tin Pan Alley

I fear this may well be a post that my co-blogging, punk loving, country twanging, Ford fiesta driving, software testing co-blogger Peter will label as 'educational'. Being poorly educated myself, and in the business of educating poorly, I shall attempt to inform little, make spelling mistakes and riddle the thing with historical inaccuracies.

So, to New York and Tin Pan Alley, allegedly so called as the cacophony of noise created by so many music publishing houses being lumped together created a noise not unlike the sound of pans being hit.. The Bowery Boys are a couple of camp sounding podcasters who produce highly entertaining podcasts on New York history. They are free and regularly get me to work and back, transporting me from the sweaty hell hole of the Santiago metro to Pennsylvania Station, the slum of the Five Points or this week Tin Pan Alley (actually from December of last year).

Geographically speaking Tin Pan Alley doesn't actually exist. It was an area on West 28th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, which is now part of the Flatiron district. What we are talking about is the birth of the sheet music business, and songwriters and publishers touting their wares to artists as a way of spreading and popularising their songs. Of course, at the time, music was live. You had no way of listening in another way, so in order to make their money the publishing companies produced sheet music (often sold in department stores). Aspiring songwriters would try and sell their songs to the houses, who would probably pay them off with a one-off fee, or if they were any good they would employ them on contract to knock out song after song. Big stars would often be simply given a good song, as when they embarked on a tour they might spread its popularity across the nation and lead to a million copies of the sheet music being sold.  

The Tin Pan Alley heydey was really about 1885 to 1910, when the companies started to move out of the district, although wireless and movies then came along, then records, and finally rock n'roll kicked it to death. This era produced many songs still recognised and played today (Take me Out to the Ball Game, for example), as well as host of well known song writing names - George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Fats Waller, Cole Porter and Scott Joplin. You can read more of the history here or see how the place is threatened with re-development here.

So, here we go with the tunes. The brothers Gibb with Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band (he also wrote White Christmas).

Here are the moptops with a version of the Yellen & Ager song Aint She Sweet.

And finally, everyones favourite mobster with the Donaldson & Whiting My Blue Heaven.

When I Was Born For The 7th Time Review

When I Was Born For The 7th Time was the CD for my commute, the 1997 album by Cornershop. A break through album to use the modern term as this was the album that contained by far their most well known song in Brimful Of Asha, the tribute to Asha Bhosle, and to playback singers in general.
The album is hit and miss on the whole, the full and proper songs with lyrics and melody are perfect, but as I have mentioned previously, Cornershop do these little interludes mainly made up of beats and and odd bursts of sitar etc. This falls flat for me, I like songs and the tracks that I consider “songs” make up a pretty good album.
We have the original un fatboy slimmed version of Brimful of Asha, a slightly slower pace to it and less reliant on loops, not to say I like the fatter version, I have the single, its a great, great pop record, think about this for a second, that was 13 years ago!! Also we have the marvellous, Sleep On The Left Side, Good Shit, Candyman, Funky Days Are Back Again, a fair to middling version of Norwegian Wood and my favourite track on the album, Good to Be on the Road Back Home, which features Paula Frazer.
The songs with lyrics are so good it does make up for the other songs but as someone that hates all of these interlude things on records, I never understand how they come to be released? What’s the benefit, as an artist it’s not really getting something worthwhile out, it doesn’t release your tortured soul or even give fans something they are desperate for, its merely a cynical album filler. What good, what purpose, what benefit to listener and artist is 3 minutes of drum loop with recorded effect and bongo over the top? At the record company meeting who was it that piped up, THAT has to go on the album? I don’t know, I don’t understand I don’t think, but I do know 13 years later I can buy the MP3’s I want and not feel cheated at the end of it by buying into Cornershops. musical masturbation. 5 out of 10.

Sleep On The Left Side by Cornershop

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

August and Everything After Review

Lets imagine a Rom-com, late 90’s Rom-com. To paint this picture completely lets put Meg Ryan as the female lead and maybe Hanks or some such as the male lead. Follows the standard rom com pattern, polar opposites dislike each other at first, through a series of events become close only for the female lead to break it all off due to an innocuous comment early on in the flick or a misunderstanding, finally the male lead will make some heartfelt plea to win the heart of the female, all interspersed with various montages.
Todays CD soundtracks all of that, today I was commuting to the sound of Counting Crows and their debut, August and Everything After. This album not only soundtracks the fictional rom-com’s opening titles, the montages, the break up, the thoughtful reflection following the break up, the punch the air in delight reconciling and the end credits, but also the opening, the getting together montage and all the bastard rom com clichés inbetween.
Counting Crows were made for rom com soundtracks and although the songs are ok, I can’t help picturing montages, segues and credits. This distracts me as I know that Perfect Blue Buildings is alright a song and not the incidental music in a date scene, but that unfortunately is what comes through.
Its not a bad album though it just conjures up clear images due to its use and sound, it sounds like late 90’s rom com soundtrack music. I think its fair to give it 4 out of 10, it has a few ok songs and its better than the follow up, less Meg Ryan on that though.

Perfect Blue Buildings by Counting Crows

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Underachievers Please Try Harder Review

Claire Nazir was back on GMTV today, I like Claire Nazir. I could tell that it is going to be a good day. So after the musical equivalent of a chinese burn that was Converge yesterday, today we have the musical equivalent of the other side of the pillow in Camera Obscura and their second album, Underachievers Please Try Harder.
I have been off of the indie for some time, I may have mentioned its cyclic, every 5 years or so I despair at just how dull, or po faced, or bad that there indie music is and I go looking for something else, Kev has played witness to my dance phase and along the ways there has been hip hop, metal and this time its been listening to old music, but new to me. Recently though I have been slowly coming back to the fold and enjoying new music again and this brings me to this album, not new, but 5 months ago I may have not thought it quite as excellent as it is.
Its not indie though, broadly yes I suspect thats the way to describe the band, but this album is more aligned, with Phil Spector, with Patience and Prudence, with Leonard Cohen on at least one song.
Camera Obscura better their debut on this album and hint at the strength of material that they produced on their third album, on suspended from class singer Traceyanne Campbell advises us that she doesn’t know her elbow from her arse, but in such a way that she could be telling us that she has just saved a kitten. It’s cute but not cutesy.
Teenager and Keep It Clean were released as singles but you suspect any of the tracks could have made it out into the wild. Its a fantastic collection of great pop songs that made me wish my journey was a few extra miles and the album a little longer. 9 out of 10

Suspended From Class by Camera Obscura.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Jane Doe Review

My commute CD album trek has took a bit of a rest, for many reasons, but today it started back up with a vengeance. In case you don’t know I am listening to all of my CD albums in turn, alphabetically and then I review them here.
The reason why I have had a month off from this is I needed a break from my own CD’s, I needed to catch up on a few podcasts, work was getting busy and primarily I am a coward.
Today’s CD was the 2001 album, Jane Doe by Converge, a Massachusetts hardcore/metal band, and to be frank it is potentially the worst album you will ever hear. Ever hear if you are stupid enough to hand over your money for it.

I was.

It’s absolutely dire and I really can’t think of any reason why I would buy it, and it was bought, believe me, from my own pocket money was spent, not downloaded illegally, or a copy from a friend, this is a bona fide purchased album.

So what does it sound like, it sounds like all of the scary thoughts I had as a child, chopped up, scrambled, screamed over and put back into my head via nail gun. If you had an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of monkeys, with instruments, this cacophony would be the very first thing they produced. It would then be discarded in the hope of something that resembled a tune.

It’s that post hardcore sound that I maybe liked during the early 2000’s, that can be the only excuse, but whereas acts like Poison The Well and Cave In had some tunes and tried to inject a little melody, these guys can’t even do that.

So the cowardice? I saw this CD was next, I kind of guessed how I would feel about it and for a month I went into the spare room, sometimes I got to the spine of the CD, but for a month I shook my head, I knew it was the musical version of the film Anguish and I was in no mood to listen to it. It is done now and I am sure nought but fluffiness and jollity are ahead. So Converge, Jane Doe. Jane Doh! More like 0 out of 10.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Evangenitals' Juli Crockett Interview

Some time back I wrote on the glory of the band that is The Evangenitals, they truly are a band that continually impress, and bring me musical joy. With the release of their last mini album and UK tour it is the start of something good, great? More and more The Evangenitals are playing live and seem to have settled on an almost permanent and stellar line up. Singer, songwriter and head honcho of The Evangenitals, Juli Crockett took time out to answer a few questions and elaborate on the past, present and future.

You have just released a new EP, as someone that is aware of those songs in various forms, it struck me as a record of band that are really very confident in what they are doing. How is the feeling in The Evangenitals at the moment? Confident?

I don't know if "confidence" is a natural state or feeling for an artist, but we are certainly feeling adventurous! We have a VERY loving, fun, and respectful dynamic in the band, and I think that is helping us to discover new willingness to take greater risk. Pretty much it's a love fest at the moment, and we're having a really good time.

The whole journey of this band has been a truly wild ride. Lisa Dee and I started the project over 6 years ago, and over that time there have been a LOT of amazing players that have been in the band at one time or another. Just like finding your audience, I think it has taken us a long time to find our "band"... and it's a continual process. Simply to survive as a band, it's been important for us to be very adaptable and fluid, with an extended family of musicians who can fill in for whatever opportunities arise.

In the past few years, the "core" of the group has really started to congeal with a feeling bordering on permanence. After myself and Lisa Dee, lead guitarist Henry Bermudez has been with us the longest, followed by ferocious fiddler Andrea Baker. Having these two in the band is a continual source of humbling gratitude for me. They are simply amazing musicians, wonderful people, and truly contribute so much to the arrangements, sound, vibe, spirit, everything of the band. Accordionist Ari DeSano (whom I like to call Saint Squeezebox) is a radiating faucet of joy and holds the 5th slot of seniority in the gang. These folks are all on the new album, and I am in love with the instrumentation. Since the recording, our rhythm section has completely changed. Drummer David Hurlin moved back to Fairfield, Iowa and bassist Keith Lubow sallied forth to pursue other aspirations (he's a great photographer).

Henry Bermudez.

Our latest additions: bassist Laurie Es and drummer Kristy McInnis, are pretty much their own comedy team. It wasn't a conscious plan to get a female bassist and drummer, making the band now 6 WOMEN and ONE MAN. We like to say that Henry Bermudez is the only man "man enough" for the Evangenitals.

This EP, Mini album, album, call it what you like, what does it represent?

Part of the mission of this album was to truly capture what the Evangenitals actually sound like. So many people have said that our past albums are great, but the REAL Evangenitals experience is the LIVE experience. I think this is true... there's nothing like seeing us live, and you truly "get" the band, concept, mojo, magic, whatever-it-is about us when you do see us live... however, we really wanted to create an album that captured some of that feeling, the dynamics and range of our material, and was also radio-friendly. And awesome. A really high quality recording.... which is why we did the album with Tracy Chisholm at Del Boca Vista, because he is amazing.

So Sweet by The Evangenitals.

Lisa and I were really hands on with the recording and mixing process for this one, and we really worked on things until we got the feeling that we wanted. The whole band was amazing, supporting each other in the studio, chiming in on suggestions, and solutions would come from all directions. I remember that every single member of the band had their moment of providing the key suggestion for something that wasn't quite feeling right at some point during the process. It was a really great recording experience, and it's wonderful to work in an atmosphere so free of ego, where we are all committed to the overall sound, and the band as a whole. Tracy was great at not letting us settle for "close enough" and really following through until we got just the right feeling. I'm so happy with the final result!

The EP is a sort of glorified Demo for us; we went in intended to lay a bunch of songs down, and maybe 4 would come out good... but they ALL came out great. This EP is kinda like our calling card to the world. It's the first album that we're really trying to get out to radio & press, and so far the response has been incredible.


You recently took you’re The Evangenitals experience to the UK, how did those live shows go? Did the British crowd react similarly to your US fanbase?

The trip to the UK was simply amazing. A transformative, bold, inspirational journey, both for ourselves and for those who supported us in this wild idea. We agreed to go with absolutely no idea how on earth we would pull it off, and the simple fact that we did it was so spiritually edifying... it still blows my mind. The live shows in the UK were off the hook. The audiences were so responsive and enthusiastic, it truly blew our minds. And people actually tip! And dance! Very different from the standard LA audience.

Did any particular songs go down better than others?

Fuck 'em All seemed to be an international success, hitting a chord with every audience we played it for. They LOVED the hillbilly barn-burners like Bad Town, Gasoline, and Sergio. Everyone seems to love the Vagina Song. Even the slow grooves, like Quee Queg, had magical effects on crowds. And the klezmer-punk version of The Hole that we do live never fails to set a room on fire. We are eager to get back over there ASAP and do a proper tour of the whole area. Our shows in London (What's Cooking at the Sheep Walk), Glasgow (13th Note) and all over Edinburgh (Voodoo Room, Forest Cafe, Bongo Club) were all totally positive experiences, and every venue wants us back.

Beyond our music and the crowds, we also got to play with some truly incredible Scottish bands, such as Scunner and Steph MacCleod -- whose drummer, Simon Walker, we borrowed for all of our Scotland gigs! We so fell in love with Steph's music and Scunner, we'd love to tour the whole friggin' globe with those two! And Simon was an utter champ. He fit in so well with the group that I completely forgot he was new and would forget to tell him which song we were playing next. He is a great drummer, and a great guy. We miss him.

(Simon is playing with us in this video, from the Forest Cafe gig:

The drummer we played with in London, Daniel Hurst, was also incredible. We literally met him at sound check, rehearsed a few tunes, and he totally killed it at the show. You can see some video of that gig on Facebook:

Steph Macleod
Simon Walker

Whilst in the UK you also performed your play, Dawn of Quixote: Chapter The First, at the Edinburgh Festival. You have had quite a varied career already, but do you see this element of your writing separate to The Evangenitals or do you see all of your creative elements all playing a role in a bigger picture?

I'm standing by for the great convergence. I think it's on the horizon. In rehearsals we talk about the "Evangenitals Stage Show" which is the big-budget, stadium scale, circus/mega-church vision in my mind that someday I'm going to "direct" and it'll all come together in a blinding singularity of The Event... puppets, light shows, aerial rigging, the works... we really need to collaborate with Cirque de Soliel or something...

There are a lot of projects in the works that will blur the lines a bit more between the "theater" projects and the "band" stuff. We are getting closer to actually recording our Moby Dick album, which could very well end up having a stage show attached to it. I have also just begun talks with an amazing Cuban actress, Marissa Chibas, about creating a major collaborative theater piece that I would direct & the Evangenitals would do a full-on concept album for. We're also very involved with The 1 Second Film project, and will be recording a mini-album for that, and plotting another cross-country tour (the follow-up for our Road to Oprah tour) in 2011.

The 1 Second Film
Road to Oprah Tour

We don't really have a grand plan as a band, which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing... we are very open to all sorts of adventures, and just try to follow our hearts and interests. Everyone in the band is in other bands, and has other projects and interests, and that is something that we greatly encourage. I think it makes the group more interesting, and more creatively fulfilled. I've seen so many people get burned out and frustrated with a band (or any creative pursuit) when it is ALL that they are investing in/counting on, and it is not fulfilling ALL of their needs. Each person has to be self-supporting and take care of their own creative juice. Then when we come together, it's like a pot luck... everyone bringing their latest passions and discoveries, and we get to play and share. That's the ideal. Creating from the overflow and joy of BEING, not out of desperation, lack, or need.

Going back to the new album, you have a beautiful track on the album called Home, it really hints at a longing to be “somewhere else but here”, is that what you were trying to convey or is it more about the security of the home?

Home was written as a sort of joke, because I have moved so much in my lifetime that there wasn't really any place that I identified as "Home"... I was born in Alabama and have lived in Florida, Bermuda, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York, Guatemala, and Los Angeles. In the 12 years now that I've lived in Los Angeles, I've moved over 20 times within this giant city.

Home by The Evangenitals.

To give some context to the creation of that tune, here's some backstory:

Many of the oldest Evangenitals songs I wrote with an ex boyfriend (writer Gordon Torncello) many, many years ago with no intention of ever playing them in public. Gordon and I met in New York at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. At the time, he was a filmmaker and I was a theater director and we were taking guitar (him) and upright bass (me) lessons from the same guy -- amazing jazz musician John Brandt. We were both painfully shy people, and just wrote silly songs for our own amusement. We started "Home" while living in a old piercing parlor storefront in Los Feliz underneath a sex toy company that I was working at ( When we moved out to LA, we moved in with his family. He was from here, 6 generations of family here, childhood friends, toys, baby blankets, etc... and I didn't have anything. I felt like a total nomad, which I like. The song was written out of a longing to emulate that kind of feeling, combined with a joy for being such a wanderer. The cool part about the tune, for me, is that the feeling of HOME exists within the song itself. It's not a place, it's a feeling, and I can take that feeling anywhere. Every time I perform the song, I absolutely feel like I have that kind of Home, a place you've never left and never want to leave.

When the Evangenitals did The 1 Second Film's Road to Oprah tour a couple years ago, we playing "Home" in every single town we visited. Very soon, the new 1 Second Film site is going to be launching and director Nirvan Mullick is going to debut the epic Home VIDEO -- which features us playing home for everyone from his grandmother to Albert Maysles, and everywhere from the Grand Canyon to the Lincoln Monument to the High School where my mom teaches in Florida. It's a real heart warming. I'm so excited for it to go live!

Whats next in the world of Juli Crockett?

Good gracious... I'm not sure, but I'm really excited! Over the Christmas holidays I decided to take a break from the Johnny Cash tribute band I'd been "June Carter-ing" for over the past couple years (Cash'd Out). I was super grateful for the experience and opportunity to tour extensively with that band, however, I feel like I need to give my full attention to my own original creative projects at this time. The Evangenitals are ripe and I wanna give the band the time and focus that it needs! There's some amazing energy in the air and the little voice inside keeps whispering "the time is NOW!" so I have to heed the call.

I've got some major theater projects on the horizon as well: adapting the Gertrude Stein novel "Brewsie & Willie" for director Travis Preston & the Poor Dog Group in LA, and writing a piece on Nijinsky for director DJ Mendel and composer DBR at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York. With the launch of the new 1 Second Film site, I'm going to be much more involved with that project again (plotting tours and promotional events), and I'm also involved with an amazing non-profit called "Laughter for a Change" which teaches improv comedy to communities that could really use a good laugh. The Evangenitals are working the West Coast in the coming months, with mini-tours from San Fran to San Diego. It's a full life, and a dang good one! :-)

The Evangenitals have a huge online presence and your first port of call should be the official site.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Eastenders Music Connections

Eastenders eh, its musical fruits possibly outweigh any of the other soaps, yes Morrissey may have appeared on the Brookside spin off, South, yes Richard Fleishman may have appeared on and won Soapstar Superstar, but for musical high points and low points, cockernee soap, Eastenders is the master.

Morrissey glumming it up on South.

You knew from the off that their stall was set out when cafe working crusty Rod, rocked up wearing a Neds Atomic Dustbin t-shirt, somehow the likelihood of Ena Sharples sporting a They Might Be Giants hoodie was nil. Rod incidentally was played by Christopher McHallem, who was in the post punk band The Transmitters, notable for Tim Whelan and Hamilton Lee, who formed Furniture and later, Transglobal Underground.

In those Rod years the cast had valiant attempts at pop stardom with Nick Berry anthem for the underdog, Every Loser Wins, the female Brian May, Anita Dobson warbling some made up words to the theme tune in Anyone Can Fall In Love, the ending notes weren’t dum-dum-du-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-dum!!!

Every Loser Wins by Nick Berry

From that early period we managed to believe that Kelvin and Sharon and Ian Beale could actually be popstars in The Banned, well Britain it seemed believed them and Something Out Of Nothing was rather incredulously, a hit.

Something Outta Nothing by Letitia Dean and Paul Medford

The Fowlers have a deep vein of musicality running through their permanently frown ridden lives, Pauline, matriarch and chief misery was the vocalist on the 1960’s number one with Mike Sarne, Come Outside, she ended up on the cutting room floor when she appeared in a Beatles film though. Arthur Fowler and his embezzling ways merely attracted the attention of north eastern chancers who took it upon them to name themselves Freearfa, you see what they did there.

Come Outside by Mike Sarne and Wendy Richard

Pete Beale, cheeky chappie that ran the fruit and veg stall he had a stab at the charts, 1986, and he releases dreadful football record “Can’t get a ticket (for the world cup), he also appeared as a bouncer in the shit film , The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, two crimes that are ultimately forgiveable.
Move forward a few years and Corrie have Quo gracing their cobbles, and a young Davey Jones of the Monkees may have pressed the flesh in Weatherfield in the 60’s, but Eastenders bought a bona fide popstar to the square in Martin Kemp in the 90’s, Steve Owen was a club owner and the only man for the job would be ex Spandau Ballet man and carpet and furniture salesman Martin Kemp. He didn’t sing much, but he was a dab hand with an ornamental ashtray.

Martin Kemp

Lets talk briefly about cameo appearances, Robbie Williams, now that is brief, Robbie Williams graced our screens for 2 seconds on a phone many years ago, he may have uttered “was gahin on”?
Manchester based indie band Pullover once tried to put across just how hacked off they were by telling us that they felt “as miserable as shell off eastenders”. Eastender is rather depressing, but the sunshine was bought into proceedings momentarily by the release of The Eastenders Singalong album, a musical highlight of 1985, and guaranteed to have a right old lahndan knees up.
As we come up to more modern times, feisty blonde vixens Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell have both had their brushes with music, in young Roxy, AKA, Samantha Janus AKA Samantha Womack, she was our 1991 Eurovision entry with a message to your heart, it got 47 points, not bad really.
As for Roxy, my favourite of them Mitchell girls, her uncle is Alan Sugar by the way, but Roxy, well Rita Simons, she was in a girlband, Girls@Play, who amongst other delights covered Mel and Kim’s Respectable.

Airhead by Girls@Play

Finally we have Preeya Kalidas, she who plays Amira, although not charty and all that, she was in the dreadful Lloyd Webber musical, Bombay Dreams and performed on its most famous track Shakalaka Baby, you know that?

Thats Eastenders then, currently celebrating its 25th year of depressing the nation. I prefer Corrie.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Unthank You Very Much

It seems that Peter, my prolific co-blogger has gone awol, or possibly doo-lally, or maybe even down the garden with the pixies (in the spare bedroom with the Pixies 1st album is probably more likely). The last time he went this quiet was when he got a 3 week job on an oilrig filling up the vending machines. It could well be that as we speak he is being hoisted somewhere above the freezing north sea, clutching a box of kit-kats.

I'm on the path to knowledge today, with a new word - 'Unthank'. Imagine a friend gives you a gift, lets say a plant. You thank your friend for said plant. Three days later the plant has attracted a swarm of deadly insects that have invaded your home and killed the cat. You might wish to 'unthank' your friend for the plant.

Before becoming The Unthanks, and I have no idea how grateful they are when receiving gifts (they did win Folk album of the year once and were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2008) this outfit were known as Rachel Unthank and The Winterset. It rather put me off that when I looked 'em up on 'net there were Paul Morley quotes everywhere on them (him of 'a right dick' fame), but I persevered and found them to be everything that Morley appears not to be - talented, understated, engaging, enigmatic, and so on.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Tres Hombres & a Ford Fiesta in a Snow Bank

I fear for my co-blogger's health. It's been over a week since we heard from him and I have mental images of a Ford Fiesta being stuck in a hard-to-spot-from-the-road snow bank, somewhere in the west midlands. Peter, having been stuck in his car for days, wrapped in pages of the Birmingham A-Z for warmth (Villa ground marked in yellow highlighter and the Bull Ring fashioned into a hat) has eaten his way through part of his leather steering wheel cover and has been tapping out John Bonham rhythms on the glass in an effort to attract attention. Let's hope Peter is home soon.

Have you seen that sitcom Two and a Half Men? Just the other day daft loser brother Alan said ".........VH1, or whatever the kids are watching these days......" and I thought 'I really should have a look at VH1, it is probably aimed at 40 something couch spuds like me. And, it did come to pass that I did look at it, and it was rubbish. The only thing I could just about stomach was 15 minutes of ZZ Top on a show called Storytellers. I guess to most people ZZ Top are ZZ Who? these days, although they first started touring in 1970, and have had the same line-up since day one. Their massive success in the early 80's came with their 8th or 9th album, which you wouldn't see these days. When you look at this clip from 1980 it's hard to believe they went on to be such stars of the MTV generation, or whatever the kids were watching in those days .........