into the blue again. the album leaf.The Album Leaf

The Album Leaf’s new album came out today. There was only one copy in the HMV near work and they seem to get no press. The Album Leaf is James LaValle, it’s a nice project, he has a set of regular musicians who drift in and out and some who tour with him. Their music is perfect light mood, Sunday morning, awakening and chilling music. The most beautiful timbres slide in and out of the music, evoking pastoral visions. I like LaValle, his music sounds like it’s been poured over and every detail is gently tweaked to produce his sound. I think it sounds organic, yet many of the songs feature synthesised beats. He says that he has fears about more vocals on this album. He has an unusual voice, that’s for sure, but it does mix beautifully on some tracks, sounding hushed and innocent.
After listening, and admittedly this is only twice through at the mo, it’s good, but it doesn’t quite top In a Safe Place, their previous. This record is great. Buy it.


Below: Short, making of Into the Blue Again.

treggie.jpgRightiho, I’ve got this obsession with Reggie Perrin at the moment. Not only is it brilliant, but my sister has it all on DVD! The series carries huge nostalgia value for me too. I remember watching repeats on Sundays with my sister and parents at home, eating some toast and jam just after Catchphrase had been on.

This section of the Leonard Rossiter site ( perrin) carries a wealth of information, video clips, quotes and pictures from the three series of ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’. The character, created by David Nobbs, not only fronts a great ensemble comedy, but it is also a powerful critique of modern living and life. All its issues are all pretty much applicable today, especially the constant late running of the trains.

Yes, it is catchphrase/farce comedy (but then so was Father Ted…) and yes, this site doesn’t have the greatest design, but much like Reggie, sometimes it’s all about intention rather than success. After all, ‘I didn’t get where I am today without recognizing a great comedy when I see one…

eyes.jpgHaven’t updated this in ages. Poor effort really, this was meant to run as a test, see whether I had enough to say about life to justify this. I suppose the conclusion may be obvious, but I’ll try. I’d like to anyway. Tomorrow we will talk about Mansun. We will talk about Paul Draper and Dominic Chad and Andie and Stove. This band were everything you could get by luck, talent, jam and art. Tomorrow I’ll try.


gotta get myself into it.

September 5, 2006

the rapture; hmv oxford street; 04.09.2006;
get myself into it/sister saviour/house of jealous lovers/w.a.y.u.h./the sound.

Last night, at around 5pm, people gathered in the sweltering heat inside HMV, Oxford Street, London. Standing bored, between isles and isles of media products, they picked up random CDs, looked at the covers and discarded them back to the racks.
therapture_03interior2006.jpgOver an hour later, four skinny guys who looked like they’d just walked off the street walked through the ‘STAFF: NO ENTRY’ doors and came out to applause.  Luke Jenner (vox/guitar), Vito Roccoforte (drummer), Matt Safer (vox/bass), Gabriel Andruzzi (sax/percussion/keys); big hair or floppy fringes, tight Tees and skinny jeans all around. They could be Topman models. But one thing stood out – you could see the cowbell and saxophone waiting, just itching to be played. This was to be a dance show, just as much as a rock show.
The Rapture’s first album, Echoes, came out in 2003. Before it came Out of the Tracks and Onto The Races EP (2001) and Mirror (1999), an 8-track LP.
Echoes was critically acclaimed, especially for its breakthrough single, House of Jealous Lovers, which became an anthem for indie discos worldwide. This became known as their sound; thumping bass, shouted wailing vocals, percussive dance rhythms, raw guitar and of course, the cow-bell.
Their new album, Pieces of the People We Love (mid-September), shows that they’ve finessed their sound. New single, Get Myself Into It (Sept 4), reminds me of Connected by Stereo MCs. A great sax line is the root of the groove and it’s all about having to ease yourself in to a night out or a holiday. Everyone knows the feeling, if you don’t get involved, you know you’ll have a shit time.
For the album, one of the producers they’ve teamed up with is DangerMouse, who’s getting quite a reputation as ‘the’ producer of the moment. What you notice immediately (in the new songs I’ve downloaded), seem more layered than before. With Echoes, many of the slower, emotional, intensive songs relied on the fragility of Jenner’s voice (e.g. Open Up Your Heart, Infatuation). The slower songs on this album can be characterised by a fuller sound, for example, Live in Sunshine. Another thing too, the drumming is exceptional in every song, leading the group as always.
The Rapture - Pieces of the People We LoveThing is, this is predominantly a dance band and as such they’re made for dancing. New songs, The Sound, W.A.Y.U.H. (Whoa, All right, Yeah, Uh Huh) are real pumping tunes, The Sound being the heaviest cut of those I’ve heard. Other songs I’ve heard, The Devil, Calling Me, Don Gon Do It and Pieces of the People We Love are less dancefloor. Don Gon Do It deserves extra attention as an excellent album opener, hynotising the listener as a slow-grow, easing into the rhythm of the album.
The Sound, W.A.Y.U.H., The Devil are great songs. The first two especially should be thumping the walls at a club very soon if there’s any justice. They are pounding songs, building to climaxes and you can’t help but start to move. Hopefully, you’ll feel your hips start to wobble and will give in to the rhythm, again, if there’s any justice.
So as they took to the stage last night, you had to feel for them. As they came out, Jenner immediately proclaimed that he wanted this gig to be better than when Madonna played the HMV, although he soon added that they’d never top Yes, who’d also had the privilege of taking the minute stage.
It was always going to be hard to get people moving in an artificially-lit, limited-floor-space record store. But they tried their best. It seemed most people were there to ‘check’ them out and weren’t already converted fans, which also didn’t help.
After one song, Jenner had realised. He tried some audience participation (to muted responses) for Sister Saviour, and then asked everyone to help out:
“Come on, imagine you’re in a dark club, middle of the night, E’d off your tits or something.”
Still, despite the fact that people weren’t ready to shed their ‘cool’ in HMV at 6pm, a few people (myself included) did start to dance and gradually it livened up. Problem was, they were only playing for five songs and by the time everyone was into it, it’d already passed.
The highlight of the set was the two new songs at the end. The Sound, played last, was almost a way for the band to show their aggression at the bad management and booking of this gig as Jenner played a ridiculously high, hurt-your-ears-it’s-so-loud guitar line throughout. Thrashing with each bar, the beat led until the end climax of thrashing and smashing.
Even better was the new W.A.Y.U.H., which is a cousin, if not a sibling of House of Jealous Lovers. More on this below, although it does feature a wonderfully gratuitous, throwaway lyric, sung by Safer: “She said you’re allegory is far too blunt/I said this ain’t no labratory, you’re a cunt…”
As the band left the stage, Jenner was grabbed by screaming 12-year-olds who were crying with joy at hugging the object of their affection and then they stayed to sign records. For all the good will, you couldn’t help feeling that you’d be a pissed off in their situation. They were genial and friendly and smiling afterwards, but all I could think was what it could have been, even if just the lights were turned down. When some people can’t be seen, maybe they might shed some of that cool, get off their asses and start dancing.

Maybe we could all learn a lesson from the Rapture. Lighten up, move your hips, stop trying to look cool and dance your ass off. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel. It reminds me of the end refrain from one of their new songs, “W.A.Y.U.H.”, which urges us to dance, dance, dance:
“People don’t dance no more,
They just stand around like this,
They cross their arms and stare you down
and drink and moan and piss…”

No-one really got the irony of this being sung out to the fans. Except the band of course. They knew it when they wrote the lyrics. It just takes us a while for everyone else to catch up.



Get Myself Into It (video):