I’ve been waiting for Newcastle’s Let’s Buy Happiness to release their debut LP for about two years now.
However, I think us fans have done our time now and so do the band, if the online debut of the album’s first single is anything to go by.
Here it is – Run.
I’ve heard this live a few times and it’s always gorgeous, but they’ve clearly made the most of being in a studio. Give it a play and feel those sublime waves of guitar ambience and vocals wash over you… and, when you think it couldn’t get any better, four minutes in a divine build in the music, with extra crunch from the guitar takes things even further.
Having had a slight makeover since I first heard the track (it used to be a tad faster with less of the ambience heard on this recording), it’s a lovely example of how strong the band’s original material is (as well as great new tracks Dumb Girls and Crooks), plus a welcome return to the tantalisingly slow, drawn out, spectral sounds of Six Wolves’ B-side Wood Rings and classic track Devil Show.
It’s out now and it’s only 79 pence. Find out more here.
I may no longer be working for Amazing Radio, but I want to continue to support new and emerging artists, and I thought that producing and presenting my own podcast would be a good way of doing it.
I’m intending to produce a 30-40 minute episode every 2-4 weeks (depending on the response to the pilot episode). The idea of the podcast is that it will feature a mixture of acts that I have seen live (or am planning to) and will centre around a featured artist who will guest on the show by way of an interview.
The first episode features Wylam five-piece Vinyl Jacket who are currently promoting debut single Painting Stations. The single, which has been released by new Newcastle-based label The Calico Print, has found a home on many a radio station, including BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music and Amazing Radio, and should see the boys recruiting a strong fan base. The guys make fantastic interviewees, and I really couldn’t think of a band I’d rather have helping me out on my first episode.
The real challenge I’m currently struggling with is the editing process. This isn’t because I’m inexperienced in using sound editing software, but because I don’t have a professional program intended for the task on my computer. (I miss Adobe Audition greatly!) Currently I’m editing interviews and preparing song extras (with fades/transitions) in Audacity, loading into iTunes and multi-tracking it all together in Garage Band. For the links themselves I’m recording with a Zoom H2 microphone straight into Garage Band. When I was editing the pilot I kept having to rerecord ins and outs because, unbeknownst to me, the clips kept cropping. Once I’m safely back in employment I’ll save up and invest in a copy of Logic Express, and then I can think more about audio imaging and the concept of the podcast itself.
If you have any comments, questions or would like to be featured on the next Get Frank podcast then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the podcast and how to subscribe here.
I’m still wondering how we should release it so it’s currently set to stream online. If you have 79p spare and would like to help reimburse recording costs then you can grab Vacant from our amazingtunes.com profile page.
My friend and very talented illustrator/graphic designer/musician/legend Brendan Kearney has kindly offered to help us out with the artwork for the EP. You can see his artwork for his band Broken Boat over on their myspace. It’s all rather lovely! Hopefully I’ll pop some stuff on here soon – the stuff he’s done so far looks amazing. The illustration below is quite similar to what he’s working on.
If you think you’d like a CD copy then please let me know – I think it would be quite nice to create some hard copies. Maybe we’ll do one of those ‘official EP launch’ things… Our first gig is Thursday 25th November so please do come check us out in the flesh. I’m hoping we’ll get offered some support slots – if you’d like to book us then just email me; email@example.com.
I’ve always dreamed of finding that ‘perfect Little Black Dress’
I thought I found it for a mere £9.99 in H&M today but when I got to the dressing room it just didn’t fit right.
I had places to be so had to leave the strapless, shiny black pleated bargain behind with the shop assistants. Feeling down I moved to leave the shop but stopped in my tracks near the exit… By Jupiter! I had found it!
It was wrinkly, not in my size and made of fake leather! I had to buy a size up but it means it will be perfect for casual winter layering (for the Amazing Radio office) whilst not being a too tight and ‘fetish’ looking. Once off the hanger and on my body the wrinkles disappeared and gave an almost smooth look.
It’s the perfect day-to-night dress too. Here I toughen it up a little with my Peacocks grey hiking boots.
I quite like it with my red heels too; there’s plenty a pair of shoes that would work with this dress which is why I adore it so.
The flash of my camera has made the underskirt of this dress look a lot shinier than it actually is. It reminds me of a Peacocks dress I saw in a magazine (but it’s a lot nicer in the lace detailing department and £8 cheaper.) I have to wear it with a belt because the empire line design into the full skirt is so unflattering I was tempted to take it back. The swift addition of the belt made me have a sudden change of heart.
I think that the leather look dress might be better for The Union Choir gig, and the crochet dress for my first Get Frank gig on the 25th November – but again, I’m not sure.
This weekend was spent in the studio at the University of Newcastle with the rest of the Get Frank guys recording our debut EP Awake, Not Drifiting.
I realised after looking at the track listing that three out of the four tracks are connected to the theme of ‘bed’ so it seemed apt to name the EP after the line ‘When I’m awake/Not Drifting’ from one of our quirkier numbers, Next Door.
Here’s a short ‘behind the scenes’ video of us in the studio. It was shot on my Kodak Zi8 and my new Casio Exilim camera (final shot only). You can occasionally hear my voice, but I’m the one behind the camera.
We recorded the EP live with me singing guide vocals behind the screen in the control room. I then rerecorded the vocals the next day. The trickiest track was Next Door as it features a variety of tempo changes – unlike the rest of the band however, most of the vocals used in the final mix were done in one take (which can’t be said for the other tracks!) We only used a click track to record ‘1 minute 20 second wonder’ It’s Not You.
We haven’t got an order yet but the EP will feature.
1. It’s Not You
3. Next Door
I think one of the biggest surprises about working with the new lineup is that Vacant (formerly known as Untitled), which was the first song I wrote as ‘Get Frank’ back in Summer 2008, has become a firm favourite to play with the band. Having a real piano (and an expert musician in Neil Andrew Smith on keys) makes a real difference to the sound. Neil and Todd Green (guitar) both have solos at the end of the track and they both sound gorgeous.
There have been multiple incarnations and lineup changes of Get Frank (I still feel that core member James Chester from the last couple of Birmingham lineups is present in the form of his friend, bassist David Mabbot), and it’s quite surprising that our current group has only been together for about six weeks.
I always feel slightly overwhelmed when I hear what other people bring to my songs. I love that feeling of realisation – when you hear the track as you imagined it, with extra flourishes (such as David Mabbot’s ‘sensual bass-line’ in Next Door that felt like the natural progression from the ‘orgasma-bass’ of former player Richie B Brookes in Brum). Our last Brummie lineup felt quite ska in nature, whereas in Newcastle we’re heading towards a more organic, acoustic jazz feel. The unmixed recordings sound chaotic, but very much alive – hopefully our producer Rob Blazey will have an idea of what to do with them!
It was always a dream to record – I don’t think it’s set in that we’ve done it yet!
Hello darlings, Frankie Ward here having a relaxing night in!
Although do bare in mind that relaxing for me tends to mean writing for you! (Aren’t you the lucky ones?)
Ahem! Forgive my seemingly arrogant words – I’m just in a jolly mood. My laugh has got a lot louder recently (I think it must be my new beanbag!)
So you’re reading this because of the gig I went to yesterday? Or because you’d like a sneaky peek at me attempting to take pictures of myself?
If you’re looking for the former, then you’re in luck! Last night I popped down to the Cluny 2 to see American happy rockers Fang Island play alongside local acts Holy Mammoth and Cult Image.
I’d seen Cult Image play a mere matter of days before this gig so I knew to expect Joy Division-esque post punk songs of insightful words and intricate guitar melodies. Once again, I was not disappointed. The band were reliably on form, with the venue providing better acoustics for singer Sean’s voice over Newcastle’s Discovery Museum (the site of their last live appearance.) I especially like Sean’s voice. It’s deep and edgy, but doesn’t lack warmth (despite the dark stylings of his songs.)
At Generator‘s NEw Wave Transmission event one panelist remarked that the band needed to write their own ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Now I could imagine that the band would work with some keys (adding some brighter tones to the guitar/bass/drums/lone vocals mix) but surely that would be too derivative of the band’s clear influences. It might be controversial to say, but maybe the restrained occasional backing vocals and even a melodica part might make things really stand out… (I say melodica because Gorillaz used it to such effect on Clint Eastwood, and I wonder if it’s potential for creepy tones could work for the band’s music.)
At the same time, I don’t really want you to change Cult Image, because I really like you!
Before the gig kicked off I chatted to some of the guys from second act Holy Mammoth. They briefly mentioned concern about how their soundcheck went, but any issues were clearly resolved by the time the band took to the stage. Holy Mammoth are one of those bands who grow with every performance. There’s a sense of unity between band members that can be rare on the live circuit and it makes for compelling viewing.
And that’s before you get to the songs!
One of the things I really appreciated about last night’s gig was that for once, singer Andy’s vocals were clearly distinguishable above the well mixed instruments. Perhaps it’s because I know and appreciate the songs, but I can now seemingly nod every kick drum inflection, wiggle my fingers along to the guitar hooks and nod my head to the driving bass lines of set favourites such as Suggester and Weathered.
The band had to cut things off a disappointingly two songs early (I estimate) due to technical issues with a guitar, but it was a sterling performance all the same. If it weren’t for the burgeoning desire to see Brooklyn’s Fang Island, I could happily have watched the Mammoth boys for a lot longer.
Fang Island hit the stage complete with flamboyant outfits (colourful, oversized hoodies), cleverly coordinated, contrapuntal guitar melodies and an absolute lust for life on the stage. Infectious, joyful and spontaneous, the five piece were an absolute,(exhausting), delight to watch. They don’t call them ‘explosive happiness’ without reason!
On Saturday I finally felt brave enough to wear the trousers displayed in this previous post.
It was a trip to see the wonderful Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. I figured that most people would be watching the film rather than noticing me, thus meaning I could go about my high waisted business without a red face.
All of the items in the above photo are from past seasons – in fact aside from the trousers, the other items are over a year old. (Although the bag is of an unknown age, as I got it second hand a few weeks ago.)
Please forgive my messy room by the way! When this room was taken my wardrobe still lacked a rail, and currently I lack a lightshade so the low attic ceiling doesn’t spread light too easily. I also need a real camera and tripod!
My next dilemma is to decide what to wear to Saturday’s Transmission gigs.
Vinyl Jacket are practically ‘friends’ of the show I produce for Amazing Radio, but I’ve never actually seen them on stage or met them in person so I’m going to get a bit nervous about saying ‘hi!’ They’ve got some intricate, indie pop gems in their set so I expect to be pleased!
I’m not sure if Ajimal will be a solo set from Fran, the keyboard player, or a gig with all three Ajimal members. I booked Fran to play a solo set for Amazing Radio but when he brought his two fellow band members with him I got a bit of a shock! The other members Ivan and Stefan are lovely – Ivan brings an electro influence and crazy hair, whilst Stefan brings a classic ‘folk’ voice and a fiddle. I’m hoping they’ve got a full set together as I think Fran’s wants the Ajimal audience to recognise that the music he’s currently playing is destined for group performance. At the moment it’s easy to think otherwise due to the intimate solo performances a handful of us have been honoured to witness (Fran on his own is something to behold.)
The following video is from the day I recorded the Amazing Radio session with Ajimal. If you don’t want to hear me gabbling with the guys, skip about 6 minutes in to hear a fabulous stripped back performance of their song When We Were Children. It’s very special indeed.
I absolutely ADORE Brilliant Mind. They’re punchy, witty and never fail to pop a smile on my face. I’ve briefly written about them before and really should devote a whole blog to their pop future. (Maybe I should call it The future’s bright… the future’s Brilliant???)
I’ve seen Waiting for Winter once before at the Cluny 2 and found them really interesting so I’m looking forward to seeing them in what has been described to me as an ‘intimate environment.’ I’ve heard that they’re also mad busy with recording over the weekend so this gig will probably feel like a studio break for them.
I’ve not seen The Union Choir before (to my knowledge anyway) and I’ve not heard much of Nadine Shah but I’m interested in both, particularly the latter as I’ve not seen many female fronted acts thus far in Newcastle. The few that do come to mind include the prolific Let’s Buy Happiness, Brilliant Mind Keyboardist Kate Edward’s project Agerskow and also rock outfit Retriever.
Hopefully I’ll be amongst them in the not too distant future…
So, onto the hard part! What to wear…?
Now I could go home between gigs for some food and a change, but I don’t want to appear high maintenance. However, on the other hand I am intending to publish this and people will now be aware that I am thinking about outfits! (I’m lacking things to do everyone, honest!)
Here’s what I was thinking for the second, evening gig.
(Notice that the clothes are gone due to drawers/wardrobe being fixed… hurrah!)
The Zara dress is a little too big but it was such an interesting lace that I couldn’t resist. (Plus it was on sale, of course!) Lace is still ‘in’ this season, so I shouldn’t risk looking ‘dated’. Although aviator jackets are the ‘must have’ jacket of the season, a little bit of leather always goes a long way (or in my case, pleather.)
I gather that I might not be able to get away with this during the daytime, but I haven’t thought about what I could wear during the day. I know that people will be reading this (particularly those who’ve stumbled upon this on Facebook rather than the original post) will be wondering why I’m fussed, but I think it’s because I want to feel different to how I do at work. At work pretty much anything goes, so I want to separate myself physically from ‘work mode.’ I also want to feel nice!
So, time will tell if I brave the outfit on Saturday night, but if you’re at the gig and see me be sure to say ‘hi!’
I revealed my new obsession in this previous post about the (usually) handwritten signs I’ve been noticing in convenience shop windows.
Some may call it irony, that an obsession with the price of milk has brought a new personal obsession; following people’s obsession with the price of milk!
I gather that displaying the price of milk in a window sends out the message ‘we’re good value here!’ and also depicts that the shop deals in the traditional essentials of milk, bread and (most likely) tomato ketchup.
So the prices? Well make that price; 79 pence. All but one of the signs I’ve seen so far have been displaying that 2 pints will leave you with 21 pennies if you pay with a pound.
Here’s ‘volume one’ of my milk related gallery!
In Birmingham, it was always alcohol in the shop window! Kent tended to be about local produce – what’s in the windows near you?