iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
"We come from the lowlands / Dream of high ground."

On first impressions From the Lowlands ('Being the second part of The Alphabet of Hurricanes') feels like a perplexingly spare, small record. An EP with ideas above its station. Certainly not the same kind of diverse, confident affair as its predecessor.

It's not long before those first impressions are confounded. Ruthlessly stripped-back tracks such as the opener, 'Lately's All I Know', worm their way into your brain with melodic hooks that belie the starkness of the production (or indeed its subject of bereavement). The cover of 'Sloop John B' counterpoints a melancholy take with rich harmonies, the beautiful title track blooms into a choir of voices, and when 'The Alphabet of Hurricanes' finally makes itself known as a song rather than an album, it's as an epic 8 minute affair heralded by lush string arrangements. Lyrically it's also one of the strongest compositions on a collection of sincere songwriting that's almost painfully confessional, even for Tom McCrae. Two tracks, the perky 'Fuck you, Prometheus' and the maudlin 'All That's Gone', confront failure to achieve success: "time has worn a hole in me /the place I keep my dreams". Another two tracks, the opener and the lovely 'Ship of Blue and Green' contemplate death and loss. And yet the overwhelming impression is not of gloom but of melancholy beauty.

It's not the most commercial of offerings; as an introduction to Tom's music it's unlikely to convert the unfaithful. The closest thing to a single here is 'Belly of a Whale' which is very agreeable but never quite soars, or the sprawling closer. The actual single, or at least the one with the online video, is the low key 'Nothing on the Dry Land', my nomination for the least remarkable song on the album.

Ultimately this album has an intimacy that means it never quite escapes the feeling of a maxi-sized EP, but with a full-band album already recorded for release next year maybe that's exactly what this wants to be. It's certainly a more addictive experience than it may first appear.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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On Friday we went to the beautiful and impressive Sage in Gateshead (i.e. South Newcastle but don't let them hear you say that) to see Tom McRae supported by Brian Wright. It's by far the nicest venue we've ever been to, all glass and aluminium and polished wood and airy spaces. Maybe we've been going to the wrong gigs.

Steven Moffatt describes Doctor who star Matt Smith as an "elegant shambles". That pretty much describes this gig. Almost from the word go the bassist had problems with his amp, and Tom was forced to extemporise with a version of I Ain’t Scared Of Lightning (read from his own tea towel merchandise) while Things were done, none of which appeared to make much noticeable difference. Then it turns out cellist Oli Kraus had been urgently recalled to the US where his wife was having a baby, resulting in a large cardboard standee of Captain Jack Sparrow acting as hilarious stand-in for the whole gig (ably supported by the stylings of Brian Wright on his slide guitar). And just generally there was a spirit of fun, constant messing about: trying to get the drummer to crack up when the entire band was singing close harmonies; Brian whistling cheerfully during Still Love You; seguing from Still Love You into a version of Rihanna's "Umbrella" ("Tombrella"). Tom was in a chatty mood and it was a hugely enjoyable, relaxed occasion, and the bad were so tight and well-rehearsed they rose above every disruption.

I'm terrible at remembering the order of a setlist, but the songs were:

Mermaid Blues
Me and Stetson
I Ain’t Scared Of Lightning
Walking 2 Hawaii
Dose Me Up (End Of The World News)
Summer Of John Wayne
Streetlight
Please (up tempo version)
Still Love You (plus 'Tombrella')
Karaoke Soul
Silent Boulevard

(encore)
Draw Down the Stars (The Girl Who Falls Downstairs)
Bloodless
Boy With The Bubblegun

Given that we saw the opening gig of the Alphabet of Hurricanes tour, it's both remarkable and pleasing how much variation there was between the two shows. I got to hear a number of personal favourites, including Mermaid Blues, Walking 2 Hawaii, Bloodless, Karaoke Soul and Summer of John Wayne. There was also a lot of variety. Mermaid Blues was a stunning 'cold open'; pure A Capella, just Tom's soaring voice in a silent room for the entire song. Really great. Streetlight used the whole band in close harmony for the chorus. Draw Down the Stars was sung solo but with looped backing harmonies and lyrics from The Girl Who Falls Down Stairs near the end. Bloodless was sung entirely acoustic and off-mike, resulting in the audience spontaneously singing along to almost the entire song (something I don't normally like as the crowd invariably expect the album version note for note, but which really worked here).

Brian Wright provided some superb and at times frenetic guitaring, and sweet backing vocals. He opened the gig with a solo acousitc selection of some of his own fine songs, including one of my favourites, Radar, plus Former Queen of Spain, Striking Matches, and War on Wilcox and a newer song I liked but can't name.

If I've a complaint about the evening, it's that the room could have taken many more people, and those missing people really missed out on some good music. But the sound system was perfect, the view was perfect, and the audience were appreciative. A great experience, warm and inclusive, in a stunning venue.

I also picked up 'The Streetlight Collection' containing 18 of Tom's b-sides & rarities, only about seven of which I'd heard previously. 'Out of This' is outstanding and should definitely have found its way onto an album.

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We went to see what turned out to be the inaugural date of Tom McRae's Alphabet of Hurricanes tour last night, in the reasonably tiny upstairs room of the O2 Academy2, Newcastle. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, although the fact that the doors opened half an hour late did result in moderate hypothermia. Sadly no-one has yet invented Warm Mulled Guinness1 so I was forced to warm myself on regular Guinness. You can't beat the taste of beer out of plastic2.

Brian Wright provided a really fine support act with a stripped down one-man-and-guitar (and-beard) performance. It's also possible he was stoned. Although I'm allergic to country I can generally suppress my immune reaction if it's blended with healthy doses of blues, rock and folk, and it helps that he's a deceptively intelligent writer. Of the new material I think Queen Junk (or whatever it's called) is borderline genius. Great to hear Radar too.

Wright also provided guitar, harmonica, backing vocals and the occasional banjo for Tom's six-piece band, the largest group he's ever toured with and one that kicked out a lot of good noise. Tom played for about an hour and a half and delivered some powerful singing and his usual self-deprecating banter between the tracks. As near as I can remember it the setlist (in approximate order) was:

an alphabet of hurricanes can't blow this drifter homeAlphabet of Hurricanes
Me & Stetson
Summer of John Wayne
End of the World News
A&B Song
Please
Walking2Hawaii
American Spirit
One Mississippi
Still Love You
Silent Boulevard

(encore)
My Vampire Heart
Draw Down the Stars
Boy with the Bubblegun

I can't begin to imagine why Alphabet of Hurricanes is not on the album which bears its name. It's a lovely song and if it's worthy of starting the new tour it's surely worth a place on the record. I was surprised that the new material didn't dominate more, although the choices were undeniably the right ones. Summer of John Wayne is one of my favourites from the new album and Please was the superior downtempo version from the Recorded at Gunpoint EP, while Still Love You's spare charm was boosted by a bigger finish and plenty of audience participation, plus a valiant attempt to get the venue's mirrorball working.

The benefit of the bigger band was really felt on the pacier tracks. Me & Stetson really rocked with a six-piece band behind it, as did End of the World News, A&B Song, Silent Boulevard and Boy With the Bubblegun. Brian Wright knows his way around an electric guitar. The sound was comparable to the Tom McRae Live album with a couple of notches more oomph and the benefit of an actual drummer.

The other tracks were a mix of familiar standbys but nonetheless I was very glad to hear One Mississippi, Walking2Hawaii and My Vampire Heart. Draw Down the Stars was an absolutely beautiful interpretation with some great harmonies.

We had a really fun night. Janet picked up a couple of t-shirts (the McRae one bearing a quote from that title track that's not on the album3), and I picked up Brian Wright's new one House on Fire which is setting off my country allergies but has some interesting material when I can stop sneezing.

As for the album, I had the benefit of Amazon's snafu when they briefly released it on 1st Feb so I've lived with it a while. I really like it. Economical, bleak and uplifting it's a throwback to McRae's debut sound but also absorbs some americana to surprising effect. One moment he's croaking along to plucked strings, the next delivering a soaring ballad, then singing the blues by way of The White Stripes. It feels like a moonlit walk after the expansive highway of King of Cards. Although it slowly reveals itself to be less sombre than it first appears, it's as uncommercial as anything he's ever done. It's good, but it's tough to see this being his breakout success.
--
1 And by 'sadly' I mean 'mercifully'.

2 And by 'can't beat' I mean 'should never willingly experience'.

3 Okay, I'll let it go.

Oh bugger

Sep. 10th, 2009 06:06 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Bugger. We don't have a good history of having Tom McRae gigs cancelled on us. This was just posted by Tom McRae on his forum (abridged version below):

"I’m very sorry to have to tell you all that the release of the new album and subsequent tour has been delayed until next year.

Due to circumstances I couldn't really control - and a last minute record deal being offered, which I desperately needed but wasn't expecting, I have been asked to reschedule the tour to early next year.
...
As you are all aware the industry is in turmoil right now, and while I was preparing to throw yet another record out there unassisted, only for it to vanish instantly like the last 3 - it looks now as if a label wants to champion it after all.

This is obviously still a gamble, and who knows if it will ultimately change anything, but I owe it to the songs (which I hope you’ll think are some of the best I’ve written – when you get a bloody chance to hear them) and I think I owe it to many of you, who have been urging me on with your support for many years.
...
If you can bear with me just a little longer, I’ll have more news, and some hard facts about the new dates. I think we’re looking at February now, which gives the label a chance to promote the record before and during the tour. There’s even talk of a single going to radio – so it seems I’ll have to adjust to working with crazy optimists for a while. But none of this gets you closer to hearing the new songs or seeing them performed by the amazing band I had put together. For that I apologise again.

I’m also going to look into ways which I can begin to make this up to you somehow in the short term, maybe I can do the odd solo show here and there, or ask to let you hear a song or two from the album – I’ll let you know how I get on.
...
Tom"
Fantastic news about the record contract, obviously, and wish him every success. Ah well. We'll get to see the gig (and hear the new album) eventually. Fingers crossed!

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Woo hoo! Have tickets to see the Mope King himself (sorry Dan) Tom McRae in the autumn, and it turns out that his support act will be the inestimable Brian Wright. Two great acts for the price of one.

I first saw Brian Wright doing a guest song at a Hotel Cafe tour, then later supporting Mr Mcrae, and then as a full member of the Hotel Cafe. I think he's a deceptively rich songwriter who often transcends the various country/honky tonk genres he writes in. There are some good examples of his range of stuff on his myspace page (with his band The Waco Tragedies), from the foot-stomping Glory Hallelujah to the freewheeling Morning Cigarette and the wistful Neighborhood. The only one I'm not keen on is the None More Country Bluebird.

Round up

Jan. 25th, 2009 09:58 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Not had time to post much recently what with working late, going to hospital appointments, shopping, attempting to decorate, going to leaving dos and trying to at least pretend to have a social life.

So far this week I've been impressed by President Obama, specifically his inauguration speech and immediate action to overturn any number of idiotic, bigoted or downright fascist Bush policies. Kudos to that man. I do remain suitably sceptical that this huge rush of political euphoria can last; no doubt there's a New Labour style post-election crash due soon (although I'm by no means as cynical as Tom McRae on the subject). There are a few nay-sayers in our office who think he's all cliches and speeches and, to quote Luke Skywalker, it's all such a long way from here. Nonetheless, I can't help but feel that this is an important moment in world politics. Obama is the right man at the right time telling the right story - and it is a story even if not in a pejorative sense - about regrouping, rebuilding and reaffirming fundamental values.

TV-wise, CSI: original flavour is back on C5 and as good as ever. I've been mildly spoiled for future cast changes, but otherwise it's nice to watch a consistently high quality series do its stuff and not have a clue what's coming next. We're still catching up on various US imports including House (still great), Sarah Connor (mostly great) and Galactica (I just need closure). We also have the Dexter S1 box set to watch, and we found the entire Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes going cheap in HMV so we've started that too. Incredibly I don't think I'd ever seen the first episode before (A Scandal in Bohemia).

We're also trying to get back in the swing of going to the cinema. Today we saw Frost/Nixon which is both a predictable underdog story and an extremely solid, occasionally outstanding character study of two men. Both lead performances are exemplary, and the film settles out as a surprisingly melancholy portrait of Nixon in a way that reminded me very much of George Reeves in Hollywoodland.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Christmas)
We're done, that's it, the fat lady has sung, the stapler has stapled its last. No more work in 2008.

We visited my family in Yorkshire at the weekend and spent a very good time surrounded by lots of people, many of whom are unlucky enough to be related to me. We had a nice meal in Beverley, the place of my birth (not that this was relevant to the meal) and came home laden down with presents.

All presents are now bought, the meal is planned, and the house is in a state vaguely resembling neatness. We did the big food run to the supermarket yesterday and survived unscathed1. Although my brother's poncy southern palate2 is now so refined he only has a chicken in case of "emergency" (i.e. failure to buy a goose) we've settled on a nice fresh free range chicken (or "happy chicken" as Janet calls chickens that have been allowed to gambol with the lambs and roam in vast herds across the serengeti.)

We're doing the quiet thing again this year, so just my brother-in-law over for the big day. With Janet's diabetes we have to be a bit careful about Christmas snacking, but the meal itself should be fine with judicious application of wholemeal bread and a bit of common sense3. I did sit and watch both Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver cooking Christmas things the other day, and aside from an overwhelming desire to slap both of them hard around the face I was amazed at how unhealthy their Christmas dishes were. Apparently Nigella believes that you have to coat all vegetables so liberally with maple syrup that they must emerge from the oven tasting like toffee apples4. I'm currently researching recipes for roast potatoes with rosemary and garlic as the amount of sugar in the supermarket toppings you can buy is ridiculous. Janet is currently making her surprisingly tasty sugar-free chocolate cake (using Splenda).

Then it's Chr2stmas on Boxing Day when my parents-in-law are doing us a meal.

To get you in the mood -- for what is unclear -- you can hear Tom McRae doing a version of White Christmas over at his myspace page. Nowhere near as depressing as the suicidal version of Wonderful Christmastime I posted last year, but acceptably mopey Christmas fare.

--
1 Barring a large hole where my wallet used to be.
2 :-P
3 Sadly our common sense is stored at the back of the cupboard and went out of date in 2006.
4 Also she was flirting with me quite embarrassingly. I think she has a crush on me, poor thing.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Hurray! My Tom McRae Live 2007 album arrived yesterday. Just listening to it now, and it sounds every bit as sharp and powerful as you'd expect.



Track list:
1. Walking2Hawaii, La Cigale, Paris
2. For The Restless, The Limelight, Belfast
3. A&B Song, La Cigale, Paris
4. Ghost Of A Shark, La Cigale, Paris
5. End of The World News (Dose Me Up), The Limelight, Belfast
6. Got A Suitcase, Got Regrets, Folken, Stavanger
7. One Mississippi, La Cigale, Paris
8. On And On, La Laiterie, Strasbourg
9. Deliver Me, Shepherds Bush Empire, London
10. Only Thing I Know, Debaser, Stockholm
11. Silent Boulevard, The Limelight, Belfast
12. Boy With The Bubblegun, The Limelight, Belfast

I could obviously suggest many other songs I'd like to hear, but this is a decent spread from his four albums with some material like 'Ghost of a Shark' that I've not personally heard very often (contrasting with songs like 'Got a Suitcase...' that I seem to hear all the time). The interpretations tend towards acoustic but if anything less quiet and sparse than you'd expect from the albums, with rich backing instruments from Olli Cunningham and Oli Kraus and a rounded sound. Tom is in strong voice and belts out some of the more up tempo material like 'A&B Song' and 'End of the World News' and there's some electric guitar in there.

If you've seen him live you'll know what to expect. This brings back memories for me, though I have to say we made a far livelier audience on 'End of the World News' than the shambolic lot on the album.

It has a fairly cheap cardboard sleeve, but since this is a direct release from Mr McRae unmediated by a record contract I assume it means more money gets to the artist. Go buy it! Other than that there's nothing to quibble about. Very pleasing.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Tom McRae has released a live album through his website shop. He sounds great live, and it's a decent track selection recorded at various venues around Europe last year. Mine's already on order.

Meanwhile the irrepressible Dan "Don't call me irrepressible" Hartland has a rootsy new EP out. But you knew that. I was lazy and bought it on iTunes.

Anyway, all this leaves me musing...

[Poll #1274318]

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
My wife's doing heaps of overtime this weekend, and I've been sat here staring at a spreadsheet for several hours trying to motivate myself. It's due next week, time is short, and I'll regret it if I don't do it. Trouble is, I've already worked most evenings this week and it's all beginning to catch up with me.

Quite clearly the thing to do is procrastinate!

Tom McRae now has a blog, McRaetheism. As usual he's walking that fine line between deadpan comedy and soul-destroying nihilism. He also has a couple of new song demos up on his myspace page.

We've belatedly been catching up with The Middleman, which is exactly the kind of cheesy, heightened-reality pop-culture-drenched romp that the world needs more of; it's sort of what you'd get if The Avengers and Buffy Season 1 had a messy car accident. How can you not love a show in which the finale features an evil parallel universe, goatee beards and an impression of Snake Plissken from Escape from New York? Plus it apparently meets the bechdel rule. It's *so* going to get cancelled.

Tonight sees the debut of the BBC's Merlin in the Doctor Who / Robin Hood family slot. I'm not optimistic, but it does have Tony Head in it. And a dragon.

Thought for the Day: no matter how large or crowded the supermarket car park, someone is always trying to get into or out of the car right next to yours.

Bleargh

Sep. 2nd, 2008 10:45 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
The moment I started my holidays last Saturday I started coming down with the lurgy. Funny how often that happens. So even though I'm on holiday this week I'm also bunged up and feeling like the back of my throat has been sandpapered (or, occasionally, chiselled). Since I'm not up to much therefore, here are a few things that, in my delirium, I mentally logged as worth telling someone. You be the judge.

The saga of Tom McRae's website continues. It's now in Australia. No really.

This story about the MMR vaccine scare on Bad Science is actually an excerpt from Ben Goldacre's new book. It's also a fantastically rational account of how irrational the media can be in their quest to sensationalise a story.

Frost/Nixon is a movie that wasn't on my radar. What were the chances that anyone, let alone Ron Howard, would make a Hollywood movie out of David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon? It's hard to know what to make of it. The trailer paints the film as a mixture of political drama and David vs Goliath feel-good story, in the general neighbourhood of Charlie Wilson's War. Michael Sheen looks great as Frost, and Frank Langella seems okayish as Nixon. Other eclectic cast members include Oliver Platt (White House Counsel Oliver Babish on The West Wing) and Matthew "Tom from Spooks" McFadyen. (Plus it has Kevin Bacon in it, so given how ubiquitous Michael Sheen is this should blow the Kevin Bacon game wide open.)

No Heroics is a new sitcom centred around off-duty UK Superheroes. The trailer looks surprisingly okay, albeit sex-obsessed, particularly given that this is airing on that great sitcom purgatory, ITV.

Lastly, what is up with those camera zooms that punctuate Evan Davis's every sentence at the start of Dragon's Den? It's like the camera operator just ate an entire keg of Smarties and can't calm down.

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Tom McRae's website is broken. Or possibly not. Allegedly it's run off overseas with a girl band wesbite and is sending him postcards from France and India. Mad.

Unfortunately he's also posted on his Facebook wall that while he was on stage in Regent's Park someone broke into his house and stole his laptop including his new songs. He seems... unhappy... about it. As you would expect.

Lipstick

Jul. 12th, 2008 01:49 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
That Tom McRae single I mentioned, "Lipstick", is out now. It's one of those "featuring Tom McRae" arrangements where the original artist 'Wills and the Willing' supplied the backing track and a bit of rap and he wrote and performed the rest.

I have to say I absolutely love all of the Tom McRae bits - it's the best thing he's done in quite a while, especially when he gets to rock out a bit towards the end. Sadly, although I'm not normally averse to a bit of rock/rap fusion, the rap bits just don't work for me.

Still, I've bought it on iTunes. You can also hear it on his myspace account (although the contrast with the downloaded version from iTunes only serves to remind me how much streaming audio changes the mix and sound of a song.)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Tom McRae "guests" on the new single by Wills and the Willing, Lipstick. This seems to mean that he wrote and performed all his bits of the song --which are excellent-- based on hearing the rap parts --which are terrible. You can hear the whole song on their myspace page. Tom is also performing on Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show tomorrow, which will presumably be available on the 'listen again' feature for the coming week. Finally, here is a very good summary and set of interviews with the Tom McRae / Hotel Cafe tour.

Meanwhile have some Star Wars Strictly Come Dancing. The best bit is Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers at the end.

And Harry Knowles has seen some scenes from J.J. Abrams's Star Trek film. It's not out for a year, but this is the first thing I've read to get me actually excited about it.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Just saw this nice Tom McRae interview for those as is interested, on wide variety of topics ranging from his music to politics to record labels to touring to... what kind of fruit he is.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
On Thursday we drove up to Edinburgh to see the Hotel Cafe tour headlined by Tom McRae. We went to the Hotel Cafe tour in Newcastle in 2006 and we saw him solo in Edinburgh last year so this fused the two experiences. The Hotel Cafe concept is a fantastic idea which manages to highlight artists you may (or may not) like while never staying still for long enough that you get bored with any one singer.

Cut for length )

The gig lasted about three hours all told, ending about 11.30. Overall it was a fantastic experience.

The night sky was so clear and brilliant I actually made a brief pit-stop on the way home just to stare at it. I can't remember the last time I saw so many stars away from light-pollution. The constellations were almost lost amidst the background stars. It was a truly gob-smacking sight, and a fine end to a fine evening.

Tom McRae

Nov. 5th, 2007 01:57 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
We drove up to Edinburgh yesterday. It's a beautiful drive full of desolate winding roads, and at this time of year the countryside is intensely autumnal. I've never seen so many shades of orange.

The city itself is lovely, of course. I've never visited Edinburgh just for its own sake and had a proper look around, and sadly we didn't manage to do that yesterday either. I'll have to go back. We did walk up to the castle briefly after dark, then meandered back down past bagpipers and tourist attractions and shops selling pastel-coloured tartan (which is if possible more hideous than normal tartan.) I'd have taken pictures but the photographs on my battered old phone are terrible in low light. You can count the individual photons that make it to the sensor.

The Tom McRae gig... )

The scenic drive was somewhat less scenic and more taxing in the pitch black at 11 p.m. But we survived, and even got to see a fox retreating into the roadside hedge at one point.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
I'm really enjoying Tom McRae's new album King of Cards. I've spent the best part of the last few days with fragments of its tunes slipping in and out of my head.

I'm also a bit disappointed with it: there are a few songs that, as yet, seem as anonymous as passing strangers on the street. I still couldn't tell you much about them despite the fact that I've bumped into them for three days straight. 'The Ballad of Amelia Earheart' is one such, as is 'Houdini And the Girl'. It's not that they're poppy, just... slight. There are also some songs that feel lyrically or structurally awkward, like 'One Mississippi', which is something I don't normally associate with his writing.

Clearly his mission statement on this album was accessibility. Even more than All Maps Welcome this is by far his most eclectic mix of songs, with tracks that could sit comfortably on each of his past albums but also frothier tracks that, until now, I really wouldn't have associated with him at all. The saving grace is that he does accessible quite well. Even the up-tempo happy ones have twists and quirks that sound like Tom McRae songs--just up-tempo, happy Tom McRae songs. 'Bright Lights', for example, is just the kind of thing I didn't expect to like. It's great. They're not as satisfying as a lot of material on his earlier albums, but they're enjoyable on their own terms. And if they feel a little bit thin at times then there's always the more typical stuff like the sparse 'Got A Suitcase, Got Regrets' or the stumbling bitterness of 'Keep Your Picture Clear'. 'On And On' is strangely addictive too.

It's far from perfect, but there's lots to enjoy. Apparently he's already written his next album, and there's no reason it shouldn't be great, but I do hope for something a touch darker next time around.

Music

Mar. 5th, 2007 02:11 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Sandman)
We are now the proud possessors of tickets to see Tom McRae in May. The tickets seem to be exclusively available to fans for the first couple of days, so it's worth registering on the website if you want to grab tickets early.

Idlewild - Make Another World )

Ray LaMontagne - Trouble )

Joe Purdy - Only Four Seasons )

Tim Finn - Imaginary Kingdom )

Grant-Lee Phillips, Counting Crows, Crowded House... )

From all of this you may suspect that my musical tastes are irredeemably middle-aged. It's true *sob*.

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It's been a fairly hectic weekend all told. By which I mean not even remotely hectic by most reasonable standards, but the kind of weekend which involves constant socialising - very pleasant, but also tiring!

On Friday we went to see Tom McRae and an ensemble of other singer-songwriters at the Carling Academy 2 in Newcastle. Lengthy rambling about Tom McRae )

Then we went home and spent the rest of the evening boozing with Janet's brother and one of our friends back at our place, then spent the whole of Saturday doing much the same thing, with a short interval in the middle to have a meeting with a mortgage adviser and arrange a new mortgage deal (our existing one comes to an end on 1st Jan). Saturday night involved much boozing and watching Miyazaki's Nausicca, a film we've never got around to watching, and which I enjoyed very much.

Today we went on a day trip out to Warkworth Castle in Northumberland with another friend and one of his friends, which was fun. We had a very nice carvery lunch at the Hermitage Hotel and the castle, while mostly ruined, is very impressive. Only the fact that the wind was a-howlin' and the rain was a-downpourin' kept it from being entirely fun. My ears are just now beginning to warm up and stop hurting.

Music

Nov. 30th, 2006 09:21 pm
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We're off to see Tom McRae tomorrow night. Specifically we're off to see a bit of Tom McRae, and an equal amount of several singer-songwriters we've never heard of. It's an interesting idea so I hope I like some of the other artists who'll be playing. To be honest I tend to enjoy most live music if it's even remotely in a genre I listen to, and we seldom go out to gigs, so it should be good.

Mr McRae has just posted the following about the tour:

"Hotel Cafe, right. It's a revue show, I hope we made that clear. Using my name, to present my friends to my audience. "My audience", he said beating his chest, gorilla-like. Sorry to be possessive. I am well aware I share you with many other artists.... one or two who may even be marginally more successful than me (hard to believe I know)....but I look out night after night and see you, and I want to own your souls, if only for a couple of hours. Obviously I sold mine long ago, so I'm thinking if I can check yours out, maybe I can find one that fits. What the fuck am I talking about? You try doing this at half past bastard o'clock in the morning on a tour bus that is being blown every which way... supply your own easy joke if you must. The artistes... like the 'e' we added?... vaudeville style dontcha know....the 'artistes' on this tour are incredible. All different, all amazing, all actually my friends. We all play a couple of songs, with me starting - so get there early - and then we all come back again and do more, and then we sing with each other, and then we forget what we're doing, and then we start to bump each to each other, drop guitars, and generally run headlong into chaos until someone makes us leave the stage. It is different. But it is special too, and we all took big risks to bring this show to this country, and I would love more than anything for this idea to take hold, and for the Hotel Cafe tour to become a show where you can regularly find new artists, and see something less sanitised than the vanilla-flavoured white bread that is our thrilling pop culture. Yes, I am just as bitter and fucked off as always, in case you think America is making me sentimental and soft."

I admire that man's ability to ramble, I have to say. Sounds interesting, though.

Tom McRae

Jun. 30th, 2005 11:09 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
I'm addicted to Tom McRae. It started small - just the first album. Okay, strike that, it started big - just the first album. I liked it after one listen, loved it after two, then we put it on repeat play in the car and never looked back. I'm expecting the album's third child shortly.

What's got me hooked... )

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iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
iainjclark

July 2014

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