You Are The Summer (Too Many Fireworks, 2018)

On 14th March this year, I turned 39 years old. Almost no-one in my life believes this. While the wrinkles around my eyes become a little more pronounced, and my hair continues it’s gradual evacuation from my head, it’s heartening to think that most people I know were surprised to learn I was heading towards 40.

I won’t lie. I’ve spent a lot of this year in something of an odd mid-life-crisis. Everything seemed to be coming to an end. Not a literal end, obviously, but some feeling of an end. I decided that 2018 would have to be crammed with as much activity as I could possibly manage: A new band, a new project, a new small business, new books, new songs, new blogs, new new new.

For the last few months I’ve spent time working out what direction my next musical project / output would take and after some trial and error I’ve recorded and released my first – I suppose you could call it a debut of sorts – single.

The record, “You Are The Summer” is a lo-fi, indie-pop tune with, I hope, the melodic charm or many of the Scottish pop bands I obviously love. Home-recorded on a hot May afternoon, in my city centre apartment in Warsaw, the single follows the time-honored tradition of pop songs harnessing the warmth of the sun. It’s certainly my nod to the long tradition of pop tunes capturing the shimmering brilliance of being in love in the summertime.

The digital single is available now from too many fireworks.

Radio Kampus. 28th February 2018

Back in the Radio Kampus studio after taking a month off for record-releasing/record writing responsibilities. Of course I recorded a couple of pre-records (and I’ll upload them out of sequence sometime soon) but here’s the show from last night, in studio with pop-culture journalist, Laura Studarus, on one of her many visits to Warsaw.

1. New People – Rain Talk

2. Autre Ne Veut – Play by Play

3. VLMV – All These Ghosts

4. Men I Trust – Tailwhip

5. Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Cockcrow (feat. Siobhan Wilson)

6. Beta Frontiers – If I Stayed ft. Carmen Elle

7. The Vaselines – Inky Lies

8. Tracyanne & Danny – Home & Dry

9. Superchunk – Erasure

10. The Zephyrs – Stargazer

11. Running In Slow Motion – Kinesis (Farewell)

Radio Kampus. 31st January 2018

There’s not much to write about last night’s show except to say that it didn’t happen on air last night. I got sick after a long day sitting under an air conditioner, so didn’t make it to the studio. Instead I recorded it this morning and here it is. Enjoy.

1. The Fall – Sparta FC #2

2. Superchunk – Erasure

3. In Lights – Memory

4. Boss Keliod – Chronosiam

5. Off World – The Grail

6. Møl – Penumbra

7. Good Night Chicken – The Werewolf

8. Jimi Hendrix – Mannish Boy

9. Burning Bones – Soft Like Silk; Bright Like Gold

10. Nils Frahm – All Melody

Pages and Pages: January 2018

I began January 2018 with a blog post writing about my measly 15 books read in 2017 and how I really must do something about that this year. And I hope to report on that progress over the next 12 months in these pages. So to begin, I can look back on the month through the books I’ve read.

Buried Child – Sam Shepard
I started with a Sam Shepard play, largely because the man himself had sadly died in 2017 and he had been recommended to me by my girlfriend – herself a fan of his plays. Outside of Shakespeare and the odd other (Faust, or the Crucible, for instance) I’m not a seasoned reader of plays, so it took a moment to acclimatise to the form, but I was soon carried away. The surrealism within was initially disconcerting – especially placed on top of what felt a hyper-realistic family story – but by the end, I was engrossed in the story, though left feeling an unshakable melancholy.

Winnie-The-Pooh – A.A. Milne.
Thankfully then I chose to follow it up with Winnie-the-Pooh. Granted, I’m a 38 year old man but I decided I needed something considerably lighter to follow Shepard, so I dug out a children’s book I’ve never before read. Yes, I’ve seen the cartoons and I’m aware of the characters, but I’d never before read the story and had some misconceptions of what the story actually was (more on that with another book later). Suffice to say, it left me feeling much happier as I took some time to hang out for a bit in the charming Hundred Acre Wood.

Fire and Fury – Michael Wolff
It’s tempting to begin my note on Wolff’s book about Trump’s first year in the White House in some trite comparison between the main players and the characters of Winnie-the-pooh, but I’ll avoid that inclination and make note instead that Wolff – as many know – isn’t exactly known for his journalistic integrity. That said, the large majority of the commentariat seems to suggest that while the details of the book could be taken with a cellar of salt (a 5 page verbatim conversation between Bannon and Ailes, for instance), the overall message of the book is solid – given how much has been written elsewhere “on background”. It was certainly an eye-opening read, though – and gives new insight into Alice’s adventures through the looking glass.

Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page – Brad Tolinski
My first music book of the year came after only 1 week, and it was a biography of sorts, culled from conversations Jimmy Page had with Guitar World’s editor-in-chief, Brad Tolinski over the course of years. It was a soft-reintroduction to Led Zeppelin after their absence in my life for a number of years. Lots of talk of guitars, songwriting, and production; and a merciful lack of stories of debauchery – those we’ve all heard before. This one I recommend.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
Another dip into my girlfriend’s literary wheelhouse (so to speak) for this one. I thought it best I acquaint myself with her favourite author’s work, and while I’ve seen the movie, I’d never read the book. Breakfast at Tiffany’s turns out not to be a favourite of Marta’s, nor mine. Always delighted the cat found a home though.

The Stranger – Albert Camus
This was my favourite book this month – and one, again, I’m a little ashamed to say that it has taken me until now to read. It had little effect on me while reading, though it was a compelling read, but it has been the “after-taste” that I’ve found most interesting. I’ve spend a lot of time thinking of it, particularly while songwriting over the last 10 days. That’s not to say there are any obvious connections in the songs I’ve written but the themes keep coming back. Considering Meursault’s feeling of alienation and non-comformity is worth some thought – at least in an attempt to create.

My First Guitar – Julia Crowe
Julia Crowe’s collection of interviews and essays from guitarists discussing their first guitars was a sometimes enjoyable and sometimes tedious read. I must confess that there were a few too many classical guitarists in the mix and, having no great interest in them, I was tempted (though didn’t) to skip past. I did enjoy tales though from Les Paul through to Lee Ranaldo – and Mr. Page made another appearance. On the whole, the book is a worthy read – I just wish I knew more about the classical guitar scene to make that 1/4-to-a-1/3 of the book worth reading.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror – Robert Louis Stevenson
And finally… Though I started Salinger’s Nine Stories this month, I haven’t finished it, so Jekyll and Hyde finishes my account for this month. Here is another book of which I’m well aware of the characters but – through popular culture and having never read the book – have had huge misconceptions of what the actual story was. I loved this book and it’s one I’d read again and again and feel I’d get more out of it each time.

And so that’s that for January. As I mentioned – I’m part way through Nine Stories, so that’ll kick us off next month. I wonder how many more I’ll have added in that time.

Show announcement: VLMV in Warsaw