If you’re in or around Glasgow on Tuesday night (and not watching the football), this could be a nice way to spend the evening. Three mature chaps singing songs and telling stories in a nice little venue.
The new Eisenhowers album hits the digital shops today (hard copies are available through Bandcamp, if you still like that sort of thing). The themes explored on ‘Nudge Unit Blues’ are fear, control, corruption, paranoia, superstition and abuse of power. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything that has happened in the last three and a half years that would make anyone want to write about stuff like that.
For the legions of Eisenhowers fans around the globe, I will be playing a live set at Uddingston Music Club on Friday 3rd February. Songs will be sung, drinks will be drunk and chat will chut on the next step in the campaign to propel the latest album (‘Judge a man by the company he keeps’) up the hit parade. The song linked to below -‘How will you know when you know?’- is about being in a band and hitting the wall of realisation that you are probably not going to be the next U2. In the first verse, there is excitement and optimism as the musicians plan for an adventure, loading up their van before hitting the road for a gig (in the exotic location of Aberdeen). The second verse is written from the perspective of the morning after the night before, grinding through the daily routine and attempting to analyse events through the enervating fog of sleep deprivation.
In anticipation of the latest Eisenhowers album going double platinum, I somewhat optimistically pressed 2 million CDs. In spite of one decent review on Unknownindielosers.com, we’re still only 0.00085% towards our target sales figure. There is definitely room for improvement, so my PR team have organised a ruthless publicity campaign which involves me ‘putting out’ a series of live acoustic performances of various songs from the album. This is a link to ‘My Gang’, a song about political polarisation. The subject interests me and I wanted to explore a landscape wherein dialogue between opposing sides isn’t just frowned upon or rejected; it is taken to be undesirable. I believe ‘My Gang’ to be a well-written and a well-executed song. It’s not original and it’s not going to change the world, but in three minutes or so, it encapsulated some of the things I wanted to say about what passes for political discourse in the 21st century. It also represents the next blow in my continuing war of attrition with the record-buying public. 2 million CDs (a) take up a » Continue Reading.
Video representation of a track from the multi-platinum award-winning* album ‘Judge a man by the company he keeps’ by The Eisenhowers. It was inspired by an awkward social encounter, during which a civilised discussion somehow turned into something quite ugly. Rather than punch the angry guy in the face, I decided to write this song. That’ll teach him. (*when I say the album is ‘multi-platinum award-winning’, this is my truth and how very dare you even question it, you utter Nazi).
… is the third album by The Eisenhowers. The music might best be described as adult-oriented (by that, I mean middle-aged) pop/rock, drawing on influences like David Bowie, Elvis Costello and Steely Dan. The album boasts high production values and there is some quality musicianship throughout, with the lyrics putting the spotlight on a varied cast of characters.
‘I like your girlfriend’ features a sleazy b-list television personality on the prowl, while ‘Mr McIntosh has left the building’ channels the spirit of The Kinks in reflecting the thoughts of a retiring office clerk as he spends his final day in employment. In the acerbic and spikey ‘My gang’, an ambitious and grasping politician lays bare his polarizing philosophy, while ‘How will you know when you know’ explores the state of mind of an impoverished and disillusioned musician. In ‘The Joker and The Penguin’, two comic book characters have a discussion about the nature of free will. There’s a David Bowie tribute thrown in for good measure (‘And then he flew towards the sun’), while the uplifting country rocker ‘Read my Lips’, might, in a parallel universe, have been a hit for Shania Twain.
The album is available » Continue Reading.
‘3 o’clock on a Saturday’ by The Eisenhowers is a love letter to Scottish football, celebrating the cultural importance of our football grounds. These unique venues come in many shapes and sizes, but all are focal points for the hopes and dreams of communities throughout the country. Some of them are modern and sleek, others are ancient, perhaps even crumbling in places, but still in possession of their own ramshackle charm. The song features various fans reciting the beautiful, evocative names which just roll off the tongue, among them: Borough Briggs, Brig o’Lea, Cappielow, Duncansfield, Tannadice.
Generations of supporters have shared countless moments of drama, heroism and joy at their football grounds, along with moments of boredom, frustration and pain; it is all part of the football experience. But in the current climate, the inconsistencies of government policy -wherein one kind of gathering is allowed, but another one isn’t- evoke a different kind of frustration. As our historic community hubs lie empty, the video focuses on the theme of denial of access. The featured fans all make the same frustrating journey and make the same symbolic statement: These grounds belong to us; our rituals will continue, because they must. It » Continue Reading.
Analogue Hashtag’s debut album is inspired and influenced by some classic TV themes, in particular the work of composers like Edwin Astley, Barry Gray, Lalo Schifrin and Ron Grainer. The imaginative listener might just detect a narrative thread running through the album. This might involve an agent during the cold-war period being sent behind the Iron Curtain on an espionage mission. As the plot unfolds, he might be drawn into a tangled web of intrigue before being captured, imprisoned and interrogated. During his interrogation, as the prospect of escape fades to the distance, he might well find himself retreating to a space inside his head in order to avoid giving away any crucial information to the enemy. Any similarity with plots of old TV shows and /or films is deliberate, because the aim of this project is to record theme tunes and incidental music for films and TV shows which exist in a parallel universe (or something). ‘One of our agents is missing’ is available on Spotify, i-tunes and various other sites, but a ‘free’ download (dependent on a small donation to a » Continue Reading.
Imagine you weren’t allowed to link to copyrighted material. That would be your internet pretty much finished (unless, of course, you are Google or Facebook and can afford to pay the ridiculous ‘license’ fees).
Raymond on how a man of 77 gets to make his recording debut
In 2014, I started writing about the process of recording some songs with the intention of making an album. The project that I started documenting back then has grown arms and legs and morphed into a multi-headed beast (more about that some other time). I’ve taken several detours along the way, but the one that means the most is about to get a proper release on an actual record label, something I had barely even considered as a possibility when I started out.
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Raymond on a band who could have been contenders …
In 1993, the rock press started to talk about something called ‘Britpop’. I had no idea what it meant, other than that someone had invented yet another music genre. The phenomenon went on to carry some cultural weight, although perhaps not always for the reasons celebrated by some commentators. Depending on your point of view, Noel Gallagher hanging around Downing Street with Tony Blair was either the zenith of ‘Cool Britannia’ or the precise moment at which rock music relinquished its risible claim to be the standard bearer for anything resembling a counter-cultural movement. Here’s a clue: If you’re sipping tea with the Prime Minister, you may still fancy yourself as a rebel, but you are most definitely inside the tent, pissing out.
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Brett Weinstein is an evolutionary biologist and his brother Eric is a mathematician; their combined IQ is about 854. Both men describe themselves as progressives, but both have been thrust into the spotlight after clashes with the authoritarian left in American academia. If you don’t already know Brett Weinstein’s story, you should google ‘Evergreen State College – Brett Weinstein’. Once you’ve absorbed the surreal madness of that, the things he’s saying here will make sense. This is a free-ranging conversation covering, among other things, education, economics, politics, evolution and drug-testing; it is just the sort of thing that television can’t (or won’t) do. Thank goodness that the internet allows us easy access to challenging ideas. Even if you don’t watch the whole thing, you should fast forward to the last five minutes, when Eric provides the most succinct summary of how a thinking person ought to orient herself /himself within the realm of political ideas. I don’t think I have heard a more simple or eloquent statement on topic.
I’m not sure if Floating Points have been celebrated on the Afterword before.
This performance, as the young folk say, is ‘sick’.
Raymond on the remarkable rise of Doctor Peterson
If there is anyone out there who still hasn’t watched Cathy Newman’s Channel 4 News interview with the Clinical Psychologist Jordan Peterson, I would strongly recommend that you check out what was a wonderfully illuminating piece of television. I found it riveting, but I’m not sure if that was in spite of -or because of- the interviewer’s insistence on trying to put words into her interviewee’s mouth at almost every turn. If you try counting the number of times she says “so what you’re saying is …” before inserting a ridiculously skewed interpretation of what he has actually said, you will need all of your fingers and some of your toes. It is evident that ‘listening’ and ‘responding to what the other person has actually said’ were not part of Ms Newman’s game plan.
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Raymond on the template for an eccentric pop career
As a tragically obsessive consumer of music, I am used to the idea of ‘expectation’ out-performing ‘reality’. It has too often been the case that the act of imagining the tantalising possibilities of an eagerly-anticipated album has provided rather more fun than the experience of actually listening to it. Having learned to live with that kind of disappointment, it was always a particular treat when something managed to match my hopes and expectations.
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Raymond on tracing the musical lineage of your heroes
For a nerdish young music-obsessed Glaswegian in the late 70s and early 80s, the ‘Lost Chord’ record shop had an almost mythical status. It was located in the bohemian West End, the part of town where poets, intellectuals, posh kids and people who played in bands hung out. If -like me- you lived on the dull south side, getting there required not only dedication, but an ability to decipher bus timetables which openly mocked the restrictive notions of linear time.
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Raymond on 1960s football as performance art
In his classic dystopian novel 1984, George Orwell famously had the party apparatchik O’Brien make the following assertion: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” Watching Scottish Premier League football can be a bit like that. It was bad enough when the Old Firm routinely carved things up between them, but since Rangers had their liquidation event in 2012, watching Celtic demolish the opposition has become about as much fun as watching a big rich kid beating up a bunch of poor little kids. The Scottish Cup, at least, has managed to provide some welcome relief from that, with Hibernian, St Johnstone, Hearts and Inverness all winning the trophy in recent years. And this season, once again, the only game that matters is the tie at which one of the so-called provincial clubs will (hopefully) thwart Celtic’s pursuit of the domestic treble.
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I’m nominating Einstürzende Neubauten, or that film about the guy who went back in time to stop zombies or something.
Raymond on the sights, the sounds, the smells of a cup-tie down the coast.
For lovers of the old trophy, there can be no more romantic side to watch, surely, than Queen’s Park, the oldest association football club in Scotland and ten times winners of the Scottish Cup. As I drove to the coast to take in their fourth round tie at Ayr United, I was full of the joys of a crisp clear winter’s day and had high hopes for some raw footballing entertainment.
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Raymond on the wee teams dreaming of glory
Several days of cold weather meant that the morning of the third round of the Scottish Cup was a time of anxiety for the roving fan with hopes of taking in a game. I had picked five possible venues within reasonable driving distance, but overnight frost meant that pitch inspections were taking place at most of them. As information about postponements started to filter through, I was relieved to discover that perhaps the most intriguing tie -Bonnyrigg Rose versus Dumbarton- was going ahead. The Bonnyrigg twitter feed posted this simple and joyous message shortly after completion of their pitch inspection:
“We are … ON!!!! To the bodies that were here yesterday and in darkness this morning – Legends.”
Author:Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt
In this series of interviews conducted over several months, Todd Bernhardt gets Andy Partridge to talk (and talk) about thirty songs in the XTC catalogue, with each album represented by at least a couple of songs. Andy explains what he was trying to achieve in that scattergun, wisecracking style we’ve come to expect. XTC fans will be familiar with some of his gripes; the fact that the band signed an extraordinarily bad record deal still rankles and he feels that they should have achieved (and earned) a lot more than they did. At one point, he ruminates on the astonishment and frustration he felt at finding out how much his contemporary Elvis Costello was (allegedly) worth.
It is interesting to read about the development of each track from conception to completion, although towards the end of the book you get the impression that there is a degree of repetition. If I have one criticism, it is that perhaps thirty songs was a tad too much.
Even if you’re not familiar with the recordings being analysed here, you may still get something from the technical chat about chord structures and recording techniques. I knew all » Continue Reading.
Raymond on the ruminations of a Tragic Football Tourist
For the second round of the Scottish Cup, I decided to head to Annan to watch the home side take on East Stirlingshire. My extensive pre-match research revealed that these clubs had something remarkable in common, in that each have endured a single ‘ghost’ season when they disappeared off the football map.
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For anyone who hasn’t seen it, ‘Hunted’ is a TV show in which ten folk have to go on the run and stay hidden for 28 days. The contestants are allowed to take anything they are able to carry and are granted access to a bank account containing £300. They are being pursued by a crack team of investigators who have all kinds of surveillance powers available to them (including the ability to seize computers, hack email accounts and open mail). Any contestants who can evade these ‘hunters’ for 28 days will win a share of £100,000. Apart from being an entertaining programme, ‘Hunted’ provides a grim reminder of just how much access the state has to your personal information and all of your electronic communications. British citizens are the most observed people in the western world and the average person is caught on CCTV around seventy (yes, 70) times a day.
Two young Londoners working together –Madu Alikor and Ayo Adesina- have been making life difficult for the investigative team, so last week the hunters upped the ante. Dr Donna Youngs is described as an ‘Investigative Psychologist’ and her job is to help profile the lives of the fugitives, » Continue Reading.