The Bravery

Via Central Village, THE BRAVERY, are an American band that have recently had the misfortune to be mentioned in the NME.

You can see for yourself if they live up to the American Franz Ferdinand comparisons (I'd settle for an English one):

Sounds like a Rickenbacker bass to me.


Gary Benchley - a rock star in waiting

I've been following The Morning News' coverage of Gary Benchley's column for the last few months.

It purports to be the story of a would-be rock star's arrival in New York, his (hilarious) attempts to form a band based on gender and race profiling and how real-life intervenes at frighteningly inopportune moments.

I say purports because they read so well, and I can't help but feel there's more to the writer than the reader is being told. A good read none the less.


House update

So we have new windows, they messed up the frosting though (spent the weekend trying not to flash my neighbours), but are coming back to fix it.

This morning the conservatory people from Arundel arrived (about 7.20 by my watch) and the wife spent the day "working from home" whilst making sure the plumber and the conservatory people talked to each other.

So looking down the garden from the new conservatory (no glass yet)

The new conservatory from the side

Face on from the back of the house

and hidden through the early fruiting apple trees from where my shed is going to be


Ergo Phizmiz & his Orchestra - White Light White Heat

Oh, go on then - Ergo Phizmiz & his Orchestra - White Light White Heat is exactly that, the velvet underground's album reinterpreted in much the same way as Tim Burton did to planet of the apes.

my record collection on eBay

Well Gunther from Munchen has yet to post any feedback on me (despite my feedback about him that said he was a pleasure to do business with) but that hasn't dampened my enthusiam for ebay.

Today I sold another five records (it all happens in the last minute or two), and have put on a further 15 items, two of which were instantly bidded on - the first spiritualized album and (surprisingly) Ween's pure guava, maybe the bongwater will go quite easily too...

woodentop #2

woodentop, my mp3blog goes cheesey prog rock-tastic and makes the link between two slightly unhinged scottish men.

How to download Real Audio streams

... and then convert Real Audio to MP3

Swen's blog tells you how to download Real Audio streams and convert Real Audio to MP3, so you can record stuff that you would otherwise have to stream. Hurrah!


How I'm ripping all my CDs into mp3s

Yesterday I met up with my sister, her friend Mel and Luke - who's blogs are over on the left. They asked me to put up links to the programs I use to copy my CDs to mp3.

I use EAC - Exact Audio Copy. This is the not the easiest program to configure, but you only have to do it once - the interface was obviously designed by an engineer, but you can specify filename, get track titles from cddb, choose bitrate etc.

I also use the Lame encoder, which I've put in a subfolder under EAC. This is the widget that actually does the conversion of CD to mp3 and all you do is point EAC to where lame.exe actually is.


thousands of them, all running around

Check out the animated stick men - at J-Walk Blog

This is also viewable as a autostereogram - like those 3D pictures made out of dots.

You will need to de-focus you eyes, as if staring into the distance, relax and then gradually pull back into focus.

At a point when your eyes are focussing beyond the plane of the screen you will see the figures in focus, larger than they actually are and experience a three dimensional effect.

You might also get square eyes.


Stuff It, Emo Boy!

Trend-spotters at the New York Observer are running this piece on dating Emo Boys, and the pitfalls therein. You know, the sickly looking indie-kids that forgot to grow up, surely you know at least one?

Dating always seems much harder work for Americans.

With whom does your personal philosophy align?

My Philosophy questionnaire scores:
1. Aquinas (100%)
2. Stoics (79%)
3. Aristotle (74%)
4. Spinoza (64%)
5. Kant (55%)

RSS just became dangerous

Despite telling friends about bloglines, and the wonders of RSS - it allows you to read a lot more crap, more efficiently than visiting seperate websites, some remain unconvinced.

I have Google RSS alerts telling me when it finds new pages containing search terms - useful for indicating a news footprint.

and now (thanks to Dadblog) I have ebay alerting me when an item I want is posted - create your own ebay RSS feeds


Guitar Amp - Sold

My Fender Blues DeVille was sold this afternoon to a nice bloke called Tom from Guildford.

He'd seen the advert on the web in Loot, and came with his girlfriend to check it out.

I think he may have made his mind up as soon as he saw the tweed finish, but I left them together with some coffee, whilst he auditioned the amp with his 70's reissue white strat (the only colour for a 70's reissue in my mind - oh yeah, bring on that white man's overbite).

Money exchanged hands and I gave him the old set of tubes (I'd switched them recently just to see if I could make it quieter) and a fairwell handshake.

I hope he enjoys playing it as much as I did.

Woodentop - my new MP3 blog

Woodentop is me just dipping my toe in the waters of MP3 blogging.

I think it is going to be updated weekly, and might even end up being in near chronological order, charting my musical obsessessions from dodgy goth to prog rock (and back).

Lack of webspace means that there's only ever going to be two or three links up, but I'm making sure that all files are 128kbps, correctly tagged and have meaningful filenames.

I thought I'd start with the first album I ever bought.



Eskiv is anopther maddeningly addictive flash game. Damn their eyes.

Football Reunion Rumours

We never fell out with each other. None of us became enemies. We all turned 30 at really similar times, and we had been together for so long...That’s all that happened. We all became… just… useless with each other. So says Kevin 'Bloody' Shields in this interview.

It also perfectly sums up the weekend. The other members of the band I used to play in were all up for at least a reunion practice, if not playing out again. But that was only on the phone. When we were all in the same room the reasons why things had ground to a halt resurfaced and i realised that the chances of playing again as Football with the same three friends was more or less zero.

Which is a shame beause I'd love to play in a band again.

Chav top trumps


my first ebay success

Well I sold my first record today on ebay - to a nice man called Gunther in Munchen. All the action happened in the last minute of the auction - I nearly took it off mid-week, and again on Wednesday.

I even had an email directing me to a record dealer's website wherein the same record was on sale for £100, but I used to see that sort of price on records in record shops and noone ever could afford them. I'd like to think it was a fan buying, but I don't really mind if they're a dealer, as long as I get some money towards the back windows.

In the end I got £28 inc p&p, for it, which was good enough for me, and I've put another few records up as well (see my life for sale link on left). One down, ~299 to go.

Granular Matter Eruptions

Meanwhile over at the Granular Matter Homepage., they have this cool film (1.5MB) of sand behaving like a liquid when a ball bearing impacts the surface, trapping air in the sand.



Parkspliced is a mash up project, with multiple participants and a ropey sense of quality control. Still Parklife is my favorite Blur album, and they've seen fit to include B-side remixes, with Parlife's b-sides being amongst both the worst (Beard) and best (Peter Panic).

Sun, Sun, Sun, Sun.......


muse at glastonbury

via largeheartedboy - download the muse glasto set for preposterous guitar shenanigans.

Now with added last ten comments

Down on the left hand column I've included the last ten comments.

I did this using my Haloscan account's comment RSS feed

I could have stopped here and added the rss feed to my bloglines account, but I put the code on my page by passing the feed to RSSxpress lite and then including the code they gave me in my template.

I copied the demo css into my template header too and with a lunchtime of style/css jiggery-pokery it'll begin to look like it belongs.

Please let me know if this slows things to a stop on a slow line, and I'll stick with the bloglines RSS feed.

It did indeed slow everything down to a crawl, and has been removed.

our flawed honours system

If the rugby team got an honour, then surely the inventor of the Chunky Kit Kat - even if they were swiss they should have got something, no matter how many people were responsible in development you know they deserve some recognition.

So I emailed nestle (busy day at work today) asking who was responsible for the chunky Kit Kat (on the grounds that they were more likely to still be alive, and they are my preferred version) and also who was responsible for the original (on the grounds that it was more likely to be a single person, rather than a focus group.)

Less than an hour later I get the following response:

1329689A 14 July 2004

Dear Howard

Thank you for your recent enquiry via email.

The concept of Kit Kat Chunky and Kit Kat four finger was in development by
Nestle Rowtree for many years. However, before any product is given the
go-ahead much time and effort goes into researching the idea and developing
production methods including research into consumer demand. We have to be
confident that predicted sales warrant the cost of production. Furthermore,
Nestle Rowntree is part of a very competitive market and news of any new product
is kept very secret until the official launch date.

At Nestle, we are testing and evaluating new product ideas all the time and the
development of a new product is very complicated. It requires detailed market
research to measure whether there is sufficient consumer demand, careful
investigation of the production processes that might be involved and analysis of

You can see from the above that it takes a lot more than one person to come with
an idea and see it through from start to finish - it's all about team working.

Thank you once again for taking the trouble to contact us and for the interest
you have shown in our company.

Kind regards

Karen Short
Consumer Services, Nestle UK Limited

Now that is customer service!

Using the London Underground

Commuting, it's getting to me - how do people do this for years? I've read lots of books and listened to lots of music, but it hasn't stopped me putting a list of things that annoy me every single day, things that are hard not to take personally, so excuse me whilst I rant:

1. Wearing a suit does not give you any more rights to space - your arse may well be larger than everyone else's, but your suit does not preclude you from shuffling up to make room for others.

2. There is no first class accomodation on the tube. Everyone has an equal right to use it, even if they don't pay thousands for a season ticket every year like you.

3. If you can see someone heading for the door to get off the tube then you should not get on it before they have made it out the door.

4. Leaving your copy of Metro and/or Evening Standard on the train is littering - do not leave the paper on a seat - put the paper behind the seat or on the luggage rack where people can pick it up. If there's nowhere to put it then take it with you.

5. If using the left hand side of an escalator or moving walkway do not stop when you reach the end - also applies at the top of any station's entrance/exit stairs. Stand on the right, like the signs say.

6. Blocking the station entrance/exit in order to light up a cigarette (or even worse a cigar) is never acceptable.

7. Your bag does not have the right to a seat, and neither do your feet.

8. Smile once in a while - it won't kill you, but I'll certainly be thinking about giving you a shove under the next Watford semi-fast if you're guilty of any of the above.


Pac-Mondrian r

Pacman your way around Broadway Boogie Woogie - Pac-Mondrian, now that's just silly.

Pavement singles compilation

Pavement are one of my favorite bands, going through my records in an effort to prioritise their sale made me realise that there isn't a singles compilation - a digest if you will. This would be preferable to the redux slanted enchanted, which is a bit rubbish actually.

So, in the spirit of the little red hen, my running order is:

summer babe
trigger cut
box elder
texas never whispers
cut your hair
gold soundz
range life
rattled by the rush
father to a sister of thought
shady lane
carrot rope
major leagues
spit on a stranger


busy builders - no wall now in kitchen

came back from work this evening to find that the rear wall of the kitchen has now gone - and been replaced with a green sheet of plastic. The conservatory is going to be builat straight on to the kistchen - which I'm beginning to think is going to be even bigger than I had anticipated.

Photos to follow, just as soon as photobucket is back up.

Here we go: from the inside

from the outside.

Monday commute mp3

Began with This is Hope, by the Mull Historical Society, which was pleasant enough, but failed to hold my attention past track seven. I then spent a while trying to listen to Gemma Hayes - Night on my side, which has a lot more background noises in it than I remember, but was quite pleasant right up to the my tube cut-off point - Finchley Road, at which point the noise of the tube exceeds the comfortable to listen to music dB level.

On emerging fom Oxford Street i've been enjoying the Faint's Wet from Birth, which is still proving enjoyable as i write this. What is it with these american bands (interpol,faint,killers)that sound like they were part of the manchester scene in the early eighties? Almost as if there's an echo and the bunnymen revival about to happen, and I hope the chameleons are there to cash in (at last).


British Tours Ltd - Virtual Reality Tours of England

I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.

British Tours Ltd: Virtual Reality Tours of England, some lovely views to be had here.

Guitars for Sale, some of them had to go

OK, well the time has come to try and make some space at home.

First to go are some of my guitars (links to pics on the left) and my amp that I used when I was playing in public in my last band. I'm going to put ads in Loot this week and see where that gets me. The guitars I've decided to keep are guitars that I tutored in the evenings for when I was a teacher, with the exception of the Atkin.
If loot doesn't work out then maybe I'll have to resort to ebay, but I'd rather people came and tried the guitars first. They are all in great shape, some barely played, but buying a guitar from the internet seems a bit impersonal. There is a part of me that would like to think that they are going to good homes!

Secondly, I've started selling the last third of my vinyl (~800 records in all) on ebay. I don't think I'll sell them all - I don't think I'll be able to give some of them away, but the ones that are worth something should make up for the ones that aren't. I'm going to start with just a tester - a radiohead 12" and see how it goes.

Last time I sold my records they paid for my telecaster, one of the reasons why I'm selling the prettier thinline instead. No plans to buy a guitar with the money this time though - I think they might just cover the windows on the back of the house.

That last statement makes me feel so grown-up and nearing middle age I'm off to listen to some McClusky.


korean pop - the pearl sisters unpleasantly (the anthology)

courtesy of Sem Sinatra's Solar System of Sound, via metafilter comes this rather spectacular collection of Korean pop from the sixties (although there's no date, so I'm guessing here. Highlights for me are 'Oh', the bonkers solo in 'flag leg keys', the drumming in 'when it leaves, that person of'. It might just be me but there seems to be a strong Shadows influence at work here - though it could just be the lack of distortion, sadly 'about 5004' is not as good as it's title.


House update

We've officially gone over-budget, mainly down to the plumbing, but also because we've had to pay for all but one of the windows on the back of the house, which we mistakenly though were included in the price and quote - 'as per drawings'. I'm not bitter about it, the wife is bitter enough for the both of us.

Anyway, whilst waiting for the conservatory to arrive at the end next week, the builders have been busy plastering the insides of the extension and resizing the downstairs window - so from the inside we have a black binliner and from the outside it now has one of the red brick arches to match the rest of the house.

At least the raspberries are free.


I'm registered for the NY Times, Why? Well sometimes they have articles I want to read, simlarly the Guardian Arts section. The registration process is a chore and mine cannot be the only spurious data collected. bugmenot seeks to alleviate the pain of registration by having been there and done it for you.

Simple, effective and a bugger for the web-marketing team to work around - likewise Mailinator

New song from American Music Club

Another Morning - the first fruit of the reconstituted American Music Club, sounds promising and a lot more tuneful than when I saw them live. Not sure whether it's a single or not though.

Interpol - antics review

another go at listening to the new interpol album - this time without the blazing sunshine, and with the weather threatening rain and high winds - much more conducive to melancholia.

This has been the main search hit for my blog in the last 48 hours.

I'm going with the tracklisting as I have it:

next exit: starting the album off with a church organ, it hasn't already started and I'm already thinking of Ceremony! More percussion - tamborine and shaker and even the odd bent guitar note.

evil: is the 'rosemary' a rosemary's baby cross reference to the song title? the particularly awkward verse - angular and disjointed bleeds into a sing-a-long chorus that i can imagine fey young pale boys shouting along to at gigs.

narc: slower than the version I'd heard previously, pulling off the difficult trick of making an off-beat guitar line not sound like ska. 'you should be in my space, you should be in my life'. no, i don't think so.

take you on a cruise: now a song about tom cruise's love life would be a good topic for a song, but i fear this is not about. maybe setting sail on a new life of marraige? More chameleons in the middle section than joy division, i watch the display on my mp3 player intent on the song ending a full 50 seconds from the end.

slow hands: 'we spies, we slow hands put the weights all around yourself' expresses disgust and complicity both within and without a relationship. An excellently obtuse and surprisingly abstract song.

not even jail: upward moving verse and chorus give the impression of both striving for and achieving ascension, with an instrumental ending that fades leaving the listener floating.

public pervert: sounds and feels like filler

c'mere: this is more like the previous album, but is none the worse for that, with an interesting switch from the verse to the 'we make time'.

length of love: my attention is starting to go by this point and the chewing gum has lost it's flavour. no modulation going on here - the chorus has no lift and the guitar patterns have started to become tired and stale, if this were a gig I'd be heading for the bar.

a time to be so small: better finish to the album, or is it always psychosomatic? the tempo drops again as that ceremony I mentioned at the start ends with one last slog up a mild incline.

a whole review of interpol only mentioning joy division once (oops - I know what I did there) and yet to mention the word glacial, anyone would think i hadn't read the nme as sixth former.

Big Songs For Little Attention Spans

Like putting as many small things in a matchbox as possible, or perhaps people in a mini - Big Songs For Little Attention Spans is the tale of putting 100 proper songs onto a CD - (no napalm death here). Sadly the links seem to have stopped working, but there's something about the idea...


spiderman2 in lego

Hayseed Dixie: Hayseed Dixie Live mp3 downloads

I'm quite enjoying LargeheartedBoy's daily MP3 blog, there's not something on it everyday that i want to hear, but I know Max will appreciate the majesty of Hayseed Dixie - if you are even vaguely familiar with the original, Hells Bells is particularly good. AC/DC in bluegrass stylee.

because life sometimes isn't too short at all

a silly flash game that uses lots of others for inspiration - circles


Interpol's Antics

A belated Monday commute listening report, still no flash noise-reducing headphones - although I had a recommendation for Sony's Fontopia jobs, which at half the price of the Shure ones I was looking at look more realistic, having spent more money on plumbing than I could have ever imagined when we started the extension - don't ask, my wallet is still smarting.

So now that I'm in Oxford Street for the next two months at least I thought I'd start the week with my weekend's acquisitions.

Interpol's new album antics was leaked sometime last week to the net, and via a tortuous route to my iRiver (still going strong btw). First impressions are that there is minimal difference between it and their first album. Now for a lot of people I know that is going to be a good thing, but for me I found it boring and unrewarding. Certainly not music for a sunny morning anyway, but I'll be giving it another try.

It's a tricky thing to pull off - changing enough to keep your listeners interested and convinced you are going to grow with them and have something to offer beyond your initial novelty - the pixies only just made it to the end of surfer rosa, but countless bands don't pull it off, and leave themselves with nowhere to go.

Next up was the mirth inducing the cure, which was surprisingly good. Having missed all the albums after Disintegration (£5.99 on tape in Woolies), I felt reassured that here was a band that had been preserved in aspic, or at least Oil of Ulay. With bits of all the Cure albums I knew and loved as a moody teenager present and correct, and although it was pleasant I have to admit that I switched to a bit of Nick Drake (this one)as I hurried past the smokers having one last gasp (a ban cannot happen soon enough for me - link).


lucasgames helps kid to create game against cancer

Blogged last week, but left as draft - Ben's game is about his battle with leukemia - it is also a very enjoyable game, with great graphics - Game for kids with cancer


Summer Burn CD Swap 2004

Well I got my addresses to send my Summer Burn CD Swap 2004 compilations - one in Guildford (which unsurprisingly has no real central website for visitors) and another in Meridian Mississippi.

Feeling fairly confident that neither will ever read this before they get it in the mail I'll print my tracklist:

side one (in my head anyway)
me - inst intro
delays - nearer than heaven
shins - pink bullets
supergrass - kiss of life
britney - toxic
Beastie Boys - ch-check it out
the streets - fit, but you know it

side two
franz ferdinand - take me out
the killers - somebody told me
charlotte hatherly - kim wilde
mcclusky - she will only bring you happiness
pixies - bam thwok
rachel goswell - plucked
HAL - don't worry about the wind
divine comedy - our mutual friend
bees - i love you
pete doherty and wolfman - for lovers

I had to crop a few tracks out to fit on the CD, and Rachel Stevens was a near late entry (if you'll pardon the expression), and Kelis didn't want to fit in the playlist anywhere - believe me I've been shuffling this on my iRiver since signing up. Also close were the kleptones and the stands - all years leaving.

front - back - cd


anti-telemarketing EGBG counterscript

My home phone is ex-directory, yet we still have telemarketeers phone up and hassle us - next time I'm going to be using this anti-telemarketing counterscript and time how long they take to get off the line.

Music as a birthright

A discussion last night over a pint led to my trying to put the case for children being given a copy of the red and blue beatles albums on being registered. Of course there's something a bit patronizing about it in the light of day, very middle-class, but I can't help but enjoy the idea of the beatles providing a shared musical birthright.

Andy and I went on to list music for children once they reach puberty - those slow songs at the end of school discos, an all too telling list that ended up defining hormonal driven angst for 30-33 year olds in Somerset and Kent.

1. Careless Whisper - george michael
2. Eternal Flame - the bangles
3. Move Closer - phyllis nelson
4. Who's going to drive you home? - the cars
5. I'm not in love - 10cc
6. The power of love - frankie goes to hollywood
7. I will always love you - whitters
8. Without you - harry nilsson
9. On my own - patti labelle & michael mcdonald
10.Lady in red - chris de burgh
11.Between the barricades - spandau ballet
12.I want to know what love is - foreigner
13.Alone - heart
14.Wind of change - scorpions

Now the real question did we miss anything?