Monday, October 30, 2006

Quote of the day

"We all live on the other side of our appearances. Our faces belong more to others than they do to ourselves".

Antony Gormley, talking to Giles Hattersley in the Sunday Times.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Credit where credit's due

Thanks to Kenny for alerting me to the fact that Summer Sundae was named Best Small Event at the UK Festival Awards. To anyone like me who went this year, the news will come as no great surprise. Good to see the organisers getting the credit they deserve.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Quote of the day

"We in Britain have been with the United States every step of the way in many of the appalling things it's done over the last few years. Ours is a 'special relationship', we're constantly being told, albeit the kind of 'special relationship' that exists between a businessman and a prostitute."

British comic and regular writer / performer on US news satire 'The Daily Show' John Oliver, writing in Sunday's Independent.

I really must start watching 'The Daily Show'.

And, while I'm on the subject of comedy, some bitesize thoughts on recent series:

'Extras': patchy.

'That Mitchell & Webb Look': frequently inspired.

'Man To Man With Dean Lerner': it had its moments but serious room for improvement with the second installment on Friday.
Jukebox jury

If you're a fan of the music content of SWSL, may I gently coax you in the direction of The Art Of Noise, the collaborative music blog I co-write and co-administer?

In particular, you may recall the weekly A-Z Of Music feature we ran a while back (it all kicked off here). Well, that ran its natural course, and its (belated) successor is called In The Dock. The brainchild of Jonathan of Crinklybee, each week it takes a subject and pits two music fans against each other, one presenting the case for the prosecution and the other the case for the defence.

Always good to start off with a bang, so for the inaugural feature it's loveable Scouse scamps / outrageously overhyped foursome The Beatles, with Lord Bargain and Del the bloggers slugging it out. To take a look at the feature and give your verdict, click here.
Melting moments

Cardiff's a smallish place and it doesn't take long for word to get around. In the wake of debut gig on UK soil the Thursday before last, Lily Green has managed to secure herself a slot on the Meltdown bill at Clwb Ifor Bach this coming Sunday.

Unfortunately it's looking unlikely that I'll be able to make it - but thankfully she's also playing the Halloween bash being thrown at The Model Inn by F.A.G. two days later. Hallelujah...

Saturday, October 21, 2006



That Difficult Second Blog - a kindred spirit (well, kindred Jesus & Mary Chain fan) finds it impossible to stay away from the blogging fray, for which we should all be thankful

A Journal Of The Men In My Life - My Boyfriend Is A Twat meets Girl With A One-Track Mind (via Smaller Than Life)

... and a couple more, both of whom triumphed at this week's Manchester Blog Awards, courtesy of another newbie to the SWSL blogroll Manchizzle:

Yer Mam! - named as Best Arts And Culture Blog, a site whose author James has a bit of a thing for The Long Blondes (understandably, I might add)

The 43 - named Blog Of The Year and consisting of brilliant travel writing with a difference


Girl enjoys / endures her first book signing session.


Jonathan has been busy, taking in gigs by The Lemonheads, The Young Knives and British Sea Power.

Simon offers us the inaugural Sweeping The Nation Covermount CD entitled Be My Babies, featuring 21 songs which all incorporate the distinctive drumbeat from The Ronettes 'Be My Baby' in some form or other.

And finally...

RussL gears up for this year's Going Deaf For A Fortnight challenge / endurance test, as pioneered by Pete last year. Will it become an annual West Midlands tradition? Only time will tell...
"I'm stuck, I say I'm stuck!"

Reasons Why 'Coronation Street' Is The Best Thing On Television #517: Fat Fred Elliott's coffin getting stuck on the "runway" into the cremator (if that's what it's called?).

It's at times like these that I really rue the demise of Musings From Middle England, which did 'Corrie' commentary better than anyone else...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Green is the colour


It's John Peel Day, and the bill for tonight's gig (put on by F.A.G.) is suitably eclectic ie bizarrely but somehow workably diverse.

After a solo performer kicks the night off armed with nothing but her voice and an acoustic guitar, Gender Fascist take to the stage - or, at least, they would have done, if the upstairs room at the Hawaiian had a stage. As it is, they're on the floor, very much in amongst us. "Provocative performance punk terrorists" is probably be the description the twopiece would wish for - the sort of band that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs of yore would have invited to play one of their loft parties.

Certainly, with one member attacking a heavily distorted bass and later a metal bin, and the other screaming vocals whilst beating on a saucepan with a spoon, tunes and talent don't really come into it. But when it clicks - and it does at least a couple of times during the ten minute six-or-seven song set, with the songs about Aberystwyth gay clubs and bicuriosity - it's both potent and fun.

Lily Green is radically different again. Having moved from New Zealand in the summer, Lily is playing her first gig in the UK - and it's immediately obvious this environment is too small for her considerable talents.

A virtuoso piano player with a rich and sensuous voice, she charges the intimate atmosphere with electricity, holding the rapt attention of all those present from the off. Lily's classical training is evident, but her songs are not merely show-off-ish workouts - there is an astonishing force and anger channelled into her performance, and she often seems abandoned in the moment, drawing us into that same abandonment.

The closest reference points I could give would be to Tori Amos and perhaps (when the laptop is brought into play) Bjork, but those comparisons are clumsy and should only really be read as an indication that Lily is (a) female and (b) a musical maverick. Cardiff should just be thankful that this is where she washed ashore.
Know Your Enemy

"Naively, I suppose, I was rather startled by the amount of extra-literary white noise there was, getting in between us and our books. First there's the apparatus on the proof-copies, which I know is now a necessary part of the publishing process. But I did begin to develop an allergy to phrases like 'unputdownable' or 'must-read of the year' or 'fast-page-turner'; for the adverb 'deeply' (as in compassionate, sympathetic, moving - but never as in 'putdownable'); and for the 'X meets Y' formula, as in 'Ian McEwan meets John le Carre, or (my favourite) 'Roddy Doyle meets Angela Carter'.

I began to ask myself why the promise of '£100,000 marketing campaign including Central London bus sides' or 'samplers to be handed out on the streets' or 'plasma screens at key commuter stations' should convince me this was a novel worth reading. I treated with suspicion the novel which came with a red strap-line on the cover reading 'Man Booker 2006 Submitted!', or which told me 'The Ultimate Experience Is About To Begin', or that it had taken 30 years to write, or which announced itself as 'unforgivably nasty' or 'appallingly intelligent'.

I began to fantasise about manuscripts arriving in brown paper wrappers, with no name, no author photograph, no praise, and no biography. Well, why not? an anonymous Man Booker prize!

Another form of pressure I'd not really thought about before, since I've usually been on the other side of the fence, comes from reviewers who want to tell the judges their business. 'Booker judges, take note!', coming from a reviewer whose views you particularly dislike, makes it hard to do justice to that particular novel. 'This author's superiority to the average put him well beyond the competence of Booker judges' struck me as an encomium that could backfire.

Writing in the Guardian, Hermione Lee, chair of the Booker judges this year, is unsurprisingly sick of "extra-literary white noise" ie publishers' guff. "Appallingly intelligent"? I know what she means...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quote of the day

"History is written when the consequences of men's actions are known, so that everything seems determined by what went before; but it is made by men who cannot foresee the results of what they do and can only guess at what they may be".

Goronwy Rees, from 'A Winter In Berlin' in 'Sketches In Autobiography'.

Might I suggest that this sentiment would go down well with Messrs Blair and Bush? Though perhaps they could have hazarded a better guess at what would be the consequences of their actions...
Feel good hits of the 17th October

We've not had one for a while, so here's a bumper edition of my recent earworms / listening fixations...

1. 'Exhuming McCarthy' - REM
2. 'Kevin Is Gay' - Giant Drag
3. 'The Decision' - The Young Knives
4. 'Milano' - Sigur Ros
5. 'If Only The Moon Were Up' - Field Music
6. 'Patience' - Lily Green
7. 'I Saw You In The Hall' - Semifinalists
8. 'Pissing' - Low
9. 'The Farmer's Hotel' - Silver Jews
10. 'Bad Dreams' - The Keys
11. 'My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion' - The Flaming Lips
12. 'If You Could Read Your Mind' - Clinic
13. 'Settle For Nothing' - Rage Against The Machine
14. 'Velvet Girl' - Howling Bells
15. 'Hate To Say I Told You So' - The Hives

I think it's safe to say that I'm only now discovering what a good record the Silver Jews' Tanglewood Numbers is. Ditto REM's Document...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Field of their own


"We'll be playing for about half an hour. You're missing 'Extras' for this. "We" being The Keys - not the American swamp-blues-revivalist duo (that'd be The Black Keys) but the psychedelic-garage-revivalist fourpiece from the Valleys. One of them used to be in Murry The Hump and they've put out a single on Too Pure, you know.

On occasions it's difficult to see quite what Too Pure heard in them - those occasions, such as the song I presume from its mantra-like chorus is called 'Eyes Of The World' - because they come across as a lethargic Oasis covers band. But at their best, they're like Spiritualized or The Brian Jonestown Massacre covering The Kinks - in other words, quite a prospect. 'Bad Dreams' (which you can download here) brings the set to a particularly satisfying conclusion.

Like 'Extras', then - a bit inconsistent. But, unlike 'Extras', more good than bad.

Field Music were responsible for one of my favourite albums of last year, but they and their self-titled debut remain criminally underappreciated. One suspects that they're sick of reading about their "connections" - for the record, Peter Brewis used to drum for The Futureheads, whose Barry Hyde was once a member, while Maximo Park's Tom English has also filled in on drumming duties on occasion - because they're very much their own band.

Rather than limiting themselves to the jerky, juddery post-punk palette, as their North-Eastern associates tend to, Field Music use those same colours in a more creative way, painting prettier, poppier pictures.

Tonight the core trio of Peter Brewis and his brother David, who switch between guitars and drums, plus keyboard player Andrew Moore begin with four unfamiliar songs on the bounce, all presumably taken from new album Tones On The Town which is due for release in January. While recognisably Field Music tracks, they don't seem to have the same lushness and sparkle in the eye - but then that's quite possibly owing to their unfamiliarity.

(Incidentally, is it just me who feels a little guilty at that rush of relief that comes when a band plays something you know? After all, a good live set isn't necessarily one which is stuffed full of crowd-pleasers - why shouldn't bands try out new or different things?)

When the old material does come, the likes of 'If Only The Moon Were Up', 'Shorter Shorter' and set-closer 'You're So Pretty' are welcomed enthusiastically by those of us who've heard it - but there remains a nagging feeling that live the songs don't quite match up to their recorded counterparts, a sense that - as good as it is - they can't quite do justice to the melodic, clever and artful pop of their debut.

It doesn't help that new single 'In Context' has to be aborted when the bass decides not to work, but no matter, the band seem to be enjoying themselves anyway, all smiles when performing an impromptu rendition of 'Happy Birthday' Brian May style on request, and claiming Clwb is the best venue of the tour so far because "we've got towels".

It's a travesty that a band of their originality should be grateful for the supply of such mundane things as towels, but unfortunately that's the situation in which they currently find themselves. This live performance may not have been wholly convincing, but hopefully the new album will help to get them the popular acclaim they deserve.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Public service announcement

If you've arrived here while looking for the MySpace page of a girl called Sarah from Glasgow, then you've come to the wrong place - that page, which is also called Silent Words Speak Loudest but which is nothing to do with this site, can be found here.

I don't know - you carelessly fling together a pretentious-sounding blog name and four years later it gets picked up by someone else. A weird kind of tribute, perhaps, but it's always good to know one still has the power to connect with The Kidz.

Update: Sarah's renamed her site It Was Meant To Mean More Than This. Cheers Sarah.

(There's not much there, but for what it's worth the SWSL MySpace site is here.)
Blogwatch: in brief

Girl is venturing out to meet her public, with a book signing at the Islington branch of Borders next Thursday (19th) at 6pm. Great to see she's keeping the blog going, despite all the turmoil and upheaval of the last couple of months.

On a bookish theme, my favourite post of the past few days is undoubtedly Pete's considered, well-written and thought-provoking piece about the bookselling industry in general and Waterstones in particular.

Simon is looking for potential contributors for a new feature he'll be running on Sweeping The Nation next month: "What will happen is every day throughout November we'll be featuring a different contributor writing about a single track that may have been overlooked from the top pantheon of pop craft but should be lauded all the same. So, picking a song that isn't 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and telling our readers in just enough detail why it's so great, and we'll chuck in an mp3 to back your words up". If you fancy it, drop him an email (addresses available by following the link above).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fighting the good fight

The Guardian's Laura Barton profiles twenty of the best independent record shops in Britain. No surprise to see Rough Trade heading the list and Monorail and Avalanche also featuring, but from a personal perspective it's good to see three of my favourites merit a mention: Sister Ray in Soho, Selectadisc in Nottingham and Spillers in Cardiff.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Know Your Enemy

"I've always liked people who mess up. I don't like career people - it doesn't seem very appropriate when it comes to music which is about something emotional. Reading an interview with Razorlight is just like reading The Economist, saying 'Yeah, well we're going to be really big in America and we think this album's going to follow up the next one' - that's what the record company should be saying, not the people in the band".

Jarvis Cocker, talking to NME, with a sharp word for "career bands". Strange how he plucked the name of Razorlight out of the air, isn't it? And unfortunate that NME seems to exist solely to pander to such bands these days...

Even more forthright are the opinions expressed in his new single about those who run the world - take a look here. (Thanks to Swiss Toni for the link.)

One other bit of Jarvis-related news: he's going to be editing the forthcoming issue of Observer Music Monthly, and he's been asking for suggestions for "unintentionally scary songs" (not all of those who've left comments have quite grasped the "unintentionally" bit... The magazine will contain Jon Savage's review of Jarvis' new album - apparently it "may very well be the greatest ever made". Nothing like buttering up the guest editor, is there?
This week on Stylus

Mike of Troubled Diva reviews the Queer Noises 1961-1978: From The Closet To The Charts compilation, as put together by Jon Savage, author of 'England's Dreaming': "The album concludes, almost inevitably, with Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” the first major hit single by an openly gay act, here re-contextualised as a moment of triumph for gay culture, ushering in a new era of visibility and acceptance—but you can probably collate your own history from here, as the signposts are clearly marked. It is to the lasting credit of Savage’s wildly uneven but fascinating compilation that this hitherto shadowy first chapter can now be filled in".


Mike Powell suggests that, with I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, Yo La Tengo are standing still.

Derek Miller scours Beck's The Information for evidence of his reputed fascination with Scientology and decides that "for better or worse ... [the album] is both exactly what you feared it might be and also a document of some of Beck’s best groove-based material since Midnite Vultures".

Monday, October 02, 2006

Blogwatch: in brief


Non-Working Monkey - a great blog which I, like many others, discovered thanks to JonnyB's comments box. Its author may not thank me for mentioning this again, but you've got to love any blog that features a post with the line: "So how come I've just found chewing gum embedded in my ladygarden FOR THE SECOND TIME?".


Girl With A One-Track Mind is interviewed by a woman whose husband once bit the head off a live bat (thanks to Betty for the link).


Mike successfully navigates his way to the end of his post-a-day September challenge, concluding by considering the ways in which he is and is not "a clapped out has been". For my money he's definitely not - a man with that much stamina...

Salvadore Vincent gives us an insight into the rigorous research that goes into his writing.

Jonathan has a dilemma regarding his new local Polish grocery store (not to mention some doubts over whether it is even truly Polish).

And finally...

After a brief hiatus JonnyB is back with a vengeance beard and tales of staircase-related disasters.
Know Your Enemy

"The thing that disappointed me most about Updike is that he did not say in that review that he had just completed a novel about terrorism. He had to sweep me out of the way in order to make room for himself. I don't subscribe to the very predominantly English admiration of Updike. If you take away 'Rabbit Is Rich' and 'Rabbit At Rest', and some of the short stories, there's a lot of ... slightly ... garbage. Think of 'The Coup'! The new one ['Terrorist'] is beyond awful. He should stay in his parochial neighbourhood and write about wife-swapping, because it's what he can do."

Judging by this comment (taken from the interview in Saturday's Guardian), Salman Rushdie is still seething about the reception John Updike afforded his last novel 'Shalimar The Clown' in the New Yorker last year.

Interviewer James Campbell's throwaway comment that "After Cambridge, [Rushdie] worked in London at a firm of advertising copywriters" reminds me of a coincidental conversation I had on Saturday night. Did you know that Rushdie was behind the 1980s "Naughty but nice" slogan for cream cakes?
Quote of the day

"He looks great and I would jump at the chance to work with him."

Tom Cruise on his new bezzie mate David Beckham. Acting ability clearly means nothing to the diminutive Hollywood star egotistical shortarse. As if we didn't already know that...