All in all – thoughts of Roger Waters The Wall

A slow, winding blade of green weaves across the ever-growing familiar white brickwork from the left side of the stage. Then another from the right. They wind slowly across the length of the wall – both to the centre and up – until they blend seamlessly into one of the most iconic animations from The Wall – the flower scene over Empty Spaces.There are a few albums that have moved me in ways I can still feel: Radiohead’s The Bends, Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence. But the one that has had the greatest effect on me – and still continues to do so – is Pink Floyd’s The Wall.Tonight I went to see the one-off showing of the new film by Waters which was about 80% concert show and 20% pilgrimage by Waters to visit the resting places of his father and grandfather. The thing as a whole went together beautifully.One of the songs that continues to get me each time I hear it is Vera – and this time was no exception. I was suprised to hear, in the discussion that followed, that this was Waters’ favourite song off the album.The songs I were looking forward to the most were Comfortably Numb, The Trial and Empty Spaces. I love how the full version of Empty Spaces gets used when performed live.The usage of some of the animations from the 1980s film of the wall were a nice touch too.All in all it was a great performance of The Wall.

First proper run in about two weeks

I’ve been in training for a half-marathon on the 18th October and two weeks ago I injured my knee. Well, I say injured, it started aching badly the day after and so I had to take a week off. After said week, I went out again and half way through that run it started to twinge again. So I walked back. Another week or so has passed and I have been on a six-mile run earlier this evening. So far no pains and really hope not to have any tomorrow. If I have to walk this half-marathon I’m going to do it. My aim is to do the 13.1 miles in two hours or less.

Thoughts on The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

In the tale of Squirrel Nutkin, the titular character is a young boy squirrel who keeps getting up to mischief. The other squirrels are all busy collecting nuts whilst Squirrel Nutkin tries to wind up old Brown – an old owl whose home is close to where they are collecting nuts. By the end of the short tail, old Brown gets fed up of Nutkin and physically deforms him – I won’t spoil it as to how.

I wonder if nowadays Squirrel Nutkin would be recognised as having some form of ADHD or similar? And would be handled accordingly – instead of old brown maiming him. Even in just the first two books by Beatrix Potter I’ve read, I’m noticing a theme of “If you play up or misbehave, you get punished”.

Nevertheless a good read.

Thoughts on The Tale of Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was an enjoyable little read. One thing that did stand out to me was the fact that out of the four rabbit siblings, the three girls were the well-behaved ones and Peter, the only boy, was the naughty little one who snuck on to Mr McGregor’s land. Was Beatrix Potter biased or am I reading too much into it? Nonetheless an enjoyable read.

Dave’s top albums of 2014

Lana Del Rey: Ultraviolence

If you were to tie me up, gag me and stick me in a remote location for the rest of my life — and I could only listen to one album again — it would be this one. Every single song on this album is golden. When you start the album, you enter into a dream-like world — a boundless world of raw emotion and energy. The album feels almost ethereal — as though you are walking in the abyss being sang to by an angel.

Stand out tracks for me include: Ultraviolence, West Coast and The Other Woman.

As an aside, I encourage you to buy the Deluxe Edition of this album – if only for the song Black Beauty. Black Beauty is one of my favourite of all of Lana’s songs. The transition from The Other Woman into Black Beauty, is one of the best song transitions I’ve ever heard.

Why Black Beauty wasn’t included on the regular album release, I have no idea.

Lorde: Pure Heroine

I first heard of Lorde when Weird Al Yankovic released his song “Foil” — a parody cover of Lorde’s “Royals”. My next taste of her music came from the Trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity. The song was a cover of “Everybody wants to rule the world” by Tears for Fears — and is phenomenal.

Her music isn’t like anything I have really heard before — she is her own thing. Her music and stage presence are up there with all the greats. I have since listened to this, her debut album, on repeat for the past two or three months and it never tires.

Stand out songs include: Tennis Court, Royals and White Teeth Teens.

Cherlene: Cherlene (Songs from Archer)

Archer is one of my favourite TV series of recent years. Fans of the show will know that series 5 of Archer — named “Archer: Vice” — was a temporary departure form the usual back drop of fictional intelligence agency ISIS.

During “Archer: Vice” Cheryl/Carol took on the new name of Cherlene, and was pursuing a career in outlaw country music. To my surprise, the songs that were featured throughout the show were compiled into this album. And before you think it’s just going to be a gimmick album, let me tell you it is not.

This is a genuinely good country album and can be enjoyed by anybody regardless of whether they have seen the show or not.

Stand out songs include: Danger Zone (a duet with Kenny-frickin-Loggins), Cherlene’s Broken Hearts and Auto Parts, and Eastbound and Down.

Foxes: Glorious

I came across Foxes through a Google Play recommendation. At first listen it didn’t strike me as something I would enjoy. But I gave the album a chance. And I’m glad I did. Glorious is an energetic, thoroughly enjoyable, synthpop album from start to finish.

It brilliantly mixes thumping pop anthems with haunting soundscapes — all tied together by this woman’s amazing voice.

Stand out songs: Let go for tonight, Night Glo and Echo. Also if you plan on getting the Deluxe Edition you will hear a live version of Clarity, which is worth getting just for that song.

Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer, Different Park

This album was a recommendation by Andrew Clarke, along with four other albums. This one stood out to me above the rest and has since recharged my love of country music.

Every song on this contemporary country album is a gem and I never tire of listening to it front to back. You can easily get lost in the stories and faultless melodies of Same Trailer, Different Park.

I should mention that this album was actually released in 2013. But since it’s so damn good — and I heard it first in 2014 — I decided to include it anyway.

Throwing mud up a wall

In my experience, learning is like throwing mud up a wall. On the first throw some will stick and some will fall off. Then on the second throw more will stick and so on and so on.

Whatever it is you want to learn or create, there really is no substitute for lots of hard work and practice. When first starting out you may cringe at what you have produced or may even find yourself comparing your work to that of much more experienced people, convinced that you’ll never be as good as them.

Nevertheless continue.

Keep on down your chosen path and if you feel the end is getting no closer to you, then you’ll have learnt a very important lesson in learning itself – the end of the path should never be reached.

If you get to a point where you truly believe that you have learned everything that you need to know, you’ll stop trying and, ultimately, stop caring.

Never let this happen.

You should keep throwing mud up the wall, metaphorically speaking, and when you think the wall is well and truly covered, move round to the opposite side and continue.

Just keep learning, keep getting excited about what it is you do, and keep working hard.

The people you admire and compare yourself against will have, and probably still are, going through similar thought processes to your own. They themselves will have their own heroes whose admiration they’ll seek and to whom they will compare themselves.

And who knows, keep working hard and you may just have people looking to you for inspiration in the near future.

Chrysta Bell At Oslo Hackney

On Friday 11th April my Girlfriend and I drove down to London for the weekend. It was a great weekend, with the nucleus of this trip was to see Chrysta Bell on her tour.

Who is Chrysta Bell?

Chrysta Bell is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Her voice is one of those that can both charm and haunt you. She commands the performance with such force that it is difficult to explain in mere words. You really need to experience it first hand.

She was touring on the back of an album produced and co-written by David Lynch. David Lynch is definitely present in both the album and on the night itself, but this isn’t just a case of “David Lynch produced it, therefore it’s awesome”. The album is awesome, believe me, but it is due to the equal talents of both David and Chrysta combined. Each on their own are unique and hugely talented, but together they produce something even more special.

I first heard Chrysta Bell in a song from David Lynch’s film Inland Empire. The song Polish Poem was used in the film to such a haunting effect. As soon as I found out about the Album they did together This Train, which Polish Poemfeatures on, I was immediately hooked on the music they were making together.

The Gig Itself

The gig itself was out of this world. Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks would be hard-pressed not to imagine themselves stood in the Road House, watching Chrysta in front of that red curtain. At least that’s how it was for me.

Her vocals were both soothing and haunting, with the melodies weaving throughout the crowd. Her band were great also. Chrysta, of course, was centre stage, but the band weren’t just a faceless few who played the music. The four of them as a whole played the songs with a firm understanding of each other’s rhythms and timing.

The performances that stood out for me were Swing with Me and a new song they played, the name of which I can’t remember. The only song that wasn’t performed that I would have loved to have heard live was Polish Poem. I can only imagine what that would have felt like. The venue did have a 10pm curfew, so maybe Polish Poem would have been performed without the time restriction.

After The Show

When the show was finished I was both happy and sad. Sad because a great show had come to an end, but happy because my Girlfriend and I got to meet Chrysta face to face. I had previously spoken to Chrysta over twitter and I arranged to buy her earlier album, Bitter Pills and Delicacies, directly from her. after the show.

From my own conversations with Chrysta, it is obvious that she cares deeply for her fans. I wasn’t surprised to see her mingling with the fans both before and after the show.

Thanks, Chrysta.

Cherlene’s New Album

Any fans of the TV series Archer will know that — while the rest of the ex-ISIS agents are figuring out what to do with a literal tonne of cocaine — Cheryl/Carol has renamed herself to Cherlene and is on her way to becoming the star of outlaw country music.

Archer is one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. As well as this I have been getting into listening to more country music thanks to this post by Andrew Clarke. So imagine my surprise when I found out that a full album of both original and cover songs sung by Cherlene herself had been recently released for digital purchase. Woooohoooo!

But this isn’t just a novelty TV series album filled with parody songs. This is actually a genuinely good country album. The songs are actually sang by country artist Jessy Lynn Martens, who is also classically trained on violin, mandolin and guitar.

The album also features a duet with none other than Kenny Loggins on a country version of Danger Zone — yes, it’s that good.

Cherlene Track Listing

  1. Danger Zone feat. Kenny Loggins
  2. Swing Shift
  3. Midnight Blues
  4. 40 Miles of Mountain Road
  5. Baby Please Don’t Go
  6. Cherlene’s Broken Hearts and Auto Parts
  7. I’ll Burn It Down
  8. It’s All About Me
  9. Eastbound and Down
  10. Chattahoochee Coochie Man
  11. Gypsy Woman
  12. Straight To Hell

If you only listen to one song from this album, listen to Danger Zone. But I promise if you do, you’ll probably end up listening to the whole album.

The Dvorak Keyboard

When I took a trip to Paris a few years back, I had to pop into an internet cafe to find the location of a place I was after. Because – it seemed – I was hopelessly ill-prepared.

So I paid my money to the nice man in the corner; sat down; quickly typed my search and hit enter, only to find I had been presented with an empty results page. It seems Google didn’t recognise ‘me wenith’ as a Parisian Live Music Venue. This is how I was introduced to the French keyboard layout.

In telling this story today to a friend, he introduced me to another layout that I had never heard of –  The Dvorak Keyboard (also know as the Simplified Keyboard).

The Dvorak Keyboard was originally patented by Dr. August Dvorak and his brother-in-law, Dr. William Dealey. It was developed to be an improvement over the well-adopted ‘qwerty’ layout that we still use today. The design of the Dvorak layout was based on much research into how people typed as well as percentages of the time spent typing in varying areas of the keyboard. It was stated that the Dvorak Layout would make it easier to type common words with the minimal of movement and finger strain.

Despite the research and slight adoption of this layout, it never really made it into popular use and so the ‘qwerty’ layout is still the primary keyboard used on western computers / devices to this day.

Jumping the Shark

The term jumping the shark, I discovered today, is an idiom that is a way of describing when a television show’s quality begins to decline. It originated from the television show Happy Days in its season five premiere, where The Fonz literally jumped over a contained shark on a beach front.

This was quite a step away from its usual family and adolescent related story lines set against the nostalgia of the 1950s.

The usage of “jump the shark” has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, or creative effort’s evolution declines.

Wikipedia, Jumping the shark

And here’s the clip: