the arvon foundation offers songwriting retreats as well as other writing classes. for a mere £500 you can learn how to write songs from ray davies himself!
but I love what is happening in the USA: the supreme court forbade the environmental protection agency to shirk its responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases. it is about effing time. perhaps there is hope after all. but what will happen to the EPA if they continue to pander to big business and do nothing? will they pay a fine? will they be put in prison? what?
travis and I went to the world premiere of scott walker: 30th century man at the london film festival last october and it was a fine film. there are countless interviews with pop stars listening to and commenting on scott’s musical genius, and there are some quite useless people being interviewed as well, but it is all worth it for the footage of scott himself in the old days and now, doing his crazy avant-garde stuff. I am not embarrassed to say that I prefer all the old stuff, the beautiful melancholy croons of his early solo albums, it is the stuff that helps you make it through the day. there is some behind-the-scenes stuff of him recording his latest LP, and there is lots of stuff that you will just definitely need to see. it is the kind of film that will be appreciated by music nerds like us. so go! there are screenings all over the uk.
the big news in new york this weekend is that roky erickson is going to play his first ever live shows there, so if you are lucky you will squeeze your way in the venues (april 13 at southpaw; april 15 at bowery ballroom) and witness what is sure to be a dang exciting evening. we will have a chickfactor representative sizing it up for you later, but in the meantime if you cannot get in you might want to watch the roky erickson biopic instead entitled you’re gonna miss me, which will be screening at manhattan’s cinema village on june 8 and showing at some other fine cinemas. I saw the film at the london film festival in 2005 — interestingly it was in the same week I saw the townes van zandt biopic, which at least focused on the great man’s music a bit. the roky film is fascinating but it does leave you feeling like you know a little too much about someone else’s dysfunctional family and because he doesn’t talk too much, it even feels a tad exploitative. nevertheless, it’s a fine document about a true american musical original and it is amazing what the man has survived. and while we’re on the subject of mercurial texans (though he wasn’t always a texan), if you haven’t seen jeff feuerzeig’s film about daniel johnston, it is out on dvd and we highly recommend it. roky is also playing a few summer festivals in europe so see him if you can.
here in london there are so many silly pop related musicals, such as the queen musical, we will rock you (or somesuch), mamma mia (which even stephin merritt turned his nose up at and he is the world’s biggest abba fan), and then in new york there are billy joel musicals, elton john mucking up musicals, even a beach boys musical. but now, at last, ladies and gents, it is the long awaited proclaimers musical!! okay, well, it’s true that they only made one truly great album (entitled this is the story, and the follow-up featuring that ‘500 miles’ song was pretty okay too. but in their moment, which was I suppose the late 80s, they were the tops. when I ran into a famous indie label kahuna one night in NY after I had just gone to see the proclaimers, he laughed at me. but then I made him a mixtape of their hits, and he confessed that yes, indeed, believe it or not they are cool (though perhaps a little less cool than the other reid brothers from some late 80s legendary noisypop band).
photo courtesy of the proclaimers themselves
we have known about it for ages — and I even posted a little interview with pam on the site but then she made me take it down because she is all shy and modest and stuff. but by now the secret’s out: that’s right, it’s the biggest news since that other song that has a ‘chickfactor’ reference, what was it called? that’s right: the shins wrote a song called pam berry. it was only a few summers ago we watched the shins open for belle & sebby, and now this. well, the boys have good taste.
one of the first songs I ever really, really loved and knew every word to and even sang in public with my best friend from third grade (who had white patent leather beatle boots and thought she was an olympic gymnast) was “both sides now” by joni mitchell. I never fell for her full on in the same way perhaps claudia gonson has or a few of my other mates but I can surely recognize that the woman has written some classic songs (I love “big yellow taxi” too). so why, I wonder, is the bbc out to get her? why do they have such issues with this woman? has she, like bob dylan, sold her soul to starbucks and victoria’s secret? I don’t think so. perhaps she is planning to. I don’t know, but can we just let her have her comeback, evaluate it and then decide whether she sucks or not (now)? for chrissakes, if you want to start deciding who should not be allowed to make another record, let’s start with natasha bedingfield or someone truly offensive. leave joni alone. yeah, the woman takes herself a little too seriously but so what? let her be.
pipas are heading to the us of a again, so don’t be silly, get your butt out to see them.
here is where they will be:
17 may: rickshaw stop in san francisco, ca w/ land of ill earthquakes
19 may: mustang club in modesto, ca w/ land of ill earthquakes
20 may: press club in sacramento, ca record club event w/ land of ill earthquakes, baby grand & buildings breeding
21 may: venue tbc in santa barbara, ca w/ land of ill earthquakes
24 may: knitting factory in los angeles, ca w/ the clientele!
27 may: venue tbc in new york city for nyc pop fest! w/ cause co-motion (a longstanding dream of ours to play with them!!)
08 june: bowery ballroom in new york city w/ the clientele