Monthly Archives: November 2013

Raising Funds

It’s a bold new FaceOmeter experiment. I’ve spent the day editing videos, writing text, setting up bank accounts, and all the rest of it – and now, the crowdfunding campaign for the new FaceOmeter album is online. I’ve decorated it with Freya’s art, which I think makes for gripping viewing:

Jungle on a Giant Bird

…and which will be adorning the handsome CD cases of the finished product. Which you can own! All you have to do is click the link and donate as much as you feel able – various bonuses will wing their way to you in due course!

I have to say I’m nervous about this – I suppose it’s where I find out how many people I’ve managed to connect with in my ten years as a songwriter. But if it goes off well, we’re going to have an amazing record on our hands! Please share this as much as you can – tell everyone you know, and let’s make something special.

Album Teaser

I’m starting to put together the new record in earnest, so it’s time to titillate you with stupid videos about it. This one is about my home city of Birmingham, to which I’ve made an emotional return to finish the writing process.

I’ve really got the hang of HD video editing now (for ‘hang’ read ‘basics’), so this looks good, at least until you take into consideration the fact that it strongly features my face and voice. Enjoy, though!

Two New Tunes

In the last few days, I finished two new songs. One was devised by accident on Friday night and substantively finished by Saturday evening; the other I’ve been trying to write since on-and-off since November 2009, and have just drawn to a close in the last hour.

The two songs have stuff in common. They’re both character tunes and they’re both set in the American South. But musically they’re quite different: one is a wild rap-rock calypso whose lyrics are a nonsense poem, and the other is a Mark Mothersbaugh-style 808 beat and guitar which is also probably the closest thing to rock I’ve written since ‘Bad Calendar’ (for those of you who remember that).

‘Hippo Calypso’ is a tune about the infamous Hippo of the Mississippi, an inebriate with an annoying tail to tell anyone who’ll stop long enough to listen. In ‘The Singular Adventures of Sally the Tumbleweed’, meanwhile, our heroine struggles with an existence plagued by awkward silences (which, if you think about it, exist anywhere a tumbleweed goes).

A hippo ancestor, Anthracotherium magnum, emphatically not the Hippo of the Mississippi

They’re both pretty stupid songs and I love them both, but the difference in time spent writing each one did make me want to note their co-appearance with a little post. Even though I’m getting much more streamlined at writing, there still doesn’t seem to be any kind of relationship between the content or music of a song idea and the time it takes to produce. My whole career so far has been like this: ‘Stuffed Animals’ was a one evening job, ‘An Epiphany’ took over a year. I don’t know which is better, or if there’s any way of telling the difference. I do think there’s much to be said for striking while the iron’s hot: a possible problem I had with ‘Sally’ is that I came up with the story a few months before I decided it was a song, and the more embedded an idea like that gets the harder I find it to follow through on.

Fundamentally, though, the process remains mystical. I’ve no problem with that, because songwriting wouldn’t be what it is if we could explain it. But the dynamic fascinates me: it’s not like a cold, systematic, linear approach to songwriting never works. Ethereal, inspirational goo and hard toil aren’t opposites in this process, there’s a weird mixture of them, and its that mix that determines how the song will feel. These two are very different mixtures, but I think they feel good. I’m looking forward to playing them to you!