Category Archives: Musical Projects

Into the Sky!

Alright! Misty Roses just made their first appearance on the radio. Thanks to Terre T at WFMU!

Colin Blunstone: 'One Year' (CD; Sony; 1971)
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This is pretty cool stuff. Blunstone was the singer with the Zombies. I assume this is his first solo record following the band's split. It's an interesting mix of pensive pop. The production on it is a bit 70s pop for my taste, and things end up sounding very slightly Elton John-like at times. But overall, it just falls on the right side of that MOR sound, and I come away liking it. Blunstone's voice is very pretty, and saves a lot of the songs. 'She loves the way they love her' is a very cool opener. 'Say you don't mind' is a Bowie-like finale. More on this when I have a chance.

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Unfulfilled Potential

Work has been very busy, hence the silence.

Aside from that, we reverted the band’s name back to Stretcher Case and relaunched the website. We also pressed up 25 copies of our demo, which we’re sending out. The tracks are available in mp3 format here.

I’m also playing guitar in a Suede tribute band at Cinema Classics on Saturday March 30th. Should be fun.

I also have lots of secret undeveloped plans for expanding ‘musical taste’. More on these later.

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Until you love me

What did I do last night? Hmm, there’s no point in dressing this up. I made three really childish tracks incorporating the outrageous audio which came from Mike Tyson last week. I sampled a few choice tracks while making these, but I warn you, the beauty of the music does not make up for the disgusting nature of the words… If you want a taste of my childish sense of humor, this is at 20 seconds the shortest track.

Oh, and that isn’t all I did last night. I also stopped by the superb Tom Friedman exhibition at the New Museum. I actually didn’t know him by name before, but had stuck one of his photos (an incredible one of a huge crater left in the earth by what seems like it must have been a giant falling from a great height) to my diary a few years ago.

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Gavin Smith

I just spent a bit of time poking around my old angelfire site (born 1997, died 1999). I’m not linking to the site because it is really not recommended or interesting. However, I did dig up some audio oddities from there – things I had recorded and deposited there for some reason. My favorite is ‘hello‘ (it’s a 439kb mp3 file), a ridiculous Pet Shop Boys-influenced postcard to my friend Mark.

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I don’t mean to be morbid, but if anyone owns John Rydgren’s ‘Silhouette Segments’, listen to the track ‘the disadvantages of life’. It sounds very odd, listening to it now after the events of 11th September. Eerie talk of ‘things going up in smoke’… If you’re not familiar with this incredible release, check it out here (just over half way down the page there is cover art, a review and sound samples)

The DJ session was fun. I would rather have been doing it under different circumstances—everyone was rather subdued, and was obviously discussing current events—but still, I’m glad to have done it.

Here is a partial account of my set (from memory). It essentially started out very quiet and late 60s cinematic easy listening-centric, and then veered into Brazilian pop and Latin Jazz:

Piero Umiliani – la foresta incantata

Francis Lai – footprints on the moon

City of Westminster String Band – a picture of you

Charles Fox – a moment to share

Julie London – Like to get to know you

The 18th Century Corporation – walk on by

First Natural Hair Band – ripped apart by metal explosions

Walter Wanderley – Kee ka roo

Marcos Valle – Garra

Al Caiola – For a few dollars more

Augusto Alguero – Stay with me forever (bossa instr)

Bossa Rio – Saiupa

John Schroeder – Paramibo

Oscar Peterson – Sunny

Willie Bobo – Spanish Grease

Nico Gomez – Baila Chiquiban

Johnny Zamot – Boogaloo baby

Cal Tjader – Cuchy frito man

Xavier Cugat – Watermelon man

Nico Gomez – Rio

Hildegard Knef – Ferienzeit

Cal Tjader – solar heat

I didn’t get to play several things I meant to – e.g. Margo Guryan, Jorge Ben, The city of westminster string band version of ‘oh you pretty things’, Ronnie Aldrich’s ‘Do it again’, Scott Walker’s version of ‘Stormy’. I guess for some of these things there was just no time in the progression, and for others, they seemed a little too goofy to play that night somehow.

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In Hi-fi

Ok, I think I will get back to posting more regularly now. It has been interesting to observe the different reactions to last Tuesday’s events amongst my friends. Most people here in NYC have been as shaky, paranoid and generally distressed as I have, but people in Europe not surprisingly have a different outlook. My brother, who works in the financial district of London, was extremely shaken up at the time, but has now booked a trip to come and see me in a couple of weeks, as he had previously planned. Others have scoffed over people predicting the end of the world. Just because this atrocity was able to happen, some people are saying that *anything* can happen, and that’s ridiculous, they tell me. Well, maybe that’s true, but for me in NYC, it felt like armageddon, and is only just starting to feel better.

Anyway, on a happier note, my guest DJ spot has been rescheduled for tomorrow night, Thursday 20th September. It’s at Bar d’O, which is on the corner of Bedford and Downing Streets in Manhattan’s west village.

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Here’s something I don’t often do – post a new song. It’s a rough demo recording of a song I did for Stretcher Case. I actually quite like it (unlike all the other music of mine which I have posted here), so here it is: rough-houser (the file is a 64 kbps mp3 file, 1.1 MB).

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Only Shallow

I had a strong desire to buy records today. The ones I had in mind were Nicola Conte‘s ‘Forma 2000′ (?) and Gerardo Frisina‘s ‘Ad lib’. So I went all the way down to Other Music, only to find that they didn’t have the Frisina, and the Conte was available only as some cheesy American edition, renamed ‘bossa per due’ for the domestic market, with an ugly cover. I know now that I am fickle, because looking like that, I suddenly didn’t want to buy it at all. I went to Tower Outlet instead and spent less money.

Another band practice tonight. I’ve started putting a new website together for the band. At the moment there’s just a graphic there, but soon there will be more (mp3s, bios), as I try to promote the gig we have on August 28th. The site is at

Compilation - Francesco De Masi: 'Film Music, Volume 2' (CD; Vivi Musica; 1961-1984)
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Hmm. I bought this on the strength of the Easy Tempo compiled 'diamond bossa nova', and at 5 bucks it seemed a good deal. Alas, it's essentially an unstylishly put together mix of reasonably generic sounding film music. The disc includes selections from six different films. Although none of the others are bad exactly, only the last film, 'il racconto della giungla' is really to my taste - it has some cool organ and percussion and quite a nice groove to it...

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Well, I’m back and exhausted after my 6 day trip to England. I had an excellent if manic time, seeing several members of my family and a lot of old friends. I also bought a huge number of records. Due to the dollar weighted exchange rate ($1.40 to the pound) and the excellent sales on, I was able to get a huge number of excellent CDs for UKP 4.99, which works out at around $7, new and sealed.

I also got to hear the new Super Furry Animals album via a promo copy one of my friends had. From what I heard, it is really quite brilliant, an accessible psychedelic pop masterpiece. I was able to buy the new single, ‘juxtaposed with you’ before I got on the plane back.

On Monday I visited my hometown of Bedford, 60 miles north of London. It has become a strange place, with most shops having been either converted into pubs or taken over by charity shops. This was to my advantage, as I was able to trawl the numerous Salvation Army, Scope and Cancer research shops, picking up several excellent Brit-easy listening records for peanuts. The pick of which was probably John Keating‘s ‘Space Experience’, which is a genuinely cool moog record, far better than I had expected. England has definitely changed a lot since I left it in 1997; I must write a pretentious and self-indulgent essay about it some time.

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Wow, I got so stressed today I really thought I was going to lose it. But, no thanks to a certain travel agent, I didn’t, and am going to London tomorrow for a week. I might update this site. But I might start working out and eating meat, so I wouldn’t hold your breath. I’ll be back on Tuesday 9th July.

In the meantime, I have some news: it looks as if I have joined a band, as lead guitarist, possibly playing a bit of sax as well. It’s a dark, twangy, nicely retro sounding band, and I’m rather excited about the whole thing. Nice one.

I’ve also bought quite a few new records recently. No time to properly log them in, but if anyone else has the new Belle & Sebastian single, did you notice how the second track completely rips off a Lee Hazlewood song from ‘requiem for an almost lady’. It’s odd – it’s not even a very special melody which they steal, but it’s distinctive enough that I’m pretty sure they lifted it. They should stick to ripping off their own melodies – they do it so well!

I also made a very funky compilation for my friend Dan, who I’ll be seeing in London. I’ve added it to my compilations page. Cheers!

Scott Walker: 'Scott' (CD; Fontana; 1967)
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This is a pretty incredible album, full of strong emotions and dense orchestrations. I am utterly enamoured with Scott, yet there are definitely sides to his work which I greatly prefer over others. For example, this opens with 'Mathilde', one of his Brel covers, sung in a flamboyant, caberet style (he also does Brel's 'my death' and 'amsterdam' on this album). It's brilliant, and extremely fun when you're in the mood for it, but for me at least, that's not every day. However, I could listen to 'Montague Terrace in Blue', and especially 'Angelica', every day. Scott's croony, Sinatra-esque side comes out on great tracks like 'When Joanna Loved me' and 'You're gonna hear from me', while 'lady came from Baltimore' has a more folky, country-ish feel. Aside from 'Angelica', my favorites on this album are all written by Scott himself - the superb 'Such a small love' and the truly incredible 'always coming back to you', in which Scott mourns an old love with incredible lucidity and elegance.

note: the orchestrations on this album are by Wally Stott and Peter Knight. Peter Knight went on to orchestrate Elis Regina's 'Elis Regina in London' album, while Wally Stott went on to become a woman.

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