Paper Swords

I get a lot of messages in my blog inbox from bands and promoters wanting me to review and post their new music.  There’s simply too much to listen to, and since this is not just a “music” blog, I tend to only post stuff when I really like the music and if the artist’s message is nice, and particularly if it’s personalised.

This week I got one such nice message from Paper Swords, an folk-rock quintet from Southern California, which has been quick off the mark into the studio – according to their biography they only formed this year! Here’s a little taste…

The band consists of Ryan Myers (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonium, piano), his brother TJ Myers (drums), Patrick Grant (bass), Russell Fletcher (trumpet, banjo, guitar, harmonium, vocals), and Teresa Ramallo (vocals, piano/keys, guitar).

If you like rich orchestrations and interesting songs, they’re worth checking out.  They do a particularly nice job of meshing TJ’s angular drumming with more traditional “folk” instrumentation – in this way they remind me a little of Laura Veir‘s erstwhile backing band Saltbreakers.

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a sucker for time signatures, so I have to recommend their song Bethseda, which is written in 21/8: but you’ll have to buy their EPWax Moon, Wane” to hear it! As a statement of intent, the EP is very impressive – hopefully there’ll be more music forthcoming soon!

A couple of sample tracks are available via their website, otherwise go to iTunes to pick it up.

Paper SwordsWax Moon, Wane [Buy on iTunes]

A week of it

If this post seems a little distracted, please excuse it. It’s been one of those weeks, with a lot happening and little respite in sight until Sunday evening. It all started with a having a fire at work on Tuesday, with real smoke and real firefighters and real evacuation.

Then French women insisted in putting dogs in baskets on the RER

The neighbours in my building started writing passive-agressive notes on the front door.

And then writing slightly irrelevant replies on the same notes.

I discovered that they are now advertising my favourite frozen pizza on the metro.

All of this while preparing for the inaugural concert of Les Concerts Gais (et Beaux) tonight at le Temple des Batignolles.

So, please accept my apologies for being slightly all-over-the-place at the moment. Once I find out what’s happening, I’ll let you know.

Lacune estivale

As anyone who follows this blog will notice, there hasn’t been much activity over the past week. Several topics were mooted. (Inter alia: racism in France, quality of life vs income, general annoyance at swish travel writers and foodies who rave about holidays in Languedoc, but have have never spent more than a fortnight here at a stretch, treating the place as some kind of thyme-scented culinary theme-park for their fabulous friends from Manhattan without regard for the region’s crippling rate of unemployment).

But none of these ideas ever got past the neural sub-editor in my blogocortex. In addition, a combination of heat, thesis-writing and job-hunting has been eating into time normally spent composing blog posts.

So, here’s a glass of wine from last night’s Estivales, and it comes with the hope that there’ll be some more action soon. A la votre.

Twittering Around Blighty

There’s unlikely to be any posts here for the next week – I’m spending 7 days in the UK for some meetings and catching up with friends, mainly in London, Birmingham and Oxford.

I’ve decided to leave my laptop and home, as a bit of an experiment to see if I can run my life from my HTC Diamond (pictured – it’s kind of like the Google Phone, but runs smelly Windows Mobile instead of Android).

I’ll be tweeting, so you can follow me on twitter, if you expect anything profound or amusing might cross my mind during the week.

Take care and see you soon!

etnobofin in the New York Times (almost)

Here’s a little Web 2.0 story. Over the past few years blogging has become an increasingly integral part of the media, for better or for worse, and one of the side-effects of this is that content produced by “normal” people (like me, I suppose)  is more likely to be picked up and used by major media outlets.

ReadWriteWeb is a tech blog run out of New Zealand, rated by Technorati as one of the top 20 blogs in the world. They published a piece yesterday about Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-Harvard inspiration for Facebook. Prior to Harvard, Zuckerberg was a student at Phillip’s Exeter Academy, and the photo they chose to illustrate the piece was a photo I took last year during my short trip to New Hampshire:

Phillips Exeter Academy in the snow – March 29th, 2008

I found out about the photo’s use via Paul Spence at Genius Net, who tweeted the news overnight. (See, I told you it was a Web 2.0 story)

For extra coolness, ReadWriteWeb content is syndicated to the New York Times site, so although the New York Times version of the story doesn’t contain the photo, I still get a credit at the bottom of the article.  Does this make me a citizen journalist or something ?

Restoration Drama

funny pictures of cats with captions

Like most pretentious and moderately creative people I know, I’ve always wanted to write a novel.  There are a few ideas and some stubs of chapters (brouillons) lying about, but I still lack the discipline or the drive to actually complete the task.

In the meantime, this blog keeps growing, and I realised recently that in fact, this blog is my writing project.  I put far more energy and time into it than I should. I love that a few people read it and occasionally comment, but it’s really personal satisfaction of having written something that drives me onward.


Which is why my database crash of October 2007 was really, really annoying – I lost all my posts from March 2006 to October 2007, including some work I was quite proud of.

Yesterday I discovered that some of my lost posts (mostly October and December 2006 and January 2007) had miraculously been saved in the Internet Archive. So with a little HTML trickery and a couple of hours work last night, I reloaded them into the blog in their correct chronological order.

It was fun to re-read some of the writing from this period, which I thought I’d lost forever. A few highlights include:

Rahsaan Roland Kirk at Montreux, 1972

Rahsaan Roland Kirk… the blind man who conquered the world through sheer force of will, talent and not a little mild insanity.  His performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1972 was captured for TV, and yes, he IS playing flute and recorder at the same time…

I have the audio album version copy of this performance, first released in 1996, it’s well worth checking out.

Some regular visitors may notice I’ve played around with blog’s look and feel, and the sidebar. There are also a few changes under the hood, hopefully making the site easier to maintain.  If you like/hate it, or have any suggestions for improvement, let me know!

Oh and Sport Direct in the UK are evil. Don’t shop there.

Blog Roundup

It’s a busy week. Given limited time to write anything original myself, here’s a round-up of some highlights from some other blogs sliding down the RSS feeds.

Aren’t the Canadians lovely people? Jean-François at Jazz Frisson in Montréal has posted some classic Hollywood jazz moments: Lionel Hampton/Benny Goodman/Tommy Dorsey/Louis Armstrong etc in 1948 and the Bing Crosby vs Louis Armstrong MC Battle from High Societyin 1956.

Sarah Laurence isn’t Canadian. But she’s from Maine, which is pretty close.  Last weekend she went hiking in the White Mountains... the autumn colours in Maine are in a different class to the brown sludge currently filling gutters here in Edgbaston.

Andrew Dubber has written in support of a Kids’ Radio Station for New Zealand.  Remembering how important radio was to me when I was young, this is a good idea long overdue.

Klari in Paris saw the Kings Singers in concert on Monday night. Ch’uis jaaaaalouuuux moi. Here’s a clip of them singing Ellington’s Creole Love Call: