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i am winston echo

(this is my blog so i get to say whatever i like. have a quick look and you'll see there's mp3s available, if you want to listen to them try streaming by all means but sometimes it doesn't work too well, in which case right click and save and listen at yr leisure. also, if you find that yr in a position to get upset at me posting these mp3s and would like them taken down then please let me know and i'll chop em ok? also also, go and buy music as well cheapskates) look at the rest of my site
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Your own adventure

On saturday night we all had good fun at the Fishmarket for the opening of the James Jessop and Harry Pye exhibition.  I got lumped with the 'setting up sound gear' job which always stresses me out (though I can't complain too much as I did volunteer, but I do like complaining) but after that got done everything went mostly smoothly.  It was strange seeing the Fishmarket actually looking like a place you'd want to spend time in, very very exciting.  Also, it was very nice seeing everyone who had worked so hard to get it all done, and they've done a great job, able to let their hair down and have nice evening.  A big hand for everyone.

So, what have I been doing.  I recently started working on a little book which eventually I'm gonna photocopy and make available in my shop and wherever else I can.  It's a project I've been talking about doing for some time and I thought I'd better just get on with it and stop procrastinating.  It takes the form of one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books that were popular in the 80s and 90s.  (You might not remember them but apparently the series sold over 250 million copies, so I'm not making it up.)  So, here's a page of the story, it's pretty weird.

Figuring you’ve developed some new and cruel allergy to out-dated dairy products, your stomach instantly does backflips and you run out to the street, instantly hurling your guts into the gutter. This lasts about 10 minutes and you can taste every meal from the past week spilling from you in slow motion. Gross. You gradually regain some semblance of composure, reminding yourself that illness is for the weak and you are better than this, sure you’ve turned into some weird cartoon-ish comedy creature, but in your mind your still a strong independent human being with a conscience and a soul and tickets to see Rod Stewart this weekend. The thought of Rod Stewart forces another little bit of sick up out of your throat. Tears start to well up in your eyes and, unknowingly, you begin to walk towards the town centre. Looking up towards the sun you can actually see and hear the clouds moving, whooshing through the air, you also notice the birds darting in all directions desperately trying to avoid the same moving clouds. It takes a little while to work it out but apparently the clouds are chasing the birds, round and round, about seven clouds to fifteen birds.

Hypnotised.

Then something happens. As your eyes start following one particular bird which seems to be struggling with a damaged wing being toyed with by the clouds, the birds manage to escape and fly away to the safety of a nearby tower block. The clouds have stopped darting about and are now all hovering in close formation, and you can’t be sure because they don’t have eyes, but they seem to be focussing on you. Everything’s getting colder and your starting to get a bit scared which is understandable. Like bees and dogs and bus drivers, clouds can apparently smell fear and to them it smells like lunch. Fear turns to the much tastier panic as all seven clouds combine as one large mega cloud and momentarily form a large hand with an index finger pointing straight between your eyes. “Gulp.”

What next?

“I’m not one hundred percent certain but it has occurred to me that this cloud could potentially cause me a measure of bodily harm. I’m not normally a coward but on this occasion I think I’ll make my excuses and leave.”

Or“I bet you I have probably got some really cool special powers, it seems only fair to compensate my loss of good looks with something helpful.”

Now for some music to tide you over (as if anyone is actually still reading this.)  First is a track by Cradle Of Smurf from Strasbourg, France, a mostly electro pop act with art rock tendencies, this track is instrumental but they aren't all instrumental, and you can dance to it.  Then there's a pair of 13 year old girls from Portland, Oregon (indie capital of the world don't you know?) called Blübird, and their song is about global warming.  It's nice.  Listen.  (sorry i'm not writing more, but my eyes are weak from monitor burn)

Cradle Of Smurf - Lactina Park

Blübird - What If We Don't Want To Be Warm?


Posted by winston at 12:09 PM BST
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Press 'random' and repeat

If you spend too much time on the wild wild web (like me) you'll always find things to do, like this blog for instance.  Other things you'll realise are how quickly your tan fades and some people dress funny.  I've kinda become fascinated by the lengths some people go to for fancy dress costumes.  Isn't strange how people can spend there lives being resolutely UNcreative, but give them a chance to dress up funny and they suddenly become a cross between Roy Lichtenstein and Liberace.  Here's some of my recent (kind of) favourites.

I think they're pretty good.  Here's some completely unrelated MP3s for you to listen to while searching google for your own favourite costume.  Montana Pete, Liars, Abe Vigoda and Young Marble Giants.

Montana Pete - Jungle Jane

Liars - We're Still Young Enough To Lay Face Down In Front Of The Speakers (Peel Session)

Abe Vigoda - The Walk

Young Marble Giants - An Ode To Booker T


Posted by winston at 3:06 PM BST
Monday, 2 April 2007
Drum vs, Keyboard

God, I'm getting really slack with this aren't I?  But, hey, hey, nobody's forcing you to read it, and if all you've got to complain about is the fact that I'm not posting twice a day, then you've really got too much time on yr hands (much like myself.)  Besides, I do have other things going on y'know.  For instance...

Last week (and a bit) we did a couple of Undereducated shows.  These were the first we've done at The Fishmarket so it was kind of an experiment, especially considering the amount of building work going on at the moment.  I've got nothing but praise for everyone at The Fishmarket, and over the next few months we'll all be able to see how the whole project will start to pan out.  It's all pretty exciting.

Ill Ease came to play on a thursday.  As with both nights, it was incredibly cold, but we we're all wearing coats and gloves so what's all the whining about?  Also complaining about the cold was National Parks (who is Luke, and my good friends at Kooky are apparently releasing his first EP soon) and Thee Moths (and it will always remain a mystery to me why Alex is not considered in much higher regard, the man is ridiculously prolific and ridiculously imaginative, I pretty much hate him.)  Ill Ease (Liz Sharp from Brooklyn, NY) is a wonderful musician, and armed with sample pedals and live loops she really putting on a mesmerising show, jumping between guitar, bass and drums and creating some dark party jams through the chilly evening air.  There weren't many people in attendance but who cares?  I'm pretty sure everyone went away having learned something.

Ill Ease - Two Party System

Grabba Grabba Tape came to play on a saturday.  GG Tape (as they shall now be known) were having a terrible time, their keyboards had been misplaced somewhere in midday during their flight from madrid courtesy of the ever inefficient Ryanair (later we also discovered they had misplaced a couple of drum stands also) leaving me to beg and borrow some alternative gear.  Help arrived in the form of Thrulk (who were opening and did so in spectacularly obtuse fashion), who came through the doors armed with more keyboards than any one band could possibly need.  The lovely girls of Hip Hip Handmade, after taking charge of a whole day of craft market-ing, had arranged some craft activities for the evening.  With the help of many hands I made a robot head.  If you've not seen Grabba Grabba Tape before then you really need to make a bit more effort.  Dressing like neon pink and marshmallow white yetis and pounding away at drums and synth and yelping through vocoder and smile-worthy Rage Against The Machine and Minor Threat covers equals a wicked good time. 

Grabba Grabba Tape - Mainor Zret (Minor Threat cover)

In other news, The Fishmarket is having a launch for their new exhibition of work James Jessop and Harry Pye.  I think it's gonna be rad, but that's just my opinion.  It's this saturday from 6pm, if yr around you should come along, it'll be good.  There's a sweet band playing too.


Posted by winston at 3:43 PM BST
Monday, 19 March 2007
Friends (part 2)

(see part 1)

My friends really are the most inspiring people I know. I'm sure this is the same for everyone, whether they realise it or not. Would you have read that book or seen that one film if yr friend hadn't recommended it? What makes you happier than seeing yr friends succeed? Yr friends are yr friends for a reason and it's nice to sometimes take a step back and look at the things that make yr friends so great... go on... take a moment...

...right, now yr back in the room, I want to tell you a little bit about the group which forced me to do what I do, and I'm really glad to be able to call them friends.

I first saw Lesbo Pig at Truckfest many moons ago. They used to be based in Oxford and then moved to London before kind of splitting up. They decided to do some different things (which I'll go into in a bit) but I always love to go back and listen to their 3"CD At Home With Lesbo Pig and trying to work out how much I ripped them off when I started writing Winston Echo songs. This track here is from a Homocrime compilation (which I also had a song on) I'm pretty sure it was recorded for an old Careless Talk Costs Lives radio show, but don't hold me to it.

Lesbo Pig - Tokyo

Along with a pair of characters called Michal and Lisa, Irene has pushed Lesbo Pig to one side and started shouting loads in the rock band Corey Orbison (or The Corey Os or The Corey 'Boring' Orbisons.) Based mostly in possibly my favourite part of the country, Bristol, Corey Orbison play fast and loud and I am quite comfortable in saying that Michal has one of the wildest vox going. These kids are involved in so many supercool extra-curricular activities it's unreal, most notably Local Kid and Cafe Kino, which I haven't visited yet but I'm sure is suitably amazing.

Corey Orbison - I Cut Things Up

Now then, Ros is close to being a proper Rock Star. As well as her own songs as Ray Rumours, queer punks The Battys and Spanish language campfire pop band Sisisi Sisisi Sisi, Ros plays bass guitar and other instruments for the international megastars Electrelane. I've played with Ray Rumours a bunch of times and it's always always amazing. Undereducated got to release her first CDr (along with our friends at Stitch-Stitch) and it really is beautiful. This song is a new one I believe.

Ray Rumours - Tomorrow

In Other News. I'm doing a column for Music For Squares magazine, it's all written up and will be in the new issue, due in April. If you read it let me know what you think. Also if yr not in Northampton (it's local) and would like to see a copy let me know and I'll see if I can't pop one in the post for you.


Posted by winston at 10:28 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007 10:40 PM BST
Sunday, 11 March 2007
Constructive

 

Not everyone can take criticism.  I found this out today courtesy of the people that run Decades, the mid-to-late 90s themed bar/club/venue in Northampton.  I made a few comments on this very blog a while ago, which were apparently read by the landlord and have led to me being banned from the venue.  It is a shame because I played a nice gig there.  It's also a shame because it left me totally stressed out trying to arrange something for Esiotrot this thursday.  They're still playing there thanks to Closed Captioned but I'm not allowed to go.  I find it all a bit immature really.  It's quite easy to get in touch with me through this blog, which would've been vastly preferable to this kind of vaguely threatening tactic.  Oh well.

On a lighter, much more special note, Undereducated are currently booking another UK tour for Thanksgiving in June.  Adrian Orange (for that is his real name) is truly one of the most inspirational people I've been lucky enough to spend time with (despite the fact he's a couple of years younger than me, the bastard), and through his label, Marriage Records, has released a veritable plethora of fantastic albums.   (Whilst we're talking Marriage Records, I'm totally loving Drakkar Sauna's bare bones folk at the moment.)  He'll be touring with the ever charming Francois and we'll be bringing the pair of them to the ever reliable and often wonderful Labour Club in Northampton on June the 8th.  You can't believe how excited I am about this.

So, here to play us out with a track from his album Cave Days And Moments, Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving - (You Belong To The) Blood


Posted by winston at 9:57 PM BST
Sunday, 25 February 2007
Tough Punx!

:)
Sometimes everything's quite good.  Even though I feel ill, pretty bad, with flu and aching body parts and a vague sense of being at death's door (a bit over the top, maybe), in spite of all of this some days just work out pretty well.  Friday was one of those days.  I played a show at the Labour Club with Foxes and Little Cosmonaut who were both very good, and you can read a bit about them if you look through some older posts.  Unlike some other shows, my set went quite well.  Sure I screwed up a few songs but that's just what I do, but overall I really enjoyed and it seemed like most of the audience did too.  EXCEPT, except for a couple of guys sat right next to the stage.  They'd had a few drinks, got a little rowdy, and, they were punks.  Y'know, real punks.  Like with the spiky hair and combats and Doc Martins.  (For the record, I'm not sure exactly how punk you can really call these kind of fashion choices, these kids still have to go into shops and buy these clothes and they still try and look just like 1977.  What's the difference between this and the Mod revival?)  Punk kids are tough and that means they don't like twee indie pop and they can certainly shout louder than I can.  Hey it's all in good fun, I wasn't too bothered by it all really. 

Now, 'punk rock' has never really appealed too much to me.  I love The Ramones, but I always found the British take on the genre a little too caught up in spitting and safety pins and standard guitar to get too excited (I'm sure it was great being there at the time but in retrospect it just doesn't appeal to me.)  I've always been more interested in punk as an idea, as opposed to a genre or fashion trend.  The idea of doing what you love and using the resources you have available to get it done.  That being said, I do love some really good, fast and loud pop with a bit of punk thrown in. These 2 mp3s are by bands who I don't really know much about at all, I simply stumbled across their websites by chance and found that the songs totally stuck with me.  So have a listen to Dumb Haircuts and The Coathangers.

Dumb Haircuts - Kill The Trees

The Coathangers - Shut Tha Fuck Up


Posted by winston at 7:50 PM GMT
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
To Brighton on Autopilot

Last year I read the Graham Greene book Brighton Rock, and very good it was too. Painting a scary and violent picture of the Brighton criminal underworld from the pier to the racecourse. On the weekend I went to Brighton and didn't see any of that, though I did get shouted at by some woman who seemed to be pretty messed up for midday on a sunday (y'know, probably on crack or smack or The Knack or something.)

I had gone down to see my good friends The Retro Spankees (see my 'Friends (part 1)' post) playing on their tour with my arch-enemies Das Wanderlust with Bearsuit headlining. Whilst I was at university I was totally in love with Bearsuit, constantly worrying about wearing out their 7"s (and this was way before they graduated to them shiny discs), but never ever getting the chance to see them live. I knew every note of those early singles and it was always exciting to hear of a new release. However, whenever I do get to see them now I kind of feel a bit sad about it all. It's great to hear the songs and it's lovely to see them playing but it I think maybe it reminds me of how cynical I've become recently. I'd have loved for them to be dead famous right now but I don't think it's ever going to happen, and I think it's almost as if they'll never stop doing what they did 6 years ago, but they'll also never really do much more than that. I think it would also help if the crowd at whatever Bearsuit show I'm at appeared to love them half as much as me, atmosphere can be such a downer. I know it's not really fair to feel nostalgic about something that's still current but that's how it is.

God I'm a miserable bastard. SO to cheer myself up a bit I looked up the video for Steven F***ing Spielberg, which is Bearsuit's most recent single and is also fucking ace, so maybe I should just keep my big mouth shut. They're still better than just about everyone else.

Oh, and I just found this, it's a recording of the Bearsuit track Poor Prince Neal for a John Peel session in July 2001. I think it was their 1st session but I can't be sure. This track was also released on a compilation for the GoJonnyGoGoGoGo label.

Bearsuit - Poor Prince Neal

Also last friday I played my show with Blood Red Shoes. It was a bit of a disaster. Sometimes I'm really really rubbish. I just can't get over it when people in the audience are obviously not interested. I don't normally go looking for these kind of support slots but I made an exception this time and I kind of regret it. Blood Red Shoes were good though, and I think they're gonna be a big deal this year.

To remind myself that I'm not always rubbish I dug out a couple of my own songs to post on here, neither of which are widely available but can be found if you look hard enough. Firstly we have a song called 'Minxie & The Experiment' which is part of my somewhat half-arsed Songs For Everyone Project. It's one of the newer songs to enter my live set. The other song is 'Untitled Song For Kooky' which was written for my good friends at Kooky Discs for their 10th anniversary compilation. It's a smart little one, name-checking every band they've released up until this point. It was recorded by Mr Phil of Kooky in his study with all his techy stuff that I don't understand.

Winston Echo - Minxie & The Experiment

Winston Echo - Untitled Song For Kooky

You can also buy my new split tape with Kyla D from the Undereducated site now. It looks like this.


Posted by winston at 10:34 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007 11:01 AM GMT
Thursday, 15 February 2007
SNOW!!! RABBITS!!!

It snowed last week.  I am officially against snow.  I'll agree that it's quite pretty and I'm not all together oppose to the falling and settling of snow, I find that quite pleasant and I'd much rather be caught in a bit of light snow than a bit of light rain, but my real issue is what happens after the snow settles.  It's pretty to look and quite satisfying to walk through the first time, however, as the hours pass and more and more feet drag through the snow it turns into either a dirty grey sludge, full of car fumes and mud and gravel, or a slippery ice formed of compacted snow which can be deceptively dangerous.  I'm also not too found of sitting at the bus stop whilst teenagers stream by, all hyper and shit because they've got out of school due to the fact that teachers are just too lazy to get out of bed, trying to avoid the possibility of a snowball in the face.  Other than that I love snow.

I received a myspace message the other day from Cecile from Bordeaux, letting me know about her fantastic blog Black Candy (make sure you give it a good look), and in particular the band Lapin Machin who apparently are the best French band at the moment.  Having listened to the tracks on the blog and on their myspace I find that hard to argue with.  I just live for really lo-fi indie pop-punk, especially when they use acoustic guitar as a weapon rather than a security blanket so this is definately for me.  Now if only they'll get back to me about their CD?  Oh, and for the record, Lapin Machin translates as Rabbit Things.  So there you go.  Here's a one of their songs.

Lapin Machin - I Don't Even Even Know Why


Posted by winston at 1:49 PM GMT
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Pay attention at the back!

On monday Undereducated put on a show.

Due to some kind of circumstances that aren't alltogether that interesting so I'll keep them to myself, I had to kill a lot of time around Northampton town.  Living in another town is really a pain in the arse.  I went to a friends' house and had some tea and flapjack and they showed me a local paper article about wild parrots being spotted in Abington Park (and a smaller article about wallabies in Sywell, which I thought was strange.)  Having nothing to do for the afternoon we decided to take a little walk in the park and see if we could spot any parrots.  And we did.  And they were lovely.  But I was convinced that they had simply escaped from the aviary they have in the park.  Who knows?

Later on after the park I headed on over to the Labour Club to prepare for the show.  I was looking forward to the night as it was the first show Undereducated had put on this year, plus I didn't have to do too much on the night (ie. didn't have to play or worry about kit or stuff)  and could try and enjoy it instead of stressing myself out like I normally do.  Well, despite a couple of hitches the night got rolling and I was only mildly stressed.  Much love must be directed at the young men that make up Stand By For Action! who did good messy things and I think pissed off a few people, which in my mind makes for great entertainment.  Mary Luxembourg & The Black Bats are ones to look out for, keeping things simple and definately taking a lot from the Riot Grrrl handbook.

What I'm really here to talk about is Vortex Rex, who flew in from Austria that very afternoon.  I didn't know too much about them at all, except that I really love their album, Powermess, which you should try and pick up from their label Fettkakao as it's a bit special.  They got a bit lost before the show, circling the horrible bus station.  This song is from their Short Attention Span EP, also on Fettkakao.

Vortex Rex - Short Attention Span

After they played I got chatting to Ilias (who is responsible for the guitars and most of the shouting in Vortex Rex)  and it turns out he has a label of his own called Sea You who're releasing a Vortex Rex remix album soon, and he handed me a copy of an EP by a band called Go Die Big City!  I was pretty excited by this as I'd been listening to their myspace on an off for nearly a year now, and I think this 7" will quickly become one of my very favourites.  If you think I'm kidding please listen to this track and tell me it isn't the best thing ever.

Go Die Big City! - Supernatural Kids Rule

They also have songs about eating brains and just hating everyone, so that's good.


Posted by winston at 6:24 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007 9:13 PM GMT
Sunday, 4 February 2007
Some of us have plans
Last thursday I played my first show of the new year. It was at a place called Decades on Gold St. in Northampton, the room was nice, but I had a couple of problems with the venue. Firstly, a message to the landlord, stop kidding yourself, you're not a nightclub! Trying to escape the opressive heat of the bodies and radiator upstairs you wander downstairs only to be struck full in the face by some pounding commercial dance and unnecessary strobe lighting. Now this wouldn't have been so bad were it not for the fact that the crowd consisted of just 2 balding regulars clearly not interested in that kind of an evening out. Oh well. My second problem is more of a personal gripe that I have with a lot of places that show live bands. Now, it may just be me, but I've never thought to myself "woah, this venue is great, not only do they have average local indie rock bands playing once a week, they've also got pictures of Elvis and Liam Gallagher on the toilet walls!" This particular problem extends to Irish pubs featuring pictures of Ireland's two greatest exports, The Corrs and Sinead O'Connor.

I've got a few shows coming up, which is unusual for me because normally people don't want me to play. It's not something I get too upset about but it is nice to be asked to play a show once in a while.

On Friday the 16th of February I'm playing with a wonderful band from Brighton called Blood Red Shoes, who are Laura and Steve. I've seen them play a bunch of times and I'm always blown away. Apparently they're gonna be dead big this year, I hope so, they really do deserve it, and besides I'd rather it was them than the usual bunch of performing arts school fuckwits. They've released some 7"s and apparently there's plans to collect them on CD for the rather quite good Jonson Family Records (who incidentally released the wonderful 2 Minute Men compilations which are really wort checking out if you're after something a bit short and special, the I'm Being Good track from 2 Minute Men 2 is one of my very very faves.) Anyway, this track isn't actually by Blood Red Shoes, but it is by Cat On Form, Steve's pre-BRS band. They were signed to Southern Records and released one great album a few years ago called Structure And Fear, all politically charged and shouty like Huggy Bear and Gang Of Four guitars and stuff. This is a live track from their Set Them On Fire With Their Own Matches single.

Cat On Form - Whip In One Hand, Gold In The Other (live)



Now, it's hardly a tour or anything but I like it when I play with bands (semi)regularly. That's why I'm quite excited about doing these couple of shows with Foxes and Little Cosmonaut, two bands full of charming young indie types from Oxford. So theres 23rd of Feb at the Labour Club, that's in Northampton, and then March 4th at the Hope in Brighton. The Brighton show is one of these 'Antifolk' type shows done by the Larry Pickleman, a very offensive Irishman with a lovely wife and kids who have to put up with him. I love playing these shows in Brighton, they are always good fun and I've got some nice friends down their so that's good. So, I saw Foxes (I'm not sure how serious they are, but I've seen them spell their name 'Foxes!' but I try and limit the number of unnecessary exclaimation marks I use!!!) play in Northampton not too long ago, and despite many many sound problems (soundmen should try and learn what they're doing before doing it sometimes) I found them to be highly enjoyable. They're kind of like a bunch of really great old fashioned indie rock bands, like The Modern Lovers or the great Beat Happening, and it's quite refreshing to see a group of kids trying not to be cool kids and trying to write great pop songs. Little Cosmonaut came to play at an Undereducated night last november and reminded me loads of Bristol's I Know I Have No Collar (I believe there are actually some DNA links between the two bands) leading with keyboards and glockenspiel and a sweet vocal (which was absent from the recordings they gave me for some reason.) I think it's the sound your casio makes inside whilst it's turned off.

Foxes - Got To Get You Into My Life (Beatles cover)

Little Cosmonaut - Untitled 1

If you can come along that'd be great, if you can't, I'll miss you...


Posted by winston at 10:32 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007 5:40 PM GMT

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