2008 Summary

Hello. I’ve noticed that several friends have been doing their reviews of 2008, so I figured I might as well do one myself. It’s been an interesting and productive year.

First off, Louisa and I have moved, to a lovely new flat. And we’ve really enjoyed the past week, sorting things out, and relaxing. I guess being on holiday has helped too, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we continue to enjoy each others company as much in the new year.

On the PhD front, that’s going pretty well. Had a good meeting with my two supervisors on Thursday, who both seem happy with me. The lab has secured (I think…) a new grant, so it looks like there should be funding for me to stay on for a while if I want. Which seems like a good idea what with the global economic meltdown.

On the music front, well, it’s been a mixed year. As usual, I’ve not done as much as I would have liked. But that’s always the case. AlKandAlC continue to do what we do best (i.e., talk about recording and gigs, rather than actually sitting down and recording or getting some decent gigs) but it’s good fun. We still seem to get one as well as ever and Ali’s written some of his best songs this year (Sweet Moves, Don’t be a Stranger, etc). I like to think that my playing has gotten better too, but you’re probably best asking Ali to see what he thinks!

Interestingly, and perhaps unexpectedly, the “band” has evolved (I’m surprised it’s still going!). We’re basically playing a set of songs that are no longer in the main AlKandAlC set (It’s Time I Learnt to Sail, Fake Beggars, Emily, Amy, Back to the House), but they’ve all been given a heavy reworking (for better or worse, as I know Louisa much perfers the duo versions). It’s great fun though. Having Lucy (fiddle) and Jenny (backing vocals/whistle) really changes the sound, probably more so than having on Niki (on drums, who’s pretty much even with Ali for nicest/most friendly musicians I’ve played with!) The only downside is the wonky timing… which to be honest is probably my fault as much as Niki’s. It’s something I’ve been conscious in my playing for years (I remember Matt Wilde at Warwick saying as much, and the lead trumpet player at the Warwick Uni Big Band shouting at us for rushing/dragging). All for the best though. And the last band practise was much better. I could still feel the tempo speeding up in places, but, for perhaps the first time, everybody else seemed to notice too so we reeled it back in. If we keep improving at this rate, well, 2009 should be great. Especially with the introduction of two of my fav AliK songs, Who Needs Who and All Breaks Down. We’ve got a name too, The Als and the Pussycats, (we all love a good pun!). The scrappy demo we recorded at Banana Row is up on last.fm. And hopefully the video recording of us playing in August will make its way onto youtube sometime soon (the one time we played as a 6 piece band!)

On that note, recording a demo on a studio. That’s a first for me (not counting the Warwick Big Band album, which was recorded in the student’s union. Have to say I’m a little disappointed. (and I’m not just talking about my truely horrible bass solo.) But I guess that’s largely our fault in trying to get 5 tunes done in a day. It meant that very little time was spent worrying about the “sound” of the band. Guess more time spent setting up the drums and guitar tones would of changed the dynamics a lot and given something closer to what I imagined we’d want to sound like (more like Richard Thompson’s stuff and other 70 folk rock). But hey, nothing wrong with a clean cut radio 2 sound. And Jenny’s vocals sound great. Fingers crossed the band keeps going throughout 2009 as that should give us time to really find our feet and play some good gigs 🙂

As for my other two bands, well, not much has happened. It’s been all quiet with Benny’s Afro Scot Beat band this year. Roger’s Modern Blues has been equally quiet for most the year, although we have found a great drummer and recently started running through the old set. Hopefully Matt will be joining in on lead guitar duties in the new year, and we’ll get some gigs in February.

On the electronic-y music front, it was as kind of slow year (too busy playing with Ali perhaps)? Although I did manage to finish You Said It, with Edlundart, which is probably one of my best tunes. The short lived Skuas project was pretty interesting, and has encouraged me to get working on some more tracks. I bought FL Studio in the summer and that makes programming drums and synths a lot more fun, so hopefully I’ll get more done next year!

I guess that wraps up all the music stuff. Come along on the 27th to see my last gig of the year with the Als and the Pussycats, at the usual Venue (the Ark of course).

I guess I could do the same as Niki and Matt and leave a wee message/thoughts for a list of friends. I can’t help the feeling that I wound just insult somebody though. And I’ve done enough pissing people off with the blog this year, so lets wait til next year.

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