Posts Tagged ‘Bowie’

Thank you to everyone who downloaded my ’52’ album. It is now unavailable pending me figuring out what on Earth to do with all those songs. You have a similar conundrum in the form of 52 songs on your hard drives without a clue to their content and quality.

They may not all be up your alley… there is for example a nine minute long spoken word and dissonance piece called ‘The Devil’s Prayer’ which I recorded with the talented actor Jenny Mae Morgan for Halloween as well as the aggressive Omnichord-punk of ‘We Need To Talk’. There’s the sub-Warp dance-experiment of a track ‘There Is No German Word For Efficiency’ or the poorly recorded, jokey ‘Please Don’t Die, JB’ which was written to keep my housemate from losing consciousness after she sliced her thumb off at my birthday party.

With the hit and miss nature and obvious quality control issues of writing a song EVERY damn week I thought I would list ten of my favourites to give you a ‘crack’ into the album…

2. Meg Shelton, The Witch Of Woodplumpton
The tale of Meg and some of things that occurred to her as a witch but really more about how men will use the excuse of witchcraft to treat women horribly. Will eventually rerecord this with strings to have a real ‘Danse Macabre’ feel. [Side note – I did have a woman threaten to put a hex on me at a gig I played in Antwerp last year because she thought I was actually condoning the burning/burying alive of witches. Maybe I should stick to playing this song in countries where English is the first language or at least work on my Flemish…]

10. Mr Simm’s Olde Sweet Shoppe (Rights Reserved)
Without a doubt this is the song that people seemed to like the most from my live sets last year. Based on the topic of ‘someone who sells things’ because I wanted to write my own version of Tom Waits’ ‘Soldier’s Things’. This was written bang on deadline because I had spent most of the week trying to find a suitable subject matter. I eventually found the brown and gold Mr Simm’s on the Wednesday morning when I wrote half the song before researching the Simm’s family history which took the song in a… different direction…

16. Marvel
I was given the subject ‘The mundanity of work…’ to write about and I thought I would write about an astronaut bored on a space station (even spacemen gotta get bored sometimes…) I like the pulpy, 50’s Bowie thing on this track and Mark Simpson from the Happy Soul helped me out with some handclaps too.

21. Paint It By Numbers
The half realised collaboration between me and Mark from the last track was fully realised here with Mark’s tremendous Harry Nilsson-esque backing vocals. I played all the instruments (hence the ‘special’ timing to the drumming) before he added his magic. The topic I was given for this song was ‘A maths professor who can only express his love in mathematical theorem…’.

31. Eurelian Circles
This is an odd one. Written by the seat of my pants, I didn’t really think much of this until someone else told me they liked it. Seeing it from their perspective has caused me to since re-evaluate it. I like feel and the space in it. It’s a mood piece rather than one of my usual story songs. This has been something that’s pointing the way for my future writing.

37. Please Write Responsibly
Another collaboration with Mark Simpson (it’s funny how often it happens when you live close to each other). This is one of my stream of consciousness tales in which a story I write comes to life and terrorises first the town and then the world. Inspired by the response to couple of other songs I had written in the month before it where people had been offended or upset by my song subject matter. I am very much of the opinion that just because you *can* write anything that doesn’t mean you *should* write anything. Humans are humans wherever you go. However the damage had been done and this song was my apology.

39. Bee On A String
Another favourite from people who have spoken to me about this album. This track is about someone who traps a bee in a tupperware box and sticks them in the fridge to put them to sleep so they can tie a piece of thread onto their leg and take them for a walk. I actually knew someone who used to do this as a child (they were a child – don’t judge!). It was the first track I got to use my new Series II Omnichord George on.

41. RUExperienced [with Natalie McCool]
Natalie and I played a Manchester Sofar gig together and I discussed the idea of writing one of the ’52’ with her. She gamely agreed and I went over to Liverpool for a day of writing. She’s on guitar and vocals, I’m on Omnichord and vocals (George is getting a lot of use by this point).

43. Vadí Nevadí
This track is inspired by Daisies – the 1966 Czechoslovak film written and directed by Věra Chytilová. I watched it at a music hall in Aldgate in September. Would really like to get some violin on this track. Any gaps you might hear in the instrumentation here are definitely crying out for a violin part.

49. Merry Bloody Xmas
What do you know? I wrote a Xmas song. That I like. Inspired by blood sacrifices and orgies (the true meaning of Xmas). Writing and recording on a little Casio keyboard and using crappy drum machines was extremely enjoyable and has in fact been highly influential on how I am writing my next album.

Special mentions go to ‘The Man Without A Voice’ (strange as it is), ‘This House Has Eaten Us Alive’, ‘All My Old Lovers (Live On The Same Street Now)’, ‘A Year After The Party Died…’ and ‘Seven Veils’. Let me know if you have any favourites as I am still trying to figure out how to release this album or what form it will take. I hope you enjoy some of the ’52’ at least.

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Vadí? Nevadí.

Vadí? Nevadí.

With that first album ‘Down There For Dancing’ coming out this month there’s not been a chance to post here about any of the ‘Project 52’ shenanigans but they’ve still been happening.

Recently Ben Hayward of Mancunian Matters interviewed me about the project and you can read all about it here:
http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/161171543-project-52-manchester-musician-writes-and-records-song-every-week-one-year

So I haven’t really posted the last few as I didn’t want to swamp you all with ’52’ music at the same time as relentlessly pummelling you with the ‘Down There For Dancing’ album, the new videos for ‘Wag…’ and ‘Illya Kuryakin’ and forthcoming live dates.

Here’s a quick catch/round-up of all the previous ’52’ tracks I haven’t posted about…

O Joyce
Around Springtime I remember somebody (I can’t remember who) talking about a macaw owned by a friend of theirs.

Apparently macaws live for a very long time and this one had been around for donkey’s years (or macaw’s years I suppose).

This macaw used to say often the phrase: “Make us a cup of tea, Joyce!”
Not unusual for one of these birds to mimic human speech however what interested me was that Joyce was apparently the long dead grandmother of the current owner and that the mother remembered her grandmother (Joyce’s mother and the current owner’s great grandmother) saying this to Joyce.

The bird was quoting the matriarch from beyond the grave.

Quite pleased with Harry Nilsson-esque mouth-tuba backing vocals on the choruses. Definitely more than a little bit of a Kinks vibe as well.

Listen here: https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/o-joyce

Fudge Mountain
An excellent topic suggestion from my old Johnny5thWheel collaborator Andy Lyth. The song ‘Pure Imagination’ from the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory soundtrack  was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse and has long been one of my all time favourites. I’ve covered it in my live sets with Johnny5thWheel and on my own for about 5 years now.

When a lost chapter of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl was recently uncovered Andy suggested to me that I write the song Newley and Bricusse might have written had this chapter been made into a scene in the WW movie. Newley is a huge influence on me (and others… think no one ever sounded like Bowie before Bowie? Check out Newley.)

It was a tantalising suggestion and once I had started working on it I got chatting with Mickey Van Gelder (wonderful songwriter and fellow Newley enthusiast). We discussed and swapped the sort of chords Newley used to like using and I asked Mickey to come and help me record the song. He is playing playing and providing backing vocals.

Listen here: https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/fudge-mountain

Vadí Nevadí
This track is inspired by Daisies – the 1966 Czechoslovak film written and directed by Věra Chytilová. I watched it at a music hall in Aldgate in September.

Would really like to get some violin on this track. Any gaps you might hear in the instrumentation here are definitely crying out for a violin part.

Listen here: https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/vad-nevad

RUExperienced?
I recently played a house show with Natalie McCool and we thought it would be fun to meet up and write/record a song together. It was. Lots of fun. I went over to Liverpool and we recorded it onto my phone at her rehearsal rooms. Then I made some overdubs when I got back to Manchester.

Listen here: https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/ruexperienced-with-natalie-mccool

Like every track on the ’52’ page so far these are all demos but I have just started to pick through this collection with The Tontine to figure out which ones we would like to record for our next album. This project has been mammoth, maddening but ultimately very rewarding. There are only SIX songs left to write before I complete my challenge. I remember vividly being six songs into to the challenge and starting to realise what I had let myself in for. Anyway six left and I’m still taking topic suggestions. Not only that if you wanted to add any additional parameters that might be interesting as well. Just tweet your suggestions @LomaxRichard on Twitter (https://twitter.com/LomaxRichard) and add #p52.

In space no one can hear you sigh...

In space no one can hear you sigh…

Deadline: 23rd April 2014 
Topic: The mundanity of work
Listen to the song here: http://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/marvel


Thank you to Chris M for this week’s topic. 

I of course, couldn’t possibly follow the idea straight so I ended up writing this one about an astronaut bored of his job on a space station. 

A very busy week meant I couldn’t put loads of stuff that I wanted in. I wanted to change the first line of the second verse to “I yawn at dawn on Saturn from Space Complex Bravo” and I wanted to add a vocal in the middle/solo section where I was going a bit mental about how bored I was of the various planets in our Solar System. I also wanted to rerecord the solo but I ran out of time so here it is in its shonky lo-fi glory ripping off Aladdin Sane-era Bowie (as ever). 

The Happy Soul (aka Mark Simpson) joined in for some clapping in the choruses.

Dance The Chorlston in the serious moonlight!

Dance The Chorlston in the serious moonlight!

Deadline: 16th April 2014 
Topic: The tale of two places 
Collaborator: FirstnameFrank
Listen to the song here: http://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/dance-the-chorlston

This was written was for a performance at the First Draft nights in Manchester. They were celebrating their 2nd birthday so they had asked performers to pair up to work on something. It’s an interesting night for writers, actors, musicians, comedians and poets to display works-in-progress and ‘first drafts’ to a less judgemental audience. Absolutely ideal for the freshly written/ink still drying songs of the ’52’ project

This was the first of the ’52’ songs that I would have perform live immediately after having written it. I’ve been moving on from week to week committing only a few of them to memory. The evening was being filmed so hopefully you should be able to see a shaky rendition of me and Frank performing the song live soon.

The topic for this week was chosen by my co-writer, FirstnameFrank. Frank and I have both recently moved from Preston, Lancashire over to Houmous Village and self proclaimed Riviera of Manchester, Chorlton. 

With messy lives this involves a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between both places. There apparently is a famous term ‘NYLon’ used to describe people in a similar predicament to us albeit involving more money and glamour as they flit between New York and London. 

So Chorl-ston was born. A combination of Chorlton and Preston. High brow stuff.

Frank wrote the chords for the verse and bridge and I added lyrics to them as well as an extra instrumental bridge and chorus before we arranged the middle 8 together. We were going for a cross between Samba and the Charlston but I think we might need a better percussionist than I to pull that off. 

The coda is Frank’s. A beautiful Bond-esque chord sequence and melody with lyrics about home, happiness and family. I enjoy singing that bit a lot. 

Please check out Frank’s solo material here: www.facebook.com/FirstnameFrank 

Next week’s topic is the Mudanity Of Work which I shall be writing on my own but the next few weeks after this will be some interesting collaborations.

NB – This is the fifteenth song of the year! I am officially over a quarter of the way there…

Keep the secret, don't ask the question

Keep the secret, don’t ask the question

Deadline: 5th March 2014
Topic: Secrets

I am definitely feeling the need to shake things up nine weeks (and nine songs) in. This is the first song I’ve written on Omnichord (all others have been transposed from original guitar songs).

Download the song herehttp://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/pandoras-envelope

I have been embedding them on this site up until now but I’ve noticed when I add the new song each week that it mucks up the embedded song on previous posts so from now on it’ll just be a link to the song on the bandcamp.

52 songs with just my voice and an acoustic guitar isn’t as diverse or as interesting as I’d like so I do feel the need for a change. After I’ve reached 12 tracks (seems the right amount for an acoustic album) I think future songs will be more layered and involve more instruments which is something I’ve laid the groundwork for with this song.

The topic for this track was Secrets which I had already written about for Johnny5thWheel&thecowards (see here: http://johnny5thwheel.bandcamp.com/track/ivegotasecret-2) so this song tackles the subject matter in a different and I think it will suit a project that I’ve had at the back of my mind for a while.

The vocals are layered and sung dispassionately to give it a robotic quality and inspiration wise I took from 1984, Brave New World and Brazil – lots of getting lost in the cogs of the machine. Bit of a Berlin-era Bowie flavour to it as well.

Next week’s song is about Someone Who Sells Something so if anyone fancies suggesting their favourite street vendor for a subject drop me a line at richard.lomax@gmail.com. Likewise if you would like to suggest a topic for future songs.

52by52

As I mentioned in a previous post I have three albums written and ready to record. One of which I am recording right now with the help of the good folk at DogFace Records. In the past having that much material in the bank has led to me getting lazy or blocked when it came to writing. To hopefully combat these potential problems I am exercising my writing muscles every week with a 52 week Song Challenge

It began shortly before this year did… a weekly challenge to write a song every week in 2014. Each week I would have a given topic to write about. It tends to alternate between me deciding on the topic one week and someone else deciding on it the next.

No excuses, no missed deadlines, no cheating. By the end of this year there will be 52 songs in this album.

That’s the plan anyway. Each week I’ll add the latest song as track 1. All of these will be for a name-your-price/ooh-have-it-for-free download on my bandcamp page here.

I’ll be posting the latest song up here and on the bandcamp page every Monday evening so check back if you want to keep up with the progress of the project and get yourself a free download every week this year. The topic chosen for this week is ‘Luck’. I’d better get cracking…

Filmed at DogFace Studios towards the end of 2013 by Kev Morel. This is a song called Windmills which will be one of the 13 tracks on my forthcoming debut album out this year. You can hear one of the rootsy recordings I made of it with a bunch of very talented, very busy musicians here at the DogFace bandcamp.