Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rollasoc's Top Ten Albums of 2014 - Part 2



5 Bird - My fear and Me



I discovered Bird, whilst photographing Bridgnorth Music Festival, a few years ago and have photographed them a couple of times.

I've been looking forward to this album since then.  


I believe they are in the process of changing their name.

4 Atlum Schema - Year Zero

I discovered Atlum Schema from when Andy was hosting the Right Chord Music podcast.  It was a few months of listening before I checked out his music.



I had a couple of previous albums, but wasn't prepared for how stripped back, raw and fragile this album is.  It took a few listens to get it.   I was lucky to get a ticket to the launch party (see first video).  Another grower.

3 Passenger - Whispers


I saw Passenger support Ed Sheeran a couple of years ago and he blew me away.  Simply beautiful songs.  When I got back home I ordered the album.  I was so happy when Let Her Go went massive last year.

I was actually surprised when I walked into Tescos and saw he had a new album out. 

I think this an even better album than "All the little lights".  A bit more sweary, very personal and some great story telling.




2 Blue Rose Code - The Ballads of Peckham Rye


 


I believe I discovered Blue Rose Code on someone's Facebook page a while ago and tracked him down on Bandcamp. I loved the album "North Ten" but this is a stronger album.  More country than I'd normally like, but such great songs!

 



1 Pineapple Thief - Magnolia

"All The Wars" the previous Pineapple Thief album is one of my favourite and most played albums of the last few years, which surprised me when Bruce said he didn't rate it that highly.

So I was looking forward to this album and in my eyes it had a lot to live up to.

It wasn't was I was expecting at all. This is the least prog, prog album I have heard.  I really wasn't sure of it for the first few listens, but it has really grown on  over time.



If I have one gripe with it, it would be the last track Bond, kind of just ends.  No big album closer.  More of a whimper.

I did buy this on vinyl as well as CD though.

So there it is.  To be honest, I haven't bought as much music this year as previous years and a lot of what I did buy was compilations and re-issues.

Some of my re-issue and compilation highlights this year.

1. Tear For Fears - Songs From the big chair.
In surround sound by non other than Steven Wilson.  No it doesn't get a lot better than that.
Plus b-sides, remixes, unreleased stuff and a DVD.

2. Steven Wilson - Cover Version
Who wouldn't want to hear Steven Wilson cover Abba, Alanis Morrisette and The Cure (amongst others).

3. Genesis - R-kive
3 disk best off, mostly listen to the Gabriel stuff..




Rollasoc's Top Ten Albums of 2014 - Part 1



I will try to make this slightly shorter post than last years list.

I am going to keep this list to albums I have physically purchased and not to albums that I have streamed on Spotify.   If I don't like it enough to buy it, then I don't think it should be on the list.


10  I Fight Dragons - The Near Future




The only album here that so far is only released on vinyl or download.  I ordered this through kickstarter about 18 months ago.  Though they sent me throught the MP3s a couple weeks ago, the vinyl only turned up this week. And the green marble vinyl is stunning.


I've followed this band since before they were signed, they are a shining example of how a band can use the internet to connect with fans.  

Please watch this afterwards.  1 Song, 18 versions, 7.5 songwriters.   
 
Version 11 - Chicago is on the album....

The first entry with my name in the album credits.

9 Damien Rice - My favourite faded Fantasy


Not a massive Damien Rice fan to be honest.  Mostly I know his songs from other people's cover versions, but I heard he was back after so thought I'd listened to this album on Spotify and promptly ordered it.

Beautifully, stripped back.  Stunning.

8 Steven Rothery - The Ghost of Pripyat



Growing up in the '80s in Cornwall, we were kind of lacking decent bands coming down to play.  I saw Marillion play at the Cornwall Colesseum several times.  I always loved Steve Rothery's playing and guitar tone. 

Marillion, were one of my favourite bands of the '80s and '90s.

Saying that, the last couple of Marillion albums have left me cold,  not enough Steve Rothery being Steve Rothery and not enough blistering, Mark Kelly, synth parts for my liking. Far too safe and middle of the road.

So essentially I have been waiting 30 years for this solo album.

There is some wonderful playing on this.  Great on headphones.  Everything I wanted from a Steve Rothery solo album.

The second entry with my name in the CD credits.


7 Stiff Little Fingers - No Going Back




Stiff Little Fingers have been one of my favourite bands since my brother David brought home "Suspect Device" back in the late '70s.

I have bought Inflamable Material more times than I care to mention.  So I was happy to Pledge towards the new album. 

It doesn't disappoint.  (other than I liked the acoustic version of "My Dark Places" Jake did as part of the Pledge videos.  I was surprised when it was rocked up).

A real return to form.  Shame I missed them on the tour.

6 Iamthemorning - Belighted


A school friend sent me a link to one of their songs a couple of years ago.  I was blown away by the debut album.



So another kickstarter campaign, to get to record the second album in England with Marcel van Limbeek and featuring Gavin Harrison on drums.

Classical russian prog rock.  A truely beautiful album. Hopefully, my physical copy will make it through Russian customs at some point.  They have stopped shipping them, until mid January due to how bad the russian postal service is!



More later in part 2




Monday, December 29, 2014

End of Year round up.

video


Well, it is the end of 2014.

It has been a pretty good year.   We released EP6 as well as contributing a cover version to a Mansun Tribute album.



EP6 has been heard far and wide, in places such as Mozambique, Iran, Isreal, the USA, Mexico and many other countries around the world. Which for a duo from Shropshire is both baffling, humbling and totally brilliant.   The internet is a wonderful tool for musicians to get their music out there.
 
We have started work on EP7 (see video at top of the post for an exclusive snippet of a work in progress).

So what of 2015?



Well EP7 should make it out into the world, I would also like to think that we may even venture out and play live again.    Stranger things have happened.

So thank you to all our old and new found friends and here is to a wonderful 2015.  Onwards and upwards.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Deep Down You Know That I'm Wrong!



Let us ease you into the weekend with a delicate blast of the lead song off EP6.

Our release of EP6 as a  bittorent bundle was a surprising success.   I was pleased with the number of downloads we had, but more importantly the number who downloaded the complete package.

After a slight problem at CDBaby failing to send our EP to the digital distributors.  EP6 is now available at the usual online outlets (Amazon etc) and streaming services (Spotify, Napster, Rdio etc).


Work has also begun on another video off the EP.

We have started recording EP7.  We are having a lot of fun writing and recording the new instrumental for it.  It has been nice to record with real amps, instead of emulations and go back to recording with real pedals.   We are not a million miles away from finishing it.

EP7 looks to be taking a more electronic route than previous EPs (at least with the rerecorded old song. (of which this might be the last EP  to finish one, now we have run out of suitable old material to re-record).  But then, we are currently writing, as with previous plans, things will change as we write and record.

I'll try and blog a few of the vine videos we have recorded so far in the coming weeks.

It is sounding good at the moment.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Released into the wild.



We are proud to announce that EP6 has finally been released into the wild.

It will be available from the usual outlets (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Napster etc) as soon as possible.

It is currently available for the pay what you like price at our Bandcamp store or for $2.49 from CDBaby.

There is a very limited amount of physical CDs for sale from the Bandcamp store.  When they are gone, they are gone.

In a first for us, we have also released it as a Bittorrent Bundle.   This is a legal way to download products via the bittorent network, currently being pioneered by the likes of the new Thom Yorke album.

You can download two songs, off the EP, immediately, or for the price of your email address, you can download all five tracks, a book of lyrics and the video for "Deep Down You Know That I'm Wrong".

We promise to not sell your email address to anyone.  You will get an occasional email from us (normally less than one a month) about what we are up to.  You can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

This is an experiment for us, since it is a fairly new distribution method.

We have additionally, set up our own dedicated You Tube channel, to bring together all the Hair Thieves videos in one place, instead of being on our personal channels.

So we hope you will at least have a listen to the new tunes, even if you don't down load them.  We are proud of these songs so would like people to listen to them regardless of whether they purchase them for cash, or download them for free or for the price of an email address.

We appreciate any feedback.

Work has started on EP7, as well as videos for a couple more tunes off the EP.

More on that as work progresses.





 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Strange Familiar World





Re-recording of old Hair Thieves for EP6. A song about going back to your hometown after a period of time and how the place and yourself have changed.

Deep Down You Know that I'm Wrong





Lead track off EP6. You can order the new EP from http://ift.tt/Z5d4Yc for a nominal fee

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moving Pictures Part 1

video
It looks like it’s that time again - Rollasoc has asked me to write a blog once again. I think he really wanted me to blog about the mixing process for EP6 but he left it too late, that (mix)bus has already departed. Yes, that’s right, EP6 is mixed at last, yay me! Instead I am going to write something about the process of creating a video - just in case there isn’t enough drivel out there on the web already.

My Step-Brother recently commented that it is not enough that we write, record, and produce our own music, now we have to be video actors, directors, and producers as well. If only I could manage even one of those things! Things I’m certain that I’m definitely not are actor and cameraman, for Beijing Morning I used screen grabs to overcome this, probably not a trick I could pull a second time.  Instead, the quest began to find a way of making an animation.

First and foremost this had to be cost effective, or as it’s sometimes known, free. A quick play with a well known search engine lead me to Pivot Animator http://pivotanimator.net/ ). This is an extremely simple, and also rather brilliant, stick-man animation package. Each frame has to be animated by hand, no tweening here, although the programme provides onion skins of the previous cel to help you. I produced a couple of simple animations of a stick man strumming a guitar which I am rather pleased with, but the thought of doing 3 mins plus, one frame at a time, fills me with dread.

With Pivot out of the running it was time to find something else. I had used Blender ( Blender ) previously to do the cover of EP5 and was aware that it had some good animation features so this has become my next and hopefully final choice.

Oh boy, this is a choice I am going to hate! First off, Blender is free and represents an unbelievable amount of effort for the people behind it so it would be churlish to complain about it. So that makes me churlish.

It is a seriously powerful tool, you could easily pay thousands of pounds to get this level of features in a commercial package. What your money would also get you is a user interface that made sense. I suspect that for a lot of very clever programmers the user interface is the last thing they think about, if they even think about it at all. This program has menus, it really does, in fact they are all over the place. None of them do what you expect. Instead, to use the programme properly you have to learn hundreds of keyboard shortcuts. Not normal shortcuts of course, oh no! [ctrl c] to copy? You should be so lucky! [del] to delete something? Why on earth would you do that when you can [shift x] instead? Still, you can always check the documentation…..don’t get me started.

Blender lets you use external renderers which is another powerful feature, unfortunately the latest version doesn’t work with the renderer that I had used previously so I have to learn the built in render tool - Cycles. This is yet another incredibly steep learning curve that I need to climb.

More to come in Part 2

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Drastic


Last week I took a trip up the road to the historic town of Chester, for a convention about '90s band Mansun.

Mansun are one of my all time favourite bands.  Highly prolific in the short time they were together and underestimated in the grand scheme of '90s music history.

I'd only ever been to Chester once before.   When Mansun released their second album called Six.   Being from Chester, they had their album launch party at midnight, in the local Virgin Megastore.

I was one of the lucky winners of tickets to the event.

So it was nice to go back, have a better look around the town and go to the convention.

The convention stemmed form the Mansun's Only Love Song Facebook group.

The convention involved several tribute band, unseen archive video and audio, memorabilia and panels discussing the rise and demise of the band.

As part of the convention, the organisers asked bands to submit cover versions, for a compilation CD.

Over thirty songs were recorded.  Nineteen made it onto the CD.  The rest are downloadable, if you buy a CD.

We recorded one of the b-sides from Mansun's second EP.  A song called Drastic Sturgeon.





I have been playing this occasionally at open mic nights for years.  So it seemed the obvious choice of song.  Also, if you are unfamilar with Mansun, they are one of those rare bands that bundles singles with multiple new tracks as b-sides.  Sometimes the b-sides are better than the lead track.

You can buy the CD Here

Here are a few images that I took with my point and shoot or camera phone last week.






So a storming weekend.   I met some great people and it was nice to hear a new track from the Mansun frontman Paul Draper.  Looking forward to the album now.



Later,

Rollasoc

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Drastic Sturgeon (Mansun Cover)





Cover version of the Mansun EP2 track Drastic Sturgeon. A rare outing for the Mandolin at least....

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Drastic turn of events



Summer is upon us and we were initially getting close to finishing Ep6, when I had a moment of clarity.

Back in February, I wrote a song as part of the Fawm write an album in a month.  (I managed six songs in the four weeks).   As a consequence of one of the songs, E wrote a counter song. 

So, my grand plan was given, we have mostly mixed the other three songs for the EP (in record time), was to add the song from the Fawm session, since it obviously should go with the counter song.

So that will put us back a month or so.  So EP6 will now have 5 tracks upon it.




In other news, we are recording our first cover version, which will be released next month in Chester, at the convention for the 90's Britpop band Mansun.   We are in the process of recording one of their early B-sides.


At least it has allowed me to get out my old acoustic for the first time in two years.

More details, once we have finished recording it!



Later


Rollasoc

Friday, June 13, 2014

Instrumental Failure

video


All of our EPs so far follow a kind of pattern.   This one and EP5 are missing collaborations with others.  But all our EPs finish with an instrumental.

video

Here are a couple of snippets from the instrumental for EP6.

At the moment it is called The Fail Song.

This song has a long history.  It started as an arpeggio on acoustic.  Many years ago.  


This tune was originally scheduled for EP5 and had the intention of having lyrics.

I then showed it to E and taught him how to play it. 

He then promptly wrote the first section as a strummy section and the arpeggio was kind of lost as I liked how he started the tune. (see first video)

If I remember, it might have been called "Fear of New York" (not to do with the "Exploits of Elaine" song honest!) originally.   But we were never happy with the lyrics, so it was shelved and brought out again for EP6.

I had another go at lyrics but failed. Possibly due to the time signature being slightly odd rhythmically.  More likely the lack of inspiration.

So we decided to make it the instrumental.

The original argeggio, in a slighly altered and slower form now makes it way into the middle section of the song as a piano and at the end of the song on acoustic (see the 2nd video).


It thus became The fail song, since we failed to write lyrics for it.

This is currently being mixed.  Hopefully, we will put it up on Soundcloud soon!



 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Can't seem to settle down no more."

video


Quick update on the progress of EP6.    Three of the four songs are now, we believe ready for mixing.

The lead track, is the only one left to finish recording.   Lyrics are 95% there.  Drums / percussion has been done.  Guide guitar tracks completed.  We still need to add bass and solos.

So we are very happy with the progress.

As the video shows, like all the previous EPs we have re-recorded an old song, from before E joined The Hair Thieves in 2006.

This is a reworking of the 2002 tune "Strange Familiar World".   It is a personal look of how I view going back to my hometown and the changes in the people and places I grew up in.

The original idea was just to replace the drum  and acoustic guitar sound from the original.  Leaving the solo, bass and  tremelo guitar from the original. 

So essentially, E wasn't planning on playing on this.   But the more I dissected the original audio, the more I realised how little I knew about recording at the time, with bad editing, causing pops at edit points, so I decided to re-record everything.

So I made E record a tremelo guitar part (his least favourite effect), as can be seen in the above Vine video.

Right, back to working on the final track left before we meet up tomorrow.

Later,

Rollasoc

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Epic Fail


 Greetings from the land of the Hair Thieves.

Due to holidays and more holidays, things have been a bit slow of late.

But progress is actually being made on EP6.

We have one tune ready for mixing.

The instrumental is taking shape and near completion.  It is currently called The fail song (hence this blogs title), due to us failing to write lyrics for it, so after a couple attempts it has been morphed into an instrumental, keeping the bare minimum of the original song.

I've taken a couple days off to work on one of the other tunes.  The aim is to get that ready for mixing, before I go off on holiday later in the week.

We have music for the final song, though no lyrics as yet.  So that will be our focus for the coming weeks.

E has even built himself a new music PC.  I'm awaiting new drum software to make my life a lot easier!

So all in all, not doing too badly and there is a good chance, this EP will see the light of day this year.


later,

Rollasoc

Sunday, April 20, 2014

21st CSM





21st CSM Music and Lyrics C Rollason. Always Argued my limitations Never argued against my fears Always questioned my way of thinking Never looked ahead, ahead with hope Always restless and impatient Never rode the waves of delight Always worry too much about nothing Never relaxed, nor had some fun And I'm turning into the thing I hate the most High ideals, but I'm not even close I seem complete, but I'm thinking that I'm broken Turning into the 21st Century Schizoid man Always bottled up my emotions Never held back all the rage Always leaving too much unspoken Never edgy, too highly strung And I never had fun as a child Nervous wreck, behind my smile Happy go lucky or so they say Feel inside like I'm the living dead Hiding secrets, hiding lies Tortured soul, crimson disguise Torn between my wants and needs I bare this soul for you to need

Chemistry





The Chemistry Music I Packman, Lyrics Chris Rollason, I Packman Waiting for a queue that never comes (Standing) in the line of least resistance Hard counter to the window on my soul, it says position closed it marks the pass of every moment The Chemistry of dying Colours Changing over time My future shrinks, my past is growing it's leaving me behind The fabric fades, old colours melt away Captures all our days, escape forgotton The world is rushing at you, faster than the naked eye can see We close our eyes or look away The Chemistry of dying Colours Changing over time My future shrinks, my past is growing it's leaving me behind If nothing last forever what's the point in going on at least I have found the wisdom of where I was wrong Aching void, ommisions from my soul watching people make the same mistakes So I write a list of all the things the things I should have done I wasted time on being young

Bad Consumer





Bad Consumer Music I Packman. Lyrics G Lawton. Additonal Lyrics I Packman, C Rollason Keep your head up When you're hard up I'll come to your defence Financial gain ain't worth the pain Can you lend me 50 pence You heard a rumour I'm a bad consumer I'm a bad Consumer We point and click At too much shit That fading popstars try to sell Designer Boom from changing rooms It's a massive discount sale I hit the stores But soon got bored Of all the junk they try to sell Beacon, Heart, Exchange and mart If there's a difference I can't tell

The Beguiled





The Beguiled Music Chris Rollason, I Packman. Lyrics C Rollason Rising from the depths With brilliance / passion A fall from grace On gossamer wings The doubts so deep Words ache reviled The fool for a foolish dream I am Beguiled I Never thought I'd fall so deep so fast Captivated by your passive eerie glance Your charm offense lies unrestrained Never thought that modern love would be estranged I really though you'd change your ways this time Disappointment hides the fear of hopes declined Tragedy begat from a stolen kiss Tall Tales and randon acts of senselessness

The Mighty Fall





The Mighty Fall Music C Rollason T Evans, words T Evans Spread the trails of fortune We each can find the road To build a new horizon Find our place and ride the code There's life within our dreams We each can voice our views Set them up to teach the weary Change the spoils and write the truth Oh how The Mighty Fall The Mighty Fall The Mighty Fall The Mighty Fall Bit by bit the way we change Spread the truth and break our fall We've all grown up, with how things are But how things are just kills us all Why are we fighting? Why do we hate? If we change opinions It is never too late Oh The Mighty Fall How The Mighty Fall The Mighty Fall The Mighty Fall

Shorewards





Shorewards Music / Lyrics Chris Rollason, I Packman Running down Memory Lane Feels like I've been here before Undaunted by the empty village Landlocked forever and more I believe I have heard whispers From the sofa on which I lay But I feel like a megaton fugative Caught up in the richochet Chorus As the Canteen Bridgroom flirts with regret We shoplift the salesman as we depart the boat with their property on board I look shorewards Blasted by the guillotine tenements Nothing has a place of its own Sinless like emancipated celebrities The sociopaths harmonious psalm

Break The Casino





Break The Casino Music / Lyrics G Lawton, I Packman Life is a gamble (with an) even chance at best Keep watching the dealer , ignore the rest Lift your eyes, the skies are golden Stakes are high, I'm close to folding I need to know the cards your holding out for Poker face, eyes as cold as ice Double or quits, with loaded dice You'll be a hero if you break the casino (but) they won't let you bet on double zero You'll be a hero if you save the bus fare home

Apotemnophilia





Apotemnophilia 20/10/2005 Music / Lyrics C Rollason You always had a sense of balance A certain uneasy grace been missing the kindness that's been long overdue I wanna be just like you I felt like this from childhood an alien ape displayed been searching for someone to take away the part of me thats not a part of me so take me to a dark and tranquil place take away the thing that make me plain this thing that I find so distasteful and turn me into something beautiful I've progressed so far so soon don't want to pretend no more Drastic times mean drastic measures so I can be just like you I've tried conventional options a new way for mad they say I've calculated the risks v gains so a shot rings out that long overdue You always had a sense of balance A certain awkward grace I'm shown the kindness that's been long overdue Now I'm just like you

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Remixes, Animation and EP6


Things have been a little slow in Hair Thieves land for the last month or so.

This has manly been due to me partaking in a Songwriting course from Berklee College of music online.  Which I passed with the odd score of 102.2%.

E has been busy remixing Beijing Morning off EP 5.  Have a listen here.




I have  purchased some animation software.  Here is a little test snippet of a proof of concept.



I am awaiting a modder to release to me  a manikin mod.  So I can make videos with our unofficial mascot.  Much like we used (back in 2007, which is ages ago) in the video for Shorewards from EP2.




I will probably make a video for Invisible Wall or possibly the instrumental Bathmophobia in the next month, though it might not look anything like the snippet.
  
In the meantime, we are back in writing mode for EP6.  We are currently working on the instrumental and I am about to start lyric writing for a song we have music for.

Right, I'd best get on with those lyrics.

Later

Rollasoc