Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I coulda been a contender...



Since people have said nice things about the song I Dropped in the Box the other day, I thought I’d share some more.

Unlike certain other ’Spillers, my musical career never really got as far as the starting blocks. The story goes like this. I recorded a demo when I was 18, which I sent off to half a dozen record companies. One of those was Jeepster Records, then home to Belle & Sebastian and no one else. Their manager, Mark Jones, phoned up to say how much he liked it, and that he wanted to meet me.

Unfortunately, I’d just gone to Australia for six months on a slightly pointless gap year. I did meet him when I got back – on the guest list at a sold-out B&S gig, I’ll have you know – but by that time he’d signed a band called Snow Patrol. (Feel free to imagine a parallel universe for a moment… I have, many times.) I went off to university. And that’s about it. A couple of cheaply self-financed recordings, sent half-heartedly to the odd record company. Very occasional gigs in bars. Two excellent reviews in the unsigned bands section of the Salisbury Journal. But if I’m honest, I’m too much of a dilettante to pursue a career in the music industry. That, and I never met the right band.

One of these days, I’m going to buy some decent software, record a load of songs, put them online and become a word-of-mouth sensation (right after I’ve finished my novel...). In the meantime, here’s a few tunes I do have. The first four were recorded in someone’s basement studio in 1998(?). The other four I recorded myself the following summer, then got someone to remaster. There are some bum notes, and my voice can drift excruciatingly into the mid-Atlantic at times. But hey, hope you like them. Any comments/recording contracts gratefully received.

Justine Sees The Sun Go Down
Fake The Ecstatic Again
Song In October
After Lucy Died

Land of Cockaigne
Swan Song
Snatch At The Sun
French Horn

13 comments:

saneshane said...

only had time for the first two.. but enjoying it so far...

when 'Justine' started thought it was just going to be Pulp pastiche (words, not musically) but you quickly find your own lyrical voice.. guess the words of the time strikes a cord for me.. remember cockaigne from when you posted it before...

I look forward to the rest..

DsD said...

Just spotted this as I've come to turn the PC off.

Promise to listen tomorrow, barbryn.

Thank you very much for posting ...

Japanther said...

wow...very very nice barbryn, very impressed.

I can definitely see the B&S connection and I really liked the whole package; voice, music and lyrics. There's still time to "make it" you know...

did you/the band have a name?

Chris said...

Some good stuff there, barbryn! I like your voice and the chord sequences are interesting. I'm not a words man, primarily, so I'll happily go along with the other comments.

The songs definitely benefit from more instrumentation (as hinted at by Swan Song): the single guitar doesn't do the potential harmonies justice - and would be better not there at all on a couple (e.g. Snatch At The Sun). IMHO, of course.

Impressive.

DarceysDad said...

"Feel free to imagine a parallel universe for a moment ..."

I don't know if this is going to make you feel better or worse, barbryn, but it doesn't take much of a leap to make that entirely possible. I'll admit I'm not a fan of your singing voice (sorry!) mate, but I have spent part of my afternoon mentally putting some epic arrangements to a couple of those songs.

steenbeck said...

Barbryn - these are wonderful. Really really good. What do you do now? If you don't mind me asking. Anything musical?

AliMunday said...

Barbryn - I like these. I don't know Belle and Sebastian (I'm much too old) but some of the phrasing reminds me of Al Stewart - and he hasn't done badly for himself, so I definitely think you should persevere. Aren't we looking for struggling artists for The Spill's record label?!

barbryn said...

Thanks for your comments everyone - the constructive criticism particularly (I'm not a fan of my singing voice either, DsD).

saneshane - the exact time of "Justine..." is Glastonbury 1995. Elastica were playing the NME stage, facing the setting sun over Glastonbury Tor. Justine Frischman told us all to give the sun a round of applause. It was a lovely moment.

Japanther - I was going to be Johnny Panic for a while, from a Sylvia Plath short story, before discovering some Smiths-fixated indie also-rans had nicked the name. So, no, nothing really.

steenbeck - no, nothing connected with music, but I do write words for a living.

Anonymous said...

@ AliMunday - YES!!! That's it - Al Stewart. I knew it reminded me of someone and that's who it is. Thank you!

@ barbryn - nice songs - some interesting chord changes and melodies going on. I'm afraid I'm with DsD on the voice - I think the music needs something a bit punchier. Thanks for sharing - I know it must have been hard for you to get this together - sticking your head above the parapet and all that. So, much respect to you. One day, when I'm feeling brave enough, I'll follow suit ...

ToffeeBoy said...

Errrm ... that's ToffeeBoy - silly blogger won't let me post under my own ID at the moment ...

DarceysDad said...

Thanks to both ToffeeBoy for the support and barbryn for the understanding - I certainly didn't mean to sound as rude as my words look on the page.

French Horn and Swan Song are my undoubted favourites - I've been imagining Robert Fisher singing instead, and the songwriting is right up there with his.

Fake The Ecstatic is ace too, though my mental producer's head has given it a crescendo arrangement, adding layer upon layer so that it actually climaxes with a squall of guitar.

And Song In October has so many possible interpretations, it's bringing to mind a different band every time I play it.

Must stop now; I've still got some work to do before bed!

barbryn said...

Interesting, I've had Al Stewart mentioned before. I only know that song of his about a cat... Who Robert Fisher?

DsD, I'm with you entirely on the squall of feedback at the end of Fake The Ecstatic.

ToffeeBoy - don't be shy. We'd all like to hear your stuff. By the by, I'm just listening to the bonus acoustic tracks at the end of Steve McQueen on Spotify. Like them much better than the album versions...

DarceysDad said...

Cheers AGAIN, barbryn.

Robert Fisher is the main man in the collective that is Willard Grant Conspiracy.

Try this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJrT5V0hxFs