Carousel

Doves returned in June after a lengthy absence and gave us a new song, Carousel, the latest instalment of their rainswept northern melancholia. Driven by some intricate drums and decorated with some lovelorn guitar sounds Carousel sounds like a band fired up again after a rest. There’s a lot more going on here than first meets the ear and it rewards repeated plays.

Tickets for the gig at the Apollo sold out before I got one. I dithered. Part of me is still not convinced indoor gigs next March will be either going ahead or a good idea. I’ve been into work this week for the first time since March, the building largely empty except for some builders and various staff trying to make the school ‘Covid secure’ for the return of 1300 young people in two weeks time. Having spent the last five months shielding and living a pretty reclusive life it’s really weird suddenly being indoors with other people, who have varying degrees of ideas about what constitutes social distance and also how every surface, everything I touch, I look at differently. Going from shielding to being in a classroom with thirty teenagers is going to be a sudden and massive jump and as far as I can see, whatever the government would like us to believe about eating out and helping out, the pandemic is still very much with us.

I heard this on the radio recently, those little guitar lines, thump of the bass drum, the vocals. It sounded exactly right and very apt for 2020. When Doves get it right, they really get it right.

There Goes The Fear

Grow The Revolution

This graffiti appeared on a footbridge that crosses the M61 a little while ago. The photograph was taken by someone I follow on Twitter, Paul Wright. I drive underneath it every day on the way to and from work but haven’t been able to photograph it due to my hands being needed to drive and it being dangerous and all that, so I’m glad Paul got a shot of it (and I hope he doesn’t mind me using it here). On the other side of the bridge, heading away from Manchester, there is another piece of graffiti by the same writer that reads ‘burn fuel don’t care we all breathe the same air’, something I think about often as my car goes underneath it.

Wilmslow’s favourite sons Doves are back and are playing some festivals this summer. They’re playing Heaton Park in June but going to see them there would mean shelling out for a Noel Gallagher gig, something which I’m reluctant to do. After that they’re in Glasgow and at Bearded Theory Festival, Tramlines in Sheffield, Kendal Calling and Somerset House in London (all during term time). A smaller gig somewhere in Manchester would be nice (I’d settle for Castlefield Bowl if need be).

Doves have been well served by remixes in the past.  The original version of Black And White Town from 2005 is an uptempo northern soul inspired stomper. David Holmes slows it right down, puts the descending bassline at the centre with some organ, with the vocals in the distance occasionally, echoing in.

Black And White Town (David Holmes Remix)

Their last album was Kingdom Of Rust in 2009 with various remixes surrounding it across various single releases including this monster from Andrew Weatherall, a bass heavy version, kicking off with shouts and reverb, and then a crunchy drumbeat, a remix that crackles with electricity and ideas. This remix was a sign that Weatherall was finding his groove again, the start of a purple patch that has lasted a decade now.

Compulsion (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

There was also this eight minute gem, a Diskomiks of the title track by Prins Thomas, a 12″ promo of which I found in a local charity shop yesterday for £1.99 and which sounded really good in the early April sunshine.

 

I Tried To Sleep Alone

Somehow this beautiful, surprisingly noisy piece of northern rock is eighteen years old. I played it yesterday and was struck by how it manages to be both melancholic and uplifting. I have it on 10″ but curiously it didn’t find its way into the recent 10 x 10 thing on Twitter. The waves of sound it rides in on and the slow paced bang of the drums are built for cities in the summer, especially this one, even before the tears-in-your-beer howl of the chorus.

The Cedar Room

You Learned A Hard Lesson

Some more rivers coming your way over the next few days I think. Yesterday’s river was the Afon Llugwy in Betws-Y-Coed, North Wales, photographed when I was there a few weeks ago. Today’s river picture shows the Irwell, historic boundary between Manchester (right) and Salford (left). The pub down by the river on the Salford side, the Mark Addy, was ruined by floods in 2015.

In 2002 Doves found themselves caught by the river. I think it’s the same river that R.E.M. were looking for yesterday, a mystical river rather than a geographically specific river. Rivers often symbolise time, power, nature obviously, loss of control, and futility (the futility of trying to hold a river back). Also the river, in song and in life, always joins the sea and then disappears into it. The narrator in this song seems to be talking to his son, who’s made a mistake, been caught and now has to learn the lesson.

Caught By The River

Doves were a good band. Currently on hiatus, Andy and Jez re-appeared as Black Rivers in 2015. I’ve posted it before but this Richard Norris remix of their song The Forest is well worth hearing again, a kind of autumnal Balearica.

I Can’t Stand By, See You Destroyed

What happened here on Monday night and what we woke up to yesterday morning defies belief in so many ways and it’s difficult to know what to say, especially in a music blog. Equally, it’s hard not to take something like this personally when it happens so close to home. My family and my workplace knew several people at the Ariana Grande show at the MEN on Monday night.

Manchester is one of the most culturally diverse, multi-cultural and inclusive cities in the country. As Dave Haslam said on Twitter yesterday ‘You’ve got the wrong city if you think that hate will tear us apart’. We don’t do small mindedness, racism and intolerance. One deluded, indoctrinated, murderous little fucker does not prove anything about the people we know as our neighbours. Anger and hatred and rage are understandable reactions to the deaths of twenty two people, including children, on a night out to see a gig, but the minute we give in to hate we have lost. We stand together, we feel anger but we love life, we love love and we hate hate.

This song by Doves came to mind and the opening line which gives this post its title. And also this part…

‘We don’t mind
If this don’t last forever
See the light
But it won’t last forever
Seize the time
Cause it’s now or never baby’

Pounding

At times like this football seems like a very small thing in terms of importance but it’s also a massive part of this city’s history and traditions. With any luck tonight United will bring home a European trophy, with a multiracial, multicultural team of young black British Mancunians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Equadorians, Dutchmen, Italians, Belgians, Armenians and more besides. United we stand.

This Time I’m Not Wrong

I’ve posted this before but thought it might be worth looking at again. Bernard Sumner’s got a very distinctive voice, not a great voice maybe, but it’s very recognisable. He’s popped up on guest vocals in various places, with 808 State and The Chemical Brothers most famously. In 1997 he sang on a song with Sub Sub, not long before they mutated into Doves. The song- This Time I’m Not Wrong- came out on 12″, the last release ever on Rob’s Records (Rob Gretton’s label, New Order manager). It sounds much more like Doves than Sub Sub and when their studio/rehearsal room burned down the Williams bros and Jimi Goodwin took it as a sign to move on. Listening to this, it’s pretty clearly where early Doves song Catch The Sun came from.

This Time I’m Not Wrong

The 12″ also has an early version of Firesuite.

Firesuite

Black Rivers

This is good. Black Rivers are the new band of Andy and Jez from Doves. Have Doves split up? Jimi Goodwin had a solo album out last year which I haven’t got round to listening to yet. Or are they ‘on hiatus’? Dunno. Anyway, Black Rivers are releasing an album soon and as a taster for it there’s a remix by Richard Norris, full of electronic soundscapes, pulsebeat rhythm, a bit of phased cowbell, a disco bassline, an ‘into the forest’ vocal refrain, some ascending 80s keyboards at the end- it all goes by in a warm haze for seven and a half minutes.

Here Comes The Action

I got  a new bike for my birthday- yes, that does make me sound like I’m ten years old. It’s a road bike, giving me an entire world of cycling jerseys and other bits of kit opening up. Mainly jerseys though and some of them are lovely. In a fit of velo fever I decided that as we were going to Sheffield for a few days I should cycle there while Mrs Swiss and the kids went in the car. South Manchester is pretty flat and the Snake Pass between Glossop and Sheffield is anything but flat and I fancied a go at a hill. The hill rising out of Glossop goes up to 565 metres (or 1680 feet in Imperial). And it’s a fucker to ride up let me tell you. But the ride down is something else. I got a lift to the end of the mtotrway and then left the BP garage in Mottram on the bike riding through to Hunter’s bar in two hours and five minutes. My cycling app told me that I recorded my fastest speed so far (down that hill) and also my slowest (up that pigging hill). I would have ridden back yesterday but it was sheeting down.

While in Sheffield I heard this in a shop-Black And White Town by Doves, from 2005, and it sounded really, really good.

Sub Sub ‘Space Face’

Before they were Doves they were Sub Sub, and released this superb piece of dance music- Space Face.

In other bird related news, the kids found an injured young bird outside our house yesterday, several cats were prowling around, and an older bird was squawking from the rooftop. The kids wanted to try to save it. A neighbour said the RSPCA etc wouldn’t be interested and that saving it from being mauled by cats might be the best we could do. Mrs Swiss asked me ‘How do you pick up a bird?’. ‘Buy it a couple of drinks and try to make it laugh?’ I suggested.

We got it in a cardboard box and put it in our shed, with some water and bread. Then we noticed the mother bird with worms and grubs in it’s beak, trying to get in the shed. All very upsetting. We opened the shed door, to let the mother bird feed it’s baby with it’s broken wing. ET, 7 years old, was by now very concerned. I checked on it later last night and things didn’t look good- Giggsy (as it was now known) couldn’t feed itself and mother had vanished. We got up this morning and went to the shed, and alas Giggsy had died. We’ve also found Giggsy’s brother or sister, dead, in the alleyway behind the house. I guess leaving the nest is a bit do or die. Everyone’s bearing up pretty well though.

SubSub-SpaceFace.mp3

Sub Sub Ft. Bernard Sumner ‘This Time I’m Not Wrong’

A Joy Division/New Order rarity/oddity for you, following the earlier Jah Division piece. In 1997 Bernard co-wrote and sang (and presumably played guitar) with Sub Sub, who would shortly afterwards go on to become Doves. Sub Sub hit the charts with the rather ace Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use) and also had the ravey Space Face, which as Doves they still encore with from time to time. This song is more Doves than Sub Sub, being full of guitars and drums, and featuring a typical Bernard vocal and lyric. The end came for Sub Sub when their Cheetham Hill studio burnt down on the Williams twins’ birthday, but judging by this 12″ they were heading in a different direction anyway. The B-side features an early version of Fire Suite which also cropped up on the first Doves lp. Bernard Sumner in 1997 was on extended leave from New Order and in between Electronic activities. I got this in Oxfam in Altrincham for a fiver some time ago, a bargain judging by some online prices I’ve seen. This was the last single to come out on Rob Gretton’s Rob’s records label, also home to Manchester legends A Certain Ratio and Mr. Scruff amongst others.

01 This Time I’m Not Wrong.mp3