Tag Archives: Hope & Social

The season’s change was a conduit

I was listening to old songs of ours last night, digging out dusty CDs and reminiscing and it lightly shocked me that I’ve recorded so much stuff and it all has a certain quality. None of it mixed properly or professionally but alive and quirky and rather lovely if I do say so. I might put the odd track up somewhere. Need to listen again.

You know when you discover a band and realise you really like them? It’s a great feeling isn’t it. But oftentimes you discover them halfway down the line. Someone played Plans by Death Cab For Cutie and I just knew throughout the first play that there was something going on. I have played that album many, many times since then. But I think I started to see them as one of my favourite bands when I heard The New Year, first track on Transatlanticism. It has a quality that I want to capture for one of our tracks – an urgency coupled with an irresistible hook and short enough that you mourn its passing while it’s still playing. I struggled with Transatlanticism for a while, it’s a case where my brother’s philosophy about albums was spot on – really good albums take ages for you to get into, not the first listen, not the fifth listen, but eventually it gets there and you realise it’s one of the best things you’ve ever heard. Given the luxury of hindsight I would have gone in order and bought the albums chronologically. I’m about to chase down their early albums and get The Open Door ep. I love so much about their music, the sound, the lyrics, but it’s the feeling that the music gives me that is the most special thing – it’s not easy to get that feeling into music.


Here’s a great video accompanying a great song by the band Hope and Social used to be (I still want to remix DWYM, guys!):


And here’s a touching short film…about a plastic bag:



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Some Great Reward

Favourite stuff of 2009! Bit late, everyone else has done it already and I’m getting bored of all the best of the decade lists but wanted to enthuse about all my favourite stuff, the films and music that gave me a zing:

I discovered a wonderful album by Santogold which has a scent of all the stuff I love about the early 80s. An album by Matt Costa called Songs We Sing which, although seemingly simple, is melodically triumphant. I realised Daybreaker is my favourite Beth Orton album (and Paris Train one of my favourite songs by her) and discovered a band called Metric whose song Sick Muse is one of my most played tunes this year. I realised my favourite thing Eddie Vedder has ever been near is his soundtrack to the film Into The Wild which is as beautiful on its own as it is accompanying Sean Penn’s amazing film. I found Hope & Social by accident at Glastonbury and loved their album Architect Of This Church and in particular the songs Sunlight Hold Me and especially, my favourite song of the year Looking For Answers – a heartfelt moment of reflection bathed in a freestyling crowd of a choir that lifts a great acoustic song into the realms of something truly sublime and has the kind of lyrical genius that any songwriter would kill for.

But for me the album of the year belonged to Foot Of The Mountain by A-Ha. It’s an album full of the most bewildering amount of really strong, really well written songs. Each song original and kind of classic pop and classic A-Ha simultaneously, without resting on past glories, and the production – pristene, bright, awe-inspiring!

As for films, J. J. Abrams made Star Trek sing again. I loved Chris Pine’s moment with big hands and especially Karl Urban’s amazing similarity to DeForest Kelly’s Bones McCoy in a fantastic, thrilling and enjoyable action epic! Where The Wild Things Are seemed messy in script but was more than made up for by the absolutely stunning Wild Things themselves. Jim Henson’s Workshop excelling again as only they can. Avatar and District 9 both thrilling in different ways. (500) Days Of Summer was touching, involving, hilarious, quotable, original, magnificently acted and surprisingly hopeful throughout. Possibly the best film of the year, if it wasn’t for the fantastic Moon – https://coostickshq.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/moon/

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22 Dreams

I don’t believe in the X Factor, the programme, or the definition of someone having said X Factor. The X Factor is so much more difficult to define than a teenager with a wacky haircut and the latest warble to be deemed fashionable by multi-millionaires with a heartfelt passion for a certain part of the music business (that being the business part!)

I read an interesting article about getting a thousand loyal fans in order to make your musical career sustainable. May not seem like a lot of people but it really is. If you play to 100 people in a night, I reckon 10% will take an interest/compliment you/want to know more. Of those 10, probably 10% will take it further. Therefore, if my maths serve, 1000 gigs will get you 1000 fans, if you’re lucky and work like a lunatic.

But if you’re a teenage desperate who has made it to the big X Factor shows, it’s all there. You do passable, sometimes terrible, occasionally great versions of karaoke favourites, thus appealing to the watching masses music-wise. You’ve already bypassed the need to connect socially with prospective fans via the internet or by other means because your emotional rise to the top has been documented in the series, plus you’ll be splattered all over the tabloids so everyone already feels a connection with you. If you win your CD makes it into the record shop and onto the interweb thanks to the all powerful machine backing you up. If you’re a runner up there’s still a chance your album will make it onto the supermarket shelves. I now browse the CD section and see completely unfamiliar faces next to Michael Jackson and the Kings of Leon with inspiring album titles like ‘This Time’ and ‘Believe’ with one new formulaic song and 10 cover versions. It’s a brilliant setup – genius! It totalIy bypasses the uncertainty of where your next fan is coming from. I’m not belittling the people who make it to the finals – it is immensely hard work performing in any way. I also applaud the makers and the panel for creating something that draws people in, gets the whole nation debating and on the edge of their seats and makes them lots of money whilst bringing some young hopeful’s dream to fruition for a month or two.

The only problem I have with this fruitful setup is with the other side of the music business – the music side. I briefly saw a panel show, Xtra Factor or something and Joss Stone was commenting about the programme being all about the singing. It’s not. It’s about drama. It’s about ‘is Cheryl going to cry this week?’; ‘is Louis going to walk out again?’; ‘is one of the contestants going to swing for Cowell?’ The panel are the only real celebrities on the show, the only famous ones, and probably the only ones with the X Factor – in their case the X Factor being their ‘Panel Personality Traits’. Oh, and Dermot (lovely, lovely Dermot.) And it’s the drama of the contestant’s struggle, how they have progressed in just 6 short weeks, caterpillar to butterfly, what they had to go through or sacrifice to reach the final – who needs Eastenders? But it’s not about music. It’s not about a song you can listen to for 20 years and still love passionately. It’s not about a band that you grow with and love more every time you see them live, watch a video, find out they are lovely as well as brilliant. If you want music, watch Later…With Jools Holland – a programme I always, and I mean always, love when I see it because of it’s diversity and for it’s unashamed love of just watching people performing.

The X Factor is great television. And what, I hear you cry, has it done for music? Well, the X Factor is great television.

The point of this rant? The next time someone says, ‘you’re a musician? Why don’t you go on X Factor?’, I shall perhaps reply, ‘because I’m a musician’ or I shall perhaps direct them to this post.

And to you, the X Factor viewer. Do me a favour, instead of watching it next week, try one or all of these ACTUAL MUSICIANS instead. You don’t have to go out to find them (links included) but you do have to put more effort in than just sitting with the remote and a bag of Maltesers (mmmmmm, Maltesers, sounds good!)

Here’s 13 bands/singers and their links that I have discovered on my travels that I love or find interesting and think you should try discovering too:

Josh Rouse


Gemma Hayes


Sad Day For Puppets


Hope & Social




Bell X1


Dave Thorne


Matt Costa






Angus & Julia Stone


The Swell Season


The Milk And Honey Band


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Hope and Social Gig/Smartie Overdose

So I went to somewhere near Leeds to see a band who I may have mentioned before called Hope and Social. I went to see them a) because they were one of the (if not THE) best bands I saw at Glastonbury this year and b) because it was my birthday and I wanted to do something a bit different. I left at 12.45 and drove for, ahem, a while to get there. It was an amazing place to see a gig. The Crypt (a real one) is absolutely beautiful, holds a real couple of corpses in it and was tonight decorated with fairy lights, hand prints, and statues of cows which I still don’t quite understand! 🙂

The gig was…out of this world! The album, Architect Of This Church is great, but there’s something about them live. I wondered when I arrived just what the hell I was doing driving so far in one day but when they started playing (and when they got to a powerful, extended Sunlight Hold Me) I realised. They all have a great rapport on stage, Simon is a charismatic front man with a great and generous sense of humour and they sound incredible as do the brass section. I got to do a little bit of a kazoo solo (not as good as Simon’s nephew though) which was nice.

My favourite part of the evening was Looking For Answers. It’s one of my favourite songs of all time and I could possibly admit that I went just to hear that. The rest of the album sounded marvellous tonight but that song….

Rich and Simon stood on the speakers away from the mics and just sang and we did the choir bit and it was f***ing magic. I could feel the air tingling! Wish I could have heard it twice – once to sing along and once to listen to everyone else.

Then had a quick chat with a fellow kazoo soloist and with Simon and drove 250 miles home (ouch!) Strange journey back – cranes in shadow, a Duel moment with a blinged lorry, Subterraneans by Bowie whilst driving past Kidlington (everyone should try it once) – and the sound of Hope and Social, Four Day Hombre, A-Ha, Kraftwerk, Gemma Hayes and more!

So what have we learnt?

Well, more than one Hope and Social fan (other than me) likes Threadless T-shirts (and they were both rather attractive); Leeds is a long way away from where I live (though not in the grand scheme of the universe); never eat a Southern Fried Chicken sandwich straight after a giant bag of Smarties at 2am; if you drive for 5 hours through the night, your consciousness will feel the way a smudged HB pencil scribble looks on a page; Simon H&S is one of the loveliest people I’ve met in a long time; Hope and Social HAVE to be seen live!

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Hope and Social

I saw Hope & Social, quite by chance, at Glastonbury this weekend and they were fantastic!

So go here:


and go here:


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