Tag Archives: hopeandsocial

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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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 and writing songs

This is an exerpt from the Hope and Social blog:

Ed and I discuss in some depth later – some songs will work come what may because of an integral strength in their melody and chord structure (you can play Yesterday on an accordion and nose flute and it will still have quality) but some need the wrappings of good instrumental arrangement or a “place” to give them a life. This one changes every time we play it depending on Rich’s sound, the tempo, the strength with which I hit the strings, the vocal meter.

Here’s the link to it:


I find Hope and Social inspiring. I now have their album (until Architect Of This Church I was a download virgin) and it’s good, some of it’s amazing, and yes, it is inspiring. I think what inspires me the most is their seemingly relentless pursuit of doing creative and musical things. And a desperate need to follow the paths that lead to that creativity come what may, be it lack of money, broken relationships, endless hours hunched in a corner with a pair of headphones on or singing to an audience of 15 or less, all of which I have some experience of!! That and the fact that they seem like a decent bunch of chaps.

I was interested in the post above because I’m always fascinated by people’s way of recording or writing songs. We do not make up songs together simply because we have no time to do so. I write the majority by myself, usually arrange too, and I almost always write the lyrics before the music which I believe I am in a minority in doing (to say the least). And Hope and Social…don’t, they jam together…and it fascinates me. The way a song becomes good or not or revered or deeply affectionate to a number of people also fascinates me. With a few of my songs, I knew they were good in seconds. I’ve only felt that a few times – hope they’re not the only good ones!! I didn’t feel that ‘wow this is a classic’ when I wrote Lighthouse but people seem to really really respond to it, all across the board, how come I missed that it was a classic? Is it a classic?

Hi, Hope and Social, by the way, if you’re reading this. See you in October 🙂 .

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Guilt, E Song, Stickers…

Apart from the massive guilt I’m feeling (was I a Catholic once, somewhere, in a past life) about many things (not least that pencil I stole from my boss’s desk in ’93 and because I lied when I was seventeen), I am positive and hopeful tonight. Mikey sent me some Coosticks stickers that he made for me and one now adorns my black acoustic (who I keep thinking I should christen Gertie for no good reason). It looks strange on there but lovely too – thanks Mikey, owe you one, or more!

I’m attacking the E song again tonight, can’t wait.

Mr Hudson, Hope And Social, Will Young, Blur, Lisa Hannigan, Glenn Tilbrook (one n or two?) – all truly great at Glasto, probably repeating myself here but what the hey…

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I’ve got hope because music is a language, and a fairly universal one too. And the more you speak it, it seems, the more people speak it back. I’ve got hope because, contrary to some lyrics I wrote recently, I believe I am not quite morally wasted… yet. I also know there’s people out there who care about me, something to not underestimate – not everyone has that. And creativity is rife, blossoming, all around, lovely.

So debts and IT disasters and no Glasto for 11 months is easy to get over.

On a less optimistic note, I washed my Glastonbury jeans with the kazoo I got from the Hope and Social gig still inside a pocket and it melted!

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