Saturday, 26 December 2009

christmas bonus

So it turns out I have explosive amnesia, and thus forgot to announce on this blog that 'Horatio Dies' is also available for free download, as of sometime last month.

Fetch it, if you so wish:


Friday, 25 December 2009

merry christmas (aka A Lack of Color for free)

short and sweet, as it's currently balls o'clock on what is now technically Boxing Day in the UK,

the presents have been opened, turkey devoured save for the leftovers to go in sandwiches for the next.. ooh.. fifty-two weeks and bad tv digested (Doctor Who the main culprit, a soul-crushing example of snatching heavy defeat from the jaws of televisual victory - how these scriptwriters can write some of the best and, a few minutes later, the worst tv you'll see in a year beggars belief).

and now i sit, late at night, offering you a present of sorts. technically it's the free mp3 for the month of January, but the time is right. find below the link to the free download of my cover of Death Cab For Cutie's A Lack of Color. I couldn't decide whether this was a correct title to be had in England, so it's now officially A Lack of Colo(u)r.

special thanks to Barry/Oxygen Thief who bought me the Cyanide and Happiness book for Christmas, highlights below:

happy (dark humour) yule!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

all hail: union chapel

the end of a decade.

a decade that gave us not the Oasis vs Blur intensity of the 90s, but the evolution of Radiohead, the embarrassment of nu-metal and the digital music revolution, which probably did more for intelligent debate, legislation and piracy than two Mancunians and some art school indie kids ever did. shame about Linkin Park though.

and so it is, at the end of this decade, i find my final gig of the year to be Islington's Union Chapel, an 800+ capacity venue and fully-functioning place of worship, albeit one with a fully functioning bar on the first floor. how i got here, i'm still not entirely sure. i know who i have to thank (one Frank Turner, to start with), but the connections and chance encounters that took the me of December 19th, 1999 to the point of stepping onto the stage of one of London's most aesthetically-pleasing and acoustically-brilliant venues ten years later is mind-boggling.

but here i am, and this is how it's happened.

of course, it nearly didn't happen at all. rolling up to the venue at 5pm as instructed to run through the group finale that was 'Last Christmas', it is soon apparent that our headliner tonight is stuck with the Eurostar in Paris. Calais is 'broken' too, and so we leave him booking himself onto a last-minute, probably-really-expensive flight to Heathrow and possibly, probably, perhaps making the venue on time for tonight's show. maybe.

not that this dampened spirits much - a warm crowd, a venue that prefers tea to alcohol and good company on the bill (Mr Adam Killip of The Tailors, Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo and, of course, Chris T-T) meant this show was destined only to succeed, and despite any nervousness in the days leading up to this event (and trust me, dear reader, there was a lot - ask just about anyone i spoke to in the preceding week), the chaos that greeted me upon arrival and ensued right up until my stage time made me feel strangely at home.

i sign records, catch up with friends and wait for Turner, who eventually bundles himself through the back door at 9.20pm and takes to the stage five minutes later, and apologies to the guy who tried to initiate conversation with me at the merch table over my release plans for 2010 only for me to be distracted about a sentence into my reply and, by the time i had finished tending to matters, he was nowhere to be seen. apologies, Well Meaning Fellow.

and so, post-show, we hit the bar to the clicking of cameras - mostly Jay Newton's, my guest of honour for this evening and owner of one disposable camera, Jay himself having inherited his spot from someone who shall remain nameless herein, but who passed up the opportunity to attend this most excellent show for gratis in order to go to some christmas fancy dress party. with a Star Wars theme.

fuck you, Star Wars.

to 2010. x

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

from goring to london via bbc berkshire

as we approach the tail end of the tail end of the tail end of the decade, it'd probably be fitting to recap what the 00s have done for me, where I was at the beginning, how I am now, and thoughts and hopes for the next ten years.

so let's talk about prison
eh, decade schmecade. let's talk about a new project i've been working on. a little while back a man named Jon Potter from Company Paradiso contacted me with news of a project they're calling Ballads of Reading Jail, an arts-council funded project whereby Jon and friends work with prisoners in Reading Jail, where Oscar Wilde wrote his 'Ballad of Reading Jail' and what is these days a young offenders institution, encouraging them to write poetry around their various experiences and, to finish the project, commissioning musicians to write songs using the results.

as someone with a little more experience of the prison system than your average joe and josephine, it was a project i was happy to help out with and an interesting time, despite the utter nightmare we had for the one day we had in the studio, a day only rescued by the sheer heroics of producer extraordinaire Matt Bew. duly, 'The Day I Got Stuck', a shameless if cumbersome pop ditty was born, featuring James Loar (Full Force Gales, Heartwear Process) on drum duties. due to the nature of the project, co-ordinated by Duncan at BBC Berkshire (who looks after, amongst other things, BBC Introducing's The Session), this won't be readily available, but i do have copies if you're a) interested, and b) capable of getting your shit together and dropping me a message over email or MySpace or Facebook or wherever. i'm going to smack it up on the myspace for a little while shortly, too.

to close, I'll be on The Session this Sunday talking about the whole thing, answering questions on the importance of projects like these, my own experiences and why I flat refused to write this song as an actual ballad, but i'm a little apprehensive of how it'll sound as when we recorded the interview I waffled on for what seemed like forever and probably came off sounding like a hippy who believes everyone should be forgiven of their crimes. i don't, okay, every crime has a victim and that shouldn't be forgotten, but i tried my darndest to communicate how prison shouldn't just be about punishment, especially amongst the young, it can also be about rehabilitation, and how (i believe, in my opinion, etc) getting prisoners involved in initiatives like these can benefit them in the long run.

so whilst you listen to me squirm on radio and then hear how I reduced a young man named Peter's pain into three minutes and twenty seconds of uptempo indie-pop, remember that i'm not really trying to get you to buy flowers for the guy who punched your sister.

in the meantime..
provided i've not been branded too left wing for the well-to-do village of Goring, I'll be playing at Goring Unplugged's Christmas Cracker in the quaint setting of Goring Village Hall this Friday (11th) as part of the warm-up for the Union Chapel show in Islington on the 19th alongside all-round star Frank Turner and others. That's to say, they'll be in London, it's just me who'll be in Goring for the BYOB/BYOP (picnic!), entirely-acoustic open-mic style event. Amy's Ghost will be there too, though, so it's all good.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

the wait for cheesecake

it's almost unbearable. two to two-and-a-half hours at room temperature; the glistening blackcurrant masterpiece mocks me from the corner.

so instead i thought i'd write in this blog for some things you might have missed. after all, it has been a while.

ben vs [edit] radio: the return
yes, they let me back on the podcast back in november, and another 75-ish minutes of music is available for download right here:

actually i can't even remember if i was invited to go back to [edit] radio and host another shambles, or whether i just demanded that it happen in the manner of Mariah Carey, but i have indeed succeeded in worming my way onto another podcast. this time, i press play on my mp3 player in honour of such greats as Pavement, Harvey Danger, Biffy and Skee-Lo. yes, Skee-Lo. it's not like 5'10 is the ideal height, kids.

more free mp3s from the summer's split EP!
as part of an ongoing drive which will see a new free mp3 every month from now until the album's release next year, after i recently made 'Friendly Fire' available from the Exclamation At Asterisk Hash EP for free, messrs Lockey and Thief are following suit with a track each from the very same record. okay okay, so perhaps it's because we just sent them out to various music blogs, but it wouldn't make sense to not offer them to you here. alors:

Ben Marwood - Friendly Fire

Jim Lockey - The Boat Song (EP Version)

Oxygen Thief - Too Many Trees

Exclamation At Asterisk Hash is still available and an ideal price to be on all your christmas lists, though i forget what price it actually is. which is weird, because i priced it. Amazon says £4.98!

it's also available digitally, if you're hip and with the times. and why wouldn't you be? it's better than the Mail.

finally, on the topic of Oxygen Thief and Jim Lockey
i found myself wandering the wastelands of the internet the other night, as part of an ongoing drive to utterly fail at sleeping, and stumbled across the tour videos from the summer. if you get a moment late one night and you're similarly bored, my favourite two by miles are here:

Day 8 (Leeds to Newcastle):

Day 9 (Newcastle to Huddersfield):

i love them both (and kev) more than words at the end of a blog can express.

b. x