• Noughties but Nice

    Jan 12 2010, 20h37

    Nothing betrays advancing age like the sudden onset of end-of-the-decade surveys peppering the music-savvy corners of the media over the last few months, especially when Uncut cheekily published their round-up of ten years of tunes in early October. At the behest of a friend, I compiled my top 50 of the decade, making it somewhat easier on myself by restricting artists to a single album apiece. (I don’t know what I would’ve done had The Blue Nile released two albums during the decade.) The order is alphabetical by artist, although there are surely no prizes for guessing which album I hold in, uh, highest esteem.

    Ryan Adams - Gold
    American Music Club - A Toast to You
    A Silver Mt. Zion - He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms…
    Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of Bewilderbeast
    Beck - Sea Change
    Belle & Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
    Bjork - Selmasongs
    Black Box Recorder - The Facts of Life
    The Blue Nile - High
    Blur - Think Tank
    Built to Spill - Live
    Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering
    Kate Bush - Aerial
    Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
    Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around
    Rosanne Cash - Black Cadillac
    Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus
    Delta - Slippin' Out
    Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
    Doves - Lost Souls
    Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark
    Bob Dylan - Love and Theft
    Eels - Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
    Mark Eitzel - The Invisible Man
    Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
    Donald Fagen - Morph The Cat
    The Felice Brothers - Yonder is the Clock
    Bryan Ferry - Frantic
    The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
    Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump
    Luke Haines - The Oliver Twist Manifesto
    Heligoland - Heligoland
    His Name Is Alive - Someday My Blues Will Cover the Earth
    The Hold Steady -Boys And Girls In America
    Lambchop - Nixon
    Jesse Malin - The Fine Art of Self Destruction
    Van Morrison - Astral Weeks: Live At The Hollywood Bowl
    The National - Alligator
    Joanna Newsom - Ys
    Primal Scream - Exterminator
    Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
    Richmond Fontaine - Post To Wire
    Roxy Music - Live
    Bruce Springsteen - Magic
    Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
    Turin Brakes - The Optimist LP
    Laura Veirs - Carbon Glacier
    Wilco -Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    Brian Wilson - SMiLE
    Thom Yorke - The Eraser
  • I scrobble vinyl!

    Fev 2 2008, 18h00

    And so can you, too. Admittedly, the process outlined below is fairly labour-intensive, but hey, you play vinyl, doncha? None of us are here for the convenience! (And apologies in advance if this is all old news around here.)

    last.fm can't tell the difference between me scrobbling all 60 minutes of The Necks' "Drive By" and me scrobbling 40 seconds of silence that I've tagged as The Necks' "Drive By".

    Now, with this knowledge comes great responsibility. Yes, this is exactly how some people apply a little rocket power to their profile to make it look as though they spend 80 days a week listening to their favourite beat ensemble. But we're only intending to use this knowledge for good, rather than evil, aren't we?

    So, once I've played something on vinyl, I take a 40 second low bitrate MP3 file (it doesn't have to be 40 seconds specifically, but it must be at least 31 seconds long; if I recall correctly that's the threshold above which last.fm will recognise a scrobble, to prevent profiles getting jammed up with 30 second previews from the iTunes store), copy it to a folder a number of times (once for each track on the album), and then use Mp3tag to change the files' artist, album and track tags to represent what I want to scrobble. Having done all this, I drag the retagged files to an iTunes playlist, let it play and then, mere minutes later, there's the record I've listened to, all scrobbled to my profile page!

    It's as easy as that!

    Of course, there are disadvantages. It's hardly an automated process: you'll have to type all that tag information in yourself, although you could always look up the album in question on MusicBrainz and then copy and paste the album and track titles, which will at least mean you're inputting clean data in the most MusicBrainz- (and hence last.fm-) compliant format. On the upside, though, once you've created your mock up of an album, you can save it (typically a 10 track album takes up 400kB for me; I use 8kbps MP3 files to keep the size down - they'd probably be unlistenable for music, but remember that it's the tags, rather than the content, we're interested in) and when you next want to scrobble that album all you have to do is drag it to a playlist.

    Another drawback, for iTunes users at least, is that dragging the files into an iTunes playlist (from, in my case, Windows Explorer) automatically adds them to the iTunes Library. There doesn't seem to be any way around this, so I always ensure I delete them from the library once they've been scrobbled, before I get a load of 40 second silent tracks turning up on my iPod.

    But...and it's a big but...now you're scrobbling vinyl. Result! Course, if any of you have written an Audioscrobbler plug-in for your turntable I'd be delighted to hear from you...
  • PB on TV

    Jun 3 2007, 14h53

    Another new song! That fifth album can't be more than a few years away at this rate.

  • For one night only...

    Mar 30 2007, 10h19

    The Blue Nile will be playing a one-off concert at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall as part of the city's International Festival. More info here.
  • Blue Nile American tour announced!

    Dez 8 2006, 8h18

    Yes, a Blue Nile tour, not a Paul Buchanan tour. Details here.
  • The ultimate PB resource!

    Dez 3 2006, 12h06

    Way more informative than the irregularly updated Blue Nile website, revel in a cornucopia of Paul Buchanan-related stuff and things here.
  • Paul Buchanan speaks!!

    Dez 1 2006, 14h00

    Saying not very much, albeit very eloquently, observe The Blue Nile frontman Paul Buchanan skillfully dodging the question of whether the band still exist and expressing his admiration for The Arcade Fire here.

    And yet here he's practically cutting chunks off his soul in an astonishingly revealing interview.
  • Paul Buchanan discusses Michael Caine

    Nov 29 2006, 10h39

    Blatantly cut and pasted from the Time Out website:

    Paul Buchanan was born on April 16 1956 in Edinburgh. He is the singer and songwriter in The Blue Nile, formed with Robert Bell and PJ Moore in Glasgow in 1981. In 25 years they have released four albums of minimalist melancholia, attracting numerous critical superlatives. The band is currently on hold, but Buchanan returned to live performance for the first time in a decade earlier this year.

    I like his real name: Maurice Micklewhite. That’s a good start. And I like his attitude to working: ‘First of all I choose the great roles, and if none of these come, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don’t come, I choose the ones that pay the rent.’ And I love the fact that he fell in love with his wife when he saw her in a Maxwell House advert – isn’t that brilliant! He tracked her down. He thought she was Brazilian and lived in Brazil, but it turned out that she was Indian and that she lived in Fulham. So off he went. And when he got his first car, he couldn’t drive, so he just got a Rolls-Royce and a chauffeur. What I’m basically saying is that I wish I was Michael Caine.

    There is a brilliant scene in one of the Harry Palmer movies: these two hoodlums are harassing a black woman on the tube, and when he’s getting off, in a very low-key manner, he clobbers the pair of them, but he’s still got on his immaculate coat and the specs. There is a bit of me that likes that about him. He’s a man. I remember being obsessed by the fact that Harry Palmer would go home and drink Blue Mountain coffee – I remember thinking that that’s what it must be like being grown up: you have your own place and a particular brand of coffee that you like.

    Caine, in a way, embodies that time when you thought London was unspeakably hip, you know, when The Beatles were around. I like that era, generally. He’s a good representative of London, because a large part of his sexiness is firmly rooted in exactly who he is, which is Maurice Micklewhite from Rotherhithe. He also has an amazing voice – very modulated. The inflections are very peculiar to him, but he has somehow made that London accent sexy and sophisticated, because he’s got charisma.

    I like his mix of absolute capability and compassion. Even in ‘Get Carter’, you are very aware of the fact that – despite who he is and what he does – there’s something else going on. He made that film because he said that movies portrayed British gangsters as either cartoons or stupid, and it’s not like that. He really manages to convey an internal life and background to this character that is diametrically at odds with what he’s doing. I like that combination. He’s way beyond the action hero. When he does something it doesn’t seem cartoonish – it seems genuinely either brave or violent, rather than it being obvious that the camera is four feet away and Vin Diesel’s torso is having baby oil rubbed on it for reasons nobody is entirely clear about!

    You never get the slightest feeling of affectation or pretence off him, especially as he’s got older. Even in ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’, when he is the victim of his own emotions, he manages to portray that very lightly, I think, without veering over into Hugh Grant territory. He’s got major presence but with almost no movement. He once said, ‘Be like a duck: calm on the surface but always paddling like the Dickens underneath,’ and I think that captures his quality of stillness. And he is fantastic at listening onscreen – just watch his face when someone is saying something to him.

    He’s been responsible for some amazing films: he’s brilliant in ‘The Italian Job’. I watched the remake the other night in slack-jawed disappointment. ‘Alfie’ was a fabulous but deeply sad film. ‘Get Carter’ is uncompromisingly British, but artistic as well. I have, admittedly, also seen ‘The Swarm’, probably because I just couldn’t be bothered to get up from the sofa.

    I actually passed him in a hotel once in London. I just thought he looked fantastic. He wears a good coat, I must say. I’ve even seen him wearing a camel coat and pulling it off. He’s a film star because he’s someone people want to look at. It’s part of the funny transaction between actors and the audience: you know that you’re going to see Michael Caine, and even though you’re watching the drama and following the narrative, you’re always watching him as an individual as well.

    He gives off a fundamentally good, capable vibe. There were a few lean years before he made it when he thought it just wasn’t happening, and you can see that in his acting. He seems self-possessed and yet self-deprecating. There’s something reassuring about Caine – he doesn’t give off any surliness whatsoever. You don’t get the feeling that he’s kicking up a dreadful fuss in the trailer. It’s not about that. I like to think he is basically a good guy who has done great work. And you know, it’s pretty stylish to marry the girl out of the coffee advert.
  • Blue Nile newsletter!

    Nov 22 2006, 11h41

    It's only taken the best part of two years, but over at the Blue Nile website it's now possible to subscribe to a forthcoming Blue Nile newsletter! Would it be rash to presume that would mean there's going to be some forthcoming Blue Nile news?
  • Vinyl to MP3 the easy way: thanks Touch And Go!

    Nov 20 2006, 21h11

    So, the new(ish) Black Heart Procession album "The Spell" arrived round my way on vinyl, and from out of the sleeve fluttered one of those delightful go to this website/enter this code/revel in free MP3 download coupons. And, even better than that, T&G have trumped Matador and Merge by offering their downloads at closer-to-vinyl-quality 256 kbps! Happy happy joy joy.