Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday, 21 May 2010

Review for 'This City Has An Echo' EP

Combining an upbeat, acoustic guitar-led tune with spoken-word that echoes The Jam's That's Entertainment reimagined by Baxter Dury, there's an appealing grub and urbanity to the start of this self-produced EP from St. Albans' Zygmunt Day. There's a nice sense of monotonous reality to Day's lyrics, and a similar pseudo-Victorian pop-vibe as Supreme Vagabond Craftsman to his musical sense; especially on Yellow Light. Culminating in a rousing and erratic bellow of 'Hey!', it's folk music for a dimly lit bar backroom; 'How I wish I'd never been wrong before.' they call out with bitter sobriety and a flickering glow of hopefulness.

Recorded in a bedroom and shed after work, Day's ambition was to create an EP that develops and flows from track to track, and it is impeccably produced and there's a real weight of experience behind the songs, which is even more impressive considering Day's relative youth. There is a distinct journey carved out across these six songs, though it's not always smooth sailing, despite some beautiful cello by Conrad Steel, the title track lacks the punch of other tracks.

Elsewhere there's a peculiar mix of Math-like time signature guitars, rich string arrangments and buoyant lyrics about a young man's suicide on the stirring and heartfelt Edward Brown, which seems to marry Day's ambition and execution perfectly. Streetlights Like Halos barrages forward, a straight rocker, merging A Thousand Trees-era Stereophonics (y'know, when they were good) with Silent Alarm-era Bloc Party (y'know, when they were good), and whilst it is the most obvious track here it still manages to keep a few inventive tricks up its sleeve, not least of all the delightful choir-like vocals on the chorus, helping to off-set the potentially predictable indie vibe of this track.

Closing track Kiss Me By The Car Park employs a lot of the flourishes already explored across the record, it's a North London twee finale that feels disappointingly damp in comparison to what went before. What is undeniable across this six track though is that Zygmunt Day is an incredibly gifted songwriter with some wonderful ideas when it comes to interesting arrangment, and this EP, though far from perfect, has a handful of stand-out tracks and more than a shed-load of imagination.


Reviewed by Owain Paciuszko at God Is In The TV.

Why don't you Download It?

Take me back again

Take me back one more ti-ii-ii-ii-iime, Spanish Rose

Thursday, 20 May 2010

LOUDER! Show, Cambridge, 10th March 2009

[Above] Photo by Chrystal Ding.

Acoustic show in Cambridge. Really cool.

I also did some live videos for the LOUDER! guys:

Albert Street:

This City Has An Echo:

They've also filmed some other musicians, check it out here.

I've been in a library for the entire day. I'm so tired.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Lärmlicht from joe snape on Vimeo.

This is Joe Snape's bold light / sound show. The music is pre-recorded; he's playing the lights. Pretty cool huh!? Best watched fullscreen!

Read all about it.

Monday, 17 May 2010

In Cardiff, December 2009

I went to Cardiff to work on some songs with Sam. We didn't end up recording much whilst we were there, but on the plus side we managed to drink 2 crates of lager. When we got back to St. Albans, we made a proper go of it - the result was this demo:

Of a new song called 'Albert Street', which features the unstoppable Drew MacFarlane on Backing Vocals and Violin. It may or may not make its return this summer.

Also took some pictures, which I think are really cool [above and below].

I read 'The Dead' from Dubliners on the Megabus, and then fell asleep, and when I woke up we were crossing flinty water.

Full English Breakfast

One cup of tea, two Marlboro lights.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Selwyn College, October 2009

Set List:

This City Has An Echo
Edward Brown
Lamplight Romance
Romantic Will [one-off performance]

Better than the year before. Also, Liam McDermott, if you are reading this, sorry I still haven't given your hat back.

Partner in Crime

Introducing Samuel Fletcher Killin.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Bands I Have Played In: Chapter One: The Tonic

[I played in Kiss My Brass before this, but that band/gang/coming-of-age story deserves a deeper, longer, sweatier explanation. It will come.]

The Tonic was a band I formed, at University, to play mainly my own songs. In fact, only my own songs. I was going through a Springsteen phase, and I wanted the E Street Band. I came [quite] close.

This was the line-up:

Zygmunt Day - Vocals, Guitar, Songwriting, Good Looks
Drew MacFarlane - Backing Vocals, Guitar, Violin
Conrad Steel - BV's, Cello
Freya Waley-Cohen - Violin
Andrew Tindall - BV's, Bass
Edward Herring - Keys
Joe Hyam - Drums

[Above] That's us at practise, in the music room at Selwyn College, minus Drew and Freya. I think Drew had choir practise, since he's in Trinity College choir. They are a talented bunch, they go on TV and everything. Here's a picture of Drew on Songs of Praise:

Absolute badboy.

[Above] Our First Gig at Churchill College. We Supported Lloyd Grossman that night, and his post-punk band The New Forbidden. Lloyd complimented my Gretsch. True story. "I own a couple myself!" he laughed. "Your pasta sauce is shit," I said.

Here's the flyer for the gig:

That gig was organised by the estimable Rhodri Karim, who, apart from producing squelchy and/or haunting electro, recorded some demos for us. If I have my way, those demos will never see the light of day, but the songs may yet emerge in some form or another. One of them already has. Kiss Me By The Car Park, a track off 'This City Has An Echo', evolved from a Tonic song, which had some pretty sappy lyrics about writing a poem in Paris or something equally limp. However, I'd indebted to Messers. Hyam, Herring and Steel for their help with the arrangement. Mr. Tindall made a particularly funky bass contribution to another track, which I've always liked. We'll have to see...

Things went a bit quiet during Easter term due to exams, but since I didn't have any as a first-year English student, I planned a whole "programme of events":

Three is a programme!

That June 13th gig was a weird one. As you can probably guess by the band name "Revolutionary Discipline" [They're now called Ragged Army] there was a definite political tone to the night's events, and that tone was definitely on the far-left of the spectrum. Being myself, I decided to dedicate one song to the quick recovery of Mrs. Thatcher's broken arm, which was received with a shocked silence, and a second song to the celebration of the Queen's official birthday, which actually got heckled. A guy in the audience shouted something like "the Queen's a bitch" to which I replied "The Queen is an upstanding member of the aristocracy and a role-model to the young women of this country. She upholds an ideal of British values and is an admirable figurehead for our proud nation." To which he eloquently replied, "I fucked the Queen!". I turned to the band, said "I'm surprised you can fuck anyone you fat cunt", and we played the song. I dunno if the band heard me, so I was denied my moment of triumph. Anyway I didn't want to publicly humiliate the guy, it's just not worth it. We played some more songs, and we were good. It was our best gig for sure.

The next one [15th June - check the programme] was an acoustic gig in Selwyn Chapel, which was a completely different atmosphere. I stood at the front with the band behind me, while people shuffled in and sat reverently in the pews, mostly in silence. I made a nice poster:

And we had a fair turnout. Here's a picture:

As well as playing all the songs we knew, Drew and I each played a solo song. I did a cover of Rancid's 'Ruby Soho', which I am definitely gonna try and record at some point, and Drew played one of his own songs, about his girlfriend at the time, which was really beautiful. Girls were swooning. I think I swooned a little bit. There were swoons all over. But that was cool, it was a really different gig experience to anything I've done before, as most of the gigs I play involve a room full of drunk middle aged men in the back of a pub. Hopefully I'll be repeating it next year, with different acts.

But that wasn't all - the indefatigable [See how big that word is? English degree paying for itself there] Rhodri Karim organised an outdoor "Garden Party" at Churchill College, so we returned, this time with more members and worse sound, for a lap of honour:

It was pretty cool, my mum was there. She said she liked us. Thanks mum. Also, there was a ball pit, a BBQ, and one of those inflatable walls where you put on a velcro suit, jump towards it and stick. Wicked. That said, it wasn't as good as the Union gig. But we didn't do too bad. It was also, unbeknownst [English degree again] to us at the time, to be our last gig.

There are a few reasons I decided to disband The Tonic:

1. Joe Hyam went to Paris to smoke Gauloises and hang out on the Left Bank of the Seine talking about Existentialism.
2. I recorded 'This City Has An Echo' and I wanted to focus on solo stuff, and smaller gigs with a smaller, acoustic band.
3. Rock music [seemingly] has no place in Cambridge, both in terms of the work schedule and the general attitude of the place. When The Tonic was practising, we once got kicked out of the music rooms for being too loud. We offered to turn ourselves down, but apparently the Fellow who had asked for us to stop had specified that we be disbanded. That [admittedly quite petty] experience illustrates the resistance that abounds here, as well as the general apathy of the student populace, to anything that might have soul. This is a great place to be an academic or a classical musician and a bad place to be a naughty boy from a comprehensive. But that's a whoooole other story.

That said, the musicians I met, and the experience I gained with The Tonic, fed directly into the musical development of 'This City Has An Echo'. We made something out of nothing, and managed to make it work for a good while. And we were pretty much the only ones doing it.

So there you have it: The Rise and Fall. Ashes to ashes, dust, etc.

[p.s. Just to clarify I think the Queen is great. God Save The Queen.]

Inn In The Park, Verulamium Park, St. Albans, August 2009

Weird gig. There was a barbeque, and it was mostly attended by mums with kids and pushchairs. Sam Killin and I set it all up [the cables, extension leads and speakers you see in the picture are his] and we got free food, so I for one was very satisfied. I went on in early evening. Before that, a happy-clappy Christian woman sang show tunes to a backing track, and a middle-aged German woman did some Bob Dylan covers. Afterwards, she left with her husband carrying her guitar case and one of her kids. It was quite an idyllic scene. Then I played a few tunes, seemed to go OK. The highlight of the gig for me, though, was playing lead guitar [and thus indulging my inner slash] with my brother Will and our friend Boris, who are collectively known as The Doubletakes. Here's a picture of the incident:

In November, I played a gig with them again in a weird pub called The Palomino in Newmarket. Newmarket is a strange town, cos it's built around horses. At the side of the roads in Newmarket, they have one pavement for horses, and another for people. I think they also have a bike lane; they are very environmentally friendly in Newmarket. That, too, was a really strange gig, including a singer-songwriter who lit 4 candles for "atmosphere" and had a song with the chorus lyrics; "I am your lifelong stalker", without, as far as I could detect, any irony. He was also a massive, muscled skinhead - I don't mean to generalise, but Dashboard Confessional-style ballads were the last thing I was expecting. Then there was another band of slightly greying gents who had one song that - as far as I could hear through the singer's speech impediment - went something along the lines of "I'm in loooooveeeeee... with a square-faced girl". We mainly just hanged around outside and smoked, even though it was literally freezing cold and I was running out of Marlboro Lights.

Anyway, this summer me and my partner in crime, Sam Killin, are hopefully gonna produce and record a proper EP for dem boiz. Watch this space...

Jack Ridley's EP Launch, Fleetville, July 2009

Jack Ridley is my good friend and a good musician. His music can be found here, on his MySpace page.

Here's a picture of me playing with him, later on in summer 2009, in St. Albans town hall:

I think that was his first gig with a band.

That Umbro hoody was recently featured in my first photoshoot for Vogue. They cost about £12, get yourself down Sports World!

Selwyn College, October 2008

I was shit.

The Boot, a long time ago, with Joe Waters

Set list:

If You Got The Money - Jamie T
Down In The Tubestation At Midnight - The Jam

I think we practised once in my kitchen. I think we had to stop so my mum could cook. I had only just bought my Gretsch. But we pulled it off! We pulled it off.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

When I got the music, I got a place to go.

Got an email from the BBC. A Producer from Tom Robinson's show listened to two of my tracks, 'This City Has An Echo' and 'Streetlights Like Halos'. Gotta wait and see if they play em. In the meantime, here are some links to some places you can find em: