Sunday, 5 July 2009

Five's Alive

Finally, it is done. Album #5 is officially finished. Making a record is a bit like baking a cake (no, it isn't in any way remotely like baking a cake, unless your cake cost you thousands of pounds to make, isn't appreciated by anyone - even close relatives - and is eventually given away slightly stale at jumble sales) but bear with me, I've started this analogy so I'm going to finish it.

Once you have spent time gathering the ingredients; a pound of finely sifted experience; a few drops of bitter disappointment; the zest of renewed self-belief; and some sultanas... the album baking process unfolds slowly over time, changing slightly with each added ingredient, until finally, with your album starting to resemble the finished product, it is sent for the final mastering process.

At any stage something could go wrong, you could balls up the recording, the mixing, the track order (who apart from me actually listens to albums in order these days?) and finally the mastering. Assuming that you've actually started with half decent songs in the first place.

It is a stressful time. Will the cake rise? Are the ingredients better than the whole, will it come back from the bakery with "happy birthday, Tim" written in pink icing? Will the analogy you've embarked upon ever make sense?

But after many months (years when you include the writing period) your album/cake is finally finished, you can sit and stare at it while it cools on the shelf, hoping that maybe this is the cake the public have been waiting for. The one that will change the course of history, the one that will have cookery writers and celebrity chefs knocking down your door for an interview, or at least enable you to take the cake on the road, slicing it up night after night for the delectation of cake lovers everywhere.

It is also a time when your sanity is stretched thin, and those close to you worry that you are beginning to confuse making records with baking cakes. Apparently it can happen.

Fortunately for me then, that there is no time to dwell on this, as album part 2 requires attention, and the songs that were left off part one find a home on the sequel, and the process begins all over again. It's already been a good summer (bearing in mind I hate summer and all that goes with it, give me a good winter any time), I have a tour to look forward to, the occasional fishing trip, and some gigs to see.

It is vital at this point to start listening to music again, without it being a technical exercise. To enjoy the cake as it were, without tasting the baking powder and suet. ( I don't really make cakes, but those sound plausible ingredients). So if anyone has any recommendations new or old, I would appreciate it. I watched Glastonbury and thought it was the best line up ever. Of course, I would like to have played, I have fond memories of my time on the other stage, back in 1948, shortly after the war, when times were hard but we were happy. Much like today. Except for the happy bit.

So, I hope you're having a good summer, at some point I'll start divulging things about the new record (and let's face it, 45 seconds after we've sent it to the first journalist it'll be online somewhere) and then we can once more debate the quality of the cake, how it compares to other cakes I've made, and does the world really need any more of my cakes. That sort of thing.

My current musical recommendations are: Kevin Devine, Brother's Blood. Not just 'cos he's a mate but it's really great songwriting. And anything by Leadbelly, especially Laura. My favourite track of the last year.

I'm reading lots of political memoirs, readying myself for the inevitable Tory victory that will send me deeper into middle-aged depression, and I particularly recommend Chris Mullin "A View From The Foothills".

I'm still continually watching the "West Wing" on loop, as nothing has ever bettered this show - despite what journalists tell us. Yes "The Wire" is good, but you know, not that good.

Oh, and I'm working on a song that may require your help at the shows. I'll keep you posted. Right, I'm off to watch Federer dispatch Roddick in 3 sets. Tennis is almost like sport. Enjoy your Sunday.

P.S Speaking of Wimbledon, I've just remembered that my actual 5th birthday cake was in the shape of Great Uncle Bulgaria from the Wombles. Daddy had just come back from the Crimea and what with the South Sea Bubble bursting, we had to make do with...... ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


  1. Congrats on your fifth cake! I have no doubt whatsoever that I will like it as much as the prior ones. You proved already you're a chef!

  2. I just can't wait to taste your cake... I am so excited!

  3. I still listen to albums in order. Do the kids not do that now!!??

  4. That was my prediction for the final too - how wrong we both were!

  5. Conga rats with completion of 5th album.

    As for recommendations I would suggest a charming Swedish duett called First Aid Kit. Saw them at the Arvika Festival this weekend. They are available at Spotify :)

  6. rich, dark and textured, slightly bitter but with a layer of surprising sweetness (although not too much) in the middle? Could it be sachertorte? can't wait!

    as for music to listen to, Fleet Foxes, the whole album, in order, is a must
    and there are lots of good things to hear (and see)on:

    and get a hold of August's MOJO which is already out - the free album "New Harvest" is great

    Congratulations, by the way!

    p.s and don't put suet in a cake!
    p.p.s love the image of conga rats Lucky Liz!

  7. We're so excited for the new album! (Both halves? Or both layers? Whichever!)

  8. Tom - looking forward to the new album. And despite your ruminations you will always have your fans support.

    Listening wise Patrick Wolf's new album 'The Bachelor' is excellent and for someone who I never tire of listening to, Josh Ritter.

  9. I too still listen to albums in order. Which makes three of us, at least, judging by someone else's comment above.

    Musically I can't recommend Duke Special highly enough.

    Looking forward to CakeAlbum number five.

  10. perfect monday morning news - to beat my monday morning blues!

  11. Hi,Mr.pastry chef

    I'm glad to hear you have finished baking a cake.
    And I can't wait to get a taste of your cake:)

  12. Dear Tom, Theres no one better than your fans that know just how much goes into your cakes and thats why each bite will be savoured and enjoyed. Remember you have a lot of fans that will quite happily PR your new record, just give us a shout:-)
    As for the inevitable Tory victory, it makes me sick to the stomach at the thought, everyone knows the hate/hate relationship between Torys and Scotland.
    Something to listen to are King Creosote's Flick the Vs and Duke Special's I Never Thought This Day Would Come.
    Jim Gellatly told me he is also a fan of yours so I'm sure he'll want to let folk know about the new record:-)

  13. Really looking forward to the new album and the autumn gigs!
    Some suggestions on music - the original harmony ridge creek dippers 1st album; Kings of convenience; Elliott Smith "xo"....all old stuff i know.
    Good luck with part 2

  14. I'm wheat-intolerant. Will this be a problem?

  15. Looking forward to the new album, Tom.

    And as for West Wing and the Wire, my love for them is equal. I can't, and won't, choose between them. (Leon says I may change my mind once I watch Deadwood).

  16. Oh and the new Bell x1 album is fabulous but then I'm sure you knew that already.

  17. Hi Tom - how come you don't visit Berlin during your tour? Am soon going to move there from Dublin and start to fear about my regular dose of misery there ...

  18. Um, if you need baking advice I'd try the W.I.

    Lovely to see you at Kevins Barfly gig last week, I concur with your Brothers Blood recommendation wholeheartedly.

    Soooo looking forward to all the UK dates with the BrOlli's (do you see what I did there ;o).

  19. Looking forward to the new album, hope it'll blow me home, home being my wonderful universe filled with your songs, of course.

    Federer won. I'm glad: he's the most elegant tennis player ever.

    Now, maybe Tom you would like Arman Méliès (I think you will):

    I especially recommend "Le Soupir du monde" among the tracks available.

  20. Also, I just became aware of them, watching the great movie Half Nelson (I'm pretty sure you would like this movie too, by the way): Broken Social Scene. Listen to them here:

    About Arman Méliès: do I recollect this wrong or did he do the first part of one of your gig in France?

  21. You had a Womble cake?!
    Why did I never have a Womble cake?

  22. After hearing what my pal and his girlfriend did with their cake i'm a bit concerned about the possible lyrical content of this album but still, for you Tom i'll risk it :-D

  23. Can't wait to buy it!!! I don't understand why you worry so much, your music is fantastic, beautiful, extraordinary, awesome, breathtaking, marvelous...And I don't understand your folks neither, they should be so proud of your talent. You will always have fans waiting impatiently for your next album

  24. This album will be the most eagerly anticipated one for me, of all year. Starsailor's new album was another one. I think you have a lot in common in terms of making timeless, lasting music that is underrated by critics and therefore never gets a real chance with the public. Hope it changes with your new album.

  25. Mmmm, I love cakes...
    I'm listening to Jason Lytle's new album, "Yours Truly, the Commuter". Really loving it. And I watched season 3 of Weeds yesterday, can't wait to see what's next.

  26. Having only just discovered your journal, I'd like to let you know that I love your cakesl they affect me deeply. It may not mean much at all coming from an anon online fan, but I think you're a great musician (and song writer). Don't stop baking, eh?

  27. i always loved cake. Can't wait to hear the new stuff. And i definitely hope for a tour then. Come back to Germany!

  28. Looking forward to the album Tom, I'm sure it will be worth all the effort.

    Agree with the previous post re: Fleet Foxes and would add that The Low Anthem and Bon Iver were also highlights of my Glastonbury (the Park stage always seems to come up with the gems). Plus I saw a young s/s called Frank Hamilton do a small gig a few nights ago...worth a listen...

  29. there's a band you should listen to,
    it's just music and no singing,
    but they are truly fantastic.
    The first two albums are amazing.

    they are called This Will Destroy You,
    and it kinda sounds fitting for us, doesn't it?

    I'm so gonna eat your cake at Rockefeller October 26.
    And i'm bringing some friend who's gonna eat with their ears, too.

  30. Hi Tom!

    I am a huge West Wing fan as well. The Wire was well done through Sesaon 1 (which is all I have seen thus far), but I must STRONGLY push you to watch Deadwood. You are a man who loves writing and I must press you to take the dive and watch three of the best written seasons in the history of television. My circle of reading, writing, thoughtful friends agrees Deadwood is probably the greatest show created to date. Second for me is Battlestar Galactica. You have to indulge the Sci Fi for that one, but similarly stimulating from a writing perspective...

    I am a longtime fan of your work and am thankful that you find it in you to continue. I always listen to albums in order and all the way through. It drives my wife nuts!

    Are you a Classical music fan? Try David Russell, the greatest Classical Guitarist alive today. His CDs are magnificent and there are 25 or so to choose from...start with the Torroba or Tarrega CD...

  31. Lemon Drizzle. That's a nice cake. It might complement your hurricanes...

  32. Oh yes, "The Wire" is that good!

  33. just a wee p.s here

    Calexico - their 2008 album "Carried to Dust"
    *sounds like* a fusion of Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and South American brass bands. I'm listening to it (whole album) on repeat at the moment and it's wonderful. I think a Leadbelly fan will probably enjoy it..

  34. Unrelated comment. The new website = more than worth waiting for.

  35. Hello Jules.... er...which new site? or have you been doing some cunnning snooping?

  36. Gawd, have I stumbled on something I shouldn't have....? Ignore that then. I meant the new Tim McRoy site. That one's really very good.

  37. p.p.s Sun Kil Moon (aka Mark Kozelek) album: "April" is very beautiful. Quite Drakish in parts and a few songs that I could imagine Neil Young singing and lolloping across the stage too.
    His myspace is a bit unforthcoming but at least you get to hear "unlit hallway"

    as for clothing and grooming tips, which I've just noticed you're requesting - you can get away with looking windswept for the whole Alphabet of Hurricanes tour. Easy!

  38. Dear Tom

    Looking forward to you finally coming to Holland again!!!!!

    Your new album must be so great, already totally loving Alphabet of Hurricanes and Can't find you. Is 'you will rise' also a new song or is it older? Just found it on the web. Wonderfull song...! Really hope you will play it in Eindhoven

    See you then




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