The Dawn Chorus / The Retrospective Soundtrack Players - Blogging all over the World

My name is Kyle. I am a happily failing indie/punk/folk/country/rock musician from Hampshire, UK. I have been singing and songwriting in The Dawn Chorus since 2005, and The Retrospective Soundtrack Players since 2010. I love these two bands like my brother/wife rolled into one. This blog details the shows I have played with both bands, in chronological order.

Friday, February 19, 2010


The Carnival Leaves Town - Track by Track

1) Enter: The Carnival - This was written quite late in the day once I knew there was a theme to the album. It was originally written to lead into 'Carnivalesque' but we changed the key so that it ran into 'The Guilt' instead. I wrote the vocal part but I wanted it to be shouted by a proper circus announcer. My effort and our label boss Rich's effort didn't quite sound right, but eventually Matt the drummer did a great take. It didn't sound right high in the mix, but when we added ambient noises and lowered the vocal in the mix it sounded great. I can play exactly one song on the melodica, and this is it. The idea here is quite similar to the opening track from Tom Waits' 'The Black Rider', though I hadn't heard that when I wrote this.

2) The Guilt! - One of the oldest songs on the record. I think this song encapsulates the essence of what we're about. This, along with 'Carnivalesque', is meant to cover the theme of staying faithful despite temptation - In the context of the album it's about a guy staying faithful while his girl is on the road with the Carnival. It's probably the most fun to play live out of all the new songs.

3) Pacifists - This began life much further back in the running order, but it was succesfully bumped forward after an intense Concordes-esque band meeting. The story doesn't really have anything to do with the Carnival theme, it just comes from something I overheard people on a train talking about. I suppose it sounds a bit like 'Neon Bible' by Arcade Fire. This was an example of a song that sounded very average at demo stage, but came on leaps and bounds when the band got their teeth into it.

4) Heartbeat in 5/4 - I knew this would be great from when Neil first played me the riff. I nicked the title idea from a Gaslight Anthem song but didn't realise until it was too late. This could be my favourite track from the album.

5) Relatively Young and Quite in Love - I'm proud of this because it pulls together so many instruments but without sounding like a mess. It's the only time on the album that I bitch about small town music scenes, which I used to do a lot more. The title comes from when I was a legendary local band called The Marvellous Mechanical Band play a track called 'When You're Young and in Love', or something along those lines. And I thought; these guys are older than me but they're young an in love. So perhaps that could apply to anyone. It's really me trying to say that despite all the crap that comes with it, there's nothing I'd rather do than spend time with my 6 best friends, playing silly country-folk music to 10 people in Sheffield.

6) Carnivalesque - This was/is the lead-off single and features the charming Mr Frank Turner on vocals. We first met him when we supported him for a dodgy gig in Portsmouth, and he seemed to really like our stuff, so we kept in contact and supported him a few more times, then managed to rope him into singing on a few album tracks. He did a great job and had it finished in time for us to eat Humous and listen to his album. The three-trumpet part of this song is possibly the best thing we've ever done - it could have come out sounding a bit ska but actually ended up with more of an Eastern European feel.

It recently struck me that I got the titles of 'The Guilt' and 'Carnivalesque' round the wrong way, since this mentions the word 'guilt' twice and both songs are equally 'carnival-esque'. But it's a bit late once the album has been out for 3 weeks.

7) Schumann - Last year I had a book which had 365 pages so that you could learn about something new every day of the year. Fridays were music but it was always boring classical music, though some of the composers had interesting lives, such as Schumann. He was a child prodigy, as was his future wife Clara, whom he met when he was about 16 and she was nine or something. I'm working from memory. He was a bit of a genius but drove himself mad and completely lost the plot later in his life. I can't really remember the details any more...

...but I was inspired at the time and wrote this.

8) Green, Unpleasant Land - This is also one of the oldest tracks, though it's been changed so many times that we don't play it live any more. I quite like it, listening back. It's probably the most 'Big Adventure' track on the album. Maybe we'll play it again one day.

9) Carnival Sound - This was a very, very late entry to the album but I'm chuffed that it made it. It's one of my favourite lyrics; I think it captures a few of the recurring themes on the album. Me, Neil and Wit are the only players on this track - the falsetto 'oohs' are myself and Neil, despite Neil's best efforts to replace them with Simps. It was probably the least produced track, and in a way it makes me want to make a more spontaneous album sometime, either within or without the DC.

10) The Happiest Home in These Hills - yes, I stole that title and melody from.... Pete's Dragon:

If Disney ever sue us then I guess at least it means someone's listening. This is very old, possibly the actual oldest track of the bunch. I'm not mad on the lyric, but I guess it gets the contrast of people's perception vs reality across, or at least it's meant to. Great fun to play live with the massive drums, I'm not quite sure if it's possible to do all the extra drums justice on record. Lots of people seem to like this though.

11) Raised on High Wires - This was originally called 'Carnival no.2', though that got veto'd due to the ridiculous amount of Carnival titles already involved. Lots of people mention Weezer, I think it's the bridge that's Weezeresque. For some reason we've stopped playing this live but I'm very keen for it to return asap. It's a hell of a tune. The original structure was very different and the old chorus was completely balls, but Neil and I (mostly Neil) spent about six months re-moulding it to make it work.

12) The Carnival Leaves Town - We had gotten into a habit recently of closing every EP and album with a huge crescendo of a track - Little Pinpricks, Last Day of April, A Blast from the Present - and we didn't want to fall into the trap of doing the same again. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those tracks, it's just that we aimed for a different kind of album closer. It still has a big ending, but in a more controlled way. Yes, it sounds 100% Saddle Creek but I really don't care.

That's it, hope you like it.


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