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LISTEN: New Cleaners From Venus
Aug Stone , November 3rd, 2015 16:39

Martin Newell shares new track from Cleaners From Venus project; listen to it below

It's getting towards 2 AM one long summer evening just past and I'm sitting at my writing desk about to call it a night and head to bed. One last check of the emails and what's this? Johnny from Soft Bodies Records has sent me an advance copy of Martin Newell's new Cleaners From Venus album, Rose Of The Lanes. Now the sensible thing would be to sleep and listen in the morning with fresh ears. But who is ever sensible when it comes to pop music? And who can sleep when there's a new album by one of their favourite songwriters waiting at the click of a finger?

Opening track, 'Rose Of The Lanes', is perhaps the quintessential Cleaners From Venus song, with Dr. Who references to boot. But it was song two, 'Little French Blue', that really jolted me awake to take notice. And keep hitting repeat as I needed, at 2:05 AM, to hear it three times in a row (and again after the whole album had played through). A rough and ready number that will surely make one of the top spots in my Songs Of 2015. Full of that longing for something that just isn't going to work out, even though the possibility of otherwise keeps rearing its seductive head. All that inner turmoil, deceptive decisions crashing against steadfast self-knowledge, and the enchantments thus engendered, are perfectly evoked in the way Martin delivers the line 'and you stared at me once again'.

Martin Newell had the following to say about the track: "It came out fully formed. I was mucking about in the kitchen with it on the Friday. And on the Saturday afternoon, lunchtime, I started recording and it all went smack down very quickly. There wasn't a lot that needed to be done to it. The lyrics were written while I was recording. It's an 'I'm sorry' song, but not about my current situation, it's rooted in the past. All the pointless rows I'd had with women where I resort to yob mode and say 'I don't care'. Then when I've simmered down, I'll be sorry afterwards, when it's too late.

"The line 'So you asked me what I did, I said 'when'?' came from one of the smartest remarks I have ever heard. I had a very belligerent girlfriend once and this snotty woman at a party looked her up and down and said 'and what do you do?' My girlfriend answered, 'when? When I'm in the bath? When I wake up in the morning? Or when I'm sitting in a pub?' That's great. It crushes the opposition with one word.

"Everything on 'Little French Blue' was just one take too. I thought 'we've got a winner here, I'm leaving it. I'm not gonna do any more mucking about'. There's only one guitar on there. One crude guitar where I thought 'fuck it, I don't know what I'm doing, I'll just step on the fuzz and see what happens.' And I used the same tone for the solo. There's even a couple of mistakes in the solo but I thought 'I'll leave that' because it will annoy a proper guitarist, someone who takes pride in their (sneers) craftsmanship. They'll say 'why didn't you go back and get it right?' I'll say 'because I'm Martin Newell, I'm a scruffy fucker and fuck off' (laughs). As old as I am, I still think 'fuck that, let's get it done and go down the pub'.

"I'm a great believer in doing things of the time. You must write the songs, record them, and get them out. In the '60s, albums were needed. Bands wrote on the road and in the studio then banged things out, and intentionally or unintentionally they captured the zeitgeist. I wrote the album between March-May and it was available for people to listen to in July. That's how it should be, because I'm picking up a certain amount of what everyone else is feeling. My uncertainty belongs to the world. Or my optimism. Whatever. That's the way I like to work. Write it, get it out.

"But in fact there is an element of care and consideration in there. The backing vocals on 'Little French Blue' are particularly good, I had really good fun with those. I put three or four of them on. That harmony works great. When it goes up, there's something really unusual about it. It has an impact, adding a poignancy to 'If you ever come round which you don't, I'll say I'll change but I probably won't'. Which sums up the whole song really."

You can catch Martin Newell live with The Hosepipe Band this November and December