A-Z: Drew – Easyworld

Advance warning: today’s A-Z posting comes complete with a small amount of angst beset against hopefully-therapeutic cooking!

So, a bit of an introduction to today’s offering of musical ramblings – I wasn’t actually going to bother with more of this today, as have been in a bit of an odd mood. I had a dream this morning that basically just put me in a negative mood from the outset. Don’t you hate that? It was close enough to reality to wind me up, so I couldn’t easily shake it off. I then got all contemplative about my life, which is never a good idea is it? If you’re in a bad mood things are always going to seem crapper* than they are (*er, ‘more crap’? I’m not meaning ‘more toiletesque’. Yes ‘toiletesque’ is a word! Commander of the English language I am). Er, diatribe aside, I’ve spent too long thinking today, rather than actually doing things. Yesterday morning I compiled a list of things to do over the course of the weekend and how many have I actually managed to do?? Er, 1. Although I kinda partially did another 2 too. But still – rubbish. To try and remedy this a little, plus to hopefully put me in a better mood, I’m going to attempt to make one of my favourite desserts – Baileys Creme Brulee. If it goes well I will have the sense of achievement that comes from creating something, plus the satisfaction of crossing something else off my list of things to do! Plus I’ll have something tasty to eat, which is always a bonus. Although if it goes wrong… well, at least I can blog my culinary disaster and hopefully bring some entertainment to those of you who read this. Win/win – my patented Chantal positive thinking is returning! Ok, it’s not really patented, but maybe it should be! The Chantal Approach To Life: “If life is good, enjoy it! Have a glass of red wine, watch the sun set and listen to some good music. And if life’s crap – blog about it in an amusing manner! Everyone loves a bit of schadenfreude. And if you can still make other people smile when you’re feeling down, then things can’t really be that bad.”

Anyway, on with the music. When I get to an album, rather than singles and EPs, I’ll start the brulee-ing (yes that’s a word as well).

Drew – (A Selection Of) Songs From The Devil’s Chimney
The title’s hopefully self explanatory – it’s an album sampler and contains 5 tracks from the album ‘Songs From The Devil’s Chimney’. One of my many cheap purchases from the fantastic Music And Video Exchange in Camden. I must really get the whole album some time.

Minnie Driver – Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket (single)
I was really impressed when I first heard this song. I really liked Minnie as an actress, but to cross over into making music is always going to be a risk. So many people fail (in terms of good music more than commercial success – I don’t care about commercial success), but I think Minnie pulled it off brilliantly. I really really should get her album, but you all know how long my album wish list is!

The Duke Spirit – Lion Rip (single)
I got really confused a couple of months ago when I heard a Duke Special song on the radio. I thought ‘oh my god, Liela Moss has turned into a man!’ – then realised I was thinking of The Duke Spirit!! Bands shouldn’t be allowed to have similar names!! ;-P

Eastern Lane – Saffron (single promo)
Some time about 3 years ago I realised just how many artists I liked on the Rough Trade label, so decided to browse their website in an attempt to find more bands that I might like. There were a few that caught my attention – the 2 I specifically remember were Eastern Lane and The Fiery Furnaces. I then went to a record fair in Birmingham not long after and kept my eye out for CDs by those 2 bands. I didn’t want to spend much on them, incase I didn’t like them, so I just bought a promo CD each. This was the Eastern Lane one. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed – it just wasn’t my thing at all – so didn’t listen to it again. Well, until now. In some ways it’s probably a bit harsh judging a band on the basis of a 1-track promo, but hey. Listening to it again, it’s an alright song, but the thing that bugged me about it then (and which still does bug me) is that it’s just a bit too generic. It sounds just like all the ‘The’ bands which were being hailed by the NME at the time. You know the ones – The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Hives… they all kinda blended together in my head and none particularly appealed to me. This song makes the same kinda non-impression. The Fiery Furnaces on the other hand, I will come to later!

Easyworld – This Is Where I Stand (album)
Aha, an album! And what an album. Remember those days when David Ford would call himself Dav and wear lots of eyeliner? Brilliant. So much energy in this album – pretty much every song’s a pop/rock gem! Another album that always flies by. It flows together really well too, with lots of the songs running into each other. Anyway, shall try to write a bit more about it as it goes along, but am now going to start the cooking too!! I got the recipe from the internet and have never tried it before, so yes, should be interesting! Ok, aprons to the ready…ooh, actually I have a Baileys apron!! I’m so gonna wear that, just for the novelty. Being on their mailing list is great, you get loads of random free stuff…

Ok, now I’m looking stylish, what next? Hmm… I’m halving the recipe amounts as just want to make 2 desserts (partly because having 4 to myself could be seen as excessive, but mostly because I only have 2 ramekins!!), so this means I have to beat together 1 tbsp of caster sugar with 1 1/2 egg yolks. 1 1/2?? Meh, I’m sticking in 2 and hoping for the best! Live dangerously, Chantal!!! Although I haven’t tried separating eggs for a long long time anyway, so hmm, here goes…

…I unintentionally managed to lose a bit of yolk anyway, so bonus! Right, ‘beating’ now…

…how do you know if it’s soundly beaten? Hmm, that sounds like the beginning of some kind of misogynistic joke. Definitely moving on… ok, next I have to heat up some cream and then stir it into my egg concoction, with the Baileys. However, as I’m a cheapskate, I’m using ‘Irish Meadow’ instead of actual Baileys. Hopefully it’ll work just as well! I then pour it into my nice shiny new pink ramekins and put them in a roasting tray ‘with enough water to come half way up the sides’. Why does that sound like a recipe for disaster? Especially with my old decrepid oven. But OK, will get going with that…

…it’s in the oven! It did smell incredibly nice, I have to say. Although I nearly spilt hot water over myself when trying to get the roasting tray into the oven!! Getting it out could be fun. Anyway, I now have to leave it for 25-30 mins until ‘just set’. Ooh the excitement! It’s the bit after that that troubles me though – the actual brulee part where you sprinkle sugar on the top and put it under a grill. I think I’ll do that one pudding at a time, so if I bugger up one I can eat the other one sans-brulee. Naked creme.

In other news, I’m onto the last song of this album! One of my favourites too – ‘You Were Right’.

Easyworld – Kill The Last Romantic (album)
I’ve really been looking forward to getting up to this album. It’s strange, because I wasn’t that keen on this album when it was released. I missed the pop-rockyness of This Is Where I Stand. This album’s much more introspective and dare-I-say-it ‘ballady’ (again an actual word). Over the past couple of years though, it’s really grown on me. I guess a lot of the songs are less instant than the earlier Easyworld stuff, although I think it’s partly the strange choice of running order that stopped me from liking this album more readily initially. It kicks off with ‘Kill The Last Romantic’, which is more of an intro than anything else, but I really love it. It’s basically the refrain ‘play back this tape, I swear you’ll see, I only want you to be with me. Kill the last romantic, then come back for me’. It’s got an almost dark promise to it and makes you think the album’s going to be quite raw and emotional, which it is in a lot of places – but then it goes into ‘2nd Amendment’, which was the first single and is a brilliant song, but it’s too upbeat and poppy after ‘Kill The Last Romantic’. Having an upbeat song early on’s important, but CelebrityKiller would have worked better I reckon, as it’s got a darker sound.
‘Drive’ – This is track 3 and makes it even harder to get a handle on the album. It’s a lovely, introspective song, which would have been great following track 1, or would be great later on in the album, but after the tongue-in-cheek type sentiment of ‘2nd Amendment’, to have such an honest emotional song made it sound almost trite when I first listened to the album. Actually, it still does – the song works on its own and I really love it now, but in the context of the album I don’t connect to it in the way I usually do, which is a great shame.
”Til The Day’ – Listening to the album for the first time, this was the point at which I’d pretty much decided I wasn’t that keen on it and it wasn’t up to the standard of ‘This Is Where I Stand’. It probably doesn’t help that the first version of ”Til The Day’ I heard was the single version, which has the swearing cut out. Without the swearing, this song sounded almost boybandish! Way too sickly sentimental and ballad-like. That was something I thought I’d never think of Easyworld. So yeah, it took me a looooong time to warm to this song! It’s the swearing that’s the key though – it gives it that edge it needs – without it it would ironically be kinda ‘shit’. I actually really love it now and find it really moving.

Ooh gotta check on me puds…
…er, I can’t tell if they’re ready yet or not! They don’t look how I imagined anyway. They seem almost kinda foamy on top! Hmm. Shall give them a few more mins.

‘A Lot Of Miles From Home’ – By this point in the album, despite 2nd Amendment being an exception, I’d pretty much come to the conclusion that Easyworld had gotten all sentimental and trite and lost their edge. A shame really, as this is the point in the album where the edge really kicks in! This is quite a slow-burning song, but has a nice ambience to it. It would have been great following ‘Kill The Last Romantic’ as would have built on that atmosphere and progressed brilliantly into CelebrityKiller, which follows this song. ‘2nd Amendment’, ‘Drive’ and ”Til The Day’ could have been slotted in later, as they’re not the strongest songs I don’t think.
‘CelebrityKiller’ – Yeah, love this! On first listen it was the only song that really stood out to me. It is to ‘Kill The Last Romantic’ what ‘You & Me’ is to ‘This Is Where I Stand’, I reckon.

Oh god, I nearly got carried away with my typing then and forgot about my puddings!! Just got them out of the oven and they’re actually looking good now 🙂 Shall let them cool. I might take a photo too.

‘All I Can Remember’ – Ah man, I really really love this song too. It’s got a rawness to it, which should really be more indicative of the mood of this album from the outset I reckon. I’ve listened to it loads the past year or so.
‘Tonight’ – Now, this is another slow, sentimental, piano-driven song, but here it works!! Infact from ‘A Lot Of Miles From Home’ onwards this album flows together really well.
‘Goodnight’ – This is a good song anyway, but what makes it is the ending, which builds and builds until it explodes in a more emotive rendition of the intro to this album – “Play back this tape, I swear you’ll see, I only want you to be with me. Kill the last romantic, then come back for me!”

Anyway, back to my cooking (you’re on the edges of your seats right?) – I’m rather on the hungry side now, so shall have some dinner while my puds are cooling (ooh-er, that sounds like some kinda dodgy slang). I’ll then attempt the glazing/caramelising/whatever-it’s-called thing. My main worry is my grill – I haven’t used it in about 3 years. It has a tendency to smoke out the entire kitchen. Plus you can’t use it at the same time as the oven or the hobs as it trips the electricity and you suddenly find yourself in darkness! Always fun. So yeah, I just don’t use it generally, but lacking in a blow torch (oh god, can you imagine?!!), I can’t think of another method of brulee-ization (yeah my English abuse is getting worse).

…OK, food eaten. Time to grill! Shall do it whilst listening to the bonus CD for this album (as I have the limited edition, which comes with a bonus CD of 7 alternative versions of songs on the album). Well, unless the grill trips the electricity – then I won’t be listening to anything!!

…Grill’s on and so is my computer! Hoorah. Have put both of the puds under the grill, as is supposed to take 4-5 mins and I couldn’t be bothered doing that twice. So, it’s all or nothing! Surely they can’t go that wrong just from sitting under a grill for a few minutes! Oh, famous last words?…

Ok, looking quite good! Shall have a quick shower while they cool, then shall chance the eating of one!! Obviously you don’t have to wait that long (to hear about it, that is – you don’t get to eat one – I haven’t mastered teleportation yet (it was on my list of things to do this weekend!)), as by the magic of the internet…

…look, I’m back from my shower! Ta da. Have just eaten 1 of the creme brulees too – I think I probably put a bit too much sugar on top (did I forget to half the amount there?), plus it wasn’t as nice and smooth inside as ones I’ve had in restaurants (probably unsurprisingly), but it still tasted rather rather nice 😀 I should probably have let it cool further, but I couldn’t wait! I think I’ll put the other one in the fridge for tomorrow. It’ll be ok in the fridge won’t it?? Will find out.

Ah, I’m not sure whether it was the cooking or the writing of this blog that did it, but I do feel a whole lot happier now! I can patent my own form of therapy too!! Genius.

To finish, here are my photos:

After just coming out of the oven (before the bit involving the grill):

The finished Imitation-Baileys Creme Brulees:

In the process of being eaten:

Yum.

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