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Off The Record #16: "Gone Too Soon"

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Cherry Red's Cafe Bar

92 John Bright Street

Birmingham

United Kingdom

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Off The Record is a Birmingham-based music meetup. The event is centered around making time to listening and appreciating music – specifically, an album in full.

It works something like this: people will arrive, grab food/drinks from the lovely bar and café, and then we’ll sit back and listen to an entire album together, followed by a group chat about it – yep, a bit like a book club.

The theme and album

This event, we’ll be following the theme "Gone Too Soon" – albums by an artist who sadly died before their time. We all know the tragic members of the 27 Club, but for this Halloween special, we'd like to hear about lesser-known artists who left us before their prime.

The album we'll be listening to is by The Exploding Hearts, a power-pop quartet from Portland, Oregon. It's their debut (and sadly only) album, "Guitar Romantic", released in 2003. The band were influenced by The Rezillos, Buzzcocks, The Jam, The Boys, The Only Ones and others, combining a punk/power-pop love with some snappy guitar playing and mock-British vocals.

Just a few months after the album was released, the band were involved in a car accident driving back from a show and three of the four members were killed instantly. In tribute to the Hearts (and other musicians we've lost), we're going to listen to "Guitar Romantic" in all its 30 minute glory.

This month, our session will be curated by Off The Record founder Matt Andrews! Matt's abusing his position although he hasn't hosted since 2015 so it's probably acceptable, right? Matt is a web developer who loves cycling, writing, good beer and messing about on the internet. He loves this album (indeed "guitarromantic" is an embarassing online teenage alias of his) and wants to share it with the world. Or, at least, Birmingham.

We'll be listening to this record in full on the night, but wait, there's more! After we've heard the main album, it’s over to anyone else who wants to play a single song that fits our theme: "Gone Too Soon". We’re not too strict, but the idea is that you’ll pick a song that matches the theme, introduce it to the rest of the group, and then we'll listen to it.

If you can think of an artist or band who were taken from us early (whether it's David Bowie to Amy Winehouse; Elliott Smith to Janis Joplin), then bring along a song by them and share it with the group! If it’s on Spotify or you have it on a portable device, bring it along and you can tell everyone why you love the song (and the album).

What’s this all about?

What’s the point? Why not just listen to it beforehand? Well, half-listening to an album while you’re grappling for a seat on the bus or pretending to work at your desk for the last hour of a Wednesday isn’t the best way to make time for experiencing a record. We want to try to experiment with putting aside time to engage properly with an album, really devote half an hour or so to taking it in, then hearing what other people thought of it. And discovering new stuff that other people really love. That’s the idea.

How much does it cost?

The event is free. The pub does good food so if you fancy some food while you're listening then you're in the right place. Cherry Reds has a brilliant beer selection and does teas and coffees too.

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Cherry Red's Cafe Bar

92 John Bright Street

Birmingham

United Kingdom

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