This is the story of two best friends.
The year was 2001. The date, September 11th.
The day, first day of college. The college, Cambridge Regional College.
The course, some shit music course.
Anyway, this is where James Macdonald and Jamie Cameron met.
Pretty different individuals, but also pretty differently individual. There was an instant spark.. not in the romantic way.. but in the old fashioned platonic friend way.
Friends straight away, eventually they decided to record a song together in the holidays before their second college year.
They recorded in the warmth of Jamies Essex bedroom, playing all the instruments themselves, and after a couple of hours Red Rock was born. After realising they quite liked each other ideas they decided to record some more together, finding it a welcome distraction and escape from the worries of normal life.
But first a gap of about 5 or so months due to laziness and neither being able to drive..
Eventually, it seemed like the right time to record and to name the duo something suitably strange.
Since I Was A Little Girl was chosen clearly on the basis that it is a complete lie. After recording 4 or 5 songs the pair decided to try and generate some interest by putting an MP3 on Drowned In Sound. Suddenly SIWALG started gaining interest from a number of record labels, large and small.
The most interesting and like-minded being John Jervis's Where Its At Is Where You Are label.
John liked the pairs wide-eyed, do it yourself, ambitious music so much, he decided to release a SIWALG EP .
Everything seemed to be going their way, but then suddenly in June 2003, both members were involved in a terrible car accident, with Jamie suffering a collapsed lung.. and James dying a couple of days later.
In spite of this, the release still went ahead, and the debut EP quickly sold out. An album followed in August 2004, featuring almost all of the songs recorded in the pairs' short career.
Here are some quotes about the Since I Was A Little Girl album:
"It's a record of extraordinary brooding melancholy, power and passion full of surprises and twists and dark hidden corners and riddles." - Tom Robinson - BBC 6Music, Musician
"If you like your music a little more personal than normal, this album has everything. It has the multi textures of Maximilian Hecker and the warm vocals and building soundscapes of a more lo-fi Elbow. In no small part due to its blunt lyrics, the songs are often deceptively simple until you really listen to what’s going on in the background, and the wave of ambience hits you in the face - most notably on the ethereal Song About Someone.
Some of the lyrics take a painfully poignant new role considering the tragic circumstances - James, one half of the duo, was killed in a car accident before the album’s completion. From the same crash, his recording partner Jamie (whose bedroom is where the album was pinned down) was left hospitalised but eventually saw the album through to the end. A Nice Drive says ”no one survived, no one’s alive, everybody’s dead”, while “with both legs broken and my hands behind my back, I’m crippled and I’m helpless” in on Song For A Superhero. Read into that what you will.
Since I Was A Little Girl have that story but don’t need the sympathy vote; Good Morning Sunshine… And Goodnight is a unique listening experience. Yellow Aeroplane (Like Yellow Submarine, But Different… And Better) injects a little much-needed humour into the proceedings while She’s OK Tomorrow rocks it up slightly, but the strength of the CD is the sheer number of heartbreakingly beautiful tunes: Stuff’s Just Not Working Out, They Saved My Life, and especially the multi-part vocals of For The Girl I’ve Never Met. Then you can throw into the mix the guitar’n’voice intro of Good Morning Sunshine, the spooky blues of Red Rock, and the weepy piano’n’voice ending of …And Goodnight.
Pop music is great. Some of it. The vast majority of it, however, is spat out by corporate marketing machines, with teams of songwriters over a single album, the songs already in place for the pretty singers to warble over. While this process has barfed forth some of the most memorable moments in music history, it has no soul, it’s not organic and may as well have been recorded by robots.
While that seems like stating the bleedin’ obvious, it needs saying to put a record like this into perspective. This is one the polar opposite to the pop machine; a record of incredible depth, made by two people without world domination ideas, making music just for the sake of… making music. The biggest shame is that this is their only album: “this was just the beginning of something special.” - Adie Nunn - Drowned In Sound
"The story has ended too soon, but that is all the more reason to treasure a precious record of fragile beauty." - Toby Allanson - Herts & Essex Observer
"Jamie Cameron and James MacDonald, a pair of college friends, recorded this album in Jamie's bedroom in Essex.
It's a thing of rare beauty, sometime exquisitely so, as on Rest Your Head where haunting ethereal vocal harmonies and swelling synths swirl around a simple acoustic guitar harmonica arrangement while the lyric suggests that somebody should rest, give in and kill his (or her) friends.
Strange stuff indeed, but utterly compelling, like a scary peek inside the mind of a madman. Similarly, A Nice Drive is a pleasantly languid track telling of a car journey which ends in mass murder, and the gently strummed They Saved My Life has nothing but the title as its lyric. It's a bit like the musical equivalent of a film like Donnie Darko, where all the rules of normal behaviour are suspended, and stark fantasy blends with mundane reality.
In musical terms, these desolate musical landscapes are only matched by albums like Big Star Third or Syd Barrett's post-Pink Floyd recordings. The album feels unfinished, but that's because it is. James MacDonald died in a car crash before the pair could complete what they were doing, and Cameron has released the album, warts and all, as a tribute to his friend. It would be nice if it can be appreciated for what it is - a sublimely strange set of songs - but MacDonald's death may well encourage a darker kind of celebrity for the album." - Johnny Black (Hi-Fi News, Mojo)
released February 8, 2004
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