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Neil Halstead is an English songwriter and musician from Reading, Berkshire. He has been hailed by AllMusic as "one of Britain's most respected songwriters", and by Timeout Magazine as "one of Britain's greatest songwriters." These comments and praises are likely derived from Halstead's intensely atmospheric sound and incredibly diverse and thought-provoking lyrics.
Neil-Halstead Profile

Artistic biographyEdit

Neil Halstead's rise to relative fame began in the early nineties with the band Slowdive, of which Halstead was the frontman. After a breakup in '95, however, Slowdive transformed into Mojave 3, a rather psychedelic alt-country act also fronted by Halstead. In 2006, Mojave 3 went into indefinite hiatus, prompting Halstead to launch his own solo career. His first solo album was Sleeping on Roads, released in 2002, before the hiatus.

After the hiatus, Halstead released two more albums -- Oh! Mighty Engine and Palindrome Hunches. These albums began to form a seemingly more permanent sound that will likely continue to carry on through his solo work.

Halstead spent much of 2014 touring with the newly-reformed Slowdive, and is currently based in Newquay, Cornwall.

MusicEdit

(Main article: Neil Halstead's Music)

Neil Halstead's music is often considered very homely and quiet, having a British folk air to it and possessing haunting and often meaningful lyrics. He once described his own music as "nylon rock", owing to the material of the guitar strings of the acoustic guitar he was currently using.

The genre his music usually falls under is Shoegaze, though folk and alt-country are not entirely out of the question, either.

Discography & TriviaEdit

Sleeping On Roads (2002, 4AD)Edit

Neil-halstead-sleeping-on-roads

The album cover

  1. Seasons – 5:23
  2. Two Stones in My Pocket – 4:27
  3. Driving With Bert – 6:17
  4. Hi-Lo and in Between – 4:47
  5. See You on Rooftops – 6:34
  6. Martha's Mantra (For the Pain) – 5:11
  7. Sleeping on Roads – 4:17
  8. Dreamed I Saw Soldiers – 6:20
  9. High Hopes – 5:03

Neil Halstead's first solo album. This album comprises some of Halstead's most unique and thoughtful songs, reflecting primarily upon certain themes of death as well as self-reflection.

Notable TriviaEdit

  • The song Hi-Low and Inbetween is possibly about Larry Walters, who tied several helium balloons to a lawn chair in an attempt to fly over a mountain range. While he did fly for quite a while, he dropped the pellet gun he was going to use to shoot the balloons when he was ready to descend, and was forced to make a hasty landing by releasing the balloons through other means. This scenario is what possibly gives inspiration to the song's references to tying oneself onto a balloon, as well as cutting the ties and floating free. Finally, the overarching depressing theme is likely inspired by Walter's untimely suicide.
  • Martha's Mantra possibly hints at Halstead being an atheist. One of the lines specifically says: "The only thing I told her is that God would have no answer for my pain." This could either be a form of Christian struggle, or outright atheism.

Oh! Mighty Engine (2008, Brushfire Records)Edit

Neil-halstead-oh-mighty-engine

The album cover

  1. Oh! Mighty Engine
  2. Elvenses
  3. Little Twig
  4. Witless or Wise
  5. Paint A Face
  6. Always The Good
  7. No Mercy For The Muse
  8. Sometimes The Wheels
  9. Queen Bee
  10. Spinning For Spoonie
  11. A Gentle Heart
  12. Baby, I Grew You A Beard

Halstead's first album after Mojave 3's hiatus, this album encompasses both silly, lighthearted songs and songs with an overarching theme of depression and suicide. This album seems to be written as a true salute to artists everywhere; this is suggested by the 5 or so songs that reference writing of some kind, or in the case of Paint A Face, photography.

Notable triviaEdit

  • Oh! Mighty Engine is about a writer with writer's block, who doesn't know where to go with a story and ends up drinking to find her muse.
  • Elevenses has an interesting history. Halstead has said in a live video that he was high on cocaine when he wrote the song, but an American anti-drug organization requested to use the song in an "Above The Influence" commercial on T.V. He allowed them to use the song, and the commercial aired, giving the song its fifteen minutes of fame.
  • Little Twig is possibly about children and inheritance. It may also be about musical spinoffs and attempting to control them.
  • Witless or Wise makes several references to suicide, especially with the line "Never did get to the edge, didn't jump, no, my life carried on". This is not his first song to hint at a depressed nature.
  • Paint A Face is about a painter and photographer, who records everyone's faces so they remember them.
  • Always The Good is an incredibly simple song, featuring only a few variations of the same words -- "Find the time to see everyone; you will soon see the good in everything". It is, very simply, reflecting on how easy it is to lose someone and how quick we are to grow depressed over the bad things.
  • No Mercy For The Muse could be a satirical observation of songs written about others, stating that those songwriters are very easily pleased with whatever the muse does, and will record and remember only the good that he or she does.
  • Sometimes the Wheels is, in Neil Halstead's own words, "about someone trying to sell you something. In this case, it was Jesus," as well as "my friend Dave. He likes to come over and break my things." The song is one of two songs -- the other being Loose Change -- in which Neil Halstead curses, this time asking rhetorically "Who the fuck is he?"
  • Spinning for Spoonie is an interesting song, with a strange howl thrown in after every chorus. In addition, the song mentions the beginning-middle of fall several times, saying that when it comes, the listener's lover may call. The strangely human howl is then heard, leaving some to believe it is a werewolf song.

Palindrome Hunches (2012, Brushfire Records)Edit

Neil-halstead-palindrome-hunches

The album cover

  1. Digging Shelters
  2. Bad Drugs and Minor Chords
  3. Wittgenstein's Arm
  4. Spin The Bottle
  5. Tied To You
  6. Love Is a Beast
  7. Palindrome Hunches
  8. Full Moon Rising
  9. Sandy
  10. Hey Daydreamer
  11. Loose Change

One of the most interesting albums, Palindrome Hunches has a unique and intriguing history. The album was recorded in a primary school music room, which Neil Halstead and several others gained access to by bribing the janitor with several bottles of wine. This gives the album a unique sound that would not have been allowed-for in a studio.

This is the most heavily acoustic albums, and incorporates only string instruments -- a piano is also used in several of the songs. This album is mostly about time and relationships, according to Halstead himself.

Notable TriviaEdit

  • Digging Shelters - This lacks interesting or notable trivia. If any is located, please remove this marker and update the page with the newfound trivia.
  • Bad Drugs and Minor Chords uses several strange, mumbled words in its chorus, but it seems that it's written from the point of view of a person who doesn't really have a very exciting life, and so uses drugs in between work shifts to spice things up.
  • Wittgenstein's Arm is written about a World War I veteran and piano player, who lost an arm in the war and made a name for himself as a one-armed piano player afterwards. He had a very depressing life throughout, and it inspired this song.
  • Spin the Bottle was, according to Halstead, written when he was having some troubles with his wife. The song's words, mentioning the game of "spin the bottle" and saying that playing it probably won't change much, imply that Halstead was at wits' end with the issues.
  • Tied to You - This lacks interesting or notable trivia. If any is located, please remove this marker and update the page with the newfound trivia.
  • Love is a Beast - This lacks interesting or notable trivia. If any is located, please remove this marker and update the page with the newfound trivia.
  • Palindrome Hunches mentions Kansas City, a Missouri city in the United States midwest. Why Halstead would have connections to such is unknown.
  • Full Moon Rising states the moon's color as brown, hinting that the song may have been written on a strange night with an odd moon.
  • Sandy - This lacks interesting or notable trivia. If any is located, please remove this marker and update the page with the newfound trivia.
  • Hey Daydreamer - Halstead has described this song as being about "wanting to be everywhere at once, I suppose,". The song has two distinct, opposing viewpoints; neither narrator is content, but the first wishes to settle down, have a family, find love, and live his life peacefully, whereas the other wishes the opposite -- minus the love, which he also wishes to find.
  • Loose Change is one of two songs -- the other being "Sometimes the Wheels" -- in which Halstead curses, namely in the line "it's the same old shit with a different slant, yeah,".

ReferencesEdit

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