December 23, 2009
50 albums that grabbed my attention in 2009.
Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
HEALTH – Get Color
Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Fever Ray – Self-titled
Amadou en Mariam – Welcome to Mali
The XX – XX
The Twilight Sad – Forget the Night Ahead
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
John Doe & The Sadies – Country Club
Hanggai – Introducing Hanggai
Max Richter – Memoryhouse (reissue)
Harmonic 313 – When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence
Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
James Blackshaw – The Glass Bead Game
Zelienople – Give It Up
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
The Phantom Band – Checkmate Savage
Blakroc – Self-titled
50 albums that grabbed my attention in 2009.
Malcolm Middleton – Waxing Gibbous
De Rosa – Prevention
Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue
jj – no.2
Liam Finn & Eliza Jane – Champagne in Seashells
Hannu – Hintergarten
The Beatles - Remasters
PJ Harvey & John Parish – A Woman A Man Walked By
Aidan Moffat and the Best-Ofs – How to Get to Heaven From Scotland
Bugskull – Communication
Haushcka – Snowflakes and Carwrecks
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Self-titled
Roosbeef - Ze Willen Wel je Jond Aaien Maar Niet Met je Praten
Telepathe – Dance Mother
Tim Hecker – An Imaginary Country
Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications
The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love
Nosaj Thing – Drift
Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N Cheek
Mirah – (a)spera
Andy Moor & DJ/Rupture – Patches
Lord Cut Glass – Self-titled
Dan Deacon – Bromst
My Latest Novel – Deaths and Entrances
Florence & The Machine - Lungs
The Very Best – Warm Heart of Africa
Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love
Condo Fucks - Fuckbook
Julian Plenti – Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper
Baroness – Blue Record
August 10, 2007
mp3: Mapped By What Surrounded Them
There’s a sense of guilt for not writing as much as I should recently. But any feelings of guilt are compounded by not yet writing about The Twilight Sad and how they’ve been my band of the past few months. To the extent that I had to import their CD from America before its European release, and to the extent that I listen to it on average four or five times a week (I rarely endure any prolonged train journeys without it). And then there’s the fact I saw them put on one of the best live shows I’m sure to see all year, and I still managed not to write about them.
Fortunately, they have set the rest of the blog world alight this year instead, possibly even more in the US than in the UK, which is pretty impressive for a Scottish band. I wish I could play catch up by giving away every single track of their debut album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters and forcing you to listen to it, but that seems a tad immoral. Instead I just picked a random song (I could have opted for any of them, really) and if you need more convincing just head to every other mp3 blog.
The studio stuff doesn’t quite represent the live sound, which is more like a deathly wall of noise. Their show at Oran Mor in Glasgow back in June was pretty remarkable, what with the audience singing along right out of blocks -pretty impressive for the first hometown headlining show. Course, the band were wasted, using alcohol to try dull the nerves, and I was told afterwards by someone who watched them every night on their US tour that he’d never seen them play so badly. But the rest of us were simply blown away by the experience and I was seriously surrounded by grinning fans down the front. It was easy to just close your eyes and visualise them headlining festivals and huge shows - and, of course, the star quality of singer James Graham, who’s capable of vocalising fire, certainly helps.
So yes, I recommend getting in on the game now, before everyone else does.
June 24, 2007
mp3: Eating Noddemix
website: Young Marble Giants
Love, that’s what I feel for this band. Not “they were cool”. Not “you should listen to them”. Not even “I hope you like them”.
Within the space of a single album, they managed to carve out a sound that was completely original, completely them; I love their ingenuity, their unerring beauty, the simplicity and unassuming depth, their unworldliness. They sounded and still sound like no-one else. The sparseness of their arrangements, Alison Statton’s gorgeous, lonely, reverbing voice; someone once told me they loved the “symmetry” of Philip Moxham’s basslines, and normally I’d set fire to someone for saying that sort of thing, but in this case, he’s absolutely right. The balance and simplicity of their music is utterly bewitching. It feels somehow natural and calm, but running right through it is a kind of under-the-skin sadness that just won’t leave you alone. One thing that’s made me happy is that with all the re-releases this album has had, they’ve never changed the original cover, which, along with the title, Colossal Youth, has a kind of grandiosity and classical feel, like it’s always been there, waiting for you to discover it, and you just found it growing in the ground.
But don’t get me wrong, this is no Starbucks organic sigh-into-your-coffee feelingsy music to put next to the horrors of Jack Johnson or Nick Drake, who, like old wood, has been reclaimed and turned into something polished and shiny to balance your cup on; in this music’s quiet sadness, there’s an inner core of steel - a revelling defiance in their unpolished but perfectly formed songs. There’s not a second of indulgence here, no solos, no wasted drumbeats, no trilling for decoration. It’s, as I say, just perfect in its simplicity. I can’t put it better than that, sorry. No point screeching on when they didn’t. Go and buy it, or steal it, if you do that instead.
If you decide to go legal, you’ll have to buy it on 2 July, obviously, as it’s not out yet.
June 23, 2007
I’m a big fan of Pulp; always have been. There’s something about Jarvis Cocker’s intelligence and need to tell a story that I’ve always admired, his easy wit and the fact he can descend into self parody sometimes absolutely shamelessly just makes me like him even more. Anyone who can sing in a magician’s whisper, “Nouga-a-a-at! And…caramel!” and still move me more than almost anyone else I know is worth knowing.
I’ve written before, ages ago, about why David’s Last Summer from His N Hers is one of my favourite songs, it reduces me to bits if I think about it too much, how they capture so beautifully a change in your outlook, your life, your existence, when you first take steps away from what you’ve always known and have to face up to responsibility, becoming an adult, even though you haven’t really got a clue what any of that means - the utter joy at the fact of existence, with that itch of sadness, a tinge of guilt, even, at how it’s just really a series of endings, one after the other. And Jarvis does it all the time. That line in Dishes from This Is Hardcore, banal in itself as read but so warmly delivered, you feel he’s singing only to you: “And I know I’ll never touch the stars, cos stars belong up in heaven, and the earth is where we are…” and finding total peace in that admission, rather than more boringly seeing it as being a moment of defeat, is perfect. It’s one of those lines that somehow manages to mine down under my skin right into me, I find myself mouthing it when I hear the song, it pricks through the, as Liz Phair called it when she was still good, on Nashville, “slick divide”. But Nashville’s a whole other story.
So I stumbled across Wickerman from We Love Life. I like that album, in the main - there’s some dull stuff on it, but it’s got Weeds, Sunrise and Trees on it, all lovely, and it’s more muted and contented, a perfectly good ending to a great group. I would hear the first line of Wickerman when it came on at random on my mp3 player - “Just behind the station…before you reach the traffic island…” and it never really engaged me before. But on the bus in from the airport a month ago, I bothered to leave it and let it carry on - “..a river runs, through a concrete channel. I took you there once, I think it was after the Leadmill. The water was dirty and smelled of industrialisation… Little mesters coughing their lungs up, and globules the colour of tomato ketchup. But it flows. Yeah, it flows.” And the images keep pouring in, as he takes you underneath the city, following the dirty river; it reminds me of how I feel about my home town.
Walking around my old home town, the quiet of it, the fact you could be in all sorts of places there all alone; you forget that sometimes, when you live in a big city. You can be somewhere and be alone. Just you, a stinking and barely moving brook, a motorway and railings. Or going back to childhood haunts and seeing how they compare when in miniature, almost, because you changed, you grew up, you saw things you could compare it to, while it did nothing but just stay there. Whether it’s the sugar-soil-sulphur hills we used to go and play on, with our own versions of dramas involving bigger boys, adults behaving strangely in places they thought we couldn’t see them, falling down hills, climbing, bikes, fishing; the parks and overgrown places you weren’t sure you were allowed on, but went anyway, or the safer confines of front gardens and front rooms. I went back to the park area where we used to play about a year ago and as expected, it was smaller, but lay pretty much as it had when I was a kid. The hills were still there but even calling them hills was pushing it; the brook next to the canal was a lot nearer than I remembered, the route out of the park that [info]mrstevie and I would take when going on insane mile-after-mile walks was a lot longer than I remembered. There were dedicated benches each with a bunch of plastic-wrapped flowers sitting as though thrown on, in the middle of a clearing. And…single men everywhere. The place I used to play’s become a cruising ground, it seems. A quite paltry one, but one nonetheless. I walked up to the Nine Arches, texting [info]megazoid, and watched people walking along the railway tracks from the ground, one waved at me, I waved back. I stood under the arches and read the graffiti about all the people whose names ended in Z and were 110% Fit.
In the other end of the town, you walk out of a small wood adjoining the lake straight into a cornfield, then within seconds you’re under the motorway, someone seemingly, from the subject matter, in the correctional facility down the road, has written a pornographic story in large marker pen on the railing top next to another stinking and stagnant stretch of water which somehow has graffiti on the other side, despite there being no means of getting over there. And then you’re out the other side and up a hill, watching golfers move between the trees in the distance, hearing the motorway, completely impassable, and ending your journey before it’s started, right above you, and I distinctly remember hoping no-one else was coming under that low, dark, smelly bridge; the country’s most boring lake and busiest motorway separated by a dirty story that must have taken hours to produce in the dark. Seediness, greenery and solitude always seem to go together in small towns.
I don’t have memories of romance in my home town like Jarvis does, of the “child’s toy horse ride that played such a ridiculously tragic tune”; opportunities were always more imminent and even brutal than romantic. There wasn’t really room for it in Newton-le-Willows, and I didn’t have the courage to embrace romance there, and courage would certainly have been what you needed. But there’s something about this song, the yet-again joyous sadness and the wonder at things you have literally lived with for so long, your whole life, that they seem just like a low hum in the background. I love how certain songs suddenly turn up that volume on that hum and reveal it to be so much more rich and tuneful and varied and surprising; it just pulls me back to it all the time.
May 12, 2007
mp3: When We Were Younger and Better
mp3: Don’t Go Down to Sorrow
Ah, the might of the 65days. You can’t beat a bit of their static electo rock explosions. They were the best band I saw live at Motel Mozaique 2006 and they’ve released three full albums now and none have had a weak spot. Well, I’m not totally convinced about evolutionary progression either, but they still have the power to thrill me with their instrumental post rock electro-programmed noise. Some token bio if needed (cos you know how much I hate having to write out facts):
“65daysofstatic decided to slow down and take its time in making their third full-length record, The Destruction of Small Ideas. Though One Time For All Time was hailed as the “most vital, enthralling and unrelenting record of 2005” by Drowned in Sound, 65days are back with an even more polished product in hand. The electronics are integrated further into the mix, adding to, rather than distracting from, the epic organic guitars: “you can turn it up on your stereo and it’ll sound really, fucking, nice…” The band has played in front of thousands across Europe and Japan, and this beast of a record is sure to gain them the same sort of attention in the US. Though they had to kick a Scottish after-school dance troupe out of their own auditorium to record the grand piano, 65daysofstatic are quite proud to have you listen to their latest effort.”
“It is with heavy hearts that we tell you all that Aereogramme have decided to split up. Reasons are multiple and complex. It is however fair to say that the never ending financial struggle coupled with an almost superhuman ability to dodge the zeitgeist have taken their toll, ensuring that we just don’t have any fight left in us.
We are immensely proud of the four albums that we made over the past seven years. We hope that they continue to grow in your hearts. We plan to honour and celebrate the beautiful friendships we have made along the way with these final shows over the summer.
30th Aberdeen Musichall*
31st Edinburgh Potterrow*
1st Glasgow Barrowlands*
16th Glasgow QMU
23rd Hurricane Festival. Scheesel, Germany
24th Southside Festival. Neuhausen, Germany
27th Omas Teich Festival. Grossefehn, Germany
31st Connect Festival. Inverary, Scotland.
*Main support to Biffy Clyro
We would like you all to consider our headline show at the QMU in Glasgow to be our farewell UK show and to view The Connect Festival in Inverary as a damn fine opportunity for everyone to see The Jesus And Marychain.
The Omas Teich festival is ironically our first festival headline slot. We would love to say goodbye to as many of our German friends as possible here. Flowers will be graciously accepted at all performances.
Finally we want to thank you all for listening to our music and coming to our shows over the years. You have given us a glimpse of something truly special.
Well, it’s not like I didn’t see this coming at all. Having been following the band through most of their career arc, I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen them live many, many times in many different venues and cities and countries. Every album has seen a progression for the better and I know the music has affected a lot of people. But sometimes that’s not enough to fund a business that pays any bills, let alone the bills.
So I’ll travel back for the Glasgow show. I’d already considered doing so, as I was longing to see the band one more time in front of the home audience–it really is a world away from the audiences I stand amongst in Holland, and normally for the better. There’s not much chance of me heading to any festivals, and I’m not sure that’s the way I’d like to see the band anyway. A good show in Glasgow in suffice.
Anyway, since it finally forced my hand to get back to posting on the site, I figured I better include some token music. And since this is what the band is doing this summer, here it is…
mp3: Aereogramme - Dissolve
April 10, 2007
mp3: Nirgilis - Lucky Star
mp3: Nirgilis - Mayonaka No Shyunaidaa
mp3: Nirgilis - Eregiba
web: Nirgilis Official Website
Those lucky few who know me, know that I strongly dislike pop music. Especially – American or Western top 40. Not only do I despise it, I also rue and lament it. The same corporate monster that created this music nurtures it, feeds it, and makes sure that the machine of consumerism and capitalism is running smoothly, thoroughly crushing any breath of individuality and creativity in modern music. So it is in this vein that I make the following confession. Brace yourself.
I am addicted to Japanese pop music. I know I know. In a lot of ways it’s worse than what we have going on here in the US: bands are often cultivated en masse, great, corporate (typically television corporations) greenhouses where bands are literally planted. One after another they are produced, all bubble gum and frothing over with Disneyesque innocence and charm. They rule morning television, with often just a turnstile at their core – much like Menudo was in the 80’s; you age out and either move on to a ready-made solo career, or you fade into obscurity. But that’s not all of them.
Some bands are taking the Western pop formula and rewriting it, reworking it. Where once there was an homage to the 80’s and 90’s boy bands and spice girls, there is now an ever-expanding alternative that is changing the face of pop music as we know it. It’s pop with substance. Oh my head.
Take Nirgilis for example. You would classify them as alternative pop. They write their own music (Gasp!). They play their own instruments (Gasp!). They formed in university, and have remained a band at core despite having had no record deal or industry support, and with more than 20 members having come and gone in the nearly ten years they worked for a hit. More importantly, despite the electronic bleeps reminiscent of 1980’s house, techno and pop, they are good. Really good. Their sound is comprised of an assortment of loops layered over guitars and drum kit, and are reminiscent of everything from Rilo Kiley and the Fiery Furnaces to the club hit of the week. The lead singer often sounds like a Japanese Kay Hanley, with a greater range and decent lung capacity to boot. Their hooks are solid, songs are catchy, and each album has a song on it for your every mood.
Nirgilis is at the forefront of a new music “movement” sweeping through Asia of late. Called mash-rise, or better translated, mashed-up, it involves taking two entirely different songs and combining them into one song. It’s not quite sampling, it’s not even homogenous – both songs (and sometimes more) are oft played concurrent to each other: at the same time to the same music. These mash-ups can either be two songs written by the same entity, or an original paired with another popular song.
A perfect example of this is their international hit single “Sakura (Cherry Blossom)”, which many western folks may know as an opening theme to the popular anime “Eureka 7”. A really infectious chorus makes you almost forget the operatic rendition of “Amazing Grace” running through it. (And if that gets to be too much, the Sakura single features the non-mash-rise version for your auditory pleasure.)
Nirgilis has two albums and an assortment of EP singles. The mp3’s above are from their album New Standard. They are mild compared to some of their other records. Their latest album Girl features Peter Hook of New Order, and samples are currently streaming at their website. (Be forewarned though, they haven’t an English-language home on the web.)
So what with my current musical excursion, you can be sure to expect more from me in the near future on Japanese pop (and not so pop, I like some perdy weird stuff). Until then, enjoy Nirgilis.
April 4, 2007
So it’s been quiet here lately. There was work–lots of it, every single day for ages and ages. Then there was holidaying and taking in gigs in numerous countries. Then there was the brutal flu. And then more work.
Throughout it all, Andrew Bird has been a helpful factor. Maybe sometime I’ll write about his recent show in Brussels, or blackmail Dermot into doing so. And hopefully sometime I can write about Armchair Apocrypha, his new album, which I adore more than I ever thought I would/could.
So I’m rather excited about him returning to NL in May, possibly Dosh-less, though this doesn’t seem to have been fully established yet:
22/05/07 : Rotown - Rotterdam (NL)
23/05/07 : Tivoli (De Helling) - Utrecht (NL)
24/05/07 : Paradiso - Amsterdam (NL)
February 27, 2007
mp3: Black Albino
I’ve had the Desert Hearts album Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki since last year and have completely failed to mention it. Feeling slightly guilty about that, above is a download link for their new single (temporarily free).
February 20, 2007
I’m lucky enough to be lucky enough to be watching videos at work again instead of actually having to do work. I am truly blessed. This time looks even more bovine than that previous, so without further ado, let’s skip into the marshes of popular culture once more.
1. Fergie - Glamorous
I have such little knowledge of Fergie that I could actually be 80, which is a shame in one way, but a relief in maybe a dozen others. All I know is that she contains lumps and that she also was in the Black-Eyed Peas, so defective food appears to be her “thing”. Here, she’s singing a song called Glamorous. She arrives at a “1994 Backyard Kegger” - an ominous start - where they all appear to be drinking out of paper cups, it’s dark and I think the idea, to us dims, is that they are poor. The fact this level of destitution also appears to include a large swimming pool - and enough facial reconstructive surgery to populate a school with the leftover bits - also evades them. Jennifer Lopez also said she was “Jenny from the block”, and I think this is Fergie’s version, but I can’t honestly be sure what’s happening, as she says she doesn’t care about the trappings of her fame, and then pushes them so far and obscenely into the TV screen while having a bright light shone in her face that you think David Cronenberg’s going to come in and make you vomit through your eyes while your fingers turn into your elbow. Oh, it has a rap in it, where the man is actually gagging as he raps, which is quite entertaining!
# Lifestyle so rich and famous,
Robin Leach will get jealous #,
he gaks. Who’s Robin Leach? Her plumber? They then say “If you ain’t got no money take your broke ass home”, which reminds me of Ricky Gervais laughing at disabled people. Fergie then spells Glamorous about 60 times and does it right every single time, so it wasn’t a totally wasted effort.
2. Pink - Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)
Pink And Her Paradoxes, what is she like? I hoped this was a cover of the only good Michael Jackson song of the last 20 years but nope, Pink did this all by herself, and much like you wouldn’t put all your kids’ pictures they bring back from school on the fridge, this one’s going to have phone numbers and a shopping list on the back of it by the end of the week. It’s a Song With Brackets which means it is Multi-layered and looks like Pink is essentially trying to dichotomise her feelings; she wants you to leave her alone but is also informing you of the possibility that she is also lonely. Do you see? She presents it as a title, but in the end, it’s the substance, the content, the text, if you will, with a con, that provides the key. This one is live from Wembley Arena and there’s cheering all the way through it, even though I think Pink is trying to make a very serious point. And yet she doesn’t seem too worried, which makes me wonder if she’s even in it to make a difference any more. I remember when she was going out and wanted to get this party started, but now, it’s all “leave me alone” and “I’m lonely”, “go away” and “come back”. I hate it when massive pop stars sell out to become humungous pop stars, it makes me feel empty. -er. Come back! Go away! Oh, I’m all confused now. Also, considering it’s supposed to be a live song, her voice sports so much Autotune, her face has sprouted piano keys.
3. The Sounds - Tony Da Beat
Uh-oh. I hate this.
Kind of weirdly empty, the sort of thing Goldfrapp people like, I think, to accompany their sunglasses. More like the feeling you get 15 mins after a bad wank, to be honest, and that includes the video.
4. James Morrison - Undiscovered
It’s just an endless tide of hate, this reviewing session, isn’t it? I don’t mean it to be, I honestly, honestly don’t. I love music! The Universal James Constant is at work here, or it was, but it seems that with global warming, the age-old natural balance of Jameses has somehow gone out of control. Someone has to make a stand or soon it’ll be Jameses as far as the eye can see. One dies - James Brown - but four arrive in his place - James Morrison, James Blunt, James Yorkston and, er, James. There are clearly too many Jameses in music at the moment, and this is one of the chief Jameses of the reason why. Why doesn’t he just go the full way and have a track where he says “Grande, Tall or Vente?” over some crockery clattering, so we don’t actually have to go to a coffee shop to hear him? He also looks a bit like a fish in a wig, which while not his fault, obviously, is disconcerting when he just appears on your screen begging for your cortical attention. His eyes are on the side of his head! But the music! The music! What about the video? Well, it goes like this. Bike. Wall. Wall. Wall. James. Hair. Wall. Rain. Man. Wall. Woman. Bridge. Briefcase. Wall. Hair. Bridge. Scarf. Wall. Wall. Wall. Teddy bear! Oh, a teddy bear! Oh. Wall. Wall. Man. Briefcase. House. Teeth. Woman. Wall. People. Wall. Teeth. Hair. Heart. Bridge. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall. Wall.
5. Lucy Silvas - Sinking In
In which Abby from ER has a blonde wig and a few years after a car crash to recover then releases a single where she can’t hear the backing track properly so is asked to do as well as she can by watching the lights on the recording deck instead and sing around them. The video is on a white background with a man and there’s lots of cuts and jumps. Also, they’ve coloured her eyes in one of those special shades you don’t find in nature except maybe on horny geckos or maybe polonium. Oh, they used that effect in this video similar to those pictures you can buy on the weekly market for £2 of a composite picture of Obi-Wan’s face made up of thousands of details you didn’t notice in Star Wars cos they were boring like rocks on Tattooine, Han Solo’s waistcoat and a piece of cloth in the background in the weird alien bar. Is Lucy Silvas famous? How about now? ..How about now? There’s a man in this video who appears to be inspecting her back for acne, as far as I can tell, as she looks straight ahead. Nice to ask your doctor to be in your video, I suppose. Beats paying him. There’s a good bit where they play Scrabble, but as usual they didn’t realise this and instead let the song carry on to the end, where a minor chordy bit was added for variety and then the key change came in like a burglar in a noisy wheelchair. All of a sudden, the song wasn’t on any more and I went for a cup of tea.
February 17, 2007
So tonight is the night. I haven’t had an Aereogramme show since July 2005, and even that was only a brief support slot. Plus tonight is my first taste of new Aereogramme: less screamy, an extra computer manipulator, and a lot more percussive, so I hear.
Just in case you’re clueless as to who or what the band are (even though I go on about them all the time), this is what I knocked out for the newspaper last week:
“There seems to be a growing notion that this dynamic Scottish rock quartet have undergone a change of direction in recent times. It may be true to an extent. While the band have traditionally attracted followers from the heavy music scene, and have enjoyed links to metal titans like Isis–last autumn saw the release of a collaborative mini-album as part of local distributor Konkurrent’s long-running In the Fishtank series–their brand new album My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go does away with much of the loud guitars and guttural screams, replacing them with layers of strings, piano and poignant lyrics. The flipside of the coin is that these elements were always a major part of Aereogramme’s make-up, only the moments of raw intimacy were always countered by furious eruptions of noise. With much of that direct aggression removed, the metal fans are left scratching their heads. For the rest of us still bewitched by their cinematic efforts–the album title is taken from The Exorcist novel, while many tracks take inspiration from celluloid moments–this is surely the out-of-town gig of the week.”
So I’ve stuck an mp3 online in tribute. Titled ‘Exits’, it’s one of the softest tracks on the album but it’s really nice. There were a couple of other tracks I immediately considered, but they were a tad too epic, and the band aren’t as progressive about sharing music online as I am, so I’d have felt a little guilty using the album’s cornerstone tracks on a blog. Still, ‘Exits’ is lovely and gives a good taster for where the band are at these days. And if you like it, there’s even better stuff on the album.
Oh, and despite my killer schedule lately, I managed to revamp their official site recently - nothing fancy, but it represents their new album artwork pretty well. So feel free to click on the link at the top and check it out. There aren’t many websites that let you kill off band members by clicking on their picture, but I think it’s a growing market. Course, I did all this after the band went out on tour, so they probably haven’t even remembered that they have an official website. There goes my chances of picking up all the free swag. Bah.
February 16, 2007
mp3: Nothing To Be Done
no longer updated website: The Pastels
This always reminds me of someone at university, who will remain nameless, but was terribly self-conscious and cool-conscious the whole time I knew him, always making sure everyone knew what he was listening to, why he was listening to it and why it was important we knew why he was listening to it. So imagine my shock when finally getting round to listening to something he recommended that wasn’t Pearl Jam (The Daily Mail had caught on by this point - Grunge kids don’t have meals! They eat pizza!) or the Loveless-era drear of My Bloody Valentine, and it actually being good; I wasn’t sure what to do.
I only know a little about The Pastels, which is actually illegal in Glasgow and can result in being barred from Sleazy’s, but I think I can get away with it to an international audience.
What a sweet song. In a way, it’s almost too sweet, sickly mellow, as someone else I didn’t like from university, used to say. No, I didn’t like anyone much at university. 1993 was a funny year; we stayed in a flat with no radiators (which meant I walked about with a hot water bottle round my neck, like some elderly Flavor Flav), watched the crowds come and go to the Rangers games down the road, and had a direct view of the linedancers leaving the Grand Ol’ Opry across the road every Friday. My flatmate’s bedroom skylight looked directly onto a huge stone angel on the roof of the restaurant building opposite, which would cause all sorts of perturbation for the first few months when it was in the corner of your eye. This song whisks me back there immediately: so what you say, we go and get a beer?
February 7, 2007
mp3: Live Set
web: The Vegas Valentinos
There has been much talk about the albums of this last year, and even though I’m probably not the most objective, or best person to review this, I am loathe to close the book on the music of 2006 without having something to say about the Vegas Valentinos Five and Dime Quartet.
The band is four guys out of New England who love rock, soul, blues, punk and anything to fall out of the hallowed halls of Stax or Sun Records. So it makes perfect sense that the 14 tracks were recorded in Memphis (at Sun), debuted at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame show and then premiered at Baltimore’s Night of 100 Elvises. It also makes perfect sense that despite a modern rock sound with heavy contemporary influences, the music harkens back to that familiar place.
The Five and Dime Quartet, as with all three previous efforts, is a jumping, energetic album, heavily sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek humor that translates beautifully to their live shows. From the open strains of “Springer” (an ode to the debauched television show) to “Games to Play” (a lament on a love grown cold) the VV’s give us their best, and you just have to love it. Even their covers of the Shods’ “The Zig”, and their ingenious medley of a Louis Prima and an Elvis song “Buena Sera/Kiss Me Quick” demonstrates their mastery of the musical medium.
Okay, so maybe I’m not the most objective reviewer here. After all, I am related to three of the four members of the band, and the bass player is well, Dad. However, this band is dynamic, and they can make the worst song a great song. Or at the very least make you laugh at it. They are a must-see live spectacle. You judge the quality of a band not only on its studio output, but most importantly on its live effort: this band has fun. They make good, often great music that is as much a joy to hear as it is for them to make it.
Above is a link to a live set you can find on their website.
I hope you like it.
January 31, 2007
Well, why not, I mean it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it, bless him.
Much like the tolerance zones cities have for prostitutes and their clients to conduct their business in a safer and possibly more morally conducive environment, The Tool Shed has cleaned its kerbside, provided bins and adequate street-lighting and now they’ve allowed Andrew to strut his stuff in a seductive manner with the above, a real honest-to-goodness clean as a whistle .mp3 of Heretics for bloggers to link to without worrying about the moral repercussions.
So on you go.
Also, here are the European tour dates, with a new Dublin and Scando date. Nice to see him sold out in London and Paris.
MARCH 19 // Dublin, Ireland
CrawDaddy - another show added!
MARCH 20 // Galway, Ireland
MARCH 21 // Dublin, Ireland
MARCH 22 // London, England
Bush Hall - SOLD OUT
MARCH 23 // Brussels, Belgium
MARCH 24 // Gothenburg, Sweden
Club Woody @ Pusterviksbaren
MARCH 25 // Stockholm, Sweden
MARCH 29 // Paris, France
La Maroquinerie - SOLD OUT
MARCH 30 // Amiens, France
Musique de Jazz et d’Ailleurs Festival
MARCH 31 // Benicassim, Spain