Thursday, August 31, 2006

Great cover versions

Felt like posting some cover versions - but decided that would I would post the videos!

The first time I ever saw The Futureheads was April 2004. They were playing in edinburgh at the Venue (now gone, no doubt to be turned into executive flats that no-one I know can possibly affprd. Grrr). I went with my brother, and the gig was pretty poorly attended. Shame, because they played an absolute blinder, as far as we were concerned. I remember watching a grin break over my brother's face as it started to dawn on him what the song was. A year later, it was a top ten hit. Apparently Kate Bush loves it, and rang to tell the band this. Stop being so goddamn precious.

The Futureheads - Hounds of Love

Buy The Futureheads

I first heard this next song in 1996, on a homemade compilation tape I had borrowed. I loved the Cocteau Twins and this is one of Liz Fraser's best ever vocal performances. A while later, at Kensington Market in London (another place that has gine! Is nothing sacred?) I found the album this comes from, This Mortal Coil's It'll End In Tears. On vinyl, natch. The Gods were smiling. Tim Buckley's original version should also be tracked down. (yes, he was Jeff's Dad. Come on, keep up).

Song to the Siren

Buy It'll End In Tears

Finally, a discussion about great cover versions when I worked in a record shop led to me hearing about this track. This cover, which I did post as an mp3 in an earlier, er, post truly defines why great covers are great covers. It reinvents the song, and remains just as heartbreaking as the original. One day in Germany I spent an entire afternoon trying to find this without success, and ended up getting the Rough Trade Shops Electronic 01 compilation instead which has it. I have no idea what Morrissey makes of this, but if you don't have The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths' third and greatest album, you are letting yourself and the whole class down.

Schneider TM - The Light 3000

Buy the 6 Peace EP

Monday, August 28, 2006

Know Your Onions

[There should be a post of The Shins here. Due to some _________ ineptitude (not mine, there isn't. Grrr)]

Very excited by the news that The Shins will have a new album out in January 2007, according to NME. Click here to find out more.

Just in case this news doesn't have you salivating with excitement, here a wee reminder why you should care

From their last album Chutes Too Narrow here are two fab tracks:

The Shins -'Kissing The Lipless.' mp3

The Shins -'So Says I.' mp3

And from their debut, Oh, Inverted World the rather fab 'Know your Onion!'

The Shins -'Know Your Onion!'mp3

Buy The Shins on Amazon

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Charlotte Sometimes

...and take 2 on this. I will learn!
The Cure - Friday Im in Love

...and take 2 on this...
The Cure - Just Like Heaven

Take 2...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cure for sanity

This has been a somewhat trying week to say the least! Sorry for a lack of posts.

As I was asked when I was going to do something on the Cure, here are some videos, which I hope you'll enjoy (assuming they 'paste'!)

First up, 1987's sublime 'Just Like Heaven.'

And From 1992, 'Friday I'm In Love.'

Buy Galore

And to remember how good gothic can be, my favourite Cure song ever, 1981's Charlotte sometimes.' I have actually used this video in teaching before now!

Buy Staring At The Sea: The Singles

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Panic! Don't's my call

Some's just too much. Metal Urbain (click here to find out more about them) were one of France's first punk groups and the very first band to release a record on the mighty Rough Trade, the seminal label that would go on to release the likes of Scritti Politti, The Smiths, The Fall (one of their many labels), Belle and Sebastian, Aberfeldy and the Long Blondes over the following thrity years. This somes things up well.

Metal Urbain -'Panik.' mp3

Buy Anarchy in Paris

On the other hand...I am also trying to calm down with Death Cab for Cutie. Go to their website and also to the insound site where you can download Death Cab For Cutie stuff.

Buy Death Cab For Cutie at Amazon

Monday, August 21, 2006

Duke Spirit-soon to be a familiar name

Sorry. It's been a long day - I've had two interviews and my brain is just MUSH. Too mush to type an exciting heading. Anyway, whilst I type distractedly, two lovely playful kittens demonstrate not only how wonderful they are but how good they are at gettinng into small nooks and crannies...

There are some bands that are on the radar, make great albums, and you buy said albums, enjoy them, see the bands' gigs and/or support slots, and are pleased when they make the end of year polls. I'm a bit embarassed to admit I have only started listening to The Duke Spirit again in the last week or so, but I have started listening to them in the last week, and I remember why I fell for them in the first place. Guess I'm sometimes a bit fickle with my music loves. Leila Moss certainly packs a punch live and on record with the band. They seemed to be a support band of choice at a certain time last year (in a six week period I saw them twice supporting in Glasgow; the first gig was Mercury Rev, the second Kasabian). If you enjoyed the Sons and Daughters post earlier, give this a try.

The Duke Spirit -'Cuts Across the Land.' mp3
Buy Cuts Across The Land

Don;t forgte to check their myspace site too, which has more downloads and streams.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CSS or decide!

Hello again. Haven't posted for a few days due to a lot going on. On the positive side, my girlfriend and I are now proud to be owned by two very lovely, lively naughty kittens. However, other hassles, shall we say, have had to be addressed.


The picture at the top of the page is of CSS (as it says on their record label subpop's site (and indeed their own site. However, their myspace page is Given the sheer problems I have had trying to tyoe that url in, maybe CSS is best.

They come from Sau Paulo, Brazil. I know no more than I like very much what I hear (and can glean from the aforementioned websites). You will too, especially if you like electro or dance or indie-pop (as distinct to indie). If you enjoyed the Postal Service stuff last week (see earlier post) or even like stuff like Felix Da Housecat go check it out. The album Can Sei Der Ser Sexy is out now. Sau Paulo seems to have quite an underground music scene, and the eighties version was documented on the rather fab 'Sexual Life Of The Savages' LP that came out on Soul Jazz last year. This track is brilliant!

CSS -'Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above.' mp3

If you like that, head to their myspace page where there is the just as amazing 'Meeting Paris Hilton'.

As always, if you like what you hear: GO AND BUY IT!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Talent for causing things pain!

Actually, my dentist seems like a very nice guy, but my mouth is still numb, and for someone who frequently can't keep quiet, it's painful in more ways than one...

As a result, I'm listening to music to try and take my mind off the pain and get on with something. As you may have noticed, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, I have expanded the links to other blogs here at the right hand side. Please take a look.

I had toyed with the idea at one point of doing a post on my favourite tracks of the decade so far, but I suppose that may be a little premature at the moment. I wonder at what point monthly and weekly rock magazines have to start making their decisions about this? (And at what point to record companies start issuing, uh, inducements to persuade people to nominate certain albums.

But if you can't sing along with favourite tracks, then you may as well listen to stuff that feels great.

Here are two for starters:

I had read about The Stills in NME, back in the days when I was a pretty regular reader of the magazine, regardless of who was on the cover (these days: Pete Doherty? Maybe. Syd Barrett? Definitely. Oasis? It's 2006, not 1995, people. Kate Bush or Robert Smith or Aretha Franklin? I wish...) I bought the Rememberese 7" and was not disappointed by the lead track:

The Stills -'Still In Love Song.'mp3

Buy Rememberese (US version) or UK version

Another band I fell for pretty early on this decade, and am genuinely delighted that they have done well are Bloc Party. They may fit in with a lot of the new wave of post-punk or whatever you want to call it (Franz Ferdinand, the Rapture, the Futureheads et al) but there's just something so vital about this track. I remember having to order this from my local indie store when it came out, but a year later it was a HIT. The world needs Bloc Party. Some bands do justify the hype, and this is one of them. The quitar interplay on this track is like Television on 78 rpm (note: if you don't know what this means, ask your Mum. Vinyl rules!) I'm on Fire!

Bloc Party -'Banquet.' mp3

Buy Bloc Party's Silent Alarm

...Scuse me, what's that? Speak up, I'm an old man, can't hear you (selective deafness is almost as necessary as eyes in the back of your head for a teacher). I've whetted your appetite. Good, good.

The Stills - 'Retour a Vega.' mp3

The Stills - 'In The Beginning.' mp3

Buy Logic Will Break Your Heart and Without Feathers

Bloc Party -'Helicopter (Whitey remix).' mp3

Buy Silent Alarm Remixed

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm so tired...

...I haven't slept a wink. Well, it feels like it!

First of all, sincerest apologies to my friend Jared, who provided the setlist to the Richard Thompson post below, and I ddin't credit him. Sorry.

Kinda braindead here, if fairly happy. Two tracks that fit the mood would be these two:

First of all, a Mogwai collaboration with Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals, singing in welsh. This is from Mogwai's 2001 album Rock Action.

Mogwai -'Dial:Revenge.' mp3

Go here to buy Rock Action

And, because you can't run the risk of living without hearing it: track four from Sigur Ros' 2002 album () That's right, bracket. or Untitled. Either way, a track for the end of the day.

Sigur Ros -'Untitled #4.'mp3

Go here to buy ()

Friday, August 11, 2006

Waving From Such Great Heights

...I had been meaning to do a post about great albums to listen to whilst travelling for a while. Given the news yesterday, I figure I had better focus on music I like listening to on trains - as opposed to in the car, when I often have to figure other people's tastes in there. Hey, it's only polite.

A while ago, I went to Oban for a Stag weekend, which was huge fun. The thought of the long train journey (no car at time) didn't appeal, particularly, but until it got dark, the scenery was fantastic. And I had music with me.

So great travel albums? Razorlight's Up All Night. Sigur Ros' Agaetis Byrjun (see a couple of posts below). Kraftwerk are a definite - but I would put Man Machine ahead of Autobahn (ooh! sacrilege!!) REM's Murmur...but my favourite travel album would have to be Give Up by The Postal Service. It's just fantastic. Ben Gibbard is a member of Death Cab For Cutie, who I like, but this is my favourite release of his that I have heard.

If you go to their website you can download three tracks, the same three you can download on the Subpop site. They do have a Myspace page as well. If 'such Great Heights' doesn't make you want to dance around the room (though I appreciate this may be a bit, y'know, forward on a train, then shame on you!) Get there and get downloading!

Then go and buy the album.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Roll out those lazy, hazy days of summer

...bit early for whisky and beer, but anyway.

First of all, apologies for the broken link on Sigur Ros below, thanks to Rick for pointing this out.

Thinking of the summer, at rbally there is a concert from eleven years ago, the summer of 1995. (Play Bryan Adams chords if you have to).

It was, uh, one of the best years of my life: I left school, passed my driving test, went travelling, had my first job (as a cleaner; anyone who knows me will know there's a slight irony there : -) ) went to my first Glastonbury, and went to quite a few gigs. One of them was REM at Milton Keynes Bowl.

It's an indication of the time that the support acts were The Cranberries, Radiohead and Sleeper. Yup, Radiohead were supporting REM (the previous day, the supports had been Blur and Oasis. Those were the days). I still rate REM, even if I thought Around The Sun was disappointing, and I still look forward to Radiohead's new releases, even if they freak some people out by not copying exactly what they were doing ten years ago. Louise Wener from Sleeper is now a successful for The Cranberries, I'm afraid I stopped caring not long after. Still think the first album is great, though...

Last night, I went to see Richard Thompson again, at the queen's hall in Edinburgh. The man is an aboslute legend. Just him and an acoustic guitar, but it was, genuinely, a very electric atmosphere. The tracklisting was:
1.Bathsheba Smiles
2. Angels To Rest
3. Crawl Back (Under My Stone)
4. Cold Kisses
5. Dad's going camping
6. The Hot's For The Smarts
7. Persuasion
8. Two Left Feet
9. Outside On the Inside
10. Let It Blow
11. Crazy Man Michael
12. Fairy Queen
13. The Sunset Song
14. Vincent Black Lightning 1952
15. Don't Sit On My Jimmy Shands

For the encore, he was joined by Judith Owen, currently appearing with her husband Harry Shearer (AKA Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap and Montgomery Burns in The Simpsons; it's a small world) for
16. One Door Opens
17. See My Friends (1965 Kinks song).

If you have never heard Richard Thompson, may I suggest you go here and download the man's songs from his own web page, especially 1952 Vincent Black Lightning go and buy his 1991 album Rumour and Sigh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


This is take two of this post; I tried posting this last night, and then the internet connection in the flat started playing up...anyway. Hope you like the flowers.

The aim of this post was to post a few tracks to kick back with, that (with the exception, possibly, of TV On The Radio) you could dance to.

First up, Dizzee Rascal. I really liked the first Dizzee Rascal album, especially this track. There are all sorts of discussions about the merits of using the terms 'grime' or'UK Hip-Hop.' Whatever. It justs grabs you.

Dizzee Rascal -'Fix Up, Look Sharp.' mp3 Buy Boy In Da Corner

I still have a wee thing for Karen O. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem part of the landscape now but they weren't in 2002. I love the first album, and the second is a grower. But this has a certain sort of rawness. And there's just something about the way she says the word 'baby.' Just like that. As if it's in inverted commas. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Bang.' mp3 Buy The Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP

...and doesn't this sorta make ya wanna do the hokey-cokey? (y'know, when you turn around and that's what it's all about.)

The Strokes -'Last Nite.' mp3 Buy Is This It

OK, musically I felt this fitted in with this post, even if dancing to it might be hard (mind you, have you seen how hard it is to dance to a lot of the stuff stuck in the 'Dance' section of record shops over the last twenty years? Just saying...)

TV On The Radio -'Staring At The Sun.' mp3 Buy Desperate Youth Bloodthirsty Babes

I know it might seem weird to some people posting the next track, but then, there are actually people who haven't heard the Pixies. I used to run a guitar group at the school where I taught. A lot of Nirvana fans there, and Sir (yup, me) was old enough to remember Nirvana. Don't know if they all understood it, but as us cynical teachers are fond of saying ' You can lead a horse to water...'

The Pixies -'Debaser.' mp3 Buy Debaser

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Classic albums Sigur Ros

As a sometime teacher of English as a Foreign Language, sometimes I have to go through the process of trying to explain a word or concept to someone who doesn't speak English as their native tongue. However, if you had heard Sigur Ros, and knew someone who hadn't; how would you go about it?

They come from Iceland, and can seriously be described as the most important act to come from there since Bjork and the Sugarcubes (yeah, I liked gus Gus too. BUT!) As for how they sound...NME once said shoegazing ('dream pop' in American English) but they only vaguely remind me of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Lush et al. As for the ethereal, sonic cathedrals that were always used to describe those bands (overused terms in much the same way that 'angular' keeps being applied to The Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand and The Editors)...perhaps a bit ethereal. They sing in Icelandic and their own madeup language (I have to confess that I don't speak either; but I am not blaming anyone else for this). It sounds lush, beautiful, like waking up on a summer morning (hey! If John Tavener can get away with writing 'Flows like the tears of the mother of God' as a music description then I, a humble blogger, am allowed to get away with that one).

Rather like with Low last week, much as it amazes me that there might possibly be people who haven't heard Sigur Ros, just , courtesy of mp3s on Insound and their own website I present you four tracks from their essential 1999 album Agaetis Byrjun:

Sigur Ros - 'Agaetis Byrjun.' mp3
Sigur Ros -'Fludufrelsarinn.' mp3
Sigur Ros - 'Staralfur.' mp3
Sigur Ros -'Olsen Olsen.' mp3

Like what you heard? I thought you would! Go Buy Agaetis Byrjun

Friday, August 04, 2006

Arthur Lee R.I.P

I had been going to post something different today, then I came home and found out that Arthur Lee has died. Hmm.

For those who haven't come across Arthur Lee, he fronted a band called Love, formed in 1965. Their third album, Forever Changes, is deservedly recognised as one of the key sixties records now, even if it wasn't quite seen as that at the time. The opening track, Alone Again Or, is quite possibly one of the most sublime pieces of music ever recorded, and has been covered, amongst others by The Damned (see 1986 LP 'Anything') and Calexico (2003 single). He was also a huge influence on Michael Head and Shack.

Do yourself a favour or three: first of all, if you haven't done so already, go and buy Forever Changes (my third favourite album of the sixties, after The Beatles' Revolver and The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet).

Check Lee's official site; his myspace page. The NME meanwhile have, bless their collective cotton socks, put together a special on him. Hopefully they'll do a special issue on him like they did for Syd Barrett a couple of weeks ago.

Now go and play at least one his records loudly and pay the man the tribute he deserves.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

When Arrogants and Amateurs is good

A couple of days ago, I got a post inviting me to go and check out Letterbox records and I am very glad I did so. They have two bands signed to them currently, the Arrogants and the Amateurs. You need to hear these guys now! The Arrogants have six mp3s on their site and an album out and the Amateurs are recording and have one mp3 at the moment, but they are both worth hearing. The Arrogants' Cool Shoes reminds me of the Shop Assistants. Both bands would fit in nicely on the Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 1 compilation that came out a couple of years ago (that's meant as a compliment). Cool Shoes had me pogoing around my room like only the best indiepop can. Bookmark these, keep checking on them and go and buy the Arrogants CD
Go get them mp3s!:



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Sound of Young Scotland..noughties version

The fact that it's now August reminds me that it is now three years since I discovered Franz Ferdinand. It seems odd to say this now when they are so popular, but at the time, no-one knew who they were. I heard 'Darts of Pleasure' on and thought that was worth checking out. So I and girlfriend of the time went to see them at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh, where they were opening for Hot Hot Heat. I still like Hot Hot Heat, and i think Make Up The Breakdown is a great album, but frankly, Franz Ferdinand blew me away.

Hot Hot Heat - 'Bandages.' mp3 from Make Up the Breakdown*

Franz Ferdinand -'Darts of Pleasure' mp3 from Franz Ferdinand

The next time I saw Franz Ferdinand was on holiday in York, where they headlined the tiny but wonderful Fibbers. I was on holiday at the time, and actually met the band walking down the street. I haven't met them since, but they were warm and very welcoming, posed for photographs, signed autographs etc.. They had just come from London by train and were walking down the middle of York's pedestrian precinct.
The gig that night was warm and sweaty, and as well as the comfortable feeling that we really were seeing the next big thing, was the two support acts, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, who'd just put out their debut single 'I Love You 'Cos I Have To' and Sons and Daughters. At the time, the latter's album was only available on import, even though they come from Falkirk (midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Alright, that's a simplification but it will do). I have subsequently seen Franz Ferdinand another four times, though pleased as I am to see them do well, it's kinda frustrating not to be able to get tickets for shows for a band who sell out big venues when I saw them playing venues where you really could see the whites of their eyes.

Dogs Die In Hot Cars - 'I Love You 'Cos I have To.' mp3 from Please Describe Yourself

I have now seen Sons and Daughters a grand total of seven times (they tie with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for the band I have seen the most). The band, made up of Adele Bethel (vocals and guitars), Scott Paterson (vocals, guitar), Ailidh Lennon (bass, mandolin) and David Gow (drums) are just...something else, both live and on record. The interchange between Adele and Scott - a couple in real life - is just something that has to be seen to be believed. Now that The Delgados have split they are without a doubt my favourite Scottish band. They could be filed under indie...or country, but somehow, they just transcend those sort of labels. No, really. They also have managed to effectively make two debut albums - their mini-lp 'Love the cup' and 'The Repulsion Box.' Considering how long it isn't -twenty-five minutes and seven tracks - Love The Cup feels spectacularly complete, an album that can be stuck on repeated play. The Repulsion Box should have been a big smash, taking things onto the next level.However, the big release the day it came out - at least in the UK - was Coldplay's X & Y. Ah well...

Sons and Daughters - 'Johnny Cash.' mp3 from Love The Cup

"Sons and Daughters - 'Dance Me In.' mp3 from The Repulsion Box

*I know Hot Hot Heat are Canadian, but as I began to write this post, I knew I had to have this track here.

Top Banana...covers for Tuesday

OK, first of all I promised more covers - and here you are (see this as a part two to yesterday's post):

First up, DeVotchKa )and yes, those caps ARE meant to be there!) covering the Velvet Underground's Venus In Furs. This is, for those who don't know, originaly on the VU's debut The Velvet Underground & Nico. Brian Eno once said that this album may only have sold a few thousand copies when it came out - but everyone who heard it went and formed a band. Whilst the cynics may point out that it is going ot be impossible to confirm this (Go away. Now!), I think their influence on David Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Primal Scream, the Jesus and Mary Chain...punk, goth, indie...hmm. I think my record collection would be way, way different. And much poorer.

DeVotchKa - 'Venus In Furs.' mp3

To buy DeVotchKa's Curse Your Little Heart EP click here

To buy The Velvet Underground and Nico click here

Surfing the web, I also came across this cover of Mercury Rev doing David Bowie's Jean Genie. This is from their own website; Bowie's original should also be heard-and owned.

Mercury Rev - 'Jean Genie.' mp3

If you don't own any Mercury Rev albums, I suggest you start by buying Deserter's Songs.

Bowie's version can be heard on Aladdin Sane, as well as many compilations, such as this

The Spells, a side project from Carrie Brownstein of the about to be very sorely missed Sleater-Kinney, and Mary Timony of Helium covered The Who's I Can't Explain in 1999. Mmm, I like this!

The Spells -'I Can't Explain.' mp3

Go here to buy it

I know I have put a fair bit up on Canasta already but if you haven't been to their website already, you really should. Here they cover Al Green's Let's Stay Together and Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner.

Canasta -'Let's Stay Together (live).' mp3

Canasta -'Tom's Diner.' mp3

Go here to buy Canasta music.

Follow this to buy Al Green and this to buy Suzanne Vega.

Hope you like these. Enjoy the sunshine.