Friday, August 31, 2007

Life Out Of Balance

(Philip Glass by Annie Leibovitz)

Tired, getting annoyed with people who cannot be quiet...ah, must be back at school again.

Actually, to be fair, I have been in a reasonably good mood most of the time, though there are some people I could name...Anyway.

I'd always intended to post some good classical stuff here, and in line with what this post has started off with, Philip Glass seems as good as any.

When I first heard Philip Glass, aged fourteen or fifteen, I was not impressed. At all. I felt our extremely pretentious music teacher was frankly mad for rating this over The Cure, or whatever. Einstein On A Beach, Glass' opera didn't make a favourable impression. A year or so later, and my interest was aroused twice in a fairly short time by things I was reading in the rock press. Firstly, Siouxsie Sioux, one of my all-time heroes, told the (now-defunct) music weekly Melody Maker about how much she liked Einstein On A Beach. Hmm, maybe something might be worth investigating about this man? And then, Glass recorded a symphonic version of my favourite ever David Bowie album, Low. Perhaps Bowie and Siouxsie were more clued-up than I was (this state of affairs probably still persists). When I heard Glass' version of Low I actually enjoyed it.

A year or so later at university, one of my hosuemates and I sat down to watch the seminal film Koyaanisqatsi, for which Glass composed the soundtrack. In the Indian Hopi langauge this is a word translated variously as 1. Crazy Life 2. Life In Turmoil 3. Life Disintegrating 4. Life Out Of Balance 5. A State Of Life That Calls For Another Way Of Living.

(NB It says all this on the CD sleeve. Don't get the idea that I speak Hopi or anything).

Anyway, Here I humbly present the bookending tracks of the six tracks on the OST:

Philip Glass -'Koyaanisqatsi.' mp3

Philip Glass -'Prophecies.' mp3

Go buy the album. Check out the film. Narrow-minded folk..ya must've strayed here by mistake or something.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ten more!

Today when I got up, I received a very nice email from Matthew at Song, By Toad saying that he had got me listed at the Hype Machine. Thank you, sir, maybe people will actually read this blog now!

Anyway, just fancied posting some stuff I like, with no particular theme. Though it goes without saying: if you like what you hear, go and buy it!

Blur-'Popscene.' mp3 (Time this was available properly, guys)

Dizzee Rascal -'Wannabe (feat Lily allen).' mp3 (For everyone who is fed up with wannabe gangsters who just do not get it.)

Calexico -'The Ballad Of Cable Hogue.' mp3 (Still one of my favourite tracks of the decade)

Adam and the Ants-'Cartrouble.' mp3 (Why do so many Ants compilations leave off the pre Kings of the Wild Frontier stuff?)

Malcolm Middleton -'A Brighter Beat.' mp3
(A very serious contender for both album and single of the year).

Ghostface Killah featuring Amy Winehouse -'You Know I'm No Good.' mp3 (Well, actually i still love your music, Amy, but for God's sake, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER).

Roisin Murphy -'Overpowered.' mp3 (Ace solo track from former Moloko frontwoman)

The Dream Academy -'Life In A Northern Town.' mp3 (Still gorgeous, all these years later...)

Bob Marley -'Redemption Song.' mp3 (Some things are better left unsaid)

Roll Deep -'Celebrate(Instrumental).' mp3 (GRIME rules over Gangsta, anyday)

(Mini) Album Review: Commander Keen

Commander Keen: My Tascam Dreams (Hackpen Records)

This five track mini-album is, without a doubt, one of the finest things I have heard all year. Imagine Sigur Ros, John Martyn and Squarepusher recording an album together. Imagine that the result was as beautiful as Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. These five tracks are nothing less than an utterly bewitching mixture of folk and electronica (folk-tronica? Oh, whatever) that deserved to be heard by everyone. To listen to this is to be reminded why Durutti Column and Boards Of Canada deserve to be more popular., and to know that this is something that is special and deserved to be treasured. Including recent download only single ‘Panic Attack’ Commander Keen will hopefully be massive.


My Tascam Dreams will be released by Hackpen on September 24.

To hear tracks go to Commander Keen's myspace page and their website is here

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gig review: Razorlight/Editors/Dykeenies

Gig Review: Razorlight/Editors/Dykeenies

Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh August 26, 2007

If I'd been told The dykeenies were going to be the support (and it's not even on the posters at the gig) I would have got here a lot earlier. Live they sound a lot more 'epic' than on vinyl, and the singles 'Clean Up your Eyes' 'Waiting For Go' and'New Ideas' win over a great many people. Their album is out soon, which will hopefully get them more of the coverage and attention they so clearly deserve.

There's a massive cheer as the Editors take to the stage and tear it up. Whilst they don't talk a great deal to the crowd, they interract and the crwod fall for them hook line and sinker. When they go into 'Bullets' the thought occurs that, like Scotland's own Franz Ferdinand, they are a guitar band who write fantastic dance tunes. ' The newer tracks see Tom playing Piano a lot more (thought for the day: Chris Martin started doing this a lot more around the time of Coldplay's second album), and even the mellower tracks do not dampen the crowds enthusiasm. The version of 'Munich' they play is nothing less than incendiary. 'Blood' and 'All Sparks' sound like thy will be dragging even the most reluctant dancer's onto the floors of indie discos for years to come, and probably further afield. Before they play 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' Tom comments that 'It's Bank Holiday tomorrow...I love bank holidays.' Hmm, someone ought to tell him that they are different in Scotland, but we won't hold a set as wonderful as this against them.

A few personal reflections: I've watched Razorlight go from being the support band at Suede's final Scottish gig in December 2003, to having no.1 albums and singles and headlining gigs like this. To my frustration, I've seen singer Johnny Borrell act less like the frontman with the most self-belief since Richard Ashcroft's 'Mad Richard' days, and more like an arrogant idiot. The groans that I have endured when I tell friends and colleagues who I was going to see have backed this up.

So it's with a sense of trepidation that Razorlight come on, and I wonder just Razorlight are going to do. Well, sorry naysayers, but they play a fantastic show. Playing to the crowd but without acting like arrogant pigs. From the minute they begin with 'In the Morning' I am reminded why I fell for Razorlight. It's the tunes. And Bjorn's guitar. But above all, the songs. they play 'Golden Touch' and the 10:15 Saturday Night-influenced guitar still chimes beautifully. Borrell resembles an 80's Jagger in his trousers and vest. 'Can't Stop This feeling I got' 'Dalston' 'Fall To Pieces'. despite all the flack flung at them, and some of it may have been bought upon themselves, the music still speaks for itself. 'Rock 'n' Roll Lies' reminds us of how the promise of this early single has now been realised, though the red lights background on 'Vice' is a little obvious.

Oh, what the hell. Yes, I still like Razorlight's music a lot. And live last night I didn't change my opinion. So sue me!

Razorlight -'Golden Touch.' mp3

Razorlight -'(Don't Go Back To) Dalston.' mp3

Editors -'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors.' mp3

Editors -'Munich.' mp3

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Album Review: Liars

Liars -'Liars' (Mute, 2007)

So the fourth Liars is upon us. Rumours have been flying around that this one will be more guitar-orientated, which some people have been interpreting as meaning that it might be more, uh, easier to listen to, and, you know, songs and stuff.

Well, anyone expecting them to be sounding like the Strokes will be disappointed, but this is perhaps the most accessible of the four albums that the New York trio have produced. As always there are a lot of hints of the No-wave New York scene of the late seventies, but this time there are also hints of those ultimate seminal guitar works Psychocandy and The Velvet Underground And Nico. There are songs, the rumours were right, and whilst the abrasiveness appears to have been turned down, the experimentalism that has made them so rewarding so far remains. Lead off single 'Plaster Casts Of Everything' opens and sets the tone along to closer 'Protection.' Some will invariably yell sell-out, but this is a good place to start investigating the Liars.


From Liars

Liars -'Houseclouds.' mp3

Liars -'Pure Unevil.' mp3

Liars -'Clear Island.' mp3

From Drum's Not Dead

Liars -'Let's Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack.' mp3

From They Were Wrong, So We Drowned.

Liars -'There's Always Room On the Broom.' mp3

From They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top

Liars -'Loose Nuts On The Veladrome.' mp3

These links will be up for one week only. If you like what you hear, please support the artists through your local independent record shop.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Gig review: Kaiser Chiefs/The View/Pigeon Detectives

Gig review: Kaiser Chiefs/The View/Pigeon Detectives

Edinburgh Meadowbank Stadium, August 24 2007

I have to be honest that before I went to this gig, I had barely heard the Pigeon Detectives and was expecting them to be commercial indie-by-numbers. Well, they do sound fairly commercial and their sound owes a lot to the Libertines/Arctic Monkeys...but they do it with style. they harden this cynical heart very quickly and win the corwd over too. Songs like 'Wait for Me' and 'I'm Not Sorry' are used to work the crowd and I have to confess I was won over very quickly.

'The View! the View! The View are on fire!" runs the chant even before the Pigeon Detectives come on. Er, not on tonight's evidence they weren't. Struggling to do more than produce a bit of smoke. Whilst it has become fashionable in bloggerland to slag The View (general attitude of people being successful that upsets the more snobby types), I really liked the album and reviewed it very positively here at the beginning of the year. 'Wasted Little DJs' and 'Skag Trendy' pick up the pace a bit, and closer 'Superstar Tradesman' is excellent, but so much of their set feels lazy and shambolic.

The Kaiser Chiefs rule. Three years ago in Edinburgh I saw them supporting the Ordinary Boys (long before Celebrity Big Brother etc..) and thought they really had something. A year later they opened the US part of Live8. They come on, tease the synth riff of 'Everyday I Love You Less and Less' and the crowd goes nuts. There are no pyrotechnics, just solid songs and performance. Two albums in, the Kaisers have not only mastered the art of writing pop singalongs, but they can work a stadium gig just as well as their mates the Foo Fighters. To watch the hands wave in the air as they effortlessly tear through songs from their two albums -'Angry Mob' 'Born to be a dancer' 'Modern Way' and of course 'I predict a riot' and 'Ruby.' As the sky darkens, the twentyfirst century stadium gig equivalent of lighters in the air that is mobiles in the air add to the ambience of what is an amazing gig. As we progress out, the joy is infectious. Long may they make our hearts fly.

The View -'Posh Boys.' mp3 (Non-album track. Come on guys, let's remind the people what you CAN do).

Kaiser Chiefs -'Oh My God.' mp3

Kaiser Chiefs -'Born to Be A dancer.' mp3

(Both from 2004 Drowned In Sound CD single of Oh My God).

Get Into (My Teenage) Stride

Yesterday, I had one of those accidentally brilliant moments. I had a free period and was sitting in the staffroom at school, and listening to random stuff on my iPod whilst sorting out various bits of admin.

I don't remember which blog I downloaded four tracks by My Teenage Stride from, but they have given me a delightful thrill. This Brooklyn band have released three albums so far, and included lots of mp3s on their website and I note that e-music in the UK have them all. Hooray! A band for people who love the Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, and just love great guitar bands, but are maybe looking for something they haven;t heard before.

Their official site is here and their MySpace is here

From Ears Like Golden Bats

My Teenage Stride -'Ears Like Golden Bats.' mp3

My Teenage Stride -'We'll Meet At Emily's.' mp3

My Teenage Stride -'To Live and Die In the Airport Lounge.' mp3

My Teenage Stride -'The Genie Of New Jersey.' mp3

From Major Major

My Teenage Stride -'They Are Alone In Their Principles.' mp3

My Teenage Stride -'Happy Mondays.' mp3

From A Sad Cloud

My Teenage Stride -'Let's Go To the Firewalk.' mp3

My Teenage Stride -'American car.' mp3

Remember: if you like what you hear, support the artists involved. Links will be up for a week.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gig review: Interpol

Gig Review: Interpol Edinburgh Corn Exchange, August 22 2007

Sigh. Here goes...

24 hours later, it wasn't a bad gig. It was the fifth time I have seen Interpol, and I'm really impressed that the band I saw as the second from the bottom on an NME package tour in early 2003 have broken through commercially to the extent that this venue was sold out and the albums are going top 10.

It wasn't a shambolic gig. Hell, they played for well over an hour and they sounded really together, almost too note perfect. They played songs from all of their three LPs, and there were elements that caught me by surprise: How funky they can sound at times. How some of their songs can be sung by huge crowds - time it was, over a thousand people singing along to this would have been as odd as people singing along to Elvis Costello's 'I Want You.'

It wasn't a waste of time, going to this gig...Yet somehow, the venue's sound system failed to do justice to the band. The band barely spoke to the audience at all -there is being cool, and there's being aloof.

So will I go and see Interpol again? Who knows. Their third album is no progression from their second, yet they have the potential to move on and produce something really great. Songs like 'Evil' and 'Narc' and 'NYC' particularly still impress on record. But somehow, that's not quite enough.

Interpol -'NYC.' mp3

Interpol -'The Heinrich Maneuver.' mp3

(And yes, that is how they spell Manouevre)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gig review: Foo Fighters/Nine Inch Nails

Gig review: Foo Fighters/Nine Inch Nails

Edinburgh Meadowbank Stadium, August 21 2007

OK, so Stadium gigs can be deeply impersonal, full of people trying to get drunk who have no idea about the music other than they want to hear the hits...but you might actually have a chance of going rather than if they are playing a 'club' gig.

It's strange to think Nine Inch Nails emerged at the end of the eighties and are still with us. Once I've found somewhere to stand in the crowd and not get rubbish sound, the strength and diversity of their ideas starts to come through. It probably helps that they are playing in the early evening on an overcast day in Scotland, as watching them in blazing sunshine would be wrong. Whilst it was be great to hear some stuff off Pretty Hate Machine, Trent Reznor and his merrier-than-you-might-think men, pack a powerful punch, without descending to dreary self-loathing. A final blast of 'Wish' and they are gone.

Some bands can do stadiums with style, not so much in terms of an all-singing, all-dancing show but how they can work it. The Foo Fighters know how to work a crowd, and when Dave walks on by himself and launches into a gorgeous solo version of 'Everlong' joined by the band for the final chorus, it's a very good start to the night. Especially when the next songs are 'Monkey Wrench,' 'Times Like These,' 'My Hero' and 'Break Out'.

One of the most impressive songs of the night is the workout that 'Stacked Actors' gets. Solos, meeting the audience-and yet neverself-indulgent. Perhaps this is the key to the Foo fighters deservedly enduring success for more than a decade -they are crowd-pleasing band with an expanding back catalogue who still sound like they have not forgotten their roots. 'DOA' 'Generator' 'This Is a Call' -how many aces can one band hold up their collective sleeve? The live version of 'Best Of You' sounds achingly sad, far more moving than on record.

After a final encore of 'All My Life' we take our leave, and go out into the night. (...and I go into school and rub it into all the kids who couldn't get tickets... : )


Some related tracks:

Nine Inch Nails -'Head Like A Hole.' mp3 (They didn't play this, I wish they had)

Foo Fighters -'Monkey Wrench.' mp3

Foo Fighters -'Everlong.' mp3


Monday, August 20, 2007

Just a quick one...2

Back to school tomorrow (though trying not to think about it!) so here's a quick update on two bands:

Though their third album may be a while away, Franz Ferdinand have contributed a track to Hallam Foe, and just in case anyone didn't pick up on this a few months ago, this was their cover of the LCD Soundsystem single which was on formats of that single when it came out in the UK a few months ago.

Franz Ferdinand -'Hallam Foe Dandelion Blow.' mp3

Franz Ferdinand -'All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem cover). mp3

Meanwhile, Working For a Nuclear Free City are due to issue their debut in the US in drastically altered form. Check their Myspace site for details: here

Working For a Nuclear Free City -'Over.' mp3

Working For A Nuclear Free City -'All American Taste.' mp3

If you like what you hear, support the bands and your local independent record shop!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Great, Lost Single #9

My Life Story -'12 Reasons Why' (Parlophone, 1996)

When I went off to University in 1996, I was certainly planning on seeing as many bands as possible. As it happened, Canterbury didn't have many bands playing, and after Gene played in October 1997, I resigned myself to having to go to London if I wanted to see much stuff that I was into.

However, one night out early on was My Life Story. Jake Shillingford and his ever-changing lineup had been around for a while at this point, but they had recently had a small top 40 hit with '12 reasons Why.' I'd picked up the 7" before going to university and was looking forward to seeing them at one of the dining rooms on campus. Having watched a less than inspiring set from Britpop jokes Northern Uproar three days previously (the mind still shudders at the memory), this night did not disappoint. The two support acts were Gretschen Hofner and Ether, both of whom I still think deserve to have done much better than they did.

My Life Story, with their string quartet looked amazing and glamourous. What blew me away was a simple song called 'Silently Screaming' that I had never heard, but turned out to have been on the CD single of the recent '12 Reasons Why.' (In fact, this may have been why I fell for the record companies CD singles multi-formatting so hard for a while; I didn't want to miss any nuggets that might be tucked away). I picked up the CD single later on that week in town, and bought many follow-up singles. '12 Reasons Why' was the encore and we all chanted the numbers loudly as Mr. Shillingford worked through the bizarre reasons his lady endeared herself to him. Jake even signed my ticket! To a nineteen year old (very possibly wearing slashed jeans and with massive sideburns in honour of supergrass' Gaz Coombes) this was the stuff excitement was made of.

They had several more hits that made the top 40, before seeming to fall away and called it a day in 2001. You can find several links to them here.

My Life Story -'12 Reasons Why.' mp3

My Life Story -'Silently Screaming.' mp3

(Both tracks from '12 Reasons Why' Cd single).


My Life Story -'Strumpet.' mp3

My Life Story -'Welcome to my Archipelago.' mp3

(Both tracks from 'Strumpet' CD single I)

My Life Story -'Duchess (Stranglers cover).' mp3
My Life Story -'Mr. Boyd (Dressing Gown version).' mp3

(Both tracks from 'Duchess' CD single I. The Duchess cover was on a compilation of then current EMI bands covering songs from the labels' past (think it may have been a centenary. That compilation also included the Foo Fighters' take on Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street' posted a few months ago here).

Friday, August 17, 2007

Single Review: Emma Pollock

Emma Pollock: 'Acid Test' (4AD)

'This house does not feel like a home.' So begins Emma Pollock's second single of the forthcoming Watch The Fireworks. more guitar-driven than previous single 'Adrenaline', the edgy guitar and bass play off against each other and the heartbreaking lyrics tell of her feelings as she tries to take control her her emotions. An excellent single, that deserved your attention. B-side 'A Temporary Fix' is another excellent track.

'Acid Test' is available now from iTunes and will be released on September 3rd on Physical formats.

Emma Pollock's official site is here and her MySpace, where you can stream the single is here

Album Review: Amateurs

The Amateurs -'Hongu Kongu' (Letterbox)

So, an independent band from Scotland. Must sound like either twee indie-pop or jangly quiet-loud, surely?


This impressive debut, from Edinburgh's Amateurs take's the gentle sounds of Lambchop circa Nixon, adds a hint of fifties rock and roll and tops it off with the magic pairing of the voices of Seth Chanas and Ina Hanisch. You will not find twee-pop here, but a warmsounding record that grows on you with every listen. There is an eccentrivity at work here, that adds a uniqueness to their sound. To search for bands to compare them to is ultimately to clutch at straws. Their are many highlights here, including 'Dry eyes' and 'The Water Of Leith Song' that deserves to become part of this city's heritage. Occasionally the results are a little exasperating - 'Mustard' seems like an uneasy pairing of Tom Waits and The Reindeer Section, but overall this is an intriguing debut. Letterbox Records have found another winner.


Hongu Kongu will be released on september 10th on Letterbox Records.

It can be pre-ordered from here

This is the recent download only single:

Amateurs -'Things You Only Know If you Don't Drive.' mp3

Amateurs -'Cool By Me.' mp3

More Amateurs mp3s can be found here

Their MySpace is here and their website is here

Album Review: Penny Century

Penny Century: 'Between A Hundred Lies' (Letterbox)

Are they trying to break our hearts? If this record were a season it would be autumn (Fall for North American readers), the most beautiful time of year, and yet serving as a reminder that every changes, and nothing stays the same. 'When The City Is Waking Up' moves you at a hundred paces- and that's before the vocals kick in. Hailing from Ostertsund, Sweden, Penny Century deserve to appear on year end best of lists. This ten track album doesn't put a foot wrong. 'Nothing Burns Like Bridges' is the first, download only single, but tracks like 'Too Bitter To Be Charming' the aforementioned 'When the City...' and closer 'Streetlights, Snowflakes and You' which takes you completely by surprise a minute or so in, should be heard by anyone who loves Camera Obscura, Belle and Sebastian, and Aberfeldy. Bloggers of the world, unite and lets tell the world about Penny Century.


Bettween One Hundred Lies will be released on Letterbox Records on August 20th.

Penny Century -'Nothing Burns Like Bridges.' mp3

The album can be ordered from here

Click here to see the video.

Penny Century are on MySpace here and they also have their own blog here

Thursday, August 16, 2007


So, just in case you've been asleep, today marks the thirtieth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

Whilst I'm conscious of Chuck D's criticisms in 'Fight the Power' (that Elvis was a hero to most but he didn't 'mean shit' to him, and accuses Elvis of being a racist), trying to measure the impact of Elvis on popular culture is the sort of thing that documentaries and PhD theses are made of, rather than a few hundred words on a blogger's site.

So, instead, I humbly offer you my favourite Elvis song, a cover of an Elvis song and a song about his birthplace by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Bono's poem about Elvis that appeared on U2's Passengers project Original Soundtracks 1. (I did contemplate posting John Cale's cover of 'Heartbreak Hotel' but I'm kinda inclined to agree with the person who described as being like a Gormet Chef trying to cook a cheeseburger.)

So here goes:

Elvis Presley -'Suspicious Minds.' mp3

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -'In the Ghetto (Elvis presley cover).' mp3

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -'Tupelo.' mp3 (the full version)

Passengers -'Elvis Ate America.' mp3

You should know the drill by now: Songs up for a week, if you like what you hear, go and buy it, ideally from an independent record shop.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Listen Up To The Gossip

Rather less stress around 17 Seconds towers today, which is nice. My review of Emma Pollock has been added to legendary scottish music magazine/website Is This Music?, and as always am flattered by a few comments that have come way about this blog.

Today also saw me visit a record shop. Now just in case Mrs. 17 Seconds is reading this and flips, I did not pick up all of these today, but I picked up some great remixes of tracks by the Gossip, and the recent Hot Chip 12" single. And just in case any of you fine people out there hadn't heard these, I just had to make you aware of them!

The Gossip -'Standing In The Way Of Control.' mp3

The Gossip -'Standing In The way Of Control (Soulwax nite version).' mp3

The Gossip -'Standing In the Way Of Control (Le Tigre remix).' mp3

The Gossip -'Listen Up.' mp3

The Gossip -'Listen Up (MSTRKRFT mix).' mp3

And this track, which vies with 'D.A.N.C.E.' by Justice as the track of the summer.

Hot Chip -'My Piano.' mp3

And just writing that has made me itchy for Justice, whose album I am listening to as I type this, so go on! (Said in the tone of an exasperated but friendly uncle).

Justice -'D.A.N.C.E.' mp3

Justice -'D.A.N.C.E.(MSTRKRFT remix).' mp3

Justice -'D.A.N.C.E. (extended mix).' mp3

Justice -'Waters Of Nazareth.' mp3

As always, links will be up for one week. If you like what you hear, please support the artists involved, preferably through your local independent record store.

Phew, rock 'n' roll...

Monday, August 13, 2007

All stress around 17 Seconds towers...

We have Visitors coming in a few days. I'm looking forward to it, but the place needs tidying.

We have therefore been trying to tidy the flat up.

All this has succeeded in doing is making us very tired and stressed.

This sums it up, I think...

Abba -'The Visitors.' mp3

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Edinburgh Festival is Here

It's August, which means that it's the Edinburgh Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, plus book festival, film festival etc.. Actually, as someone else pointed out, describing the Edinburgh 'Fringe' as a 'fringe' festival is rather like describing U2 as an indie band or Steven Spielberg as a cult director; it's been way bigger than the 'International Festival' for many years.

As well as the T on the Fringe lineup, for which I have got tickets for many bands, I've also been taking in comedy and other shows. Today I went with Mrs. 17 Seconds and our friends Dave and Mark to see the Hull University Big Band, who were fantastic, and not the sort of thing I tend to put on at home, but they were brilliant. On Thursday, another 17 Seconds friend, Rory, had organised tickets for the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. If your vision is something of a whole load of very elderly people playing George Formby songs then you are well, well out of date. They played a whole range of stuff including 'Teenage Dirtbag' by Wheatus, Bowie's 'Life On Mars' and Talking Heads 'Psycho Killer.' Oh, and 'Anarchy in the UK' by the Sex Pistols. A huge amount of fun, and they don't take themselves too seriously.

Thanks to Mark, I have a few links below for YouTube which have performances of songs done by the Ukelele Orchestra.

The Good, the bad and The Ugly

Wuthering Heights

Life On Mars?

Oh, and seeing as we've had those, how about some originals by Kate Bush and David Bowie themselves?

Kate Bush -'Wuthering Heights.' mp3

David Bowie -'Life On Mars?' mp3

These links will be up for one week only. Go and see the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain if you get the chance (and maybe you'll catch them playing 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'!), and indeed the Hull University Big Band.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gig review: Emma Pollock/Broken Records

Gig Review: Emma Pollock/Broken Records

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, August 10, 2007

This was Emma Pollock's second visit to Cabaret Voltaire in three months (read my review of the previous gig here. This time the venue seemed a little fuller and she seemed just as relaxed and assured as before.

Last time, she had been supported by the wonderful Katie Sutherland and Popup; this time she was supported by Edinburgh seven-piece Broken Records (OK, the cellist is from Germany). Broken Records could be described as being folk-rock, in the sense of folk meaning 'music of the people' and involving instruments like the violin and mandolin, rather than any 'hey nonny nonny no!' with people sticking fingers in their ears. They recently appeared at T in the Park on the T-Break stage, and look set to build upon this. Despite their singer's nerves (he really doesn't have to worry), they sound accomplished, which gigging is clearly adding to. They are unsigned and as yet, unmanaged, but if there is any justice in the world, this shouldn't remain the case for long. They remind me of the Waterboys circa 'A Pagan Place' and my mate Mark reckons the singer reminds him of Lloyd Cole. The potential to be another Jeff Buckley is clearly there too. 'If the news makes you sad, don't watch it' should be a single.

The last time I saw Emma Pollock, she seemed to have thrown off any ghosts that might have lingered from her previous band. She is even more confident than before, but doesn't take herself too seriously. She has a great sense of banter with the audience, able to laugh and enjoy herself. As I mentioed last time, she deserves to be seen as being up there with not just the other famous front women of new label 4AD (Kim, Tanya and Kirstin), but also British mould breakers like PJ Harvey. 'Adrenaline' produces just that, the keyboard riff that should be as familiar as anything else you'll hear on the radio by the end of the year. B-side 'A Glorious Day' delights live as well. 'Limbs' the free mp3 that has been doing the rounds for several months remains just her and her guitar, with the keyboard player, and gets lovelier with each listen. New single 'Acid Test' is more guitar driven than 'Adrenaline,' and also deserves to be high up there on end of year lists.

She encores with 'The Optimist' and once again, I go out into the night, my heart warmed, friends beside me converted, and waiting for her debut, Watch the Fireworks. The queen of the Scottish indie scene, who acts like one of the people.

Emma's myspace site is here and here website is here.

Broken Records' Myspace site is here, including 4 mp3s that can be downloaded. Go along and say hi to them all.

Emma Pollock -'Limbs.' mp3

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Arab Strap

Thank you to my reader Chris, whoever you may be, I have corrected the link below-so the Van Halen cover is, now, actually the cover of 'Why Can't This Be Love?.

As requested, here is Arab Strap's cover of AC/DC's 'You Shook Me All Night Long.'

Arab Strap -'You Shook me All Night Long (AC/DC cover).' mp3

Enjoy. No doubt more scottish indie to follow very soon...

A Great, Lost Single #8

Idlewild -'Queen Of the Troubled Teens.' (Human Condition Records, March 1997)

From little acorns...This was Idlewild's very first single. Raw as anything, the sheer joy of this single remains ten years later, as well as an amazement of how much they would develop over the years. The lineup for this single was Roddy Woomble on vocals (sounding very American here!), Rod Jones on guitar, Phil Scanlon on bass and Colin Newton on drums. Roddy's sister Kirsty is the girl on the front cover, though she isn't credited.

Of course, as the years would pass they would get magazine covers, Top of the Pops appearances, sign to an EMI subsidiary (since left!) and Roddy would make a folk album. And Wim Wenders would direct the video for their 2002 single 'Live In A Hiding Place'.

This single has long since been unavailable and rumours of it changing hands for £50 are true (not me, I bought it not long after it came out!) It comes up on ebay occasionally, so good luck hunting. In the meantime though, here are the three ssongs from the single:

Idlewild -'Queen Of The Troubled Teens.' mp3

Idlewild -'Faster.' mp3(NB Not the Manic Street Preachers song!)

Idlewild -'Self-Healer.' mp3

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Great, Lost Single #7

Bang Bang Machine 'Geek Love' (Jimmi Kidd Records, 1992)

As old-school British indie-kids (i.e. were into indie before Britpop) know, this song was No.1 in John Peel's Festive Fifty in 1992, the annual poll where Peel's listeners would vote for their song of the year.

Hailing from Evesham, Wocestershire in England's West Country, this song was their debut single. The band would go on to release two albums Eternal Happiness and Amphibian before they called it a day in 1996.

How to describe BBM? This track -and this is meant as a compliment - is a shoegazing epic with goth overtones. Even considering what a rubbish year 1992 was for music (and if you disagree, leave a message saying why!) it would be nice to think that this would have done well in the Festive Fifty in any year. John Peel said that even if they never made another record they would have achieved more than most of us do.

Bang Bang Machine -'Geek Love.' mp3

A Bang Bang Machine fan-site is here and their Wikipedia page is here. Try to buy the track if you can, on Amazon or ebay, there are no tracks available that I can see on iTunes (UK anyway).

Monday, August 06, 2007

More from Letterbox Records...Presenting Penny Century

Not long after I started 17 Seconds just over as year ago, I received an email from a friendly sounding chap called gav, who runs a label called Letterbox records. I have done several features on Letterbox records since I started this blog, including the Amateurs and Morning Bride, this time I would like to focus on Sweden's Penny Century.

Penny Century hail from the North of Sweden, and have released four eps before signing to Letterbox. Whilst comparisons to a well-known 'seminal' cassette released 21 years ago through the NME or certain Swedish bands of the last fifteen years ago are too obvious to make, it's also unfair because these songs deserve to be heard on their own terms. Their debut 'Between A Hundred Lies' will be out in two weeks' time, from where 'What You never Learned To Say' comes from. In addition to this, I'd like to direct your attention to two earlier tracks that give a taste of what Penny Century are like. To me, they sound like summer.

Penny Century -'What You Never Learned To Say.' mp3

Penny Century -'Summer Outside.' mp3

Penny Century -'Tangled Up In My Sheets.' mp3

and a reminder of edinburgh's The Amateurs' double A-side from earlier this year;

Amateurs -'Things You Only Know If You Don't Drive.' mp3

Amateurs -'Cool By Me.' mp3

Letterbox records can be found here, including the shop, and the requisite myspaces for the bands are here for Penny Century and here for The Amateurs.

If you like what you hear, please go and investigate. Best of all, this is 100% with the record companies blessing! See you soon...

200th post!

[Edinburgh's X-Vectors]

Yup, just as it says on the tin, this is the 200th post of 17 Seconds. I started writing this blog over a year ago now, doing my first post on July 15 2006. the reason I didn't do a anniversary one was that it was the day after my wedding and I know which side my bread is buttered (generally the side that lands face down, particularly if it's a carpet).

During the time of doing writing 17 Seconds so far, I have posted all manor of weird and wonderful sounds, from the unsigned to the massively successful. Anyone who says it's all just 'indie' hasn't been paying attention (Wiley? Dizzee rascal? Missy Elliott). I can't claim to have launched any bands, and a few of the bands I have written about have split (Arab Strap, Death From Above 1979 and The Cooper Temple Clause) although there are one or two who have a higher profile, which I can't really claim to much credit for, but hey...There have been people who have thanked me for bringing them to the attention of stuff they hadn't heard before, so RESULT!

Thanks to everyone who has read this blog, encouraged me, and helped, in what ever way. It's been an interesting year -getting cats, starting my first ever full-time teaching post, being signed off work and getting married. And more than just a bit of music along the way.

Now that Mrs. 17 Seconds and I are the owners of a USB turntable, expect more 'interesting' types of stuff to continue appearing here.

For the 200th post, I present an Arab Strap cover version, doing a Van Halen song...

Arab Strap-'Why Can't This Be Love? (Van Halen cover).' mp3(taken from The Shy Retirer ep)

...and also two tracks from a 12" single that was no.6 in last year's festive 50 on this site, Edinburgh band the X-vectors.

X-Vectors -'Now Is The Winter Of Our Discotheque.' mp3

X-Vectors -'Your Love.' mp3

(both tracks from Now Is the Winter Of Our Discotheque/Your Love 12" single)

X-Vectors' MySpace is here, with details of how to buy their music.

As always, tracks will be up here for one week only -if you like what you hear GO BUY IT.

Friday, August 03, 2007

New Order -Fine Time

Just a brief post on this one, but having spent a lot of time trying to get my head around the finer points of editing on the USB turntable programme, I present for your pleasure two great mixes of New Order's 'Fine Time', from their masterpiece album, 1989's Technique, which the Vinyl Villain posted on a couple of months ago. Oh, and just in case you haven't heard it-and shame on you! the original. Acid House? House? Indie dance??

New Order-'Fine Time.' mp3

New Order-'Fine Time (Silk Mix).' mp3

New Order-'Fine Time (Messed Around Mix).' mp3

As always...if you like what you hear, GO AND BUY IT! Links up for one week.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I am the owner of a USB turntable!!

(The Killers)

One of the wedding presents Mrs. 17 Seconds and I received was a USB turntable, which as you might imagine, is already getting a fair bit of use, not least for all the stuff I want to put on my iPod. Here for your listening pleasure are five 12" mixes - Dance? Indie? Electronica?!? You decide, but hey...

First up, this came out in early 2005, just as Mylo and the Killers were starting to get big not only critically but commercially in the UK. This is from the 12":

The Killers-'Somebody Told Me (Mylo mix).' mp3

I said there would be more Arab Strap soon, and I was not kidding. Here, from the 2001 12" of Turbulence mixes (original version on 'The Red Thread' album) is the song remixed by Bis (who subsequently split, but have since reformed):

Arab Strap -'Turbulence (Bis mix).' mp3

Also from 2001, orginally from their 'Origin of Symmetry' album, here is Muse's 'Newborn' remixed by Paul Oakenfold, who transforms it from a mini-prog masterpiece, into a trance masterpiece (Glowsticks optional):

Muse-'Newborn (Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto remix).' mp3

Trevor Jackson's Playgroup act must have put out numerous 12"s of remixes of this track (I own at least four 12"s of this) but here is the original extended mix in all it's nine minute glory. Altogether now: 'I can see it in your eyes...I can see it in your face...MAKE IT HAPPEN.'

Playgroup -'Make It Happen (extended mix).'

Finally, from 2003, Electrix Six promised much, were great in their briefly lived original line-up, then ultimately delivered little, but this track is still fab. (Can you tell what track was an influence on this?!)

Electrix Six -'Danger! High Voltage (Soulchild 12" Blitz mix).' mp3

You know the score. The tracks will be up for a week. If you like what you hear, support the artists involved. If you cannot find these tracks in your local independent record shop, or even your local capitalist chain, then try Amazon or ebay. There are many, many more where these came from...

A Great, Lost Single #6

Arab Strap -'Here We Go/Trippy' (Chemikal Underground, 1998)

I first heard Arab Strap on the John Peel show, when he played Here We Go. Somehow the release of 'The First Big Weekend' had passed me by, but looking at the vinyl on the record shelves in my flat, I guess I made up for lost time. In this song, Aidan Moffat starts off by wondering how he's supposed to walk his girlfriend home, when she's some way in front of him, having stormed off in a huff. Hmm, I guess one or two of us might have been there, too... Sad and beautiful. The 'AA' side (I know, it's just I still tend to think in terms of vinyl) Trippy is just that, showing that Aidan Moffat's later electronica work as Lucky Pierre has a far earlier beginning than might be thought. The track also features 'Tremendan O'Hare', almost certainly one-time Teenage Fanclub drummer, and Mogwai's musician without portfolio (sic) Brendan O'Hare.

'Here We Go' is still available on their second album 'Philophobia'; for Trippy, try e-bay or Amazon (it's not on the UK version of iTunes as far as I can see).

Arab Strap -'Here We Go.' mp3

Arab Strap -'Trippy.' mp3

As always, if you like what you hear, please support the artists involved. Tracks posted will be up for one week only. More Arab Strap coming very, very soon...