Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kate Nash and The Black Kids!

Very frustrated that I am still waiting for my bandwith to be refreshed, despite the fact that today was supposed to be the day it was.


two things I have to share with you:

First of all, 17 Seconds' favourite scottish unsigned singer, Katie Sutherland has signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell, and emailed me to tell me that today! Yes!!

Secondly, the hotly debated Black Kids -still unsigned as far as I can tell -have already been covered by the fab Kate Nash go here to hear her cover of 'I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You.'

Hopefully I will have bandwith again soon. Grrr...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Album Review: Wounded Knee

Album Review: Wounded Knee 'Wounded Knee' (Benbecula Minerals Series)

Wounded Knee's reputation kind of preceeded him. I was thrilled at the thought of reviewing this record, though my editor handed it over a little nervously.

Well, chill, because this record manages to be forward thinking and traditionally scottish at the same time, way out and listenable at the same time and that's not something that can always be said.

Perhaps I was envisaging something in the vein of Kylie Minoise (no, I definitely don't mean Minogue), but whilst this music challenges you, it doesn't attack you in the same way. There's a sense of humour about what is described as a'post modern hebridean Walking Song ethic.' The vocal loops particularly on 'Anthem For The Call Centre Worker' manages to take the drudgery and make something beautiful out of it (believe me, having worked in those places, that's a feat and a half).

This is a record unlike anything you'll hear this year, all the better for it, and something that will most likely take you out of your previous listening experience, but to somewhere you'll be happy to return.


'Wounded Knee' is out now on Benbecula
Wounded Knee's mySpace is here

Benbecula Records can be found here

(I haven't posted any mp3s 'cos my bandwith has been used up)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interview: Commander Keen

A few months back, I described Commader Keen's My Tascam Dreams as one of the finest things I had heard all year. Listening to it (quite often, I have to say!) I stand by my comment ' 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.' Stuart Torrance, the mainman behind Commander Keen, came over to Edinburgh to talk about the release to 17 Seconds.

In the flesh, he's a very warm friendly guy, who's clearly very passionate about what he's doing. He's also extremely polite and apologetic, especially when he considers that he's gone off topic (something I am accused of quite often myself!)

When we meet, Stuart's a month off releasing My Tascam Dreams. To me it's wonderful, fresh and new, but to Stuart, who tends to record at home, it seems quite a bit older. 'Now the stuff that we're doing is so different and I'm working with that every spare minute I've got, and you're coming back to old's a really weird thing' he chuckles.

I ask him how long he's been doing stuff as Commander Keen. 'Well, there was a year of ... kind of solo stuff which was bloody awful, but I can feel sort of bad about that, or look back and see it as experimental to find the kind of stuff I wanted to do,' he reasons. ' There are ideas that have survived.' There was also a period when he worked with a cellist, which didn't work out, but he is quick to add that there 'are no hard feelings.' Now he's working with two others, Rafe Fitzpatrick on violin and Craig McGinnis on bass and backing vocals. Stuart himself contributes guitars, laptop programming...and quite a lot else besides.

This was something I had been looking to clear up, I say. Is Commander Keen a band or a solo artist -or does he want to get away from these labels? 'Well, that EP [My Tascam Dreams] was just myself working with samples. I really liked samples at that point. The only guest on that was a trumpet player.' They are scheduled to have another release out in January or February 2008, done as the three of them. Is this going to be an album or single? 'I think at the moment we're just keeping our releases small,' he says modestly. 'If you keep bundles fairly small, then people won't get so fed up with it. He adds, sounding genuinely amazed: 'There are people who seem to really like it that I wouldn't have thought would like it...I don't want to use the phrase 'pop-punky shite' but that's what they're [Normally] into.

He isn't quite sure where the sound fits in, but he likes the idea of Squarepusher jamming with John Martyn. I also tell him that in parts it reminds me of The Blue Nile. 'Someone else said that to me -I've not listened to a lot of their stuff.' He mentions band like Aereogramme and Arab Strap, part of what 17 Seconds has described
as the scottish indie aesthetic, and there's something of the peculairly scottish sadness there too.

Like many of us, his tastes have changed. He says how his tastes as a teenager tended towards guitar music, though he listens to a lot more Ambient stuff now. Sigur Ros' Ágætis Byrjun was also an eye-opening, or rather, ear-opening album for him.

Although he was born in Edinburgh and went to school here, he's now based in Glasgow where he studies. The two cities have long since shared a (mostly) friendly rivalry. We discuss how in Glasgow it's more 'in your face' whereas in Edinburgh it's something that requires digging out. Perhaps it's something to do with Glasgow's more settled population rather than Edinburgh which tends to be quite transient. Stuart considers this. 'What I notice is that people involved in the edinburgh scene, all of them seem really nice, whereas in Glasgow there's a lot of egos flying about.' It's balanced out in odd ways too. Edinburgh has a lot of covers bands, whereas in Glasgow 'there's a lot of bands with funny eyeliner and lip rings' he says with a shudder. He is too tactful to name them -and he's far too nice to press- but he suggests that there are venues in Glasgow that are just opening up for profit.

I ask him what he's been listening to of late. On the train over for the interview, he was listening to a band called Frog Pocket, though he says he's got a great love of Four Tet. This leads us on to a discussion about being open to more types of music, and how much diversity there is in the scottish music scene, it needs to be consolidated and brought together in terms of accessibility.

He's very modest about how he expects to do. After he and I have ranted together about the likes of Simon Cowell for five minutes, he says that when you make the sort of music he does, you have to accept that it may not be successful, at least not in the way of a bona fide pop star. It would be a shame, this is music that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. The band are also gigging in and around Scotland, so take a telling and go investigate!

Commander Keen's myspace page is here

He also sent me through some mp3 clips of the My Tascam Dreams which can be downloaded here:

Commander Keen -'Panic Attack.' mp3

Commander Keen -'My Tascam Dreams.' mp3

Commander Keen -'I Thought If You Heard This (Alternate Version).' mp3

Commander Keen -'You Know the Words.' mp3

Commander Keen -'She Dances (Original Instrumental).' mp3

If you like what you hear, buy My Tascam Dreams, which is also available at iTunes.

Introducing...The Black Kids

Every so often, there is a band that comes along, that sends the blogosphere into a frenzy of discussion, and over the last few days that band has -rightly, in my humble opinion been these guys The Black Kids.

Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, The Black Kids are: Owen Holmes on bass, Kevin Snow on drums, Dawn Watley and Ali Youngblood, both on keys+vocals, and Reggie Youngblood on vocals+guitar.

To these ears, they sound like a Marvin Gaye meeting The Shins. They have made the four tracks on their MySpace page which make up the Wizard of Ahhs EP (quite a cute pun, I like it) available to download.

They have, as I said before, had a fair bit written about them across the blogosphere. I first read about them over at Hello Vegetables, it seems Pitchfork have given the EP 8.4 (read about it here, and Good Weather For Airstrikes has another mp3 and a live review. 24 hour Party Pooper has yet more here
Their song 'Hurricane Jane' has also been remixed by an artist called Beige -who I hadn't heard before, but I'm impressed!- which can be found at his MySpace here

Go and make friends with them, I think the hype is justified here...

The Black Kids -'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You.' mp3

The Black Kids -'Hurricane Jane.' mp3

The Black Kids -'Listen To Your Body Tonight.' mp3

Friday, October 26, 2007

Interview: Ringo Death Starr

I have raved about Ringo Deathstarr on this site many times, so it seemed about time to publish an interview with them. They comprise: Elliott Frazier on guitar and voice, dustin gaudet on drums, alex gehring - bass/voice and renan mcfarland on guitar. Here Elliott tells 17 Seconds about how it all came together, how come they've not yet played outside of Texas and whether we'll ever get to see them in Scotland...

How did you guys come together?
Ringo deathstarr began 2.5 years ago, founded by me, elliott. after many shows and many line-up changes, we finally ended up with the current formation, which feels like what this band should have been all along. some of the original members moved away, others were too busy with other bands, others had other problems, but i never gave up, since i wrote all the songs. Stephen Hablinski was the longest running ember, he was the other guitar player, and he wrote all the melodic parts on the e.p. he was just too busy to commit the time we, after the e.p. was recorded, we parted ways. i knew dustin from our home town of beaumont texas, and i sort of knew alex from this store she worked at, FACTORY PEOPLE...and renan is one of her good friends.....

You list your influences as being super-reverb. Are you honestly going to say that there's no Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine influence there?!
well, thats up to the listener! it is true, though...but also, there are other bands like starflyer 59 and morellas forest that were big influences, before i heard JAMC or beaumont, nobody that i knew liked any of that kind of music...when i was 18, my older friend julie had JAMC's "darklands" and had all the smiths and morrissey stuff, and thats also when i got into the Dandy Warhols....but beaumont was a town without good record shops, and wal-mart and best buy were the only places to get music. it was like a black hole.

Who do you see as your contemporaries?
manhattan love suicides, ume, shields, anything after....we all seem to be doing something similar

You're currently about to play with the Dandy Warhols. How did that come about?
They heard about us from The Black Angels, and asked us to play...

Have you played outside of Texas yet?!
nope, we dont really have a way to get around, we are in the middle of texas, so far from any state border...we dont have a van, so we have to take 2 cars. we are too poor to rent a van just to go on a gig....if clubs actually paid real money then we could do it, but paying $40 for an 8 hour round trip aint gonan cut it, dude...but we are looking at our options to get to NYC and back...

Your EP 'Ringo Deathstarr' has come out on a British label, Spoilt Victorian Child. How did you get involved with SVC?
Simon, who runs that label, contacted me, and said he wanted to release it..he gave me a pretty good offer, so here we are...he has worked hard, and it is paying off i think..

How do you write your songs?
just by accident most of the time. usually i have an idea for a song, but it takes a long time to come together. luckily, with the current line-up, everyone else has good ideas. with all the line-up changes, i was the only songwriter, and stephen would add his guitar at the last minute before we recorded it. now, alex comes up with vocal parts, bass parts, renan plays some spaced out bliss, and dustin has drum ideas. we are working on songs for our next e.p. now...but we are taking our time.

Describe your live show for the benefit of anyone who's never seen you.
we try not to just stand there and gaze at our shoes. we like to have a good time. we like to be LOUD, and crazy sometimes. dustin sells p.a. and lighting equipment, so he got this foot switch for strobe lights and stuff, which alex controls.

What plans have got you got for the rest of 2007 and 2008? Can we expect more releases soon?
WORLD DOMINATION. we will have another release as soon as we get it together...i have already designed the artwork for it.

List your favourite 10 albums.

elliott--starflyer 59 - silver
ride - smile
zz top - eliminator
dustin --broken social scene - self titled
chromeo-fancy footwork
flaming lips - soft bulletin
brian jonestown massacre - their satanic majesty's
second request
Alex - pixies - doolitle
-blonde redhead - melody of certain damaged lemons
-kings of convenience - right on an empty street

plus a bonus one ---broadcast - ha ha sound

What is your favourite piece of art?
elliott - goustave courbet's "L'Origine du monde"
dustin-everything by basquiat
marin - red sun
alex - the art of Banksy

Do any of you still have day jobs?
yes, i teach music lessons to kids, dustin works at a music store in the p.a. system/lighting department, alex works at a local boutique, and renan is a full time student.

Do you think the word 'indie' still means anything in 2007?
yeah, but not as a description of a SOUND. i think the DIY ethic and all that is easier now more than ever, with all the technology...i think independent artists will continue to gain all the power over A&R people.

What would be your dream gig for Ringo Deathstarr to play?
one where people are there to see us.

Finally, when are you coming to Scotland?
when some magical entinty supplies us with 4 plane tickets. i have been to glasgow before, when i played drums in IV Thieves...played at barflys, twas great fun. we will try really hard to get over there....

We'll hold them to it. Anyone want to help organise a whip round?

Ringo Death Starr's debut EP is now available through their MySpace site here.

Two samples for you: from the EP

Ringo Death Starr -'Swirly.' mp3

And an early version of the track 'Some Kind Of Sad' which caused 17 Seconds to get extremely excited a few months ago:

Ringo Death Starr -'Some Kind Of Sad (early version).' mp3

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some Covers For Thursday

(it's really not far off this in Scotland now)

OK, don't know how much I'm going to be able to post over the next few days, so here are seven covers for today. No linking theme, but hope you like them:

Muse -'House Of the Rising Sun (The Animals cover).' mp3

Big Star -'Femme Fetale (Velvet Underground cover).' mp3

The Pretenders -'I Go To Sleep (The Kinks cover).' mp3

Madness -'It Must be Love (Labi Siffre cover).' mp3

The Wedding Present -'Felicity (Orange Juice cover).' mp3

Slowdive -'Some Velvet Morning (Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra cover).' mp3

Big Black -'The Model (Kraftwerk cover).' mp3

Gig review: Wedding Present/St. Jude's Infirmary

Gig review: Wedding Present/St. Jude's Infirmary

Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, October 24, 2007

In 1986, NME released their now-legendary compilation cassette C86, which compiled twenty-two then up and coming bands on indie labels. Though there were some who did 'cross-over' and sign to major labels (Soup Dragons, Fuzzbox), this was symbolic for defining the 'indie' sound as well as attitude, and makes an interesting companion to their 1981 cassette c81 (which had featured the likes of Orange Juice, Scritti Politti, Aztec Camera and the Raincoats). In 2007, there are only four of those bands still around and I am kinda proud that, considering I was only nine when C86 was released, I have seen all four: Primal Scream, Half Man Half Biscuit, the Pastels...and The Wedding Present.

The following year, the Wedding Present, by now very much NME and Peel favourites (they are just behind The Smiths and The Fall in terms of most votes ever in the annual Festive Fifty) released their debut, George Best. Fourteen gorgeously spiky songs about love and frustration, it has become widely regarded as a classic. And it's this we have come to celebrate.

If anyone had told me that Saint Jude's Infirmary were supporting tonight, I would have tried to have got there earlier. When Mrs. 17 Seconds and I arrive the band are onstage, instantly recognisable, very bloody loud and playing to a room that isn't terribly responsive. If they play 'the Church Of John Coltrane' or 'Goodbye Jack Vetriano' then they do so before I arrive. The band are currently recording their second album which is due out next year. It might seem an odd choice to be supporting The WEedding Present, but songs like 'American Sonar' actually have quite a weddoes influence. They finsih with 'All My Rowdy Friends Have Gone Away' by which time the venue has filled up nicely and the crowd are much more appreciative.

For the headliners, Mrs. 17 Seconds and I are joined by Mr. Toad, of Song, By Toad fame (if you haven't read his blog, you really should). The Wedding Present have a hugs following out there still, and if it's not the original Gedge-Solowka-Gregory-Charman lineup, it really doesn't seem to matter. Mr. Gedge is adored by his public (providing they don't call him Gedgie, it seems, quite understandably!) They don't go straight into George Best era stuff, but treat us to half a dozen songs beforehand, including 'Brassneck' ''Convertible' and 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah' and a new song called 'Don't Take Me Home Until I'm Very Drunk.' Gedge winds the audience up by saying 'Good Evening Glasgow' (believe me, there's a lot of rivalry between us and them). When the opening chords to 'Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft' start, the cheer joy of everyone around you rmeinds you just how important and great this band is. When they get to 'My Favourite Dress' I try hard not to dance like an idiot up there on the balcony, but I give up, or give in rather, and Mrs. 17 Seconds smiles indulgently. There is just so bounce and fun in these songs. Down there on the dancefloor the audience -many of whom may very well have seen them on tour twenty years ago, are showing that age need be no barrier to moshing (though your humble correspondant gave up seven years ago after a Cypress Hill set at a festival).
In true Wedding Present style, they don't play any encores, but they do play 'Kennedy' which gets perhaps the best reception of the night, especially the 'Too Much Apple Pie' bit(which always sounded slightly friendlier than the You! Fat!Bastards! chant at Carter USM gigs).

They played for an hour and a half, but it passed in a pleasant blur of joy and friendly chanting. May they be with us for many years yet. And if they would like to tour Bizarro and Seamonsters to mark those anniversaries over the coming years, I'll get my diary out now...


If you haven't bought George Best, you really should. This should whet your appetite...

Wedding Present -'Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft.' mp3

Wedding Present -'My Favourite Dress.' mp3

Wedding Present -'You Can't Moan Can You?' mp3

And two Saint Jude's Infirmary tracks, (even if they didn't play them last night):

Saint Jude's Infirmary -'Goodbye Jack Vetriano.' mp3

Saint Jude's Infirmary -'The Church Of John Coltrane.' mp3

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When is a cover not a cover?

OK, maybe I've just got too much time on my hands, but this question has been occuring to me for a while...And where does that leave prefering one version over another?

First up, 'China Girl.' Co-written by Iggy Pop and David Bowie in 1977, it appeared on Iggy's The Idiot in 1977, and then on Bowie's Let's Dance in 1983. I suppose that Bowie's version is a cover coming technically afterwards, but he did produce The Idiot. And I sorta prefer Iggy's voice on his version, but i love the bass on the Bowie version. Hmm, go figure...

Iggy Pop -'China Girl.' mp3

David Bowie -'China Girl.' mp3

And what about 'Shipbuilding?' Elvis Costello co-write this poignant ballad about the Falklands' War, in 1982, Robert Wyatt recorded it first and had ahit with it, then Costello recorded his version for his own Punch The Clock LP in 1983. I like Wyatt's voice, but Chet Baker's trumpet is heartbreaking.

Robert Wyatt -'Shipbuilding.' mp3

Elvis Costello -'Shipbuilding.' mp3

As for this last one, well, I guess it always was a James Kirk track, even if there were twenty years between the version he did in Orange Juice and then recording it for his own solo You Can Make It If You Boogie in 2003. Or was it?

James Kirk -'Felicity.' mp3

Please leave any thoughts below...

Album Review: Boy Omega

Album Review: Boy Omega 'Hope On The Horizon' (Stereo Test Kit Records)

So, who is the next singer-songwriter to get blogland in a flurry of writing and praise? Well, if I have anything to do with it, it's a young man from Sweden called Martin Henrik Gustafsson, who records under the name Boy Omega.

Though his previous efforts were more of a solo effort, with an electronic feel, this album has much more of a band feel. And, as almost a refreshing difference, as a result of listening to albums like Blonde on Blonde and a lot of Phil Spector, he has produced one of the warmest sounding albums you will hear all year. Reprotedly 'more is more' became the catchphrase in the studio, and boy, has it paid off.

Whilst comparisons with his vocal style with Bright Eyes' Connor Oberst are inevitable, and there are definite hints of Elliott Smith, Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire, the sound here, right from the off with opener 'A Quest For Fire' is distinctive and special. An album that lyrically owes a lot to what could losely be termed the human condition, this is one of the best things you will hear this year. This is just too good to remain a fringe thing.


'Hope On The Horizon' is released on Stereo Test Kit on November 5.

From Hope on the Horizon:

Boy Omega -'Suffocation Street.' mp3

From The Black Tango

Boy Omega -'By Midnight We'll Give It A Go.' mp3

Boy Omega -'Explode.' mp3

From The Grey Rainbow (mini-album)

Boy Omega -'Burn This Flag.' mp3

Other Boy Omega mp3s:

Boy Omega -'We Might Not be Real (slow version).' mp3

Boy Omega -'Fool Around.' mp3

Boy Omega -'From Us To Eternity.' mp3

Boy Omega's website

Stereo Test Kit's website

And, as ever, please met me know what you think, and if you like what you hear, go buy it from your local independent record store!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sonic Youth: How one band helped change my life

The year I was fourteen (1990-1991) was not a great one. Let's just say I hit adolescence, with all the pain, angst and trouble that brings. However, I'm still in touch with some of the people I became friendly with during that time, and as a secondary teacher (High School teacher for US readers) I can at least reassure those I teach that it will get better.

If there was one thing I got out of that miserable year, it was my introduction to 'indie/alternative' music -and this was in pre-Nevermind times. For my fourteenth birthday, I got the Rolling Stones' Hot Rocks 1964-1971, The Sex Pistols' Nevermind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols and erm, The Clash's Cut The Crap (yeah, I know, but I didn't have someone to advise me). Bought for me on cassette (this was 1990, remember) by my long-suffering mother, but requested by me, this was the start of it. Then the following month, staying with a friend in London who was a year or so older (and that's significant when you're in your teens), played me Jane's Addiction's Ritual De Lo Habitual and Sonic Youth's Goo.

From it's cover alone, with it's pop art sleeve and the droll 'I Siole my sister's boyfriend. It was all whirlwind, heat and flash. Within a week we killed my parents and hit the road' this was something else. Then I heard 'Dirty Boots.'

Sonic Youth -'Dirty Boots.' mp3

In time, of course, I heard other Sonic Youth albums, particularly Sister and Daydream Nation.

From Sister (released in 1987)

Sonic Youth -'Schizophrenia.' mp3

From Daydream Nation (released in 1988)

Sonic Youth -'Rain King.' mp3

Whilst on holiday in Italy last week, it occured to me that I could do a Sonic Youth cover versions posting. I know I've posted these first two here before, but they really are classics:

Sonic Youth -'Superstar (the Carpenters cover).' mp3 (This can be found on the Various Artists If I Was A Carpenter album. This dates from 1994).

Sonic Youth -'Into The Groove(y) (Madonna cover).' mp3 (This was originally a 7" as Ciccone Youth (Jeez, do I have to spell this out? Ciccone was Madonna's maiden name) and then released on the Ciccone Youth's The Whitey Album, which is still available, and on the 1995 Sonic Youth compilation Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love.

Sonic Youth -'Hotwire My Heart (Crime cover).' mp3

(I don't know much about Crime but their original version of this track came out in 1976, and they were part of the seventies New York Punk scene. This can be found on the aforementioned Sister album)

Finally I mentioned the Daydream Nation album earlier. This has recently been re-issued with fantastic sleevenotes (yes, this is why I buy albums as opposed to just downloading them. Plus I have a concentration span of more than two seconds) and a second disc of live performances and four cover versions:

Sonic Youth -'Within You Without You (The Beatles cover).' mp3

(This was originally recorded for an NME Charity compilation, Sergeant Pepper Knew My Father to raise money for the then fledgling UK charity Childline. A whole host of artists, including The Fall doing 'A Day In the Life' covered songs from The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band Perhaps most famously, was the double a-Side of Billy Bragg doing 'She's Leaving Home', and Wet Wet Wet doing 'With A Little Help From My Friends.')

Sonic Youth -'Touch Me Me I'm Sick (Mudhoney cover).' mp3

(This was a cover of the seminal mudhoney single, in this case recorded for a split Sub Pop single with Mudhoney covering the youth's 'Halloween' (from Bad Moon Rising on the other side).

Sonic Youth -'Computer Age (Neil Young cover).' mp3

(This was from a 1989 compilation called The Bridge, in which various artists covered Neil young songs and the proceeds went to The Bridge school in California, whihc Young has long been a patron of. The album also feaures Loop doing 'Cinnamon Girl' Flaming Lips doing 'After The Goldrush' and Psychic TV doing 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' (which of course would be covered a year or so later by saint etienne in a radically different form again))

Sonic Youth -'Electricity (Captain Beefheart cover).' mp3

(Cannot claim any knowledge about this. Any info gratefull received etc..)

All these tracks are available so if you like what you hear then please go and buy them. If you are looking for starters on how to get into Sonic Youth, I suggest you get the compilation Screaming Fields Of Sonic Love, Goo, Daydream Nation and Sister. If you buy Evol, make sure you get it on vinyl, it literally lasts forever...

Sonic Youth's official website is here, whihc has even more mp3s.

Album Review: Descent

Album Review

Descent ‘This Violent Reality’ (Corellian Records)

Blimey. That’ll teach me. This had lingered near the bottom of the review pile. There are a lot of rubbish death-thrash-core metal bands out there, and only a few good ones.

However, West London’s Descent fall definitely into the latter camp. Whereas some bands in this genre make albums that give the impression of having no thought whatsoever put into them, and sound the same right the way through, this is a powerful, involving and ultimately rewarding listen. Speed is the key here, so we are definitely talking more Slayer than Sunn O ) ) ). There are a lot of ideas here, but there also excellent tunes too. Songs like ‘Reveal’ ‘Blasphemy Reborn’ and my personal favourite ‘My Failure.’

Perhaps most impressive is the way that the band manage not to descent into self-indulgence. If you are not a fan of this genre, this album won’t change that, but if you want to hear a metal band with a new twist, cast your ear this way.

Descent -'My Failure.' mp3

More mp3s can be found at the band's webiste here, part of the Band's website.

Their MySpace is here

Monday, October 22, 2007

Paul Raven 1961-2007

There really is someone else in a worse position than you.

I'd had a very stressful morning, feeling tired and grumpy (grumpy? You? never! -anyone who's ever met me) and had just resolved to check email before heading to bed.

Chaancing on the NME website before heading there, I was saddened to read that Killing Joke's bassist Paul Raven has died in Switzerland, in his sleep at the age of only 46.

I love Killing Joke's music and though I've never met any of them, heartfelt sympathies go out to the band and Paul Raven's family.

Read more here at NME and here at the official Killing Joke site.

By way of tribute, here are two tracks that Paul Raven played on, Killing Joke's biggest hit, 'Love Like Blood' and 'Eighties' (yes, the latter was the one that Nirvana were considered to have appropriated for 'Come As You Are.' Litigation proceeded no further after Kurt Cobain' suicide in 1994). Both these tracks can be found on Killing Joke's album Night Time, which you should definitely buy.

Killing Joke -'Love Like Blood.' mp3

Killing Joke -'Eighties.' mp3

Don't Cross the Charatans' path!

Feeling shattered, and in desperate need of rest, and as usual, have too much to do.

However, have dragged myself out of bed long enough to download for free -yup, free!- and legally the new Charlatans single, courtesy of XFM Scotland. their new album is going to be available for free the same way next year, and it seems manager Alan McGee (yup, him, the one that signed Oasis) has realised this is the way the wind is blowing. No kidding...

And what of the song itself? Pretty damn great, and up there with the rest of the best stuff they've done over the last...seventeen years (i have long maintained that I think The Charlatans will outlast virtually ever other band of their original era). I'm already playing it for the second time this morning, and it's only been available for about twelve minutes.

Download it here and let me know what you think

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Some Covers For Sunday III

Well, I have been away for a few days with Mrs. 17 Seconds, but the cats and the flat have been looked after well by our friend Ken whilst we were off in Italy. Edinburgh seems rather grey and overcast after the delights of Tuscany.

Anyway, how's about some covers for Sunday, then?

First up, a trio of delights from Placebo:

Placebo -'20th Century Boy (T.Rex cover).' mp3

Placebo -'Holocaust (Bog Star cover).' mp3

Placebo -'Bigmouth Strikes Again (The Smiths cover).' mp3

This is a cover of a Leonard Cohen song from his I'm Your Man album, by the Jesus and Mary Chain, which as well as being a b-side (1990's Rollercoaster EP) was on the Leonard Cohen tribute album I'm Your Fan.

Jesus And Mary Chain -'Tower Of Song (Leonard Cohen cover).' mp3

The Strokes may have claimed ignorance of Television, Tori Amos apparently surprised at comparisons to Kate Bush, but at least the Manic Street Preachers never denied the obvious impact The Clash had on them:

Manic Street Preachers -'Train In Vain (The Clash cover).' mp3

Can you ever have too many Beatles covers? Er, well, depends as if they are as good as this...

Gene -'Don't Let Me Down (The Beatles cover).' mp3

Finally, this has become quite a legendary cover, but why not, eh?

Belly -'Trust In Me (cover from The Jungle Book).' mp3

Enjoy. As always, if you like what you hear, support the artists involved.
I Should be posting more regularly now I'm back, though hibernating seems like an appealing option right now...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Seven Songs Selected At Random

(Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera)

These seven songs have indeed been selected at random!

Enjoy. And as always, if you like what you hear GO AND SUPPORT THE ARTISTS INVOLVED!!

Aztec Camera -'Jump (Van Halen cover).' mp3

Talking Heads -'Memories Can't Wait.' mp3

Pretty Girls make Graves -'This Is Our Emergency.' mp3

Danger Mouse and Gemini -'Ghetto Pop Life.' mp3

The Fall -'Spoilt Victorian Child.' mp3

Goldie -'Inner City Life.' mp3

Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy -'Television, The Drug Of the Nation.' mp3

Happy Listening, wherever you may be...

Sunday, October 14, 2007


If I had to pick a favourite era for music, it would be 1977-1982.

Of course, I was too young to know what it meant at the time, but it's the era that I have spent time tracking down the most sounds from.

There was just so much great stuff: The original UK punks finally getting the chance to make records, Roots reggae from Jamaica, the beginning of Hip-Hop, Bowie's Berlin period, the beginning of indie, Post-punk, New Wave, No Wave, Disco, New Romantics (before it got silly), Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing', Siouxsie, the arrival of Madonna, Michael Jackson's Off The Walland Thriller.

OK, so i'm sure people could write long lists about all the crap they had to live through musically, socially and personally and they'd be right too.

But -and it's hard to do it justice -my view of six great tracks from the period.

Human League -'Being Boiled.' mp3

Scritti politti -'Skank Bloc Bologna.' mp3

James Chance -'Contort Yourself.' mp3

The Cramps -'Human Fly.' mp3

Wire -'Three girl Rhumba.' mp3

The Fall -'Bingo Master's Breakout!' mp3

as always, if you like what you hear, support the artists involved!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The greatest one hit wonder ever?

I know many of my friends would go for 'You Get What You Give' by the New Radicals, and it's up there, but Gregg Alexander loses marks for writing for Ronan Keating afterwards.

Nah, the greatest one hit wonder was this, no.2 in John Peel's Festive Fifty in 1977, no.1 in the UK singles chart in early 1978 and still sounding great:

Althea and Donna -'Uptown Top Ranking.' mp3

This can probably be found on quite a few reggae compilations and the album is definitely on iTunes. everyone should own at least this song.

There's a wee entry on the fun girls here at Wikipedia

Friday, October 12, 2007

2007...pretty good year for music so far

Thank goodness -I'm now off school for two and a half weeks. I may even be feeling human at the end of it all.

I know I often post covers on a Friday, but I thought today I would post a handful of tracks that I've really been enjoying this year. Some of them -Gasp! Shock! Horror! were hits. I've posted about Penny Century, Emma Pollock and Katie Sutherland a lot this year, and flagged up how much I've enjoyed Bat For Lashes and Wiley, but I thought I would highlight some other stuff I've loved.

Kate Nash -'Foundations.' mp3

King Creosote -'Leslie.' mp3

Tiny Dancers -'I Will Wait For You.' mp3

Calvin Harris -'Acceptable in the 80s.' mp3

Thrushes -'Aidan Quinn.' mp3

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

Hot Chip -'My Piano.' mp3

Von Sudenfed -'Fledermaus Can't Get It.' mp3

Timbaland -'Give It To Me.' mp3

Battles -'Atlas.' mp3

If you like the tracks, support the artists involved, and leave feedback.

It's going to be tough deciding my Top 50 tracks this year...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aaargh...when do the holidays start, again?.

Increasingly FED UP WITH UNDER 18s.

They laugh and find getting a bollocking funny

Josef K -'Sorry For Laughing.' mp3

They make out you're trying to get them...funny, why does it feel like it's the other way round?

Black Box Recorder -'The School Song.' mp3

Then, when you try and educate them about things that might affect them and show them a film about nuclear war they start greetin'*. Maybe I should have used this instead...

Scars -'Your attention Please.' mp3

Amazing, they all think they're so hard, and yet...

I may not have become my parents -yet - but I've already become one of my teachers.

* Greetin' is scots slang for crying

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Presenting...Ruth Theodore

A few days ago, I was rooting through the latest pile of CDs I had been sent to review, when I came across a name I hadn't heard before: Ruth Theodore

This self-styled 'south-coast refugee' (it makes sense when you read her MySpace and website has got a great way with a guitar and songwriting, that slowly works its way in and takes you by surprise. Her debut album will be released in November on River Rat records, who make a virtue of being an ethical record company. (Maybe a lot of them will be having to go that way given that today is the day of Radiohead's new online release).

Anyway, check out these gorgoeus tracks and if you don't fall under her spell...more fool you. 'Worm Food' will be out on October 22, and she's playing in and around that time. Mostly London, but hopefully she will come further afield (that's a hint Ruth!!)

Ruth Theodore -'Worm Food.' mp3

Ruth Theodore -'Ugly Faces.' mp3

Ruth Theodore -'Overexpanding.' mp3

Halle -flaming-lujah

Have now finally had my bandwith renewed so will be posting more regularly. Am glad folks out there are downloading the music -and hopefully buying it!-but feedback is appreciated, yes?

Anyway, here's seven covers for today. I may have posted some of these here before, it is quite pssible, but my brain is frazzled from having to deal with too many misbehaving teens and right now, anyone under the age of sixteen can just...(fill in blank as appropriate!)

LCD Soundsystem -'No Love Lost (Joy Division cover).' mp3

The Pop Singer's Fear Of The Pollen Count -'Vapour Trail (Ride cover).' mp3

The Shins -'We Will Become Silhouettes (Postal Service cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Naive Melody (Talking Heads cover).' mp3

Astrid Swan -'When You Were Young (Killers cover).' mp3

Manic Street Preachers -'We Are All Bourgeois Now (McCarthy cover).' mp3

Sloan -'Over You (Roxy Music cover).' mp3

Enjoy. And feedback gratefully received, yeah?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Scots indie!

When I first started this blog, about fifteen months ago, one of my main aims was making scottish indie as high profile as possible.

Arguably since then, I have diversified a little -folk, death metal, grime and even a little classical have made their way onto these pages.

However, my bandwith is about to be exceeded -again! and so I thought I would do a post the old-fashioned way, and about music I am passionate about, with or without regard to fashion.

Some of these you may know, others you won't. Some are well-known, others less so, some bands are gone, some new, some just beginning. But enjoy...

Arab Strap -'Love Detective.' mp3

Belle And Sebastian -'Funny Little Frog.' mp3

Isobel Campbell -'Amorino.' mp3

Franz Ferdinand -'Darts Of Pleasure.' mp3

Delgados -'American Trilogy.' mp3

Mogwai -'Dial:Revenge.' mp3 (featuring Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals, it's a celtic thing, you understand!)

Sons and Daughters -'Johnny Cash.' mp3

Teenage Fanclub -'What You Do To me.' mp3

Twilight Sad -'That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy.' mp3

1990s -'You're Supposed To Be My Friend.' mp3


have a good weekend!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Some Covers For Friday Part IV

It's Friday! How about some covers then?

Iron and wine -'Such Great Heights (Postal Service cover).' mp3

Astrid Swan -'When You Were Young (Killers cover).' mp3

Voxtrot -'Love Vigilantes (New Order cover).' mp3

Wilco -'Something In The Air (Thunderclap Newman cover).' mp3

Paul Weller -'Sexy Sadie (Beatles cover).'mp3

Jose Gonzalez -'Hand On your Heart (Kylie Minogue cover).' mp3

Postal Service -'Grow Old with Me (John Lennon cover).' mp3

Cold War Kids -'Indoor Fireworks (Elvis Costello cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Guns Of Brixton (Clash cover).' mp3

Swimmer One -'Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover).' mp3

as always, if you like what you hear, support the artists involved, and don't forget to check out the original artists too.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

*Big Sigh*

I am not a misanthropic moody sod

Randy Newman -'Short People.' mp3


Hidden Cameras -'I Believe In The Good Of Life.' mp3

Maybe I just need to get out more...

Franz Ferdinand -'Take Me Out (Naum Gaubo mix).' mp3

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Interview: Amateurs

It was a dark and stormy night in Edinburgh as I finally sat down to write up this interview. Four weeks previously, it had been a lovely warm evening in Edinburgh as I talked to Edinburgh’s The Amateurs, who had been playing on the same bill as labelmates Penny Century and the soon-to-be signed Katie Sutherland at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

Edinburgh -and I say this after six years of living here - has produced some amazing bands over the years, and yet it constantly seems to be in the shadow of Glasgow. Perhaps it’s the shortage of venues (because the small ones that are there keep getting turned into executive flats or some such non-musical happening), but it’s time that bands got a bigger shout-out.
It’s also probably fair to say that whereas Glasgow actually has a lot of people in bands who were actually born in Glasgow, Edinburgh is perhaps more one of those places people gravitate to (hey, I only came here for a week). The Amateurs are perhaps a case in point of Edinburgh-based people playing in a band together. They are:Seth Chanas ( Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Hawaiian Guitar, Ukulele, Violin, Trumpet -that’s just indecent!), his brother Simon Chanas: Electric Guitar, Damian Malone (Drums), Ina Hanisch (Bass Guitar, Violin, Acoustic Guitar, Recorder) and Sarah Weatherston (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Xylophone).

Seth grew up playing in bands and writing songs, but spent years looking for the people to help fulfil what he was looking for. So how did The Amateurs come into being?
‘ Well, that was me, wasn’t it?’ Seth says, looking to his bandmates for confirmation. ‘I’d been recording stuff on my own for a while…’ Simon cuts in: ‘Basically, Seth had been recording a lot of songs and he tried to get me into the band as a lead guitar player. I had no aspirations to being a lead guitar player.’ In fact, he was far more interested in being a musician in the Nick Drake mould but his brother was ‘writing all these songs that I wanted to play on. For about a year we said we were in a band but it didn’t really happen.’
Eventually Seth started releasing stuff through local record shops, and Simon and Ina moved through to Edinburgh.
Ah yes, Ina Hanisch. Born in Saxony, but living in Amsterdam when she made a visit to Edinburgh when she came to pay a visit to Seth’s flat-mates. Seth and Simon had interviewed a lot of bass-players (’Did you?’ says Sarah, amused, as if this is something that the brothers have kept from her!) and had been looking for bass players into Dylan. When she arrived things started to fall into place.

Although the band started as Seth’s project, he is quick to point out that ‘things are much more democratic now…I’ll come up with a basic chord structure and some lyrics, everyone else fills in and writes their own part.’ We don’t discuss influences but let’s just say that if you like your indie-pop, then you should be sampling the Amateurs after reading this interview. These songs are a welcome treat for the ears.

In 2006, the band signed to Letterbox records, who have just released their debut album Hongu Kongu. It has been sitting on the shelf for the best part of the year. It’s clearly been a rather frustrating time for them -they lost a member, keyboardist Chris Summerfield. ‘Not to suicide!‘ Sarah adds casually, he moved to Japan, and they have been trying to fill the sound for him. They recorded the album fourteen months before it was released. ‘The reward was finishing it, not releasing it.’

Easily the standout track for me is ‘The Water Of Leith Song.’ It was inspired by a news story on TV about a body that had been washed up by The Shore. It wasn’t a suicide, Seth is quick to explain, but it set it in motion. The band have also released a download only single ‘Things You Only Know If you Don’t Drive’ (posted here previously) c/w ‘Cool By Me’ both of which are on the album.

They still have day jobs, Sarah is a primary school teacher, and the brothers are doctor and librarian, while Ina and Damian are still studying. Damian describes himself as the eternal student, who’s studying art and was actually responsible for the band’s sleeves.

As to the future, Seth and Simon seem to disagree how many songs they have, but they say that they have songs they want to record. Hopefully any momentum that might have been lost will be picked up soon. They should be back from their holidays by the time you read this. And hopefully heading towards your record collection.

The Amateurs at Myspace

The Amateurs -'Cool By Me.' mp3

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

Hongu Kongu is out now on Letterbox Records and can be bought here

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Album Review: Morning Bride

Album Review: Morning Bride -'Lea Valley Delta Blues' (Letterbox Records)

Letterbox Records seem to just keep coming up with the goods, showing that you don't need to be based in London or even in the South East to be picking up on great bands. This album was released earlier this year, but having written about them, I thought I would let you know just how good the album is from Morning Bride.

Morning Bride are based in Hackney, East London. However, the spirit that runs through this album owes far more to the sounds traditionally associated with Nashville. It's a refreshing take on country that doesn't necessarily show much allegiance to East London, until the final track, a live recording of 'Mother Hackney.' Though it namechecks Grand central Station, it doesn;t forget where home is. This is the one that I find myself singing, but the three download only singles relased so far 'Time Delay' 'Replica' and 'Stepping Out In Front Of Cars' are pretty fabulous in their own right too.

This album is light on the ear but lingers pleasantly. There's no immediately evident heart of darkness here that might be on, say Sons and Daughters' records, but this is a record made on it's own terms and all the better for it. Time to turn your ears this way and hear these East London Delta Blues.


Morning Bride -'Replica.' mp3

Morning Bride -'Time Delay.' mp3

For Morning Bride's latest release from this album and to buy the album go to Letterbox Records

Gig review: King Creosote/Emma Pollock

Gig review: King Creosote/Emma Pollock

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, September 29, 2007

Well, it has been a quieter month for gigs here round at 17 Seconds Towers. After going to seven during August (not bad for someone in their thirties!). But with Emma Pollock supporting King Creosote at the Queen's Hall...I couldn't not, could I?

This was the third time I've seen Emma Pollock this year, although the first time since the release of her debut solo album. The only thing I could possibly say against her set is that it was too short. Otherwise, she seemed to be excited to be back at the Queen's Hall (I saw her with the Delgados here in 2003 and 2005) and played a storming set. Opening with 'If Silence Means That Much To You' the half a dozen songs she plays remind me just how Watch The Fireworks has become a firm favourite here at 17 seconds Towers. 'Adrenaline' with that piano riff gets me everytime, and is currently my fabvourite track of the year, for what it's worth. She finishes with 'The Optimist' and I'm gutted that she's off again so quickly. May she return to Edinburgh a.s.a.p. I do not understand how this album only debuted at 30 on the indie charts -it deserves far better.

King Creosote AKA Kenny Anderson also jokes about chart positions, chuckling at the fact that his latest album Bombshell 'peaked at 90 in the charts and is racing towards 200.' It doesn't reflect how popular he is in Scotland, to say nothing of how good he is. (Then again, when have the charts ever reflected how good and artist is? Don't even get me started on personal taste. Some things just go far deeper than that.)
He comes on solo, introducing himself as King Creosote, but it's hard to believe that a person in this sold-out gig cannot know who this man is. Joined by the band on the second song 'Nooks' it's clear just how together they are as a live act, particularly with fellow Fence Collective member Johnny Lynch AKA the Pictish Trail on guitar (and vocals to melt your heart). Indeed the harmonies and chiming guitars of Mr. Lynch should not be underestimated as to the impact on the live impact of these songs.

For it's the songs that have brought people here, even more than that voice, and the growing legend of the Fence collective and label and the self-released CD-Rs and the Fence Homegame festivals. 'Spystick' has one of the best couplets I've heard this year 'She's one of a dozen but you've seen the sight of the other eleven.' And he's got a great sense of humour that is gently self-deprecating, hugely endearing and very genuine. Strapping on an accordion for Bombshell opener he reminds us that 'the definition of a gentleman is one who can play the accordion but chooses not to.' Hell, there aren't many people that I'd say this of, but I suspect he could make an album of just voice and accordion and it would be fab.

When I first encountered KC's music, I lazily pigeonholed them as folk, but it's clear that they take those folk elements and rock with them in their own wonderful way, no more so than on KC Rules OK's 'My Favourite Girl.' Mrs. 17 Seconds hadn't been convinced when we'd seen KC on a bill with Aberfeldy and My Latest Novel, but she was well and truly won over tonight.

Fantastic on wax and live...what does it take for the rest of the world to wake up to two of Scotland's greatest?


King Creosote -'My Favourite Girl.' mp3

King Creosote -Nooks.' mp3

Emma Pollock -'Adrenaline.' mp3

Emma Pollock -'Limbs.' mp3

Monday, October 01, 2007

Review: Ringo Death Starr

Back in about February, I wrote about Ringo Death Starr:

"It's such a joy to listen to. It will annoy the hell out of some people, divide friends, cause frictions between couples. And quite possibly split ageing indie kids down the middle in the 'OK who's side are you on? 'cos you're now working for a living, stopped being veggie, and have a CD player in your car, you bloody sellout!' kinda way. That's what music should do. "

And that was on the basis of one track alone. Now, on Spoilt Victorian Child records they deliver a cracker of a five track single (or is it a mini-album by that stage?) Anyway, this takes the beautiful noise of prime period Sonic Youth and early Jesus and Mary Chain and marries it to the sounds of My Bloody Valentine and early Ride, and creates something wonderfully new in the process. Maybe the new version of 'Some Kind Of Sad' might not cheer your ears off as much as the original one did, but this is the sort of thing that we need. All five wonderful tracks to be played at maximum volume. (Hell, if you're worried about what the neighbours think, you've got suburban. And that's not a good thing.)

And if the thought of hearing these five amazing, life-affirming tunes wasn't enough, you can buy it for a paltry £2 (that's $4, no idea what it is in other currencies) from here

Ringo Death Starr -'Swirly.' mp3

Ringo Death Starr-'Some Kind Of Sad.' mp3

On you go!