Sunday, August 31, 2008

Let's forget it's a wet sunday afternoon...

...and dance to one of the few indie novelty songs.

I have next to no idea who a Tribe Of Toffs were (were they a tribe? Were they Toffs?(Is that word now really, genuinely offensive? Toff, not Tribe, obviously). I did see John Kettley and other assorted broadcasters on TV last night, on the Weakest Link, so we all started singing this.

A Tribe Of Toffs -'John Kettley (Is A Weatherman).' mp3

As one hit wonders go, a bit different, and quite fun, really...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

If I were to make a mixtape....

Are there any rules to making mixtapes or in the present day and age, CD-Rs?


I think great music, surprise, and a bit of variety should still count for something, though...

Ennio Morricone -'Theme from the Good, The bad and the Ugly (Le Bon, La Brute et Le Truand).' mp3

Hot Butter - 'Popcorn.' mp3

Toyah -'It's A Mystery.' mp3

Enjoy your weekend...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Seeing as you all kept talking about it... it is!

Future Sound Of London -'Papua New Guinea (Andrew Weatherall mix).' mp3


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ravin' I'm raving

It seems pretty stupid, given that I wasn't too young to be part of it, that I missed out on a lot of dance culture. Silly me. In fact, I probably, like many indie kids, (and I mean that in the pre-Britpop sense of the phrase) was guilty of being snobby because it didn't have guitars in it. Oh, and because I really can't dance. The mad sweaty guy headbanging at the indie disco? That was your host. Working in a record shop changed a lot for me about what I listened to, and whilst an interest in 'dance/electronica' type stuff grew steadily throughout the nineties and noughties, it was my record shop clerk days that changed much of it for me.

XL Recordings on the other hand, seem to have come at it all from another direction, having started out putting out records by the likes of the Prodigy, SL2 and Kicks Like A Mule, but nowadays make records with the likes of Adele, the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, and for a time, Badly Drawn Boy. A recent compilation, The First Chapters collects much of this together. Now, while it took me years to 'get' The Prodigy, this was a track I loved at the time.

SL2 -'On A Ragga Tip (original 12" mix).'

This track was actually a hit several times for London-based producer Brian Dougans. I remember seeing this on Top of the pops, oddly enough.

Humanoid -'Stacker Humanoid (12" original).' mp3

I also am going to have to put my hand up at this point, and confess that it was only this evening I found out that Brian Dougans is part of Future Sound Of London. Oh well, at least I'm honest. And I've posted this before, but it is glorious. And this I did like at the time.

Future Sound Of London -'Papua New Guinea (7" original).' mp3


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ooh rye ooh rye ooh rye aye!

...does there have to be a reason?

Ten Pole Tudor -'Swords Of A Thousand Men.' mp3

Monday, August 25, 2008

Presenting...Pearl and the Puppets

A year ago, you may remember that I was bigging up a Glaswegian singer-songwriter by the name of Katie Sutherland who I was absolutely blown away by, firstly after I saw her supporting Emma Pollock, and then playing with Penny Century and the Amateurs.

Anyway, she now has a publishing deal, a stage name, Pearl, and a backing band, so here they are, Pearl and the Puppets.

Now I'm normally pretty loath to write about bands I don't have mp3s for. However, so blown away by these songs am I that I'm going to suggest you head over to her mySpace. If these don't impact on you, check your pulse. There's gold in them there vocals...

Pearl and the Puppets' MySpace

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A wonderful warm sunday in August

Great weather, a picnic with both Mrs. 17 Seconds and Brother 17 Seconds, and other firends, it was a beautiful afternoon today and no mistake.

I then came home, delighted to find that my emusic subscription had been renewed which meant I could download some more stuff.

So, from my massive long list of saved for later stuff, I opted for something that I had read a glowing review of in the latest issue of The Wire which sounded fab, Double Sunrise Over Neptune by William Parker.

It's a great album that manages to defy categorisation. Is it Jazz? Is it Free Jazz? Is it 'world' music? (possibly the one definition that is even more unhelpful than indie in this day and age. I remember some South Africans dying with laughter when they saw that the record shop I was working in at the time had filed Johnny Clegg under this. It wasn't what they would have thought).

I know next to nothing about Mr. Parker, but I'm sure as heck going to investigate. This album was recorded live in New York in 2007. Normally a bass player, on this he focuses here on double reeds and dosn'ngoni, according to The Wire review. And as the review points out, the spotlight goes to classically trained indian vocalist Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay.

Am I an expert on this music? No, nor do I claim to be. But if you want something to blow your minds and open them, try this. It kinds sums up my day today.

William Parker - 'Morning Mantra.' mp3

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Presenting...Echo Bloom

Echo Bloom is the project of Kyle Evans. iTunes lists this as folk, but I think the description that arrives on the press release is, for once, actually fairly accurate.

'From the ashes of a 1920's German photo documentarian, the genius of Washington DC jazz veterans, and the sweat of a frenetic three-day recording session emerges Echo Bloom's 'Jamboree,' a series of character studies that explore and celebrate American identity in the 21st century. From Presidents to Performers, Prostitutes to Preachers, 'Jamboree' runs the stylistic gamut, weaving its tales from equal parts swamp funk, indie pop, alt-country and metal.' Maybe concept albums are ok after all...

The debut album Jamboree is a gorgeous confection of a variety of influences. On 'The Trucker,' the stand-out track for me on this album, he even manages to mix both country and reggae. (I never thought i'd hear that either).

Check this album out, for me it gets ****

Echo Bloom -'The Businessman.' mp3

Echo Bloom -'The Trucker.' mp3

There is a blog about the making of the album here

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Friday night and all I wanna do...

... is sleep.

Well, here's three fantastic tracks. It must be thirty-somethingness, that I want to play these on a Friday night rather than going mad to someting er...faster and heavier.

(I'm not that middle-aged, though, I'd rather read The Wire than many of the other music magazines more obsessed with celebrity and/or the past).

Joanna Newsom -'The Book Of Right-On.' mp3

Kristin Hersh -'Your Ghost.' mp3

The Men They Couldn't Hang -'Green Fields Of France.' mp3 (Found the 12" single of this in a record shop in Edinburgh the other week, I was ecstatic).

There will be more to come this weekend, there's a lot to review still...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Album Review: Blow Monkeys

Blow Monkeys -'Devil's Tavern' (Blow Monkey Music)

Eighteen years after they last played together, this year sees the return of The Blow Monkeys. The four members, Neville Henry, Mick Anker, Toney Kiley and their charismatic singer the legendary Dr. Robert are back together's fantastic.

With reformation albums (and you can probably ask the Verve about this), there are going to be difficulties, surely? Well, no, not here. Because whatever those flies on the wall witnessed, the end result is fantastic. The band are certainly not retreading old ground, but producing fantatsic songs that genuinely can add to their canon. There are no re-writes of 'Digging Your Scene' 'Choice?' or 'It Doesn't Have To Be This Way' but rather, songs that came together without the machines taking over, as Dr. Robert himself acknowledges happened in the eighties. He says that songs like the gorgeous 'A Momentary Fall' and the fabulous single 'Bullet Train' take them into areas they've never been before. To listen to a song like 'Wait' now reminds you of how they investigated new ground, but also that they were machine driven at the time, and they sure as heck are not now.

So is there still a 'glam jazz swing' element to their music? Well, it's there, in part, but it feels fresh because they are making something new, rather than treading new ground. And that's the best you would want from any band, especially eighteen years since their last album. They always mixed up a huge variety of influences, and that continues.

Good to have you back, guys. Don't leave it eighteen years next time.


Devil's Tavern is released on September 8 on Blow Monkey music.

The Blow Monkeys' official website/

The Blow Monkeys -'The Bullet Train (edit).' mp3

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

For the positively final time

I received another email today saying that links weren't working, which was fine...except like a lot of bloggers I remove links after two weeks because I don't actually own the rights to the music I post here (I wish).

Anyway, the tracks in question were from the debut Bang Bang Machine 12" single, The Geek EP we go.

Bang Bang Machine -'Geek Love.' mp3

Bang Bang Machine -'Flower Horse.' mp3

Bang Bang Machine -'The Fuck Machine.' mp3


It is now September 3rd and the links have therefore been removed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gig review: Future Of the Left/Fighting With Fire/Black Alley Screens

Future Of the Left/Fighting With Fire/Black Alley Screens

Captain's Rest, Glasgow, August 15

A night of three three pieces. First on the bill are Black Alley Screens who sound as loud as...and grab me pretty damn quickly. I've always thought three pieces seemed to have something, and these guys, who look almost young enough to be in my classroom, are fantastic. With songs like 'Goodbye Youth Hello Proof' I have decided by the third song that I'd sign them if I could. They are partly in the Arctic Monkeys/Libertines mould, but on their own terms.They exude the sort of cool that is effortless (either that, or they have been practising bloody hard to look that way). Considering I have never heard a note of their music before tonight I am utterly won over.

Which is more than I can say for the follow-up band, Fighting With Wire. Hailing from Derry, they have clearly been listening to At the Drive In, and trying to copy Dave Grohl's vocal style. The previous night they played with Reverend and the Makers in Belfast, who they go to great lengths to criticise. They dedicate 'Everyone Needs A Nemesis' to them. As I write the review I find I can remember precious little about the music.

There's a long wait for our headliners to come on. They will later claim that this is because drummer Jack William Egglestone was trimming his beard. This is quite believable. This Welsh three-piece, formed from the ashes of Jarcrew and McLusky released their debut album Curses last year. I can only admit to having heard it recently, but I'm glad I did. They manage the feat of cramming in loads of ideas, and yet making it fun and listenable, rather than worthy and unpalatable. It's a hot and sweaty night (yes, we do occasionally have these in Scotland), and they know how to work a crowd. There's a great sense of humour here too. When a heckler asks them to play 'Wonderwall', without missing a beat they ask for subtitles.

Whilst the slightly quirky nature of the songs means that you cannot even identify the lyrics from the booklet when you get back home, there's no denying just how exciting and just sheer fun this is. Songs like 'Fuck the Countryside Alliance'* and 'The Lord Hates A Coward' manage to be both angular and singalong. By the end of the gig, bassist Kelson has ended up in the crowd and prompted the best stage invasion I have seen since the fifteen minutes of The Others three and a hlaf years ago.

But these guys deserve to last and do so much better than Dominic masters' almost forgotten crew. There's something special brewing here. I've been playing the album loads since the gig. And even though I didn't fall into bed until well after midnight, it was worth it.

Future Of The Left are currently on tour in the UK and will tour the US this autumn. Check their webpage and their MySpace for more details.

*Too right.

Monday, August 18, 2008

That aforementioned Shins track...and another great cover...

Thanks to good ol' Gav nudging me, I thought I'd post that cover of The Postal Service's 'We Will Become Silhouettes' done by The Shins.

The Shins -'We Will Become Silhouettes.' mp3

It's a bit busy here, what with so many reviews to get up here, the record company making progress, the day job starting again this week....but be patient, all will be rewarded. why not Bonnie 'Prince' Billy doing 'Puff The Magic Dragon?'

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy -'Puff The Magic Dragon.' mp3

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Love Vigilantes Part 2 and Such Great heights

This post is due thanks to one of my readers Adam, who had promised to send me some covers in response to the one I had put up of 'Love Vigilantes' being done by Laura Cantrell. So...

first up, Voxtrot and Hungry Lucy's very different takes on 'the aforementioned 'Love Vigilantes':

Voxtrot -'Love Vigilantes.' mp3

Hungry Lucy -'Love Vigilantes.' mp3

He also sent me Jenny Lewis doing a live version of the Postal Service's 'Such Great Heights', so I will post that, and just in case no-one has heard it, Iron and Wine's take on the same song:

Jenny Lewis -'Such Great Heights.' mp3

Iron and Wine -'Such Great Heights.' mp3

Hope everyone's having a good weekend. Went to see Future Of the Left in Glasgow at the Captain's Rest on Friday night, which was very good, so a review will be here shortly.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Detective work completed!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was trying to track down something that a) Peel had played in 1995 and b) Peel had read out my request on air to see if anyone could identify it.

It had the chorus 'Wembley, Wembley, he's the famous Michael Nyman and he's going to Wembley.'

It transpires it was Cathal Coughlan of Microdisney and Fatima Mansions and comic Sean Hughes. Thanks to eyevocal and everyone else who helped me locate this.

The track was this:

Bubonique -'The Pianna.' mp3 from the long-deleted Trance Arse Volume 3.

There is a piece about their other album here and Cathal Coughlan's official site is here

The Breeders' one and only Peel session

This is actually my 600th post, and I thought I would post this, the one and only Peel session by The Breeders.

The Breeders have been described as one of the most promising and frustrating bands to emerge in the last twenty years. They have prodcued some excellent stuff, but for what started as a 'Supergroup' (in the seventies sense of the word, where a band was formed out of a lot of people who were already in bands as a side project, see Crosby Stiils Nash & Young etc..) they soon started to become the main concern. However, in the time they have been around, they have produced four LPs.

When Kim Deal, then the bassist in the Pixies, got together with Tanya Donnelly, then in Throwing Muses, both must have been feeling that they were playing second fiddle in their own bands and that they also had a lot to offer the world.They did. The first album, Pod, was made in Edinburgh at Palladium Studios, and engineered by Steve Albini. This may be heresy in the blogger world (but I've already faced excommunication by some for not putting the Arcade Fire as my favourite band of all time, so what the hell), but Pod is actually my favourite of the four albums. This is the time that produced the only session they would record for John Peel, though the only song that made the Festive fifty, perhaps predictably, was 'Cannonball.'

They recorded one Peel session for John Peel, in January 1990, which was broadcast the following month. All four tracks were written by Kim Deal

Breeders -'Fortunately Gone (Peel session).' mp3

Breeders -'Hellbound (Peel session).' mp3

Breeders -'Iris (Peel session).' mp3

Breeders -'When I Was A Painter (Peel session).' mp3

This lineup would change over time, Tanya Donnelly would leave both Throwing Muses and The Breeders, first two produce two albums as frontwoman of Belly, and then go solo; Kim Deal was joined by her sister Kelley later on, though they had other projects as well, including The Amps, The Kelley Deal 6000...a whole heap of other stories.

Maybe you should try here...
The Breeders' website/The Breeders' MySpace/An unofficial but utterly brilliant Breeders' page

Monday, August 11, 2008

Album Review: Cave Singers

The Cave Singers - 'Invitation Songs' (Matador)

OK, so it was released last year in the US, came out here earlier this year in Britain, but of the 100+ albums I have heard this year* the Cave Singers' debut is an astounding record that is in the top ten this year.

The band is Pete Quirk on vocals, guitar, melodica and harmonica; Derek Fudesco on guitar and bass pedals and Marty Lund on drums and guitar. In previous musical lives, Quirk was in Seattle post-punk group Hint Hint, Lund was in Cobra High, and Fudesco was the bass player for Pretty Girls Make Graves and legendary Murder City Devils. All these previous bands would suggest a sortof 'alt-rock/punk' sort of record, so why is that folk seems to be the thing here?

That's not a bad thing, in fact it's their approach to this music that makes this album such a refreshing and exciting record and one that I keep playing. Even as a blogger, I now get sent a fair amount of music and there's a lot that perhaps only gets played once** but this album has been played frequently and belongs permanently on my iPod. The reference points here might be American roots music, be it proper country or blues, and the folk that comes from that part of the world. At times the music is almost hypnotic and mantra-like, at other times the sort of ininhibited dance music that, like the early work of Michelle Shocked is roots music that makes you want to dance.

From the opener 'Seeds Of Night' and including single 'Dancing On Our Graves', right up to album closer 'Called' this album continues to surprise and delight. Once heard, I bet it will haunt your brain forever.

Even if you think you don't listen to 'this sort of music' I have to issue this challenge: if you've glossed over certain types of music I've written about on here, give this a listen. You will be surprised, pleasantly taken aback, and hopefully you might even go and buy it. With this, Jaguar Love and Shearwater, Matador Records are setting the standard for 2008.


Invitation Songs is out now on Matador

Cave Singers -'Seeds Of Night.' mp3

* I get sent a lot of these. Do you honestly think I could afford to buy that many new albums in one year?!

** There is one of me. This is not a full-time job, I do it for love in my free time.

Isaac Hayes: A Tribute

17 Seconds is deeply sorry to hear of the death of Isaac Hayes at 65. He was famous as a musician, actor and humanitarian. He laid much of the pioneering groundwork for music, and his influence can be felt on Soul, Funk, Disco, Hip-Hop and House.

Born on August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee, he was raised by his grandparents after the early death of his parents. In the sixties he worked for Stax Records as a as a session player and songwriter. Amongst the songs he wrote included 'Soul Man' and 'Hold On I'm Coming' for Sam and Dave.

In the late 1960s he became a solo artist in his own right, and his second album Hot Buttered Soul is rightly considered a landmark soul album. Maybe it should just be considered a landmark album full stop. It's only four tracks long, and yet over the course of forty five minutes sets the bar for music impossibly high. It contains two covers of well-known songs 'Walk On By' and 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' transported from three minute pop songs into soul work outs. 'Walk On By' is over nine minutes long; 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' just under nineteen and starts with a eight minute monologue. Much sampled and lauded, this album is up there with other soul land mark albums; think Stevie Wonder's Music Of My Mind, Talking Book and Innevrvisions and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Let's Get It On.

In 1971, Hayes released his best known work, Shaft, the theme music to the Blaxploitation film of the same name. The title track was a US no.1 and a no.4 single in Britain. He won an Oscar for Best Original Song for the "Theme from Shaft," and was he was also nominated for Best Original Dramatic Score for the film's score.

It wasn't all plain sailing; both Stax and Hayes would have financial problems in te mid-seventies, with hayes filing for bankruptacy in 1976. He was a survivor though, and continued to release music, as well as acting in both film and TV. Having appeared as a barman in the film of Shaft, he would appear in The A-Team and Miami Vice, and numerous films including Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Johnny Mnemonic.

In the last decade, he gained a new generation of fans by voicing Chef in the controversail but funny series South Park. Chef's song 'Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You') was a no.1 hit in the UK and Ireland. Chef was a love machine par excellence and one of the few level headed people on the show. His surname was McElroy, and according to the Wikipedia entry, his parents live in Edinburgh, Scotland, home of 17 Seconds. However, hayes quit the show, feeling that it had crossed the line from satire into bigotry in an episode entitled Trapped In the Closet which mocked scientology, his adopted religion.

In 2006, he suffered a stroke. Yesterday Police said that he had died at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. Police were called to his home after his wife found him unconscious. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1408 (1908 GMT). He leaves behind a wife and twelve children.

Isaac Hayes -'Theme From Shaft.' mp3

Isaac Hayes -'Soulville.' mp3

Links you may wish to investigate:

Isaac Hayes' official website

Isaac Hayes' entry at the Internet Movie Database

Isaac Hayes on Wikipedia (this has been updated in the last twenty-four hours)

BBC obituary

NME Obituary

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Alex Taylor (and related)

Tonight's post is courtesy of not one but two 17 Seconds readers. Bernd, thank you for supplying the picture above of Alex Taylor and the cover of motorcycle Boy doing the Velvet underground's Run Run Run' and the Shop Assistants doing 'Respectable' and yet again, Tom, for supplying the two tracks by One Note Jam. Unless anyone has any info to the contrary, this was the very final record she made, in early 1991, as One Note Jam, who Motorcycle Boy became, split after this, in 1992. I would love to knwo what she's up to know. In fact, if Motorcycle Boy and/or The Shop Assistants were to reform, I would be one very happy person...

One Note Jam -'Warp Eight In Electroglide (Only You).' mp3

One Note Jam -'Warp Nine In Electroglide (Only You).' mp3

Motorcycle Boy -'Run Run Run.' mp3 (Velvet Underground cover).' mp3

As a bonus, the very final Shop Assistants track, recorded long after Alex Taylor left, their cover from 1990 of the Rolling Stones' 'Respectable.'

Shop Assistants -'Respectable.' mp3

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A crazy idea...and another thing

Well, finally I have done a 17 Seconds MySpace.

If you want to be my friend on it, the link is right here.

And it also explains a crazy idea I've had today, and am developing with my friend Laurent.

Will it get anywhere? Another crazy idea -or something that's the next natural step?

Only time will tell...

...But you won't have a clue what I'm on about, unless you investigate, will you?

The Fall -'Edinburgh Man.' mp3

Great scottish bands #4: Motorcycle Boy

For the second post in a row, I am completely indebted to Tom over at Indie mp3 for providing me with the mp3s to make this post.

Motorcycle Boy came together of members of Meat Whiplash and Alex Taylor, lead singer of The Shop Assistants, a band I have banged on about repeatedly on here. The line-up of Motorcycle Boy was:

Alex Taylor (vocals), Michael Kerr (guitar), Eddy Connoly (bass) Paul McDermott (drums) and David 'Scottie' Scott (guitar). Their first single was released by Rough Trade, then they signed to Chrysalis. They recorded one John Peel session and that year their debut single 'Big rock Candy Mountain' reached no.22 in the annual Festive Fifty conducted by listeners to John Peel's show. None of their singles charted in the UK, and were not released in the US. Their only album was shelved...but I remain convinced that Motorcycle Boy are one of the great scottish bands, and a proper re-issue programme should be set in place.

The singles were as follows:

'Big Rock Candy Mountain' 12" single

1.'Big Rock Candy Mountain (Velocity Dance Mix).' mp3
2.'Room At The Top.' mp3
3.'His Latest Flame.' mp3
4.'Big Rock Candy Mountain (7" mix).' mp3

'Trying To Be Kind' 12" single

1. 'Trying To Be Kind (extended mix).' mp3
2. 'World Falls Into Place.' mp3
3. 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow.' mp3
4. 'Trying To Be Kind (1000cc version).' mp3

'You And Me Against The World.' 12" single
1. 'You And Me Against the World.' mp3
2. 'Under The Bridge.' mp3
3. 'Some Girls.' mp3
4. 'You And Me Against the World. (extended mix).' mp3

(Note: the last two singles were due to be on the band's album, Scarlet, which never appeared.)

'The Road Goes On Forever.' 12" single

1. 'Starlight.' mp3
2. 'Starlight (Paradise a go-go mix).' mp3
3. 'The Road Goes On Forever (Overdrive Karma mix).' mp3
4. 'Salvation.' mp3
5. 'The Road Goes On Forever.' mp3

'Here She Comes' 12" single

1. 'Here She Comes.' mp3
2. 'Everything I See.' mp3
3. 'The Road Goes On Forever (live).' mp3

After this, the band added 'Fitzpatrick' became One Note Jam, who issued a further 12" single and then the band split. Alex became a real shop assistant, working for the Virgin Megastore in London.

BONUS: Taken from the cd86 compilation (well-worth your hard-earned cash, IMHO) , this is Meat Whiplash's single 'Don't Slip Up.'

Meat Whiplash -'Don't Slip Up.' mp3

If you want more info on scottish bands, Jocknroll is THE place to start.

Finally, if anyone has the Shop Assistants or Motorcycle Boy Peel sessions, could they get in touch, please?

Friday, August 08, 2008

More Shop Assistants

The Shop Assistants do seem to generate a lot of interest when I post them here, as indeed they should.

I took a friend round Edinburgh today for record shopping, and he bought both the Shop Assistants 12" singles I posted at the end of last week (see! Blogs help people buy music, not prevent it). Then I got home to discover that Tom who writes this fantastic Shop Assistants page that is essential if you're at all into the band had sent me both tracks from the flexi disc that came with the Box Set of the 'Here It Comes' single.

Despite my best efforts, I have yet to get my hands on this (that's a heavy hint to those nice people at a certain record shop in Edinburgh) but I post it here courtesy of Tom. Thank you, kind sir.

Shop Assistants -'You Trip Me Up.' mp3 (yes, the Jesus and Mary Chain track)

Shop Assistants -'The Other One (live).' mp3 (Not aware of this in any other form).

Oh, does anyone have the song 'Respectable' the stones song that they covered? Please?!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Love Vigilantes

John Peel with Laura Cantrell, one of his favourite people

Sometimes, there are some cover versions that completely revisit the original to such an extent it completely rewrites the song almost.

One of those is 'Love Vigilantes' by New Order, originally on their Lowlife album, and covered this year by Laura Cantrell on her latest album Trains And Boats And Planes. Eighties electro-indie goes new country? Don't knock it 'til you've heard it...

New Order -'Love Vigilantes.' mp3

Laura Cantrell -'Love Vigilantes.' mp3

...and don't forget to let me know what you think.

Album Review: Jaguar Love

Jaguar Love -'Take me To The Sea.' (Matador)

Jaguar Love are the three piece formed from the ashes of two of Alternative music's favourites early noughties favourites, Blood Brothers and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Whilst there are echoes of those bands, this is something new on its' own, which should see them win plenty of new fans. This album has been played several times since Matador sent it to me, and like all the best albums, each time I play it, I hear something new.

Initially, it sounds like a very exciting noise, perhaps like the Mars Volta (themselves formed from the ashes of a much-loved earlier band) but easier to get into. But with every play, forty minutes worth of music becomes more thrilling, more exciting, more infectious and more necessary.

Songs like 'Bats Over The Pacific Ocean' and the first single 'Highways Of Gold' draw you in. It's not dance music, but it makes you want to dance. And there's an interesting hint of...bloody hell, it's GLAM ROCK! Not the 80s Sunset/LA metal variety, but the 70s Real mcCoy, as pioneered by Marc Bolan, whose influence is all over this album.

Jaguar Love have been touring with Queens Of the Stone Age in America this year. But while they seem to have gone off the boil, to these ears at least, this trio from Portland, Oregon sound like an unstoppable force. Expect to see this clear up in those end of year polls.


Take Me To The Sea is relased by Matador on August 18.

Jaguar Love -'Bats Over The Pacific Ocean.' mp3

Jaguar Love -'Highways Of Gold (single edit).' mp3

Jaguar Love at Matador Records/ Jaguar Love's MySpace page

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Album Review: Yazoo

Yazoo -'In Your Room.' (Mute)

1982, Britain. Bloody hell. Despite the fact that the country was politically in a horrendous place, going to war (in part of the world that Britain had forgotten about until it suited the ruling Conservative party to go to war over it and cover up just how despised leader Margaret Thatcher had been at that point), an opposition party that was shooting itself in the foot, the Cold War still stretching on, America no better either... at least Britain had something exciting going on musically. I was only five for much of it, so I cannot claim to have been doing much to help politically (It would all have been bloody different, I'm telling ya!) but I still feel, over quarter of a century later that I would have loved to have been involved in the music of the time.

Punk had long gone back underground, post-punk was starting to wither on the vine (but it had been a few glorious years), the Independent music scene was blossoming, and 'pop' music was actually seen as something to aspire to. People like the Associates, The Human League -and their offshoot, Heaven 17, Orange Juice, Scritti Politti were some of those who had come out of the post-punk scene, but were showing that 'pop' could be something intelligent and stylish. From Basildon in Essex, four boys in a band called Depeche Mode had been signed to Daniel Miller's Mute label (one of the great independent labels, which would remain so, until this decade). One of them, a keyboardist called Vince Clarke, was mostly responsible for writing Mode's debut LP Speak and Spell.

Within a very short space of time, Vince wasn't happy in the Mode and went off on his own, slightly miffed that the rest of the band were not interested in a tune he'd written called 'Only You.' He teamed up with a girl he'd known for a long time in Basildon called Alison Moyet...and for fifteen months and two LPs, they were Yazoo. (Yaz in America).

The first of those two albums, Upstairs at Eric's, is the first disc of this three CD and one DVD box set. It has dated amazingly well, and this is due, surely, not just to the fact that it has been remastered, but the fact that this was truly amazing and groundbreaking pop music. Also, to the fact that opposites attract. Alison Moyet had advertised for a blues band in Melody Maker, and ended up getting together in a duo with the boy she'd known from music school. vince was a boffin, who knew his keyboards, even if he couldn't play piano. It didn't matter, Alison could. The cover, with its' mannequins looks stylish still, an aesthetic reminder that for a time being indie and pop was not oxymoronic.

Did I mention the songs? 'Only You' and 'Don't Go' made both the Top Ten and John Peel's Festive Fifty, securing them several appearances on Top Of The Pops. (All of the seven appearances they made on that legendary institution are included on the DVD). But there's so much more than just the singles. Songs like 'Winter Kills' which like Japan's 'Ghosts' is goth just before goth started to happen, and 'Goodbye 70s' which could have been a single. Then there's the utter insaneness of 'I before E Except After C' which could give the Aphex Twin a few lessons in weird electronica and 'In Your Room' which still startles. The best way that music can keep changing is to get startling music into the mainstream. This was the year that Japan's 'Ghosts' became their biggest hit. Is it just possible that the charts were more open to innovation back then?

After an inbetween albums single 'The Other Side Of Love' Vince and Alison set to work on their sophomore and final LP, You And Me Both. Separately. As they say in their interviews on the DVD, they weren't communicating properly, and they'd parted company by the time the album was in the shops. The fighting dalmations shot on the front of the LP sums up the situation in the band at the time. A shame, because whilst it's not quite as startling as ...Eric's, it's still a sound reminder of how good the songs were, and what made the partnership special. The opening track 'Nobody's Diary' was another huge hit, and tracks like 'Anyone' and 'And On' as heartrending a ballad as anything on the first album.

As well as the two remastered albums, the box set includes a third CD of remixes (twelve tracks, of which five are 'Situation' the b-side that became a club hit in America and a chart in hit the UK in 1990) and a DVD. The DVD features a documentary with contributions from both Vince and Alison, Andy Bell, Mute label boss Daniel Miller and (somewhat inevitably) Paul Morley. It's illuminating, watchable and well put together. It also features all the videos they ever made, and all their BBC TV appearances. For a band who were only together for fifteen months, they appeared on Top Of the Pops seven times. No mean feat.

As to what happened afterwards, Alison took that voice and had a very successful solo career. Vince formed the Assembly, who had a one-off hit with the Feargal Sharkey-voiced 'Never Never,' before forming Erasure with Andy Bell. And people still kept comparing Andy Bell to Alison for many years after. Now Yazoo have reformed for live dates, but what's impressive is that they are not on the chicken in a bsket circuit, but playing huge venues both in Europe and the US. They are recognised as pioneers, not as musicians desperate for a comeback at any price, and that's exactly how it should be.

It's worth bearing in mind also that Upstairs At Eric's predates New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies and The Cure's singles like 'Let's Go To Bed' and 'The Walk.' And also that Goldfrapp are signed to Mute. And that you can hear so much of the sound that Yazoo pioneered in so many places in 2008, LCD Soundsystem, Hercules and Love Affair, MGMT...

I was genuinely excited when Mute sent me this box set to review. But on the quality of these discs, I would have happily bought it. If you love dance or electronic music, hear the roots of it here. On the evidence of this, Yazoo were amongst the people who blazed the trail for many who followed.


These remixes appear on Yazoo's official page. You need to hear them.

Yazoo - ' I before E Except After C (2 3 remix by Subway Collective).' mp3

Yazoo -'Nobody's Diary (Origin Of Essex remix).' mp3

Yazoo -'Ode To Boy (Ama das shadow remix).' mp3

Yazoo -'Winter Kills (Electronic Periodics dub mix).' mp3

Yazoo's official website (loads more music here)/Yazoo mySpace/more links here


The five-piece above are America's Woven. They are responsible for making some seriously weird and wondeful stuff that seems to be getting press and bloggers alike frothing with excitement. This is down to the heady mix of electronics and rock which has been getting excited comparisons to those who have gone before. They have been described as Massive Attack and Squarepusher writing pop songs, and similarities with shoegazing and trip-hop. More than one review has mentioned it in tones of awe and compared their forthcoming album with that alternative highlight, Radiohead's Kid A.

Woven were previously signed with Interscope, but are now going it alone. In this day and age this seems to be the way forward for many artists who realise this is the way to get control over their music and how the public perceive it. Contrary to perhaps how the men with chequebooks perceive it, there was music before there was a music industry, and there will continue to be once the industry has eaten itself.

To compare forthcoming album Designer Codes with Kid A may seem a bold, even brash move, but there's something in it. The band include Bjork, Aphex Twin, Pink Floyd, Jane’s Addiction and The Deftones amongst their influences and
have played with artists as diverse as Pretty Girls Make Graves, They Might Be Giants and Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon.

I'm not yet able to find out who this album is out through in the UK, but this is albumwell worth investigating. It is reportedly out 'everywhere' on August 26.

Woven -'Prickly Pear.' mp3

Woven -'She Blows My Amplifier.' mp3

Woven official website/Woven MySpace

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Great scottish bands #3: Belle and Sebastian

A third great scottish band (there is no order to this, neither alphabetical nor greatness, just how highly I rate them).

Belle and Sebastian first entered my world in 1996 when a friend at university leant me their second album If You're Feeling Sinister. Their debut, Tigermilk, had already been released earlier that year and was already as rare as hens' teeth. One of my proudest claims to fame is going round to one of the band's flats for a cup of herbal tea, and actualy managing to play it cool. One of my more embarassing moments was drunkenly yelling at one member of the band in a pub in Glasgow two years later: ' 'ere, that track ['Stay Loose,' off Dear Catastrophe Waitress], are you taking the piss out of Elvis Costello or what?!?!' (Just for the record, I no longer drink). It would be an exaggeration to say that they were one of the reasons moved to Scotland in 2001, but not that much.

Anyway, there's lots of Belle and Sebastian that I could point to as to why they are one of the great scottish bands, but as I was asked to re-post the two belle and Sebastian sessions I posted earlier this year, why not these?

From May 11, 2001:

'Shoot The Sexual Athlete.'mp3
'The Magic Of A Kind Word (For Papa John).' mp3
'Nothing In The Silence.' mp3
'(My Girl's Got) Miraculous Technique.' mp3

And from July 25, 2002 (Live at Peel Acres):

'You Don't Send Me.' mp3
'Roy Walker.' mp3
'Love On The March.' mp3
'Sleep On A Sunbeam.' mp3
'Desperation Made A Fool Of Me.' mp3

Belle and Sebastian's official sites are here

Their MySpace is here

Thanks to all those who sent me the mp3s originally, especially David and Ray.

Abba - a shameless attempt to drive up traffic

This post is born out of a few things I suppose.

Firstly, last week Mrs. 17 Seconds and I and our good friend 'Diamond' Dave went to see Mamma Mia! at the cinema. Resistance, as even Philip French of the Observer had warned, was inded futile. It was fun. Sure it wasn't Citizen Kane or Withnail and I, they'd crowbarred songs in at every opportunity and I can sing far better than Pierce Brosnan, but it was a laugh. Diamond and I were the only blokes in a very packed cinema. Say what you like about stereotypes, pigeonholes and generalisations, but remember that they may well be born out of demographics.

I mentioned this to two friends I met up with in Edinburgh yesterday, one of whom is a massive fan. I asked what he thought of Mamma Mia!, to which he replied that he didn't think there'd been many good cover versions of Abba songs over the years and couldn't face it. I know they have been massacred at way too many karaoke bars over the years, but there have been a few. I've selected two, one by Ash and Scotland's very own Camera Obscura, and two great Abba songs: one which is in the film 'The Winner Takes It All' my favourite Abba song, and 'The Visitors.' 'The Visitors' was the title track of what would be their final studio LP, and deals with the treatment of dissidents in the then Soviet Union.

If there are any people sad enough to worry about liking Abba, I would make these points:
1. John Peel narrated a documentary and was a fan.
2. So was Kurt Cobain, who agreed to play Reading in 1992 because Bjorn Again were, and recorded Nevermind in a studios because it was a seventies sort of studio that Abba would have used.
3. 'The Winner Takes It All' and quite a few other songs are just as sad as Joy Division.
4. they were brilliant. period. Sod the claims about camp, kitsch blah blah sodding blah, they made great music. Like Sonic Youth, the Clash, Public Enemy etc..

Abba -'The Winner Takes It All.' mp3

Abba -'The Visitors.' mp3

And those covers...

Camera Obscura -'Super Trouper.' mp3

Ash -'Does your Mother Know? (session).' mp3

Monday, August 04, 2008

Presenting...Fleet Foxes

Ever felt that you just had to find out about a band, even though uyou had never heard a note of their music? Yes? No? NO?!?! Well, I was kind of intrigued by Fleet Foxes, on the grounds that a) the cover of their full-length, self-titled debut LP looks like a Brueghel/Flemish picture (cue smug reader telling me that, actually blah blah whatever) b) they are signed to Bella Union in the UK and Sub Pop in the US, which is kinda like having your cake and eating it. Not to mention the fact that they come from Seattle.

So God bless emusic, last night I downloaded both their debut LP and the five track EP Sun Giant...dammit, they are good. I have now realised that Americana is not just shorthand for people who like Country music but hate Billy Ray Cyrus, this is music that actually blends in so much American sounding music, and it sounds rootsy, real, some of it's acapella and there's a nice bit of a baroque feel as well. They say they grew up listening to the music of their parents...and it's produced something that sounds excellent.

Give these tracks a listen, and please let me know what you think.

Fleet Foxes -'Sun Giant.' mp3

Fleet Foxes -'Sun It Rises.' mp3

Fleet Foxes on Wikipedia

Oh, go on, linked to the Sub Pop page, here is another Fleet Foxes track 'White Winter Hymnal:

Fleet Foxes -'White Winter Hymnal.' mp3

Fleet Foxes on Myspace

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Album Review: The Bug

The Bug -'London Zoo.' (Ninja Tune)

In 2008, as the post-punk revival starts to retreat, it's good to note that the really exciting music being made in the UK is starting to have an impact on the general public and not just a few people with their fingers on the pulse. Whilst certain snooty types will sneer, there's a sense that dubstep and grime is impacting on the general public, what with Wylie having a no.2 single in the proper 'charts,' Dizzee Rascal spending a month at no.1 and Burial is currently favourite to win the Mercury Music prize. Anyone who makes allegations about sell-outs or what have you should keep themselves quiet or go off and invent the next underground thing to feel smug and superior about.

Though this album from London based producer Kevin Martin has not yet set the mainstream alight, I live and hope that it does. The Bug's latest album mixes hip-hop, techno, grime and dubstep to make one of the most astounding albums I've heard all year. This is the sort of album that grabs you by the throat, holds you up against the wall and cannot possibly be ignored. Featuring contributions from the likes of Tippa Irie, Warrior Queen and Ricky Ranking, this album has everything in spades. Anger, love, amazing sounds, all there. Opener 'Angry' does what it says on the tin. In many ways the sheer rage contained within Tipper Irie's delivery rolls the rage and passion of The Clash, Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine, and knocks them all dead. And that's just the opening track.

I hadn't heard The Bug before this record, though I had heard the three contributors mentioned. On one level, the album succeeds because it makes you want to investigate the entire back catalogue not just of Kevin Martin but all the contributors to the record. On another you want everyone else to hear it (I want to get better speakers for my car, for starters). And perhaps best of all, you reel from it when you finish listening to it, and go back and play it again and again, just to to take in the sheer mixture of work woven in here like some reggae family tree cum tapestry.

A very serious contender for album of the year.


The Bug featuring Tipper Irie -'Angry.' mp3

The Bug featuring Warrior Queen -'Insane.' mp3

The Bug's MySpace

The Bug on Wikipedia

Great scottish bands #2: Shop Assistants

Yes, it has been at least a month since I had a Shop Assistants fest here. I've long written about my love for this excellent scottish band on 17 Seconds, and for this post I am actually going to focus on the last two singles the band put out.

Having issued four singles between 1983 and 1986, and an album, The Shop Assistants (also known as Will Anything Happen) in 1986. The band then split or went on hiatus when singer Alex Taylor went off to form Motorcycle Boy with members of Meat Whiplash. In 1989 the Shop Assistants reformed/were reactivated and produced two more singles 'Here It Comes' and Big 'E' Power.' the line up was now:

Sarah Neale - vocals (previously the bassist), Laura McPhail on bass (previously the drummer), David Keegan (always the guitarist) and Margarita Vasquez-Ponte of Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes on drums. In 1990 David Keegan joined the Pastels full time and the band split for good. The two singles were released on the Avalanche label, set up by Andrew Tully from Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes.

Here It Comes 12" EP:

Shop Assistants - 'Here It Comes.' mp3

Shop Assistants - 'Too Much Adrenalin.' mp3 (really, only one E. No gags intended).

Shop Assistants - 'I'd Rather Be With You.' mp3

Shop Assistants - 'Look Out.' mp3

Big E Power 12" EP

Shop Assistants - 'Big E Power.' mp3

Shop Assistants - 'She said.' mp3 (A cover of the Beatles song from Revolver)

Shop Assistants - 'One More Time.' mp3

Shop Assistants - 'Big E Power (live in Manchester).' mp3 (the label bears the credit 'Vinnie Drums, Big Flares mix.' No ideas -any help out there?!)

I have said it before, I'll say it again: read Tom's pages on the Shop Assistants here. There is also due to be a compilation of Shop Assistants' stuff released later this year.

This link will take you to Avalanche records' ebay site where you can buy many of the records mentioned here.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Album Review: Geoff Soule

Geoff Soule -'A Dialogue Between Feminine Wisdom And Masculine Uncertainty.' (Supermegacorporation)

Geoff Soule, the (probably)self-proclaimed CEO of Supermegacorporation is best known as a member of San Francisco pop-darlings Fuck (follow the link if you don't want to google the band). Surprisingly, I once heard the band on the radio. Unsurprisingly, it was on John Peel.

This album is lo-fi in extremis, and all the better for it. Like many of the best albums, it grows on you. On the first play, this minimalist, improv-featuring record is hard to get into. I thought this was heading for a rather blunt review. But on repeated plays (I played this three times in one day), I became so intrigued that it started to make sense, and reveal it's secrets. This is a rather beautiful album that pulls you in bit by bit. Titles like 'Improv no.9' and 'A dirge' may seem guaranteed to put off people - more fool them. Minimalism and Improv may scare some people, but - and I mean this as a compliment, this is a really god place to start for people who want to investigate more adventurous recordings out there. This writing from the website sums it up:

" A Wild Man has clambered down out of the Swiss alps and made his way across the Italian border. He is without language. Something formless wandering over the structures of civilization. A living breathing phantom. The various conversations, musics and babblings he hears stick to him as metal shavings to a magnet. He hops a cargo ship to Mexico and hides out in broad, bright daylight. He forms alliances, follows trade routes, makes observances. Late nights as he nods off there is the mental jibberjaw taking place between the measured and the unknown. This record was made to fall asleep to."

Will this storm the charts? As it's released in a limited edition of 500, probably not in the UK. But this serves as a reminder that below the radar is where the most adventurous, genuinely alternative and most rewarding music is being made.


Try these for size:

Geoff Soule - 'Jolly Times.' mp3

Geoff Soule - 'San Diego Winter.' mp3

A Dialogue Between Feminine Wisdom And Masculine Uncertainty is released on August 18 on Supermegacorporation. It is also available now on iTunes.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Album Review: Unbunny

Unbunny -'Snow Tires' (Affairs Of The Heart)

Snow Tires is Unbunny's fifth album. It was originally rleased in 2004, but only now gets its' European issue, through German label Affairs Of The Heart with two extra tracks from a long-ago deleted EP.

As their press release acknowledges, Unbunny flies under the radar, but there is definitely an audience out there for this band. (As to whether the people who ultimately make the decisions about what most of us get to hear or buy will concur may remain to be seen.) It's rightly described as being music that waits in a corner for people who need it to find it. It is utterly fragile music, some have mentioned Elliott Smith, but to these ears it's more reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian in the early days, yet more heartbreaking. Comparisons with Neil Young on Harvest are perhaps closest to the mark. This isn't indie music of the stadium filling variety nor the jangling variety, it's the whisper who dares variety.

Jarid del Deo writes from the heart and and is unquestionably articulate. Some will pigeonhole this under 'fey' or 'twee' but it's beautiful on its' own terms. It's perhaps unlikely to convert people who don't like this sort of music, but for those who do, a treat is in store.


Unbunny -'I Leave Stones Unturned.' mp3

Unbunny -'Pink Lemonade.' mp3

Snow Tires is released on Affairs Of the Heart on September 1.

Unbunny's mySpace

Album Review: Darren Hayman

Darren Hayman -'Great British Holiday EPs' (Belka Records)

There are some people out there who have a funny habit of making you feel like you're not working hard enough. Darren Hayman is one of those people. So far in 2008, as well as lots of live gigs with many projects (look, check hefnet alright, 'cos there are only so many hours in the day), he has this year re-issued Hefner's second album Fidelity Wars, issued the second album as Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern, entitled Pram Town, played bass as part of the east London bluegrass band that is Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee and their self-titled debut, and has now released this.

Hell, the man even works on holiday - and that's what this release is about. Between 2005 and 2007 he released four very limited blnk-or-you'll-miss'em EPs which detail his British holidays. So this re-issue ties together the 16 songs that were released across the Caravan Songs EP, Songs From the North Devon Coast EP, Eastbourne Lights EP and the Minehead EP, as well as three bonus tracks of holiday related covers, a previously unreleased song, and a bonus DVD.

It is perhaps best to approach this album in four parts, because it is sequenced chronologically in order of release and not as an album. Frustratingly, I find that I like the three covers best ('Margate' by Chas and Dave, V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N. by Connie Francis and Lyndsey Buckingham's 'Holiday Road.') and the final EP, Minehead. The EPs are very much vignettes, sketches, call them what you will, but I find them extremely sketchy. Not as much as say, Damon Albarn's Democrazy, but still rather undeveloped. Of course I wasn't expecting something with the polish of, say, The Neptunes, but this feels like a sidetrack, rather than a soundtrack.

Don't get me wrong, in the ten years since I first heard Hefner's brilliant debut LP Breaking God's Heart, I've rated Darren Hayman as a songwriter and lyricist, and that won't change; I'll always want to know what he's up to. But this album is very much one for the completists.


Darren Hayman -'Holiday Road.' mp3

Darren Hayman -'Victim Song.' mp3

There is a mini-site devoted to this release over here, which is part of
Hefner and Darren Hayman's official website. More mp3s and videos over here.

Great British Holiday EPs is rleased by Belka Records via Cargo on August 4.