Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallowe'en type post

There are lots of things that scare me. The thought of John McCain and Sarah Palin winning the American Election. Things happening to the people I care about. Disaffected kids that I teach failing their exams in my subject. Carrie, The Shining and the original version of The Ring (the Japanese version, not the flaming remake).The existence of scary Californian copyright law (which has seen me lose another post; this time after I was sent the mp3 from their UK company, and the US company freaked out before checking with the UK. Talk about Cultural Fascism).

This song is gothic not just in sound, but in lyrics, with its' talk of forests, mandrakes and one of my favourite lyrics ever 'Your epitaph will ever say/your sun went down while it's still day.' Not planning on dying before I hit forty (I'm not a teenager anymore *tongue in check for any readers too stupid to understand irony*) but who are the Screaming Marionettes. I spent years trying to track this down; eventually found it (surprise, surprise) at Kensington Market in London, then London's premier goth hangout. I can find next to nothing about this band on the web, any info gratefully received etc..

UPDATE 2/11/08: I have found this web address for info about the band, who went on to become the Marionettes (not the indie band from Aberdeen). This is a fan's myspace site.

Screaming Marionettes -'Like Christobel.' mp3

And this is perhaps one of the scariest tracks ever, it attacks the listener, which is pretty cool.

Wolf Eyes -'Stabbed In The Face.' mp3

And 'cos it's Hallowe'en, the best horror pop song/short film of all time:

Michael Jackson's Thriller Video

(yes, 80s Goth, Noise and Michael Jackson in the same post. That'll teach ya to pigeonhole)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hooray - finally getting the recognition they deserve's like the eighties and the (early) nineties all over again. After a gap of about fifteen years, The Cure are back on the cover of NME! And they're going to get the Godlike Geniuses Award from the NME next year. It seems like a far cry from the days when the NME was either slagging them for being hasbeens or not writing about them at all...hopefully Echo and the Bunnymen will get their due next (perhaps to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Ocean Rain)

Their new album 4:13 Dream is fantastic, definitely a four an a half star album, IMHO.

And assuming this works, this will enable you to check out some of the tracks off the new album.

Enjoy, folks...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guilty Pleasures from the closet

Everyone has them, the songs we're not meant to like, the songs that Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious et al died so that we wouldn't have to listen to.

And quite often they may be made by people whose work we cannot otherwise stand.

This track is a case in point. I am very happy never to have to hear 'Everything I do, I Do It For You' by Bryan Adams ever again.

So why is it, that this track, which I should despise beyond all measure, almost as muchas anything by his compatriots Celine Dion and Nickleback * involuntary shudder* is great?

Bryan Adams -'Summer Of '69.' mp3

(I know, other bloggers have laid down all manner of defences of me, and I repay them by posting this.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank the Lord

(Bet Che wouldn't have taken any crap from people purporting to represent artists and exploiting folk!)

A couple of days ago, I was deeply concerend when Steve at Teenage Kicks was going to pull the plug on his excellent John Peel-inspired blog.

To my intense relief, he has announced he will continue.

So in honour of Steve, and his immaculately researched blog, this is the Undertones' Teenage Kicks, (yes, John Peel's favourite ever song, I think we all know that now!)

This is not a long post from me, I've spent an hour and a half marking...

Undertones - 'Teenage Kicks.' mp3

By the way, this has appeared at Condemned to rock roll which makes for great reading.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Fightback Begins

As I wrote a couple of days ago, I had a post removed a few days ago.

This was not just of a handful of mp3s but of the entire interview of Glasvegas, a band I have given a lot of positive coverage to, not just when they were a small band, but as they signed to a major. I have tried, also, to be very tactful when writing about Glasvegas not to criticise them, and my tact has been commented upon.

To say I have been angry and frustrated would be an understatement. As I have made clear right from the very beginning, the point about this blog was the promotion of music and certinaly not deprive musicians of their earnings. To be made to feel like a criminal by an organisation that has the moral highground of nothing is pretty sickening.

I'm certainly not the only one who's been affected. Coxon Le Woof at To Die By Your Side had a similar thing happen to him earlier in the month, and Steve at Teenage Kicks had the same thing the day after me, as did Chad at Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands.

There have been supportive posts at The Vinyl Villain, and Song By Toad as well as a lot of supportive comments, from readers, musicans and people who do run record companies. It's been discussed on websites -and I've had more comments about this than any other. To my horror, Steve is talking about jacking it in. It will be a sad loss to the blogging world if he does.

I have certainly considered it, but I have decided that I can either let these bullies win, or I can stand up to them, in the hope that they leave us alone.

So, if you're up for helping fight it, then that would be great. Because, frankly, to take down posts without warning is bordering on extremely dangerous behaviour. The law should be there to protect everyone. The law is not there simply as a tool of the rich and powerful.

Some artists have been very supportive of the stuff I have written about them.

This guy is one of them.

Dom De Luca -'It's A Sad, Sad Day.' mp3

Friday, October 24, 2008

Come on, Care!

As I may have mentioned a few times (this is MY blog, after all) 17 Seconds Records' first signing (there will hopefully be more, my Parents are actually now asking who the next signing will be) are Aberfeldy.

Now, this version is NOT the version that can be downloaded and bought, but it is the version that was gievn away for free through the South By Southwest website earlier this year.

I am still not receiving the communiques I had asked for when I tried to do something similar months ago for another BAND whose management have so far failed to get in touch AND whose record company's rottweilers are being immoral.

Anyway, enjoy this song, then go and get the great single off iTunes, leave feedback and help 17 Seconds and Aberfeldy on the way to ruling the world.

Aberfeldy - Come On, Claire (free download version).' mp3

Presenting...Ex Lion Tamer

Ex Lion Tamer is the one man band from Edinburgh consisting of the enigmatic Tony T who works...well, I won't reveal where he works, but he does make some damn fine pop music.

Yes, cooler-than-thou people I said POP. Tony T describes his influences as being 'Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Yazoo, Erasure, Rob Hubbard - things that sound clean' and says that Ex Lion Tamer sounds like the ending credits of low budget 80s teen movies - played on your mate's Amiga. With a gift for sarcasm that would put P.E. teachers to shame, he may be making one or two of those up. Though not the bit about the Amiga.

The name does indeed come from the song by Wire -some of you were just itching to point that out, weren't you? - but this is no three girl rhumba. Instead, check out the myspace and see how good it really is:

Ex Lion Tamer's myspace

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grrr...stand up to bullies

Extremely displeased by bully boy tactics.

I checked my email this morning to find an email from Blogger saying that links had been removed 'Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog infringes upon the copyrights of others.'

Now, I cannot actually check the article concerned, which was an interview with James Allan of Glasvegas, because it was removed. Yes, not just the mp3 (which I had believed that I had removed, given that I allowed my account to lapse with the file hoster concerned, as I felt that they had seriously let me down a few months back) but the whole interview, which frankly speaking, I consider to be MY intellectual property.

I would like to say that I do not blame Glasvegas for this. They're a great band, James Allan was a charming interviewee and his sister and manager Denise remembered that he had promised me a place on the guest list when they played Edinburgh last month. However, I do feel that removing mp3s of demos that the band had made available for free on their website is somewhat unjust. Yes, I posted them, they were free. Added to which, james Allan had commented that before many of the songs were out, fans seemed to have learned the lyrics to the songs from blogs.

Until a few months ago, the first three singles from the band (recorded prior to their signing with big record company, I won't name it here,) were available to download from a well-known online retailer. You now cannot buy them from said retailer. Now, if the band chose to do that, that is their choice. BUT: if you have previously enabled things to be either downloaded for free or to be downloaded, then withdraw that, people will distribute them ILLEGALLY, and if they were once available to buy -guess what, the band won't make the money that it might have done!

Back when I interviewed the band in January, James Allan was very modest, and even with the signing frenzy that was happening, didn't seem to have let it go to his head. From what I saw onstage last month in Edinburgh, he still hasn't. As well as coverage in the NME (three covers this year, I think), what has helped them was the coverage in blogs like this. Oh, and bizarrely, people like me who played them to their students in aesthetics, and the students went and bought the album and singles.

There are those who see all copying and distribution of music as being the same as walking into the shop and stealing multiple copies. I beg to differ. Whilst I have had to cut down on music buying of late (there's, y'know, bills to pay, and there is a recession coming -sorry, but the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes, this is not scaremongering), I have bought pretty much everything by Glasvegas I could lay my hands on. Including buying a copy on vinyl even though I'd been sent a promo CD and buying a copy of the LP for brother Seconds' birthday. I might also add that when I reviewed the album in September I stipulated at the end of the review 'Don't copy this, go and buy it.' Short of going and buying thousands of copies of the album and giving it to strangers in the streets, I don't think I could have done more to promote the band.

So why the hell am I being made to feel like a common criminal?

Like I say, this is not a rant at Glasvegas, but at people who feel that they can use bully-boy tactics and scaremongering. As I've mentioned before, I co-run what is Scotland's newest and smallest record label. I hereby declare that I will never, EVER hound people who promote the bands whose records we release. And may I be struck down if I do.

Glasvegas' album is out now. It's brilliant, go and buy it. And go and buy the Aberfeldy single, it's brilliant too.

If you are the sort of person who is trying to concentrate on internet crime; here's a tip: deal with the real criminals: people who exploit others. Not bloggers who do this out of love of writing and music. The web police are no more than manifestations of George Orwell and William Gibson's worst nightmares come to life.

After that rant, there's only one thing I could possibly post:

Crass -'Do They Owe Us A Living?' mp3

I had been going to post 'Police and Thieves' by the Clash, until I remembered that it is on a label with big scary lawyers (well, very likely).

Oh, and I will post the review of the Mogwai/F*ck Buttons/Errors gig tomorrow, it was brilliant).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Album Review: Dark Captain Light Captain

Dark Captain Light Captain - 'Miracle Kicker' (LoAF Recordings)

This debut LP is a real treat. Sitting down to listen to it again before writing this review, I couldn't help myself, and at the end, had to play it all over again...

Supported by the likes of Zane Lowe, Rob Da Bank and Mark Radcliffe, amongst others, DCLC specialise in a gorgeous sort of trippy folk-music. The press release mentions both The Strawbs and Can, and that seems appropriate. I'd be willing to bet that the people who fell in love with the Erland Oye-Royksopp-Kings Of Convenience Norwegian axis will fall in love with this too.

Sure, mixing electronica and folk is far from a new idea, but hearing it done this well is a rare treat. From opener 'Jealous Enemies' to closer 'Miracle Worker' this album is consistently wonderful.

...why deny yourself the pleasure?


Miracle Kicker is released on October 27 on LoAF Recordings

Stream the album here and see for yourself!

Dark Captain Light Captain's official site/Dark Captain Light Captain's Myspace

Album Review: The Present

The Present -'World I See' (LoAF Recordings)

*Sigh* I have really, really struggled with this album. I have now played this three times and I have to confess, I like it less and less with each listen.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy listening to challenging music. I enjoy the work of noise artists like Merzbow, Yellow Swans and of course, Wolf Eyes; albums this year from the likes of David Grubbs, Hair Police and Fuck Buttons have been challenging but they make for rewarding listens. This on the other hand, seems like the soundtrack to someone going mad.

It's received plaudits from the likes of Gang Gang Dance, and Panda Bear, people whose work I enjoy too. Whilst it may be trampling on musical boundaries, it's also trampling on me too. Whilst a track like 'Stabbed In The Face' by Wolf Eyes may attack the listener, there's still something that grabs you. If this is the world they see, then that's as maybe, but I don't want it in my head.


World I See is out now on LoAF recordings.

Have I been unfair? Stream the album here and make up your own mind.

Monday, October 20, 2008

RIP - The Long Blondes

Gutted to discover that the Long Blondes, who topped that ultimate barometer of taste, the inaugural 17 Seconds Festive Fifty in 2006 have split.

Not because of the usual 'musical differences' or because someone wanted to pursue a solo career. Sadly, guitarist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke in June and is unsure when he will be well enough to play again. Read more about it all NME and at their myspace site.

17 seconds extends sympathy to Dorian and all concerned and hopes he will recover soon.

Was going to post 'Weekend Without Make Up' the song that topped the list but decided to go with the opening number from this year's Couples. It's a great album and I've not really mentioned it much here.
Long Blondes -'Century.' mp3

Album Review: Various Artists - Kung Fu Super Sounds

Various Artists - Kung Fu Super Sounds - Unreleased Shaw Brothers Soundtracks (De Wolfe Music Library)

Given the John Baker anthologies released earlier this year, and the upcoming Delia Derbyshire compilation, this has been a great year for the soundtracks obsessive. The de Wolfe Music Library has vaults stretching back one hundred years and as this is released, it is no doubt certain that there will be untold treasures released, many of which may never have seen the light of day before.

The Shaw Brothers, Run Run and Run Me, were responsible for a generation of Hong Kong Kung Fu movies between 1957 and their studio's implosion in 1985. I have to put my hand up here and say I know next to nothing about Kung Fu or Kung Fu movies. But the soundtracks here -and there's 43 of them on one disc, make for fascinating listens. they tend to zip by, but there are some gorgeous little gems here.

It's also worth pointing out that the influence of the Shaw Brothers's Kung Fu movies on both western cinema and music cannot be underestimated. Quentin Tarentino acknowledged that it had inspired his Kill Bill films and with its' references to Shaolin, the Flag Of iron and the 36th Chamber, the Wu-Tang Clamn were obviously taking notes as well.

For fans of the genre this release will come like manna. The sleevenotes are impecable, like you would hope for from any release of this calibre. And for someone who knows next to nothing of the genre's music or films, it's a welcome insight into both an area of world cinema and music.


'Counterspy -Dirty Ho Theme.' mp3

'Spin Out - Heaven and Hell.' mp3

'The Mystified Man -Flag Of Iron.' mp3

For a full tracklisting see here

Kung Fu Super Sounds will be released on November 3, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Album Review: Fucked Up

Fucked Up -'The Chemistry Of Modern Life.' (Matador).

And, damn it, Matador just keep on doing it! This is the second album from the Toronto band with the moniker unlikely to trouble daytime radio (at least in the UK, wheer we can be frightfull uptight and repressed about that sort of thing) and it just adds to the lebgthy list of great albums that the label have released this year. To say nothing of adding to a frighteningly long list of music released over the last half decade by the band themselves.

FU don't have a myspace, which seems pretty damn radical and anti-establishment in 2008. Hell, to describe Fucked Up is to flail around for descriptions only to find that they're far from water tight. They are a hardcore punk band, who have released tracks that are eighteen minutes long and used multitracking. Opener 'Son The Father' starts off with flutes, for goodness sake. If you think Hardcore means anti-melodic, short bursts of noise, and worthy but inaudible lyrics, then FU have come to change your perception on all of that. They're punks at heart, but they bring punk, and hardcore punk at that, a reinvigorated feeling. This is an album that does not stop for breath, but contains as much invention as you could hope for from a Flaming Lips album.

Having made it onto the cover of NME and gained a fair amount of coverage, there will be no doubt those who scream sellout. (usually whilst funded by a trust fund). Each repeated play reveals something new. From it's opener onwards, onto first single 'No Epiphany' and the closing title track, this album is sure to feature in many of the year's best of lists. And it has earned its' place.


Fucked Up -'No Epiphany.' mp3

Fucked Up -'Twice Born.' mp3

The Chemistry Of Modern Life is out now on Matador.

Levi Stubbs Remembered (1936-2008)

(L-R) Renaldo 'Obie' Benson, Lawrence Payton, Abdul 'Duke' Fakir and Levi Stubbs

17 Seconds would like to extend its' condolences to Levi Stubbs' family. The singer of the Four Tops, who had been ill for several years, has died aged 72.

The Four Tops were one of Motown's biggest acts, up there with the likes of Diana Ross and The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. While many acts changed their lineup over the years, the four original members Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton formed the Four Aims in 1954 and sung together until 1997, when Lawrence Payton died. Renaldo Benson died in 2005.

Primarily associated with the 1960s, they continued touring and making records for many years afterwards, and winning new fans. The 1980s saw a remixed version of 'Reach Out, I'll Be There' become a massive hit in the UK in 1988, waking this scribe up to Motown. They also had a hit in the film Buster 'Loco in Acapulco' selling to many who had not been born when the group was first formed. The 1980s also saw him provide the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop Of Horrors. Billy Bragg's first top 40 single 'Levi Stubb's tears' in 1986 namechecked the singer, as well as mentioning Holland/Dozier/Holland, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.

Just look over your shoulder...

Pay tribute to Levi Stubbs here

Levi Stubbs' obituary at the LA Times.

Levi Stubbs at the Guardian

The Four Tops -'Reach Out, I'll Be There.' mp3

And because I nearly cried listening to this earlier today, (well, I had a lump in my throat)...

Billy Bragg -'Levi Stubbs Tears.' mp3

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hooray hooray, another (much-needed) holiday

Hallelujah, now on holiday and no teaching to be done for eleven days.

Don't get me wrong, I (mostly) love my job, but it's considerably more tiring than working in a record shop. Long term I hope it will be more rewarding too.

As for how it compares with running a record label, well, thanks to anyone who has bought Aberfeldy's 'Claire' single off iTunes - thanks because it's good ol' 17 Seconds records' very first release, and if you have, please go and leave us feedback. In the UK, it seems to be the second most popular Aberfeldy track on there after 'Summer's Gone.'

Anyway, some sublime pop from My Bloody Valentine now...

My Bloody Valentine -'We Have All The Time In the World.' mp3

My Bloody Valentine -'Paint A Rainbow.' mp3

Do keep an eye on the blog, as it will get more updates more frequently over the next wee while, as I try to work my way through a rather large pile of review CDs!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Re-Introducing How To Swim

OK folks, now not that I'm offended or anythingm, but seeing as i went to the trouble of posting the link to How To Swim it would have been nice if someone had commented on it. You're surely not just here for free mp3s are you?!?!

Anyway, the band have very graciously allowed me to post mp3s of their latest single so here you. The a-side is an ode to Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P.Orridge and his "Pandrogeny" body-changing experiments, taken from the perspective of his late partner. It is released on Personal Hygiene Records in the UK, and will shortly be available for download. So I hope you like it.

How To Swim -'Genesis P and Me.' mp3

How To Swim -'From Here To Dundee/Eternity.' mp3

And if you like it, let me know!

Pop over and make friends at their myspace

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Introducing...How To Swim

How To Swim are a fine, fine act hailing from Glasgow. With numbers into double figures (Deep breath, here goes: Ink Wilson - guitar, vocals; Martin Docherty - bass; Chris Brown - hitting things (sic); Sean Callaghan - guitar; Anissia Kerr - keys; Hannah Rankine - saxophone, flute; Anna Webster - vocals, keys, glockenspiel; Ross McCrae - trombone; Annie McFarlane - violin; Rich Merchant - trumpet).

Their many influences include Jim O'Rourke and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and they sound pure gorgeous, as they say in Glasgow.

Go over and check them out for yourselves here and their website can be found here. Go and make friends.

What are you waiting for?!?!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gig review: The Fall

The Fall/Milophobia, The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, October 14

A mere 21 years after I first saw them on ITV's long-forgotten The Roxy performing Hit The North (Part 1), I finally got to see The Fall. Would they match my expectations? Would Mark E. Smith be on good form? Would they play Sparta FC?

I would have to wait. Support came from Milophobia, who are due to release their debut EP at the end of this year. Their six song strong set was excellent from start to finish. I heard echoes of The Fall, perhaps a little more of prime US alternative rock, and saw a front man with start written all over him. Watch this space.

John Cooper Clarke had been ill and missed Friday evening's gig in Aberdeen, so there was a risk that we wouldn't get him...and alas, we didn't. Maybe another time. In the unlikely event that you're reading this John, get well soon.

Sandwiched down the front of the gig for an hour, would it be worth it? It was certainly a diverse crowd. Anyone expecting it to be just middle-aged blokes in their anoraks...wrong. Men and women, punks, folks drinking wine who looked like they'd come from Morningside, Edinburgh's posh district, some kids who looked like they were barely out of primary school...The Fall have a diverse crowd following them.

In a word, yes. From the minute the band walked on until they walked off, they captivated, utterly. Mark E. Smith walked on, and I think in a good mood. The devotion he inspires has not faded one iota.

The set was made up of a mixture of old and new, including 'Wings' from 1983 but also more recent numbers from this year's Imperial Wax Solvent, like Latch Key Kid' and 'Wolf Kidult Man'. And after a while, so blown away was I by the performance of the band and yer man, Mark, that I stopped trying to worry about remembering the song titles and just lost myself in the music.

Partly because Mr. Smith was so close to me that I could see the whites of his eyes. I was that close to the stage. Not trying to hug him, like some other folks, but close enough to touch him. Not that I would dare. He may be smaller than me, but I wouldn't touch him. He'd be my dream artist to sign, to interview. If it wasn;t for the fact that I'd be so in awe I'd probably balls it up.

With a back catalogue stretching back thirty years, almost that in studio albums and certainly double that in compilations and live albums, there's no shortage of quality tunes to play, and it never dips. The recent albums have been excellent, and if I wasn't really into ...Missing Winner, there's a reminder of a reminder of how good as 'Reformation' and 'Sparta FC' show that they are just as good as stuff from the Step Forward, Rough Trade and Kamera eras. They go off after 'Sparta' and come on and do 'Carrier Bag Man' from 1988's The Frenz Experiment. It's at this point I really understand why there are so many Fall live albums; they are that good live that it's justified.

I'm reeling as I drive home. When my wife tells me that there's bugs in the flat, I just get on and sort them. It's fair to say that The Fall have knocked me for six. I have been to well over a hundred gigs in the last seven years since coming to Scotland, and this is the best of them all.

The Fall -'Wings.' mp3

The Fall -'Sparta F.C.' mp3

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh wow!!!

Finally, it has happened.

17 Seconds' first single release is available to download from today. Certainly in the UK and should be available from download stores around the world as we speak. It's on iTunes and should be on many other stores too.

For £1.58 (yes, less than a cup of coffee) you can buy the single and rate it.

Please let us know if you do so, do leave positive feedback, remember this is socialism in action. And if you're not sure if you'll like the song, though I cannot see why you wouldn't, check it out either at our myspace or at Aberfeldy's myspace

Have a nice day. Come on, Claire...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One that got away

I've got to be honest, I know very little about Harvey Danger, but the American band did produce one of the great lost singles of the last ten years.

OK, by 'lost' I mean that it wasn't a huge hit, it reached no.57 in the UK chart. It got played a lot on XFM in London that summer, where I was working during university holidays, going to gigs and spending far too much money in Rough Trade.

I feel a bit bad, I've not really followed the band since (they're still going, as their website tells you), but this is a real gem of a song. Trying to sum it up earlier, this thought occured to me:

'The Wonderstuff forged a distinctive sound that was a mix of folk and punk, yet owed nothing (to these ears at any rate) to the likes of The Men They Couldn't Hang or the Pogues. Whatever it was, Harvey Danger took a similar blueprint and mixed it with Pavement, then produced a fantastic song.'

I'm sure a lot of people won't hear the Wonderstuff connection. Then again, I always thought the New Radicals' 'You Get What You Give' sounded like The Waterboys, so what do I know...

Harvey Danger -'Flagpole Sitta.' mp3

Harvey Danger website/Harvey Danger myspace

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Baby, I Can't Wait

'Always different, always the same.'

'I spurn [people who do not like them] with my toe.'

John Peel on his favourite ever band, The Fall.

How excited am I about seeing The Fall tomorrow night?

Oh, you know, it's only got me through the more difficult classes that I've had this week and given me the opportunity to re-read Mark E. Smith's autobiography, and play Slates this afternoon and re-listen to Live At The Witch Trials as I type. It should be noted that this album was not a live album (though obviously there have been live debut albums before, MC5, Jane's Addiction and 22-20s spring to mind...)

The autobiography is great, taking no prisoners and making no apologies. It's not a conventional autobiography but then, this is Mark E. Smith we're talking about here, what do you expect?!

One of the things that clearly irritates him is people who think that his former wife Brix Smith was responsible for bringing a poppier element to The Fall when she joined in 1984. He is also clearly irritated by people who haven't done their research.

This post kind of ties those two ideas in together and focuses on the 'Lie dream Of A Casino Soul' with its' b-side 'Fantastic Life'. Released a handful of months before their seminal Hex Induction Hour LP in 1982, this 1981 single's a-side is, surprise surprise, talking about the famous Wigan Casino, the home of Northern Soul. According to the sleevenotes of the re-issued Slates, Smith was getting fed-up of people who only seemed to have just discovered soul. Surprisingly, he did like Dexy's Midnight Runners. The b-side is gloriously poppy, and this is before he even met Brix...

The Fall -'Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul.' mp3

The Fall -'Fantastic Life.' mp3

This Fall website is unofficial but seems to be fairly comprehensive

The Fall on wikipedia (I own thirty Fall albums and I feel like I'm still only scratching the surface!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

A wet Friday night Edinburgh.

Delighted to be home with Mrs. 17 Seconds,
frustrated that the boiler has broken down again.
Fed up with trying to motivate a handful of students.
Ecstatic that there's week until I'm on holiday.

On nights like these I just want to crawl into bed and sleep...

But there's music to keep my spirits up as ever. I spent years trying to get hold of this at an affordable rate, did people really pay £7 for a CD single ten years ago? I shure as heck didn't...

Laptop -'End Credits.' mp3

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Album Review: Beatglider

Beatglider - 'Witches' (Enraptured)

Shoegazing -let's not shy away from that word here -is known in the US of A as dreampop. And that makes sense when you listen to a record like the third album from Beatglider. Not only does their name evoke My Bloody Valentine, but the sounds -and I mean this as a compliment - definitely owe much to those seminal albums Isn't Anything and Loveless.

Another influence on this wee gem of an album is Fotheringay, the fabulously flawed band fronted by Sandy Denny after she left Fairport Convention and before she embarked on a solo career. There's an influence of Pagan imagery here too, though I'm going to have to put my hand up and admit that that's something I'm far from an authority on. It's a very English sounding record and beautifully dreamy.

Will it change the perceptions of those who are not heavily into dreampop/shoegazing? Sadly, probably not - but that's their loss. For those of us who like to focus on their music and almost live in their soundtracks, this is a record for the likes of us. It's a record that seems to live in another place in time, rather than being retro, existing in its' own little world, and all the better for it.


Beatglider website/myspace

Album Review: Jay Reatard

Jay Reatard - 'Matador Singles '08' (Matador)

The idea of putting out a handful of singles then collecting them together on an album is not, it must be said, a new one. In 1982-3 The Cure reinvented themselves with a trilogy of singles then collected them together with associated with b-sides on the album Japanese Whispers. In 1992, the Wedding Present released a 7" a month then collected them together with their b-sides on the Hit Parade albums.

What is slightly different about this album by Memphis boy wonder Jay Reatard (just how many great bands can one label have?!?! -and it's been a phenomenal year for Matador) is that each 7" has been released in a succesively smaller run worldwide. Thus, April's single #1 'See/Saw' was released in a worldwide edition of 3,500, while September's 'No time' was limited to just 400.

A hype gathering exerise for those who play e-bay like the stock exchange? Oh ye of little faith and much cynicism! The thing is that this actually realy works as an album in its' own right. And whilst it is painfully cliched to say that an album works like a collection of singles...umm, well it is, but also, it does. The tracks flow together, and I've found myself playing this repeatedly over the last two weeks.

All eyes have been on the Kings of Leon as southern wonders of late, as they chart all four of their albums in the UK chart. But those eyes should divert their attention here. As Pitchfork pointed out, 'in this short space of time, Reatard has cranked out more memorable songs than some alcts do in their whole careers.' Know what? They've got a point. A wonderful confection of punk and garage pop-gems that still feels fresh and exciting on every listen. Dammit, what more can you ask for?


Matador Singles '08 is out now on Matador.

Jay Reatard -'See/Saw.' mp3

Jay Reatard -'Always Wanting More.' mp3

(have now sorted out the links)

Jay Reatard's myspace

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wanna rant wanna riot...


How to rant without damaging anyone.

Post an angry song that's sugar-coated.

It could only be this...

Damned -'Smash it Up.' mp3

Monday, October 06, 2008

Album Review: A.Human

A. Human -'Third Hand Prophecy.' (Wall Of Sound)

As I work through a large pile of stuff (sure I don't have to review everything I'm sent, but as I'm trying to get my own record company up and running, I think there's a sort of karma involved), it's inevitable that there are some albums that have kind of dropped to the bottom of the pile.

And more fool me, because this debut from A.Human is fantastic. I've played it several times, and each time I do, I hear something else, another pleasant connection made, another great riff that strikes me. It's got pulsing bassliness and analogue synths that evoke the best records of the early eighties. There's eleven fantastic tracks here, quirky, without being annoying and damn wonderful too. 'Black Moon' for example, is the tale of a woman with knives for hands. 'Third Hand Prophecy' is an excellent opener. And If you'd told me that a dance re-working of America's 'Horse With No Name' could work, I wouldn't have believed you...but now I do.

Evoking early Simple Minds, Death In Vegas, Primal Scream circa 1997-2002...this is a brilliant record. Once you hear it, you will want to hear it again. And again.

Don't make the same mistake I did, check it out. Now.


Third Hand Prophecy is out now on Wall Of Sound

A.Human website/A.Human myspace

A.Human -'Third Hand Prophecy.' mp3

A.Human -'Black Moon.' mp3

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Album Review: The Chap

The Chap -'Builder's Brew' (Loaf Recordings)

This has to rate as THE worst album I have heard all year*, and I have heard around 150.

The problem with The Chap is that they think that a) they're intelligent and b) that they are being post-modern and ironic (or moronic, for short). Unfortunately, all they are is bloody irritating.

The Chap have reportedly received praise for sources as diverse as Vice and The Wire, and been played by Stuart Maconie. Frankly speaking these people need their ears clearing out. This is a festering turd of a record, frankly. It's actually quite offensive that people are given money to make music this bad.

It finishes with their cover of 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' yes, the Tina Turner cheese-fest. Which apparently has been demanded by their fans for years. It makes The Residents' mauling of 'satisfaction' seem like a worthy statement.

Words cannot express just how bad this record is. There is no need for this to exist. Go away. Leave me the hell alone.


The Chap -'Proper Rock.' mp3

*yes, even worse than Black Mountain

Album Review: Eugene Francis Jr

Eugene Francis Jr -'The Golden Beatle.' (Legion)

Umm, I'm feeling a little bit bad about this. A few months ago I wrote about Eugene Francis, after his record company had been in touch, sent a few mp3s etc.. And I wanted to hear more, and so I asked for the album to be sent and it was...

...and the problem is that I just find this fairly boring. Alright, so the cover art doesn't help. Nor does the title. but even if i'd been sent this in a plain cover nd it had been an untitled release, I still would have to say the same thing: this is a fairly boring album. It's not hideously awful, like The Chap's latest release, but it just doesn't do anything. The production makes it feel fairly safe, there's no wow factor. It's fine as background music, but when you start to pay attention to it (which if you're reviewing it, I reckon that you SHOULD be), after a couple of tracks it starts to get fairly annoying.

So yes, I asked for it to be sent. I'm sure blood, sweat and tears have gone into this. But it just leaves me cold.


Eugene Francis Jr -'The Beginners.' mp3

Eugene Francis Jr's myspace

Album Review: Nik Freitas

Nik Freitas -'Sun Down' (Affairs Of The Heart records)

Every so often, along comes a record that has no pretensions, but just gets on and does its' job and is wonderful in itself. And right now, that record is the latest album from Nik Freitas.

Recently on tour in the UK playing guitar for Conor Oberst as part of his Mystic Valley Band, there are certain parallels with the sound of Mr. Oberst and his alter-ego Bright Eyes. But one thing Nik Freitas has over Coor Oberst is that his voice seems less strained, and somehow more natural. In fact, natural is very much the style of the record. Nothing seems forced here, and even the epic moments don't seem too grandiose. And that's a real feat.

This album has been written, played, engineered and produced every note by Nik Freitas. Now that's what I call independent. Right from the opening notes of the album's opener, the title track, this is an album that doesn't mess about and gives us a nice warm feeling when it comes to an end forty minutes later. It doens't re-write the rulebook, or sonicallly challenge you, but sometimes you don;t want that anyway.

Make sure you check it out.


Nik Freitas' webpage/Nik Freitas' myspace

Sun Down is released on October 6 on Affairs of The Heart Records

Nik Freitas -'Sun Down.' mp3

Nik Freitas -'Sophie.' mp3

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Oh yes, oh yay...

...finally, I've got tickets to see The Fall today. I've been a fan for many years, but I'm really stoked about seeing them in Edinburgh soon.

Not least because supporting them is John Cooper Clarke.

I'm not an authority on JCC, but the stuff of his I've heard is fab, of which I include a selection below.

A few years ago, My Da came up to Edinburgh for a wedding of a family friend. He'd been asked to read John Cooper Clarke's 'I Wanna Be Yours' which I'm told is now a set text for the English GCSE syllabus, or at least, was at any point.

My Da is many things, but quite possibly the only two things that he and JCC share is that they were born in the same decade and were born north of the Watford Gap. Anyway, using a handful of punk compilations and rehearsing we got it sorted for the big day.

I knew those years of listening to punk was going to pay off some day. My Da had it so damn well sorted he got an even bigger cheer than the bride and groom. Serious respect.

So, can John Coooper Clarke read as well as my Da? I'm waiting to see...

John Cooper Clarke -'Psycle Sluts (Part 1).' mp3

John Cooper Clarke -'Suspended Sentence.' mp3

The Massed Carnaby St John Cooper Clarkes (sic!) -'The Day My Pad Went mad.' mp3

John Coooper Clarke website/Myspace

The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto

At the risk of pointing out the screamingly obvious, compilations generally tend to fall into two camps: the ones that you make for someone (or very occasionally, for yourself), and the ones you buy that are ready-curated. There have been a handful over the years that have genuinely become legendary in their own right: Lenny Kaye's compilation Nuggets, which compiles 60s garage psychedelic sounds, perhaps being one of the most famous.

But it's this one The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto that I want to focus on today. Put together by Trevor Herman and Jumbo Van Renan, this might be responsible for opening up the world to so much of what has come to be known as 'World Music.' That's a label that a lot of people increasingly have a fair amount of opposition to, perhaps not unreasonably. But as an article here at Roots World points out, it was the first exposure that many people had to music from Southern Africa.

The styles within are hugely varied, from the a capella sound of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to jive to Udokotela Shange Namajaha's opener which seems to include so many different types of music within just the opening number. If you ever felt that the dance/electronica section of record shops was becoming too much of a catch-all, ask yourself why these artists wouldn't be featured there. Even to those who know very little about Southern African music -and I most definitely include myself in that- can listen to these twelve tracks and appreciate just how many different styles were at work here. At the time South Africa was pretty much the world's pariah nation, due to Apartheid, and whilst there was a lot of opposition to the policies of that, there was also little awareness of the music that came from the townships. This album changed that.

It's one of the records that made The Wire's 100 important Records Ever Made List where Mark Sinker had this to say:

'The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto (Earthworks/Virgin) This one record justifies all the dully worthy blah committed in the name of World Music. Trevor Herman's and Jumbo Van Renan's inspired compilation tells an essentially mythological tale of community resilience and survival, reaches into the gorgeous, raw-gritty sound of an already-vanished past for one last moment, without ever denying that the music can only really be so potently rediscovered because of the effects of a barbarously retarded social set-up: because Soweto's will to change was so violently thwarted. The music remains as tensile as it's witty: and old troupers like Mathlathini will later clearly enjoy recreating their roles to cartoon perfection, if that's what sympathetic whitey overseas wants.'

The rock world sat up and took notice. The albums made subsequently that both 'borrowed' ideas from this record have been well-documented, analysed and argued over. Forgot that, just for now, and check out this compilation.

Udokotela Shange Namajaha -'Awungilobolele.' mp3

Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Nansi Imali.' mp3

If you like this, check out the album (available on eMusic).

And as ever, let me know what you think!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Album Review: TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio -'Dear Science,' (4AD)

TV on the Radio have now been recording for five years and this is their third full-length album proper, following on from 2004's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes and 2006's Return To Cookie Mountain. So how have they handled that difficult third album?

...Only by making the best album of their career so far, that's how. The previous two albums have involved excellent art rock (it makes perfect sense that they're signed to 4AD, perhaps the artiest record label ever -and that's meant as a compliment). Whilst some accusations that the previous two albums were more to be appreciated than loved seem a little...harsh, the fact remains that TV On the Radio have done that rare thing: they've managed to produce the most accessible album of their career so far, without that having to involve compromising. And that's no mean feat.

Because the sound is still fascinating, the vocals still the right sort of impassioned, but the funk has arrived, and different elements are on here, and manage to sit side by side and work.

From the opening track 'Halfway Home' to closer 'Lover's Day' this is an album that grabs you on first listen and doesn't let go. If there is any justice, not only will this album clean up in the end of year polls, but it will also prove to be their commercial breakthrough. Surely their time is now.

TV On The Radio -'Halfway Home.' mp3

TV On The Radio -'Lover's Day.' mp3

TV On The Radio official website/ TV On the Radio myspace

Now that's just Crass

There are very few artists who have managed to have questions asked about them in the House of Commons, in fact I believe that the list is just John Lennon, UB40, the Sex Pistols and Crass. The latter ended up being enquired about because of their single 'How does it feel to be the mother of a thousand dead?' an attack on Thatcher and the Falklands War.

I can't post it here - I don't have it, and it's not on emusic or iTunes either (can anyone help?!?!).

But I did track down this single, which deals with some of those who were offended by the aforementioned single, this one is 'Sheep Farming In The Falklands.'

Crass -'Sheep Farming In the Falklands.' mp3

This was inspired because I picked up their debut LP, The Feeding Of the 5,000 today, with the wonderful'Do they Owe Us A Living?' A fantastic riposte at the end of the working week...

Crass -'Do They Owe Us A Living?' mp3

Official website
Crass @ Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Exciting stuff...

Dead excited.

First of all, a 17 Seconds single has been played by Jim Gellatley on his podcast -which can be downloaded from here, and he mentions 17 Seconds records. As well as playing stuff by Broken Records and Pearl and the Puppets. Go here for more details or download it from iTunes.

And also, Aberfeldy will be played by Vic Galloway tonight on his show in Scotland, on Radio 1, which you should be able to download from here

And if you haven't made friends with us at myspace yet (and you have a myspace thing) please do so!