Sunday, November 30, 2008

Countdown to Christmas Post #4

Hello again.

It's offensively cold here.

Yesterday Mrs. 17 Seconds and I briefly went Christmas shopping. I will never understand the concept of retail therapy. Way too many people - who kept getting in my personal space.

This seemed appropriate...

Housewives On Prozac -'I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall.' mp3

2008 Festive Fifty and albums...advance warning

Just to let you know folks, as well as the Christmas posts I've been doing over the last few weeks, I will be posting my annual Festive Fifty and lists of all the best albums of the year, including this year - for the first time -another list for re-issues and compilations. I'm still trying to finalise both lists, as well as worrying about all the albums I haven't heard this year. But as I have heard over 160 new albums this year, hopefully the list will be pretty comprehensive, as comprehensive as one person's list can be.

Two things I want to say now:

1. Glasvegas are not featuring.

You heard. I've thought long and heard about this, and have decided that as they refused to comment on the mp3 debacle back in October that I won't feature them. I haven't been able to bring myself to listen to them since then, anyway. Is this being childish? Um, no, I think their behaviour, smacking as it does of the outsider kid who suddenly negelcts all they're old friends once they're accepted, is unacceptable. So if you can't deal with this, umm, too bad.

And if you think that a professional magazine wouldn't do this...GET REAL!

There's a wonderful article here which I was consulted on.

2. Aberfeldy won't be featuring either.

This is for completely different reasons - as I have helped put the record out, I think it would be a little biased to do so. Obviously I think the 'Claire' single is fantastic, but it might seem like favouritism, and as a teacher, that's something I try to avoid.

Obviously, I am not for one moment suggesting that anyone else follows suit. It would be great if anyone chose to include the Aberfeldy single in their list!

2007's Festive Fifty topping entry:

Emma Pollock -'Adrenaline.' mp3

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A post for St. Andrew's Day

November 30 marks St. Andrew's Day, the Patron Saint of Scotland.

This isn't a particularly big day in Scotland, but then St. David's Day and St. George's Day aren't either. Which probably seems out to the Americans reading this, when you consider how important both Thanksgiving and the 4th of July are.

There's much I love about Scotland, my adopted homeland since 2001. I didn't just move here because I loved Belle and Sebastian or because of Fopp and Avalanche, though these were factors in my coming. Since moving here, I've interviewed Emma Pollock, had tea at Stevie Jackson from Belle and Sebastian's house, worked with members of the Prats, X-Vectors and Wounded Knee, to say nothing of seeing many acts. Oh, and started my own indie label, done my own club night, begun this blog...and qualified as a teacher. It's a place where many of my dreams have come true.

It's not just about the music. There's great literature, great films and a whole thriving culture. I don;t think I could live anywhere else. Sure the winter's are severe, but you can't have everything.

My favourite scottish band remain The Delgados, who are just brilliant. They split up in 2005, but are just life affirming. My favourite Delgados song is 'No Danger' which is from the album The Great Eastern, my favourite scottish album (it was recorded in New York State. Then again, Transformer by Lou Reed reminds me of New York but was recorded in London. Go figure...)

And an mp3 from the album, 'American Trilogy.'

The Delgados -'American Trilogy.' mp3

Oh go on! Here's the video too...

And some other great, classic scottish tracks...

Motorcycle Boy -'Big Rock Candy Mountain (Velocity Dance Mix).' mp3

Aztec Camera -'Oblivious.' mp3

Primal Scream -'Velocity Girl.' mp3

Jesus and Mary Chain -'Upside Down.' mp3

Camera Obscura -'Eighties Fan.' mp3

Yes, I know most of them are over twenty years old, but hey...

Another great review for the Aberfeldy single

Ok, so I keep going on about this, but was pretty excited to arrive back at 17 Seconds Towers yesterday to find a fanzine waiting for me, the third issue of Twee As Fuck.

Our first single release 'Claire' by Aberfeldy has featured in their 'Seven 7"s we can't get enough of.' The review written by Erik Sandberg reads:

'Whilst the Major sector flounders, the Independents seem to flourish as is evident in this debut single from 17 Seconds Records. Quite simply, this is bliss: Neil Young backed by Joy Zipper at their poppiest. Edinburgh is the new Glasgow, it would appear.'

Oh yes, oh yay!

This is not the single version, but an earlier version as can be downloaded from the SXSW website.

Aberfeldy -'Come On, Claire.' mp3

Like it? We do, too. Support us, and more importantly, support Aberfeldy by buying the single download from one of these download stores.

And, obviously, we will let you know when it's available to purchase on 7". Can't wait for that...

OK, I'm off to try and continue googling record stores I think might stock the Aberfeldy release when we finally have it. whist listening to Crystal Stilts...

Countdown to Christmas Post #3

Some videos for you today...

The Killers have made two Christmas singles (not sure if they're doing one this year) which have been great fun. As to whether these will join the great lexicon of chrsitmas songs, only time will tell, but I kind of hope so.

As these tracks were released to raise money for charity, I'm not posting the mp3s but enjoy the videos and then go and buy the tracks.

This was released in 2006, and features Toni Halliday on vocals, yes she of Curve fame...

The Killers with Toni Halliday -'A Great Big Sled'

The Killers -'Don't Shoot Me Santa'

This was last year's Christmas single...
(WARNING: Brandon Flowers is wearing a hideous jumper in this video)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Countdown to Christmas Post #2

Cristina Monet, quite feasibly, in another world, could have been as big as Madonna.

Her wonderfully, dry style makes 'Child Psychology' by Black Box Recorder look amateurish by comparison.

Her contribution to the ZE Christmas Album is a wonderful tale of how, actually, Christmas isn't always wonderful. It sits along such other gems as 'Christmas Wrapping' by the Waitresses (which idiot thought it would be a good idea to let the Spice Girls cover that song?) and 'Christmas With Satan' by James White...which I might post another time.
Cristina -'Things Fall Apart.' mp3

And, ok, it's not Christmassy, but in another world it would have had the same impact as 'Like A Virgin':

Cristina -'What's a Girl To Do?' mp3

Cristina fan site

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Prodigy Track

One of the biggest let-downs of the decade has got to be The Prodigy's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned LP. But on the strength of this free track they've released, hopefully they're back firing on all cylinders.

I'm not going to say that this is the best thing they've ever done - but it's pretty much the best thing I've heard them do in over a decade. This is the title track from their new album, the tracklisting and more info can be found here.

The Prodigy -'Invaders Must Die.' mp3

Comments welcome please...

Countdown to Christmas Post #1

It's that time of year again. Amongst other things on this site will follow much by way of Christmas related stuff, including some anti-Christmas stuff.

Just in case anyone is worried, as God is my witness, I promise not to post any painfully awful and/or obvious stuff. So there will be no Mud, Slade, Shakin' Stevens, Mariah Carey, Boney M etc.. If you want it, I'm sure you can find it elsewhere.

Mogwai have done two (or three, depending on yur point of view) songs with Christmas in the title. 'Xmas Steps', all eleven and a bit minutes of it, was released in 1998, as the lead track on the 'No Education =No Future (Fuck The Curfew) EP.' It made no.2 in John Peel's Festive Fifty that year. It was released in slightly shorter form as 'Christmas Steps' on the following year's Come On Die Young LP. Later on in 1999, the Mogwai EP contained the 'Christmas Song.'

To what extent are these Christmassy? After all the original 'Xmas Steps' came out in July. But they feature the word 'Christmas' in them, so that'll do for me.

Mogwai -'Xmas Steps.' mp3

Mogwai -'Christmas Steps.' mp3

Mogwai -'Christmas Songs.' mp3

(and yes, these were featured by both me last year and Teenage Kicks/I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day. Three will be other stuff that wasn't. Promise)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Peel, anybody?

Well, it has been a little while, so why not one of my Peel posts?

By the way, before I get stuck into this, can people please go and vote over at Teenage Kicks so Steve can work out everyone's favourite Peel sessions. My list is likely to include The Cure, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit and the Breeders. Possibly...

First up, I know very little about this song, but its' title sums it up quite well, I think:

Robert Lloyd and the New Four Seasons -'Something Nice.' mp3 (1988 Festive Fifty no.21)

Madness fell flat on their face trying to cover 'The ''Sweetest Girl'' '; they didn't try this to the best of my knowledge:

Scritti Politti -'Asylums In Jerusalem.' mp3 (1982 Festive Fifty no.18)

From the same year, 1982, Aztec Camera's only other Festive Fifty entry:

Aztec Camera -'Pillar To Post.' mp3 ((1982 Festive Fifty no.24)

Peel often felt frustrated that the Festive Fifty didn't include stuff he'd been championing; I hope this pleased him, a rare Hip-Hop entry:

De La Soul -'Eye Know.' mp3 (1989 Festive Fifty no.34)

This was a classic case of a band that Peel had supported some time before finally breaking through, both to the 'proper' top 40 and the Festive Fifty:

The Farm -'Groovy Train.' mp3 (1990 Festive Fifty no.47)

These four tracks from the Wedding Present's Watusi album, still unavailable in the UK it appears, all made the Festive Fifty in 1994.

Wedding Present -'Spangle.' mp3(1994 Festive Fifty no.39)

Wedding Present -'So Long, Baby.' mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.37)

Wedding Present -'Click Click.' mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.30)

Wedding Present -'Swimming Pools Movie Stars.' mp3 (1994 Festive Fifty no.15)

Finally, it wouldn't be the Festive Fifty without an entry from The Fall. I spent ages trying to work out why I couldn't track this down, then realised that the actual version was in with my LPs and that the CD version seemed to call it Bremen Nacht Alternative. Thank god for the USB turntable.

The Fall -'Bremen Nacht.' mp3 (1988 Festive Fifty no.16)

Now...can anyone help me complete the following tracks, please?

From 1982:

Serious Drinking -'Love On The Terraces.' (1982 Festive Fifty no.38) [Gratefully received thank you!]

From 1983:

Redskins -'Lean On Me.' (1983 Festive Fifty no.30) [Gratefull received, thank you!]
Tools You Can Trust -'Waking and Shopping.' (1983 Festive Fifty no.34) [Gratefully received thank you!]
S.P.K. -'Metal Dance.' (1983 Festive Fifty no.39) [Gratefully received thank you!]

From 1988:

Overlord X -'14 Days In May.' (1988 Festive Fifty no.28) [Gratefully received, thank you!]
Loop -'Collision.' (1988 Festive Fifty no. 41) [Gratefully received, thank you!]

From 1989:
Inspiral Carpets -'So This Is How It Feels (Peel session version).' mp3 (1989 Festive Fifty no.35)
Inspiral Carpets -''She Comes In The Fall (Peel session version).' mp3 (1989 Festive Fifty no.50)

Thanks if anyone can help!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Some more Smiths related stuff...

Isn't YouTube fab? This is a clip of Sandie Smith singing The Smiths song 'Jeane.'

The Smiths and Sandie Shaw on a programme called 'Charlie's Bus' (don't remember it, but I would have been around eight at the time. Probably watching Saturday Morning Superstore or something).

Also this link is
Sandie Shaw & The Smiths doing Hand In Glove on Top Of the Pops in 1984. [embedding disabled by request, you'll just have to go to the link]

Pretty cool, the Smiths working with Sandie Shaw. No-one could top that, could they? Until this...

And of course, Bryan Ferry's 1987 single, The Right Stuff which a) featured Johnny Marr on guitar and b) was based on The Smiths' 'Money Changes Everything.'

Album Review: The Smiths

The Smiths -'The Sound Of The Smiths' (Warners)

Another year, another Smiths compilation? Well, of course, that does depend on which edition of this album you get. The selling point of this album, and surely the attraction to many of us is Disc 2, with many rarities (though still no 'Work Is A Four Letter Word').

Rather than dwelling on yet another Smiths compilation, let us focus on the music instead. For a band that were together for five years, with a recording career of four, The Smiths had a highly productive work-rate where the bar was set almost impossibly high for anyone to follow. Morrissey and Marr surely rate up there with Lennon and McCartney or Jagger and Richards as a songwriting team. They recorded so many classic songs that it's hard just to focus on one or two...but if you're a certain age and you haven't heard these songs, what the hell have you been doing? 'How Soon Is Now?' remains my favourite. With its' middle-eight:

'There's a club if you'd like to go,
You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go and you dance on your own
And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry,
And You Want To Die.'

'Songs That Saved Your Life (referencing a track 'Rubber Ring', which is not included here) was the name of a book about the Smiths' music, and the reality is that their music did just that. As a miserable teenager, wondering if I'd ever get a girlfriend, this song spoke volumes to me. Years later, it soundtracked the mid-twenties slump as my relationships soured badly, and it still soundtracked break-up misery. 'Meat Is Murder' was definitely a factor in me becoming vegetarian, and apparently one of the most influential things on many people becoming vegetarian over the last twenty-five years. I was marginally displeased when one school friend wrote 'Sixteen, clumsy and shy' inside my Christmas card one year, though it was probably very accurate. The night I freaked out listening to 'Suffer Little Chidlren' and that image of Myra Hindley (shudder) filled my head. The girl I fancied who I got into The Smiths, if even just a little bit (we're still very good friends).

...and these are just my own stories. How many other people spent their teenage years clutching their Smiths records, living through them? Even repeated readings of Adrian Mole hadn't prepared us for how sodding awful teenage life would be. Marr made it seem like you could be a guitar hero without being a prat, Morrissey that beiong a rock god was not all about being full of testosterone. The fact is, it's not just about adolescence remembered, these songs are classic from any era. And yes there was misery (sometimes too much, 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' is the sort of thing that gave The Smiths' detractors everything they needed on one seven inch single). But there was humour, dry observation, wit, and that music. When I heard The Queen Is Dead aged fourteen, it was pretty much a road to damascus moment. It wasn't always easy getting hold of The Smiths' music in the early nineties, with the collapse of Rough Trade; the studio albums were only avilable on expensive import from the US. Quite how four studio albums as strong as theirs were allowed to go unavailable is a mystery.

The music remains timeless. The second disc reminds us of tracks that perhaps fell a little down the list of how good they were - but I've loved listening to 'Jeane' 'Please Please Please Let me Get What I Want' and 'Oscillate Wildly' again.

So, we've heard these songs before. But why not once again?


Listening posts:




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Is it time to rethink my views on prog?

Soft Machine, above.

For many years, I've been fairly opposed to the whole concept, never mind the music, of progressive rock. Many years ago, a friend's dad played me Pictures At An Exhibition by Emerson Lake and Palmer, and it put me right off. (And I do like classical music).

Added to which, as someone who felt that punk was what had led to his beloved indie scene, it was a feeling that progressive rock's sole function was to be so damn hideous that punk had to happen. With the exception of Pink Floyd -' They're not prog, they're good!' I snapped at someone one time - I saw the early seventies as a wasteland, with a few notable exceptions -Bowie, Roxy, Nico, Reed etc.. and American soul and funk. I bought a Yes best of a few months ago, it ended up being returned fairly quickly. I love much of Peter Gabriel's solo stuff, yet find much of the Genesis stuff hideously self-indulgent. I have of course since discovered Richard Thompson and John Martyn. I don't see them as prog, but they have helped me realise that there was great music there in the first part of the seventies. I'd always loved Kraftwerk; in the last few months Can, Faust, Neu, Amon Duul II and Harmonia have shown that Germany was producing weird and wonderful stuff, and in the case of these, it influenced some of the more open-minded punks. (See here for more about that Johnny Rotten show on Capital Radio. Not a Stooges or Dolls track in sight).

Perhaps it's time to be a little less blinkered. I suppose Steve at Teenage Kicks must take the credit for pointing me in the direction of both of these tracks, they are fabulous. I've posted them before but I figure these are definitely worth hearing again.

Matching Mole -'O Caroline.' mp3

Roy Harper -'When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease.' mp3 (both cropped up here, no less!)

And these two tracks are pretty cool, too:

Soft Machine -'I Should Have Known.' mp3

Kevin Ayers -'Oh! Wot A Dream.' mp3

Sad songs say so much...2

Haven't posted much here this week. It's been kinda busy, and isn't showing sign of letting up. How the heck did Tony Wilson manage to run a label and work in TV? No marking, I suppose.

Anyway, some songs for a cold winter's day...

Johnny Cash -'Hurt.' (No there's nothing wrong with me, just something in my eye...)

afterword: Johnny Cash's wife June Carter Cash, seen here in the video, died shortly before him in 2003. Someone said that 'she'd gone to get the house ready for him.' I'm sure some would criticise that statement as sexism, but to me it makes my eyes almost as misty as watching the video.

The Cure -'Charlotte Sometimes.'

Who would have thought a pop video could be so sad and creepy? I remember watching that video with my dad and the hairs on his arm literally standing on end. Also worth reading Penelope Farmer's book Charlotte Sometimes which inspired the song. Charlotte Sometimes is my favourite song by my favourite ever band, and second only to this...

Joy Division -'Atmosphere.'

My favourite ever song. Apparently the surviving members of the band hated this video but I love it. The bit when the synths ocme in sounds like the sound water would make if you could tape it forming on water (actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Martin Hannett would have recorded). The bit where this is played in 24 Hour Party People is a misty-eyed moment as well...

David Bowie -'Life On Mars?'

For many years, this was my favourite song and it's still up there as one of my favourites. I'm sure I heard Flaming Lips do a cover of that on John Peel's show in about 1993. If anyone can help, please let me know...

Billie Holiday -'Strange Fruit.'

I was amazed but delighted to find footage for Strange Fruit. It's a beautiful but harrowing song. Covered by many people including Robert Wyatt, Tori Amos, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and also by Nina Simone, who had to give up performing it as everytime she did, she broke down. There's ingenious (IMHO) use of this in Ae Fond Kiss, a film that looks at sectarianism in Glasgow in the twenty-first century.

So...I'll finish with a clip of Nina Simone, talking about how important it is to her as an artist to reflect the times. I found myself thinking it was a shame she hadn't lived to see Barack Obama elected to be President of the US, but there's millions of Americans who would have loved to have seen that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Aberfeldy return to the live arena!

Guess who's back? Back again?

Na na na na na...sorry, lost myself a bit there.

Aberfeldy have just announced that they will play two very special dates this Christmas. They will headline at the ABC2 in Glasgow on December 22 and the next night at the Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh on December 23. Their manager told me that tickets should be on sale from tomorrow, priced around £10.

I have also been told that the test pressings for the new single 'Claire' on 7" should be ready next week. So if you live in Scotland you might even be able to snap up a copy at the gigs! You should certainly be trying Avalanche and Fopp.

So go and snap up those tickets fast! This is a regular music presentation.

Aberfeldy -' Come On Claire (demo).' mp3

Aberfeldy's myspace

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reminding youse all...

OK, I know I have blogged about Pearl and the Puppets before, including when she was gigging as Katie Sutherland:

Anyway, this morning I got another email requesting I post 'Because I Do' again.

Very happy to oblige. It's a great song, still my favourite of hers and one I never tire of hearing.

Sorry it's been a bit quiet round here of late,it's just been kinda busy...
Katie Sutherland -'Because I Do.' mp3<

Then go and make friends with Pearl and the Puppets on myspace...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I feel hungover

...and I don't even drink.

This week's had so many ups and downs it's not even funny.

There's always someone worse off than you, but with the death of the last surviving member of the Jimi Hendrix experience, there's one hell of a jam going on in heaven.

Wonder who's joining in?

Jimi Hendrix Experience -'All Along The Watchtower.' mp3

Friday, November 14, 2008

Presenting...Mr. Beasley

I'd had this in my inbox for blooming ages...and I'm kicking myself.

This week with Aberfeldy's single 'Claire' getting play from NME Radio (did I mention this?!), I've heard this loads and can't get it out of my head. This has also been played on Iain Baker's show and it's bloody fabulous. Expect to see this in the 17 Seconds Festive Fifty at the end of the year.

Mr. Beasley -'Right As Rain.' mp3

Now, it goes without saying, if you like the song GO AND BUY IT!

Oh, and for those people who ask me when they can buy the Aberfeldy Claire 7",
follow this link to pre-order on vinyl from the Rough Trade Record Shops. My first co-release as a record label runner, available from Rough Trade, my favourite record shop. It's the best almost birthday present I could have hoped for...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Album Review: Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder -'The UFO Has Landed -The Ry Cooder Anthology.' (Rhino)

An excellent compilation that does exactly what it says on the tin! Right from the weird and wonderful artwork (Ry says that he was given the artwork years ago, and he would love to find out who from), to the rich and diverse music contained inside, this is a treat.

I have to put my hand up here and say that I am not an authority on Ry Cooder's music. According to legend, Bob Dylan once went to him at 3am to learn to play guitar like Sleepy John Estes. So if he's good enough for Dylan, who are the hell are the rest of us to argue?

Cooder's career strectches back nearly forty years. This compilation includes his covers of 'Dark End Of The Street' which is heartbreaking, and is totally instrumental. Its' emotional strength is solely down to the playing. He also covered Johnny Cash's 'Get Rhythm' in the late eighties, which was the first time I ever heard his music, aged eleven.

Cooder has been described as one of the top ten guitarists of all time, and listening to this compilation, you'd be seriously pushed to argue with that. Whereas some have pilfered roots music and claimed it as their own, Cooder has always respectfully acknowledged the music that has influenced him, be it rock, blues, country, tex-mex, to name just a few of the styles on here.

He is also an accomplished soundtrack composer, perhaps most famously for Wim Wenders' masterful Paris, Texas. This is amongst another twenty soundtracks he has done.

If you've never heard Ry Cooder's music before, this is an excellent place not just to get an introduction, but also to get an education. It was assembled with his son, Joachim, who surely didn't find his father an embarassing Dad!


The UFO Has Landed -The Ry Cooder Anthology is out now.

US readers can hear much of stuff released on the album here and UK readers here

A video clip for Paris, Texas on You Tube:

Oh, and was sent these links by the PR company to help promote it:




Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brothers, Sisters...We don't need this fascist, sexist, homophobic groove thang

Hello folks.

A somewhat disturbing story that I read on NME which can be read in a little more detail over at AllHipHop.

The man in the picture at the top is called Trick Trick. Trick Trick is a collaborator of Eminem, and Trick Trick has some serious issues. The man is homophobic to his core. I am not going to reprint what he said here -with freedom of speech comes responsibility, and his views on homosexuality are just offensive, not just to those who define themselves as non-heterosexual but any right thinking person. He has said, quite bluntly, that he doens't want homosexuals buying his album. Don't worry, I don't think many people will, hater, bigotry has to stop somewhere.

I'm encouraged by most of the comments on the NME and AllHipHop posts that I read, it's clear that the majority of people think he's a sick, sick man in a very bad way. It's time that society confronted this sort of hatred full on. There is no excuse. Period.

Oh, and anyone who tries to excuse themselves by quoting this passage from the Bible can go away. Stop hiding your prejudice behind religious teachings that you have distorted to promote your hatred.

Society is changing, and hopefully, not just with Barack Obama's election as President, but people do seem to be realising that standing out against sexism, racism and homophobia isn't about political correctness, it's to do with human respect. Mrs. 17 Seconds and I have quite a few gay and lesbian friends; in fact, some of them - gosh! shock! HORROR! -are Christians as well. It is, as they say, not about where you're from, it's where you're at.

As a teacher, I find many young people are becoming more enlightened. The school where I teach does deal with homophobic incidents, though in the previous school there was amazement that I'd reported one girl for making homophobic remarks about another girl. There has been the somewhat disquieting rise in the use of the word gay meaning 'stupid.' As a fellow teacher said to one child: 'What do you mean, that chair's gay? Are you saying it wants to have sex with other chairs?!' tee hee...

There's an interesting list here about songs that speak out about homophobia.

Bronski Beat -'Smalltown Boy.' mp3

...and that video

Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy - ' The Language Of Violence.' mp3 [BTW excellent piece on this band over at Teenage Kicks

...and that video

Senseless Things -'Homophobic Asshole.' mp3

Chumbawumba -'Homophobia.' mp3

...and yes, the video for this too

'All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.' Edmund Burke.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Album Review: Escape Act

Escape Act -'Loosely Based On Fiction (Volte Face Records)

Escape Act's debut LP Loosely Based On Fiction follows on from the June release of the rather fine 'God Says' single Having been impressed by that single the album does not disappoint either. Ten tracks long, and barely 35 minutes long, it comes in and does its' job extremely effectively.

The Belfast trio recorded this album at the legendary Chem 19 studio in Glasgow with Andy Miller. Not that they needed any more Celtic magic, but the producer (Fratellis, Mogwai, Sons & Daughters) has helped them deliver a debut that any band would be proud of. Whilst it seems a bit obvious to draw comparisons with the Undertones and Ash, there's defintely hints of those bands with both a bit of nosie and a lot of a tune. In this case, ten of them.

This is just hugely enjoyable, a fresh and exciting listen that continues to delight on every successive listen. Rather like the Strokes, here is a band who have realised that less is definitely more. Pure punky joy.


Loosely Based On Fiction is out now on Volte-face Records

Escape Act -'Broken Chin.' mp3

...and the video for 'God Says.'

Escape Act Website/Escape Act myspace

Oh, and a piece on them at The Devil Has The Best Tuna.

Monday, November 10, 2008

17 Seconds Records' latest signing

17 Seconds Records continues apace...

Our second signing is the enigmatic Ex Lion Tamer, the project of the mysterious Tony T.

There will be a download single to come in the new year, 'Neon Hearts' with hopefully a free download to come before then.

Give him a listen and see what you think!

And go and make friends too, obviously...

Plus our first release, Aberfeldy's 'Claire' single is record of the week on Iain Baker's show on NME Radio. Yeah!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Album Review: Deerhunter

Deerhunter -'Microcastle'/'Weird era Cont.'

Deerhunter's third album is their first on 4AD. This is not so much a double album, rather than a 'bonus disc of brand new material [Weird Era Cont] album in its' own right.

There are lots of great songs on this album, spread across the two discs. The problem is that it tends to be a little disorientating with the sheer arnge of stuff on here that it's a bit much to take in in one sitting. The album is a fitting one for 4AD to release, with its' overtones of sunny shoegazing (or dreampop, if you're American). At times they remind this listener of the Dandy Warhols, at other times Big Star is the point that comes to mind.

Stand-out tracks here include 'Activa' and 'Neither Of Us, Uncertainly.' There's bits here I will want to hear again, but I'm not sure that I feel the urge to keep playing the album in its' entirety. And that's not a reflection on the iPod generation, but rather on the fact that this is has great tracks which don't quite hang together as an album.


Deerhunter -'Nothing Ever Happened.' mp3

Deerhunter's Myspace

Microcastle/Weird era Cont. is out now on 4AD

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Anyone heard anything about this?!

According to this story, which was mentioned yesterday at NME, Orange Juice are reforming.

Does anyone know anything about this? Couldn't find out anything at Edwyn's site, but it would be great. Be interesting to know which members would be rejoining. Edwyn obviously, but what about Malcolm, Zeke, James...?

Orange Juice -'Blue Boy.' mp3

Album Review: Meursault

Meursault -'Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues.' (Song By Toad Records)

Wow. Not content with writing a fine blog and having some of the Scottish Capital's finest bands round for sessions, Song By Toad has set up a record label.

And damn it, everyone's favourite reptilian blogger has done it again. Not content with releasing the rather good Nightjar EP, SBTR have released one of the year's finest albums. Damn you! Meursault have been plying their trade around the capital for a while now, and as their lineup has taken a while to settle, it has resulted in this stunning debut.

Call it folktronica, call it modern scottish; draw parallels with releases from Wounded Knee, Broken Records and even Swimmer One, whatever! This is a very strong, beautiful album. With 11 tracks in 39 minutes there is no flab. Instead, a wonderfully toned and tuned album that makes you want to hear it again and again.

Gorgeous tunes that you will want to play to everyone you know...what's not to love? Messrs Bryant, Pennycook, MacLeod and calder have, with Mr. Toad, delivered what I believe to be one of the year's best albums.


Meursault -'The Furnace.' mp3 (Alternative version for preview)

Meursault -'A Few Kind Words.' mp3

Meaursault's mySpace is here, check out just how good they are.

The album is available on iTunes now, and will be released on December 15 in physical format.

...and for more examples of Toad and meursault related work, click here

Friday, November 07, 2008

Did they really believe that this war could end wars?

This Sunday marks Remembrance Sunday, in remebrance of Armistice Day 1918 'The eleventh hour on the eleventh day on the eleventh month.' We did it in school, like a lot of people. I remember doing it aged about eight, via watching a programme called How We Used To Live, a show that looked at a family in Yorkshire.

A few years later, on a family holiday in France, we drove along passed the roads where the cemeteries are. Even as a twelve year old, it was quite sobering, and the picture at the top gives an idea of what it is like. The graves of thousands of young men, slaughtered for...?

For a long time, I considered myslef to be bordering on being a pacifist. In recent years, I've wondered whether I still would be. I would categorically have refused to fight in the Falklands War, or either of the Gulf Wars. These had nothing to do with humanitarian concerns and a lot more to do with muscle-flexing and oil, in the case of the Gulf. I like to think I would have fought against Hitler, and volunteered in the Spanish Civil War against Franco (the latter may have some rather ideological and romantic ideas, based on reading Laurie Lee and George Orwell). As for the First World War...did it achieve anything?

Eric Bogle wrote a song 'No Man's Land' that made John Peel's Festive Fifty twice. Once as 'No Man's Land/Flowers Of the Forest' by June Tabor in 1977 and later in 1984 as 'The Green Fields Of France' by The Men They Couldn't Hang. Everytime I hear eiether version of this song I'm deeply moved, and reminded of the futility of war. Especially those that use young people as cannon fodder. I was appalled a few years back when it was revealed that the Army were still heavily recruiting around some of the porrest areas of Glasgow, near where I was working and where many kids were seriously disenfranchised. Oddly enough 'Officer Class' wasn't being mentioned.

Check out Eric Bogle's work, and other people's covers of it. I also was lead to him through The Pogues ('And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda) and Billy Bragg ('My Youngest Son Came Home Today.') Even reading the lyrics is frankly, pretty emotional.

June Tabor -'No Man's Land/Flowers Of the Forest.' mp3

The Men They Couldn't Hang -'The Green Fields Of France.' mp3

Thanks due to Steve at Teenage Kicks for his bringing these to my attention!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sweet dreams are made of this...

One of those moments on the radio last week, courtesy of none other than Tom '2-4-6-8 Motorway' Robinson on his show on 6Music:

'Clip from the radio of Aberfeldy's single.'mp3 (Thank you, Dave!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Album Review: Side FX Band featuring Kim Cameron

Side F/X -'Contraditions' (self-released)

It's the voice that grabs you about this record. Kim Cameron really does have a very impressive voice. Their myspace site for the 'sounds like' bit says: 'Alternative music - a blend of pop, rock, jazz, and even country! We sound a bit like Carly Simon, Natalie Merchant, Sheryl Crow, The Cranberries, Lisa Stansfield, Annie Lennox.' Is this a bold statement? No, in a word. I'd add Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie and Chrissie Hynde to that list, too.

Whilst the production may be a little too slick in places for my liking, there's no doubt that Kim's voice is really pretty impressive. The tunes are pleasant enough, if not especially memorable, but the voice won't leave you.

What I'd really like to do is to witness Kim and the band in a live setting, because I feel that that's where they would really shine. And I hope they keep me up to date with what they're doing, and I hope they produce a really raw, honest record. because that's what vocals as special as this deserve.

***1/2 for the album

***** for Kim Cameron's voice

I was very politely asked not to post mp3s so I won;t, but please check it out at
Side FX band's myspace/website

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Presenting...The Phantom Band

Already the PR companies ( those who haven't tried to stuff blogs, that is) are gearing up to promote 2009's big releases.

As a big fan of scottish indie, the fact that Checkmate Savage, the debut LP from The Phantom band will be out at the end of January on Chemikal Underground.

It was recorded at Chem 19, the Delgados' legendary studio, and features Paul Savage from Scotland's Greatest Ever Band in the role of producer, engineer, and guiding force. It was also recorded at Franz Frdinand's studio in Govan.

Whilst i have turned my nose up at some ridiculous press releases that have crossed the threshold of 17 Seconds Towers in the past the description of 'Beefheart meets Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Neu! meets Nick Cave' might actually be pretty accurate on the basis of what I have heard so far.

The Phantom Band's webpage/The Phantom band's Myspace

Monday, November 03, 2008

As the big day approaches...

Alright, so I can't vote in the US Presidential Elections.

But that doesn't mean I can't have an opinion on it. To any people who do have the option, please vote, and vote wisely. The President of the USA effectively has a massive impact on the rest of the world, in the way that being say, President of Ireland or Prime Minister of Australia just doesn't have (or First Minister of Scotland, for that matter).

You know Obama is the right choice. And if anyone thinks someone non-American should't be commenting, just remember how much impact a certain Australian has had on British politics for many years.

Here's a song I thought was appropriate, and by the sounds of it, as been misunderstood and misappropriated for longer than Springsteen's 'Born In The USA.'

Woody Guthrie -'This Land Is your land.' mp3

And remember: if you don't vote, don't bitch.

I'm playing the Yo Majesty LP, in the hope it will be the soundtrack of a brighter tomorrow...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Album Review: Spiritualized

Spiritualized -'Songs in A&E' (Sanctuary)

I have to confess, this has been one of those albums on my 'hmm, must get round to hearing' rather like Primal Scream and Metallica, on the 'I like the stuff I've heard by them over the last decade and more, cannot afford to buy it just yet' list. And now I'm kicking myself at having, frankly, denied myself the pleasure.

Because, quite frankly, as The Wire had pointed out, this is their most compelling set for a decade. That album was the genre-busting psychedelic masterpiece Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. Rather like many other records of the time, it was a fantastic record that did well, critically and commercially, and was not dissimilar in vein to records that followed by Mercury Rev (Deserter's Songs and All Is Dream; Grandaddy's The Sophtware Slump; and of course Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

And rather like the follow-up albums from many of these artists, Spiritualized's next two studio albums Let It Come Down and Amazing Grace were good albums, but just not as amazing as we'd hoped they'd be. But this album is frankly, amazing. A gorgeous mixture of all that we have loved Spiritualized before. This confirms that Jason Pierce (or J. Spaceman, as he is credited on pretty much every Spiritualized album) is a genius. Genuinely a Brian Wilson for our times, who is trying to get the angelic music out of his head and down in the recording studio.

And from start to finish, the album does not let up. It never drags nor dips, and makes you want to go back and listen to it from start to finish again. Like many multi-layered albums it's a headphone work that beenfits from being listened to closely as it yields more and more of its' charms.

J. Spaceman is once again firing on all cylinders. Be sure to enter and be wowed.


Spiritualized's official website/

The videos cannot be embedded as the code been disabled by request (why?!) but here are the links to go and watch 'You Lie You Cheat' and 'Soul On Fire'

The tracks can also be streamed at myspace above.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A contender for Christmas no.1?

Last night I was listening attentively to the Tom Robinson show on 6Music, partly because the man himself had emailed to say that he would be playing the first release on 17 Seconds Records the single 'Claire' by Aberfeldy. (let this be known: to his eternal credit, Mr. Robinson said he would actually buy the single off iTunes. Now that is the sort of support that restores your faith in human nature).

Whilst waiting patiently, he played a version of 'Hallelujah' the song written by Leonard Cohen that first appeared on Cohen's Various Positions in 1984. It has been subsequently covered by many artists including most famously, Jeff Buckley on Grace, but also Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan and John Cale. The version played last night was by Cale's fellow Welshmen Brigyn. It's called 'Haleliwia.' Yes folks, it's sung in Welsh. Obviously, it's not the first band to sing in Welsh, thinking of Catatonia, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and of course, Super Furry Aniamls, who made fantastic album called Mwng, sung entirely in Welsh back in 2000.

Now, what Tom Robinson is proposing is that a campaign be started for it to be the Christmas no.1. Is it possible? It would be great. they previously recorded a version of this a little while ago, but as I understand from the programme last night, apparently it's taken a while for Leonard Cohen to give his OK to releasing this.

Well, I'd obviously love Aberfeldy's 'Claire' to be the Christmas no.1 single, but if not, this would be pretty cool. And besides, sticking the boot into the likes of the likes of Simon Cowell's latest monstrosity, on principle, is surely necessary.

The single isn't due to be out until the end of November, I'm not even sure who's putting it out but hear it here. Pop along and make friends, and spread the word.

Brigyn's website/mySpace