Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Streets song!

Poet Laureate* Mike Skinner is set to release his fourth album Everything Is Borrowed on September 15.

Yesterday, via the NME website, he announced that the final track 'The Escapist' had been released as a free download, and there is also a video to go with it, which features his 'epic walk to France.' Apparently he did do the walk, hope it was less humid than the weather currently besieging me in 17Seconds Towers.

There are some people who are rude about Skinner, dubbing him a 'mockney', but that's their opinion. As far as I am concerned, he's infintely preferable to any wannabe gangsta (and I've encountered them in parts of Scotland you might not expect) and a brilliant lyricist and tunesmith. Bring on the fourth album and silence the losers once and for all.

The Streets - The Escapist.' mp3

* OK, so he isn't technically poet laureate, but he'd be better than the one that we had some time ago, who treated his wife like dirt, frankly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Album Review: John Baker

John Baker - The John Baker Tapes Volume 1 BBC Radiophonics Rare and Unreleased recordings 1963-1974 (Trunk Records)

John Baker - The John Baker Tapes Volume 2 Soundtracks, Library, Home Recordings and Electro Ads 1954-1985 (Trunk Records)

How far do we need to consider the context of something that we are reviewing? It might seem ridiculous, whether on a humble blog such as this or in a broadsheet newspaper to give background information, but it can shed some light into how the music came into being. True, many reviews may get sidetracked around certain details -the unusual release of Radiohead's In Rainbows, the tragic deaths of Marley, Curtis, Lennon, Joplin et al.. but what about soundtracks? Soundtracks are created with a different purpose in mind. Can they make any sense outside of their subject? Especially when it is not the painfully cheesy 'love theme' to Hollywood's latest block buster, but pieces of incidental music?

There are, of course, notable exceptions. Rob Dougan's 'Clubbed To Death' may be forever associated with The Matrix, but it's strong enough in it's own right to be ocnsidered on its' own terms. Similarly, Walter Carlos (later Wendy) provided a number of astounding interpretations of Beethoven's music for A Clockwork Orange which mesmerised those of us unable to see the film, legally at any rate, after Kubrick withdrew it.

John Baker was part of the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop between 1963 and 1974. He is seen as being part of the trinity of BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the other members being David Cain and Delia Derbyshire. Having more of a classically trained background than many of his contemporaries, the music that he produced for the Beeb often reflects elements of baroque and his beloved Jazz. In a sympathetic and thoughful review of these two compilations in the latest issue of The Wire (issue #294), David Stubbs points out that 'the fact that he was unable to come out as gay probably helped drive him towards the alcoholism which helped end his career prematurely in 1974.' Reading the sleevenotes provided by his brother Richard Anthony Baker, you have a sense of the same frustration of a lack of recognition and not fully recognised promise, despite a lot of hard work that brings echoes of both Alan Turing and Joe Meek.

The 49 pieces of the first CD range from little 'idents' sometimes a matter of seconds long, to far longer soundtrack pieces. 'Building the Bomb' evokes the underlying horror of the nuclear age, that it was possible we could all be blown to pieces at any moment. The music was produced for use, though not necessarily mass consumption on its' own, and many of the pieces contained across the two discs are commercially available for the first time here. Yet despite the weirdness that they might have, played track by track, you find yourself wondering both at the inventiveness and the listenability of it all. Some of the music was produced by blowing across a shampoo bottle, and then sped up, or slowed down whilst other effects were added. This preceeded synthesizers by many years and the work taken to produce what some would no doubt dismiss as 'jingles' would have been painstaking to produce.

Volume 2 shows another side beyond the Radiophonic workshops. Amongst the highlights here are 'Electro-Twist MQ Lp1/1' (slip it inbetween some dubstep-style recordings just to see how far ahead of his time Baker really was), and a Beatles Medley entitled 'I `Wanna Hold Your Hand medley' which is far from being a Stars on 45 hideousness but instead takes the music of Lennon-McCartney and makes it reminsicent of Debussy or Chopin. In many ways it is an easier listen that the first volume, but just as much of a mixture of the wide variety of work, be it for private consumption or (soundtracking) very public consumption.

The influence on the music world of the last forty years should not be underestimated either. You can bet that parts of these compilations will be sampled and turn up dance hits, but it's also worth considering just how mcuh spilled onto the work of The Beatles (particularly once they became a studio-only act from 1966 onwards), Brian Eno-era Roxy Music and the Aphex Twin, amongst many others.

The most famous work produced by the Radiophonic workshop was the original theme to Dr. Who. That was not Baker but Delia Derbyshire, and may be considered one of the most well-known pieces of musique concrete. But Baker's contributions should not be forgotten or underestimated. While listening to all eighty-eight tracks in one sitting may be hard work (it did get the review written though!) there is a lot of fantastic work here. Whether you take this as a compilation of aural historical documents or music in its' own right, this is worth investigating. One of the most interesting and fascinating compilations released this year.

****1/2 (both)

Volume One was released on Trunk Records on July 28. Volume Two will be released by Trunk Records on August 25.

From Volume One: Hear John Baker explain how he makes the sounds on this first mp3:

John Baker - 'Woman's Hour (reading your letters).' mp3

John Baker - 'Building The Bomb.' mp3

John Baker - 'Dial M For Murder.' mp3

From Volume Two:

John Baker -'Electro-Twist MQ LP1/1.' mp3

John Baker -'I Wanna Hold Your Hand Medley.' mp3">An article on the BBC Radiophonic Workshop published in The Wire in 1992. It doesn't mention Baker, then still alive, but it does shed a lot of light on the importance of the workshop, particularly when the BBC's music department was not remotely interested.

See here for a full tracklisting of the 88 tracks over the two CDs and even more interestingly, the article written by John Baker's brother, Richard Anthony Baker. This is reprinted in the booklet that comes with Volume 1. It also includes a photostat of the obituary that appeared in The Times in 1997.

Great scottish bands #1: Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes

A legendary scottish band kick off this new series on 17 Seconds.

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes were a legendary scottish band, that also had links with The Fizzbombs, Rote Kapelle, Meat Whiplash and the Shop Assistants. (Michael Kerr of Meat Whiplash who was the guitarist at one point, would leave to join the Darling Buds on tour in 1989). The original lineup was:

Andrew Tully (guitars/vocals), Angus McPake (bass), Fran Schoppler (vocals), Margarita Vasquez-Ponte (drums), Kevin McMahon (guitars), and Stuart Clarke (guitars). Their first single was 'Splashing Along' produced by Douglas Hart, then bassist in the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes - 'Splashing Along.' mp3

The band recorded a handful of singles, released a compilation of them entitled A Cabinet Of Curiosities. In 1990 they caused controversy with their single Grand Hotel, which referenced the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984 where the Conservative Party Conference was held that year. Andrew Tully described this as 'a 'fuck Thatcher and fuck the IRA for not killing her when they had the chance' song.' That year they released the album Nixon, a mini-set entitled Hold Me Now and then split.

Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes -'Grand Hotel.' mp3

The video for Grand Hotel:

Subsequently, Andrew Tully runs Avalanche records, a fantastic shop in Edinburgh. He's still there, and DJs around town. [He recently told me a highly amusing anecdote involving a legendary Radio 1 DJ much written about on these pages and We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It] which I won't repeat here for fear of being sued. According to him, Margarita is now an artist living in Spain. She also drummed for the reformed Shop Assistants on the 'Here It Comes' and 'Big 'E' Power' singles in 1990 -that's the subject of another post on this blog.

Jesse garon and the Desperadoes on tweenet

A post on the band at the Merry Muses Of Caledonia blog

Fran Schoppler's mySpace

Avalanche's mySpace is here. Due to the fact that you cannot buy Jesse garon and the Desperadoes back catalogue in many places, here is a really great place to start.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The return of the Blow Monkeys

Yup folks, Dr. Robert, one of the thorns in Margaret Thatcher's side that wasn't in her cabinet returns!
The Blow Monkeys will release The Bullet Train as a first single from their brand new studio album Devil’s Tavern, their first LP in 18 years on August 18th.

With hits such as 'Digging Your Scene,' one of the first songs about A.I.D.S., It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way, and the many anti-Thatcher songs, particularly 'Choice?,' it's a welcome return.

According to the press release, 'Devil’s Tavern was funded by fans through the official website and was recorded in the Andalusian port town of Motril, southern Spain [Dr. Robert now lives in Spain].. The band did the majority of the production themselves, yet also enlisted the help of one time Blow Monkey associates Marius de Vries (Bjork, Rufus Wainwright) and Adam Moseley (Beck, Dust Bro's) for additional mixing and production duties.'

Their very nice PR lady, Rosie, is currently trying to arrange for me to interview Dr. Robert, so keep those digits crossed for me, and their manager has graciously given permission for me to post this preview of their new single.

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

And just because...

And let's face it, any band who put out an album called She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter in an election year deserve a cheer (if you don't know what this refers to, google Thatcher the Milk Snatcher).

You will also find more mp3s at the official websites.

The Blow Monkey's website

Dr Robert's official website

Hmm, maybe I might do an anti-Thatcher post...
Blow Monkeys on Wikipedia

Monday, July 28, 2008

Album Review: Unknown Component

Unknown Component -'In Direct Communication.' (Self released)

Unknown Component is Keith Flynn, who hails from Iowa City, Iowa. He has released several albums over the last few years, which can now be bought through iTunes. This has been sitting on my list of to do reviews for a long time, so first of all, apologies Keith.

Like many of the better albums you hear, this is one that grows slowly on you. I get sent a lot of singer-songwriters, and the key to reviwing them is to try and find out what makes them stand out from their contemporaries. The instrumentation is what grabbed me first, it's subtle - but the songs slowly start to worm their way into your consciousness. Each time I've played this album over the last few weeks, I've heard something new, and enjoyed it more than the previous time.

Highlights for me include 'Into the Sun' and 'Between Guilt and Relief.' There's some great playing here, some rather wonderful songs and probably some more for me to hear the next time I play it. I'm not going to compare it to anything else out there, I'm just going to let it stand on it's own terms. Just as an indication, I started off thinking that I would give it three stars, then three and a it's soundtracked the afternoon for several plays, it gets...


In Direct Communication will be released on September 16.

Unknown Component -'Into the Sun.' mp3

Unknown Component -'Between Guilt And Relief.' mp3

Unknown Component website/mySpace


Who are Deadfisch? Well, it seems it depends who you ask...

Their website says:

The Professor and the Reverend met for the very first time one nuclear day in the resurrection bar of 'Le Lion Blanc' next to the toxic canal; the sky was magenta and the air full of hyperglymatrons.

The Professor was doodling on his organic megametapad and working out how to save the planet (for maximum personal profit) when the door swung open and the Reverend entered the silence-filled room.

Bored with the hermetic vacuum that enveloped the bar, the Professor turned to the wall and began idly hitting extremely wrong (but somehow right) notes on a forgotten piano in the corner of the forgotten room.

“Play me a blues in B flat” said the Reverend with his back to the room.

“I’ll play as flat as you like” said the Professor “but the only colour I know is orange”.

The reverend picked up his banjo and played.


Meanwhile, the official PR release says...

Deadfisch is a music/art project fronted by Andy B.

It’s a first taste of a forthcoming contemporary anti-war concept album ‘Collateral Damage’ which encompasses an eclectic range of styles from club to rock to opera and follows the story of one young soldier. The album is due out in November to coincide with the US presidential elections, along with the follow up single ‘Collateral Damage (Big God)’.

‘God Bless America’ features ‘Wild Willy Barrett’ (formerly of Otway and Barrett with John Otway) on banjo and fiddle, the Sheffield socialist choir on bvs and Andy’s Deadfisch partner-in-crime Neil C (formerly of Marillion) on keys. Meanwhile guests on the album include world-famous opera singer Ursula Ferri.

Andy B was formerly an Art Director at Saatchi’s and has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery. Fans of his music include Billy Bragg, who played a Deadfisch-designed guitar on the Southbank last year.

To coincide with the single release, a Deadfisch-designed surfboard will be auctioned for the charity ‘Military families against war’ in conjunction with a new company set up by Eden project sustainability director Chris Hines to produce the most environmentally sound surfboards in the world.

So there you have it. Andy B has graciously allowed 17 Seconds to put up this mp3. Download it, see what you think, and if you like it, obviously go and support them. And if you live in America, please use your vote wisely. Actually, wherever you live, use your vote.

Deadfisch -'God Bless America (sample).' mp3

Deadfisch -'Hey Mr. President (sample).' mp3

And this is from YouTube:

The single should be out today on Random Ambient Jazz Recordings, cat no. random001.

Deadfisch's offical website/Deadfisch's Myspace

Album Review: HK119

HK 119 -'Fast, Cheap and Out Of Control.' (One Little Indian)

I arrived back at 17 Seconds Towers yesterday evening to find a package awaiting for me from One Little Indian (always a good sign). The CD inside, Fast, Cheap and Out Of Control contained a cigarette, (Marlboro I think, I quit smoking over six years ago, so it ended up in the bin, unlit obviously). But that was cast aside when I read the press release and then listened to the CD.

This is HK 119's second album, the follow up to to 2006's self-titled debut. It's the solo project of one Heidi Kilpelainen, who hails from Finland and is a graduate of St Marton;s College in London. This astounding album suggests, as if we needed it pointing out, reminds us that in the year of MGMT and Santogold, electro-influence is where music is at, as the post-punk revival starts to slip away, though the gold of that era won't be flung away. It's POP, as it ought to be, clever, sophisticated, knowing and intelligent, arch, ironic, and artistic. Hell, even the first track to do the rounds from Mogwai's latest album has a hint of this sound about it. It's as European as can be, anyone who doesn't get irony won't understand it, and oh boy, is the joke on them. Fast, Cheap and Out Of Control? Don't you believe it...

If HK 119 sounds like a product code, that's because it is. Inspired by Lucas (think C3P0 or R2D2 - are we due a new RJD2 album?!), the album focuses upon themes like Space Travel, Mind Control and the irritation that is celebrity. Over the second track 'Celeb,' over a european jazz sound she sings 'I took heroin, I took mescaline...I had deep desire to destroy myself from within...' You could brainstorm for hours who she is talking about and have a list as long as your arm.

There's a lot of diverse sound on here, as well as the aforementioned jazz on 'Celeb' there's cool electronica and pop. Some of this will slay dancefloors over the next year, but other tracks will be snapped up for TV, Chill-out compilation and adverts before anyone can say 'post-modern.' The Guardian has already described her as a futuristic hybrid of Grace Jones and Debbie Harry, to which I would also add Nina Hagen and Nico.

There's sixteen tracks here, over fifty minutes, and seemingly no filler. First single 'C'est La Vie' makes the Ting Tings sound like a bunch of kids playing by comparison (oh, hang on...) and album opener 'Mind' should be over the blogosphere before you can say Arcade Fire.

Another major shake-up to my best of 2008 list. Expect to see this feature highly elsewhere.


HK 119's MySpace. Go along, make friends, and tell her Ed sent ya...

HK 119 -'Mind.' mp3

Online Videos by

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Time for some detective work

'Sorry, Ed, no idea.'

Today's post is due to Steve over at Teenage Kicks, who managed to find this clip of John Peel reading out one of my emails ot him on air. He wasn't able to identify this song, but can anyone out there help?

'John Peel on air in 2004.' mp3

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Still the greatest video ever

The other day, the NME were doing a vote on the greatest videos of all time. I was extremely disappointed that they hadn't even nominated Cloudbusting by Kate Bush, which I consider to be a way better video than 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' or even Hurt by Johnny Cash, or is that just heresy in this day and age?

BTW, am I now the only person out there who still likes the Stay by Shakespear's Sister video?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Presenting...The Pristines

The Pristines hail from Coventry, England. How come I haven't heard of Jon E. King and his band of merry men and women before? I don't know, but even having a MySpace account is no guarantee of getting the word out there.

Which is a shame, because Jon E and friends deserve to be heard. Their sound is reminiscent of both a)classic indie, and I don't mean the tired old cliches of recycled Oasis/Beatles etc etc.. riffs but rather Indie when it meant pioneering stuff like The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine etc.. and also b) electronica type indie like Momus and Ladytron. Hell, if you still have your House Of Love vinyl I think you'll like this band and wonder why you haven't heard them before. Series Two Records in the US have just released their latest album States Of Mine. See what you make of these three tracks:

The Pristines -'All Washed Out.' mp3

The Pristines -'Who To Trust.' mp3

The Pristines -'Letting The Expectation Go.' mp3

These two tracks, as downloaded from their MySpace, are from earlier recordings:

The Pristines -'Sea Horse.' mp3

The Pristines -'Who Put Bella In The Wych Elm?' mp3

If you like what you hear, go to the MySpace to make friends and hear another excellent track 'Suitable Lies' and find out how to get their albums.

Finally, please do leave feedback, if you download these tracks, even if you've never left feedback before. I really do want to know what you think.

More Peel, people?

John Peel in 1976.

As before, thanks to people who have helped me complete gaps, so I thought I would share some of these with you:

First up, many thanks to Steve for this, which was actually a UK Top 20 hit single the following year, but I couldn't find. Cheers Steve!

Racing Cars - 'They Shoot Horses Don't They?' mp3 (1976 Festive Fifty no.7)

Another beautiful, sad song...maybe there WAS some good music pre-punk after all *tongue in cheek*

Matching Mole -'O Caroline.' mp3 (1976 Festive Fifty no.46)

Meanwhile, those three elusive tracks from 1985:

One Thousand Violins -'Like One Thousand Violins.' mp3 (1985 Festive Fifty no.49)

Three Johns -'Death Of The European.' mp3 (1985 Festive Fifty no.14)

Woodentops -'Move Me.' mp3 (1985 Festive Fifty no.19)

And one from 1998:

Quickspace -'If I Were A Carpenter (session).' mp3 (1998 Festive Fifty no.39)

Obviously, there are other mp3s I have been sent, thank you, these will appear at some point soon. And I'm also planning on having another Shop Assistants fest next week. Watch this space...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Presenting...Chris Bradley

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of Chris Bradley's album, Voices. At the time I hadn't posted any of his music, but gievn how good this album is, I think I should share this with you. He also emailed me to say how pleased he was with the review and that I could post some music AND hopefully do an interview with him . Read the review, then check out these mp3s and go and buy the album.

If you didn't follow it up, then shame on you, frankly.

Chris Bradley -'Hide & Seek.' mp3

Chris Bradley -'Down I Go.' mp3

Go and make friends at his MySpace

Hope you're having a good week.

Presenting...This Town Needs Guns

This Town Needs Guns hail from Oxford, in England, and many thanks to their record company, Big Scary Monsters Records for tipping me off about them. Their influences include Owls, Make Believe, Maps and Atlases, and Braid (no matter how much time I spend reading, writing about and listening to music, there is invariably still stuff out there that keeps me on my toes).

This track is an exclusive from their album, Animals which is out in October. I've now played this three times this morning already and it's not even five past nine yet. I hear echoes of Biffy Clyro and Pavement, amongst other stuff, but what I really like is that I feel like I'm waiting for a sudden, predictable explosion, whihc doesn't happen, and it's all the better for that.

This Town Needs Guns -'Baboon.' mp3

Download it, let me know what you think and make friends with them at their MySpace.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Festive Fifty Wondrousness

Yup, folks, a wonderful 17 Seconds reader, David, has sent me all the tracks I was looking for yesterday. Great stuff, thank you, kind sir.

Orbital - 'Style.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.15)

Sonic Subjunkies - 'Do You Even Know Who You Are?' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.16)

Kraken - 'Side Effects.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.26)

Plone - 'Be Rude To your School.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.38)

Miss Mend - 'Living City Plan.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no.48)

Wheat - 'Don't Hold You.' mp3 (1999 Festive Fifty no. 50)

Cowcube -'Popping Song.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.30)

Lab 4 -'Candyman.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.35)

Mighty Math -'Soul Boy.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.39)

Meanwhile, I remember the film of The Beach being received somewhat disapppointingly in 2000, but the soundtrack featured two festive fifty entries that year, New Order's 'Brutal' (and not as you might have expected the soundtrack to contain, 'The Beach') and Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti's 'Beached.'

New Order -'Brutal.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.26)

Orbital and Angelo Badalamenti -'Beached.' mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.45)

Meanwhile (heh heh...) yet again, having difficulty tracking these tracks down, so if anyone can help that would be appreciated please:

From 1976:
Wild Man Fischer -'Go To Rhino records.' [Thanks Craig]
Matching Mole -'O Caroline.' [Now have it, thanks!]
Allman Brothers band -'Jessica.' [Now have it, thanks, Laurent]
Legendary Stardust Cowboy -'Paralysed.' [Thanks Craig!]
Racing Cars -'They shoot Horses Don't They?' [Thanks Steve!]

and from 1985:
Three Johns -'Death Of the European' [Now have it, thanks]
Woodentops -'Move Me' [Now have it, thanks]
1,000 Violins -'Like 1,000 Violins' [Now have it, thanks Mike!]

Album Review: Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro -'Singles 2001-2005' (Beggars Banquet)

Last year, Biffy Clyro's fourth studio album Puzzle took them into the big-time with a higher profile than they had ever had before. Yet this collection of singles from their time with Beggars Banquet gives an excellent insight into their earlier days.

To read their Beggars Banquet website is to be reminded of already how long Biffy Clyro have been around and how they have gradually grown while many of those that they toured with half a decade ago have long since fallen away (wherefore art thou now Llama Farmers, Haven, Hell Is for Heroes?) I first saw them live in January 2002 at Edinburgh's La Belle Angele (a fantastic venue that burnt down later that year), supporting the late but fantastic Cooper Temple Clause. Biffy were great that night, though I had barely heard their music at the time, so I couldn't tell you what they played. But they made an impression; of the twelve tracks on here, I bought seven of them as 7" singles (as well as the three albums Blackened Sky, The Vertigo Of Bliss, and Infinity Land, all of which I bought on vinyl, natch).

How to describe Biffy Clyro's sound? Like they admitted themselves, they'd loved Nirvana and Weezer, but the band, who grew up in Ayr and Kilmarnock before relocating to Glasgow were more than derivative. Listening to this compilation, I also hear hints of Husker Du and Shellac. Not forgetting their homeland, echoes of Scots contemporaries like Mogwai, Idlewild and Aereogramme (R.I.P) can be heard here. Biffy also made use of varying tempos and volume in their song, the scots indie idea of 'quietquietquietVERYBLOODYLOUDQUIETISAIDQUIETquietthat'sbetter,' often packing many ideas into one song that some artists cannot do in the space of an entire album.

If you haven't heard songs like '57' 'Justboy' and 'Questions and Answers' then you really need to. Whilst there has been much sniping at their old record company from fans, see this as an introduction to this era. A 'Greatest Hits' this is not, 'mon the Biffy!' shout their fans, and indeed they continue to rise.


Singles 2001-2005 is out now on Beggars Banquet.

Biffy Clyro's official website is here and their MySpace is here

Monday, July 21, 2008

Half Man Half Biscuit anyone?

Handed a CD-R by a very good friend the other day, which has much stuff I will share with you.

Amongst the stuff are three tracks from the 1999 John Peel session that Half Man Half Biscuit recorded for John Peel, and if anyone can furnish me with the fourth track 'Gubba look a likes', I would be eternally grateful.

Half Man Half Biscuit -'Bottleneck At Capel Currig.' mp3

Half Man Half Biscuit -'Uffington Wassail.' mp3

Half man Half Biscuit -'24 Hour Garage People.' mp3 (This is the version that reached no.30 in the 1999 Festive Fifty. The following year, the song was recorded for the album Trouble Over Bridgewater (geddit?!)

meanwhile, here at the Half man Half Biscuit site page, there are various sessions recorded for Peel (one) and Andy Kershaw (two) this decade.

If anyone can help with an mp3 of Joy Division Oven Gloves from 2004 (the Peel session version) or even the entire session that would be great.

Oh, and while I'm at it, having difficulty getting my hands on the following tracks from the Peel Festive Fifties of 1999 and 2000. If these have become available on iTunes or emusic over the last two weeks I apologise but they weren;t there before I went away:

Orbital -'Style' (Which one? Different versions appear on the net)
Sonic Subjunkies -'Do You Even Know Who You Are?
Kraken -'Side Effects'
Plone -'be Rude To your School.'
Miss Mead 'Living City Plan'
Wheat -Don't Hold You.'

Cowcube -'Popping Song.'
Lab 4 -'Candyman.'
Mighty Math -'Soul Boy.'

It may be a Monday...but it's warm and I'm on holiday

Oh yes, oh yay.

So, why the picture of the hawk at the top of the page?

Well, that is the cover art for the new album from Mogwai which will be out on the fourth week of september (I can't wait!). This track, 'The Sun Smells Too Loud' is taken from the Matador web page. This is track is playing as I write. I know it may well have been doing the rounds of the blogs for the last few weeks, but I hadn't heard it, so I guess there's a chance that you may not have done either. It's already on the best of 2008 playlist on my iPod, and I bet John Peel would have loved it had he been here. *Sigh* This song is actually quite summery -and I mean that as a compliment.

Mogwai -'The Sun Smells Too Loud.' mp3

Meanwhile, before I went away on holiday, I was emailed this rather fine remix of my favourite M.I.A. track. As long-term listeners should know, I think this woman is cool as, and I think this remix rocks too. (Just in case you care, the original is the second on my car tape, sandwiched between Sons & Daughters and Pavement.)

M.I.A. -'Bucky Done Gun (Tenzin remix).' mp3

Meanwhile, having posted the Arcade Fire version of this song yesterday, thanks to David for emailing me the Belle and Sebastian version. It's cool too. My French isn't sufficiently up to speed to be able to pick any holes in this. Just enjoy it for what it is...

Belle & Sebastian -'Poupee De Cire.' mp3

Finally, I know next to nothing about this track, but it's a quality dance tune, with hints of Cut Copy, Silicone Soul and New Order -any ideas?

Ready Aim Fire -'So Fine.' mp3

Hope you're having a good day, wherever you may be...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Arcade Fire covers bonanza!

Hello folks.

Mrs. 17 Seconds and I are now back from our holidays, so we are now back at 17. Seconds towers (many thanks to the legendary scots indie bassist who flatsat for us while we were away). Thanks also due to friend who lent me his laptop when on holiday so I could still post.

One of the emails that I received whilst I was away was asking if I could repost some of the Arcade Fire covers I had posted in the past.

...well, why not? And a few I don't think I have posted before.

Arcade Fire -'Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place) (Talking Heads cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Five Years (David Bowie cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover).' mp3

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

Arcade Fire -'I'm So Bored With The USA (The Clash cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Age Of Consent (New Order cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Kiss Off (Violent Femmes cover).' mp

Arcade Fire -'Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son (France Gall cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'All The Umbrellas In London (Magnetic Fields cover).' mp3

Arcade Fire -'Wave Of Mutilation (Pixies cover).' mp3 (This is very short yet seems to sum up the essence of the song very well, IMHO).


Friday, July 18, 2008

Some more covers for Friday

Just as it says on that there tin, folks... have posted many of these before, but what the heck.

Back from holidays soon, so expect more new stuff here.

Tom McShane -'That's All There Is (Nina Simone cover).' mp3

Comrade Down -'American Trilogy (Delgados cover).' mp3

Cat Power -'Wonderwall (Oasis cover; John Peel session.' mp3

Cat Power -'We Dance (Pavement cover).' mp3

Jesus and Mary Chain -'Vegetable Man (Syd Barrett cover).' mp3

Teenage Fanclub -'Nothing To Be Done (Pastels cover).' mp3

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

Schneider TM -'The Light 3000 (Smiths cover -originally There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.' mp3

Propaganda -'Sorry For Laughing (Josef K cover).' mp3

Grace Jones -'La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf cover).' mp3

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Motorcycle Boy -re-post!

Earlier today, I received feedback from a reader saying that a link from when I had posted Motorcycle Boy back in April was no longer active; it isn't but given that this fine song is no longer available, so why not repost?

Motorcycle Boy -'Big Rock Candy Mountain (12" mix).' mp3

...and seeing as I didn't post them here originally, why not the tracks from the 7" single?

Motorcycle Boy -'Big Rock Candy Mountain (7").' mp3

Motorcycle Boy -'Room At The Top.' mp3

Motorcycle Boy were the boy founded when Meat Whiplash united with Alex Taylor of the Shop Assistants. Meat Whiplash recorded one Peel session; the Shop Assistants recorded two and had four festive fifty entries in 1985-6; Motorcycle Boy recorded one session and reached no.22 in the 1987Festive Fifty with 'Big Rock Candy Mountain.'

When I posted the track back a few months ago, I did receive a lot of emails etc.. asking what else I had by Motorcycle Boy; this is all I have. So if anyone can email me mp3s I will happily post them here! And if you love Motorcycle Boy and the Shop Assistants you should be checking indie mp3, a totally excellent blog! See also Tom's pages on the Shop Assistants.

Album Review: Rose Kemp

Rose Kemp - 'Unholy Majesty' (One Little Indian)

The worlds of folk and metal might at first seem to be widely different ones, but really, they're not at all. In the early seventies, when the three great pioneers of metal Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the mighty Led Zeppelin all had roots that influenced what they were doing. Purple owed a fair bit to classical, which was why they sounded so goaddamn prog, Sabbath had started out as a Jazz band (listen to 'War Pigs' or 'Fairies Wear Boots') and Led Zeppelin drew not only on the blues
but also on folk. Indeed Zep frontman Robert Plant has continued to investigate a great deal of what is lazily called 'World' subsequently as well.

Amongst their contemporaries at the time in Britain pioneering 'folk-rock' (being folk-influenced it was a very British form and different to what Americans produced) two bands stood out: Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Rose Kemp's parents Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp were both in the latter, and the influence is there for all to hear.

I mention the backgrounds, both musical and familial of Rose Kemp, not to do her down in anyway, but because here is an artist who really does draw on her roots and a wide range of influences and produces something hugely special. So often press releases not only include a lot of waffle but try and make the band sound more interesting when all you hear is the same tired old riffs recycled again and again. When Rose Kemp says she takes influences as diverse as Kate Bush and drone artists like Earth and Om, she means it.

Right from the opening track 'Dirt Glow' the purity of the voice strikes you. While so many fronting a rock record feel the urge to sound as if they gargel with gravel, Kemp sings naturally. The violin of Sue Lord also adds something very special to this album.

I haven't seen her live yet, but by God, I want to. This album yields more and more with every listen. This is not a conventional metal nor folk album, instead it messes with pigeonholes and remains accessible.


Rose Kemp -'Nanny's World.' mp3

Unholy Majesty is out on September 29 on One Little Indian.

Rose Kemp's myspace

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Presenting...Worried about Satan

As I try and work through that pile of CDS I have been sent, it's time to share an absolute gem with you.

Worried About Satan released their second EP, entitled 'EP02' last winter (yes, I know, but it only got forwarded on to me subsequently) and it has to be heard. This band mix electronica, post-rock, techno and heaven knows what else inbetween.

To reach for things I could compare it with...oh Autechre, My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai...but that's just scratching the surface. Dubstep...much of the catalogue of Warp records...Early Sonic Youth...where's that damn thesaurus?

This two-piece band do play live, though I don't see any dates north of the border yet. They are ethereal at times, yet at other times I'm reminded of prime '90's jungle. Sometimes in the same song. If you enjoy dubstep, the EP was remastered at the Transition studios where Burial and kode9 also recorded. It's rubbed off.

The band comprise two friends and a 'beaten up computer'. This EP was apparently recorded in a bedroom over a six month period and self-released to cut out interfering record company hassles.

Well, more fool any record company that interfered. This release doesn;t put a foot wrong.


Hear Worried About Satan at their MySpace page or their Last FM page

Do go and make friends...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

17 Seconds is two years old

Yes, two years to the day since a humble mp3 blog started, named after the club night I ran in Edinburgh once, which was named after The Cure's second's still here.

Much of this is due to the love, support and encouragement of readers, including oother bloggers and also my family, but above all, the wonderful Mrs. 17 Seconds. I know I have driven her mad with this on occasion, but she's a loyal reader and this first track is for her and to celebrate our first wedding anniversary yesterday. Here's to you babe!

Aberfeldy -'Love Is An Arrow.' mp3

Over the course of the last year, I've also started interviewing bands, beginning with Swimmer One, but also including Emma Pollock, BMX Bandits, Malcolm Middleton, Foxface, amongst others, and apologies to Jamie Lidell, Amplifico and the Rosie Taylor project, whose interviews I still need to write up. It's been crazy. As well as meeting Emma Pollock to interview her twice, it was also great to go round to Riley Briggs of Aberfeldy's home to interview him and hear the new stuff the band have been working on. Hopefully the third album will be out this year.

Does 17 Seconds have a brief? Not really, it's a thirty-something teacher based in Scotland writing about the music that excites him. Various 'series' have included albums I think should have had more publicity, singles that slipped thrugh the net, a constant harping on about scottish indie bands, cover versions, and stuff that made John Peel's Festive Fifty. Whilst a fair bit of stuff may not be any more on the radar after my having written about it, it's also great when bands I've featured do go on to do well. Wiley reached the proper top 3 in the UK, Dizzee Rascal is currently no.1, Santogold is making inroads into the UK singles and albums no means am I claiming credit for all, or indeed, any of this, but I like to think it helps. Plus the fact that I still like jumping around like a mad thing to music, even if I am now over thirty...

Sultans of Ping FC -'Where's me jumper?' mp3

Much thanks also due to people who have answered my pleas for help with tracks, and of course those bands, record companies and PRs who have got in touch with me about posting stuff. I used to dream about it happening, now I have a massive pile of CDs and even more emails that need to be gone through. And I do my best to get through it all, it just takes time.

Other bloggers have given me much encourageemnt, and I'm not going to list them all here, but cheers to everyone who has mentioned me, and linked to me. It's much appreciated. Great to meet both The Vinyl Villain and Toad, as well as to chat with Steve at Teenage Kicks. Hope to meet many more of you over the forthcoming years.

It's been an eventful two years, what with getting married, getting cats and finally getting to work t a school I had dreamed of teaching at, and much is due to everyone whose kept me sane. You know who you are. God bless ya.

The Fall - 'Edinburgh Man.' mp3 (1991 Festive Fifty no.4, in case you were wondering...)

Sunday, July 13, 2008


...hopefully the Slits and Rustie files below should now work. PLease let me know if any problems.

(Now trying to prepare for special first wedding anniversary post and second anniversary of blog post...)


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some more covers for you all

Well, I know these have been posted before, but I figure that you might like to hear these if you haven't before...

First up, my support of Lightspeed Champion this year annoyed a few folks, but I stand by it, especially when he does covers as good as these...

Lightspeed Champion -Back To Black (Amy Winehouse cover).' mp3

Lightspeed Champion -'Xanadu (Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra cover).' mp3

Endearingly shambolic, and a wonderful version:

Raincoats -'Lola (The Kinks cover).' mp3

I was passed this cover by the record company, proof that some record companies areaware of the support provided by blogs.

Alabama 3 -'Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover).' mp3

Another cover of a post-punk era song:

Belle and Sebastian -'Final Day (Young Marble Giants cover).' mp3

I spent ages trying to track this down. Cheers to Steve at Teenage Kicks, hope your blog is up and running again soon, mate!

Cud -'You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover).' mp3

Proof that great songs DO get to no.1, Rihanna's Umbrella topped the UK charts last year for ten weeks, spawning these two covers. If anyone has an mp3 of her collaborating with the Klaxons doing a mash-up of 'Umbrella' and 'Golden Skans' please email me and I will post it here.

Biffy Clyro -'Umbrella (Rihanna cover).' mp3

Manic Street Preachers -'Umbrella (Rihanna cover).' mp3

The greatest ever Scots band take on one of America's greatest bands, and do them justice.

Delgados -'California Uber Alles (Dead Kennedys cover).' mp3

There are apparently folk who do not like this cover. They are idiots. That is a fact, not an opinion:

Slits -'I Heard It Through The Grapevine(Marvin Gaye cover).' mp3

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

2008 -The best so far?

Another, oh five months or so, and everyone'll be making their lists of the best of the year.

As 17 Seconds progresses, I have heard about seventy new albums this year alreadt, as well as masses of tracks, and face the task of trying to put it all in order for the end of the year. It does feel like it's been a good decade for music so far, in fact; BTW did the nineties ever go through a phase of being out or was it accepted that it had been pretty good overall? There have been one or two rubbish albums -I never want to hear the Black Mountain album again, frankly, but there has been some great stuff.

Anyway, this is a Top 10 tracks of the year so far for me:

1. Wedding Present - 'The Trouble With Men.' mp3
2. MGMT - 'Time To Pretend.' mp3
3. Santogold - 'My Superman.' mp3
4. Jamie Lidell -'Another Day.' mp3
5. Kills -'Cheap and Cheerful.' mp3
6. Dom DeLuca -'Birds Of Worry.' mp3
7. Hayman Watkins Trout and Lee -'Sly and the Family Stone.' mp3
8. Vampire Weekend -'The Kids Don't Stand A Chance.' mp3
9. Neon Neon -'I Lust U.' mp3
10.Rustie -'Mic Of The Year.' mp3

See what you make of it, comments welcome, but do not assume that it will be the same come December. Oh, and anyone who thinks that there is only ever white middle class indie boys with guitars on this blog is not paying attention!

Hope things are drier wherever you are than they are down here...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A few covers for you

Next week, 17 Seconds will celebrate its' second birthday, which is something I will be celebrating. However, it is also mine and Mrs. 17 Seconds' first wedding anniversary -and no, marrying was not something we did to mark the first anniversary.

As well as pushing much new stuff at readers, I've also enjoyed posting cover versions on here. These have varied from the painfully obvious to the almost violently obscure. So, proud of the fact that this blog has managed to last this far, I will repost a few here:

First up, the 1984 4AD album It'll End In Tears, put out by label founder Ivo Watts-Russell as This Mortal Coil, had some classic cover versions that became known as songs in their own right.

This Mortal Coil - 'Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley cover).' mp3

This Mortal Coil - 'Another Day (Roy Harper cover).' mp3

This Mortal Coil - 'Kangaroo (Big Star cover).' mp3

The Sisters of Mercy have done two different versions of Hot Chocolate's song 'Emma.' The first was a Peel session from 1984, the second appeared on rei-issued versions of their second album from 1987, Floodland, which was one of my introdutions to Goth, not that I knew that word as a ten year old, mind...

Sisters of Mercy -'Emma (Peel session version).' mp3

Sisters of Mercy -'Emma.' mp3

The Wedding Present have done some good cover versions over the years, including Orange Juice's 'Felicity,' Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel's 'Come Up snd See Me (Make Me Smile), and a dozen that were the b-sides to their a single a month run back in 1992. This was recorded for 6Music, I believe, the only Take That song I'd want to let near my blog:

Wedding Present - 'Back For Good (Take That cover).' mp3

The Breeders rock utterly, and apparntly their debut Pod contained this excellent cover of a Beatles' number:

The Breeders -'Happiness Is A Warm Gun (The Beatles cover).' mp3

There may well be more to follow, so keep your eyes peeled...


1976...and all that

Hello folks,

am currently on holiday with Mrs. 17 Seconds in Cornwall and two of our friends, while 17 Seconds Towers is looked after by our two cats and a legendary scots bassist. Therefore posts may not be as regular as they have been over the last wee while, but keep checking up.

The other day I was notified by the Fades in Slowly blogspot that they are doing a feature on 1976 and the tracks that could have made the Festive Fifty for that year. The significance being that a) that year as an all-time Festive Fifty, b) the following year was just John Peel's favourite tracks, and it was only c) 1982 where the votes were just the publics, based on that year.

I'm still trying to work out which three tracks to vote for. I was only born in mid-November of that year, and am coming ot the conclusion that whilst it was the year punk broke in the UK, that there was good non-punk music released that year. This list gives an idea. After all, it was the year of Dylan's Desire LP, which may well be my favourite Dylan album (yes, even above Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Blood On The Tracks) and Bowie's Station To Station, as the man moved to Berlin, listened to Kraftwerk who were about to invent the eighties a few years before they happened, and prepared for being involved in no less than four key LPs of 1977. Bob Marley continued his rise as Roxy went on hiatus. In Ireland and the UK, Thin Lizzy hit the big time. Disco and Punk were not being mixed in at this point, but they were happening and it's probably quite accurate that this was the year was the quiet before the storm. I may only have been there for the last six weeks of it, but galvanised by punk, this was the year that The Clash, U2, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees played their first gigs, and my world is still reverberating from that and the aftershock that followed over the next thirty years. Of course, Madonna was still in high school, as presumably were The Slits, and MTV and Hip-Hop were some years off.

Here's five tracks from that year...

David Bowie -Station To Station

Donna Summer - Love To Love You Baby

The Damned -New Rose

The Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK

Thin Lizzy -The Boys Are Back In Town

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Album Review: Chris Bradley

Chris Bradley: Voices (Splashing Duck Records)

Chris Bradley's Voices is described as being anticipated. It should be, even if you've never heard of him before. To describe him as a talented singer, songwriter and guitarist is rather like saying that Tiger Woods is quite good at golf, or that the Williams' sisters are rather good on the tennis court: an understatement that doesn't begin to get to grips with the facts. Quite simply, on the evidence of these songs he is one of the best. And you can quote me.

Bradley's solo debut is a collection of twelve songs that shows a range of skills and twelve fantastic songs that reflect a wide range of influences. This Edinburgh-based man, who has travelled the world and been steeped in music from a very young age writes beautiful songs, but they are not predictable. This is not an album that takes one song and gives you a dozen more on a similar and rapidly diminishing theme. Rather, chord changes, lyrics and a vocal range that reminds me of Jeff Buckley's in range, if not in sound, making me want to play the album again and again (it plays as I type and I've now played it three times in the last twenty four hours. Expect to see it feature highly in that most important of lists: the Seventeen Seconds end of year Festive Fifty Tracks and albums).

Last year he was invited by Riley Briggs to join Scottish institution Aberfeldy, which he accepted, adding yet another string to his bow. Briggs' brother Murray features on drums on two tracks here, as does 'feldy bandmate Ken McIntosh, and the original 'feldy drummer Ian Stoddart. But judge this as a Feldy project at your peril: it's one of the strongest albums I've heard this year. Tracks like 'To My Ears' 'Hide & Seek' and 'Down I go' are just three of an album full of highlights.

Do yourself a favour and track it down.


Instead of posting the tracks, why not watch this video?

Pop over and make friends at Chris Bradley's MySpace

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Computer problems at 17 Seconds Towers.

Keep checking back for updates -will try and get this sorted asap.

Meanwhile, have massive pile of stuff to review, so please bear with me, and don't email asking why I haven't reviewed it yet. I'm working through a heck of a lot of stuff.

In the meantime, may I recommend the latest albums by The Music, The Futureheads...and The deut by The Black Kids which is out on Monday, produced by Bernard Butler, and fantastic.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ten for a summer's day

Hallelujah. It's a summer's day, it's nice and warm and i'm not back in the classroom for several weeks. Yeees!

So, why not a playlist for a summer's day? An eclectic mix of indie, dance, jazz and whatever takes my fancy.

Jamie Lidell -'Another Day.' mp3

Nina Simone -'Feeling Good.' mp3

Sigur Ros - Staralfur.' mp3

Rockers' Revenge -'Walking On Sunshine 12".' mp3

Primitives -'Through The Flowers.' mp3

Aphex Twin -'Girl/Boy Song.' mp3

Donna Summer -'I feel Love 12" version.' mp3

Moloko -'Sing It Back (Boris musical mix).' mp3

Chic -'I Want Your Love 12" version.' mp3

The Streets -'Your Song (Elton John cover).' mp3

Melys -'Chinese Whispers.' mp3

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I'm nearly on holiday!

One day to go...much as i love my job, I can't wait for the break.

So, first up, there is discussion as to which Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Chile/Voodoo Child was no.16 in the inaugural Festive Fifty, so here is the other one. I have been in contact with Steve at Teenage Kicks, he reckons it was this one.

Jimi Hendrix - 'Voodoo Child (Slight Return).' mp3 (1976 Festive Fifty no.16...possibly!)

Meanwhile, the first reggae superstar had only one entry, but it was a classic.

Bob Marley and the Wailers -'No Woman, No Cry.' mp3 (1976 Festive Fifty no.32)