Review of 2013 (Part Two)

So here’s the second part of my review of 2013. Part one’s here.

The Decent Album By Great American Bands Of Their Generation

Not featured – The National or Arcade Fire. For The National, buck your ideas up, chaps. You can only moan for so long, especially when you are critically acclaimed and loved internationally by legions of fans. For Arcade Fire, without meaning to sound rude, they really were a one-album wonder, weren’t they?

Runners Up

Yo La Tengo – Fade

Not a great Yo La Tengo album, but a good one.

Low – The Invisible Way

Not a great Low album, but a good one. Ok, maybe I should say a little more. I realised earlier this year that Low are up there as one of My Favourite Bands Of All Time. They’ve been part of my life, on and off, since the late ’90′s, but I never quite got fully – as in, obsessional – into them until The Great Destroyer. With that album, something clicked, and off I went scurrying into their back catalogue. C’Mon was a fantastic album as well. Problem with Low is that they’ve set themselves such a high bar, that anything that jumps gracefully but catches the bar on the way down can only be seen as a failure. Terrible metaphor, I know.

MP3: Plastic Cup by Low

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

This lot are slowly becoming global superstars. Ok, so their debut made them stars, kind of, but this is the kind of album that cements you in that firmament. Can’t say I listen to it that often though; it’s a record that I admire more than I love.

MP3: Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend

Winner

Midlake – Antiphon

Well, blow me down with a jazz flute. I, well, no-one, expected great things from Midlake after the departure of singer/songwriter Tim Smith. And they didn’t deliver something great, but they did deliver something pretty good. Without meaning to damn them with faint praise, Antiphon was a much better record than anyone could have hoped for, and in “The Old And The Young”, showed that they had the talent left in the band to make a truly special song.

  • The Decent Album By Great American Singer/Songwriters Of Their Generation

    Runner Up

    Laura Veirs – Warp and Weft

    Made me realise just how good July Flame was, that an album as good as this pales in comparison.

  • Joint Winners

    Bill Callahan – Dream River

    In which Bill Callahan demonstrates, as if he needs to, that he’s the finest lyricist of his generation. The line “The only words I’ve said today are “Beer” and “Thank you”” paints the kind of picture that a million poets, singer-songwriters, screenwriters and novelists would give their small intestine for. Bill knocks this kind of quality out on every single record. Amazing. What’s even more, the world seems to be slowly, slowly wakening up to him. He sold out a night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in 2014 so a second night was added, and Amazon happily tells me he’s the #1 seller in “Americana and Country”. There is hope in this world, my friends.

  • Iron and Wine – Ghost on Ghost

    After Kiss Each Other Clean, I had real worries about our ol’ bearded chum Sam Beam. The over-instrumentation, the easy rock production, the running away from everything that made his records so damned special. But on Ghost On Ghost, it all made sense. Whatever impulse he’s got to step away from beautiful, sparse acoustic records and turn to massively detailed, lush soundscapes finally came good. Just listen to “The Desert Babbler”:

  • The way his vocals rise into the chorus, man, that gets my arm-hairs rising every single time. But I’d pay good money for an acoustic set any time. Make it happen, Sam.

  • The We’re Not Metal, Honest Album

    Joint Winners

    Russian Circles – Memorial

    As ever, fucking majestic. Lighter and heavier than their last record, and just as addictive. Even features vocals, for the first time, for that early Cocteau Twins aura.

  • Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

    This should, by rights, have sounded their death knell. A series of disappointing records, serious illness, and other such malaise, made me wonder if Josh Homme’s time had finally come. But the brush with mortality, just like it did for Kurt Wagner’s Mr M album last year1, invigorated the fuck out of Mr Homme, and this is the best thing QOTSA have done in years.

  • The Album Of The Year

    Ok, ok, so I said before that I didn’t have a favourite album. But listening back through all these albums I came to realise something. Whilst 2013 hasn’t been a vintage year, there’s been some pretty fine albums. And the two that got me smiling the most are these:

    Iron and Wine – Ghost On Ghost
    Bill Callahan – Dream River

    And there you have it. Who’d have thought that my two favourite records of the year would be by two of my favourite artists? Predictable, me?

    As for gigs and the like; well, I didn’t see much this year. But two shows that I did see were Mew and Television, both at the Roundhouse. Whilst the view was terrible for the latter thanks to train trouble and the like, it was great to finally see Venus and Marquee Moon played live. And Mew were reliably superb.

    Until next year, folks. Thanks for reading, and for commenting. Hope you have a great New Year.

    1 I absolutely guarantee you I am the only person who has found a link between these two records.

    There’s Such A Lot Of The World To See

    Things I wasn’t expecting, relating to Bill Callahan:

    1. That he’d release a press photo of him smiling
    2. That a photo of Bill Callahan smiling wouldn’t look like a serial killer just released from prison early, even though he did all them murders, and yes, sirree, there’s sure going to be a-killin’ happnin’ again soon
    3. That he’d release a dub version of the first single from his new album.

    Sweet Jebus

    That’s 1 and 2 screwed then

    So, Billy Boy has a new album out, named “Dream River“, on 17th September. Call me happy, as “Apocalypse” featured a couple of his finest ever songs (“Riding For The Feeling” still being a regular play round here). The non-dub version of the track “Javelin Unlanding” is below, and is frankly, a tad odd:

    I guess he’s been listening to that Jamie XX/Gil Scott-Heron “I’m New Here” cover.

    Still, when you’ve written songs like “Teenage Spaceship”, you can do what the hell you like. Your place amongst the immortals of music is assured.

    Oh, wait, not "Moon"

    Oh, wait, not “Moon”

    MP3: Riding For The Feeling by Bill Callahan

    MP3: I’m New Here by Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX

    Buy Bill Callahan Music Here (Now)

    We’re New Here

    If you’d said to me, a while ago, that grizzled old soul poet Gil Scott-Heron would cover a Bill “Smog” Callahan song on an album of covers, named after said Smogsong, I’d have likely assumed you were pulling my plonker. If you’d followed that up by saying that Jamie Whatsisface – the beats component of The Xx (as opposed to the echoey guitar bit or the looping bass bit) – would then do a remix of said covers album, I’d tell you do verily go and do one and stop wasting my time.

    But lo, the music world of 2011 is a strange and wonderful place, and such a thing has come to pass. The song is “I’m New Here”, from 2005’s “A River Ain’t Too Much To Love”, a record that’s up there with Bill’s finest, even if “I’m New Here” does fit comfortably into the “decent album track but nothing outstanding” category. Gil grumbled all over his original cover in quite an endearing manner, giving the lines “Met a woman in a bar\Told her I was hard to get to know\And near impossible to forget” a whole new poignancy. And making them significantly less ominous than when Bill sings them, frankly.

    And the remix adds a whole new layer of shimmering noise and the now obligatory Dubstep Speeded-Up Female Vocals. The effect is certainly interesting. Whether I’d want to listen to it more than a few times or not I’m not so sure about. Still, from time to time you need to have those cobwebs in your brain blown away, eh? And I have to say, from what I’ve heard of the record, it’s a damn sight better than James Blake.

    If you’re curious about Bill “Smog” Callahan, see the article I wrote ages ago here. Gosh, I had loads more time back then. *sigh*

    MP3: I’m New Here by Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX

    MP3: I’m New Here by Smog

    Buy We’re New Here (CD)

    Buy Smog’s “A River Ain’t Too Much to Love”

    Tonight I’m Shoegazing On My Favourite Island

    What with the likes of Galaxie 500 re-releasing old records, My Bloody Valentine doing sporadic live shows, and newer bands like School Of Seven Bells releasing dreamy psychedelic pop, you could say Shoegaze is making something of a revival. When I say revival, I of course mean Shoegaze has come shuffling in, mumbled something about it being too early and there’s too much light coming through the curtains, and then shuffled off again.

    Along come new Bella Union act I Break Horses1 with a demo of their new track “Wired”. As a commenter on Soundcloud states, it’s certainly got a tinge of late-’80′s 4AD act Lush. No bad thing, of course. Bella Union certainly seem to be going through a purple patch at the moment, what with Department of Eagles, Wavves, Midlake, The Kissaway Trail, Beach House and loads of other great bands on their roster. Nice to see Simon Raymonde keeping himself busy, rather than spending his time looking over at Robin Guthrie thinking “I wish he’d lay off the coke”.

    Those of you wondering where this lot got such an odd name from can check out this remarkably worrying song by Loft and Lost favourites Smog, here:

    Cheery, eh? Written about at some length here, in case you’re interested, which you’re probably not. Anyway, I Break Horses look like a good tip for the future, don’t they?

    I Break Horses – Wired by Bella Union

    Soundcloud: Wired (demo) by I Break Horses

    MP3: I Break Horses (Peel Session) by Smog

    (Note: this post is a little bit of a test of whether Soundcloud links post correctly in Hype Machine. Not even remotely interesting, unless you’re a music blogger. And it’s not even that interesting if you are, in fairness)

    Amazon’s Smog Store (I Really Have Seen It All Now)

    1 Holy crap, I just realised they are Swedish. For fuck’s sake.

    Songs Of 2009 (Part One)

    Or rather, great songs from good albums that came out this year. Or great songs that weren’t on an album at all. Or great songs that were on albums that I never got round to listening to.

    Oh, just great songs, alright?

    (Some of my favorite songs are actually on favorite albums, so see here for them.)

    Old Stalwarts

    Bill Callahan – Jim Cain

    “I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again”

    Bill wraps up his career, and love-life, in one line. Like so many of his songs, he uses few words to describe a complex and difficult world. And like so many of his songs, utterly startling, with a scalpel-sharp clarity of thought that separates him from the rest of the singer-songwriter crowd by more than a few miles. As close to an explanation of his breakup with Joanna Newsom that you’ll ever get.

    MP3: Jim Cain by Bill Callahan

    Buy “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle” (CD/MP3)

    The Kingsbury Manx – Galloping Ghosts

    “Look out across a silver landscape of galloping ghosts on our heels\Racing and chasing the nightmare’s almost over now”

    It must be tough to keep writing music 10 years after your first album. Where do the ideas keep coming from? Can you still recreate that magic? Kingsbury Manx did it, wonderfully, with this song from the nearly-great “Ascenseur Ouvert!” album. It’s a song you can hardly hear anyone else making; that gentle warmth, that softness, the guitar solo just breaking through – Neil Young meets Willie Nelson and covering an old Pink Floyd song. But, in truth, it’s just the Manx, and if this song doesn’t melt your heart, you are surely not human. Song meaning? Possibly the inevitability of ones mortality, the loss of friendship, finding hope on the darkest days, who knows?

    MP3: Galloping Ghosts by The Kingsbury Manx

    Buy “Ascenseur Ouvert!” (CD/MP3)

    Jason Lytle – Rollin’ Home Alone

    “But I bought you something nice\I got you something warm\For when the weather turns\When will I ever learn?”

    Again, just like the Manx, how can Jason do it? That melancholy magic that seeps from every bar, every note, every little inflection of his voice, there is no-one else who can make this kind of tale of misplaced affection so utterly transfixing.

    MP3: Rollin’ Home Alone by Jason Lytle

    Buy “Yours Truly, The Commuter” (CD/MP3)

    Unexpected treats

    Frightened Rabbit – Swim Until You Can’t See Land

    “Are you a man or are you a bag of sand?”

    This one got me from nowhere. An email from a publicist pointing me in the direction of the new video by a Scottish band; one quick listen later and I was utterly smitten. 42 plays later and I’m still smitten. I actually have to stop myself from listening to it now, in case I overdo it.

    MP3: Swim Until You Can’t See Land by Frightened Rabbit

    Buy “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” (Vinyl!)

    Here We Go Magic – Tunnelvision

    A heady, spaced-out thing, made by Luke Temple in a bedroom. Wonderful.

    MP3: Tunnelvision by Here We Go Magic

    Buy “Here We Go Magic” (CD/MP3)

    Anthony and Bryce Dessner – I Was Young When I Left Home

    I’ve never been an enormous fan of Anthony (of “And The Johnsons” fame). Maybe it was all the hype around him; hype which turned me off him before I’d even heard any of his songs. So this was a lovely treat; his high, frail voice dancing above tender fingerstyle guitar courtesy of The National’s Bryce Dessner. Also wonderful, but I’m not posting the MP3, because I’ve been slapped by the RIAA before for posting stuff from “Dark Is The Night”.

    MP3: Nope, sorry. But you can buy the album here.

    I’ll be doing Part Two tomorrow. See you then, hopefully.

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    Albums Of The Decade (Part One)

    No White Stripes, no Radiohead, no Flaming Lips, no The Streets or Burial or many other great bands. All those bands, and many others, made records with some great songs on (damn, Flaming Lips made the best song of the decade). These are all albums that I still play, still love, and still listen to all the way through. Now, I haven’t gone crazy in the descriptions because I know I’ll get to all of these artists as part of my Pitchfork 500 stint, so it’s 100 words or less. Long-time readers will know this is very, very hard for me to do!

    Oh, and there’s hardly anything from 2009. I need time and distance for this, you know.

    Dongs Of Sevotion

    Smog – Dongs Of Sevotion (2000)

    Your one-stop shop for mordant observations on the misery of humanity, shot through with enough wit (“Dress Sexy At My Funeral”) to keep you coming back, again and again and again. I listened to this for much of 2000, and adore it still.

    MP3: Dress Sexy At My Funeral by Smog

    Buy “Dongs of Sevotion” (CD)

    Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven!

    Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)

    That slow, dreadful build up, that paroxym of noise. They’d never reached peaks like this before, and they, and Post-Rock, never did again.

    MP3: Antennas To Heaven… by Godspeed You Black Emperor!

    Buy “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven” (CD/MP3)

    The Kingsbury Manx – The Kingsbury Manx (2000)

    The sound of autumn, distilled into some wonderful songs. Soundtrack to many happy moments, staring wistfully at the rain through the window of a warm room. If doing that makes you happy, this record will make you happy.

    MP3: Pageant Square by Kingsbury Manx

    Buy “The Kingsbury Manx” (CD)

    Great Cover, This

    Lambchop – Nixon/Is A Woman (2000/2002)

    Two albums? Yes. One is a lush, rich record, with big statement songs. The next album is stripped down, often with just and acoustic and minimal accompaniment. Both are wonderful and there’s nothing to choose between them.

    Great Lyric: “This learning not to demonstrate your asinine and callous traits\It’ll take some practice”. I love that line.

    MP3: Grumpus by Lambchop

    Buy “Nixon” (CD/MP3)

    Buy “Is a Woman” (CD)

    Another Great Cover

    Scary Man!  Scary Beard!

    Bonnie Prince Billy – Ease Down the Road/Master and Everyone (2001/2003)

    Two albums? Yes. One is a lush, rich record, with big statement songs. The next album is stripped down, often with just and acoustic and minimal accompaniment. Both are wonderful and there’s nothing to choose between them.

    MP3: Wolf Among Wolves by Bonnie “Prince” Billy

    Buy “Ease Down the Road” (CD)

    Buy “Master and Everyone” (CD)

    This Cover Scares Me More Than Bonnie Prince Billy

    Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance (2001)

    A few months ago I realised I’d not copied this onto my new iPhone (which is constantly full). When I got home the first thing I did was put on “All Downhill From Here”. For a bitter, twisted, hateful song about how much Jim hates people, and the world, it sure is an uplifting song. The best produced album of the decade.

    MP3: All Downhill From Here by Jim O’Rourke

    Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)


    Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)


    Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

    Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

    Albums Of The Decade (Part Six)

    Buy “Insignificance” (CD)

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    Bill Callahan/Smog/(Smog), A Quick Retrospective

    Bill Callahan’s got a new album out today. As the man behind Smog, and (Smog), he’s been one of my favourite musicians for over a decade now, since the release of “Knock Knock” got my attention back in 1998. Thanks to my (hopefully) temporarily straightened circumstances, I haven’t pre-ordered the new one, but I spent last night listening to some of his older stuff. Just for old times sake, you know.

    Bill Looking Happy

    Bill Looking Happy

    For me, Bill Callahan has been one of the best lyricists around for some years. He has a disturbing ability to be able to say just enough to discombobulate you. Sometimes, it’s just with a few well-placed words that, on their own, don’t seem to mean much, but as he builds a song to its climax, he says something that makes you stop in your tracks.

    One of the great early examples of this is the song “All Your Women Things” off The Doctor Came At Dawn. In it, he describes how a woman that is no longer with him (and whether she actually left him of her own volition, or whether he got rid of her in some way is tantalisingly, and typically, left unsaid) left all her clothes and other items in his room. All fine and creepy, but then he sings (and look away now if you want to hear it for yourself before going on further):

    “Oh all of these things\I gathered them\And I made a dolly”

    You what?

    “I made a dolly\A spread-eagle dolly\Out of your frilly things”

    Oh Lordy. It was bad enough saying he’d made a dolly out of them, but then saying “A spread-eagle dolly” makes you really, really scared.

    It gets worse:

    “Why couldn’t I have loved you\This tenderly\When you were here?”

    I really hope he means “love” in the cerebral, pure sense, rather than the “make love” sense. Or that would be….eeeeugh. And all this is gently intoned, in almost a monotone, over plucked repetative guitar lines and mournful cello. It’s seriously creepy.

    Next up was “I Break Horses”. I was first turned onto this song by the music journalist Ben Thompson, who in the great Seven Years of Plenty: Handbook of Irrefutable Pop Greatness, 1991-98, described this song as “One that can reduce strong people…to heaps of quivering gelatin”. He’s not wrong. Again, Smog uses his deadpan voice, with just a hint of emotion, to describe how he breaks horses – “Just a few well placed words/And their wandering hearts are gone”.

    But it’s clear that it isn’t horses he’s talking about. His horribly detailed eye for human failings has come to the fore again, and he ends the song with the unpleasantness of “Tonight I’m swimming to my favorite island\And I don’t want to see you swimming behind\I break horses\I don’t tend to them”. Again, it’s about saying just enough to tell you how truly horrible the subject of the song is, without any histrionics.

    Early Smog was generally pretty lo-fi, usually just scratchy guitar and drums, with the occasional cello. But 1997′s LP “Red Apple Falls” was a shock, as the opener started with French horns, of all things. He’d gone through a major change in the way he used instrumentation, and with producer Jim O’Rourke, really opened up the sound. All the better to scare you with, my dear.

    And scariness was still there, to devastating effect, on that album’s “I Was A Stranger”. Still a huge fan favourite, it tells the tale of a new man in town. When my wife (then a new girlfriend) heard it, as we sped through German forests on a weekend trip, she got rather worried that I was actually some kind of serial killer. Listen to it now then carry on reading:

    (Yes, I know it’s rather odd to video yourself miming a song then post it on YouTube, but if the Internet has done one thing, it’s showed the astonishing diversity of humanity)

    Right, got that last line? I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. It’s one of the best ending lines of any song – and again, done by just saying the absolute minimum to get his message across. And what’s more, you’re still unclear as to what he’d actually done in the last town. In all the best horror movies, the mind fills in what you’re not shown, and the human brain is really rather good at scaring itself. He doesn’t need to say what he’s done – just say that he was “well known”, and criticises the locals: “And why do you women in this town\Let me look at you so bold?”. Classic.

    Last in this short little retrospective is a rather gentler song, from his last album as (Smog). Now, I wouldn’t want you to think all Bill Callahan/Smog/(Smog) songs are about sociopaths and worse; this song is about how your family can help drag you back from whatever depths you’ve sunk to. To do this, he tells a tale of seeing a gold ring at the bottom of a river, and dives in to take it. But when he’s in the water, he can’t swim back from the bottom and is pulled out by his mother, father, and sisters. Yet again, in simplicity lies beauty. This time, there’s no punchline, just a repetition of the chorus – but now you have the understanding of what he’s gone through to sing those lines.

    I first heard him play this live well before the album came out, and along with “The Well” (sample line: “I guess everybody has their own thing\That they yell into a well”), it got the biggest cheer of the night. By the way, he’s also the only musician I’ve ever seen who does his set-list, then says “Ok, that’s my list – what do you want to hear?” and then takes requests. Having seen him do four live shows now, he does this every time – and he doesn’t appear to be cherry-picking the songs that he’d already decided to play. For a man who really doesn’t seem at all comfortable playing in front of an audience (Ben Thompson described him as “calling into question the whole meaning of the word ‘live’”), it’s an amazing thing to do.

    Anyway, I hope I haven’t scared you off with those songs. There’s loads more I could talk about – even the song titles alone give you some sense of how good he is, from “Dress Sexy At My Funeral” to “Prince Alone In A Studio”. He’s an amazing artist; I just hope that he manages to get the recognition he deserves. And look, no mention of either Cat Power or Joanna Newsom.

    Doh!

    MP3: All Your Women Things by Smog

    MP3: I Break Horses (Peel Session) by Smog

    MP3: I Was A Stranger by Smog

    MP3: Rock Bottom Riser by Smog

    MP3: Eid Ma Clack Shaw by Bill Callahan (from Bill’s new album, Sometime I Wish We Were An Eagle)

    Buy Smog’s “Doctor Came at Dawn” (CD)

    Buy Smog’s “Accumulation:None” (CD)

    Buy Smog’s “Red Apple Falls” (CD)

    Buy Smog’s “A River Ain’t Too Much to Love” (CD)

    Buy Bill Callahan’s “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle” (CD)

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    New and Old Music – Warp and Bill Callahan

    Warp Records have a special place in my life. When I was getting into dance music, they released a bunch of LP’s under the banner “Artificial Intelligence”. Featuring the likes of Black Dog Productions, Autechre, Aphex Twin (as Polygon Window), B12 and others, they made odd electronic tunes with little or no relevance to any dancefloor you might wander onto. Ranging from strange clanky noise (Mr Twin), melodic tunefulness (B12), ominous rumblings (Autechre), to frankly deranged alien-jazz glitchiness (Black Dog)1, it was an explosion of invention when most people were panting over the dreadful retro-ness of Stone Roses and bloody Primal Scream.

    So, taking their oddness fully to my heart, I listened to those albums again and again and again. Great driving music (I used to regularly drive 300 miles in a Morris Minor so you need something to distract you from the fact that the wheels are going to come off if you go above 90), great comedown music, and quite good fun to scare friends, family and neighbours with. After the label’s electronic start, they diversified into everything from Grizzly Bear to Jamie Liddell. As important a label to music as Rough Trade, or 4AD, or Factory, or SST, they are the work of pure genius.

    Amazingly, it’s their 20th anniversary this year, and they’ve done gone and set up a little vote for us to go and choose our favourite tracks. The top 20 will be released on a compilation later this year. So go on, register, and vote. I’m loftandlost by the way.

    Any excuse to post this:

    Rather different to Intelligent Techno is the work of Bill Callahan (Smog). A longtime favourite of mine, he’s made some truly jaw-dropping music over the last fifteen years or so. Listening to “Teenage Spaceship” whilst driving through the Taunus mountains near Frankfurt one summers evening as dusk drew in, is one of my happiest moments on this sweet earth. Strange what makes some people happy, isn’t it?

    Look, a horsie!

    Look, a horsie!

    Ol’ Bill has moved to Austin, Texas (lovely place) and has recorded a new album which is out on April 14th. “Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle” is his thirteenth album, and he’s brought back the horns and violins for this one. Whilst not quite as unexpected as on “Red Apple Falls”, they add some welcome colour to the songs. Of which I have one here, the oddly titled “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”. In it, he tells a tale of dreaming the “perfect song”, only when he wakes, and scribbles down the words, they read “Eid Ma Clack Shaw”. All the keystone Callahan-isms are there, from his sardonic baritone, to the dry, black humour in his lyrics. Bodes well for the album. Let’s hope it’s better than M Ward’s or Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s latest, eh?

    1 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Timbaland totally nicked Black Dog’s ideas, toned them down a bit, then chucked some rappers over the top. Not to belittle him one bit – he’s fantastic – but it would be great for the originators of that clicky, glitchy sound to get some recognition.

    MP3: Caz by Black Dog Productions

    MP3: Eid Ma Clack Shaw by Bill Callahan

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    Some New Old Music – Grizzly Bear, Here We Go Magic, Devendra Banhart

    Little bits and bobs of Grizzly Bear’s new album keep creeping out, mostly live versions. It’s likely to be one of the highlights of 2009 (well, musical ones anyway), and their last album Yellow House was my most played album of 2008. Yes, yes, I know it came out in 2006. I was busy, ok? (and on that note, whilst I would love to be able to post funky new tunes every day, I really am not disciplined enough to find great things every day. There’s loads of fantastic places for that, and you can find some on the right hand side of this blog. Sorry, rant over. Anyway, next I’ll be finding a great new collective from Toronto called Broken Social Something or other and posting their stuff soon. Oh ok, only kidding)

    Anyway, courtesy of Gorilla Vs Bear, here’s a lovely new-ish live track, called Cheerleader. Certainly promising, and Lord only knows what it’ll sound like after being put through the famous Grizzly Bear Studio Technique. Probably uniquely wonderful in that Grizzly Bear way.

    And whilst we’re on the subject of new albums, here’s a lovely tune from some people called Here We Go Magic. Now I must admit, I know very little about them, but this tune is a charming little bit of dreamy pop. And they are liked by Grizzly Bear. And they like Department of Eagles. Anyone see a connection?
    (In fact, just listening to it yet again, it’s a bit of an earworm this one. I rather likes it)

    And lastly, Kath Bloom, another person about whom I know next to nothing (shame on me) has an album out, consisting of covers by, amongst others, L&L faves Bill Callahan (Smog) and Devendra Banhart, plus an additional sort-of-best-of. Well worth a listen, I say.

    Speaking of which, I’ve just got to post some Bill Callahan/Smog stuff soon. I love him, but not in that way.

    Cheerleader (Live) by Grizzly Bear

    Forget About Him (Kath Bloom cover) by Devendra Banhart

    Tunnelvision by Here We Go Magic

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