Limit To Your Bass

Cover versions are tricky blighters. If you’re a musician, and you love a particular song, how better can you pay homage than to drip your huge talent all over it, like a bear eating a large, honey-filled beehive? Except, of course, for those pesky bees stinging you. Those pesky bees being a metaphor for the fact that most cover versions are about as welcome as being stung by a hive full of grumpy bees. Even if you are a fierce, thick-skinned bear.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this.

New Years Resolution #1: Stop It With The Stupid Metaphors

(Yeah, like that’ll happen).

Anyway, cover versions. A few people recently have mentioned the new James Blake record that’s out on 7th February. Lead single is, yes, a cover of Feist’s “The Limit To Your Love”. Now, Feist’s music is tough to cover, largely due to the fact that she’s got a voice that would charm the devil into doing charity work, and partly due to the fact that this voice – and her undoubted talent as a musician – covers up the occasional iffy song.

And funnily enough, “The Limit To Your Love” is one of those. On The Reminder, it’s one of those songs that you listen to a little on sufferance because you know wonders like “1234” and “Brandy Alexander” are coming up soon. What makes it more than bearable is her performance rather than the song itself.

A Small, Blurry Picture

So, this is a brave choice for a cover. James’s voice is good enough, but doesn’t quite match, oh you get the idea. What he does to try and make this interesting is to overlay some huge bass onto the fairly conventional slightly-glitchy-electronica-by-numbers-with-some-piano bits. As my friend D commented, you need to be listening to this on some biiig speakers, not tinny little computer ones. Or little earbuds. So maybe I’m missing out a little, and need to hear this playing in some achingly trendy Hoxton bar at 1am.

(Oh, and stop pronouncing “waterfall” as “wa’rfall” like some gutteral East End urchin. You went to Latymer, for Christ’s sake).

As for the rest of the record, is it a work of genius or Jamie Cullum with a laptop and Autotune? Only time will tell, my friends.

Enjoy whatever you’re up to tonight, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. 2011 tomorrow. Holy moly, where did this year go?

James Blake – Limit To Your Love by TheDropFather

Pre-order “James Blake” here.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

What is this bit between Xmas and New Year called? The bit that, following on from the food-and-wine-and-port-and-more-food-and-bickering extravaganza of Xmas and the hedonistic fray that is New Year’s Eve (or as we now call it, “The Night Of HOW Much Is The Babysitter Charging?”), just kind of sits there like your spinster great Aunt in the armchair, looking gloomy and occasionally moaning about what’s on the telly.

Whatever it’s called, it’s a bit glum and drizzly yet strangely pleasurable. Just like (ta da!) The Savings And Loan. Hailing from Scotland, not exactly the cheeriest place on Earth, they make bands like The Twilight Sad sound like Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep1. Have a listen to “Swallows”, below, and see what you think:

Swallows by The Savings and Loan

The album “Today I Need Light” is out on Song, By Toad Records, they of the marvellous Meursault. Go on, treat yourself to something quite glum. Perfect for the New Year’s Day hangover.

1 Bet you didn’t know that the band that popularised this song hailed from Scotland. See, it’s not all haggis and suicide up there, you know.

Review Of 2010 – Songs, Gigs, Gubbins

So here we are then. The last part of my review of the year. Hope you enjoy. (Parts One and Two are here, and over there)

Songs of the year

Avi Buffalo – Truth Sets In

On first hearing, I thought this song was pretty good. On second, third, fourth, all the way up to the hundredth, I thought this song was the best I heard all year. I adore it. The lines “Witchcraft seems to unload and say\That you don’t love me anymore” are just wonderful. Truly, if you don’t like this, you don’t like music.

MP3: Truth Sets In by Avi Buffalo

Buy “Avi Buffalo”

Bright Spark Destroyer – They Already Know

A song of the year from an unsigned band? Off their first EP? How come? Because it’s great, that’s why. The moment, about 2 minutes in when singer James Ellis suddenly sings an impassioned “And if you say you love me”1, tears my heart open each time I hear it. If it doesn’t do that to your heart too, then truly it is made of stone.

MP3: They Already Know by Bright Spark Destroyer

Buy their stuff here.

The Morning Benders – Excuses

Borne aloft on a wave of hype, I expected big things of this record. The album didn’t quite reach those expectations, but this song did. Even more lovely in its acoustic form, here:

MP3: Excuses by The Morning Benders

Buy “Big Echo” (CD)

Local Natives – Wide Eyes

Borne aloft on a wave of hype, I expected big things of this record. The album didn’t quite reach those expectations, but this song did. What? Oh. “Airplanes” is damn good too, in case you’re interested.

MP3: Wide Eyes by Local Natives

Buy “Gorilla Manor” (CD/MP3)

Paul Thomas Saunders – The Death Of A Sports Personality

Haunting and quiet. I want to hear lots more from this chap. How he’s not got himself signed to Big Evil Record Company is beyond me.

MP3: The Death of a Sports Personality by Paul Thomas Saunders

Check out more of his stuff here.

The Songs Off The Disappointing Albums That Made You Remember Why You Loved The Band To Start Off With

Broken Social Scene – All To All

There’s always one truly great song on every BSS album (think “7/4 (Shoreline)”, “Churches…”). “All To All” is this year’s incarnation. Lisa Lobsinger comes of age.

MP3: All to All by Broken Social Scene

Buy “Forgiveness Rock Record” (CD/MP3)

Band Of Horses – Older

Saw them perform this live back in 2008, and hearing it again wonderful surprise. Hokey, sure, but marvellous. If only the rest of Infinite Arms had been so good.

MP3: Yeah, right, do I look that stupid?

Song of last year that I didn’t hear till this year (1)

Neko Case – People Got A Lotta Nerve

Great enough, and then the ascending vocals on the middle eight propel this song into whole new worlds of brilliance. So it came out last January. That’s January 2009. So?

MP3: People Got A Lotta Nerve by Neko Case

Buy “Middle Cyclone” (CD/MP3)

Song of last year that I didn’t hear till this year (2)

James Blackshaw – Cross

Astonishing. That’s the only word I can use for this song. Watch the video below of him playing this live, in a dusty park in Spain (possibly), and wonder how much time he’s spent learning to play this well.

Cross by James Blackshaw

Buy “The Glass Bead Game” (CD/MP3) (And you should)

Song Title Of The Year

Swans – You Fucking People Make Me Sick

Brilliant. The song’s not half bad either.

Gigs of the year, in reverse order

3. Russian Circles at Underworld, Camden

Small, packed out club – check. Devoted, slightly mental fanbase – check. Astonishing post-rock, post-metal music from just three blokes, who seem to have channelled the sound of the coming apocalypse to greater effect than anyone before, even Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

2. Swans/James Blackshaw at Koko, Mornington Crescent

Ow, my ears. And please stop staring at me like that. Preceded by oh blimey, how is he doing that? And can you all please shut up and listen?

1. Tortoise at Koko, Mornington Crescent

My word, I wish I’d been to see this lot in the past. I had a stupid grin all through the set, and still having it now typing it. The sound that aliens would make if you played them jazz.

Honourable mentions: Mastodon, Iron and Wine, Jason Lytle, The Xx, The Besnard Lakes, Joanna Newsom. I’ve been to a lot of great gigs.

Albums from 2010 That I Haven’t Really Listened To Yet And Might Be Good

The Walkmen – Lisbon
Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

Considering I’ve loved albums by these two bands in the past, I really should listen to their new ones, shouldn’t I?

John Grant – Queen Of Denmark

Only given this one listen and am slightly intrigued, but having Midlake in full-on Minor Key Flutey Doomy Bollocks Mode has put me off a bit so far.

Which brings me to:

Albums From 2010 That I Was All Disappointed With, You Know (Redux)

Oh, Midlake, how could you?

And that’s it. If you’re lucky/unlucky, I’ll post something after the food and drink extravaganza that is Xmas in L&L&Family Towers. Hope you all have a great one, and don’t forget – a turkey isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for Boxing Day too, so stop stuffing yourself, eh?

1 Yep, I know that the first two songs are about broken love and all that, but aren’t the best songs?

Review Of 2010 – Albums, Two

So, following on from yesterday’s first part, featuring all the records I was disappointed or just a bit meh-d with, here’s my list of ones I liked. Like I said yesterday, no absolute favourites, but some of the songs on these albums will live with me until my brain finally dissolves through alcohol abuse and Alzheimers.

(Part three is here)

The Best Album Of The Year By A Band Half My Age Making Music For People Half My Age


Avi Buffalo
Beach House


Avi Buffalo – s/t

Now this one came as a surprise. On the first couple of listens, Avi Buffalo seemed to be one of those records that had a couple of good songs and one absolutely great one (“Truth Sets In”). The rest was, frankly, a bit annoying, from the stupid song titles to Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg’s annoying yelp. But with more time, the record slowly unravelled to show itself as being a work of a rare talent. A great example being “Remember Last Time”, a seven minute long track that feels far too short, growing and swelling and suddenly shrinking again, before one final, two minute long cascade of guitar solos and general wigging out. It’s clear to me that Avi is a brilliant guitarist with a huge talent; if he can produce a more focussed record next time, and gives his bandmates more time on the mic, he could produce something very special indeed.

MP3: What’s It In For by Avi Buffalo

Buy “Avi Buffalo” (CD)

The Best Album By Kerazy Kanadians

The Besnard Lakes – Are The Roaring Night

2010 the year of The Return Of Half-Decent Shoegaze, and this record was more than half-decent. I wasn’t expecting great things after “…Are The Dark Horse”, but my word, did this lot deliver. “Albatross” demands to be played loud, loud, loud, and the rest of the album follows suit. Superb stuff.

MP3: Albatross by The Besnard Lakes

Buy “The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night” (CD/MP3)

The Best Albums by Previously Unknown Bands

Bullets in Madison – We Became Your Family When You Died

Came across this lot whilst just browsing some good music blogs. Lovely, and a brilliant example of how you can find music in the most random of ways. The way “Animals” slowly coalesces into lovely, glorious dream-pop is still wonderful, nearly a year after I first heard it.

MP3: Animals by Bullets In Madison

Buy “We Became Your Family When You Died” here.

The Best EP by a Previously Unknown Band

Bright Spark Destroyer – Holy Yell EP

Previously Unknown, because this is their debut. And what a debut. Thrilling, evocative, exciting, with just the right amount of that The Bends-era Radiohead stadium bombast to make them a dangerously promising tip for the future. If they aren’t on everyone’s 2011 end of year lists, I’ll eat my hat1.

MP3: A Feeling of Health by Bright Spark Destroyer

Buy “Holy Yell” EP here.

The Best Scandinavian Album (combined with the Nice Dinner Party Album award)


The Tallest Man On Earth
The Radio Dept
The Kissaway Trail


The Radio Dept – Clinging To A Scheme

Lovely. This year’s Bibio. Saying that a record is great to have when you’re doing the washing up is a major compliment, by the way.

MP3: Heaven’s On Fire by The Radio Dept

Buy “Clinging to a Scheme” here (CD/MP3)

The Best Indie-Pop Album Unfairly Maligned By The Meedja

Freelance Whales – Weathervanes

Soundtrack to the first few months of the year, I was convinced this lot were going to hit the big time, Arcade Fire style. But no. Some harsh reviews, some intimations of lack of imagination, and their fate, if not quite sealed, was made far harder. Shame, as this really is a charming and beguiling record that deserved a far, far larger audience.

MP3: Hannah by Freelance Whales

Buy “Weathervanes” Here

The Best Female Singer-Songwriter With An Obsession With The Natural World

Laura Veirs – July Flame

Just had to be, didn’t it? This one nearly slipped me by and I’m glad it didn’t. Perfect at gazing out of a window at drizzle whilst a roaring fire roars away in the background, as your loved one roasts a chicken.

MP3: I Can See Your Tracks by Laura Veirs

Buy “July Flame” (CD/MP3) Here

Albums From 2009 That I Identified In Last Years End Of Year Review As Might Be Good And Were

Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead

Ok, so it’s only half a good album. But its heights – “I Became A Prostitute”, “Interrupted” and “Reflection of the Television” are as good as anything on their debut. Well, almost.

MP3: I Became a Prostitute by The Twilight Sad

Buy “Forget The Night Ahead” (CD/MP3)

Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

Identified last year as something I’d listen to this year, and nice to see I was right. Great album, this, and it’s got me to search back into their catalogue and find all those gems that have passed me by. And thanks to all the readers with suggestions of which albums I should try next!

MP3: Avalon Or Someone Very Similar by Yo La Tengo

Buy “Popular Songs” (CD/MP3)

The Yo La Tengo Award For A Band I’d Previously Discounted As Twee Nonsense Before Realising Belatedly That They Were, Like, Great

Belle And Sebastian – Write About Love

Just had to be, didn’t it? The first thaw in the huge icy wall around my heart came with Stuart Murdoch’s “Another Saturday” on 2009’s Dark Is The Night compilation. Realising that a man that could write something of such gentle, enormous beauty must be quite the talented sort, I gave Write About Love a go. Doesn’t quite reach the heights of “Another Saturday”, but now I’ve melted that iceberg of disdain I’m going to enjoy running through their back catalogue.

MP3: I Want The World To Stop by Belle And Sebastian

Buy “Write About Love” (CD/MP3)

That’s it for this post. Join me tomorrow for songs, gigs, and other gubbins.

1 Hat may be made of cake.

Review Of The Year – Albums, One

2010, for me, hasn’t been a vintage year. No Yellow House, no Funeral, no You Forgot It In People, no Boxer. Some good albums, sure, but there was little that really grabbed me by the balls and forced me to listen. Here’s the first part of a three-part review of the year, with the first two featuring albums, and the last songs, gigs, and other stuff. You can sense this feeling in all those end-of-year lists that have been hosing around the web since the end of November (and, to whit, surely you should do your end of year list at the actual end of the year? No? Oh, just me, then). How many of them have actually agreed with each other on anything? Yes, you could argue that the lack of agreement between anyone this year shows a healthy and diverse musical scene, but you’d be wrong1. It just shows that no-one’s stepped up to the plate and made anything as thrilling, unusual, or just plain damn good as any of those records above.

Out of all the records released this year, there’s been a load of records released by bands who have good form. Records that you’d expect to light up the year. But didn’t. Which leads me onto….

The Year Of Disappointing Records By Bands Who Should Know Better

A whole bunch of records came out this year by some of my favourite bands. From the likes of The Hold Steady and Band of Horses, through to Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens, 2010 had the chance to be a bumper year. But for some reason they all turned out to be some shade of disappointing, ranging from “could do better B-“ for Arcade Fire to “See me after D-“ for Band Of Horses. The latter compounded a poor album with the kind of heavy handed blog bullying you’d expect from Metallica or some other horrendously uncool breadheads. The Hold Steady didn’t recover from the loss of Franz Nicolay, and their bread-and-butter-rock’n’roll-with-clever-lyrics just disappointed. Broken Social Scene returned after a pair of disappointing “BSS Presents…” albums with a proper BSS album that was also disappointing. Sufjan Stevens came back with his take on Kid A – and I think about the same of it as I do Kid A. Overall, there’s lots of disappointment round here this year.

The Almost There List (or “Runners-Up”, as more professional blogs may have called them)

For each of the bands who have been plain disappointing this year, there’s also been a bunch who have released new records that haven’t quite hit the heights of their previous records, but are still pretty good.

The National – High Violet

So near, and yet so far. “Boxer” was enthralling and essential. “High Violet” is sporadically fantastic (“Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”), but never quite reaches the peaks of “Boxer”. It’s a very good album, but not quite as good as you, I, and possibly the band themselves, know they can do better.

MP3: Bloodbuzz Ohio by The National

Amazon’s The National Store

Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

So near, and yet so far. Etc. “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” burst in at the end of 2009 and nailed it as my favourite song of the year; I had high hopes for the album, especially after obsessing over the joyously glum Midnight Organ Fight. Nothing on it even comes close to matching “Swim”, sadly, so there’s a faint air of failure around this. Still good though, and well worth it if you’ve worn out your copy of Midnight Organ Fight.

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

Amazon’s Frightened Rabbit Store

Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

Or “How to grow old disgracefully”. If only other bands could reunite and make themselves as vital, as thrilling, and as plain cantankerous as this. See, The Pixies? This is how it’s done.

MP3: Jim by Swans

Amazon’s Swans Store (yes, really)

Spoon – Transference

Still not sure about this lot, despite repeated listening to this undoubtedly good record a whole bunch of times. The problem with deliberately being all clinical and precise is that you can lose the human touch. Then again, the precision has a certain allure that hasn’t tarnished with time, yet.

MP3: Got Nuffin by Spoon

Amazon’s Spoon Store

Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

Ten months on from its release, I’ve still hardly chipped into this record. Too bloody long. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its own sense of beauty, the coherent vision of someone who could safely be called a genius. In years to come, it may make more sense, or it might not, but I’d like to say it’s good now and be proved wrong, rather than the other way round.

MP3: Good Intentions Paving Company by Joanna Newsom

Amazon’s Joanna Newsom Store

That’s it for the disappointments and partial successes. Join me tomorrow for the albums that I properly liked. Not that I didn’t like these ones. Oh, you know what I mean.

1 So sue me

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Troxy, London

You know you’ve reached some exalted height of geekdom when you find yourself walking into a Godspeed You! Black Emperor gig with a David Foster Wallace book1. They are a band that have tended to attract the more cerebral end of the music-loving public; dense instrumental songs that can go on for tens of minutes and once got a somewhat overwrought NME front cover quoting their lyrics3.

"And On Next Week's Cover, It's Kylie!"

It is terribly easy to become overwrought when talking about Godspeed You! Black Emperor (who will be known as GY!BE for the rest of this post). That’s because GY!BE’s music is music for the end of the world. On 9/11, after the towers fell, there could be no other soundtrack to that horrendous, confusing day than GY!BE; no other music could so appropriately choreograph those billowing clouds of dust and smoke churning through a broken and deathly lower Manhattan (the voice at the start of “The Dead Flag Blues”, all broken metal rising upward4, pre-empts the event by a good four years). This music sound-tracked the opening sequence of “28 Days Later”, in probably the most appropriate movie/music tie-up ever5,. The whole of The Road could just have had a Godspeed playlist on shuffle; it’d all work.

They are the product of their backgrounds; clever, troubled kids, characterised by broken or failing homes, substance abuse, and general teenage/twenties rubbishness. Living in an old loft overlooking the railroad tracks and the wrecks of Montreal industry, this was the music that they came together to make. Clever, troubled music; slow-burning, dreadfully building to endless crescendos. A sense of a coming cataclysm seeps through all their music, with the ambient sections between each huge orchestral explosion ratcheting the tension further.

Where's That Band Gone?

And as is typical, I missed seeing them live first time round, so to see them reform is a huge joy6. Initially booked in at Troxy, in East London, for one night, overwhelming demand made them book two successive nights. Which is, as the Fast Show chap once said, nice. Good to see a genuinely pioneering band getting their props some ten years after their last London gig, and years of near obscurity. The fact that some 7,500 people want to see them warms the cockles of my shrivelled heart. Even better is that one of those people was a charming gentleman, well into middle age, chaperoning his teenage daughter and friends, turning to me and saying “Weren’t you at the Silver Mt Zion gig a few years ago?”. Am I really that recognisable? Sheesh7.

All this introductory guff is here for a reason. Scene setting, if you will. Because as I touched on before, writing about GY!BE’s music is tough. Some vocal samples aside, there are no lyrics, no singing, so there is little point in talking about how the singer (the normal focus of any gig) did this or that, or what the inter-song banter was like, or how the band engaged with the crowd. GY!BE do nothing of that. They mostly sit, in a semi-circle facing each other, with just enough red light to see what they are doing. Two drummer/percussionist/keyboardist/bugger-abouterers and two bassists do their stuff at the back, and the rest of the band – three guitarists and a violinist, play without hardly acknowledging our presence.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Not that I mind this, but it seems a touch odd when some of the people in this lovely, polite and most of all quiet crowd have been waiting a decade or so to see them live. And the sense that the band is a collective with no leader comes to the fore when, for all the thrill and wonderment of watching eight people create this sometimes astonishing and majestic music, something isn’t right. The band just aren’t precise enough to make that sort of visceral impact that Swans or Tortoise have managed in recent months.

Those two bands, whom GY!BE clearly adore, produced stunning live shows by clearly understanding how to make themselves heard. Yes, Swans played astonishingly loudly, and Tortoise’s musical chops are absurdly good, but there was a sense of both bands as finely-honed machines. Swans live rendition of “Jim” was stunning, beautifully paced, and played with utter, brutal discipline. And that’s what was missing from GY!BE’s live performance; that sense of clarity and purpose that marks out a truly great experience.

Of course, there were large parts that had me nodding my head in an appreciative manner, or smiling like an idiot, but nothing took my breath away. “Gathering Storm” suffered from muddy sound; apparently there had been a problem with the soundcheck and it was clear they hadn’t been entirely resolved, with the drums barely audible above the clamouring din. “Monheim” was better, opening with the voice of Murray Ostril, telling stories of Coney Island, backed with old footage of the archetypal run-down seaside resort. Indeed, the projections were by and large excellent, with one particular section showing sped-up footage of oil refineries at night, making them look like bizarre models. “World Police and Friendly Fire”‘s sudden acceleration was stunning and provided some necessary variety. After all, there’s only so many times you can start slow and quiet and build to a crescendo before things start getting tedious8.

You're Not So Bad Yourself, Mate

The set list was almost entirely taken from “Lift Yr. Skinny Fists…” and “Yanqui UXO”, along with the unrecorded “Albanian” (according to Songkick). The only older song was “BBF3”, the final song, which demonstrated to us all that for the real Godspeed Experience, you can’t beat “Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada”, the perfect distillation of their sound in an easily digestible 27 minute bite. After all, “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls”, played tonight, was easily that length too. At the song’s culmination, the band left the stage to feedback and timid waves, and we called for more, but the lights came on and they weren’t to return.

I left Troxy confused. Yes, I’d enjoyed it, but there was something special lacking. They rarely reached the heights that I was expecting, and heard they were capable of. And the one, true test of a gig, that emotional reaction of arm hairs standing on end, never happened, not once, not even during “BBF3”. That’s a shame. I can’t fault their effort – two hours plus on-stage time – and they make truly wonderful records. Maybe this was a bit of an off-night. Maybe they need more time playing together. Maybe it’s just me. I’d love to see them again, though, as I get the distinct feeling they could be better than this. Don’t get me wrong, they are still an amazing band. Give them a try if you get the chance, as they’ll be gone before you know it.

1Everything and More“, since you ask. And since you ask, yes, I’m a fan, and yes, my reliance on footnotes is in part a homage to the sadly departed2 DFW. And yes, how strange it is to be reading a book about Infinity whilst listening to a band who called an album F#A#∞.

2 Or sadly self-departed, since the silly bugger topped himself last year. We miss you, DFW.

3 Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather they put something challenging and interesting on the cover than the next bunch of Oasis/Libertines aping The New Best Band Ever! embarrassment to British music goons.

4 “The skyline was beautiful on fire\All twisted metal stretching upwards\Everything washed in a thin orange haze”. I can imagine the band hate being referenced in this way, but sorry, folks, once you release your music it has a life of its own.

5 Danny Boyle states that the whole of 28 Days Later was inspired by GY!BE. So there you go, Godspeed – your go-to band for soundtracking terrorist atrocities and zombies.

6 Only Cocteaus and The Smiths are higher on my list, now, and neither are likely to get back together any time soon.

7 Maybe it was me shouting “FREEBIRD!” once between songs, that sparked off a huge discussion between crowd and band about cover versions and shitty racist bands, of all things. I did not repeat this tonight.

8 Which goes to show how well Swans have done to keep their sound fresh, and how post-rock contemporaries Mogwai have done well to still keep things varied.

Blaise Bailey Finnegan III by Godspeed You Black Emperor!

Monheim by Godspeed You Black Emperor!

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

Buy “Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada” (And You Must) (CD/MP3)

I’m A Civilian Baby, So Why Don’t You Blog Me?

Last month, I had the joy of seeing Wye Oak play live (supporting Spoon). Very good they were too, with a set list heavily comprised of material from their upcoming album. Bit of a pain that, since I wanted to hear some oldies, but you can’t have what you want in this life, can you1?

You Have A Nice Lie Down, Then

Anyway, they’ve released their first song from upcoming record Civilian (out on City Slang on March 7th, 2011, fact fans), and it’s cunningly titled “Civilian”. Makes it easy to remember, I guess. “21st-century folk music”, they say, and I’m not disagreeing with that. I’d happily add “Rather good” to that description.

More later, if I get round to it, on Godspeed! You! Black! Emperor!’s London return last night.

MP3: Civilian by Wye Oak

MP3: If Children Were Wishes by Wye Oak

1 Unless you are exceedingly rich, or have no imagination, that is.

Buy Wye Oak’s “If Children” (CD)

Transdermal The What Now?

I have no idea why this song was in my head when I woke up this morning.

Good, though, eh?

MP3: Transdermal Celebration by Ween

Buy “Quebec” (CD) Here


A theme this blog returns to from time to time is how the blazes anyone’s going to make a living in the music industry these days. Artists can always go out on tour, but what about the labels that release their records? Records that no-one’s buying1? And how can anyone do something different to separate them from the ravening herd?

One relentlessly pursued idea has been to release records that are more special than before – from the usual “Special Edition” 2 or 3 CD sets, to Brooce Springsteen’s “Here’s a fuck-off load of offcuts and a documentary too” effort, The Promise2. Well, two gentlemen named Simon Joyner and Ben Goldberg have had the idea to set up a record label – Grapefruit Records – as a club, where you pay a subscription and get four vinyl albums a year, by known and unknown artists. That’s right, vinyl only. No CD, no download, nothing, just a 12” bit of polyvinyl chloride and some cardboard.

As an old bugger, I admire this no nonsense approach. Whilst I don’t do vinyl myself any more, what with it being a bit difficult to listen to a vinyl record on the Jubilee Line at 7:45 am, I do still love the sound, feel and the whole rigmarole of a beautifully produced record. And this certainly is an interesting idea; the first record features Kurt Wagner’s early recordings of Lambchop, the wonderfully quiet Nashville band who feature heavily in my entirely fictional top-1000 songs list. Hearing this early material would be a marvellous treat for any serious Lambchop fan.

Their mission statement reads:

Grapefruit’s mission is to expose fans to exclusive, challenging new music on vinyl while ensuring that the musicians actually get paid for creating their art.

If you’re curious, head over to their site now and have a look around at the roster of artists. I have absolutely no idea if this will work, but I wholeheartedly hope it does; it’s wonderful to see people with a good idea and a passion and desire for music try and do something a little different. Good luck, fellas.

MP3: Soaky In The Pooper by Lambchop

1 Well, they are, but not in the same numbers as before, and certainly not in the manner required to keep an industry in fruit and flowers.

2 Not bought this yet. Really ought to.

Who Will Know?

The other day, on my fourth consecutive night out, a friend started singing “Don’t Stop Believin'”. As you can imagine, this isn’t exactly a favourite of mine. Quite the opposite. I hate it. Trite, irritating guff that drives me insane. You could safely say I’m not a big fan of this whole “Glee”-inspired reappraisal of horrendous ’80’s songs. I’m not sure my friend was so keen on me expressed my heartfelt hatred, but what can you do, eh?

So on my way to work yesterday, irritating earworm still buzzing away in my brain, I forced it out by playing Low. Ah, Low. Purveyors of gloriously slow and soft narco-country, they are firm favourites round here. In lieu of a proper post about them, here is a lovely song by the name of “Starfire”.

MP3: Starfire by Low

In other news, I know it’s all been a bit quiet round here, but I blame all the parties. Coming up in the next couple of days (hopefully) is an interesting record label, and interesting review of The Fall and hopefully an interesting review of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. All very interesting.

Buy Low’s “Secret Name” (CD)