Due to something happening that could best be described as “pretty fucking shit”, it’s going to be a bit quiet around here for another week or so.


Not Post-Rock, Or Swedish

T’other day, I was thinking about my current music tastes, and it came down to a couple of choices. Either sprawling post-rock odysseys like Mogwai and Tortoise, or lonesome country/folk-tinged singer-songwriters like Iron and Wine (more tomorrow), John Grant, some Elliott Smith, with some dreamy psych-pop like the wonderful Cotton Jones thrown in for good measure.

Where does today’s artist James Vincent McMorrow fit in? Oh, I wonder:

Bet He's Not Written A Song Called "Yinxianghechengqi"

Oddly sybaritic instrumental post-rock played by aliens then, clearly.

Yes, he’s lived in a shack in the middle of nowhere, and yes, his music bears something of a similarity to ol’ lonesome Bon Iver1, but trust me on this, he’s much, much better. He has the voice of a Sam Beam who’s been drinking too much Jim Beam (see what I did there?), a cunning eye for a tune that worms its way inside your head, and wraps it all in lovely, warm guitar and gives you that cuddled up in a duvet on a cold day feel.

James Vincent Mcmorrow – This Old Dark Machine by partisanpr

The debut album’s out tomorrow, fact fans, and is called “Early In The Morning”, and is available here.

1 Whose music I must say I find a bit fucking tedious.

Oh Oh Oh Something

A bit of swearing goes a long, long way. The corollary of this is that a lot of swearing goes fucking miles. Especially when the music isn’t some thrashy noise like Rage Against The Machine’s excellent “Killing In The Name Of”, but a gentle, neo-folk, plucked guitar string affair with one of those harmonium things warbling over the top. This particular number comes from Darren Hayman, ex of Hefner (remember them?), featuring Elizabeth Morris on vocals.

I Know I Fucked Up (Sung By Elizabeth Morris) by Darren Hayman

Isn’t this just fucking lovely? Darren Hayman is releasing one song for every day of January, which is a brave move, if you ask me, which you didn’t. More details on his web page here, and good luck to him. If they are all the same quality as this beaut, he’s onto a winner.

SOUPS (And The Cure)

On the Tube home tonight, coming home from work, I was visited by SOUPS. That’s Sudden Onset Unexplained Pissed-Off Syndrome. Just a surprising and unexpected bit of grumpiness. And the only thing I could find to cheer me up was John Grant’s marvellously cantankerous “Chicken Bones”, which starts off as apparently chirpy easy-rock before rapidly descending into massive cob-on territory.

Fantastic. I think I’m finally starting to grow to like last year’s Queen Of Denmark, despite being a bit grumpy about it originally.

I’m not always grumpy, you know, honest. Come back tomorrow for some more swearing.

MP3: Chicken Bones by John Grant

Buy “Queen Of Denmark” Here (CD)



Blah blah blah blah blah.

Whatever I try and write at the moment just won’t come out right. There’s all sorts of stuff I could write about – new music, Mogwai’s new record, loads of interesting stuff I’ve been sent, even the long-lost Pitchfork Metal post, but it’s just not working.

Maybe it’s the whole New Year thing. The pressure of listening to new music early on in the year has sent my music brain off into the safe haven of old Grizzly Bear and Mogwai records, and I even caught myself listening to Townes Van Zandt the other day. And then again this morning. You know what, if you’ve not heard his stuff before, and you like wistful tales of western woe, sung by a man who’s voice sounds like it’s seen everything this world has to offer, twice, then Townes is your man.

My own personal introduction came via the Tindersticks cover of “Kathleen”, especially once I saw them live. After they played their version to rapturous applause, Stuart “Club Singer” Staples mumbled into the microphone “Don’t clap us. The original is much better”. If that sort of behaviour doesn’t get you running into the arms of ol’ Townes, what will?

But rather than post “Kathleen”, I’m going to post “For The Sake Of The Song”, because I just love it.

MP3: For The Sake Of The Song by Townes Van Zandt

Oh, and the Drake/Peter, Bjorn and John tune I posted yesterday didn’t appear in Hype Machine, so let’s try it again:

MP3: Let’s Call It Off by Drake

Buy “Drama Falls Like Teardrops” (Townes Van Zandt Best Of)

Not About A Duck

All this hipster rap thing – Kid Cudi, Drake, even Kanye himself – has pretty much passed me by. Sure, I’ve heard stuff here and there, and even listed to a bit of Kanye back in the College Dropout days. But the tunes that have been floating round Hype Machine and the likes just haven’t floated my boat.

So when a friend lent me her iPod to listen to some Drake songs, I wasn’t expecting much. I guess you’re now expecting me to say that my mind was blown, right? Well, it wasn’t. Caught you out there, eh? One song aside, I can safely say that I’m much happier listening to Nick. Nick Drake. Geddit? Sorry.

Drake Relaxing In His Pool, Yesterday

But then there was that one song, and funnily enough it’s one featuring Swedish indiekids Peter, Björn and Jöhn. Who despite being Swedish, and all fey and indie-like, I don’t much like. But this tune is great. How can you not love those handclaps? And it only came out, what, two years ago? Finger on the pulse round here, as usual.

MP3: Drake – Let’s Call It Off

And yep, I know I’ve been quiet. Writers block. On which, more tomorrow.

Buy Drake’s stuff from Amazon’s Drake Store

Cotton Pickin’ Tunes

One of the joys of end-of-year lists is to stumble across something that you missed entirely and realising that, if you hadn’t, it’d be nestling happily in your own end-of-year list. So far that honour goes to Cotton Jones‘s “Tall Hours In The Glowstream”, as recommended by the marvellous Song, By Toad.

There’s nothing particularly new about Cotton Jones’s sound, but what they do is marvellous; the kind of sound that nuzzles up to you gently before sucking you into their dreamy world. A world which I know precious little about, and to be honest, I’m quite happy to not know any more about them. I mean, they look like nice people:

Makers Of A Lovely Record

But sometimes it’s good to fall in love with a record and know nowt about the band. Like with Canyon, or Kingsbury Manx. Funnily enough, there’s something in the Cotton Jones sound which reminds me of those two bands; hazy, gently countryfied dreamy psych-rock, the sort of sound that pushes all sorts of buttons.

Go on, give them a try, and I’m sure you’ll do exactly what I did and order the album as soon as you’ve heard this:

MP3: Sail Of The Silver Morning by Cotton Jones

Buy Tall Hours in the Glowstream from Amazon.

New Year New Music – REM

Hey, there’s this unknown band hailing from Athens, Georgia, who’ve got an album out soon that everyone, but everyone, is going to be raving about. They’re called REM and…

*phone rings in background*

“What? Everyone’s heard of them? They are one of the biggest-selling artists of all time? Really? I’ve written about them before, you say? Really? Gosh. Maybe I shouldn’t put them in my New Year New Music articles then? Really? You don’t think anyone gives a toss? Fair enough.”

Tortured introductions aside, REM have a record out soon-ish. It’s called “Collapse Into Now” and they’ve been busy giving out MP3’s and doing videos and blog posts and all sorts over at their website here. Me, being me, have totally missed all this. But I haven’t missed this new track, “Oh My Heart”, which gives every impression of being an actual, proper, quite good REM song. Yes, wonders will never cease. They haven’t exactly been great, the last few records, so let’s hope that they have got their mojo back and do something as good as “Automatic For The People”. Go on, chaps.

Oh My Heart by REM:

Speaking of their mojo, they’ve clearly got the Bonkers Mogwai Song Naming Mojo1 thing going by calling their songs “Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I”, “Mine Smell Like Honey” and “Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter”. There’s more information on NPR here.

Oh, and it’s Michael Stipe’s birthday today, which he shares with my mate Bill. Happy birthday fellas.

Pre-order the album here.

1 See
here for more. “George Square Thatcher Death Party” is my favourite so far.

New Year New Music 2011 – Rachel Sermanni

So here we go again. A new year, and lots of new music to post. First off, it’s a young lady named Rachel Sermanni who hails from the Highland town of Carrbridge. Looks chilly.

A Bridge In Carr

An acoustic singer-songwriter, she has a marvellous voice which has been likened to Harriet Wheeler mixed with Liz Fraser by none other than John Grant. If you ask me, she’s definitely more like Wheeler than Fraser, but who can complain about being compared to two such great singers? Currently unsigned, she’s got some songs up on her Myspace page, and there are some lovely live videos on YouTube, like this one:

For a youngster, she’s surely got some great songs – gentle, soft country inflected folk-pop. This year’s Caitlin Rose1 or Laura Marling, anyone? Here’s “Eggshells”, a gorgeous little number perfect for a chilly winter’s day. Enjoy.

MP3: Eggshells by Rachel Sermanni

1 I’ve listened to Own Side Now twice already today. At this rate I’m going to intersperse these NYNM posts with posts on the music I didn’t listen to much in 2010….

Look At What The New Year Did Now

First off, Happy New Year. Hope your head is ok. Mine is, thanks to not really drinking last night. Hurrah!

Following on from yesterday’s post on James Blake, I was reminded of the lovely duet between Feist and some fellow called Little Wings. Or rather, he’s called Kyle Fields. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of him before, but he’s definitely doing the whole beard and nice singing thang rather well. Feist seems fond of him too.

Isn’t that just the thing to soothe a troubled brow? The video’s from the new Feist documentary named “Look At What The Light Did Now“, now available from Amazon.

MP3: Look At What The Light Did Now by Feist and Little Wings

(MP3 from I Am Fuel, You Are Friends)