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.


Solomon Burke RIP

Solomon Burke, one of the finest ever gospel and soul singers, passed away today. Possessed with a roaring, emotional voice that filled whatever venue he was in, from churches to enormous concert halls, he was a huge character, who influenced and played with everyone from Bob Dylan through Rolling Stone to pretty much any soul and R&B singer you can think of.

The Man

He had a throne, too. And 21 kids. He’ll be sadly missed.

MP3: Don’t Give Up On Me by Solomon Burke

The Amazon Solomon Burke Store

RIP Guru

One of the true pioneers of hip hop, Keith Elam, otherwise known as Guru, died on Monday of cancer. Along with DJ Premier, his group Gang Starr made slick, funky, jazz-inflected records, and he went on to produce the great “Jazzmatazz” albums.

Guru stood out from the crowd by rapping about the troubles urban America was bringing upon itself, with as much resignation as anger, as well as making sensitive love songs, something somewhat frowned upon in the rapping community. The Jazzmatazz albums brought his love of jazz to the fore, and were hugely influential. His easy, conversational style made him a superb orator.

He will be sadly missed.

MP3: Just To Get A Rep by Gang Starr

Amazon’s Gang Starr Shop

Buy “Jazzmatazz Vol.1” (CD/MP3)

A Thought On Some Bad Reviews

A few weeks ago, I was amazed by Pitchfork’s bad review of the brilliant debut by Freelance Whales. I’ve been listening to it for months and think it’s going to be one of the best albums of the year, so when P4K called it derivative and gave it a measly 4.2I was dumbfounded. Especially since they’ve also reviewed albums by The Morning Benders and Local Natives positively, pointing out their similarities to recent great bands. In other words, that they are derivative.

Now, Pitchfork, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t celebrate two records because they sound like other bands you like, and then slag another off because they, well, sound like other bands you like. It’s not the first time that Pitchfork has got it horribly wrong. Midlake’s breakthrough album “The Trials Of Van Occupanther” was booed offstage, despite it being, frankly, great. Jumping the shark, as that old saying goes?

Which leads me onto The Kissaway Trail. This may not come as much of a shock to regular readers, but I have an enormous pile of unread newspapers in my living room which I’m slowly working my way through. Last night I got to a Sunday Times Culture section (which, UK readers, you really should get – it’s great), and they reviewed The Kissaway Trails new album, likening it to The Flaming Lips and Grandaddy, both bands I am somewhat fond of. “I’ll give them I try”, I think, and I do. And I like them.

But guess what? Pitchfork can’t stand them. Derivative, they say. Sounds like Arcade Fire, they moan. Well, possibly, but they sound much more like Mew, which, being Danish, isn’t exactly a huge shock. So, in a reversal of what reviews are meant to do, I’m buying “Sleep Mountain” on the basis of a bad review.

In other news, I’m away for a few days, so without much further comment, here’s new songs by Band Of Horses and Stars. They have new albums out in May and June, respectively, so will write more about them closer to the time. Huzzah!

MP3: SDP by The Kissaway Trail

MP3: Fixed by Stars

MP3: Compliments by Band Of Horses

Note: this track has been removed as the hosters of this blog had a DMCA notice.

Buy “Sleep Mountain” by The Kissaway Trail (CD/MP3)

Buy “Set Yourself on Fire” by Stars (CD/MP3)

Note: Link to pre-order Band Of Horses removed.

Gaga Goes Gaga Over Gira

Now, I’m not normally one for posting breaking news and that, but the announcement early this morning about Lady Gaga got me really curious. And excited. If you haven’t already heard, the electropopess has recorded a cover of Swans “Time Is Money (Bastard)”, in an electro-folk-pop stylee, with backing provided by those beardy folksters Midlake.

Lady Gaga, Yesterday

Early reports, from the Italian blog Follis Aprilis, say that the track “sounds like Devendra Banhart on acid being french kissed by Shakira, with a shaved monkey banging a syndrum in the background with his fists, furiously, furiously, until the moon is broken like all our dreams”. We’ll take their word for it, shall we?

MP3: Time Is Money (Bastard) by Swans

MP3: Poker Face by Lady Gaga
(Track removed due to Band Of Horses related paranoia.)

Buy “Cop/Young God/Greed/Holy Money” (CD)

Buy Lady Gaga’s “The Fame Monster” (CD/MP3)

PS: Thanks to SF!

Setting The Scene

More tracks from Broken Social Scene’s new CD keep popping out from the ether. This time, it’s the dual header Forced To Love/All To All. Whilst Forced To Love is a little BSS-by-numbers, All To All is one of those tracks they knock out to keep everyone on their toes. Remember how, when you first listened to “You Forgot It In People”, you were amazed by the constant shifts in style and tone, yet each song was distinctively theirs? “All To All” is like that. Like “Anthems”‘s older sister on amphetamines and meow meow, the song is simultaneously chilled-out yet thumping motorik trance. Ecstatically bursting into a Cocteau Twins-meets-Orbital chorus, you’re left open-mouthed at how this lot can constantly leave you wrong-footed.

Wide Angle Lens Essential

Bloody marvellous, it is. Buy the single here. And “Forgiveness Rock Record” is out May 4th. Can’t wait.

MP3: All to All by Broken Social Scene

Buy “You Forgot It In People” (CD/MP3)

RIP Alex Chilton

In the world of great unsung heroes, Alex Chilton was up there with the finest. He took The Beatles-style sound, chipped away at it and shaped it into his own, pure music, which generations of musicians and music fans have taken to their heart. Sadly, he never got the mainstream recognition he more than deserved. If you want any proof, just listen to “September Gurls”; it’s power-pop genius before the phrase was even invented.

Like many people, I found his music through the recommendation of another band – Teenage Fanclub, in my case – but it could so easily be Brendan Benson, or Death Cab For Cutie, or The Replacements, or The Undertones, or anyone who loved rock music with heart and soul and more tunes than you could wave a Strat at.

Alex, may you rest in peace.

MP3: September Gurls by Big Star

Buy “Keep An Eye on the Sky” (Box Set CD/Cheaper MP3)


Now this one came up out of the blue. Those lovely Canadyland folk, Broken Social Scene, posted the opening track to their new album “Forgiveness Rock Record” on their website today. It’s called “World Sick”. I know nothing about it other than it rocks, goddammit. Rocks, in that flailing-on-the-edge-of-chaos-that-only-having-26-guitarists can achieve.

Another Odd Cover?

Damn, I love this band. Massive hat tip to Knox Road!

MP3: World Sick by Broken Social Scene

Buy this album. Now. (CD/MP3)

New Year New Music Part Seven – Joanna Newsom

Ooh, another biggie. I’ve been an enormous fan of Joanna Newsom after seeing her support Smog at the Conway Hall in London some years back. Having never heard her before, we were all perplexed by this winsome lady in full Renaissance garb strolling onto stage and playing a harp beautifully whilst wailing in an unconventional manner.

You Rawk!

Which is lovely if you like that sort of thing. Which, unbeknownst to me beforehand, I did. Isn’t music great? Anyway, she’s got an album coming out called, perplexingly, “Have One On Me”. No, me neither. It’s a triple CD. Triple CD! I haven’t got time to listen to all the stuff I reallly like at the moment without some eccentric beauty foisting about twenty thousand new songs on us. Enough!

Sorry, rant over. The first track from it has crept out onto tha Interwebz, and jolly nice it is too. To be honest, I’ve only listened to it the twice and so far, I rather like it, but I can’t hand-on-heart say it’s the best song I’ve ever heard. ‘Tis good, though.

As for my views on the picture that come with it, well, I’m not going to comment. You’ll just have to download the track and see for yourself.

MP3: ’81 by Joanna Newsom

Hat tip to Tsururadio!

Buy “The Milk-Eyed Mender” (CD/MP3)

Pre-Order “Have One on Me”

Back to the 80’s with Hot Vampire Chip Weekend

So, in yet another of my hopelessly behind-the-times posts, those two darlings of the MP3BlogOSphere, Hot Chip (From Putney!) and Vampire Weekend (Not From Putney!) have new songs out, as musical outriders to their new albums which will come tearing over the horizon at some point in the New Year.

First off, the new Hot Chip song “Take It In” sounds somewhat like Cabaret Voltaire before exploding into a happy, poppy, none-more-shiny chorus, quite at odds with the Sound Of 80’s Sheffield verse. I like it.

And second off, the new Vampire Weekend song “Cousins” sounds like something from C86. Yes, these cheeky chappies from the Ivy League have moved on (a bit) from their Bhundu Boys moment, to do their utmost to sound like McCarthy, Bogshed or a sped-up Stump. I like it too.

Both bands are also going on tour in the New Year, and I (of course) managed to not get tickets. Will have to give Scarlet Mist a try – for UK readers, this is a superb site on which you can buy or sell face-value concert tickets with other fans. It’s totally free and a refreshing change to those grubby Ticketmaster-owned “Fan to Fan” sites doing the rounds, which to me are just a higher-tech (and corporate!) version of ticket touting.

MP3: Run To The Temple by Bogshed

(and a note to the older readers – never in a million years did I ever think that if I started a blog, I’d end up posting something by Bogshed. But it does bear a more than passing resemblance to “Cousins”, doesn’t it?)

MP3: Buffalo by Stump

(note to older readers – I’ve been waiting for an excuse to post this for ages)

MP3: Take It In by Hot Chip

MP3: Cousins by Vampire Weekend

Amazon’s Vampire Weekend Page

Amazon’s Hot Chip Page

Buy Stump’s “Fierce Pancake and Beyond: The Complete Anthology”

(Can’t find anything by Bogshed on Amazon. Sorry)