Happy Mew Year!

What’s he doing now? “Happy Mew Year”? Christ, it’s April. Not even the start of April, which even by his standards is dismal. He’s cast me aside and then picks me up again to do a new post about Mew? With a bleedin’ awful pun that he’s used before?

Honestly, I don’t know why he doesn’t just pack it all in. Eight posts last year, and now it’s the 18th April and he takes it upon himself to try and post the new news that was released two months ago. What’s worse, I know from his phone, that cheeky little scamp, that he even watched the video on the day it was released. He could have got home, spent a few minutes on that snazzy PC of his and bish, bash, bosh, new post, sit down for dinner with his lovely wife. And then he could have got going on all the other cracking stuff he’s been listening to, like Dan Mangan and Father John Misty and all that Aphex Twin stuff and the Go Betweens box set and all that, rather than staring into the middle distance and deciding whether to play Elite:Dangerous or Shadows Of Mordor. Such a geek, I tell you. Could be worse, I suppose. Could be DOTA.

Where was I? Oh yes, he could have said something about their gig at the Roundhouse in May. Or what the new album’s called. But no. One shabby re-used pun. Lazy little blighter.

And he missed my birthday too.


(Mew’s new album, +- <sup>1</sup> is out 28th April. New songs below, and they are pretty fine)

1 Yes, really.

Are Eggs Funny? No.

Regular readers will know I am a huge fan of Danish prog-pop-rockers Mew. Why? Well, because they are great, that’s why.

If you’re not so sure about their brand of hugely tuneful and equally hugely complex Scandi-psych-pop then they’ve made your life easy by releasing a compilation, cunningly entitled “Eggs Are Funny”. Look, at least it isn’t called “No more stories Are told today I’m sorry They washed away No more stories The world is grey I’m tired Let’s wash away”.

At Last, A Mew Record Cover That Doesn't Make You Want To Claw Your Eyes Out

You can’t argue much1 with the track listing either, nor the fact that there’s a DVD thrown in for good measure. If you want an introduction to the marvellous world of Mew, you can’t get much better than this:

1. Am I Wry? No
2. Snow Brigade
3. Beach
4. Introducing Palace Players
5. Silas The Magic Car
6. Wheels Over Me
7. Saliva
8. She Came Home For Christmas
9. Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy
10. Do You Love It
11. Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed
12. 156
13. Special
14. The Zookeepers Boy
15. Comforting Sounds

Go. Go buy. Now. Don’t make me come and beat you.

1 What, no “Hawaii”?

MP3: Do You Love It by Mew

Customers Who Bought This Also Liked

Back in the dark, dim mists of time (oh ok then, April), I mused away on some bad reviews Pitchfork had given two artists – Freelance Whales and The Kissaway Trail. The former had released one of my favourite records of the year, and the latter had piqued my curiosity thanks to a little (or rather quite long) tune named “SDP”. Which, I have been reliably informed, is not about David Owen’s lot.

So, fast forwarding half a year, I hadn’t really got round to listening much to The Kissaway Trail’s album that much. Stuff got in the way, you know. But I remembered how Pitchfork said that they were just like The Arcade Fire, only worse, and how I thought Arcade Fire’s new album was like “Funeral”, only worse. A little lightbulb went on in my head. Going back to “Sleep Mountain” might cure those Arcade Fire blues. And guess what? They did.

Because they aren’t just a cheap pale Scandinavian Ikea pine copy of Arcade Fire’s expensive mahogany Habitat coffee table. Not at all. There’s lots more going on under the surface, lots of little touches and details that Scandinavians seem to be excelling at. If anything, there’s more Mew to them than anything; and a hefty dose of fellow Scandis Aerial and Mixtapes and Cellmates. The album’s been keeping me company on my long commute for the best part of a week now, and is safely ensconsing itself into the nascent Albums Of 2010 list slowly forming in my head.

So, feeling not quite enraptured by Arcade Fire’s latest? Try The Kissaway Trail. It might be just what you’re after.

MP3: Beat Your Heartbeat by The Kissaway Trail

MP3: We Used To Wait by Arcade Fire

Amazon’s The Kissaway Trail Store

Amazon’s Arcade Fire Store

Albums of 2009

After many months of deliberation here at L&L Towers (ok, it’s just me sitting there looking out of the window trying to remember what on earth I’d done all year), I’ve put together my top albums of the year. Like the Albums of the Decade (starting here), the idea was to only choose albums which I happily listen to all the way through, and had listened to a whole bunch of times. This time, rather than the album art, I’ve gone for YouTube videos. Enjoy!

The Top 5, not in any kind of order, except the first one.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

Horrifyingly predictable for anyone who’s spent any time reading this blog. Whilst it’s not quite up there with Yellow House, still more detailed, more melodic, more emotional and more surprising than pretty much anything else that came out this year. Returning to it after a few weeks absence has got me playing “All We Ask” many times a day. A thing of sheer, dark beauty which slowly unravels itself into your brain, like some odd robotic monster.

(Is this the oddest video of the year, or what?)

MP3: Cheerleader (Live) by Grizzly Bear

Buy “Veckatimest: Special Edition” (CD)

The Xx – Xx

Came out of nowhere, made by teenagers, and wonderfully quiet. The bastard child of Low and Burial. Talked about at some length here.

MP3: Crystalised by The Xx

Buy “XX” (CD/MP3)

Metric – Fantasies

Many people found this too shiny and strident. For me, it was the soundtrack of the first part of the year – deep in job-hunting mode, wandering around the City in jeans listening to Emily Haines’s metallic majestic marvel. A proper album too; well-paced, with a proper start and even more proper fists-pumping-in-the-air finale.

MP3 – Sick Muse by Metric

Buy “Fantasies” (CD/MP3)

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

Again, came out of nowhere, and picked it up as a recommendation from another blog (the marvellous Fat Roland). Whilst other people have mixed folk and electronica (“Folktronica”, one of the worst genre names in history), to my mind Bibio have done it the best so far. For whatever reason, I never posted anything about this before, but it’s been happily playing away in my kitchen and in the car many times this year.

MP3: Lovers’ Carvings by Bibio

Buy “Ambivalence Avenue” (CD/MP3)

Mew – No More Stories….

Also horribly predictable. This album didn’t really make much sense to me until I saw them live, then it all started to click and fit together properly – ironic, given the complexity of their music. If you like your music a touch more unusual than the norm, but don’t feel warmed by the “Look at us, we’re clever, like”-isms of Animal Collective et al, this could be for you.

(Actual music starts about 2:20)

MP3: Introducing Palace Players by Mew

Buy “No More Stories” (CD)

Not quite the best, but still good

I couldn’t do an end-of-year list without mentioning Bill Callahan, Jason Lytle or Kingsbury Manx. All had albums out this year, and all had some highlights that were amongst their best songs, but the albums as a whole don’t quite make the top list. Still worth it though.

And Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is good too, but the chirpy popness doesn’t quite last the whole album, causing me to lose interest about half-way through.

Albums I need to listen to more, that would probably have made the list if only I had some more time to listen to them properly

Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter

Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs

Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

Jim O’Rourke – The Visitor

Mark Eitzel – Klamath

Mastodon – Crack The Skye

I’ve listened to these albums a few times and they are starting to settle in nicely, but not enough for me to hand-on-heart call them albums of the year. Maybe they will appear on my list of albums I have loved in 2010 that were actually released in 2009 but I didn’t hear them then.

Albums I have loved in 2009 that were actually released in 2008 but I didn’t hear them then.

Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight

This’d be up in the top 5 above if they’d released this in 2009. A great record by Grumpy Scots, and I suspect they’ve got more to come in 2010.

MP3: I Feel Better by Frightened Rabbit

Buy “Midnight Organ Fight” (CD/MP3)

Wye Oak – If Children…

When I first started this blog, in the depths of January, I rooted around a bunch of sites looking for some new music. And I stumbled across Wye Oak, and after listening to a selection of tunes far too many times, I went out and spent a bit of my redundancy money on the album. Very fine it is too.

MP3: Warning by Wye Oak

Buy “If Children” (CD)

Albums by bands I love that I really should get round to listening to at some point

Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead

Flaming Lips – Embryonic

Yes, I know. Love both these bands but there just isn’t the time, you know?

The “People Tell Me I Should Love These Albums But I Just Don’t Get It” Award (sponsored by Kissing In Kansas)


Fever Ray – Fever Ray

Animal Collective – Merriwether Post Pavillion

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

And the winner is Animal Collective. People keep telling me to give it time, but as I’ve not even listened to the Twilight Sad or Flaming Lips yet, that’s pushing it. But you know, 2010 and all that.

(I still don’t get it, but have a listen and see what you think)

MP3: My Girls by Animal Collective

Buy “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (CD/MP3)

So that’s me albums done. Join me in a few days for the tracks. Some blinders in there, you know…

Albums Of The Decade (Part Two)

Part two of my run through my favourite albums of the Noughties (will someone please think up a better name?). It’s a personal trip through what I’ve loved and listened to the most, and it’s not just a list of good albums with some great songs on that you get bored of half-way through (I’m looking at you Radiohead and White Stripes). These are all proper records, which I hope that people will still make in the age of downloads and blogs. You know, records you listen to all the way through. Remember that?

Part one is over here.

A Nerd, yesterday

N.E.R.D. – In Search Of… (2001, then 2002)

Main movers in the early Noughties explosion of forward-reaching hip-hop, this album rocks so much they re-recorded it with live instruments. For some reason not many people bought it. Maybe calling themselves “NERD” wasn’t a good idea. Shame, because it’s absolutely fantastic, and I’d forgotten quite how fantastic until I listened to it again recently. Better that Outkast.

MP3: <a href=’https://loftandlost.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/06-truth-or-dare-feat-kelis-and-ter.mp3′>Truth Or Dare by N.E.R.D. Track removed

Buy “In Search Of…” (CD/MP3)

Love This Cover...

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Or how to be different, and how to use the Internet to get noticed, especially when you’ve been dumped by your record label. Not quite as forward-sounding now as it seemed then, but still a great record, and their best. See, Radiohead?

MP3: Jesus, Etc. by Wilco

Buy “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (CD/MP3)

Beautiful in its Simplicity

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf (2002)

Dark, funny, twisted – the ultimate post-drink-and-drug filled debauchery album. Or, how to sing about the problems of getting fucked up, without moaning about how bad it is and how they are terribly, terribly sorry.

MP3: Hangin’ Tree by Queens Of The Stone Age

Buy “Songs For The Deaf” (CD)

Great Album, Terrible Cover

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (2002)

If you have this album, and haven’t listened to it in a while, go and do it now. If you haven’t got this album, go out and get it. This record shows how a diverse bunch of musicians can make an album that is uplifting, eccentric, full of life and love and sheer bloody joy. Oh, and tunes. Lots and lots of tunes.

MP3: Stars and Sons by Broken Social Scene

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

Better than BSS, But Only Just

Josh Rouse – Under Cold, Blue Stars (2002)

An album that envelops you in warmth, emotion, and tunes. So many, many tunes. Not revolutionary in any way whatsoever, but I adore it.

MP3: Nothing Gives Me Pleasure by Josh Rouse

Buy “Under Cold Blue Stars” (CD/MP3)

About A Million Times Better Than Mew's Other Album Covers

Mew – Frengers (2003)

That voice. That music. Drama, twisted tales of obsession and love and the loss of innocence, all over beautiful, inventive, gorgeous rock music. And that voice, again.

MP3: 156 by Mew

Buy “Under Cold Blue Stars” (CD/MP3)

We Recorded The Whole Thing Together, Honest

Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003)

Breaking up is so hard to do, so why not just do two solo albums together, and make the best damn funk/soul/hip-hop/kitchen sink record ever? (A real toss-up between this and Stankonia, to be honest. This just about edges it)

MP3: GhettoMusick by Outkast Track removed

Buy “Speakerboxxx / The Love Below”

Albums Of The Decade (Part One)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Three)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Four)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Five)

Albums Of The Decade (Part Six)

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Am I Live? Yes – Mew at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Going to a concert whilst wearing a suit is an interesting experience, especially after previously being at a do at the Polish Embassy (yes, really). Ignoring the puzzled glances from my fellow gig-goers at the Shepherds Bush Empire, I settled into the capacity crowd, sadly not at the front. What, you think I’m going to get creases in these trousers?

Mew, in case you didn’t already know, are one of the most adventurous rock bands around these days. Their songs blend heartstoppingly brilliant bits with slightly more tedious bits. Their best songs blend heartstoppingly brilliant bits with even more brilliant bits. If you get bored at any point, you are safe in the knowledge that in a minute or so they will change the tempo and the key, and probably everything else they can think of. Sometimes their songs go from strange to utterly fantastic gradually, so you are suddenly aware that a tune that had only moments earlier made no sense whatsoever had become akin to the music played at the gates of heaven.

Jonas with Tele

Having seen them live before, I kind of knew what to expect, so my main concern was whether their new material would stand up to the live treatment. And my other main concern was, do they still have the freaky videos?

To which the answers were yes, and oh sweet Mary mother of Jesus, stop it with the mouths.

Kicking off with “Intro/Reprise”, they soon kick into gear with “Hawaii”. What shocks you immediately is their ability to translate their hugely complex songs into a live performance. Jonas’s voice is a truly wondrous thing; crystal clear and pitch perfect. And they are loud. Properly, knee-shakingly, chest-tremblingly loud, almost up there with The Twilight Sad. Which is good, as I don’t have to listen to the people behind me wittering on. About halfway through, the screens behind the band suddenly flash to life, showing men dancing around with deer’s skulls. It’s really quite odd. And up go the hairs on my arms for the first of about fifty times.

Scary Dancing Things!

Scary Dancing Things!

Next up comes a sequence of songs that a less talented band would have broken up and scattered throughout the show, but Mew have such utter confidence in the strength of their material that they can joyfully play four of their best songs in a row without worrying about keeping folks interested. Those songs are, of course, the New Order-esque “Special”, “The Zookeeper’s Boy”, “Am I Wry? No” and “156”.

“Special” kicks off with a down and dirty guitar riff, far rougher than on record, and during the song everyone starts clapping. You can’t beat a bit of audience participation. “The Zookeeper’s Boy” is played with a backdrop of dolls, with toy animal heads with human mouths, singing along. It’s really quite, quite disturbing. And odd. The song ends with four of the band singing counterpoint1, and it’s really quite, quite astonishing. I was at this point standing there with my mouth hanging open. I can only hope there wasn’t any dribble coming out.

Then the opening riff to “Am I Wry? No” starts, and the place goes, as they say, mental. Now, this being the first song of theirs I ever heard, it’s got that special place in my heart, and I love it when a band can translate everything you love about the song on record into an even better live version. I had to stop myself singing along (not that this would have mattered, frankly). And “156” is stripped down – yes, Mew can strip songs down, believe it or not – until about half way through when the guitars come in and tear through the ominous quiet of the first half.

Scary Children!

Scary Children!

After that, songs came thick and fast, and unfortunately I don’t have an accurate set list (despite those marvellous people at the Mew Forum). “Introducing Palace Players” has such a bizarre, discordant riff that it makes me wonder how the guitarist introduced it to the rest of the band at a practice. “Hey, Jonas, it’ll sound much better when you start yodelling over the top, honest”. I would dearly love to walk past a guitar shop and hear some spotty teenage axe hound trying to play it. Maybe that’s why this lot aren’t selling out the O2 like Muse – whilst the latter also make hugely complex, ornate music, you can still just about knock out one of their riffs. This lot? No hope. Still, I’d much rather be here than at the O2.

There was even an exceedingly odd moment with a talking bear thing. I really have no idea what the hell was going on – see if you can make sense of it yourself.

So, on went the wonderful songs, and the bonkers videos. Wolves, lampreys, more dolls with animal heads, and the guitarist dancing around with a mask on was a real eye-opener. “Silas The Magic Car” was a gratefully recieved quieter moment, and I was struck by just how great this lot sound singing together. Take that, Fleet Foxes! “Repeaterbeater” swooshed by like a train filled with mutant guitarists. The icy ferocity of “Snow Brigade” shook us to the core, and then the band left the stage. But we all know what was to come next; well, at least those of us who’d seen them before.

A Cat!  Playing A Violin!

A Cat! Playing A Violin!

On came Bo Madsen to play the “Comforting Sounds”, and Jonas sauntered on just in time to start singing. Then, as his singing reached the climax, the rest of the band came on, and anyone in the venue who had even the slightest doubt about Mew being absolute masters at this lark had those doubts thrown into the skip outside. The starfield behind the band suddenly changed to more animals, but this time they were actually cute little things, all playing violins. Look, a teddy with little round glasses! A bunny with a twitchy nose! A strange corpse skull thing! I was struck by the thought that this is possibly the best gig-ending song I’ve ever experienced.

All I have to say about Mew is this. They should go on tour with someone properly, massively huge, like U2, or Coldplay, or the aforementioned Muse, as they would blow the headline act totally and utterly out of the water. Whilst I wish huge success on all the bands I love, I really wouldn’t want to see Twilight Sad or Tindersticks or whoever play Wembley Arena or the O2. But Mew could just fill a place like that with a song like “Comforting Sounds”. And whilst their music is complicated and sometimes bizarre, so are Muse, and I know who I’d much rather go and see. Please go and see them for yourself and find out what I’m on about and why I have written this huge article. You won’t regret a second. Except the bits with the mouths. Stop it with the mouths, will you?

MP3: Silas The Magic Car by Mew

MP3: Comforting Sounds by Mew

MP3: The Zookeeper’s Boy by Mew

1 At least I think that’s what it’s called. They all sing different bits, not like a round. Oh, you know what I mean.

Buy “Frengers” (CD)

Buy “And the Glass Handed Kites” (CD)

Buy “No More Stories” (CD)

Note: All photos courtesy of kind people posting them on Flickr.

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New Mew News, and no new Sufjan news

Mew have released another song from their long-awaited CD, “This title goes on and on and doesn’t make much sense/no matter how many times you read it/and you just can’t shorten it/and isn’t the cover horrid?”. And another stormer it is too. “Repeaterbeater” again shows off their prog-rock chops mixed with their ruthless way with a tune. Sure am looking forward to hearing the album in its entirety. “No More Stories” (the album) is out on 26th August. Bit of a wait then.

But, though “Repeaterbeater” is on the new album, it’s also on their new “No More Stories” EP, released on Tuesday 30th June on iTunes, the track list is as follows:

1. Introducing Palace Players
2. Repeaterbeater
3. Owl
4. Start
5. Swimmer’s Chant

I’ve provided the Amazon link below, but frankly I’m not sure it’s going to work.

Thanks to Cause = Time for the tip.

Jonas And Tele

Jonas And Tele

Mew are playing live at London’s ICA on Thursday 16th July but thanks to choosing a far too small venue, it sold out faster than you can say their new album title (about 3 days, as it turns out). Please move to a bigger venue, chaps. I’ve been telling Mrs Loftandlost for years that the show she missed due to being heavily pregnant was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and I think she’s going to take a brick to my head if I say it again.

And as the title says, I don’t have any Sufjan Stevens news. I’m just posting “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!” because it’s such a damned fine song. The second half, with its refrain of “Even in his heart the Devil has to know the water level\Are you writing from the heart?\Are you writing from the heart?”, is heartmeltingly fine. At his best, no-one can touch Sufjan for the sheer audacity of the music and the stunning gorgeousness of his lyrics. Let’s hope that when he does finally get round to releasing something that’s not Christmas songs, that it touches the heights of this song. I must say, I listened to this last night and the tears welled up in my eyes. I’m such a softy.

MP3: Repeaterbeater by Mew

MP3: Come On! Feel The Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens

Buy “No More Stories Ep” (MP3)

Buy Sufjan Stevens “Illinoise” (CD)

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Mew and Passion Pit

Last time I saw Mew live, they came on stage and immediately started playing the most cacophonous sound you’ve ever heard. Disjointed, loud, messed-up, it didn’t bode well. But suddenly, you could start to hear a melody coming through all the noise and it all made sense; this gorgeous music just erupted, with Jonas Bjerre’s angelic falsetto over the top. Most bands can go from tune to noise, no-one can go the other way like Mew. I’ve even done a little equation:

N -> T > T -> N

where N = Noise and T = Tune

And so it goes with this new track, just released a day or so ago. Called “Introducing Palace Players” (these crazy Danes) from their new album “No more stories…” (I’m not going into that one now), it does that whole noise to tune thang rather superbly. Plus, it’s a kind of New-Order-Timbaland-Prince-MGMT-Girls-Aloud type song. I really don’t know how to describe it.

(MP3 thanks to Data Sapiens)

What In God's Name Is That???

What In God's Name Is That???

And on another note, I feel I’m too old to like Passion Pit, but who cares when they make tunes like this?

MP3: Introducing Palace Players by Mew (a repost as the tags were messed up before)

MP3: Make Light by Passion Pit

Buy Mew’s “And the Glass Handed Kites” (CD)

Buy Passion Pit’s “Manners” (MP3)

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News – Mew(s), Apostle of Hustle

Sometimes, I buy a CD that I’ve never heard a track off of, usually thanks to a recommendation or a good review. Sometimes, it’s bloody awful. Sometimes, however, it’s like Mew’s “Frengers”, their 2003 album, which was, quite frankly, amazing. It starts off with the classic “Am I Wry? No”:

Now if you’ve not heard it before, you can’t help but be thrilled with Jonas Bjerre’s stunning falsetto (up there with Jeff Buckley’s), and those clean power chords, making you do embarrassing air guitar and singing that sounds like a dog that’s had its tail stepped on. The rest of the album wasn’t half bad either.

So I’m really rather excited to hear that they’ve a new album out in August, which they promise to be happier than their last one (which wasn’t exactly Joy Division-esque maudlin drone-rock).

But the best is the title.

It’s a poem.

Yes, a poem.

No more stories
Are told today
I’m sorry
They washed away

No more stories
The world is grey
I’m tired
Let’s wash away

Ah, these crazy Danes!

And the cover, following on from “….And The Glass Handed Kites” quite repulsive effort, is this:

What In God's Name Is That???

What In God's Name Is That???

A tour of Europe with Nine Inch Nails is already sorted, and hopefully some headline shows soon. This is a band you must see live, as they are truly magnificent.

On another note, I’ve been listening to the new Apostle of Hustle CD, “Eats Darkness”. Pretty decent so far, and the track “Xerses” is getting rather a lot of plays. It’s a fine tune and no mistake. I do love that Broken Social Scene groove.

MP3: Am I Wry? No by Mew

MP3: Xerses by Apostle of Hustle

Buy “Frengers” by Mew (CD)

Buy “Eats Darkness” by Apostle of Hustle (MP3)

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