Saturday, 31 October 2009

Lynyrd Skynyrd - That Smell

I once saw a Skynyrd tribute act, featuring a guy who had been their singer for five minutes in the nineties. There have been probably been enough members of Skynyrd to populate a small nation over the years. In any case, that gig was amazing, at least in part because we were absolutely blasted. For all they have a rep as a party bandm this song is actually a warning about the dangers of over indulgence. It's still god a great rolling groove to it though.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Screaming Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You.

I'm going to drop some knowledge on you. Are you ready? During WW2 Mr Hawkins fought for the US army in the Pacific theatre. On one operation he was captured and tortured. When he was rescued he stuck a grenade in his chief antagonists head and blew his head clean off. Clean fucking off. Watching this video that makes a lot more sense. A man who'll do that, will do Goddamn anything. I also have to comment on the saxophonist hair cut which is truly a thing of wonder.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Concretes - You Can't Hurry Love

I'd forgotten how great a song this is. Even though it shares nothing musically with the Supremes song of the same title, there's a certain thematic similarity I think. Both are joyful, but with a sad weight dragging them down, grounding them. Beneath all the "Ohs" and the trumpets there's actually a very chunky little guitar riff pulling the song as well.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tegan and Sara Vs Mylo - Walking with a Ghost in Paris

This folk rock number by idenitcal twin sisters Tegan and Sara is much improved by the addition of a bit of mylo. The mash up job, was I believe done by a gent called "Party Ben" who may or may not be a bear. Also worth noting that The White Stripes do an awesome version of the Tegan and Sara song.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mazzy Star - Ride It On

Mazzy Star are a band I've deliberately attempted to know as little as possible about. Something about their music seems to lend itself to a bit of mystery. This is one of their lovelier songs that seems to hint at all sort of thing, without, perhaps meaning any of them.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Gary Allen - Learning to Bend

This is some real mainstream commercial Nashville country. And it is awesome. As I've written One of the things I find pretty fascinating about country music is the level of emotional sophistication it demands from it's practitioners. Certainly a male rock performer would never get away with a song like this, with references to " being a lover and a friend" and "Learning how to bend." Now because it's country this is admittedly relentlessly over egged to beyond mawkishness and the strings aren't really necessary. But the falsetto on the chorus is exactly the right amount of too much.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Public Image Limited - Rise

"Could be wrong, I couldd be right," Best song Lydon was ever involved in for my money. Though I also fucking love the little guitar figure which is a thing of wonder.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Pomplamoose - My Favourite Things

This is a pretty darn interesting version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. It's a little twee but redeemed by the beautiful vocals. I've always had a soft spot for this song actually, the line "the dog bites and the bee stings" always resonated for some reason.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Nick Drake - Black Eyed Dog

As I'm feeling lousy today, you get this devasting number. One of his last songs before his untimely death, his voice is cracking and lacking in confidence. just makes it sadder unlikely as that seems.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Five Blobs - The Blob

Beware of the Blob!
It creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor
Right through the door and all around the wall ,
A splotch , a blotch ,
Be careful of the Blob!

This classic theme was written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David and makes it very easy to imagine you're in a funky sixties cocktail party. Until the blob shows up and you're forced to sacrifice the women and children to it's blubbery demands before somehow managing to kill it with a gas boiler you've jerry rigged to explode. You'll never forget the hideous slobbering touch of the blob though, and years later you'll wake in terror certain you can feel it oozing up your leg.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Booth and the Bad Angel - Dance of the Bad Angels

Tim Booth, Bernard Butler and Angelo Badalamenti collaborating on a quirky mid nineties album that sounds a bit like Chris Rea? It happened! This is a strangely engrossing cut from said album. Butler's little riff is recognisably him and undeniably excellent. Badalamenti, we can assume, helped ensure the atmospherics where suitably engaging. Though The lyrics aren't the greatest, Booth certainly shows of his fine, fine voice. The overall effect is a little dated but pleasing. Tim booth is an interesting figure, he clearly has something about him that makes others want to collaborate with him, even if it's not immediately apparent to the distant observer. If nothing else he is the only mid nineties British pop star to appear in Batman Begins, and for that we salute him.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Barcelona - Please Don't Go

I am a sucker for a sad piano melody and a soft trembling voice. Makes me well up like a goddamn child. This song provides the above in spades. Voice reminds me a little of Tom McCrae, The atmospherics of Sigur Ros, but the whole is pretty wonderful. The band are from Seattle as well, which always makes me perk up a little. Strange how Cobain's been dead all these years, and I still think 'huh must be something in the water up there. In addition the song has been set to this amazing footage of one of the world's largest aquariums so you really should put aside four and a half minutes to watch this. If it doen'st sooth your soul just a little I'll be amazed.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Elvis Presley - Thats Allright Mama

What's great about this clip is that it shows you Elvis as a guy who really digs his music. Elvis has beome this bizzarie cultural behemoth with endless trailing streams of baggage, that it's easy to forget he was really on point with the musical stuff. He looks cool as all hell here as well.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Jimmy Ruffin - What becomes of the Broken Hearted

A Classic, one of the best. If you don't feel just a little bit listening to his...well there's no hope for you. Sadly it's universaily has lead to it being absolutely murdered on numerous occasions. I would recommend you particulry avoid the vonda shepard, Paul young and boy george versions. Interestingly My Ruffin was always more popular in the UK than his native land. He moved here in the 80's and apparently had a talk show here for a while.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Grum - Heartbeats

Now the oil is running out and the financial markets have collapsed Scotland's economic future rests entirely on bedroom dance music creators like Grum. Following the footsteps of Mylo and Calvin Harris, the Linlithgow born Grum looks set for similar success if this track is anything to go by. It's catchy as hell and I particularly like the little electro hook that maintains the song when everything else drops out. The one thing that might stop him, is the name. As Grum sounds like something particularly horrible.

Friday, 16 October 2009

1 Giant Leap feat. Horace Andy - Racing Away

1 Giant Leap was a rather odd project which involved Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman traveling around the world recording lots of local musicians doing their thing and then building it into an album. The resulting album was more than a little woolly around the edges but I have a lot of affection for this track. There's something exceptionally soothing about it, it's 'chill-out' in the best possible sense. As you would expect Horace Andy turns in a suitably charismatic vocal but what really makes it for me is the snippet of dialogue from Kurt Vonnegut explaining just why television is so dangerously seductive.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Therapy? - Screamager

Anyone who was a mildly disillusioned mid nineties teenager will recognise this one. For a supposedly metal outfit, Therapy? had a very keen ear for a pop hook. You don't get much better on the teenage angst front than "I've got nothing to do, but hang around and get screwed up on you". There's an interesting strand running through Northern Irish music, where you have bands taking hard aggressive rock music and presenting it in melodic, commercial ways. Obviously Therapy? are an example if this but you could also apply it to Ash and the Undertones.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Raveonettes - Bang!

The Raveonettes obviously sound like a Phil Specktor girl group with a dash of Jesus and Mary Chain mixed in. Every review I've ever seen of their stuff says this, because you can't get away from it. Wearing your influences so blatantly isn't, of itself, a bad thing though and this is a poppin' wee number.
What I'm really interested in though, is the fact they sound very much like their singing "Kids wanna fuck out in the street". Now apparently the actually lyric is "bop out in the street", but as I've heard Britney Spears records I know what's going here. In fact it handily gets to the heart of my problem with Raveonettes. While I generally react positively to the music, I can't help but be a little irked at how hard they try to be dangerous. You might call it Primal Scream Syndrome. The fact they go on about it all the time, does rather lessen the effect and become a bit tedious. Also do kids really want to fuck out in the street? I can, just about, remember being a kid and i don't recall that being to appealing. Too many dirty old men leering away in the cold cold rain would rather spoil the fun I suspect.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist

This song is now nearly a decade old but it still sounds as bizarrely wonderful as it ever did. "Some Birds are funny when they talk". It's a fact, it's an unquestionable fact! A second Avalanches album is apparently close to completion, but as they've been saying that for nigh on five years I think it best just to continue enjoying the sample heaped lunacy of this.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Tom Waits - Blue Skies

This is very early Waits demo from well before he released his debut album. It's amazing on several levels. Firstly it's just a great simple song, for all Waits has spent much of his later career doing the weird and wonderful. You have be a master of the basics of song writing to make all that complicated stuff work successfully and here, at a sickeningly young age, he shows he had that down. Also interesting to hear Wait's voice as a youngster, not so scuffed up. Easy to assume years of cigarettes and whiskey were responsible for that but I'm not so sure. Waits has always been one for swerving away from the mainstream and it's certainly likely that cultivating a gruffer more aggressive timbre was part of a move to be that little bit hipper and less easily accessible. Because the voice thats singing this song.... maybe it doesn't win the X factor...but it's not a million miles away. I'm sure there's some very early recordings of Dylan where his voice sounds different as well. Though I think that's probably common to all young singers who are struggling to find their voice and control it properly.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Crystals - He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)

This is the saddest of all the sad sad songs written by Carole King. Written when she and her husband discovered her babysitter, little Eva, was being beaten by her boyfriend, and Eva's of him. It's a complicated, devastating song. However while doing my usual desultory internet research I discovered the following.

In 2007, Los Angeles electronic power ballad collective Shank God recorded a song, "She Pissed On Me (And It Felt Like a Shit)" which references the title of the song, even though the song itself has no lyrics.

A fact which has so throughly blown my mind I have nothing further to add at this time.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

First Aid Kit - Hard Believer

This is song, from teenage swedish sisters,Johanna and Klara Söderberg, is a gentle breeze of folky loveliness. Apparently there is a genetic reason why sibling's voices often compliment each other so well which certainly works well here. The sisters Söderberg were in born 1990 and 1993, which is just sickening. But not as sickening as the video for this tune, which I found profoundly unsettling.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Beck - Timebomb

Beck is obviously a musical chameleon that flits between different styles as easily as he changes clothes. I’m not even sure in what genre to place this, but it’s bloody great. A single only release from 2007 it’s one of the best things he’s done in ages. It’s got that great “so stupid it’s brilliant” thing going on that distinguishes a lot of fantastic pop songs. The Bam-Bam-Bam backing vocals really power it home too.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Green Velvet - La La Land

Despite apparently being a warning aganist the dangers of overindulging in pills, this still sounds phenomenally debauched to me.I think it’s the squelchiness of the synth, that just sounds….depraved. A commanding vocal from Curtis Jones as well, who captures the increasing disintegration of a spectacularly messy night on the tiles. The video is also increasingly disturbing, combing medicine and madness to worryingly grotesque effect. Surprisingly enough Green Velvet revealed in 2006 he had not been following his own warnings and had become a born again Christian after a serious overdose of a mixture of Magic Mushrooms, Marijuana and GHB.
Makes this son,g recorded a good five years earlier even more interesting. He was obviously aware overuse of drugs was bound to go wrong for him at some point but ultimately couldn’t do anything about it.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Duke and The King - If You Ever Get Famous

The Duke and the King are lead by Simone Felice, formerly of the Felice Brothers. There is a hint listening to this that, it's a pean to his brothers in that band not to forget him. Not to leave him behind because he's chosen a different path. Those emotions are underscored by the beautiful harmonies that dominate it. Simone Felice is also a twice published novelists and there's a real love of words here, that informs the lyrics. "If you ever get famous, I say a prayer for your heart" has a real true ring to it. The Duke and The King seem an outfit with real promise as you can read here.
On another note, given my constant use of Later with Jools Holland clips, it's nice to see their studio in a state of disarray as they prepare for a show. Small pleasures....

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Mission of Burma - That's when I reach for my Revolver

A strong contender for greatest song title of all time. A reference to a quote loosely attributed to Herman Goring, which goes something like "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!". This translates as: "Whenever I hear [the word] 'culture'... I remove the safety from my Browning!". Though "That's when I remove the Safety from my Browning!" is a little bit wordy it's still pretty good.
Suitably enough there's a real air of menace to this song, underscored by the rapidly shifting time signatures. I was recently surprised that Mission of Burma where originally Bostonian, as I had always assumed them to be a British post-punk band of the very early eighties. The music is not massively similar to what was going on in Britain at the time, but there's an air of disaffection and rejection about their music which is very present in a lot of british music of the time.
The Early eighties where clearly a bloody miserable time for those on either side of the atlantic who considered themselves of an artistic alternative bent.
A much overlooked bit of Domestic British history it seems to me is 1980-82. Doesn't fit into the popular narratives about the seventies of the eighties. But you've got mass unemployment, race riots, a very unpopular government and the still ever present threat of nuclear holocaust. Popular history gives you a wee bit about the Falklands and that's it. Domestically it seems a bloody awful time in Britain. Likely why it's been glossed over.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Brandi Carlile - The Story

Having a few techinical hitches today, so I will stick this up with little fanfare. It is an impressive indie/county number, tha'ts both angry and sad in that way Lesbian singer songwriters are so often good at.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Billy Paul - Am I Black Enough For You?

The follow up to Paul's monster hit, 'Me and Mrs Jones' this song was radical enough to seriously damage his career. There's a great documentry about that, also called, Am I Black Enough For You, that underlines what an influenial figure Paul actually is. Anyway this is a great song, pulsing and funky.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

R.E.M. - Driver 8

The thing about early R.E.M. is that on first glance Stipe's lyrics have a wierd dylan-esque quality that hints at profound truths. However on repeated listens they do appear to be about fairly straight forward things. Like train drivers. The thing is, though, that a train driver is a pretty profound topic for a song. Steering a mighty machine across the land, hundreds of people's stories dependant on you. Clever guy, Mr. Stipe. This has one of my favourite of Peter Buck's early riffs as well. Always fun to see Stipe with hair as well.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Bette Midler - Hello in there

This was orginally a country number by John Prine. Country as we know is pretty mush the most meldramatic music there is. You don't get much more melodramatic than Bette Midler but somehow this doesn't seemed overplayed at all. Just sad. There is a sadness about Midler I think, a real jewish sadness. Funny as hell but in part as wall paper, to cover up old wounds. She really gets the song here and brings out all the fear of aging and lonliness in a wonderful way.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Alison Krauss - Down to the River to Pray

There's something very old about this song. It doesn't belong in a world of mobile phones and skyscrapers. It's from a slower time, that seems increasingly far way but still exists away from the cities I suspect.