Thursday, 31 December 2009

Hamish Imlach - Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice

As it is Hogmannay let's have a good old Scottish drinking song. This is more Glaswegian that Scottish to be honest but it's got a wicked sense of humour in it and there's every chance I'll be singing it in my cups tonight so that will do. Oh yes, that will do.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Aloof - One Night Stand

Many years ago I found a mix cassette on a bus. It had a pink cover and the dot above each "i" was a little star. This was one of the songs on it. There's a nice contrast between the frailness of the voice, and the majesty of the strings. There's also a real sense of the self loathing one can feel after waking up after going too hard, for too long.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Mercury Rev - Goddess on a Highway

There was a brief time, when Mercury Rev seemed plugged into something otherworldly. Deserters songs and Allis dream both carried hints of an oddness that lingered in the mind. There's a episode of the TV show twin peaks which ends with the suggestion that "the owls are not what they seem" before cutting to footage of a huge owl glowering at the screen. It should be absurd but instead it instilled a deep and lasting fear of owls in me. This song evokes similar emotions.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Neko Case - People Gotta Lot of Nerve

Took me a long time to find a way into Neko Case's work, but her most recent album is an excellent primer. And this is the best song on it.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sparrow and The Workshop - A Horse's Grin

Increasingly it seems Scotland's principal musically export is particularly dark folk music with a bit of a modern twist. The only other famous example off the top of my head os Sons and daughters, but I've seen a lot of it about at a lower level. Like Nick Cave was imprinted on a whole generation of Scottish musicians. Also might have something to do, that as you age, just making a racket is less appealing but you still want to keep a bit of edge, so you end up doing murder ballads. Anyway, this is a fine example, and there's a nice attention to detail and style as well, in the video.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Heart - Alone

This is a cheesy, cheesy song but damn if it doesn't tug at the heart more than a little. Stripped of the eighties overproduction, it's really got something. That's a hell of a note in the middle as well. That is some singing.

Friday, 25 December 2009

York Minster Choir - Good King Wenceslas

A favourite Carol. My favourite bit of it, is the description of the snow as "deep and crisp and even" which always struck me as wonderful. Very evocative. I've always had a soft spot for the King's servant, who I always suspected was not alltogether happy about having to go out in the snow, and likely thought the king had lost his mind.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

James Brown - Soulful Christmas

Hey! James Brown loves you and wants you to have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Who could want for more. I saw him perform in Glasgow a couple of years before he died, and he was mumbly, he was confused, his voice was a little cracked and he was still absolutely fucking amazing. 20 minutes after he left the stage we were still chanting his name in the hope he might return.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Here Comes Fatty Claus - Rudolph and Gang

Here comes fatty, with his sack of shit, and all his stinking reindeer. There's something reassuring about the fact there is no figure so innocuous that someone won't take a shot at him. This song comes from John Water's Christmas album which as you might expect is filled with wonderfully odd selections.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Phil Spector is a terrible man, obviously, but by god he had something when it came to production. There's an almost gospel feel to this, the way it builds so euphorically. The music is so upbeat, it provides a great counterpoint to what is actually a pretty plaintive lyric. This is a great version as well, Apparently Love comes on to David Letterman's US chat show to perform the song ever year at Christmas, which is a great tradition. I can't say if the sax playing Santa is involved every time but let's hope so.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Hives & Cyndi Lauper - A Christmas Duel

Ah the true meaning of Christmas. Giving people you love bitter, bitter abuse. This is a wonderful marriage of a rollicking upbeat tunes and hateful lyrics. As opening lines go "I bought no gifts this year, And I slept with your sister" takes some topping. It also highlights what a great voice Cyndi lauper has. Mad as a box of pipes, but what a singer.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

XTC - Stupidly Happy

A lovely late period pop song from xtc this. Not bitter, not spiteful just great. The riff is like a delightful bee, buzzing on with happiness.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Vitalic - La Rock 01

It's a thumper. A ferocious great thumper of a thing. And I, for one, Salute it.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Elton John - Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters

My favourite of old reg's songs. In his early seventies heyday, what a voice he had. Plus this is a great lyric. Bernie Taupin had a hell of a lot of game back then. There's an emotional honesty that reminds me a lot of country music in some of Elton John's best songs. However he also gives a little enigmatic twist. And as a title, "Mona Lisa's and mad hatters" is pretty special.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Jane's Addiction - Just Because

This is a rare example of a comeback song standing up to the quality of the original work. Most of Jane's Addiction older stuff hasn't held up that well, but this is a belter. Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell are a couple of interesting guys, but it's hard not to suspect they are more style than anything else. But the style is pretty great.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Ben Lee - Kids

How sad this song sounds this way. Even though he's performing in a beautiful park, with beautiful dogs bounding past him and the lyrics don't really mean anything. Always the best trick with lyrics that though, have them sound deep and meaningful without really being about anything, and they end up being about everything for everyone.

The Tallest Man On Earth - Where Do My Bluebird Fly

The Tallest Man On Earth appears to be a devilish handsome Swede who has no shortage of talent. I though this video was interesting, as it places him a major urban setting in contrast to his music, which is filled with references to animals and nature. For all his songs are in English, There's something very Nordic about this fellow, the hint of long days and longer nights, a blast from the freezing wilds. And I can heartily recommend.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pulp - A Little Soul

Jarvis Cocker is a great example of a gent who despite not been gifted with the greatest voice in the world, was able to turn that into a strength. The way his voice cracks on the last line is as good as any 8 octave holler. Lyrically this is Cocker at his bleakest,which helps explain why "This is Hardcore" was something of a commercial flop. Songs about Fathers telling their son to piss off for their own good, tend not to be clasped to the heart of the great British public. Still one of Pulp's best songs though, and one that I suspect all of us who have spent one night too many drowned in regret will long cherish.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Alessi Brothers - Sea Bird

The Alessi Brothers are a cheesy American eighties duo was one and a half hits. However this little known song has a certain something. I've always had a soft spot for songs addressed to animals, and something about the chorus rings true enough.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The End of the World - Skeeter Davis

Ah Skeeter Davis, a voice just sweet enough to be singing such a dark song. Here, the end of an affair is so painful as to be apocalyptic.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Gary Stewart - Drinkin' Thing

This is a glorious slice of self pitying melancholy. Hell of a voice Gary Stewart, hell of a nice little piece of guitar at the start as well. Those wishing to know more about this tragic country fella should look here.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Leftfield - Phat Planet

I want a Guinness now. Stupid easily manipulated Brain!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Andre Williams - Jailbait

Andre Williams has fifty years of sleazy lunatic blues behind him. This, his signature tune, gives you a good feel of his flavour. After spending the eighties homeless and crack addicted, he's made a name for himself playing shady venues all over the world. On this performance, which is only a couple of years ago, but has been artfully aged, he has the backing of a pretty tremendous band.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Blancmange - Living on the Ceiling

I've noted before that the early eighties were a bloody odd time for British music. This song being a prime example. It makes absolutely no sense, but that piano riff is monstrously infectious, The vocal likewise. Time to spent the rest of the day chanting "I'm so tall, I'm so tall" I think.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Meursault - William Henry Miller Pt.1

This is something a wee bit special. Note the handclaps. One day in the distant future when I have the time I will write my opus about why handclaps are at the centre of all great music. There's a bruised quality to the vocal that I love as well. Sufjan Stevens is the comparison that came to mind but there's something very Scottish about this as well, tapping into old Celtic myths of longing. Though that may be down to the pouring rain in the background. Great setting for something of this kind though, someone in the group clearly has an eye for time and place. All of which may be enough to make me overlook my nothing good comes from Edinburgh policy. Troubling times...

Monarchy - Gold in the Fire

Monarchy are apparently a mysterious duo who decline to reveal their identities until the new year. On the basis of this track, they may have little choice, as this batch of eighties downbeat sythnpop is the sort of thing that's so hot right now darling. Still it's pretty great though. And the vocal has a hollow quality that is strangely wonderful.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Daedelus - Fair Weather Friends

This is wonderful. Like something put together by a mildly autistic but creatively inspired robot.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Ben Lee - Catch My Disease

This is infectious pop music in it's purest form. Note the extensive use of handclaps! That said, I can't shake the feeling that Ben Lee looks like someone who would probably benefit from being forced into the military. Look at that stupid hair. Damn hippies. Odd that I love this song, while still harboring a most unfair venom for Mr Lee. Based mainly on the fact I dislike his hair in one picture. Still my minds made up now. Sign him up for six months in Afghanistan, it's the only way to be sure!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Shed Seven - Disco Down

Shed Seven were traditionally portrayed as the lumpen village idiots of Britpop but I fancy history has been rather kind to them. Certainly I'm not the only one recalls them fondly I'll wager. They were the star attraction at my freshers ball. And though memories are hazy I recall a fairly rollicking show, with this being a particular highlight. And It holds up I would argue as a fun wee tune, with a hell of a solid bass line powering it along.
One should also fair careful attention to the video too, as according to one commenter it "captures absolutely perfectly the atmosphere of the post-pub scene in York." And who, in all honesty, could ask for more than that?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Darwin Deez - Constellations

Drawin Deez is a stupid, stupid name for a band, but this song is surprisingly excellent, sounding like the Strokes with an actual human heart. There is really no way that an an indie rock song which incorporates a nursery ryhme, should be this good, but weirdly it is. Nice use of handclaps, which I'm always a sucker for, might well be to blame.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

DJ Shadow - Midnight in a Perfect World

Like the previous two days songs this track was apparently inspired by the Doomsday Clock. Which has proved inspirational to a lot of musicans it seems. Though I think these three cuts are the pick of the bunch.
I once saw DJ shadow perform in Glasgow and he scratched together a tune from samples of instructional music videos that still blows my mind just to think about. I lovethe cadence of "The Clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight" in this. Tremendously spooky.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Wah! Heat - Seven Minutes to Midnight

Back in those crazy days when Steve Lamacq still had a show on national radio, on a Monday night he allowed to stay on air all the way until midnight by his radio one overlords. Monday night not being deemed a suitable place for John Peel for some reason. So every Monday night at Seven minutes to Midnight Lamacq would play this track. And I, a wonky teenager, would attempt to fight off sleep to stay up and listen to it, on a tiny radio next to my bed because I thought it was the bees knees. Which it still is.
Wah! Heat were the outfit of Liverpudlian Pete Whylie, a rather talented songwriter who never received the attention he deserved because he continually changed the name of his band. Wah! Heat, were also known as Wah!, Shambeko! Say Wah!, JF Wah!, The Mighty Wah! and Wah! the Mongrel at various times. Pick a bloody name and stick to it man!