February 15, 2010
After finally locating a somewhat out of the way second hand record shop this afternoon, I was chuffed to find a recently arrived box of 90s/00s indie vinyl tucked under a shelving unit, awaiting both inspection and pricing. Sadly, the Weller and Beck pressings which I was initially hugely excited by turned out to be carrying some unfortunate scratches, but I still managed to leave £30 lighter – cash only, of course. In amongst those I didn’t end up buying were two 12” singles by The Bluetones. I’ve mentioned on here before my liking for this lost and, while they never really turned in an album of consistent splendour, their ‘Singles’ compilation is an absolute belter and chief amongst those cracking little indie tunes is this stand alone nugget, ‘Marblehead Johnson’.
Mark Morriss’ solo album, ‘Memory Muscle’, reminded me of what I so loved about those early, jangly and care-free Bluetones singles. Largely, it came down to the strengths and, frankly, the limitations of Morriss’ curious little voice. They’re still lumbering along, and I’ll keep checking in on them in case they come up with anything even half as vital sounding as this one.
February 12, 2010
Every couple of months I return to playing bursts of music by Gene and I am becoming increasingly certain that they were quite a special band. During their natural lifespan I was always quite taken with them and fondly remember a quite poorly attended gig of theirs in Nottingham to promote final studio album ‘Libertine’. The music was epic and/or jangly in all the right places and Martin Rossiter’s voice is a thing of beauty. The Smiths copyist tag was, as I’ve recently mentioned in relation to Northern Portrait, merrily tossed around despite being a little unfair and their star didn’t really shine all the brightly in the first place, let alone for all that long. Once ‘Olympian’ had done its thing and ‘To See The Lights’ had attempted a bit of ‘Hatful Of Hollow’* style mopping up, ‘Drawn To The Deep End’ was already suffering at the hands of a not-entirely-expectant audience. Its luxurious grandeur makes for a compelling listen to this day but it never quite took off in the way I suspect the band thought it might. Thus followed two further splendid studio albums in ‘Revelations’ and ‘Libertine’ but huge record sales were never going to come. This, as is so often the case, proves how sometimes the masses can be asses. I love Gene, I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t be engaged by the man-on-the-edge delivery of this particular song and anyone who thinks of this band as one of those indie types who did the odd good song is advised to attempt a reappraisal. Honestly.
The video’s not on Ver Tube but the song has been uploaded, so here that is:
Alternatively, head over to Spotify to hear their greatest hits here, ‘Speak To Me Someone’ in particular here or simply search Gene to wrap your ears around any and all of their albums.
*I know, I know, but sometimes it’s just so easy you have to rely on hackneyed comparisons!
February 11, 2010
Some songs are just really pretty. Normal it’s Teenage Fanclub, the Super Furries or Camera Obscura who spring to mind when I think of pretty songs. Add to that list, ‘Walk In The Park’ by Beach House. Taken from their ridiculously lovely new album, ‘Teen Dream’, this song has echoes of Grizzly Bear when they’re doing anthemic or Animal Collective when they’re doing, er, tunes. The simple fact is, I could have picked the vast majority of the album for this exercise and I will endeavour to write something more substantial about it at some point in the not too distant future. For now, click below to watch a live performance for the trendy P4k lot or click here for the usual Spotify action.
February 10, 2010
Imagine Belle and Sebastian crossed with a bit of Electronic and early solo Moz and you have ‘The Way It Used To Do’. You may remember me banging on about the really rather good Northern Portrait in last week’s FUTUREMUSIC feature. They’re a wonderful band who happen to be on Matinee Recordings, a small American indie label. The Electric Pop Group are also on that label and, because their approach to promo is to engage the people who buy music from them, I’ve been sent links to two songs you can download for free. ‘The Way It Used To Do’ is my favourite of the two, but both are pretty lovely. As they’re free, and the combined running times of these two tracks is only seven minutes, I would urge you to lend them your ears.
If you like what you hear (right click the picture above for ‘TWIUTD’), you can purchase the full album from Matinee by clicking here. Or, if you need further convincing, you can get a second song, Not By Another, by clicking here or stream the whole album on Spotify.
February 9, 2010
The Pipettes are close to unveiling the video for their new single – which is a decent enough song – on the world and, by rights, I should be really excited. I’m certainly keen to hear the album, but my enthusiasms have crept elsewhere. Namely, to former Pipette, Rose Elinor Dougall, who aforementioned string of wonderful singles were recently collated on a Japanese (where else?) mini album. Her debut album proper is on its way soon and that’s a record I’m genuinely excited about hearing. This is a fine example of why I’m so keen to hear it. (Spot the unfortunate typo in the surname of this upload!)
February 8, 2010
There will be a little more FUTUREMUSIC musing to follow soon, but the artist profiles having concluded, it’s time to return to the daily dose of musical delight. Massive Attack’s new album, ‘Heligoland’, was released today, with a deluxe triple-vinyl jobbie following in two weeks for those of us who are so inclined. It’s a superb album and anyone who says it’s just more of the same or whines on about how it’s not another ‘Blue Lines’ or not another ‘Mezzanine’ needs a slap. Obviously, it’s not another ‘100th Window’, as you’ll want to listen to it lots. Speaking of which, I’ve decided to do my first almost unwilling ‘A Week With’ based on ‘100th Window’, so you can see if a revisit is really in order at the weekend.
‘Heligoland’, on the other hand, is a wonderful set of ten compelling songs. ‘Pray For Rain’ and ‘Splitting The Atom’ will be familiar to those who bought the EP in Autumn last year and both still sound just as good. The track featuring Damon Albarn, ‘Saturday Come Slow’, is epic in the Massive sense of the word, the tortured rendering of the phrase ‘do you love me?’ is genuinely affecting. Suffice to say, the whole record is great and rewards repeated listens, either at full volume or via the headphones – either way will leave you in no doubt. With that in mind, here’s my current favourite track. Slightly lazy reviewers have been branding it the cousin or brother of ‘Angel’ – presumably because it has a brooding bassline and it features Horace Andy. Beyond that, the comparison is pretty vacuous and suggests that the deadlines for their pieces were sooner than they’d thought and some space needed filling. It is, however, an enormous track, capturing much of what makes Massive Attack so very, very special. Treat yourself below or stream it here. Click here to order the precioussss vinyl edition.
January 29, 2010
Quite why Beth Orton isn’t at least a bit more famous than she is, is beyond me. Her debut album, ‘Trailer Park’, landed right in the midst of the Britpop/Electronica scene to which it was ideally suited and yet it never quite took off. The follow-up, the elegant and really rather well-structured ‘Central Reservation’, which leant more towards the folk influence than the electronic sounds that had been so well combined on the debut, contains some of her best work but still it only sold, well, reasonably. By the time ‘Daybreaker’ appeared, it appeared to only be playing to the previously converted. The delicious ‘Comfort Of Strangers’, as charmingly basic and organic a sounding as I’ve heard in a long, long time, was a thoroughly endearing left-turn and an effective ‘I’m never going to sell millions so I’ll do exactly what I want’ kind of gesture and it remains one of my favourite albums, hence its recent showing in 40 From The Noughties.
Here’s one of her jauntier numbers from her debut, as it’s the weekend and all that. If she’s an artist you’ve never spent much time with, click here to explore her catalogue on Spotify or you could even take a punt on her very reasonably priced back catalogue from your local music emporium. You’ll not be disappointed.
January 28, 2010
I’ve just put to bed my review of his splendid new album, ‘Mark The Hard Earth’, and my thoughts returned to one of the standout moments from his debut. It was one of the Reveal Records releases that I simply bought on trust because I loved the now defunct shop and knew that if Tom Rose, formerly shop owner and now label boss, liked it then I probably would too. I wasn’t disappointed. This is folk music with blood pulsing through the veins. It’s 21st century music that happens to use traditional sounds rather than traditional music trying to sound contemporary. This particular track is a force of nature and never fails to stun. No YouTube options for this one, so it’s Spotify or you can always attempt more nefarious ways to hear it, if you wish. Click the image below to be able to play it.
January 27, 2010
Sometimes you just need one of the most beautiful songs ever written to give you a little pick-me-up. It’s time like that I turn to this. Ludicrously underrated and yet crafters of some of the finest pop songs ever written, let this be the moment when the Trashcans melt your heart.
For some reason, the audio on the video of the studio version of this song is screwed unless you go direct to the following link. So, splendid as this live version is, you might want to click here.
January 26, 2010
One of 2008’s finest albums, ‘Volume One’ by She & Him, arrived in my world a few weeks from the end of that particular year and yet it charmed the proverbial musical pants off me. I remember bunging the disc in the car CD player as set out from the shopping centre car park and five minutes later I was wondering how I had gone this long without giving that record any attention. It soon became a firm favourite, deserving with hindsight to have been much higher in the end of year list, and ‘Volume One’ made a very respectable showing in 40 From The Noughties at Number 21.
The magical pairing of Zooey Deschanel (She) and M. Ward (Him) has been reunited for what I’m hoping will be a fitting companion to that wonderful debut, cunningly entitled ‘Volume Two’. It’ll be arriving in the UK at the start of April, but consider your appetite sufficiently whetted by this teaser track, ‘In The Sun’, which was offered up for download briefly by those Pitchfork types, but which you’ll like be able to acquire with a cursory search of music blogs. While you do that, stream the audio from YouTube below. Classic song writing to make you smile. You’ll love it.