It’s Still Here

Hello again.

It’s absolutely pissing it down here, and has been for the last 48 hours. My foot’s aching after falling down the stairs, but apart from these things, all is well. I hope the same can be said for you. Amongst the music related post this month was a particularly scary promo item with additional security. Now, I’m used to watermarked CDs – apparently any rips from these discs can be traced back to the original. Not sure if this has ever happened, I would imagine everyone’s too shit-scared to try it – and sealed cases for promos, but for the promo of the new Marvin Gaye reissue set for ‘In Our Lifetime’ it not only had a unique number on the CD, but it was also written on the jiffy bag. I didn’t really feel like I should be opening the thing, for fear of somehow incriminating myself. It’s like when you see a police car and you automatically feel guilty – even though you’ve done nothing wrong (unless we have any drug-barrens or multi-national fraudsters reading). Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the music on the discs is spiffing, containing the original mixes of the album before they were remixed, without Marv’s consent, ahead of finally being released.

Other promo stuff of note – in other words, some bands to keep an ear out for in coming weeks and months – includes Dirk Darmstaedter‘s new album, ‘Our Favourite City’. While his name makes him sound like middle-management in Ikea, the music is sun-kissed indie-soul straight out of the world of Josh Rouse‘s excellent ‘1972’ album. The cover looks bleak and you expect it to be a mopey, singer-songwriter record with ‘woe is me’ written through it and twelve songs that are identical bar the painful metaphors for loneliness. Joyous pop of the highest order. He used to be in a band called, ‘The Jeremy Days’. Poor bugger’s clearly never had any luck with names. See and hear him in action here:

Also, coming soon is the new album by Jonathan Krisp with the quite tremendous title, ‘No Horse, No Wife, No Moustache’. It’s part Royksopp and part Lemon Jelly. It’s that quirky dance music with vintage samples and easy listening sounds peppered with electronic trickery and loops to provoke twattish grins on a hot summer day (and after 48 hours of solid rain, as it turns out). It’s on the Cookshop label, while Dirk is on Tapete.

There’s plenty of vintage soul on the way as part of the Stax 50 celebrations, including the Johnnie Taylor live album, as well as the old Stax/Volt singles boxset reisssued as 9 separate CDs. Those CDs are naturally essential items for any self-respecting record collection and currently going for £5 in that there high street shop that rhymes with, well, shop. Also, ‘This Is Soul’, essentially the FIRST soul compilation has been reissued in a mini-LP-style gatefold sleeve along with a stack of bonus tracks. Nothing new, but they all sound tremendous next to each other – and it looks pretty!

As for the more conventional stuff, there’s some great mainstream releases on the shelves at the moment. People always expect me to be apologetic for liking the Manics, but I stand by the fact that they are rarely anything other than excellent. ‘Know Your Enemy’ was a pile of shite and ‘This Is My Truth’ was a few songs too long, but otherwise there’s much to love. ‘Send Away The Tigers’, their latest offering, is one of their best. Short and to the point, it’s riff-heavy, power-chord-obssessed and epic in a way that every other writer is comparing to ‘Everything Must Go’ – can’t see any point in disagreeing for the sake of it. If you’ve had even a passing interest in the band in the past, you’ll love it.

Wilco‘s album got a mention last time out, and it’s finally in the shops now. It’s possibly their best, and so I will briefly talk about it again. The heavyweight vinyl edition is on the way, as their 180g vinyl pressings for their last two studio albums were quite something, and this one will suit that treatment just as much. Not much more to say other than buy the bloody thing.

Say it very quietly, but the Travis album’s quite good. It’s their best since ‘The Man Who’, if not their best ever. There’s bit more kick on some songs and they’ve ditched the two things that have held them back in recent years. (1) Fran’s desire to be politically active in his lyrics, despite this sounding really rather crap (2) A constant determination to keep making songs that sounded like the old, successful ones. ‘The Boy With No Name’ sounds much less forced and is all the more enjoyable for it. Still not the greatest lyrics, mind.

Tiny Dancers have an album called ‘Free School Milk’ out in a few weeks and it’s barn-storming indie-pop to listen to whilst chewing on a bit of straw and putting on an embarrassing and potentially offensive ‘farmer’ accent. 80% enjoyable album from a band who are almost frighteningly eager to please. If you’re after future eBay profits, then picking up their early singles now mightn’t be a bad idea.

The Maps album, ‘We Can Create’ is a thing of electronic beauty which will wash over you at first, and runs the risk of not being recognised as the classy collection of tunes it is. Mark Ronson‘s ‘Version’ is worth picking up for the Amy Winehouse take on ‘Valerie’ and a funk/soul instrumental take on Coldplay‘s ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’. There’s also a re-worked version of Maximo Park‘s ‘Apply Some Pressure’. Their latest album, ‘Our Earthly Pleasures’ reminds me of The Jam and Gene at times – no great surprise that they’d be linked – and in no bad way. It’s got some intriguing lyrics, a number of which I’m still not sure about – Profound or Shite? An example: “Nightfalls, And towns become circuit boards“. Listening to it the first time, in the rain, it charmed the pants off me, but when I listened back to it I was less sure. Anyway, it’s a decent little record that I’ll keep returning to.

Oh, and Bjork‘s new album’s out. It has to be said that listening in surround sound to her music makes me even more convinced that sounding like a mad fucker on your records must make it quite fun in the studio. At times ‘Volta’ is beguiling, but at other times it’s plain scary. I’ve no idea if it’s any good yet – does anyone else feel like listening to Bjork is a little like homework? You know you should do it, but it’s hard motivating yourself to do it properly, or to get to the end. Hmmm, and the packaging’s a sod to get into.

More soon. Much sooner than before. No really.

Speak soon,

Gaz

(Cross-posted to the blog in the hope of you nipping over to the site)

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