Do you have hallucinatory visions of The Chuckle Brothers?

Mojo readers – is it wrong to like that cover of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da‘ by Gabriella Cilmi that’s on this month’s free CD? Clearly, it’s dreadful, wrong and naughty, but something about it got under my skin. Surreal, to say the least. Not a great start, I know, wittering on about a track you’ll only know if you buy a certain magazine. Not unusual, either.

The post had a few surprises in it today. Firstly, the new Herman Dune album, ‘Next Year In Zion’, which is really rather good. Never taken to them in the past, but, on first impressions, it sounds splendid. They haven’t changed particularly, perhaps I have.

Secondly, a new album from Misty’s Big Adventure! Oh yes! The last one only came out towards the end of last year, but even so there is more to delight, thrill and confuzzle your ears. ‘Television’s People’ is a concept album about a troubled man seeking solace in daytime stodge who ends up getting sucked into the TV. Delightfully bizarre, but not especially surprising when it comes to Misty’s. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of this lot  then a) you’re not a long-standing, loyal reader of the Vinyl Junkies internet presence (fair enough, really) and b) you’re in for an absolute treat. Start with the album, ‘The Black Hole’ and then buy everything else. Anyhoo, this album is wonderfully good and comes with a quite brilliant press release by Grandmaster Gareth (the head honcho). I truly hope the good folk of Misty’s and SL records won’t mind that I’ve temporarily placed track 10, ‘There Is Hope’ on the Muxtape, simply because of its comic genius. It documents the daytime commercials coming alive in the head of the man at the centre of the story and he starts to believe that the telly is talking to him. Superb. Naturally, if anyone’s pissed off at its presence on the Mux, please let me know and it’ll disappear rapidly. That also goes for any of the new bands whose material I’ve popped on there as a taster for those who’d like to go and spend their hard earned quids on some independent releases.

As I believe I mentioned the other day, I was off on my jolly holidays last week and upon arrival I was heartened by the lack of phone reception and utterly shite TV signal. I was subsequently startled when I turned on the DAB radio and had the strongest reception I’ve ever had. Figure that out. Anyway, as a result of that, I ended up spending some time with 6music outside of the Gideon Coe show. In particular, I spent a few afternoons with the ever-delightful Lammo. Only the other week I was praising his blog and now it’s the turn of his radio show. His ‘New Favourite Band’ feature is a logical extension of what he’s been doing on the radio for years and years. Quite simply, each week he identifies a new act to which he’s taken a shine. Last week it was Tom Williams & The Boat. It’s a good band name that. Although the name at the start is nothing out of the ordinary, by adding ‘& The Boat‘ on the end, the name is suddenly memorable. It would’ve been enough to keep it lodged in my mind until I got back to the world of Google. Obviously, I’m geeky enough that if I ever happen upon music I like when I can’t do anything about it, I save the name of act and song as a draft text message, but if I wasn’t a geek, I’d still have been able to remember their name.

Anyway, we got sidetracked there. Tom Williams & The Boat’s latest release is the ‘Got Fuel EP’, which you can get from this website. It’s a delightful little package, coming as it does in a PVC sleeve with a wraparound sleeve made of glossy photos stuck to sugar paper. Inside, you get two more photos, a lyric sheet and, of course, the rather splendid CD. ‘Got Fuel’ is a delightfully woozy indie singalong that has been going round in my head for the best part of this week. To confuse matters, there’s a song called ‘Pete & The Pirates’ that actually sounds like a menacing version of The Young Republic and ‘Half Mast’ contains one of my current favourite lyrical refrains; “I don’t have a hoodie set at half mast, sitting on my fringe like  balaclava on my chin.” I’m not putting it on the Mux because I think the bloke deserves £6 for that alone.

The whole EP is great but, should you want more convincing, over on the main TW&TB site there are loads of free downloads, including some rather amusing covers. Treat yourself.

One final act of note today. Our Broken Garden are a new act on the, quite superb, Bella Union label. She – for it is only one woman, Anna Broensted of Efterklang – had an EP out back in April called, ‘Lost Sailor’ and there’s a new album on the way in September, entitled ‘When Your Blackening Shows’. Nothing else to tell, I’m afraid, but you can be thoroughly enchanted by the tunes over at the Myspace page.

 

 

So, in conclusion, don’t read this…

I love Steve Lamacq. Not like that. Obviously. Although, I guess I could pretend if I could get near his record collection. He was the aural comfort blanket on the nineties and I adored listening every evening to the Session. Jo Whiley‘s subsequent media whoredom has tainted her legacy a little and I now tend to just remember Steve’s grand work. These days he’s on Radio 1, Radio 2 and the afternoon host on BBC 6 Music, also home to the beloved Gideon Coe. His shows remain a delight, but he’s gone back to his roots and you can read his musings on music in blog form. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s still as bloody great as he was back in his pre-radio days.

Go here for a number of witty, eloquent and downright entertaining blog posts.

Why do I bother?

In a nutshell, I’ve bought lots of records.

I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable week, piling up CDs wherever there was space remaining. After getting hooked on the Trashcan Sinatras last weekend, the three albums of theirs I didn’t own arrived from various different parts of the UK. DVD.co.uk have an insane 4 for £15 offer on that, at the time I ordered, included the deluxe edition of Joy Division‘s ‘Still‘ amongst the spoils. Add in The Loose Salute, The Blue Nile, Northern Portrait and Ladybug Transistor after hearing them played on Gideon Coe‘s show and it’s been rather a splendid week for new tunes.

The Northern Portrait EP , ‘The Fallen Aristocracy‘ is a little charmer. Four songs of prime British indie jangle a la The Smiths, only made by a trio from Denmark. Even the cover looks like a Smiths record, which earns them a bonus points or two. Sample a track via the mux if you happen to be interested. See the previous post about this EP to order yourself a copy.

I’m now incredibly glad that I pursued The Trashcan Sinatras after ‘How Can I Apply?‘ piqued my interest last week. Its parent album, ‘A Happy Pocket’ is a total charmer of Teenage Fanclub proportions, while ‘I’ve Seen Everything’ – their second album – also has a touch of late Beatles to it. The harmonies are divine and every last second is so delicately constructed I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t know about it before this week. That said, when you look at it on Amazon, most of the reviewers seem intent upon mentioning Travis, which is enough to make you think again. The aforementioned, ‘How Can I Apply?‘ has also made it to the mux this week, and their first three albums, while not in print, can be tracked down for reasonable prices by trawling all of the different online outlets for second-hand music.

Momofuku‘ to you and you and ba-ba-bahh. Bonkers name for an album, even more bonkers approach to distribution in the UK, but nevertheless, the new Elvis Costello is upon us. It’s actually really rather good. It was supposed to be double vinyl and download only, but it didn’t quite work out like that and a CD copy will be in all good stores from tomorrow. Which is more than can be said about the vinyl edition. That said, it would seem that it has just reached British shores as Amazon briefly had two copies in stock on Friday. HMV are knocking it out cheap too, but to me it seems like the sort of thing you should buy from an indie store. You know, one of the shops that carried on supporting vinyl even when the big stores were trying to persuade us that we didn’t need it anymore. The ones who haven’t just come flooding back to it because they sense the opportunity for a quick buck. Anyway, despite the fact that the album actually came out in the US on April 22nd didn’t seem to bother the distributors in the UK who, despite seemingly having told most shops that the UK release date would essentially be the same, have been unable to supply any copies to any shops until the last couple of days, thus bringing the vinyl release date, at least in the UK, in line with the CD’s appearance. Dopey, if you ask me. I ended up buying my vinyl from the US because I was tired of waiting, and it’s this kind of balls-up that the industry could do without right now. Some of the more charming if neurotic types over at the Elvis Costello forums have decided it’s all a deliberate part of Costello’s plan to piss off the UK because some posh people went to Glastonbury the other year. Is it fuck.

Oh, and the Portishead album’s actually rather good. There had been mumblings about the record after a sub-standard leak appeared some time ago, but the beefy and brutal sound of the double vinyl has made me sit up and take notice. ‘The Rip’ may well be one of the finest tunes released this year. Still think that £40 boxset’s a big old load of bollocks though.

I’s tunes

Recommending tunes was always meant to be the real reason for this blog existing, and I realised today that I’ve not done that for a bit. So…

A couple of weeks back, BBC 6Music‘s ‘Roundtable‘ played a track from the Bon Iver album, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ which ticked all of those completely subconscious boxes that simply cause your ears to tingle and your heart to race. I quickly purchased a copy of said album and was not disappointed. It’s hard to describe the quirky voice that ebbs and flows across the album’s nine tracks. If Elbow staged a coup of Arcade Fire, it might sound a bit like this. Or not. It’s lovely. Go here, and choose ‘Skinny Love’. Then go here and click ‘Add to Shopping Cart’. Or, if you’re an eMusicer then it’s here, with a bonus track.

Ever since I heard Mark Radcliffe play ‘Fat As A Fiddle’, I’ve been wanting to hear the new album by Chris Difford (you know, him out of Squeeze… no, the other one.) Rather brilliantly titled, ‘The Last Temptation of Chris’ is a beautiful little album full of melodic reflections on life from the other side of your fiftieth birthday. If you love Teenage Fanclub‘s ‘Songs From Northern Britain‘ then you should really treat yourself to this one.

Here is the aforementioned single (“Now I have tits, just like my mum”) while the album is knocking about with free delivery here.

The Sea and Cake are not exactly a groundbreaking discovery, but they’re new to me. I heard them on Gideon Coe‘s show last week and was smitten. They have a slightly jazzy, soulful but acoustic feel and clearly love a good pop melody. If you look them up on places like Allmusic then you’ll find that the members of the band were originally in lots of bands you’ve never heard of. Not that you need to now, as I’ve just told you. Anyway, I now own three of their albums and don’t intend stopping there. You can hear tracks from the most recent, and deeply charming, album ‘Everybodyhere. Part with cash here.

Finally, an extra mention for Malcolm Middleton, who I surely must have talked about in the past. Hmm, he’s not in the tags. How remiss of me. He’s ace, to put it simply. Because he’s a truly splendid man, you can listen to all of his latest stuff for free over at that there last.fm place. In particular, go for ‘Blue Plastic Bags’, a strikingly bleak, but ever-so-wry, take on British life. “The whole world’s going home with blue plastic bags. Six bottles of Stella, Jacob’s Creek and twenty fags.” This track’s just come out as a blue vinyl 7″, although you should treat yourself to the parent album, ‘Sleight Of Heart’.

Duffing is very much the anti-shabba

Attentive readers of the blog will have noticed the new clickable banner at the bottom of the page. It refers to Gideon Coe‘s quite brilliant radio show on BBC 6Music. I get nothing from doing this, naturally, I just love the show and think you might do so too. I was always rather fond of Mr Coe when he was in the mid-morning slot on the station, a gig he occupied from the station’s launch in 2002 until October of last year. At that point, a straight swap was made George Lamb, then-host of the station’s late show. I have to confess that I was actually quite pleased, as previously I’d had bugger all chance of hearing Gideon as I was in no position to listen to his daytime show at work. Catching his show when enjoying time off was always a delight, but it always seemed a shame that I couldn’t hear more of it.

Gideon has created a wonderful show in the 10pm-1am slot and I cannot think of another radio programme being broadcast anywhere in the world that I rate higher than this one. The music is absolutely spot on and the sense of community is right up there with the work of the late, great Peelie. With regard to the music; as a reader of this blog I’m guessing we have at least vaguely similar tastes in tunes and therefore I should utter some brief words of caution. Unless you can afford to dispense with a tenner a week as a result of hearing something great that you previously didn’t know existed, don’t tune in. Only last night, I sent $8, via Paypal, to Matinee Recordings for the debut EP by Northern Portrait as a result of hearing one of the tracks on Gid’s show.

The listener interaction makes for one of the most pleasant ends to a day I can think of, and it’s not just about inviting emails and texts. Far from it. In fact, it’s all about the topics he chooses to pursue and the quaint regular features such as ‘Paintbox Jury’ (famous-ish albums covers, re-done in Paint) and ‘Duffing’ (listeners’ emails in which they have a gentle moan about the world – all ages welcome.) On top of all of this, Gideon is, quite simply, a very witty man. At a time when silly little catchphrases and tales of getting drunk constitute ‘radio banter’, it’s a relief to listen to a show where it’s acceptable to:

a) give a shit about music

and

b) have at least a modicum of intelligence

It’s rarer than you’d think these days.

Were this blog a school playground, at least one person would now be shouting, ‘Why don’t you just marry him if you love him that much?’ such is my eulogising about the show. But it’s all perfectly sincere. It’s nice to hear a show that seems designed for you. If it was bollocks then I wouldn’t waste your precious time with it, but I genuinely believe you should have a listen. You may well like it muchly.

Gideon’s video manifesto for the late show

Last Night’s Show

Oh, and don’t, whatever you do, play the new Portishead 12″, ‘Machine Gun’, at 33 1/3 rpm. It’ll fair make you shit yourself.

No more than seven years behind the times

Musical Revelations Of The Week:

Paul Weller – ‘Heliocentric‘ – Yup, finger on the pulse of yoof music, once again. As I said a week ago, I’ve finally picked up the two Weller solo albums that were missing from my collection, this one and ‘Heavy Soul.’ I won’t go over the reasons for the delay again, but suffice to say I’ve been proved wrong. Somebody I work with is absolutely obsessive about Weller and recently attempted to persuade me that this album was far better than critics judged it on release. I allowed him to blather on for a little while, before dismissing such fanciful notions with but a waft of my eyelashes. However, I think he might actually be right. I’ve been playing it quite a lot this week – that and ‘Lady’s Bridge‘ – and it’s really starting to win me over. It’s not so much individual songs that stand out, but the overall mood that it creates. It’s soulful, it’s got that earthy-rock sound that has more than a little blues in there and his singing is marvellous. There is, however, one tune that does stand out, and that’s the closer, ‘Love-less.’ One of Weller’s heart-breaking, piano-led ballads that just floors me. A delight, not to mention a surprise. The spiffing chap himself was in the Sunday Times magazine today which I happened upon as a result of switching from the Sindy as a result of the free World Cup guide. I’m such an oval-ball whore. That seems so much worse written down than it did in my head.
Booker T. & The MGs – Picked up the ‘Stax Profiles‘ CD from Fopp the other day because a) it was £4 b) it’s compiled by Elvis Costello. I’ve always been quite fond of BT&MGs, but the ‘Complete Stax/Volt Singles‘ and their ‘Green Onions‘ album had always seemed to suffice. This album was something of a revelation and Costello must take some of the credit for his wonderfully enthusiastic sleevenotes. Sitting between the speakers and giving it my full attention I realised that I’d done this lot a disservice in the past. Don’t just judge them on ‘Green Onions‘ and don’t write them of as background music. At this price, you can just buy it rather than have me try and capture the raw power of these tracks on a blog on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Super Furry Animals – ‘Hey Venus!‘ – I was convinced that, having waited an extra week for it, the vinyl edition was going to be a shit pressing that sounded like somebody was eating a bag of salt and vinegar throughout, but no, the LP of this quite marvellous record sounds ace. In addition to that, you’ve really got to get it just to see that artwork in its 12″x12″ glory.
Non-musical Revelations Of The Week:
The Smoking Room – Got series two on DVD this week and it reignited my love affair with this programme. The laws of the land ensure that a third series would be highly improbable, but that doesn’t stop the two that exist being laugh-out-loud funny throughout. A beautifully observed bunch of regular characters reaching into double figures spend each episode doing little more than talking. This would be shit, but for the perfectly crafted dialogue and the meticulous performances from the cast. Video samples from here.
The Likely Lads – It’s my firmly-held belief that ‘Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?’ is one of the all time great comedy shows but I’d never got round to buying the DVD of the surviving episodes of the original, black and white series from the sixties. The Beeb, back in the days before archive material was the never-ending source of money, had wiped a great deal of legendary material – Pete and Dud and Dad’s Army suffered similarly cruel fates, but these seven episodes remain. They’re bloody funny. To be fair, it’s the later episodes that stand up the most, but still, I remain hugely jealous of Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, writers of not only this, but the follow-up series and another of the greatest shows of all time, Porridge and its follow-up, Going Straight. The Likely Lads owes a great deal of its entertainment value to the performances of Rodney Bewes and James Bolam who are superb throughout. Their entirely believeable relationship adds a dramatic elements to events, as well ensuring that every gag is milked to its full potential. Wonderful stuff, and currently going rather cheap. (You can get the surviving episodes of this series, plus both series of ‘WHTTLL?’ in a box for £17.99 here)
Gideon Coe on 6music moving – I was rather dismayed to learn that one of the most under-rated presenters on British radio is being moved from his morning slot to the equivalent show at the other end of the day. From 22nd October, Gid will be hosting 10pm-1am, while shouty E4 tyke, George Lamb will do a straight swap into the mid-morning show. Is it a genius move to provide music lovers with an excellent late night listening experience now that Radcliffe’s been moved up the schedule or is it yet more dumbing down of 6music to the point that intelligent presenters can no longer be heard during daylight hours?