The sticker on the front of the CD informs me that it includes a bonus 4” vinyl record with two further tracks. I can’t lie. My eyes light up and I’m sold. I’d read about Mayer Hawthorne in a few end of year pieces but my overall knowledge of him was pretty sketchy. Having said that, I’d been meaning to give him a proper listen at some point soon. Browsing the pitifully meagre and woefully overpriced racks of HMV yesterday, I alighted upon Hawthorne’s album, ‘A Strange Arrangement’, with the aforementioned sticker to lure me in. As it is, I’ve ended up very glad indeed that this particular record caught my attention. It’s all about the vintage soul sound that many try and few perfect. Winehouse did it. Sharon Jones can do it with her eyes closed and now, to that list, can be added Mayer Hawthorne. Technically, this post is all about the ‘big’ single release from that album, ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’, which is the first of the two clips below, but I’ve also included a video of somebody actually playing the charming 4” vinyl that you can simply slide out of the CD sleeve. Should you wish to treat yourself to a listen to the album, click here.
I have little to say about this one, although one day I really should take some time to try and write something meaningful about this remarkable artist. A return visit to Rebound in York, who I mentioned sometime back in August last year, yielded two Waits titles on immaculate vinyl, including this track’s parent album, ‘Closing Time’. You can hear what he’s singing! It doesn’t sound like your life is in danger! There might still be a few drops left in the bottle! Splendid stuff.
I do not give a wibbling tit that I have already had a PSB SotD for two excellent reasons. Firstly, they’re great. Secondly, tonight is BRITs night and I spent a chunk of this afternoon watching their really rather splendid ‘Pandemonium’ Tour DVD which came out yesterday. There aren’t really any performers like them and their grasp on pop is truly masterful. This performance livened up an otherwise dreary show last year and with Peter Kay hosting this year, I’m not hoping for any great improvement.
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.
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:
*I know, I know, but sometimes it’s just so easy you have to rely on hackneyed comparisons!
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.
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.