Legendary Babylonian king gets Reggae name-drop.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Here's one of my very favourite songs of all. From Smog, which used to be the moniker Bill Callahan worked under for many year before he decided to drop the pretence and work under the moniker Bill Callahan instead. His is a very particular sensibility. Influenced by other things obviously, I'd put The Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen as the core of where he started out from but with a clear identity and guiding personality all of its own, identifiable in virtually all his work, which could perhaps best be described as wry and stoical.
Here's the opening track from Red Apple Falls, one of Smog's best which came out in 1997. Remarkably, that's now twenty years ago. The song's called The Morning Paper. The morning paper is something which always arrives, (supposing you're in that small minority that still orders delivery of these things, it happened more back then). I think it's about learning to ignore what goes on out there and maintaining an inner vedic calm. Jolly good advice and a cracking downbeat tune, complete with parping trumpets. The kind of thing the indie fraternity does best.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Some AOR radio memories. At least of mine.This stuff absolutely swamped the airwaves in the mid-seventies and though history has it that it was really just there to make the case for the absolute need for Punk it was nevertheless a soundtrack to millions of youths all in itself. Here's one that still haunts me, tacky as it is, drifting back across the years.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Utterly in the leftfield and clearly not for all tastes, Newcastle folk artist Richard Dawson is one of the bravest artist.going, his latest album is a song cycle based on the lives of the inhabitants of Bryneich, a Kingdom of the Old North. No, stop! Listen to it. It's good!
Friday, June 23, 2017
There is such a sea of music, constantly incoming, that it's often difficult to differentiate between individual voices and statements and judge what you want to retain and what you'll just let flow on. This caught my ear yesterday, A couple of songs from a debut album released today. By a Syrian singer, born in Aleppo of all places, who made her way from there to Saudi and then to the States.
Something of a traveller since across its states since, California seems like a natural home. This is very much a Laurel Canyon record in terms of inspiration and feel though Bedouine never forgets for a moment where she's from and the traces of her journey are here in the music. A contemplative and meditative set of songs you might like to open up to and enjoy.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
The story of Donald Crowhurst is one of the strangest and saddest of all. The man pressured by debts and events into a position where it seems he considered cheating in the 1969 single-manned round the world race before succumbing to insanity and probable suicide.
A couple of years I saw the reformed Ride at Newcastle Academy and it was not only the best gig I witnessed in 2015 but definitely up there with my best ever and I've seen quite a few bands down the years. With Ride ultimately the appeal hinges on whether you surrender to the sheer sincerity and sound of the songs, the Byrds front section backed by the Who's rhythm section, (in this respect bassist and drummer Steve Queralt and drummer Laurence Colbert are a remarkable unit who have never quite received their due), or find their undeniable Home Counties qualities negligible and weak. Seeing them live established their credentials once and for all for me. They take you to some places that are definitively theirs.
Now they've taken their reformation further and produced an album that has much to recommend it. If nothing else it clearly establishes that Ride was the proper place for Andy Bell and becoming a sideman for Oasis was actually a failure on his part to acknowledge his own personal legacy and his primary working partnership with frontman Mark Gardener rather than someone whose proper place in the world was standing a few feet behind Noel Gallagher.
Ride were a band who did not fully realise the potential of their first two albums first time round and its difficult to resent them some time in the sun time round now. Although some lyrics fall apart before you, Weather Diaries is musically sturdy and has some decidedly transcendental moments where they reach for and achieve a mid-life grace. This is a considered and worthy statement, slightly battered by middle age and the assault that living in the UK makes on all our nervous systems, (both in terms of its incomprehensible weather and turbulent and dangerous contemporary political climate, an obvious concern throughout). Ride should make some deserved waves this weekend at Glastonbury. They'll also be back in Newcastle this winter and I'll make a point of being there to see them again.
A noteworthy new album called Rocket from Alex G. also known as Sandy, with a rather fetching goat on the front cover. The stuff I really like from it is the almost traditional songs in an Elliott Smith vein. Elsewhere he goes a little bit more leftfield without any immediately apparent rationale for me but I do commend you to the bits of the record that work. I'd say he's at his best when he plays it straight.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Kevin Morby follows up last year's splendid Singing Saw with the equally splendid City Music. An artist with a very strong sense of place, he shifts his focus from the rural to the urban, (most obviously New York, the city of all cities), and it feels like choosing to put on your New York Punk records after playing Nashville Skyline.
It's a deft, assured record. Morby understands the rhythms of the city, just as he appreciates the artistic predecessors who've charted this territory before. On second track Cry Baby the glacial riff that powers I Wanna Be Your Dog gets disinterred, then 1234, (less than two minutes long and quite perfect for it), pays tribute to The Ramones and Jim Carroll for their lives of urban purity in the most apt and succinct terms imaginable, 'Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, they were all my friends. And they died...'
After these two early peaks it would seem that City Music will do well to maintain it's high water mark but Morby is an artist not only with a clear and nuanced understanding of the sources he draws on but enough sheer vision, talent and guts to put his own work up for worthy comparison with the greats. Each successive track remarkably achieves new plateaus. There's soul, blues, folk, rock and punk music here for your delectation and Morby does justice to each. There's also a keen feel for the literary heritage of urban existence in all its contradictory, trapped abandon. A great record, of the old school, for 2017!
A Brooklyn Indie veteran, having done service with Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose's solo stuff finds her breaking off into fresh territory. Trouble, the lead off single from her forthcoming album Cage Tropical is Giorgio Moroder meets Stereolab. It gets better with every play. Neat video too. A good start to any day!
Monday, June 19, 2017
A short Clem Snide feature. They're a trio, operational since the early nineties, formed in Boston by Eef Barzeley, named after a William Burrough's fictional character and notable for deft, wry songs that mix up elements of jazz, folk and country. Here they tip their hat to Joan Jett. Though it may really be mere wordplay.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
A couple of tracks from the wonderful new Enderby's Room album, just out on fika Records which speacialises in this kind of homely folk and indie. Powered by traditional instruments such as church harmonium, French horn and ukelele, it's a beautful, warm and thoughtful collection of songs
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017
'Another year's gone by. Hell, I'm still alive...'!
Hey, I love the Velvet Underground, Jonathan Richman, Pavement, Silver Jews, Bill Callahan, Dean Wareham, Parquet Courts, Nap Eyes and that whole wonderful indie sensibility of underachieving, laconic, stumbling American alternative Rock and Roll. So clearly do Detroit's Bonny Doon, (not to be confused with the tiny town in the wine growing region of California from which they take their name ), whose self-titled debut album, just out, almost embodies the combined sensibilities of the artists just mentioned. Virtually every song sounds like a late contestant for the Juno soundtrack. Perhaps the fact that it doesn't break a single rule laid down by its forbears or really carry it into anything even approaching fresh territory should really mark it out for reproach even in it's mildest form but I simply don't have the heart, because they play the part so well and someone somewhere will be surely be chancing upon this record as we speak and it may well be their first entree to that whole delicious feast. Tuck in, whoever you are!
(The one song I've found a link to, posted above, was initially released on a 2014 EP, which I think is the version you get above, but also features on the current album).
Thursday, June 15, 2017
And from a film strongly featuring Nilsson's version of Fred Neils's Everybody's Talkin' here's the title cut.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Woke up with Tom Tom Club going round my head, definitely a good thing and a sign it must be summer. Here's perhaps their best known song, (along with Wordy Rappinghood), a celebration of everything that's so wonderful about black dance music, from their essential first album.