Monday, November 12, 2018

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 336 Amon Duul

The strangest things find their way onto the jukebox at Rosie's. Like this. Amon Duul II's glorious Yeti.

Songs About People # 737 Peter Laughner

The New Lou Reeds pay tribute to one of the legendary doomed souls of Rock and Roll, Peter Laughner, music journalist and pivotal member of the original Pere Ubu.

Songs of the Year # 44 Cornershop

Any year which features 'new Cornershop' is a good year in my book. Here was their offering!

Albums of the Year # 44 The Shacks

'April comes. Easter goes. And with it this wonderful bolt of retro-kitschadelia arrives out of the blue. At least new to me, but I haven't been paying attention. The Shacks have actually been around for a while despite their tender youth. New Yorkers, just short of or barely into their twenties but already having made a mark for themselves with their cover of Ray Davies' This Strange Effect, (written originally for Dave Berry, it's been a Song of the Day on here), which became an iPhone commercial starring Shacks vocalist Shannon Wise. They've now followed that up with debut album, Haze, and it's a sure sign that Spring is finally here.

It's an absolute pearl of a record. Not dissimilar in feel and mood to Whyte Horses second album, Empty Words, which came out last month. Or the wonderful Olden Yolk eponymous record from the month before. Like both of these, it's record collection pop music of the highest order, recalling at various points Os Mutantes, Astrud Gilberto, Sixties Girl Bands, Psychedelic and Bubblegum Pop, Soul, soft Velvet Underground, Dee Lite and De La Soul. Oh and the beach, with the sea lapping on the shore on a gorgeous, sunny day. That will give you the vaguest idea of its beauty but its best to just listen for yourself. It touches quite gorgeous heights at points.

Most of all it seems like a golden dream of sixties kitsch. One run through the record was more than enough to convince me. Thirteen tracks of crafted invention, wonderful songwriting, beautifully recorded echo-chamber gems, remarkable for ones so young. Given that the band have no small profile already it seems sure that Haze will do very well. It's a record with a hip quotient but also a realisation that Pop is sometimes the coolest place of all to be. Something of an instant classic!'

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 30 Lo Boob Oscillator

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 62 Buddy Holly

'Epiphany with hiccups and electric guitar. If you don't get it, just follow the instructions until you're dizzy,then turn it up a little higher.It worked for Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan and it won't fail you.'

Song(s) of the Day # 1,758 Dean Wareham & Cheval Sombre

Dean Wareham and Cheval Sombre team up to make a really lovely album of romantic cowboy songs in the vein of Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. Here are two.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Songs Heard on the Radio # 279 Kacy & Clayton

The distinctive but always welcome lilt and twang of Kacy & Clayton coming out of my radio.

Songs of the Year # 45 Amber Arcades

The fine second album from Amber Arcades, which came out a couple of months ago was full of great songs. Including this one.

Albums of the Year # 45 Santigold - I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions

From August.

'A new album, (or whatever you care to call it), from Santigold came out a couple of weeks back. Over the last ten years she's  consistently been one of the most interesting figures operating around the dance mainstream. At least for me, not someone who pays that area of music an enormous amount of attention or would claim to know an awful lot about the field. But over the years Santigold's stuff has consistently been of interest to me.

And this ranks with anything she's done over the course of that time. Released without much notice, I Don't Want; The Gold Fire Sessions has been presented on its release as much as a Mixtape as a conventional album. Recorded on the run over a couple of weeks in the studios with Dre Skull, it's at once Old School Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean Dancehall and also sounds utterly up to date, at least to my fifty two year old ears.

It's sexy, bubbly, warm, playful and inventive. What category it comes under I'll leave to others who know more about these things than I do. Whatever, it's just great, and seems like an apt soundtrack to the long hot Summer of 2018 which here has been almost relentless and felt like it might go on for ever but is now finally but inevitably sinking towards its inevitable close.'

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 29 Cybele's Reverie

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 63 Elvis Presley

Song of the Day # 1,757 Beak

Krautrock-ish groove from band featuring Geoff Barrow of Portishead.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

David Bowie

Songs of the Year # 46 Bob Mould

Albums of the Year # 46 Frankie Cosmos - Vessel

From March:

'When the heart gets too tender. Return it to sender...'

Frankie Cosmos brings to mind the word 'cute'. Her presentation of herself, her material and her world, undeniably call forth this description very quickly. She's the daughter of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, (not a detail that's insignificant when placing her music), and Vessel, her third album, is just out. 

Listening to it made me think of New York City and being young. People will always be young in that city of course and it will always signal a certain kind of romance, (so long as you're from the right side of the tracks), that will never ever quite change. Think Audrey Hepburn. Think Edie Sedgewick. Think Regina Spector. And now think Frankie Cosmos.

Vessel is a series of smart, sweet indie pop songs, (eighteen tracks in thirty three minutes no less), that never once venture from the formula that Cosmos has already established on her previous records. Pitchfork love it, as they love Frankie Cosmos, possibly because she represents a significant section of their demographic, as well as being undeniably talented. Their review of Vessel contains the following lines:

'(she) has become known as no less than a savior of indie pop and the poet laureate of New York City DIY. With wry minimalism and a voice both cherubic and droll, Kline shows that we feel the depths of the city in a granular way - like in the small defeat of swiping an empty MetroCard, or the tiny victory of ascending in a platform just as the train arrives.' 

This is utterly ridiculous but I imagine the writer enjoyed writing it and as a description it does do something to capture the sheer happy contained, (and undoubtedly privileged),  youth of the record. Vessel doesn't once veer off its pre-regulated rails but that's no criticism. Its songs are finely honed, packaged and wrapped. It's an album of music re-imagined as a box of chocolates and plenty of people will be more than happy with its gifts.'

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 28 Fractal Dream of a Thing

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 64 The Beatles

Song(s) of the Day # 1,756 Rays

Rays are from California, but it's clear from the very first notes of their latest album You Can Get There From Here that they should really trail from Dunedin, New Zealand, so impeccable is their recreation of the Flying Nun Record Label sound.

This is not unusual, the feel of those seminal records can be heard everywhere in Indie music these days, far dwarfing the impact it actually had during the Eighties. Rays complete thrall to the sensibility of those original Chills, Clean, Verlaine, Bats and Look Blue Go Purple records limits their appeal but there are far worse slbums to spend forty minutes of your time with than You Can Get There From Here.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Songs About People # 736 John Berryman

American poet. Incidentally friend of Delmore Schwartz who appeared on here yesterday.

Songs of the Year # 47 Tenderfoot

Albums of the Year # 47 Wussy - What Heaven is Like

'There's a good reason why critics darlings bands are critics darlings bands. Because if the public don't notice how good something is someone has to be there to tell the tale and it might as well be those who write about music for a living. So for Big Star and The Go Betweens before them now we have Cincinnati band Wussy and their new album, (their seventh in all), What Heaven Is Like, just out, a record of blazing, ragged glory that Neil himself might appreciate.

Fronted by Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver Wussy are a band in the line of X, Madder Rose and Houndstooth all wailing guitars and keening vocals, the sound of the road, the prairies, late night neon lit bars, cigarettes, plaid shirts, beers and bourbon. You paint your own picture. Walker's evocative voice gives them another dimension, she has something of the trembling quality of Kristen Hersh and as a result the songs here achieve something of the  haunted strangeness of that wonderful, first Throwing Muses album.

Remarkably the band still has nine to five jobs to manage the trajectory of Wussy around. This is remarkable and remarkably wrong. They're currently in the middle of a short tour of small UK venues and I envy those who are getting to see them because sadly they're not coming anywhere close to me. What Heaven Is Like is a thing of wonder. Stalwart critic Robert Christgau has called them the best band in America and it's clear to see where he's coming from. I've struggled with the new Arctic Monkeys album over the last couple of weeks, a record that has neither melodies nor choruses, (and seems strangely proud of the lack of either), but I think I'll stop struggling. Wussy answer all my immediate needs.'

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 27 Everybody's Weird Except Me

Nick Cave

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 65 Sam & Dave

Song of the Day # 1,755 Pom Poko

Norwegian Post-Punk.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Police

                                                                New York, 1978.

Songs About People # 735 Delmore Shwartz

'In dreams begin responsibilities....' Delmore Schwartz, poet, short story writer and mentor to Lou.

Songs of the Year # 48 Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts got no end of attention this year with the release of Wide Awake! and their subsequent promotion of it. As with Courtney's record I liked individual songs better than the album itself. But while Courtney will feature in my LP rundown Parquet Courts will not, there were a few tracks on Wide Awake! that I just disliked too much. Still, there were also many fine things on it, not least this.

The promo for the song, attached here, illustrates what grates slightly about this band. Their non-stop, full on cockiness. While they share this characteristic with their obvious forbears, Pavement and Sonic Youth, The Courts are so unceasingly in your face about exactly how good they think they are that it irritates more than a little. OK, but I think they're good too, and this won't be the last time they'll feature on this particular countdown.

Albums of the Year # 48 Nap Eyes - I'm Bad Now

From March

'Halifax, Novia Scotia's Nap Eyes return with their third album I'm Bad Now, and it's a triumph. Both of their previous records were excellent too but here there's a sense of things falling into place and a proper definitive statement being made here. The band draw unmistakably  on the lineage of great alternative Rock and Roll. The record overflows with reminders of The Velvet Underground, Modern Lovers, Television, Pavement  and Parquet Courts but I'm Bad Now does their legacy proud and is overflowing with wonderful moments of slacker epiphany.

 Most of all Nap Eyes remind me in the best possibly way of the Velvets of Reed, Morrison, Yule and Tucker and the fluid brilliance of '69 Live. Lead singer Nigel Chapman plays a leading role in terms of providing a drole voice and identity to proceedings but it would be unfair not to credit the band as a unit for what is on show. A series of eleven tracks that knit together seamlessly and will thrill devotees of the proud tradition listed above. The songs are classically crafted and constantly surprise with their flowing warmth and invention. All in all a record that seems sure to offer up further rewards on each successive play. A wonderful achievement!'

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 26 Jenny Ondioline

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 66 Roy Orbison

Song of the Day # 1,754 Egyptian Blue

Jittery Post Punk from promising Brighton based quartet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Songs Heard on the Radio # 278 Danny Kaye

Luke Haines being himself on Boogaloo Radio and setting off with this quite wonderful song.

Courtney Barnett in Paris

Song(s) of the Day # 1,753 Young Romance

Unashamedly young. Unashamedly romantic. A couple of songs from British duo's second album, the aptly named Young Romance

Songs About People # 734 Michael Stipe

Michael Stipe deserves a song. Now he has one. A bit of German, a bit of English.

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 335 The Kinks

The wonderful Face to Face finds its way to Rosie's jukebox.

Songs of the Year # 49 Pete Astor

Featured on here a couple of weeks back. Former Weather Prophet and Loft with a paean to the ultimate slacker. Nice streaks of Johnny Thunders guitar embellishing proceedings here.

Albums of the Year # 49 Amaya Laucirica - Rituals

'The astonishingly named Australian artist Amaya Laucirica has a new album called Rituals, just out, her fifth in all, but her first international release. It's pretty much fascinated me since I listened to it first a couple of days ago. Mostly because of the things it reminded me of and the way it fits so snugly within the traditions it establishes for itself. It's a great record!

Laucirica was brought up in the Australian outback, and somehow, listening to Rituals and following the clues it lays down, that fact makes perfect sense. First track Little Clouds opens up in a manner highly reminiscent of The Triffids Wide Open Road, all wide eyed transcendental awe at this phenomenal space. Elsewhere, the record sounds like the one that Grant McLennan might have come up with on the original break up of The Go Betweens at the end of the Eighties, had he decided to produce and write for band member Amanda Brown, (the woman he loved at that point in time), rather than go off to record his own solo stuff.  

High praise indeed and Rituals is well worthy of it. It evokes the space and sound of Born Sandy Devotional and 16 Lovers Lane without ever encroaching on their territory. There are definitely some eighties production values and sounds on the record, (a huge part of its appeal), and all the while Laucirica's voice floats effortlessly across the spaces established by them. While not an exceptional voice in itself, it's effectively used to add to a considerable mood which becomes more compelling with every play of the album.

Rituals comes up with one or two barnstorming moments on an album of solid songs which although it might occasionally feel as if you've been served up a bit too much Angel's Delight for dessert,  generally stands it ground. In addition to All of our Time which Grant himself would have been proud of, I'd single out Endangered Man, which sounds like Serge Gainsbourg, Mick Harvey and Jane Birkin meeting up in a dream. One of the very best songs I've heard this year.

A couple of tracks on comes Could This Be which sounds like the song that David Lynch forgot to include on the original Twin Peaks soundtrack. Minutes later the album comes to an end and you really begin to think, 'should I just play the whole thing over again?' Rituals has considerable merits which I hope I've sold successfully to you and you'll have a listen to discover its pleasurable depths for yourself. All in all a fine album which deserves to find a considerable appreciative audience.'

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 25 The Nth Degree

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 67 Nolan Strang & the Diabolos

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Songs About People # 733 Gregory Peck

Song of the Year # 50 Courtney Barnett - City Seems Pretty

And why not, a complementary list of songs. Starting with Courtney who will have several entries here. This is such a neat Velvets chug.....

Albums of the Year # 50 Holy Tunics - Butterdish

And we start with this. From back in June!

It's gratifying to see so many bands exploring the possibilities of  melodic Eighties Indie guitars and plaintive, lovelorn vocals. It's one of the decades' finest musical legacies after all. So whether the starting point is The Feelies, Orange Juice, Smiths, Miracle Legion, R.E.M, Paisley Underground, Flying Nun or C-86 it's great that this moment and the wonderful records it produced is still seen as offering a treasure trove of pleasures and opportunities thirty years on.

The latest kids on this particular block are Brooklyn's Holy Tunics who released their debut album Butter Dish about a month back. It jangles, it chimes, it yearns, it makes you feel that you still have a decent fringe again and have just turned eighteen. It's altogether rather lovely. Coming hot on the heels of the fabulous Lawn debut Blood On The Tracks which I've been singing the praises of  over the last couple of days, it's another sign if one is needed that 2018 has no end of wonderful guitar bands to enjoy if you just scratch beneath the surface. I give you Lawn, Say Sue Me, Olden Yolk Salad Boys and Nap Eyes. And now Holy Tunics. And that's just for starters.

Holy Tunics can stand pretty much shoulder to shoulder with any one of them. They take familiar ingredients but are no mere imitators, there's real lyrical guile and melodic muscle and to every track on Butter Dish. This may well serve as a tasty entree for the much-awaited Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever album which comes into port in a couple of weeks and draws on a similar musical heritage. June it seems is busting out all over!!!

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums of the Year 2018

So here we are, fifty days from Christmas Day and this particular countdown begins. This is the third time I've done this particular thing on here, and this time my preparation for it has been more intensive than ever before. I've certainly listened to more new albums than before and this countdown of fifty comes from at least a hundred contenders. It's still quite an arbitrary list though with the final rundown still not completely decided on and liable to change with at least a couple of records still to be released which should make the end list.....

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 24 Feel & Triple

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 68 The Drifters

Song of the Day # 1,752 The Flesh Eaters

Veteran American Punk Rockabillies to their thing proudly all these years down the line.