Monday, October 25, 2021

Waiting For the Sun by Barney Hoskyns # 4 The Byrds

 


The Byrds become LA's Pied Pipers.




Jarvis Cocker - Chansons d'Ennui Tip-Hop

 

We're all belately returning to the cinema and there are a number of proper ytreats beckoning us into the darkness. Todd Haynes ' Velvet Underground, much more than a documentary, a new Bond if that'syour thing, Dune, a Ridley Scott. Also The French Dispatch, the latest from Wes Anderson, certainly up there among my favourite directors of recent decades.

And to sountrack that. Jarvis Cocker, the most unlikely Parisian adoptee of all, singing a number of absolutely classic Gallic Pop songs of the Sixties in a truly terrible French O Level accent. It's a quite miraculous performance. He makes French sound like an unspeakable language.

What more could any fan of this kind of infantile ennui wish for. Not much, This, along with Elvis Costello & The Attractions Spanish Model and Tronco's spectral Nainonai is my fun album of the year. A place to retreat to when the travails of life become all a bit too much. That's rather often these days.

So Jarvis does Serge. He does Cristophe. He does Francoise Hardy and her grand amour Jacques Dutronc. He does it all admirably with his tongue in his cheek and his heart on his sleeve at one and the same time. Tres Bien! Jarvis. Tres Bien! J'irai voir le film plus tard dans la semaine.Merci Google Translate.



Songs of the Year # 62 The War on Drugs

 


Albums of the Year # 62 Civic - Future Forecast

 In a year of Post Punk wherever you looked. This was one of the finest albus to actually deserve that label:


 


Post Punk. Trust the Australians show the rest of us how to do this too. After less than inspiring, but much touted records from Dry Cleaning, IDLES, Squid and Black Country, New Road in recent weeks and months, and with a new Black Midi album coming up that's highly anticipated by many but which I suspect I won't be able to listen through to in its entirity, it was sheer pleasure and relief to hear Future Forecast, the debut album by Melbourne's CIVIC a couple of days back .


From the opening notes,this comes on like Proto and Post Punk Bingo, something that might not be so far off given how long ago those days are now. During the three minutes of opener Radiant Eye alone I caught unmistakeable snatches of Magazine's Shot By Both Sides, The MC5's  The Human Being Lawnmower and The Saints Know Your Product and none of this remotely irritated me. The reminders were thrilling, encouraging me to go back and reaquaint myself with the source material and their use was plainly motivated primarily not to ape the past, or strip CIVIC's heroes of their key assets, but to adrenalise their own listening experience.


Having laid down its Mission Statement, Future Forecast proceeds to itemise it again and again with only the most basic amendment on its prototype. This is hardly an album that builds or maps out a band's vision with any variation. nuamce or subtlety. CIVIC are clearly not a band with the remotest interest in nuance and subtlety. Only full on sonic assault. The resulting record is all the better for this absolutely basic, stripped down approach.


The immediate and obvious sources for what CIVIC do are five fold. Primarily, The Stooges, the band that first demonstrated this full on primal squall, way back when. Then The Saints and Radio Birdman who came up with the original Australian Punk statements of that sort. Future Forecast has guitars that sound exactly, self-consciously like that. CIVIC also probably also owe some debt to younger compatriates Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control who have shown so fluently in more recent years how this kind of thing can still be done with quite admirable urgency and intent..


So this is a record that takes you right back without any unecessary nostalgic or maudlin edge. CIVIC's stated purpose on forming apparently was to 'do good Rock and Roll and not to stuff about with it.' Mission accomplished I'd say. Does what it says on the tin.



Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 25 The Brothers Four

 


Another fine records comes to an end. Might need to get onto yet another Bob Stanley compilation.




Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 842 The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute

 





The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 445 Prodigy

 


'a right rollicking mosh...'



Song of the Day # 2,829 Sylvie

 


Canadians Sylvie hit the soft spot between George Harrison and Teenage Fanclub. Good stuff.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Songs About People # 1,309 Matthew Newton

 Another from the new Good Morning record. This time for the troubled Australian actor and film         director Matthew Newton.



Good Morning - Barnyard

 


Good Morning. Greet the brand new day. There are worse ways to do so than by listening to Barnyard, the latest album by the Melboune duo of the same name .


Good Morning have been around for a while now,  churning out quite a few records over recent years that I've cared for. Leftfield oddball Pop of the Jonathan Richman, Jad Fair, Stephen Malkmus way of doing things.


They're not a duo here. They've definitely fleshed out to sound like a whole band. Barnyard is the best thing they've ever done by a considerable way, even though as I've said, I've always liked their stuff. But here they're really growing up, aiming for the heart rather than the funny bone and hitting the spot more often than not.


They clearly haven't completely lost touch altogether  with the child inside 'That's a real big wig. For such a small dog,' they sing in Big Wig // Small Dog. It's the kind of moment of ennui that Evan Dando used to specialise inon Lemonheads albums. But Big Wig // Small Dog is probably the weakest song on Barnyard. There's much more substantial and interesting stuff going on elsewhere.


Altogether a really well realised record and an indication that there might be still finer stuff up the road for these two. Good Morning indeed!





 

Songs of the Year # 63 Aldous Harding

 


Albums of the Year # 63 The Notwist - Vertigo Days

 A record that reminded me of one of my best lifetime musical friends:



A terrific new record from a few weeks back that I've neglected to write about until now. Hey, there are a lot of really terrific new records coming out just now. This one particularly takes my fancy because its authors, Munich veterans The Notwist were particular favourites of one of my best friends, Matt, who died in very upsetting and vastly premature circumstances a couple of years back.


So while listening to The  Notwist, and other particular musical favourites of Matt will always fill my chest with pain to some degree, I should really get over myself. This album,Vertigo Days, their umpteenth, (they've been putting out records for almost thirty years now), before I met Matt actually, is something that should be enjoyed and experienced. Because it's a wonderful record.


Nominally the start off point for The Notwist is certainly Krautrock. There are definitely echoes of Kraftwerk in particular here, the mysterious electronic chimes of machinery and motion. You're certainly in Europe here and Vertigo Days makes me realise how much I miss it. British musicians might be capable of imitating this but they couldn't ever make it. It has Mittleuropaisch DNA.


So  Kraftwerk is here but Notwist deserve to be considered entirely on their own terms. They've been herelong enough. They're certainly good enough. They have the distinctive, specific genes of a great European band. Matt also loved so many of these. The Nits, Can, Deus, 22 Pisterpekko, Bettie Serveert. So many more.


There's a deeply nuanced sense of regret here, again something that most artists from other parts of the world simply cannot do and will never quite understand. There are some notable exceptions. Bowie, Iggy, Eno. An awareness of the Twentieth Century and the way the events of some of the terrible tragedies of those years drained the continent once and for all and somehow it will never, ever quite be the same.


Vertigo Days is by no means a difficult record to listen to though. In fact it's a very easy one. Matt would have loved it. Cheers Matt!



Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 24 Theresa Brewer

 





Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 843 Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing

 


Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson doing a rather Proggy thing in 2013. Porcupine Tree have three albums coming up at some point on this list.




The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 444 Mark Morrison

 


'a super-funky sweet soul strut of a tune.'



Song of the Day # 2,828 Royal Target

 


Rather lovely, lilting guitar pop song from Munich, Germany. Although it feels like it might hail from Dunedin or Melbourne.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Robert Forster

 


Vanishing Twin

 


Parquet Courts - Sympathy for Life

 


It's been an interesting watching the Parquet Courts trip over the last ten years or so.When they really came good with blazing second album 2012's Light Up Gold, they seemed like a bunch who'd be content to stay on the ,margins in the shadow of their clear inspirational and guiding initial heroes Pavement, Sonic Youth, Mission of Burma and Guided by Voices.

Not so it seems. Every album since has seen them expanding their horizons, scope and ambitions further to an increasingly surprising and pleasing degree. Now with their latest record Sympathy for Life they seem nothing less than a twenty first century Talking Heads equivalent with a brilliant counter cultural, abrasive edge about them.

That'sTalking Heads things is a bold claim, but listen to the record. It's not necessarily an easy album to listen to as virtually every song here seems to set itself a quite different starting gate and end destination point. That's brave if nothing else. This makes it a record you'll need to get to know. Listen to a few times before you really get to know it and go with its different flows. Though I've instantly taken to it.

What seems clear is that the band are not content to behave as you might expect an alternative white guitar combo to behave and this is where the Talking Heads comparison seems apt. They're constantly looking to tease new funky directons for themselves. This puts them open to failure, as with disappointing recent records from the likes of Bon Iver and Tame Impala.

But I'd say on first listen to Sympathy for Life that it's a quite brilliant success. It might even have a good claim on being the best Parquet Courts record yet. That's not bad going for a band seven albums into their career.

This is a fabious, bold, inventive album. Perhaps coming too late in 2021 to get the full attention it deserves, it's nevertheless probably the best record of its sort that I've heard of this sort this year. Parquet Courts are properly firing on all cylinders.


Songs About People # 1,308 Mark Wahlberg

 


You'd have to assume that this is about Mark Wahlberg. From the quite delightful new Good Morning album Barnyard. Review forthcoming.


Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 23 Johnny Tilotson

 





Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 844 Sweet Trip - Velocity: Design: Comfort

 


New one to me. Not easy listening.




Songs of the Year # 64 John Grant

 


Albums of the Year # 64 My Morning Jacket - My Morning Jacket

 Louisville, Kentucky's My Morning Jacket's eponynous new album takes a strange departure points. It is, it seems 1972. America's Horse with No Name is Number One in the Singles Charts.My Morning Jacket have just embarked on a cross country tour with Stillwater, the fictional namd from Almost Famous and all is very much right with that world.

There's nothing wrong with this approach and attitude to life. I like nothing better than sitting back on Saturday night to immerse myself in a well realised vision of the past, whether it be Withnail & I, Almost Famous or Dazed ^& Confused. Like them , I believe in yesterday.

My Morning Jacket is certainly a well realised vision of the past. Quite a triumphat one actually if that's your thing. Every solo is note perfect. Every lyrical croon spot on, hitting the missing link between Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Grateful Dead.

I really enjoyed listening through to this record although I did find myself wandering sometimes exactly why I was listening to it when I might have been listening to Zuma or American Beauty instead. Still, it's a set of beautifully registered songs of eternal yearning. Here's a band that very much know exactly what they want to do and My Morning Jacket fids them doing just that.



The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 443 Super Furry Animals

 


'prodigiously talented and intelligent Welshmen.'




Song of the Day # 2,827 Ritt Momney

 


I can tell you nothing about Ritt Momeny except that this song lives up to its name and is a sunny start to a Saturday morning.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Songs of the Year # 65 Spellling

 


Albums of the Year # 65 Guided By Voices - Earth Man Blues

 

 


Needed to write about this. A chance hearing of a track from  Earth Man Blues, the latest from Guided by Voices on the radio last night, made me wonder why I hadn't listened to it. The answer to this of course is plain and clear. Guided by Voices release and have released so many albums over the years that it's frankly almost impossible to listen to them all unless you're particularly determined in this respect.


Anyhow, I'm pleased to report that Earth Man Blues is excellent. Probably in the way that most Guided by Voices are excellent I imagine. It sounds just like them. It has everything you might expect of a GBV record. All those Who powerchords, The Who always strike me as their formative influence. The reminders of Wire, if Wire had chosed to play it a little bit straighter and just churned out songs that could have been hit singles as I imagine they might have done if they hadn't been so Art School. The vague hints of Seventies Gabriel in Pollard's voice. Probably just about the time he decided to leave Genesis. Oh and R.E.M. Round about Document, when Scott Litt seemed to be treating Michael's vocals and Michael himself seemed in danger of losing it.


Oh, and of course it sounds like Guided by Voices. They've been around long enough and have more than a rich enough legacy to be regarded on their own terms. Especially when they're putting out records as good as this. Really they're remarkable. They're leftfield of course. Eccentric as you could possibly be in many ways; the song titles, the lyrics, the twists and turns within virtually every song. But GBV, more than any band I can think of, make the leftfireld accessible, through their evident love of melody and memories of fiddling with the radio dial way back in the youth.You can hear the Cheap Trick, The Cars, Grand Funk Railroad, Aerosmith. Still.


So I've no idea where this fits in in terms of the Guided by Voices catalogue. Hey, I have to post a song every day on here, I haven't got time to listen to everything they ever did regardless of how good it is. It's another wonderful GBV album. Why is that not a surpise? They really have no right at all to still be this good, this far down the line.



Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 22 Dean Martin

 





Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 845 Michael Jackson - Dangerous

 





The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 442 Bjork

 


Bjork's most wonderful single.



Song of the Day # 2,826 Electric Petals

 


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Songs of the Year # 66 Kira Skov

 


More Kira and a choice selection from the record. Her duet with Mark Lanegan, Idea of Love.

Albums of the Year # 66 Kira Skov - Spirit Tree

 


The delightfully named Kira Skov is new to me. Something of a Danish Patti J. Harvey, she's been a spectre on the scene in her native Denmark for the best part of three decades now without making much of a splash elsewhere, save for those in the know.

Her latest record Spirit Tree should bring her to the attention of a wider audience. Largely because it's made up of duets with the likes of Mark Lanegan, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, John Parish and Lenny Kaye, but also because it's really good, pure and simple.

This largely sticks to a formula that we're familiar with by now. The elfin siren, with a tall brooding man hovering somewhere at the edge of the frame simmering with dark intent. Murder Ballads essentially. We've seen this before with Lee & Nancy, Nick & Kylie, Mark & Isobel, this particular road is a well known and trodden one.

For the most part Skov sticks to this script and it's probably where the record is at its most successful. Occasionally she comes across as a little more whacky as on Dusty Kate where she starts warbling 'Do your Kate Bush thing for me ..' repeatedly and it doesn't really work. It's important somehow to play it totally straight in this particular sub-genre. That's how to extract the black comedy from this sort of heightened melodrama.

There's much here that does work however. Skov has a truly spectral voice and she and her partners in song combine eerily on several occasions. Idea of Song her duet with Lanegan, and Love is a Force, where Callahan joins the fray, are particularly effective, probably the record's highlights.

I'm a sucker for this dark seance schtik, and have been since I first heard Dancing Barefoot and Some Velvet Morning back in the Eighties, round about the time I got used to and began to love how Nico sounded on Velvet Underground records.

Not all of this comes off. As I've hinted Skov, is prone to occasional barmy, leftfield turns which break the spell somewhat.  Perhaps it's slightly overlong and might have benfitted from some judicious pruning. But there's much here that should appeal to the crowd that likes to dress in black.



Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 21 Buddy Greco

 





Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 846 R.E.M. - Monster

 





The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 441 D'Angelo

 


'all singing, all istrument-playing, dope-smoking, rap-quoting, Black Adonis...'



Song of the Day # 2,825 Jordana & TV Girl

 


Excellent selection from popy new album in Avalanches vein.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Waiting For the Sun by Barney Hoskyns # 3 The Beach Boys

 


Spector to Beach Boys to Byrds.




Songs About People # 1,307 Michael Ironside

 


                       Michael F****** Irinside according to the song title but we'll keep things clean. Song for an actor with an incredible CV.



Songs of the Year # 67 Flasko Leitmotiv

 


Albums of the Year # 67 Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade

 TF come good again...


 


Teenage Fanclub are one of those bands that you're glad are there. Or at least I am. I've been with them pretty much from the start. From the moment I first heard Everything Flows back in 1990 and bought the single. They have a sound that draws openly on a grand tradition wherein they invest their own emotions and experiences to forge an experience that's both familiar and comforting. They have an honesty and sincerity that many bands would kill for but which cannot be bought. This is why they've lasted.


So where does 2021 find them. Endless Arcade, their eleventh, (by my calculations), finds them in the same, but slightly different place where they've been for much of their career. Working on the same Pop and Rock seams, (Fanclub crucially do both). Big Star, The Byrds, The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young & Crazy Horse and their own rich legacy. Rolling riffs, easy melodies, guitars, honest, open lyrical addresses.


I listened to Endless Arcade a week ago on the day of its release and it made little impression. I was even slightly disappointed. Now, a week later, I'm listening to it again and it makes much more sense. Unlike Dinosaur Jr. their most obvious surviving contemporaries and comparison point, Teenage Fanclub are plainly experiencing middle age here and doubt and pain are creeping in to their habitually upbeat demeanor. But their basic DNA is still  in place and continuing to come up with the goods.


It's not difficult for fans of Teenage Fanclub, and there are many, to identify reasons for the molecular shift going on in this record. Firstly, Gerry Love, one of the band's three song writers has departed, all this time down the road, to concentrate on his own project Lightships. He's inevitably a considerable loss. Love's songs have always been a fundamental component of the band's appeal. Meanwhile Norman Blake, probably the band's nominal leader to all effect and purposes has also been going through well documented marital separation.


But Teenage Fanclub and the values they represent are still here, I'm pleased to report. Euros Childs, formerly of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci has joined the core, pretty much as a replacement for Love, it has to be said, and he contributed something to their sound, the ethereal wistfulness he's known for. Meanwhile Blake and Raymond McGinley keep working away on what they're known for too. Rich, heartfelt melodicism.

So if there's sadness here, there's also renewal. I'm glad I've come round to this massively on my second listen to this and look forward to playing it a lot more over coming weeks and months. Teenage Fanclub's recipe has always been a simple one. Here they add something fresh to the mix. Unlikely to make fresh converts, Endless Arcade should satisfy devotees who have been prone to this band's specific charms from the start, As ever, looking backwards but moving forwards. Check out the sleeve. I think I'm onto something.



Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 20 The Tokens

 





Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 847 Soft Machine - Third

 





The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk & Disco # 440 Coolio


'insiduous and proud...'




 

Song(s) of the Day # 2,824 Buffalo Nichols

 


Oxford, Mississippi's legendary Fat Possum Records issues a genuinely Blues grounded record, the finally honed eponymous debut from Buffalo Nichols. A beautifully, lived in record that harnesses the vast legacy of this great tradition to modern production values to wonderful effect.


Allied not unnaturally on contemporary political concerns, Buffalo Nichols simmers with a quiet rage, reminiscent at times of the work of Ben Harper, it's altogether a beautifully realised recprd. 




Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Waiting For the Sun by Barney Hoskyns # 2 Ricky Nelson

 


Doo Wop, R& B Lieber and Stoller and then the white Pop conveyer belt that came to define LA in the early Sixties. Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran and the odd cast of characters who would find their place in the sun in the coming years; Sonny Bono, Jack Nitszche, Kim Fowley, Lee Hazlewood and Phil Spector.



Songs of the Year # 68 Laura Stevenson

 


Albums of the Year # 68 The Catenary Wires - Birling Gap

 



It's odd but strangely delightful to witness major players on the Twee Indie scene of the late Eighties mature into middle age more than thirty years on like a fine wine. Such is the case here with The Catenary Wires latest album Birling Gap.

Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey once figured in spindly Indie outfits such as Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly and Tender Trap. But it's interesting to see where their journey has taken them. This is a record that has a much in common with Sandy Denny as it does with Orange Juice and that's just as it should be.

The sleeve of the album is an immediate giveaway to the record's intentions. It's a photograph of steep chalk cliffs and the waves crashing into a pebbled beach. An incredibly English image and this is an incredibly English sounding record, owing something to The Kinks and The Zombies as well as Tracy Thorn.

On Mirrorball Fletcher and Pursey reminicise about where it all started in an Eighties disco on the cusp of adulthood. It's all incredibly sweet and not for a moment the bitter variety.The past is where it should be, a happy and incredibly distant memory, not the stuff of anguish and regret. Birling Gap is like leafing through a treasured photo album but its feet are very much mired in the here and now.

The album gallops along. In its own words, 'as English as the weather.' Safe and warm, comfortable in its own skin. Fletcher and Pursey have learned enough over the years not to make their harmonies pitch perfect. It's the slightly off key nature of proceedings that provide the essential charm to this project.

A home counties Nancy and Lee but with incisive political awareness to boot, cuttingly critical of the much evident English intolerance of these times . Birling Gap is a treat, like a well stirred pot and plate of scones and jam in a village tea room on a sunny afternoon.



Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs Present State of the Union - The American Dream in Crisis - # 19 Eugene McDaniels