Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sufjan Stevens

David Bowie

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums for October

A cracking month for great new albums! Several classy records didn't make this Top Ten.

It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs for October

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 18 Brigitte

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 74 Chic

Songs About People # 729 Gary Oldman

Gary goes dance.

Song(s) of the Day # 1,746 Bejaflor

Portuguese outfit who supported Olden Yolk a few days back when they played in Lisbom. Not in a dissimilar vein to that band. Cool, floaty Stereolab, Broadcast inspired sound with the added attraction of being sung in Portuguese.

Deerhunter - Death in Midsummer

With the end of 2018 looming the music industry is already gearing up with scheduled releases and tasters for 2019. With albums from Sharon Van Etten and Deerhunter already inked in for January it promises not to be as barren as that month sometimes can be. Ahead of that the latter band have just released this, Death in Midsummer and it's the best thing they've done for some time.

Following the slightly disappointing, (to me at least) Fading Frontier album from 2016 it's a sign that this most distinctive band is back. The song should ceryainly alongside the promo where Bradford Cox, that most specific of frontmen pulls out all the stops. Prancing on a swing in a yellow dress above a Georgia swamp, making shapes on a broad deserted road, wandering round a derelict swamp, while the rest of the band just stand by, it's all pretty arresting to say the least. The song meanwhile is a cracker, mortality is an obvious concern, though according to press releases it focus on the 2017 Russian Revolution. Whatever, it's all highly promising.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Human League

Lawrence Arabia

Talking of whimsy, here's the latest offering from Lawrence Arabia's 2018 Singles Club. Damon Albarn himself would have been proud to write this.

Songs About People # 727 Clara Bow

The Cleaners of Venus have a fine new record of their branded English whimsy just out. I'll have to get round to reviewing it a bit down the line. In the meantime here's their tribute to silent movie star Clara Bow.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 16 Avant Garde M.O.R.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 76 Toots & the Maytals

The Yardbirds

Song(s) of the Day # 1,744 Ricky Hell

Cleveland's Ricky Hell, also of Ricky Hell & the Voidboys, (wonder who that's in tribute to?) with three fabulously catchy independent pop songs. Somewhere between Grunge and New Wave.

All three of these songs just glisten and this is clearly a man to watch.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 331 Can

I've imported Can's wonderful Ege Bamyasi onto the jukebox at Rosie's and this sounds just fabulous coming out of it.

Songs About People # 726 Germaine Greer

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 15 The Flower Called Nowhere

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 77 Grandmaster & Melle Mel

Covers # 97 Covers - Okama Flannel Boy

And in open confirmation of their spiritual roots, here they are doing the Go Betweens Lee Remick.

Song(s) of the Day # 1,743 Okama Flannel Boy

Och! The cactii are on fire. Very, very odd the world we live in musically in 2018. That a band so evidently in thrall to Orange Juice, Josef K and Aztec Camera should hail from Mexico City.

Such is the case with the splendidly named Okama Flannel Boy. On this, their four track debut EP they party like it's 1981. Lead singer Fernando Torres with a delivery that's midway between Edwyn and Morrissey with only the slightest Mexican accent twang. It's all decidedly strange.

Like those earlier bands, this might not be to everyone's taste. But I like it a lot. It's gauche, wanton and very, very young. All power to the elbows of Okama Flannel Boy!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Songs About People # 725 Michael Collins

A song for one of the great existential figures in history. The third astronaut, the one who orbited the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin went down to walk on it. Of course they'd never have got home without him. 

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 14 La Demeure

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 78 Sam Sham & the Pharoahs

Song of the Day # 1,742 Bob Mould

Bob Mould does what he does best and has done so splendidly for more than thirty years. I saw him play a few years ago playing at an ATP festival. He filled the room effortlessly, just him onstage with his electric guitar.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Songs About People # 722 Angela Carter

Weird and wonderful writer who had her field to herself, gets a song.

David Bowie

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 11 Envirez-vous

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 81 The Chantays

Song of the Day # 1,739 Kevin Hairs

There seems to be a growing line of bands and artists that take their names nowadays from those of other bands and artists. Day Ravies, Kurt Vile, Joy Orbison and Sauna Youth to name just a few. Kevin Hairs can now be added to this list. He sounds very little like Kevin Ayers and quite a bit more like The Television Personalities. Here's something from his latest six track cassette release.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 330 The Byrds

There is a feature on the jukebox at Rosie's which allows you to import music which I've only just found out about. The first fruits of that realisation are Younger Than Yesterday by The Byrds and New York Dolls by The Dolls. Here's one of David Crosby's finest moments from the former.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 10 Whisper Pitch


The Heart of Rock and Soul # 82 Bobby Bland

Song(s) of the Day # 1,738 Lewsberg

Lewsberg are Rotterdam's Velvet Underground. The label is inevitable as soon as you hear them. They do the loose, strung out cool, they do the arty expression. 

These three come from their recent cassette only eponymous release. They're named after fellow Rotterdam writer Robert Loesberg. They mutter in Dutch or sing in English with Dutch accents. All in all they're pretty damned great. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Songs About People # 721 Lester Bangs

Perhaps the ultimate Rock critic, (as much for what he represents as what he wrote), finally gets a song on here. And it's rather a good one. 

Courtney Barnett in Boston

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 329 The Kinks

From The Village Green Preservation Society, released fifty years ago, on the same day as The Beatles White Album. There's a wonderful article with interviews with both Davies brothers commemorating it in this month's Mojo.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 9 Infinity Girl

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 83 The Trammps

Song(s) of the Day # 1,737 Richard Swift

American Richard Swift died this summer and I wasn't really aware of him, I'm sorry to say. I am now, with the posthumous release of The Hex, a set of songs he was working on before his death, just released, in fitting tribute to his talents.

Pieced together for release in the months since his passing, the album was pretty much complete anyhow, '11 songs performed by me for family and friends' is how Swift announced it on Instagram. It's a haunted record. Full of wonderful studio effects, which should come as no surprise, the man after all was probably best known as producer for The Black Keys, The Shins, Lonnie Holley and others. It's drenched in echoes of Soul, Blues, Doo Wop and Music Hall, all spinning around Swift's evocative vocals.

The artists who this record reminds me of most are Curtis Mayfield , Elliott Smith and Harry Nilsson. Swift often vacillates magically between the three. But there's much more to this too.This is a magnificent, emotion loaded record and stands as a wonderful statement of legacy.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Bob & George

Songs Heard on the Radio # 276 Lil' Kim

Neneh Cherry is on the radio playing some favourite records. Including this one. Sounds pretty good to me!


Songs About People # 720 Martin Bramah

There's even time for a song for himself. And why not!

The Blue Orchids - Righteous Harmony Fist

Martin Bramah is one of the most unappreciated men in the whole history of Rock and Roll. As a pivotal member of The early Fall and as leader of The Blue Orchids, the band he broke away from them with Una Baines to form at the end of the Seventies, he has one of the most interesting perspectives expressed in British music over the last forty years and in their latest album Righteous Harmony Fist, he furthers and refines that vision.

The record is aptly named. It might as well be a mission statement. Bramah's way of doing things was always complimentary but contrasting from that of his former compadre and rival Mark E. Smith. Sharing the same wry, cynical take on the world but varying in terms of their tastes and musical approach, you suspect that Bramah veered towards Television while Smith preferred The Stooges. Bramah leaned towards a certain order while Smith favoured discord.

As if to underline this, Bramah deals in a more linear narrative too. Every song on Righteous Harmony Fist tells a story. About how the way the powers that be dictate how life should be lived is not the only path through the woods. About how nine to five is a cruel constraint, about how in the words of perhaps Bramah's most famous song, we are all victims of a 'bad education' and need instead to set ourselves our own curriculum.

Righteous Harmony Fist should certainly be on the reading list. As with much of Bramah's work it feels like we're experiencing a highly enjoyable but educational magic mushroom trip. Landscaped by reeling hallucinogenic melody, woozy organ, slapping drums, keening guitars. And all the time Bramah's flat but urgent vocals. In addition to the early Fall incarnation which he played in the closest reference points are probably the early Teardrop Explodes and Bunnymen. The Doors too. Oh and Seventies children's TV classic The Magic Roundabout. Bramah's best known statement is the Orchid's first album, 1982's The Greatest Hit, where he first really laid down his manifesto. This sounds to me like the best thing he's done since.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 8 The Black Arts

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 84 The Jackson 5

Song of the Day # 1,736 The Ropers

Melodic Slumberland Record Label band from the mid-Nineties. This is the opening track from their only album and probably their best song. Creamy, clanging guitars in the school of The Clean and The Dream Syndicate.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 328 White Denim

White Denim's new record Performance got a fair bit of critical acclaim on its release recently. It's not all for me, rather fussy for my tastes but I do like this which went on the jukebox last night.

Papercuts - Parallel Universe Blues

Papercuts sixth album Parallel Universe Blues is an indie record in the most spectacular sense of the word. It's an amalgam of so many features of the genre, incredibly sensitively played,  a set  of ten gossamer delicate alternative pop songs.

The opening two tracks Mattress On The Floor and Laughing Man are as good an opening pair of songs as I've heard this year on any record. Aping the classic melodic trajectory of Wire's wondrous Outdoor Miner they set the bar high, but the songs that follow, maintain an impeccable poise and beauty.

The reference points are quite clear; listing Velvet Underground, Wire, Spacemen 3, Velocity Girl Primal Scream, Spector, early Cure and Jesus & Mary Chain will probably paint as  good a picture as possible of what's being splashed on the canvas here. Priceless teenage emotion and moments, cast in aspic. The fact that this is Jason Quever, (the man behind Papercuts), sixth record is not insignificant. He's utterly mastered the sound and sensibility he's been working towards. It's craftsmanship.

A whiter than white sound. Bleached almost, hooped top and fringe, Chelsea boots, Quever shows a mastery of the sound and attitude that's quite impeccable. The album never lets up. It's a small classic. October has been the richest month of the year in terms of records that have grabbed my interest and Parallel Universe Blues sparkles as remarkably as any among them.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 7 Wow & Flutter

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 85 Michael Jackson

Song of the Day # 1,735 International Teachers of Pop

Fun Kraftwerk.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Songs About People # 719 James Dean

Remarkably James Dean appears not to have made an appearance on this series before. So, to make amends, here's a rather eclectic song for him from an Irish singer-songwriter David Keenan (not the music journalist and writer of the same name).

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 6 Golden Ball

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 86 James Brown

Song(s) of the Day # 1,734 Shogun & the Sheets

Royal Headache, another in a line of fine Australian bands re-igniting the fire of Punk and New Wave, are no more. Apparently their split was somewhat ignominious. But from their ashes rises the phoenix of Shogun & the Sheets. fronted by that band's vocalist Shogun.

And they carry on very much where Royal Headache left off, with this, their debut release. Hold On Kid is blazing. All the desperate fury of The Saints or one of those fabulous offshoot Seventies bands featuring ex-members of The MC5 or Stooges.

Pissing Blood veers more towards Alice Cooper territory. Never particularly my favourite part of the Punk Sea. It's all done with the greatest sense of detail possible though. There's something determinedly archivist going on here. But it has all the full on energy and restless fuel of those great bands, something largely lost in the decades since. On the evidence of this, they'll be well worth watching.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Songs About People # 717 The Duke of Wellington

Slightly Pearl Jam moment from Rugfire. What it has to do with The Duke of Wellington is anyone's guess.

Sharon Van Etten

We're already at the point where we're looking to the point where albums are being scheduled for release in 2019 and we're starting to get tasters for them. Such is the case with Sharon Van Etten, whose new album Remind Me Tomorrow is due mid-January. Here's a taster, and as you'd expect it tastes good! Slightly muffled in terms of delivery but full of intent and purpose.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 4 French Disko

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 88 The Coasters

Song(s) of the Day # 1,732 Carbon Poppies

That isn't rain you see on her face you fool. It's tears! Classic twang and early sixties echo reborn as twee indiepop decades later on Elefant Records from Carbon Poppies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Songs Heard on the Radio # 275 Pip Blom

Dutch artist Pip Blom keeps churning out great songs and EPs in a Breeders vein short of putting out a debut album. Here's the latest.

Sonic Youth & Mudhoney in Honolulu

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 327 Theatre of Hate

If I had known that this had been on the jukebox for ages, ages ago, I would have played it. Loads. Now I do I intend to. A wonderful record from the time I was just constructing myself around the music and books I liked. Also a British hit single. Incredibly evocative and atmospheric. The clip clop beat is quite purposely reminiscent of galloping hooves. I don't know any other Theatre of Hate songs. I don't need to.

Songs About People # 716 Peter Cook

New from Pete Astor. For Peter Cook and in praise of the fact that he chose to do nothing for much of his life. Because he could!

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 3 Margerine Rock

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 89 Jerry Butler

Song of the Day # 1,731 Jerry Paper

From Jerry Paper's new record. A collaboration with Weyes Blood.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Songs About People # 715 Robert Downey Jr.

No idea what Robert Downey syndrome might be but art project Grimm Grimm have written a highly atmospheric song track it. I assume it's about junior.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 2 The Noise Of Carpet

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 90 Mickey & Sylvia

On a purely personal note, the song that played when my sister's wedding ceremony was done.

Song(s) of the Day # 1,730 Ben Pirani

There's no lack of impeccable recreation of classic era soul around nowadays for those who seek this stuff out. The Daptone Record label first of all. Home of Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley and many more dedicated to that particular dream.

There are other smaller labels with similar visions. Loveland, Ohio's Colemine Records for example. And from there comes this, How Do I Talk To My Brother, an immaculate album from Ben Pirani, as good a record as you'll hear this year of this abiding instinct and love for Soul purity.

Housed in an artful sleeve, the record sculpts a classic sound, is lovingly crafted, and full of classic, aching soul sentiment. All in all it takes you to a place where it's just wonderful to be.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Songs About People # 714 Janet Planet

Weird instrumental taking the name of Van Morrison's wife and muse for many of his greatest early solo songs.

Thirty Days of Stereolab # 1 Three-Dee Melodie

And from Felt to another group who were greatly under-appreciated during their long career but are now getting some of the kudos that they deserve. As Simon Reynolds said of them, 'Always the same. Always different.' The wonderful Stereolab.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 91 The Animals

Song of the Day # 1,729 Fanclub

Fanclub, but not of the Teenage variety. Instead a young indie trio from Austin, Texas.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Kikagaku Moyo - Masana Temples

Japanese hippies Kikagaku Moyo are back with a new album Masana Temples released last week. It's more of the same of what anyone who's listened to and appreciated their previous records might expect. Psych, Folk, Kraut and Jap Rock, changing and shifting moods, in turns rocking and contemplative and pastoral.

But there's a gradual refining of their sound going on, and Masana Temples contains a number of career defining moments. The album has received a series of rather lukewarm reviews, at least the ones I've read, but I reckon it's a fine record, containing several tracks that I've returned to again and again over the past week.

Yes sure they're hippies, band photos and press releases attest to this quite blatantly, but frankly labels like this mean next to nothing in 2018. I even saw one reference to John Lydon's 'Never trust a hippie', quote in a negative review of the record. But Lydon himself was an avowed Can aficionado, and this is the band that Kikagaku Moyo take their most obvious cues from. And the influence reaps rewards.

There's also a distinctly utopian feeling to proceedings - as one might expect from hippies I suppose. That's more than welcome in this day and age. Masana Temples keeps up the good work laid down by the bands previous release and more. Never mind the knockers.

Thirty Days of Felt # 30 Ballad of the Band

And to end this series, almost inevitably with this. This has been a breeze, never a chore, an indication of just how many good and great songs Felt had. It's also great to see how proudly Lawrence is still curating their legacy. There's a great interview with him in A Pessimist is Never Disappointed the fabulous blog listed on the right hand side of this page.

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 92 Ritchie Valens

Song(s) of the Day # 1,728 Caoilfhionn Rose

A rather lovely, ethereal debut album called Awaken. from a young, Manchester-based singer-songwriter.  Released yesterday. It's reminiscent of late Sixties, early Seventies Folk. Vashti Bunyan comes to mind as does Britt Eklund in Whicker Man. But the production is silky and modern and all the while Caoilfhionn's voice floats above proceedings. It's remarkably assured considering this is her first album.

Thirteen songs in all, each of them well-judged, pastoral and frankly just beautiful. Rose is trying something very interesting. It's familiar but fresh at the same time. Give it a listen!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Say Sue Me

The Red Telephone

A week ago I posted young Welsh band The Red Telephone's first single. Since then a link and video for their new song has appeared and it's equally fine. Equally veined in late Sixties British Psychedelia with a caustic vocal reminiscent of Luke Haines and The Auteurs in their New Wave prime. Splendid!

Thirty Days of Felt # 28 Vasco Da Gama

The Heart of Rock and Soul # 94 Bob Dylan

Song of the Day # 1,726 Roseblood

First song by a nicely named artist from California. Very Mazzy Star, but nowt wrong with that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018