Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Songs About People # 826 James Caan

Maxwell Miranda Parsley sings of her Catskill Christmas with none other than James Caan.

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums For April

An absolutely bumper month for albums. 2019 really kicked into gear over the last thirty days. Any number of these records are sure to feature in my end of year list. So I enlarged it from the usual selection of ten to fifteen. Some cracking stuff here!

It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs For April

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 108 Ben E. King

Song(s) of the Day # 1,926 Mt. Misery

Simple pleasures. A new, eponymous four track EP from Mt. Misery a young band from Hartlepool, a town in Northern England where the one thing you never do is make the 'monkey hanger joke' because it's something that never goes down well. Apologies to the band for referencing it here.

It's plain from the start that we're in very safe hands. Young romanticists clearly, Mt. Misery also have a strong grasp on melodic and tuneful songwriting and delivery, the way things used to be done in the Nineties by the likes of Travis and Teenage Fanclub and, going back further still, to Aztec Camera, between their Postcard singles and High Land, Hard Rain.

It's a while since I've heard such easy lyricism and craft from a group as young as this. Thanks as always to the ever reliable A Pessimist is Never Disappointed site which unerringly points me in the direction of so much that I immediately love and post about on here. Each of the songs on Mt. Misery is a fresh peach. Alongside Babehoven, which I wrote about a few days back, this is the best EP I've heard thus far this year and is one I recommend to you unreservedly.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 385 Sandy Denny

A quiet Monday night in Rosie's. Just me and Brian of the regulars. Talking about and listening to great stuff from the Sixties and Seventies, including this. As well as the trove of wonderful records boxed up in his loft at home.

Songs Heard on the Radio # 309 The Blue Orchids

Onwards and upwards!

Songs About People # 825 Slim Pickens

It's somewhat heartening to see that Offspring are doing pretty much exactly the same all these years later to what they always did all those years ago when they so regularly graced the screens of MTV. This is for Slim Pickens and that cinema defining moment in Dr. Strangelove.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 107 The Coasters

Song(s) of the Day # 1,925 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

When I first started writing this blog, I posted a link to Pitchfork's site on the right side of this page. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Pitchfork seemed like a good idea to me at the time. In the intervening years I've read quite a lot of reviews and articles on there and it no longer does. In fact now I'd say it represents pretty much everything that's wrong with modern music journalism.

Obviously, given that I've written on here every day for the last five years, I take this stuff reasonably seriously, even though it's still and always will remain a hobby, not least because I don't see any prospect of giving up my nine to five any day soon. I still have a list of blogs on the right hand of this page, some written by like-minded individuals to myself who do this for their own enjoyment and some slightly more commercial concerns, (though who makes any real money out of this stuff nowadays?), with a whole set of contributing writers and advertising to help generate revenue and keep themselves going.

Tulip Frenzy, one of my favourites of all, wrote a great piece a couple of days back about the new King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard album Fishing for Fishies and what they called the 'Death of Rock Criticism'. It makes great reading. In it, they give guarded praise to the King Gizzard record while mounting a full on assault on Pitchfork and everything they stand for. I agreed with every word.

The Pitchfork review of Fishing for Fishies ripped it a new one in the austere, bloodless style that is utterly characteristic of the site.  It describes the record to be their most streamlined effort to date but also the first to be 'downright boring'. I listened to the record while reading their review and would have to disagree.

Australians King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are nothing if not prolific. They've released five albums in the last couple of years, (Fishing for Fishies comes after an almost indecent pause of a whole calendar year) ,which might suggest they lack quality control on one hand but evidences no lack of commitment to the cause on the other, which in their case is generally a commitment to boogie. Not all of their stuff is to my personal taste, I prefer it when they veer towards the Beefheart, Canned Heat and Krautrock school of doing things than when they venture into Zappa's ballpark.

If forced to choose a side though I'd plump without hesitation for King Gizzard and Tulip Frenzy approach over Pitchfork's every day of the week. At least the former seem to be enjoying themselves. As Tulip Frenzy opined in their article, Pitchfork have never once made me laugh, a clear duty of this kind of journalism and something that Creem, NME, Punk and the like did on a regular basis back in the day. Fishing for Fishies may be a conscious attempt on King Gizzard's part to re-orientate their sound and broaden their appeal but it's still a record very much in line with what they've been doing for many years and I certainly didn't find it boring which I cannot say for a moment for Pitchfork which consistently is. Both King Gizzard and Tulip Frenzy are much more in the spirit of Lester Bangs and Nick Kent than yet another article boxing itself into a corner in a sterile conversation with itself about which decimal point to award a particular record. I'd say listen to King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and try not to read Pitchfork. It's easy if you try. Oh and do make sure you read the Tulip Frenzy article. It hits this particular nail squarely on the head.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Songs Heard on the Radio # 308 Blossom Dearie

What more could you want as Sunday morning turns into Sunday afternoon than this slice of Blossom Dearie...


Sebadoh are back at the end of May with a new album called act surprised. This goes ahead of it and has plenty of their gloomy spark.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 106 Solomon Burke

Song(s) of the Day # 1,924 Drugdealer

Raw Honey, the second album from Drugdealer commences with You've Got To Be Kidding, the most impossibly gorgeous piece of instrumental music imaginable. It's an invitation to go  back to the early Seventies should you choose to accept it.

Because this is the DNA of this record and this outfit. You've never heard so many quietly crying guitars, plaintive vocals, padding drums, rolling piano and rock solid bass working together with such single minded conviction. On second track Weyes Blood, fresh from her own magnificent Titanic Rising album guests on  Honey to drive the point home, and any uncommitted listener will have made up their mind already whether they want to stay aboard for the rest of the ride.

I did so, though the sugar, and honey, are piled on mightily heavily at times. If you chose to, you could surely gorge yourself senseless on watching old episodes of The Brady and Hair Bear Bunch and if you did then Raw Honey would surely be on the record player. Why you might want to is another matter. The end result is sadly somewhat hit and miss.


Every note here, every studio effect, every immaculately arranged burst of longing backing vocals is located utterly between the release dates of Nilsson Schmilsson and Rumours. If that's your dream destination then this might be the record for you but even then you would probably also see at times where the need for Punk was born.

It's not really a patch on Titanic Rising, which takes off from a similar launch pad but manages to produce an overall effect that somehow makes complete sense in 2019. Raw Honey is something of a conceit by comparison, plods much more than it should do given that this is clearly a sincerely meant labour of love and probably won't make you want to dust down your old Wings albums just yet.  Or rush out to buy some if you don't have any. I liked quite a bit of it but ultimately felt it doesn't really convince.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Television Personalities

Morrissey and Paul Weller talking about Television Personalities from Roundtable back in the day.

Lawn - Blood on the Tracks

A  sleepless night:and a comment on here mentioning this had me revisiting Lawn's wonderful Blood On The Tracks from last year.So I thought I'd re-post this from last year. Another mention of R.E.M's Murmur on here just as with my Wild Firth review a couple of days back. Sorry for repeating myself but I guess it's the one I will inevitably will keep returning to as a reference point for the guitar records I like most...

This is surely destined to be one of my favourite records of the year. Blood On The Tracks, the debut album from New Orleans duo Lawn released a couple of weeks back. I'm sorry that I can only post one track here, opener 2000 Boy, because given a chance I assure you I'd post the whole damned thing.

It's full of instant pop inspiration and small moments of genius. Taking The Kinks as a starting point, then leaping forward fifteen years to bands like Wire, Gang of Four, Pylon, Minutemen, The Clean and The Bats, on from there to Fugazi and Deerhunter and fast forward to the present to like-minded contemporaries Hoops, Warehouse and Omni.

But Lawn deserve a lawn or even perhaps a small field all to themselves because Blood On The Tracks is a remarkably accomplished record. Nothing to do with the Dylan classic as far as I can tell. Lawn's, two partners Mac Folger and Rui De Magalahes trade songs back and forth and the mood shifts magically from track to track. Each song wrestles to tear your love away from the last. It's melodic, concise, considered and cool, reminiscent of things you love but carving its own space in the scheme of things. And that's no mean feat!

Twelve songs of restless vigour and invention, just like my favourite album of all, R.E.M's Murmur which changed my life way back in 1983, Lawn's Blood On The Tracks deserves a sizeable, appreciative audience because it's an altogether wonderful statement. Discover its glorious thirty eight minute burst for yourselves and I hope to return to it in my end of year Album List, be able to post more from it for you, and where it seems utterly sure to figure very high in the Top Ten.

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 384 Alice Cooper

Friday night out with an old friend. He wanted something else by Alice Cooper but got this...

Songs About People # 824 Waylon Jennings

Inveterate name-droppers The Mountain Goats do it again with one for Waylon from their new album, In League with Dragons. 

Aldous Harding - Designer

Is it possible to fall in love with two completely different albums in the same morning? It seems so. Having fallen under the spell of Wild Firth's magnificent Lawn Memory early yesterday morning I made my way to work. Once there, while preparing, (I assure you I was working), I took the opportunity to listen to Aldous Harding's third album Designer and was slain again.

Harding is something of a divisive artist. Holding absolutely nothing back in terms of performance and visual presentation, she comes across of either quite bereft of her senses or ludicrously mannered. If the music wasn't so damned accomplished she might easily be dismissed as a preening wannabe.

But the music is serene, assured and often quite breathtaking. Basically built around Harding's own guitar figures, she weaves exquisite Gothic Folk patterns that have drawn me in utterly after just a couple of listens to Designer.

On top of that she layers found, apparently nonsensical poetic lyrics that make perfect sense in the contexts she sets them in. Stripped of the colourfully odd videos that Harding has put out in advance of the album's release the songs stand alone; seductive, warm and incredibly alluring.

Harding makes the case for extreme idiosyncratic eccentricity remarkably powerfully on Designer. It's a delight from start to finish, an indulgence, like eating a whole bowl of cherries at one sitting. I'm fortunate enough to have a ticket to see Harding play in a small venue in my hometown in a few weeks time. Frankly, I can't wait. In the meantime this record will more than tide me over. It makes the case for cryptic, elusive beauty.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 105 Lavern Baker

Song(s) of the Day # 1,923 Ancient Pools

The life aquatic. I've spent several hours this week basking in the liquid charms of Portland, Oregon's Ancient Pools debut album Cosine. Altogether it's been an absolutely blissful and highly memorable experience.

The duo that make up the band, singer Anna Jeter and Kevin Christopher work from a simple formula. Gentle, almost whispered vocals and percolating synth and guitar patterns. There's an inspired tranquility here which goes some way towards explaining why in times of stress or anxiety you're well advised to make your way to your local swimming baths.

The water thing is clearly a quite conscious effect on the part of the record's makers judging by the tiles embossed on the sleeve of Cosine, (I wonder whether they resisted the temptation to call the record Chlorine instead). In any case you're protected from stinging eyes by the deft weightlessness that's maintained throughout its ten brief but lingering tracks. Aural goggles.

Reference points are often negligible, but they can help explain a record's allure. In this case I was reminded of Martin Rev of Suicide's most celestial moments as well as the jazzy grace of Yo La Tengo. But Cosine calmly swims out to its own space, though you might occasionally think of long gone Eighties synth pop records, this is no nostalgia exercise. An album of calm enchantment.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

And to top off hearing that Wild Firth record for the first time and the fact that it's Friday here's a new song from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. One of the best things they've done and that band have plenty of great songs. Fine promo too!

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 104 Carla Thomas

Song(s) of the Day # 1,922 Wild Firth

Golden American Underground Record of my year thus far. Lawn Memory the second album by Minneapolis quartet Wild Firth is a treasure trove. Something I've been anticipating for the last couple of weeks since hearing it's pre-release tasters Eyes and Girl, listening through to the whole record on its release today was no disappointment, instead complete fulfilment of their rich promise.

So where are Wild Firth coming from? They owe some kind of debt to Deerhunter obviously, an influence they've been quite upfront about in interviews. This is most evidently traced back through singer Will Fraser's vocal stylings which are definitely reminiscent of Bradford Cox's.

But the band are no mere copyists. From the first notes of Stained Glass, the album opener, they veer off onto their own path and forge onwards into the undergrowth remorselessly over the course of the album. The result is some creation and some achievement and seems destined to become my cult American guitar favourite of 2019, just as Lawn's Blood on the Tracks, and Warehouse's super low captured my heart in recent years.

Neither of these records made a huge splash commercially or critically to my knowledge, nor are they the work of hugely garlanded bands, but Lawn and Warehouse both share something in common with Wild Firth. The spirit, zeal and invention of the early Eighties American Underground where R.E.M., Husker Du, Minutemen, Replacements and all kinds of other movers and shakers first burst forth to change the landscape of music once and forever.

Wild Firth rekindle this flame and hold it proudly aloft for the full duration of Lawn Memory. In doing so they even invoke the 'memory' of my favourite record of all, R.E.M's Murmur, the first thing I wrote about on here and the one I always return to as the album that shaped me most, recast me in fact, way back in 1983.

Lawn Memory has much of Murmur's shrouded enigma and arcadian wonder. There's much going on beneath the surface, murky depths which hold the promise that you'll want to return to the record again and again and again. Wild Firth add something of Peter Buck's thick guitar jangle to their mix to give their sound a stark, resonant mystery.

I got through my first playing of Lawn Memory in one sitting early this morning barely having noticed where the time had gone. This happens to you when you're listening to the best records. They draw you in and you surrender to them while they in turn keep giving back to you. There's not a false note here.

I'm not going to change my mind. Lawn Memory is a quite blisteringly brilliant album that I'll return to repeatedly over the coming months until I feel I understand its bones and sinew better and get a grasp on its dark heart. Perhaps I'll come back to this review and flesh it out more as I get to understand a little more of what makes it tick. I'm pretty sure I will. In the meantime, just listen to the record. Fresh on the mat like a morning paper at the beginning of a long deserved holiday. One for true believers!

P.S. I think this only a digital and cassette release at the moment. It deserves to be on vinyl. I'll certainly get a copy as soon as it is.

* A further footnote to this. I posted my review to the band on their Facebook page. They thanked me and re-posted it. Much appreciated. I've been listening to the album again this morning and it only confirmed to me how great it is. Something really special going on here.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Songs Heard on the Radio # 307 Keel Her

I can tell you little about Keel Her except that this sounds wonderful coming out of a radio at nine on a Thursday. I'll find out more and report back...

The Flamin' Groovies

Songs About People # 823 Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy gets odd tribute..

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 103 Ben E. King

Song(s) of the Day # 1,921 Babehoven

Babehoven. Great conceit! They're a young, all female, 'sad girl pop' band from LA, led by the wonderfully named Maya Bon. I can tell you little more about them except that Solemnis, the four track suite of songs they released last month is just great. Here it is if you wish to investigate further. 

Four songs that are slightly introspective, but quietly confident, with jangling guitar support and determinedly delivered vocals. On Boiled Rice, Icelake and Right Hand Maya comes across as a better adjusted and much nicer Courtney Love, playing Doll Parts for happy people.

Then on Lena she shakes her hair loose and turns a bit Liz Phair. These comparisons are only an attempt to orient you as to where this is coming from. The songs stand fine on their own feet. Babehoven are not quite as solemn as they might want to come across here. There's a sly wit and deft invention at play throughout Solemnis. Altogether excellent!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 383 Kevin Ayers

Songs About People # 822 Brian Epstein

From Andrew Loog Oldham to Brian Epstein.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 102 Ben E King

Song(s) of the Day # 1,920 Ari Roar

This Texan singer songwriter has a new album just out on Bella Union Records called Best Behavior which is aptly described as 'languid' in this review and interview on the Line of Best Fit site. It's full of simple pleasures. Intricate, guitar led, geometric alternative pop songs, that barely, if ever, breach the three minute mark.

Ari, (from the Hebrew for 'lion) Roar, the stage name for Caleb Campbell, crafts spacey, thoughtful songs that make me think of the vague pleasures of pharmaceutical drugs, like drifting in an out of dream states.

Reminiscent of the stop start textures of Pavement in terms of its guitars, his party piece and trump card is a swooning vocal manner that reminds me of Nineties Thom Yorke, Elliott Smith and going back from there, the oriental tinge of Lennon's most laid back early Seventies records.

If a certain saminess builds up over the course of the album, this will more than do for now. Campbell has come up with an interesting career formula and is a quiet but singular voice, transmitting from the left of the dial.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Songs About People # 821 Andrew Loog Oldham

Rolling Stones manager and general all-round Sixties guy.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 101 Ben E. King

Song(s) of the Day # 1,919 Fontaines D.C.

Punk Rock. There's no other way to describe it. Young Dublin band Fontaines D.C. have been drawing no lack of attention to themselves with gigs, singles and EP releases over the last few months and now their debut album Dogrel has arrived. And it's indisputably Punk Rock.

So how do you do this in 2019? These particular coals have been raked over so many times over so many decades. Often pretty poorly. In Fontaines D.C.'s case you do it with youth, energy, bile, urgency, thought and conviction. And they do it very well indeed.

The record is well worthy of the anticipation that's built up for it. They must be many, many fifteen year olds' favourite band at the moment. Almost everything on here is octane fuelled. Think The Clash, think Stiff Little Fingers forty years on with thick Irish vocals but not as a mere retread exercise.

This is record for the small minority who'd say that Boy is still U2's best record. Because sometimes there's just no substitute for that initial rush of blood to the head. That adrenaline burst of teenage energy.

Dogrel never lets up, just as you wouldn't expect it too. Just as The Clash didn't and neither did Inflammable Material. Fontaines D.C.'s agenda is clearly more political than personal though I'm not  always completely surely what their raging about. Irish identity for a large part I suspect. Mid record they show that they can slow things down too if they choose, with Roy's Tune, one of the most affecting things on here.

As the album went on this fifty three year old started thinking of friends I knew, who might like this record. People of a similarly advanced age to myself who were fired up by the first rush of this stuff in the UK in the late Seventies who would appreciate the fire in the record's belly. There are plenty of us still around.

Having let things slow down a touch they then turn things up again as the album draws to its close. There's a sense here, as with all the best Punk records, that the clock's ticking and violence is just about to break out but that the band are more than smart enough to manage and orchestrate it.

Dogrel is all in all a very impressive album. There are other people doing this thing at the moment. Sleaford Mods and IDLES among them. Both of these bands have several years, if not decades on Fontaines D.C. but the young colts more than hold their own here. There's even time for mention of a James Joyce novel, a nod to their spiritual heritage.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first fifty minutes in the company of Fontaines D.C.. They're a band with wit and vim and no little intelligence who know innately how this stuff should be constructed and projected. As they close the record off with Dublin City Sky an Irish reel with an indisguisable nod to The Pogues, Shane McGowan and that whole Gaelic richness of experience, sentimentality, poetry, fury and fire that we all know so well, I'm impressed. And moved.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 382 Patsy Cline

George Sanders sings..

And while we're here. George Sanders 'sings'...

Songs About People # 820 George Sanders

The voice of Shere Khan. All about Eve, Rebecca and many, many more and the man who also wrote one of the driest suicide notes of all:

'Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.'

Say Sue Me - We've Sobered Up

The altogether wonderful South Korean band Say Sue Me keep rolling on. Fresh from a pledge campaign where they recouped some of the money lost when their equipment was stolen on a European tour last year. They're about to embark on another. Here's their Record Store Day release from 2019.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 100 The Coasters

Song(s) of the Day # 1,918 Roseanne Reid

A couple of tracks into Trails, Roseanne Reid's debut album, I found myself thinking, 'this is incredibly distinguished stuff'. The record continued to maintain the same very high standard throughout and I remained impressed.

It's a really traditional record. Pure old school. Country ballads delivered in the manner they've been delivered since singers began to emerge from the Greenwich Village cafes in the early Sixties, with neat touches of Soul, Blues and Folk to keep the pot stirring. Nothing will surprise you but much may please you.

Reid is the eldest daughter of Proclaimer Craig Reid which probably goes some way to explaining exactly why this record is so firmly rooted though she doesn't sing in anything resembling a Scottish accent. This is pure Americana.  The album makes absolutely no concessions to 2019 and why should it. Not all records need to so long as the songs are as good as they are here.

The obvious achilles heel of records like this is that they fall into the pit of worthiness. Even here Trails exceeds all expectation. Reid finds constant paths to the heart of why this stuff when done well is so poignant and so true. A quite lovely album.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Songs About People # 819 Robert Quine

Lou has already had a song on here. So this goes to Quine, one of the most underrated guitarists there ever was.

Important Gigs in My Life # 9 Pete Doherty - Newcastle Carling Academy 17th May 2011

While we're on the subject of Fat White Family and heroin chic, here's one of their antecedents and a brief account of going to see him eight years back. One of my regrets was never getting to see The Libertines, particularly in their glorious early days. Doherty was a few years down the line from there  at the time I finally got to see him. by now he seemed rather more ragged than glorious having gone through the Sun, Kate Moss and heroin experiences that made him a known name nationally but rather took the shine off his mystique and poetic edge casting him now as a rather more pathetic than inspiring figure.

I came home from work with no intentions of seeing him. The Carling Academy in Newcastle lies fifty yards down the street from my flat and I saw his name above the venue. When I got home I called my sister who had seen him and The Libertines on several occasions. I asked her whether I should go and her reply was a definite affirmative. Well you've got to do as your sister advises really so I walked down there. There were tickets on the door and a fair bit of space in the venue. I think he was probably viewed as a bit of a hit and miss project by others round about this point and not just by me. Somebody whose best days were probably behind him.

He played alone. No band, just himself an electric guitar and his customary hat. Oh and a ballerina pirouetting behind him for some of the set. He was quite fabulous. Awe inspiring. Sometimes you have to see someone in the flesh to really detach the hype from the myth and really experience the genuine raw talent that lies beneath. Because Doherty had it in spades.

He kept the audience in the palm of his hand. I got a real sense of the reality about his vision of Albion having genuine fleshy substance. I also got a feeling that he had a real audience and a bond with them that was quite tangible.

He played some Libertines songs. He played some of his own songs. and they were both cut very much from the same cloth. I can't remember very many specifics just the sense that I felt that I was in the company of a genuinely unique talent.

I seem to recall that a few days later he was subject to yet another police drugs bust. I saw him just in time. He still tours and puts out records, having made it to forty, and though I'm not desperately bothered about seeing him again I'm supremely glad that I did that night.

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 99 The Drifters

Song(s) of the Day # 1,917 Fat White Family

I have to say I've always been slightly wary about Fat White Family and their affiliate projects. I've never been one for heroin chic for starters, going all the way back to Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders and the Eighties version of Nick Cave and there's always been a kind of attention seeking desperation about  the way the band conduct themselves to my mind. Plus I just didn't like the records for the most part. Though I'm still no great fan of the band's public persona, my impression of their music  changed when I started listening to their new album Serf's Up. It's a truly monumental record. A very good one too.

This is what comes of having great record collections and applying the nerve to fully immerse yourself in them as the starting point for the creative process. Fat White Family have done so and come up with a soundtrack with genuine swagger, attempting to take on the greats. Serf's Up is a massively daring and ambitious album, and very much a 2019 sounding one. Funky and widescreen, it's great to see a British band trying to sound quite so vast again.

So what does it sound like? It sounds a bit like the album cover and recent promotional shots of the band stripped to the waist looking like a Russian feudal chain gang might suggest. Like a cross between Dostoevsky, League of Gentlemen, The Human League, Pulp, Glam Rock, Disco, Rap and Funk and Spaghetti Western Soundtracks. Oh and Nineteen Forties Hollywood Black and White Horror movies. It's a record that just demands to be listened through to at one sitting. and then listened to again and again.

Really, this shouldn't work. There are just so many ludicrously diverse ingredients stirred into the mix here that it's some kind of minor miracle that they cohere to the astonishing degree that they do. Part of the reason for this might be  the band's relocation from their beloved London to the altogether grittier Sheffield for the duration of Serf's Up recording . Somehow taking a fresh look at their modus operandi has helped them become the force that they've always wanted but never really threatened to be previously. Good luck to them.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Kikagaku Moyo

Zebra Hunt - Trade Desire

If you type 'zebra hunt' into YouTube you will find your way to erm... lots of clips of lions and crocodiles hunting zebras. Not to the songs of this Seattle quartet. Funny that. But it's worth persevering, particularly if you're a fan of the free-rolling fluid guitar songs that The Feelies and The Flying Nun bands made and still make. It's near impossible to write about Zebra Hunt without mentioning these reference points. I did so previously when posting about them on here. Their new record, the eight track Trade Desire is a pretty pure distillation of that sub genre of music. While wishing they'd venture a little bit from the pre-laid path on occasion, within its given parameters it's a neat record.

Songs About People # 818 Adam Faith

From rather wonderful mid-Eighties Edinburgh outfit Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, (who took their name from that of Elvis's stillborn twin, Jesse Garon Presley). 

Atlantic Records Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Boxset # 98 The Drifters

Song(s) of the Day # 1,916 Elva

One of the most impossibly gorgeous records I've heard thus far this year, Elva's debut album Winter Sun came out yesterday, heralding the Spring that is belatedly showing its face outside my window. A duo essentially, and also a couple,  Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Morris and Ola Innset of Making Marks.

Sometimes the location where a record is made is utterly key to the way it sounds and such is the case here. Recorded in an old school house in the Swedish forest during moose hunting season in Autumn of last year, Winter Sun utterly nails the pastoral beauty conjured up by that idea.

There's also an enormously strong sense of love of others radiating from the record. On Harbour in the Storm, in some sense the centrepiece of the album, Morris sings, 'You know, you're more precious than gold. And I'll be your harbour in the storm.' It's difficult to convey how beautifully that comes across in words alone, I'd suggest you listen to the song itself and experience it for yourself.

Morris and Insett pass the vocal baton from one to the other over the course of the album. It's Indie in the broadest sense but what I really love about the record is that it defies the need for categories or comparison points. It stands in its own place. The recurrent reference  point is the passing of the seasons but also what remains the same. The constancy of love. 

A record of enormous optimism and positivity, Winter Sun is an album to cherish. A record released on Good Friday made Friday feel good for me. This may not achieve the full recognition it deserves critically or commercially but it's already one of my favourite records of 2019.