Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
So while everything is interesting here I don't find things enthralling as of yet. It seems to speak of journeys to places I don't really wish to go to. Last Time I Saw Grace has slightly impenetrable, wistful, surfaces. It's almost deliberately not here. I like records with a sense of otherness but these ones are so artfully disembodied that it's rather hard sometimes to get a handle on them. I always had that relationship with Jack and his records. Even his best ones.
So I'm already feeling that New Bums are not really for me. Not that this isn't a good record. It is, in its way. But it strikes me as one that's looking for a home. Its lyrics say pretty much just this, on several occasions. Its somewhere in between, in transit, like a train that stops for the longest time between stations for no apparent reason.
Perhaps I'm selling Last Time I Saw Grace short but I think I need to let it go and allow it to fend for itself. I was looking for a sense of arrival that it doesn't seem to offer. As always, in cases like this, when my reaction is probably lukewarm at best. I'll resort to conventional music magazine grading. I'll give it seven.
Monday, March 29, 2021
'God bless 'em because exterminator was just what the rock doctor ordered at the beginning of the twenty first century.'
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Another fun music discussion with Rod. related to this blog. The third in all. We talk about The Godfather, Jane Weaver, Jane.Inc, POSTDATA, Black Twigs, William Doyle, the book Electric Eden, Bunny Wailer, Reggae in general, teenage parties and many other things. Mostly about life really.
Another year when I struggled to find many records from in my own personal collection. These years seem to be 'waiting for Punk' years. Although there were a few very decent records released. Here's the Best Ever Albums list:
1. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
2. Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks
3. Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
4. Queen - A Night At The Opera
5. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
6. Brian Eno - Another Green World
7. Patti Smith - Horses
8. Neil Young - Tonight's The Night
9. Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac
10. Joni Mitchell - The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Here's mine. Only chosen from records that I own. All about Patti really. My favourite record of the year by several leagues. Also my favourite Joni of the ones I know. Fleshed out by a couple of 'Best Of's', albeit great ones which says it all about 1975 I'd say :
1. Patti Smith - Horses
2. Joni Mitchell - The Hissing of Summer Lawns
3. Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
4. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Zuma
5. Elton John - Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirty Cowboy
6. Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
7. John Cale - Slow Dazzle
8. Roxy Music - Siren
9. Al Green - Greatest Hits
10. Leonard Cohen - The Best of Leonard Cohen
Almost nothing from this year that I don't own that I covery really. Except a very, very good record from Neu. Decent ones from Lour Reed, Bowie and Can. Otherwise, all fairly barren. I've checked ahead and 1976 is even less fun I'm afraid.
The new Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders album, just out, is a truly wonderful thing. Timely too. It is, pure and simply, Floating Points doing their thing. Pharaoh doing his thing to embroider The Points thing. With the London Symphony Orchestra doing their thing to provide it all a regal, stately undertow.
Apparently a collaboration that took five years to reach full fruition. If so, it's just great that it's come out at this moment in time. It's a single piece divided into nine minutes. It's probably best listened to in a single sitting.
It's something you might turn to as something to provide a soundtrack to a Mindfullness meditation. It's something you my just want to immerse yourself in. As escape or realease. It's all rather beautiful and quite splendid. It's not difficult in any respect. It's surely the album of its type for 2021.
Fear of Music - The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk & Disco # 227 Kathryn Williams - Little Black Numbers
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Frokedal are back! Or at least she's coming back, which to my mind is a very good thing, Anna-Lise Frokedal who a couple of years back came out with probably my favourite song of that year David. Se has a trembling fragile mode of delivery that is really quite remarkable, the closest comparison I can come to is Nico, she definitely has that brittle European hauteur. If this is anything to go by I look forward very much to her forthcoming album.
A Brisbane band. And they sound it. On opener Old Mind of Mine they set off on a determined, jangled strum that is to all intents and purposes Streets of Your Time by The Go Betweens, the best band ever to come out of that city.
Full Power Happy Hour's recipe is a fairly simple one. In many ways they recreate the easy acoustic strummming sunny vibes of 18 Lovers Lane, in some respects The Go Betweens pop masterpiece.except with a female vocalist Alex Campbell rather than Grant and Robert.
The songs here are presented with great love, care and attention. In some ways their spiritual forebears, just as the Go Betweens were the great anthems of the sixties, from the likes of The Seekers and The Mamas & The Papas.
Elsewhere, they get slightly braver. Woohaa Everyday the standout on the album for me, moves into shade and stirs memories of Sandy Denney and Leonard Cohen, the best memories at that.
From there the record moves into its purple patch. Full Power Happy Hour have slowed down the pace and it seems to be the tempo that suits them best. Campbell too really comes into her own here. Her voice crystal clear and sustained. Reminscent here of Denney again, Judith Durham, Judy Collins.
Its these later songs on the album that really cut deep for me. The band really start hitting their stride building a lovely vibe here. Something like a cross between the frst Fairport Convention Folk Rock album and the more contemporary and unfairly neglected Houndstooth out of Portland, Oregon.
Full Power Happy Hour is no masterpiece, but it does get very good indeed at some points, particularly towards its close. I was moved and touched on sevel occasions. Sent in to rather reveries. This is a short record. Only eight songs. More like a Full Power Happy Half Hour really. But the record concerned certainly does what it says it will on the tin.
Friday, March 26, 2021
Thursday, March 25, 2021
I have a lot of time for John Grant, particularly his first two solo records which I think are perfectly formed classics. I've taken my eye off him for a few years as I haven't taken to his recent releases as much as those ones. But this has definitely picqued my interest again. One of the best songs of the year thus far and one of the best thing he's done in advance of a new album which arrives in June. This has all his rich melancholy and cool wit.
The songs on Omaha, New England musician Anna McClellan's new album i saw first light don't seem to want to conform. Even it seems, to her own dictates. They come across as unruly and directionless children, zig zagging across a crowded playground with singular intent while the other kids watch on.
This is slightly unnerving at first but comes to be increasingly winning as the record runs its course. Of course the unformed American adolescent a has a long and charming lineage in popular music. Jonathan Richman, The Shaggs, Violent Femmes, Jad Fair, Camper Van Beethoven. The weird kids from your neighbourhood. The ones that the cool kids shun but you secretly suspect have hidden insight into the true, secret mysteries of life.
McClellan makes no effort whatsoever to try to make her songs conform. To try to bash them into shape and make them sit up. This is what they are. Although you might wonder on occasions whether this is something of an artful conceit and she's actually terribly normal, you have to draw the conclusion that if she is, she plays the oddball misfit card most terribly well.
This strain of quirky American suburban teenage eccentricity almost deserves a book of its own. The artists above would get a chapter to themselves. As would Juno, American Splendor, Garden State, Perks of Being a Wallflower, you name 'em. i saw first light is merely the latest new entry to this rather wonderful sub-genre of coming of age quirkily.
This is nothing you haven't heard already really. But that's no reason why you shouldn't hear it anway. I'm only slightly sad that it was released towards the end of last year and not in this one as I'd love to put it in a chart at the end of the year. It's a record I think will become one I love the more I hear it, iron out its crumples and become deeply familiar with its mishappen melodies and wonky charms.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
'You get defiantly plastic pop in an 80s mode, and joyous reinventions of 60s femme-pop, and feminist sloganeering rendered subversive by melody, disco pleasur and good jokes.'
Finland strikes again. Just a few day after being delighted to strike up correspondence again with Olli Happonen, leader of excellent stoner rockers New Silver Girl, here is another unexpected find for musical pleasure seekers from that particular one of the Lands of the Midnight Sun.
I'm being knocked for six by this one. Black Twig couldn't sound more different from New Silver Girl frankly if they truly tried. However, the two would make an absolutely fabulous double bill. Like being taken back to your favourite scenes. Dunedin '83 or '84, Eric's '78 to '79. CBGB's '74 or '75.
Black Twig are so good than even such flighty comparisons such as the ones I've just made don't seem fanciful.This, Was Not Looking For Magic,(apparently their fourth), seems destined, even on first play to be one of my favourite records of the year. Every now and again I stumble across something deeply obscure which I think every bit as good as the major releases I'm hearing .
In recent years it's been Lawn, Wild Firth and Warehouse. This year Black Twig seem top contenders for the cult statuette once I come round to passing out awards when December shows.
So where do this band pitch their tent. OK here goes. Monochrome Set, The Clean, The Feelies, The Chills, Felt, Blue Orchids, Robert fronted early Go Betweens, early Triffids, early, early Bunnymen (Read it in Books, Simple Stuff), Crystal Stilts. Is this enough to excite your interest? It damned well should be. This is exalted company and Black Twig fit right in.
In some ways on first listen this sounds more like a set of utterly glorious indie singles than a wholly cohesive album. But hey, I'm not complaining. Only about one thing. Why are Black Twig in Finland rather than living down the round from me and playing in the indie club downtown when the doors of such places finally open again..I'd be at the lip of the stage. They make me feel like I'm nineteen.again.
Was Not Looking For Magic and Black Twig is what makes fiddling round the dial worthwhile. They are a joy and a wonderful discovery for me. For the thirty minutes that this record played I was utterly transfixed . Then it finished, so I put it on again.
Monday, March 22, 2021
A few days from its release this Friday, this is the run through of the forty or so tracks on All Our Times Have Come the new compilation from Jon Savage about the years running up to Punk. Savage is one of my heroes, his stuff never lets me down and his stories of how these things came into being are always educational and entertaining. Starting here, slightly surprisingly, with Little Feat.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
While we're in 1974, here's a great review, (not written by me, I hasten to add). Of a great record from that year. Second on my list:
In the back of my mind I vaguely remembered having read something about Big Star in Creem four years earlier - that their sound was somehow connected to The Beatles (which in 1976 seemed to be way more of a thing of the past than they do today), and The Byrds, and that the reviews were positive. I had a good feeling that Radio City might be worth the six quarters.Holding the record up I caught the attention of the clerk behind the register. I was just getting to know Bill, a friendly fellow who looked like he had once been a roadie for Quicksilver Messenger Service and whose taste in music leaned toward raw Detroit rock and roll with a psychedelic edge. The sort whose opinion you might value even if you were inclined to believe that yours was the only one that mattered. I gave Bill a quizzical "what's the deal?" look. "You might like that," was his offhand response, one that would prove to be an understatement to say the least. "Take it, and if you like it, pay me next time." I secured the record under my arm and headed home.
Radio City captures the sound of those illusory moments on the beach. It's as if all of the music coming out of all the luttletransistor radio speakers - Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Beach Boys, Sam and Dave, 5th Dimension, Lovin' Spoonfu;, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Supremes, Young Rascals, Sonny and Cher, Four Tops, Sam the Sham, Napoleon XIV - had somehow been beamed into outer space to some distant planet and then transformed by bunch of musical alchemists into something both fresh and yet familiar and sent back to earth in a stream of glowing super-charged electrical particles by a wizard of sound. In a very real sense though that's exactly what happened. Even on first listen Radio City sounded like pure magic.
If Radio City sounded like an album that had been created in the past and then beamed to a time and place somewhere in the future for the world to eventually discover, it never really did have much of a present. It sold few copies when it was released in March of 1974 - somewhere under 10,000 is a reasonable guess. If you had a copy, the cover most likely had a promo sticker or a corner cut off.What copies there were that made there way out into the world found their way into the hands of people who played it over and over. Radio City became much sought after, and once secured, treasured. Odds are that if you had a copy, it wasn't just another record in your collection. It was a directive for a mission - you had to spread the word. You had made a point of playing it for your friends and gladly made a cassette copy hen hey shook their heads in amazement. When you met somebody who already knew about Big Star, it was like a musical handshake that made you part of an underground of true believers. A lot of those handshakes were the beginning of new bands. Some of those bands went on to enjoy the success that their inspiration had optimistically hoped for - even expected - during its brief life. If influence could be measured, Radio City would have now gone platinum many times over.