“Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive are tied up in memory.” Nick Cave
Monday, February 28, 2022
Song of the Day # # 2,955 SASAMI
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 35 Gene - Olympian
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Song of the Day # 2,953 Tomato Flower
Friday, February 25, 2022
Songs About People # 1,323 Louis Wain
Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 720 Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish
Song(s) of the Day # 2,952 Howless
To Repel Ghosts the debut album from Mexico City's Howless is instantly familiar, particularly to those of a certain vintage, like me for starters. It locates the spot where The Cure first decided that they actually might fancy Killing an Arab and Siouxsie & the Banshees started pretending they were from the Middle East rather than London's suburbia.
It's all highly derivative and probably best suited for those who have never quite got the inner-Goth DNA out of their bloodstream when it probably left mine at at some point in 1984. It's definitely a good record that should tick boxes for those who go for that stuff.
If that doesn't entirely float your boat then it's still worth a listen if only to play spot the influence with music fans of a similar age to myself. I noticed In Between Days, early Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus, The Mission and Sisters of Mercy and then gave up as it was never the best developed section of my record lane. One to pop on next time you fancy rattling some chains around the living room..
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Song of the Day # 2,951 Lion Or Gazelle
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Song(s) of the Day # 2,950 Nat Harvie
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 31 Foals - Holy Fire
Song of the Day # 2,949 Rot TV
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Hurray For The Riff Raff - Life on Earth
Women seem to be pretty much in charge of things in the music world these days. That's a huge generalisation of course, and blokes and bands obviously have plenty to contribute but I'll just chuck a few names that seem to apply at you, entirely at random.
Weather Station, Courtney Barnett, Cate Le Bon, U.S.Girls, Sharon Van Etten, Goat Girl, Adrienne Lenker, Snail Mail, Cassandra Jenkins, Mega Bog, Jane Weaver, Little Simz, Greentea Peng. That's a pretty formidable list off the top of my head. My Top 3 albums of last year were by female solo artists and I could have tweaked the final Top Ten fairly easily to make the whole thing female without betraying my essential musical tastes and preferences.
Add to that list Alynda Segarra or Hurray For The Riff Raff if you prefer. If she's not high on your list already. She may well be. She put out a fine album in The Navigator in 2017, and has a back catalogue that is worthy of exploration.
Her latest Life on Earth though seems like a point of genuine arrival. A realisation of where she's been heading to for the best part of ten years. Segarra does a fairly similar thing to Sharon Van Etten. That thing that Springsteen did on his albums up to Darkness at the Edge of Town. Walking the mean streets in your leather jacket. Not stepping aside for anyone and not showing any fear.
Segarra's own personal twist on this is a slight New Orleans one. She moved there from The Bronx in 2007. She's also taking an 'it's the end of the world as we know it,' eco-line on this one, like so many others right now. Inevitable frankly, given the state of the planet we live on.
This leads to a slightly unfortunate record sleeve for with a picture of Segarra up to her knees in what looks like a Bayou river, wearing the oddest and not the most fetching battle garb. It's a dreadful choice of image to be honest but you shouldn't let it put you off because the record itself is just excellent and finds Hurray For The Riff Raff shifting into an altogether higher gear than she's ever operated at before.
In a year that's already provided some completely excellent and inspiring records; Big Thief, Cate le Bon, John Xerxes Russell, Beach House, Green/ Blue, Costello and any number of others, Segarra finds herself in the leading pack as we head towards the end of February. But it's far too early yet to make predictions for end of the year podium places just yet. Nevertheless, this ones a definite candidate and I suspect it has staying power. It's already getting a play for me every few days.
Monday, February 21, 2022
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 488 Gil Scott Heron
Song(s) of the Day # 2,948 Shybits
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 30 Aztec Camera - High Land, Hard Rain
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 29 Sleaford Mods - English Tapas
1982 Singles Post Script - Dexys Midnight Runners
Song(s) of the Day # 2,947 Ben Auld
Saturday, February 19, 2022
Beach House - Once Twice Melody
Baltimore's Beach House's long awaited and much anticpated new album Once Twice Melody, sets off with its opening and title track as if it's on a mission. The mission seems to be to find the missing link between Serge Gainsbourg at his dreamy peak, Suicide's electro pulse, Nancy and Lee's Some Velvet Morning, Broadcast, The Whicker Man and Goldfrapp's marvellous Felt Mountain.
That's a pretty good place to start from and the record shifts on from there, twisting and turning in interesting ways for the course of its run. Like a smooth, high speed train, travelling fast while appearing to travel slowly at one and the same.
I'd like to say immediately that I think it's a very good record. I won't go into how it ranks among their back catalogue, as I'm not familiar with all of that. 'There was never enough time, Michael. There was never enough time,' as Marlon Brando, (speaking from within the skin of Vito Corleone), said to Al Pacino, (listening from within the skin of Michael).
Beach House have been doing this, or things that are rather like this, for quite some time now. I first became aware of them about Veckatimest, the superlative 2009 Grizzly Bear album. I went to see them shortly afterwards play a great set at The Sage, in Gateshead.
Beach House were supporting them that night and though I was aware of and interested in them at the time, I arrived too late to see them. A mistake I cannot amend, though I'd like to. On Once Twice Melody they alternate vocals between the duo's core members Victoria Legrand Alex Scally, and it's quite a disarming process sometimes.
Nancy does the Nancy Sinatra / Broadcast thing while Alex can actually come across sounding rather like Neil Tennant. Not that I've got anything at all against Tennant and The Pet Shop Boys at all. Far from it. But it does come across as a strange, contrasting ride sometimes. But it still works remarkably and incredibly soothing. There are also hints of Flaming Lips occasionally and certainly Kraftwerk which all adds to the mix.
Anyway it's a fascinating and rewarding listen. A record to fall asleep to, and I mean that in the best sense of the term and experience. It will give you sweet dreams. One to listen to and tease out the nuances from over the coming months.
1982 Singles # 1 The Go Betweens
So, to my favourite single of 1982, a quite wonderful year for music. A magical year. A single that never ever got anywhere near the upper or even lower reaches of any actual singles chart ever and I don't think I actually heard until a couple of years later, when I first started to get into this band, the namers of this actual blog.
The Go Beweens were pointing the way I would go next in terms of my musical tastes. The singles charts became less interesting I'd say over the next couple of years. More Thatcherite, more Reaganite, blander. Less honest. Scrambling for a buck. A lot of the bands I've celebrated on here in this series became less interesting too or had just had enough, or run their course and disbanded. Associates, Japan, Clash, Jam, or sold out pure and simple in the case of Simple erm Minds.
So I moved elsewhere, to R.E.M., The Go Betweens, The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Triffids, Lloyd Cole & the Commotions. Not all of this stuff got into the actual singles charts but was a lot more interesting to me than the stuff that did and described the person I was, or was in the process of becoming or wanting to become. It spoke to me and I'm so glad it did. I'm still learning from it.
Still, to Cattle and Cane, perhaps the finest moment of a very fine band who had several wonderful moments though they sold precious few records, at least at the time. The world seems to have finally woken up to how great they were. Too late for Grant McLennan, the writer of this song.He passed, in 2006. Far too soon. Still with plenty of great songs and great thoughts within him. Still with plenty to give and say. It's a tragedy really.
It's no wonder this wasn't a hit really. I put it on the jukebox at my local on a busy Friday night a while back and given the general babble and chat, it sounded like three shy people trying to have an argument. It's one for the ages though . Too profound and nuanced for mass consumption. Though it does get its due these days. About memory and loss and about forging forward at the same time. What we all need to do. This is still a very good place to start when thinking about how to go about doing that, It's a masterpiece.
Song of the Day # 2,946 International Soleil Band
Friday, February 18, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 27 The Avalanches - Since I Left You
1982 Singles # 2 Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Song(s) of the Day # 2,945 Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms
Thursday, February 17, 2022
1982 Singles # 3 Associates
Associates were one of the most extraordinary and surprising UK chart sensations of all, though their run only lasted the course of 1982, and they only had three genine hit singles. Billy Mackenzie led them on to a few more minor chart placings after Alan Rankine left, but really they were just as much about Rankine as Mackenzie and they lost much of their glorious sparkle when he went.
But for a while they were utterly glorious and Smash Hits, Radio One and Top of the Pops went for them in a huge way. Especiallly Top of the Pops, and theirs were some of the most wonderful and memorable performances the programme ever saw.
This was largely about Mackenzie. He was an utterly astonishing performer. Not just that incomparable operatic range, but just as much for his quite incredible good looks, charm, the way he seemed just born for the TV screen. I remember he provoked one of those, 'did you see' conversations at my school one Friday morning from a teacher before the school day started. She didn't think much of him. She was great but what did she know. He and they were something else.
Song of the Day # 2,944 Cola
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - The Way it Shatters
1982 Singles # 4 Rocker's Revenge
Song(s) of the Day # 2,943 Green/Blue
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
1982 Singles # 5 Japan
So Japan disbanded, just when they had the world, or certainly the UK in the palm of their hand. There was too much going on within that band for them to possibl stay together. But before they went they registered one of the truly most remarkable Top Ten singles there have ever been.
Songs like Ghosts should not really be on daytime radio or Top of the Pops on Thursday nights. they resonate too much. But there it was. And then despite their record companies desperate ploy of releasing everything in their back catalogue that might be a hit, to keep the cash tills ringing, they were gone leaving they field they'd ploughed for Duran Duran to reap an undeserved harvest over the next couple of years.
David Sylvian and the rest of the band released plenty of wonderful stuff to keep Japan fans more than happy over the coming decades, but it was a shame somehow that the original group didn't hang together somehow to release a follow up to Tin Drum. It would surely have been something else.
Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 730 Breeders - Last Splash
Song(s) of the Day # 2,942 Empath
Monday, February 14, 2022
1982 Singles # 6 ABC
ABC have as good a claim as any to have owned 1982.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,941 Grace Cummings
Australian Grace Cummings doesn't pill her punches for a moment in recently released second album Storm Queen. It's full on,soaring, torch singer stuff, with a steely, classically rich voice reminiscent immediatelyo f Joan Baez, Marianne Faithfull and Judy Henske.
It's rather stentorian, old school and humourless for my personal taste, (many of these songs could easily have featured in Don't Look Now, or have been sung by the Folk crown in small Greenwich Village venues in previous years, there's not the remotest attempt to update the sensibility) but mightily impressive in its way. All feeling rather 1965 rather than 2022 in tone. But the songs are sturdy vehicles and Cummings certainly has the voice to do them justice.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 22 Wolf Alice - My Life is Cool
1982 Singles # 7 Simple Minds
Song(s) of the Day # 2,940 Mild Orange
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 21 Gomez - Bring It On
1982 Singles # 8 Robert Wyatt
1982 was the year of The Falklands. Elvis Costello wrote this, but this is the definitive version. There is a short discussion of the song here before he sings it. Still unbearably poignant even this far down the line.
Song(s) of the Day # 2,939 Night Shop
Friday, February 11, 2022
Big Thief - Dragon New Mountain, I Believe in You
For Lenker, who was raised in a Christian sect until she was 6, has clearly never quite lost her communal, outsider roots. In fact they've hardened and refined and defined themselves if anything over the course of Big Thief's career. Dragon New Mountain is the ultimate drawn out campfire hoedown, new age Music From the Big Pink meets Willie & The Poor Boys for new millenials and Lenker is always at the very heart of things.
It's a quite wonderful record. Focused on life, imagining death, with each band member straining ever sinew throughout the coure of ts run. Whether you can stay the course, and sit through all ot its twenty tracks at a single sitting is another matter. That's a lot to ask of twenty first century attention spans.
But that's what I did, early this morning, and I'm glad I did. It doesn't seem at first play, to have weak tracks. There was only one that I didn't particularlt care for and even that might grow on me. It's a quite astonishing record and may very well be the very best album that I'll hear all year. If that turns out to be the case, then Big Thief will certainly deserve their moment. They're a band that have had their share of hard knocks, most notably Lenker and guitarists Buck Meek's marriage falling apart, but their staying on the band together anyhow, realising their musical mission took principle priority over all else.
So Big Thief are hippies essentially, just as The Patti Smith Group were hippies way back when as well as being original punks. Dragon New Mountain is an altogether intriguing, mammoth trek, something to unpick at leisure over the coming months. They're a band that have stars in their eyes. I hope this record brings them their full critical and commercial due. It's utterly astonishing.