“Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive are tied up in memory.” Nick Cave
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 81 Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing at Baker's
Song(s) of the Day # 3,136 Vinyl Williams
Now this is something really lovely if that's what you're after on a Wednesday morning, which I imagine most people are. Vinyl Williams, not a man but a band, are new to me. They hail from LA and have been described as a Neo-Psychedelic, Electronic, Dreampop, Krautrock, Chillwave, Hypnagogic Pop band by Wikapedia. That's a ludicrous number of labels for one band to labour under. Anyhow, They're ridiculously good. And Cosmoplis, their sixth album, is just out.
It strikes me as really rather Anglophile. The sharp side of the Independent Nineties fair where Bo Radley's, Stereolab, Laika and High Llamas set out their their stalls. Once you know this is the modus vivendi and that Vinyl Williams are so thoughtfully and artfully adept at what they do and that they're going to make you feel like dancing too, in the way that Deelite, Saint Etienne and CSS used to, albeit at the Indie Disco rather the crap mainstream one in the High Street,then you're ready, you can sit back and enjoy.
For this is first of all a highly enjoyable journey.. This group have a lightness of touch that is rare in the circles they mix in, a fleetness of foot that leads to some truly magical moments when golden confetti is scattered over proceedings and you feel that what you are listening to has more in common with Nile Rogers and Sergio Mendes than Thurston or Malkmus.
So, a true gem for the end of summer and a considerable achievement for Lionel Williams, the guiding vision Spector figure behind his near namesake band. A record I haven't been able to stop listening to since I first became aware of its existence a couple of days ago.
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Coming Up # 18 Arctic Monkeys
I confess to having slightly mixed feelings about Arctic Monkeys but they're always worth a listen. Next album, The Car, is out on October 21st and should be too.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,135 Pomme
I'm on holiday at the moment, so that obviously makes me prone to happy emotions. But I rather fell in love with this yesterday morning, listening through to it for the first time.
I can't understand the lyrics. My understanding for that language never went much further than, 'Nikki, the monkey, is in the tree.' But it's a language that music almost always sounds great in.
As for the album itself, it's difficult to describe. It's floaty and tuneful and rather indie and laid back. The record has a sleeve with someone, wearing something that covers her face that looks like a cross between a sombrero and an arty lampshade. You'd have to assume that this is the French 'apple lady' herself. And also that she doesn't take herself altogether seriously.
Anyway, this is hardly a record that is going to stop the lights. Commercially or critically. Perhaps in France. But I love it and its eccentric ways. The Gallic apple lady is actually good enough to sing a song in English for us ignorant Brits and it's as good as all her others. Encroyable!
Monday, August 29, 2022
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 527 Dire Straits
Song(s) of the Day # 3,134 Danger Mouse & Black Thought
This came out a few weeks back. An old skool collaboration in many respects. With the rapping rhythms and tone of early NAS and the vague gangster dread of those times but leavened by cool samples, melodic flourishes, tight beats and the constant ability to surprise.
Producer Danger Mouse and rapper Black Thought are neither of them actually new kids on the block. Far from it. Black Thought made his name as MC of The Roots who have been putting out records since the early Nineties, while Danger Mouse has been a producer of note for a broad range of artisits from Jay Z to Beck and Damon Albarn. No spring chickens then.
But on latest collaboration Cheat Codes they make Hip Hop's broad legacy work for them. This is something of an instant classic. Put it on and it will give you the instant shivers in the way that Illmatic, De La Soul is Dead or Liquid Swords might do.
One of the albums off the year then. One of the best records of this type I've heard for some time. A lyrical free wheeling treasure that improves on every listen.
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Song(s) of the Day # 3,133 Thee Sacred Souls
Debut album from San Diego trio in a style that has become a sub genre all of its own in recent years and Quentin Tarantino could genuinely have a claim to setting the groundwork for in the soundtracks of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. That neo Soul sound of the early Seventies, Delfonics, Stylistics and Chilites.
Thee Sacred Souls capture the sweetness of this sound to perfection. This is not a record that springs any surprises. If it did it would break the rules of this whole style of music and subsequently wouldn't work and the spell it is casting would be broken. This is utterly formuaic to the nth degreed but fans of this mood are not going to complain about for a moment.
The production values and pacing, the harmonising is pitched to perfection.Someting that sounds just effortless though you know very well how much work is required to achieve it. It's one to sit back in your seat and let wash all of you. If this is the kind of thing you go for, frankly you couldn't wish for any better. Masterful frankly.
Saturday, August 27, 2022
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 526 Orange Juice
Covers # 197 Sister John & The Bluebells
Songs About People # 1,355 Ally Sheedy
Song(s) of the Day # 3,132 Gently Tender
Friday, August 26, 2022
Ezra Furman - All of us Flames
Ezra Furman remains first and foremost the kind of Rock & Roll star that doesn't exist any more. Bowie or Reed in the early Seventies. Loud, proud and unapologetic, at the point of realisation.
Now a transgender woman and currently training to become a Rabbi, her own narrative is just as intriguing as her records. Latest album All of us Flames is at first, one blazing, fist aloft queer anthem after another though by the end of the record, it becomes something else.
More Bruce than Lou or Dave in terms of its tone. Virtually every song builds and builds though there is occasional time for contemplative nuance, notably Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club which immediately made me want to watch the movie again.
I'd imagine Ezra is such a point of inspiration for many going through their own journeys of discovery and becoming. All of us Flames is a particular record, not quite like any other you'll hear this year and it's brilliantly realised.
Song of the Day # 3,131 Eli Winter
Thursday, August 25, 2022
Songs About People # 1,354 Jim Jones
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 525 Lone Justice
Song(s) of the Day # 3,130 Canyons & Locusts
Raw, rugged independent rock from Boston band Canyons & Locusts. They sound like you'd expect a band like that to sound. Mission of Burma, Document era R.E.M.. Flinty and raw, hanging together but only just. Latest album,Roll The Dice, highly recommended.
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 74 Tim Buckley - Goodbye & Hello
Song(s) of the Day # 3,129 flipturn
Florida band do an airy guitary vaguely philosphical thing on latest album Shadowglow. Not a million miles away from Vampire Weekend. A perfectly pleasant listening experience, but not one I'll go back to.
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Song(s) of the Day # 3,128 Why Bonnie
Bands with similar names are rather confusing for the likes of me, trying to keep a blog going on. Texas quintet Why Bonnie popping up with their debut album 90 in November is a case in point, just as Bonny Light Horseman are set to return.
Why Bonnie serve further confusion into the mix by serving up what sounds like a fairly generic indie stew for much though not all of the record. I liked it. The songs are all serviceable in that slightly glum indie way that made me think of a female led Red House Painters.
I couldn't help thinking, 'Oh pull youself together' at various points. Well most of it really. This is the way you feel at a certain point in your life. Early twenties certainly. But isn't Texas really sunny. About five tracks in I began feeling that a picnic might be a better idea than pretending you were on the 4AD roster at some point in the late Eighties
Monday, August 22, 2022
Songs Heard on the Radio # 424 Lunge
Neglected Records In My Collection # 7 Split Enz - True Colours
So from one Kiwi to a whole lot more. Split Enz, have a couple of claims at least. To being the first New Zealand Rock band. Also for paving and showing the way for so many great New Zealand and Australian bands that followed. The Clean, The Chills, The Go Betweens, The Triffids and numerous others owe them a debt at least for showing that it could be done.
Split Enz never really quite broke big but they were known and True Colurs was the one they were known for. And their best. It contains their big hit I Got You, an early indication that Neil Finn really had something going for him. But there's plenty else here. Plenty of the bands early quirkiness and jerkiness, but plenty of pop artistry too. Almost like Devo meets early to mid period Beatles. And just as good as that sounds.
It's a fine little record start to finish. So many highs but I've always loved Nobody Takes Me Seriously Anyway, the story of the ittle jerk in every office, which really should have followed I Got You up the charts. There's plenty, plenty else too. All in all a gem.
Kiwi Jr. - Chopper
Toronto's Kiwi Jr. are a mounting force. Already with two considerable albums under their belt, their third Chopper gathers together all of their considerable promise, builds on it, gathers momentum and makes a masterful, cohesive statement. This may well be my Indie Rock album of the year.
It's almost impossible to mention this band without making at least some reference to Pavement who always have been and remain their guiding inspiration, so I might as well get this out of the way straight away.
Kiwi Jr, draw on the pop sensibility of Pavement first of all. I have to say that was always what I found most attractive about that band. Wry, twisted but beautiful imagery wedded to cool melodies that date beyond that band to the records of Felt and the splended Flying Nun roster of the Eighties.
But Chopper never bother themselves with the clever clever qualities that I always and still struggle with when listening to Pavement and particularly Malkmus. This is not a boastful record. It has a quiet confidence and sense of direction. Each song sounds better than the last, if you believe that to be possible.
Kiwi Jr. has a second trump to play. The songs that don't remind me of Pavement remind me of The Strokes instead and what a splendid new dawn it felt for me hearing the sound of The Modern Age at the turn of the century. The realisation thet New York CBGB's guitars were back, good and proper.
Chopper is a triumph pure and simple. It does nothing particularly new but also shows that you don't always have to in order to achieve something deeply thrilling.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,127 Dorris Henderson
Here's a curiousity. A young blackwoman on the Sixties British Folk circuit. American Dorris Henderson has a fabulous voice with sass, swing and emotional timbre. She has the best backing you could wish for in John Renbourn Splendid stuff.
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Cass McCombs - Heartmind
Cass McCombs remains an artist who determinedly maps his own road. This is aways rare but particularly in the field of singer songwriting, where so much has gone before and so much is happening at any particular point in time.
So musicians can and generally do remind you of others. Bob Dylan most notably in this line of work. But also Van Morrison, Elton John, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Elliott Smith, Kate Bush or Joni Mitchell.
McCombs used to be a bit like Elliot in terms of the way he structured and presented his songs but not really anymore. Now he strikes me as a great journeyman out on the great American highway. He generally reminds me most of all of himself, and the targets and high standards he sets himself.
Latest record Heartmind is another testimony to his genuine and unique talent. Each song is a voyage of discovery that sets off from a different point of departure. There are eight tracks here, each one dabbling in a different musical genre and each one seeming to set itself a different philosophical dilemma for McCombs to explore and attempt to discover solutions for.
Whether this makes for a record that listeners will return to, remains to be seen. McCombs sets the bar high for them too. He's certainly not an easy listening experience. All credit to the man. He clearly has the evident talent to produce something more easily digestable which would reap greater commercial success and critical acclaim. He consistently chooses not to opt for the easy route.
On first listen I'm not sure what I think of this record and what I will think of it by the end of 2022. I can be lazy too and opt for albums that offer up more immediate answers and obvious pleasures. But there's certainly enough here to encourage me to return and discover its charms further. If artists are brave enough to try and explore new paths continually the least we can do is try to follow and appraise them fully. I only hope I grow to love it. McCombs is certainly a man who demands love and respect.
* Signs look good on second listening. I'm establishing its rhythms and suspect this is a keeper.
The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 71 Country Joe & The Fish - Electric Music of The Body & Mind
Song(s) of the Day # 3,126 Early James
Alabama's Early James takes the road paved by Tom Waits on second album on second album Strange Time To Be Alive.. It lutimately sticks too completely to Waits script to truly hold your attention, but I did enjoy listening to a few tracks.
Saturday, August 20, 2022
Tall Dwarfs - Unravelled 1981 - 2002
Ah, Twall Dwarfs. A fifty six track compilation, just out on Merge Records from an obscure New Zealand duo who emerged in the early Eighties and quickly found their spiritual home on Flying Nun with The Clean, The Chills, The Verlaines and many other notables.
A record label and a set of bands that proved to have had far more influence and praise than sales. A scene that genuinely deserves the label seminal. The kind of thing that middle aged music obsessives, well actually middle aged male music obsessives, stand and froth at the mouth to in record shops.
The most interesting thing about listening to Unravelled 1981 - 2002, is not really about the influences that led them to make these extraordinary records but how ahead of their time the band themselves were. The first thing that struck me listening to the first few songs was that this was Neutral Milk Hotel before Neutral Milk Hotel.
Neutral Milk Hotel, that extraordinary cult. The band whose acclaimed masterpiece In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is listed as the 15th greatest album ever made on the Best Ever Albums list. That's one place above Nevermind.
I wonder if Jeff Magnum ever listened to Twall Dwarfs. I could research it but there's no real need. Listening to Unravelled I suspect he did. Never mind indeed. I was never as swept away by In The Aeroplane Over The Sea as countless other indie obscurists have been (I confess of course to being one myself), but I am swept away by this.
Only seven tracks in and I'm already bowled over frankly. True outsider music in every respect. Kiwi heirs to the investigative spirit and bravery of Syd Barrett, Roky Eriksson, Marc Bolan and Alan Vega before them. Already my re-release of the year and it's only August.
The Mountain Goats - Bleed Out
The Mountain Goats remain a rather wonderful proposition. An American Indie institution. They're the Guided by Voices who don't release too many albums. Just enough to allow you to keep up, all the time knowing there's another one coming up the line fairly soon.
They never release the same record although they do keep the faith with some basic grounding principles, Twenty First album Bleed Out adheres to them as if they're the Ten Commandments. Melodic, approachable songs packed with utterly wonderful lyrics that you immediately want to hear again.
They always seem to have a guiding concept for every record. This one focuses itself on the principle of revenge. But in the hands of a songwriter as gifted and as fundamentally empathetic as John Darnielle, always the captain of The Mountain Goats ship, such a pointless emotion is tracked and itemised with wry intelligence and acuity.
I've never heard a Mountain Goats record that I don't like and I very much like this.Set to the sound of guitars that sound like sober Replacements meet restrained Television or non bombastic E Street Band, Darnielle unwraps the basic principles of conspiracy theories and inner rage and make them look both as alluring and also utterly ridiculous and self defeating as they surely are, having an enormous amount of fun along the way.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,125 Oneida
The sound of massed guitars. Brooklyn's Oneida's latest album Success, kicks off as if it wants to be The Wedding Present and that means The Velvet Underground and What Goes On particularly. Then they scuzz it up, Sonic Youth come into play. Opener Beat Me to the Punch is a great start to my weekend.
From there they go early Seventies. Stoner. There are the kind of sounds that might appeal to fans of Oh Sees who I notice are back with a new record as Thee Oh Sees which I'll need to give a listen. Not all of Success is a success for me. But they happily plough their dystopic furrow.
Friday, August 19, 2022
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 524 John Betjeman
Song(s) of the Day # 3,124 Tim Bernandes
I get the feeling I've been neglecting this blog lately. Time to make amends. I've been working hard. Maybe I'll have time over the weekend or in a week when I'll get some holiday at last.
This is as good a way to start as any. An album that I've listened through to for the first time with increasing delight and admiration and I'm now playing again.
It's Mil Coisas Invisiveis by Brazilian Tim Bernandes and boy is it Brazilian. Most obviously in being entirely wedded to the great Brazilian musical past and most obviouly superlative legends such as Caetano Veloso and Tom Ze.
This album is one that swoons on a regular basis. Bernandes has an aparently constantly relaxed and laid back voice. He has a right to it. He damned well knows exactly what he's doing.
Occasionally he resembles a Jeff Buckley who's finally found peace and isn't in perpetual anguish at the loss of his father. By that I mean it's good and he rarely feels the need to show off about it.
This is a record that rewards you with proper jewels, all the way through it's fifteen track running span. It's the second Brazilian album to utterly enthrall me following Sessa's smashing Estrela Acesa a few months back.
This one is landing high in my rundown of favourite albums starting soon. It's just fabulous and I recommend it highly.
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 523 Kiwi Jr.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,122 Violet French & The Horrible
Last week I spent some time with Australian band The Triffids, one of my favourites, due to a Facebook immersion with a group I belong to. I fell in love with their full blooded critical engagement with all of the fundamental struggles of life. What a band they were.
Then yesterday afternoon I chanced upon Violent French & The Horrible's self titled debut five track EP and was struck by many of the same admurable qualities. That life is a full blooded struggle that we must pledge allegiance to.
Robust and meaty tunes. Folk driven but with rock going right the way through it. A passionate and rugged female lead. Like The Triffids, Violent French & The Horrible hail from down under, in this case Christchurch, New Zealand, and like them they fight the good fight. Truly wonderful stuff. I can't wait to hear more from them.