“Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your very reason to be alive are tied up in memory.” Nick Cave
Friday, September 30, 2022
Covers # 200 Jeffrey Lewis
Albums of the Year # 86 A.R.Wilson - Old Gold
Thursday, September 29, 2022
Albums of the Year # 87 Built to Spill - When The Wind Forgets Your Name
I love it when wizened veteran, stalwart bands like Built To Spill return to the fray. It's a reminder of what this all about. Not necessarily about the fame or glory, though I guess that's part of it too, but most of all about people who started all this a while back, but still want to continue to tell their story.
This lot formed in Boise, Idaho in 1992 and are still trudging down the road. They're mostly Doug Martsch these days. Their line up has varied consistently over the years and now he changes the people he plays with for every record to keep things fresh.
When The Wind Forgets Your Name, their ninth album, out on Sub Pop records, is one consistently mighyt record. A product of small town America. A place where the geeks congregate in the record shop for a chat about Beat Happening, then proceed to the comic shop, with a possible stop over at the Dungeons & Dragons store.
This is as good a description as I can give the record. It's about obsessions you pick up in childhood which last a lifetime. It's full of beautifully crafted Pop / Rock songs with guitar solos that sound vaguely medieval and sung by Martsch in that dweebie, indie style favoured by the likes of Wayne Coyne, Jad Fair and Dean Wareham that tell you immediately where you are, what this is, and also instantly re-assures you, if you are a constituent of this stuff that you will enjoy this, so you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 19 Siouxsie & the Banshees
The book winds down in slightly muted fashion. Msic gets slightly more ragged with No Wave with Lydia Lunch, James Chance and the arrival of the British bands. Duncan and his partner gets invited back to Siouxsie and his partners hotel room but turns down the offer. The book ends with Lennon being shot and Duncan's first show and sale. Altogether a remarkable document of remarkable times. Highly recommended indeed.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,165 Tamino
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Albums of the Year # 88 Tess Parks - And Those Who Were Seen Dancing
Tess Parks has been around for a while and she's always had Alan McGee's firm seal of approval right from the off. No wonder really. New album And Those Who Were Seen Dancing will immediately remind you of things that might you remind you of him.
The Sixties firstly. Tess comes across as a slightly underfed IT girl. A groovy chick, Penelope Tree, Twiggy. Jean Shrimpton. That type. Wearing a cool monochromatic outfit in a cool London night club and about to be photographed by David Bailey. You catch my drift?
Then Creation Records. First track Wow sounds pretty much like the Primal's Loaded with Hope Sandoval droning over it. This is a pretty identikit record really, but those who dig its reference points will surely dig this too. Excuse my 'Hippy' speak.
I certainly dig its reference points. For those who like to pretend they're back in the Nineties, pretending they were back in the Sixties. A record that certainly does what it says on the tin.
Perhaps I'm being slightly flippant and unkind. It's a high listenable album that I'll put on my list of 2022 favourites. In the lower reaches perhaps but I can certainly endorse it.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 18 The Clash
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Albums of the Year # 89 Weird Nightmare - Weird Nightmare
Side project for METZ leader Alex Edkins, it seems de rigeur for everyone in leftfield bands to have a couple of these going these days. Weird Nightmare's debut is a true blast of fresh air.
Though I like METZ, thery're a bit relentless for me. This is much more to my taste. Sheets of guitar layer sweet pop pills the way JAMC, Nirvana, Husker Du and Mission of Burma used to do it back in the day.
There's plenty to enjoy here and plenty of reminders of Pop's more outre guitar past,.stand out track Luistania takes remarkable liberties with The Who's The Kids are Alright,but I'm not complaining.
Edkins has enough nous and love for what he's doing to vary the volume and intensity of attack, and turn down the speed and give things the light and shade you'd expect from an outstanding album. That's just what this is. I was really thrilled.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 17 Blondie
Song(s) of the Day # 3,163 Peter Matthew Bauer
Half an hour in the company of former Walkmen bassist and organist Peter Matthew Bauer's latest record Flowers. Time well spent. An utterly charming record.
Monday, September 26, 2022
Albums of the Year # 90 TRAAMS - personal best
Chichester's finest, TRAAMS, return with their third album, Personal Best, their first for seven years. Hardly new territory, this is music rooted mostly in the misty Post Punk and vaguely Gothy Eighties. I was reminded early of Killing Joke, Sisters of Mercy and Loop.
This is ominous, vaguely industrial music. Not exactly overflowing with humour, more intent on dark atmosphere. This isn't really the kind of sound I'm hunting down in my fifties, but as someone who spent plenty of time listening to Cure, Simple Minds and Joy Division albums in my teens while reading European novels, I was more than happy to spend forty five minutes with it.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 16 The Heartbreakers
Dunc hangs with Corso, Malanga and makes an art film with Amos Poe. The violent edge of Manhattan is always evident particularly in an incident where he gets chased across town by a jealous Queen.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,162 Baseball Gregg
An Italo-American Indie duo who sung in those cute, homely voices tat make me think of Dean Wareham and Juno, mom and cookies.
Their album is full of warming, empathetic moments. Not perhaps one to fill your horizon but could carve out a happy hour in your day.
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Covers # 199 Courtney Barnett
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 536 Bobby Ramone
Albums of the Year # 91 Faye - You're Better
I was hooked by this, a few tracks in. You're Better, the debut album from Charlotte, North Carolina band Faye, cherry picks the best of female fronted American independent bands of the last thirty five years and come up with a proper peach pure and simple.
I was reminded of early Throwing Muses, Sleater Kinney and Riot Girl in general. Clever, inventive rhythms, insidious melodies that make you want to play the record again to discover just how insidious they are.
I got impatient with the ads on Spotify during this one. Always a good sign. This has gone straight on my albums of the year playlist. I suspect it will feature rather high. That countdown will actually commence in a few short weeks.
Faye come from a place that you'll be familiar with if you like the stuff I've listen above. But they rake it to a place you'll be more than happy with. This is just an absolutely terrific record.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 15 Talking Heads
Duncan hangs out with Hockney, who gives him advice, kindly, about his own art. Then with Warhol, who he takes to see the 'new' band, Talking Heads at CBGB's which hooks them up.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,161 Nikki Lane
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Albums of the Year - # 92 Anand Wilder - I Don't Know My Words
It's fairly commonplace to recognise band or artists reference points relatively quickly these days. A guitar band that has listened a lot to Pavement. Another that is in thrall to bands in the C-86 movement. He singer or songwriter who clearly venerates Nilsson.
Anand Wilder is not quite one of those. He owes a debt vocally to Marc Bolan's tender quiver. He has something of Donavan's hippy lovechild about him. I was sometimes reminded of Elliott Smith or Fairport Convention.
All of these inspirations make Wilder's latest album I Don't Know My Words, altogether the kind of thing Wes Anderton might listen to when he gets home. There's definitely a whimsy to all of this. A preciousness. But also poetic, rich and florid quality to Wilder's songwriting and delivery that's really quite rare nowadays.
Wilder has a rich track record. He was lead singer for Yeasayer, who were active for more than a decade before going their separate ways in 2019. I don't know their records but was aware their reputation was considerable and I Don't Know My Words, his first record since then, will definitely inspire me to investigate further.
It's a beguiling and intriguing record. Definitely owing a debt to the late Sixties and the artists I've mentioned but with plenty of bohemian and poetic fire of its own, in its own loins. Highly recommended.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 14 Bryan Ferry
Song(s) of the Day # 3,160 The Chesterfields
In the quite music wonderful film High Fidelity, which nails so much of the obsessive and generally male disposition of lifelong obsessives, the pitiless Rock jester in the film, Jack Black character comes in to hear his colleagues, Rock romantic John Cusack and Rock Dweeb, Todd Luiso enjoying the new Belle & Sebastian record. Naturally he doesn't put up with this state of affairs for long blasting out Walking On Sunshine.
This might be me in an alternative life and this morning I'd be enjoying The Chesterfield's New Modern Homes. It's a truly wonderful record. The Chesterfields first came together in 1984 and came to greater prominence by 1986 as part of the same year's C-86 movement. They inhabited a particular wing of it, the melodic old school side of that scene, notably by the likes of The Loft, The June Brides and The Wedding Present. They perhaps didn't get the attention they deserved first time round.
I hope they get a bit of notice with this one, because it's a wonderful one altogether. Lively, tuneful songs with fabulous lyrics, hit singles in an alternative universe, which values The Velvet Underground and The Smiths more highly than X-Factor. It's an album just made for people who went to All Tomorrow's Parties and listen to 6 Music evening sessions from Mark Riley and Gideon Coe.
The Chesterfields rock in that cool, slightly straitlaced Indie manner. They pick up the baton from the lighter end of The Velvets, the second MC-5 record and early Television and transcribe it to Yeovil where they hail from. They released three albums first time round, all worth hearing and this is a glorious comeback.
Friday, September 23, 2022
Songs About People # 1,357 Margaret Calvert
A wonderful song from the quite wonderful new Chesterfields album, which I'll review in full tomorrow. About Margaret Calvert the typographer and graphic designer who produced many of Britain's street signs.
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 535 Blue Oyster Cult
Albums of the Year - # 93 Dendrons - 5-3-8
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 13 John Cale
The blissful, non-stop hedonism continues. Hanging with 'the cool four hundred' at CBGB's. Duncan adding Hockney, Amanda Lear and almost France Bacon to his 'been there, done that' list. His incredible good looks no doubt helps enormously.
Song(s) of the Day # 3,159 Sinaive
French quartet Siniave achieve the Indie brittle sensitivity to perfectlion on second EP Super 45 T.. So weak, in the way that John Cale described Jonathan Richman, that they seem they might be about to snap.
There are four songs here, all splendidly reminiscent of the golden, classic Rock & Roll lineage, whether it be Suicide or The Pastels, or Gainsbourg and Bardot, they make a very good argument for French being every much as evocative language for this stuff as English is. Perhaps even better..
The kind of record it would be an absolute joy to discover when you were Sixteen. Sounds pretty great at fifty six.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Albums of the Year - # 94 Peaness - Full of Worry
Among the big Indie hitters that landed albums yesterday, and there were a lot of really big hitters, including Arcade Fire, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Warpaint, that were on first listen slightly underwhelming to my ears, this one was slightly overlooked generally.
I'm talking about World Full of Worry the debut album from Chester female Indie trio Peaness. They're the kind of outfit that 6 Music evening DJ Marc Riley adores and his recommendation is generally enough for me.
The record is fresh as you'd expect. Melodic and vaguely leftfield, with little ambition above delighting crowds naturally drawn to this kind of lightweight froth. Think Girl Ray. Think The Orielles.
Think back further to the likes of Dolly Mixtures, The Raincoats, Girls at Our Best. British independent music has quite noble traditions. Peaness will not change your world but they might make you smile and certainly seeing them live.
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 12 Robert Wyatt
Song of the Day # 3,158 Mimi Roman
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Songs Heard on the Radio # 426 Wild Billy Childish & CTMF
Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 535 Hall & Oates
Albums of the Year - # 95 Saba - Few Good Things
20th Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies: Duncan Hannah # 11 Patti Smith
Song(s) of the Day # 3,157 CMAT
Those young people. They are good for some things. I'm grateful to my friend Molly, who's one of those, who put me onto this, a couple of days ago.
'This' is CMAT, another young woman. One from Dublin called Ciara Mary Alice Thompson which she's shortened conveniently. Her debut album, 'If My Wife New I'd Be Dead.' which I unaccountably missed when first released in the Spring.
The title takes liberties with spelling. The record meanwhile takes liberties with Country & Western, but you'll forgive it when you hear it. It's the best Country & Western meets Pop music record I've heard in some time, but then, you don't really hear so many of those.
Ciara says that she wants to make music that sounds like 'The Nolans, making that record with Glen Campbell which would go on to be covered by Paris Hilton.'
A laudable ambition and 'If My Wife...' makes an excellent stab at it. It has a beautiful, self-defacing wit and melodic charm that made me very happy. It's like Wet Leg with a better sense of humour and much better songs.
Occasionally it runs the risk of getting slightly samey, but generally it's a definite thumbs up from me. I've also seen that she's playing a small venue in my hometown next April. The same place where I saw wonderful gigs with Courtney Barnett and Aldous Harding in previous years. Will try to get tickets today. Thanks Molly!
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
The Orchids - Dreaming Kind
The return of The Orchids is one of the more surprising musical moments of 2022. Formed in Penilee, Glasgow in 1985, their music is incredibly rooted in a time and place, though I'm constantly amazed by just how many people are still in thrall to that sound and how many young bands around who have no other motivation but to ape and recreate it, down to the last, tiny detail.
The Orchids time was the late Eighties and their place Sarah Records. They were one of Sarah's flag-bearing bands and their sound, the sound of guitars jangling and seventeen year old hearts, falling in love and inevitably being broken.
Dreaming Kind evidences no musical development or growth of any kind from the band. Any such shift would be unnecessary and actually slightly rude. Bands like The Orchids aren't supposed to grow. Or change for that matter.
Thankfully they don't do either. Like The Bluebells, they're still Young at Heart. It's still 1987. It might as well be 1963 frankly. This is hardly a million miles from Summer Holiday after all. Nice boys with cool quiffs, white shirts and pressed jeans, singing clean cut songs that mums and dads wouldn't mind their kids listening to for a moment.
Albums of the Year - # 96 Thee Sacred Souls - 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.