Sunday, March 26, 2023

Songs About People # 1,361 Desmond Douglas


Haven't done this one for a year. Desmond Douglas, British table tennis player of the Seventies gets a song. About time too.

Purling Hiss - Drag On Girard


Philadelphia's finest noise merchants, Purling Hiss, are back. That's always a cause for celebration. Churning up and pumping out records that are equal parts rage, bile, strangled melody, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr. and their own sweet selves since 2009. They don't show any sign of slowing down just yet and that's a great thing.

Devised initially as a project for former Birds of Maya guitarist Mike Polizze to express and amuse himself, they've gradually and organically become a quite spectacular mutation all of their own.This is their first new album for six years, but Polizze has certainly been extremely active in the meantime and anyhow, as soon as this starts playing it feels like they've never been away.

Latest album Drag on Girard is no attempt to reinvent their wheel. Thank god. In these ever changing times it's good to have some constants. It's all screeching guitars, early twenties mumbling hits from a bong in some imaginary summit between J. Mascis, Kurt Vile and Grant Hart. In an extremely messy room. What more could you honestly want

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 257 Stevie Wonder - Innervisions


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 333 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu


The Reds, Pinks & Purples - The Town That Cursed Your Name


Modern musical conyeyor belts. They're difficult things to process even for someone who likes listening to new music as much as I do. King Gizzard, Guide by Voices, increasingly it seems Lana Del Ray. If you're after wistful indie, Reds, Pinks & Purples. Why do these people put out so many records, another one apparently appearing up the pike every few months. Couldn't they exercise a little more restraint, some quality control. Give the rest of the musical world a chance. Give the listening world a rest.

As someone who writes a blog like this one, posting something every day, all this activity on the parts of some, hyperactivity some might call it, leads to a dilemma on my part whenever a new King Gizzard, GBV or Lana album shows up. I'm partial to a lesser or greater extent to all of these artists. I just think they put out too much product to allow the listening audience to fully digest and process it all.

Back in the day, (the days when I was growing up), this was quite normal behaviour. Bands were expected to stay on the conveyor belt, and churn out singles every three months, albums twice a year and tour the rest of the time or else risk redundancy. But times have changed and you can't help feeling that artistic behaviour should change along with it.

As far as The Reds, Pinks & Purples are concerned, I'm always pleased when I hear another one of their records. They, (and by 'they' I mean Glen Donaldson, the middle aged San Franciscan who plots their course), map out narratives that I'm particularly prone to. Teenage or twentysomething  rites of passage, rites of heartbreak, relived in middle age, soundtracked by strummed guitars and pained if resigned vocals. The Go-Betweens, The Smiths, The Feelies, Guided By Voices. Them again.

Latest album, The Town That Cursed Your Name,( and what a name for a record that is), does what you'd expect it to. It's the seventh album Donaldson has put out under the Reds, Pinks & Purples moniker on Slumberland Records since 2018. Now that is ridiculously, ridiculously prolific.

It's a very good record of its sort. Some absolutely masterful lyrics that describe a certain ennui that owes everything to early Morrissey and The Smiths. Whether it's the Reds, Pinks & Purples record you need, I'll leave that to others. It's literary, melodic investigation of the behaviour of the human heart. A series of finely wrought short stories set to song. That will never go out of fashion.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,341 Caroline Rose


One of those artists, (Billy Nomates and Arlo Parks also come to mind), who put out a significant record, just as the world was closing down in 2021. In American songwriter Caroline Roses' case a brilliant New Pop record called Superstar ,(her fourth), which operated somewhere between the world's of Billy Eilish, Sharon Van Etten, Lorde and St.Vincent.

Rather than licking her wounds, or feeling sorry for herself at the hand fate dealt her, Rose is back with a new record, The Art of Forgetting and if anything it's an even stronger record than Superstar.

This is a record that it's difficult to pigeonhole, if that's what you're looking to do. I was reminded of many of Rose's female contemporaries and antecedents, most pleasingly the whisper of early Kate Bush records.

It's all highly emotive, but also cleverly crafted, First and foremost a Pop Record that explores the full territory that wonderful format provides. I hope it will make Rose a lot more friends. It deserves to.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Lankum - False Lankum


A record I've been waiting with some anticipation since 2022 became 2023 and one that more than lives up to its promise. False Lankum by Lankum a Dublin group who've been operating mostly under the surface of the pop lake previously, though this seems like the moment that they're likely to rise to the surface to greater recognition.

A fine, fine album, though one I don't care for the cover of. This is generally a key factor of my appreciation of LPs but it would be prissy of me to make a major issue of it in this case as this is surely as good a record as I'll hear all year. Which year it actually is, is sometimes somewhat difficult to define as you'll discover when you start listening to it.

Lankum, if you care to label them, are a Contemporary Folk band. That does seem an apt basic description. But they're one who consciously attempt to bypass traditional perceptions of what that label might appear to be. Their records don't conform to easy comparisons with the Seventies Folk revival for instance,  although there are links to be made. With Fairport, John Martyn or Steeleye Span and that set of names. Reference points that make just as much sense have been made down the years with Swans, Sun O))) and My Bloody Valentine.

On False Lankum you get eighty minutes, a proper immersion of medieval intensity. Rehearsed and recorded during Lockdown over an extended period of time in a 220 year old tower which was clearly ideal for their purposes.

This will unmoor you from wherever you find yourself in 2023 and set you adrift somewhere else entirely. It's an act of creativity that lays down a marker, a challenge that few others will be up to this year. Further words would be redundant. It's a rich and rare record.

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 66 Edward Grieg - Cello Sonata in A Minor

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 256 Todd Rundgren - A Wizard, A True Star


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 334 Beck - Sea Change


Song(s) of the Day # 3,340 Sparrow


Before Elaine Paige was Elaine Paige.

Friday, March 24, 2023

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 255 Sly & The Family Stone - Fresh


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 335 My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade


Song(s) of the Day # 3,339 Connections


A record I missed out on in the mad rush of the last few weeks. Columbus, Ohio's Connections have been around for almost fifteen years now years now and exist in a time honoured American tradition. 

It seems that rootless young men, in the days of the Old West would hang around on street corners, eventually tool up and terrorise their neighbourhoods. Now it seems they buy guitars and form bands and decide to do this' til the end of their natural, or at least useful years.

So Collectives exist at the end of a long and notable line. Feelies, Replacements, Guided by Voices, Pavement, Black Lips, Districts. Add your own gang. Latest album Cool Change is tough and ragged and altogether lacking in polish and all the better for that.

There's something quite touching about the way this record pitches its tent and stakes its place within this grand tradition. Something that has been going on since Punk and actually before that, to The Sonics, the Nuggets bands and The Stooges and before that even to The James Gang, Butch Cassidy  and Billy the Kid.  Cool Change is a record entirely lacking in pretension but with a genuine and not inappropriate sense of quiet pride.

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 65 Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 64 Johannes Brahms - Violin Concerto in D Major


What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 9 The Beach Boys


Pet Sounds. And how The Beach Boys became a greater contemporary influence on The Beatles than    Dylan.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 253 Can - Future Days


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 337 Burial - Untrue


Song of the Day # 3,337 Library Card


'I'm unemployed now and sincerely plan to never land another job again...'

It seems there's quite a music scene in Rotterdam, Holland these days. Latest young colts Library Card/s recent single is rich stuff indeed.. Turning the Post Punk trick of Sprechgesang from a ball and chain into a runway for genuine take off and imaginative flight. A tale of teenage / early twenties ennui. A short story in song that might have brought a smile to Salinger's face. One of my favourite musical hings this year thus far.

Surf Friends - Sonic Waves


Auckland, New Zealand buddies Brad Coley, and Peter Westmoreland have a new LP Sonic Waves out now on Flying Nun records that allows the reader to experience the sensation of surfing virtual waves.

Remarkable that this is primarily the sound of a duo as it often feels like a band in full flow. The Clean, Teenage Fanclub, Television Personalities or Ride. Also, occasionally and quite thrillingly Krautrock. The fact that there's a drum machine at work here's a key factor in that illusion.

Really this is as easy, but at the same time whipsmart a formula for independent success and listening pleasure as you could possibly come up with and it couldn't come out on a more appropriate record label. Flying Nun have a track record as good as any record label in music history for this kind of thing.

An album that dragged me into a happy trance. Like I said, a simple but happy recipe but credit to Surf Friends for summoning it up. DIY at its very best and one of the most purely enjoyable records I've heard thus far this year. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 63 Antonin Dvorak - Slavonic Dances


What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 8 The Byrds


What The Byrds heard.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 252 Planxty - Planxty


Song(s) of the Day # 3,336 Dark Horses


Dark Horses are an Alternative Rock group from Brighton who list their influences as The Velvet Underground, PJ Harvey, Can and Gang of Four. That, and their name, a classic one for a band, (given all its connotations), were enough to persuade me to give their third album, While We Were Sleeping a listen at the start of my morning. 

It's a suitably dark record, with plenty of murky depth on show, and all seems rather 'adult' if that's what you're after. Such a term,, probably has as many negative implications as positive ones.

For whatever reason Dark Horses have not been active in terms of releasing records, since their debut in 2013. While We Were Sleeping is their first since the following year and certainly hints at a prolonged, drawn out processes.

Listening to it was a rewarding process, though I'm not entirely sure I'll be inclined to return to it as it's certainly not an easy listening experience, in the way that an hour with PJ rarely is. I would recommend it though, as it's a work a lot of thought and intense effort has been put into ad this has certainly resulted as a set of gifts that require unwrapping..

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 338 Foo Fighters - The Colour & The Shape


Monday, March 20, 2023

Aztec Camera


Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 62 Georges Bizet - Carmen


What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 7 The Beatles


Rubber Soul. The Beatles turning point.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 251 Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 339 U2 - War


Song(s) of the Day # 3,335 Flying Colours


Melbourne band with evident love of all things Ride and My Bloody Valentine . They put this devotion to useful purpose on latest record You Never Knew, with songs that build and build on waves of clashing and chiming guitars and wistful vocalising.

While there's nothing on here that surprises, or even intends to, there's something I found really warming and comforting. Like falling asleep in the back of a car taking you home, with a set of favourite songs on the stereo that remind you of memories from long ago.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 61 Giuseppe Verdi - Messa De Requiem


What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 6 Bob Dylan


Imperial phase.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 250 The Wailers - Catch a Fire


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 340 Bjork - Debut


Song(s) of the Day # 3,334 The Lost Days


Now here's a record that's rather lovely. For its precision. For its melody. For its sincerity. The Lost Days, (and that's a wonderful name for a band in itself) are Sarah Rose Janko and Tony Molina and In The Store is their debut album. It has ten tracks and remarkably lasts 13 minutes and 33 seconds.

Not a moment is wasted. Janko and Molina realise that much of life is about the moment, and you should never stretch the moment out too long or it's liable to snap. That never threatens to happen here.

The Lost Days understand that some of the best moment in Pop Music ever occurred in early Beatles and Byrds songs. They say multitudes in less that fifteen. minutes here. In The Dude's words, 'they're into that brevity thing.' And the world is a richer place for that.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 249 Terry Reid - River


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 341 John Lennon - Imagine


Death & Vanilla -Flicker


There are certain bands, operating in specific areas where I know I'll always enjoy their new record, before I even listen to it. It's like favourite films. However much I've seen them. I'll always enjoy The Last Picture Show, Mildred Pierce, The Third Man or Midnight Cowboy just as much as I did the first time if I wait long enough between viewings.

The same goes for bands and their records. I put my finger on press to play on Flicker the latest from Malmo's finest Death & Vanilla a couple of hours ago, absolutely assured that I had the best part of forty minutes of listening pleasure ahead of me. I wasn't wrong but even so, I had no idea of how good this was going to be.

D&V operate in an area of music and more generally Art, that I love. Film Soundtracks, late night club in a cool club in a cool city with cool company and cool beats. Stereolab, Broadcast, John Barry, Euro-Cool. What could possibly go wrong?

Nothing goes wrong. Death & Vanilla are  possibly more focused on the song than the mood alone then they have been previously here, but I'm not one to complain about that. They're broadening out their sound and canvas for greater appeal.

Several of their career best songs are here, that's for sure. The Swedish Portishead are back, with the hysteria dial toned down for maximum effect. An altogether wonderful record. Their Dummy. As good as that.

Song of the Day # 3,333 Isolde Lasoen


I'm a sucker for the Gallic. Every few songs when I'm at the jukebox in my local I'll fancy some Serge, some Jacques, Francoise or Laetitia. Can't beat it.

So I was always likely to enjoy Oh Dear, the latest album from Isolde Lasoen. It has all of those qualities and characteristics in spades. That je ne sais quoi.

Wonderfully orchestral and cinematic in the manner of Gainsbourg's Initials B.B, it's a record with the characteristics of a sleek sports car, a night on the Left Bank with someone you love.

A nice start to the weekend. The sound of champagne glasses clinking. Altogether, a splendid record. Miraculeuse.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Howard Devoto


Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 59 Richard Wagner - Siegfried Idyll


What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 4 Bob Dylan


The Beatles meet Dylan. And smoke dope. 

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 247 Mahavishnu Orchestra - Bird of Fire


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 343 Grateful Dead - American Beauty


Nude Party - Rides On


Formed in a North Carolina dormitory in 2012,  Nude Party chart the sound of Rock meeting Country between 1965 and '69,  Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Flying Burrito Brothers and Doug Sahm. Good times, nudie suits and that distinctive twang.

Initially sired by Black Lips drummer Oakley Munson, they now establish their own horizons. Latest album Rides On offers memories of a more innocent time when for a year Creedence Clearwater Revival were the biggest and best band of the year.

They'd be a good night out. Rides On offers a good night in. Well crafted, good humoured tunes. The Sixties seem unfeasibly laid back at this remove.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,331 The Hepburns


In old fashioned pubs with a good selection of traditional ales available the length and breadth of the land indie guitar band tour and demonstrate their latest wares to small but appreciative audiences.

None of these bands ever wanted to be on Top of the Pops really. Tour America or be on the cover of Smash Hits. Or even The NME.

They wanted a John Peel Session maybe an Indie hit to be remembered. Then they wanted to get hitched. Settle down like everybody else. Have a normal life like anyone else. 

They've got what they wanted for the most part . Now they're back. Like Llanelli's The Hepburn's. To make slightly wistful,middle aged albums for their devoted fanbase. And make short pub tours to support them.

The Hepburn's are the Welsh Belle & Sebastian, having emerged at a similar point of the Nineties. They lack the B&S scale. The idea that these last school years were so utterly momentous. It's worth remembering that they weren't happy ones for many.

Latest album Only The Hours has some nice, gentle moments without ever threatening to stop the traffic. Not every record needs to. In fact it would be rather exhausting if they even tried. It's a nice way to spend forty minutes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Songs Heard on the Radio # 430 Buster Brown


A fine way to start a radio show. As Gideon Coe did on Monday.

What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 3 The Beatles


The Beatles first two albums. The words changed little except to generate phenomenal excitement. The sound changed everything.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 246 Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon


Song(s) of the Day # 3,330 Best Coast


I started listening to LA duo Best Coast's debut album Crazy For You, from 2010, a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of seeing Go! Team play this last weekend. They're a Rock and Pop obsessive's wet dream.

Drawing largely on early Beach Boys and Girl Groups funneled through the intervening decades and the indie/ record store sensibility that accumulated there.

Set on a beach where the waves always lap on the shore and the sun never sets. Where Sandy and Danny never feel obliged to negotiate or bow to the demands of High School peer approval, and can gambol and frolic in the sand to their heart's content. You probably don't need to own all of Best Coast's albums. But you might want to invest in this one.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 344 The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 58 Johann Strauss II - Tales From The Vienna Woods


What They Heard - How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened to Each Other & Changed Music Forever # 2 The Ronettes


They all get out of the blocks recording wise. The Ronettes Be My Baby, the record that inspires Brian Wilson and that he measures his talent and work by more than any other, comes out.

The Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 245 John Martyn - Solid Air


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 345 The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed


Song(s) of the Day # 3,329 Eyelids


It makes sense that Peter Buck chooses to produce Portland, Oregon's Eyelids. They're steeped in the values of Alternative American Rock. Members have worked with Stephen Malkmus and Guided by Voices.

Latest album A Colossal Waste of Light is first and foremost very well produced. Buck not surprisingly knows his way around a recording studio. I found the album a little too concerned with surfaces for my taste and lacking in depth. But there will be plenty of takers.

Monday, March 13, 2023

The Beatles


Ulrika Spacek - Compact Trauma


Ulrika Spacek are an Alternative English rock band that have been operating under the radar for a number of years. If you want to label them, and labelling and comparisons are generally necessary with music, you might describe what they do as art with discordant guitars. Sonic Youth, Deerhunter, My Bloody Valentine. That kind of thing.

New album Compact Trauma, (surprisingly only their third in all since debuting in 2016), will immediately appeal to anyone remotely prone to this stuff. It starts off as it means to go on with atonal, oddly tuned guitars and abstracted vocals and continues from there in a similar vein. You might find yourself drifting into a trance at some points. I did on first listen but found that I liked the sensation.

They hail from Reading, Berkshire. The jury is out on Reading. Let's face it, the jury is always out on all of us, forever. But Reading more than most places or people that I can think of. Whenever I've been in Reading it's felt most of all like an expression of inexpressible dullness. Sorry Reading residents and fans but it has. 

Now I've lost my chance forever of being granted the keys to Reading I must say it has at least given us  Ulrika Spacek  They are not dull and I can't think of another band operating in the UK currently that do quite what they do. They offer a hint of the strange. The kind of thing that Bowie offered in the early Seventies and Wire did again at the end of that decade. Then Pavement and Radiohead throughout the Nineties.

Most of all this record reminds me of Radiohead. Both bands hail from a similar part of the world and they share a certain ennui. Compact Trauma reminds me how extraordinary The Bends sounded when you first heard it. So alienated and out of time. Waiting for time to catch up with it.

 I can offer no higher compliments. Compact Trauma is another quite excellent record on Ulrika Spacek's own personal conveyor belt of gifts to the universe. Feel free to lift it off the belt and sample it for yourselves.

Perfect Pitch - Tim Bouverie # 57 - Giuseppe Verdi - Don Carlos