Tuesday, October 31, 2023

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 22 Sugar


             Sugar and Boo Radley's join the feast. Creation is a bona fide critical and commercial hit.

Ir Starts With a Birthstone - Albums for October


It Starts With a Birthstone - Songs For October


Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 455 New Order - Technique


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 126 Radiohead - Amnesiac


The Top 50 Greatest Landfill Indie Songs of All Time - # 46 Les Incompetents


Another song it's difficult to make a case for. Again, highly indebted to Arctic Monkeys.



Has anybody checked out the latest Duran Duran record? It's called DANSE MACABRE. For some reason that's in capitals. I imagine articles are seriously being posted somewhere debating whether it's a 'return to form' or not. I won't detain you with that discussion. Well perhaps I will. It's not. 

Anyway. I've just listened to it. All the way through. So you don't have to. All fifty minutes of it. Not because I was expecting to gasp, 'Oh Double D, They've proved me wrong. Simon is a poet and John, Nick and Roger have still got it. I must go back and investigate those early records again.' I listened to it just to see what I thought really. I had some time to kill.

 I've never cared for Duran Duran. Why would I. They don't align with me and who I am and they never realy have or will. I realise I might be coming across as snotty and judgmental here. They were like the really outgoing and attractive and self-confident guy in the class you never got to know and who never gave the slightest indication that they wanted to know you either.

In 1982, when I first started paying attention to these things, I was drawn in by Echo & the Bunnymen and Simple Minds and not Simon and the Taylor's pouts, My younger sister liked them. 

They just weren't there for me. They were interested in James Bond and Cosmopolitan, I was interested in Kafka, Camus and going to Eastern Europe. The only reason they'd have gone to Eastern Europe would have been to scoff caviar and champagne in party hotels, bed the pretty KGB agent and save the day in some crappy video featuring them all in a preposterous scenario that took someone twenty minutes to put together. 

Anyhow they soon moved on to aspiration, suits and yachts, glossy models and the like. They had some decent singles, they were not untalented. Sometimes they we're very good. Listen to Hungry Like The Wolf, Save a Prayer and The Chauffeur for evidence. But I wasn't really interested in clothes horses, found their interview patter pretty vacuous, sensed they were at heart Tories and went to their source, Roxy Music instead.to further my musical education, I was never tempted to buy a record at any point.

From Rio I stopped listening to their music apart from singles you couldn't really help but hear whether you wanted to hear them or not. If you wanted to have a conversation based on whether Duran Duran were any good you really woudn't need to listen to any record apart from Rio. Everything they've done since has pretty much been a variation on their first two albums. 

DANSE MACABRE, (and I'm sorry I can't see the point of the capitals, it's just a cry for attention), sounds more like a list of tracks than a coherent statement. An album. It sounds like it's been assembled from Duran Duran spare parts. Almost all of them dating back to their earlest days - 1980 to 1983.

There are some ludicrous lyrics; LOVE VOUDOU stands out. 'When I first met you on the roof. You caught me in your web of youth. But now I know the wicked truth..It's much too late for fighting.' I imagine these are sentiments we can all empathise with.

Duran Duran, more than anything are a glossy photo shoot. Girls on Film. They're about making the initial flirtation you had with that sexy girl who was actually interested, last a lifetime. They still look very good. They know their job.

Listening through to the whole of the record became a bit of a chore though, They're not actually trying very hard. But then I won't be listening to new Bunnymen or Simple Minds records if and when they come out either. In the final analysis it's a Duran Duran record. They're in their Sixties now but they're not letting on. Good luck to them.

* Oh and they finish off with atrocious covers of The Specials Ghost Town The Stones Paint it Black and several more which are utterly devoid of style, grace or dignity. Performed and recorded for  reasons known only to themselves. Not with any evident regard or respect for te originals anyhow. Here they become like your dad. Dancing at a wedding reception. They're a band that should stop doing cover versions. They've never been good at it, 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,546 Partial Traces


When in need of something to listen to you might choose a quintet from Boston that 'evoke The Jesus & Mary Chain and Beach House' according to their bio.

Having read this I gave their latest album Stay Dreaming a spin. It never once reminded me of The Jesus & Mary Chain. Beach House at a push. But more Arcade Fire. And particularly their Springsteen fixation. 

That senasation that every song might be their last and life was essentially just one breathless rush to get beyond the city limits before the cops track us down and drag us back to drab perpetuity. 

They're good at what they do, though essentially they feel like a support band and I've just described what they set out to do in pretty much every song. Partial Traces spiritual home is the early Eighties and singles from Pat Benetar and Kim Wilde making life just that little more dramatic and black and white than it ever actually is. 

Still that's showbiz. Thanks Darren Jones for another nudge. I did actually switch to Beach House's magnificent Bloom before Stay Dreaming got 2 thirds of the way through. Sure enough there was a resemblance. But no real comparison this time round.

Songs of the Year # 58 Devendra Banhardt


Albums of the Year # 58 Silver Biplanes - A Moment in the Sun


Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon. Would you? I bet you would. Well you can't. I don't have a beautiful balloon. I don't like heights.

But if you would anyway, the nearest musical approximation of that would currently be Silver Biplanes new album A Moment in the Sun. Rarely has an album been better named. It's fab. A pure drop of sunshine in the middle of summer.

At the core of Silver Biplanes spell are husband and wife team Vanessa and Tim Vas. Tim was bassist of fondly remembered C-86 band The Razorcuts. They took their name from a Buzzcocks line, 'Until the razor cuts...' What a cool thing to do.

They also featured New Zealander David Swift who also wrote for The NME at a time when that actually meant something. If that were not enough, early line ups featured the fabulously named Pete Momtchilloff who went on to play for not just Tallulah Gosh but Heavenly too. All our Indie yesterdays. Tweeness admittedly but also a love and grasp of exquisite melody.

But never mind our wimpy past, let's live for today. Silver Biplanes are more that enough for the time being. This is a classy record indeed. Blue sky thinking, utopianism at its best. A picnic in the countryside with family or friends. Up up and away they go.

What do you get. Easy listening. Strummed guitars. Pentangle, Stereolab, Silver Apples, Fairport with Judy Dyble before Sandy turned up, United States of America. Psychedelia, Kosmische, Folk and Indiepop. What's not to like.

Monday, October 30, 2023

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 21 Ride


The Top 50 Greatest Landfill Indie Songs of All Time - # 47 The Guillemots


Conforms utterly musically to the musical guidelines of the format. Lyrically, rathet unusual.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 454 Steve Earle - Copperhead Road


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 127 Paul Simon - Graceland


Song(s) of the Day # 3,545 The Serfs


The Serfs are from Cincinnati. I like them already just for coming from there. A city that gave us the Cincinatti Reds, Happy Days and Afghan Whigs. They have a Punk name, their latest album is called Half Eaten By Dogs which is also very Punk and rattles on decidedly Punk rails from opening track Order Imposing Sentence onwards.

Not everything that's called Punk is Punk in my book. It's not a set of rules that's for sure. That's exactly what it's not. The Serfs serve up reminders of '75 to '79, that's for sure. Of Pere Ubu and Suicide on the opening tracks here. But they have an innate undersatnding of what made these bands great, not simply the urge, (which is a great Punk instinct BTW) to simply lift their rifts.

I became increasingly impressed by and immersed in Half Eaten By Dogs as it played on. It's mastery of primitive forms. Its swagger and estranged pallor. The record was so good it made me want to read Please Kill Me, Again!

The Serfs are playing Beachland Ballroom & Tavern  in Cleveland this November. It's the only date I can see in their diaries at the moment. I will see them if they get ever to Newcastle. I hope they do. They are a band with an innate understanding of what makes certain things thrillingly great and an ability to be thrillingly great themselves.

Songs of the Year # 59 Yocto


Albums of the Year # 59 Jessie Ware - That ! Feels Good !


There are some genres I don't particularly write about on here even though I do love them and they're healthily represented in my record collection, Disco and Dance are among them. Are Disco and Dance music two separate things? I leave that to the experts and or pedants.

I also generally leave writing about these strands in music to people who can do so better than me. Much as I love my Chic albums, I couldn't write about why I do and what makes them so good as I can about my crackly R.E.M. records. My university friend Rod is one who I know could.

He introduced me to the wonders of Jessie Ware a couple of days ago and I've been listening to her latest record That ! Feels Good! ever since. I really should know all about Jessie. She's put out lots of highly successful records and won lots of prizes. But given that I spend a fair percentage of my waking hours hunting down Indie bands in checked shirts, some of this stuff is bound to pass me by. At least for a while.

All I can say in my defence is that I'm glad I've caught up now. That ! Feels Good!  itemises the joys of time spent on the dancefloor losing your shit and winding yourself up into a hypnotic state while those around you lose themselves too and Donna, Morricone, Nile, Sylvester and Earth, Wind & Fire provide the soundtrack.

Jesse, a Clapham girl, has been doing this for a decade and is pushing 40, not that this matters a jot. Her music is strictly old school in terms of seeking the exact same thrill as Disco Inferno, but that's irrelevant too. It's a craving that doesn't date/ This is for the moments in life  that The Cutter just won't do. It should be remembered that The Bunnymen would regularly feature an extended snippet of James Brown's Sex Machine in their live sets too. They knew. Thanks Rod. Wonderful stuff.. Just a shame you didn't teach me how to dance back in our college days.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 20 Teenage Fanclub

                                                       Teenage Fanclub turn up to save the day.

Album Reviews # 114 Elliott Smith - Either / Or


I very much appreciate my younger sister Alison. Well she's my sister of course and I love her. My first memory of all I'd maintain, is of her. Going to the hospital with my dad, in his Mercedes. We were in Salisbury, Rhodesia, now Harare, Zimbabwe. It was probably June 1969, as she'd been born at the end of May. We were going to pick her and my mother up from the hospital.

My mother came out holding Alison in a blanket and sat in the front seat of the car. It's a detail I remember as it's not something that anyone would do now. Surely. You'd sit in the back. I remember Alison's hair as impossibly blond. Beautiful. It was probably a moment of rude awakening for me. That I was no longer about to get quite so much of a mother's attention that I'd thrived on and which had nourished me. I was three and a half years old.

But I appreciate Alison for many other things. We share certain sensibilities and cultural tastes and enjoy talking about them and why we like things so much and what they mean to us. Musically we've shared some things. My favourite concert going experience of all. R.E.M. at the peak of their powers in Autumn '85. My first term at University. Playing at the Hammersmith Palais to support Fables of the Reconstruction. A Cramps gig in the same academic year.

But also listening experiences. Hearing Nick Drake's voice and songs for the first time. In my brother's flat in North London. Then, in the early Nineties Big Star. Shortly afterwards too when she played me Elliott Smith for the first time. We were in her flat at the time. Above the famed Maid of Honour Tea Rooms. In Kew. Opposite Kew Gardens.

It was probably not the happiest period of either of our lives. We both had things to contest. But Elliott certainly spoke to me immediately as he continues to do so. Almost thirty years later. I go through Smth phases and play his songs repeatedly for a few days once in a while. Every year of so. I try not to dwell to much on his evident pain and focus on his talent, which I'd say is considerable. And his joy. Which is considerable too.

I'm focusing in Either / Or here which is considered by many to be his masterpiece, though I don't like to get emboiled in conversations like that. Smith's talent is evident in almost every record he made. But this is certainly a special album. It's his coming out ceremony if you like. The one where he announces his talent to the world. When he put it out in 1997.

Either / Or contains twelve songs. Thet're all brief and unembroidered. Mostly acoustic guitar, Smith's voice and minimal backings. Special, poetic lyrics all of which can be readily heard. Songs about love, pain, joy, grief, anger and violence. Often directed inwards. He's an artist for passive aggressives. I'm more than likely one of those myself. I think many of us are.

I love Smith as an artist because he can do many things incredibly well within the passage of individual songs. He knows how to flick the switch in the way that great poets like Sylvia Plath or great writers like Graham Greene can. To take you with him as he explores the human psyche and all it's capable of. What we do to ourselves. And to each other.

 He has a poet and writer's gift. but a songwriter's gift too which adds a whole other dimension of emotion and poignancy to the experience of listening to his records. Most of all he has an eye for detail which is almost unparalled. He's in a field all of his own for me. Which is all any artist can hope to be.

This might sound like an odd things to say as there are immediate parallels which spring to mind when you consider his personality and work. He bends at the knee of two musical artists most obviously; The Beatles and Big Star. He scoops the joy from The Beatles and the sadness and self pity from Big Star. The talent and songwriting craft from both. Then he makes their songs his own.

Smith emerged in a decade which was full of sadness, slightly paranoid and often overly obsessive on internalised pain. He's often compared to a couple of musical artists who didn't make it either. In life anyhow. Though they certainly did as artists, Kurt Cobain and Jeff Buckley. I like Cobain and Buckley and enjoy and appreciate the music of both. But I'm not here to write about either of them. They both share similarities with Smith but they're both quite different too.

While writing this piece I've had Either / Or playing on my headphones on repeat. It's a record you can do this with. It doesn't get boring. I love the way these songs rise and fall, twist and turn. Paint pictures with a photographer's eye, a great film director's flair. Smith could easily have worked across artistic forms.

I won't go into the songs in detail. Hey, the record's good. Listen to it yourself. It's a great album and it keeps giving. Twenty five years or more on.

The Top 50 Greatest Landfill Indie Songs of All Time - # 48 Little Man Tate


This is probably precisely why bands and tunes which were bracketed as Indie Landfill were so reviled. At the time and since. Just watch the promo. It makes youth seem like a bad thing. Only fit for the mindless consumption that Cigarettes & Alcohol more than any other song seemed to usher in and which British music is still yet to fully recover from.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 453 My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 128 Elliott Smith - Either / Or


Albums of the Year # 60 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.

Songs of the Year # 60 Those Unfortunates


The song I like most from Welcome to Woodberry Down . The title track. Which delightfully reminded me of a cross between Trumpton Riots, Half Man Half Biscuit, June Brides and The Wolfhounds. I was back in 1986.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,544 Those Unfortunates


Those Unfotunates are a fourpiece from London who delightfully are 'harder than they sound' according to their Bandcamp page. That wouldn't be difficult, giving their latest record Welcome to Woodberry Down the briefest listen.

The fact that they don't look hard is much to my liking anyhow. I don't particularly like bands that try and come across as tough. I prefer the sound of the bruised but coming up smiling regardless position. Boys with thorns in their sides. This record takes this approach to facing setbacks with determination and the intention to keep getting back up even if you're just going to get hit again about it.

I'd like to see Those Unfortunates live. In the upstairs room at The Cumberland Arms, the best venue in Newcastle to see bands like these. I imagine their banter between songs would be excellent.

They're on hte Gare Du Nord record label which is another excellent reason to like and cherish them.  Gare Du Nord. despite its French name is a refuge for everything old fashioned and eccentrically British and independent. Those Unfortunates belong on the label, and this is a fine little record. 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Spring Grain Museli


Peter Paphides, Robert Forster and Spring Grain muesli. Oh, and an acoustic guitar. My favourite image of the week. 

Songs of the Year # 61 Teenage Fanclub


The Mountain Goats - Jenny From Thebes


There are certain bands who readily associate with the adjective prolific. Meaning in this context that they put out a lot of product and generally tour extensively to promote that product. Australians King Gizzard & the Lizzard Wizzard come most readily to my mind in this respect. They put out another album yesterday. Fancy that. I'm not quite sure I can face listening to it. I'm sure it's good. But frankly they wear me out those boys. 

Then of course there are Guided by Voices from Dayton Ohio. I do tend to listen to their records when they come dowm the pike, pretty much every six months or so since the year dot. They generally sound pretty similar. Like Guded by Voices records. But I always like those. I always like them. They're really good.

So onto Claremont, California's Mountain Goats. Jenny From Thebes is their twenty second album in almost thirty years and they show no signs of letting up any time soon. Jenny From Thebes sounds every inch a Mountain Goats record straight from the off. Wry, informed slightly geeky but essentially melodic, easy going and wise.In some ways you might struggle to differentiate it from their other records unless you're a signed up obsessive fan.

This band generally choose an underlying theme to the albums they release. This apparently is 'a rock opera about a woman called Jenny.' Oh! The Mountain Goats are sufficiently easy going and comfortable in their skins to allow you, the listener, to superimpose your own interpretation on the songs here. So go ahead and do so.

I won't bother with my own interpretation here. Except to say that the Goats often come across as Seventies AOR radio fare as much as they do midle of the road, middle aged Indie. That's all fine by me and this is another solid and nuanced record to add to their tottering pile.

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 19 Swervedriver


The Creation roster expands. Slowdive, Tennage Fanclub, Telescopes St Etienne, Swevedriver and Moonshke. And Sreamadelica comes out.

Songs About People # 1,375 Catherine Day


Mention of unjustifiably forgotten or else slightly derided late Creation Records signing Arnold in today's Song of the Day posts led me to listen to their 1998 album Hillside yesterday. It's decent. The band were named after the bassist's dog not the Floyd song Arnold Layne as you might easily suppose.  Here's a song from Hillside which takes the name of Catherine Day, the former Secretary General of the European Commission.

The Top 50 Greatest Landfill Indie Songs of All Time - # 49 The Rifles


'Rather you than me...' The words of Darren Jones yesterday when he saw I was embarked on this foolhardy endeavour. He's probably right. Much of this stuff was unmemorable, utterly generic and directionless. Like this for example. Oh well. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 452 Keith Richards - Talk Is Cheap


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 129 Genesis - Selling England By The Pound


Albums of the Year # 61 Yves Tumor - Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume (or Simply Hot Between World).


'Yves Tumor shifts, alters and plays with the boundaries of contemporary art and culture.' That's as maybe. So many young Pop Stars seem to be packaged as if they're the golden progeny of the gods. Prince meets Bowie. On a rainy night in Broadway. But does the product live up to the lofty description? In this case partly.

Tumor was actually born Sean Bowie in Knoxville, Tennessee.. Uses they/them and he/him pronouns and cuts and appropriately gender fluid figure on latest album are you ready; 'Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume (or Simply Hot Between World). 

It's all appropriately gender and species fluid. Slightly easier than to admire than warm to on occasion, it's nevertheless a record you're advised to listen to if you've ever been inclined to the whole Pop Star as Alien schtick and lets face it, you'd be missing out on much of the allure of this artform if it had no appeal to you at all.

Tumor's is certainly a star to follow given how he shifts shape with such astonishing alactrity on Praise a Lord. You sometimes get the feeling that you're getting a high powered fashion collection coming down the catwalk  at you in Milan. Apprropiate as he's currently based in Turin. Having flitted between Miami, Leipzig, LA and Berlin like some travelling circus in recent years.

Anyhow, I was intrigued enough to make a note once the record had run its course. File between Santigold and Nilufer Yanya. Certainly one to keep an eye on.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,543 Dusk


EarlyThursday evening, I was at a loose end. I'd had a slightly stressful day with one thing and another and was looking to unwind. I chanced upon Grass Pastures, from what I can gather, the third album from Lake Winnebago sextet Dusk and realised almost immediately that I had found what I was looking for.

Grass Pastures, is a record to unwind to. So long as you like melodic guitar records that hark back to The Byrds and Buffalo Springfild and evoke the Great American road. For that's what this does for the course of it's nine songs and forty minutes and two second run.

It's good time music in every sense of the word and Dusk are pretty much good ole boys and one good ole woman. Though just judging by their photos they strike me as liberal types. They sound like the kind of band that Alan McGee would have signed up for Creation or Poptones. Cosmic Rough Riders or Arnold. In the quite mistaken belief that they would hit the charts. Or not caring anyhow because he'd had the sense to sign up Oasis as soon as he saw them.

Most of all Grass Pastures sounds like Teenage Fanclub. Teenage Fanclub were from Glasgow but alwats sounded like they wished they were from California or were heading their as fast as they could. It's nice to see once again how what goes around comes aroun. A postcard with kisses from Lake Winnebago to The Highlands.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Shabazz Palaces - Robed In Rareness


One of the most treasured objects in my record collection is Digable Planets fabulous debut Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time & Space). I bought it when it came out in 1993 and every now and then it comes out and I play it to remind me of the person I was then and the person I am now and all the time that's been between.

Ishmael Reginald Butler one of the main operators behind Digable Planets has grown from a cool young colt on the jazzy hip hop scene to a cool robed Sun Ra type figure in middle age and sporting a very neat Pharoah type beard.

These days he seems to spend a lot of time getting photographed in the desert looking deep, publicising the activity of Shabazz Palaces the chariot he currently rides.

The latest record from Shabazz Palaces, Robed In Rareness is another example (if another is really needed at this advanced stage), of why he remains suuch a notable player on whichever scene you might claim to mention.

I imagine Butler would prefer to claim that he operates beyond categories. and he certainly does so here. There are elments of Hip Hop, Jazz and Beat. There always have been in his work. Regardless if how you wish to describe it his is 'FAR OUT' In the best possible way.

The Top 50 Greatest Landfill Indie Songs of All Time - # 50 - Peter & The Pirates


Another series. Why not? Chriistmas is coming,This one inspired by my review of Bobamy Bicycle's new record yesterday. I didn't like it much. But it made me think of Indie Landfill. Perhaps the most reviled period in British Indie history. A time when I pretty much stopped listening to new music coincidentally or otherwise. Somewhere between 2000 and 2010. Pale white guitar bands. Here's a rundown from Vice.com, We trust there will be something worth listening to here. 

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 18 My Bloody Valentine


My Bloody Valentine continue their experimants in sound while Ride and Primal Scream hit the actual charts.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 451 Mary Margaret O'Hara - Miss America


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 130 Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes


Songs of the Year # 62 The Humble Cheaters


Albums of the Year # 62 Shana Cleveland - Manzanita


There have been any number of wonderful new records this year, defined by a  sense of place. John Cale's splendid Mercy, and his rich Welshness. Yo La Tengo's distinct New York-ness. Lonnrie Holley and the American South. Now this. Shania Cleveland's second solo outing,.Manzanita.

Cleveland is also the singer and nominal leader of La Luz. They're great, but personally I prefer her own records. 2019's remarkable Night of the Worm Moon. And now, just yesterday it's successor, and on first play, at least its equal.

The place it speaks of and captures, is the hills of California. The California of Love's Arthur Lee and Forever Changes. The California of Joanna Newsom and Allah-Allah's. Of The Paisley Underground. Of coyotes and Charlie Manson. Of Laurel Canyon.

Cleveland clearly understands these hills intimately and instinctively. And Manzanita takes you there. Surely more than any record you'll hear this year. It's baroque. Gothic Folk. Lush and seductive, but also vaguely threatening.

Most of all though, after listening through to this, what you're left with is an appreciation of what a great songwriter and performer Cleveland is. And a desire to listen to the whole thing all over again.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,542 The Humble Cheaters


Advice for young bands setting out on the Rock & Roll Highway. Number One; get yourself a good name. You want folk to sit up and pay attention. The Humble Cheaters will more than do. They're from Upstate New York and they've been doing this, (or at least been putting out records) for a while. Since 2016 by Spotify's reckoning. Anyhow they know what they're doing.

Number 2. Sound like a band. Listen to latest record Holy Smokes and it's immediately evident that this band do Everything sounds like an in joke between them. But an easy going and laidback one where they don't need to overplay things and don't labour the punchline. This is old school Rock & Roll and The Humble Cheaters play their own tune. If they have mentors they'd probably be Wilco. Let's face it, you coul hardly choose better ones.

Number 3. Say what you need to and leave. Holy Smokes has nine songs and clocks in at just short of twenty five minutes. Assessed on its own terms it's pretty much perfect though it's also a modest beast and woud be the first to own up that it has plenty of flaws. I immediately want to play it again and wil do pretty soon.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 17 Primal Scream


Ride rise. My Bloody Valentine continue to gestate during the making of Loveless. Loaded changes things. And not just for Primal Scream.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 450 Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 131 The National - High Violet


Songs of the Year # 63 Tapir!


Tapir!, a young London band who I saw and was incredibly impressed by, supporting The Goldren Dregs at The Cluny early this year are planning to release their debut album earlt next. Judging by this it should be one to mark in diaries.

Albums of the Year # 63 The Lost Days - In The Store


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.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,541 Bombay Bicycle Club


For a number of years from about 2005 to 2013, (when I started this blog), I all but took my eyes and ears off new music. I'm not quite sure why this was. I think partially because I didn't think there was much going on that I was missing out on. 

A consequence of this extended dislocation on my part was there were a number of artists I 'missed out on'. The prime years of artists I do adore such as Sufjan Stevens and  Joanna Newsom. The rise of The National, a band I've never really learned to appreciate fully because I didn't experience their key years. Same goes for Modest Mouse. Much as I can appreciate individual songs or albums when I hear them, I'll never be fully onboard.  

Then there was the Indie Landfill. That strange period of musical history when a whole area of alternative guitar music was widely castigated and despised. I don't know whether Bombay Bicycle Club qualify for this term but in my mind they do. I missed out on them. Until I listened to their latest album My Big Day.

Firstly it's not bad. It has hummable tunes and vaguely danceable rhythms. Danceable if you attend the kind of venues where they play Hot Chip next. Secondly it has an awful cover with a picture of Peter Kay on the sleeve with fried eggs where his eyes should be. Thirdly it has guest slots. A number of them. From the likes of Damon Albarn, Nilufer Yanyer and Chaka Khan for goodness sake. That's Chaka Khan!

The record is bubbly and bouncy and clearly by a band of their age and stripe. It's a bit bland really. In the way that a lot of records that came out during the period when BBC were in their pomp were bland.. I remain to be convinced that I was entirely wrong between 2005 and 2013.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Fall


My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 16 Ride


Different Creation related bands at different points of their career arc. Weather Prophets and Felt wake up, smell the coffee, and fold. Primal Scream take lots of drugs on their journey from their second album to their third. My Bloody Valentine are nowhere to be seen as they begin the lengthy recording process for what eventually becomes Loveless. House of Love get overtaken and made pretty much obsolete by the rise of Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Meanwie McGee discovers the very young Ride. Is bowled over and signs them up immediately.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 449 The Go Betweens - 16 Lovers Lane


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 132 Gorillaz - Demon Days


Songs of the Year # 64 Tramhaus


'Rotterdam's worst kept secret'. as they're tagged. Boy I need to go to Rotterdam. That city has such a scene.

Steph Green - Lore


At the beginning of last year I chanced upon the loveliest record, at the time you need it most. In January. The cover depicted a spellbound and very young and very pretty brunette trapped in the light of the camera lensi n front of an arresting backdrop of pink balloon wallpaper.

It was Thanks For That by Steph Green and I liked it. A lot. It was full of lovelorn and wide eyed tales of the Old South and The Old West narrated from New Orleans where the artist was based. 

They were songs with an intense and impressive grip and understanding of the past. Audrey Hepburn's Lula Mae reborn and set loose in a briar patch, with only her acoustic guitar for company.

Steph's back now with her second album Lore. It's great to see promise realised to the degree it is here. Lore is  short and sweet. Eight songs clocking in at just short of half an hour. Not a dud among them.

Recorded at home on a 16 track reel to reel, this is an album that uderstands old fashioned values and old fashoined recipes. It serves them up just as you remember them. 

True romance, Songwriting gift and no little flair. Hope Sandoval would doubtless approve as Steph has a similar mysterious wonder in terms of everything she sets out to accomplish. A pearl.

Albums of the Year # 64 Lewsberg - Out & About


Some records you know you're going to love even before you start listening to them. Such was the case with me yesterday, Rotterdam's Velvet Underground Lewsburg, and their latest record Out & About.

Like all great leftfield guitar bands, VU, Go Betweens, Modern Lovers, Wire, Delgados come immediately to mind, Lewsberg operate between the lines, on the margins. 'Between thought and expression. Lies a lifetime.' Velvet Underground Some Kinda Love.

Lewsberg know this, and write a fascinating new chapter in this school of Rock & Roll theory here. This is a record of reflection, thought and poetry which takes its time for those who favour breton tops, slacks, french cigarettes and occasional shades. Erm... me for starters.

A whole cardboard box of my record collection is dedicated to this louche, artistic way of seeing the world, so this gets an immediate thumbs up from me. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,540 Jane Remover


Jane Remover is the latest American musician to discover the effects and distortion pedals that gave My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins and their folowers such a thrill in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

Jane's second album Census Designer pulls out all the Shoegaze stops and remains somewhat preciously elusive for the duration of its ten track hour long duration.

The reverb and waves of feedback, the effects on the vocals got a bit vexatious for me by the halfway stage. This is an accomplished record and will get plenty of takers and column inches.

I decided I wasn't  a huge fan myself though. I felt the record lacked heart and variety and opted for formula when light and shade might have paid greater dividends.and brought me back for another play.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Primal Scream - Reverberations (Travelling in Time)


A collection of early Primal Scream session and studio tracks to try to answer one of the essential Indie conundrums. Why was their debut album Sonic Flower Groove so utterly flat and disposable when the earliest incarnation of that band was definitely a proposition, despite sporting the weakest sound ever to grace the dank stages of the Indie circuit. 

I didn't buy Sonic Flower Groove when it was released, despite being of a natural disposition to do so. I was an Indie kid essentially and did purchase the debut albums from The Mighty Lemon Drops and The Weather Prophets at round about the same time. Similar propositions.

I think I sensed the record wasn't up to scratch and saw the band playing in Hampton Wick with my sister at the time of its release. They really weren't much good despite clearly believing they were God's Chelsea Booted Gifts in their own heads. My sister and I saw them prancing around the venue like actual stars before the gig with Alan McGee and the rest of the Creation entourage. 

They were not the nicest people Gillespie ot McGee, and their self regard that evening was hugely palpable and at this point misjudged. They talked the talk but the band could not walk the walk, as they proved later in the evning, at least at this point of their gestation. They wanted to achieve and maintain a paradox. To project the '67 magic of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Love while also embodying the poise of Joy Division, the defiance of The Pop Group and the menace of the Velvets and the Altamont Stones. It wasn't going to happen as much as they wanted it  to. They weren't good enough musicians yet.They were still fans first and foremost. It would take them until 1990 and Screamadelica to realise their vision properly and on vinyl and as a live proposition.

 Reverberations is worthy of release. These versions of their early set lists are far closer to their early fragile sweetness than Sonic Flower Groove was for sure. What do you get ? Gillespie flouncing around in a flowery or polkadotted blouse and singing out of tune, (deliberately or otherwise, it isn't always clear). Jim Beattie deciding whether he wants to be Roger McGuinn, Johnny Echols or Keith Richard in his head on any particular number. The rest of the band trying to fight their way out of a paper bag. And faliing generally. But failing fairly nobly. The spirit was mire than illing. The flesh was sumply weak. They were insect royalty.

I like Reverberations. But then I always loved The Byrds, Love, Buffalo Springfield and the Nuggets bands. It's a sizable and important part of my record collection. It's nice to see Primal Scream come to terms with their early brittle wonder ,,, and failure. And want to have it out there in the marketplace, Plenty will enjoy this record. For some it remains their favourite version of the band. I mught be in that faction.

My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize # 15 Stone Roses


Stone Roses and Madchester commence their rise. With a song that sounds incredibly like Primal Scream's Velocity Girl.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 448 Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums # 133 Queens of the Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf


Song(s) of the Day # 3,539 Mouse

 Where I discuss the latest album by Australian band Mouse as well as my personal feelings about rodents.

'I hate those mieces to pieces.' I genuinely do. I'm no good with rodents at all. I suppose the same goes for most people but I'm definitely pretty useless where rodents are concerned, though I did have a hamster I was very fond of when I was about 12. Genghis he was called if you're taking notes though personally I doubt that very much and franky I'd be a bit concerned about you if you were.

But the sight of a mouse or rat seriously unnerves me and can easily shake my day off its moorings. Yesterday afternoon I was doing my laundry in the communal building across the courtyard where I live. I thought I'd take a shortcut across the alleyway where the bins are to the door.

A dead rat was in my path. I almost trod on it. Hardly a ferocious specimen. Not fully grown. Some might have though it cute. Certainly nothing to strike terror into anyone as it had clearly breathed its last. Still I turned on my heels sharply and the rat was on my mind for the rest of the day. I'm just like that. I imagine many would empathise and wish I'd never brought up the subject in the first place..

I have no problems with bands that choose names that are rodent related you'll be pleased to hear. It would be slightly odd if I did, name to choose. Modest Mouse always struck me as an odd choice. What exactly is one of those anyhow. I never really got my head around the band and their considerable popularity either. I have a lot of time for Rotterdam's Rats on Rafts. Just the band mind. The reality would be truly ghastly.

Anyway, 'get on with it' I hear you cry. We're not here to listen to your personal hang ups. What is Australians Mouse latest record Under The Light of the Air Conditioner like then? 

Well it's a lot like a Sonic Youth record seeing as you ask. The Youth are clearly Mouse's guiding inspiration and that's obvious fairly early on on the record.Within the first three minutes of opening track Yosemite. Good as much of this is, you never shake the impression, 'this sounds just like...' Sonic Youth's great and enduring achievement was to maintain a brittle, high wire balancing act between melody, dissonancem attitude and noise. There's an awful lot of the same sensation here.

For eleven tracks and almost forty five minutes here Mouse pay tribute to and embellish the Sonic Youth Experience. Despite some of the incredible intense joy achieved here, I'd say ultimately they're a little too in thrall to Thurston, Kim, Lee and Steve to break fully at any point into their own territory which is what you wih for any band really. But they have a great time trying and I did listening to them try just now..

* Thanks once more Darren Jones for directing me here..Enjoyed this too although I felt it needed to escape the SY shadow.