Monday, April 15, 2024

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 582 Cut Chemist & DJ Shadow - Brainfreeze


Hit Factories - A Journey Through The Industrial Cities of British Pop # 2 The Beatles


A trip to Beatles leads almost inevitable to a pigrimage around the streets and landmarks of Lennon and mcCartney's contrasting visions and childhoods.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 402 The Replacements - Tim


The Replacements, regardless of how much you love them were always slightly variable in turns of their output. For many this is their go to record. For me it will always be Let It Be because it contains so many of their completely indelible stateents. You could just go with both.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,959 The Beatles - Blue Album


Listening through to the Blue Album was not a chore this morning. I still go through intermittent Beatles phases where I make my way through Rubber Soul, Revolver and Abbey Road. There are some songs I don't care to hear again. Sgt Pepper and I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends come to mind. But there is much else that sounds fresh as daisies every time. Hearing A Day in the Life and All You Need Is Love particularly this time round. They'll never age. 

TBH It's The Beatles. You may prefer The Stones. The Kinks. Soul. Punk. Post Punk. But they're The Beatles. Who are you? I don't mean to be rude. There's nothing more to say really. You may not care for McCartney. Ot Lennon. Say he wasn't a very nice person. For all you might say about Lennon he was always fairly upfront about having issues. Theirs'is one of the almost unfathomable achievements of Twentieth Century Music. I never mind the reminder. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,708 Sam Lee


I'm losing my edge. I missed one.  Folk stalwart Sam Lee's Bernard Butler produced fourth album songdreamer which featured as Mojo's Album of the Month a couple of issues back. 

In fact I've missed this time twice. Sam played the Newcastle Sage about a month back. I planned to go but lost track of the time. Who knows where the time goes. As someone sang once. 

Anyway, songdreamer's a small classic in the great mode.Lee is a fifty three year old wuth a rustic folky voice. In the words of Mojo the record ' melds yoga pants era  Bill Callahan pondering, the twittering rhapsodies of Kate Bush's  Aerial and Incredible String Band cosmic wonder.' 

It does indeed. It's full of reverence for wild places and what they can teach us. It's a record with appreciation for space and time. Folk was not something I really considered listening to when I was young. Now it seems increasingly centre stage in Rock & Roll circles. And Why not? It's about time frankly. Roll over Post Punkers. And tell Ian Curtis the news.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Songs Heard on the Radio # 441 Jessica Pratt


Nice to have Gideon guesting for Cerys again on Sunday mornings.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 581 Paul Westerberg - Suicaine Gratification


I don't know this record. Or didn't until this morning. I listened to it in preference to Match of the Day. Westerberg is a songwriter. And a poet. One of those fuelled by alcohol and dependency to it. Written in his basement in Minneapolis. The glass largely seems half empty. You're never quite sure with this guy. A wonderful set of songs.  

Hit Factories - A Journey Through The Industrial Cities of British Pop # 1 The Hollies

 A journey on the part of the author. The kind of book I like. He takes us to the great Post Industrial cities of Britain using the music each city produced as the common denominator. Starting with Manchester. The birthplace of the Industrail Revolution.What does a city sound like? 

Karl Whitney takes a serious, research formed apprach. In contrast with the likes of Stuart Maconie, who is knowledgeabe but whose central aim is to entertain. Whitney wants to inform just as much. It would be logical to post Joy Division, New Order, Smiths or Buzzcocks ger. I'll go with Graham Goulding instead. One of the great Manachester songsmiths, 

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 403 Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes


I try not to get too engaged with the order of these lists. I'm getting older and am trying to adjust to the fact that these things are just opinions that reflect editorial decision making and commmitee consensus.

It still surprises me that this extraotdinary and pivotal album from my youth ranks in the low four hundreds of this particular exercise. I listened to it at five this morning wondering initially whether it was just too brash and adenoidal for such an early hour. I was gripped. There's no record like it.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,960 Sun Ra - Lanquidity


  The highest ranking Sun Ra record on here. It's Sun Ra. From 1978. It's an hour and a half long. I decided to listen to the whole thing. Sun Ra and his followers and fellow musicuans occupy a special place. They are not from this planet. That is an important basuc principle to set off from. Once you've accepted that basuc premise you'll be fine.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,707 English Teacher


A much hyped Leeds band that have risen quickly through the ranks and are playing the sizeable Boiler Shop venue, close to me soon in support of their debut album This Could Be Texas.

Generally, I'm suspicious of the kind of hype a band like this draw. I haven't been impressed by the likes of Black Midi, and Black Country New Road that have emerged to waves of adulation and rave reviews in recent years..

 There's also the dreaded sobriquet 'Post Punk' which is applied to any young British band that step up onstage with guitars, drum and bass and a trendy haircut these days. It's laziness frankly. Both from the press and also often on part of the bands themselves. It's high time to move on.

But hold on a moment because This Could Be Texas is a deft and sinuous record.It talks eloquently and with genuine craft and warmth about a world where there is an intolerance to difference. The world we live in frankly and does so by being engaged, different and not  resorting to  anger. I was moved and engaged,

It doesn't sound like the bands of my youth. There are no traces of The Fall, Gang of Four or Joy Division.  This is a record you need to listen to again and get to know on its own terms . 

With a singular frontwoman in Lily Fountaine and a deft guitarist in Lewis Whiting they seem immediately as ones to watch. I can't quite work out why this is riding the wave it clearly is right now but it's credit to the band and the audience that are attaching themselves to it that it is. This seems a record to return to and get to know in the coming months and one that will reward this effort.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 11 Sly & The Family Stone


The book tails off. I lost interest. The srory of Sly & The Family is 1965 to 1975 essentially. The rest is not essential. Worth a read mind. I wish the glory years had been investigate in greater depth. Time to post this on to my mate Joe and move on to the next.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 404 Madness - 7


Madness were a Singles Band. No shame in that. It was an incredibly competitive era and they parked themselves in the Top Ten for four years or more.Some feat. And the records were consistently fantastic. Treasure troves.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 580 Mos Def - Black On Both Sides


This felt like a significant Hip Hip release at the time. I wonder whether it remains so, more than 25 years after its release. Mos Def was and remains something of a Rap Rennaissance man. With broader horizons that the usual guns and hoes fare. This remains  and extraordinary record brimming with consciousness.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,961 Foo Fighters - One By One


For me Foo Fighters are really all about the fabulous eponymous first album. The one where Dave Grohl channelled his enormous and overpowering grief at the loss of Kurt and produced a fabulous set of emotive and posutive alt rick / pop songs that I still love to go back to.

For some reason I did buy this one when oy came out in 2002. I was in Katowice, Poland so it probably came from Empik. The store in town for CDs and Music magazines. Where I got Mojo . I listened to quite a bit and it still sounds good. If you need to have monster behemoth's it helps to have good guys like Dave Grohl at the helm. 


Song(s) of the Day # 3,706 Mythical Motors


Once again a Sporify bio that can't be bear in telling you where a fabulous band and wonderful record are coming from. ' Drawing influences from bans such as Guided By Voices, The Clean, Wire, Superchunk, Bevis Frond and the expansive Elephant 6 Collective, the band weaves a wide net of surrealistic lyrical narrative.'

That's where I come from. So I'll be having that. Upside Down World by Mythical Motors is actually a record that lives up to the highest billing. It's a record that skips along like an eight year old in shorts across a sunlit meadow on the first day of Spring.

Out of Chattanooga Tennessee, it couldn't get any better. A child's drawing on the cover. A crayon rendered of a fried egg sun, a spaceship or comet racing across blue heavens. A record that makes you glad to be alive. Fourteen songs. Less than half an hour. It's a rush...


Friday, April 12, 2024

The Reds Pinks & Purples - Unwishing Well


Glen Donaldson, the bearded, wooly hatted middle aged man behing the The Reds Pinks & Purples wheel  is developing some brand. A memory lane experience particularly for those who earned their stripes in the mid to late Eighties and fastened their fortunes to C-86 Indie values.

Those days are long gone, but you wouldn't know it if you keep your eyes on the latest alternative releases and particualrly the San Francisco Indie scene where Donaldson holds court. If you're going to San Francisco. Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. And chelsea boots, and shake a tambourine while you're at it 

The Pastels, Razorcuts and early Primal Scream are alive and well it seems. And they're playing in an indie bar in Frisco. No more Kim Novak. No more Karl Malden. No more Moby Grape. Things have moved thirty years and more back in time. Nostalgia is the new progress.

Meanwhile Reds Pinks & Purples have become a production line. A conveyor belt. Every six months or so another album drops off the line. Pretty similar to the one that came before and the one that's coming up. Wistful melodies, Smiths song titles, jangling guitars, wistful vocals.Perfect for types who think change is overrated. The latest is called Unwishing Well. And it's about dreaming your life away. There are worse things to do. 

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 12 Kwabs - Love + War


The end of this short run.With one of those Modern Soul records that don't do much for me personally. Soaring vocals, pounding drums. This kind of thing does stuff for others but not much for me. After a few minutes I put on Let's Get It On instead.Drifted off. 

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 405 Husker Du - Candy Apple Grey


A powerhouse band. A body of work that could be described as a blast. Hart and Mould. And Norton. The finest moustache in counter culture Rock & Roll. This record finds them becoming slightly more accessible. It came out on WEA. But there was no sell out. They remained themselves.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 579 The Beta Band - The Beta Band EPs


A revelation. There have rarely been anything quite like the 3 first Beta Band EPs. They feed on the inpiration of early Beck more than anything. But largely it's their own thing and they made a wonderful contrast with a lot of the meat and potaties Rock being served up elsewhere at the time.

Songs About People # 1,386 Captain Cook

More from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. This comes from the latest album V. Captain James Cook is a divisive figure. He explored and charted thousands of miles of unexplored territory. In the words of Wikipedia 'He displayed a combination of seamanship, superior surveying and cartographic skills, physical courage and am abilir ro lead men in adverse conditions.' He remains contriversial for his treatment and violent encounters with indigenous peoples. 


Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,962 Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II


Kiwi Ruban Nielsin and a project I'm not familiar with. This goes back to 2013.It's freaky stuff. This makes a genuine and refreshing resolution to explore new Independent teritory. Sometimes it almost defies description. Great record that constantly surprises and strikes off in new directions. 


Song(s) of the Day # 3,705 Winter McQuinn



                                                       'A shady lane. Everybody wants one.'

Do you want a shady lane? Everybody wants one.The shadiest and most alluring lane I can direct you towards right now is Move To The Trees the latest album by Winter McQunn.  

Winter McQuinn ? No me neither. But it's just the kind of nom de guerre you want for a record like this. With a sleeve like the one it has. With an animated image of Mr McQuinn in an autumn sweater. Crouched  under a blanket. A cat on keyboards and a guitar with hands.

Just what the doctor ordered. Another stellar artist from Melbourne, Australia. Another wonderful album to soundtrack your Friday breakfast.

McQuinn has a track record. Formerly in Sunfruits and Jade Imagine. He keeps things simple. These are songs awash with birdsing and dappled  sunlight.

The record itself. Midway between a slightly happier Elliott and some early Seventies troubadour. Take your pick Move To The Trees sprouts peaches. A lovely record.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Songs About People # 1,385 Mata Hari


Marta Del Grandi will play in in Newcastle in a couple of weeks. I suspect I'll need to be there.

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 11 The Invisible - Patience


About grief and loss. Not a million miles from XX. Support from Jessie Ware and Anna Calvi. A little insipid and slinky dancefloor for my tastses but should have some takers.Grows with the play. 

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 578 Travis - The Man Who


        'Every day I wake up and it's Sunday...'

An album that meant a lot to me in 1999 and still does twenty five years later. I don't give a fig what the hipsters say. Although I'm quite aware that I can come across as a full on Hipster Snob in other contexts.Hey, I'm a hypocrite. Sue me...

Travis, and this record in particular did and still do something to me. Well written songs, winsome melodies well-judged lyrics and most of all sincerity. Four friends playing together. Travis had their moment in the sun in 1999. It was the lull before the millenium. I still feel a tug emotionally when I hear Drifwood and Turn. Even Why Does It Always Rain On Me doesn't pall completely. Even though you've hear it so many times. Travis were Belle & Sebastian for the masses. I can't see why this is a bad thing..


500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 406 The Prisoners - In From The Cold


The Prisoners were a Cult taste throughout the Eighties. In their dream still in 1964. That Manfred Man/ Georgie Fame organ sound. Monochrome / Mod clothing and shhades. Probably best experienced in  the flesh than on record.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,963 Primus - Sailing The Seas of Cheese


I didn't go into my Listening  journey with  Primus' Sailing The Seas of Cheese with an entirely open and happy mindset. I saw Zappa mentioned in their Spotify bio and Zappa mostly puts my teeth on edge. Precious. Geeky and generally a stranger to tunes to help the medicine go down. I was told once that I didn't understand music if I didn't like Zappa. I didn't reply. 

Primus are quite good company despite the general worrying initial signals they give off.Wackiness. Metal Funk. When they veer more towards Devo than Mothers of Invention I quite enjoyed some of this. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,704 Wine Lips


Toronto's Wine Lips strike me as an uncomplicated bunch.You know pretty much all you need to know from thirty seconds of their latest album Super Mega Ultra. You're told right from the off that you're on a ride.

The ride proceeds for the next half hour. Twelve songs of full throttle Punk abandon. Black Lips perhaps the mmost pertinent reference point, You feel like you're there with them. Sweaty basement venue. Baseball caps worn at an angle. Stagediving. Vocals that sound ike the lead singer had just had a sharp oyake of breath from a helium tank.

The whole funfair experience that Dictators, Ramones, Pere Ubu and DEVO and the lie kick started in '75. It never gets tired, or old frankly. The pace never lags. Beat on the brat... 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Richard Hell & The Voidoids


Vampire Weekend - Only God Was Above Us

My first listen to the latest Vampire Weekend album Only God Was Above Us, on the Friday it came out was underwhelming to say the least. I know they're a band that produces music that is layered and deserve repeat plays before you make a judgement. But overall I'd say they're a band that has lost something with the departure of key member Rostam Batmanglij in 2016.

There is certainly stuff  on here that's notable and impressive. I always found them an impressive band that could exercise your brain cells and tug on your heartstrings. Cerebral but also emotional in the manner of a great Fitzgerald short story  Ezra Koenig and the other two cannot be discounted.It's a bit of a curate's egg though this one. Some tracks pass by without making an impression while elsewhere things are more interesting and you feel that would warrant and repay further investigation.

So I decided I'd listen to Only God Was Above Us five times before making a judgement. Vampire Weekend are a band that have always dealt with the poignancy of the moment in the passage of the Post Millenial age. Koenig has the writer's eye. He knows his Fitzgerald and his Bellow. I suspect his Cheever, Salinger and his Jay McInerney too.

There is plenty here to divert those who have been prone to the bands well heeled vision previously. I miss Rostam personally. I sispect he's involved here to some degree but I don't think the band are quite what they were in the days of his full engagement, particularly their magisterial and defontive third album Vampires of the City. Ultimately Only God Was Above Us was a little too formulaic for my tastes.

P.S. The more I listen to this, the more I suspect I mght be wrong. It may need fifteen plays..

Still Corners - Dream Talk

Still Corners are an ethereal Folk couple that sertve up reminders of the late Sixties and early Seventies European movie house experience. They've been plying their craft for fifteen years now and work off their own Wrecking Lights Label

Latest album Dream Talk sets out a set of wistful, melodic Folk Pop songs. They touch on cliche occasionally but the record has its moments. I'd give it seven. 

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 10 Crepes - In Cahoots

 Hey. Another band from Melbourne. Just what the world needs. This lot are somewhat MOR and easy going but typically offbeat and quirky outfit, appropriate for the part of the world they hail from. In Cahoots draws from the well of leftfield pop that Courtney Barnett most notably started to draw on ten or more years back.Amother fab set of funfare rides.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 577 The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin


The Flaming Lips pulled themselves together in 1999 and sqieezed out a visionary Psychedelic masterpiece that is not articularly my cup of tea but proved to be many others.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 407 Bauhaus - Mask


I looked at Bauhaus in the early Eighties and decided they were not for me. Like most sixteen and seventeen year olds I had an inner Goth but generally Robert Smith and Siouxsie Sioux satisfied my needs. I haven't changed and didn't last long with Mask this morning. 


Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,964 Roy Harper - Stormcock


An album that reminds me of a friend that is no longer with us but introduced me to Roy Harper on long Friday afternoons in Dortmund back in the Nineties. He loved Harrper and said that Stormcock was the album to listen to. I listened to it again this morning. Long, rambling aetherial Folk songs to listen to as the sun rises or sets.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,703 Medium Build


            'Alaska can kill you. Like there's Wolves and bears in the weather.' Nick Carpenter

Anchorage, Alaska,  I will never make it to Anchorage, Alsaka. I'm not entirely sure I'm missing out entirely It always sounds the slightest bit bleak to me. The thought of Anchorage, Alaska always makes me think of my friend Andy who I met in the first term at university. I'll always think of Andy on the dancefloor of Santana's in Norwich. Thursday night 60s Disco. Almost firty years ago. so You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star or Californi Dreaming playing.

Andy was into Michelle Shocked. 'Anchored down in Anchorage.' It always strucj me as a place at the end of the world where the streets are full of refugees on the run. From other people, possibly from themselves but most of all from themselves.

Country Nick Carpenter's record as Medium Build is heavy with this weight, The heaviness of being alive and conscious with the awreness of it. Sparse, troubled songs. A man with a bad moustache and a tatered shirt, smoking a cogarette. It's always great to find a record that I feels worth writing about. A story worth telling. Something worth sharing.This isn't necessarily the happiest story you'll her. But it's one worth telling.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Songs About People # 1,384 Janet Leigh


The Libertines - All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade


Is the world really waiting for the next Libertines record. I suspect not. They're hardly front page news anymore though they, or at least Pete was for a while. For the record I've always had a fair bit of time for the band. Cheekie chappies.

They were the British response to The Strokes who brought no end of vim, vigour and genuine excitement to my life when they showed up in it at the turn of the century. The Libertines came along a bit later and did a similar thing in a very English way. Doherty and Barat seemed a talented pair and the band had a proper good knees up stirring up London Rock & Roll memories. Down at the old Bull & Bush. La, la, la, la, la.

I was less interested in the tabloid notoriety, (in fact not at all) but always enjoyed the music though I never followed their fortunes that closely. They seem to be having a better time than they've had for a while on All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade their latest as they make their way towards the big Five Oh. . 

It's all good fun and there was plenty that made me prick up my ears and touched me here. Songwriting duties traded between Barat and Doherty with Doherty's generally having the edge as they usually have done. Barat's contributions are hardly shabby by any means mind. Much of the bands appeal was always predicated on the ongoing, you suspect lifelong squabble between the pair. Banter between songs, references to Pop, Film and TV culture awash within them.

I'm not one to place albums within a body of work, particularly when I don't know it all. I imagine devotees will enjoy this greatly. I certainly did and will return. There are several songs here that rank with their best. They don't always look back like too much of Brit Pop did.  They comment on the sad here and now. Listen to Merrie Ol England. You get a neat snippet of White Cliffs of Dover at the close. They remain astute cultural magpies and commentators, picking at the debris  of a nation that may once have been great but hardly makes much of a claim to be so any longer. Strangely they remind me more of Blur than they ever have before here. There's even a quote from This is a Low. 'And the radio plays.' 

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 9 Sunhouse - Crazy on the Weekend


Definitely a record wort hunting down. Sunhouse are best known for being championed by Film Director Shane Meadows and Uncut Magazine. This has a wild, windswept intensity that glows. For a while I just listened to Monkey Dead on a loop in the late 1990s. But there are othe songs here that are good enough to live with it. 

Gavin Clark, Sunhouse's singer and principle  songwriter was a considerable talent. He had alcohol related difficultiesand  gave up music and became a pizza delivery man. The house where Crazy on the Weekend lives is hardly a sunny one. These songs, grounded in Old Folk and Blues are bleak and despairing ones. No less resonant or special for that. 

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 408 Minor Threat - Minor Threat


Urgent, taut and an influential record. Not perhaps what I was looking for at six this morning.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 578 Groove Armada - Vertigo

This kind of slightly faceless dance record never did very much for me. I was never much of a dancer and the culture of the club scene never really appealed to me. I listened to this for a while an then started listening to something else.

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,965 Lingua Ignota - Sinner Get Ready


Kristen Hayer seems to be a very intense young lady. She is now the Reverend Kristin Michael Heyer. She released a whacky record under that name last year. I'm afraid she strikes me as slightly unhinged , though her music is rarely dull. Whenever I am in need of a seance fit to raise the dead I turn to her. This isn't really that often these days.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,702 Mount Kimbie


An upturned car in the ditch at the side of a road. An arresting sleeve image I thought. The record attached to it is equally arresting. Mount Kimbie's The Sunset Violent  comes across as an Arthouse Noir Murder Mystery best experienced without knowing a thing about it in advance.

Dominic Maker and Kai Campos first record together since 2017 This is an album that defies easy labels. Pitchfork chuck any number of them within the opening two paragraphs of its review; Post-Dub, Post-Punk, Techno, Lo-Fi, Shoegaze and Post-Rock. Why not just call it original, because that's what this certainly is. 

The Pitchfork reviewer gets more and confused the longer he writes. He ends up giving the record 6.8, I thought in frustration at his inability to pigeonhole and contain it. Typical Pitchfork I'd say. I think he sells the album short with his grade and his review.

It's an album which plots its own course and is a facinating ride as a consequence. Put your headphines on and enjoy the record. I wouldn't have thought it will be an experience you'll understand. Much like a stroll round an oddball art unstallation at your local Contemporary Art Gallery. That's not so say you won't find it a rewarding and memorable experience. I certainly did.  

Monday, April 8, 2024

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 8 Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular


From a woman who made, with Graham Coxon one of my favourite records of last year with The Waeve  This is instantly another fantastic album. From 2017. A kind of Electro Gothic Folk. Something else frankly. 

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 409 Lyle Lovett - Pontiac


Lyle Lovett probably became best known as Julia Roberts other half. This does him a slight disservice, Hes a considerable droll C & W artist in his own right. You imght as well start from here.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 577 Moby - Play


Became a huge thing down the years. Largely due to the familiarity of it. As virtually every track here was licenced out to a different ad, The whole thing was awash with samples too leading some to question Moby's credibility. Particualrly given his Punk roots. There's been an remains a lot of discussion about exactly what Punk is. Probably you could make an argument that his approach is actually very Punk indeed. The album irself sounds great.I've never listened to it before. 

Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,966 Dire Straits - Communique


Dire Straits is and will always be to me one thing for me essentially. A long running and highly repetitive back and forth with my olderst and dearest friend. He liked them in his youth. I did not. I still don't really. I listened to this just now and didn't mind. If there's a Dire Straits for me it's the early incarnation.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,701 Einsturzende Neubauten


I've become an enormous Germanophile of late. The last month and a bit to be precise. Though I suspect I always have been at heart. Big changes in my life and I've decided I like changes. They're good for me. I've broken away from the icy grip of 'the man' and am considering myself as semi-retired from now on. I'm intent on enjoying my life from this point. That's what it's there for anyhow isn't it? 

So instead of dragging myself into an unhappy office, I've been teaching German business people online. Digging into the culture again, brushing up my German, learning about the way of and attitudes to life. I think there's much to embrace, relish and admire. So we come to the new Einsturzende Neubauten record. Rampen (apm; alien pop music).

It's a perfect soundtrack for this moment for me and encapsulates everything I've always loved about teutonic culture with a wry restraint that resists the maniacal self destruct button. Blixa Bargeld and his boys have matured nicely over the years. Still in black, no longer so intent on raising messy hell and waking the neighbours. But the Faustian pact was made many moons ago and they remain bound by the same prnciples. This is a disquieting but nuanced listen. Perfect for my Monday morning as I wait for my online workshop with young Leipzig bankers.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 7 Aillhbe Reddy - Endless Affairs


Not an artist I've heard of and an album from last year I missed.  Aillhbe Reddy hails from Galway and has a blazing voice that occsopnally cuts loose from its moorings and reminds you of Sinead O'C. High praise indeed. This is her record and there's a great deal going on. It's a daring and exciting record. Seek out. 

Phosphorescent - Revelator


Oh I give up. I really do! there is simply too much great music coming out just now. We're at the beginning of April and I already have 70 great albums for my end of year countdown. I've reviewed most of the albums I've liked, though it becomes more of a struggle to keep up,  and might set off on here with my 200 albums for the year in a couple of months.

I have no fears that there will be at least 200 albums that I like or love this year. Last Friday was a great new release day and there were at least seven or eight albums released which will make my end of year list. I start with the best known releases. Then make my way down to the more obscure. There are probably some genres I favour more than others. I am Indie, essentially. That is my disposition. As a person and as a music listener. I try to be as broad as I can. I'm pleased to see my blog is getting a lot of hits thee days.Onwards and upwards.

To Phosphorescent, an artist I will always associate with one of my best friends Rod. I went to univesrsity with Rod and we roomed next to one another in our first year and attended the same school, English at American Studies at UEA Norwich. I like to think we got lucky. I realised afterwards that this was probably the best University to attend and study Literature in the UK at the time and remained so for a quite a while after we both left. Oxbridge had a fossilised approach at the time. I learned so much in five years there and am still feeding on what I learned and the friendships I formed. The memories I made. 

I lost touch with Rod for over twenty years. The details don't matter. The important thing is we reconnected and have renewed our friendship on a constant basis for the last fifteen years. Through Rod, I've reconnected with someother  fundamental friends I made at UEA. The stuff of life.

Rod turned me onto Matthew Houck, the myseterious artist behind Phosphorescent about 2013 with the release of Muchacho which I'd still say is his go to record. He has precedents as an artist. I always think of Van Morrison for some reason. Bon Iver. He's essentially an artist who takes you 'Into the Mystic'. Latest record .Revelator, his first for  eight and my reeckoning his eighth in all finds him mining the rich mineshaft of glod he first started working on about twenty years back. 

Houck is somebody who makes similar records I'd say but that doesn't really matter. It's like friendships. You don't expect people to change, there was a reason you got on in the first place. But you hope you'll all grow. And prosper. It generally happens. Revelator is another magical record. Devotees will not be disappointed.

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 410 Kate Bush - The Sensual World


Hey, I love Kate. I'd say she is one of the essential artists and gave a gift to humanity that is quite indescribable and precious. I don't know all of her records. but whenever I check into her back catalogue I'm charmed by her beauty, craft and vision. Her unique qualities.

Such was the case just now listening to this. The Sesnual World came out in 1989. I wasn't really listening to Kate Bush. I listen to this now and ahould have done. She's one for the ages.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 576 Ben Folds Five - The Unauthorised Biography of Reinhold Messner


This is something I love about music. The strands you've neglected and not explored. Ben Folds Five are a case in point. I've never listened to a whole record until now. I have a Sunday morning free. The wind is rattling on my windows outside  like it is the actual end of the world. I have time.

A record of theirs from 1999. I associate Ben Folds with a winding classical piano style and an emotive vocal style. It's initially a bit mewling for my tastes. I persevere. It's Billy Joel's quirky Indie nephew fresh from his Mozart lessons. . It has its moments. It makes me think of Scooter from The Muppets. It will never be quite my thing but I can understand why it appeals to others.There's some lovely stuff here.


Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,967 Mastodon - Blood Mountain


A slight chill ran through my veins as I saw this on the run down in my list. Surely I wouldn't be able to get very far through an album called Blood Mountain by a band called Mastidim. Such proved to be the case. I did get through a song. It is Heavy Rock Metal. The track I got through was called The Wolf is Loose.

Song(s) of the Day # 3,700 Elbow - AUDIO VERTIGO


'Memories. Like the corners of my mind. Misty watercolours memories. Of the way we were.' Memories have always been important to me. In the words of Nick Cave at the top of this page 'Memory is what we are. Your very soul and your reason to be alive are tied up in memory.'

I agree with that. And think that memory becomes more important to us as we get older. As the realisation sets in that we have more road behind us than we do ahead of us. But people make a fundamental mistake about me and say that I dwell on and in the past too much. They're wrong. Fundamentally I'm a teacher and have been since I graduated.That's what I know. What I do.

My only profession really. Discount the manager and trainer bits. they both come from being a teacher which is what I'm best at. As a teacher, and essentially in service to my students first and foremost, I live in the present and plan for the future. I try to apply that approach to every other aspect of my life too. I think it pays dividends.

So, finally, in the fourth paragraph, I  get round to Elbow and their latest album AUDIO VERTIGO. It's their tenth in all. They've made it into double figures after almost thirty years as a band in the studio, the rehearsal room and on the road.  I've always had mixed feelings about this band and their avuncular leader and singer Guy Garvey. He seems to have an indulgent and sentimental tendency. These are not qualities  I tend to in music.

But AUDIO VERTIGO seems to me a return to what is best about both Garvey and his band of players. It avoids indulgence and sentimentality It embraces the kind of Prog I'm most prone to, its daring and risk taking and prunes off the pomposity and obscurity and endless noodly soloing I don't care for.

In short I think it's a great record with some wonderful lyrics and intriguing musical gambits. I don't know where Elbow stand in the scheme of things. Judging by their forthcoming tour they still hold their own and can still command decent venues. They're playing City Hall when they get to Newcastle my home town. The historic venue where Bowie, Roxy and Mott used to hold court back in the day when they were in their prime.

I won't go and see them. I don't have enough of an investment even though I really like the current record. Good luck to them anyhow. I've come round to them again. All power to their collective ....... I say. Taxi !!!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Songs About People # 1,383 Mary Boone


From the new Vanpire Weekend album. Which feels on the first couple of plays to be a retread and recalibration of finer former glories rather than the masterpiece some are crediting it to be. I'll give it a couple more plays and write a fuller review. In the meantime here's a song for art critic Mary Boone. 

Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Again). - Sly Stone - A Memoir # 10 Sly & The Family Stone


I'm skimming the pges at this point. It's hard to care too much about Sly at this point in time because he doesn't seem to care enough about himself enough. He's in an out of rehab. Struggling with management choices. Trying to pay the rent..

The Family Stone get inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. They get inducted by George Clinton. Sly gets lost thinking of what he wants to say. Seiing the rest of the band throws him a curveball. He comes on separately and cuts short his own speech saying everything has been said,

He hears samples of his stuff on Hip Hop records. His influence on this movement is impossible to overstate. Sampling doesn't bother him. He's flattered.. He talks to Ptince about working together. Sly watches the news on his TV. Rodney King. I.J. Simpson. Nine Eleven. He for the most part is a spectator in life,

He goes back to the church. His parents die.There are further reunifications with Family Stone members. Emotional ones.

12 Albums You've Probably Never Heard of, But Really Should (Part 1) # 6 Fraser A. Gorman - Eazy Deasy


In the wake of Courtney Barnett's arrival, in 2013 probably, came a numeber of associated artists. None as great as Courtney in my book, but that woman remains a pretty special one.

 Fraser A. Gorman, the young Dylan look alike who featured as the laidback tennis umpire in the fabulous Avant Gardener video, was definitely worthy of his attention. As with Courtney, humour was a key component of his appeal. 

Any of his early records are worth listening to. He has definite laidback charm. He seems to have gone quiet of late. 

500 Greatest Albums of the 1980s ... Ranked! # 411 INXS - Kick


Having The Triffids, The Go Betweens, The Chills and the rest of Flying Nun in the Eighties I never paid much attention to INXS. While nodding to Michael Hutchence's talent and leather trousered strut I never cared for the actual music. It didn't seem to appreciate poetry enough.

Mojo Collection - The Ultimate Music Companion # 577 Low - Secret Name


Duluth, Minnesota's finest. They play slow music. They have had a spectacular run of records since the ,ate Nineties. Alan Sparhawk spaes and creates with his lifelong partner Mimi Parker. Parker has gone now and her passing seemed a very sad moment. 

If you don't know Low this is as good a place to start as any. In some ways they're truly among the greats. Their records sound best last thing at night or first thing in the morning. They appreciate space and stillness better than almost any band I know. There's spectral beauty here.


Best Ever Albums - 2,000 - 1,001 -1,968 Paul Weller - Wild Wood


A reinvention and a good idea for Weller. A lot don't care for him for one reason or anither. He's grumpy sure, but that can be interpreted as determination as much as anything. And that's a quality to be recognised and respected. I on't care for all of this. Some of it 's a bit stodgy for my taste. Like struggling down a country lane in gumboots. Elsewhwere he shows a lighter touch and comes across as nothing so much as The Woking Nick Drake. 

Song(s) of the Day # 3,699 Mint Mile


Thirty years and a day from the tragic loss of Cobain. American Alternative Music remains in the rudest health. Here's the latest example. I have the latest copy of Uncut to thank me for turning me onto Tim Midyett and his current project Mint Mile.The latest  American Indie semi depressed sensation for me to become semi obsessed about .

Missing David Berman? Well we should all miss David Berman. He was a one off but this may divert your attention for a while.

Songs that alternate between the semi comatose and the vaguely hysterical. Latest album Roughrider runs the gamut of glass half empty literate and informed thinking though I couldn't find an 'I'm actually being sectioned right now' number.

In fact it's a highly relaxed and enjoyable listen. Steel pedal tinged. There's nothing quite as apposite as C&W for a good forty minute all American mope.  If you enjoy those, this is one of the best examples you're likely to hear all year.