Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Evangenitals

I have mentioned The Evangenitals in passing a number of times and feel it is time to give them a post of their own. Maybe highlight a few songs that you need to hear.

As mentioned I saw The Evangenitals a couple of years ago at The Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, the very first thing that struck me prior to them playing a not was the size of the kick drum, man it was huge. The drum kit itself looked like an oversized novelty kit that you might see a miniature monkey playing or sat on top of a novelty alarm clock.

The band themselves were the antithesis of the other two bands on the bill, Von Stone and Trainwreck, but by the same token Evangenitals were as “Californian” as the other two, but very much a different place.

The set was pretty breathtaking from what I recall, they were tight, melodic, welcoming and performed like seasoned professionals and it was a formality that I would buy the album and so off to the merch stand I walked and bought their debut We are The Evangenitals.

Now you know as debuts go its disjointed, it doesn’t sound like a single album, it sounds more like a compilation, a mix CD of some of their songs, that’s not to say it isn’t good, it is VERY good, its an excellent CD that you should get now from CD Baby, my point it that it is a pretty diverse album, the juxtaposition between something forlorn and unrelenting like Beautiful Boy and something dirty, nasty and hillbilly like Gasoline on the one hand makes the album so great but on the other doesn’t give you a complete sense of the band.

Beautiful Boy - The Evangenitals

Gasoline - The Evangenitals

The thread that does hold them altogether are the voices of Lisa Dee and Juli Crockett, Crockett being a former boxer that could quite literally kick your ass. So even if you don’t get the musical differences, in effect alt-country, you get the glue the voices create. Oddly the worst song on this album is not one of theirs and when I say worst, it’s a fault picking worst.

Hey Yah - The Evangenitals

Shortly after I bought this album they released Everlovin’ the follow up and a beautiful follow at that, still sticking with the roots that they had started to sprout on the debut but more accomplished, more realistic and just better.

Sun is Shining - The Evangenitals

Better than its predecessor and better than anything else for my money than anything that turned up in 2007. Plaintive is a way of describing the songs, you wonder what the stories are behind each lyric, be it Mahi Mahi or Fuck em all. The clues are probably there in the lyrics, who knows?

Fuck em all - The Evangenitals

So as The Evangenitals head into the future the past two years has seen the band line up change, Evangina, the Lisa and Juli side project put some more material out, go on a one second film tour that saw them try and get on Oprah under the name The Love Punks, Juli take up the role of June Carter Cash in a Johnny Cash tribute band called Cash’d out and hopefully, and this is the more important element, work on the third album. Time will tell on that last one.

Tall Lover Man - Juli Crockett

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Girls?

Do you hate that song, here comes the girls? You know the one, Boots and the sugababes saw a money spinner and covered it. Hold on they never covered it, they interpolated it, seriously it wasn’t a cover, it was an interpolation. I don’t even know what interpolation is!
But here come the girls, except they aren’t girls.

Girls at our best was a Leeds band that came to my attention via a different Leeds band, The Wedding Present. The latter covered the former on their debut album, George Best, well the cassette version. Girls at our best weren’t girls, well not all girls, they did have a girl, but on the whole they were boys and one of them boys was Paul Simon. No, tiny guitarist Paul Simon did not go through a new wave phase, it’s a different Paul Simon, this Paul Simon was in the Radio Stars and brother to Robin Simon of Ultravox and Magazine. This isn’t six degrees of separation though, so lets go back to Girls at our best. Getting nowhere fast is better than 99% of what Guns n Roses tribute act, The Wedding Present recorded, and one of the few songs by them I can listen to, The Wedding Present were masters of the cover, formulaic at times, take song play fast with rattling guitars, but their cover of this song is almost as good as the original and perhaps if it hadn’t been covered I would possibly have never sought it out, which I did as part of a Peel session in 1987.

Getting Nowhere Fast - Girls At Our Best

The Poison Girls were a part girl band that were very much in the anarchist vein, almost like an eighties sitcom parody, Vi Subversa, the girl element produced offspring that were in Rubella Ballet. A friend of mine, Alex played me Rubella Ballet once, he was also the man that introduced me as a pimply youth to The Wedding Present, I found Rubella Ballet to be unlistenable tosh, the Wedding Present less so. The Poison Girls then, not a girl band and not poison. What they did do well is create stupid names for the members like listeners to Terry Wogans programme, Lance’D Boyle, Richard Famous, Cynth Ethics, Bella Donna, Lucy Lastic. I made the last one up, that’s a listener of Wake up to Wogan.
The Poison Girls are described as anarcho punks, but you look at them and you conjure up this image of Dawn French in Girls on Top, I am sure that is not what they were aiming for. I am sure that at one point they protested against Greenham Common.

Persons Unknown - The Poison Girls

One band that I am pretty certain never protested at Greenham Common was Girl. A UK based glam metal band that had a misleading moniker in that they weren’t girls at all. Lead singer in Girl, Phil Lewis went on to take up lead vocals in an incarnation of LA Guns. Now I am not best equipped to pass comment on LA Guns but what little I do know is that like The Sweet, The Drifters and potentially every 60’s group out there, there was 2 versions of LA Guns, for my money and don’t get me wrong, I know very little, but for my money, if it didn’t have Tracii Guns in them, it wasn’t really LA Guns. I am happy to be corrected. But Girl the band, what do we know about them? Well Wikipedia tells me that although Girl were passengers on the NWOBHM bandwagon, their former members have rather impressive CV’s, outside of LA Guns, various members have been in the likes of Def Leppard, London Cowboys, Gillan, Spear of Destiny and Neo the latter contained Paul Simon of Girls at our Best. An hereth end the lesson of 6 degrees of separation.

My Number - Girl

Saturday, 24 January 2009


Years ago, a friend of mine got sent a Jellyfish flexidisc, you know when you sent those little postcards to Leamington Spa to be kept up to date on the latest happenings in the world of Shed Seven, it appears that he must have done this and the people at Leamington Spa thought well if he likes Belouis Some, then he must like Jellyfish, so it came to be randomly one day he got sent a flexidisc, possibly of The King Is Half Undressed, possibly not.

I have a few flexidiscs from over the years, the most notable is adam and the Ants doing a version of YMCA, here is the funny thing though, its called ANTS and the words seem to encourage the listener to dye their hair green and put on a kilt. Its clumsy to say the least but its enjoyable hokum. I think it was free with flexidisc magazine, I can’t recall off hand.

Another flexidisc, and this one perhaps was free with select has Chris Morris of Brasseye fame doing a Pixies pastiche called Motherbanger, the rest of the disc sounds like a precursor to Jamm, or the day today, well a mix of the two. Motherbanger is uncannily accurate and if memory recalls there is also a U2 pastiche. The thinking mans Weird al Yankovic.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

Wiki Danger Jelly Femmes

Amber, who is nearly 5 months old, decided last night that 3.55am was the perfect time to start the new day. She let us know this information by waving her arms around and squeaking. This went on for quite some time and also co-incided with my pain killers wearing off, so I got up to take back-knack pills. Shortly before going to bed I had watched two shows on TV, 'Shameless', which I believe is a Channel 4 show, and Live from Abbey Road (which I shall comment on shortly). Unfortunately they don't give out pills for that. The combination of squeaking, back-knack and bad telly conspired to prevent me from returning to sleep, so I turned to the same place I always seek consolation in the early hours - Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a great place to find out about music. No, it really is. After watching the Abbey Road show I looked up The Feeling, only to discover that they were the most played group on UK radio in 2006. They struck me as Jet-lite, or a poor Jellyfish, and I was astonished to read about their success. Another surprise, for even I have been touched by the annoying 'Craaaaayzeee' of Gnarls Barkley, was how much I enjoyed seeing Gnarls Barkley run through three numbers in the studio. It helped that one of their three was a cover of 'Gone Daddy Gone' by the Violent Femmes, although I liked the other two, too. Wikipedia told me that half of Gnarls Barkley is Danger Mouse, the fella that mixed the Beatles White Album with Jay Z's Black Album, to get The Grey Album. The Helter Skelter/99 Problems mashup is my personal favourite, so here it is, along with Jellyfish, as they were much better that The Feeling.

99 Problems (Danger Mouse)

The King is Half Undressed by Jellyfish

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Boys

Peter has a bag of pennies, as any band with a harmony of more than two parts is compared to the Beach Boys, and somebody somewhere seeks him out and gives him a penny. The same happens when The Alarm are compared to U2, or somebody somewhere confuses Cliff Richard with Elvis Presley.

I am not a liker of The Beach Boys. Other boys should be given as much attention. No, not the Pet Shop Boys and their anthemic albino anemia ridden pop, nor the Backstreet Boys (although the Backstreet Pet Shop Boys would be worth a look simply for rare animals). I'm tempted to put forward The Oakridge Boys, just for William Lee Golden's glorious beard, or possibly Badly Drawn Boy for being able to include the words ipso facto (a certain effect is a direct consequence of the action in question, instead of being brought about by a subsequent action such as the verdict of a tribunal) in a song. The Beastie Boys deserve a special prize simply for still being around 22 years after the release of their first album, although none of them can match The Blind Boys of Alabama., who got together in 1939. Of the founding members, Clarence Fountain still plays when his health allows.
Higher Ground by the Blind Boys of Alabama

Fun, Fun, Fun.

I have been resolutely anti music this year, that should read anti new music. Two bands that have sprung out at me though are Bon Iver who are playing The Breeders curated All Tomorrow’s Party’s and Fleet Foxes who appear to have the album of choice when it comes to best of year ends. I have physically heard neither and potentially that is the way it may stay.

Kev used Beach Boys comparisons when it comes to Fleet Foxes, now if I had a penny for every band that had been compared to The Beach boys, I would have a clichĂ© and a bag of pennies. Its always Beach Boys comparisons isn’t it, never Gidea Park, Gidea Park being The Beach Boys tribute act that have or indeed had a touring Beach Boy in their ranks, not Glen Campbell no, not even close, some other fella that I saw in Gidea Park during my Butlins years upwards of too many times, the same man was in a plethora of other falsetto tribute acts, Frankie Valli being one that I recall but not Aled Jones. I am skirting over his name as I can’t remember it, possibly something Ashton.

But The Beach Boys eh, are they really that influential or is that people equate lush vocals, non traditional rock instruments and harmonies with them? The Beach Boys have produced a lot of albums, and I mean a lot, but realistically that influential period can be boiled down to one or two albums, maybe three at a push.
The Wondermints took that whole influence a little far, they became The Beach Boys for the Smile concerts that Brian Wilson did, The Wondermints were victims of that lazy epithet, and clearly Wilson must have used the old adage that he could throw a sausage out of a window and hit a million bands that sound like the Beach Boys, unfortunately on that day Gidea Park were playing Butlins Minehead and not passing by Wilsons palatial Los Angeles house ducking sausages, unlike the Wondermints.
They say that Jesus and Marychain are influenced by The Beach Boys, similarly The Shins, Apples in Stereo and The Flaming Lips, hell some people have even said The Ramones, I guess Dee Dee did once look at a theremin and that seems to be all that is required to pin that badge on a band.

There needs to be ground rules, specific criteria that a group must meet prior to journalistic carte blanche being applied to an ensemble that says they are influenced by The Beach Boys.

1. One of the band members must have a sand pit.
2. One of the band members must have a large beard.
3. One of the albums must have the sound of a startled cats whining over side two.
4. Babababaaa are allowed, fafafafaa’s not so much
5. One album must be a concept album, preferably about daschunds linked to mans inhumanity to man.
6. At least one member must know what a sloop john b is.
7. Songs must be about girls, cars, surfing and weird shit.

Friday, 2 January 2009

2009 Music from 2006 & 2008

In an attempt to drag myself up to date with current trends and new music (the first thing I listened to in 2009 was Nina Simone's African Mailman), I've jumped in the deep end with this post. I don't know anything about any of these people, but Uncut magazine sung their praises in the end of year lists. As Fergal Sharkey says, a good list is hard to find. I'm so behind the times I'm sure this lot deserve to be in a 2008 review, but, with a readership of 4, I'm prepared for the backlash.

The man in the hat is Bon Iver. After reading many a review that contained words like touching, heartfelt, haunting and authentic, I was a bit taken aback to hear a certain Jimmy Nailesque lilt to his falsetto. Further inspection led me to his appearance on David Letterman, which is a beautiful cross between Richard Thompson and Adam and The Ants Ant Music. When I say him and his I really should be saying them, as Justin Vernon may be the focus, but Bon Iver is the band. The recorded Bon Iver sounds very different from the live output, as there are so many overdubs on the album. Legend has it Vernon recorded it in a remote cabin in Wisconsin, only leaving the cabin to kill animals to eat.

Skinny Love by Bon Iver

Sub Pop's Fleet Foxes are another band who should have featured in The Best of (insert previous year) but seem to have come to the fore in 2008. I'm not due to discover them till about 2015, so it's an added pleasure to be enjoying their harmoious pop now. I suppose the obvious comparisons are The Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills & Nash, although there's a real folky sixties twang to them too. Lord knows why I should write about them when you could just watch the video.

English House by The Fleet Foxes (Live on Conan O'Brien)