Thursday, 30 April 2009


A difficult CD to be subjective about this morning, namely 1 by The Beatles. A CD containing all of their number 1's. I don't know how I got this CD, as it is rather superfluous to my requirements. Its difficult to give an opinion on something that could realistically divide the readership but I am going to be brief about it.
I like The Beatles, I am a fan, currently though and I think its always been the case my favourite albums are post Sgt Pepper. So that all said 7 out of 10, not because the songs are bad, or I didn't enjoy listening to them, but realistically there has to be some perspective and though I really enjoy Day Tripper, I prefer Here Comes The Sun, and Help is a great song but it doesn't compare to Two Of Us. So a low score but not because its bad.

Get Back by The Beatles

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Creepshow, The Asylum, Birmingham

Last night me and my very own 3 foot Elvis, my good lady wife went to see Psychobilly band The Creepshow. They were playing at The Asylum, a new venue to us in Birmingham. If you have stumbled on this entry and just want to know about the venue, its quite nice, pretty good parking, its new but the main room is quite cavernous, much too big a main room for the bands that play there.
So what of the bands? The first support was a local roackabilly band called, according to the posters, Lunavegas. I have to say this all male 4 piece were excellent, they had enough of a punk edge to keep my wife happy and enough rockabilly to keep me happy, with stand up bass in tow and very strong songs they were damned enjoyable and their enthusiasm was pretty infectious, but as swine flu also is I wouldn’t take that with too much weight. They have the obligatory myspace over at and you should really give them a listen, I thought they were excellent.
Following them was the female fronted Dragster, we were both familiar with them thanks to Youtube and I think they bill themselves as psychobilly, but really they were a punk band, and a poor punk band at that. I have to say I found them to be not so good, the singer just seemed dated, throwing eighties rock shapes that was a little embarrassing, not even in an ironic way, the songs weren’t strong either, they were an interruption and nothing more.
Finally The Creepshow were next, The Creepshow are a Canadian 4 piece, female guitarist/vocalist, stand up bass, keyboard and potentially the best drummer I have seen in a long time. They have released 2 albums and both are extremely strong, they do psychobilly on the pop side of things in a similar vein to The Horrorpops, for me though The Creepshow do it better.
The raced through a lot of the tracks from both albums, Shake, Psycho Ball and Chain, Rue Morgue Radio, Dog House and also a cover of The Ramones track Pet Semetary, before finishing with a misfits cover and The Garden, the later was performed without bass and drums and quite effective it was.
It has to be said they struggled at times with the room being so huge and the crowd being not as enthusiastic as they should be however as gigs go, for us at least, it’s a highlight of the year, very very enjoyable.

Doghouse by The Creepshow

3 Foot Elvis

In 2002 I went to a one day festival that Green Day were headlining, it was 2 stages and had acts such as Snuff, A, Rival Schools, Iggy Pop and The Wildhearts playing throughout the day, it wasn’t so bad and was the first time that I had seen Green Day, so it was pretty enjoyable (I saw them a couple of years later doing exactly the same set and the same schtick, I saw them a couple of years after that and again almost the same set and the same guffing patter), anyway, at this one day festival I was walking through the crowd after going to the bar, without my wife or daughter or daughters friend and I chanced upon a 3 foot man clad in Las Vegas era Elvis suit. I thought it was potentially the surrealist thing I had seen. After going back to my wife and explaining it, there was it had to be said, an air of disbelief, and suggestions that it may have been a child in a little bit of “spangle”, I was quite severe in my protestations and a little while later I went searching for the 3 foot Elvis, but alas it was to no avail. Isnt that always the case when you are looking for a 3 foot Elvis?
Later that day we were watching The Wildhearts and who should turn up on stage with them, yes, you see where I am going with this, a 3 foot Elvis. I punched the air in delight.

Vanilla Radio by The Wildhearts

Super Natural

I got lost this morning, that’s a regular thing though, I get lost quite regularly, you see I have this thing where I see a little bit of congestion and think, oh, I will try that road instead, couple that with my shockingly poor navigation skills and that equals unscheduled diversions to Tamworth and Sutton Coldfield, still I get to see the countryside of the West Midlands.
So the soundtrack to me being lost this morning was the album Super Natural by Bennet. Wikipedia tells me that it was their debut, I am not convinced.
Bennet were a bit of an oddity in that they were an overtly indie band signed to an overtly metal label, Roadrunner, whilst they on the surface appear to have been influenced by Blur, their labelmates tend to have been influenced by one of Satans minions. The single time I saw Bennet was supporting Echobelly in Wolverhampton and to this day they remain the loudest band I have ever seen, and whilst outside the venue a group of girls mistook me for the lead singer Jason Applin, I can only assume that he was fat and speccy with jug ears.
So what of the album? In the 90’s the mid to late 90’s when this album was released, certain bands had this habit of creating these characters and singing about them, Blur to my mind started it, but the likes of Rialto and Echobelly and Sleeper also did this, and it seems that Bennet do it also, and to be frank it gets on my tits. Also secret tracks on albums, I get it, it’s a sneaky little thing after so many minutes silence, a treat, an unexpected treat, well it would be if you don’t put on the sleeve 16. Secret Track.
So that’s the cons, putting them aside, it was an enjoyable album, lots of tracks that I enjoyed at the time, Some one always gets there first, mum has gone to Iceland etc, and some tracks I cant recall and very few of those that I didn’t like. As a soundtrack to me cursing myself that I was lost AGAIN, it was very effective, certainly enjoyable. Applins voice is distinctive enough to be unique but without being grating, the songs aside from the points mentioned earlier are strong and resolutely upbeat and it was a reminder of how much I used to enjoy Bennet.
These days Applin is in the bands The Headclub and The Vending Machine Heart, as for the other members, google wasn’t so accommodating.
7 out of 10.

Mum Has Gone To Iceland by Bennet.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The I's Have It.

Peter's musical odyssey through the west Midlands of Britain, made ever more daring by his sometimes startling musical company (Frank Black is not an aid to road safety) has swamped the blog (or ITMHTGO to our regular reader) with more A's than a high school honours class, although it would probably be 'honors' wouldn't it, as they don't like to complicate the spelling over there do they. We don't pay much attention to spelling here on ITMHTGO either, although a casual glance down the alphabetical list of artists now covered reveals that so far there have been no I's. Yes I know, there's no I in team, but I'm striking out with an III of my own. If we wait for Peter to get to his I's it will be December 2010 and he will be swerving into oncoming traffic somewhere north of Birmingham, hopped up on bothersome punk music at 8 in the morning. There's a gap on his shelf where INXS won't ever be.

Wolverhampton, so often the venue of so many of my most memorable gigs (The Coral to about 20 people, The Smiths for all the wrong reasons), was the place where I saw the Indigo Girls. I remember the evening for 3 reasons - I went with my cousin Bob, there were a lot of people wearing dungarees in the crowd, and I think they (the people on stage, not the assembled dungaree'd masse) did a cover of This Train is Bound for Glory. I don't know who wrote it originally, but I know it was originally a gospel song from the 30's. Johnny Cash covered it, or re-invented it at a later date, and Little Walter's My Babe was based on it. To get back to my point, my introduction to the Indigo Girls was hearing Kid Fears (off their 1989 major label self titled debut) on the radio on a Saturday afternoon, and going out to buy the album immediately. It's certainly one of their finest moments, and one of Michael Stipe's too (they are all from Georgia I think). The combination of the voices of Ray and Saliers is surely up there with the Everly's, although in this clip the crowd, attempting to sing the missing vocal of Stipe's are a bit rough round the edges (Mancs for you).
I'm rambling. Here are The Indigo Girls.

I recently taught a class where one of the members told me he'd had a 'Pinochet Scholarship', meaning that he'd been forced to leave the country in 1973 when the fascists took over, or be dropped out of an aircraft, or worse. A Chilean band on tour in Europe at the time, Inti Illimani, were forced to undertake 'the longest tour in history' - as vocal supporters of the overthrown elected president Salvador Allende it was not advisable for them to return home. They were away 15 years. If you'd bought every one of their albums you'd need a big shelf, as there are over 40. With so many I's in their name they've helped me reach my quota.

Lifes a Riot Between the Wars

Lifes a Riot Between the Wars, a compilation of Billy Billy Braggs releases, Lifes a Riot With Spy Vs Spy and the Between The Wars EP. Theses will also pop up on the Back to Basics album at some point.
I used to work at Pontins and a colleague there assumed that I liked Billy Bragg, in 1988 I liked only one Billy Bragg song, his reinterpretation of Walk Away Renee, the colleague assumed though due to my political and musical stance that I was a fan. On telling him I wasn’t he lent me a tape of his music, it did nothing for me. Some years later I saw him at Glastonbury Festival and the rest they say is history.
These 11 tracks were short to the point of abruptness and the shouting was all over by the time I was passing Rugeley cooling towers. The songs themselves were all very familiar to me and on the whole, actually without exception I enjoyed them. You see the criticism I had yesterday, the authenticity could not be levelled at this release, its Billy, it is with the odd exception, his words, his experiences, be it love, or be it politics, you get that he means this and it isn’t from the hand of someone else.
What is from the hand of someone else are the songs Which Side Are You On and The World Turned Upside Down, the latter being my favourite song sung by Billy, and in A New England, my favourite lyric, in I saw two shooting stars last night, I wished on them but they were only satellites, its wrong to wish on space hardware. I don’t think those lines have ever been bettered by anyone, Tony Asher comes close though.
So that’s the album, enjoyable, to say the least, not Billys best, as it’s a compilation, but certainly good. 8 out of 10.

A New England by Billy Bragg

Monday, 27 April 2009

Mermaid Avenue II

The weekend over and so back to my in car listening. Today it is the second volume of Billy Bragg and Wilco putting music to the songs of Woody Guthrie, Mermaid Avenue II.
This was the last CD I ever bought by Billy Bragg, I was where he was concerned a completist and do have his albums over multiple formats, this particular album is the promo version.
As a result of the documentary that accompanied the release of the first Mermaid Avenue album, I had a dislike towards Wilco that really hasn’t changed all that much, but that isn’t the reason for this album being the last Billy Bragg album I bought.
Lets suppose this album is two EP’s, one Billy Bragg and the other Wilco and the other off tracks, lets forget about those for now.
Billy Bragg, OK, the thing with Billy Bragg and THE thing that makes him famous are his lyrics, the barking bard of Barking, he is reliant on his turn of phrase and his ability to lyricise (if that isn’t a word, it is now), so I always found listening to his songs on Mermaid Avenue, both volumes, difficult and found it difficult to believe him, an Essex boy singing about cotton fields, it just wasn’t authentic and it was at times painful listening to it. No doubt Billys heart was in the right place but it didn’t seem for real as we know that Billy didn’t live that life. At least when Billy did World turned upside down, he was giving a commentary, you didn’t think he lived in the 17th century, but he made Leon Rosselsons words his own, but I think a whole generation and a different continent was a step too far for him and this put me off his work so much. Coming back to his work on this album, my opinion really hasn’t changed, musically and lyrically the songs sung by Billy are very very good, but I don’t believe him, I don’t even come close to believing him and that’s a pity. 5 out of 10.
Wilcos songs are a different story altogether, and I wonder if that’s why they are on Mermaid Avanue II, to add that authenticity, as the songs they perform are the more heartfelt, but also stronger and no you aren’t transported back to the dustbowl, but you are taken some where and although Jeff Tweedy isn’t Woody, he is more believable than Billy. Their work on this album made me want to investigate Wilco further and their songs along with Natalie Merchant and Corey Harris’s contributions are by far the best on the album, and therefore 9 out of 10, extremely enjoyable and the average being 7 out of 10 for Mermaid Avenue II

Blood of The Lamb by Billy Bragg & Wilco

Saturday, 25 April 2009

NOFX, Birmingham Academy

So my annual NOFX gig rolled around last night, its not set in stone but I like to see them once a year, and last night it was a return to Birmingham Academy. A little different last night and I am unsure if their popularity is waining, heaven forbid or it’s the credit crunch, time will tell on that but only the downstairs of the Academy was open, lets see if the next tour they play the Wulfren instead. I am ahead of myself though. Due to the early start and me getting there early for the first time in a long time I was practically at the start of the queue, this is the reserve of kids and nutters and I was neither so it felt a little strange. The wait also irritated me, without my hobit like wife to keep me company I just looked like a man with no friends, I did ask people to come with me but I have no friends.
So getting in I milled around until the first of four support bands came on, the first being Section 13, a hardcore punk band from Leamington Spa, they have a myspace over at very hardcore. Before I give my judgement on them, people liked them ok, so what ever I say and it is the same for all of the supports, ut whatever I say is from my perspective, but really, certainly for this week, Section 13 are the worst band I have ever seen. The drummer was all over the place, they were doing this late 70’s punk schtick, all posturing and no future type bollocks and it really was absolutely dreadful, the bassist and singer was trying to strike up banter but deary me, they should have concentrated more on the songs. I always wonder about people that do this up the punx stuff, why start a band in this day and age and sound like GBH or The Exploited, or at least try to, why not try and sound like something that isn’t thirty years old. Appalling.
So Section 13 finally finished and following them was what I believed to be The Flatliners, it wasn’t though it was a Fat Wreck band called Pour Habit, they also have a myspace

Evolution by Pour Habit
Pour Habit went for the fun factor and seemed to get the crowd going with out all the macho bollocks that you tend to normally find at a NOFX gig, Section 13 had already tried to get a rather laughable circle pit going, I digresse, Pour Habit went down very well I think in part as they tried to inject a little humour and a lot of energy, not just from the frontman, but the entire band seemed to be on that train, I rather enjoyed them and could see them going down well on the Lock Up stage at Reading Festival. This is a bit lazy as it’s a black singer in a punk band but they reminded me in part of LA band Fishbone, they bought hints of the elements that Fishbone had to their sound, overall though, enjoyable, even if the songs weren’t entirely memorable.

As I said I thought they were The Flatliners, they didn’t introduce themselves and I didn’t know they were playing, but next The Flatliners came on and they at least introduced themselves. The Flatliners are a Canadian band also signed to the label owned by Fat Mike of NOFX, Fat Wreck Chords. Their website is at
What little I knew about The Flatliners was that they were a ska/punk band and pretty accomplished at it, there was very little ska to it so I am assuming that they may have changed their sound, they verged on the screamy stuff that always seems out of place at a NOFX gig as its not normally present, but yes, the seemed like an emo band, for me, a poor emo band that I was very glad to see the end of, except the last song, which was pretty good.

Eulogy by The Flatliners

And so Snuff came on, the last time I saw Snuff was at some one day festival in 2002, they weren’t so good, it was raining and I had seen a 3 foot Elvis which had over shadowed everything. In my early twenties, through to my mid-late twenties, I loved Snuff, I loved what they did and not many bands were doing what they did, China Drum came later but Snuff were absolutely fantastic in the early 90’s. Snuff were signed to Fat Wreck Chords, then they decided to split up, they have reformed in a fashion but unsure how long for, there is a myspace,
Snuff were possibly the best band of the night, fantastic to watch utterly fantastic, a headliners set, with Soul Limbo, Likely Lads with Fat Mike guesting, old stuff, its all old stuff, but some very old stuff, with the horn “section” in tow, they were just marvellous and did everything right

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads by Snuff

Finally NOFX came on, you never know what you are going to get with NOFX, invariably intoxicated and the consummate professionals they are it shouldn’t effect their playing, it does though but this is the life of a NOFX fan, if it was any other way it would be dreadful. So they played a set that was it is fair to be said hit laden, but I guess people want to hear Bob and Stickin in my eye, I want you know, other stuff to be brutally honest, I did get Mattersville, and a new song about the queen, Punch her in the c***, charming. Amongst the other new songs was also The quitter and it’s the new songs that I want to hear from the new album, Coaster, also available on vinyl “Frisbee”.

Creeping Out Sara by NOFX

All in all, a less than average gig, Snuff were fantastic, the other supports ranging from OK to dreadful and NOFX the most intoxicated I have seen them and out of time etc, so a little irritating, but on the whole, fun. A long night.

Friday, 24 April 2009


Tigermilk today. Belle and Sebastians debut album, but from a purchasing perspective, their third. I rather vividly the first and up till now, the last time that I heard this album, I lived in Brookside at the time and me and my wife were sat in our back garden listening to it. It really disappointed to be honest, it came off the back of I you’re feeling sinister and The boy with the Arab Strap, and in my opinion it didn’t measure up to those albums. So, it really has remained unlistened to for 10 years.
So ten years later, what of it? Bearing in mind Belle and Sebastian could easily make it in to my ten favourite bands ever, well, enough to say the years have been kind and it certainly is not as bad as I thought, if anything age has been an improver, and it fits nicely within their catalogue. Certainly some tunes I am familiar with, as they have been on singles or soundtracks, but on the whole it is new ground for me.
The whole point of this relistening experiment was to go back to things that I had written off or missed and this is a prime example, a real ly enjoyable album that captures what I like about Belle and Sebastian, with very little wrong with it, the trebley electronic track messed with my cars speakers no end mind, not to mention my hearing, but that aside, it is all text book B&S, and an overlooked travesty that has been sat gathering dust next to Bernard Butler singles.
So 8 out of 10. Settle down for the B’s, they are along with the S’s my largest section and I see them lasting months.

The State I Am In by Belle And Sebastian

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Vertigo of Bliss

Today the CD in my car was that of Biffy Clyro and their second album, The Vertigo of Bliss. From 2003 we saw Biffy Clyro a number of times and it was a track on this album that made us fall in love with them, Questions and Answers.
If you ask my wife what they are like in concert, she wont have a clue, as they tended to play at festivals we attended on the day that ordinarily was “Vodka Day” so like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Primal Scream and other bands, she isn’t really sure what they are like live. My wife has seen Primal Scream 3 or 4 times, she can’t recall a single thing about any performance, curse you Vodka Day.
So The Vertigo of Bliss, its Biffy before they became the Foo Fighters, before they got a fancy dan producer in and softened the edges, they edges are more spongy on this, but not soft, more play doh than steel.
Its possibly my favourite Biffy album but it doesn’t contain my favourite Biffy tracks, they will be coming up later, but its an album that I would suggest buying, as I would suggest buying any album from their Beggars era.
I think their sound at the point of Vertigo of Bliss was quite unique in this country at least and one that possibly influenced many bands in their wake, it’s a pity really that they changed that and went for the QOTSA and Foo Fighters sound in order it seems to win new people over, it is not evident on this album though and in the end it was a successful change for them as their singles started getting into the top 10.
It’s a brief one this morning as I have something rather pressing but overall 7.5 out of 10.

Questions and Answers by Biffy Clyro

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Teenager Of The Year

I reiterate what it says over on the right there, I am currently listening to my entire CD collection on my commute to work between Stafford and Birmingham. The rules are simple, its only albums, EP’s, Singles and the odd discretionary mini album are not listened to, I listen to them for the entire journey there and back and then I tell you what I think about it, giving it largely a mark out of ten. The CD’s are filed in loosely alphabetical order and today that alphabetical order has bought me to Frank Blacks sophomore release, Teenager Of The Year.
This album, like all of the Frank Black albums are my wifes, when the Pixies split up, my path was that of the Deal and not the Black, my wife on the other hand chose both paths, I personally do not own any Frank Black and the material she foisted on me was not enjoyed at all. That’s the back story anyway.
This album is notable for many things, firstly the back up band features Pixies guitarist, Joey Santiago, and it doesn’t take much craning of the ear to pick out his licks, this album also features Captain Beefheart member Eric Drew Feldman, he also played keyboards on the final Pixies album Trompe Le Monde, finally, and this was something I didn’t know until today, also playing guitar on this album is Lyle Workman, Lyle Workman amongst other notable achievements composed the soundtrack to the film Superbad, which is way cooler than Captain Beefheart.
So what of the album? In that Bad Religion was the wrong soundtrack to an early morning commute, Frank Black and this album perhaps in particular were the perfect soundtrack, its utterly diverse enough for every song to warrant attention, it isn’t a difficult listen but it isn’t an easy one. The songs certainly for me invoke sunshine and not showers and if there is a message, its really OK if you don’t get it.
It weighs in at 22 or 23 songs long and not a single song made me think, perhaps I could skip this one. It surprised me, it surprised me because I must have heard this album around ten times and didn’t enjoy a single listen, may be I was too young to appreciate it.
You may think, well you love the Pixies, so you are of course going to love this, not entirely true, yes I do love the Pixies but I really didn’t get the Frank Black solo thing.
So that all said, Teenager of the Year gets a nice surprising 8 out of 10

Abstract Plain/Sir Rockaby by Frank Black

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Punk Rock Songs

The end of the A’s crept up on me in that it was an EP and not an album, so today its B’s, namely Bad Religions Punk Rock Songs, an anthology.
Now maybe it was my mood this morning, may be it should be Air in the mornings and Bad Religion on the way home but lyrically this album wasn’t good, I like the old American Punk Rock, that is after all the genre that NOFX peddle, but Bad Religion was a band that on the whole passed me by, partly I guess down to the anti religion, politico stance that they adopt with such vigour, you would think with all their experience they would be more lyrically adept than say Des’ree or some group of 15 year old punx from Worcester.
On stranger than Fiction Gurewitz writes that life is the crummiest book I read, in 94 when he wrote that line he had the birth of his daughter and his label Epitaph was enjoying some of their most high profile releases. Life really must have been crummy then.
Its not just that though, musically I really enjoyed the album, just the lyrics grated a little, but that may be just me and Bad Religion, I saw them once and I cant recall a single thing about them, and similarly if you asked me to sing back any song other than 21st Century Digital Boy, I would struggle.
So, and I may amend this after the journey home when I may be more happy to suffer the charms of 40 something punks, but for now, 4 out of 10.

Stranger Than Fiction by Bad Religion

Ace A's

I have finally reached the end of the first letter of my alphabetic jaunt through my CD albums, so time to look back.
The A’s it has to be said have been pretty fallow, on the whole the better A’s have been EP’s and singles, so haven’t got a play as they fall outside of the albums only rule, and it seems that some expected A’s have either been misfiled or downstairs near the stereo (Afghan Whigs)
So looking back upon the better A’s what has produced the alphabet starting results, and what left me hankering for the killer B’s.
The worst album amongst it all was Let There Be Rock by AC/DC, I mentioned that I think AC/DC would and probably do produce a great, greatest hits but this 8 track marathon could have ended later so I did not have to go through the unbelievable chore of sitting through it over and over as I aimed my car through the A roads of Staffordshire. Let There Be Rock was easily the worst edging out offerings by Auf Der Mer and The Avalanches, all seemed like diverse works of art compared to the honkings of AC/DC and the odd man that dresses as a school boy. The only song that raised the bar slightly from the level of a snakes belly was Whole Lotta Rosie and even that was only considered passable when placed next to the other manure on this album. You know that song Tarzan Boy by Baltimora, THAT is better than anything on this album.
I mentioned The Avalanches and Auf Der Mer, both albums were stinkers for their own reasons, The Avalanches purely as they took 3 second samples and strung them out for the entirety of a song and Auf Der Mer as she took every girl rock cliché and rung it for every drop, Auf Der Mers album was atrocious. A late entry into the truly appalling league was The Autonomists, anarcho punks that really were painfully bad, but is that what punk is all about? They were one of only 2 bands that got 0 out of 10 from me, the other being AC/DC.
So that’s the bad, what of the good? Well Air’s Virgin Suicides soundtrack and Moon Safari were high points, as was Richard Ashcrofts debut, I know what you are thinking, Dickie Ashcroft, I know, it surprised me, it was very good indeed, I was the king, I really was the king by Animals That Swim, but the best was The Amps’ Pacer. An album that I enjoy every time I hear it and I struggle to think of an A artist album better. Scoring wise, you will see that I placed Moon Safari higher, back to back though I think The Amps produced the better album.
I hope that the best B isn’t The Breeders by the way as it will make me look like a fanboy that I am not particularly, but the best A was an 9 out 10 and I was reluctant to give any album 10 as there are much better offerings in the T’s, the D’s and the B’s. The amps though when placed along side any album would always come off well.
Today it’s the start of the Killer B’s and that hopefully will not be too heavy on the Bragg, Beatles and Belle and Sebastian but I doubt it.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Moon Safari

Moon Safari by Air today, and I will be honest with you, I was pre-empting this to be the best that A could offer, its an album I like very much and should be rather conducive to pleasant drives in early summer sun. The weather helped this morning and the congestion around Coleshill was not going to dampen my mood.
But lets be objective about it. This is an album that has soundtracked so many home makeover programmes, reveal section, every track pictured in my mind Kevin McLoud extolling the virtues of a seed roof or rococo architecture, or Sarah Beenie criticising someone for going over budget because they fancied a granite worktop, this is the soundtrack to a Channel 4 produced home improvement show and there was no getting around that.
Also the over-use of the vocoder made me picture the Rah Band on Clouds across the moon, or was that the Zap Band, its neither here nor there, it was vocoder heavy.
So what of the album, it is one of my favourites ever and the fact that it is used by the UK's versions of Ty Pennington doesn't distract me from it, every track is rather gorgeous and due to the aforementioned congestion I got to hear it all twice. I recommend it heartily and think it should be a mainstay of every record collection. 9.5 out of 10, dropped half a point as they should have used a project manager.

Kelly Watch the Stars by Air

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Black Kids

The Black Kids, who apparently took their name from a line in a Darren Hayman song, have took to covering I took her love for granted on their US tour, it being a Hefner song, it seems they are fans of the mans work. There was talk some years back that The Futureheads were also paying homage to Darren Hayman in their soundchecks, they may have also done a cover live, I wouldn't be knowing about that.
But anyway for your listening pleasure, The Black Kids performing Hefner's I Took Her Love For Granted live from Washingtons 9.30 Club.

The video for the original.

I Took Her Love For Granted by Hefner

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Week Never Starts Round Here

I have learned not to trust weathermen, or in the case of GMTV, weathergirls (why is it weathergirls and weather men and not weather boys?) The weather girl this morning, not the delightful Claire Nazir I might add, but some Scots woman drafted in to cover her holiday/sick/maternity leave, delete as applicable. Anyway, Scots weathergirl said it would be fine, it wasn’t fine, it was grim, it was very grim, and it was made all the more grimmer by Arab Strap, for they provided the soundtrack and that soundtrack was The Week Never Starts Round Here.
Arab Strap, certainly on this album are the musical equivalent of The Dementors from Harry Potter, sucking every bit of life, joy and optimism out my commute, I entered a fog of despair in Stafford and didn’t come out of the other side until I was minutes away from Coleshill.
Arab Strap I daresay have never had a review where somewhere it doesn't say dour. I don’t even know what dour means, but I bet they are it.
That all said, some Arab Strap songs feature amongst my favourites, namely The Love Detective, Hey Fever and The First Big Weekend, and it was the latter that influenced me into buying this album, and even that doesn’t lift it from the depths of overriding ennui. You see, on songs like The First Big Weekend, where the vocal is effectively a monologue, you have to listen, but as the vocals on the album are so low in the mix, you are craning to hear, it’s the same for all of the album, you really can’t hear things too well, which on a song that’s chorus driven, it really doesn’t matter, after all you don’t really need to have “Hey Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind” really loud over the instruments, as it is repeated, you get the gist of it, well you may need to hear it better if you are an acquaintance of Toni Basil, you are named Michael, you are wondering if you are fine, and what Toni Basils mind does in your presence, then, and only then perhaps you might need the instrumentation turned down a notch. This isn’t Toni Basil though, this is Aiden Moffatt, telling a story, mumbled at best, over instruments, I still do not know what they did on their first big weekend.
So, I quite like one track on a dreadful dreadful album, how does that equate in my scoring system, 1 out of 13

The First Big Weekend by Arab Strap

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Vehicles And Animals

I had a look this morning, I am definitely nearing the end of the A’s, only around 4 to go. In the meantime this mornings commute CD was Athletes debut, Vehicles and Animals.Now you may wonder how I came to own this, I ask myself the same question, it’s a copy if that puts any more sense to it, 2002 it seems that it must have had a place in my heart back then. I recall only ever playing this once, and that was at a bar b q where I got very very drunk, no, drunker than that, VERY drunk. So in effect outside of the singles the material on this album was all new to me.
I like Wires by Athlete, its an inoffensive song that I wouldn’t turn off if it came on the radio, that really is the extent of my Athlete liking, Joel Potts voice always seems astonished, you know, say in a drama class some one said “show me astonished” well he has adopted astonished as his singing voice.
That aside, I have a foggy memory that me and Lisa liked a song off this album for its video, Beautiful and that may have been the reason for having this album. So what of it? Much cop? If you get past that they will always be a V festival mid bill band, whats the album like?
I liked it, I really did, I got past the astonished vocals and all that came with it and enjoyed it, the singles are pretty strong, El Salvador, Beautiful, Westside and You Got The Style, and the album tracks if anything are stronger, yes its inoffensive pop in the vein of Snow Patrol (wait till the S’s, I have a large amount of Snow Patrol), or Starsailor (and these), it may have a political, or I suspect religious, message but you know as I am concentrating more on overtaking a seed lorry and less on the lyrics of Athlete, I can let all that go. An inoffensive 7 out of 10.

Beautiful by Athlete

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Footprints Through The Snow

Alphabetically speaking it was the turn of ant today, Ant Harding and namely his last album, Footprints through the Snow, released on Homesleep records. Ant being a multi instrumentalist from the Isle of Wight that now resides in Malmo. Home Sleep I think is an Italian label.
I like Ant, and have effectively been following his career, its difficult to be subjective really but as I gave one of his other albums 6.5 I think I can and will be.
Todays journey through the midlands was a bleak one, the sky was black, torrential flooding was occurring, thunder, lightening and my soundtrack was Ant Harding, it was it has to be said a perfect soundtrack, the weather outside was frightful but the soundtrack was so de… you get the idea of that.
I personally think this album is the best piece of work he has recorded, he releases a reasonable amount of EP’s (he has just put one out recently, more details over at and few albums, but I think personally this album is his best offering. Its love again, unless it is all metaphors and really he is speaking about Norwegian Swedish political relations and not about his life in Sweden, I will wager it’s the latter, its what he does well.
The songs on the album are better formed than any of his earlier works and his songwriting skill definitely kicked up a notch, you hear more of his influences breaking through as well, but not running all over the songs, Clifford T ward I know he is a fan of, similarly Drake, they are apparent, but not over bearing, Antony is his own man and the over riding voice is his. 9 out of 10.

Things I Can No Longer Listen to As I Am Too Old

I had a friend who went to university somewhere in south London, in about 1988 I guess. Quite often I used to finish work on a Friday night in Wellington, Shropshire, and get straight on the train to London. Ah yes, Hither Green, it's all coming back to me now. His digs were in a nursing home, and I knew the numbers to put into the keypad on the outside door lock, so could just let myself in whether he was there or not. Across the hall from him lived a rockabilly scouser called Elvis who was an Eddie Cochran fan (and postman), and owned a guitar pick thrown into the crowd by Brian Setzer at a Stray Cats gig. Anyway, the Albini project Rapeman album seemed to be on almost all the time, and is the first of my Things I Can No Longer Listen to As I Am Too Old.

I guess the majority of Things I Can No Longer Listen to As I Am Too Old should really be children's music, but actually I can listen to children's music. One of the albums that got a lot of stick from me and my brother was the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, live at Carnegie Hall. The ripped album cover showed them all stood in a line on stage, all with potato faces, in big thick woolly jumpers. As it was recorded in 1963 I don't think the jumpers were any kind of anti fashion post modernist statement, it was probably just a bit nippy. As an adult listening again the standout tracks are The Parting Glass and Patriot Game, but it's the 13 minute Children's Medley that stuck in my head. I hadn't heard it in 25 years until recently, and still knew every word. I guess this should really be in a post called Things I Can Still Listen to Even Though I Am Old.

I guess R.E.M. could feasibly be listed here, as they seem to have got progressively more crap over the years. They are the musical equivalent of George Best or Gazza. Here they are making their national TV debut on Letterman. Peter Buck's 'need the bathroom dance' is engaging, as is their determined earnestness. It's light years away from stadium gigs and doing strange things with cutlery on a British Airways flight.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


Commute soundtrack today was Londinium by trip hop band, Archive. An album it has to be said I have been looking forward to. For a very brief period in the mid nineties I really did like Archive, I liked their sound and the fact that it wasn’t out and out dance music.
Wikipedia has bought me up to date on them and it appears they didn’t split up, they carried on doing what they do but along the way losing the female vocalist from Londinium, Roya Arab and also briefly losing the rap guy Rosko John, only for him to return this year.
So Londinium, a magnificent album that was as enjoyable today on the A38 as it was when I bought it in 1996. If anything a little better as I am hearing things a little differently.
I hear the world music influence that possibly Roya Arab may have bought in, yes they are doing a similar thing to Portisheads Dummy and both albums are fantastic but Archive were always better in my opinion as they released an album that was extremely strong from start to finish, that still sounds fresh, (fr-fr-fresssshhh) and in my opinion doesn’t really produce any clichés.
The stand out track is definitely So Few Words and it was this single that I bought prior to buying Londinium, gorgeous vocals all over it and utterly the the best soundtrack so far to my commute. Therefore 9 out of 10.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Aerosmith - The Stuff That isn't On 'Young Lust'

As Peter pointed out, Aerosmith like compilations. Actually, some of them were put out by record companies eager to milk a departed / missing in action / presumed dead band, hence the Columbia Greatest Hits, Live Classics Volumes 1 & 2, Live Bootleg and so on. To add to the list there is also Gems, Young Lust, Gold and a live double too. Young Lust, the album that Peter gave a shockingly low score to, albeit heavy with the later pop efforts, still contains enough songs to pull itself up to the 9's - the Joe Perry Song 'Let the Music Do the Talking' (which I think first appeared on his solo album), 'Dream On' and 'Sweet Emotion' (both live as they are from the Columbia days, which also explains the inexplicable inclusion of a couple of forgettable numbers off the Geffen comeback album 'Done with Mirrors').
So, in an attempt to counterbalance the pop, and drag up their score a bit in Peter's eyes, here are some non Young Lust songs that don't have women in bikinis in the video.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Sugar Sugar

An Archies retrospective today, Sugar Sugar is its name, after their biggest and pretty much only hit. The Archies weren’t a real band as they were a cartoon, a 60’s cartoon that was pretty lightweight to be honest, this isn’t Raw Power. It is ok in a 60’s exploitation pop kind of way, there are more bandwagons on this album than John Waynes entire film career. That all said it is executed perfectly because Jeff Barry was the main songwriter and amongst other things Jeff Barry was responsible for Leader of the pack.
The album then, an enjoyable journey, background music is what it could be described as, I wasn’t craning an ear as it is pop after all, get in, get out and if you can do it under 2 minutes that would be excellent thank you.
I recall buying this album when I worked at Virgin, I think I bought a ridiculously expensive Lesley Gore album at the same time, this wasn’t ridiculously expensive. That all said a straight down the middle 5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Autonomists

I thought I was coming to the end of the A’s, I looked this morning and I have at least another week of A’s, at the very minimum. Today though, the soundtrack to my commute was the self titled album by The Autonomists, what the Italian political movement? No, the British political punk band.
This album was given to me by the same man, a very close friend who also gave me the auf Der Mer album, he also gave me a Tuuli album, so its not all bad.
I really will apologise to him for this review, as I say he is a close friend and he not only went to the trouble of giving me this disc but he also knows the band. Sorry Paul.
I have quite a dislike for UK punk, particularly political UK punk, there are some exceptions, notably Stiff Little Fingers, but The Autonomists are all over the place, essentially taking their cue from Operation Ivy, more punk than ska but a mish mash of influences that Op Ivy had. Now the music is the usual punk fodder, but the lyrics are just dreadful, anarcho ramblings about the system, up the punx kind of stuff, and they have an anarchist symbol as the A of their name.
Thankfully the album was finished by the time I got to Lichfield and I saw no point in repeating it, so the car stereo went off. Not fun, not fun at all, a bigger chore than AC/DC. 0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology Disc 2

Disc 2 today and its shaping up to be better, the 80’s rock quotient is still high, but its Aerosmith so its like complaining that there is cheese in a cheese sandwich. They are heading for a little later career fodder on the second disc, Crazy, Eat the Rich and a faithful cover of The Doors love me two times, I think vocal duties on the latter are given over to Joe Perry as it doesn’t sound too much like Steven Tyler. Yesterday they did Hangman Jury which tellingly has been the best song so far, but you know as it goes, 5 out of 10 for this disc so for the album, an average of 4.5 out of 10.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology Disc 1

Continuing the Rock, Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology. One of many many Aerosmith Greatest Hits that exist, including boxsets I think they have about 8, they like compilations it seems. This album being long and a double album might mean that it stretches over two days. I am part way through the first disc, so in all likelihood it will be disc 2 tomorrow.
I asked for this one Christmas form Lisa and I think chopped down it would absolutely fantastic, of the 13 tracks listened to so far I like about half, that should indicate really that this is going to get a 5?
I quite like Aerosmith though, I like their image, their ethic, what they do and how they sound, I like that they remind me of the Stones, I just want more tunes out of them that this G.Hits isn’t giving me. It may happen on disc 2 and it this was an original album it would have got a 5, but as they are professing that the hits are great. 4 out of 10.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Pots and Pans

The only connection between these three artists is that they helped me get through the washing up this morning. When I used to wash up with my brother, when we both lived at home, The Rolling Stone's 'Can't You Hear Me Knocking' was a regular rinse companion, as was The Stone Roses I am The Resurrection, both long enough to get you through a pan or two. Evening washing up requires something jaunty (followed by the pub if at all possible), whereas morning washing up requires something a little more mellow on the ears, particularly if it's a last night's dishes+headache combo.

Karen Dalton, who the Guardian called 'The Best Singer You've Never Heard Of', didn't like recording, didn't like playing live, and didn't write her own songs. Somehow, after you listen to her version of Tampa Red's 'It Hurts Me Too', it's easy to imagine a hard and tortured life. She died penniless, homeless on the streets of New York in 1993

My co blogging associate Peter D pointed me in the direction of Angus & Julia Stone, who are an aid to getting grease off pots, when I'm in charge of the brush anyway. They are the Australian brother and sister antidote to the White Stripes.

A.R. Rahman won two oscars for his music in Slumdog Millionaire. The first I ever heard of him was the early 90's when his 'Bombay Theme Tune' appeared on a Cafe del Mar compilation. This is a live version of that song. Would you believe he has sold over 100 million records, and 200 million cassettes? It's not the most pick-me-up of songs for first thing in the morning, but it completes my dish scrubbing top 3 for today.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Let There Be Rock

LET THERE BE ROCK!!!!! No that’s not a call to arms, that’s todays album, by AC/DC, obviously and I state now, some people are going to be offended by this little review. I realised some time back that AC/DC are definitely a greatest hits band, I have heard albums by them and its really a chore getting through it, and let there be rock is only 8 songs long, I got through it twice this morning and I was frowning 3 songs in.
Why are AC/DC considered the epitome of cool and Status Quo aren’t? I mean for my money Status Quo have better songs and the two bands do plough a similar chugging well worn furrow, so why is one considered a bit of a joke and the other sells out the largest venues all over the world?
Anyway, outside of Whole lotta rosie I found this album tedious in the extreme, no real peaks or troughs, plug in the chug along guitar, the whiney vocals and talk about ladies and stuff. I love rock, I really do, classic vintage rock in particular and their greatest hits I am sure is chock full of great hits, but fucking hell, I have to sit through it a couple of more times on the way home. 0 out of 10.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Anthology by Alien Ant Farm, as I have mentioned previously Alien Ant Farm are my guilty pleasure and one that I am really quite guilty about, them, Bowling for Soup, Sum 41 and Garth Brooks. I do have shame. But not that much.
So anthology, sorry ANThology, I quite like this album, quite a lot actually, I did think that I liked it more than the follow TruAnt, but hearing them close together, Truant comes out on top and I might have to readdress its mark out of 10, but this isn’t about Truant.
Anthology is the album that contains their take on Smooth Criminal, and the follow up, Movies, my favourite track on the album, but the album as a whole is utterly enjoyable, and one of few that I am looking forward to hearing a few times on the commute home. Some people may think it may have dated a little, its from 2001 if I recall rightly, but I don’t think so, yes there was all that Nu-mental and pop punk stuff happening then but if you look beyond that to the album as a whole and the clumsy naming, its really a very good album. Am I protesting too much? 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Waking The Fallen

Todays trip down the CD lane came courtesy of metal band Avenged Sevenfold, that’s METAAAAAAAALLLL!!!!!. Their 2003 album Waking the Fallen, an album that I utterly adored when it was first released and in a nutshell, take away the truly metal lyrics, its still a pretty damn fine album, considering that they briefly turned into Poison on a later album, thank heaven for small mercy’s. But every staple has a yawn and although it is a pretty good album, it does, like most of its genre, age very badly, the screaming vocals that were very VERY popular in 2003, seem altogether misguided now and the best vocals are the ones that M Shadows delivers straight. That’s said it’s a minor annoyance.
I didn’t think to much of the follow up, I may have it, the forthcoming weeks will tell me that, and I think I am hitting a bit of a rock patch with the CD’s. I digress, I saw Avenged Sevenfold at Reading Festival one year, they really disappointed me and so I kind of stopped listening to them after that, it is therefore nice to listen to this one. Also its the first CD that I never finished on my commute, that said I did shave 10 minutes off the time. 5 out of 10.