Saturday, 30 May 2009

It's Officially Summer

The sun is shining, birds are tweeting (everyone does it these days) and finally it seems that Summer has come in kicking over a chair as it entered. Summer will last only a week and I expect over that week The Sun newspaper to have a headline along the likes of What A Scorcher!

Whilst I was writing The Beatles review I got to thinking about those great songs that let you know its summer, that don't whisper it, but shout from the rooftops ITS SUMMER!!!!!

Clearly for the purposes of the next five tunes there is not going to be any Walking on Sunshine, Sealed with a Kiss or any Macarenas. This is my five songs that tell you Summer is here, add in the comments your suggestions.

The first two are inexplicably linked so I am going to roll them into one. Don't Falter by Mint Royale featuring Lauren Laverne and Hey Fever by Arab Strap. Youtube doesnt seem to have Hey Fever, which is a pity so I put something together, its the music that is important, remember that.

Hey! Fever by Arab Strap

Laverne was at one point the partner of one half of grumpy Scots duo Arab Strap, she may still be, I wouldn't know. What I do know is that she used the It's Officially Summer line from Hey Fever for the chorus of her own tune, Don't Falter. Its hard to dislike either tune, and I have tried, believe me, when it comes to Arab Strap I have tried, but both tunes are as infectious as yawning certainly in the case of Mint Royale it is difficult not to walk with it playing in your headphones without bobbing slightly. Lauren Laverne stopped being a musician some time back for some reason, it's a shame really, I hear she DJ's now, I wouldn't be knowing about that.

Don't Falter by Mint Royale Featuring Lauren Laverne

Next one, and bear with me here, next one, no really it IS, the next track for me that herald summer is Ice Cube's 1993 single It Was A Good Day. As far as hip hop goes one of my favourite tracks. Essentially a remake of Big Rock Candy Mountain. When I hear it I am sat in an drop top and with a flick of a switch I can make its ass drop, I am invariably riding around South Central like a baller. Not really, but that's the feeling the song invokes, its sunny, and that may be down to the Isley Brother sample, it might be down to the feel good nature of the song. For me though it really IS summer and its difficult not to listen to and imagine the sun on your back.

It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube

Less than Jake next and a song that appears on just about every tape/CD/MP3 playlist I make for a roadtrip to a festival, that alone guarantees its sunshiney summery-ness. That song is All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, a ska tune from their 98 album, Hello Rockview, a pretty faultless album as far ska punk albums go but All My Best Friends.. is easily the standout track, it is their career standout track if you ask me but I am just a fair-weather fan. The summeryness I think potentially stems from the inch high private eye that is my wife dancing along to them at Reading Festival one year, they played this song, I may have had a drink, the sun was shining. An excellent song.

All My Best Friends Are Metalheads by Less Than Jake

Finally summer and cheer go hand in hand in hand whenever I hear Summer Here Kids by Granddaddy. A band that it seems have now split up, Jason Lyttle the lead singer has a solo record out, it may be a hiatus but this track was from their 97 album, Under The Western Freeway. I know this isn't Here Comes The Sun, but Grandaddy always, for me at least, exude summer. Be it AM 180 or Sikh in a Baja VW Bug, I think as far as instrumentation, vocals and feel of Grandaddy typify summer, and Summer Here Kids typify it more than anything elese by them.

Summer Here Kids by Granddaddy

Friday, 29 May 2009

Rubber Soul

Today was really the first day of summer, the weather dictated that I should be playing a suitably summery record that had me skipping down my road to my car, so it was fear that gripped me when I went to the CD shelf this morning, knowing that it could spew something perfect or it could Spew Bjork’s Vespertine. The sun gods were happy though and decided that one Bjork a week is more than ample. Rubber Soul was the music, Stafford to Coleshill was the journey, Sunny was both my disposition and the weather, Scottish replacement for Claire Nazir was right this morning.
Rubber Soul was the first Beatles record I adored, I acquired my parents copy in my late teens and played it endlessly, somewhere in a cupboard I have these poems I wrote when I was 15 or 16 and those poems rip this album off without the merest hint of trying to hide it, I listened to it a lot!
As of now though it isn’t my favourite Beatles album, but it is certainly up there and it kind of heralds the start of their more experimental phase, playing with instruments that you didn’t really hear on mainstream pop records, Sitar, Harmonium and potentially spoons (I like the idea of spoons on records). The subject matter was getting a little darker also, not just Norwegian Wood, but in Run For Your Life the tone is menacing. Lennon said that Run For Your Life was his least favourite songs, cant see it myself.
Enough to say I think this album should be owned by everyone and it always perplexed me that in those greatest album polls this was eclipsed by the likes of Revolver or Sgt Pepper, this is in my opinion far stronger than both those records, but still not the strongest Beatles record. 9 out of 10

Run For Your Life by The Beatles

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Hour of the Bewilderbeast

Badly Drawn Boys debut today, The Hour of The Bewilderbeast. Released in 2000 it won a Mercury Music Prize.
I have to say it was a lovely album this morning, lasting the entire journey and as I wanted to sit and listen to the entirety of the final track, Epitaph, I remained sat in my car for 2 more minutes.
I don’t think it’s a flawless album and there are distractions dotted throughout but it is by far Damon Goughs best work. The singles and there was a lot of singles that appeared on this album, well it certainly seems that way, but the singles are arguably amongst his best releases, Pissing in the wind in particular.
The album itself is pitched partway between melancholia and sentimentality, but mainly melancholia. He appears to have regrets, and if I listened to lyrics properly I could elaborate on that but the subject matter almost entirely throughout is negative, Disallusion, Pissing in the wind, but I don’t think that particular outlook is restricted to Hour of The Beweilderbeast, it’s a reoccurring theme for Badly Drawn Boy.
One day I assume that Damon Gough, like Steve Jones may be considered our greatest contemporary songwriter, till that day Chris Martin flies first class with shopping lists scribbled on the back of his hand. 8 out of 10

Pissing in the wind by Badly Drawn Boy

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


This whole listening to my CD albums in alphabetical order seemed a great idea a few months ago, the A’s weren’t that fallow and the variety meant that I never knew what was coming up. Now I am in the B’s and B’s is made up on the whole of a relatively low amount of artists, certainly as ratios, albums to artists go, there is little variety.
When I think of B’s I think of Billy Bragg and Belle and Sebastian, what I forgot to think of was Bjork. We have too much Bjork and all of it is my wifes. Every single album, every single single, every LP with the Sugarcubes, everything, its hers. I had Birthday by The Sugarcubes on 7” but in an effort to woo my wife I gave her that single, it worked by the way, she is easily bought. The first compilation my wife did for me she put a couple of Bjork tracks on a tape for me, she has since learned the rules of doubling up on tapes, but back then she put Aeroplane and Come To Me on a tape and as I wanted to do rude things with her I said that’s great, ace, thank you.
I hate Bjork, I find her difficult to listen to, tuneless, and purposefully odd. This shit sells is perhaps the Guðmundsdóttir mantra. Actually I do like one album, it isn’t this one though, this one is Homogenic, the 1997 album. This one didn’t pass the old grey whistle test, this one didn’t catch me absent mindedly tapping out a rhythm on the top of my gear stick, this one didn’t see my car accelerating and slowing down as my foot was tapping, this one had me glancing at the display on my CD player and thinking, Christ its only track 3.
Under my own set of loosely enforced rules I have to listen to the album once each way, and the thought of Homgenic soundtracking the journey home has me thinking that I may work over tonight.
Even the highlights were low, Bachelorette, All is full of love, really really really bad. Is it the worst Bjork album, I fear not, I fear that will go to one that I know remains unplayed in a cellophane wrapper that may tip me over the edge. So with that in mind Homogenic. 1 out of 10. Why 1? I haven’t got the first clue other than I predict an album will be worse than this so I have to allow something lower than this.

All Is Full Of Love by Bjork

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


The Breeders debut album, Pod was my soundtrack to drive to today. Released in 1990 and produced by Steve Albini this copy is my wifes, as pretty much all of The Breeders stuff we own.
I have to say although I love the Breeders this is my least favourite of their works. Its not a particularly easy listen like its successor, but it is typical of the music my wife likes.
It has a few highs, a cover of Happiness Is a Warm Gun, Fortunately Gone and Iris and live all of the tracks work for me. On this album though it doesn’t really get me tapping my foot from start to finish.
The personnel on this album includes sometime Throwing Muse Tanya Donnelly, Jo Wiggs from The Perfect Disaster and Britt Walford of Slint. Of course Kim Deal is as ever present but no Kelley on this release, and maybe that is what taints my view. The Breeders are the Deal sisters and without one it doesn’t work for me. 6 out of 10.

Fortunately Gone by The Breeders

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Hank Snow

It seems that the 16 year old Dylan didn’t actually compose a poem that was to be auctioned this week, it was actually the lyrics of country singer Hank Snow that Dylan transcribed. I think it was a bit a give away that it wasn’t 6th form poetry as it didn’t refer to Felicity Watkins in English Lit.
I have been reading a lot about Hank Snow over the past 9 months, you see Hank was instrumental in the early career of Elvis Presley and for the past nine months I have been trying to get through an Elvis Presley book, Last Train To Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick. I am still over a hundred pages off the end of this book so for now lets talk Hank Snow.
Hank Snow was the man that suggested the Grand Ole Opry put a young singer named Presley on, Snow also co managed Presley with Parker, Snow was a friend and mentor to Elvis, Hank Snow was the experienced entertainer and Elvis was the young buck. Snow gave Presley a lot of gigs.

Ive Been Everywhere

But Hank Snow was more than just an Elvis Presley footnote, he was a country legend but most people haven’t heard of him, but have heard of perhaps his most famous song, I’ve Been Everywhere he was also pretty consistent having country hits between the end of the 40’s pretty much up to the 70’s.
So Dylans poem was Hank Snow lyrics, possibly not worth that much now.

A Fool Such As I

Friday, 22 May 2009

Enema of the State

The enema of the state today, the charmingly titled album by pop punkers, Blink 182. I love Blink 182, you should know that and none of their albums in the coming weeks will get below 8 out of 10, that might spoil it a little for you, but you can save up you bile until the last album of theirs.
This is potentially my favourite Blink 182 album, it could be called Greatest Hits and I would nod in agreement, one of my favourite Blink 182 tracks in Adams song, a single track across an extremely consistent album, from Dumpweed to Anthem and everything in between it really cant be bettered by them.
It would be easy to write them off as a band that play guitars and do jokes about ladies parts. On Adams Song they sing about teenage depression and suicide and it startles me that a group of their ilk could write something so good, and that I think was the song that made me love them.
Also present are the singles, All the small things and Whats my age again, 2 more reasons to love this album. 9 out of 10.

Adams Song by Blink 182

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Cult Of Ray

Today was the second offering so far from Frank Black, The Cult Of Ray, I think this was his third or fourth album and where the last album I listened to was a great surprise, an very enjoyable surprise this was like sucking porridge through a straw and as it finished as I passed the Belfry, I was happy to see it go.
Its not that it was bad, just not particularly interesting, Black was doing his post Pixies thing but at a tempo that I wasn’t particularly enamoured with. All squealy electric guitars and nonsense lyrics that didn’t really do anything for me.
On the plus side this album does contain my favourite solo Frank Black song in I don’t want to hurt you, but one swallow and all that and discarding that song there was very little meat on this bone. The final song reminded me of the Cher song, Just like Jesse James, which in all honesty, if Frank had covered that it might have been a gentle respite. As it was Frank chose to stick to topics that he knows and deals with well, namely, “bollocks”, well certainly on this album, and by bollocks I don’t mean that he has songs like the ballad of testicle joe, or John Waynes hairy saddle bags, (to be fair again if he had done songs called that it may have been a little more entertaining), no the bollocks I am referring to is the bollocks in the sentence “whats this bollocks”.
I don’t think this is the worst B, if it turns out to be the worst then it means the B’s have been very good, I just didn’t really enjoy it, 4 out of 10

The Marsist by Frank Black

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

About A Boy

Badly Drawn Boy today, his original soundtrack to the film About A Boy. The film is based on a Nick Hornby book, when me and Kev worked at a certain music megastore Hornbys High Fidelity book was passed about a lot. Kev owned the copy and there was a waiting list for it. After finishing it, in something like 3 lunch times I bought my own copy and reread it, and my well thumbed edition has been around a few people too. But this isn’t the soundtrack to High Fidelity, this is the soundtrack to About A Boy.
I like Badly Drawn Boy, actually I need to clarify that, I like Badly Drawn Boy on record, I saw Badly Drawn Boy live in 2000 and after the Happy Mondays, the worst gig I have been to. Diabolical.
So the CD, as soundtracks go it isn’t The Harder They Come but it is pretty good, its enjoyable, its not a great but it makes a pleasant car journey and if anything I didn’t particularly want it to end. I guess that’s a good indication of its quality. At times and a thing that he does, it does shift to noodley bollocks and that 70’s sitcom theme tune style that he pops on to albums, but give him a guitar and a piece of paper and he does come up with some beautiful songs, Silent Sigh was the lead single from this if I recall without the aid of Wikipedia, and also Something to talk about and in my opinion those are as good as anything from The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast. 7 out of 10.

Silent sigh by Badly Drawn Boy

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Live at the BBC

Well back to it, I had a week off as I had podcasts and a new album by Camera Obscura to listen to, but mainly podcasts.
Fitting perfectly into a 40 mile each way commute was the Beatles compilation, Live at the BBC. 69 tracks from BBC sessions from 63 to 65. This compilation was given to me by a person I can't recall, for a reason I can't remember. I think it was Ted, Audrey Roberts former husband off of the Coronation Street, you know, the gay fella that knocks about with philandering Ken Barlow. It wasn't really him but when I try and recall who it was, Ted, Audrey Roberts former husband off of the Coronation Street, you know the gay fella that knocks about with philandering Ken Barlow springs to mind.
The reason I took a week off from the trip through the CD's was podcasts etc, but also I really didnt fancy this CD. I thought it was possibly their worst CD, and lengthy at that, so a lengthy CD from my least favourite period...ooh look a podcast on trees, that HAS to be listened to.
So today I returned and was surprised, really really surprised, it was relatively light on the early career filler that I was going to struggle to enjoy, and quite heavy on covers of songs from people that clearly influenced the band, from the well known tracks like Lucille, Johnny B Goode etc, Matchbox and Kansas City. Tracks that defined who The Beatles were on the stage of the kaiserkeller. My favourite track and a Beatles track I listen to a lot is their version of Till there was you and the version on here doesn't disappoint. So 69 tracks, 8 out of 10. Excellent stuff.

Till There Was You by The Beatles

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Billy Talent II

I have had an extended break after the Bank Holiday so it is only today that my commute has recommenced. The thing with the mixing of the CD collections with my wife is that where we have very different tastes it can be a journey that I don’t particularly look forward to, some times it produces gold though in the Frank Black CD, todays CD is Billy Talent’s second album, Billy Talent II (their first album was Billy Talent, and their soon to be released third album is Billy Talent III). My wife adores Billy Talent, they are easily in her top 5 all time bands if not her number 1. For me they are just that noisy band that she used to play loud in her car when she picked me up.
They have this uncanny knack for planning live dates when we are on holiday, this year we are in Greece when they play the UK, last year we were and the year before that, so we ended up trekking down to Cardiff to see them the day before we were due to fly, it was a long day.
Anyway, the album, I always though of Billy Talent as rather 1 dimensional, I understand that description to the uninitiated could be applied to NOFX or Pixies, to the uninitiated. Billy Talent appear to have that 20 something angst, and quite humourless, this was confirmed on this album, on their debut the singer seemed rather bitter, and it still seems to be the case. However this album wasn’t anywhere as near as bad as I was expecting and it was a pleasant soundtrack all in all, its not something that I want to go back to but the songs were OK, as modern punk goes, its good, enjoyable, but not revisitable. 6 out of 10

Red Flag by Billy Talent

Friday, 1 May 2009

Infinity Land

The second of my Biffy Clyro albums this morning, Infinity Land, their final album for Beggers Banquet and in my opinion the weakest of the three that they recorded for the label. It is still a fair album but in my opinion it doesn’t have the stand out tracks that graced Vertigo of Bliss or Blackened Sky.
On this album they seem to have been influenced by their contemporaries as opposed to influencing and that really disappoints, Biffy for me were always innovators and they took the path least trodden, similar I guess to Idlewild’s earlier material or at times the band that rose from the ashes of Symposium, Hell Is For Heroes, but on this album it seems like a glut of ideas has been thrown in and a keanness to please Kerrang readers was the priority.
As I left the album I had been listening to around 10 minutes of silence, after all that’s really what I want to do to get to the secret track, the cursed irritating secret track, so for the songs 6 out of 10, for the lengthy silence between the final song and the secret track, -10 out of 10.

There's No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake by Biffy Clyro