Friday, 31 July 2009

Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian was the in car music today. An album that always makes me think it’s the soundtrack to a Stanley Baker film, Perfect Friday if we are going to be specific.
Its an album that starts stray from their Nick Drake influenced roots and picks its influence from 60’s pop as opposed to 60’s folk, there is even hints of northern soul on here.
Stay Loose diverges from both sounds in that its almost 70’s new wave/80’s synth pop, at times sounding like former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman. It’s a diverse album on the whole, but still retaining the Belle and Sebastian sound.
When I first heard this album I was a bit unsure but repeated listens has made me realise it is one of their best albums, stronger than the Life Pursuit, and as good as Boy With The Arab Strap, maybe.
This would normally be the last of the week, but as I am working over the weekend you get two bonus discs, I daresay it will be Billy Bragg, this though, this gets 8 out of 10.

Roy Walker by Belle and Sebastian

Thursday, 30 July 2009


Selmasongs today, the one and only Bjork album that I like, and I do like it. It was the 2000 soundtrack to the Lars Von Trier film, Dancer In The Dark.
Now the reason why I like this album may be because of many reasons, maybe its because Bjorks vocals on this album are as close to her vocals on The Sugarcubes material, maybe because it’s the soundtrack to an outstanding film, maybe because the songs are pretty good, or maybe it weighs in at 7 tracks long.
Along those 7 tracks I do have to put up with Thom Yorke so its not the walk in the park that is assumed, thankfully his presence isn’t too great and is merely an interruption, you know like Adrian Chiles on The One Show, its worth suffering him for the opportunity to see Morrissey being asked fucking inane questions.
Cvalda features the fragrant Catherine Deneuve, who doesn’t look like a mole with a shit haircut that looks like her mum has done it, but this isn’t about Thom Yorke, Cvalda uses the noise of the factory for its backing and you may assume that its some man shouting something about Jordans boobies or the terrible state of immigration in this country but no, you would be wrong, Mark Bell, the producer has quite cleverly got industrial sounds not only to back Bjork but also in a way got Bjork to create sounds that fit in with the scenes in Dancer In The Dark.
New World appears twice on the album, as the opening Overture and the final track and the normal run of things, effectively the same Bjork track twice on one album that would be a fate too nasty to comprehend but as this is my favourite Bjork track (admittedly it’s a very shallow pool) it is a bit of a delight.
So a great mini album, thoroughly enjoyable, start to finish, that soundtracks a ridiculously good film. 9 out of 10.

New World by Bjork

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Whatever and Ever Amen

Ben Folds is filed under F, obviously, Ben Folds Five grace the B’s. Its been 3 months of B’s so far by the way and I don’t want to upset you but we are I think only half way through. Soz.
Ben Folds Five’s Whatever and Ever Amen, the second album by the band released in 1997.
I have already spoken about Ben Folds and how I learned about him and indeed what my favourite Folds songs are, I could repeat myself and blame my age, I could tell you about the first time I had a banana?
So any how, the album is quite different song to song, you have these rather mournful ballads then you have these upbeat stompers, on one hand you have a bullied kid plotting his revenge on One Angry Dwarf… and the other we have his retelling of an abortion. The abortion is highlighted in the song Brick, but its more than abortion, Darren Jessee's chorus seems to hint at a dissolution of a relationship. Maybe? I don’t know.
The rest of the album veers between pretty solid to pretty fantastic and was a pleasant surprise this morning as I thought it was going to be more bloody Bragg. Half of it is my favourite Ben Folds Five album, hald of their debut is my favourite BFF album, does that mean it merits 5 out of 10? Don’t talk rot. 8 out of 10.

The Battle of Who Could Care Less by Ben Folds Five

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Parklife today, yet more textbook Blur, extremely popular album and one that has been the soundtrack to my shape throwing on too many occasions to mention, just add alcohol and “bank holiday” and I truly believed that Strictly Come Dancings loss was Wolverhamptons gain. Wolverhampton said “cheers mate but we are good for 30 something shape throwing tubbsters” bastard Wolverhampton.
As mentioned earlier in the week, its dated, its Blur by numbers and regardless of what you think I think the likes of Girls and Boys and Parklife are a million miles off their best work. They are a million miles off the best on this album.
This isn’t a particularly bad album, there are tracks on the album that I like, but that surely doesn’t make it a great album. It may be the best of the Britpop era….released in 1994….thats the third album… a band fronted by Damon Albarn. With hindsight though, its merely an average album.
Whats does make this good though are the green shoots of quality songwriting showing through with To The End, the album version is sans Francois Hardy, but avec Laetitia Sadier de le Stereolab. The Hardy version with all of its rum French vocals really does top the album version.
This is a low is another high point on the album, taking its lead from the shipping forecast, and running with it. End of the century and Bad head again are stand out tracks, that make this album ok, to pretty good, nothing more. 6 out of 10.

To The End by Blur

Monday, 27 July 2009


If the only music that existed in this world was Bjork, then todays commute CD would be king. It would be played constantly and celebrated as the pinnacle of recorded sound, out of Bjork it would be 10 out of Bjork……but it isn’t the only music that exists in this world, life, thankfully, isn’t that cruel.
That paragraph does however give you an indication of what I think of this CD when compared to Bjorks other releases, it is the best, well, it isn’t the best, but it is better than anticipated. Selma Songs is better, but we aren’t playing Selma Songs, we are playing Post.
Lets discount It’s Oh So Quiet from this album, it’s a big hit that everyone knows and forever tainted by Janice Battersby stomping all over Celebrity Stars In Your Eyes, trying, vainly to recreate the violent diminutive Icelander. 10 out of 10 to Janice for trying but unfortunately you have destroyed any credibility that song may have had.
The remainder of the album, its not bad, which shocked me, its better than other B’s and it surprised me in places. Sure Bjork did her trick of getting a song, making it sound like an intro and stringing it out for 4 minutes, she likes songs that sound like intros. Alas the intro to Katrina and The Waves, Walking on Sunshine isn’t represented, its purely intros to Bjork songs.
I think what Bjork needs is someone, Quincy Jones, or Phil Spector to produce her and not take any of that avante garde rubbish, sing proper you puffin eating nutter. As it goes though 6 out of 10.

Hyperballad by Bjork

Friday, 24 July 2009

Modern Life Is Rubbish

Today my CD of choice was Blurs second album Modern Life Is Rubbish, on paper this shut be a clear 8 out of 10. On paper. Lets talk about Blur for a moment.
People that I know and have had the pleasure of meeting Damon Albarn state that he is, not to put too fine a point on it, a shit of the highest order with an ego the size of Manchester. I have never met him, but would probably imagine that this is the case. The Drummer in Blur is a gentleman called Dave Rowntree, he flies planes and tries to get elected as a labour councillor, I can stomach the planes bit but the labour thing, well lets not get into politics. Alex James, I read his biography, a bit of a blur and ended up despising him, a truly selfish man with the morals of an alley cat that was an appalling boyfriend and who, it has to be said only has the cheese going for him, I quite like Graham Coxon though. So that’s Blur and my opinion of them.
I never really heard this album at time of release, I was working in the cocooned world of Butlins at the time and although I bought one or two singles, I never actually bought the album until I had bought the follow up, Parklife.
To be honest, I am not keen, it’s a bad album, really it is. Albarn is doing that dreadful thing that Ray Davies does so well of making the songs about people, Albarn explores it more on Parklife and the singles B-sides but here its clumsy and not engaging in the slightest. It makes, amongst other things sound dated and that’s what you get when you attach your self to a scene.

There was pressure on Julian
Pushing trolleys in the car park
From B to A then back to B
Pressure on Julian

Pressure on Julian

Not just Pressure on Julian though, the whole sound of the album is rather contrived, distancing themselves from the baggy sound on their debut Leisure, they could see that dead horse was flogged and they had to change for album two, as it is, the songs do not stand up, sure the singles are fairly inoffensive in Sunday Sunday, Chemical World and For Tomorrow, but they are extremely one dimensional singles. With hindsight its reasonable to assert that Albarn didn’t really hit his stride with his songwriting until the last two albums, moderately enjoyable songs such as This Is A Low from Parklife or Villa Rosie from this album, The Universal from The Great Escape, maybe a handful of songs more from those albums but as a band they never wrote great songs consistently until 13 and Think Tank.
So a disappointing album, a bad album, an album by a band trying to hold on to a record contract? Who knows 4 out of 10.

Villa Rosie by Blur

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Cheshire Cat

I listened to the debut album by Blink 182 today, Cheshire Cat. Less puerile than the albums that followed and not chock full of hits. Enough for me though.
Notable tracks are M+M’s and Carousel, but there is a little more to it than just those songs, you delve into it and it does reward. Although there isn’t a single track on it I don’t love, just because of the quality spread across their subsequent albums, it is my least favourite of theirs and as such the least played, but Blink 182 on a bad day is better than most on great days.
This album features Scott Raynor on drums, their little know first drummer, replaced by Travis Barker some time later and also initially they were called Blink but some dodgy British indie band made them change their name, such is the power wielded by dodgy British indie bands, unless you are called Suede, The Beat or The Charlatans. All of which is inconsequential when it comes to the debut by Blink 182.8 out of 10.

Carousel by Blink 182

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Victim Of Geography

Do you expect me to sing songs of Love and Politics with a slightly condescending tone with ideals that aren’t based in reality? No I expect you to die Mr Bragg.
Commute CD was Bragg, yes Bragg, Victim of Geography, a compilation of Talking with the Taxman About Poetry and Workers Playtime.
Released in 92 or 93 I think this was the first album that I ever bought of Billy Braggs, this and Back to Basics, both compilations were a fiver, actually it may have been Don’t Try This At Home, the 7” boxset, its all neither here nor there though.
This album has a fine mix of bandless Bragg and banded up Bragg, the bandless Bragg deals with the political stuff and the banded up Bragg deals with the love stuff. Not exclusively but on the whole.
The love element being represented is amongst his very best work, Life With The Lions, Must I Paint You A Picture, She's Got A New Spell, The Price I Pay, and the Politics element is none too shoddy either, There Is A Power In A Union, Rotting On Remand, Tender Comrade, Help Save The Youth Of America. As well as all of that 3 of Billy Braggs most well known songs in Levi Stubbs Tears, Greetings To The New Brunette and Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards, lyrically 3 of the best songs I have ever heard.
But as I have said before familiarity breeds contempt and these songs have become extremely familiar over the past few months as they have appeared on bootlegs, original albums and compilations and the tedium has been turned up to 11.
What I will say about this album is that this and Back To Basics are the very best introduction to his work, you only really need to hear those albums and I think the resissue of Victim Of Geography includes a cover of The Count Bishops Train Train, which is a fantastic song. So on that note. Victim Of Geography, 8 out of 10.

The Only One by Billy Bragg

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

If You're Feeling Sinister

Back to the in car CD’s this week and kicking things off is the Belle and Sebastian album, If You’re Feeling Sinister. Released n Jeepster records in 1996, it was the second album by the band, the follow up to TigerMilk but the first material I had heard by them.
In years to come people will recall vividly where they were and what they were doing when they heard Michael Jackson had died, and perhaps the only time the word similarly has been used with regards Michael Jackson and Belle and Sebastian, similarly I recall vividly where I was when I first heard Belle and Sebastian, and also the second time I had heard Belle and Sebastian. The first time was round at good friend Jons house, he had heard a track on late night radio I think and decided to buy the album, and subsequently make me listen, I sat there in awed silence, music at that point in 96 couldn’t really get any better than that. I duly bought my own copy and made sure that my wife heard it, she didn’t like it on first listen.
I think this album, as indie albums go is one of the most important and groundbreaking there is. It spawned copyists, some of whom still exist today and across its ten tracks it created a blueprint for good indie.
The line up on this album is the best line up and after a few listens today I realise it is as fresh and as excellent as the day that I first heard it.
This is easily a 10 out of 10, and personally I think it’s an essential album that puts you in a poorer position for not hearing it.

Fox In The Snow by Belle and Sebastian

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Hot 8

My Glastonbury 2009 experience continues this Sunday morning, from the comfort of a Santiago sofa obviously. Whoever is picking the bands to play in the BBC area is doing a great job, as it stops Lauren Laverne talking, and the choices are interesting and fresh. The highlight this morning has been a brass band from New Orleans called Hot 8. They put some real oomph into Sexual Healing. Here they are from last year in Paris. Oooomph.

The Gaslight Anthem

New Jersey's The Gaslight Anthem were joined onstage at Glastonbury by their compatriot Mr. Bruce Springsteen, for their '59 Sound. Look at old Bruce here, having a great time. This is quality.

StornoBoss 2009

My Glastonbury 2009 highlights arrived the other day. I see Lauren Laverne is still getting regular work. I've rather grown into liking a bit of Bruce over the years, so was looking forward to a big bad Boss set, then I found the whole thing a bit of a let down. Maybe I'll just stick to Nebraska and have done with him. Everytime he went off on one about the E Street Band I just thought 'Oh put a sock in it', which I'm sure isn't the effect he was looking for, particularly with a set that is a a full 90 minutes plus extra time and pens. And the giving of the cup. But, to be fair to him, here's Johnny 99 minus the pomp of the E Street and all that nonsense, given a folked up big band kind of a stomping.

I'm not sure how many artists set out to be delightful, but that's how I found Stornoway, who, you might guess from their name, are from, yes, Oxford. I can't find the live clip from the BBC, but here is the video for the song they performed. Previous years Glasonbury highlights have included Seasick Steve and others, and this lot are among the best.

Friday, 17 July 2009


I watched Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla yesterday. My word, what a departure from his usual mockney crime capers. This time, it was set in London, and featured villains swearing a lot, and, oh hang on, that sounds familiar. Anyway, it's a good line up, what a shame Tom Wilkinson is totally unconvincing, and Mark Strong completely underused. Apart from the credits I'd have to say that the only other highlight was the music, which kept the viewer awake as the convoluted plot slowly resolved itself and died with a whimper. I particularly liked the rather camp version of Bo Diddley's I'm a Man, by Black Strobe, about who I know nothing. It's like Killing Joke meets Right Said Fred. Wikipedia says that it's 'electronic body music', and that they describe themselves as 'frozen balearic gay biker house'. Who am I to argue?

Ringy Ringy Ringy up the FBI

Kid Harpoon is a singer songwriter from this fair land of ours, Chatham to be precise, although these days he calls London home. He is signed to XL Records and he writes urbane witty songs that will be released soon in the guise of his debut album.
I saw him once at a small festival in Wales, Workhouse Festival and he was the highlight. Last year he sent out an email asking for suggestions for different covers, I suggested The Ramones and specifically The KKK took my Baby Away. He performed it rather fantastically.

The KKK Took My Baby Away by Kid Harpoon

It doesn’t stop there though. My favourite female fronted cowpunk band, The Evangenitals also inject new life into the very same song, below you can see Juli Crockett and Lisa Dee kicking it out on what appears to be a porch. Marvellous.
The Evangenitals are heading over to the UK this summer, notably all over the Edinburgh Festival, but other dates as well. If you have the chance, please go and see them, they are startingly good and you can see all the dates over at their Myspace.

The KKK Took My Baby Away by The Evangenitals

War, what is it good for?

Sun Ra, I must admit that noodly jazz rubbish often cited as an influence by the likes of Bobby Gillespie he of Primal Scream never really moves me, I like my jazz like I like my women, not from Saturn.
My experience of Herman Blount is very very fleeting, nothing more than a mention on a tune a day desk calendar suggesting that I listen to a track of his called Nuclear War. They sold it to me by the promise that it apparently had a choir of children singing the refrain, “it’s a motherf****r” and I think a truer word wouldn’t be said outside of “Gordon is a moron”. That mention though made me download the track and the Yo La Tengo cover, Yo La Tengo being the indie version of noodly jazz rubbish, however they do deliver a rather faithful version of Nuclear War. And on that note, you need a bit of Nuclear War, and it is indeed a mother f****r. Pardon me French.

Nuclear War by Sun Ra

Its a big country

It has been a pleasant week or two off from my CD collection, chained to the constraints of my own rules it was starting to get monotonous, but now I feel refreshed enough musically to tackle the looming Bragg and his other B counterparts. That’s Monday, in the mean time I have been catching up on Podcasts, listening to my weakness, schmaltzy modern country, and any CD recently purchased that fell outside of my self enforced rules. New CD’s from A highlight Antony Harding. From the schmaltz category Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Trace Adkins, the three headed cowboy hat wearing Nashville behemoths. I suggest you would not like these, on paper I should not like these, the blame for liking them lies squarely at the doorsteps of my parents and my sister. My parents for ensuring that I am a fool for pedal steel and songs with titles such as “Yonder comes a sucker” and “With whiskey you sure look like a purdy horse”, and my sister for introducing me specifically to these artists. I am reasonably sure that all three probably own a gun and didn’t vote for Obama. I may be wrong about all of that though. I do know that Brad Paisley has a song about fishing though. His gun owning status is unknown at this time.

I'm Still A Guy by Brad Paisley

Edit: A little update to this regarding Brad Paisley potentially not supporting Obama, I may be wrong.