Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Pet Sounds

Today I was commuting in the company of The Beach Boys, the first Beach boys album that has managed to accompany me to Coleshill.
I own on CD very very few Beach Boys albums, I own a lot of Beach Boys albums but they are on vinyl and MP3, but I do own the 1990 reissue of Pet Sounds and that was todays commute CD.
I see Pet Sounds as a bit of a paradox, like it’s british cousin Sgt Pepper, the critics, the monthly magazines, society tells me that this is one of the greatest albums ever made. I consider The Beach Boys to be amongst the top 5 greatest bands ever, so really I should agree with this though shouldn’t I?
I don’t. Not to say that it contains one of the greatest songs ever in God Only Knows, but the remainder are just pretty good. That’s almost blasphemous isn’t it.
God Only Knows alone would warrant a ten though, that song is perfection, but that is thanks in no great part to lyricist Tony Asher, musically it is complicated and marvellous and staggeringly gorgeous but as someone that does not listen to lyrics at all, it’s the words that grabbed me.
If I were reviewing singles or specific songs then that would be it, 10 out of 10, much love, goodnight. But the rest of the album, although good it is only good and although their aren’t any George Harrison contractual obligations on it, there are the odd yelps from dogs and the like, but even that isn’t the reason why its only good. It isn’t even the emperors new clothes, but does is it really as great as the world insists it is? No.
What is good about it though are the songs, outside of God Only Knows, there is Sloop John B, I know There’s An answer, Caroline No, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, the list really goes on, hold on, an album full of good tracks, some are great?
Maybe I am wrong and maybe this album is better than Carl and The Passions – So Tough, maybe it is better than Holland, maybe its better than Surf’s Up, but it sure as hell isn’t better than Party, therefore, 9 out of 10.

God Only Knows by The Beach Boys

Monday, 28 September 2009

The Power of Music

An article in today's Guardian states that during the 'Gulf War' (it doesn't say which one) 40% of Slayer's fan mail came from soldiers stationed in the middle east. I would have loved the article to have continued in this vein, with other stats such as 62% of Take That T-shirts are bought by people who choose, on average, a size too small, or perhaps 39% of all Genesis fans drive Volvos and half of those list Jeremy Clarkson as their favourite 'author'.
But no, the article actually focused on the research work of the gloriously named Professor Pieslak (as if a real-life professor would let his pie get slack, I ask you) of the City College of New York, or CUNY to its mates. He has been interviewing soldiers about the music they listen to while in a war zone, why they listen to it, and how it affects them. He has put some of the recordings online here although I couldn't get them to play. Some of the clip names give serious food for thought; Music in PSYOPS and Shattering the Confidence of the Enemy, Listening to Tupac and Constructing a Sound System in His Tank, Songs He Wrote After He Was Wounded (all from a soldier called Joshua Revak). There's also an interview with a member of the Israeli Defence Force, a chap called Ziv Shalev, and some of his clips are Playing Metallica at Members of Hezbollah, Listening to Heavy Metal Before Going on and Ambush and then, seemingly somewhat out of place A Peaceful Coexistence Between Israel and Its Surrounding Countries.
Listen to Sergeant First Class CJ Grisham here describing the 'use' of Eminem's Go To Sleep, and here talking about how Metallica helped him on patrol.
Listen to The Power of Music in War podcast, and then sit back and watch these two vids and see how you feel.

The Greatness of Here I Go Again

A while back I spoke about the wonderful Kiss and Make Up, the Field Mice song covered by Saint Etienne.
This week I want to talk about the gloriously beautiful song that is Here I Go Again by Country Joe and The Fish.
Originally released on the album, Here We Are Again, this song was first played to me as a pimply youth by John Peel, he muttered some comments as to wondering what Barry Melton (The Fish) and played what would become and still is one of my very favourite songs.
I was aware of country Joe and The Fish only as a brief clip on a festival film with them performing Fixin To die Rag, a song I am sure a lot of people know, 1,2,3 what are we fighting for etc. Then of course there is the fish cheer, there anthem as it is.
These song though they passed me by, as really has Joe McDonald and Barry Meltons other work. I would not really know anything by either of them other than the utterly beautiful Here I Go Again.
As a song it is nothing with the vocal delivery and the guitar, the guitar is so utterly important to this song, without it, well it would just be a good song, with it, it is one of the best ever written.
Its subject matter lies squarely at the telling of the 60’s dream, the 60’s dream espoused by the likes of Hendrix, Cass, Philips and of course McDonald.
Its not a tale of 60’s tripping out though, it’s a story of loss, lost love, losing to the war, and effectively being alone. If the lyrics don’t convey it, that’s where Barry Meltons guitar will do it quite nicely for you.

Joe McDonald, Country Joe was kind enough to answer a few questions about the song.

PD: Here I go again, a beautiful song that seems strangely ignored in the mainstream in favour of Fixing To Die Rag/Fish Cheer, does that frustrate you at all?

CJM: In general most of my other songs are not noticed. But it is great to be recognized for any song in the music business and Fixing To Die is a good song.

PD: I first heard the song on a radio show by the British DJ John Peel’s show in 1988 when I was 17, Here I Go Again was released before I was born, but it still had a huge impact on me, do you see the music of Country Joe and The Fish music as being timeless and with a longevity?

CJM: No. With the exception of Sweet Lorraine, the music has pretty much disappeared, but the song Here I Go Again caught on in England and the Singer/Model Twiggy had a nice hit single of it, as well as the Irish singer Val Doonican recorded it. Lots of people in the United Kingdom know the song who do not know me.

PD: I personally feel that the melding of your voice and lyrics on here I go again, coupled with Barry Meltons guitar can not be bettered as a combination, did you and Barry work instinctively or were you very specific about the sound that you wanted on that track?

CJM: Mostly I just let Barry perform what he wanted and he did a very nice job of playing on that song.

PD: Do you think that lyrically the song captured a specific time well?

CJM: I don’t know about that.

PD: Do you recall much about the recording process? Was it a case of “another album track” or did you feel it was a pretty special song?

CJM: I knew it was a nice song, a bit strange as it’s verses don’t naturally follow one another, but it is a plaintive sort of waltz blues that creates a nice atmosphere.

PD: Do you still perform the track live and if so what is the audience reaction?

CJM: I still do the song and people still like it.

PD: Do you have any plans to perform in Europe soon?

CJM: I got very tired of the Transatlantic journey, but I do miss the United Kingdom.

Country Joe does still perform and more details can be found over at his website, www.countryjoe.com

Here I Go Again by Country Joe and The Fish

Your Favourite Weapon

Your Favourite Weapon was my CD of choice for my commute this morning, the debut album by Long Island’s Brand New.
An album that is massively different to its successor, so much so that possibly one track, Soco Ameretto Lime is the only track that hints at the route they would take on the subsequent albums.
This was my introduction to the band though and Mixtape from this album appeared on a mixtape that I did for my wife, a later mixtape contained the song Jude Law and a Semester Abroad. We were going through a bit of an emo phase at the time.
This album has more in common with the likes of Taking Back Sunday than it has with the namechecking Morrissey that would form the sound of their more recent albums. Taking Back Sunday, particularly early Taking Back Sunday are always a good influence but I don’t know if it works for me on this album. Time hasn’t been that kind to the album and its clear now with hindsight they can do better.
Also on one hand you have clever well thought out lyrics and on the other you do have the track Mixtape which although it is one of my favourite Brand New songs, its so badly written, it kind of makes you flinch. The Promise Ring do an equally bad job on their similarly themed song Make Me A Mixtape. I see a pattern.
However, this is an alright album and its power pop shapes left me wanting more, I didn’t turn it off to listen to Talk Sport so it must be at least OK. 6 out of 10

Mixtape by Brand New

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Beastie Boys Anthology, The Sounds of Science Disc 1

Yesterdays commute CD was the first disc of the Beastie Boys Anthology, Sounds of Science. You might not recall that I listened to the second disc a few weeks ago and didnt think much of it, thats how I roll!
Disc 1 was an entirely different affair, it may have been me, my mood, the tracks or all of the above but if the anthology was a single disc then it could be just disc one and it would be almost perfect.
Disc one has nuances, where disc 2 didnt, it has light and shade, up and down, yin and yang, and of course 3 MC's and 1 DJ, Root Down and Slow and Low. Three of my favourite Beastie Boys tracks.
The only downside to this album is Country Mike and Fatboy Slim, both serve no purpose in my mind and stop straight out Beastie Boys tracks making it on to this album.
Otherwise a contender for the best of the B's. 9 out of 10

Slow and Low by The Beastie Boys

Not Fair

It would be difficult to escape what is happening with Lilly Allens campaign to have filesharers thrown in the Tower, and perhaps how it backfired majorly for her after she was found to have plagiarised an article by Michael Masnick.
My personal take is that I appreciate a need for musicians to protect their potential earnings, but without file sharing every single MP3, CD and LP that I have bought in the last 10 years may not have been purchased, OK someone would have got my money but without filesharing I would not have discovered Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, NOFX, Tenacious D, and hundreds of other bands that have wormed their way into my life.
Anyway UK hip hop artist Dan Bull hits the nail on the head rather nicely and he does it rather cheekily to a Lily Allen tune

Dear Lily by Dan Bull


Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

The nations favourite old person, Sarah Kennedy kept me entertained for the main part for my journey to London, she is like a walking talking version of The Daily Mail, after all she does believe that Enoch Powell was the best leader this country never had. She does play show tunes though and there really is nothing better than zipping through England screaming at the top of your lungs, “Therea ain’t nothing like a dame”.
It doesn’t last long though and as soon as Terry Wogan came a long it bought me neatly to my commute CD, apparently the greatest album ever made depending on the day, The Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Its not the greatest album ever made though, its note even The Beatles greatest album, but considering I wasn’t particularly looking forward to listening to it, it wasn’t an altogether bad experience.
I hadn’t listened to this album in quite some years, I had listened to the NME compiled Sgt Pepper Knew My Father but the actual album that tribute was based on, it may have been around 25 years since I last heard it, I find it quite dull you see.
It wasn’t dull though, I would say that She’s Leaving Home is possibly The Beatles most accomplished and well put together song. Potentially their best song, it caught me off guard a little as it was a song that I hadn’t really given any thought to.
The album as a whole demonstrates extremely well just how good Lennon and McCartney were as songwriters, in all of the songs on this album there are no clichés, they aren’t lazy lyrically or musically, they don’t feel the need to add superfluous “ooh baby’s” and the album fits together better than a jigsaw, carefully compiled running order makes it an effortless album to listen to.
The only downside for me is when they allow George Harrison to have free reign as he does on the tabla and sitar infused Within You Without You. If The Beatles can’t be arsed to play on it, then I think that is rather telling. It only takes one bad apple and this bad album loses this surprising (to me) album a point. 9 out of 10.

She’s Leaving Home by The Beatles

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Todays commute CD was the debut album by Swedish band, Brainpool entitled Soda.
A pretty good album all told, elements of pop punk and indie rock that was reminiscent of Silver sun or the Senseless Things, very harmonic and classic power pop that is sadly missing from music these days.
Released in 1994 I am unsure as to how I first heard of Brainpool, perhaps it was Steve Lamacq, but who ever it was they were responsible for me buying the debut album and if memory serves, the singles that the album spawned. In 1994 I was smitten with Brainpool.
Looking back it harmless inoffensive power pop, with elements of pop punk with classic song writing all the way through.
The downside is that it is so polished, it is major label and it shows, it is over produced and at times vears towards very early Roxette, and that is a very bad thing. This is the fault entirely of the production.
Production aside, as I said the songs are pretty excellent in a Silver Sun kind of way, they are resolutely upbeat and with its Wannadies overtones you do tend to find yourself thinking, in the main, happy thoughts. That could be due to the Lalalalala’s, Lalalalala’s tend to do that.
I can’t really add more than that, I was wondering when this CD might turn up and I knew I was going to enjoy it. Tomorrow my commute is all the way to London so it may be a 2 or even 3 CD day, for now though, soda, 7 out of 10.

Our Own Revolution by Brainpool


The last time, or possibly the time before, that my Dad came out from the UK to visit us in Chile, he went home with about 25GB of my music on a shiny new hard drive. It's taken him a few months to get through it, and a bit like my co-blogging partner here on I Taught Myself How to Grow Old, he is working through the letters. He hit F, G and H the other day, and no doubt armed with a bottle of Chilean red, sat down and put faces to names with a zip through YouTube. It's a bit like the Rolling Stones selling the blues back to the US, as he's sending me the video links to the music I gave him. I have to admit, I had no idea what Freddy Fender looked like.

A quick zip through Fender's life and career is quite extraordinary, as he managed to be in a circus act at 5, get court martialed out of the Marines at 19, have a couple of hit singles as El Bebop Kid at 20, and be a rockabilly known as Eddie Con Los Shades. His real name was Baldemar Huerta, but he changed it to the more Gringo-friendly Freddy Fender.

Around 1959/60 Fender managed to have a hit with 'Wasted Days and Wasted Nights' although he was busted for possession of two spliffs in May 1960 and did three years jail time in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. By the end of the sixties he was in New Orleans, now soaking up the cajun influences to add to his latin, mexican, tex-mex, polka and country roots. He ended up working as a full time mechanic.

In 1974 Fender recorded and released 'Before the Next Teardrop Falls', which was an enormous country hit, and went on to re-record 'Wasted Days and Wasted Nights', which now sold a million. Not only had he crossed over, but managed to have Spanish language country hits. From there he never really looked back, and produced his 'swamp pop' in the late seventies (I love this quote "Although Freddy was a Chicano from Texas marketed as a country artist, much of his formative career was spent in South Louisiana; spiritually Fender's music was from the Louisiana swamps") and the Tex-Mex style Texas Tornados in the late 80's, with amongst others accordian player Flaco Jimenez. They even ended up playing President Clinton's inauguration bash.

The first time I came across Mr Fender was because of his involvement in Los Super Seven, another super group. David Hidalgo from Los Lobos was part of it, hence my interest. They won a Grammy in 1999 for it, and this time there were shades of Cuban, Peruvian and even Brazilian sounds.

You'd have to agree that's a hell of a career. Fender died in 2006.


Also thrown up by my Dad's late night trawl through YouTube the other evening was music by Robert Crumb and his Cheap Suit Serenaders. Now I know Crumb as the artist of Fritz the Cat amongst other saucy seventies cartoons, and I also know him of some excellent music/cartoon books, but didn't realise he picked up the instruments himself. The picture above is the front cover of a really beautiful hardback book which you can read about here, or read about the man himself here. Anyone familiar with the cover of Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company will recognise his work.

Millie Small

This morning I opened my email to find that my Dad had sent me a link, with no explanation, to a nice video of Enoch Powell. In fact, he sent me two Millie Small links, both of which brightened a rainy day in Santiago. Spring was supposed to start today, but it pissed it down instead. I am disgusted at having to get the fleece out again instead of the flip flops. What my Dad might not have realised, and nor did I until I read up on Mr Powell, was that following the oft-misquoted Rivers of Blood speech, he (Powell, not my Dad) made what came to be known as the Morecambe Budget speech, in which he advocated all sorts of free market nonsense. I like the idea of my Dad, who co-incidentally is from Morecambe, sending me links to a Jamaican born artist who now lives in the UK. It has a nice Up Yours Enoch conclusion, don't you think?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

One Fierce Beer Coaster

The bonus disc for my commute to the Aston Villa match (2-0 lovely match, very entertaining) was the Bloodhound Gang album, One Fierce Beer Coaster.
This album predates the europop on Hooray for Boobies and tends to stick to out and out rock/rap.
In all honesty this is Bloodhoung Gang at their most intelligent yet their most peurile, they dont care and tell you as much on "Shut up".

Cause' I don't like you cause you're not like me
And I don't give a damn if you don't like me

This album inexplicably features Vanilla Ice on the track Boom, why I am unsure perhaps its to reiterate it's rock rap credentials, maybe.

What does enforce the rock rap credentials are it's nods to hip hop, in the mix are elements of mantronix, a cover of Run DMC's It's Tricky, elements of The Roof Is On Fire by Rock Master Scott and also the riff to Walk This Way.

Moving away from this you do get the excellent Fire Water Burn, a clever, funny, danceable song that will bring a smile if only for its Pixies nodding verse.

Yo yo this hard-core ghetto gangster image takes a lot of practice,
I'm not black like Barry White no I am white like Frank Black is,
So if man is five and the devil is six than that must make me seven,
This honkey's gone to heaven,
But if I go to hell then I hope I burn well.

For every nod to the Pixies though their is a nod to Duran Duran and on "Your Only Friends Are Make Believe" intentionally I suspect, Jimmy Pop seems to set the whole song to Hungry Like The Wolf. Unsure if that is ever a good thing.

Criticisms of this album is that its a fine line between funny, peurile and offensive and unfortunately although the songs are pretty damn good it isn't a million miles away from The Macc Lads, which is never a good thing. A lot of homophobia, a lot of rascism, a lot of stuff about disability and some very schoolboy stuff about women. Alarmingly for me though I can forgive and tolerate this as this is what you get and expect from The Bloodhound Gang. 7 out of 10.

Fire Water Burn by The Bloodhound Gang

(lots of swearing so not entirely suitable for work)

Friday, 18 September 2009


Friday approaches but tomorrow will be a bonus disc due to Aston Villa playing at home, but for now, the debut album by Canada’s Barenaked Ladies, Gordon.
Let me tell you a little story about the album Gordon. When I first purchased this album, possibly 93 or 94, I took it home and played it and was convinced that it was the greatest album ever written. I played it a lot and with each play it got better and better and better. I wanted to share this great album with my friends, it was so good, they needed it in their lives. The next time my very best friends came round I played them this album and to put it bluntly, they thought it was shit, and told me so. Its shit Peter. As a result of this criticism, I asked them to leave. I kicked them out of my house.
So here we are some 15 years after that incident, for the main part those friends are still my friends and potentially it has been around 10 years since I listened to Gordon. If I have heard it recently, I can’t recall.
It hasn’t weathered well in all honesty, I would be reluctant to side with friends summary of it, but it isn’t the greatest album in the world that the 20 something me though it was. It seems very heavy on ironic name dropping, Madonna, New Kids On The Block, Milli Vanilli etc, and I don’t really like irony. At times its almost like Harry Hill on You’ve Been Framed where he implies that hapless man on video clip is John Noakes or Simon Le Bon. This album is very quick to make comparisons, Brian Wilson or even Yoko Ono.
The songs though are fun and in the main upbeat, borderline comedy on Be My Yoko Ono and If I Had $1000000, considering my love of Tenacious D and Flight Of The Conchords, you may think that I find this side enamouring, you would be wrong, it is these sort of songs that have spoiled this album for me, and that so far is without mentioning the sleeve.
Let me mention the sleeve, its absolutely ghastly, it is dated, “wacky” and awful, I would not by this album now if I was judging it by it’s sleeve, it lends itself to the “zany” songs contained within, but doesn’t hint at the more serious side to this album, a side which has stood the test of time.
As I said, not a bad album, an average album, but if I had a $1000000 I would buy Vampire Weekend. 5 out of 10.

Brian Wilson by The Barenaked Ladies

Thursday, 17 September 2009


As I approach the tail end of the B’s I know that todays offering is the final Bjork CD, her first solo album, Debut. That is unless little ern has bought another one behind my back. I guess I will know over the next two to three weeks.
I don’t really have much to say about this album, its one that I know reasonably well due to the play it received when me and the current Mrs D were courting. I was far too polite back then to say no really, Bjork is not my cup of tea at all.
Debut features singles such as Big time Sensuality, Violently Happy and Venus as a Boy. None of which mean shit all to me, her jazz ramblings on this album, mixed with outdated beats means that an album has been produced that for me has not stood the test of time and makes me wonder, even as her most accessible album, if she really doesn’t care about selling records.
Maybe that’s the point.
Maybe though she has caught me on an off day, maybe I caught her on an off day but at the end of all this I will be glad that I never have to return to a Bjork album. 4 out of 10.

Venus as a Boy by Bjork

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Name Check

Peter has managed to name-check so many artists in the last few weeks that he has shamed me into a post with as many artists as I can muster under one tenuous roof. I salute his endurance for festival going with the kids. If the price of warm beer wasn't enough I'd have to say the complete lack of decent seating now really puts me off. And my God, the price of a ticket. I am the developing world's correspondent for this blog, so the cost of a Leeds festival ticket would keep me in fairly stylish cloth sacking for a whole year. Or possibly a lacoste bag for the Mrs.

Back to that tenuous roof (rather apt given that the ceiling in the second bedroom is being re-plastered today). A Friday night pint with guest poster Tom C (him of the Funky Chicken Rufus Thomas post) had me reminiscing about favourite and formative gigs of the past. A good reminisce is about all I can do on the topic of live music, as my gig-going days are well behind me and highly unlikely to return.

Of a thousand gigs over the years I'm not sure any will ever compete with my youthful exuberance for the early and mid - eighties Spear of Destiny. My mind plays tricks on me as to how many times I saw them live, although it always seemed to be at Hanley Victoria Hall or Nottingham's Rock City. Certain tracks from the 1985 World Service album can still make the hairs on my neck stand up, given the right mixture of beer consumed and heady nostalgia. Oh to be a teenager again and find something that blows your socks off.

It would probably be around the same time, the early 80's, that I saw The Cult, with Ian Astbury as the high priest of acceptable, alternative, lip-licking Indie-dom. It says something for my honest naivety that I found him to be a mesmeric performer live. He lacked Kirk Brandon's epileptic energy, but oozed a certain class in a daft costume. Spiritwalker, indeed.

Two dismal college going years seemed only tolerable because we went to see The Mission almost every weekend, or at least Pop Will Eat Itself (before they became a t-shirt), or The Mighty Lemon Drops. Every gig seemed to have Balaam and the Angel on the line up, or All About Eve. The Pogues also seemed to be almost permanently on tour, as did New Model Army, who also managed to play Telford Ice Rink at what must have been a low point in their career.

Oddities in my gig-going teens include what appeared to me to be an OAP fronted UK Subs, and a very scary evening where I think I may have seen Conflict. Sigue Sigue Sputnik at Birmingham Powerhouse was a great evening, not that I remember any of it, and Mr Lydon's PIL outfit in about '86 were excellent.

'86 saw me at Glastonbury for my one and only visit, where Billy Bragg lived up to all my expectations and played a stormer. The Cure were largely unengaging, although the pissing rain didn't help. Christy Moore was a giant amongst the pygmies of Level 42 and Simply Red on the main stage, although the Housemartins were hilarious.

The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974

Hello David Bowie! That’s what I say in my head every time I read the words David Bowie, a lot of the time I say it out aloud. I blame the Flight of the Conchords for that. David Bowie’s The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974. It is his best era after all.
Listening to this album made me think that David Bowie is dun alf sound like his contemporaries, then it dawned on me maybe they sound like him? The period this album encapsulates saw Bowie release what is considered his most triumphant and great songs, there aint no Tin Machine on here. On the other hand though it seems that period between 69 and 74 was a very shallow time for the british popperatti as really Bowie sounds like The Stones, like Elton, like Bolan, like Iggy, or maybe they sound like him?
I think I came by this album as one of my 5 free albums after signing up with Britannia Music Club, I had this and a Weller album amongst other things, the Weller album could possibly have been donated to a Weller loving brother, time will tell.
It really is a case of it does what it says on the tin, it is the best of Bowie and although the dates are trying to narrow it down, its neither here nor there.
I think what is more telling, even though it is perfectly alright, at time of writing I am sat listening to Mariachi El Bronx’s album and not having another whizz through of Bowie. A friend of mine said that Bowie only produces a great track every five years, and that may be the case outside of 74, it may be a little generous outside of 74, but as it goes and if you want all the memorable hits, this is the album for you. 8 out of 10.

Sorrow by David Bowie

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Deja Entendu

Before I tell you about todays music for pleasure, I must add that my wife also can listen to a song endlessly, and she can exist in her car with one CD for an entire year.
That all said, Brand New's second album, Deja Entendu was the for one day only CD in my car.
Deja Entendu means already heard and it would be quite easy, but ultimately wrong, to say this has all been heard before. As albums go, as leaps between debuts and sophomore releases go, the difference between Deja Entendu and You Favourite Weapon is huge, both excellent, but ver much different.
Where Your Favourite Weapon saw the band shaking off the dirt from their boots after visiting punk town, post rock street, Deja Entendu, although wallowing in self pitying emo-isms, it also tips a nod to the likes of Conor Oberst.
So what of the album? If you think that you know the album, because it is brand new, because it was released in 2003 and rode the crest of the emo wave that was popular at that time, becuase you have some preconcieved notion of what THIS kind of album will sound like, without actually hearing it. I ask you to go find a copy and listen to the entire album.
I absolutely adore this album, it has been many months since I heard it, potentially a year or two, it was the soundtrack to many journeys around the time of its release and I have a lot of happy memories associated with it.
Jesse Laceys songwriting on this album is enough to show him as an immense talent, both lyrically and musically and his turn of phrase and wordplay puts the likes of Bragg and Morrissey to shame. Morrissey is always an influence for Lacey, but not in a painfully adoring way like The Ordinary Boys, Lacey's tribute is understated and he tries to capture the forlorn elements of The Smiths.
Singles off this album, The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows and Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades although their 2 career defining singles, this album holds better tracks within its digital walls, notably, The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot and Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis. Not to say that is all that this album has going for it, it has more. All in all start to finish it is a sublime album, extremely good and one in my opinion they haven't equalled....yet. 10 out of 10.

The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot by Brand New

Monday, 14 September 2009

Heavy Heavy Rotation.

My wife has the ability to sing the same song endlessly, over and over again. She has been singing Colin Hay's Beautiful World for weeks, if not months. She also has the ability to listen to the same song over and over, and over, again. She makes the Radio 1 playlist look like they really are just playing at it. MIA's Paper Plane, as featured in Slumdog Millionaire, almost pushed us towards marriage guidance. Orishas are another who have had the treatment, and it is those three that make up the post today, a living tribute to stamina and endurance.


Odelay is the next loosely alphabeticised CD in my collection, Beck’s album and the only one of his I own.
I recall the first time I heard Beck Hansen, it was on top of the pops and he was performing Loser, his debut hit with a band made up of pensioners on Top Of The Pops. He started breakdancing at some point and although I was only 24 it made me feel very very old. I did not get it at all and could not get my head round the sound he was producing. It was at that point an alien sound.
My wife likes to remind me of this, as I now consider Loser to be pretty special.
Beck is a scientologist, which in later years has tainted this album for me, its like its an excuse for his loopiness and his seemingly odd nonsensical lyrics. Kind of like if someone came out as Christian rock, ah, now that all makes sense. For Beck though it’s a little disappointing that he has fallen for all that, he possibly also believes that pro wrestling is real also.
What this album does do though is produce some of Beck’s very best songs, Where it’s at, Devils Haircut, New Pollution are just a few of the singles on the album, but also Lord Only Knows and Ramshackle remind you that for a different generation this guy is as talented as Dylan. Dylan did the whole spiritual thing as well though didn’t he?
Charlie Haden plays bass on this album, and Charlie Haden is the father in law of rock behemoth Jack Black, jack Black being one half of the worlds greatest rock band, Tenacious D, the producers of the D’s debut were the Dust Brothers and the producers of Odelay are indeed The Dust Brothers. That leads me rather neatly to say that without these knob twiddlers, twiddling the knobs, Odelay would be merely OK, but their presence and of course the strength of the songs helps me get past my scientology prejudices and enjoy the album for what it is.
No one really sounds like Beck, and Beck doesn’t really sound like anyone else and this is no doubt down to The Dust Brothers, neither act really got better than on this album, except Tenacious D’s self titled of course, and so it’s a rather healthy 8 out of 10.

Where It’s At by Beck

Friday, 11 September 2009

Adam Ant, Stand and Deliver: The Autobiography

Whilst lapping up the sun on a Greek island my books of choice was the memoirs of Duncan Bannatyne, that Scots fella off of the telly and Adam Ant’s autobiography, Stand and Deliver. Bot quite enjoyable in their own way, Bannatyne and my thoughts on the man are perhaps best left away from here, Stand and Deliver though, let me press on.
A little background to Adam Ant in my life, he didn’t figure massively, it was a person that my sister adored, as did my friend Jon and also the current Mrs D. People around me liked him and his ever rotating band, me, well it wasn’t someone I disliked but during his golden period I was distracted with Abba, and not too put too fine a point on it, Agnetha and Anna Frid in particular. A highwayman, dandy or otherwise, did not float my boat.
This book chronicles Ant’s child hood and youth in detail, perhaps a little too much time is spent dwelling on this period, although it is needed, as it outlines how Goddard became Ant, but it is by no means the period that is the most of interest.
Adam Ants role in the punk movement is covered well and as someone that the first wave of punk almost passed by, its good to see his perception, and his view on that idiot McLarens chicanery and dodgy dealings, and his perception before the chicanery occurred.
Of course we get all the details of Adam Ants life around his 2 glorious albums, and his relationship with Marco Perroni.
What surprised me was Adam believed that his performance at Live Aid was a good performance, I personally believe the very poor performance that he gave was part of the reason that his career tanked so badly shortly after.
I couldn’t work out at the end if I liked him or not, mental illness is documented well and truthfully, I commend him for that as it’s a difficult situation to talk about, however his attitude towards fidelity is pretty bad, as it was with the Ants, when he had enough he discarded them and moved on. He was very blasé or so it seemed about changing lovers or musicians and these were the situations that maybe made me like him a little less.
Don’t get me wrong Adam Ant is a likeable fella and after all he didn’t kill anyone, but when you have someone like Merrick, Miall and Tibbs all contributing to his success and they were all let go when an album was finished being promoted, and this was the case for pretty much all material prior to this album, you just wonder is Adam Ant reall as nice as he makes out?

Who knows, but an enjoyable read if you have an interest in 80’s pop. Adam Ant : Stand And Deliver

Mermaid Avenue Volume 1

Time is usually a healer and in the interim between Medulla and todays commute album, Mermaid Avenue Volume 1 by Billy Bragg and Wilco. I may have realised that my words regarding Bjorks a cappella album may have been harsh. If anything they were too complimentary. Its still a dreadful brain scarring album.
Mermaid Avanue then. Many months ago when I reviewed the second volume of songs I touched upon my feeling that I didn’t think Bragg offered the authenticity that I was hoping for. It still exists, but as I think Billy’s contribution to this album isn’t as prominent as the second volume, it is a surprisingly good effort.
The album came about as Woody Guthrie’s daughter wanted someone to interpret the lyrics that her father had left, but instead of the peggy-o ramblings of some earnest young folkie, arran sweater and beard, she wanted a contemporary take that Billy Bragg and Wilco would afford the songs.
Assisted on this album we have the beautiful Natalie Merchant formally of 10,000 Maniacs perform lead vocals on the hauntingly beautiful Birds and Ships. A song that could be her own and this was perhaps the catalyst in her interest in folk music at the start of the millennium.
Tweedy again produces the authenticity and and again you believe what he has to say, but surprisingly you also get a sense that Billy Bragg may have wandered through the dust bowl and he may have lived the life of a hobo in the mid west.
All in all as I return to work, an enjoyable album to ease me into the blunt end of the week. 8 out of 10.

California Stars by Wilco

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Medúlla the 2004 album by Bjork today on the commute. When God writes the book of life and it comes to bjork, because of this album there will be a gap between Bjørgvin and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Shitter than a shit flavoured shit stick from the shit shop. 0 out of 10

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Leeds Festival Day Two

Day 2 I was woken from my dreams of Claire Nazir by a neighbouring tent telling all and sundry just how good The Prodigy were, not the actual tent as outside of HR Puffenstuff, that is just fantasy, the person in the tent decided to tell people, loudly, that The Prodigy were excellent and as far as men that shout over their own records, they were right up there with the best of them.
Enough of that though, I had an appointment with a Welshman that likes to sing in an American accent, he wouldn’t be the last today but kicking things off for day 2 was welsh pop punk band, Kids In Glass Houses. It would be wrong for me to throw stones at them, but they are a one song band and it was evident from their set, it was only a cursory glance up from my Guardian to see them perform their hit, Saturday. Saturday you say? Sorry but it appears Warnock has signed to Villa, carry on Welsh pop punkers. They arrived with an American accent and they left with the same accent, I was a little more enlightened about Serena Williams, thanks wholly to The Guardian and not Kids in Glass Houses.
The sound of young Wales were followed by Noah and The Whale, they of the five years time hit. They were pretty good in all honesty, they did a very laid back acoustic set, with fiddle and piano and it was pretty good to eat breakfast to it. Oddly their hit wasn’t played, but it wasn’t missed, I think that tells you something about the strength of their songs. They are a scruffy bunch though, looks like they hadn’t ironed their clothes. No discipline bands these days, Senseless Things wouldn’t dream of entering stage left without a starched collar.
Melbournes own The Living End were to follow, a three piece that I like very much and thought they would truly storm the Lock Up stage with their brand of rockabilly punk, as it goes they played the main stage and were placed higher than they should have been and as such, died a little death. Well maybe not, but it didn’t translate and any form of intimacy was gone before their sound had hit the back of the security guards head. Wrong stage, wrong time.
Some Scottish men came on afterwards, they muttered something I didn’t understand and then played a song, muttered something else and played more songs. I did not understand a single word of The View’s thick Dundee drawl. The songs were OK, well the songs from the first album were OK, performed well and enjoyable, songs from the second album were on the whole shit and a pain to listen to. I suspect they will be dropped from their label and split up within the next 12 months. And the drummer looked like Iggy Pop, facially and bodily.
Now a toss up between watching Brand New or slipping into the arms of Morpheus back at my tent to catch up on the sleep The View were trying to deprive me of. Back to the tent it was.
I hightailed it back a short while later to watch the absolutely stunning Vampire Weekend, the first real party performance of the weekend, spent in good company, great sounds and so far the best music of the weekend, drawing pretty much exclusively from their debut, and playing Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma etc, I threw shapes with the best of them and it shook me awake in the best way possible. Almost African guitars would not have sounded out of place on one of Kershaw or Peels shows. A great set, very enjoyable.
How could you follow that? Well I guess the woefully low down on the bill Yeah Yeah Yeahs could follow them, a band that I have seen before and enjoyed, to an extent, but not a massive extent. This set however was an untouchable set drawing on the best tracks from all three albums. Gold Lion, Maps, Date with The Night, Heads Will Roll etc. Maps in particular was amazing to hear and extremely beautiful, this was pretty much the first festival I had been to without my dwarfish sidekick and Maps poignancy was not lost. Karen Oput everything into her performance and the audience responded well, as I said woefully low on this bill.
Following them was Bloc Party, a band I find dull and having seen them twice before, did not relish a third visit to the buffet. I was wrong, Kele was a fantastic frontman, relaxed, charismatic and putting a lot into his performance. Just enough banter without being over the top. It seems I knew more Bloc Party songs than I thought, every one seemed familiar, do I watch too much MTV2 perhaps? Who knows, but it seems that they have earned their place as second headliners and made a great full stop to my evening in front of the main stage. I had to hightail it out of there before the maudlin fog that is Radiohead engulfed me.
A dash over to the Radio 1 stage to see AFI and for an old man, albeit one that is younger than me, Davey Havok still have some moves and performing a set that draws on an entire career, it was quite nice to watch. Lost Prophets followed them and I was a little bored to be honest, little did I know at this point it would be the last band that I watched, but they were boring, another welsh act that likes to talk in an American accent. I wouldn’t say dreadful, but I have watched them before and they were dreadful then and there has been little improvement.
Day 3 never materialised, one by one my group of friends packed up to beat the Sunday night trouble, and a scout over the line up influenced my decision to return home a day early.
In all it had been a good weekend for music, some real surprises in Bloc Party, some disappointments in Snuff but on the whole, a good weekend. Never again though.

Leeds Festival Day One

As mentioned, I took my 38 year old behind to a festival this weekend, a festival aimed at people my daughters age, I went with people who are a little older than my daughter and I sneered at people younger than my daughter. I don’t hate the young I am just jealous of their youth.
The site itself starts as quite a nice park and by the end it resembles (apologies for the cliche) a scene from a apocalypse now. The patrons famously have little respect for their surroundings, the property of their neighbours or indeed their own property.
Living at Leeds or Reading is extremely expensive, after you have paid your £180 for the ticket, you are looking to pay 3.90 for glass of cider and 4.10 for a cup of wine. Food as a minimum for a processed burger and chips will leave very little change out of 7.00.
What of the bands then, after all this is a blog about music and not the economics of dining at a major UK festival. So to the bands.
Friday started with Mariachi El Bronx, the side project of LA based punks, The Bronx. Mariachi El Bronx isn’t a comedy side project it’s a genuine outlet for mariachi music and a fine outlet it is too. The album is superb, a real must and it does reveal the more considered and melodic side of The Bronx, although they never treated us to their fantastic version of Prince’s Let’s go Crazy, they did however go through the highlights of the album, a great start to the weekend.
After them Fightstar came on, did their thing, I noted that they had gone from a rock version of Busted to MEN, Charlie seems to have grown up and forgotten to shave, it all seems a little 2005 doing the shouty rock I rather liked then. I can’t watch all of their set.
I don’t watch all of Fightstar’s set, I head over to a tent to watch a band called Delphic, a rather chilled out electronic outfit that from the two songs I watched, were quite nice all told, although they do a thing that I hate, dance music for rock fans, it’s an agreeable precursor to Spinnerette.
Spinnerette are the new band Brody Dalle the former singer in The Distillers, former wife of Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, now the mother of Josh Homme’s child. The Distillers are responsible for one of my favourite albums of all time and one of my favourite gig’s ever, the Spinnerette album on the other hand was a bitter disappointment. Not enjoyable, far too heavily influenced by Homme, a dreadful dull plodding journey through bad indie rock. Live though the album seems to have a life of its own, it grows and shakes off Hommes influence, it is closer to The Distillers sound than it is to QOTSA sound. There is a growl in her voice and a little aggression that was seriously lacking on the recorded version. Brody was however looking worse for wear, maybe the “problems” that have blighted her earlier career maybe back, I hope not.
After a very enjoyable set by one Homme connected band, it was back over to the mainstage to see my second of three Homme connected bands, in Eagles Of Death Metal, coincidentally a band that I saw supporting The Distillers, with Homme on drums at the aforementioned best Distillers gig. Today however the ginger fella was missing from the drum stool, it was some nameless man. Oddly though, you don’t watch Eagles of Death Metal (thusly named due to the fact that if they were a death metal band, they would be The Eagles of death metal) for their drummer, Jesse is a hell of a frontman, even when they are pounding out their shitty run of the mill rock blues that is a hybrid of ZZ Top, AC/DC and Jet, the frontman lifts it slight over the average mark, the only real highlight is I Want You So Hard, but I did have one eye on the time.
Next over to the punk stage for a little bit of Snuff, I caught the end of Municipal Waste, a thrash hardcore band who seemed to say “Municipal Waste will fuck you up” a lot, I made sure I stood well back from the circle pit as I wasn’t really in the mood to be fucked up, by Municipal Waste or anyone else for that matter. They soon left the stage when they saw my indifference, or they had completed their allotted time slot, I suspect the former.
Snuff, a band that were my number one band to see at this festival, after the fantastic set supporting NOFX earlier in the year I was very much looking forward to this one. I needn’t have bothered, it was a lacklustre set played to an indifferent audience. They were it seems swimming against the tide and the tide was a bit of a tsunami, it disappointed me really. When they supported NOFX, it was a perfect set, not so much at Leeds and it was with heavy heart I left the Lock Up Tent.
I like a lot of other people had heard that Them Crooked Vultures were playing Leeds, they weren’t on the programme but they had been doing secret slots at European festivals in the days before hand. Them Crooked Vultures are Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. A look in the running order told me that there was a huge vulture sized hole between Patrick Wolf and You Me At Six. Worth a punt I thought and so from one side of the arena to the other on a bit of a whim. As it goes, the whim was correct and I arrived in time to see an overhyped band knocking out sub par Queens of the Stone Age songs, so I considered my options, do I stay and listen to this shite or do I join friends watching some other shite that I at least know the words to.
Back to the main stage it was for the remainder of The Courteeners set, and on the whole it was good, I quite like them you see and they performed admirably, they have had that second album make over though that bands have between first successful album and the second one, but musically they had me shuffling from side to side like a granddad at a wedding, them’s the shapes I throw.
No time to sit around though, as it was off to see Hockey. I had heard Hockey on Radio 2 and 6 Music and I liked what I had heard, a very definite 80’s influence in the track or two that I had heard, but a good eighties influence, think more “Live it up” than Mantronix. They really didn’t disappoint, one of the most enjoyable bands of the weekend, a hell of a lot of energy and although the rain may have driven a large proportion of their audience into the tent, they stopped long after the sun had started to shine.
A small breather and luckily managed to catch only one song by the honking idiot that is Ian Brown, one song confirmed to me that he can’t sing, lacks stage presence, presents no worth to modern music and all in all one song that I heard, was a song too many.
He is gone and professional northerners Maximo Park take the stage, blimey that Paul fella bounces about a bit! He is the indie Edge though, sporting a bowler throughout I assume he thinks we don’t know he is balding, it happens to us all but it is the thought of him being the indie Edge that distracts me from the task in hand. They were however excellent and a joy to watch, turning in a great performance, better than men younger and hairier than them. An excellent addition to the bill and playing Acrobat, a truly beautiful song was a great great addition to their set.
Now at this point everyone I am with is settling into watch old men shout over their own records, or as they are billed, The Prodigy, dance music for people that like rock music, I would rather swim in the long drop toilets. Glasvegas is the option open to me, so Glasvegas it is, I am early though and its new kids on the block for me, not literally, its actually White Lies, the band that is. Not really my thing, the front man lacked any humour, very straight faced, almost miserable, however they were very very polished, very professional and I would say that within 2 years, with their Killers-lite tunes, they will be headlining a major festival in the UK.
Glasvegas then. I didn’t see them, well not properly, it had been a long day, I was tired and so I caught one song and then went back to my tent. Day one, busy as a wee busy thing, middling results.