Wednesday, 1 August 2012
The Melting Ice Caps – Permissible Permutations
Sunday, 3 June 2012
Well, here's the reason for the lack of updates. I've been spending my time on my debut novel and it has now been published. I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2008 and it was then shelved for a couple of years, before further work was done to bring it to its finished state. The back cover blurb reads thus:
“Did you know desire's a terrible thing
It makes the world go blind
But if desire, desire's a terrible thing
You know that I really don't mind”.
Danny didn’t particularly have The Sundays ‘Can’t Be Sure’ in mind when he was thinking up the soundtrack to his Australian trip. It was about as quaint and English as you could get. Yet his sun-kissed playlist faded into the background after his chance encounter with a desired record. From then on in Harriet Wheeler’s vocals ran round his head with increasing regularity as he tried to fend off all manner of petty thieves, corrupt bank managers and disgruntled ex members of the group that made the record in his attempts to hold on to his holy grail. And with a DJ and journalist as his only allies, the odds were stacked against him. As they careered through Sydney and its suburbs and the casualties piled up his seemingly mundane life took on an excitement he could never have expected.
Which hopefully should give you a good idea of what it's about. We've managed to keep the price down to a fiver, so hopefully some of you will find it worth a try at that price. Click here if you'd like to buy it:
Monday, 2 January 2012
Buy Nothing Year update 1
Yesterday Blur's Leisure and Girls and Boys single got a spin. It's remarkable how well Leisure has held up, and it shows a youthful zest and spark. Even then, amongst the singles There's No Other Way and Bang, there experimental side was there in places.
This was followed up by Phosphorescent's Here's To Taking It Easy, a lush new addition purchased from Rise in Swindon at the tale end of 2011.
Next came Cud's Elvis Belt, a b-sides collection from back in the day. Cud are none more indie, but those who let this put them off are missing a treat. The covers of Urban Spaceman and Lola are throwaway at best, but Slack Time, Only (A Prawn In Whitby) and I've Had It With Blondes are northern disjointed indie pop classics.
Finally something newer in the form of Veronica Falls 5 Demos EP, some cracking little arch pop tunes.
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Best of 2011
1. Half Man Half Biscuit - 90 Bisodol (Crimond)
2. Luke Haines - 9 and a half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling in the 1970s and early 80s
3. Frankie & The Heartstrings - Hunger
4. Jonny - Jonny
5. Summer Camp - Welcome To Condale
6. Yuck - Yuck
7. The Lovely Eggs - Cob Dominoes
8. Billy Bragg - Fight Songs
9. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
10. Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
11. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older
12. The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh
13. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Saturday, 31 December 2011
Buy Nothing Year
I have decided to set myself a challenge for 2012, which is called Buy Nothing Year. Now obviously the thought of buying nothing at all is crazy, but the idea is to not buy any new (to me, as opposed to new releases) CDs, books or DVDs in the year.
Over Christmas I have been looking at a carrier bag full of CDs to be listened to, one whose contents have fluctuated over the year, but has stayed at pretty much the same level. And unless I address this, I’ll always be playing catch up. Some albums deserve to be listened to repeated times, and some take a few listens to fully appreciate them. Hopefully doing this will free up time to enjoy the albums I already have more. It’s also one of the reasons I have virtually stopped doing reviews and gigs for now, as I was wading through so much new music and so much of it was pretty awful. Listening to eight submissions takes up the time I could have listened to a good album. On top of this, there is similar pile of books and a smaller pile of DVDs that need attention too.
The other reason for doing this is the lack of space in the house to put more and more stuff.
I’ve no doubt I’ll find this difficult, but it’ll be an interesting experiment. The main difficulty will not be stopping buying new stuff, but avoiding record fairs and charity shops.
This has been partly inspired by the following:
And this article here makes interesting reading in conjunction with this challenge.
Sunday, 6 November 2011
Richmond Fontaine – Bullingdon Arms, Oxford 16/09/11
Empty Room Promotions have served up quite a treat tonight, bringing Portland, Oregon’s Richmond Fontaine to the back room of the Bully. They are here principally to promote their tenth studio album, The High Country, an album that on first listen seemed disappointing, but on repeated plays turns out to sneak up on you and be their best ever. This is quite an achievement for a band on their tenth album, more so when you realise it is more than a concept piece, rather a short story cut up and set to music. The album is set amongst the logging community in small town Oregon, and tells the tale of a secret love between the counter girl of an auto parts store and a mechanic. The weirdos of the community terrorise the young couple and their innocent ways. That this type of album should work so well will be no surprise to anyone familiar with their back catalogue, or indeed singer Willy Vlautin’s three novels.
Willy announces at the beginning that they are going to play the album in full, followed by a brief selection of their back catalogue. It helps that there is an audience of Uncut readers present to allow them to do such things. Deborah Kelley of The Damnations is here to reprise her vocals from the album, and to provide extra instrumentation. She seizes the initiative immediately, with her affecting spoken word opening piece, Inventory. The band run with this, on the haunting instrumental The Girl On The Logging Road and then launch into the gently ferocious The Chainsaw Sea. Angus King Tries To Leave The House swirls and kicks like a toy boat in high winds, disorientating wildly. They even pull off Driving Back To The Chainsaw Sea, the sound of a radio between retuned between awful country stations.
After a short break for beer, the band returns for a run through past favourites. In some aspects this merely accentuates the giant leap the band have made with The High Country, but it also shows they can be a great rollicking alt country bar band too, like a slightly defter Hold Steady. When they play Lonnie from the album We Used To Think The Highway Sounded Like A River, you remember what great things they have done previous to that great current album.
Secret Rivals – Make Do And Mend
As someone who has followed the Secret Rivals path with increasing interest, from the scratchy early recordings and collapsible gigs through to the point where they unleash their debut mini album, I was intrigued to see how they had further progressed. And it is a cracking record. I don’t think anyone saw this coming in the early days, not even myself who had picked up on how much better the band were getting with each release. The vocals are much more effective, Claudia’s lead vocals are much more assured, while Jay’s back up and incitingly harsh yelps are much better controlled than the awkward shrieks of old.
The music used to have the roughness of The Wedding Present, but now slots effortlessly among the new indie wave of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and their ilk, while still harking back to the likes of Bis.
If Secret Rivals can keep up the momentum they are currently creating, there is no reason they can’t be the next big thing out of Oxford. Not necessarily chartbound, but a rather nice position of indie credibility.
Make Do And Mend is out now on Kittiwake Records
Secret Rivals website is here
Saturday, 27 August 2011
Foxes! – The Panda Bear Song
Foxes! continue to shift shape, with Kayla taking on most of the lead vocals on this EP. The Panda Bear Song is quite ramshackle yet thoroughly catchy, a sweet piece of lo-fi pop. Alex Badamchi is an old favourite, quite oddly ethereal and insistent in turns. Sailors reminds me of Sophie Ellis Bextor’s pre fame band theaudience, it has those arch vocals and perfect pop melody. Boatswain follows and rounds off their EP in similar fashion.
The Panda Bear Song is out now on Elefant
Foxes! website is here
The Magic Lantern – A World In A Grain Of Sand
The Magic Lantern are a quite delightful little band. I can hear elements of King Creosote in their music, bits of Stornoway too and an overall genuinely lovely and bucolic feel, with gently parping brass abounding but in a non-intrusive fashion. They’re a band you could easily see fitting in at one of the events Fence Collective put on.
Cut From Stone burbles and flows like a babbling brook, while Laura’s Song is sad and maudlin. The music of Laura’s Song sighs with a heavy heart and elongated vocals stretching out every word. It’s a beautiful song, but not one to listen to when you’re feeling down, as it’ll pull on your emotions. The Ship That Washed Away floats along serenely before unexpectedly crashing on the rocks near the end, dissolving into a cacophonous cascade. Shine A Light On feels like a jaunty show tune, something like Neil Hannon might write, but complete with a reggae-tinged breakdown in the middle. Patriots has a raggle taggle Decemberists feel to it. There follows some more rather lovely tunes, nothing too odd about these, with The Magic Lantern seemingly settling down into a comfortable but not dull formula. Finally Romeo and Juliet (III) is a downbeat lament on a rather splendid album.
A World In A Grain Of Sand is out now on Hectic Eclectic Recordings
The Magic Lantern website is here
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Pocketbooks - Promises, Promises
Promises, Promises is a free download available here
The album, Carousel, is out in September but their label Oddbox Records are shipping advance copies now. Order here
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
A novel idea
Airship – Kids
Kids is out now on Play It Again Sam
The Airship website is here
Deportivo – Neighbourhood
Neighbourhood is out now. Find Deportivo on Facebook here and Twitter here
Friday, 15 July 2011
Findlay Napier & The Bar Room Mountaineers – File Under Fiction
File Under Fiction is out now and available from Findlay's website
Sunday, 26 June 2011
Miss Geo - The Story
Go have a listen at Miss Geo's website, which is here