Wednesday, 31 October 2007
There are many talented Norwegians whose work I've admired over the years: Edvard Munch, Liv Ullmann, Roald Dahl (Norwegian parentage), Roald Amundsen, the 2004 Women's World Curling Championship silver-medal winning team of Dordy Nordby, Linn Githmark, Marianne Haslum and Camilla Holth, Kings of Convenience, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (even though he played for the dreaded Man U), Jan Aage-Fjortoft and Arne Hansen and the Guitarspellers, to name but quite a few. (I dare say I'd add Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Grieg to that list as well if I wasn't such a philistine.)
Anyway, as you'll doubtless have deduced by now, today's Three of a kind features songs by a clutch of Norwegian artists: the very famous a-ha, and the not-quite-so-famous but equally melodic Harmonica and The Ethnobabes.
I know precious little about the latter two bands - other than the fact that the two tracks included here are both absolutely brilliant pop songs - but a-ha are an old favourite who'll always hold a special place in my affections because they came along right at the high-point of my Smash Hits-reading days in the mid-80s and proceeded to release a string of the most memorable chart-bothering pop singles of the time. Hunting High and Low always reminds me of my first ever teenage infatuation, with a girl called Nicola Ling, back in the summer of 1986. (I never did get to snog her, but then adolescence never was all that kind to me!)
a-ha - Hunting High and Low mp3 (left click)
The Ethnobabes - Make Some Sound mp3 (right click)
Harmonica - Rocking Girl mp3 (left click)
Buy music by today's featured bands here and here.
Monday, 29 October 2007
Goya Dress - Glorious (slow version) mp3 (available for 7 days)
She released her debut album, I Am The Boy For You, (also on Nude records) in 1998. It must have had some amount of backing behind it because I'm sure I remember seeing the video for the album's title track on ITV's Chart Show once. Incidentally, does anyone know if that song was influenced by the film Stella Does Tricks? It's been so long since I saw it that I can hardly remember what happens, but at the time I saw the film, I was fairly sure they were linked somehow.
Astrid - I Am The Boy For You mp3 (available for 7 days)
Astrid - If I Loved You mp3 (available for 7 days)
Anyway, for some reason - even after her stellar (arf!) debut - Nude dropped her and at that point she dropped off my radar. After several years without any releases, Astrid Williamson did what anyone without a record deal but with bags of talent would do - she started her own label, Incarnation Records, and released her eponymous second album in 2003. Day Of The Lone Wolf followed in 2006 and you can stream every song from both of those on her website.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have two albums' worth of Astrid to catch up on, so I'll leave you with the ultra-poppy video for Goya Dress's Crush:
Buy Astrid's music here.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
The average age in this student union tonight has probably risen to around 35, and its still only £3.70 for two beers. Fantastic!! We had arranged to pick up the tickets at the venue - but it turns out they hadn't actually been printed so my ticket now is a ticket for "The Mull Historical Society".
"Dont worry ..these will get you in," I'm told.
"They bloody better," I reply.
Anyway, the line-up has changed again. The two youngest people in the hall now are playing guitar and drums before David Gedge makes an appearance to a deafening mid-life roar... and so it begins.
I'm right on the front row in front of Gedgey and co, who are kicking off with Blonde from Seamonsters and a few others which I'm not so familiar with.. It's not really hitting the spot - starting slowly, perhaps? Lets hope that's all it is. They faff about with this and that until what looks like the bunny from Donnie Darko appears onstage with placards counting down like 5.....4.....3....2....1......... GEORGE BEST - because, this being the 20th anniversary of the album's release, they're going to play the whole thing... why I'm here really.
Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft bursts in and it becomes apparent that that's why a lot of other people are here also. A smelly dude next to me is trying to drink two pints whilst being pinged around like a pinball. I hold my own though - even though I'm soaked in lager...Achhh ..who cares??
The whole album gets played and Gedgey is having a chat with the crowd. I shout "How'd you get on in Russia?" (alluding to England's football defeat there last week) which leaves him slightly bemused at first, until the penny drops and he laughs it off. Three hundred Scots laugh with him. Shatner, A Million Miles, Something and Nothing, and Don't Be So Hard all follow - the hits just keep coming, and it's really hotting up as Kennedy comes alive and in jingle-jangles "Lost your love of life.....TOOMUCHAPPLEPIE".
But Gedge certainly hasn't lost his love of life - he's still kicking ass and looking good doing it.
Like Elvis, The Wedding Present don't do encores so the gig ends there, but obviously this is the first time for a few people and they're shouting "more!" while the rest just head for the exit knowing full well the futility of the request.
A very enjoyable evening!
The Wedding Present - Shatner mp3
The Wedding Present - Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft mp3
Buy George Best Plus, featuring 23 (count 'em!) of the Wedding Present's finest moments, here.
Friday, 26 October 2007
Of all the great bands to emerge in the nineties, my favourite two would probably be, in no particular order, Sweden's Popsicle and, from the Netherlands, Daryll-Ann. The latter were actually the first band I ever blogged about on here. That's how much I heart them. Besides, what's not to love about a band who took their name from - and named their first album after - characters from Hill Street Blues?
Despite briefly enjoying (limited) success in the UK in the mid-90s when signed to Virgin offshoot Hut, most of Daryll-Ann's seven albums (they moved to Dutch label Excelsior Recordings after being dropped by Hut in 1996) never even received a release in the UK. This was a great shame as they actually hit their creative peak shortly after parting company with Hut, so they could and should have received far more acclaim in the UK than they ever did. I really can't recommend this band highly enough (or should that be 'too highly'? I can never remember how that's supposed to go).
The band split in 2004, after twelve years, but lead singer Jelle Paulusma resurfaced in '06 with the splendid Here We Are, ten tracks that essentially picked up where Daryll-Ann left off. From it, here's the sublime Serpentine Tomorrow.
Paulusma - Serpentine Tomorrow mp3
And, from Daryll-Ann's penultimate album, Trailer Tales, here's the more-fun-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at Serenades For The Lonely.
Daryll-Ann - Serenades For The Lonely mp3
If you enjoyed those tracks, you'll love Daryll-Ann and Paulusma's albums - seriously! Buy them here and here.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Andy from Pocketbooks has a solo side project, Sunny Intervals, and has recently released his debut EP on WeePOP! Records. The Call And Response EP is just the kind of lovely lo-fi pop you'd be expecting if you've ever heard Pocketbooks. And since the weather has turned a bit grim and miserable, it was a real pick-me-up when this cheery gem in its beautifully hand-made cardboard sleeve, complete with mini insert, landed in my frozen hands. From the second that Let The City Run Away With Us chimes in, it's like a whirlwind romance! You can't help but be swept along with the stories of London nights out, train trips and things. The delicate bedroom keyboard sound is beefed up a bit with guitar backing and piano parts that make this EP really something special.
Sunny Intervals - Sixty Seconds To Fall In Love mp3 (right click and save as)
This project is so lo-fi that the Sunny Intervals website is on Geocities - imagine that! Seriously, there's plenty more tracks to listen to there, but if I were you, I'd head straight over to WeePOP! and get yourself a copy of the limited release Sunny Intervals EP.
You can see Sunny Intervals live on the 18th November at The Enterprise in London. It's a Pop, Look and Listen gig with Misty Roses and previously blogged about Hong Kong In The 60s (who incidentally have just put two new tracks up to stream on their myspace page. Also putting new tracks up on myspace are TMAP favourites Hari and Aino).
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Despite following this up with two more splendid releases (The Cradle Snatch and Venice EPs) in the subsequent twelve months, the success that this unusually melodic pre-Britpop band so richly deserved continued to elude them, and when they finally resurfaced in 1993 with their first (and only, as it turned out) studio album, Cold Water Flat, their moment seemed to have passed. The mildly underwhelming nature of some of the album's tracks only served to confirm this, for me.
A much safer bet is the 1992 US compilation album of the first three EPs, Baby's Angry. As a historical document of the UK indie scene at the time, this CD is as fine an example as you could wish to find. From it, here's the aforementioned Heaven Sent An Angel and Molasses, plus the equally thrilling Red All Over.
Revolver - Heaven Sent An Angel mp3
Revolver - Molasses mp3
Revolver - Red All Over mp3
(songs available for 7 days)
Buy Revolver stuff here here
Monday, 22 October 2007
Popes. We've all seen them. But how many of us have thought to write a song about the little guy in the funny hat?
Don't ask me anything about the song below. I have no idea who they are, where they come from or where I got this song from. All I know is that it's brilliant! It's definitely the best song about choosing a new pope that I've ever heard...
DJ Mitchison & Gargantuan Chums - Pope Versus Pope mp3 (available for 7 days)
The next band are Montreal-based The Lovely Feathers and the following song is from their 2006 album Hind Hind Legs, which you can buy from here. Pope John Paul - where's he from? All together now: Krakow, Poland!
The Lovely Feathers - Pope John Paul mp3 (available for 7 days)
And finally, after previously outing myself as a bit of a folkie, I'm now going to reveal that I have an occasional soft spot for comedy songs. The track below isn't my favourite of Fascinating Aïda's (that would have to be ode to love in the wake of an atomic blast Radiating Love, the suburban middle-class depression of Saturday Night, or the truth about love in Song For Tom), but it is about a pope and I always appreciate imaginative rhyming! Buy the album this comes from for a bargain £5.99.
Fascinating Aïda - My Dream Man mp3 (available for 7 days)
(Narrowly missing out on appearing in this entry were Disco Pope by The Prats and Pope On a Rope by Adrenalin OD.)
Saturday, 20 October 2007
First up, it's the late Roger Troutman's funksters Zapp with 1985's It Doesn't Really Matter, a genuinely brilliant tribute to their musical heroes, including: Rick James, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cameo, the Gap Band, Prince, and....themselves! I first came across this song at an under-18s disco I used to frequent in my youth every Thursday night at a local holiday camp. It may have been on a school night and all over by half ten, but by gum they didn't half play some good tunes. This one stilll sounds as fab as ever.
Zapp - It Doesn't Really Matter (extended version) mp3
Next it's arguably Spearmint's finest hour, their tribute to some great singers and bands from north of the border. Cannot believe they forgot to namecheck Jim Diamond, the Bay City Rollers and Fish though!
Spearmint - Scottish Pop mp3
Finally today it's erstwhile New York new wave/electro/pop/punk combo Le Tigre with Hot Topic, a tribute to loads of their feminist icons. Ahhh, God bless the little ladies eh! (actually, Aretha Franklin gets her second mention of the day here. Sadly she seems to have just missed the cut on Scottish Pop, though.)
Le Tigre - Hot Topic mp3
(songs available for 7 days)
Buy music by today's featured artists here
Friday, 19 October 2007
The Silent Boys is a band that has been going for two decades, which is quite an achievement for any band! Singer/songwriter wallace Dietz, guitarist/bassist John Suchocki and drummer John Morand make the kind of music that would not sound out of place amongst the likes of Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Field Mice, all of whom indiepop fan Wallace counts among his influences. The Silent Boys wear their influences on their sleeves and you know exactly what you're going to get from them - jangly guitars, strong melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Woohoo!
Previously The Silent Boys have released two albums: Beauty Tips (2004) and Wishing Well Eyes (2006), which are both available to buy from CD Baby. The following tracks are from those (in chronological order) and are indicative of the hummable jangle pop throughout both quality albums.
The Silent Boys - Another Lifeless Soul mp3 (available for 7 days)
The Silent Boys - Sonnet Of The Sea mp3 (available for 7 days)
On their new album One Step Closer (since taking so long to release their first full length album, the Silent Boys boys have been positively prolific!), there's a bit of a change in musical direction - not necessarily all to my taste - towards a slightly more sombre sound but there's still plenty of those jangly guitars and honest lyrics to be enjoyed. The tune below is my current favourite from One Step Closer.
The Silent Boys - Sweet Victory mp3 (available for 7 days)
I'm not sure One Step Closer quite lives up to the incredibly high standards set by the Silent Boys' previous efforts, but it's also more of a grower. I like it twice as much now as I did when I first heard it and I suspect if you ask me again in a few weeks' time I'll be even more of a fan!
You can buy One Step Closer by the Silent Boys from CDBaby and listen to more tracks from the album. And you can visit their website here.
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
Spike and me are both currently Mental As Anything. So no change there then.
Today's choice of tracks is an appropriate one, given all this talk of internet forums and the great indoors. From 1994, here are two very different versions of The Outdoor Type by Aussie indie combo Smudge. Which one's your favourite? (anyone who says the cover by The Lemonheads gets a Chinese burn!)
Smudge - The Outdoor Type (electric) mp3
Smudge - The Outdoor Type (acoustic) mp3
(songs available for 7 days)
Buy Smudge stuff here
Get working on your post rank here
Monday, 15 October 2007
The tracklisting is as follows:
American Music Club - Can You Help Me?
Annie Lennox - Cold
Tanya Donelly - Manna
Kathryn Williams - Beatles
Gemma Hayes - Gotta Low
Picture Center - Funcity
Hem - Sailor
Drugstore - I Don't Wanna Be Here Without You
Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
Lisa Germano - Too Much Space
A Girl Called Eddy - The Soundtrack Of Your Life
Picture Center - Forever
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
The Wannadies - Skin
My Morning Jacket - Golden
Stars - Elevator Love Letter
Fiona Apple - Sullen Girl
Belly - Someone To Die For
Mama Cass - He's A Runner
Sarah McLachlan - Gloomy Sunday
The Reindeer Section - Will You Please Be There For Me
Tom Waits - Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
You can download the zipped folder of mp3s from here. (Left click to go to rapidshare.)
RJC: 2nd August 1950 - 15th October 2003
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Formed in the seaside town of Hove sometime in the late nineties, Clearlake are a quintessentially English band. In fact, they couldn't be more English even if they pitched up on TOTP2 decked out in Pearly King suits singing I'm Henery The Eighth, I Am, with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Margo from the Good Life providing backing vocals in matching Union Jack outfits. So, quite English then.
But not English in a jingoistic, Rule Brittania, xenophobic sort of way; more like one of those classic bands that couldn't possibly come from anywhere but England: the Kinks, Madness or The Jam, for example. Great chroniclers of the minutiae of life in Blighty, basically. (of course, the fact that vocalist Jason Pegg doesn't affect some sort of mid-Atlantic drawl when singing also helps a lot.)
This Englishness couldn't be better illustrated than on Jumble Sailing, from their very first single - the track being as it is a paean, as the title kind of suggests, to the simple pleasures of picking up bargains from the local jumble sale. (Sample lyric: We'll be just like two millionaires going out on a spree / We'll know that it won't break the bank 'cause it's only 10p.) Lovely stuff!
Actually, despite the fact that Clearlake have released three albums and several singles so far in their career, it's still this very first single (the other track from which, Winterlight, I'm also including here) that stands out for me as their finest hour (or finest 9 minutes + 26 seconds, if we're being pedantic).
Clearlake - Jumble Sailing mp3
Clearlake - Winterlight mp3
(songs available for 7 days)
Buy Clearlake stuff here
Friday, 12 October 2007
Those of you who dislike whistling in songs should look away now! I know some people have an aversion to it but not me. Unless we're talking about Roger Whittaker. But generally speaking, a little well-placed whistling does absolutely no harm to a good song. Here are three great examples. You know how to whistle don't you? Just put your lips together and blow.
Oh Sweet Music! - Four Long Years mp3 (available for 7 days)
The Seekers - Georgy Girl mp3 (available for 7 days)
And the the classic example. Surely nobody can have anything against this song, can they?
Otis Redding - Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay mp3 (available for 7 days)
Bonus: Dolly Mixture - Whistling In The Dark mp3
Buy music by the artists featured from Amazon and visit Oh Sweet Music's myspace page.
Thursday, 11 October 2007
Now obviously, with the place still being very much in its infancy, there's not an awful lot to see yet, but there's already a great, convivial atmosphere about the place, and it would be brilliant if some of you lovely folk from the Blogosphere would come and join us. You can find the forum here anyway. See what you think.
(above: the Square Eyes team pondering the universe, earlier today)
Still not convinced? Then perhaps we can bribe you with today's ever-so-subtle Three of a kind selection! (all are left click/up for 7 days jobs)
Saint Etienne - Join Our Club mp3
Daryll-Ann - Friends mp3
Orange Juice - Three Cheers For Our Side mp3
Buy Saint Etienne, Orange Juice and Daryll-Ann stuff here
Keep me and Spike company here
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
The Scaremongers are Simon Armitage (yes, that one) and Craig Smith who have sort of been together for around 20 years but have only just released their first single - such tardiness! Anyway, the CD (or download) is a double A side comprising You Can Do Nothing Wrong (In My Eyes) - with guest vocals from Speedy Sue - and Nodding Dog, both lovely pieces of pop.
The Scaremongers - You Can Do Nothing Wrong (In My Eyes) mp3 (available for 7 days)
I can only urge you to immediately buy The Scaremongers' double A side debut single here. It's great!
The story of the band and the single as written by Armitage can be found here.
You can also visit The Scaremongers' website or myspace page
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Their pessimistically-titled mini-album of 2000, The End Of A Beautiful Career, was getting plenty of exposure in the British indie scene - they played at the NME premier awards that year - and the previous year their catchy punky single Why Did You Let My Kitten Die? was voted alternative single of the year by listeners of the Evening Session.
Angelica - Why Did You Let My Kitten Die? mp3 (available for 7 days)
In August 2000 their fourth (and final) single crashed in to the indie charts at number one. Quite right too! It's marvellous, as you can hear below.
Angelica - Take Me I'm Your Disease mp3 (available for 7 days)
In 2002 Angelica supported Babes In Toyland on tour and also released their first full length album, The Seven Year Itch, which was produced by Kat Bjelland. The following track is from that album.
Angelica - Misdemeanour mp3 (available for 7 days)
The band played their last gig in September 2003 and sometime after that Angelica seemed to just fizzle out. Holly is now one half of The Lovely Eggs, and Brigit and Rachel joined up with Steve Wade to become The Adventures Of Loki. To be blunt, I don't think much of either band, which is disappointing.
For posterity, here they are performing their debut single Teenage Girl Crush with the lyrics of Ice Ice Baby over the top in a live session for John Peel.
Angelica - Tenage Girl Crush vs Vanilla Ice mp3 (available for 7 days)
It certainly was a beautiful career.
Buy Angelica CDs here
Monday, 8 October 2007
Some songs are just so unbelievably great that mere words can't do them justice; even being featured in crappy television commercials for clothing companies years after the singer's death can't spoil them. Here is one such song.
Jackie Wilson - I Get The Sweetest Feeling mp3 (link now fixed)
(who knew a fat, Scottish darts player could make such sweet music?!)
Buy The Best of Jackie Wilson for a bargain £3.99 at Play.com
Saturday, 6 October 2007
I'm quite enthused about Hong Kong In The 60s. They formed in London early this year and are comprised of two librarians and an engineer (incidentally, both professions I considered before realising I have no skill in either direction); Mei Yau Kan, Christopher Greenberg and Tim Scullion.
Interesting musically incestuous fact: While at university, Mei Yau was invited to play bass for Electrelane, but declined for fear of incompetence.
Anyway, HKIT60s (as I shall call them, before I wear my fingers down to stubs typing their name) have a sweet sound that, at times, resembles the likes of Stereolab and the High Llamas - yay! Most of the time they're just the right side of noodley but they are also capable of producing songs which are closer to the twee side of things, which regular readers will know that I also love. Generally I think they're a very exciting band for the future and I look forward to being able to buy something they release. Until that time, have a listen to these mp3s, both left click jobs.
Hong Kong In the 60s - Don't Try mp3 (available for 7 days)
Hong Kong In The 60s - Spores mp3 (available for 7 days)
You can also visit the Hong Kong In The 60s website where there are a couple of mp3 downloads to be had and the Hong Kong In The 60s myspace page which has lovely songs to stream.
You can catch them live on November 28th at Lark In The Park, Angel Islington 8pm. More information on that here.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
First up it's Hello Saferide's Annika Norlin playing a song I'd not heard before, I Wonder Who Is Like This One - in a lift! (complete with baffled civilians getting on and off said lift!)
Next, it's those wacky Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, who seem to have gained an extra member since last year, performing another new (to me) track, Middle Class Life, at night, on the streets of São Paulo. (as opposed to the streets of San Francisco!)
Finally, Maia Hirasawa, who Spike wrote about a few months ago (and who was on this tour as part of Hello Saferide), performs the song Crackers from her solo album Though, I'm Just Me, outside some sort of late-night newsagents. (nice t-shirt, missus!)
And, while we're at it, here are some oldies-but-goodies from the aforementioned trio.
Hello Saferide - Highschool Stalker mp3 (right click and "Save Target As")
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names - Rent a Wreck mp3 (right click)
Maia Hirasawa - Gothenburg mp3 (left click; up for 7 days)
Buy Swedish music from the Klicktrack mp3 shop
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
Spike and me went to see Lloyd Cole at Trinity Arts, Tunbridge Wells, last week. And, as you might expect from such a seasoned campaigner, a good time was had by all. I'd kind of lost track of his career over the past few years, but, as he helpfully reminded us: "To those of you who've not seen me in a while, this isn't a comeback; I never actually went away. I just got less prolific and less popular." (or words to that effect.)
He also reassured anyone who'd got the impression of him being a miserable bugger from looking at certain album sleeves that he's actually nothing like that in real life. Quite right, too - look up the word "personable" in the dictionary and you'll see the words 'Lloyd Cole' in the definition bit, probably.
As well as classic oldies (pop pickers) like Rattlesnakes, Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? and Lost Weekend, there was plenty of newer stuff too, most of which I hadn't heard before, but all of which sounded just as good as the Commotions-era stuff. There were also cover versions of Tim Hardin songs and a Tom Waits impersonation that was as hilarious as it was uncannily accurate.
The one trouble I have nowadays when seeing solo performers with acoustic guitars is that it's all I can do to stop myself shouting "Streets of London!" inbetween songs in a Big Train "Ralph McTell" stylee:
I know, I know, incredibly childish. But that's me all over. Anyway, to sum up, Lloyd Cole is still officially brilliant, even if he didn't play Streets of London.
*The Silver Fox thing comes from a suggestion one of Lloyd's friends made to him about a possible nickname after he'd expressed his concerns about his increasingly greying hair. She noted that it's the path a lot of older gents go down and would make him sound more distinguished!
Lloyd Cole - Fool You Are mp3
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Rattlesnakes mp3
Buy Lloyd Cole stuff here
Monday, 1 October 2007
One for teenagers (and overgrown teenagers) everywhere today, to start the new week (and month): a trio of great self-pitying songs. Now get to your room! And don't slam that door!
Mutts - Somebody Has To Be Me mp3
The Trash Can Sinatras - Obscurity Knocks mp3
The Smiths - Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want mp3
(tracks are all left-click/available-for-seven-days jobs)
Buy music here