Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Hailing from Sweden (just for a change), and describing their music as "Hawaiian gutter pop", Pets have had a number of demos up on their website for a couple of years now. The best of these by a country mile is the brilliant A Good Day For Telling Lies, which, typically, seems to have disappeared from the site now after a recent revamp. Bah! Thwarted again.
But wait! As luck would have it, I have an mp3 of this very song to hand. It really is pure pop perfection, and may just be the best song you download all week. Don't believe me? Then get yer lugholes round this, tweacle! (Oh dear, I appear to have turned into Pete Beale here.)
Pets - A Good Day For Telling Lies (demo) mp3 (available for 7 days)
Superb, no? The band have also, as of 2008, landed themselves a deal with April 77 Records, and an official 7" release for A Good Day For Telling Lies, presumably with a shiny new remix, is on the way in September. As Pete Beale himself might have put it - blimey!
Get yer lovely fruit 'n' veg 'ere, missus! Two parnd a parnd!
Monday, 28 April 2008
Sunday, 27 April 2008
The Incredible Moses Leroy - Fuzzy mp3 (available for 7 days)
I was seduced by three minutes of confusingly spiky lyrics disguised as beautiful fluff and, since The Incredible Moses Leroy isn't the kind of name you forget in a hurry, I remembered to seek him out again. Initially when I first read the pseudonym of ex-substitute teacher Ron Fountenberry, I dug my heels in.
"The Incredible Moses Leroy?" I thought, in the manner of a sulky teenager (which I was), "I think I'll be the judge of that thankyouverymuch MISTER Leroy!"
In fact, Moses Leroy was the civil rights activist grandfather of the man behind the music, and the preceding adjective was a nod to Fountenberry's love of comic books. So that's alright then. No ego the size of America at work here!
It's difficult to know where to place TIML (my typing fingers are getting tired) genre-wise. Not that it's especially important to box everything up neatly, but when you're trying to persuade people to download and buy music, it's helpful if you can at least hint at what they're going to get! The next song wouldn't be entirely out of place in the decade to which it refers, and is a nice balance of guitars and a slightly more electronic sound.
The Incredible Moses Leroy - 1983 mp3 (available for 7 days)
Some of the songs on album these come from are really not my kind of thing - too much electro-pop and even a whiff of jungle. But My Best Friend is straight up noise-pop. Come to think of it, there is a hint of electro in there too, though not enough to put me off!
The Incredible Moses Leroy - My Best Friend mp3 (available for 7 days)
Four albums were released under The Incredible Moses Leroy moniker: Bedroom Love Songs (1998), Growing Up Clean in America (2000), Electric Pocket Radio (2001) and, in 2003, Become The Soft.Lightes, which he did by joining with members of El Ten Eleven to form the Softlightes.
You can buy Electric Pocket Radio which all today's tracks were taken from at amazon.co.uk, and visit Ron Fountenberry's current project, the Softelightes, at their website.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
Wikipedia informs us that April '84 was a month in which, amongst other things, the following newsworthy events were taking place: Advance Australia Fair was proclaimed as Australia's national anthem, and green and gold as the national colours; British comedian Tommy Cooper suffered a massive heart attack and - literally - died on stage; the 56th Academy Awards, hosted by Jack Lemmon, were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Terms of Endearment winning Best Picture; and the term of Sultan Ahmad Shah as the 7th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia ended (I'm sure we all remember where we were when that story broke).
But never mind all that, it's the platters that matter here (pop pickers), so here's how the UK Top 10 was looking this week in April 1984:
1. HELLO - Lionel Richie
2. AGAINST ALL ODDS (TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW) - Phil Collins
3. I WANT TO BREAK FREE - Queen
4. YOU TAKE ME UP - Thompson Twins
5. THE REFLEX - Duran Duran
6. A LOVE WORTH WAITING FOR - Shakin' Stevens
7. WHEN YOU SAY YOU LOVE SOMEBODY (IN THE HEART) - Kool and the Gang
8. GLAD IT'S ALL OVER - Captain Sensible
9. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE - Depeche Mode
10. LOCOMOTION - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Hmm, not exactly the most inspiring list ever, eh, readers? It's ironic that, the higher up that chart you get, the poorer (or at least more annoying) the songs become, culminating with Lionel Richie's treacly Hello, the song that launched a thousand sickbags (or was that just the video?). But all is not lost - far from it! - as there were some absolutely cracking songs lower down the pop 40 that week, including these three gems:
I'm Falling by The Bluebells - which was, ironically, climbing up to #15 in this week's chart, on its way to a peak of #11 the following week. This was the Scottish combo's first real chart breakthrough, and it's still sounding as good as ever today.
The Bluebells - I'm Falling mp3
Next up - or down, if you like - is Just Be Good To Me by The S.O.S. Band which, unlike the aforementioned Bluebells hit, was actually falling this week, four places to #17, having just peaked at 13. A classic Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production, this is miles better than the Beats International cover version that topped the UK charts six years later. Ain't it always the way...
S.O.S. Band - Just Be Good To Me (extended version) mp3
Last but not least today is Someday by The Gap Band, which was also plummeting, from its previous week's peak of #17 to 25 this week. This frankly marvellous song features backing vocals and harmonica courtesy of one Stevie Wonder. Just in case anyone was in any doubt as to Wonder's presence on the record, Charlie Wilson, the Gap Band's lead singer, shamelessly namedrops the Motown legend when urging him to "play it, Stevie", just as the harmonica solo kicks in. I think we can forgive him such antics, though, as this song is the absolute bee's knees. (I was saying much the same thing to dear, dear Larry Olivier shortly before he popped orf, don'tyaknow...)
The Gap Band - Someday mp3
mp3s available for 7 days
Buy music by today's featured artists here.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Last time I wrote about Hari and Aino, they had just released a single on Cloudberry Records. This year in March they released their first full-length album on Plastilina Records and I finally got around to buying it a couple of weeks ago. I'd really been looking forward to hearing more from this great Swedish band and I wasn't disappointed!
Here's a couple of tracks from the eponymous Hari and Aino album:
Hari and Aino - Finland mp3 (right click and save as)
Hari and Aino - Seasons mp3 (right click and save as)
There are ten tracks in all and I haven't found a weak one yet! My current favourites are Lousy Day and Your Heartache And Mine, but this genuinely is a high-quality record full of catchy gems. You can hear more from the album on Hari and Aino's myspace page and buy it from Plastilina Records.
I get the feeling that this is one of those albums that I'll never get tired of and love more and more as time passes, which is exciting as I already love it quite a lot! If you like jangling guitars, sweet female lead vocals and direct lyrics (quite frankly, who wouldn't?!), Hari and Aino might be right up your alley.
Saturday, 19 April 2008
For anyone who might not have heard any Action Biker songs before, Sarah describes her music as "baroque on synthesisers". Bloomin' fab it is too - highly accessible synth pop with distinctive vocals to boot. The album, Hesperian Puisto (named after a park in Helsinki where Sarah lived for a while - lived in the city, I mean, rather than the park itself), features a whopping 14 brand new recordings and can be purchased in the CD format for a measly 16.50 Euros from the Friendly Noise webshop or (from Monday 21st April) as a download from the Klicktrack mp3 shop. (links for both these sites can be found at the end of this post.)
But enough of the commerce side of things. The proof of the pudding is in the eating so see if you like the, umm, taste of these musical portions from the album: Be Myself, Love For Sure and A Fight, sung live by Action Biker for a Digfi studio session earlier this month:
Fantastic, eh? Can't wait to hear the album in its entirety!
Buy the Hesperian Puisto CD - buy it! - here or buy the album as a download (from Monday) here.
Friday, 18 April 2008
It was also around this time that Swedish whippersnappers Lucky Lucky Pigeons were releasing their debut Happy Birds Day EP, which included one of the tracks we're featuring today, the fantastically-titled Who Smells Marshmallows. Think of a combination of a kind of Swedish Shampoo, Bis and Kenickie and you won't be a million miles away from the LLP sound.
Oddly, though, this EP didn't include today's other featured song, Keep On Kingie, which is perhaps their best track of all, and which seems to have been around for as long as their other stuff. Ah well, perhaps this one will be appearing in some form on their second EP, which, according to the band's MySpace page is in the process of being recorded right now (or last month, if you really want to split hairs). More news on that as and when it surfaces, but in the meantime enjoy these fantastic blasts from the, er, fairly recent past actually.
Lucky Lucky Pigeons - Keep On Kingie mp3
Lucky Lucky Pigeons - Who Smells Marshmallows mp3
(mp3s available for 7 days)
Visit LuckyLucky Pigeons on MySpace.
Join our club.
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
The Simple Carnival is Pittsburgh-based one-man band (but not in the horn between the knees way) Jeff Boller, and he makes classic pop songs. He makes it seem so damn simple, too! Nip over to his myspace page and have a listen to Caitlin's On The Beach and The Girls Upstairs - don't they sound instantly familiar? They seem so effortless. I absolutely love everything I've heard thus far so I'm about to go and order everything I can from here on The Simple Carnival website. (You can get a CD and mp3 download of most recent EP release Me And My Arrow for $5 plus shipping or just the download for $4. Fantastic!)
But here's my favourite song, which just won't stop playing in my head, and I don't really want it to. It's like the Beach Boys messing around with a long-lost Bacharach song or something.
The Simple Carnival - She Won't Look At Me mp3 (available for 7 days)
It's also a song which will make it onto my potentially brilliant self-pitying mixtape, should I ever get around to making it. For now it's my favourite song of the moment and it looks set to stay that way for a good long while!
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
You know how every now and then a song comes along that you just can't stop listening to? Something you have to keep playing again and again because of its sheer, ineffable wondrousness? Well one such instant classic has entered my consciousness in the past 24 hours - a song which I'm certain is going to remain a favourite of mine for, well, until such time as I pop my clogs, really.
It has everything the discerning comedy pop fan could want: a rousing, singalong chorus; some poorly impersonated Scottish accents (and one real one); bits of a classified Pools check; and even a mention of curling! What more could you possibly ask for?
The track in question - The Highland League - is from blog favourites I, Ludicrous, and, rather thrillingly, is from their brand new (well, actually two months old, but new by my standards) Dirty Washing CD, which can be bought, along with other fantastic I, Ludicrous merchandise, for a trifling £5 direct from the band's official website. I'd strongly recommend you do exactly this, anyway, as the CD is full to bursting with acerbic pop gems.
Here's a full track listing:
1. Argument in the Laundrette
2. The Highland League
3. The Ruby Wax Song
4. Chav It Up With Jeremy Kyle
5. Finding Things Out About John
You really haven't lived until you've heard Chav It Up With Jeremy Kyle!
But anyway, yes, on to the matter in hand. You can keep your namby pamby lowland leagues, here - strictly for one week only - is I, Ludicrous' anthemic tribute to the one and only Highland League. Och aye!
I, Ludicrous - The Highland League mp3 (available for 7 days)
Listen to more I, Ludicrous gems on the band's MySpace page.
Sunday, 13 April 2008
An excellent part of their 6music show is Song Wars, where both chaps write and record a humourous song on the same topic and listeners vote on the best effort.
The subject last weekend was a Kate Nash-style song and they really outdid themselves! Not only did they accurately mimic Nash's sound, they also managed to make their songs very funny. Plus I've not been able to get those catchy tunes out of my head since first hearing them.
Kate Nash really seems to get on a lot of people's nerves. Having only heard about two of her songs I must confess I'm not that bothered either way - I've somehow managed to avoid her without having to try too hard. Apparently Adam and Joe were similarly unfamiliar with Nash and so took her album away to listen to. Hearing the common aspects that they both picked out (affected accent, obsession with bums and complaints about a rubbish boyfriend), such irritation seems understandable!
Adam Buxton's Kate Nash Song mp3 (available for 7 days)
Joe Cornish's Kate Nash Song mp3 (available for 7 days)
If you don't want to know the result of this particular Song War, look away at these websites now!
Adam and Joe 6music website | Adam and Joe fan site
You can hear Adam and Joe's show on 6music every Saturday from 9am-12pm, and each episode will be up on the listen again feature for a week after broadcast.
Saturday, 12 April 2008
I had a great find in a charity shop the other day: a 40-track double CD entitled The Greatest 80's Soul Weekender. Now, overlooking the erroneous apostrophe, the title of this album was always going to prove an irresistible draw for me, being that it contains two of my favourite words: eighties (or, in the ungrammatical parlance of whoever designed the sleeve, eightie's) and soul.
Actually, while we're on the subject of the title and cover, the tagline isn't too clever either: 40 WHISTLE STOMPING WHITE SOCK SOUL GROOVES OF THE 80'S. Eh? Is it actually possible to stomp one's whistle, then? I suspect not. Unless that's some kind of trendy eighties euphemism I'm not yet au fait with, e.g. I see that Stedman from Five Star's been stomping his own whistle again.
The only other possible explanation I can come up with is that the makers of this album are actually encouraging us, a suggestible album-buying public, to literally stomp on any whistles we should happen to encounter - which is a worry, to say the least. I mean, whistles are people too, you know.
But let's not get too bogged down in semantics here. It's the music that matters; and the music on this album is, for the most part, bloody fantastic. Here are three of my favourite tracks.
Luther Vandross - Never Too Much mp3
D Train - You're The One For Me mp3
The Fatback Band - I Found Lovin' mp3
(mp3s available for 7 days)
Buy The Greate'st 80's S'oul Weekende'r Her'e
Thursday, 10 April 2008
There are several things you've probably heard about Vashti Bunyan which are all true.
1. She is a direct descendant of John Bunyan who wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.
2. She and her boyfriend travelled to Donovan's commune in the Outer Hebrides by horse and wagon, but took so long about it that the idea had already collapsed by the time they arrived. It was on this trip that she wrote most of her debut album Just Another Diamond Day.
3. On its release in 1970, it was met with a critical mauling and the indifference of record-buyers. Bunyan went off to live with her family in the Outer Hebrides and didn't realise she had become a cult folk music hero until she typed her name into an internet search engine in 1997. Just Another Diamond Day was re-released in 2000 to much greater success.
4. The title track from Vashti Bunyan's legendary debut album was used in an insufferably smug mobile phone advert in the UK. Please do not hold this against her.
Aside from the beautiful (one might even say timeless) melodies which dig straight into my heart, the thing I love most about Vashti Bunyan's music is the way you can hear every noise her mouth makes as she sings. It gives the kind of intimate listening experience that you usually only get from a live performance. This is folk music at its absolute, moving best:
Vashti Bunyan - I'd Like To Walk Around In Your Mind mp3 (available for 7 days)
Vashti Bunyan - Trawlerman's Song mp3 (available for 7 days)
Buy Vashti Bunyan albums from play.com.
P.S. Please enjoy Vashti being completely unsuited to performing pop music with Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind. Bring back Twinkle and her dynamic performance!
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
(unfortunately the only embeddable version of this I could find has an annoying 15-second advert at the start, so apologies in advance for that)
CAKE - Short Skirt/Long Jacket mp3 (available for 7 days)
Buy Cake stuff here.
Monday, 7 April 2008
So yes, this obsession with celebrity was grating, to say the least; it ran through the show like the name of a seaside town through a stick of rock. A shame, as this programme could have genuine promise if only they'd aim their sights a bit higher a bit more often.
Still, it wasn't entirely without merit. I liked the sketch where the two royal princes tried pretending to be normal guys - they blew things slightly by asking for caviar toppings on their takeaway pizzas and then getting their bodyguards to feed the food to them by hand. Well it (almost) made me laugh anyway!
The sketches about Gordon Brown and David Cameron were both good too - although the producers seem to have felt compelled to shoehorn in as many celebrity references as possible - Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Britney Spears etc etc - into even these small sections of the show, like they daren't risk incurring the wrath of an apolitical viewing public, or something. Very frustrating, and all a far cry from the heyday of Spitting Image, when the politics-celebrity/royal percentage ratio of sketches was probably around 60-40; with Headcases it seems to be about 20-80.
Bearing in mind this new series was created by Spitting Image alumnus Henry Naylor, and that it's being broadcast in the same timeslot, on the same channel and on exactly the same day of the week as its illustrious predecessor, Headcases was probably always going to be on a bit of a hiding to nothing, but I still think we could have expected a bit more from it than the mostly patchy fare served up in episode one. That CGI animation's no substitute for good old latex puppetry either! Speaking of which...
Spitting Image - Ronald Reagan Gets Shaved
Spitting Image - Every Bomb You Drop
Spitting Image - I've Never Met A Nice South African mp3 (available for 7 days)
Spitting Image - The Chicken Song mp3 (available for 7 days)
Buy Spitting Image Series 1 on DVD here.
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Now, some people are very sniffy about curling and dismiss it as being merely housework on ice and not really a proper sport at all. But these people are clearly lazy, easily-pleased morons who are probably just parroting a smartarse comment Rory McGrath or someone once made for a cheap laugh on They Think It's All Over, after Rhona Martin's team won Olympic gold for
Anyway, while the Too Much Apple Pie crew may not have emerged as curling prodigies or dead certs for the GB team at the next winter Olympics (or even spotted anyone doing it sans clobber), we didn't 'alf have fun. Which is what it's all about at the end of the day, right kids?
some synchronised curlers earlier today
Spearmint - Sweeping The Nation mp3
The Temptations - Papa was A Rolling Stone (1987 remix) mp3
My Life Story - Under The Ice mp3
(mp3s available for 7 days)
Buy music or try curling.
Thursday, 3 April 2008
My favourite motorcycle death song is The Shangri-Las' Leader Of The Pack, with its famous spoken introduction and revving sounds. In life, it only takes someone to say, "You get the picture?" and I'm off, singing the whole thing!
There's a certain amount of doubt over the origins of this song. It's credited to George "Shadow" Morton with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich but Morton claims he only added the others to the credits for business reasons. Even Billy Joel has tried to get in on the act, claiming he played piano on the record, but this has been denied by Greenwich. Anyway, forgetting all that nonsense, here's the song!
The Shangri-Las - Leader Of The Pack mp3 (available for 7 days)
The second song is by Twinkle, possibly the most inappropriately nicknamed singer ever. There's not a whole lot of twinkling going on. Perhaps I'm being unfair, since the only footage I've ever seen of her is when she's singing about being partially responsible for the death of her boyfriend. Fantastic song!
Twinkle - Terry mp3 (available for 7 days)
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Monty Python (but mainly Terry Jones) - Traffic Lights mp3 (available for 7 days)
You can buy the Monty Python The final rip off double CD for a ridiculously unpricey £3.99 here.