Speakers Push Air

Polar Bear
October 15, 2008, 5:33 pm
Filed under: MP3

I know even less about Jewish music than I do about jazz, so I’d like to apologise to any Jews or jazz experts for this latest entry.

I briefly dabbled with acts like Acoustic Ladyland that were all modern and fusion without being THAT kind of fusion. The kind that makes you want to start shooting the hostages. Their track Iggy was great, but then I lost interest.

The hairy drummer from Acoustic Ladyland is also in Polar Bear, who are another modern, fusiony sort of jazz band, perhaps more conventionally ‘jazz’ than Acoustic Ladyland. Their Mercury-nominated album Held On The Tips Of Fingers didn’t really rock my world, apart from this one track, that I keep coming back to. I remember the first time I heard it, around the time it came out, I felt all trembly and possibly even a little tearful. It just….. soars.

it also puts me in mind of jewish wedding music or klezmer. I’m not enough of a musicologist (ie, I’m not in any way a musicologist) to explain why, but there’s something mournful and involving about this sort of stuff, even when it’s supposed to be happy music. Some tonal quality or a particular key. I’d be interested to get an explanation off someone who knows.

Anyway, to my ignorant little brain, Beartown by Polar Bear sounds like the exhilirating soundtrack to the saddest wedding in the world.

Polar Bear – Beartown
(on the Rub album Held On The Tips Of Fingers)

Favourite Things
October 14, 2008, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Favourite Things
October 14, 2008, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Favourite Things
October 14, 2008, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Favourite Things
October 14, 2008, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

R.I.P. Alton Ellis
October 11, 2008, 7:43 pm
Filed under: MP3

Died in London, having never recovered from a 100 Club gig in the summer.

Thanks for everything, Alton

Alton Ellis – Rocksteady
(from any number of albums including this one)

Moving Pictures
October 10, 2008, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Videos

In celebration of the fact I’ve got tickets to see Los Campesinos! (along with No Age and Times New Roman) in a couple of weeks, no doubt surrounded by hundreds of kids not even old enough to buy their own snakebite, here’s a video to go with the tune posted below.

The End Of Blogariddims
October 8, 2008, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Mixes

The Blogariddims series of mixes has come to an end with a fantastic inter-blog mashup of 7minute contributions by bloggers who’ve contributed in the past.

So start here and work your way through as instructed – no cheating.

Blogariddims has produced some great mixes, been a lot of fun and introduced me to some excellent new music. If you haven’t already listened to the mixes, there’s 50 for you to work your way through. I recommend it.

Eno Collaboration
October 8, 2008, 11:20 am
Filed under: Miscellaneous

The motivation for Eno’s production role on the new Jason Donovan album has finally come to light. Apparently, one of the less-used Oblique Strategies cards reads as follows:

Make a list of all the things you might do.
Do the last one on the list.

Five For Today
October 8, 2008, 9:11 am
Filed under: MP3

another mixed bag of current faves for you…

Despite being deathlessly cool and permanently immersed in arcana, esoterica and industrial scraping noises, I do occasionally dip my toe in the murky pool that is indie pop. Old habits die hard. Actually, things are in fairly good shape at the moment – the dread shadow cast by various Libertines seems to have receded and there’s good bands to be found on the Marc Riley show these days.

None of whom are as great as Los Campesinos, who – almost without me noticing – have become my favourite “boy girl indie pop band with shouting and a nod to C86” since the mighty (and I mean MIGHTY) Prolapse.

They’ve got EVERYTHING. Great songs, stomping choruses, Bikini Kill tshirts and just brilliant lyrics. Tom is the frontman and lyricist – a man so narky and purist he allegedly goes through the band’s “friends” on myspace and deletes anyone who likes the wrong sort of bands. Some people think this is a bad thing. Me – I salute the bloke. If myspace had existed in 1981, I bet good money Kevin Rowland would have done the very same thing.

His lyrics are truly truly brilliant – full of scenester references, sexual jealousy, petty betrayals and late nights spent hopelessly jamming your last £6.50 into a phone box. Instead of a Smiths-esque woeful sigh, our Tom is fucking livid. About everything from being dumped to misplaced apostrophes. When he REALLY wants to make his point (ie, almost every time), the massed and multi-tracked Campesinos turn every chorus into an uplifting terrace anthem. But this isn’t just more tweecore – there’s real musical ambition here, from sudden bursts of white noise to the occasional string section. It’s punk as fuck and they make me really really really want to be 17 again, so I could write their names on my kitbag. (Maybe that’s what this blog is, really – a kitbag fit for an old bastard).

In the interests of transparency I must also point that the 17 year old version of myself would have a crush like you wouldn’t BELIEVE on singer / keyboard player Aleks, who sweetly eggs Tom on, or acts as a Greek chorus to his woes. But that would be the 17 year old version of myself. Obviously, these days I have no time for such things.

I honestly could have included any track from either of their two albums so far, but it was always going to be this one, if only for one of the greatest choruses ever.

Los Campesinos – Death To Los Campesinos
(from the Wichita Records album Hold On Now, Youngster)

Altogether now:

“If you catch me with my hands in the till
I promise, sugar, I wasn’t trying to steal
I’m just swimming in copper
to smell and pretend like a robot!”

Sticking with the indiepop, my other favourite band of the moment from that world are Those Dancing Days, an all-girl Swedish quintet who share a label and the same sort of tangential relationship with late 80s indie as Los Campesinos, although here the influences are more The Popguns, The Sundays and the like.

But like Los Campesinos, there’s a lot of ambition and invention alongside the buzzsaw indiepop, and they’re better for it. The debut album is a bit imminent and it’s great. Sticking with the self-referential song titles to further reinforce the Los Campesinos connection, here’s…

Those Dancing Days – Those Dancing Days
(from the Wichita Recordings album In Our Space Hero Suits)

Desperate to ensure I don’t get kicked out of the Hipster Obscurantist Club, I better mention Nurse With Wound fast.

Nurse With Wound have dabbled with ‘accessible’ before (well, relatively), ferreting away the odd (very odd) tropicalia and easy listening track among the shrieks, bangs, drones and whirrs. But this latest album, Huffing Rag Blues? Well, in places.. it’s.. funky. Actually funky. Not funky like a bloke with an afro and stack heels on a flashing disco floor. But funky like a dishevelled PCP-addled tramp shuffling across the shit and newspaper strewn floor of an abandoned warehouse. But funky is funky. There’s still some more trad NWW on this album (Funktion Of The Hairy Egg for example) but a number of tracks have proper grooves, a real wriggle to them. They often end in a cacophony, true, but it’s the taking part that counts, not the winning.

Black Teeth is my favourite, a kind of swampfunk / chain gang Tom Waits nightmare. Stapleton is obviously laughing. I’m just not sure who at. *

Nurse With Wound – Black Teeth
(from the United Dairies /Dirter album Huffin’ Rag Blues)

Still at the darker end of things, I came across a band called Apse on Stuart Maconie’s sometimes excellent (sometimes jazz-poetry-folk-wank laden filth) show The Freakzone, on 6music. The show is where I hear all the music I don’t hear on Mark Lamarr’s show, pretty much. Apse are the first post-rock (ugh!) band that have impressed me for a long time. I thought Explosions In The Sky would, for a bit, but turned out they were just Yes with tattoos**. Anyway, Apse are on ATP Recordings and live in Cape Cod and do really, really moody stormy post-rock soundscapey stuff, but with added apocalyptic choral bits. Amazingly, none of the reviews I’ve read have even so much as hinted at the ‘goth’ word, which is very grown-up of them.
(edit: actually, that’s a bit unfair on Apse. It is very serious and doomy, but it’s not the kind of self-important faux-seriousness that is goth’s stock in trade)

Apse – Earth Covers Us
(from the ATP album Spirit)

Getting ever more into pre-rock’n’roll music in my Randy & Earl guise, it’s a bloody revelation how cheap this stuff is. The other day I picked up a blinding 4-CD boxed set, The History of Rhythm & Blues Pt One – 1925-42 for about a tenner. Almost a hundred tracks (so that’s about 10p a track). For little more than the average dubstep 12″.

The collection is FULL of storming stuff – gospel, country blues, jazz, swing, ragtime and boogie-woogie. From my jumping-off point of rock’n’roll, and then working back through what to me is an incredibly fertile period in the early 50s where rhythm and blues was the most exciting music in the world, it now seems that the 30s and 40s are offering up their riches.

One standout track which I thought I’d never heard (although according to ‘Earl’, not only have I heard about it, but I’ve already been blown away by it) is Benny Goodman’s absolutely joyful Sing, Sing, Sing, which I guess the pinnacle of swing. If I knew more about jazz and that, I’d go into raptures about Gene Krupa’s drumming drawing on his recent immersion in African percussion. I might even use the word syncopation without being entirely sure what it means. But I won’t. I’ll just say that this song has to be the rockingest thing to come out of (jesus!) 1937. This is the long version – more than eight minutes of it – but it’s really really worth the bandwidth.

Benny Goodman – Sing, Sing, Sing
(from every bloody Benny Goodman album ever)

So there you go. Indiepop, Nurse With Wound AND Benny Goodman. All in one post. Suck on that, blogorati scum.

(Oh, and Brian Eno’s now working with Jason Donovan. I can’t find it within myself to even comment).

* OK. It’s Nick Cave, isn’t it?
** OK, I don’t actually know if they do have tattoos, but you get my drift..