Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who's up for a quickie then?

I don't know which bit of the world you're reading this in, but in my bit, Melbourne, it's been a very lovely weekend. A couple of weeks ago Winter came crashing into the back of our cooling Summer with so much force it's amazing we didn't all get nose bleeds. (Just you then Kate).

But today it was the sort of Autumn day that other lesser Autumn days aspire to being. It lifted spirits and had me out and about and not inside writing the blogs i said i'd write.

So with that in mind i figured ya'll won't mind of we do a bit of a quick one this time.

And if we're keeping it simple, lets go pop, it is after all where the blog started.

Chew Lips are a London electro-pop three piece, formed in 2008 and in January this year released their first album "Unicorn". Like fellow electro poptarts La Roux, The XX or Magic Wands, the same 80's influences are all there, that feeling that you've heard it all before but also that involuntary reaction to toe tap along with the annoying familiarity of it all. They say their aim is to make "music that sounds so dated it doesn't date", and that they certainly do.

There have been a couple of singles so far, but none are as good as this track. "Seven" is another bit of perfect pop, simple catchy riff, easy to remember chorus and great vocal. Like La Roux before her lead singer Tigs can really knock out a tune. I'm not looking for any deep meaning in there, it's not art, but as UK magazine The Fly said "Chew Lips make electronic pop that will get wedged in your brain from first listen".

Couldn't have said it better myself, so i won't try. But enough chat, have a listen.

And if you want to see how these kids do it, check this lounge room version out, it's sweet just for its simplicity.

Personally i think they're worth a proper listen, i'm ordering the album this week.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Twinkle twinkle.

Ha! I don't have a single melodramatic tragic-comedic story about my life to share today, in fact life in Daveyland is thankfully incident free, i'm just getting on with getting on. But that doesn't mean i'm not listening to well told stories of other peoples lives fucking up, no siree, i mean, a boy's gotta get his giggles somewhere. Actually that's a bit of bollocks, i don't really laugh at the sad songs i love so much, rather i just marvel at how these songwriters can be so lucid at a time of emotional duress. As is the case with the much under rated Tom McRae.

Sometimes you can only wonder why some really talented musicians aren't huge stars. In a world where "Talent" and "Idol" TV shows showcase many a young hopeful, who with all the best intent is neither that talented and frankly too fat to be an idol - unless the idol is Buddha, obviously. (See what i did there? I got a fat joke in and i wasn't even trying.)

Anyway back to the music. What can you say about an artist who when he appeared in 2000 was the darling of the British music critics and whose debut album was deemed worthy of a Mercury Award nomination, yet who ten years on isn't a household name?

I first saw him back then, and he was so charming and so self-effacing and his music so wonderful i was convinced he was going to be huge. Instead i found myself find buying his CD's, going to his gigs and playing his music to any of my friends willing to listen to me bang on about him yet again, while his star never really rose.

You have to wonder, why isn't Tom McRae as well known as Susan fucking Boyle?

His new album "The Alphabet of Hurricanes", his fifth, sticks very much to the formula that brought him the early critical acclaim: soft, personal open lyrics, aching, yearning vocals, acoustic accompaniment, add some strings, a banjo, perhaps a mandolin and drums, mix it up a bit and there you have it. It sounds simple and sometimes it is, but most times it works, and when it works really well it's magic. And while some critics seem to be expecting something different from an artist just turned 41, it's worth remembering he's not Madonna, he didn't put out his first record until he was 31, and it's clear listening to "The Alphabet of Hurricanes" his music has matured even if it's not mutated. He does what he does, and he does it well.

My pick of the album is "Summer of John Wayne". Vulnerable, open and as always, beautiful. A song that feels musically in two parts, fitting really as it's inspired by simultaneously watching John Wayne grow old and his relationship go bad. It gets a bit messy with layer upon layer of overlapping instruments in the middle, but even that can't take away from the writing. I find something very personally touching in the lines "But I know you say nothing good lasts forever. Some things burn bright, but burn themselves out to embers." Simply because i don't agree with it, and i guess in the song neither does he.

It's easy to compare what McRae does with David Ford or the better known David Gray, but there just seems something wrong that he's not as well known as them. I certainly think enough of the new album for it to replace Martha Wainwright on repeat play in the car. That's easier said than done let me tell you.

If you don't know him, it would be a mistake to let him pass by you this time.

So here for your listening pleasure i give you "Summer of John Wayne", there's no video, so you'll have to make do with a dodgy live fan recording. The camera work is questionable, but the sound is good.

And if you liked that, also from the new album, and also containing some killer lyric is "Can't Find You". It's the closest of the new work to the wonderful sparse material on his debut album.

Have a listen, then go and buy his stuff and help me, help him become a star.


Friday, April 9, 2010

I Wish.

Once upon a time i was happy in a wonderful relationship and the best post break-up-missing-her-wishing-we-never-broke-up-song ever came out. And i was so besotted with this song, i thought if this relationship ever goes the shape of a pear, then THIS will be our break-up song.

Of course it didn't pan out anything like i imagined, and we ended up going our separate ways without a song. Like grown-ups do.

Big Wreck were kind of a big deal for a little while in the late 90's, though they only managed two albums before splitting, the first "In Loving Memory Of" gave them international recognition, the second "The Pleasure and the Greed" gave them nothing. So in 2001 they were gone, they may have not made a huge impression on the world of music but they did leave me with "That Song", the story of a man being destroyed by his own past.

I love it, i wish i could have written those lines, i have lyric envy. I figure we all have songs we'd written and this is mine. But it's not just the lines, from the opening riff i just have to air guitar like crazy - when it comes on in the car it can get quite ugly - but beyond that i also love the song structure. Yeah i know loud,loud, quiet, loud is hardly breaking new ground but you have to admit it does work to accent lead singer Ian Thornley's pain.

From the first time i heard it it seemed to be telling my story. Even if i didn't feel that way at the time, i had before and i knew i would again one day. I've mentioned in the past that feeling that when you're feeling down every song is talking directly to you, well this one talks to me no matter what my mood. Perfectly capturing that moment when the memory of the relationship takes over from the actuality of it.

Just listen, that's the sound of a guy tearing himself apart whilst trying to clutch at the straws of a long dead relationship. Pathetic it might be, but there is something noble and romantic in there too.

Songs are milestones in my life, and here is a song celebrating the importance of those songs. Even as i write this i realise i'm not doing justice to how it makes me feel, my own articulation is letting me down. So i'm sharing it with you, these words will either resonate, or they won't, but if they do, you'll know totally what i'm talking about.

"So I always get nostalgic with that song
But in my room it's forced, It has to be in some car across the street.

And I always catch the back of your head in a crowd
Just don't turn around, It's never you and you'll ruin those memories.

And those photos are great if I catch em with the side of my eye
But if I stare, It just turns into you and me, we're just standin there.

And now it's over, would you hear me,
Scream at the top of my lungs.

And when you hold him, would you hear me
Scream at the top of my lungs

So you crank that song, and it might sound dumb
So just leave the room, while I sit an' stare
Cause this is rare, I really love that tune, man I love that song"

So simple, so matter of fact. Speaking to me with a clarity i myself can't begin to express. The video's not the best quality but in this case, i hardly think it matters.

Man, I love that song.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

The wake-up call.

And then the penny drops. What you thought was one thing was actually another. The dictionary calls it an epiphany.
Epiphany - e·piph·a·ny n. pl. e·piph·a·nies - A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realisation. It's got a nice ring to it huh?

Anyway, I had one on Thursday, I won't go into it, those close to me could probably see it coming, those not so close could take an educated guess, and for the rest of you in the cheap seats it doesn't actually matter. But i will say it resulted in me writing a huge list of the things i loved, taking the roof off the Jeep and having a fucking great time driving round with my music up far too loud on Saturday.

Right, back to the music, a vitriolic, spiteful thing wouldn't be me at this point, that's all behind me now, the sky is somehow bluer, and i'm not. Dig the crazy irony kids.

So there's this Chris Isaak song called "Graduation Day", It's on his 1995 standout album "Forever Blue". It's a great album full of tear jerkers, and i accidentally took it on face value, i kinda assumed it was another heartbreaker about a high school romance gone wrong. But it's not, it's a metaphor.

"Driving slowly, watching the headlights in the rain.
Funny how things change.
Think of the good times wishing you were still with me.
The way it used to be, graduation day."

"Watching the stars fall, a million dreams have all gone bad.
Think of all we had.
I knew all then, thought you loved me I was wrong.
Life goes on, graduation day."

Fuck! he JUST got it, he graduated, he's been schooled, he had finally learned all he was going to learn. He was wrong! And he just woke up to the whole damn thing.

How cool is that? As far as a figure of speech goes, i think it's right up there.

The song is terrific, but listen to it again when you know what it means and it gets so much better.

Like the main man says, learned my lesson, now there's nothing left to say, graduation day.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


I have something of a track record for calling the brothers of talented women 'wankers' and i see no reason to stop that today. Martha Wainwright, as much as i love your quite splendidly titled album "I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too" i do still think your brother is a massive wanker.

But we're not here to call Rufus Wainwright a wanker, even if he is, and he is. We're here to listen to his ever so good little sister.

Martha Wainwright started out as a backing singer for her brother - don't we all - it wasn't until 2005 that she released her self titled debut album, from which we all heard and grew bored quickly with "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole".

Then in 2008 she released "I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too". Not only is it brilliantly titled, it's also a really good album. Really, really good. Much more grown up than her debut, the opening two tracks "Bleeding All Over You" (its chorus providing the album title) and "You Cheated Me" are fabulous growers that get better and better with each listen without getting boring. It's an album that flirts with country and folk, sitting comfortably in that genre spanning acoustic sound, all the time holding its own as heartfelt open record, fresh and new and never laboured. Martha's voice, a fantastic, husky harmonic thing is a thing to behold, able to at times lead the song and sometimes snuggle right on in there and go along fro the ride. I read one review that described it as a record that's both tender and tough, beautiful and brutal. I agree.

In a nutshell, it's a really enjoyable almost faultless album. THAT my friends is a rare thing indeed.

And for me the gem of the whole album is tucked away at the back, but is a beautiful introduction to what Martha Wainwright has become. When the Eurythmics Dave Stewart wrote "Love is a Stranger" he crafted the perfect 80's song, something that would define a decade but also something so well constructed in lyric and melody that it would sound just as fresh 30 years on. Wainwright shows her class by not even bothering to try and deconstruct it, she just tilts it on it's side - turns a square to a diamond as it were - and a synthpop classic becomes an indie folk road-trip foot tapper, it's a bright shiny thing that's been made new again.

Sadly there's no video as such, orphan child of a track that it is but you can still listen. And you should.

If you do want moving pictures then watch this video/interview of "Bleeding all Over You" it shows what an amazing voice she has.

Rufus, you might still be a wanker, but your sister's great.


Friday, March 26, 2010

String theory.

You know, there's a place for string quartets and grand pianos, obviously Elton Johns bathroom, a Guns'n'Roses video or one of those posh gala events i never get invited to spring to mind, either way, there's one place they don't belong and it's in Birds of Tokyo's songs.

This week i've been mostly listening to "Broken Strings", the Perth bands bands filler live album while we await this years new studio album, and well, i don't love it. As a fan i was compelled to buy it, but for the most part, and more importantly to me - on my favourite songs - it's a fail.

Let's be honest here, Birds of Tokyo don't write the best lyrics in the world, but what they lack in lyrical depth they more than make up for in the strength of Ian Kenny's vocals and the structure of the songs themselves. Layers of guitar and drums is nothing new in rock, but Birds of Tokyo deliver them with a raw energy and passion that take those oh so simple lyrics and make them into something memorable.

Live, Birds of Toyko are one of the loudest scariest bands i've ever seen - and i've seen Ministry - so i can see why in a perverse sort of way why they would want to experiment with the whole orchestrated thing, but personally, i found the re-arrangement of a lot of songs took away much and gave back very little. It's interesting from a musical study point of view i guess, but it won't convince anyone new that they are a great band.

Lets take "Broken Bones", in it's unmolested, original guise. It's like a caged animal, full of energy and menace, waiting to get out and fuck some shit up. It's a brooding thing that once released it grows and grows, Kenny's vocals swoop and dive and give the song an urgency that it's been robbed of on the live album. And that's a shame.

So lets hear it as it was first intended, in full flight, loud and proud. From 2008's Universes, the bands second album, and the one that got them noticed by the nation. It's the full 8 minute video, if you like what you hear - and how can you not - then stick around for the follow on track "Silhouettic" and the second half of the rather disturbing video story.

Loud, loud, and louder if you please.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Welcome to my room.

So i'm trying to come up with a reason for playing my favourite Bangles track. And i can't think of a valid one.

They might be something of an 80's afterthought these days, but they had their moments and even I can forgive them that "Eternal Flame" nonsense.

Doing my research for Martha Wainwright's version of "Love Is A Stranger" it struck me that the driving kick drum sound kept reminding me of the into to "In Your Room", but that's probably more to do with them being the same tempo.

That's a bit of a long bow to draw. Even for me.

And then thinking about cover versions, Bangles did a rocking version of "Hazy Shade Of Winter", but that still doesn't give me an excuse to play "In Your Room".

Then i thought fuck it, how good looking was Susanna Hoffs back in the day, I'm playing it.

Admit it, she was a fox in socks.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Well, since you ask, yes.

Alice Deejay came straight out of Holland in 1999, a time when i was living in London and easily influenced by smiley European dancing girls. Pure Eurotrash they burned brightly for three years (mostly on the back of this track) then burned out, the Euro dance scene moving on to the next new thing faster than Tiger Woods on tour, they were soon just yesterdays news.

Videos that would do a Zumba class proud and lyrics consisting of nothing deeper than repeating the same line a dozen times i really should have know better than to have liked them in the first place. But i didn't know any such thing and i loved this song back in the day.

After all the melodramatic melancholy moments - try saying that three times quickly - we've been having round here lately sometimes you just need to play a bit of Euro-disco to help you get back on your feet again.

So i am.

In some ways Alice Deejay are no different than all the other pop i've played on here, it's all about time and place. A week ago "Better Off Alone" might have not been welcome in these parts. Today no such animosity exists.

Do i think i'm better off alone? Yep.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Forever ever?

Not that i'm asking for requests but one just came my way, my challenge should i wish to accept it was to play something to do with forever. First track i thought of was The Living End's "Nothing Lasts Forever", cheery little fucker aren't I? It's not that i don't have other forever songs - i already played the glove puppet one last month - and a quick scan of the ipod brought up a half a dozen songs with forever in the title. But "Nothing Lasts Forever" feels real to me. Does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. Does that make me a cynic? Possibly.

So far this weekend i have spoken to a friend of mine who although in a new relationship, is being fucked around. Or worse, fucked around on. A mate who had to throw out her boyfriend when she found out about his three kids to two different mothers he wasn't paying child support to. (He didn't wanna say anything about them in case he got dumped. At least his intuition was right.) And my little friend Stef who has been been handed revenge by the very slut who took her guy in the first place. That's just the way it rolls in real world.

Ok, that sounded cynical.

Let's put this in perspective, the forever request came from someone who is having the new found love of her life go overseas without her for who knows how long.

How do i turn around and play a song about fluffy bunnies, rainbows and baby deer? That's not for me to do. I'm not in the relationship, i don't know the whys and wherefores i'm out here watching the shit go down, and i'm just calling it as i see it. Which is what i think The Living End did so very well.

It's a song that is a long way from the Psychobilly sound of their early years, but by the fourth album 2006's "State Of Emergency" - from where this song hails - The Living End had become truly radio friendly anyway. Not that that's a bad thing. Though "Nothing Lasts Forever" wasn't the biggest single off the album it was always the best track for my money.

It's a sad song, about a sad story, of a sad situation, in a sad relationship, and the sad commentary on it.

And if you're feeling let down, if you're feeling unloved, under appreciated or just jaded, it's the song for you right now.

But that's not every situation. That's not every relationship. I honestly believe we all have it in us to have forever, and we all have to believe that or it will never ever happen for us.

Forever is out there, just don't expect me to find it for you.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Improved in translation.

Just for the record i want to say how much i adore Julia Stone's voice.

A lot.

I'm not going to bang on about it because I know her warbling lilting voice isn't for everyone but if you're already not a fan, and read her name in the first sentence and then you kept reading, well then quite frankly you deserve what you get. I honestly do believe she could sing the yellow pages and make it sound beautiful - obviously she might struggle with the ads for earth moving equipment and sewage disposal but, you know.

Together with brother Angus they make indie folk as good as anything that's coming out of the UK right now, and they've been doing it since the "Chocolates and Cigarettes" EP in 2006. Now veterans with two full albums under their belts "A Book Like This" in 2007 and the just released "Down the Way". Personally, the songs of Angus & Julia Stone i like the best are the ones where Julia sings, nothing against Angus, i just think she has a husk to her voice that makes it stand out in an ocean of wannabees. And as lovely their brand of beautiful melodic folk pop is, the song of theirs i like most isn't actually theirs anyway.

"Tubthumping" was a huge hit in 1997 for the English band Chumbawamba. Not that the world needed another drunk blokes song, but If ever there was an anthem for going out and getting rat-arsed, here it is. Whenever i hear it i just think of a pub in north London full of largered-up English football fans on a total bender after watching England give Germany a well deserved thrashing. Which to be fair, is reason enough to go on a bender - two world wars and one world cup, do dah, do dah and all that.

However i digress, Angus and Julia have managed to take this most English of pub anthems and don't so much folk it up as sex it up. For serious.

The song is stripped down to its basics and rebuilt using different parts, kind of pimping Chumbawumba, but in a nice way. The use of the trumpet along with Julia's smokey distinctive vocal work almost as a duet, backed by a simple guitar strum and drum beat the song is a lot more about the lyric than the original ever was. The song grows and transforms slowly from what is almost a simple jazz/blues number into a bit of a racket, before dropping into an offer that no right minded Danny Boy could possibly refuse.

Sadly it's a song you won't find on any of their albums though, you'll have to get yourself TripleJ's "Like A Version" Volume 3 or just listen to it here.

Which of course you should.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I won't say anything if you don't.

Hands up who likes Moby?

Ok hands up who secretly likes Moby?

Yeah thought so.

Back in 1999 Moby released the rather brilliant "Play". I thought it was brilliant and know you thought it was brilliant because we all thought it was brilliant and it sold like a gazillion copies, making it the biggest-selling electronica album ever. That word again, ever. At which point EVERY track was licenced to a film, an advert or a tv show and we all decided Moby was a corporate cock sucker.

Our snobbery knew no bounds and Moby was no longer cool enough to hang around with us.

When he released "18" in 2002 i had a sneaky listen to it but because it wasn't as good as "Play" i dismissed him again for still not being cool enough to hang around with, only now he was probably a washed up hack too.

So like everyone else i ignored "Hotel" and "Last Night". Actually i didn't so much ignore as was oblivious to them, i didn't even know he was still putting out albums. You know, what with him being a hack and all that.

But i have to ask, have you heard any of "Wait For Me"? I didn't mean to, it was a bit of an accident at work and i caught some of "Mistake". And i liked it. (Dig the crazy irony)

Let me tell you now, you're not too cool for Moby anymore.

Trust me on this, you're not.

Somewhere between all that self indulgent blogging around 9/11 and that Dungeons & Dragons admission, he got his mojo back. In his own words he was trying to make a very personal, very melodic, emotional, beautiful record, and he delivers it.

Proof you say? Meh, that's easy, i've even got a video.

In fact, i'm going to go as far as to say that "Mistake" is every bit as good as anything on "Play". No, wait i'm going on record to say that it's a natural successer to "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?".

There i've said it, it's out there now.

You're going to have to check it out for yourself now aren't you? It really does deserve a listen. I suppose if your snobbery gets the better of you, you can always pretend you're being ironic.

But listen anyway, It can be our little secret.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nothing to see here, move along.

This is why i'd be a better DJ than blogger, there aren't always videos for the songs i wanna play, so i'm breaking with tradition (a tradition that stretches as far back as last month when i started this blog obviously.) And i'm giving you an album cover to watch and full lyrics to read.

I feel a need to play this today, tomorrow will just be a crappy day all round, at least today i can be slightly removed from it, more observer than participant. I wanted to present an alternative to the schmaltz that will surround tomorrow, just in case any of you, like me, need an alternative.

So, on Valentines Eve, a song with its shoulders so stooped in resignation you almost want you put your arms around it and give it a big hug, tell it that everything will be alright and it's ok to eat that much ice cream and chocolate.

The lyrics are just brilliant, written within a sigh, all the wind gone from under the songs wings. There's something quite splendid in the act of acknowledging that the winning streak is over, turning around and walking away. And if there's anyone reading this that can't sympathise, or see themselves in those words, well fuck off, you're not welcome around here you cheery little bastard.

"End Of The Line" is originally a Roxy Music song, and much as i do like the original, i happen to think Concrete Blonde's version is better, it feels less forced, more pathetic really. This version is from the 1992 album Walking in London, a track that was sort of tucked away at the back of the album as if no one was supposed to find it there anyway. Which is quite fitting given the subject matter.

I was always a huge fan of Concrete Blonde though, and have had a crush on Johnette Napolitano's voice for more years than i can remember. Listening to her just makes me want to close my eyes and let her take me away - hardly very practical when i'm driving the car let me tell you.

Right then, with all due respect to Mr Ferry i give you the most wonderful antidote to Valentines Day i can think of.

"Take a walk out in the rain,
Called you time and time again,
Everything is wrong,

You've gone.

Reached the point of no return,
The more I see the more I stand alone,
I see the end of the line.

Were you ever lonely?
Mystified and blue?
Realising only,
Your number's up,
You're through.

Had my share of winning,
Now's my time to lose,
After a fair beginning,
The game's up,
You're through.

Think I'll walk out in the storm,
Got no love to keep me warm inside,
I see the end of the line.

Now's the time to take a dive,
Take a magic carpet ride,
Everything is wrong,
We've gone.

If you ever miss me,
If I should cross your mind,
You know where to find me,
I'll be waiting at the end of the line."

I'll be back next month to ruin Easter for you all.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Confessions of an insomniac

Who the fuck knows how massive loss is going to effect someone, i can't say i'd like to find out for myself. I've not been sleeping so well this week. Sign of a troubled mind i guess, but all i've lost is a relationship, the feeling of loss will pass, and the friendship might even return. So in the scheme of things it's not so bad, like they say in the classics: Worse things have happened at sea.

But do all things, good and bad, make a better artist? I'm not taking the piss, i'm just asking. Thing is i knew the back story of the next guy i'm gonna play before i heard his music, did that make me find his work any sadder? Any more beautiful?

That's a rhetorical question by the way, i don't expect any of you to write the answer on the back of a post-card and send it to me. That would be silly.

But i do wonder do YOU want the back story?

That one's not rhetorical, i'm giving you the choice, skip this next paragraph if you want.

Elvis Perkins is the son of actor Anthony Perkins and photographer Berry Berenson. He lost his dad to AIDS in 1992 and lost his mum in the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks. I dunno if that makes for a sad sounding debut album, but i'm betting it doesn't help. By his own admission it did affect his writings, the title of his first album "Ash Wednesday" is a homage to his parents. "The title refers to being left on Wednesday with nothing but ash, because she died on a Tuesday - being left with ash on September 12. That was also the day my father died, September 12".
And he's only 34. That's fucked.

Anyways, young Elvis has released two albums so far, "Ash Wednesday" in 2007 and then "Elvis Perkins in Dearland" in 2009. I have to admit i know nothing of latter but i adore the opening track from the former.

"While You Were Sleeping" is a transcript of an insomniacs midnight musings, and it's almost poetic. Actually scratch that, as far as lyrics go, it's practically a poem.

"While you were sleeping
the babies grew
the stars shined and the shadows moved.
time flew, the phone rang
there was a silence when the kitchen sang
its songs competed like kids for space
we stared for hours in our maker's face
they gave us picks
said go mine the sun
and gold and come back when you're done"

And it sounds lush, building slowly from an acoustic start a full band complete with trumpets round it out. The lazy reviewer in me wants to compare him to Elliot Smith, mostly because his tender melancholic folk guitar stylings sound more than a bit like Elliot Smith. Your even lazier reviewers compare him to Dylan, but that's just obvious, the influences might be there but the sound is not.

But why just believe what lazy reviewers think anyway? Here you go...


Thursday, February 11, 2010


So far, i've been fired twice, mostly for telling people that knew more than me, that they didn't know more than me. And for telling them to get fucked. Not that i'm complaining, i totally deserved it both times, but what annoyed me was the time they called it a redundancy. That was an insult.

But until recently i never thought why i found it insulting, but it's obvious really it's just a break-up.

When i first heard Henry Priestman sing "Don't You Love Me No More" i registered that chorus but didn't fully take in the meaning, i just filed it away as a nice break-up song for a rainy day.

Yesterday it rained. Hard.

Me being me i went looking for some solace in song, and in Henry Priestman i found it. 2009's "The Chronicles of Modern Life" is his debut solo album despite his 30 years in the music business, and there's a touch of deep irony in his songs as you'd expect of anyone in the same industry that long. This is perfectly illustrated by "Did I Fight In The Punk Wars For This?", a little country number sung with tongue very much in cheek.

But it's "Don't You Love Me No More" that does it for me, a wonderful track that rather neatly blurs the line between being let go by a lover and being let go by an employer. As a lot of us already know, you don't have to love your job to feel some sort of injustice of your employer dumping you, even if you thought about it first.

"Don't you need me no more?
Won't you feed me no more?
Tell me what you suggest that I do with the rest of my life"

These are words of one seeking closure they will never get, is he really just talking about a job? I know i've felt like that more than twice.

And sometimes i didn't even deserve it.



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy happy joy joy.

Angry songs, sad songs, bitter songs of loosing and loss. All low hanging fruit. Easy for me to fill the blog full of them should i so desire. But where are the happy songs?

Think about the music that makes you feel happy.

Is any of it new? I'm willing to bet it's not.

One reason could be that sad/bitter/wounded songs are easier to write, the urge to vent lends itself to the writing of these songs, all artists love to use pain as a muse. It's a cool way to validate your work. And it's harder to write when happy, no one wants to write a soppy song, and anyway, when you're happy you wanna be out doing happy things, who has time to write then?

But i got a theory. Ready?

Happy songs don't so much get written, as attach themselves to memories.

Stay with me, you'll like this.

Yeah i know there are joyful sounding songs, i mean the Vengaboys and "We Like To Party" is as happy as you like, but i can't help but feel that being ripped off your tits on pills and poppers has a lot to do with why anyone would find the VengaBus fun for more than five minutes.

I put it to you that any song can be a happy song for you, it just needs time. And place.

When i was a kid there was a song on the radio called "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks. The song is a dying man's farewell to his family and friends. It ain't happy.

But it makes me happy because it doesn't sound sad - it's got that cute Beach Boys sounding keyboard and the acoustic guitar accompaniment - plus as a kid i had no idea what it was about and i attach happy memories to it. Check it out:

Just for the record though, i think the Westlife version of the song, sucks dead dogs dicks.

Anyway, my point, and i have one, is that any song you like right now, that you wake up and play on a Saturday morning when the sun is streaming through the blinds and you've not really got anything to fret about, that could be your next happy song.

Which leads me quite neatly to Idlewild.

Scotish band Idlewild first came to my attention in 1999 when i was flat sharing in London with a dickhead who worked for a record label, he used to bring home demo singles and leave them about the place to show how cool he was. He wasn't, but Idlewild were. That single "Little Discourage" was to be the one that brought them to the attention of not just me but also everyone else in the UK. It went to number 24 in the UK charts.

But somewhere between the bands first three albums and last week i lost Idlewild, but i'm happy to say i'm glad i recently found them again.

In October last year a new album called "Post Electric Blues" was released preceded by the single "Readers & Writers".

"Readers & Writers" could be your next happy song.

It's great. A very full sounding thing, Little chimes and synth trumpets backing the bands usual guitar sound. It's a song for summer, without trying to be a celebration of summer. It's all for being out-doors, for driving with the windows down, for blaring out of your bedroom when you're way down the other end of the house putting the washing machine on before dashing back to bed just because you don't have to get up if you don't fucking want!

Try it next saturday and see what happens.


Friday, February 5, 2010

What does this button do?

Meet the Fuck Buttons. A two-piece experimental group based in London, England.

That's all the bio says. It sort of leaves things a bit open really. I mean, experimental is a very expansive word. The bands name alone suggests they aren't looking for a top 40 hit. Between you and me, I think it's safe to say that these experiments make a bit of a racket.

"Colours Move" from their debut album, "Street Horrrsing" sounds like a massive industrial accident at thrash metal god Al Jourgensen's house. To say it's abrasive is to say Tiger Woods marriage is going through a bad patch.

You see what i'm getting at? I think it's great but it's going to annoy more people than it wins over. Your parents are gonna hate it. Your neighbours are gonna hate it. Graham is really gonna hate it.

And here's the rub, i like falling asleep to it.

As some of you will know, I was adopted at 6 months old, and i'd like to think the nuns who were looking after me to that point were into some really fucked up lullabies.

It could happen.

Perhaps it's the drone, perhaps it's the white noise, perhaps it's the layers of repetition of what sounds like monkeys having a fight on a casio keyboard, whatever it is, i find it strangely hypnotic.

Last year Fuck Buttons released their second album, "Tarot Sport", from this album comes "Lesbon Maru". It's more palatable that some of the other stuff and has a neat unofficial video courtesy of MTV Asia's wicked-cool short anime film Codehunters.

I'm trying to make this bit easy for you, go with me on this.

It might well be the strangest meditation music you ever heard, but then some people think cricket is interesting to watch.

Each to their own.

Let me know what you think.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bit'er banjo guvnor?

While i was busy being angry on the weekend my little friend Stef was busy being bitter. She has just found herself on the wrong end of a nasty little break-up (with a potentially gay DJ) and she was looking for a bit of music to help her wallow.

She came to the right guy. if there's one thing i do well, it's bitter.

I do a good angry obviously, but i do a better bitter.

Finding Stef something new was pretty easy, i seem to have an ear for these things, and anyway, any song that opens with the line "It's empty in the valley of your heart" instantly earns a place in mine.

And so begins "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons. It's the latest single from their very splendid debut album "Sigh No More" of last year.

Mumford & Sons aren't as the name suggests a 1960's removals company or even painter and decorators. They are in fact the latest London band to fly the flag of the "Indie Folk" movement out of the UK. And they are doing it proud.

Now there are people who will tell you that there's no place for banjos in popular music. These people are communists, liars and sheep botherers (and possibly DJs). ''The Cave" is a fine example of everything good about the liberal use of the banjo. Get a load of the way it kicks in with the bass for the start of the second verse. Is there another song around at the moment that punctuates a song with the banjo quite so well? Well then.

But banjos aren't bitter, they are quite nice actually. What we're here for is a biting lyric, and Mrs Mumfords little boy doesn't disappoint.

"So make your siren's call,
And sing all you want,
I will not hear what you have to say.

Cause I need freedom now,
And I need to know how,
To live my life as it's meant to be."

If that's not the sound of a scorned lover i don't know what is.

But i do. And it is.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'm with stupid.

I fucked up. Big time.

And that pisses me off. Big time.

I did something i knew perfectly well that i shouldn't, and it all went as bad as it possibly could have and i have no one to blame but myself.

That hurts.

Seeing as i don't drink, all i got is loud stupid music.

Hopefully louder and stupider than me.

The Dead Weather it is then.

Not that the music is any dumber than a bunch of stuff out of Rage Against The Machine, but the video for "Treat Me Like Your Mother" is about as pointlessly aggressive as you're likely to find on a Sunday afternoon.

To be honest i have not a damn clue what the song is about, and seeing as the band wrote each of the songs on the album in half a day or less, there's no saying the band members know too much about it either.

Frankly i don't care, you already know it's Jack Whites side project and it's what i need right fucking now.

i'm gonna get my black leather jacket.


X marks the spot.

Laura was right, it takes 3 full listens for the XX to sink in.

On an album where one song doesn't differ that much from the next, it takes that long for a favourite song to stand out. But then several do at the same time.

The debut album for the XX - imaginatively titled "XX" - is an exercise in melancholy down-beat electro pop. Think Everything But The Girl, without the depression.

The first songs released from the album didn't make it onto my favourites list, though the very excellent "Crystalised" does rate a mention. My personal pick of the bunch was just released as a single this month.

"VCR" (what is this band and names?) is an infectious poppy little love song, another 80's throwback, but these aren't your flouro glitter kids, this lot are so black they'd give Depeche Mode a run for their money. And though i doubt these guys actually have used a VCR as anything more than a cultural reference, there's something cute singing about it anyway. The opening refrain brings a childlike simplicity to this song that reminds me of all the best bits of a wonderful Scottish band called Looper. But as it's unlikely you know who they are, that serves as a rather crap reference.

But then, is it all about reference and me showing you how clever i am, or about you exploring some new music?

Have a listen, i can almost guarantee you'll not forget the name.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

If Clint Eastwood was a band he'd be this one.

I stole that title. Only because i couldn't have put it any better. I tried, i really did.

It's a great line though, because Hey Negrita are everything that is deep southern fried moonshine-soaked American blues, except they're actually from London. Formed in 2002, and named after the Rolling Stones song, they have released three four albums so far, same sound, but different inspiration each time.

The first album, "We Are Catfish" documents Hey Negrita’s guitarist and vocalist Felix Bechtolsheimers' long-standing battle against heroin and alcohol addiction. It's from that album that "One Mississippi" originates. The track shuffles along with what i read aptly described as "rattling, railroad-track percussion", i love that description, listening to it, it's easy to imagine yourself gazing out the window of some cross country steam train. Though it kind of fucks up any Mississippi river boat metaphor i might have been tempted to use later. Damn.

There's no way on first listening that you'd even begin to suspect Hey Negrita hail from London, i lived there for 6 years and not once did i hear anyone say "I been runnin' down the road a-piece". Not unless it was an American tourist anyway. But this isn't parody, this is the real deal, by their own admission this makes them not particularly radio friendly but it does mean is what you get is straight from the heart.

Last year the band re-recorded, in a blistering 5 hour acoustic session, a dozen tracks and released them, overdub free as the new album, "Burn the Whole Place Down". This version of "One Mississippi" is from that session.

If you like this you'll like pretty much everything else. Sit down, put your feet up and try a bit now, i'm told it goes really well with beer.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Cute as a button - button thief.

The year is 2006 and 16 year old Lisa Mitchell has just been voted off Australian Idol. Proving once again how fucking stupid the voting audience for Idol really are.

I first saw her when she played support for The Hampdens in 2007, she was shy and cute and very meek. I had no idea who she was, but my girlfriend bought her CD not because she loved her set, but because "she deserved the support".

Getting voted off that show was the best thing that could have happened to her.

Four years on from Idol, and she's even cuter - like a bag of kittens, baby squirrels and an otter all rolled into one - but she's not the kid she used to be. She's grown into the folky pop princess role, moved from Melbourne to London to write, and last year gave us "Coin Laundry".

And we all agree it's just lush. A beautiful sentiment expressed in a most innocent of ways. She just wants to be the girl that you met in the coin laundry. Seriously, what's not to like?

And i know most of the Australians reading will know this song all too well, i don't care, it's worth another look, it's cheerier than Eels and Graham might not have heard it. Then again, if it was released anytime after 1995 there's a good chance Graham might not have heard it.

But surely even he can't resist a girl that lives in a washing machine?


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Back to the future?

"What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

A friend of mine has pointed out that my last couple of posts are turning the blog into "High Fidelity". Which isn't a bad thing, i mean, when they make the movie of my life i'd kinda like John Cusack to play me. Him or Jeff Goldblum, obviously. But it was never my intention to turn the blog into a Nick Hornby novel, well not unless it's one of the football ones.

So i actually watched three quarters of the movie last night for inspiration, but then i remembered it had a happy ending and turned it off. I couldn't be doing with a happy ending. That was last night.

Today i have vowed to find something a bit more uplifting to play.

And i have.

Meet the Magic Wands.

If Chris Valentine (the boy one) and Dexy Valentine (the girl one) are related i'll eat my hat, but i do like that they play pop stars, faux names, 24 hour sunnies, all pose and no substance. THAT, my friends is cool.

I should say though, that i'm not in love with all of what i have heard of this Nashville electro-pop-glitter-goth duos stuff, but i suspect i'm not the target audience anyway, what with me being around when the 80's were actually happening and were actually a bit shit, as opposed to the stylised version that's so hot right now.

But regardless of target audience, "Kiss Me Dead" has got it all goin' on. It's digestible in the way a good pop song should be, it stands up to repeat plays in the car and shits the passenger who's never heard it before to tears.

Remember when back in 2007 The Jesus And Mary Chain reformed? And they said they would write some new stuff, and they are still working on it? They shouldn't have bothered. Magic Wands have gone and perfected the feedback buzz pop and crafted an oddly infectious pop song of their very own.

Given the choice of an 80's band's taking on today, or todays band giving us a take on the fuzzed-up guitar sound of the 80's, i'll go with the kids every time. Even if it is full of shiny things and Corey Hart sunglasses.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The last goodbye.

Writing doesn't come naturally to me - which is odd as i can talk the back legs off a wooden horse - so i started the blog as a way of practicing. The last couple of days it's also taken the form of therapy and i am using it to distract me from something i'd rather not think about.

Of course this doesn't work and i end up searching out the sort of music i shouldn't be listening to. We should all be thankful that it's Australia day and the fact that i don't really like James Blunt, they are all that's stood between you and what amounts to car crash blogging. Still, some of it was bound to creep through. Earlier we had the Eels and now it's Sinead O'Connor's turn.

No, it's not "Nothing Compares 2 U" how fucking predictable do you think i am? It's from the same album though, 1990's "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got".

"Nothing Compares 2 U" might have been the international breakthrough hit, the number one single and the video with the crying, but at the end of the day, despite her beautiful performance it was still a cover of a Prince song. "The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance" wasn't just written by O'Connor, but it's personal, it has a raw honesty about it. Even the title hurts.

I think it's heartbreaking. For someone who struggles to write, i can't fathom what it takes to be able to write and then perform words like this:

"This is the last day of our acquaintance,
I will meet you later in somebody's office.
I'll talk but you won't listen to me,
I know what your answer will be.
I know you don't love me anymore,
You used to hold my hand when the plane took off.
Two years ago there just seemed so much more,
And I don't know what happened to our love."

Although there is a recent live clip of her doing a quite vitriolic performance of the song that is well worth seeing, i am going with this older more sombre version.


Hey hey it's Australia day.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury i put it to you that "Great Southern Land" is the best song about Australia. Ever.

Around a thousand years ago - in the early 80's - Iva Davies (singer/songwriter, record producer, guitar/bass/keyboard player) and Icehouse were THE sound of of synthesizer pop in Australia. Davis took pub rock and and changed it into something that could mix it with the best of the rest of the world.

"Great Southern Land" embodies everything about that sound. And it's everything about Australia.

"Standing at the limit of an endless ocean,
stranded like a runaway, lost at sea.
City on a rainy day down in the harbour,
watching as the grey clouds shadow the bay.
Looking everywhere 'cause I had to find you,
this is not the way that i remember it here.
Anyone will tell you its a prisoner island,
hidden in the summer for a million years."

Can someone give me a good reason why that's not the first verse of the national anthem? Actually, can anyone give me a reason it's not the national anthem full stop?

Sun is shining, there's not a cloud in the sky, it's Australia day and you should be outside playing this song very loud at a BBQ not inside reading a quite ridiculous blog post.

Play it loud.


Hand on heart, heart on sleeve.

There's probably a million reasons you shouldn't blog when you're sad. This would be just one of them.

Of all the bands to listen to when you're down, Eels would probably be one of the last ones on your list. They should be on mine. But i'm a slow learner, and that's how i ended up listening to the bands new album "End Times", fuck me it's depressing stuff.

You know that school of thought that when you're emotional all the songs on the radio are talking to you -not to be confused with if you're a girl all the star signs are true - well, when you're down, all Eels songs are about you.

I don't know what singer/songwriter Mark Everett did to deserve his lot, but he seems to know his subject matter, very, very, well.

And although i really should be playing the first single from the new album, "Little Bird", because it's beautiful and sad and new music and all that, i just can't get past the fact that i have my own personal Eels wrist slasher that i'd rather share.

"It's A Motherfucker" is from the 2000 release "Daisies Of The Galaxy" and sums up for me in three words the kick in the balls feeling of a relationship ending. I guess it's all part of the grieving process, that huge sigh and drop of the shoulders when you realise it's all over and there's not a damn thing you can do about it now.

I'd tell you to enjoy this, but you won't.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Crazy in the coconut.

Tomorrow is Australia Day, it would be a rubbish effort on my part if i didn't play a couple of my favourite bits of Australiana.

The Avalanches are - or were depending on who you ask - a loose collective of musicians and DJ's from Melbourne. They gained international recognition in 2000 when they released their only album to date "Since I Don't Have You".

In 2001, they put out "Frontier Psychiatrist" as a single and made the most crazy ape bonkers video to go with it. For that i thank them.

If you've not seen it for a while it's worth another look, it still makes me smile, but if all this is news to you and you've never seen it, ohhh you don't know what you've been missing.

I still love the track, but for me it's about the video, i mean, faced with the challenge of making a video for a track that is made up almost entirely of samples, would you have done this? I wish i could have been there at the pre-production meeting "So how many times do you think the monkey should chase the giant dove around the stage before they stop and have a dance then"?



Sunday, January 24, 2010


Sometimes you find out about an artist late, in this case for me, too late.

I first heard Jay Reatard in December last year, and sadly four weeks later he was found dead.

By the time he died age 29 Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr had already released 90 something records in different guises, from his solo stuff as Jay Reatard to his many bands. On his latest album he played every instrument, except drums and cello, he was clearly a talented and driven guy.

At his core, he was a furious punk rocker, and if that's what you want, that's what you'll get with his older stuff, but it's his final album "Watch Me Fall" that could have been the one to break him into the mainstream.

It still rocks but it is laced with melody much in the same way as the Pixies used to do, in fact if you're a fan of the Pixies you'll be annoyed if you haven't heard of Jay Reatard before now.

The single "It Ain't Gonna Save Me" is a perfect introduction to the album, not just because it's a bit of a surf punk romp, but also because it's accompanied by a quite wicked video featuring appropriately enough a whole bunch of wicked children. And a scary clown. But then they're all scary.

If Jimmy Lee wanted to go out on a high, this is it.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Russian, a Gypsy and a Punk walk into a band. (stop me if you've heard this one)

When i get my own TV show, i'm gonna get DeVotchKa to score the theme for me. They already did it for '"Little Miss Sunshine" so a TV show should be a piece of cake. Originally the backing band for Dita Von Teese's burlesque show, so i doubt there's anything i could suggest would faze them.

It's kind of hard to place DeVotchKa, physically they are from Denver, but musically they are in equal parts Romani, Greek, Slavic, Bolero, Mariachi and Punk. In a folk style. And i didn't even guess at that, Wikipedia says that, i say any band that plays guitar, bouzouki, piano, trumpet, violin, drums, accordion, sousaphone and double bass is gonna be hard to pigeon hole.

Shouldn't oughta work.

But is so does. They have put out 4 albums so far, "Enemy Guns" is taken from the bands' 3rd album "How It Ends".

If ever there was a song that sounded like it was spoiling for a fight it's this one. No wailing ringing notes here, the opening guitar is a choppy, staccato, angry sounding thing, add a driving drum beat, then the violins and another bit of menace.

Then there's the whistling, ohh the whistling, ah to hell with it, if i'm gonna be jumping slow-motion through a window into a room full of baddies, pistol in each hand, wasting motherfuckers before dusting myself off and making some pithy comment, i want "Enemy Guns" to be playing while i do it.

Watch yourself Vin Diesel, i've already got me a theme.


Friday, January 22, 2010

You can't argue with a glove puppet.

Let me tell you what i know about Lacrosse.

Lacrosse the band: come from Sweden.

There are six members in the band.

They have a shite website:

They released their second album "Bandages for the Heart" mid last year.

But they have made a very cute video for this track.

"You Can't Say No Forever" was featured in a rather forgettable scene in the UK teen drama Skins.

They sound more than a bit like Architecture In Helsinki, only with better lyrics.

Like this: "Sometimes when i call you, i just feel like hanging up. You're not getting any older, and it never seems to stop." That could be cut and pasted into any number of arguments i've had in the past, apart from the fact that i get accused of not growing up - and i prefer the more obtuse angle taken here.

Lacrosse the sport: is one of the stick and ball ones that my mate Jeff is really good at.

That's it. Watch the video.


Who's your Mama?

Now, anyone who knows me knows i love a miserable song - not Morrissey miserable, i'm not THAT depressing - i like a more bittersweet miserable, songs that slip under the radar because on first listening they sound 'nice'. But so much as scratch the surface, or in this case pay attention to the title and you'll find a whole rats nest of loathing going on.

Front and centre Mama Kin then, coming at us all the way from Western Australia, i've heard her music described as vulnerable, smoldering, primal and tender, which is a very handy shorthand description for "Tore My Heart Out".

The first release from her soon to be released debut album it's not the best showcase of her soulful voice, but from the simple piano refrain to the layers of vocal harmony and brooding cello, the ebb and flow of the music work together to compliment a rather personal song of love and loss.

It's quite sweet. In a bitter sort of way.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

With friends like these.

So, given the option, would you rather be referred to as a Sidedish Friend or a Fuck Buddy? While neither do a lot for the ego, at least the former you could use in front of the vicar, and it’s Rachael Yamagata you can thank for giving you the chance to extend your vocabulary next time the clergy are around.

If you get the feeling you’ve heard her before and you own a television, you probably have. She’s had her songs used on a whole bunch of American TV shows including, The OC, Grey’s Anatomy, Charmed, The L Word, One Tree Hill, ER, How I Met Your Mother, Private Practice and 30 Rock. By my reckoning she only needs Two And A Half Men and Lost and she’ll have the whole set.

Despite the lack of credibility the TV whoring might bring, have a listen to her latest offering and you’ll have more to thank her for than a new way to win at Scrabble. “Sidedish Friend” is from her double album of last year and stands out from the other more dark and broody tracks with a sound that falls somewhere between classic Brit-pop and American college rock. Somewhere richer than either of them. It’s got a nice gritty guitar and a lovely cynical lyric that should make the more jaded of us all quite happy, it works for me anyway.

But as always don’t take my word for it, I doubt I’d take yours.


If you look a bit like Jesus and you know it, clap your hands.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sound exactly like you’d imagine a 12 piece bunch of hippies with a tour bus driven by a guy called Cornfed should sound like. Alex Ebert, the singer-songwriter behind the group has with “40 Day Dream” penned an uplifting soaring ode to being so in love that you don’t dare look down for fear of realising just how high you have flown.

It’s a racket of an anthem complete with tambourines and accordion, and I just adore it.

They are currently being touted in the US as being one of the bands to watch this year, if this album track is anything to go by they could just live up to the hype, have a listen and decide for yourselves.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Pop goes the blog.

La Roux, you might not like her haircut. Lord knows, I don’t.

But you can’t knock her ability to knock out a pop song.

Armour Love is an album track that is just itching to be a single. It’s one of those unrequited love songs that instantly reminded me of a hundred other songs but none I could name, and in doing so had the effect of making me feel very at home with it on first listen. And it’s a pleasant surprise to find that unlike a lot of the current crop of poppettes this one can actually sing too. Which is nice.

But oooooohh it’s catchy, sad and pretty all at the same time. Have a listen.


p.s. I recently saw they have pulled down the link to the video i originally linked to, killjoys, so this one will have to do.