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.