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.