Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas One And All When It Comes

It really is unseasonably mild up here in what should be the frozen north but with Max and Leo it is utterly impossible to forget that it is Christmas. I hope that you all get from Santa what you wished for and have a great day. Me, as has become the norm I will be following Delia's instructions to the letter with no deviations and hoping that everything turns out okay.

Eat, drink and be merry as some wise person once said.

The Housemartins - Caravan Of Love

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My Albums Of The Year

2014 was a pretty good year album wise for me. There were quite a few that I was eagerly anticipating the release of from old favourites like Roddy Frame and The Afghan Whigs to debuts from the likes of The Amazing Snakeheads. Most of those I have bought since the end of September/beginning of October haven't had a fair listen as since then turntable time has been chiefly hogged by two albums. In previous years the albums by Caribou,  Allo Darlin', Cold Specks and the Fat White Family would have made the top ten, however not this year. I suspect that if I had first heard of Coves earlier in the year, Soft Friday would be in there too as the more I listen to it the better it gets. My second favourite album of the year has been ruled out this list as it is a live album from a show recorded in April of 2013 but Nowhere Is Home by Dexys should be in everyone's collection as it is stunning. I am really envious of people like Davy H who saw this live as it must have been something quite, quite special. Another notable mention must go to the soundtrack of Under The Skin by Mica Levi which is quite disturbing and eerie and not the most comfortable of listens but still pretty rewarding.

10 - Jamie T - Carry On The Grudge

Jamie T returns after a five year break, a bit calmer with more actual singing than on the previous two albums but the old Jamie T returns on tracks like Rabbit Hole and Zombie. 

9- The Afghan Whigs - Do The Beast

Greg Dulli resurrected his original band for another foray into the sleazier side of life. At times Dulli pushes his voice to its limits which can't be doing his vocal chords any good but sounds great in the mix of rock and soul that this band always did so well.

8 - Comet Gain - Paperback Ghost

It has always saddened me that Comet Gain aren't better known. Possibly this is due to the fact that there sound changes so much, sometimes pretty punky and thrashy and at other times beautifully crafted indie pop full of melancholia. This album has quite a lush full sound to it with some lovely orchestration. I have heard it compared to Belle and Sebastian and to a certain extent I would agree but for me there is more consistency about this album than there is on most B&S records.

7- Nick Waterhouse - Holly

The second album from Nick Waterhouse proved the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" More retro Rhythm and Blues for late nights in small dark clubs. Also Waterhouse's performance at King Tut's was gig of the year for me just sorry that the place wasn't fuller.

6- Lucius - Wildewoman

I happened on Lucius by chance when checking through Youtube for The Afghan Whigs KEXP live session and am really glad that I did. The band's sound and the look of the two front women harks back to 60s Girl Groups. The album contains lots of lovely harmonies and a really nice guitar sound especially on Go Home. It does dip slightly around the end of side one but overall a very good debut.

5- Roddy Frame - Seven Dials

Possibly the release I have awaited with the most anticipation for a long time and which initially really disappointed me although that may have something to do with having extremely high expectations which I suspect would have been impossible to meet. It has grown on me hugely however I fear I will never learn to love Postcard it is just too horribly Fleetwood Mac middle of the road pap. Sorry Roddy.

4 - Aphex Twin - Syro

Out of the blue, or so it seemed came a new release from Richard D James. Unmistakeably Aphex Twin but not envelope pushing but still streaks ahead of most producers of electronic music. An album that we didn't know we were waiting for but now it's here it's one that was needed.

3- The Amazing Snakeheads - Amphetamine Ballads

The soundtrack to a night fuelled by Buckie, weed and speed. 

2- Kate Tempest - Everbody Down

Brought to my attention one Saturday afternoon when she performed a live session on Gilles Peterson's show on 6Music. I immediately went onto the Ninja Tunes website and bought the album. I suppose it is a concept album as it tells the story of the lives of three people trying to get by. The music by Dan Carey never overwhelms Tempest's words but compliments them. There have been comparisons to The Streets, A Grand Down Come For Free, however the narrative here is far more believable than Skinner's.

1- Slow Club - Complete Surrender

To say this album surprised me is like saying Usain Bolt is quite good at running . The more I listen to it the better it gets and it has been played a lot over the past couple of months. Strangely none of music papers or the websites have mentioned this album. It must only be me, Scott, George and CC that rate it but it is an album you need to own. Trust me on this.

Shit! I forgot about the Woodentops, Granular Tales.

Monday, 22 December 2014

My Ultimate Christmas Song

This is the one.

Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

And here is a rather good cover by The Bang Girl Group Revue.

The Bang Girl Group Revue - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Friday, 19 December 2014

It's Friday . . . Let's Dance

Twas the Friday before Christmas and all of the pubs were filled with amateur drinkers. The type of people you only see out and about at this time of the year. You know the ones, with their stupid Santa hats, ordering ten drinks all one at a time after they have gone back and consulted the group they are with at least twice , the last of which is always a bloody pint of Guinness. The type that say thing like "cheer up it's Christmas" while waving bit's of mistletoe about leching at anybody in the vicinity.

Can you tell I used to hate working in the pub on the last Friday before Christmas, it was second only to Lanimer night which was like carnage Friday only tenfold.

I think a bit of spiritual house music is the order of the day. I am not ashamed to admit I cried when I heard this song the first time.

Have a good weekend people and if venturing out this evening, to paraphrase Sergeant Phil from Hill Street Blues, be careful out there.

South Street Player - (Who?) Keeps Changing Your Mind (The Night mix)

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Wendy Rene 1947 - 2014

Wendy Rene - What Will Tomorrow Bring

It's Christmas And You're Boring Me

I have put it on record before that I don't have a lot of time for the cynical, sneering, ironic indie Christmas tune. I think either do it right or don't bother, produce something really good and that way the exploitative pap won't get a look in.

So why then you may say am I posting something called "It's Christmas And You're Boring Me"?

Well because it's by Slow Club and it illustrates the progression of the duo from the first album, the Christmas cd that this comes from came out in 2009 as did Yeah So, their debut. Also, yes I am  contradicting myself here, I actually quite like it.

Slow Club - It's Christmas And You're Boring Me.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The First Of Just A Few, I Promise

This for me without doubt is the best festive song of recent times as it harks back, some would say rips off the sound and vibe of the greatest of all Christmas records, Spector's Christmas album. It also came on lovely green vinyl. And I have just about excised from my mind the fact that it was used on a advert for Dobies Garden Centers a few Christmases ago, I hope they got a decent wedge for that.

The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

California Stars

Billy Bragg and Wilco weren't a collaboration that I had ever considered prior to hearing the news that they had collaborated on an album of songs where they had put to music some of the thousand plus sets of lyrics that Woody Guthrie had completed but not put to music or published in his lifetime. When the first volume of the "Mermaid Avenue" was released in 1998 I didn't buy it straight off as at that time it didn't really appeal to me it wasn't until a couple of years later that one Sunday while wandering round Fopp I decided to take a punt on it as it was at a bargain price as part of the promotion for the second volume in what ended up being a trilogy of releases. Even then I still had a few reservations as I hadn't heard any of it but I was pleasantly surprised when I got home and put it on. One thing about the album though, is you do have to really listen as it's all in the lyrics, sure the music complements them but the clever, funny,  incredibly honest words are what this album and the other two volumes are all about and for that reason alone I don't listen to them as often as they warrant as you need to take time out sit down and just listen which is a luxury in short supply these days.

California Stars is one of my favourite tracks from the first volume, a song according to Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter who first approached both Bragg and Wilco asking them to look at her father's lyrics, is about Woody being homesick for California where he amongst thousands of others from his native Oklahoma moved to during the 30s.

Billy Bragg and Wilco - California Stars

Monday, 15 December 2014

Wade In The Water

I've posted the Ramsey Lewis instrumental of Wade In The Water previously and I would have put money on that I had also posted Marlena Shaw's cracking version but apparently not.  I have five different versions of the song which isn't that many seeing the amount of people that have covered it over the years. Not sure there are many interpretations as forceful as that of the one laid down in 1968 by Big Mama Thornton. She really belts it out but then again should you expect anything else of the voice behind the definitive version of Hound Dog.

Big Mama Thornton - Wade In Water

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Mellow Sunday

I first heard this track a long time ago now it seems as it was on the John Peel show, obviously around this time of the year. Just one of the hundreds of bands I first heard on his show that I have to be thankful for.

Okkervil River - Listening To Otis Reading At Home During Christmas

Saturday, 13 December 2014

New Music Saturday Returns!

Rejoice, Rejoice! the much missed, by no one really series that shows that Drew's finger is on the pulse and down with the kids.

This week something a lovely track popped up in my inbox from Gemstone Heist, a transatlantic duo, one hailing from Kentucky the other from Liverpool who describe their music as "indie folk" and cite The Beatles, The Stone Roses and The Arctic Monkey's amongst their influences. I will let them off with the Beatles on account of the track being so lovely. I was swithering whether to post this in the mellow Sunday spot but decided to resurrect New Music Saturday instead.

More info on Gemstone Heist can be found here


Friday, 12 December 2014

It's Friday . . . Let's Dance

Let's go back to 2001, I could have sworn it was longer ago than that but the record label tells me different. Like most people Groove Armada first came to my attention when I heard the gorgeous At The River, a track much diminished by it's ubiquity on things like Now That's What I Called Chilled, Down at The Cafe Del Mar type compilations. But I digress. Superstylin' was the first single from the duo's third album, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub).

I'm out with a couple of former work colleagues tonight and I'm hoping that it stays civilised and doesn't get messy. Tomorrow is the first home game in four weeks when we take on Dunfermline. It would be great to send that big greetin' face Jefferies back up the road with a more miserable puss than normal.

Have a good weekend people.

Groove Armada - Superstylin'

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Winter Is Here

Not sure about weather bombs but winter has definitely arrived in earnest to the frozen land to the north. In other news I  have just witnessed the spectacle that was Leo's nativity, which was, well, interesting is the word I will use. He was a percussionist not sure he will be replacing Clem Burke as my favourite drummer any time soon but he did perform his task with gusto.

This seemed appropriate what with the snow and all.

Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Your Silent Face

I have been down in Manchester since yesterday and hopefully last night I met up with SA for a few beers (post written on Sunday) so a bit of music from one of the best albums of the 80s  from the second best city in the UK seems appropriate.

Whenever I listen to Your Silent Face I think of snow on the ground, being 15 and unsuccessfully trying to find an overcoat in Oxfam to fit a rather skinny peely wally teenager. It also reminds me of a rather troubled pal of the time, Toby.

New Order - Your Silent Face