Forthcoming from Richard Thompson

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a new Richard Thompson album is always cause for celebration around 17 Seconds Towers.

The man is due to release his new album 13 Rivers on September 14. In his own words “This has been an intense year for myself and my family, getting older doesn’t mean that life gets easier! There are surprises around every bend. I think this reflects in the immediacy of the stories, and the passion in the songs. Sometimes I am speaking directly about events, at other times songs are an imaginative spin on what life throws at you. The music is just a mirror to life, but we try to polish that mirror as brightly as possible.”

The tracklisting is as follows:

The Storm Won’t Come
The Rattle Within
Her Love Was Meant For Me
Bones Of Gilead
The Dog In You
Trying
Do All These Tears Belong To You?
My Rock, My Rope
You Can’t Reach Me
O Cinderella
No Matter
Pride
Shaking The Gates

The first two tracks to be released from the album ‘The Storm Won’t Come’ and ‘Bones Of Gilead’ can be streamed below:

Presenting…Grand Champ 1990

Scott Longmuir, resident of the wider Edinburgh area, has already given us both three-piece Thieves In Suits, and then folk-rock group The Last Battle. The latter’s debut album Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea I was privileged to put out on the label associated with this blog, 17 Seconds Records, in 2010. (My son recently pointed it out -‘That’s the album where you’re thanked, Dad!’)

That was then…and this is now. Scott’s latest musical project is Grand Champ 1990, which sees him working in more of an electronica vein under the name Grand Champ 1990. The first track to do the rounds is entitled ‘Sayonara’ (slightly ironic, as ‘Sayonara’ is Japanese for ‘Goodbye’ not ‘Hello’ but he’s actually a decent bloke, so we’ll let that pass. For now.)

This is taken from an EP, entitled Pressure Points, which will be released on September 21. Also featuring the tracks ‘A Big Love,’ ‘Photocopies,’ ‘Look For Me’ and ‘Lost Boys’ you can pre-order it here. Which would be a nice thing to do, no?

And, by the way, that is actually the man himself, back in his karate days…

Album Review – Spare Snare

Spare Snare – ‘Sounds’ (Chute Records)

So, if you’re in the lucky position of being able to celebrate twenty-five years of being a band, how should you mark that milestone in style? Well, if you’re Dundee’s legendary lo-fi indie-pop band Spare Snare, you get in touch with legendary record producer Steve Albini. You ask him if he might be up for co-hosting a Scottish Engineers’ Workshop with the band, and recording (a word Albini has always seemed more comfortable with than producer) Spare Snare for the rest of the week.

Fortunately, for both the band, and for us, the answer was a definite yes. Creative Scotland stepped in to fund it, the band got to record ten songs with Albini from their back catalogue, and we, the listeners, get an album that stands strong in its own right. To top it off, the album was recorded at the legendary Chem 19 studios in Hamilton, where a number of legendary Scottish indie acts have recorded (including Delgados, Mogwai and Arab Strap).

Sure, the notion of re-recorded material doesn’t usually inspire confidence, evoking the memories of budget compilations that feature sub-standard versions of already available material. One of the real successes of this album is how it sounds fresh, as if these songs were always meant to be heard together. It’s a perfect introduction to the Snare – this is their thirteenth album and a fantastic album in its own right.

Not only that, but it’s amazing how the styles go from the mellow ‘Grow’ to the sneering and disarmingly self-deprecating ‘We Are The Snare.’ The former has dreamy trumpets, the latter plays off acoustic guitars against analogue synths that evoke the post-punk-new-pop snare of early Ultravix and equally early Human League. Sometimes the word ‘lo-fi’ can evoke the sensation that it might be a difficult listen. Not at all in the case of Sounds which is an album that’s easy to love, without being ‘easy listening’ (yet another point in its favour). As ‘Bugs’ draws the album to a close with its chorus of ‘Goodbye’ reflections show it’s been a brilliant thirty three minutes, sparking the urge to a)listen to it all again and b) listen to their substantial back catalogue.

There are days when I wonder if the word ‘indie’ means anything anymore, or even whether I’m still excited by music. There’s something so refreshing about this band that puts those sort of doubts aside. There’s an amazing indie pedigree to this album, which just adds to it all. Straightforward without being band, exciting without being overblown. What more do we need?

****1/2

Sounds is out now on Chute Records.

Forthcoming from Pale Waves

Pale Waves have released details of their forthcoming debut album. Having seen the band support The Cure in London earlier this month, and enjoyed the music I have heard so far, it is set to be a good one.

My Mind Makes Noises will be released on September 14, and the tracklisting is as follows:

Eighteen
There’s A Honey
Noises
Came In Close
Loveless Girl
Drive
When Did I Lose It All
She
One More Time
Television Romance
Red
Kiss
Black
Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die)

The latest track to be unveiled from the album is the opening track ‘Eighteen.’

Just in case you haven’t heard Pale Waves, here’s a few other tracks from the album:

‘There’s A Honey’ (as featured in last year’s Festive Fifty

‘Noises’

‘Kiss’

Forthcoming from Suede

Somehow – call it middle-age, or more likely, just sheer music overload – I missed the fact that Suede have a new album coming out in September. Their eighth album is entitled The Blue Hour, and will be released on September 21.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. As One
2. Wastelands
3. Mistress.
4. Beyond The Outskirts
5. Chalk Circles
6. Cold Hands
7. Life Is Golden
8. Roadkill
9. Tides
10. Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You
11. Dead Bird
12. All The Wild Places
13. The Invisibles
14. Flytipping

You can stream the first two tracks to be made available below, ‘The Invisibles’ and ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You,’ which suggest that this may be one of Suede’s best albums if the rest of the album is of this quality…

Album Review – Cowboy Junkies

Cowboy Junkies – ‘All That Reckoning.’ (Proper)

It may come as a bit of a surprise to realise that Cowboy Junkies has released over fifteen albums over the course of their career. This year marks thirty years since the release of their second album The Trinity Session, which, though recorded on single microphone, went on to sell over a million copies. Though there are many bands who combine blues, folk and country, this Canadian band’s approach remains unique, and still beguiling. It may start with Margo Timmins’ voice – but that’s just part of the picture.

Like one of Canada’s other great musical exports, Neil Young (whose song ‘Powerfinger’ the band covered on their third album, 1990’s The Caution Horses), there’s something very affecting about the use of the opening song, ‘All That Reckoning’ re-appearing in far more electrifying form towards the end of the record (see what Young did with ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ on 1989’s Freedom). Though the opening is a slow and heavy blues, the ‘Part 2′ version’ continues at the same speed but with an intensity that evokes Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr, maybe even Swans, without sounding anything like those acts, and somehow manages to sound utterly contemporary.

It’s their first album since the four part Nomad series that appeared in stages at the start of the decade. Like many other acts, looking what is happening south of the Canadian border, the album takes a personal and political stance. On ‘The Things We Do To Each Other’ they deliver one of the most potent lines of the Trump presidential era: ‘Fear is not so far from hate, so if you get the folks to fear, it only takes one small twist to kick it up a gear.’ Gulp. Along with the next two songs that follow on the album ‘Wooden Stairs’ and ‘Sing Me A Song’ the band remind you that, actually, they know how to rock, too, thankfully without resorting to cliché. Should you be looking formore of a mellower sound, ‘Mountain Stream’ and the closing ‘The Possessed’ offer it in spades.

So, yes, it’s definitely a Cowboy Junkies album. It’s certainly not trying to make another album in the vein of one of those aforementioned records from their earlier years. It’s a record which shows that a band who have been together without a lineup change since before their first album can continue to innovate and explore. As anyone who likes to savour albums might hope, successive listens reveal more strands of what is going on below the surface. It’s never been easier to ‘find’ albums, so put this on your priority list.

****

All That Reckoning is out now on Proper.

Track of the day #58: Waterboys

So, yesterday, I got one of many contacts from people about new music. However, this one was from one Brother Paul, keyboardist for The Waterboys. He’s just produced an album coming out on August 10 Jimmie Smith plays tribute to Jimmy Smith, about which more anon.

as much a showcasw for Brother Paul as Messrs Wickham and Scott.

Track of the day #57: The Twilight Sad

The Twilight Sad have recently signed to Rock Action, Mogwai’s own label. There are hints of new events happening, but first up, they have unveiled a new track, entitled ‘I/m Not Here [missing face].’ As you might expect, it’s rather fab. As I have noted elsewhere, the single sees the band marry the motoric of German progressive rock to the classical Piano work of Erik Satie. As the band’s Andy MacFarlane explains:

“I was attempting to play ‘Ogives’ by Erik Satie, but I’m really shit at the piano so it didn’t happen, but I came up with the music using those chord shapes. So from my perspective, it’s a bad cover version of that piece of music.” The tracks can be streamed below.

 

The band’s tourdates can be found here.

Album Review – TT

TT -‘Lovelaws’ (Caroline)

TT is perhaps better known as Theresa Waynan, singer and guitarist with LA indie band Warpaint. Having given us three albums and an EP, she now unveils her debut solo album.

It’s perhaps not unreasonable to ask how it compares to Warpaint. This record sees her explore a more keyboard driven sound than Warpaint, closer to electro-pop than indie guitar and it is mostly a one-person affair. Bandmates Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Morzgawa help out on bass and drums respectively.

In its favour, the songs hang together to produce a coherent atmosphere that evokes the likes of Goldfrapp and Bat For Lashes. There are some solid songs – particularly ‘Mykki’ and ‘Too Sweet’ which bookend the album. The problem is that whilst the album is perfectly pleasant, even repeated plays fail to get the songs to linger once they have come to an end.

It’s certainly not a complete failure as a record, but it needs to have more substance to elevate it beyond being merely very pleasant.

**

(yes, I know this album has been out for a few weeks now…I am trying to catch-up with a number of records!)

Interview – 20 Questions with Cecil

The Berkshire singer has made one of 17 Seconds’ favourite tracks so far this year in ‘Black Maria’ – so she agreed to submit to 20 questions…

1. Where are you and what’s the weather like?
In my flat in London just about to go out and find some outfits for the upcoming festivals! The weather is looking a bit overcast with the sun poking through occasionally.
2. What’s your favourite record of all time – and why?
‘Strawberry Swing’ by Coldplay. I love this song because it gets me into such a positive emotionally reflective mood.
3. What’s the best thing about Berkshire?
I’ve lived in London for the past few years but I do still go back home when I can. It’s a bit of a contrast as my life in London is busy and all go go go, so when I go back home it’s nice to see family and friends and just chill out a little
4. What are your favourite films?
When Harry Met Sally, Phantom Of The Opera, Beauty And The Beast (Animated version)
5. What are your favourite books?
A Lotus Grows In The Mud – Goldie Hawn’s autobiography, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Collector by John Fowles.
6. What are your favourite TV shows?
Fraser, Friends and Sex And The City.
7. What was the first record you bought and where did you buy it from?
Green Day – American Idiot Album from an HMV store!
8. When did you last embarrass yourself?
I am such a clumsy person I’m always tripping up everywhere I go, so embarrassing myself is a daily occurrence!
9. Do you believe in God?
I am spiritual.
10. Which living musician would you most like to work with?
Working with Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay would be a lifelong dream made!
11. Do you have any pets?
Sadly not at the moment I’m dying to get another dog!
12. What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at one of your own concerts?
Carrying on playing at the piano whilst a fight broke out and having to duck flying bar stools!!!
13. Who would you like to play you in the film of your life?
Gemma Arterton!
14. When was the last time you cried?
Last Saturday.
15. Have you ever been starstruck?
Yes! When I shared a stage with Mel C (Sporty Spice) at Pub In The Park in Marlow;  childhood dream made! #spicegirlsforever
16. What were you like at school?
I was quite shy and didn’t really feel like I fitted in.
17. If you hadn’t become a musician, what would you be doing?
A Crime Scene Investigator.
18. What is your culinary speciality?
Spaghetti bolognese –  my mums recipe!
19. Who or what is the love of your life?
Music, family and friends!
20. What are your plans for the rest of 2018?

Performing at some amazing festivals including Hampton Court Festival supporting Jools Holland! Carfest North and South, Pub In The Park Knutsford supporting Gabriel Aplin and Toploader! And finishing recording my album!