Christmas Posts 2016 part 6

Hmm, I didn’t intend to stop blogging for ten days, but went off on holiday, and was focused on that. Not least the fact that I saw my beloved Cure in both Manchester and London.

I have also been thinking about my end of year lists, both in terms of tracks (to be presented, as always as the Festive 50) and albums. Those will appear here shortly, but for now, on with the Christmas posts.

I have featured the Wedding Present many times here over the years, and rate them hugely as a band. That’s singer and Weddoes Mainman David Gedge who can be seen above. Their first contribution come from their 1992 single ‘No Christmas/Step Into Christmas.’ The story of this single and its place in Wedding Present history has been told many times so enjoy the music – can be found on the Hit Parade compilation.

In 2008, the year they topped the 17 Seconds Festive 50 chart with ‘The Trouble With Men’ the band released this gorgeous single.

And yes ‘Step Into Christmas’ is indeed the Elton John song. The Weddoes have done a number of great cover versions over the last thirty years, though it seems unfair to purely focus on these when David Gedge is such as amazing songwriter himself…but I give you this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Posts 2016 part 5

Given that she’s on target for her first UK no.1 album in nearly 30 years with Before The Dawn, and it is nearly  December, it’s time to feature Kate Bush and her Christmas music.

‘December Will Be Magic Again’ was featured in her 1979 Christmas Special, and released as a standalone single the following year. As far as I can find, the only video for the song is this performance from the special, and no other promo was made.

In 1993, ‘Home For Christmas’ was a b-side to ‘Moments Of Pleasure’ taken from her then current album The Red Shoes.

The last decade has seen much more activity from Ms. Bush, including her Christmas-themed album 50 Words For Snow. You should have heard it already, but you can stream it below:

And just in case you haven’t heard it, from the new live album, her awesome new version of ‘And Dream Of Sheep’ (it’s not a Christmas track, but you can never have too much Kate Bush):

 

Christmas Posts 2016 part 4

siouxsie_sioux_1930282

I have posted tonight’s music before, of course, but that shouldn’t be a sign that I don’t care. Rather: that I think it’s worth hearing again.

Siouxsie and the Banshees covered the traditional French Christmas carol ‘Il Est Né, Le Divin Enfant’ (trans: ‘ He Is Born, The Divine Child’ – read more on wiki) back in 1982. This video is from French TV, from when Robert Smith was in the band. The track was released as the b-side to the single ‘Melt!’ and can be found on the box set Downside Up.

Later on, in 2011, Talking Heads off shoot Tom Tom Club covered the track as well.

Christmas Posts 2016 part 3

yoko-ono-010

So, today’s post (on the first Sunday of Advent) is dedicated to Yoko Ono’s song ‘Listen, The Snow Is Falling.’

Yoko’s version can be found on re-issues of The Wedding Album, which she made with John Lennon. While some of her recorded work can be very hard to listen to, this is really rather beautiful. Interestingly, there is no wiki page for this song.

Perhaps the best-known cover version is by Galaxie 500, who featured it in their third album This Is Our Music, released in 1990.

Another version of the song, which I hadn’t heard until recently is by Thea Gilmore, taken from her 2009 album Strange Communion.

Christmas Posts 2016 part 2

tom-lehrer-1

I have my Parents to thank for introducing me to Tom Lehrer, at the impressionable age of 7. I’m sure some people think that 7 is too young to understand satire, and they’re probably right, but this helped shape into the man I am today, so thanks Mum and Dad.

There are people better qualified than I to lead a discussion on who is the greatest American satirist…let’s just say Lehrer is one of them.

There’s a number of well-known Lehrer songs, I’ve always loved this.

Christmas Posts 2016 part 1

Housewives on Prozac

So…there’s just one month to go until Christmas, and with my partner as an American having celebrated Thanksgiving (yes, she still celebrates it in Scotland), so it’s time to start the annual Christmas posts on the blog.

As is my (self-imposed) tradition, I will start with Housewives on Prozac and the evergreen ‘ I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall.’

Led by the legendary Martha Joy Rose -‘Woman, Mother, Human, Rocker, Educator, and Activist’, you can find out more about her and the band here.

Not to be confused with the band Housewives, obviously, you can buy the album I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall on iTunes, which is also worth it for the funny, if too true ‘Eat Your Damn Spaghetti.’

Album Review – BODY/HEAD

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BODY/HEAD (yes, those capital letters are intentional) are a duo consisting of Bill Nace (whose previous acts include X.O.4, Vampire Belt, and Ceylon Mange), and the legendary Kim Gordon (of Free Kitten and Sonic Youth). This album is a live record which documents a single show in 2014 at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Those familiar with Kim Gordon’s work as bassist and singer in Sonic Youth for nearly thirty years will know that she has managed to keep a foot in two camps simultaneously, that of leftfield rock and improvisation. Those only familiar with her work on the more mainstream album releases she has been involved may find this release confusing, but it makes sense within the work she has produced over more than thirty years.

While this is a live album of only three tracks, this is neither a quick cash-in nor a conventional live album. It features 2014 single ‘The Show Is Over’ and three tracks from their 2013 debut as BODY/HEAD Coming Apart, with ‘Abstract’ and ‘Actress’ now being presented as a medley. In the spirit of their work, this is not simply a live recording of their recorded work, but rather, that the songs that have been recorded here are the basis for further improvisation.

So, the crowd sound appreciative, but how does it work for the casual listener? I’m not sure that improvised music is much for the casual listener by definition, but it is an intriguing proposition. Like much music that may be considered avant garde or experimental, it does have to be given time and attention to listen to what is at work here. Sure there are moments of what may be noise and feedback, yet there are moments of real beauty, too. These aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, either. It makes for an atmospheric document, which it must be said was well recorded and without overdubs.

On their aforementioned debut, BODY/HEAD covered two Nina Simone songs in a style which not only turned the originals on their head, but almost inside out as well. Their live dates have been fairly limited so far, but on the basis of this, there’s a sense that this is a pairing that does not intend to repeat itself. While No Waves may not find a huge audience, there’s more than enough to keep those interested listening and examining here.

***

No Waves is out now on Matador

 

Don’t panic!

For those of you still reading, honestly, I am still here. It has been an exhausting few months, hence the not a lot of posts on the blog. Coupled with being ill, work and studying for a MSc, turning forty and other stuff… I have done a few reviews for God Is In The TV, including the rather awesome Wave Pictures album.

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That can be read by clicking this link here and you should get a wee taster for the album from these two videos here:

More to follow tomorrow. Honestly

Album Review – Kristin Hersh

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Kristin Hersh – Wyatt At The Coyote Palace. (Omnibus Press)
This year marks thirty years since Kristin Hersh made her debut, leading her band Throwing Muses on their self-titled debut. Thirty years on, she remains a truly unique artist, a reminder that the word ‘indie’ is short for independent, as in thinking and working apart from the crowd, as opposed to just guitar-lead music.Her first solo album was 1994’s Hips and Makers, which led by the Michael Stipe featuring ‘Your Ghost’ single remains the most successful record of her career. There may not be anything quite as immediate here – but nor should we expect there to be: Hersh has never been about catering to expectations.  This, her ninth album is a double, twenty-four tracks over two CDs (though us reviewers sadly don’t get a book. For the record, I have now purchased it). For those who have followed her career – and shame on those who haven’t! – the music runs the spectrum from folky to discordant rock and in the case of ‘Some Dumb Runaway’ and ”Detox’ chopping and changing between the two. It’s largely an acoustic album, on the whole, and as is her style, she keeps the listener guessing as to what might happen next.

The title references one of her four sons, Wyatt, who for a time spent time at an abandoned apartment building near her Rhode Island studio that had been taken over by coyotes. As ever, there’s a confessional tone to proceedings, but this is never a wallowing record. There’s a number of excellent songs within – ‘Bright’ ‘Day 3’ and ‘Bubblenet’, though for my money ‘In Stitches’ is the standout track here. Sure it may not be the easiest of albums to digest in one sitting, or indeed the first couple of listens.

Be prepared to be bewildered and to spend time with the record to get to grips with it. Certainly there are more immediate albums in her back catalogue- but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy of your ears. Definitely worth spending time with.

***1/2

Wyatt At The Coyote Palace is out now on Omnibus Press
 http://youtu.be/93jt-HPATGQ

Presenting…Vukovar

vukovar

Every so often, a submission in my email reminds exactly why I write the blog. To champion music that I feel deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Tonight, an email from one Marilyn Roxie, a synth musician who runs a label called Vulpiano Records made me feel I had to write before sleeping.

The band in question are a three-piece called Vukovar. They are Rick Clarke, Dan Shea, and Buddy Preston. They claim to come from the Brutalist wastelands in the North of England. Amongst their interests and influences appear to be ‘Ultra-Realism. Depravity. Monotony. Concrete. Hedonism. Silence’. Vukovar describe themselves as idealists, voyeurs and totalitarians. Whether any of this is true or not doesn’t really matter. (It’s a hundred times more interesting than a band who claim that their main influences are Oasis and the Beatles and that they just make music for themselves and if anyone else likes it, that’s a bonus.’) They produce music that sounds like the meeting point of post-punk with post-rock. I have played their new single ‘The Three Shades’ incessantly tonight.

The video for the single can be seen here:

The single and b-side can be downloaded legally for free at the Vulpiano bandcamp page here .

Additionally you can check out more music from Vukovar’s bandcamp page here.