17 Seconds Festive Fifty 2017

  1. Young Fathers ‘Only God Knows.’
  2. Lana Del Rey ‘Love.’
  3. Stormzy ‘Big For Your Boots.’
  4. Meursault ‘Klopfgeist.’
  5. Deerhoof feat Jenn Wasner ‘I Will Spite Survive.’
  6. Dave ‘Question Time.’
  7. Breeders ‘Wait In The Car.’
  8. Siobhan Wilson ‘Whatever Helps.’
  9. Playing House ‘Jelly Legs.’
  10. Attic Choir ‘shHAarp.’
  11. National ‘The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness.’
  12. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds ‘Holy Mountain.’
  13. Jammz ‘Oh Please.’
  14. Meursault ‘I Will Kill Again.’
  15. Mogwai ‘Party In The Dark.’
  16. Belle & Sebastian ‘I’ll Be Your Pilot.’
  17. Wolf Alice ‘Yuk Foo.’
  18. Mark Lanegan ‘Nocturne.’
  19. Loyle Carner ‘No CD.’
  20. Go! Team ‘Semicircle Song.’
  21. Cigarettes After Sex ‘K.’
  22. Sparks ‘Edith Piaf (Said It Better).’
  23. U.S. Girls ‘Mad As Hell.’
  24. Future Islands ‘Ran.’
  25. Erasure ‘Love You To The Sky.’
  26. Mogwai ‘Coolverine.’
  27. LCD Soundsystem ‘Call The Police.’
  28. Arcade Fire ‘Everything Now.’
  29. Alvvays ‘In Undertow.’
  30. Ice Cube ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop.’
  31. Lana Del Rey featuring The Weeknd ‘Lust For Life.’
  32. Lorde ‘Green Light.’
  33. Gold Filter ‘Dust.’
  34. Chilly Gonzalez & Jarvis Cocker ‘Tearjerker.’
  35. LCD Soundsystem ‘American Dream.’
  36. Spook School ‘Less Than Perfect.’
  37. Parcels ‘Overnight.’
  38. Deerhoof featuring Awkwafina ‘Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You.’
  39. Belle & Sebastian ‘We Were Beautiful.’
  40. Cigarettes After Sex ‘Each Time You Fall In Love.’
  41. London Grammar ‘Rooting For You.’
  42. Big Shaq ‘Man’s Not Hot.’
  43. Morrissey ‘Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s On the Stage.’
  44. Young Fathers ‘Lord.’
  45. Jesus & Mary Chain ‘Amputation.’
  46. Pale Honey ‘Why Do I Always Feel This Way?’
  47. Alvvays ‘Dreams Tonite.’
  48. Depeche Mode ‘Where The Revolution?’
  49. Pale Waves ‘There’s A Honey.’
  50. Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert ‘Bad And Boujee.’

Lest we forget

2016 Christine and the Queens ‘Tilted.’

2015 Courtney Barnett ‘Pedestrian At Best.’

2014 St. Vincent ‘Digital Witness.’

2013 Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky.’

2012 Grimes ‘Genesis.’ 

2011 Hiatus featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson ‘Insurrection.’

2010 eagleowl ‘No Conjunction.’

2009 Peter Parker ‘Swallow the Rockets.’

2008 Wedding Present ‘The Trouble With Men.’

2007 Emma Pollock ‘Adrenaline.’

2006 Long Blondes ‘Weekend Without Make-Up.’

 

Christmas Posts 2017 part 8 – Spook School

 

Having written about Spook School from their very early days (and indeed early tracks appeared in the annual 17 Seconds Festive 50 lists in years gone by), it’s good to see just how much progress they have made.

The band will release their new album – their third –Could It Be Different? on January  26 2018. In the meantime, this Friday (December 15) they will release a Christmas single ‘Someone To Share Christmas With.’

Bass player Anna Corey says: “This is a song about figuring out how you want to conduct your own relationships when it feels like the world is full of conflicting advice about the ‘best’ way to do it, whether that be monogamy, polyamory, or something else entirely. The refrain relates to the ideal of having one important person in your life with whom you’ll always spend your special occasions. Merry Christmas from The Spook School!”

…and as a taster for the new album, the rather gorgeous ‘Less Than Perfect’:

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Still Alive
2. Best of Intentions
3. Less Than Perfect
4. Keep in Touch
5. Bad Year
6. Alright (Sometimes)
7. I Only Dance When I Want To
8. Hope She Loves You
9. While You Were Sleeping
10. Body
11. High School

Gig review: Mark Lanegan/Duke Garwood

Mark Lanegan/Duke Garwood

Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, December 4, 2017

Duke Garwood sounds like he should be from the southern states of America. As I comment to the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds, I assume (having heard a fair bit of his music) that he’s from one of the southern states. Actually: he’s actually English. But to hell with geographical and bibliographical concerns – his swampy, slow solo blues with his gravelly vocals is rather fine. And it serves as an apt opener for a headline set by his sometime collaborator Mark Lanegan.

Mark Lanegan couldn’t really be from anywhere else than the greater Seattle area. Four decades into his career, much has been written about those he knew no longer with us. But let us dwell on the present. Lanegan opens with ‘Death’s Head Tattoo’ – the opening track from new album Gargoyle before going straight into the equally fine ‘Gravedigger’s Song’ from 2012’s Blues Funeral album. That, young uns, is how to get your gig off to a fine start.

In the spirit of his last few albums, it’s a bluesy grunge sound with hints of southern gothic – that design on the front cover of the new record evokes decaying churches, and whilst simplistic, it’s just so apt. While both Gargoyle and Phantom Home showed that he’d perhaps (re-)connected with the 80’s college rock of his youth, it’s telling that live he’s less 80s sounding than the album. That voice, of course, is gravelly, yet warm, and it’s clear why he comes across as survivor.

Not least on standout tracks like ‘Emperor’ and the utterly brilliant ‘Nocturne,’ the latter one of the best songs he’s ever but his vocals to. Sure I could draw comparisons to other artists, musically and in terms of longevity, to say nothing of reeling off the long list of those he’s collaborated with- but why bother? He’s doing just fine as he is.

Christmas Posts 2017 part 7 – Holy Moly & the Crackers

The painfully slow-running of this computer would drive me to drink had I not given up many years ago.

So tonight’s post is a bit shorter than it might otherwise have been.

Holy Moly and the Crackers released a wonderful album a few months back called Salem, which you should check out below:

They have also released a Christmas tune entitled ‘Punch Drunk Christmas Eve’ which you can stream at the top of the page. It’s a great introduction to the band if you haven’t checked them out already. It’s great to have new tracks to add to the Christmas arsenal, rather than just the familiar favourites.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to lie down in a darkened room for a bit…

 

Gig review: faUst/James Yorkston

Edinburgh Summerhall, November 29

‘There’s a woman knitting in stage!’ I remark to my +1 as I find my way back from the bar.

‘It’s Edinburgh,’ he observes.

True. This is a city where if you think you’ve just seen a pink elephant, you probably have. Even outside of August. And it’s Faust (well, faUst). Thank God for bands and places that challenge our idea of what is normal.

The evening begins with support from a solo James Yorkston. If the Scottish singer-songwriter and the legendary German rockers seem an odd pairing on paper, in the flesh it actually works. Yorkston is shortly to release his twelfth studio album on Domino, and while he admits to being nervous about doing his first solo performance in nearly a year, he is warmly received by the crowd. Like Faust, of whom he has been a fan since hearing them on the John Peel show, he is a performer who knows how to connect with crowds. It’s both focused and spontaneous; he hadn’t planned to play ‘St. Patrick’ but when someone yells for it he does indeed perform it a couple of songs later (that person was me). He’s amassed a great body of work, and it’s great to hear songs like ‘When The Haar Rolls In’ up close and personal.

I’m not sure how our knitting heroine comes on stage, but when she clocks me staring at her puzzled, she meets my eye and carries on.

This version of faUst are so spelled to distinguish them from another version of the band touring known as Hans Irmler’s Faust. This version of the band are the original rhythm section Jean-Herve Peron on bass and drummer Werni ‘Zappi’ Diermaier, joined by a guitarist cum keyboardist and our mysterious knitter. Band come on, bow a bass and guitar, while ‘Zappi’ stands and plays drums with one arm, building to a glorious crescendo.

Peron may be a little eccentric but in a good way, for after a couple of numbers, he actually reads out a list of people to thank. Somehow this seems far more sincere and genuine than  so many others doing this. James Yorkston joins them for ‘Chromatic’ and the set provides a wonderful example of what make the band so beguiling.

Sure there’s the famous ‘motorik’ rhythm that they and other bands from the German scene of the seventies pioneered – proof that repetition is not a lack of ideas but somehow the enchantment of listeners. They mix it all up with samples, rhythms, drums, motorik, drills, sparks – yes you did read that right. Not bothering with health and safety Peron proceeds to use a drill or some device (I can’t quite see but it seems to be more to do with DIY of a Homebase sort than a selling cassette tapes to hipsters-in Hoxton type thing) which produces a huge amount of sparks that fail to unsettle our knitter, nor indeed to bother the crowd. One guy seems to be determined to catch them (seriously, who  needs drugs? There’s often enough weirdness in life to enliven normality). And that’s with vocals in English German and French, too.

The term ‘Krautrock’ has been much disputed – is it offensive? should we just say ‘German progressive rock?’ (Always so much more progressive and exciting than most of its British counterparts). Faust, of course, went so far as to name a track ‘Krautrock’ and open their very fine Faust IV album with it. Live it grooves and rocks harder than on record. And, as with their latest album Fresh Air, they finish with the meditation on the sea that is ‘Fish.’

There will be those who cannot see past the noise and sparks to understand how vital and energetic Faust always were. There were no cement mixers on stage tonight, but you sense that Messrs Zappi and Peron are still so far ahead of the pack. This is one pact you should be happy to make.

Christmas Posts 2017 – part 6: Cocteau Twins

Not for the first time, life got in the way.

But it’s still a delight to share this double A-side from 1993, the Cocteau Twins’ Snow, which contains two covers’: ‘Walking In A Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Frosty The Snowman.’

Now, I have long bemoaned the fact that it’s hard to get hold of these tracks. However, at the moment, you can buy ‘Frosty’ in the UK on iTunes (on a compilation called 90’s Rarities Vol.1), though not ‘Walking.’ However, this year saw long-awaited vinyl re-issues of their final two albums, Four Calendar Café and Milk and Kisses, the era which Snow comes from, so I am hopeful, that one day…

 

Christmas Posts 2017 part 5 – John Cale

So, a couple of weeks ago, on my birthday (41, since you ask), the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds and I popped into town for a nose round the charity shops. She picked up a CD for 50p that had been free with Mojo magazine which had a number of Christmas cuts on it I had not heard before. One of which was Superchunk’s take on ‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales.’

‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales’ is inspired by Dylan Thomas rather than actually being an adaptation of his work A Child’s Christmas In Wales. Cale has, in fact, recorded a number of Thomas’s poems (see his excellent 1992 live album Fragments Of A Rainy Season for versions of ‘On A Wedding Anniversary,’ ‘ Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed’ and ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’). Cale’s song ‘A Child’s Christmas In Wales’ first appeared on his 1973 album Paris 1919. It’s the opening to a glorious and rather underrated album.

Whilst searching for clips for this piece, I found that erstwhile Cale collaborator Nico had also covered the song; according to the essential read James Young’s Nico: Songs They Never Play On The Radio, Cale and Nico covered this together.

Finally, that Superchunk cover. As far as I can tell it was recorded for the Mojo CD – and doesn’t look like it’s been made commercially available. Enjoy!

Christmas Posts 2017 part 4 – 2 Live Crew

So, there’s lots of warmth and cuddliness at Christmas, hopefully.

But along with It’s A Wonderful Life, it’s also fun to watch Bad Santa. And while few would list better Christmas records than those by Low and Phil Spector – a little naughtiness has got to be ok, some of the time, right?

I haven’t yet seen Bad Santa 2, but 2 Live Crew’s ‘One Horse Sleigh’ gets in some rather amusing double entrendres, and, it must be said, is rather tamer than some of the tunes that ver crew became ever so slightly quite a lot notorious for in the late ’80s.

So this one maybe isn’t for the sensitive amongst you, but for a bit of fun, here you go!

Album Review – Flesh For Lulu (re-issue)

Flesh For Lulu – Flesh For Lulu (Caroline)

When people give you the whole ‘it’s all online anyway’ argument about buying music, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is the first CD issue of Flesh For Lulu’s album – which was originally released in 1984. Subtitled The Polydor Years, it brings together the tracks from the first three singles, as well as three BBC sessions recorded between 1982 and 1984. SInger and guitarist Nick Marsh sadly died of cancer in 2015, but guitarist Rocco and drummer James Mitchell spoke to me about the album’s re-issue.

Google Flesh For Lulu, and you will usually find them described as ‘goth.’ Yet this is particularly surprising when you listen to the four tracks they recorded for the John Peel show in the summer of 1982. This version of the band has far more in common with the likes of Human League and Thompson Twins, the ‘new pop’ of the time, than the sound the band would pursue when they signed to Polydor. Guitarist Rocco, who joined subsequent to the session was more blunt when I interviewed him ahead of this re-issue.

‘I thought it was fucking awful!’ he told me, quite cheerfully. ‘They were closet rock’n’rollers! i let them out of the closet’ Mitchell concurs that Rocco joining the band – then including bassist Glen Bishop -bought the thing together. ‘There was Simple Minds, Depeche Mode…we had no idea what we were doing, we were finding our way. Funnily enough, that was what Polydor liked!’

With Rocco on board, the band left behind any connection to synth-pop and set about becoming a great rock band.The following year saw a session for David ‘Kid’ Jensen and a lot of gigging, and finally signing to Polydor. Their first single ‘Roman Candle’ wasn’t included on the original album, but it is now, in both 7″ and 12″ remix versions. It’s a worthy addition, to what is an excellent album.

Flesh For Lulu understood that rock had directions still to go. Building upon the likes of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, ‘Restless’ kicks off an album bursting with songs that brood and energise at the same time. While it’s possible to date the album as being made in the eighties, at the same time it still feels fresh, and considerably more vital than music a fraction of its age. The cover of the Stones ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ (originally on Beggars Banquet, quite probably Mick and co’s finest hour) updates the song another fifteen years or so, adding another layer of menace. ‘Hyena’ and ‘Dog Dog Dog’ had debuted on the ‘Kid’ Jensen session a year earlier, showing that the second session (included here) was a band that had found its sound.

The centrepiece is probably the second single ‘Subterraneans’ – a suitably Bowie-esque title that sums up what is still so great about this period in eighties music. Dark music that you could lose yourself into (though just as possibly find yourself), and was celebratory at the same time, driven by tribal rhythms. This is music that begs to be played loud – whilst zooming down roads at the dead of night. Don’t, however call them goths. Rocco again: ‘We just looked liked that. It had only just had a label applied to it.’ He recalls talking with Siouxsie and the Banshees’ bassist Steve Severin about how both their bands had got lumped in with that. ‘I just found the whole goth thing a little bit Rocky Horror Picture Show.’

The Banshees were labelmates on Polydor, as were The Cure. But the dark rock was not what the label were expecting. ‘Polydor were horrified!’ recalls Mitchell. ‘We were signed as a Depeche Mode-type band. The guy who signed us [Alan Sizer] wasn’t happy.’

Polydor dropped them – but the band went onto great success State-side where ‘I Go Crazy’ featured in the John Hughes Film Some Kind Of Wonderful. That is, of course, another story, but be grateful that the first chapter of the story has -been-reinstated.

 

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Flesh For Lulu is out now on Caroline