OK, OK, OK

This track has been posted all over the net, but, just in case you haven’t heard it, you HAVE to hear The Shins‘ new track Phantom Power, which is on their new album, out in January. Along with the new Bloc Party album, it’s starting to spill onto the blogs, and it would be nice if a few more tracks could come our way legally before the album comes out (hey, we got two from the Yo La Tengo album. Just wondering…will buy it anyway!)

The Shins -’Phantom Power.’mp3

If you like what you hear, go to the Sandwich club, which has some cool covers by The Shins.

Oh, and I know I posted on them a few months back, but if you really haven’t heard any other stuff by the Shins, go to the Sub Pop media page. you are in for a treat. Go buy all their albums either here or at your local independent record shop.

PS I know I haven;t posted any new photos recently, but will do once new computer bloody lets me!

Gig review: Paul Buchanan/Jane Taylor

Gig review: Paul Buchanan/Jane Taylor

Usher Hall, Edinburgh November 25, 2006

Different bands emote different kinds of weather and scenarios in your head. Massive Attack emote edgy, urban paranoia (reinforced by pretty much every video from Safe From Harm onwards, bar Teardrop, obviously). Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura’s gorgeous tweeness – and I use that as a compliment – evoke childhood memories of blackberry picking and playing pooh sticks. And The Blue Nile? The romance and beauty of a rainy night. Particularly in Scotland, where we get a lot of these.

Edinburgh’s Usher Hall is playing host for two nights to Paul Buchanan’s ‘solo’ tour (though the merchandise stall has plenty of Blue Nile T-shirts, suggesting they are still very much a going concern). And frankly, the devotion the band inspire is amazing, given that in their twenty-year plus career they have only released four albums. Amazing, that is, until you hear them, and realise that whilst they may Stone Roses type of gaps between albums, it’s generally worth the wait (whereas when the Roses second LP eventually appeared, it took a while to admit to yourself that you were, if you were being honest, quite a little bit disappointed).

First on is Jane Taylor, who walks onto the stage armed with just her acoustic guitar. As I’ve noted here before, the solo singer-songwriter opening up for a band can really have their work cut out for them, unless they really have something special…and she does. Whilst I realise that ‘support from Johnnie Walker on Radio 2′ may cause certain people to turn off, he knew what he was onto here. This really is a smokey blues voice, an album ‘Montpelier’ released that is working it’s way along at groundroots level (remember, after all, that ‘indie’ is short for independent, rather than just being a description of a sound), and I hope reaches a wider audience. She doesn’t take herself seriously, always a risk with any musician, and that combined with
that voice and songs to match, and some great anecdotes means she deserves to make it. Anyone who lumps her in with Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones is just lazy and missing the point.

The reverence this audience have for Buchanan is unbelievavble. Whilst the Nile have never ‘rocked out’ (quote unquote), the roar of recognition at each track as they recognise them – often from a simple drum-beat – is a sign that people wait so long for a Blue Nile album ‘cos they know it will be worth it. Opening up with ‘Over the hillside’ from 1989′s Hats, the connection with his audience is complete very quickly. Whilst their sound may evoke those rainy nights, the sheer goddamn joy of hearing them is like hot chocolate for the soul. In 1997, at a very wet and muddy Glastonbury festival, The Blue Nile pretty much bought the sun out for the first time that weekend. As he goes straight into Peace At Last, all worries outside the hall are laid to rest.

There are still people who will get into discussions about which Nile album is better out of the first two, A Walk Across the Rooftops or Hats. My money has always been on Hats, but it’s tracks from the first album that really, really hit the spot tonight, like the gently experimental title track, Easter Parade and Tinseltown in the Rain. Buchanan apologises for his voice having difficulty tonight, but the crowd help him out on the chorus of the latter song, and it’s soaring. (This song is currently in the top 5 of the Jocknroll poll).

The set finishes with an astonishing take on The Downtown Lights, which could be the perfect finish – but it turns out that he has an unexpected ace up his sleeve. When he comes on for the encore, we get High, and then he finishes with Strangers In The Night, done Blue Nile style (NB the song popularised by Frank Sinatra, not 747 (Strangers in the Night) by Saxon. That would be wrong). And boy, is it wonderful.

The two new – untitled, as far as I can tell, songs played tonight suggest that while it may, as ever be a long wait for the next album, indeed as long as the river itself – we can wait. Few bands I have seen this year can match this for sheer emotional connection and joy.

Kiss Kiss Molly’s Lips

Hi there. Hoping for a quiet(er) weekend, so finally have got around to posting again. Thanks for all the feedback on the Jocknroll – always good to know people are reading.

I may do several posts this weekend, to make up for all I’ve been missing. First of all, may I push you, nah, shove you, in the direction of The Vaselines. For those of you who haven’t encountered the Vaselines, boy are you in for a treat! Frances McKee, Eugene Kelly, James Seenan and Charlie Kelly may have made only a handful of records, but, as they say, their influence cannot be under-estimated. Brian Eno famously said that only a few people may habe brought the first Velvet Underground album, but everyone who did went and formed a band. That’s the thing was the Vaselines, they make you feel like you should go and form a band. And if you’re singing about sex in pretty well every song, then, you can’t argue with that. They were tied in with the C86 movement in retrospect, but they were kind of a bit later than that.

Their most famous fan was Kurt Cobain, who covered several of their songs; Jesus Doesn’t want Me For A Sunbeam on their MTV Unplugged album and Son Of A Gun and Molly’s Lips can be found on Incesticide. However, it would be nice to think that the Vaselines would be remembered and treasured even if it weren’t for Seattle’s finest.

This is a fansite on myspace, where you can hear and download tracks – given that Egene and Frances are ‘friends’ I think you can consider that endorsed! But don’t forget to check out both Eugene and Frances‘s own myspace pages where you can hear what they have been up to, not forgetting Eugene‘s own website. These are people who helped make not just the scottish music scene what it is, but also impated massively on the whole ‘indie/alternative/whatever’ music scene across the world over the last twenty years. And it’s time that those people who don’t realise it woke up to it!

Buy All the Stuff And More at Amazon.

And while you’re there, go and buy all the stuff by Eugenius, Suckle, Frances and Eugene you can find. Or, go and check your local independent shop
Then let me know what you think!

Hello…still here

It’s been a busy week or so. Am still alive, and so far, being thirty has been way better than I thought it might be. I went out for dinner with my better three-quarters and then she and I went to see Half-Man Half-Biscuit. I have also now sorted myself out with a new computer and so am hoping to be doing more regular updates.

What I would like to point you in the direction of is a website called Jocknroll where they are polling readers for their favourite ever scottish singles. Please go and vote. It’s certainly NOT just indie, as there have been many great scottish acts who weren’t.

I keep changing my mind about my Scottish Top Ten singles, but right now it would be:

1. The Delgados ‘ No Danger [Kids' choir edit]
2. Franz Ferdinand ‘Darts of Pleasure EP’
3. Aberfeldy ‘Heliopolis by night’
4. Associates ‘White car in Germany’
5. Shop Assistants ‘I Don’t Want to be friends with you’
6. Belle and Sebastian ‘This is just a modern rock song’
7. Proclaimers ‘Sunshine on Leith’
8. Sons & Daughters ‘Johnny Cash’
9. Arab Strap ‘Turbulence [Bis remix]‘
10. This mortal coil ‘Song to the siren.’

Mind you, even typing out that list, I realise that I haven’t included Mogwai, Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, Teenage Fanclub, Cosmic Rough Riders,Mull Historical Society, Blue Nile, Boards of Canada, Mylo, Travis, Deacon Blue, Cocteau Twins, Josef k, The Fire Engines, Idlewild, Bis, Simple Minds, Eurythmics, Wet wet wet, Texas…what do you mean, I cannot be serious about the last four? Granted, some of them produced some…rubbish, but they also produced some gems:
Simple Minds’ first albums, up to about 1984 were fab (Belfast Child is hideous, though), Texas were great until they decided to start cuddling up to Chris Evans and the Wu-Tang Clan (I Don’t want A Lover is excellent), Eurythmics produced some stunning early stuff like Sweet Dreams, and wet wet wet’s High on the happy side album has some great moments. Love is all around was tedious by the end of it’s reign, though. Way I see it, if the Beatles were all still alive, and had never split, there would have been some hideous records from them (check the solo careers).

So go to the site, work it out and add your own list. They also want worst tracks…well, even a country with a music scene as fertile as this one can’t get it right all the time!

And please, let me know what you think. This blog continues to get quite a lot of hits, so let’s have some feedback!

See it in your eyes

So, tomorrow, I’m thirty.

Bloody hell. So much for live fast die young stay beautiful.

Anyway, after a fantastic birthday party, it would be time to post someting bouncy, surely?

Nah, in typically pervserse mode, this is Public Image Ltd, on Top of the pops, oerforming ‘Death Disco’. Who would have thought that the ‘Swan Lake’ theme would work so well in this context? The Sex Pistols may have given the music industry a massive kick up the backside, and a well-needed one at that, but PIL’s music was genuinely far more innnovative. No wonder Malcolm McLaren couldn’t control him.

PIL Death Disco

Buy PIL on Amazon.

Though if you want a copy of the Original Metal Box album, try e-bay!

Hotly anticipated…

What can I say? One of the most anticipated albums of the year, the Long Blondes
have released Someone to drive you home…and the release date has already happened! Doh…that’s what happens when you cannot get to the record shop first thing on a Monday cos you’re teaching. Anyway, Weekend Without Make-up is now possibly my single of the year, and these two other singles show why they have been talked up so much.

Weekend Without Makeup – The Long Blondes

The Long Blondes, Separated by Motorways

The Long Blondes – Once and Never Again

Buy The Long Blondes on Amazon

The Long Blondes official website

The Long Blondes on Myspace

quietquietVERYBLOODYLOUD…

And suddenly November is upon us, I’m thirty next week (how’d that happen? I mean, I’m on Myspace and stuff…Oh.), and I’ve got a cold and the dark Scottish weather is starting to kick in.

So what could be more appropriate than Stuart Braithwaite and his merry men? Mogwai, for it is they, are the perfect soundtrack to these dark nights. Almost always instrumental, and the masters of the previously mentioned ‘Scottish indie aesthetic’, they include the mighty Cure amongst their influences, as well as Slayer, Sonic Youth and Slint. Sometimes DEATH DEFYINGLY LOUD, and sometimes so quiet you have to turn the record player up very loud, then dash across the room as you realise you are just about to wreck your speakers. But always beautiful. They have collaborated with Aidan Moffat from Arab Strap, and at one time included Teenage Fanclub/BMX Bandits member Brendan O’Hare amongst their number, as ‘musician without portfolio.’ (sic)

Five albums in, trying to pick a favourite album depends on what you have heard. So go and buy the lot! If you have never heard these stalwarts of the scottish music scene, try these for tasters, as well as visting their Myspace page and onetime label Chemikal Underground, where many tracks can be streamed, not to mention their own web page, where you can download tracks as Podcasts. See, generous with it too.

If you are strapped for cash, I would recommend you start with Young Team, their debut, it’s a very good place to start. They need a home in your record collection. Some tracks are short, some last longer than a Civil Wedding Service (2001 single My Father, My King – a cover of a Jewish prayer is twenty minutes long). My favourite track, which also features Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals fame has to be Dial:Revenge. This being a collaboration between two of the Celtic fringe’s finest, it’s sung in welsh. Only a tennybopper could resist.

Try these for starters:

Mogwai -’Tracy.’ mp3 from 1997′s Young Team

Mogwai -’Dial: Revenge.’ mp3 from 2001′s Rock Action

Mogwai -’Hunted By A Freak.’ mp3 from 2003′s Happy Songs For Happy People

Mogwai -’Folk Death 95.’ mp3 from 2006′s Mr. Beast

As always, if you like what you hear, support the artists involved.

Buy Mogwai on Amazon

Have you heard…The Gossip?

First of all, these guys have been around for a while, so I cannot claim to be putting a new band your way. But if you haven’t heard The Gossip before, and I was a Johnny-come-lately too, now you must!

From the US, based in Portland, Oregon, three-piece the Gossip remind me of The Bellrays, The Slits and The Rapture (especially circa Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks). This track has just been re-released in the UK – go get it!

The Gossip -’Standin the way of control.’ mp3

Gossip Standing In The Way Of Control

Like what you hear? Their myspace page has more tracks to stream, whilst more tracks can also be found at here at Insound and at the Kill Rockstars media page.

And, as always, if you like what you hear, support the music, go and buy it!

Buy The Gossip at Amazon

The Official Gossip website

The Official Gossip myspace

As Not seen on TV

OK, you’re probably all aware that U2 and Green Day have teamed up to cover The Skids’ ‘The Saints Are Coming’ to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina last year in New Orleans. The single is out next week and can be bought here. However, this is the video, which satirises CNN and Bush’s attempt (ha!) to deal with the situation. I know it’s easy to take shots at both bands, but I still like to feel that hearts are in the right place. Hope you’re all having a good weekend.

U2 and Green Day

Gig review: Cooper Temple Clause/Battle

Gig review: The Cooper Temple Clause/Battle

Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh October 30, 2006

This is, perhaps surprisingly, only The Cooper Temple’s Clause’s second visit to Edinburgh. The last time they played here, January 2002, they had just that day released the Double A-side single ‘Film-maker/Been Training Dogs’ which would take them into the UK Top 40 for the first time. Their debut, See This Through And Leave was raring to go. And go they did, with festival appearances, Top Of the Pops etc.. and then after the release of their second album, Kick Up The Fire And Let The Flames Burn Loose in 2003, after a few months…seemingly silence. Then earlier this year, the Dirty Pretty Things emerged, having taken Didz Hammond from the Coopers, and a number of mp3s started to appear on the Coopers’ website. So have they still got it it in 2006?

First, while I wait for the first TCTC gig since February 2004 (Glasgow Academy, co-headlining with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, since you ask), openers Battle blaze their way through a crows that they warm up very quickly. If they are not capable of selling out the Liquid rooms in less than a year, then frankly, somethings gone wrong somewhere. They look great – always a bonus – and sound so cool and together. By the second song, Isabel, it’s clear this world could be theirs for the taking. How to describe their sound? Well, let’s just say, you have an idea how U2′s Boy might have sounded if they had made it having heard Bloc Party, The Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand. Moments of white noise, funkiness and epicness. By the time of the two final songs, Children and Easy To Listen to close the set, it is clear that Jason Bavanandan and the boys are destined for big things. Tell ‘em 17 seconds told you about them.

And then the Coopers come on. Bearded three of the five may be in 2006, and there’s been a hell of a lot happening in the UK’s indie scene since, but oh. Before they even play a note, it’s abundantly obvious that the energy and sheer joy they brought to a stagnant scene in 2001 is still there in spades. Kasabian must have been taking notes. As they tear into Promises, Promises it really is like they have never been away. When you haven’t seen a band for a few years, it’s easy to almost forget things – like their swapping of instruments effortlessly without appearing like musos- seem. The second song is Homo Sapiens, no.36 in this week’s chart (already higher than Blind Pilots and Let’s Kill Muisc got, then). As well as older songs that are greeted with sheer roars of joy, the Coopers also manage to play songs of the new album, due January, which go down extremely well with the crowd – always a risk playing stuff off an as yet unreleased album, even in the era of the internet, but Waiting Game and Connected sound like tracks strong enough to pre-order that album. Of the new songs, I am sounds like fantatsic, the essence of the Cooper Temple Clause, being a ballad on some levels and white noise on others – at the same time. The aforementioned Connected is reminiscent of Depeche Mode circa Speak and Spell. Film-maker and this year’s download track Damage fasten their hold onto you, but perhaps the biggest surprise is the way Panzer Attack has evolved from a hard-as-nails rocker into a hard-as-nails techno stomper. 2006 suggests that beats will sake their claim on ‘indie’ territory in 2007, but remember who you should be paying respects to. They encore with Who needs enemies? and finally, their most sublime moment still, Blind Pilots.

Pity the fools who forgot. The Cooper Temple Clause have never sounded better or been more relevant.

Battle on Myspace

Battle’s official website

The Cooper Temple Clause on Myspace

The Cooper Temple Clause’s official site

Buy Battle on Amazon

Buy The Cooper Temple Clause on Amazon