To love but never to be in Love

I’d received an email earlier today asking if I could re-post ‘Geek Love’ the 1992 Festive Fifty no.1, and I thought, why not post the entire EP? Especially seeing as the Evesham four-piece’s back catalogue seems to be unavailable.

This track is utterly sublime, and if you have never heard it before, I hope you like it. There are one or two crackles in the vinyl, but I think the sound quality is pretty good on the whole.

I will also soon post the remixes sent to me by my reader Max, when I have converted them into mp3s. Thanks for them, Max, never seen them anywhere else!

Speaking of posting unavailable stuff, I will be putting up a couple of albums by artists which I think are great but are unavailable in the UK on any format. Watch this space…

Bang Bang Machine -’Geek Love.’ mp3

Bang Bang Machine -’Flower Horse.’ mp3

Bang Bang Machine -’The Fuck Machine.’ mp3

An unofficial Bang Bang Machine website

Album Review: The Lodger

Lodger -’Life Is Sweet.’ (Bad Sneakers Records)

The second album sees the three piece turn in a gorgeous, just-right -for summer set. I’d be willing to bet these guys treasure their copies of the NME c81 and NMEC86 as much as I do, but that shouldn’t make it sound as if they are purely indie-retro. There’s a freshness here just right for sunny days (and hell we’ve even got them here in Scotland right now!). This evokes reasons of what proper indie is, and the Leeds three piece have delivered an excellent sophomore set.

Whilst it’s a reasonable comment that this album does not re-write the rule book -and do we really realise those records are here when we do, or only in, uh,retrospect, it works well as an album, rather than just as a collection of songs strewen together. The only track which lets the album down in ‘Honey’ which feels a little dull, rather than being as lovely as it its name might suggest. Granted a title like first single ‘The Good Old Days’ might sound like Daily Mail-esque whinging, but put your ears to this album, and give it a listen.

***1/2

The Lodger -’The Good Old Days.’ mp3

The Lodger mySpace

New Sigur Ros

A bit in your face? Yup, everyone’s favourite Icelandic band since the Sugarcubes and a band who have their own slant on ethereal return with a new track and a new album entitled með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust. According to their website this translates as With A Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly. I think the title reminds me of Liars

The track, available for free, is called ‘Gobbledigook.’ Unkind folks might point out the irony of Sigur Ros’ first title to be comprehensible to many being called Gobbledigook, but given that very few 17 Seconds readers have so far demonstarted an ability to speak Icelandic, maybe they should keep quiet. It’s not particularly ethereal by their standards, and sounds like there’s a bit of thigh-slapping going on, but if I’m being honest, I’d always want to hear the latest thing from Sigur Ros. They are that good.

See what you think…

Sigur Ros -’Gobbledigook.’ mp3

Check their website for the rather erotic video (if you’re over 18, obviously) and for more news etc..
Websites include www.sigur-ros.co.uk and www.sigurros.com

here for more Sigur Ros mp3s

Album Review: Wedding Present

Wedding Present -’El Vey.’ (Scopitones)

Inevitable about to be over-reported bit of information 1: This album was produced (or no doubt ‘recorded’) by the legendary Steve Albini, who was responsible for the Weddoes career highpoint Seamonsters back in 1991.

Inevitable about to be over-reported bit of information 2: David Gedge has moved to West Hollywood.

So, now into his forties and making the second Wedding present album since he resurrected the band in 2004, after a seven year rest, what does the new Wedding Present album sound like?

To these ears, dark and atmospheric. I can’t play the drums, but Albini has soaked up the drums and they make the atmosphere on this record absolutely wonderfully. It’s still unmistakeably Wedding Present; like The Fall, who were also stalwarts of the late John Peel’s show : always the same, always different.

Living in West Hollywood seems to have impacted on Gedge’s songwriting too. Not that this is a re-write of Rumours, Pet Sounds or (God forbid) Hotel California, but it’s noticeable. A few years back, many Morrissey fans, including this humble blogger, expressed surprise that Morrissey was living in L.A. It seems even odder that David gedge has moved there; the man sings and writes in such an English way. Not in an annoying little Englander kind of way, or a nostalgic for Arcadia of Pete Doherty or Ray Davies, but English none the less. There’s a sort of David Lynch sheen to the lyrics with the darkness that’s within. Gedge forever seemd to be not getting the girl; now it’s not someone he’s been abandoned by to go travelling or feels he can;t trust, as on ‘The trouble With men’ he tells of developing a crush on a woman who’s the dinner date of the man at the next table; who he wouldn’t mind being his girlfriend even though he’s married.

What hits the mark for me about this album is that not only is it another great addition to the Wedding Present/Cinerama cannon, but it’s Gedge and co. continuing to evolve as they progress into their third decade of making music. Last year he toured their debut George Best, marking twenty years since its’ release. This year, it’s a new album, an evolved sound, and one of the tracks of the year in ‘The Trouble With Men,’ a Weddoes song I think I’m going to love as much as ‘My Favourite Dress’ ‘Montreal’ or ‘Sticky.’

****

The Wedding Present -’The Trouble With Men.’ mp3

The Wedding Present -’Boo Boo.’ mp3

The Wedding Present website/The Wedding Present myspace

Presenting…Escape Act..and Tom McShane

Escape Act are a hot new act from Northern Ireland. They are set to release their new single ‘God Says’ as a split single with fellow Northern Ireland act Tom McShane on June 23. Lat year they released an EP called Hot Air, and then went to the legendary Chem 19 studios (the legendary Chemikal Underground studios) to work with Andy Millar, who has worked with Fratellis and Sons & Daughters. This is a quality indie-rock tune for the summer. Get this on your stereo now (and obviously, go and buy the single when it comes out).

Escape Act -’God Says.’ mp3

Escape Act -’Green.’ mp3 (live, acoustic)

Here is the video as well:

Escape act website/ Escape Act myspace

Meanwhile, fellow Northern Irelander Tom McShane has the other side of the single with a fantastic song called ‘Fighter.’ In the press release it’s described as ‘the story of a man on the run from his ghosts and his own shadows.’ It’s a quality song, and I love the whole concept of split 7″s – there is little more ‘indie’ in the true, old sense of the word.

Tom McShane -’Fighter.’ mp3

And here are a couple of bonus mp3s for Tom McShane as well:

Tom McShane -’That’s All There Is (Nina Nastasia cover).’ mp3

Tom McShane -’Promise me.’ mp3

Tom McShane website / Tom McShane mySpace

And as always, let me know what you think…

Album Review: Mogwai

Mogwai – ‘Mogwai Young Team (re-issue).’ (Chemikal Underground)

I had a dream the other night. No, this is true: I was talking to some of the younger students I teach and they were raving about Mogwai. It was a dream: I know, because I woke up then, and realised that a: it was absurd that kids who were born after Kurt Cobain died would know who Mogwai are, even here in Scotland, and b) I was dead excited about the tenth anniversary re-issue of this album.

I can’t remember the first time I heard about Mogwai, but I remember that there were two things that clinched me having to buy the original issue of this album (obviously, on vinyl) in 1998. I’d heard them on a free CD with NME, and been blown away by a track called ‘Ex-Cowboy’ which would appear on the following year’s Come On Die Young LP, and knew I had to get the album. Secondly, Andy Cairns from Therapy? had said that his definition of heaven was scuba diving listening to this album and Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation LP on waterproof headphones. Did such things exist? And who were this scottish band?

Well, there’s been many wonderful Mogwai moments since then. The twenty minute long workout? epic? post-epic song that is ‘My Father My King.’ That gorgeous collaboration with the Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys ‘Dial:Revenge’ on the Rock Music LP. the thrill of seeing them get a top 40 single…and of course, finally getting to see them live in 2003 at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall. When they played ‘Like Herod’ at …that moment, I thought I’d lose my hearing.

But you know, I’d rather lose my hearing and say it was down to ‘Like Herod’ than say ‘My Heart Will Go On’ or ‘Money For Nothing.’ And it’s one of the standout tracks on this album. It was just so…other. I wasn’t aware of the concept of post-rock then, but the songs on this album blew me away. I was just discovering label-mates Arab Strap at the same time, and was pleased to see Aidan Moffat was on the record too. What was with those titles? New Order’s titles seemed random, but these titles were something else again. The record was instrumental, and yet there were voices, but where did this fit in?

So many surprises within the album. The opening ‘Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home’ the aforementioned ‘…Herod.’ And then the finale on side 4 of the vinyl: ‘Mogwai Fear Satan.’ Just three notes or so it seems, but it takes the whole concept of repetition beyond anything that even The Fall had done with it. Is it like film music, music to lose yourself/find yourself in (this is not about polar opposites, indeed I think they are increasingly one and the same thing) or a manifesto?

And now, the album comes re-mastered (apparently the older version was difficult to hear in places), with bonus tracks. It’s beautifully packaged, especially if you get the vinyl, and includes unreleased, live and rare as anything tracks. Their cover of ‘Honey’ by Spaceman 3 is gorgeous, though the only thing that let’s the second disc down is what seems like a sloppy version of ‘Summer (Priority Version).’

But, small quibbles. Is this the best album Mogwai have ever made? I’m not sure that I have a favourite, but I’ve fallen head over heels for this again.

And if I ever get to scuba dive, then I’m taking this, Daydream Nation and Therapy?’s Troublegum on underwater headphones. It would only be polite.

Mogwai website/Mogwai myspace

Mogwai -’Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home.’ mp3

Album Review: Nozzle

Nozzle -’Empires’ (Flowermountain Records)

The third album for Dave Blomberg sees this three-piece on fine form. Ten songs and forty minutes long, the album is solid and a joy to listen to. while many bands still persist in trying to fit as many songs onto the CD as will fit, often at the expense of any quality control, Nozzle show how it should be done.

The guitar-playing of Dave Blomberg is a particular joy. At the risk of sounding like some pre-punk hi-fi enthusiast (I am neither); for the real subtleties that make up this album make sure you give it a listen on headphones. Lyrically it’s strong too. Blomberg played with New Model Army for a long time, and fans of that band will find much to enjoy here. His voice bears no relation to Justin Sullivan’s, and it should be made clear that Nozzle do very much plough their own furrow. Their roots are in the DIY ethic and they have kept to that.

When so many rock bands become lost in over-production, over-instrumentation and sometimes just in being over the top, it’s great to report that here is a band who do not feel the need to go down that route. There’s heartfelt sincerity here, without ever becoming painfully earnest. Highlights of this album would include the title track, ‘Complicated’ and also the closer ‘The End’ the final chord of which lingers, like a pleasant audio after taste.

****

Nozzle -’Complicated.’ mp3

Nozzle website/Nozzle MySpace

Album Review: Dom Deluca

Dom Deluca -’Birds Of worry.’ (Independent)

Canadian Dom Deluca’s first album is a joy from start to finish. A twelve song collection of self-penned songs, I’ve enjoyed the several listens I have had of this album.

If less is more, then the sheer simplicity of much of this album makes for something of pretty high stauture. Often just himself and an acoustic guitar, this is a quietly very effective listen. Driving around town in a mood that could be described as very black, the lightness of touch of the musicianship, the songs and his voice, couldn’t fail to lift my spirits. He clearly wrotes from the heart, and his affection for Toronto and Canada comes through on this album, without any petty nationalistic concerns, which is particularly admirable.

The album doesn’t re-wrote the rock hand book, and I’m even less sure what ‘folk’ means with every year that passes. As Morrissey once sang ‘and I thought that if you had an acoustic guitar/that it meant that you were/a protest singer.’ Dom Deluca is not a protest singer, I don’t want to pigeonhole him, other than to say: File under damn fine singer-songwriter.

****

Dom Deluca -’Birds of Worry.’ mp3

Dom Deluca -’Toronto.’ mp3

Presenting…Lousy Robot

Yet another band who have been sitting in my inbox for quite a while. Apparently their second album Smile Like You Are Somewhere Else came out in 2006, but these tracks are still pretty amazing.

The band hail from Albuqueque, and to these ears sound like a post-punk version of Husker Du and early REM (yes, I know both these bands were post punk) and have a certain amount of catchiness. They’re very American, and sound very cool. They also sound like the ideal soundtrack to warm afternoons at festivals. We here in Scotland can but hope…

Apologies it’s taken me a while to feature you guys, but i hope the 17 Seconds readers will like what they hear.

Lousy Robot -’Welome To My weird Awakening.’ mp3

Lousy Robot -’It’s Getting To Me.’ mp3

Album Review: The Dawn Chorus

The Dawn Chorus -’The Big Adventure.’ (Jellymaid Music)

Sigh. I feel a little bad about what I’m about to write, but I feel it’s best to be honest.

I was really looking forward to hearing this album. I think ‘The Hope Will Kill Us’ is a great track and it’s been on a best of 2008 playlist on my iPod for several months. However, several plays of the album later, and I’m forced to conceed that I feel this album is rather uneven, particularly in the first part. It reminds me of the Electric Soft Parade, a band from the early part of the decade, who promised much but ultimately delivered little.

Having been sent this album because I requested it, I feel bad that I’m not focusing enough on the positives of it. I like the trumpet playing, and I feel the album picks up about track six of twelve. But the two openers ‘The Big Adventure Part 1′ and, uh ‘The Big Adventure Part 2′ seem to mislay the pace a bit. Yes, of course albums should be rich and diverse tapestries. But somehow despite some very good songs, it doesn’t seem to hang together to these ears.

I know, this is the product of a lot of people’s work and that blood, sweat and tears will have gone into this. I still haven’t forgotten how much I liked -and still like – ‘The Hope Will Kill Us.’ So, sorry guys, close but no cigar. THe album doesn’t cut it for me. But I hope i get to hear your second album, and I hope that I ‘get’ it better.

**1/2

The Dawn Chorus -’The Hope Will Kill Us.’ mp3