17 Seconds Records’ latest signing!

fiction-faction

Back in April, I blogged about a band called Casino Brag who had just self-released a single entitled ‘Viennese Disco’/'A Fair Escape.’

They are: David (Rhythm Guitar and Vocals), Ellis (Drums and Backing Vocals), Paul (Lead guitar and Vocals) and John Paul (Bass and Backing Vocals). And now, in a year that has seen them get radio support from the likes of Jim Gellatly, Vic Galloway, Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson, as well as playing in London at Alan McGee’s Death Disco night, they have changed their name to Fiction Faction and will be releasing their next single ‘Apparitions’ as a digital single with us in February. Vic Galloway mentioned this last night on his Radio Scotland show. He also played the band’s track ‘A Lot Can Happen On A Summer’s Day’ proclaiming it a future Scottish Anthem! This is the third time a 17 Seconds Records-related act has had this in the last six months, following on from the Last Battle’s ‘Ruins’ and X-Lion Tamer’s ‘Hope.’

This is the video the band made. See what you think…

Pop along and make friends at their myspace here

Christmas posts part 3

edinburgh-snow-wide

Hello again, and greetings from a very snowy Scotland, where driving has become an occupational hazard you endure to get to work.

For today’s Christmas post, I’m going to share with you three very different versions of of ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ -and none of them involving David Bowie and a worryingly ill looking Bing Crosby.

The first, rocky, version is by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, taken from her album I Love Rock’n'Roll. This was actually on the original version of the album (in the US) and later replaced by another track called ‘Oh Woe Is Me.’ Funny fact: I heard this for the very first time today (see, I said I was going to post some christmas stuff I hadn’t posted here before).

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts -’Little Drummer Boy.’ mp3

Next up: the Dandy Warhols’ upbeat take on the song. Funnily enough the very first time I ever heard the Dandy Warhols doing anything was a version of this song, as played by John Peel in December 1994. This version comes from the compilation A Cool, Cool Christmas.

Dandy Warhols -’Little Drummer Boy.’ mp3

Finally, Low’s take on this perennial favourite is slower than the other two (as you’d probably expect, if you’re familiar with all these acts). This is taken from their Christmas album, which is now over a decade old, and makes a regular appearance around 17 Seconds Towers at this time of year…

Low -’Little Drummer Boy.’ mp3

Keep warm now, kids…

Christmas posts part 2

idlewild

It’s a time for guilty pleasures, Christmas, isn’t it?

Of course, if you want to listen to Cliff Richard, then, quite frankly, that’s your affair. However, just as there were po-faced Pink Floyd fans who took the hump at the Scissor Sisters’ cover of ‘Comfortably Numb’ six or seven years ago there will doubtless be people that take the hump about this cover which is today’s Christmas tune. It was the Christmas no.1 in 1988, and in the year of the acid house revolution…the year’s best selling single.

Their loss, frankly. It’s still christmassy here -for which read: edinburgh and the surrounding areas are covered by a blanket of snow and getting to and from work has been an interesting exercise, involving a lot of patience and goodwill from complete strangers…

Idlewild -’Mistletoe and Wine.’ mp3

Album review – Seafieldroad

seafieldroad

Seafieldroad -’There are No Maps for This Part Of The City’ (Biphonic)

Seafieldroad is the project of Andrew Eaton, lead singer with Scotland’s Swimmer One. Having released two albums with them, he has unleashed his debut solo record, and it is unquestionably the best thing he has ever done.

Different from the electro-stylings of Swimmer One (which is not to detract their work over the last decade), I perhaps shouldn’t start off by comparing it to other albums, but when you see the ones I do, you will understand:

Brian Eno’s Music For Airports. The Blue Nile’s Hats. Virginia Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. Yes. That good, that special. In a word: pastoral. Working with orchestral scoring from Pete Harvey (Meursault, the Leg), this album is sublime from the opening and wonderfully titled ‘Brian Wilson Karaoke’ to the closing ‘Fucking Manchester’ (which, despite its’ title, is still heartbreaking).

Released at the end of November, I’m hoping that, nonetheless, this will appear on the year’s end best of lists, because it really deserves to be there.

****1/2

There Are No Maps For This Part Of The City is out now on Biphonic.

Stream two tracks here

Christmas posts part 1

8bittree

Yup, I know I’ve been quiet for the last few days…I’ve not been anywhere near a computer.

But I’m now back, working on end of year best of lists, and appalled how Edinburgh has ground to a standstill.

As in previous years, I’ll be posting some festive favourites over the next four weeks, some that have appeared here before, and others that haven’t.

I know next to nothing about this band, any info gratefully received etc..

Housewives on Prozac -’I Lost My Arm Christmas Shopping At the Mall.’ mp3

Enjoy…there’s loads more where this came from…

Presenting…Io Echo

io-echo

Yes, I know – but can you get past the haircuts, please?

Io Echo are a two-piece act who hail from LA.

Io is originally from the East Coast of America, and according to the band’s Myspace, writes songs at a late hour locked in her room with her twin Leopold Ross, who is pale and British and also plays guitar in the band (not to mention the fact that he also plays bass for the Big Pink).

They released their first single earlier this year, entitled ‘While You Are Sleeping’ and are about to support the Drums in the UK. Not only that – but they have also supported (the aforementioned) The Big Pink, Florence and The Machine and supported Nine Inch Nails.

This is a gorgeous dreamy rock number, that takes us where shoegazeing meets grunge meets goth. Hell, if I had a radio show tonight, I’d be playing this. For now, listen to this and marvel. There is a buzz about them – and deservedly so.

IO ECHO- When Lillies Die by Anorak London

…and this is the video, which is sort of static -but in a good way (like ‘Velouria’ by The Pixies, but better).

The return of PJ Harvey

pj-harvey-2010

2010 isn’t even over, I haven’t really got to grips with my end of year lists, but I’m already looking forward to what 2011 will bring musically.

And one of those things is the eighth studio album from PJ Harvey.*

It’s entitled Let England Shake and will be released on February 14 on Island. It’s been produced by PJ with Mick Harvey, Flood and John Parish. There’s been a handful of dates been released -and a return to the festival stage is also mooted.

If you haven’t seen her live before – i know I posted this clip last year, but it was a fantastic performance to witness (I was there! Still so proud…):

More details as and when I have it but here’s something from the 1993 session she did for John Peel:

PJ Harvey -’Naked Cousin (Peel session).’ mp3

*the PR folk are obviously not including the two collaborations with John Parrish, 4 track demos or the Peel Sessions LP. That’s fair enough, I guess.

Album Review -’Cold in Berlin.’

Cold In Berlin -’Give me Walls.’ (2076)

This CD turned up with a pretty small press release. Not a big loss (particularly when so many of them are worth nothing more than a snide laugh before hitting the recycling bin). It meant that i listened without prejudice and at face value -and my jaw hit the floor pretty quickly.

In the course of 32 minutes and ten tracks, Cold In berlin reveal themselves to be a kick ass rock’n’ roll band. I have no idea what this band are like live (yet) but this album is little short of incendiary. Forget all the usual cliches that seem to apply to female fronted bands (at best due to awe that stops people thinking straight; at worst down to hideous misogyny)…quite frankly, it doesn’t matter who the singer sounds like.

What you need to know is that this is a powerful album that takes no prisoners right from the opening ‘God I Love You.’ My new heroine kicks off the album spitting ‘I had a girl and she was perfect/so I decided I’d fuck her. And even though she had a boyfriend/oh god I knew I had to have her.’ the swearing will doubtless offend some, but the ‘fuck you’ attitude of the whole band that runs right through the album, particularly on tracks like ‘White Horse’ and ‘Break My Bones’ will prove irresistibile to many.

This is punk as it ought to be, fresh as anything and totally INYOURFACE. I may be too old to need a soundtrack to youthful rebellion but I will know I have truly hit my midlife crisis when I no longer want to listent to music as exciting and frankly, sexy, as this is.

I’ve long held that a debut single should sound like a manifesto, a call to arms. This debutu album has the power to spark a revolution.

****1/2

Give Me Walls is released by 2076 thorugh Cargo on November 29.

No mp3s cleared to post at present, alas, but here’s three videos that will give you a taste…

Cold in Berlin – ‘Total Fear’

Cold In berlin -’White Horse’

Cold In berlin -’If You Take Me Apart.’

The Sandy Denny boxset

sandydennybox3d

Tomorrow will see one of the few box sets to rival Orange Juice’s Coals To Newcastle – Sandy Denny’s Sandy Denny.

Viewed as an inspiration by artists as diverse as Marc Almond and Thurston Moore, she was probably the most important British female singer in the British folk scene. Her awesome song ‘Who Knows Where the Times Goes’ was astonishingly, one of the earliest songs she ever wrote. If it (rightly) amazes you that Kate Bush wrote ‘the Man With the Child In his Eyes’ at the age of twelve, then marvel at the fact that this song could be written by someone younger then fifty. If this song does not move you, you are without a soul. As with many artists who died young, it is, as ever, pointless wondering if this was a premonition of her own untimely death, of a brain haemorrhage, in 1978. She was aged just 31.

19 CDs in total (yes you DID read that right, 19!) this boxset contains all the studio stuff that she did over her eleven year career, with the Strawbs, solo, with Fotheringay and of course, with Fairport Convention on three of the greatest albums ever – What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking and, of course, Liege and Lief.

According to the record company: “This superb limited edition box set includes 19 CDs, 11 of which feature Sandy’s complete studio recordings with Alex Campbell, Johnny Silvo, Fotheringay, Strawbs, Fairport Convention and solo with additional content – outtakes, demos and live recordings. There are 8 CDs of bonus material – unreleased songs, demos, unreleased BBC recordings, alternate takes, live recordings, acoustic versions, and rare radio interviews. This set includes the legendarily ‘long lost’ Lord Bateman.

Lavishly packed, this unique collection features all new artwork. It comes with a 72 page 11″ square hardback book containing over 100 rare and mostly unseen photographs, Sandy’s handwritten lyrics (many of which are unrecorded songs) and fascinating memorabilia. Each CD is housed in an individual gatefold digipack sleeve. The box also contains reproductions of a beautiful original Island press pack, an exceptionally rare A3 promo colour poster for Northstar Grassman And The Ravens, a set of Postcards, the receipt for the purchase of her first piano and one of Sandy’s handwritten notebooks.”

Granted, at a limited edition of 1,000 and a RRP of about £150 you’ll have to be pretty into Sandy Denny (and pretty well-off) but that shouldn’t take away from how well this has been put together, musically. I was sent a digital download of all 19 CDs. You can read the tracklisting here. It doesn’t contain ‘The Battle Of Evermore’, which she deutted on with Led Zeppelin; as for the last 39 years, you can find this on Led Zeppelin IV.

This song was ranked No.1 in Radio 2′s list of the all-time greatest folk songs. No wonder…

Fairport Convention -’Who Knows Where the Time Goes?’

This song is also known as ‘Little Musgrave’ and has been recorded by James Yorkston, amongst many others.

Fairport convention -’Matty groves’

If you can’t afford it (though it may be worth asking your library to buy it), then do yourself a favour and get at least Fairport Convention’s Liege and Lief, Unhalfbricking, and What We Did On Our Holidays; Fotheringay’s Fotheringay and her own North Star Grassman and the Ravens.

Where’s our ‘Ghost Town’?

the-specials-ghost-town

So there we were, a week or so ago, out on a Saturday night for a curry, Me and Mrs. 17 Seconds, and quite a few friends, including members of Aberfeldy and the Last Battle.

At one point during the meal – in relation to discussions about the Tory HQ in London being stormed at tuition fees, someone said ‘Where’s our Ghost Town?’

To which someone else replied ‘Give the bands a chance [the Colation]‘s only been in for a few months!

I think if you’ve read this blog before, you probably know how I feel about the present government. It’s not to say that having a right-wing government in power automatically leads to a counter-culture of music, books and film, and as Mike Leigh pointed out on TV one night, not something that should be taken as being a good thing either.

But just watching this video nearly thirty years after the song came out…it’s never been more timely, sadly:

The Specials -’Ghost Town.’ mp3

This was the Specials’ last single before they split; though the Special AKA worked with Rhoda Dakar to produce a record that remains truly frightening, about date rape, entitled ‘The Boiler’ and then to score a major hit with ‘Free Nelson Mandela.’ Two very different and awesome tracks.

Rhoda with the Special AKA -’The Boiler.’ mp3 (*WARNING* – this track will freak you out. You have been warned)

The Special AKA -’Free Nelson Mandela.’ mp3

Of course, there were other British folks* writing political music in the eighties, writing about what was happening in Britain and further afield. Elvis Costello wrote ‘Shipbuilding’ about the Falklands War, which was also performed by Robert Wyatt; and also two other classics in ‘Pills and Soap’ and ‘Tramp the Dirt Down.’ Morrissey’s solo debut Viva Hate finished with ‘Margaret On the Guillotine.’ The Jam did ‘Walls Come Tumbling Down…’ and then there was pretty much the whole career of Billy Bragg, New Model Army…yet the last twenty years have seen little to compare with these. Sure there have been a few songs; Apache Indian’s ‘Movin’ On (Special)’ about the election of the first BNP councillor in 1993; early stuff from the Levellers (Check out ‘Battle Of the beanfield’ and Gene’s 1999 single ‘As Good As It Gets’ about New Labour.

Of course, songs do need to be good and get out there. ‘Ghost Town’ was a number one. Billy Bragg’s ‘Take Down The Union Jack’ may have had admirable sentiments but the song was piss-poor, frankly.

What we need is a song that is a HIT that unites the people. Ain’t there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?

Elvis Costello -’Shipbuilding.’ mp3

Robert Wyatt -’Shipbuilding.’ mp3

Gene -’As Good As It Gets.’ mp3

Billy Bragg -’Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards.’ mp3

* I’m not meaning to undermine how important Hip-Hop was here – Public Enemy alone deserve several posts devoted to them.