Christmas Posts 2011 #4

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Happy St. Andrew’s Day. Today’s offering is from one of Scotland’s finest bands, Frightened Rabbit.

Their profile has steadily risen during the lifetime of this blog, so that three albums in they are now signed to a major and it looks like they will gp flaming massive in the next while.

Back in 2007 they released this as a Christmas single:

Frightened Rabbit-’It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop.’ mp3

Frightened Rabbit -’It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (Choir version).’ mp3

The following year this version was released:

Frightened Rabbit -’It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop (2008).’ mp3

This was a Christmas cover they recorded for a radio session:

Frightened Rabbit-’Walking In The Air (Aled Jones cover, Live Session version).’ mp3

The first fruits of their new recorded work can be obtained by signing up for their EP here

Gig Review – Dweezil Zappa

Dweezil Zappa, HMV Picturehouse, November 19

Interviewing Dweezil Zappa a few weeks before this gig, the guitarist was clearly enthusiastic and looking forward to coming to Scotland to play. He talked about how the Apostrophe’ album was going to be getting an airing on this tour, and how it was the album he advised newcomers [to his Father's music] to listen to. The Zappa plays Zappa shows have been happening since 2006, and it is clear that doubts to the project that fans may have had have long faded away.

The anticipation at Edinburgh’s HMV Picturehouse was certainly high. Sure, there were people old enough to have seen Zappa Snr. play in the sixties and seventies (and old enough to behave better in public!) but there were also plenty of people in their teens. Kicking off with ‘Heavy Duty Judy’ the band then went straight into Apostrophe’ in its’ entirety. Zappa’s eighteenth album to be released back in 1974, it featured a rare hit single for him ‘Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow’. Barely more than half an hour long, and also featuring other wonderful Zappa tracks including ‘St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast’ and the title track.

Dweezil had spoken of his determination not to have the project seen as being a covers band – and his allusion to an orchestra is certainly appropriate. As we progressed beyond the Apostrophe’ section, other highlights (from a career of many) included ‘What’s The Ugliest Part Of your Body?’ and ‘Inca Rose.’ The latter was particualrly warmly received, including the mother and daughter beside me (but did the Mum have to keep throwing plastic glasses at anyone who obscured her vision??). This section featured guitar footage of Zappa Snr. himself playing on a big screen. Did it seem tacky, or an attempt to relieve past glories? Certainly not. This was not Queen attempting to recreate ‘Bo Rhap’ by using tapes for the opera section live on stage (yuck) but instead seemed magical.

And when he encored with ‘Dancin’ Fool’ the audience was fool, sorry full of just that (not me, honest, I’ve got an eight month old son I must learn not to embarass when he’s old enough to come to gigs). I never saw Frank Zappa live -and I’ve only heard a handful of his eighty plus albums, but this should be viewed as a continuation, not a tribute act.

Christmas Posts 2011 #3

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Ah…Flaming Lips. Still one of the most amazing bands I have EVER seen live, though even they struggled slightly with the sterile conditions of Glasgow’s SECC.

No matter. A band who sound awesome on headphones and in concert alike,and there have been quite a few Christmas related songs over the years (nearly thirty years the band has been going now, unbelievable), so here they are for today:

Flaming Lips -’Christmas At The Zoo.’ mp3

Flaming Lips-’A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn’t So).’ mp3

Flaming Lips-’White Christmas (demo for Tom Waits).’ mp3

…and a few Flaming Lips bonuses. You should go and buy as many Flaming Lips albums as you can. Get The Soft Bulletin, Clouds Taste Metallic, Transmissions From The Satellite Heart and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots at the very least.

Flaming Lips -’Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover).’ mp3

Flaming Lips -’Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (Kylie Minogue cover).’ mp3

Flaming Lips-’Life On Mars? (David Bowie cover).’ mp3

Album Review – Clean George IV

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Clean George IV -’God Save The Clean’ (Tenement Records)

…and you thought the Rob St. John album had been a bit of a while coming?

I remember being blown away by the Clean George IV single ‘First Blast Of The Trumpet Against The Monstrous Regiment Of Women’ and its’ attendant b-side ‘The Great Highland Crack Epidemic way back in 2007. Both tracks are included here in newly recorded form, on an album that features contributions from Aberfeldy’s Riley Briggs amongst others. George McFall has spent a long time getting this album together, but it’s a joy to these ears.

And if you expect it to sound like Aberfeldy…you are so far off the mark it’s not true. Instead this is an infectious mixture of glam ‘n’ sleaze, featuring liberal dollops of punk attitude and krautrock experimentalism. Riley Briggs’ love of Devo comes through here, and there’s a wry sense of humour, too. Not only does ‘First Blast…’ namecheck an infamous John Knox pamphlet, but you have to admire an anti-cocaine song that’s called ‘Real Men Take Speed’. Not to mention not only recording the credits as a track (which Aberfeldy did on their last studio album, Somewhere To Jump From) but sticking it in the middle of the album.

It’s an album to be played seriously bloody loud and danced around n a way that will horrify some and delight others. Repeatedly. The best things come to those who wait. Oh yes indeed…

****

God Save The Clean is out now on download and limitred edition vinyl in January 2012.

Clean George IV ‘Real Men Take Speed’ by createspark

Christmas Posts 2011 #2

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I’ve written about my love of Tom Lehrer before. This is one for my folks, who introduced me to his work at a young age.

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly.
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say when.

Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens.
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas Day you can’t get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore.
There’s time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Relations, sparing no expense, I’ll
Send some useless old utensil,
Or a matching pen and pencil.
(“Just the thing I need, how nice!”)

It doesn’t matter how sincere it is,
Nor how heart felt the spirit,
Sentiment will not endear it,
What’s important is the price.

Hark, the Herald Tribune sings,
Advertising wondrous things.
God rest ye merry merchants,
May ye make the Yuletide pay.
Angels we have heard on high,
Tell us to go out and buy!

So let the raucous sleighbells jingle,
Hail our dear old friend Kriss Kringle,
Driving his reindeer across the sky.
Don’t stand underneath when they fly by.

Tom Lehrer -’A Christmas Carol.’ mp3

Christmas Posts 2011 #1

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Well, it’s the first Sunday in Advent, so it’s time to start the annual Christmas-themed posts here on 17 Seconds.

It’s traditional – in that I’ve done it several times now – to start with Housewives On Prozac‘s ‘I broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At the Mall.’ I can’t claim to know much about this band at all, they barely seem to have any myspace friends and there is nothing on Spotify.

But this tune is ace. I’m looking forward to Christmas this year -having been through a complete Grinch-like approach to it in my twenties, getting married and then becoming a Dad earlier this year has bought out my sentimental side once more. So Low’s Christmas album is playing as I write this, and I’m even looking forward to putting up the tree and decorations in a way I haven’t for years.

Housewives On Prozac -’I Broke My Arm Christmas Shoppping At the Mall.’ mp3

Link taken down – it’s now after Christmas!

Album Review – Rob St. John

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Rob St. John -’Weald’ (Song, By Toad)

Having been very impressed by his two earlier EPs, it is a pleasure to have the debut album by Rob St. John. I would have been looking forward to hearing it in any case, though the fact that it is released on the painfully cool Song, By Toad label, features contributions from the likes of Neil Pennycook of Meursault and Malcolm Benzie of eagleowl (amongst others), and I have met him, briefly, all put several additional cherries on the top.

According to the press release, a ‘weald’ is an Old English word from which the concept of a ‘wild’, a ‘wooded’, and a ‘dark, dangerous’ place in the landscape has emerged. This sums up the mood of the record beautifully, though to describe it as an Olde Worlde Folkie record would be off the mark spectacularly. I do hear nods to the likes of Bert Jansch, but also to the likes of Australia’s Dirty Three, and of course, it almost certainly will appeal to those who like the aforementioned eagleowl and Meursault.

Thus far, ‘Sargasso Sea’ has been doing the rounds as a free mp3 and album opener ‘Your Phantom Limb’ (no, nothing to do with The Shins) was released as one side of a split 7″ earlier this year. These two tracks certainly lure you in, although for my money the album highlight is the devastingly beautiful ‘Domino’, the most amazing track on an album full of devastatingly beautiful (or should that be beautifully devastating) songs.

Each time I have played this album, it has showed more and more of its vcharms. Trust me, it will do the same for you.

****1/2

Weald is out now on Song, By Toad.

Rob St. John -’Sargasso Sea.’ mp3

Rob St. John – Your Phantom Limb by Song, by Toad

What Edwyn Collins is up to…

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Having released the rather fine Losing Sleep album in 2010, Edwyn Collins is reportedly ‘working like the clappers’ on a new album, which is two thirds completed. There will also be an album released through iTunes in December, also to be entitled Down The Line.

This is rather sweet – and any new Edwyn Collins material has always got to be a good thing, right?

Given that it is quite hard to get hold of many of his records, both solo and with Orange Juice (well, as in buy – I dare say you can search online but that’s not the point really, is it?) I take great comfort from reading this:

“Also anticipate a series of releases of Edwyn’s solo catalogue. Deleted, lost and forgotten albums and other recordings will resurface; remastered and wrapped up in special, carefully prepared sleeves. He’s back where he always felt most comfortable, doing it all himself, with his unflinching eye for detail and beauty.”

You can stream ‘Down That Line’ here:

EDWYN COLLINS – Down The Line by Analogue Enhanced Digital

Presenting…Beth Jeans Houghton

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One of the downsides about being sent so much new music is that it is impossible to get through it all, with the net result that you can get really jaded listening to rubbish and not get round to the good stuff. Well, I have finally been able to give Beth Jeans Houghton a listen this evening, and she’s flaming awesome.

She seems to be getting pigeonholed as a folky, but she has the voice of an angel, and she’s signed to Mute, one of the coolest indie labels ever.* Her debut album will be released in early 2012, this year she has released a couple of gorgeous singles that I cannot believe I hadn’t heard until now: ‘Dodecahedron’ and ‘Liliputt’ -the latter recorded with her band The Hooves Of Destiny. If you go back you will also find the ‘Hot Toast Volume 1 EP’ and’Golden’/'Night Swimmer’ single, which we released through Static Caravan.

So smitten by this sound am I that I have bought all I can find of her music online tonight (even ‘Dodecahedron’ which I’d just got a free download of). You can keep your Laura Marlings, this Newcastle-Upon-Tyle lass has the voice of Elizabeth Fraser crossed with Vashti Bunyan.

Beth Jeans Houghton -’Dodecahedron.’ mp3

*no, they are no longer owned by EMI, do keep up.

Azealia Banks – really the coolest person in 2011?

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This week, the NME has published its’ annual cool list. Now, I’ve no issue with the inclusion with the likes of PJ Harvey, Dave Grohl and Jarvis Cocker, though I’m puzzled at the high ranking of Hurts’ Theo Hutchcraft (wake up, hipsters! They sound like a Shit Go West), and both Gallagher brothers.

But the no.1 on the list is not the frontperson of some indie-by-numbers band, beloved by the Hoxton mafia. Instead, it’s one Azealia Banks, a mere twenty years old, and resident of New York. She was trying to break into acting. Her cover of Interpol’s ‘Slow Hands’ has been doing the rounds for a while (it’s quite impressive) and ’212′ is an impressive track (big in the clubs, apparently, which you can’t even buy yet).

That Interpol cover:

Slow Hands by Azealia Banks

I love the cover and think ’212′ is pretty cool (although it’s pretty blue). She’s working with Paul Epworth who made Florence a massive star – but will she build on this (considerable) promise or be well away from the music scene this time next year?