About Ed

Music fan by instinct

Forthcoming from Miles Hunt

Thirty years ago this year, a band called The Wonderstuff made inroads across my eleven year old radar when they appeared in Smash Hits. They were uniquely witty and acerbic, and when I finally heard their music they were even better.

In 1994, they called it a day…before reforming several years later. On one occasion my brother was privileged to have frontman, the legendary Miles Hunt, perform ‘Size Of A Cow’ for him in his hotel room. Which is pretty darn special, really. The band still evoke so many happy memories for so many people. A few months ago friends were round for dinner, and I put on their third album Never Loved Elvis. Within seconds of the needle hitting the vinyl my friends responded ‘Love this album.’ So do I, still.

Mr. Hunt (we’re friends on facebook, and he seems much less frightening than I thought he might be), is shortly to release an album called The Custodian, on October 5.This features him doing acoustic versions of the songs he has written over thirty years or more. The version of ‘On The Ropes’, a top ten hit from 1993 is just amazing.

Oh, and I am getting to interview Miles Hunt this week. My week quite probably beats your year!

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

Disc One:

01. Speakeasy 02. It’s Not True… 03. Unbearable 04. Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More 05. Can’t Shape Up 06. Them, Big Oak Trees 07. The Size Of A Cow 08. Caught In My Shadow 09. Maybe 10. On The Ropes 11. Sing The Absurd 12. I Think I Must’ve Had Something Really Useful To Say 13. Room 512, All The News That’s Fit To Print 14. Fixer 15. Fits & Starts

Disc Two:

01. Everything Is Not Okay 02. Flapping On The Pier 03. Escape From Rubbish Island 04. Was I Meant To Be Sorry? 05. Tricks Of The Trade 06. We Hold Each Other Up 07. Falsified 08. Were You There? 09. Steady As You Go 10. Right Side Of The Turf 11. You Can’t Go Back (To Once Upon A Time) 12. Don’t You Ever 13. Good Deeds & Highs 14. The Sweetest Of Bitterest Ends 15. Custodian

The tour dates are as follows:

October
1st – Southampton, The 1865
2nd – Indie Daze, London
11th – Liverpool, Music Room
12th – Selby, Town Hall
25th – Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
26th – Leicester, The Y Theatre
27th – Sheffield, Greystones

November
5th – Hastings, Black Market VIP
6th – Swindon, Vic
9th – Stowmarket, John Peel Centre
10th Harpenden, Public Halls
17th – Barnstaple, Pilton Village Hall
18th – Shiiine On Weekender, Minehead
21st – Leeds Brundenell
22nd – Bury, The Met
23rd – Biddulph, Town Hall
24th – Bristol, Thunderbolt
27th – Carlisle, Old Fire Station
29th – Dumfries, CatStrand
30th – Irvine, Harbour Art Centre

December
1st – Newcastle, Cluny 2

Presenting…Frontperson

Ever played six degrees of Kevin Bacon? The aim of the parlour game is to see how many degrees you are removed from the legendary actor. My claim to fame (well, I have a couple) is that I used to work in Fopp in Edinburgh with Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon fame. The latest news from Mr. Hamilton (who is lovely, by the way) is that he has collaborated with the New Pornographers’ Kathryn Calder on a new act called Frontperson. They’ll be releasing their first album together, entitled Frontrunner, on September 21. This is gorgeous indie-folk meets chamber pop music.

So far, two tracks have been released from the record, with excellent videos to boot. First up (ok it’s been around for a bit, but I’ve been trying to get my writing head back on) is ‘Tick-Tock (Frontrunner).’ The video looks at a sports meet, but by showing it in reverse, it actually means that everyone ends equally, the same. This seems like a pretty good metaphor for life, if you ask me. The video was made by Rob Leickner and Ryan Sudds.

It’s a gorgeous song, and possibly even better is ‘Young Love’ (much newer, it’s only been out for five days). It’s about having a crush on someone (we’ve all been there, so it’s pretty universal). Directed by Lorenz Trobinger (you can read about it in more detail over on Stereogum), who also stars in it, it’s simple, straightforward, and yet surprisingly affective.

Frontrunner will be out on Ms. Calder’s own Oscar St. Records on September 21. Order it from their bandcamp here

The tracklisting is as follows:

1 “U.O.I”
2 “Long Night”
3 “Tick-Tock (Frontrunner)”
4 “He Follows Me”
5 “Young Love”
6 “Shorter Days”
7 “This City Is Mine”
8 “Postcards From A Posh Man”
9 “Insight”

 

 

Album Review – Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi -‘Hunter.’ (Domino)

…bloody hell, now that’s what I’m talking about.

There’s been a lot of gigs over the course of the summer, and I’ll be honest, a lot of the time it’s been great just to go and watch gigs without having to write up reviews. The inbox has looked ever more like a war zone and I’ve even wondered if I could carry on doing the blog, when the swamp of emails threatened to overwhelm me as much as I felt overwhelmed by more tourists than ever.

Then the new Anna Calvi album arrives, her third and her first for five years. Suddenly I remember why I fell in love with music in the first place. Even before I’ve finished listening to the album for the first time, I wonder: is this her best album? Because the first two are pretty damn good, but this is sorcery. See, after punk, for many years artists felt they had to hide their musical abilities. Calvi has a voice that absorbs opera, in her own distinctive way, and her guitar playing is virtuoso – yet neither ever feel over the top. That my friends, is some serious talent right there. Combined with the songwriting and it’s an utterly irresistible combination.

There’s scarcely a wrong move on the album – within a few notes my wife pricked up her ears and asked who it was – but the title track and ‘Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy’ which did the rounds ahead of the album are a great place to start. The videos are worth seeing too; enough to give programmers of music TV nightmares but those who believe music videos can be art will love them.

So, with this release, Ms. Calvi has reached a new level, and it’s more sensual and passionate than ever. She’s talking more freely in interviews about sexuality and gender, and that shouldn’t frighten away anyone other than those who have no place here. As Brian Eno said, when she first appeared, she was the best thing since Patti Smith, but Anna Calvi has truly arrived as Anna Calvi with this release. An essential listen that reaches in, grabs you and won’t let go…

****1/2

Hunter is out now on Domino

Track of the day #58: Low

Low, photo credit Shelly Mosman.

As I hinted at in my last post, I’ve been exhausted by everything going on in Edinburgh during August. But it’s time to return to some kind of normality around here…

I mentioned a few months ago that Low are about to release a new album, entitled Double Negative. Coming out once again on the legendary Sub Pop, the tracks released so far to do the rounds are a sign that the band have taken a radical step and embraced electronics. Overwhelmed by submissions over here at 17 Seconds Towers, ‘Disarray,’ taken from the album, is simply stunning. As in: one of the best tracks I have heard this year.

At first, it might even seem like radio interference, and then the vocals kick in. It’s like hearing ELO over some of the noughties finest noise acts, something that sounds so wrong it can only possibly come together. It continues to bode well for the new album, and shows that twenty-five years in, the trio from Duluth, Minnesota are continuing to challenge listeners. Bring on the album!

What I did on my holidays

It’s been a busy few weeks, if not round the blog. I’ve been enjoying the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, and generally feeling pretty damn tired as a result.

I have written a couple of bits for God Is In The TV zine, which I encourage you to have a look at: my Aretha Franklin obituary was written last Thursday, and you can find it here. I also contributed to the twenty best Madonna songs article on the magazine, and you can read mine and everyone else’s contributions here.

I’ve also enjoyed Mamma Mia Here We Go Again at the cinema- and should you be so inclined, here’s a piece I wrote in the very early days of the blog comparing Abba to Joy Division, and amongst other things, seen Pussy Riot and John Grant at the festival.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel exhausted by the sheer amount of music that’s out there, new and old.

So, based on what I’ve written above, if you hear one track today, it should be this. Aretha Franklin’s recording of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from her gospel album Amazing Grace. Just fantastic.

Forthcoming from Richard Thompson

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a new Richard Thompson album is always cause for celebration around 17 Seconds Towers.

The man is due to release his new album 13 Rivers on September 14. In his own words “This has been an intense year for myself and my family, getting older doesn’t mean that life gets easier! There are surprises around every bend. I think this reflects in the immediacy of the stories, and the passion in the songs. Sometimes I am speaking directly about events, at other times songs are an imaginative spin on what life throws at you. The music is just a mirror to life, but we try to polish that mirror as brightly as possible.”

The tracklisting is as follows:

The Storm Won’t Come
The Rattle Within
Her Love Was Meant For Me
Bones Of Gilead
The Dog In You
Trying
Do All These Tears Belong To You?
My Rock, My Rope
You Can’t Reach Me
O Cinderella
No Matter
Pride
Shaking The Gates

The first two tracks to be released from the album ‘The Storm Won’t Come’ and ‘Bones Of Gilead’ can be streamed below:

Presenting…Grand Champ 1990

Scott Longmuir, resident of the wider Edinburgh area, has already given us both three-piece Thieves In Suits, and then folk-rock group The Last Battle. The latter’s debut album Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea I was privileged to put out on the label associated with this blog, 17 Seconds Records, in 2010. (My son recently pointed it out -‘That’s the album where you’re thanked, Dad!’)

That was then…and this is now. Scott’s latest musical project is Grand Champ 1990, which sees him working in more of an electronica vein under the name Grand Champ 1990. The first track to do the rounds is entitled ‘Sayonara’ (slightly ironic, as ‘Sayonara’ is Japanese for ‘Goodbye’ not ‘Hello’ but he’s actually a decent bloke, so we’ll let that pass. For now.)

This is taken from an EP, entitled Pressure Points, which will be released on September 21. Also featuring the tracks ‘A Big Love,’ ‘Photocopies,’ ‘Look For Me’ and ‘Lost Boys’ you can pre-order it here. Which would be a nice thing to do, no?

And, by the way, that is actually the man himself, back in his karate days…

Album Review – Spare Snare

Spare Snare – ‘Sounds’ (Chute Records)

So, if you’re in the lucky position of being able to celebrate twenty-five years of being a band, how should you mark that milestone in style? Well, if you’re Dundee’s legendary lo-fi indie-pop band Spare Snare, you get in touch with legendary record producer Steve Albini. You ask him if he might be up for co-hosting a Scottish Engineers’ Workshop with the band, and recording (a word Albini has always seemed more comfortable with than producer) Spare Snare for the rest of the week.

Fortunately, for both the band, and for us, the answer was a definite yes. Creative Scotland stepped in to fund it, the band got to record ten songs with Albini from their back catalogue, and we, the listeners, get an album that stands strong in its own right. To top it off, the album was recorded at the legendary Chem 19 studios in Hamilton, where a number of legendary Scottish indie acts have recorded (including Delgados, Mogwai and Arab Strap).

Sure, the notion of re-recorded material doesn’t usually inspire confidence, evoking the memories of budget compilations that feature sub-standard versions of already available material. One of the real successes of this album is how it sounds fresh, as if these songs were always meant to be heard together. It’s a perfect introduction to the Snare – this is their thirteenth album and a fantastic album in its own right.

Not only that, but it’s amazing how the styles go from the mellow ‘Grow’ to the sneering and disarmingly self-deprecating ‘We Are The Snare.’ The former has dreamy trumpets, the latter plays off acoustic guitars against analogue synths that evoke the post-punk-new-pop snare of early Ultravix and equally early Human League. Sometimes the word ‘lo-fi’ can evoke the sensation that it might be a difficult listen. Not at all in the case of Sounds which is an album that’s easy to love, without being ‘easy listening’ (yet another point in its favour). As ‘Bugs’ draws the album to a close with its chorus of ‘Goodbye’ reflections show it’s been a brilliant thirty three minutes, sparking the urge to a)listen to it all again and b) listen to their substantial back catalogue.

There are days when I wonder if the word ‘indie’ means anything anymore, or even whether I’m still excited by music. There’s something so refreshing about this band that puts those sort of doubts aside. There’s an amazing indie pedigree to this album, which just adds to it all. Straightforward without being band, exciting without being overblown. What more do we need?

****1/2

Sounds is out now on Chute Records.

Forthcoming from Pale Waves

Pale Waves have released details of their forthcoming debut album. Having seen the band support The Cure in London earlier this month, and enjoyed the music I have heard so far, it is set to be a good one.

My Mind Makes Noises will be released on September 14, and the tracklisting is as follows:

Eighteen
There’s A Honey
Noises
Came In Close
Loveless Girl
Drive
When Did I Lose It All
She
One More Time
Television Romance
Red
Kiss
Black
Karl (I Wonder What It’s Like To Die)

The latest track to be unveiled from the album is the opening track ‘Eighteen.’

Just in case you haven’t heard Pale Waves, here’s a few other tracks from the album:

‘There’s A Honey’ (as featured in last year’s Festive Fifty

‘Noises’

‘Kiss’

Forthcoming from Suede

Somehow – call it middle-age, or more likely, just sheer music overload – I missed the fact that Suede have a new album coming out in September. Their eighth album is entitled The Blue Hour, and will be released on September 21.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. As One
2. Wastelands
3. Mistress.
4. Beyond The Outskirts
5. Chalk Circles
6. Cold Hands
7. Life Is Golden
8. Roadkill
9. Tides
10. Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You
11. Dead Bird
12. All The Wild Places
13. The Invisibles
14. Flytipping

You can stream the first two tracks to be made available below, ‘The Invisibles’ and ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You,’ which suggest that this may be one of Suede’s best albums if the rest of the album is of this quality…