New from The Killers

Killers 2019

It has been a while since I featured The Killers on the blog. If I’m being honest, Hot Fuss is the only album I ever really listen to.

But this new standalone track ‘Land Of The Free’ is quite good, and the video directed by the legendary Spike Lee is incredibly pertinent.

Can’t wipe that wind blown smile from across my face
It’s just the old man and me
Washing his truck at the Sinclair station
In the land of the free
His mother Adeline’s family came on a ship
Cut coal and planted a seed
Down in them drift mines of Pennsylvania
In the land of the free
In land of the free
When I go out in my car I don’t think twice,
But if you’re the wrong color skin
You grow up looking over both your shoulders
In the land of the free
And we got more people locked up than the rest of the world
Right here in red white and blue
Incarceration’s become big business
And it’s harvest time out on the avenue
In the land of the free
Move on, there’s nothing to see
So how many daughters?
Tell me how many sons
Do we have to put in the ground
Before we just break down and face it?
We’ve got a problem with guns
In the land of the free
Down at the border
They’re gonna put up a wall
With concrete and rebar steel beams
High enough to keep all those filthy hands off of our hopes and our dreams
People who just want the same thing we do
In the land of the free

Album Review – You Tell Me

You Tell Me

You Tell Me -You Tell Me (Memphis Industries)

You Tell Me is the new project of Field Music’s Peter Brewis and Admiral Fallow’s Sarah Hayes. Their self-titled album has grown out of a meeting at a Kate Bush celebration concert and the discovery of a shared love as music diverse as Tortoise and Rufus Wainwright. On paper, this sounds like an album that has the potential to really be a brilliant album…

Both artists have an impressive track record – Sarah is additionally established as a contemporary folk artist- and this is very much an equal collaboration. When their voices come together it’s gorgeous, and they really meld together well. However, whilst there’s a lot going on here on this album that demonstrates their considerable individual talents, it’s possibly a bit too clever for its own good, with the result that several tracks just leave the listener feeling really rather overwhelmed.

The album really does not get off to a good start. Opener ‘Enough To Notice’ sounds a bit sickly sweet, and the idea of ‘Water Cooler’ – that of an inept office romance- is interesting enough on paper, but in reality has so much going on that it’s really rather distracting. ‘Clarion Call’ aims to sound like Fairport Convention (an aim that no artist should ever be criticised for, admittedly) but doesn’t quite get there.

On the other hand, ‘Springburn’ is a success because it’s shorn of too much cleverness, and the end result is absolutely lovely, pretty much as stripped down as this album gets. Album closer ‘Kabuki’ manages to combine the duo’s experimental tendencies and to produce something as equally gorgeous.

There’s a lot going on here, rather too much to deal with (thankfully, it’s not a long album). Perhaps three or four tracks would hang together well to make up a pretty decent EP. Instead of which, we are presented with a series of ideas that obscure the songs underneath. Yes, it’s well produced, but that really isn’t enough to make a decent album. Frustratingly, even repeated plays do not start to illuminate the album, as if to make it something worth persevering with, but instead, leave it as something that listened to as a whole make it more of an endurance test.

There’s no doubt that Messrs Brewis and Hayes are talented songwriters with a desire to experiment. But on the evidence here, at the risk of sounding harsh, the tendency is to say ‘don’t give up the day jobs.’ Or, alternatively, develop the ideas more carefully next time.


You Tell Me is released on Memphis Industries on January 11.



Presenting…Katie Doherty

Katie-Doherty-And-The-Navigators-136Katie Doherty released her first album, Bridges, back in 2007. A number of projects have meant that 2019 will see its follow-up, And Then.

Credited to Katie Doherty and The Navigators, it’s a beautiful album (already played twice in one sitting today), that will be released on January 25. A full review will follow shortly.

The first track to be released from the album ‘Heartbeat Ballroom,’ is a lovely track, which is accompanied by a video which is quite moving (lump in the throat moments) directed by Ian Fenton and mostly featuring members of the Walsall community. You can read more about it here.


You can hear more tracks from the album here

Presenting…Oceans Over Alderaan

Oceans Over Alderaan

Hello, and a happy new year to you all.

Shortly before Christmas I received an email from a Blackpool band named Oceans Over Alderaan. The band are Alice Deacon, Steve Trenell, Joe Wylie and Barry Parkinson. Amongst their influences are the likes of The Cure, Cocteau Twins, and Mogwai.

January 11 will see them release their debut single ‘Sevenfour’ which is absolutely fantastic and you can stream below. It combines the best of shoegaze, doomrock, post-rock…call it what you will, it’s really very good indeed. It’s released on The Recording Industry Is Dead Records, which seems to be pretty accurate, but here’s hoping this reignites it.

The only other track on their soundcloud page is ‘Falters’ …which sounds equally good and will be released later on this year. As far as I can see there are no gigs lined up at the moment, but what’s on display here is fantastic.

Albums of the year 2018

OK, last year’s list disappeared, but the album of the year was Deerhoof’s Mountain Moves, with honourable mentions to Bjork’s Utopia and Stormzy’s Gang Signs And Prayers. Without further ado, onto 2018…

Dead Can Dance top this year’s best of list. Lisa Gerrard’s Twilight Kingdom album topped the list in 2014, making her the first person to have topped the chart on more than one occasion! 😉

  1. Dead Can Dance Dionysus
  2. Janelle Monae Dirty Computer
  3. Richard Thompson 13 Rivers
  4. Young Fathers Cocoa Sugar
  5. Adam Stafford Fire Behind The Curtain
  6. Angelique Kidjo Remain In Light
  7. Miles Hunt The Custodian
  8. Broken Records What We Might Know
  9. Solareye These People Are Me
  10. Mogwai Kin
  11. Anna Calvi Hunter
  12. Breeders All Nerve
  13. Idles Joy As An Act Of Resistance
  14. Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
  15. Gretchen Peters Dancing With The Beast
  16. Kim Richey Edgeland
  17. Low Double Negative
  18. Spare Snare Sounds Recorded By Steve Albini
  19. Tracey Thorn Dancefloor
  20. Trials Of Cato Hide and Hair

So, I’ve heard way more albums than this, but this were the twenty that stood out for me. An interview with the winners, Dead Can Dance, will be published very shortly

Lest we forget…

2017 Deerhoof Mountain Moves

 2016 David Bowie Blackstar

2015 Bjork Vulnicura

2014 Lisa Gerrard Twilight Kingdom

2013 Dead Flowers Midnight At The Wheel Club

2012 Grimes Genesis

2011 PJ Harvey Let England Shake

2010 DeLorean Subiza

2009 Broken Records Until The Earth Begins To Part

2008 Cave Singers Invitation Songs

2007 Burial Untrue

2006 Camera Obscura Let’s Get Out Of This Country

17 Seconds Festive Fifty 2018

  1. Janelle Monae ‘Make Me Feel.’
  2. Childish Gambino ‘This Is America.’
  3. Grand Champ 1990 ‘Photocopies.’
  4. Young Fathers ‘In My View.’
  5. George McFall ‘Autumn.’
  6. Richard Thmpson ‘The Storm Won’t Come.’
  7. Angelique Kidjo ‘Once In A Lifetime.’
  8. Miles Hunt ‘On The Ropes.’
  9. Tracey Thorn ‘Queen’
  10. Broken Records ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone.’
  11. Chvrches ‘Get Out.’
  12. Christine and the Queens featuring Dam-Funk ‘Girlfriend.’
  13. Mazzy Star ‘Quiet, The Winter Harbour.’
  14. Mogwai ‘Donuts.’
  15. St. Vincent ‘Fast Slow Disco.’
  16. Lana Del Rey ‘Mariner’s Apartment Complex.’
  17. Superorganism ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous.’
  18. Frontperson ‘Tick Tock (frontrunner).’
  19. Ezra Furman ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound.’
  20. Deva Mahal ‘It’s Down To You.’
  21. Pale Waves ‘Eighteen.’
  22. Grand Champ 1990 ‘Look For Me.’
  23. Ride ‘Catch You Dreaming.’
  24. Justin Levinson ‘I’ll Make It In Hollywood.’
  25. Suede ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You.’
  26. Trials Of Cato ‘Tom Paine’s Bones.’
  27. Arctic Monkeys ‘Four Out Of Five.’
  28. Breeders ‘All Nerve.’
  29. John Grant ‘Love Is Magic.’
  30. Idles ‘Samaritans.’
  31. Floirence and the Machine ‘Hunger.’
  32. Gang Of Four ‘Lucky.’
  33. Twilight Sad ‘I/m Not Here [Missing Face].’ (sic!)
  34. Wolf Alice ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses (Charli XCX x Post Precious remix).’
  35. Young Fathers ‘Toy.’
  36. U.S. Girls ‘Pearly Gates.’
  37. We Were Promised Jetpacks ‘Hanging In.’
  38. Spiritualized ‘Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go.’
  39. Field Music ‘Time In Joy.’
  40. Cat Power and Lana Del Rey ‘Woman.’
  41. Belly ‘Shiny One.’
  42. Courtney Barnett ‘Namless, Faces.’
  43. David Byrne ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House.’
  44. Mogwai ‘We’re Not Done (End Theme).’
  45. Breeders ‘Nervous Mary.’
  46. Kendrick Lamar ‘All The Stars.’
  47. Soccer Mommy ‘Your Dog.’
  48. Pale Waves ‘The Tide.’
  49. Jack White ‘Connected By Love.’
  50. Manic Street Preachers ‘International Blue.’

To hear the top ten tracks head here

Lest we forget…

2017 Young Fathers ‘Only God Knows’

2016 Christine and the Queens ‘Tilted.’

2015 Courtney Barnett ‘Pedestrian At Best.’

2014 St. Vincent ‘Digital Witness.’

2013 Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky.’

2012 Grimes ‘Genesis.’

2011 Hiatus featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson ‘Insurrection.’

2010 eagleowl ‘No Conjunction.’

2009 Peter Parker ‘Swallow The Rocket.’

2008 Wedding Present ‘The Trouble With Men.’

2007 Emma Pollock ‘Adrenaline.’

2006 Long Blondes ‘Weekend Without Makeup.’

Christmas Posts 2018 #9

A few weeks ago I wrote about a creepy video from Low, but the reality is ten years ago they made a rather creepy video for their Christmas single ‘Santa’s Coming Over.’

Now ten years ago I found this more spooky than I do now, possibly due to the arrival of my own child and assorted nieces and nephews, but this is still unsettling. Then again, Christmas is traditionally a time for ghost stories, so goodness only knows what these kids are going to do…

Low’s 1999 Christmas album has become a classic over the years. ‘Just Like Christmas’ is the lead track, and there have been various covers of tracks from the album, including Jimmy Eat World, Snow Patrol and Tracey Thorn & Green Gartside. As far as I can find there wasn’t an official video but this is always lovely to hear.

I’d almost forgotten about this, but this was their 2016 Christmas single ‘Some Hearts (at Christmas Time)’ which is really, rather lovely. As next year is the twentieth (how?!?) anniversary of that Christmas album, who knows what festive specialities may come our way.

Christmas Posts 2018 #4

So, my attempt to include new tracks as well as old this year, continues with Glasgow’s The Raptors. Formed earlier this year, the band include the Ramones, the New York Dolls, and the Runaways among their influences. They released their debut single ‘Death Becomes Her’/’Teen Witch’ in August and promise a new double single in the new year. The band are Becca (guitar and vocals), Jane (guitar and vocals), Jack (drums and howls (sic))  and Juana (bass and vocals).

The band have just put out a special Christmas track, entitled ‘It’s Christmas (Have A Rock’n;Roll Time)’ which is a whole heap of fun and attitude, with the threat of falling apart any second. Whether it does or not will require you to listen to the track…

Album Review – Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters -‘Dancing With The Beast.’ (Proper)

It doesn’t contain the subtitle ‘Eleven tales of heartbreak and loss from the American heartlands’ but it could almost do. However – and here’s the impressive bit – despite the themes that lie within, this is an album that is possible to make a connection with. It’s a very human album, and one that instead of making listeners feel ‘oh I can’t bear this! it’s too depressing’ instead, it’s one of connections.

Those connections can be things like getting older, and finding that you’re getting lost in your hometown, the opening line of the record. ‘The years go by like days. Sometimes the days go by like years. And I don’t know which one I hate the most,” she sings in ‘Arguing with Ghosts,’ the opening track on the album.

This is very much a record from a woman’s perspective, and as a male writer, with all the privilege that still embodies, I mean that as a compliment. She has spoken how the 2017 Women’s March and #MeToo Movement ended up as bookends to her writing time, and the characters inhabit the songs may come from her imagination, but oh, are they real. Additionally, there’s the little matter of the most recent Presidential Election since her last album, which sharpens her perceptions, and indeed, those of us as listeners.

In ‘Wichita’ we have the Greek tragedy of the dumb girl disfigured at birth who is abused by her stepfather and eventually takes matters into her own hands. The title track is sung from the point of view of a woman in a relationship were her interactions with others are being controlled. With such strong writing and performances on the record, there’s barely a dud track. If forced to pick a standout, though, it could well be ‘Truckstop Angel.’ On this song, informed by an article she had read, and an observation at an Alabama truckstop, Peters sings from the persepctive of a truckstop prostitute. The roll of the dice within represents the chance that these women take when they get into a car or truck to have sex with strangers in order to survive.

It’s a beautifully arranged album, and the music provides a perfect foil that could make those words so hard to take on board. In a funny way, the album it begs comparison with is the latest album from Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer. At first glance (listen?) the records may appear poles apart. But they are spectacularly on the money with their assessment of life in the United States at this particular point in history.

A real accomplishment.


Dancing With The Beast is released on Proper on May 18.

Track of the day #53: Jamie Bacon

This arrived in the inbox a few days ago. Released today, I held back on publishing until it was actually released.

Jamie Bacon originally hails from Wick in the north of Scotland. Now based in the Central Belt (he doesn’t specify), this is a song which draws on rock and folk, with that strand of Scots melancholy that is found in the likes of Frightened Rabbit, early Biffy Clyro, Idlewild and R.M. Hubbert.  The song talks of the issue of feeling isolated living so far north, and the feeling of being a prisoner in your hometown. A mighty fine song, in fact.

This is a live version of the track, released through Meraki records. You can stream it on all usual services, including bandcamp and buy it. (For the record, and to support the cause, I did.)