Presenting…Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

One of the most anticipated debut albums of this year is Courtney Barnett’s wonderfully titled Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Two very different tracks have been previewed from the Australian’s album, which you can watch below.

‘Pedestrian At Best’ has a weird and wonderful video, and the song grabs you and thrills in a way I recall when I first heard The Breeders’ ‘Cannonball’ all those years ago…

Meanwhile, ‘Depreston’ is an altogether different (but just as good) kettle of fish:

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

1. Elevator Operator
2. Pedestrian at Best
3. An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in NY)
4. Small Poppies
5. Depreston
6. Aqua Profunda!
7. Dead Fox
8. Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party
9. Debbie Downer
10. Kim’s Caravan
11. Boxing Day Blues

I may have been late to the party, but if you are too, then check out her earlier track ‘Avant Gardener’ with what I believe may well be the world’s first kooky tennis music video.

The return of My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket

May 4 will see the release of My Morning Jacket’s first album in four years, The Waterfall.

The first track to be previewed from the album is the utterly gorgeous (and musically more-ish) ‘Big Decisions.’ The song can be streamed via YouTube below:

The tracklisting for The Waterfall, their seventh studio album, is as follows:

1. Believe (Nobody Knows)
2. Compound Fracture
3. Like A River
4. In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)
5. Get The Point
6. Spring (Among the Living)
7. Thin Line
8. Big Decisions
9. Tropics (Erase Traces)
10. Only Memories Remain

Album Review – Bob Dylan

Dylan

Bob Dylan -’Shadows In The Night’ (Columbia/Sony)

Shadows In The Night is Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album. Whilst it might seem strange that the man often regarded as the songwriter’s songwriter would release an album completely consisting of cover versions, it’s not the first time that his albums have been either mostly comprised (Bob Dylan, Self-Portrait) or even completely comprised (Good As I Been To You, World Gone Wrong, Christmas In The Heart), of cover versions, or if you want to be specific, traditional songs.

This time round, the theme is songs popularised by Frank Sinatra in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Reportedly 23 songs were recorded – so we can either expect another studio album to reveal more, or another of his fantastic Bootleg series. And as a whole album, it hangs together really, really well. The sleeve suggests the classic smoky late night atmosphere of Sinatra’s studio albums or jazz albums of the period. These are songs that require a croon – which he does well. Whilst it falters a little on ‘Stay With Me’ the vocal style is midway between Sinatra and Dylan at his more gruff.

Indeed some of these covers are genuinely moving – the South Pacific song ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and though brief, ‘Autumn Leaves’ is this scribe’s favourite. It’s a gorgeous album overall, with a fantastic melancholy that makes it something to treasure. Covers albums can be hit or miss, but overall this is a fine example of one that works, and shows us that six decades in, Dylan is still capable of surprises.

****

Shadows In The Night is out now on Columbia/Sony

Presenting…Pale Honey

Pale Honey

Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, Pale Honey are a duo consisting of Tuva Lodmark (guitar and vocals) and Nelly Daltrey (drums). They have been described as being like early PJ Harvey or Sleater-Kinney. Whilst the format of singer/guitarist and drummer has become quite popular over the last few years, their debut single ‘Youth’ suggests that there is much that they might have up their sleeves. There’s been quite a bit of acclaim for this track online, which comes out this Monday.

Their self-titled debut will be out on May 4, in the meantime, turn this up loud and play again and again!

Album Review – Bob Marley & the Wailers

Bob Marley

Bob Marley & the Wailers -’Easy Skanking in Boston ’78.’ (Universal)

February 6 marked what would have been Robert Nesta Marley’s 70th Birthday. This year there are rumours of all sorts of releases to coincide, and the first to come along is this excellent recording, previously unreleased of an American gig in June 1978.

There’s been previous live Marley albums over the years – Babylon By Bus, Live! (AKA Live At the Lyceum) and this joins them as an excellent album in its own right. Recorded around the time of the release of Kaya and not long after the still-astounding Exodus, what you have is a band at the peak of their powers, and an audience who are loving every minute.

It takes key album tracks and a number of the hits, but what is particularly exciting is the final three tracks of ‘War’/'No More Trouble,’ ‘Get Up Stand Up’ and the closing ‘Exodus’ where the passion and belief in Rastafarianism really shines through.

This really is no opportunistic cash in. Marley fans will be delighted, and if it’s not necessarily the starting point for those yet to investigate Marley (disturbing concept, but anything’s possible) it is a document of an excellent gig. Let’s hope further releases are of this calibre.

****

Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 is out now on Universal.

A song for today #1

Magic Potion
This arrived in my inbox the other day. Part of its charm is that there is the feeling that any moment the whole thing could fall to pieces – but doesn’t.

Magic Potion hail from Stockholm, Sweden. In their own words ‘Deep Web is a pop tune with sketchy guitar licks, VHS-y synth sounds, drums in mono and some lo-fi tape vibe sweetnesss. Basically, it’s about internet luuuv, eating pizza and feeling alone.’

Who am I to argue with that?

I can find very little information about them, other than that they are Gustaf Montelius, Kristoffer Byström and Andreas Sandberg. This appears to be the only song on their soundcloud, so take it at face value, and enjoy…

Presenting…Happyness

Happyness

South London trio Happyness (yes, ‘y’ not an ‘i’) released their debut album Weird Little Birthday last year and saw them pick up quite a lot of media acclaim. They have now signed to hip indie label Moshi Moshi, who will re-release Weird Little Birthday on March 30, including this new track ‘A Whole New Shape.’

The band are Jonny Allan, Benji Compston and Ashley Cooper. Listening to the music on their soundcloud page, influences surely include classic US indie rock, including the likes of Pavement, Yo La Tengo and
Wilco.

Check out this rather fine earlier track, the wonderfully named ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste The Same.’ If Hannibal Lecter wrote song titles…

You can also stream the earlier EP Everything I Do Is Alright below

More music can be found over at their Soundcloud page

Ash to release first new album for eight years

Ash

Poor Ash. Rather like a few years ago when Suede announced a new album, only to have it overshadowed by the release of David Bowie’s first album in a decade, little could they have known that when they announced their new album, the news of Blur’s first studio album in 12 years would overshadow it.

The band’s sixth album is entitled Kablammo!. There is no release date or tracklisting for the album as yet, but it can be pre-ordered through PledgeMusic.

The first track to be heard from the album is ‘Cocoon’, which can also be bought online and can be streamed below:

They will also be on tour in June:

Dublin Whelans, June 7
Belfast Limelight, June 8
Edinburgh Liquid Room, June 9
London Scala, June 11
Manchester Sound Control, June 12
Wakefield Long Division Festival, June 12
Isle of Wight Festival, June 14

The long-awaited return of Blur

It’s been a long-time coming – in fact, Damon Albarn himself indicated it might never come out – but it has been announced today that Blur will finally release their eighth album, The Magic Whip, on April 27.

The first track to do the rounds ‘Go Out’ can be bought now, online – and the lyric video – which appears to feature a woman making vanilla ice-cream to compliment the cover art of the album, can be streamed above.

According to NME the album tracklisting is as follows:

‘Lonesome Street’
‘New World Towers’
‘Go Out’
‘Ice Cream Man’
‘Thought I Was A Spaceman’
‘I Broadcast’
‘My Terracotta Heart’
‘There Are Too Many Of Us’
‘Ghost Ship’
‘Pyongyang’
‘Ong Ong’
‘Mirrorball’

Whilst Blur never officially split, they were inactive for much of the 2000s, after the release of their seventh album, Think Tank. That album featured guitarist Graham Coxon playing on only one track -’Battery In Your Leg.’ Since 2009, as well as playing live the band have issued two singles ‘Fool’s Day‘ in 2010 and ‘Under The Westway‘/’The Puritan’ in 2012.

I’ve been a fan since the early nineties – and loved these tracks: ‘Fool’s Day’ made no.10 in my Festive Fifty in 2010, while both sides of the 2012 single made the list in 2012.

Excitingly, as well as the already confirmed Hyde Park show in June, there are going to be more live appearances…

Forthcoming from Tori Amos

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Back in late 1991, Tori Amos’ ‘Silent All These Years’ appeared on the radio. It was unsettling, vastly different and utterly thrilling. It later became a Top 40 hit on re-release, and indeed she had a number of UK chart hits in the 90s, including a no.1 single with a remix of her song ‘Professional Widow.’

April 13 will see deluxe re-issues of her first two albums, 1992′s Little Earthquakes and 1994′s Under The Pink. These not only include a number of great singles – ‘Pretty Good Year,’ ‘Crucify,’ ‘Winter’ and ‘Cornflake Girl’ but also some excellent b-sides. My favourite was ‘Sister Janet’ (the b-side of ‘Cornflake Girl’, but perhaps the most legendary was her take on Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’:

‘Take To The Sky’ is another Little Earthquakes‘ era b-side that suggests you really should snap these re-issues up: