The continuing adventures of SOAK and Chvrches

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I’ve long supported Chvrches on this blog and back in February wrote about the first signing to their Goodbye label, SOAK.

Ahead of a gig this Thursday (April 10) in London at St. Pancras Old Church, SOAK has unveiled this rather fine cover of the tune that first brought Chvrches to wider attention ‘The Mother We Share.’ Whilst that is an electronic wonder, this version strips it down so that the vulnerability in the song is laid bare for all to hear. And hear it you most definitely should.

To download it, go here – you just need to put in your email address.

And because it goes with this post, here is Chvrches’ remix of Blud.

Album Review: Kirsty MacColl

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Kirsty MacColl -’All I Ever Wanted – The Anthology’ (Edsel)

Even reading about the death about Kirsty MacColl still saddens me, nearly fourteen years later. It must be fairly bittersweet for her two sons, Jamie and Louis, every Christmas, when the anniversary of their mother’s death – through no fault of her own – happened right in front of them. Her most famous part – that of the female protagonist on The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale Of New York’ became a million-seller and is rightly regarded as the nation’s favourite Christmas song.

Of course, there’s far more to Ms. MacColl than her death and ‘Fairytale.’ It appears here, of course, but it’s telling that it appears halfway through the second disc of this compilation. Not because I think it needed to buried (hell, I’m still not sick of 26 years later), but because as the other 42 tracks reveal, there was so much more to her than that song.

So we have a number of her singles from over the years, songs that were deservedly hits -’Walking Down Madison,’ her covers of The Kinks’ ‘Days’ and a radio session version of ‘A New England’ recorded with Billy Bragg; singles that weren’t hits -’They Don’t Know,’ ‘Terry’ and ‘In These Shoes?’ as well as album tracks that showed just how awesome she was on that format, too – ‘England 2 Columbia 0′ and ‘Us Amazonians.’

It’s a genuinely comprehensive overview of her career as you’d expect, and hope, and one I feel does her twenty-year career justice. It’s also got decent sleevenotes (so nice when us reviewers are sent these rather than just streams or downloads!); and is both a great introduction and fantastic round-up.

****1/2

All I Ever Wanted – The Anthology is out on Edsel on April 7.

(not this version on this compilation but I had to share!)

Why I put together a petition about the scourge of touts

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Like many people, I tried and failed to get tickets for Kate Bush live in London when they went on sale last week. It was annoying, frustrating and just one of those things. I’m not the only person who never thought I’d see her live -and had hopes briefly raised when the dates were announced.

My Mum – a Yorkshire lass through and through – brought me up to understand that life wasn’t fair. But what really rankled with me and so many other people was the way that within a matter of moments of tickets being sold out was how quickly tickets were going online for way more than the going rate. Snapped up by touts who had no intention of going but making a quick buck.

Like many unpleasant aspects of society, touting has been around for many years. It’s not just a curse in the music scene, but a curse for theatre and sport and other fields too. The only people who win are those selling the tickets (if you honestly think that someone who sells you a ticket on the corner is going to wait while you run to the box office to check if it’s legit and give you a receipt, then you probably shouldn’t be let out of the house unsupervised).

Touts probably fall into three groups. First there’s the traditional one, almost certainly male who hangs arounds venues going ‘any tickets? I’ll buy or sell!’ They will almost never give you face value for the ticket that your mate couldn’t take and you couldn’t find someone else who wanted. They will rip you off. They are not nice people. There are those who will argue that they are entrepeneurs and they are simply fleecing people who have more money than sense. This is blatant crap. They are the people who buy up the tickets so legitimate fans cannot get tickets and rip people off.

Then the second group: the ‘company.’ They manage to block buy, and sell on with ridiculous mark-ups online or in suspiciously tiny offices. They have no higher moral highground than the touts, except they probably have more chance of getting inspected by the tax office. Finally, there’s the e-bay tout or the deluded music fan. Stuck in their bedrooms, they buy four tickets and justify selling on three others at higher prices on e-bay within minutes on the grounds that they are legitimate music fans.

It was because of the Kate Bush debacle – something I do not blame her, her management or her promoters for, by the way – that I have set up a petition calling for it to be illegal for people to be able to sell on tickets for events such as sport, music and theatre above the face value price of a ticket, and calling for such behaviour to be an offence.

This is not against those people who got tickets fairly, nor is it against those people who pass on their tickets at face value when they realise they can’t go. I won’t get Kate Bush tickets -and I hope those who got their tickets really enjoy themselves. But those who seek to justify that they’re putting food on the table or that it wouldn’t be enforceable really shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a venue.

The petition can be found here

Please sign and spread the word!

New track from Jack White

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There have been rumours of a new Jack White album for a bit now, a follow-up to the awesome solo debut that was 2012′s Blunderbuss (and that’s not to mention the fact that the forthcoming Neil Young album appears to have had White’s involvement as well).

But it turns out -happily – that rumours of a new album were right – and his second solo album Lazaretto will be out on June 9.

According to NME this track ‘High Ball Stepper’ is not the first single proper – that will be the title track, but this instrumental track sounds like a taster for something utterly wonderful And I thought the aforementioned Blunderbuss was the best album he had been involved with since Elephant.

See what you think of this…

Presenting…King Eider

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Having not been born in Edinburgh but having gravitated here at the turn of the last decade, I don’t really have the same sort of Edinburgh vs. Glasgow rivalry that many of those born in either city seem to have. I do rankle, though, when people treat the Edinburgh music scene as second-rate to Glasgow. It’s not just unfair, it’s untrue.

Edinburgh folk-blues band King Eider are shortly to release their debut album The Deeper The Water, from which the rather fabulous ‘Whisky’ is taken:

They list their influences as including Arcade Fire, Peter Green, alt-j, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Their album launch gig will take place in Edinburgh at The Caves on April 18.

This is their debut single ‘Drink Me Dry’ available via iTunes

Presenting…Amazing Snakeheads

Amazing Snakeheads

Described recently by The Guardian as ‘a band so exciting I couldn’t sleep’ Glasgow 3 piece the Amazing Snakeheads are Jordon (Drums), William (Bass) and Dale (vocals and guitars). Now when a band starts getting bigged up this much there’s always the risk that the hype can spoil it BUT the word is that The Amazing Snakeheads might actually be worth the hype.

They’re shortly to release their debut album Amphetamine Ballads on Domino (hope to other 17 Seconds faves like Stephen Malkmus, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys) and you know things are moving in the right direction when you’ve heard the band several times on day time radio. That song is ‘Here It Comes Again’ which fizzes along with an impressive amount of urgency, and makes you stop what you’re doping to jump around. Even more impressive when you’re the wrong side of 35.

Check out these two tracks, both on the forthcoming Amphetamine Ballads:

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

1. I’m A Vampire
2. Nighttime
3. Swamp Song
4. Here It Comes Again
5. Flatlining
6. Where Is My Knife?
7. Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby
8. Memories
9. Heading For Heartbreak
10. Tiger By The Tail

Amphetamine Ballads is released by Domino on April 14.

The return of Gruff Rhys

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Super Furry Animals have now been on hiatus for five years, but in that time they have been working on various projects. Not least singer Gruff Rhys who has recorded under both his own name and as half as Neon Neon. He’s just about to release his fourth solo album, American Interior.

According to the press release ‘American Interior is a unique project… blurring the boundaries and possibilities of songwriting, music, literature, film and technology to create a multisensory experience telling the incredible true story of John Evans, a twenty-two-year-old farmhand from Snowdonia, Wales, who travelled to America in search of a Welsh-speaking Native American tribe – The Madogwys – still walking the Great Plains.

Reportedly Gruff Rhys is a distant relative of Evans. In the summer of 2012, over two hundred years later, he retraced the explorer’s route through the heart of the continent by means of an “Investigative Concert Tour” – a series of solo gigs that saw him accompanied by little more than acoustic guitar, PowerPoint presentation and ‘a three-foot high felt avatar of John Evans designed by artist and long-time collaborator Pete Fowler.’

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. American Exterior
2. American Interior
3. 100 Unread Messages
4. The Whether (Or Not)
5. The Last Conquistador
6. Lost Tribes
7. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)
8. Allweddellau Allweddol
9. The Swamp
10. Iolo
11. Walk Into The Wilderness
12. Year Of The Dog
13. Tiger’s Tale

The video for the title track and forthcoming single can be seen below:

Presenting…Lenzie Moss

Lenzie Moss

Lenzie Moss is Finlay MacDonald, a former member of both Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits.

Reportedly he sees his music as more Gregory’s Girl than Trainspotting, which might be a very good way of describing his forthcoming single ‘Let’s Take The Day Off’ (****) which is -and this is definitely meant as a compliment – very much in the vein of both of the aforementioned bands.

Having released his debut album Introducing Lenzie Moss in 2012, his sophomore album will be released this September.

For now, turn this up – we’re starting to see signs of Spring here in Scotland, and as ever, it all needs a soundtrack. Why not Lenzie Moss?

‘Let’s Take The Day Off’ is released via bandcamp on March 31.

Finally…a new Pixies album!

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A mere 23 years since their last and fifth album Trompe Le Monde, The Pixies are going to release their sixth studio album on April 28. It’s entitled Indie Cindy.

Of course, how much of a studio album this is might depend on your own personal viewpoint. The album consists of the three Eps that the band have released over the last year, entitled EP1, EP2 and erm, EP3. It is, of course, worth bearing in mind that The Beta Band’s The 3 EPs was exactly that, and Japanese Whispers by The Cure was three singles and their attendant b-sides. The EPs have either been available as downloads or very limited copies from the band’s website, so this is the first time that they’ve been properly available.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1.What Goes Boom

2.Greens and Blues

3.Indie Cindy

4.Bagboy

5.Magdalena 318

6.Silver Snail

7.Blue Eyed Hexe

8.Ring the Bell

9.Another Toe in the Ocean

10.Andro Queen

11.Snakes

12.Jaime Bravo

There’s a whole variety of formats (and I fear that many of these will end up being flogged online for vastly inflated prices so act quickly!)

* available at pixiesmusic.com, a special deluxe, limited edition (3,000) two-disc set (available as a CD and as a deluxe gatefold album pressed on 180-gram vinyl) that includes the 13-track live disc. This deluxe package also includes a 40-page, hard-back book that features the new artwork produced exclusively for Indie Cindy. The CD limited edition is packaged in a special gold-foil hard slipcase.

* as a two-disc, deluxe gatefold album, pressed on 180-gram vinyl

* as a standard 12-track single-CD digipak with booklet

* as a standard 12-track digital download via iTunes, Amazon, and other online retail sellers

* as an expanded digital download exclusively through iTunes that includes a bonus live-in-concert 13-track set recorded during the band’s recently-completed North American tour

On April 19, a week before the official release date and exclusively for Record Store Day – Pixies will make Indie Cindy available as a special RSD limited edition, two-disc, deluxe gatefold, 180-gram vinyl set, only from independent record stores participating in RSD around the world. When these are gone, they’re gone.

There’s a handful of videos that have already been made:

The return of Stanley Odd

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It’s great to see that Stanley Odd’s profile continues to rise. They will release a new 4 track EP at the end of April entitled Chase Yirsel. That’s Scots, not a spelling mistake, by the way.

Ahead of that, to celebrate Record Store Day, they have announced the release of a special limited edition 12″ single featuring brand new tracks ‘Chase Yirsel’ and ‘Let Ma Brain Breathe’, with artwork illustrated by Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit fame. 500 copies of the single will be made available through participating indie record stores on Saturday 19th April.

The band will also be performing instore at Love Music in Glasgow and VoxBox in Edinburgh on the day as well as signing copies of the release.

Check out ‘Let Ma Brain Breathe’ below.

Read my interview with them from 2012 here