Gig review: The Pastels/Electrelane/The Royal We

Gig Review: The Pastels/Electrelane/The Royal We

The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, April 29, 2007

And so…Triptych, the annual Scottish five day event that brings great music from around the world and celebrates the homegrown variety in Scotland’s principal cities draws to a close. A night of three bands at the small but delightful Bongo Club (which has some damn fine programming).

First up, the Royal We, who look almost as young as some of the kids I teach. They seem a little awkward, but they short but sweet set wins me over. their singer is like Siouxsie Sioux’s delightfully demenetd niece, and the band look like the archetypal scots indie twee kids (that’s meant as a compliment. Hey, we’re at the Pastels’ gig). ‘Three is a crowd’ sounds great, Is This Music? have covered them, so let’s hope they are getting more ocverage very soon.

Electrelane have just put out their rather fab no Shouts, No Calls (go, buy it. Now) album – hopefully will post a review here in the next day or so. They are a revelation live. I have never seen them live before but I would drive a long way to see them. They remind me of a more Germanic Stereolab, though the sheer attitude is unbelievable. Not in a riot grrl sense, but the utter subversion of what music sometimes expects of women. I swear I sore the ghost of nico look down from her great opium den in the sky and smile approvingly. I say to Mr. Toad from Song, By Toad that I think if Nico were alive and well in 2007 and she’d be seeking out Electrelane as her backing band. He points out, not unreasonably, that they are doing pretty well without her. And the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds is suitably impressed too.

Before Camera Obscura, before Sons and Daughters, Belle and Sebastian – heck, even before my beloved Delgados, there was The Pastels. Legends on the scottish indie scene – in fact, indie legnds full stop, the expectation tonight is high. Unfortunately, much as I want to be blown away by this legendary band, who I love on record, they have horrendous sound problems. They are joined by Japanese band The Tennis Coats, whose contributions add a nice touch that reminds me a bit of Durutti Column, but Stephen Pastel seems like a rabbit caught in the headlights. It’s a measure of how highly The Pastels are regarded that the crowd patiently waits, but his discomfort is obvious. I hoep there’s another time, because I want, so badly, to
love them live as much as I do when I hear their music on their stereo. Another time? Please??

For another, perhaps more positive review of this gig, visit Song, By Toad. See if you can spot the reference to the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds…and hear some great stuff by the bands from the last two nights’ worth of gigs.

Gig review: Micah P.Hinson/Califone/Grant Campbell

Gig review: Micah P.Hinson/Califone/Grant Campbell

Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire, April 28, 2007

Never judge a book by it’s cover. Or assume that if someone looks like a quietish sort of person when they amble onstage, that that is how they will sound. Mical Paul Hinson is one of many human beings who exist to confound our expectations, and this world is all the more rewarding for people like him in it.

First of all, an apology to Grant Campbell, whose set the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds and I missed much of because we were still eating over the road. Another person who can defy expectations, he speaks with a deep scottish accent, yet sings like a man from the American heartlands…and pulls it off. Also, and having watched many people struggle to do this as support acts, even though it’s just him and his acoustic guitar, he holds the audience. I’d not heard a note of his music before tonight, but I would like to.

Califone fans may be better advised to check Song, By Toad if they want a positive review of this band. This American two-piece do an interesting line in Americana drone-type music, or at least for the first couple of songs. However, it starts to pale into one. This is not helped by the crowd that start talking louder and louder (note to such people: Without wishing to sound precious, please don’t talk through gigs. They may not be religious services but they are not extended sitting rooms for the chattering classes. Oh, and while I’m on the subject, Glaswegians who throw beer: if I catch you, I won’t be responsible for my actions…). I can see the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds’ eyes start to glaze over, and she is not alone.

Micah P. Hinson comes on stage supported by a rhythm section, a fellow Texan on bass and banjo and a Mancunian drummer who introduces as Nipples (possibly not his real name). Where Hinson defies expectations is that for a man younger than I, his voice his not only a deep Texan drawl, but also sounds like a man who is twice his age and lived many lifetimes. He later alludes to music being the only thing he can do well.

But boy, does he do it well. Hinson’s songs may sometimes be just a handful of chords, but whilst he plays with the passion of, say early Ramones and the artistic intensity of Sonic Youth, the sound produced is Americana at it’s most beautiful. There isn’t the room to dance in a packed Cab Volt, but when the banjo kicks in, I want to throw caution to the wind and have a knees-up, dancing the hoe-down. ‘Diggin’ a grave’ is a highlight for me. He also throws in a cover of Richard Hawley’s ‘Hotel Room’. He doesn’t introduce it, but there are shouts of recognition. He later gets lost during a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne – about two lines in, but the room is overflowing with goodwill for him, and it doesn’t matter.

I’m not an authority on Micah P. Hinson, and the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds had never heard him before, but the high we leave on convinces us we want to hear more. Mr. Toad was also raving about the show. Hinsopn may worry about the mistakes he has made, but tonight we will forgive him anything, and it would seem he has found his true calling.

It feels like summer

…even in Scotland. The constant discussion of elections is in the air, as well as the weather being lovely.

So here are three tracks: one that feels summery, one that feels political, and one that it both.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci-‘Spanish Dance Troupe.’ mp

The Soft Boys -‘I Want To Destroy You.’ mp3

The Gossip -‘Standing In the Way Of Control.’ mp3

As always, support the artists involved – and enjoy the sunshine.

My Electric Love Affair

I have been meaning to post on this Edinburgh band for some time…

Whilst I have to confess to never have seen them, they have done a couple of singles and hear great things about the live gigs.

My Electric Love Affair -‘Blow Me Down 2.’ mp3

My Electric Love Affair -‘Blow Me Down live.’ mp3

My Electric Love Affair -‘Rodney Relax.’ mp3

If you like this, there is another track over at their mySpace page

Enjoy. And let me know what you think!

Tonight I’m In The Mood For…


Or at least, Folk Rock type stuff.

Maybe not the stuff I normally post here at 17 Seconds, but as a blogger rather than an editor who has to answer to people…why not?

I’m by no means an authority on this genre (arguably, I’m not an authority on any genre) but this seems to fit with what I want to listen to tonight).

Fairport Convention -‘A Sailor’s Life.’ mp3

Fairport Convention -‘I’ll Keep It With Mine.’ mp3

Of course, playing Fairport Convention led me to someone I love, even though I’m far from an authority on his very wide body of work: Richard Thompson. As well as his solo work, and being guitarist for Fairport Convention in the sixties, Thompson also made some damn fine records with his then wife, Linda.

Richard and Linda Thompson -‘Shoot Out The Lights.’ mp3

Richard and Linda Thompson -‘I’ll keep It With Mine (live).’ mp3

And because it kinda fits with what I want to hear tonight, it may be obvious, but why not?

Bob Dylan -‘Like A Rolling Stone.’ mp3

Buy Fairport Convention at Amazon
Buy Richard and Linda Thompson at Amazon
Buy Bob Dylan at Amazon

Album Review: The Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys: ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’

So, I finished school, and went to the record shop to get the new Arctic Monkeys album (on Vinyl. Obviously). Even if I am thirty…

To be honest, I was not enamoured of Arctic Monkeys when they first came along. OK, it was cool how they had come of MySpace and were on Domino etc.. but ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ sounded to these ears like a Libertines rip-off. the first time I heard ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ I kept waiting for him to go into ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows.’

However, I am prepared to admit I was wrong. One day the aforementioned Sun’s lyrics filtered through, and I got what it was about. I did eventually buy the debut, and I have been looking forward to this sophomore album.

The web must be drowning in blogs and magazines and other people analysing it to shreds so I won’t here. But I find it more immediate on first listen than the debut. I like the way opener ‘Brianstorm’ doesn’t have a chorus but a slogan ‘See You Later, Innovator!’ The Monkeys are just as keen and sharp observers as, say, the Streets or The Specials of the world they are in. There are numerous potential singles on here – ‘Flourescent adolescent’ and ‘Only Ones Who Know,’ for example. But it also clocks in at under 45 minutes, which means that by the end of closer ‘505’ the album hasn’t overstayed it’s welcome.

Don’t believe the hype? I didn’t, but I’m still eating my words.


From Favourite Worst Nightmare:

Arctic Monkeys -‘Brianstorm.’ mp3

That great ‘inbetween debut and sophomore albums single (see also Blur, Oasis, Suede, oh sorry, showing my age again)

Arctic Monkeys -‘Leave Before The Lights Come On.’ mp3

And the song that changed my mind:

Arctic Monkeys -‘When The Sun Goes Down.’ mp3

Buy Favourite Worst Nightmare

Buy Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Buy Leave Before The Lights Come On

As ever, if you like the songs, follow the links and support the artists. These links will be up for one week only. Enjoy!

Links removed April 30.

Some covers for Sunday

Alright, so not particularly Sunday related, but a few more covers that I thought I would share with you:

I know I posted an Arcade Fire track yesterday, but I do like this cover of the Talking Heads song from 1983.

Arcade Fire ‘Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)(Talking Heads cover).’ mp3

Having posted a Jose Gonzalez song yesterday, I was reminded by Elizabeth over at The Roaring Machine about this track. And…Why not?

Jose Gonzalez -‘Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover).’ mp3

Driving back from the Glasgow gig last night with the soon to be Mrs. 17 Seconds, and two friends, (see below) one of them, Gordon, said that as an old raver he couldn’t get into The Klaxons. I’m really hoping this will change his mind.

The Klaxons -‘Not Over Yet (Grace cover).’ mp3

I like the Voxtrot bits I have heard so far, but I haven’t heard a huge amount. I like this New Order cover…

Voxtrot -‘Love Vigilantes (New Order cover).’ mp3

I do love Bond films. Octopussy has not dated particularly well, but I do think the title song is underrated (and I would much rather Rita Coolidge singing this, than say Sheena Easton doing ‘For Your Eyes Only’ or Gladys Knight’s Licence To Kill). Here Jarvis and co. work their usual magic.

Pulp -‘All Time High (Rita Coolidge cover).’ mp3

Considering how much of an influence they have been on me, I don’t know why I haven’t posted more Siousxie and the Banshees here. But whatever…here one Britain’s first lady of alternative music and her merry men take on the Beatles.

Siouxsie and the Banshees -‘Helter Skelter (Beatles cover).’ mp3

Hope you’re all having a nice weekend, wherever you may be.If you like these tracks, they will, as ever, only be up for one week only. Remember to support the artists, whether by going to Amazon or iTunes or wherever.

Be good xx

Links removed April 30.

Gig review: James/The Twang

Gig review: James/ The Twang, Glasgow Academy, April 21 2007

OK, I should probably start by being honest and admit that I managed to get slightly lost in Glasgow’s one-way system driving over, so we only caught the last three songs of The Twang’s set. Maybe it’s being the other side of thirty now, but I have reached the stage where just because a band have made it onto the cover of the NME does not mean I assume any longer that they must be any good. However, the three songs I heard I liked. They seem to know how to work a crowd, who were into proceedings, and that’s no mean feat for a crowd, many of whom could have been almost twice The Twnag’s age. The soon to be Mrs. 17 seconds described them as being like a slowed down acid house, though they are definitely a rock band.

When James come on, and kick straight into Come Home, it isn’t that it’s like they’ve never been away, but we’re reminded why we fell for them all those years ago. All the memories come back: the James’ t-shirts with flowers on them (note to younger readers; there was a time when bands like James and their contemporaries were known as T-shirt bands because they seemed to sell more T-shirts than records). Tim Booth has shaved his head but before I managed to have my view shut out by folk way taller than I, he has lost none of his charisma.

The band have a new greatest hits coming out shortly, but the sheer magic of the back catalogue was not forgotten last night in Glasgow. ‘Sit Down’ may have seemed almost like an albatross around their necks at one point – just as Radiohead found with ‘Creep’ a couple of years but they have so many other amazing songs. They never reached the commercial heights of U2 – though I seem to recall them playing a headline gig at Alton Towers amusement Park in England, circa the Seven album in 1992 – but their anthems certainly matched them. Some songs get gentle reworking, like the gentle lullaby version of ‘She’s A Star’ which is stripped of it’s swagger but not it’s aching beautiful sadness. Even the non-single tracks that get aired, like Gold Mother can bring the mostly over thirties shuffling around the baking hot Academy.

Comeback tours can feel like shameless exercises in nostalgia to pay half a dozen people’s mortgages. This was not one of those nights. The passion remains, the joy returns and the warmth lingers. And Tim Booth can still do the falsetto on ‘Laid.’ Come and sing your heart out. I just hope you’re not overcome by the venue’s heat like I was…

…And on the sixth day

There were six covers.

Hope you enjoy these folks…

This is from a gig in London in January this year, where the Arcade Fire (above)cover the Clash classic from London Calling.

Arcade Fire -‘Guns Of Brixton (Clash cover)’. mp3

Years ago, working in a record shop I was virtually sent to Coventry for a day for daring to ask ‘What’s wrong with Bruce Springsteen?’ I stand by that comment, the man is a hero to many, and just as an articulate observer of American life as many rappers or Bob Dylan. And Damon Gough knows it too.

Badly Drawn Boy -‘Thunder Road (Bruce Springsteen cover).’ mp3

At fifteen I thought Prince was a genius, but I started to get the feeling throughout the nineties that his work was not as good as it had been. Then I came to Scotland, and amongst the hundreds of albums I have bought in second hand records shops here since I arrived are much of his output from 1980-1988. I’ve also realsied that Country music can be cool too. Here the two collide beautifully.

The Be-good Tanyas -‘When Doves Cry (Prince and the Revolution cover).’ mp3

Having got into Sonic Youth at fourteen through Goo, I remember thinking that ‘Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star’ was a bit of a disappointment when I heard it, though the first single ‘Bull In The Heather’ was a gem. Here the Go! Team offer their take on it.

The Go! Team -‘Bull In The Heather (Sonic Youth cover).’ mp3

OK, so this track was a hit, and it did through an advertisement, but what the hell, it’s beautiful, and a genuinely different version of the original by the Knife.

Jose Gonzalez -‘Heartbeats (The Knife cover).’ mp3

Speaking of songs that start out electronica like, and end up acoustic, what better way to finish this than with Iron and Wine’s take on a Postal Service song.

Iron and Wine -‘Such Great Heights (Postal Service cover).’ mp3

Links removed April 28.


I have survived my first week back at work -and it’s now the weekend.

A little braindead – but not so braindead as to want to be without music. Hope you like these.

Nico -‘These Days.’ mp3 Buy it here

Cat Power -‘He War.’ mp3 Buy it here

Jolie Holland -‘Old Fashion Morphine.’ mp3 Buy it here

Unless you haven’t been here before now, you’ll know the drill by now: the tracks will be up for a week. If you like them, please support the artists involved.

Links removed April 28.