The Thrushes: Songs to blow your mind

OK, I’m going to throw caution to the winds, risk laughter and ridicule (hey, I teach teenagers, I’m used to it), and just tell you: you have to hear the Thrushes. On the basis of the three tracks posted on their website, and which I have posted here, this could be one of the greatest and biggest bands you will hear this year.

What is it like to listen to the Thrushes? To fall in love at first hearing and to have to go back and play them again immediately. To feel that the Jesus and Mary Chain, and the best shoegazing records you ever heard -Ride’s Nowehere, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Lush’s Spooky, brought together with the wonder of Mogwai’s ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ in the space of four minute songs. Not only is this a band to fall in love to, they’re a band to fall in love with. To rave about, and not care if people sneer at you for it. They would have been granted a Peel session if only he were still alive.

I can’t really say much more. But go and investigate. Their album Sun Come Undone is out in the US, available through iTunes and getting a proper European release on June 11. Their official website is here and their mySpace is here. For another post about the band, visit Colin’s post on them at And Before The First Kiss.

Thrushes-‘Aidan Quinn.’ mp3

Thrushes-‘Heartbeats.’ mp3

Thrushes-‘Wake Up.’ mp3

Six seminal sounds

It’s been a good weekend, and I’ve got lots of stuff done.

However, I figured it was time for something a bit different on this blog.

Adapted from a couple of CD-Rs that I made up a couple of years ago, Seminal Sounds CD-R 1 and er, Seminal Sounds CD-R 2, here are six tracks that I figure did a hell of a lot to change the face of music.

A Guy Called Gerald -‘Voodoo Ray.’ mp3

The Human League -‘Being Boiled.’ mp3

BBC Radiophonic Workshop -‘Doctor Who(Original Theme).’ mp3

Missy Elliott-‘Get Ur Freak On.’ mp3

Aphex Twin-‘Windowlicker.’ mp3

Billie Holiday-‘Strange Fruit.’ mp3

I shouldn’t need to post long justifications about these. Let’s just say, the first three tracks are milestones for electronic music, the Human League being one of the coldest things I have ever heard, whilst -in a completely different way, the Doctor Who theme is one of the warmest. Missy Elliott and Aphex Twin uped the ante, and deservedly got NME writers singles of the year for their tracks, whilst the Billie Holiday is haunting beyond belief, in a way that leaves Suicide, Nico and The Doors way, way behind.

If you like what you hear -and I believe you should -go check them out, via Amazon or iTunes, or better still, an independent shop.

These mp3s will be up for a week. Enjoy.

And now…for some GOTH

For some reason, ‘Goth’ still seems to unnerve some people. This says more about them than it does about Goth music and Goth culture itself. It continues to throw up great bands and songs (and some dreadful ones too!), as well as debates as to who was goth or not. (siouxsie claiming she wasn’t is a bit laughable).

Anyway, as an eighties-style goth (on occasion!) here are three cover versions done by goth bands, and three cover versions of some goth staples. Enjoy. As always, these will be up for a week, so enjoy them, and if you like them, go to Amazon or iTunes and buy them.

Sisters Of Mercy-‘Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones cover).mp3’

Bauhaus-‘Ziggy Stardust(David Bowie cover).’ mp3

Echo and the Bunnymen-‘People Are Strange(Doors cover).’ mp3

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

Lambchop-‘This Corrosion (Sisters Of Mercy cover).’ mp3

The Distants-‘She Sells Sanctuary(Cult cover).’ mp3

Bank Holiday

Hope everyone has a good bank holiday weekend. The weather has even been nice in Scotland, but it’s rumoured that it’s set to change.

With that cheery thought, here’s a song for that most British of pastimes:

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry -‘Talk About The weather.’ mp3

Aaargh…very tired.

My brain is in meltdown. It has been a very long day, and I feel like there is way too much to do.

As ever, it is the music that is keeping me sane. This isn’t going to be a long post tonight. Just to say that these three tracks are from Richard Thompson’s 1991 album,
Rumor and Sigh. It’s great and you need to own it. These three tracks ought to convince you.

Richard Thompson-‘I Feel So Good.’ mp3

Richard Thomspon-‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning.’ mp3

Richard Thompson-‘Don’t Sit On My Jimmy Shands.’ mp3

Buy Rumor and Sigh

Great compilations #1: Rough Trade Post-Punk Vol 01

The legendary Rough Trade Shops in London have also put out some amazing compilations over the last few years. In 2003, this was one of them. The album was a mixture of acts from the ‘first’ wave of ‘Post-Punk’, such as Public Image Limited, Essential Logic and Magazine, as well as acts from more recent times, whose sound owes a lot to post-punk, such as Chicks On Speed, The Futureheads and The Rapture.

It’s disc #1 I’d like to present some choice cuts from today.

First up, Ari Up from The Slits features on the New Age Steppers version of the Junior Byles reggae classic.

New Age Steppers-‘Fade Away (Junior Byles cover).’ mp3

Kleenex hailed from Switzerland, but legal action from the tissue makers forced them to change their name to Liliput. This trak shows just how cool whistling is.

Liliput -‘Die Matrosen.’ mp3

Chicks On Speed later covered this number from Leeds’ Delta 5. a song that makes you sit up straight, apologise for mumbling and stutter apologetically (wonder of I can find a way to teach some of my students to do this?)

Delta 5-‘Mind Your Own Business.’ mp3

I don’t know how many other songs have been written about the police harassment of prostitutes (there is a comments box if you know about them, and no, ‘She Works Hard For The Money’ does not count). The Au Pairs are one of mnay of the first wave of post-punk bands I wish I had seen (mind you, given that I was only four when this came out. Ah well…)

The Au Pairs -‘You.’ mp3

if you like what you hear, please buy the album and investigate what you hear.

Gig review: The Waterboys/Haight-Ashbury

Gig review: The Waterboys/Haight-Ashbury

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, May 20 2007

I’ve waited bloody years to see The Waterboys. Since I first heard ‘The Whole Of the Moon’ and bought Fisherman’s Blues. Blown away by what I heard. Were they folk? Were they rock? Scottish? English? Irish…or had they relocated to the USA? Were they no more?

Well, The Waterboys are alive and kicking, as the soon to be Mrs. 17 seconds and I found out last night. Whilst the Festival Theatre is a seated venue – which means that if someone dances, they’re getting in your way- Mike Scott and his merry men brought the place alive, so far away from the staid impression you might have walking in.

Support Act Haight-Astbury are a Glasgow three-piece who were personally handpicked by Mike Scott to support them on this tour. The two female singers’ harmonies owe much to the west coast of the US, rather like their name suggests, but there are a lot of Scottish influences here as well. Songs like ‘Angels and Devils,’ ‘Free Love’ and ‘My Friend The Blues’ suggest a 21st century Bangles playing with Sons and Daughters. Their myspace page has four tracks. Isuggest you hear them and go and see them when you get the chance.

Is Mike Scott the Waterboys? It’s hard to imagine one without the other, though he made a few albums under his own name in the 1990s. but joining him tonight is longtime foil, Steve Wickham, on violin and mandolin, the man who played electric violin on U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ but also who really brought alive the seminal Waterboys’ album Fisherman’s Blues in 1988. When they tear into ‘Glastonbury song’ – as their opening number, dammit (I thought a song like that would be saved for the encore), it’s abundantly clear why. Because they can. Because there are so many great songs in the Waterboys’ cannon.

Scott comes across as being very comfortable on stage, a man who knows his craft, is at ease, but also doesn’t take himself too seriously. The anecdotes, about the bands he’s seen (I am fairly distrustful of progressive rock, as I feel that punk came to save us from it), and if Emerson Lake and Palmer were the first band he saw live, well, maybe he learned part of his craft from them. Though it seems pretty God-given. There aren’t many musicians who can talk about their spirituality without seeming phoney, but during ‘Iona’ he talks about the experience that led to him writing the song and it’s so clear he talks from the heart.

Sometimes having heard songs on record (or whatever pre-recorded format you fancy in this day and age), the question is: ‘How will that be recreated live? Will it work? (Or should you use bloody backing tapes for certain parts? Bad idea, in my opinion).’ Two songs from the gig pinpoint what can happen. ‘The Whole Of the Moon’, the biggest hit the Waterboys ever had, is made by Roddy Lorimer’s trumpet (and if you haven’t heard tht trumpet on ‘Don’t Bang The Drum’ you are depriving yourself). There is no Roddy tonight, and the trumpet is synthesised. It works, but somehow, whilst the groove Mike Scott requests is there, it isn’t quuite as moving. On the other hand, ‘The Stolen Child,’ the setting of the W.B. Yeat’s poem that appears on the Fisherman’s Blues album, has Scott reading. This has my hairs standing on end. It is absolutely lovely (I knew a relationship at university wouldn’t work out when the girl said she couldn’t see what appealed to me about the track). It’s also a hair standing up moment during ‘Red Army Blues’ (currently posted by Mr. Toad at Song, By Toad.

For me, it’s the joy of hearing ‘Medicine Bow’ and ‘The Pan Within’ that I shall most treasure from this gig. Sheer, utter, unadulterated joy. Words cannot describe it, suffice to say it was wonderful and moving. Worth waiting sixteen years for, but I hope to see them again soon.

The Penny Blacks

The Penny Black was the world’s first stamp (used to collect stamps as a kid, though never had one), and is also the name of a pub in my adopted hometown of Edinburgh (have never been, hear good things about it). The Penny Blacks are an unsigned band from Edinburgh.

I have to be honest, I’ve never heard them live, but the four songs on their MySpace page just have to be heard. These four tracks deserve to be heard by as many people as possible. They often play in Scotland (I’ll just have to try harder), and if they aren’t signed soon, then it’s a bloody travesty. I hear echoes of so many classic bands in their sound, and thier sound is fresh and young, whilst acknowledging their influences. If you got a thrill the first time you heard the Arctic Monkeys, the Libertines and their ilk, then the Penny Blacks should be added to that list a.s.a.p.

The Penny Blacks -‘Bang To Rites.’ mp3

The Penny Blacks -‘Sunday Afternoon.’ mp3

The Penny Blacks-‘Something Between them.’ mp3

The Penny Blacks-Bonnington.’ mp3

Check these songs out -then go over to their MySpace page and make friends with them.

Some Covers For Sunday

It’s Sunday – and time for some more covers!

First up, these three came with a free CD with Q magazine last year. The Futureheads track was recorded exclusively for Q; the Camera Obscura and Placebo tracks had been available commercially. Try ebay or iTunes.

Camera Obscura -‘Modern Girl (Sheena Easton cover).’ mp3

Placebo -‘Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

The Futureheads -‘Let’s Dance (David Bowie cover).’ mp3

These next three tracks all appear on a compilation called ‘If I Were A Carpenter‘ whihc was a tribute album, not to Tim Hardin but to The Carpenters. These are my favourite three tracks off the album.

Sonic Youth -‘Superstar (Carpenters cover).’ mp3

Shonen Knife -‘Top Of The World (Carpenters cover).’ mp3

Bettie Serveert -‘For All We Know (Carpenters cover).’ mp3

This track appears on the Raincoats’ debut album, the sleevenotes for which were written by none other than Kurt Cobain. It also later turned up on the rather fine Rough Trade Shops Post-Punk 1 compilation. On the latter album, the sleevenotes (this time not by Kurt Cobain) note that one of the 100% endearing things about this version of The Kinks’ classic is that it sounds like it is about to fall apart any second.

The Raincoats -‘Lola (Kinks cover).’ mp3

Finally, this cover of Gerry Rafferty’s most famous song (though Stuck In The Middle With You probably is very close, thanks to its inclusion in Reservoir Dogs) was originally recorded for a compilation for EMI, and then turned up as one of the extra tracks on the ‘My Hero’ CD single.

Foo Fighters -‘Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty cover).’ mp3

Links removed May 27, 2007