Life Out Of Balance

(Philip Glass by Annie Leibovitz)

Tired, getting annoyed with people who cannot be quiet…ah, must be back at school again.

Actually, to be fair, I have been in a reasonably good mood most of the time, though there are some people I could name…Anyway.

I’d always intended to post some good classical stuff here, and in line with what this post has started off with, Philip Glass seems as good as any.

When I first heard Philip Glass, aged fourteen or fifteen, I was not impressed. At all. I felt our extremely pretentious music teacher was frankly mad for rating this over The Cure, or whatever. Einstein On A Beach, Glass’ opera didn’t make a favourable impression. A year or so later, and my interest was aroused twice in a fairly short time by things I was reading in the rock press. Firstly, Siouxsie Sioux, one of my all-time heroes, told the (now-defunct) music weekly Melody Maker about how much she liked Einstein On A Beach. Hmm, maybe something might be worth investigating about this man? And then, Glass recorded a symphonic version of my favourite ever David Bowie album, Low. Perhaps Bowie and Siouxsie were more clued-up than I was (this state of affairs probably still persists). When I heard Glass’ version of Low I actually enjoyed it.

A year or so later at university, one of my hosuemates and I sat down to watch the seminal film Koyaanisqatsi, for which Glass composed the soundtrack. In the Indian Hopi langauge this is a word translated variously as 1. Crazy Life 2. Life In Turmoil 3. Life Disintegrating 4. Life Out Of Balance 5. A State Of Life That Calls For Another Way Of Living.

(NB It says all this on the CD sleeve. Don’t get the idea that I speak Hopi or anything).

Anyway, Here I humbly present the bookending tracks of the six tracks on the OST:

Philip Glass -‘Koyaanisqatsi.’ mp3

Philip Glass -‘Prophecies.’ mp3

Go buy the album. Check out the film. Narrow-minded folk..ya must’ve strayed here by mistake or something.

Ten more!

Today when I got up, I received a very nice email from Matthew at Song, By Toad saying that he had got me listed at the Hype Machine. Thank you, sir, maybe people will actually read this blog now!

Anyway, just fancied posting some stuff I like, with no particular theme. Though it goes without saying: if you like what you hear, go and buy it!

Blur-‘Popscene.’ mp3 (Time this was available properly, guys)

Dizzee Rascal -‘Wannabe (feat Lily allen).’ mp3 (For everyone who is fed up with wannabe gangsters who just do not get it.)

Calexico -‘The Ballad Of Cable Hogue.’ mp3 (Still one of my favourite tracks of the decade)

Adam and the Ants-‘Cartrouble.’ mp3 (Why do so many Ants compilations leave off the pre Kings of the Wild Frontier stuff?)

Malcolm Middleton -‘A Brighter Beat.’ mp3
(A very serious contender for both album and single of the year).

Ghostface Killah featuring Amy Winehouse -‘You Know I’m No Good.’ mp3 (Well, actually i still love your music, Amy, but for God’s sake, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER).

Roisin Murphy -‘Overpowered.’ mp3 (Ace solo track from former Moloko frontwoman)

The Dream Academy -‘Life In A Northern Town.’ mp3 (Still gorgeous, all these years later…)

Bob Marley -‘Redemption Song.’ mp3 (Some things are better left unsaid)

Roll Deep -‘Celebrate(Instrumental).’ mp3 (GRIME rules over Gangsta, anyday)

(Mini) Album Review: Commander Keen

Commander Keen: My Tascam Dreams (Hackpen Records)

This five track mini-album is, without a doubt, one of the finest things I have heard all year. Imagine Sigur Ros, John Martyn and Squarepusher recording an album together. Imagine that the result was as beautiful as Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. These five tracks are nothing less than an utterly bewitching mixture of folk and electronica (folk-tronica? Oh, whatever) that deserved to be heard by everyone. To listen to this is to be reminded why Durutti Column and Boards Of Canada deserve to be more popular., and to know that this is something that is special and deserved to be treasured. Including recent download only single ‘Panic Attack’ Commander Keen will hopefully be massive.


My Tascam Dreams will be released by Hackpen on September 24.

To hear tracks go to Commander Keen’s myspace page and their website is here

Gig review: Razorlight/Editors/Dykeenies

Gig Review: Razorlight/Editors/Dykeenies

Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh August 26, 2007

If I’d been told The dykeenies were going to be the support (and it’s not even on the posters at the gig) I would have got here a lot earlier. Live they sound a lot more ‘epic’ than on vinyl, and the singles ‘Clean Up your Eyes’ ‘Waiting For Go’ and’New Ideas’ win over a great many people. Their album is out soon, which will hopefully get them more of the coverage and attention they so clearly deserve.

There’s a massive cheer as the Editors take to the stage and tear it up. Whilst they don’t talk a great deal to the crowd, they interract and the crwod fall for them hook line and sinker. When they go into ‘Bullets’ the thought occurs that, like Scotland’s own Franz Ferdinand, they are a guitar band who write fantastic dance tunes. ‘ The newer tracks see Tom playing Piano a lot more (thought for the day: Chris Martin started doing this a lot more around the time of Coldplay’s second album), and even the mellower tracks do not dampen the crowds enthusiasm. The version of ‘Munich’ they play is nothing less than incendiary. ‘Blood’ and ‘All Sparks’ sound like thy will be dragging even the most reluctant dancer’s onto the floors of indie discos for years to come, and probably further afield. Before they play ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ Tom comments that ‘It’s Bank Holiday tomorrow…I love bank holidays.’ Hmm, someone ought to tell him that they are different in Scotland, but we won’t hold a set as wonderful as this against them.

A few personal reflections: I’ve watched Razorlight go from being the support band at Suede’s final Scottish gig in December 2003, to having no.1 albums and singles and headlining gigs like this. To my frustration, I’ve seen singer Johnny Borrell act less like the frontman with the most self-belief since Richard Ashcroft’s ‘Mad Richard’ days, and more like an arrogant idiot. The groans that I have endured when I tell friends and colleagues who I was going to see have backed this up.

So it’s with a sense of trepidation that Razorlight come on, and I wonder just Razorlight are going to do. Well, sorry naysayers, but they play a fantastic show. Playing to the crowd but without acting like arrogant pigs. From the minute they begin with ‘In the Morning’ I am reminded why I fell for Razorlight. It’s the tunes. And Bjorn’s guitar. But above all, the songs. they play ‘Golden Touch’ and the 10:15 Saturday Night-influenced guitar still chimes beautifully. Borrell resembles an 80’s Jagger in his trousers and vest. ‘Can’t Stop This feeling I got’ ‘Dalston’ ‘Fall To Pieces’. despite all the flack flung at them, and some of it may have been bought upon themselves, the music still speaks for itself. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Lies’ reminds us of how the promise of this early single has now been realised, though the red lights background on ‘Vice’ is a little obvious.

Oh, what the hell. Yes, I still like Razorlight’s music a lot. And live last night I didn’t change my opinion. So sue me!

Razorlight -‘Golden Touch.’ mp3

Razorlight -‘(Don’t Go Back To) Dalston.’ mp3

Editors -‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors.’ mp3

Editors -‘Munich.’ mp3

Album Review: Liars

Liars -‘Liars’ (Mute, 2007)

So the fourth Liars is upon us. Rumours have been flying around that this one will be more guitar-orientated, which some people have been interpreting as meaning that it might be more, uh, easier to listen to, and, you know, songs and stuff.

Well, anyone expecting them to be sounding like the Strokes will be disappointed, but this is perhaps the most accessible of the four albums that the New York trio have produced. As always there are a lot of hints of the No-wave New York scene of the late seventies, but this time there are also hints of those ultimate seminal guitar works Psychocandy and The Velvet Underground And Nico. There are songs, the rumours were right, and whilst the abrasiveness appears to have been turned down, the experimentalism that has made them so rewarding so far remains. Lead off single ‘Plaster Casts Of Everything’ opens and sets the tone along to closer ‘Protection.’ Some will invariably yell sell-out, but this is a good place to start investigating the Liars.


From Liars

Liars -‘Houseclouds.’ mp3

Liars -‘Pure Unevil.’ mp3

Liars -‘Clear Island.’ mp3

From Drum’s Not Dead

Liars -‘Let’s Not Wrestle Mt. Heart Attack.’ mp3

From They Were Wrong, So We Drowned.

Liars -‘There’s Always Room On the Broom.’ mp3

From They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top

Liars -‘Loose Nuts On The Veladrome.’ mp3

These links will be up for one week only. If you like what you hear, please support the artists through your local independent record shop.

Gig review: Kaiser Chiefs/The View/Pigeon Detectives

Gig review: Kaiser Chiefs/The View/Pigeon Detectives

Edinburgh Meadowbank Stadium, August 24 2007

I have to be honest that before I went to this gig, I had barely heard the Pigeon Detectives and was expecting them to be commercial indie-by-numbers. Well, they do sound fairly commercial and their sound owes a lot to the Libertines/Arctic Monkeys…but they do it with style. they harden this cynical heart very quickly and win the corwd over too. Songs like ‘Wait for Me’ and ‘I’m Not Sorry’ are used to work the crowd and I have to confess I was won over very quickly.

‘The View! the View! The View are on fire!” runs the chant even before the Pigeon Detectives come on. Er, not on tonight’s evidence they weren’t. Struggling to do more than produce a bit of smoke. Whilst it has become fashionable in bloggerland to slag The View (general attitude of people being successful that upsets the more snobby types), I really liked the album and reviewed it very positively here at the beginning of the year. ‘Wasted Little DJs’ and ‘Skag Trendy’ pick up the pace a bit, and closer ‘Superstar Tradesman’ is excellent, but so much of their set feels lazy and shambolic.

The Kaiser Chiefs rule. Three years ago in Edinburgh I saw them supporting the Ordinary Boys (long before Celebrity Big Brother etc..) and thought they really had something. A year later they opened the US part of Live8. They come on, tease the synth riff of ‘Everyday I Love You Less and Less’ and the crowd goes nuts. There are no pyrotechnics, just solid songs and performance. Two albums in, the Kaisers have not only mastered the art of writing pop singalongs, but they can work a stadium gig just as well as their mates the Foo Fighters. To watch the hands wave in the air as they effortlessly tear through songs from their two albums -‘Angry Mob’ ‘Born to be a dancer’ ‘Modern Way’ and of course ‘I predict a riot’ and ‘Ruby.’ As the sky darkens, the twentyfirst century stadium gig equivalent of lighters in the air that is mobiles in the air add to the ambience of what is an amazing gig. As we progress out, the joy is infectious. Long may they make our hearts fly.

The View -‘Posh Boys.’ mp3 (Non-album track. Come on guys, let’s remind the people what you CAN do).

Kaiser Chiefs -‘Oh My God.’ mp3

Kaiser Chiefs -‘Born to Be A dancer.’ mp3

(Both from 2004 Drowned In Sound CD single of Oh My God).

Get Into (My Teenage) Stride

Yesterday, I had one of those accidentally brilliant moments. I had a free period and was sitting in the staffroom at school, and listening to random stuff on my iPod whilst sorting out various bits of admin.

I don’t remember which blog I downloaded four tracks by My Teenage Stride from, but they have given me a delightful thrill. This Brooklyn band have released three albums so far, and included lots of mp3s on their website and I note that e-music in the UK have them all. Hooray! A band for people who love the Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, and just love great guitar bands, but are maybe looking for something they haven;t heard before.

Their official site is here and their MySpace is here

From Ears Like Golden Bats

My Teenage Stride -‘Ears Like Golden Bats.’ mp3

My Teenage Stride -‘We’ll Meet At Emily’s.’ mp3

My Teenage Stride -‘To Live and Die In the Airport Lounge.’ mp3

My Teenage Stride -‘The Genie Of New Jersey.’ mp3

From Major Major

My Teenage Stride -‘They Are Alone In Their Principles.’ mp3

My Teenage Stride -‘Happy Mondays.’ mp3

From A Sad Cloud

My Teenage Stride -‘Let’s Go To the Firewalk.’ mp3

My Teenage Stride -‘American car.’ mp3

Remember: if you like what you hear, support the artists involved. Links will be up for a week.

Gig review: Interpol

Gig Review: Interpol Edinburgh Corn Exchange, August 22 2007

Sigh. Here goes…

24 hours later, it wasn’t a bad gig. It was the fifth time I have seen Interpol, and I’m really impressed that the band I saw as the second from the bottom on an NME package tour in early 2003 have broken through commercially to the extent that this venue was sold out and the albums are going top 10.

It wasn’t a shambolic gig. Hell, they played for well over an hour and they sounded really together, almost too note perfect. They played songs from all of their three LPs, and there were elements that caught me by surprise: How funky they can sound at times. How some of their songs can be sung by huge crowds – time it was, over a thousand people singing along to this would have been as odd as people singing along to Elvis Costello’s ‘I Want You.’

It wasn’t a waste of time, going to this gig…Yet somehow, the venue’s sound system failed to do justice to the band. The band barely spoke to the audience at all -there is being cool, and there’s being aloof.

So will I go and see Interpol again? Who knows. Their third album is no progression from their second, yet they have the potential to move on and produce something really great. Songs like ‘Evil’ and ‘Narc’ and ‘NYC’ particularly still impress on record. But somehow, that’s not quite enough.

Interpol -‘NYC.’ mp3

Interpol -‘The Heinrich Maneuver.’ mp3

(And yes, that is how they spell Manouevre)

Gig review: Foo Fighters/Nine Inch Nails

Gig review: Foo Fighters/Nine Inch Nails

Edinburgh Meadowbank Stadium, August 21 2007

OK, so Stadium gigs can be deeply impersonal, full of people trying to get drunk who have no idea about the music other than they want to hear the hits…but you might actually have a chance of going rather than if they are playing a ‘club’ gig.

It’s strange to think Nine Inch Nails emerged at the end of the eighties and are still with us. Once I’ve found somewhere to stand in the crowd and not get rubbish sound, the strength and diversity of their ideas starts to come through. It probably helps that they are playing in the early evening on an overcast day in Scotland, as watching them in blazing sunshine would be wrong. Whilst it was be great to hear some stuff off Pretty Hate Machine, Trent Reznor and his merrier-than-you-might-think men, pack a powerful punch, without descending to dreary self-loathing. A final blast of ‘Wish’ and they are gone.

Some bands can do stadiums with style, not so much in terms of an all-singing, all-dancing show but how they can work it. The Foo Fighters know how to work a crowd, and when Dave walks on by himself and launches into a gorgeous solo version of ‘Everlong’ joined by the band for the final chorus, it’s a very good start to the night. Especially when the next songs are ‘Monkey Wrench,’ ‘Times Like These,’ ‘My Hero’ and ‘Break Out’.

One of the most impressive songs of the night is the workout that ‘Stacked Actors’ gets. Solos, meeting the audience-and yet neverself-indulgent. Perhaps this is the key to the Foo fighters deservedly enduring success for more than a decade -they are crowd-pleasing band with an expanding back catalogue who still sound like they have not forgotten their roots. ‘DOA’ ‘Generator’ ‘This Is a Call’ -how many aces can one band hold up their collective sleeve? The live version of ‘Best Of You’ sounds achingly sad, far more moving than on record.

After a final encore of ‘All My Life’ we take our leave, and go out into the night. (…and I go into school and rub it into all the kids who couldn’t get tickets… : )


Some related tracks:

Nine Inch Nails -‘Head Like A Hole.’ mp3 (They didn’t play this, I wish they had)

Foo Fighters -‘Monkey Wrench.’ mp3

Foo Fighters -‘Everlong.’ mp3


Just a quick one…2

Back to school tomorrow (though trying not to think about it!) so here’s a quick update on two bands:

Though their third album may be a while away, Franz Ferdinand have contributed a track to Hallam Foe, and just in case anyone didn’t pick up on this a few months ago, this was their cover of the LCD Soundsystem single which was on formats of that single when it came out in the UK a few months ago.

Franz Ferdinand -‘Hallam Foe Dandelion Blow.’ mp3

Franz Ferdinand -‘All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem cover). mp3

Meanwhile, Working For a Nuclear Free City are due to issue their debut in the US in drastically altered form. Check their Myspace site for details: here

Working For a Nuclear Free City -‘Over.’ mp3

Working For A Nuclear Free City -‘All American Taste.’ mp3

If you like what you hear, support the bands and your local independent record shop!