A Great, Lost Single #9

My Life Story -’12 Reasons Why’ (Parlophone, 1996)

When I went off to University in 1996, I was certainly planning on seeing as many bands as possible. As it happened, Canterbury didn’t have many bands playing, and after Gene played in October 1997, I resigned myself to having to go to London if I wanted to see much stuff that I was into.

However, one night out early on was My Life Story. Jake Shillingford and his ever-changing lineup had been around for a while at this point, but they had recently had a small top 40 hit with ’12 reasons Why.’ I’d picked up the 7″ before going to university and was looking forward to seeing them at one of the dining rooms on campus. Having watched a less than inspiring set from Britpop jokes Northern Uproar three days previously (the mind still shudders at the memory), this night did not disappoint. The two support acts were Gretschen Hofner and Ether, both of whom I still think deserve to have done much better than they did.

My Life Story, with their string quartet looked amazing and glamourous. What blew me away was a simple song called ‘Silently Screaming’ that I had never heard, but turned out to have been on the CD single of the recent ’12 Reasons Why.’ (In fact, this may have been why I fell for the record companies CD singles multi-formatting so hard for a while; I didn’t want to miss any nuggets that might be tucked away). I picked up the CD single later on that week in town, and bought many follow-up singles. ’12 Reasons Why’ was the encore and we all chanted the numbers loudly as Mr. Shillingford worked through the bizarre reasons his lady endeared herself to him. Jake even signed my ticket! To a nineteen year old (very possibly wearing slashed jeans and with massive sideburns in honour of supergrass’ Gaz Coombes) this was the stuff excitement was made of.

They had several more hits that made the top 40, before seeming to fall away and called it a day in 2001. You can find several links to them here.

My Life Story -’12 Reasons Why.’ mp3

My Life Story -‘Silently Screaming.’ mp3

(Both tracks from ’12 Reasons Why’ Cd single).


My Life Story -‘Strumpet.’ mp3

My Life Story -‘Welcome to my Archipelago.’ mp3

(Both tracks from ‘Strumpet’ CD single I)

My Life Story -‘Duchess (Stranglers cover).’ mp3
My Life Story -‘Mr. Boyd (Dressing Gown version).’ mp3

(Both tracks from ‘Duchess’ CD single I. The Duchess cover was on a compilation of then current EMI bands covering songs from the labels’ past (think it may have been a centenary. That compilation also included the Foo Fighters’ take on Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ posted a few months ago here).

Single Review: Emma Pollock

Emma Pollock: ‘Acid Test’ (4AD)

‘This house does not feel like a home.’ So begins Emma Pollock’s second single of the forthcoming Watch The Fireworks. more guitar-driven than previous single ‘Adrenaline’, the edgy guitar and bass play off against each other and the heartbreaking lyrics tell of her feelings as she tries to take control her her emotions. An excellent single, that deserved your attention. B-side ‘A Temporary Fix’ is another excellent track.

‘Acid Test’ is available now from iTunes and will be released on September 3rd on Physical formats.

Emma Pollock’s official site is here and her MySpace, where you can stream the single is here

Album Review: Amateurs

The Amateurs -‘Hongu Kongu’ (Letterbox)

So, an independent band from Scotland. Must sound like either twee indie-pop or jangly quiet-loud, surely?


This impressive debut, from Edinburgh’s Amateurs take’s the gentle alt.country sounds of Lambchop circa Nixon, adds a hint of fifties rock and roll and tops it off with the magic pairing of the voices of Seth Chanas and Ina Hanisch. You will not find twee-pop here, but a warmsounding record that grows on you with every listen. There is an eccentrivity at work here, that adds a uniqueness to their sound. To search for bands to compare them to is ultimately to clutch at straws. Their are many highlights here, including ‘Dry eyes’ and ‘The Water Of Leith Song’ that deserves to become part of this city’s heritage. Occasionally the results are a little exasperating – ‘Mustard’ seems like an uneasy pairing of Tom Waits and The Reindeer Section, but overall this is an intriguing debut. Letterbox Records have found another winner.


Hongu Kongu will be released on september 10th on Letterbox Records.

It can be pre-ordered from here

This is the recent download only single:

Amateurs -‘Things You Only Know If you Don’t Drive.’ mp3

Amateurs -‘Cool By Me.’ mp3

More Amateurs mp3s can be found here

Their MySpace is here and their website is here

Album Review: Penny Century

Penny Century: ‘Between A Hundred Lies’ (Letterbox)

Are they trying to break our hearts? If this record were a season it would be autumn (Fall for North American readers), the most beautiful time of year, and yet serving as a reminder that every changes, and nothing stays the same. ‘When The City Is Waking Up’ moves you at a hundred paces- and that’s before the vocals kick in. Hailing from Ostertsund, Sweden, Penny Century deserve to appear on year end best of lists. This ten track album doesn’t put a foot wrong. ‘Nothing Burns Like Bridges’ is the first, download only single, but tracks like ‘Too Bitter To Be Charming’ the aforementioned ‘When the City…’ and closer ‘Streetlights, Snowflakes and You’ which takes you completely by surprise a minute or so in, should be heard by anyone who loves Camera Obscura, Belle and Sebastian, and Aberfeldy. Bloggers of the world, unite and lets tell the world about Penny Century.


Bettween One Hundred Lies will be released on Letterbox Records on August 20th.

Penny Century -‘Nothing Burns Like Bridges.’ mp3

The album can be ordered from here

Click here to see the video.

Penny Century are on MySpace here and they also have their own blog here


So, just in case you’ve been asleep, today marks the thirtieth anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.

Whilst I’m conscious of Chuck D’s criticisms in ‘Fight the Power’ (that Elvis was a hero to most but he didn’t ‘mean shit’ to him, and accuses Elvis of being a racist), trying to measure the impact of Elvis on popular culture is the sort of thing that documentaries and PhD theses are made of, rather than a few hundred words on a blogger’s site.

So, instead, I humbly offer you my favourite Elvis song, a cover of an Elvis song and a song about his birthplace by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Bono’s poem about Elvis that appeared on U2’s Passengers project Original Soundtracks 1. (I did contemplate posting John Cale’s cover of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ but I’m kinda inclined to agree with the person who described as being like a Gormet Chef trying to cook a cheeseburger.)

So here goes:

Elvis Presley -‘Suspicious Minds.’ mp3

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -‘In the Ghetto (Elvis presley cover).’ mp3

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds -‘Tupelo.’ mp3 (the full version)

Passengers -‘Elvis Ate America.’ mp3

You should know the drill by now: Songs up for a week, if you like what you hear, go and buy it, ideally from an independent record shop.

Listen Up To The Gossip

Rather less stress around 17 Seconds towers today, which is nice. My review of Emma Pollock has been added to legendary scottish music magazine/website Is This Music?, and as always am flattered by a few comments that have come way about this blog.

Today also saw me visit a record shop. Now just in case Mrs. 17 Seconds is reading this and flips, I did not pick up all of these today, but I picked up some great remixes of tracks by the Gossip, and the recent Hot Chip 12″ single. And just in case any of you fine people out there hadn’t heard these, I just had to make you aware of them!

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

The Gossip -‘Standing In The way Of Control (Soulwax nite version).’ mp3

The Gossip -‘Standing In the Way Of Control (Le Tigre remix).’ mp3

The Gossip -‘Listen Up.’ mp3

The Gossip -‘Listen Up (MSTRKRFT mix).’ mp3

And this track, which vies with ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ by Justice as the track of the summer.

Hot Chip -‘My Piano.’ mp3

And just writing that has made me itchy for Justice, whose album I am listening to as I type this, so go on! (Said in the tone of an exasperated but friendly uncle).

Justice -‘D.A.N.C.E.’ mp3

Justice -‘D.A.N.C.E.(MSTRKRFT remix).’ mp3

Justice -‘D.A.N.C.E. (extended mix).’ mp3

Justice -‘Waters Of Nazareth.’ mp3

As always, links will be up for one week. If you like what you hear, please support the artists involved, preferably through your local independent record store.

Phew, rock ‘n’ roll…

All stress around 17 Seconds towers…

We have Visitors coming in a few days. I’m looking forward to it, but the place needs tidying.

We have therefore been trying to tidy the flat up.

All this has succeeded in doing is making us very tired and stressed.

This sums it up, I think…

Abba -‘The Visitors.’ mp3

Edinburgh Festival is Here

It’s August, which means that it’s the Edinburgh Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, plus book festival, film festival etc.. Actually, as someone else pointed out, describing the Edinburgh ‘Fringe’ as a ‘fringe’ festival is rather like describing U2 as an indie band or Steven Spielberg as a cult director; it’s been way bigger than the ‘International Festival’ for many years.

As well as the T on the Fringe lineup, for which I have got tickets for many bands, I’ve also been taking in comedy and other shows. Today I went with Mrs. 17 Seconds and our friends Dave and Mark to see the Hull University Big Band, who were fantastic, and not the sort of thing I tend to put on at home, but they were brilliant. On Thursday, another 17 Seconds friend, Rory, had organised tickets for the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. If your vision is something of a whole load of very elderly people playing George Formby songs then you are well, well out of date. They played a whole range of stuff including ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus, Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars’ and Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer.’ Oh, and ‘Anarchy in the UK’ by the Sex Pistols. A huge amount of fun, and they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Thanks to Mark, I have a few links below for YouTube which have performances of songs done by the Ukelele Orchestra.

The Good, the bad and The Ugly

Wuthering Heights

Life On Mars?

Oh, and seeing as we’ve had those, how about some originals by Kate Bush and David Bowie themselves?

Kate Bush -‘Wuthering Heights.’ mp3

David Bowie -‘Life On Mars?’ mp3

These links will be up for one week only. Go and see the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain if you get the chance (and maybe you’ll catch them playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’!), and indeed the Hull University Big Band.

Gig review: Emma Pollock/Broken Records

Gig Review: Emma Pollock/Broken Records

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, August 10, 2007

This was Emma Pollock’s second visit to Cabaret Voltaire in three months (read my review of the previous gig here. This time the venue seemed a little fuller and she seemed just as relaxed and assured as before.

Last time, she had been supported by the wonderful Katie Sutherland and Popup; this time she was supported by Edinburgh seven-piece Broken Records (OK, the cellist is from Germany). Broken Records could be described as being folk-rock, in the sense of folk meaning ‘music of the people’ and involving instruments like the violin and mandolin, rather than any ‘hey nonny nonny no!’ with people sticking fingers in their ears. They recently appeared at T in the Park on the T-Break stage, and look set to build upon this. Despite their singer’s nerves (he really doesn’t have to worry), they sound accomplished, which gigging is clearly adding to. They are unsigned and as yet, unmanaged, but if there is any justice in the world, this shouldn’t remain the case for long. They remind me of the Waterboys circa ‘A Pagan Place’ and my mate Mark reckons the singer reminds him of Lloyd Cole. The potential to be another Jeff Buckley is clearly there too. ‘If the news makes you sad, don’t watch it’ should be a single.

The last time I saw Emma Pollock, she seemed to have thrown off any ghosts that might have lingered from her previous band. She is even more confident than before, but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She has a great sense of banter with the audience, able to laugh and enjoy herself. As I mentioed last time, she deserves to be seen as being up there with not just the other famous front women of new label 4AD (Kim, Tanya and Kirstin), but also British mould breakers like PJ Harvey. ‘Adrenaline’ produces just that, the keyboard riff that should be as familiar as anything else you’ll hear on the radio by the end of the year. B-side ‘A Glorious Day’ delights live as well. ‘Limbs’ the free mp3 that has been doing the rounds for several months remains just her and her guitar, with the keyboard player, and gets lovelier with each listen. New single ‘Acid Test’ is more guitar driven than ‘Adrenaline,’ and also deserves to be high up there on end of year lists.

She encores with ‘The Optimist’ and once again, I go out into the night, my heart warmed, friends beside me converted, and waiting for her debut, Watch the Fireworks. The queen of the Scottish indie scene, who acts like one of the people.

Emma’s myspace site is here and here website is here.

Broken Records’ Myspace site is here, including 4 mp3s that can be downloaded. Go along and say hi to them all.

Emma Pollock -‘Limbs.’ mp3

More Arab Strap

Thank you to my reader Chris, whoever you may be, I have corrected the link below-so the Van Halen cover is, now, actually the cover of ‘Why Can’t This Be Love?.

As requested, here is Arab Strap’s cover of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long.’

Arab Strap -‘You Shook me All Night Long (AC/DC cover).’ mp3

Enjoy. No doubt more scottish indie to follow very soon…