I’m one tired individual right now…

OK, very tired, still off work and about to head to bed.


Figured I’d post a few tracks, the sole theme here being -‘songs everyone should hear.’ The only link with the photo is that the Leaning Tower Of Pisa is somewhere i finally went last month, and I think everyone should go there.

So, first up…a small hit but one of the Pet Shop Boys’ best ever songs:

Pet Shop Boys -‘Being Boring.’ mp3

From their late eighties phase rather than their late seventies phase, but still sublime…

Wire -‘Kidney Bingos.’ mp3

From the best selling Jazz album ever, if I can’t persuade some of you that Jazz can be great, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree…

Miles Davis -‘So What.’ mp3

It starts off with feedback, it has a mental sax bit, it came outta the late seventies…Pere Ubu and a love song (of sorts)

Pere Ubu -‘Non-alighnment Pact.’ mp3

If this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, nothing will. (Though I wonder if They Might Be Giants are responsible for the very annoying band that are Barenaked Ladies.)

They Might Be Giants -‘Birdhouse In Your Soul.’ mp3

As ever, if you like the songs, support the artists involved.

And BTW, this is my 299th post. Will try and do something special for my 300th.

Cut Off Your Hands

Hi there,

I haven’t been rendered incapable of writing due to alcoholic excess on my birthday (I’ve been dry for nine months now) but being off and a university friend’s wedding. Now back at home, and in front of the computer screen…

These days, the Black Kids seem already to have wound up people, within a few weeks of having played their first gig outside of their regular area. One of the bands getting upset about the Hype is New Zealand’s Cut Off Your Hands, who seem to be generating a fair amount of excitement themselves.

Well, I can’t say if deciding whose side you’re on is going to be 2008’s answer to the Blur v. Oasis battle of 1995, but I think they’re worth all the coverage too.

See what you think, if you haven’t heard them already. Cut Off Your Hands’ mySpace page is here

Cut Off Your hands -‘You And I.’ mp3

Cut Off Your Hands -‘Still Fond.’ mp3

BTW, anyone think the shot at the top is reminiscent of the Stone Roses circa ’89?

Re-post: Camera Obscura

I’d had a request to repost Camera Obscura’s cover of Abba’s Super Trouper, so…seeing as it’s my birthday and I’m trying not to focus on the fact that i’m now a thirty something…oh, why not *sigh*

Camera Obscura -‘Super Trouper (Abba cover).’ mp3

And as a treat, why not their cover of Sheena Easton’s Modern Girl…

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

…and finally, the title track of last year’s 17 Seconds’ album of the year:

Camera Obscura -‘Let’s Get Out Of This Country.’ mp3

Camera Obscura rule. Please support them by going to your local independent record shop and buying their music, going to see them in concert (seen them three times, they’re very good) etc..

Their official website is here and their MySpace is here where you can stream more tracks. What are you waiting for?

No Wave

James Chance

No Wave was a short-lived but influential music and art movement in downtown New York in the late 1970s and 1980s. The name was a reaction to the sanitised Punk Rock trading uner the name ‘New wave’ for those people who wanted a sanitised version of punk (arguably, like nicotine-free cigarettes or alcohol-free lager -and that’s coming from a teetoal, non-smoker!)

I’m not an authority on this period in time, hell, I was only born in 1976 and I didn’t get to visit New York until this decade, but the thing that intrigues me is just how people pushed art to its’ limit. Some were reacting against punk’s ‘three chord good, four chords jazz’ constraints, realising that if you wanted to really push the boat out, then jazz actually could do that far more more than just three chords. In Simon Reynolds’ utterly essential book Rip It Up And Start Again, he quotes Lydia Lunch as saying ‘I hated almost the entirety of punk rock, I don’t think No Wave had anything to do with it.’ Adele Bertei, keyboard in the Contortions said that James Chance was ‘like a Jackson Pollock painting’ he was so explosive. Perhaps the most famous group to emerge out of the scene was Sonic Youth, but many of the main players went on to seriously push the buttons not only in ‘Rock’ music but in ‘Jazz’ and ‘Classical’ too. I use the quote marks because the No Wave bands and artists managed to push the buttons so far that labels or genres started to buckle.

Anyway, here’s a small sampler of some of the wealth of music out of that scene.

Glenn Branca played in Theoretical Girls and The Static before becoming a composer, working with Sonic Youth amongst many others.

These two tracks are from the Glenn Branca ’77-79 compilation, which ties up his work with Static and the Theoretical Girls:

Glenn Branca -‘Glazened Idols.’ mp3

Glenn Branca -‘You.’ mp3

These two tracks are from his early solo releases. This is from Lesson No. 1, released in 1980

Glenn Branca -‘Lesson No.1 (Edit).’ mp3

…and this is from The Ascension, released in 1981

Glenn Branca -‘Lesson No. 2’ mp3

James Chance was originally in Teenage Jesus and the Jerks with Lydia Lunch, before forming The Contortions, and then James white and the Blacks. He semi-retired but has toured recently and even played saxophone on Blondie’s No Exit album in
1999, and played in Aberdeen. He embraced disco – heresy on the punk scene, and The Rapture, both pre-and post ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ owe him a helluva lot.

James Chance -‘Contort yourself.’ mp3

James Chance -‘The Twitch.’ mp3

Rhys Chatham was another contemporary of the scene, who played with both Thurston Moore and Glenn Branca (whether it was Branca or Chatham who first had the idea of composing for 100 guitars -or more- is discussed in certain circles). Chatham started out as a piano tuner for the likes of La Monte Young (who was a huge influence on John Cale)

Rhys Chatham -‘Drastic Classicism.’ mp3

Finally, just to prove that Jazz can push boundaries, here’s a 1982 track by Sun Ra and his Outer Space Arkestra -‘Nuclear War’ which was later covered by Yo La Tengo (available on the Prisoners Of Love compilation).

Sun Ra And His Outer Space Arkestra -‘Nuclear War.’ mp3

Like I say, there are people who know far more about this than me, so I suggest you consider Simon Reynolds’ book, the No New York compilation, the New york Noise compilations on the fantastic Soul Jazz record label, and the Rough Trade Post Punk 01 compilation, as well as investigating the names above.

Interview: Aberfeldy

It’s good to know that sometimes even rock musicians are troubled by the minutiae of everyday life that bother the rest of us. When I arrive at Riley Briggs’ home in Edinburgh, the singer is in the middle of dealing with someone in a call centre. He apologises for keeping me waiting when he finishes, but it’s given me time to look at the very nice place he lives in, and to consider once again what I want to talk about. He emerges and makes me a very nice cup of coffee and we sit down to talk in the kitchen.

Aberfeldy emerged in 2004 on the Rough Trade label. Then, as now, they sounded beautiful, complete and very different to the majority of what was going on in the music scene -and all the better for it. Named after the Scottish town where Riley spent much of his holidays, the band’ second single ‘Heliopolis By Night’ gained single in the week in the NME, and debut album Young Forever got great reviews too. Their manager is Bruce Findlay, who managed Simple Minds, arguably the biggest Scottish band of the eighties. The band gigged in earnest and over subsequent years supported Edwyn Collins, James Blunt, Paolo Nutini and played at Edinburgh’s annual Hogmanay (December 31) supporting Blondie and the Scissor Sisters. In 2006, their second album Do Whatever Turns You On was released, again on Rough Trade. (In the inaugural 17 Seconds Festive Fifty end-of-year poll (!), Aberfeldy had two tracks.) Despite some positive reviews, the band parted company with Rough Trade at the end of last year and are still looking for a deal.

They are not the only great band to get dropped over the years. Riley cites Clor, who were tipped to be massive in 2005, as being the best live band he ever saw (‘apart from Devo’ -a big influence on him) but who were dropped after one album. The challenge to any band is to keep going, even if the record company is not being supportive, and this seems to be battle that so many bands face,.

There have been personnel changes over the three years too. Bassist Ken McIntosh is the only remaining other member of the band. Ian Stoddart, who was the drummer on Young Forever left after the first album, and was replaced by Riley’s brother Murray. Then this year in May keyboardist Ruth Barrie and violinist Sarah MacFadyen also left. Their MySpace page , in the section for band members says ‘Not telling. You might stalk us.’ So who is in the band now? ‘Ruth and Sarah left at the end of the last tour, and we had a bunch of gigs over the summer, and we were gonna cancel, but we thought “It’s not good to let down the kids and the promoters as well, so we got in Chris, who’s a very talented singer-songwriter. He came and filled in, and that was nice because it felt very natural. We also got Chris’ mate, Vicky Gray, who’s a fiddler and she’s fitting in really well. We hummed and hawed about whether to still keep calling it Aberfeldy but well…anyway, I don’t have to tell you who’s in my band if I don’t want to!’ he says, with a friendly chuckle. No, no, absolutely not! ‘It seems to have settled.’ Chris is on board and is a paid-up member.

As well as producing two great albums, Aberfeldy produced some excellent singles, which should hopefully continue. ‘Heliopolis By Night’ not only made the indie charts but also reached no.64 in the national charts. They made two excellent videos, though the video for ‘Love Is an Arrow,’ which reached no. 60 in the national charts, is a sore point. It should have been a lot higher. The animated video, with its‘ cute Inuits should have helped, and it was played on Lorraine Kelly’s Kelly Plays Pop slot on GMTV. ‘It’s quite annoying when the record company rings you up to ask if you’ve got any more copies of the single!’ Riley says, shaking his head with disbelief. The b-side ‘Tom Weir’ about the Scottish TV man became a bit of a millstone too, when people started turning up to the gigs dressed like him.

Do Whatever Turns You On, their second album, had a video for ‘Hypnotised’ filmed at Riley’s dad’s house in Kansas (apparently Riley‘s Dad is one of the wrestlers in the video). I tell Riley I ended up seeing the video in strange places -on a screen in the back of a taxi in Edinburgh, and another time in TopShop. It was, however, the only single released off the album, which should have produced other singles, if they’d been given the chance. Riley says he’s disappointed that ‘Uptight’ wasn’t a single, but concedes that it would probably have needed to have been edited.

They also ended up soundtracking a diet coke ad in America and Canada with their song ‘Summer‘s Gone. Bands are often slated for selling out when they let their music be used for advertising, but ‘In this day and age, it’s so difficult to get a record deal and keep your head above water, getting played on adverts is the best way to get your music heard.’ He says that they got a few comments on their MySpace ‘ “Oh No! How could you do this?! First Jack White and now Aberfeldy!” We’re going to have to sell out here, it’s quite heavy!’ he chuckles wryly. He was contacted by a Scottish newspaper who clearly angling for a ‘Aberfeldy singer bites the hand that feeds story’ and felt he should have been sound tracking an Irn-Bru ad. ‘Bloody journalists, totally trying to get you to say the wrong thing, which of course I did,’ he says wearily.

Does he feel that they’ve had positive coverage from the press in Scotland? ‘Yeah, it’s been pretty good.’ We discuss the NME’s coverage of the band, which started off positive and then seemed to tail off. ‘I remember the guy from the record company ringing up and saying “You’ve got single of the week in NME” and it was quite amazing, and then we read the review, and it was like they were doing it to make some arsey statement about all the other records released that week. I do remember reading a review of another band and they said they were like a ‘death metal Aberfeldy’ but that was probably the last time we were mentioned.“ There was also a spate of lazy journalism in Scotland, comparing them to Belle and Sebastian. ‘The less said about that the better!’ says Riley, darkly.

The band are playing live and are a fantastic experience. I’ve seen them live no less than eight times over the last three years, both as a support and headliners. Earlier this year I saw them gig at the Leith festival, supported by Amplifico, and they also supported Runrig at a big gig in the Highlands, and experience Riley darkly compares to being Scotland’s Altamont. A few days previously he and the band supported the Hazey Janes in Glasgow and they are also playing four dates in Scotland in December.

I ask him if they are actively looking for a new record deal, or whether they are tempted to take the Radiohead route and release the album themselves via the internet. ‘We’ve had mixed experiences with the industry,’ he says. It’s clear that, understandably, he feels rather frustrated about what happened before, and that other people’s money problems got in the way. The Diet Coke advert money came in rather handy, coming in not long after the record company let them go (remember that, the next time you criticise a band for selling out). ‘Just because a record company’s got a great reputation and they’ve put out some great record doesn’t mean that they will do you any favours,’ he says. A lesson many bands may yet have to learn. What about the future? ‘ We were thinking about [putting out the record themselves] and that’s a great thing for a band like Radiohead to do, because they’re a huge name obviously, but they’re probably never going to sell as many records as this did with [OK Computer].’ Perhaps what they might do is to do their own gigs, as opposed to playing in more conventional venues. Riley enthuses about the idea of doing ‘sort of speakeasy gigs, where you hire some sort of barn somewhere, let everyone in for free, let everyone drink, smoke, take drugs, have sex with midgets…the whole thing would just be more rock ’n’ roll. The whole thing’s just become so sanitised. Maybe that’s the way forward, forget trying to make money, play for free, give [music] away for free… I think what we might do is to start doing our own label, because these days, it’s kind of easy for people to get stuff on iTunes, and maybe press up some copies for people who want a physical copy.’

Plans for the band beyond Christmas are a little hazy at the moment. They have applied for SXSW, which they’ve played a couple of times before. All being well, 2008 will see them release their third album, which Riley has written many songs for already. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. ’Young Forever was recorded over the space of a year, in Uncle Jim’s studio, we didn’t even have a name for the band at that point.’ It was one of the charms of the record that it was indeed recorded using only one mike, much in the spirit of the first two Cowboy Junkies’ albums Whites Off Earth Now! and The Trinity Sessions. The second album felt slicker, and some people missed the charm, though had they delivered Young Forever 2 they would probably have been slated for that.

Young Forever was produced by Jim Sutherland, which Riley describes as being ‘like working with your exciting, dangerous uncle’ while Do Whatever Turns You On was produced by Calum Malcolm, who is ‘a Dad producer.’ Riley sees a producer as being a sixth pair of ears and says he would work with either of them again. A lot of the songs are five or six minutes long, ‘which means we need less for an album.’ Maybe it will have a rougher edge -’I quite like it [on demos] when you hear Ken asking if he can go to the toilet!’

Riley played me five of the new Aberfeldy songs which he has demoed with the band:

‘Claire.’ This song, which sounds to these ears like it has ’single’ written all over it, is not dissimilar to Elvis Costello lyrically. Think ‘I Want You’ or ’Pills And Soap.’ Inspired by a neighbour who complained about the noise of the band rehearsing, it’s quite dark underneath its’ sweet-sounding exterior. As Costello himself once sang ’The sugar-coated pill is getting bitterer still.’

‘Wendy When I’m Wasted.’ Riley tells me they were wasted when they recorded this. It’s about not being in control of your sexual urges. It has a great vocal effect, think Cher’s ‘Believe’ or the vocoder stylings of some Daft Punk’s work. The Wendy in question is a gag about the American burger chain. Riley says this is another potential single. He’s right.

‘Malcolm.’ This is the longest thing Riley has ever written, or co-written. His co-writer was a girl called Dorey, daughter of Van Der Graaf Generator’s saxophone player, who Riley met when he went on a song writing weekend in Italy, hosted by Chris Difford (of Squeeze fame). The song references Graham Nash, and much fun can be had spotting the different song title that ends each chorus.

‘I’ll Be In Denial’ – a personal song about his last break-up. I liked the song, but didn’t want to question him too much about this. It’s all on there…

‘Very Rock ’n’ Roll’ – Riley sees this as being their ‘Band On The Run,’ the 1974 Paul McCartney and Wings single that saw them change tempos and set out their stall as a band in their own right. This is an apt comparison.

He also played me a new instrumental track -with a guide vocal that is a nice, slow track, that’s reminiscent of ‘Young Folks’ by Peter Bjorn and John, if that track didn’t have whistling.

I can’t wait!

Aberfeldy are playing The Tunnels, Aberdeen on December 6, The Classic Grand, Glasgow on December 14, and The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh on December 19 and 20.

Aberfeldy’s Myspace is here

From Young Forever

Aberfeldy -‘Heliopolis By Night.’ mp3

Aberfeldy -‘Love Is An Arrow.’ mp3

From Do Whatever Turns You On

Aberfeldy -‘Hypnotised.’ mp3

Aberfeldy -‘Uptight.’ mp3

Aberfeldy -‘Whatever Turns You On.’ mp3

If you like what you hear, support Aberfeldy by buying the records and going to their gigs. They really deserve it.


Finally feeling a little more upbeat this morning, if not drastically improved. If the image for yesterday’s post was a sunset (a reflection of my state of mind) then today’s is that of reaching towards the sun (more for Vitamin D than anything else, mind). The first track below may have helped.

Usher -‘Yeah.’ mp3

Seriously, I love much of the American R&B of this decade. I couldn’t get into the whole New Jack Swing stuff that I heard in the 90s (R.Kelly, Boys II Men, etc) but the impact of the Neptunes and Timbaland has created something that I am a total sucker for. This is a cover by Biffy Clyro of one of this year’s finest singles -‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna

Biffy Clyro -‘Umbrella (Rihanna cover).’ mp3

And talking of covers, who is the king of the cover version? Mark Ronson or Jose Gonzalez? I like the Mark Ronson stuff I have heard this year -but Jose’s versions of these tracks really hit the spot:

Jose Gonzalez -‘Hand On Your Heart (Kylie Minogue cover).’ mp3

Jose Gonzalez -‘Teardrop (Massive Attack cover).’ mp3

These will be up for a week. Enjoy, and if you like the tracks concerned, support the artists.

See you soon…

Some ‘Eighties’ Stuff?

Hi there…still off work and my head feels like it’s overworked…

Anyway…*sigh* here are a few songs, consider this a double post as I didn’t post yesterday.

There is no linking theme here, other than all this stuff came out in the eighties. It really is that tenuous.

One day I am going to do a post on the Ozzy-era Sabbath. Forget the TV show for the moment (though I’d much rather watch that than any other fly-on-the-wall thing), Ozzy has been responsible for some fantastic stuff. This is (obviously) from his solo career, and was later covered by none other than Pat Boone, as heard on the credits to The Osbournes

Ozzy Osbourne -‘Crazy Train.’ mp3

Guns ‘n’ Roses were lumped in with the hair metal lot, but they had more to them, which was probably why they crossed over. It would later all go horribly wrong, but this is where they managed to show you can write a love song that’s got balls. Later covered by Luna (will have to post that some day).

Guns ‘N’ Roses -‘Sweet Child O’ Mine.’ mp3

Utterly different sylistically from either of the above, The Specials and their later incarnation Special AKA wrote fantastic songs, and in some ways were the early eighties version of Massive Attack (if you stop to think about it). Anyway, ‘Ghost Town’ sums up not so much urban paranoia as urban fears coming true, while ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ helped to do exactly that. Where’s the 2000s’ equivalent, dammit?

Specials -‘Ghost Town.’ mp3

Special AKA -‘Free Nelson Mandela.’ mp3

This song’s african drum beats were later sampled for a rather cheesy dance number called ‘Sunchyne’ by Dario G (I think. I’ve not really spent the last ten years paying much attention to it). If this doesn’t move you, at least a little bit, then there’s no hope.

Dream Academy -‘Life In A Northern Town’ mp3

This song was banned by the BBC in 1986 because it was ‘obviously’ about heroin. What with Grange Hill -Zammo especially- telling us just to say no, and Boy George apparently having only eight weeks to live, it was getting a pretty scarey time to be a nine year old. (years later, when I sang in a band called She Will Destroy You, we opened our first gig with a cover of this).

Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Some Candy Talking.’ mp3

Weird, wonderful, and heartbreakingly sad, this must have been one of the most unusual records ever to make the Top 5.

Japan-‘Ghosts.’ mp3

Finally, another case of me having to eat my words. I hated this song in 1988, for some reason I didn’t get house music. Never mind, that 303 will get anyone in the end.

S-Express -‘Theme From S-Express.’ mp3

These links will be up for a week only. May my head and brain start to feel like normal soon, please…

Covers for the weekend: The Fall

I seem to have got into the habit of doing artist related cover posts of late. Why not, eh? Following on from Sonic Youth and Placebo, how about a mini one on The Fall?

This one was originally recorded for the Sergeant Pepper Knew My Father compilation for Childline organised by NME in 1988. Smith sounds like he’s almost singing, I swear!

The Fall -‘A Day In The Life.’ mp3

I know I’ve posted this before, but this, from 1993’s The Infotainment Scan is a cover of a Sister Sledge song. (The same album also has them covering Lee Peery’s Why Are People Grudgeful? but I cannot put my hand on it at the moment)

The Fall -‘Lost In Music.’ mp3

In the late 1980s, The Fall actually started troubling the national charts, though Mark E. Smith wouldn’t end up appearing on Top Of the Pops until he provided vocals on the Inspiral Carpets’ ‘I Want You’ single, in 1994 (later no.1 that year in John Peel’s Festive Fifty). It may have helped that some of these were covers, but as you would expect, done in the Fall’s own style, and certainly not ‘obvious’ songs:

This song was originally by The Kinks:

The Fall -‘Victoria.’ mp3

This was a soul song, by R. Dean Taylor:

The Fall -‘There’s A Ghost In My House.’ mp3

This was by a band called The Other Half, and was The first single to make the top 75:

The Fall -‘Mr. Pharmacist.’ mp3

Finally, this Gene Vincent cover was a Double a-side with the single of ‘Couldn’t Get Ahead’, taken from This Nation’s Saving Grace, still my favourite Fall album.

The Fall -‘Rollin’ Dany.’ mp3 (there is only one ‘n’ I have checked the sleeve)

I did consider posting their cover of ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!’ but decided to keep that for a Christmas post. Can’t believe it’s already November 10…


New Futureheads track

The Futureheads are not a band to let the grass grow beneath their feet. Having parted company with 679 recordings, their record label, they are striking out on their own and showing, as so many others have done before them, that you do not need to be on a major label (very pleased to hear that Radiohead have signed to Indie XL Recordings -This is a step in the right direction).

Via their website, they have made a new track available for free, called ‘Broke Up The Time.’ I’m playing it for the second time as I write this. You need to hear it. It’s excellent and should be on their third album next year.

Futureheads -‘Broke Up The Time.’ mp3

and for fun, seeing as it’s Friday, a couple of covers:

Futureheads -‘Hounds Of Love (Kate Bush cover).’ mp3

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

Their mySpace is here. Drop by and tell them how fab they are!

My Bloody Valentine reform!

The news is spreading across the blogs -My Bloody Valentine have reformed!

The shoegazing pioneers, without whom no Slowdive, no Lush, no Blur (go back at listen to Leisure), no Curve, no Ride… you get the picture. They’re back! And they are working on a new album, which may be ready this year.

I first read about this yesterday at The Yellow Stereo. This news was apparently from the mouth of Kevin Shields himself, and their website which is being worked on by Debbie Goodge, the bassist. They also have an official Myspace here.

Read more about this at: Hate Something Beautiful,and Minneapolis Fucking Rocks.

Tempting as it is to post tracks off their seminal albums Isn’t Anything and Loveless, I thought I would offer you some alternate treats.

The first is their Peel Session from the great man’s show in 1988 (these were taped off the radio, so not only do you get mbv but you hear the great man’s voice, too!)

My Bloody Valentine -‘I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It) (Peel session).’ mp3

My Bloody Valentine -‘Lose My Breath (Peel session).’ mp3

My Bloody Valentine -‘(When you Wake) You’re Still In A Dream (Peel session).’ mp3

My Bloody Valentine -‘Feed Me With Your Kiss (Peel session).’ mp3

And a couple of b-sides –

My Bloody Valentine -‘Honey Power.’ mp3(from the Tremolo EP)

My Bloody Valentine -‘Moonlight.’ mp3 (from the Geek EP)

And, finally, a very early track that appeared on the Rough Trade Indiepop 1 compilation a couple of years ago

My Bloody Valentine -‘Paint A Rainbow.’ mp3

These are through FileDen. Please leave feedback!