Album Review: Rose Kemp

Rose Kemp – ‘Unholy Majesty’ (One Little Indian)

The worlds of folk and metal might at first seem to be widely different ones, but really, they’re not at all. In the early seventies, when the three great pioneers of metal Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and the mighty Led Zeppelin all had roots that influenced what they were doing. Purple owed a fair bit to classical, which was why they sounded so goaddamn prog, Sabbath had started out as a Jazz band (listen to ‘War Pigs’ or ‘Fairies Wear Boots’) and Led Zeppelin drew not only on the blues
but also on folk. Indeed Zep frontman Robert Plant has continued to investigate a great deal of what is lazily called ‘World’ subsequently as well.

Amongst their contemporaries at the time in Britain pioneering ‘folk-rock’ (being folk-influenced it was a very British form and different to what Americans produced) two bands stood out: Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. Rose Kemp’s parents Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp were both in the latter, and the influence is there for all to hear.

I mention the backgrounds, both musical and familial of Rose Kemp, not to do her down in anyway, but because here is an artist who really does draw on her roots and a wide range of influences and produces something hugely special. So often press releases not only include a lot of waffle but try and make the band sound more interesting when all you hear is the same tired old riffs recycled again and again. When Rose Kemp says she takes influences as diverse as Kate Bush and drone artists like Earth and Om, she means it.

Right from the opening track ‘Dirt Glow’ the purity of the voice strikes you. While so many fronting a rock record feel the urge to sound as if they gargel with gravel, Kemp sings naturally. The violin of Sue Lord also adds something very special to this album.

I haven’t seen her live yet, but by God, I want to. This album yields more and more with every listen. This is not a conventional metal nor folk album, instead it messes with pigeonholes and remains accessible.


Rose Kemp -‘Nanny’s World.’ mp3

Unholy Majesty is out on September 29 on One Little Indian.

Rose Kemp’s myspace

Presenting…Worried about Satan

As I try and work through that pile of CDS I have been sent, it’s time to share an absolute gem with you.

Worried About Satan released their second EP, entitled ‘EP02’ last winter (yes, I know, but it only got forwarded on to me subsequently) and it has to be heard. This band mix electronica, post-rock, techno and heaven knows what else inbetween.

To reach for things I could compare it with…oh Autechre, My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai…but that’s just scratching the surface. Dubstep…much of the catalogue of Warp records…Early Sonic Youth…where’s that damn thesaurus?

This two-piece band do play live, though I don’t see any dates north of the border yet. They are ethereal at times, yet at other times I’m reminded of prime ’90’s jungle. Sometimes in the same song. If you enjoy dubstep, the EP was remastered at the Transition studios where Burial and kode9 also recorded. It’s rubbed off.

The band comprise two friends and a ‘beaten up computer’. This EP was apparently recorded in a bedroom over a six month period and self-released to cut out interfering record company hassles.

Well, more fool any record company that interfered. This release doesn;t put a foot wrong.


Hear Worried About Satan at their MySpace page or their Last FM page

Do go and make friends…

17 Seconds is two years old

Yes, two years to the day since a humble mp3 blog started, named after the club night I ran in Edinburgh once, which was named after The Cure’s second album…it’s still here.

Much of this is due to the love, support and encouragement of readers, including oother bloggers and also my family, but above all, the wonderful Mrs. 17 Seconds. I know I have driven her mad with this on occasion, but she’s a loyal reader and this first track is for her and to celebrate our first wedding anniversary yesterday. Here’s to you babe!

Aberfeldy -‘Love Is An Arrow.’ mp3

Over the course of the last year, I’ve also started interviewing bands, beginning with Swimmer One, but also including Emma Pollock, BMX Bandits, Malcolm Middleton, Foxface, amongst others, and apologies to Jamie Lidell, Amplifico and the Rosie Taylor project, whose interviews I still need to write up. It’s been crazy. As well as meeting Emma Pollock to interview her twice, it was also great to go round to Riley Briggs of Aberfeldy’s home to interview him and hear the new stuff the band have been working on. Hopefully the third album will be out this year.

Does 17 Seconds have a brief? Not really, it’s a thirty-something teacher based in Scotland writing about the music that excites him. Various ‘series’ have included albums I think should have had more publicity, singles that slipped thrugh the net, a constant harping on about scottish indie bands, cover versions, and stuff that made John Peel’s Festive Fifty. Whilst a fair bit of stuff may not be any more on the radar after my having written about it, it’s also great when bands I’ve featured do go on to do well. Wiley reached the proper top 3 in the UK, Dizzee Rascal is currently no.1, Santogold is making inroads into the UK singles and albums chart…by no means am I claiming credit for all, or indeed, any of this, but I like to think it helps. Plus the fact that I still like jumping around like a mad thing to music, even if I am now over thirty…

Sultans of Ping FC -‘Where’s me jumper?’ mp3

Much thanks also due to people who have answered my pleas for help with tracks, and of course those bands, record companies and PRs who have got in touch with me about posting stuff. I used to dream about it happening, now I have a massive pile of CDs and even more emails that need to be gone through. And I do my best to get through it all, it just takes time.

Other bloggers have given me much encourageemnt, and I’m not going to list them all here, but cheers to everyone who has mentioned me, and linked to me. It’s much appreciated. Great to meet both The Vinyl Villain and Toad, as well as to chat with Steve at Teenage Kicks. Hope to meet many more of you over the forthcoming years.

It’s been an eventful two years, what with getting married, getting cats and finally getting to work t a school I had dreamed of teaching at, and much is due to everyone whose kept me sane. You know who you are. God bless ya.

The Fall – ‘Edinburgh Man.’ mp3 (1991 Festive Fifty no.4, in case you were wondering…)


…hopefully the Slits and Rustie files below should now work. PLease let me know if any problems.

(Now trying to prepare for special first wedding anniversary post and second anniversary of blog post…)


Some more covers for you all

Well, I know these have been posted before, but I figure that you might like to hear these if you haven’t before…

First up, my support of Lightspeed Champion this year annoyed a few folks, but I stand by it, especially when he does covers as good as these…

Lightspeed Champion -Back To Black (Amy Winehouse cover).’ mp3

Lightspeed Champion -‘Xanadu (Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra cover).’ mp3

Endearingly shambolic, and a wonderful version:

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

I was passed this cover by the record company, proof that some record companies areaware of the support provided by blogs.

Alabama 3 -‘Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover).’ mp3

Another cover of a post-punk era song:

Belle and Sebastian -‘Final Day (Young Marble Giants cover).’ mp3

I spent ages trying to track this down. Cheers to Steve at Teenage Kicks, hope your blog is up and running again soon, mate!

Cud -‘You Sexy Thing (Hot Chocolate cover).’ mp3

Proof that great songs DO get to no.1, Rihanna’s Umbrella topped the UK charts last year for ten weeks, spawning these two covers. If anyone has an mp3 of her collaborating with the Klaxons doing a mash-up of ‘Umbrella’ and ‘Golden Skans’ please email me and I will post it here.

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

Manic Street Preachers -‘Umbrella (Rihanna cover).’ mp3

The greatest ever Scots band take on one of America’s greatest bands, and do them justice.

Delgados -‘California Uber Alles (Dead Kennedys cover).’ mp3

There are apparently folk who do not like this cover. They are idiots. That is a fact, not an opinion:

Slits -‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine(Marvin Gaye cover).’ mp3

2008 -The best so far?

Another, oh five months or so, and everyone’ll be making their lists of the best of the year.

As 17 Seconds progresses, I have heard about seventy new albums this year alreadt, as well as masses of tracks, and face the task of trying to put it all in order for the end of the year. It does feel like it’s been a good decade for music so far, in fact; BTW did the nineties ever go through a phase of being out or was it accepted that it had been pretty good overall? There have been one or two rubbish albums -I never want to hear the Black Mountain album again, frankly, but there has been some great stuff.

Anyway, this is a Top 10 tracks of the year so far for me:

1. Wedding Present – ‘The Trouble With Men.’ mp3
2. MGMT – ‘Time To Pretend.’ mp3
3. Santogold – ‘My Superman.’ mp3
4. Jamie Lidell -‘Another Day.’ mp3
5. Kills -‘Cheap and Cheerful.’ mp3
6. Dom DeLuca -‘Birds Of Worry.’ mp3
7. Hayman Watkins Trout and Lee -‘Sly and the Family Stone.’ mp3
8. Vampire Weekend -‘The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.’ mp3
9. Neon Neon -‘I Lust U.’ mp3
10.Rustie -‘Mic Of The Year.’ mp3

See what you make of it, comments welcome, but do not assume that it will be the same come December. Oh, and anyone who thinks that there is only ever white middle class indie boys with guitars on this blog is not paying attention!

Hope things are drier wherever you are than they are down here…

A few covers for you

Next week, 17 Seconds will celebrate its’ second birthday, which is something I will be celebrating. However, it is also mine and Mrs. 17 Seconds’ first wedding anniversary -and no, marrying was not something we did to mark the first anniversary.

As well as pushing much new stuff at readers, I’ve also enjoyed posting cover versions on here. These have varied from the painfully obvious to the almost violently obscure. So, proud of the fact that this blog has managed to last this far, I will repost a few here:

First up, the 1984 4AD album It’ll End In Tears, put out by label founder Ivo Watts-Russell as This Mortal Coil, had some classic cover versions that became known as songs in their own right.

This Mortal Coil – ‘Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley cover).’ mp3

This Mortal Coil – ‘Another Day (Roy Harper cover).’ mp3

This Mortal Coil – ‘Kangaroo (Big Star cover).’ mp3

The Sisters of Mercy have done two different versions of Hot Chocolate’s song ‘Emma.’ The first was a Peel session from 1984, the second appeared on rei-issued versions of their second album from 1987, Floodland, which was one of my introdutions to Goth, not that I knew that word as a ten year old, mind…

Sisters of Mercy -‘Emma (Peel session version).’ mp3

Sisters of Mercy -‘Emma.’ mp3

The Wedding Present have done some good cover versions over the years, including Orange Juice’s ‘Felicity,’ Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel’s ‘Come Up snd See Me (Make Me Smile), and a dozen that were the b-sides to their a single a month run back in 1992. This was recorded for 6Music, I believe, the only Take That song I’d want to let near my blog:

Wedding Present – ‘Back For Good (Take That cover).’ mp3

The Breeders rock utterly, and apparntly their debut Pod contained this excellent cover of a Beatles’ number:

The Breeders -‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun (The Beatles cover).’ mp3

There may well be more to follow, so keep your eyes peeled…


1976…and all that

Hello folks,

am currently on holiday with Mrs. 17 Seconds in Cornwall and two of our friends, while 17 Seconds Towers is looked after by our two cats and a legendary scots bassist. Therefore posts may not be as regular as they have been over the last wee while, but keep checking up.

The other day I was notified by the Fades in Slowly blogspot that they are doing a feature on 1976 and the tracks that could have made the Festive Fifty for that year. The significance being that a) that year as an all-time Festive Fifty, b) the following year was just John Peel’s favourite tracks, and it was only c) 1982 where the votes were just the publics, based on that year.

I’m still trying to work out which three tracks to vote for. I was only born in mid-November of that year, and am coming ot the conclusion that whilst it was the year punk broke in the UK, that there was good non-punk music released that year. This list gives an idea. After all, it was the year of Dylan’s Desire LP, which may well be my favourite Dylan album (yes, even above Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and Blood On The Tracks) and Bowie’s Station To Station, as the man moved to Berlin, listened to Kraftwerk who were about to invent the eighties a few years before they happened, and prepared for being involved in no less than four key LPs of 1977. Bob Marley continued his rise as Roxy went on hiatus. In Ireland and the UK, Thin Lizzy hit the big time. Disco and Punk were not being mixed in at this point, but they were happening and it’s probably quite accurate that this was the year was the quiet before the storm. I may only have been there for the last six weeks of it, but galvanised by punk, this was the year that The Clash, U2, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees played their first gigs, and my world is still reverberating from that and the aftershock that followed over the next thirty years. Of course, Madonna was still in high school, as presumably were The Slits, and MTV and Hip-Hop were some years off.

Here’s five tracks from that year…

David Bowie -Station To Station

Donna Summer – Love To Love You Baby

The Damned -New Rose

The Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK

Thin Lizzy -The Boys Are Back In Town

Album Review: Chris Bradley

Chris Bradley: Voices (Splashing Duck Records)

Chris Bradley’s Voices is described as being anticipated. It should be, even if you’ve never heard of him before. To describe him as a talented singer, songwriter and guitarist is rather like saying that Tiger Woods is quite good at golf, or that the Williams’ sisters are rather good on the tennis court: an understatement that doesn’t begin to get to grips with the facts. Quite simply, on the evidence of these songs he is one of the best. And you can quote me.

Bradley’s solo debut is a collection of twelve songs that shows a range of skills and twelve fantastic songs that reflect a wide range of influences. This Edinburgh-based man, who has travelled the world and been steeped in music from a very young age writes beautiful songs, but they are not predictable. This is not an album that takes one song and gives you a dozen more on a similar and rapidly diminishing theme. Rather, chord changes, lyrics and a vocal range that reminds me of Jeff Buckley’s in range, if not in sound, making me want to play the album again and again (it plays as I type and I’ve now played it three times in the last twenty four hours. Expect to see it feature highly in that most important of lists: the Seventeen Seconds end of year Festive Fifty Tracks and albums).

Last year he was invited by Riley Briggs to join Scottish institution Aberfeldy, which he accepted, adding yet another string to his bow. Briggs’ brother Murray features on drums on two tracks here, as does ‘feldy bandmate Ken McIntosh, and the original ‘feldy drummer Ian Stoddart. But judge this as a Feldy project at your peril: it’s one of the strongest albums I’ve heard this year. Tracks like ‘To My Ears’ ‘Hide & Seek’ and ‘Down I go’ are just three of an album full of highlights.

Do yourself a favour and track it down.


Instead of posting the tracks, why not watch this video?

Pop over and make friends at Chris Bradley’s MySpace


Computer problems at 17 Seconds Towers.

Keep checking back for updates -will try and get this sorted asap.

Meanwhile, have massive pile of stuff to review, so please bear with me, and don’t email asking why I haven’t reviewed it yet. I’m working through a heck of a lot of stuff.

In the meantime, may I recommend the latest albums by The Music, The Futureheads…and The deut by The Black Kids which is out on Monday, produced by Bernard Butler, and fantastic.