Some more Christmas tunes for you


Is Christmas starting to get you down?! After a fairly difficult year which I have only alluded to in passing on the blog, I’ve felt surprisingly festive here. Mind you, the last time I looked at facebook, one friend had written ‘All this fuss for just one day?!’ and I guess I can see why some folks are getting more than a little stressed.

It’s actually been snowing in Edinburgh -which looks pretty -until it starts melting, then freezes again…but look at it this way, there’s only five days to go.

Half Man Half Biscuit -‘It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas.’ mp3

Housewives On Prozac -‘I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall.’ mp3

Ron Sexsmith -‘Something To Hold On To (At Christmas).’ mp3

Wounded Knee -‘Cold Enough for Snow.’ mp3* (see top)

65 Days Of Static -‘I’m Dreaming Of A White Noise Christmas.’ mp3

In a few hours we will know who has been successful in the battle for the Christmas no.1…

* Go Drew, today’s token scottish act!

Looking for more ideas for Christmas?


So, it’s six days to go to Christmas, and you’re still wondering what to get various family and friends for Christmas. The head of a banker on a plate? Tempting. The heads of David Cameron and Gordon Brown? Maybe, maybe. Simon Cowell’s soul? You can’t buy what doesn’t exist. Or was it sold for thirty pieces of silver many years ago?

Anyway…confessions of a justified snipper aside, why not bear in mind these great presents from the scottish music scene, as stocking fillers or whatever, depending on your budgets and generosity?

First up, Avalanche Records have put together a rather fine compilation that retails for just £5 of excellent scottish bands doing Christmas songs. It does include our very own X-Lion Tamer doing a song called ‘Little Drum Machine Boy’ (no, not the one that Beck was doing that still does the rounds on the internet). As Tony T said himself, it’s nice to be competing with the big boys. The tracklisting is as follows.

1. There Will Be Fireworks – In Excelsis Deo
2. The Savings & Loan – Christmastime in the Mountains
3. Rob St John – December & Whisky
4. Frightened Rabbit – It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop
5. Pictish Trail – But Once a Year
6. Eagleowl – Sleep the Winter
7. Withered Hand – It’s a Wonderful Lie
8. Meursault – Christmas in Kirkcaldy
9. Emily Scott – Holy
10. Money Can’t Buy music – Atoms
11. Saint Jude’s Infirmary – Xmas in New York
12. Broken Records – All So Tired
13. Ballboy – Shallow Footprints in the Snow
14. X-Lion Tamer – Little Drum Machine Boy
15. Zoey Van Goey – In Scotland it Never Snowed, In Canada it Did

If you can’t get to Edinburgh why not order it here?

The Withered Hand single has also been made available as a free download (if you give free downloads as a christmas present you are taking Presbyterianism to frightening levels) so why not check it out if you still haven’t?

Withered Hand -‘It’s A Wonderful Lie.’ mp3

Meanwhile, Meursault made one of last year’s best albums in Pissing On Bonfires/ Kissing With Tongues. This year has seen them release the excellent Nothing Broke EP and also two 7″ singles “William Henry Miller Pt.1” and er, “William Henry Miller Pt. 2” You can buy the 7″s individually for £3 or together for £5. These can be found at Avalanche or ordered direct from Song By Toad Records here

Meursault -‘William Henry Miller.’ Pt 1

…as indeed can the excellent six track EP Matter by Jesus H. Foxx, which I have frothed about many times and which includes this excellent track:

Jesus H. Foxx -‘I’m Half The Man You Were.’ mp3

I’m still kicking myself for not having managed to see eagleowl yet -they have just released a stunning single ‘Sleep the Winter’/’Laughter’ which I have played incessantly. Their debut EP For The Thoughts You Never Had appears to have sold out, though I have seen a copy in Avalanche. The 7″ is beautifully packaged and worth every penny of the £4 or so. See here or here.

eagleowl -‘Laughter.’ mp3

This year has seen amazing debuts from many Scottish bands, all of whom should be on your Christmas present list – or on the list of things you thought you’d get other people. This should include the self-titled albums from both The Gothenburg Address and There Will Be Fireworks.

There Will Be Fireworks -‘Foreign Thoughts.’ mp3

Chemikal Underground continue to amaze all as ever, with their debuts from The Phantom band Checkmate Savage and Lord Cut-Glass’ self-titled debut (AKA Alun Woodward from the Delgados)

Phantom Band -‘Folksong Oblivion.’ mp3

Lord Cut-Glass -‘Even Jesus Couldn’t Love You.’ mp3

And if you’re still searching for more ideas for the music fan in your life, check the Scottish BaMS list (of which i am proud to be one!) here on Peenko, where we were asked for our views on the best albums of 2009 or indeed my own best of year list.

Two more for Christmas


“Trying to take on the X-Factor at Christmas? That’s so 2007.’

The last week has been hectic, what with one thing and another. As far as the blog is concerned, I have done my Festive Fifty and the Top 75 albums of the year…so will continue to enjoy the Christmas music, as we get a week away.

I know next to nothing about how these tracks came into being , but as two of England’s finest bands, I hope you will enjoy. Oh, and nice to see Blur get the recognition they deserve this year…

XTC -‘Thanks for Christmas.’ mp3

Blur – ‘Wassailing Song.’ mp3

More Christmas music, tomorrow, folks. Keep it tuned to 17 Seconds. And hope you are keeping safe out there with that mental weather…

Does it matter who the UK’s Christmas No.1 is?

So, it’s been discussed time and time again over the last week. Various points have been made: Simon Cowell is the great Satan (true, IMHO). Rage Against the Machine are great. Rage against the machine and the the X-Factor track are both on Sony so ultimately Simon Cowell and his ilk win. It’s pointless and no-one cares anyway. It matter a great deal. No-one cares about chart positions anymore. Simon Cowell is aiming to be Prime Minister and is a closet Tory.

OK, so I made that last one up, though it would be yet another perfectly reason to hate Simon Cowell. As to whether it’s a battle between pop and metal…let’s face it, the ultimate battle in music is between good and bad music. The Fall have a stylist. The Sugababes may be becoming a brand name, but I’d rather listen to them than Travis, Stereophonics, Nickleback…

…and is there not something secretly rather pleasurable about seeing a band like Rage Against The Machine reach #1, or at least, be serious contenders? Will it change the world? No, it won’t; and Sony are going to be quids in this Christmas. But the facebook campaign was not started by Sony, but by a husband and wife team making a protest. And whilst the Rage track may be old, may be on a major label, and may ruin some cherubs life because of us being scrooge-like to be a track on download…it’s Christmas.

To paraphrase Bill Nighy as Billy Mack in Love Actually: ‘Wouldn’t it be great this Christmas if the number one wasn’t yet another one of Simon Cowell’s puppets but a metal band who wiped the grin off that smug, evil, pseudo-svengali’s face and it was down to the general public?’

It won’t change the world, it won’t make Cowell stop making records (unfortunately) or bring an end to this ridiculous obssession with celebrity at any price. But it might show that the public have had enough.

17 Seconds Records’ Top 75 Albums Of the Year 2009

Well, here it is folks…my Top 75 albums of the year.

DISCLAIMER: Please note: due to having a)an opinion of my own; b) a limited number of hours in the day (still only 24, despite my requests for more) and c) having to do other things from time to time other than listening to music, it has not been possible to listen to every single album released this year. I have listened to about 180 plus compilations, re-issues I have done my best. By all means agree, disagree but be respectful.*

Top 75 albums of the year 2009


1.Broken Records Until The Earth Begins To Part
2.Telefon Tel Aviv Immolate Yourself
3.The Very Best The Very Best
4.Luke Haines 21st Century Man
5.Mono Hymn To The Immortal Wind
6.Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
7.Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern Pram Town
8.The Gothenburg Address The Gothenburg Address
9.There Will Be Fireworks There Will Be Fireworks
10.Fuck Buttons Tarot Sport
11.Blueflint High Bright Morning
12.The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
13.Paul Haig Relive
14.The Pastels/The Tenniscoats Two Sunsets
15.Phantom Band Checkmate Savage
16.The Horrors Primary Colours
17.Sonic Youth The Eternal
18.Nathan Fake Hard Islands
19.Money Can’t Buy Music The Universe For Beginners
20.St. Vincent Actor
21.Do Make Say Think Other Truths
22.King Creosote Flick The Vs
23.TV21 Forever 22
24.Sunn O ))) Monoliths & Dimensions
25.Super Furry Animals Dark Days/Light Years
26.Bike For Three More Heart Than Brains
27.James Yorkston Folk Songs
28.Horace Andy/Ashley Beedle Inspiration/Information 2
29.The B of the Bang Beginning. Middle. End
30.Girls Album
31.Six Organs Of Admittance Luminous Night
32.Cave Singers Welcome Joy
33.Cheval Sombre Cheval Sombre
34.Morrissey Years Of Refusal
35.Malcolm Middleton Waxing Gibbous
36.Zoey Van Goey The Cage Was Unlocked All Along
37.Times New Viking Born Again Revisited
38.Yo La Tengo Popular Songs
39.Jesus H. Foxx Matter
40.Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs Malcolm Ross and the Low Miffs
41.Camera Obscura My Maudlin Career
42.Wake the President You Can’t Change That Boy
43.Franz Ferdinand Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
44.Bricolage Bricolage
45.Idlewild Post Electric Blues
46.Julian Plenti Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper
47.Wojtek Godzisz Wojtek Godzisz
48.Lord Cut-Glass Lord Cut-Glass
49.New Model Army Today Is A Good Day
50.Future Of the Left Curses!
51.Trashcan Sinatras In the Music
52.Raveonettes In and out of control
53.Muse The Resistance
54.Liam McKahey and the Bodies Lonely Road
55.Aidan Moffat and the Best-Ofs How To Get To Heaven From Scotland
56.Le Reno Amps Tear It Open
57.John Parish and PJ Harvey A Woman A Man Walked By
58.We Were Promised Jetpacks These Four Walls
59.Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz!
60.Neon Indian Psychic Chasms
61.39 Steps Coming Clean
62.Brakes Rock Is Dojelick
63.Vivian Girls Everything Goes Wrong
64.HEALTH Get Color
65.Cuddly Shark Cuddly Shark
66.Zu Carboniferous
67.Placebo Battle For The Sun
68.Peaches I Feel Cream
69.Pet Shop Boys Yes
70.Flowers Of Hell Come Hell Or High Water
71.My Latest Novel Deaths and Entrances
72.George Pringle Salon Des Refusés
73.Subway Subway II
74.Indigo Girls Poseidon and the Bitter Bug
75.Florence and the Machine Lungs

Re-issues and compilation chart to follow.

A selection of LEGAL mp3s relating to the album chart:

Broken Records -‘If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It.’ mp3

Blueflint -‘High Bright Morning.’ mp3

Jesus H. Foxx -‘I’m Half The man You Were.’ mp3

St. Vincent -‘Actor Out Of Work.’ mp3

Mono -‘Follow the Map.’ mp3

Yo La Tengo -‘Nothing To Hide.’ mp3

Vivian Girls -‘Can’t Get Over You.’ mp3

HEALTH -‘Die Slow.’ mp3

Neon Indian -‘Should have Taken Acid With You.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘French Navy.’ mp3

Girls -‘Lust For Life.’ mp3

Money Can’t Buy Music -‘Love Will Break Your Heart.’ mp3

* Frequent grumps…

Q: Why is there not any dance or electronica? It’s all indie!

A:Telefon Tel Aviv, Fuck Buttons and Animal Collective are in the Top 10 alone.

Q: Why is it all just British and American groups?

A: Bike for Three are a Belgian/Canadian collaboration, Mono and The Tenniscoats both come from Japan, Zu are Italian and The Raveonettes are Danish for starters…

Q: You’ve just focused on new bands – why have you forgotten about more established acts?

A: Franz Ferdinand, Morrissey, Horace Andy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, PJ Harvey…

Q: Did you not hear the Grizzly Bear album, Vecktamest?

A: I did. I bought it. Played it a few times, including yesterday. There are at least eighty albums better than that this year.

Q: Why have you not supported scottish acts? You’re a scottish blog, after all…

A: Go back and check the list. Starting with the #1 album…

33 1/3 Part 27


Rolling Stones -‘Beggars Banquet’ (ABKCO, 1968)

It’s a sign of just how good the Stones were that there’s no less than at least four contenders for their best ever album. And while Aftermath, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street all have their advocates, this is mine.

Having been indulging in much experimentation (amongst other things) before this album, this is a ballsy, rock’n’roll album. And much of it sees the Stones investigating their roots. If you wondered how on earth people might ever have seen the Stones as being a blues band, check this album. The last album to completely feature Brian Jones as guitarist, the slide on ‘No Expectations’ and harmonica on ‘Prodigal Son’ show just how much American blues impacted on the band, and how they could do something with it.

I first heard this album when I was at university. I’d always liked the Stones and had been advocating Sticky Fingers as my favourite Stones album for some months previously. But an album that starts off with ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and finishes with the stunning ‘Salt Of The Earth’ with its’ druggy and gospel-tinged feel cannot be ignored.

It nods to its’ time, with the second side opening with ‘Street Fighting Man’ an apt song for the year that saw the student riots in Paris and further afield. Yet ‘Dear Doctor,’ a rather tongue in cheek number, could have been written at any point in the last 80 years. As the years have gone by and people have become so lost in the mythology and ioconography of the Stones, it seems that people are almost at risk of forgetting why they became famous in the first place (see also: Madonna).

I’ve never seen the Stones live -a trip to London precisely for this purpose in 2003 ended up with the band postponing, after I’d travelled all the way from Edinburgh – and I’m not sure if it will happen now. Certainly not at the ticket prices that got quoted the last time they toured. But their recorded output, from 1963-1972 unquestionably, and some good work in the last thirty five years, show that they really did give the Beatles a run for their money.

Rolling Stones -‘Salt Of The Earth.’ mp3

And this, IMHO, is their crowning achievement.

A Camera Obscura Christmas


Camera Obscura have had a great 2009, and they’ve done a Christmas single. It’s called ‘The Blizzard’ which is an old Jim Reeves song, and here is a live performance, so go and buy it!

This is an older Camera Obscura cover of a festive fave/Christmas classic:

Camera Obscura -‘Little Donkey.’ mp3

BONUS! A classic Camera Obscura cover version and the title track of this year’s LP.

Camera Obscura -‘Super Trouper.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘My Maudlin Career.’ mp3

Cast aside your prejudices


Yeah, okay.

First things first. ‘The Lady In Red’ is a hideous, steaming pile of rubbish. But then, McCartney and Lennon produced awful stuff and people love The Beatles still.

And this is an awesome Christmas song, performed last year by Aberfeldy at their Christmas gig, from Chris de Burgh’s 1975 album, Spanish Train and Other Stories.

Chris de Burgh -‘A Spaceman Came Travelling.’ mp3

…and this is the album’s title track, also worth hearing:

Chris de Burgh -‘Spanish Train.’ mp3

Gig Review: Broken Records/Jesus H. Foxx/Withered Hand


Broken Records/Jesus H.Foxx/Withered Hand

Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh December 9, 2009

The last time I saw Broken Records at Cabaret Voltaire was August 2007. It was the first time I had encountered them, and they were there as the support act to Emma Pollock, then just about to release her debut solo album Watch The Fireworks. At first we gasped at how they could possibly manage to fit seven people on what is a tiny stage. Then we were blown away by the sound of a band later described by one monthly magazine (clue: it rhymes with ‘Poo’) as ‘what Nirvana would have sounded like if they’d formed in Belarus instead of Seattle. There are bands that have come along subsequently that have tried to persue similar terrain – check out the recent solo album by Wojtek Godzisz- but BR are perusing their own way through their musical life.

And the thing is, Broken Records have now got people from far and wide focusing on Edinburgh and realising that it has much to offer muscially as a city. Sure, history has seen Edinburgh giving the world Aberfeldy, Idlewild, the Fire Engines etc.. but Edinburgh now has a myriad of bands of many different styles kicking a serious amount of arse.*

And two of these bands are here in support tonight. To my shame, it’s the first time I have seen either of them, but it sure as heck will not be the last. First on are Withered Hand. Dan and assorted friends saw the release of their debut LP Good News this year on SL Records. Having released two EPS and the aforementioned album, it is clear that Dan has got into his stride and has written some amazing songs. ‘No Cigarettes’ ‘Religious Songs’ and special new Christmas song ‘It’s A Wonderful Lie’ (see link at the bottom) are fine, worthy additions to the scottish songbook of the decade.

Jesus H. Foxx are normally a seven piece, with two drummers. Tonight there’s just (ha!) the six of them. Their fine set open with ‘I’m Half The Man You Were’ from their fine EP Matter, released on Song, By Toad Records. Matthew from that fine blog and label joins Mrs. 17 Seconds and I and it’s clear he feels they’ve made a whole heap of progress since he first saw them. B-side to first 7″ ‘Tightt Ideas’ (sic) ‘This Is Not A Rental Car sounds particularly fine live, and they finish with ‘O Messy Life.’ Next year should see the release of their debut album. Put me down for a copy, folks.

By the time Broken Records come on, the place is heaving, and I suspect Cab Volt, as it’s known locally, could well have been sold out many times over. They open with ‘Nearly Home’ and it feels like the sound of heroes returning home. By the time they are onto their third song ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This’ I’m almost as sweaty as Jamie is on stage, and rueing that I want to dance like a Cosack and there’s just no bloody space. ‘Wolves’ is fantastically intense. They finish with early single and album closer ‘Slow Parade’ and I’m reminded not only that this is many people’s album of the year but just how amazing a live band Broken Records are. They work in different environments and adjust accordingly -this is a totally different vibe to their gig earlier this year at the Queen’s Hall.

Except…it’s not quite the end. Tallah from Jesus H.Foxx comes on to join the band for an endearingly shambolic run-through the festive fave ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and even with the two of them reading the lyrics off sheets, nothing removes the magic. They finish, and the crowd patiently makes its’ way up to street level to the sound of Tom Waits’ ‘Christmas Card from A Hooker In Minneapolis.’

Broken Records said that this will be their last gig for a while as they intend to work on their sophomore album, due for release in September next year. Take as long as it takes, guys. We’ll wait.

Withered hand -‘It’s A Wonderful Lie.’ mp3

Jesus H. Foxx -‘I’m Half The Man You Were.’ mp3

Broken Records -‘If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It.’ mp3

*Meursault, X-Lion Tamer, Chris Bradley, eagleowl, Blueflint, Lord Rochester…

For those who find Christmas stressful


Obviously, the ‘Christmas in New York getting stressful’ market might seem to be cornered by both The Waitresses’ ‘Christmas Wrapping’ (which has enjoyed something of a revivial in recent years) and of course the Pogues ‘Fairytale Of New York.’

Mind you, I think this track by Cristina is pretty close:

Cristina -‘Things Fall Apart.’ mp3

…and this track gives early Madonna a good run for its’ money:

Cristina -‘What’s a Girl To Do?’ mp3

Review of Broken Records’ Christmas spectacular to follow…