Presenting…Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros


This is a band I was tipped off about by a former student who was listening to my show on Fresh Air the other night (cheers for that, Michael!)

Although their song ‘Home’ did appear on one of the Rough Trade Shops compilations a little while ago, it’s always worth checking out tips (assuming there are enough hours in the day).

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros hail from LA. There’s some weird and wonderful tales about how they came into being (being birthed by a robot who later became a real boy see here. And then there’s the wiki entry which is only marginally less extraordinary). Are these tales true? Possibly not, but I’m wondering quite how it has taken me a year to hone in on their debut album Up From Below. This is warm, eccentric music, that seems to bridge between the likes of blogger faves like The Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes with classic eccentrics like Zappa and beefheart. Yes, that good.

See what you think…oh, and apparently the singer’s real name isn’t Edward Sharpe it’s Alex Ebert, but don’t let the truth get in the ay of a good story…Oh, and ‘Home has whistling in it, which you don’t get enough of in music, as far as I’m concerned. I’m off to buy the album.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros -‘Home.’ mp3

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros -‘Kisses over babylon.’ mp3

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros -’40 Day Dream.’ mp3

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros website/myspace

Live on Fresh Air!


Tune into Fresh Air between 7-8:30!

1. B-52s ‘Rock Lobster’
2. Broken Records ‘A leaving Song.’
3. Come On Gang! ‘Fortune favours The Brave.’
4. Dirty Cuts ‘Yummy Mummy.’
5. Vaselines ‘I hate the 80s.’
6. Album of the month Aberfeldy ‘Somewhere to jump from.’ Aberfeldy ‘Malcolm.’
7. Scottish Enlightenment ‘Pascal.’
8. Annie Stevenson ‘Get Off the Street.’
9. I build collapsible mountains ‘Veils.’
10. School of Seven Bells ‘Windstorm.’
11. Cancel the Astronauts ‘Funny For A Girl.’
12. Penguins Kill Polar Bears ‘Homebound.’
13. casino Brag ‘Viennese Disco.’
14. Gone but not forgotten: Josef K ‘Sorry For Laughing’
15. Elf Power ‘Stranger in the window.’
16. Arran Arctic ‘The Door.’
17. French Wives ‘Me vs Me.’
18. Haight Ashbury ‘Freeman Town.’
19. Cover version of the week The Delgados ‘Mr. Blue Sky.’
20. Miaoux Miaoux ‘Knitted.’
21. eagleowl ‘morpheus.’

Album review : School of Seven Bells


School of Seven Bells – ‘Disconnect from desire’ (Vagrant records)

It’s now over twenty years since what many would consider the first shoegazing record, My Bloody Valentine’s isn’t Anything. Although it was by and large a British phenomenon originally, the Americans dubbed it dreampop, which was perhaps a better name, and which also spawned the current vogue for hymnagogic pop over the pond. School of Seven Bells’ last album Alpinisms had its’ moments but I feel they’ve made a quantum leap with their latest record.

Right from the off with recent single ‘Windstorm’ this is an album that begs for repeated playing. Not because it’s hard to get into -on the contrary- but because it’s the audio equivalent of moor-ish. once is never enough. If second track ‘Heart is Strange’ seems weak afterwards, persevere. because there are so many nuggets here, like ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and ‘Babelonia’ to name just two others that it really won’t matter.

The Brooklyn trio have delivered an album that continues their development of the shoegazing sound with some gorgeous electronica and I hope will prove not only a critical and blogger success, but also a long deserved commercial one, too.

Long may they flourish.


Disconnect from desire is out now.

School of Seven Bells -‘Bye Bye Bye.’ mp3

School of Seven Bells -‘Babelonia.’ mp3

Interview: AC Acoustics


Glasgow’s AC Acoustics were responsible for some very fine music indeed. Having just had their third album Understanding Music re-issued by Fire, I spoke to Mark Raine from the band, via email.

First of all, what have you been up to since we last heard from you?

Speaking for all of us, the main thing we have been up to is, missing being in a.c. acoustics [the band split up in 2003]. Having all been in bands before and after a.c. acoustics, it was the first time it really clicked. We enjoyed writing the songs together, rehearsing them together, were proud to play them together and ecstatic to see them on an album. On a more practical level, we have gone down slightly different paths. Caz and Dave are still playing in bands around Glasgow and both now manage pubs/music venues in the city. Paul still keeps his hand in music through his friendship with Brian Molko and has written some tracks with them. He presented a television programme in Scotland called ‘Trout and About’ which brought his two loves together, music and fly fishing and has now retrained and practicing as a lawyer. Mark also returned to university and has been in advertising for the last 10 years, his only musical foray being singing to his 18 month old son!

You formed in 1992 around Glasgow. What are your main memories of the early days of the band?

In the early days, we were very lucky to pick up a lot of relatively high profile support slots. To be honest, a lot of this was to do with our first manager who was the ents manager at a student union! The main memories are really around meeting bands that we were into at the time, That Petrol Emotion, PJ Harvey, Spacemen 3 etc. and a subsequent, burgeoning belief in the band’s ability and the fact that we could actually perform at this level.

Who (if anyone!) do you consider to have been your contemporaries, both in Glasgow and further afield?

At the time we were close to Placebo and Ash and therefore, although perhaps not musically, we saw them as contemporaries. Other bands that were around at the time that were perhaps musically closer were bands like dEUS, Cable, Bivouac, Swervedriver and Pavement. Glasgow was/is extremely vibrant musically. We seemed to find a slot in between scenes. By the time we’d got into our stride, we were a late and a bit heavy for the Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits, Pastels scene and a bit early for the Mogwai, Arab Strap, Delgados, Ganger scene. We were kind of in the middle. There were Glasgow bands at the time with a similar sound but didn’t seem to garner enough steam for it to be a scene, Motor Life Co and Eska.

You had two entries in John Peel’s hallowed Festive Fifty, with ‘I Messiah Am Jailer’ and ‘Stunt Girl.’ How important was John Peel to A C Acoustics?

Incredibly important. We were fans of his/in awe of him before the band, during the band and still are. For him to provide us with our ‘breakthrough’ was magic. We were very lucky to do 4 Peel Sessions, a live recording from Groningen in Holland and spent a handful of nights with him, usually at festivals. When you read about how nice he was and how passionate about music he was, in our brief experience with him, it doesn’t nearly do him justice.

Who else do you consider to be important to your career, in terms of supporting you?

Throughout our time in the band there have always been people who have been very important to us. Without wanting to list everyone who ever helped us, here’s a quick ‘thank you’ list: Mike Daley, Tav Stevens, Steve Strange, Steve Lamacq, King Coffey, Jo Whiley, Doug Smith, McDee, Lady Lu, Stewart Cruikshank, Dave McGeechan, Geoff Ellis, Nick Evans, Rob Collins and now John Foster. They and many others have shown an overwhelming belief in the band and the music over the years.

Which acts do you feel are indebted to the sound of A C Acoustics?

That is a huge claim and I don’t think we could ever suggest that any act is indebted to us. There are bands around who are writing songs I wish I could have written so I imagine they, in some little way, might be quite close to the sound we had, bands like Biffy Clyro who have written some fantastic songs, Snow Patrol have some wonderful moments and Pheonix who manage to combine ‘leftfield’ and pop extremely well. Although, on the other hand, they may have never even heard of us!

Do you think the word ‘indie’ still means something in 2010? (I ask because I think it is still important as an ethos, but quite often abused as a term)

I think ‘indie’ is now only associated with a musical style. Previously, possibly filtered down by Elemental Records and Nick Evans, we very much had an independent ethic as well as a sound. We were massively conflicted by approaches from EMI and, although a huge independent label at the time, really wanted to move to One Little Indian (whilst still coming under the Elemental subsidiary). We felt that the independent labels mirrored our beliefs and best suited our style. We felt they believed us. Money wise it may have been better to sign to EMI but career wise I think we made the right decision to hold out for One Little Indian. What it meant was that there was a middle layer of bands who could exist without becoming mega stars. Now it seems like you are either nothing or headlining arenas. The middle layer seems to have disappeared, possibly along with the meaning of ‘indie’.

Do you still consider yourselves part of the music scene in Glagsow (or did you ever?)

We very much wanted to be but as I mentioned earlier, we kind of filled a slot in between scenes. We were very proud to be from Glasgow and proud of the music coming out of Glasgow, Mogwai in particular were doing something very different and doing it very well, Belle and Sebastian were also getting into their stride and making some great music. Not sure whether it was to do with us as individuals or the sound we had and the ambitions for the band but it is probably a bit of a regret that we didn’t get more involved in the ‘Glasgow scene’. In hindsight we did sit on the periphery a bit.

What music currently being made do you rate?

Love the Phoenix record.
Love (and I was surprised) the Coldplay record. Think they’ve worn me down.
Love the Soulsavers record.
Love the David Kitt record.
Love the dEUS record.
Love the Go Team record.
Love the Port O’Brien record.
Love the Animal Collective record.
Love the Arcade Fire record.
And, although not current, am loving Nick Drake and Belle and Sebastian right now.

Would you change anything about your career as A C Acoustics?
I wish we had stuck at it longer.
I wish we had become a better live band, earlier in our career. Laterly, we were a fantastic live band.
I wish we’d appreciated each other more.
I wish we’d understood more about the music industry (although we were well looked after).
I wish we’d been braver in our choice of singles.
I wish we’d played live every single week, even if it was just to 10 people.
But really, we loved every single minute of it.

Understanding Music is out now on Fire.

AC Acoustics -‘Chinese Summer.’ mp3

Presenting…Arran Arctic


Arran Arctic is one Arran Southall, who according to his myspace “sings, records, programs, produces and plays acoustic/electric guitar, violin, pedal organ, accordion, concertina, harpsichord, recorder, tin whistle, drums, percussion, metal pipe xylophone, wine glasses, piano and xeremia.”

An email from him dropped into my inbox after I last switched off my computer. So intrigued was I by the story of this young man (see his website for more) that I’ve played his free single at least three times already this morning. And it’s made my playlist for Thursday night’s show on the radio.

This is beautiful, haunting stuff to lose yourself in. Go and download these tracks -but you only have two weeks, as they will be replaced by a brand new single.

Arran Arctic -‘The Door.’ mp3

Arran Arctic -‘The Door (Beatoven remix).’ mp3

Arran Arctic website/Arran Arctic myspace

Gig Review: Mitchell Museum/White Heath

Mitchell Museum/White Heath, Electric Circus, Edinburgh; August 12, 2010

Last summer, two fine Scottish bands were bought to my attention, whose work I have featured regularly here on 17 Seconds and who I hope to continue to do so. They are (like the heading at the top didn’t give it away!) White Heath and Mitchell Museum. White Heath are currently recording their debut with Jim Sutherland for release late this year or early next year; Mitchell Museum’s debut the Peters Port Memorial Service is out now.

This is the third time I have seen White Heath in the last six months and it is clear that they have grown considerably I confidence. Of all the albums I am looking forward to being released over the next six months, this is undoubtedly one of the top. Their audience is growing too (and if they’d like to shut up between songs, some of them, that’d be nice too!) It’s a year since their debut EP appeared and the songs have continued to evolve too. Songs from the EP like ‘Election Day’ and ‘7:38’ sit comfortably alongside new songs like ‘Gigi’ and the closing ‘Blue.’

Mitchell Museum‘s profile has also grown over the last year, and last month they were on the front cover of Scotland’s The Skinny magazine, which is a sign of making inroads on the music scene. They start with album opener ‘We Won 2nd Prize.’ They do a good gig, I just wish that singer Cammy didn’t seem so nervous. I realise that it’s easier to play the keyboards from behind them than in front (for fairly obvious reasons!) but he is a man with the mark of a natural frontman. Relax, bro.

You can also tell a lot about a band by the songs they cover – I sincerely hope that I will be able to get my hands on at least an mp3 of their cover of M.I.A.’s ‘paper Planes’ because it’s a fine reworking. It sits well with the songs from their debut such as the title track and singles like ‘Take The Tongue Out’ ‘Tigers Heartbeat’ and ‘Warning Bells.’

Immaterial that these guys are from Scotland (or Siberia, for all i care), they have produced some excellent stuff and I look forward to watching them continue to grow. Sometime soon, then, guys?

Mitchell Museum -‘Mission 1.’ mp3

White Heath -‘Gigi (17 seconds session).’ mp3

A song for the end of the weekend


Athens, Georgia has thrown up some very fine bands over the years, most notably REM, but also the B52s (and the Indigo Girls were ‘almost’ part of that scene too). One band that I still kinda mean to check out that I’m really lagging behind on is Elf Power.

I’ve heard bits of their stuff other the years, but on the basis of this track, taken from their forthcoming self-titled album (which is, umm, their tenth in sixteen years MUST TRY HARDER!!) I will be diving deep into their back catalogue.

See what you think. And I’m more than likely to be giving this a spin on my radio show this Thursday.

Stranger in the Window by Deus Ex Machina Publicity

I’ve had a very nice day -and this wraps up my weekend very nicely…

Elf Power website/myspace

The return of Broken Records!


Broken Records, who I have long championed here at 17 Seconds (first reveiwing them in August 2007) will release their sophomore album Let Me Come Home on October 25.

As with their debut Until the Earth Begins To Part, it will be released by 4AD. Let Me Come Home was recorded in Glasgow with producer Tony Doogan, who’s also worked with other Scottish legends such as Mogwai, the Delgados and Belle & Sebastian. It features guest vocals by Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow and the Workshop, and artwork by the legendary Vaughan Oliver of v23. A new single, ‘A Darkness Rises Up’ will be released on October 18th.

You can download the opening track ‘A Leaving Song’ when you sign up to their mailing list here, which seems very reasonable.

They are playing as part of the Edge Festival in Edinburgh at the Liquid Rooms on August 28 (supported by Sparrow and the Workshop), and also on September 23 at Arthur’s Day, Dublin (Venue TBC) and September 28th at Hoxton Bar & Grill, London. A tour will be announced shortly.

Check out the fab new song (see link above). Meanwhile, if you still haven’t heard this, shame on you!

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

Broken Records’ website/myspace

Live on Fresh Air!

dj-ed-juppTune into Fresh Air and I’ll update the show as I go along!

1. David Bowie ‘Life on Mars?’
2. Chris Bradley ‘Not What it was.’
3. Steel Pulse ‘Ku Klux Klan.’
4. Q Without U ‘Papercuts.’
5. Best Coast ‘Boyfriend.’
6. The Pop Group ‘We Are All Prostitutes.’
7. Call To Mind ‘A9.’
8. The Last Battle ‘Ruins’ (live in session for 17 Seconds)
9. Viv Albertine ‘Never Come.’
10. Withered Hand ‘No Cigarettes.’
11. The Last Battle ‘Lifejackets.’ (live in session for 17 Seconds)
12. Veronica Falls ‘Beachy Head.’
13. Pearl and the Puppets ‘ Because I Do.’
14. The Last Battle ‘August.’ (live in session for 17 Seconds)
15. Delorean ‘ Stay Close.’
16. The Last Battle ‘Soul of the Sea.’ (live in session for 17 Seconds)
17. Gone but not forgotten: The Delgados ‘No Danger (kids choir).’
18. Cover version of the week: Camera Obscura ‘Super Trouper.’
19. Mitchell Museum ‘We won 2nd Prize.’
20. Album of the month Aberfeldy Somewhere to jump from: Aberfeldy ‘In Denial.’
21. The Burns Unit ‘Send them Kids To War.’

Oh I want the Best Coast album…


Having blogged about Bethany Consantino AKA Best Coast last December, I’m very chuffed to see that her album seems to be getting so much love in the blogosphere and further afield. It may only be August, but you sense ‘end of year poll’ and ‘Best Coast’ may through up a lot in google search at the end of the year.

Now, I have yet to get my mucky paws on a copy of Crazy For You (hell, I’m probably going to be laying my limited credibility on the line by admitting that I don’t have the latest Arcade Fire album yet), but this track is doing the rounds as a legal freebie and will hopefully give you a taste of what she’s all about.

Best Coast -‘Boyfriend.’ mp3

Pure gorgeous, no?

And if you like what you hear, may I suggest visiting here for more best Coast mp3s.

Go and make friends, too…