New from Lana Del Rey


It was slightly scary last year how quickly the knives were out for Lana Del Rey, considering how ‘cool’ she had been a matter of weeks earlier. One not particularly amazing Saturday Night Live performance and you would have thought that she’d ripped up a picture of the Pope like Sinead O’Connor (actually that was an overreaction that had nothing to do with spiritual leadership and a lot to do with misogyny). Her debut album was ok, but because she hadn’t delivered a masterpiece, well she’d obviously let everyone down, hadn’t she? Not to mention using a stage name? I mean, Elvis Costello or Bob Dylan wouldn’t get away with that, would they…oh, hang on.

Anyway, for those of you who have four minutes to spare, check out her version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel #2.’ Simple, haunting and very, very beautiful…

Here is Mr. Cohen’s original:

As far as I can establish, at the time of writing the Lana Del Rey version is not available to buy yet.

There’s an interesting piece on the hotel itself (yes, it is a real place!) here

Album Review:Strokes


Strokes -‘Comedown Machine’ (Rough Trade)

There’s a popular school of thought that says that The Strokes’ first album was their best, and that it has been a diminishing set of returns ever since. It isn’t, however, one I would subscribe to. I personally hold their sophomore album Room On Fire to be their best (yes, I know I’m in the minority. Like, whatever.) Even First Impressions Of Earth had some excellent tracks. But the solo projects and the fourth album Angles left me cold.

So, it’s actually rather great to be able to report that their fifth album sees the band sounding better and more refreshed than they have done in, well, pretty much a decade. There’s an eighties and electro feel to this record, right from the opening ‘Tap Out.’ And it holds its way pretty much through the album which includes other awesome songs like ‘Happy Ending’ and ‘One Way trigger’ . An

I say pretty much, because I’m really not sure about album closer ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ which seems to be from a completely different album, one where hipsters try to recreate a 70s stoner album. No matter. It’s great to hear them sounding like they want to be together. Twelve years on from their debut, Julain Casablancas and the gang show that the faith invested in them all those years ago was justified.


Comedown Machine is out now on Rough Trade.

The return of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Yup, in the same week that The Strokes unleash their fifth album, Comedown Machine upon us so the Yeah Yeah Yeahs unleash the video for ‘Sacrilege’ the first single from their forthcoming fourth album Mosquito.

It stars Lily Cole, it acknowledges several horror flicks (most notably the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and it’s probably NSFW (though I guess that depends where you work, doesn’t it?)

Mosquito is released on April 15.

Gig review: Roddy Woomble/Snowgoose

Roddy Woomble/Snowgoose
Edinburgh Electric Circus, March 24

Glasgow’s Snowgoose are a five-piece, but tonight it’s singer Anna Sheard and guitarist Jim McCulloch who are here, representing the band. Despite the usual handful of people who won’t shut up (for God’s sake!), their gorgeous sound wins over the crowd. Ms Sheard has a voice comparable to the late Sandy Denny, and the guitar-picking of Jim McCulloch is a perfect foil and accompaniment for her. Yes, it’s folky, and it’s warm and lovely.

The band released their debut album Harmony Springs last year and tonight’s set is drawn from both it and the new record they are working on. Songs like ‘Fox On the Tracks’ ‘Shifting Sands’ and the album’s title track are simply bewitching. If we don’t hear more from these guys, then something’s wrong with the world.

I have to confess to not being terribly enamoured with Roddy Woomble’s latest solo effort, Listen To Keep, but live, he and his band deliver a fantastic set. Opening with ‘A New Day Has Begun’ from his 2011 album The Impossible Song & Other Songs, the crowd receive him with warmth, which he returns. ‘We have a new album out,’ he quips.’ You can either buy it at what record shops remain or download it illegally.’ He’s got a great sense of humour, and it’s quite clear that the crowd adore him.

It’s a pretty diverse crowd here, and sure there’s people who would love him to bring Idlewild back, but there’s a lot of singing along with the increasing back catalogue of solo material. ‘Waverly Steps’ from his solo debut My Secret Is My Silence and new songs like ‘Treacle and Tobacco’ stand strong together, and the encore is inevitably the real treat.

He bring’s on Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones for a version of ‘My Secret Is My Silence’ and then they do Idlewild’s biggest hit ‘You Held The World the World In Your Arms Tonight.’ It’s fantastic – and whatever paths Roddy Woomble and his erstwhile bandmates go down, I want to follow…

The return of Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

2013 just continues to be an amazing year for music. And amongst the list of acts who are putting out new albums this year are Vampire Weekend.

Their self-titled debut in 2008 was a delight, and Contra, the follow-up in 2010 wasn’t bad either (opening track ‘Horchata’ aside). Now they are about to unleash their third album Modern Vampires Of The City.

It’s due out at the beginning of May and there’s a double A-side ‘Diane Young’/’Step’ now available:

Bring it on…



I’ve been enjoying Savages’ rather fine debut single from last year ‘Flying To Berlin’/’Husbands’ for quite some time so it was rather a shock to discover that I hadn’t actually written about the band yet.

So, I can take no credit for discovering them, and am probably not so much a bandwagon-jumper as a johnny-come-lately. I mean, they played their first gig as long ago as January 2012!

…actually, that’s pretty recent when you think about it, isn’t it? And The Guardian wrote about them last year that Jehnny Beth (vocals), Ayse Hassan (bass), Fay Milton (drums) and Gemma Thompson (guitar) might actually be the first guitar band in ages worth caring about.

They evoke the best of post-punk scene of the last seventies and early eighties – but they sound fresh and vital. And when so much guitar music often just seems like a stake rehash, that’s a very good thing. Comparisons have been drawn with Siouxise and the Banshees and the Slits, neither of which I would disagree with, though to these ears the band they most remind me of is The Au Pairs. With a nod to the Raincoats.

This is the b-side of the debut single from last year:

The band are now signed to Matador and their debut album Silence Yourself will be released on May 6. The tracklisting is as follows:

1. Shut Up
2. I Am Here
3. City’s Full
4. Strife
5. Waiting For A Sign
6. Dead Nature
7. She Will
8. No Face
9. Hit Me
10. Husbands
11. Marshal Dear

‘She Will’ is available digitally now, check it out below:

Sigur Ros: new video, new album, new tour


Sigur Ros have announced the release of their seventh album this June, entitled Kveikur.

Their first album as a trio, the album will be released on June 17, and the Icelandic band have premiered the video for the first track to be released from the album – ‘Brenninstein’ – today.

If Sigur Ros have been lumped in with the ‘post-rock’ (discuss) movement, then the emphasis with this track is on the rock. It’s far harder sounding than anything else they’ve produced so far, but it still sounds like Sigur Ros. The video is -as you’d hope and expect- slightly disturbing, hard to make sense of and yet oddly beautiful at the same time.

The single can be downloaded (for the princely sum of £2) from here. The tracklisting for the album can be found here and the tour dates can be found here.

And it would be good to know what you think…

The return of Melvins


I think – like a lot of people of my generation – I first heard of Melvins (not ‘The’ apparently) because Kurt Cobain name-checked them (see also The Vaselines and the Meat Puppets).

They are about to release a covers album called Everybody Loves Sausages, which has has been described as an unconventional covers album. This is, after all, the band who covered ‘Dies Irae’ from The Shining and did it rather well.

Their cover of Queen’s ‘You’re My Best Friend’ can be streamed over at Noisey.

The full album tracklisting is as follows, with some rather ace guests and an interesting (in a good way ) choice of covers:

1. Warhead (Venom; Guest: Scott Kelly of Neurosis)
2. You’re My Best Friend (Queen; Guest: Caleb Benjamin of Tweak Bird)
3. Black Betty (Original artist unknown) (hear them covering it here)
4. Set It On Fire (The Scientists; Guest: Mark Arm)
5. Station To Station (David Bowie; Guest: JG Thirlwell)
6. Attitude (The Kinks: Guest: Clem Burke of Blondie)
7. Female Trouble (Divine, written by John Waters) (hear them covering it here)
8. Carpe Diem (The Fugs) (hear it here)
9. Timothy Leary Lives (Pop-O-Pies)
10. In Every Dream Home A Heartache (Roxy Music; Guests: Jello Biafra and Kevin Rutmanis)
11. Romance (Tales of Terror)
12. Art School (The Jam; Guest: Tom Hazelmeyer)
13. Heathen Earth (Throbbing Gristle)

Everybody Loves Sausages is released on April 29 on Ipecac.

Album Review: Roddy Woomble


Roddy Woomble: ‘Listen To Keep’ (Reveal Records)

Sigh. I first heard Roddy Woomble’s music back in 1997. Ironically, I picked up the 7″ of ‘Queen Of The Troubled Teens’ expecting it to sound like a folky band because of the girl on the front cover wearing an outsized woolly jumper. I wasn’t expecting the record that I put on, memorably described by NME as ‘sounding like flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs.’ Anyway, I fell for Idlewild, saw them several times, rejoiced when they got big and felt aggrieved when they parted company with their record company around 2007.

And I was intrigued by his growth into folk, loved his debut solo album My Secret Is My Silence, and basically went and checked out the Incredible String Band because he said they were his favourite Scottish band. When he collaborated with Kris Drever and John McCusker for Before The Ruin.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? Look: I have really tried to like this album, and having been a fan for so many years, I feel almost like I am betraying him by saying this – but the reality is I don’t rate this album at all. It starts off ok, and then just descends into blandness.

The opening track ‘Making Myths’ is ok, but the thought that struck me as I neared my second playing was ‘this is like a poor version of Deacon Blue.’ God knows, the man has made some brilliant records over the years – and Mrs. 17 Seconds has long held up Idlewild at the Usher Hall in 2005 as one of the best gigs she ever went to. I’ll probably try and give this a few more listens, more out of loyalty than because I enjoy it. But even just typing this review makes me feel sad.

Listen To Keep is out now on Reveal Records.

Album Review: Low


Low -‘The Invisible Way’ (Subpop)

This year Low celebrate twenty years together as a band, and The Invisible Way is their tenth album. Recorded with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in the producer’s chair, as you’ve almost certainly been aware of for months now, the big issue will be: how does it differ from previous Low records?

In the pre-release bumpf that has come ahead of the release, Low’s frontman Alan Sparhawk has made the three points about how he sees it differing:

– Mimi sings lead on five of the eleven songs (she usually only does one or two, despite being a fan favorite).
– Piano, lots of piano… and an acoustic guitar.
– Songs about intimacy, the drug war, the class war, plain old war war, archeology, and love.

Mind you, John Peel used to say about The Fall that they were always different and always the same. The above points are all true, but it doesn’t stop it from sounding like Low. Indeed, the only band who have come close to sounding like Low are eagleowl.

Low were sometimes described as being ‘sadcore’ and there are moments like the opening ‘Plastic Cup’ where they seem to be dwelling on the futility of existence ‘Now they make you piss into a plastic cup…the cup will probably be here long after we’re gone.’ I have no idea what this references, yet somehow it’s achingly beautiful. And there’s always a surprise element to Low as well. Just as the opening salvo of ‘Monkey’ and ‘California’ indicated that they were not making another album that sounded like Things We Lost In The Fire or Trust on The Great Destroyer back in 2005, so here the intoning of ‘Happy Birthday Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!’ on the penultimate ‘On My Own’ seems almost incongruous – yet strangely, just like Low.

Long may they be Low. And long may they surprise and delight us.


The Invisible Way is out now on Subpop

Low -‘So Blue.’ mp3

Low -‘Just Make It Stop.’ mp3