The Godlike Genius of Luke Haines

Who else but Luke Haines would release an album called Rock’n’ Roll Animals?


Well, Lou Reed did a live album called Rock’n’Roll Animal – but while it featured live versions of songs like ‘Heroin’ and ‘White Light/White Heat’ it wasn’t a concept album like the latest album from Luke Haines. Rock’n’roll Animals is not only a concept album, it’s about three music stars of times past. To whit: ‘Jimmy Pursey [Sham 69] is a frisky fox; Nick Lowe – a solid badger and Gene Vincent – a cat who’s seen a bit more of life than most of us.’ It’s 32 minutes of whimsy and acerbic whit from Mr. Haines in which they take on the Angel Of The North.

Do yourself a favour and buy it.

He is responsible for one of the best autobiographies about (or by) a musician I have ever read- Bad Vibes is essential- and is a consummate windup merchant. . In 1996, whilst The Auteurs were on hiatus, he released an album under the monkier Baader-Meinhof, about…terrorism.

This song, ‘Child Psychology’ from his time as one-third of Black Box Recorder became one of the few songs to get banned from the radio. Apparently the chorus of ‘life is unfair/kill yourself or get over it’ was a bridge too far (no gag intended).

The Auteurs were awesome, and if I had to pick one of their tracks, it would be this one -‘The Rubettes’- which shows his savvy appropriation of pop culture, and why no-one else could be more caustic than him.

Oh, and his album 21st Century Man is one of the best albums released in the 7 year history of this blog. I would give my right arm to interview him, though I think I would probably be reduced to be a stuttering nervous wreck. He is unlikely to assent. Ah well…

UPDATE: contacted by Mr. Haines via twitter and his record company to arrange an interview! Watch this space…

Does there have to be a reason?


It’s perhaps to my shame that I haven’t featured more classical and jazz music on here in 7 years of the blog. Not in a ‘hey, I’m arty and sophisticated’ way but more because I’ve always loved classical music and grown to love jazz over the years as well.

So yes, there may be more featured here as the years go by.

However, it is getting harder to feature music. Bizarrely the classical piece I was going to feature today is, apparently copyrighted (which is ironic as the composer, Gabriel Faure has been dead since 1924).

Instead, ‘Lion Hat’ by Unicorn Kid, an awesome instrumental is the choice for today. Enjoy, please support – and spread the word!

Unicorn Kid -‘Lion Hat.’ mp3

Presenting…Baby Strange


Just what is it about three-pieces?

Glasgow’s Baby Strange are Johnny Madden (guitar and vocals) and the McCann brothers Connaire (drums) drums and Aidan (bass). They formed in Glasgow only last year and the wave of publicity surrounding these three is building. On the basis of the tunes so far, that’s entirely justified. They take a love of bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and thumb their noses at bands they perceive have ripped off Biffy Clyro (at least , according to this week’s NME).

They released a single ‘Pure Evil’ earlier this year (find it on iTunes) and will release the follow up ‘Friend’ on September 9.

Baby Strange -‘Pure Evil.’

Here is the video:

Baby Strange -‘Friend.’

Here is the video:

Turn it up and play it LOUD!
Three is the magic number, still, it would seem…

The return of Epitonic


Twin Shadow, one of many artists featured on epitonic

Nearly ten years ago, when I first got a broadband connection, one of the main reasons was so that I could download music quickly, and (mostly) legally. There are those who will tell you that downloads spelt the death of the music industry – well, seeing as there have been more singles so far sold this year than last year (which was the record year for sales), that suggests that’s false. Yes, it may have had a devastating effect on record shops, but the savvy ones adapted (and some of the old dinosaurs had been ripping people off for years).

Two sites, insound and epitonichad masses of free downloads and they were – and are legal, too. epitonic has been rebooted, and I have to say with awesome music included. This should not stand as a way of giving up buying from record shops but a way of well, not sucking and see (yes, yes, ha ha) but certainly to hear something and go and try it out for yourselves. Also, I like the ‘like this? try this’ approach

Here’s some of what I’ve picked up this evening from epitonic (NB left click!)

Fleetwood Mac -‘Dreams (Walter Sobcek mix).’ mp3

Dykehouse -‘Chainsmoking.’ mp3

Twin Shadow -‘Five Seconds.’ mp3

And if any of the DMCA Nasiz turn up: these are legal. Why not put your energies into looking for people who destroy lives on the internet. Eh?

The welcome return of the Manic Street Preachers


It’s now more than twenty years since the Manic Street Preachers appeared. In early 1991, they were completely out of step with the times, and revelling in it. In an indie world which had yet to completely get to grips with grunge, and was more involved with the post-Madchester fallout that was baggy and the far more interesting shoegazing scene, the Manics were articulate, intelligent and more than a little bit confrontational.

I was fourteen when they appeared, and even before I’d heard a note of their music (remember: no internet QED no spotify, iTunes or file-sharing then) I was mesmerised. It would be many years before I saw them live (alas, not until 1998 – but several times subsequently), and the band continued to grow.

Ironically, for a band who promised to release a double album and then split up (I had that on in the van at work today, Generation Terrorists has dated very well), they are shortly to release their twelfth LP Rewind The Film.

The first single to be taken from it is ‘Show Me The Wonder.’ The band have had a huge number of chart singles, and I don’t see why this shouldn’t follow. It’s gorgeous and summery, and manages to do what 2001’s ‘So Why So Sad’ didn’t quite pull off…

This, meanwhile, is the title track, featuring vocals from Richard Hawley.

New from The Last Battle

THe Last Battle 2013

It’s been nearly three years since I had the pleasure of being involved in putting the first Last Battle album Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea out on 17 Seconds Records.

The band have been working on their sophomore album for a while now, with various line-up changes but a lot of gigging and some excellent fruits of their labours appearing here and there.

This is their new single ‘Wherever Our Feet Take Us’ which sows them continuing to evolve, unmistakeably the Last Battle and yet making leaps and bounds from their earliest recordings. Check it out, it also comes with a live version of ‘Nature’s Glorious Rage’ the song that drew me to them in the very first place.

Then go and buy it, obviously!!

The Last Battle are about to had out on the road, starting at Edinburgh’s Wee Red Bar this Thursday.

The return of Withered Hand

Withered Hand

Photo Laura Lewis

Dan Willson, AKA Withered hand is due to release the long-awaited follow-up to his Good News LP in 2014.

Having released a couple of EPs – Heart Heart and Inbetweens last year, he is shortly to release a split single with Charles Latham, on Hangover Lounge Records.

Dan’s song is ‘King of Hollywood’ a garage version (as in punk rather than UK 2step -though that would be, umm, different) of a track from the forthcoming album.

Meanwhile, he will be playing a very special gig in Edinburgh during August. Read about his gig with support from The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly and the Second Hand Marching Band here.

Act quickly on the single, limited to 150 copies, try Avalanche Records in Edinburgh, Rough Trade in London and the website

Does there have to be a reason?

It’s sweltering here in Scotland.

This fits the mood quite nicely, I think. The Style Council boxset is out now, which looks rather tempting.

…was Brideshead Revisited an influence on this video, do we think? (Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons’ TV version, as opposed to purely just the novel by Evelyn Waugh).

Brideshead Revisited

Paul Weller and Mick Talbot…oh hang on…

Presenting…Adam Stafford

Adam Stafford

I first encountered Adam Stafford as the frontman of Y’all Is Fanatsy Island and then solo playing support to The Twilight Sad eighteen months ago. And when people talk about Adam Stafford performing solo, he does, working with his guitar and effects units and looping – it’s really something to behold live, as well as on record.

He’s just about to release his second solo album Imaginary Walls Collapse on Edinburgh’s Song, by Toad Records. To my shame I am still working through a lot of stuff but this track is the free download and it is brilliant. If you like this, go and buy the album (available on vinyl – yum!)

This is an earlier track called ‘Vanishing Tanks’ released on Gerry Loves Records, also based in Edinburgh.

17 Seconds is 7!

Ed 2011

Yours truly in 2011

Well, who would have thought it?

17 Seconds is seven years old. And whilst I’m not always able to write every day, it’s a pleasure to do it as it still gives me the chance to do two things I still really enjoy: going on about music and writing.

And that’s lead to me writing for several online publications, being able to interview bands, get sent a ridiculous amount of music, be a judge for the Glastonbury unsigned competition, present a show on the local student radio, put on shows…if someone had told me when I was twenty I’d get to do this, I would have been thrilled. But I still am.

I still struggle with technology, and wish I was more savvy with stuff. But thanks to those of you who read, link, comment or whatever. Particularly my wife, and my Parents, but many more of you.

So for today, here’s seven tracks I love. Enjoy…

The Fat Lady Sings -‘Drunkard Logic.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED

Captain Beefheart -‘Ice Cream For Crow.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED

Emmylou Harris -‘Cattle Call.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED

Arctic Monkeys -‘Leave Before The Lights Come On.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED

Gil Scott-Heron ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED

Junior Murvin -‘Police & Thieves.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED

Young Marble Giants -‘Final Day.’ mp3 LINK REMOVED