Forthcoming in Glasgow!

Next Wednesday will see one of Mrs. 17 Seconds’ favourite bands coming to Glasgow.

Flogging Molly – for it is them – headline the Fireball tour, which also features The Bronx and Face To Face, at the Glasgow 02 Academy on December 5. If you haven’t heard Flogging Molly before, then their combination of punk and Irish folk has parallels with the likes of Dropkick Murphy’s and The Pogues, but there’s something pretty distinctive about them.

If you haven’t heard them before, give them a listen… I can’t find original videos but to be honest this is a band you want to get up and dance to, rather than sit watching!

Christmas Posts 2018 #4

So, my attempt to include new tracks as well as old this year, continues with Glasgow’s The Raptors. Formed earlier this year, the band include the Ramones, the New York Dolls, and the Runaways among their influences. They released their debut single ‘Death Becomes Her’/’Teen Witch’ in August and promise a new double single in the new year. The band are Becca (guitar and vocals), Jane (guitar and vocals), Jack (drums and howls (sic))  and Juana (bass and vocals).

The band have just put out a special Christmas track, entitled ‘It’s Christmas (Have A Rock’n;Roll Time)’ which is a whole heap of fun and attitude, with the threat of falling apart any second. Whether it does or not will require you to listen to the track…

Christmas Posts 2018 #3

I have featured the Wedding Present many times here over the years, and rate them hugely as a band. That’s singer and Weddoes Mainman David Gedge who can be seen above. Their first contribution come from their 1992 single ‘No Christmas/Step Into Christmas.’ The story of this single and its place in Wedding Present history has been told many times so enjoy the music – can be found on the Hit Parade compilation.

And yes ‘Step Into Christmas’ is indeed the Elton John song. The Weddoes have done a number of great cover versions over the last thirty years, though it seems unfair to purely focus on these when David Gedge is such as amazing songwriter himself…but I give you this.

In 2008, the year they topped the 17 Seconds Festive 50 chart with ‘The Trouble With Men’ the band released this gorgeous single.

Christmas Posts 2018 #2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the imminent Christmas album from RM Hubbert and Aidan Moffat. The album Ghost Stories For Christmas comes out on December 7. In the meantime, they have released another track from the album entitled ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas.’ And it’s really rather lovely…Check out the lyric video below.

…as I said yesterday, it’s my plan to make sure I post some new Christmas tracks this year, as well as repeating some that have previously been on here.

As always, there is debate about what constitutes a Christmas song. Many years ago (alright, 2009, but it seems like another lifetime ago) I argued that ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell is a Christmas song. Some songs become Christmassy by affiliation, quite often because they first became hits at Christmastime (in the UK at least), a list which might include Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power Of Love,’ East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’ and of course ‘Only You.’ ‘Only You’ started life as a synth ballad by Yazoo  before being redone as an a capella version by Flying Pickets and becoming the Christmas no.1 in 1983. So, there’s something quite Christmassy by association – but maybe this lovely version by Aidan and Hubby will mean that it is seen as being a ‘Christmas song.’ Whatever, it’s lovely…



Christmas Posts 2018 #1

It’s that time of year again! Just after last Christmas (no gag intended) Mrs. 17 Seconds and I tied the knot. Hailing from Indiana, she’s as big a fan of Christmas music as I am, and may well even be doing some guest posts on the blog.

Now, I’ve posted this before, but I figured, as it’s almost a tradition, that I would start my posts off with it again this year. I am sure there will be plenty of new tracks (to this blog, and indeed out this year) but here we go!

Yup, it’s that time of year again, and with a mere calendar month to go until the day itself, I give you Housewives On Prozac with ‘I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall.’

Housewives On Prozac are Martha Joy Rose, Kyleann Burtt, Donna Kelly, Jane Getter, and Susan Graham. Led by Joy Rose (check out her website here, she’s led a very impressive life) this track ‘I Broke My Arm Christmas Shopping At The Mall’ is one of my favourite Christmas (or should that be ‘anti-‘ Christmas?) songs. And the perfect way to start this series of posts.

The track is available to download from iTunes. Go and buy it!

The return of George McFall

Now, I did write about this over at God Is In The TV, but it’s such a great track that I had to share it here as well.

George McFall has announced that he will release his new album XIV: Surrounder (sic)on February 1 next year. His last album God Save The Clean was released in 2012. It will be released on Tenement Records, who have also released acclaimed records by the likes of Aberfeldy and Dominic Waxing Lyrical.

Ahead of the album’s release, the first track to be made available is ‘Autumn.’
‘Autumn’ is a wonderfully dark single, fitting in perfectly as the nights seem to get ever longer, and fitting in with the peculiarly Scottish melancholia of the likes of Mogwai and Twilight Sad, and processed through the post-punk electric sounds of the likes of Gary Numan and John Foxx-era Ultravox. It has been described as a soundtrack to youthful oblivion; a moving reflection on age, death, rebirth and the passage of time. This is perfectly encapsulated by the video. The single is released on November 30.

The album was written and recorded by George at his Tottenham studio and Ali Moniak‘s Arcadia Audio studio in Edinburgh, and drums were played by Murray Briggs (Oi Polloi, Aberfeldy) and Ali Moniack (Kling Klang). The album was mixed by Aaron Cupples (the Drones, Civil Civic, Kirin j Callinan).

Amongst the titles unveiled so far for the album are covers of the main theme from the Incredible String Band‘s ‘A Very Cellular Song‘ and Dominic Waxing Lyrical’s ‘Change,’ ‘Practice,’ ‘Nargo‘ and album-closer ‘Norman.’

Album Review – Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance – ‘Dionysus’ (Dead Can Dance/PIAS)

There are certain phrases guaranteed to make even the most seasoned music reviewer clammy with sweat and dread: ‘our music is actually really hard to categorize’ is pretty near the top of the list. Yet the duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry’s music is genuinely hard to pin down.

That’s not to say it’s unlistenable. Far from it. The reality is that over the course of nearly forty years they have drawn from a truly global pool of inspiration, whilst managing to avoid to either a) repeat themselves or b) produce something that sounds like worthy-but dull ‘world’ music.

Even the fact that this is a concept album (though not, as Brendan Perry was at pains to point out to me, in the style of a seventies progressive rock concept album) cannot destroy what is a very special album.

Dionysus – also known as Bacchus – was the ancient Greek God of wine. This album consists of seven pieces (they don’t really seem like songs) over the course of two acts which tell the story of the legend. Whilst both Perry and Gerrard have very striking voices, this is one where their own voices are used comparatively little, at least in the first Act. Instead of which, they use field recordings and chants, along with a vast array of folk instrumentation, which reaches right across the world, bringing in bird calls and European traditions along the way. Dead Can Dance probably weren’t what Mike Scott was talking about when he coined the term ‘The Big Music’ but even by their pretty high standards, this is music that is more than just widescreen.

Reportedly, this album took two years to research and record. That’s looking into the story, and researching the legend, and putting together something of gigantic scale, rather than getting sidetracked and not focusing on the matter at hand. In the process they have pulled off something with grandeur that feels spiritual rather than a folly of excess.

With Dionysus, Dead Can Dance have shown that not only are they one of the most original acts ever, but also that they are continuing to break new ground and reinventing the rule book. It’s been six years since the last album, Anastasis, over thirty since their self-titled debut, and they are still continuing to evolve as an act. A number of the instruments on this record are probably unfamiliar even to those who teach music, yet somehow it doesn’t matter.

A triumph.




Album Review – Trials Of Cato

Trials Of Cato -‘ Hide & Hair’ (Water Records)

As ever, there’s a huge amount of records arriving and begging to be listened to. As those end of year lists have to be made any day now, there are two British-made folk records that are due for inclusion on those lists. One is Stick In The Wheel’s Follow Them True. The other is the debut by Trials Of Cato, Hide & Hair. What these records both hold in common is the way that they incorporate centuries old British traditions with something more contemporary.

Having honed their skills playing in Beirut, the middle east joins with English and Welsh heritage here. The album’s opening track ‘Difyrrwch’ is a case in point: it is their own arrangement of two Welsh tunes and one English -‘Hen Ferchetan’, ‘Difyrrwch Gwyr y Gogledd,’ and ‘The Parson’s Farewell.’ There’s an honesty and sincereity within, and it’s something that has nothing whatsoever to indie kids trying to align themselves to something vaguely rootsy (thank God). There’s a mixture of original and traditional material within. In lesser hands a song like ‘Gawain’ with its inspiration of the medieval tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight really could have ended up a complete pig’s ear.  In the hands of this acclaimed folk trio it’s something special, evoking the way that say, Led Zeppelin would draw on traditional music (without, obviously, sounding anything like Zep whatsoever). It’s genuinely spine-tingling.

There are other highlights here – their cover of Graham Moore’s song ‘Tom Paine’s Bones’ is infectious, and evoking the man who stated that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard the natural rights of its people. Somehow, with the political situation in both Britain and America, this seems right on the money. This is in contrast to their version of a seventeeth century widow’s lament ‘My Love’s In Germany.’ It’s affecting and a display of their skill at harmonising as well as on their instruments. While it would be great to hope that the song would have a happy conclusion (think Laura Cantrell’s version of New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’)…umm, it doesn’t. Yet, it never descends into a dirge.

This is a wonderfully warm album, which it is easy to surrender to. It reminds us that folk isn’t just about preserving old traditions but applying them to the present day and combining those two strands well. Sure there’s a lot of music coming into the inbox, but this is an example of something that I keep making the time to listen to again and again.


Hide & Hair is released on November 9 on Water Records

Album Review – Bert Jansch

Bert Jansch – Just A Simple Soul (BMG)

Just a simple soul, perhaps, but what a guitarist.

Whilst there have been a number of Bert Jansch compilations over the years, Just A Simple Soul is significant for covering Jansch’s career over five decades. (It focuses on the solo years, rather than the Pentangle releases.) It has been assembled by Jansch’s estate and Bernard Butler, one-time Suede guitarist and David McAlmont collaborator. Butler knew Jansch well and he contributes the liner notes here.

There’s no doubt that the legendary Scot had a good voice – but it was his spectacular skill as a guitarist that he will be most remembered for. This compilation brings together 39 tracks, presented here in chronological order. His debut self-titled album (sometimes referred to as the  ‘Blue Album’) has three tracks here, including the instrumental ‘Angie’ and the harrowing ‘Needle Of Death.’ No prizes for guessing that the latter is about heroin – it concerns a folk singer friend of his called Buck Polly who died of an overdose. It’s one of his best-known songs – the darkness within is echoed in tracks like Nick Drake (one of many who claimed Jansch as an influence) and Drake’s song ‘Black Eyed Dog.’

The 1960s were a prolific period for Jansch, producing six albums between his debut and 1969, by which time he had formed the legendary Pentangle. There’s a number of highlights from this period, but amongst them are the instrumentals ‘Angie’ and ‘The Waggoner’s Lad’ as well as the eco-warning ‘Poison.’

The seventies and eighties were a more difficult time for Jansch, but not without their musical highlights. The first part of this set finishes with a stunning duet with Mary Hopkin (one of the great, lost voices) on a cover of Ewan MacColl’s ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.’ Sure, it’s been covered by everyone from Roberta Flack to Johnny Cash to George Michael, but it’s a testament to Jansch and Hopkin’s skill that their version holds its own. 1974’s L.A. Turnaround was his first album after the Pentangle split, featuring another stunning instrumental ‘Chambertin’ and that album’s opener ‘Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning’ which truly earns (and owns) the title. Towards the end of the decade, with punk having swept away much of what had been held sacred, a concept album about birds may have been the most out of time release possible for 1979, but Avocet is brilliant. It’s represented here by ‘Kittiwake.’ (I might personally have substituted it for the title track but a seventeen minute composition is something you should make the time to investigate.)

Jansch’s influence cannot be underestimated, even if it took until the 1990s for the respect he was so clearly due to truly arrive. He had a run of highly regarded albums in his last decade of making music, among them 2000’s Crimson Moon, 2002’s Edge Of A Dream and 2006’s The Black Swan, all represented here. His collaborators included – in addition to Butler – the likes of Hope Sandoval, Devendra Banhart and Beth Orton, and he even found time to play with Pete Doherty.

Given that licensing restrictions can often make albums such as these difficult (as many artists are signed to different labels over the course of their careers), it’s great that this exists, as a fantastic introduction to Jansch and also showing just how consistently brilliant he was. When he died in 2011 he had influenced a whole range of musicians, including the likes of Jimmy Page, Fleet Foxes and Roy Harper. Listening to this compilation reminds me just how brilliant many of those studio albums are. His work remains compelling and vital.


Just A Simple Soul is out now on BMG


Low’s ‘spooky’ new video

OK, so this arrived in my inbox on Hallowe’en, but this seemed to be so much more than just an opportunistic video, so I’m posting it today.

Low’s Double Negative record is fantastic, and will hopefully be doing well in the end of year lists, which will be swamping anyone with even a slight interest in music any day now. ‘Always Trying To Work It Out’ is one of the best tracks on the album, and whilst the electronica approach on this new record is yet another new(ish) thing for them, the song itself is classic Low. And the video is so very good it deserves to be shared.

Directed by Phil Harder, in the words of Alan Sparhawk from the band: ‘We present our slightly Halloween-themed video for “Always Trying to Work It Out.” In which… friends and family star in a stroll through the grocery store; familiar fragments from memory appear; masks are filtering light. Thank you National Sawdust, light tech Shane Donohue, and the Food Co-op in Duluth. It’s dedicated to our city of Duluth.”