January 2009…a reflection


So…already we are at the end of January. How has it been so far?

Annoying, or unmotivated students aside, the death of John Martyn at the age of sixty is something that has to be the worst thing. I’d only started to fully appreciate his music over the last few years, and hadn’t seen him live. He produced some excellent albums – Grace & Danger (even Phil Collins’ involvement couldn’t ruin it), One World, and of course, Solid Air. The title was tribute to his friend, Nick Drake, who died the following year. He was good at writing songs about male friends, like another one of Solid Air‘s tracks ‘May you Never’ in which he wishes a friend well. RIP, good Sir.

John Martyn -‘Solid Air.’ mp3

John Martyn -‘May you Never.’ mp3

There is lots of good music coming out – I have heard over twenty releases so far this year* and it seems that Scotland is coming up trumps already. The Chemikal Underground label has already released the debut album from the Phantom Band Checkmate Savage, with excellent albums due out over the next month or so from Aidan Moffat and the sophomore release from De Rosa. Bricolage’s debut came out this week, and a promo copy dropped through the letterbox of 17 Seconds Towers only this morning from Wake The President of their debut album. This album is not on Chemikal Underground but it was recorded at Chem 19, with Paul Savage and they supported Emma Pollock so…(you know how that sentence could end, so I won’t finish it). Not to mention Franz Ferdinand’s long-awaited third album which came out this week, and Les Reno Amps’ second album which will be out in February. Edwyn Collins live at Celtic Connections was a fantastic start to the gig-going year, even better with the addition of Roddy Frame on guitar (read the Vinyl Villain’s review – I was at the gig with the man himself and he summed it up so well i don’t think I can add my tuppence worth).

There’s other great records out as well -Antony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver, M83 and White Lies are already out, and releases from the Pains Of Being Pure at Heart, Darren Hayman, Morrissey, Western Civ and the collaboration between Horace Andy and Ashley Beedle are going to light up the musical world over the next four weeks or so. Broken Records have signed to 4AD -another band I first saw supporting Emma Pollock (and subsequently Idlewild and Sons & Daughters) -you can read all about it at Song, By Toad.

17 Seconds Records is slowly but surely making its’ way into the world, with us literally pacing the streets with boxes of 7″s under our arms (yes, you can buy it on digital services, who are you calling a luddite?). Read all about it either at our myspace or at our website

As ever, i cannot begin to listen to all the stuff i am sent, never mind write posts about it, but these two tracks, from upcoming releases should be heard:

Casiotone for the painfully alone -‘Old Panda Days.’ mp3 (taken from Advance Base Battery Life, out March 9)

Venice Is Sinking -‘Ryan’s Song.’ mp3 (from Azar, out March 30)

*I’ve told you before, I get sent most of these.