All entries for July 2006

July 31, 2006

We Are The Pipettes

We Are The PipettesI'm sure it's not just me who has a couple of songs that characterise each season. One of the songs that will always remind me of this summer is the wonderfully upbeat "Pull Shapes" by The Pipettes. And for once I've actually gone as far as buying myself the album, from an actual shop. It was money well spent.
The Pipettes are RiotBecki, Gwenno, and Rosay who got together (with backing group The Cassette) in Brighton. Their sound combines classic doo–wop themes with "punk pop–girl power". They've gone back to the beginnings of great popular music and have brought it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The album reverses typical gender roles ("One Night Stand") and provides great relief for everyone sick of women asking why their man left them ("Why Did You Stay?").

If you havent noticed yet, were the prettiest girls youve ever metThey first came to my attention with the very punchy "Your Kisses are Wasted On Me" which was released back in March. Unfortunatley, because of uni work I wasn't able to truly register the song. The hugely catchy chant opening is now thoroughly stuck in my subconscious though. And it was very well followed by "Pull Shapes" which is a top (if cheesey in parts) tune.
"We Are The Pipettes" is their debut album, and it's full of foot–tapping tunes (okay I can't stop dancing to it) and empowering lyrics. The mixture of smooth vibes and gritty vocals makes for a great sound, perfect for sitting in that soda bar, or cruising down the beachfront in a '59 Cadillac.

Buy
We Are The Pipettes
Samples
We Are The Pipettes MP3 Expired
Sex MP3 Expired
One Night Stand MP3 Expired
Links

July 26, 2006

McLusky

Writing about web page http://www.toopure.com/mclusky/

As strange as it may seem, McLusky were failures. Looking at what they did and how they did it, it seems quite clear that they wanted to be super abrasive, to trash the eardrums of all those unfortunates who had the audactity to cross their path.

They picked as producer Steve Albini, the man who seemingly believed the best way to produce a band was the set angry wasps on them then record the resulting noise in a bucket using the crappiest taperecorder he could find in the local charity shop… then rubbing the resulting tape with sandpaper.

They sang radio friendly lyrics like:

If you can cope in this hopeless hepatitis pissrag/Molotov cocktail monobrow shithole baby
Fuck this band/Cos they swear too much/It's an obvious ploy/And irresponsible

And yet… and yet they had a shameful flaw. It's not hard to be borderline unlistenable yet they couldn't do it. Every morning it would appear McLusky woke up in bed with Mr Tune. We cannot be sure if this was a cause of shame, the terrible hangover kicking in as they realised there were classy and (yes) affecting melodies at work in their songs. Maybe they liked it, the dirty buggers. They certainly got more tuneful as anyone listening to their chronological best of McLuskyism can hear.

So who should listen to them? Everyone?

Maybe. For a start there's a clue in the lyrics quoted above – they were clever. Very clever, and produced some of the best lyrics of the last ten years, crude, rude, funny and sharp. It's hard not to emit to a small titter (or in my case great huge laugh out loud) on hearing the lyric to 'Random Celebrity Insult Generator' which promises much mayhem but settles purely for informing us, repeatedly, that "Nick Berry had talent in a previous life". The desire to channel pure insults into song form is McLusky's ace. The shockingly melodic 'She Will Only Bring You Happiness' has a beautiful middle eight with some nice vocal harmonies (or as close as you get with McLusky) which sooth you right up to the point you realise that they're actually singing "Our old singer is a sex criminal".

Where's best to start? Probably the aforementioned Best Of, Mcluskyism which gives a helpful overview as to what you might hear. The early stuff can probably strip paint off walls (although the paint round here could be stripped off by Sigur Ros it's that badly done) but their second and third albums, McLusky Do Dallas and The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire are great and should at least be listened to even if they too do bad things to your house's paintwork.

The antidote to emo? Maybe. If we must have long song titles then McLusky are showing the way forward, less annoying pretentiousness, more songs called 'Dave, Stop Killing Prostitutes' and 'Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues'. And it is them showing the way forward but no longer leading. Sadly they split up last year leaving us bereft of McLusky but in possession of spin off bands Shooting At Unarmed Men and Future Of The Left who may yet prove that trying to hurt ears + being frisked by the Tune + great use of words = the way forward.

Fuck this band/Yeah fuck their holes/But if they split up/You're responsible

Oh yes…

Tracks are for sampling purposes only and will be deleted two weeks after this entry.

McLusky – 'The World Loves Us And Is Our Bitch' MP3 Expired [Buy McLusky Do Dallas from Amazon]
McLusky – 'Fuck This Band' MP3 Expired [Buy McLusky Do Dallas from Amazon]
McLusky – 'Random Celebrity Insult Generator (SBN Session Version)' MP3 Expired [Original version found on 'Alan Was A Cowboy Killer EP' buy from Amazon]

The albums (each wonderfully named)
My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours
McLusky Do Dallas
The Difference Between Me And You Is That I'm Not On Fire
McLuskyism


July 25, 2006

Album/Art – Scott 4

Scott Walker

Another strange association with this album, I've no idea why I've got this album, other than I saw this animation and the resulting research into The Walker Brothers led me to finding this spectacular album. The vocals, lyrics are faultless and the arrangements always sound fresh and engaging (check the bass line in The Old Man's Back Again). It's a short 32 minutes long, but it's half an hour I never mind repeating again and again.

Scott Walker – Angels of Ashes MP3 Expired
Scott Walker – The Old Man's Back Again MP3 Expired
Scott Walker – Get Behind Me MP3 Expired

[Buy Scott 4 from Play.com]

Bonus Art:

Jarvis

Pulp have always been one of Walker's followers, the lush arrangements (especially with their last [?] album I Love Life, with which Scott was involved with) and Jarvis' delivery very much in debt to his style. Jarvis Cocker has been hitting the headlines as of late, for his latest song in all it's glory has been going round the MySpace chitter–chatter.

You can hear it here or here, so I won't bore you with the description, but I thought I'd share my art of the now trademark spectacles…


July 19, 2006

Music For a Heatwave

Heatwave As we're set for record temperatures for a July day today, I thought I should raid my music for appropriately themed music to share. I discovered, to my horror, that I had no music by hit 70s group Heatwave, and neither did I have Marylin Monroe's 'Heatwave'.
Having ruled those out, I then looked for some of the most stereotypical titles associated with this weather, and so I bring to you 6 tunes of varying coolness for this hottest of summer days!

Sandra – In the Heat of the Night [Buy 'The Essential Sandra']
Billy Idol – Hot in the City [Buy 'The Greatest Hits]
Suzanne Vega – 99.9F [Buy '99.9F']
Stereophonics – Lying in the Sun [Buy 'Just Enough Education to Perform']
Doves – Catch the Sun [Buy 'Lost Souls']
Chicane – Low Sun [Buy 'Behind the Sun']

If anyone has any more suggestions please add them as comments!


July 18, 2006

Mike Oldfield

Mike Oldfield Artists like Mike Oldfield defy categorization. Famous for his first solo work Tubular Bells, his music has taken on characteristics of classical, pop, rock, chill out, and various world music styles. “They put me in the New Age slots in the record shops. It’s not New Age. New Age Music is something session musicians do in their spare time.”
Tubular Bells, as featured in The Exorcist, has been described as an “instrumental collage” in which Oldfield played almost every instrument. In just the first part of the piece he performed on Grand Piano, Glockenspiel, Farfisa organ, Bass guitar, Electric guitar, Speed guitar, Taped motor drive amplifier organ chord, Mandolin–like guitar, Fuzz guitars, Assorted percussion, Acoustic guitar, Flageolet, Honky tonk, Lowrey organ, and, of course, Tubular Bells. His sampled loops of notes from each of these instruments was then turned into this work of great intricacy which became the first release on Virgin records, in 1973, having been turned down by all the major labels of the time.
His next two albums followed the same format as Tubular Bells, but with each taking a different theme and taking a different musical approach. However, it was the mid–70s and Oldfield was pushed aside by Virgin, in order to dedicate more time to the up and coming Punk movement. Oldfield, despite only being in his early 20s, never appreciated this era and said that, “Punk diluted the musical abilities of practically a whole generation. You were machine–gunned to death in the pop press if you really could play.”
Tubular Bells CoverAfter three years of retreat, Oldfield returned to music, far more willing to adapt to the popular music scene. He has maintained his ability to produce long and complex pieces, whilst also creating and adapting short pieces for the singles market. In this he has been aided by the vocal talents of Maggie Reilly, who appeared on many of his works of the 80s. He has produced 23 albums to date (not including the numerous live recordings and remasterings of Tubular Bells).
Maybe part of my adoration of this guy’s music is down to the fact that I was brought up with his LPs playing. When I got my own stereo for the first time, Mike Oldfield’s Crises album was the first that I smuggled up to my room. As a child I initially fell for his more pop style pieces such as Moonlight Shadow, with their simple and repetitive lyrics. As I matured I began to notice the richness of the music surrounding them, and the depth of the pieces that spanned an entire side of the vinyl. His music is beautifully flowing and yet incredibly powerful, and no matter what my mood I can pick out something that fits.
It’s incredibly difficult for me to pick just a few tracks to share on here. I’m limited by what I have as MP3s rather than LP, which means that I can’t offer some pieces that I’d love to – including some whole sides of LP!

Samples
Altered State MP3 Expired
Ommadawn (Excerpt) MP3 Expired
Dark Star MP3 Expired

Buy
Tubular Bells
Elements: The Best of Mike Oldfield
Crises

Links
The Mike Oldfield Information Service
Official Website

(Quotes taken from Rock: The Rough Guide, published by Rough Guides Limited)


July 17, 2006

Album/Art – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Modest Mouse

Given the number of great writers on this blog, I've decided to take an alternative approach to this whole thing. I'm not the best writer in the world, so I thought this would provide a bit of a different kick.

I'm simply going to take an album that I'm currently in love with and draw the lovely band in question, or if the chance comes, something else art–y that's relevant, be it photo, painting, collage, sketch whatever. I'm not saying I'm the best artist at the world either, but I'm having a good damn go at it.

So, first, if you haven't noticed, is Modest Mouse's 2004 album Good News For People Who Love Bad News. To be bluntly honest with you, I picked this up second-hand in Auckland's greatest music store, Real Groovy, and it's been on constant rotation while I drew the picture above. The album also hosts the brilliant single, Float On, but I've chosen three different cuts here that display the brilliant range of moods and styles the album crosses.

It's my first real connection with the band, an almost impulse buy, so I'm keen to hear the rest of the band's catalogue…any suggestions?

Modest Mouse – Ocean Breathes Salty MP3 Expired
Modest Mouse – The View MP3 Expired
Modest Mouse – Blame It On The Tetons MP3 Expired

Amazon.co.uk (only £4.97!)
[Buy Good News For People Who Love Bad News]


July 16, 2006

Khonnor

Khonnor

Acoustic singer songerwriter guy. Bloke with guitar. He walks into a bar and sets up his stool before strumming gently and bubbling away about something mildly inconsequential… At least, that's what he does 999 times out of 1000. But someone's always got to be different. Maybe he doesn't want to be armed just with a guitar, especially when we are engulfed in a wave of male singer songwriters who are so devoid of rough edges (i.e. interest) that they are making us pine for the days of such uber–fascinating characters as David Gray.*

That person, on this occasion, is Khonnor. An eccentric from Vermont, Khonnor has taken the gently strummer singer songwriter pattern and dipped it in the pot marked 'Electronic Things Which Go Whoosh!'. It's not a very subtle pot. It drenches his work in all sorts of sweeps and unexpected sounds. It also adds a somewhat unsettling ambience to proceedings. It's quite alright to find yourself looking around the room wondering where that noise came from before you realise it was very probably meant to be on the track you're listening to. Probably. Best check just to be certain.

Like a sci–fi version of film score legend Ennio Morricone, Khonnor creates things which are less songs than soundtracks which seep out of the speakers and envelope the room, colluding with the furniture, the lighting and your own feelings to shift you somewhere unworldly. His songs are curious, sometimes it's hard to recall what they sound like, yet the second the first sound (sometimes a note or chord, sometimes just that, a sound) hits you you will remember the song.

The songs below are two good examples of what to find on his album Handwriting (buy it y'hear ) which is the best place to start. He apparently has new stuff coming out as Khonnor later in the year but for those who find this to be not quite enough there is also his alter egos…

Khonnor – 'An Ape Is Loose' MP3 Expired
Khonnor – 'Man From The Anthill' MP3 Expired

Grandma is a more electronic sound than Khonnor, distorted vocals and even (shock) a scattering of beats which you could conceivably dance to (though don't expect a hi–NRG workout to burn those calories off). Downloads of Grandma's EP 'For Your Broken Heart' can be found at Monotonik's website.

More electronic still is his releases as I, Cactus. These are less unnerving than his other pieces, more chilled and relaxed. Each track is a new cactus based experience.

It might not be what you're used to hearing but isn't it worth giving your eardrums something a little different from time to time? If this concept does not appeal then piss off to Radio 2 where I'm sure some bloke with a guitar is waiting to serenade you with bilge about something–or–other breaking his heart. Bet he doesn't use the pot marked 'Electronic Things Which Go Whoosh!'.

Buy Khonnor - Handwriting from Amazon

*Who is quite good if you can get past the ubiquity of certain tracks of his.


July 14, 2006

Meet the Contributors: Matt Jones

Name: Matt 'Jeff' Jones
Number one in UK when I was born: Nena – 99 Red Balloons
First album bought: Oasis – (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
First gig attended: A Kind Of Magic (a Queen tribute band). Oh dear.
Favourite album: Metallica – Kill 'Em All
Favourite song: System of a Down – Forest
Favourite gig: System of a Down, B'ham Academy, 2002
Favourite band: Either SOAD or Metallica
Favourite genre: Metal
The band you like but are embarassed about/feel is a little out of place in your collection: Probably Head Automatica, for being out of place.
Number of CDs bought since 1st January 2006: 9
What musical event would you most like to see happen: Rage Against The Machine reform. I never got to see them live, which blows.
Musical hero: Tom Morello
Music's biggest enemy/ies in my opinion are: The music press. Just because they love/hate a band, doesn't mean I'm going to, although they don't seem to see that.

For your aural delight…

In Flames – The Quiet Place MP3 Expired [Buy from play.com]
God Forbid – AntiHero MP3 Expired [Buy from play.com]
Sepultura – Refuse, Resist MP3 Expired [Buy from play.com]
Lamb Of God – Laid To Rest MP3 Expired [Buy from play.com]


July 13, 2006

Why you should listen to… Tool

Tool Discography

Tool - Opiate

Opiate

Tool - Undertow

Undertow

Tool - AEnima

AEnima

Tool - Lateralus

Lateralus

Tool - 10,000 Days

10,000 Days

Click on album art to buy from play.com

When I was first asked to contribute to this blog I initially was flummoxed as to what to write about. I've never been one that was up on 'new' music so I will have to take a different tact. I thought instead I would write about bands that, although may have been around for ages, seem under-appreciated to me. So lets begin with the first...

Tool

Tool are one of those bands that have 3 distinct groups of people associated with them. Obsessive fan-boys, haters, and the "Tool?" group. While I obviously don't fall into the latter two groups, neither am I an obsessive. Tool are, however, one of my favourite bands.

So why should you listen to Tool? They're not to everyone's taste, and some are full of vitriol towards them. To some they're too heavy; to others not heavy enough. Their sound would be described by some as 'progressive metal', but that tends to turn most people off.

What you do get is a deep, complex sound that is missing from most standard metal bands, along with an aggressive heavy edge. The lyrical content is always involving and can range from the obviously–themed, to the "what is he on about!", without ever being clichéd. Maynard James Keenan's voice has an ability to perfectly adapt to a song, be it an aggressive vocal, or more poetic.

And then we come to the musicianship. Most tracks have at least a semblance of a verse–chorus structure, but often diving off in tangents, with no riffs recycled. Adam Jones has the ability to use complex time signatures and unusual riff patterns, without making the listener feel confused or alienated. And frankly Danny Carey is one of the best drummers of the last ten years. Anyone who wants a master class in complex timing and innovation should look no further.

A particular bonus that you get with Tool is that they are a visual as well as an audio experience. Guitarist Adam Jones originally moved to LA in the hope of entering the film industry, and he has applied his talents to the vast majority of Tool promo videos. Disturbing, engaging, and sometimes controversial, they accompany their respective tracks beautifully and are a lesson to many bands in how it could and should be done. Many of the videos are available on sites such as YouTube and bundled with promo singles, and are definitely worth experiencing.

Mostly a Tool album is not one that will get you bouncing around your room, but should make something stir inside you. I would highly recommend anyone to check out this band if you enjoy a 'weirder' but less heavy edge (a la the new Muse album), and also if you are feeling disillusioned with the formulaic nature of modern metal.

Samples

Schism MP3 Expired [buy 'Lateralus']
Sober MP3 Expired [buy 'Undertow']
Ænema MP3 Expired [buy 'Aenima']
The Pot MP3 Expired [buy '10,000 Days']

Links

Tool Site


July 12, 2006

Elastica

Indie is a risky place for women to venture. You can wring your hands all you want about equality and shit like that, but women in guitar based music have a harder time than those in other genres. In R'n'B and pop they are practically the rulers, the dominant R'n'B stars are Beyonce and Rhianna, the big and best pop groups are Girls Aloud and Sugababes. But in guitar music land there's a residule boorishness which means some gigs can be spoiled by shouts of “Get yer tits out” directed at female band members. It's annoying and stupid. Rant over.

So when girls do go indie they seem to take one of two routes – they either get a little bit whispy, or they get attitude. The whispy types include groups like The Cocteau Twins or the Cranberries when they were really big. The attitude ones will either be really in your face, unafraid to use the word feminist like Courteny Love, or they are more personal, more assertive about what they are thinking about at that exact moment. Less of the sweeping statements, more of the “I want to do this and I am damn well going to do this”. The masters of this latter art were the great lost Britpop band Elastica.

Elastica were beyond cool. By failing to care and be musical nerds they managed to turn their don't–give–a–stuff attitude into some magnificent music. Nothing fancy was required, so nothing fancy was attempted. Chords were simple for a reason, it meant songs could be played quicker so the next one could begin. 'Annie' is less than 75 seconds long and still manages to piss all over 95% of all Britpop. And in singer Justine Frischman they had a frontwoman who wasn't singing to indoctrinate the world, she was singing because she damn well wanted to.

Elastica – 'Annie' MP3 Expired
[Buy Elastica from Amazon]

Their 15 track debut album was a rush of giddy fast punk, interspersed with some more thoughtful reflective stuff which added depth to what they had to say. In 'Waking Up', which was released as a single, Justine managed to perfectly sum up so much of life with the line “I work very hard/But I'm lazy/I can't take the pressure and it's starting to show”. Also impressive is the album's sole track over four minutes, the wonderful 'Never Here' which builds on (of all things) a guitar riff, rather than some ultra fast chords.

Elastica – 'Never Here' MP3 Expired

[Buy Elastica from Amazon]

Unfortunately as a band Elastica were too perfect. They developed perfect rockstar drug problems (guitarist Donna was so badly addicted to heroin that she tore out her anti–heroin stomach implant) which lead to rockstar lethargy. Turns out they were lazy but not working very hard. Somewhere along the line it took them over five years to write their second album which, frankly, sounds like it took five minutes to write, and is one of the most disappointing albums of all time. The Menace is not recommended, though their debut, Elastica, most definitely is, as is their really rather good BBC Sessions compilation which contains some of the best Christmas songs ever, including 'All For Gloria' which is the best version of 'Ding Song Merrily On Hi' to be about a somewhat ditzy glam girl called Gloria. Be unfestive and take a listen.

Elastica – 'All For Gloria' MP3 Expired

[Buy _The Radio 1 Sessions_from Amazon]

The most remarkable thing about Elastica is that you will have heard their most famous song, 'Connection' which was also used as the theme tune to Trigger Happy TV, and may very well remember 'Waking Up' as well. Their fall from the forefront of Britpop was too spectacular for words. What makes it doubly sad is that these days Justine Frischman is most remembered for having dated both Brett from Suede and Damon from Blur. It seems the girl with the guitar can't be an icon in her own right, she has to be the bird of some blokes who sang some songs which weren't as good as her best.

It's not radical feminism to point out that that's a little unfair. So you could either fight the gender oppression (or whatever the radical feminists call it) by listening to Elastica again… or you can listen to them again, loud, and drown out those annoying rows about gender. Or you could not listen and deprive your ears.

The choice is yours, of course.

Tracks are for sampling purposes only and will be deleted two weeks after this entry.

You are not this cool.


July 2006

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MP3s are available for a limited time and are for sampling purposes only. If you like a band or a song, please buy it at Amazon or elsewhere. Please.

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