Thursday, 31 March 2011

Melodika - Wait For A Decade...

Another gem I know absolutely nothing about.  "Wait For A Decade" kicks off the excellent Sound Of Young Sweden Vol 2 , with "Margaret" coming towards the end of the compilation.  And that, as far as I know, is the sum total of Melodika's recorded output.  Someone on the indiepop list was kind enough to send me two further, very good, demos.  And that's all I know about Melodika.  Anyone?

But this song, WOW!!  I was blown away the first time I heard it.  What you want from pop music, really.  A joyous electronic Smiths song.  Soaring strings, a driving rhythm that insists you dance.  Funny, wry, a great story.  I have put this on every mix cd I've made since first hearing it in 2003.  It ranks among my favourite all-time songs.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


THE POP MUSIC YOU'VE BEEN WANTING TO HEAR ALL YOUR LIFE!!!!  I only just discovered Bridge last year when Larry Farber* posted a song of theirs on Facebook.  I fell in love immediately and sought out what I could.  Grabbing 2 albums here ("Preppy Kicks" kicks off with the following song) and then just noticing a further 3.  I really don't know anything about them, except what I could find here. 

The band served as the connector, in many ways, between the distinctly foreign in quality of Flipper's Guitar and specifically Burt Bacharach-esque of Pizzicato Five.   Strangely, Bridge sounds like one of the most Japanese products of the Shibuya-kei movement.  (

Bridge was a project of Kaji Hideki, who seems to have done quite a lot and who I'm now anxious to check out.  The Swedes seem to love Bridge and that is usually a good indicator of quality : )   If anyone can tell me any more about them, I'd love to know.

This song is just wonderful.   Joyous pop, a gorgeous melody ever-so-slightly tinged with sadness, these two combined like all the best songs do, and with that lovely wistful longing in the vocals.  I have no idea what the lyrics mean but that doesn't matter, one can tell just by the way it's sung.

*Larry runs a cool record/film/book/coffee/miscellaneous shop in Stockholm, stop by if you're ever there.  I met Larry when I sold him an Aisler's Set cd over ebay in 2001 and we've been in touch ever since.  He even set up a rock stone gig in Varberg when I toured Sweden in 2003.  Played to a couple of fans and about 20 drunk hospital workers having a party.  This gig is notable as it was a) where I discovered Jarlsberg cheese and b) the only time I have ever performed any Aug's Gone Goth!?! song live, the tune holding this honour being "German Art School Girl".

Help Stamp Out Loneliness...

I have been in love with "Record Shop" since it first came out in 2009.  And today it's now being offered as a free download!  A minorkey Cure-esque melody over a Smiths-y rhythm track, with just a touch of Dinosaur Jr. (and of course Nico), this song possesses a shadowy gorgeousness.  Not quite melancholic, for it is the grey of wandering through a light rainfall over nighttime city streets in search of the object of one's desire, rather than the gloom of dreaming of them, alone in one's bedroom.  The lyrics convey that yearning of being willing to do almost anything to get that body you are captivated with but are delivered with such conviction that one feels, and is proven correct in the final chorus, the singer knows all along how the game will play out.

Their first full-length (previews here) is due out May 9th.  And one can grab "Torvill & Dean" for free at their blog.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Christy - "Deep Down"...

Slinky, sassy, longing, sexy, enormous, this song is the reason I bought "Canto Morricone Vol. 1" in the first place.  Falling in love with it immediately as I watched the highly entertaining 'Danger: Diabolik' for the first time.  This song is just epic, bursting at the seems with passion:

I know nothing at all about Christy, the singer with such a lovely, evocative voice.  I've only just found another song of hers, "Amore Amore Amore" on 'Beat At Cinecitta Vol. 3' and it does not disappoint.  If anyone can tell me anything about her, or knows of any other songs, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Tiptoe Through The Tulips...

Last night I went to see Adrian Edmondson & Neil Innes' The Idiot Bastard Band at The Wilmington Arms (a smallish pub in London).  Paul Whitehouse was the special guest.  I think it was the most starstruck I have ever been.  The last time I was at The Wilmington it was to listen to my friend Alex Sarll give a very interesting and amusing talk on Emperor Frederick II . And now here were two of my all-time favourite comediens and the man who wrote the songs for "Monty Python & The Holy Grail" on stage!  It all felt quite odd.  But Paul Whitehouse's first song was an absolutely lovely number that I'd never heard before, "Tiptoe Through The Tulips".  As soon as I got home I began searching for it.  Here is the 1929 original by Nick Lucas from the film "Gold Diggers Of Broadway":

And here is my favourite version I've found so far, by Annette Hanshaw:

And Mr. Whitehouse's last song was a quite excellent version of 'Green Green Grass Of Home' .  I couldn't find a way to buy those versions of "Tiptoe" so I just used the YouTube To MP3 Convertor .

Monday, 28 March 2011

Rocky Roberts...

And speaking of Italian songs I'd one day like to cover in English, this warm weather lately has reminded me of Rocky Roberts' wonderful feel-good hit, "Sono Tremendo".  Hailing from Miami, he found musical success in Italy in the 60's, after stints in the U.S. Navy and as a boxer.  Being a huge Candela Peña fan, I discovered this song as it was karaoked in her film, 'Novios' *.  I find it impossible to listen to this song and not be happy:

* coincidentally, if anyone can tell me the Serge Gainsbourg pastiche that is played over the closing credits in her film 'Los Años Desnudos' , I would greatly appreciate it.  A lovely nod to "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus", it seems to sadly be uncredited in the film.

Se Telefonando...

There have also been a few excellent covers of "Se Telefonando" over the years, most famously Françoise Hardy's French-language version, "Je Changerais D'Avis":

Lovely video as well.  I discovered both versions of this song from the 'Canto Morricone Songbook, Vol. 1' cd, which contains other gems as well.  The Divine Comedy also covered this French version when Neil Hannon did his 2 Nights of Chanson at The Cité de la Musique in Paris in September 2008.  I was utterly exhausted after walking around Paris all day in ill-fitting boots, and was tired for most of the set, but when he launched into this as the penultimate number it completely turned my evening around, one of those transcendent magical pop moments, and as if it couldn't get any better, and I honestly believed it couldn't, he seguewayed this into "Tonight We Fly", another of the most beautiful songs ever written.  Here is from the first of those Paris shows:

A recording of this and other highlights from the very same gig make up the 'Bang Goes The Knighthood' bonus disc .  And in 1998, Italian group Delta V did a rather lovely electronic version of the Italian original.

One day I hope to record an English-language version.

My All-Time Favourite Songs...

Often I find it very difficult indeed, bordering on impossible, to describe music.  After all, transcending words is one of the very properties of music.  So pardon my rather simplistic attempts to talk about my two absolute favourite songs of all-time.  These being "The Last Beat Of My Heart" by Siouxsie & The Banshees and "Se Telefonando" by Mina, 'The Tigress of Cremona' .  (Untiedundone is also an amazing Siouxsie site, excellent live audio archive, pics, interviews and more, highly recommended).

With both of these songs I've always felt a huge sense of gorgeousness, of importance, of grand drama unfolding where one's very life was pouring forth and, perhaps futilely, dependent upon the music they were making.  They are both, to quote "The Last Beat Of My Heart", 'majestic, imperial'.  I do prefer the live single version of "The Last Beat Of My Heart" to this album version but this video is beautiful (and there are a few great live versions on Untiedundone, link above).  And to think that "Se Telefonando" (composed and arranged by Ennio Morricone, with lyrics by Maurizio Costanzo & Ghigo De Chiara) was written as a theme for a television show, Aria Condizionata!  Morricone has said that the tune, that seems to have no real tonal center, was inspired by the siren of a police car heard in Marseilles.

Without further ado, my two favourite songs ever:

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Very First Kiss Lips...

In September 2010 I was on a train from Brussels to Antwerp for the second time that day, as you do, when it hit me that I should start a music blog.  I quite liked the idea as I quite like finding out about good music from other people's blogs.  I planned the first post out, about my absolute favourite songs, and then half-forgetting about it, I also kept putting it off.  I had wanted to call it "sugarpopkisses", but it seems that name is already taken.  I also toyed with "Down By The Sports Hall In The Rain" (from Pulp's magnificent
"Stacks",  2minutes 43 seconds, YES!).  But then I thought it should really be 'First Kiss Lips' as I've always said that there's something about a really great pop song that is akin to the feeling you have after you've first kissed someone you've fancied for quite a while.  And then I went to a gig last night that completely blew me away, and so I've decided to start this blog today.

On Thursday night I got an email from Pennyblackmusic announcing a gig with Nick Garrie on Saturday night.  I thought, "WOW!, Nick Garrie , I had no idea he'd even be playing, that record came out 40 years ago".  I bought the remaster of that psychfolkpop classic, "The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas" when it came out in 2005, and loved it.  Trouble was I had 3 events I had already agreed to go to on Saturday night.  But then I started checking out the other bands on the bill.  And completely fell in love with The Hall Of Mirrors , esp. this utterly utterly lovely pop masterpiece, 'Springtime' .  I knew I needed to attend this gig.

So I headed down to The Half Moon in Herne Hill last night, a quite lovely area of South London I had never before visited.  And it turned into one of those magical evenings that make you realize how wonderful it is to live in London, just that things like Nick Garrie would be playing along with a fantastic new pop find.

The Hall Of Mirrors were simply a pop dream.  In fact, the music seems to me like it comes to you as if it's breaking through a dream, wrapping one in warm harmonic ecstasies, and when the song ends, leaves you in that lush half-waking dreamspace that you long to sink back into but aren't quite sure whence it had come.  I highly recommend checking out all their videos, but have a look at this gorgeous one for "Love Obscure":

And then Nick Garrie took the stage.  And he was AWESOME.  Playing a good deal off "Stanislas", which was exciting enough, but the newer songs (which I had not been aware of) really took my fancy.  "In Every Nook And Cranny" and "On A Wing And A Prayer" were pop perfection.  And he closed with a song he wrote when his mother died (sadly, I don't know the name but I've just purchased his second album "49 Arlington Gardens") , as he said, "his only fan for 30 years".  It was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye.  Here's him at a festival in Madrid, 2009, doing the title song of that album that started it all:

I did like Jack but I couldn't stick around for Anthony Reynolds' set as I was heading to Scared To Dance (there's a pic of dancing me in profile, with the glasses and 70s shirt) as Shrag were guest DJ'ing. I very much enjoyed the night and will go again.  And here's Shrag's "Rabbit Kids" as it was my favourite single of last year:

Well, hopefully more to come.