Thursday, 31 May 2012

Gwenno - Lime Chordial...

As Gwenno is working on new material, she's put a bunch of old demos up on Soundcloud for free download!  Highly recommended.  I've long been a fan.  The first time I saw The Pipettes was at the Track & Field All-Dayer at the Camden Barfly May 1, 2005, one of Gwenno's first shows with the band.  I was so blown away with what they were doing I turned to Harvey Williams, who had hipped me to them, and said "This is everything music should be!", buying the 7" although I did not have a record player in London, and proceeding to see them 4 times in the next 9 days.  Then in 2008 I heard some of Gwenno's solo songs on Myspace and was so impressed that I made the journey to Brighton for her first solo gig at the Moksha Cafe, where she and Stuart Flynn did a great cover of Don't Go Breaking My Heart.

Lime Chordial has always been my favourite.  A perfect dreamy pop song.  "Drizzly days, and smoking out your window, sand in our sandwiches and hanging out at busstops, old black and white films and hiding in wardrobes, and hoping to find that other world."  Those lines capture so much of the reality in which music allows youthful dreams to soar, transcending the everyday and opening up bright possibilities.   Gorgeous wistful melody and music.  Absolutely lovely.

U & I was another early favourite.

Tonight is an enchanting twilight sigh.

The achingly beautiful Before Sunset.

Picture Of You is a great little pop song, a cross between The Ronettes' Walking In The Rain and Depeche Mode's A Photograph Of You.

Go on, grab them all!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Blake Hazard - Glittering...

I read The Great Gatsby for the third time last week, finishing it Saturday on the plane back to London.  Loved it, of course.  Then sleep-deprived on the tube back to my flat , I pulled Sheilah Graham's  The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty-Five Years Later out of my suitcase and have been enjoying it since; interesting and a pleasure to read.  I found it at The Book Barn in Niantic, CT, off Exit 74 on I-95.  I highly recommend stopping in if you're ever in the area.  They have a vast amount of books, stored in barns and on carts, many many paperbacks for only $1.  I have tried twice to begin Tender Is The Night and was thwarted by outside influences both times, but I'm determined to read it soon.  Have brought it, This Side Of Paradise, The Last Tycoon, and some short stories back to London with me.

In August of 2005, I took a break from reading Gravity's Rainbow to read The Beautiful & Damned.  I remember really liking the first 2/3 and being depressed by the ending.  I know I wrote down some phrases from it to use as possible song titles but for the life of me, I've no idea where that list is now.  This cover to the edition I was reading was, however, a big influence on the idea of what would become H Bird that was at the time forming in my mind:

A story I've never told anyone before but I'm feeling rather maudlin this evening so...Late one night, I was riding the Overground back to West Hampstead/Kilburn where I was living at the time.  A very pretty blonde was sitting across from me and, all smiles, made a show and a bit of a dance to see what I was reading.  Maudlin then too and as almost always incredibly shy, I simply moved the cover in her direction, smiled slightly, and went back to reading.  I have always kicked myself over this and wondered what might have happened if I had engaged in the conversation she was quite obviously open to.  Ah, the regrets and stupidity of youth.

Anyways, finally getting to my reason for posting - Blake Hazard, the great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Ms. Hazard lived in Boston, MA at the same time I was there.  And although I never met her, the record company I was a partner in, The Archenemy Record Company, included her song Glittering on our Know Your Enemy compilation.  (Interesting fact:  We had the mirrored digipacks, so you would see yourself in them as 'the enemy', made in The Netherlands and the cds themselves manufactured in Canada, each country being cheapest for said product.  When the digipacks arrived at Customs in NYC, they had never encountered such an item before - an empty digipack made from such paper, without the cd - and thus had to invent a new tariff for it).

Here's the Spotify link for Glittering from Blake's 2002 Little Airplanes album (2 free mp3s up at link).  A different version from the comp.  A lovely melancholy tune, which nonetheless expresses hope.  And here's Waiting from the same record:

Blake is better known these days for being half of The Submarines with John Dragonetti.  Perhaps my favourite Submarines song, Shoelaces:

Monday, 28 May 2012

It's The Taking Part That Counts compilation...

No posts in the last two weeks as I've been in America.  But I did get two reviews done - Where It's At Is Where You Are's It's The Taking Part That Counts compilation and Words And Music By Saint Etienne.  There's a blog up for the WIAIWYA comp. here, posting a new song from it each week, with Saint Etienne's lead-off track being featured this week.  Steeplechase is gorgeous, "60s-esque in a different way than usual for them, this cinematic and slinky instrumental is gorgeous.  Bass and keyboard line propel things forward, in turns and then together, before a completely incongruous distorted guitar enters, taking the song into an entirely more intense and vivid realm, giving a sense of soaring over depths. If you’re a fan of St Et obscurities, this is one you should definitely have. "  And check out the cool board game sleeve for it.  

Another highlight is Hong Kong In The 60s' Let's Play Table Tennis.  "Beginning with a lovely staccato major key melody, it slips into a charming lushness before the vocal comes in, cute and lazy, giving a sense of daydreamingly watching an indoor match on a sunny afternoon. "

I was really impressed with the glorious synthpop of Parenthesis...'  Synthesized Swimming.

Flotation Toy Warning deliver a lovely piece, the cleverly-named The Buoys Are Back In Town.

Alexander's Festival Hall gives us some of that shimmering upbeat electronic pop he's known for with Judo (What We've Been Playing).

And Darren Hayman's Bundle is a nice slice of garage rock with a freeform middle 8 and great harmony guitars kicking the end up a notch. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Go Kart Mozart - New World In The Morning...

It's always funny, and great, that songs come along just when you need them to.  Saw Lawrence Of Belgravia last night.  Really enjoyed it.  I've always loved Go Kart Mozart's insanely catchy songs, and was a big Denim and Felt as well.  I hadn't realized that the Go Kart Mozart lettering came from the Clockwork Orange soundtrack cover, and in the Q&A afterwards Lawrence told us how Shampoo were his idea and the two songs he wrote for them were left off their million-selling Japanese album because the bike that picked up the tracks from the studio got stuck in traffic.  The film was really well shot, funny, and a few things really hit home.  The last slow pull-away shot with the quote "No one has come as far as I have and not made it" was incredibly poignant.

Go Kart Mozart released an excellent electronic version of Roger Whittaker's New World In The Morning on 7" for Record Store Day.  It really is rather wonderful.  (sound quality not great on video, but here it is on Spotify).

Roger Whittaker's original.

Oh, and Lawrence also mentioned that Felt covered Wire's Outdoor Miner live a few times.  Found a version here from April 1, 1988, Teatro Rivoli, Porto, Portugal.

Trailer for Lawrence Of Belgravia:

Saturday, 5 May 2012

What I Played At Negative Creep, May 4th, 2012...

Negative Creep, Hackney Trashbar, London.  May 4th, 2012

The remit for this was "grunge".  The limits of its definition were definitely tested.

Dinosaur Jr. - Freak Scene
Sonic Youth  - 100%
The Afghan Whigs - Debonair
Chainsaw Kittens - Connie, I've Found The Door
Fugazi - Waiting Room
Mudhoney - Touch Me I'm Sick
Melvins - Hooch
Screaming Trees - Nearly Lost You
The Breeders - Cannonball
The Jesus & Mary Chain - Reverence
Belly - Feed The Tree
Sonic Youth - Kool Thing
Bikini Kill - Suck My Left One
Daisy Chainsaw - Love Your Money
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Mudhoney - You Got It
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Grey Cell Green
Pavement - Summber Baby (Winter Version)
My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow

This was nice as I recalled my first ever night in London in July 1992, discovering cider earlier in the evening and winding up at the Marquee Club (whilst looking for The 100 Club as I used to have a Pistols at The 100 Club poster on my wall).  It was incredibly exciting, especially as within minutes of walking in I heard Freak Scene, Love Your Money, Pretend We're Dead and Far Gone & Out, fantastic slices of pop I had just discovered back in suburban Connecticut.  I haven't heard Pretend We're Dead in a while but the other 3 still sound amazing, and unique, today.  

There was a moment I was looking through my cds and saw Always' The Turf Accountant's Dream and every fibre of my being wanted to play it ; ) 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Specks In The Sky #2 (Tender Trap, Philip Jeays, The Melting Ice Caps and more)...

David Shah, my partner in The Soft Close-Ups, is putting on another gig on Bank Holiday Monday, May 7th, at The Wilmington Arms in London (info here).  The first Specks In The Sky event was great and this one promises to be also.

Tender Trap are headlining.  Their new song, Love Is Hard Enough, is very catchy indeed:

I really liked their first album, Film Molecules. Face Of '73 from that record was one of my faves:

Britain's own Jacques Brel, Philip Jeays, will also be performing.  Very excited about this as his gigs are always excellent.  My review of his latest album, My Own Way, will be up soon.  The title track:

One of my favourites of his, perhaps even my favourite, the exquisite Mr. Jeays:

Live in Brighton, January 28th, 2010.

David's will be doing a solo set of his The Melting Ice Caps material.  Lots of great free pop songs on the site.  Here's his Mise En Scene, which I played guitar on:

I was impressed with Owen Duff's music at the last Specks.  His London You're My High:

I know little about Matthew Robins, though I've heard good things.  And this, The Wicker Cat, sounds quite nice.

Rancid - Radio...

Rancid's Radio has been stuck in my head lately.  Another great song about just how important music is.  I loved the Let's Go record back in 1994/1995 and have fond memories of seeing them live at the time.  Energetic and catchy.  "When I got the music, I got a place to go."  Oh yes.