Sunday, 27 April 2008

These United States - First Sight

Wonderful wonderful lyrics and beautiful music from These United States. Here are the lyrics wot I transcribed so they may not be perfect:

With her mouth making movements to introduce thoughts
I sat deafened by trust on that sofa it crossed
Quietly calculating the logistics of lust
Of when unspoken things could then happen between us

And then once those were done and we'd got through love
We would shoot from the hip, reacting off of the cuff
Splitting up at the fork when the going got rough
With a plan for a point to rejoin on the road further up

Our windows thin where ice carved it's flowers
I would hold her and let the wind beat back those hours
And then standing on subway trains clutching her dress
Dependant on her balance as the walls were useless

And while its alright to hold tight please don't try to hold on
'Cause it's a home run we hit love [?] 'cause it's going and gone
And then the world turned so fast it was astoundingly still
And it must have been that moment made of midnight on the hill

Right when the cattle racks alley cat spat back at the moon
Thrown out into the night time nine lifetimes too soon
We had come such a ways and knew just what he meant
There's a picture of the three of us at the gate to the garden of Eden

You can get home but you can't get in
Locks are like longing - an everchanging thing
And keys are just clouds made of metal and spark
We knew exactly who we were and yet couldn't quite say who we still are

I saw it all happening in one grand epic sweep
from that first sight that we wouldn't get to sleep for a week
Generations would follow the course that we'd charted
From that sofa a cross I couldn't wait to get started
These United States' debut album, 'A Picture of the Three of Us at the Garden of Eden' was released on the 26th of February. They have a few dates in the UK in October.

These United States - First Sight

Now playing: Them, Roaring Twenties - Harry Caray Frontier Guide Hawkeye

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Hiromi - 010101 (Binary System)

G shows a marked lack of committment to "A Cloud Of Starlings", which is, after all, his own project. I suggest he reassess whether he can be bothered."
That imaginary teacher in my head has finally got to me and I am going to pull my motherfucking socks up even though the elastic went about 7 years ago and they really ought to be thrown out. Today, some weirdo jazz (my genre name, not theirs, as you might have guessed) from a lovely Japanese girl called Hiromi. I saw her at the Brecon Jazz Festival a few years back and she was by far and away the most exciting jazz act I have ever seen. She's an amazing pianist and chock full of ideas, attractive melodies and interesting harmonies. I suspect the title of this song has inspired the structure (or visa versa), though I doubt saying that does it justice. Any case, it's a fucking good listen. This track is off her 2003 debut Another Mind.

Hiromi - 010101 (Binary System)

She's released roughly an album a year so I imagine there'll be one at some point in 2008. Enough speculation: she definitely does have three nights at Ronnie Scotts in May.

While we're at it, can I just say that I really hope that Barack Obama overcomes Hilary "I'll say anything for a vote" Clinton. She makes me vom.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Spring Factory - No More

Some proper full on obscurity here. Spring Factory are a Swedish band with just over 10,000 plays on mySpace and only 141 plays scrobbled on They're the kind of band who have recipes on their website - you've gotta love that. I have no idea where I got this track but it's awesome, particularly the four opening chords on an instrument I really can't identify (though if forced to guess I'd say a guitar with some kind of effect) and then the random piano scale up to the chorus. Anyway, give it a shot. It's been a while since I posted. Life just seems to get in the way sometimes!

Spring Factory - No More

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Tom McRae - I Ain't Scared Of Lightning

Last nights Skins was awesome and I was particularly struck by the acoustic track playing at one point, which turned out to be I Ain't Scared Of Lightning by Tom McRae. I remember my friend Sam being obsessed with Tom McRae back in 2000 when his self-titled debut album, which this track closes, was released. I bought and enjoyed Just Like Blood, his second album, when it came two years later but I hadn't heard anything from him since. Apparently he's released two further albums, the most recent being 2007s King Of Cards. He's touring the UK this month. I need to pay more attention in class.

I aint scared of lightning
Come on and do your worst
If they gave degrees
For cheating destiny
Then man
I got a first

No I aint scared of lightning
It's the same old empty threat
I've been standing proud
Beneath the gathering cloud
And man
I ain't dead yet
No I ain't scared of lightning
And thunder never killed
I was born in a summer storm
I live there still
Yeah I was born in a summer storm
I live there still

Tom McRae - I Ain't Scared Of Lightning

Now playing: Tom Petty - Free Fallin'

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows covers

Today's post is inspired by a post on Said The Gramphone a few days back that featured a fantastic cover of The Beach Boys' God Only Knows, that most utterly irresistable of songs. Lots of people have covered it: a quick iTunes search gives exactly 150 results, including a disgustingly sentimental one by Joss Stone. *voms* Having said that, a surprising number of those results are not covers, but original songs. I'm surprised that anyone would try to write a track with the same name as such a classic as it's just asking to get negative comparisons. Even Gary Numan wrote an original "God Only Knows". Anyway, here's a randomish assortment of God Only Knows covers, plus the original.

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows

The Beach Boys - God Only Knows (A Capella)

That second track is just the vocals from the original recording, taken from the Pet Sounds Sessions box set released a couple of years back. It prompted a bunch of self-proclaimed bedroom composers to release a mashup of the full Pet Sounds sessions, titled "Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds". This track, like the album, is a bit patchy but excellent in places. I particularly like the beautiful, tentative opening and the accompaniment to the vocal bit about 2 minutes in.

Nybbl - God Only Knows

Here's an inoffensive cover from the curiously named Jonatha Brooke, taken from her 2004 album Back In The Circus

Jonatha Brooke - God Only Knows

A lovely version by Petra Haden that captures the quirkiness of the original track, with some funny attempts at bass lines.

Petra Haden - God Only Knows

And finally, the track that inspired this post, the excellent video game music style version by PDF Format.

PDF Format
- God Only Knows 64

Props to Said the Gramophone for the unintentional inspiration.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Mull Historical Society - Asylum

A bit of vintage Mull Historical Society here. I was reading about Mehdi Kazemi again (more info below). I don't know of any songs actually about asylum seekers, though it seems to me that there's a rich topic for exploring there. Anyway, simple minded as I am, I typed Asylum into my iTunes and came up with this song. The lyrics don't have anything to do with asylum seekers but it's a wonderful, and dignified, song about what is euphemistically referred to as mental health issues. and it made me remember how much I loved Mull Historical Society. MHS was Colin McIntyre's performing name; now he just wants to be known as Colin McIntyre. Good luck to him but I'm not impressed with his new material at all.. Sorry Colin!

Mull Historical Society - Asylum

Medhi Kazemi is a 19 year old Iranian gay male at risk of being deported back to Iran by the UK Home Office to an almost certain death (his boyfriend was executed less than a year ago while Medhi was in the UK studying at university). Click to read more and maybe send a few emails.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Garbage - Androgyny (Neptunes remix)

This just popped onto my iTunes on shuffle mode. TUNAGE. No more need be said methinks. Other than WHERE ARE YOU GARBAGE?

Garbage - Androgyny (Neptunes remix)

Monday, 7 April 2008

Skins soundtrack bits

Class episode of Skins last night - even if it doesn't make a metric tonne of sense. Here are three excellent tracks taken from the episode.

I especially loved the disco dancing teachers and hence I'm posting the wonderful 80s disco track they were wigging out (haha) to...

Lipps Inc - Funky Town

Later in the episode Cassie ran off to New York, met up with a guy called Adam, and went out to a club where a Canadian band called Born Ruffians were playing. I think this is the track they were playing but I may be wrong. They're touring in the UK in May and, based what I saw on Skins, they look awesome.

Born Ruffians - Hummingbird

More below...

The final track was the one at the close of the episode. Beautiful piano. I knew I'd heard it before but, not being a regular listener of Radios 1 & 2, didn't know what it was until Adele's album advert played in the break before the next programme. It was the first single and is the final track on her album 19, which was released back in January.

Adele - Hometown Glory

P.S. Here's a link to a relatively interesting, if a little old, Culture Sluts article about Skins, it's musical links to "New Rave" and its part in the downfall of youth..

Now playing: Britten: Rejoice In The Lamb - For I Am Under The Same Accusation With My Saviour

Elbow - Starlings

Elbow are playing the Oxford Academy tomorrow and my God do I wish I could be there but it's sold out and even if I wanted to go I'm so totally unable to stand up for a couple of hours without experiencing rather continuous pain. Here's the brilliant opening track from their most recent album, The Seldom Seen Kid, "Starlings". It's classic Elbow, similar in it's quiet quirkiness to the opening tracks of Cast of Thousands and Leaders of the Free World, with quietly rippling organ punctuated by blasting brass and the lyrics are just fantastic. They alternate between being an earnest declaration of love with beautiful metaphors and a knowing analysis of the lover.

Elbow - Starlings

How dare the Premier ignore my invitations? He'll have to go:
So, too, the bunch he luncheons with, it's second on my list of things to do
At the top I'm stopping by your place of work and acting like
I haven't dreamed of you and I and marriage in an orange grove
You are the only thing in any room you're ever in
I'm stubborn, selfish and too old.

I sat you down and told you how the truest love that's ever found is for oneself
You pulled apart my theory with a weary and disinterested sigh
So yes I guess I'm asking you to back a horse that's good for glue and nothing else
But find a man that's truer than, find a man that needs you more than I

Sit with me a while
And let me listen to you talk about
your dreams and your obsessions
I'll be quiet and confessional
The violets explode inside me
when I meet your eyes
Then I'm spinning and I'm diving
Like a cloud of starlings

Darling is this love?
P.S. There's a really rather wonderful bit of enthusing about this track over on Said The Gramaphone - take a look.

Now playing: Drew Danburry - Lynette I Love You

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Morrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart

This morning Word Magazine withdrew support for an article they published repeating and agreeing with NME's claims that Morrissey is racist:

It has been drawn to the Defendants’ attention that the closing paragraphs of Mr Quantick’s article could have been construed to suggest that Mr Morrissey was a racist, held racist opinions or that (as the child of migrant parents) he was a hypocrite. The article suggested that Mr Morrissey has in the past paid lip service only to anti-racism.

The Defendants never intended the article to have the meanings suggested above and wish to make absolutely clear that they disassociate themselves entirely from any such inferences that might be drawn from the article. The Defendants accept that it would be absurd to accuse Mr Morrissey of being a racist or of espousing racist views. They equally accept that Mr Morrissey is not a hypocrite, in relation in particular to the views he has expressed in the past in relation to British cultural identity.

The Defendants accept that Mr Morrissey is well known as a keen supporter of anti-racist groups and the Defendants wish to make absolutely clear that they never intended the article to suggest that Mr Morrissey was anything other than a sincere supporter of anti-racism initiatives.

The Defendants wish to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr Morrissey for any offence or distress that he may have been caused by the closing paragraphs of the article and are happy to make the position clear. [reproduced from Morrissey's website]
I don't claim to know everything about Morrissey, having only really started paying much attention to him and The Smiths in the last couple of years. I haven't heard every track he's ever written or paid attention to every comment he's ever made so I can't claim to be arguing from a completely informed position - though no-one can truly claim that. But I don't think that Morrissey is motivated by hatred of anything foreign. The thing that sparked the current row was Morrissey saying in the NME:
with the issue of immigration, it's very difficult because although I don't have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears.
What clearly motivates Morrissey here is a nostalgia for a past, and lost, England and English identity. And I think that a lot of people can sympathise with that - though not what it leads to. I can sympathise in the sense that I am totally charmed by the world described in Jeeves and Wooster. I have an affection for Britain in the same way that one loves ones slightly barmy but well-meaning granny. But I am not so attached to "British identity" that I'll be sad to see it go (though I will be sad to see my granny go!); in fact I find myself excited about the possibilities that immigration and travel brings. The sheer volume of foreign students in Oxford, and the number of languages you could hear just wandering around was just fascinating. So I don't disagree with Morrissey's nostalgia for the past, but I question where it might lead if it is taken to it's extreme. When he writes in Irish Blood, English Heart:
I've been dreaming of a time when
To be English is not to be baneful
To be standing by the flag not feeling
Shameful, racist or partial
I know what he means. People shouldn't be criticised purely for saying that they love aspects of the British identity. It's ridiculous to criticise people for loving something when it is fundamentally positive emotion. And that's why I think it was perhaps a little stupid and ill-thought-out for the NME to have such a go at Morrissey for performing a concert wrapped in a British flag. Wrapping yourself in your country's flag isn't necessarily saying that everything that doesn't belong to the country is inferior. But I hope Morrissey never forgets that a fundamental British characteristic is tolerance. I am proud of what Britain is (especially how liberal it is), but I want it to change, to evolve, to keep improving. People shouldn't be afraid of change. It's exciting!

Morrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart

Now playing: The Smiths - William, It Was Really Nothing

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Hard 'n' Phirm - Rodeohead

Here's a completely and utterly irresistable Bluegrass medley of Radiohead songs. I love it!

Hard 'n' Phirm - Rodeohead

Now playing: Hard 'n Phirm - Rodeohead

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Ghost in the Water - Clean Sinks and Folded Laundry

Here's a completely free single and b-side offered by Minneapolis electro-pop spouses Nathan and Mandy Tensen Wollery, a.k.a. Ghost in the Water, the kind of band who write about their dreams on their website. Love it. A-side Clean Sinks and Folded Laundry throbs with a self-involved independance, while b-side How To Draw A Ghost is a driving minor-key ode to frustrated desire. Their debut album Tooth is released April 8th - buy it direct.

Ghost in the Water
- Clean Sinks and Folded Laundry [external link]

Now playing: Ghost In the Water - Cardinal Red