Monday, 30 June 2008

Pacific! - Break Your Social System

Revolutionary lyrics via the medium of funky electro-pop-dance. What more could you ask for on a Monday morn? Pacific! are from Sweden. I dunno what it is with Sweden. How are they so effortlessly cool? Pacific! released ther debut album Reveries earlier this year.

I'm having a bit of an operation today and may be woozy for a few days so I expect the next couple of posts will be a bit random. Having said that, most of my posts are a bit random, so maybe they'll seem unusually lucid.

Pacific! - Break Your Social System

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Death In Vegas - Aisha

While randomly skipping through the jukebox in the pub a couple of nights ago I came across this song, which I hadn't heard for ages. What a CHOON. The whole thing is just effortlessly cool and with Iggy Pop as the vocalist, well, it's time for superlatives.

Death in Vegas - Aisha

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Los Campesinos! - The International Tweexcore Underground

Today, I am we. Bear with me/us. It's been a long day (and it's only about 11am)!

We love Los Campesinos! very much here at A Cloud Of Starlings. They makes us do a small wee with pleasure. Their debut record, Hold On Now, Youngster! is our favourite of the year so far: exuberant, funny, clever, happy, shouty, and singalongy. (Yes, singalongy, that IS a word, what's your problem?).

This track wasn't on their debut, but was a single from back in 2007. It got to #126 on the UK singles chart which says a lot more about the UK singles chart than the song.

Los Campesinos - The International Tweexcore Underground

Friday, 27 June 2008

Angus and Julia Stone - Here We Go Again

I'm feeling really blue today. You may laugh at this but my favourite chicken, Brain, got taken by the fox, and I only just managed to save Pinky. The names don't help you take it seriously, do they? I nearly put "R.I.P Brain" as my Facebook status but realised that was asking people to laugh. I'm really not joking! I mean, I'm starting to feel a certain amount of gallows humour but I'm still really upset. Bastard fox.

Anyway, here's a song that may chase the blues away. Kings of Convenience style guitars with harmonies that remind me of the Magic Numbers. Angus and Julia Stone are Australian siblings, whose debut album A Book Like This was released back in March and reached 5 in the Australian chart, though I must confess to not having heard of them before a couple of weeks ago. Pretty damned good though!

Angus and Julia Stone
- Here We Go Again

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Blah Blah Blah - Death To The Indie Disco

"Death to the indie disco
Death to the London scene
Death to the dancers in their best clothes
To be in your gang dont mean a shit to me

In a backlash to conformity
Where by there is a format thats obligatary
This all seems quite contradictory
So we've got nothing in common"

I couldn't agree more.

Blah Blah Blah are, apparently, often described as the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I dunno about that (whoever wrote that obviously hasn't ever stirred a slurrey pit. That's a joke by the way. hafuckingha) but they certainly are endearingly ebullient. That's my word for the day, by the way.

Blah Blah Blah - Death to the Indie Disco

Now playing: Dresden Dolls - Night Reconnaissance

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day; Regina Spektor - Chemo Limo

Cancer is an extremely difficult subject to treat sensitively. These two songs are the only two I know of to so do well. The first is Sufjan Steven's 'Casimir Pulaski Day' off the Come on! Feel the Illinoise! album (2005). It's written from the perspective of a Christian (I assume male), in love with Christian girl who has been diagnosed with cancer of the bone, and is full of wise perspectives on how people deal with anticipated grief. It's sad but it's also about the beauty of life. I recommend reading the lyrics.

Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulasky Day

Regina Spektor's 'Chemo Limo' is written from the perspective of someone with terminal cancer, though this isn't immediately obvious. In fact, initially it's surreally funny ("crispy crispy Benjamin Franklin") but soon the dark underside to the lyrics becomes apparent and it's heartbreaking, especially the part about Barbara. Lyrics.

Regina Spektor - Chemo Limo

Now playing: Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From The Dead!! Ahhhh!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tim Williams - Novel

Sky's now clear, do you like what you see? I do!
Living in your garbage, throwing in your dreams
We know that if you live your life all that way
You're stuck in the novel that no-one will let you leave
Tim Williams - Novel

Sometimes it's best not to say too much, other than that I like it muchly.


There is something I want to talk about, and that is what everyone else is talking about... COLDPLAY. I really really like their song 'Vida La Vida'. I can't get enough of it. I hear it on the radio and there's goosebumps. The orchestra accompaniment is just phenomenal - I think it's the best bit of orchestral writing I've ever heard in a pop song. But I've listened through the album a couple of times now and I don't think there's anything else there that comes close, musically or lyrically. There are a few good-enough songs, but nothing anywhere near comparable. Worst are tracks like 'Lost?' The music is ok but the lyrics are absolutely awful. The first half has a series of typical Coldplay "clever" lyrics:
Just because I'm losing
Doesn't mean I'm lost
Doesn't mean I'll stop
Doesn't mean I will cross

Just because I'm hurting
Doesn't mean I'm hurt
Doesn't mean I didn't get what I deserve
No better and no worse

I just got lost
Every river that I've tried to cross
Every door I ever tried was locked
Ooh-Oh, And I'm just waiting till the shine wears off...
My personal favourite is the clunker "Just because I'm hurting doesn't mean I'm hurt". Well, I'm sorry but I really think it does.

And then we get this little beauty:
You might be a big fish
In a little pond
Doesn't mean you've won
'Cause along may come
A bigger one
And you'll be lost
Now, I'm sorry Mr Martin, but everybody knows how the big fish in the little pond thing works. We were taught in primary school for fuck's sake. If you really must use it, at least add to it, don't just paraphrase it. It's just lazy.

This is a criticism I'd extend to pretty much every Coldplay album. The music is frequently beautiful, especially on Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head. The lyrics can sometimes be pretty good (I really like the lyrics of 'Vida La Vida', by the by) but sometimes they are just blah, and blah for 50 minutes can make even the most beautiful music dull after about 5 listens. They rarely - if ever - make you think; rather they're just cut and paste cliches and grand but vague statements that anyone can listen to and think "yeah, that expresses what I feel". Don't get me wrong here, I'm not some ridiculous idiot who thinks that there's something inherently wrong with that, I just know that it's not for me, and that I don't think much of the people who think that the "big fish small pond" analogies are particularly profound. They sound profound because they're accompanied by beautiful music but if you took the music away and read them out in a room full of people, you'd rapidly get slow handclaps and people leaving. Compare most of the lyrics of Coldplay with some of Radiohead's best (Radiohead are so often cited as an influence on Coldplay) and I think you'll see what I mean. Thom Yorke writes far better analogies and can also construct a narrative, which is something I've not found in a Coldplay track. I'm not saying Thom Yorke writes the best lyrics in the world, just that Chris Martin ought to pay more attention to their lyrics, having already developed a wonderful sound.

Radiohead - Subterrannean Homesick Alien
The breath of the morning
I keep forgetting
The smell of the warm summer air

I live in a town
Where you can't smell a thing
You watch your feet
For cracks in the pavement

Up above
Aliens hover
Making home movies
For the folks back home

Of all these weird creatures
Who lock up their spirits
Drill holes in themselves
And live for their secrets

They're all uptight
Uptight.. (x7)

I wish that they'd swoop down in a country lane
Late at night when I'm driving
Take me on board their beautiful ship
Show me the world as I'd love to see it

I'd tell all my friends
But they'd never believe
They'd think that I'd finally lost it completely

I'd show them the stars
And the meaning of life
They'd shut me away
But I'd be all right
All right..

I'm just uptight
Uptight.. (x7)

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Broadcast 2000 - Get Up And Go

Don't read this post yet, just listen to the track - it's lush.

Broadcast 2000 - Get Up And Go

It's by Broadcast 2000, which is basically classically trained multi-instrumentalist Joe Steer. He only played his first solo indie gig in March and he's already been Steve Lamacq's artist of the week and been played on Huw Stevens' radio 1 new music show. It's the backing music that gets me; throbbing strings, glistening glockenspiel ostinati, and what I think is a mandolin. Plus there's vocal harmony all the way through, especially in the singalong chorus, and I can't help but love that shit.

And is it me or is he a total hottie?

BUY IT: iTunes, 7Ditigal, HMV etc

Now playing: Broadcast 2000 - Get Up And Go (on repeat!)

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Cara Beth Satalino - Lullaby

Here's another fantastic track from Cara Beth Satalino. She recently released an EP called "The Good Ones", which is only $6, or just under three of our British Pounds. You can't argue with that.

Cara Beth Satalino - Lullaby

Love to your mothers

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Brendan Canning - Hit The Wall

Broken Social Scene's bearded bassist Brendan Canning's debut solo album Something For All Of Us is released in July - you can pre-order a digital copy here. I completely missed this song being released as a single back in May but it's pretty damned awesome and I'm annoyed that I'm late; it's a driving, implacable, restless sound that builds in complexity before fizzing to a halt.

Brendan Canning
- Hit The Wall

P.S. If, like me, you use, check out LastGraph, which sorts your listening history into a beautiful flow diagram. Here is mine (bear in mind that Ive only been using for a couple of months).

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Hot Club De Paris - Hey House Brick

"When the rent is due, the rent is due /the pounds and the pennies, they find more interesting things to do."
This is the sound of Hot Club De Paris, whose second album was released on the 16th.

Hot Club De Paris - Hey! Housebrick!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Esser - I Love You

Here's some yummy pop from fit but mildly crazed-looking Londoner Esser. He's touring all over the bloody place in the UK at the moment as part of the Transgressive Hot Summer Tour. Here's the BIZARRE video to this track... (does he really throw up at the end???)

and here's the track.

Esser - I Love You

I love you too, Esser.

OK, and I love you, dear reader. Now quit bothering me.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Ben Folds Five - Your Redneck Past

Possibly the goofiest, quirkiest Ben Folds Five song there is, "Your Redneck Past" also has some very funny lyrics mocking people who try, and fail, to deny their roots. The mock American-French verse is priceless:

Désolé, je suis américain
Please cook my steak again
Je suis américain
Désolé, je ne parle pas français

Ben Folds has three dates in the UK late this month and more later in the year.

Ben Folds - Your Redneck Past

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Dennis Wilson - River Song

Oh good golly gosh, I say in my very English way. I was really blown away by this track when I first heard it. I was having a spree of listening to Brian Wilson's 2004 version of SMiLE and out of a simple curiosity about the other members of the Beach Boys just happened to wander onto Dennis Wilson's Wikipedia entry. Curiosity led me to actually check out his only album, Pacific Ocean Blue (1977). When I pressed play - I must be honest - I thought it had all gone a bit Elton John (groan) but then in came the choir and OH MY GOD. It's lush in the original sense of the word. Proper lush! There's even a "Great Gig In The Sky" woman! And you can see that SMiLE and Pacific Ocean Blue have a common origin but the two brothers have taken two different directions. You can really hear the soul in Dennis.

Pacific Ocean Blue is being re-released by Legacy on the 17th, having been out of print for almost 20 years, and it really is well worth a buy.

Dennis Wilson - River Song

Now playing: Dennis Wilson - Farewell My Friend

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Masada - Khebar

I'm off to the beach. I've got my handkerchief with four knots and I'm ready for some lobster sunburn. Watch out West Wales.

I guess today's mp3 could be beach music but I must confess to not having heard it at any beach party I've ever been to. It's crazy New York saxophonist John Zorn's Jewish jazz quartet Masada playing a track called "Khebar" live.

Masada - Khebar

Friday, 13 June 2008

Simone White - Haven't Got A Dollar To Pay Your House Rent Man

I've been meaning to post this for a while and I've just been filling out student funding applications so it seemed about the right time. The upshot of the funding application is basically that I'm going to be skint! Fun fun motherfucking fun.

Simone White is a singer-songwriter from Hawaii and she didn't have shoes until she was four. I'm not going to have shoes until I'm 24 so I guess there's some kind of parallel. I expect she does now have at least one pair as her "Beep Beep Beep" song was used in a car ad. There's no need for you to know this but I really like her hair.

Simone White - Haven't Got A Dollar To Pay Your House Rent Man

P.S. acloudofstarlings is now on Hypem!

Now playing: Semisonic - El Matador

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Elbow - Great Expectations

Elbow released a new single, One Day Like This, last week, off their Seldom Seen Kid album.

Elbow are the kind of band worth celebrating. Beautiful music with clever, powerful lyrics. Unlike most of the stuff I post on here, I actually find them quite difficult to share or talk about, and I think it's partly because all of their stuff seems incredibly intimate. Take "Great Expectations" off Leaders of the Free World...

And if it rains all day
Call on you I'll call on you
Like I used to
Slide down beside and wrap you in stories
Tailored entirely for you
I'll remind you
We exchanged a vow
I love you I always will

A call girl with yesterday eyes
Was our witness and priest
Stockport supporters club kindly supplied us a choir
Your veil was your smile
As we move down the aisle
Of the last bus home
And this is where I go
Just when it rains

Blinking and stoned
Rain in your hair
You only smoke ‘cause it's something to share
Singing bring on the night
To have and to hold
The sodium light turning silver to gold

Spitfire thin and strung like a violin
I was
Yours was the face with a grace
From a different age
You were the sun in my Sunday morning
You were the sun in my Sunday morning
Telling me never to go
So I'll live on the smile
And move down the isle
Of the last bus home
And if you're running late
This is where I'll go
Know I'll always wait
It's not addressed to me in any way shape or form but somehow it feels like it's mine, ridiculous as that is. In my mind I am that the guy singing the song. The music aches with what the guy feels. And the "Stockport supporters club" line - so so soooooo inexpressibly good.

I'm trying to fight this silliness, so here it is - my favourite ever Elbow track, laid bare for your criticism. Having said that, I won't hear a bad word, even if you shout them at me, I just won't. This is the kind of music that can change your life.

Elbow - Great Expectations

Now playing: Elbow - Mexican Standoff

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Thao Nguyen & the Get Down Stay Down

And now, ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, a song about a bag of hammers.

Thao Nguyen & the Get Down Stay Down - Bag Of Hammers

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Cranky - David Bowie Cries For No-one

I have absolutely no idea who Cranky are, but I suspect that they're not who suggest (1. a rave artist from Japan; or 2. an Australian rock/groove/hip-hop group from the 1990s). The song fascinates me. I absofuckinglutely love the title and enjoy the Bowie lyric references, but I don't know Bowie that well that I feel like I've worked them all out. Yet.

Plus, whoever is singing sounds a lot like David Bowie. Is it David Bowie?

Cranky - David Bowie Cries For No-One

I googled the song and came up with a shiteload of crap, including this rather bizarre flickr pic, which is titled "David Bowie Cries For No-One". "Luzzu" made it. I don't know who Luzzu is but if you want a fix of the random, check out Luzzu's photostream. I don't know what's going on any more.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Cara Beth Satalino - Cage of Ribs

A million and three people say that she sounds like Regina Spektor. I guess that's kind of true but it's also fucking boring. She's got a wonderful voice and she writes interesting lyrics. She's also some pleasingly cheesy synth string chords. Are you telling me you need more? Quit bothering grandpa.

Cara Beth Satalino - Cage of Ribs

Friday, 6 June 2008

The Boy Least Likely To - I Box Up All The Butterflies

Here's some bouncy banjo joy. Or, as it shall now be known, "boubanjoy". Watch out world, here comes G's Big Dictionary of Awesomeness.

The Boy Least Likely To - I Box Up All The Butterflies

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Jens Lekman - And I Remember Every Kiss

Jens Lekman - And I Remember Every Kiss

"But I will never kiss anyone
Who doesn't burn me like the sun"

This is the opening track to Scandinavian pop genius Jens Lekman's 2007 album Night Falls Over Kortedala, available as a download direct from the label. Check out the title to the previous album while you're at it!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Catherine Feeny - Mr Blue

Catherine Feeny - Mr Blue

Here's a charming miniature for a lovely sunny day. I really like the fact that, according to her biography on, Catherine Feeny is "originally from Philadelphia but [is] now residing in Norfolk". Seriously? How did the folks from Philly react to that minor move?

Mr Blue is the second track on her 2007 debut album Hurricane Glass. She's currently working on a new album.

P.S. One of my countless millions of readers mentioned to me that she's having trouble listening to the posts. I've just embedded the Yahoo Media Player which will hopefully simplify things. Either click the little play button by the file or to play all the songs, expand the grey bit towards the bottom of the left hand side and it should play through them all. If it doesn't work, let me know.

Monday, 2 June 2008

The Smiths - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

Morrissey releases a new single today (buy it here) and to celebrate here's a classic Smiths track.

The Smiths - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

This new single is called All You Need Is Me and was first released as a new track on last year's Greatest Hits. Here's the video; below are the brilliant lyrics, which are clearly directed toward music critics:

You hiss and groan and you constantly moan
But you don't ever go away
That's because
All you need is me

You roll your eyes up to the skies
Mock horrified
But you're still here
All you need is me

There's so much destruction
All over the world
And all you can do is
Complain about me

You bang your head against the wall
And say you're sick of it all
Yet you remain
'Cause all you need is me

And then you offer your one and only joke
And you ask me what will I be
When I grow up to be a man
Uhm, nothing!

There's a soft voice singing in your head
Who could this be?
I do believe it's me

There's a naked man standing, laughing in your dreams
You know who it is
But you don't like what it means

There's so much destruction
All over the world
And all you can do is
Complain about me

I was a small, fat child in a council house
There was only one thing I ever dreamed about
And Fate has just
Handed it to me - whoopee

You don't like me, but you love me
Either way you're wrong
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
You're gonna miss me when I'm gone
I love Morrissey. He is absolutely brilliant at writing pointed lyrics with double meanings and ambiguous allusions. He's one of those artists who totally repays the amount of listening time you invest. I particularly like the line "There's a naked man standing, laughing in your dreams / You know who it is / But you don't like what it means". Clever clever man. And he's very funny in the video too. Obviously he's not perfect, as I've discussed before, but who is?

Now playing: The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar

RadioheadRadiohead's old label, Parlophone, are releasing a "best of" this coming week. I don't think - though I'm not sure - that Radiohead had anything to do with it, though presumably they'll make some money out of it? I don't know how copyright law works in this kind of thing but I'd assume that the label doesn't OWN the songs.

Anyway, I don't envy whoever had to choose the track listing:

  1. There are so many good tracks, which do you choose. You're inevitably going to leave out an awesome one (see the comments to this NME story about the track listing).
  2. The average Radiohead fan isn't like the average Keane fan. They're fucking obsessive. They're going to be able to sing most of the songs, will have most of the albums, will have named domestic animals and perhaps children after band members. I can't imagine the Keane Best Of inspiring the same response as that in that NME story I linked to above. "Keane Best Of" - HAHAHAHA.
  3. You're not going to be able to include any of the tracks from the most recent album.
  4. Radiohead have progressed so much that listening to Pablo Honey (1993) is completely different to listening to In Rainbows (2008). In fact I'd say that In Rainbows is more similar to Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001) - I'd describe those two as as far away from their original sound as the band have got. In Rainbows and its predecessor Hail To The Thief (2003) has elements of Kid A but I feel like they're trying to unite that sound with a more guitar based sound. I can't think of another recent band that has changed so dramatically in the course of their career (and been so consistently successful with it). Given that, how do you arrange the album? Do you go for the chronological approach? Probably not - Pablo Honey, while good, is nowhere near as good as some of the later ones. But when I hear a track from an early album before or after a track from Kid A I just feel like it jarrs. It's too different a sound. So I guess my ideal would be semi-chronological and style based. I guess the real question is, what would Radiohead do...
Anyway, here's a track from Pablo Honey which rightfully makes it to the best of. Nice bit of socially awkward angst in these lyrics.

Radiohead - Anyone Can Play Guitar

But, kids, rather than buying the Best Of you're much better just investing in the whole catalogue, probably starting with The Bends and OK Computer, then Kid A and Amnesiac, all of which are fascinating, often beautiful, minor-history making bits of music.

As to their more recent stuff, I see Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows as trying to unite the sound of those four albums (and they're great albums too). If you prefer Kid A and Amnesiac to The Bends and OK Computer, try out Thom Yorke's solo release The Eraser (2006); if visa versa, explore Pablo Honey.