Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Ben Folds - Losing Lisa

Ben Folds' new album is out today. How shall we celebrate? With a bouncy song about depression? Perfect.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Beatles - Let It Be

It's a strange, troubling and wonderful thing that words can be interpreted in different ways. I was listening to Aled Jones' Sunday Morning radio show on Radio 2 this morning (not through choice) when "Let It Be" came on. 

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, 
speaking words of wisdom, let it be. 
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, 
speaking words of wisdom, let it be. 

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. 
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be. 

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, 
there will be an answer, let it be. 
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see, 
there will be an answer. let it be. 

Let it be, let it be, ..... 

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me, 
shine until tomorrow, let it be. 
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me, 
speaking words of wisdom, let it be. 

Let it be, let it be, ..... 

Given that Aled Jones's show is basically a christian show (for all that it pretends to be multi-faith) I ended up thinking that the lyrics summed up really well the idea of faith. The song obviously uses religious imagery, that almost goes without saying. I'm really talking about the line "there will be an answer, let it be", which could be interpreted to suggest that you've got to wait for the answer to come from elsewhere. Saying "let it be" is basically saying "have faith". And because I knew that McCartney isn't a Christian I assumed that he was trying to picture things from a Christian's perspective, trying to understand faith. If this were the case then while McCartney might be trying to picture how it would feel to have that kind of faith, he might not necessarily be endorsing it - there's nothing in the song about the answer actually being found or the people in the world no longer being broken-hearted. I guess what I'm trying to say is that he could even be criticising faith by implying that just "letting it be" isn't actually doing any good.

This last sentence might be an interpretation too far. It certainly reflects how I feel about life - and I reckon one of the warning signs of over-interpretation is when a song suddenly seems to reflect your own opinion when it didn't five minutes ago! Still it shows how ambiguous words can be. I was mildly suprised to read this paragraph in Wikipedia:

McCartney explained that his mother—who died of cancer when McCartney was fourteen—was the inspiration for the "Mother Mary" lyric. McCartney later said, "It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing 'Let It Be'." He also said—in a later interview about the dream—that his mother had told him, "It will be alright, just let it be."
So it would seem that McCartney probably didn't set out to examine faith! In fact, it would seem from that paragraph that he endorses "letting it be". Not necessarily, but possibly. I don't pretend to have read enough on the subject, and I certainly don't have the finest of minds for interpreting songs.

Anyway, this all goes back to what I was saying earlier about the ambiguity of words being both troubling and wonderful. People care deeply about Beatles songs and it's not just because the music is awesome, it's also because the lyrics can be complex and worthy talking about. 

The Beatles - Let It Be

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Radiohead - Reckoner

Lovely wonderful Radiohead are, quote, "asking radio stations to play Reckoner", which I guess is the Radiohead equivalent of releasing a single, and they invite us to remix it. Get the bits from here

Friday, 19 September 2008

Jesse Dee - My Two Feet

Jesse Dee seems to have become an essential part of my daily listening. He inevitably crops up at some point in my head and then acts like an ear worm, burying himself in until I can't help but put the CD on. This trad jazz style track isn't really representative of the CD but it shows he's no one trick pony. (I wonder what trick it is that the famous one-trick pony has?). Jesse's got funk, soul, trad jazz and ballad all down. And what a voice. 

Jesse Dee released Bittersweet Batch on September the 16th. I'm not trying to push you toward buying it but if you don't, let's be honest, you've failed as a human being. 

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Manic Street Preachers - Australia

In some ways the bands you hear when you're first getting into music are the most important ones. They don't just reflect your developing taste, they help shape it. The Manic Street Preachers are one such band for me. When I was about 15 I was roped into playing keyboards at my dad's church and the guitarist there, Adrian, lent me Everything Must Go (1996) and This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours (1998) and I devoured them. I'd guess they were about the second band that I really paid attention to (Travis were the first). And I still get excited when I hear lyrics that aim for the same kind of eloquent, idealistic, passionate anger about injustice. Anyway, I found Everything Must Go in my attic a couple of weeks back and have been rediscovering it in the car. "Australia" was the fourth single off this album and suggests band members' reactions to Richie's disappearance.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Friends - Sleeping

Here's another track from The Friends' demo EP. It's so full of promise that I get excited just listening to it. I'm not sure which of the Friends is the lead singer but whoever it is sings with such joyous abandon as to make me grin all over. Yes. Grin all over. You heard me. Someone needs to sign these people, give them a shit load of money and let them make the best record ever. This might sound like hyperbole. I'm not sure it is.

Don't be put off by the slightly rough opening to the track (it is a demo, after all) it gets really good shortly after. And Happy Birthday to me.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Innercity Pirates - Compani-animals

We all know I love Los Campesinos! but fellow Taffs Innercity Pirates are equally awesome and if this video to "Cockney Sparra" is anything to go by they are going to be big. They released the Cockney Sparra EP back in June. Compani-animals is the third track and just edges it as my favourite, mainly for the lyric "you were my chocolate spread, I was your toasted bread", though there are plenty of gooduns including an East 17 reference - awesome.

Innercity Pirates - Compani-animals (alt)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Faded Paper Figures - North by North

Think Postal Service with boy-girl vocal harmonies - Faded Paper Figures could be the perfect late night driving soundtrack. Faded Paper Figures are Heather, John and Kael. Their debut album Dynamo was released back in July and is available from Tunes of the I and CDBaby.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Elle Milano - Laughing All The Way To The Plank

Brighton based three piece Elle Milano released their debut album back in April and this tight song of urban dissatisfaction is the opening track. There's a couple of awesome lines in this track. "When getting your attention we go 'SEX SEX SEX SEX'" is the first that I noticed. When I first listened through what stood out most aside from the tight music was them shouting "sex" - and I completely missed the irony. Clearly I'm part of the flat packed furniture generation. I'm also a big fan of "big ideas sound best when on your own".

Friday, 12 September 2008

Eisley - They All Surrounded Me

Not sure why Sherri Eisley looks so bemused but there's something about this photo I really like. Anyway. On Eisley's website they're teasing us with hints about their new album and photos of the recording session. Damn you Eisley. I want it now! Talk about your instant gratification generation. 

This is a random track off the Final Noise E.P. from 2006. 'Tis rather good and should whet your appetites for future albumage.

Yes, I said albumage.

Forgive me for rambling with stuff off the top of my head but I think what I like so much about Eisley is the way their voices blend. The way their voices work together reminds me of what Brian Wilson said when he was waxing lyrical about the beautiful blend in the Wilson brothers' voices, and how the voices of Al Jardine, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston didn't blend so well but added a bit of complexity to the sound. Eisley's voices blend so well it's almost as if one person is singing two or three lines at the same time.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists

You said "send me stationary to make me horny"
So I always write you letters in multicolours
Decorating envelopes for foreplay
Damn extended metaphors - I get carried away
I'm super duper pooper scooper excited as I've just heard (a little belatedly) that Cardiff-based wunderkinds Los Campesinos! are releasing a new album - already. Hold On Now Youngster was only released in February. That's pretty damned quick. It's tempting to worry that they haven't had enough time to create something as wonderful as wonderful as HONY but then when you listen to them you realise that they're pretty damned spontaneous - that's practically the sound of the album. Plus I'm thinking that they must be on a creative roll. Why waste it? 

My Year In Lists is about my favourite track on HONY: great lyrics and great music. There's something a little knowingly self-indulgent about some Los Campesinos! lyrics, as the opening lines show.

Los Campesinos!'s new album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, is released on October the 13th and they're touring the UK straight after.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Drug Rug - Day I Die

Fancy a laid-back singalong? Here's one from Drug Rug, except it's more. The closing instrumental brings in what sounds like a sample of orchestral strings in vibrato mode. Class. Drug Rug are from Cambridge MA and look like very nice people. I'm especially loving the snake bodywarmer. I'd find out more but it would get in the way of me listening. Just take a listen. Go on.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Super Furry Animals - Cloudberries

I've just found Love Kraft, a lost and much-missed Super Furry Animals album, in my attic. The Furries are so varied it's hard to sum them up unless you plump for the word eclectic. Love Kraft was a little more downbeat (though this is by no means true of the whole thing) than some Furry albums and as such is one of my favourites. Cloudberries is one of the two last songs, both of which are beautiful.

An unofficial website, superfurry.org, gives these as the lyrics - the numbered bits are presumably the titles of the three musical sections:
1. humming bird

She came into the room
Didn't know her name
How I danced inside
No one to confide
In the darkest winter
I made a sound like a long lost humming bird

2. friends of friends

Took a CIRCLE of friends
To the village SQUARE
Made us so aware
Of a distant era
But we're still here
To sing as humming birds

3. locust death march
Super Furry Animals - Cloudberries (alt)

Monday, 8 September 2008

Dr Dog - The Old Days

Honky-tonk arpeggios anyone? Apparently Dr Dog have been making this kind of rootsy psychadelica for years. All I can say is I wish someone in the US had told me. Goddamn you America! Why would you nurture something so beautiful and then keep it to yourself? This track is taken from their fifth studio album, Fate, which was released this year. And I missed it. What a loser I am.

Dr Dog - The Old Days (alt)

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Friends - I Fell In Love With A Ghost

Couple of days ago I was sitting in the car, listening to Pet Sounds, wishing there were more Beach Boys-loving bands who wore their hearts on their sleeves. The cosmic doodoo must have been listening - he should have been as we have a special arrangement - because next time I checked my email, The Friends had emailed me with their Demo EP. Here's the exuberant "I Fell In Love With A Ghost", complete with full on vocal harmony including some "doo wah wah wahs". There aren't enough "doo wah wah wahs" in the world.

I like The Friends very much. Nothing sounds better than people enjoying themselves, and The Friends are so wonderfully joyful as to make the world feel that little bit warmer. I really can't wait to here a proper studio recording. They're going to be featured here frequently until they sell their first gold record. (I've already warned them that gold isn't a very practical material but they seem determined.)

The Friends - I Fell In Love With A Ghost (alt)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Rufus Wainwright - Between My Legs

There are many great things about Rufus Wainwright but I must confess that it was the filth and innuendo that first got me interested. Have you heard Gay Messiah? That made me lol, as my brother is wont to say. This isn't quite as filthy but so so compelling. It's off his last album of his own music, 2007's Release The Stars.

Rufus Wainwright
- Between My Legs

Friday, 5 September 2008

Harry Nilsson - Everybody's Talkin'

There's something indescribably good about this classic. It's not just that it was on the soundtrack to a really good movie, Midnight Cowboy, a frank dealing with sex and money and dissolution that won 3 Oscars in 1969 (it's also on the soundtrack to Forrest Gump). It's the sense of hope/escapism in the lyrics. It's Nilsson's unique voice. It's the combination of the strings and the guitars. It's all of the above (and I think it's also partly a sense of nostalgia on my part). Anyway, if you don't have it, listen and and treasure it.

Harry Nilsson - Everybody's Talkin'

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Calexico - Two Silver Trees

This track grabbed me straight off. It's track 2 off Calexico's sixth album, Carried To Dust, which is released on the 9th of this very month. That's soon, people - do you have your wallets ready?

Calexico - Two Silver Trees

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Late Of The Pier - The Enemy Are The Future

Given that it's Wednesday, and (tongue firmly in cheek) "Wednesday is Mental Day", you should be listening to this. It's nu-rave youngsters Late of the Pier again, easily one of the most exciting bands I've heard this year. I have absolutely no idea what's going on in this track - and it's glorious. It's either a recorded-as-is live jam of the most inspired kind, or they're very good at recreating that vibe. It goes from David Bowie to Justice inspired breakdown via the Flaming Lips. It's schitzophrenic but cohesive, eclectic but united. More importantly than that it makes me want to dance like a twat.

Late Of The Pier - The Enemy Are The Future (alt)

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Captain - Keep An Open Mind

Suck the iron from my blood
And fashion into a small nail
Bang into your head
For all of things I've said
Isn't that class? "Keep An Open Mind" is the title track of Captain's new EP. If you can bear the fact that it's been picked up by Topshop then I think you'll love it. The reactionary left-winger in me bloody hates Topshop and the way it attempts to seem less corporate and evil by playing relatively unknown indie music in its stores. Goddamn you Topshop!

Captain are from London town. They have an extremely yukky biography up on last.fm ("conceived to sidestep the fashionistas and stand egoless next to their heroes", anyone?") but are actually pretty damned good, despite the best attempts of their promoter to make them sound like they live up his unwashed arse. Track 4 on the EP, "Satillites" is particularly nice, especially the yummy girl-boy vocal harmonies.

Captain - Keep An Open Mind (alt)