New Band Friday #1

I mentioned a few days ago that I have a small book that I am forever writing the names of bands or tracks in the back of.   These are bands or tracks that I hear on the radio or via a podcast or via an article somewhere that the author has simply loved so much that you have to see what the fuss is all about.  

This series is sort of inspired by that book and those notes.  I’ve called it New Band Friday but in reality most of these acts won’t all be new but rather they are new to me. One things for sure is that they will all be awesome.  Bands or acts that are making the sort of music that makes you suddenly sit up and stop what you are doing and find out more about what you are listening to

One band who are doing exactly that are London’s DEADLETTER who insist that you type their name in capitals (which makes them automatically brilliant).

Fit for Work – DEADLETTER (2020, Nice Swan Recordings)

‘Fit for work’ was released last year and is the bands second single and it is an extraordinary piece of work.  It’s hugely political and takes aim at the Department of Work and Pensions as a stream of people who clearly can’t work (due to them being dead, blind, having no legs etc) are given reasons why they should be working. 

Singer Zac Woolley half talks and half sings his way through the excuses of why these people can’t work and then bats them away with an increasing level of exasperation   (“Johnny’s missing two arms but his legs look dandy…fit for work, Brian’s lost’s his legs but he wheels himself well…FIT FOR WORK”).  It’s deliberately sarcastic and it’s bloody brilliant because of it.

The statement of “Fit for Work” brings the noise as a cascade of instruments including possibly the greatest use of a bassoon in rock ever as the band whip you into a frenzy. 

Earlier this year the band released their latest single – this one takes aims at trendsetters, digital dictators and social media influencers and its equally as infectious as ‘Fit For Work’.  An album is expected in the early part of 2022.

Pop Culture Connoisseur – DEADLETTER (2021, Nice Swan Recordings)

Happy New Year Y’all.

The Ramshackle Brilliance of the Chart Show Indie Chart #1

The indie chart rundown on Saturday Lunchtime Music Programme ‘The Chart Show’ was brilliantly ramshackle and had a real cobbled together feel to it, bands names were often spelt wrong, the wrong videos were played for the wrong songs, the snippets that appeared on the screen would seem to be made up – for example

When he is not performing on stage, singer Robert Smith likes hot air ballooning over Cheshire, walking his poodle Trevor and challenging his wife to a jaffa cake eating contest”.

But it was for about five minutes every three Saturdays, indie music heaven and some genius has plopped a load of these on You Tube, if I had a hat, I would tip in your direction Sir.

What I thought would be fun is to select a random Chart Show Indie Top Ten, obviously I can’t show the videos – but I can talk about the music that features within the You Tube Clips if that makes sense ….I’ve started with the chart from March 11th 1995. 

So cue the weird fairground horse carousel montage that they used to introduce the chart……

The first three records are all going down the chart and we are treated to about ten seconds of each before a big FFWD button speeds them off.  They are all by acts who start with an E.  Eat Static are at ten, and looking by them, they have probably ingested a fair few E’s of the own, they are replaced by Edwyn Collins who is replaced by this

Waking Up – Elastica (1995, Deceptive Records)

After Elastica is another band who start with an E.  Eight Story Window.  Now in 1995, I was all over the music scene, I was at the time probably arranging gigs and I was definitely receiving around thirty different records a week to review for the student rag.  I have never heard of Eight Story Window, not then and not now.  Why the Chart Show played this I have no idea.  Songwhip appear to have nothing by Eight Story Window so I can’t post anything by them –  but I can guarantee you wouldn’t have liked it anyway.  

After about two minutes ‘I Will’ by Eight Story Window is booted (that by the way is the most press that Eight Story Window have had in 26 years) and they are replaced briefly by ‘No More Affairs’ by Tindersticks, which is going up the chart, it doesn’t stop it getting the boot after about eight seconds where it is replaced by

Rattled By The Rush – Pavement (1995, Matador Records)

Which is also going up the chart but we only get to hear ten seconds or so before that too is booted for another climber.  I mean they could have played that or indeed the track at four instead of Eight Story bloody Window.  The song at number four is

Kung Fu – Ash (1995, Infectious Records)

As you will see as this series progresses, Ash and Pavement would appear to be indie’s Poison because they seem to be on every single indie chart run down that I’ve watched.  Even when they have stopped releasing records.

After nine seconds, ‘Kung Fu’ gets the heave ho and is replaced with number 3 which is

Solitary Party Groover – Drugstore (1995, Roadrunner Records)

Which again is going up but is not played.  Drugstore were very much underrated and are much missed around these parts. 

When I watched this video for the first time, I was genuinely excited by what could be in the top two – this is March 1995, the height of the all conquering Britpop, surely we are getting Oasis or Pulp or Blur (or the ones signed to an indie at least)….Nope we are getting Salad.   And not good Salad either – and I’m fairly sure by the time this was released Salad were signed to a major.  

Drink the Elixir – Salad (1995, Island Records)

Which thankfully leaves the screen quickly and ushers in the Number 1 indie record and again its massively disappointing.  Britpop Boo Radleys were not a great thing.  I think even they would agree with me.

Wake Up Boo – Boo Radleys (1995, Creation)

They get the full video treatment the snippets tell us that Sice from the band likes being thrown over the edge of Niagara Falls in a barrel and that Martin Carr is a Morris Dancer at the weekend and then it too is fast forwarded and something by The Corrs come on.

Bands with a city in their name #3

Geraldine – Glasvegas (2008, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘Glasvegas’)

I only saw Glasvegas live the once. In 2007 at a really small pub in Exeter as part of a short lived idea called ‘Club NME’. The idea was a good one, pubs would use the NME brand, stick on a club night and bands would play as part of it. The problem even in 2007, was that the NME was on its way out and bands had already started turning to things like MySpace and Soundcloud to promote their music, so no one was that interested.

Anyway, Glasvegas were pretty much the only band of any worth that played the Exeter version of Club NME, although I seem to recall this lot playing there (I didn’t go though) a few weeks before. The gig was about two weeks before the bands breakthrough single ‘Daddys Gone’ was released (which on re-release would enter the charts at Number 12) and they were bloody great.

Daddy’s Gone – Glasvegas (2007, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘Glasvegas’)

They played for about 25 minutes, were all dressed head to foot in black, didn’t say a single word to the audience, and spent most of the time clouded in the smoke being churned out by the wheezy sounding smoke machine behind them. The coolest thing about them, was their drummer who stood (a la Bobby G in his JAMC days) and tribally beat the drums like her life depended on it.

‘Geraldine’ was the bands third single and it reached the Top Twenty and remains to this day the best song ever written about a merchanidise seller who used to be a social worker. The b side was none to shabby either.

The Prettiest Thing On Saltcoats Beach – Glasvegas (2008, Columbia Records)

In Praise of the Band TShirt #1

Not Me

Come Home – James (Fontana, 1990, Taken from ‘Gold Mother’)

In Christmas 1990 Santa gave me a James T-shirt not dissimilar to one in the picture above. I think I wore it non stop for about a month. I thought I was the coolest kid about (in reality I was awkward, socially naïve, sported a haircut that was worryingly like a mullet (well I trying to grow it long), and had only just got round to removing the Milli Vanilli cassettes from the drawer full of tapes I had). It was a worn like a badge of honour, even though I had to explain to curious grandparents who James were and had to tell complete strangers about twenty times that I wasn’t called James.

Of course back then James sold more T-shirts than they did records, to the point that my T-shirt was neither cool or unusual because loads of people were wearing them, including bizarrely my P.E Teacher, Mr Arnold. The ‘es’ of the logo could sometimes be seen underneath his white shirt.

Mr Arnold was too many a complete bastard. Largely because he made us do laps of the sports field in the freezing cold or kicked footballs at us if we spoke whilst he was teaching us on the pitch. He also bowled a mean leg break, something I found out in the annual staff vs pupils cricket match, when he sent my middle stump flying just as I was getting comfortable on 7 not out.

Anyway, one school disco, I turned up in my James T-Shirt and this would have been about a week or two before ‘Lose Control’ came out and us cool indie kids (there were four of us, two James T-Shirts, one New Order shirt, one Clash Shirt) sat on the benches at the back and tried out best to look cool and pathetically fail in any attempts to impress girls, when over walked Mr Arnold, a pissed off look on his face, because he had to babysit half drunk teenagers on a Friday night and not be down the pub beating people up, which we guessed is where he spent most of his Fridays (like all P.E Teachers, right?).

Lose Control – James (1990, Fontana Records, Taken from ‘Gold Mother’)

I’ll be honest, we’d had a can of cider each and we had a slightly hazy look about us because of it – it would have probably have been Merrydown Cider lifted from my dads cupboard and downed in about two minutes on the way to disco. We quickly stuffed our mouths which polo mints, and tried to not to look scared when Mr Arnold sat next to us.

“Two things”, he said with a Northern growl, we shuffled along a bit in case he tried to kill us with his bare hands. “Firstly, James are on the John Peel Show next week, you should probably check it out.” A pause. A double take. “And secondly, because you four appear to have developed decent taste in music, I shall choose to ignore the fact that I saw you drinking cider down the alley behind the butchers before the disco, have a good night, lads, remember Peel next week.” and with that he wandered off to harass a lad wearing some Fila Trainers.

Sit Down – James (1991, Fontana Records, Single)

Music found in Charity Shops #1

Idea liberally borrowed from Charity Chic Blog – one of the longest running and most eclectic blogs out there.

Backyard Skulls – Frightened Rabbit (2013, Atlantic Records, Taken from ‘Pedestrian Verse’)

Quite a simple series this. All the music posted in this series will be from albums or singles that I have found in a charity shop. This particular one was found in the Childrens Hospice Shop in Teignmouth for the princely sum of £1.50. Please support your local charity shops.

The back story of Frightened Rabbit is of course well known, their singer, Scott Hutchinson sadly took his own life in May 2018. He had suffered from mental health problems for a long time.

‘Pedestrian Verse’ is an exceptional album, a real find for £1.50. It is an album full of characters, tales and warnings of the pitfalls of everyday life each one wrapped in brilliant lyricsmithery (if that is even a word) from Scott Hutchinson.

Acts of Man – Frightened Rabbit (2013, Atlantic Records)

The theme of family and particularly parenthood runs through this record, though not in an overtly sugary way, there are no songs about loving your mum and dad on display here. In ‘State Hospital for instance, a mother is described as having a “heart that beats like a breezeblock thrown down the stairs”.

State Hospital – Frightened Rabbit (2013, Atlantic Records)

Elsewhere ‘Pedestrian Verse’ also tackles cheery old subjects such as religion and sin and briefly touches on violence as well. Each one is determindly unglamourised and the emotional and frank honesty in the lyrics is weirdly refreshing.

The Boxing Day Shuffle

Something In The Way – Nirvana (1994, DGC Records, Taken from ‘MTV Unplugged In New York’)

Hey folks. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas Day. I’m not going to say much today, but just gentle nudge you along to kitchen where there is a cup of tea waiting for you. Oh and the dishes need doing and the leftover turkey that the cat has spewed onto the floor needs clearing up. When you’ve done that three of the presents you bought the kids are broken already, so can you find the receipts please and whilst you are at it, that awful jumper that your mother bought you – that can go as well….

Next Week will see a bit of a change – as I’ve had some ideas that I am going to test out.

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #5

I know that I said that these were in no order, and that it doesn’t matter if one thing was better than another and I stand by that. But…these four tracks here are I think my favourite four tracks of the year. They are certainly the ones I have played and enjoyed the most.

Let’s start on the Isle of Wight with Wet Leg, who if the hype is to be believed might just be the best new guitar to have emerged since, well, ever. Certainly ‘Chaise Longue’ is probably the most addictively catchy debut single since ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ with its downright suggestively filthy talk of buttered muffins and worrying mothers.

1.Wet Leg – Chaise Longue (2021, Single, Domino Records)

Talking of addictively catchy, before ‘Chaise Longue’ dropped, there was ‘Rhythm Is Our Business’ by bonkers London group Snapped Ankles. A song which pretty much soundtracked my summer, with wonky keyboards and its mutant sounding guitars.

2. Snapped Ankles – Rhythm Is Our Business (2021, The Leaf Label)

Next up over to South Wales and a band called The Vela Incident, who at the start of the year released a huge sweeping record full of crashing drums, and swooping soundscapes which to me sounded like all the best bits of an early Verve record (i.e when they were brilliant, rather than just very good). I know very little about The Vela Incident but if any of their other records are anywhere near as good as ‘For All Lost Souls then world domination surely beckons.

3. For All Lost Souls – The Vela Incident (2021, Single)

and finally over to Japanese Breakfast – whose third album ‘Jubilee’ is probably the best record of the year (although Little Simz, Bicep, Dry Cleaning, Kacey Musgraves might all have something to say about that). The lead single to it was ‘Be Sweet’ which turned out to be ace as well, a mishmash of 80s synth pop and shoegaze-y vibes that just rattles away with positive energy. Plus it has persimmons on the cover of it, and they are coolest fruits around.

4. Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast (2021, Dead Ocean Records)

And Today Christmas Song is this piece of (lovely) old cheese – but only because Songwhip didn’t have the Andrew WK version of ‘Do They Know Its Christmas?’. Sort it Songwhip.

White Christmas – Frank Sinatra

Merry Christmas – back in a few days,

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #4

1. Check The Lock – clipping. (2020, Sub Pop Records, Taken from Visions of Bodies Being Burned’)

Employing one of Shabazz Palaces as head of A&R has mean Sub Pop have signed some incredible hip hop acts in recent years. One of them has been clipping. a trio that make records about murder, horror and monstrous things. Its a genre called ‘horrorcore’ apparently.

“Check the Lock” is the highpoint on their most recent album (their third) and tells a story of a drug dealer plagued by threats some of which might be real, some might not be. The lyrics rebound of paranoid sounding percussion and a scary sounding bass competes for space with an eerily echo-y synth.

Next up from horrorcore to proper old school hip hop.

2. Copy That – Bronx Slang (2020, Fabyl Records)

Bronx Slang produce hip hop that harks back to the time when Public Enemy were hitting the mics so hard that it was impossible to ignore them. ‘Copy That’ is a devastating anti establishment blast that uses radio crackles and big old beats and a crunching electric guitar to make its point and its brilliantly done.

3. Mustang – Bartees Strange (2020, Memory Music Records)

The debut album by Bartees Strange is a wonderful mixture of several genres at the same time. ‘Mustang was one of the first tracks to surface in promotion of it – and its a heady mix of synths, punk rock and hip hop

And todays Christmas Cracker is exactly that

Christmas Steps – Mogwai

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #3

Poerty and rock music, do they mix? Well the evidence is not convincing. Some chumps out there will tell you that Lord Byron was the first person to combine poetry with the rockstar lifestyle. They would of course be wrong, Byron was a syphilis addled drug addict whose behaviour these days would perhaps be considered boorish or possibly linked to the Bullingdon Club.

Fast forward about 150 years (I have no idea when Byron died) and a band called Trampolene were for about ten minutes considered to be the future of rock because their singer recited poetry (that he had written) to the backdrop of riotously scratchy post punk. They were ok at best.

In 2020, an actual poet, well more than a poet – the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage formed a band, a kind of post rock band called LYR, and they were signed before they’d even played a gig. The reason, they are amazing. Armitage delivers his poems, in his glorious Northern voices, which a piano and slow moving electronica sweeps along behind it. Their single ‘Never Good With Horses’ is both sad and beautiful at the same time.

Never Good With Horses – LYR (2020, Single, Mercury KX Records)

Bands with singers who spoke rather than sang were rather fashionable this year, with a who raft of them coming out of the woodwork. Dry Cleaning were perhaps the most successful, with Florence Shaw acting as a narrator rather than a singer on most of their tracks and it is all types of wonderful.

Scratchcard Lanyard – Dry Cleaning (2021, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘New Long Leg)’

Another act who are talking at us rather than singing at us is Self Esteem who earlier in the year released the fantastic ‘I Do This All The Time’. Lyrics about moments of social awkwardness and humiliation are slowly narrated over downtempo beat before bursting into a chorus that encourages women to stand tall and proud.

I Do This All The Time – Self Esteem (2021, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Prioritise Pleasure’)

And finally, if spoken word is going to be 2022’s ‘Big Thing’ then the year will surely belong to this lot, because they are absolutely vital.

The Overload – Yard Act (2021, Zen FC Records)

And todays Christmas song is not very Christmassy – at all

No Christmas, Whilst I’m Talking – The Walkmen

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #2

Going to concentrate on music that is a bit more dance orientated today, just so people know that I’m not just a guitar monkey. So we may as well start with this lot.

1. Atlas – Bicep (single, 2020, Ninja Tunes Records)

The second album ‘Isles’ from Bicep was much hyped and when it finally dropped at the start of the year it didn’t disappoint. ‘Atlas’ was the lead track from it and that kind of whet the appetite – with its charging synths and bouncy rhythm that every now and again is forced to one side by an ambient interlude that is wonderfully nostalgic of early Four Tet releases.

2. Fever Farewell – Grief Lines (single, 2021)

Moving on from Bicep to a band I know very little about, other than the fact that they released this stunning piece of music about four months ago. Research tells me that it is the work of Guy Bannister from Leeds. Musically, it combines dance, ambience and shoegaze, whilst that might sound worryingly like the sort of nonsense that Ozric Tentacles used to churn out whilst off their noodles on mushrooms, it’s actually rather ace.

3. Hennya – Saraphim (single, 2021, Nomine Sounds)

‘Hennya’ is an intriguing slice of middle eastern inspired electronica from a duo based in Essex, that I know very little about (theme running here).

4. Could U Stop – Keep Dancing Inc (single, 2020, Taken from ‘Embrace’)

Finally, we come to Parisians Keep Dancing Inc who are not quite as bleepy as the rest of todays offerings but their 80s synth pop is pretty tremendous.

And todays randomly shuffled Christmas tune is…one of the greatest Christmas single of all time.

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

I also like this version