Five Days of Songs Found On A USB #5

‘Dear Tommy’ by the American electronica band Chromatics has become one of the great lost albums of recent times. It should have been the bands fifth album and should have been released in 2015. You’ll note the ‘should’ in those sentences. ‘Dear Tommy’ was never released.

Three singles did see the light of day, ‘In Films’, ‘Just Like You’ and ‘I Can Never Be Myself When You Are Around’ and expectation for the record was quite high and success seemingly beckoned. However, in 2015, the bands multi instrumentalist and producer, Johnny Jewel had a near death experience whilst swimming and subsequently for some reason decided to destroy around 25,000 physical copies of the album before any of them had been released, all the tracks made available via the Internet were then also removed.

I Can Never Be Myself When You Are Around – Chromatics (2015, Italians Do It Better Records)

The band apparently re-recorded ‘Dear Tommy’ but those tracks have never been released (apart from one ‘Teacher’ in late 2020) and the album remains shrouded in mystery, gaining an almost legendary status. It is unlikely that it will ever get a physical release as Chromatics ceased to exist in 2021.

And just because I like you all – here is Chromatics rather excellent version of ‘Ceremony’

Five Days of Songs Found on a USB #4

Sick On My Heart – Nai Harvest (2015, Topshelf Records, Single)

Yesterday we had post disco, today we have emo. Emo was according to my favourite encyclopaedia was rock music that emphasised emotional expression, quite often through its lyrics. Glad we sorted that out. Which brings us to Nai Harvest. They are according to the same encyclopaedia are an emo band from Sheffield. Or they were, they split in 2016.

Fundamentally they were the work of two chaps, Lew, who played drums, I said played, he pounded the drums (which was the less successful follow up to the Stone Roses, anthem ‘She Bangs The Drums’), and Ben, who sang and played the guitar, I said played, it sounds like most of his effects pedals are mashed to bits. Musically, Nai Harvest could snuggle into the small gap between Royal Blood and Japandroids. So not really emo, but quite good if good means sprawling guitars and driving drums and choruses that sound like every decent record on Sub Pop released in the nineties.

Five Days of Songs Found on A USB #3

Oh Man the Future – De Lux (2015, Innovative Leisure Records, Taken from ‘Generation’)

The third track to be taken from the USB full of music that I found in a box on my bookshelf is from De Lux. De Lux, are according to Wikpedia a post disco band from Los Angeles. Now like you, I’d never heard of post disco until about seven minutes ago. But don’t worry I’ll break it down into something more simple.

Take any of the bands that were popular in the mid 80s that used synths and wore flashy blazers, bands like Spandau Ballet, Modern Romance, or Duran Duran and sack their singer. Go on, fire him…Tell him his voice sucks and you’ve always hated him. Its fine.

Next up hold an audition to replace him, recruit the moody looking bloke who has been standing in the corner. The one who sounds so much like David Byrne from Talking Heads that he might actually be David Byrne from Talking Heads. Voila, you have formed De Lux and a genre called post disco. By the way David Byrne fronting Duran Duran? We should absolutely make that happen.

‘Oh Man The Future’ is an absolute peach of a song. There is nothing remotely original about it, but its way too busy parading around in a pastel jacket and chinos to care about that sort of thing.

What you get is some fairly laid back electronica, set against a really addictive bassline and some vocals that tell us the bands views on all things human and scientific.

Its kind of brilliant. As is this remix

Five Days of Songs Found On A USB #2

The Last Gas – Embrace (1997, Hut Records, Taken from ‘Fireworks EP’)

When they first started out back in the mid to late nineties, Embrace, were quickly compared to Oasis. I mean all the signs were there, they were from the North of England (west Yorkshire in this case), contained two brothers (Richard and Danny McNamara) one who sang (Danny) and one who played the guitar (Richard).

To be fair that was hopelessly optimistic. For a start both Gallagher brothers could sing, where as only one of the McNamara brothers could sing (although this didn’t stop Richard trying (and failing) on a regular basis).

The ‘Fireworks EP’ was the bands second release and was the first time that the band cracked the Top 40 but wouldn’t be the last, the band had incredible success for the next 10 years or so.

Here are the rest of the tracks from the EP.

Blind – Embrace (1997, Hut Records)

Now You’re Nobody – Embrace (1997, Hut Records)

Fireworks – Embrace (1997 Hut Records)

Five Days of Songs Found on A USB Stick #1

69 Police – David Holmes (2000, Go Beat Records, Taken from the Single ’69 Police’)

Its a Sunday evening when I’m typing this. I have spent the day tidying the house, cleaning the floor in the conservatory, getting Christmas decorations down from the loft and sorting out some of the baskets that sit gathering dust on the bookshelf.

Inside one of the baskets is a bag of USB sticks, all of them are freebies that I have picked up at various conferences over the past ten years or so. Most of the sticks are blank, but one of them contains a load of music. I must have it put it there, although the thought that somewhere in the midst of time, some music fan decided to load a 150 free USB sticks with about 100 pieces of music and give them to people at a conference, makes me smile. It also makes me want to do the same thing, not that you get free USB sticks at conferences anymore. Also all conferences are online these days in case someone sneezes in a packed room.

Anyway in honour of this USB, all the music posted for the next five days will be taken from it. We will start with the ’69 Police’ by the Irish composer, musician and DJ David Holmes, which most of you will recognise as being the music from the end of the film Oceans Eleven.

The Sunday Shuffle

Cuddle Fuddle – Passion Pit (2008, French Kiss Records, Taken from ‘Chunk of Change’ EP)

Todays randomly selected track comes via the shuffle button on my iPod Nano, largely because it was sitting next me to when I decided to do it.

The track it has selected is ‘Cuddle Fuddle’ by the American electropop band Passion Pit. This is a track that was written for the then girlfriend of Michael Angelakos when he was still at college. Angelakos made and self produced a collection of four tracks and then proceeded to sell them at college and as the songs became more and more popular, Angelakos recruited musicians and Passion Pit were formed.

If you’ve not heard Passion Pit before, I would say that their sound is roughly what you would get if you crossed the dancefloor geekery of Hot Chip with tweeness of Belle and Sebastian. I quite like this EP as it happens, its happy and uplifting but also at times its almost like we are listening to songs that we possibly shouldn’t be listening to, given that they were specifically for someone else.

Seeing as I’m in a good mood, here’s another one of the original tracks written for Angelakos’ girlfriend at the time.

I’ve Got Your Number – Passion Pit (2008, French Kiss Records, Taken from ‘Chunk of Change’ EP)

Nearly Perfect Albums #2

30 Something – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine

The second record in what I think might be quite a lengthy series is ’30 Something’ –  the remarkable second album by South London’s Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. This is a 9 and a half out of ten kind of album, it loses the half point because I think is a tad too short. Saying that next week I will probably knock a point off because it was ‘too long’. So what I do know…

Falling on A Bruise – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Record, Taken from ’30 Something’)  

About forty minutes into my first ever Carter gig the room went totally silent.  The only light you could see was on the stage and it was highlighting Jim Bob’s face, (he’s the singer in case you didn’t know) and he was singing or rather speaking the bit at the end of ‘Falling On A Bruise’. 

Some you win and some you lose/I’ve spent my whole lifetime falling on a bruise/And if I had the chance to do it all again/I’d change everything

Before that moment, and if you ever went to those ’30 Something’ era Carter gigs, you’ll know what I mean, it had been carnage, absolute carnage, with about 1000 people all stagediving, moshing, pushing, shoving, and jumping up and down in seemingly the same two metre square bit of dancefloor.  There was one guy, I’d say he was a punk because he had a shaved head, Doc Martins and was wearing a New Model Army Tshirt and pencil thin black jeans, who had been going mental on that dancefloor.  During ‘Bloodsport for All’ I saw him pick a younger lad up and actually throw him into the dancing throng, whether the younger lad wanted that, I know not.

Bloodsport For All – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

Anyway, as Jim Bob delivered that poignant line about the mundanity of loneliness and depression I glanced over at New Model Army guy, and he had tears in his eyes.  He was physically welling up. I’d like to think that it was due to sheer beauty of the world beaten poetry that had just been delivered on stage and not because he’d hurt his hand or something.   Two minutes later they’d ripped into ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ and New Model Army Guy was throwing himself around again so I think my guess was right.

Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

That I think is the beauty of ’30 Something’, its not just the songs that went with it.  It is the way the lyrics ‘spoke’ to a generation of people who felt left down by their luck or who had been touched by the sadness of life but always had that flicker of optimism in the face of adversity.  It is a record that one minute you can throw yourself around a room too, whether it be to the glam rock disco sledgehammer that is ‘Surfin’ USM’ or the tremendous pop sentiments of ‘Shoppers Paradise’ and the next minute can you be at one with your thoughts to tracks like ‘Falling On A Bruise’. 

Shoppers Paradise – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

It’s a remarkable record, bold, brilliant and best of all nearly perfect.

The Never Ending Playlist Week #1

Beard.

5. Brace Yourself – Les Savy Fav (2007, Frenchkiss Records, Taken from ‘Let’s Stay Friends’)

Les Savy Fav are an art punk band (whose roots are clearly and very much rooted in indie pop) from New York. They are an engaging live act, with much attention drawn to the onstage presence of singer Tim Harrington – he is the one at the front with the beard, and the frankly amazing shirt if you hadn’t guessed.

Art punk. We had sludge punk the other day. I’m just wondering how many more types of punk there can be. Quite a few I suspect. I’ve got an old Glockenspiel at home – its out of tune and I can’t play it, but if I bash it hard enough and shout in an indeterminate way about ‘the system’ I will have probably invented Glockenspiel Punk.

‘Brace Yourself’ is probably the most accessible track (well maybe ‘Patty Lee’) from the band, which is far closer to their indie roots than their punk roots. Tim Harrington put this radical change in sound down to a new formed friendship with Kele Okereke of Bloc Party.

Patty Lee – Les Savy Fav (2007, Frenchkiss Records Taken from ‘Let’s Stay Friends’)

The Never Ending Playlist will be back in A Week’s Time – no its not ending before you clever bastards at the back think that.

The Never Ending Playlist Week #1

4. Blind Pilots – The Cooper Temple Clause (2003, Morning Records, Taken from ‘Kick Up The Fire, and Let the Flames Break’)

Glastonbury 2003, Saturday afternoon. An argument has just taken place. This argument was about whether or not people should watch The Cooper Temple Clause followed by The Libertines on the Other Stage or go and see David Gray on the Main Stage. David. Gray.

The argument I think boiled down to the fact that The Cooper Temple Clause ‘sounded rubbish’ which was up against my defence that David Gray actually was rubbish. A defence that was backed up by at least one other member of our group. So I won.

In the end, it didn’t matter because we basically did what we wanted, its Glastonbury – the very epitome of personal choice, you can listen to a salsa band of a board made of out cheese at nine o’ clock and then march across a field and see Napalm Death play in the Childrens Field at half past.

Happy Times.

Promises Promises – The Cooper Temple Clause

The Never Ending Playlist Week #1

3. Black Dog – Arlo Parks (2020, Transgressive Records, Taken from ‘Eugene’)

Before I start please support this wonderful charity – CALM https://www.thecalmzone.net/

It was my good friend Will that first told me about Arlo Parks (Hi Will, if you are reading). We were walking through a forest as our daughters ran off ahead and jumped out from behind trees in an attempt to scare us.

I think I might have scoffed at first, thinking that perhaps, Arlo Parks was a bit like Katy Perry or something and that perhaps Will had let his daughters have too much power over his car stereo.

Then I listened to ‘Black Dog’ and I realised I was totally wrong. ‘Black Dog’ is incredible, a stunningly brave and personal record (one that started life as a poem) about mental health that deliberately makes the lyrics the focus, the beats are barely there (lofi at best) and the music supporting it is an acoustic guitar that is tickled rather than strummed. Its majestic.

There are not many songs that deal with mental health as well as ‘Black Dog’ does, but it didn’t just deal with the subject. It made it a subject that people discussed, scrapped away some of the taboo and that should be applauded.

Here is the other side of the single

Eugene – Arlo Parks