New Band Friday (LIVE!) – #6

Colour TV – New Lion Brewery – Dartington, Feb 12th 2022

Billy Pilgrim – Colour TV (2021 )

Cornwall’s Colour TV are so young if you added up the ages of their four members I very much doubt that they would collectively reach my age.  The singer, I think would struggle to get served milk, let alone alcohol, but I don’t think he cares as I’ve just seen him half down a pint moments before he wanders on to the stage.  The drummer also looks like he has accidentally wandered in from the nearby skate park and found himself behind a drum kit that his dad has accidentally left out, which of course, is entirely possible.

Appearances can apparently be deceptive though, because Colour TV are incredible.  Absolutely blindingly brilliant.  Their singer winds himself up on stage in a frantic dance that at times makes him look like he is wrestling a stepladder.  His stage presence is a thing to behold.  It reminds me of Tim Booth in a way, when ‘Stutter’ reaches its crescendo (Kids, ask your grandparents).  The lad can sing as well, which helps if you have given up your A Levels to become a singer.   Its not just the singer though the rest of the band play like they released seven albums and have been at this lark for decades but Colour TV have released one four track EP.

The write songs that belittle their youth, that rhyme “Dichotomy” with “astronomy”.  I’m about four times their age and I can barely write a sentence with the word “dichotomy’ in it.  Which is why I write about music rather than actually make it or write it I suppose.

Musically they come across like a cross between Suede,  ‘Modern Life is Rubbish’ era Blur and that mob from Manchester that are banned from these pages.  Tracks like the epic ‘In your Cathedral’ positively throb with energy, attitude and hints at a band with lofty ambition.  It also rocks like a bastard, which is a very good thing indeed.

In Your Cathedral – Colour TV (2021)

They don’t just do epic though.  They already have a genuine anthem ready and waiting for an adoring crowd.  That is a song called ‘Charlie’ and it is fantastic,  the sort of song that just staples itself to your ears after one listen.

Charlie – Colour TV (2021)

A Linked Series #2

Nights of the Living Dead – Tilly and the Wall (2003, Moshi Moshi Records)

In the end our link was the word ‘Wall’.  We segue almost seamlessly from the fey twee pop of Ooberman’s ‘Shorley Wall’ to the fey indie pop of the only band that I can physically think of that employed a tap dancer to do their percussion instead of an actual drummer, Omaha’s Tilly and the Wall. 

They are a weird bunch Tilly and the Wall.  At times they are as twee as say Ooberman, but there is the underlying fuzzed up sound about them, somewhere between garage rock and the sound the Arcade Fire were making around the times of The Suburbs.  At times, they sound like Abba if they recruited Madonna and Beck as singers and recorded all their singles in a cavernous storage container.  At times the singer sounds miles away from a microphone and in a different room to the actual band.  Which of course, they might actually be.  Its pop music but not as we expect it to be. They are a band who are happy to use xylophones, handclaps and pianos but then chuck in an absolute banging garage rock track just for good measure.

The track I have chosen was a track I have courtesy of a Moshi Moshi compilation album and its absolutely spiffing and just about falls into the ‘absolutely banging garage rock’ category.  It could have also featured (and still might) on the new Monday Swear Series as towards the end the song descends into a repeated mantra of “I Want to Fuck it Up” , smashed glasses and general chaos.  Its marvellous.

So where next…?  Here are a few suggestions that won’t be chosen but it might be the route I take…

Tilly and the Wall are named after a childrens book so we could go down that route with bands named after characters from childrens book

Seether  – Veruca Salt

Or we could go down the Bright Eyes route – at least one member of Tilly and the Wall is a regular member of the Conor Obersts touring band

Shell Games  – Bright Eyes

Or we could stay on the words used in the song or band route

Marching Song – Esben and the Witch

Who are also named after a childrens story – so we’d have a double link….how exciting!

Never Ending Playlist – #32

Waitress – Hop Along  (2015, Saddle Creek Records, Taken from ‘Painted Shut’)

Hop Along are a terrific indie rock band from Philadelphia.  Their singer is the wonderful Frances Quinlan, whose voice is probably one of the most distinctive out there.  Her vocals vary from song to song, on some they crackle with emotion, on others they rasp with an angry fervour or they soar with a sweet innocence.  Then you put them up against flawless guitar riffs and you have potent combination that makes the band infectious and intriguing.  What makes me adore Frances Quinlan even more than her music, is that when she is not recording fantastic music she works as a decorator for her aunt.  But let’s talk about the music.

Hop Along have this knack of weaving their songs into stories, painting a picture with their words for many of their songs.  ‘Waitress’ is one of those songs, that does that.  In this case it tells the tale of a waitress, (surprisingly) who spots her ex’s new girlfriend in the restaurant where she works and it deals with awful feeling of actually having to be nice to someone that you can’t physically stand.  She can’t run, she can’t hide, and she just wants to the floor to swallow her up.   The vocals roar and scream away as the melody surges and then it comes crashing down as Quinlan sings “I just wish you and your friends would leave”. 

‘Waitress’ was the lead single from the second Hop Along album ‘Painted Shut’ which is a thing of absolute beauty and I recommend to you.  Last year Frances Quinlan released a solo record which something of a departure from the raspy punk sounds of Hop Along.  The beats are more refined, the guitars are stripped back and even that distinctive voice is scaled back to a reveal a more pop edge.

Rare Thing – Frances Quinlan (2021, Saddle Creek Records)

Music Found in Charity Shops – #6

Rings Around the World – Super Furry Animals

Bought from British Heart Foundation – Newton Abbot for £1.99

Sadly, the CD didn’t also contain a copy of the interactive DVD that was also released at the same time as ‘Rings Around the World’.  That featured 13 specially made films each one accompanying one of the tracks on the album.  It was basically 60 minutes of space age nonsense, pot smoking lunacy and some explosions if memory serves me rightly.  Kind of like a Cheech and Chong movie for the 2000s. 

‘Rings Around the World’ is the bands fifth album, and as you would expect, none of it is conventional.  You get strings, Vocoder style vocals, electronic gizmo gadgets, digitalised drum beats, explosive guitars and techno blasts that sound a lot like the sort of noise that you would hear on Warp records. Take these two for instance

No Sympathy – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

Juxtaposed with U – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

‘No Sympathy’ clocks in at over seven minutes, during which Gruff Rhys tells us that somebody “deserves to die” over the backdrop of an acoustic guitar and some very gentle drums.  Then just as you think its going to end, it turns into a full on techno stomp.  Its marvellous.

Meanwhile, ‘Juxatopsed with U’ a single that we are all probably accustomed too by now, cleverly manages to fuse a wonderfully soppy ballad with Daft Punk style robot vocals and in doing so, creates an almost perfectly wonky pop song.

Its not all leftfield genius though, track five for instance is a baffling as it is irritating.  Its called ‘Receptacle for the Respectable’, which is a track that is crafted around the sound of Paul McCartney eating carrots and celery (and he is credited as such in the sleeve notes).  Macca would have been better off making a soup out of his carrots instead of wasting his time there.

Receptacle for the Respectable – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

But the band save the best track until the very end, ‘Fragile Happiness’ which has fast become one of my favourite Super Furry Animals tracks, it short but devastatingly beautiful.  It contains no gizmo gadgets, no strings or digitalised drum beats, just a falsetto vocal and some whistling. 

Fragile Happiness – Super Furry Animals (2001, Epic Records)

It’s Monday – Let’s Swear – #2

Sick 2 Def –  Plan B (2006, 679 Records)

I can remember exactly where I was the first time I heard ‘Sick 2 Def’ by Plan B.  I was on a train travelling from Barnstaple to Exeter.  I’d bought a UK Grime CD from a record shop in the town and in came on just outside Umberleigh (which as we know is UK Grime Central).  It’s the kind of record that momentarily stops time as it lets you adjust to the enormity of what you have just heard.  If it was a movie, everyone around me would have been blurred and in fast forward mode. 

‘Sick 2 Def’ was the B side to the debut single ‘No Good’ (which is also a fine example of swearing in music too) and it is a bleak obscenity strewn masterpiece.  Which rages against everything and goes places that most rappers wouldn’t even dare (rape, murder, suicide, genital warts, terrorist murders, paedophiles on Top of the Pops and that’s just first two minutes).

Essentially it’s a song in two parts, the first part is full of menace, machismo and threats about slicing off ears, Reservoir Dogs Style.  The second part is just astonishing, in which a murder is told, in reverse, as if the song is being rewound on a grainy VHS tape on a knackered telly in a knackered house on a knackered council estate.  The threat has long since vanished replaced by fear, paranoia and panic.

The most astonishing thing about, ‘Sick 2 Def’ is however, not actually the lyrics, although they are breathtakingly raw and paint a pretty depressing picture of urban life, it’s the fact that Drew raps along side an acoustic guitar.  Gone are the harsh, industrial beats that you would expect from a grime record, the bleeps, the blarts, the sampled sirens and the whatever elses.  Its just Drew and the guitar, stripped back, honest and all the more outstanding because of it. 

No Good – Plan B (2006, 679 Records)

The Sunday Shuffle – #16

Fillip – Muse (1999, Maverick Records, Taken from ‘Showbiz’)

Todays randomly shuffled track comes courtesy of Alexa, who is keeping me entertained as Storm Eunice howls and batters the Devon coastline.  It seems weird that she should choose Muse, as the first track, because not only are they, as we all know, from Devon, but Matt Bellamy has the kind of voice that is very similar to that of a storm blowing through a valley.  A voice that given the right kind of projection could probably uproot trees, destroy fences and, propel a trampoline across a garden until its wedged in a fishpond.

‘Fillip’ is taken from the debut album by Muse which was called ‘Showbiz’ and found its way onto our shelves was back in 1999.  Back then of course, Muse sounded a lot like Radiohead circa, ‘The Bends’, but they were clearly not as good as Radiohead circa, ‘The Bends’.  What they were, was a band that was still finding its feet.   Testing the water to see what floated.

‘Fillip’ was perhaps, a hint of what was to come, the early leanings towards a more grandiose rock sound, but still with that unmistakable alternative rock sound that underpinned much of that debut album.  It’s a track that has a really crunchy guitar sound running through, but it’s the vocal delivery that makes it much more interesting that most of the other tracks on ‘Showbiz’

Uno – Muse (1999, Maverick Records, Taken from ‘Showbiz’)

Nearly Perfect Albums #14

It’s Great When You’re Straight….Yeah – Black Grape

Is there a luckier man in the history of rock music than Bez?  Here stands a fellow who from what we can tell has no discernible talent.  I don’t think he writes any songs, I don’t think he sings any backing vocals or lends a hand in the production booth.  He doesn’t play any instruments, unless you count the maracas. 

It would appear that for the best part of 35 years, his job has been to stand on a stage next to his best mate and dance stupidly with some maracas, I say stupidly, badly, would be a better way of describing it….and yet…its Bez and we sort of adore the fact that he does what he does.  I mean when I was 15 Bez’s dance was what I copied at all the disco’s I went to, simply because I could.

But after the drug fuelled unhappy demise of the Happy Mondays, I feared for Bez and Shaun Ryder. I simply expected them to disappear into obscurity, but no, about two years later they returned looking fresh and with a new band, called Black Grape.  Their first single bounced into the Top Ten and Bez’s reign as the luckiest man in the history of rock continued, although perhaps Shaun Ryder might pip him at the top of lucky tree.

Reverend Black Grape – Black Grape (1995, Radioactive Records, Taken from ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah’)

The album soon followed and what a terrific trip it was.  It is a sound that captured (nearly) perfectly, the moment that Shaun Ryder stopping nearly killing himself every week and started enjoying the parties again.  The music here is insane, a huge cooking pot of bass, beats, funk, drum loops, samples all held together somehow by Ryders jubilant yells, yelps and shouts.  If we are continuing the party theme, this album basically summed up all the best parties you’ve ever been to, in roughly 40 fantastic minutes.

In The Name of the Father – Black Grape (1995, Radioactive Records, Taken from ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah’)

I think I might have said this before but the debut album by Black Grape is the best album that Shaun Ryder ever recorded.  Yes you’ve got ‘Pills, N, Thrills and Bellyaches’, which is a fantastic but altogether different sort of trip all of its own (one that feels dangerous and at times, downright sleazy).  That was a record, which, for a while sound tracked a generation of floppy haircuts and almost singlehandedly revived the flared trouser market, but ‘Loose Fit’ is no ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ let’s be honest and whilst we are there ‘God’s Cop’ is certainly no ‘Tramazi Parti’.

Kelly’s Heroes – Black Grape (1995, Radioactive Records, Taken from ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah’)

Tramazi Parti – Black Grape (1995, Radioactive Records, Taken from ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah’)

The reason why this is Ryder’s masterpiece and not any of the Mondays work is that this record feels livelier, happier and way cleaner than anything else he touched and that is what makes it very nearly perfect.

A Linked Series – #1

Shorley Wall – Ooberman (1998, Tugboat Records)

Another day, another series that sort of tugs the coat tails of a bigger and better blog. The hat today is doffed to Jez, a guy who runs a blog called ‘A History of Dubious Taste’ It’s a blog I visit most days and one that I should add to the list of blogs that adorn the bottom of this page.  Anyway, a few years back, he did a thing called The Chain in which people had to guess the next song in a linked bunch of songs.  Kudos points were awarded for getting the right answer or close to the right answer. 

So today, I’m starting something similar.  I’ve randomly shuffled the iPod and picked the first song that comes on as the starter.  That track was Oobermans’ joyously twee indie sensation ‘Shorley Wall’.  A song so twee that it’s carrying a cuddly horse shaped bag and wearing spangly hairclips.   It’s essentially a song about escaping the pressures of life by sitting on a beach listening to the sea through a big seashell, whilst the seagulls fly around your head.  That is until you find out what you want or need.  Sounds naff but it’s beautifully done.

I loved this song when it first came out in 1998, I remember hearing it at work on Jo Whiley’s morning show on Radio 1 and then dashing to the record shops in Exeter at lunchtime to buy it.  It has this cutesy keyboard riff running through and ends with a spoken word poem read by keyboardist Sophia Churnley.  On the original E.P as the spoken word bits nears the end you can hear Sophia’s voice break as she struggles to hold back the tears. 

By the time ‘Shorley Wal’ got its inevitable rerelease the emotion put into the spoken word poem had fallen rather flat and it all sounded rather forced. 

So the question is where do I go musically from here?  There has to be a link in some way to the song, the band or the perhaps something else.  For instance (and the link won’t be these records at all), ‘Shorley Wall’ features the sounds of seagulls at the start of it so an obvious link would be: –

Seagull – Ride (1990, Creation Records)

But it also contains a poem – so we could have

Poems – Terry Hall/nearly God (1996, Island Records)

If you like you can pop your suggestions in the comment box. I may even dish out points for correct suggestions.

Give It Another Spin – #2

Seven – James

Ring the Bells – James (1992, Fontana Records)

I hated ‘Seven’ when it first came out.  For years I had been singing the praises of Booth and his band of troubadours.  I had been begging people to listen to the intricate folky brilliance of ‘Stutter’ or the majestic pop of ‘Gold Mother’.   When they finally did (thanks largely to ‘Sit Down’ conquering the hearts and dancefloors of the nation) I stood there with a smug look of my face that read “Told you”. 

Then they returned a few years later with ‘Seven’, an album so bland that could you place it next to the semolina in the supermarket and very few people would be able to tell the difference.  The smug look on my face was replaced by one of embarrassment and the record was quickly pushed to the back of the cupboard, never to see the light again.   I remember the trumpet that blurted itself through most of the bloody songs being one of the most irritating things that I had ever heard.  Andy Diagram (the trumpet player) had gone from being the Trumpet Triumph has was on ‘Gold Mother’ to a Brass Bellend in two short years and I thought he was a bastard because of it.

Sound – James (1992, Fontana Records)

Now, I can’t remember the last time I listened to ‘Seven’ all the way through but I might have been at University – I definitely found a copy on vinyl in a second hand shop in Woking for a £1 so it was probably then.  I still hated it because I don’t have that record anymore. So, some 27 years later, has my opinion changed.

Slightly.  For starters, I don’t hate it nearly as much as I did.  I think this is probably because James, don’t mean as much as to me as they did back in the early nineties.  In 1992, James felt like my band, and the songs on ‘Seven’ simply lacked the punch and pull of, well anything, that they had recorded before and I felt massively let down by them, but you know they are just a band.

What is clear is that the singles, particularly ‘Born of Frustration’ and ‘Sound’ aren’t as terrible records as I first though they were.  Admittedly they haven’t aged massively well but as James songs go, they are ok, worthy of adding to any collection of James songs.  ‘Born of Frustration’ is certainly far better than I remember it being.

Born of Frustration – James (1992, Fontana Records)

It’s the album tracks that still bother me, songs like ‘Don’t Wait That Long’ and ‘Live A Love of Life’ are still overblown, bland monsters that sound like they were recorded specifically for the Radio 2 audience that the band had become accustomed to.  Elsewhere ‘Next Lover’ tries to hawk back to the more folky early James sound that we might have heard on say ‘Stripmine’ but its not quite the same, Booth sounds too bitter, too angry and way its way too forced.

Live A Love of Life – James (1992, Fontana Records)

Oh and there is still too much bloody trumpet.

Never Ending Playlist – #31

Feel Good Hit of the Summer – Queens of the Stone Age (2000, Interscope Records)

The more observant of you might have guessed that No Badger Required edges closer to its ‘Landmark 111th post’ I have started to change things around very slightly.  One of these changes is the ‘Never ending Playlist’ which instead of appearing every day every other week will now appear on a Wednesday – it will of course, never end (probably) and if you collate all the songs into a one long playlist it will be the best indie disco of all time (probably).

For a song that basically has two notes and one line (arf!) (“Nicotine, Valium, Vicodan, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol c-c-c-cocaine”) the impact ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ had upon music was incredible and almost instant.  It is a record that probably stands alongside perhaps ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ at the top of the as yet uncompiled ‘iconic moments in Modern American Rock’ list.  Granted that might not be quite as long a list as it should perhaps be, but the point stands.  ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ pretty much changed rock music for the better.

The thing about this song is the simplicity, massive riff, and one line of lyrics, repeat for two minutes and then close it down.  Simple and effective but ultimately it made Queens of the Stone Age one of the biggest bands on the planet and in doing so they annoyed lots of Conservative organisations. 

WallMart refused to sell copies of ‘Rated R’ unless the song was removed (they settled for a warning sticker), the Daily Mail called for it to be banned for its ‘obvious pro drug lyrics’(it wasn’t banned).  Steve Wright actually shat himself live on the radio when he first heard it (might have made that one up) and Michael Portillo hid in a train toilet until the kids in his carriage stopped playing on their phones (if you are a fan of the awful trousered ex Tory minster turned train fanatic, tune in next week).

‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ came backed with a bunch of songs, the best of these was a cover of ‘Never Say Never’ by the California new wave band Romeo Void

Never Say Never – Queens of the Stone Age (2000, Interscope Records)