Adventures of a University Finalist

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Australian Robin Trower 'Cept Less Wanky

Even - In Stereo (Rubber Records, 1996)
Even - 24 Hour Cynic

Even - Come Again (Rubber Records, 1997)
Even - No Surprises

Even - A Different High (Rubber Records, 2001)
Even - Shining Star

Even - The Street Press Years (Rubber Records, 2003)
Even - I Have Nothing

Just what the doctor ordered - Australian power trios with an obvious debt to Britpop moving towards 60's mod and psychedelica in their later albums (although I haven't heard the LP they released last year 'Free Kicks' which may just be like Jet for all I know).
'In Stereo' was their first EP and features the rather rough and enjoyably scuzzy '24 Hour Cynic'that verges on grunge. Not all that remarkable beginnings you'll agree. However, when by the time they'd reached their 2nd LP 'Come Again' they were releasing compact and accomplished power pop with the best being the single (as is often the case) 'No Surprises' with its simple and repetitive, yet enduringly catchy, riff. This format is honed and subsequently bettered on 'I Have Nothing' that I sadly don;t have any more information on due to my leaving the case at home. Oh fie on you gods of easily breakable plastic casing! Do not offer me the foul pretender - the digipak - in penance! The song is a personal favourite, by the way. Finally, we come to the rather baroque 'Shining Star' with its simple acoustic chord progression embellished by strings and Ashley Naylor's laconic vocalisations which has an especially nice instrumental break around the two minute mark. The harmonising's pretty good too.
Even may not quite be the best in the really rather fertile Australian music industry but they do show that it has a lot more depth and edge than people normally attribute it. They also have a song called 'We Are the Purple Nazz' which as a huge Todd Rundgren fan instantly endears me to them.
Right, it's a beautiful day outside and I must bid adieu to go sunbathing on the roof with my copy of Private Eye whilst listening to 80s Blondie medleys (thank you thank you thank you SVC).

Buy - Even
Visit - Even at Rubber Records

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Funk Soul Cover Brother Bad Mothers

The Isley Brothers - Givin' It Back (Legacy, 1997)
The Isley Brothers - Fire and Rain
The Isley Brothers - Lay Lady Lay
The Isley Brothers - Spill the Wine

What do you get when you combine an acoustic covers album with one of soul's greatest voices and his two rather talented brothers? Why, you get a 10 minute long, sex personified workout of a Dylan classic, the definitive version of one of mainstream folk's anthems (plus an amazing ethereal intro that defies any rational description beyond gibbering and pointing in random directions), and cover that manages to give the kings of the Barrios, War, a run for their money although that may be because Ronald puts in a little more effort than Eric Burdon ever did.
Givin' It Back is one of my favourite albums of all time, despite its relative brevity (7 tracks hence my not uploading any more) and when the CD finally breaks from overuse/wear and tear I will weep like a small girl with pigtails until Amazon sends me a shiny new copy. For those who know the Brothers Isley only for 'Summer Breeze', 'Shout' and Mr Big (*sigh*) checking out these tracks is a necessity. As is taking a peek at their new Isley Brothers remix album, Taken to the Next Phase, which looks very interesting and will hopefully introduce more to their pretty amazing musical journey from rock n' roll to smoooooth yet funky soul.
And for those who somehow haven't been pointed its way before, Liza at Copy, Right has the the definitive covers music blog with other nowhere close except the guilty pleasure of Coverville's Podcasts. Right, I must be off to continue grading my mp3 library on iTunes. There seem to be too many five stars but then again I have little quality control. There's an advertisement for this blog if I ever heard one...

Buy - The Isley Brothers - Givin' It Back
Visit - The Isley Brothers at Legacy Recordings

Monday, April 25, 2005

So Alan Parker Doesn't Destroy Everyone's Careers After All...

The Frames - Burn the Maps (Plateau Records, 2005)
The Frames - Fake
The Frames - Ship Caught in the Bay
The Frames - Locusts

Thank you, Simon from SVC for you introduced me to my new favourite band, The Frames (along with Tegan & Sara, the Ska-Talites and Rilo Kiley). Sadly, due to my silly scruples and moral high ground I can only include tracks off the only Frames album I own - their latest offering 'Burn the Maps'. Their live album 'Set List' is on my must-buy list too though if only for the mind-blowing performances of 'God Bless Mom' and the epic 'Fitzcarraldo'.
The band is led by ex-Commitments member Glen Hansard (he plays the wiry dark haired busker turned rhythm guitarist) the Irish foursome have been compared to Snow Patrol, Coldplay and Radiohead which is easily translated into noiseniks with a pop sensibility that people mistake for mainstream far too often. According to one particularly idiotic Amazon reviewer, the album is termed as aimed at teenyboppers. Have a listen to the album closer 'Locusts' and then laugh your arse off at such tarring with a particularly large brush.
'Fake' is the "single" with the old standard of slow verse, fast chorus method that has worked so well for so many others with a lyric whose constrained nature does sadly remind me of 'Spitting Games'. 'Ship Caught in the Bay' pulls off a instrumentation quite similar to a track by the Roots with a minimalist looped backdrop followed by the song kicking into some breakbeat drums not quite worthy of ?uestlove but similar. The previously mentioned 'Locusts' is another minimalist number with acoustic guitar, ghostly feedback noises and a rather lovely piano part drifting in halfway through. Something for everybody then.
In other news, I have returned to University for my very last term. I'm not actually sure what I'm going to do with the blog's title when I get out of here. I might just change 'Uni to ex-Uni'. Yes, I am lazy. As a result of my return, in the next two months posting may be slightly irregular but not too bad hopefully. Thanks to the boys at PCL Linkdump for putting me on their Links. I am not worthy. On that self-deprecating note, ta ta for now. Look forward to some Isley Brothers next time if I can find it.

Buy - The Frames - Burn the Maps
Visit - The Frames

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

That'll Teach You To Be a Teetotal Vegan

The Equals - First Among Equals (Ice Records, 1994)
The Equals - Viva Bobby Joe
The Equals - Police on my Back
The Equals - Honey Bee
The Equals - Diversion

Dum dum dum, Electric Avenue, gonna take you higher! Yes it's Eddy Grant's old mod-funk outfit from the 60s The Equals! Yum. To be honest, I don;t know too much about these London boys due to the otherwise brilliant double CD retrospective, First Among Equal's rather awful line-notes totalling two meagre pages focusing on Grant's post-Equals career.
Admittedly, the band were scattershot to say the least but they did have some pearls (that you'll have to track down yourselves) such as the hits 'Baby Come Back' and 'Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys' and other tracks like 'Michael and His Slipper Tree', ' Softly Softly', 'Soul Brother Clifford' and 'You Got Too Many Boyfriends'. The ones I've featured for your significant pleasure include the anthemic yet very silly hit single 'Viva Bobby Joe' with its violins that The Jam must have somehow been influenced by with songs like 'Smithers Jones'. The rasping organ parts in 'Diversion' and 'Honey Bee' accompanied by fantastic performances on the mike by Grant create two extremely enjoyable and danceable cuts. The politically charged 'Police on my Back' would later become famous when the Clash covered it on the "eclectic" 'Sandinista' and did a bloody good job of it too.
The Equals are quintessentially English, both lyrically and stylistically, yet funky too - creating a cross between the Moody Blues, the Kinks, various elements of Mod Culture and James Brown. Nice. I got into the Equals thanks to the rather good Number One Songs in Heaven. The page is here.
Oh, other news: more revision for exams (but I still find time for you aren't I sweet?), my girlfriend likes 'Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes' which leaves me elated, 'Chantilly Lace' and The Sonics are constantly on my Winamp playlist and I am very tired. I love you all as if you were my small furry ultra-dependent kin. And that's goodnight from me and that's goonight from him.

Buy - The Equals
Visit - Eddy Grant at Ice

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cliff, Eat Your Heart Out!

Bobby Conn and the Glass Gypsies - The Homeland (2004, Thrill Jockey)
Bobby Conn - Relax

Rough Trade Country 1 (2003, Rough Trade)
Violent Femmes - Country Death Song

Maximillian Hecker - Rose (2003, Pias)
Maximillian Hecker - Kate Moss

All Night Radio - Spirit Stereo Frequency (2004, SubPop)
All Night Radio - Sky Bicycle (You've Been Ringing)

A treat for you to celebrate my return from a self-imposed purgatory. This strange 'menage a quatre' composes tracks taken off albums purchased extremely cheap on my hols (those Devon record stores don't know what hidden jewels they have!). Put together the four would have set me back 14 pounds with the Rough Trade double set making up half of that price.
Bobby Conn, according to Allmusic the "self-confessed antichrist", first caught my attention in the Singapore Borders through the sheer vibrancy of the album cover art on 'The Golden Age' and I was surprised to see his latest album 'The Homeland' getting a large spread in the Mojo reviews section a couple of months back. 'Relax' is political dance pop with a stunning chorus (possibly the first to feature discussions on income tax) and catchy hooks as is much of the album. The words 'Scissor Sisters' keep popping in my head for no apparent reason but that's my erratic brain processes for you.
All Night Radio are a side project coming from the highly wonderful Beachwood Sparks looking the take forward the ambient Beach Boys ouevre a little bit further with the particular track sporting lovely harmonies, luscious instrumentation and, of course, lots of bells (not sure about cow bell though). Not your usual Sub Pop release but as good as any other.
The Maximillian Hecker album was bought to join my copy of his strange debut 'Infinite Love Songs'. As of this moment, I haven't sampled all the tracks (and positively loathd 'My Love For You Is Insane') but the repetitive piano motif and sly lyricism on the opening track 'Kate Moss' are well worth sampling. I still prefer Nicolai Dunger as my European singer songwriter of choice though.
Finally, the Rough Trade compilation has been on my hit list for a long time and it didn't disappoint with gems by Steve Earle, Dave Alvin, Lincoln '65 and Calexico amongst others. It has also spurred me to check out Camper Van Beethoven after months of forgetting to do so on Soulseek. This Violent Femmes track is my favourite as it (a) showed me that they were more than their debut and (b) that country death songs are fanatastic fun especially with a nice ominous bass line.
On that note, look at the puppy! Sun, sand and songs about stalking celebs and pushing your daughter down a well. Bliss.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Quick Announcement

Firstly, I'm back! Secondly, my hosting's back! Thirdly, you can access all the mp3s again! Finally, I'll post some more tomorrow. Have a lovely day, y'all.

Friday, April 08, 2005

We're All Going On A... Easter Holiday!

Ok, I'll keep this brief. Am frantically trying to get my hosting back. Apparently, the administrators changed servers but didn't include mine in the swap so I'm having to chase them up to do it now. Hence, the lack of any music when you do the clicking business. Sadly, am off on holiday for a week to where there is no internet so won't be able to update! Apologies to the five of you who actually visit. As the Pope once said, ciao for now.

Monday, April 04, 2005

It's Arty And It Rocks... What Should We Call It?

Family - Bandstand
Family - Burlesque
Family - My Friend The Sun

Family - BBC Radio Volume 1 (1968-69)
Family - I Sing Um The Way I Feel (Live)
Family - No Mule's Fool (Live)

I promised you post-prog and here it is! Well... it's blues-rock labelled as prog but it'll have to do. I'd love to give you a long treatise surrounding the history of Family but that would require research and hard work so I'll give you a little sketch instead.
Family recorded six albums between 1968 and 1973 from the whimsical art rock of 'Music in a Doll's House' towards a more conventional blues rock sound style on their penultimate album 'Bandstand'. I've uploaded two songs off 'Bandstand', in 'Burlesque' and 'My Friend The Sun'. The first of which featuring Roger Chapman's superb gravel toned voice (a rock voice almost parallel to that of Rodgers or Stewart) and John Whitney's tight riffing whilst the second should have been a classic with its delightful lyric and pastoral acoustic musical direction.
The second duo of songs is taken off a BBC compilation with 'Sing Um...' a cover of J.B. Lenoir, unavailable on any other CD, which starts normally enough and then transforms into a beast best turned up to 11 with a rather proggy guitar run. 'No Mule's Fool' shows the musical complexity of Family and how they somehow managed to transfer it to their live act something that has to be praised.
Although, Family shared common ground with bands like Traffic (whose bassist and taker of infrequent hiatuses Dave Mason produced their debut and Family bassist Ric Grech would become a member of Traffic following Mason's permanent departure), Ten Years After and Blind Faith (Ric Grech, yet again, was a member although everyone ignores his importance in favour of Clapton, Winwood and Baker) they seem to be largely forgotten nowadays. Hopefully, these songs will change that for at least one person out there in the magical land of the intermaweb. I mean if Be Bop Deluxe can have a resurgence then why not Family?
Love, luck and lollipops to you all and may the lovely music soothe your sinful souls.

Buy - Bandstand
Buy - BBC Radio Volume 1 (1968-69)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Neanderthal Men

10cc - 10cc
10cc - The Dean and I
10cc - The Original Soundtrack
10cc - Blackmail
10cc - How Dare You!
10cc - Don't Hang Up
Godley & Creme

Godley & Creme - Wedding Bells

Now we're really getting into some interesting territory with a genre not often investigated by music blogs - Dad Rock! Yes, it's the four lovable art rock scamps from Manchester, 10cc, and their wonderful brand of "We're so much cleverer than you! Nerr Nerr" pop.
Famously signed/discovered by Johnathan "kiddy fiddler" (can I say that? well I just did) King and subsequently name after the average amount of semen in a man's ejaculation. Graham Gouldman had been a songwriter for groups like the Hollies (the wonderful 'Bus Stop') and Herman's Hermits, Eric Stewart had been with Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders whilst Kevin Godley and Lol Creme would rather degoratorily be referred to as Britain's "Frank Zappa".
All of them are extremely talented multi-instrumentalists and this is immediately apparent in their complex arrangements and frequent changes in style and tempo mid-song. Both 'Don't Hang Up' and 'The Dean and I' show this in spades and as a result are in my top twenty favourite songs of all time.
The group's first four albums before Godley and Creme broke away are essential purchases with my personal favourite being their eponymous debut with its Jan and Dean/Shelley Fabares pastiche 'Johnny, Don't Do It', the hilarious infomerial 'Sand in My Face' and the song that the doo wop song, that my Dad thought was sang by a woman until he saw the band on TOTP so convincing was Lol's falsetto, 'Donna'. Past those four and you get into rather dodgy territory although there was still gold in them hills with great singles like 'Dreadlock Holiday' and 'Good Morning Judge'.
Of course, the band are best known for material off The Original Soundtrack such as 'I'm Not in Love', 'Life is a Minestrone'and the three part 'Une Nuit in Paris'. Godley and Creme also had a huge hit in 'Cry' thanks not only to its sheer wonderfulness but also one of the greatest and certainly one of the most innovative videos of all time that Michael Jackson ripped off for 'Black and White'. I didn't upload 'Cry' as I thought it may be overly familiar to some of you so instead you get the exquisite 'Wedding Bells'.
Godley and Creme as a duo are a strange entity with their debut 'Consequences' called one of the most overblown piles of prog rock bollocks upon the planet due to their utilising it as a vehicle for full use of their invention, the 'Gizmo'. Most of they're material has be reissued in twofers with Freeze Frame/Ismism a particularly good set.
Thanks Tuning for linking me, by the way, and adios for now, hombres. More post-prog next post hopefully.

Buy - 10cc - Good News: An Introduction to...