Thursday, March 30, 2006

XL Day 4: Gotan Project

The next major release from XL will be the new Gotan Project album - Lunatico, and it’s one I’m really looking forward to. Their last album proper, La Revancha del Tango in 2001 was a real slow-burner for me. I picked it up in a second hand shop but it wasn’t till my wife started listening to it a lot that I realised what a fine collection of songs it was.

Gotan Project is a multinational team consisting of Philippe Cohen Solal (who is French) Eduardo Makaroff (who’s Argentinian) and Christoph H. Müller (Swiss). More bio here. The music is basically a melding of traditional Argentine tango music with modern electronic and house music.

Good as they are on record, it’s live that they really come into their element. After listening to La Revancha throughout 2001, by the end of the year we had been to our fisrst Gotan gig, and had been totally thrilled by the whole event.

They started the show playing behind a gauze curtain, onto which were projected images, with the tango musicians just visible behind. A couple of songs in, two tango dancers emerged from behind the curtain and danced in front of the stage for most of the set, staying even after the curtain dropped to reveal the musicians and vocalists, with Solal and Makaroff standing on a podium above them behind their decks ‘n’ effects.

The gig was a blast – the live stuff was just beautiful, blending the skill of the traditional instrumentation and brilliant singers with Gotan Project's technological whizzery. They even managed to do a couple of live mash-ups of their own material - one blended in Eminem's Without Me to fine effect.

The second time we saw them was a bit less amazing, mainly because it wasn't new and it was pretty much the same show. But still well worth seeing. Here's hoping the new album sees them return soon to the live stage - this time with a few new tricks up their well-dressed sleeves. Looking forward to it.

In advance of the album, here are the two tracks off their recent Diferente 10" single release:

Download: Gotan Project - Diferente
Download: Gotan Project - Domingo

Pre-order Lunatico

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

XL day 3 - Devendra Banhart

If I was forced to choose which current XL artist was my favourite, I’d probably have to say Devendra Banhart. I’ll not bother with the bio details, suffice to say born Texas, raised Venezuela, now LA-resident. Discovered by Michael Gira who put out his first album Oh Me Oh My…. Since then he’s done three albums for XL (in the UK anyway), and I won’t use words like ‘new weird America’ or ‘freak folk’ to describe them. Damn!

He’s nothing if not prolific – two of these albums came out a few months apart in 2004. Rejoicing in the Hands and Nino Rojo were both patchy affairs, containing both moments of beauty and average-ness. However, last year’s Cripple Crow was a revelation and for an album of 22 tracks and over 70 minutes, it hardly struck a bum note. Maybe that’s down to Devendra’s ranging across styles, genres and even languages. Cripple Crow has a bedrock of Banhart’s own unique take on acoustic folk, but also drifts into southern soul, country, ragged funk, rock ‘n’ roll and just plain crazy pop music. It’s a total delight and an album you need to own.

In his albums to date, Devendra has done a few songs in his second language of Spanish – here are four of them.

Download: Devendra Banhart - Luna de Margarita
Download: Devendra Banhart - Quedate Luna
Download: Devendra Banhart - Santa Maria da Fiera
Download: Devendra Banhart - Todo los Dolores

Buy Devendra albums (especially Cripple Crow)

In addition, to follow on from yesterday, I’ve got some more Raconteurs. This time from a live session recorded for DermotO’Leary on BBC Radio 2 last Saturday. Acoustic version of Steady As She Goes and a cover of It Ain’t Easy. Enjoy.

Download: Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes (live acoustic)
Download: Raconteurs – It Ain’t Easy (live acoustic)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

XL Week Part 2: Steady as they go

Well, The Raconteurs fairly rocked The Vinyl Factory (underneath Phonica Records) in Soho last night. For the short time they played anyway. The XL bash was pretty good. Free food, free booze and good sounds for a couple of hours did the trick nicely.

Arrival and hasty grabbing of beers was soundtracked by a playback of Serious Times, a new reggae compilation of "conscious reggae" (whatever that is) coming out on XL. It sounded good - at least what I heard over the buzz of our conversations. The strangest thing was up next – Aluminium (that’s with the extra British ‘i’) which is basically an "avant-garde orchestra" playing White Stripes tunes. It’s actually better than it sounds but still a bit bizarre. This is also coming out on XL (a limited run of 3333 copies this summer), which makes you wonder just how many White Stripes-related releases they can put out now.

It’s not often that I can say, “I was halfway through gnawing at a pork rib when the headline act came on”. But that’s what happened. No sooner had Aluminum finished than Jack, Brendan and the boys caught us by surprise and took to the stage and went headlong into Store Bought Bones. It’s a shame that the vocals were a bit low in the mix, which meant that we didn’t hear the songs in their full glory, though what we heard sounded pretty good. Tight bluesy rock’n’roll is the order of the day for The Raconteurs. The highlight was obviously Steady As She Goes, but they slowed the tempo down for a not-quite-ballad which was also pretty fine. The set was short (6 or 7 songs) but an ample taster for the Raconteurs live experience and their new album. Then Jack and co. vanished up the stairs and left us to have our bodies jarred by the heavy bass from a DJ set by Various (their album is another summer XL release) and contemplate the rapidly-diminishing stocks of alcohol.

Since XL are keeping a pretty tight guard on the Raconteurs album (no copies seem to have leaked yet), here’s Steady As She Goes again.

Download: Raconteurs - Steady as She Goes

(also it was a pain that just when I had a perfect view about 3 metres from Jack White I forgot my camera. These dodgy phone pics will have to do...)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Is it real, like those girls on TV?

First up on XL week is be your own PET. There’s been a lot about these Nashville teenage punks around since they burst onto the scene last year, but now the time of reckoning has come and their eponymous new album is out today. And it’s a lot better than I expected. I was expecting bratty, snotty punky noises of not much substance. And although the noise bit is true, and the tracks don’t alter much in style or speed, it’s a refreshing short sharp (most tracks clock in about 2 minutes) blast of energy which is pretty compelling, and gives you the necessary jolt on your way to work on a Monday morning. Give me their 1 min 45 sec Stairway to Heaven over Zep’s bloated number any day.

It’s one of these albums that’s worth sticking with (not that it’ll take you long – all 15 tracks are over in 33 minutes) because the last four songs are the pick of the bunch. October, First Account is the only track on which they slow their frenetic pace, and they end up sounding like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (which is no bad thing). Love your Shotgun contains the distinctly un-punky line “I hate it, this riot / all I wanted was a room at the Hyatt”. Maybe they’re considering future stardom and Courtney Love-style eccentricities for frontwoman Jemina Pearl. And the seemingly zombie-inspired OUCH is a great way to end the album, complete with strangling groaning noises.

All this and no Damn Damn Leash! Well, that’ll surely be making some more money on Ebay now…

Download: be your own PET - Stairway to Heaven
Download: be your own PET – Love Your Shotgun
Download: be your own PET – Fill My Pill

Buy be your own PET

XL week on The Daily Growl

This week is XL week on The Daily Growl. For no real reason expect that there’s been a load of good stuff on this label over the years, and no doubt they’ll continue to keep up the good work. That, and I went to one of their promo events tonight which previewed some of their current and new artists, including a set by The Raconteurs. More on this tomorrow.

XL was started back in 1989 by Beggars to release dance music. One of their first signings was the Prodigy, who are still on the label. In recent years they’re diversified a bit, and the label now encompasses tango to US teen punk. Past artists have included Lemon Jelly, Badly Drawn Boy and Peaches. The current roster of artists (according to their website) is:

Basement Jaxx
Be your own PET
Devendra Banhart
Dizzee Rascal
Gotan Project

The Prodigy
The Raconteurs
The White Stripes

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ashley Beedle's reggae mix

Simple as that. The other week, superstar DJ Ashley Beedle took time out from his usual house DJ sets and X-Press 2 work (when is that new album coming?) to lay down a set of classic reggae for Rob Da Bank's Blue Room radio show. It's good. Here it is (just sorry about the abrupt ending - that's where Rob starts speaking).

Ashley Beedle Blue Room reggae mix


1. Buju Banton 'Speech'
2. Bob Marley And The Wailers 'Stand Up Jamrock' ( Ashley Beedle Remix )
3. Vybes Kartel 'How We Ride'
4. Alton Ellis and Tupac 'Nothin' Like Rocksteady'
5. George Allison 'Ten To One'
6. Willie Williams /Sound Dimension 'Jah Righteous Plan'
7. Dennis Brown 'Babylon Trap Them'

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wherefore art thou, Avalanches?

Whatever happened to The Avalanches? The other week I put on their classic 2000 album Since I Left You, and wondered, six years down the line, what they’re up to now. So I did some quick research, and here’s an update for you, so you don’t have to go looking yourself…

1. The new album is still coming. Or, as they put it “exploration into sampled inner space continues”. The good news is it’s “sounding damn exciting from all reports”. The bad news is that we still don’t have an idea of when. Still, we can console ourselves with the claim that “recording is proceeding much quicker than with the first album believe it or not”.

2. They’ve been flirting with soft rock – notably re-editing most of Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album (apparently “excluding wanted dead or alive and without love which are shit”). Aussies and those in Oz had the chance to hear them at recent DJ sets in Sydney and Melbourne. The rest of us can only imagine…

3. Tony Diblasi apparently “has a fine new haircut, he did it himself”, and rather more mystifyingly “its rad crooked multiplied by elf”. There seems to be further facial hair development, as evidenced by pics here.

And er, that’s about it, apart for a pretty ace new range of merch, which can stave off the desire for some new tunes. Look stylish at the summer festivals, and get people saying “oh the Avalanches – I remember them”.

So in the meantime, here are some remixes that the Avalanches have done for other people. If Wikipedia is to be believed, there are only six of these ever done (and if you know better – get updating). Four of these are below. All of them are good. Even the Manic Street Preachers one. Honest.

Download: Badly Drawn Boy - The Shining (Avalanches Good Word For The Weekend Mix)
Download: Manic Street Preachers - So Why So Sad (Sean Penn Mix - Avalanches)
Download: Belle & Sebastian - I'm A Cuckoo (by the Avalanches)
Download: The Concretes - Chico (Avalanches' Wernham Hogg Remix)

If you haven't got it already (shame on you) buy Since I Left You

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Walk a mile in my shoes

It was listening to the new Coldcut album Sound Mirrors that reminded me (as if I needed it) how great Willie Hightower is. Jon More and Matt Black cover the old Joe South song ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes’ with assistance of Robert Owens on vox. As I said then, good though this version is, every other version (yes, that includes Elvis – especially Elvis) of this song pales beside Willie’s. Maybe it’s his rough Sam Cooke-style vocals, maybe it’s the loping, funky beat, maybe it’s the way the horns explode midway though. Whatever, it’s hard to get a more perfect three minutes or so, and it’s one of my all-time favourite songs.

My copy of the song is on the ace compilation ‘Willie Hightower’ (on Damon Albarn’s Honest Jon’s Records). Funnily enough, in the sleeve notes, music writer Tim Tooher tells how he used to drop ‘Walk a Mile..’ into his set back in the heyday of acid house, and got the ravers going wild! The whole album is worth a listen. No, scrub that – you need this album. It’s basically a compilation of three singles (six tracks) he recorded at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and other singles and album tracks he recorded over a too-short career (although apparently he still lives and performs in Alabama).

The music is gritty, funky, soulful, and totally heartfelt and real. You know that Willie meant what he was singing. Particularly on the songs that have a strong civil rights theme, like the brilliant Back Road Into Town, and Time Has Brought About a Change, which is Willie’s personal follow-up to Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come, written because he felt that things were changing for his people.

The three above-mentioned tracks are posted below for your listening pleasure. But there’s so much more great stuff on the album. I’ll stop going on about it, mainly because I would run out of superlatives. Bloody Essential.

Willie Hightower – Walk a Mile in My Shoes
Willie Hightower – Back Road Into Town
Willie Hightower – Time Has Brought About a Change

Buy Willie Hightower.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Shake, Shake, Shimmy

Not all the good bands are at SXSW at the moment, you know. One that should be treading the board of next year’s festival though, should be Lucky Soul, once their star begins its inevitable rise. I only heard about them last week, but have become quickly hooked by their catchy indie meets Motown and Spector pop tunes. Think Saint Etienne without the disco and synths and a load more soul.

Last night I caught them live at a free showcase at the Old Blue Last pub in Shoreditch, and yeah, it was a short ‘n’ lovely set. They cut a fabulously retro dash (as you may be able to see from the pic), looking a wee bit like something straight outta 60s Carnaby Street.

I really enjoyed their set, which contained bursts of euphoric pop-soul goodness, with some techy problems. Highlights for me were the glorious Give me Love (part of their new double A side single with the almost-as-lovely My Brittle Heart), and Baby I’m Broke, a great ballad which nods both at the anthemic indie singalong and classic southern soul. And oddly enough, although singer Ali Howard's voice doesn't seem very strong on record, it sounds much better live.

As a band, they’re still a wee bit rough around the edges, but they’ve got time on their side. And they’re just so damn loveable that I’m sure that the good will that was there for them at the gig last night will go further with them. And is it time for the indie boys to have a new Sarah Cracknell in the shape of Ali Howard? I’m not sure – maybe it’ll be a different generation of indie boys. Whatever, I’m fairly sure they’re going on to greater things...

Download: Lucky Soul - Give Me Love
Download: Lucky Soul - Lips are Unhappy

Go to Karmadownload to to buy the new single out today on download. The limited edition 7 inch is out next week. You can probably get that from Rough Trade.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

M Craft is back...

I was pretty pleased the other week to hear that M Craft is back. “Was he ever here?” I hear you say. Well, he was, briefly, back in 2004, when I managed to see him three times in the space of a few months. In that time the East London-based Aussie singer-songwriter released a mini-album and a 7” single, and managed to gather a heap of critical acclaim, with publications from the music mags to Dazed and Confused to Time Out weighing in their support.

I first saw Martin (for that is his name) playing with Hot Chip and Joy Zipper in a show that can still be viewed here, and was immediately impressed by his well, er, crafted songs, which had great hooks, even grooves, and that special somthing which set them apart from a lot of generic singer-songwriter fayre. But after a load of free gigs, mainly around Shoreditch and North London, he had disappreared from the radar by the end of the summer and last year I feared he may have slipped into nothingness, just like another old favourite Hackney band, Lincoln (if anyone has any info about them, let me know).

But now I know. According to his recently remodelled website, a lengthy blurb explains his falling on hard times, horrific injury and struggling through the odds to create his new album. Who knows, if the album’s a hit, they may even make a biopic.

Anyway, it’s glad to have him back, and glad that unlike his ex-labelmate Willis, 679 Records haven’t dropped him, and will be releasing his new album Silver and Fire on 22 May. He plays a gig on the same day at the Islington Bar Academy. Spoon and New Pornographers fans should look out for him supporting at Koko on 16 May. There's apparently a mid-April central London show to be confirmed. Keep checking Eat Your Own Ears for details.

Looking forward to the album then. In the meantime here's some tracks from the 2004 7 inch single - the lead track Emily Snow, Sweets (off the mini-album) and Dragonfly (which will be on the new album). I reckon fans of the likes of Badly Drawn Boy and Jose Gonzales will find a lot to enjoy here.

Download: M. Craft - Emily Snow
Download: M. Craft - Sweets
Download: M. Craft - Dragonfly

More M. Craft tunes available when you:

- Sign up to his mailing list (you get free new track 'Demons')
- Go to his MySpace Site and download free track 'Love Knows How to Fight'
- Got to TuneTribe and buy this ace new single Silver and Fire / You are the Music.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I once had a girl...

I cam across the Fiery Furnaces' cover of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood on Marathonpacks the other day. And it made me think of the other versions of that songs I have. Well, the two versions I have. I'm not really convinced by the Furnaces' one (but I'll give it a few more spins before deciding for sure), but the other two are pretty good. One is an instrumental dub reggae version by Dub Specialist, from the ace Studio One Soul 2 compilation. The other is by the soon-to-return (hopefully) Cornershop and sung in Tjinder Singh's native Hindi. Nice. And for good measure, the original by four blokes from Liverpool.

Download: The Beatles - Norwegian Wood
Download: The Fiery Furnaces - Norwegian Wood
Download: Dub Specialist - Darker Block
Download: Cornershop - Norwegian Wood

The past is just a Blur - photos

For some reason Blogger wouldn't let me post these photos on the post below. Weird...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The past is just a Blur

I was a bit late starter in the pop music stakes. Popular entertainment was frowned on in my strict religious parental home, so as a young 13-year old I was holed up in my room with my radio, catching the charts and early evening shows on local commercial radio. I didn’t really know what I liked, but it was certainly chart fodder. I didn’t know any better.

Yesterday I took my friends’ 13-year old son to see Graham Coxon at the Oxford Street Virgin Megastore. He was playing a short set to launch his new album, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, out this week in the UK. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a Coxon fan, due mainly to neglect than dislike, but happily took the chance the check him out.

Coxon is now on his 6th solo album – he did three while he was still in Blur, and has recorded further three more since leaving his former band. I was vaguely aware of his earlier stuff, which seemed to me a bit scratchy and lo-fi. However his last long-player Happiness in Magazines, with Stephen Street giving it a more polished sound, launched him further into the public eye, gave him minor hits, and endeared him to a new generation of guitar-rock loving kids.

On the evidence of this gig, His sound is now a snappy Buzzcock-y punk pop, that chug along at a fair old pace, so he was able to cram a lot of these short punk-pop numbers into his set. It's all pretty enjoyable stuff, but agreeable though the tunes are, after a few of them, the lack of change in tempo (he doesn’t really do ballads) means the songs begin to blend together. Just when I was in danger of losing interest, he launched into the ragged glory of ‘Freakin’ Out’, his breakthrough hit from a couple of years back. At last! One I knew!

In the end Coxon’s set probably wasn't enough to entice me to buy his album, but his songs are certainly enjoyable in short bursts, and I’m open to further listening and persuading. There’s one below for starters. And looking back to my 13-year old bedroom/radio days, I would have loved to have been able to go to something like this. Great to see someone starting early on the right path. I’m retrospectively jealous…

Download: You Always Let Me Down

Buy Love Travels...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kid Carpet for a Monday

Did you find it hard to get out of bed this morning? If you did, here’s a couple of cute mash-ups from Kid Carpet – just for you. It’s the first one that’s most appropriate – a funny piece of dialogue, over Mel & Kim’s ‘Respectable’ about a man who refuses to get out of bed, and to hell with the consequences (is this from a movie, or has he just made this up?). I bet you wish you had the balls to do this.

The other is less bed-related, but now that you’re up and facing the day, it’s just a little injection of fun into your life. The Beatles’ 'Get Back mashed' with Brakes’ 'All Night Disco Party'.

For the record, Kid Carpet, according to himself, makes “kiddy disco punk and shit-hop music”. He had an album of such music out last year – it’s called ‘Ideas and Oh Dears’. You can find out more about him at his website, which has a few more mp3s to download (including his amusing version of Van Halen’s ‘Jump’), as does his MySpace page.

Download: DisRespectable
Download: BrakeBeatles

Sunday, March 12, 2006

New Little White Lies

The new issue of Little White Lies is out. I've written about it on my blog before, so go here for more about what it's about. The feature movie in the new issue is Romance and Cigarettes, so there a few tie-in articles about smoking (the nasty tobacco industry, tobacco farming, 'fag stats' etc) and romance (which are less convincing and features articles on marriage meltdown and prostitutes). Plus the usual round of reviews, with their unique scoring system. I'm off fr a proper read now...

Subscribe here (I think I will).

Friday, March 10, 2006

The gypsy punk post

I bumped into an old friend on the street the other day. He told me he was going to see Gogol Bordello at the Astoria (tonight). “Who are Gogol Bordello?” I asked. He told me that they were a Ukrainian gypsy punk band – big in Ukraine apparently. Now this may be the case, I thought, but surely there aren’t that enough Ukrainians in London who are into this band to fill the Astoria.

Then, oddly enough, when I logged on for my weekly listen to my favourite radio show – the Blue Room on Radio 1 – I found that Rob da Bank’s ‘Blue Room Tune’ for March is Gogol Bordello’s Start Wearing Purple. And what a riot it is – all punk enengy, shouting and (something I always think there’s not enough of in pop music) a big cheesy accordion sound. Gypsy punk indeed.

But then further research revealed that not just a dodgy genre name – Gypsy Punk is actually the name of GB’s last album. And they’re not from Ukraine – they’re from New York – led by charismatic, incredibly moustachioed Ukrainian frontman Eugene Hutz. Hutz is also an actor – he appeared in Elijah Wood in last year’s minor art-house flick Everything is Illuminated. Apparently they’re a riot live too. So said Metro this morning. Maybe there will be more than just Ukrainians and my mate at the gig tonight then. And apparently Jo Whiley has put money on them being future chart stars, but I don't know if that's a predictor of success or not...

Anyway, ‘Start Wearing Purple’ made me think of the movies of bonkers Bosnian film director Emir Kusturica. The three that I’ve seen – Underground, Black Cat White Cat and Life is a Miracle – have all strongly featured boisterous gypsy music, usually accompanied by much drinking and associated carnage. Kusturica likes to style himself as a gypsy punk with his band the No Smoking Orchestra, who also play on his film soundtracks. Compared to Hutz and Co, he’s doesn't really sound punk, but Emir could probably outdo them in the drinking stakes.

I’d recommend all of the above movies, particularly Life is a Miracle. The critics didn’t really like it, but praised Underground (a Cannes Palm d’Or winner) which I like the least. Oh well, what do they know?

Download: Start Wearing Purple by Gogol Bordello
Download: Wanted Man by The No Smoking Orchestra

Buy Gypsy Punks here. Buy No Smoking Orchestra stuff here, and you could even get one of Kusturica's films on DVD here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More Studio One Soul

This is my first post on Soul Jazz records, and it certainly won’t be my last. For those of you who don’t know, they’re a record label who specialise in reissues of classic reggae, soul, funk, hip-hop and other stuff (even including NYC punk-funk), a lot of which is rare or previously unreleased. Probably their best-known compilations are the Studio One reggae series, which has seen a whole heap of totally ace compilations of tunes from Kingston’s legendary Studio One records, usually released by genre (Roots, Ska, Rockers, Lovers’ Rock, Dub etc).

The best selling comp of the series was Studio One Soul, which was (self-evidently) various Jamaican artists doing their own takes on classic American soul numbers. Now they’ve recently released the second in the series.

Where the first one had the more obvious soul biggies (Express Yourself, Respect, Time is Right), this one digs a bit deeper. Sure, there are covers of well-known songs like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ (by the evergreen Horace Andy), but most of these will not be familiar to those with just a rudimentary knowledge of US soul (that includes me!).

Curtis Mayfield covers are popular on this comp (there are five), but it’s not the well-known Superfly stuff. It’s lesser-known gems like 'Ten to One' and 'Choice of Colours'. It’s not even all ‘proper’ soul on this album either - there’s a fine instrumental dub take on ‘Norweigan Wood’, and a back-to-Africa rasta call to the tune of ‘House of the Rising Sun’. Prince Jazzbo’s Fool for Love is a DJ version of Dawn Penn’s No No No (itself a soul cover). And there’s a bit more of this covering and re-covering going on, usually to pretty good effect.

This collection isn’t as immediate as its predecessor, but repeated listening brings rewards. I’m on my third spin (if you can do that on an iPod) now and it’s beginning to work its way into the groove part of my brain. Nice stuff.

Download: Westbound Train by Jacob Miller
Download: Ain't No Sunshine by Horace Andy
Download: Fool for Love by Prince Jazzbo

Buy Studio One Soul 2 direct from Soul Jazz's Shop, Sounds of the Universe.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ivor Cutler RIP

I've just found out that the great Scottish poet/musician Ivor Cutler has died. Apparently he died on Friday, but the news only came ou today. I can't claim to be a big fan, but I've been aware of him ever since I started listening to John Peel back in my fresh teenage days. His dulcet Scottish tones always stood out against the raging guitars and repetitive beats Peel was playing at the time. I got my interest re-revived after watching a charming documentary about him on BBC4 last year. I hope they show it again in memoriam.

He recorded 21 sessions for John Peel, which must have been more than any other artist. Maybe except The Fall. He was said to be an inspiration to the Beatles, and appeared in the Magical Mystery Tour film. He was certainly an inspiration to Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand.

There's an obituary in today's Guardian.

More on Cutler from this fansite.

I've only got one Cutler track. Here it is:

Download: Everybody Got

Emmy the Great

Apart from the obvious greatness of Tilly and the Wall at their recent Buffalo Bar gig, the other great thing about the evening was the quality of the support act. I had no idea who the singer was, as she ran through a short but delightful set of acoustic songs, with snappy lyrics and good tunes veering between the quiet and the loud. She has the makings of a good voice too. Some may call it indie-folk, in the past it could have been called anti-folk. Who knows - I enjoyed it, and I wasn't the only one.

After the gig, further research via her MySpace site, then her own site revealed her to be Emmy the Great, a Hong Kong-born north Londoner, whose grandiose name belies her slight stature. She's been doing a whole heap of gigs round London and beyond, the next one in this fair city being this coming Saturday, supporting ex-Gorky's Zygotic Mynci man Euros Childs at Bush Hall. Well worth checking out.

Here are a couple of songs. From what I can gather, I think these will be coming out as part of a 7 inch single through the Drowned in Sound singles club later this month. Not sure where you can order it from, but I reckon Rough Trade will be a good bet.

Download: Secret Circus
Download: Edward is Dedward (demo)

There are a few more demo tunes on her website for you to download.

What a result!

They’re over again for another year. And despite some complaints about the ceremony being a bit flat, I’m pretty happy with the results. I'm glad that Brokeback Mountain didn’t sweep the board – it’s good but not that good. I totally approve of most of the awards. Philip Seymour Hoffman finally getting mainstream recognition for the great actor that he is, and Reese’s lovely turn in Walk the Line gets credit. Pleased to see Clooney getting the gold man for Syriana, even though I found the movie a frustrating watch. The Brits get to whoop with joy as ‘one of ours’ gets the Best Supporting Actress award for the Contstant Gardener. That should make up for the Bafta disappointment then. And the best film? Crash is a good movie, and as I said, just glad that Brokeback didn’t take them all.

Us Brits never get to see the ceremony anyway. It’s probably shown live on some poxy cable channel but even so, most people have to get up for work the next day. And even though it is the main event in Hollywood’s calendar, and one I love, it’s really not worth falling asleep at my desk for. So I have to be content with internet coverage and online video clips.

Speaking of video clips, the best Oscar-related thing I’ve seen today is this video (via the mighty Londonist) from ace funnyman Peter Serafinowicz (he of Spaced, and Look Around You fame). Made me almost cough up my sandwich at lunchtime.

And speaking of video spoofs, there are a whole load of Brokeback spoof trailers out now apparently. I thought the Back to the Future one was good, but I really can’t be bothered to check through all of these.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Paris au Cinema

Well, the long weekend in Paris was a good’un. I can’t believe I’ve been in London for almost nine years and not taken the short train ride over. Next time will be much sooner. Heck, it might even be in the next couple of months. There’s an ace-looking exhibition on at the Hotel de Ville called Paris au Cinema, which basically looks at Paris’ starring role in movies, past and present. I know because I flicked through the accompanying book in the bookshop at the Centre Pompidou. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go, so I may well have to go back to see it. Any excuse will do. It’s a fine city.

I’m not going into holiday snaps ‘n’ stories mode now, except to say that I was really impressed by how much the Parisians seem to love their films. I was pleasantly struck by just how many small independent cinemas there are dotted round Paris city centre. Some only have one screen. There used to be a load of these in London in the past, but there is only a handful now.

The other thing I was struck by was the queues outside cinemas. Firstly the wee one-screen place round the corner from our hotel had a queue outside at 11am on Saturday. Then we went to see Syriana on Saturday night at a cinema on Boulevard St Germain, and had to do battle with huge queues that formed for every film they were showing. And it was the same story at the cinema across the road. Impressive. I’ve never queued like that in London in all my cinema-going time here.

And finally, there is a very healthy amount of French film on show, even in the UGCs and the like. It’s at least 40% French movies a friend told me on Saturday. I wish that British films were even partially represented like that at the UK box offices. I’m sure it’s to do with government funding, but I do long for the day when there is a decent choice of good British films in any week (and I mean properly British as opposed to our actors in American movies, or produced here with US money). Until then I’ll probably go on seeing more French movies in any given year than British ones.

Oh OK then, here's one from the family album...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Paris in the Spring

So I'm off to Paris for a romantic sojourn for a few days. It won't feel like the spring though - it'll be cold, but I expect it'll be pretty good. No posts till next week then...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

It's Ash Wednesday today. If you're a Catholic or an Anglican Christian, that's the start of Lent. It's also the day after Shrove Tuesday (in Britain). In other countries, it's Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). The principle however, is the same. You use up all the rich/excessive stuff that you're supposed to give up for Lent, and then slip into 40 days of abstinence till Easter.

In Britain, Shrove Tuesday is also called Pancake Day. Some of the indulgent things that used to be given up for Lent were eggs and milk. So people made pancakes to get rid of it on the Tuesday. But what happens if you've got pancakes left over on the Wednesday...?

The best of February

Now that it's March, I'll allow myself a final backward glance at February to see what it was I liked about that month (well, as far as music goes anyway). So here goes my inaugural monthly review...

Album of the Month

Tilly and the Wall: Wild Like Children (Moshi Moshi)

Just pipping Jenny Lewis is this album which I've had on my computer for almost two years. It makes it as album on the month, because of it's recent UK release on Moshi Moshi records, and especially for that amazing gig a week or so ago.

Download: The Ice Storm, Big Gust, and You

Songs of the month (in no particular order)

1. Robotman by The Aliens
2. Gold Lion by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
3. Honey Child What Can I Do? by Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan
4. Friend of the Night by Mogwai
5. You Are What You Love by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins