Friday, June 30, 2006

Heading South (West)

As of tonight, The Daily Growl will close down for a week or so, as I head down to Cornwall for a wee holiday with Mrs Growl. However, there may be the odd rogue posting by a mysterious guest. I guess we'll all just have to wait and see...

Before I go a couple of things:

Look at the silly ass I am! If you look back to my review of the Early Years at Madame Jo Jo's last week, you'll see that I reviewed the wrong band! So apologies to Roger and the rest of the group. That does explain why I liked the singles but the live experience was so dull! I'll make amends by checking you out and doing a proper review soon. In my defence I'll say that I didn't know what the band looked like, and nobody said anything about the change in schedule. Oh well, it's pretty funny.

Since I'm going to Cornwall, I'll leave you with a couple of tunes from Cornwall's finest musical son - Aphex Twin. Seeya soon.

Download: Aphex Twin - Digiredoo
Download: Aphex Twin - Analogue Bubblebath 1

PS Pic of Perranporth (where we're going) by

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The best of June

Shockingly early this month. Probably because I'm going on holiday at the weekend. So here are my quickly-assembled picks for June.

Album of the Month

Camera Obscura – Let's Get Out of This Country

It just has to be. I can't get enough of this album at the moment!

Download: Camera Obscura - Dory Previn

Buy Let's Get Out of This Country From Amazon

Songs of the month

Lily Allen – Littlest Things (buy Alright, Still)

This gorgeous, sad ballad is the Lily song that's doing it most for me at the mo.

The Rumble Strips – Hate Me (Buy the 7 inch)

Straight outta east London (via Devon) are The Rumble Strips. This is a cracker. My bloody computer isn't letting me record from vinyl just now, so this is a live version.

Muse - Supermassive Black Hole (buy Black Holes and Revelations)

Who'd have thought it? Until recently the putting the words 'Muse' and 'my favourite tunes' together would have been madness. But this is the business. It's all come right somehow.

Mojave 3 - Breaking the Ice (Buy Puzzles Like You)

There's a good few fantastic tunes on Puzzles Like You, but this summery (despite the title) country-pop number just shades it

Primal Scream - The 99th Floor (Buy Riot City Blues)

OK, so maybe Riot City Blues isn't the classic I was hoping for, but there are a lot of goodies on there. This is one of them

PS the photo above is a project called the knitting site , a three-story knitted house at the recent St Bartholomew's Fair, part of the recent London Architecture Biennale. Mrs Growl and some friends were involved in it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


So, no gigs this week, but I still got to watch some live music yesterday. Well, sort of live. Thanks to Time Out I went to see a preview screening of Awesome! I Fuckin' Shot That! , the new Beastie Boys movie (out in the UK on 7 July I think).

It was a bit of an unusual experience. If I tell you it's the first time I've walked out of a cinema during a film, that would be misleading. I never walk out – not even during the bloody Da Vinci Code! However, the pains in my stomach which started earlier in the day, were getting to the point where I just needed to get home. And it's almost half an hour on the tube from Islington to my house. So I left.

It was a shame because the movie was pretty good. However, if you're at all adverse to shaky hand-held camera work, this is not for you, even if you a are a huge Beasties fan. I thought I was immune to cinematic shakes, having sat through more than my fair share of Dogme films and low-budget indies, but this is something else.

If you don't already know, Awesome... is a comprised of edited footage shot by 50 fans at the Beastie Boys' 2004 Madison Square Garden gig who were given cameras by the fab three and just told to shoot from where they were. The result is a concert movie with a difference. Not much in the way of long panning shots, no overhead pics, and very little zooming in on stars' faces. This movie features the crowd almost as much as the group, and this is its major strength – it's a fan's eye view of a gig. So sometimes, you can't see the stage for upraised arms, sometimes someone passes in front of the view – just like a real gig. There's loads of footage of people jumping around, dancing and singing (or should that be rapping) along – and even buying drinks from the bar and going to the loo.

And the music? It's mighty fine. With Mixmaster Mike's huge beats, and the crowd going mad it feels a bit weird to be sitting still in your seat in the cinema. However, cinema is the place to see it. I wouldn't normally say that (I've always thought that documentaries and music films are probably best viewed on DVD at home) but with the big screen and the sound blasting out of the multiplex soundsystem, it's exactly the right place, and much more like being there than it would be on my small TV screen and its tinny speakers. In fact, this might be even better than being there – this way you don't have to put up with that annoying guy in front, get elbowed in the head by an over-exuberant dancer and have some idiot spill beer on your shoes. So thumbs up for as much as I saw, and that's even without witnessing the inevitable hysteria that would no doubt have accompanied the into to Intergalatic.

Download: The Beastie Boys – Intergalatic
Download: The Beastie Boys – Root Down
Download: The Beastie Boys – Sabotage
Download: The Beastie Boys – Body Movin'
Download: The Beastie Boys - An Open Letter to NYC

btw, the current issue of the ever-excellent Little White Lies has Awesome... as it's main feature movie. Ch-check it out...

The Daily Growl vs. Music Like Dirt

Check out fellow London music blogger Music Like Dirt for a wee joint project, which he'd previously started. It's a kinda blogger's juke box jury where he gave me three tracks to listen to and review and I reciprocated. He's posted our reviews of our own tracks, and what we thought of each other's.

If you've ever read MLD, you'll know he's a man of fine taste, and the three tracks were no exception. Mine? I think they were good, and he seems to have thought so too. What were they? Go see for yourself - the pic above (by Andrew Kendall) is a clue to what one of mine was.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Disco Pogo for Punks in Pumps - Volume 7

Swiftly onwards then on our Jockey journey. This stop’s at Disco Pogo number 7 (skipping 6. ‘cos I don’t have it). On the cover (as you may be able to see) is Trevor Jackson, for a big feature on his Output label (looks like it’s still going, maybe just not so uber-cool as it was). His signing Colder, got album of the month for his glacial electro. We were introduced to new artists like The Go! Team, Mylo, and Ulrich Schnauss, we had an audience with the RZA and read a prophetic article proclaiming the demise of DJs mixing records (gosh, that seems so long ago now).

The CD is a cracker. The best so far? Quite possibly. Suffice to say there’s not a duff track on there, so selecting a few was merely an exercise in separating the great from the very good.

Download: The Karminsky Experience – Departures
Download: Ulrich Schnauss – On My Own
Download: Mogwai – Hunted by a Freak
Download: Colder - The Slow Descent
Download: Boom Bip – From Left to Right
Download: DM & Jemini – Ghetto Pop Life
Download: The Go! Team – We Listen Everyday
Download: Trouble Man – Change is What We Need
Download: Karime Kendra – I Would

Monday, June 26, 2006

Lily goes live

So Lily Allen then. I’ve not posted on her yet, mainly because it wouldn’t have been anything that hasn’t been posted or said already, although there is a lot of love for Lily at Daily Growl Towers. So here I was, thinking I had something new – live Lily tunes from a session for Gilles Peterson on Radio 1 last night. Then I was beaten to it by 2 Many Scenes! But since I went to the effort of editing my radio recording to get these tracks, I’m still going to post ‘em. Not sure if it’s a totally live session, but live sounds better, innit.

Smile and LDN, everyone has heard everywhere (but they’re still mighty fine), however Alfie is new to me. It’s a tale of her getting her kid brother to stop smoking the weed and get off his arse and get on with his life. A goodie.

Speaking of Lily live, of all the bloggers posting on her, no-one seems to have seen her live. Now this may be reasonable, due to the relative lack of live appearances so far. But there have been some, and Music Like Dirt was there at one.

Download: Lily Allen – LDN (live on Radio 1)
Download: Lily Allen – Smile (live on Radio 1)
Download: Lily Allen – Alfie (live on Radio 1)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Soul Gospel Sunday

Since it's Sunday (just), let's have some gospel. Particularly soul gospel. Last year's brilliant Soul Gospel from the peerless Soul Jazz records brought some soul-gospel gems, which if not all religious or spiritual, they're all from artists who had all started their singing in the church. Here's a mere three as a sampler, though the album is pretty damn essential!

Download: Clarence Smith - Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
Download: Voices of East Harlem - New York Lightning
Download: Aretha Franklin: Lee Cross

Buy Soul Gospel from Amazon

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Early Years @ Madame Jo Jo's

Tuesday night wasn’t a good night to put on a gig. Especially since fans of loud guitar rock tend to the male side of the population, and that same gender may have just been a wee bit more keen on watching England’s World Cup exploits than indie rock. Even for just one evening. The promoter confessed as much, and that he just didn’t think about the football when booking this week’s White Heat club at Madame Jo-Jo’s in Soho.

The result is really that the evening takes that wee bit longer to get started. First band Wolfie are on just after Sweden score to end the game 2-2. They’re terrible. But the people do start to arrive. And they’re not just blokes either.

I’m expecting good things from The Early Years. Debut single All Ones and Zeroes and new one So Far Gone are classic noisy indie guitar rock, with more than a nod to shoegazing. The singles could both surely could pass for Ride in their prime, and some of the B-sides suggest an affiliation with the gentler side of early 90s indie. But there’s more than that in The Early Years arsenal. I Heard Voices introduces a more experimental side – loping beats, distorted vocals and loads of layered post rock guitars. It almost 12 minutes long, but still doesn’t seem over-long. It’s their best tune by miles.

So is it forever 1991 in The Early Years’ world? First signs are is that it could be. Look! The keyboard player/third guitarist is wearing DMs with a bottle top in the laces! And although the ripped-jeans-and-converse look might have persisted, I was definitely wearing these in ’91. Heck, even their name evokes my own ‘early years’ of being into music! Things are looking up…

The result? Well, at the end I remained annoyingly unimpressed. Live they’re certainly more Swervedriver than Slowdive, but the show just didn’t live up to the promise of the singles. If I was their teacher, I might mark them down for repetition and lack of diversity. And maybe make them write out “It’s not good enough to drench everything in sheets of guitar noise” 100 times. Were the barely-audible vocals intentional, or just a result of ropey sound? In the end, each song sounded much like the last one. It’s good enough for a good few of the audience, with plenty heads nodding to the pounding bass, but left me strangely dissatisfied. I returned to the singles. Yes, they’re still good, but I didn’t really recognise any of them live. Maybe I should give them another chance. Maybe there are two Early Years? Who knows? It’s probably worth finding out...

Download: The Early Years – All Ones And Zeroes
Download: The Early Years – I Heard Voices

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

King Creosote Rules - OK?

That title could be read in an aggressive "What you lookin’ at" kinda way, but that wouldn’t be fitting for Kenny Anderson, the man who calls himself King Creosote. He seems like such a nice guy, with his quiet demeanour and self-effacing style. I found this out during his solo acoustic mini-tour of London bars and record shops over the weekend. I caught him at Pure Groove on Holloway Road on Monday afternoon.

Pure Groove is pretty tiny. There’s about 15 people watching KC, and it still seems a little crowded (how did Tilly and the Wall manage to all fit in and play here recently?) However, it’s comfortable, and Kenny is on form, both in playing his tunes and chatting with his small audience. He regales us with tales of sheep urine and drunk driving from his recent trip to the remote Scottish island of Eigg. His humour is a little too self-deprecating at times. Honestly, Kenny, you just don’t have be so apologetic. We really like your solo acoustic stuff. We don’t mind that the Earlies’ production is nowhere to be heard. We think that your cover of Martin Craft’s You Are The Music is great, so stop apologising to him.

But he's charming company for 40 minutes or so as he plays through songs from his latest (Earlies-produced) album KC Rules OK, and some other gems, including the aforementioned cover. The album was originally released last year (one of my top 10 of 2005), but has just been re-released by his label with a couple of tracks re-recorded for some reason. Not sure why. Maybe I should have asked him.

KC doesn't seem to be a guitar wanker. He says he only owns two, and that both of them are currently broken. So he's borrowed a guitar from HMS Ginafore, an artist from the Fence Collective, a group of folk musicians based in Fife (east coast of Scotland, if your UK geography is dodgy) of which Kenny is the founder and leading light. The return gesture is that he plays one of her songs. It's lovely too.

King Creosote is out and about at a good few UK festivals this summer, so if you're going to any, there's a fair chance that you'll get to see him. Maybe you too will fall for his subtle charms. And there's clearly people out there who fully expect his fanbase to grow - like ambitious London gig promoters Eat Your Own Ears, who are putting on a KC gig at the 2000 capacity Shepherd's Bush Empire in October. That's a bit more than 15, but if there's any musical heart in London, The Empire will be full that night.

From KC Rules OK (buy it from Amazon)

Download: King Creosote - 678
Download: King Creosote - Marguerita Red

(These are the original versions)

From Kenny and Beth's Musakal Boat Rides (buy it from Amazon)

Download: King Creosote - Spokes
Download: King Creosote - So Forlorn

Bonus - from M. Craft's You Are The Music single (buy from Rough Trade)

Download: King Creosote - You Are The Music

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Disco Pogo for Punks in Pumps - Volume 5

It's been a while since the last Disco Pogo post, so here's volume 5, from April 2003. The magazine which featured The Rapture, Grooverider, Zongamin, and Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band (whatever happened to the latter two?). The CD is another goodie, and hard to select only a few tracks from, but I've been harsh, and here are my picks:

Download: Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band - Casino
Download: Tes - New New York
Download: Playgroup - Make it Happen (Dub Version)
Download: Rework - Anyway I Know You
Download: LCD Soundsystem - Give it Up
Download: The Rapture - I Need Your Love
Download: Putsch '79 - 1300

The next installment is going to be tricky. I haven't got number 6 (the only one I haven't got). Anyone?

Monday, June 19, 2006

The return of The Sleepy Jackson

Whilst still awaiting news of the Avalanches’ return to recorded music (maybe I should give up?), it’s good to hear new stuff from their fellow Aussies The Sleepy Jackson. I totally loved their debut album Lovers from a few years back, so it’s good to hear some new material. The single God Lead Your Soul is out in the UK on 10 July, followed by the new album, Personality – One was a Spider, One was a Bird (making up for the lack of words in the first album’s title?)

At the end of May, Luke Steele (who is The Sleepy Jackson) came to London to do some album promo stuff, including a trip into Xfm to chat to John Kennedy and play some songs in the studio.

Presumably to the annoyance of his record company, he didn’t play songs from the new album, choosing instead to play some songs from the next album. These are ones he’s only recently written (including one just begun that day). Luke said that he’s “building up tunes”, that he’s “got about 30” and that he’s “going to cut another record this year”. Is this a promise of prolificacy? Well, if we believe him, he’ll be “cutting two records a year and just pumping tracks everywhere”. Well Luke mate, we look forward to it if you can keep up…

I’m still not sure about looking forward to the live experience though. They’re at the Scala on 18 July, but I still haven’t got my ticket. Last time I saw them (in early 2004) their Astoria gig was one part brilliant, one part profligate. Despite the quality of some of the tunes, they spent an inordinate amount of time pissing about on stage – at one point, the bass player even got a haircut, whilst Steele plonked about with electronics and toys.

The toy thing is still there a bit – on Hello, the new track he played on Xfm, he was accompanied by his friend Snappy on a toy gun and sword. If this sounds weird, check the track out for full effect. He also did another new one called The Right Road. And there’s a final burst at the end, which I think is an excerpt from something they’re doing live “We’re doing an old musical one” Luke said, and this is it. His voice is quite something – ranging from gravel to falsetto in the same song.

Download: The Sleepy Jackson – Hello
Download: The Sleepy Jackson – The Right Road (with an excerpt of a 'work in progress' new song just before it)
Download: The Sleepy Jackson – ‘the old musical one’

I’ll be checking the messageboard for reports from the Aussie gigs (anyone at the Perth show – anything to report?), but on the strength of the new tunes, maybe I’ll be going to see them after all…

I actually missed the start of the radio interview, so he may have played God Lead Your Soul. Here’s the album/single version. It’s a grower…

Download: The Sleepy Jackson – God Lead Your Soul

Scary hair photo from TSJ’s Flickr page. Live pic of the Perth gig on Friday from their myspace site.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tapes 'n Tapes come to the UK

That should really be ‘came to the UK’, as they’ll have left by now. I’ve been a bit slow off the mark with this post. It’s over a month since Tapes ‘n Tapes hit our shores for their first UK visit, and I’m just getting around to it now. I think that some of the same hype they’re getting over the pond followed them here. Their London shows sold out pretty fast.

One of their first engagements on the UK trip was to pop into Xfm to do an interview and live studio session for John Kennedy’s Xposure show. Obviously unable to use their usual band set-up, they did fantastic acoustic versions of Insistor and Cowbell, with Josh on acoustic guitar, Jeremy on snare drum and hi hat, Eric on a drum case and Matt on euphonium. Check them out.

Download: Tapes ‘n Tapes – Insistor (live acoustic Xfm session)
Download: Tapes ‘n Tapes – Cowbell (live acoustic Xfm session)

Unfortunately I couldn’t make either of their London gigs, but Music Like Dirt was at the Barfly one, and took these brilliant photos (including the above one). They're back over here at the end of August. Dingwalls on 30 August for one. Must see them then...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mojave 3 @ the Borderline

This gig could easily not have worked out well for me. Not really anything to do with how good Mojave 3 or their songs are, but more to do with me and other circumstances. I arrived just in time for the band arriving on stage, after hot-footing it from home. The dark shadow of the dead computer was still looming over me, and I left Mrs Growl at a friend’s house still trying to rescue the hard drive and jumped on the tube for the 15 minute trip into town feeling a bit selfish, and with my mind slightly elsewhere.

The Borderline on Monday was as stiflingly hot as you’d expect an underground cavern to be with the temperature outside in the high 20s. Then I remembered that Mojave 3 would be sans Rachel Goswell (due to her illness – see her myspace for more info). So no sweet BVs and harmonies then? And then there was the sight of Neil Halstead’s new moustache. What is he doing? Is he rocking the David Crosby look? Or just a big fan of My Name is Earl?

So, a bad start for me, but not for Mojave 3. Despite the absence of Goswell, they’re on fine form, and a whole lot better than the last time I saw them. I’m just impressed at how tight they are. The new bass player is good and clearly into the music (complete with amusing chicken neck movements). The sweaty pedal steel man is making some sweet sounds. And the drummer is fantastic too.

Some songs from the new album are aired, and go down well. Old favourites like Some Kind of Angel and Sarah go down even better. And even more recent tunes like Starlite #1 and In Love with a View are already firm M3 classics. Their breezy Americana sound is even more country on the newer stuff (and their looks – all trucker caps and plaid – match the sound), and although the tunes seems more suited to the open road than a sweaty basement, they still sound pretty fine.

The new album is released on Monday. It seems like a summer cert, especially if you are on the open road. Or maybe even a sweaty basement.

Before then, check out their new single Breaking the Ice (a 6 Music session version is here for your listening pleasure). And it’s worth checking their back catalogue too. Here’s Starlite # 1 from Spoon and Rafter.

And don’t forget my Mojave 3 poster competition! There’s still time to email me!

Download: Mojave 3 – Breaking the Ice (BBC 6 Music session version)
Download: Mojave 3 – Starlite #1

Buy Puzzles Like You from Amazon

There’ll be more pics on my Flickr page soon…


Dead computer update: Things may not be as bad as they seemed. The man from Dell came round on Tuesday and replaced the dead hard drive. And with a lot of help from a friend we managed to copy most stuff off the old hard drive onto a new external drive. The good news is that I think all my music is OK. The bad news is that I think my photos are lost. Yep. All of them. (apart from the ones on this blog and my Flickr). Nightmare.

However, Mrs Growl (who's much better at these things than me) will attempt to retreive more data from the dead drive tomorrow. Let's hope it's not in vain.

The other good news is Spain's start to the World Cup. I'm not Spanish, but I have drawn them in the office sweepstake. Let's hope they haven't peaked already. On that kind of form they can go all the way! The good thing about the sweepstake is that it's given me a team to support in the tournament. Well, apart from (like all true Scots) supporting whoever's playing England! So now it's all about dusting down the steel drums and becoming an honourary Trinidadian for a couple of hours as they take on England at 5pm. I can but hope that this won't be in vain either.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Camera Obscura @ Cargo

Camera Obscura don’t make a grand entrance. They quietly assemble on the stage while the DJ is still playing, and lead singer Traceyanne Campbell is fiddling with her new effects pedals claiming she isn’t a ‘guitar geek’ and adding "they don’t call us indie shamblers for nothing".

Well, shamblers they may be, but on the strength of this gig, and their new album Let’s Get Out of This Country, maybe now’s the time for them to hold their heads up, step out of the shadows of their more illustrious Glasgow peers and claim a place of their own at the indie top table. They’ve been derided by some in the past as a 'poor man’s Belle and Sebastian', which is a bit unfair, because although there are similarities in sound, they're very much their own band.

And while Belle and Sebastian have largely moved on from their classic whimsical indie-pop formula, with mixed results, Camera Obscura have built on and expanded theirs, and arguably created a far better album than The Life Pursuit in the process. The lead track from the new album (and nice bit of Scottish intertextualisation), Lloyd I’m Ready to be Heartbroken is a classic example. It’s a glorious piece of widescreen guitar pop, with easily one of the best intros of the year. Played towards the end of their set, it’s the gig’s highlight for me.

On Lloyd... as on the rest of the album, Campbell’s effortlessly sweet, pure and clear vocals glide beautifully above the band’s sweeping sounds. Tonight, I’m captivated. It’s not just her signing voice either – her broad Glasgow accent has a pleasing edge that ex-pat Scots (like myself) have lost.

There’s a lot to enjoy. Let’s Get Out… (which makes up most of tonight’s set) is well up there in my albums of the year so far. There’s reverence and delight from the audience – hushed silence on the quiet and lovely Country Mile, celebration at old favourites like the Spector-esque opening of Eighties Fan, and mass rhythmic clapping along to I Need All the Friends I Can Get. And of course Cargo itself – easily London’s best live music venue (what other venue in this city can you sit outside on a hot summer Sunday evening eating ‘Latin American street food’ drinking good beer, having a great time, then thinking “Oh, it’s 9:30, better go in and see the band then…”)

So Camera Obscura – thank you for brightening up the evening of a very bright day. And look out North America, they’re coming your way soon – starting in Toronto on the 4th of July.

Finally, since I've posted Lloyd... previously, here’s probably the quietest and the loudest tracks from the new album, and a bonus from their debut Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi. Oh, and sorry about the rubbish photos. I can do better (honest).

Download: Camera Obscura – Country Mile
Download: Camera Obscura – If Looks Could Kill
Download: Camera Obscura – Eighties Fan

Buy Let's Get Out of This Country at Amazon.

Monday, June 12, 2006


This weekend disaster struck! My computer hard drive has died. And not being much of a computer nerd, I don't really know what's happened. Hopefully someone can come to fix it over the next few days, and maybe, just maybe retreive some of the stuff I may have lost. I'm bracing myself for the worst. Yep, all my music and photos gone up in figurative smoke. Let this be a lesson to kids everywhere to back up your stuff. Don't be a fool like me...

So this week, The Daily Growl will be brought to you courtesy of my employers. So it may not be as regular, but we'll see. I've got plenty to post about though. Last night's great Camera Obscura gig at Cargo. Tonight's Mojave 3 gig at the Borderline (not forgetting the poster competition!). More Jockey Slut nostalgia and fine tracks, and UK radio sessions from Tapes 'n Tapes and The Sleepy Jackson. Stick with it, it'll come out eventually...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mojave 3 Competition!

There’s a bit of a Mojave 3 special going on at The Daily Growl over the next week or so. Their new album Puzzles Like You is out on Monday 19 June, and from what I’ve heard, it’s sounding pretty good, and could well be a fixture on a good few summer playlists. To celebrate this, and their Borderline gigs next week (I’m going on Monday), I have four posters of the album artwork to give away (courtesy of the nice people at 4AD/ Beggars). The poster is the one in the pic above and is 70cm x 50cm.

All you need to do to win one is email me with your attempt at the rest of this sentence: “Mojave 3 will look good on my wall because….” If there’s more than four people up for it, the best completed sentences win!

My address is daily underscore growl at yahoo dot co dot uk, or go to my profile for a link.

If you’re not familiar with Mojave 3, the two main people in the band – Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell (as well as drummer Ian McCutcheon) - used to be in legendary ‘shoegaze’ band Slowdive, who were the darlings of the UK music scene in the early 90s. They released a few classic 12 inch EPs before releasing three albums between 1991 and 1995. That same year they reconvened as Mojave 3, with a definite swerve away from layered guitar and breathy vocals towards classic Americana.

They’ve released five albums to date, and to help you discover them, there’s a cool little QuickTime player you can either download here, or use online here. The player features songs from all five records, as well as a song each from Halstead and Goswell’s separate solo recordings.

The new single Breaking the Ice is a bit of a cracker. Watch the video by clicking here (for hi res) or here (for low res).

Finally, for anyone hungry for more tracks from Puzzles Like You, here’s an mp3 of Big Star Baby (courtesy of Bows + Arrows) and a BBC 6 Music session version of the title track. This and more mp3s are available if you register as a member at the M3 website.

Download: Mojave 3 – Big Star Baby
Download: Mojave 3 – Puzzles Like You (BBC 6 Music session)

Buy Puzzles Like You from Amazon

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Stuart A Staples @ Bush Hall

Stuart Staples doesn’t have his own website. He doesn’t even have a myspace page. I tried, even using that ‘A’ middle initial that he’s insisting on using for his solo releases. But nothing. It’s not really a big problem, it just makes it harder to me to check out his new material, as I hurriedly do some ‘research’ before the gig on Monday at Bush Hall.

The Tindersticks lead singer is playing a few low key shows around Europe to promote his second solo album Leaving Songs, and I’m there along with the ‘Sticks / Staples faithful for the gig at Bush Hall, the Edwardian music hall that’s always a fine setting for live music. I missed his first solo record completely, so after failing earlier, I’m going to have to go on the strength of what I hear tonight, for the first time.

Thankfully, it’s all pretty impressive. Stuart Staples has one of music’s most unique voices. He joins the ranks of men who are not conventionally great singers, but do have a great voice, something iconic. So it’s hard not to think of Tindersticks, as he plays through the set, particularly on the slower, more mournful numbers. But there’s also something a bit different. The music seems to be a bit more, well, American. Maybe it’s something to do with the Townes Van Zandt song he covers. Or maybe the one that reminds me of Calexico. Or maybe it’s just the freewheelin’ Americana feel of the more rock ’n’ roll numbers. You wouldn’t get Tindersticks doing that, surely. Later I find that his new album has been recorded in Nashville with Mark Nevers (of Lambchop fame), so maybe that also explains something.

The band are tight, with fine stand-up electric bass action, some sweet piano and a lot of unusual herky-jerky moves from the drummer. Stuart is quietly charismatic, saying little and concentrating on the music. He’s clearly enjoying himself though. All in then, a great gig, which makes me eager to hunt down more of Stuart’s records. I’ve done a quick search, which has so far yielded the following. Now looking forward to hearing the album...

Download: Stuart A. Staples – That Leaving Feeling
Download: Stuart A. Staples – Dance With an Old Man (live acoustic on Belgian radio)

Buy Leaving Songs at Amazon

Roddy Frame @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

Last week I read a piece (can’t remember where) on Paul Simon’s Bloomsbury Theatre show, where the journalist quipped that the only people in the audience with hair were women. Well, it was a bit like that down Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Friday night as the capital’s not-as-young-as-they-were fans turned out to see ex-Aztec Camera mainman Roddy Frame do a solo acoustic show. And if the thinning locks weren’t enough to prove the 'older' point, further evidence was the complete absence of that other modern gig staple – rows of upraised camera phones, all ready to take blurry photos of their owners’ heroes.

Roddy Frame, on the other hand is looking in better shape than most of his fans. He's still slender of frame, and (from where I was anyway) smooth of skin, and he’s even proving he’s still got some hair by growing it longer, but unfortunately ending up with a rather dodgy hairstyle. If he was a lot more famous, the gossip mags would have a field day.

But thankfully his looks aren’t really on the agenda tonight as he cranks out the favourites, old and new. The gig is ostensibly to promote his new album Western Skies, but in the end, only four tracks from that record (out of 22 in total) are given an airing. Not that the crowd seems to mind. Towards the end of the main set, he plays song after song from the Aztec Camera back catalogue. I'm not sure if this was planned or if he was just responding to the increasingly enraptured audience, singing along heartily. Whatever the case, it was quite brilliant, even if I felt a bit like a slightly awkward guest at someone else’s party.

You see, I wasn’t really around for these great hits. I’m no spring chicken either, but when their classic High Land Hard Rain was released in 1983, I was a wee kid at primary school, probably just coming to realise who Boy George was. Sure, I heard the classic 'Camera hits like Somewhere in My Heart, and the less classic like Good Morning Britain, but I never really gave them much listening time. I got into Roddy Frame, as er, Roddy Frame, and specifically on his Surf album from 2002.

Surf is one of these albums that given a little time, grows on you like a rash, and you'll soon(well I did) come to realise that it’s a masterclass in the one-man-and-his-acoustic guitar genre. Roddy may be unaccompanied, but the melodies still soar as they always did, and the tunes work their way into your subconscious where they stay stubbornly, until you realise that they are all guitar pop classics.

Thankfully, there are a good few of these played at the gig, as well as a few from his first solo album The North Star. It’s all great. His guitar playing is top-notch, and on occasions mesmerising. The aforementioned melodies soar to the roof of the Empire. And he has a nice line in between-song banter, leaving me sort of wishing he didn’t seem to be in such a rush to play quite as many songs. The 'vegetarian drummer story' and the 'Glasweigans with swords' stories were particularly amusing, though there just isn’t the time to go into them just now.

The new album is pretty fine too, and like Surf, is a bit of a grower. And the title track stands out as a pretty glorious thing. He first did it as a sorta ambient dance track with Rob da Bank side project Lazyboy, back in 2004. The version on the album is stripped back and slightly jazzy. The gig version is even more stripped down, with a bluesy harmonica, and it's quite sublime. On this kind of form he could have played all night. And then the fans would have had a good few irate babysitters. For me, there’s the warm glow of experiencing one of Scotland’s finest songwriters in action, and the amusing comfort, that after going to see the likes of Be Your Own Pet, I’m not really that old!

Discover Roddy Frame...

From Western Skies (buy it from Amazon)

Download: Roddy Frame - Worlds in Worlds
Download: Roddy Frame - Tell the Truth

I posted Western Skies on Monday

From Surf (buy it from Amazon)

Donwload: Roddy Frame - Surf
Download: Roddy Frame - For What it Was

From The North Star (buy it from Amazon)

Download: Roddy Frame - Bigger Brighter Better
Download: Roddy Frame - Hymn to Grace

I have a couple more photos on Flickr.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The best of May

Late as usual, but here goes with my picks for May…

Album of the Month

It just has to be, despite the very strong competition this month. I’ve been waiting for a long time. It seems the mp3s have been going around for even longer. But now it’s physically here! It’s the new Hot Chip album of course. In full effect! It’s an absolute beauty, and a clear runner for album of the year. Here’s one of its lesser-celebrated tunes. [buy The Warning]

Download: Hot Chip – Look After Me

Songs of the month

Again, in no particular order, here are five tunes that impressed and stayed with me in May.

Roddy Frame – Western Skies
Gorgeous return of the Scottish singer-songwriter and former Aztec Camera mainman. More on him tomorrow. [buy Western Skies]

Boards of Canada – Dayvan Cowboy
Boards are back with a new EP, featuring this amazing track off their Campfire Headphase album. Fuzzy electronics, guitars, and a beautiful melody throughout. This is the kind of stuff that makes them great. [buy Trans Canada Highway]

Celebration – Diamonds
Like I said, a dark beautiful funeral waltz, that has lingered long, hauntingly in my mind. [buy Celebration]

M. Craft – You are the Music
Fine funky folk from the UK-based Aussie Martin Craft. I have been on about him before, y’know. [buy Silver and Fire]

Tilly and the Wall – Lost Girls
I just had to have something from their wonderful new album. But what to choose? It could have been any of them really, but this’ll do. [buy Bottoms of Barrels]

Friday, June 02, 2006

A different message

Just a quick one today. Last year blogland went a bit mad for Nina Gordon’s cover of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. In a similar vein, here’s wandering minstrel Willy Mason, with his take on Grandmaster Flash’s The Message (from a recent KCRW session). Somehow it works rather nicely.

Download: Willy Mason – The Message

Oh, and I may as well post the Nina Gordon track again.

Download: Nina Gordon – Straight Outta Compton

In a similar vein, Some Velvet Blog has an acoustic cover of Fight For Your Right To Party.

Photo of Willy taken from his very own Flickr photos.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Disco Pogo for Punks in Pumps - Vol. 4

It's time again. This week Volume 4...

March 2003 saw Jockey Slut hitching a ride on Royksopp’s Melody AM tour (it lasted more than a year, y’know), weighing up dance music’s debt to The Clash (they did reggae, hip-hop and punk-funk, y’know), comparing Tricky to the Sugababes (they’re different, y’know), introducing us to some of the bods from Memphis Industries (in their pre-all-conquering Go! Team and Pipettes days), making Manitoba (he had to change his name to Caribou y’know) album of the month for Up In Flames, and sitting in the S&M CafĂ© with Mr C (he has well dodgy hair, y’know) of The Shamen, The End, and er, Mr C fame.

Off the CD, my picks include: nice fuzz from the aforementioned Manitoba, epic tech-house from Mr C, woozy weirdness from Joy Zipper, old-skool dinner party tomfoolery from DJ Format, glitterball techno from Swag and Royksopp’s magisterial re-working of their own Poor Leno (one of these remix-better-than-original moments). Check them.

Download: Manitoba - Hendrix With KO
Download: Joy Zipper - Alzheimers
Download: DJ Format - Ill Culinary Behaviour
Download: Dexter - I Don't Care
Download: Swag - Minidisco 2
Download: Mr C - The Birds and the Bees
Download: Royksopp - Poor Leno (Royksopp's Istanbul Forever Remix)

Finally – has anyone out there got a copy of Dummy magazine yet? I’ve not been able to track one down. Any good?