Saturday, October 28, 2006
A couple of weeks ago I didn't go to see Jamie T at the Barfly. But I did record the gig off Xfm later the same night (another one of John Kennedy's XPosure Live shows). After seeing Jamie doing his solo acoustic thing earlier this year, I was keen to see what he'd be like with a backing band. Good though the solo show was, I felt that his songs could have done with being a bit more fleshed out. So I was surprised to see that Time Out had said that his band makes him sound a bit pub rock. A bit unfair, I thought.
Well, you can see what you think. The tracks are posted below. I can kinda see where TO are coming from. There's a quite lot of guitar in some of the tracks, and if there's one thing we really don't need, it's another spiky guitar band. The reason we love Jamie is because he sounds nothing like them. But hey, the lad's pretty good anyway. These tracks give me a decent impression of his live band show, and I'd still love to see it. Maybe sometime soon.
Download: Jamie T - Calm Down Dearest (live)
Download: Jamie T - NWA (Not Without Apology) (live)
Download: Jamie T - Ike & Tina (live)
Download: Jamie T - Pacemaker (live)
Download: Jamie T - So Lonely Was The Ballad (live)
Download: Jamie T - Northern Line (live)
Download: Jamie T - If You Got The Money (live)
Download: Jamie T - Salvador (live)
Download: Jamie T - Sheila (live)
NB These are posted on YSI, since my usual file storage (EZArchive) seems to have given up the ghost. If the file has expired or exceeded its download limit, let me know and I'll re-post.
Update: I've re-uploaded these on a more permanent host - so they should be around a while longer
The pic above isn't from the Barfly gig. I couldn't find any suitable ones so I used my photo of him at Summer Sundae instead.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
My last post on Danielson got quite a good response, so I thought I'd post the trailer for the movie. This is a Daily Growl first - the first time I've done one of these embedded YouTube thingys (it's been more complicated than I thought it would). Here it is.
And while I'm at it here's another track. I've been advised by a few people now to check out Fetch the Compass Kids. So I used some of my eMusic downloads to get it. It's certainly less accessible than Ships, and a lot more shrill, but there are still many pleasures to be had. Particularly if you give it some time. Here's one of them.
Download: The Danielson Familie - Sing to the Singer
Buy Fetch the Compass Kids
Also - a note to the person who asked about tickets for the Danielson movie screening (and anyone else who's interested) - there's no advance tickets. Just turn up on the night. There will be a suggested donation.
Friday, October 20, 2006
First thing is that The Early Years seem to have got a bass player. Last time I saw them, they were sans bass, which at the time didn't seem to be a bad thing, but the difference is noticible. It does sound better. But maybe that's also to do with something else that's changed - the venue and the sound system. I always thought that the band would sound better at Cargo than Madame Jo Jo's and I wasn't wrong. They sound pretty amazing tonight. And as well as their normal wonderfully noisy fayre, they play Brown Hearts off their new self-titled debut album, which is surely an indie anthem in a fairer word. It prefectly models the quiet/loud dynamic, and is post rock with better tunes. The other major thing that's changed for me is that since my last review, I have started to listen to some Krautrock. Neu! seemed like a good place to start, and goodness me, what a place! And you know what? After all that wondering I did before - I can now totally see where TEY are coming from. You just need to hear the start of Hallogallo to realise that. It's probably made me appreciate The Early Years even more.
What's changed with iLiKETRAiNS is that they're the headline band, and therefore have more time to play more of their moody atmospheric rock, full of swirling guitars and lyrics addressing arcane subjects such as Captain Scott's Antarctic expeditions, former chess champion Bobby Fischer and cutbacks to the British Rail network in the 1960s. So it seems that vintage British Rail jackets they wear are not just a reference to their name, but a dedication to certain specialist interests in the band. This is also augmented tonight by projections from an old-skool slide projector and reel-to-reel projector providing introductions to each song, and slides or film clips in jerky sepia to accompany the music, all handled by the trumpeter in between loud blasts of his instrument. Sometimes he plays and projects at the same time. There's a cracking encore where the band invite members of the support band and other friends onto the stage to act as a kind of male voice choir to recreate the spooky backing vocals to The Beeching Report. It all works rather well.
The other big thing to change for iLiKETRAiNS is unrelated to tonight's gig, but they have signed a deal with Beggars Banquet, so hopefully next year, their dark brooding charms will be more widely available. Who knows, the nation's indie kids could even acquire a liitle more specialist knowledge. Which may help with Trivial Pursuit.
Both The Early Years and iLiKETRAiNS are bands with a carefully constructed sound, lots of layered guitar noise, and not a lot of variation in their style. Both will hopefully go on to greater things, but wide mainstream appeal will surely elude them. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. And despite what I predicted in my previous review, TEY didn't quite blow iLiKETRAiNS off the stage at this gig. But they definitely edged it.
It's high time I got back onto the Disco Pogo series. Are we at volume 10 already? Yep - the one from the September 2003 edition of Jockey Slut. This time my picks of the CD are: Cody ChesnuTT's ace bluesy hip-hop, Jon Kennedy's drum-tastic The Lodger, the haunting electronica of Soulsavers, the afro-tinged beats and skewed jazz of Modeler, the punky techno of Legowelt, and my favourite of the bunch, Brooks' reworking of Willis' Paper and Stone, passing the gritty soul of the original thorough a electonic filter to magnificent effect.
In the magazine the Chemical Brothers introduced their greatest hits, we were introduced to Cody ChesnuTT, Chris Clark (back now with a new album), The Psychonauts, and had a Q&A with the national treasure that is Norman Jay (MBE of course). Single of the month came from techno pioneers LFO and album of the month came from Richard X, a man who was quite the thing back then, but seems surprisingly quiet these days. Or maybe I'm just missing something.
In related news, I finally managed to track down a copy of Dummy magazine, which is being apparently run by some of the same people who did Jockey Slut. And it's really quite good. I'm going to do a post on it soon, so hang on there. In the meantime, check out these beauties.
Download: Cody ChesnuTT - Serve This Royalty
Download: Jon Kennedy - The Loafer
Download: The Soulsavers - Runblefish
Download: Willis - Paper & Stone (Brooks' Paper Cuts Remix)
Download: Modeler - Island Life
Download: Legowelt - Sturmvogel
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Danielson is coming to London! Not only is there a rare appearance in the capital from the elusive New Jersey family/band (at the Luminaire on 3 December - with anti-folker Jeffrey Lewis), but there's a documentary about them being screened not long before the gig. Actually, I have a personal interest in the showing of the film - Danielson: A Family Movie - because my friend Ping* is putting it on. It's happening at 8pm on the evening of 26 November, at Shoreditch Church in er, Shoreditch (the big white one at the junction of Old Street, Kingsland Road and Hackney Road - map here).
There'll no doubt be more about the film on this blog in the next few weeks until the film is shown, but for now here's a short blurb about it. I've not seen it but Ping* assures me it's very good and I trust her judgement.
The movie was produced between 2002 and 2006. The Shoreditch screening is only the second time it has been shown in London (and the third time in the UK). According to the press release, the film is “a documentary about unbridled creativity vs. accessibility, Christian faith vs. popular culture, underground music vs. survival, and family vs. individuality. The film follows Daniel Smith, an eccentric musician and visual artist, as he leads his four siblings and best friend to indie-rock stardom.” OK, maybe stardom’s putting too fine a point on it, but certainly some kind of underground cult following.
According to director JL Aronson, he approached main Danielson man Daniel Smith in May 2001 because he was “fascinated with the contradictions of an earnest group of country kids wearing their faith on their sleeves and playing to a room full of cynical, atheistic city-dwellers.” What is it that makes a band who are both Christian and a bit weird accepted by secular indie music fans when they have been poorly received by many in the church?
The film also features Sufjan Stevens, a friend of Daniel Smith, who Aronson initially intended to be “my appointed stand-in as an outsider learning more about this eccentric family”, but who goes on to much greater fame. Probably more than the Danielson Family would want for themselves.
Anyway, I’d probably better not say too much more about this as I’m cribbing all this from the press release and director’s statement to make it sound like I know something about it. Which I don’t, apart from praise from friends who have seen it. I can’t wait to see it though. Roll on 26 November!
Since we're on the subject of Danielson, here are a couple of tracks from their latest album Ships. It's the only Danielson album I have, and it's one that I've recently returned to. But I'm finding that I'm loving it more with each play.
Download: Danielson - Two Sitting Ducks
Download: Danielson - Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up
Buy Ships from Amazon.
Monday, October 16, 2006
The weather in London's been so temperate lately that I've not really though of it as being autumn. None of that classic seasonal morning chill in the air yet. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me to look out of my window on Saturday and see the tree outside was well on the way to losing its leaves. My first real sign of autumn. Then it got me thinking. Autumn songs. Here are some songs for autumn. Or at least songs with autumn in the title. A lazy post maybe, but the tunes are good at least.
Download: Coldcut - Autumn Leaves (Irresistable Force Remix)
Download: Lambchop - Autumn's Vicar
Download: Yo La Tengo - Autumn Sweater
Download: Devendra Banhart - Autumn's Child
Download: Roddy Frame - Autumn Flower
Download: The Flaming Lips - My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Collaborations - eh? Sometimes they're great. Sometimes (like for loads of hip-hop albums) they are just a futile exercise in sprinkling stardust over mediocre songs. However in the case of the new M. Ward album, it works a treat.
He's got some guests in on his latest album Post War. There are a whole heap of them, most I've never heard of, but of those I have, Neko Case, Jim 'My Morning Jacket' James and Howe Gelb are there to lend a hand with instruments and stuff. Not that M. really needs them, but they've contributed to what seems to me like an unusually celebratory album for the man called Ward.
Not that I'm massively familiar with the back catalogue, but I do have the last couple of albums. And when I caught him live a couple of years ago, it was a lovely, if melencholy experience, as we we regaled with his downbeat (actually there weren't any beats, it was solo acoustic), and slightly spooky music. Post War however, finds him almost rocking out. Sure, there are plenty of past occasions when he's upped the tempo a bit, but here he seems to have a new lease of life. In a funny kind of way it reminds me of the CD on the Johnny Cash Unearthed box set where he's backed by the Heartbreakers. The American series is full of quiet and beautiful songs, but you get the impression that Johnny, Tom Petty and the boys are just having enormous fun changing the pace to rock 'n' roll. It seems a bit the same with M. Ward on Post War. I've posted the best examples of the rockin' tunes, but the melancholy M. Ward is still there as good as, and maybe better than ever, with the likes of the sublime title track and Eyes on the Prize. If you've ever wanted to check out M. Ward, this is album definitely the place to start.
Download: M. Ward - Right in the Head
Download: M. Ward - Magic Trick
Buy Post War at Amazon
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This is another one that should have gone up ages ago. I've had a copy of The Early Years' self-titled debut album for over a month now, and am just getting round to posting on it now. Shame on me. Then again maybe it's not such a bad thing. You see, the more I listen to this album, the more I like it. It's not that it's particuarly 'difficult' and needs repeated plays to appreciate all of its complexities. Far from it. There are strong melodies, some great bits of guitar noise, and heck, at times it even strays close to that particular strand of melodic indie rock that's so popular these days. But it's never bland. The songs are too good for that.
I guess there are two main influences - one I can see, one I can't. The one that I do get is the obvious homage to early 90s indie, particularly the recently-repopularised 'shoegazing' bands. Sorry guys if that sounds cliched, but I can definitely hear echoes of the likes of Ride et al in there. Lovely, measured, chiming guitars on the slow songs. Magnificent layered guitar noise on the louder ones. But I can also detect a faint whiff of the likes of the Stone Roses too. So far, so good. And for many music fans of my age, so nostalgic.
The other one is Krautrock. Now, I'm at a bit of a loss here, because I've never really heard much of this kind of music. The likes of Can and Neu! have always been somewhere out there in the realms of legendary bands that I know I should check out, but never really get round to. So all these people who talk up the Krautrock connection, I bow to your superior judgement. And of course to the band themselves who acknowledge the influence explicitly. Maybe the (appropriately-titled) song Musik Der Fruhen Jahre is the closet I'm getting at the moment to that elusive genre.
Anyway, the album is totally great, and well worth your money. It seems to have slipped out quietly, without much fanfare or even critical trumpting by the press. Or maybe I've just missed it. I hope so, becuase The Early Years deserves as wide an audience as possible. After seeing them live a few weeks ago, I was a little surprised at how quiet some of the recorded tunes were in comparison to the wonderful effects pedal-laden noise they kick up live. But that's no bad thing. A fine album, and an equally fine, but different, live show. A band with more than one trick.
You can catch them supporting iLiKETRAiNS on a short UK tour at the moment. They're in London at Cargo next Tuesday. iLiKETRAiNS are good, but if The Early Years are on form, they might blow just the headliners off stage.
According to this interview, Song for Elizabeth is the band's favourite, so here it is, with The Simple Solution.
Download: The Early Years - Song for Elizabeth
Download: The Early Years - The Simple Solution
Buy The Early Years
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Looks like I came in 17th in the Digital Music Award for music blogs. I guess that’s not too bad. Not as big as the Streets or Madonna, but at least I can say I’m bigger than Lemar. More importantly, well done to my more illustrious British blogging peers – headphonesex, Nothing but Green Lights and Indie mp3, who are all bigger than Madonna.
Have you been to music like dirt for his amazing Alright, Steal post on all the tracks sampled by Lily Allen on Alright, Still? If not, what are you doing? Get over there right away! It’s a very fine compilation that he’s giving away.
After the sad demise of the Blue Room radio show, Rob da Bank is back on Sunday nights (well Monday mornings really) with a new show. Heard it for the first time this week. It’s pretty good. Much like the Blue Room, except without any pressure to be Balearic (whatever that is). Listen to it here.
And a week after returning from Sicily, and I’m still missing the Sicilian sun (that's some of it in the photo above). Especially when I’m looking out of the office window and seeing a storm of Biblical proportions appear on the horizon. Well, at least it’s not cold yet. I’ve got a few photos of sunnier times there on my Flickr photostream. And being where it was, mention of the holiday is a perfect opportunity to post some music from the Godfather.
Download: Nino Rota – The Godfather Waltz
Download: Nino Rota – Love Theme
First Beirut, now A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Well, it really should be the other way round. AHAAH actually have two albums already - the eponymous debut from 2004 and last year's Darkness at Noon. Then earlier this year, the blogosphere went mad for Beruit, who does a very similar line in Eastern European folky music, full of meandering accordian, mournful trumpet and weeping violins. I say that without a very firm grasp on the full output of Jeremy Barnes, the man who calls himself A Hawk and a Hacksaw. The best I've really got to go on are a couple of mp3s that have been lying in my inbox for a while now. But I have listened to them. And yes, I like them. And yes, they do sound a bit like Beirut. But maybe that's not really surprising, since Barnes and Heather Trost from AHAAH are also part of Beirut with Zach Condon. Oh, surely the world of US-based indie Balkan gyspy music is a small one.
Here are the tracks. They're from the new AHAAH album, The Way the Wind Blows, which is out now. It could be well worth checking out.
Download: A Hawk and a Hacksaw - In the River
Download: A Hawk and a Hacksaw - God Bless the Ottoman Empire
Buy The Way the Wind Blows
Speaking of Beirut, Gulag Orkestar is getting its official UK release on 4AD on 6 November. It's going to be accompanied by an EP called Lon Gisland. I found this out because Daily Growl correspondent reverend war character picked up a promo copy of Gulag and the EP in one of his many forages in the bargain basements of London record shops. For a quid too. There are four tracks on it - three new, one a different version of Scenic World off the album. STG has already posted on Elephant Gun, which is the best track. So I'll give you Carousels. It's another fine example of Beirut's lovely take on East European folk-pop. Good to see he's got more good stuff up his sleeve. Even if it's not new tricks, then at least it shows he can keep up the high quality of what he does already.
Download: Beirut - Carousels
Buy Gulag Orkestar
And to top it all off nicely, Beirut and AHAAH are both supporting Calexico on their forthcoming UK tour (5 November in London). I'll be getting to the Roundhouse early! You can also see Beirut headlining at the Luminaire on 12 November.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Another late gig review, but hopefully this one’ll be worth it, as there are live audios below. As I previously hinted, I went to the last Xfm Xposure Live gig at the Barfly with Neil music like dirt. It was a good gig. It didn’t start out too well though, with a kind of what-was-that-all-about set from someone called Oxen of the Sun. However things got better when Jeremy Warmsley took to the stage.
It was only just over a week since I last saw JW at the End of the Road festival. This time he was sans band, doing a solo acoustic slot. The good thing about this was that stripped of the band’s extra bits, the songs still stand up well. His short set, although very good, was a bit too short really. Crafty dog – leaving us wanting more like that. Well, thankfully his album is out today and I’ve just got it. Oh, and since the last time I saw him he also had a haircut. If there was an indie Heat magazine, that may have made it in.
I was looking forward to The Aliens even more. I was officially one of the biggest Beta Band fans around (I was at the gig with my vintage Patty Patty Sound t-shirt). I was gutted when they split up. So what is almost a re-incarnation of the Beta Band is bound to be appealing. At the core of the Aliens are former Beta Band-ers Robin Jones (who plays drums)and John Maclean (on keyboards and synths), as well as Gordon Anderson, aka Lone Pigeon, aka brother of King Creosote, and founder member of the Beta Band before dropping out in the early days. He's on vocals and guitar.
And guess what? The sound like the Beta Band. At least a bit. It's funny, because on their debut EP Alienoid Starmonica, they managed to be both more experimental than the average BB song (Hey Leanne features a country song and church organ in the middle of electronic glitchery) and more poppy (Robotman with it's four word lyric and joyous Beta Band meets Primal Scream choruses).
Live, the first few songs surprise again - it's all psychadelic rock, with added fun and silly spacey clothes. Then there's the mighty Robotman, stretched out, slowed down and with massive grooves. And of course, new single Happy, which maxes out the pop factor even more. The final number (called Rocks, I think) sees the return of Robotman, mixed up with half-covers of Higher Than the Sun and Helter Skelter. It's basically an extended jam, but an immensely enjoyable one. With Anderson going mad on the mic and throwing himself round the tiny stage. The performance is a bit rough round the edges, but that's OK. The songs are good enough and there's plenty to show that The Aliens will be a great live band. Maybe even as good as the Beta Band. And I for one would be very happy with that.
The gig was broadcast on Xfm later the same evening. I managed to record some tracks which are below. There are a few wierd digital glitches in some tracks, but hopefully not enough to spoil your listening pleasure.
Download: Jeremy Warmsley - Dirty Blue Jeans (live)
Download: Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe in the Way You Move (live)
Download: Jeremy Warmsley - I Knew That Her Face Was a Lie (live)
Download: Jeremy Warmsley - I Promise (live)
Buy The Art of Fiction
Download: The Aliens - Setting Sun (live)
Download: The Aliens - Only Waiting (live)
Download: The Aliens - Robotman (live)
Download: The Aliens - Happy (live)
Download: The Aliens - Rocks (live)
Buy Alienoid Starmonica EP
I've got a few photos of the gig on my Flickr photostream. So has music like dirt.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Album of the Month
CSS - Cansei de Ser Sexy
I assidiously ignored all the initial bloghype around this band, but last month I eventually succumbed to their cheeky electro-popping charms. It really is a great album. In particular, this track's joyous post-punk meets R 'n' B is the highlight. And despite the saucy title, it's really just about being obsessed with music. Which is appropriate for me then.
Download: CSS - Music is My Hot Hot Sex
Buy Cansei de Ser Sexy
Songs of the month
1. I'm From Barcelona - We're From Barcelona
So I've also succumbed to the happy silliness of the 29-strong group of Swedes. I think seeing them live before hearing their record made me more favourably disposed to them than their often-too-twee music deserves. However, this is still a great tune, live or not. Altogether now, na-na-na na-na-na na.....
Buy Let Me Introduce My Friends
2. Jeremy Warmsley - I Believe in the Way You Move
You may well have heard me going on about Jeremy Warmsley before, but this'll certainly not be my last post on the young man in braces. This is his latest single, which I've had going round in my head for weeks, and promises great things for his new album. Emmy the Great sings on it too!
Pre-order The Art of Fiction - out next week.
3. The Aliens - Happy Song
More happy stuff. Heck, you'd think I'd spend the month in some sort of giddy haze. But again, this is pretty irresistable stuff from former Beta Band-ers The Aliens. Maybe a song for particular moods, but the insane catchiness of it makes it stick in your brain and refuse to leave. In a good way. Not as good as the ever more lyrically minimal Robotman, but then there is a chunk of Robotman in this very song. Or is it the other way round?
Buy the Happy Song 7" or The Alienod Starmonica EP
4. Dani Siciliano - Why Can't I Make You High
She's back! After 2004's fine Dani Siciliano Likes... this is the single off her intriugingly-titled new album Slappers. It's a kinda jazzy electro knees-up, with backing vox support from teen rockabilly sensations Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. No doubt there'll be more about both them and Dani on The Daily Growl soon.
5. The Blood Arm - Suspicious Character
I was wrong in my last Blood Arm post. This is the song that Nathanael Fregoso sang from inside the ladies' toilets in The Macbeth. Appropriate? I'll leave that for you to decide. Anyway, it's got another one of these ridiculously catchy choruses, and you'll have to watch you don't sing it too loud outside the safety of your own home. It may be true for Nathanael, but I'm not sure about me. Or you.
Pre-order the new album Lie Lover Lie - out on 16 October
This is another one of these posts which should have gone up way earlier, but as before, I was thwarted by internet problems and going on holiday. Now that I'm back I can try to put things right. So apologies to reverend war character for putting up his review of the My Morning Jacket gig at the Astoria almost two weeks after it happened. It's still worth posting though. Here it is.
My Morning Jacket at the Astoria 22 September 2006
I first saw My Morning Jacket at ‘The Metro’, a small basement club with a capacity of 175 on Oxford Street in London . Towards the end of the show the electricity generator broke down. Jim James calmly took his acoustic guitar, stepped into the crowd and played a cover version of ‘Suspicious Minds’. He held the crowd spellbound and you knew this band weren’t going to be playing small basement bars much longer.
Fast forward a few years to the Astoria with a sold out capacity of 1600, just around the corner from the Metro. There have been a couple of line up changes since The Metro gig but MMJ are still about Jim James. They pretend they are not - no central mike, no spotlights - but he holds the stage and directs the band. Part muppet, part rock god, part southern gentleman, Jim James is MMJ. He dominates the stage and again holds the crowd spellbound. When he says, ‘You touched my heart’ we believe him; when he puts his foot on the monitor and points his Flying V at us, we believe him; when he unleashes another furious solo we believe him. MMJ are a band who fetishise the guitar - the riff is all, the groove is king.
The first twenty minutes of the show are perfect - celebratory, transcendent, shock and awe rock and roll. The band are playing the final night of a European tour - relaxed, tight and taut. Mid set the audience drift off (is 2 hours too long for a rock and roll show?) only to be wrenched back into MMJ’s world by the sound of Jim Jones’s keeningly beautiful (yes, beautiful) voice and the sight of a band whose jamming can make Crazy Horse look like a Mildly Eccentric Pony.
And then it’s over. They flew home. Slint, Will Oldham and My Morning Jacket? Louisville, Kentucky must be some town
Download: My Morning Jacket - Off the Record
Download: My Morning Jacket - What a Wonderful Man
btw, the reverend doesn't take pics at gigs, so the above photo is nicked from hoschiewan's flickr photostream. Hope that's OK mate.