Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The end of this road

Hey folks. This is the last ever post on thedailygrowl.blogspot.com

If you care anything about this blog, don't worry. All the action is continuing over on the all-new Daily Growl site, so point yer browsers at www.thedailygrowl.co.uk and have a look.

It's still a work in progress, because unlike Blogger, the Wordpress interface requires a bit of technical knowledge, particularly if you're self-hosting. But I'm assured by people more clever than I am that this is a good move, and as I require the necessary knowledge, the look of the site will no doubt improve. The main plus point for me at the moment is that it will provide some protection from the DMCA gangsters who kept raiding my Blogger pages and deleting posts without any warning. Let's see how it goes.

If you've got any links to this here site, could you take a minute to update them? This message (and blog) will be eventually replaced by a redirect message, so it would ease the linkage process a little.

So it's the end of an era of sorts, but not really. The Daily Growl continues, just in a different location. See you on the other site.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The evil empire strikes again

Yes, it's happened again. In the past week, I've had two more DMCA-related deletions from this blog. I wouldn't even mind if it was a fair cop, but the posts that were targeted make no sense at all. One of these was on Glasvegas from last year using demo mp3s that were freely available on the band's myspace at the time, and before they signed with Columbia. Given other bloggers' experience, this retrospective targeting was only to be expected. The other was a post featuring tracks from Esser and Calexico, BOTH of which were sent to me by PRs with the express purpose of posting.

I'm getting fed up of this, and before any posts that I really value get deleted, I'm going to suspend activity here until I work out how to migrate The Daily Growl to a self-hosted blog, which should give me some breathing space. I'm no technical whizz, but I've got to learn. So bear with me. Normal service should hopefully be restored before too long...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lambchop @ The Union Chapel, 3 November 2008

I was having a chat with a friend recently about the value of consistency in music. Is consistency a good thing and when does it just get boring? How much are we comforted by a familiar sound and how much do we want our favourite artists to try something new? Answers in the comments if you may, but the aforementioned conversation was prompted by the new Lambchop album OH (Ohio), even though at that point I hadn’t heard it. However I sort of knew what to expect. It's now their third album since their 2002 masterwork Is a Woman, and Kurt Wagner and co. seem to have settled into their own gentle groove. The previous two albums haven’t moved me as much as their previous works – Aw C’mon / No You C’mon too sprawling to engage properly and Damaged slipping past rather anonymously. So I thought I knew what to expect from a new album. Consistency at least.

On stage at the Union Chapel tonight there’s more consistency. You know what you’re getting with Lambchop. Kurt Wagner as the genial, yet slightly retiring host, gracious, understated, with occasional bursts of passion. The band behind him making far less noise than you’d expect six people to make, but doing it very skilfully and beautifully. Then, just when you expect it, Kurt turns and says “Mr Tony Crow on piano” and the pianist launches into one of his terrible jokes. But he’s nothing if not self-aware. This is all part of a Lambchop show, and we get all of this tonight.

One thing that’s different is the set list. The new album is played in its entirety, in order, save an interlude towards the end, started by a storming cover of Once in a Lifetime, the only time in the whole set where Wagner rises from his chair, followed by a few songs cherry-picked from their back catalogue. They encore with I Believe in You, Ohio’s final track. This is not a night for the casual Lambchop observer, though as ever, the rendition of Up With People should keep most people happy. The new album does sound familiar and there is that aforementioned consistency. But it sounds warmer, more soulful, without employing the strings of the past, and the band are on top form. So tonight, consistency, familiarity and comfort are definitely good things, and in the beautiful sacred space that is the Union Chapel, with its flickering candles and reverent crowd, it even becomes quite magical.

mp3: Lambchop – All Flowers and Mariachi
mp3: Lambchop – Slipped Dissolved and Loosed

Lambchop myspace / website.

Buy OH (Ohio) from Rough Trade (with a bonus CD!) or download from emusic.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fireworks Night - A Mirror, A Ghost

It's the 5th of November, the night when people all over Britain celebrate the gruesome death of some Catholics in 1605. Or just go and build a bonfire and watch some fireworks going off. It's also a good day to release a new album. Especially if your band's name is Fireworks Night.

Fireworks Night have been round these parts before, after they released their second long-player As Fools We Are last year. It was a fine album, but didn't get the attention it deserved, a fact which seems to have left main man James Lesslie a little downhearted. A slightly turbulent period in the band's history followed, but thankfully now things are back on track following the recruitment of some new members, including The Mules' Ed Seed, and the recording of six new songs to form the rather splendid A Mirror, A Ghost EP.

I say new, but two of the tracks are re-recordings of older FN songs. But these, combined with the four really new ones comprise what feels like their most substantial work to date. Sure, part of the appeal is in the record's brevity and trim-ness, and even though i prefer the older version of Echo's Swing with its explosive post rock wig-out ending, there's a general meatiness to the songs here, and you feel that there's something fresh to return to each time.

I've listened to the EP several times now and still don't feel that I've got a full grasp on the songs. I mean this in a good way, because each time I return, there's something different to enjoy. Sometimes it's a piece of haunting strings, other times I note someone's got a liking for noisy guitars. I heartily recommend these songs to you and hope you'll find their company as pleasing as I have. They'll warm you like a bonfire for sure. Sometimes they might even be exciting like the fireworks that have been popping away outside my window all evening. But what's guaranteed is that this EP will stick with you for much longer.

mp3: Fireworks Night - The Fire

Fireworks Night myspace / Organ Grinder page

Buy A Mirror, A Ghost from the Organ Grinder shop. Oh, and hurry. There were only 500 made, in a lovely hand-printed cardboard box sleeve (a painstaking process, as this testifes).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Byron Lee 1935 - 2008

It's been a bad year for reggae legends. By my counting, at least three have passed away. Joe Gibbs a few months back, Alton Ellis last month and now Byron Lee.

Most famous for his group The Dragonaires, formed in 1950, Lee was a veteran of Jamaican music and one of its more tireless ambassadors. As well as being a ska pioneer, Byron was also a studio owner, producer (producing a lot of The Maytals' music) record distributor and carnival organiser, actively active in his island's music scene right up to his passing away yesterday. One of the greats. RIP.

mp3: Byron Lee - Hot Reggae
mp3: Byron Lee - Frankenstein

Buy Byron Lee albums from Sounds of the Universe.

Bugged Out

The Daily Growl has love for The Shortwave Set, particularly their ace debut album The Debt Collection. The love was a bit more muted for their second long-player Replica Sun Machine. However, the love remains strong for Glitches 'n' Bugs, one of the best tracks on the latest record. Here, some dodgy-sounding character called Marshmellow Mike adds woozy psychedelia, funky drumming, wobbly bass and barrelling rock 'n' roll piano to take the song to new foot-stomping heights.

mp3: The Shortwave Set - Glitches 'n' Bugs (Marshmellow Mike remix)

The Shortwave Set myspace.

The Glitches 'n' Bugs single is out on 8 December, including various remixes. The 7 inch has a version of Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tilly and the Wall @ ULU, 25 October 2008

Things have changed in the world of Tilly and the Wall. The last time I saw them was back at the first End of the Road festival in September 2006, and I look back to then and the previous months with some nostalgia. Fun times, watching the Omaha quintet all over the place at a time before the the Baby Growl arrived to change our lives forever. Perhaps it was fitting that this was the first time Mrs Growl and I have been at a gig together since our lives were changed.

Then again, things haven’t changed that much. There’s still the dayglo exuberance (surely in parallel universe, most of the band would be children’s TV presenters). There are still the highly infectious tunes. And of course there’s the tap-dancing. The things that have changed are exactly what caused the problems tonight. If had to review this gig in less than 10 words, they would be: GET RID OF THE BASS PLAYER.

There are two extra members in T&TW now – a bass player and a drummer. They’re touring their new album (is it really called ‘O’ just because there’s a circle on the cover?) which is another fine addition to the Tilly canon. But from the start of this gig there’s a problem. The new beefed-up bass sound swamps almost everything else. Now I know that there’s an issue of bad sound mixing, and it does get a bit better as the gig progresses, but generally, the sound of Tilly cranking it up is just not fitting. Their songs are shiny pop nuggets that don’t benefit from The Rock.

Then there’s the vocals. What seems so sweet and harmonious on record is often strained and tuneless as the various singers shout out their parts. Now, I’m not talking about guitarist Derek Pressnall here – he can’t sing for toffee and should never be allowed to do so – it’s the girls that I expect more from. Particularly on a shocking cover of Erasure’s A Little Respect, which could have been so much better. But ultimately, I guess I should just relax a little. I suppose you don’t go to see Tilly and the Wall for a highly competent, slick performance, you go for FUN. And Fun was had. New songs were played. Old songs are played to much cheer. And there are smiles on faces, particularly during The Freest Man, Reckless and cracking new single Beat Control. So all in, a bit of a mixed bag of an evening. Still, I can highly recommend the new album, which comes with all tonight's creases ironed out.

mp3: Tilly and the Wall - Tall Tall Grass
mp3: Tilly and the Wall - Sing Songs Along

Tilly and the Wall myspace / website

Buy O and other T&TW releases from Rough Trade or emusic.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Deerhunter - Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.

It’s been a prolific year from Bradford Cox. He’s released his solo debut album as Atlas Sound, and followed that up with a run of ‘virtual seven inches’ on his blog. And just to prove that he just can’t stop recording, with his ‘proper’ band Deerhunter he’s released not one, but two albums, hitting the streets this week as one big juicy package.

The fact that there are two albums is related to the aforementioned blog. As all fans will now know, over the summer, when posting one of his Atlas Sound virtual sevens, someone accessed a whole album’s worth of songs in an unsecured folder in Cox’s mediafire account. So given that this material was out there anyway, it’s been appended to the planned release of Microcastle. The good thing is that we now have two Deerhunter albums instead of one.

I say a good thing, but this doesn’t mean two amazing albums for the price of one. Somewhere in the collection of 25 songs, there is one great album. If Cox has a weakness, it’s self-editing. It’s fine enough to have tons of material available, but if you’re lazy like me, you’ll object to having to put some work in, weeding out the fine from the not-so-fine. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing bad on either Microcastle or Weird Era Cont. but some of it just drifts innocuously past, as if it can’t really be bothered to grab your attention.

Thankfully, there are plenty of songs which do make you sit up and take notice. Deerhunter are best when cranking up the warm, fuzzy guitars and Cox knows how to craft a good song, and also crucially how to rock out whilst keeping the tunes intact (see the particularly excellent Nothing Ever Happened). When these albums are good, they’re very good – particularly Microcastle – and if Cox is slightly more discerning he’ll write a classic album very soon.

mp3: Deerhunter – Nothing Ever Happened
mp3: Deerhunter – Twilight at Carbon Lake

Deerhunter myspace / blog