‘Tis about that time so let’s launch Festive ‘Spill 2010. Continuing the tradition established by the late, great John Peel, when we sort out our fave tunes of the year to listen to over the festive season.
Quick reminder of how to play The ‘Spill version:
- Each ‘Spiller (or RR lurker) can nominate 3 songs.
- Songs should be new releases from 2010 (or late 2009). If you don’t have any faves from this year, you may pick 3 tunes that you think are fitting for the occasion. Please be clear which pick is which (#3,#2 or #1), as we playlist everyone’s choices countdown stylee, a few days before Christmas.
- Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your e-mail should contain URL links to actual mp3′s (You can use your private folder in Dropbox; Don’t use the RR folder as this will spoil the surprise.). Please leave the files there until you get a confirmation from me that I’ve got them. If you are fearful or inadequate with the technology, just send me a list of picks and I’ll see what the elves can do.
- Nominations are on a first come, first served basis. So vote early. If one of your picks is taken, I will e-mail you back so you can make another one.
- Now that we’ve done this twice before, it is now an official ‘Spill tradition. Please take part if you can.
after the jump a few tracks from 2010 – really wouldn’t bet my life on them being strictly on theme – reasons for arguing/ disagreements and a bit of a tiff maybe.. but a proper full blown argument on vinyl- not really.
just thought a playlist from this year keeps me from repeating myself – do hope you enjoy.
if you fancy some more there is an argue BOX down the side of the sane asylum
that really completes my self indulgence.
Just over a year ago, I had to choose between the RR Northern Social in Leeds, or a gig by The Unthanks at Halifax Parish Church (now Halifax Minster). Whilst I’m glad I decided to go to The Pack Horse for a fine evening of drinking and chat, I did retain a touch of regret that I’d missed a rare chance to hear some modern music in a very different gig environment.
Well, WOO-HOO! I’m going there now in January. Sneaking a second advance pass from DarceysMam in the same month, by the underhand ruse of me and DarceysUncle buying each other a ticket for our respective birthdays before Christmas, I will be spending the evening of Friday 21st January 2011 finally getting to see I Am Kloot.
I just realised that this record is almost 20 years old. Staggering. Was it really twenty years ago that the band I was then an enthusiastic part of released this as a single? Most of us had already been playing in bands for more than ten years by the time of its release. We felt like veterans. Seems funny now.
Quite an uncharacteristic song for us – we normally always went for a more ‘classic’ sound, not so poppy. But our manager was ambitious for us, wanted a hit single – so we attempted to oblige. Our overall goal though was to carry on making records that would still sound good 20 years later. We almost got there. Almost.
I should write a long diatribe about how good this is, but being musically illiterate that is a non-starter, all I want to say is this is Blue Note at its finest provided by tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson.
Accompanying Joe are such BN heavyweights as Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (Trombone), Bobby Hutcherson (Vibes), Cedar Walton (Piano), Ron Carter (Double Bass) & Joe Chambers (Drums).
Recorded in 1966, this is straight ahead groovy jazz, with everyone putting in stellar performances. From ‘A Shade Of Jade’ to ‘Free Wheelin”, there is not a duff track on this album.
Have a listen whilst admiring the fab Reid Miles cover …
I still have an massive soft spot for stuff that looks and sounds like it was on the Chart Show Indie Chart in the early 90s (as you know), so it was more than a pleasant surprise when one of my fave bands came out with this new video. They’re called Ringo Deathstarr, and I defy you all to give me an example of a band with a better name that that.
My latest post-jazz post features a French based, Korean singer whose new album is doing well in the French jazz charts (though it received a lukewarm reception in the Guardian).
It’s de rigueur for post-jazz artists to cover grunge or metal hits, and I think Youn Sun Nah delivers one of the best recent efforts, stripping this song back to its skeleton to focus on the quite decently creepy lyrics, and indulging in some tasteful Purim-esque screaming midway through.
OK, here’s the beginnings of chapter one. I asked Maki to give me his list of instructions for posting music and then I added my thoughts and re-wrote it all, hopefully in a manner that’s foolproof. I’ve tested this and it worked. If this is acceptable we’ll continue and add instructions for posting titles, artists, pictures, videos, youtubes, text, links etc, plus posting links, pics and music into the comments area. For the benefit of potential new users or current ones who’re not clear about Dropbox I thought it would be helpful to start there.
Before I start to try to do a posting for the Spill I find it useful to place all my MP3 music cuts, JPG pictures and pre-written text into a labeled file on my desktop, it makes it easier later on. There’s another advantage to this, you’ll be copying & pasting http code for each cut into the ‘new post’ page at WordPress, it’s handy to also paste it into this folder for reference in case you need to come back to it, WordPress has been known to cause frustration by occasionally not not playing by the rules and it’s handy to have those html codes handy if you need to start over.
Begin by registering with Dropbox, [https://www.dropbox.com/home#:::] thereafter you’ll be asked to log in. You can upload music to Dropbox and anything you upload will be kept in your ‘My Dropbox’ file, next to that you’ll see ‘Public’: to use music on the Spill you need to have it in the Public folder so transfer it from your dropbox into Public. If you’re considering multiple cuts it’s a good idea to keep them in a labeled folder.
Having got this far, now click on one of your titles in Dropbox and you’ll notice a blue downward arrow off to the right, click on this and you’ll see a dropdown menu that has ‘Copy Public Link’ as one of it’s options, click on this and a window will open that contains a line of http code with an option to ‘copy to clipboard’, do so.
Now open WordPress [you may be required to log in] and on the left you’ll see a column that includes ‘Posts’ and below it ‘Add new’, click on that. A window will open that contains a rectangle with ‘Visual’ and ‘HTML’ at the top right corner, choose HTML. Now is the time to decide how you want your post to look, ie the placement of text, pictures and music, for now lets say that the music player goes at the bottom and you’re only having one tune. Type
If you now click on ‘Preview’ [top right] you should see a player icon situated at The Spill which if you click it should play your tune!
If you want to add more tracks:
1. Do not close the player – ignore the bit about closing the code with another square bracket.
2. Place a comma and a space after the first code.
3. From the public folder in Dropbox click your second piece of music and repeat the instructions above re. copying and pasting it into WordPress.
4. Paste it immediately after the comma after the first code, add a comma and a space and repeat ad-nausium ’til you have all the music cuts pasted.
5. When you have added the last html code don’t add a comma, just close it with a square bracket.
6. For 5 cuts it should give you a player that looks like this:
All these commas, spaces and square brackets are crucial, miss any one of them and you’re doomed to failure.
Well I suppose it serves me right for volunteering my services to Blimpy …
I was not alone in being surprised and delighted to learn that The ‘Spill is now offered music to review, but being asked (for once) to put my money mouth where my mouth is gave me a bit of a moment, I can tell you. I hope I carry out my duty to the required standard!
St. Thomas is the new album from The Scottish Enlightenment, a four-piece from Fife. I (unsurprisingly) had never heard of them, but our curator-in-chief Dropped me this bunch of songs with the open-ended invitation of “I remember that you’re an Aereogramme & similar fan … if you want to give [TSE] a ‘Spilling …”
OK, so I was intrigued enough to take the bait, and played the album through a couple of times. Then again the next day. Then burnt it to CD knowing I had five hours to come in the car the following day (it stayed on the whole time). Then on my return home on Thursday night, I even played it again DURING the RR MFF. So before you go any further I reckon you can see I was either (a) taking my responsibilities as reviewer far too seriously, or (b) I like it a lot.
The correct answer is definitely (b). So how do I put that into words well enough to convince some more of you to seek it out? Well, adding a link to at least one song would help, but as I keep saying, that part of posting on WordPress continues to frustrate me. Maybe Blimpy will add something in as an Edit after I post this (done! Blimpy).
As I’m no proper journalist, maybe I can be forgiven the lazy reviewer’s sin of description by comparison? Blimpy hooked me with a mention of Aereogramme (think Mogwai-lite with designs on Snow Patrol or Coldplay crossover success); my email to him, after first listens, promising to post this review said simply “iLiKETRAiNS play Dakota Suite“. During my motorway slog to and back from Birmingham, the names Sigur Rós, Nick Cave, even Stuart Staples also wandered across my thoughts. Pigeonholes suggested themselves: rock, post-rock, slowcore, indie, folk, shoegaze, pastoral … Hang on, PASTORAL? Yeah, I’ll come back to that in a minute. But again and again and again, one word returned to my brain: stately. This album is dignified, serious guitar-based music in which to lose yourself for fifty minutes or so.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not pompous, it’s not unapproachable, and it certainly isn’t brash or arrogant. It’s more like an aural equivalent of Robert Duvall’s Lt.Col. Kilgore in the beach-trashing scene of Apocalypse Now – calm, commanding and demanding respect whilst chaos and destruction abound. That there might just be a hint of madness behind the façade just adds to the mystique, in my opinion. For instance, is the decision to open your first album in around five years with a simple 2min+ instrumental that of a sane band? It’s very GIAA/Mogwai, but hardly attention-grabbing. But The Scottish Enlightenment know what they’re doing, as Gal Gal‘s repetitive guitar motif twists neatly into the one-string riff of Earth Angel – With Sticks In Crypt, and the tone and pace are set. EA-WSIC is one of two songs that have forced others off my Walkman to make room for them, and would be my first choice to insert into the review as an mp3.
Next track Little Sleep gets the DsD thumbs up for two reasons, (i) the understated way the rat-a-tat-tat drum riff doesn’t overwhelm the song, but adds to it, and particularly (ii) the line “All we need’s a little sleep and we’ll be fine”, which I think is going to be my new motto! This is the song that gave me the iLiKETRAiNS comparison. Taxidermy Of Love, on the other hand, is musically as ethereal as anything Sigur Rós produce (is that a harp I hear?), but has to content itself with merely looking at the stars instead of being up there with them because singer David Moyes is no Jónsi Birgisson.
The next two songs, Pascal (listen to the fingers sliding up&down guitar strings – is that a good thing or a bad thing? I never know.) and Necromancer continue the theme, though the latter raises the volume and darkens the mood nicely.
Remember I said both Nick Cave and ‘pastoral’ up above? The First Will Be Last is partly responsible for both of those. If we can add a link to it – hint, hint, Blimpy – I highly recommend a listen to the lyrics, though in truth the music and vocal tone here try to undermine my earlier “stately” argument by feeling almost urgent in pace. List Right returns us to Aereogramme territory. The Soft Place chucks some glockenspiel, trumpet and falsetto backing vocals into the mix, kinda reminding me of HUGE DsD faves, Guillemots’ Redwings & Songs Of Green Pheasant’s Alex Drifting Alone.
Then we have My Bible Is, which is indeed “filled with love and beauty”, forming a suitable climax to an album I’m really glad I was sent. But in a last little perverse and enigmatic twist, it isn’t the last track on the album. Cogito is fifty seconds of piano noodling, heavy on the echo effect. Not one that anyone is going to target their 79p at on iTunes, but does it leave you, er, pondering? Or is it a smartarse reference too far? I’ll plead the Fifth and leave it to others to decide!
So that’s a big thumbs-up from me. Call it post-rock, call it shoegaze, call it whatever you like – iTunes calls it “Ecclesiastical Rock”, ffs; all I ask is that someone tells me I’ve done enough to make at least one more person want to buy it.
The above player has Necromancer, The First Will Be The Last, Little Sleep.
I mentioned here recently that I was having delusions of grandeur, I was thinking of doing a regular reggae post, but not just a regular post, what I was fantasising was something like a radio broadcast plus a continuous slideshow of images relevant to the music and perhaps multiple audio tracks overlapping and me blathering on. Well an extended period of frustration trying to just post this pitiful effort and assisted by Maki knocked the shine off some of that.But, I did spend quite some time investigating GarageBand and of course got sidetracked, instead of learning how to assemble multiple tracks etc I found myself playing silly games, even thinking that somewhere I had hidden musical talents, I composed my masterpiece! Well actually it was opus 1, my first ever effort, but I found it quite intriguing and even thought ‘That’s not bad for a beginner”. So, here it is, I call it Reggae Jam.
The pull of a good story or a tale of the tortured genius, or the insane recluse has always been seductive to music fans. Bon Iver gets dumped by his bird, goes off to a cabin in the woods up a mountain somewhere in the middle of nowhere and writes an album about it – city dwelling music fans go insane. Jeff Mangum records, what I too regard, one of the best albums ever (Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”) and is hardly heard of again – the odd sighting here and there – and not another note recorded. Is he insane? Does he live in a cave with Kevin Shields trying to recreate the sound of angels crying? The myth grows, as does the stature of the music.
I’ve been listening to “Method” by 30 Pounds Of Bone now for weeks, long enough that the facts about Johnny Lamb (it’s a one man band) no longer get in the way of the beautiful collection of songs that make up the album. Still, before I attempt to describe the moving beauty of the album, let’s get the facts out there.
He’s the son of a clergyman, brought up on the remote isle of Unst in the Shetland isles, a childhood obsessed with the sea and the fisheries that surrounded him. He once spent so long in the hospital as a child, he was made to go to school there – leaving with one kidney. He now lives in a van on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, and can most often be found in- or on- the sea. Notoriously prickly and utterly unapproachable – unless armed with copious amounts of whiskey – he’s basically a drunk travelling vagrant – pinned down only for the four days that it took to record “Method” upon which he played all the instruments.
“Method” isn’t so easy to describe easily – it veers from sparse folk, to soft and sad sea shanties, to the occasional layered guitar freak out. There’s the sad accordion of King Creosote, some of the fuzz of Neutral Milk Hotel, amid tales of loss at sea and gallons and gallons of alcohol. Oh yeah, the booze – oh the booze! This album is soaked in it. Drowning in the false hope of the first few shots, the accordion squeezes the dripping whiskey out on every push, as the sodden trumpet cries last orders at the bar.
Lamb has a good emotional range to his voice, and a story-tellers nature with it – this isn’t a record of dirges by any means. In fact he’s pulled that great trick, disguising some perfect catchy three-minute almost-pop songs, in such heart rending broke-down messed up folk trappings that stick in your head and demand repeat listens. My favourite songs on this album have changed many times over the last few weeks, which is a sign of a fab record.
The opener (above) to the record is “Crack Shandy In The Harbour” - a recounting of when Lamb worked in a Plymouth cafe where the local Narcotics Anonymous held their meetings, nipping out as they did for a crack shandy (heroin & crack smoked together). The song, catchy as heck, puts a modern spin on the folk tradition and finishes within the perfect pop timing of three minutes, painting a vivid and desolate picture of that time in the singer’s life. “I’m lonely” he sings, and you relate, “…for crack shandy, in the harbour” – and you’re completely thrown.
There’s one cover on the record, “All For Me Grogg” – a traditional song I wasn’t familiar with, one that seems to be a perky staple in sets of bands like the Dubliners. “Where’s my shoes” they sing, and it gets a laugh. When Lamb reinterprets this, it’s the saddest lament for a life out of control that I’ve ever heard. Amazing.
“The Fishery” (above) sings about “send fables down, cables down” into a storm of guitars and you know he’s drowning not waving from a sea that will “take me in…over and over… I never learnt to swim”.
Unless Shields and Mangum release that collaboration I mentioned earlier in the next few weeks, I can’t see how this isn’t going to be my album of the year. Ten stunning songs, in less than 40 minutes. it’s a treasure chest of sad beauty, taken under as the ship sank, miles from home and very alone. Alone but for the sailors’ grogg.
“Method” by 30 Pounds Of Bone is available from the cracking indie label Armellodie Records (you can hear all the songs from the record there too), only 7 quid in a sweet cardboard sleeve, out on the 6th of December.
Shall we have an album of the week? It’s been a while. OK then…
In their minds, Jack are Artists with a capital A, true Bohemians, the last of the great romantics. They rub shoulders with Warhol and the Velvets, are on first name terms with Pasolini and Fellini, discuss Satre and poetry in Left Bank cafes and woo starlets in underground clubs in Berlin. They’re “behind in the rent and ahead in evolution”. They find romance in cheap booze and tragedy in cigarette embers.
They are unashamedly pretentious and faintly preposterous. Their liner notes contain “Further reading” lists. Their third album boasts the immortal line “I am the ‘and’ in Tolstoy’s War and Peace“.
And yet – they carry it off superbly. Suspend your disbelief for 50 minutes, and you’ll discover an incredibly accomplished debut album. The brooding seven-minute spoken-word opener “…of Lights” (yes, they’re the kind of band who start song titles with an ellipsis) is a panoramic, apolcalyptic vision of London on “the eve of the revolution”. “Wintercomessummer” sounds like The Fall colliding with early REM. Brett Anderson would kill to write a song like “Filthy Names”. The Tindersticks are another point of reference, with the string arrangements and Anthony Reynolds’ rich baritone. There’s some gorgeous guitar work, smart lyrical turns and widescreen production from Scott Walker producer Peter Walsh.
The follow-up, The Jazz Age, is equally impressive (my first paragraph above probably applies more to that album). But if a semi-malevolent genie made me choose, I think I’d have to plump for this one. I know bethnoir and tracyk are fans, and former RR-er CraneSpire used to nominate them a lot. The rest of you… it’s boxed, or listen below (and if anyone has the 10th anniversary edition with the bonus CD, let me know…)
Or, The Hits (and some misses), Part I; first in a new series of podcasts in which Abahachi comes to terms with the fact that he’s never going to get a song A-listed ever again, and looks back over selected highlights of the glory years… Radio Abahachi Episode 6a
Occasionally a tune is mentioned on RR that someone used to have on an New Musical Express cassette. For the uninitiated, during the eighties the NME would offer readers music compilation cassettes for the price of the post & packaging – for £1.99 you could get an NME approved comtemporary compilation championing new artistes and an archive compilation usually taken from a major label and was an introduction to so much good music.
The playlist here is a tape from 1986 of ‘cool’ jazz from EMI/Capitol Records archives that has the usual suspects – Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker and a blues from Billie; as well as gems from Johnny Dankworth, Gil Evans and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes amongst others.
Enough chat, just imagine it’s the wee small hours of the morning and you’re driving through the city streets, preferably in black & white, with this as your soundtrack …
Here’s a hypothetical question I’ve been pondering when I really should be thinking about more significant things. Let’s imagine a semi-malevolent genie offers you the following choice: you can either keep your favourite song by an artist, or all the rest of their output bar that song.
Sometimes it’s easy enough. Good as The La’s only album is, I’ll happily ditch the rest of it to keep “There She Goes”. I’m not too bothered about any Love song beyond “Alone Again Or”, and I’ve never got into Joy Division, so “Love Will Tear Us Apart” it is. There Might Be Giants can carry on churning out quirky, clever-clever pop for all eternity and it will never add up to one “Birdhouse In Your Soul”.
And the other way round: sad as I’d be never to hear “Like A Rolling Stone” or “A Day in the Life” again, I wouldn’t have a moment’s hesitation in keeping the rest of Dylan and The Beatles’ back catalogues.
What I’m interested in are the really difficult or controversial decisions. I don’t think I can imagine a world without “God Only Knows”, so I’m reluctantly ditching “Good Vibrations”, “Surf’s Up”, “Caroline, No” and all the rest. Similarly, I can’t bear to part with “Waterloo Sunset”, so everything else by The Kinks has to go (I may have the consolation of Kirsty McCall’s version of “Days” along with the rest of her stuff, at the expense of “A New England”, but that’s another tough one…). I love Pulp, but they wouldn’t be Pulp with “Common People”.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” or the rest of Nirvana?
The Beautiful South without “A Little Time”?
Dozens of Bob Marley songs or one “Redemption Song?”
So, over to you. What are the hardest decisions you’ve had to make? Any hypothetical posers of your own?
My favorite band reformed and pretty much kicked arse (live) on their return…
I caught a glimpse of Pixies at a festival in Germany and the set was storming – but I’d had trouble convincing myself to buy their forth album all those years ago.. and this was a band that didn’t out stay their welcome in the first place… they certainly didn’t fade away.
So bands and singers making come backs really isn’t up my street… that said come back makes a fantastic playlist… enjoy: Continue reading →
Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James (X2), Ibrahim Ferrer (X2), Gil Scott Heron (x3), Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Joe Strummer, Common & the Last Poets, Pete Rock and CL Smooth (x2), Nas & the Last Poets, Q Tip, Talib Kweli