The Chinese Alternative Music Scene ~ He Said – She Said

" Do you really think we will find a punk band in China Mr P ? "

He Says:

The Big C. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as the country opens, up the music scene has begun to blossom. Shanghai was always a bit of a “show town”, the San Francisco of the east and it’s here that the indie scene really seems to flourish. Still early days, apparently the distribution and manufacturing systems aren’t really geared up for the small, independently produced labels but this appears to be changing and there’s a real wealth of great music coming out of China now.

She Says:

China ! ! !  Of course rock music in its different forms has a very short history in China.  It is really only since about 2000 that rock bands could form and play without state approval.  And it ha been a long and hard road for many of them. It is easy to forget the price paid by some musicians for their art and courage.  Of course we want to celebrate the great things that are happening now, but we also will humbly acknowledge a true hero.

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‘Spillharmonic Records – Update!

There’s no turning back now ‘Spillharmonic Shareholders cos I’ve ordered the sleeves!!

“The Arigato Pak! is a Stumptown Printers original. This unique structure doesn’t require adhesives for assembly, has four spines (approximately 3/16″ thick), and finished dimensions 4 3/4″ square. Made of thick (18pt.) brown 100% PCW recycled chipboard. Ready for your custom silkscreen/stamp/label/stencil artwork. Shipped to you flat with folding instructions”

600 of these beauties are in the post, and I”ve got my eye on a local artist who has been producing some top notch hand-printed art cards of late!

Suggestions for a striking cover image in the comments please!

C is for Conquering Animal Sound

Euan at mini50 records mailed me about a band called Conquering Animal Sound from Edinburgh, so, they’re filling the “c” slot in the A-Z of Scottish Indie. Though I don’t think they sound Scottish – more like a beautiful broketronica Bjork and amazing with it.
Very promising indeed, hopefully I’ll get to see them if I get to the Meursault album launch. The song   “Alice Shoes” is for sharing, and if you go to their myspace here you can hear a song called “Giant” which I think is fab and is going to be on the single that’s about to come out. The other tune on their myspace is “Maschine” which is even better still!

Exile on Sao Paulo Street

Say you’ve got a bit of a band going. You’ve done a couple albums and they’ve sold so-so. The alt-country/blues/rock field is crowded these days. Reviewers say you can sound a bit like mid-70′s Stones, which is great ’cause you loved those albums. So when someone – and we don’t know who; it’s not like minutes were taken – says maybe we should try and sound even a bit more like the Stones, no one puts their hand up and says ”surely you’re taking the Mick.” Someone else, maybe even the same person, says why not have a go at making a record that sounds like a follow up to Exile on Main Street? Or the missing tracks fromwhich thereby?

Now, would you do it?
Woulda ya?
Would ya have a go?
The Deadstring Brothers have, and its called Sao Paulo.
There’s nothing wrong with the album. It’s capably done.
But would you have done it?
Would I?
Well I picked Smile as the representative sample because it’s the shortest song on the album. You’ve got stuff to do. I’ve got stuff to do. We’re all busy.

New Fannies!

Teenage Fanclub are back, after what seems like eternity, such a long time that it feels weird that they even have a website. I feel weird looking at their website, but I don’t however feel weird listening to their music.
The preview track from their new LP is called“Baby Lee”
I love Teenage Fanclub and have loved them since I was wee.
If you want to know more about the new record and the tour you could go to their website by clicking here
I’m sure there’s lots of Fannie fans amongst us ‘Spillers, so let’s try the impossible and pick our favourite song by them please, in the comments!

Dream-Folk Radiohead

Regular readers with a vaguely unhealthy interest in my musical preferences will know I consider Gillian Welch’s version of Radiohead’s Black Star to be one of the most beautiful things in the history of beautiful things.

I came across this while trawling YouTube the other day. It’s not quite in the same league, but it’s still rather beautiful.

My wife was asking for a definition of “ethereal” recently; I played her a Marissa Nadler song.

Next week: Beach House do Idiotecque, Fake Plastic Trees by Alela Diane and Joanna Newsom’s Paranoid Android…

Earworms of the Week (Mar 23)

A song permanently in my cranial jukebox, Stella Blue is one of the most accomplished Garcia/Hunter songs. It’s a lament for something lost: most likely one’s youth and the blues music played on a Stella guitar (by the likes of Leadbelly). This performance from June 1974 doesn’t have the pedal steel or the backing vocals of the studio version but there is a great fluency and sensitivity in the playing.(Imagine this sung by the likes of Nina Simone, steen…)
- Chris
This is a song that more than an earworm perhaps should be called a semi-constant companion. It drops in and out of my playlists and recently has made it back big time. Romantic, beautifully crafted and sheer quality. I could not live without it.
- Maki
I don’t usually go for young teen girls, but there is something compelling – like the innocent wisdom in a child’s drawing – about Stephanie Cottingham’s lyrics and personality. Unlike some (Mylie), she writes and acts her age.
- Tin
I haven’t seen the last Califone mentioned in the Spill (apols to whoever might have, if I’m mistaken) and it is, again, excellent. In true earworm fashion not a lot seems to be going on at first listen, but it really grows on you, until you start singing its nonexistent chorus at the office, at most inappropriate times (or maybe that’s just me). Beautiful imagery in the lyrics as well. A winner.
- lambretina
Bought this album for my dad last year, burning myself a copy before handing it over (shhhh, etc). Glad I did – it’s stunning. Proof (as if proof were needed) that you don’t need to understand the words being sung to feel touched by the singer and his story.
- bishbosh
I spent a long time debating whether or not to buy this album, the current project of one of my favourite jazz pianists with the Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland drummer Seb Roachford and some bloke on trombone, as I hated the gig I attended last year with a fiery passion. However, it’s far better than feared, mainly because less noisy and chaotic, and this is the catchiest number.
- Abahachi
For the following week, let’s hear from people who’ve not sent one in yet: Know a forgotten ‘classic’ or overlooked gem…. punk, the new wave, blues, soul, funk, doo wop, hard rock, show tunes…..Just send to

For those who like to play….

This is a very new media player called MusicBee. It promises so many things that it all sounds too good to be true, but I’ve been using it for 2 days now and so far it’s kept its promises.

If you are looking for an application geared toward managing extensive music collections, easy to use and with a comprehensive feature set – MusicBee is that application. MusicBee makes it easy to organize, find and play music files on your computer, on portable devices and on the web.

The screenshot above is Shane’s spillpost. When you load any web page, a list of song files on the page is generated and you can listen to them as you read, download and/or add them to your library – all at the same time. There’s also a lyrics/song info box. You can see the whole width of the web page – I just collapsed it in a bit for the photo size

Plays all formats, converts between formats, and if you search for a song you don’t have, it will supposedly (haven’t checked this yet) look for it on and play it from there for you.

It isn’t the fastest player to load, but its faster to use than other players with browsers built in. It says it can sync with all sorts of portable media players and allows drag and drop updating, but I haven’t had the courage to plug in my iPod yet.

I’m not endorsing this as something to switch to. Early days yet. But the guy doing it has been very responsive to suggestions, and if you want to be the coolest kid in your class, I’d check it out. (For those who follow these things, the long-promised songbird is emerging … from someone else)

Marling Monday / Songs About Shagging

I think you all know how much I like the music of Laura Marling. Her debut was in my top 10 of the 00s, and its very likely the follow up will show highly in this years top ten.
Marling has taken the folk-pop songs of her past and given them a 4000volt-mumfordite shock, boosting them into the realms of the unreal, like at the 1.20 mark of the song above when things really go stratospheric. The closing song of the LP “I Speak Because I Can” is so emotionally charged that it quite took me aback the first time I heard it.
I couldn’t post the official video for “Devil’s Spoke” but this recent live session version is very good. Why is it that when women write songs about shagging it turns out awesome, but when men do, it turns out Def Leppard. Answers on a postcard, please, or a blog comment.

I’ve got a….

and just like my artwork.. if you’ve got some F/X .. why don’t you use them?
Bathtime In Clerkenwell – bubbles
Mashin’ On The Motorway – my bad
Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse – Shoot Out- yes it’s got horses
Terrible Angels – piggies.. so many piggies.. all those piggies

Loose Fix (Perfecto 12″ Mix) -anyone seen my dragon?
Purrfect- you want cats, I’ll give you….. footsteps.
Close (To The Edit) -and the kitchen sink – really.. if I could find Max Headroom… altogether now “where’s my teasmaid”
The North Wind- papa ‘wots that sound?’ ‘that’s a typewriter boy’ ‘wot’s a typewriter..wear do they keap da spelchek?’ ”how do I save” “arrrggggggg”

Sea Swells And Distant Squalls – it sounds….(well, like the GLOVE – Sex-Eye-Make-Up).. not a bad thing.. just a thing… like a lost thing thats just been found, but isn’t really in the right place.

Relax (Club 69 Future Anthem, Pt. 1) if you are going to have a sound effect – let’s get spunky! hit me with those lazar beams – why don’t ya.
Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) – it’s touchdown in Ibiza circa 2000..whoosh. sing posh blue peter daughter sing.
Kik Off – did I fit in the bells.. well here’s the whistles.

special effects!

Clarence Gatemouth Brown – Alligator Eating Dog
Mandrill – Bro Weevil and the Swallow
Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
M.I.A. – Paper Planes
K’Naan – Wash It Down
Jungle Brothers – Sounds of the Safari
Lupe Fiasco – Superstar
Jurassic 5 – Remember His Name
Pharoahe Monch – When the Gun Draws
Common – Payback is a Grandmother

Covers? On a Thursday night? Yup – and there will be a quiz

According to the Tom Waits Library this is Tom’s most-covered song. More than Ol’ 55 or Downtown Train. It’s from Rain Dogs, and the Cover Me blog has tracked down a cover for each song on the album. Like the Dylan below, covers bring Waits’ songwriting to greater light.

One of the people in this song runs with scissors. The other spends a lifetime on the sidelines watching people run with scissors. Which are you?
…Shaye was a Canadian pop-rock band who dropped from sight after two albums. The original is by Ireland’s Sinéad Lohan, who … dropped from sight after two albums. Motherhood, sigh.
Superb song which may not have been done to its full potential yet.

Timeless songs should be, well, timeless. An 1968 Oscar winner for Noel Harrison from The Thomas Crown Affair, it is given a new outlook – love the latin elements – by Scottish singer Sharleen Spiteri (ex of the band Texas; bonus track Sleep ) on her second solo album, The Movie Songbook. It’s a labour of love for her and I was lukewarm at first (too Olivia Newton John in places), but it’s becoming a keeper.

er, Tin, that’s his own song. Hey, good spot! This is where an an inviting cover (by Sinéad Lohan, with more Latin treats) can raise the standing of the original. Listening to Lohan after finding No Mermaid, her Ramona sent me scurrying to hear a song I did not know, and I was astounded by the fullness of the lyrics. It’s still too ‘old nasally Dylan’ for me musically, but too lightweight without him. Maybe I should stop listening to Dylan and just read him.

This is not so much a cover as a piss take. How many bands does he spoof? Comments below.
…. Watch for Mr Andy (too clever, not) Clockwise, though. Roguish charm generally only gets you so far, but this Austrailian comic turned (self-procliamed) pop star may be poised to take over the world on chutzpah alone.
Many will tell you this album (Are You Well?) is too frivolous to buy; I disagree. Bonus: The Socialite (with Lissie), well up on my songs of 2010 list.

Something to wind down with and echo the Latin scents above.

Earworms of the Week (Mar 16)

I don’t really know what they are on about, and if they did live in a psychic city they’d surely know what would happen in a day.. but, is this an earworm or what? Cheers me up every time I play it.
- shane
I can’t claim to know or love many songs which feature a kazoo solo, but this one is my favourite at the moment. Proving that some goths have a sense of humour as well as looking good in PVC, and writing delightful music, I keep waking up with this lilting number in my head. It makes me want to dance.
- bethnoir
A song written for his daughter, full of advice. He says “I’m going to be blunt,” and some of it is blunt, but it’s also tender, humorous, and even revolutionary. The coup has a female DJ – Pam the Funkstress; I can’t think of another example of that.
- steenbeck
Driving west cross the valley on the year’s first t-shirt day here in the mountains this came on. Skies an amazing blue broken only by criss-crossed contrails. I had to resist the urge to put it on repeat & drive till I hit the ocean.
- fintan
From the Leeds indie rockers’ second studio album, Nobody’s Coming to Save You, out last month. Nothing fancy here – just fun guitar pop that _[pick a wanker]__ Gallagher would approve of. This one has become a turn it up earworm for me.
- tin
A great group from Maputo, the capital, they’re the national radio house band. Marrabenta is the national indigenous musical form, mistrusted by the Portuguese as a medium of revolution, but when they left this music flourished.
- goneforeign

Genius Song Titles

You know when you get a new album and read the track listing, and there’s a song you really want to hear just from the title?

Joanna Newsom’s (utterly wonderful) new album has a song called

Good Intentions Paving Company

I think this may possible be my favourite song title ever. The song itself doesn’t disappoint.

So… what’s your favourite song title? What songs did you love before you ever heard them? Have you ever bought a record or a book on the strength of the title alone? And are there some that don’t live up to their titular promise?