I know quite a few RR regulars are Decemberists’ fans (I’m looking at you, steen), so those of us on the UK side of the pond had a recent treat when they toured here in the wake of their new album, ‘The King is Dead”. I know bishbosh caught them in Glasgow. I was at Hammersmith Apollo for their closing gig a couple of weeks back, where they played a setlist ranging across all their output, with the highlight for me being a 25 minute mini-suite of the complete Crane Wife 1-3. (I was a bit freaked out to find my seat was pretty much the same one I sat in when I saw the Beatles here in 1964 – fortunately the crowd screamed a bit less). The Decemberists’ anglophilia, erudite lyrics, and reinvention of the folk-rock story ballad – often bloodthirsty or bleak – really works for me. Colin Meloy, the lead singer and creative powerhouse of the band, is possibly a marmite voice, but I’m a fan. See what you think in this little medley of snatches from the gig.

30-day Musical Challenge: Day 1

I’m just finishing a 30-Day Musical Challenge in a Facebook group, and it was such fun I’ve pinched it for the Spill.

The rules are simple: Each day I’ll post a criteria and you post ONE song, along with a wee explanation and link if possible. Comment/banter via replies.

No song can appear more than once in the month, and only one song per day per person. If you miss a day, feel free to catch up. Penalty points for skipping hard topics or trying to look cool.

I’m going to set topics to autopost for the next day at 10 p.m. UK time. Day 1 will be April 1. The topic is your favorite song.

From sublime to ridiculous ( and all stops in between).

Stung to the heart by a cruel comment casting horribly accurate aspersions on my musical taste I feel moved to burden you with some of the “real stuff”.
You may have heard the furore about the song “Friday” and how it has ( wrongly) been called “the worst song in the world” and how it’s performer was moved to tears by the unkind comments made about it. The video ( available on Youtube) was a “vanity” project, her parents paid $2000 for it to me made ( not a bad price, I think, it’s quite well done really). Of course it’s nothing new. Book “publishers” have been running vanity printing for years and the record industry, too, has some form.
From , roughly, the 1940s through to the 1980s there flourished an industry that produced what have come to be known by the fans as “Song-poems”.
Basically, an ad would be placed saying that a recording company “needed” song lyrics and poems and that there were artists waiting to record them. People would send in material and receive a letter back informing them that ( surprise !) their words were just what was needed and for only $200 or so they would be on the way to wealth and fame.
Those that bit would send the money and, in return, receive some records and the promise that any future royalties would be forwarded and that the song would be in the shops soon ( it was, on a cheaply produced album with loads of others).

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Mr McTell Got the Blues

Following on a discussion over at the earworms, I’ve been thinking a lot about Blind Willie McTell. I see him as an artist that transcends genre labels. He plays the blues, certainly, but to my ears he encompasses so many other styles as well. He was adept at finger-picking piedmont-style blues, but he could also play in a ragtime style, and a bottle neck blues style. He seems to break out at the seams of pattern and repetition that defines the blues, in a way that reminds me of early jazz. According to professor Wiki…

His playing…is masterful, fluid and inventive; based on multiple recordings of the same song (for example, “Broke Down Engine”), he never played a song the same way twice. His style could almost be called “stream of consciousness,” as he would vary the bar pattern and sometimes even the rhythm and chord progression from verse to verse.

Dylan loved him – you can hear folk songs in some of his tunes. And, of course, lovers of indie music and Rock n Roll will instantly recognize the influence he had on Jack White of the White Stripes, who covered many of his songs and dedicated an album to him.

Here are a ten songs in different styles, including some repeats so you can hear how each version is different.

Criminals Part 2

Stranglers – Let Me Introduce You To The Family
Monochrome Set – Jack
Mountain Goats – Magpie
Yeah Yeah Noh – Stealing In The Name Of The Lord

Laika – 44 Robbers
Magazine – The Honeymoon Killers
Thee More Shallows – Ave Grave
Stina Nordenstam – Murder In Mairyland Park

New Roddy Woomble!

Those of you with reasonably long memories will recall that I did an AOTW post on Roddy’s first solo album, “My Secret Is My Silence”, a year or so ago. It was then – and remains – one of my favourite albums of the last decade. So imagine my delight, dear reader, to discover he has a new album out, “The Impossible Song & Other Songs”! (Actually, I’ve known about its imminent arrival for a while, but that doesn’t sound very dramatic, does it?) Anyway, I have been listening to it for the last few days, in anticipation of tonight’s Roddy gig at the Union Chapel (more on that anon). First impressions are that TISAOS doesn’t quite match up to MSIMS, but it is still a rather lovely listen: much of it employing a jauntier, more full-bodied (banded?!) sound than the first album. Here is a little taster from it: my favourite track (so far), “Tangled Wire”. Hope you enjoy…

Screaming Females

This band is from my hometown. I’ve tried to be reserved about it, but I think they’re really good…

Here’s from the Village Voice

The Females recently toured with the Dead Weather; no idea how Jack White had the balls to even walk out onstage after Pasternoster was done with it, or how there was still a stage left at all. Call it Guitar Hero: Riot Grrrl. Bow down.