Sunday, October 30, 2005

thrash folk

'The Return Of The Magic Horses' (Intoarcerea cailor magica) - Taraf de Haidouks

This still sounds as insane and brilliant to me now as it did when I sat in my at my kitchen table one fateful Saturday tea time and listened to it for the first time. Staring off into the middle distance, mouth slightly open as the woman I share the kitchen with became increasingly annoyed and worried.

“What is THIS?!?”, she casually demanded over the manic swirling jig.

“Gypsies... from Romania...” I eventually replied, wiping the drool from the cd cover, my accordian-induced reverie temporarily interupted, “I... think... I like it.”

Well I guess its never going to rock everyone's boat, but the music of ‘Taraf de Haidouks’ (still Romania’s premiere Gypsy ensemble as far as I know) pushes my boat across the the lake to a strange and wonderful land. A land of of cubist melodies and frantic sonic detail and space. At times the whole band are playing so fast they actually seem to levitate, while the slow songs make me feel pissed and bohemian.

'Absinth I Drink You, Absinth I Eat You' (Pelin bau, pelin maninc) - Taraf de Haidouks

In world music circles they are a well established act. They once played at the Viper Room in LA for Johnny Depp, (what a gig! Can you imagine?) Their story is long and interesting, but I’m not going into that here - do a search, there’ s lots of stuff about them.

This album was recorded live in Bucharest and is an absolute gem. Buy it!

Friday, October 21, 2005

a hundred gutters

The Silver Jews latest album, "Tanglewood Numbers" is all over blog-land like some weird cyber-rash. It's a great album and you should really go and buy it.

Silver Jews have often been wrongly seen as a Pavement side-project, due to a fluctuating line-up that often included Pavement's Steve Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, alongside main man David Berman. And I admit that was my view, until I heard "The Natural Bridge"(1996).

Silver Jews - Black And Brown Blues

It's really hard to write intelligently about things that are this natural and simple sounding. I love that the Mandolin break makes me think of "Maggie May" but there's nothing arch or "clever-clever" about this song. Despite it's seeming simplicity and the "route-one" chords it's a hearty meal for the soul, including one of my favourite lyrics ever:
When I go downtown
I always wear a corduroy suit
cause it's made of a hundred gutters
that the rain can run right through
but a lonely man can't make a move
if he can't even bring himself to choose
between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes
As well as being the only consistent band member, David Berman is a published poet. Alongside lyics of skewed romanticism there is a strong dark vein running through their stuff, only further added to by a disarmingly frank interview that Berman recently gave to Pitchfork (see link at the bottom of this post).

Silver Jews - Pet Politics

This song features the following lines, which are weird, comic, spiritual, disturbing, all at once - quite an achievement!
Adam was not the first man 'though the Bible tells us so
There was one created before him, whose name we do not know
He also lived in the garden
but he had no mouth or eyes
One day Adam came to kill him
and he died beneath these skies
Anyway, just to lighten the mood (a little bit - not too much!) here's a track from "American Water"(1998), a song that starts with the immortal line "In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection" and goes on to take in line-dancing, divorce and all points in between.

Silver Jews - Random Rules

There may well be a treat in the comments section for interested parties...

Visit Silver Jews
Read Pitchfork interview with DC Berman
Buy Silver Jews releases

Sunday, October 16, 2005

video junkie

So who remembers Max Headroom? Back in the days when videos were still important and Channel 4 was in its infancy Max Headroom was a half hour video show presented by a 'computer generated', stuttering talking head. It was really some dude in a rubber mask but we were more easily pleased back then. I first saw/heard Bill Nelson's 'Do you dream in colour' on that show, loved the steam powered drums and odd atmosphere and bought a secondhand copy of the album it comes from in Durham Market. 'Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam' came with an instrumental album made on broken equipment.....excellent!

Bill Nelson- Do You Dream In Colour

Bill Nelson has had a long and varied career at the arty end of the musical spectrum. He was the 'axe hero' in 'Be Bop Deluxe' a band that sat uneasily between prog rock and glam pop. Since then he has produced loads of solo albums, often a little pretentious but always interesting. These tracks have that home made, early synth thing that I love. They were recorded in 1978 but to me they sound very 'now'.

Bill Nelson- Living In My Limousine

Find out more about Bill here

I thought this would have been deleted but you can get it here

Thursday, October 13, 2005

checkered past

Cheap Trick - Hello There

AaaH! the perfect song to kick off my contribution to Domino Rally. This has to be the best "sound check" number around!

I love this band; their music is truly dynamic. It bristles with perfect pop hooks, subversive humour and er, 12-string bass. Their look is a winner too: that unlikely fusion of two effeminate pretty boys, a hyperactive nerd and the chain-smoking private dick on drums. Compared to the legions of spandex clad poodles and punk fashion victims, they had real personality.

I am one of the subset of Trick fans who got into the band thanks to Steve Albini. the Big Black version of "He's a Whore" was the first Trick song I heard. Albini and co. do a good rendition, but the original is superior. There's a lot more bass for a start...

Cheap Trick - He's a Whore

visit Cheap Trick
buy their music

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

will you love me tomorrow?

An abject lesson in "owning" a song...

Everyone knows The Shirelles' version of this Goffin-King classic - the jaunty rhumba-esque rhythm, the close harmonies, and the rush of the orchestra into the final "So tell me know and I won't ask again...". Classic Girl Group pop with a classic girl group lyric: "did I go too far on that date and is he going to call again?"

No man could perform that... right?

William Bell - Will You Love Me Tomorrow

William Bell had a number of hits (including "You Don't Miss Your Water", and "Private Number" with Judy Clay) but was always going to be in Otis Redding's shadow - he even recorded "A Tribute To A King" after Otis died.

He pulls out a few of Otis' trademarks here (just short of a "got-ta got-ta" in a few places) but makes the song his own, his high and fragile reading giving it a real edge. The man sounds desperately in love and the accompaniament on this, like on so many Stax cuts from the time, is an amazing example of "less is more".

If you're in the right mood (as I was when I dug this one out for the first time in ages the other night), it can take your breath away.

Talk about flights of fancy - maybe the girl William is with in the song really wanted to be with Otis!

William Bell page on Stax website
Stax website
Buy Stax O' Soul

Friday, October 07, 2005

when the sun's gone down

The other night I went to Derby Guildhall to see The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. As you probably know, they're a self-styled indie-vaudeville act, a father, mother and daughter that go to yard sales and thrift stores buy up old collections of slides and write songs about them.

At first they were really funny and the songs were cool but after a while it was like they were beating me about the head with their SCHTICK. It got boring really fast and I started imagining the revenge that the daughter will visit upon her parents after years touring the world - I think she'll become a high-powered corporate lawyer.

The evening was saved by the support, Langhorne Slim, a man in a beat-up hat wearing a corduroy suit, belting out songs on an acoustic guitar. There was a marked absence of SCHTICK or GIMMICK. It was great.

Langhorne Slim - And If It's True


Langhorne Slim - Mary

Langhorne Slim - Loretta Lee Jones

How to describe him? A hillbilly Tom Waits? A white shitkicking country-blues artist? I dunno. He tells a great story. He loves to dance. His voice is a piercing, keening yelp, that grabs hold and demands attention.

He kept apologising that all of his songs were about love and lost-love and never-found-love. But that's what the blues is about, isn't it?

Visit Langhorne Slim
Buy "When The Sun's Gone Down" by Langhorne Slim

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

entertainment program for humans


Servotron - I Sing! The Body Cybernetic

Servotron - Erotomatica

Servotron were an offshoot band of Man... or Astroman?? and were absolutely the best band we've ever played with, at the Malt & Hops, Stafford, in (yikes!) May 1998.

The Malt & Hops was, if memory serves, on a traffic island on the Stafford ring road and was a traditional looking pub - think 'American Werewolf in London'.

Before they played Servotron got into character and costume, the weirdest home-made robot get-ups you've ever seen. They were obviously playing with minimal visibility, judging by the helmets that the drummer and bassist were wearing. By the way, is there a heterosexual-man-of-a-certain-age alive that doesn't fancy Lady Robots??

Throughout the set, they didn't drop the mask once, indulging in hilarious dead-pan banter with the crowd and playing one of the coolest, tightest sets I've ever seen.

We'd had a bit of chit-chat with Servotron beforehand and they were really cool people - it will come as no surprise that they were seriously into Devo, so we hit it off. Marc-o's Korg MS-10 still wears it's Servotron sticker with pride.

Servotron page on Lookout Records site
Buy Entertainment Program For Humans

Saturday, October 01, 2005

domino rally hot 100

Well, The Rally (as precisely no-one is calling it) has racked up 100 tunes - not bad going.

Below is a list of everything we've posted so far. If the tune is still available, click through to the relevant post. If you missed something that's no longer available, leave us a comment and I'll try to get it back online.

1) They Might Be Giants - Now That I Have Everything
2) They Might Be Giants - The Famous Polka
3) Propaganda - Murder of Love
4) The Isley Brothers - Who loves you better
5) Al Green - L-O-V-E (Love)
6) Throwing Muses - Snail Head
7) Throwing Muses - Mexican Women
8) The Posies - I May Hate You Sometimes
9) The Posies - Solar Sister
10) The Bad Plus - And Here We Test our Powers of Observation
11) The Bad Plus - Iron Man
12) XTC - Grass
13) XTC - Ladybird (Mummer Version)
14) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Rahway Wasdi Jhok Faridan Di
15) Nino Tempo & April Stevens - I've Been Carrying A Torch For You So Long That I Burned A Great Big Hole In My Heart
16) Nino Tempo & April Stevens - Deep Purple
17) Three O'Clock - Jet Fighter
18) Rain Parade - You Are My Friend
19) Gary Byrd & The GB Experience - The Crown
20) Devo - Uncontrollable Urge
21) Devo - Be Stiff
22) David Lee Roth - Just Like Paradise
23) David Lee Roth - Damn Good
24) Prefab Sprout - Walk On
25) Prefab Sprout - Lions in my own Garden
26) Prefab Sprout - Cue Fanfare
27) The B-52's - Whammy Kiss
28) OMD - Bunker Soldiers
29) Dalek I - Destiny (Dalek I Love You)
30) Hall & Oates - Rich Girl
31) Hall & Oates - Back Together Again
32) Bradford - Skin Storm
33) Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - Little House I Used To Live In
34) Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - The Mud Shark
35) Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (live 1969)
36) Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane (live 1969)
37) Velvet Underground - Rock And Roll (live 1969)
38) Golden Smog - Until You Came Along
39) Golden Smog - Please Tell My Brother
40) Son Volt - Windfall
41) Son Volt - Mystifies Me
42) The Beat - Too Nice To Talk To
43) The Beat - Twist And Crawl
44) April March - Cet Air La
45) April March - Chick Habit
46) April March - Stay Away From Robert Mitchum
47) Tom Waits - Poncho's Lament
48) Tom Waits - I'm Your Late Night Evening Prostitute
49) Tom Waits - Frank's Song
50) Japan - Swing
51) Japan - All Tomorrows Parties
52) Matthew Sweet - Superdeformed
53) Matthew Sweet - You Don't Love Me
54) Johnny Domino - New Pink Shirt
55) Johnny Domino - Forever In Blue Jeans
56) The Upsetters - Kentucky Skank
57) David Isaacs - We Are Neighbors
58) Frank Sidebottom - Anarchy In The UK
59) Frank Sidebottom - Popular Medley
60) Frank Sidebottom - Everybody (Loves To) Sing Queen
61) Herbie Hancock - Rain Dance
62) McCarthy - Red Sleeping Beauty
63) McCarthy - Should the Bible be Banned
64) April March - Voodoo Doll
65) April March - Kooky
66) Victor Banana - Slumber, Precious
67) Neil Smythe - Onions Make Me Weep
68) Neil Smythe - Teen Hobo
69) Neil Smythe - I Wanna Be A Dummy
70) Neil Smythe - Peace, It's A Gasser
71) Neil Smythe - My Shoulder
72) Dean Friedman - Woman Of Mine
73) Dean Friedman - Rocking Chair
74) Meat Puppets - Dolphin Field
75) Meat Puppets - Split Myself In Two
76) Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun
77) Sebadoh - Weird
78) Minutemen - Viet Nam
79) Minutemen - One Reporter's Opinion
80) Minutemen - Doctor Wu
81) The Teardrop Explodes - Tiny Children
82) The Teardrop Explodes - Passionate Friend
83) The Pale Saints - Timethief
84) The Pale Saints - Kinky Love
85) D'Angelo - The Root
86) Dungen - Panda
87) Dungen - Festival
88) The Cult - Spiritwalker
89) The Cult - Resurrection Joe
90) Status Quo - Mean Girl
91) Trumans Water - Aroma Of Gina Arnold
92) Trumans Water - Playboy Stabtone Bloodbath Go
93) Madonna - Burning Up
94) Ciccone Youth - Burnin' Up
95) Colin Blunstone - How Wrong Can One Man Be
96) Colin Blunstone - Say You Don't Mind
97) Prince - Superfunkycalifragisexy
98) Prince - Bob George
99) Patrick Skelly and the Prescriptions - My Dear
100) Patrick Skelly and the Prescriptions - Rosalind Berry