Friday, June 29, 2007

seal tiger unicycle

... and one month later, I finally get broadband hooked up at the new house! Hi there.

Stereolab are one of those bands that I seem to have a lot of records by, even though I don't love them (see also: Super Furry Animals). Unpacking the CDs after moving in led me to play a couple of the releases I do have.

And even though their earlier material (Switched On for example) is quite dated (does anyhody else remember Bleach?), and despite the fact that the dour-faced duo of Tim Gane and Lætitia Sadier is a French & Saunders sketch waiting to happen (think about it - Dawn French as Tim, doggedly ploughing through the Roadrunner riff ad infinitum as Jennifer Saunders urges bloody revolution in a deathless somnambulent croon), I still found much to enjoy. Like this track - wherein they get off the Roadrunner riff and instead mine the end section to What Goes On to genuinely thrilling effect. Play loud for full effect.

Stereolab - We're Not Adult Oriented

They even replicate the Lou-Reed-fastest-guitarist-in-the-world rhythmic clatter from 4.46 onwards!

When I listened to their stuff again, I really enjoyed these tracks from the Music for the Amorphous Body Study Center EP.

Stereolab - The Extension Trip

Stereolab - How To Play Your Internal Organs Overnight

High Llama Sean O'Hagan had appeared on many Stereolab releases by the point this came out but this sounds more like a flat-out collaboration - the arrangements are pure Hawaii to my ears, especially the strings on ...Internal Organs...

Visit - Stereolab
Buy - Space Age Bachelor Pad Music
* The Wikipedia entry for Amorphous Body Study Center makes it sound like a real rarity - I got my copy for 99p in the HMV sale back in the day. But the tracks are all on Aluminum Tunes, so get that instead.

'T' was tricky - we've already featured Talking Heads, Throwing Muses, They Might Be Giants, Thin White Rope, Thin Lizzy, Trumans Water and Tripmaster Monkey, so where else can you go?

Tarnation - The Well

But this is a track that seems to crop up pretty regularly when I'm shuffling on iTunes and it never gets moved on. I genuinely know very very little about Tarnation - follow the link to learn ... er, not much, actually.

Anyhoo, this is a great epic slice of country Gothic, featuring a truly great vocal, all swoopy and tremulous, with some resolutely wonky slide guitar. Nice.

I only got this track from Facing The Wrong Way, one of those compilation albums that record shops gave away when someone bought a related artist that featured most of the 4AD roster at the time. This was easily the best track so I don't know why (considering my well-documented penchant for most things v23) I never investigated further.

Paula Frazer, lead Tarnat-or, is still doing stuff in between bouts of professional weaving.

Visit - Paula Frazer/Tarnation
Buy - Gentle Creatures by Tarnation, the album I never did...

Uncle Tupelo were a very, very special band for me and my friends in the early 90s. It's strange, but their widescreen tales of blue-collar life in the States really struck a chord with a bunch of pasty-faced middle-class slackers. I guess it's just because they wrote fantastic, honest, heartfelt and passionate songs. Yeah, I think that was it.

Uncle Tupelo - Looking For A Way Out

History seems to have picked the acoustic version of this track as the take to anthologise, but this is the keeper for me. I suppose all countries have their small, inward-looking towns - that might have been another link. Doesn't excuse us all singing along in crap American accents, tho'...

Uncle Tupelo - Postcard

I was lucky enough to see the band in Leeds on their last UK tour as a trio - if memory serves this was the first song they played, which neatly pinned my plaid shirt to the back wall of the Duchess of York.

Uncle Tupelo - Moonshiner

Their acoustic album March 16-20, 1992 was the first album of theirs I bought - I think I read a particularly glowing review in Melody Maker so thought I'd take the plunge. Tracks like this - a great track that, intentionally of otherwise, welds Heart of Gold to a traditional song - totally won me over, especially the tiny drum fill at 2.13 that's followed by a harmonica line that heads straight for the nape of your neck.

Uncle Tupelo - New Madrid

I've written before about the fact that, when UT split, everyone expected gruff-voiced-everyman Jay Farrar to go onto glory, rather than Jeff Tweedy. And I've kind of mirrored that with the tracks I've chosen, as all except the last are Farrar songs. Having said that, if someone made me choose my favourite UT song (and it's been hard enough choosing 4 for this post), I'd have to pick New Madrid, which is a Tweedy track. If anyone has a bootleg of the mighty glam-rock version of this that Wilco played on the Being There tour, please get in touch!

BTW - ignore the naysayers. Sky Blue Sky is the best Wilco album so far, I reckon!

Visit - Uncle Tupelo
Buy - Uncle Tupelo CDs

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