Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday, July 05, 2009

butt metal

Something a little different here, something which proves that bad language is often at it's funniest when it's bleeped out.

The first time I was aware of the comedic possibilities of the radio edit was when Wu Tang Clan's Gravel Pit was released as a single - the version that was played on UK radio used all manner of bizarre sound-effects (horns, fart noises, bells and various clangs) to cover up the Wu's effing and jeffing. It was brilliant.

I first came across this nutso Heavy Metal parody whilst flicking through the music channels one morning. It's the sheer variety of the noises used that makes it for me - backwards masking, car horns, comedy claxons, inappropriate squeals of guitar and lyrics, panthers growling, to name but a few.

And it gets worse as it goes on, becoming more or less incomprehensible by the time of the third verse. I recorded this off the TV - I didn't know you could buy it, but it's on the iTunes version of the EP, along with *ahem* I Want Your Tits.

Steel Panther - Death to All but Metal (clean video version)


When you eventually hear the uncensored version, it's pretty disappointing to find that what's being covered up is lots of lame talk about balls and the sucking thereof. Ho hum.

Visit - Steel Panther
Visit - Steel Panther (wiki)
Buy - Feel the Steel

Thursday, May 07, 2009

bad boys of indie-pop

How odd - I've just realised that Domino Rally is, with this post, 201 posts old - not too shabby, I reckon.

eMusic keeps on sending me offers and I keep signing up for another month. And then I download really odd things that I thought I'd never hear again. Case in point:

Golden Dawn - George Hamilton's Dead

Yet another track from a tape by the Archdeacon of Pop. Archie was WELL into his Sarah records stuff when we were playing together in a noisy proto-grunge outfit. We used to rehearse at full volume in his bedroom (while his folks watched the telly across the hall). When we had a break, Arch would break out the biscuits and orange squash (phew! rock 'n' roll, eh?) and play us selections from his massive record collection.

I would sometime come out in a twee-allergic rash but I've always remembered this odd little band and their (and I quote), "awesomely ragged, feedback-riddled singles".

I like the fact that they got dropped when Sarah didn't like the tracks they put forward for their third single - too noisy? too sloppy and unprofessional?

The real pain is that eMusic didn't have the other side of this single which was a cracker; if memory serves it was called something like Honey, Let's Build a Dysonsphere. They did have their first single, however.

Golden Dawn - My Secret World

Visit - Golden Dawn MySpace (*no music*)
Visit - Golden Dawn wiki
Buy - Sarah Records Air Balloon Road compilation (CD)
Buy - Sarah Records Air Balloon Road compilation (download)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

get your ya-ya's out

Watching the brief section of the Wilco tour film Ashes of American Flags shown on UK TV the other night raised some interesting questions.
  1. How drunk do you have to get in order to throw your underwear at Jeff Tweedy? Don't get me wrong, Mr Tweedy has written and co-written many of my favourite songs of the last almost two decades and he has a beautiful cracked voice. But seriously.
  2. Why can't all gigs be by Wilco?
They're a fantastic live band, one of of only a handful that I've seen more then once and what I saw of this film showed how amazingly tight they still are. Is it a sign of age when you're impressed by the solid chops a band displays rather than their unpredictable "anything-can-happen" schtick?

Whatever, their albums are all great, 2007s Sky Blue Sky being my favourite. This album got quite a bit of stick at the time for 'playing safe' with its more traditional song structures and less outré sonic experiments.

But I know which of their recent releases I've enjoyed and listened to the most. And considering the talent in the current (and longest-serving) line-up of the band, I can't wait to hear what they do next.

Golden Smog - A Long Time Ago


I did a big post about Golden Smog way back in the early days of Domino Rally - follow this link to read it.

For the uninitiated, Golden Smog are an studio super-group that Tweedy used to be part of. This track is from the last album he was involved with, 2006s Another Fine Day, and is a really beautiful little song about the birth of a younger sibling and the ties of family. When we were listening to this the other Mrs Domino was quite overcome with thoughts about the birth of her younger sister many years ago, so this is for the wife and her lovely sis.

Maybe I am getting emotional in my old age, but I love anything like this; similarly, any songs about "Home" can set me off easily (I think I see a themed post coming up soon).

Wilco - The High Heat (A Ghost is Born outtake)

This is from the outrageously pretentious Wilco Book which came out just after A Ghost is Born and features essays about the philosophy of sound recording amongst other esoteric delights. Nice pictures tho', and this is a cool outtake from the AGIB sessions.

The new Wilco album is slated to appear June 30th. They'll hopefully be touring soon after so I'll be keeping my very best pants nice and clean in anticipation!

Buy - Wilco music and DVDs
Visit - Wilco
Visit - Ashes of American Flags

Thursday, April 09, 2009

dummies guide to miming

Amen Corner - Bend Me, Shape Me - Top Of The Pops (1968)

Riddle me this, pop pickers - how is that voice coming from that man?

I mean, aside from the frankly abysmal miming? Did he realise that this was being recorded for television? Why was he dancing like a Thunderbirds puppet?

Great song anyway, with a cool bit of TOTP craziness at the end of the clip.

Normal service will resume shortly.

Buy - If Paradise was Half As Nice: The Immediate Anthology
Visit - Amen Corner (wiki)

Friday, March 27, 2009

the end of an era

This month, Nottingham's Selectadisc closes its doors after 43 years in the city. I've been going there off and on for the best part of 23 of those years, from my late school days, through college and into my University life - there were perfectly good shops in Sheffield but I frequently got the train back, walked across town and bought something before heading home for the weekend.

I can't pretend that I've frequented it all that often over the last couple of years but when I heard about its closure (from The Guardian, of all places), I couldn't resist one last rifle through its racks.

It was as saddening as a visit to any closing business can be, but the shutting of Selectadisc struck me as the end of an era. I'll never again be able to go into a shop and flick through the stock, read the descriptions and recommendations, maybe hear something playing over the speakers, and come out with a big bag of things I'd never heard of before. I know there are online stores but you need to know what you're looking for - the joy of a shop like Selectadisc was that you'd stumble on things completely by chance.

I decided that my last purchases would be strictly vinyl and preferably something I'd never heard of before.

The Free Pop Experimental Concept - Planetary Gospel

Turns out the "concept" is funky soul-jazz with wacky way-out space effects - fantastic! This is from 1969, a Portuguese duo (Jess & James) teaming up with American jazzer Scott Bradford and a Belgian mad scientist called Arsene Souffriau. Buying music really doesn't get much better than this.

Free Design - Don't Cry Baby

This is from Free Design Sing For Very Important People, which was sold to me on the slightly disturbing cover artwork and the fact that Free Design, the renowned soft-psych vocal group, had done a kids album - I always found their stuff pretty twisted and this album really doesn't disappoint. Plus it includes a couple of their signature songs (this track taken from CD for faster posting).

Free Design - Bubbles

Yes, the staff could be a little grumpy and sneery. But it was better than nothing, which is what we've got now.

Buy - The Best of Free Design
Buy - Free Design... Sing For Very Important People (import CD)
Buy - The Free Pop Experimental Concept from SystemRecords
Visit - Free Design (wiki)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

the spangle makers

Sigur Ros? Pah! THIS is how you make the unintelligable strike a real emotional chord, my friends.

As has been mentioned before in these pages, as a teenager I had a major Jones for most things 4AD. Cocteau Twins have been in my head for a while now - here are some of my favourite tracks by them.

Cocteau Twins - Lorelei (from Treasure)


Yes, the drum machine places this track firmly in the Gothic 80s, but I'd totally forgotten how agressive and LOUD Robin Guthrie's guitar is on this. Check the ferocious scrabbling from 2.54 to the end. Whoosh! Shouldn't be that surprising as he always did look a bit "handy" (see above).

Cocteau Twins - Orange Appled (from Love's Easy Tears)


At their very best, CT dealt with beautiful sounds and heady, rush-filled classic pop structures. And that's even before we get to the gob-smacking vocals.

Cocteau Twins - Cico Buff (from Blue Bell Knoll)


Hard to write about them without falling into the traps of over-the-top music journalism ("sonic cathedrals" and all that). Sometimes you just need to shut your gob, listen, and say, "that's f**king brilliant".

Buy - Cocteau Twins CDs (Amazon)
Buy - Cocteau Twins music (4AD)
Watch - Cocteau Twins (YouTube)
Visit - Cocteau Twins (wiki)
Visit - Cocteau Twins (site)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

latest news from planet jazz

When I learnt that the new album by our favourite (and oft-mentioned) jazz trio The Bad Plus would feature a vocalist, there was much head-scratching 'round Domino towers. Having followed them for a while and having seen the perilous liberties they take in performance, my initial worries were that the presence of a vocalist would tie them too closely to any song structure. Plus, I feared for the sanity and health of the vocalist involved.

Also, The Bad Plus have been in constant danger of painting themselves into a corner as "that jazz band that does 'wacky' interpretations of 'popular' songs" ever since they first appeared - something that's not helped by the inclusion of tracks originally performed by Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips and Wilco.

But as they rightly pointed out in a recent Radio 3 feature, hasn't taking liberties with popular song been part of jazz since the very start? And there are only so many interpretations of 'Stella By Starlight' that anyone needs.

Anyhoo, it turns out that For All I Care is the most completely satisfying set from the band since Give in 2004 (so much so, that it's really tricky pulling off a couple of tracks for this post).

Surprisingly, hearing the band with a vocalist really works. Wendy Lewis' vocals are warm and throaty and she never tries to compete with the band's pyrotechnics by indulging in skwee-bo scat-singing - rather, she is the calm centre that's sometimes missing from their more out-there improvisational workouts, holding it down and underlining the original material, allowing the band to go their own merry way.

Which is just what they do here - watch out for those tricky shifts into 6/8!

The Bad Plus with Wendy Lewis - Lithium (Nirvana)


Particularly love the way they swagger through the shouty chorus and the pregnant pauses at around the 2.40 mark.

It's not all Now That's What I Call a Wacky Jazz Cover, however - half of the set is taken up with some great interpretations of 20th Century Classical pieces. Their versions come out sounding not unlike The Bad Plus at their prettiest ("Flim" from These Are The Vistas, "Giant" from Prog) - excellent stuff.

The Bad Plus - Variations d'Apollon (Stravinsky)

I guess their point is that music is music - don't box me in, friend.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

cream puffs and bourbon

Not a track from a compilation tape this time, but a recent CD from my dear brother Ox. The perfect audio thank-you for any particularly outstanding party hosts from the recent festive season.

Ween - Your Party 

The thing I love about this track is how pitch-perfect everything about it is. The language is spot-on throughout - "beverages", "candy", "spices", "platters" and of course "the wife", all delivered in a consciously refined accent. But to really nail the sweet party atmosphere, the track features guest Sax by archetypal radio-friendly smooth jazzer, David Sanborn. Love it.

Buy - La Cucaracha by Ween
Visit - Ween