Monday, 28 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: The Beach Boys - 'Do It Again'

So during one of my recent charity shop vinyl searches I cam across a vinyl copy of 'L.A (Light Album') by the BEACH BOYS, an album I'm not familiar with which I knew would be well worth the purchase and to add to my increasing collection of Beach Boys LPs. So after getting home I decided to play it, but after about 3 or 4 tracks I decided this definitely wasn't their finest moment and the band were without a doubt past their peak at the time. I will however definitely revisit this record and listen to it in full. So here is one of their better moments, a song that used to bring much pleasure when played on my Beach Boys 'Greatest Hits' LP when I started investigating them further in the late 90s. 'Do It Again' isn't as one-dimensional as their early material, but it does bring to mind those exciting old surf vibes. 

REVIEW: Frankie And The Heartstrings - 'Hunger'

So here's a hotly tipped new band that a lot of people seem to be talking about, and here is their debut album 'Hunger'. This reached number 32 in the UK album chart, possibly something to do with the CD being on sale for £4.99, something most other new albums don't benefit from. The album starts nicely enough with 'Photograph', its bright jangly riff and slightly geeky lyrics setting a template for most other FATH's tracks. 'Ungrateful' is possibly the best track on the album, where the repetition doesn't get too annoying and where the rather pleasant tune settles on a backdrop similar to 'Station to Station'-era Bowie and also a bit like Orange Juice, which is understandable considering the album is produced by indie legend Edwyn Collins, who was of course the lead singer of the aforementioned band.

The recent single and title track 'Hunger' with it's lively "woah woah" backing vocals is also great, and becomes utterly infectious after hearing it just a few times. 'Possibilities' is even more upbeat and like a lot of the album has influences from the more squeaky clean British rock n stars from the late 50s, as well as that little bit of geekyness that i mentioned before. One band that springs to mind is Hefner, the vocals are definitely not far removed from that of Darren Hayman and some of that band's quirky, humble and intentionally charming indie traits are also similar to the material Frankie And The Heartstrings present here, except Hefner always came across as more intelligent. But over the course of a whole album, the vocals start to become a bit of a nuisance and the lyrics increasingly uninspired as the constant niceness begins to grate.

'Fragile' begins with a pleasant Mary Chain-esque guitar intro but as soon as the vocals arrive, it is spoiled by boring, directionless lyrics. 'Tender' is more and more annoying with every listen, and gives the impression that they couldn't be bothered with even attempting to write passable lyrics... "i'll be yours and you'll be mine, i'll feed you milk, i'll give you wine"? Bollocks. 'That Postcard' has a catchy little riff, but again is a victim of weak songwriting. 'It's Obvious' is a bit of an improvement where they dip into a bit of smart and slightly jagged funk, carrying it off for a while before you realise the track really isn't going anywhere, ending in a hurried awkward mess. 'Want You Back' is more impressive, with some lovely brass lighting up a heartfelt, jaunty piece of soul that at 3 minutes doesn't overstay its welcome. Final track 'Don't Look Surprised' sounds like a rougher-round-the-edges relative of 'Mr Brightside' by The Killers and closes the album quite nicely, but again the vocals do whinge on a bit and the songwriting is nothing spectacular.

So definitely not deserving of some of the hype, but a likeable enough album of fun, inoffensive and slighly nerdy indie pop. 'Photograph', 'Ungrateful, 'Hunger' and 'Want You Back' are definitely the stand out moments on an album filled with way too many moments that come across as a bit half arsed and rather lightweight. 5.9/10

REVIEW: Gruff Rhys - 'Hotel Shampoo'

Ever since I got a copy of the 'Play It Cool' CD single back in 1997, the Super Furry Animals were a band who fascinated me. Their colourful and slightly odd sounds made them like the mad scientists of late 90s indie. But by 2003 I had gone off them a bit, as I thought their 6th album 'Phantom Power' was disappointing (apart from the awesome 'Slow Life') and I thought their best was behind them. Then I spent the next five years or so shunning my old indie favorites as I became obsessed with punk, ska and psychobilly. So it's been nearly 8 years since I last explored any new music from the Super Furries, with the band putting out quite a few albums during that time AND singer GRUFF RHYS releasing solo material..... so here is his second solo album 'Hotel Shampoo', and a perfect opportunity for me to bring myself up to date with this guy's music.

Opening track 'Shark Ridden Waters' is an excellent start, defying genres and leaving you wondering what other mad style splicing is in store over the course of the album. The charming 'Honey All Over' brings out sumptuous Beach Boys flavours while the joyfully cheeky single 'Sensations In The Dark' picks things up with its increasingly catchy hooks and playfulness. 'Vitamin K' is another lovely Brian Wilson-esque piece, nicely understated and with pleasing contrasts between the sad and the joyous. 'Take A Sentence' is also nice, with its humble trumpet, charming strings and another one of those divine melodies. 

However by track 6 things drop off a bit with the rather unremarkable 'Conservation Conversation' and in another bit of trying to be clever with wordplay, there's 'Sophie Softly', which has some nice 'Pet Sounds'-like arrangements as well as a gorgeous outro, but should've been left as an instrumental. At first the rather mental hip hop northern soul of 'Christopher Columbus' sounds great, but as well as being ridiculously repetitive (not in a good way) the chorus is a let down and has the air of an unsuccessful novelty song. 'Space Dust #2' is a duet with Swedish singer El Perro Del Mar that interests with it's quirky lounge jazz stylings, but isn't one of 'Hotel Shampoo''s better moments. 

But with the final four tracks we get redemption.... 'At The Heart Of Love' is as good as anything Gruff's ever done, matching a harmonious melody with a gloriously downplayed piano and string arrangement, it would've fitted in perfectly on 'Rings Around The World' or maybe even 1997's 'Radiator'. And the feeling, sound and quality of early Super Furry Animals continues with 'Patterns Of Power', a straight forward pleasure beginning with one of those weird guitar sounds similar to those on 'Fuzzy Logic' and a completely random disco interlude that takes place where you'd expect the traditional guitar solo to be. Gruff is really good at writing beautiful, understated moments of reflection, and 'If We Were Words We Would Rhyme' is a perfect example of that, delivering it with a sweet hint of double bass and pedal steel. The album ends just as brilliantly as it started with 'Rubble Rubble', an unusual and beautiful little ballad, with drum machines and dreamy synth sounds accompanying Gruff as he again sounds like the current holder of that gift for melody that once belonged to the Beach Boys

So definitely not a perfect album, although it starts and ends brilliantly. Neither is it an album that treads new ground or breaks boundaries, however at times it manages to turn odd sounds into perfectly accessible almost traditional songs, while the more straight forward moments sound very well written indeed. There are a few weak points, but I have a skip button on my CD player and I'm prepared to use it, because when the songs are good they're more than worth a listen.

Looking forward to the Super Furry Animals returning at some point, but until then this'll do just nicely.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: I Am Kloot - 'Northern Skies'

From last year's excellent 'Sky At Night', here is an absolutely timeless song from Manchestrer trio I Am Kloot. I remember having this on my mp3 player while on holiday last summer... Newquay 2010 was my first holiday as an adult, my first since i was 13 AND better still I was spending it in the UK's nicest holiday destination, the place where me and my family used to spend our summers years ago. So on the last night of my holiday took myself and this song to a grassy clifftop overlooking Porth Beach at midnight, and watched the moon reflect on the calming sea. And the lyric "take the coast road back through my life" made for an even more perfect marriage of music and atmosphere.

And while that ideal scene may always be my personal visualisation of this track, here's the actual video fir it which I haven't seen before, starring former Dr Who, Christopher Eccleston. If you like this i URGE you to buy the album, it's a cracker....

Saturday, 26 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Link Wray - 'The Wild One'

So on a visit to the same charity shop i went to yesterday, i had more time to search through the other records, and what goods i found! A vinyl copy of 'The Great Rock N Roll Swindle', an Elvis box set and in the charity shop across the road i found a CD... another soundtrack one. This time the soundtrack to the ill fated TV adaption of 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', the soundtrack of which looked far better than the series. And as well as lots of good stuff (varied too) there are some shit moments... however THIS is genius... a nice slice of surf guitar from an artist who until now has remained completely unknown to me, who somehow managed to make a 60's surf classic in the year 1990.....

Friday, 25 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Roger McGuinn - 'Ballad Of Easy Rider'

Anyone who knows me knows that I am notoriously fussy about films... most of them fail to capture my attention for long periods of time, but EASY RIDER was a film that pleased me to a great degree. Its soundtrack was awesome too, and while most people remember it for Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild', here is a wonderful track that perfectly captures the free spirit of the movie... While on a random charity shop expedition I found a vinyl copy of songs from the film's soundtrack and this sounds utterly sublime, as does the rest of it..... The song was written by Roger McGuinn with input from Bob Dylan (although Dylan is not credited as a co-writer) for the 1969 film. It was later issued in an alternate version as a single by McGuinn's band The Byrds on October 1, 1969.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Blur - 'Blue Jeans'

So according to Graham CoxonBLUR are continuing to meet up and record new songs. 
However he said that we shouldn't expect to hear anything soon. 

Personally I think they'll release another new track for this years Record Store Day in April like they did last year. We'll have to wait and see.
In the meantime here's a much underrated track from 1993's 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' album....

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: James Brown - 'The Payback'

I first discovered this kickass funk treasure in the late 90s after buying a CD called 'Essential Soundtracks', released by FilmFour. A great collection. 

Perhaps my favorite finding from that album was this classic from JAMES BROWN, which led to me buying the stunning album 'The Payback' soon afterwards. The 1973 double album was originally scheduled to become the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film 'Hell Up in Harlem', but was rejected by the film's producers. 

Despite Brown's legendary standing in musical history, it was Brown's only album to be certified gold.

... and a superb live version....

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Primal Scream - 'Slip Inside This House'

So the reissue of Primal Scream's legendary 'Screamadelica' album is out soon, along with the band playing the LP in its entirity at various venues up and down the UK... after hearing them play it at a London gig broadcast on radio, this was the only song they made a mess of.... this is how it should sound.

Personally I think 1997's 'Vanishing Point' was their best... there will be an in depth feature on it soon, and how it inspired me to expand my musical choices...

Track Of The Day: Doyle And The Fourfathers - 'The Governor of Giving Up'

The Southampton-based band's debut album 'Man Made' is out next week and I'm looking forward to hearing it.... 

Certainly a great new band and definitely one to watch out for.

Recommended for February 2011

Some old... mostly new. A list of tracks I have recently discovered throughout the early part of 2011 and compiled onto my own little mixtape type thing. Well an mp3 disc to be precise, but you get the idea. Why not do the same thing? 

Small Engine Repair - Fall Down At Your Feet
Denuo - Wolf River
Tame Impala - Why Wont You Make Up Your Mind - Erol Alkan Remix
The Son (s) - Radar
Plank! - Pig Sick (remix)
The Milk - (I Only Wanted) Danger
The Sketches - My Fathers Son
Andy Human — Center Of Gravity
D-Bridge — Detuned Heart
The Babies — Sunset
Dr Strangeloop - Strangeloop Utopia
Auction - Statues
Moon Duo - Mazes
City And The Blisters - We Are The Others
Ian M. Hale - In The Hour Of Need
Viva Voce - From The Devil Himself
Shogun Kunitoki — Holvikirkko
Parts And Labor — Fake Names
Mungo's Hi-Fi — Everyman Dub
The Boxer Rebellion — Step Out Of The Car

Track Of The Day: Sketches - 'My Father's Son'

Sketches are new band from Leeds who are sounding very promising indeed. 

'My Father's Son' is a wonderful track and hopefully we'll hear plenty more of this quality from this lot. 

Their website can be found at

UPDATE 2014: "hopefully we'll hear plenty more of this quality from this lot". Sadly they split in 2013. download what would have been their debut album:

Track Of The Day: Tom Williams And The Boat - 'Get Older'

One thing I am loving at the moment is the raucous dark folk of 'Get Older' by Tom Williams And The Boat

The new album 'Too Slow' is out next week and needless to say I'm ordering my copy.

In the meantime check out 'Get Older' and if you like this then at least think about buying the album....

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Levellers - 2009

Pictures of UK folk-rock icons the Levellers. These pictures were taken at the Cheese And Grain in Frome during a July 2009 gig, and some at Bristol Academy back in November 2009. For videos from the Bristol gig go HERE...

REVIEW: Beady Eye - 'Different Gear, Still Speeding'

A lot of people are going to slag off this record. A lot of them will have already decided they don't like it before they've even heard it, because it's uncool to like Oasis now. Because they were the biggest band in the world. And it's certainly not cool to like Beady Eye, because they are basically Oasis minus the man who wrote 'Live Forever', 'Cast No Shadow' and every single other song that made Oasis the biggest band in the world in the first place. And people are going to moan about this group because they just make retro rock n roll, sing blunt lyrics, and don't experiment or push the boundaries in imaginative ways or make clever innovative, cutting edge sounds. But if I want to hear imaginative new genres I'd know not to turn to this group, because there are other bands who provide that sort of thing and I can choose to listen to them if and when I wish. But when I have an appetite for simple and direct rock n roll, a group like Beady Eye are badly needed in this day and age.

Oasis changed my life. There were other bands that I liked before, but Oasis were at the forefront of Britpop, the scene that put me on the right path. A path that connected to many other great genres that i wouldn't have discovered if there wasn't a big musical phenomenon like Britpop in the mid 90s to start me off with..... Just imagine if Britpop didn't happen, there wouldn't have been an easy way of me hearing and discovering decent bands as a 10 year old kid..... the mainstream would've just been crap like it is now, and I could've been unfortunate enough to grow up listening to pop, hip hop or (shudder to think of it) RnB!!! I was so lucky to have grown up with Oasis leading the way for British music and making us proud to be British again during a golden era. And perhaps because of my many fond memories linked to that band, i actually shed tears the night in 2009 when I heard Noel had left and there was no more Oasis.

Maybe it did happen at the right moment, they'd just released 'Dig Out Your Soul' (which by the way I think was a GREAT record) and were once again at a peak, and maybe the only way they could've gone is back downhill like they did in the early 2000s. And maybe this was an opportunity to separate Liam, Gem and Andy's songs from Noel's, so they wouldn't forever be overshadowed by Noel's 'proper Oasis songs'. 

Between them the three of them were responsible for 'Love Like A Bomb', 'Keep The Dream Alive', 'Soldier On', 'The Meaning Of Soul', 'I Believe In All' and 'Pass Down The Wine'... all great Oasis songs, as good as a lot of the things Noel could write.

So with the immediate formation of a new group in the wake of the Oasis split, this was going to be rather interesting to see how Oasis would sound like without their guitarist and songwriter. With a fresh start and a lot to prove, Beady Eye's debut album is sometimes the sound of rejuvenation, although definitely not a big change in sound.

The album gets off to the best start possible with the terrific 'Four Letter Word', the most alive and dangerous Liam has sounded in ages. Recalling the vibe and attitude of 'Morning Glory' or 'Up In The Sky' and perhaps the most interesting lyrics on the record... "you've had enough, it feels like you've blown a 50 amp fuse, it's gonna be tough, the more you have the more you can lose" maybe a reference to what happened on that night in Paris when Oasis finally came to an explosive end? But the sound and vibe of this record is one of carrying on as well as leaving the past behind and relishing the future with excitement.... "It's not what you wanted, it might be just what you need". 'Four Letter Word' sets the tone for the album perfectly, as it evokes a sense of living for the moment and being truly fearless.

And the good quality continues with the upbeat 'Millionaire', which bounces along nicely with an almost folky acoustic riff, but by the third track they hit a major bump. I first heard about 'The Roller' about ten years ago in an Oasis interview, described as "Instant Karma played by T Rex'  and obviously not considered good enough for inclusion on the last 3 Oasis albums. But here it is at last, and perhaps because I'd heard their description of it years before I knew what to expect. Don't get me wrong, 'The Roller' would be an absolutely legendary song if Lennon hadn't already written 'Instant Karma' years before, but that is not the case and the track represents a disappointingly weak pastiche. 'Beatles And Stones' is also a bit naff, despite hearing it many many times now... I don't mind the 'My Generation' aping riff, I just think singing about standing the test of time "like Beatles and Stones" is just too obvious.

But afterwards, the album picks up again with four of the album's most memorable moments... 'Wind Up Dream' is a bit like the Stones with a psychedelic swagger, and 'Bring The Light' is simply an enjoyable riot, fuelled by pumping piano and a no-nonsense urgency. 'For Anyone' is a lovely song with a warm charm to it and a sweet melody that recalls 'Help!' era Beatles. 'Kill For A Dream' follows it, and is perhaps the most anthemic track on the record, reflective, hopeful and beautiful.

But after these brilliant moments, we have to suffer one last unnecessary flaw, 'Standing On The Edge Of The Noise'. Sounding like Status Quo with an overenthusiastic keyboardist, and the sort of crappy pub rock that would've been rejected from 'Be Here Now' for being too hollow, you wonder why they even bothered putting it on the album. But after this we get the defiant swagger 'Three Ring Circus' which is one hell of a tune. Style-wise however, not much of a departure from the past.

'Wigwam' is rather unusual though, a joyous, slightly spaced-out epic that wouldn't actually sound anything like Oasis if you removed Liam's vocals. The beautiful psychedelica continues with 'The Beat Goes On', Liam singing about reaching the gates of heaven before realising he is actually still alive. And 'Different Gear, Still Speeding' comes to a close with 'The Morning Son', a nice introspective way to end the record with glistening acoustic guitars, dreamy strings and great sounding vocal reverb that builds into a beautiful landscape of sound.

So the debut album from Beady Eye isn't perfect, it's just frustrating how great it could've been if they removed the three tracks that really weren't needed. the album would've still been a healthy 10 tracks long, and would've made for a far more consistent piece of work. However, miss out these songs and you have a very strong album that gets better with every listen. Running through a few of these songs is a strong sense of belief and confidence, Gallagher telling the world he doesn't need to rely on anyone and proving that he is indestructible. You can tell he truly believes in these songs and where he's moving to musically. And no matter how bad terms the brothers are on, I think Noel would be proud of how far Liam has come as a songwriter in the last decade.

I'll give the album 6.9 out of 10, it would've got at least an 8 with the appropriate editing.
Now it's over to you Noel.

Monday, 21 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: The Fall - 'Big New Prinz'

Twenty eight studio albums, lots of singles and EPs and countless compilations... The Fall's Mark E Smith is a prolific genius, and that's to say the least. Here from 1988's 'I Am Kurious Oranj' is 'Big New Prinz'... A classic. I bought that particular album after Lee And Herring included a character called The Curious Orange in their silly Sunday morning TV show 'This Morning With Richard Not Judy'. But I first heard The Fall when I bought the 'Touch Sensitive' single in the late 90's, becoming a fan when hearing a live version of 'Psycho Mafia' on the John Peel show in 2000.

And here's a live version of 'Big New Prinz' from 'The Other Side Of Midnight', a late 80's TV show presented by Tony Wilson.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: The Vines - 'Factory (Original Demo)'

Back in the early 2000s, I remember hearing about a new group called THE VINES and recall buying a 7" copy of a song I had never heard before, on the strength of the NME's hype.... and this gritty demo version of 'Factory' was the A side of that 7".

Forwards to the present day and the band are releasing a new album 'Future Primitive', their fifth, in April. 

Until then enjoy this... it has a rawness and an enjoyably rowdy charm much more appealing than the version that ended up on the debut album, which went platinum in Australia back in 2003. 

The Vines originally formed as Rishikesh in 1994 in Sydney. They play a musical hybrid of 1960s garage rock and 1990s alternative music. 


Imagine a lo-fi shaded Teenage Fanclub with flavours of Husker Du, The Smiths and Pavement... sometimes a little bit like Ash if they used the guitars more thoughtfully.... And little hints of a more melodic My Bloody Valentine played by a British shoegaze version of Sonic Youth and that's a bit like what this incredibly strong debut from Yuck sounds like. For me, wonderfully easy to listen to the first time and on the 2nd play it really made an impression. Lo-fi basslines and reverb-soaked guitars blend with gritty harmonies and joyful melodies that catch the ear with ease. For example check out THAT simple but powerfully melodic guitar bit towards the end of 'The Wall' as you realise this song is something more than worthy of a few listens.

'Shook Down' gives you that same sort of vibe that Teenage Fanclub do when they're at their best, sometimes even recalling the melodic charm of mid-90's era Boo Radleys. 'Rose Gives A Lilly' is slighly reminiscent of Mogwai, which demonstrates the maturity this group can already be capable of. But despite sometimes sounding like those bands, for a British guitar group from London it can be at times amazing how un-British they sometimes sound, yet the music still comes across as completely natural. With their distorted basslines and inspired use of guitars, the sound is influenced by late 80's/early 90's shoegaze bands more than any other British based genre. And unlike a lot of groups influenced by that sound, not only are Yuck hugely tuneful, but also nice and varied, their sound drifting from sweet acoustic bliss ('Suicide Policeman') to what sounds a little like the Pixies playing The Cure ('Georgia') and then to muddy slow paced drone-grunge ('Rubber').

So that's all the comparisons and the pigeonholing out of the way, now go and hear for yourselves just how good this band are....

And what is also striking for a debut album is how cool they sound, totally at ease and sounding like none of these songs were a struggle in the slightest. It obviously comes naturally to them.

And it gets a rating of a very respectable 8.3/10

That could grow with repeated listens.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Jarvis Cocker - 'Cunts Are Still Running The World'

So a few months ago it was announced that PULP were to reform... seeing as Pulp split up around about the same time i started listening to nothing but punk for a few years, I missed out first time round on the solo material  JARVIS COCKER released. So last week i decided better late than never to buy a copy of his debut solo album 'Jarvis' on Rough Trade records, and although I've only had time to play it once it still sounds rather good, although a few moments let it down from the very first listen... but THIS track is definitely not a let down. Just as the last track on the CD has finished I started to realise the time was continuing and that there was something hidden after the final track. So after 30 minutes or so, in comes this song and in comes a sense of satisfaction knowing this album was definitely worth the money.....

Friday, 18 February 2011

OPINION: The day Radiohead made the music world go crazy....

These days it's so hard for bands to attract attention when they release albums, when the TV and radio is dominated with celebrity crap, hardly any news gets through, and when it does (like in the case of Mumford and Sons) it takes a lot of word of mouth and a lot of luck. It's very difficult for new bands to attract mainstream publicity, but what about bands that are already big? Even bigger acts are struggling to get exposure in the mainstream these days....

The days of people queuing outside record shops to get their hands on albums has long gone (except on Record Store Day of course). I remember the hysteria surrounding the release of Oasis' 'Be Here now' in 1997.... months of build up and rumours, then a hugely hyped publicity campaign steeped in anticipation before the album was released on a Thursday rather than a Monday. And of course this was in the days before an album would leak on the internet weeks before it hit the shops, so all the record-buying public had heard was the single and 4 other tracks played on the Evening Session. I remember the morning of Be Here Now, when i queued outside HMV to buy the album and stood at the till queue with every other person in the line clutching a copy of the same record. It was truly a national event... one of the main stories on the BBC News and it even made that day's front page of The Sun.... and I still have from HMV my 'Commemorative Certificate' to mark the fact that i bought the new Oasis album on this musically historic day.

Days like that are now long gone. No chance of any band being able to get masses of people up and down the country queuing outside shops excited to own their new CD. So how does a band create such mass hysteria amongst music fans in the year 2011?

Radiohead have the right idea. Proving that not only is this a band completely in control of their music, but also completely in control of the way in which it is distributed. They felt like their was "no reason to hold it back another day because everything was ready to go", so they decided to leak the album themselves a day early.

When the news that the album was coming a day earlier broke at about 10am this morning, the internet went into overload. Word quickly spread amongst not only Radiohead's massive fanbase but also music bloggers and journalists to create a wave of excitement... the top 'trending' topic on Twitter was #thekingoflimbs and within hours news of this album was everywhere.... when the first few copies of the album were made available to download, music bloggers like myself were quick to be one of the first to have their say on this record. In fact over the course of today my review of 'The King Of Limbs' has attracted a record-breaking number of visitors to this blog ('record breaking' in terms of this blog's stats anyway)

And all day BBC 6Music won't go more than half an hour without at least one mention of Radiohead, and the new tracks have been playing throughout the day.

I myself have heard the album in full FOUR times now as i write this, and i have resisted giving it anymore plays since about lunchtime because i can tell this is definitely an album that is best listened to through a good pair of headphones, late at night, with no distractions. And quite a few times too. So in a few hours that is what will be done. Then after repeating this process a few times, I can then give the record a proper analysis. For now, read my first impressions of the album HERE.

SONG FOR TODAY: The Decemberists - 'January Hymn'

So in amongst all the Radiohead-mania of today (18th Feb 2011), I suppose we'd better not forget that other bands also exist. 

So from one of the finest albums I've heard in recent times, here's THE DECEMBERISTS with 'January Hymn'. 

The fine LP 'The King Is Dead' is out now in all good record shops and online retailers.

REVIEW: Radiohead - 'The King Of Limbs'

Have i got here first? The new RADIOHEAD album 'King Of Limbs' is startling that's for sure. But at this point I can't decide if it's startling in a good or bad way. Beginning with the distinctly avant-garde 'Bloom' and its weird percussion that sounds a bit like a broken train running across ruined tracks, the first track certainly doesn't ease you into the experimental sound of this album gently. Right from the start you can tell this is not going to be a return to the straight forward indie rock of old. 'Lotus Flower' is probably as accessible as this record gets, with an infectious bassline, some dusty beats and claps, along with Thom's hypnotic vocals and what is possibly the only chorus on this album. 'Morning Mr Magpie' finally gets a release, and a complete makeover, with awkward jittery beats rendering it almost unrecognizable from the acosutic track they have played live in recent years. 'Little By Little' is a bit more reminiscent of the last album 'In Rainbows', and the sound a marriage of the 'old' Radiohead (guitars and pretty melodies) and the 'weird' Radiohead (synths, beats, electronics, robot vocals) of the last decade or so, while 'Feral' is a glitchy, bizarre almost-instrumental that almost dips into techno territory.

'Codex' however is classic Radiohead, pleasing with a deep, emotive piano sound coupled with a slow pulse beat and that's before we get to 'Give Up The Ghost', where the acoustic guitars finally come out along with plenty of sweeping effects and odd synth noises. Very pretty. The album is closed with 'Seperator', which again sacrifices the traditional rock sound for very organised sampled drum loops and minimal guitar, but Thom's singing gives it a more human quality. From my first listen this sounds inventive and interesting, but initially very difficult. It's going to take quite a few plays that's for sure.

Another daring leap forward? This time I'm not too sure. But it's certain that Radiohead are still doing their own thing. A difficult, awkward and uncompromising thing that I can only give first impressions of at this early stage rather than a definitive "review".

More thoughts on this album soon, I might update this review throughout the next few days to include my thoughts on the record after a few more plays, because it's definitely not something you can judge from a couple of listens. 8/10

Thursday, 17 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Richard Hawley - 'Open Up Your Door'

I only woke up to the music of the great Richard Hawley recently... I had heard his name mentioned lots of times before and knew that he was in the Longpigs as well as having a brief association with Pulp. After hearing a track called 'The Sea Calls' on 6Music, i was moved to get a copy of his 'Lady's Bridge' album, and what fine listening it made too. A fine songwriter, Hawley could also possibly be described as a 21st century crooner. This track is from 2009's 'Truelove's Gutter'......

PREVIEW: Foo Fighters - 'Wasting Light'

Wasting Light is the seventh album from the FOO FIGHTERS, their first in four years. Released on April 12 2011, this record marks the return of guitarist Pat Smear and is also produced by Butch Vig who of course was responsible for Nirvana's 'Nevermind'.

The album isn't out for a while but the group have been performing tracks live during recent shows, and videos have been flying around YouTube. So here is 'Wasting Light' played live in its entirity:

1. Bridge Burning 


3. Dear Rosemary

4. White Limo

5. Arlandria

6. These Days

7. Back And Forth

8. A Matter Of Time

9. Miss The Misery/ 10. I Should Have Known

10. Walk

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Suede - 'Everything Will Flow'

So soon a reformed Suede will be performing their first 3 albums in full once again, but this means that material from 1999's 'Head Music' and 2002's 'A New Morning' won't be getting an airing. 'Head Music' was often Suede going way too far, and the sound of a band musically uncertain. However it had a few incredible moments, the best of these being this. 

A shadowy, elegantly mysterious beauty from the messy 1999 album, the gorgeous 'Everything Will Flow' found its way into the singles chart back in 1999 when it was released as the album's third single in September of that year. I peaked at number 24. Interestingly, it was also the second and final song by the group to chart in the U.S., peaking at No. 28 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. Dance?!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

SONG FOR TODAY: Haven - 'Say Something'

I remember owning Haven's debut album 'Between The Senses' back in 2002, and re-buying it last week after becoming gladly re-acquainted with this particular song. Great song, plaintive and beautifully emotive. maybe this band would've been huge if they appeared in the mid 90s and had a more consistent album. 

So here we go, seek out the album if you like this because at least 3 other tracks from it are also great but a whole album of these same vocals and very similar sounding songs lacking any variety whatsoever do render 'Between the Senses' as a fairly run of the mill indie album. This song though is awesome. A second album was released in 2004, but the band split a year later.