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Saturday, 3rd February 2007

All my musical chatter will be posted on my indie mp3 blog 'Song, by Toad' from now on.

Friday, 18th August 2006

Mediocre Indie makes me cross - In recent months there have been an awful lot of heralded young rock groups who are just plain shit. The NME gets over-excited, singles are released, gigs sell out and once the recorded music actually sees the light of day it slowly dawns on everyone: 'my gosh, these lot really aren't very good at all, are they? They're not even as splendidly mediocre as the latest Red Hot Chilli Peppers album.' And then we all move on to lionise some other shite new emerging group as if they'd never existed.
I have been conned into buying so many really, really poor albums recently on the strength of the building excitement of the music press, so I thought it was time to name and shame the fuckers, just in case people thought my loathing was reserved for the Katie Meluas of this world, well no, there are albums and albums worth of tortured, emotive fucking dismal indie music out there that drive me nuts. Behold the wall of shame:

The Dismal Indie Wall Of Shame:
We Are Scientists - and we are SHIT!
The Feeling - The only feeling I get from this lot is that dawning realisation that we are being had, once more. These people make me envy that copper in Reservoir Dogs who got his ear cut off.
The Kooks - Like the bastard offspring of Maroon 5 and The Delays - two of the worst, limpest, emptiest, gayest examples of pop garbage I have heard for years. Yuck.
The Automatic - had a bit more of a go than the others but ultimately produced nothing more than a couple of mediocre radio singles. Why did they even bother if they were going to be this ordinary?
Forward Russia - ANY band with stupid fucking punctuation in the name is bound to be dire - see Stellastarr* for proof. In fact, I think that every time a band puts stupid punctuation in their album title or in their name then god bludgeons a kitten to death with a corpse of an aborted foetus. I know this is true, I looked it up.
Kasabian - Apparentlythey reckon there are songs on this album 'so good only Kasabian could have written them'. Whilst I do not want to dispute the accuracy of this claim I am fairly certain they actually intended it as a compliment when they said it. Perhaps this is because they are a big, wriggling bag of cunts.

.

New things, new things - I am rather looking forward to these...

The Dears
Gang of Losers

Having heard a stray track from this album and not liking it terribly I am a little nervous this mightn't be all I want it to be, but I'm still looking forward to it.

The Killers
Sam's Town

Let's face it, how can this measure up to the anthemic joy of the previous effort? But I really hope they give it a good go.

James Yorkston & the Athletes
The Year of the Leopard

I get to see him play at Bestival in a month or so and I'm really looking forward to it. One of the most prominent members of the excellent Fence Collective, since his last album Mr Yorkston has become one of my favourite artists,

Bob Dylan
Modern Times

I don't know what to expect here, but Uncut reckon it's excellent and ol' Bob seems to be undergoing something of a renaissance these days, so it all sounds good to me.

 

 

Wednesday, 21st June 2006

Greetings Tunesters - It's a bit of a thin time for music at the moment, with not too much coming out in the immediate future. There as been some excellent stuff recently though, with superb releases by The Raconteurs and Dirty Pretty Things. The reviews section includes all this stuff as well as stuff by Bruce Springsteen, Adem, The Fiery Furnaces, My Latest Novel and others. Click here...

It's that time of year, once again...

T on the Fringe - Edinburgh 2006 - I love this part of living in Edinburgh. Most of the year the onl decent gigs to be found involve repeated travel back and forth to Glasgow which, with all due respect to the city, is a tremendous chore.

For one month only, however, the tables turn and all sorts of excellent groups come and play in Edinburgh as part of the Festival Fringe. This year is pretty much the best year yet in terms of lineup, and I shall be attending loads of them: Richard Hawley, Euros Childs, Dirty Pretty Things, The Raconteurs, The Fratellis, Plan B, Regina Spektor and Maximo Park.

For a full line up click on the icon left, or here...


New things, new things - I am rather looking forward to these...

Grant Lee Phillips
Nineteeneighties

I absolutely loved Mobilize and Virginia Creeper, so there is no way I am letting this one pass me by. Most excited!

Divine Comedy
Victory For the Comic Muse

I haven't been impressed by Hannon's output for a while now, although there were some excellent songs on Absent Friends. I'll probably end up buying this one, but I can't say it's with unbounded optimism.

The Sleepy Jackson
Personality - One Was A Spider etc..

Lovers was a superb album, but the video they've released hasn't really stirred my marmalade. I'll give it a spin though.

 

 

Monday, 8th May 2006

Salutations once more - Plenty of excellent tuneage at the moment. I have been to four gigs of consistently high quality, and jotted down some witterings about a few recent albums at long last.

Albums recently reviewed include:
Howe Gelb hops the gospel bandwagon with Sno Angel Like You; Calexico take another small step towards the mainstream with Garden Ruin; The Flaming Lips are shite; and Neko Case is not half bad. To read the reviews, click here...

And of course, there were the gigs...
Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Glasgow University Union Debating Chambers I generally don't like many female-fronted groups, but Jenny Lewis was every bit the indie goddess. Plenty of charisma, easy on the eye indeed, and between her and the Watsons there were three absolutely fantastic female voices to enjoy. Things got better as the gig progressed from pitch-perfect renditions of album tracks, to more and more esoteric gospel-tinged obscurata, and a couple of superb new songs.
Kudos also to Jonathan Rice, who opened and played in Jenny's band - his songs were superb and although he seemed a little shy at times on-stage, his wit and warmth impressed pretty much everyone. First class stuff.
The Fiery Furnaces - Glasgow, ABC2 Eccentric fiddling about be buggered, this lot rock live! The songs were completely different to any recognisable album version, which was excellent, and the new stuff sounded superb. Roll on the next album.
The Eighteenth Day of May - Glasgow, ABC2 There was hardly anyone there, but in the excellent style of a Glasgow audience they made a heck of a racket. A really good performance, and one very promising new song from the promised second album.
Willard Grant Conspiracy - Glasgow, ABC2 Oh yes indeed, they were excellent. Robert Fisher's must be my favourite voice in rock at this point and doesn't it sound mighty fine live. They closed with the epic, wild, Let It Roll - a great evening.

Just a note about sound guys: Not withstanding my brother Ben's professional views I have two contrasting experiences. Jenny Lewis's sound guy at the Glasgow Uni gig got things wrong at the start but adjusted very fast. The Willards played the ABC2, which is a professional venue and their sound muppet had to be told what to do (ie: more vocals, please) by Robert Fisher about three songs into the set. And only then did things improve. Retard.

New things, new things - I am rather looking forward to these...

Jolie Holland
Springtime Can Kill You

Jolie Holland is all the things Norah Jones and the like wish they were. And I'm seeing her live in Glasgow in a month or so. Woo hoo!

The Raconteurs
Broken Boy Soldiers

Jack White can be a bit weird and Brendan Benson can tend towards the bland, so god knows what we're in for with this album. The initial reviews have been fairly promising though.

The Futureheads
News & Tributes

Not sure what to expect of this album at all, but their last one just kept on improving the more I listened to it.

The Fiery Furnaces
Bitter Tea

After my rather brief review of their last album, you may wonder why I am bothering with this one. But they were excellent live and some of the new songs sound rather promising. So I might as well give it a go.

 

 

Monday, 10th April 2006

Greetings - There's not a lot of new stuff in the reviews section this time as I've not had a chance to really absorb a lot of the new albums yet, but there is an indication of what will be coming shortly. I have had a chance to write about:
The Proposition - Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' rather simmering soundtrack to the film of the same name.
Willard Grant Conspiracy - Let It Roll. They really are just ace, aren't they!

What I have done recently is attend a lot of gigs, with quite a few more to come. The Decemberists and Clem Snide were excellent, but that was a few months ago. More recently I've seen Micah P Hinson and Belle & Sebastian through in Glasgow. Micah was excellent - ragged and raw and intense - but B&S were a bit disappointing. All you really got was an immaculate run through of their songs, which you can hear on any album. Personally I prefer a bit more from a live show - slightly different arrangements, a bit more energy, some chat, something more than you can get from just listening to their records. Micah gave us that, B&S didn't really.

Upcoming gigs: Eighteenth Day of May, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, The Fiery Furnaces, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Eels, The New Pornographers and Jolie Holland. All these are through in Glasgow, which is a bit of a chore, but it's an excellent time for gig going, clearly. The only one I'm going to miss is Calexico, who are playing in Manchester which is just a little too far away.

Imminent new releases - interesting stuff on the horizon...
Grandaddy - Just Like The Fambly Cat This is tragically going to be Grandaddy's swansong. The only real plus is that Jason Lytle is retiring to Montana to get away from it all, so perhaps some more tunes might eventually come our way... Go to www.grandaddylandscape.com to hear a couple of excellent tasters for the new record,
Lambchop - The Decline of the Country & Western Civillisation To say that I am an ardent Lambchop fan would be an exaggeration, but when they are good they are absolutely brilliant. This is an eclectic collection of b-sides and unreleased material, so it could be really quite interesting.
The Divine Comedy - Victory for the Comic Muse Neil Hannon hasn't been brilliant for a while now, so I'm really undecided about just how exciting I actually find the possibility of a new album. I may give it a go, and I may give it a miss.
The Stills - Without Feathers A friend of mine has somehow managed to hear this album already, shock horror, and describes it thus: 'Nothing at all like the first one, but it still rocks. I wish they'd kept some of the old style, but it's still good'. There we go then.

 

Reviews approaching in the near future...
I have purchased these albums, but haven't listened to them enough to know what I really think yet. I'll review them in a couple of weeks.

The Flaming Lips
At War With The Mystics

I am not as beguiled with the Lips as a lot of people out there seem to be, and as much as I am looking forward to this album I am slightly apprehensive that it might turn out a little samey. Don't know why, but I'll let you know how it goes!

Calexico
Garden Ruin

Apparently this effort does away with the more esoteric instrumentals of Feast Of Wire and continues Calexico's journey to mainstream pop band-dom. As long as they still sound like Calexico I imagine I'll be happy.

Neko Case
Fox Confessor etc etc..

Sometime New Pornographer, Neko Case is a Canadian of Eastern European provenance who has developed a fascination with North American roots music. I am not sure about this one, but she has had her moments in stuff I've heard so far.

 

 

Tuesday, 28th February 2006

Salutations - I've just added my thoughts on the following albums to the reviews section:
Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins white gospel spectacular - Rabbit Fur Coat.
The rejuvenated new album from The Strokes.
The highly anticipated yet slightly disappointing Arctic Monkeys debut.
Mark Langegan's collaboration with former Belle & Sebastian chanteuse Isobel Campbell.
The new album by Belle & Sebastian themselves.
Surprise splendiferousness from English psych-folksters The Eighteenth Day Of May.

Reviews approaching in the near future...
One highly anticipated new release, and a couple I really should have already.

Willard Grant Conspiracy
Let It Roll

Their new video can be seen on their Loose Records page. The sound is what you'd expect, but the reviews are promising and I love their previous stuff, so I really can't wait for this one. Due late March,,,

Eels
Live - With Strings

Apparently they were brilliant on this tour. I saw them in Cambridge in 2000 when they unleashed circus mayhem, and they were brilliant. You can preview stuff either at www.eelstheband.com or on their page at myspace.com although I don't think the latter has anything from this album.

Eef Barzelay
Bitter Honey

The inspiration behind Clem Snide and the man with easily the best name in music (with the possible exception of occasional bandmate Ambrosia Parsley) has released a solo acoustic number. I love Clem Snide, so that's enough for me - I'm buying it!

 

Tardy Discoveries - I know, I know, I should've listened...

King Creosote - KC Rules OK I suspected I recognised his voice for ages until it clicked, but the link was so obscure I discounted it as impossible. I thought the early nineties Glasgow folk/bluegrass collective The Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra (later renamed the Khartoum Heroes for legal reasons - bah, humbug.) were no more more than a distant twinkle in the eye of the most extreme kind of anorak, but no, it's true, King Creosote is indeed that Kenny Anderson!

This is apparently what he wandered off to do when the constrictions of being in a group became a little too much. It's brilliant, less mainstream folk-rock, and more gentle songwriting and story-telling with the folk influences far more subtle these days. But there's just enough of Kenny Anderson in it for me to recognise him some ten years later. Ooh, it's enough to make you want a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise I never really took to Michigan, nor his earlier one with the swan drawing on the front, so I never bought Illinoise. Cue Uncut compliation, one brilliant song, one speculative purchase and one rather inevitable revision of opinions. This is a great album, silly song titles aside, and very much part of that folk revival I am enjoying such a lot.

 

New Year's Day, 2006

Top ten best albums of the year completed here, for those who are interested...

A bit about the Arctic Monkeys... When Napster first blew up all over the music scene about six years ago there was an outcry about the evils of digital music - how it would take funding away from the hard-working artists, how it was stealing, etc etc.. Soon they were able to demonstrate the onset of this apocalypse by turning our attention to declining sales of major artists and by adding up the number of downloads taking place and multiplying it by something to show just how much we evil downloaders were stealing from them... [more]

Shortly to be reviewed - purchased as soon as I get my first 2006 wage!
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - 29 I should really have bought this last year, as it was released in early December, but given the pressures of Christmas presents etc.. I didn't. It also snuck up with very little publicity, so I was taken a little by surprise. That'll be put right soon though!
The Strokes- First Impressions Of Earth Given the relative disappointment of their last album, I wouldn't be too excited about this, but the reviews reckon it's really good, and something of a change of direction, so I think I'll give it a go.
The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not To be honest, I'm just curious to see if this lot are as good as people say they are. And their new business model should have big labels quaking in their boots - and quite bloody rightly so!

New this year...
Some more distant new releases for 2006 that I am really looking forward to.

Belle & Sebastian
The Life Pursuit

They evolve, rather than metamorphose, but I am still looking forward to yet more stuff from this lot.
They went all pop last time round, in their first real change of pace for a while, and I am curious to see what's next

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Ballad of the Broken Seas

Given the obvious contrast of Campbell's delicacy and Lanegan's suggestive growl, this promises to be really good.
Even if I just imagine his last album, Bubblegum, with a little bit of her voice thrown in, I get all excited!

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
The Proposition (OST)

Given that Warren Ellis' violin almost defines the word mournful, and that Nick Cave has a talent for writing songs which exalt just that sort of apocalyptic, all-consuming desolation, how can it fail?
Well, it could be boring old soundscapes I suppose, but I really really hope not!

 

 

12th November 2005

RANT follows:

Katie Mellifluous

T. K. Cuntstall

I honestly despair of the human race when I see this sort of unmitigated dross. Who buys this crap? Is it perchance the same people who shelled out for Norah Jones, Dido, Jamie Cullum and the rest of this brain-numbingly dull, pointless genre of dinner party music for the terminally vacant?

Music like this makes my ears bleed. Labia FM may love this shite, but it is just the sort of teeth-grating effluent the discovery of which in the CD collections of one's friends should cause those friends to be jettisoned forever.

The worst part about it is the pretension to artistic merit. I actually saw Katie MeluArse on telly the other day saying 'I'm don't thing I'm a star, but I think my music is.' Not a star, Katie, what you are is a cunt!

Rant over. And breathe...

What's on my CD player at the moment...

Bob Dylan
No Direction Home Bootleg

The Decemberists
Picaresque

Razorlight
Up All Night (I was a bit late catching on to this one!)

Riff Raff
The Singles

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Howl