Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Last night The Imagined Village were like ….

21 January 2010

..the Tackhead Sound System, The Albion Country Band, The Beatles and Ravi Shankar colliding somewhere in outer space and falling to earth with stardust still attached. Such a seriously massive sound at times. Just fantastic. Sweet Jane, Scarborough Fair and My Son John seem to be the live highlights from the new album. At the end of the latter I thought the roof of the Theatre was going to lift off. I had at least three shivers down the back nearly leading to tears moments during the course of the evening.


The noughties

8 January 2010

would have been a lot poorer without

The Bairns
Tangled Up
To Be Still
Want One
The Covers Album
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
Dimanche A Bamako
White Chalk
The Blue Notebooks
An Echo Of Hooves
Little Lights
Sweet England
Confessions on a dancefloor
I Am A Bird Now
In The Heart Of The Moon
On the corner of Miles & Gil
Seven Swans

Current listening: Jon Redfern – “Don’t worry”

23 November 2009

Beating all those year long favourites from out of nowhere. From 2008 in fact, and easily missed – but blimey, so good.

It is a strange fact that I know now that for so long as I am alive, and for so long as she is singing I will keep investigating and keep searching out music featuring the voice of Becky Unthank. She has a voice which is just timeless. It’s not that it is terribly technically competent or strident or that she is able to hold her notes, in fact it is none of those. It’s a voice which is strong and empowered and at the same time fragile and emotional. “Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk” is the epitome of the first, and this song the second, and yet both carry all of those elements. It’s an overused cliche but it is a voice which is like a force of nature.

This tune starts off with Jon Redfern singing his own song – a perfectly lovely fine little thing. Then there are these harmonies in the background which make you realise there is someone else in the room and then in comes Becky with that voice which turns the song into a lullaby and a celebration and a melancholy reminiscence but not crowded achieving all those things with so much space to breathe. Its a voice which goes straight to the marrow of your bones, a voice beyond its years, the voice of a young girl and a wise old woman, an innocent and a seer.

“I’ll always love you, love you forever, however long that is”

Current Listening: Gossip “Heavy Cross (Fred Falke Remix)”

17 November 2009

I have been coming back to this one all year. Unlike so many things it does not get less powerful over time it just gets better. I expected to be slightly disappointed sticking it on for the first time for a month or so – those gut wrenching thumps and screams might have lost some of their impact. But no. I had it on in the car on the way to work this morning and it just lifted me up out and into some other beautiful space. Somewhere between a fist in the stomach and the thickest rush of mass unconditional communal celebration. Banishing the demons of this time of the year instantly. Nearly as good as the best beer fuelled mindless fuck you ever had. More intensity than you can almost bear – like you are going to explode with the sheer raw energy and lust involved.

It’s the nineteen eighties. It’s synths and more synths and a wailing banshee. It’s Joan Jett. It’s Blondie. It’s Pat Benatar. It’s Patti Smith fucking Giorgio Moroder in Cream in 1994.

It takes two its up to me and you to prove it.

I think I may have killed the car stereo system I played it so loud.

Current listening: The Unthanks “Sad February”

21 September 2009

For me “Here’s the Tender Coming” is less consistently perfect than “The Bairns” which for me is nigh on impossible to better but it is still head and shoulders above 99.99999% of other releases which will come out this year. Just another wonderful feat of imagination and beauty and humour and honesty. This track is my current favourite. Another bleak moment in the Unthanks canon (and I do think of The Unthanks as they now are as the real successors to the Frost and Fire era Watersons – music of the seasons) but which post sung song heads off into a lush parallel world of brass and strings. Putting one in mind of Gone To Earth or Spirit of Eden. Like some of the hazier songs off At the Corner of Miles and Gil. Really beautiful.

Indie Disco 1991

17 September 2009

Freak Scene
The Only One I Know
Can’t Be Sure
Loads of Roses Carpets James
Step On
Pacific State
Some Weddoes
Probably Fine Time
You Made Me Realise / Feed Me With Your Kiss (Will the fringes please take to the dancefloor)

Fuck I miss the Festive Fifty

Current listening

17 September 2009

Blimey. I can’t stop listening to this one. To say that just listening to it is like the last twenty years never passed is a major understatement. 19 years old. “Snowball” on the record player and expecting the latest missive from PO Box 691 Bristol any time. It was just the lo-fi home made politicised enthusiastic beauty of it all. Anger and melancholy combined. And the music (or at least some of it) was just great. Snowball Lyceum and the Sensitive era was for me the high point but there were loads of great singles from that point on as well. I never did the whole paisley shirt bowl hair “tonight Matthew I am Stephen Pastel” thing but I signed up fully to the whole spirit of the thing. In fact I wore my tartan dancing trousers a hangdog sheepskin coat and my Marlboro Hip Hop Queens t-shirt to a Heavenly gig just to be contrary and had an interesting conversation with Amelia Fletcher about Kylie, who was right then in her imperial “Better the devil you know, Step back in time, What do I have to do, Shocked” period. And Matt and Clare did plenty to avoid pandering to their tweecore following. I remember smiling for days when the Poppycocteau fanzine arrived. Always wondered what happened to Paul who wrote it and some wonderful fanzines afterwards and with whom I had much correspondence. We even swapped trash nrg covers tapes at one stage.

So yes. Released in 2009. The spirit of 1986. Channelling The Field Mice, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and early MBV. And utterly utterly derivative, but it still sounds wonderful. Nostalgia is for the lame, but it’s ability to transport means I cannot resist it. And I love the thought of hundreds of 19 year old New Yorkers discovering it and thinking they have found their own amazing new sounds. I wonder if there are fanzines to go with their scene as well. I hope so. Paper ones mind. A computer screen is just not the same as a small A5 sheaf of papers filled with love and hate and boys and girls and just the whole excitement of being young stapled together and hastily shoved in a small khaki army surplus shoulder bag. So this will be one of my favourite records from 2009. No question.

Current listening: Bon Iver “Wisconsin”

11 November 2008

“For Emma For Ever Ago”  is up there at the top of the favourite records of the year for me next to “Sun Giant” and “Ark 1”. This is the b-side to the recently released “For Emma” single and I can’t believe that he left it off the album because it fits in there perfectly. World weary and intimate and beautiful and feeling like a walk through a leafless forest with twigs and branches underfoot. I gather that Wisconsin is his home state.  The album is so beautiful. Another of those great records that don’t give up their secrets immediately. Five or six listens at least to get there.

Current listening: Bella Hardy “Young Edmund”

21 July 2008

Wow. Amazing. Bella Hardy was on the Folk at the Proms on the telly and BBC Radio 3 yesterday. And about time too. She got a bit of support from Mike Harding last year but not as much coverage as she should have done. Her album was one of my favourite Christmas presents of last year. And her home is just across the yard from my sisters house. So the album has been getting further airings since yesterday. I do hope this results in even more success. She is playing the folk festival circuit later in the summer so I should catch her live then.  Bellowhead were fucking ace as well. As usual.

Shuffleathon 2007. Part 9

17 April 2008

Norma Waterson – Reply to Joe Haines

Joe Haines was a journalist who wrote, to quote the sleeve notes, “an iniquitous article …on the subject of Freddie Mercury’s disclosure that he was HIV positive (indeed that he had full blown AIDS) and which the Daily Mirror saw fit to print”.

This is a song written by Norma’s late sister Lal, all of whose songs were some of the most beautiful skewed lullabies written in the last fifty years. Occupying a middle ground of somehere between Syd Barrett, rural English folk and Leonard Cohen, if that can be imagined. There are far too few of them but those that there are are shining gems.

Norma Waterson does of course have one of the great voices of our age and of any age. Shes a modern day living breathing Piaf or Caruso and I wish more people would see it.

A sad song but very beautiful.