Tagged: indie

Damon Albarn – Lonely Press Play

Damon Albarn is a genius. I really don’t think there’s much doubt about that (or at least I hope there isn’t).

However, at the start of Lonely Press Play, the second release from his long awaited debut album Everyday Robots, I was worried that he was, once again, going to purposefully make his music less listenable by adding in unnecessary bleeps and beeps.

)

The first track that was released, also called Everyday Robots, was, for me, a bit like a lot of Thom Yorke’s recent output – just a bit too weird. And I thought that Lonely Press Play might suffer the same fate. 

But then, it didn’t. It’s just, well, beautiful.

 

 

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I Hate Videos

oasis

Whatever you may think of his music, and I am a massive fan who lost faith in them, it’s hard to deny that Noel Gallagher is one of the most intelligent and funniest musicians out there. His music may be dull but he rarely is.

As if to highlight these two facts some bright spark has collated the best commentary from a DVD collection of all of Oasis’ videos and it makes for hugely entertaining videos. If you haven’t seen it yet I can’t recommend highly it highly enough. I’ve watched it about 5 times now and it still makes me laugh.

Whilst his proclamation that no-one watches videos any more is as mistaken* as his views on hip-hop at Glastonbury, the rest of it is funny, honest and true. Some of my favourite lines include:

I look like…Columbo

Is that how easy this is? You just go and randomly suggest nonsense and people go and film it?

The missus wouldn’t let you do a video like that now would she?

Look how pissed I am there. That’s me really pissed.

It is a good song to jump up and down to, drunk.

That wasn’t an actual record player by the way and that’s not a real clown.

Do you want me to..stare at you like a…serial killer?

This is fucking nonsense

Look at the size of Bonehead’s shirt, that’s…insane

Is that Phil Mitchell?

If you need four guys to walk around in slow motion…we were the best at that.

So there’s a death in the video, that’s nice.

If anyone’s listening to this at home you’d probably be advised to go and mow the garden because this goes on for ages. And ages.

They are really ill-fitting suits aren’t they?

Robbie Williams based his entire…career on this song.

Is that a man with legs made of sausages?!

Why didn’t somebody…stop me at that point and say you need to go on a holiday?

That’s supposed to be a space-ship taking off, it looks like a load of scaffolding sinking.

Can we listen to this with the sound down?

Walking and playing is basically what (we) do. And standing still. And look bored.

I fucking hate this next tune, I really fucking hate it.

That last comment is followed by a sigh of such disgust that it really had to be heard to be believed. Just like Karl Pilkington was always the best thing about Ricky Gervais’ radio shows so it seems that the best things about Oasis’ videos is the man who starred in them all slagging them off.

*The video of him talking about videos has already notched up nearly 225,000 views whilst the likes of Sy, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga would probably have something to say about whether or not anyone watches videos any more.

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Tune Of The Day: The Libertines – Time For Heroes

My favourite radio station, BBC 6 Music is 10 years old, and has released the 100 best tunes since its birth: listening to the playlist I stumbled across this by the one-time saviours of music to-be, The Libertines. It still sounds great, but far older than just 10 years (it came out a decade ago this month). But this line will never get old (even if I disagree with the sentiment):

There are fewer more distressing sights than that
Of an Englishman in a baseball cap

6 Music are asking people to vote for their favourite of the 100 songs; a few years ago, I reckon Time For Heroes would have had a good chance. Now, I reckon my vote (All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem) is probably a pretty good bet for the top spot.

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(Assumed) Englishman in a baseball cap by Kelbv on flickr

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My Marmalade: Suede – My Dark Star

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So, a new year, another attempt to get more out of my blog. A while back I went for playing shuffle on the iPod. This time I’m taking my direction from start-up This Is My Jam which, though a service I like, I don’t really click with totally.

You’re only meant took use it once a week and it creates yet another social profile (see the unofficial title of this blog). Anyway, that’s why I’m going to try to post a jam, or marmalade, every day. Probably without much commentary, to make it likelier that I actually do it.

To start, Suede b-side My Dark Star; I’m having one of my frequent 90s indie nostalgia sessions at the moment.
Photo by iglooo101 on flickr

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Senseless Things – Easy To Smile

I was out last night and saw a chap wearing a Senseless Things t-shirt, which made me think about a band I haven’t listened to, or even thought about, for years. And so, courtesy of our friends at YouTube, I found myself watching this clip of them playing Easy To Smile which was probably their biggest (or only?) hit. I’m pretty saw it when it was first broadcast too.

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Easy To Smile  was a lovely little slice of power-pop of a type that was pretty common-place in the early 90s; like many of their records, it featured a Jamie Hewlitt illustration mon the cover, pre-dating Gorillaz by a fair few years. Easy To Smile is similar to the sort of thing that also used to be put out by Mega City Four, another band I had a soft-spot for at the time. They looked like they’d not showered for years but their singer had the voice of an angel and their harmonies were to die for. I think I can feel an iTunes binge coming on.

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Coldplay – Strawberry Swing (Sampled By Frank Ocean)

Well, music’s a funny old game, as Jimmy Grieves might have said.

Last year I wrote that Coldplay hadn’t done anything decent since their second album. I also wrote that I thought the Odd Gang Future Wolf Gang Kill Them Alll collective were a horrible shower of idiotic nihilists whom I had no intention of listening to again. Hmmm.

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So, due to the fact that it featured in just about every single one of The Guardian’s 2011 Top 10 lists, I decided to give the free mixtape Nostalgia Ultra by Frank Ocean (of OFWGKTA) a try. And I’m glad I did – it’s a beautiful concept album, full of retor touches such as tape playters clicking on and off, and basically consists of Ocean singing wry, down-beat but not misogynistic lyrics over tracks such as Hotel California and Strawberry String by Coldplay.

He doesn’t even sample them, he just sings over the backing tracks. And it works. Wonderfully. So much so that I really should have put Nostalgia Ultra in my own best albums of 2011 list.

It also made me realise that Strawberry Swing by Coldplay is just a lovely song. They still shouldn’t have headlined Glastonbury though.

Strawberry by Marc Falardeau on flickr

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The Best New* Albums Of 2011

Well, that’s 2011 more or less wrapped up.

Where the bloody hell it went, I have no idea, but, as I do most years, I thought I’d finish it by wrapping up my favourite albums of the year. Now, I should probably add at this point that, because I’m no longer a teenager who buys NME every week, or even a 20-something buying a monthly music magazine, I don’t hear as much new music as I’d like. So, whilst many of these albums were released in 2011, some are actually older but were new to me in 2011.

Anyway, here we go, in no particular order:

  • Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two: I’ve never actually been a massive Beastie Boys fan, and have always liked the idea of them, more than the reality. But Hot Sauce Committee Part Two was an absolute belter from first to last, was utterly life affirming, probably because one of the Beasties was recovering from cancer during its recording, highlighted how small-minded the OFWGKTA clique are, and it’s promo film was ****ing genius.
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  • The Streets – Computers And Blues: The Streets, or Mike Skinner as he’s known to his friends, is, I think, a perfectly English genius. This was his last album under The Streets moniker, and is, I think, a very fitting obituary. It mixes his trademark engagingly everyman raps with some lovely beats, and includes much of the (slightly cod) philosophy from his (amazingly under-rated) last album. I’ll be sorry to see The Streets go, but his new outfit The D.O.T. sound like they might be quite good, if their first track is anything to go by. It’s called Trouble and features a young man called Ghostpoet.
    [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/28768927"]
  • Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam: His taste for bad puns reminds me slightly of Carter USM, but don’t let that put you off. He’s signed to Gilles Peterson’s excellent Brownswood label, his album is a brilliantly captured time-capsule of Britain in 2011 and it’s a crime that he didn’t win the Mercury.
  • Lee Fields & The Expressions – My World: Released in 2009, but to be honest it doesn’t matter as it sounds like it was released in 1969, this is an amazing piece of pure R&B soul delivered by a true soul survivor, and one that I discovered through the marvelous Hunch FM. Honeydove is possibly my favourite track of the year.
  • DJ 2 Tone Jones – Shaolin Jazz: This is brilliant – a bunch of tracks by the Wu-Tang Clan, and is constituent members, with the backing tracks replaced with samples from classic jazz. Seriously. It’s what the wannabe hipsters would call amaze-balls. And his similar re-imagining of classic Gil Scott-Heron tracks is not to be missed either.
    [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/25203610"]
  • Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues: Nothing particularly different from their first album, but when you have a début as beautiful as the Fleet Foxes did, why would you want to change that? Music to get lost in.
  • The National – High Violet: I know, this was released in 2010. But I’m getting old, I’m not as up to date as I was, and this is simply too amazing not to put in a Best of list. Also, there might be people who are like I was – ignorant of the splendour of The National: possibly better than Arcade Fire.
  • Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys: A couple of the tracks sounded like attempts to replicate One Day Like This, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a truly beautiful record. Build a rocket boys indeed.
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  • SBTRKT – SBTRKT: Soulful house music made by a man wearing a massive African tribal mask – what’s not to love? Listening to this today it occurred to me that it bears a lot of similarities to the all-time classic All Systems Gone by Presence which, if you don’t own, you really should.
  •  Gilles Peterson – Masterpiece: Part of  a series of mix albums released by Ministry of Sound, this 3 part epic shows why Radio 1 are fools to have let him go: like a 20th Century John Peel, he touches everything from techno to jazz and just about everything in between. Worth the price for just one of the three free extra mixes alone.
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So, there you go. Hopefully something for everyone and some things that will be new to you and should get you through the festive season and into 2012.
*New to me.
Photo of Ghostpoet performing at Whelan’s in Dublin in September 2011 by yours truly, with a little help from Instagram.
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Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young Cover)

Facebook’ made a big push into music last night, but I still tend to head to YouTube when I’m looking for a bit of serendipitous discovery/reminiscing. And today it didn’t disappoint.

There are a lot of great things celebrating 20th anniversaries this year: Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, Nirvana’s Nevermind, my GCSE results. And Saint Etienne’s first ever single, a house-tinged cover of Neil Young’s beautiful Only Love Can Break Your Heart: I know this because of the nifty timeline that YouTube have introduced for bands & artists.

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Saint Etienne’s take on Only Love Can Break Your Heart takes a downbeat, acoustic little ditty and turns it into a dirty, great skanking club monster. It might be twenty years old, but it still sounds fresh enough to take your nose off. Or something. It’s taken from their début album Foxbase Alpha, which was an interesting and eclectic take on post SUmmer of Love London, but is, ultimately slightly frustrating (like much of Saint Etienne’s work if you ask me). But this single is a stone cold classic.

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Lego album cover by hazymemory on flickr

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