Saturday, 30 April 2011

Silver Apples 'Oscillations' (MCA, 1968)

If you've ever stood at a gig or, more likely, a festival, watching Fuck Buttons manipulating what looks like a wallpapering table covered in small boxes and kettle leads and wondering where this ground-breaking new way of making music came from then Silver Apples are the source to which you must travel.

Dating back to 1968, 'Oscillations' is the opening track from their debut album and it's a hypnotic marriage of inventive drumming, bleeps, hums, skronks, screeches and spooky incantations. Silver Apples actually formed in New York in 1867 and were apparently jamming with Hendrix back in the day.

The picture in the album shows their recording set-up to be a room covered in what appears to be small boxes and kettle leads. So eerily reminiscent of Fuck Buttons then. Except you can understand the words.

Download Silver Apples 'Oscillations' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Read a great article from Sound On Sound about Silver Apples.

Revolver 'Since Yesterday' (Hut/Virgin, 1992) (mp3)

An effortlessly gorgeous take on the Strawberry Switchblade hit from 1984. It doesn't have the sugar rush pop thrill of the original, instead it takes a different approach to the song.

Coming as a b-side before their 'Cold Water Flat' album, this shows where Revolver had got to in terms of arrangement and palette after the fuzz-laden early singles. It's led by picked and strummed guitar lines, Matt Flint turning in a yearning vocal that takes a more laid-back/resigned approach than the original. At the choruses, it takes off with some lovely strings that add to the gliding feel of the track.

As the song builds in intensity, a simple but effective extended distorted guitar solo creates a release. The track then winds to a close via a breakdown to muted guitar and vocal before all the elements come back in to create a swirl of melody.

Download Revolver 'Since Yesterday' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Friday, 29 April 2011

Chicago Transit Authority 'I'm A Man' (Columbia, 1969) (mp3)

Bizarrely, this is the same band that, once shortened to Chicago, went on to give the world the longest unbroken series of soft-rock ballads in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. I haven't checked the facts but that's probably true.

It's bizarre because the album version of 'I'm A Man' is a funky, groove-a-thon and, to me anyway, sounds like a precursor to the likes of ESG or Liquid Liquid ('Cavern' is definitely the product of cosmic reverberations of the bass-work on this track).

What starts as a pretty groovy cover of Spencer Davis Group's organ-heavy 1967 single - and a strong contribution to the template for first two or three albums of The Charlatans' career - breaks down after three minutes into a Latin percussive work-out. It builds in intensity and rouses itself to full power through some octopus drumming and ever-present wood-block tinks. It's a monstrous rhythmic orgy and when the organ drops back in accompanied by some searing guitar, you are ready to frug.

A most unexpected surprise.

Download Chicago Transit Authority 'I'm A Man' (mp3) (

British Sea Power 'Who's In Control?' (Rough Trade, 2011)

There seems to be a surprising amount of Record Store Day stuff knocking about after the event this year. Still, shouldn't complain as it means I managed to pick up a copy of the British Sea Power contribution, a nice double 7" in a gatefold sleeve.

Among the four tracks is 'Who's In Control?' which is a strident, firey rocker that rails at the state of advanced Capitalism that we find ourselves in. It's tempered with a hint of resignation though. "Oh, were you not told? Do you not know? Everything around you's being sold... Sometimes I wish that protesting was sexy on a Saturday night."

The guitars churn out a furious riff, the drums are like thunder and it occurs to you that the song would sound great bellowed out as a football chant. And, of course, it would be entirely appropriate for football fans to be singing about the things they know being bought and sold.

Classic Sea Power then.

Download British Sea Power 'Who's In Control?' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Half Man Half Biscuit 'National Shite Day' (Probe Plus, 2008)

My tribute to the big day.

Happy about the day off, like, obviously.

Download Half Man Half Biscuit 'National Shite Day' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Rakes '22 Grand Job (7" Single Version)' (V2, 2005) (mp3)

Genius post-punky jerky-pop for wage slaves everywhere.

One hundred and seven seconds is all it took for The Rakes to introduce me to their world and lead me on to the equally brilliant 'Capture/Release' album. It's all straightahead drums, clanging basslines, earworm guitar riffs and wonderful sardonic tales of Alan Donohoe's mundane 9-to-5 life before indie pop stardom.

Download The Rakes '22 Grand Job (Single Version)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Tindersticks 'Claire Denis Film Scores 1996-2009' (Constellation Records/Live, 2011) (mp3s)

Seeing Tindersticks perform a selection of their film music with projected visual accompaniment at the Queen Elizabeth Hall this week reminded me what a powerful, sympathetic sound they can create.

I've loved the majority of their studio albums but not engaged too much with their soundtracks. That would seem to be a mistake as there is a real depth and variety there.

The jazz-inflected 'Trouble Every Day' was a highlight amongst highlights and they played cues from the six soundtracks they've made for French director Claire Denis with incredible lightness and control. It's a control that contrasts with their some of their early work which had an endearing shakiness to it.

To try some of this for yourself, Constellation have made a handful of mp3s available on their website.

'Children's Theme' from the 'White Mischief' soundtrack highlight the variety - a flute and picked electric guitar foundation augmented with resonant bass then a sonorous horn-like part and drums creating a kind of twisted folk.
Download Tindersticks 'Childrens Theme 1' (mp3) (Constellation)

Whereas 'The Black Mountain' from 'L'Intrus' is more avant garde with a cold wave of synth augmented by clanking, delayed guitar clips and topped with a gorgeous rich solo trumpet.
Download Tindersticks 'The Black Mountain' (mp3) (Constellation)

All the Claire Denis soundtracks have been collected onto a very lovely box set on Constellation (vinyl or CD) and the live show tours through the summer with UK live dates in the Autumn.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Listen to Fleet Foxes 'Helplessness Blues' complete album (Sub Pop/Bella Union, 2011) (Stream)

Fleet Foxes 'Helplessness Blues' is now available to stream at so you can listen to the whole album now in readiness to rush out on Monday and buy it (in the UK anyway). It is sounding mighty fine too.

'Helplessness Blues' tracklisting:
1. "Montezuma" – 3:37
2. "Bedouin Dress" – 4:30
3. "Sim Sala Bim" – 3:14
4. "Battery Kinzie" – 2:49
5. "The Plains/Bitter Dancer" – 5:54
6. "Helplessness Blues" – 5:03
7. "The Cascades" – 2:08
8. "Lorelai" – 4:25
9. "Someone You'd Admire" – 2:29
10. "The Shrine/An Argument" – 8:07
11. "Blue-Spotted Tail" – 3:05
12. "Grown Ocean" – 4:36

Listening Post Fleet Foxes 'Helplessness Blues' (Streams) (

Piano Magic 'Incurable' (Important Records, 2006) (mp3 download)

Very nice slice of gently gothic, New Order-y pop (circa 'True Faith'/'1963') from the versatile and mysterious Piano Magic.

'Incurable' is built around an assertive, low-tech drum machine with a resolutely synthetic sound. It's accompanied by sonorous bass and eerie, intoned female vocals and it's an alt-pop gem. The track builds to a crescendo with distorted guitars, augmented by some very New Order-y metallic xylophone. Nice.

Download Piano Magic 'Incurable' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Roy Budd 'Main Theme - Carter Takes A Train' (Get Carter OST, 1971)

One of the most evocative opening pieces of film music I know, Roy Budd's Main Theme from Get Carter melds small jazz group groove with atmospheric soundtrack ambience to great effect.

The composition creates a perfect sense of locomotion, the percussion driving on against the springy double bass and tabla. The almost glutinously reverbed harpsichord and then electric piano hold it all together.

It's been covered by artists as diverse as The Human League and Stereolab but the original is just perfection.

Download Roy Budd 'Main Theme - Carter Takes A Train' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

The Primitives 'All The Way Down (Beat Version)' (RCA, 1988) (mp3 download)

Hearing of a new record from the reformed Primitives was something of a surprise. On rushing to Youtube to check out the new single, I find that Tracey Tracey is no longer a blonde bombshell, opting for a more demure brunette, but the sound is still perky, guitar-driven bubblegum pop.

This, in turn, sent me back to the archives for this b-side track from the 'Way Behind Me' 12". It emphasises the psyche-pop side of The Primitives that the band's name suggests (it's borrowed from the sixties British Beat group of 'Help Me' fame).

It's a organ-led take on the song, driving a swirling, frugging groove with a slight Northern Soul edge. The original is a dirge-y Velvet Underground/Jesus & Mary Chain thing and the makeover suits it well.

Download The Primitives 'All The Way Down (Beat Version)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Hear the new Primitives single - 'Rattle My Cage' - over at Crashsite.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The God Machine 'Ego' (Fiction, 1992) (mp3)

A mighty piece of alternative fury with a decidedly Metallic edge. One to clear out your ear canals.

'Ego' builds from foreboding bass and swirling atmospherics before exploding into thundering drums and staccato guitars.

The 'Scenes From The Second Storey' album showcases a broader range of tones and textures, but this can't be beaten for sheer bombast.

Download The God Machine 'Ego' (mp3) (Mediafire)

The Notwist 'Pilot' (City Slang, 2002) (mp3 download)

A very bright and breezy piece of slightly glitchy electropop from The Notwist's 'Neon Golden' album.

A forceful drum machine keeps a metronomic beat with bass and tight, bright guitar weave around to create a propulsive groove. The almost muttered vocal seems to allude to the sabotage of public transport infrastructure - which, you have to say, is an under-used subject for alt-pop songwriting.

The chorus bursts to life with sweeping synth strings and a leap in momentum. A strangely addictive sound.

Download The Notwist 'Pilot' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Shellac 'The Guy Who Invented Fire (Live at All Tomorrow's Parties, 2002)'

Does music get much more aggressive than this? Louder, yes, faster, yes, but more aggressive, I don't think so. Shellac are masters of lucid, focused fury and this is a marvelous example of their work.

This live version of 'The Guy Who Invented Fire' was recorded at All Tomorrow's Parties in 2002. They curated the festival that year, playing three times over the course of the weekend and inducting me and my fellow post-rockers into the wonders of ATP and a whole heap of great bands. Shellac also managed to find enough money in the budget to give everyone who attended a set of three CDs featuring tracks by all the bands playing that weekend. A very nice touch.

On 'The Guy Who Invented Fire' Steve Albini's guitar is like razorwire, Bob Weston's bass is seismic and Todd Trainer's drums are monumental. Fuck knows what the song's about though.


Download Shellac 'The Guy Who Invented Fire (Live at ATP 2002' (mp3) (Box)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

David Sylvian 'Weathered Wall (Instrumental)' (Virgin, 1984)

Built around a measured drum pattern, this track builds upon shifting waves of ambient synths and a siren-like breathy horn part.

Released as a b-side (to 'The Ink In The Well') this instrumental version of the track creates a mood of isolation and contemplation, a wailing prayer sample emerging out of one section.

'Brilliant Trees' emerged from the burst of energy and activity that followed Sylvian's exit from what he felt were the confines of the band Japan. Leaving a pop band to explore his core artistic impulses, it freed him to pursue a less commercial path though, to be fair, Japan took some distinctly uncommercial music into the charts ('Ghosts' and 'Nightporter' for starters) and made some great records, particularly 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids', 'Tin Drum' and the live send-off 'Oil On Canvas'.

Recorded with musicians like Kenny Wheeler, Holger Czukay, Danny Thompson, Mark Isham and Jon Hassell, 'Brilliant Trees' is a much more primal, groove-based music than subsequent albums which dealt in ambience, jazz-influences, progressive rock and latterly the avant garde. 'Weathered Wall' represents a pretty good balance of these impulses.

Download David Sylvian 'Weathered Wall (Instrumental)' (instrumental, experimental, alternative mp3) (Mediafire)

Squeeze 'Vanity Fair' (A&M, 1981)

Perhaps better known for their geezer-ish tales of drink, failed romance and fashionable cats, Squeeze should be hailed more for the exquisite observation of Chris Difford's lyrics and Glenn Tilbrook's bittersweet melodies.

'Vanity Fair' is a elegantly wrought baroque pop vignette from what I think is their best album - 'East Side Story' - recorded just as they hit their peak of 'the new Lennon & McCartney' fame and produced by Elvis Costello.

The song introduces itself with a mournful cello line, the rest of orchestral palette being used sparingly but effectively to illustrate the unfortunate tale of an attractive but ultimately abused and unappreciated young girl. It's so beautifully under-stated but has a gorgeous sweep, perfectly executed and ending with a swell of strings.

Download Squeeze 'Vanity Fair' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Revolver 'Wave' (Hut/Virgin, 1993) (MP3 Download)

Ultimately Revolver have been consigned to only a minor footnote in indie/alternative history books, largely forgotten when the Shoegazing scene was swept away by Grunge. It would be easy to dismiss them (and many did) as coat-tail-riders of the Scene That Celebrates Itself - mates of Slowdive but not as ethereal, not as eclectic as Chapterhouse, floppy-fringed and a bit soppy and indie-schmindie.

It has always been a great surprise that their only studio album - 'Cold Water Flat' - is a delight. They'd released a couple of good singles - 'Crimson' and 'Heaven Sent An Angel' - plus a really nice cover version of Strawberry Switchblade's 'Since Yesterday' (must remember to post that mp3 soon).

I only possess this album thanks to receiving it as a review copy and it probably wasn't top of my 'new music' listening pile at the time. However, I'm glad I did give it a spin. It's a nicely balanced collection with a maturity in its songwriting and displaying some gorgeous and unexpected touches that have allowed it to stand the test of time.

'Wave' is the closing track, riding on a jangly riff, forceful bass, sympathetic drums and some lovely flute flourishes. The lovesick (prep school) choirboy vocal style is the only out-and-out shoegazey element as the song blazes a trail of yearning, transforming into a strident, almost marching band closing section (sadly no reprise of the main melody on kazoo though).

Download Revolver 'Wave' (mp3) (Mediafire)

The Mighty Wah! - The Story Of The Blues (Eternal, 1982) (mp3)

My earliest memory of this song is on the 'Top 40 of 1982' that I'd taped off the radio (replete with the chocolate tones of Tommy Vance). Can't remember where it was in the Top 40 of 1982, but it was a number three hit when it came out (thanks Wikipedia). Back then it still took a decent amount of sales (500,000, I suppose) to hit the top end of the charts.

On that badly edited radio taping, the tune definitely stuck in my head but I know that it's an awesome record, packed with soul and yearning and hope and defiance. The soaring strings buoy you up, Wylie's vocal strains for something other and the strangely chattering drum patterns builds a sense of anticipation that the sweeping, majestic chorus delivers on.

Pete Wylie is/was one of pop's mavericks - like Dexys' Kevin Rowland, ABC's Martin Fry, Echo & The Bunnymen circa 'Ocean Rain' - who just has to pursue his own vision and conjures magic out of intensity and passion. Strangely it occurs to me that Patrick Wolf might be the closest thing we have to this type of songwriter these days.

The b-side features a spoken word version of the song, Pete Wylie waxing lyrical, delivering a pep-talk for the maintenance of personal pride and communal faith in the face of political onslaught (at the time it was Thatcher's 'restructuring' of the unionised industries).

As his website currently proclaims - Pete Wylie: Part time rock star, full time legend. Word.

Download Wah 'The Story Of The Blues (Part 1)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Friday, 22 April 2011

Oval 'Ah!' (Thrill Jockey, 2010) (mp3)

Intriguing circular glitchy stuff from Oval, mixing a clipped oriental-sounding motif with some nice post-rocky drums and some wonderful breakdowns.

It builds from overlapping loops and add in a variety of chirrups, klangs and krongs. The live drum breaks give a motorik but varied momentum and create what, to me, sounds like the theme music to a Japanese detective show where the hero solves crimes whilst only speaking in Haiku.

Or something like that.

Download Oval 'Ah!' (mp3) (XLR8R)

There's a rather nifty video too.

New Music - Three Trapped Tigers 'Cramm' (Blood & Biscuits, 2011) (Stream and MP3 Download)

After a series of enthralling math-y, glitched-up post-rock EPs, I've been anticipating the arrival of Three Trapped Tigers debut album.

Three Trapped Tigers are a decidedly post-Battles proposition but with their own dynamics and identity and, if anything, a slightly more processed sound. They also echo 65DaysOfStatic, another band with a traditional live set-up that fuse their work with electronics and math-rock dynamics.

The first new track to be teased out from the soon-come album is called 'Cramm' and it's suitably mental. The album is released on May 30th on the Blood & Biscuits and can be pre-ordered from their website.

Stream the new track 'Cramm' using the player below

Download the track by submitting your email address over here to download the mp3.

Spoonfed Hybrid - 1936 (Guernica/4AD, 1993)

Spoonfed Hybrid was yet another outlet for the talents of Ian Masters (late of Pale Saints, ESP Summer, Friendly Science Orchestra and an array of other projects). This time he's in cahoots with Chris Trout (AC Temple, Bear and Kilgore Trout) and producer Duncan Wheat.

'1936' opens with the sound of some weird clicking, ticking machine before an elegant piano marks out a stately pace over which Masters delivers choirboy vocals along to a strangely (a)rhythmic rim-shot (it's probably perfectly in-time, it's just that I can't count in 17/14 or something).

The chorus delivers a break from the martial pace, bursting into a gamboling procession of tribal drums, synth strings and a synthetic choir. Towards the end we get a lovely, rich double-bass and piano section which is reminiscent of David Sylvian's 'Blue Of Noon'. It gives way to an angelic choir then melds into a clatter of insistent drums before exiting on a rushing, euphoric high.

'Spoonfed Hybrid' is a great album that marries elegant songwriting with vaulting ambition on the arrangement front. Out of print I believe but a sound ebay investment.

Download Spoonfed Hybrid '1936' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

New Music - Wild Beasts 'Albatross' (Domino Records, 2011)

Wild Beasts have been something of a slow-burner for me, only coming to them well after their last album 'Two Dancers' and the addictive pleasures of 'Hooting And Howling' which did enough to make its way into my year-end compilation Baubles 2010.

Very much ploughing their own furrow, seemingly in isolation from the rest of any recognisable 'scene' (a bit like British Sea Power in that respect - must be something in the water up in Kendal), Wild Beasts contain echoes of The Associates, Kate Bush, Roxy Music.

New single 'Albatross' was made available early as part of Record Store Day and I managed to procure a copy of the 7" with a nice fold-out poster sleeve.

It's a deceptively simple song set around a processional drum beat, a staccato guitar part and austere sliding banks of bass synth. Singer Hayden Thorpe lays down a typically unique vocal and the song gains an irrestible momentum. Restrained but addictive.

Can't wait for the new album. Pre-orders being taken on the Domino website.

Wild Beasts - Albatross by DominoRecordCo

Suede - The Drowners (Rocking Horse Demo) (Record Store Day 7", 2011) (Suede mp3)

Suede Drowners Rocking Horse Demo
I was lucky enough to pick up a cache of Record Store Day releases and, despite not doing any of that queuing malarkey, still managed to get a few things I really wanted including a Wild Beasts 7", Fleet Foxes 12", The View 7", a James Yorkston 10" and this little gem which was the last copy at Resident in Brighton.

The 7" features original band demos of 'The Drowners' and 'To The Birds' on a double-A-side 7" presumably recorded at Rocking Horse Studios.

This is a nice reminder of the raw power of Suede and what a great live band they were. Both tracks will be included on the CD reissue of 'Suede' in June but it's a nice item and the cover art is a unique tweaking of the original Drowners sleeve.

Thought I'd share 'The Drowners (Rocking Horse Demo)' which is only a layer of Ed Buller's production polish away from the version that kicked-off Suedemania back in 1992. The song has already been honed and the parts are all there. Bernard Butler's guitar is that gorgeous combination of grind and groove, the signature drum intro is already in place and Brett's vocal is as camp as you like.

Download Suede 'The Drowners (Rocking Horse Demo)' (Suede Drowners Rocking Horse mp3) (Divshare)

The Suede albums are reissued over five weeks starting on May 30th. You can read more and see the tracklistings for the 2CD+DVD sets here on the Suede website.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

New Music - Fleet Foxes 'Grown Ocean (Live on Later Live with Jools Holland)' (2011) (MP3 Download)

Listen to this gorgeous live rendition of 'Grown Ocean' from Later Live with Jools Holland (BBC TV, Tuesday 19th April).

Insistent yearning groover with Robin Pecknold's vocals straining and breaking and a lovely Fleet Foxes-style accapella coda. Music doesn't get any better or harmony free-er than this. Lovely.

Download Fleet Foxes 'Grown Ocean (Live on Later Live with Jools Holland)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Mixtape - Animal Collective / All Tomorrow's Parties mix (Stream and MP3 Download)

ATP have made a mixtape by Animal Collective available via Soundcloud, promoting the upcoming ATP Weekend curated by, you guessed it, Animal Collective. As you expect, it's an eclectic beast.

Track Listing Volume 1
00:00 OV (extract) - Orthrelm
01:38 Fireworks - Animal Collective
08:21 Norway - Beach House
12:23 Credit - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
15:45 House Jam (XXXChange remix) - Gang Gang Dance
20:12 Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping - Grouper
23:00 Cheaters - Teengirl Fantasy
29:07 Shina Blockas - Big Boi feat. Gucci Mane
32:43 Freeway - Kurt Vile
35:15 Up On The Sun - Meat Puppets
39:14 Vacuum Boogie - Floating Points
45:17 High Road - Deradoorian
50:52 Goumou - Khaira Arby
56:06 Oh Paris! - Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele
58:46 Gentleman's Lament - Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
61:31 Night Cream - Black Dice
67:01 Discover Your Colors - Ear Pwr
70:13 I've Got Drugs (Out Of The Mist) - The Frogs
72:31 Trashy Boys - Tickley Feather
77:17 Good Time - Yi Yi Thant & Aung Heina
81:40 Rookoobay - The Brothers Unconnected
85:13 Grim Reaper Blues (live in Big Sur) - The Entrance Band
92:26 Mawak Lakhaal - Group Doueh
95:55 Raghupati - Prince Rama
101:07 How You Satisfy Me - Spectrum
105:16 Catch Attack - Drawlings
109:14 Al Anon - Eric Copeland
113:10 Melankolia (edit) - Vladislav Delay
122:01 Four Violins (extract) - Tony Conrad
127:34 Wended V - Mick Barr
135:45 Fuck Mixing, Let's Dance - Zomby

Track Listing Volume 2
00:00 Walkabout - Atlas Sound (Featuring Panda Bear)
03:54 Golden Phone - Micachu And The Shapes
06:33 Psychotic Photosynthesis - Omar-S
17:07 F Kenya Rip - Highlife
22:40 Physical Memory - Oneohtrix Point Never
33:26 Armour - Kria Brekkan
35:14 The Ecstasy (At The Summit) - Terry Riley
40:37 Tunnel Rats - Soldiers Of Fortune

Read more about Animal Collective's ATP Weekend (13-15th May)

Listen/Download Volume One:
ATP Animal Collective Mix by All Tomorrows Parties

Listen/Download Volume Two:
ATP Animal Collective Mix Vol. 2 by All Tomorrows Parties

Stump 'Buffalo' (Ensign, 1988) (MP3 Download)

With the benefit of hindsight it's hard to imagine how Stump got within a hundred yards of the offices of a major recording company, let alone being signed to one (as despatch riders maybe?).

Incredibly, after a couple of EPs, Stump found themselves signed to a major, releasing their album 'A Fierce Pancake' and dealing in more of their Beefheartian psychobilly psychodrama. 'Buffalo' has a reasonably attractive and quirky sound but it's a lolloping jalopy of a song and it's hard to imagine it troubling the likes of Mel & Kim, Deacon Blue or Rick Astley in the late eighties pop charts.

"How much is the fish? How much is the fish! How much is the chips? How much is the chips!" semi-crooned singer Mick Lynch along to a sound that veers between arhythmic funk and the sound of a therapy group discovering a fretless bass and some pots and pans in the dressing-up box.

It's an arresting proposition that, of course, didn't find its way onto Top Of The Pops. Instead the more alt-friendly home of The Chart Show beamed Stump into Saturday morning homes after the kids has just had their fix of Saturday Superstore or somesuch family-friendly entertainment (these were the days before Dick & Dom).

Encountered in that context Stump stood out but it took a few additional listens before the internal logic of Stumpworld revealed itself. Once it did, though, you're hooked.

Download Stump 'Buffalo' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Read more about 'Buffalo' and the origin of its striking lyrics - all makes sense when you know why - on the Left and to the Back blog.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Susanna and The Magical Orchestra 'Condition Of The Heart' (Rune Grammofon, 2006)

Prince's original is great, an epic of psychedelic balladry from 'Around The World In A Day' coming during his Imperial phase when he tossed out amazing songs on his way to the stack-heeled shoe store.

Scandinavian minimalist Susanna has delivered a wide range of amazing cover versions in a beautifully under-stated style - 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', 'Jolene', 'Crazy, Crazy Nights' (yes, the Kiss song), 'Jailbreak' and 'Lay All Your Love On Me' to name but a few that are up there with Arab Strap's version of 'Why Can't This Be Love' and Midlake's take on Black Sabbath in the incongruous covers stakes

Her take on 'Condition Of The Heart' is cracked, slow and quiet and just lays the song bare over a simple piano backing.

No more needs to be said really.

Download Susanna & The Magical Orchestra 'Condition Of The Heart' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Sickoakes 'Taking The Stairs Instead Of The Elevator' (Type, 2006)

Ten minutes of elegant, evolving, epic post-rock for Sweden's Sickoakes on the excellent Type label.

'Taking The Stairs Instead Of The Elevator' wraps itself around a heavily-delayed riff that seems to climb endlessly like one of those Escher stairways. The bass weaving itself around the guitar and the restrained drums.

The sound is layered carefully, building slowly and organically. However, when a queasy layer of sax comes in around the six-minute mark, it sends a chill of excitement down your spine as an unexpected new element comes into play. From here, the energy builds and there's some piano added into the soundscape.

The sax then starts to blow freely, hitting a Stooges 'Fun House' kind of vibe but only subtly as it's quite low in the mix. We then head into a breakdown where the elements are pared down to delayed guitar taps and some dialogue tape, winding to a fade rather than the explosive hit that might be expected from the genre. Restrained.

Very nice.

Taking The Stairs Instead Of The Elevator by _type

Monday, 18 April 2011

My Disco 'Closer' (Temporary Residence, 2011)

My Disco are an Australian band who have just signed with US indie stalwarts Temporary Residence to release their third album 'Little Joy'.

'Closer' is the first track of the album, opening with a nicely serrated clanging guitar line and building into a rolling groove with muttered chant vocals. The drums are assertive without being pummeling and are augmented with some nice metallic tom/kettle drums fills.

It's like a gleaming update of stuff like Th' Faith Healers or the anodised grooviness of Ganger. Or maybe Can with a lovely, metallic post-rock-y edge and a bit of Shellac in the guitar sound.

Well worth a listen.

Download My Disco 'Closer' (mp3) (Temporary Residence)

Red Snapper 'Hot Flush (Sabres Of Paradise Remix)' (Flaw 1995)

Lord Andrew Weatherall turns in a deconstruction of Red Snapper's double drum/double bass-driven jazzy rhythm monster. He moves the bass to the fore and moves the tune from peak-time rockabilly dancehall to late night chill out zone, sliding in between The Ballistic Brothers' 'London Hooligan Soul' and the Sabres' own 'Smokebelch'.

The squawking horn riff is replaced by a haunting refraining and spooky synth motif (like on of those motion-sensitive electronic ghosts you get in cheap, tacky gift shops) and the beat is a martial stutter but the double bass is retained and emphasised.

Very lovely. Original's well worth a listen too.

Download Red Snapper 'Hot Flush (Sabres Of Paradise Remix)' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Grizzly Bear 'Two Weeks (Spinner Live Session)' (2009)

Grizzly Bear's 'Veckatimest' is one of the key indie/alternative albums to cross-over in recent years (especially in the USA). It's a stunning confluence of melody, structure and harmony, a collection of songs that is well-represented by the piano-led 'Two Weeks'.

Four-part harmonies, sturdy bass and drums that work around everything else rather than dominating all coalesce to create a breezy hit of sunshine chamber pop. The breakdown to accapella three minutes in is particularly spectacular and Ed Droste's keening vocal is gorgeous throughout.

Download Grizzly Bear 'Two Weeks (Spinner Live Session)' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Watch the whole session over on Spinner.

Gallon Drunk - Some Fool's Mess (Clawfist, 1991)

Based around the singular vision of James Johnston, Gallon Drunk (still trucking today) emerged into the same 'lurching' scene as Th' Faith Healers, Breed and Moonshake. Gallon Drunk had a distinctly more (darkly) showbiz approach, as evidenced by their garish sleeve collages. Their live shows were like some kind of twisted, violent cabaret where the singer seemed to try to sing, play guitar and organ all at the same time, like some kind of Brylcreemed octopus. It was an utterly compelling spectacle though.

'Some Fool's Mess' jump starts with a startling Duane Eddy riff and a drunken, late-night swagger. The band tear into town and lay down a heavy beat, a marracca pulse and a leering, yelping vocal comes in over the sleazy, climbing bass riff. It's a hurtling mass of sound that recalls The Birthday Party's seedy underbelly jive (Johnston was to actually become a Bad Seed for a time during a hiatus in Gallon Drunk activities) or The Shadows after a spell in borstal and a heavy night on cheap speed and nail polish.

As the song progresses, the playing gets more and more urgent, dissolving ultimately into spent clatter as the instruments conk out.


Download Gallon Drunk 'Some Fool's Mess' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Talk Talk 'New Grass (Edit)' (Pond Life, 2001; orig. 1991 Verve single) (Talk Talk mp3)

When Talk Talk emerged with their fourth album ('Spirit Of Eden') it was in some ways a progression of the gospel, blues and jazz influences exhibited on the previous album ('The Colour Of Spring'). However, 'Spirit Of Eden' and the following album 'Laughing Stock' fully embraced those influences, disregarding totally the verse-chorus-verse approach or any sense of polishing the sound for pop consumption.

Instead, flow, build and feel are prioritised within a wonderfully organic, close-miked small group sound. It recalls David Sylvian's excursions into jazz ('Blue of Noon', for example) or, going further back, 60s British Jazz like Stan Tracey, Michael Garrick or even the jazz-inflected folk of Pentangle.

This edit of 'New Grass' is a b-side from the 'Laughing Stock' era (the album presumably named in honour of their previous label EMI). It comes in on a gently propulsive cymbal patter, the brushed drums creating a platform for gorgeously languid guitar and well-judged piano chords. Double bass dances away, adding to the mix without cramping the space, and a lovely organ part washes around the edge of the sound. It ebbs and flows through a full nine-and-a-half minutes and is totally immersive, developing subtly but steadily with the players moving in and out of focus as the mood demands.

'Spirit Of Eden' destroyed the band's relationship with their record label and 'Laughing Stock' was one of only two further albums to have been released since by Mark Hollis (the main songwriter and vision in Talk Talk). Nevertheless, both albums represent an utter artistic triumph and they have proved to be a massively influential band (Elbow for one, the more expansive sections of Suede's Dog Man Star', the wonderful Bark Psychosis to name but three).

Utterly enchanting and two of the most highly recommended albums that I'll ever write about.

Download Talk Talk 'New Grass (Edit)' (Talk Talk mp3) (Divshare)

The View 'I Need That Record' (Record Store Day 7", 2011)

I have only very occasionally been a fan of The View's oeuvre over the years but this is their contribution to Record Store Day 2011. It's a spiky little number, a pretty faithful cover of The Tweeds' 1980 power-pop paean to record-lust.

Of course, today is Record Store Day. Check out the full list of participating stores. Happy shopping!

The Tweed's version is also the soundtrack to 'I Need That Record: The Death (Or Possible Survival) Of The Independent Record Store' a US documentary featuring Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, Fugazi's Ian MacKaye, Noam Chomsky, ex-Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Lenny Kaye of The Patti Smith Group. You can watch the trailer here.

I Need That Record by The View

Friday, 15 April 2011

Tortoise 'Magnet Pulls Through' (Thrill Jockey, 1994)

The first track on the first Tortoise album contains many of the elements that would make them the gold standard for innovation in the sphere of instrumental 'post rock' noodling business.

An intriguing, ambient intro that sounds like a close-miked bell attached to a chain being dragged across the deck of the Ark Royal blends into a deft drum pattern and a nifty little bass riff. It's possibly in an unusual time signature (I can't be sure as I never learnt to count that stuff) and it explodes into a dynamic, kinetic section where most bands might put a chorus.

Very funky in an angular kind of way.

Download Tortoise 'Magnet Pulls Through' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Beach House 'Zebra' (Bella Union/Sub Pop, 2010)

'Zebra' is the opening track of Beach House's splendid 2010 album 'Teen Dream'. It sets the tone for the rest of the album perfectly, a mellow little riff on the guitar and a soothing, balmy vocal line, drums tish-tish-ing gently in the background.

By the chorus it has developed to encompass gently strident drums, cymbal rushes and gorgeous harmonies, a cavalcade of delightful melody. A lovely piece of AR Kane-ey Dreampop.

Download Beach House 'Zebra (UK Edit)' (mp3) (

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Album Leaf 'Always For You' (City Slang/Sub Pop, 2004)

Chirrupping sequencer lines intro the track, overlaid by a chunky, airy drum pattern and a low, buzzing sub-bass. It's fair to say that the Album Leaf deal in a rather sweet hybrid of organic and inorganic sounds.

The gorgeous dynamic of the track is set by the poised electric piano with a lovely sober vocal, full of longing and hopefulness.

The Album Leaf is the nom-de-post-rock-pop of Jimmy LaValle and he has released a string of very lovely, elegantly arranged gems. The album this track is from - 'In A Safe Place' - a particular favourite.

Download The Album Leaf 'Always For You' (mp3) (

Insides 'Clear Skin' (Guernica/4AD, 1994)

'Clear Skin' is relentless pieces of systems music from the short-lived and long since evaporated Insides.

Originally going by the name Earwig and released a couple of singles and an album, Kirsty Yates and Julian Serge Tardo changed their collective name and released a rather beguiling album of womb-y electronic chamber pop ('Euphoria') on 4AD offshoot Guernica. Insides' next act was to release a 37-minute, single-track CD that married the motorik, urban night drive of Kraftwerk with the mallet-happy frenzy of Steve Reich.

'Clear Skin' layers synth stabs, strings and warm percussion over a persistent double-track of xylophone. This creates a sense of constant motion and when the guitar comes in it adds a pastoral feel as the repetition causes a certain amount of dislocation and disorientation.

Around the ten-minute mark the guitars move a little more to the fore, gently prog-ing it up until they start bouncing around in infinite loops. They slowly recede again as a section is led by dark strings and burbling, the xylophones throbbing away. The sound parts as an angelic vocal bursts into the track like sun sweeping away rainclouds.

The next section pares the track back to a synthetic version of the xylophone, dubbing up the echoes and adding counter melodies on bells and a chirruping distortion of the main riff. The string melody comes back and leads into a final section that somehow echoes each individual component without causing overload.

Stick the headphones on and the gently shifting textures cause you to lose all track of time. And miss your stop.

Download Insides 'Clear Skin (TRNWRD Edit)' (mp3) (

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

LCD Soundsystem cover Franz Ferdinand for Record Store Day 'Live Alone' (Domino, 2011)

LCD Soundsystem join Debbie Harry, Peaches and Magnetic Fields' Stephen Merritt in an EP of Franz Ferdinand covers for Record Store Day.

LCD's version of 'Live Alone' is a louche, laid-back but funky take with James Murphy doing his best Alex Kapranos impression. It's a bit Roxy Music, a bit Bauhaus, maybe a bit Tom Tom Club. It sounds like something from the lost soundtrack reel to Pretty In Pink. In a good way.

LCD Soundsystem - Live Alone (Franz Ferdinand cover) by DominoRecordCo

The Jesus & Mary Chain 'Just Like Honey (Demo)' (Blanco Y Negro, 1985)

This song, in its single version, worked so perfectly at the end of 'Lost In Translation', the blurred, gentle feedback creating a beautifully hazey mood.

Especially around their first couple of albums, The Jesus & Mary Chain were more notorious for their aggressive, feedback-drenched anthems and live gigs/riots. However, this song was the opening track on their debut album ('Psychocandy') so right from the start they were trying to emphasise songwriting over their (or Alan McGee's) mischief-making.

In its demo form 'Just Like Honey' is just as sumptuous and sweet and reminds me a little of the twee pop which other Glasgow luminaries like The Pastels and Melody Dog are more famous. The acoustic take with just bass drum, tambourine hits and guitar works perfectly, casting the song in a more sun-dappled, positive light.

Download The Jesus & Mary Chain 'Just Like Honey (Demo)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Aztec Camera 'True Colors' (WEA b-side, 1990)

Lovely b-side cover from late-period Aztec Camera. An expressive, chiming guitar-led take on the song made famous by Cyndi Lauper. It was released in 1990 as the flipside of earnest rocker 'The Crying Scene'.

It's a much less syrup-y than the original version, with some nicely reverbed-up guitar and a simple heartfelt vocal over a simple drum-machine pattern. There's just the odd daub of organ, backing vocal and a sympathetic bassline to flesh out the song but it works rather well.


Download Aztec Camera 'True Colors' (mp3) (Mediafire)

The Jesus Lizard 'Nub' (Touch & Go, 1991)

The Jesus Lizard turned out this wonderfully abrasive jackhammer of a track on their 1991 album 'Goat'. Buzzsaw slide guitar dominates with the bass and drums meting out a demanding pace.

The Jesus Lizard were most famed for an element of danger and depravity in their live shows and for doing a split 7" single with Nirvana at the height of their post-Nevermind fame. Recorded by Steve Albini, the 'Goat' album is effortlessly aggressive and a disconcerting listen. 'Nub' stands out for the short-sharp-shock tactics.

Download The Jesus Lizard 'Nub' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Monday, 11 April 2011

Record Store Day goodies list - including Fleet Foxes 12"

Get in a lather over the list of UK goodies posted at the Record Store Day website.

Too many highlights but a few things jumped out at me on first look...


Fleet Foxes (Got!)
Helplessness Blues / Battery Kinzie, 12" LIMITED TO 500 COPIES
On 2nd May 2011 FLEET FOXES will release 'Helplessness Blues', the much-anticipated follow up to their 2008 self-titled debut, on Bella Union records. The title track and 'Battery Kinzie' form the double a-side single released exclusively on Record Store Day 2011."Helplessness Blues" was recorded over the course of a year at Avast Recording, Bear Creek Studios, Dreamland Studios, and Reciprocal Recording. The album was mixed by Phil Ek and co-produced by Fleet Foxes & Ek.
Label: Bella Union


James Yorkston (Got!)
'It's Lovely To Be Heard' 10" EP (Quantity: 500)
The Talking Diaries Of A Scottish Gent : Ransacked and elucidated by various salient friends Selections taken from his book 'It's Lovely To Be Here' with music from Jon Hopkins & King Creosote amongst others.
Label: Domino Records


Midlake / Will Self (Not Got!)
Am I Going Insane (Black Sabbath cover) / The Happy Detective
Exclusive 12" release of the Black Sabbath cover version by Midlake taken from the latest Late Night Tales release on CD, compiled by the Denton, Texas band.
The B-side is the story written and read by Will Self, from the same compilation.
Label: Late Night Tales


New Order / Joy Division (Not Got!)
New Order: Ceremony (Original Version) / In A Lonely Place (12" Version)
Joy Division: Ceremony (Previously released Heart & Soul rehearsal version) / In A Lonely Place (Unreleased rehearsal session)
All tracks remastered by Stephen Morris and Frank Arkwright 2011.
Design by Studio Parris Wakefield after the original design by Peter Saville.
Label: Rhino


Nirvana (Not Got!)
Hormoaning, 12" Mini Coloured Mini LP
Label: Polydor


Saint Etienne (Not Got!)
Saint Etienne on 45, 6 x 7" box set
7" One, Avenue (radio edit), Stranger In Paradise
7" Two, He's On The Phone, How I Learned To Love The Bomb
7" Three, Lose That Girl, Swim Swan Swim
7" Four, How We Used To Live Pt 1, How We Used To Live Pt 2
7" Five, Boy Is Crying, Northwestern
7" Six, Shower Scene, Aqualad
Strictly limited edition box containing six 7" singles. Each of these singles has never been on 7" before and the b-side tracks have not been on vinyl before


Suede (Got!)
The Drowners/To The Birds, Limited Edition 7" single.
Restricted to 500 copies, the single features previously unreleased demo versions of both sides of Suede's 1992 double A-side debut single. To reflect the 'alternate' nature of the recordings, the picture sleeve features the original image in an altered colour scheme.
Label: Demon Edsel


McCarthy 'Red Sleeping Beauty' (The Pink Label, 1986)

I have to confess to having only recently encountered this song and then only via a Mojo magazine cover CD (the indie shame!). However, I have fallen for it's spiraling guitar charms and can see what a pivotal record it was (or should have been).

My awareness of McCarthy is more for the likes of 'Should The Bible Be Banned' (a more straightforward song with a provocative lyrical theme), the fact that Stereolab's Tim Gane was in them (and also Laetitia Sadier on a later album), and that this record was produced by The Wolfhounds' Dave Callaghan who went on to form the amazing Moonshake band.

'Red Sleeping Beauty' has a more ambitious sound that the polemical rockabilly of 'Should The Bible Be Banned', encompassing swirls of guitar, urgent drums and a gorgeous melodic sweep. The choppy guitar chords it opens with bring to mind the wonder of Sebadoh's 'Soul and Fire' (will have to blog that one day). The cascading guitar lines that overlay it bring the rolling rhythm to life so that the vocals can sound a yearning tale of the waking dream/nightmare of (presumably) Thatcher's Britain.

Splendid stuff.

Download McCarthy 'Red Sleeping Beauty' (mp3) (Mediafire)

The Auteurs 'Housebreaker / Valet Parking' (Rough Trade Singles Club, 1993)

The unsung heroes of Britpop, The Auteurs poured The Kinks, Roxy Music, a huge dose of acerbic wit, sixties chamber pop, bitterness, a singular vision and some more acerbic bitterness into a series of wonderful albums. Along with Suede and Blur's 'Modern Life Is Rubbish', The Auteur's albums are pretty much all I'd save from the flames if I happened to encounter the breakout of fire at The House of Britpop.

These two acoustic versions of tracks from the peerless 'New Wave' were paired-up for the Rough Trade Singles Club and show off Luke Haines' songwriting craft in its full glory. The laid-back setting just serves to the reveal the sneer in Haines' voice amid the acoustic guitar, bells, gentle bongos and cello.

Luke Haines memoir of the Brit Pop era ('Bad Vibes') is well worth reading also.
Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in its downfall

Download The Auteurs 'Housebreaker (Acoustic)' (mp3) (Mediafire)
Download The Auteurs 'Valet Parking (Acoustic)' (mp3) (Mediafire)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Slowdive 'Catch The Breeze (Peel Session)' (1991)

Derided as bedwetting ninnies at the time, history has been kind to Slowdive. They've become recognised as one of the more innovative of the original shoegazers, respected by a host of contemporary pedal merchants alongside others such as Pale Saints, Moose and, of course, My Bloody Valentine, though MBV were a much bigger deal than being mere shoegazers.

The cover of their debut album 'Just For A Day' pretty neatly sums up the sound of the early records: blurred smears of sound, indistinct but engaging, best viewed as an Impressionistic whole.

'Catch The Breeze' was the first track of theirs that I fell in love with. It comes in with a hit of melody and strident drums. Compared to the melancholy shimmer of the first two EPs, 'Catch The Breeze' is an orgy of reflective harmony with cascades of guitar in the verses and arcs of sky-scraping guitar in the chorus.

The Peel Session version is a little harder and more live-sounding (obviously, I suppose) and the track fades off to infinity, the guitars bouncing through their sumptuous delays.

Download Slowdive 'Catch The Breeze (Peel Session)' (Shoegaze mp3) (

Eurythmics 'Take Me To Your Heart' (RCA, 1981)

Having first encountered Eurythmics via their glacial synth-pop, this album came as something of a discontinuity. Firstly, it was a surprise that there was an album before 'Sweet Dreams'. Moreover, it was a shock that it sounded like this - an album obviously inspired and indebted to the masters of German progressive, Kosmische or 'Kraut' rock (call it what you will). Not that I knew what any of that was until long after I first heard this album.

'In The Garden' was produced by Conny Plank in Cologne and features a plethora of notable German guest musicians - Can's Jaki Liebzeit (drums) and Holger Czukay (french horn), DAF's Robert Gorl (drums) and Marcus Stockhausen (horn, brass). It's a rhythm-heavy album but still song-based, though a long way from the sleek pop that made them famous.

'Take Me To Your Heart' enters on a plodding, simplistic bass line with subtle, clipped drums finding and creating space, letting the bass dominate. Occasional ripples of synth strings, harpsichord and guitar frills the sound but nothing gets in the way of the steady but unrelenting motion of the rhythm.

The vocal comes in clear and quite passionless, creating a mood of zoned-out reflection. The locked-groove is Can-like in construction, rolling on through the song, slowly pulsing onwards, unchanging.

Beautifully hypnotic.

Download Eurythmics 'Take Me To Your Heart' (mp3) (Rapidshare)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Arab Strap 'Why Can't This Be Love? (Live)' (2003)

Arab Strap were responsible for quite a sequence of unlikely cover versions over their career. Bonnie Tyler and Kiss also received the loving, but drunken, caress of the Arab Strap cover version.

This heartfelt, melancholy, but almost falling apart version of Van Halen's strident synth-rocker 'Why Can't This Be Love?' was recorded live at the Cottier Theatre in Glasgow 2003 and sold on their European tour that year, an album that went by the name 'The Cunted Cirus'. Bless them.

Download Arab Strap 'Why Can't This Be Love? (Live Van Halen cover)' (mp3) (Rapidshare)