Sunday, June 27, 2010

From the Archives - Al James of Dolorean

Songs To Learn And Sing - Al James of Dolorean Interview

Al supported Damien Jurado on his On My Way To Absence tour in 2005. Prior to playing in Whelans I spoke to Al about Dolorean's Violence In The Snowy Fields album. The gig was spellbinding and included a fantastic version of Dolorean's Hannibal, MO, the standout track from the band's first album Not Exotic.

Al explained the different approach he took to the songwriting process between records one and two: "Not Exotic maintained a mood throughout and everything stayed pretty restrained, pulled back the songs were fairly narrative, and so with Violence In The Snowy Fields lyrically I wanted to speak a little bit more generally, not as specific with the narratives and I wanted the songs to be a little bit more upbeat and stand on their own. There's a little bit more of a country influence, maybe a Buffalo Springfield or Byrds kinda feel to some of the songs."

The inlay card of Violence In The Snowy Fields mentioned both Levon Helm and Dennis Wilson, Al explains why: "The Byrds, I like their stuff, I like what they do but not nearly as much as say, The Band, who I think make about as soulful a music, as is possible in the genre. The same with The Beach Boys, In my opinion it's mainly when Dennis, Carl or Brian is singing, sorry Mike. I'm probably not alone in that. Especially Dennis, it's weird to hear those Beach Boys records and then you hear a song like Forever that just sticks out like a blue-eyed soul song in the middle of a record. Dennis was one of those crash and burn characters but his solo work is some of my favourite that I've ever discovered. It really changed me and I don't think that we draw too much of it arrangement wise, but the spirit of it, the passion and genuineness of it is hopefully something which I aspire to. Pacific Ocean Blue holds up surprisingly well, song for song, the arrangements, the melodies, the rawness of his voice totally transcends time - it's beautiful. To me it's on par with Chris Bell's solo record." 

Dolorean - Violence In The Snowy Fields (Yep Roc, 2004)

Dolorean are based in Portland, Oregon and to date have released three albums, their fourth, The Unfazed is due this autumn on Partisan Records in the US and Fargo Records in Europe. A free mp3 of The Unfazed, the title track, is available from the band's website here.  

Dolorean - The Destruction
(from Violence in the Snowy Fields, Yep Roc Records 2004)

Dennis Wilson - Forever (Al's Choice)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Episode 302

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 302

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Iris EP (The Leaf Label, 2010)

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Retina EP (The Leaf Label, 2010)

This episode featured a track from both the Iris and Retina EPs by Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Both EPs are released by the Leaf Label as individually numbered limited edition white vinyl 12''s (1,600 copies per EP). Both EPs are extraordinary. According to Leaf: "Retina was recorded in a Reykjavík church in January with the Schola Cantorum Chamber Choir. Completed at the same time, but featuring a completely separate sonic character, Iris is intrinsically linked to its partner by a common aquatic theme. Iris was recorded in Reykjavik’s Greenhouse studios by Australian émigré sound artist and engineer Ben Frost, and mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson (Camille, Björk, Bonnie Prince Billy). The five songs focus on the unique resonant sound of the steel pan – vocalist Mariam Wallentin’s current musical passion...The two EPs sound very different – Retina symbolizing the reflection of light, with a big and wet and dark sound. Iris is more direct and raw – it has a drier, purer, more intimate sound, with hardly any embellishment beyond the percussion." These two EPs are probably the best records I've heard all year. For anyone who misses the vinyl, both EPs will be released as an album entitled Rivers by the Leaf Label in August

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood
(taken from Retina, 2010)

Episode 302 - 24/06/2010

Wildbirds & Peacedrums - The Wave
Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Tiny Holes in This World
Enemies - Backaches and Cardigans
Male Bonding - Franklin
Faust - Ozean
Faust - Hit Me
Antoni Maiovvi - The Sigh From The Sky Was a Lie Without Doubt
Crystal Castles - Year of Silence
Harmonia - Sehr Kosmisch
Actress - Always Human
Micah P. Hinson - Take Off That Dress For Me
Teenage Fanclub - When I Still Have Thee
Teenage Fanclub - Into The City
Teenage Fanclub - What You Do To Me
Sleeping States - Rings of Saturn
Damien Jurado - Kansas City
Phosphorescent - We'll Be Here Soon
Phosphorescent - Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Diamond Dew
Nina Nastasia - This Familiar
Mountain Man - Mouthwings
Mountain Man - Arabella
Wild Nothing - Drifter
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Say No To Love
On No Ono - Icicles (Efterklang Remix)
Efterklang - Modern Drift (On No Ono Remix)
Health - USA Boys

Friday, June 18, 2010

Episode 301

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 301

Jack - Pioneer Soundtracks
(1996 Too Pure Records, 2007 Spinney Records)

This episode featured a few tracks from Jack's debut album, Pioneer Soundtracks. Jack were formed in early 1992 in Cardiff by vocalist Anthony Reynolds and guitarist Matthew Scott before relocating to London. The band signed to Too Pure records and started work on their debut album with producer Peter Walsh. Anthony Reynolds always professed a love of Scott Walker so the choice of Walsh, who had produced both Climate of Hunter and Tilt was no surprise. The album was released the following year and a couple of its singles, all made Single of the Week in Melody Maker. The album justifiably received some amazing reviews upon its release.

Jack - Wintercomessummer (Too Pure, 1996)

Pioneer Soundtracks is a string-laden epic which drew comparisons to Scott Walker, Tindersticks and Nick Cave, to say it was out of pace with prevailing trends in the late nineties Britpop-era UK is an understatement. This is one of my all time favourite albums and upon its tenth anniversary it deservedly got the lavish 2CD rerelease treatment on Spinney Records. The reissue included all the b-sides of the various singles and a few live tracks from a gig in France. Anthony Reynolds once said in an interview that Pioneer Soundtracks could have been called, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Side One is all about putting on your make-up, plucking your eyebrows and putting talc in dark places. Side Two is meant to hold your hand while you come down the following morning." A masterpiece well worth tracking down, as is Jack's second album The Jazz Age from 1998. The band broke up in 2002 and Jawbone have recently published Anthony Reynolds' biography of Scott Walker, The Impossible Dream: The Story of Scott Walker and The Walker Brothers.

Jack - White Jazz
(Too Pure, 1996)

Episode 301 - 17/06/2010

Beach House - Lover of Mine
Channel One - Retrace
Delays - Unsung
Grovesnor - Dan
Bonobo - Stay the Same
Active Child - She Was a Vision
Wild Nothing - Chinatown
Wild Nothing - Pessimist
Dum Dum Girls - Jail La La
Health - USA Boys
Antony and the Johnsons - Another World
Night Beats - H-Bomb
High Places - Can't Feel Nothing (HP Remix)
Jaga Jazzist - Bananfleur
Oen Sujet - Simpleton
Music Go Music - Explorers of the Heart
Voice of Seven Thunders - The Burning Mountain (playing Body and Soul festival, June 19-20)
The Black Keys - She's Long Gone
Stars - Dead Hearts
Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void
Jack - ...Of Lights
Jack - I Didn't Mean It Marie
Jack - Wintercomessummer
Here We Go Magic - Collector
Crystal Castles - Celestica (Thurston Moore Remix)
Damien Jurado - Arkansas
Palace - Come In (Bonnie Prince Billy plays Whelans, July 28)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Episode 300

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 300

Wild Nothing - Gemini (Captured Tracks, 2010)

Episode 300! This episode featured the fantastic cover version of LCD Soundsystem's Drunk Girls by Wooden Shjips and a couple of tracks from Gemini, the debut album from Wild Nothing, if you like us loved last year's cover version of Cloudbusting then you'll love the album. Gemini is out now on Captured Tracks, who describe it as, "full of dreamy, carefree synth-pop songs that linger with an inexplicable sense of regret." We agree and also are really thankful that we got our order in early for the silkscreen-sleeved clear vinyl limited run - it's beautiful and sold out.

Wooden Shjips - Drunk Girls (LCD Soundsystem)

This episode also featured H-Bomb by Night Beats from their soon to be released 7'' on Trouble in Mind Records. H-Bomb is a brilliant blast of psychedelic garage rock. We can't get enough of it. Here's a video for another track off the 7'' EP.

Night Beats - Shadows in the Night
(Trouble in Mind Records, 2010) 

Episode 300 - 10/06/2010

Micah P. Hinson - Take Off That Dress FOr Me
The Hold Steady - The Weekenders
The National - Anyone's Ghost
High Places - Can't Feel Nothing
Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday
Wild Nothing - Bored Games
Actress - Paint, Straw and Bubbles
Night Beats - H-Bomb
The Drums - Forever and Ever Amen (St. Eteinne remix)
Wooden Shjips - Drunk Girls
Sleigh Bells - Kids
The Cloud I'm Under - Kim and Thurston Don't Fight Like This
Male Bonding - Franklin
Voice of Seven Thunders - Out of the Smoke
Here We Go Magic - Surprise
Active Child - I'm In Your Church At Night
The Chap - We Work in Bars
Spacemen 3 - Big City (Everyone I Know Can Be Found Here)
Real Estate - Motorbikes
Real Estate - Atlantic City
Nina Nastasia - Cry, Cry baby
Nina Nastasia - A Kind of Courage
Mountain Man - Soft Skin
Kathryn Williams - Just A Feeling
Malcolm Middleton - A Brighter Beat
Michelle Phillips - Victim of Rmance
Smoosh - The World's Not Bad
Metric - Gimme Sympathy

Friday, June 04, 2010

From the Archives - Boa Morte Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - Boa Morte Interview

Boa Morte have just released their second album, The Dial Waltz, so it was great when Cormac Gahan from the band came in for an interview a few weeks ago to chat about the record. Cormac picked some great music to play on the episode, including tracks by Icelanders Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir. When asked if this is representative of what he's currently listening to Cormac answers: "Post classical or neo-classical type of stuff, a lot of it is coming out of Iceland, Jóhann Jóhannsson but even people like Max Reichter, soundtrack music, heavy strings, heavy orchestration, I think it's great especially the stuff coming out of Iceland, music that's so lush and full." Cormac's not sure if this music has an influence on Boa Morte's sound, "I wonder does it somehow influence the string sections that we put on the ends of some of the songs."

Boa Morte's Cormac Gahan and Paul Ruxton

Daniel Presley produced both The Dial Waltz and Boa Morte's debut album Soon It Will Come Time to Face the World Outside. When asked what type of sound Boa Morte were looking for producer Daniel Presley to capture Cormac explains: "A warm, live sound, the funny thing about Daniel is that he had actually produced an album by a band called Spain, The Blue Moods of Spain, and that album was the sound we were looking for. It probably would have been one of the things we would have played a producer, to give them an idea of the sound we were after, and it just so happened that he had produced and done the string arrangements on that album."

Youtube videos for some of the tracks chosen by Cormac are below. The Dial Waltz is out now.  

Adrian Crowley - The Wishing Seat (taken from
Season of the Sparks, 2009)

Bowerbirds - Chimes (taken from Upper Air 2009)

Jóhann Jóhannsson - Odi et Amo (taken from Englabörn, 2002)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Episode 299

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 299

The Blue Aeroplanes - Beatsongs (1991 Ensign Records)

This week's episode featured a few tracks from Bristol's The Blue Aeroplanes. The band can easily give The Fall a run for its money in line-up changes, according to the band's myspace page they have had over 47 members over the years. The band's 1989 album Swagger got the remastered and reissue treatment a few years ago but my own favourite has always been the album that came next in the discography - Beatsongs.

The album was recorded over a two month period in LA with producer Larry Kalman Hirsch. The album opens with the single Yr Own World and other highlights include the singles Fun and a cover of Paul Simon's The Boy in the Bubble. The album's towering glory for me though has always been the epic 6 minute Colour Me. Ensign records was bought by Chrysalis, and it took two years for the band to get out of their recording contract. Eventually their next album Life Model, appeared on Beggars Banguet in 1994. Broken and Mended, the third Blue Aeroplanes track played on this episode, comes from Life Model. 

The Blue Aeroplanes - Colour Me (from Beatsongs)

The Blue Aeroplanes - The Boy in the Bubble
(from Beatsongs)

This episode also featured two tracks from Extra Life. According to LOAF Recordings: "Extra Life is the primary musical vehicle for Charlie Looker, singer, guitarist and composer, who has become one of the most intense and respected voices in the New York experimental underground. For years Looker was a core member of legendary brutal chamber ensemble Zs and has also worked with diverse artists such as Dirty Projectors, Glenn Branca, William Parker and the S.E.M. Ensemble. Formed in 2007, Extra Life combines elements of Medieval chant, metallic hardcore, dark neofolk, abstract modernism and lush pop."

The Refrain is taken from the band's 2008 debut album Secular Works and Black Hoodie is from their recently released second album Made Flesh. The brilliant video for the first single off the album, Headshrinker, is below.    

Extra Life - Headshrinker (taken from Made Flesh,

Conor O'Toole from Cork Campus Radio's The Underground of Happiness interviewed Extra Life's Charlie Looker when the band played last year's Primavera Sound. The interview can be downloaded here.

Episode 299 - 03/06/2010

Quack Quack - Big Sounds
Royal Bangs - War Bells
Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union
Micah P. Hinson - The Cross That Stole My Heart Away
John Grant - I Wanna Go To Marz
Field Music - Let's Write A Book
Wild Palms - Deep Dive
Christy & Emily - Kings and Monsters
Wildbirds & Peacedrums - Bleed Like There Was No Other Flood
Boa Morte - Quarter To Ten
Extra Life - The Refrain (playing Whelans, June 5)
Extra Life - Black Hoodie
Blackbox Recorder - Uptown Top Ranking
The Honeys - Shoot the Curl
The Vaselines - Rory Rides Me Raw
The Pipettes - Our love Was Saved By Spacemen
The Would Be's - All This Rubbish Is True
Grovesnor - Find A Way To Stop Him
Stronoway - I Saw You Blink
The Fall - Mexico Wax Solvent
The Blue Aeroplanes - Colour Me
The Blue Aeroplanes - Yr Own World
The Blue Aeroplanes - Broken & Mended
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Time of the Assassins
Ann Scott - All Eternity (playing Whelans, June 9)
Malachai - Snowflake
Faust - Feed the Greed
Wooden Shjips - Motorbike