Monday, February 28, 2011

Episode 337

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 337

This episode featured two tracks each from Connie Converse, The Memory Band and Rachel Grimes. We started the show with Rachel Grimes. The tracks are taken from her 2009 album Book of Leaves. This is Rachel's first solo album having previously played with  Louisville Kentucky's Rachel's. A sparce collection of solo piano songs mostly under three minutes, it's a beautiful album.

Rachel Grimes - Book of Leaves (For Solo Piano)
(2009, RuminanCe Records)

The two Connie Converse tracks are taken from the album How Sad, How Lonely. Connie was a singer songwriter active in New York in the 1950s but who disappeared in 1974. Her recordings, which were recorded in the late 50s and early 60s were released in 2009. Lau derette Recordings describe Connie as "the quintessential musical enigma – an artist before her time, forgotten, and disappeared without a trace over 35 years ago. If you stripped away the sharp literary mind, the precision of the songcraft, the bare honesty of her humble recordings, you would still be left with an unanswerable question: Where did she go? Why did she pack her belongings into a car, write goodbye letters to her friends and family, and vanish?" Her amazing story can be read here. If you like Talkin' Like You below, then the album is highly recommended. It's a beautiful package with extensive liner notes from Philip Converse (Connie's brother), Gene Deitch (who recorded Connie in the 50s) and Daniel Dzula (producer of the 2009 CD).

Connie Converse - How Sad, How Lonely

Finally this episode also featured two tracks from Oh My Days, the latest album from Stephen Cracknell's The Memory Band. The line-up is ever-fluid and this times includes rhythm from bassist Jon Thorne and drummer Tom Page and an all-new vocal frontline featuring Jess Roberts, Jenny mcCormick, Hannah Caughlin and Liam Bailey. Demon Days and Ghosts are two of the ten originals on the record that also includes covers of Sandy Denny's By the Time It gets Dark, Graham Bond's Love is the Law and Jeff Alexander's Come Wander With Me. It's a fantastic record which easily sits alongside their 2006 masterpiece Apron Strings.

The Memory Band - On My Days (2010, Hungry Hill)

Episode 337 - 24/02/2011


Rachel Grimes - Every Morning
Rachel Grimes - Mossgrove
Vessels - All Our Ends
Strands - Awake
Strands - Chow Bell
Thomas Truax - February What Ya Doin To Me
Josh T. Pearson - Sweetheart I Ain't Your Christ
John Stammers - Baby Dea
Darren hayman & the Secondary Modern - Winter Makes Me Want You More
Nickel Pressing - Beck is Back
The Fall - Cruiser'e Creek
The Fall - Couldn't Get Ahead
Best Coast - Crazy for You
Connie Converse - Johnny's Brother
Connie Converse - Man In the Sky
Metronomy - She Wants
Pete Yorn - Precious Stone
Dutch Uncles - Fragrant
The Memory Band - Demon Days
The Memory Band - Ghosts
The Go! Team - Buy Nothing Day
The Go! Team - Tornado
Tim Kasher - I'm Afraid I'm Gonna Die
Transept - Leopard Slug Love Song
The Phoenix Foundation - Buffalo
Mt. Desolation - Departure
The Walkmen - Angela Surf City
The Duke & the King - No Easy Way Out
Johnny Flynn - The Water
This is the Kit - Sometimes the Sea
Grinderman - Palaces of Montezuma (Barry Adamson remix)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whipping Boy - Heartworm

Whipping Boy - Heartworm Flyer

Niall Connolly, recently reviewed Whipping Boy's Heartworm album for We Are Noise. His brilliant review made me go back and play the album again. It still sounds incredibly fresh and exciting 16 years later. Here's a couple of scans of the original flyers advertising the record's release and a brilliant performance of We Don't Need Nobody Else from French TV. Niall's latest album, the excellent Brother, The Fight Is Fixed is available from cdbaby.   

Sunday, February 20, 2011

From the Archives - 16 Horsepower Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - David Eugene Edwards of 16 Horsepower Interview

Secret South, 16 Horsepower’s third album was released in 2000 on Glitterhouse records and the band played their first Irish show on March 21, 2001. The gig started with the track American Wheeze and just thinking about the sound that David Eugene Edwards managed to elicit from his Chemnitzer concertina still sends shivers down my spine. I still regard this as one of the greatest gigs I've ever witnessed. Before the gig I interviewed David Eugene Edwards for the long defunct Zeitgeist magazine. The article is below.

16 Horsepower feature two Americans (David Eugene Edwards and Steven Taylor) and two Frenchmen (Jean-Yves Tola and Pascal Humbert), and the band has been fusing Appalachian folk with intelligent post-punk since 1992. The band signed to A&M in 1995 and released two albums for the label (1996’s Sackcloth & Ashes and 1998’s Low Estate). When A&M was taken over by Universal the band were let go, one imagines confused record company executives trying to figure out how to market a band that play traditional instruments (concertina, banjo, hurdy-gurdy, mandolin and upright bass) but who sound as intense as Joy Division or Nick Cave. Glitterhouse are soon to release a live album, Hoarse, that was recorded in Denver and Paris and features songs culled from the first two records together with three covers: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising, Joy Division’s Day Of The Lords and The Gun Club’s Free Spirit. The album is nothing less then astonishing. I spoke to David Eugene Edwards and asked him about the live album and the band:


“People were always asking for it, you know, pretty much since we started people were like 'Oh, ye should make a live record', and I don’t really care for live records, to tell you the truth so I had never really thought about it but people kept talking about it so we said OK and I haven’t really heard it ‘cause I can’t even listen to it. We were just making it available for the people who came to the shows, as something special, that only they could get there, but then they started selling it through the mailing list at Glitterhouse and it did well enough so now they’re releasing it everywhere.”

16 Horsepower's sound:

“I’m a modern person, I live in the world that we live in but at the same time I’m really drawn to things that are from the past. Pretty much as far back as I can go, especially with music – I’ve always had an interest in traditional music from all over the world, primarily Appalachian music was really important to me for a long time but at the same time I like heavy music as well so I think that the music we make is a mixture of the two. I can’t really put myself fully in to one or the other so I kind of mix them I guess.”

Cover versions:

“It’s just particular songs that I really like and it doesn’t make a difference to me where they come from and what type of music it is – if it’s a good song, then it’s a good song. We don’t play cover songs that often; it’s just something that we’ve recently started to do, for fun really. We just chose songs that have some meaning to us that we think we can do it some justice to as far as playing them.”

Self-producing Secret South:

“The first three records we did were on A&M records, and they (A&M) were pretty sceptical about having us produce the records ourselves, they let us chose whoever we wanted as far as the producer was concerned and that was great – I love to work with people, when I admire what they’ve done. But no matter who it is, the sound of your music is going to change and you just have to realise that before you go into it. You have to surrender it up in a way, but if you trust these people than it can be a really good experience. The first album was produced by Warren Bruleigh, who has worked with the Violent Femmes and Lou Reed. John Parrish produced the second record. We liked both of these people and we had a great time working with them but we really, really wanted to do it ourselves, to make sure that if we had any complaints, they were our fault and nobody else’s. We were pretty confident that we could do it and we were really happy with the outcome.”


“In America there is a big resurgence in, whatever you want to call it – alternative country music and there is a lot of good music within that genre. I don’t really put our music in there, we have been associated with that in America, that’s pretty much where we get put – in the alternative country category – which is fine but I think there is a lot of really good music out there which is more roots-based, whether it’s country or gypsy-based or whatever. Irish and French music have been doing this forever – bringing traditional music into the more modern music. America has more of a separation between music. Word of mouth in Europe is a lot quicker and people travel a lot more between country to country so we end up doing so much better in Europe then America. We end up spending so much time over here, which is great. The only drawback is that I hate being away from home but at the same time I want to go where people want to hear what we have to play.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Episode 336

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 336

Strands - Chow Bell EP (2011)

This episode featured the Vision Air remix of Chow Bell by Strands. The original version of Chow Bell can be found on the Strands self-titled debut album released in October last year. Strands is the solo project of producer and Halfset member Stephen Shannon and the Chow Bell EP features some great remixes of one of the standout tracks from his album. Rod Tyler's video for Chow Bell is pretty fantastic. 

This episode also featured two tracks from Richard Davies' 1997 album Telegraph. Davies was the creative force behind Australian band The Moles. Untune the Sky, their debut album from 1991 was reissued last year by Kill Shamem records and is a fantastic psychedelic pop/punk record. After The Moles disbanded Davies formed the short-lived Cardinal with Eric Matthews. We're often played tracks from their self-titled record on the show but for this episode we focus on Davies' solo masterpiece, 1997's Telegraph. This was one of the first albums I was given to review when I wrote for a magazine in Cork in the late 90s and it has remained a firm favourite of mine, I even used the opening bars of the album's first track, Cantina as an intro jingle for an Arts magazine show I presented on community radio in 1999. Cantina still sounds fantastic today. Richard Davies is now an Attorney-At-Law in Massachusetts.  

Codeine are another favourite of ours here at Songs to Learn and Sing. Back in 1994 a flatmate bought White Birch, the band's second album and ever before we had heard the terms slowcore, sadcore or post-rock we knew there was something startingly original about this record. It remains a bleak, melancholic masterpiece and is an essential listen, a landmark 90s album.   

Episode 336 - 17/02/2011


Josh T. Pearson - Woman, When I've Raised Hell
Lift to Experience - When We Shall Touch
Lift to Experience - Falling From Cloud 9
British Sea Power - Living is so Easy
Halves - Darling, You'll Meet Your Maker
The Black Heart Procession - Silence (Mr. Tube Remix)
Vessels - Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute (Rolo Tomassi Remix)
Codeine - Vacancy
John Stammers - Idle I'm
John Stammers - Hit You From Behind
The Godfathers - She Gives me Love
The Mountain Goats - Damn Those Vampires
Hotels - Lonely Islands
Seefeel - Rip-Run
Moon Wiring Club - The Victorian Butter Boat
Japan - Life Without Buildings
Colin Blunstone - Caroline Goodbye
Colin Blunstone - Say You Don't Mind
Richard Davies - Cantina
Richard Davies - Papillon
Richard Davies - Great Republic
Strands - Chow Bell (Vision Air Remix)
Dean & Britta - I'll Keep it With Mine (Scott hardkiss Remix)
Ladytron - Ghosts (Cassette Jam Remix)
Dum Dum Girls - Wrong Feels Right
Essie Jain - I'm Not Afraid of the Dark

Sunday, February 13, 2011

From the Archives - Clayhill Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - Clayhill Interview

Clayhill - Acoustic (Eat Sleep Records, 2005)

A number of months ago I played The Dream Academy's version of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want on the show but an even better version of the song can be found on Clayhill's 2005 Acoustic record. Clayhill's cover also plays over the final scene of Shane Meadows' This Is England.

Clayhill are a 3-piece folk band featuring Ali Friend, Ted Barnes and Gavin Clark. Ali had been in Red Snapper and also wrote and played with Ted on a number of Beth Orton albums before teaming up with former Sunhouse vocalist Gavin. The band's EP Cuban Green was released in early 2004 and was followed by Small Circle, the brilliant debut album in September of that year.

This interview with the band was first broadcast in September 2004 on Episode 2 of the programme. Clayhill were in Ireland doing a few gigs and had just come off stage having opened for Paddy Casey in Dublin's Olympia Theatre. "It's weird doing gigs like that when there's a lot of chatter going on, but we really enjoyed it, in some ways it makes you play better," admitted Gavin.

Shane Meadows had also directed a short film for the band and Gavin explained how the colaboration with the director came about; "Years ago we met at Alton Towers, when we were both working there, I worked in a chip van and he was a face painter and we started writing songs together but he went away to college and started making these really mad films, one thing lead to another and I started putting music to his short films. When we got this record together we thought it would be a really good thing if he could do a short film for us." The resulting 2005 film, Northern Soul was screened at a number of cinemas in the UK followed by a Clayhill performance.

The band would also contribute music to Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes and the aforementioned This is England. Afterlight from the soundtrack of Dead Man's Shoes is a demo of Alpha Male, the opening track on Small Circle.

Clayhill's second album, Mine at Last was released in 2006 and currently they seem to be on a hiatus with the band members working on other musical projects. Gavin has contributed vocals to a number of UNKLE tracks and with Ted has also continued to collborate with Meadows, writing music for his 2008 feature Somers Town.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Episode 335

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 335

Hal Blaine - Psychedelic Percussion
(Dunhill Records, 1967)

This episode featured the track Flashes (February) from Hal Blaine's instrumental album, Psychedelic Percussion, released by Dunhill Records in 1967. The Wreaking Crew drummer's psych classic features 12 tracks, each representing a month of the year and is described by Harkit Records, in their 2005 reissue, as the album that "portrayed the master drummer on acid". Whereas his previous solo record, 1963's Deuces, "T's," Roadsters & Drums was in keeping with its time a  mostly surf affair with flushes of fuzz guitar, Psychedelic Percussion tries to represent the late 60s acid-psych scene. As such the album has often been dismissed as merely an exploitation or novelty record cashing in on a popular genre, but its crazy sound effects and sublime drumming guarantee its place alongside any other late 60s cult masterpieces.

Hal Blaine - Psychedelic Percussion
(Harkit Records, 2005 Reissue)

White Noise - An Electric Storm (1968, Island Records)

From one 60s cult masterpiece to another. Also featured on this episode was Here Come the Fleas from White Noise's An Electric Storm. White Noise was the 60s electronic band formed by classical bass player David Vorhaus and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson. An Electric Storm has been hugely influential to everyone from Stereolab and Broadcast to The Orb and Julian Cope. Island released a remastered version of the record in 2007 with expanded liner notes. Seriously recommended for fans of The Silver Apples or the United States of America. Below is a brilliant clip from a the 2003 BBC documentary Alchemists of Sound, featuring Delia Derbyshire explaining how she splices tape on reel-to-reel machines. The Delia Derbyshire website is also essential reading.

Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

Episode 335 - 10/02/2011


Josh T. Pearson - Sweetheart I Ain't Your Christ
Galaxie 500 - Blue Thunder (Dean Wareham plays Workman's Club, Fri 11 Feb)
Galaxie 500 - Tugboat
Galaxie 500 - Fourth of July
Darren Hayman & the Secondary Modern - Winter Makes Me Want You More
Anna Calvi - Desire
Cold Cave - The Great Pan Is Dead
If By Yes - Still Breathing (Cornelius Mix)
The Human League - Night People
Appolossa - Another Lonely Night
Cut Copy - Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution
Music Go Music - Warm In The Shadows
Invasion vs. Shackelton - Wizards in Dub part 1
British Sea Power - We Are Sound
The Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
Link Wray - Friday Night Dance Party
Buffalo Springfield - Do I Have To Come Right Out And Say It
Hal Blaine - Flashes (February)
Metronomy - She Wants
The Go! team - Buy Nothing Day
Vessels (feat. Stuart Warwick) - Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute
Broadcast & The Focus Group - Reception/Group Therapy
White Noise - Here Come the Fleas
Transept - Death ot the Sea Sentinel

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Azymuth - Red Box, Dublin 2002

Azymuth's Debut Irish Concert

The jazz legends made their debut Irish appearance on 14th April 2002 at Dublin's Red Box (now Tripod) in support of their Partido Novo record. It was a great performance from the Brazilian masters, but a rather frustrating night from a fan's point of view. As far as I can recall the band were delayed getting to Dublin and took to the stage rather later than expected. Their show was then cut short due to a club night that was scheduled to begin in the same venue at 11pm. Lots of punters were rightfully really annoyed. It's definately the only time I've ever witnessed two band members leave the stage during a drum solo, only to return eating sandwiches and drinking beer. Legends. 

Flyer: Azymuth, Red Box Dublin, 14/02/2002

Azymuth - Partido Novo (Far Out Recordings, 2002)

Episode 334

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 334

Back after a winter hiatus with the usual mixture of new and old tunes. Kicking off this episode of Songs To Learn And Sing is a classic pop oddity from Jan & Dean. The album was an attempt by Jan Berry to answer a question of his own: Is it possible to take contemporary popular music and develop it symphonically? So Pop Symphony No. 1 presents instrumental interpretations of Jan & Dean's hits by The Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra, conducted by Jan Berry & George Tipton. A long lost classic record. 

Jan & Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 (Liberty Records, 1965)

This episode also featured Five Thousand More, a track from Clann Zú's 2003 album Rua. Clann Zú was an Australian/Irish band fronted by Declan deBarra who also wrote and animated the Five Thousand More video. The band split up after the release of their second album in 2005. Rua is a brilliant introduction to the intense sounds of Clann Zú, it's well worth tracking down. Declan deBarra continues to record and tour. 

Clann Zú - Rua (G7 Welcoming Comittee, 2003)

This episode finished with Mountain Bell, the closing track from It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever), the debut album from Dublin's Halves. The album was a big favourite of ours in 2010 and Halves are nominated for the Choice Music Award (the Irish album of the year, 2010). The Choice Music Prize Live Event will take place on Thursday March 3rd at Vicar St, Dublin. Beat of luck to Halves.

Episode 334 - 03/02/2011


Jan & Dean with the Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra - Sidewalk Surfin'
Amon Düül II - The Wolfman Jack Show
Anna Calvi - The Devil
Ride - Leave Them All Behind
If By Yes - Eliza (feat. David Byrne)
Best Coast - Crazy for You
Yuck - Suicide Policeman
British Sea Power - Observe the Skies
Seefeel - Dead Guitars
Gorky's Zypotic Mynci - Young Girls and Happy Endings
Ebson and the Witch - Marching Song
Them - Gloria
Moon Wiring Club - Woodsmoke and Treacle
Low - Monkey (Live in Eindhoven)
The Decemberists - This is Way We Fight
Big Audio Dynamite - E=MC2
James Blake - To Care (Like You)
Clann Zú - Five Thousand More
Iron & Wine - Monkeys Uptown
Dolorean - The Unfazed
The Trashmen - Keep A Knockin'
Cut Copy - Pharohs and Pyramids
John Carpenter - Christine (Part 1)
Erland and the Carnival - Touble in Mind
Flying Saucer Attack - Outdoor Miner
The Memory Band - Some Things You Just Can't Hide
Halves - Mountain Bell