Friday, July 29, 2011

Episode 359

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 359

 Ben Watt with Robert Wyatt - Summer Into Winter EP  
(Cherry Red, 1982)

This episode featured the blissful Aquamarine by Ben Watt and Robert Wyatt from 1982's Summer Into Winter EP. Ben Watt would folow this EP up with his amazing solo record North Marine Drive in 1983 both records are now compiled onto one CD from Cherry Red. Massive success followed with Everything But the Girl. 

Episode 359 – 28/07/2011


Gruff Rhys - Take a Sentence
Crystal FIghters - Plage
North Sea Radio Orchestra - I a Moon
Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead hands - Too Many Harsh Words
Crystal Stilts - Shake the Shackles
Metronomy - Corinne
Thee More Shallows - Freshman Thesis
Bearsuit - When Will I Be Queen
Bjork & David Arnold - Play Dead
Cornershop - Double Decker Eyelashes
Dum Dum Girls - He gets Me High
Dum Dum Girls - Coming Down
Emmy the Great - Dinosaur Sex
Julianna Barwick - Keep Up the Good Work
Julianna Barwick - White Flag
Arbouretum - The Highwayman
Ben Watts and Robert Wyatt - Aquamarine
Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Late Day Sun Silhouettes
Luke Abbott - Trans Forest Alignment
Agnes Obel - Close Watch
James Blake - Order
Aidan Moffat/Bill Wells - The Copper Top
Esben and the Witch - Warpath
Catherine Wheel - Chrome
Herman Dune - Ah Hears Strange Moosic
Richmond Fontaine - Lost In the Trees
Boa Morte - Spade Song
Paul Burch & the WPA Ballclub - Carter Cain

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Morrissey - Irish Ticket Stubs

 Morrissey - Irish Ticket Stubs from the 1990s

Morrissey's 2011 tour reaches Ireland today for a few dates in Cork and Dublin before moving on to the Isle of Man for a gig in Douglas next week. Tonight he plays the Savoy Theatre in my home town of Cork, a venue he last visited with The Smiths way back in November 1984 whilst promoting Hatful of Hollow. Regardless of what people think about his recent recorded output (personally I thought Years of Refusal was a strong album) the man can put on a great live show so in celebration of this week's gigs here's some old tricket stubs from previous Morrissey Irish shows in the 1990s. I know it's been written about so many times before but ticket stubs were so cool before the horrible ticketmaster generic stub came in.  

The first gig of the Kill Uncle tour. This was Morrissey's second ever solo gig after the Wolverhampton Civic Hall gig of December 1988 and his first with new bandmates: Boz Boorer, Alain Whyte, Gary Day and Spencer Cobrin. The guys had all played with various rockabilly bands including, The Polecats (Boorer), The Sharks (Day), and The Gazmen (Whyte). The support band was the Stephen Street-produced and Peel favourites The Would Be's. Morrissey would return to the National Stadium on the Swords tour in November 2009.

This was the second leg of the Kill Uncle tour, in the bigger Point Depot. Support was from Phranc, the American singer-songwriter and the backdrop was the famous Cecil Beaton photograph of Edith Sitwell.

It was just over four years before Morrissey returned to play in Ireland this time supporting David Bowie on his Outside tour in the Point. Morrissey was promoting Southpaw Grammar and the songs from that album sounded really amazing live. This was a strange gig with the audience very much split in two. The Bowie fans stayed in the bars for Moz's set and likewise an awful lot of Moz's crowd left once Bowie hit the stage.

It was another four years before Moz came back to Ireland. This time he toured around the country, something he hadn't done since the November 1984 tour with The Smiths. The Dublin gig was moved to The Olympia Theatre from the National Concert Hall and the support band for this tour was Sack.  The front of the tour flyer (above) used the full photograph of boxer Kenny Lane that was earlier cropped for the cover of Southpaw Grammar.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Richmond Fontaine - The High Country

 Richmond Fontaine - The High Country

Richmond Fontaine - The High Country (Decor/El Cortez, 2011)

Last week Willy Vlautin was in Dublin on his way to the Galway Arts Festival to do a reading with Roddy Doyle and play a gig. We had a quick chat about The High Country, the forthcoming Richmond Fontaine album.  The High Country is described as "a song-novel, in which a gripping tale is spun with fully fleshed-out characters, changing scenes, snippets of radio and spoken word passages." The album is a gothic love story, "between a mechanic and an auto parts store counter girl, whose secret love inspires an effort to escape the darkness of the world that surrounds them - drugs, violence, madness, loneliness, and desperation set against a backdrop of endless logging roads and the remains of a forest brutalised by logging."

Willy explained the concept of the record for me: "It's a linear story about a woman who lives in a small town, is married to a really rough guy and falls in love with another guy. It's very gothic, there's light versus dark, the romantic songs I think are really over-the-top romantic, and then there's a really twisted dark side to the record. So those live next to each other and  it gets to the point where one song will be kinda romantic and then the next song is really dark, but I think it makes sense. It's probably our most ambitous record, I guess, our wildest record and probably the most fun to make... The woman lives in a gully of this logging town under these huge trees. I live next to a bunch of logging areas and you just get lost under the trees. Her dream is to just get out of there, everynight when she goes to bed she dreams of "the High Country," dreams that she's not stuck in the gully of some small dying town."

The High Country is released in September and Richmond Fontaine will return to Ireland in November for a full tour. In other related news Willy's first novel The Motel Life has been filmed by the Polsky Brothers, starring Dakota Fanning, Stephen Dorff, Emile Hirschand and Kris Kristofferson and will be released next year.The interview with Willy can be heard below. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Episode 358

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 358

E.M.A.K. 1 (Originalton West, 1982)

      E.M.A.K. 2 (Originalton West, 1983)                      E.M.A.K. 3 (Originalton West, 1985)

This episode featured three tracks from E.M.A.K. (Elektronische Musik Aus Köln), Cologne’s "synth-core/minimal-wave/deutsche electronische group." E.M.A.K. released three ground-breaking albums between 1982 and 1985 on their own Originalton West label. The three albums came housed in identical sleeves distinguishable only by the colour. Three essential records if you can find them. If not, check out this brilliant compilation from Soul Jazz Records. As they proved with the Deutsche Elektronische Musik: Experimental German Rock and Electronic Music 1972-83 compilation Soul Jazz know their stuff.

E.M.A.K. - A Synthetic History of E.M.A.K. 1982-88 
(Soul Jazz, 2011)

From the Soul Jazz sleevenotes: "E.M.A.K. (Electronische Musik aus Köln) was founded in Cologne in autumn 1981. Situated in the basement of a music store called ‘Hört-Hört’ (‘Listen-Listen’) was a small 8-track studio run by Matthias Becker. It was here at the ‘Originalton West’ studio that Becker and Kurt Mill, along with Michael Filz and Klaus Stühlen, formed E.M.A.K. and here also where Becker launched the Originalton West label with the release of ‘E.M.A.K.1’ in January 1982.

E.M.A.K. originally functioned more as a collective of individuals than a traditional group. Filz and Stühlen worked on tracks individually and Mill and Becker worked on material at the studio. Kurt Mill and Mathias Becker were the producers and chose all the tracks and final mixes.

Matthias Becker: 'I grew up to the music of Kraftwerk and Amon Düül. I remember that in 1970, when I was 15, there was a ‘Kommune’ living in the house next door and shortly after the release of ‘Kraftwerk’ for more than a week or two each day the sounds of ‘Ruckzuck’ and ‘Stratovarious’ vibrated through the walls of our living room, (very much to the irritation of my parents).'

Although E.M.A.K. were not part of any larger electronic scene in their local city, Cologne was nevertheless still the base of Can, and Holger Czukay’s own studio was barely 200 metres from Originalton West. There was also nearby Johannes Fritsch’s ‘Feedback’ Studio. Fritsch was a serious composer of ‘Neue Musik’ who had collaborated with Stockhausen, who - incidentally - lived and worked in Kürten, a small village about 35 kms from Cologne."

Episode 358 – 21/07/2011


John Stammers - Your Good is as Guess as Mine (The Kramford Look Remix)
Elephant - Allured
Elephant - Actors
Crystal Fighters - Plage
Thomas Truax - A Gold Star For Miss July
North Sea Radio Orchestra - Beliner Luft
Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands - Miracle Candle
Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands - Contact Sports
Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands - Broken Up Now
Discodine feat. Jarvis Cocker - Synchinize (extended version)
E.M.A.K. - Auf Immer
E.M.A.K. - Slow Motion
E.M.A.K. - Tanz In Dem Himmel
Alvarius B. - Well Known Stranger
Cut Copy - This Is All We've Got
Cut Copy - Pharaohs & Pyramids
Andrew Pekler - First
ARP - Pastoral Symphony 1. Domineos 2. Infinity Room
Damon & Naomi - Ophelia
Willy Vlautin interview pt 1
Richmond Fontaine feat Deborah Kelly - Let Me Dream of the High Country
Willy Vlautin interview pt 2
Richmond Fontaine - Lost In the Trees
Willy Vlautin interview pt 3
Richmond  feat. Deborah Kelly - The Eagle's Lodge
Willy Vlautin interview pt 4
Jóhann Jóhannsson - Freedom From Want and Fear

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands

Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands - Golden Syrup

Tomorrow night's show will feature a couple of tracks from Patrick Kelleher's new album Golden Syrup. The album's just out on Osaka Records and follows last year's You Look Colder remix album, that was in turn a reworking of Kelleher's 2009 debut album, You Look Cold. As much as I enjoy his debut and indeed the remix record, Golden Syrup is the first recording to truly capture the sound that Patrick and His Cold Dark Hands create on stage - that sound is dark, moody, gothic synth-driven tunes, effects-laden vocals, driving bass, and some brilliant wigged-out guitar playing all crashing together to create 10 blissful pop songs.

Osaka describe the record as, "moving on from the previous more DIY/lo-fi sound we now find them embracing a more gothic, minimal synth sound. Reminiscent of lesser known early 80s electronics pioneers such as Robert Rental and John Foxx." Golden Syrup is definately a huge step up from You Look Cold. The last time I saw the band play was supporting Future Islands and it was obvious from the tunes played that night that the next record was going to be one dark beast and indeed last year's Skinny Wolves, Contact Sports 7'' also hinted at where the band were taking their sound. When Patrick came up to the radio station to chat about the remix album he played records by Holgar Czukay, Ariel Pink, Harmonia and Echo & the Bunnymen on the show and Golden Syrup is akin to throwing all of those different sounding artists into a blender and liquidising. It's a collection of really strong songs that have been brilliantly recorded. Broken Up Now and Seen Me Blue, two of the slower tracks on the record, are two of the best songs I've heard all year.    

Photo by Ivan Rynn

Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands-Too Many Harsh Words by osakaRecords

Patrick Kelleher & His Cold Dead Hands-Miracle Candle by osakaRecords

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pop (Do We Not Like That?) - Various Artists

Pop (Do We Not Like That?) - Various Artists

Various Artists - Pop (Do We Not Like That?) (Too Pure, 1994)

I played Laika's 44 Robbers on last week's show and hearing it again made me go and fish out this absolute gem. Pop (Do We Not Like That?) is a 1994 compilation from Too Pure records. I hadn't listened to this is years and was really pleasently surprised at how well most of these tracks still stand up. The album was the label's 34th release, it carried the catelogue number Pure 34 and featured one track each from: Stereolab, PJ Harvey, Th' Faith Healers, Laika, Minxus, Moonshake, Pram, Seefeel, Voodoo Queens and Düsseldorf's Mouse On Mars (the label's first international signing). It's a great snapshot of mid-90s UK indie and electronic music prior to the advent of all that Britpop nonsense.

It's an incredible compilation considering some of the landmark records these bands would go on to produce. PJ Harvey obviously moved on to Island records and her discography speaks for itself, indeed this year's Let England Shake has garnered some of the strongest reviews of her career. Stereolab, Mouse On Mars, Laika, and Seefeel would produce four of the strongest albums of the 90s in, respectively: Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996), Silver Apples of the Moon (1994), Autoditacker (1997) and Succour (1995).

Too Pure would go on to release brilliant records by Jack, Long Fin Killie, Hefner, Billy Mahonie, Mclusky and Scout Niblett. The label was always affiliated with 4AD records, indeed 4AD's Ivo Watts-Russell is said to have contributed a cash infusion by purchasing a third of the imprint prior to the release of PJ Harvey's debut album Dry. In 2008 the Beggars Group wound down both Too Pure and Beggars Banquet and transfered their artists to 4AD records. Too Pure is still an imprint of the Beggars Group and continues its monthly 7'' Singles Club. The charactertures below are taken from the album's insert.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Son Lux - We Are Rising

Son Lux - We Are Rising

Son Lux - We Are Rising (Anticon, 2011)

My Son Lux coloured vinyl arrived and its beautiful! Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott) rose to NPR's All Songs Considered's challenge to write and record an entire album, from start to finish, in the month of February. Ryan explained how the challenge came about in an article for In Digest

"In 2006, a small New Hampshire-based publication called The Wire inaugurated the "RPM Challenge," an open charge to songwriters to make an album in the month of February... Toward the end of January this year, I got an email from Robin Hilton, producer of NPR’s All Songs Considered... The subject line read, “You busy?” The gist of his email was this: NPR wanted to cover the growing RPM Challenge phenomenon, but rather than just write about it, they thought it would be cool to follow along with an artist actually participating. So they hit me up to see if I would join in the fun. If so, they would follow along via the All Songs Considered blog and make a big fuss about it."

It's a great article in which Ryan muses upon the writing and recording process, self-imposed time-limitiations, improvisation and experimentation. After completing the album he asked The Made Shop design team to make the album's artwork. The guys from The Made Shop decided, in the spirit of the album's 28 day turnaround, to design the album, "from build-out to photoshoot to final design and layout - in only 28 hours." The video below documents the process. 

As I mentioned last month We Are Rising is the follow up to the great At War With Walls and Mazes from 2008. I picked up that album after Son Lux's show supporting Why? in Andrews Lane Theatre in Dublin in November of that year at a Foggy Notions promoted gig. At War With Walls and Mazes is one of my favourite records over the last few years and after a few listens to We Are Rising I think I can confidently predict that it's going to be on my albums of 2011 list. 


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Turtles - Present the Battle of the Bands

 The Turtles - Present the Battle of the Bands

The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands is the band's fourth album and was released in 1968 on White Whale Records and the follow up to the Happy Together album. Battle of the Bands is a concept record with the Turtles pretending to be 11 different bands, playing different styles in a "Battle of the Bands" competition. We get some surf music, bluegrass, country, hard rock and some psychedelic pop all performed by different "bands". The Turtles dressed in evening dress on the album's cover act as hosts of the "Battle of the Bands". The inside gatefold showed the Turtles dressed up as the 11 different bands.  

The album was produced by Chip Douglas, who had played bass with The Trutles in 1966 and also masterminded some of The Monkees biggest hits.  While the album bombed at No. 128 in the US Billboard Chart compared to its predecessor's top 30 placing it did produce big hit singles in Elenore and You Showed Me. Both singles charted at No. 6.

The album was poorly received upon its original release, something which frustrated co-frontman Howard Kaylan. "Battle of the Bands was our Sergeant Pepper. It was actually a wonderful idea," Kaylan told Altsounds, "it still bugs me, all these years later, that it was under-appreciated by the music critics upon its release, despite yielding two top ten records. We performed in the styles of all these different bands and took costumed photographs of each group - quite the concept, but some people, like Rolling Stone at the time, thought that we were trying to rip off the Mothers of Invention for some reason. Baffling. I was happy with it then, and I still think it's the strongest stand-alone album that the band ever recorded."

The 11 bands featured on The Battle of the Bands were:

1. The U.S. Teens featuring Raoul, 
2. The Atomic Enchilada (a trippy 60s psychedelic sound), 
3. Howie, Mark, Johny, Jim & Al (this band's contribution to the "Battle" was Elenore), 
4. The Quad City Ramblers (an old-fashioned country band), 
5. The L.A. Bust '66 (progressive, White boy blues), 
6. The Fabulous Dawgs' (heavy guitar fuzz and a Hammond organ on this instrumental), 
7. The Cross Fires (a tribute to surf-rock and The Beach Boys), 
8. Chief Kamanawanalea and his Royal Macadamia Nuts (a jam song), 
9. Nature's Children (singing the Byrds' Preflyte-era You Showed Me, a huge hit for The Turtles), 
10. The Bigg Brothers, 
11. Fats Mallard and the Bluegrass Fireball (bluegrass country music). 
12. The final song on the record is credited to "All" (hippie ecology, folk-pop anthem)

The U.S. Teens featuring Rauol - The Battle of the Bands
(Opens the album, kinda like the opening of Sgt. Pepper's.)

The Atomic Enchilada - The Last Thing I Remember, the First Thing I Knew

Howie, Mark, Jonny, Jim and Al - Elenore
(The big hit off the album and followed Happy Together into the Top 10)

Quad City Ramblers - Too Much Heartsick Feeling
(Country Music)

Surfer Dan - The Cross Fires
(Surf Music)

Nature's Children - You Showed Me
(Written by Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark of The Byrds,
this was the last major Turtles hit)

The band would return in 1969 with their last album, the brilliant Ray Davies produced Turtle Soup. The Turtles wound down their career in 1970 and Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan joined The Mothers of Invention as Flo & Eddie (White Whale Records had copyright over The Turtles name and the names Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan in a musical context). 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Episide 357

Songs To Learn And Sing - Episode 357

This week's show featured a couple of new tunes from John Stammers, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, The Advisory Circle, The Horrors, Washed Out and Umpire. We also played three tracks from Battle of the Band's the 1968 concept album from The Turtles. X Marks the Spot by Michael Head and the Strands from one of my all time favourite albums, The Magical World of the Strands also featured.

We finished this episode with the brilliant Pour by Astrid Williamson from her forthcoming album Pulse.

 Astrid Williamson - Pour (One Little Indian, 2011)

Astrid, the Shetland born, former singer with Goya Dress, collaborates with guitarist/ambient man Leo Abrahams on Pulse. The press blurb explains: "Astrid witnessed Abrahams perform as part of Brian Eno's Pure Scenius project at 2010 Brighton Festival. Inspired, Williamson sent him a dozen demos she had been working on.  Lyrically Pour deals with affairs of the heart; musically a watery, spine-tingling piano motif weaves elegantly amongst techno beats and electronica."

Astrid Williamson - 'Pour' (Original Version) by One Little Indian Records

Episode 357 – 14/07/2011


Eat Light : Become Lights - They Transmit
North Sea Radio Orchestra - The Earth Beneath Our Feet
Harmonia and Eno - Luneburg Heath (The Field Remix)
John Stammers - The Fridge (Band Version)
The House of Love - The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes
Michael Head and the Strands - X Hits the Spot
Gillian Welch - Six White Horses
Comet Gain - Working Circle Explosive!
Crystal Stilts - Shake the Shackles
Crystal Stilts - Through the Floor
Bjork - Crystalline
Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Luminaries
The Advisory Circle - Learning Owl Reappears
The Horrors - I Can See through You
The KVB - Hide and Wait
The Turtles - Elenore
The Turtles - Battle of the Bands
The Turtles - Surfer Dan
The Primitives- Rattle the Cage
The Go! Team - Ready to Go Steady
Laika - 44 Robbers
Aidan Moffat/Bill Wells - Glasgow Jubilee
William Elliot Whitmore - Bury Your Burdens in the Ground
Bon Ivor - Perth
Umpire - Streamers
Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed (Star Singer Remix)
Metronomy - The Bay
Elephant - Allured
Astrid Williamson - Pour

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

North Sea Radio Orchestra - I a Moon

North Sea Radio Orchestra - I a Moon

North Sea Radio Orchestra - I a Moon (The Household Mark, 2011)

Following last year's wonderful Arch Garrison album Craig Fortnam returned to concentrate on recording NSRO's third album. I've played a few tracks from I a Moon over the last few weeks on the radio show and to put it simply - I'm hooked. It's a great record and more-or-less follows the template laid down on the band's previous two releases (orchestral chamber pop), but this time there's also a Krautrock influence. 

The band have explained a number of changes in their approach for this release, "firstly, that the album would have a darker, less pastoral sound with new influences including Krautrock and Deerhoof (and with more emphasis on synthesizer and percussion than previously). Secondly, that there would be a move away from setting poetry in favour of setting self-written lyrics." The results are fantastic.

Garry Mulholland sums the record up brilliantly: "the overall effect makes I a Moon feel like the world’s first baroque-Krautrock-folk-rock-Michael Nyman-madrigal-Kate Bush-electro-pop album. But more than all that, it is genuinely very beautiful.