Shotgun, Bastard and Dribble

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Singles Released 25th September

Doherty vs. Barat week. Neither of their songs are impressive. They seem to have taken on an air of ex-reality show contests; you can remember caring about them but have no idea why.

Peak of the Week: The Pipettes - Judy

Weakest track on We Are The Pipettes by some distance. Still, better than pretty much everything ever.

Simple Kid - Ballad of Elton John

Two reasons for mentioning this:

1. Best title of the week.
2. Gives me an excuse to post my second favourite performance from TFI featuring The Young Offenders (who were fronted by the artist later to be known as Simple Kid - or TALTBKASK for short).

Wiiiiiiillllll went on to star as Harry Potter.

Paolo Nutini - Jenny Don't Be Hasty

The people he writes songs with have also written songs with Dido and James Blunt. If I'd have known that before I heard his music I wouldn't have heard his music. Unlike those he's compared to, Nutini has a deeply soulful voice, involved lyrics and a knack for making every word he sings entirely believable. To further distance himself from the beige brigade, this track features a riff straight out of the back catalogue of The Rolling Stones (who Nutini recently supported). This single should make him as famous as the record company desperately want him to be. Although, given that Last Request tanked, I wouldn't bet on it.

The Blood Arm - Suspicious Character

When The Blood Arm first became the next big thing thanks to the Strokesque Can I Have Your Attention I was convinced they were some sort of spoof band. The fact they're still plugging away without getting any more popular suggests they're 4REAL.

The Blood Arm - Suspicious Character (Remix) via MySpace

Juliette and the Licks - Hot Kiss

Hollywood, Scientology, "I used to go out with Brad Pitt", blah blah. This song is an enjoyable slab of dirty rock but it's hard to shake the feeling that Lewis is just acting the part of a rockstar. If only she'd been as bad at acting as Jack Black we'd know.

Juliette and the Licks - Killer via MySpace

The Victorian English Gentlemen's Club - Impossible Sightings Over Shelton

Donning an evening gown whilst playing the drums shows an admirable dedication to elegance sadly lacking in most of today's bands. VEGC's Pixies style catchy-melodies and indie-stylings should seem them do well.

Jack Butler - Velvet Prose

A band rather than a person (none of whom are called Jack Butler). They are often unaccountably compared to T'Arctic Monkeys. If so, they're much closer to the more recent Monkey tracks that no one likes. They sound more akin to the likes of Maximo Park and Bloc Party who have also yet to find the 'Bass' knob on their guitar amps. Not to be compared with the the lumpy blues band of the same name.

Jack Butler - How's This For Leverage

Jack Butler - Candles

Via their website

Lily Allen - LDN

God, she got old quickly. Bored of this song months ago. Why's she releasing this summer song when she could be releasing Knock 'Em Out?

Lil' Chris - Checkin' It Out

Prize alumnus of Gene Simmons' Rock School. With a cheeky rip off Blur and plenty of youthful joie de vivre this is a good listen. And just look at the scamp on his website. Don't you just want to ruffle his hair, give him a spit wash and send him home before it's dark?

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Favourite Place To Drown

I'm not a doctor so I don't know exactly how mentally incapacitated the guy who decided golf was a spectator sport was. I just hope he got all the help he so desperately needed.

Crazy golf, on the other hand, has exactly what we want on the telly: glamour, action, thrills and spills. The simultaneous hilarity and melancholy of mini-golf is summed up perfectly by this video for Michael Leviton's The Beach Gets Cold.

As I mentioned in connection with Hawaiian music, the ukulele has a deeply wistful quality to it. The slightly pathetic tone of the instrument makes it perfect for Leviton's mournfully romantic songs. It's hardly surprising that this thread about romance on his forum is fully of loneliness and heartbreak.

The ukulele also matches the beachside location of many of Leviton's songs. For example:

Michael Leviton - Summer's the Worst via his website

Michael Leviton - Her Undertow via MySpace

Here's another delightful uke performance. This time by Miranda Mahalo.

How sweet is she?

Visit Boring golf courses

Play miniature golf (be sure you have plenty of time to waste before you click this link).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Singles Released 18th September

Long awaited returns for The Lemonheads and The Bluetones this week along with much shorter awaited returns for Jet and The Killers. All of which are perfectly listenable but unlikely to win over vast swathes of new fans.

Any fans of Lemonheads style tuneful indie rocking would be well advised to check out this track.

Sam Roberts Band - The Gate via MySpace

Peak of the Week: 12 Stone Toddler - The Rabbit

Tonight we're going to party like it's 1947. Or, more accurately, like it's 1997 and we're pretending it's 1947. Ten years after the Gap advert, Swingers and Brian Setzer, the swing revival hits the UK. Lindy-hopping, stand-up bass and blaring brass are all present and correct. Rather less welcome is the continued revival of blacking up following League of Gentlemen and Kate Moss.

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Go on, watch it one more time. You know you want to. OK Go seem to have grasped, or stumbled upon, something about the YouTube revolution i.e. the picture quality is terrible. This happens with all changes in the way music is consumed. The sound on radio was worse than on records, the sound on TV was worse than the radio, the sound and pictures on YouTube are worse than on telly. In these times the rule is KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and OK Go have both 'simple' and 'stupid' by the ton.

Little known fact: Before becoming YouTube's favourite dancing monkeys, OK Go were an indie-rock band. It might just be the endless repetition but this song is starting to sound really good. It's certainly better than Million Ways which didn't grow on me no matter how many times I heard it. Someone better buy it or they'll stop making videos.

The Zutons - Oh Stacey

Look guys, I know she's the only reason your dreary, sub-Coral songs get on the tele so she can stay in the band. However, you have to take the sax away. She must have been playing for years and shows no sign of advancing beyond the artless-honking stage. So just have her stand up front pouting.

The 747s - Death of a Star

Every time I read about The 747s I'm told they're destined for stardom because they appeared on an Arctic Monkeys b-side. Their songs are more left field and less immediate than the Monkeys' but still radio-friendly enough to win them a few fans. World domination still a way off, though.

The 747s - Elaine
via their BBC inspired website

Nicky Wire - Break My Heart Slowly

At least now we know why he left the tunes to the fat ones in the band.

Psapp - Hi

Never mind the song, play the cat game

Steve Brookstein - Fighting Butterflies

The limp, wimpiness of this effort by the former X-Factor man suggests that he would probably lose if he attempted to fight a butterfly.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

MOBO Awards 2006

What do we want?
A jazz MOBO.
When do we want it?
After we've taken a twenty minute bass solo.

Bless 'em. Not only do those jazzers have to be content with permanent also-ran status at the Mercury Awards now the MOBOs won't give them owt. It's probably because their acceptance speeches start with a sentence which is then repeated in ever more incomprehensible ways until, after around half an hour, they are squealing into their own shoe.

A greater source of botheration for the MOBOs than jazz protests is that almost all music of black origin originated outside this country; which causes something of a problem when only Brits bother turning up. The MOBO nabobs had little choice but to honour Beyonce's frankness and honesty in naming her album after a bucket of piss. However, the crowd were less enamoured. When it transpired that she hadn't bothered dragging her jiggly arse along and loudly booed every mention of her name.

At least this was some sort of reaction from the crowd. Most poppy award shows fill up stage front with a pile of kids to provide some sugar and ASBO fuelled energy while the champers sucking big wigs are shunted to the sides. Not so with the MOBOs. It didn't help the atmosphere that the Albert Hall looked half empty.

On the upside, there was one exciting new act brought to my attention. Akala's name may be significantly more fruity than the likes of Ghostface Killah and Ol' Dirty Bastard (it's a variety of Hawaiian berry) but he saw off all the big name US rappers to take the award for Best Hippety-Hop. Akala is the brother of Ms Dynamite but don't let that put you off. Vocally he is far more aggressive and his tracks are packed with huge guitar riffs. I'd say it's the dizzle, pizzle and one may venture even so far as to declare it the shizzle.

Coventry: Steadfastly refusing to stand up.

But even here the Brit problem comes up. The song Stand Up is Akala's call for British hippety-hoppers to cast off Americanisms and show themselves. This sees him urging the likes of Luton and Coventry to stand up. Doesn't really have the same ring as Inglewood or Brooklyn. It reminds me of Billy Braggs tongue-in-cheek relocating of the romance of Route 66 on A13 Trunk Road to the Sea ("By-pass Barking and straight through Dagenham, down to Grays Thurrock and rather near Basildon").

Pub trivia: Best selling black UK artist of all time? Billy Ocean. Lord, help us.

Akala - Stand Up

Buy It's Not A Rumour

Listen to A13 Trunk Road to the Sea on the Victoria and Albert Museum website (no, I have no idea either).

Buy Must I Paint You A Picture

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

International Talk Like A Pirate Day: Part 2

Yaaargh, me hearties. Thar be nowhere I'd rather be come White Stockin Day than aboard a man o' war with this here pair o' buxom beauties an' if any of you laggards disagree I'll have ya keelhauled thricely before we round Cape Horn, yaaargh. *cough* *splutter* I don't want to bring International Talk Like A Pirate Day into disrepute but can I stop this now?

To the disappointment of all involved, Peggy Sue and the Pirates don't contain anyone called Peggy Sue or any pirates. They are in fact KatyBeth 'KLAW' Young and Rosa 'REX' Slade and they go together, by all accounts, like shooby doo and whop bam boo.

Yes, they're a girl band from Brighton with a penchant for shoo-be-doops and doo-doo-dooohs. No, they don't sound anything like The Pipettes. They do, however, have the same sense of fun and knack for a good tune. The centrepiece of their sound, usually accompanied only by a bouncing acoustic bassline, is their vocals - inhabiting the same area of 'just unusual enough to be interesting without being annoying' as Regina Spektor and occasionally stretch to being in the same league as Nina Simone.

They have recently received attention thanks to support from Mercury nominee and former Lamb singer Lou Rhodes.

Despite what it may look like, I haven't chosen this band just because of their name. They're probably my favourite unsigned band at the moment. Tunes like this aaargh more than enough to keep an old salty seadog's cockles warm from here to Botany Bay and no mistake, yaaargh.

Peggy Sue and the Pirates - Lipstick

Peggy Sue and the Pirates - Rockabilly

Via MySpace

International Talk Like A Pirate Day: Part 1

Original pirate material, yaaaargh listnin t' Thar Streets.

Yes, it's International Talk Like A Pirate Day again. It seems to come round earlier every year, doesn't it? Personally, I'm feed up to that back of my wooden teeth with the commercialisation of TLAPD. People seem to have forgotten the true meaning of TLAPD: talking like a pirate. Nevertheless, it's a good excuse for a few pirate related tracks.

Harry Cox is one of the most important figures in English folk music. During the great folk music collection boom of the early twentieth century, Cox was matched only by the Copper family as a source of songs.

This particular song, telling the tale of a mercantile ship that outwitted a bunch of pirates, was recorded in a pub by the BBC in 1945 (when Cox was 60 years old). Despite the now shaky voice, it's still a captivating performance.

Harry Cox - The Bold Princess Royal

Buy English Originals

More recently, whilst filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski were struck with the idea of recording contemporary singers performing sea shanties. The result was Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys. The sometimes radical reworking of songs has prompted harrumphs of inauthenticity from shanty purists; who presumably objected to Pirates of the Caribbean on the grounds that gave an inaccurate representation of the role of ghost-skellingtons in 17th Century piracy.

The Hollywood pull of the protagonists ensured that Rogue's Gallery had a stellar line-up. Big names include Sting (who provides an enjoyable version of Blood Red Roses) and Bono (who doesn't). There are also turns by younger artists (Rufus Wainwright and Jolie Holland) and established folkies (Martin Carthy and Richard Thompson). Standout tracks include Three Pruned Men's (actually Virgin Prunes) Bully In the Alley, Jarvis Cocker's A Drop of Nelson's Blood and this ditty by Nick Cave.

Fire Down Below was originally a pumping shanty; sung when sailors were pumping water out of the bottom of wooden ships and was, according to Stan Hugill the last shanty sung for real in 1929. Cave inserts cranky, scraping guitars and ramps up the sexual nature of the song. Although he usurps the euphemism somewhat by including a whole slew of decidedly salty language.

Nick Cave - Fire Down Below

Buy Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys

With the likes of Springsteen's Seegar Sessions and Joanna Newsom's Three Little Babes, I heartily approve of this trend for popstars singing traditional songs. Roll on Fast Food Rockers: The Steeleye Span Sessions.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Singles Released 11th September

John Power - Jumpin' Bean/Willow Weep

No sooner has Justin Timberlake brought the sexy back than John Power comes to take it away again. Who in their right mind wants their bass to sound like a German um-pah band? Just turn the volume down and marvel at his labradoodle-like bouncy, curly hair.

James Yorkston - Steady As She Goes

Disappointingly not a banjo cover of The Raconteurs. In the hope of alleviating the disappointment here are a couple of Yorkston covers. The first of Tim Buckley and the second of a traditional folk song.

James Yorkston - Song to the Siren via

James Yorkston - I Know My Love via MySpace

Fergie - London Bridge

Disappointingly not a cover of the nursery rhyme; as evidenced by the opening lines, "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit'. There's something seriously wrong with Fergie's face.

Katie Melua - It's Only Pain

I was hoping Katie Melua was going to write a triptych of songs telling us how many bicycles there are in certain major cities. I'm in a minority of one with this but I applaud her for writing lyrics that The Decembrists would have rejected as too daft. With this song she's returned to dull predictability with the aptly titled It's Only Pain. And she comes a poor third in the bouncy hair stakes behind Power and Kooks frontman Luke Pritchard (who is, apparantly, the subject of this song).

Peak of the Week: Larrikin Love - Happy As Annie

It's been too long since Dexy's Midnight Runners sent banjos and fiddles to the top of the charts but they make a welcome return with Larrikin Love. Add to that rockabilly guitars and an Adam Ant-esque vocal performance and you're on to a winner.

If that wasn't enough, visit the band's website and you could, "win a customised soprano ukulele signed by Edward Larrikin". You're not going to get a better offer than that.

Bromheads Jacket - Trip to the Golden Arches

I bet Lynne Truss really hates this band. Another load of Sheffield blokes writing documentary songs about the city's chavs and slags (of which there is a generous abundance). This time he was off for a bag of chips and it all went a bit Falling Down. Who says there ain't no romance around here?

Oh yeah, them lot. Bromheads were featured on The OC after Arctic Monkeys told the OC to bugger off. This track as it happens:

What If's + Maybe's via their website.

So that's where the apostrophe went.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Singles Released 4th September

Get your disco dancing roller skates on this week. Initial hatred of this week’s releases by The Scissor Sisters, Robbie Williams and The Rapture has subsided into genial acceptance and even enjoyment. Perhaps understandable with the campy goodtime vibes of Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ (if Elton John keeps hanging out with the Scissor Sisters people are going to start thinking he’s gay) and the funky Get Myself Into It but surely unforgivable in the case of the universally panned Rudebox. I disagree. It’s about time he rediscovered his fun side after an interminable run of dull singles. Even if Rudebox is a considerable distance from Kids it bodes well for future renaissance.

No such change in fortune for Nelly Furtado’s increasingly desperate attempts to convince us all she’s a total slut, Dennis Christopher (friend of the dancing midget Michael Jackson fronted Beatfreakz) attempt to convince us he’s not a slut and Gomez who’ve abandoned their early ramshackle inventiveness in favour of songs so dull they are indistinguishable from mud.

Peak of the Week: Richard Hawley – Hotel Room

It was good to see Arctic Monkeys giving due to Richard Hawley when they collected the Mercury Prize since he’s what they’re going to be in twenty years. They both share a penchant for lyrics detailing the romantic process as well as a knack for a catchy melody.

This song is another piece of gloomy tenderness from Hawley which knows where the button is and presses the hell out of it.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Israel was a 750 pound Hawaiian singer before he suffocated on his own fat in 1997. An experience which was probably about as enjoyable as listening to this cloying rendition of the Arlen and Harberg classic. This song itself is heavy with longing and melancholy which is discarded here in favour of stilted guitars and cheesy drum machine.

This is a real shame considering that ‘longing and melancholy’ are the staples of the best Hawaiian music. Take this track by Cyril Pahinui:

Cyril Pahinui – Ku’u Lei

Buy Rough Guide to the Music of Hawaii

Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs – Cheated Hearts

Karen O manages to restrain her tendency towards caterwauling like a bobble-headed ninny allows the song to speak for itself; which it does admirably. There are still plenty of inventive guitar flourishes from today’s foremost indie guitarist Nick Zinner.

The Veils – Advice For Young Mothers To Be

The Veils initially came to my attention in 2003 when they were riding the Buckley-a-like wave along with Ben Christophers and released the transcendent, if a little over earnest (de rigueur for Jeff Buckley lovers), Lavinia. Since then the band have split to widespread indifference and frontman Finn Andrews has assembled a new cast of cohorts for another stab.

The single is rather pedestrian and inoffensive but forget about that. The song they should have released, and God willing will release, is Jesus for the Jugular. This track so dark, moody and scary that it wouldn’t be out of place on OK Computer. It’s that good.

The Veils – Jesus for the Jugular

Pre-order Nux Vomica