Thursday, 20 March 2008

Oldies but Goldies

New music is obviously important, but sometimes it's nice to dig out and dust off some old favourites. My granny's been down to visit, and I've found myself spending the week swimming in nostalgia and thinking back on the stuff I was into, especially my early teens when I still had bleached blonde hair, spent time scouring Camden for the perfect pair of Docs (I am a cliche) and was ashamed to ever admit I used to love the Spice Girls.

I own tons of records, but have nothing to play them on, and my CD player recently died, so now all I have with me are my mp3s which just don't carry the same warmth and value. I could go on about music and memory but I think everyone knows what I'm talking about here. So here are a few recommendations.. you might know them, it might be the beginning of something beautiful. Either way, here are a few slices of my past (and in most cases, still present) loves...


The band I never get tired of. Ever. S-K was formed by Corin Tucker (previously in Heavens to Betsy) and Carrie Brownstein (Excuse 17), who were later joined by Janet Weiss (of Quasi) and played a big part in the 90's Olympia riot grrrl scene. Some of the music is typically raucous and raw, but Corin, Carrie and Janet are incredible musicians, so the songs aren't as messy and occasionally inaudible as other riot grrrl acts. They went on an indefinite hiatus in 2006 (11 years after they first formed) that they probably will never return from. I think it was partly due to the fact that despite constantly releasing extraordinary records, saturated in love and loss and life and politics, they never seemed to get the acclaim they deserved. Which I suppose gets pretty tiring after a while. For first-timers, I'd recommend the poppier, shout-a-long Dig Me Out or All Hands on the Bad One albums, but if you like thrashing, disjointed layers and powerful beats, try The Woods or One Beat.

Sleater-Kinney : Jumpers (from The Woods)

The Jesus & Mary Chain

This was a bit of a late, cheat-find as my first encounter with the Jesus & Mary Chain was when I got the Lost in Translation soundtrack, and became obsessed with listening to the song Just Like Honey on repeat every night as I went to sleep. To the point where I couldn't sleep, as my brain wouldn't shut up and sang along loudly as I buried deep down under the covers. Anyway, so this led on to the purchase of Psychocandy, which is an album I strongly feel every person should have in their music collection, simply because it's awesome. The sound is a mix of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and the songs lean heavily on the song-writing style of the early 60s, whilst sounding a hell of a lot like something Sonic Youth would produce. Obviously, they have many other albums, but Psychocandy is a good starting point.

The Jesus & Mary Chain - Just Like Honey

The Kinks

My Dad got me into the Kinks, which I will be forever grateful to him for. You've probably heard of them, or at least know a few of their songs (Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Waterloo Sunset, You Really Got Me, Sunny Afternoon, Lola...) The Kinks wrote a hell of a lot of perfect pop songs, if you're not that familiar with them, you really will be surprised at how many you recognise. Though they are mostly associated with their late 60s/early 70s songs (they continued until '96!), 50 years on the sentiments and themes remain. Dedicated Follower of Fashion could easily be an ode to Vince Noir in the Mighty Boosh ("His world is built round discotheques and parties, this pleasure-seeking individual always looks his best.. he flits from shop to shop just like a butterfly") and Waterloo Sunset, a depiction of a single yet happy life in the capital, watching the world pass by ("People so busy, make me feel dizzy, taxi lights shine so bright") that could easily have been written yesterday. And you can't really go wrong with a song about a brief romantic rendezvous with a transvestite chucked in for good measure.

The Kinks: You Really Got Me

I'll post some more again when I next have time.. keep checking back!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Have Love Will Travel: My Recent Spins

Recently, I've been spending a lot of the time on trains, travelling across the country and back again. I like train travel, it's one of the only times I can truly listen intently to music and spend time getting to know bands (or revisit past loves) without any distraction. Here are some brief encounters with a few of the bands and artists that currently comprise my travelling soundtrack...

Black Kids

(Photo credit to Richard Johnson for NME)

These guys probably need no introduction - I heard in the shower this morning that their song, I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You, is now Radio One's hit of the week or whatever it's called. But rightly so, the song is a slice of pure genius that probably leaves most people wondering why the hell they hadn't played the chords of F, G, C and Am in that way before, and beat the Black Kids to it. Despite the media flurry surrounding them, Black Kids strike me as being a pretty cool, fun bunch who are just making music and not taking things too seriously. They sound like Robert Smith fronting a synth-led Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but with the crude wit and honesty of the Teenagers as narration. Kind of. Check it out for yourselves...

Black Kids MySpace

Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You (ysi)

George Pringle


My housemate Dean actually introduced me to George, and although it took me a while to tune into exactly what she was all about, once I saw the light I was hooked. She may appear to be a typical MySpace poser on first impressions, all pouty and angular, but her songs are actually really delicately executed, especially Carte Postale. It's like a mixture of self-indulgence paired with an acute loneliness, but not in a self-pitying way; George is a fan of the positive outlook. She perfectly captures the beautiful simplicity of everyday lives and loves, "I became the perfect party apprentice, with a phD in sitting on kitchen counters and drawing my cheeks and then shooting you looks I don't even mean, and hips that grind to scratchy indie hits". She won't be to everyone's taste, but is deserving of a few minutes of your time at least. Like the yummy addictive potato goodness that shares the same name, once you (listen to her brand of) pop, you can't stop!

George Pringle MySpace

George Pringle - Carte Postale (ysi)

The Long Blondes


I've been a HUGE fan of the Long Blondes for years now, and am pleased to announce that their follow-up to the magnificent Someone To Drive You Home, entitled Couples, is due to be released on the 7th April. For those of you who may not have had the pleasure of having been introduced to the LB's, they are a five-piece from Sheffield who, in their own words, sound like... "Look at us, we used to rip off the Fall. We rip off Eno now, and sing like Jerry Hall." Mixing tales of glamorous tribulations with kiss-the-dirt normality, Kate Jackson and her alluring gang of indie charmers take the current scene by storm. Century, the first single from Couples that is available now, is a much darker, disco-tinged hit that's more Donna Summer than Jarvis Cocker. Flout, pout, go and see them on tour and allow yourself be seduced by the Long Blondes.

the Long Blondes MySpace

the Long Blondes - Giddy Stratospheres (ysi)

Aidan John Moffat


It's hard to compare Aidan John Moffat to anything I've ever heard, but then his is not an area of music I've ever really explored before. I Can Hear Your Heart is his most recent release that appeared on the record shop shelves last month. Musically, it's unique, a partly autobiographical collection of chronicles, stunningly recapitulated with a blend of spoken prose, the noise of bustling streets and heels sharply clicking on hard pavements and soft, background music that acts more as the wallpaper than the furniture in the compositions. My words aren't really much use here, just hear for yourselves. One thing though.. you might not want to put this on when your granny's over for tea. Trust me.

I Can Hear Your Heart Homepage

Aidan John Moffat - I Can Hear Your Heart (Album Excerpt) (ysi)