Archive for August, 2006

August 27, 2006

BOX CODAX – Naked Smile (10″ Single)

Naked Smile CoverThe Thin Man TTM004: 21st August 2006
1. Naked Smile
“Money can’t buy what you’re searching, and you can feel it in your heart”
2. Naked Smile (Dabaumann Organorgel)
“Instrumental”
3. Naked Smile (Metronomy Remix)
“All that matters is your naked body, all that matters is your naked smile”

Box Codax are Alexander Ragnew & Nick McCarthy (That’s right, Nick from Franz Ferdinand). ‘Naked Smile’ is like a car accident involving Prince, David Byrne and Kraftwerk. Nick is German/Scottish so that that would lead me guess that Alexander is from Minneapolis (But I believe he’s actually German as well). Nick’s wife Manuela performs the sugar-sweet backing vocals. ‘Naked Smile’ can only be the product of two equally deranged minds.

The ‘Dabaumann Organorgel’ instrumental version features a Jimmy Smith style Organ and little else. The ‘Metronomy Remix’ wierds things up another notch, which is no mean feet. The totally unexpected Synth-Brass bit at 3.07 is rather wonderful and puts images of Rick Wakeman resplendent in full wizard gear in your head.

Click here to pre-order the ‘Only An Orchard Away’ album from HMV for only £7.99. Each track inhabits a genre of it’s own and will surely win the award for ‘Most Bizarre Album Of 2006’.

Box Codax Website / Box Codax MySpace Page

August 27, 2006

McALMONT & BUTLER – Speed (7″ Single)

Speed CoverRough Trade RTRADS366: 21st August 2006
1. Speed
“Living is changing faster, can you feel it, nothing stays the same for long, these days, yeah, faster than the bullet trains in the East, yeah, a destination uncertain, on the wind, yeah”
2. Speed (Instrumental)

Apparently David McAlmont and Bernard Butler recorded this song a few years back but it’s only now getting a release.  I can’t hear why it should ever have been held back, it’s fantastic.

‘Speed’ kicks off with apocalypticily massive Drums that clash throughout the track like planets colliding.  Strings soar between the speakers like the best bits of your favourite Bond themes.  Over the top of this epic sound, David McAlmont’s heavenly voice describes the frenetic pace of modern life.  Listen to the way he enunciates every syllable of the line “Your dreams could be forgotten”.  McAlmont & Butler’s finest moment was undoubtedly their 1995 single ‘Yes’, and I’m sure you’re wondering if it matches up.  Well I wouldn’t go so far as “Yes” but I would say “Almost”.  The ‘Instrumental’ allows you to hear some beautifully expressive Guitar playing in the middle that you don’t notice when David McAlmont’s voice is laid over the top.

Click here to read MusicLikeDirt’s review of McAlmont & Butler’s recent appearance at the Jazz Cafe.

Click here to watch a breathtaking performance of ‘Yes’ on Later and hear to watch a live acoustic version of ‘Speed’ on YouTube.

McAlmont & Butler Website / McAlmont & Butler MySpace Page
Bernard Butler Website / Bernard Butler MySpace Page
David McAlmont Website / David McAlmont MySpace Page

August 27, 2006

MARVIN THE MARTIAN – Hoods & Badges (Download EP)

Hoods & Badges Coverhttp://www.marvthemarsh.co.uk: 5th June 2006
1. I Don’t Go (Alone)
“With twenty other people, I share my home, and the only thing I feel, when I’m here is alone, with a pen, a pad, a TV, a PS1 and poems, at 12.00 it’s my curfew, I just want someone to phone”
2. Around The Way
“Mr Politician and Mr Cop, and every bad mind teacher that wished I flopped, managed to stay afloat with it all on top”
3. Stay Off The Kane
“I walk around your room, sometimes when you’re sleepin’, I shimmy up the drainpipe to the bathroom, and just sneak in, and sometimes I sleep in your attic on the weekend”

Recently Statik and Babyshambles have been getting loads of press concerning the ‘Grindie’ scene. But you might have forgotten that Marvin The Martian and Art Brut were doing it two years ago with ‘Stay Off The Kane’. The title of the EP references the ‘Hoods’ of the Grime scene and the ‘Badges’ of the Indie scene. But these items have become interchangeable and perhaps that’s the point.

‘I Don’t Go (Alone)’ features completely new lyrics over a sample of ‘Walk With Me’ by GoodBooks. Marvin’s done that Chipmunks/Cold-As-Ice thing with the vocals, which may annoy some ears, but don’t let that put you off. His words are about being stuck in a lonely youth-shelter, then being attacked by a gang of thugs, and generally being trapped in Britain’s urban hell.  ‘Around The Way’ is a tour round Marvin’s neighbourhood on the back of a motorbike. I love the bit in the middle where it drops into the national anthem “I’m Marv The Martian, I represent UK, Britain never, never, never, shall be slain” before Marvin announces “Ah, back to business” and the song resumes. ‘Stay Off The Kane’ is the track that started it all by sampling Art Brut’s ‘Emily Kane’. The original was about Eddie Argos pining for his first love, but Marvin’s version takes it in a darker direction by casting himself as a psychotic stalker.

Click here to buy the EP from 7Digital, but it’s also available from Napster and iTunes (I managed to find a physical promo CD on Ebay).

Click here to download Marvin’s sixteen-minute Mixtape as an mp3. It samples The Maccabees, Kate Bush and others. Unlike Statik’s Grindie Mixtape, he hasn’t just played two records together badly and added gun shots. Just listen to him giving shout-outs to his Indie heroes at the start.

Marvin The Martian – Stay Off The Kane mp3
The Knack Vs Art Brut – My Sherona Formed A Band mp3

Click here to watch Marvin perform a live medley of ‘Stay Off The Kane’, ‘I Don’t Go (Alone)’ and ‘Hate This Job’ on YouTube.

Finally click here to buy the ‘Bang Bang Rock & Roll’ album by Art Brut from HMV for only £9.99. I promise you won’t regret it.

Marvin The Martian Website / Marvin The Martian MySpace Page
Art Brut Website / Art Brut MySpace Page
GoodBooks Website / GoodBooks MySpace Page

August 26, 2006

THE WHITE STRIPES – Blue Orchid: Remixes (12″ Single)

Blue Orchid Remixes CoverXL Recordings XLT216: February 2006
1. Blue Orchid (Michel Gondry Remix)
“You got a reaction, you got a reaction didn’t you, you took a white orchid, you took a white orchid and turned it blue”
2. Blue Orchid (First Nations Remix)
“You’re given a flower, but I guess that there’s just no pleasing you, your lip tastes sour, bet you think that it’s just me teasing you”

I’ve just discovered a limited Remix 12″ from The White Stripes. It seems that it hasn’t really been advertised and it’s only available through the official online shop (Even Ebay copies are scarce). The 12″ features two Remixes of ‘Blue Orchid’ by visual collaborators Michel Gondry and Jim Jarmusch.

The ‘Michel Gondry Remix’ is simply the original track with a guy revving his motorbike in the background. A similar effect can be achieved by sticking your copy of ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ in your car stereo and winding down the window. I might try “Remixing” Jamie Cullum by recording a toilet flushing in the background (Ouch!). Jim Jarmusch has been much more adventurous with his ‘First Nations Remix’ by splicing in samples of Native American music. Meg’s ferocious drumming is replaced with a more tribal beat and Jim cuts the Guitars up a bit too. It’s not entirely successful but still well worth having.

Based on this, it’s clear why Jim and Michel are respected, award-winning filmmakers… and not music producers. But if like me, you have to have every bit of vinyl that Mr Jack White III has had a hand in, you’ll buy it anyway.

Click here to visit The White Stripes shop. The 12″ is quite pricey at around £20 (£10 for the record, £10 for the postage).

Jack White – Love Is Truth mp3 (An audio recording of that brilliant Coke advert song).

Here are links to watch Michel Gondry’s videos for ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’, ‘Dead Leaves & The Dirty Ground’, ‘The Hardest Button To Button’ and ‘The Denial Twist’ on YouTube.

Also click here to watch Jack and Meg’s appearance in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’ on YouTube.

Click here to download ‘White Enemy’, an unbelievably brilliant mash-up of ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Bring The Noise’ by Public Enemy.

Click here to download the original unreleased version of ‘Here Comes The Fuzz’ by Mark Ronson (Jack’s Guitar was removed for the official version at his request).

The White Stripes Website / Triple Tremelo Fansite
White Stripes Net Fansite / Broken Bricks Fansite

August 25, 2006

ARCTIC MONKEYS – Leave Before The Lights Come On (CD Single)

Leave Before The Lights Come On CoverDomino RUG236CD: 14th August 2006
1. Leave Before The Lights Come On
“You left before the lights came on, because they didn’t want to ruin, what it was that was brewin’, before they absolutely ‘ad ter”
2. Put Your Dukes Up, John
“You were preened and sanitised, struck dumb by good advice”
3. Baby I’m Yours
“And I’ll be yours, until the sun no longer shines, yours until the poets run out of rhyme, in other words until the end of time”

At first Arctic Monkeys were the perfect band, their singles, their album tracks, their b-sides and even their unreleased demos were better than everyone else’s. ‘Leave Before The Lights Come On’ is the point where the first cracks appear in the facade. That’s not to say it isn’t a bloody good single, it’s just not the perfect single. The tried and tested Arctic Monkeys sound is still there and only Alex Turner could deliver a line like “What with the stretching and yawning, it’s always hard in the morning” with such an air of innocence.

Instead of a batch of new songs we’ll have to settle with a couple of covers (But very good covers). ‘Put Your Dukes Up, John’ is a song about music-business cynicism and it’s a cover of bestie mates The Little Flames. It doesn’t radically depart from the brilliant original but it is interesting to hear Alex sing the lyrics given their subject. ‘Baby I’m Yours’ is a cover of an old song by Barbara Lewis. It’s absolutely spell binding and features a guest appearance by 747s.

From Ritz To The Rubble (Statik Refix) mp3
Barbara Lewis – Baby I’m Yours mp3
Sugababes – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor mp3

Click here to watch videos for ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco Version 1’, ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco Version 2’, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, ‘The View From The Afternoon’ and ‘Leave Before The Lights Come On’ on YouTube.

Visit either of the fansites below to get all those old demos you’ve heard about.

Arctic Monkeys Website / Arctic Monkeys MySpace Page
Ritz To Rubble Fansite / Mardy Bum Fansite
The Little Flames Website / The Little Flames MySpace Page
747s Website / 747s MySpace Page

August 24, 2006

THE SPINTO BAND – Oh Mandy (CD & 2x 7″ Singles)

Oh Mandy CoverRadiate RDTCDX18 / RDTS18 / RDTSX18: 14th August 2006
1. Oh Mandy
“I got a gnome in the backyard, I put him right on the X mark, he’s supposed to show me where the money is, hey wont you show me where the money is”
2. Let’s See What Develops
“If my clothes are second hand, and you look good in jeans, let’s see what develops, over time we could see”
3. Road To Newark
“We can head to the main streets, eat at a Cafe, and shop for records, good oldies”
4. That’s What Isn’t Wrong
“Ask me a question about all of my family ties, and I’ll tell you what blood type they have”
5. Oh Mandy (Demo)
“Remind me once more where this is going, before I fling it out into the ocean”

To me, The Spinto Band’s two songwriters Nick Krill and Thomas Hughes, are in competition for my adoration. Usually Thomas Hughes wins out, but on this release he’s written just one song and Nick Krill turns in three brilliant compositions.

‘Oh Mandy’ is the kind of catchy and sugary Pop that some people might find just that little bit too sweet for their tastes. Nick’s manic tones are complimented by the backing vocals sighs of “Oh Mandy” and the distinctive Mandolin (Which the band have recently had stolen, the swines!). The Demo version only differs proficiency wise from the A-side, so it’s not really essential.

‘Let’s See What Develops’ is a storm of plucked Strings, Guitars and great lyrics. It really takes off when the Drums kick in at 1.17. Lines like “When I am the contract, and you’re the breach” are worthy of Nick Hannon. ‘Road To Newark’ is one of those great driving songs with that familiar chugging motor rhythm. The lyrics paint a picture of the sights and sounds of a drive round New York. ‘That’s What Isn’t Wrong’ is Thomas Hughes’ only contribution and at fifty-three seconds long, it’s a brief one. It’s a strange nursery rhyme that needs repeated listens if you’re to stand any chance of understanding what it’s on about (I haven’t, so far).

Click here to buy the ‘Nice & Nicely Done’ album from HMV for only £8.99.

Here are links to watch the videos for ‘Oh Mandy – On Later’, ‘Brown Boxes – On Later’, ‘Did I Tell You?’, ‘Oh Mandy Version 1’ and ‘Oh Mandy Version 2’ on YouTube.

The Spinto Band Website / The Spinto Band MySpace Page

August 23, 2006

PRIMAL SCREAM – Dolls (2x CD & 7″ Singles)

Dolls CoverBMG 82876871632 / 82876871622 / 82876871627: 7th August 2006
1. Dolls
“Saw you walking down the street, holding hands with some other guy, wearing a sharkskin suit, black patent leather boots, big brown flying saucer eyes”
2. It’s Not Enough
“You can give me diamonds, rubies as well, oh big deal baby, I still feel like hell”
3. Zeppelin Blues While Thinking Of Robert Parker
“I got a red hot moma, sexy as can be, got a red hot moma, she’s good to me”
4. Bloods (2 Lone Swordsmen Remix)
“I don’t know why you said you could, but you saw me”
5. Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar (Live At XFM)
“Gearhead Candy’s the nitro queen, bad motorcycle, ya know what I mean”

‘Dolls’ distils everything that’s good about histories greatest Rockers into four glorious minutes. The riff is nicked from The Rolling Stones, there’s a bit of Glam from Marc Bolan, there’s Guitars and aggression from Oasis and a pseudo-poetic interlude purloined from Patti Smith. The interlude takes the form of a verse sung by guest vocalist Alison Mosshart (aka VV from The Kills) which Bobby thrillingly introduces by screaming “Here she comes now… alright!”. Sure this song’s Spinal Tap, but lets not forget that Spinal Tap we’re a bloody good band.

‘It’s Not Enough’ is a cover of a song from Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers’ 1977 album ‘L.A.M.F.’. Primal Scream’s version is more country and less Rock than the original. It’s powerful stuff and Bobby sounds genuinely exhausted, and no more than at 1.28 when he sighs “Down”. ‘Zeppelin Blues While Thinking Of Robert Parker’ is another Rocker, which you could guess from the hilarious title. Naturally it’s based around a Zep like Riff and the sound of a Rock ‘n’ Roll band absolutely on fire. As far as I know there isn’t an Un-Remixed version of ‘Bloods’ available. Whatever the original was like the ‘2 Lone Swordsmen Remix’ features a deathly evil Bass line, but it’s similarity to ‘Little Death’ probably prevented it from being included on the album. The live version of ‘Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar’ doesn’t really do anything to merit its inclusion.

Visit Primal Scream’s website to use their Video/Audio player to watch any of their videos and to listen to the tracks from this single.

Here’s a link to download a Demo of ‘Dolls’ I found with the interlude performed by Bobby instead of Alison.

Also here’s an amazing mash-up of ‘Loaded’ and The Jungle Brothers and If you’re interested here’s a clip of the Peter Fonda movie that the famous quote is taken from “Just what is it that you want to do?”.

Lastly click here to download Johnny Thunders’ original version of ‘It’s Not Enough’.

Primal Scream Website / Webadelica Fansite

August 22, 2006

KELMAN – Loneliness Has Kept Us Alive (CD Album)

Loneliness Has Kept Us Alive CoverLiner Records LIN003: 2nd October 2006
1. Fucked & Far From Home
“Picking through the pieces, just tryin’ to find something I can hold”
2. A New Career In A New Town
“I never wanted this, you always wanted more than this”
3. These Days

“With the night so wide, there’s nowhere left to hide, loneliness has kept us alive, for so long”
4. The Happiest Man Alive
“But, if I found your cigarettes, then I’d smoke them just to taste your breath, one more time”
5. Resolve Is Never Stronger Than In The Morning After The Night It Was Never Weaker
“Falling in to bed, with the wrong person again, oh well… what the hell”
6. Hearts Break Every Day
“Now I just, see the wires, holding us up, and dragging our hearts, to such dizzy heights, well I’m sick, I’m sick of those dizzy heights”
7. In The Midst Of All This Joy
“‘Cause I’ve learned, what not to say, and I’ve learned, when to look away… and it wears me out”
8. Some Things Never Work Out
“Horoscopes lie, they’ll just fuck up your life, day by day”

The first two words of this album are “Drinking alone” which gives you an idea of what is to follow. The next line is “Fucked and far from home” which gives you an indication of the dark humour too. It’s a record that is best listened to in the late hours, something about the mood demands it. The sound is most easily described as Richard Hawley backed by 3rd LP era Velvets. Many of the songs have been premiered as demos and as streams on MySpace but only ‘The Happiest Man Alive’ has been officially released before. There is much more here than just that classic single, including my new favourite Kelman song ‘These Days’.

The levels of aggression in the songs builds almost imperceptibly towards their finish. Sometimes, like at 2.30 in ‘Fucked & Far From Home’ this loud tension suddenly subsides and leaves echoing silence and it feels like all the air has been sucked from the room. There are many other magical moments like in ‘These Days’ when a gentle wave of Cymbals drift in after the line “Loneliness has kept us alive… for so long”, it’ll send shivers up your spine.

‘Loneliness Has Kept Us Alive’ is an album about resolution in the face of defeat, it’s about putting up with life’s struggles and like the lyrics say “Shrug it off, hearts break everyday, now I know today’s just another day”. It’s out in a fortnight but until then you can buy Kelman’s first two singles from their site (Between them, they have three songs that aren’t on the album).

Kelman Website / Kelman MySpace Page
Kelman NME Page / Baptiste Website

August 21, 2006

PETER BJORN & JOHN (WITH VICTORIA BERGSMAN) – Young Folks (CD & 12″ Singles)

Young Folks CoverWichita WEBB107SCD / WEBB107T: 7th August 2006
1. Young Folks (Original / Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve Re-Animation / Thomas Andersson Remake / Team Skidoo Remix / Punks Jump Up Special Disco Mix)
“If you knew my story word for word, had all of my history, would you go along with someone like me”
2. Ancient Curse
“You turn me on, but the problems turn me off”
3. All Those Expectations (Weak Mix)
“All those expectations, you’re making me weak”

‘Young Folks’ is taken from Peter Bjorn & John’s 3rd album ‘Writer’s Block’ (Notice the lack of a comma after ‘Peter’, shabby grammar, great music). The band is from Sweden and is made up of Peter Morén, Björn Yttling and John Eriksson.

‘Young Folks’ has the kind of tune that’ll bury itself deep into your brain and never come out again. I guarantee after one listen you’ll be walking around whistling it, but you won’t be able to stop at one listen. It’s got angelic guest vocals by Victoria Bergsman from The Concretes and she sings a duet with Peter Morén that casts them as a boy and girl meeting for the first time. When the chorus comes in there is a rush of mad Bongo playing that is as unexpected as it is refreshing. So take the Bongos, the vocals, the whistling and the funky Bass and you’ve got one of the most distinctive and catchy singles for a long, long time.

The CD is backed by two songs including non-LP track ‘Ancient Curse’ which sounds like Radiohead on an off day. ‘All Those Expectations (Weak Mix)’ is a wonky, distorted recording that is more tedious than words can express. The 12″ edition of the single comprises four Remixes of ‘Young Folks’ that all way in around the six-minute mark. The ‘Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve Re-Animation’ builds on the Bongos by bringing in a George Harrison style eastern vibe. The ‘Thomas Andersson Remake’ is almost an instrumental and only features the line “People tend to disappear”. The ‘Team Skidoo Remix’ adds a Pet Shop Boys like Synth line and turns the song into a partly successful dance floor thumper. The ‘Punks Jump Up Special Disco Mix’ is the only one that really succeeds by not drifting to far from the fantastic sound of the original. The Bongos are used more, the Bass is funkier and most of the vocals are retained.

Click here to buy Peter Bjorn & John’s new album from HMV for only £8.99.

Click here to watch the video for ‘Young Folks’ on YouTube.

Peter Bjorn & John Website / Peter Bjorn & John MySpace Page
The Concretes Website / The Concretes MySpace Page

August 21, 2006

DUKE SPECIAL – Portrait (10″ EP)

Portrait CoverV2 VVR5042610: 7th August 2006
1. Portrait
“Clumsy as a ragtime clown, or some dancing Frankenstein, well darling, your broken art was never on my mind”
2. Feet In The Sky
“And where you been kid, you say you’re over six feet tall, but that didn’t stop you going up the wall”
3. Maps (Live At The Empire Music Hall, Belfast)
“Wait… they don’t love you like I love you”
4. Low (Live At The Empire Music Hall, Belfast)
“Mercy you, and mercy me, you’re still in love, in spite of me”

This is my first encounter with Belfast’s Duke Special (aka Peter Wilson), but he’s already released a number of albums, EPs and singles (You can buy them from his site). The most obvious comparison is Rufus Wainwright, musically anyway. Rufus’ image fits his music, but Duke’s is a cross between Mick Hucknall and Robert Smith. But hey, here’s to confounding expectations.

The first side of ‘Portrait’ is recorded at 78rpm, which at first seems an odd choice. But it soon becomes clear that playing the song on an old Gramophone would be the most appropriate way to hear it. This is because the music sounds antiquated and therefore completely fresh to my ears. However it still sounds bloody good when I play it on my computer. Duke’s vocal delivery is ever so slightly camp (Can you be “Ever so slightly” camp, that’s a contradiction in terms isn’t it?) and it’s backed by instruments like the Clarinet that we hear too in-frequently in everyday pop.

‘Feet In The Sky’ is written by regular collaborator Paul Wilkinson. It’s like one of those great early Rufus Wainwright singles like ‘April Fools’ or ‘California’. Next up is a live cover of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ classic single ‘Maps’. There’s something wonderful about how the calls of “Wait” sound in Duke’s Belfast accent. Lastly, is another Duke Special original called ‘Low’. It’s a beautiful Piano ballad that documents Duke’s lows but reaches such great heights too. If you’ve been waiting for a new Antony & The Johnson’s record then this B-side is for you.

If you want another great cover of ‘Maps’ visit the site of London band ‘Paris Motel’ to buy their demo CD.

Duke Special Website / Duke Special MySpace Page
Paris Motel Website / Paris Motel MySpace Page