Archive for ‘Album Reviews’

October 22, 2008

THE WHO – Who’s Next: Extended

The idea of listening to (Or watching) something “As the artist originally intended” has always obsessed me.  Leading to me doing things like forking out wodges of cash for the rare original CD version of Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Appetite For Destruction’ (With the banned cover).  Because in my mind, the album would be somehow sullied by listening to it while holding the sanitised cover in my hands (Although logically speaking, I’d have to concede it sounds exactly the same).  Another example is me tracking down two rare import CDs of The Smiths’ ‘Meat Is Murder’, one for the correct sleeve art and the other for the correct track listing (I combined both into my ultimate replica version!).  I even compiled a rough mix of The Beach Boys’ ‘Smile’ and was pleasantly surprised to find (When Brian Wilson got round to finally releasing it) that it was quite close to the actual track listing.  I also adore painstakingly restored/reconstructed film masterpieces like Leone’s ‘Once Upon A Time In America’, ‘A Fistful Of Dynamite’ and ‘The Good The Bad & The Ugly’ as well as Samuel Fuller’s ‘The Big Red One’ and Ridley Scott’s ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’.  Almost without exception when a project is returned to it’s origins, it’s a vast improvement.  Philosophy wise, I’m basically the anti-Lucas.

It was nearly ten years ago when I purchased the first remastered version of ‘Who’s Next’ (The Who’s 1971 masterpiece).  I instantly loved it, Keith’s furiously inventive Drumming, John’s peerless Bass playing, Roger’s exhilarating Vocals and of course Pete’s explosive Guitar playing.  It documents a band at the peak of their powers and perhaps Rocks finest moment.   I was also fascinated by Pete Townshend and John Atkins’ liner notes talking about the aborted ‘Lifehouse’ project/double-LP/film/Rock-Opera/live-show that had been the basis for the truncated ‘Who’s Next’ LP.  In brief, Pete was forced to abandon this grand multimedia project when it became to unwieldy to finish to his satisfaction.  It became Pete’s version of ‘Smile’, though thankfully he emerged out the other side with his sanity relatively intact (Unlike poor Brian Wilson).  When I listened to the generous selection of bonus tracks (From the same sessions) I was struck by how good they were and crucially that they were not half formed demos or partly recorded instrumentals but infact fully functioning Rock ‘n’ Roll beasts that were sonically cohesive with the other tracks.  I yearned to hear the ‘Lifehouse’ album “As the artist originally intended” but I thought no more about it, content to listen to the existing album while playing windmill air-Guitar to ‘Baba O’Riley’  (Incidentally, if you’ve never done this, I suggest you’ve never truly lived – Watch this bedroom rockstar on YouTube).

Fast forward and I’ve spent the best part of the last year idly trying to put my attempt at ‘Lifehouse’ together.  The chief difficulty lies in the fact that unlike Pete’s earlier ‘Tommy’ the songs from ‘Lifehouse’ contain a minimal amount of the narrative (This was intended to be imparted in an accompanying film).  I found the “Rosetta Stone” to understanding ‘Lifehouse’ was The Wachowski Brothers 1999 film ‘The Matrix’.  Always keeping this film in mind makes the ‘Lifehouse’ plot easy to digest.  Of course Pete’s story came nearly three decades ahead of ‘The Matrix’ and years ahead of the internet.  So here’s a basic plot outline (As I understand it/it makes sense to me):

In a distopian/totalitarian future Britain pollution/radiation is everywhere so the population of Britain sit plugged into ‘Lifesuits’ that simulate life (Like ‘Virtual-Reality’) so that no one need leave their homes.  The suits are all connected to ‘The Grid’ (Like the internet) and they provide food/water/entertainment to the user.  Up in the Scottish countryside the pollution isn’t as bad, so the food that sustains the Lifesuit users is grown there (‘Baba O’Riley’).  One oppressed farming family (‘Water’) hears about a secret concert/festival in London called ‘Lifehouse’ (‘The Relay’) designed to bring back Rock music and awake the masses (‘I Don’t Even Know Myself’).  They and others travel to this gig (‘Let’s See Action’, ‘Going Mobile’).  Along the way there are various subplots involving romances starting/ending (‘Bargain’, ‘Love Ain’t For Keeping’, ‘Baby Don’t You Do It’, ‘Naked Eye’).  At the concert the band (The Who themselves are the group) take vital-statistics from the people and feed them into a computer/synthesiser to generate music in the hope of generating the perfect transcendental note (‘Join Together’).  Most embrace this new philosophy (‘Time Is Passing’, ‘Pure & Easy’, ‘Getting In Tune’) but some become disillusioned with the movement the band are starting (‘Too Much Of Anything’, ‘Put The Money Down’).  Eventually the authorities surround the “Lifehouse” and try to shut it down.  The Leader of the authorities takes to the stage and appeals for the concert goers to leave (‘Behind Blue Eyes’).  The band grab the microphone back and defy the Leader (‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’) and when the concert reaches it’s crescendo they succeed in playing the perfect note (Because the people have become at one with the music and the band themselves) and everyone at the concert ascends to a higher plane and escapes the authorities (‘The Song Is Over’).

Once I’d got the plot fixed in my head it was a lengthy but enjoyable task of placing the songs in the correct order within the narrative.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d come to a track listing I’d called “Finished” only to re-order it a week later after spotting a lyric that seemed out of place.  Here is the running order that I feel holds together best:

Side One
1. Baba O’Riley (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)
2. Water (From the ‘Odds & Sods’ Compilation. Recorded at Eel Pie Studios, May 1970)
3. The Relay (From ‘The Who’s Greatest Hits’ Compilation. Recorded at Olympic Studios, 26th May 1972)
4. I Don’t Even Know Myself (Bonus Track from the 1995 Re-Issue of ‘Who’s Next’. Recorded at Eel Pie Studios, May-June 1970)
5. Let’s See Action (From the ‘My Generation’ Compilation. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May-June 1971)
6. Going Mobile (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)
7. Bargain (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, April-June 1971)
8. Love Ain’t For Keeping (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)
9. Baby Don’t You Do It (A thrilling cover of a Marvin Gaye song which was a bonus Track from the 1995) Re-Issue of ‘Who’s Next’.  Recorded at The Record Plant in New York, 16th March 1971)
10. Naked Eye (From the ‘Odds & Sods’ Compilation. Recorded at Eel Pie Studios, May 1970)

Side Two
1. Join Together (From the ‘My Generation’ Compilation. Recorded at Olympic Studios, 22nd May 1972)
2. Time Is Passing (From the ‘Odds & Sods’ Compilation. Recorded at Olympic Studios, 12th April 1971)
3. Pure & Easy (From the ‘Odds & Sods’ Compilation. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)
4. Getting In Tune (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)
5. Too Much Of Anything (Bonus Track from the 1995 Re-Issue of ‘Who’s Next’.  Recorded at Olympic Studios, 12th April 1971)
6. Put The Money Down (From the ‘Odds & Sods’ Compilation. Recorded at Olympic Studios, 6th June 1972)
7. Behind Blue Eyes (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)
8. Won’t Get Fooled Again (From the original LP.  Recorded at Stargroves Studios, April 1971)
9. The Song Is Over / Pure & Easy (Reprise) (From the original LP. Recorded at Olympic Studios, May 1971)

The original tracks have been retained (With the obvious exception of the John Entwistle penned ‘My Wife’).   Four of the additional eleven tracks were recorded at the same May 1971 Olympic sessions that the majority of the original LP songs came from.  The rest were variously recorded at Pete’s own Eel Pie Studios (A year before the Olympic sessions), at The Record Plant in New York (Immediately Prior to the Olympic sessions) and three were only layed down in 1972 after ‘Lifehouse’ had already been shelved in favour of ‘Who’s Next’.  Most of the tracks can be found if you get either of the re-issues of ‘Who’s next’ (The second Deluxe re-issue is preferable, since you get a bonus contemporaneous live concert recorded at The Young Vic, to give you the live ‘Lifehouse’ experience).

So in conclusion, here is a Zip file containing all the elements you need to “Extend” your copy of ‘Who’s Next’ into something that isn’t quite ‘Lifehouse’ but is a whole lot closer than the original release.  I’ve included alternate artwork I’ve made (Pictured above), this unwieldy essay and of course the eleven mp3s to add to the eight you’ve already got.  What’s that I hear you say, you haven’t got the original eight tracks, well… go buy a copy!  (And no before you ask, I won’t be posting them, blow the cobwebs off your wallet!) You can print the artwork and burn off the two CDs or simply create a virtual copy in iTunes (You could even give it to your dad for Christmas).  Enjoy!

WHO’S NEXT: EXTENDED KIT Zip

Here are some notable links:

Click here to buy a copy of ‘Who’s Next’.

Here are some decent quality clips of The Who performing tracks from ‘Lifehouse’ back in the day:
Baba O’Riley (Shepperton Studios, 1978)
Water (Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970)
The Relay (Old Grey Whistle Test, 1973)
I Don’t Even Know Myself (Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970)
Naked Eye (Isle Of Wight Festival, 1970)
Join Together (Top Of The Pops, 1972)
Behind Blue Eyes (Hammersmith Odeon, 1979)
Won’t Get Fooled Again (Shepperton Studios, 1978)

Click here to buy the absolutely essential live-compilation/biography DVD ‘The Kids Are Alright’.

Whilst browsing YouTube I came across this dude who is quite simply Keith Moon born again (Zak Starkey leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion).
Drumming along to ‘Baby Don’t You Do It’
Drumming along to ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’

Buy Pete’s ‘Music from Lifehouse’ DVD.

‘Lifehouse’ on Wikipedia

The Who liner notes Website (An essential resource).

WhiteFang’s Who Info Site (The sleeves of seemingly every record!).

Pete’s Eel Pie Records Site

The Who’s Official Website

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March 9, 2008

BILLY BRAGG: Mr Love & Justice: The Wait Is Over!

“Who will pay the price if injustice such as this, turns our protectors to oppressors, and angry men to terrorists, oh freedom, what liberties are taken in thy name”

Finally Billy Bragg’s new album is here, his first since 2002’s ‘England, Half English’. ‘Mr Love & Justice’ is an album about relationships with a bit of politics subtly mixed in. Only three or four songs are overtly political, tackling subjects like rendition, marketing/corporate-malpractice and PTSD. He’s taken the unusual step of pleasing everyone by releasing the record as both a full-band album and as a stripped-down acoustic recording. My votes with the solo version, I’m of the opinion that too much instrumentation often dulls the power of Billy’s songs.

Billy Bragg – I Keep Faith (Solo Version) mp3

If you liked that, click here to buy ‘Mr Love & Justice’ from HMV.

If you’ve never heard Billy Bragg before (Wow you’ve been missing out!) then here are my favourite tracks from each of his other eight albums:

A New England mp3 (His calling card and a hit for Kirsty MacColl)
It Says Here mp3 (The media doesn’t change in twenty odd years)
Levi Stubbs’ Tears mp3 (Guitars like arrows piercing your heart)
The Price I Pay mp3 (Just a great love song, through and through)
Blake’s Jerusalem mp3 (A passionate reading of the WI anthem)
Everywhere mp3 (About the Pacific conflict and maybe his best song)
From Red To Blue mp3 (New Labour seen through old Labour eyes)
Distant Shore mp3 (A beautiful, compassionate song about refugees)

WHEN you love those, click here to buy all eight albums in two handy deluxe boxsets.

Click here to read Billy’s blog, with a downloadable audio documentary.

Click here to download a new interview where Billy discusses the new album over a cup of tea.

Click here to watch a charming clip of Billy and Kate Nash performing together.

Click here to get three free mp3s from Billy Bragg’s official Website.

Click here to get Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly’s new album, featuring a quick appearance by Billy Bragg and a longer appearance by Kate Nash.

Billy Bragg Website / Billy Bragg MySpace

August 20, 2007

MY ESSENTIAL ALBUMS: ANDREW W.K. – I Get Wet

Mercury 5865882: November 2001
“It’s time to party, let’s party, hang out with yourself and have a crazy party, hey you, let’s party, have a killer party and party!”

This album has three songs with the world ‘Party’ in the title.  Also look at the opening verse (Above) which as you can see, mentions the word ‘Party’ six times in eleven seconds.  The cover is infamous, with people protesting that it endorsed Cocaine. Actually, Andrew W.K. smashed a brick into his face to create the image (Which is of course infinitely preferable!!).

I’m not a fan of Metal as a rule because of its tendency to be whiney rubbish about death, with what sounds like a grunting pig with a sore-throat shouting over a laughably bad dirge.  However, this album is about life and the living of it “Never gonna die, ‘Cause we gotta keep it alive”. Before his detour into hard Rock, Andrew W.K. was a classically trained pianist so there are high-energy Pianos on every track, which are a strange compliment to the loud Metal guitars.  Usually when you say an album sounds like ‘Fun House’ you mean The Stooges’ 1970 album.  In this case it sounds like the theme to Pat Sharp’s classic gunge splattered kids show.  Behind every song on this album lies a rich seam of finely crafted hands-in-the-air Pop.

If you’re feeling down you can listen to songs like ‘Got To Do It’ which are almost like motivational anthems “When you’re down in the mud, you gotta do it, and you’re covered in blood, you gotta do it!”.  I can’t play this album without forming my hands into fists and punching the air.  I’ve often listened to this before going out to a club and it has the kind of effect that only seventeen cans of Red-Bull could reproduce.

Andrew W.K. – Party ‘Til You Puke mp3

Click here to buy ‘I Get Wet’ from HMV for just £7.99.

Click here to visit Andrew’s YouTube channel and be sure to check out one of the greatest music-videos ever made, ‘She Is Beautiful’ (The best bit is where he stops for a smoothie!)

Andrew W.K. Website / Andrew W.K. MySpace

May 8, 2007

MR HUDSON & THE LIBRARY – A Tale Of Two Cities (Free Download Album)

“I say we step outside, cos we can brave the cold, the night is on freeze frame, but double-brandies triple-glaze the cold from my soul”

Mr Hudson & The Library are offering their incredible ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ album to download completely free!

Too good to be true? Well almost… they’ve not lost all sense of reason. You can download the album as wma files with heavy License restrictions. You can’t burn the album to a CD and you can only keep it for two weeks but I gaurantee after fourteen days of listening to this album you’ll be whipping out the cash for genuine copy anyway.

Click here to get your free download copy!

Click here to buy a beautifully packaged hard-copy of the album (Complete with lyrics booklet) from HMV for only £7.99.

Mr Hudson & The Library – Woman On The Hill mp3 (Class B-side)
Mr Hudson & The Library – Bread + Roses (Mr Hudson Vs DJ Wonder) mp3

Here are links to watch videos of ‘Too Late, Too Late’, ‘Too Late, Too Late (Live On Later)’, ‘Bread + Roses’, ‘Bread + Roses (Live Acapella)’, ‘Ask The DJ’ and ‘Ask The DJ (Sway Remix)’ on YouTube.

Mr Hudson & The Library Website / Mr Hudson & The Library MySpace

April 9, 2007

THE DRAYTONES – Forever On (CD EP)

1965 Records OLIVECD017: 26th March 2007
1. Keep Loving Me
“You keep coming back for more, until I tell you stop-ah, don’t want you anymore”
2. Out Of This World

“I am tired, I am down, I am out of this world”
3. Not Alone
“Your insecurity always gets the better of you”
4. Time
“For those who sang this blues, I tell you, please welcome on board”
5. 4 Yrs
“If all I ever get is to dream about it, think you’d find me swinging one day”
6. Trafalgar Square
“Summer hot and humid, everybody is sweating and hanging around”

I was seriously in need of sleep when I ordered this EP and I mistook it for a long lost Psychedelic gem from 1965 (From the quick listen I gave it). It is in fact a brand new offering from London’s The Draytones on 1965 Records. It’s testament to the bands skills, that this could easily be mistaken for a genuine Garage Rock nugget.

‘Keep Loving Me’ is a stunning mix of loud clattering Drums and dirt raw Guitars that’d match up to anything by The Sonics. ‘Out Of This World’ is like something from The White Album because of the style, the fun and the song writing pedigree. ‘Not Alone’ is a wonderful melancholy mid point on the EP and ‘Time’ brings to mind The Kinks or Syd era Pink Floyd. ‘4 Yrs’ is a gently rolling little number and ‘Trafalgar Square’ is a woozy Jazz club ditty. The Draytones’ clever mimicking of the 60’s greats will draw criticism from some quarters, but that happened to Oasis and look how many records they’ve sold. Expect big things from a band that make it seem like great tunes come like running water.

Click here to buy the EP from HMV for only £5.99.

Click here to watch the video for ‘Keep Loving Me’ on YouTube. It’s a cunningly shot piece that could fool you into thinking it was a thrilling vintage clip (Jerry Lee Lewis, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones).

The Draytones Website / The Draytones MySpace

September 5, 2006

JASON MOLINA – Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go (12″ & CD Album)

Let Me Go CoverSecretly Canadian SC149: 28th August 2006
1. It’s Easier Now
“Behind these eyes a desert spirit, sea serpent heart inside a sunken ship”
2. Everything Should Try Again
“You don’t forgive the silence for not speaking up”
3. Alone With The Owl
“I stood beside the ocean not a single wave, beside the ocean not a single wave”
4. Don’t It Look Like Rain
“The wolf outside my door don’t need, anymore of my blood”
5. Some Things Never Try
“All those years had to darken me on every single side, ’til every part of me was a place to hide”
6. It Must Be Raining There Forever
“With all that blue that you carry around in your heart, it must be raining there forever”
7. Get Out, Get Out, Get Out
“I lived low enough so the moon wouldn’t waste it’s light on me, what’s left in this life that would do the same for me”
8. It Costs You Nothing (That’s What It Was Worth)
“If the truth don’t hurt, the truth don’t work, it costs you nothing, that’s what it was worth”
9. Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go
“Owl above places of the dead, and I have to believe everything she said”

With Magnolia Electric Co the music was closely tied to the sound of Neil Young. On Jason Molina’s new solo album, while the voice is still reminiscent of Young, it also brings to mind Nick Drake at his most intimate. The lyrics are starkly confessional and chronicle a defeated spirit with lines like “I don’t think nothing now is gonna change” and “No matter how wrong it went, you don’t have much more room to forget”. Jason’s haunting voice paints pictures of darkness and death with every line.

Although this is a largely acoustic album, the creek of Jason’s chair, the wetting of his lips, voices in the background, his fingers drumming on the Guitar’s body and the echoing silence are like a ghostly backing band in itself. Since it feels like he’s in the room with you, the record is probably best experienced at night, maybe with headphones.

While this album is incredible, this is perhaps too bleak to be an ideal introduction to Jason Molina. If you’ve not heard him I’d grab a copy of last years more lushly produced ‘What Comes After The Blues’ album by Magnolia Electric Co.

Jason Molina – Get Out, Get Out, Get Out mp3
Songs: Ohio – Farewell Transmission mp3
Magnolia Electric Co – The Dark Don’t Hide It mp3
Magnolia Electric Co – Leave The City mp3
Magnolia Electric Co – Lonesome Valley mp3

The album is only available as a 12″ LP but the neat trick is, every one comes with a free CD copy. The down side is the CD doesn’t come with any artwork, so I decided to scan in the LP’s cover and make myself a mini replica. Click here to get it, then you’ll have to print it on some thick card/paper, cut it out, glue it and bingo you’ve got a cover for your CD. Since the photo is so nice I’ve also turned it into a desktop backdrop, which you can get by clicking here.

You can buy the album from the Websites below or from Piccadilly Records.

Magnolia Electric Co Website / Magnolia Electric Co MySpace Page
Secretly Canadian Website

September 3, 2006

THE HIT PARADE – The Return Of The Hit Parade (CD Album)

The Return Of The Hit Parade CoverJSH Records JPEW002: 31st July 2006
1. Ode To A Footballer’s Wife
“You came to me like a new toy, gift wrapped and price tagged”
2. The Queen Of Mousehole
“And so at midnight when I’m shipwrecked, and I’m down here on my knees”
3. My Stupid Band
“Hey Stoker, what you want, to rock ‘n’ roll or to career”
4. Intermission
“Instrumental”
5. The New Woman
“Born again at the shooting party ball, with a man she thought was called Hugh, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall”
6. Lonely Girl
“Oh I love to see you standing in the rain, looking lost and like you’re advertising pain”
7. Born In St. Ives
“I just can’t wait, to see you, heaven’s here and there’s stars above you”
8. You’re Bloody Rubbish
“You’re bloody rubbish, and you don’t know what you’re good for, you’re not my girlfriend anymore”
9. Sugar
“I couldn’t wait up for the phone to ring, but Christmas never comes for the boy who stands there staring up the chimney”
10. Westbourne Terrace W2
“The fridge is empty and I haven’t got a plan, and I can’t fix you up like Coldplay can”
11. It’s A Dream
“I could take you away, I could make you a bet, and I’d win but I know that I’d, that I’d always regret”
12. You’re The Girl Who Always Gets Her Own Way
“How was it then, when you were young, when you were given the taste of ice cream, by your fantastic mum”

This album incorporates all the best moments of Pop and Rock like Thin Lizzy, The Ramones, The Beatles, The Sex Pistols and Belle & Sebastian into one snappy Indie package. Peculiarly English culture references abound such as place names, objects and persons. Lyrically, it’s like Billy Bragg sans politics and none more so than on ‘The New Woman’.

The best track is their last single ‘My Stupid Band’ with its finely balanced mix of frustration with and love for the same thing. But there are other potential Pop singles like the riff-tastic ‘Ode To A Footballer’s Wife’, ‘You’re Bloody Rubbish’ and ‘Westbourne Terrace W2’. The album is also stuffed with quieter treats like ‘Lonely Girl’, ‘Sugar’ and ‘It’s A Dream’. The loveliest moment is on the magical and wistful ‘Intermission’ instrumental.

Perhaps this isn’t the most groundbreaking album you’ll hear this year but it’ll sure be one of the most enjoyable. This is their sixth studio album, so if it’s anything to go by, I’ll be spending allot more time in the company of The Hit Parade.

The Hit Parade Website / The Hit Parade MySpace Page

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 14, 2006

DAN SARTAIN – Join Dan Sartain (CD Album)

Join Dan Sartain CoverOne Little Indian: 2nd October 2006
1. Drama Queens
“If God exists, then he’s out of control, should be taken from the throne, and I’m happy that he died, ha, ha”
2. Totem Pole
“My face is low, carved on that Totem Pole, and I want my teeth, to be covered all with gold”
3. Gun Vs. Knife
“Well I heard of jealous guys, but this one takes the cake, and he wants to murder me, but I’ve never seen his face”
4. Flight Of The Finch
“He’s got no use for words, he’s the weakest of the birds, and when he spreads his wings, you watch him span”
5. Young Girls
“Those silly boys you’re with, they look like young Republicans”
6. Thought It Over
“Well, where is the progress, and where is the logic, on the level with the common thief”
7. The World Is Gonna Break Your Little Heart
“And no one wants to teach these classes, so they fit you up for rose coloured glasses”
8. Replacement Man
“And you didn’t have to come, if you want me here I is, but when you hold me, all you want to talk about is him”
9. Hangers On
“If I’m in my home town, or I’m across the sea, no matter where I go, the hangers on come after me”
10. Besa Me Mucho
“So dearest one, if you should leave me, then each little dream will take wings, and my life will be through”
11. Spaghetti-O Beard
“I wanted it so, and I would steal it just to own it”
12. Second Coming
“I only know, that Hell is getting hotter, the Devil’s getting smarter all the time”
13. Indian Ink
“Well I had a love, out of vinegar and piss, I mark out your name and I try to forget yeah”
14. Shenanigans
“And I’m not gonna give you another chance, you get me on a string, well you can watch me dance”
15. Love Is Black
“Instrumental”

Dan Sartain’s first proper album (After a couple of rare self-released CDs) was ‘Dan Sartain Vs. The Serpientes’. It was one of the best records released last year but it was a collection of new and old songs. The song writing standard was consistent but the production was not. For me, that held it back from classic status but now his new release ‘Join Dan Sartain’ is a totally new album (Trivia: Dan considered calling it ‘Audio Erotic Asphyxiation’).

The album brings to mind the films of Sergio Leone for two reasons. First musically it’s influenced by the more Guitar heavy elements of Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks. The other reason is that Dan casts himself as the lone Cowboy fighting injustice where he finds it, but who’s also almost as corrupt himself. On the standout track ‘Thought It Over’, Dan rails against poverty, capitalism and politicians but never lays it on with a trowel. The downtrodden masses are a recurring theme of the album.

The other themes of the record are betrayal and jealousy. Betrayal by God in ‘Drama Queens’, betrayal by a lover in ‘Shenanigans’ and betrayal by life itself in ‘The World Is Gonna Break Your Little Heart’. Dan feels jealous of material possessions in ‘Spaghetti-O Beard’ and jealous of love in ‘Totem Pole’ and ‘Indian Ink’. But on ‘Gun Vs. Knife’ and ‘Hangers On’, Dan is the object of other people’s jealousy. Most of humanities other darker emotional tendencies make appearances, like hate, bitterness and violence.

The only low point here is on ‘Shenanigans’. I suspect Dan must have picked up the word on his tour of the UK because as far as I know it’s not a common American word. He seems to think the word means adultery, murder, lies and things of that nature but the dictionary describes it as “High-spirited behaviour”. So the chorus just sounds a bit silly and spoils an otherwise great song and ends the album on a bum note. Maybe in time I’ll get used to it and overall this is a fantastic record that will be a contender for album of the year.

‘Join Dan Sartain’ isn’t out for a month and a half but I’m a rabid Dan Sartain fan so I bought a promo copy on Ebay. I suggest you do the same.

Baby’s Town mp3 (Outtake from ‘The Serpientes’ LP)
Not The Boy She Knew mp3 (Rare early song)

Click here to buy the limited ‘Sartain Family Legacy 1981-1998’ Compilation.

Here are links to watch Dan in the studio recording ‘Besa Me Mucho’, on YouTube or as a Quicktime file.

Dan Sartain MySpace Page
Cass Website / Swami Website
One Little Indian Website / Sky Bucket Website

July 2, 2006

iLiKETRAiNS – Progress – Reform (Mini CD Album)

Progress Reform CoverFierce Panda NONG43CD: 26th June 2006
1. Terra Nova
“Exploration’s last great prize, it wasn’t mine, and mores the shame, you will remember my name”
2. No Military Parade
“Here’s to success, this ones for Amundsen, though I drink to anyone, these days”
3. A Rook House For Bobby
“All I ever wanted to do, is play chess with you, but if they find me, they will indite me, I just can’t fight, anymore”
4. Citizen
“It’s the least you can do, to endear yourself to, your new home”
5. The Accident
“It was such a lovely party, before the accident occurred, the ambulance came and took you away, before the coffee was served”
6. Stainless Steel
“Please don’t go into the kitchen, that’s where the knives are, and I won’t be held responsible”
7. The Beeching Report
“Is this the price we pay for progress, taking one step forward, for every six we take back, does your dirty oil stained money make you happy”

The word ‘Epic’ is very appropriate to describe iLiKETRAiNS. They produce towering songs, haunting soundscapes and cacophonous noise. There are only seven songs on this Mini-Album but it’s as long as most bands LPs. What isn’t there is often more important than what is. The songs build to deafening levels of noise, only for them to drop into atmospheric, near silence when you least expect it. Also many times there will be a devastating word that is whispered and then an echoing void in which to contemplate it. It collects the four tracks that made up their last two singles (Except ‘No Military Parade’ is a superior, string-laden version of ‘Terra Nova’s B-side, ‘Fram’). The other three songs have been doing the rounds in demo form for a while.

iLiKETRAiNS songs are usually either claustrophobic tales of death, or chronicles of historical figures and events. ‘Terra Nova’ and ‘No Military Parade’ concern the British and Norwegian expeditions to the South Pole in 1910. ‘A Rook House For Bobby’ gets into the head of disturbed Chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer. ‘Citizen’ explores feelings of displacement. ‘The Accident’ is about a poisoning, but it doesn’t explain the motives (It’s left for you to fill in the gaps). ‘Stainless Steel’ seems to be about a person killing an unfaithful lover or an abusive partner. Finally ‘The Beeching Report’ mourns the thousands of people who lost their jobs as a result of a 1960’s Railway restructuring plan.

These are not songs for the easily bored. A certain amount of effort is required of the listener. Doing some reading around the subjects that the band covers enriches the songs. Here are links to entries on Wikipedia about the Terra Nova, the Fram, Captain Scott, Roald Amundsen, Bobby Fischer and Dr Beeching.

Click here to download a multitude of iLiKETRAiNS demos.

iLiKETRAiNS Website / iLiKETRAiNS MySpace Page