Wednesday, 24 June 2009

On the Stereo

Been running round the CD player this month....

1. Blabbermouth - I Return -

2. Lethal Bizzle - Go Hard -

3. The Wallbirds - Lying By The Side of You -

4. The Tivoli - My Town -

5. Eels- I Like Birds -


Classic Album Review - Faces - A Nod Is As Good As A Wink...To A Blind Horse

Often forgotten as one of the bands that shaped rock n roll as we know it, the Faces 1971 album ‘A Nod Is As Good As A Wink...To a Blind Horse’ was one of the most un-erring records released in the 70s.

The Faces were known as one of the ‘most shambolic bands in the history of rock n roll’ and were heavily influenced by early R&B routes and Motown. They trashed motels, stage sets, made woodchip of instruments deemed unworthy and were famed for their drinking habits and party-time attitude.

It was a time when Stewart’s solo career was beginning to take off in a big way and when his third album ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ was released in October of 1971 he became the first person to hold all four number one spots in the UK and America.

‘A Nod Is As Good As a Wink...To a Blind Horse’ was released in the December of the same year and reached number 2 in the UK chart. It marked a time when Faces were almost battling with Stewart’s growing stardom which didn’t cause friction in the band itself but was the cause of constant rumours that the band was about to be left by its leading member.

The album is beautifully pieced together funky blues rock that produced one of the bands biggest hits, ‘Stay With Me’ (“In the morning, please don’t say you love me cause’ I’ll only kick you out of the door.”)

The album was written predominantly by Stewart and Wood (Ronnie – the one from the Stones) allied by Ronnie Lane’s more country-tinged sparkly blues approach with classics such as ‘Debris’, ‘Last Orders Please’ and ‘Love Lives Here’ all appearing on A Nod Is As Good As A Wink.

The whole album has got a lazy rock feel that so wonderfully encapsulates the era and its warm, fuzzy, ramshackle feel that Glyn Johns produced feels not only self-effacing but exciting at the same time.

Opener ‘Miss Judy’s Farm’ talks about a moody woman who owns a proper sized poodle that needs a good shoeing before the band look to Chuck Berry’s classic ‘Memphis Tennessee’ and turn it into their own dirty brand of blues.

In the end it wasn’t to be Stewart’s success that broke the band, although it undoubtedly played a part it. Ronnie Wood was lured to the Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor made his departure from the line-up and in December 1975 the Faces went their separate ways.

So Wrong It's Right

Guilty pleasures – everyone has them, it’s no different with music. Each and every person has a carefully concealed stinker to their CD or MP3 collection and as some trends come to an end, others start - leaving the predecessor amongst a tousled scene of has beens, dated sounds and an uncertain future – welcome to the world the rest of us live in.

Anyone would like to think that their collection stands above the rest and that their musical taste and knowledge outshines others but there will always be that black sheep, something that doesn’t quite belong where the others rest.

I recently received a grilling for owning the All Saints’ number one single ‘Pure Shores’, released nearly a decade ago as the soundtrack to ‘The Beach’. A song that I still believe is based around sound pop sensibilities, melodies and harmonies was soon shot down in front of my very eyes.

But further interrogation revealed people still wet the bed when ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by one hit wonders Deep Blue Something gets a rare showing and anyone that still sings “Cut my life into pieces this is my last resort” must indeed be hanging on the edge of a razor blade waiting for someone end their supposed constant misery.

It has to be said that bands like Girls Aloud probably lie in middle aged men’s collection, if not the CDs then the DVDs almost certainly will be, perhaps disguised in the ‘family collection’ or bought for their younger daughter’s birthday but it still gets aired when in the sanctuary of themselves, shifting comfortably in their seat every time a lycra clad Cheryl Cole bends over. Who wouldn’t?

However, we all get immersed in these little scenes that come to light every now and again take the whole population’s judgement for a ride. Look at the Darkness, something so utterly embarrassing that people loved it. Despite being the ugliest fuckers around, people still wanted to shag them, despite being more annoying than fat lass Feltz, people still wanted them around and despite blatantly nicking their best video from Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction’s ‘Prime Mover’ (check it out) they were still the biggest thing that year and they sold a shit load of albums. They must have been doing something right but I bet you can’t find one person that will now turn around and say: “The Darkness? Top band.”

There are also indie snobs that like to take the moral high road in their Topman chic, refusing to publically listen to anything without a guitar, synth or idiotically dressed student begging for attention but when in private and “I’m like a bird” by Nelly Furtardo emerges somewhat unsurprisingly from behind their Franz Ferdinand collection a sticky mess ensues.

Almost as embarrassing as Robbie Williams’ ‘classic’ ‘Angels’ being the fourth most played song at British funerals. Can you imagine leaving the world to that fat faced twat? Oh dear god.

So we all have our hidden secret, something which shouldn’t quite belong in the dark corner of our shelves, something that looks out of place yet it so wonderfully fits in. It should never be removed and despite the amicable torture of piss take that plagues you when you keep the record, let alone when you buy the record, it’s always worth it.

Shoulda Been Huge - You Am I

While arguably huge in their native Australia, You Am I have remained something of an unknown on these shores. Having influenced many-a-band that came out of the new rock n roll revolution of 2002, I’ve always wondered why this band never made even the slightest dent of an impact on our scene.

I stumbled across You Am I on their 2002 support slot tour with the Vines and they were promoting their 6th studio album ‘Deliverance’ at the time. They rocked the proverbial out of the audience for thirty minutes.

During the earlier part of the decade and the late nineties, You Am I gave their support slots to particularly well lauded new talent, anyone heard of The Strokes, JET, The Vines, Kings of Leon? They all supported You Am Ion their never-ending tours of Australia and America.

You Am I formed back in early 1990s in Sydney, originally as a trio “hankering with Van Halen riffs in a hotel room” and featured Tim Rogers on vocals and guitars, brother Jamie on drums with Nik Tischler on bass. The band had several line-up changes over the years, eventually sticking with Andy Kent on bass and Rusty Hopkinson (formerly in Nursery Crimes)on the sticks in 1991 and 1993 respectively before Davey Lane completed the four piece line up in October 1999, taking the reins of lead guitar.

You Am I made their reputation as sweaty, hard working rockers and by the time they released their third studio album, ‘Hourly Daily’, they were riding on hits such as chart friendly ‘Good Mornin’’, ‘Mr Milk’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’.

They are a band that have always been far from polished, leaving their cigarette scratched and sopping wet booze drenched brand of rock in a field away from most bands. Not afraid to drift off into the hard rock n roll of ‘Junk’ (although never captured on record as momentously as their live appearances) to soft spoken country commentary of ‘Nifty L’il Number Like You’ and ‘City Lights’ which displayed a soul that doesn’t exist in many bands.

It’s not all rosie posie perfect rock n roll, You Am I’s seventh and not so well received studio album, ‘Convicts’ was their first release after being dropped by long time record label, Sony BMG Australia who had signed them in 1998. It took a while for You Am I to return after the band worked on their own solo projects and other interests.

Front man and song writer Tim Rogers has become something of a cult figure in Australia collaborating with various artists including long time friend Evan Dando. The two toured together back in 2001 to promote Rogers’ solo record ‘Spit Polish’ backed by the ‘Temperance Union’.

This has been Rogers’ most notable foray outside of You Am I and the project has released two records, the most recent being double album, Ghost Songs and Dirty Ron with the prior producing the ramshackle and unclean ‘Dumb’ and the charming and honest ‘Social Pages’.

Davey Lane caught the attentions of You Am I with his band the Pictures who have released two albums and various EPs in the time that Lane isn’t with You Am I and the band have toured with the likes of JET to a relatively low degree of success.

However, Lane, respected in his own right as one of Australia’s leading guitarists also took part in the Wave Aid gigs in Australian super group, The Wrights, also featuring Kram from Spiderbait, Pat Bourke of Dallas Crane, Easybeats front man Stevie Wright and Nic Cester of JET on vocals. The band produced hit single ‘Evie’, a cover of the Easybeats classic song-trilogy.
Rogers also appeared with JET on an ABC television and radio appearance back in 2004 performing ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ and ‘Look What You’ve Done’ with the band. Chris Cester, JET’s drummer said that Rogers and You Am I “had been a strong influence” on the band as they were growing up, along with others such as Dallas Crane, Spiderbait and the Easybeats.

Bassist and co manager Andy Kent most recently played bass on The Vines third studio album, ‘Vision Valley’, filling the void left by Patrick Matthews after Craig Nicholls was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

You Am I have not necessarily been ignored by the British faithful, earning a support slot with the mighty Rolling Stones after Keith Richards stumbled across them on an Australian tour.
With the ‘new rock revolution’ now crumbled and dishevelled under a smear of face paint, synthesizers, MDMA and glitter and bands such as The Hiss, The Redwalls, Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club, The Vines, 22-20s, and The Datsuns relatively forgotten, the ‘wheel’ as we know it is spinning out of control feeding the weak minded with over produced and dressed up dross giving the likes of Simon Cowell the gaps to show case tampered with, overblown bullshit that we’ve heard before. Let’s face it; it’s just someone singing someone else’s song only doused with reverb, loud bangs on entrance and a gushing, fake and nowhere near as successful as her sister Danni Minogue. It’s barely even real. Sorry, she’s barely even real.

You Am I can keep their soul and their back yard rock for themselves.

Shoulda been huge.

Argon 40 - Stay

It’s fair to say that we’re currently in a synthesizer infested time of dance, angst and has beens.

The stuff that saturates our airwaves is a vogue that has truly captured the spirit of the time - over complicated, expensive and not really that good.

New York duo, Argon 40, have got a task on their hands then. The twosome has truly embraced this spirit in their own spaced out way.

Opening track, Stay, is a brew of stomping 80s electro pop with singer/songwriter Heather Greene’s vocals floating effortlessly over the top. The band make an immediate impression with their lazy brand of clean electro which slips into a stoner paradise of Free Fallin, a dreamy cover of Tom Petty‘s classic that Argon 40 have transformed fluently into their own sound.

While it’s nothing new and relatively unexciting they have displayed that they’re masters of their trade and despite being inoffensive and their nod towards the 80s electro scene is apparent it’s got a fresh feeling that they don’t lose by trying too hard.
Good shit.

Available as a free download on

Lethal Bizzle - Go Hard

Described as the “most exciting rapper to emerge from the UK underground scene” and with several collaborations already under his belt, Lethal Bizzle, the man once cut off in mid song and called ‘Jizzy Tissue’ by Jeremy Clarkson is back for the release of his third album, ‘Back to Bizznizz’.

The new long player is to feature fresh collaborations including that of in demand producer Mark Ronson and this particular single features Donaeo.

Opening with p-h fat beats and Donaeo telling us “Me I gotta go hard, hard, me I gotta go, for the money” before Bizzle chips in with “Bizzle is back, that’s a warning, third album, back and touring” (thanks for clearing that up.)

You’re not necessarily taken a-back by the acute cleverness we’ve come to expect from Lethal Bizzle despite the tight rapping, synthetic horn section and kicking break beats the track rarely veers from its verse-chorus loop leaving your imagination with a job to do.
Bound for chart success and dance floor grooves.

Released June 29th on Lethal Bizzle Records through Search and Destroy.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Blabbermouth - I Return

New kid on the block, Blabbermouth, aka Steve Thompson has returned with new single and as it's written from the perspective of a ghost it seems there is ominous news. "And so I've returned, back from the dead, but it aint the same, got no fingers, no brain, I'm just a sad, cold spirit."
Looks like I'm not going to get any good news from this but it's ok, the rain is pounding from the now morose looking skies to make it a fitting soundtrack.
It's sullen stuff but makes you feel better about your own life as Thompson slowly croons sweetly to the sound of his lone guitar making a case for his so-called war on the mediocrity of the acoustic world by arming himself with the only things he really needs: a guitar and a melody, good ones mind.
With B-side, Death of a Songwriter, carrying on in the same vein and both tracks taken from his forthcoming EP which narrates the life and death of a famous musician, it might well be an interesting buy.
Released June 19th

Johnny Foreigner - Feels Like Summer

Birmingham trio Johnny Foreigner are back for the summer with new album and a host of festival slots.
It’s fair to say this taster from their forthcoming album has about as much musical credibility as an infant school orchestra and they’re pretty much grasping at straws throughout.
Their concoction of teen ranting and disjointed punk sensibilities goes on approximately one minute and fifty three seconds too long and the constant “SUM SUMMER SUM SUMMER” makes you wish for the return of rain clouds and the infamous Jack Frost.
The type of tune that will only grace the beaches of New Quay where kids in skinny jeans paint each others faces because they’re ‘out there’ and ‘forward thinking’ but in reality, this song and the moronic facade these kids sport will be washed up and forgotten sooner rather than later.
Released June 22.

Eels - Hombre Lobo

It feels like a while since we’ve heard from E.
Mark Everett, leader of Eels has been busy.
While we haven’t received a new studio effort in four years to follow up Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, there have been other projects keeping Everett active.
Since the release of sultry and quite brilliant Blinking Lights E has written and released his autobiography, Things the Grandchildren Should Know (a compelling read), released live album Eels with Strings along with a best of, Essential Eels 96-06 and Useless Trinkets, a collection of B-sides and rarities. On top of this E collaborated with the BBC to produce the multi-award winning Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, a documentary about his quantum physicist father Hugh Everett III.
So it’s not as if we’ve been starved of gruff, bearded melancholy but now E is back to doing what he does best.
Hombre Lobo sees a progression from the Dog Faced Boy we met in 2001 release Souljacker: “I was thinking what happens when the young Dog Faced Boy grows up. He tries to function in society but he can’t get past the fact he’s likened to an animal,” says E.
These so called 12 songs of desire are yet another step forward for Eels.
It’s opened with Prizefighter, a stomping track that pounds simply along to E’s vocals which remain as charming as ever: “Yeah I’ve been through a lot and you can’t scare me.”
It’s more upbeat and has some menace. It’s far away from the sad, autobiographical effort that was Blinking Lights which was surrounded by abundant string arrangements and melodies. Tremendous Dynamite is a retro chug, bluesy enough to knock Jack White off his mantle as E screams: “I am el Hombre Lobo” (I am a wolf man) and he is joined for a small moment by his dog/studio mate through a rampant romp of beats and licks.
It’s gripping and E hasn’t shied away from his softer, tranquil drawl either as his raw animal desire is shifted into expressive ballads with songs such as My Timing is Off (“Believe it or not, we don’t have a choice in matters of the heart, just gotta be brave enough to love and let yourself be loved”), In My Dreams and That Look You Give That Guy.
Allied by dark moments in preceding single, Fresh Blood, where instinct overtakes the charismatic front man as he lets out blood curdling howls to an atmospheric back drop, it’s plain to see that the American werewolf is back with a vengeance.