Monday, November 27, 2006

Grant McLennan: Solo

Grant McLennan was the founder and co-writer of the great Go-Betweens, the australian rock band that I am so fond of (if you've already been on this blog you possibly know this already...and I promise I am going to re-post soon the Botany Sessions too), he died last May and I am not yet able to consider him gone. I'll never hear anything from him or from his band (I may sound selfish, but, well, I don't mean it, I simply got in love with their songs in the couple of years prior his death... and probably many of you know how it feels when you get attached to a band and, after a while you realise it is not just one more band that you happen to listen to, but it is your band. And that's it: you're a fan. And you want to know more, you want to have more from them, and you look forward for the next single, the next CD... That's what happened to me with The Go-Betweens: they became my band, but I was too late: I've never had the chance to wait for their new album to come out. I will never feel that expectation and that's bad (and yeah, here I may be sounding really selfish, I know), too bad. But at least I got the chance to see them live once -about an year ago these days- and everytime my mind goes back to that concert (or when I watch their That stiped sunlight sound DVD) I get very sentimental about it, and about what they have meant to me (and maybe about music in general: one of the cons of this internet-era is that it gets harder and harder to be so involved in ONE band, or ONE artist, or whatever...or am I simply getting old? Dunno).
So forgive all of this fuss and let me just say that Grant McLennan also wrote 4 solo albums, and if you like the GB you should go try listen to some of his solo releases, maybe starting with this collection of songs I have picked. I don't know if this is his "Best of", it may as well be only my "best of" his work, but I still hope you find something in it something that can be of some use to you.
(If any of you is interested, I have took a selection of the songs he wrote in the Go-Betweens: nothing new, just something out of the curiosity of listening to his songs with GB without their counterpart -the Robert Forster's ones).

Grant McLennan Solo

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Grizzly Bear: Yellow House

Grizzly bear is the alias for Edward Droste, a Brooklyn-born guy, who wrote and recorded his first album last year on his own in his bedroom and is now back, but he is now back with a full band and with an outstanding LP, this Yellow House, that has had all the best production it deserves.
It is hard to describe this muisic because there are plenty of influences in there butI don't think I'd be mistaken if I say that The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds is one of them (though this is in no way a happy-go-lucky kind of LP, it is more a matter of complexity of both writing and arrangements), along with something from the so-called freak folk...except that this the music's feeling is more subtle, and in saying so I mean that all the extravaganzas you can find in it are not mere divertissements but something meaningful to the idea and the building of the LP (as it was for Pet sounds).
Anyway, you'll listen to arcs, soft acoustic guitar (and banjo) arpeggios, woodwinds, accordion, and choirs modulating tunes from outer space...and it is quite as good as it can get with all this this stuff altogether.

Want to know more about it?

See their myspace page
Or Yellow House's review (8.7, by the way) @ Pitchfork
Or Wiki.

Yellow House

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Music on streaming

Noticed the music on streaming on the right?
Hope you appreciate it!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Michael Nyman: Gattaca OST

Today's post is Michale Nyman's beautiful soundtrack to Gattaca, the 1997 movie by Andrew Niccol performed by Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman: a collection of lyric minimalistic pieces of music from one of the greatest living composers. Many know him because of his work on Jane Campion's The Piano but I find this just as good, and anyway a very heartfelt composition.
I hope you give it a try (and maybe go buy the CD if you can).


Saturday, November 11, 2006

XTC: Skyrlarking

Skyrlarking is probably XTC's most famous LP, mostly because of the odd hit Dear god, but this is one of the casef where fame (I'd go with fame, and not success because XTC have never had much of this..) and artistic accomplishment meet. Stranger is that XTC have never really made it: they are a hell of a pop band (there are plenty of new and old bands that wouldi die to be half as good in writing songs as Andy Partridge is), and got very influential over the years: my mind goes to first Blur, but also these last Belle and Sebastian (or not? I would say so).
Anyway, Skylarking may be considered by some as their finest work also because of an over the top production by...Todd Rundgren (yeah, it's him), although Partridge did not really get along with him (meaning they must have had more than a fight during the recording, and over the decision on the tracklist as well), but still the collaboration gave birth to this beatiful child. You just need to listen to it: best british pop after The Beatles? Or something like it.
One more thing: Dear God was originally not included on the LP, but after its success it became part of every Skylarking reissue. And how many atheist hits do you know? See:

Dear God,
hope you got the letter, and...
I pray you can make it better down here.
I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer
but all the people that you made in your image, see
them starving on their feet 'cause they don't get
enough to eat from God, I can't believe in you

Dear God, sorry to disturb you, but... I feel that I should be heard
loud and clear. We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
and all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting
in the street 'cause they can't make opinions meet about God,
I can't believe in you

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue? Did you make
mankind after we made you? And the devil too!

Dear God, don't know if you noticed, but... your name is on
a lot of quotes in this book, and us crazy humans wrote it, you
should take a look, and all the people that you made in your
image still believing that junk is true. Well I know it ain't, and
so do you, dear God, I can't believe in I don't believe in

I won't believe in heaven and hell. No saints, no sinners, no
devil as well. No pearly gates, no thorny crown. You're always
letting us humans down. The wars you bring, the babes you
drown. Those lost at sea and never found, and it's the same the
whole world 'round. The hurt I see helps to compound that
Father, Son and Holy Ghost is just somebody's unholy hoax,
and if you're up there you'd perceive that my heart's here upon
my sleeve. If there's one thing I don't believe in

it's you... Dear God.

For more:
XTC on Wiki


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Billy Bragg: Talking with the taxman about poetry

Today I am posting one of my fave albums ever: Billy Bragg's Talking with the taxman about poetry, an album I can't get off of my iPod, no matter how few space I have when I want to put new stuff in it..
Talking Bragg's third effort, a more accomplished one after his first couple of LPs which were kind of raw, and it is so also (if not mostly) because of the splendid work on guitars by the five stars session man (and more importantly ex Smiths) Jonny Marr: listen to what he does in songs as Ideology or the opening track. I listen in awe every time (to me, he is one of the most underrated guitarists, and if he is so he probably is because he is not the typical guitar hero like, say, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton; still he is by far one of the best rythm guitarist of the history of rock).
Anyway, on Talking with...Bragg gets the best out of his music tastes and inluences: The Clash on Help save the youth of america (it could be an outtake from Sandista!...but a very good one, indeed), and so with Bob Dylan on Ideology (doesn't the melody of the verse remind you of some Dylan songs? I can't remember which, but I am quite certain), but, all of these obvious references apart, what is important is the quality of the record:songs where both music and words are on the same level (and it was not so on his previous SO-much-agit prop songs), with beautiful lyrics full of wit and politics (though sometimes there is a little bit too much propaganda in it).
Moreover there are realy few people who are able to be as funny and at athe same time socially aware as Billy Bragg is on this LP. I haven't convinced you? Check this.

Greetings To The New Brunette (Shirley)


it's quite exciting to be sleeping here in this new room
you're my reason to get out of bed before noon
you know when we sat out on the fire escape talking
what did you say about running before we were walking
Sometimes when we're as close as this
It's like we're in a dream
How can you lie there and think of England
When you don't even know who's in the team
your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle
we are joined in the ideological cuddle
I'm celebrating my love for you
With a pint of beer and a new tattoo
And if you haven't noticed yet
I'm more impressionable when my cement is wet
Politics and pregnancy
Are debated as we empty our glasses
And how I love those evening classes
you really know how to make a young man angry
can we get through the night without mentioning family
The people from your church agree
It's not much of a career
Trying the handles of parked cars
Whoops, there goes another year
Whoops, there goes another pint of beer
Here we are in our summer years
Living on icecream and chocolate kisses
Would the leaves fall from the trees
If I was your old man and you were my missus
give my greetings to the new brunette.

Talking with the taxman about poetry (320k)

Friday, November 03, 2006

VA: Rainy Day

Here I am, back after a while, with a very rare 1983 record: Rainy Day, a brief compilation with cover versions of alternative classics (and not) played by members of the Paisley Underground like: The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs, Game Theory's Michael Quercio, Dream Syndicate's Kendra Smith, and Rain Parade's David Roback.
I invite all of you who love this rock scene to get it, also because this disc is really hard to find (I do not know if someone has edited it after Rough Trade did in 1984..but I have serious doubts about it), and because...well, take a loot at the tracklist:

1. I'll Keep It With Mine (Dylan)
2. John Riley (Gibson/Neff/Belamonte)
3. Flying On The Ground Is Wrong (Young)
4. Sloop John B. (traditional)
5. Soon Be Home (Townshend)
6. Holocaust (Chilton)
7. On The Way Home (Young)
8. I'll Be Your Mirror (Reed)
9. Rainy Day, Dream Away (Hendrix)

Rainy Day