jump to navigation

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… きのこ帝国 Kinoko Teikoku August 1, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
add a comment

I recently did a ‘This Weekend’ on Japanese Shoegazing Bands. One band in particular have stood out for me and that is きのこ帝国 pronounced “Kinoko Teikoku” which I gather translates as Mushroom Kingdom. The bands website.
They have been around since 2007 and have released a number of albums and EPs. Well worth a listen.
Theres a piece on them here

Translates as ‘Sea and Bouquets’ Video with a translation of the song


This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Latin Quarter July 25, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
add a comment

It’s curious, in the 1980s, that great flowering of reaction both in the UK and the US, there were no end of politically inflected pop groups and artists. It’s a near enough endless list and the curious lack of similar groups with such a significant profile during the contemporary period has often been noted.

But that’s another day’s work. Sam here in his guest post covered an enormous number of them. And mentioned by Sam was Latin Quarter. Their album, Modern Times, thirty years old this year, is for all the airiness of the compositions and a very characteristic 1980s perkiness an oddly claustrophobic experience to listen to in its entirety. It is perhaps that there is a melancholia that ultimately begins to permeate the songs – driven by the lyrics.

But where is the surprise. Founder members Mike Jones and Steve Skaith were both members of Big Flame (see here in the Left Archive). And Jones is quoted on their Wiki page as saying that ‘Modern Times’ was ‘a veritable manifesto’ of Big Flame’s views. I don’t know if this is me, but I seem to hear an odd empathy in some of the lyrics, a recognition of the fear that lies at the heart of much of reaction. But there was no compromise with that reaction.

None of this would work if the songs themselves weren’t well written melodic pop. But they are. Sometimes lugubrious, it has to be admitted, but never overly worthy. A bit of folk, some reggae, rock and pop are all part of the mix. No Ordinary Return, or Radio Africa, or America for Beginners are all catchy as hell. And I kind of like the less feted tracks like Seaport September or New Millionaires which are admirably snarky.

It’s almost entertaining how synth pop so many of them are – Toulouse – with a fantastic lead female half-spoken vocal wouldn’t be out of place on a Heaven 17 album (another group who could be remarkably political when the mood took them). There aren’t many songs I can think of that have a chorus that starts so directly as ‘You’ve had the OAS, you’ve had the CGT…’ (this by the way is criticised on the Allmusic review as positioning them too much as of their time – well, not so sure about that now). In a way it’s surprising they weren’t bigger, because one feels – particularly with a track like New Millionaires – that only a very minor tweak could see them setting the controls for the heart of the mainstream. I’m surely not the only one who can hear late period Genesis or even, at a stretch, Toto or – gulp, for this is not necessarily a good thing, Starship in there. And perhaps that smoothness is off-putting to some, though I’ve always had a liking for bands that danced up to the line of out and out commercialism without tripping across it. But Latin Quarter’s grit is in the lyrics, not in the music.

Although there are female led tracks more would be better, not least because of the brilliance of the female vocals from Yona Dunsford and Carol Douet – both lead and backing – throughout.

I never heard the other albums, in large part because like some other groups that I loved then and subsequently I was concerned that if they weren’t as good they wouldn’t measure up. They’ve released albums more recently having reformed and I’d be interested what they’re like if anyone has heard them.

America for Beginners

Radio Africa (Live on Top of the Pops)

Toulouse

No Rope As Long As Time

New Millionaires

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Some Japanese Shoegazing Bands July 18, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
1 comment so far

Was listening to some Slowdive recently on Youtube and just clicked on another Slowdive song and went back to what I was doing…. I liked the music but hadn’t heard it before so checked what album it was. It wasn’t Slowdive but a band called ‘Pastel Blue’.
I noticed that it had been posted on a Youtube channel called ‘Japanese Shoegaze’. It turns out that whilst shoegazing went out of fashion in the mid 90’s here there has been a dedicated Shoegazing musical genre in Japan ever since producing loads of excellent music. From further research I gather that My Bloody Valentine are revered in Japan. Theres quite a good piece on Japanese Shoegaze and MVB here.
There was an album of MBV covers called “Yellow Loveless” featuring Japanese bands released in 2013.
Some of the youtube clips have links to download the albums in the comments. I’ve found myself listening to them over the past few weeks. Don’t understand much Japanese but the music is great.

The “Yellow Loveless” album

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to Ex Hex July 11, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to..., Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

This was recommended to me with a sardonic ‘bet this’ll be your new favourite band’.

Ex Hex, newish project of Helium and Wild Flag (along with two thirds of Sleater Kinney) alumini Mary Timony and with her comrades Betsy Wright and Laura Harris contenders for coolest women in rock ever.

The music? Imagine Teenage Fanclub, Suzi Quatro, Television, the Flamin Grooves jamming together, with the Only Ones sitting in from time to time. Throw in a hint of New Wave – actually more than a hint, a touch of Roxy on the vocals here and there. And you’re almost there. Is that the Cars – or more recently Denim in the background? Could be.

Cool but not detached vocals, pulsing bass lines, punchy percussion and guitar that is rock without being metal. It’s oddly familiar to those of us who grew up listening to music in the late 70s and early 1980s. Melodic, catchy, streamlined… distinctly different from the angularity of Wild Flag but still infused with the same energy.

Stand out tracks? Well, them all as it happens, but War Paint has a brilliant throwaway riff whose essential simplicity masks its efficacy – and raises questions as to why it wasn’t written earlier. Radio On – that title alone! – is perfect, a track that Teenage Fanclub could have written but didn’t. New Kid with its referencing through the lyrics and the music of an near faux mythic hinterland of rock.

Waterfall…chugging along.  Everywhere with it’s intriguing lyrics. And so it is with them all.

Needless to say they’re critically regarded but rightly so. It’s not simple reappropriation, nor is it parody. It’s just… a classic – and complete with an ‘Outro’ track… Favourite new guitar band? Yep.

Radio On

War Paint

Waterfall

New Kid

How You Got that Girl (Live)

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening To… Tom T. Hall July 4, 2015

Posted by yourcousin in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
4 comments

A very welcome and given it’s the 4th of July appropriate guest post from YourCousin.

One can’t begrudge success. And classic country acts who have a certain cross over appeal are as legitimate as anyone else. But there comes a time when the cross over appeal becomes cooption. I would put Johnny Cash into that category. I remember where I was when both June Carter and Johnny Cash died, the exact moment and location. He is understandably a bigger than life icon, but when Jay Z and Jonny Depp, and Owen Wilson show up in the your music videos well it should give one pause (I mean he’s dead so it’s not his fault, but still). So any more when someone asks me who my favorite country musician is I always say Tom T. Hall. If they say, “who?” then I get the chance to play a song or two for and if they already know then they get extra brownie points. A songwriter whose influence was felt by other artists rather than by the public at large, I always considered him a good journeyman song writer. Someone who approaches the artistic process as a craft,
with skill and a matter of factness which some of the the more “artistically inclined” folks may not always have. For a better take I would direct folks to this article from The Guardian.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… The Wailers June 27, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
add a comment

Went to The Script last Weekend in Croke Park… The Script were good , that Pharrell Williams was woeful and the highlight of the day were The Wailers. I hadn’t realised that they were playing!
I suppose they are almost a tribute act at this stage but what a repertoire they have to choose from. Yes no Bob Marley but still a brilliant sound and great songs.
Was amused in the intro to “Get Up, Stand Up” the leader singer Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin was talking about Revolution with his arm up in the air clenched fist in a Black Power style salute…. a lot of the crowd seemed bemused at the gesture.
It’s very hard not to enjoy songs like ‘One Love’ , ‘No Woman No Cry’ and so on. They really are classics. It also left me wondering how much better it would have been to see Bob Marley and The Wailers in their prime.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… the Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat June 20, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
add a comment

It had been a while since I listened to Beauty and the Beat by the Go-Go’s. At least three or four years. And before that probably a decade or so. I bought this first in Macs in the Georges Street Arcade in or around 1984 and never regretted it. But what struck me was just how good it remained.

There was, for all that it was new wave pop, a punky snarl in amongst the 1950s girl group stylings and the surf guitars – that curious mixture of looking simultaneously forward and back is very 1982, isn’t it? It’s in the metronomic beats behind some of the songs, the sheer power of the drums (most un-1950s on the backing to the chorus on How Much More), the restrained but not muted guitars, the ever so slightly off kilter and sometimes melancholic approach to the vocals and the angular arrangements.

Read any of the accounts of west coast punk and it can be surprising just how high profile and well-regarded the Go-Go’s were by the most unlikely of peers. They were part of the scene and though there was a sense amongst some that they were shifting from it there was surprisingly little rancour directed at them. Half a year in the UK in 1980 clearly altered their trajectory yet further – not least due to the success of ‘We Got the Beat’ which even in demo version became a hit there. A deal with IRS followed and with that their first album, the aforementioned Beauty and the Beat.

Allmusic suggests that this album was one of a number that brought new wave in the US to a wider audience. it’s very possible for it is quite simply full of really well arranged and composed songs. Our Lips Are Sealed is rightly a classic – and co-composed with Terry Hall – all chugging guitars, as is Tonite, This Town and We Got the Beat but there is real pleasure in the other less well known tracks.

I’ve read some note that early REM sounds not unlike this, and you know, it’s not that much of a stretch. There’s a jangling quality to the guitars and the arrangements. Both groups were expanding the space that post-punk operated in, both in an odd way reaching back to pop albeit in unexpected directions.

I remember buying Vacation, its successor, at more or less the same time and being a little disappointed. There the formula had been smoothed out, the melodies a little less distinct, and a sense that while the textural aspects were all there somehow it was a bit lacking. And yet that album too has its moments. Later there were breakups, solo careers, sort of kind of bids for stardom and so on, and a sense that they had become even more commercial. They have however reformed numerous times and are still gigging.

And this, this is a great album and its familiarity – perhaps over familiarity at certain points – is no reason to ignore that fact. Brilliantly ironic post-punk cover too.

Our Lips Are Sealed

We’ve Got the Beat

How Much More

Tonight

This Town

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening… Slowdive June 13, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
1 comment so far

Was out for a pint recently with a friend who was telling me he had been to see Ride in London a few weeks ago. Ride were reportedly amazing…. we got talking about shoegazing bands from that era….. Slowdive came up and it turns out that after almost 20 years they had reformed last year.
They are a band that I’ve listened to since the early nineties, lovely guitar, Rachel Goswells beautiful voice. Some beautiful slow tunes and atmospheric ones too.A host of EPs and three albums followed. They broke up in 1995 and some members reformed as the wonderful Mojave 3 and reformed last year.
As an aside I bought The Drays album yesterday. The Drays being the band that ex Star of Heaven Stephen Ryan is with now. From the couple of listens I’ve had it’s excellent. It’s funny but I think its the first album in 20 years that I’ve been so eager to get that I’ve bought it on the day of release.

This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… music for early Summer June 6, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
add a comment

Is June early Summer or late Spring? Given how cool the weather has been it’s easy to make a case for the latter. But anyhow, here’s some tracks I’ve been listening to recently that I really like.

Starting with a genuine feel good Summer track from French outfit the Penelope[s]. I always liked their first album from the 2000s which straddled a sort of new wave/post punk/electronic/pop area that was a lot harder edged, for the most part, than their last album from a few years back from which this track is taken. Kind of like both approaches.

The Penelope[s] – Summer Life

Keeping that mood what of this from 1960s and early 70s US group Blue Cheer – not a very well known name this side of the Atlantic, but on their first two albums responsible for something very like proto-metal.

Blue Cheer – Summer Time Blues

Was never much of a fan of Babes in Toyland back in the day, but grown to quite like their raucous punk/metal/near grunge clatter as time has passed. So here’s a blast from their earliest years, Dust Cake Boy – 1989 and for those who appreciate this good news in that they reformed earlier in the year (as by the way have the indomitable L7).

Babes in Toyland – Dust Cake Boy

And speaking of things metallic. Good to see US boogie revivalists Endless Boogie (dealt with in this slot all those years back) just keep on keeping on.

Endless Boogie – On Cryology

While we’re on the subject of the late 1960s been listening to this crew too quite a bit recently. Here’s all ten minutes of part of their contribution to Woodstock and what is something of a classic.

Canned Heat – On the Road Again (Woodstock)

Here’s Blue in Heaven’s Across My Heart which for my sins I only heard for the first time this last month. I’d been listening to All the Gods Men and Explicit Material plus some of the Fanning Sessions and an RTÉ live broadcast that myself and Alastair – once of this parish – were at in 1986 or so. And then I went looking for their successor group, Blue Angels material online, with no success, but then realised that there was still some material I hadn’t heard including the above single. I’m still convinced that they were one of the few really good Irish groups of that mid to late 1980s period. Across My Heart is just such a great immediate song that I’m amazed it doesn’t have a wider recognition. This by the by was produced by one Martin Hannett.

Across My Heart – Blue in Heaven

Meanwhile from Wire, a track from their album released a little earlier this year, which is oddly appropriate. I’m hearing mixed reports of the Fall’s latest album which deals with much the same subject matter but Wire manage to have a light touch in relation to all things tech. Though they would with that name they’ve got, wouldn’t they?

Wire – Blogging

There’s been an odd little Nordic krautrock/pop/electronic scene, though perhaps that’s too grand a word for what is a few bands making music with some commonalities, across the last decade or so. Silverbullitt, 121 Days and here is Audionom. I like them all but this is particularly good I think.

Audionom – Kristell

And here some electronica. Straight from the Warp label and an EP track. Mighty fine.

Clark – Silver Sun

And here’s something a bit popper from a former member of Mind.In.A.Box, the not exactly brilliantly named Thyx… and Robots Don’t Lie.

Thyx Robots Don’t Lie

This is amazing. It reminds me of early to mid-period Black Dog, Palmbomen II and a track drawn from the latest album – an album which has a fairly entertaining concept at its core. No prizes for those who can suss it out without going looking for what it is. Think I might do a longer This Weekend on this one.

Palmbomen II Lorraine Kelleher

I’ve no excuse of this, I’m a real sucker for European synthpop/futurepop and EBM, and this hits all those categories in turn. Oddly enough I’m no fan of Depeche Mode, and the vocals are reminiscent of same, but clearly not too much so.

Code 64 S.O.L.

Loved the song Vine by Cardiacs spin-off, Spratley Japs, and here’s Heavy Lamb containing some of the members of the SJs at a benefit for Tim Smith from a few weeks ago playing just that.

Heavy Lamb play Spratley Japs ‘Vine’.

I tuned in to John Kelly for the first time in probably years in the last week or so and heard a track by this crew and got to admit I really like it – sufficiently so to go exploring. Here’s another piece by them which is mighty good.

Marcin Wasilewski Trio & Joakim Milder – Sudovian Dance

And to leave with another sunny track, always quite liked Best Coast, not least for their fetishism of…er… the west coast. And this from their latest album California Nights will do just fine.

California Nights – Best Coast

This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Denis May 30, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
3 comments

For the times that are in it……

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,997 other followers

%d bloggers like this: