Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Well The Tape's Worth Buying

Someone is selling the second best edition of Red Roses For Me on ebay at the moment along with the very good Jordans tape that came with it. You still have a couple of hours if you'd like to own a copy (sadly it's not me selling it!)

You can find it here

Make A Deal With The City

As I may have mentioned before the bands I liked the most who released music on Sarah Records were those who stood out from the majority of other bands on the label. The likes of Even As We Speak, Sugargliders, and, most conspicuously East River Pipe which was one guy, F.M. Cornog, recording his music at home on a small portastudio. Through a series of singles on his own Hell Gate label, which were later re-released by Sarah in the UK, Cornog produced what felt like a collection of short stories of New York/New Jersey life that were sad, reflecting, and slightly dark and grimy. No twee hearts and flowers here, made by fresh-faced college kids, these songs felt like they were made by someone who had actually battled some demons.

After these initial singles East River Pipe produced several fine albums the last being 2001's 'Garbageheads On Endless Stun'. You can also fortunately get all the early releases on a compilation CD 'Shining Hours In A Can' both from Merge Records and iTunes. The two songs today are both found on that album.

UPDATE Just heard from Merge records that a new East River Pipe album 'What Are You On?' will be released in January

Buy East River Pipe releases here

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Nova Scotia

Ultramarine came to most peoples attention with the release of their second, and what is widely regarded as their best, album "Every Man And Woman Is A Star". The album coincided with the interest in ambient house or chill out music, and would often be found alongside the Orb's "Ultraworld" album in the discerning hipsters CD collection. Comparing the two albums I would say Ultramarine's definitely stands the test of time better with a pastoral feel which runs throughout the band's releases. Whereas the Orb were heading for the stars Ultramarine's album featured a cornfield and a huge cloud filled sky. Perfect summer driving music, and having a longtime being deleted the album was reissued in the UK by LTM and in the US by Darla. LTM also released "Companion" featuring various remixes and tracks from singles that appeared around the time of the album and is definitely worth purchasing as well.

Purchase the album in the UK/Europe here

Purchase the album in the US here

Monday, August 29, 2005

Keeping The Curtains Closed

In the late 80's in the UK if you really fortunate at three in the morning one of the then four television networks would host a show devoted to indie/alternative music. One such show, the of which escapes me but lets called it "Loaded", would feature every week a fanzine review, and then play a video by one of thew bands featured in that fanzine. So I duely sent in a copy of Red Roses For Me, and shock horror a couple of weeks later some guy sitting on a park bench was talking about it, telling the world it was pretty much a bog standard indiepop fanzine, featuring a couple of sarah bands and "look it comes apart" as several pages blew away in the wind! "Bastard!" I thought as they went into a Wedding Present video, "Who is this git?" I wanted to know. It turned out the host was one Pat Fish, head honcho of The Jazz Butcher and yes in hindsight he was right about that particular Red Roses.

So at the time I pretty much decided I would hate with a passion anything this Fish character released, or I'd least ignore it. This I did until I heard the band's cover of "Spooky" which was pretty damn cool and at some point I found the two Creation albums released either side of that single; 1988's "Fishcotheque" and 89's "Big Planet, Scary Planet". Both of these albums fitted into the Creation sound of the day with members of The Weather Prophets helping out on the former and fans of that band, The Caretaker Race, and Lloyd Cole & The Commotions would find much to love here. The band were apparently more popular in Europe and even the US then they ever were in the UK and Fish (Pat, not that guy from Marillion) continues to record as The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy to this day. The two songs today are examples of the pop goodness of "Fishcotheque" and if you go to the band's website below you'll find lots of MP3 and links to purchase the CDs that are currently available, sadly "Fishcotheque" not being one of them.

The Jazz Butcher website with places to buy their music can be found right here

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Goodnight NME

So we've reached the last day of delving back into the NME's Ruby Trax compilation album, and to end it all we have three songs that couldn't sound more different. Back to the more obscure on monday.

Marc Almond - Like A Prayer The Detroit-born Queen of pop gets covered here. The superb and highly controversial 1989 number one receives a stylish reworking-with a New Orleans style brass section to boot-by Marc Almond who gives it faith, passion and great crooning bits as befits a singer who has given us breathtaking interpretations of songs by everyone from Jacques Brel to Gene Pitney

Aztec Camera with Andy Fairweather-Low - Half As Nice Here we see history repeating itself. Andy Fairweather-Low, as well as being a successful solo artist, was the lead singer of Amen Corner, who took "Half As Nice" to number one the first time round in 1969. Now he joins up with Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame for a soulful retake on the original. Incidentally, Aztec Camera are also noted for their incredable Lou Reed-style version of Van Halen's classic "Jump".

Billy Bragg - When Will I See You Again? In 1974, the Three Degrees took this to the top spot and Barking's king of the red check shirt recreates the sultry atmosphere of the discotheque in this funky new version. The Three Degrees were Prince Charles' favourite act; it is beleived that Bill-is not

Saturday, August 27, 2005

NME Of The State

Inspiral Carpets - Tainted Love 1981 and electro pop rules the world. Soft Cell take Gloria Jones's top soul song to number one; 11 years later and Marc Almond is lending grandeur to Madonna's "Like A Prayer"; meanwhile "Tainted Love" passes into the hands of Manchester's Inspiral Carpets where the tasteful organ work of Clint Boon and the impassioned voice of Tom Hingley take it to new universes.

Teenage Fanclub - Mr Tambourine Man From 1965, this Bob Dylan song stands as The Byrds' only number one. Now it returns in classic tribute form, gently massaged by the loving hands of Scotland's Teenage Fanclub. Other great moments in the Fannies' repertoire include their delightful lurch through T-Rex's "Life's A Gas" and their self-penned "Kylies Got A Crush On Us".

Blur - Maggie May Rod Stewert's first number one (from 1971) is hammered into the 90s by Colchester's sex gods Blur. Trivia fans may recall that, when Rod and his mates The Faces performed "Maggie May" on Top Of The Pops, the tasteful mandolin solo was performed by DJ John Peel

Friday, August 26, 2005

The NME At The Gates

The House Of Love - Rock Your Baby Written by Howie Casey of KC And The Sunshine band, "Rock Your Baby" was a number one for George McCrae in 1974 and is reckoned to be the first disco record of all time. Here Guy Chadwick and his plangent beat group The House Of Love depart from their usual thrumming alternative rock sound to bring that disco sound screaming into the 1990s.

The Fatima Mansions - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You Number one for 16 weeks in 1991, this song will always give Canada's Bryan Adams a place in the nation's heart. It is also clearly indelibly etched in the heart of The Fatima Mansions' Cathal Coughlan, who turns it inside out and writes all over its entrails in this hypnotic total remake. Cathal too is no stranger to cover versions, having entranced the rock world in the 1980s when in Microdisney with a moving rendition of the theme from Sons and Daughters

Curve - I Feel Love Donna Summer's classic number one from 1977 is still the ultimate Eurodisco record, a maelstrom of electronics and sex. Curve-normally noted for their hypnotic spook rock-take a rare trip to the dancefloor and give a blasting tribute to the genuis of "I Feel Love"'s influentual writer and producer Giorgio Moroder.

The Spastics Society in the UK who benefited from the release of this album in 1992, renamed themselves Scope and you can get information about them, and make a donation here

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Keep Your NME's Closer

The Blue Aeroplanes - Bad Moon Rising Gerard Langley is the rock poet who leads Bristol's Blue Aeroplanes, a band who at one time had 12 members, all of whom insisted on playing guitar. Here more than a few of the Aeroplanes assemble themselves to thoroughly trounce Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 Number one hit in an energetic and heartfelt fashion

Tori Amos - Ring My Bell 1979 and Anita Ward's innuendo-ridden disco hit tops the charts with its rude implications and brilliant "pyooweee!" drum noise. 1992 and Tori Amos-the US chanteuse already noted for her moving piano-only version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"-brings a distinctly rock sensibility to Anita's hit. Versatile stuff pop music eh?

Ride - The Model A 1981 hit for Kraftwerk, this 1977 song is here rendered faithfully by Oxford's Ride who elected to drop their standard glittering guitar stylings and go keyboard crazy. Prehaps Ride will go the whole hog and, like Kraftwerk, release "The Model" in German. We can only wait with baited breath.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The NME Within

A real mixed bag today:

Sinead O'Connor - Secret Love Once a number one for the great Doris Day in 1954. "Secret Love" goes uptempo and brassy in this new version by Sinead O'Connor, herself something of a fan of the classic torch song, wther it be "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Sleeping Beauty or indeed your actual Prince song "Nothing Compares 2 U"

Ned's Atomic Dustbin - I've Never Been To Me Charlene - where is she now? "I've Never Been To Me" was her only hit, a 1979 number one whose thoughtful sentiments and moody melody have by and large been ignored by Ned's Atomic Dustbin, who bring to the song a dance sensibility it had previously lacked. The Neds-normally a scrunching Midlands alternative rock act with two bass guitars-are the only band here named after an episode of The Goon Show. I expected to hate this track but it is one of my favorites on the album, how could I have doubted the mighty Neds??

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Little Red Rooster In their early days The Rolling Stones did so many songs wriiten by other people that their manager Andrew Loog Oldham became confused and announced that the band's version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" was the best song the Stones ever wrote"! "Little Red Rooster was the band's first number one in 1964 a sexually unambiguous take on the Howling Wolf original. Here it is given a new feedback menace by East Kilbride's Jesus And Mary Chain, themselves previously best known covers wise for their bizarre version of Smokey Robinson's "My Girl".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


So I thought I'd also copy the sleevenotes for each of these songs, which as I mentioned are all from the "Ruby Trax" album produced by the NME in 1992 to celebrate the magaizne's 40th anniversary. Profits went to the Spastics Society in the UK, and the album featured favourite NME artists at the time covering number one singles from the previous 40 years. So today we have:

Suede - Brass In Pocket 1979 and The Pretenders have their first number one with the great "Brass In Pocket". Singer Chrissie Hynde is curiously unenthusiastic. "Listen to that woman's voice," she tells NME. "I hate it." Time has, however, proved her wrong. "Brass In Pocket" is a top rock classic, as evidenced by this new version from upcoming emperors of rock Suede-whose Brett Anderson is prehaps fonder of his own voice than Chrisssie was of hers.

Saint Etienne - Stranger In Paradise The only group here named after a minor French football team, Saint Etienne are versatile types, having previously given us a glowing dance remake of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". Now they turn the shimmering dub pop gleam that enhanced Saint Etienne greats like "Join Our Club" and "Nothing Can Stop Us Now" to "Stranger In Paradise", thus joining the company of Tony Bennett's 1955 number one (and versions by Bing Crosby, Eddie Calvert, The Four Aces, and for all we know Dumpy's Rusty Nuts). Is that a reference to Mudhoney right at the end of the song?

Cud - Down Down Status Quo's archetypal boogie was their first number one in 1975 and its version here by Cud, kings of lion pop (who remembers this NME created scene?) is the most original since Dexy's Midnight Runners turned "Marguerita Time" into a waltz. Cud singer Carl brings the hip-swinging spirit of Tom Jones to a track best known for virtually inventing the concept of head-banging.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hulk Is Hulk

Cover versions by NME faves will start tomorrow when I've had a chance to count the ballots on Billy Bragg yes or no. In the meantime feel free to let me know what songs you'd like to hear. In the meantime today we'll delve into the world of New Zealand's premier pop duo The Brunettes. They have recently been touring the US supporting the likes of The Shins and Rilo Kiley, and their blend of 60's girl groups, Jonathan Richman, and wry observational lyrics must have gone over well if the recorded versions are anything to go by. The duo have been together since 1998 and have released three EPs and two albums and although their pop sensibilities have always been there, the more recent releases, the album "Mars Loves Venus" and the EP "When Ice Met Cream" from this year show their sound really developing.

Although their label Lil Chief is based in New Zealand they sell/ship the newer releases from within the US. Today's songs are a song each from their last three CDs

Visit the bands website here

Buy their music here

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yes, We Do Take Requests

I picked up the vinyl box of the NME's Rubytrax compilation yesterday which features a whole bunch of top bands in 1992 covering their favorite number one singles. So what I thought I'd do is give you a list of what's on the albums and you can email me if you have something you'd love to hear. Email me at or post a comment, and over the next week I'll post the most requested songs here.

The choices are:

The Wonder Stuff - Coz I Love You, Billy Bragg - When Will I See You Again? Jesus And Mary Chain - Little Red Rooster, The Mission - Atomic, Fatima Mansions - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Saint Etienne - Stranger In Paradise, Wedding Present - Cumberland Gap, Aztec Camera - (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice, Dannii Mingoue - Show You The Way To Go, Welfare Heroine - Where Do You Go To My Lovely, Blue Aeroplanes - Bad Moon Rising, Senseless Things - Apache, Teenage Fanclub - Mr Tambourine Man

Carter USM - Another Brick In The Wall, Blur - Maggie May, Tears For Fears - Ashes To Ashes, House Of Love - Rock Your Baby, Frank & Walters - I'm A Believer, EMF - Shuddup Your Face, Suede - Brass In Pocket, Tori Amos - Ring My Bell, Kingmaker - Lady Madonna, Marc Almond - Like A Prayer, The Farm - Don't You Want Me, Ned's Atomic Dustbin - I've Never Been To Me, Boy George - My Sweet Lord

Jesus Jones - Voodoo Chile, Bob Geldolf - Sunny Afternoon, Johnny Marr - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Cud - Down Down, The Fall - Legend Of Xanadu, Siinead O'Connor - Secret Love, World Party - World Without Love, Inspiral Carpets - Tainted Love, Elektric Music - Baby Come Back, Ride - The Model, Vic Reeves - Vienna, Tin Machine - Go Now, Curve - I Feel Love, Manic Street Preachers - Suicide Is Painless.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bolivian Adventure

So today we return to Treeball who I mentioned earlier in the week in relation to their contribution to the Endearing Record IPX EP series. After purchasing their two albums, 2002's "The Strawberry Blonde School Of Class" which you can get from iTunes in the US and 2004's "National Treasure" which arrived from Finnland in 4 days!! I can report back and say the IPX EP is but the tip of a vast iceburg of pop goodness. The best thing about their music is that they fully exploit the fact they have two fine vocalists in Nick Triani and Astrid (last name?) and use that relative endangered species in modern pop, the duet, to great efffect. The most relevant recent comparison I can think of is the best moments of the Britta Philips/Dean Wareham album who also mix in shades of The Velvet Underground and The Go-Beetweens. Both of today's songs are from their more recent album, and if you visit their website there are more downloads inlcuding the video to the song "Monkeys"

The band's website resides here

Buy their music from Stupido Shop here

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Stoppit and Tidyup

The rather excellant Gorilla vs Bear blog (found here) featured The Happy Bullets this week, and after hearing the three songs downloadable there, I immediately ordered their most recent album "The Vice And Virtue Ministry" and looked around for some more songs by the band. This new album is their first real band effort, as the earlier album "Blue Skies And Umbrellas" was recorded at home by two of the bandmembers. The new one, from what I've heard, is something fans of The Decemberists and The Shins would love, and also has touches of classsic Kinks and XTC floating around in there as well. Frequent live shows in their homestate of Texas seem to be occuring, and I hope they'll be venturing further afield soon. The songs here today are the title track of the new album, another song from there and "Kerosene Heart" from the first CD. If anyone knows where I can get a copy of this release please let me know.

The band's website can be found here and their home is here

Buy the band's album here

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Lemon Peeler

The Gigolo Aunts are one of those bands that produced a consistantly high standard of album but I never really paid much attention to as the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Fountains Of Wayne always topped my Byrds/Big Star/Power pop chart. In fact the biggest interaction I had with the band were letting them know where Portsmouth's only health food store was when they popped into HMV when they supported The Wonder Stuff in the city. Like many bands though, they had that ONE song, the one they would always be known for and that would end up on lots of movie soundtracks or TV themes. In their case it was "Where I Find My Heaven".

I think the band are no more as vocalist Dave Gibbs recently released an album under the name Kid Lightning, moving in a more Americana direction i noticed with fear that he's been hanging out with Counting Crows, his website also features a Phil Collins cover MP3 if you're interested. Consider yourself warned! He also features on yet another one of the IPX EPs mentioned below which is where this song comes from.

The old Gigolo Aunts website is here

and The Kid Lighning website is here

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pancake Bay Weather Station

So after having the whole weekend to repeatedly play "One Thousand Reasons To Stay...One Reason To Leave" the album by Paper Moon I decided to not delay the inevitable and post a couple more songs by the band today. The band have made an album that has drawn comparisons to the likes of Juliana Hatfield, The Sundays, Ivy, and I would add to that the pop exuberance of Frente! They're currently in the process of recording a new album and judging from the demo versions of these songs posted at their page, it's gonna be even better than their first. Both of today's songs are from their first album which you can buy from endearing reocords at the link below.

Buy the bands releases here

The Band's website can be found here, and more songs can be heard at their page which is here

Friday, August 12, 2005

In A Matter Of Speaking

The Intercontinental Pop Exchange are a series of split CD EPs released by Endearing Records of Canada. A simple concept, get two bands with similar styles to contribute three or four songs (and now also videos!) to a CD, package it in a classy card sleeve with great artwork and details of the bands, seal it in a bag with a cute little badge and Viola! the perfect introduction to some wonderful music. Each of the EPs are well worth getting and as well as being availabe seperately you can now get them in package deals to save yourself a few pennies. I primarily bought the EPs as My Favorie featuring on the most recent (IPX7) but have since discovered a couple of new bands, Paper Moon from Canada and Treeball from Finland, who I'll write a bit more about later.

In the meantime here are just a few of the bands/songs featured so far. From IPX1 are Thr Paperbacks from Winnipeg who to me sound somewhat similar to The Weakerthans, adopting a similar storytelling style of lyric writing. From IPX2 also from Winnipeg are Paper Moon who list influences like That Dog, The Cardigans & Juliana Hatfield, have released one album so far with anothet to hopefully follow soon in early 2006. Treeball hail from Helsinki and were formed by songwriter Nick Triani who used to be in a UK band Supermodel. His new band are big on smokey duets and have released a couple of albums so far, the first of which is on iTunes in the US. Lastly but not leastly the four My Favorite songs included on IPX7 include one new one, a cool remix of "Homeless Club Kids" and a couple of their other songs. You also get two great videos of the band.

The Intercontinental Pop Exchange EPs can be purchased here

Endearing Records main webpage with package deals on the EPs can be found here

The Paperbacks live here

Paper Moon live here

Treeball live here

aaaaannd My Favorite reside here

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Ghost Of David Hyde

After Robert Forster and Grant McLennan split up The Go-Betweens for the first time at the beginning of the 90's, Lindy Morrison and Amanda Brown formed the short lived Cleopatra Wong. The band released two EPs, "Egg" in 92 and "Cleopatra's Lament" the following year. Sadly both releases suffer from being a product of their times in that what could be some great songs are swamped in bad fake strings synth sounds and horrible drum machine production. A couple of songs however sneaked through the net when the producer wasn't looking I guess so that's what we have here for you today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New Day, Fresh Start

Regular viewers may remember my excited anticipation way back at the start of the year for the forthcoming and long awaited debut album by Kicker well it's finally here, and "Wild Mercury Years" doesn't dissapoint. Taking up the baton passed on by their handful of wonderful singles it continues to mine the rich vein of classic guitar pop, but the added introduction of male vocals on some songs bring out memories of the likes of early Lloyd Cole, or The Caretaker Race. The whole album has the quality of a band unconcerned with the task of spotting the latest trend, but concentrating on their pure love of songs from across the musical spectrum. So you'll hear echos of 60's pop, indie guitars, northen soul, and even country. Then in "Local Gentry" you have a Lee and Nancy style duet that each time I hear I decide yep that's my favorite song on the album, and then after the next song it changes again.

The band have recently embraced and here you can read their history and a list of band members that is closing in on The Blue Aeroplanes in its length. Both here and at the band's webpage you can download a whole slew of MP3's including a great song "Paraguay" which missed out on being a single and really should have been and two great acoustic versions of earlier singles.

Download - Kicker - Paraguay

Lots of Kicker MP3's can be found here

The Kicker page can be found here

Get the band's CDs in the US from Darla here

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'll Only Pick A Book For The Way It Looks

If this is the case then "Belle and Sebastian: Just A Modern Rock Story" by Paul Whitelaw would definitely catch my attention with a cover and binding ignoring a shiny slipcover and going for a style where the page edges aren't finished, giving the book the look of something you'd pick up in a musty used bookstore not your local Barnes & Noble.

At first, the idea of a Belle and Sebastian biography seemed slightly strange to me, surely the band haven't done enough to warrant a book? However, once you start reading the book it beecomes apparent they have, it was just that the band have kept the drama and tensions far away from the public, or in this case the NME's, prying eyes. This means that instead of the normal music biography, cobbled together from press releases and magazine clippings, the author, Whitelaw, tells a history of the band gathered from interviews with almost everyone involved inlcuding departed members Stuart David and Isobel Campbell. The repsonses to his questions throughout appear extremely candid and Whitelaw himself, although showing a deep love for the band and their music, is not afraid to criticise them or some of their records. Although at times the band members themselves are their own greatest critics.

The main undercurrent of the book is Stuart Murdoch's relationship with Isobel, which at times led to the band almost breaking up, and his struggle to involve the other band members more while retaining his vision of what the band should do. This is handled very well by Whitelaw who doesn't turn Campbell into a scapegoat for the band's struggles, but allows all the parties to state their case. Filled with pictures the band members have provided, a full discography of releases, radio & TV appearences and all those cover versions they've played (and a handful of typos!!) this is a book most fans of the band will get a wealth of insight from.

To tie in with this today's downloads are two songs from the band's Peel session in 2001 and if you follow the link below to the webpage devoted to the book you'll find the chance to win an iPod along with links to purchase the book itself.

The webpage for the book can be found here