Official Congrats To PJ Harvey On The Mercury Prize

7 Sep

I’d say the Mercury Prize gets maybe one out of three right and even then if you look at their shortlist, they tend to choose the year’s better British records pretty well.

However, score one for the music fans today. Now I’m not saying Adele isn’t a great singer, because if you go back to many rants from 2007/2008, you will recall me saying how great 19 was as an album.

Many of you will have also heard that I kind of hate 21, her new album. First off, I hate albums whose whole tonal message is “Giiiiiirl, my man is so bad to me and yet I looooove him!” (This message is also known as the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack  and every country album by a female artist not named Loretta Lynn.) Here’s a thought, how bout not dating a guy who’s such an asshole. It worked for Tina Turner and she=legend!

My two main problems with the 21 album are in fact that

1)21 has become that album that chicks who know nothing about music rep as an album that PROVES they have good taste in music…

2) There is no Mark Ronson production work…which basically leaves a super talented singer to sing behind spare beats that would make Florence and The Machine blush.(and while I’ve supported Florence for years, she will never be a naturally talented as Adele. In fact after her first single I compared her to our Mercury Prize winner, who we’ll get back to later.) Mark Ronson made the late Winehouse sound even greater, Duffy sound half credible, and Nikka Costa a potential world beater with his funky-nouveau 60’s influenced productions full of sass and brass. If you don’t believe me, you can watch the brilliant Cold Shoulder video…which channels a cool Shirley Bassey vibe instead of being all emo and underproduced.(you can google this because this post really isn’t about her)

Now lets get to the WINNER, who is also  the first two-time winner of the Mercury Prize which is none other than PJ Harvey. For 20 years she’s stomped, rocked, and taken chances all over the musical landscape culminating in this fantastic album. Let England Shake really is the best album of the year for scope, risk, memorable songs, and playing to the artist’s strength. Maybe it’s time for all those PJ haters and those that left the bandwagon post Songs of The City to reappraise what’s really going on in modern times! There’s no doubt that this album ranks among her finest achievements and is THOROUGHLY deserving of the Mercury this year!(It is also worth checking out the video version of the album which is in fact on youtube, it’s a cool achievement.)

PJ Harvey-Written On The Forehead

PJ Harvey-The Words That Maketh Murder

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The Cheerfully Wistful Friday Night Videos

4 Sep

Title says it all.

Los Campesinos-International Tweecore Underground

Sarah Records never meant anything to me! may be one of my favorite tongue in cheek kiss offs ever…Los Camps certainly are still getting it done, even though this is an old one.

The Cardigans-Sick and Tired

How can Spotify not have Life btw?  They need to get on that because rarely has a missing album on there upset me more! Anyway this is when they were all young and pretty and still doing depressing songs with an absurd amount of sunnyness.(Not to mention the hilarity of doing a lounge version of Black Sabbath…)

Marden Hill-Curtain

I think my pal Gosey Wales will appreciate this most, since he might be one of like 5 people in America that actually owned the El Records compilation. This may be the only song Marden Hill did that was good, but hey one is better than none.

Heavenly-Tool

Ok secretly Sarah Records meant a lot to me… One of the best choruses of the 90s…”I’m not sure what’s that’s for, but I’ll use it. This my art now, falling apart now, for looooooooove.”

On Random Play: Bass Drum Of Death-GB City

1 Sep

Simple effective rock and roll. Wheel not reinvented though. No synthesizers appearing=victory and points in its favor. I like the band, it’s a perfect compliment to your already ballooning collection of Japandroid and Wavves albums. I could prattle on, but I’m doin this Christgau style. If you are seriously tired of the current synth-pop badness, you should get it.

Best Track:Heartbreak Kid

yeah yeah i didnt write but there are Friday Night Videos

27 Aug

In an effort to stop being quite so retro, I went to newer videos this week. i.e. ones released in the past couple of years not 20 years ago like last week.

Grizzly Bear-Knife

I like the song. Video is actually better. This was back before everyone and their dog thought this band was good(which they are mind you)

Bjork-Triumph of The Heart

I doubt Bjork’s ever made a bad video actually. Shockingly I actually like this album now, when it was first released I was kind of hoping for the big dance Post style album that we had been waiting years for.(which we finally got when Volta was released after this album) However, Medulla is the kind of interesting music that people dont attempt to make much of the time and besides dancing cats=wins.

St. Vincent-Cruel

Hey there’s a new St. Vincent video, stylish and strange per usual. Also uses more of that cool funky synthness she’s been using. Coooool solo as well

 

Hmm I’m Lazy so Sunday Sunday Sunday Friday Night Videos

22 Aug

Yes I’ve been lazy/at assorted events none of which involved music all of which involved birthdays so I’m posting videos nooooow. I will actually do some type of article at some point, I swear, however good videos tend to be better than my prattle.

Plastics are an amazing band who have a shambolic and frustrating catalog that involves recordings, re-recordings, re-releases, all of which are hard as bollocks to find.(even in the expanse of the internets it has proven hard to complete my collection of their albums.) Anyway they kind of sound like a Japanese version of Devo with a dash of Talking Heads thrown in. Yes there are complete versions of this song on youtube, I just think that the band looks and sound their best in the film Downtown 81(which stars my fav Jean-Michel Basquiat)

Speaking of badass Japanese new wave bands, there isn’t one better than Yellow Magic Orchestra.Future composing heavy Ryuichi Sakamoto and company certainly made an array of great and influential synth pop jams and quickly became megastars in their native land. I could go on and on about them, but I will keep it short and say they are worthy of inclusion in your collection.

Cool 8 minute live frenzy of their classic Solid State Survivor era live lineup doing singles Rydeen and Technopolis

Of course I kind of had to include the sheer absurdity of the fact that this band actually ended up performing on Soul Train… I mean seriously, even Kraftwerk didsn’t achieve that.

JAPANESE GENTLEMEN STAND UP PLEASE!

But while they didn’t end up on Soul Train, Kraftwerk essentially accomplished everything else. I’m sure I don’t need to intro them, so I won’t.(if you need a refresher that’s what Wikipedia is for) However, the video is a cool historical performance of Kraftwerk version 1. In fact I’ve heard this is the first live appearance of drummer/drum machinist Wolfgang Flur with the band. Notice they look like odd hippies instead of robots, notice that they are performing a song that translates as Dancemusic, and notice just how far ahead of time this song was.(this is pre Autobahn btw, and exists on one of those albums that Kraftwerk seem to have disavowed)

Mumford Who? Laura Marling returns to own your soul

15 Aug

Laura Marling is fetching and blonde again, she also has a new album scheduled for September release. Sophia is the first single and here is its recently released video.(which is quite stunning actually)  I’m torn as to whether this album, the new St. Vincent, or the new Weezy is the most anticipated album of the 2011 half 2.

Friday Night Videos-Live Edition

13 Aug

Ok so P.I.L. is miming, but isn’t that kind of why the sheer chaos of this afternoon event is so great? And the instrument switch with Wobble ending up on drums is amazing.

Jagger says that performing after James Brown on the TAMI Show was the worst decision they ever made. Yes Mr. Dynamite certainly owned the evening, the performance is legendary for a reason, however the Stones actually play pretty well. I actually think it’s interesting to see an early era Stones at the height of the power with an absurdly energetic crowd. And they play pretty well too.

Gary Numan is so disaffected he doesn’t need to leave a constructivist version of an elderly scooter. From the excellent and finally kind of back in print Post-Punk document Urgh A Music War(Warner Archive will make one on special order…I believe). Arguably my fav moment from a film PACKED with great bands.

not so Friday Night Videos:The all Juliana Hatfield edition

4 Aug

I had an intro and stuff, but realistically I just like Juliana Hatfield and always felt she was underrated. In fact time has been kind to her albums, far removed from the Juliana clones who quickly overran the 90’s airwaves and blocked her from the absurd superstardom she rightfully deserved.

Blake Babies- Out There

 

Juliana Hatfield Three-My Sister

 

Juliana Hatfield-Universal Heartbeat

 

Juliana Hatfield-The End Of War

Revisiting:Nirvana Unplugged

28 Jul

On Spotify I have been hearing a smattering of tunes all of which pop up from random instincts within my brain, such is the pain and pleasure of having an immense database of music at your disposal. At 4am I found myself listening to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album for the first time in years.(which yes of course I own, but Spotify makes it easy to just pull stuff up!) I’m not sure why it’s been so long, it’s not that I haven’t heard Nirvana, maybe I just felt that it had been superseded by the recent release of their legendary set at the Reading festival. I mean that album IS Nirvana personified. Three chords at their loudest, all of the hits up to that point, charismatic perilous vocals by Kurt Cobain, and the energy of a nuclear crowd and a band hungry to prove themselves. This one Reading album makes up for the array of posthumously assembled compilations and box sets and is a necessary addition to any collection of Nirvana and rock and roll in general.
However what about the first posthumous release, Unplugged? I mean obviously everyone saw the special on loop after Cobain’s unfortunate suicide and they released 4 or 5 singles/videos of the performance. Everyone’s certainly heard the album, but listening to it again I never realized how jarring this album actually is. By jarring I don’t mean the typical spiraling cacophony of the band’s sound, it’s more about the choices made by the band itself for this special.
For example, looking at the actual album and program, there are indeed Cobain originals such as Something In The Way, About A Girl, Come As You Are, but there is a deliberate lack of hits on the album. No Heart Shaped Box? No Smells Like Teen Spirit? No Lithium? For the Nirvana newbie this album gives no impression of what the band really embodied…
And yet it is the immense(in stature and number) array of covers that have caused this album to cast a long shadow over the whole band’s discography. Where Did You Sleep Last Night(In The Pines), Man Who Sold The World, a troika of songs by the Meat Puppets all stand as monuments to the brilliance of Kurt Cobain the artist, singer and rock star. It takes balls to say, we’re doing a Lead Belly song, fuck doing another performance of Serve The Servants. Or In Bloom, it could sound good on acoustic, but not as awesome as Lake Of Fire! It’s a total rock star move that had to have the producers freaking out and only adds to the band’s legend.
Of course if you remember this performance well, you’ll notice how I haven’t mention the band’s cover of The Vaselines’ Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam. Now I love the Vaselines original, but hearing the Nirvana cover of this song again shook me. I’ve heard it hundreds of times since 1994, but yet it shook me up. Maybe it had just been so long since I had heard it, but it drove me to find the original performance on youtube to remember how it all really went down, how they looked. I hadn’t done it with any of the other songs, but this one I needed to see.
There was Kurt Cobain aged 26, bleached and comfortable in a swiveling office chair guitar slung over his lap. His face both pained and comfortable with his reading of the dour song. He never had a chance to look any different, he was gone in less than a year.
Krist Novoselic is on accordion, standing like a giant in galoshes over the rest of the seated band, using an instrument that wouldn’t be caught dead in the hands of the other bands of the era. A lady cellist adds to the gloom off to the side. Pat Smear is there too, a punk legend turned hired hand, sits with his brightly colored guitar keeping the rhythm intact.
Then hiding in the back, impending rock megastar, Dave Grohl looking younger than I ever remembered him being, actually plays guitar on Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam. I didn’t remember it being that way at all, especially with the muted rhythm that appears throughout the song, I never realized he just kind of pulled off a kind of simplified one man band for this song.
The performance of the song itself is still perfect and moving of course, Nirvana always added an earnestness that was often missing from The Vaselines tongue in cheek anthems.
Sitting there watching them do the song, after a few spins on Spotify to reunderstand why it’s so good, I realized I haven’t really WATCHED the band in years. I mean in my head I think of Nirvana and I remember how they made me feel and why I liked them and what they meant to me as I really started my love affair with music. (I was in 8th grade when Cobain killed himself) But, I’m now older than Kurt was in that performance and by attempting to remove the lens of the band’s legacy and cultural influence, and everything that was soon to happen, I saw the whole band differently. I mean the Reading album may showcase Nirvana at the height of their power, but this Unplugged performance shows them with an innocence and sincerity. Everyone looks so young, despite the stardom and the burdens and the expectations, the covers almost seem freeing almost fun away from some of the hyperpersonal lyrics of the typical band material. In that 4 minutes, Novoselic cracks a smile, Grohl almost rushes to make sure he doesn’t fuck up, and Cobain almost seems determined to show you that yeah he really does know what he’s doing and he’s gonna prove to you all over again.

Thursday night videos?!? Bizarro World aka the Canadian Edition

28 Jul

Videos! Just because I feel like it! Actually in an attempt to push my long awaited Much-Music retrospective forward, I decided to reference a couple of awesome videos that I did not find on my old compilations.(or might’ve appeared on the legendary lost Vol 5.)

Weeping Tile- Cold Snap

Oh Weeping Tile, I can’t tell if you were just star-crossed or screwed out of stardom because of  being Canadian. Weeping Tile at their best could punch with Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donnelly, and the Veruca Salt girls anyday.(But, they couldn’t punch with those Deal sisters… I mean they were mega-famous chicks who definitely could issue quite the rugby tackle any time you touched their booze or heroin) This song is just catchy, memorable, predicts everything Metric would do, and not having this album has haunted me since its release 1996. However, I finally found a copy this week, so now is the time to mention the magic of Sarah Harmer(who’s still around btw) and co.

The Inbreds- Any Sense Of Time

This bass and drums duo made this great pop gem, that still makes me smile everytime I hear it. Love that album, lost in a sea of Canadianness here in the States, but still they did pretty well for a small indie band in that era of Canadian crap rock like Moist and post prime Tragically Hip.

I mean after all Trailer Park Boys used it to great effect…(hope they got more recognition and paper for it as well)

Sloan-Everything You’ve Done Wrong

Sloan have never really gone away. Despite flashes of fame their good classic 60s pop vibe always has been criminally underrated in the US.