Alternative music reviews

August 1, 2008

Obviously 4 Believers

Filed under: nostalgia,Obviously 4 Believers,Only Ones,vinyl — @ 10:51 pm Comments (1)

Today, Obviously 4 Believers release their debut single Then I’ll Be Leaving You (download only). They are a young band originally from Lancaster who play a sort of updated blues that has its roots in the guitar rock the Rolling Stones used to play.

Then I’ll Be Leaving You

Then I’ll Be Leaving You (clip) by Obviously 4 Believers

There’s some really good guitar work going on there and a certain swing that reflects what Madchester brought to the world. I particularly like the singer’s voice and the fact that it reminds me of Peter Perrett of The Only Ones. The Only Ones were never part of Punk or New Wave, being a more traditional Rock band of the old school – but they played such good songs that they were still allowed to be in your record collection. Obviously 4 Believers maybe share that slightly ‘out of time’ feel but this single is refreshing and certainly beats the crap out of most current Indie.

That gives me the perfect excuse to dive into my vinyl and get the first Only Ones 12″.

Lovers Of Today

Lovers Of Today by The Only Ones

Obviously 4 Believers

July 10, 2008

Fun With Wizard Stencils by Wintermute

Filed under: nostalgia,reviews,vinyl,wintermute — @ 10:06 pm Comments (0)

Fun With Wizard Stencils by WintermuteI get to hear a lot of new music. My speciality is listening to it over a long period and giving my considered opinion – a sort of long-term road test. Just (very) occasionally I listen to something sent to me and it is so good and immediate that I have to write about it straight away. I got a link to Fun With Wizard Stencils by Wintermute and after a few days of it sitting in my inbox I thought I should at least download it out of politeness. I was already feverishly writing about it before the end of the second track.

The music is played with the precision of Math Rock (until now, not a favourite style of mine) while the vocals are peppered with a certain ‘shouty’ style that a few Yorkshire bands seem to excel in – think The Terminals/Close Your Eyes… from the Dance To The Radio compilations. The ultra-passionate, imploring singing is made even better by the precision of the instrumentation. I can only gasp and utter occasional expletives at the wonder of what Wintermute have created. I have rarely heard songs of real life and real experiences performed with such verve that I found myself remembering that emotional desolation of youth. Yes, that sounds effing pretentious but I know what I mean and it is good sometimes to be reminded of that intensity of feeling.

Bad Company In A Sauna by Wintermute

Bad Company In A Sauna(clip) by Wintermute

There are a lot of moments when the guitar is struck with a Funk edge that recalls The Pop Group and the sudden silences in the music also emphasises that essential undanceability – although in truth many of us have all tried and ended up doing some very ungainly, jerky idiot dancing (being laughed at just makes you stronger!). So now I can mix my vinyl nostalgia series by playing you an earlier example of such artistry:

Beyond Good and Evil

She Is Beyond Good and Evil by The Pop Group

Wintermute on myspace

July 3, 2008

Live In Santa Monica ’72 by David Bowie

Filed under: nostalgia,reviews — @ 10:33 pm Comments (0)

Live In Santa Monica '72This is a recording of David Bowie in full ‘Ziggy Stardust’ phase. It has been available as a bootleg and a semi-offical album in the past. This is a repackaging of the 2003 remix available in double vinyl etc etc.

The only reason why I bothered with this album was that I had read it was one of Bowie’s best performances. My initial thoughts on hearing how clear the recording sounded was “What’s the point when I have all the albums?” But by the second track Ziggy Stardust I can see that this is a very special event. For a start I never realised just how good the musicianship was on that tour and Bowie’s performance is immaculate (apart from a very embarassing attempt to voice the take off of a rocket in Space Oddity).

In particular it is the guitar playing of Mick Ronson that astounds me. I knew he was good and have owned Slaughter on 10th Avenue in the past, but this is real guitar hero stuff – the noise he makes with every hit of the guitar is as close to perfect as you could ever want. The track I didn’t remember being played around this time was The Width Of A Circle and this extended 10 minute version is a chance for the guitarist to show off as well as a welcome reprise for one of Bowie’s most fascinating songs from Man Who Sold The World.

I doubt you could get a better David Bowie “Best Of up to Ziggy Stardust” selection than this – other than the inclusion of Starman. If I only had the chance to play one David Bowie album to someone then I think I would choose this one.

Width Of A Circle by David Bowie

The Width Of A Circle (clip) by David Bowie

June 24, 2008

Sonic Youth

Filed under: nostalgia,vinyl — @ 9:20 pm Comments (0)

I’ve been catching up on what Sonic Youth have been doing since 2000. Listening to their 2004 album Sonic Nurse, I enjoyed the familiarity of the same electric guitar sounds and those oh-so-familiar vocals – a thoroughly pleasant experience guaranteed to relax you. The only strange part was the review that I read that causzed me to listen to the album began: “Picking up where Murray Street’s languid experimentalism left off…” I interpreted that as Sonic Nurse would also be languidly experimental but I ended up wondering what on earth “experimental” meant to the reviewer. It seems the word has nothing to do with trying something new but repeating some intersting guitar sounds that you first tried 12 years ago.

Anyway, as I mentioned, it is very nice album in its own terms (familiar, relaxing) but its lack of challenge became more apparent when the next track on my MP3 player was the track The Burning Spear from their first EP in 1982. The build up of driving bass, churchbell-like percussion sounds, then an extended white noise scream from the synth. Now, that still feels “experimental” and can set my head shaking.

Sonic Youth

The Burning Spear (clip) by Sonic Youth

June 13, 2008

A Night With Paul Hawkins

Filed under: nostalgia,paul hawkins — @ 11:58 am Comments (2)

It’s been a very musical night. I signed up to Napster (the subscription service) and listened again to some Sonic Youth, Birthday Party, and Lydia Lunch. But I soon got bored with listening to lost classics of my favourite bands of yesteryear. I then set out to find Win A Night Out With A Well Known Paranoiac by Barry Andrews (once of XTC). This was a brilliant song I heard on the John Peel show but never managed to get hold of. Obviously Napster didn’t have it but I did find a second-hand record shop on the web that had a copy so hopefully they will reply to my email about it. I feel I can’t live much longer without the tale of the man who is persecuted but suddenly realises it is all a dream…but then

I’m really in a hospital bed. There is a smell of formaldehyde in the air, and a couple of doctors with swastikas on their arm are doing something to the brain of a sheep and in the corner is a huge zinc bath containing some sort of reptile and the nurse is saying “be a brave boy and drink it all up”. And I realise I can’t feel me legs and the shape in the bed isn’t my shape at all and I wanna cry out but I can only bleat

Barry Andrews

Win A Night Out With A Well-Known Paranoic by Barry Andrews

That lead me to further investigate Paul Hawkins – a man whose strange stories can evoke that same sort of paranoia. What I found was a bunch of YouTube videos that entertained me for the night. I saw a story of infidelity and dogs (A Bigger Bone), a desperate cry for love (Evil Thoughts), and why am I alone since I am so nice (I Believe In Karma).

The highlight for me was a live performance of one of the tracks from the single released this week: Gentleman on Crutches. There is nobody, I repeat, nobody who suits a hospital gown so much as this man. I can’t think of anything else to say that will more compliment him.

June 12, 2008

Boys Next Door

Filed under: nick cave,nostalgia,vinyl — @ 9:24 pm Comments (0)

Dig, Lazarus, DigHaving just reviewed the latest Nick Cave I thought I’d dive into my vinyl for some of his earlier work. Back in 1979 the future members of The Birthday Party were called the Boys Next Door and they were emerging from Punk and just beginning to create elements of the tension that would soon characterise their latter incarnation. But mostly they were a young punky guitar band with a ‘different’ singer.

How things would develop…

The Nightwatchman by Boys Next Door

The Nightwatchman by Boys Next Door

May 6, 2008

Sandy Richardson walks…

Filed under: nostalgia,vinyl — @ 11:02 pm Comments (0)

Hunting For The Ugly ManI started my vinyl conversion series with the Glaxo Babies so this track follows on from there. Rob Chapman was the vocalist with the Babies in their early days (on Who Killed Bruce Lee and Christine Keeler) and they went downhill fast once he had left. But Rob moved on to the Transmitters and produced this startling track on their Hunting For The Ugly Man EP.

Although often too obtuse and chaotic for their own good, everything came together for this classic track. I appreciated the railing against the mediocrity of every day life and commercialism at the time but now I’m more interested in the mention of Manchester “where people have no faces” and of course the reference to Sandy Richardson. I assume most of you have no idea who Sandy Richardson was or why he should walk. I don’t want to ruin the mystery or explain why it’s such a cute line.

The Ugly Man

The Ugly Man by The Transmitters

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