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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Evlkeith's Festive 50 2013 (40-31)

After last night's thrilling instalment of the Festive 50 here are the next ten tracks from 40 to 31:


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Evlkeith's Festive 50 2013 (50-41)

Welcome to my Festive 50 for this year, consisting of my fifty favourite songs of 2013. Rather than the usual text based format I've decided to do something different that I hope you'll enjoy. So for numbers 50 down to 41 click on this handy little YouTube clip:


Monday, 23 December 2013

Rilo Kiley – More Adventures

If there was any justice or logic in the world, Jenny Lewis would be an international superstar dwarfing the combined achievements of Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Adele like the Statue of Liberty staring down at three ceramic garden gnomes. Sadly, this is clearly not the case. But why is it that someone with so much talent, a beautiful voice and stunning good looks should be idolised only in the rarely read pages of obscure music blogs?

More Adventures is my fourth foray into the musical universe of Ms. Lewis and the content of the album more or less answers the question. She makes un-commercial, quirky music that sits in neither one genre or another. At times it’s indie, then it’s folkie and now and again it’s country.  The media and the masses hate not being able to categorise an artist, however original and gifted they are. It’s a depressing state of affairs really.

This album is the most upbeat and rocky of its predecessors, but retains the genre blurring, idiosyncratic flavour that is so enticing and alluring. If rock is the predominant style, there’s a fair selection of variety on offer as well. There’s the country-soul crooning of ‘I Never’, the indie ballad of ‘It Just Is’, the pure country of ‘More Adventurous’ and the camp-accoustic ‘The Absence of God.’ Most striking is the profound soft rock of ‘Love and War’ with clashing guitars and Jenny at her most shouty.


It’s an unusual and engrossing album, but let’s face facts, it’s never going to appeal to the masses. If you’ve never sampled their work this is probably as good a place to start as any.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Electric Guest – This Head I Hold


Pick of the Week 45 – Electric Guest

After our success in launching the careers of Gabrielle Aplin and Foxes recently, surely Electric Guest will be the next big hitters on our roster of greatness. Hopefully they’ll be slightly more appreciative than Gabrielle too. Don’t let that squeaky falsetto voice put you off, this is a beast of a song from the LA based indie semi-rockers, and it will soon be entering your subconscious via the speaker system as you walk around Morrisons filling your trolley with wholesome produce. You heard it here first.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sufjan Stevens – Come on Feel the Illinoise

Never have I been so sure I would enjoy an album as I was when I purchased this offering from Sufjan Stevens. I’d already heard and enjoyed one of his songs in Evlkeith’s festive fifty a couple of years ago and the whole concept of Sufjan is so camp acoustic, quirky folk and unusual instrumentation that I couldn’t possibly dislike it. Or could I…

It’s far from a terrible album, but I just can’t engage with it. It’s like all the worst self indulgent bits of Bright Eyes mixed with none of passion of Neutral Milk Hotel and without the melodies of Elliot Smith. It’s almost a parody of the camp-acoustic gene and with twenty-two tracks it’s a war of attrition to wade through.

The horns, flutes and banjos are all agreeable enough, the reedy, soft vocals are not offensive and the lyrics are quirky and witty. However there’s an inverse synergy to this collection that leaves you feeling empty and cold. It’s a huge disappointment all round, but I doubt Sufjan will lose any sleep. It’s a struggle to pick a favourite track, but 'Casimir Pulaski Day' is at least low key and mellow and the ‘Seer’s Tower’ is fairly stark and moderately haunting.

Maybe I’m missing something, but Sufjan is not joining the Into the Valley gang. Perhaps that’s a positive thing for him as he may become successful.   


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Skatalites – Walk with Me

The Skatalites invented Ska as a musical genre. Before them the Caribbean music scene was dominated by mento, calypso, swing and jazz and then, as the informative little CD book goes on to enlighten us, the Skatalites stepped forward and changed the musical landscape forever. They formed in 1964, so on this their current album ‘Walk with Me’, the guys were getting on a bit, and sadly, several of the original members have passed away, but this does not detract from an interesting and largely enjoyable album.

Having said this, on the first few listens, the whole thing sounds too antiseptic and sterile, like it’s been made in the antibacterial chamber of the studio. There’s not a hint of the earthy, authentic atmosphere of the humid, smoky West Indian dancehalls, nor the merest vinyl scratch or hiss to flavour the recording with an element of realism. In short it sounded like the kind of music you listen to in upmarket Jamaican hotel lifts and I removed it from the car’s CD playlist with some disappointment.

Listening to it in everyday life however makes all the difference. It’s almost as if you have to add your own context to the music. Listening on the computer, while I mow the lawn or when walking the dog makes the experience all the more enjoyable. There’s some great musicianship and some great songs on offer. ‘Desert Ska’ is soothingly hypnotic, ‘Love is the Way’ is smooth and comforting, and ‘Song for my Father’ an ideal theme tune for all dads. The best track is the titular ‘Walk with Me’ with its old school rhythms and mesmerizing melodies.

All in all, it’s a surprisingly mixed bag of pure blooded ska. Add your own sonic impurities and the album is as enthralling as it is timeless.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Tom Stormy Trio featuring Rhythm Sophie – Finders Keepers

Pick of the Week 45 – Tom Stormy Trio

What the hell is this? Lovely matching blue polo shirts, stand up drumming and a Matt Bianco style number that sits somewhere between skiffle and psychobilly. Throw the husky tones of Rhythm Sophie in the equation and you’ve got yourself something special. 

With her sunny disposition she should provide guest vocals for so many other bands; imagine Bright Eyes featuring Rhythm Sophie? A Morrissey duet with Rhythm Sophie? PJ Harvey even?