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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business

Everyone’s favourite middle aged moaner returns with another eagerly awaited collection of embittered crooning performances. And very good it is too, despite all the anti-hype that generally accompanies every Morrissey release. This time the twist to the standard template is the adding of a global element, both lyrically and musically, with Mozza moaning on about world conflicts, bullfighting and the generic cruelty of humanity. The Boz Boorer backing track, without ever approaching authentic ‘world’ music, at least tips its hat at some latin inspired flamenco style guitar on several tracks. The prospect of Morrissey actually singing along to some serious world music exponents is almost too mouth watering to contemplate and unfortunately it will never happen, but I can dream.
On the upside it’s a very contemporary album lyrically and our hero not only deals with global conflict but throws in some attacks on A-Level pressures, animal cruelty, art critics, as well as his own introverted pain and loneliness. The surprising thing is that after all these years and a staunch refusal to reinvent himself (Bowie style), it’s still one of the best albums you could wish for, with some sing-a-long stormers mixed in with the thoughtful melancholy ballads. Surely he should be knocking out a CD out every year Eels style? How difficult can it be?

Just like REM albums, it’s difficult not to like something about every track and they all have their individual merits. The highlights however are probably the archetypal Morrissey bellowing yodel of ‘Kiss Me A Lot’, the sixth formers anthem ‘Staircase at the University’ and the philosophical classic that is ‘Earth is the Loneliest Planet’. My favourite is on the excellent bonus disk, which is incidentally well worth the extra expense, in the form of ‘Art Hounds’ which is a bitter rant at highbrow art critics, but contains one of the best false endings in history and a fantastic call to arms from Mozza to ‘take my hand if you cannot stand this fake world’. It’s a work of genius.

It transpires that Morrissey has been unwell and we wish him a speedy recovery and the encouragement to keep making albums. They are just as relevant and enjoyable now as they ever were and perhaps more so with the current dearth of intelligent and original artists. Ignore the poor reviews, this is up there with his best.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Neelix - No way to leave

Worth a Listen 9 - Neelix

Another cracking track from the mercurial Neelix. An underrated genius.

Fischerspooner - Never Win

Worth a Listen 8 - Fischerspooner

Sounding uncomfortably like Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall' at the start, Fischerspooner soon pull things round with this better than average pop-dance behemoth.

Billy Talent - Surprise Surprise

Worth A Listen 7 - Billy Talent

The strange animal noises, a pig king, blue loafers, pink vest and a flying shark make this one worth a watch. I can live without the song if I'm honest.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Broilers - Ruby Light & Dark

Pick of the Week 64 - Broilers

Like a German version of Sham 69, Broilers churn out agreeable punk influenced ditties. A great song from the Düsseldorf based outfit. Why have I never heard of them? Apparently they've been around since the mid 1990's!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Be Good Tanyas – A Collection

There was a place in the seminal comic 2000AD’s Judge Dredd story called the Cursed Earth. It was a radiation ravaged desert outside the walls of Mega City One exclusively inhabited by mutant hillbillies, mutant spiders and all kinds of other mutants. I seriously doubt the Be Good Tanyas hail from the Cursed Earth in reality, but in a musical sense they are fully fledged passport holding citizens.

What they’ve done is written the perfect sound track for life in the post apocalyptic radioactive wasteland. It’s off kilter Americana with a sour mashed flavour that takes the deep south template favoured by Caroline Herring and mutates it into a banjo fuelled, skiffle infused hybrid that is as disturbing as it is beautiful. When Judge Dredd stumbles on a group of mutated hobos clustered around an oil drum fire, this is what they were listening to.

In reality they come from Canada which is less romantic but probably better for them. Every track is a little country meets bluegrass gem and to name but a few; ‘Scattered Leaves’ is a lilting leftfield ballad, ‘Draft Daughters Blues’ is wholesome and chunky blues and ‘The Littlest Birds’ defies you not to sing along. My personal favourite is the stark, banjo meets that unique vocal style of ‘Only in the Past’ and then the fiddle kicks in. Having said that, the entire collection is not too shabby. 

Unusual, original and glorious, the Be Good Tanyas are a folk band I’ll be keeping an eye on in the years to come. A rich and varied collection just as at home in the North of England or in a post nuclear irradiated fictional desert. They also have the despairing look of a group that may also give us an interview?

Monday, 4 May 2015

Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Classic Track - Only Love Can Break Your Heart

I never liked anything else they did before or after this blissful indie/dance crossover single. It seems a travesty of justice that the excellent Moira Lambert got the push in favour of Sarah Cracknell, but at least she didn't outstay her welcome; I wonder what she's up to now? Check out the typically early 90's video; the combination of football table and this song never fails to send me into a frenzy.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Savages – Silence Yourself

I bought this album on the strength of the track that was included on the Rough Trade Counter Culture album that sounded like The Joyce Mckinney experience, a group that Evlkeith has championed valiantly over the years. However let's not make any bones about it, Savages wear their influences on their sleeves and the predominant influence is not Joyce. Essentially this sounds like a Siouxsie and the Banshees tribute band! And as such I wasn’t that sure I was even going to give it any air time on the car stereo.

But wonders will never cease; a couple of listens and I was hooked. You soon forget about the Siouxsie-ness that pervades everything and start to realise this is a quality collection of harsh, post punk ditties which take the sound forward rather than revel in the early eighties. I think it probably helps if you actively like the Banshees' back catalogue though.

The drumming is so beautifully harsh at times it takes your breath away and those tribal rhythms permeate every song to enhance the minimal distorted guitar and the howling familiar vocals. The pick of the bunch are the pummelling, relentless opener ‘Shut Up’, ‘No Face’ which sounds like X-Ray Spex at their ragged live best, and my favourite is the epic ‘She Will’ which showcases those pounding drums and Hooky style base to their maximum. Throw in the most saccharin of vocals and some soaring guitar riffs and you’re onto a serious winner.

If you have a soft spot for female vocal punk rock then you can’t go wrong with ‘Silence Yourself’. In a similar way that Elastica actually improved the Wire template, Savages have done a similar thing with the Banshees. It’s undeniably Siouxsie yet more so!   

Friday, 1 May 2015

Eyes Set to Kill - Infected

Pick of the Week 63 - Eyes Set to Kill

A good old fashioned alternative rock singalong from the critically acclaimed Arizona three-piece. However, it is transformed into something special by the unashamedly Silent Hill homage of a video, with jerky dancing spooky looking nurses aplenty. Their back catalogue looks seriously worth a look.