Saturday, 31 January 2009

TOTW5: Emiliana Torrini - Jungle Drum

It's weeks like this I dropped down to a solitary TOTW for.

For some reason, I've not heard many new tracks this week. Various things keeping me busy instead. But, there's one that I've heard a few times in the past, and always forgot about in previous weeks. Which is a shame, because it's brilliant. Innovative, extremely catchy, frantic, insane - so many adjectives could be applied.

Apparently, the Icelandic girl Emiliana Torrini is well known for singing "Gollum's Song", but I've never watched the Lord of the Rings films, so I know nothing. What I do know is that Scandavian pop is really coming of age at the minute, and the output is fantastic.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

More things to see

My last unsung was looking at some up-and-coming acts in my local area.

Well, the gig lists have been extended since then, so I'm just going to do exactly the same thing this time!

Starting with band of the movement Joy Formidable. I've not mentioned them yet, although I'm not entirely sure how I've not. Thankfully, Winston has. With a track that's been used for a TV trailers (Austere, and Skins); and praise from NME and the Guardian; they're already making waves. A very many people are tipping them to be big. I'd be a fool not to try and get to see them whilst they're still just on that side of "lowkey".

David Ford is nice and folkily acoustic and could be watchable, but talking about folk...

It should come as no surprise to people that read my main blog that I like The Lancashire Hotpots. Similar to the Houghton Weavers (who I've seen live before, at a National Caravan Club rally. Don't ask) - but with more modern references. I've heard the occasional song in the past, and immediately fell in love. Very homely tones for an East Lancashire lad like meself (and I can hear me tekkin' in a more Lancastrian drawl as I write this), and very funny. A definite event.

One extra mention though, who I don't expect to be seeing anytime soon (but we'll see), but after hearing Sea Sore on Tom Robinson's Introducing podcast, have decided to listen a bit more. Convoi Exceptionnel are not French - they're Welsh. As far as I know, neither member of the group are still based in the "mean streets of Aber", and they even live at separate ends of the county - but still are producing great tracks. And listening to the other tracks that are streamable, I do mean great. I don't like rap (as a rule), and I can't speak Welsh (there's a great story about when I decided to try and pronounce a Welsh street name correctly when buying a property there. The telephonist at the sellers' solicitors burst into hysterics at my brave attempt when I was asked what I was calling about), but it's unusual, thus appealing. Yes, it's rap - but there's 'proper' music involved too. From Beat on the Deli its clear they're not fans of 'popular' rap either. And their cover of Paper Planes is intelligent and amusing in equal measure!

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Two songs this week that have got the "most heard" award - and are both good songs deserving of a mention. Morrissey I mentioned last week with I'm throwing my arms around Paris (9 Feb), so haven't much to add - but for some reason I've not yet mentioned Life in Technicolor ii (2 Feb)

From the Prospekts March EP instead of the highly popular Viva La Vida album, it's still definitely got the same style of the most recent output I've been surprised to be enjoying.

Another duo have been battling for the "new and unusual award". Everyone knows by now that I like Vampire Weekend, and that therefore includes Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, including the line "Feel so unnatural // Peter Gabriel too". Who better to sing that song than Peter Gabriel himself, out of off of Genesis? So, together with Hot Chip, that's what he's done. It's a completely unexpected interpretation, and whilst it was expected to be on a b-side for the Vampire Weekend single it never was. It'll probably never feature on its own, but is still worth a mention so here's as good a place as any. Although I don't like the dolphin-esque wailing in the chorus...

Another one that I'm not expecting to make much impression on the charts is People by Barry Adamson. Adamson is perhaps better known as a backing musician (Magazine, Nick Cave, and more), but this song is wonderful. Soothing, meaningful, ideal after a hard day at work.

There was a very obvious choice for TOTW this week after hearing it a few times on the radio. I've said in my album review that I love Spaceman (9 Feb) by the Killers, and stand by that theory. Ordinarily, it would have been an easy TOTW.

However, on Thursday I heard a song that I shouldn't like, as Miranda Sawyer brought it in as her "Show & Tell" on RadMac. I've only heard it once since, but think it's brilliant. The lyrics are insightful, intelligent, and witty. It's rap, so I shouldn't like it, but Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip have really appealed with Thou Shalt Always Kill (De La Soul Mix) (26 Jan). I see that there was an original version about twelve months ago, but I'm going to look at this new version as that's what's released tomorrow. Favourite lines include "Thou shalt not lie anyone under 6, unless it's concerning major holidays" and "Thou shalt not think that having a blog makes you a journalist". Your favourite music journo, signing out.... LOL

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Run, Rabbit, Run

For some reason, the first song I thought of when "songs that begin with the letter R" was the above. Quite strange, but deserves a random mention nevertheless.

A much wider selection than last time, so I'm not going to say much - all are obvious choices, with a wide range of Motown, Dance, Cheese, Classic pop... I've done the playlist in chronological order (by original, even if not the artist below, before you moan), so you can enjoy listening to the letter R through the years.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

TOTW3: First Aid Kit - You're not coming home tonight

I know that I have a very varied relationship with Bloc Party. I either like their songs very much, or can't stand them. One month off is in the former category. Maybe it's a bit too samey - it sounds very similar to what we've heard from them many times in the past. But it's dramatic, and still unusual with atonality that you can't hear anywhere else in the charts at the minute. It's out on Feb 2nd.

I have a feeling it was about 12 months ago I last mentioned Steven Patrick Morrissey. I too would be quite happy to throw my arms around France's capital, given how much I loved living there. The song itself hugely complicated - the list of lyrics is particularly short. But, it's definitely classic Moz, and therefore I like it. I'm throwing my arms around Paris is out on Feb 9th.

I don't know if it's just me, but the opening bars of Oh My God (26 Jan) sound like Florence and the Machine. Then the music kicks off in earnest, and you can tell it's Ida Maria. Perhaps, just a little be, it's less imposing than I Like you so much better when you're naked, because that somewhat unique style has already been heard before. But, it has to be expected - because it's the same artist.

TOTW though goes to something totally different

I don't like First Aid Kit because of their name, despite what some people might think. I just think that You're not coming home tonight (9 Feb) is a brilliant song. Maybe not a huge amount to it, but the harmonies are beautiful. The Guardian profiled the band last month, very similar to Fleet Foxes (remember them from just last week?) is many ways - young, but feel like they've been around for ages. I don't think this is going to be the last time I mention them in 2009.

Couple of honourable mentions too this week (had a few days off work, so got to listen to the radio!) - White Lies To Lose my Life, and Franz Ferdinand Ulysses - both mentioned before and both out on the 19th. Not sure what I'll end up doing with Last Chance given both of their forms so far...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Space Echo

Okay, time for me to contribute an up and coming band.

I'm fairly dissapointed in the BBC Sounds of 2009 list - it's very predictable, and most of the acts are hardly original.

I know I'm going to appreciate White Lies, but to be honest, they're not going to be anything different to Interpol or the Editors or their decades before predecessors (Echo & The Bunnymen, Joy Division etc.)

Little Boots, quirky electronica sounds no different to what Client has been doing for years.

So, I throw in a band soon to release their debut album online, SPCECO. Born out of one half of 90's goth tinged shoegazers Curve, this band sound slightly original in a very unoriginal way. That makes no sense I know, but all the ingredients are tried and tested but not in this order.

(By the way, if you don't think you've heard Curve, if you watch Top Gear, you sure as hell do, half their tracks are used for all the car testing clips - their music guy's clearly a wise Curve fan).

And just for a band from last year who have a song that just sounds flipping awesome on the MTV2 playlist - The Airborne Toxic Event and Sometime Around Midnight. Haven't warmed to their other stuff yet, but love this tune.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Something to see?

Well, after my failed attempt to go and see The Bees (gig cancelled), I've been working on decided when my first gig of 2009 should be.

The ideal starting point is the website of my local "indie" venue. See who's coming up, and have a listen to some myspaces for the up-and-coming talent.

Skipping quickly over All Hail the thief - clearly not my cup of tea after 2 notes; and Haunts because I'm not free that day anyway (which is a shame, some of the teasers are a bit tempting), I find myself listening to Falling Red.

First indications from reading about them were a bit concerning. Rock. Listening though, it's not too heavy, not too grungy (is that still a word?) and has some definite charms. I still don't really know what I'm looking for in this style of music though, and whilst I've not disliked it, I certainly wouldn't go and spend money to go and see them -it's just not me.(1)

Later on in the February, The Talks are due to make an appearance. "Reggae / Indie / Punk" is what their myspace says - and there is definitely a bit of each involved. SOme songs (Picture This) are pure guitar based indie, where as Stay Away clearly has that Reggae they refer to. There's something reassuringly familiar about many of their songs, so expect a visit.

And then in March, we have The Whiskycats. They've featured on Tom Robinson's introducing show, and I think I can recall hearing that in the past (And even if not, it's a good indicator). I absolutely love Slipped Disco, particularly when I want to start throwing plates on the floor like a tourist-inducing greek restaurant owner. They list themselves as Jazz - and to an extent it is, Contradictions could easily be a funkier Jamie Cullum number. But it's just a really unique sound. Bouncy, enjoyable, and I'm sure it'll sound great. The date is pencilled in my diary ready to sort nearer the time...

PS> Since picking the acts to feature on this Unsung, the programme online has been padded out a bit, so there's some bands I have mentioned. Don't worry - I will listen, may mentioned in the future, and may attend the gig.

(1) - Of course, if anyone wants to provide me with a ticket, because it sounds much better live, I'll reconsider....

Sunday, 11 January 2009

TOTW-2: Fleet Foxes - Mykonos

Only really one contender this week. It's a fan made video, but who cares. As I said last week, an enchanting melody, simplistic accompaniment, and meaningful lyrics. Brilliance.

Fleet Foxes - Mykonos

Whilst there was only the one contender, other songs 'bubbling under' (as the saying goes) should be mentioned - with particular credence to 2nd place Sound of 2009 band White Lies. To lose my life is (as I mentioned in the Sound of 09 longlist) an Editors-esque antehmic song. Very catchy, and enjoyable.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Quite difficult


What songs might begin with Q? I'm going to start struggling a bit now, I can see it happening.

Needless to say then, it's a bit of a short shortlist.

Quinn the Eskimo (sometimes known just as "The Mighty Quinn") is in by it's writer, although I do prefer the first recording of it by Manfred Mann.

Que Sera Sera has been recorded many times, but originally for the Hitchcock film "The Man who knew too much" by the person who made it her own.

And that's it. Any more, please do let me know, and I'll try to add them...

Sunday, 4 January 2009

TOTW-1: Beck - Youthless

Tune of the Week 2009 - #1

I'm going to try something different this year. Now I've started work, I'm not listening to as much radio, so it can be harder to pick two distinct TOTWs. So, I'm going to make things easier (and cut down the longlist for the end of the year) and only have one TOTW per week. Might end up changing the last chance criteria, but I'll see.

I'm also going to be lazy, and as there can't be a theme between two songs if there's only one, I'll curtail the witty (well, attempts at witty) titles. I'll just announce what the TOTW at the outset. Still worth reading the post though, because there's all the alternatives...

Of course, being the first shortlist of the year, and having had a week off work, the reasons for cutting things are negated - so here's a selection slightly more plentiful than might end up being the norm.

One obvious thing about having a week off is being able to listen to Radio2's record of the week on Ken Bruce's show (even it wasn't Ken Bruce, and there wasn't any Popmaster). Working on a Dream is the new one by Bruce Springsteen together with his E-Street band (26 Jan), and it traditional - which is what we really want from the Boss himself. What I don't get is the whistling in the middle of it. First time I heard it I thought that the DJ on the radio had faded up his mike. Nice though, doesn't really work though.

Another band we've not heard from for ages is Franz Ferdinand. I say ages, Ulysses (19 Jan) has been getting a bit of airplay recently. It's the first 'proper' single from the new album "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand", and I think it does show an evolution of the band. Still very distinctively Franz Ferdinand, but just with a slightly different edge to bring them to the latter part of the decade.

I've mentioned Seattle band Fleet Foxes' unique "indie folk" style before. With Mykonos, they continue to prove their talent. How often do you hear an a capella part of a song in popular music? It's enchanting music, and whilst it's not the sort of thing that you're going to be able to hear 'down the club' on a Saturday night, it certainly should appeal to a broad spectrum of the music listening public.

I wouldn't have said I'm a fan of Beck. But Youthless has got that addictive bass hook in it. It's quite different to what I'd expect, and quite different to quite a lot that's in the charts at the minute. I suppose it's this distinctive nature that has got me surprisingly interested in it.

Honourable mentions this week also to them Sugarbabes - No Can Do (29 Dec); Bryn Christopher - Fearless (19 Jan) and White Lies - To Lose my life (19 Jan).

But to my surprise, I'm giving Beck the nod for the first TOTW of the year. I'm sure we've not seen the last of most of the above though.

Friday, 2 January 2009

My summary of 2008

An outsiders view of 2008...well, I came to counting up the new albums (not including re-releases or old stuff I bought recently) and discovered that 2008 is my worst year for new music - having just purchased 18 albums!

Now, some of it may be me being a little bit tight, but I think there is some element of poor stuff on behalf of the music industry there - keep an eye out for those little bands because they're going to make a break through if midsize indie stays this poor.

So - here is my top 10 countdown of 2008. Hope you disagree!

10: David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Track: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

Just teetering at the end of the top 10 is the top man behind ambient music, and highly acclaimed producer with the Talking Heads front man. David Byrne (the Talking Heads one, incase you didn't know) had some cojones to e-mail out the entire website's mailing list pleading with them to vote for Obama on his behalf as he couldn't (some filtering would have been handy, as I can't either!) - anyway, this is a good album, in any other year, this wouldn't make my top 10, but hey.

9: British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music

Track: No Lucifer

Just sheer post-rock brilliance from my local tree wearing crazy people! :)

8: Rogue Traders - Better In The Dark

Track: I Never Like You

Okay, an odd one here. Also, this was released in 2007 in their native Australia (yeah, the singer's from Neighbours) - but didn't get a domestic release in the UK so I picked it up on import at a bored moment. Natalie's sexy snarl is what basically powers this otherwise dready electronica-rock album, but she just sounds so good - particularly live (hence the link). They had a few tracks (namely 'Voodoo Child') out a few years ago to remember.

7: The Cure - 4:13 Dream

Track: Underneath The Stars

Always look forward to a Cure album, and this one's hailed as one of their greatest in recent years. To be honest, I'm not sure - but it's still good. The first track is outstanding, and is featured on the new Underworld prequel. The album's more upbeat than usual - except this one I suppose.

6: Blood Red Shoes - Box of Secrets

Track: This Is Not For You

I talked about these earlier in the year. It still holds up. But I won't talk about them much as I already have.

5: Feeder - Silent Cry

Track: Fires

Nice to see Feeder back on form. This album's the closest they've got to sounding back to their sophomore effort, Yesterday Went Too Soon, in a while. A little gem that's been in my CD player often this year.

4: Gemma Hayes - The Hollow Of Morning

Track: Out of Our Hands

A quiet 3rd release from the once Mercury nominated Irish lady. In my opinion, her best album yet.

3: Glasvegas - Glasvegas

Track: Go Square Go

A crazy fusion of two distinct decades. A notable fact is that I've made the effort to see the top 3 in my list live this year. I enjoyed this fuzzy 60's album very much, though I was probably ready for it a lot took damn ages before it got released by then some of the fun was gone. White Lies, don't make the same mistake!

2: James - Hey Ma

Track: Bubbles

The masters of indie are back in style, and this album more than surprised me, as did their live performance at Brixton Academy. Good to have them back.

1: The Delays - Everything's the Rush

Track: Love Made Visible

However, this bouncy pop record from high-singing brother fronted Southampton band, The Delays, gets my top vote for this year - with only one song I dare skip on the entire album, it's a joy to listen to.

As for 2009 - I'm not sure what I'm looking forward to, just hopefully more stuff than last year that's all!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

TOTY 2008 - Your Choice

Following on from yesterday's post, it's only fair that everyone else gets chance to make comment as well.

So, time for a quick poll - what is your Tune of the Year. Because I'm limited to the number of options, I've only put down my top 5 - but you're more than welcome to pick something completely different, just make a comment saying what. It's all fairly simple...

TOTW 2009

Tunes of the Week 2009

A Handy list (and playlist) of the Tunes of the Week in 2009.

1: Beck - Youthless
2: Fleet Foxes - Mykonos
3: First Aid Kit - You're not coming home tonight
4: Dan Le Sac & Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill (De La Soul mix)
5: Emiliana Torrini - Jungle Drum
6. The Killers - Spaceman
7. Coldplay - Life in Technicolour ii
8. La Roux - In for the kill
9. Kings of Leon - Revelry
10. Doves - Kingdom of Rust
11. Take That - Up All Night
12. Animal Collective - My Girls
13. Pussycat Dolls / A H Rahman - Jai Ho!
14. Taylor Swift - Love Story
15. Noisettes - Don't upset the Rhythm
16. Ben's Brother - Apologise
17. Depeche Mode - Wrong
18. Jason Mraz - Make it Mine
19. Lily Allen - Not Fair
20. Gary Go - Open Arms
21. Daniel Merriweather - Red
22. The Killers - World we live in
23. The Noisettes - Never Forget You
24. Lionel Richie -Forever
25. The Yeah You's - 15 Minutes
26. A-ha - Foot of the Mountain
27. Florence & the Machine - Rabbit Heart (Build it up)
28. La Roux - Bulletproof
29. VV Brown - Shark in the Water
30. Polarkreis 18 - Allein Allein
31. Anthoney Wright - Wud if I Cud
32. Athlete - Superhuman Touch
33. Arctic Monkeys - Crying Lightning
34. The Noisettes - Wild Young Hearts
35. Imogen Heap - First Train Home
36. The Yeah Yous - Getting Up with you*
37. Paloma Faith - New York
38. Mark Knopfler - Border Reiver
39. Michael Bolton - Just One Love
40. Fanfarlo - The Walls are coming down
41. Editors - Papillon
42. Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Bapa*
43. Beverley Knight - In your shoes
44. Paolo Nutini - Pencil Full of Lead
45. Arctic Monkeys - Cornerstone
46. Lily Allen - Who'd have known
47. Norah Jones - Chasing Pirates
48. Mumford & Songs - Winter Winds
49. Rod Stewart - Same Old Song
50. Passion Pit - Little Secrets
51. George Michael - December Song
52. Fyfe Dangerfield - She Needs Me


Last Chances
January: White Lies - To lose my life; Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses
February: Ting Tings - We Walk
March: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero
April: Jack Penate - Tonight's Today*
May: Empire of the Sun - We are the people
June: Bat for Lashes - Pearl's Dream
July: Frankmusik - Confusion Girl
August: Black Eyed Peas - I Gotta Feeling
September: Hockey - Song Away; Muse - Uprising
October: Vampire Weekend - Horchata
November - Jamie Cullim - I'm all over it
December - Dionne Bromfield - Ain't no mountain High Enough

TOTW09 - Last Chance

* - Not included in the listenable playlist