Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Valentines

Another Swedish pop queen... it must be something in the Abba-esque icy water up in the Baltic. Still, thank god for Sweden.

This one's for Valentine's Day. I know I'm two weeks early, but the shops are full of it and I scare easily. Just when you think Christmas is over and it's safe to go back into a normal world of dreadless shopping and conversation, along comes another set of obligations. Soon it'll be Easter, then there's birthdays and halloween and oh! I know I should enjoy this stuff really.

Anyway, today we have
Jenny Wilson and her excellent album on rabid records "Love and Youth", on which she sings, plays every instrument and produces and yet still manages to make a gorgeous album which doesn't sound like it was record on a cardboard box in her bedroom.

"12 songs/short stories with ingredients such as: Nosebleeds, love, fights,
despair, the awful schoolyard-blues and - of course - sex! Drumbeats's next to
electric guitars, dramatic & beautiful choirs, vibraphones and acoustic

The 14th February link comes through her wonderful track

And one last valentine thing. These Emotion Lotion badges are gorgeous, and they do some with cool song lyrics on too. You know the way to my heart...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cover Me

Here are some wacky and elusive cover versions, which have appealed of late. Some latin flip, a sultry piece of pop, an alt folk classic, oddball fabs and the usual weirdness.

SeƱor Coconut - Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple

Julie London - Yummy Yummy Yummy - Ohio Express
Ryan Adams - Time (the Revelator) - Gillian Welch
Fiery Furnaces -
Norwegian Wood - the Beatles
Flaming Lips -
7 Nation Army - White Stripes

Thanks to various blogs for the service, but in particular Martin at the

Bubblegum Machine

If it's ever been on K-Tel or Ronco, it's in. If it features hand claps, cow bells, syrupy orchestration, walls of sound, wrecking crews, sha-la-las, toothy teen idols, candy-based metaphors for carnal acts or lyrics about hugging, squeezing and rocking all night long, it's in.

Eclectic, marvellous and mad. Definitely worth checking out.

Page France

'Hello Dear Wind' is one of those wonderful discoveries - kinda half-baked beautiful songs, with a sort of childlike, mystical flavour to them. Baltimore's Michael Nau, Whitney McGraw and Clinton Jones have found a niche somewhere in low fi acoustic alt-folk heaven. Definitely one of the oddest - in being a Jesus referenced indie CD - but also one of the most satisfying albums.

Get Page France mp3s on their purevolume website and from their myspace place.

Nau has another band, the Broadway Hush, who are similarly delightful.

And get the CD here...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Flaming Lips

The new Flaming Lips single is called 'the W.A.N.D.' and it's the first introduction to the new FLIPS album 'At War With The Mystics'. Do Copenhagen has a link to hear it, or buy it from iTunes or your favourite online mp3 store. It's only available online.

The WAND is a pretty stunning single, from the opening hand claps through to the blasting riff of prog-rock buzz guitar, and then the mysterious lyrics which appear to reference the war in Iraq, but frankly, who knows. Fantastic - it's gotta be heard!

The new album is due out in April and will apparently come with a DVD featuring extra tracks and videos. Apparently it won't include 'You gotta hold on', although the video for that is available at - and there will be a proper single out in March, called the 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Song'.

A few more tracks from Mystics have now emerged, and I Guess I'm Floating has some including YYY - which is mad, bad and half brilliant, Wayne Coyne meets Brian Wilson circ Smile via Archies-style Power Pop. I love it in bits, although more in my head than in my heart at the moment. The other Floating Track is Free Radicals, which is more proggy in the vein of WAND, but has a pretty great funk feel to the vocals and sounds pretty damn great to me.

The full track listing for is:

"Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" "Free Radicals" "The Sound Of Failure/It's Dark... Is It
Always This Dark??" "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" "Vein Of Stars" "The Wizard
Turns On..." "It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big, I am So Small... Do I Stand
A Chance?" "Mr. Ambulance Driver" "Haven't Got A Clue" "The W.A.N.D." "Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung" "Goin' On"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sufjan Stevens

(Come on and feel the) Illinoise!
Sufjan Stevens is a genius, and phenomenally creative. His Illinoise album was pretty much the best thing released in 2005, with universal acclaim in most 'best of the year' lists.

There are bundles of his tracks around to try all across the world wide web,
including on the
Asthmatic Kitty website,
from his
myspace page,
and the
3HYPE blog, to name but a few.

They are all excellent and you'll want to rush out and buy every CD! Fortunately, with amazon you don't need to get cold and wet...

Carly Simon

Somehow over Christmas I found myself listening to the BBC Radio 2 'Sold on Song' documentary on Carly Simon and was hooked. It was a wonderful extended interview crawling over her life and the origins of many of her songs. She was the archetypal early 1970s rock chick - much more so than Farrah Fawcett or Charlie's Angels, but she was both charmingly naive and a superb singer-songwriter.

Anyway, now her greatest hits tape is on constant play in my car. "I had dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee, and...."

Carly: It certainly sounds like it was about Warren Beatty. He certainly thought it was about him - he called me and said thanks for the song….
WP: You had gone with him?
Carly: Hasn’t everybody?
WP: No.
Carly: That only means you haven’t met him, though at the time I met him he was still relatively undiscovered as a Don Juan. I felt I was one among thousands at that point – it hadn’t reached, you know, the populations of small countries….
Everyone knows the brilliance that is 'You're so Vain' but there are so many other great songs: No Secrets, Anticipation, Haven't got time for the pain...

and this one: That's the way I've always heard it should be (1971)

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Gaping Void

This is one of my favourite websites. Hugh is a genius, and his little witty cartoons drawn on the backs of business cards have created a whole philosophy of modern business for the aging successful slacker in 'How To Be Creative' and 'the Hugh Train'.

why are you so stupid?

Here are the first 12 items in the opening top 30 things that have worked for me list, from How To Be Creative:

  1. Ignore everybody.
  2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
  3. Put the hours in.
  4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
  5. You are responsible for your own experience.
  6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
  7. Keep your day job.
  8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
  9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
  10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.
  11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
  12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

    Check out the rest

    And as a special tribute, here's a rare John Lennon demo from 1971 which is short and simply beautiful:

    Free the people

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Beefheart rarities

The Captain Beefheart Radar Station at has lots of obscure Magic band stuff, including some 1968 BBC Radio sessions for John Peel's Top Gear show, long since lost. A great service in honour of a great artist. Try these for starters:

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

jenny and the twinsI didn't really get Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis' day-job, but after hearing a few tracks from her new solo LP 'Rabbit Fur Coat' I'm going to have to change my point of view.

Rabbit must be the first essential album of 2006; a real classic. Too many alt-country bands are little more than derivative barroom rockers and balladeers. Jenny isn't. She's the real thing.

Well, as far as a child actress who grew up in California can be country... but you know what I mean.

Check out Rise Up With Fist, a song that really hits me in the spot. Must be one of my favourite songs ever, and it's barely been around a week. Then listen to the album on

The CD was out on Jan 23rd. Get your copy here:

El Perro Del Mar

The latest from the self-proclaimed Swedish Princess of Pop is ridiculously catchy - like the Beach Boys and the Bubblegum Express fronted by a ten year old girl. You're probably loving it already.

Apparently they have now signed to Memphis Industries so we can look forward to a British release in April. Until then, you can listen to various tracks from the band's websites:

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Boy Least Likely To

...are a new band who are pretty cool, in a Badly Drawn Boy Belle & Sebastian kind of way. I'm addicted to their single Be Gentle With Me. Too cute for words. They have website space and myspace space whereupon you can hear said track, and they also have a CD from outta space entitled Best Party Ever.

Primal Schmaltz

One of my favourite tracks which was on peoplesound a few years ago is this one by Jo Swan/Swain - "Don't ask" - a terrific piece of mellow UK soul, and a great voice. Apparently it's from an album "Primal Schmaltz" which came out in 1998 and did nothing.


Fonotone Americana

From Dust-to-Digital

Thanks to A Personal Miscellany for alerting me to this really wonderful item from dust-to-digital records, a massive 5 CD Fonotone box set of gorgeous americana - blues, gospel and hill-billy. A Personal Miscellany have even posted a couple of tracks including a really early John Fahey piece. Clearly reminiscent of the historic Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music - it should take pride of place alongside it. You can listen to excerpts from every track on the Fonotone website.