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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Update from the edge of the world

For extremely complicated reasons I won't go into, I've been spending the last couple of months back home in Europe which has been quite a change to say the least.

I've not felt like posting anything as you may have guessed but today I have a small story to tell.

A few years ago I wrote a post about my brother Ed and his refreshing attitude (here).

This week we were discussing music like we usually do when we just get a chance to chill out and hit 'random' on the stereo. When the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" came on, my brother said that this could be his theme song. My heart fell because my brother, because of his disability, has never had a serious girlfriend and lives quite a lonely existence. I imagined him listening to these songs and being laid low by the experiences. I thought of the inherent yearning quality of the U2 track and privately wondered about the expectations of life. Yes folks, I am a deep thinker.

So we were silent for a moment. Then my brother continued. "Yeah, this is my song. I'm always losing my wallet, my car keys, my phone numbers.... I'm always looking for something!!"

I love you Ed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crying In The Library

I was in a fragile mood on Sunday, but that doesn't really tell the full story of how I felt tears welling up unexpectedly during a brief sojourn in the children's section of the library.

I sat down with two books, one of which I don't remember now. The other was a large pictorial history of the rock band Queen. I just thought it might be an interesting light read for a few minutes, and I was in no real sense a fan. I don't own any Queen albums. I know the big hits but none of the album tracks. My strongest (and most shameful) memory of them was politely informing another boy in my 3rd Form class that Freddie Mercury was "a poofter". I certainly had a way with words when I was 14.

And yet here I was, many years later, moved to tears by the explanations of how, despite becoming ill in 1987, Freddie fought to his last breath to make the music he wanted and to make the most of every moment with his loved ones and colleagues before finally succumbing in 1991. It was truly inspirational. And then, to read some of the lyrics of his last works, knowing his time was short, was very moving.

A few years ago I might have made a patronizing comment about how he was still out there performing somewhere. Now, I don't think he is. But it isn't patronizing at all to say that the man continues to inspire, enthrall and entertain through his extraordinary legacy. And that is all any of us can hope for. Or aim for.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Link-O-Rama

Just a quick shout out to "Where This Kind of Music Happens", a new blog with a great roster of new wave and synthpop artists featured. Be sure to check it out!

Also if you like mooning over music magazines from the early '80's, then check out Brian's awesome Smash Hits archive.

From the indie pop scene I've been enjoying Consolation Prizes, with posts of bands like Friends Again, Jazzateers, The Go-Betweens and many more.

I'm noticing not only that there seem to be a lot more music blogs springing up, but most of them are being updated daily. Here's to discovering something new!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Meg & Dia, Red Umbrella, Quiet KY


Meg & Dia - Here, Here And Here (2009)

I bought it because it was a recent release. I expected something maybe like the Indigo Girls or maybe Tegan & Sara.

The Verdict: This album rocks, hard.Surprisingly accessible and melodic. The only downside was that after four or five similar tracks I was out of breath. I was expecting a change of pace but there wasn't one (at least on what I heard). But good driving music.

Rating:   9/15




Red Umbrella - Wishing For Boardwalk (2006)

Another one where I liked the cover and artwork. No expectations.

The Verdict: I had put this on before and remembered that I liked it. The first track is a good, surging pop song. The next couple of tracks just drifted off a little for me. Not sure on this, might be a grower.

Rating:   7/15







Quiet, KY - Two Blue Ruins (200?)

I liked the quirky art. Self-released, so no idea what this might be like.

The Verdict: A winner all the way! Excellent, accessible acoustic settings. If this was by a major band on a major label these songs would be on all those acoustic compilations with Radiohead, Magnet, Nick Drake and Badly Drawn Boy. A gentle, delicate, warmly sung pleasure. Very, very good indeed.

            Rating:   14/15
                                                       www.myspace.com/quietky

Worthy Download:   The whole Two Blue Ruins album! But not apparently available anywhere right now. Try "Florentina" or "Mr. Welles" to get a taste.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Platinum Weird, Gracer, Built For The Sea

Platinum Weird - Make Believe (2006)

After finding a promo CD single from this band with Kara DioGuardi (American Idol) and David Stewart of the Eurythmics both mentioned, I kept an eye out for the full album.

The Verdict: I'm pretty knowledgeable about music but I had never heard of this before. David and Kara teamed up and released an album which pretended to be from 1974 and a precursor to the classic Fleetwood Mac sound. Surprisingly good, most notably the effective and nuanced vocals.

Rating:   12/15

Gracer - Voices Travel (2006)

This indie release was cheap and I liked the cover.

The Verdict: Another surprise, with engaging melodies and a full sound. Lyrically adventurous. Not bad at all. Reminds me of Athlete.

Rating:   11/15







Built For The Sea - Mise En Scene (2008)

I totally bought this for the beautiful art on the digipak, which was even tied with a bow.

The Verdict: A 5 track EP, the first number was nothing special. Halfway through the second track I was thinking about the relative weak vocals against the dark and swirling melodies. I was going to dismiss it but then I thought, if this was a Cure song I'd think it was brilliant alright. With that reference point, I really liked the middle three tracks. So overall  a good, interesting release. Sounds better in the car, actually.

Rating:   8/15

Worthy download:   Gracer - Emily Taylor
Bonus download:   Platinum Weird -  Will You Be Around

Friday, May 21, 2010

Great Northern, Boondogs, The Red Thread

Great Northern - Remind Me Where The Light Is (2009)

I remembered reading a fairly good review of this one somewhere.

The Verdict: I only played the first two tracks and was undecided about it. The musicianship is good, just didn't particularly make me want to listen to more. Unfair, perhaps.

Rating: 4/15





Boondogs - Fever Dreams (2005)

I liked the cover. Plus, it's a digipak. Yay!

The Verdict: Very promising. I liked the first three tracks right away. They alternate between male and female vocals. I liked the guy better at first, but also the songwriting seemed interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing more of this.

Rating:   10/15
http://www.myspace.com/boondogs




The Red Thread - Ship in the Attic, Birds in the Subway (2005)

I won this one for a cent on eBay. The artwork is nothing special.

The Verdict: Really good. Very nice dynamics, two strong opening tracks and then a cool acoustic number for the third. I played the last track and it was another pretty acoustic instrumental. Sounds great, quite focused. Best of the day which I didn't anticipate at all.

Rating:   13/15
http://www.myspace.com/theredthread



Worthy download:   The Red Thread - A Distance
Bonus download:   Boondogs - Up For Days

Downloads are low quality for sampling purposes only. Buy the official downloads here and here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sound The Alarm, Ben Shive, Saucy Monky

Sound The Alarm - Stay Inside (2007)

Nice cover. Major label, mixed by Tom Lord-Alge. That's a clue right there.

The Verdict: Somebody somewhere loves this band. I guarantee they are younger than me and possibly on first name terms with the drummer. Competent, professional, and utterly uninspiring.

Rating:   2/15





Ben Shive - The Ill-Tempered Klavier (2008)

Not sure what to expect with this one. No barcode, so maybe a local Nashville release.

The Verdict: Turns out Ben is a well known producer and keyboardist in CCM circles (Caedmon's Call, Andrew Osenga, etc.) The sound is polished and grounded, well crafted piano pop. I actually listened to this most of the way home. In the right mood, I really like this kind of music. He has a good voice. The first track is one of those "sad people" songs (like Fountains of Wayne) so I'm liking this.

Rating:   12/15


Saucy Monky - Turbulence (2004)

This one was cheap and had bi-planes on the cover. I love bi-planes!

The Verdict: Girl driven pop-rock. Not terrible but didn't really grab me. Lots of tracks to choose from so maybe I just played the wrong ones. Seems a little precious.

Rating:   5/15 






Worthy download:   Ben Shive - A Name, A Name, A Name

Download is low quality, for sampling purposes only. If you like it, buy it here

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Medic Droid, Janet Bean, Blanche, Mezzanine Owls

The Medic Droid - What's Your Medium (2008)

I bought this CD based on the artwork and a possible Star Wars reference.

The verdict: A three piece electropop combo, the sound of the band was appealing from track one. But the vocals on most tracks were so heavily processed with a vocoder that it put me off. About halfway through there was an unexpected cover version of "Into The Groove" that I enjoyed. The next track was also decent, but by the end, the wretched vocoder was back.

Rating:   4/15


Janet Bean - Dragging Wonder Lake (2003)

This one came in a box lot. The cover looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a spin. 

The verdict: Wistful Americana. Perfectly pleasant, a little bit sleepy, just not my kind of thing. I was hoping for something a little more quirky. A Randy Newman cover ("God's Song") is disappointing, but then again no one performs like Randy.

Rating:   2/15




Blanche - If We Can't Trust The Doctors (2004)

I can't remember buying this but it comes in a nice digipak (I have a soft spot for digipaks!) and is on the V2 record label. I'm expecting maybe a dynamic pop/rock combo. 

The verdict: Wrong again! Dusky, mandolin ridden folk music with alternating male/female vocal lines. I think I might like this with a few listens. But for now, it doesn't reach out and grab me. The vocals seem to stray too much to the edges of the melody which make it harder to listen to.

Rating: 3/15

Mezzanine Owls - Slingshot Echoes (2006)

I liked the name. And it was cheap. Self-released, so not expecting too much here.

The verdict: Much more like it. Very strong opening with gorgeous guitar lines. In the Coldplay mold perhaps, but doesn't sound too derivative. I listened to the first three tracks all the way through, and had a hard time picking a favorite. Today's clear winner. Excellent production and sound considering it's not on a major label. Well done!

Rating:   11/15                   
http://www.myspace.com/mezzanineowls


Worthy download:   Mezzanine Owls - Coyote

Bonus download:   Medic Droid - Into The Groove (low quality, download the proper version here)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kate Lush, Simian, Let's Get It

I've been mulling over how to get this blog going again in a way that maintains my interest while providing some fresh content and, most importantly, gets me away from the kind of posts that take days to write.

Here's what I've come up with. On the one hand, I have boxes and boxes of CD's that I have acquired one way or another, most of which I plan to sell or trade on. On the other hand, I have very limited time and a fifteen minute commute to work which is about the only time I can settle down and actually listen to anything.

I going to provide lightning reviews of albums selected at random from my boxes. These will mostly be lesser known works from the last decade or so from a bunch of different genres, but to keep things interesting I'm not going to filter anything. So, my 15 minute commute could include several tracks from one album, or several different albums if I really don't like what I'm hearing. I'll select one track to post which is the best I heard and rate the albums based on how much time I actually decided to spend listening to it.

Let's roll the dice and see what happens.

Kate Lush - Don't Wait Too Long (2008)

I picked this one out because it's Australian and produced by Michael Carpenter. I didn't know what to expect but I do like antipodean pop in the style of Neil Finn, Bic Runga, Carla Werner and others.

The verdict: Too bland for my taste. Some tracks might make good soundtrack selections, and there is something of a Crowded House influence in places, and country pop in others. Just nothing special.

Rating:   5/15                         Buy my copy here!



Simian - Chemistry Is What We Are (2001)

This caught my eye because it's on the Astralwerks label and they tend to work with interesting electronic artists, and I noticed they were British. Nice sheep-dog, too.

The verdict: Yuk! I skipped the first track because it took too long to start. I gave the next track a few more seconds, but it was much too ambient with beeps and blips and no discernible structure. By the third track, I was hitting eject. Just not my thing at all.

Rating:   2/15



Let's Get It - Digital Spaces EP (2009)

I got this just because it was a recent release with attractive artwork. I see a lot of albums on the Fearless label and I got the impression they were mostly emo and punk-pop. In other words, I wasn't expecting much from this.

The verdict: A pleasant surprise! I only had time to listen to three of the tracks (there are 6 total) but I liked what I heard. So much going on, but it felt cohesive and interesting. I'll put this on again.

Rating:   11/15                          Check them out here!


Worthy download:   Let's Get It - Duck, Duck, Grey Goose

Download is low quality, for sampling purposes only. If you like it, buy it here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ordinary Man - Goodbye America (1987)

Apparently, I'm the only internet fan of late 80's pop group This Other Eden. Over the last couple of years I've managed to post all three of their singles for A&M, while the remaining tracks from the long lost Freewill album presumably remain locked in the A&M vaults (about time for an iTunes release at least, surely?)

I was intrigued last year by a brief comment I received in an email from Chris Thow, who formed the band with Mike Perry. He mentioned that they had previously released a single for EMI called "Goodbye America" and toured with Go West. I had never heard of this and began to dig around.

I discovered this single by Ordinary Man which was released in 1987 and I had to wait until I tracked down a copy before I could confirm it was the single Chris had referred to. Indeed it was!

Another couple of great tracks.

Ordinary Man - (I Can't Believe It's Come To This) Goodbye America
Ordinary Man - Under Pressure

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Producers - Rare Demo Tape

Here is a cassette tape I found in a box at a record store. At first I thought it was an album advance, but quickly discovered it was an original 1983 demo tape produced for a record label.

After two strong albums, The Producers and You Make The Heat, popular Atlanta power-pop outfit The Producers underwent some personnel changes, as Kyle Henderson (vocals/bass) left for a solo career. As the band searched for a new sound, only two tracks ("Table For One" and "The Boat Song") would appear on their third album Run For Your Life, which they eventually self-released in 1985.

Side One
  1. Begin At The Beginning
  2. Dance On My Heart
  3. World Of Dreams
  4. Table For One
  5. Renaissance
Side Two
  1. The Boat Song
  2. Rain Is Falling
  3. Found Out The Hard Way
  4. Full Circle
Download

Alternative download

For more on the Producers, check out the excellent official fan site.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Glen Burtnick - Talking In Code (1986)

Remembering rare, obscure and just plain interesting vinyl releases from back when a CD meant you had money in the bank...

1. Crank It Up
2. Talking In Code
3. Little Red House
4. Perfect World
5. Hole In My Pocket
6. Brave Hearts
7. Hold Back The Night
8. Talk That Talk
9. Heart On The Line
10. We're Alright

Download

Sunday, February 28, 2010

More on Banderas

I was looking around for what the two members of Banderas (Caroline Buckley and Sally Herbert) have been up to since. Not sure what Caroline has been doing, but Sally has been involved with some of the most important and influential artists of the last few years, including Radiohead, Florence & The Machines, Robbie Williams, Travis, Kylie Minogue, and many more.

She co-wrote this track with Claire Tchaikowski, and I love both the track and the video:



Sally has a MySpace page here.

Banderas - Ripe (1991)

Reposted by request:

Banderas - Ripe



I've also updated all the links at the original post, including several remixes. Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Living In A Material World



Since last fall we've had a lot of fun putting together my daughter's new jazz dance routine. I'm not a massive Madonna fan by any means but "Material Girl" has always been my favorite song of hers, at least in my head. I'd remember the video and the bits I thought were cool. Then I'd play it and remember that the beginning was too slow, there was entirely too many "dilly-o's" and her girlish squealing got really irritating. That and then the song just seemed to go on forever.

Fortunately, in my role as creative music editor, I had the opportunity and the tools to turn all this around for my daughter's dance routine. After being veiled in secrecy for a while, I'm now pleased to introduce you to my own remix. After initially going bonkers and throwing in beeping price scanners, ringing cash registers, and popping camera lightbulbs, I scaled it back a tad and produced what I call the "Megabucks" edit. For a start, it's under three minutes long, as required for competition entries. Then, I took my favorite bit and put it at the beginning, mixed in just enough effects to complement the music and gave it a proper ending. Oh, and that is my voice over an imaginary store intercom.

You can probably tell we invested quite a bit in the costume design and in putting the props together. It all came together very nicely.

Madonna - Material Girl (Megabucks Edit)

I now have a website I created to advertise my custom music projects. It's at www.customdancemusic.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

John Adams - Strong (1987)

As promised here is the solo album by former Private Lives frontman John Adams. It's very dance orientated and typical of the late 80's sound. And he looks very debonair, too.
  1. Strip This Heart
  2. Passion
  3. Strong
  4. Stranger Than Love
  5. Message To Rudi
  6. What Do You Want From Me
  7. No Turning Back
  8. Don't You Think It's Time
  9. Someone To Believe In
  10. Hold Back The Tears
Download

[Update Feb 2013] Download from Putlocker

There was also a solo single released in 1985 which I will post later.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Commando - VI (1987)

Don't know much about Commando except that they are (were?) Swedish and were originally called Commando M. Pigg. This was their sixth album, fairly obviously.
  1. Tracklist:
  2. Shoeshine Boy
  3. Thunder In My Heart
  4. Baby Blue
  5. Blue Moon
  6. Oh Baby
  7. Just Made Love
  8. Roll Away The Stone
  9. Jesus Baby
  10. Tell Me
  11. Lonely And Cold
Download

Personnel:
Eva Sonesson (vocals)
Peter Puders (guitars)
Anders Karlsmark (bass)
Anders Hernestam (drums)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Private Lives - Prejudice & Pride (BY REQUEST)

I've had several requests to re-upload this album. What's held me back is that I don't own the original, and the tracks I have are in various bit-rates and condition. But, seeing as I don't expect to get the album myself anytime soon, here is what I do have.

BREAK THE CHAINS
This one I ripped myself from the 7" single. Ripped at 320 kbps.

FROM A RIVER TO A SEA (EXTENDED MIX)
Found on the internet. Ripped at 192 kbps.

LIVING IN A WORLD (TURNED UPSIDE DOWN)
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

NO CHANCE YOU'LL PAY
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

DON'T WANNA CRY (ANY MORE)
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

BREAK THE WHOLE THING DOWN
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

GOD ONLY KNOWS
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

STOP
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

FROM A RIVER TO A SEA
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

WIN (YOU'VE GOT TO)
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

PREJUDICE & PRIDE
Found on the internet. Ripped at 320 kbps.

LIVING IN A WORLD (EXTENDED MIX)
Found on the internet. Ripped at 148 kbps.

BREAK UP
The B-Side of "Living In A World". Very crackly, I'm afraid. I found it under a tire. Ripped at 320 kbps.

John Adams (writer and lead vocals) is a bit of a dour bloke, isn't he? I'll post his 1987 solo album next if there is any interest. It's a bit more upbeat.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Softly, Softly

Yeah, I'll be back. Thanks for all the encouragement, especially from Matt Fretton and my buds Phil and XOLondon. You guys rock!