Friday, 30 November 2012

Albums for Life: 89: Boo Hewerdine: Thanksgiving

Tell me that a lover's touch 
Is more than nature planting seeds
Oh what am I to believe?
South of here the winter's kinder
So they leave to find fair weather
And how high our spirits rise
On their returning

Blimey, surprisingly this was a toughie.
Almost as tough as Boo looks on the cover.
He's come for the rent?
No! He's given you his heart and soul... and he wants them back!

Trying to choose a top Boo record is a bit like having to decide which of one of your girlfriend's toes you like best; of course they're all beautiful, just slightly misshapen; occasionally corny, sometimes smelly even...
That's possibly why this ranks so ridiculously low; the songs are randomly great but... is there one defining album?
It could have been 'Baptist Hospital' but I always got the feeling that album was a bit of a haven for lost or homeless songs.
And then there's the beauteous 'Anon', I know that Boo holds that one particularly dear, and I too love it as, possibly, his most complete album, but... everything sits pretty and in situ on 'Thanksgiving' so I'm plumping (or is it plumbing?) for it.
It has an acoustic vibe that makes for a homely feast; the strings are lovingly arranged; the whole thing is beautifully understated; it just kind of unwinds...
I've posted a couple of random selections:
First up is the exquisite lead track 'The Birds are Leaving' (possibly my favourite solo Boo song) followed by 'Bell Book and a Candle'; as heard on Emmerdale...
Then I've featured 'Patience of Angels'; it's not on 'Thanksgiving' but it's lovely and the video might guide you to the excellent songwriting circle session that Boo did with Justin Currie and Chris Difford.
I've also attached this photo of the bard without glasses, if only for its shock value.
It'll definitely keep the pigeons off your sprouts...

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Albums for Life: 90: Nine Horses: Snow Bourne Sorrow

It's a day full of dreams
It's a dream of a day

One of the benefits of David Sylvian having so many side projects is that I can pick this and also have one of his solo albums in my list. 
Sylvian described Nine Horses as  "a disembodied band". 
The album was made in 2005 with his brother Steve Jansen (ex Japan), the excellently named electronica guru Burnt Friedman, and featured guest appearances from Ryuichi Sakamoto, singer Stina Nordenstam and trumpeter Arve Henriksen. 

With 'Snow Bourne Sorrow', all of the usual Sylvian signposts apply: 'haunting beauty' 'ground breaking', 'style fusing', yet there's a warmth to the production and fat jazz chords that makes it one of his most accessible works; particularly relevant as the project was shelved in deference to Sylvian's quirky, spartan, borderline bonkers 'Blemish'.
This can be a challenging album too, if you want to really concentrate on it. Alternatively you can switch off and just wallow in its wonderful warmth.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Free Music: Over the Rhine & Rachael Yamagata

You might remember my 'Albums for Life' piece on Over the Rhine's 'Drunkard's Prayer'.
You've probably also noticed that I've recently made 'Ghost of Song' available through NoiseTrade as a free download.
Over the Rhine have just done the same thing with their lovely Xmas album 'Snow Angels'.
You can get it gratis here at NoiseTrade.
Another recommended freebie is Rachael Yamagata's 'Noisetrade Loft Sessions Mixtape' which is delicate piano balladry at its best.
You can, of course, still get 'Ghost of Song' here, or by clicking the button on the right... fill yer boots!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Quietus: Baker's Dozen

I seem to be mining the rich vein that is The Quietus of late (notwithstanding the execrable Mr Agr**able).
'Baker's Dozen' will resonate with those of us who are pontificating over our favourite albums here and elsewhere.
Here's an interview with Scottish novelist Ian Rankin, a man known for peppering his plots with musical references. He's asked by the tome to choose his 'Bakers' Dozen'; his favourite 13 albums; something he found "really really difficult. Who are you going to leave off that list? As somebody who has been listening to music for over 40 years, and collecting albums, there are thousands and thousands of things I would have included given the chance. I thought which albums would be like a diary of my life. Albums that I can listen to over and over again, but that also resonate with me, for the stories behind them."
Sound familiar?

If Rankin's Throbbing Gristle/Hawkwind/Bowie rousing racket doesn't appeal you could do worse than have a look at Beth Orton's familiar folky fare in the same series...

Hell, to stop me being lazy and regurgitating ad hoc, access all of the (mainly) fascinating lists here:

Monday, 26 November 2012

Albums for Life: 91: Gorecki: Symphony No 3

These are songs of loss, but they are also songs of hope. 
Music of compassion and tenderness.
There's a lot of repetition; its cyclical nature makes the whole thing quite hypnotic; a balm of calming melancholy. It has a similar effect as Barber's Adagio for Strings; there's a quiet strength in the beauty of the strings of the first movement that is both sombre and uplifting. I've been listening to this for 20 years now and the intensity in its slow build, from almost silence to climax, is still overwhelming; I'm a sucker for emotional music and this always packs a holy punch. 
I rushed to buy this when it was re-packaged on CD in 1992. I guess that I was as culpable as others to the marketing; this 'sorrowful music' made us happy in its sadness. Background music for meaningful dinner parties...
Once I learnt the background to the genesis of the composition the music took on a greater gravity.
Excuse me for mining Wikipedia for this... I wanted to get it right.

The Symphony No. 3, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, is in three movements.
A solo soprano sings a different Polish text in each of the three movements. The first is a 15th-century Polish lament, the second a message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third a Silesian folk song of a mother searching for her son killed in theSilesian uprisings. 
The first and third movements are written from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child, and the second movement from that of a child separated from a parent. The dominant themes of the symphony are motherhood and separation through war. 
Górecki learned of an inscription scrawled on the wall of a cell of a Gestapo prison in southern Poland. The words were those of 18-year-old Helena Wanda Błażusiakówna, a highland woman incarcerated on 25 September 1944. It read "Oh Mamma do not cry—Immaculate Queen of Heaven support me always"
The composer recalled, "I have to admit that I have always been irritated by grand words, by calls for revenge. Perhaps in the face of death I would shout out in this way. But the sentence I found is different, almost an apology or explanation for having got herself into such trouble; she is seeking comfort and support in simple, short but meaningful words". He later explained, "In prison, the whole wall was covered with inscriptions screaming out loud: 'I'm innocent', 'Murderers', 'Executioners', 'Free me', 'You have to save me'—it was all so loud, so banal. Adults were writing this, while here it is an eighteen-year-old girl, almost a child. And she is so different. She does not despair, does not cry, does not scream for revenge. She does not think about herself; whether she deserves her fate or not. Instead, she only thinks about her mother: because it is her mother who will experience true despair. This inscription was something extraordinary. And it really fascinated me."

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday Morning Blue: Sean Rowe

Here's a new voice to me.
Maybe one beard too far for David at COS...
Sean Rowe has a treacly baritone; his new album 'The Salesman and the Shark' has enough rough edges to temper the swoonsome balladry.
This spartan session reveals his voice beautifully.
The only other accompaniment this soggy overhung morn needs is black coffee with no milk or sugar and porridge with salt.
After last night's misbehavior I deserve nothing more...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Albums For Life: 92: Angus & Julia Stone: Down the Way

'Heart of Gold' came on the radio
Mr Young made me cry
A skinny Devon girl made the bluebirds sing
She blew my mind...

I'm following the lead of Seamus over on Vapour Trails.
Here is an album that has leapt straight into my list.
All I know of this revelation is that they're Australian siblings and this was made in 2010.
I know it's unwise; I'll probably tire of it by the end of the weekend but... the initial feeling that it's all a bit hippy dippy stoner despair is banished by their alternate vocal takes; there's a restraint in the intensity; a simplicity to the arrangements that shows great focus.
I guess that the brother/sister vibe denies the songs the sexual frisson that made the Civil Wars album so compelling, but there is a warm glow of benevolent bliss that inhabits the songs; it reaches out and very gently squeezes your heart.
You kind of know what you're going to get by the bleached sepia presentation of everything; but sometimes you need exactly what you want...
This shimmery delight could easily become one of my favourite campfire albums.

If I were wearing a suit I'd split them up, get him a shave, get her a blonde rinse and double my money.
Let's hope they resist that inevitable dilemma...
I look forward to getting to know them better.
Here's a selection from a fine session that show them at their understated best.
Great harmonies.
Interesting choice of a cover...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lovesong: Anthony D'Amato: Skeleton Key/Hank Williams Tune

I'm making the most of the Thanksgiving holiday by multi-tasking: sitting in the Cinnamon Chair in my undies and last night's t-shirt, reading Carver, drinking strong coffee, growing a luxuriant beard and watching Di dance to Led Zep turned up to '11'. Tonight's whisky bottle (half full; Japanese) winks at me from the shelf.
A bacon butty beckons.
Pigs in shit come to mind...

Meanwhile, on winsome street; I know nothing of this young troubadour other than he's doing a session on today's Ricky Ross show on BBC Radio Scotland and that I like these 2 tunes.
The competition's getting stiffer, and they've all got firmer jaw lines that they insist on hiding behind bushy beards.
Are beards the new tattoo?
I need to get me a Davy Crockett hat!
Read Ricky Ross's Blog here for more info...

Thursday, 22 November 2012

'Albums for Life' AND 'Toronto Tim Says': 93: Gretchen Peters: Hello Cruel World

Here's where I hand over to Canadian friend Tim Patrick.
He's waxing lyrical about Gretchen Peters.
Kind of freaky as I was listening to this album as his email landed. 
I sometimes wonder if he has a one way Skype thing going on...
I know 'Hello Cruel World' well and endorse Tim's enthusiasm so much that I'm presenting it as a kind of 2 for 1 deal. 
You get 'Albums for Life' and 'TT Says' in one hit.
I also recommend the album that Peters made with Tom Russell, 'One to the Heart, One to the Head'.
There's a fine intro' to her work; the compilation 'Circus Girl'.
She lives on the same street as the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin; it sounds mainstream but there is a keenness to the narratives; an underlying tenderness to the domestic dramas that is strangely compelling; it's like being lectured and lullabied by a motherly matron with an MA in 'Maudlin' and a penchant for chocolate and Cheever.
One song? 
Try 'Breakfast At Our House' which for some reason was left off 'Circus Girl'.

Here's Toronto Tim:

One of my favorite albums of 2012, Gretchen Peters' "Hello Cruel World" blurs genres of country/folk/americana/pop. Her dark, narrative character sketches of flawed humans are rich with poetic imagery and searing honesty.

"Idlewild" is one of the finest pieces of songwriting I've heard in awhile. There is a profound allegory here that reminds me of the of Joe Henry's equally potent "Our Song". Both couple very personal experiences, whilst presenting a biting assessment of American arrogance and loss of direction. 

They're in the front seat, he's got the radio low
And the moon hangs over Idlewild as the planes touch down
He is talking but she's not listening
She is thinking of her father, who died when she was young

I'm in the back seat, they think I'm sleeping
But I am listening for the cracks between their voices in the dark
We are a family, we are a shipwreck
And we're picking up my grandma who is getting very old

And they think she's dying
But I think she's laughing
I think she's riding Halley's Comet from Fort Lauderdale to here
But when I see her
I'll keep her secret
We all have our secrets that we keep inside ourselves

They built this airport but in a few years
They'll name it after Kennedy, the one who died today
And he will leave her, and she will suffer
And they will never really know each other at all

They think we're driving
But I know we're drifting
They think we're off on some adventure where the hero saves the day
We think we're special
We think we're golden
We think we're walking on the moon but we are dancing in the dark

We shoot our rockets, we shoot our presidents
We shoot the commies and the niggers and the Vietcong
Everything changes, everything stays the same
And the moon hangs over Idlewild as the planes touch down,

"Five Minutes" simple portrayal of a waitress on a cigarette-break reflecting on the humdrum and heartbreak of a squandered life can't help but be moving in it's stark realism. 

"Little World" is a little more hopeful yet still just as rooted, with a Springsteen "Secret Garden" vibe that is lovely. 

"St. Francis", "Natural Diaster", "The Matador" are all masterful. 

Her back-catalogue contains some fine gems as well, mixed amongst some more twangy tunes; several that she crafted and were made hits by Nashville's glitterati. 
Have a listen to a very fine singer-songwriter...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Chimney Tops And Trumpets: Visions Of The Blue Nile

I listened to remaster of The Blue Nile's 'A Walk Across the Rooftops' last night. My excitement at its unveiling was diminished somewhat by the luxuriant packaging's mauling, done by the postman's undaunted enthusiasm in (eventually) cramming a double pack of double CDs (I got 'Hats' also) through our tiny letter box.
I'd hate to be his wife...
Slight gripes aside, what of the much anticipated re-imagining?
It's great, much improved; there's a new richness to the icy beauty; the bells are brighter; the bass is fuller. The fullness does make Buchanan's voice recede a little, but it's still a lovely thing. My current high points are the clipped guitars that have emerged from 'Heatwave' and the chocolaty sound that coats the bass intrusions in the title track.
The extra CD gives us some bright re-mixes and a couple of well known lost gems, the pick of which is 'Regret'; it's worth the price of the album for the heavenly reverb on the song's vocal; amazing to think that it's nearly 30 years old...
It's 'Hats' tomorrow.
I'll give you a shout when I've digested it all.
Meanwhile, here's a piece in 'The Quietus' by Wyndham Wallace; well worth reading:
Chimney Tops and Trumpets

And if you're overwhelmed by the love fest' why not slide down the happy ladder to read this hateful 'Quietus' review of the new 'Mumford and Sons' album from a certain 'Mr Agreeable'....
Babel or babble?
Will you buy him a beer or bottle him?
Mr Agr**able reviews 'Babel'

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Free Download of 'Ghost of Song'

It seems that music is no longer legal tender.
We're all giving it away.
The way to make a living out of music these days is gigs and t-shirt sales apparently.
I'm currently on a one gig every five year rotation and the only t-shirt of interest that I have to offer is a black Marks & Spencer thermal 'V' neck that's a little tight around the mid-riff.
Cash offers or swapsies...
As you can see from the disfiguring banner above right, you can now download 'Ghost of Song' for free.
You can make 'donations' I believe but I'll leave that to you and your conscience...
The real hope is that you good folk might start connecting this site (or my download page on the mother site 'NoiseTrade') with your mates via Twitter/Facebook/Email etc.
Christ, my lips are moving but I don't really know what I'm saying...
Maybe you could all assist me by just doing that networking thing...
All help would be much appreciated.

Jimmy Saville & Elvis. Salem's Lot?

I've just been reading a Sunday Times book review by Christopher Hart on Richard Bradford's 'THE ODD COUPLE: The Curious Friendship Between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin' which details the relationship between the writer and the poet by focussing on the letters they exchanged.
Theirs was a famous literary friendship based "on a shared love of jazz, poetry and sexual confession".
There was much talk of 'young girls':

"Pubescent, but only just, was their agreed ideal: the 12-16 age group. Nowadays such feelings are classed as 'paedophilia' although perhaps we ought to revive the neglected word 'ephebophilia' (love of youth) here. It's tricky territory in today's Salem, 1692-type atmosphere admittedly. Perhaps both writers should be put on some post-mortem Jimmy Saville register along with Elvis, Edgar Allan Poe, Romeo and quite a few others."

Mmm, it's the 'perhaps' that concerns me.
Although not exactly endorsing the writers' misbehavior our reviewer does seem to be waggling a sympathetic ear and gives an amusing account of Amis's wife writing on his chest with lipstick as he lay sleeping on a beach "One Fat Englishman. I f*** anything"
Uncomfortable reading...
'Tricky territory' indeed.
Maybe it's time to change my choice of newspaper...
Or is Hart simply reminding us that, as times change, so do our attitudes to taboo subjects?
Lest we forget...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Albums for Life: 94: Gavin Bryars: Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet

This is probably the least played album on my list (it sends Di running for the hills). 
I've always craved music that moves me.
I love a sad song.
'Jesus Blood...' goes far beyond the possibility of saccharine song.
This is no design, no calculated creation; it is rooted in real life.
It's not an easy listen but I never cease to be profoundly moved by it. 
The first time I heard it I was knocked sideways by its potency. 
It turned me inside out; made me ashamed to court sentimentality; there's something almost voyeuristic in the listening; I still find it impossible to sit through without welling up and making seal noises; probably the reason that it gathers so much dust...
The back story is well told by composer Gavin Bryars:

"In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song - sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads - and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.
When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song - 13 bars in length - formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.
I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism."

The album contains various versions; small orchestra/large orchestra etc.
I've included a fairly intimate arrangement including an oddly compelling 'duet' with wannabe hobo, Tom Waits...
Please be sure you're in a quiet room when you listen.
If it's your first time it deserves your best attention.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Albums for Life: 95: Chris Wood: Handmade Life

I must admit that my introduction to English folk has been a gentle one. Scotland and Ireland had always provided an authentic Celtic edge that seemed to make their music resonate outside of chauvinist rhetoric. The likes of Christy Moore, Jackie Leven and latterly, Kris Drever, Lau and Karine Polwart, all seemed to bridge the gap between the ancient and the modern with language that rang true. When it came to English folk banging on about princes, frogs and throbbing breasts in Camalot I was invariably left cold. And then there were the 'proud' historians, singers in tank tops who postulated in thin reedy voices with their fingers in their ears, like social studies teachers training up prospective BNP intellectuals for an appearance on Question Time.
I've always loved the voices and songs of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny but my knowledge of more traditional English folk started with the gentle songs of Kate Rusby. This Yorkshire lass charmed me, without embarrassment, into the world of courting Lords and Ladies; here was someone proud of her heritage who understood the need for these songs to speak as historical documents; but also to endure as works of art. They spoke of ordinary people too, commoners with all of the recognizable human strengths and weaknesses; affected by the mundanities and injustices that blight any generation. Rusby guided me with her recommendations; I checked out Nic Jones's 'Peguin Eggs' and found it a lovely thing, was then introduced to the clan of the mighty Martin Carthy.

And yet there was always something about the tone of the voices; an earnest, affected nasal intonation which suggested that the world of our ancestors was a Vic free vicinity. Eventually I found a voice that bridged the hay nonny divide for me. Even though Chris Wood is rooted in the traditionalist fare of folk (he cites his biggest influence as 'Anon') his was an eye that observed both traditional and modern worlds and spoke about them in canny, heavenly yet devilishly conceived, understatements.  I was listening to 'The Imagined Village' record and heard Wood singing 'Scarborough Fair'. He invested the old chestnut with such delicate passion that it was re-invented as a modern love song. I sought out an anthology of his stuff; the excellent 'Albion', which includes a song/story 'One in a Million' and wept with Marcus as we listened to it together. Marcus is a bluff Yorkshireman and this was a song set in a fish and chip shop...
I then sought out his latest album. 'Handmade Life' is chock full of wide eyed wonder and intellectual curiosity, chock full of narratives; heartbreaking, historical; there's political comment, there's even a love song to asparagus! Sure, there's mention of Spitfires and allotments but the muse and musicianship is diddly dee free. These are tender tales, tethered by actuality. Wood carves his songs so delicately and presents them so gently that you are often startled by their candor. Witness 'Hollow Point', a deconstruction of the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. 
I've read this dismissed as "music for soppy old gits in semi-retirement" and there is something comforting about the warmth of the delivery, but there's no codgy, cosy contentment here; this is modern music guided by ancient wisdom; sung in a warm and wondrous, all enveloping tenor, that would put a shiver up the stiffest of backs and warm the cockles of the most frigid modernist.
The solo performances below give the impression of a talented folk singer. 
You need to hear the album's haunting ambience to gauge the true quality of the man's vision; he has a keen ear; a keener eye.
All life is here in 'Handmade Life'. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday today.
My first present was all wet and wrinkly (see right).
Not pleasant...
Meanwhile, I'm sitting here waiting for the postman to deliver all of your cards and (more importantly) cheques.
I'd like to thank you in advance for your kindness.
It's nice to have such generous friends.
Meanwhile, here below is a photo of the the two eccentrics who are responsible for my God like genius.
Meet Betty and Terry.
As you can see I have my mother's hair: my father's dress sense and smarts.
I certainly know my onions...

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Albums for Life: 96: Danny Wilson: Meet Danny Wilson

Everything is wonderful
Being here is heavenly

Deacon Blue are named after my favourite Steely Dan song and there's often talk of the Dan influence on Scottish Band's of the 80s. The clipped clarity of the arrangements seemed to counterpoint the imperfect lives that the rough edged voices were singing about; a winning combination...
'Meet Danny Wilson' was heralded by the release of 'Mary's Prayer' as a single; every radio station at the time recognized a classic when they heard it and when the album was released there was the hope of an album full of such quality. We weren't disappointed. There were no rough edges here. Kicking off with the wonderful 'Davy' and meandering through the obligatory rain swept streets of Aberdeen and Dundee, on through the working week towards the release of the weekend and 'Ruby's Golden Wedding', this was an album packed with winning tunes and wide eyed optimism; all presented by a wonder voice from nowhere. Gary Clarke's irresistible croon was part pub singer, part Sinatra and he sang to us about the joys and disappointments of a parochial life.
Sure, the gated drums and DX7 samples have not aged well but at the time, this album, alongside 'Rainsound', 'Rattlesnakes' and 'Walking the Ghost Back Home', was a fount of influence for the then live Miracle Mile. Back then in the late 80s there were four or five songs that shaped my ambitions with the band: Deacon Blue's 'Dignity', Lloyd Cole's 'Are you Ready to be Heartbroken', 'Graceland' by The Bible, anything by the Prefabs and the song below. Whenever I hear 'Mary's Prayer' I smell damp flats, patchouli oil, musty Oxfam stage clothes and remember the joy of getting changed into our dead men's suits for gigs in pub bogs; standing on bricks to keep the turn ups of our pleated pants out of the pools of piss.
Glory days indeed...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Albums For Life: 97: The Finn Brothers: Everyone Is Here

"Talking with my brother when the lights went out
Down the hallway forty years ago
And what became much harder was so easy then
Opening up and letting go
Talking to each other as we wait for sleep
The angel in the detail soon arrives
Spreading her wings over every memory
And keeping all our hopes alive" 

It's fairly well known that Tim and Neil Finn's brotherhood is a difficult one. Initially Neil joined his brother's band Split Enz before he left to form Crowded House. In the early 90's they started work on a Finn brothers album that eventually formed songs for 'Woodface', Crowded House's most successful and acclaimed album. Tim seemingly left with a flea in his ear shortly afterwards.
They have remained close but continue to be openly critical of each other. Neil noted "being a perfectionist, to me, is wanting it to be as absolutely as good as it possibly can and leaving no stone unturned. There's a lot of love there and I'm just grateful to have a brother."
Tim recognizes this: "There is rivalry, but it seems to work, like when we get together and play we push each other because he digs what I do and I dig what he does, so there's a lot of respect. When we're together its like fireworks, it just sparks."

Although Tim Finn's self titled album is great, 'Everyone is Here' is, for me, the strongest set of songs that the two have ever done outside of Crowded House. There's a focussed feeling of resignation throughout that gives the whole thing a melancholic twist; the songs touch on aging and loss with subtlety and grace. 'Disembodied Voices' and 'A Life Between Us' sees the brothers addressing their past imperfect; there's the perfect pop of the opener 'Won't Give In' but the highlight of all highlights is the end piece; the sublime 'Edible Flowers'.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Albums for Life: 98 Lisa Hannigan: Passengers

This completes this week's haunting of Hannigan.
Produced by Joe Henry, 'Passengers' endorsed the promise shown  on her debut 'Seasaw'.
Here are two sides of the lovely Lisa; the refined elegance of the official video of 'Little Birds' preceded by the live, howling vocal gymnastics of 'Home' done campfire style.
Click here to connect to the high res video of 'Home'; she rocks, but gently.
I've also included (at the bottom of the page) one in her video series of 'Recording Diaries' that shows the recording of 'Home'.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

'Trev the Tree' and 'Shy Di'

And after listening to all of that autumnal moody Sylvian stuff Di and I took a walk in the woods above our house.
Can you spot the difference between me and a tree?
Best answer gets a free CD.
(I have a few...)
I then snapped the snapper who, as you can see, was an unwilling subject...

Sunday Morning Blue: David Sylvian: I Surrender: Wonderful World

If compilations were allowed to feature in my 'Albums for Life' David Sylvian's 'Victim of Stars' would feature high.
It's a treasure trove of the man's gorgeous work.
He may no longer be The Most Beautiful Man in the World but his profile's never been higher in this house.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Albums for Life: 99: Over the Rhine: Drunkard's Prayer

You're my water
You're my wine
You're my whiskey from time to time

I've recently brought the latest album by Over the Rhine.
'The Long Surrender" is a lovely thing; beautifully produced by the brilliant Joe Henry.
I'm not sure if it's up there with 'Ohio' or the sublime 'Drunkard's Prayer'; only time will tell.
The art work is luxurious; had me thinking "now here's a band with a budget".
Then I read in one of the two included booklets a list of 1000 folk who had contributed to the recording costs.
I'm sure that the much in demand Joe Henry doesn't come cheap.
It reminded me of my recent notes about Lloyd Cole requesting $100 a head from a fan base of 'Executive Producers'.
Seems that a few of you have been involved in helping out your struggling heroes; laudable if they are indeed struggling.
I was reading some American reviews of the album and found this interesting thread; it gets a little vinegary in places but kind of echoes my reservations about the idea.

I get that if it's done well, handled honorably, it could strengthen the bond between a band and its audience. Speaking with friends within the music world it seems that it's becoming more common.
Who knows, if I can come up with a way of humbly reaching out to you; touching you up without stitching you up; you may well be receiving that thoughtfully worded plea sooner rather than later.
Times are hard so brace yourselves...

Meanwhile, back to the music; there's a whiff of The Cowboy Junkies in the world weary delivery; although this seems more substantial. It's more about the sound than the sometimes insubstantial nature of the songs. Maybe the songs are rendered thus by the etherial nature of their presentation; but what presentation! I've always thought that Bersgquist's voice sounded like a sober Lucinda Williams (respect to Williams as I know that she's mainly dry, but her drawl does suggest a penchant for hooch) and blow me, she turns up hollering on the new album... 
If you don't know their stuff have a listen to this beauty; 'Born' from 2005's 'Drunkard's Prayer'. 
The album was apparently recorded in their home with a stripped down band and helped save Karen Bergquist and Linford Detweiler's troubled relationship. They both look a little 'troubled' above...
Is it me or does anyone else think that Linford looks like he's stuck paper eyes on the lenses of his glasses?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Please God, let it be so...

Apparently not photoshopped.
Priceless fouled up photo opportunity from Mitt's privileged clan...
Any other possible variations?

Lovesong: Lisa Hannigan: The Livestream Sessions

If you have a spare 45 minutes have a look at this intimate performance by Lisa Hannigan.
Seems that I'm stalking her this week but... how good is she?