Saturday, 24 May 2014


cover art
Here I hand over the page to the enthusiasms of Tim Patrick from Canada. 
Toronto Tim Says:
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are a young Brooklyn-based indie-rock band whose first two albums rated highly on journo's year end Top 20 lists of 2009/2011. However, my impression was mostly one of general indifference to the noisy, wall of sound type of sonics that seemed to emulate shoegaze bands like Ride/My Bloody Valentine/Stone Roses.
OK, but not my cuppa...
So, based on previous releases, 'Days Of Abandon' is one that I almost turned the page on, without even giving it a chance. But I'm pleased that I gave it a quick sample, since it's a pretty impressive collection of dreamy indie "pop"... with stress on the "POP". Unfortunately, the new album seems to be polarizing some of the critics, many of whom prefer the clangor and crunch of the early releases versus the catchy, jangly melodies of the new one. Love it or hate it, I'll take their new smoothed edges direction any day. Think of bands like Stars, The Sundays, Smiths, The Cure (at their catchiest), maybe a dash of Belle & Sebastian tweeness...
DAYS OF ABANDON may not be ground-breaking or edgy enough for some in the crowd, but a good healthy dose of warm, sunny tunes always does me good. 
Smugness be damned!
I can't even pick a favorite song, not a clunker to be found. 
Turn off your brain & just soak in the blissful pop sunshine…

Kelly (live):

Life After Life (live):

TPOBPAH official website:

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


cover art
Here I hand the pages over to Tim Patrick from Toronto. 
I tried to host all of the videos but they froze my screen so, please just click on the links. 
I have the album and agree with Tim, it's a fine album. 
It also led me to his two books, an autobiography 'Patient' and the story of his parents troubled life together 'Romany and Tom':

Toronto Tim Says:

Ben Watt's new solo album 'Hendra' has arrived 
I'd heard a couple of promising clips earlier, and David (Friend Of Rachel Worth & former blogmeister of the sorely missed Cathedrals Of Sound) had mentioned that it's his 'Album Of The Year' (so far), so I was eager to give it a spin. I must say that Dave was right. 'Hendra' is excellent... I'm so glad Watt has put "DJ-Disco Ben" on the back-burner, and gone back to his roots. This seems like continuation of his last solo album 31 years ago - 'North Marine Drive' mixed with a dash of his more successful band Everything But the Girl (with sidekick/wife Tracey Thorn).

Musically, this is classy record. Warm, clean electric guitars played by Watt and collaborator Bernard Butler, gentle Fender Rhodes/Hammond, a steady rhythm section and occasional shadings of synth. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour stops by to add some tasteful slide guitar on the breathtakingly lovely "The Levels". Ben's voice sounds richer and stronger than ever.

It's also a very personal, contemplative record. Watt explains on his blog: 
"Lyrically, I definitely wanted to write a bunch of unsentimental songs. I wanted to write a set of songs that were very true. My sister, who I was very close to, died, quite unexpectedly. She was only 58. It all came to head, and I wanted to get some of this stuff down. It’s quite dark emotionally, but I always think I write songs about some form of resilience. There is some form of hope, even in the darker moments. I’m always looking for that in the characters in the songs. They have a tough exterior, even if they have a soft interior." 

The songs? There are so many good ones. Let's begin with the one that breaks my heart every time I hear it ... 

"THE LEVELS" -  A simple tune with a powerful, haunting lyric. One of those "dart to the heart" songs, such as: "Family Life", "Sister Song", "Mid-Air", "If I Fall Behind" that evoke empathy and emotion, and leave an immortal wound on the listener. The lyric tells a poignant story - with utter honesty and grace. I dare you not to be moved. Especially after you hear the inspiration behind the song... 
Ben reveals: "The song is set in the low-lying area of the Somerset Levels. It was where my sister got married in 2004. The song is about how we deal with loss. She died unexpectedly in 2012. I wrote it for her husband..."


The estate agent's been over, I've resurfaced the driveway
I'm setting flowers out on the pavement, made it nice round the place
I'm up for selling the business, my heart isn't in it 
Without your face over the counter, without your face

Some nights I drive out on the levels
Through the village, past the church where we got married
And I can see for miles

Out there is the future, what's this standing in my way?
Right now it's my past, and it's not moving forth

Some nights I'm out there on the levels
And the ditches and the fields are flooded by the river
And I can see for miles

And I know its only daylight that we all walk through
And everyone has wounds that heal with time
And I'll get over mine 

Some nights I'm out there on the levels
And we're talking like we used to
But it's me who does the talking
And I'll be out there for a while

And I can see for miles...

- The Levels (live w/ David Gilmour on pedal steel): 

"YOUNG MAN'S GAME" - a candid ballad of soul-searching, regret and surrender; reflecting on his journey from DJ/clubber to middle-aged Dad/husband, admitting: "I'm not as good as I used to be, with the late nights, now just look at me, I'm staking a claim at the young man's game tonight" and asking: “Every mirror just tells the time - Can you name a great fighter over 45?” "Should I act this out, or act my age, tonight?" 

"GOLDEN RATIO" - probably the closest reminder of the elegant bossanova /jazz vibe that EBTG excel at. Bernard Butler guitar-playing shines.

"FORGET" - Breezy mid-tempo ditty reminds me a little of Lloyd Cole for some reason. Maybe the self-loathing... "Who am I fooling, when I say I have no regrets. You can push things to the back of your mind, but you can never forget..." 

"HENDRA" - the moving title track, inspired by the dreams of his late sister, a rural postmistress and shopkeeper... 

There are five more fine tracks on 'Hendra'... Notably “Matthew Arnold’s Field” where Watt travels to scatter his father’s ashes near Oxford. Only one possible misstep - "The Gun" which is an anti-gun rant that just seems out of place with the nature/flow of the record. Sorry, I have a pet peeve about being preached at...  

Overall, a very special record. I rate it 8/10. 
Let's hope Mr. Watt doesn't wait for another 30 years before another solo release...

Ben Watt official website:

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Macwood Fleet's 'Albums of 2014': To the Bone

To The Bone is beautiful, delicate, like whispers in the wind or that glimpse from the corner of your eye. It draws you in and seduces you with both sounds and words. It's Trevor Jones' most simple and perhaps honest record - emotions stripped down 'to the bone' and the stripped down feel to the album compliment the music perfectly.
If you hear a more beautiful album this year then I'll eat my Marshall gigging cap.

Chuffed to relate that 'To the Bone' has made Macwood Fleet's 'Albums of 2014' list.
A compliment coming from a man who is steeped in music.
Pre release is always a nervous time, so it's gratifying to know that the album is resonating with folk.
Sir Macwood Fleet is actually Nick Baker; a Welshman with a big hat, a big heart and a bigger record collection than Whispering Bob. He knows his onions does Nick so, again, that magnifies the compliment.
Read the review on his fine blog here.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Happy Girls are Prettiest: Happy Birthday Audrey: 85 Today

I believe in pink. 
I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. 
I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. 
I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. 
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. 
I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.

I'm not a lustful man.
But, if asked to name the most gorgeous woman ever to grace the silver screen there is but one.
Grace Kelly would be a not very close second to Audrey Hepburn.
Simply stunning and stunningly simple in her approach to life.

The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Lovesong: Andrew Bird

"Sound is a wave, like a wave on the ocean
The moon plays the ocean like a violin
Pushing and pulling from shore to shore
Biggest melody you never heard before"

This morning I am mostly listening to Andrew Bird.
There's a charm, grace and subtlety to his work that is beguiling. He seems to be able to put his hand to anything; it must be difficult for him to concentrate such are his array of talents.
Songwriter, singer, violinist, and, outside of that blackbird outside, the best whistler in town.
There's a little bit of Rufus Wainwright in the arch knowingness, although where Rufus now seems keen to just show off his glorious talent, Bird always seems focussed on his muse.
He gets straight to the heart of the matter.
Clever and far from bloodless...
I love all of his albums, particularly 'Noble Beast' and 'Armchair Apocrypha' but this morning I'm sitting with his latest release, 'I Want to See Pulaski at Night'.
Although I admire him because he seems to love words almost as much as music, this work is mainly instrumental. There are whiffs of the Penguin Orchestra in it's jerky, quirky instrumentations.
Yet it's the love of sweet cyclic melody that marks Bird out.
Here's 'Pulaski at Night' live; just to show you that he's not just a studio bird. 
Please note that the album uses a full orchestra; but there's no orchestra here.
This is the sound made by two musicians...

If you don't know his work try these as a taster of his earlier stuff.
I don't want to swamp you but these are well worth the wade.
A live version of 'Oh No' from 'Noble Beast' followed by 'Imitosis' a track from 'Armchair Apocrypha'. Then a live performance of 'Desperation Bleeds' from 'Break it to Yourself'.
Finally there's the first two songs that I ever heard of his; 'Savoy' and 'Happy Birthday Song' from his debut 'Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs'.
And then… last but not least, and please, listen to the last one, 'Night Sky' which is sweet lullaby.
The lyric heads this piece but is worth repeating.

"Sound is a wave, like a wave on the ocean
The moon plays the ocean like a violin
Pushing and pulling from shore to shore
Biggest melody you never heard before"

Straight to the heart of the matter.
Clever and far from bloodless...