Tuesday, 22 December 2009

This year has produced some really strange and cool music videos, here are some of my favourites;

Wow, Matt and Kim won an MTV Music award for this, because, you know, MTV is still relevant in today's society.....
No matter what un-important awards you throw at it, this video is still great, especially the end.

WHY? are a dark, nihilistic sort of band and the first half of this video encapsulates them better than I could ever try to with words. 'A picture speaks a thousand words' - Josef Stalin/Gandhi.

This video reminds me of early Spike Jonze videos with the slow zooming out revealing quite a brilliant end to this video featuring comedian Tim Heidecker.

Grizzly Bear exploding = my pants exploding. (I'm such a high-brow music commentator sometimes.)

Monday, 21 December 2009

2009 Belongs To Pirates

So, 2009. What a fun year! With lots of things happening it's hard to focus on something which will define the year, but to me it will be pirates. Pirates in the sense of swashbuckling and pirates in the sense of downloading Lily Allen without paying (who would pay for that).

I like to think romantically about the notion of pirates still terrorising our seas in these modern, economy obsessed days. But I also like to think the sequel of Cool Runnings will involve the gang starting the first Jamaican-Somalian Pirate ship, it would possibly be the best film ever and it would win all the Oscars, because Daniel Day Lewis would take the part played by John Candy.

However, in actual fact, the pirates are oil tanker sailing desperately poor Somalians and really only kidnap middle-class English people who like to go yachting while on holiday - so the very worst type of person;

Man 1; How did you and your wife's holiday go?
Man 2; Well, we only went and got bloody captured by some of those pirate people!
Man 2; I know, they tied me up and gave Judith a
right good seeing to!
Man 1; Pummeled eh? But it didn't stop your tan!
Man 2; Ya, ya. It was a perfect place to sun. Judith was locked up most of the time, but I bought her some new polo gear and she will be right as rain soon.
Man 1; Not half!

And the pirates look like this:
Oops, I mean, this;

Rather than the type that Johnny Depp plays. Or Blackbeard. Or the one who looks like an octopus.

The issue of music piracy has also been prominent this year due to the prosecution of the owners of the file-sharing website 'The Pirate Bay' (also not real pirates). To be honest I've grown tired of this whole debate and when Lily Allen and Matt Bellamy chimed in, I just thought, 'I really don't care, Lily Allen is an annoying hypocrite chav-wannabe and Bellamy is in Muse and believes in aliens'. So what I'm trying to say is;


With that out of the way, some topical music, the first being one of my favourite songs of 2009, with, this post basically being written as an excuse to post it. The other being by Lambchop, one of my favourite bands ever.

Chris Garneau - No More Pirates

Lambchop - National Talk Like A Pirate Day

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Rarities and B-Sides Saturday

So most blogs seem to have these things called 'features'. Colour me interested, riddle me aroused, I'm going to start doing these 'feature' things!

Every Saturday I am going to look into my Mary Poppins Bag-esque collection of music and find you some nice wee rarities and b-sides to listen to. So here we go:

Animal Collective - Polly (Nirvana cover)

Erm, I don't know how I have this or where it came from but it's quite nice and unusual. Here are some more unreleased tracks from the biggest band of the year;
Animal Collective - Judy Biworker
Animal Collective - Safer
Animal Collective - Kite
Animal Collective - Forest Children Risen
Animal Collective - The Purple Bottle (Stevie Wonder Cover)


Biffy Clyro - Drop It

Ahh, The Biff. This years Only Revolutions (which borrows its title from a great book by Mark Z. Danielewski, who also wrote 'House of Leaves', check them both out) will propel Biffy Clyro into stadiums rather than arenas, and deservedly so. This song was recorded during the Puzzle sessions and can be found on the bonus disk 'Missing Pieces'. It delves into more Bonnie 'Prince' Billy territory, someone who is name checked in 'Saturday Superhouse'; Will Oldham's in the corner moaning "Can't you write
your own lines"


Antlers - Two (live)

Ok, this isn't really a B-side or a rarity but I have to make something abundantly clear; HOSPICE BY THE ANTLERS WAS THE BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR. This live version of 'Two' from Peenko proves it.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Alternative Christmas

At my work we are subjected to listening to some pretty ghastly music, songs I imagine done by people who went to stage school and never quite made it, so ended up on a mix of obscure and awful music pumped into a well-know shop because the people who own the company don't want to pay for Black Eyed Peas or Shakira. One thing even more awful than the regular music they play are the Christmas songs. Popular Christmas singles are usually uninspired at the best of times and now the only thing people are looking forward to is the battle between Rage Against the Machine and that wee guy who won X Factor. No matter how much the word 'anarchy' is banded around to describe the situation, they both stand for the same thing- music that makes me sigh, then shrug, then forget it even exists. If the mass public just looked a little deeper for their Christmas songs they would find that there are several gems to be found in the land of alternative music. Here's something a little different to play on Christmas. Have a Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate. 'Cause you know, secularism!

Slow Club - Christmas TV

Frightened Rabbit - It's Christmas So We'll Stop

Sufjan Stevens - Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!)

There Will Be Fireworks - In Excelsis Deo

Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Leadbelly - Christmas is Comin'

Lindstrom - Little Drummer Boy

Thursday, 17 December 2009

"Hey, let's fuck over Scottish music"-BBC Tastemakers

So last week the 'BBC Sound Of' longlist was posted. This is what it looked like;

Daisy Dares You
The Drums
Everything Everything
Gold Panda
Ellie Goulding
Joy Orbison
Marina and the Diamonds
Owl City
Two Door Cinema Club

Now, I'm not saying the list is bad, predictable perhaps, but not terrible (with exception of the woeful Postal Service rip-offs Owl City). The thing that annoyed me about this list is the lack of Scottish bands represented by these so called 'tastemakers'. As The Pop Cop rightfully pointed out, only 1 out of the 65 'tastemakers' is based in Scotland. Now I may not be a mathematician, or an accountant, or anyone else who counts things...but I do know that this is pretty disproportionate for the amount of great music that comes out of Scotland.

Over the years Scottish bands have been overlooked time and time again, yet prove to be the real 'tastemakers'. For instance, look at Jesus and the Mary Chain, generally overlooked in their hay day but have spawned several copy-cat bands, two of which being England's The XX and The Big Pink who had massive success this year. Bands such as Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad have had to cross the Atlantic to gain recognition from the much more musically open minded Americans (can hardly believe I just said that). The problem with British media is that there is still an overbearing 'style over substance' agenda. The NME still strives to be painfully cool only choosing to acknowledge bands like Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad when they have gained a sizable fan base, keeping it safe. The London media tend to focus on certain trends and fads in music, such as the whole Yorkshire explosion a few years ago with Arctic Monkeys sound-a-likes. The London folk scene with the brilliant Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling has led the media searching for more sound-a-like bands. Perhaps that is where Scottish music scene falls down in the eyes of the Southern media, no two bands sound the same. The 'scene' is so diverse and interesting that it cannot be pigeon-holed and that seems to be too fucking complicated for publications such as NME to comprehend, preferring to focus on the-and I quote- 'cool as fuck' Brooklyn Scene. Sigh.

Let's look at some of the Scottish bands which should have been on the list, I would post pictures of the bands but lets, for once, make this about the fucking music;

Meursault- Possibly the best live band I have seen all year. They never stop astounding me. With their debut 'Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues' viscerally creeping into my brain this year, and their 'Nothing Broke' extended play showing how great they are even when stripped back to acoustics rather than their Casiotone For The Painfully Alone-esque electronica. With a new album being released in March, I hope they finally get the praise they deserve.
Meursault-Red Candle Bulb

The Phantom Band-With every single person in the blogosphere going crazy for Animal Collective this year, it is hard to understand why a band like this were so criminally overlooked. Bringing a sound which is so difficult to describe that I won't even bother. Perhaps had their big year this year, but still, they demonstrate how overlooked pioneering bands from Scotland are.
The Phantom Band-Halfhound

There Will Be Fireworks- The Sound Of list usually likes to pick up on already successful unsigned bands, this years being Joy Orbison. You will be hard pressed to find an unsigned band who sold as many copies as TWBF's self titled album this year, and with a new release next year it is impossible to see them slowing down their momentum. Just wish they would tour more.
There Will Be Fireworks-Foreign Thoughts

eagleowl-eagleowl are a band so achingly beautiful that they seem like you have known them forever. They should release a full-length soon, and if their E.Ps are anything to go by, it will be superb.

Perhaps some one of these bands will be successful this year, and just wait and see how the media will finally pounce on them and stick their claws in when they do. Also, perhaps the next time the BBC makes one of these lists they sound remember what the first letter of their acronym stands for.

Post script; I am not a nationalist!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Review; Moonface-Dreamland E.P

When analyzing music I tend to not to think about the person behind the music, behind the copious monikers, behind the piano howling and yelping with a certain fragility which makes him seem like he could break in pieces at any moment. Yet I feel that Spencer Krug is an artist who needs to be addressed, who deserves to be noticed, and not to be hidden behind whichever mask he is choosing to hide behind. It just so happens that today he is not hidden behind a mask at all, but diving goggles, looking like my pal Sean up there in Thunderball, for the artwork of his new project, Moonface.

I briefly met Spencer Krug in Glasgow in September this year in Stereo's toilet while he was touring with Sunset Rubdown, showcasing one of the best albums of the year, Dragonslayer. I was using a urinal which he was waiting to use, I turned around mid-piss and shouted something unintelligible. Retrospectively, I maybe shouldn't have had quite so many Red Stripes that evening, but Krug was a true gentlemen and answered some drunken questions about Wolf Parade and their new album/tour. He struck me as such a timid soul compared to his music which often softens and roars, perhaps I only seen the quiet side of him.

I feel I should digress. He mentioned on stage that night about the poster advertising Sunset Rubdown as featuring members from Wolf Parade, Frog Legs and Swan Lake. Krug hastily identified that this wasn't fair on the rest of the band, as he was the only member in those bands. This shows the prolific nature of him, yet seldolm does he ever make a bad album with any of the projects he is involved with. Wolf Parade made one of the greatest albums of the decade with 'Apologies to the Queen Mary', with anthemic songs such as 'I'll Believe in Anything' and 'Grounds for Divorce' penned by Krug. His impressive 'side-project' Sunset Rubdown have released some of my favourite albums of the decade with 'Shut Up I am Dreaming' and the aforementioned 'Dragonslayer' taking the quasi-surreal dreamy songs of Krug into a completely different realm. Frog Legs is perhaps his lesser known project, but overlooking 2003's 'The Golden River' would be a massive mistake , as it is perhaps one of Krug's brightest flashes of genius.

His new project Moonface reiterates a common theme which arises in his other bands; dreaming. Dreamland EP; marimba and shit-drums is one single 20 minute track which exposes Krug at his most experimental but also most vulnerable. Perhaps contrasting 'Dragonslayer' which was one of his most accessible albums to date. The lyrics mirror the timid man I encountered in the toilet that night; 'I can breathe under the water, I can hear your muffled laughter I can feel you coming through the walls'. Dreamface is perhaps the most dream-like work of Krugs to date. With the song not conforming to a natural ebb and flow of progressions and patterns, yet conformity is never Krugs' style, preferring to push what is musically comfortable, relying heavily on the marimba in a fashion similar to experimental Icelandic band Amiina relying heavily on unconventional instrumentation. Dreamface ushers in a new moniker for Krug, but the essence and spirit of the Canadian is still evident throughout which leads me to ask if Spencer Krug is the most prolific and talented songwriter of the decade. Moonface surely cements the answer to this question as a massive 'yes'.

Please give a donation at the Moonface site and download the EP, as Spencer Krug has proven this decade to be worth it time and time again.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Scottish Music of the Year Mix

I'm not properly starting this blog 'til the new year. Rather than making a list which would lead to people getting their vaginas in a twist, I have made a mix of the best Scottish releases of 2009. Big Susan seems to enjoy it;

Link below;


Meursault-William Henry Miller Pt. 1
Copy Haho-Pulling Push Ups
There Will Be Fireworks-We Sleep Through the Bombs
Twilight Sad-Seven Years of Letters
Boycotts-Luella & Lies
Frightened Rabbit-Swim Until You Can't See Land
eagleowl-Sleep The Winter
Lord Cut-Glass-Look After Your Wife
Ambulances-What I Thought Of
The Phantom Band-The Howling
Malcolm Middleton-Red Travelin' Socks
Broken Records-If The News Makes You Sad, Don't Watch It
We Were Promised Jetpacks-It's Thunder, And It's Lightening

What have I missed? Apart from the obvious.