Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekender : via the magic of scheduled posting

- Another slow old week in CD releases, which suits us as we're not looking to make this too long this week. CSS have become a second division makeweight nu-Britpop band, Liam Finn is much better live, Primal Scream have stopped bothering with all that pushing forward business. It fills us with inertia. Oh, yeah, Bedazzled's out, the soundtrack to the ace Pete'n'Dud film - let's pretend that other one doesn't exist, OK - which we understand was only very briefly made available on CD a few years ago until being withdrawn due to wrangles with Dudley Moore's estate. It's alleged the original vinyl LP now changes hands at over £300. Most of it is jazz-lite from Moore's Trio, but the songs from the pop star scene are present and correct. Singles? Good ones too - the majesty of Fleet Foxes' White Winter Hymnal, the multitasking lo-fi pop heartfulness of The Voluntary Butler Scheme's debut EP Trading Things In, the so-angular-it's-star shaped Now This Will Take Two Hands EP by Maths Class and MJ Hibbett & the Validators' tale of love in the IT office It Only Works Because You're Here.

MYSPACE INVADERS: Those who remember the far too great minutiae of this blog may remember our featuring a band called Alexandria Quartet near enough this time last year, referring to them as "either dealing in poetic folk balladry or... trousers-on-fire railing against the day's ills". With that sort of write-up from this quarter only one thing was going to happen to them, and sure enough they split before 2007 was done (their name since swiped by a Norwegian band who've played some shows over here this week). Singer Adam Donen promptly had some sort of breakdown, in rehabilitation from which he started writing more orchestral, melodramatic songs. These became the bedrock of Adam Donen And The Drought, which takes those same qualities - they still remind us a little of Whipping Boy, and there's a re-recorded Alexandria Quartet song on the player - and allies them to a greater soundscape to a Bad Seeds effect while featuring "Authors, Playwrights and Poets" higher than musicians in the influences list. Like British Sea Power when they're being all triumphantly, mini-orchestrally expansive? You'll like this.

VISUAL AID: Is anything more, as the kids say, lolsome than a school band having a go at a wildly risky song? Whether it's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Song 2 or Killing In The Name Of (good timing with breaking that emergency glass), Radiohead or the Libertines, an unwise Eric Clapton choice or an unwise Devo choice, there's something fascinating about the art of people picking up mikes and instruments who are young enough not to care but immature enough to know that others do. Especially if they're covering Tori Amos covering Chas & Dave. Our favourites for persistence are French Canadians Hydrants On Fire, not least for their go at Bloc Party's Helicopter. Good guitar, mediocre drums, vocals perhaps a trifle undercooked. They suit Rebellion (Lies) better, but the horses have long bolted no matter how many friends with inventive hats they bring.

* Our new favourite press release hyperbole of all time - a bloke best known for being a drummer, for a bit, 45 years ago, releases an album and the label CEO is willingly quoted as calling it "as good as anything The Beatles did at their peak".

* Given their track record when Brainlove Records place a record of theirs on a high shelf and ask we jump we willingly enquire how high. 'As high as the shelf' is usually the response, but never mind. Two Thousand And Ace is a limited edition CD featuring 27 bands what they like, which means healthy servings of Napoleon IIIrd, Bearsuit, Pagan Wanderer Lu, Cats In Paris, Friends Of The Bride, Capitol K, Modernaire, The Retro Spankees, Tim Ten Yen and Jam On Bread plus others, all for just a fiver from the label shop. Coinciding are the latest two events in John Brainlove's attempt to build a New Model Army for the 21st Century, by which we mean Cromwell's Parliamentarian brigade in the English Civil War rather than the crusty rockers of yore, through the medium of national all-dayers featuring some of those above. The first is at Leeds' Brudenell Social Club on 2nd August, the second on on the 9th when the march hits Oxford's Jericho Tavern. Then they're really working it with a stage to themselves at the Woolfire Festival near Winchester in the last weekend of August, featuring Napoleon IIIrd, Pagan Wanderer Lu, Friends Of The Bride, Modernaire, Applicants and Keyboard Choir.

* And who doesn't want a baffling array of graphs based on their profile?

* In case you missed it a couple of days ago, the BBC has a story with illustrations about hordes of remarkable yet hitherto unknown 60s recordings by Delia Derbyshire, scion of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, one of which seems to heavily pre-empt the entire first ten years of Warp Records.

* And finally, we're off at Truck this weekend and while we're writing all that business up over the coming days the Mercury Music Prize nominees will be issued on Tuesday. We have a regular half-right-or-so record with predicting the twelve names put forward, so here goes: British Sea Power, Burial, Duffy, Edwyn Collins, Elbow, Foals, The Imagined Village, MIA, Mystery Jets, Portishead, Radiohead, Robert Wyatt. Let's see, shall we.

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