Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I've been waiting anxiously for this album since January, when it was originally set for release. Letterbox who have put it out have connections to Shelflife I'm told (maybe they've inherited their "celerity"?) and looks to be a very promising venture after this their second release, which comes with the most beautiful cover of the year. The first Letterbox release was the latest album by The Arrogants, who I have reappraised lately after finding out their singer is Jana previously of Majestic 12! Future releases include a new album by French duo Watoo Watoo, which will be great judging from "Perdu" that you can download from the Letterbox website. Go download, purchase, cherish, eulogize and remember.
Obsession No. 1
Down to the Ocean
Take My Hand
Welcome to My Curious Heart
Feel the Magic
You Could Do Something to Me
A Place Called Home
The Last Thing (On Your Mind)
Something For the Longing
Another Saturday Night
It was one of those dreams where you can't tell if it's reality or not. The band comes up on stage (a small square stage at one end of the basement at Maggie May's, just a few inches above the ground) to the sounds of "The Perfect Reprise. They look calm, old, but beautiful, and nervous. The first gig in their hometown for over a decade. But people remembered them - that basement was almost full. People are standing really close, on two sides of the stage. I'm almost in front of the speakers, and suffice to say the sound wasn't great, with people talking excitedly everywhere. Alistair Fitchett is there, back in Glasgow for the first time in a long while, and I can imagine a lot of other old friends are there too. I thought they were mostly going to play songs from the new album, but as they start playing I recognise "Obsession No. 1". James' voice is still magnificent, if not as strong maybe. But in a way "I hate your body, I hate your mind, you're so unkind" sounds even more haunting sung so softly. The new songs sound best on the whole, they have an urgency and as always when bands play live those are the songs they feel most passionately about. I was surprised at how good the new album Good to Be a Stranger is. I think it's because the key members are still there: singer and chief songwriter James Hackett and guitarist John Scally. Some of those songs jangle as delicately as "Apologies".
Then they play "Thaumaturgy", which means the ability to work miracles (usually possessed by saints) and is one of my favourite Orchids songs and one of the best Sarah singles ever. I can see why some people insist that The Orchids were always the best band on Sarah. The two songs that stand out during their set however, is the closing track from the new album "You Could Do Something to Me" with it's rolling guitar line and their perennial pop classic "Something For the Longing". We can all see the setlist, so when they go off stage we shout for "two more", and James says "ok, we'll do two more". And they were not any two songs, but probably their two most well-known songs: "Peaches" form their masterpiece Unholy Soul and "Caveman" from their first album, which I have trouble standing still to. Then it's over, before you know it, and only the balloons are left.
I'm going try my best to get them over to Sweden so I can share my dream with you. Until then you can put these songs into a playlist on your computer and listen to them while you're looking at this picture (don't even ask me about the image on the back wall!) and try to feel the magic. Just like I am doing now. I want a Perfect Reprise.
Monday, May 28, 2007
The Beach Boys – Summer Means New Love
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Blueboy - Stephanie
Monday, May 21, 2007
"It is with immense sadness that I write to inform you that my dearest friend Keith Girdler died on May 15th 2007. Keith passed away peacefully after a recent deterioration in his condition - he was diagnosed with cancer in July 2004. Keith was a truly special person and I know that many people will hold very fond memories of their time spent in his company. Keith is survived by his partner, his siblings and their families. We are all devastated at the tragic loss of Keith and we will miss him enormously."
"Keith wanted to be remembered, to use his own words, with 'happiness and smiles' - which for those of us fortunate enough to have known him, will come all too easily despite our grief."
So let this song be a tribute to Keith Girdler, and let's hope it will make many pop fans smile in the future!
On Sunday it was the premiere of Monorail's new Film Club at the Glasgow Film Theatre. They were screening Masculin Féminin by Godard, and it was presented by Stephen, who introduced himself as 'a musician'. Before it they also screen what I think was Godard's first short, All Boys Are Called Patrick, on which he collaborated with Truffaut and which was simply amazing. It was cool to see so many people had turned up just because it was arranged by Monorail! Otherwise the average audience for a Godard screening would be about fifteen, I guess. Or fifteen and a half - to be generous. Next month it's The Last Detail, presented by Stuart Murdoch.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
But as you know, at night all cats are foxes. Potentially. In the West End at least. We saw a fox on Gibson Street last night, walking home from a Draytones gig. Oh, that reminds me, I've seen quite a few gigs lately that I need to tell you about! As I just said, we went to see London garage group The Draytones yesterday. I had high hopes after Brogues alterted me to the stomping sounds of the their debut single "Keep Loving Me", and they didn't let me down. They were a fashionably dressed (white shirts and jumpers, black chelsea boots) three-piece, and the pretty guitartist & singer was apparently from Argentina, but it was impossible to tell. They were actually only the support band for female singer Candie Payne, who was quite good as well and very suave. She had a five-piece garage-style backing band, although the music had some hints of soul and funk too. Those high heels looked very uncomfortable!The 1990s are bit more pop than garage and we went to their album launch at Mono last Sunday. Mono was packed (maybe because it was free?) and "everyone was there". 1990s consists of former members of The Yummy Fur and V-Twin and released their first single last year. This three-piece is from Glasgow and they had lots of friends there, and we all had a good time. I managed to squeeze my way into Monorail as well to buy the new Trembling Blue Stars album, which is ace!
On Tuesday we were at The Admiral to catch Au Revoir on one of their seemingly all the more frequent Glasgow visits. But a happy surprise was the support act Slow Club - an insanely fun duo from Sheffield. It's safe to say they charmed the pants of everyone with their playful little tunes, harmonies, alternating vocals, chair/bottles/spoon-percussion and madly strummed country guitar. They have a 7" due out on Moshi Moshi in June and are playing at Tchai Ovna on the 10th of that month (it's free!). It'll be worth going just to see if their 'mega fan' turns up (whoever bought their one and ONLY t-shirt! If you like Mates of State, Tilly & the Wall and Architecture In Helsinki this band could be your life.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The Duglasettes – Bellshill’s Son
The Applicants – Crush
The Electric Pop Group – She’s Playing With Your Heart
The Garlands – You Never Notice Me
The Budgies – Friends In Literature (session)
Cub – A Picnic
Laura Watling – So Responsible
The Haywains – I Have Confidence
Bouquet – Do Re Mi
Roadside Poppies – Erosion
Happy Birthdays – Every Week
Funday Mornings – Killing Thomas
The Parcels – I Dream of Jean-Genet
Buster Jones – Baby Boy
Tales of Jenny – Reading Oscar Wilde In Public
Strawberry Story – For the Love of Billy
Fat Tulips – Treason
Talulah Gosh – I Told You So
The Candees – I Don’t Want to Be a Grown-Up
The Rosehips – Something Happened
Brighter – Half-Hearted
Fluff Fluff Fluff and Cuddleyness
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Claim - Ronnie's Orchard
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
The Springfields – Tranquil
A Clouds cover from Ric Menck's The Springfields. Paul was in the band too of course, but most of the songs – that were released on labels like Sarah and Bus Stop – were written and sung by Ric. This cover was originally released on the Summershine 7” Reach For the Stars in 1987.
Uni – You're So Much
I think this is the only song Brent Kenji released with this post-Skypark band. It was on the A Smile Took Over double-7” on Matinée, and like the rest of the songs on it it's a cover of a Sarah Records classic. The Sea Urchins recorded the original.
Aerospace – Better Days
The Swedish band of the week released their pop classic of a first album The Bright Idea Called Soul in 2001. Referencing bands like Belle & Sebastian, Skypark, The Fairways, and in this song, The Byrds, it was bound to be memorable!
The Byrds – She Don’t Care About Time (single version)
What a coincidence, here they are themselves, those giants of janglepop! This is the single version of the song from 1965's Turn! Turn! Turn!.
Danny Wagner – This Thing Called Love
The northern soul track of the week can be found on Wigan 30, celebrating thirty years of keeping the faith at Wigan Casino.
Francoise Hardy – Le temps de l'amour
Another 60's classic, but from France of course. Think it's from 1962 or 1963.
Bag-O-Shells – Back In Your Town
One of the best releases ever on Bus Stop was the Pocketbook 7” from Bag-O-Shells. Menck and Chastain again, but this time with Paul on vocals. I just love how the melody is subtly exposited in the intro, and then the jangle begins!
The Sunny Street – Rainy Hearts
One of the best albums this year is They Hurt You Everyday from the very French sounding couple that are The Sunny Street. This song was originally meant to be released on 7” by Andreas' And Then Suddenly!, but it never happened and it's now included on the album on Lavender.
Honeybunch – You're Killing Me
An old one from Honeybunch, who had connections to the Menck-Chastain collective of bands. Honestly, I couldn't find out where it's from! Does anyone have a clue?
The Nines – Too Late (to Change Your Mind)
Before Ric met Paul Chastain, Paul was in a band called The Nines. Their Like a Top EP from 1983 was recently shared to the public by Fire Escape Talking.
Paul Chastain – Am I Right
After that he released the Halo EP under his own name. Nick Rudd plays guitar on this record that came out in 1984.
The Castaway Stones – Eight Days
The Castaway Stones' album Make Love to You is one of Shelflife's proudest moments. Pam Berry was in this band before she moved to London. This is a b-side to the Leave No Stone Unturned 7” that preceded the album and that, in contrast to album, can still be had for a handful of dollars.
The Reverbs – Nevermore
This is the pre-Choo Choo Train project of Ric Menck. He played drums in The Reverbs before teaming up with Paul Chastain, and he released an lp called The Happy Forest in 1984.
The Big Maybe – Some Things Never Change
This was just a one off Ric and Paul did with Nick Rudd, before the two of them settled for the Choo Choo Train moniker. It's from 1987 and came out on their own Picture Book label.
The Choo Choo Train – Flower Field
From the legendary second 12” on Subway Organisation The Briar Rose EP from 1988. A truly collaborative effort from Paul and Ric that was the early stage of The Velvet Crush in many ways. As in that band, Paul is on vocal duties.
The Velvet Crush – One Thing 2 Believe
The first single by The Velvet Crush came out on Bus Stop, naturally. It's from 1990, then they were signed by Creation, and the rest is pop history.
The Wind – You Changed
This is the band Lane Steinberg was in before Tan Sleeve (another Bus Stop band) and Wall of Orchids. It's from 1982 and the classic album Where It's At With the Wind.
The Autumn Leaves – Ballad of Plum Tucker
This Byrdsian Minneapolis band released their first album on the great but forgotten Grimsey label in 1997. Treats and Treasures was then followed by The Twilight Hours of the Autumn Leaves in 2002.
The Nashville Ramblers – The Trains
Probably THE lost pearl on Children of Nuggets. This stormer is presumably from 1983, but sounds as genuine as anything from the 60's. The Nashville Ramblers was only a loose constellation of San Diego garage scenesters and the song was not released until the Bomp Records comp The Roots of Powerpop! came out in 1986.
Wishing On a Star
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Yeah, I went to see The Pastels last Friday and I finally have time to write something about it now. It was a part of the Triptych festival and they were not the only ones playing at the CCA - they were joined by Electrelane, Tenniscoats, The Royal We (who I really, really loved) and Pierre Bastien. It was great to finally see them, I know they don't play too often even in Glasgow. It was Stephen and Katrina, Norman and Gerard from Teenage Fanclub, two people from International Airport and the two from Tenniscoats. They played two sets! (As did Electrelane.) The first one was a bit quieter and included some stuff from their colloboration with Tenniscoats and the play Caesar staged last year. Both of them were great, but in the second one we got to hear some real classics. Like "Nothing to Be Done" and... for the encore... "If I Could Tell You"! How about that? It was a great day at the CCA, everyone was there including the local indie celebrities, it was really beautiful and everyone seemed so happy. It kind of encapsulated everything good about The Pastels, Geographic, Monorail etc.
The day before I'd been to NPL, and it was one of the best ones I've been too. It was Sarah's birthday as well and she was quite overwhelmed by her surprise party. I would like to have my birthday on an NPL night too, I think everyone should! They really should change the constitution... The last three songs were "What Difference Does It Make?", "Shady Lane" and "Roadrunner". But the best songs were probably Ian Matthews' "She May Call Up Tonight" and The June Brides' "No Place Called Home". I also discovered I need to listen more to Lloyd Cole & the Commotions. And not one but TWO Felt songs. And "Expectations"... but that was probably after Stuart left.