Tuesday, December 20, 2011

let's get dirty again

Oh my words, how excited was I last week when I saw a tweet from @thequietus announcing that 2012 would see the release of a new Dirty Three album. AMAZING!
This calls for a blogpost but be warned, this is a personal story :)

Back in 1998, I had become friends with chicago musician David Grubbs of Gastr Del Sol fame. David was touring Europe to support his very good solo album The Thicket and we bonded over our love of literature (he has an amazing knowledge) and my passion for Cassavetes films.
If you're not familiar with his work, which I will admit is not always easy listening, here's a digestable Gastr Del Sol track "Season Reverse"

So one day, I got an email from David telling me that his Australian mates would be playing in Belgium and that I was not allowed to miss them because they're fabulous and he had played the piano on some tracks from the new album. Sound dudes!  Turns out I had to do press for them on the day of their show as I was looking after the Bella Union Catalogue back then. The band turned out to be Dirty Three and they were opening for PJ Harvey, to support their sublime 4th album 'Ocean Songs'.
The fact that we had a friend in common started a connection and to this day i remember that press day very fondly as one of my favourite throughout my career. And it's always a joy to bump into them at festivals.

Here are Warren Ellis, Jim White and Mick Turner in action at the time. Set up the scene guys, low lights, cuddle up in the sofa and just follow the music...

In March 2000, they put out a mini album that inherited a great title: "Whatever you love, you are"
The opening track is probably my favourite Dirty Three track. I especially love it live, as Warren Ellis compensates the wordless music with stream of consciousness stories he tells the audience between the songs. Oh yeah Dirty three are an immense band live.
"Some summers they drop like flies", I find myself consumed by this song, the narrative, the seduction...it's like being at sea with the cold wind in your hair, it takes me places and I hope it will do the same to you.

In 2005, they released Cinder, an album on which they invited 3 friends to record vocals on their dreamy music. One such friend is Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power. Turner and White have toured extensively as her backing band. Jim White, the best drummer in the world, is still in her Dirty Delta Blues Band today.
The result of that collaboration is Great Waves

So...no new music since Cinder, since 2005 but now in 4 little months we'll have something to look forward to as the boys will be back in town with "Look Towards The Low Sun" and I can barely wait to be transported by this hairy baroque indie!

Before I leave you to your dreams, there's another collaboration that I want to write about, it dates from 2001 and is called In The Fishtank 7 ( Konkurrent's studio sessions). Our 3 troubadours joined forced with my other top band Low for 6 tracks of pure magic.
"I hear Goodnight"

I suggest you go buy their back catalogue, indie bands need you, right? And please go see them live but make sure I still have a ticket ok?

Sweet dreams

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Guide to Heartbreak music part II

So here we go, Part II of our Guide to heartbreak music, a little SOS kit ready when you need to feel understood in your pain, cuddled in your unhappiness and to help you get back up on your feet

First, you don't need violins to make a good heartbreak song, some electronic bands have even managed to create superb tracks filled of melancholy and regrets...

The most obvious one is by Everything But The Girl back in 1994 when they left their old folky style to venture into more electronic territories. Missing is a sad as a grey rainy day in an industrial town:

More recently, another duo ( Danish this time) have also crafted a perfect anthem for all the masochists amongst us who can't help but play the love martyr game - I blame the period dramas like Pride & Prejudice by the way...
Trentemoller then, on their 2010 album Into The Great Wide Yonder with the mournful voice of Josephine Philip "...Even Though You're With Another Girl"
get your tissues ready, the video is as beautiful as the song:

Alt Country is an other style that has spawned many a sad love song. I have to include Ryan Adams in here, but he has written way too many beautiful tracks to choose one, but fair's fair and  I'll go for "Come Pick Me Up" on his first album, the aptly titled Heartbreaker in 2000. It's full of regrets with hints of hope, perfect for a heartbreak. Here's a live version ( you can laugh at his dress sense too)

In a more lo-fi genre, Death Cab for Cutie too have a knack for lyrics that go straight to your heart and lacrimal glands. On Plans, their fifth album in 2005, there is a song I keep going back to when I need a good cry. "Someday You Will Be Loved" with its perfect video. Strangely enough I don't find it that hopeful...

Some old classical songs add some gravita to the heartbreak, after all love pain is as old as the world, right? Here, Nina Simone covers Screaming Jay Hawkins's "I put a spell on you" in a haunted way. If the original (1956) was rather eccentric and out of the ordinary, Simone's cover is full on melodramatics with over the top strings and rolling tears

Talking of putting a spell on a loved one, here we have the unrequited love version from English singer songwriter Matt Hales aka Aqualung. On his first self titled album in 2002 he hit the jackpot with this distressed and poisonous "Strange & Beautiful" - stalker alert!

Obviously we can't talk of heartbreak song without mentioning the one king song to rule them all. No need for an introduction, just sing along and shiver:

So, take good care of your hearts, kids, as Saint Bonnie sings it eloquently: "it's a heartache, nothing but heartache, hits you when it's too late, hits you when you're down. It's a fool's game, nothing but a fool's game. Standing in the cold rain, feeling like a clown..."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back on the Codeine

Like so many other people I have watched and enjoyed retailer John Lewis' new Christmas ad, obviously it led me to go to youtube to listen to the original 'Please, please, please, let me get what I want' by The Smiths. It was released in 1984 and has been covered by tons of artists and used in many soundtracks.

I listened to a couple more Smith tracks like that and then, the magic of Youtube operated: on the right hand section there were some rubbish recommendations as often but...omagaaaad I have forgotten about Codeine, I used to love that band. I avidly listened to available tracks and here we are!

Codeine formed in 1989 in New York and were part of the Slowcore mouvement, like Low, Red House Painters, Galaxie 5000, Bedhead,... However, they were labelled as pioneers of a more indie type of slowcare (yeah, this is a bit silly)
So basically you have the monotonous, bleak lyrics and repetitive hypnotic guitars but with bursts of indie rock here and there. nice.

Perfect example: Sea on their 2nd album "The White Birch"

Their discography is very simple as it only encompasses 2 albums:
Frigid Star in 1990 and The White Birch 4 years later. The band, led by Stephen Immerwhar split the same year, in 1994.

3 Angels was on their first LP

The good news is that Mogwai have managed to get Immerwhar & co out of their Codeine hiding and the band will perform on May 26th at Alexandra Palace for the Mogwai curated event I'll Be You Mirror.
Hopefully they'll have fun and tour some more afterwards. we can only keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Play it Greg, play...

This month, London born crooner Gregory Page will release his...31st album "My True Love". yups, never heard of him before? I only started following his career last year when his album Promise Of A Dream landed on my desk and, you know, crooners and me...

Give me a piano, a tortured man in a classy suit singing his love in a jazz bar and I say yes every time!

"Saturday Night Blues" by Gregory Page from Wiant on Vimeo.

I think my love for those whiskey-filled mournful songs come from my first listens of Tom Waits back Catalogue from the 70s: Closing Time (73), The Heart Of Saturday Night (74), Nighthawks at The Diner (75), Small Change (76), Foreign Affairs (77) and Blue Valentine (78)

So back to gentleman singer Gregory page then, his smooth voice and quaint, passé melodies are not for hipsters, he comes from a more traditional mould of song-writers, and probably because of that there is a great comfort in his beautifully crafted music, yeah you feel good and you can trust him with your ears and emotions, this guys will take good care of them.

Here he is playing live the first track of his new album "It's You"

This new album is his hommage to classical jazzy artists from another era like Louis Armstrong, Cole Porter and miss Billie Holiday.

In his previous album there were already some touches of old gramophone and perhaps happier times, like in this female led "My Foolish Heart", just close your eyes and you will be transported in time...

And one last one video for the road, another great live version of his "Sleeping Dogs" recorded last year for VPRO..., nighty night kids, no cold beds, and sweet dreams

PS/ once you've bought his new album also try his free iPhone app ( yup a man can long for simpler times but still be current. amen)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Love Me Baby - A Guide To Heartbreak Music Part I

So your eyes meet theirs, a connection is made and you start seeing each other. Life is easy, you have a silly smile on your face, nothing is important, you can face any problem the world throws at you, you are in love like Bright Eyes "The First Day Of My Life", with fluffy kitten flying high above rainbows on a unicorn s' back...

But then one day, you learn that he's throwing you away for a 15-year-younger-model (or 15-yr-older if he's into cougars), or you've found texts of a sexy nature to another woman on his cell or worst of all, you finally realise he actually kills the fluffy kittens at night ( Sorry male reader, I'm sure ladies do terrible things to you too, so feel free to apply the scenario that best fits your own story)

At times like these we are all allowed to wallow in self pity and what do most of us do? We turn to music to soothe our pain. After all, if rich creative beautiful sexy cool people can have a broken heart, it's only normal we do too.

But what makes a good 'heartbreak song'?

1. first observation: we tend to forget any notion of taste when we have a heart in 1000 pieces. Some of the biggest torch songs have been written by those heavy metal bands in the late 80s and early 90s. Yes I'm talking about choruses as big as the band's hair, guitar solos on mountain tops and lyrics that are so very profound, every one of us can identify with it. My favourite in that genre is probably "You Don't Know What You've Got 'Till It's Gone" by Philly blues-rock-glam metal combo Cinderella

2. the lyrics: I admit I'm already a sucker for good lyrics but when I need to feel sorry for myself after a break-up, I'm always on the look-out for the perfect lyrics that fit my mood and "oh my god that's EXACTLY how I feel' moments. Music (art in general) is a powerful identification mechanism - we are never alone to feel the way we do, and it helps...
There are many contenders in this category , depending on how you feel: angry, sad, resigned, despaired, pretending to be fine, missing that horrible person who broke your heart,...or all those emotions at the same time.

Here's a selection for your perusal (this post is sponsored by Kleenex by the way)

>> For the delusionals amongst us, who still want to believe something is possible, the Penelope's of modern times will recognise themselves in this poignant Emiliana Torrini song ( esp, if like me you love red Chanel lipstick)

>> when you feel proper despair, tears rolling down your cheeks, forlorn and miserable,when you have reached rock bottom of sadness, there is nothing better (or worse?) than Soap & Skin's Fall Foliage

>> OK, OK, boys too can be left heartbroken, unrequited love is more often their playground though, they don't do despair like the ladies do. Here's to you Maxi Hecker

>> Then there's those songs, like Cat Power's Good Woman, where the lyrics just hit you straight to the throat, you play it strong, you're ok, even though you're devastated but yeah this was the best decision, right? RIGHT?

We'll cover many more themes in the next installment of A Guide To Heartbreak Music, feel free to leave your best songs in the comments

3. it's not just the lyrics, though, the way our singer means those words, the music, the silence, the whispers followed by screams... all contribute to the general effet. Take my mum, she doesn't speak English and is not fond of music, but one day I sat her in the sofa, asked her to close her eyes and played her the Jeff Buckley version of  Lilac Wine. She was in shock, she told me " I have no idea what he says but how he suffers, it makes me sad..."

4. There's also the personal element: songs or artists that meant something to your story and they hurt now, they really do. If they can have poetic lyrics and melodies full of regrets and melancholy you have a real winner.
This one is very personal so again, leave your own tracks in the comments section
Richard Hawley, always and forever..."Soldier On"

Next time, we'll go into other Heartbreak territories but that's it for now. Looking forward to hearing your best songs and opinions on this very grave subject.

I will leave you with  Peggy Lee's words

"...Then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away. And I thought I'd die -- but I didn't. 
And when I didn't I said to myself, "Is that all there is to love?"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing.."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Introducing Jessica Jalbert

Thanks the great blog Twentyfourbit, I've come across new singer-songwriter Jessica Jalbert.

I can't find much about her except that she's from Edmonton, in Canada and she has an album titled Brother Loyola out about now.

Here's a lovely track, Lack of a Lake, that you can get for free on her site

I love the sweet nostalgic feel of her sound, the voice reminds me a bit of Holly Miranda or a quiet version of Annie of Giant Drag fame.
It's not all twee and quietness though, single Paris Green does have some layers of guitars and beating drums. I'm a tad less convinced by her voice here though. 

Last but not least for you electronica lovers, previous dream-pop single Necromancy has been successfully remixed to create a great soundtrack to a lazy Sunday Morning in bed.

Now it's time for a croissant dipped into milky coffee, if you'll excuse me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I fade into you again, and again

You live your life
You go in shadows
You'll come apart and you'll go black
Some kind of night into your darkness
Colors your eyes with what's not there.

Fade into you
Strange you never knew
Fade into you
I think its strange you never knew

That was the track that defined 1993 for a lot of indie kids and music lovers. Fade Into You by the Californian duo Mazzy Star on their 2nd album So Tonight That I Might See

How many teenagers wanted to get close and personal with Hope Sandoval...and I knew quite a few girls who wanted to be her as well...
The song has this timeless nostalgic feel, the sadness that lingers after a love affair ends...oh the tears that have been shed listening to this record!

So Mazzy Star then, Sandoval and David Roback appeared on the dream pop scene back in 1989, a year later they released a first opus She Hangs Brightly; the dark art nouveau with gothic undertones visuals of that album paved the way for the musical content: brooding and psychedelia-tinged folk with Sandoval's child-like voice half soothing half creepy

It took them 3 years to serve us a follow-up album: So Tonight I Might See, and with it came world-wide fame. The production is more mature and Sandoval's voice more seductive and velvety.
This is my favourite track on that album: 5 String Serenade ( I dare you not to melt)

After a Third album Among My Swan, the band went on a hiatus to pursue solo careers.  Sandoval released a couple of albums and went on tour whilst Roback produced Beth Orton's Central Reservation amongst others.

Then last week, it was revealed that Mazzy Star would come back with a new song ( the first one in 15 years) with a full album to follow. That first single will be available for Halloween ( they always had a gothic undertone) and a small trailer hit Youtube.
Today, Pitchfork brings us the B-Side from that single.

I'm really looking forward to a brand new slice of Mazzy Star. You?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rejoice! Autumn Falls in November

From November 21st until the 27th in Brussels, Indie music will be celebrated via the wonderful Autumn Falls festival. It's been going on for a few years and the bill keeps showcasing impeccable taste in the talented and oddball musical landscape. About 50 artists will take part in this indie extravaganza in various venues throughout Brussels. Full listing on the festival's website

On November 24th, don't try and call me or invite me anywhere, I will be at the Cirque Royal to watch 3 excellent acts do their stuff on stage. First up is Pinback, a Californian stalwart indie band that many of my music lover friends love love love ( yes you @exexalex and @mikediver). Since 1999 they've released 4 albums and a 5th one is planned for 2012. They're consistantly good live so it's a good 'entrée en matière'

For mains, it will be mister Bill Callahan of Smog fame, I've talked about him many times on this blog so won't spoil your intelligence with more rambling about how wooooonderful a songwriter he is.
Callahan can be moody on stage but his voice and music are well worth the ticket fee alone.
He gave us 12 lo-fi albums as Smog and has put out his 4th effort under his own name back in April. The single from Apocalypse was 'America'

Then the cherry on the cake that night will be Low, the trio from Minnesota who encapsulated the Slow Core genre in the mid 90s
They released their 9th album "C'mon" earlier this year on Sub Pop. I love them, I just do : the harmonies, the simplicity mixed with some harshness and the lancinant, near psychedelic sounds...it's just perfect!

Autumn Falls holds another little gem in his programme: She Keeps Bees. If you like artists like Patti Smith, Cat Power or even old Pj Harvey you must try some She Keeps Bees. Live, you just want to hug Jessica Larrabee, she's standing there so fresh and un-starlike full of jokes and joie de vivre. Then she sings and her voices fills up the space with so much soul...
I completely missed the released of Dig On last spring so here's an old favourite of mine 'Cage Match'
You can see her at the Botanique on November 26th as support for Pink Mountaintops

I'd also like to point out several other highlights quickly:
On the 26th if She Keeps Bees is not your cup of tea and you prefer dancing, then head to the AB for Metronomy + SX + Holloys + Babe Rainbow and the great Germans Tarwater

Now, still on the 26th the rockers amongst you will be making their way to the VK for a full dosage of decibels courtesy of Chrome Hoof, Part Chimp and Alkerdeel.
And because Tim Cedar is a very old friend of mine from when he was in a band called Ligament here's a dose of Part Chimp to wake every up.

And for you, Lana Del Ray fans, try a dose of Marissa Nadler please, you may just be seduced by the real deal and she'll be in Brussels on November 27th  with Scott Matthews and A Winged Victory For The Sullen.

Autum Falls is a festival held in various venues across Brussels from November 21st until the 27th, organised by Tout Par Tout Booking agency

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dreams do come true, Cass

Some artists are constantly good throughout their career, they keep creating beautifully crafted pieces of music. One such artists is mister Cass McCombs; he will be releasing his 6th album later this fall so maybe it's time to have a look at his prolific outputs.

I don't know much about McCombs apart from his music and the fact that his albums are put out by Domino Records. So let's focus on the music then...
Back in 2003 he released a first album (after an EP the previous year) that was critically acclaimed. Simply titled 'A' it showcased McCombs's talent for soothing melodies, odd lyrics and that latent dreamy sadness.
First track is called I Went To The Hospital and leaves you in no doubt about the American's abilities. it's a terrific piece of music, what a way to start your first album!

2 years later McCombs came back with PREfection,an album that kept going in the same direction than its predecessor.
Then in 2007 came Dropping The Writ, and with it  a slight change of musical landscape: less reverbs, less indie postures, more Americana and folky sounds. As Pitchfork wrote at the time McCombs stopped gazing at his feet but started staring at the stars instead. And it worked a treat. On that LP there is a song "Full Moon Or Infinity" that probably is in my top10 favourites songe EVAH

    Get this widget |     Track details  |  eSnips Social DNA    

Releasing albums at the rhythm of one every 2 years, we only had to wait until 2009 for Catacombs, yup the boy'still enjoying playing with words and is not afraid of auto-derision. For most of his teenage years and early adulthood, Mc Combs travelled across America and this 4th album is very much a troubadour on the road type of album. Again, the melodies are flowing effortlessly and softly in the listener's ears. First single was Dreams Come True, Girl with some vocals from Karen Black, and is tinged with 50s influences.

Back in April, McCombs served us a fifth helping of his original yet comforting music ("Wit's End") and lo and behold! we won't have to wait another 2 years for the next installment as Humour Risk (See, told you the boy was funny with words) will be with us in November. Reasons to be cheerful, right? We'll be well cosy at home this winter with an extra dose of McCombs. Yes, dreams DO come true ;-)

I hope you'll check this talented and orignal artist and am praying for him to give a show in Belgium soon. Despite following his career since 2003, I've never seen him live...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Memoriam of Sparklehorse

For the past 2 weeks I've been thinking about Sparklehorse, musical project of Mark Linkous who died back in March 2010. He's one of these artists that seem to influence so many others yet never got quite that high recognition he deserved. A sensitive soul who made a music layered with emotions, feelings and still at the heart of it a certain freshness and even naivety. To me, his music often shined with a lot of light and often triggered a smile.

Why am I thinking about Linkous at the moment? For 2 reasons: the first one is Twin Falls who's debut album "Slow Numb" was released mid September on CowshedMusic. This is another singer-songwriter hiding behind a band name, in this case West Country boy Luke Stidson.
I found a link to their soundcloud and their song "Monkey is a singe" was reminiscent  of Linkous' Sparklehorse. The rest of the album is more folky and alt country, you can download a free track on their website if you're curious.

twin falls - monkey is singe by Covert PR

Reason number 2 for going back to my Sparkelhorse CDs is a superb musical project called "A Winged Victory For The Sullen". Composed of Dustin O'Halloran and Adam Wiltzie, AWVFTS  marries classical music with some post-rock sounds and dusts the result with some ambiant to create absolutely stunning pieces of music. O'Halloran and Wiltzie were making music with linkous and created this hybrid project in his memory. Oh boy, it's sublime, moving, enthralling...when I told you he inspired many to create music.

Their self-titled album was released early September in Europe and if you like music that will keep you in its arms during the long winter night, this album is for you.

So thank you Mark Linkous, thank you for your 4 Sparklehorse albums, thank you for the collaboration with Fennesz, thank you for your Dark Night Of The Soul project with Dangermouse & Lynch and finally thank you for the legacy and still inspiring great people to make fabulous music.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Future This: When Pink Turns Gold

I very much remember the first time I heard "To Young To Love" back at the start of 2009 - it was  heavy and dark like a winter rainy day. It was dangerous and seductive, it was hypnotic and inebriated, short of breath and spinning. You bet I loved it. The band, who chose the rather silly name The Big Pink, was signed by 4AD, which added a stamp of quality.

They followed this first single with Velvet which was more in the same veine: layers of guitars in a shoegazing mood, deep noisy electronica and slightly naïve lyrics delivered in a passionately bored tone ( yes it's possible) This band was creating very sexy music that brought us deliciously back to the mid 90s but with a current edge.

The album A Brief History of Love was a tad disappointing. It's not easy to create 11 tracks of the same intensity as their first 2 singles, even for seasoned musicians like Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze. However it led us to believe that they have what it takes to take the next album a step further.
The gigs were urgent, sweaty, rock'n roll and mesmerizing, especially at the small AB club; the band was less convincing at festivals but that was to be expected despite their latest single Dominoes being played everywhere and transforming them into pop stars.

This week they're releasing a first full video for their new single out in November, it's called Stay Gold

They've kept the same 'winning recipe' used on Dominoes with the big cheering pop chorus, adding touches of Celtic undertones.  To me, it sounds weaker, even washed-up, it sounds like a band who are willing to be less creative to keep the masses happy. Good on them if it works I guess.

Maybe I'm too hard, it's still atmospheric and the lads have a right to play slightly lighter and easier music. Maybe I just liked them too much before.
The full 2nd album Future This will be out still on 4AD in January 2010 and whilst waiting for it I'll keep playing those first single of theirs, you know to keep the expectations high :-p

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Phoenix rises again

naaah not those Phoenix


             It took me about 6 months to start liking music again. Add an extra 2 or 3 months to want to write about it and share bits of music that excite, endear, surprise me... and we reach 9 months. hum.
Thing is, when you write for other people, it takes an extra energy or motivation to take to the computer again when you get back home late, when the last thing you want to see is a Facebook page or a blog.

             But, here we go again. I took my time, but I now feel ready to talk about music with you, to go back to gigs and buy records. First, it started with a tour of my old favourite records: singing along, dancing in the kitchen, remembering how I know some songs by heart because the lyrics are so beautifully crafted.   You know, falling back in  love again.

Then I kept that little Facebook page that's been fed with snippets of new music that I came across. That's how I stumbled upon First Aid Kit's cover of Fever Ray's "When I Grow Up". And then... gosh I wanted to write about it!


                Covers, a difficult art: stay too close to the original and you get labelled a copycat without a vision, appropriate the song to your own style too much and you lack respect to the original. There is a fine balance. Some artists are master at surprising us with covers that manage to stay true to the songs ' roots yet shed a new light on it.

                Back to First Aid Kit, they first came to the public awareness in 2008 with a cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song". The Söderbrg sisters followed this first good impression with a lovely album titled "The Big Black & The Blue" in 2010.
Folky harmonies and that naïve seriousness only encountered in teenage voices made them stand out with what was a very decent first effort.

In 2012, they will be back with a 2nd album "The Lion's Roar"; to whet our appetites and show us how much they've grown they've just served up this stunning cover.
I love the original: dark, moody and transporting us to the limit of danger. Yet this fragile cover, with all its differences stays true to the Fever Ray tracks whilst transposing it in a different world. Amazing feat by Klara and Joanna!

Let me know what your favourite covers are and we'll do a blogpost or two about the best ones...and don't forget to keep your ears peeled for The Lion's Roar

Welcome back!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No Tall Order

One of the highlights of the fabulous Nuits Botanique bill this year is the presence on May 20th of Kristian Matsson, the man hiding behind the pseudo The Tallest Man on Earth.
This Swedish singer-songwriter is responsible for 2 good albums: Shallow Grave in 2007 and The Whild Hunt this year. It won't be his first show at the Bota, a venue that loves seeing its artist grow.

Matsson went through Jools Holland's studio and recorded this lovely Dylan-esque version of "Loving All"

So will I see you on the 20th? come ooon

Friday, April 1, 2011

A baby's breath before the Apocalypse.

Another old favourite of mine is coming back to the fore: Bill Callahan, aka Smog.

Next week, he'll release 'Apocalypse', his 4th album under his own name, after 11 outputs as Smog.
Last week, he gave us a taste of things to come with a wonderful single 'Baby's Breath'

The lyrics are so precise and utterly moving, his dead pan delivery giving them even more strength. I've always found intriguing how his dispassionate voice can be so potent and emotional. If the rest of the album is a good as Baby's Breath, we're in for a treat ladies and gentlemen.

If you're not familiar with Callahan's music, I would recommend Red Apple Falls, his Smog album from 1997. It's the same deep voice, lo-fi music, slightly cerebral approach to the singer-songwriter job as today, but maybe more naive.

ATTENTION: Bill Callahan will be present at the Nuits Botanique this year, on May 17th @ Théâtre 140 !

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Demons creeping me up with pleasure

Looking a the list of upcoming concerts in Brussels, one might feel overwhelmed with so many (on paper) fabulous gigs to go to. One I don't want to miss is Timber Timber on 22nd of April at the AB
The Canadians's untitled first album was haunted, melodic, beautiful and Taylor Kirk has a voice and delivery so particular that you recognise him instantly. They sing dark tales lit by candlelight, ghostly stories of human feelings. They will release a new album early April, it will bear the title of 'Creep on Creepin'on' a title that suggests a continued musical voyage in troubled waters. And that my friends, is good news indeed!

Here's an old stripped down version of "Until The Night is Over" for NPR

and their superb first single Demon Host

This should whet your appetites for the couple of weeks that separate us from the release of Creep on Creeping On.

Now I'd better get my tickets for the gig or I'll cry tears of blood...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Alex Turner, naked and submarine

I do like the Arctic Monkeys, I'm yearning for a new Last Shadow Puppets album and yes, I do rate Alex Turner as a brilliant lyricist. His voice has also morphed over the past few years, the lad has now the confidence to play with it a bit more, I'm sure he'll surprise us with his range in the future.

This week, the Monkeys have announced a new album for June and 5 songs by Turner as a solo artist have turned up on youtube. This EP will serve as soundtracks for a film called Submarine.
It's absolutely stunning in simplicity: voice + acoustic guitar

If like me you're hungover today, this will soothe you and make you feel better, I promise!

At the moment we are being force-fed so many female songstress, whether they have talent or not, it's ironic to find musical solace in the male voices of old favourites and new ones too.
Thank you gents!

Oh Mark...I'm burning!

So, after his usual collaborations Mark Lanegan has gone back in a studio to record solo material. Happy news indeed! The first taste of his upcoming album is Burning Jacob's Lader, a track used on a video game' soundtrack which is why we can download this great desert rock piece for FREE. Yup! and I have the link for you.

or you can just listen now:

I'm really excited to hear Lanegan in such fine rock form. I will always remember the first time I heard his voice, on a tape in the train between Saint-Ghislain and Mons.
I had read an article in the magazine Actuel (RIP) about a musical genre called grunge that would soon reach Europe and they mentioned a few bands like Mudhoney and Screaming Trees. I loved the description of their music and decided Screaming Trees would be my favourite band. It even got me an introduction to the cool music gang at school, they were impressed I knew and loved such a fine band. So I went to the Mediathèque, found 2 albums and prayed for the music to be good. I recorded the albums on a tape and bravely pressed Play on my walkman in the train.

I sat there shivering and short of breath, I had instantly fallen in love with Lanegan's voice. Today, some 20 years later I still get the same butterflies in my tummy when I hear him sing songs as good as that Burning Jacob's Ladder.

I can't wait to hear the full album and see him play live again.I hope he takes better care of himself than in the past because we need more good music from the man.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

After the storm...

OK, I've calmed down and the best way to feel better after a disappointment is cuddle music.
For that, I give you Summer Fiction with "Throw Your Arms Around Me", told you it was cuddle music...

The video is cleverly made from cuts of 'Vivre Pour Vivre' a French film from 1967 and soooo deliciously vintage, right up my street ;-)

So Summer Fiction then, it's a band from Philadelphia led by singer/songwriter Bill Ricchini, it does indeed echo 60s folk pop with more than a hint of Elliott Smith.
It's just very pretty music and there is nothing wrong with pretty, I like pretty! This song makes me want to snuggle up in the arms of my loved one.
If you're curious and want to listen to more music, the full self titled album is streaming on the band's website

Happy cuddles, kids

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The end of the affair?

Oh Polly what have you become?
A few months ago I wrote you a love letter on this blog, but like many other relationships our was not to last. We stayed together for 19 years, not bad all things considered.

Yesterday you played Le Cirque Royal for the second night in a row. It was rubbish. Yes you can still sing, yes the sound was good and the band tight but where has the feeling gone? The fire? The personality?
Wearing a silly hat and costume, playing a ridiculous autoharp and singing like a demented child do not make you original or entertaining. It makes us sad however.
A few old tracks thrown at us like bread at pigeons did not blind me enough to think I had a great night.

If you choose not to speak to your adoring public, at least make some sort of effort to fill the gaps...the silence between the tracks made you look like you don't care so enthralled are you with yourself. It smacked of musical masturbation and you forgot the first rule entertainment: yup you're doing all of this for your AUDIENCE and even if some saw you live for the first time, I'm sure the memory won't last long on the collective memories.

Yet I have many memories that I will cherish and I will forever keep your 4 albums from the 90s close to my heart and my ears. When you were a woman consumed by her emotions, it's what's always seduced me about your music and it's what's lacking so much today.
Gone are the songs written with your heart and tripes, in favor of more intellectual musings.
These are not for me.

One last comment about last night's gig: you also seem to have forgotten what a wonderful vocal range you possess, favoring that nasal high pitch that actually hurts the ears.

Talking of ears, a musician such as you must hear the difference between your previous work and its passion and the dull, steril sound of your recent outputs. Don't be too proud Polly, everybody's allowed to be wrong, just come back stronger soon, please.

I wish you all the best and thanks for the past 19 years.

with love,

PS: if you ever come back, I'll welcome you with open arms....you remember this?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Another Day Full of Dread

This live version of the classic Bonnie 'Prince' Billy track has recently surfaced on Youtube. It's taken from an Aussie TV show back in 1999, and is therefore quite a rare treat.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure

Have a good weekend!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegetal Noise

Thot is an rather impetuous indie band based in Brussels. They usually serve a good dose of heavy rock mated with some electronics. But like everybody else, they have a softer side, which they explore on their latest single The Hour Speller, played Live at Radio Campus here:

They will play in full rock'n electro stylee in Brussels on the 24th of Feb at the Live Music Café - it won't be for the faint hearted, their live reputation precedes them so make sure you're ready for some action...

Check their blog to try a slice of their Vegetal Noise Music.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Faris and his Cats Eyes

I've been lucky enough to hear some of the music written and recorded by Cat's Eyes. First EP will be out in Feb via Polydor and the full album will reach us a bit later. The good news is that there will be a European tour as well.

Who or what is Cat's Eyes?: it's Faris Badwan, leader of The Horrors and Rachel Zeffira.
There is a teasing website and Pitchfork will have exclusive footage of the duo's first live show...in the Vatican, no less.

I seriously can't wait for Cat's Eyes music to be out there because I really really enjoyed what I heard. And I also can't wait to talk about it with you. It's very different from what he does with his 'day band', yet there is continuity...

Faris will be a busy boy as there is also a new Horrors album in the pipeline. Hooba!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Warpath? gimme more!

Please go and buy Esben and The Witch's first album Violet Cries. It's dark, it's haunted, it's moody and creepy, it's noisy, it has tiny flavours of Siouxie...it's bloody good!

want proof?

And to see them live, put February 12th in your diary as they'll grace the stage of the Botanique (la Rontonde) Tickets are available. See you there!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I *heart* James Blake

Sometimes words are superfluous...
I will let this young man charm you and just shut up. click on the link and enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Anna Calvi

If you have nothing to do on February 2nd, there is only one destination: Le Botanique.
Anna Calvi will come and play her first output on Domino, a self titled album that hits the stores today.

She has that sort of voice and style that people will either love or hate and she clearly sounds 'different' which is no bad thing.
Her music is orchestral yet sparse, dark but strong, girly and masculine at the same time.

I can't wait to be surprised by Anna Calvi on stage so see you on Feb 2nd

If you want to know more about Miss Calvi Domino Records has everything you need
And if you want to buy tickets for what promises to be a fabulous night out, here's the link to the event on the Bota website

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welcome back to my world.

I'll activate my musical neurones before the end of the week it's promised. Thanks for stopping by and here's a little present.

What else did you expect? that's the beauty of having a blog, I can go gaga over artists I like and hope that you catch the bug too.

Speak to you very soon

Sophie x

Sunday, January 2, 2011

the last LMDS play-list

You will never hear the last LMDS show but you can check the play-list. Thanks for the fun 3 months and I hope you enjoy this...
Happy New Year.

Shell Game - Bright Eyes
Your Belgian Things - The Mountain Goats

Days - Creep ft Romy XX
Our Darkness - Anne Clark

Ghost Woman Blues - The Low Anthem
Right As Rain - Deus

Surrender - Ólöf Arnalds
Too Soon, Too Late - Dirty Three

How to Be a Werewolf - Mogwai
Rise From The Shadows - Alberta Cross

Moulinette - Anna Calvi
Breathing - Kate Bush

Wild Thing - Noah And The Whale
Blue Moon Rising - Gomez

Light Streams- Esben And The Witch
This Is Hardcore - Pulp

come home - Amatorski
Here We Go Again - Lady Linn

Ariel (Album Version) - Stateless
You Come In Burned - The Dandy Warhols

Tree By The River - Iron & Wine
His Loyal Love - Woven Hand

Magpies - Joan As Police Woman
Beauty Of Speed - Tori Amos

Now That I'm Older - Sufjan Stevens
Gentle Hours - Yo La Tengo

Wind's Voice - Amelie
Parisian Dream - Laura Veirs