Sunday, March 30, 2008
Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #10
"Can anyone make a difference anymore? Can anyone write a protest song?" - Let Robeson Sing, Manic Street Preachers
Even those I would depend on for some sort of political commentary have backed off. Disappointingly, the two truly political songs off the latest Manics album, Imperial Bodybags and Rendition, weren't released as singles. I continue to hope that there will be far more political songs on their next album, but they very likely won't be singles either. The Manics, who used to be so outspoken about the state of world affairs, and who used to court disfavour with their critics and the mass public, have retreated behind anthems of nostalgia. There's such a gap in the music world right now for intelligent political commentary. Are musicians suffering from the same ostensible feelings of apathy and impotence that the rest of the population are?
If you stop and think about it, a lot of the world's problems could be solved if we just got rid of oil and the need for it - alternatives to fossil fuels are possible, but no one is willing to challenge the big oil companies and their backers or sacrifice any of their own comfort. The war in the Middle East could stop and the environment could be saved. But people are too comfortable, too complacent, to bother thinking about it. Instead, they would like to put more smiley-face band-aids on a gaping wound by holding Earth Days or Live 8's. Feel warm and fuzzy for one day to absolve yourself of forgetting about the problem every other day. Or maybe it's just a fundamental human flaw to build a wall against reality to defend our sanity so that we only face a problem once it's gotten so bad it can't be ignored.
A few of the songs on this mix are directly addressing the current state of affairs: Neil Young's brazen call to impeach President Bush; Billy Bragg's exposure of the War in Iraq's true motives; Bright Eyes' brilliant attack on the President's hypocrisy; Bloc Party's slightly more subtle and veiled commentary about Bush; Arcade Fire's song of the current American climate of fundamentalism and fear. And then there are songs that are more generally about politics and the ills of capitalism. I'm going to call this mix Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say.
Let's Impeach the President - Neil Young
Price of Oil - Billy Bragg
When the President Talks to God - Bright Eyes
Stop, Hey, What's That's Sound - Buffalo Springfield
Spanish Bombs - The Clash
Helicopter - Bloc Party
Guns Before Butter - Gang of Four
The Prole Song - Snog
...And We Thought Nation-States Were a Bad Idea - Propagandhi
Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart - Manic Street Preachers
Last Day of the Miners' Strike - Pulp
You've Only Got Yourself to Blame - Stroszek
Intervention - The Arcade Fire
Write to Your MP Today - McCarthy
Margaret on the Guillotine - Morrissey
War on Want - Johnny Boy
Celebration Guns - Stars
Shenandoah - Paul Robeson
Weekly Mix #10 (Megaupload)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Since I was already familiar with the story of The Clash, I learned the most from the film about Strummer's early life, including his time as a hippie, and his post-Clash life. For example, I hadn't been aware that he moved on a whim to Newport before he was in the 101ers or that he was one of those who broke into abandoned council buildings and squatted there. I found it interesting that in many respects he returned to his hippie roots later in life, attempting to reconcile the punk and hippie countercultures. I also hadn't realized how distant his relationship to his parents was. There were also some great humourous anecdotes that I hadn't known about, like when Topper Headon tells the story of how he called Strummer "Woody" when he first met him because Strummer's ears reminded him of Woody Woodpecker, completely unaware that "Woody" was the name associated with Strummer's past hippie persona; Strummer told him to "never fucking call me that again" and Headon wondered at Strummer's sensitivity.
One of the main things Temple's film achieves is painting a clearer picture of who Joe Strummer was, flaws and all. He was independent and tough, partly due to his nature, but also very likely because of his early separation from his parents and loss of his brother. At the same time, he could skillfully avoid confrontation, for which he was alternately labelled Machiavelli and a coward. As tough as he was, he was also sensitive, crying when he found out that news stations were playing Rock the Casbah over footage of Americans bombing Iraq. He was passionate - that was something that came across throughout the film, whether he was living life to its fullest by sleeping under the stars unnecessarily or preaching politics with The Clash or bringing people together around campfires, he was always honestly passionate. He was also a compassionate person who tried to look after others the best he could, giving fans money or a place to stay for the night, worrying about humanitarian causes, chastising the audience for booing Grandmaster Flash, and even looking after a young Courtney Love at her time of need. At the same time, he could be distant and unneccesarily cruel, shedding friends when they no longer suited him and often retreating from his children. Throughout the film, I grew to admire his courage as he faced traumatic experiences over and over; when the end of The Clash could have completely broken him, he did eventually fight and regain his footing. Just as intelligent as he was about world politics, he could be stubbornly silly about smoking, saying that non-smokers shouldn't be allowed to buy things that smokers had made. All in all, he was a rock 'n roll hero. And a human.
This film also made me agree with Bono for once: The Clash should have survived. When I look at the mistakes made by all parties involved, it makes my heart ache with the tragedy. Of course, at the same time, The Clash puts forth a conundrum that I've never been able to work out: when your band is based on being equal to your fans and your message speaks to living like a common person, how do you cope with massive success? It happens over and over again with bands, and generally the solution is either to implode and break up or to explode and lose credibility. In a sense, The Clash did both of those things. I guess I just wish The Clash could have found the magical answer to this problem and could have stayed together. I'll admit I nearly cried when I saw the footage of Strummer and Mick Jones playing White Riot for the Fire Brigades Union benefit, reuniting for the first and last time since The Clash. And it served to remind me of how much it hurt when I found out Strummer died just before there would likely have been a reunion for the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. The remaining members posing for photos for the Hall of Fame honour seemed like a pyrrhic victory.
I left the movie theatre with a mixed feeling of triumph and sadness. After all the events that occurred in Strummer's life, many of them negative, Strummer's belief in humanity shocks me. I don't think I could have lived like he did and still come out the other end feeling that way, feeling that humans are inherently good. But in that way, Strummer inspires me. Though many people out there have probably already had the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it for those who haven't seen it yet. And for those who have seen it, see it again.
More than anything else, this film made me realize how much I miss Joe Strummer.
Keys to Your Heart - The 101ers
The Magnificent Seven - The Clash
Johnny Appleseed - Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
Thursday, March 27, 2008
This past Wednesday at Lee's Palace in Toronto I finally got to watch Glaswegian four-piece, Sons and Daughters, perform live. I became a fan in 2004 when I first heard their debut Love the Cup, however, I lost track of them over the last few years and missed the release of their second album The Repulsion Box. I became aware of them again last year as they began getting more and more attention for their latest album, the Bernard Butler-produced This Gift. When I finally took a listen to This Gift, I marvelled at the difference between it and Love the Cup, a much slower and folkier body of work. I can still reconcile the two by the thread of call and response vocals of Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson and the Celtic lilt of their garage rock, but I was curious about how the live show would go down. I was truly impressed by the energy and unadulterated joy they project on stage. Adele, looking like a cross between a disco diva and Wonder Woman in her blue eyeshadow, gold sequins, purple hotpants, and knee-high gold boots, stomped her feet and brandished her tambourine, leading the band through a breathless aural assault that had the energy of a punk show.
Notably, they played almost exclusively songs from their last two albums The Repulsion Box and This Gift, including opener Gilt Complex, Hunt, Dance Me In, Chains, Flags, Rebel With the Ghost, Taste the Last Girl, Iodine, Rama Lama, Goodbye Service, and The Nest. The only song from Love the Cup to make an appearance was Johnny Cash, and it was re-tooled into a faster piece from the version I remember, naturally to fit in with the newer sound. Their encore included a blistering performance of This Gift followed by the raucous House in My Head. Highlights included Chains, which shuffled along like a rockabilly song, propelled by Scott's "whoah-oh-oh"s, Dance Me In, which felt like a Celtic jig played on speed, and the absolute insanity of House in My Head, where I was certain my own head would be shaken loose. Adele spun around, whipped her microphone cord and flung herself toward the audience, careening like a pinball into all corners of the stage, and at one point, she stood in a playful salute posture. Scott, in his sparkly black shirt and quiff, played his guitar in true guitar hero fashion, his face contorting with passion as he crouched and lurched or ran to the edge of the stage for solos. Bassist, Ailidh Lennon, was more reserved in her black dress and boots as she hung back and kept the rhythm pulsing like a racing heartbeat (her reserve could have some connection to her being sick with flu) while drummer, David Gow, kept a crazy pace through the entire set, heavy on offbeats, forcing you to dance, clap your hands and swing your head. Scott and Adele's vocals are perfectly matched and blend in both sweet lilting and wild yelping. For a band who mentioned their love for Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen, this newer incarnation doesn't quite mesh with those influences anymore. Perhaps they never truly did. Oddly enough, seeing them live, I could now recognize The Smiths in some of the songs like two of my favourites, Darling and Iodine, and Taste the Last Girl - there was something Marresque about the guitar and melodies.
Adding to the overall charm of their show, Adele and Scott talked to the audience in between songs, revealing genuine down-to-earth personalities. Adele prefaced Dance Me In by telling the audience that it was an answer to Leonard Cohen's Dance Me to the End of Love and how excited she was that he was touring again, and she introduced Taste the Last Girl with mention of a rubbish ex-boyfriend. She also joked about how the night before they played a song so fast she almost had cardiac arrest (with the alacrity they played this particular night, I could definitely see how that could happen). With self-deprecating humour, Scott prefaced Rebel With the Ghost with the fact the song was quite easy because it was all "nah-nah-nahs." Close to the end of the show, both Scott and Adele talked about how happy they were to be heading home now because this was the last gig of the North America tour, leading into the catharsis and tour-end celebration of House in My Head. The band I loved in 2004 has changed, but they have convinced me to fall in love with them all over again in 2008.
Darling - Sons and Daughters
Chains - Sons and Daughters
It Moves - Bodies of Water
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #9
This week is a mini-tour of duets. Like cover versions, duets can be novelty or create new meaning through strange pairings. Music award shows are fond of it - often bringing the new and old together in some attempt to bridge gaps while lending credibility to the newer artist and revitalizing the older one. Just like my tendency to despise award shows, I usually don't like award show duets where everything seems forced and gimmicky. I still remember the ridiculous furore at the Grammys when Elton John decided to duet with homophobic Eminem or that bizarre group collaboration singing Across the Universe in 2005 which makes me physically ill to this day. Apparently, this year's Grammys was no different, but I didn't watch them. I merely heard that Kanye West appeared with Daft Punk in what was less of a duet than it was a live sampling, and some pairing of Tina Turner and Beyonce that was more like Beyonce introducing Tina Turner than an actual duet (I still can't get over Jonathan Ross's impression of Tina Turner - it was the funniest and truest impression I've ever seen). The Brit Awards this year also did its fair share of unlikely pairings like Rihanna and Klaxons, which more or less made the latter the former's backing band, and the startling duet of Mika and Beth Ditto in the middle of his performance (as strange as the Sweet Dreams duet they did at T in the Park last year and just as bad).
In this particular mix, I've included some classic duets like The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's perrennial Chistmas favourite Fairytale of New York; David Bowie and Freddie Mercury's anthemic Under Pressure, which has been pillaged for its bassline and covered over and over without ever coming close to the original; and Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel's song of economic despair, Don't Give Up. I've also included some fascinating cover versions by perfect duets - Bjork and PJ Harvey's sinister take on The Rollings Stones' Satisfaction; Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright's fun live version of George Michael's Careless Whisper; Cat Power and Karen Elson's gender bending cover of Serge Gainsbourg's I Love You Me Either; and Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto's funky interpretation of Heaven 17's Temptation (a perfect blend with Cocker's laconic low voice and Ditto's powerful, soulful voice); and Morrissey and Siouxsie's Interlude, a surreal blending of voices that somehow works to great effect. To round everything out, I added some of my favourite original songs performed as duets - Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's haunting Where the Wild Roses Grow with an equally beautiful music video; Gary Lightbody and Martha Wainwright's Set the Fire to the Third Bar, in my opinion, the only truly moving song on Snow Patrol's latest album; Patrick Wolf and Marianne Faithfull performing Magpie on Wolf's latest album, the former's higher, youthful voice contrasting wonderfully with Faithfull's gravelly, deep voice; and the incredible lilting All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun by Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser, a song I never tire of listening to.
I'm going to call this mix Dynamic Duos. These duets are a million times better than anything an award show can concoct.
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Burning Down the House - Tom Jones and The Cardigans
What Have I Done to Deserve This? - Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield
Temptation - Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto
Well, Did You Evah! - Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop
Backlash - Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg
Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie
Hell No - Sondre Lerche and Regina Spektor
Academia - Sia and Beck
Redemption Song - Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer
Satisfaction - Bjork and PJ Harvey
Nothing Compares 2 U - Prince and Rosie Gaines
Careless Whisper - Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright
Don't Give Up - Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel
Where the Wild Roses Grow - Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue
Set the Fire to the Third Bar - Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright
Magpie - Patrick Wolf and Marianne Faithfull
Interlude - Morrissey and Siouxsie
All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun - Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser
I Love You Me Either - Cat Power and Karen Elson
Weekly Mix #9 (Megaupload)
Saturday, March 22, 2008
This past Good Friday was indeed good with The Raveonettes' gig at The Opera House in Toronto. I've never had the privilege to see the Danish duo live before, and I'm very happy I got to witness them on stage. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo filled the vaudeville stage with incredible swathes of sound and intricately crafted noise, the stagefloor littered with effects pedals. Their guitars chirped, chimed, buzzed and bounced throughout the relatively small venue, producing a hybrid of a 50's prom and a space age rave.
Image is just as intrinsic to The Raveonettes as the music - they are a fascinating combination of Europe and Americana. They come across like the aloof cool kids who somehow ended up presiding over a 50's prom in the future. Their symmetry on stage is perfect - Sune stands stage right and Sharin stands stage left, leaving a fairly large gap between them with the androgynous female drummer standing in the middle of the gap towards the back of the stage. And the drummer does stand - she bangs away at the drums like one would in an orchestra rather than sitting behind a traditional drumkit, all to a perfect visual effect. Seeing her sticks come down on the drums in such an obvious way, further emphasizes the classic Ronettes drumbeat that runs throughout most of their songs.
Sune and Sharin contrast but match at the same time - he is slight of build with dark hair while she towers above him on high heels and sports a platinum blonde pageboy haircut. He looks fragile in his Endless Summer t-shirt and skinny jeans, while she looks austere in her sequined black and silver dress. At the same time, they both have the same aloof look on their faces as they stare out over the audience with their kohl-lined eyes. No matter how fast and danceable their music gets, they stay nearly motionless behind their microphones as their hands move in a blur over their guitars. Sometimes this stance is broken as Sharin gently sways her head to the beat and Sune backs away, sliding his pointy shoes around the stage, as he performs a guitar solo. But they always come back to formation, a repressed tension filling the space between them and crackling along with their reverbing guitars. None of this distance makes them appear rude or arrogant - when they speak to the audience in between songs, they appear quite soft-spoken and gracious; instead, they seem to have an inherent, effortless coolness that makes you envy them because you know they're untouchable. You can't take your eyes off them in their mesmerizing detachment.
Blowing through a set that mainly consisted of songs under three minutes, they played many songs off their latest album Lust Lust Lust, opening with Hallucinations, and going on to play Dead Sound, Blush, Lust, Black Satin, You Want the Candy, and The Best Dies. Faster songs like Blush and You Want the Candy soared through the venue propelled by drums and sweet melodies, and Sharin's vocal on The Best Dies in tandem with Sune's lazy lullaby of guitar strumming were entrancing and hypnotic. Sune, staring into the middle distance and flickering his eyelids in an idiosyncratic blink, often strummed while holding the whammy bar as his hand moved up and down the frets with a careless ease. In breaks from vocals, he would hunch over his guitar and lurch in time with the downbeats. Sharin, seeming to be channeling the spirits of Debbie Harry, Nico, and Agnetha from Abba all at once, strummed her guitar with the same abandon and characteristic staccato strums Sune did. They would trade off melodies and effects, taking turns holding down all the strings with one hand while shredding furiously up and down with the other hand. In addition to newer material, they played songs from Pretty in Black, Chain Gang of Love, and their EP Whip It On, including That Great Love Sound, Let's Rave On, Noisy Summer, Love in a Trashcan, Attack of the Ghost Riders, and My Tornado. After the show, a bemused fan couldn't get over the fact that Sharin had actually knelt next to her effects pedals to readjust the calibre of her "noise." The pink and black colour motif that The Raveonettes often use is a perfect one to represent music that is both sweet like bubblegum and dark with dirty distortion, dissonant chords and Velvet Underground-like lyrics of decadence.
The climax of the show for me was the final song of the set proper: the first single off their latest album, Aly, Walk With Me. It's droning darkness and the chiming dissonant guitar chords paired with their nearly monotone vocals makes the song both beautiful and unsettling live. At the end of the song, Sune and Sharin both turned their backs on the audience and hunched over their guitars to make a blazing cacophony of white noise. Their encore was a tender performance of Love Can Destroy Everything followed by a rendition of Twilight, which finally saw Sune and Sharin close the physical gap between them by facing each other and creating a mirror image as their hands flew over their guitars.
I have to mention the opening band, Black Acid, just because they were so terrible. They looked like an identikit indie hipster singer backed by four homeless men. I've never seen a more disinterested band in my life. The singer, wearing red pointy shoes, skinny jeans and a dinner jacket over a t-shirt, was probably trying to seem cool by being indifferent to performing and to his audience, compulsively drinking beer as he walked around the stage in lieu of playing an instrument, but instead he just came off like a boring jackass. His voice was so low in the mix that I could only catch snatches of it - good thing since he sounded like a chipmunk caught in a combine. And the songs they played were so repetitive and endless, I was ready to claw my way out of my own skin. In all their efforts to be as cool as The Raveonettes, they just ended up being their antithesis. And proved that The Raveonettes know what they're doing.
Aly, Walk With Me - The Raveonettes
You Want the Candy - The Raveonettes
That Great Love Sound - The Raveonettes
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Consisting of Anne and Miles, Vanilla Swingers produce delicate, bittersweet music in a style similar to both Stars and Black Box Recorder with undertones of Pet Shop Boys. Their album was recorded with Ian Catt (Saint Etienne, Stars) and mastered by Kramer (Galaxie 500, Low) and it is a concept album that tells "the story of two people who meet, run away, go back in time, lose each other, and meet again in 2015." I can't say I hear too many concept albums these days, and I think this particular idea is an intriguing one for me. And I'll tell you why.
Vanilla Swingers is largely based on John Gray's book Straw Dogs, a piece of philosophy which questions the myth of Humanism and asks why humans believe themselves to be so much more superior to animals when they rarely achieve what they're believed to be capable of. In essence, he turns the myth of human progress on its head. According to an interview done by Rock Sellout, Miles says: "lyrically, besides the story, you might say it’s about the differences between what people actually achieve, what they could achieve and what they believe ‘humanity’ can achieve. The idea of humans being the authors of their own destiny is a powerful myth, probably one that would be difficult to live without. Then there’s a bit of romantic love in there - another myth, if you like, and another one without which things would be pretty bleak. It’s a cliche but I hope it comes across that there’s redemption in beauty and in the whole mess of what it is to be alive and reacting to all the contradictory impulses that make us what we are." So, it appears that Vanilla Swingers sets out to achieve quite a lot while knowing that their very achievement will be another myth. Heady, but brilliant stuff.
I'm hugely impressed by the lyrics of all of the songs, which you can peruse on their Web site. The first song, The Town, of which I only have the lyrics, already grabs my attention and my emotions with its bleak urban/suburban imagery. Echoing Morrissey's apocalyptic seaside town, The Town reads: "There's a cone in the river and a Safeways trolley overturned/By the pre-postmodern business centre someone forgot to burn down." Thankfully, the music lives up to the promise of the lyrics as I listened to the next song, Like Straw Dogs. It obviously namechecks John Gray and Miles' heartbreaking vocals begin the musical dialogue with "All I have is words, words that don't obtain/And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon/So I stay away - it's easier that way/And there won't be no-one I need to rely on" before Anne comes in with "Is it him, is it me/Or is there something only I can see." The strains of a relationship wrought out of myths about identity are felt in every strain of the music and turn of vocal, and hesitant piano blossoms into hard guitars. In a reponse to and as a relief for these tensions, I'll Stay Next To You begins with a crash of thunder, and then drives along to a bassline that mimicks the restless spirit of running away from the terrors and mundanity of reality, which could very well be the same thing. The end of the song echoes that deadpan observational rapping Neil Tennant does in West End Girls before it enters a jamming outro.
A couple of songs later, Danger in the Past begins with a sample from Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love and a host from Top of the Pops - a contrast to the gloom of the present, but also a reminder of the artificiality of romantic love mythmaking and the shiny false promises of the '80's themselves. Then the song kicks in with beautiful hushed vocals by Anne, who is soon joined by Miles in mourning infected hearts and careless memories in a hypnotic, lush melody. For the moody, swaying The Way She Walked Out the Door, Johnny Brown of The Band of Holy Joy steps in with vocals, words and melody, providing an interesting interlude between the lover characters from the other songs and almost acting like a narrator. In the second last song, Goodbye Lennon, against the ticking of a clock and a heartbeat, Anne sings, "It's thirty years since '85/Robbie's dead but Pete's alive/Or so the weblogs say/But no-one's reading them." The mechanics of humanity's progress provide a counterpoint for its very heart as the world continues to lose itself in celebrity myths until it can't be bothered to know anymore. And although everyone's lost in this future, the lovers have lost themselves in each other amidst surging synths and chiming chords. Ultimately, we tell each other and ourselves stories in order to survive as a species.
I'm quite excited about hearing the full album. In the end, somehow Vanilla Swingers still make me believe in love. Even after they've dissected the myth and torn down what it means to be human, I feel more human than ever listening to it.
Web site: http://www.vanillaswingers.com/
I'll Stay Next to You - Vanilla Swingers
Danger in the Past - Vanilla Swingers
The Way She Walked Out the Door - Vanilla Swingers
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #8
It was inevitable. If I made a St. David's Day mix a couple weeks ago, I had to make a St. Patrick's Day mix for today. Strangely enough, I discovered I didn't own nearly as much Irish music as I thought I did. Music that came from Irish descendants, yes. Music that may sound like it could be Irish, yes. But music that actually came from Irish people, not as much. Unlike others making St. Patrick's Day mixes, I didn't want to include bands with Irish ties but which didn't actually come from Ireland. So, you won't find Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys. That would be making my life too easy. You're all lucky that I didn't get tired and didn't just throw in tracks by Daniel O'Donnell and Ronan Keating.
I've been to Ireland once (during that famous backpacking trip around Europe in 2003), but I would like to go back and see more of it. I only managed to get to Dublin, nearby Dun Laoghaire, and Sligo. And I will admit that my experience of Ireland is heavily coloured by the raging sinus infection I had at the time. Dublin is a blur of painkillers and kleenex. I vaguely remember going to the museum and viewing Egyptian artifacts and an interesting exhibit on the IRA (as interested as I am in Welsh history, I've also always had quite an interest in "The Troubles"). I think I also walked along the shoreline in Dun Laoghaire in a medicated haze. Oh yeah, and I also remember being pelted by rocks by small Irish children. I enjoyed Sligo and Sligo County more despite having to take an afternoon off to sleep in the hostel. I still remember the sympathetic look from the guy behind the counter in a Sligo sandwich shop - I appreciated it considering I looked like Rudolph with the pox. By taking a bus tour, I saw the Isle of Innisfree, the Carrowmore megalithic cemetery, Dolly's Cottage, and the Holy Well, interspersed with rattling along in the bus listening to Yeats's poetry over the PA system. Unfortunately, my only experience of Northern Ireland was the ferry port in Belfast, but I hope to get back there one day.
From U2 as a child, on to my discovery of Irish music as a teenager. When I was about fourteen, I first heard I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats and Teenage Kicks by The Undertones, and I recall quite liking them, prompting me to seek out other music of that period (once again, at the time, I didn't know Bob Geldof's more recent history and the fact he didn't really ever have another hit). When I was eighteen and living and working in Northeast England, I first heard Ash, watching the video for Girl From Mars on TV. From there on in, I became an Ash fan, and sometime after that, I found JJ72, a Dublin band fronted by a cherubic boy with a childlike voice that could explode into shrill beauty. Unfortunately, JJ72 disbanded after two albums, but singer, Mark Greaney, has now moved on in a band called Concerto for Constantine whilst bassist Sarah Fox joined industrial rock band Lluther. In adulthood, I got into The Pogues, My Bloody Valentine, Whipping Boy, and several others. However, I'm still surprised that there aren't more Irish artists in my collection. If anyone out there knows of a particularly great Irish band or artist, I would love to hear about it.
All in all, this is a mix of well-known and not-so-well-known Irish artists from my collection. Admittedly, I'm not much of a Van Morrison fan, but I figured he should be included in an Irish mix. I would also like to acknowledge that I'm probably the only person in the world who liked Snow Patrol's Final Straw album more than their latest because Chasing Cars just doesn't seem to have an effect on me - thus, I included an earlier song on the mix. Also, you can't get much more Irish than Gavin Friday singing a duet with actor, Cillian Murphy, for the Breakfast on Pluto soundtrack. I wish I had some more traditional Celtic music to add to the mix, but it will have to wait until next year. Regardless of my apparently meagre Irish music collection, I think Ireland is a country filled with art, history and beauty - had this been a literature blog, I would have had an endless list. (I don't need people thinking that I hold my sinus infection against an entire nation.) I'm going to call this mix Hear Me, I'm Irish.
"Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays." - Oscar Wilde
Girl From Mars - Ash
I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats
The Irish Rover - The Pogues
Who Died and Made You Elvis? - Stiff Little Fingers
Male Model - The Undertones
Fear - Paddy Casey
Stop - Delorentos
I Will Follow - U2
When We Were Young - Whipping Boy
Sand - Gavin Friday and Cillian Murphy
Snow - JJ72
Phantom - Mellow Drops
Sometimes - My Bloody Valentine
How to Be Dead - Snow Patrol
Our Love Goes Deeper Than This - Duke Special
Sweet Thing - Van Morrison
Black Water Child - Fionn Regan
Cannonball - Damien Rice
Singin' in the Rain - Gavin Friday
Weekly Mix #8 (Megaupload)
Friday, March 14, 2008
This year several bands and artists that I'm either already familiar with or enamoured with are participating in SXSW. These include the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, British Sea Power, Cut Copy, Chromeo, Crystal Castles, Digitalism, The Dykeenies, The Fashion, Frightened Rabbit, The Hourly Radio, Los Campesinos!, MGMT, MSTRKRFT, Jim Noir, People in Planes, Thieves Like Us, The Ting Tings, Tokyo Police Club, The Raveonettes, Shy Child, Simian Mobile Disco, Sons and Daughters, Switches, These New Puritans, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, The Whip, and from my hometown, The Weakerthans. There are also several big name acts lined up this year, including The Slits (a fact I had to read a few times to believe), R.E.M., Perry Farrell, and Billy Bragg, who will be performing both on his own and with a group of artists billed as Body of War. Rather than re-hash my opinions about artists I already know and/or love, I figured I would try to discover some new bands worthy of a listen - all from the comfort and/or confinement of my apartment. In this way, I shall simulate the experience of SXSW for all of us who are not there.
And so I painstakingly went through the list of registered artists for this year's showcase...
Bodies of Water: This band from California caught my eye because I realized that they're going to be the opening band for Sons and Daughters in Toronto in a couple of weeks (at least that's what my ticket says). They sound a bit like Sons and Daughters used to sound in the Love the Cup days - a bit folky, a bit rock, a soulful female lead vocalist. Although, Bodies of Water also sound a bit like a choir even though there are only four members. They also sound a bit like organized chaos in an Arcade Fire sort of way. The song they included for sampling I Guess I'll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess is as rambling as its title, and in the process, wanders in a number of interesting directions only to come back to a rousing chorus backed by brass instruments. On their MySpace page, you can download their haunting cover of R.E.M.'s Everybody Hurts. And anyone who cites The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in their list of influences is bound to get my attention.
The Black Ghosts: Apparently, London-based The Black Ghosts are a new project from Simon Lord (ex-Simian, vocalist on Simian vs Justice's “We Are Your Friends”) and Theo Keating (Touche, ex-Wiseguys). I was bound to like a project that included someone out of Simian, and anyone who likes Simian Mobile Disco, Digitalism, or Justice would like The Black Ghosts. The Black Ghosts differ from these bands in their fey, electropop vocals and less of a focus on fuzzed out, dirty beats. Their sample track, Any Way You Choose to Give It, is representative of the music I've heard by them thus far - catchy electropop.
Deluka: From Birmingham, England, this dance-rock four-piece reminds me of New Young Pony Club and Dragonette - in other words, like a sleazy, but detached female vocalist over top electronic beats and fast guitars. I quite like their song Ike and Tina, a song obviously about an abusive relationship, which can be heard on their MySpace page.
Descartes a Kant: This band from Mexico caught my eye by including two 18th-century philosophers in their band name (because I'm getting more and more pretentious). The more I delved into this band, the more I'm glad I found them. Their influences range from Mike Patton to Regina Spektor to Dresden Dolls to Danny Elfman. The song they included for sampling, My Sweetest Headache Waltz, sounds exactly as the title dictates - Sandrushka Petrova's vocals veer from sweet and childlike to Daisy Chainsaw-like screams and squeals as the song spins around your head. Their music is a cacophony of influences and genres where screaming vocals can flow in and out of Gershwin-like piano strains and rhythms are never stable. Descartes a Kant feels like a child's nightmare. Or like a music box that will open up and eat you. Or like a circus that will appear in the dead of night and steal you. Their MySpace profile has an injured, but adorable rabbit on it, which only made me love them more. I highly recommend this band.
The Indelicates: From Brighton, The Indelicates are a male/female duo with influences including Luke Haines, The Jam, and Bruce Springsteen, and they apparently sound like "Kate Bush in a Weimar era nightclub or Queen fronted by two Morrisseys." The male vocals are definitely reminiscent of Luke Haines and the female vocals are pretty close to Kate Bush's. Supposedly, Art Brut's Eddie Argos described The Indelicates as "Luke Haines and the E-Street Band." Any way you look at it, aside from the Springsteen, The Indelicates sound like they're very much in line with my musical tastes. However, I can see how the expansive "Born to Run" guitars on several of the Indelicates' tracks could generate that sort of comparison. The Indelicates are intelligent and quirky, and I think I'm in love with them.
Fionn O'Lochlainn: Endorsed by Billy Bragg, Fionn O'Lochlainn has shades of Jeff Buckley in his voice and his songs are laced with a keening emotion. O'Lochlainn uses a mandola, which I just learned is not necessarily a mandolin, but close to one. The sample song, Zone, is a tight rock song with country flourishes (very likely because of that mandola), and I quite like it despite my general aversion to country. Of course being endorsed by Billy Bragg means you have some sort of political presence, and O'Lochlainn's MySpace page is littered with political quotes and socially-conscious blogs (I particularly like the blog featuring an article about Facebook). If you like Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, or Billy Bragg, I would definitely recommend Fionn O'Lochlainn.
The Russian Futurists: Hailing from Toronto, The Russian Futurists are one of those bands with an intellectual name and intelligent lyrics to match. This particular band also has a great indie-pop sensibility with catchy melodies. The syncopated chimes of Let's Get Ready to Crumble are fantastically twee while intelligent, poetic lyrics soar along. They're like a more electronic version of Belle & Sebastian with bits of psychedelia stringing it all together.
The People's Revolutionary Choir: Jim Reid-approved band, The People's Revolutionary Choir, reflects the muffled, shoegazey vocals of The Jesus and Mary Chain, but with a background more akin to The La's. They're psychedelic like early Pink Floyd and sound like early Rolling Stones, so naturally, they also have some Primal Scream in them. They end their Band Description on MySpace with a quote from Oscar Wilde: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." Endearing.
...And so we come to the end of our little tour of SXSW 2008. There were a couple of bands that I had hoped would be good based upon their names or locations - Canadian band, Birds of Wales, turned out to have trite lyrics bordering on adolescent cliches that overshadowed the fact they had Wales in their name, and as much as I wanted to support a band called The Voom Blooms from Loughborough (bizarrely, I feel as though I have ties to Loughborough after living in the next town over for more than a month, and it also has a music store with one of the best names ever: The Left-Legged Pineapple), but they were just like all those other boring guitar bands and would definitely take my credibility down a few notches. So much for Loughborough.
I can dream that one day I will get to go to SXSW, but knowing me, I'll end up spending all the money I save on a trip overseas before I ever make it to Texas. And even if I did make it there, I have a feeling I would be paralyzed in the middle of some street in Austin, not knowing where I should go next. And, eventually, my head would explode. Skull shards everywhere.
SXSW Web site: http://2008.sxsw.com/music
BBC Introducing Showcase: www.bbc.co.uk/introducing
I Guess I'll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess - Bodies of Water
Any Way You Choose to Give It- The Black Ghosts
Sleep is Impossible - Deluka
My Sweetest Headache Waltz - Descartes a Kant
Julia, We Don't Live in the 60's - The Indelicates
Zone - Fionn O'Lochlainn
Let's Get Ready to Crumble - The Russian Futurists
Do You Feel Like I Do? - The People's Revolutionary Choir
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've personally never been a fan of Hegarty's voice - yes, I know he won a Mercury Prize, but his voice was so warbly it drove me crazy if I listened to it too long. Oddly enough, his voice in this newer context of electro beats and disco drums, instead of the usual piano-backing, works quite well. In fact, the idiosyncracies of his signature tortured, vibrato-laden voice add to the soulfulness of this re-working of the disco genre. Lead-off single Blind has a fantastic bassline pulsating beneath Hegarty's distinctive divaesque warble. In my opinion, without Hegarty's vocals on this track, it wouldn't have had the same power and originality. While it pumps along with its powerful bassline and conga drum backing, its lyrics relate a bittersweet story of someone looking back at his/her life and realizing s/he is now alone. Musically, the later track Raise Me Up follows along the same lines as Blind. Two other Hegarty tracks, album beginner Time Will, a sorrowful song in which Hegarty "cannot be half a wife, cannot hold half a life," and Easy, another slow track with his voice brought into a low, sinister register, are decidedly more reined in than songs like Blind and Raise Me Up.
Of course Hegarty isn't the only vocalist on this project, and several of the tracks feature Foxman and Nomi in breathy vocals which sometimes recall Prince and sometimes recall the lead singer of Dragonette. Hercules Theme, which is one such track featuring Foxman and Nomi, struts along like Parliament with a catchy horn refrain while their smooth vocals roll along over top of it. This is My Love, another track without Hegarty, sounds like it could be a Hot Chip song with its lilting vocals, disco shimmer and trumpet noodlings. On tracks like You Belong, Foxman, Nomi and Hegarty all complement each other, Hegarty providing a strong, distinctive backdrop for lead vocals and a contrasting movement for the lead vocal to melt into during the chorus.
As an album, Hercules & Love Affair is both straightforward and complex. It's straightforward in its use of danceable disco beats and retro basslines, but it fuses this genre with early house music and electro in an act of contemporization. Its mood is also deceptively celebratory in its uptempo dance anthems, but at the same time, an undercurrent of sadness and loss flows beneath them like a River Styx, which occasionally gushes up and saturates the slower, darker songs. With the more laidback, brooding songs like Time Will, Easy, and Iris, you can sometimes forget that this is supposed to be a disco record. They're still very well-crafted songs, but they are also evidence that the singles leaked thus far (Blind, Hercules Theme, Athene, and b-side Roar) aren't exactly representative of the album as a whole. What's a love affair without a little grief, though?
Blind - Hercules & Love Affair
Hercules Theme - Hercules & Love Affair
Easy - Hercules & Love Affair
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #7
My personal connection to punk is one that actually started relatively later in life than for most. I was about nineteen when I first got into punk. Unlike most angsty teenagers, I wasn't particularly rebellious as a teen and I didn't feel all that angry at the world just yet. Once I left high school, things definitely changed. I became pretty disillusioned with everything - I didn't know where I was headed and all the promises that education made seemed pretty useless. I spent two years taking a communications diploma, knowing that I hated the field because whether I took journalism, public relations or advertising, I would be selling my soul everyday, and learning that I was more than likely bound to become a capitalist prole for the rest of my life. I was frustrated and directionless and...then I found The Clash.
Songs from their debut album, like Clash City Rockers, White Riot, What's My Name and Career Opportunities, were life-changing - they expressed all the frustration I felt through crashing chords and Joe Stummer's nearly incomprehensible vocals. I soon purchased other Clash albums and started reading anything I could about the band. In my pursuit of all things The Clash, I found the rest of the 1976-77 UK punk scene: Sex Pistols, The Damned, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Buzzcocks, The Adverts, and X-Ray Spex. Their songs were provocative, nihilistic, and the farthest thing from romantic - everything I wanted in music at the time.
Not only did the blistering music grip me, but I embraced the punk aesthetic. I wanted to dress like a punk (of course I realize that the whole idea of a "credible" punk fashion actually reveals punk to be one of many poses that was, in many ways, similar to movements before it) and annoy people. When I backpacked through Europe at age twenty, I made sure I visited Camden Town and purchased a London Calling t-shirt and a pair of tartan bondage trousers from a dodgy store where I had to try on clothes on a landing. Eventually, I expanded from the UK punk scene to its American predecessors: The Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, and New York Dolls. Out of all the punk bands The Clash will always remain my favourite because they stood for something more than nihilism - they made politics cool and managed to ride out the punk wave with dignity and innovative blending of musical genres.
For a decent history of British punk, read Jon Savage's England's Dreaming, and for something more academic, read Dick Hebdige's seminal work Subculture and Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces. As for punk on film, watch Derek Jarman's Jubilee. I didn't try to be particularly original in making this mix - it's actually fairly typical of punk compilations. But in the end, I think that they're the songs that drew me to punk in the first place and I don't see the point of being pretentious about it and searching out the most obscure tracks. I'm going to call this mix A Riot of My Own, and just like punk itself, it hammers away and runs its course quickly. But it feels brilliant.
Kick Out the Jams - MC5
Personality Crisis - New York Dolls
I Wanna Be Your Dog - Iggy and The Stooges
Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
Blank Generation - Richard Hell and the Voidoids
Chinese Rocks - Johnny Thunders
God Save the Queen - Sex Pistols
White Riot - The Clash
Orgasm Addict - Buzzcocks
Pogo Dancing - The Vibrators
New Rose - The Damned
One Chord Wonders - The Adverts
Nobody's Scared - Subway Sect
Zerox - Adam and the Ants
Hong Kong Garden - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Ready, Steady, Go - Generation X
In the City - The Jam
The Saints Are Coming - The Skids
Peaches - The Stranglers
Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n Roll - Ian Dury & the Blockheads
Suspect Device (Alternative Take) - Stiff Little Fingers
Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
Oh Bondage, Up Your's! - X-Ray Spex
Weekly Mix #7 (Megaupload)
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Although These New Puritans have been getting attention for over a year in the blogosphere, I figured I would weigh in on their debut album Beat Pyramid, which will release in North America on March 18 on Domino (the Brits have already had the album for a month via Angular Records, which brought us the likes of Bloc Party, Art Brut and The Long Blondes - an impressive roster). On paper, These New Puritans seem inevitably like a post-punk band. Named after a song by The Fall and having their debut album produced by Gareth Jones of Wire, this band from Southend-on-Sea has been aptly compared to both bands. After listening to them, I will even add Gang of Four to this list of post-punk influences. However, TNP - who are twin brothers, Jack and George Barnett, Thomas Hein and Sophie Sleigh-Johnson - don't quite fold up neatly into a post-punk paper crane either.
TNP released a self-distributed EP in 2006 called Now Pluvial, which featured three tracks - Elvis, C 16th, and En Papier - that are now included in a modified form on Beat Pyramid. They were also involved in making a soundtrack for Hedi Slimane and the 2007 Dior Homme Show (as every music magazine has made particular mention of, attempting to link the band with some sort of fashion aesthetic). The hypnotic fifteen-minute track for this particular fashion show, Navigate, Navigate, along with a DFA remix b-side, has been released as a single in North America, preceding Beat Pyramid.
Beat Pyramid features a stunning total of sixteen tracks - of course in Pink Flag fashion, most of the tracks are less than three minutes long. In fact, several tracks clock in at less than a minute and serve more as transitions between tracks. No matter - there's always room for pretentious arty 30-second tracks of background noise. Not to mention the first and final tracks, ..ce I Will Say This Twice and I Will Say This Twi.., respectively, cleverly tie the whole album into a giant loop. While TNP have terrific minimalist/primal drumbeats, angular guitars, ticking-away hi-hats, and barking, often repetitive vocals reminiscent of Gang of Four, The Fall, and Wire, they also have synthesizer distortion filling in gaps and a more dance-punk feel than their post-punk predecessors. The frenetic track Elvis actually leans so far into this dance-punk direction, it could be a track by The Rapture. Other tracks like Doppelganger, a purely instrumental track, and Costume, which alternately plods and hovers behind a wall of sound, are slower and more shoegaze than jerky post-punk. En Papier, which begins in a jagged, minimalist manner but ultimately trails off into a spacey, distortion-filled jam, fuses both extremes of the TNP sound. To add further to TNP's eclectic sound, Infinity ytinifnI reminds me of TV on the Radio with its echoey drums and its surging, buzzing washes of sound.
As far as lyrics go, well...varied lyrics aren't exactly part of the TNP formula for me - they tend to stick to one main phrase and repeat it until it has firmly drilled through your forehead and taken up lodgings in the folds of your brain matter (example: "What's your favourite number and what does it mean?" from Numerology (AKA Numbers) and "Four of your pounds, cha, cha, cha, cha" from £4). I read somewhere that their lyrics are abstract and literary, but I think they're abstract like a calculus textbook. Not necessarily a bad thing - calculus can be crazy.
Are they worthy of all the buzz? I think they're worthy of at least two thirds of it. I look forward to hear how they develop over time (they're young yet) because they obviously don't fit into a neat trendy category like New Rave, nor have they taken the path of zero resistance (AKA the post-Libertines path). Their music is a cacophony of genres and more experimental than many of their peers. At the very least, you have to give them credit for having the credible influences they do. They are spawned from the same scene as The Horrors, but while The Horrors are a string of goth paper dolls, These New Puritans are like one of those paper fortune tellers you make as a child - you never quite know what you're going to get.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
So, if you're an Orange Juice fan and fancy buying some music for a good cause, pop over to the above link.
Felicity - Orange Juice (Radio One Session 1981)
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #6
In honour of St. David's Day today, my weekly mix will be strictly Welsh. Those who know me know that I have a fairly bizarre obsession with Wales - I'm not remotely Welsh in origin. I explained my affinity for the Welsh in a blog I wrote last year:
Yes, my favourite band is the Manic Street Preachers, who are Welsh and sing about many a thing Welsh, and perhaps they were the ones to raise my awareness of Welsh politics, history and culture, but they raised my awareness of many other more general things. There was no need for me to read three books on Welsh history because I like the Manics, but I did.
But what I found was a nation struggling with its own sense of nationalism and identity as it was relegated to the outskirts of British, and to some extent international, consciousness. You tell people you're going to Wales and they often look a bit confused, but if you say England, Scotland or Ireland, they will nod approvingly and their eyes light up with recognition. There are generally no travel books devoted to Wales (Ireland and Scotland often get their own or at the very least are paired up in their own book) and several broader guides refer to Wales as England's unloved backyard. It's a shame because the Welsh landscape is probably the most spectacular in the British Isles and its history is incredibly interesting; however, their preoccupation with the past is probably regarded by some Welsh as nostalgia gone wild and an unhealthy impulse. And there again, is further evidence of a national identity crisis, but one that almost seems a bit atypical (when have Canadians wondered if perhaps dwelling on their history was a bad idea or counterproductive?).
There hasn't been much of a rebellion in Wales since the days of Owain Glwndwr unless you count various revolutionary-type acts like the Rebecca Rioters and the miners' strikes, but these acts in themselves just seem so noble and anti-establishment that I can't help but love them (not to mention the idea of men riding around in dresses destroying things is the perfect type of subversion for me). The working class socialist mentality that has formed a large part of the Welsh identity strikes a chord with me. I want to fight the Man, but never quite succeed. But, hey, that's when you produce your best art, right?
And so Wales remains in a bit of a tough spot. Unlike Ireland, Wales hasn't really resorted to extreme violence in order to break free, and I don't think they really should - it somehow doesn't fit with their character. Despite Plaid Cymru and the Free Wales Army (sadly the object of some ridicule), Wales just doesn't seem to have that much of a strong push on a difficult path to national realization. They have a national assembly now (a relatively recent occurrence), but it is essentially governed by Downing Street. They have tried to get Welsh back in schools to keep it alive, and I hope that their efforts aren't in vain. I would like Wales to find its way in spite of anglicization and its further exploitation at the hands of the English (first rape their land, then retire there). But the cynic in me also thinks there's just been too much bleeding and blending over Offa's Dyke to force a real separation. Then again, maybe the road to national identity doesn't need an official separation. Maybe in some way, I identify with being an underdog or an outsider and with a bit of the bitterness of being an unacknowledged appendage attached to a cocky empire (it frightens me to think we could someday become an American colony).
One observation I didn't make at the time was the Welsh connection to music, and it's a strong one. From their history of the pipe and the harp right through to some of the most renowned male choirs in the world, Wales is a poetic, lyrical nation of music. Granted, Wales is often known around the world for producing singers like Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, and Bonnie Tyler, and the viola-playing Welshman, John Cale of The Velvet Underground fame, but when you look a little deeper, you'll find the likes of the twee, Peels-approved Melys; the psychedelic Super Furry Animals; the gentle, quirky folk of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci; the sweet C86 goodness of The Darling Buds; the political scattershot of Mclusky; the distinctive childish rasp of Cerys Matthews; and of course, the always meaningful rock of the Manics. The Welsh music scene continues to grow with singers from some of the older guard either doing solo projects or going solo (Euros Childs, Gruff Rhys, Cerys Matthews, James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire) or new bands rising from the ashes of older ones (Future of the Left is the phoenix of Mclusky and Jarcrew) to brand new bands like The Donde Stars (melancholy, anthemic melodies), The Victorian English Gentlemens Club (crazy, jerky art rock), Cymbient (reminiscent of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals at their most laidback), People in Planes (passionate indie rock), The Shoplifters (politically-motivated with alternating jangly and heavy guitars), and Los Campesinos! (a band which I initially avoided on account of them being hyped by NME, but which ended up being a bit like a young, Welsh Broken Social Scene, thus surprisingly good). In addition to songs from all of these new bands, I've also included a song by Donde Stars member, Matthew Harris, who sounds like a Ryan Adams from Pontypool.
Missing from this mix are bands I don't like or am relatively indifferent to, such as Lostprophets, Funeral for a Friend, Feeder, and the exceptionally terrible The Automatic (every country has its unfortunate music). I also haven't included anything from new retro-Amy-Winehouse-like singer Duffy because I frankly don't know how I feel about her yet. However, as maligned as they are and as bland as they often are, I've included a track from Stereophonics (it's from their first album, which is the only one I've listened to more than once or twice) - judge as you will. I've included songs in the Welsh language where I could (I reckon it's weird enough that I have several Welsh language songs to choose from) - I think it's a beautiful, strange language, and those who ridicule it deserve to be called a racist by James Dean Bradfield on national television (a particularly amusing interview from about ten years ago, which ended in complete awkward discomfort for the television presenter). This mix is entitled I Love Cymru. And anyone who uses the words "sheepshagger" or "boyo" will have his/her heart taken out with a lovespoon. By a former miner.
Delilah - Tom Jones
Ni Yw Y Byd - Gruff Rhys
December Song - Cymbient
Gewn Ny Gorffen? - Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
The Sound of America - Matthew Harris
Hi Mewn Socasu - Euros Childs
Dazed, Beautiful and Bruised - Catatonia
Difywyd - Melys
You Can Keep the Kids - The Donde Stars
The Other Night - The Darling Buds
We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives! - Los Campesinos!
The Ballad of Tom Jones - Space and Cerys Matthews
Paris 1919 - John Cale
Gettin', Havin' and Holdin' - Scritti Politti
A Thousand Trees - Stereophonics
Lazer Beam - Super Furry Animals
Pretty Buildings - People in Planes
Rusty James (Live) - The Shoplifters
Die in the Summertime - Manic Street Preachers
Forget Him, I'm Mint - Mclusky
Suddenly It's a Folk Song - Future of the Left
Ban the Gin - The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
Derek Jarman's Garden - Nicky Wire
Weekly Mix #6 (Megaupload)