Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Christmas present to you... a hand-picked mix CD. What could be better? Sick of the Christmas song complilations and end of year lists at all the other music blogs? Well, this one shuns all that and is country all the way! 20 modern country (and country-influenced/-tinged) songs that you can download and burn to a CD.

I'm still very much learning here, and have spent two days (!) figuring out how to do streamings (so that you can preview it in Windows Media Player, should you want to, before downloading to your hard drive), convert file types, and host mp3s. I am yet to learn how to make a 'play' button here in the blog, or how to host mp3s myself (i.e. not using a third party programme), but I'm getting there. Any tips from those in the know would be great...and if there are any problems with the stuff below, please let me know, because it will also help me to learn (and of course to rectify it)!
Other than that, just enjoy y'all...Happy Holidays!

Divinyl's Devilishly Good Country Christmas:

1. Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel
Streaming (wma)
2. Cherryholmes - How Long?
3. Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh - Let's Run Away
4. Devon Sproule - Old Virginia Block
5. Uncle Earl - Drinker Born

6. Adam Hood - Play Something We Know
7. Lucinda Williams - Metal Firecracker
8. Renegade Rail - Fat Girls And Weed

9. The Geraldine Fibbers - Outside Of Town
mp3 download

10. blacktopGYPSY - Ain't Your Mama
mp3 download
11. Sam Baker - Sweetly Undone
mp3 download

12. The Be Good Tanyas - Lakes Of Pontchartrain
13. Gillian Welch - Caleb Mayer
mp3 download

14. Sunny Sweeney - Mama's Opry
mp3 download

15. Walt Wilkins and The Mystiqueros - Trains I Missed
mp3 download

16. Eilen Jewell - Rich Man's World
mp3 download

17. Jolie Holland - Sascha
mp3 download

18. Stacey Earle - Promise You Anything
mp3 download

19. KD Lang - Big Boned Gal
mp3 download

20. Laura Cantrell - Lee Harvey Was A Friend Of Mine (Live)
mp3 download

And don't forget that you can still enter my competition to win a real CD where you don't have to do any work downloading and burning and such!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sam Baker interview with Bob Harris

This is just a brief post to let you know that Sam Baker has posted the interview he did with Bob Harris, whilst he was in the UK, over on his website. For any not familiar, Bob Harris is a total country music guru, who hosts a weekly country radio programme over here. He plays some really great stuff, and it's an awesome way to come across artists that are new to you...he really does have good taste, and it's none of this godawful 'Nashpop' that is the only thing that gets played on country radio over in the States (well, unless you listen to online that is!).
You can, of course, listen to Bob's Radio 2 show online here (new show every Thursday and it's available to listen to for the following week...and where you can also, if you scroll down a little bit, currently listen to a brief interview with Sunny Sweeney about her love of Merle Haggard...check out that darling accent!). He also hosts a Saturday show, which is here (where you can also read a bit of a bio). And if you go to his own website you can have a gander at his playlists.
To listen to Bob's interview with Sam Baker, just go to Sam's website (FYI, if you don't already know, the picture on this page is of Harris and not Baker), where you can stream it in the page; there are three songs performed for the show - Orphan, Broken Fingers and Angels - so you get a bit of a chance to listen to his music too.

Video = Sam Baker singing Truale onstage with Romi Mayes and the amazing Gurf Morlix at the Great Northern Picnic in August this year.

Video = Bible with Romi Mayes taking the lead (same date - August 11th 2007).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Birdie Busch 'Penny Arcade' and many others on Apollo Audio

Indubitably, this will not be the first place you have read about Birdie Busch and her latest (second) album Penny Arcade, released on Bar/None Records on September 25th this year. Forgive me the 'just in case' intro. Don't be put off by the rather silly moniker, as this album is a a corker.
Emily "Birdie" Busch sounds old-timey and young and modern at the same time. As per many of my ramblings, this is folky female singer-songwriter territory, but Busch is a cut above most of the mob. Her songs are not over-produced and sound like she has just picked up a guitar and is strumming for a circle of friends. This sounds like a laid back afternoon sitting laughing in a sunny field, a piece of grass in the side of your mouth, a picnic (complete with home made lemonade) on the blanket beside you, kids in the periphery frolicking by a, really it does, as flowery and girlish as that description may be.
Busch grew up in Collingswood, New Jersey, and is now based in Philadelphia but, to my mind, location is not important to this sound. All the songs here are good and eminently listenable, including a great cover of The Steve Miller Band's Wild Mountain Honey. The intro to the song Heel To Toe sounds like Loves Me Like A Rock (which is a very good thing indeed) and children of the 80s will be pleased with Go Go Gadget Heart.
Listen if you like: Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins, Laura Cantrell, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan.
Buy this album (and her previous CD The Ways We Try) here...or have a scout about elsewhere, as I'm sure it must come cheaper than that!
Check her out on MySpace (she does have her own website, but it doesn't appear to be very up-to-date).
Or...and this is the most exciting bit (and essentially the reason I decided to post this)...head over to Apollo Audio to listen to a full, free streaming of the album!
I only discovered Apollo Audio recently, but my what a website! It can be temperamental (certainly on my PC), e.g. you are supposed to be able to embed the album streamings elsewhere, as I was planning to do here, but it didn't work consistently enough to include it in the post. Still, when it works, you have access to loads of great album streamings, and all for free, which is a brilliant way to try out new music.
There are some big names over there:
Richard Hawley, Jack Penate, Devendra Banhart, Nicole Atkins, Ulrich Schnauss, Mark Ronson, Electrelane, Jarvis Cocker, Yo La Tengo, M. Ward, Midlake, Peaches, Thom Yorke, Mojave 3, Regina Spektor, Espers, Gnarls Barkley.
There are also plenty that you are unlikely to have heard of, so it's ripe for some exploration!

Download: Go Go Gadget Heart
(Oops, apologies kids, this one doesn't work...but it is a great song worth checking out...all the more reason to listen to the streaming and then buy the album!)

P.s. Have you entered my competition to win a CD yet?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

COMPETITION: My favourite soundtrack - Stealing Beauty...something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Whilst I can take or leave the film itself, the soundtrack to Stealing Beauty, released in 1996, is a total winner. It features an eclectic mix of songs old and (at the time) new, which complement each other fabulously.

It all kicks off with Hoover's 2 Wicky, which was enough to send me out to buy their album A New Stereophonic Sound Spectacular, which I picked up at a record fair for something ridiculous like 20p...those were the days! Great album, by the way; you might find it by Hooverphonic, as opposed to simply Hoover...they have released under both names. Something to do with copyright and such I presume. The OST liner notes inform me that this one was written by Burt Bacharach, Hal David and others, although it really doesn't sound like it! It also features a sample from Isaac Hayes' Walk On By. We are greeted with a beaty, but downtempo treat...ethereal vocals over some fairly insistent bass and a refrain of "Wa wa" which, somehow, is not annoying in the least. This is a great song; listen if you like: Lamb, Mazzy Star (who show their faces later on here), Euro trip hop.

Next, sticking with the lazy Sunday afternoon chillout feel, we get Portishead's Glory Box. One of their better known tracks, this is lush strings, catchy backing beats and Beth Gibbons' distinctive voice. Glory Box is gorgeous, breathy and almost perfect...a song that could almost define the time in music (1994) in which it was released. Wistful, lonely, pining, ultimately defiant, and lovely throughout. Listen if you like: Everything But The Girl, Massive Attack.

Next up are Axiom Funk featuring Bootsy Collins with If 6 Was 9. This song was, of course, written by Jimi Hendrix but here, produced by Bill Laswell (who you may have heard with Sacred System), it is given a very 90s makeover. There are some pleasing guitar licks (as one would hope for with a cover of a Hendrix song), still present are the funky drumbeats, as with the soundtrack so far and this, in places, borders on psychadelic. There are also some nice Stevie Wonder-esque 'talky bits'. Listen if you like: Galliano, Morcheeba, perhaps even a stoned Lenny Kravitz, or that song Underwater Love by Smoke City.

For Track 4, we move into 'classic' territory with John Lee Hooker and Annie Mae. I'm sure there is little that I need to tell you about this song. The piano work is corking and totally makes the song. And of course the voice ain't half bad either! To me, on this track Hooker sounds (purposefully) confused and disorientated, like someone lost and searching for the woman for whom he is pining; when he sings "I can't live without you" I definitely believe him. Listen if you like: John Lee Hooker! Oh, ok, or Ray Charles, Dr John or Howlin' Wolf.

Cranking things up a notch, next we have Liz Phair's Rocket Boy, which served as my introduction to her music (she's great if you are not already familiar with her, particularly her lyrics, although her back catalogue can be a little patchy). This is great teenage music which, after all, is what the film itself is about (the film, although that is not what I am here to talk about, is worth seeing for the beautiful, sun-drenched Tuscan landscapes, but it is not a brilliant film in and of itself). Rocket Boy is all loud guitars and angsty female vocals, which is absolutely fine by me, and strangely fits in rather well here. Listen if you like: The Breeders, Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple.

Up next is a song which really needs no introduction - Stevie Wonder with Superstition. Was there ever a more captivating riff? This is funk mode Wonder at his very best. If this song was the only legacy that he left behind, it would be a remarkable legacy. As it is, this isn't even the tip of the iceberg...Wonder is a definite inclusion in my top five recording artists list (should I make one), and that is saying something! His wonderful soulful voice and superlative songwriting are enough for me to forgive him for the 80s. You know this one, so I'm not going to bother with a 'listen if you like'. This song should never end.

Well, except that the album then segues into Nina Simone and My Baby Just Cares For Me. Another song that it is really not necessary for me to be telling you about. Just a cracking song...and you know it. My personal favourite bit being the risque "and even Liberace's style". Where can this soundtrack go from here??

Billie Holiday of course! I'm in heaven! Here we have her singing I'll Be Seeing You. Bliss. I just can never get enough of her voice and dazzlingly idiosyncratic phrasing, her inbuilt feel for music. If you have never read a biography of Lady Day you really must (try Billie's Blues written by John Chilton); it adds such context to listening to that old voice, surely one of the best ever? Again this song is wistful, longing, pining...and just beautiful.

Back to a more contemporary selection, next up and with some big shoes to fill are Mazzy Star and their song Rhymes Of An Hour. I love the lazy ebb and flow of Hope Sandoval's voice, the laid back, even soporific, sounds that ooze into you and seep inside you head. This, whilst still a very good track, is not one of their better numbers in my opinion. Still, Mazzy Star fit the general lo-fi feel of this soundtrack perfectly. Listen if you like: Cat Power in her quieter moments, The Wailing Jennys, The Sundays.

Cocteau Twins and Alice are next. I love the Cocteau Twins...the floaty vocals, ethereal soundscapes, the harmonies. They are not for everybody, but the voice here is pitch perfect and crystal clear, almost operatic in places. The lyrics (as with much of their music) are almost entirely unintelligible, save for "Alice Alice Alice Alice". That suits me fine when it sounds this lovely, but others may prefer something a bit more structured-feeling. Alice, like many others on this OST, for some reason, makes me think of water...the song washes over you and leaves you semi-submerged, buoyant and floating, eyes closed, the sun on your face, with no external sounds to interrupt the reverie. Although quite a few of the tracks here are yearnful and plaintive, the overall feel is of a cohesive summertime chillout album.

The penultimate track is You Won't Fall by Lori Carson. I have to admit that I know nothing of Carson beyond this song, but it fits well here, particularly as a follow-up to the Cocteau Twins. Another female vocal, this time the backing a little more upbeat to provide a bit of a lift as we approach the end. This song is not particularly remarkable, but her voice is good and it is nice enough...just not one of the best here. Still worth a listen though...there really isn't a dud on this soundtrack. Listen if you like: Any number of female singer-songwriters!

Finally, we are bid adieu with Sam Phillips' I Need Love, which is less 'chillout' than a great proportion of the album (although we did get the upbeat respite of Superstition and Rocket Boy in the middle there), and which finishes off the playlist in a nice rosy way. Phillips, although you never really hear her mentioned anywhere, writes some great songs and some canny lyrics too...try her album A Boot And A Shoe.

These tracks work together surprisingly well and it's 51 and a half minutes that I reckon you will want to replay again and again...especially if you like (predominanantly) female singers. Which is why I suggest that you enter my Christmas competition to win your very own copy.

To be in with a chance, leave a comment telling me what is your favourite film soundtrack and why (a couple of sentences will suffice, it doesn't have to be a big long post like this...unless, of course, that is what you want to do!). You could even write a post over at your own blog, and provide me with a link to check it out. My favourite will get a shiny new Stealing Beauty CD (a real one, not a copy!) sent chez them!

I will judge and announce a winner in one month, so make sure you check back. This, of course, means that if you run a blog, you will get a little bit of free publicity if you are the winner. And if you don't, well, that's no reason not to enter now, is it?

UK readers: Stealing Beauty is on Film 4 tomorrow (Monday 17th December) at 11.10pm.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

She Talks To Rainbows Part 6: Dripping Indigo/In Violet Light

Excerpt from 'The Purple Hat (Beautiful Women)':

Age 3: She looks at herself and sees a Queen.
Age 8: She looks at herself and sees Cinderella.
Age 15: She looks at herself and sees an Ugly Sister (Mom, I can't go to school looking like this!)
Age 20: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly"- but decides she's going out anyway.
Age 30: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly"-but decides she doesn't have time to fix it so she's going out anyway.
Age 40: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly"-but says, "At least, I am 'clean"and goes out anyway.
Age 50: She looks at herself and sees "I am" and goes wherever she wants to go.
Age 60: She looks at herself and reminds herself of all the people who can't even see themselves in the mirror anymore. Goes out and conquers the world.
Age 70: She looks at herself & sees wisdom, laughter and ability, goes out and enjoys life.
Age 80: Doesn't bother to look. Just puts on a purple hat and goes out to have fun with the world.

Ok, so it's not actually purple that I am here to talk about...but near enough! I had completely, in my general garrulous way, forgotten to get to indigo and violet and complete my rainbow...and so here we are! I have aggregated the two, as, as I'm sure you can imagine, the lists for these two were relatively short. The entries are not purposefully obscure...I haven't heard a lot of these songs...I had a good browse through Amazon in order to beef up the lists a little!
Go Indigo - Indigo Dying
Indigo - Francois Feldman
Indigo - Jim Donovan
Indigo - Moloko
Indigo - Peter Gabriel
Indigo Blue - David Cullen
Indigo Blue - Hank Crawford
Indigo Blues - Llorca
Indigo Child - Cachoa
Indigo Girl - Watershed
Indigo Sky - Tom Webber
Mood Indigo - Nina Simone (/Duke Ellington and scores of others)
Moods Of Indigo - Danny Wright
Moog Indigo - Jean Jacques Perry
Mother Indigo - Terry Clarke
Night Is Indigo - Natural Calamity
Shades Of Indigo - Carol Ames
Turbulent Indigo - Joni Mitchell
13 Violets - Mother Superior
Seasons Of Violet - Rim Banna
Shrinking Violet - LA Guns
Shrinking Violets - Geoff Byrd
The Violet Hour - Clientele
Ultra Violet - Pascal Device
Ultra-Violet - FreeBass
Ultraviolet (Light My Way) - U2
Under A Violet Moon - Blackmore's Night
Violet - Boy In Static
Violet - Circulation
Violet - Hole
Violet - Seal
Violet - The Birthday Massacre
Violet - Violet Says
Violet 19 (The Angel's Song) - Cecelia
Violet Club Sandwich - Greenfield
Violet Flame - Henriette Kat
Violet High - Cyclefly
Violet Sauce - Namie Amuro
Violet Skies - Matt Silver
Violet Sky - Homer and Lazon
Violet Sunset - Manfred Trendel
Violets For Your Furs - Shirley Horn
Violets Of Dawn - Chad Mitchell
When Violets Meet - Soft Parade
And that's me done with this game! The rainbow is complete...but I may return at some point to cover non-rainbow colours, such as pink, purple, gold, silver, black, white etc. etc. Bored of it for now though! Altogether..."I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow toooooo".
Indigo/Violet - you're looking at it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Heidi Mortenson: "Every time I see her I get the tiger fever"

Danish-born, Berlin-based Heidi Mortenson produces some interesting sounds. Not all of her output is, for me, 100% successful, but when it works it really works. This is playful, cacophonous electroclash, which was dubbed by one promoter as "tomboytronica". Mortenson is androgynous, flirting with trans imagery and lyrics which fall outside of the sexual mainstream. She released her second album Don't Lonely Me in July this year (you can listen to a one minute sample of each song at Juno), after setting up Wired Records in 2005 and using it to release her debut Wired Stuff, which she wrote, played, mixed and produced singlehanded.
In addition to this, Mortenson works as a producer for other bands and is one quarter of "bearded band" The Uncontrollables.
Mortenson grew up listening to the clangings and clankings of her father working in the garage, and was impressed by the metallic rhythms. Her mother played the organ. Moving from her native Denmark to Barcelona as a teenager, she began her musical career as a flyer girl at the first electronica bar there. She used the money to buy dj equipment. By 2004 she had moved to Berlin, finding a home in the booming electronica scene there.
I have read that she listens to Ani DiFranco, Cat Power and Nina Simone when at home, but her bleeps and blips are a long haul flight across the ocean from any of those sounds. My favourite track is Tiger, which has a sleepy sounding vocal and infectious repetition. You can listen to Tiger (and a few other songs) over at her MySpace page, and you can check her out further at her very own website.
Give Heidi Mortenson a whirl if you like: Peaches, Miss Kittin, Scream Club, Kevin Blechdom, Ellen Alien.

Video: Don't Lonely Me

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Loving is highly addictive, don't start"...but I love Laura Hocking!

Thanks to Another Form Of Relief for introducing me to Laura Hocking/Laura Sings Liver/Leonie Lauder...this girl has so many monikers and MySpace pages that it simply baffles! I believe that she is called Laura Hocking, her musical alias Laura Sings Liver, I really have no idea where Leonie Lauder comes in! (Edit: I have since found a comment by Laura that elucidated on this a little; Leonie Lauder was the central character in a screenplay she started writing).

But whatever we call her, her music is really worth checking out. I haven't instantly liked something this much since...well, since I first heard Jesca Hoop a couple of weeks ago! Tee hee. This one is British and sounds a bit like...hmmm...Erin McKeown springs to mind, but it's not really jazzy like that. Perhaps Joanna Newsom? I'm sure, after listening to her, that you will be able to think of some better comparisons, as I am rubbish at all that.

I can tell you that she is 22 and based in Cambridge (at the university, no less), but beyond that I'm stuck, as there are really no details on any of her multiple MySpace pages. But there is plenty of total (across the three) there are 14 tracks available to download! My favourite on first listen through is Strongmen and Acrobats, but I plan to listen repeatedly, so I'm sure that will change!

There are clever lyrics galore, such as "I am cold as obsidian arrowheads", posh girl enunciation and colloquialisms aplenty...strangely, none of these things are annoying in the least! This is no Kate Nash (thank goodness!).

You can visit her on MySpace here (which appears to be the main one of the three), but also here and here...knock yourselves out!

Oh, and should you care to join her group on Facebook, you can do that here...and you can also listen to some live recordings over at esnips, which is where I got the nifty widget below. This girl is definitely generous!

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Update 11/12/07: Laura has confimed that she will be releasing her first EP in April...Yip-EP!

The Ting Tings - a promising band with a godawful name!

The Tings Tings come from Salford/Manchester and are Katie White (vocals, guitar, bass drum) and Jules De Martino (drums, vocals). It would be easy to dismiss them for having such a dreadful name, but this is some catchy stuff...bratty electro-pop a la New Young Pony Club, CSS or Robots In Disguise. Although Katie and Jules were previously signed to major label Mercury Records as part of the three-piece Dear Eskimo, The Ting Tings are, as yet, unsigned. And this, apparently, is by choice. They are renowned in their vicinity for throwing some huge house parties to which, in recent times, music biz execs and A&R men have been turning up by the score.

They released double A-side That's Not My Name/Great DJ earlier this year and this, to date, remains their only release (on Manchester's Switchflicker), save for the song Fruit Machine, of which there was a limited pressing of 500 seven inch singles, which was only available at three of their gigs. Prior to the release of Fruit Machine, The Ting Tings, at four shows, stuck 100 blank 7-inch sleeves to the wall as a makeshift canvas, which they then invited their fans to 'decorate'. This 'artwork' then became the sleeves for the single. An interesting idea...and one which you can have a bit of a squizz at here.

That's Not My Name is ridiculously catchy, and really caught on when they played their (fourth ever!) show at Glastonbury earlier this year. The most obvious comparison is to Toni Basil's Mickey...hand claps and all! The flip-side of the single, Great DJ, sounds more like New Young Pony Club's Ice Cream, which is a good thing, save for the fact that I have simply heard that song so many times that I never need to hear it again (which is a shame, as it is really rather good).

They have 8000+ friends on their MySpace page; not bad for an unsigned act eh? Ones to watch it would seem.

Download: The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name

Visit The Ting Tings on MySpace to hear more songs.

Whilst we are on the subject of Manchester-based acts, I shall use this opportunity to give a brief plug to my mates' band Random Pam. Again they are quite electro, but this time a bit more DJ/club-based. Their music isn't (yet) perfect, but they are all very talented, with a sound understanding of music (e.g. Charlie attended music college, where she trained in opera) and I reckon that they will continue to get better and better. Give them a listen here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sam Baker at The Cluny 06/12/07

After acquainting myself with, and immersing myself in, Sam Baker's second album Pretty World when it was released earlier this year, I was super excited to discover that he would be visiting us to play live. I booked up at the first opportunity and have been anxiously tapping my foot in anticipation throughout the interminable wait from then until Thursday night.
This gig marked the 22nd birthday of the Jumpin' Hot Club, who are responsible for booking some of the very best Americana, country, folk and world music acts that come to Newcastle. Thanks to them I have had the chance to see not only Mr Baker, but also Sunny Sweeney (and many others)...both names that not many people round these parts seem to have heard of, but whose music means a lot to me.
Whilst waiting in line to get into the venue, I got chatting to the people just ahead of me, one of whom was Sam Baker! No, not the Sam Baker...not the one I was there to see (nor indeed the soul singer or American football player), but a Sam Baker just the same.
Once we got in, first on stage was Otis Gibbs, who looks like a brunette member of a ZZ Top tribute act, a Hell's Angel, or someone who lives on a diet of squirrels and other small woodland creatures. Thankfully he didn't sound like any of the above and was really rather good (save for his original Christmas songs, which were dire). In an effort to sum him up succinctly, he is deep-voiced Americana with well-written lyrics and his feet firmly on the ground.
Suitably 'warmed up' I awaited our main act eagerly. Baker took to the stage alone with just a guitar for company. The atmosphere which, during Gibbs' act, was eerily silent and made me feel like I didn't quite know if he was loved, tolerated or hated by the audience at large (until the hearty applause) was somehow one of instant rapport and warmth. I had half expected Sam Baker to be a quiet, reserved, somewhat serious and sullen character, but I was wrong.
He was extremely likeable, with the cheeky humour and sparkle in his eye of an impish little boy. He was also very good looking, which again came as some surprise...the photographs that I have seen of him online really don't do him justice.
Throughout the set his running themes, banter-wise, were "Canoe Man" and Lucy, a topless model in the godawful paper The Daily Star (which he had been reading, along with "The London Times" since arriving in the UK).
The definite high point of the performance was Broken Fingers, a song which, even whilst listening to the album, is very obviously about Baker's ordeal in South America in the mid-1980s (see my previous blog). With the man, "broken fingers" and all right in front of us, this song was more deeply affecting then ever,
"These broken fingers. Some things don't heal. I can't wake up from a dream when the dream is real."

This brush with death and the ensuing fallout has, understandably (or perhaps not...I certainly can't, and don't want to, imagine what it must have been like), profoundly scarred Baker...and not just in a physical sense. His songs are littered with subtle references. But what I really love about his music is its simplicity, the lyrics showing us a man who revels in the joy of being here, of the small details in life. At times this feels not just grateful, but euphoric.

The whole set was excellent, including those songs from his first album, Mercy, with which I have yet to familiarise myself (there's a story here...foolishly, in a misguidedly British attempt to be polite, I turned down Sam's offer to send Mercy to me after reading my review of Pretty World. I have seriously been kicking myself ever since!)...but which I have now ordered.

Sam Baker is endearingly rubbish at self-promotion. At the merch stand, there were no t-shirts (as there are none in existence yet!), nor had he brought Mercy along (which I had planned to buy at the show). I held back for a while, waiting for the queue to go down, in order that I could go up and say my hellos. He was a lovely, warm man who was happy to chat, sign a poster (which I'd pinched off the wall!) almost entirely illegibly, and tell me "I really like the way you write". Wow! I replied "Thank you. I really like the way you write too"...speaking of his songs and not the aforementioned handwriting.

This night was what a gig should be, and more people really should have heard of this man. I wish I had more clout, as I would love to join Bob Harris in doing some championing here. I have included one download (which I found at another source online) below for you to get a better idea of what Sam Baker sounds like (you can hear further tracks on MySpace), but please please buy his albums...I couldn't recommend his music more highly. He told us during the gig that, after Mercy was released he would sell a copy, on average, around once every 120 days. He was over the moon with this at the time. Go on, help make his day a little more regularly!

She Talks To Rainbows Part 5: Blue Is The Colour

Apologies for my absence...I have had house guests. I hope to get back to normal posting now. And so we move on to 'blue'. For the title for this one, I also considered Kind Of Blue (you may remember that my criterion is album titles containing the colour, but which do not also contain a song by the same name), but decided on simplicity and went with The Beautiful South.

This is a looooonnnnggggg list, so buckle up! I discounted songs with 'blues' in the title, as that would just have got ridiculous, but it's still a pretty mammoth one! However, given the popularity of this colour, I am sure that there are still gazillions that you can add :o)

Almost Blue – Elvis Costello
Baby Blue – Badfinger
Baby Blue – Dusty Springfield
Baby Blue – George Strait
Baby Blue Eyes – Joan Armatrading
Behind Blue Eyes – The Who
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea – George Harrison
Beyond The Blue Horizon – Earl Bostic
Big Note Blue – Toby Keith
Big Boy Blue – Ella Fitzgerald
Black And Blue – Mike and The Mechanics
Black And Blue – Van Halen
Black Diamonds And Blue Pearls (Interlude) – Angie Stone
Black Eyes, Blue Tears – Shania Twain
Blackened Blue Eyes – The Charlatans
Blonde Over Blue – Billy Joel
Blue – Joni Mitchell
Blue – LeAnn Rimes
Blue (Armed With Love) – Wham!
Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65
Blue American – Placebo
Blue And Yellow – The Used
Blue Angel – Antony and The Johnsons
Blue Angel – Roy Orbison
Blue Bayou – Roy Orbison (or a lovely cover by Linda Ronstadt)
Blue Black – Heather Nova
Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk – Rachel Unthank and The Winterset
Blue Blue Day – Don Gibson
Blue Boy – Joni Mitchell
Blue Cafe – Chris Rea
Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
Blue Clear Sky – George Strait
Blue Dress – Depeche Mode
Blue Eyed Boy – Kosheen
Blue Eyed Pop (S1000 Mix) – The Sugarcubes
Blue Eyed Soul – Wilco
Blue Eyes – Elton John
Blue Eyes – The International Submarine Band
Blue Eyes – The Wedding Present
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain – Willie Nelson
Blue Flashing Light – Travis
Blue's Gaen Oot O'the Fashion – Rachel Unthank and The Winterset
Blue Guitar – Cowboy Junkies
Blue Hat For A Blue Day – Nick Heyward
Blue Hawaii – Elvis Presley
Blue Hawaiian – Pavement
Blue Hotel – Chris Isaak
Blue In Green – Miles Davis
Blue In The Face – No Doubt
Blue Ink – Laura Veirs
Blue Is The Colour – Donovan
Blue Jay Way – The Beatles
Blue Jean – David Bowie
Blue Jean Bop – Gene Vincent
Blue Jeans – Blur
Blue Kentucky Girl – Loretta Lynn
Blue Lamp – Stevie Nicks
Blue Letter – Fleetwood Mac
Blue Light – Mazzy Star
Blue Lou – Metronome All-Star Band
Blue Magic – Jay-Z
Blue Monday – Fats Domino
Blue Monday – New Order
Blue Money – Van Morrison
Blue Moon – The Marcels
Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Patsy Cline
Blue Moon With A Heartache – Roseanne Cash
Blue On Blue – The Pet Shop Boys
Blue Orchid – The White Stripes
Blue, Red And Grey – The Who
(Round Round Round) Blue Rondo A La Turk – Al Jarreau
Blue Room – Ella Fitzgerald
Blue Saloon – Mike Oldfield
Blue Savannah – Erasure
Blue Shadows On The Trail – Randy Newman
Blue Skies – Willie Nelson
Blue Skies Bring Tears – The Smashing Pumpkins
Blue Sky Mine – Midnight Oil
Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins (or of course Mr Presley)
Blue Sunday – The Doors
Blue Train – John Coltrane
Blues Turns To Grey – The Rolling Stones
Blue Valient – Katastrophy Wife (with Carina Round)
Blue Veins – The Raconteurs
Blue Velvet – Bobby Vinton
Blue World – The Moody Blues
Blue Would Still Be Blue – The Guillemots
Bluebeard – Cocteau Twins
Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
Bluebird Over The Mountain – Richie Valens
Bluejeans And Moonbeams – Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band
Brown To Blue – Elvis Costello
Bullet The Blue Sky – U2
California Blue – Roy Orbison
Can Blue Men Sing The Whites? - Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
Caribbean Blue – Enya
Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire – Joni Mitchell
Crabsody In Blue – AC/DC
Crystal Blue Persuasion – Tommy James and The Shondells
Devil With A Blue Dress On – Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Crystal Gayle
Electric Blue Eyes – The Cranberries
Electron Blue – R.E.M.
Every Shade Of Blue - Bananarama
Faded Coat Of Blue – Jolie Holland
Famous Blue Raincoat – Leonard Cohen
For You Blue – The Beatles
Goodbye Blue Sky – Pink Floyd
Have You Ever Had It Blue? - The Style Council
House Of Blue Lights – Merrill E. Moore
I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song) – The Ikettes
In Blue Hawaii – Brian Wilson
Indescribably Blue – Elvis Presley
Is A Bluebird Blue – Conway Twitty
Is The Grass Any Bluer – Rhonda Vincent
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue – Bob Dylan
Jackie Blue – Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Kelly Blue – Cannonball Atherley (featuring Wynton Kelly)
Lavender Blue – Sunny Sweeney (with Jim Lauderdale) – a cover of Keith Sykes
Little Blue – The Beautiful South
Little Girl Blue – Sam Cooke (/Janis Joplin)
Lonely Blue Boy – Conway Twitty
Love Is Blue – Jeff Beck
May The Bluebird Of Happiness Fly Up Your Nose – Little Jimmy Dickens
Mexican Blue – Jolie Holland
Midnight Blue – Foreigner
Midnight Blue – Kenny Burrell
Misty Blue – Millie Jackson
Mr Blue – David Macbeth
Mr Blue – The Fleetwoods
Mr Blue Sky – ELO
My Blue Heaven – Fats Domino
My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) – Neil Young
My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy – Dolly Parton
Never Seen Blue – Tori Amos
New Blue Moon – The Travelling Wilburys
Ole Black N Blue Eyes – The Fratellis
Pale Blue Eyes – Velvet Underground
Pink Turns To Blue – Husker Du
Pinky Blue – Altered Images
Red Roses For A Blue Lady – Vaughn Monroe
Rhapsody In Blue – George Gershwin
Ruby Blue – Roisin Murphy
Runnin' Blue – The Doors
Small Blue Thing – Suzanne Vega
Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond
Still Feeling Blue – Gram Parsons
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Suite Madame Blue – Styx
Tangled Up In Blue – Bob Dylan
The Blue Cockade – The Witches Of Elswick
Thin Blue Flame – Josh Ritter
This Side Of The Blue – Joanna Newsom
True Blue – Madonna
Union City Blue – Blondie
Venus In Blue Jeans – Mark Wynter
We People Who Are Darker Than Blue – Curtis Mayfield
When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again – Elvis Presley
Winter Blue – Heather Nova
Winter Is Blue – Vashti Bunyan

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Our chickens want an iPod" - June Tabor at The Sage Gateshead

On Sunday I went to see June Tabor. Upon arrival, for some reason the whole building smelt of tuna fish. Battling through this I headed for the decagonal Hall Two and took to my seat...which was third row, centre. Not bad for the princely sum of £6.75 (Dolly could think about taking a leaf out of Ms Tabor's book...she is charging £60-whatever per ticket, £70-something if you factor in the booking fee. Like she needs the money! I don't care how much it costs "to look this cheap"!).
As soon as I sat down I felt that first wave of sleep hit me. You know when you are so tired that you feel a bit 'out of body'? Cue even more fidgeting than usual in an effort to avoid having to resort to getting matchsticks out to prop open the old eyelids!
When Ms Tabor took to the stage, she was wearing what appeared to be a shapeless black galabiyah, with a black Japanese silk jacket on top. A strange combo...but I was not there for the fashion show. However, coupled with this dark ensemble, for the first half of the show she was lit with a pale blue, which gave her a rather odd deathly pallor.
The band on stage with her was comprised of Andy, Tim and Mark (she only mentioned their surnames once, which I missed due to applause, but from a bit of a scout round the internet, I believe them to have been Andy Cutting, who I seem to recall seeing with Kate Rusby in the past, Tim Harries, and Mark Emerson) and accordion, double bass and violin/viola. Emerson, the violinist and viola player also doubled up on piano in places (on an amazing Steinway)...although not at the same time as playing his fiddles...that would just be silly!
As for Tabor's 'sound' - well, it is very British. Think folk in the tradition of Anne Briggs. For international bods perhaps not familiar with Briggs, think along the lines of Joan Baez or perhaps a slightly more sombre Nanci Griffith. She has a lovely, resonant alto voice and a great deal of confidence on stage. She captures the emotion of the songs she sings admirably. This meant that there was a lot of 'acting' through the songs live which, for me, was a bit OTT and distracting ("Too much acting" as Ally Welles from The League Of Gentlemen would say). The facial expressions, overly considered emphasis and melodramatic phrasing were just a bit of a turn off when seeing them in the flesh, to be honest.
Don't get me wrong, Tabor has an undeniably lovely voice, and I did warm into it all a little by the end of the evening, but there was just something a little too...studied? practised? aware?...about it all. The exception to this, for me, was her fantastic rendition of Woody Guthrie's Deportees, which was an incredibly moving version in which she vehemently spat out the initial consonant sound of the titular word. The high point of the show.
Another song worth mentioning was her cover of Save The Last Dance, with which she, appropriately, closed proceedings. She also told us the story behind the song, which I didn't know before. It goes like this: Doc Pomus, disabled by polio, penned it for his wife, who loved to dance. He was unable to dance with her, so would sit and watch her dancing with other men,
"But don't forget who's taking you home and in whose arms you're gonna be. Darling, save the last dance for me."
All in all an enjoyable evening, and no complaints for £6.75...but, nevertheless, I did come away with mixed feelings about the performance.

If you like June Tabor and for some reason are not familiar with the albums below, go and get yourself a copy NOW!
Anne Briggs - The Time Has Come
Karen Dalton - It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You Best
Shelagh McDonald - Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
Judee Sill - Judee Sill

New Breeders album confirmed

Whoop whoop!

4AD yesterday issued a press release that The Breeders will be releasing a new album, entitled Mountain Battles in 2008. They will also be undertaking a world tour...which I, for one, am going to try my very hardest not to miss out on!

The tracklisting is:

1. Overglazed
2. Bang On
3. Night Of Joy
4. We're Gonna Rise
5. German Studies
6. Spark
7. Istanbul
8. Walk It Off
9. Regalame Esta Noche
10. Here No More
11. No Way
12. It's The Love
13. Mountain Battles

You can read the press release over at the 4AD website and hear a track from the album (apparently for one week only) over at The Breeders' MySpace page. This track, We're Gonna Rise sounds a lot more sedate than previous Breeders offerings...let's hope that they haven't completely mellowed with age and that we still get some good ole noisy girls and guitars on the album!

A couple of tracks from their album Title TK to keep you going:
The Breeders - Huffer
The Breeders - Little Fury

You can also download tonnes more songs at The Breeders' website, where, amongst other treats, you can get the whole album Hellbound - A Tribute To The Breeders for zilch!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Desert island disc...yes, just the one!

This is a question I ask of most people eventually...often when I first meet them, in an effort to make conversation and get over my shyness! The question is:

Presuming you knew you were to be stranded on a desert island (with some kind of solar-powered audio device!), what one album would you take with you?

This question is very different from 'What is your favourite album?', which is, of course, impossible to answer...for me certainly! Different albums serve different purposes, enhance and affect mood in different ways, and have particular, and individual, things about them that make you love them etc. etc. etc. So, an album you love because it meant so much to you when you were 14 may not stand up as your 'favourite' album now, but it doesn't mean that the fondness and the fact that you know it backwards have gone away! In my experience, one can have many many 'favourite' albums. Like best friends...why restrict yourself to just one??

No, the trick with this question is that it is not about the definitive choice of 'favourite'...that often changes and grows with you, and can depend on the mood you are in when you give your answer...if you are able to give an answer at all! The essence of my question is 'What do you think you could listen to repeatedly, without there being an alternative available, without getting too sick of it?'. Granted, only one album forever and ever anon, no matter how brilliant, and no matter how much you love it, can become tiresome and over-listened. But what's your best compromise?

My choice, for a lot of years, was Paul Simon's Graceland...a wonderful album (again, in my opinion) with eminently listenable songs. I then, however, factored in how short that album was! I believe I have now come up with something even better!

What is my new one? Perhaps I'll let you know after getting some other people's ideas on this subject. Answers on a postcard please...or a blog comment may me easier and more expeditious! Before you all rush to respond (I shall not hold my breath like!), I feel I must clarify that box sets are not permissable, nor are 'Various Artists' compilation albums...that's just cheating! Ok, dem dars the rules...I await your responses expectantly!

She Talks To Rainbows Part 4: Green

You will notice that the title to this particular 'rainbow' posting is not a particularly snazzy one; if observant, you will also have noticed that previous posts in the series are all named after album titles. In this case, what better to go with than simply Green (R.E.M.)? With that said, you know the form by now, so here we go...
A Certain Shade Of Green - Incubus
All In A Green Garden/Horses Bransle - Askew Sisters
Another Green World - Brian Eno
Ballad Of The Green Berets - Sgt. Barry Sadler
Bein' Green - Kermit The Frog!
Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine - Simon and Garfunkel
Crystalline Green - Goldfrapp
Dr. Greenthumb - Cypress Hill
Evergreen - Faithless
Evergreen - Will Young
Fields Of Green - Rick Wakeman
Five Green Queens And Jean - The Pogues
Forty Shades Of Green - Johnny Cash
Golden Green - The Wonder Stuff
Green And Gray - Nickel Creek
Green Chimneys - Thelonious Monk
Green Corn - Leadbelly
Green Cosmos - Deerhoof
Green Day - Green Day
Green Desert - Tangerine Dream
Green Door - Jim Lowe
Green Door - Shakin' Stevens
Green Earrings - Steely Dan
Green-Eyed Girl - Ted Hawkins
Green Eyed Lady - Sugarloaf
Green Eyes - Coldplay
Green Eyes - Erykah Badu
Green Fields - Brothers Four
Green Fields - The Good, The Bad and The Queen
Green Grass And High Tides - The Outlaws
Green Grass Of Tunnel - Mum
Green Grass Vapours - Angie Stone
Green Heaven - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Green Leaves Of Summer - Hampton Hawes
Green Light - Cliff Richard
Green Limousine - The Badloves
Green Love - Hilt
Green Man - Mark Owen
Green Man - Roy Harper
Green Man - Type O Negative
Green Mind - Dinosaur Jr.
Green Onions - Booker T and The MGs
Green River - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Green Shirt - Elvis Costello
Green Tambourine - Lemon Pipers
Green With Envy - Grant Green
Greenback Dollar - Kingston Trio
Greenbacks - Ray Charles
Greener - Byrne
Greenwood Laddie/Mrs Capron's Reel/Tune - Eliza Carthy
Grey Cell Green - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
John Of Havegreen - The Witches of Elswick
Light Is Always Green - The Housemartins
Little Green - Joni Mitchell
Little Green Apples - Roger Miller
Little Green Bag - George Baker
Little Green Men - Cyantific
Merry Green Broom - Kate Rusby
Mountain Greenery - Ella Fitzgerald
O Green World - Gorillaz
Off To Dublin In The Green - Wolfe Tones
No. 1 Green Street - Grant Green
Pale Green Girl - Penelope Houston
Pretty Green - The Jam
Pretty Green Eyes - Ultrabeat
Red, Black and Green - Roy Ayers (I missed this one at 'red'!)
Sproston Green - The Charlatans
The Grass Is Green - Nelly Furtado
The Green Fields Of France - Fureys
The Green, Green Grass Of Home - Tom Jones
The Green Manalishi (In The Two-Pronged Crown) - Fleetwood Mac
The Return Of Emerald Green - My Life Story
Village Green Preservation Society - The Kinks
Please note that I am not passing comment on the merit (or not...Mark Owen!) of these songs...they merely fit the bill. Speaking of bills...and green...

Now it's your turn...

I'm cock-a-HOOP about finding Jesca!

It would seem that I'm a little behind the times on Jesca Hoop, having just done a Google search in order to find out a bit more about her. But if I've only just heard of her, I presume that there are also a few of you who haven't come across her yet either?
Hoop's debut album Kismet was released on September 18th 2007. I have just ordered it, after listening to her for the first time yesterday, so I'm afraid I can't offer an album review yet...but from the songs I have heard on her MySpace page and her website (warning: when you open the latter it is noisy, for those of a nervous disposition out there...crashing waves, as opposed to crashing drums, noisy, but if you aren't expecting it...) I was convinced to make a purchase.
Her sound reminds me of White Magic and Josephine Foster, with a bit of Imogen Heap innovation, some Regina Spektor kookiness, and some Aimee Mann vocals thrown in. The rhythms are offbeat and unconventional...but not self-consciously so. Raised Mormon in California, growing up singing old folk songs, murder balleds and church hymns with her family, Jesca eventually threw off her shackles to explore the wilderness of Arizona, before returning to civilization and a job as a nanny for Tom Waits (which she did for 5 years). It would seem that he forwarded one of her demo recordings to Nic Harcourt, who then played it on the radio, where it became a frequent request.
This is about all I know so far...but I am excited! Have a listen for yourself...I think you may well be won over by the inventive charm of the songs below.

Jesca Hoop - Money
Jesca Hoop - Enemy
Jesca Hoop - Seed of Wonder