Saturday, 2 January 2010

Turn The Light Out

Based in Poland, Michal has brought us a blog with a nice mix of some quite hard to find modern country and alt. albums, along with others that have received plenty of coverage on other sites.

Examples from Bonnie Prince Billy to Red House Painters to Grant Lee Buffalo running the gamut from the earlier days when the new sounds emerged from the Paisley Underground to more up to date stuff.

He hasn't got loads of stuff there so it's well worth a half hour checking his lists. If alt.'s your bag then he's got some interesting sounds for you.

Turn The Light Out

The Gourds - Noble Creatures (2007)

The Gourds are out of Austin, Texas and generally get described as ""; I wouldn't lump them in with that earnest lot, though. To me they're more of a gin-you-INE country jug band bringing the style into the modern age.
A vastly talented bunch of musicians, just one listen to the references in the lyrics shows their intelligence and moves them away from the vast majority of modern country-style performers.
Noble Creatures, released in 2007, is one of their best and a great place to start for any newcomer. Opening with How Will The Sun Shine and its mandolin intro before some great and serious soul horns back-up, the song sets the scene and encapsulates what The Gourds are all about in one go. Follow-up Kicks In The Sun and its proto-Booker T organ riff underline what weve already heard.
Slowing it down with Promenade the band give us a delicate romantic ballad then A Few Extra Kilos weaves some excellent country-Stones guitar into a slow rock beat, emphasised by the next track, Last Letter.
Multi-intrumental stylings on The Gyroscopic put us back into the fun of the first two tracks then Moon Gone Down goes back to more traditional country places, as does Red Letter Day, replete with that organ again but with cowboy guitar and vox.
The organ's to the fore again on Out On The Vine before Cranky Mulatto rounds it all off with some serious cajun fiddle and accordian.
All told this is a must have album for anyone who likes a bit of intelligent, fun country. Go fetch.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

PQP Bach

This classical music malarky's a very confusing and complicated business.
First off, like I said before there's nothing like TotallyFuzzy to help you find what you're looking for. You end up having to find "a" classical blog and then working through the band of borthers that forms the links to the other classical blogs(and they are, indeed, the same links on every blog!). This is one of the ways in which I have found myself AWOL for nearly 2 months.
Secondly, if you were looking for music by a modern artist you wouldn't be looking for music by, say, Dylan as sung by someone else. You'd be looking for Dylan, mostly, right? In El Mundo Dos Classico this is impossible much of the time, thr music being well over a century old for the most part. So, you have to find the recorded interpretations and this is a MINEFIELD!!! There is a vast difference between the very many recordings of each piece, both in terms of quality of recording and quality of playing.
What I've found is that the best bet, if you haven't been recommended a specific recording (as Seb Hunter often does) is simply to plump for a good blog and find what you can there. This is where PQP Bach comes in.
Despite being in Portuguese (I think), PQP Bach is yer very own one-stop-shop for classical music. What he hasn't got isn't worth listening to, from 141 recordings of the work of J S Bach himself to 3 by Zelenka (whoever he is/was). There's even a bit of Zappa (3 to be precise).
Whilst unless you're fluent in Portuguese it's very difficult to read, if you're looking for, for example, Brahm's 4th Symphony, it'll be there. As will pretty much everything you want of a classical bent.
I have no doubt we'll be back with PQP Bach before I'm done but meanwhile, I recommend you go have a look.

Capella De Ministrers - Trobadors (2005)

Without question one of the most astounding discoveries of my (second hand) odyssey through classical music that was Seb Hunter's book has been my discovery of this album.
Seb makes reference to a couple of minstrel-type (i.e. 21-ish century coutier music) "collectives" (these people are never bands), neither of whose albums I could find (not for free, anyway). I did, however, and entirely by chance, find this.
Capella De Ministrers are a Catalan group of bods who make very old music together. Have a look at their website below and try not to laugh when you press the translate button. They do, however, make very old music in a way that sounds absolutely astounding.
This album is, in effect, a compilation of a number of 12th & 13th century European composers of troubador music and it couldn't, to be honest, sound more up to date. Every track echoes the world music that mags like Mojo are constantly telling you to listen to, from the North African-type sounds of Raimbaut de Vaiqeros to the Celtic of the "Anon." tracks. From the Ofra Hazar-esque Aimeric de Peghilhan to the pre-Tinariwen Giraut de Bornelh. And remember, these are all European songs from 800 years ago!
I urge you to listen to this album and defy you not to find something you like.

Seb Hunter - Rock Me Amadeus: When Ignorance Meets High Art, Things Can Get Messy (2006)

Blimey, it's been a while, hasn't it?! In explanation for my prolonged absence, I'd like to offer up something that should resonate with every music-loving reader of this blog(which will be most of you).

Perusing my local library one day (as is my wont) I came across that book on the left. Its bumpf advised that it was a journey of discovery by a rock fan into classical music. Now, as classical music has always been very much a closed book to me (way too much wailing and shrieking and incidental music), I thought I'd give it a go. Little did I know I was unleashing a monster.

Hunter tells us that, like me, he has never had any time for the classical genre but, being a chap who doesn't like to have a closed mind about these things, he decided to immerse himself and try to learn to love it. With that (and taking advice along the way) he starts at "the beginning" of music as we know it and works his way forward.

A travelogue of the highest order, Hunter's book is a great introduction to this most impenetrable of genres. He doesn't hesitate to take the piss where he thinks it's due and makes recommendations along the way, managing to find a modern comparison to most of the music he's listening to. Nick Hornby/anal-type that I am, I found myself compiling a list of potential downloads within the first 20 pages! Finding some of this stuff has been a trial because most of the classical music blogs are elusive and make no concession to modern music. There is no TotallyFuzzy for the classics so Google has been a boon!

Which brings us neatly back to my absence. I've spent the last month or so finding and listening (although not exclusively, as Hunter does) to classical music and I've made some astounding discoveries. Some has been up there with the best stuff I've ever heard (true!) and some has been utterly unlistenable shite. The up side to this (although I would forgive your doubts) is that I will be recommending some of the good stuff here, along with the blogs where it can be found.

I can't recommend this book highly enough if you want to open up a whole new world to yourself. Go out and buy it. Meanwhile, give my "classical" posts a chance and a listen. I would be VERY interested to know what you think.

p.s. Seb Hunter also has a classical blog type thing called "The Bitterest Pill" which sub-titles itself "Classical Music one step at a goddamn time". Check it out. It's good.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Young Moss Tongue

Michael Dust Devil recently brought his astounding blog back to us after "going private" for a time, an event for which we can only thank him.
I've looked a Very Large Number of blogs over the years but YoungMossTongue is truly awe inspiring, not least for the sheer quantity of uploads.
Primarily looking at inependant music, he doesn't restrict himself to a decade or a genre but covers a vast number of artists from throughout the history of popular music.
Clearly a muso himself he's drawn to those on the outskirts of the industry who may have had critical acclaim but remained "cult" figures and the blog is all the better for it. A quick look down his band tags will give you some idea of the enormity of the site and the work that's gone into it.
There's no chat (at all) but there's no need here.
Pay Michael a visit, but be prepared to spend A LOT of time with him.

Cornershop - When I Was Born For The 7th Time (1997)

Most people are going to remember Cornershop for the hit Brimful Of Asha, which remix by Fatboy Slim is not representative of what's on offer here. Whilst that song is present on the album it is in its "raw", unmixed format i.e. without the whistles and bells that Norman adds to bloody everything.
To go back to the beginning, this is Cornershop's 3rd album and was an enormous leap forward for the band. As recently as 2 years previously they were still hip young indie gunslingers, shooting at sacred cows like Morrissey. This album, however, was a revelation.
Kicking off with Sleep On The Left Side and Brimful Of Asha is a real statement of intent, hook laden tracks blending indie-dance with Indian influences and instrumentation, before hitting Butter The Soul where the band are straight into old-school hip hop, albeit with the requisite Bhangra twist.
That theme continues throughout the record with regular intervals of scratching and beatbox showdowns between the "proper" tracks.
We're In Yr Corner, track 5, is a pure Punjabi full-on sounddown (and awesome with it), before Funky Days Are Back Again brings a lo-fi synth presence to proceedings, followed shortly after by When The Light Appears, Boy, featuring legendary beat poet Allan Ginsburg reading from his own writing of the same name.
Good Shit is a return to the late 80s baggy sounding indie-dance, still with the hint of India, then Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again blends basic country with the band's Punjabi influences, tiger country, if you will. It's Indian Tobacco, My Friend is a pure ambient chillout.
The album concludes with Cornershop's version of Norwegian Wood sung, of course, in Punjabi.
This is a groundbreaking album for which Cornershop were deservedly lionised and I defy anyone not to like it.