• Most Recent Stuff

  • Twitter

    • Tickets bought to see @LukeHaines_News in Glasgow on May 13. No idea how he was persuaded to venture up North but bloody delighted. 6 months ago
  • Email Updates and Stuff

  • Archive

  • Posts, by month

  • What You Said!

    extremelisteningmode on Our new least favourite band…
    Sam on Our new least favourite band…
    Welsh band lover on The worst band ever! – N…
    extremelisteningmode on The worst band ever! – N…
    Welsh band lover on The worst band ever! – N…

Death to the Pixies – Is Indie Cindy really that bad?

IndieCindyWhen the Pixies reformed for some shows a decade ago – I know – nobody really minded. There was the some small talk of legacies being pissed on, as if some live shows you could choose not to go to would somehow supersede a career that is to alternative rock what Elvis was to everything else. But in the main, people thought they deserved to top up their pension funds. Intermittent blasts round the festival scene since have also been looked on kindly. After all, they could still actually do the songs justice, and what songs they are. Overall, everybody was happy enough to sort of have Pixies around as an entity.

But with fans still digesting the news that Kim Deal had left the band there came the announcement of new recordings. The departure of Deal raised issues of whether it was valid to call this project ‘Pixies’ when it could be argued that it was now 75% Pixies. When faced with the threat of actual new music, those critics recoiled in horror. This was not the Pixies and they weren’t going to like it, come what may. The band released what would become Indie Cindy in three installments; critics predictably filleted them. But how much of it was to do with the music? Look at Pitchfork; they slaughtered two of the EPs, declined to review the third and then – in place of a review of this album – announced they would instead be reviewing the band’s back catalogue.

Continue reading

New Springsteen album reviewed by a Springsteen superfan

High Hopes40 years into his career, it’s unlikely that there are a whole lot of rock fans out there who don’t have an opinion on Bruce Springsteen. So rather than pretending his new album will be judged as a stand alone piece of work, we decided to come at it from a different angle; what does a new Springsteen album sound like to a Springsteen nut? Resident office Boss boffin Tom Joad stepped up.

High Hopes is unexpected, with The Boss spending the last 18 months on the road touring the Wrecking Ball record and few hints of recording studio time accrued.

But the internet is a wondrously widespread beast and not only allows Backstreets, Greasy Lake and other Springsteen websites to obsessively follow developments, but allows Mr Springsteen to exchange ideas with his producers (Brendan O’Brien and Ron Aniello) and send ideas, bridges and mixes back and forth electronically.

Continue reading

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags

Wig Out at JagbagsAt ELM Towers, rarely have we seen a band divide opinion like Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. Some love their shambolic, elongated take on what a simple rock song should sound like. Others find the looseness too louché, too far towards pretension. Lovable cranks or irritating wanks? It’s never been resolved.
Continue reading

Dan Stuart-The Deliverance Of Marlowe Billings

Howlin’ Whippet welcomes back a lost treasure.

Dan Stuart, former frontman and main songwriter with alt. country/Americana legends Green On Red has been off the radar for some time now. His last foray into the ether was his Danny And Dusty collaboration with Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate in 2007.

Continue reading

Album review: Boxes – Stickers

Howlin’ Whippet pushes up his reading glasses with one hand while grabbing the bottle of Wild Turkey with the other and settles down to review him some records.

This is the second release from multi instrumentalist Carey Willetts, aka Boxes. If you’re a fan of Bon Iver’s emotion-drenched angst, this one might be for you. Replacing Bon Iver’s folky guitar with electronica and post rock axe-wrangling, Boxes delivers an album of angsty, arty pop.

Continue reading

What Becomes A Legend Most? – New Springsteen Album

Bruce Springsteen’s new album ‘Working On A Dream’, released today, is an odd beast. Ostensibly inspired by Obama’s election victory, it is in fact a ragtag collection of odds’n’sods mainly dating from the ‘Magic’ sessions and a few new tracks (including his Golden Globe winning track from Mickey Rourke’s new flick ‘The Wrestler’).  Our resident Brooooooooce expert E-Streeter heard it for the first time over the weekend and was distinctly underwhelmed by the experience. Desperately searching for something positive to say about it, he eventually succumbed to admitting that while it isn’t terribly bad, it just isn’t very good.  A bit of a pointless release, was his disappointed conclusion.

So why did the Boss do this? Surely tracks which weren’t considered worthy enough to go on ‘Magic’ – a decent album, certainly, but definitely no ‘Nebraska’ – haven’t suddenly become classics in 12 months? It led us to speculating on what motivates a genuine, bona fide legend to release well after what most people would consider to be their creative peak.

Now, Springsteen – like McCartney, Dylan and Bowie – have nothing to prove. Their place in the music pantheon is secure and nothing is going to change that. And that’s the rub; a good album will not add to their legacy significantly, much in the same way a bad one will not massively erode it. Jesus, look at some of the crap McCartney has tortured us with over the years. Their status as icons is utterly secure. Also, fans have accepted that the stone cold classics, the all-time meisterworks, are long behind them. There’s no expectation of that – the best you hope for is a couple of great tracks that can spice up the live experience and no absolute clunkers.

Springsteen has toured like a man possessed recently, and indeed is on the verge of announcing new dates in support of this release. So maybe that’s it. Old-school slavish devotee of rock’n’roll that he is, perhaps he doesn’t feel comfortable going out without a new release to base it round. Whatever happens, it won’t change the dynamic. He’ll play the new stuff whilst the crowd politely watch, perceptibly waiting for him to move on ‘Badlands’. It’s laudable, if not necessary. Springsteen doesn’t need the money. No-one would accuse him of touring due to avarice, and certainly no-one will leave his shows short-changed.

There is one other possible explanation in this instance. Springsteen has long been the spiritual leader of America’s liberal wing, music division. The election of a Democrat would be a positive step for him at the best of times, but the extraordinary ascent of Obama is undoubtedly a moment for the ages. Perhaps he felt a responsibility to mark this? Perhaps he felt as though he couldn’t let it pass but just didn’t have the songs? The dusting down of old songs would seem to lend this theory some credence. Again, it’s admirable, but not necessary. All that has happened here is a massive boost for Sony, who’ll sell millions of copies of an album they probably weren’t expecting at a time when they could really do with the money.

So probably a nothing release, and certainly one which will be, at best, a footnote in the definitive Boss story. Best to ignore and look forward to the live dates.

Meg Baird – “Dear Companion” Review

By Vespertine

Meg Baird has emerged from the shadows of Philadelphia based folk-rockers Espers, her folk ‘day job’, to produce an excellent, albeit low key album that should bring her to a wider audience. But it won’t as there is no justice. Just us.

Folk is a term that sends many music fans running for cover, and nu-folk is the stealthy camouflage that folk wears to avoid pre-judgement. It is however a ridiculous term that covers such contrasting styles and artists as King Creosote, Jeffrey Lewis, Joanna Newsom, Espers, Rachel Unthank and Seth Lakeman amongst many. There are of course reference points such as acoustic instrumentation, lyrical storytelling and covers of traditional songs but as with most styles of music (except the ones I don’t like) it is unwise to write off whole genres without diving in first.

The doyen of the scene is of course the late, great Sandy Denny (buy her records now, that’s an order!) and there are hints of her style hovering over this album, but it is unwise to imagine many young female folk singers will be unaware and unmoved by her songs, and the influence is little more than a gentle, nagging presence. There are also inevitable similarities with the canon of ‘lost’ 70s female vocalists whose albums have been re-mastered and re-released of late, artists such as Ann Briggs, but the voice she reveals is very much her own, and the choice of covers is less obvious than would be assumed.

The album is very simple in its execution and delivery: some folk classics, some more modern covers from the folk-rock heyday of 1966-1973 and some self-penned tracks, all accompanied by just Meg’s voice and an acoustic guitar.

The highlight is a cover of the obscure (to me completely unknown!) Canadian duo Fraser & De Bolt’s song ‘The Waltze of the Tennis Players,’ which is wonderful in terms of tune and lyrics. “The reason I get so upset when you talk so assuredly, is where on earth is it leading me?” and the chorus which works better than it could appear on the page “Your love for me is an overnight sensation, my love for you, it’s an overnight sensation too.”

Also stunning is a cover of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ which was covered by Roberta Flack amongst others, perhaps the source of Meg Baird’s inspiration?

There are also traditional songs, which often feature female protagonists, as folk ballads so often do. The real surprise is thequality of Baird’s own songs, of which she only drip feeds a few. Of  these the best is the Nick Drake-esque ‘Riverhouse In Tinicum’ which is an album highlight and should give Meg the confidence to tackle more of her own songs.

I am not sure whether this album will take off in the manner of Joanna Newsom’s ‘Ys’ or sink into cult obscurity but you won’t regret buying ‘Dear Companion’ or taking the first step towards the world of Arran jumpers, beards, cider and rucksacks.