That spark of electrical something or other

Welcome to this week's episode of "Really Unlikely Childhood Friends". To my left, you have multi-million selling, Grammy nominated, Live Earth-playin' singer-songwriter KT Tunstall. I don't have anything mean to say about her, I'm just not that bothered. To my right, there's the far more interesting, and far less famous troubadour King Creosote, whose latest record 'Bombshell' -his 32nd(!) - just came out. It's strange to think that these two musicians, at completely opposite ends of the global music conscience, have been close friends for many years. Read an interesting interview with the pair of them here.

'Bombshell', then, is a very pretty record. The King writes simple songs with lyrics of heartbreak and sadness, with gentle guitars and arrangements that really need to be played repeatedly. It opens with an accordion, and there are plenty of great moments to enjoy. Check out the catchy first single 'You've No Clue Do You?', and 'Nooks', which is romantic in a dark-hearted kind of way, and the album's loudest moment, 'At the W.A.L.', with its repeated promise that "It's gonna be alright" before - get this! - some feedback and electric guitars. A voice that's sweet and lyrics that are anything but, chalk up another win for Scotland.

[download King Creosote - Spystick][buy 'Bombshell' (UK)]

Contending with this cheese on toast

Two things we already know:

  • 'Witness' by Roots Manuva is the mothertruckin' JAM, and it should henceforth replace the national anthem at the beginning of sporting events.
  • This year, reworking recent songs with full-on big band arrangements is the new black.
What if the two combined, eh? Step forward The New Mastersounds, about whom I know nothing, who've thrown in a lot of brass. Their song is funky and indeed fresh, and doesn't recall the original too much. Maybe only Ronson could've afforded the actual Roots to appear on the song. Check it out nonetheless!

[download The New Mastersounds - Witness][buy '102%']

The voice of reason

According to their page on, people don't seem to really like the debut album from iLiKETRAiNS. This comes as a surprise to me, because while 'Elegies to Lessons Learnt' doesn't do anything new or shocking, it certainly takes the sound they've established already and makes a cohesive and solid record. There's plenty of history in the tracks, for geeks like me. In addition to 'Spencer Perceval' the album has 'Remnants of an Army', set in 19th century Afghanistan, a song about the Salem Witch trials, and other songs about renowned fakers Donald Crowhurst and John Stonehurst.

There's more to them that just an afternoon's worth of Wikipedia-ing, though. There are a lot of shorter songs, which is new for the band, and they usually succeed to condense their widescreen sounds into more accessible form. There's still the drama, the grandiosity, the icily detached vocals, but it comes off as more focused than before. Noisy, beautiful, profound... but enough about me. The album is pretty great too.

[download iLiKETRAiNS - Death of an Idealist] [pre order album UK/US]

Working for names above doors

I sort of missed this, but apparently last month a new Kathryn Williams album was released in the U.S. This is certainly a reason to be cheerful, even if it's a year since 'Leave to Remain' came out back in the Motherland. Kathryn is a singer-songwriter from the north of England who I saw live once at the swanky Queen Elizabeth Hall, and she was very good, and told some funny stories about the Beatles. She's made a series of gentle, folky and very pretty records over the last few years which are ideal for studying or feeling wistful to. There's a covers record in there, too, called 'Relations', which includes 'Spit on a Stranger' and 'All Apologies', but if you like this sort of thing, seek out her '02 album 'Old Low Light' because I think it's the best one, and I'm never wrong about anything.

Stream all of 'Leave to Remain' at her label.

[download Kathryn Williams - When] [buy 'Leave to Remain' UK/US]
[download Kathryn Williams - Wolf] (from 'Old Low Light')

Avarice is all that he's made of

Rejoice, for here's the new single from much loved Scottish four-piece Sons and Daughters, which just got its first play on 6Music earlier this week. It's produced by Bernard Butler who used to be in some band (McAlmont and Butler), and is the first taster from their second album 'The Gift', due in the new year.

And to answer your immediate question... No. They haven't become shit.

[download Sons and Daughters - Gilt Complex (radio rip)]

4play: Kill the Director

No, not the Wombats song that I just posted recently. It seems like a logical 4play step, after actors last week, to progress to the person calling the shots. Also, yesterday I phoned into the Best Show to talk about Uwe Boll, and that's quite exciting. Semantics: Mike Skinner singing "Mine's a Kronenbourg" doesn't count. Also, could've been: there's a Mos Def song that references "Woody and Soon-Yi at the playoff game". Stereophonics had 'Looks Like Chaplin' off their first record. Obv 'Clint Eastwood' again.

Today's selection is:

Sure Shot - Amongst the hundreds of shout-outs, they get mad hits like my man John Woo.

Kit and Holly - Great Neu! style beat, earnest lyrics and towards the end he keeps bigging up Alfred Hitchcock.

The End of an Era - "Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?"

Stanley Kubrick - Nuff said.

[download Beastie Boys - Sure Shot]
[download Echoboy - Kit and Holly]
[download Team America - The End of an Era]
[download Mogwai - Stanley Kubrick]


[bonus download Patton Oswalt - At Midnight, I Will Kill George Lucas with a Shovel]

Carried in the arms of cheerleaders

The National / The Rosebuds / Doveman
Orlando Social
September 10th, 2007

The first thing that Matt Barringer says is “This is cosy”, before America’s The National kick off with ‘Start A War’, a relatively gentle song from their wonderful and relatively gentle latest record ‘Boxer’. He’s right, it is cosy. The Social is an unfeasibly small place to be catching this band – it’s a sell-out but there’s only about 400 people here. Compare to the far bigger places that they’re playing in other parts of the world, including two nights at Shepherd’s Bush in London, and you can see how special this setting was.

In the live setting, the band really beefs up the ‘Boxer’ tracks – ‘Start a War’ rolls from its gentle beginning to a huge noisy climax, making it a great opener. ‘Squalor Victoria’, ‘Fake Empire’, and an accordion-assisted ‘Slow Show’ are all immense. Some of the album’s subtleties are lost to this heavier sound, which is a shame, but it’s very enjoyable all the same. In a place this small, the sound of the violin carries really well, so that nuance comes across nicely, especially on ‘Baby, We’ll Be Fine’, one of a handful of ‘Alligator’ songs. Matt’s deep, deep voice carries the slower songs, like ‘Daughters of the Soho Riots’ and ‘Racing Like A Pro’ and, to make the point yet again, the small venue suits those songs really well.

He has a really nervous, self-conscious stage presence, clinging to his all-white mic stand for most of the evening. He doesn’t seem too at ease talking to the audience, so chat is limited. Before ‘Mr. November’, we get “This song is about baseball… It isn’t really”. That song, with its sprawling lyrics about the English and cheerleaders and the great white hope, gets the most energy from both crowd and band, with Matt keeled over screaming the chorus. They don’t have any songs like that on ‘Boxer’, so it’s nice to hear how far they’ve come.

start a war / mistaken for strangers / secret meeting / slow show / brainy / baby, we'll be fine / all the wine / squalor victoria / racing like a pro / apartment story / daughters of the soho riots / abel / fake empire / about today... green gloves / mr. november.

Earlier in the evening, North Carolina’s The Rosebuds proved to be more than just an allegory to lost youth, by turning in an energetic set which had the crowd clapping and nodding. Nothing remarkable, but they did the job as far as support bands go. Unlike Doveman, who looked very sad while playing. His songs are better suited to smoky late night establishments, and this setting didn’t fit him too well. Most of them sounded pretty alike, with only the last song picking things up a bit. I’d be interested to hear his upcoming second record, but this wasn’t too hot of a set.

[download The National - Apartment Story (live)] [buy 'Boxer']
[download The Rosebuds - Get Up, Get Out] [buy 'Night of the Furies']
[download Doveman - Sunrise Medley] [pre-order 'With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead']

Live vault: SFA at Ocean (repost)

Man, you guys really destroyed my bandwidth on this the last time around. So here it is again, as two zip files. Get it while it's hot.

Tracklisting again:

(part 1)

[01 (A) Touch Sensitive]
[02 Sidewalk Serfer Girl]
[03 (Drawing) Rings Around the World]
[04 Receptacle for the Respectable]
[05 It's Not the End of the World?]
[06 Nythod Cacwn]
[07 Presidential Suite]
[08 Run! Christian! Run!]
[09 Fire in my Heart]

(part 2)

[10 Juxtapozed With U]
[11 The International Language of Screaming]
[12 Golden Retriever]
[13 Do Or Die]
[14 God! Show Me Magic]
[15 Calimero]
[16 The Man Don't Give A Fuck]
[17 Gwreiddiau Dwfn / Mawrth Oer Ar y Blaned Neifion]

Part 1 / Part 2

Like Beckham with the ladies

The Capital L's favourite emcee (no? maybe second? top five?) Kano is back with his second album 'London Town', which drops on Monday. Of course, when you name your album that, you at least know that I'll probably like it. Guests include Damon Albarn, Kate Nash, and a couple of times Mr. Craig David, which means it's a little more radio friendly than 05's 'Home Sweet Home'. The production is slicker, and it's definitely lacking some of that record's edge and sense of fun. I heard K on Zane Lowe's show last week, and he said that 'London Town' was the first song he wrote thinking of how great it'd sound live, and it's among the best tracks on the record. The sound, he says is like grime but slower. Sho'nuff, if you listen to the live version over at myspace, you'll see what he means.

I'm a little disappointed with the record, to be honest, so I've put up 'Typical Me' off the first record, to see how great he is at his best.

[download Kano - London Town] [pre-order album (UK)]
[download Kano - Typical Me]

4play: Big screen idols

With the exception of the gone-and-long-forgotten Hepburn, there aren't too many musical nods to film actresses that I can think of. Someone really needs to write a song called "Ashley Judd" or "Me and Kathleen Turner Down in the Schoolyard" or some such. I guess there's 'Lindsay Lohan' by Spank Rock, but technically, she isn't really an actress; and there's always 'Candle in the Wind' (original version).

For the fellas, though, there are some musical tributes to speak of. I couldn't find The Crockett's song 'James Dean-esque', despite my best efforts, but anyway, here are today's four.

Clark Gable - Here in the States, everyone who likes indie music seems to love the Postal Service, but they do nothing for me that the Notwist don't do better. Except write songs that fit this post.

Bill Murray - Rather than go for the ubiquitous 'Clint Eastwood', here's a song from the last Gorillaz record, but only the Japanese edition - I think. Who'll they write about next? Smart money's on Colin Hanks.

Bruce Lee - life kid suck from the box / drink from the box / the juice kid suck / life kid suck / the box / yeah / bruce lee

Kurt Russell - One of my favourite songs. "I want to be your hero - Pacino, De Niro and me".

[download The Postal Service - Clark Gable] [buy 'Give Up']
[download Gorillaz - Bill Murray] [buy 'Demon Days']
[download Underworld - Bruce Lee] [buy 'Beaucoup Fish']
[download Ultrasound - Kurt Russell]

And, since they're experts, here's a video about another A-Lister, from Adam and Joe. (As always, if you're reading a feed, the embedded video might not show up, so click here to see it).

I'm in Year 9 and I am doing my SATs

I'm surprised that, given M.I.A.'s recent album release and subsequent heavy blog coverage, very few sites have picked up on her label's new signing, Afrikanboy. From reading his myspace, you can tell that he's very young, has had immigration problems in the UK, and that he's very good at music. On that page you can hear him rhyme over Kanye's 'Two Words', plus this song, 'One Day I Went to Lidl'. It's about supermarkets, robbing supermarkets, eating chicken n' chips and talking on MSN. It's fucking fun. Look out for him.

[download Afrikaboy - One Day I Went to Lidl]

Burn your hands on the stupidity machine

  • Fluxblog put up another snippet from The Best Show on WFMU, my latest obsession. When you're done listening to that, here's another - Tom's review of recent thriller Mr Brooks. It's both spoiler-heavy, and hilarious-heavy.
    [download The Best Show on WFMU - Tom Reviews Mr. Brooks]
  • Jamie's doing his comprehensive-discography thing again, this time the focus is on Mansun. They're ok, I suppose, but even he acknowledges that sometimes their lyrics were "so bad that they're actually sublimely awful", so enjoy that.
  • Hey Venus! made it into the album charts at #11 today, which isn't that bad, but Show Your Hand didn't even make the top 40? That's disappointing, innit? I know people don't really care about the charts much anymore, but still.
  • Alex James has been writing a column for the Observer about cheese. I can't tell if this is more or less interesting than his recent autobiography, but it's probably more smug.
  • There is a new series of The I.T. Crowd, and the first couple of episodes thereof have been funnier than most of the first series. Still running with Noel Fielding's "goth dude that hangs out in the office", though. Check out eps (if they're working) on tv-links.
  • I saw Superbad recently. It was funny enough - always appreciate a good Orson Welles joke - but it didn't really have any heart. Jonah Hill's character was really unlikeable, and the whole "If we don't have sex before the end of high school, we will DIE" idea a) has been done before, and b) doesn't really resonate with me, maybe it's an American thing. There were plenty of funny moments, which I suppose is all you can ask for, but I've mostly forgotten about it already.
  • Also caught The Bourne Ultimatum and it was every bit as bad-ass as you'd expect. I've talked about this summer's blockbusters already, so the fact that this one had a cohesive plot and wasn't just made for the money, and had Paddy Considine and David Strathairn makes it ace. Plus Paul Greengrass directs the shit out of it (This is praise).
  • Candie Payne's new album is dead good, and I'm playing it quite a bit at the moment. Somewhere between good-period Concretes and Dusty Springfield, she's well worth a listen. Read an interview here, and watch her new video below.
  • That's all! Enjoy the holiday tomorrow, Americans, and enjoy working tomorrow, rest of world.

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