Music Notes February 2009

February 19, 2009 at 1:29 am (Uncategorized)

1. The Only Ones

One of my favourite bands in the 1970s. Another Girl Another Planet, whose meaning I didn’t figure out until many years later, is one of the great new wave (to use a much maligned term) songs.  Peter Perrett had a great elegantly wasted look, ala Keith Richards or Johnny Thunders, a thin reedy whine somewhere between Lou Reed and Gordon Gano, and incredible drug problems. (It’s probably no accident Pete Doherty cites him as an influence)There’s a long interview with Perrett on the Mojo Blog this month.

2. Heartless Bastards – The Mountain.

A week ago, I’d never heard of this band, but there was a very positive review on Zoilus, Carol Wilson’s blog. I checked out their myspace page, and bang, I was hooked.  Their new album is full of great blues riffs, and lead singer  Ericka Wennerstrom has a completely compelling voice. If this sounds a little fan-boyish, there’s a reason for it. Check out their myspace page for a preview.

3. Original Seeds

Nick Cave is a towering figure.  Original Seeds is an interesting collection of records which either influenced Cave or he outright covered. Original Seeds comes in two volumes (I got the second last weekend), with songs by Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Gang of Four, Nina Simone, the Stooges and many many more. The cool thing about this compilation is the very detailed sleeve notes, which slots each song into Cave’s continuiioty.  

4. The Gun Club – The Fire of Love

The years after punk were in some ways, even more interesting than punk. Punk was a much needed reaction to the bloated excesses of 70’s rock. But quickly, the reaction became reactionary. A new orthodoxy was proclaimed. So often the most interesting music was being made by people who said let’s keep the revolution going or those who said we love punk, but we love other music too.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club loved reggae, punk, Blondie and the delta blues. How many punks covered Robert Johnson on their debut records?  The Fire of Love, almost thirty years after its release still sounds fresh. Gripping, terrifying music.   

5.  M.I.A.’s clothes

Like a public Dorian Gray, Maya M.I.A.  Arulpragasam’s records get better and better. Her first album Arular was an amazing debut – a glorious mix of hip hop, electronica and pop. Her second Kala was even better. A global mix of all of the above, and third word sounds. Who knows what the next will be like.

But the picture in the closet, or out of the closet, is her wardrobe. As M.I.A.’s star has written, her sense of dress seems to have disintegrated. I don’t know what she was thinking at the Grammys last week, before or during her stage show, but honey it doesn’t work.  Was that mean? No more What Not to Wear for me. ( Hey I’m not alone – check Go Fug Yourself)

 5. The Priscillas

Long live the garage! The Priscillas are another fine all-girl indie band from the UK. I article I read somewhere suggested they might be the kind of people the Cramps would invite to a party. Have a listen at their site, and download a megamix of the new album.  

6. Neko Case

Wow. I remember when she was the drummer for Cub. Then Meow. Then a solo career with her boyfriends. This month I’ve read flattering profiles in Oxford American and the New York Times . New CD on March 3, but you can download the new single People Got a Lotta Nerve from Anti The New York Timesarticle reports that for every blog which reports this offer, Anti will donate money to an animal charity Case supports. The offer ran from January 14 to February 3. The Times issue appeared February 15. Go figure. Maybe it’ll do some good anyway.

7. Buddha Machine

I saw this piece in the New Yorker, and it’s just too weird too ignore.  FM3 an ambient duo based in Beijing have created essentially an ambient 8-track. The nine tracks on the thing range from 5 to 45 seconds and loop over and over again. The New York Times called it beautifully useless. How could you not want one in your house? Soundscapes in Toronto sells them.

8. Lunafied

Old news, old news. But it’s funny how a band can do covers. I’ve always thought there’s little point in recording a cover version if it sounds more or less the same as the original. Make it different. Put your stamp on it. The best covers do that. Everyone remembers Hendrix’s version of All Along the Watchtower, although I still prefer Dylan’s (call me crazy). Remember the buzz about Uncle Tupelo’s cover of I wanna be your Dog. Virtually unrecognizable, but brilliant. Johnny Cash had the incredible talent of recording songs which then sounded as if he had written them. This tended to overshadow his own songwriting talents, but so it goes. Luna’s covers album is another instance. They all sound like Luna songs now. One complaint – where’s the G ‘n’ R cover gone?  

9. Bring the Noise

Simon Reynolds wrote the best book about post-punk, Rip it Up and Start Again. A delightful, incisive read which brought back lots of memories. He has a new book out Bring the Noise about hip hop. Probably worth a look.

It’s a short month, so it’s a top 9.

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