Music Notes June 2011

June 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Hey hey, it’s June’s list of good things to hear…

1. Stornaway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill

Yeah, yeah, read my review of the show. Probably my favourite album this year from last year. Irresistably catchy pop-folk. Do yourself a favour.

2. Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers – LAMF (the Lost 77 mixes)

LAMF’s legend looms larger than the record. Recorded in 1977 with a notoriously muddy sound mix which led Jerry Nolan to quit the band, it contained pretty much all of the Heartbreakers’ songs (except for Too Much Junkie Business – never properly recorded) . In the mid 1980s, the album was remixed and rereleased, revealing it to be, as everyone already knew, a really great rock album (It’s worth picking up the Jungle edition CD which pairs it with Live at the Speakeasy). Finally, a third remix which pushes the guitars up and maybe, maybe, this the definitive version.  

3. The Ramones – subterranean Jungle

Ah, the difficult seventh album. After the commercial failures of End of the Century and Pleasant Dreams, subterranean Jungle sounds a bit like a last-ditch attempt at a pop record. While it’s still the Ramones, and so not without its charms, it all sounds a bit too polished. The vocals too clear, the guitars mixed back, etc. It was their last record with Marky too. Still there are the usual fine covers (Little Bit of Soul, Time has Comes today etc) and Psycho Therapy is classic Ramones. And never fear, the next record. Too Tough to Die was a triumphant return to form.

4 Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

Now if you’ve got Nick Cave and Brian Eno in your corner, who’s gonna argue? But the truth is, even without such celebrity endorsements, Anna Calvi would still be brilliant. Twangy Duane Eddy guitar, a touch of Edith Piaf and something unique to Calvi make for this astonishing good debut.

Watch this video for Blackout  and not be convinced; I dare you. 

5. Mark Stewart – Edit

Once upon a time there was a group called the Pop Group who were anything but. Punk+Beefheart+Nietzsche and you’re getting close. Their record For How Much Longer Can we Tolerate Mass Murder? was the first place I heard the Last Poets. Then came the split. Pigbag, Rip Rig and Panic and…Mark Stewart. Stewart hocked up with On-U Sound genius Adrian Sherwood and created brilliant claustrophobic records like Learning to Cope with Cowardice. The new one Edit is a bit looser, but still has some tremendous beats and the politics of paranoia. Apparently there’s a film about him too.

6.  Sloan – Smeared

I admit I’m not a big fan of Sloan. Ah, but time was… twenty years ago, my wife was in film school and made a couple of short films with Fiona Highet who was the girlfriend of Andrew Scott, Sloan’s drummer. And around the same time, this magnificent record came out. Perfect summer pop.

7. Anika – Anika

Hmm, if Nico sang for Portishead? Well, no, but Geoff Barrow is involved with this project of German singer-journalist. A little off-putting at first but it grows with repeated listens. And if you think you’ve heard every version of Dylan’s Masters if War, think again.

8. Bob Dylan – Bringing it All Back Home

This was the first record I listened to after finishing work for the summer. On the electric side, the music’s not much, and Dylan never could sing, but somehow his wordplay makes it all work (it doesn’t hurt that She Belongs to Me and Love Minus Zero/No Limits are among the prettiest songs Dylan ever wrote.) The acoustic side speaks for itself, but ending with It’s All Over Now Baby Blue is such a sad moment. worth listening to over and over again.

9. Neko Case & Nick Cave – She’s Not There

Recorded for the new season of True Blood, the thing sounds as if it was recorded in a box. The sound is muffled, sweaty, creepy. Rather like the show. Get a copy here. Phew.

10. Ultravox – Systems of Romance

Call me a snob or a purist, but it’s the last Ultravox album to have. The stuff with Midge Ure is a different band. Only the name remains. Systems is filled with gloomy gothic splendor. A lovely introduction to John Foxx’s solo work.

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