March 2009

Sorry for the long wait between posts folks, I’ve been slack after coming back from uni, and I’m afraid I have more bad news, I’ll be away for about two weeks from tomorrow on holiday. But fear not, I leave you with something wonderful.

I got an email from Laura Marling’s mailing list a week or so ago, proclaiming her to having played with Jeffrey Lewis. Now seeing as I love her and newly love him, this seemed like something I should hear immediately, and hear it I did. For an odd little new section on the Guardian website, Jeffrey Lewis has started singing the news and then performing tracks with other artists, and the result of the first of these was his collaboration with Ms. Marling (link). And a weird one it is too.

They’re covering Eminem’s “Brain Damage” in a simplistic sing-song style (x4 alliteration), with Jeffrey’s tell-tale drawl sitting uncomfortably but wonderfully next to Laura’s dictive style. It’s not an instant classic, but I’ve listened to it a lot recently and it makes me smile, which is never a bad thing. And with that I leave you!

Jeffrey Lewis and Laura Marling – Brain Damage (Eminem Cover) (YSI)


Weezer – Island In The Sun (YSI)

Tom Williams & The Boat, that’s what.

A long while ago, browsing through one of my favourite blogs, Dirty Sexy Music, I found a little gem called “Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet”. After finding the London new folk scene with Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Noah and The Whale and the incredible, should be absolutely freakin’ huge, super-brilliant, Mumford & Sons (those superlatives are necessary, I promise), this lovely little ditty fitted right in.

The band are a Tunbridge Wells-based six-piece with a propensity for feel-good folk tracks, and even more propensity for posting all their tracks for free download on their website. The surreal lyrics of love gone wrong, the strains of the violin that sounds like a sea breeze (oo, get you and the pretentious imagery), the gently strummed guitar – it all makes for a song that perfectly complements the sunshine that’s hit Newcastle in the past few days, something to walk and smile to. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Their newer material is a little more band-oriented, and a little poppier and more electric, but no less worthy. But it’s one of those odd things, that no matter what they do from here on in, and no matter how mind-blowingly wonderful it might be, it will be this song that will always remain a favourite, one of those personal little tunes you’re always happy to listen to.

Thanks to ashleyRtanton for the photo 🙂

Tom Williams & The Boat – Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet

Recently, I’ve found it harder to find a song that I just want to listen to over and over again like I used to, not because of a lack of interest in music, but because I just want a change. So when a song comes along that really just begs to be listened to repeatedly for a day, there must be something excellent about it.

Fitting nicely into this mould is the debut single from Northern Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club, “Something Good Can Work”. As the title suggests, this is a feel-good track, but this isn’t just a happy little number, this brims over with energy and pure boundless enthusiasm that it’s hard not to want to shout along to it from the first listen.

All airy overlapping guitars, and with a simple drum machine beat behind everything, it would lend itself well to any respectable dancefloor. But the chorus is the masterstroke, with the vocals almost too fast to be understood, but so endlessly uplifting that you don’t care that it all just makes you want to take off and fly. Alright, that last sentence was little sickly, but honestly, it’s bloody brilliant.

Oh, and a hundred thank you’s to The Recommender for, well… recommending it.

Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work (YSI)

Ever since their first album, I’ve loved Maximo Park. They swept along with the rest of the indie invasion of post-Libs bands at the same time as Arctic Monkeys, The Rakes, Bloc Party et al, but somehow seemed to get swept under the radar initially. A Certain Trigger was simply brilliant, chock full of hooks and the always interesting lyrics of Mr. Paul Smith, whilst Our Earthly Pleasures was certainly more of a grower, but just as good throughout.

Hearing that a new song, “Wraithlike”, had been put up for free download, I jumped onto the website and gave it a listen. As it begins, it’s exactly what you expected, but still just as enthralling – Deep guitar and bass tones strum incessantly before skipping drums and Paul’s voice leap into the mix. Before long a siren-like synth tone builds from below, building and building, increasing expectation, but no chorus comes.

And that’s my main problem with the song, it seems like one long set of verses, like they haven’t quite finished a promising song. Here’s hoping the album lives up to what we all want from it…

Maximo Park – Wraithlike (YSI)
Maximo Park – Limassol (YSI)

I never really “got” Jeffrey Lewis. I saw him at Reading last year, and whilst it was prefectly nice, I just didn’t understand the fuss about him. But, getting his new album, ‘Em Are I, I’ve successfully been converted. It’s the lyrics, I just want to listen to every single thing he has to say. There aren’t many artists with the ability to craft funny, poignant, uplifting and insane things in one song, but he definitely ranks among these lucky few.

The music itself is completely different to my expectation, and I think it’s down to the addition of the Junkyard band to the mix, which has resulted in a lot more band-oriented tracks, with Libertines-style guitar, Cake-like freak-outs and even what sounds like a square-dance all represented. But in every track Lewis’ voice still takes pride of place. I think I’ll just list some lyrics that I love, and you can have a listen for yourself.

“Going bald will be the most manly thing I do”
“I still don’t have a cellphone, but this seashell gets reception, and the ocean won’t stop calling, and I want a restraining order”
Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – To Be Objectified (YSI)

“Everyone you meet is not better than you”
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, oh come on that’s not me at all”
Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – Slogans (YSI)

“I had a pig, it really was a sight, when it was dark, he glowed at night”
Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – Good Old Pig, Gone To Avalon (YSI)

NME this week released a compilation of covers of The Cure, who have just been entirely rightly given the NME Godlike Genius award. Now the worth of this album was always going to be in question, because surely we should hear the band themselves and, whilst some of the covers are pretty good, there was always the chance of a song by The Cure being absolutely ruined by a lesser band. And guess what? Lostprophets managed just that, the Welsh bastards. By not changing any element of “Boys Don’t Cry” except the vocals into a ridiculous faux-american whine, I may never enjoy the original song again, for fear of the painful memories.

Luckily, The Futureheads manage to salvage it a little by putting their usual harmonic genius to good use on a cacophonous version of “The Lovecats”, so please, do yourself a favour and listen to that instead.

The Futureheads – The Lovecats