Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Song Of The Day 31/05/2011: The Motifs - Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

Today's SOTD is a ridiculous indiepop cover of one of the most well-known American early punk songs. The original, on the Ramones' third record 'Rocket To Russia', is a classic, showing the Ramones' surf tendencies in a traditional rock'n'roll context. The Ramones were fundamentally a pop band, and this is very much a pop song, albeit harder and more spirited than much of the other stuff around at the time, so in theory this song was ripe for an indiepop cover.

This version is from a compilation of various modern indiepop bands covering Ramones songs, which is well worth a listen. Some of the bands turn the songs into wistful indiepop charm, like this one, while some bands branch out from their indiepop roots and try to rock out themselves. I don't know much about the Motifs, apart from the song they put on the first Hangover Lounge EP, but they sound like fairly standard Australian twee-pop. I'm not sure I could stomach a full album, but they're perfect for a single cutesy tongue-in-cheek cover.

The Motifs - Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

Monday, 30 May 2011

Song Of The Day 30/05/2011: Belle & Sebastian - Mayfly

Belle and Sebastian are a band I'd long given up seeing by the time they finally came out of hiatus last year and began playing live again. They're currently in the middle of a three-night residency at Camden's Roundhouse, and I'm going to be there tonight. I can't wait. I've had a look at some of the setlists from this tour so far, and they do seem to be fairly light on the early stuff, which is my favourite era, but it still has the potential to be a truly stellar gig. This song has only been played once in the 27 gigs the band has played so far in 2011, but I'll be crossing my fingers tonight.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Song Of The Day 29/05/2011: Young Marble Giants - Music For Evenings

Following on from yesterday's decidedly minimalist Eux Autres post, today's song is one of the most deliciously minimalist of all bands, Young Marble Giants. As we've established before, I absolutely love this kind of post-punk stuff, in that it's influenced by punk morals and the sense of freedom but the bands are trying to move away from the (mostly pretty boring) musical sensibilities of first wave punk. This stuff all still sounds so amazingly fresh. The YMG album, in particular, could easily have been released yesterday.

Anyway, YMG. Today's song is from their one proper album, Colossal Youth, and it's my favourite track. The most enchanting theing about them, I think, is how stripped-down the sound is, retaining only what's absolutely necessary for the song (usually a primitively circuit-bent drum machine, heavily muted guitar, and lovely naive-sounding vocals). The lyrics to this one nicely encapsulate the late-night atmosphere of the whole album. YMG are playing at All Tomorrow's Parties in December, so I'm finally going to get to see them. I'm pretty excited!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Song Of The Day 28/05/2011: Eux Autres - Other Girls

Eux Autres are a San Francisco three-piece indiepop band inspired by 1960s French pop of the kind I did a themed week about a while ago. This song is from their debut record, 2004's 'Hell Is Eux Autres', and is a belter.

Un jour dans la vie.. from Atelier on Vimeo.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Song Of The Day 27/05/2011: Allo Darlin' - Tallulah

Allo Darlin' are probably my favourite relatively new London indiepop band. Last summer, between the release of their debut album and Indietracks, I saw them a fairly crazy number of times and listened to them even more. Their uptempo songs, like 'Silver Dollars' and 'My Heart Is A Drummer', are some of the best around, and in a small venue are pretty much impossible to improve on, but this song, recorded after the release of their first album for a Hangover Lounge EP and intended for their upcoming second album, was probably the highlight of every set I saw them play that summer. An incredibly intimate ukulele ballad, it can reduce even the most hardened of middle-aged punks to a wistful jelly. I got into Allo Darlin, like quite a lot of people, through their seasonal classic 'Will You Please Spend New Years With Me?' and this song carries on a lot of the spirit and sound of that song, but improving on it in every way. The lyrics are touching and funny and reference the Go-Betweens, which is all you really want in a song, and the understated breathiness of the vocals leads to something that you really can't help but just get lost in and listen to again and again.

In my mind, this is the aural equivalent of something like Annie Hall, with a similar kind of feeling despite the differences in subject. Which is one of the highest bits of praise I've ever put on this blog, and is fully deserved.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Song Of The Day 26/05/2011: Dolly Mixture - How Come You're Such A Hit With The Boys, Jane?

I had fun at last week's Indie label market, and picked up some good stuff (Crystal Stilts/Comet Gain split 7", Butterflies of Love vinyl), but the Dolly Mixture "Everything and More" box set, released last year, was easily my best find. It's the first time their stuff's been reissued on CD I think, but it's difficult to see why.
They emerged in the post-punk boom of the turn of the eighties, one of my favourite periods for music. I suppose in that sense, and being an all-girl band, you can compare them to the Slits, Raincoats or Girls at Our Best! (all great bands), but what Dolly Mixture really make their own is the pop influences that some of those other bands tend to hide. This song, in particular, sounds like The Pastels meets the Shangri-Las.
The Dolly Mixture story, as told in the liner notes, is quite sad: they seem to have been victimised in the music press for some reason, and never really found the right label to support them properly, so they ended up never getting the acclaim they perhaps should have. Hopefully this box set'll correct that a bit. They're a really important band, very influential on the later indiepop we all love (I'm guessing Amelia Fletcher, for one, was a big fan).

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Song Of The Day 25/05/2011: Chain & The Gang - Deathbed Confession

I saw Chain & the Gang last night, and they were surprisingly good. On record, they aren't really anything particularly exciting, with most of their songs sounding fairly similar (this one, their best by far, is an exception). Indeed, I only really went to the gig because Grass Widow, one of my favourites of the current trend for all-female fuzzpop bands, were supporting. Grass Widow were great, as expected, but C&tG completely blew them out of the water. Ian Svenonius, of many bands including Nation Of Ulysses, really is one of the best frontmen I've ever seen, and the rhythm section, in their trademark prison garb, churned out astonishingly powerful, dirty rock'n'roll. The vocals were the real star - Svenonius treads the line between highly intellectual and highly ridiculous, but in a live setting pretty much everything he did seemed to come off well, with songs that really don't do anything on the record ('Detroit Music', 'What Is A Dollar?') going down surprisingly well. 'Deathbed Confession' was saved for the encore, and, despite impending last-tube deadlines, was stretched out to 20 minutes of mostly spoken word vocals over a repetitive riff. And it was brilliant - not only were the protagonists resposible for the killings of JFK, MLK and all the others on the record, but also for things like the spread of fast-food chains.

It might sound terrible. But it was ace.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Song Of The Day 24/05/2011: Bob Dylan - Tangled Up In Blue (New York version)

Today is the last day of our Bob Dylan week, and (not wholly coincidentally) Bob Dylan's 70th birthday. Something special is needed - I can't really post just another random Dylan song from somewhere in his back catalogue, it has to be one of his very best songs. However, I have to continue on the no-official-studio-album-releases train. Therefore, the best unreleased (indeed, arguably the best full stop) version of one of my favourite Dylan songs.

Tangled Up In Blue is one of the most dissected works of Dylan's career, so I won't really bother to try and match up to other, better, critiques (like this one here). It's ostensibly a fairly basic story song, yet manages to fit a massive amount of imagery in. It feels like one of Dylan's broadest, grandest works, yet feels like it lasts a fraction of its 7-minute running time.

This version is a lot less instantly catchy than the original, with a lot less strident guitar and more of a focus on the voice. He's also played around with personal pronouns a lot, bending the narrative of the story considerably. It's just a lot more personal. It's a stupendous performance, but you can definitely tell why this recording was discarded for the more polished officially released version, which went on to be one of the best-known songs of his later career, attracting more people to the genius that is Blood On The Tracks than would have heard it otherwise. Oh well. Dylan never was the greatest self-editor. There were plenty of other things he could do that would make up for it.

Happy birthday, Bob!

Bob Dylan - Tangled Up In Blue (New York version)

(one last thing - well done me. I got through a whole week of Dylan retrospection without using the phrase 'He was so much younger then'! I'm proud of myself.)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Song Of The Day 23/05/2011: Bob Dylan - Clothes Line Saga

Today's post in the Bob Dylan 70th birthday week extravaganza here on the Punch Table is from the fabled Basement Tapes. Dylan and The Hawks (his backing band on the '66 world tour, shortly to become The Band) holed up in Woodstock in 1966-7 and recorded loads of songs. Many were covers, but there are also a number of originals, in a very different style to the electric releases of '65-6.
This isn't one of the very best of the Basement Tapes songs, but it is a suitably enigmatic one: it raises lots of questions, and answers none of them. Its playful oddness is a good example of the feel of a lot of the Basement Tapes material, which is well worth checking out further.

Bob Dylan - Clothes Line Saga

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Song Of The Day 22/05/2011: Bob Dylan - I'll Keep It With Mine

I'll Keep It With Mine was a song Dylan originally recorded at the beginning of 1965. This version was done by Dylan solo, on the piano, and it is the one I have posted a link to below. Although this was around the time of the recording of Bringing It All Back Home, which, with it's acoustic side, would have made a good permanent home for it, it was given to the folk singer Judy Collins for her to record and release as a single. Dylan apparently wasn't satisfied with this recording, and consigned it to the bin for 20 years.

Dylan revisited the song a year later, though, during the recording of Blonde on Blonde, and recorded a full-band rocked-up version. It was rejected for the album, and the recording of that version is particularly bad quality - despite being officially released on the Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, the song only starts half way through the first verse, and there is a loud interruption by the recording engineer half way through. It's a pity, because it's a song that would definitely work better as a full-band track, as other artists showed - as usual with Dylan songs, there are also a lot of fairly serviceable covers. The best, which are the Fairport Convention and Nico versions, are well worth a look.

Bob Dylan - I'll Keep It With Mine

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Song Of The Day 21/05/2011: Bob Dylan - Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?

Today's stop on our journey through Bob's Back Pages is the 1965 single "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?", one of his absolute best, bafflingly never put on record until Biograph. Self-sabotage is something of a theme of Dylan's career: he definitely has a habit of leaving some of his best material off records (as we have seen with some of the earlier posts of this week). In that sense he really doesn't help himself with regard to bootleggers: if all that there was was innumerable fragmentary jams, then people wouldn't buy them, but with songs this good, it's almost a public service (although of course this was out as a single).

Anyway, this is a belter: thin wild mercury Highway 61-period Dylan, cut with the Hawks, and featuring some great guitar playing from Robbie Robertson. Apparently there's a version with Mike Bloomfield out there somewhere, but I can't locate it at the moment.

Bob Dylan - Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?

Friday, 20 May 2011

Song Of The Day 20/05/2011: Bob Dylan - Lay Down Your Weary Tune

Continuing on this week's Bob Dylan birthday bonanza, here's a track originally recorded for Dylan's third album, 'The Times They Are A-Changin''. Very atypical of his protest song phase, which he was just then beginning to leave, it uses more vivid, unclear imagery than was normal for Dylan at the time. There is nothing remotely political about this song. Dylan wrote it all in one night at Joan Baez' house in the autumn of 1963, and then recorded it all in one take on October 24th. Having been left off the album for the track 'Restless Farewell', this original version circulated on bootlegs among collectors until its official release on Biograph, Dylan's career retrospective, in 1985.

As usual with a widely known Dylan song, many artists have covered it. The Byrds and Fairport Convention versions are probably my favourites, being not very far from the original but with a slightly more 'rocking' backing (and, in the Fairport case, Sandy Denny's lovely wailed backing vocals). Any other versions just don't really seem to work as well as the original, though - Dylan's voice really does give the song something extra.

(p.s. tomorrow is the Independent Label Market, where lots of independent record shops set up stalls selling their own wares (including some exclusive releases) on Berwick Street in Soho. See you there!)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Song Of The Day 19/05/2011: Bob Dylan - Talkin' John Birch Society Blues

Today's Dylan song is one of his best early talking blues (along with Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues), but one never released on an album. I suppose it's fairly topical, which might account for that, but it's a good piece of satire with some funny lines. It also caused something of a controversy back in 1963, when Dylan was supposed to perform it on Ed Sullivan's TV show. When CBS' lawyers told him he'd have to do a different song because of possible libel, he refused to perform and walked off the show. An interesting contrast with his recent tour of China, perhaps.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Song Of The Day 18/05/2011: Bob Dylan - I Was Young When I Left Home

On Tuesday, Bob Dylan is going to celebrate his 70th birthday. What better excuse could there be for the next Punch Table themed week?

Despite having released 34 studio albums, as well as many live albums and compilations, his officially recorded and released material tells nowhere near the full story. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of commercially released bootlegs available around the world, documenting live shows and studio outtakes from throughout his 50-year career. For the next 7 days, all the SOTDs will be taken from Dylan bootlegs, and I'll throw in a bit of extra information about that period in Dylan's career. There is so much to get through that I don't think we'll get much beyond the first part of his career, but that will leave us plenty of material of future Dylan features! I wouldn't necessarily recommend these tracks as the best way into Dylan if you've not really heard much before. Before you listen to any of these, you should probably make sure you've listened to 'Blonde on Blonde', 'Blood On The Tracks' and 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' - between them, these albums cover most of the important directions Dylan's music headed in over the first (and best) 15 years of his career.

The first song featured is from the very early stages of Dylan's career. Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Dylan move to New York in 1961 to learn his trade from the variety of folk musicians that then inhabited the cafes of Greenwich Village, most notable among them the invalid Woody Guthrie, who Dylan had idolised ever since his days in high school rock'n'roll bands. Playing mostly covers of old folk and blues standards, his style quickly evolved over the course of the year between his arrival there and the release of his debut album in March 1962. By the time it was released, 6 months after the recordings had been completed, he was effectively a completely different person to that captured on the record. A bootleg recorded in a Minnesota hotel room that I reviewed a few months ago contains some the best performances I have heard by Dylan from this period. I have chosen 'I Was Young When I Left Home' to represent this early stage, both due to the apt title and because it was exactly what Dylan was about at this stage of his career - a lovely fingerpicked folk song, adapted from the traditional '900 Miles', a favourite of Woody Guthrie.

Bob Dylan - I Was Young When I Left Home

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Song Of The Day 17/05/2011: Thurston Moore - Circulation

It would be hard not to liken Thurston Moore's new Beck-produced record to 'Sea Change', Hansen's own acoustic departure from his more traditional sound. Within a few seconds of the opening track, you get something that you'd have to search very hard for on any of his previous releases - violin. The only instruments here are Thurston's guitar, the violin and a harp.

Moore has changed the face of the heavier, more experimental end of popular music completely over the last 30 years (and has released a frankly ridiculous number of records with Sonic Youth, solo and with various side projects) but he hasn't, to my knowledge, released anything remotely down the furrow ploughed by this record. There are no screwdrivers anywhere near guitars around here. Despite the odd song (most notably 'Orchard Street') clearly showing what I think of as the 'classic' Sonic Youth chord patterns, angrily propelled forward by minor chords moving in chromatic steps, this doesn't really sound like Thurston Moore. It's very middle-aged, in a way, but even a 52-year-old Moore has more energy and fire than many of the 19-year-olds currently filling the O2 Arena and whatnot.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Song Of The Day 16/05/2011: Jupiter Sun - Violet Intertwine

I first came across Jupiter Sun on the excellent 1994 Slumberland compilation 'Why Popstars Can't Dance' (which is well worth a purchase if you ever see it on sale - I'm pretty sure it's well out of print, but there were a couple of copies in the Notting Hill Music & Video Exchange last time I was in there). They're very distinctively a Slumberland band, but have a slight rocky edge to some of their songs that is all too infrequent in releases by the label. Some of their less indiepop stuff even verges on American Football-esque twinkle. They inhabit the territory somewhere between Rocketship and Palaxy Tracks, which is a very nice place to be. A few too many guitar solos and a slight lack of much rhythmic diversity between songs stop the record this song is taken from, 'Atmosphere', being a truly stellar release, but there are some absolute corkers on it.

This song, however, isn't very much like anything else on the record. It sounds straight out of the late 1980s - very indiepop, but with a guitar part that sounds almost Stone Roses-y. Terrible title, but we can forgive it that.

Jupiter Sun - Violet Intertwine

Song Of The Day 15/05/2011: The Vaselines - Son of a Gun

Today's song is indiepop heroes The Vaselines. This is probably their most popular song, but I don't care. It's just brilliant, sing-song dual vocals with a stupidly catchy melody. They've been so influential (not least through a certain indiepop fan by the name of Kurt Cobain), and reformed a couple of years ago after a long hiatus, but the first couple of EPs are still the best I think.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Song Of The Day 14/05/2011: Help Stamp Out Loneliness - The Ghost With A Hammer In His Hand

I've been waiting for the release of HSOL's debut album for what seems like an age. Ever since I first became aware of them back at Indietracks 2009, I've had to survive on a disc of 5 demos and very little else. They have gradualy been leaking songs for most of the year, but the album was only finally released this week. It's even better than I expected. Unlike a lot of their contemporaries, they have managing to draw the warped, synthy indiepop of their early songs to a full album that never feels tired or stale. Despite some of their songs being among my most-played of the last few years, the old ones are nowhere near their best songs - The opener (Cottonopolis + Promises) and the closer (Split Infintives) are two of the best indiepop songs I've heard this year, only bettered by my favourite on the album, 'The Ghost With A Hammer In His Hand'.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Song Of The Day 13/05/2011: Veronica Falls - Right Side of My Brain

Due to blogger being down for most of the day today I only have about ten minutes to post today's pick before we accidentally miss a day (disaster). So here's a quick one.
Punchtable favourites Veronica Falls have apparently finished their debut record, but it's currently without a label, although when I asked them they said that it'll hopefully be out by the end of the summer. Here's hoping! This is their most recent release, which you can download if you join their mailing list, and it's a belter. It's very much staying within the sound they've carved out for themselves, referential(/reverential) indiepop vibes but with a certain darkness which sets them apart from the C86 revival masses.

If it's all this good, it'll easily be one of the albums of the year.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Song Of The Day 12/05/2011: Quasi - Our Happiness is Guaranteed

I relistened to Quasi's "Featuring "Birds"" the other day for the first time in a long while, and I was blown over by how good it was. I remembered it being good, but it's great, a perfect mix of chirpy indiepop melodies, nice thick guitar and keys instrumentation, and ultra-bleak lyrics. They toured for a bit as Elliot Smith's backing band, and there are aspects of that kind of sound in there, but there are also traces of the Pacific Northwest type of indie rock bands like Built to Spill (Sam Coomes can really play guitar, although he doesn't let loose that often).

This is one of the less gloomy songs on the record (which contains such bubblegum classics as "You Fucked Yourself" and "I Give Up"), imagining a futuristic society where we all live in bubbles under the sea, isolated from all emotion. Sort of like that bit in Star Wars: Episode 1 I suppose. Anyway, killer melody! This is how Northwestern indiepop is meant to sound.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Song Of The Day 11/05/2011: Cat's Eyes - I Knew It Was Over

Cat's Eyes are a side project by Faris Badwan of the Horrors, a band I've never quite made up my mind on. The popular story is that their first album was hipster-by-numbers dirge, but their second record caught everyone (including the music press) by surprise by being genuinely good. I liked the second record, but didn't put it up in the pantheon that some people did - it didn't really have anything to set it apart from the many, many shoegaze revivalist bands around back in 2009.

I much prefer this new band, a duo of Badwan and classically-trained multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira. Through Zeffira's classical contacts, they were able to get a completely unique venue for their debut performance. The video below is from the 'gig', where they played a couple of songs in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. This song really fills the spectacular acoustics, making for an experience that does feel almost religious. It would be better if it had slightly more interesting lyrics, but hey ho.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Song Of The Day 10/05/2011: Kurt Vile - Ocean City

Today's song is some of the solo material of Kurt Vile. He released a new album pretty recently, which I've heard good things about, but this is the first track from his EP of last year, Square Shells.
Kurt Vile used to be in the War on Drugs, and this song's emblematic of the kind of stylistic variation that they used to trade in. It starts as a back-porch stones strum, and then gets a bit electronic at the end, sort of like a more earthy version of Woods. It's a pretty good guide to the style of the rest of the EP, which flirts with drone and ambient type soundscapes while remaining pretty grounded in folky rock. Pretty good.
He's doing an instore at Rough Trade East next Thursday, should be pretty fun (I guess this also means he's doing some proper gigs around then too). Also Kurt Vile's supporting Woods at Scala in about October, which is looking like one of my most anticipated shows of the year.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Song Of The Day 09/05/2011: Yuck - Operation

I wrote about Yuck's debut album back in January and gave it a very good review, saying that their blend of various obvious 1980s influences managed to capture a lot of the fire of the original, whilst not feeling completely derivative. The album has grown old more slowly and gracefully than I expected, and now, 4 months later, I still regard it as one of the best releases this year. This song is one of the best songs on the album - it is basically Yuck's take on Teenage Riot. The video is fairly bad quality - I recommend sourcing the album somewhere (legally, of course) to get the full effect.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Song Of The Day 08/05/2011: My Bloody Valentine - Drive It All Over Me

Like most people, I'd imagine, I got into MBV through Loveless. It's difficult to avoid, being such a revolutionary, unique, and just plain brilliant record that it would overshadow the career of pretty much any band. For a while that was all the MBV I listened to. But eventually I found and listened to first their other album, Isn't Anything, and then the earlier EPs.
This song is from my favourite of those, "You Made Me Realise", which I probably like just as much as Loveless, although in a different way. Instead of the walls of Kevin Shields' guitar and dreamy vocals, this is more down-to-earth. The noise is still there, but at this stage it's still subservient to the songs. The vocals are mixed higher and the lyrics are much more understandable. And MBV, when they tried, could really write a melody.

I could have chosen anything from the EP really but this one's lovely, sweet pop melody with classic fuzz guitar backing. Pretty much perfection.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Song Of The Day 07/05/2011: Friends - You'll Never See That Summertime Again

Another late 80s indiepop band, Friends made (and still make) Smiths-y guitar jangle of the highest order. There isn't really much more to say about them than that.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Song Of The Day 06/05/2011: Frightened Rabbit - Good Arms vs. Bad Arms

Frightened Rabbit have come from nowhere to be one of the most respected indie bands around at the moment. When this album was first released, it barely seemed to register - it gathered a large amount of critical praise, both at the time and on various end-of-year lists, but hardly anyone seemed to have actually heard it. Gradually, and especially since the release of their newest record, people seem to have been re-investigating their back catalogue and realising that it is a real classic of the new millennium. This is my favourite song on the record - it wasn't released as a single, but it really should have been, with the kind of driving rhythms and emotive-but-not-overdone lyrics that are perfect for dragging in the casual listener and converting them to the band.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Song Of The Day 05/05/2011: The Dentists - I Had An Excellent Dream

The Dentists were one of the more long-lived of the original C86 bands, staying around until the mid-90s and even signing a deal with a major label nearly 10 years after the compilation was first released. This song is from their first album, "Some People are on the Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now". It has a markedly different sound to a lot of the standard British indiepop from around that time, having more in common with American 60s garage rock. I love it.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Song Of The Day 04/05/2011: Times New Viking - Fuck Her Tears

Todays SotD is the first single from the new Times New Viking record, Dancer Equired! It's a couple of minutes of rattly, noisy goodness very much in the TNV mould. They've been doing this ultra lo-fi noise pop stuff longer than pretty much everyone else around at the moment (with the possible exception of Psychedelic Horseshit) and yet they still keep churning out singalong classics like this. The rest of the new record I found a little disappointing, except for a few tracks, but this is great.

I saw TNV last night (supported by Punch Table favourites Veronica Falls, who played a few new great-sounding songs) and they were good as usual. They must have played about twenty songs in thirty-five high-energy minutes, including most of the new album plus some old favourites like "(my head)" and "Teenage Lust". They tried to play this song last, and got about 30 seconds in, until the guitar player broke a string. He threw down his guitar in disgust, ran offstage, picked up another, played four bars or so then broke two more strings. They abandoned the song in the end, a suitably shambolic end to a fun show.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Song Of The Day 03/05/2011: Math And Physics Club - We're So DIY!

Math & Physics club are one of the smaller headliners for Indietracks this year. They haven't played there before, but they are a quintessentially Indietracks-y band, the current standard bearers of the frenetic Tullycraft-style American indiepop. Following the 'write about what you know' maxim also used to great effect last year by Allo Darlin', this song is about the trials of forming an indiepop band. The video's great too.

'I've got my casiotone, we can do it on our own!'

Monday, 2 May 2011

Song Of The Day 02/05/2011: Nick Drake - From The Morning

Nick Drake was, along with Richard Thompson, one of the most influential British songwriters of the 60s folk revival, and was one of the first stereotypical troubled folk troubadours. His career was very short, as he died when he was only 26, but he could have been one of the greats - his albums got gradually better, and his last, 1972's 'Pink Moon', is one of my all-time most played records. This is one of the best songs from that album, 'From The Morning', and it's great.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Song Of The Day 01/05/2011: Grass Widow - Tuesday

Today's song comes from one of my favourite records of last year, Grass Widow's second album, Past Time. On the surface of it, in mixing minimalist pop backings with female vocals, Grass Widow aren't doing anything particularly radical, but it's in their songwriting and singing that they really shine. The harmonies especially are wonderful, vocal lines overlapping and colliding like a crazed version of the Raincoats. The Raincoats are actually a pretty good touchstone for Grass Widow's sound as a whole, and I genuinely think the two albums stand up to that kind of comparison. Really clever and catchy.
This is my favourite song on the album, off-kilter vocals running into each other over the top of some frantic instrumentation. But, really, everything on the album's good and the songs are all really short (so even if you don't like one, another'll be along soon). The first record is fun too, with some nice trumpet parts that seem to have disappeared from the second, but Grass Widow seems to be one band that the cleaner production of a bigger label (Kill Rock Stars) and perhaps more time in the studio seem to have really helped.

Also, they're playing in London in a few weeks supporting another band I really like, current Ian Svenonius (ex-Nation of Ulysses etc. etc.) project Chain and the Gang. Killer lineup, right? Should be an excellent gig. See you there.