Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tracklist: Bright Spark Destroyer - The Shortest Distance

Quick one today, partly because this has been out since the start of the month. That kind of yearning voice with bouncy, hi-hat friendly chiming guitar pop is the default setting of a million go-nowhere local support bands so it takes quite a bit to produce something interesting out of it. The lyrics reference the physics of the titular concept of the shortest distance between two points as love metaphor and there's something intangibly fresh about the way it's all put together.

Bright Spark Destroyer - The Shortest Distance by Bright Spark Destroyer

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ten things we learnt from Dot To Dot Nottingham at the weekend

1. Walking across the town hall square in Nottingham to get to the Bodega on a Bank Holiday Sunday after 9pm is taking fate into your own hands
Not strictly for the famed violence, but oh, the depravity.

2. However flabby, bloated and 'experimental' their albums get, live And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead are a noisy riot
Cherrypicking from a decent sized back catalogue there was little flab and plenty of roaring borderline controlled insanity. As if the one-two shouty punch of Fake Fake Eyes and A Perfect Teenhood wasn't enough, they then had to go and play the biggest release of energy on and off stage that is Mistakes And Regrets.

3. Fixers have it going on
A set that in its opening two songs takes on West Coast harmonies, tribal digital beats and positive vibe psych-sci-fi gang appeals is quite something. Many tried to dance.

4. Paul Carlin smacks the hell out of a bass drum
Someone eventually had to find a slab of concrete, or so it appeared, to hold the kit in place when a bass amp proved insufficient. They may be down to just the one tub-thumper, John Baillie Jnr now taking on Blood Brothers-style co-vocal duties, but Dananananaykroyd are forging ahead into a new realm of positive post-hardcore with their usual boundless energy and love of crowd invading - The Greater Than Symbol And The Hash culminated in a dual scream-off encircled by baffled audience members - and hugging. No Wall Of Cuddles, but both started by embracing everyone on the barrier in turn. Shame the vocal mix was often too low.

5. Stagecoach are the most fun
We like to think the woman who got saddled with an unexpected mandolin at the end of the set is still trying to work out what to do with it.

6. Colourmusic believe in noise
And it was only a small area too. Lots of head nodding and general seratonin excitement by the closing Yes!

7. Hot Horizons are better live than on record
So far, at least. More spaciousness and wooziness, some parts edging towards an analogue keys Grizzly Bear.

8. You can be a lo-fi bedroom surf-pop auteur and be any good live
All Dom had to do, it turns out, is rub away the fuzz and the desire to be MGMT. He's got the hooks, the razor-tipped summer pop and the sense of humour.

9. Despite what Simon Reynolds is telling you, maybe taking retrospective leads isn't always a bad thing
Spotlight Kid, as discussed on here before, are very much an attempt to make three minute pop songs from the My Bloody Valentine raw materials - two songs in their set have mini-holocaust sections - but they make something of it with plenty to go at. At an opposing end of the spectrum Ronika could easily be taken for a Little Boots/Ellie Goulding faux-real synthpop type except, prodding away at a Macbook, her reference points are more based in New York's disco-not-disco scene, more Cristina than Baby D.

10. ...but far from always
You know something, you bands taking up big anthemic choruses, Killers synths, landfill solos and general "influences: Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Sigur Ros" fare? You won't get signed.

Tracklist: Knifeworld - Pilot Her

It's easy to believe Knifeworld founder Kavus Torabi, who launched this as a solo project before bringing five colleagues on board for their forthcoming second album, used to be guitarist in the Cardiacs. That band's spirit of psychedelic vaudeville driving post-prog-punk attitude into a ditch couldn't be better served in the wake of Tim Smith's sad health circumstances. Careering with a sense of purpose through richocheting, galloping organ and vocal harmony fragments before crashing into a shouty chorus-lite, from where a crunchy guitar sound rockets through several layers of stratosphere while trying to keep its melody earthed somehow. Then there's a carousel-like bassoon and sax breakdown. Obviously. This leads the Dear Lord, No Deal EP, out 4th July.

Knifeworld - Pilot Her by abadgeoffriendship

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tracklist: The Bookhouse Boys - With You

On their 2008 debut the Bookhouse Boys were a Sergio Leone house band, overstaffed Lynchian surf twanging menace and dual vocal battles. On June's second album Tales To Be Told it's been reined in a little but still sounds like the theme to an unmade dustbowl western noir. Paul Van Oestren and Catherine Turner wrap themselves around each other, spaghetti western brass warms up deep in the background and widescreen production do the grand dramatics proud. Someone get John Hillcoat onto it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tracklist: Best Friends - Surf Bitches

Straight outta surf city Sheffield, are Best Friends a British answer to the lo-fi surf-pop influx from America? There doesn't appear to be any mention of weed or cats, which is a very good start. There may be a few others ploughing this twangy distorted furrow, but these have the ooh-ee-ooh backing vocals, rolling drums and half-hidden carefree echoey vocals right down. Scuzziness allows too many bands to get away with too much shit in the way of lo-fi, but if Spectrals can make a proper breakthrough go of it there's no reason why this lot can't expand from these promisingly fuzzy beginnings.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tracklist: Beaty Heart - 2 Good

That all four of Peckham audio-visual collective - god, aren't they all these days - are credited with samplers and all but the vocalist with drums might be all that needs to be said in this bit, but then we'd have shortchanged you. What they do with it is career all over the shop before settling somewhere adjacent to a tropical pop bumpy path where marimba and steel drums are pitched against multitracked vocals. There's quite a bit of Animal Collective's last couple of albums (or at least when Panda Bear seizes control) in here, inevitably when you put yearning sounding and not always bound by language vocals against hallucinatory soundscaped loaded high with arrythmic percussion. They call it 'psychedelic drum pop', which is disappointingly bland self-precising for something quite so abstract.

Beaty Heart -  2 Good by i-D

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tracklist: Faster Than Robots - Only Romance

If sounds and styles could be copyrighted, Thurston and Kim would be getting on the phone to this Lowestoft trio right about now enquiring about the dissonant noise breakdowns in the middle of insistent US mid-80s underground line this follows. Sugar Kane, 100%, all those. But then Yuck have made great strides out of Anglo-Xeroxing the late 80s SST roster and Faster Than Robots, going on their Answers On A Postcard EP, don't have time for the too-cool-for-school longeurs that blight Yuck's album. Moreover this is a hell of a ride, coasting on a churning art-pop riff amidst the outbreaks of pedal abuse. It seems an album is already virtually ready. Keep an eye out.

01 Only Romance by fasterthanrobots

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A grand day out: Long Division

Spread over six locations in Wakefield, Long Division is the brainchild of ambitious promoters and fanzineists Rhubarb Bomb, whose raison d'etre is simple enough - get a load of bands they love, set up in a few gig spaces (including the cathedral) and set up a day's worth of discerning entertainment on a low-key basis so the place doesn't get flooded with day trippers. It looks like the best of the year's newcomers, and as they've tempted us up north with the power of the bill alone all credit to them.

Los Campesinos!
You know, off the advert. And so phase four of the LC! experience is underway, the band having spent last month with reliable old John Goodmanson in Catalunya recording a new album, their first in the octet line-up, as well as working further on their snail's pace but excellent Heat Rash project. Says Gareth of his new set of lyrics "I’ve been in a fairly ‘dark place’ of late... It’s great to have this new album to channel ‘my shit’ into, but in turn it’s also often difficult to want to address these things when really they’re the sort of things you’d rather move on from and deal with." Business as usual, then. Here's one of the new songs played live, just muffled enough to keep its subtleties secret for now.

The Wedding Present
As seen on Gareth's T-shirt occasionally. No new material as known about yet from David Gedge and this year's colleagues, but it marks a summer of decently busy touring after last year's 21st anniversary tours for Bizarro. Whatever, a Wedding Present gig is still a buzzing affair as large men bash into each other in front of a man who still recognises the power of a jangly guitar and a sardonic lyric.

The Wave Pictures
There's on the surface very little bother about a Wave Pictures gig - the three of them get up on stage, dip liberally into David Tattersall's ever growing back catalogue and enjoy themselves bruising everyone's hearts. Except, of course, what would be a post-Hefner literate bedsit band are lifted into something else whenever a solo settles in, particularly some of Tattersall's coruscating Neil Young-like extemporising. Also on the bill are longtime friends, recording partners and sometime backing band actors Stanley Brinks and Freschard, so they're going to have a day as busy as the 100 capacity room they're playing in. Maybe if we're fortunate they'll get Jonny to sing one.

Emmy The Great
Generally Emmy The Great gigs progress thus: a clutch of fine, astute songs, a moan about the quality of her guitar, the odd cover version, some mocking of some member of her backing band and a lot of little girl lost in her emotions. With her second album Virtue out two days later this is a good time to be catching up with an understated talent.

The Lovely Eggs
Who knows what goes on in Holly Ross and David Blackwell's collective minds. This year's second album Cob Dominos is as wide-eyed and wayward as they come, finding its metier in the conflicting areas of distorted guitar screes, twee DIY accroutrements, celebrating the mundane, swearing and a whole new dimension of quiet-loud. Imaginative, individual and completely ridiculous.

ALSO: We'd put Napoleon IIIrd among the top five without any hesitation too, except we covered him when we previewed Brainlove Festival. Darwin Deez plays, but there's plenty of good stuff. Having said that, Kate Jackson's demos so far have hovered around the ropey end, but this will be her third solo gig so we should get a better idea of whether working with Bernard Butler has turned her individual style completely to mush. Emma Pollock made a good go of going solo, maybe tips could be shared. Other picks: the now plainly named I Like Trains, The Birthday Kiss's first gig, The Wind Up Birds' satirical ire, Spectrals' surf noir, Fonda 500's oddness, noisy new wave locals Runaround Kids and toured indiepop Leodensians Just Handshakes (We're British).

Calendar: 11th June, though there are events on the 10th (free gig at The Hop headlined by Shrag) and 12th (free local bands across town)
Tickets: £12 - see website

EDIT: Quasi-review here

Tracklist: Chad Valley - Now That I'm Real (How Does It Feel)

If Blessing Force being the space-indie commune of choice these days, Hugo Manuel is its star commander. With Jonquil somehow ending up as his sideline, Manuel's solo side sets the controls for the heart of the solar system. Some may pin this to the sound of early 2010 chillwave but it's far more than that, the beachfront haze playfulness is a mere starting point for waves of subtle synth, mysterious vocal echo and insistent digital percussion including bits of steel drums before in pops Rose Dagul off Rhosyn as a counterpoint. Call it hipster electro if you really feel like it, but there's a heart beating under the machine's carapace.

Now That I'm Real (How Does It Feel) ft. Rose Dagul by chadvalley

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tracklist: Ace Bushy Striptease - Bitte Orca

Not a Dirty Projectors cover, though almost certainly named as if it were one. Birmingham's most succinct collapsible indiepoppers release fourth album The Words That You Said Are Still Wet In My Head soon, replete with some corking track titles. It sounds like every band Los Campesinos! have ever toured with played all at once and then compressed into 94 seconds of crashing and rushing. Oh yeah, and they're supporting Help Stamp Out Loneliness at one of our nights in late July.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A grand day out: Dot To Dot

The annual spring bank holiday touring show is back on the road this year, stopping off across Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester to deposit six or seven venues' worth of new, exciting or both artists. And all for £30. While there's nothing to match the no-really-what?-ness booking of Liars and Beach House together last year there's more than enough of greater interest to justify schlepping round a city centre of a valuable bank holiday day in the name of music, and here's five prime examples:

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
(Bristol 9.45pm Anson Rooms, Nottingham 9.30pm Trent Uni, Manchester not at all)
Oh yes. You forget how much they were tipped to be enormous around 2000-2001, Source Tags And Codes earning a perfect 10.0 off Pitchfork, and as much as their recent albums have become bogged down in 'experimental' longeurs Texan roughnecks AYWKUBTTOD remain a vital live band. They can hardly do otherwise, in truth, with two drumkits and up to three guitars at once rubbing up against smart prog-space-hardcore that at its most direct and thrilling could blow the top of your head off. Wonder if they can still afford to wreck the stage.

(Bristol 6.45pm Anson Rooms, Nottingham 7pm Trent Uni, Manchester 7.30pm Academy 2)
It's two and a half years since this corner of the blogosphere has seen the fight-pop emissaries live, a frankly unacceptable state of affairs. With Ross Robinson-produced second album There Is A Way on its way on 13th June the second drumkit has been ditched, good news for the band's personal space while in their Transit but potentially leaving a big gap where the pummelling used to be. No matter, with John Baillie Jnr upgraded to co-singer the extraordinary ADHD energy, fun and level of ideas, both musically and what to do during the gaps, they exert will remain at high levels. DO A WALL OF CUDDLES.

(Bristol 5.30pm Cooler, Nottingham 7.30pm Trent Uni Pulse, Manchester 8.45pm Deaf Institute)
Now this could be something. Last year in that Trent Uni bar alcove we saw Islet blow many away with a unique staging, and this year's odd undercard show could come from the Oklahoma psych-fuzz outfit whose album My ____ Is Pink - no, that's what it's called - is one of our unsung records of the year so far. Reports of the live show involve matching boiler suits, streamers, interactivity, volume and some tremendous facial hair.

(Bristol 6.15pm Academy 2, Nottingham 11pm Bodega, Manchester 7.30pm Academy 3)
We think we've described both of the Oxford not-members-of-Blessing Force-any-more-thank-you-very-much collective's first two singles as Brian Wilson meets Animal Collective. You get the idea, anyway - sunshine harmonies, tornado stacks of psychedelic noise with dreamlike electronics and pop melodies both going on underneath. They can carry it off live without dropping off either.

(Bristol Louisiana 10.15pm, Nottingham midnight Bodega, Manchester 8pm Club Academy)
And here's your wild card. Still pretty much an unknown live quantity, such was the pace of their blog frenzy, Madeline and Brian plus friends are by some early accounts still working towards a unified method of transposing their giving a kick up the backside to 60s flowery pop to the stage. Mind you, they played ten times at SXSW so if they haven't got it together by now...

ALSO: Well, loads, so quickly through the top and best of the rest. De facto headliners are Hurts, bringing the poker faced Go West synths to a party also crashed by laff-riot power popists We Are Scientists, sunshine indie-pop irritant Darwin Deez (Manchester only) and the hopefully still far freer and more inventive live than on increasingly dragging record Guillemots. Also in prime positions The Joy Formidable bring the surprisingly loud and wayward in a good way live show, as exemplified by their performance on Conan O'Brien's show last week, in particular the noise-out ending:

Some other featured artists, quickly: Blessing Force math-disco brainiacs Trophy Wife, bank robber-masked synth-pop freewheelers Is Tropical, tightly strung power-folk-grungers Stagecoach, beatific nightmare pop fuel Braids, intriguing folkie Benjamin Francis Leftwich, blog-goth witchery Niki & the Dove, Bella Union-signed spectral slowcore duo Lanterns On The Lake (Nottingham and Manchester only), gently futuristic psych-pop Hot Horizons and nu-shoegaze far better than most Spotlight Kid (Nottingham only).

Calendar: Bristol 28th May, Nottingham 29th May, Manchester 30th May
Tickets: £30 through alt-tickets

Tracklist: Diagrams - Antelope

Diagrams, for in this case it is a he (and this used to say who he was, as it did in the original press release, but apparently now it's an enigma) definitely sounds a lot like someone specifically. Jona Lewie, maybe, but that's not exactly right. Anyway, his command of sunshine pop being driven down a private road at night while tied up and blindfolded in the boot is sumptuous, not too far from Gruff Rhys or Sean O'Hagan's explorations into tropicalia flavoured pastorialisms. There's quite a bit of this acute psychedelic pop going round Britain at the moment, and the more of it that's this standard the better.

Diagrams 'Antelope' by diagrams

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tracklist: Shy And The Fight - All That We See Or Seem

Another example of what a band did next after having a track on the STN compilation. Actually, technically it's what they did before, as Chester's positive folk collective have put out a free five track download of songs they didn't have anything else to do with. This track, which has as far as we can tell mutated into a song called Dream Within A Dream which is in their current set, comes across as a junior Leisure Society (whose new album is well worth the effort, by the way), a classic acoustic pop melody with little need of adding to lest it spoil the mood, but they do anyway and when a sunrise is evoked amid much darker intentions with the help of massed backing vocals and spare glockenspiel it seems entirely fitting the mood.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tracklist: Maybeshewill - Red Paper Lanterns

What we like about Maybeshewill, and what has led us to highlight a track from their forthcoming third album (I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone, out May 30th), is they don't overcomplicate things with twiddliness. Instead they'll dig out a full series of riffs that reach out for the sky while everything around the guitars, chiefly aereated synth noises, drives on their jackhammer nature, as much indebted to math as the ever present in such instrumental rock Explosions In The Sky elements. That they manage all that here, ending on looped fucked up beats and processed feedback, with the aid of twinkly glockenspiel too is quite something. Pretty and damaging at the same time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tracklist: Pris - The Better You Look The More You See

A nearly all-girl outfit who like a trashy, pouty three minute guitar-pop glam racket, marinade themselves in eyeliner, mascara, vodka and fag smoke, fire off pithy critiques of other bands with caps lock on and quote Bret Easton Ellis in a song title. Yes, Nicky Wire is a fan, why do you ask? No word on whether they favour the feather boa, but we haven't had a band like this for a long time. More Waitresses than Shampoo, they know what they're doing and have the nous to know the smartness behind playing quasi-dumb, smuggling smartly expressed feelings behind the snottiness and the "yeah yeah yeah!"s. They're the first band we've ever seen to cite Birdland as an influence. This will be their first single out some time soon and they have some London dates impending (1st June Buffalo Bar, 17th June Garage, 6th July Dublin Castle, 21st July Water Rats, 26th July Monarch). Best get on it.

Pris - The Better You Look The More You See. by Somethingfortheweekend

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tracklist: King Post Kitsch - Don't You Touch My Fucking Honeytone

That lyric doesn't actually turn up in the song, excellently. As yesterday this is new material from someone who appears on We Make Our Own Mythologies, a new name to the Song, By Toad marque of quality and distinction. Out this week on coloured 7", it utilises a scrappy amp in the name of a West Coast garage rock'n'roll riff, an earworm of a melody and a whole lot of obliquely personal words.

King Post Kitsch - Don't You Touch My Fucking Honeytone by Song, by Toad

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tracklist: Under Alien Skies - Cedar

We donated the first lump sum, £170, accrued from our compilation We Make Our Own Mythologies the other day - a huge thank you to everyone who's bought the album so far. That of course is still very much available, 20 STN favourites for at least £3, all proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support. One of those represented, Under Alien Skies, have unveiled a new track from their currently WIP third EP and it's the usual stew of post-AnCo unsettled dreaminess. This time things seeming a little clearer, if you can say that about all the ideas the duo clearly continue to harbour, as alternately skylarking and grumbling synths give way to hazed out, hypnotic majestic skimming across a landscape of broken beats, chilled out nearly shoegaze layers and an underpinning folkish sensibility. The usual, then.

cedar by underalienskies

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tracklist: Bastardgeist - COPS

What a great uncouth name. This latest addition to the Brainlove travelling carney show is Joel Midden of Chicago, whose work throws together samples, odd polyrhythmic percussion, processed vocals and, as his primary weapon of choice, kalimba. On this cut from an album released here on the 30th the African thumb piano is pressed into tinkly, starry, musical box-type loops as above it things go not unlike TV On The Radio in the barber shop harmonies at multiple octaves over undulating carefully outlain atmospheric obliqueness. Midden is in the country from Sunday, where he's at the Norwich Playhouse Bar, before moving on to Cardiff on Monday 23rd (with Chris T-T and Pagan Wanderer Lu, which sounds like a fine night out), Oxford Wednesday, Newcastle Thursday, Leeds Friday and that BRNLV Festival we mentioned yesterday on Saturday.

Bastardgeist - COPS (Brainlove Records) by brainlove

Monday, May 16, 2011

A grand day out: Brainlove Festival

So to the first in an occasional series this spring not quite summer. We know some people don't have the staying power or will to sleep on soil (and that's just those booked into Travelodges, ho ho) to do festivals, and we're aware that a lot of people don't find multi-venue city roustelays of the Camden Crawl/Great Escape type agreeing with them as they can only get normal wristbands and hence get crowded out of all venues below O2 size by A&Rs. Instead, let us recommend festivals that take place in one or two days and have full knowledge of onions when it comes to booking policy.

Over the six years we've been doing this you may just have become aware of our pervading love of 90% of the output of Brainlove Records, home to electronic effects box-toting DIY waifs and strays and marshalled by the keen ears of man of strength and beard John Brainlove. His annual general meeting is Brainlove Festival, every spring bank holiday weekend at the Brixton Windmill, and this year's crop provides particularly fine fare. Some choice cuts...

This year's headliners have had a lineup rejig of late and the demo we've heard suggests something if not thrashier then certainly a greater barrage of sound, somewhere more straight-up anguished. That stated All Creatures Will Make Merry wasn't our number three album of 2010 out of mere loyalty to Song, By Toad's consistently great output and that album's sense of space and time, not to mention extravagantly gifted songwriting and Neil Pennycook's hoarse bellow, carried through to their live work.

Napoleon IIIrd
From 2010's number three to 2010's number four. More directly this time, as James Mabbett and his recently acquired band will be playing the whole of Christiania with ace video/animation wrangler Broxen Pixel VJing behind him.

Pagan Wanderer Lu
We thought Andy Regan, ten years in, had gone on hiatus at the end of last year - in fact there were murmurings that he was considering giving up the PWL handle. In fact it turns out he's been quietly making a new album and he'll be playing chunks of it for the first time (including, if we're reading this correctly, debuting the songs to his own label boss) as well as whatever you fancy from his intelligently cracked back catalogue.

Mat Rivere
When we put on the Brainlove tour in October Riviere spent the whole set on his knees fiddling with various effects and noise boxes and took up the rest of the time watching The Room. That combined about sums his approach up, and here he'll be collaborating with cellist Oliver Barrett of Bleeding Heart Narrative.

Bear Driver
The Leeds outfit have been there or thereabouts for two or three years now but it's only in the second half of 2010 that they began really showing what they're capable of. What that is is a sound influenced by the underground US all-stars (Broken Social Scene, Pavement, Grandaddy, NMH) but with their own exuberance and way with a warped melody.

ALSO: Chicago kalimba viruoso and drone-psych exponent Bastargeist, of whom more tomorrow; industrial Dadaist but largely unclassifiable septet Kreatiivmootor; fellow Estonian lo-fi loop guru Multiphonic Rodent; electronic post-punks Patterns; Norwich duo about whom we can tell you nothing else Octagon Court; intimate Song, By Toad folkie Rob St John; Tom Milsom, Snorri Helgason, Tawny Owl and an as yet unnamed outdoor headliner TBA on the 21st. Plus DJ sets from acclaimed Italo-odd remixer to the micro-stars Dreamtrak, Matthew off Song By Toad and Brainlove himself.

Calendar: 28th-29th May, Brixton Windmill
Tickets: A tenner through Musicglue or Gigantic

Tracklist: Tall Ships - Hit The Floor

So angular it's actively impressionistic math-pop is the universal currency, it seems. Now Falmouth has a fine exponent of its own, one Big Scary Monsters are looking after at that. Fed through with the sort of guitars that deviate just when you think you've got the mark of them, they're as frantic and hyper as they are technically gifted after a Dananananaykroyd style with the fightiness thoroughly cut up and uncarefully rearranged. The ever spiralling and crescendoing tightly coiled riffs that pile on top of what most bands would call a middle eight and continuing into the conclusive rush as if they were the most natural motif sounds like tossing off what would be the life's work of many a lesser band.

Hit The Floor by Tall Ships

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tracklist: Rubik - World Around You

A quicker than most reappearance for the Finns and a stylistic volte-face to match. Where Laws Of Gravity, Tracklisted just under a month ago, could have been a British Electric Foundation outlet, this has driving keyboards underneath but builds its castles on full steam ahead drumming and a dark-in-the-light notion Ben Gibbard, in both his guises, would not appreciatively at. Apparently the album this is from, Solar, went top of their domestic charts. Scandinavia. They do things very differently there.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

But if you want to see some more...

The third and last of this week's top 40s with Eurovision hits atop, and before the listing starts here's a clip on the history of our sceptred isle's success from a 2008 German TV documentary:

This one comes from 18th April 1981, a chart that featured the coming force of Stars On 45 at, erm, 45, the Exploited at 63 and somewhere in the middle (48) My Mum Is One In A Million by Children Of Tansley School. Truly an eclectic age.

40 Department S - Is Vic There?
The mood is mellow? Superior careening new wave with sideways mike holding frontman Vaughan Toulouse, which is really going the long way round in search of the pun.

39 Quincy Jones - Ai No Corrida
Disco soul evergreen co-written and originally recorded by Chas Jankel during one of the periods when he took a break from being Ian Dury's sounding board/punchbag.

38 Dire Straits - Skateaway
A song about watching a girl rollerskate down the road. And that's it. Nobody said serious rock had to be about anything.

37 Echo & The Bunnymen - Crocodiles
The future Electrafixion get to the section labelled 'cool psychedelia (fast)'.

36 David Bowie - Up The Hill Backwards
That difficult moment when Bowie came out the other end of Scary Monsters and had to face up to what his 80s promised.

35 Light Of The World - I'm So Happy/Time
You'd think for all the world this was some religious thing, wouldn't you? Instead it's jazz funk plus a pretend Love Unlimited Orchestra.

34 Roxy Music - Jealous Guy
Mackay and Manzanera were still around but it's hard not to hear this vaguely opportunistic whistle solo-granted emotional sledgehammer and wonder if Bryan hadn't long decided to take it only in his image.

33 Girlschool - Hit And Run
The only top 40 appearance for the post-Leather Tuscadero female element of NWOBHM, they're said to be given their Motorhead connections, though here they appear to be channelling the Go-Gos fronted by Joan Jett.

32 Shalamar - Make That Move
Bodypopping Soul Train disco famous not for the moonwalk, because you have to keep being told Jeffrey Daniel invented that (eh, Jarvis 'I love Michael Jackson really, he invented the moonwalk so he can't be that bad' Cocker?), but for Howard Hewett being the subject of an unprovoked assault.

31 Adam & The Ants - Kings Of The Wild Frontier
A quick reissue of their flop post-reformation debut to fill a six month gap between Young Parisians and that whole highwayman thing. This way round it makes more sense, though, as once you've established Antmusic the ant people and their attendant ambitions would follow.

30 John Lennon - Watching The Wheels
Still dead - in fact, this is the song Mark Chapman was recorded singing while in custody. It didn't get higher than this either, suggesting as much as the legend lives on the record buyers sharply move away.

29 Whitesnake - Don't Break My Heart Again
Coverdale assumes the position.

28 Eddy Grant - Can't Get Enough Of You
Before his socio-political phase, and well before remixers and yoghurt corrupted that bit too.

27 Kool And The Gang - Jones Vs Jones/Summer Madness/Funky Stuff
Some dispute in the camp, we feel.

26 Barry Manilow - Bermuda Triangle
Try to see it from his angle. The Bermuda triangle is one of those legendary things that people always used to talk about as a classic old wives' tale, but we bet kids of today have never come across it. In any case the last such mythologised disappearance happened in 1963 and that was outside the zone.

25 Keith Marshall - Only Crying
Formerly of glam also-rans Hello, now attempting a Cliff Richard goes wet glam schtick.

24 Public Image Limited - Flowers Of Romance
Whether through post-Pistols residuals or a craving for really dark awkwardness PiL stuck around in chart contention for a couple of years. Flowers Of Romance is also the title of a Pistols obscurity and a 1976-77 band Sid Vicious, Keith Levene, Marco Pirroni and two of the Slits had variously been in.

23 Duran Duran - Planet Earth
No sooner had a nation gone "oh, hard Rs?" then guyliner and big frilly shirts were becoming the in thing.

22 Coast To Coast - (Do) The Hucklebuck
Novelty rockabilly revival, that's what 2012 needs. These changed their singer between recording and promotion.

21 Visage - Mind Of A Toy
Second of five charting singles, not bad for a blown up cloakroom boy. Dave Formula, also of Magazine, is on synths, which we mention because we love the glam-bluntness of that name. Dave Formula.

20 Gillan - New Orleans

19 Saxon - And The Band Played On
Much bigger than you'd thought, the whole NWOBHM thing.

18 Spandau Ballet - Musclebound
No, homoeroticism hadn't been invented yet and the Spands were too suave-manly for that anyway. Between To Cut A Long Story Short and Chant No.1 this often gets overlooked but that rhythm track just reeks of gulag.

17 Tony Capstick And The Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band - Capstick Comes Home/The Sheffield Grinder
Surely Capstick can't have been first to take the piss out of the Hovis adverts, but he was the only one to take it - produced, incidentally, by John Leonard, now producer of Radcliffe & Maconie - to number three. Number three! Imagine if he'd released it a bit later and it'd been vying in the charts to sum up the mood of the nation with Ghost Town.

16 Toyah - Four From Toyah EP
Bluntly titled. It's the one with It's A Mystery on.

15 Bad Manners - Just A Feeling
Actually, for two of Ghost Town's summer-of-riots three weeks at number one immediately below it were Stars On 45 and Bad Manners' Can Can, so it wouldn't have been that out of place at all. This is the usual skanking'n'shouting.

14 The Nolans - Attention To Me
For some reason, as nobody's ever really demanded a Nolans reunion, the four of them have a joint autobiography out. The extracts we've found are an extraordinary hodge-podge of self-regarding carefully smoothed out aimless anecdotage. One story is based around touring South Africa in 1977 with Rolf Harris and the man Bernie calls Stu 'Stewpot' Francis - no, Bernie, that's Ed Stewart - in which the apartheid blockade is given half a sentence of consideration in passing amid descriptions of the scenery and meeting Tom Jones. Why, given most of them have had books out already, would you ever read this? Much as This Morning would give them the soft soap, we managed pretty well without them for two decades.

13 Dave Stewart With Colin Blunstone - What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted
No, the It's My Party Dave Stewart. You should have guessed from the cover material.

12 Hazel O'Connor - D-Days
Supposedly about meeting "bizarre" looking people in a nightclub. By later this same year that would be the norm.

11 Kim Wilde - Kids In America
Kim Smith takes the family stage name, gets a pout going and makes her name first time out. Much covered, never bettering the original, not even when Kim did it herself in 2006 with frankly superfluous co-vocals by Charlotte Hatherley. It's vertical stripes that make a woman look thinner, isn't it?

10 Linx - Intuition
A typically British early 80s funk band, that is to say one white bloke looking askance at the back and a lead member in glasses. In the latter case it was David Grant, later to marry a woman called Carrie without thinking through the implications.

9 The Whispers - It's A Love Thing
The wristy guitar lick type of soul crossover, the sort of thing that clearly influenced the likes of Linx and survived right until Boyz II Men beat it to death with shovels.

8 The Jacksons - Can You Feel It
And their magic dust will heal humanity the world over. God's sake, don't give Michael ideas. Ollie E. Brown, the Clem Cattini of soul, is on this.

7 Sugar Minott - Good Thing Going
Former roots selector gives in to the lovers rock dollar and ends up being covered by Sid Owen. It's alright, Sid Owen has probably forgotten he tried a solo career.

6 Graham Bonnet - Night Games
None more regional ITV news named former Rainbow member goes against the metal grain with some unsubtle grandstanding, aided by Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Cozy Powell and Jon Lord in his band. If you've heard this oversung production number in the last fifteen years it's in passing on a TV advertised, phone order only drivetime rock compilation just before Survivor's Burning Heart.

5 Landscape - Einstein A-Go-Go
Electric flute attack! What a bizarre record this is, even by 1981 standards. It's the band scenes in the video after they get out of the laboratory that reveal its full oddity hand.

4 Ennio Morricone - Chi Mai (Theme From 'Life And Times Of David Lloyd George')
You'd never get a series called Life And Times Of David Lloyd George on BBC1 now, much less one starring someone like Philip Madoc, who you'll know as the U-boat captain Pike is ordered not to give his name to. This you've probably heard on an advert of some description.

3 Stevie Wonder - Lately
The first of Stevie's really big piano ballads, a path that could only lead to singing into telephones.

2 Shakin' Stevens - This Ole House
Not many of his big hits were originals, you know. This one had been around since 1954 and Americans would know the Rosemary Clooney version. As long as he had the opportunity to jump off something in the video, that's all.

1 Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up
And would it have been up there, chat show anecdotage aside, without the velcro fun? It's the Eurovision winner with the fewest number of douze points ever, though that does mean everyone else voted for it somewhere for once. Second was Germany's entry, about a blind boy taunted by his young peers who becomes a popular singer-songwriter encouraging others to overcome their problems. Meanwhile Norway's entry was produced and arranged by Benny Andersson with Agnetha and Anni-Frid on backing vocals. It received nul points. They don't mention that on all those ITV documentaries. There is actually a video for Making Your Mind Up, but like that Save Your Kisses For Me clip that was on a BBC4 TOTP recently it only fitfully remembers there's supposed to be a song involved somewhere.

Tracklist: Howard Hughes & David Tattersall - He Can See Her

Another week, another David Tattersall project. Actually that's slightly unfair, as far as we know he's so far kept it to the Wave Pictures' own album and this forthcoming Where It's At Is Where You Are album The Lobster Boat, a collaboration with Howard Hughes of French fellow travellers Coming Soon. It pretty much sounds Wave Picturesy, though, at least If You Leave It Alone in its spare arrangement, with its attendant wordy shuffle, brief guitar solo and references to Midlands life and the longing for unrequited love.

Howard Hughes & David Tattersall - He Can See Her by wiaiwya

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tracklist: Fair Ohs - Everything Is Dancing

Bringing a little African hi-life sunshine to grotty east London basements for at least two years now, Fair Ohs have an album that shares this track's title out on 6th June. As tropical as they get, while the drums undulate and the rhythm section have a private dance-off the guitars are tuned to somewhere between sitar effects and the kind of circular rapidity Kenyan 'kamba' the band's Eddy Frankel is releasing on his Dream Beach label via Moshi Moshi's expense account. There are, of course, also handclaps.

Everything Is Dancing by fairohs

Everything Is Dancing from Fair Ohs on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tracklist: Wartgore Hellsnicker - C+F=POW

The extraordinarily named Wartgore Hellsnicker, on a freedom ride from nowhere city Watford, are the next in Audio Antihero's series of EPs, all of them really quite different and unique so far. Alright, 'unique' in the stylistic sense might be pushing it here, the label calling it a "loveletter to Sub Pop 1988" for its centrifuge of pummelling riffs, charging purpose where there might otherwise be none and brass-bound edge of madness. Nowhere outside Mike Patton's nightmares do you usually hear gypsy folk trombone amid crashing distorted guitar waves, and the junkshop chorus at the end is quite something.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Man's inhumanity to Man

Eurovision old chart number two is from 27th March 1976, and as that's the week before this run of Top Of The Pops on BBC4 started you can guess what's number one, but even so...

40 Gary Glitter - You Belong To Me
With the BBC4 run in mind, sniggering ironists please note that this was Glitter's only hit that year and it didn't get any higher than this. We, meanwhile, wonder what the story is with number 41, La Booga Rooga by Surprise Sisters. What, like on Surprise Surprise?

39 The Doors - Riders On The Storm
In fact the breakout hit thus far, Fox's Goldacre-surprising S-S-S-Single Bed, was played as a potential chart hit, their previous two singles having gone top 20 (in fact the first, Only You Can, got as high as number three, higher than this one managed, yet there being no room for your sweet head is the only Fox record anyone remembers) and didn't reach its height until mid-May. Meanwhile there seems to have been no reason at all for this to be reissued five years after original release - no tie-in best of, no film use, no rejuvenation of the band's legend, and it didn't even achieve the peak of original issue.

38 Rainbow Cottage - Seagull
What a horrible band name, redolent of no musical scene but of restored B&Bs run by retired accountants.

37 Chris White - Spanish Wine
"Not the one from the Zombies" is about the best the online sources can muster.

36 Mary Hopkin - If You Love Me
Fascinating character, Hopkin. Set for big things with Paul McCartney's backing, after Apple fell apart she withdrew from the front line of music to start a family with Tony Visconti but continued to sing backing for him - that's her on Bowie's Sound And Vision, for instance - and returned only here for a guest appearance on a Steeleye Span album and a solitary charting single, an Edith Piaf cover at that. She was in a band called Oasis, sang on the soundtrack of Blade Runner and with the Chieftans, recorded a light classical album in 1989, did the theme for a Billy Connolly series, guested with the Crocketts and "re-recorded Those Were The Days with Robin Williams rapping", and we never want to find out more about that.

35 Dana - Never Gonna Fall In Love Again
Hopkin entered the 1970 Eurovision that Dana won. Five years later Dana was named Best Female Singer In Britain by an NME for which punk well and truly hadn't happened.

34 Pluto Shervington - DAT
Would've been quite disappointing if he turned out to be from Cheshire, wouldn't it? It's a song about a Rasta who loves pork too much and may be the sort of reggae Paul Nicholas had in mind.

33 The O'Jays - I Love Music
It's actually quite difficult to write about soul in this ironic detached style, partly because 90% of the bands have the same backstory - from the eastern seaboard, had someone you've vaguely heard of writing songs for them, had three US R&B Chart hits, still touring with one original member. In this case it's Ohioans taking a turn for the disco with a Gamble and Huff song and they have two original members.

32 Emmylou Harris - Here There And Everywhere
A McCartney song - one John, Paul and George Martin all call one of their very favourite Beatles songs, in fact - given the delicacy treatment.

31 Status Quo - Rain
Twelve bar blues stomp with pouting, as per. But with Rick singing! We can never decide which of Rossi and Parfitt is the more oleaginous.

30 Hot Chocolate - Don't Stop It Now
We feel like we've been writing about Hot Chocolate for most of our lives, and the truth is there is next to nothing interesting about them when it's not one of the songs everybody knows.

29 Harold Melvin And The Bluenotes - Wake Up Everybody
Not a title you can really announce straight after playing someone else's record.

28 The Stylistics - Funky Weekend
The weekdays are just collective letdowns, really.

27 Hank Mizell - Jungle Rock
Intriguing story, Hank's - this was recorded in 1958 and only rediscovered in 1971 when it appeared on a bootleg rockabilly compilation. By that time Mizell had retired and when a label boss heard the album and decided to give it a shot he couldn't be found for weeks. The Fall covered it in the way that the Fall generally do. As we've been saying for weeks in another place, this - the costumes, the facial expressions, the set - is one of humanity's greater achievements. Fox, rabbit, camel and kangaroo in a jungle, Hank?

26 Yvonne Fair - It Should Have Been Me
Perhaps the greatest insult to a Motown African-American and Norman Whitfield protege is to have people on hen nights thinking you're Tina Turner.

25 Manuel And The Music Of The Mountains - Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto De Aranjuez
Actually Max Bygraves' bandleader Geoff Love with one of a number of easy listening cash-ins that predated the John Williams reign, and a track that in February was announced as the new number one before it was realised a computer error had taken hold and it should have been number three. You don't get that with iTunes. Though one day you will. Perhaps even now.

24 David Essex - City Lights
In which David gets the funk and makes the girls, erm, quizzical?

23 Be-Bop Deluxe - Ships In The Night
Reticent guitar hero Bill Nelson and co take a moment out of taking glam in prog directions to attempt a head-on collision between glam stomp, Eno art-rock weirdness and arena keyboard stack indulgence. That got them on pop


22 Peters And Lee - Hey Mr Music Man
A lot of artists requesting specific heys off people in those days.

21 Elton John - Pinball Wizard
He plays by sense of smell, apparently. Has Elton been in many amusement arcades? Tommy would have tried to flee the building due to the acridity.

20 Eddie Drennon And BBS Unlimited - Let's Do The Latin Hustle
Hustling, as we'll see, was very much the in thing.

19 The Drifters - Hello Happiness
It's a four-four beat, it shouldn't be that difficult to clap along to.

18 10cc - I'm Mandy Fly Me
The great subtle satirists of adult pop bid their farewell as a four-piece with a song about dreaming of getting off with an air hostess from an advert poster, Godley and Creme off after this album campaign to invent morphing. With Kevin and Lol, Art For Art's Sake. Without, Dreadlock Holiday.

17 The Four Seasons - December 1963 (Oh What A Night)
Written about the end of prohibition, allegedly, and Frankie Valli's last song with some sort of lead vocal. Given it was his name above the door that was bound to end badly.

16 M And O Band - Let's Do The Latin Hustle
Van McCoy's The Hustle had been number one the previous June, see, and everyone fancied a piece of that flute-driven library music made good. And yes, this is the same song as number 20.

15 Cliff Richard - Miss You Nights
Cliff's revival hit after a barren couple of years, from an album with the he'd-like-to-think-self-deprecating title I'm Nearly Famous. This was subsequently what nearly everything he released in the 1980s would sound like, bar Wired For Sound and I Just Don't Have The Heart.

14 The Fatback Band - (Do The) Spanish Hustle
Not the same, and not much to do with any previous hustling at all, in fact. There was a UK Hustle, by the way. With that innate sense of British timing, it came out in 1978.

13 John Miles - Music
Four people are John Miles, if his TOTP countdown picture is to be believed. Not keen on music of the present, is he/are they?

12 The Eagles - Take It To The Limit
Randy Meisner gets his way.

11 Randy Edelman - Concrete And Clay
Film and TV score composer has a dig with Unit 4+2's 1965 number one, later the single from Kevin Rowland's infamous My Beauty (an album, by the way, that got four and five stars across the board on release)

10 The Beatles - Yesterday
Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, Daffy Duck.

9 Marmalade - Falling Apart At The Seams
Having kind of kicked around pop for a decade, having a number one with a cover of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, they split, reformed with one original member (the bassist) and had a top ten single out of nowhere that sounded like Bay City Rollers without the commitment.

8 CW McCall - Convoy
Nothing says mid-70s like a hit based on a fad rather than vice versa. CW McCall was a character that appeared in a series of bread adverts like this, where an assumed tobacco-chewing truck driver narrated his fresh bread-punctuated day. Those were written and sung by one Bill Fries, and when the opportunity for a spinoff came up he took it in a way late 80s Levis copywriters can only wonder at. And in 1978 a

film based on the flimsy premised song! Laurie Lingo And The Dipsticks' Convoy GB was a month away, and that's a whole other world of pain.

7 Gallagher And Lyle - I Wanna Stay With You
They were Scottish, they weren't golfers, they were very supper club.

6 Guys 'n' Dolls - You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
Dusty's signature hit ridden roughshod by six people in jumpsuits, two of whom became Dollar.

5 Glitter Band - People Like You People Like Me
Nothing much really changed chart-wise in two years, did it? More silver trousered wateryness.

4 Barry White - You See The Trouble With Me
Baritone disco-lite later embuggered by Black Legend.

3 Tina Charles - I Love To Love
Do you think she quite emphasises the baby dance loving enough?

2 Billy Ocean - Love Really Hurts Without You
First single straight up there for well meaning disco yearner who would after the following year go seven years without a hit before catching onto the wine bar funk wave. You don't reckon Frank Ocean's name is a reference, do you?

1 Brotherhood Of Man - Save Your Kisses For Me
As previously mentioned an entirely different line-up to that which launched the band seven years earlier, they beat Tony Christie and Frank Ifield to the UK nominacy and then essentially pissed it on the night in The Hague. Note the tremendous behind-you reaction of the females and Bill 'no, he isn't, despite what Wiki says and much as you might like to believe she is' Cotton lurking at the back. Sweden withdrew due to expense and the demonstrations of the previous year, Turkey withdrew when Greece put forward a song about the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, and Save Your Kisses For Me won a record percentage of the possible maximum score and had the worldwide biggest sales of a winner. And despite all that, given what you know about STN, which version were we likely to post here? Also, don't some people just suit longer hair?

Tracklist: Everyone To The Anderson - So You're Saying There's A Chance?

That they've supported Biffy Clyro, Micachu & The Shapes, Rolo Tomassi, Esben & the Witch and Blood Red Shoes suggests nobody quite knows how to categorise Brighton's Everyone To The Anderson. Their shifting structures and stop-start riffage certainly places them in a Chicago math/Dischord Records severity lineage, but you can equally see Steve Albini or Ian Mackaye marshalling something this tightly sprung with that thick a bass sound. Apparently the album, The Man Born From Inside Of A Horse, released 13th June, is often different again.

Everyone To The Anderson - So You're Saying There's A Chance by Undress To Win Press

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quarante points

A new topical tack this week for our old top 40 exhumations, as we take three classic Eurovision winners in the week they each went to number one, starting with the biggest of all, announced on 27th April 1974:

40 Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were
Well, this song only means one thing.

Edited, says our man in the know, by Ray Stubbs. Splendidly, following it in that clip is more Mountjoyalia, all but the first few seconds of the great forgotten BBC-promoted sports song of the 1980s, Jed Ford's Boss O' The Black. Yes, TV snooker is a hell of a game alright.

39 Paper Lace - The Night Chicago Died
We'll come back to Paper Lace because we have to note that entering the top 50 at 48 is Sparks' This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us. Because it seems to have been lost we can't work out when it was that the famed first Ron Mael glowering at the kids appearance was, but it may well have been the following week for reasons we'll again come back to and because the week after that it rocketed up into the top ten.

38 Status Quo - Break The Rules
Except in the sound, obviously.

37 Ragtimers - The Sting
A cover of Scott Joplin's The Entertainer renamed after the previous year's film in which it was the main theme. We'll come back to this.

36 Queen - Seven Seas Of Rhye
Second single, first hit (it'd been number ten four weeks earlier) and all sorts of motifs that would carry many a lesser band through a career, from piano intro to May solo. Of course it's a key location in We Will Rock You.

35 The Carpenters - Jambalaya
My lord, Jambalaya?

34 Charlie Rich - The Most Beautiful Girl
Former Sun Records hack finds paydirt in country and western balladry. This had been to number two in one of country's sole representative concerted attempts at commercially breaking the UK, something that happens every few years, most recently with Leann Rimes and before her Shania Twain.

33 The Intruders - I'll Always Love My Mama
Gamble & Huff also-rans refer to their mothers as "my baby girl", disturbingly. Disco soul's own No Charge.

32 Harold Melvin And The Bluenotes - Satisfaction Guaranteed
Jumpsuited Philly soul kingpins for whom Harold Melvin was very much their Kool, ie he may have got his name above the shop front but no way was he the lead member.

31 Paper Lace - Billy Don't Be A Hero
"Opportunity Knocks was pretty much the 70s version of The X-Factor" says their Wiki. Oh, Wiki. Without a Kasabian or White Town to call their own Nottingham, despite all its venues, is somewhat lagging in the East Midlands pages of the pop gazetter - Corinne Drewery from Swing Out Sister, one of Deep Purple, one of Editors, one of the Stereo MCs, and then you're down to the very much cult concerns (Tindersticks, say). So at the top end you're left with this American Civil War death reveille that someone else actually took to number one in America.

30 The Wombles - The Wombling Song
The series started the previous year but the musical career only took off once Bernard Cribbins had dragged Mike Batt dressed as Orinoco onstage on Cilla Black's show. The series and pop career weren't thought of simultaneously, the latter was Batt's own idea, securing character rights in exchange for a flat fee for the theme. Their first album was given two stars by Rolling Stone, something to which the only reaction can be "Rolling Stone reviewed a Wombles record? Really? Why? Did they also review the Goodies and Rock Follies?"

29 MFSB - TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)

28 Jim Stafford - Spiders And Snakes
No idea what the titular creatures have to do with the rest of the song.

27 The Rubettes - Sugar Baby Love
So what happened was This Town Ain't Big Enough... entered the top 50 and was gaining lots of interest so they were called up for TOTP, but it was only when they got there that the producer realised they were American and thus were missing Musician's Union papers. An emergency call went out to the Rubettes, for whom this was the becapped doo-wop chancers' chart debut week, and such was their impact that this climbed 25 places the following week and another one the week after that. And by that time, Sparks were at number two because of their own TOTP watercooler moment before watercoolers existed. Thems the breaks.

26 Genesis - I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
Peter Gabriel is a very serious man, of course. Note Phil in his overalls.

25 Marvin Hamlisch - The Entertainer
Oh, that a film soundtrack could have such power today. And what sport did it come to be associated with in BBC montage form?

24 The Osmonds - I Can't Stop
Classic Sugar Sugar-style bubblegum pop slightly analogous to two years previously's Crazy Horses, largely because it was originally released in 1967.

23 David Bowie - Rock And Roll Suicide
The last song he'd ever do, he told Hammersmith Apollo. He's never apologised. And yes, you're right, that gig had been in July 1973, and apart from the money making opportunities nobody really knows why this got the very late single treatment, especially given Diamond Dogs was only six weeks away.

22 Mott The Hoople - Golden Age Of Rock And Roll
A lot of looking backwards in Mott songs, isn't there?

21 Charlie Rich - Behind Closed Doors
Engelbert's The Last Waltz with twanging, essentially.

20 Gary Glitter - Remember Me This Way
He must have recorded something that can't be reappropriated.

19 Bill Haley And His Comets - Rock Around The Clock
Somewhat left behind these days when the roots of rock'n'roll are discussed, the Jive Bunny favourite marshalled his Comets (and that is His Comets, rather than The Comets) into Blackboard Jungle seat-ripping jive frenzy. Did you know Haley re-recorded it for the opening theme of the first two series of Happy Days? Puts that Only Fools And Horses switcheroo into perspective.

18 Hot Chocolate - Emma
Errol Brown is an MBE for services to popular music. And you thought June Sarpong MBE was winging it.

17 Stevie Wonder - He's Misstra Know-It-All
Internet says this was used in a Dunlop advert, possibly the same one that also went with You're So Vain where a man gets dressed to the nines without stopping to put trousers on. This was very much the milieu of 1991-92 advertising, embarrassing sub-Milk Tray men.

16 The Three Degrees - Year Of Decision
It would have been around this time that the girl group who just forgot to stop became Prince Charles' favourites. Tis but a short hop from there to Ellie Goulding, it seems.

15 Little Jimmy Osmond - I'm Gonna Knock On Your Door
His third hit at still not eleven years old, which makes you wonder what the subtext here was supposed to be.

14 Mungo Jerry - Long Legged Woman Dressed In Black
Ray Dorset attempts to take on Thin Lizzy, ends up nearer Showaddywaddy.

13 Slade - Everyday
A plodding piano ballad. Noddy still bellows the chorus, of course. It doesn't become Dave Hill's outfit for once.

12 Bay City Rollers - Shang-A-Lang
Running with the gang, all that.

11 Peters And Lee - Don't Stay Away Too Long
Their biggest hit since Welcome Home, which surely cancels this title out.

10 Glitter Band - Angel Face
Gary Glitter, he's a bad, bad man, ruining the reputation of the Glitter Band. Loads to remark upon here beyond the insistent drumalong - they didn't record with The Leader until BEF's Music Of Quality And Distinction project, there were at one point three Glitter Bands in operation, one member received a one year suspended sentence for breaching a court order banning him from using the band's name in his own operations, two of them wrote the 2000 UK Eurovision entry and the drumming duo went on to play with Denim.

9 Wizzard - Rock And Roll Winter
Another winter rock and roll!

8 Diana Ross And Marvin Gaye - You Are Everything
The two monoliths coo an old Stylistics song at each other to not unpleasant effect. Marvin Gaye was always strong at duetting, which makes all that wanking in Belgium unpleasantness later on in his career that seems to have taken over as his populist modus operandi more galling.

7 Sunny - Doctor's Orders
"Look up Sunny in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and you'll find one entry for the song 'Doctor's Orders'. Which just goes to show what they know about pop music" says a 70s pop site. It's a reference book! There's no qualitative judgement involved in it! Founder Brotherhood Of Man member - they operated what we must now call a Sugababes approach - and prolific backing singer (that's supposedly her on the chorus of Joe Cocker's version of With A Little Help From My Friends) decides to be Petula Clarke in a song seemingly about having it off with the doctor against General Medical Council rules.

6 Limmie And The Family Cooking - A Walkin' Miracle
The family name being Snell rather than Cooking, a trio who perhaps brought too much of the variety angle to soul harmony.

5 The Chi-Lites - Homely Girl
Flick Colby was particularly pressed for time that week.

4 The Wombles - Remember You're A Womble
Neat link from the intro to that clip. Clem Cattini grits his teeth and sizes up the glam beat again while whoever was inside the sax-toting Orinoco works the crowd.

3 Terry Jacks - Seasons In The Sun
Actually a Jacques Brel original, though the translation takes out the very Brel-ian pisstakery and accusations of infidelity. The Beach Boys were going to cover it but abandoned their take so their producer recorded and had a hit with it instead. Covered by both Westlife and Black Box Recorder, which is something one side of that equation is probably happier about than the other.

2 Mud - The Cat Crept In
Music to do some sort of four-square Shadows-like dance step to while sporting massive sideburns and pushed up against your colleague who has Christmas baubles hanging off his earrings.

1 ABBA - Waterloo
1974, for all sorts of reasons, was a hell of a Eurovision year. Luxembourg, having won in both 1972 and 1973, pulled out of hosting again due to expense, so it was held in Brighton with a film starring the Wombles as the interval act - note John Peel Radio 1 Fun Day Out anecdote-presaging Womble driving a speedboat, albeit Tony Blackburn out of sight. Malta withdrew after choosing their competitor, ante-post favourites France pulled out after president Pompidou died in the preceding week with his funeral on the same day. Italy refused to broadcast the event due to fears Gigliola Cinquetti's song being called Si might influence the upcoming divorce referendum - they still came second. Famously, Portugal's performance was used as the cue to launch the country's Carnation Revolution military coup restoring democracy to the country. The Swiss song was performed by a female bricklayer, the Irish entrant had suffered amnesia after a recent car accident and had to write the lyrics to her song on the back of her hand, and Katie Boyle hosted for the last time with an oft told anecdote about a see-through dress that we don't quite understand. Australia's Olivia Newton-John was the UK entry, coming fourth with a song she hated. In the midst of all that Sweden and their thematically dressed composer won with the lowest outright winning percentage ever, only two of the voting sixteen countries (Sweden couldn't vote for themselves, remember), Finland and Switzerland, giving them first place. The UK gave them nothing. A proud nation reacted by staging a protest march around the Stockholm venue a year later about the cost of staging the event and the ditching of traditional Scandinavian folk in favour of capitalist pop music, the hubbub so great Sweden took 1976 off Eurovision. The winner's story you know, but this was their winning performance at the national heats, Melodifestivalen. Annifrid's excitement to be on stage at the start is only matched by how far off key she drifts about thirty seconds from the end of the clip.

Tracklist: Ghosting Season - Far End Of The Graveyard

Slightly confusingly Ghosting Season are Tom and Gavin who also make up Worriedaboutsatan, but that incarnation is still active, just put aside for the time being. As it is Ghosting Season's debut single is a steadily building, brooding palette of motorik beats, washes of insistent synths, ghostly hums and atmospheric pressure drops like post-rock build fed through many digital boxes.

Far End of the Graveyard (Edit) by Ghosting Season

Monday, May 09, 2011

Tracklist: Yonderboy - All Bob Minor

Someone needs to look further into the Housemartins influence in current homespun British indie. Leeds' Yonderboy, support for Sky Larkin, Frightened Rabbit and the Antlers, have the (in fairness post-Orange Juice too) just jangly enough guitar melody and soul-inflected rhythm section, even the vocals sounding vaguely similar to Paul Heaton's. The falsetto moments, deceptively complex guitar breaks and sorrowful tale of hijinks are the enough that they give of themselves.

All Bob Minor by Yonderboymusic

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Tracklist: Liam Finn - The Struggle

Excellently bearded Liam, son of Neil off of Crowded House and Split Enz, made something of an impact back in 2008 with a live show involving much use of loop pedals and his ability to thrash the tar off a drumkit. Then he went quiet, put out a low-key EP, formed a stupid side project with Connan Mockasin, and now we read he has a full band, which is no fun. The song, the first from July's second album FOMO, is, though, a kind of lo-fi grandiosity where fuzzy guitars and desperate railing against the world are hijacked by pop melodies and colourful synths. With the usual signing up to a mailing list caveat, you can download it from his official site.

Liam Finn - The Struggle by Stayloose

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Tracklist: The Wind-Up Birds - Slow Reader

Leeds' most cauterised post-punks have put out Acting Thick For Money, a collection of rare EP tracks recorded between 2004 and 2006. This track picked out for proper streaming by the label furthers the musical kinship with Art Brut, fuzzy full rock setting guitars and not quite singing. Lyrically Paul Ackroyd takes the docusoaped underclass under his cynical wing.

The Wind-Up Birds - Slow Reader by Sturdy Records

Friday, May 06, 2011

Tracklist: Gazelle Twin - I Am Shell I Am Bone

You'd think with a music press too easily charmed by the likes of Anni Rossi that Brightonian Elizabeth Walling, AKA Gazelle Twin, might have gained more attention for something this skirting the edge of normality in emotive girl plus electronics terms. A secretive self-described visual artist who plays with the notion of electropop and wears masks and elaborate costumes live - now, who on earth could that be taking after? - her creeped out vocal drifts atop layers of electronic signals, synths, beats, peaks and troughs, establishing the landscape that the chills will arrive within like a less outwardly dramatic Esben And The Witch.

Gazelle Twin - I Am Shell I Am Bone by rocketpr

I Am Shell I Am Bone - Official Video by Gazelle Twin from Gazelle Twin on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tracklist: Roxy Rawson - Fingers

What do you expect someone called Roxy Rawson to sound like? Wrong. Hitchin-raised Rawson, compared to Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor by the Independent On Sunday as much we suspect for her leaping, swooping, occasionally properly falsetto vocals, is a conservatoire trained violinist and if she hasn't got the grand arrangement ambitiousness of an Owen Pallett or Marques Toliver yet she can conjure plucked intimacy and soaring grandiosity within the space of this one song. Eccentric, to a degree, but also spellbinding.

Roxy Rawson Fingers Radio (SD Master)01 by jrjenrobertscouk

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tracklist: Beth Jeans Houghton - Dodecahedron

It seemed the only thing the bepermwigged blousy folk harridan of Tyneside did last year was headline a stage at Latitude - the Hot Toast EP came out in August 2009 and she debuted this in a 6 Music session shortly afterwards. Her excuse is she spent most of 2010 in LA, yet the album's still not due (on Mute, mind) until the autumn. Until then comes this timely reminder, a galumphing cryptic song of dream sqequence imagery, shifting mini-movements (especially those that sound like the music from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence) and clever bits of instrumentation and male Hooves Of Destiny on backing vocals. Seems Ben Hillier's production has brought something properly inventive to Houghton's odd folk liturgies.

Beth Jeans Houghton - Dodecahedron by Mute UK

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tracklist: The Middle East - Hunger Song

While they clearly fit into our own folk mores, there's something about the first proper cut from Queensland's The Middle East's debut album I Want That You Are Always Happy, released 6th June, that strives for the greater grandeur on a still personal level of a Rufus Wainwright or, perhaps more manageably, Stephin Merritt. Yearning for something that may one day come, it insistently rides along smoothly with the subtlest of close harmonies and loving orchestration as the brightest rainbow of a widescreen ending ebbs, flows and eventually breaks out as everyone heads into the sunset. The ecstatic nature of that outro suggests they might still be going on now, whenever you read this.

Hunger Song by themiddleeast

Monday, May 02, 2011

Come the end of the month, come the STN month's best playlist. 23 tracks this time around, from power pop to elegant orchestration to whatever you'd call tUnE-YarDs. Remember not to listen more than five times, unless you've paid for it. And frankly if you consider £9.99 a month for all the new and old music listening you can handle beneath you, then we know why so many people are choosing to stream a compilation expressly noted as benefiting charity rather than buying it.

STN April 2011
People arriving here from the links provided having heard two tracks from our compilation played by Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales - this is the download purchase link.

Tracklist: Sparrow And The Workshop - Snakes In The Grass

We've held onto this for so long 6 Music have gone and playlisted it, but no matter. The conversion of Sparrow And The Workshop from twanging death songsmiths to elusively punchy dark love connoisseurs finds its outlet on 23rd May with the release of Spitting Daggers. Jill O'Sullivan's epic, pleading Nashville outlaw vocal lends itself to this kind of electrified miniature country come-on.

Sparrow and the Workshop - Snakes in the Grass by rocketpr

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Tracklist: Cults - Abducted

So you thought they couldn't be anything more than a blogger's fancy flash in the pan, they'd have two songs and be forced to write the world's most filler for the album they'd been hastily signed to for loads? Yeah, us too. This, however, is quite some balm. The opening track from May 30th's debut, it's what Best Coast should have sounded like, sun-kissed and full of Spector/Motown/Shadow Morton references and hazy production touches - check the twanging and found voices mid-section - but with the utmost love melodrama woundedness underneath and with quite some semi-hidden bite. Also, nothing about cats.

Cults - Abducted by cultscultscults