debut greatness?


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The debut album from Glasgow Krautrock/folkie combo, The Phantom Band, has been receiving universal 4 star reviews all week in everything from The NME to The Guardian. My mate Kenneth has been proclaiming their majesty for some time now and I have to say this unofficial pre-release video shows considerable potential.

I for one shall be tootling down to Fopp to stock up.

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This is even better, a tribute to German art rockers, Can, from whom they are said to derive many of their influences.

Myself?  I was a bigger fan of Faust and this masterpiece may demonstrate why.

On the other hand you may, like 99% of the population find them ear bleed inducing noiseniks with not a musical quality to their name.  (But you’d be wrong.)

Joe Strummer. The future is unwritten.


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So, I’m the last Clash fan in the world to watch this film.  It doesn’t stop me considering it a very wonderful and intimate portrait of who, it transpires, was quite a fmessed upgenius.

OK, we always knew he was a public schoolboy doing all that gobbing stuff as a punk.

Was he a true communist?

I doubt it, but his views were passionately held and he walked the walk for as long as it really mattered.

I loved, adored, the Clash, not especially from a political ideology but because their mid-career music (especially London Calling) was the best of its generation at an age where music most consumed me.

Julian Temple’s movie demands respect because he didn’t take the fanclub approach.  He brilliantly paints this troubled man’s life story in  a way I was not expecting.

Respect.

And, I think I have to leave you with this…

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Recent listening – Dear science by TV on the radio


OK, you can’t slag off TV on The Radio if you consider yourself a sophisticated music fan. And I have no intention of doing so, but the hysteria that the critics have bestowed on Dear Science is a little full on.

This is a very good record. But I feel it is less genre-changing and more derivative than one might imagine having read the reviews.

It is a solid mix of harmony, funk, rock and electronica.

It leans heavily on Talking Heads’ back catalogue, fusing in bits of Outkast and several of the songs are actually quite wide of the bullseye.

On the other hand... Family Tree is one of the best songs I have heard in a long time. Very beautiful and moving. Wouldn’t have been out of place on Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow. If Elbow was black.

Golden Age is pretty good too.

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This album may yet find its way into my year end list, but I’d be cautious of the hype it’s getting.

Dig Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick cave


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Nick Cave is one of the few artists that gets better with age. He was a kind of tiresome punk, but in the last 10 years his music has gone from good to sublime.

The Lyre of Orphee was quite simply magnificent and the particularly badly designed sleeve (in contrast to the aforementioned) of Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (C’mon man how many !!!’s does a quality writer need?) does not, in any way, prepare one for the solid gold that lies within.

This record rocks.

No, it rock and rolls.

It is wondrous.

Every track is totally different in construction, style, sound, arrangement and effect. But held together with Cave’s growling vocals and incredible lyrics.

The title track is the pick of the bunch. But not by much. It is a modern day take on the parable of Lazarus, or Larry as Nick fondly refers to him – in a modern US setting of course

Larry has found his moment of fame, having been, against his wishes, dug up and ressurected – and plainly he doesn’t like it, becoming in time a drunk, a junky and a drop out – just like all the rest of the unnamed ressurectionists.

It is a quite breathtaking piece of writing, but in addition it comes with a grinding bassline, a brilliant melody (in a Nick Cave sort of way) and a stomping rythm. And you know what? EVERY single song that follows perms one or more of the above qualities.

This is a very good record indeed and a certainty for my best of the year shortlist.

Wow.

Here’s a wee taster …

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Shine by Joni Mitchell


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I love Joni Mitchell!

Fact.

Although, I feel I am too young to be this devoted.

After all, she is old enough to be my mother. That said, you can’t ignore class. The Beatles coulda been my Grandads; the Stones too.

Jimi?

Well, he’d just be a badly influential uncle.

Joni is pure and utter class. And she has ‘classes’ of fans, her folk fans, her Jazz fans, her in-betweeni fans.

I’m one of them. The inbetweeni.

And this is one of those albums. Closest call in her past life? Hejira!

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The album opens with a two chord piano riff that takes your breath away. It is possibly the perfect opening stance. Two aces in a Texas Hold ’em.

The song (well it’s an instrumental) recalls a beautiful summer day and it is the best piece of music I have heard this year, bar none. The fact that it is instrumental is, I think, a brilliant holding device because how will Joni sound when she finally sings after a self imposed ten year retirement from the music scene?

Growly, gruff, mature, wondrous. That’s how she sounds.

The album is self assured, beautiful and flawed. Her 21st century take on Big Yellow Taxi that is the centrepiece of this great album doesn’t work for me, because it lacks the youthful rebellion of its inception.

‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling is given an interpretation that I think comes off, just.

But, overall, if I was 65, retired 10 years and making a comeback, this is how I’d like to do it.

Think Eric Cantona Playing for Man Utd in the Champions League and scoring a hatrick.

Then again. Think Joni Mitchell at the top of her game.

5 star. No doubt.

And, you know what. This confirms that Canada is music country of the year. If you are in any doubt check it out here.