Friday, 24 August 2012



The second full length album from Sone Institute is a grand proposition building on the momentum of his first record Curious Memories and bringing a whole new bag of tricks to proceedings.  A Model Life is a far reaching and all encompassing collection of crashing harmonious sounds engaging in the manner of the finest music library.

Sone Institute is the product from the mind of Roman Bezdyk, a modern composer and arranger exhibiting a vibrant fountain of music knowledge.  These lush, sweet sounds are the kind of easy listening gestures that point to a calm but exotic life well lived.

Making its mark early the record opens with what appears to be an old school acid rock freak out that seems to be occurring in a bingo hall on the fantastically titled “Witchcraft And Pornography”.  It is a gesture that gets repeated at the end on “Fear And Happiness” also.  However between there and here a large amount of sonic soil is covered.

All in all with its vocal samples and verbose offerings of logic, Sone Institute provides a sound similar to current darlings Public Broadcasting Service in addition to a clear concordance to Broadcast.  And on the whole there is a general feel of it being some kind of lost treasure that Jonny Trunk might find covered in dust in an archive.  Like the suspense and swing of “Frozen Leaves – Falling From Leaves” cause me to think of a Lalo Schifrin workout.

It is the track “Struck By A Rock” that takes the prize.  This is a truly astounding and levelling piece of music.  Upon receipt of its movements my heart breaks and traffic stops moving.

The ambiance continues with the title track which spans a delicate moment that reminds me of a waking Cinematic Orchestra moment containing lush tones and gestures along with a timeless edge.  It bleeds brilliant early morning colours by emphasising stillness.

From here once again the tone of the record changes as the appropriately named “Amoral Life” drops in with a porno flick sounding wah, echo and bass serving to highlight the brilliant playfulness of the work at hand.

After various moments of strings, beats and chill the album book ends with another acid freakout in the form of “Fear And Happiness” as truly this life has been a ride.

Here are fourteen tracks to marvel.

Thesaurus moment: expanse.

Monday, 12 March 2012



The second album from Skint & Demoralised is a certified romp that arrives after a number of dramas and devices such as split and reformation, unreleased albums, re-release dates and general major label hijinks.  As a result naming the album after a kitchen sink drama isn’t so conceited as a person might imagine.

Skint & Demoralised is a bleak duo hailing from Yorkshire.  Their initial success was driven by a self started online campaign benefiting from times before Myspace sucked itself whole and turned shit.

The concept was easy.  Matt Abbott a feisty young northern poet would unleash his rhymes as his mate Mini Dog (I shit you not) would add the tunes and backing tracks.  And initially it was good, a lowlife but high brow version of spoken world detailing adventures and a lifestyle that was interesting and tangible.  Unfortunately then came time to turn it all into a band and offer themselves as indie.

With the transition the words have become more lyrical and now mostly sung.  In other words, it has all gone a bit normal.  All remains very normal but the backing now feels slightly hack, generic indie rock in an irksome fashion.  Part of me suspects someone in a suit sat behind a desk somewhere suggested this all in the hope of tapping into the Arctic Monkeys audience and vibe.  Am I being too cynical?

Well, perhaps not when the original suggestion was potentially of an Arab Strap from Wakefield but instead ultimately what is served sits in some Embrace cum Doves territory.  There is suggestion of a Smiths type appreciation for existence (not least in the kitchen sink references) but the execution feels not fully formed.  Fuck a duck.

At this point that band has already broken up once which kind of causes me to question their commitment to the cause.  Is there much longevity let in this act?  No doubt while they remain signed they’re soldier on.

Music wise you would be forgiven for expecting something different.  Now gone full on indie there is a strange, retro sound to proceedings.  It probably won’t thrill them for me to report opening track “Hogmanay Heroes” makes me think of The Wonder Stuff.  All in all there feels a desire for the anthemic but unfortunately rarely is it reached (or even required).

As the record gallops on tracks such as “The Lonely Hearts Of England” have a weird Pogues vibe in their euphoric gallop as drunken nights are celebrated in blind fashion as if “Tubthumping” had not been delivered with irony.  Maybe it’s a northern thing.

I thought these guys were angry about signing on?  Where’s the edge?

Thesaurus moment: injudicious.

Hit Or Heist Records

Sunday, 29 May 2011



I don’t think I will ever feel at ease with Australia.  Its just too vast, just too hot.  It’s the kind of place where bad things happen beneath a tempered sun that can’t help but influence and direct a person’s behaviour in unhealthy fashion

Originally hailing from such parts The Doomed Bird Of Providence is not so much a band as it is a gang.  At last count it was five strong and growing.  With this their arsenal of instruments has grown over time and now as they present their debut album their aural vision is as clear and powerful as ever.

Boasting a previous criminal record, when the Doomed Bird Of Providence first unleashed their wares a couple of years ago with their self titled EP on Laily Recordings it was a prized eruption that contained a solid set of songs at the hands of band leader Mark Kluzek which eventually led to low level scandal regarding the selling of goods on eBay.

With Will Ever Pray the message is clear: this band is here to give you nightmares, to saddle you with guilt as the Poms must be forced to pay for previous indiscretions.

The piece opens with vocals distributed like lashes.  From here strings soon drop, sinking their claws into proceedings from where they never let go.  With this accordion then seeps in as the occasional piano keys drip like blood and guitar parts are driven and tempered.

Something of a concept album possessing a staunch inflicted narrative Will Ever Pray is a two part monster as the first four songs telling tales of early exploration and deportation by ship in and around the Australia region.  Then “the massacre of the whole of the passengers and part of the crew of The Sea Horse on her homeward passage from Sydney” consumes the following five track finale.  Naturally its downbeat content but ultimately more entertaining and accessible than watching the History Channel.  In other words this is a previously untapped fountain of information.

Comparisons do not come easy or necessarily clear in compliment.  Obviously the accordion is an instrument that does not get a lot of action in a rocking world and while hardly being Klezmar, its use and execution is somewhat more ghastly than the dark, likeable and comic Tiger Lillies.  Likewise the heavy violin strings delivered in an Australian context obviously recall The Dirty Three however when they layer in tandem and echo with guitar it feels akin to darkland Velvet Underground.  To this you can perhaps throw into the mix a sense of Tindersticks but ultimately the band is so much more as it offers a sound that it earnest and very much its own.  You won’t hear anything else that sounds like this in a hurry.

Of the first half raft it is “On The Deathbed Of Janus Weathercock” which provides the highlight with the detailed description of a man’s demise as all comes together sonically and majestically lending something of a tranquil air to anything but a peaceful demise.  The hooks here are the kind that give birth to goosebumps.  This physical reaction however may also be as result from the fact that Weathercock was a notorious poisoner.

As the second half of the record begins and the massacre ensues this chapter opens with a ten minute plus instrumental of ringing strings as a queasy sensation prevails and an eventual hook and loop that perversely reminds me of an unidentified staple from my past (sorry to be vague).  From here a clap shanty spurs the crew into action as by part 3 there is talk of “slashing throats” and “cutting out tongues” which makes for a horrific snapshot in time.  With this part 4 resumes the score motif as delicate piano ticks lend the piece a calm after the storm feel, housing a raindrop like sensation to represent the closure and conclusion of the rain in blood (reign in blood).  By the end the devastation feels like jubilation as a change in order feels very much on the cards.

To garner a full appreciation of this record it is beneficial to listen intently as the multitude of instruments all jostle for position while at the same time being given space to breathe.  This is a truly tight outfit and very talented musicians playing to their strengths and syncing in the most dogged and accomplished manner.

Curiously this makes for very good public transport music especially trips that are long haul.  While sat squashed onto a train with my fellow passengers I can’t help but empathise and liken my plight as I envisage all aboard being driven and dragged to a destination against our wills as the necessity outweighs the enjoyment of our existence and whisks us into bondage, suffering and misery.  With this I can’t but view it all as a shared experience and use it as an effective tool to combat the labour of my day.

This is the real deal.

Did ya.

Thesaurus moment: carnage.

Monday, 11 April 2011



I have to concede that against my better judgement I really fucking like this song.  I know its full of reckless abandon and other such professional rock clich├ęs but the bounce to it is pure and the thrills come astonishing and genuine.  For a rare moment a new guitar band on a major label appears to have produced a song that genuinely rocks!

At the risk of having shoes thrown at me this song is how I would imagine a morphing of At The Drive-in with Nation Of Ulysses to sound.  The chanting is there, the chops are there and, most important, the passion seems there.  It’s a perpetual motion machine in the slickest manner possible.

As to what the song is actually about remains something of a mystery to me.  It could equally be about disco dancing as some kind of east coast v west coast rivalry.  However the rap wars this is not.  And thus I have to concede that it is the mystery of the intent that causes me some slight doubt towards the act.

Ultimately though I just suspect that this band is too good looking and well adjusted to be for real, to maintain such an exciting flow of music and inhabit a special place in my heart that is driven by the need for things to be pure and credible, not necessarily done in the name of money grabbing and dollar.

For now I will indulge and enjoy this song but eventually it will be forgotten, dismissed long before the band gives birth to disappointment and breaks my heart.  That makes sense, right?

This is already their funeral.

Thesaurus moment: pow.

Saturday, 29 January 2011



Gummed onto the front cover of the March 2011 issue of Mojo this is quite possibly the best ever free CD to come with a magazine.  To have a compilation the sees Shonen Knife slip into Big Black is a triumph while also having a record than sits “Bad Penny” next to “The Money Will Roll Right In” is a distinct victory of art over commerce.

This is not the first time a magazine has put together a CD of Kurt Cobain’s tastes and influences.  Previously in 2004 the NME came up with a compilation crassly called Kurt’s Choice which also opened with a Mudhoney track (then “Touch Me I’m Sick” and now “In’n Out Of Grace”) as well as the originals of songs covered in the MTV Unplugged set (“Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and “Plateau”).  In addition, both compilations contain songs by The Vaselines that Nirvana covered but needless to say, this collection is superior having not been compiled by teenagers.

Subtitled “Distorted Sounds From The Punk Underground” the collection is something of a history lesson in US indie rock, college rock and punk.  Included are acts such as Clown Alley and Big Dipper who only the most informed and anal will be aware.

There are many rock family tree links here: Nirvana covered the aforementioned “The Money Will Roll  Right In”, “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” and “Plateau”.  Dan Peters of Mudhoney was briefly their drummer.  Steve Albini of Big Black recorded In Utero while Cobain was a one-time roadie for the Melvins as later Krist Novoselic would play bass for Flipper.  In addition, there is the whole Sub Pop thing with in addition to Green River and Mudhoney being mainstays and label mates, the company at various stages would feature releases by Beat Happening, The Vaselines and Shonen Knife.

Overall this is a very pleasingly raw record.  Clown Alley proves a wonderful discovery having seemingly been buried by rock history.  It seems too strange to consider a band that sounds so big and so right never actually.

With this the more seasoned surf scroll of Beat Happening and “Bewitched” has never sounded more perverse and obtuse.  Likewise the clarity attached to the aural attack that is “Bad Penny” by Big Black has never felt more powerful and essential.  These two tracks alone appear to cram more ingenuity into than so many modern acts do entire sets.

Key also is the sense of humour and attitude attached.  As Albini claims “I think I fucked your sister once” this then moves onto the sarcastic desire to sell out and “fuck Brooke Shields” of the pleasingly nonchalant “The Money Will Roll Right In” by Fang.  Covered by both Mudhoney and Nirvana I truly would like to inhabit a world and mindset that shares such slack confidence.

The more melodic side of Cobain’s brain and influence are soon represented by The Vaselines, Young Marble Giants and Meat Puppets each offered a different way of taking care of business.

However still keen to cause a riot and upset the squares the inclusion of David Yow screaming his way through “Cannibal” by Scratch Acid feels a key noise rock insertion before telling nods to scene trailblazers Green River and Melvins offer appreciation and inspiration.  Melvins in particular take the opportunity to explain and display just how powerful a king hook can be.

With maturity things, reach a head via bratty posturing and antagonism delivered from Flipper and almost eight minutes of “Sex Bomb” before it all ends with eternal respect for Iggy Pop and a live version of “Gimme Danger” with The Stooges.

This is music that makes a misfit better.

Once again, all that is missing is Sonic Youth.

Thesaurus moment: substance.

Friday, 28 January 2011



Kurt Cobain always expressed impeccable taste in music when referencing influences and heroes.  For a cover mount CD from a magazine this is a significantly/substantially better compilation than is usually offered.

Appearing in 2004 to mark the tenth anniversary of Cobain’s death, the NME accompanied a cover piece with this thirteen-song collection of the good and the great.  The considered with care selection ranges from the obvious grunge co-conspirators Mudhoney then digs out the blues inspiration of Leadbelly through to the proto-punk of Iggy Pop to the actual punk of Bad Brains and the hardcore of MDC to the emo mutation of Dischord hardcore in Rites Of Springs (and a future Fugazi) into the birth of the alternative nation and grunge precurse of Butthole Surfers and Melvins with a side step to acknowledge strong female acts in The Slits and PJ Harvey and kitsch oddball in The Vaselines.  In other words the disc displays a wide field of quality in independent acts.

It was always such references and gestures that made Nirvana more than a mere Kerrang! band.  In many ways it was what kept them indie as they became the biggest act on the planet.  I genuinely believe in the term The House That Kurt Built because were it not for his reference I would only have heard of two or three of these acts at best/most.

Any record that opens with “Touch Me I’m Sick” is likely to be a good one.  Then it feels quite perverse to hear such mucky sentiments placed next to the optimistic emo straight edge motions of Rites Of Spring and “For Want Of” which quite frankly has aged very well.  Key to the construct is the urgency that retains.

Remaining on Dischord, Faith follows with their more straight ahead hardcore coming from the point things were becoming more melodic on the label.

Ensuring Iggy Pop is included, a live version of “Louie Louie/Hang On Sloppy” from 1980.  Obviously this isn’t prime Osterberg and while the audio cuts in and out subtly there is still clear fire and fury in the performance.

Opening up modern wounds the Melvins next launch a fifty second assault on proceedings as sometimes that is just as much is required from King Buzzo and co.  Then in more measured and jarring manner “Sweat Loaf” by the Butthole Surfers arrives screaming “Satan! Satan!” while revolving like carousel round one of Black Sabbath’s best riffs.  The drugs do work.

MDC pops up next with the pointed “John Wayne Was A Nazi”, a song title clearly appreciated by Cobain and his objectionable, anti-establishment attitude.  John Wayne really didn’t do very well out of punk rock all considered as it was in Repo Man that Tracey Walter suggested he was a “fag”.

An appreciation for post-punk and angular invention is represented by the inclusion of Gang Of Four then The Slits.  Both provide tracks that pulse and jiggle, decide on directions against anything expected.  Continuing a “Typical Girls” theme, The Slits move onto “Dress” by PJ Harvey and he original acts of jarring effigy.

As the collection colludes towards conclusion it offers two tracks Nirvana covered but could not have been more different.  The original bubblegum version of “Molly’s Lips” by The Vaselines fiercely displays and expresses the manner in which Cobain would construct his songs and frequently insert repetitive lines both in chorus and verse.  The real wonder however is whether Cobain knew that the song was about actress Molly Weir who played Hazel The McWitch in the kids TV show Rentaghost.

With this we arrive at the original of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” by Leadbelly.  Even though Cobain tried to make it his on the Unplugged performance, the overriding angst exhibited by Huddie Ledbetter is something than can not be bettered or broken.

Following in a flurry the hardcore classic “Banned In DC” by Bad Brains closes the compilation with a time change and sense of reckless abandon all coupled with a guitar solo that sounds like a police siren.   Anyone with ears likes Bad Brains.

Whether this actually what Cobain would listen to in one sitting is open to debate but there definite elements in each track that you can see filtered into his own material and being.  And it’s a better set of influences than most acts scale.

All that’s missing is Sonic Youth.

Thesaurus moment: presume.

Monday, 24 January 2011



To instigate an argument between hipsters and heads I used to pose the question: Kristin Hersh or Chan Marshall?  Invariably this was never a question cleanly answered, there were just too many elements influencing proceedings such as cred points, age, attraction.

Kristin Hersh is quite an intimidating character.  Coming from tough origins her ability to remain resilient, relevant and generally around is the mark of stern and strong stuff.  All along she has retained a look/stare that could kill.  And with her words it probably has.

Crooked is the eighth solo album from Hersh which coupled with so many Throwing Muses records makes for quite the body of work.  And with that the album comes packaged as a hardback book with amongst lyrics and artwork an essay by her about each song.  This is not a lazy lady as in construct she also produced the record while playing all the instruments.  Here is how you multitask.

With time her voice has deepened reflecting age and the experience that comes with.  And as I flick through the book I discover that she has four sons.  This is a superwoman.

I must admit that I am surprised when I remove the shrink-wrap and crack open the book to not discover a disc of any kind inside.  This truly is a different era.  So this is how an artist gets round the end of the physical format.

Lyrically Crooked feels quite the narrated intrusion as Hersh offers an explicit post-mortem of testing times at the hands of unhealthy influence.  Often it feels like therapy for both the author and the listener.  Lines such as “you’re very clean, I give up” and “Why put the light on at all” in “Glass” reveal quite the scenario, quite the situation and intention.  Then the delivery of the title track’s opening “hold the flashlight under your chin, closer as the lights dim” are some of the darkest words heard all year.

It is on “Sand” when Hersh skates finest motoring with jangly guitar and stretching vocals all sewn up with a curling hook that’s contradictory and effective.  Musically even if the pace is mostly mid tempo often there is exhibition that imposing and grand.

With “Moan” she reaches a unique place sounding like Mazzy Starr covering “If I Think” by Mudhoney.  Meanwhile “Fortune” proves very conversational and confessional as words come in waves especially with such statements as “you cost a fortune, you cast a shadow” which is certainly a sentiment most people can place on a pairing and moment in time.

The eventual outro of “Rubidoux” serves as an expansive haunting freeway this whisks the listener away to a conclusion.

Crooked is an incredible work coming at a much appreciated time.  The pain that is transmitted is translated to electric ends.

Thesaurus moment: anfractuous.

Throwing Music
Friday Books

Thursday, 13 January 2011



When acts regroup it helps to have something to push/promote when hitting the stage/road.  Too many times such compilations are ramshackle efforts thrown together in hast with a distinct lack of care.  Such releases are blights, stains on a band’s career discography (a clear example being The Fall).  And housing a title such as Quarantine The Past you sense Pavement and their people fully know this (they are of high IQ after all).  However despite such a depreciating record name, with perhaps the best appellation for such an album thoughtfully constructed this 23 track selection is devastating.

In many ways Pavement have never sounded better.  There has been a real clean up job done on these tracks in order to give the compilation a cohesive flow and the result has been to up everything and make it glow.  That’s not to say it has been cleaned up and ruined in a traditional sense, the songs now just feel more weighty than before, they contain more clout.

Cut Your Hair” was the first Pavement song I fell for.  It was weird and unlike anything else I had ever seen.  It was goofy but did not compromise any might.  It was frightening and fucked, a joke you were ever in on or excluded from.  A song able to alienate as much as it could delight.

In similar fashion songs such as “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” and “Grounded” perfectly capture what it feels to be enjoying freedom in a season.  Loud, fuzzy and breezy in all its lo-fi excellence the movement of the music feels akin to being on holiday.

The term Quarantine The Past is taken from the opening track “Gold Soundz”.  The sloppy optimism of the track never sat right with me.  Apparently this was the best single of the nineties.  Pavement was not music about presenting the best possible version of yourself.

Present here are all the great singles thankfully not offered in chronological order.  Some are great, some are good.  Some should have not been singles while others exist in novelty.  For me Pavement tracks were always representative of the climate and season.  Broken hearts retain and maintain as the process always stung.

In my opinion their best record will forever be the wonder of Wowee Zowee and from that we are given “Grounded” and “Fight This Generation”.  The singles from the album are missing!  Then again they were slow, stoned and dethroned (although “Father To A Sister Of A Thought” is for me the song that I crashed my first car to).

Stereo” represented something of a change, a new focus, a new era.  Remaining wonky as expected it added a blistering Sonic Youth type wig out sensibility as if it were expected.  That’s not the say the song is not great, only that it felt like a gesture that was demanded/commanded.  Also from that record comes “Shady Lane” which features Malkmus at his wordy best and brilliant.

Elsewhere influences such as the aforementioned Fall are felt on the very abrasive “Two States” while “Range Life”, with its Smashing Pumpkins/Stone Temple Pilots goading confusion at Lollapalooza and the alternative nation has always sounded like Neil Young to me.  Then there is their explicit tribute/ode to REM on the “Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence” where affection exudes and humour thankfully prevents it from becoming sickly.

Career spanning to their credit they do not avoid/ignore the messy noise of “Mellow Jazz Docent” and “Box Elder” as it rubs shoulders with laidback smooth selections such as “Heaven Is A Truck” and “Shoot The Singer”.  What is very impressive however is the inclusion of “Unfair” and “Embassy Row” which I always considered very similar, very much from the same page.

The final song Pavement ever played when quitting first time round was “Here”.  The first lines of “I was dressed for success, but success it never come” feel telling in both the aftermath and context of the era.  They were losers from the off.  It’s funny to consider they were making such a declaration on their first record.  In time it has been attached to weaker product in the form of teenage angst film but regardless it remains the sound of drowning and works well when times aren’t working out.

As I say compilation albums aren’t exactly indie rock, more a cry for help.  With the band reunited and no fresh product to support, management and owners need to do something with their catalogue (their investment).  Sure the implied intention is to offer a snapshot of nostalgia but was this necessary?  Not after the deluxe reissues of the album it was not.  But whatever nevermind.

“Wake up to people so tall to you”.

When it closes with “Fight This Generation” you can’t help but feel an era misunderstood the message and slipped into failure.  Certainly most of my friends didn’t seem to get it.  There will never be a noted band like this again.

Now which fucking joker included “Jai Ho” from the Slumdog Millionaire in the illegal download of this album I used for review?

Tale Of The Tape:
Watery Domestic – 2 tracks
Perfect Sound Forever – 2 tracks
Slay Tracks – 1 track
Slanted And Enchanted – 5 tracks
Wowee Zowee – 2 tracks
Brighten The Corners - 4 tracks
Terror Twilight – 1 track

Broken biscuits.

Thesaurus moment: utter.

Friday, 24 December 2010



This is soulful fucking record.  These songs can reduce me to tears; take me down when times are not good.

The blues and indie rock have generally tended to make for awkward bed fellows.  Indie rockers don’t generally have trouble paying the rent.  Even if they don’t have the funds, they have a safety net to cover and catch.  The only risk is that of self destruct.  This version however is the purest, most evocative sense.  It is affecting and amazing.  What they do is not secret but it is very special.  How it is made however can be home to secrecy and discretion.

Thank You is a powerful record.  It exudes a weird kind of gratitude that is not necessarily genuine or sincere.  There are two parties present in this exchange/consumption and it is not exactly clear which is the more important to the other.

In many ways Royal Trux is terrifying.  The cool desperation that seeps from every pore, every lick is that of chasing the next sandwich regardless of which kind of fix that is (and they are in).  The band feels so off the mainstream radar that they might be the basis of militia.

This album tends to appear in my life in broken situations.  When people belittle me I’ll search it out and bring it up.  The pace matches recovery.  Released in 1995 the band was now gaining attention from people with money (industry types) and the fresh direction was touching a sweet spot between Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.  Rather than being a dilution of a dilution the charge of empowerment from each source brought a whole new rasping energy which comfortably sat with their lifestyle, personality and methodology.  As Herrema squawked like a modern Janis Joplin there was something distinctly masculine and bluesy in her motions and ultimate function of the band.  The broken energy soars more than prior lo-fi gestures.

From the off the band is acting like a well oiled machine.  Behind Herrema and Hagerty the engine room rhythm section is given a lot of room breath and with it comes real funk drive as each piece of the puzzle is given space to star.

Often surface sloppy the nods to the Stones can be heard hardest in singalong of “Ray O Vac” while the expansive wail of “The Sewer Of Mars” is quite Led Zep.  Indeed the rumbling, bubbling bass of “Granny Grunt” almost sounds like Thin Lizzy.

Lyrically “Map Of The City” with its slow sweeping blues of working class crimes contains equally images of cancer and masturbation while “Lights Of The Levee” with its big bridges ends with the question “when will the water wash me out?”

Of the more familiar tracks opener “A Night To Remember” is funk driven promise which saw the band performing live on The Word while single “You’re Gonna Lose” was glorious bargain bin stuff all scuffed and too damaged/dirty to make a common dent.

The masterpiece is left to last “Shadow Of The Wasp” literally stings the listener was an explicit description of a struggle to secure goods.  One Friday night I found myself in a perfect life sync with this track as during a moment of the blues attached to an impending emotional and physical exchange in Deptford I couldn’t decide whether I was caught in the saddest and happiest of times.  Slow, subtle and sedate it paints a rough picture of proceedings ahead of stepping up a gear as it launches into the chorus where it questions if things were actually better in the past as they complain about being “sick of searching to get hooked on a feeling”.  Then the third movement kicks in and all erupts heavily layered.  All in all its tiring stuff and then it (and the album) ends on a drum solo.  Special.

This is an album that can change days, maybe even lives.

Thesaurus moment: benefaction.

Thursday, 23 December 2010



Few pieces of music manage to paint pain with such clarity and sincerity.  The clear narrative of this song is of a singular conversation replaying a moment, analysing a personal issue in search of clarity and solace but achieving none.  This is not the winner’s circle, not even the sound of a batter on deck.  The emotion experienced is loss in a very deep and thoughtful way.  The hurt is key in a most essential way.

After experiencing crossover success with Throwing Muses Hersh established herself as quite the force and strong front woman.  Her songs captured a rare take and perspective of damaged moments and exchanges.  And lending a helping hand on this release was Michael Stipe which didn’t harm its chances at all.

“Your Ghost” is a heavy dose of reflection.  These are the words of a person lost and unable to move on.  Stuck in the past she wages war with the telephone and broken communication.  The desire is there but not the urge.  The reality is that to act on impulse would be wrong as external motion suggests the other party is no longer there, no longer receptive.  As I write this there is a person I so want to contact but I know that I shouldn’t and so I won’t.  I can wait in hope for her to call or message but that does not appease my urge of pace and suffer.  Hersh is amazing in capturing and sharing this.

A sombre tone maintains as the twinkling pick of “The Key” with soaring upbeat vocals that echo and transcend in a wondrous description of an ideal partner.  It’s a desire that does not feel sustainable, one destined and doomed to failure.

By the time the release reaches the bluesy take on “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin all issue has been explained if not rectified.  With an acoustic slide guitar certain to impress Jimmy Page there comes a fresh edge and intellect to the song being delivered in a female voice.  This too shall pass.

Quite the host.

Thesaurus moment: eidolon.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010



Subtitled “From Our Rears To Your Ears!” this is something of a strange curiosity of a record but no less wonderful with it.  And inside the booklet there is a message from Sarah herself: “Well, we finally put all our songs on CDs.  Play them while you are making love, or doody”.

I think the Sarah Silverman Program was something of a confused beast.  This is probably demonstrated by the shoddy manner with which it was originally treated (was it two seasons or three – nobody really knows).  Personally I went for it immediately, often to my detriment I like bad taste comedy and these days its tasting worse than ever as limits get pushed further and further.  In essence these are boundaries that have long since surpassed in public life and now as they seep into art and entertainment suddenly this gives people a sense of entitlement to cry foul.  Begs the question: is an awful statement worse when made to a large audience?  In many ways I guess so but the substance and essence of the piece is not new.  Ultimately you just come to the conclusion that people are hypocrites.

Milked for the full ninety nine tracks available on the CD this is a combination of those short songs from the TV series (36 in total) in addition to various sound bites and jokes.  It feels like such a weird throwback concept to a time before the internet and everything being available at the click of a mouse.  That this CD even exists feels something of an achievement.  Thus I feel the need to celebrate it.

Surveying the scene only twenty six of the tracks make it past the minute mark.  That is barely a quarter of the collection.

Within two tracks Silverman has shit herself as it all resembles some kind of memory akin to reading old text messages.  The humour and fun is not so much in the snippets, its in the moments they originally came from which pretty much makes this mostly for fans of the show only.

Other ghastly occurrences include a conversation to God justifying her stealing batteries, nostalgia for an abortion at the eight and a half month mark, patronising the homeless (played by Zach Galifianakis), convincing all her friends that she has AIDS, explicitly teaching a classroom of children how you catch AIDS, she becomes an animal sexual offender and all kinds of awful things occur to her mother’s corpse.  She is awful, selfish right to the end on track 99.

If you’re looking for a stand out track let me recommend track 48 “That’s Been Done Song” with its cynical robotic gestures.  And on “Dry Sheets, Ice Cream, Jellybeans” her voice reminds me of Juliana Hatfield even if the lyrical content is somewhat removed to say the least.  Then there is a Kate Bush moment that comes with “Opposite Day” as the music prowess peaks in collaboration with Keb’ Mo on “Blind Woman Blues”.

Throughout the process she is ably assisted and accompanied by Brian Posehn, Steve Agee, Jay Johnston and her sister Laura Silverman.  And keeping with his metal affection Posehn finds opportunity to rock out on “Glad I Hurt My Hand”.  There’s a lot of talent on show here.

In the absence of a foam finger or mouse mat, this will have serve as an adequate souvenir and reminder of a very fun show.

And despite these nice words the cow still has me blocked on Twitter.  Some people.

Thesaurus moment: ungenerous.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010



“And They Call Me Mad?” is a statement that I often find myself uttering out loud.  Alas in the act of making such an external comment crazy is all that compounds being explicitly received.  You can’t win.  Conan O’Brien knows that from his experience dealing with Jay Leno.  He has however survived and become a cooler cat for it.  And now he is releasing records with Jack White.

Sporting an uneasy expression on the sleeve O’Brien delivers an echoey monologue that sounds like the kind of thing a Simpsons writer would author. In other words it reminds me of Dana Gould.  That and the kind classic recorded passage Carl Reiner or even Bob Newhart might come up with.

O’Brien’s voice sounds strange.  Perhaps due to contractual obligations it is best that it is not easily recognised by lawyers and accountants alike.  View from an artistic perspective, this is a performer fully immersing himself in character, in his creation.  It’s a classic style, a classic device.

“And They Call Me Mad?” is a one-sided conversation with a Frankenstein style lunatic.  One voice is attempting to convince two minds all housed in the same skull.  You can’t help but relate his statements of reanimation relate to his own career.  As he builds “Benjamin” he proceeds to persuade his monster to kill hostile invaders outside his castle.  In camp fashion he directs it like a filmmaker, a Hollywood or TV exec type.  And all done on the promise of a latte.  This was the real life of Dr Frankenstein.

The tables turn on the flipside for O’Brien as interviewer becomes interviewee as Jack White quizzes him from the control room in grill fashion.  Who else would use an analogue recording studio for an interrogation scene?  After running through various fresh nicknames for Conan we get a genuine “how are you?” as O’Brien discusses/addresses life post-Tonight Show having gone on the road.  In a moment of satisfaction he does an impression of rapper Ludacris that sounds quite like Jay Leno except not for legal reasons.  There also maybe a confession of murder.  He has never been more on point.  As he states that he does not like jokes and holds no empathy for other humans it all turns quite confessional.  Jack White hosts quite the church in Nashville.

Spoken word instructional just might be my new favourite genre.

Thesaurus moment: sly.

Monday, 20 December 2010



A number of years ago after coming off tour I found myself with a real urge to watch Mad Max 2.  Perhaps it was my experience of two weeks on the road (often driving) that gave me the desire to revisit so much automotive carnage.  Almost immediately one of my first gestures was to head into town and pay over the odds for a copy of the movie on DVD.  It had been a few years since I last saw the movie.  Indeed the first time I saw the film was around the age of eight when I hired it on VHS from our local video store only to sit down to watch it with my best friend Aaron who cried off the viewing early on as he was horrified by it.  I watched it on my own the next morning as was amazed.  Was this where the world was heading?

The Brian May score on Mad Max 2 was always an imposing thing.  To be frank it always felt too high in the mix, too loud in the crowd.  Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior in America) was never going to be the most quiet or sedate of movies but somewhere down the line it was decided there needed to be more, the effects required additional sonic assault.  Enter Brian May.

Even though guitars feel heavy, the score here is very orchestral.  This is not the full on hard rock action of Flash Gordon; this is serious music, the real deal.  Quite frankly you only know it is conducted by the guitarist of Queen via the credits.  And then you discover: it is a completely different Brian May.

Soundtrack fans are the music equivalent of tourists.  Mainstream ears suddenly pick up on classical gestures and nuances.  With the mental music video of a movie in their mind the shapes of the composition (the posh word for song) add an emotive level.  The second track is entitled “Confrontation” and as menacing strings swoop in you cannot help but envisage Mel Gibson getting pounded by Australian desert punks.

Throughout there is a level menace attached to the eight tracks (ahead of a ninth track of fun special effects).  With “Marauder’s Massacre” a beautiful piece of work is given an ugly name as the vibrant direction changes encapsulate somewhere blood being spilled.  The frenetic movements are jagged in design done to keep and match up with the noted harsh editing of the motion picture.  And then it all ends with a menacing rattle.  This was the future.

With track nine all hell breaks loose as earlier composition “Break Out” is mixed into an “SFX Suite” designed to display how sound effects were used in the score as in essence instruments.  These wonders include the anarchic gems “Boomerang Attack”, “Gyro Flight”, “The Big Rig Starts” and “The Refinery Explodes”.  To incorporate sounds in such a method was groundbreaking.

I must concede the liner notes by Tom Null cannot be topped with his comment: “the music is suffused by a profound melancholy for the losses mankind has sustained”.

Offerings from this album later appeared in other movies including The Terminator.

This holiday is over.

Thesaurus moment: stentorian.