The Walkmen have been around a while now, and received a fair amount of wider recognition as a result of appearing on The O.C, alongside their indie-rock masterpiece “The Rat” from 2004′s Bows + Arrows album. I’m sure I read somewhere once that George W. Bush listens to “The Rat” when he goes jogging… If anyone can verify that I’d appreciate it?!
The band have a rep as one of those Christmassy bands – their dense sound seems to lend itself to chilly nights, and they’ve recorded a few seasonal numbers in their time.
Their 2008 album You & Me has been lauded in some quarters as the best of the year. I wouldn’t go that far, but it does have a song called “In The New Year” which follows in the band’s snowy tradition while showcasing them at their best.
The internet is a veritable treasure trove for rare covers, B-Sides and the like. Whilst perusing youtube recently, I came accross a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s classic, Going Down by two of London’s indie kids du jour, Kid Harpoon and Florence and the Machine.
Stripped of the bold drums and flourishing electric guitars of the original, this acoustic version becomes a powerful yet sensitive dialogue between two people in a relationship. As with Florence’s other tracks, her voice is amazing, and harmonises perfectly against Kid harpoon’s lower tones, adding to the poignant mood of the song.
Both Kid Harpoon and Florence and The Machine are ones to watch. If Kid Harpoon’s first two EPs are anything to go by, then the album, due out later this year is going to be a killer. Florence and The Machine has been causing quite a stir on the London live scene over the past few months and has landed herself a slot at this year’s Glastonbury.
Check out the duo after the jump.
Today is a very exciting day. Tickets for Alanis Morissette’s UK tour this summer are on sale and I am the proud owner of two! Making the pilgrimage to Brixton to witness the performance of the queen of angsty rock is really quite a treat, and one I have been unable to indulge in since back in 2005, so I am very, very excited! That Morissette is indeed elusive these days (at least this side of the pond, anyway).
The tour is in aid of Alanis’s eagerly-awaited fifth studio album, Flavours of Entanglement, due for release in June. Following Alanis’s recent personal troubles, the album is heralded to be closer in style to 1995′s classic Jagged Little Pill, than to her latest two, perhaps less interesting, more radio-friendly offerings, Under Rug Swept, and So Called Chaos.
While nothing has been officially released from the album yet, late last year a live performance of ‘Not As We’, a track featured on the album, appeared on You Tube – and it looks promising…
Years ago, a friend lent me the CD single of Eels’ ‘Susan’s House’, from their 1996 debut Beautiful Freak. While I was suitably charmed by ‘Susan’s House’, my 15 year-old, Sylvia Plath-saturated brain was mesmerised by the b-side, ‘Manchester Girl’, a stark, melancholy treat.
Unfortunately, the CD was not mine, and my taped copy has long since bitten the dust, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered Manchester Girl featured on their recent alternative best of, Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Rarities and Unreleased.
Despite having the attention span of a hyperactive monkey, I recently managed to focus for over two hours and watched Anton Corbijn’s biopic of Ian Curtis, ‘Control’. As well as thoroughly enjoying this interesting and highly moving depiction of the rise and sudden fall of Joy Division, my ears were opened to a classic band that I had not really given much time to in the past.
My neglect of Joy Division has nothing to do with not liking their music, but more the fact that they are one of those bands that I knew were a classic, that I would probably really like, but have been all too absorbed in acoustic affairs and the anticipation of Alanis Morissette’s new album to make any time for them. How foolish I have been.
‘She’s Lost Control’, a song inspired by Ian Curtis witnessing a girl having an epileptic fit, a disease that Curtis himself suffered, encapsulates everything that is amazing about Joy Division.
Now I know that I keep harping on about Laura Marling, but I just can’t get over how good her debut, Alas I Cannot Swim is. Often I will fall in love with an album and play it and play it until the CD player gets sick of it and pretends it is broken, but I am yet to tire of this record, so I am in fact going to keep harping on about it until you all go out and purchase it just to see what all the fuss is about.
Flavour of the week from Alas I Cannot Swim is penultimate track (if you don’t count the hidden track) ‘Shine’. This is one of the few tracks on the album that features just Marling and her guitar, rather than a full band. The more basic nature of the song therefore highlight’s Marling’s ability as a lyricist, both in writing and performing.
Mark Ronson is nothing more than a pesky meddler. It is amazing that one man has managed to build such a reputation (and, no doubt, bank balance) by messing with other people’s music. But then where’s the harm in that, eh? Music is all about the sharing, caring, and rehashing of other people’s ideas, is it not? Mark Ronson has just been clever enough to tap into a less subtle, more lucrative version of what every artist since Elvis has been shamelessly doing. Did Winehouse really coin that vocal style? Are the Arctic Monkeys’ razor-edged guitar riffs really their own? I think not.
Amid the furor of the Brit Awards, peddler of the cover version Ronson has this week released a cover of Radiohead’s “Just”, from 1995′s angst-music defining classic The Bends, featuring the smooth vocals of Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald.
Now, I am not a fan of Craaaaaaig David, but there are a number of reasons why I think his new single, “6 of 1 Thing” due to be released on Monday, deserves a place in my humble little column.
Firstly, you have to admire the man’s tenacity. Despite the fact that comedian Leigh Francis has pissed all over Craaaaaaig David’s reputation with his hilarious portrayal of the pop singer in his comedy sketch show Bo’ Selecta!, he repeatedly returns with his signature R n’ B tunes. Like the evil older brother in the film Kes, Craaaaaig David throws the Kestrel with which Francis has burdened his character on Bo’ Selecta! unceremoniously in the bin; a gesture that proudly screams, ‘Cock off Avid Merrion, you can’t stop me’! That Craaaaaig David certainly is a grafter!
Secondly, he deserves recognition for the sheer quality of his Justin Timberlake impression. I don’t think I have seen anyone since JT himself boogie stylishly to a pumping pop tune like Craaaaaig David does!
With more young whippersnappers breaking onto the music scene than you can shake a stick at, it’s important to remember the oldies to whom today’s artists are indebted. The Greatest Song In The World This week, therefore, is “Solid Air”, by none other than the King of English folk-rock, John Martyn. The folk-blues classic that is “Solid Air”, taken from the 1973 album of the same name, set the precedent for the hundreds of guitar-wielding crooners that followed.
Martyn, who this week picked up the coveted Lifetime Acheivment Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards , has over the last forty years released twenty studio albums, most notably ‘Stormbringer‘, with his then wife Beverley Martyn, “Solid Air”, and “Bless the Weather”. Signed to Island records in its early seventies heyday, Martyn has worked with some of the greatest talents of the twentieth century, including Nick Drake, of whom he was a close friend, Fairport Convention, and Eric Clapton.
In January it is only wise to be cautious of over-hyped ‘acts to look out for this year’, but if there is anyone to stamp all over such prejudices, it’s Laura Marling.
Despite having only racked up a mere 17 years on this watery sphere, Marling has already amassed a plethora of songs, not to mention sought-after live appearances including support slots for Devendra Banhart and Jamie T, performing on Later with Jools Holland, and sharing the bill with the likes of Bat for Lashes and Gruff Rhys at Field Day in August.
In anticipation of the release of the limited edition Song Box next Monday, which features a CD of Marling’s debut album Alas I Cannot Swim, an exclusive concert ticket and a set of album mementos, we are treated this week to a taster in the form of “Ghosts“, available for download on iTunes.