Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
On June the 30th 1998, James released their Greatest Hits, The Best Of James and apart from a couple of missing tracks it was just that. The Best Of. At the time I couldn’t remember a band so due to release a singles collection, with track after track of pure gold it was no surprise that it went down such a storm and brought them in to the public consciousness more than even at their Sit Down peak.
Giving them their first chart topping album the compilation album went double platinum. Suddenly James were everywhere and everyone was discovering old gems they’d not heard before or revisiting old classics. Having just come through Britpop the nation were still loving their guitar bands and this chance to relive the Madchester scene, which came before, was not missed. Often bands release their ‘greatest hits’ when they are splitting up but not James (they’re a band, with lead singer called Tim Booth). They were still going strong and so their next album became eagerly awaited.
Millionaires was released in 1999, only a year after Best Of and actually only two years since their last studio album, Whiplash. Surely riding on the crest of this good feeling wave the band could do no wrong. Yet, for some reason the album wasn’t well received. Hitting only number two in the album charts it was a bit too poppy for some of the older fans and the newer fans didn’t latch on to the singles like they had done with the Best Of. Well apart from me. I loved the album, I played it non stop and while I did like them before Best Of (I bought Whiplash for my girlfriend at the time) it had been the compilation that had really got me in to them.
After that the band seemed to change direction, from a fans point of view they seemed to shirk their new found popular status and instead tried to earn the respect of the critics. Pleased To Meet You was a disappointing effort, charting only at position 11 and bringing them to the end of their contract and going their separate ways. I remember seeing them at this time and being disappointed, they were playing mainly new material and it wasn’t good. One fan next to me shouting “this is bollocks” and sadly I had to agree.
Since then they’ve reformed and Hey Ma, their first album after getting back together was not a bad effort. They’ve also performed live with a choir and orchestra and released a couple of mini albums but none of that gave us an indication they were about to return with an album of Le Petit Mort’s calibre. Wow. Out of nowhere, a cracking album harking back to Millionaires. Yet this time there’s something else there. I can’t work out if it’s maturity or just the confidence to be yourself that comes with age. Opener 'Walk Like You' is a clear example of this, at times complex (it’s over 7 minutes and essentially in three parts) other times it’s simplicity shines through – yes I heard him right he sings "do-be-do" as a lyric at one point.
This theme follows, unashamed to repeating a lyric James use words or lines over and over on many occasions, it can appear lazy with some bands with James it just seems laid back and catchy. Throughout the album they do this and it works. Backed up by synths that at times give the album a Pet Shop Boys feel it really is Millionaires part II.
Le Petit Mort, French of course for the small death, I’m guessing relates to the losses Tim Booth speaks of in the CD booklet. A bit more information on that at All Music, http://www.allmusic.com/album/la-petite-mort-mw0002631516. They state that the decorated skull on the cover is about the Mexican way of celebrating life. This album certainly does that. Don't preview it on iTunes, it doesn't do it any justice (I made that failing but my wife bought it me) just go ahead and order the album, you won't regret it.
Monday, 9 June 2014
With my car breaking down recently I'm a bit stranded and as I contemplate scrapping it my heart sinks. I've only just invested in a new stereo allowing me to plug my iPhone and listen to 32GB of songs. So maybe it was perfect timing to receive The Sunshine Underground's new album on CD. Using one of those old fashioned things in my wife's car was the only way I was going to listen to any new music. It's a mixed bag as albums go, a real step away from their previous albums, certainly a long way from their first album which I particularly enjoyed. Out goes the guitars and in comes electronica. Not a big surprise as I'd already heard their new material when I saw them live. Album opener 'Start' particularly stood out live (I think they opened with it funnily enough) but I've really got hooked on the catchy 'It Is Only You' above. I just hope I don't get bored of it before I sort my car out. It will have been a month since it died tomorrow...
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
I thought the last Kooks song was interesting, this one has me wanting to hear it again but I can't put my finger on it. Must be the strange combination of them and a soul choir. Check it out on the video above, taken from when they were on Alan Carr's show, it's pretty good and goes well with "What Makes A Good Man" that was featured on this blog a month or so ago.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Fight Like Apes have recently made it in to my Top 25 Most Played for the great pop single "I'm Beginning To Think..." (my four year old daughter also likes the track) and yet I didn't put two and two together when this track popped in to my inbox. You can certainly see their progression from "I'm Beginning..." through "Jenny Kelly" and Crouching Bees is not a million miles from either. Check it out, they're on a short tour at the moment (dates below) backing up the release of the track on a four track EP called Whigfield Sextape. They hit Bristol on the Monday the 12th, the day the EP comes out.
– Louth, Bellurgan Park Vantastival – Manchester, Kraak – York, The Duchess – Brighton, The Alt Escape (BSM/Alcopop! Stage) – London, Birthdays – Bristol, Exchange
Friday, 4 April 2014
It's been a while since we've featured the music from an advert but I used to put tracks up quite regularly that feature on adverts. Now I watch less ads, as well all do, box sets and hard disk recorders have reduced the viewing figures of the 30 second art. However I have seen the latest Guinness advert, even if my most recent view was on a YouTube advert. The well dressed men of Congo feature with the background of the great soul track 'What Makes A Good Man?' by The Heavy.
Monday, 31 March 2014
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
A little while ago I wrote about a band from Hull called LIFE and they're really starting to live up to the hype I have for them in my head. Their latest single is out now and follows in the form of the previous tracks.
Sadly they don't come anywhere near me on their brief initial tour:
Sadly they don't come anywhere near me on their brief initial tour:
11th Mar The Sesh (Free) HULL
13th Mar The Sun at The Station BIRMINGHAM
15th Mar Crash Records (Free Instore) LEEDS
15th Mar Pop Sex Ltd (Free Instore) SUNDERLAND
19th Mar The Garage LONDON
20th Mar Bunkers DUNDEE (Free)
21st Mar Factory Records GLASGOW (Free)
22nd Mar Cellar 35 ABERDEEN
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Sometimes I post about a track to say listen to this, this band are good. Sometimes I just find tracks that interest me and I think they might interest you. This is more the later. The Kooks, remember them? Well they're back with 'Down'. The lead singer's voice is as individual as ever, the sound, well it's a new way for them to go, more soul and funk...