Well, it feels like one, doesn’t it? Am already one week late with this thanks to illness, so one more day isn’t going to make much more of a difference… Not quite sure what’s going to be happening this week as proper work is going to take up almost all of my time, but it’s also the start of what seems to be a very busy period here – new arrivals both anticipated and surprising starting (hopefully) tomorrow and then carrying on until the end of May. And to think, I’ve been bored lately.
Whatever passes for normal service around here will be resumed next week. Probably.
The Decemberists – Calamity Song
From their “let’s be REM for a bit” album The King Is Dead, it’s probably fitting that one of the highlights is more or less a re-imagining of It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), combining a jaunty tune with some very odd lyrics indeed (“We heaved relief as scores of innocents died”). It’s fun, it’s silly, and it’s ideal “first song of the day” material.
Plum – Secret Roots
There’s something rather onomatopoeic about the word Traitor - the pronunciation can’t help but spit accusation and betrayed outrage, and it seems to be a curiously underused word in music. Even when sung as softly and calmly as it is here, the word positively drips with venom and “ooh, probably best not to ask” sentiment during the chorus to this angry yet strangely upbeat tune (possibly the most ‘pop’ amongst the myriad other things going on in here) from Plum’s very good and very new album The Seed.
Richard Hawley – Leave Your Body Behind You
Look, he’s gone all noisy! Mr Hawley’s current single and trailblazer for his upcoming new set sees him turning his guitar up a few notches and competes more than adequately with whoever the new indie upstarts are these days since Viva Brother split up. There’s a delightful air of relaxed and general bigness afoot here, and a colourful late ’60s patina that would suggest that this will be the the song that will be the TV continuity people’s backing track of choice throughout the summer.
Paul Giovanni – Festival/Mirie It Is/Sumer Is A-Cumen In
Despite the latter part looking as if it had been originally written by Slade, this mix of largely jolly (and occasionally spookily discordant) songs are older even than Noddy Holder’s chums. Celebrations as they are of the oncoming summer are great reminders of the thanksgivings of our past, and Edward Woodward chipping in at the end gives a charming Christian counterpoint to it all. Unless he’s just chasing his dog again. Easter films don’t get any better than The Wicker Man.
Richard Warren – The Wayfarer
A rather apt track at the moment. There doesn’t seem to be much knocking about these days in the way of Protest Songs, despite a rather urgent requirement for them to be everywhere. Warren digs back to the grand old days of Thatcherism for this gem, combining apocalyptic imagery with colliery brass to bring us a song that fits in with any disaffected generation and community that has suffered (or will suffer) at the hands of those who govern for their own benefit. Performed not so much as the pious casting the wicked down as an infernal rising up to claim their quarry, it’s a stirring warning of the times ahead.
Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Speaking of which, here’s another vision of future chaos and a rallying call against complacency from further back (1970 originally, although this version’s from a bit later), and although some of the names, corporations and brands may have fallen by the wayside since this was recorded, they have been eagerly supplanted by new ones. Although well-aware of him and his work prior to his death last year, actually getting into him has taken a while and I’m only recently finding myself under a ton of his recorded output. He may not always be there to be agreed with, but that’s the best way of finding one’s own opinions.
Victims Family – God, Jerry And The PMRC
And continuing this slightly bolshy trend, we come to this excellent anti-censorship ditty. It’s quite sad really: around the mid-to-late 1980s, there was a whole host of anti-censorship (and specifically anti-PMRC) movements, fundraisers and a huge groundswell of independent opposition to proposed rules about the censoring and labelling of “offensive” content in music, proposed by US politician’s wife Tipper Gore. Fast-forward to 2012, and it’s saddening to see “PARENTAL ADVISORY” labels on CD covers worldwide, not to mention later generations of punk and hip-hop artists falling over each other to self-censor in order to get radio play. If the counterculture can’t even be bothered nowadays, there’s no hope for any of us. At least the song here’s a fun reminder of how cultural opposition used to sound.
Half Man Half Biscuit – Upon Westminster Bridge
And from that, a general mood-lightener in the form of a band who don’t really bother with any of that sort of thing and instead take delight in being irritated by pretty much anything. This particular entry contains a suitably Easter-themed passage, a dilemma regarding Mötley Crüe (is that where the dots go? I neither know nor especially care) and the correct pronunciation of Nick Knowles. This is a band that never fails to cheer, thanks to a ludicrous choice of targets that I can’t fail to agree with at every turn.
Spiritualized – Hey Jane
Along with Hawley’s effort above, Jason Pierce chips in with another candidate for Song Of The Summer, albeit on his own unique terms – at 9 minutes long, the chances of it being aired during T4 At The Beach remain somewhat slim. Their loss though, as it’s a beautiful song which is sort of typical Spiritualized in that it retains Spaceman’s bluesy gospel sound, sprinkled here with something that little bit brighter to put it in happier strata than is perhaps usually expected from him. Album’s out in just over a week, can’t wait.