Hater – S/T

haterThis record is a strange thing to behold.  When I started out doing this blog, this was one of the ones that was always on my mind to include, but it always ended up slipping through the cracks and I went off to do something else.  Until I next heard a bit of it pop up at random intervals either in the car or walking about, and once more the “right, I must do something on this…” thought pops up again until I get home and it’s gone again.  This has happened to me so many times that I’ve just spent the best part of an hour looking back to make sure that I haven’t already done this…

 

(more…)

Mudhoney – I’m Now

Mudhoney--Im-Now-The-Story-Of-MudhoneyFirst of all, a heartfelt “Happy 25th Birthday!” from this idiot scribe to the lovely people of Sub Pop Records.  Which feels kind of strange in a way as, to put everything in an awful “how on Earth did that happen?” historical context, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon was a mere 15 years old when Touch Me I’m Sick was recorded.

I’ll just let the older viewers allow that to sink in for a moment.

Right.  So anyway, central to just about everything that made (and nearly broke) Sub Pop the name they are today is Mudhoney.  Not was, is.  So this documentary isn’t just about where they’ve been, but where they’re off to next.

(more…)

Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

The other night’s Old Grey Whistle Test-a-thon on the ludicrously-endangered BBC4 was a lovely throwback to those rare nights where a very young me got to stay up very late to watch this strange programme.  Lots of beards, lots of Whispering Bob Harris, and lots of music that simply didn’t get played anywhere during hours when most people were usually awake.  This was the realm of Album Bands in all their serious glory, performing long songs live in a bare set to an audience comprising entirely of Bob and a cameraman or two (if I remember rightly, Freebird pretty much got played in its entirety).  1977 pretty much saw it off, but – like the Sunday afternoon ritual in the house when Mountain’s Nantucket Sleigh Ride was the themetune to heavyweight current affairs show Weekend World – this strange stuff from “that other continent” was never that far away despite punk’s best efforts to at least trim down the excesses.  And of late, thanks to a general leaning towards American music’s roots of late, it’s probably not that surprising that the Starkicker’s 40th anniversary is coincidentally marked by a record that would have felt utterly at home in its sparsely-lit grotto heyday.

(more…)

The Head and the Heart – S/T

*cracks fingers*

Right.  Due to a combination of a bunch of vouchers and a rush of high-quality releases of late, I have A Backlog.  And with more stuff arriving in the mail today and a lipsmacking array of goodies due over the next fortnight, I’d better get a shift on.  Although I promise I won’t be going on about the surprise new Radiohead until it’s had plenty of time to bed in, unlike everyone else this week (it is rather good though)!

 

First up on the list today is one that I’ve again had for a wee while and been meaning to mention since I first heard it.  This is certainly one of those acts where they are going to be talked about by more and more people with every media snippet and radio mention until before you know it they will be lauded from every street corner.  They’re already snowballing nicely enough as it is, so I’d better get this done and out of the way before everyone else does…

(more…)

Daniel Martin Moore – In The Cool Of the Day

Something that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s music industry is the Short Album.  With CD capacity expanding and digital space almost limitless, artists seem hellbent on filling as much room as possible with their thoughts and ideas whether or not all of those ideas were especially good ones.  It’s as if a fear has gripped recording types the world over, inducing a panic that if they increased the quantity then nobody would notice the quality if the latter was cause for concern.

There’s nothing wrong with a proper Long Player – there are some great and classic sprawlers out there, both past and present, as well as some briefer works that could have been better for having a bit more going on.  But back in the days when an album’s worth was judged on something to do with maximising the sound potential of the grooves on a 12″ record, and more importantly if it could fit on one side of a C90 cassette (a philosophy somewhat at odds with the “Home taping is killing music” ethos of the time, but hey – you couldn’t take a record player to the park), the emphasis was on a maximum 45 minutes’ worth of brilliance, with any extra stuff squirrelled away for future single-based usage.

 

Due to the somewhat silly rules applied by whoever it is that presides over eligibility for UK record sales charts, the shortest official Long Playing album I own is Nuclear Assault’s Good Times Bad Times – which is five tracks and seven minutes, 27 seconds long.  Which, if nothing else, is handy for timing boiling rice.

Less silly examples of more “proper” short albums that are so perfect in length are Slayer’s Reign in Blood (which in fairness was probably an hour-long epic when they started, before they decided to see just how fast they could do it), Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, The Lemonheads’ It’s a Shame About Ray and Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence – all of which clock in at under half an hour.  Any longer would just be over-egging the pudding.  And this new one from Kentucky’s Daniel Martin Moore, from an idea plucked from the ether when sat at an old piano, fits the bill of being more than good enough to know exactly how to pitch a record that is exactly as long as it should be.  Which is a lot more than can be said for me when it comes to hammering out overlong preambles such as this.

 

(more…)

Daniel Martin Moore – Stray Age

It’s been a strange, serendipitous last few days.

I was watching political argument show Question Time on the TV last Thursday, broadcast from the lovely surroundings of the De La Warr Pavillion in the English South Coast town of Bexhill-on-Sea.  It was in this venue in December 2008 that I saw a brilliant Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan set (ably supported by The Miserable Rich), which put the tin hat on a great (once we found where the thermostat was – it was December and bloody freezing) few days spent with a couple of friends in an apartment that couldn’t be closer to the sea if it tried.

This of course set off a period of both reminiscing about time spent, as well as wishful thinking about revisiting if only a decent excuse presented itself.  The decent excuse presented itself shortly afterwards, when a friend alerted me to the fact that Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore, creators and performers of one of my favourite albums of this year so far in Dear Companion, had announced UK dates in support of Billy Bragg.  And further rummagings revealed that they indeed were to appear under the lovely art deco roof of the DLWP.  This may well be the furthest I’ll be travelling to see a support act, and I can’t wait.

So, all this good fortune caused me to dig out Daniel Martin Moore’s 2008 debut Stray Age, one of my most-listened to albums of recent years.

(more…)

Mark Lanegan – The Winding Sheet

Blimey, this album’s twenty years old this month…

I didn’t pay an awful lot of attention to this album when it came out, mostly due to the cover – nothing wrong with it, but when almost all of Sub Pop’s other covers had been kinetic, frantic onstage affairs, this pic of Mark Lanegan sat on a chair didn’t really sell it to me.

It was the following year, when I bought the Sub Pop Video Network Volume 1 vid that I first heard a song, Ugly Sunday from this, and I went back into Manchester the next day and bought the record.

(more…)

Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore – Dear Companion

Following on from last night’s rant, here is something from this year that similarly wears its heart on its sleeve in terms of being angry about specific issues, but puts its point across in a more gently reasoned way.

It’s also one of my favourite albums released so far this year, and stands out for me as it’s one of those records that I could not see my younger self even giving the time of day to, let alone take it to heart as much as I do now.  This is because my younger self was an even bigger idiot than I am now.  And that’s some going.

(more…)

Screaming Trees – Change Has Come

Getting hold of this record was definitely a pivotal “right record, right place, right time” thing for me.  Those early days of Sub Pop were a genuinely exciting time, as with so much to pick and choose from in those heady days before the internet came along and spoilt every last vestige of surprise, you were never quite sure what you were going to end up with.  It didn’t help that Sub Pop’s 7″ releases were all similarly designed, with the band’s name and title on a strip at the top of the sleeve, with a B&W photo of the band in question taking up the rest of the cover. (more…)