June 2020

You Baby – The Mama’s and The Papa’s

A cover of California Dreamin’ by my work choir gets me rooting around The M&P’s back catalouge – something I’d never really done before.

I used to be obssessed with their greatest hits when I got into yoga and meditating; taking acid and listening to their harmonies – their sound reflecting some of the, then, more tendor and comtemporary moments from the Red Hot’s ‘By The Way’ album.

Hey Big Brother – Rare Earth

Rock meets funk in a Burdon-era-‘War’ sound. Let’s overlook the moments it nudges itself towards prog rock and appreciate the big choruses and strutting vocal line.

Proud Mary – Don’t it all look ugly

Something about the style of Rare Earth gets me digging out some old Proud Mary. I saw them support Ryan Adams back in the day and couldn’t believe how ballsy the lead singer was; their debut album fast becoming the soundtrack to my morning alarms and love for double denim.

Dub Pistols – Stand Together

Great 2-tone two-stepper from the Pistols. Directors love a nice flare in music videos don’t they!?

Sinead O’Connor – You Made Me The Thief of your heart

The rebel’s rebel…

Tricky – Fall Please

The new one from Tricky Kid repositions the sounds of his recent output, heading out directly towards the dance floor as opposed to some locked in, claustraphobic, venue.

When they finally get round to putting together a proper retospective of the Trickster, very few British artists will be able to compare…

Charli XCX – I finally understand

The highlight from XCX’s new lock down album takes interesting synth beats and mixes them with a sugary pop melody. London 2-step garage pattern in places, sunny LA optimism in others.

Prince Charles – Don’t fake the funk

Like a mix up of a George Clinton jam and some early Lo-Fidelity All-Stars, The City Beat Band bring an early 80s funk -synth sound and ham it up to sound like the greatest house party you ever missed.

Otis Redding – My girl

Though a regular listener to Otis, I listen to Otis Blue from start to finish for the first time in about a decade one Sunday morning. What strikes the hardest is just how sensational the whole album is when all of the well known singles and cuts are all peiced together. If silk had a voice, would it sound as smooth as this?

Bjork – Venus as a boy

On repeat for most of the month, Debut continues to be one of my favourite alternative albums from the 90s; Venus pouring sugar over the darkest of Trip Hop beats to create a truly original piece of pop. It’s perhaps no suprise that within a few years Ray of Light, Sneaker Pimps and Everything but the girl were topping the chart...

Teenage Fanclub – The Concept

The best part of the fairly awful film Young Adult was the constant repetition of the Fannie’s Concept; Sonic Youth meeting The Byrds.

I missed a gig of theirs once as the previous day I’d run away from a Taxi and knocked myself out by running into a concrete wall. Oh yeah indeed.

David Bowie – Sex and the Church

Bowie takes a vocoder and moves into the 21st century with techno driven beats and a raised eyebrow towards crimes of faith.

I’ve still to read the book..

Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Daylight

Sounding as smooth as ever, and packed out with Philidelphia 70s styled horns, the FLC’s 2018 Daylight sparks with funk guitars and a banging chorus.

Still the coolest band around.

Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto

Years ago I got blazing drunk at a Richard Ashcroft gig and ended up at an indie club in Newcastle; one of the first clubs to combine live music with live music video playbacks.

Halfway through the night Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box made an appearance and even though I’d heard it hundreds of time before, something about my state of mind started a lifelong love for the record. It. All. Made. Sense.

Though not quiet in the same angst space, the first time I watched this video there was something in Bridger’s lo-fi production, loud chorus’s and occassional raw howls which took me back to that moment of falling in love with Cobain. Pop meets angst meets guitars meets interesting videos meets bleeched haired warriors.

Asian Dub Foundation – Stealing the Future

It may not be their most radical work, and it may lack some of the subversion of previous releases, but it’s always nice to have the ADF back in the house. Even if they do sound like a little like Apollo 440 in places…

Paul McCarney – And I love her

Choosing to completely rearrange one of his best known tracks, this MTV unplugged apperance by Macca shows off not just his ability to create perfect two-part harmony lines but also an oft-overlooked desire to take risks both with his own music and also with his audience.

Concert for George – Handle me with care

A trip around the Mccartney live shows inevitably brings you to the heartstopping Prince guitar solo in 2004 and the concert for George where Jeff Lynne manages to pull off Roy Orbisson’s finest emotional chorus. I’ll clean it up myself I guess…

Atlas Air – Massive Attack

Spending most of the month with Heliogoland, this month’s Massive Attack choice album, finds me falling in love with the dance floor beats of Atlas Air and 3d’s distant dreamy vocals.

The perfect British band? You won’t feel a thing

ELO – All over the world

The Handle with me with care video pushes me to dig through old ELO records – this being my favourite in their almost-untouchable back catalouge.

Lifetimes ago I used to be in a 70s dance troupe – we really should have played more ELO.; we could have made up the best dance moves.

Elo – Sweet Talkin’ Woman

It’s all getting out of hand….. Macca leads to the Travelling Wilburry’s, which leads to Lynne, which leads to Elo’s greatest hits, then ELO at Wembley, then ELO at Hyde Park and then to playing Sweet Talkin’ Woman on repeat.

Has there ever been a pop chorus as perfect?

Crack Cloud – Ouster Stew

Mixing 80s new wave sounds with the sample heavy pop kaleidoscope of B.A.D it was perhaps only natural that the Clouders would go on to create a lo-fi, Mad-Max, style video full of themes and sharp twists and turns. As they say as the video plays out ‘based on true shit’.

BAD – The globe

Mention B.A.D and the only polite thing to do is to dig out e=mc2, closely followed by nodding your head along to this, one of the original and best dance/indie crossovers. BAD were years and years ahead of the pack when you listen back to this now. Makes you want to get on one…

Amy Winehouse – Will you still love me tomorrow?

A fantastic play out in a particularly interesting edition of The Newsroom, Winehouse’s voice, set to an acoustic minalism, brings out the jazz undercurrent of an old favourite. The sound of longiness..

Bruce Springsteen – My Hometown

There’s a recent lockdown interview with Simon Critchley which gets me thinking about the way I’m living; am I living like I know I’m going to die?

I’m not sure I am.

Which is probably code for I know I’m not.

I consider this as I walk to meet a friend for a walk; Springsteen’s stripped back vocals getting me thinking about if I give my best everyday and if my grandad would be proud of who I’ve become.

Again, I am not sure I can answer yes to either.

T’Truman – Holiday

Trawling through the new releases on NME.Com can be a bit like shopping in a second hand dvd store – you know there’s something good in there somewhere; you just need to keep going…

Jumping out with a Father John Misty style wit and piano style, praise be to NME for introducing me to this one.

Lindisfarne – Don’t ask me

Still trying to listen as many local acts as I can, in some vauge atempt at being seen as an expert in the music scene of Newcastle, I spent much of June digging into old Lindisfarne records.

There’s some absolute blinders in their back catalouge – but this one’s most likely my favourite – ironically the one which sounds the least like them and the least like it’s been birthed in Newcastle….

Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks

Two FLC’s is one month. Nice.

A scroll through the NME’s top 50 Glastonbury moments is full of the type of self-importance that it sounds like it should be – but this gem – and watching the bounce of the crowd does get a few re-watches.

Lindisfarne – Together Forever

An intro which sounds like early Dylan, a melody sounding like it’s been lifted straight from Laurel Canyon, and lyrics clearly written about the experiences of working class homes in Newcastle – what a little gem.

Abba – Angel eyes

With lock down lifting, I got to spend two evenings with my two neices this month. The oldest one is nearly 13 so I got some ’15’ dvds in, thinking it might help raise a ‘fun uncle’ profile which has been waining in recent months.

As it happens she chooses to ignore all of the dvd’s I bought and instead suggests a Mama Mia double hitter.

I’m not sure how all of the Abba effects my neice but I end the weekend in a fixation, adding Abba books to our bookclub and playing this one on repeat – partly as it’s my favourite and partly as my neice introduced me to some Tik Tok’s of people covering my favourite scene in the second film.

That tag of cool uncle is really on its last legs…

George Benson – The Greatest Love of all

I enjoyed a short peice in q this month on possibly my favourite of all of the Creation albums; Kevin Rowland’s solo album.

I’d always loved the cover of The Greatest Love of All – the way it was sung by Kevin as if it would be his last statement – never realising it was a George Benson original.

I think I still prefer Kevin’s version, but what a great sentiment at its heart.

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe

Kanye West- Wash us in the blood

Edgy, angry and wrapped up in a powerful video – Wash us looks like the return of the most important elements of Kanye.

Abba – Boom A Boomerang

The fascination with Abba has me listening to all of the albums in reverse – the first two see moments of potential; by the third they’re flying with confidence.

I don’t know if I prefer the popping bassline of this, or the 4 part sugary chorus.

Fontaines DC – Televised Mind

I‘ve been a little dissapointed by the first pieces from the second album, but I love everything about this one; the distant vocals, the black/blue imagery, the Sonic Youth/ BRMC darkness and the sheer sexual power of the guitars.