Sunday, 26 April 2009

Show 26/04/09

Yes, oddly enough "tonight"'s show is already here.

As the studio is currently being painted this one is recorded in Most People HQ in Camden. I thought since I've missed the last two weeks I'd better do one today.
Anyway here's the download.


And here's the playlist:

Sonic Youth - Sacred Trickster
Boo and Boo Too - Shimmering Glimmer
Modern Lovers - She Cracked
Big Black - Kerosene (live on the radio)
Bardo Pond - Yellow Turban
Deerhunter - Wash Off
Quasi - California
Sebadoh - A Violet Execution
Galaxie 500 - Strange
Gun Outfit - In the Dark
Comet Gain - You Can Hide Your Love Forever
Rocket from the Tombs - Amphetamine
Moe Tucker - Too Shy
Mission of Burma - That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate

Hopefully we'll be back to normal next week.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Album Feature: Bardo Pond - Amanita (1996)

Here's a new feature I'm going to start doing occasionally, a maybe less-known album which I've been playing a lot recently. Here's the first in the series: Amanita by Bardo Pond. I'll play a track or maybe a couple of the album on the next radio show (I was going to do one on Sunday, but the studio was broken again apparently).

I first became aware of Bardo Pond from the (excellent, by the way) Pavement tribute record, "Everything Is Ending Here". They contribute a blazing version of the rarity "Home", all fuzz guitars, buried vocals and gorgeous feedback trailing guitar freakouts. So when I saw one of their records on one of my second hand record buying expeditions it seemed worth a go. Amanita is their third record, and perhaps their most popular (judging by the usual suspect websites).

And it's easy to see why. It opens with nearly four minutes of a single note drone played on what sounds like two guitars, repeatedly falling away into feedback or dissolving into fuzzy high harmonics. It's a pretty jaw-dropping way to open an album, and when the first track opens up it only gets better. BP construct deeply spacey drony psychedelic rock songs which move and grow with all the monolithic grace of a volcano erupting in slow motion. Most of the songs are based on just a couple of chords, with rock-solid bass and drums anchoring washes of warm fuzzy guitars and some of the best raga-ish streams of guitar and feedback I've heard since Karl Precoda left the Dream Syndicate. The general feel maybe owes a lot to the space-rock scene of Spacemen 3 et. al., but in terms of textures there's a definite shoegaze influence; they sound something like half-finished My Bloody Valentine jams (but better than that sounds)! The wispy female vocals almost recollect some of Kim's more melodic Sonic Youth songs, and in fact that's probably who their approach most reminds me of. They're like a warmer organic counterpart to SY's cold, industrial noise excursions. The lyrics don't make much sense ("Hey Mom, when I grow up I want to be a fish" on the imaginatively titled "Be a Fish"), but they're buried so deep in the mix they become just another component of the wash of sound floating above the wall of feedback. There's a flute in there too from time to time. The record's amazingly laid back, but controlled: the songs last just as long as they need to, and there's sometimes real aggression in the guitar noises.

All in all a really great record, psychedelic not in any cheaply artificial sense but by virtue of carefully constructed soundscapes. It's like a warm bath in aural form. It's also great music to play on an evening wander round the city, as I've been finding over the last week.

It's on Spotify, give it a listen if you have that.

Here's their Pavement cover.

For fans of: loveless-era My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3, Dream Syndicate

This might let you stream it:

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Book recommendation

Here's a book I've just read and really enjoyed. Azerrad tells the stories of thirteen bands, mainly from the punk and hardcore scenes of the early eighties but branching into grunge towards the end.

What comes through most is such a strong spirit of community and of shared experience in all the bands he mentions: the way that even though their music might not have a lot in common the way that the members of the various scenes supported each other. The common difficulties of being in that kind of band at the time I suppose. That, and the DIY principles that everything is built on (it's basically a 400-page lovesong to Ian MacKaye/Dischord sometimes) are pretty cliche by this point but it's a powerful message and one which I think is still valid and important. It's the kind of book that makes you want to do stuff.

Also, Azerrad is pretty good at writing about music. I don't like all the stuff he talks about, but most of it's really good. He's never going to convince me to like grunge, but he's evangelical enough about early noise-rock (Mission of Burma etc.) that I've been prompted to listen to more of it and I'm really enjoying it. Their music still stands up on its own merits, but I have trouble getting really excited about Minor Threat, for example, although I do love Fugazi. Maybe they're just one of those bands you had to be there for.

Anyway the bands he talks about are:
Black Flag
Mission of Burma
Minor Threat
Husker Du
Sonic Youth
Butthole Surfers
Big Black
Dinosaur Jr
Beat Happening

Anyway give it a read, it's good.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

No Show/Kill Twee Pop

No show this week as I'm at home.

But here's some nice stuff to listen to anyway!

I've been rediscovering my first wave twee-pop records this week. Something about the summer really makes them sound better for some reason.

Vaselines - Son of a Gun
I think some band called Nirvana covered this, the original's prettier though. Did you know Kurt Cobain had a K Records tattoo?

Talulah Gosh - Talulah Gosh
The video for this is sort of unsettling. Really, the absolute worst kind of fey white kids. But it's a lovely song! How do I reconcile these opposing views? Not sure. I feel a post about twee coming on.

Here's one way of reconciling it.
Their record "Kill Twee Pop" is actually really good, noisy shouty songs with angry lyrics which somehow sort of remind me a bit of Beat Happening.

Have a good Easter all, see you after the break!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Show 05/04/09

Here's what we played this week. Starts off poppy and goes noisy towards the end.
I love the tracks by Enablers and the Fire Show especially.

Ramones - Carbona not Glue
The Wedding Present - Kennedy
Love is All - Busy Doing Nothing
Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of this Country
Pavement - Ell Ess Two [early version of "Elevate me Later"]
Absentee - They Do it These Days
The Boo Radleys - I Hang Suspended
Wilco - Airline to Heaven
Mclusky - She Will Only Bring You Happiness
The Mountain Movers - Bomb Shelter
Wire - Reuters
Bonnie Prince Billy - My Life's Work
No Age - Brain Burner
Enablers - Kosovo
Spacemen 3 - Transparent Radiation
The Fire Show - The Rabbit of my Soul is the King of his Ghost
Sonic Youth - Hyperstation

And the mp3:

Friday, 3 April 2009


It's been hinted to me that I should write more on here rather than just putting up the playlists (although I can't see how you could not be excited by arbitrary lists of song titles and band names) so here's some thoughts on the EP as a format. I'll post more rants/musings from time to time if I can be bothered. Comment and tell me what you think otherwise this will be futile.

EPs are good. I sometimes think they're my favourite kind of release, just because they're insignificant enough that they don't need to be taken seriously at all, either by the band or by the audience, but they can still be an interesting opportunity for bands to play around with new ideas or just to have fun. Sometimes bands' best work is on EPs. Maybe it's because they're freed from the pressure to repay lots of studio time, or from the necessity of making something the label thinks is going to be commercially succesful enough to warrant them promoting it as they would a full-length album. The other geat thing about the EP is how cheap it is to make - many (most?) really great bands' first release, at least since they started to get current again in the punk period, is an EP or a single of some sort (e.g. Buzzcocks - Spiral Scratch).

Some of my favourites:
Pavement - Watery, Domestic
Nothing particularly revolutionary about this one (beyond the fact that Pavement were moving so fast at this point - just after Slanted and before Crooked Rain - that they pretty much couldn't put a foot wrong) but it does contain at least three of the very best Pavement recordings for my money. Their next EP, Pacific Trim, is pretty great too, in a much different mould. Apparently Spiral Stairs didn't turn up to the recordings for whatever reason so it's a reduced version of the band playing some of Malkmus' most playful songs - Saganaw especially has to be a piss take, and because it's an EP it just doesn't matter. Also, "I Love Perth" off Pacific Trim is the best pop song they ever released.

Rites of Spring - All Through A Life
...being the one where Rites of Spring shifted from their pure hardcore roots (as seen on the classic End on End) and moved in a more considered, thoughtful direction: there's chiming guitars on this which remind me of something as far removed from DC hardcore as early REM. An example of the EP as pointing a new direction in a band's songwriting and sound, maybe, although they sadly broke up before they released anything else.

Belle and Sebastian - Dog on Wheels
Where it began for B&S. 4 songs including a different version of my own favourite B&S track, "The State I Am In" whose recording predates Tigermilk and as such shows the band still in a formative state but with most of the elements in place. Murdoch's songwriting is already great. Plus it has Joanne Kenney on the cover (same as Tigermilk) which is obviously a good thing.
The compilation of the B&S EPs, "Push Barman to Open Old Wounds", is very much worth getting as some of their best stuff's on there and not the albums I think.

Deerhoof - Green Cosmos
My favourite Deerhoof release, I think it's because the EP is a perfect length for their schizophrenic kind of crazed indiepop. A full album's length I tend to get a bit exhausted after half an hour or so but this hits the spot perfectly. Also the first Deerhoof I ever heard.

What do you think about the EP as a form and what are your favourites?