Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tunes for the energy review

Gas prices have spiked due to a recent cold snap in the UK and Ireland. Consequently the press is blaming Jonnie European Foreigner for hoarding all the gas and not letting us have any. Yesterday Tony Blair effectively announced a whole load of new nuclear power stations to combat the current insecurity of supply. I thought of the perfect song to accompany this latest shift in policy.

Ryan Adams Nuclear


Then I started thinking what other songs would fit with the Energy Policy review?

REM It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

Ash Meltdown

Joanne Rand and the Little Big Band Radiation on My Windshield

Can you think of any more? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ryan Adams - 29

The last of the trilogy of Ryan releases is due next month. But if, like me, you're a little impatient, you can hear it in its entirety here

72 Bands? No chance.

Apparently this photo

alludes to the names of 72 bands. For example, there is a guy smashing pumpkins on the ground. Get it? Well, below are the one's I've managed to spot so far. See how many you can do. What have I missed?

Alice in chains
Cowboy junkies
The police
Black Flag
50 Cent
Presidents of the United States of America
Black Crowes
Crowded house
Talking Heads
Beach boys
Red hot chilli peppers
Smashing pumpkins
nine inch nails
matchbox twenty
Scissor sisters
the doors
the manic street preachers
white snake
led zeppelin
the rolling stones
the boombtown rats
the shadows
the eagles
they might be giants (?)
the police

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Comes With A [Final] Smile

I have been privileged enough to contribute to what many people believe as the finest music magazine in existence, Comes With a Smile. A few days ago I found a not from the editor in my in-box. It read much like a scrawled epilogue from a dying friend. I’ve paraphrased it below:

Due for mid-January 2006 publication, Comes with a Smile's landmark twentieth issue looks likely to be our last.

Reluctant to be confined by genre and frankly oblivious to (and frequently appalled by) what constitutes "newsworthy" elsewhere in the media, Comes with a Smile's raison d'etre has always been to engage with our readership via conversations with and critiques of musicians and music that we deem 'important' (without the elitism that suggests), and the overriding impression from your response is that we have succeeded. 'So why stop now?' you ask. In short, we've become victims of our own success. Furthermore I'll admit it's been tough to sustain my various roles at the magazine without a salary and the Idea of entering a ninth year further in the red than at any time since our inception in 1997, seems a foolhardy 'career move' at best. To stop now feels less like turning my back on something and more like turning around to face the wolves who have sat patiently on my doorstep for too long.

I have truly never read a better publication. If there is only one issue left, then if for nothing else than posterity’s sake, I urge you to buy a copy. It’s available in Borders, but go to email Matt the editor and ask him for a copy. If anyone has deep pockets perhaps we’ll see an issue #21 as well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More lions and witches

A friend looked at my blog and said the only thing he liked was the comment on Narnia. So, bearing in mind my audience, here is another.

The BBC profiles Christianity in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Lion, the Witch... is a book that took three months to knock out yet won the hearts and minds of millions.

There can also be few children's books that contain so much theology as the Narnia stories. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is about atonement and resurrection, divine self-sacrifice and redemption. That might sound a bit much for a children's story, and something for parents rather than their audience to pick up on. But not necessarily.'

The Narnia books then are an unusual blend of the Bible, pagan legend, fairy tale, medieval epic, myth and parable. Perhaps the only thing missing is a hobbit.'

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Top ten bands in America today

Largehearted boy has compiled a list of his top ten bands in America today. He and I see eye to eye on some things, both naming Sufjan Stevens as number one. We concur on a few others, his list is as follows. Read his comments and listen to mp3s of the artists here .

1. Sufjan Stevens
2. The Mountain Goats
3. Anthony and the Johnsons
4. The Fiery Furnaces
5. Bright Eyes
6. MF Doom
7. Sleater-Kinney
8. My Morning Jacket
9. CocoRosie
10. John Vanderslice

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wilco rocks my sitting room

The new live wilco album was awaiting my return to Belfast on Sunday night. I made some coffee, slipped it in the cd player and sat back on the couch. The wonderful sound of wilco filled the living room. It was like they were right there with me, I felt as if I should make more coffee. I’ll leave a review soon, but so far, it rocks. The sound of wilco live surpasses the studio versions, and while some albums struggle to convey what being there is like, Kicking Television manages with ease. It was released yesterday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ryan Adams - Jacksonville City Nights

ARTIST     Ryan Adams

ALBUM     Jacksonville City Nights

LABEL     Lost Highway/Universal

Ok, I know this review is a little late. You’ve probably heard Jacksonville by now, but I’ve found it hard to make up my mind. In writing this I’m hoping to exorcise my indecision. I won’t throw the word prolific around but by the law of averages, due to sheer volume of songs Ryan releases, they won’t all be good. They were great on his first couple of solo releases, dipped a lot on Rock ‘n’ Roll, and returned to form on Love is Hell and most of Cold Roses. So is Jacksonville City Nights any good?

Yes and no. Everybody says it’s really country, its Adams trying to be Gram Parsons, and it is, but in a different way to Whiskeytown. And I like his country stuff, but some of this I can’t stomach. Norah Jones on Dear John misfires, I think he had to include it because she sang on it. Pa, and September return to the monanings and groanings of Love is Hell which seems a regression considering the heights of Cold Roses. But then some of the tracks are great which is where my problem lies. I love ‘the end’, ‘a kiss before I go’, ‘hardest part’ and similarly titled ‘hard way to fall’. The band feel is great, like a bar room, whiskey-soaked, honkey tonk piano and pedal steel group.

Lyrically the album treads now-familiar ground. There is lots of death, or suspicion of it (‘September’, ‘Pa’), the pains of love ‘the hardest part’ and missing a lover ‘kiss before I go’. Some tracks has Adams playing the rhyming game, trying to fit as many words as possible into the line. The UK version includes a wonderful version of ‘You were always on my mind’, Adams singing it as if it was written for his voice.
So I’m left if not sitting, if not on the fence, at least leaning against it. Jacksonville is a valuable addition to the Ryan Adams canon, but not the album I had hoped for. 29, his next release is meant to be 9 long sad songs, so perhaps Cold Roses was his best this year.

Do you agree? Leave a comment.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Even more shameless self promotion

A while ago I posted a download of a song I wrote. I know of one person who listened to it. So for that person, here's another. It features the magnificent Paul Campbell from The Smiles. Yet again, it's another demo. This is taken from the Songs from a Spring Day collection.

An incident at a restaurant


Good news! Everybody's favourite Madird-relocated Nashville singer-songwriter Josh Rouse has announced the release of Bedroom Classics Vol 2 EP on Tuesday November 8th via iTunes. According to Josh,'Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2 consists of 5 tracks, some instrumental and some with my voice. I'm excited about it, it's really moody and different from anything I've put out." Apparently the CD will be available at gigs, and a limited quantity from his website, so if you like to have a cover I'd hold out for that.

Other Josh news is a European tour with a date booked at The Village in Dublin on December 8th.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sufjan Stevens links

Linked below are a couple of great Sufjan Stevens articles.

This one is a live review in Tikkun,

and this one is a review in Pitchfork

Both deal with the dichotomy of being loved by critics, adored by fans, yet struggling to find a box to push him into because of his "christian" beliefs.

The Frames

After a flurry of recent posting, things seem to have dried up somewhat. There will be a few more CD reviews coming, but what really has me salivating is the prospect of seeing Ireland's best band, The Frames in Belfast on 20 December at the Ulster Hall. Always a good gig. Rumour also has it that Mogwai are playing a showcase gig of new material at the Spring and Airbrake in January, that should be fun.

To whet your apetite for the Frames live throughout Europe in November and December check out a very recent recording from their chilled out American tour.

The Frames: 2005-10-22, Chicago [flac]