Tuesday 11 June 2024

Never Ending Mixtape part 91


 

Hola

Welcome to part 91 of my Never Ending Mixtape which has almost reached the 4,000 songs landmark as we jump from 3,859 songs to 3,896!

There is the usual mix of recent discoveries, new releases and old favourites. How did I get to almost 4,000 songs without adding Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads?! I must do a feature blog on that soon!

Anyway, as always, I hope you find a song you love or that you rediscover something you haven't heard in years. Play from the start, the middle, the end of click shuffle and see where it takes you.

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Recent discoveries

Bored by Waxhatachee

Hannah by City Parking

Soul Sister by Allen Toussaint

Every Time The Sun Comes Up by Sharon Van Etten

New releases

The Human Race by Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band

Haven't You Heard by Arab Strap

Keep Your Secrets Close by The Reds The Pinks & The Purples

Old favourites

Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads

Keep The Car Running by Arcade Fire

Coffee & TV by Blur

Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Teenage Wasteland by The Who

Into Tomorrow by Paul Weller

Fade Away by Oasis



Friday 7 June 2024

I Can Do It With A Broken Heart

 

Rather weirdly, I got into Swift through my old 7-a-side football friend Craig who manages Mogwai's Rock Action label! Craig has superb taste in pop music and highlighted We Are Never Getting Back Together on his social channels many years ago. 1989 was my eldest daughter Zoe's first album!

Like many other fans of pop music, I've fallen for Taylor Swift. What an incredible artist, songwriter, performer and role model Swift is. 

Now, my youngest daughter Rosie (age 9) is a proud Swiftie and I love when she tells me that what she was up to at playtime and lunchtime at school - "Me and my friends were talking about Taylor Swift's albums."

I recently walked behind Rosie and her friend on the way to our local coffee shop and listened in to one of their conversations. I wanted to join in! Swift is inspiring young kids to buy and discuss albums. Incredible!

As a family, we debated about trying for tickets to see Taylor play Murrayfield. I did log on, but there were only 600 quid tickets left. Pretty much on the stage! But 4 tickets would be 2,400! Going on holiday over a one-off night out (no matter how good that night out might be) won over. 

Now, with Taylor's run of Murrayfield gigs coming up this weekend. I kind of wish we'd just bought the tickets ... although we'd be paying for them for quite some time!

Recently, Rosie introduced me to new song I Can Do It With A Broken Heart and we have been playing it pretty constantly in the house and in the car. 

Somehow this incredible slice of pop perfection didn't make the 'normal' version of Taylor Swift's latest album (her 11th) The Tortured Poets Department. For most artists, this would be a lead single. However, Swift is so prolific that I Can Do It With A Broken Heart is tucked in on the Anthology version which contains 31 songs and over 2-hours of music. Taylor has now released a remarkable 274 songs in her career. Incredible!

Starting slow and then kicking in with what feels like two sets of choruses, I Can Do It With A Broken Heart deserves a doctorate in pop music.  There are count-in's, clever lyrics, hooks galore and shimmering synths and beats that work so well with Swift's melodies.

A video has been released with professionally shot tour footage and the lyrics at the bottom. It works perfectly as Swift sings of having to go on tour post break-up with a broken heart.

Official video

A short first verse has Taylor reflecting on what her fans are thinking - she's having the time of her life, touring the world, playing sold out shows, making millions ... but the kiss off line is I can show you lies and then a 1, 2, 3 , 4 count into the pre-chorus.

The pre-chorus builds beautifully, it is classic Swift, a nice use of swearing, tumbling flowing melodies and Taylor pouring her heart out.

Cause I'm a real tough kid

I can handle my shit

They said - 'babe you gotta fake it 'til you make it' and I did

Lights, camera, bitch smile

Even when you wanna die

He said he'd love me all his life

But that life was too short

Breaking down I hit the floor

All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting - MORE

I was grinnin' like I'm winnin'

I was hittin' my marks

'Cause I can do it with a broken heart

Shimmering synths and beats kick in for the chorus proper. Be warned - this is SUPER CATCHY AND COOL! 

I'm so depressed I act like it's my birthday, every day

I'm so obsessed with him but he avoids me, like the plague

I cry a lot but I am so productive, it's an art

You know you're good when you can even do it, with a broken heart

BOOM! All delivered in precisely 1-minute 36 seconds. So good that it's time to do it all again. Another short verse has Swift still searching for her ex's belongings to ensure she didn't imagine the whole relationship. 

COUNTDOWN

That stunning pre-chorus

COUNTDOWN

BOOM

The super catchy chorus again (honestly - how good is this?!!)

Swift is in the zone and isn't quite ready to finish, the beats keep going, the synths still bubble and shimmer as Taylor realise how good she is at doing it in spite of everything. There is humour but also exceptional honesty as she declares;

I'm miserable

And nobody even knows

Before another beautiful kiss off ah, try and come for my job

WOW! Pop perfection. 

Taylor Swift plays Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on June 7th, 8th and 9th. She is a pop superstar. Enjoy if you're catching here in Scotland or elsewhere. 

I Can Do It With A Broken Heart is added to my Trust Me playlist; search for Everything Flows - Trust Me on Spotify or CLICK HERE 

Check below for all previous blogs in my Trust Me series.

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland
9. The Ship Song by Nick Cave
10. Sometimes by James
11. I Walk The Earth by King Biscuit Time
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
37. How High by The Charlatans
38. I Can't Let Go by Evie Sands
39. Pop Song 89 by R.E.M.
40. Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
41. There She Goes by The Las
42. We're Going To Be Friends by White Stripes
43. Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo
44. Sister Rena by Lomond Campbell
45. Revolution by The Beatles
46. Lazarus by The Boo Radleys
47. Wrote For Luck by Happy Mondays
48. American Trilogy by The Delgados
49. Loser by Beck 
50. Silent Sigh by Badly Drawn Boy
51. Comedy by Shack
52. Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven
53. Freakscene by Dinosaur Jr
54. Thank You For Being You by The Pastels
55. I Think I'm In Love by Spiritualized
56. Chestnut Mare by The Byrds
57. Cannonball by The Breeders
58. Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
59. You Make Me Weak At The Knees by Electrelane
60. Lucky by Radiohead
61. Strange Currencies by R.E.M.
61. I Am The Cosmos by Chris Bell
62. Like A Ship (Without A Sail) by Pastor TL Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir
63. Nothing But A Heartache by The Flirtations
64. Made of Stone by The Stone Roses
65. Tonight In Belfast by Orbital, David Holmes, DJ Helen and Mike Garry
66. Anything by Adrianne Lenker
67. I Hold Something In My Hand by Bill Ryder-Jones
68. I Meant Every Word by Burnett Sisters
69. Dream Baby Dream by Suicide
70. Stove by The Lemonheads
71. Red Lady by Phil Cordell
72. Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb



I Can Do It With A Broken Heart official video

Wildest Dreams









I cry a lot, but I am so productive, it's an art
You know you're good when you can even do it with a broken heart


All Too Wel


Cruel Summer

The middle-eight is s

I'm drunk in the back of the car

And I cry like a baby coming home from the park


Monday 3 June 2024

Little Fluffy Clouds

Trust me #72

Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb

The first time I heard The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds was in my friend Reddy's bedroom, which somehow packed in; a tropical fish tank, technics decks and speakers, a HiFi set up for CD's, CD stand and record storage. The walls were plastered with posters including Anna Friel, Bjork, The Future Sound Of London and Pop Will Eat Itself. 

As the posters suggested, Reddy had (and has) rather eclectic taste in music. It was in this room that I'd get turned on to more electronic based sounds like the aforementioned Future Sound Of London, Jam and Spoon and .... The Orb.

Hearing The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds for the first time was a genuine 'what the f**k is this?' moment when everything stopped to allow me to soak it all in. We may have been a little spangled when this happened - quite the trip!

Beginning with the question - what were the skies like when you were young? The American singer Rickie Lee Jones goes on to paint a vivid picture in her answer. Jones' voice is beautiful and trippy, enhanced by all kinds of bubbling and squelching synths underneath that eventually come to the surface to take over.

They went on forever
We lived in Arizona and the skies always had little fluffy clouds in them
They were long ... and clear .... there were lots of stars at night

The sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire

You don't see that. You might still see them in the desert.

It turns out that The Orb didn't have permission to sample Jones voice and later paid $5,000. Jones, allegedly wasn't happy about the sample. The Orb also sampled drums from Nilsson's Jump Into The Fire, slowing them from 45rpm to 33rpm.

The Orb playing chess on Top of the Pops!

Little Fluffy Clouds is an absolutely perfect record. A perfect song. A perfect 10. Ambitious, cool and absolutely timeless. So timeless, it still sounds ahead of its time. Does that make sense? I don't care. I'm almost lost for words trying to describe its beauty.

Layering different sounds, layering different sounds is one of the samples. The Orb layer the sound with imagination, precision and skill. The production is atmospheric, the lush synths, sounds of nature, lawnmowers and planes is trippy and beautiful. Somehow it all works and the production is key to that. Close your eyes and you could be floating among the clouds with Rickie Lee Jones as your guide and The Orb as your pilots.

The Orb, led by Alex Paterson formed in 1988 and it's safe to say that Little Fluffy Clouds laid the foundations for them to still be recording and touring all these years down the line. 

Quite simply, it doesn't get any better than this.



Little Fluffy Clouds is added to my Trust Me playlist; search for Everything Flows - Trust Me on Spotify or CLICK HERE 

Check below for all previous blogs in my Trust Me series.

Previous Trust Me blogs

1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras
7. In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
8. The Music Box by Ruth Copeland
9. The Ship Song by Nick Cave
10. Sometimes by James
11. I Walk The Earth by King Biscuit Time
12. Didn't Know What I Was In For by Better Oblivion Community Centre
13. When My Boy Walks Down The Street by The Magnetic Fields
14. The Man Don't Give A F**k by Super Furry Animals
15. All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun by Jeff Buckley and Liz Fraser
16. Are You Lookin' by The Tymes
17. A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth
18. Feelings Gone by Callum Easter
19. Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground
20. Did I Say by Teenage Fanclub
21. Don't Look Back by Teenage Fanclub
23. Belfast by Orbital
24. Clouds by The Jayhawks
25. Dreaming Of You by The Coral
26. Everlasting Love by Love Affair
27. Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
28. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones
29. Shaky Ground by Sneeze
29. Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
30. I Can Feel Your Love by Felice Taylor
31. The State We're In by The Chemical Brothers w/ Beth Orton
32. Sunshine After The Rain by Ellie Greenwich
33. Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem
34. Mondo 77 by Looper
35. Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
36. Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
37. How High by The Charlatans
38. I Can't Let Go by Evie Sands
39. Pop Song 89 by R.E.M.
40. Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
41. There She Goes by The Las
42. We're Going To Be Friends by White Stripes
43. Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo
44. Sister Rena by Lomond Campbell
45. Revolution by The Beatles
46. Lazarus by The Boo Radleys
47. Wrote For Luck by Happy Mondays
48. American Trilogy by The Delgados
49. Loser by Beck 
50. Silent Sigh by Badly Drawn Boy
51. Comedy by Shack
52. Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven
53. Freakscene by Dinosaur Jr
54. Thank You For Being You by The Pastels
55. I Think I'm In Love by Spiritualized
56. Chestnut Mare by The Byrds
57. Cannonball by The Breeders
58. Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
59. You Make Me Weak At The Knees by Electrelane
60. Lucky by Radiohead
61. Strange Currencies by R.E.M.
61. I Am The Cosmos by Chris Bell
62. Like A Ship (Without A Sail) by Pastor TL Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir
63. Nothing But A Heartache by The Flirtations
64. Made of Stone by The Stone Roses
65. Tonight In Belfast by Orbital, David Holmes, DJ Helen and Mike Garry
66. Anything by Adrianne Lenker
67. I Hold Something In My Hand by Bill Ryder-Jones
68. I Meant Every Word by Burnett Sisters
69. Dream Baby Dream by Suicide
70. Stove by The Lemonheads
71. Red Lady by Phil Cordell



Monday 27 May 2024

In Giraffe by Adventure Team

 

Over the last month I have really fallen for Adventure Team, a multi-national trio who are based in Berlin. The Monorail mailing list was responsible for my introduction to the band. This particular email was written by Lauren who also happens to be releasing Adventure Team's new album In Giraffe via her Heavenly Creatures record label.

Lauren's passion for this band and record leapt off my screen and into my heart. I checked out their 2018 album Anyone Can Draw and was immediately sucked in by the glorious guitar sounds spread beautifully throughout. Lauren has also snapped up The Cords (interview here), so I'm keeping a very close eye on Heavenly Creatures. It could be my new favourite record label!

Adventure Team are Jonathan, Ian and Juan and in the email Lauren wrote beautifully of the band driving 17-hours while listening to Teenage Fanclub, The Clean and Yo La Tengo. The trio were heading for a remote farmhouse north of Bordeaux, where they recorded In Giraffe in only 3-days. 

'There is one song that was written as a blatant Dinosaur Jr. rip-off ... Sucker from Outer Space ... as a reaction to getting constantly compared to them.' Jonathan

Guitar sounds crash, collide, jangle, blur and beautifully push the needle into red at times. The title comes from Marshall Rosenberg's theory that giraffes speak the language of the empathetic connection.

A friend turned me on to Marshall around the time I was writing the record. 

It's a plea for overcoming our differences with each other. Jonathan

Lets get back to the music!

Fuzzy, scuzzy guitars that can take off and soar, or just chime along in the background as if the band were recorded jamming and then came up with the vocals and melodies over the top.

Listen to the middle instrumental in Goodbye Zen Arcade head for the sun and then drop back down, or the intro to Quench (fantastic song title) that you'd happily let run on for 5-minutes. There's an urgency to Spinning, it sounds like vocals are traded and the guitars are just sublime.

Got off from a train

Same as yesterday

No-one said a word

My head gets spinning

Winegum is a real favourite of mine. There is another delicious intro that will make you pause and consider if electric guitars are capable of the coolest and most beautiful sounds of all time. Birds singing? Babies gurgling? Or Adventure Team jamming and sounding super glorious? I love that we go back a long, long time refrain.

Anyway, I was delighted to discover that Adventure Team were in a position to add two Scottish dates to their tour diary. So I got in touch to see if they would answer a few questions. Thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to answer.

Adventure Team play Bar BLOC, Glasgow on Thursday 13th June (free entry) and Leith Depot, Edinburgh on Friday 14th June.

Interview with Jonathan Stroemer from Adventure Team

EF - Who is in Adventure Team? How did you meet and form?

Adventure Team are Ian Tilling, Juan Carrizo and myself, Jonathan Stroemer. Ian, who plays drums in Adventure Team, is a musician, game programmer and astrophysicist originally from Shropshire. He also sings and plays guitar in his own fantastic band Grief Scene and he used to be in Trapped Mice, back when he was still living in Scotland and Leoprrrds during his early days in Berlin. 

Juan, our bass player, is a musician, videographer and DJ from Córdoba, Argentina. He used to play guitar in Les Leitmotif. Myself, I’m originally from a small village in the Sauerland, a rural area in the West of Germany. 

I started Adventure Team in 2015, as a vehicle for my songwriting. Around the late summer of that year, I met our first bass player Emile Cerf through a Craigslist ad, him and I shortly after recruited my old friend Malte Quiter on drums. We played our first show at The Sunday Matinee in November of that year. The Sunday Matinee is an inclusive, monthly DIY concert series friends of mine from bands like nunofyrbeeswax, Brabrabra, Apostrophe and Jetzt werd ich dumm had just started in Berlin around then. It’s actually still going, I joined them in organising the Matinee early in 2016. These days, besides a little bit of booking, I’m mostly doing sound on the actual days of the event. 

Before I moved to Berlin, I used to live in Hamburg for a few years, where besides failing to get together a band for my own stuff, I studied historical musicology. I still played lead guitar in a band with some friends of mine though and we played gigs around town. At the point I arrived in Berlin, I’d almost given up hope of ever finding people to play with— I remember thinking that perhaps being in a band was a thing of the past I as a late-born had missed out on. Thankfully, all that changed when my friend Bastian from the band I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, whom I’d just randomly met at Barry Burns’ Neukölln bar Das Gift, dragged me along to a Brabrabra gig, which was my first real touching point with the Berlin DIY music scene.

In the aftermath of our first gig at The Sunday Matinee, Emile, Malte and me started playing a lot of shows around Berlin and we went on a first short tour with nunofyrbeeswax around Northern Germany in 2016. We also played at a few small festivals. In 2017, we recorded our first album “Anyone Can Draw” with my friend Jaike Stambach. The album came out on cassette tape in early 2018 on Dutch indie label Geertruida. We continued to play around Berlin as much as we could, but Malte’s and Emile’s personal responsibilities made scheduling a real ordeal. In late 2019, Emile told us that he wanted to leave the band to focus on his illustration work. A few months passed without any leads for a successor and I was starting to feel pretty desparate, until one day in January 2020, out of the blue, Juan contacted the band account on social media. It turned out he’d seen us play with The Goon Sax and he was a fan of the band. Juan had just arrived in Berlin the previous year, via Copenhagen, which had been his first stop in Europe after having spent a year travelling and working around New Zealand. Him and I immediately bonded over our mutual fandom of Flying Nun Records (specifically Here Come The Cars by The Clean’s David Kilgour) and Television Personalities. About a month after we’d first met, we'd built up a live set again and we managed to book a few shows around Berlin for the spring of the same year. Of course, that’s when the pandemic started.

When live music finally came back in Berlin, quite a bit later than in the UK, it became apparent that Malte’s focus had shifted away from playing with the band. After a longer period of no communication whatsoever around the summer of 2022, fate had it that Ian was playing at The Sunday Matinee with his electronic solo project Hex Organ. As we were chatting, Ian signalled cautious interest in joining the band on drums, which was further propelled by the encouragement of his girlfriend Rachel. Apparently Anyone Can Draw had been on heavy rotation in their flat throughout the pandemic, so when we finally had a first practice together a few weeks later, he already had a pretty good grasp of some of the older material. Ian and I had already gotten to know each other at another Sunday Matinee a few years before, when he played with his band Leoprrrds. When we got re-acquainted with each other, it wasn’t long until we started identifying a lot of parallels in our respective upbringings—the rural environments we both grew up around, our first steps in the digital realm at the helm of the mighty Commodore Amiga 500, allergies we both share and of course a lot of musical overlap, the latter of which culminated in our simulaneous presence, unknowingly, at a bunch of Primavera Sound festivals in Barcelona in the late 2000s.

The songs on your new album sound very 'natural'. Do you take a lot of time on song structures and guitar sounds? Or does it all happen naturally through jams?

All of the songs on In Giraffe, with the exception of Spinning, had already been written by me before Ian completed the new line-up. So there wasn’t too much jamming going on for the most part. When I write a new song, I usually tend to write all the different instrumental parts at once. So when I come up with a melodic riff on the guitar, I usually already have a pretty defined idea of what the other instrumental parts are going to sound like. It’s just the way my brain works. 

Juan and I came up with Spinning during our first time we ever played together. It started out with this melody that Juan came up with on the bass, then we basically finished up the rest over the course of the next two hours and we recorded a demo of the song on a four-track tape machine in our practice room, with Juan scribbling his part of the makeshift lyrics onto an empty beer can. The finished song on the album doesn’t veer too far from this original version.

It does seem like we’re slowly gravitating towards writing more stuff together in recent times though, as the band is getting to know each other better. But I suppose that ’natural’ feeling might be what I’m listening for when I’m arranging a newly written song, like adding the right amount of salt while cooking, or finding the perfect composition for a photograph you’re taking. It does kind of feel like songs dictate their own form, but obviously that’s all informed by the music we’ve been listening to growing up, the music that shaped who we are. For me, all that started with The Beatles and Catholic hymns in church. It’s definitely true that I find myself strongly drawn to effective arrangements in songs—when I was in my early 20's, I got obsessed with the songwriting of Motown songwriters like Holland-Dozier-Holland and their chase of the perfect pop hit formula, which I used as an excuse to write my BA thesis about Motown and Stax. I love power pop like Big Star or The Flamin’ Groovies too. 

I guess I spend some time on getting the guitar sounds right the way that I'm hearing them in my head. Overall though, my general approach to all that hasn’t really changed very much in pretty much the last decade or so. I can basically make it work with whatever Fender-type guitar and a bunch of different gain pedals that I’m stacking in various parts of songs for different gain and volume levels. The quality of the result is more down to finding a combination of guitars, amps and pedals that match each other. My basic sound has been for years a Jazzmaster played through these two clones I built of the Crowther Audio Hotcake (a legendary, Flying Nun-related overdrive pedal from New Zealand) into a Vox AC30. I’d attribute the rest of the ’natural’ sound you’re perceiving to our recording engineer Jaike’s general, rather Albini-influenced approach. I guess he’s mostly just trying to capture the sound of the band in the room.



Speaking of the new album, I love the limited fanzine that comes with the Monorail edition. It sounds like you had quite a road trip en route to recording! Did your band mates turn you on to any songs you hadn't heard before?

The fanzine is all Lauren from our label Heavenly Creature Records' work. It’s been great to collaborate with her and to finally see what she would come up with. But yes, it’s been quite the road trip and one that all three of us thoroughly enjoyed undertaking! We pretty much listened to music non-stop on the way down there to France and back, just sort of picking music at random as certain bands and albums would come up while the three of us were chatting in the car. An album that really stuck with me since the trip was Nighthawks At The Diner by Tom Waits that Ian brought up. I knew the album from far far back, but it was Juan’s first time ever hearing any of Tom Waits’ stuff. Other than that, Juan introduced us to some Latin American indie, he’d specifically prepared a playlist for the trip. All three of us took a pretty deep dive into our musical biographies. I played the other two Daisies of the Galaxy by Eels at one point, a record that had a really formative influence on teenage me back in the early 2000s. And then there was stuff like Like Flies On Sherbet by Alex Chilton or Saturn Strip by Alan Vega.

As for the recording, how important was it to have a short and tight timeframe to get things done?

It definitely made for a very condensed experience. If you’re working against tight constraints like we were, you do get a different kind of determination in the back of your head to make every moment count. But I think I can speak for the whole band when I say that we went in pretty confident, since we knew we could a hundred percent trust Jaike. The rest was all on us. But that said, we also went into it with a mutual understanding that mistakes were bound to happen and we were actually welcoming the good kind of them. 

There of course were some hiccups too, but minor ones, that we managed to navigate pretty well, in my personal opinion. It’s a bit grandiose to pretend it was all part of the plan, since the way it happened was really due to considerations of scheduling and finances, since we’re all just regular people working jobs, with families, like myself, but there definitely is something about that whole Minutemen “We jam econo” kind of ethos when it comes to capturing the essence of what you’re doing artistically.

How was your album launch party? How does it feel to play your music live?

It was great, really. We had our friends Slipper join us for the occasion, one of my personal favourite bands in town and beyond. They write these great, timeless, folky songs with an almost pastoral feel. Two of them, Rachel and Sean, are actually Glasgow transplants. We were playing at this place in Friedrichshain called Loge, a relatively new venue in town, where we’d played before just once, the previous year. Ian has also played there twice already with Grief Scene. It’s this DIY kind of place that looks like an unassuming kind of bar from the street, but there's this great concert room in the catacombs underneath. Most importantly, people turned up and they enjoyed each of our sets, to the point where we were being asked to sign records by the end of the night. Other than that, it was just great to see a lot of familiar faces and chat away on the sidewalk outside the place.

And I love playing with Juan and Ian, both of them play with a lot of passion and at the same time, I know I can totally rely on them. They really make the songs come to life and I love how playing with the band, the songs start to develop a life of their own, independent of their humble beginnings of how I wrote them originally.

Will you make it over to Scotland to play a show or two?

As a matter of fact, yes, we are! We’ll play at Bloc in Glasgow on the 13th of June and in Edinburgh at Leith Depot on the following day, the 14th. Hope to see you there!

What are your plans with the band? Do you look ahead, or even get time to? Or just focus on enjoying the moment?

I guess we aren’t really looking so far ahead at this point, but the general plan is to play more shows, especially outside Berlin and abroad, and of course to keep making new music together. It’s a dream of Juan’s and mine to get to play in New Zealand sometime. But for starters, it would be great to just manage to book more shows outside Berlin in general. We’re keen.



Sunday 26 May 2024

Popstars by Broken by Rock

I first blogged about Broken by Rock back in 2016 to highlight their song Brittle which I described as a fragile New Order. Brittle, was essentially a home recording by Alan Clarke, raw, soulful and charming. I still adore the song and would love it on 7-inch!

Since then, I've become friends with Alan through our mutual love of Teenage Fanclub and many other bands. Back at the start of March, I got a glimpse into the current world of Broken by Rock when they played with Starboard Hazes at the Old Hairdressers. 

Live, the three-piece Broken by Rock (Alan on guitar and vocals, Derek McKee on drums and Andrew Clarke (cousin) on bass) played with real power, style and humour. Alan's guitar sound was right up my street, as were his infectious melodies and lyrics that could be both touchingly heartfelt, or honest and funny.

Broken by Rock sounded superb and I was delighted when he told me that Broken By Rock were going into the studio to record with Rod Jones from Idlewild.

And the first song from that session is now out in the world!

New single Popstars, rides in on a dirty bass groove, Alan introduces some chiming guitar while Del keeps everything tight. There is something about Alan's voice that grabs me. Perhaps it's because he is a friend and I know how much his songs mean to him, perhaps it is the way he pours his heart into it, straining in all the right ways like other singers I love. But it grabs me, maybe I just can't explain it. 

Popstars is kind of about loving music that sticks with you through life. Take Teenage Fanclub for example, or The Lemonheads, The Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr ... all bands that Alan and I have followed for over 30-years. 

But, and even more so, Popstars is also loving bands/popstars who might have had their 15-minutes of fame, got on Top of the Pops and/or been a one-hit wonder. The songs, super catchy, stick with you.

Popstars come and they go 

These old records still make me cry

These are the songs that we know

We love, we live, we sing, we die

Popstars come and they go 

These old records still make me cry

The chorus (above) is super catchy, the middle eight really grabs me, especially the line;

The whole world moved on with you

But we will sing your song once again

This really fits in with the fact that so many bands are having another moment in the sun, some largely thanks to just one song. 

Maybe, just maybe, Broken by Rock will have a deserved moment in the sun. Certainly, Radio Scotland have picked up on the catchy guitar pop sound of Popstars and made it single of the week on The Afternoon Show.

Popstars is out now on all the usual streaming/download sites.

Official video


Wednesday 22 May 2024

10 from LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem are one of the few post 2000 bands that I really fell in love with. My love was rekindled after watching the excellent Meet Me In The Bathroom documentary based on the 2011 book by Lizzy Godman. This was at the end of 2023, so this blog has been a while in the making!

James Murphy comes across well in the film. A self confessed music geek whose musical boundaries were smashed when he worked as an engineer on David Holmes Bow Down To The Exit Sign in 2000. Holmes was amazed that Murphy had never tried ecstasy and when James finally did, he had an experience that changed the way he listened to and felt about music.

Things moved swiftly as Murphy formed DFA Records with Tim Goldsworthy who co-produced the Holmes album. The duo started releasing records, including The Rapture's seminal House Of The Jealous Lovers, and they put on nights across New York as the city came out of post 9/11 mourning. 

LCD Soundsystem's first single was the sensational Losing My Edge which came out in the summer of 2002. The video, with Murphy singing into the camera with a spotlight behind him and someone routinely slapping him quickly gained traction. The song and video (see below) were super cool, like nothing else out there.

Murphy talks about the inspiration behind the song in the film. How he was worried that all the cool kids could suddenly access all the music online that he spent years discovering and collecting. The 8-minute electro punk tune created enough of an impression for booking requests to come through. LCD Soundsystem suddenly became a real band. 

The 2002-2005 early period of LCD Soundsystem was extraordinarily prolific as Murphy dove headfirst into ecstasy and creating electronic music, releasing a string of singles that led to a double album coming out in early 2005. 

I first caught the band around this time when they supported Too Many DJ's at the Barrowland. LCD had a bank of equipment, loads of percussion and cowbells and Murphy sang into an old crooners style microphone. They were electrifying.

That summer my girlfriend (now wife) and I went to the Benicassim Festival in Spain. LCD Soundsystem came on stage around 2 or 3 in the morning and the place went crazy. It remains one of my all-time favourite festival sets; a band breaking through from the underground playing a late night set to a party crowd. Check this electrifying 52 second crowd footage.

Murphy and LCD kept creating, releasing, playing and partying. Something had to give and it did in 2010 following the release of the This Is Happening album. Murphy said it would be the bands last album and that their last show would be at Madison Square Garden, where the band played an epic 4-hour set.

In some ways it was perfect. 10-years on from working on the Holmes album. Murphy talked of writing songs as good as he was going to and not wanting to carry on with the purpose of becoming bigger, or to earn more money. In other interviews, Murphy hinted that he might go back to creating music and releasing 12-inch singles, but he had to get away from LCD being so large.

Rather incredibly, David Bowie was one of the people to encourage Murphy to get the band back together. James played on Bowie's Blackstar album. The comeback grew arms and legs and before LCD knew it,they were once again travelling round the world to promote an album - 2017's American Dream.

Now, in 2024, LCD Soundsystem are kind of operating on their terms. Tours have been replaced with residencies in their favourite cities and the band can pick and choose what festivals they want to play. Surely there will be a Barrowland residency at some point?! Murphy has always been quick to acknowledge the importance of the venue, Glasgow as a city and the Subclub.

LCD Soundsystem play Glastonbury and All Points East in London this summer. 

UPDATE - LCD Soundsystem now play the Barrowland and tickets are on sale this Friday - 24th May!

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent. Watching Meet Me In The Bathroom caused me to go down a rabbit hole and I thought I would write a blog on 10 of my favourite songs by LCD Soundsystem. OK 11 - I;ve included both versions of Yeah!

I've finally finished the blog and I've compiled the songs into a playlist that you can check HERE

At the time of writing, I chose;

1. Losing My Edge

I blogged on Losing My Edge for my Trust Me series back in April 2022 (read here) and declared that everything about this song is cool, clever and funny. A paranoid Murphy wonders if he is losing his edge to kids from London, Berlin, France and Tokyo. I love the way the song veers off to the glorious you don't know what you really want hook at the end. One of the best debut singles of all-time.

Check the incredible performance from their debut show at Trash in London in 2002. Jammed and rammed together on a tiny stage, creating a brilliant vibe and sound.

2. Great Release

Murphy strips things back to a drum machine and big gospel house piano notes before coming in with potentially his best vocal - wracked with emotion. 

Official audio

Live on Austin City Limits

3. Yeah (Crass version) + (Yeah Pretentious Version)

OK I'm cheating, I've included both versions of Yeah. Originally released as a 12-inch single in January 2004, both versions made it on to CD version of the bands debut album. Outrageous electronic excellence.

Yeah (Crass version) live in Brussells 2010

Yeah (Pretentious version)

4. Us v Them

Us v Them was a real highlight from the Sound of Silver tour when I caught them at the Barrowland. Thinking back, it was monsterous. This could be LCD Soundsystem's most powerful song, it builds into a mantra; us and them, over and over again ...

You were on Murphy's side for sure. Fantastic use of cowbell and just listen to the little riff going on in the background around 6-minutes over the scratchy Chic punk guitar riff.

Live at Madison Square Garden

5. All My Friends

To my ears, in my mind and in my heart, this is an absolutely perfect song. All My Friends gives me all the feels ... the long 82-second intro with Murphy reminiscing about going back to someone's house to check the charts - pop or astrological? I've always thought pop.

And now I wonder if Murphy is reminiscing? Or is he talking about checking to see where LCD are in the charts? As he then goes on to talk about partying, ageing, touring, giving it his all and questioning if he wants to keep it going.

To tell the truth

This could be the last time

And in the end Murphy is ranting and questioning himself - where are you friends tonight?

He goes on and you're left in no doubt that he wants to be home to see his friends.

One of LCD's most melodic songs that builds and builds over a repetitive riff. Also contains one of my favourite lines that always makes me think of Glasgow/Scotland.

If you're worried about the weather

Then you picked the wrong place to stay

6. Someone Great

Electronic soul. Possibly the best song Murphy has composed and written. The electronic symphony drips with emotion, the bass synth in particular, while all kinds of gorgeous noises and beeps play over the top. 

I wish that we could talk about it

But then that's the problem

Murphy starts to pour his heart out and bare his soul, with his vocal melody just about matched to an xylophone, ending the first verse by singing I miss the way we used to argue.

This is a very different LCD Soundsystem, Murphy is singing about a break up and it's heartbreakingly beautiful; to tell the truth I saw it coming, the way that you were breathing

Is it a break up, or is it loss? It could be either. When Murphy sings when someone great is gone you really feel his grief.

Official video

Austin City Limits

7. I Can Change

Murphy aims straight for our hearts again and scores a bullseye with this gem. Urging his lover to never change, never change, this is why I fell in love and then going on to say promise I can change, I can change if it helps you fall in love.

No bullshit, this is love, warts and all. It's not perfect, but it is love. Murphy is in for the long haul.

Live at T In The Park (2016)

8. 45:33


Part 1 - Intro
Part 2 - You Can't Hide/Shame On You
Part 3 - Someone Great (instrumemtal)
Part 4 - Out In Space
Part 5 - Ships Talking
Part 6 - Outro

Following the release of their debut album, LCD Soundsystem then teamed up with Nike to record 45:33, seemingly designed to soundtrack jogging workouts. Regardless of the origins, the concept allowed Murphy to work his magic across 45-minutes, even longer than his usual 8 or 9 minutes per track.

A continuous piece of music, it was composed in 6 parts with part 2 being the outstanding You Can't Hide/Shame On You that is one of many highlights on the The Long Goodbye (Madison Square Garden) live album. What a tune! Riding in on house piano chords over a what sounds like a synth being tuned, the song develops into a huge vocal anthem, the kind you can sing-a-long to on first listen. The kind of song that causes a dance floor to erupt as people punch the air, dance and sing. Super cool.

It's also worth noting that Someone Great first appeared as part 3 in instrumental form and it sounds blissful, developing into part 4, an electro funk workout with some Stevie Wonder influenced sounds over slowed down vocals. We're way into the mix, way into the trip now and it is magical. Or well into the jog/run!

Disco diva vocals come in, give me love, before Murphy's slowed down voice comes back in, super trippy synths are layered over the constant disco electro groove, then everything cuts back to the groove before the female vocal comes back in, singing your'e out in space, you need some loooooovvvveee. Sublime!

Horns kick in for as the groove turns to a funky bass and then a breakdown, before things finally lead to part 5 and it's quite a change in pace as I feel like I'm transported to Optimo.

There is another change in pace for part 6 - the warmdown part of the jog/run, the comedown part of the nigh out/trip. Beautiful!

Official audio

9. Home

Murphy employs all his favourite tricks on Home, which closes the This Is Happening album. False start, immediate cool groove, quickly adding layers of synth including a delicious bubbling sound, percussion coming to the fore ... then Murphy comes in singing Home before going off on one.

Official audio

10. Oh Baby

This gives me all the feels. Bubbling synths, cool beats, a stronger bass synth riff over the top, Murphy crooning oh baby, you're having a bad dream, here in my arms.

Live on Austin City Limits

Official video





Sunday 19 May 2024

Introducing Wonder 45

My friend William was raving about a new band called Wonder 45. I checked them out and could see why! Wonder 45 are fresh out the wrapper and perfectly formed. Gorgeous soul, top class musicians and vocals that just grab you. The band started as an instrumental recording project and grew from there.

I asked William if he fancied writing a blog .... and he has. Enjoy!

Introducing - Wonder 45

Guest blog by William Thomas

Sometimes a band comes along which just jumps out from the crowd, demanding to be noticed – it’s a rare but unmistakeable feeling for listeners. The needle hits the groove and the music just… crackles.

It can either be an indefinable quality, or clear as day. Wonder 45 are firmly in the latter category -everything hits right, the band is tight, the melodies effervescent, the production crisp and warm.

This London soul ensemble started out life as producer/writer Holley Gray, guitarist Ross Ewart, drummer Chris Nickolls and keyboard player Steve Pringle.

They’ve since been enhanced by singer/songwriters Jess Greenfield and Gavin Conder and the outfit have since gathered real momentum with their first gig only happening in January this year. You would never know, such is the assured nature of everything they do.

From their studio cuts too, the manifesto is clear. You can hear the authentic, classic influences coming through loud and clear, but there’s a sharp, fresh pop sensibility too. If you were thinking of another band which had immediately turned its retro influences into earworm gold, then Oasis might spring to mind.

It’s an apposite comparison, because songwriter and vocalist Greenfield is also a key member of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, providing affecting backing vocals, keyboards, and percussion both live and in the studio.

Given Noel’s high bar for fellow band members, that’s an endorsement to be proud of, and it has clearly given her a strong platform to spread her wings further with her own musical ambitions.

Greenfield brings that high flying, arena-filling prowess accrued over the last six years to Wonder 45 in spades with standout vocals on the likes of Cry – a gritty, passionate cri de coeur to hold onto love through both bad times and good – the swinging Nothing’s Gonna Change, and Superman which immediately commands attention with its powerful rhythm section and lyric that pays tribute to not settling for a love that’s anything less than heroic.

Conder is no vocal slouch either on Wonderland where the barriers to true love are cast aside with a soaring chorus.

Cry - live studio session

Make It Happen is meanwhile an unapologetic wah-wah guitar-driven note to self, reminiscent of Sly and The Family Stone in their pomp. Carpe diem, grab the opportunity, whatever you want to call it – it’s an inspiring, propulsive crowd-pleaser addressed to anyone resting on their laurels delivered with funk and fun. There is brass in abundance – driving organ, and whip cracking percussion all the way.

Collectively, the singles display a wide, scintillating repertoire of styles, all delivered with complete confidence and melodic panache. Here, you’ll find drama, pathos, lust, longing, and all points in between. Most importantly, each track fizzes with intent, and you wouldn’t be surprised if Wonder 45 very quickly find their career launched into orbit.

The band have undoubtedly released a steady procession of consistently great songs in recent times – all of which have caught the attention of, and made waves with, a long list of prominent radio names, culminating in what is already sure to be an instant classic debut LP Wonderland out on 31 May via Big-AC Records.

Wonderland - live studio session