Thursday, March 29, 2007

grapes house ink

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart

This one was a Christmas present from Oxbow a few years back. Before that, as far as I was concerned Gorky's were just that Welsh band who did that annoying 'Patio' song. But How I Long to Feel That Summer In My Heart is still an album that I dig out pretty regularly. On first listen it can seem a bit slight but repeated listens make it stick with you, as bits of The Beatles and High Llamas drift by. It's good simple music, which is really hard to do well without sounding lazy or pat.

And it really does make me feel that summer in my heart. This track in particular sounds like late August evenings playing with your mates on the park, the sun streaming across the sky just before you have to go home.

The soundtrack to a Welsh "Wonder Years", if you will.

Buy - How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart
Visit - Gorky's Zygotic Mynci

His Name Is Alive - The Dirt Eaters

His Name Is Alive - Man On The Silver Mountain (Rainbow cover)

Nutty name, nutty guys. Back to 4AD for this one, a band I was pretty much obsessed with in the face of much shoulder-shrugging from my peers. Looking back they're the archetypal, precious, 23 Envelope/V23 project, with more than a whiff of This Mortal Coil about them. But I loved the air of mystery, the pick'n'mix song-styles and (let's face it) the pretensions so much that I persevered beyond their patchy and sublimely gothic first 4AD release, Livonia, through the fantastic 23-track "mental illness" album, Home Is In Your Head, up to their 3rd album, 1993's Mouth By Mouth, before I said 'enough'.

These two tracks are from The Dirt Eaters EP, my favourite of their releases. "The Dirt Eaters" made an appearance on Mouth By Mouth but in a rocked-out version; this is sparser and much better for it (according to ubiquipedia, the sample is Jack Nicholson from Ironweed. Not knowing the film, I always heard it as Ronald Reagan....). The Rainbow cover was the unlisted first track - I've always liked it 'cos it sounded like a HNIA piss-take (a hushed, folksy take on a stadium rawk belter? the very idea...), and hinted at a self-deprecating sense of humour hidden behind the Vaughan Oliver artwork.

His Name Is Alive are still going and still doing interesting stuff, going from gothic folk to Beach Boys pastiches to psychedelic R'n'B and back again. Check their website and particularly the tracklisting for the 10 CD wooden "Cloud Box" set. Hmmm, challenging!

Buy - The Dirt Eaters EP is only available on this import of Home Is In Your Head, or
Buy - Always Stay Sweet, a 21-song best-ofVisit - His Name Is Alive

The Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care

The Ink Spots - Whispering Grass (Don't Tell The Trees)

The Ink Spots - I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire

From the corner marked "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"...

The Ink Spots are a band who had loads of hits with EXACTLY THE SAME SONG. Check it out:

Rambling ascending guitar intro...
Plaintive tenor lead vocal...
Talky bit...

I could have picked any three of their songs and would most likely have hit on the same structure in each. Listening to a whole album by them is weird, like being stuck in a lift where the muzak is looping indefinitely, or some weirdly soothing Groundhog Day.

I love these songs. And the balls on them to keep doing the same thing over and over!

Buy - The Ink Spots - The Ultimate Collection
Visit - The Ink Spots (Wikipedia)
Visit - The Ink Spots

Friday, March 23, 2007

deer elephant fish

Deerhoof are a band I "got" long after the cool kids but I love what I've heard by them. Hey maybe you "prefer their earlier stuff" but we're hear to talk about the music I like and I frickin' *heart* the 'Hoof. It shouldn't really make sense - spastic improvisatory drums, guitar pyrotechnics and strange little-girl lost vocals. I could theorise for ages but at the end of the day this is just POP.

Deerhoof - Wrong Time Capsule

I remember reading a quote about John Cale's bass-playing on "White Light White Heat", which praised the fact that it sounded like clods of earth and muck, and I think there's something similar here. Love the stumbling endlessly inventive rolling drums and the wildly creative guitar playing - John Dieterich is all over the fretboard on this one. Plus the fact that in a couple of minutes this song takes in so many different ideas, including one of my favourite guitar solos of recent times, a real face-melter.

Deerhoof have just released Friend Opportunity which is amazing too, featuring my favourite song of the year so far...

Deerhoof - The Perfect Me

Again in a couple of minutes there are more ideas than you can count. Plus the wood block is my new favourite instrument! It sounds totally joyous and uplifting to me and the whole album is well worth checking out if you like your pop with an experimental edge.

Except you probably downloaded it last year. Ah well...

Visit - Deerhoof
Visit - Deerhoof MySpace
Buy - The Runners Four
Buy - Friend Opportunity

Ella Guru - Noisy Insects

Here's a real mystery. I first heard of Ella Guru on the Rough Trade Country compilation I mentioned last time. I got the imaginatively titled First Album, and then the trail goes cold.

It's a pretty cool album in a Lambchop stylee (featuring Jimmy Carl Black, the "Indian Of The Group", on occasional backing vocals). Nice arrangements on some lovely and mellow Americana. From Liverpool (*ahem*).

The real star of the show is backing vocalist Kate Walsh doing her best Emmylou Harris impression.

Ella Guru - where are you now?

Visit - Ella Guru
Buy - The First Album

The summer we first started doing Johnny Domino music, I was working in a supermarket and Oxbow was working at the American Adventure, a fairly random theme park that was near where we lived - it closed last year but to be honest it was always a poor man's Alton Towers. Hell, it was a poor man's Drayton Manor Park & Zoo. The Magic Kingdom it was not.

We started getting obsessed with Country music at the same time when Ox brought some tapes home from work. One had Hank Williams one it, one had Hawkshaw Hawkins, and one featured Flatt & Scruggs. You'd think that after a hard day working at a fake Wild West theme park, the last thing we'd want to listen to was Bluegrass but there you go.

After leaving Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys Lester Flatt (guitar and vocals) and Earl Scruggs formed the Foggy Mountain Boys, to become one of the most successful bluegrass bands of all time. They were also responsible for the theme tune to the Beverley Hillbillies - "oil that is... Texas Tea...".

Flatt & Scruggs - Pike County Breakdown

Man, you can practically see the smoke coming off Earl Scruggs' banjo! I have no idea how you would move your fingers so fast. I love the way this song just keeps going, sounds like they could keep going for days.

Flatt & Scruggs - I'll Be Going To Heaven Sometime

I also love their more maudlin spiritual numbers. I'm not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination but I do find myself veering towards the god-fearing in my musical tastes. What's that about? Maybe I'm just jealous of people who have faith and like to experience it vicariously through their music. Who knows.

Visit - Flatt & Scruggs
Buy - A Proper Introduction to Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs: the Mercury Years

Monday, March 19, 2007

ant banana cat

With sincere apologies to The Art Of Noise [and their A-Z of Music feature] and to our good friend The Singing Detective. If an idea is good, it's worth borrowing from. And if an idea is worth borrowing from, you might as well copy it outright... Anyway, I'm going to be trawling through my music collection in an alphabetical stylee and featuring tracks that I really love, from artists that I mostly know very little about.

Animal Collective - Who Could Win A Rabbit

I bought Animal Collective's Sung Tongs after reading a review, something that we all do when we're feeling flush, out of touch or both. I know nothing about them and I don't really want to, either. To know that this music was made by rational humans would ruin it for me - in my mind these are field recordings of campfire folk-songs from a tribe of demented glove puppets. With a delay pedal.

Great stuff - I've always thought that if you wanted to upset a neighbour, a high-volume blast of this in the early hours would do the trick, more so than Metallica or whatever. Plus they'd probably think twice about complaining.

Visit - Animal Collective (MySpace)
Buy - Sung Tongs

The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Choir - Kalimankou Denkou

In this alphabetical journey through my collection there will be a LOT of music released by the 4AD label. When I was at college I was a major 4AD geek. As such I bought a lot of beautifully packaged half-baked rubbish. I also got some really great stuff. Like Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, a collection of field recordings of traditional Bulgarian vocal music which is still quite unlike anything I'd heard before or since.

Amazing hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck stuff. No idea what they're singing about (although according to the CD this title translates to The Evening Gathering) but it's just beautiful. Considering that these singers are mostly untrained, the vocal harmonies they use and the blend of registers are simply amazing. There are all kinds of complex chord inversions and voicings - which become even more mind-boggling when you think that this is a recording of an oral folk-art tradition, passed down from generation to generation.

Visit - Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares at 4AD
Buy - Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares Vol 1

Chickasaw Mudd Puppies - Nighttime (Ain't Got No Eyes)

Now this is a real unknown. I got this on the great Rough Trade Shops - Country Vol.1 album. Like They Might Be Giants, they were a duo - were there lots of these in the 80s? What were the sales figures like for drum machines? Where were the drummers at?

This is weird mutant swamp rock with a demented edge - me likee.

Visit - Chickasaw Mudd Puppies
Buy - Rough Trade Shops - Country Vol.1

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I used to love making tape compilations for people and one of my favourite things was putting bits of movie dialogue in between tracks. The late 80s were a golden age for weird films and TV programmes - series' like The Incredibly Strange Film Show featured films by Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis alongside other more obscure filmmakers. I would video these and scour them for nuggets of dialogue and non-sequiturs. No, I didn't get out much. But I made a mean mix-tape.

Maybe one-day I'll get round to digitising those old C-90 tapes before they fall apart. Until then here a couple of likely tracks from a great CD I picked up years ago, The Wild Wild World of Mondo Movies Music. It features lots of trailers and bits of soundtracks recorded with a tape deck from in front of the telly.

Ah, happy days! Enjoy!

Strange Rampage Trailer (1967)

Strange Rampage by WeirdoVideo

Rocky Roberts & The Airdales - The Bird's The Word

Girl From S. I. N. Trailer (1966)

Buy - The Wild Wild World of Mondo Movies Music from The Freak Emporium

Monday, March 05, 2007

monkey magic

Long-time visitors to the site will remember an earlier post featuring the mighty Coconut Monkeyrocket. A recent commenter pointed out that there had been a CMR album released which I purchased straight away. I got it through the post this morning and it's magic! A whole album of crazy 1950s cocktail lounge electronica for the ADHD sufferer in your life.

The Coconut Monkeyrocket - Juicy Jungle

This is the first track and is a kind-of manic hyper-concentrated CMR track - all 50s glee-club vocals, clipped guitar riffs, bongo-frenzy percussion and a million other ideas within the first minute. Plus it has the same title as a song by The B-52s - what can go wrong?

Great stuff, I urge you to buy this from the man himself. It's the "funnest" album I've heard in yonks.

Buy - The Coconut Monkeyrocket "With Birds"
Visit - CMR website
Visit - CMR MySpace