Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bob Dylan - shadows in the night

Or Bob sings in the "club style". For his latest album Bob Dylan dips into the great American songbook and croons his way through some classics. Its Sinatra Jim... er... Bob but not as you know it.

The songs are still Bob Dylan though the tunes may be already very familiar. It can be enjoyed on many levels, nostalgically, humorously and mostly they can be enjoyed because they feel heart felt. The singing is not up to much these days but thats been the case for quite a few albums, but there are plenty of people with perfect vocal chords and many of them are as bland as grey porridge on a rainy day. This is very different, it envelopes you the more you listen to it. Its like a comfortable old jumper you found in your wardrobe which you had forgotten about for years. When you put it on at first its a bit strange and then the more you wear it the more familiar it becomes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Movie : Braindead (1982)

Boy meets girl, but has domineering mother, who turns into a zombie. This is an early 80s black comedy directed by Peter Jackson way before any Lord of the Rings, but this is epic in its own special way. Epic gore for sure.

There is a plot though its more a prop for a lot of gore laden action set pieces. The film scores well on "OMG NO!" moments and some genuinely funny dark humour (especially as shown below) though the final half an hour is pretty much wall to wall violent gore and can get a bit tiresome after the umpteenth liquidised zombie. The sheer ridiculousness of the zombie romp takes you through though, like a zombie hand through a head.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tops in Pops of the 60s

A new album but reissuing many songs recorded for covers albums in the 1960s, the Top of the Pops series being the most notable. Whats different here is that the singers who covered the songs are credited at long last. So we know that Danny Street sang on the impressive version of "In the year 2525", i thought that was the highlight of this collection but there are a number of other good ones too, and some less than good but thats staying true to the covers album legend! Its available on eBay (at the moment anyway) so hurry!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Charlatans - modern nature

Back into 2015 with The Charlatans latest album. Its a long time since "Some friendly", much water has flowed under the bridge since then. But you can still hear elements of the core Charlatans sound in this wonderful album. There is still a "Madchester-esque" beat at times, and plenty of psychedelic organ but there is also a mature and stylish groove underpinning a lot of "Modern nature".

Stand out track is "Come home baby", a simple yet moving song with an irresistible beat, dancey but slow enough for old farts to keep up to. Hey we all get older. "Let the good times be never ending" is another highlight, it rollicks along superbly with dancey and bluesy notes in abundance. The spacey "Talking in tones" is an emotional opener, this album coming after the sad death of founding member Jon Brookes.

The album has no shortage of highlights. Some reviewers have said its their best album to date but thats a too easy cliche to write and can only really be said in the future after the dust has settled a bit. But lets say its one of their best albums, an album of brilliant pop songs by a band on top of their game. Still.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Charlatans - some friendly

The Charlatans slipped into the Madchester baggy indie scene with this, their debut album, back in 1990 which spawned 2 top 10 pop hits (when you actually had to sell more than 3 records to make the charts too!) In truth the album is a collection of some great songs and some filler but when the Charlatans are good they are really really good which makes the album patchy but essential.

"The only one i know" is a peerless track with some of the best pop melodies around, i still think its one of the best indie tracks ever recorded... and its broken through into the mainstream pop consciousness (the last time i heard it was in a Harvester).

"Then" and "Sproston green" are also excellent indie pop tracks bringing in baggy beat into a neo-psychedelic helter skelter. "You're not very well" is also a bit decent though some of the other tracks get lost in their own mediocrity. But hey its a debut and as a debut it was very good and started the band off on a long career. Come 2015 and their latest album is also wonderful but thats a story for another day...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Rémi Parson - précipitations

This is lovely, sweet and intricate electro indie pop songs in French. Rémi ex of Electrophönvintage and the Sunny Street has developed a really great sound mixing lo-fi electronics, synth pop, indie pop and even hand claps on occasion on this debut solo album. The best way to describe it is as a little jewel box of pop gems. "Droguerie" for example has an urgent and endlessly appealing melody. "Picaresque" sounds at once like a lost 80s synth pop classic and a future dance floor filler.

We're not ones for cliche (of course) for this album has plenty of "je ne sais quoi". Its lovely, stylish and beautiful. You can get it from Soundcloud.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Family Gotown - box EP

Family Gotown never really made it big (even in British indie terms) and just released a couple of EPs in the early 1990s of which this is one. Why didn't they make it? Maybe they were just too similar to other bands from the time, and the title track of this EP maybe illustrates that perfectly. It has a bit of indie beat, jingle jangle guitar, 60s keyboards and a high energy neo-psychedelic melody complete with ringing vocals. A pretty decent even great song actually but not that unique.

"Don't fade away" has a great singalong chorus especially towards the end when the grinding guitars kick in and it all gets a bit spacey. Sort of song that would go down a storm in a university indie disco, it all makes me a bit nostalgic. "Up not down" is a bit of a neo-mod stomp. "Can't stop the tide" is a bit basic rock pop moving into big energy chime-a-matic indie rock but has a bit of feedback thrown in to add to the fun.

You know this is a pretty great EP, maybe they are largely forgotten now but at least they released a decent record, some much more famous bands never managed that.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wendy and Lisa

Part of Prince & The Revolution throughout the iconic early 80s Wendy and Lisa split from the Symbol One in 1986 to pursue their own 80s funk pop trajectory, and they have had a lot of success too especially with soundtracks with this album being the start of a journey that has included Emmys and many great tunes.

Its an assured and power packed debut, the highlight is the single "Waterfall" with its chunky funky melody and sweet atmospheric breaks but the album has plenty of other high points too, the irrepressible "Side show" and the epic ballad groove of "The life" for example.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

MV : "Come home baby" by The Charlatans

The new song from The Charlatans, which sounds a lot like their stuff they released in the early 90s when i was at uni. This is a good thing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Smash Hits '72

The delights of wading through piles of old LPs in charity shops, occasionally you can find... well this! Musically its no great shakes being an album of cover versions (though the "American pie" cover is decent as is "Puppy love") but the cover...! Well kung fu was all the rage in the early 70s thanks to Bruce Lee so why not introduce martial arts to the world of pop hit covers albums too?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Movie : Dick Tracy meets Gruesome (1947)

A rather bizarre and confusing detective cum science fiction cum comedy cum horror film. An escaped convict called Gruesome (marvellously and hamily played by Boris Karloff) meets up with a scientist who has apparently developed a gas which can freeze people for a short period. Naturally such a miraculous new invention can change the world and ..er.. has its use in assisting bank robberies...

Its up to Dick Tracy to catch the crooks and discover what happened to a missing scientist, however his plan is rather odd as it involves putting himself in extreme danger and only by sheer chance does he survive. The film is quite a fun romp though often suffers from being unsure what kind of film it is trying to be, corny humour (a taxidermist called Y. Stuffem for example) is mixed with sudden violence and a steadily rising body count. It has some good twists though and is engaging enough to be worth a view.