Welcome to my blog!

UPDATE: Mediafire have suspended my account and locked my downloads. Having endured the tedium of re-uploading everything I had previously hosted on Mega Upload onto Mediafire earlier this year, I can't be arsed re-uploading everything again.

So please don't ask for things to be reuploaded!

I undertake this venture knowing that I don't have the spare time to do it, but feel that these artists NEED TO BE HEARD (please excuse my shouting!). Or is that I think I need to be heard? Or that there are (or have been) some great music blogs that have inspired me to wanna jump on the bandwagon? Probably all of the above??I hope you enjoy the blog. If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Built to Spill - Perfect from now on

I've always been intrigued by bands who appear to be mediocre but all of the sudden reveal themselves as god-like geniuses. And you look back on their previous output for signs of their impending brilliance - and find nothing!

One band that falls into this category, at least from my perspective, is Built to Spill. I had them marked as post-grunge/slacker also-rans behind leading lights Pavement, Archers of Loaf and Weezer. Their first two albums were competent but unspectacular, providing little obvious evidence of the greatness to come - the staggering Perfect from now on album. If they were athletes the World Doping Authority would have been right on their case!

The main attraction of Perfect from now on is the meandering psychedelic instrumental passages. The unconventional song structures give the songs the opportunity to breathe. The music ebbs and flows, effortlessly changing gear from sparse and relaxed to dense and overdriven. The vocals are uplifting, smooth, and well enunciated, and the vocal melodies are almost nursery rhyme like. The sparser moments are reminiscent of Neil Young's Zuma album, so it was no surprise when the band covered Cortex The Killer live.

Randy described eternity starts sparse, at a slow tempo. It builds during it's two verses and then subsides, before entering a slow instrumental build incorporating subtle guitar melodies and a muted wah-wah guitar solo over a meandering bass line. I would hurt a fly also starts with a slow tempo, with subtle shoegazer feedback/reverb guitar and atmospheric cello, before a tempo change sends the song hurtling towards it's climax.

Stop the show also starts slow tempo and sparse, lulling you into a false of predictability before the guitars reach a crescendo and the tempo changes into a stuttering beat. There follows an intriguing instrumental break and a gonzoid guitar solo, which fades into a fast paced arpeggiated guitar coda. Made up dreams is based around a great drum groove, with Moog synthesiser and mellotron provide an almost orchestral sound.

Velvet Waltz is a (guess what?) waltz, with arpeggiated guitar, tremolo guitar and cello dropping in an out as appropriate. Kicked it in the Sun is sparse, relaxed, slow, and summery. Untrustable/Part 2 (about someone else) is a musical tour de force. It starts with two verses featuring chiming guitars before a melodic, meandering break with reverberated guitars. It then drops backs down, rises up into a different verse with an acrobatic bassline, before changing tempo into some gonzoid guitar riffing, before dropping back down and rising back up towards the songs climax.

Built to Spill - 1997 - Perfect from now on

1. Randy Described Eternity
2. I Would Hurt a Fly
3. Stop the Show
4. Made-Up Dreams
5. Velvet Waltz
6. Out of Site
7. Kicked It in the Sun
8. Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sub Pop 200

Another great Seattle compilation! Features fantastic Green River, Soundgarden and Mudhoney tracks unavailable elsewhere (at least to my knowledge). Worth hearing for Mudhoney's cover of Bette Midler's The Rose alone - one of their finest moments in my humble opinion. Also features arguably Tad's finest moment, Sex God Missy and Nirvana's Spank Thru - interesting, but non-essential.

Not content with appearing with Green River and Mudhoney, Mark Arm also appears with The Thrown Ups!

1. "Sex God Missy" - Tad
2. "Is It Day I'm Seeing?" - The Fluid
3. "Spank Thru" - Nirvana
4. "Come Out Tonight" - Steven J. Bernstein
5. "The Rose" - Mudhoney
6. "Got No Chains" - The Walkabouts
7. "Dead Is Dead" - Terry Lee Hale
8. "Sub Pop Rock City" - Soundgarden
9. "Hangin' Tree" - Green River
10. "Swallow My Pride" - Fastbacks
11. "The Outback" - Blood Circus
12. "Zoo" - Swallow
13. "Underground" - Chemistry Set
14. "Gonna Find a Cave" - Girl Trouble
15. "Split" - The Nights And Days
16. "Big Cigar" - Cat Butt
17. "Pajama Party in a Haunted Hive" - Beat Happening
18. "Love or Confusion" - Screaming Trees
19. "Untitled" - Steve Fisk
20. "You Lost It" - The Thrown Ups

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4, Pt5

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obscure Australian compilation albums

Here are some bits and pieces from miscellaneous obscure Australian compilation albums that I'm sure most readers would be unaware of....

Happy Patch - Predator (FLAC) and Lucy Jr (FLAC), from The Sound Barrier, a 1993 compilation of Adelaide (South Australia) bands.

Eels - Mr E's Beautiful Blues, from More Music Live From the Panel. The Panel was an Australian talk show. E turned up for an interview and played both Mr E's beautiful blues and Fucker, which I think can both be seen on You Tube. This interview is not the legendary interview conducted a few days later where E joked he loved Melbourne as it was the smack capital of the world!

The Go-Betweens - Head full of steam, and Mercury Rev - When you wish upon a star, from the Studio 22 highlights album. Studio 22 is a late night TV show where bands perform in front of a small live studio audience. The bands are usually little known Australian bands (little known outside Australia, at least), but Mercury Rev popped in after the release of their awesome Deserters Songs album, and graced the show with a set that also included a cover of Neil Young's Motion Pictures.

The Go Betweens - Hammer the hammer, The Triffids - My Baby Thinks She's A Train, and Hoodoo Gurus - Dig it Up, from Triple J live at the wireless album. Triple J is an Australian youth radio station. They have an awesome archive of live shows, including a Birthday Party show from 1983, part of which is streamed here.

Smudge - I Just Get Caught Out, from Right Here - Go-betweens Tribute. A match made in heaven - one of my fave Australian bands covering one of my fave Australian bands. Smudge, of course, released the classic Don't want to be Grant McLennan single, wrongly interpreted by most people as a slag-off! They will be featured shortly on this here blog with a gushing/fawning review of their classic Manilow album

Sunday, March 20, 2011

James Hall - Pleasure Club

Shoulda been huge returns to where it (almost) began, with James Hall, vocalist of sadly missed Atlanta gothic-psychedelic-post-punk rockers Mary My Hope.

Hall took a while to reappear after the demise of Mary My Hope. His first solo album My Love, Sex and Spirit showed promise, but was the portrait of an artist struggling to find his own identity while unable to break the shackles of the past.

However, his second solo album, Pleasure Club, delivers. It is the sound of a confident artist in full control. It runs the gamut from 60s/70s Rolling Stones (i.e. the best stuff), to Bowie-esque white boy soul/funk, to punk. A criminally under-rated masterpiece.

The album opens with the title track, a modern (for 1996) take on the Rolling Stones take on Chicago Blues, complete with wailing vocals and harmonica. Imagine a demented John Spencer's blues explosion and you're in the right ball park. Illingness is Exile era Stones, relaxed at the start, slowly building to a crescendo, with soaring chorus vocals.

Heatwave Radio starts with high intensity, featuring chiming guitars and desperate, snarling vocals. The intensity increases with an interesting tempo change in the chorus, before dropping down with a smooth sweet soul bridge complete with a sax solo, before another tempo change sends the song hurtling at high speed towards it's climax. A stone cold motherfucking classic.

Morninglust starts with subdued, clean arpeggio guitar, and builds slowly with shimmering guitar effects into the chorus. Honky Time starts umptempo and driving, with Andy Gill (Gang of Four) approved guitar bursts, and drops down into a subtle funky chorus complete with falsetto vocals. Should Know Better is Some girls era white boy funk.

Black is Black uses the old (by then) Pixies-Nirvana approved quiet-loud-quiet structure to great effect. It starts with subdued, desperate vocals and wah-wah guitar, before the band crash into the chorus, complete with snarling vocals: "I'm no rockstar, who's cracking". The last verse contains just whispered vocals, before the band again crash in for an even more ferocious final chorus. The albums second classic. A tour de force aptly demonstrating the understated sonic mastery of guitarist Lynn Wright.

I'm needy is in 5/4 time. It starts with subdued arpeggiated guitar, and slowly builds suspense until the band comes crashing in, eventually leading into an appropriately tortued guitar solo. Back stabbing has a relaxed Stones groove, with a great tempo change in the middle.

Elevation is subdued in the verses, with forlorn vocals, and slowly build into a melodic chorus with soaring vocals. Illustrated Babeis (sic) is relaxed and playful. Use me baby is white-boy soul/funk, with a great bassline and clean guitar throughout the verses, before the distorted guitars come crashing in for chorus.

So precious, from previous album My Love, Sex and Spirit, and is a curious addition to the album. It has a subtle reggae feel, accentuated by the guitar in the chorus. The drums kick in after chorus, leading into a descending chord sequences that is pure Mary My Hope - perfectly illustrating the midpoint between Mary My Hope and Pleasure Club that My Love, Sex and Spirit represented, while also illustrating the giant strides between the My Love, Sex and Spirit and Pleasure Club albums.

For a great interview with James Hall summarising his career, check out http://thesilvertongueonline.com/?p=347.

James Hall - 1996 - Pleasure Club

1. Pleasure Club
2. Illingness
3. Heatwave Radio
4. Morning Lust
5. Honky Time
6. Should Know Better
7. Black Is Black
8. I'm Needy
9. Back Stabbing
10. Elevation
11. Illustrated Babeis
12. Use Me Baby
13. Need My Man
14. So Precious

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ratcat - Tingles EP

Aussie readers will think I've lost my mind (again?!)....

Ratcat shoulda been huge?

For a few months around the release of the Tingles EP in 1990, they were huge in Australia. I can well remember Beatle-esque scenes of hordes of screaming teenage girls. Ratcat were at the right place at the right time - an irresistible combination of good looks and good songs - or to be precise, one great song, That Ain't Bad, a sublime slice of Buzzcock-ian fuzz rock that worms its way into your subconscious, and hangs around like an unwelcome guests for months afterwards.

Like most objects of teenybopper desire, the buzz(cocks) didn't last too much longer. The follow up albums (Blind Love and Inside Out) and singles sold less and less despite the material being as good as that from their halcyon period.

The Tingles EP provides a good summary of the band for those who have not heard them: That Ain't Bad, four further fuzz rock gems, plus the forgettable My Bloody Valentine, a lackluster piece of atmospheric tomfoolery that is not worthy of that name!

Ratcat - 1990 - Tingles EP

1. That Aint Bad
2. Tingles
3. Don't Go in the Water
4. Getting Away (From This World)
5. Skin
6. My Bloody Valentine


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saigon Kick - Self titled


One of my pet hates is people dissing heavy metal, writing it off as a credible musical genre, or refusing to listen to anything that slightly resembles it.

I've been intending to rant about this issue since a recent post on the Music Ruined My Life Blog, which stated heaviness is the dullest possible metric of good music. Each to their own. But the thing I like best about (say) early Black Sabbath is the heaviness of it. Would War Pigs work as well as it does if was done as oompah or skiffle? If you are going to avoid something because it has been declared heavy metal then you are missing out on a lot of good music. At the risk of being labeled a heretic, I have always considered grunge to be badly played heavy metal - and I say that as one of the biggest grunge fans on this planet! Actually, some grunge bands (e.g. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam) are blatantly heavy metal, but it's OK to like them as they are from Seattle.

There is good and bad heavy metal, just as there is good and bad folk, funk, punk and polka music...hmmm, scratch that last reference! At the end of the day, as the legendary Rushbo says, There are only two types of music: Music you like and music you don’t like. But if you consider heaviness the dullest possible metric of good music, I suggest you stop reading at this point and come back next week when I recover my senses.

Saigon Kick emerged in the grunge era. Being a heavy metal band, they didn't stand a chance - which is a shame because their music was well written, performed and produced. I remember reading an article on the band around the release of their debut self titled album, the subject of this here post, where the band earnestly remarked that they spent all their waking hours rehearsing and writing material. This is something you don't hear bands typically say. Isn't it all meant to be easy, isn't it, like turning on a tap - the old "here's a song we wrote in the diner/in the dressing room/on the train/in our sleep (select as appropriate) before the gig" intro, before the band launches into the best god-dammed song you've (n)ever heard?! Myth building, no, but I like that honesty!

This album represents everything heavy metal can be - diverse, intelligence, and varied - everything from hardcore metal to Beatle-esque pop. Fourteen well crafted songs with no drop in quality. But probably too clever (by half) for the great unwashed masses. Though I do have two small qualms: the album is to varied to pick one song and say "this exemplifies the bands sound". And as a result, any time they verge into another band's territory/sound, it sounds a bit overt.

Opener New world starts with a cliched atmospheric heavy metal type intro, evolving into a slow, grinding atmospheric metal song complete with sitar and effect laden vocals. What you say provides a pleasant contrast, opening with vocal melodies before evolving into a pop-metal track with Def Leppard style chorus vocals. What do you do starts with a crunching hardcore metal riff, with the guitars subsiding for the verse (a trick employed throughout the album), returning for the hardcore chanted chorus. Three songs in and three metal subgenres explored!

Colours is Stones approved psychedelic Pop, featuring clean guitars over an atmospheric hum, with strong vocal melodies in verses and chorus. Psychedelic Pop. The guitar crunch returns for Coming home, a slower track with menacing yet melodic vocals, over a rolling tom beat, broken up by a superb gonzoid riff in the middle of the song.

Love of god illustrates both of my qualms above. It's basically an attempt to write a heavy metal version of U2's Pride, but it's too overt. On the other hand, Down by the ocean is a corker. Starting with grinding guitar which subsides in the verses and returns for the choruses, it has a great groove and strong double tracked vocals. But who invited Axl into the studio at the end of the song? My life is Beatle-esque, with clean guitar, vocal melodies, and a kazoo solo for god's sake!

Until this stage the guitars have frequently been heavy but the band haven't pressed the pedal to the metal. This changes with Month of Sundays and Ugly. The former is uncannily like Velvet Revolver (15 years ahead of their time!), right down to the Weiland like vocals.

Come Take Me Now features acoustic guitar, a big rousing chorus (time to get those lighters out! Hmmm, that's so last century, how about get those mobile phones out!) and a suitably tortured guitar solo.

Saigon Kick - 1991 - Self titled

1. New World
2. What You Say
3. What Do You Do
4. Suzy
5. Colors
6. Coming Home
7. Love Of God
8. Down By The Ocean
9. Acid Rain
10. My Life
11. Month Of Sundays
12. Ugly
13. Come Take Me Now
14. I.C.U.

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JPS experience - Bleeding Star

JPS experience, or to use their full (and rather pretensious) name, Jean Paul Sartre experience), were Flying Nun label-mates of fellow Kiwis Straightjacket Fits, whose Blow album was previously reviewed in this blog. Like The House of Love, JPS experience played sublime indie pop with a shoegazer influence.
Imagine an amiable sounding Luke Haines fronting JAMC (Jesus and Mary Chain) and you're in the right ballpark!

Bleeding Star was the band's fourth and final album. Opener Into you is sublime noisy atmospheric pop, with drawn out and dreamy vocals and great shoegazer guitars which give the song a similar feel to Bowie's Heroes. Ray of Shine is a lighter and poppier song which uses The House of Love approved tremolo guitar to great effect.

Spaceman is based around a (sampled?) shoegazer guitar hook which continues throughout most of the song. The stop-start bassline provides a subtle groove, and extra guitars pile in to provide added dynamics as appropriate.

Still can't be seen is subdued, based around clean guitar and vocals, with interesting atmospheric guitar effects and reverse tracked lead guitar. It has a early JAMC acoustic influence (e.g. Some Candy Talking), right down to the Jim Reid like vocal twang. Modus Vivendi continues the JAMC theme, with the shoegazer feedback guitar giving a feel similar to You trip me up

Bleeding star has a subtle groove, with whispered vocals, chiming guitars, and an uplifting chorus. Breathe is sparse and relaxed, with lolloping bass, reverberated vocals, and guitars drooping in and out.

Block features a doomy atmospheric intro, before settling into a slow subtle groove, driven by a Walk on the wild side influenced bassline which carries melody throughout verses, while the guitars provide a subdued atmospheric sound collage. Angel features subtle vocals and chiming arpeggiated guitar over radio conversation.

JPS experience - 1993 - Bleeding Star

1. Intro
2. Into You
3. Ray of Shine
4. I Believe in You
5. Spaceman
6. Still Can't Be Seen
7. Bleeding Star
8. Breathe
9. Modus Vivendi
10. Block
11. Angel

FLAC: Pt1, Pt2, Pt3

Sunday, March 6, 2011

PJ Harvey - 2011-02-19 - Rob Da Bank Show, BBC

As I mentioned in the introduction to this blog, it's hard for me to find time to spend on this blog, what with my work, partner, kids, dog, cat, etc all vying for my time, and so many great blogs to read, and so much great music to download and listen to....plus the cricket world cup! So something to tide things over to my next post.

By now y'all hopefully know the wonderful PJ Harvey has released her new album, Let England Shake. And I'm afraid to admit I haven't got my hot little hands on it just yet. But before you label me a heretic, I'll point out that I've heard about half the tracks from the album from FM shows and video that people have put up on the interweb - including this gem...

PJ Harvey
Rob Da Bank Show
BBC Radio 1
Maida Vale
Broadcast early morning 19th February 2011
Recorded the previous week, probably 8th February 2011

1. DJ Intro
2. Chat
3. The Words That Maketh Murder
4. DJ Outro
5. Chat
6. Bitter Branches
7. Jingle
8.Written On The Forehead
9. DJ Outro


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Toll - The Price of Progression

I know it's fashionable to like lyrics that are oblique or vague enough to fit your life experience, but I've always been a sucker for songs with lyrics that tell a story. Especially when those lyrics are spoken, e.g. The Gift by Velvet Underground, River of Money by the Go-Betweens. And if those lyrics also detail some kind of injustice, such as Silver and Gold and Bullet the Blue Sky from U2s Rattle and Hum, you've got me hook line and sinker. If you're in the same boat, then have I got an album for you......

The Toll are another band that emerged from the post-hair metal pre-grunge era. They primarily played an appealing, competent, but not particularly unique gothic hard rock. What distinguished them from the masses was their penchant to stretch out some of their songs with passionate and compelling spoken word narratives. Their debut album, The Price of Progression, features three such songs, each exceeding 10 minutes, interspersed with shorter straight rock songs. I used to think the two distinct song types were some indication of musical schizophrenia! I later came to realise the shorter songs were a form of light relief - an album full of these longer songs may have come across like being on the frontline!

Jonathan Toledo, the first of the narrative songs, describes the persecution of the American Indians. It starts atmospherically, with sparse drumming and reverberated lead guitar, with the drums kicking in for the chorus. At the 5 minute mark the guitar drops out and the narrative begins, describing the authors trip to a reservation: what right do I have to walk confidently?

Anna-41-box is about a dispirited middle aged woman in an unhappy marriage and the indignity of having to satisfy her husbands sexual urges - the crucifixion of womanhood. It starts with subdued arpeggiated guitar, and slowly builds until the music drops out, leaving a lone voice singing, before the narrative starts.

The third narrtive song,  Living in the valley of pain, starts with lone vocals for the first minute. It tells the story of Jameson Rain, the creative child of orthodox religious and close minded parents Vincent and Dorothy River, who wouldn't follow the rivers meander.

The narrative songs are worth the price of admission themselves. They are all immense.

Of the shorter songs, opener Jazz Clone Clown is a catchy and raucous opener, with the short narrative towards the end giving some indication of what is to follow. Soldiers room, Tamara told me and Stand in Winter, featuring the mighty Mick Ronson on guitar, are more commercial, but still have teeth.

For more info on The Toll, check out the cool fan page at http://www.gregsvoice.com/toll/, from where the above photo was liberated!

The Toll - 1988 - The Price of Progression

1. Jazz Clone Clown
2. Jonathan Toledo
3. Smoke Another Cigarette
4. Soldier's Room
5. Word of Honor
6. Anna-41-Box
7. Tamara Told Me
8. Living in the Valley of Pain
9. Stand in Winter
FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4