Friday, 18 December 2009

CD's of 2009

Is it unbearably tragic to do a Best of... listing? Tough, everyone seems to be doing it. I skimmed the NPR list and found much I agreed with and thought this possibly not a good thing, after all should I be aligned with such cross-Atlantic preferences? But then I looked at the Drowned In Sound version which was even more unsatisfactory, trying so hard as it seemed to be oh so out there and hip... Anyhoo for the record and for what its worth here is my top 10 of 2009 - but even as I write I can't be sure - oh to be decisive

No 1 - AndrewBird - Noble Beast

Possibly my most frequently played album of the year, quite mesmeric and beguiling. Andrew Bird Myspace

No 2 - Lonely Dear - Dear John

A mate of Mr Bird, this album too was on heavy rotation, an almost symphonic flavour to it at times. Lonely Dear Myspace

No 3 - Grizzly Bear - Vekatimest

This one took way to long to get under my skin, but it has and a very fine set of work it is too. Grizzly Bear Myspace

No 4 - Dark Soul of the Night

Crying shame this hasn't officially seen the light of day, so many good things here even for someone who doesn't normally like the Various Artist thing

Sorry the Youtube is vid free - but my absolute fav from the album

No 5 - Scott Matthews - Elsewhere

A great talent, superb musician and a great live performer. This second album was a grower. Scott Matthew Myspace

The Youtube vid is frankly a bit duff, but a great track

No 6 - Idlewild - Post Electric Blues

Just about my favourite band (this side of the water) come back with an album that is a real return to form - bless 'em. Idlewild Myspace

Oh for goodness sake - no Youtube of tracks from this album... come on

No 7 - Silversun Pickups - Swoon

Winner of the coolest album cover of the year... and the music ain't half bad either. Silversun Pickups Myspace

No 8 - Wheat - White Ink Black Ink

Brilliant - back on form and a whole album of good stuff. Wheat Myspace

No 9 - There Will Be Fireworks

From the slew of Scots bands these stand out for me, a great self release, would be good to see them live... hint, hint... There Will be Fireworks Myspace

'Midfield Maestro' by There Will Be Fireworks from Peter Gerard on Vimeo. OK Vimeo quality so much better than Youtube - but load times...

No 10 - We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls

A great, angry bunch of chaps, and a fie debut album - the third Scots band in the top ten this year.... WWPJ Myspace

Quiet Little Voices... ahhhh

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Homour Before Glory

I was a bit of Forward Russia fan, not least because of their extraordinary live performances, and when they announced a hiatus/break I was somewhat resigned to the fact that this was band-speak for an amicable split.

Well no news on FR stuff but more recently their guitarist Whiskas has resurfaced under the Honour Before Glory moniker. A few acoustic sets in Germany, apparently a Leeds date in the new year, and a couple of tracks available for download. Steve Lamacq a long standing FR fan has blogged about HBG recently.

All well worth a listen and strangely new but familiar stuff it is...

Honour Before Glory Myspace

Honour Before Glory website

Honour Before Glory Bandcamp for download and sign up

Whiskas Blog

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Scott Matthews - Birmingham Town Hall

A little bit of heaven sandwiched between two slices of misery. Perhaps unwittingly going to a gig in central Brum on a Friday night with a Christmas fair in full swing, a CBSO concert at Symphony Hall and the Paramore at the NIA wasn't such a piece of great timing. Almost an hour to park meant no time to eat anything save a hideous Mucky D's for me, the Lad and his better half, fresh from her first term at Cardiff; and the IDS was having problems getting into fair Birmingham town, so we were all late in for the start

The (relatively) newly refurbished Town Hall is a grand affair, comfy seats and all, but not perhaps the acoustically most forgiving venue with sounds ricocheting around the room despite the off perspex baffles hanging from the ceiling

James Summerfield was on first for a short but charming set not dissimilar from the one he played at the SM gig in Wolverhampton earlier this year. Mr Summerfield is a fine fellow, with some lovely tunes. Understandably grateful to SM for his continued support he should none the less learn to be a little less self deprecating and be a bit more comfortable with his own obvious talent. Still his apparently relaxed manner and gentle banter was a perfect opener.

Jo Hamilton drifted on accompanied by her bassist and keyboard/percussionist, towering over the mic in her over-long black trousered outfit. Having admitted to a horrendous cold that was all to evident when she spoke, you couldn't help but feel that she was courageous to come on at all. Her illness was invisible from her performance, an extraordinary voice and two fine colleagues. Perhaps the music was too melancholic for the occasion, but I was alone from we four to fine something quite beguiling and beautiful in the set, maybe in a more intimate space, perhaps on my own late at night.... the skills and musicianship is clearly there in spades, worthy of trying again it seems to me.

Mr Matthews on finally and opened with a couple of solo pieces and then one accompanied by Dan the dapper chappie with the hat. Then the remainder of the band came on, Sam the drummer and a now forgotten (sorry) bass player. A mix of stuff from the latest and first albums, everyone was in fine fettle, easy ways and expert playing. Mr M 'fessed to be being very nervous but I saw none of it.

There is something even more endearing about his music in a live context, his voice more abstract, a fluency to his playing all no doubt developed by a few years of live gigging now. I have quite forgotten the set order and it matters not, he could have played all night as far as I am concerned, by turns vaguely psychedelic folky rock-out and delicate, personal acoustic.

His ability to tune his guitar for the next song, despite a busy back stage helper, hasn't improved since we last saw him. But this helps with the between song banter and the curiously matey but nervous bonhomie.

A fine and moving hour and forty minutes set finished all too soon and we were off back into the Brummy Friday night, a few words with Mr Summerfield and then back to the car and to sit for 45 minutes to exit courtesy of the outpouring of the Paramore- ites from the NIA. There you have it, the sandwich - but worth every bit of the gruelling mess than can be Birmingham for Mr M's music. He really should be better and more widely appreciated, as the IDS said, with all the homogenised and sanitised 'talent' in the likes of X Factor clogging our ears, who in their right mind wouldn't prefer some genuine original talent like Scott Matthews?

The incomparable Elusive video below and other stuff on Youtube

Scott Matthews Myspace
James Summerfield Myspace
Jo Hamilton Myspace