Friday, January 22, 2021

Back to the Beginning

For the first time in years, I pulled out this single earlier this week. It's not that I don't like it, but there are so many other options to hear "All Fall Down" that I listen to more, such as the 1988 Creation comp 'Doing It For the Kids' or the 'Creation Soup' box of the label's first 50 singles. Other than the B-side of the "Crystal Crescent" single, which in my humble opinion is the quintessential 'C86' song, I haven't posted all that much from Primal Scream. I always feel like it could start a rumble. You see, I don't own so much as a single after 1989. For a few of you regulars out there, that's like enjoying the appetizer but skipping the entree completely. I can respect that, but you must know by now the early stuff would be right in my wheelhouse. Perhaps I take more stock in Jim Beattie's contributions than where Bobby Gillespie would move the band after he left. At any rate, this is a fan that thinks they peaked with "Gentle Tuesday." You can pick up your jaws now.

Here are both sides of CRE 17 from 1985. Bobby Gillespie was still beating the hell out of that snare for the Jesus and Mary Chain, but Jim and William gave Gillespie an ultimatum after this single. Goodbye Bobby. That's Françoise Hardy on the cover from her 1967 album 'Francoise In Germany.' Don't ask me what he's going on about on "All Fall Down." I once searched for the lyrics and got a good laugh when I saw lines like "To find a ???? for me" and "Spend my ???? ???? how I hope this feeling lasts." It's a mystery... but a fun one.

All Fall Down
It Happens

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

More From the Holiday Haul

Last year, I went gaga for 'Adelphi,' the long player from Sydney indie-pop vets Even As We Speak. It felt like I put it on the turntable in July and never took it off. This affection had me thinking it was time to fill a few of the band's holes on my shelves, and I asked Santa for some help. Sure enough, on Christmas morning, I found a couple of their singles from the Sarah era under the tree. From 1991, let's listen to Sarah 59. This is both sides of the "Beautiful Day" single. Each song is gorgeous pop with one of their patented breaks in the middle where everything goes off the rails before recovering. That uneasy feeling is perfectly illustrated with the beach scene of a lone half-buried grocery cart found on the sleeve. Listening to Mary's voice from 30 years ago, I can't help but marvel how she sounds at least this good (if not better!) on 'Adelphi.'

Beautiful Day
Nothing Much at All

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Another Mighty Mighty Fine Holiday Haul

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote about the Sha La La split flexi featuring Mighty Mighty and the Clouds that Santa had left under the tree. That prompted some friendly banter from our old pal Dirk in Germany who said, "If a gun were pointed at me in order to name my 10 all-time tunes, 'Gemini Smiles' would surely be on this list!" I made the ridiculous assumption he meant the studio version found on the 'Sharks' LP, the only take I knew. Silly me. He went on: "Yes, as neat as the 'Sharks' version is, I very much prefer the version from their second Peel session." If you know him, you understand the one from Peel is the only one he could have meant. I closed with, "[Mighty Mighty] had three total [Peel] sessions in '86 and '87... All of those songs together would make a hell of a release."

Later that day, after a little digging to find Dirk's coveted "Gemini Smiles" from Peel, I discovered, in fact, all of Mighty Mighty's BBC's sessions (the three from Peel plus one from Janice Long) had been compiled by Vinyl Japan (who else?) in 2001. I hunted around for a copy, but there didn't seem to be one available anywhere at the time. I mentioned it to Santa, and she (whoops, I mean he, sorry kids!) remembered when Christmas came around again. I can't help but wonder, could there be anyone else in the world who received something by Mighty Mighty for Christmas two years in a row? If you're out there, let me know. I want to be friends.

These two from the Beeb are dedicated to Dirk. It's been far too long. I hope you and your family are well. More from the holiday haul next time.

Throwaway (recorded March 25, 1986)
Gemini Smiles (recorded Sept. 24, 1986)

Friday, January 8, 2021

Derailed '80s Indie-Pop Band Back on Track

If you are a fan of Candy Opera, and I imagine you are or you probably wouldn't be here, this will sound like a familiar story: Great but undiscovered UK band from the '80s is heard by Uwe Weigmann of Firestation Records. The label grabs what they can and releases a compilation all these decades later and to critical acclaim. This lights a fire under the lads, and they give the band another go. The new songs, miraculously, sound as if the band never disappeared at all. In short, Daniel Takes A Train is a rerun you're sure to enjoy.

Before we get to the new album, let's refresh your memory with a couple of songs from that 2018 comp 'Style, Charm and Commotion.' You can't help but go back to 1987 and think coulda, shoulda, woulda been huge, eh? You're in luck because Firestation has this title (and many others) on sale this month.

That brings us to the end of 2020 and the release of brand-new music from Daniel Takes A Train. Album 'Last Ticket to Tango' melds a few musical styles, but to these ears, the band is strongest when they bring the jangle and sophisti-pop. Some of the bands they have been compared to include ABC, Orange Juice, the Style Council, Trash Can Sinatras, Prefab Sprout, Lloyd Cole, Vampire Weekend, the Divine Comedy, Real Estate, the Smiths and the aforementioned Candy Opera. I agree with a few of those, but the point is they are tough to pin down. None of that matters. Daniel Takes A Train is on their own trip, and 'Last Ticket to Tango' should be part of your itinerary. Check out the jangly "Honeymoon."

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Filing Day

New Year's Day is when I take all of the records bought in the last year from my box marked "recently purchased" and put them in their permanent places on the shelf. Then I spend the next 365 days filling the box and repeating. This is how I keep track of what will go on my year-end lists. Unfortunately, I found out in 2020 this is no longer a fullproof way to keep my lists organized.

For the first time ever, I had music worthy of inclusion bought only as a digital download. This pains me beyond belief. I imagine most of you got over this many years ago, but I'm stubborn, old and set in my ways. You are supposed to be able to hold an album. Nothing to put in the box meant the risk of forgetting something on my year-end list. Out of sight, out of mind, you might say. There were two titles I was meant to remember. The live album 'The Haywains Have Left The Building!' made it. 'Needs Help' by the Very Most did not. Listen, I know my list of best albums means little in this world, but there are a few like-minded people who read it. They may have bought 'Needs Help' on my insignificant stamp of approval. I hope this mention will put a few more shekels in the pockets of Jeremy Jensen and Co.

'Needs Help' came out on CD via Spanish indie label Kocliko Records. There were 130 copies, and I missed out on the small run. Too bad because it's an album that would have been in my top 20. This download issue is bound to increase in ensuing years. Guess I had better start keeping a spreadsheet or something. Now for something completely different. I just bought 'Needs Help' on cassette from Seattle-based Lost Sound Tapes. Lots of firsts surrounding this album. Sounds crazy, but if you're a fan and haven't bought the album yet, this is not a bad way to go. Costs $6 and comes with a download. Even if you haven't played tapes in decades, c'mon, $6 for the digital album alone is a steal. Don't sit on the fence, though. There were only 100 copies of the cassette made. Check it out here.

There isn't a dress code when it comes to filing my records, but I thought it might be fun to wear one of these T-shirts while putting records away and listening to one of these 2020 reissues hot off the vinyl presses. It was a tough choice, and I considered a wardrobe change halfway through the exercise. Here's a huge hint on my decision. If you love the Blubells, here is a real treat. Listen to the lads discussing 'Sisters' for damn near two hours!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

NYE With Big Country

Another New Year's Eve is upon us. As I always do at this time, I will spend the evening getting drunk on nostalgia and partying like it's 1983. Yes, it's time to pull out my DVD of Big Country's legendary New Year's Eve show at Barrowland.
I'll hit the play button at exactly 11:31PM, and the bells will toll at midnight right along with the show, about four minutes into "The Storm." Stuart and the lads will welcome the Dundonald & Dysart Pipe Band to the stage for the most Scottish moment you'll ever see at a rock concert. For a moment, I'll be filled with the same excitement I felt as a fresh-faced 14 year old watching the spectacle on MTV. Then I'll pop a cork, raise a toast to 2021 with Mrs. LTL and watch the rest of the songs from 'The Crossing.' We will no doubt reminisce about our own adventure to see a reformed Big Country at Barrowland in 2012. No, not quite the same as the show we will be watching from the sofa, but it's the closest we will ever get to this time-machine moment.
I imagine your plans will be a little bit different. No matter how you celebrate tonight, and I know this is a particularly tough one, just remember better times are ahead. Happy New Year! Take care. Stuart's words were never more apt: Stay alive!

The Storm
Dundonald & Dysart Pipe Band Sequence
In a Big Country/Auld Lang Syne
Interview with Stuart Adamson about NYE show

Monday, December 28, 2020

Favorite Albums of 2020

Sorry, but this is going to be a humbug moment. As you can see in the photo above, there are quite a few CDs on my pile of 2020 albums (about 50/50 this year). There are a few reasons for this, and at least one of them is unique to 2020 in that I bought so many records online and paid a small fortune in some cases to get them shipped. If I have to spend more than the price of an album itself in shipping costs, then I would rather pay $10-$15 for a CD than, say, $35 for a piece of vinyl.

This is a plea to the powers that be. I would almost accept the high prices for vinyl if I was guaranteed a nice crisp sound when I put it on the turntable. Too many times in the past couple of years I have received vinyl that sounds just terrible. Surface noise, pops, warps and inferior transfers seem so commonplace now I often don't want to take the risk and go the CD route instead. It's no fun to put on a new record and feel anxiety as the first chords come on... will it be alright? This should be my favorite moment of the day. Oh, and don't feel like colored vinyl is needed on my account. I don't care.

I'll save my gripes about dinged covers and bent corners for another time. That's often a postal service issue, and I know I will eventually get back to the shops when I can see the product before I buy it. All I'm asking for is more quality control when it comes to the vinyl, please. Now back to our regularly scheduled program. As mentioned on my list of favorite songs, lost albums seeing the light of day for the first time in 2020 are elgible.

1. Even as We Speak - 'Adelphi'
My favorite album six months ago is my favorite today. I was certain of this when I did my list of favorite songs last week and off the top of my head came up with a half-dozen candidates from this LP. Quality.

2. The Muldoons - 'Made for Each Other'
From the ashes of the Church Grims, one of my favorite Scottish jangle bands, arose, well, a more sophisticated Scottish jangle band... and they didn't forget the trumpet!

3. Dead Famous People - 'Harry'
Dons Savage has quite the pedigree. Her band was on Flying Nun and Billy Bragg's Utility Records. She sang lead on Saint Etienne's cover of "Kiss and Make Up" and background on The Chills' "Heavenly Pop Song." After raising son Harry, she returns with a stunning debut LP.

4. Close Lobsters - 'Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera in the Forest of Symbols'
My only beef is side 2 came from previously released EPs. The album takes you right back to 'Foxheads' as if the last three decades never happened.

5. Jetstream Pony - 'Jetstream Pony'
Indie heroes Beth Arzy and Shaun Charman are no strangers on these pages. This band had my No. 7 song in 2017, No. 1 song in 2018 and No. 1 song in 2019. Yes, you could say a good showing for their debut long player was inevitable. They kept their top-10 streak alive on my list of favorite songs this year too.

6. Strawberry Generation - 'Afloat'
The Providence band blossomed this year with a stellar EP and LP on Sunday Records. This is sunny indie pop best described as the edgy side of twee. Often when a boy and a girl share lead vocal duties, my allegiance tends to eventually favor the female, but I have enjoyed both Luk and Val at the microphone. Comparisons have been made to Alvvays and Say Sue Me, but the former has more synths and the latter is harder. I'll go with later Pains of Being Pure at Heart when Kip got all poppy.

7. Dropkick - 'The Scenic Route'
They're a little bit country (early Jayhawks) and a little bit rock 'n' roll (Teenage Fanclub around 'Songs From Northern Britain') and have somehow improved upon 2018 album 'Longwave...' and that's saying a lot.

8. The Apartments - 'In and Out of the Light'
I confessed on these pages I didn't know much about Peter Milton Walsh or the Apartments until a couple of years ago when I read Robert Forster's 'Grant & I.' That book lit a fire under me, and I have been making up for lost time. If you are already a fan, you no doubt understand a trip with Walsh is going to be beautiful, emotional and, by its conclusion, exhausting but highly rewarding. This is a true album best heard from beginning to end.

9. Exploding Flowers - 'Stumbling Blocks'
When the Beautiful Sound signed these guys this year, their sound was described in the press release as follows: "...[J]angle pop that touches on 70's-era Chilton/Twilley, mid-80's 'Splash Of Colour' scene and the early Creation sound, New Zealand guitar pop of The Chills & The Bats, hints of the Australian label Summershine Records, L.A.'s Paisley Underground, and 90's noise pop all perfectly mutated, and swirled into their own modern day hook-filled racket." I can't do any better than that.

10. The Luxembourg Signal - 'The Long Now'
Beth Arzy strikes again (on my lists this year with Jetstream Pony and the Treasures of Mexico 7")! The Luxembourg Signal are seasoned vets on this countdown and continue to satisfy with their lush and fuzzy dreampop. On the darkness scale, their third album is in the middle between the poppy debut and the somewhat bleak but beautiful 'Blue Field.' Perfect production makes this (along with 'Adelphi') the best sounding album on the list.

And the rest...

11. Candy Opera - 'The Patron Saint of Heartache'
12. Basic Plumbing - 'Keeping Up Appearances'
13. Lisa Mychols & SUPER 8 - 'Lisa Mychols & SUPER 8'
14. Bob - 'You Can Stop That For a Start'
15. Wolfhounds - 'Electric Music'
16. Whyte Horses - 'Hard Times'
17. The Proctors - 'Summer Lane'
18. The Beths - 'Jump Rope Gazers'
19. Supercrush - 'SODO Pop'
20. Gary Olson - 'Gary Olson'
21. Andy Bell - 'The View From Halfway Down'
22. Nah - 'Nah...'
23. The Bell Streets - 'Monument'
24. A Girl Called Eddy - 'Been Around'
25. X - 'Alphabetland'
26. The Bats - 'Foothills'
27. The Stroppies - 'Look Alive!'
28. Lunchbox - 'After School Special'
29. Smokescreens - 'A Strange Dream'
30. Ezrat - 'Carousel'
31. The Just Joans - 'The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of The Just Joans'
32. Easy - 'Radical Innocence'
33. The Proper Ornaments - 'Mission Bells'
34. Davey Woodward and the Winter Orphans - 'Love & Optimism'
35. BOAT - 'Tread Lightly'
36. Various Artists - 'Somewhere in England: A Sunday Records Tribute to They Go Boom!!'
37. Peel Dream Magazine - 'Agitprop Alterna'
38. Paul McCartney - 'III'
39. The Psychedelic Furs - 'Made of Rain'
40. (tie) Mt. Doubt - 'Doubtlands'
40. (tie) The Flatmates - 'The Flatmates'

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Have a Merry (Allo Darlin') Christmas

I know there are a few scrooges out there that don't care for holiday music. I get it. The same handful of tired songs heard over and over again gets on my nerves too. If you know where to look, however, I also think there are plenty of original tunes and takes to keep you in a festive mood. I have made it a tradition to pick up a holiday title every Christmas for as long as I can remember. Given my age, at this point, you can guess I have a pretty decent collection. This year's find nearly had me jumping up and down in the shop when I came across it a few months ago. I'm a huge fan of Allo Darlin'. In fact, along with the School, I would say they are probably my favorite band of the last decade. It was a very sad day when Allo Darlin' called it quits.

For those of you who own the Japanese version of the band's self-titled debut on Fastcut Records from 2010, finding the EP "Merry Christmas from Allo, Darlin" is no great shakes because it was included as a bonus disc. Still, it's cool to have the separate sleeve and CD from the original. This is very early Allo Darlin', 2008, to be exact. So early that the band was still using a comma between Allo and Darlin' in their name. So early, in fact, Elizabeth Morris was going by Elizabeth Darling, fresh off of her brief stint as the Darlings. She shares time on the CD with Allo Darlin' drummer Mike Collins on glockenspiel, bass and background vocals. It is described on the back cover as a lo-fi Christmas record, and it is, as the miniscule contrast between "S P A C E Christmas" recorded in the studio and at home illustrates. Like all Allo Darlin' recordings, it's still a charmer.

S P A C E Christmas
Will You Please Spend New Year's Eve With Me?
Baby, It's Cold Outside
Wannadies Christmas
S P A C E Christmas (Demo Version)

While we are back in 2008, let's check out a little bit more of Elizabeth before Allo Darlin' hit the big time. If it isn't already obvious, I have had a little crush since seeing her in the video for "Do You Want A Boyfriend?" when she was in Tender Trap more than a decade ago...

I still owe you a list of my favorite albums for 2020. I'm tardy, but it's on the way. Happy holidays, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Favorite Reissues of 2020

Music is what got me through this miserable year. To be more specific, in many cases, it was the music from my youth that soothed me. Hell, even much of the new music I bought sounds like it came from my youth, but we'll get to those later. For now, let's listen to the literal old stuff. First, a quick rundown of the reissues I wish I had picked up but didn't because they were either too expensive or sold out too quickly. That would include mammoth box sets by Prince, Pylon and the Divine Comedy. All three have been heralded, and I will probably regret not picking them up for years to come.
One of my resolutions this year was to avoid reissues if I already owned all or nearly all of the material already. In many instances, I failed, but I did manage to stay away from amazing releases from the Chills, Lou Reed, the Specials, Bob Mould, Razorcuts and McCarthy for that reason. I can't tell you how difficult that was. I had to tell myself over and over it was okay to stick with my old CD even though it was finally out on vinyl. As I have said before on these pages, it's a sickness, but even I realize it's ridiculous to pay $36 for 'Submarine Bells.'
I decided to cap this list at 30 (although I cheated a bit by having more than one title in a few places). In case you're curious, the last two out were the 'Elektrafied - The Elektra Years 1979-1982' box by power-pop band Shoes and "Dubs" 10" from the Specials. I was pleasntly surprised to find vinyl was still the majority on this list. I'm not sure that will be the case when I get to new releases. More on that subject next time too. I usually try to give a brief explanation of each with the list, but I'm pressed for time this year. Where I could, I have linked to pages that should help with questions and how to buy (if not already sold out). Happy listening.

1. Various Artists - 'Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983 - 1987'
2. The Bluebells - 'Sisters' (Monorail Edition)
3. Various Artists - Optic Sevens 2.0
4. The Bachelor Pad - 'All Hash and Cock' and "Meet the Lovely Jenny Brown"
5. Robert Forster - 'Danger in the Past' and 'Calling From a Country Phone'
6. Kirsty MacColl - 'Other People’s Hearts'
7. The Church Grims - 'Yankee Mags'
8. The Primitives - 'Bloom! The Full Story 1985-1992'
9. Heavenly - 'A Bout De Heavenly: The Singles'
10. Wilco - 'Summerteeth'
11. East Village - 'Hotrod Hotel'
12. The Haywains - 'The Haywains Have Left The Building!'
13. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - 'Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In)'
14. The Times - "Red With Purple Flashes"
15. The Monochrome Set - 'Little Noises 1990-1995'
16. BMX Bandits - 'C86'
17. Love Tractor - 'Love Tractor'
18. Hangman's Beautiful Daughters - 'Smashed Full of Wonder'
19. Joy Division - "Transmission," "Atmosphere" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
20. Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks - 'Orange Crate Art'
21. Roger Joseph Manning Jr. - 'The Land Of Pure Imagination'
22. Pretenders - 'Live! At The Paradise Theater, Boston, 1980'
23. The Pale Fountains - 'Longshot for Your Love'
24. The Lucksmiths - 'A Good Kind of Nervous'
25. The Friday Club - 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'
26. Marshall Crenshaw - 'Miracle of Science'
27. The Distractions - 'Nobody's Perfect'
28. The Pale Saints - 'The Comforts of Madness'
29. The Revillos - 'Stratoplay'
30. The Wee Cherubs - 'The Merry Makers'

Friday, December 18, 2020

A Festive 50: Favorite Songs and EPs of 2020

The photo above is a sample of singles and EPs on this list, as well as a couple of LPs that featured a song or two I liked but won't make the cut on my countdown of favorite albums. Some years it's tough to keep the songs/EPs list at 50. Other years I scrape a bit to round it out. In 2020, it was the former, and I had to leave off some great tunes from the likes of Peter Hall, Pauline Murray, Helen Love, BOAT, A Girl Called Eddy, Helen Love, Spinning Coin, the Just Joans, Flatmates, the Bell Streets, Red Sleeping Beauty, Swansea Sound, Secret Shine ("Ember" was the odd one out at No. 51), the Psychedelic Furs, Real Estate, the Verlaines... well, you get the point.

A quick reminder on the rules: A couple of these songs debuted in various ways before this year but appeared on 2020 albums. I consider these fair game. As usual, one slot per band. Songs from lost albums that have never been given a proper release are eligible (such as from Bob and the Proctors). You will notice Lisa Mychols & SUPER 8 have two songs at No. 12. I'm cheating a little there. These are tracks one and two from an album that are fine on their own but work much better listened to back to back. What did you like this year? What did I miss? Rants and raves in the comments, please. It's a great way to discover new music. These should keep you busy while I assemble my albums and reissues lists. Hope to have those up early next week. Thank you for listening.

1. The Muldoons - "In Love Again"
2. Even As We Speak - "Forgiving"
3. The Treasures of Mexico - "Heart Shaped Clock"
4. Close Lobsters - "All Compasses Go Wild"
5. Jetstream Pony - "It's Fine"
6. The Claim - "Spring Turns to Winter"
7. Strawberry Generation - "Lying to Lauren"
8. Gary Olson - "Giovanna Please"
9. Candy Opera - "These Days Are Ours"
10. Dropkick - "Feeling Never Goes Away"
11. Basic Plumbing - "As You Disappear"
12. Lisa Mychols & SUPER 8 - "What Will Be?" and "Trip & Ellie's Music Factory"
13. Pale Lights - "You and I"
14. Nah... - "Finger on the Map"
15. X - "Alphabetland"
16. King Creosote - "Cath"
17. Whyte Horses - "Ça Plane Pour Moi"
18. Andy Bell - "Love Comes in Waves"
19. Dead Famous People - "Looking at Girls"
20. Green Gartside - "Wishing Well"
21. The Apartments - "Pocketful of Sunshine"
22. Northern Portrait - "At Attention"
23. The Luxembourg Signal - "Mourning Moon"
24. The Beths - "Jump-Rope Gazers"
25. Nick Lowe - "Lay It on Me Baby"
26. Seablite - "High-Rise Mannequins EP"
27. Pretenders - "The Buzz"
28. The Bats - "Warwick"
29. Strawberry Whiplash - "Press 4 for Love"
30. Jeanines - "Things Change EP"
31. Exploding Flowers - "Stumbling Blocks"
32. Lunchbox - "Over Way Too Soon"
33. Stuart Moxham & Louis Philippe - "Tide Away"
34. Sleuth - "Flowers"
35. The Umbrellas - "Maritime E.P."
36. The Proper Ornaments - "Purple Heart"
37. Bob - "Telepathy"
38. Wolfhounds - "Can't See the Light"
39. The Lickerish Quartet - "Fadoodle"
40. Peel Dream Magazine - "Pill"
41. Supercrush - "Get It Right"
42. Smokescreens - "Fork in the Road"
43. Royal Landscaping Society - "Frost"
44. The Proctors - "These Ember Days"
45. Ezrat - "Loud Sounds"
46. Davey Woodward and the Winter Orphans - "Occupy This Space"
47. European Sun - "Favourite Day"
48. The Stroppies - "Look Alive"
49. Elvis Costello - "No Flag"
50. The Jayhawks - "This Forgotten Town"

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Catching Up on 2019 (Part 3)

I thought I would follow the two previous posts featuring a reissue and and two albums that should have made my best-of lists in 2019 with something that would have rated highly on my favorite songs/EPs of 2019... if only I had picked it up sooner. I became aware of Toronto-based jangle-pop band Ducks Unlimited through my pal Howard at IndiePopSavedMyLife. He did not miss giving this outfit accolades on his year-end list, and I made a note to keep an eye out for "Get Bleak," a four-song EP Spanish label Bobo Integral released near the end of the year. (With bands like Dropkick, Blue Jeans and Ezrat on the roster, Bobo Integral really deserves a post of their own, but I'm getting off topic.)

Well, needless to say, I didn't get to too many shops in 2020, but I did find the 7" at my lone trip to Jigsaw Records this year. You'll hear a lot of Flying Nun and Sarah in their songs that do indeed cover the bleakness of life while sounding anything but. These are the only songs we have in the brief career of Ducks Unlimited, but they have whet my appetite for more. Here's a song about the new expensive condos consuming their hometown. This works well for those of us who live in and around Seattle too. Anyone remember the '80s new-wave band of the same name?

Gleaming Spires

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Catching Up on 2019 (Part 2)

Going to be a quick one today but wanted to tout a couple of albums I purchased in 2020 that most certainly would have been on my year-end list for 2019 if only I had picked them up sooner. Both of these bands can be summed up in one word... class.

First up is James Clarke Five. The Liverpudlian Clarke (not his real name) has had this incarnation since 2003, but he has been making music for decades. Perhaps you remember "Kardomah Cafe" when he fronted the Cherry Boys. I have to admit, this year was my first foray into his vast library, and that's because 'Parlour Sounds' came out on Canadian label the Beautiful Music. I'm always willing to take a punt on any of their stable of stars, and this album turned out to be the most rewarding risk I have ever taken with the outfit. 'Parlor Sounds' will take you back to the '60s, sometimes swingin', sometimes mod, sometimes baroque but always right on the mark. I can't recommend this album enough.

James Clarke Five - Under My Skin

In a coincidence, I have just seen my pal JC at the (new) Vinyl Villain is featuring this next band on this very day. That happens from time to time. If you know JC's true identity, this is not the only coincidence on this page, but I'll leave you to figure the other one out. Please visit his place to fill in the blanks about David Scott and one of Glasgow's most underrated bands, the Pearlfishers. Until this year, I always felt 2007 album 'Up With the Larks' was their best, but the gorgeous and lush 'Love & Other Hopeless Things' is the one I would direct you to now, especially if you can appreciate a little Burt Bacharach. There will be lots of banter in these parts about the best music that has come out this year, but if you missed these two albums from 2019, you need to go back and fill the holes.

The Pearlfishers - Love & Other Hopeless Things