Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another Report on Roddy

Can it get any better than Roddy Frame performing 'High Land, Hard Rain' in its entirety? Well, no, no it can't, but this is pretty damn close. Just two days after that colossal announcement on the trio of upcoming 30th anniversary shows we get more news from the man behind Aztec Camera. Here is the latest on Frame, via email blast from

"Over the summer months of 2013, [Roddy's] been recording at West Heath Studios in London and a new album is nearing completion. Co-produced with Sebastian Lewsley, this will be Roddy's first studio album since 2006. So far nameless, but with a release scheduled for springtime, the album already has a home at AED Records. This brings full-circle a friendship of thirty years, as AED is hosted by Edwyn Collins, Roddy's friend and label-mate back in the days of Postcard Records of Scotland."

Is this a good time to be a Frame fan, or what? While we are waiting for the big shows and new album, check out these Frame and Collins items at the AED store. Lots of cool Postcard apparel for purchase. I'm all over that "Just Like Gold" T-shirt.

Aztec Camera - Just Like Gold (mp3)

Update: The powers that be pulled the plug on the piece I posted on Friday, and I was sent a DMCA notice. So much for my attempts to help the Clash and their label sell copies of 'Live at Shea Stadium.' Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Quotes on the Clash's 'London Calling'

Today, the Wall Street Journal's "Anatomy of a Song" series calls on the surviving members of the Clash for their thoughts on "London Calling," and it's a fascinating read. Did you know Joe Strummer's "seagull cries" were influenced by Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay?" Never heard that one. Read more here.

The timing for this introspection is the impending 12-disc behemoth of Clash recordings, "Sound System," coming out Sept. 10. This one is calling me. At nearly $200, however, I may not be able to answer.

Here's a classic from 'Live at Shea Stadium,' circa 1982.

Update: Sorry, folks. This link was yanked.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Another Trip to Glasgow?

This is so very tempting. Just before bed last night I checked my email and found this little nugget sent from If I went all of the way over there for Big Country's 'The Crossing,' then how could I possibly reason passing this one up? Here was the message in its entirety:

High Land, Hard Rain 30th Anniversary Concerts

To commemorate The 30th Anniversary of the release of "HIGH LAND, HARD RAIN" and the impending re-release of the album on vinyl, Roddy and his band are playing 3 shows in December, where he will perform the album in it's entirety alongside songs from his catalogue.

Dates are

Sunday 1st London Theatre Royal Dury Lane,
Tuesday 3rd Manchester Bridgewater Hall,
Wednesday 4th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

If you subscribe to Frame's email blasts, as I do, you can buy tickets through a presale right now. Otherwise, tickets go on sale to the public on Friday morning (that would be 2AM here in Seattle). This would be a big one for me... one of my favorite artists performing, perhaps, my favorite album of all time. So, after reading this news, I couldn't sleep. So many questions: Who is going to be "his band?" Will Frame perform the B-sides like Pixies did with 'Doolittle?' Better get going. I don't have much time to wear down Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives. It would be great if Frame pulled out this "Oblivious" flip side.

Aztec Camera - Orchid Girl (mp3)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Perusing Portland's Record Bins

After three years of living (and record shopping) in Seattle, I have begun to widen the net a bit. I have no idea if the locals consider it one of the better shops in Portland, but roughly three hours down Interstate 5 I discovered a vinyl oasis.

Crossroads Music (3130 SE Hawthorne, pictured above) is not a record store in the traditional sense. It's a bunch of dealers sharing space under one roof. This makes for thorough coverage of every genre imaginable, but it also presents some unique challenges for the customer. The organization is atrocious. I asked where I could find a particular Everything But the Girl 12", and I was directed to a few areas. So, in other words, this isn't the ideal shop for a quick pop-in. You're going to need some time, but treasures abound. This is not like a flea market. You don't deal with a slew of sellers for each area of the shop. When you gather your goodies, you take them to the one counter just like you would for any other record store. The staff at that counter seemed to know their stuff and were good for a chat. I came across a handful of albums I thought were priced a bit high, but most of the stock seemed right on the mark. I even managed to pick up a few nice pieces for under $4 each.

I know there are other well-known Portland-area records shops with stellar reputations, and I have visited a couple of these so-called "gems," but I can truthfully proclaim Crossroads the best I have visited thus far.

Now for a couple I picked up while in "The City of Roses." Back in February 2012, Dirk over at the well-done blog Sexyloser (You are missed!) presented a post on mod-revival band Merton Parkas. Being a huge fan of the Style Council, I was curious about Mick Talbot's old group. I really liked the retro sound of the song Dirk chose, and I told myself if I was ever lucky enough to find their one, somewhat obscure album, 'Face in the Crowd' from '79, I would snatch it up. Thank you, Dirk... and Crossroads.

The other record that made my heart skip a beat when I flipped to it was a 12" single from the legendary June Brides. "In the Rain"/"Every Conversation" also includes "Sunday to Staturday" and "Disneyland." Keepers one and all. If you already have the fantastic double disc 'Every Conversation: The Story of June Brides & Phil Wilson' that Cherry Red put out a while back, this might not seem like such a big deal, but June Brides on vinyl in this country is a rare find, indeed. I'm still after some of the band's 7" singles, but I didn't have time to tackle that area. I'll look forward to that endeavor the next time I'm in town.

The Merton Parkas - Face in the Crowd (mp3)
The June Brides - In the Rain (mp3)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Give La Luz a Listen

Thanks to KEXP playing this one two days in a row (that's all it took), I can't get this song out of my head. Seattle quartet La Luz has taken just about every element I love about '60s rock and tossed it into this three-minute lo-fi gem... surf, garage, girl group... and I'm so hooked on that pseudo-organ sound. Suicide Squeeze Records didn't bunt with these gals! "Brainwash" has apparently been doing quite well. A second pressing of the 7" on clear vinyl should ship at the end of the week. I'm all over that.

Monday, August 12, 2013

'Brilliant' Vinyl Reissue From Monochrome Set

Mad super-terrific props go out to Optic Nerve Recordings for resurrecting a long-forgotten compilation from the Monochrome Set... and on vinyl to boot. 'Volume, Contrast, Brilliance... Singles & Sessions Vol. 1' first saw the light of day as a Cherry Red release in 1983, and it has been reissued a time or two since, but it's been a bloody tough find for years. With each successive reissue has come an additional track or two, and this time around is no different. Check out the new tracklist and purchasing info here. Even if, like me, you have those fantastic early albums, you need this record. It's chock full of B-sides, radio-session versions and singles that were never on 'The Strange Boutique,' 'Love Zombies' or 'Eligible Bachelors.' And if you don't already have that triple-header, get on it, man!

To get you in the mood for the Monochrome Set, here is one of my all-time favorites of the non-single variety. You'll find it on 'Eligible Bachelors.' Like most Bid-penned songs, it's droll and very British to these American ears.

The Monochrome Set - I'll Scry Instead (mp3)

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Bicycles Are Back

In case you missed it, as I did until just a few days ago, here's a little PSA. I thought Toronto's the Bicycles had put it in park permanently. There hadn't been a new album since the wonderful 'Oh No, It's Love' back in 2008. I would do Internet searches on them from time to time, but after so many years, I had given up hope on any news. Turns out they kicked the tires in 2012 with a little reunion that turned into a new album that came out this past spring. I couldn't be happier with the results. Lots of the band's usual indie pop is here, but there are a couple of numbers that might make you think they have grown up a bit. Give 'Stop Thinking So Much' a listen below, and then order it here in the format of your choice. This one will have you doing pop a wheelies.

Related: Top 100 Tracks of the Decade No. 100-No. 76
Related: First Listen: The Balconies

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chiming In For More China Crisis

Let's end the month the same way we started it... with a little China Crisis. This is the third (and best, in my humble opinion) single from the band's debut album, 'Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms Some People Think It's Fun to Entertain.' The Vinyl Villain called "Christian" "a lovely song" on the comments page from the earlier "Fire and Steel" post, and that's what made me pull it out the other day. I ripped this one from the 12" single, but it's the same as the album version. So, don't get too excited.

When I was rooting around the 'Net for the release date of the single (December 1982, by the way), I came across a post Friend of Rachel Worth from Cathedrals of Sound did a few years ago, He said "Christian" "includes a synth line that manages to be catchy but haunting at the same time and I'm not sure there is a mellower synth song from that era." Well said, sir. If you know much of China Crisis' work, this song is a fascinating listen. It's the first step in an evolution that continued for the entire decade.

China Crisis - Christian (mp3)

Buy 'Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms Some People Think It's Fun to Entertain.'