Monday, 28 May 2007

Guilty Pleasures #2

Yes, yes, it is indeed true that Guilty Pleasures #1 took the form of 'Girlfriend' by Miss Avril Lavigne. But oh, do I have a treat for you. There isn't much to add to my last post here, apart from that this remix by Lil Mama is even better than the original. Pant-wettingly good, I swear. Take it, and run!

mp3: 'Girlfriend (Lil Mama Remix)' - Avril Lavigne

Friday, 25 May 2007

Old Trilogies Die Hard...

It has been far, far too long since Die Hard With A Vengeance. So long in fact that I can't even wait til the early July release of Live Free Or Die Hard before posting on just how excited I am. Whilst my sister twitches over every bit of McFly news on release, and my friends drool over gossip surrounding a Spice Girls reunion (despite the fact they never listen to their old stuff anymore), I sit here so filled to bursting with anticipation of John McClane's return that my leg hasn't stopped bouncing in a week.

The first Die Hard came out in 1988, about half a year after my birth. The second installment, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, came out in 1990. It took until 1995 for the third film, part re-invention of the series, Die Hard With A Vengeance, to arrive. I reckon my dad must have shown me the first film in the same year. I remember I was eight, and there were two bits of dodgy home-editing on my behalf - a brief flash of breasts near the beginning, and a bullet through the head twenty minutes or so later. I'm pretty sure that was it. Every swear word, including the whole 'Yippee-kay-ay...' bit left in for my eight year old eyes and ears. Sure, there were those two brief edits, and I got a stern-faced conversation from my father about appropiate words before we started, but ultimately I was watching an eighteen-rated film ten years early. And I got hooked quick.

mp3: Old Habits Die Hard - Mick Jagger & Dave Stewart

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Inspiration, No?

Due to the magic of, my new online file converting buddy, I can finally put this blog's namesake up. Zero 7 are, without a doubt, the best ambient dance act ever to come out of anywhere. Massive Attack would give every single one of their limbs to be as consistantly beautiful and mesmerising as Zero 7. The band's first two albums featured vocalists such as Tina Dico, Sophie Barker and Sia - all fantastic performers with unique voices. Both albums had a couple of standout tracks that remain today in my top twenty-five of all time (it's an elaborate list). By the time it came to their third album, 'The Garden', Zero 7 grew within themselves to create something unlike their previous works, but maintaining the chillout vibe. They dropped Dico and Barker, keeping only the perfectly child-like voice of Sia, and adding not only their own voices but the Swedish tones of Jose Gonazalez on four of the tracks. The result was fantastic - though no single track alone compares to earlier works 'Destiny', 'Distractions' or 'Somersault', the album as a whole is complete, an example of perfection. Some tracks grow on you over time, and The Garden is filled with those. In particular, 'The Pageant Of The Bizarre' is a late night circus oddity (and almost claimed the title of this blog itself' and 'You're My Flame' is the greatest cliched love song ever to exist. Amongst these is hidden 'This Fine Social Scene' - a swooning despair over the death of going out. As a song, it captures my best friend's everyday complaint and draws it into the juiciest lament ever. As an album, The Garden is perfect, and according to a list I made on Amazon, the seventh greatest album ever made.

mp3: 'This Fine Social Scene' - Zero 7

Feeling Warm And Bright

Yesterday it suddenly decided to become hot. I don't know what 'it' is particularly, but I know it decided to become hot. I'm not a fan of heat, being heavy-set and heavily affected by it - but I'm glad to see it back. It seems about right now I'm finishing my first year at university to be outside in the evenings, dancing, so to speak, in the moonlight. That said, at the moment the moonlight won't set in til 11 at night. Which I'm certainly not complaining about.

Not many people realise these days that 'Dancing In The Moonlight' was not originally by Toploader, but by Seventies one-hit-wonders King Harvest. I only know because of an old Seventies album my friend lent me a few years back. Personally, I prefer the original, it seems more chilled out, and more likely to involve some sort of placing of flowers in gun barrels. That pleases me.

mp3: 'Dancing In The Moonlight' - King Harvest
mp3: 'Dancing In The Moonlight' - Toploader

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Arthur Lee's Good-Time Sixties Pop

I love me a bit of Sixties summer pop, and Love, the long-forgotten band of Arthur Lee, will fill that slot nicely, regardless of whether or not they'd like being called pop. They are. I've got to admit though, like a lot of my musical discoveries of the last few years, my love for, um, Love stemmed from their featuring on a soundtrack. This time round it was the soundtrack to 2001 comedy, and All-Time Top 5 Film (No. 4) of mine, High Fidelity. I really must recommend the soundtrack to you, almost as highly as the film - so far it has introduced me to The Beta Band, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, John Wesley Harding and, although I already thought of his music as regularly flawless, Stevie Wonder's track 'I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)'. So yeah, a great soundtrack. My favourite, even, beating the ever-popular Garden State for once.

So today's tracks are by Love. Two tracks that I love. By Love. They really couldn't have chosen a more awkward band name, could they? The first track is opener to their grandest album, 'Forever Changes', and is a lovely swooping summer track that keeps throbbing forward. The second track is the one from the 'High Fidelity' soundtrack, and my favourite love track - not unlike a Velvet Underground song, if the Velvet Underground were better vocally. Or Bob Dylan, if, you know, Bob Dylan was better vocally. Funnily enough, the soundtrack sandwiches Love between The Velvet Underground and Dylan, and though the Dylan song is one of his best vocally (Most Of The Time), Love still shines through. Which, you know, sounds like a song lyric in itself.

mp3: 'Alone Again Or' by Love
mp3: 'Always See Your Face' by Love

Sunday, 20 May 2007

One Of These Is Not Like The Other...

I always loved it on Sesame Street when they sang the song about One Of These not being like the others. I'd have liked it even more if it were with this odd-one-out. Though to be fair, the lovely girl is obviously not the oddest of the bunch by a long shot. Still, it's The Shins, and it'd be wrong to complain about a band so consistantly perfect in the output. Their latest album, for instance, has only been around since February, and has already confirmed itself as in my All-Time Desert-Island Top-Ten list. 'Sealegs', in particular, catches my ear every time - it's terrific, typical of The Shins lyrically, but musically so offbeat for them. I am already preparing myself for the first rapper to notice how awesome the riff is, so when it's sampled I'm not too traumatised. I'm considering become a rapper myself, just so I can get to the riff before anyone else. It makes me happy and funky at once. And not funky in the 'smelly' sense, either - though I had a rough night last night, so that too may well be relevant.

mp3: 'Sealegs' by The Shins

Saturday, 19 May 2007

If it's really between me and him, I don't fancy my chances much.

I've just discovered an awesome website going under the moniker of Zamzar, and it converts files to mp3 online for free! This is fantastic and shiny, as many many tracks on my PC have been metaphorically segregated by their WMA status. Now I can convert them, without downloading numerous programs that will ultimately just cause great grief to my intolerable little mind, and put them up for your listening pleasure! Today I'm gonna treat you to the band who I've most wanted to post up here thus far.

And so it is with great joy and much hoo-hah that I present to you... The Audreys! Never heard of them? Well, that doesn't surprise me in the least, because other than via their own website I myself have not heard a single whisper about them since I saw them supporting the awesome Pipettes at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton almost a year ago.

The Audreys are a four-piece Aussie band who make some of the most summery alt-country pop this side of Alabama. Maybe if Sufjan met Albert Hammond and had a bit of a jam session the end result might just reach the sound of The Audreys. Two songs on offer here: The first, 'You & Steve McQueen', is the opening track on debut album 'Between Last Night And Us' and flirts with the broken country pop that the rest of the album lays down so flawlessly. The second, 'Long Ride' is a slow-burning beauty, and my favourite song of last year by some way. It sounds as if the band sung it in their sleep, or at least when in a druken stupor somewhere between tipsy and tripping over the furniture. Certainly far before that stage where you start vomiting in your cupboard. Eurgh. But this isn't selling the track to you, is it? Long Ride is beautiful, building from a gentle sweetness to heartbreaking harmonies. This is the sort of track you'd play at the end of a long road trip, just about to pull into some dodgy motel where three of the neon letters on the sign are not working, and another one has fallen down, smashed beside the ice cube dispenser. Enjoy, you don't find a song like this everyday.

mp3: 'You & Steve McQueen' - The Audreys
mp3: 'Long Ride' - The Audreys

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

You Make Me Want To Drink...

"Bleach" by Easyworld
From 'This Is Where I Stand' (2002)

A forgotten peak in British music of the earliest 21st century, Easyworld will have already sunk beyond the reach of most ears. Though my favourite tracks are most certainly found on their final album, the frankly flawless 'Kill The Last Romantic', 'Bleach' is a perfect example of their earlier, rawer sound. An opening reminiscent of Travis' angrier beginnings, and an unlikely upbeat tempo not unlike The Lightning Seeds (only far, far more bitter), 'Bleach' doesn't want to make a big deal out of anything apart from itself. It isn't often that such an angry song gets a chance to be so fun, so Easyworld run with it. R.I.P. Easyworld, R.I.P.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Guilty Pleasures #1

"Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne
from 'The Best Damn Thing' (2007)

I wonder what Avril Lavigne would think were she to see the UK Amazon site offering a discount on her new album if you buy it with Hilary Duff's latest offering? Somehow I think she'd be less upset than she would have been in the past. For her first two albums, Avril was the typical punkass rebel teen girl, being so unconventional that she couldn't have been any more conventional if she tried. My sister loved her. But then, my sister loved Kelly Clarkson too.

See, traditionally I don't have 'guilty pleasures', per se. I have no shame about the music I like. Guilty pleasures suggests that you are wrong to like the track or artist in question
, and I'm just about stubborn enough to believe I could never be wrong about musical tastes. So when I refer to guilty pleasures, take it purely under the understanding that the tracks involved are ones others would consider as a guilty pleasure. I don't. I have no shame. I hated the first two albums from Ms. Lavigne. I'll probably hate this one too. But God help me, I can't resist a good chorus.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Late Night Radio #1

"Teardrop" by Massive Attack
from "Mezzanine" (1998)

I think it's about midnight when I have my little Jekyll and Hyde moment each day. During the day I'm bouncy, optimistic and, in all honesty, a right annoying little so-and-so. After twelve though, assuming I'm awake and alone, I become all peaceful, reflective and, dare I say it, poetic. No poetry tonight, mind you. Still, I tend to listen to my very much relaxed music at night - most of my favourite albums are those to which I can fall alseep (Billy Joel, Sufjan Stevens, The Cardigans). At the moment I'm in the process of putting together a late-night playlist, for times like these - sleepy, but not able to sleep, in front of the computer with my face lit only by a small desk lamp and the glow from my screen. I'll post them in order of track listing, so maybe if you actually read this thing you can collect them together. Maybe.

Friday, 4 May 2007

The Chance To Start Again...

From 'Tourist' (2005)

A few years back I was on holiday with my family in Cornwall. It was towards the end of the holiday and we'd had a hugely busy day, despite the fact Cornwall genuinely contains nothing but rocks, thatched roofs and the occasional livestock. We were driving over to St. Ives for dinner, and en route was the Minack theatre, a relatively small ampitheatre carved into the rock of the Cornish coastline. My parents asked my sister and I, then both whingy and tired young teens, whether or not we wanted to visit. We both said, with no hesitation whatsoever, that we didn't want to go. We continued driving, until we were approaching the turning for the theatre. I saw a sign for it - nothing glamourous, just the usual brown sign for a tourist attraction in Britain (apparently that's the colour best representing our tourist industry). Suddenly something inside me clicked into place and I said, just in time to turn the corner without a three-point turn (impossible with the Cornish shrubbery, I swear), that actually, I would rather like to go. I think my parents loved me more than ever then, they'd clearly wanted to go, but didn't want to risk a huge argument with a tired teen later that day. My sister, on the other hand, scowled at me so hard her eyes burnt all the way through my head and left a permanent mark on the car window. Anyway, the point of this story is this: We got there, and to this day it remains the most beautiful I have ever seen England. It wasn't a big chance, but it was a chance nonetheless, and I am so glad I took it.

Buy Athlete

Thursday, 3 May 2007

What I'd Be Without You

"God Only Knows" by Mandy Moore and Michael Stipe
from 'Saved! Original Soundtrack' (2004)

I rather like Mandy Moore. To the extent where if I were placed in a room alone with her I would hide away in the furthest away corner and giggle shyly to myself whilst watching her stare at me, disturbed. It started ever so innocently, when she appeared as a love interest for Zach Braff (hero, mentor, fantastic hair) on Scrubs, and was possibly the most likeable special guest ever to grace the show. Then I heard the above song, from the (sub-par) film Saved! Whilst not a collaboration one might ever concoct even in the deepest depths of their subconcious, Michael Stipe and Ms. Moore work well together. Stipe's unmistakable voice is, as always, perfect in its imperfections. Moore's voice is perfect to a flaw, pushing herself almost into the unnecessary wails of Pop Idol and X-Factor contestants. Somehow, it works. Somehow. Not that that somehow matters - it's Mandy Moore, and she's lovely.

Buy Mandy Moore, in all her perfections

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Humpday 5 V1.0

I've never been one for rap of any variety. I'm far to middle class. I think in my entire musically-aware lifetime I've only ever liked a few songs by The Streets and one Kanye West. And even they were iffy. So when my regular hangout GvB put up this track, featuring one of my favourite bands, Final Fantasy, I was weary, to say the least. Rap doesn't work for me when it's just rap. Rap with strings seems even more questionable. Turns out that the song is awesome though (and I wouldn't use the word awesome lightly, were it not for the fact I've been writing a theology essay about God's power all afternoon). So, this Humpday, enjoy some rap. I did.

"Running Up That Hill" by Placebo
Buy Placebo

Again a song to break the mould of me here. Not only does Brian Molko's voice almost always drive me to insanity, but Kate Bush is, at least for me, the worst musician ever to play music that a vast amount of the population inexplicably enjoy. I know it's controversial, but Bush's voice ruins everything good about music. And this is from a Joanna Newsom fan! Still, by some miracle Placebo hit it right on here, and without Bush's wail the lyrics are, needless to say really, fantastic.

"(I Wanna Have Your) Babies" by Natasha Bedingfield
Buy Natasha

I secretly would rather like Natasha Bedingfield to marry me. She's rather pretty, is a lovely Christian and despite being a bit older than me, isn't at all near needing a colostomy bag. That - that's good to know. So, if you're reading Natasha, you can have my babies. They're thirty quid a pop.

"Our Velocity" by Maximo Park
Buy Maximo

A slowly-building mini epic, is 'Our Velocity', and a competitor for track of the year, I tell thee. By the time the lyrics come: 'Love is lie which means I've been lied to/Love is a lie which means I've been lying too/Love is a lie which means I've been lied to/Love is a lie' you will be so close to jumping up and down on your bed you'll wonder if you're actually turning into a fourteen year old girl in a chick flick.

"Indian Summer" by Manic Street Preachers
Buy Manics

I'm off to Glastonbury this year, something to which I am getting increasingly excited about. Knowing these guys and this song woll be there, well, it warms my heart it does. I've been listening a lot to this due to its prominence in a new CD I've made. It's a grower...