Louder Than War

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Don't eat yellow snow

For the first time that I can remember it has snowed in Birmingham, England on Christmas Day. So to celebrate, here are some snow related songs to warm your cockles on these cold winter nights...there will however be NO Snow Patrol under any circumstances.

My Bloody Valentine - Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)
This lovely little number is the opening track from the 1988 album 'Isn't Anything'. At it's time of release the album paved the way for 1991's legandary opus 'Loveless' (the one that nearly bankrupted Creation Records). Here Kevin Shields and co. display their trademark layered and distorted guitars and dreamy melodies. But this album is an excellent album in its own right and you can see its influence on the 'shoegazer' (ugh!) bands that followed like Ride, Lush and Slowdive.

Frank Zappa - Don't Eat The Yellow Snow
When my friend Dean went to live in Germany for three months, he leant us some DVD's. We refused his Frank Zappa DVD but he secretly left it in the car underneath a seat...the little scamp... There is also an excellent independent record shop in Birmingham called Swordfish run by an old man with long hair. Whenever you go in, it is almost guaranteed to be Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart playing on the stereo...so this is dedicated to him.

Warsaw - Living In The Ice Age
This is a May 1978 recording, back from Joy Division were still called Warsaw. Presumably, fed up by being constantly asked why they were named after a small town in the Black Country, they changed their name. For some reason Bernard Sumner was at this time calling himself Bernard Albrecht. As a band, Joy Division produced a staggering body of work in just the space of a few years. In the 1978 sessions as Warsaw they are still very much a punk band, but you can see glimpses of something darker, both in the lyrics of Ian Curtis and the music of Hook, Morris and Sumner. This won't be the last Joy Division track featured on Louder Than War.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Ho ho ho, merry Go! Team and Alter Ego.

Hello Christmas wh0res. I for one hope you are well and in the festive spirit. In the name of the season, take these musical wonders and hold them to your heart - like a mother to a baby.

Go! Team - Junior Kickstart

You're going to hear a barrel load about this lot in 2005. Go! Team are a instrumental six peice from London. Much like Junior Senior before them, Go! Team make dance/party music but insist on live instrumentation. You think you're listening to some FatBoy Van Hendlen sampled mush? Well you're a stupid fool. Some cockney little shit has slaved for ages to make sure he can drum at 200 bpm - just for you to doubt him. You should kill yourself.

(Unlike Junior Senior, though, Go! Team have more than one song and a catchy video. Natch.)

But really, unlike those haggered out of date dance/party outfits who are kind of amusing but are in many ways utterly underwhelming - who listens to their FatBoy CDs anymore? - Go! Team are throughly good fun. Not only is every note (bar a few) live, but they a insatisable 80s action TV show aesethtic. The Go! Team's debut 'Thunder Lightning Strike' conjours up Miami-5-O + A-Team esque desires to run around the house with a water pistol pretending to arrest your family for drug smuggling. Each track is hopelessly and utterly upbeat, very very well referenced, and completly danceable - even on a solo basis.

But remember. Keep safe - always use cold water when dealing with felons with your surname. Those crazy bastards.

Alter Ego - Rocker

Viewers of Television (and I know there's lots of you out there!) will understand their frustration when one will experience a work of musical greatness during a short adbreak or promotional item. The recent Radio 1 ads on the Beeb have lesser educated fools guessing as to their aural content.

Well, guess not. Alter Ego is taken from the Radio 1 ad where ppl are dancing and playing with window blinds. You remember that one? Yeah, classic it was. Its a nice little retro electro number that reminds me a lot of Mr Ozio (was that how u spelt it?) - lots of subbass and funny noises leading to a euphoric cresendo. It probably sums up the kind of 'computer' music that I like really - basic instrumentation combined with beeping noises that remind you of your little 8-bit computer as it failed to load Dizzy Panic (the little egg shit). Probably completly unplayable in a club due to its constant stops and starts.

As for the band, I don't know a thing about them. They were in an advert!

Monday, December 20, 2004

This is for the poor, not all you rich kids

The Others - In The Background

This could be the start of a hot tips for 2005 type feature, but then again perhaps it won't - who knows! Here's a sneak preview from The Others twelve track self-titled debut album, released at the end of January 2005. Following hot in the slipstream of The Libertines, they've so far released just two singles on Alan McGee's Poptones label.

As it says on their press release "The Others want to inspire people to do what they really want to do. Live their dreams. Doing it themselves - be in a band, write fanzines, take photos, make videos, whatever."

The Others are the most exciting band in the UK right now, FACT!

They are legendary for their Guerilla gigs, places like on board a London tube train on the Hammersmith and City line, the lobby of BBC Radio 1, the Abbey Road Zebra Crossing and on the bumper cars at the Leeds Festival.

The Others are one of the few bands genuinely in touch with their fans, FACT!

Lead singer Dominic gives his mobile phone number out to fans and lists it on their website. Often the guest list at their gigs is larger than the actual capacity of the venue.

The band are followed worshipped by their loyal fans The 853 Kamikaze Stage Diving Division.

Bassist Johnny even has his own blog.

The Others have released two of the singles of the year, FACT!

First was the anthemic call to arms of 'This Is For The Poor' (kept out of the top 40 by the Milwall FA Cup Final song!). Then came 'Stan Bowles' - a hymn to the 1970's Queens Park Rangers footballer and/or Pete Doherty of Babyshambles, depending on who you believe.

The Others will be one of the bands of 2005, FACT!

You better believe it.

The album is a killer, so make sure you buy it when is released through Mercury Records on 31 January 2005

Saturday, December 18, 2004

She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge

William Shatner - Common People

If you're looking for quirky cover versions, things don't get much stranger than this. Captain Kirk along with Joe Jackson, covering Pulp's Common People. Shatner turns it into a spoken word monologue with a kind of thrash rock chorus.

Shatner's album 'Has Been', produced by Ben Folds, was described slightly unfairly by NME as "one of the least highly anticipated albums of the year". It also features collaborations with Aimee Mann, Lemon Jelly and Henry Rollins.

The thing is, although this is of course frivolous novelty - I really rather like it.

Take it easy but take it

Randall - Take it easy but take it

Now this is as sweet a piece of music as I've heard all year. It comes off an album called Eight Storeys which a friend of mine randomly bought having liked something else on the same record label. I'm very glad she did. The album is predominately the work of the guitarist and composer Dave Randall, and is mellow and soothing and haunting and beautiful and all the things you'd hope a kind of laid back electro album made with proper instruments instead of computers would be...This track is the one that had the most impact on me, the one that had me rushing out (ok, not so much rushing out as signing into messenger) to tell all my friends about the joyous discovery that had been shared with me.

It's lovely, I reckon it probably suits the cold dark winter evenings well, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Friday, December 17, 2004

They bulit portholes for Bono so he could gaze across the bay and sing about mountains

Whipping Boy - We Don't Need Nobody Else

Lust, revenge, sex, violence and mental illness, all in a days work for Whipping Boy.

Imagine if their fellow Irish four-piece U2 wrote songs that actually tried to say something, rather than just being full of empty bombast. Imagine if Shane McGowan could still string a sentence together.

Frontman Feargal McKee is a mixture of McGowan and Nick Cave, with a bit of Syd Barrett thrown in for good measure.

This particular track is from the stunning second album 'Heartworm' and deals with alcoholism and domestic violence. Not particuarly upbeat stuff and perhaps why it was almost universally ignored when it was released in the knees up party Britpop days of 1995.

The band won a host of awards in their native Ireland after the release of 'Heartworm', before being abruptly dropped by Sony.

The decision effectively destroyed the band and they limped towards a third release before splitting shortly afterwards. It was a sad end for an at times brilliant band. Judge for yourself.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

You ain't going to Nirvana, or far-vana, you're coming straight back here to live out your karma

Faithless - Mass Destruction

Dance scene legends Faithless are responsible for two of the most genre defining and well loved anthems of all time, Insomnia and God is a DJ. But there's a lot more to them than barn storming dance classics as this tune proves.

A lot of art is made in protest and a lot of is it good, but good art which really touches the central issues of our times is a rare treat and this, for me, is one such example. The tune alternates (I think) between the story of a young boy whose father goes off to war and an over-arching look at the reasons behind wars, with an emphasis on the fact that the real problems in our world are caused by people's mixed motivations and self-serving tendencies. They hold fear, greed, racism, inaction and especially "a wicked mind" to be weapons of mass destruction, and I couldn't agree more...

This tune comes of the album No Roots which is notable for being entirely written in the key of C.

Have a nice day!

Monday, December 13, 2004

I like you mostly late at night

Life Without Buildings - The Leanover

Sadly Glaswegian art-punk quartet Life Without Buildings split up a few years ago, before I discovered them. Do not fear though, we still have the Slits/ESG/PIL genius of the album 'Any Other City' to remember them by,

The thing about Life Without Buildings that grabs you is the vocals. Sue Tompkins yelps, squeals and whispers her way through what is seemingly a random stream of consciousness.

Phrases and unfinished sentences are repeated over and over before morphing into something else entirely. At times it's almost as if a small child was brought in to do the vocals rather than a singer.

Difficult to pin down, she reminds me a bit of Bjork. But in the indie division, the only comparison I can think of would be Blonde Redhead.

Musically I think if you were so inclined, you could describe them as possessing an angular jangle or perhaps even jangular....?

Don't do it for the plays or to raise the bar, yeah it's raised anyway so amazing are the three LI brothers from the other way of thinking.

De La Soul - Rock Co. Kane Flow

What can I say about the De La. The greatest hip hop act ever. Easily. So good they should have a genre all to themselves. From the laid back teenage excitement and wisdom beyond their years of the massive cross over album "3 feet high and rising" to this year's triumphant mix of flavours "The Grind Date" they have consistently innovated, changed direction and challenged their audience's expectations. Each album sounds distinctive, packed with different sounds and textures and styles, but always with an intellegence bereft in most of popular music.

This track comes from the Grind Date. The critical acclaim that this album has been received with appears to be almost universal, as a quick search reveals. The only thing I would disagree with is the suggestion that this is somehow a return to form. Their previous album Bionix has one of my favourite hip hop tracks of all time on it (there you go, two de la soul tracks in one post...) and is packed with memorable tunes.

They've definately put out tracks I haven't been into, indeed there are a couple (well, one) on The Grind Date, but the scope and quality of their back catalogue makes them stand out as being genuine innovators - continually growing and changing and making incredible music.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Me in my stars and stripes overcoat, you in your hammer and sickle tights

Songdog - Days Of Armageddon

So imagine Allen Ginsberg was born in the Welsh valleys and became the lead singer of a band rather than a beat poet...this is how it might sound.

Like the Manics, Songdog hail from Blackwood in South Wales. Listening to his fractured lyrics, it's perhaps no surprise to discover that vocalist Lyndon Morgans is an award winning playwright.

I first heard this apocalyptic alt-folk gem a couple of years ago on one of those free CDs you get on the front of Q magazine.

And I'd quite like to buy a stars and stripes overcoat, but I can't find one on eBay anywhere...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rollercoaster down by the water you made me feel more as I oughter.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - Roller Coaster by the Sea

Ah, the hangover song. Many years before I knew the title of this song I knew it as the hangover song as, during their early teenage flirtations with alcohol and various "other" intoxicants, friends of mine used to wake each other up the morning after wild nights making big fires in various south Birmingham parks by blasting it out at each other.

I don't know any other Jonathan Richman songs, so this isn't a taster designed necessarily to get you running out to your local bittorrent site (I mean record store) and getting hold of his entire ouevre (sp?), but if the need takes you, I won't stand in your way. It's something I've thought of doing on numerous occasions, and maybe I will one day. This song, however, should take pride of place in anyone's mp3 collection - I love the fact that it sounds very much like it was recorded on a four track in someone's bedroom, the fact that the rollercoaster helped make the person singing feel better and the fact that he says "Whoa. Scary." out of the blue during the instrumental break.

The track first appeared on the album Rock n Roll with the Modern Lovers in 1977 and was then a B-side on the Egyptian Reggae single, which is where I came across it some many years later...

BTW (as they say in this here interneterweb)my name's Paul and this track is not louder than war. Indeed few of the things I post will be, I'm gettin' old. And yes, I did meet Robert Mugabe once, but it was by accident, and before he went crazy...


Peace out.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

hurrah! another year!

Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies - Recovery Speak

Contrary to popular opinion, indie music did not dissapear during the late 1990s. Whilst anyone with any pretence to being trendy had adopted the various forms of dance as their bestest faveourite bestest genre, the rest of us were either bopping away to Idlewild in smelly moshpits full of Lamacq-listeners, or were listening to the intensly introspective 'post-rock' of illuiminaries Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor!

I get the feeling that Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies had the same kind of dualism going on at that age as I did. YMSS attempt to conjoin both the structural ideas of post-rock, and perhaps some prog, with a punk aesthetic. Recovery Speak easily exemplifies YMSS's style - at one moment it is introspective, star-gazing space rock, the next it is full of contorted Shellac-esque punk riffs. It is however quieter compared to the spaz sprawl of tracks off YMSS's recent 'A little late he staggered through the door', featured on YMSS's recent mini album, which manages to move from instrumental, to shouty guitars, to a male choir, to an anthemic singalong.

You do get the impression that YMSS are having their cake and eating it. Rather than concentrating their energies on one genre of music they it seems that they are attempting to cover as much as they can. The great thing about YMSS is that they manage to pull it off - the variously differential elements manage to make something verging on a luicid indie epic. If they can perfect it,Several times in re-listening to the mini-album for this blog, I found myself shouting the lyrics and guesticulating happiness. Either I am mad or this band are fucking great.
I just wish they would shorten their titles - the album I speak of is titled (and I shit you not) "hurrah! another year, surely this one will be better than the last; the inexorable march of progress will lead us all to happiness". Ah well.

They're from Oxford.

(BTW - I am Deans - author of the Kitty Killer livejournal. Please to meet yooz).

Saturday, December 04, 2004

In the beginning, there was semen

MP3 - The Faint - Birth (Wet From Birth)
MP3 - The Faint - I Disappear (Wet From Birth)

I went to see The Faint at the Custard Factory in Birmingham on Thursday and I think the phrase I'd have to use to describe them would be The Nebraskan Duran Duran. They shamelessly flaunt their 80's influences, whether it's the swirling synths of Jacob Thiele or the vocoder tinged vocals and Simon Le Bon mannerisms of Todd Baechle.

Their new album was written in a Washing Machine warehouse and has even had a bit of a savaging from Pitchfork, so that means it's got to be good!

The band formed in Omaha, Nebraska in 1994. Conor 'Bright Eyes' Oberst was part of the original line up, but was kicked out/quit before they enjoyed any success.

MP3 - The Faint - Call Call (Blank-Wave Arcade)
MP3 - The Faint - Worked Up So Sexual (Blank-Wave Arcade)

After a number of personnel changes, the band hit on a winning formula, embraced the synths and produced the album Blank Wave Arcade. Moderate success followed and the group expanded to include video in their live shows and began to create their second album.

MP3 - The Faint - Agenda Suicide (Danse Macabre)
MP3 - The Faint- Glass Danse (Danse Macabre)

Danse Macabre was the album that took The Faint into the mainstream. Riding on the back of bands like Radio4 and The Rapture, the 80's were now 'in' and the band perfectly meshed classic 80's influences with the punk funk sound around at that time.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Just an American girl, in the Tokyo streets

Gwen Stefani - Harajuku Girls

No Doubt were always a band that produced the occasional brilliant single, but too often strayed towards embarrasing Ska. Well, Gwen Stefani has now ditched her band and only gone and produced one the the best pure pop albums of the year in Love Angel Music Baby.

Working with producers like Andre 3000, Dr. Dre, The Neptunes and even New Order - Stefani has succeeded in making an album that contains a few stone cold pop classics, even possibly marking her out as the natual successor to Madonna.

So yeah it's all a bit overblown, there are far too many people working on the project for it to be truly focused and there are still a few cringeworthy moments (Like her take on If I Were a Rich Girl).

Aside from the storming electro pop single What You Wating For, Harajuku Girls is my favourite track on the album - it even sounds like Papa Don't Preach at the start...