Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Music Chart - April 2014

New albums this month from loser/hipster Mac Demarco - back with the endearing Salad Days, the sublime ethereal jangly-guitar pop of Atlas from Real Estate, and Brooklyn's ferocious Lucius and their album Wildewoman. This month we can also hear the return of Kaiser Chiefs and Education, Education, Education & War - an album which has its moments, both good and bad. In complete contrast EMA fuses passion and technology into an eclectic mix of rough and smooth on The Future's Void, Paul Thomas Saunders satisfies with Beautiful Desolation and Smoke Fairies follow-up their difficult second album with a much more accomplished set of beautiful vocals and solid songwriting. Last but not least, Eels release yet another album of self-deprecation, heartbreak and mournful songs with The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett.

The War On Drugs hold the top spot...

  1. Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs
  2. Augustines by Augustines
  3. Rave Tapes by Mogwai
  4. Morning Phase by Beck 
  5. Gach Sgeul (Every Story) by Julie Fowlis 
  6. The Gloaming by The Gloaming
  7. Smoke Fairies by Smoke Fairies
  8. Tales From The Realm Of The Queen Of Pentacles by Suzanne Vega
  9. You Chose These Woes by Model Village
  10. Beautiful Desolation by Paul Thomas Saunders
  11. The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett by Eels
  12. Teeth Dreams by The Hold Steady
  13. Burn Your Fire For No Witness by Angel Olsen
  14. The Take Off And Landing of Everything by Elbow
  15. Word Of Mouth by Seth Lakeman 
  16. So Long, See You Tomorrow by Bombay Bicycle Club
  17. Into The Lime by New Mendicants
  18. In The Silence by Asgeir
  19. Salad Days by Mac Demarco
  20. Blood Red Shoes by Blood Red Shoes 
  21. The Future's Void by EMA
  22. Echoes by Emily Smith 
  23. Atlas by Real Estate
  24. Croz by David Crosby
  25. Benji by Sun Kil Moon 
  26. St. Vincent by St. Vincent
  27. Cursing The Sea by September Girls
  28. Wildewoman by Lucius
  29. High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen
  30. Songs About This And That by Karin Krog & John Surman
  31. Waking Lines by Patterns
  32. Here And Nowhere Else by Cloud Nothings
  33. Wig Out At Jagbags by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
  34. Total Strife Forever by East India Youth
  35. Too Much Information by Maximo Park
  36. Warpaint by Warpaint
  37. Eagulls by Eagulls 
  38. Education, Education, Education & War by Kaiser Chiefs
  39. The Crystal Method by The Crystal Method
  40. Kid Face by Samantha Crain
  41. None The Wiser by The Rifles
  42. Oh My Sexy Lord by Marijuana Deathsquads

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Vinyl Frontier - The Cure, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Bruce Springsteen, Kirsty MacColl, Bob Dylan

The USR music fair at the Rivermead in Reading (UK) on Friday 18th April (Good Friday) was too good to miss this year... one of six biggest UK one-day events and a huge selection of records on offer.

First up, an album I've been waiting for... the limited edition gatefold of Automatic by The Jesus And Mary Chain. By no means the band's finest work, this is the transition between the feedback-strewn gloomy shoegaze of Darklands (and the mighty Psycho Candy début before) and the brilliant Honey's Dead. Fans loved this album, while the critics hated it (Q Magazine struggled to award 2 stars) and I remember listening my cassette copy over and over until it fell apart. And it still sounds great on vinyl today, especially Blues From A Gun and UV Ray.

I've always been a big fan of The Cure but never a big collector...until recently. I keep seeing copies of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me but never The Head On The Door - an album I've been seeking for ages. Boasting one of the band's most creative collection of songs, and the brilliant singles Close To Me and In Between Days, for me this has always been the prelude to their finest work, Disintegration. On side B, A Night Like This and closer Sinking are both the sound of a band coming of age.

I'm always on the lookout for records by Bruce Springsteen and Nebraska was high on my list. A truly challenging record of sparse, dark songwriting - a stopgap between The River and Born In The USA and an album that may have never existed. Springsteen originally recorded it with the E Street Band and then decided to release the 'demo' version. The result is haunting and desolate with piercing vocals and harmonica - Springsteen's folk album, made better by the occasional crackle and blip on the record. The production and songwriting are both superb.

A rose between two thorns, Kirsty MacColl's Kite is still one of my favourite albums of the eighties and a perfect example of an artist doing their own thing in time when so many musicians weren't. This is an eclectic mix of sounds and styles including the cover Days and turns from Johnny Marr and David Gilmour, and Steve Lillywhite on production. This is filled with witty observations, sharp and poignant lyrics, all brilliantly delivered by an artist who left us well before her time.

And last, but not least...the find of the day. For as long as I can remember I have been trying to find a decent copy of Blood On The Tracks. So when I spotted a 'VG' copy for a modest price, I had to investigate. Easily the best thing Bob Dylan has ever made; an album with so much poetry, poise and power doesn't come along too often. From opener Tangled Up In Blue to the vitriolic Idiot Wind, to Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts and the mighty Shelter From The Storm, this is now one of the best in my collection. And for a record that is nearly as old as I am, it sounds wonderful.