31 January 2013

31st Jan - Al Green's Let's Stay Together

Artist – Album: Al Green – Let’s Stay Together
Released: 31st January 1972
Sounds Like: Baby making music

This 1972 album kicks off with the title track and arguably Al Green’s finest ever recording. From the opening blast of horns and the whispered “let’s stay together”, this is one of the sexiest songs to have ever penetrated the airwaves. The lyrics may appear like a plea for reconciliation, but it’s more a sensual invitation to bed; he doesn’t just want to stay together, he wants to get together. Now. In a variety of different positions.

The first number may be the only well known one, but the rest of the album does not disappoint. It follows in much the same vein, the now reverend Green declaring his love in the most arousing manner possible. Throughout, the warm brass section and Green’s combination of woops, wails and whispers brighten even the slowest ballads. The cover of Bee Gees hit ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ is a slow burning classic, whilst ‘I’ve Never Found a Girl (Who Love Me Like You Do)’ incorporates elements of R&B to give one of the liveliest cuts on the record.

Let’s Stay Together’ may be the first song to fire out of the speakers but it ain't no premature climax. Al Green has stamina to keep it up for the full half hour session...

Albumaday... rating:  8/10

1.       Let’s Stay Together – 3:18
2.       La-La for You – 3:31
3.       So You’re Leaving – 2:57
4.       What Is This Feeling? – 3:42
5.       Old Time Lovin’ – 3:19
6.       I’ve Never Found a Girl (Who Loves Me Like You Do) – 3:41
7.       How Can You Mend a Broken Heart – 6:22
8.       Judy – 3:47
9.       It Ain’t No Fun to Me – 3:23

Listen to ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgAFcvIw8J4

30 January 2013

30th Jan - New Order's Technique

Artist – Album: New Order - Technique
Released: 30th January 1989
Sounds Like: It’s twistin’ my melon man


I love Manchester. I was born here, it’s my hometown and where I still live and work. I support Manchester United. My sister works at the M.E.N. And, phwoarr, Manchester music. Five great Manchester bands: Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis. We might not have The Beatles, but there is an incredible musical heritage here.

New Order are the link between them all. Formed from the ashes of Joy Division following lead singer Ian Curtis’ tragic suicide, they were the flagship band of Factory records and were regulars at the legendary Hacienda nightclub. They famously headlined a festival at the G-Mex with The Smiths, The Fall and A Certain Ratio in the mid-eighties. Their more indie rock moments made a lasting impression on thousands of start up guitar bands, and the mix with synth-y dance numbers was way ahead of his time. If they weren’t direct influences on Madchester groups like The Stone Roses or the later Oasis, they certainly made it easier for people to take these guys seriously.

They actually shipped away from the rainy UK to record this gem, heading to the party island of Ibiza to sample the holiday weather and Balearic beats. ‘Fine Time’ and ‘Vanishing Point’ are full on dance tracks, whereas songs like ‘Run’ bring sunshine melodies to their alternative rock sound. The album is arguably their finest, a UK number 1 that also garnered high critical praise. Enjoy it.

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1.       Fine Time – 4:42
2.       All the Way – 3:22
3.       Love Less – 2:58
4.       Round & Round – 4:29
5.       Guilty Partner – 4:44
6.       Run – 4:29
7.       Mr. Disco – 4:20
8.       Vanishing Point – 5:15
9.       Dream Attack – 5:13

Also released on the 30th January:
1995: Leftfield – Leftism
Also released on the 30th January:
1968: The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat

Also released on the 30th January:
2008 – Lykke Li – Youth Novel

29 January 2013

29th Jan - Vampire Weekend's Vampire Weekend

Artist – Album: Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Released: 29th January 2008
Sounds Like: Upper West Side Soweto (apparently)

Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut album is now celebrating it’s fifth birthday (happy birthday Vampire Weekend!), but, for a lot of the finger-on-the-pulse internet community (and no, I don’t mean me...), these were well known songs way before then.

Mansard Roof’, the pleasingly disposable introduction to the album, was officially released as a single three months beforehand, and most of the rest of the album had begun cropping up across the web by that time.

What’s impressive is that by the time this album came around, it was still incredibly well received. The songs have something of a timeless quality and even after repeated listens over the years their sheen remains shiny. ‘Oxford Comma’ is a literate two fingers at grammar Nazis and, well, everything. ‘A-Punk’, with it’s Ramones-esque “hey hey hey” chants, is more high tempo than high brow but remains a riot. ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ brilliantly fits and exceeds the afro-pop label they were labelled with early on.

The whole album is a triumph and it’s difficult to think of a better debut from the last decade. Few groups ever achieve the lyrical wit of Ezra Koenig’s penmanship, or the laidback cool of their guitar work, or the enterprising mix of influences such as Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and indie college rock. After the very-nearly-as-good follow up Contra, there’s real reason to get excited about the boys’ third album, due in May.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Mansard Roof – 2:07
2.       Oxford Comma – 3:15
3.       A-Punk – 2:17
4.       Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa – 3:34
5.       M79 – 4:15
6.       Campus – 2:56
7.       Bryn – 2:13
8.       One (Blake’s Got a New Face) – 3:13
9.       I Stand Corrected – 2:39
10.   Walcott – 3:41
11.   The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance – 4:03

Listen to ‘Mansard Roof’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgNFwoApec

28 January 2013

28th Jan - Hot Chip's One Life Stand

Artist – Album: Hot Chip – One Life Stand
Released: 28th January 2010
Sounds Like: One ripe band

In the two years between 2008’s bouncy Made in the Dark and this album, Hot Chip seemed to have matured a bit and lost their way to the dancefloor. Whereas the previous album had indietronica belters such as ‘Ready for the Floor’ and ‘One Pure Thought’ and 2006’s The Warning was loaded with dance floor fillers, this album contains nothing so unapologetically boogie-able.

To be fair, for the most part this is more of the same from the London lads; their trademark delicate fusion of disco synthpop and bittersweet vulnerable vocals remains in full force. The first half of the album contains the stronger tracks: ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’ could still get you shaking your booty, and ‘I Feel Better’ and ‘One Life Stand’ both successfully blend robotic verses with rousing choruses. That said, even the concept of the title track – a more permanent version of a one night stand – hints to the fact that they’re now happily settling down.

Unfortunately, these highlights aren’t backed up by a good enough rest of the album. ‘Brothers’ is schmaltzy and ‘Slush’ is slushy. ‘Alley Cats’ is good, but I can’t even recall what the last three tracks sound like, despite listening to them repeatedly today whilst playing FIFA.

Hot Chip are growing up and it makes sense that they can’t be getting on down like they used to. I like to think of this as more of a transitional album. It’s pretty good but the boys aren’t done yet.

Albumaday... rating:   6/10

1.       Thieves in the Night – 6:09
2.       Hand Me Down Your Love – 4:33
3.       I Feel Better – 4:41
4.       One Life Stand – 5:23
5.       Brothers – 4:21
6.       Slush – 6:29
7.       Alley Cats – 5:21
8.       We Have Love – 4:28
9.       Keep Quiet – 4:02
10.   Take It In – 4:10

Listen to ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9c9gHA1gqQ

27 January 2013

27th Jan - Dixie Chicks' Wide Open Spaces

Artist – Album: Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces
Released: 27th January 1998
Sounds Like: Being forced to line dance to death

I seriously cannot fathom what happened in the late 90’s to make people want to listen to this drivel, or Shania Twain or Leann Rimes, or watch Coyote Ugly, or take up line dancing. I’d like to think that the whole scene wasn’t really that popular, that time has skewed my memory of that harrowing period. But, according to Wikipedia, this album made 14 million sales worldwide. 14 million! That’s more than bloody Sgt. Pepper’s!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not got a problem with country music. I like the real stuff: Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton are all great. I gave a 9 out of 10 to a countrified Byrds album only a couple of weeks ago. But this is not the same thing. To me, it comes across as a sort of plastic country, a major label effort aimed at sales rather than tradition. Not a single track stuck with me for longer than it’s own outro and I was never particularly struck by any single lyric or vocal phrasing. The songs themselves are about love and heartache and, though it seems to fit kind of odd, Spice Girls-esque girl power. At one point, I did hear what sounded like a Bonnie Raitt cast-off and I was pretty happy to find out that she had contributed, but that was about the only moment in the 45 minutes of listening that made me smile. Because I recognized her, not because I like her music.

I’m sorry, but it’s rubbish.

Albumaday... rating: 4/10

1.       I Can Love You Better – 3:53
2.       Wide Open Spaces – 3:44
3.       Loving Arms – 3:37
4.       There’s Your Trouble – 3:10
5.       You Were Mine – 3:37
6.       Never Say Die – 3:56
7.       Tonight the Heartache’s on Me – 3:25
8.       Let ‘Er Rip – 2:49
9.       Once You’ve Loved Somebody – 3:28
10.   I’ll Take Care of You – 3:40
11.   Am I the Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way) – 3:25
12.   Give It Up or Let Me Go – 4:55

Listen to ‘There’s Your Trouble’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w_mi-J1ew

26 January 2013

26 Jan - Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water

Artist – Album: Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Released: 26th January 1970
Sounds Like: A bridge too far

Bridge Over Troubled Water was the album that spelled the end of Simon and Garfunkel as a duo. That’s clear from the couple of songs that are explicitly Paul Simon’s farewell to his buddy: ‘So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright’ and ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’.  It was clear when Art Garfunkel skipped sessions to act in the forthcoming movie version of Catch-22. It was clear from the reported strain that the meticulous production put them under. I mean, just look at those impressively receding hairlines on the album cover: they had to be under a serious amount of stress.

Those two aforementioned tracks aside, this breakdown does not exhibit itself to any great deal on the finished product. The boys sound like they’re having a right laugh on disposable pop songs like ‘Cecilia’ and ‘Baby Driver’, whilst ‘The Boxer’ and ‘Song for the Asking’ sit amongst the very best of the couple’s entire back catalogue. Further, the title track has gone on to become their signature tune, an absolute monster of a song-hymn that still pops up on all time best of lists and crappy TV talent shows. The song finishes on such a crescendo that it almost feels like it should close the album, but the genius of placing it first means that it’s out of the way, and the listener can concentrate on the softer, less dramatic rest of the set.

For all that works on this album, the guys were going to split sometime. Garfunkel wanted to be an actor and Simon had already released one solo album and had written all but one of the tracks here. They were bound to part ways sooner or later. This album just made a fitting epitaph for their partnership.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Bridge Over Troubled Water – 4:52
2.       El Condor Pasa (If I Could) – 3:06
3.       Cecilia – 2:55
4.       Keep the Customer Satisfied – 2:33
5.       So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright – 3:41
6.       The Boxer – 5:08
7.       Baby Driver – 3:14
8.       The Only Living Boy in New York – 3:58
9.       Why Don’t You Write Me – 2:45
10.   Bye Bye Love – 2:55
11.   Song for the Asking – 1:39

Listen to ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJGSHMgbB0E

Also released on the 26th January:
2010: Beach House – Teen Dream

25 January 2013

25 Jan - John Phillips' John, the Wolfking of L.A.

Artist – Album: John Phillips – John, the Wolf King of L.A.
Released: 25th January 1970
Sounds Like: John, the riverboat king of the Mississippi

John Phillips found fame as the chief songwriter and arranger for The Mamas and The Papas, who scored a string of worldwide smashes such as ‘California Dreaming’ and ‘Monday Monday’; sunny, multi-harmonied pop songs that were perfect for the swinging sixties. Following that group’s demise, Phillips went in to the studio alone to craft John, the Wolfking of L.A.

The result was a surprise for any flower people looking to relive those hippy heydays; instead of the many layers of chiming voices of the past, Phillips’ was hushed, smothered in production. Instead of the sunshine melodies of California, these were folk tunes with their roots based in the Deep South.

These wonderful songs were built around Phillips’ acoustic guitar, but steel guitar, harmonica and fiddle all made regular, uplifting contributions. He lacked confidence in his vocal talents (they’re fine by the way), and so he intelligently kept them simple, being ably backed by a choir of sirens for the livelier moments. The themes of the album cover the important things that were happening in his life at the time, but the frequent references to American hotspots, from Malibu to Mississippi, make it feel like a bunch of postcards from a road-tripping friend.

There was a few good albums also released on this day – Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Destroyer’s Kaputt are both worthy efforts – but I had to cover this record. I think it’s a great cohesive album and a lot of fun, and it’s criminally underrated. Actually, scratch that, it doesn’t even count as underrated: in the very few reviews of it I have seen it was highly commended and it’s apparently very popular with fans; it’s more that it’s mostly forgotten or ignored by the wider public. Ex-Mamas bandmate Denny Doherty once said that this album would have been their best had the group been able to record it. He may be right, but I like it how it is.

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1.       April Anne – 3:22
2.       Topanga Canyon – 3:53
3.       Malibu People – 3:41
4.       Someone’s Sleeping – 2:46
5.       Drum – 3:36
6.       Captain – 3:25
7.       Let It Bleed, Genevieve – 2:53
8.       Down the Beach – 2:52
9.       Mississippi – 3:36
10.   Holland Tunnel – 3:41

Listen to ‘Mississippi’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS_sLUVuKTs

Also released on the 25th January:
2005: Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning
Also released on the 25th January:
2011: Destroyer - Kaputt

24 January 2013

24 Jan - LCD Soundsystem's LCD Soundsystem

Artist – Album: LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
Released: 24th January 2005
Sounds Like: The hipsters go-to dance punk party album

LCD Soundsystem, brainchild of New Jersey producer James Murphy, were too cool by half. Perennial favourites of supercilious online music magazine Pitchfork Media, each of their three studio albums garnered huge acclaim from websites and actual publications alike. In 2010, This Is Happening was listed as Pitchfork’s second best album of the year, repeating the feat achieved by 2007’s Sound of Silver, and this debut record was the eighth best back in the old sepia toned days of 2005.

Before all that, James Murphy had gigged in various bands and as a sound man on albums in New York and New Jersey, and was a clued up indie rock DJ. This experience all came to a head on LCD Soundsystem’s first single ‘Losing My Edge’, a sharp eight minute name check session where the protagonist lists iconic acts and venues (GIL! SCOTT! HERON!), and worries about falling behind the times. The fact that it was set to dance punk built around a Killing Joke sample meant that it was soon picked up by the cooler-than-thou DJs it was supposed to represent.

The rest of this album follows much the same line of wit and electronic sensibilities. ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ is incredibly fun and a stalwart of indie discos during the mid-noughties. ‘Tribulations’ is dark electo-pop and ‘Never as Tired as When I’m Waking Up’ is a slight departure into gentle indie rock.

Over 100 minutes long and across two discs, this record understandably doesn’t always hit the sweet spot. And at times it does feel like a collection of singles rather than a single flowing album (particularly with the second disc). But there’s enough smarts and skill here to make it an album you need to have a look at.

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1.       Daft Punk Is Playing at My House – 5:16
2.       Too Much Love – 5:42
3.       Tribulations – 4:59
4.       Movement – 3:04
5.       Never as Tired as When I’m Waking Up – 4:49
6.       On Repeat – 8:01
7.       Thrills – 3:42
8.       Disco Infiltrator – 4:56
9.       Great Release – 6:35
10.   Losing My Edge – 7:51
11.   Beat Connection – 8:08
12.   Give It Up – 3:55
13.   Tired – 3:34
14.   Yeah (Crass Version) – 9:21
15.   Yeah (Pretentious Version) – 11:06
16.   Yr City’s a Sucker (Full Version) – 9:22

Listen to ‘Daft Punk Are Playing At My House’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj8JrQ9w5jY

Also released on the 24th January:
2006: Jenny Lewis – Rabbit Fur Coat

23 January 2013

23rd Jan - David Bowie's Station to Station

Artist – Album: David Bowie – Station to Station
Released: 23rd January 1976
Sounds Like: The Return of the Thin White Duke

A couple of years ago I was on a training session at my old work and, during a break from the double entry booking and various other accountancy dribble, one of the trainers, an immense Glaswegian ex-rugby player, asked us what our favourite albums were. We young pups bandied about various routine titles such as Revolver and Pet Sounds, which he swatted away like some weedy fly-half. The best album, he told us, is this undervalued Bowie effort; even better than a deep fried Mars bar, he almost certainly did not say. I took his word for it, banged the album on Spotify (once I’d got home that is), and was mightily impressed.

Before then I just used to think of David Bowie as the guy who gave us Space Oddity and Changes and other such fluff. That, and the bizarre musician-actor who played the Goblin King in 80’s cult movie Labyrinth. Station to Station was a revelation: it opens with the 10 minute, amorphous title track that flows from slow sound effect heavy introduction to the psychedelic stomp main to the glam rock ending – this was as far removed from the Star Man that I’d seen on repeats of Top of the Pops as possible.

The album retains this shifting temperament throughout, taking in disco (‘Golden Years’), art-rock (’TVC 15’) and soul balladry (‘Wild is the Wind’), with the only consistent being Bowie’s icy, robotic alter-ego The Thin White Duke. Although the delivery lacks warmth, his voice is still wrought with passion, and his band manage brilliantly to cope with the ever changing moods.

At the end of the day, this record may not be to everyone’s taste and you may not share mine and my mentor’s enthusiasm for it, but I promise you, at the very least, it’s one of the most interesting and arresting albums you're ever likely to hear.  

Albumaday... rating: 10/10

1.       Station to Station – 10:14
2.       Golden Years – 4:00
3.       Word on a Wing – 6:03
4.       TVC 15 – 5:33
5.       Stay – 6:15
6.       Wild Is the Wind – 6:02

Also released on the 23rd January:
2006: Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Also released on the 23rd January:
2007: The Shins – Wincing the Night Away 

Also released on the 23rd January:
2007: Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

22 January 2013

22nd Jan - Dr John's Gris-Gris

Artist – Album: Dr John – Gris Gris
Released: 22nd January 1968
Sounds Like: Voodoo boogaloo

Gris-Gris is an album with it’s roots firmly in the music of deepest, darkest Louisiana. It’s beguiling potion mixes Dr John’s gruff vocals - sounding like a Bayou Captain Beefheart - spindly guitar and swampy percussion to create the cursed groove that permeates this record.

Apparently (that is, according to Wikipedia...) a gris-gris itself is an African amulet worn to protect the wearer from evil or to bring luck. With the opening track on this album, and with the bits that are both in English and decipherable, Dr John paints himself as some sort of shaman, extolling the virtues of his own gris-gris and the power of his witchcraft. This is followed by ‘Danse Kalinda Ba Doom’, which has the vibe of a psychedelic tribal dance and ‘Mama Roux’, a softer, more traditionally Cajun tale of a medicine woman. With ‘Danse Fambeaux’ we’re back on to Dr John himself and his infamous gris-gris.

The last track on the album, ‘I Walk On Gilded Splinters’, is arguably the best, and certainly the creepiest. Out of the murky backbeat comes a distant call and response from Dr John and his backing singers, and the sporadic guitar lick that splits through the gloom. The song has been covered by many, including Paul Weller with the first version I ever heard, but the original remains the best.

It’s no surprise that there’s nothing else that sounds like this, after all there‘s only so much room for psychedelic New Orleans R&B hybrids about black magic and hoodoo. But this is an exceptional effort that deserves your attention. And if you don’t give it, Dr John will put a spell on you.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya – 5:36
2.       Danse Kalinda Ba Doom – 3:39
3.       Mama Roux – 2:59
4.       Danse Fambeaux – 4:56
5.       Croker Courtbullion – 6:00
6.       Jump Sturdy – 2:20
7.       I Walk On Gilded Splinters – 7:37

Listen to ‘Mama Roux’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n3CShvEWWs

Also released on the 22nd January:
2001: Low – Things We Lost In the Fire
Also released on the 22nd January:
2001: Rosie Thomas – When We Were Small

21 January 2013

21st Jan - Air's Talkie Walkie

Artist – Album: Air – Talkie Walkie
Released: 21st January 2004
Sounds Like: Airy

Air announced their arrival back in 1998 (16th January 1998 to be exact, check out that day’s blog!) with their brilliant debut Moon Safari, a critical and commercial success that had a terrific blend of pumping electro-pop and mesmerizing soundscapes. Their real follow up, 10,000 Hz Legend (in-between they had contributed the soundtrack to the film The Virgin Suicides), spectacularly failed to elicit the same response. Detractors complained of overproduction and lack of focus, and, to be perfectly honest, times had moved on from the robot vocoders and simple synthpop of yesteryear. Talkie Walkie, thankfully, was a definite return to form.

Stylistically, it is closer to the cool, instrumental tunes from their first album then the fun bouncy hits, but that’s not to say that it takes itself too seriously. Instead, there’s an almost cloud-like, fluffy feel to the record: yes there’s nothing here you’d think of as a single, but it remains a very entertaining listen throughout.

You might recognise the whistled intro to ‘Alpha Beta Gaga’ from Orange adverts, whilst ‘Run’ and ‘Alone in Kyoto’ have appeared in various films such as Lost In Translation. ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’, ‘Surfing On a Rocket’ and ‘Universal Traveler’ are beautiful gossamer tunes that would not be out of place on album from indie dream pop specialists Beach House. They may not quite reach the heights of their fabulous first but this is still a fine third.

Albumaday... rating:   7/10

1.       Venus – 4:04
2.       Cherry Blossom Girl – 3:39
3.       Run – 4:12
4.       Universal Traveler – 4:22
5.       Mike Mills – 4:26
6.       Surfing on a Rocket – 3:43
7.       Another Day – 3:20
8.       Alpha Beta Gaga – 4:39
9.       Biological – 6:04
10.   Alone in Kyoto – 4:51

Listen to ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcUrEn7xmNE  

20 January 2013

20th Jan - Daft Punk's Homework

Artist – Album: Daft Punk - Homework
Released: 20th January 1997
Sounds Like: Daft Punk are playing at my house

Even when you’re slightly hungover on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, shepherd’s pie in the oven and dressing gown and slippers on, Daft Punk’s debut album Homework is a fun listen. Admittedly, there are more appropriate situations to be in when giving it a try, like getting ready for a night on the town or at a house party, but the infectious joy and exuberance of the record works whatever you’re up to.

The biggest hits, ‘Da Funk’ and ‘Around the World’, were supported by excellently offbeat videos and deservedly went on to become worldwide smashes. There are plenty of other beauties here too; the groovy ‘Revolution 909’, the name checking ‘Teachers’ and the bouncy bassline of ‘Burnin’’ all helped to make this album an instant French House classic.

If I had to make one small criticism of the album, I would say that at well over an hour long it does begin to drag a little; the duo’s excitement and multitude of ideas perhaps counting against them, when a little reining in could have made it up there with the all-time best. That being said, dance is a genre that usually works best in small doses or aided by large quantities of alcohol, and so it was an incredible achievement to make this effort so accessible and play-it-again-man. So don’t read too much into what I just said. 

As a piece of homework, I’d give it a B+ and a big red smiley face.

Albumaday... rating:  8/10

1.       Daftendirekt – 2:44
2.       WDPK 83.7 FM – 0:28
3.       Revolution 909 – 5:26
4.       Da Funk – 5:28
5.       Phoenix – 4:55
6.       Fresh – 4:03
7.       Around the World – 7:08
8.       Rollin’ & Scratchin – 7:26
9.       Teachers – 2:52
10.   High Fidelity – 6:00
11.   Rock ‘n Roll – 7:32
12.   Oh Yeah – 2:00
13.   Burnin’ – 6:53
14.   Indo Silver Club – 4:32
15.   Alive – 5:15
16.   Funk Ad – 0:50

Also released on the 20th January:
1967: The Rolling Stones – Between The Buttons

19 January 2013

19th Jan - Bonnie Prince Billy's I See A Darkness

Artist – Album: Bonnie “Prince” Billy – I See a Darkness
Released: 19th January 1999
Sounds Like: Billy learns to stop worrying and love the darkness

I See a Darkness is a sparse, bleak folk set, steeped in melancholy and anxiety. The subject matter involves fear and mortality (just look at the track listing: ‘Another Day Full of Dread’, ‘Death to Everyone’, ‘Today I Was an Evil One’ and ‘Black’); even the album cover is nightmarish, a creepy skull egg against a pitch black backdrop.  Bonnie “Prince” Billy (a.k.a. William Oldham), though, seems quite comfortable and content to embrace the shadows, and it is this restful acceptance of the bad things that makes it such a wonderful record; an album that you can listen to repeatedly without having to succumb to the despair it details.

The album kicks off with ‘A Minor Place’, a deceptively cheery shuffle that welcomes the listener in to Oldham’s mindset, declaring the fact that he’s been to this depressed place or condition but that he likes it. Stylistically, the following track, ‘Nomadic Revery’, more accurately sets the tone for the rest of the album, starting with hushed minor chords on the piano and Oldham’s plaintive vocals, before giving way to multilayered voices, electronic guitar, simple drums and a repeating chant of ‘Oh all around’.

The title track comes next, an exceptional confession to a friend of the bad turns his mood can take and the strength his friend can give him. Johnny Cash covered it respectably enough, but this is the single greatest statement of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s sound and manner. Other highlights include the country tinged ‘Today I Was an Evil One’ and the lovely album closer “Raining in Darling”.

I See a Darkness is a stunningly well realised collection of sad songs that somehow always hits the spot, regardless of the mood I’m in.  

Albumaday... rating:  10/10

1.       A Minor Place – 3:43
2.       Nomadic Revery (All Around) – 3:58
3.       I See a Darkness – 4:49
4.       Another Day Full of Dread – 3:10
5.       Death to Everyone – 4:31
6.       Knockturne – 2:17
7.       Madeleine-Mary – 2:31
8.       Song for the New Breed – 3:24
9.       Today I Was an Evil One – 3:52
10.   Black – 3:46
11.   Raining in Darling – 1:54

Listen to ‘Nomadic Revery (All Around)’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDgvrTjacs