Here’s rockin’ Melbourne band Dallas Crane rockin’ out in a rockin’ way:
Dallas Crane – “Dirty Hearts” (2004)
A couple of days ago a friend (Hi, Kenny!) suggested I listen to a US power pop band called Gladhands. They were active in the 90’s, and released two albums before, er, not releasing any more.
I got a hold of their debut album, La Di Da (1997), listened to it, and enjoyed it. It’s power pop alright – lots of tunes, lots of guitars – and pleasantly varied (i.e., the songs don’t all sound the same).
Here’s the opening track:
Gladhands – “Kill’em With Kindness” (1997)
And here’s another one:
Gladhands – “Dissatisfaction” (1997)
Not bad at all.
Gladhands – “La Di Da” (1997) (excerpt)
To me, that sounded enough like this…
…for me to shout “Hey, that’s a musical coincidence!”
Here are the full versions:
Gladhands – “La Di Da” (1997)
Today’s song is by a band I’d never heard of before until I received some information about them by the splendidly magnificent (and magnificently splendid, I might add) Will from the PR company Heapsaflash. (Hi, Will!)
Before I get on with my pointless prattling, I want to express my concern about something in particular…
When Will sent me biographical information about Timothy Nelson & The Infidels, it came in the form of an A4 sheet of paper with a whole heap o’ information about the band and the music (on both sides of the paper). One side of the page has a completely black background, like so:
As far as I’m concerned, that page uses way too much ink. Now, I don’t know if the PR company has unlimited resources but why use so much ink? (I suppose if the company used a laser printer, then the question would be: Why use so much toner?)
The PR company is called Heapsaflash. I want to call it Heapsaink.
OK. Rant over.
Now to the music…
The helpful Will (I was about to call him Mr. Chappy Man, but then I thought he might not enjoy that very much) pointed me in the direction of I Know This Now, the debut album by the aforementioned Timothy and co.
I’ve now listened to the album five times, and must say that I found it a much more enjoyable experience than I thought it was going to be. Unfortunately, it was the black-ink-saturated blurb that produced a bit of hesitation and dubiousness in me. A part of the blurb claimed that the music was a sort of Big Star–Wilco hybrid, and “jangly, guitar-heavy folk”. From what I heard, it wasn’t that at all. For me, the music is more pop with tinges of country. I was going to use the phrase “slightly rootsy”, but it’s not really. (Well, not as much as Wilco.) There’s a fair bit of guitar in it, but it’s not what I’d call ‘guitar-heavy’. And it’s not particularly jangly, either. (It’s more ‘strummy’ than jangly.)
But whatever you want to call it, I think I Know This Now is a mighty decent album. Now, it’s not a power pop album, so you may not like it all. (I guess it depends on how much power you like in your pop.) Or maybe you will.
Although I don’t usually find myself attracted to albums full of pop with tinges of country (e.g., harmonica, lap-steel guitars, and all those things that get people thinking, “Hmm – that sounds a bit country-ish”), I found listening to this album a surprisingly pleasant and painless experience.
Being an album kind of guy (I’ve previously banged on about how I love listening to albums from start to finish, so I won’t bang on about it here as well), one thing I was very impressed with is that I Know This Now is a proper album. It sounds like a collection of related songs, not just a couple of outstanding songs and the rest filler. It’s also frighteningly consistent throughout in the quality of the songwriting, singing, playing, and production. This makes it an album with no dud tracks on it. It also makes it a complete non-chore to listen to.
For me, the advantage of listening to an album I enjoy from start to finish, with no individual songs significantly better (or worse) than any other songs, is that I can confidently tell you this: if you like one song, you’re gonna like the album.
The disadvantage is that it’s made it extremely difficult for me to choose a song to play you. I’m afraid that playing you only one of the album’s songs does that song a disservice because it deserves to be heard in the context of the whole thing (i.e., with its musical siblings).
So, I’m going to choose four songs in the hope that you at least get an idea of the kind of music Mr. Nelson and his Infidels makes, even if you don’t get to experience the album (which I think is still the best way to hear Timbo’s batch of songs)…
Timothy Nelson & The Infidels – songs wrenched from I Know This Now (2011)
By the way, if you managed to get this far in the post (I hope you packed your lunch for it) and you want to know more about the man, there’s an interview with Timothy Nelson over at The Thousands.
I’m not keen on the sentiment (it is rather impolite), but I love that blues riff:
Town Criers – “Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” (1965)
If you’re familiar with the song, you may bemoan the version I chose (as in: “Oh, Peter, how could you? It’s a great song! And that’s such a wimpy version!”). That particular version is here because it’s performed by an Australian band. (It’s the only Australian one I could find. There may be more, but I ain’t found ’em.)
Never fear, though. Here are some groovier versions:
The Pretty Things – “Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” (1965)
[From a non-male perspective]
The Delmonas – “Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” (1986 – yes, 1986)
And here’s quite possibly the grooviest version of all:
Bo Diddley – “Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” (1964)
Today’s song is the direct result of another blogger blogging a song on his blog.*
The indubitable Stonefish (Hi, Stoneyonio!) posted Mary Hopkin’s “Goodbye” yesterday. I can’t tell you just how much I adore “Goodbye” – or Mary Hopkin. The song is one of those magical tracks that, when I’ve finished playing it, I’ll play it again. Repeatedly. And not get sick of it.
And Mary Hopkin…
I can state quite categorically that, courtesy of “Goodbye”, the first musician I ever fell in love with was Mary Hopkin. I was only seven at the time, but it sure felt like love.
Mary Hopkin. Sigh.
Anyway, today’s song is indeed “Goodbye”, but it’s performed not by Mary or the song’s author, Macca Mc Fab Mac. It’s a version I love just as much as Mary’s or Paul’s. And it’s sung by, er, ah, um…
Here’s where things get a little odd. I’m not entirely who gets the credit for this version of “Goodbye”. The singer’s name is Satoko Fujiwara, but the song is credited to A Harvest Garden, which may be the name of the group she sings in. But it may also be her stage name (like Australian musician Sally Seltmann giving herself a band name, “New Buffalo“, or American musician Conor Oberst using the name “Bright Eyes“, or American musician Chan Marshall calling herself “Cat Power” etc). I’m not sure if A Harvest Garden is a band or a person, because all the photos I’ve seen for “A Harvest Garden” are of Satoko only. So I don’t know if Satoko is A Harvest Garden, or if A Harvest Garden is actually a band but the band decided to only show photos of her because she’s the prettiest member. Who knows?
What I do know is that I’m enchanted by Satoko Fujiwara’s voice:
And here she is again:
I honestly can’t hear this song enough.
And thanks, Stonefrog, for giving me a reason to listen to “Goodbye” again.
(*In mentioning the word “blog” as many times as possible in one sentence, I thought I might as well “go the whole blog”.)
Today we have what I’d call one-and-a-half coincidences. The first one is a definite “Yes!”, but I’ll admit the second one barely qualifies.
First of all, the proper coincidence…
The theme tune to the TV show The Colbert Report starts off with a brass fanfare and then proceeds with the band playing a propulsive riff. (Trivia time: it was written and performed by Cheap Trick.) This is the fanfare bit:
It took me a while to figure out what that tune reminded me of, but it finally dawned on me that it’s the main tune of the Christmas carol “O Come All Ye Faithful“.
It also took me a while to find a version of it sung in the same key to illustrate the similarity. When I did find a suitable version, I was mildly surprised. It’s by Stryper, a hair metal band. A Christian hair metal band.
Here’s how it starts:
By the way, Stryper’s version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” appears on a 1991 Christmas compilation album entitled The Christmas Album… A Gift Of Hope. With the band on that album are some very strange bedfellows. Just have a look at the album cover:
Now, the second coincidence…
When I heard the theme tune’s main riff, with electric guitars blazing, it reminded me of the riff in the Violent Femmes‘ “Blister In The Sun“. When I got around to actually hearing “Blister In The Sun” (as opposed to imaging what the riff was like), though, I realised that it’s not that similar to The Colbert Report‘s riff. Well, maybe a little. I’ll let you be the judge…
Anyway, here are the full versions:
Oh, I want to mention just one more thing before this post ends up longer than it needs to be. (Note to self: Too late!)
Considering the magnitude of the ego belonging to The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A., I wondered if the similarity between the brass fanfare at the start of his theme was actually deliberate, and “O Come All Ye Faithful” was a call to arms for all the true believers (i.e., Colbert’s fans).