Song of the day: The Bees – "Chicken Payback"

August 31, 2011

I was going to get back to playing you Australian stuff (this is supposed to be an Australian power pop blog after all), but today’s song from England is just so irresistible that I couldn’t resist* keeping it away from the blog any longer.

Here are The Bees with “Chicken Payback”, accompanied by an utterly demented video:

The Bees – “Chicken Payback” (2004)


Completely irresistible.

The Bees official website

(*I guess that’s the problem with irresistible things – you can’t resist them.)

Song of the day: Alejandra O’Leary – "@ The Club"

August 30, 2011

I received an email from a tremendously enthusiastic musician by the name of Alejandra O’Leary. (Hi, Alejandra!)

Before I go on, I’d just like to say that I think Alejandra’s full name is splendid. I love the unlikeliness of it. (Like “Franciscus Smyth-Biggins”, or “Bjorn McSporran”, or “Trevor M’bokopappamoko” etc etc).

Alejandra let me know about her latest album, Broken Mirror Baby, so I had a listen. I thought the songs were enjoyable. However, there’s a huge but…*

…but I found Alejandra’s voice problematic. I like the timbre of her voice – it’s sort of a little-girl / girl-group / cute-cute-cute sound, and I like that kind of voice a lot – but it’s the intonation that’s not good news.

I don’t want to criticise Alejandra’s voice too much, because she’s a better singer than I am (you really don’t want to hear me sing) – but Alejandra has recorded this CD and I’m mildly surprised that she’s allowed her singing as it currently sounds on the record to be presented to the public. I found the intonation (i.e., pitch) painfully insecure. With home recording nowadays, musicians have the luxury of being able to record take after take until they’re happy with what they’ve done. (Of course, musicians can go overboard with their recordings, spending way too much time correcting tiny things until they’ve made something completely flawless, fault-free, polished and sterile, without a hint of humanity.) So I thought Alejandra may have had the chance to take her recording away and tinker with her vocals (doing a retake here, a retouch there) until they were all in tune – or perhaps slightly less out of tune. Maybe Alejandra was going for a rough’n’raucous vibe with her vocals. But I don’t quite understand why, because the rest of the record (instrumentation, performance, recording) is neither rough nor raucous.

So the upshot of this gingerly offered review is that I liked the songs but I didn’t like the singing.

I have a terrible confession to make (sorry about this, Alejandra – you can cover your eyes now if you want to): Whilst listening to the songs, I actually winced a few times. I don’t know if I’m sensitive to vocal intonation or anything (I don’t think I have perfect pitch, so it’s not that), but I do have a problem when things aren’t in tune, whether they be vocals or instruments. It makes no difference to me – if something’s out of tune, I tend to cringe because to me it’s incredibly noticeable, wherever it is.

I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. Alejandra’s vocals may not bother you anywhere near as much as they did me.

I also don’t want to end this post on a sour note (yep, pun intended), because I really don’t like bagging** people, so I’ll mention the things I liked.

“What are the things you liked?” I hear you ask.

I’m glad you asked. I can say that what I liked about Alejandra’s songs were the song structures, instrumentation, playing, and recording quality. Although I didn’t think the vocal melodies were terribly strong, I thought they suited the songs. It all made for what I’d consider to be “relaxed songs” – songs that took their time unfolding.

How about I let you hear the songs for yourself? That way, you can decide whether the last few paragraphs were horrendously unfair to a tremendously enthusiastic musician…

Alejandra O’Leary – “@ The Club” (2011)

Alejandra O’Leary – “When Will They Learn?” (2011)

Alejandra O’Leary – “Broken Mirror Baby” (2011)

Alejandra O’Leary – Broken Mirror Baby – Album Promo from jfrey1 on Vimeo.

Alejandra O’Leary official website
Alejandra O’Leary on Facebook
Broken Mirror Baby sampler on Bandcamp

(*No jokes please.)

(**Not literally.)

Song of the day: The Sweet – "Peppermint Twist"

August 29, 2011

And now for something fun.

I was listening to a new power pop album the other day and not enjoying it much. But it did do one good thing for me – as I was listening to it I suddenly had the urge to play a track I hadn’t heard in years:

The Sweet – “Peppermint Twist (1974)


And here’s the original:

Joey Dee and the Starliters – “Peppermint Twist (1961)


Song of the day: Paul Kelly And The Messengers – "When I First Met Your Ma"

August 28, 2011

Now, here’s a song where Australia’s Greatest Living Songwriter© is near the top of his game. (See yesterday’s post if that sentence made no sense to you.)

This brings me close to tears whenever I hear it:

Paul Kelly & The Messengers – “When I First Met Your Ma” (1992)


I think it’s the ambiguity that just increases the sigh-factor in me. Is it about divorce? Death? Incarceration? Madness? Just why did the mother leave? Or maybe she didn’t leave. Who knows? I guess the listener can decide what’s what and who’s who in this song.

Song of the day: Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls – "Crosstown"

August 27, 2011

Although I don’t think today’s song is anywhere near the best work by Australia’s Greatest Living Songwriter©, I like it a lot because it’s nice and bouncy, and because it reminds me of both Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys:

Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls – “Crosstown” (1987)


Incidentally, I was originally going to play you a different Paul Kelly song today but I thought it might have been a bit too low-key for you. It’s an obscure single by Paul that didn’t chart, but I absolutely adore it. Actually, I think I’ll play it tomorrow anyway.

Yep, I’ll play it tomorrow.

Song of the day: Cymbals – "8am Escape Plan"

August 26, 2011

By now you’re probably aware that, courtesy of the lover of most things Japanese – and soon to be in Japan* – Celeste (Hi, Celeste!), I’ve been exposed to a variety of Japanese pop and rock music. And because I have a blog, you have, too.

Believe it or not, I stumbled across this Japanese band without the aid of Celeste. I have no idea how, when, or where I saw them on the Intertubes, but I did, liked what I heard, and thought “Hmm – I wonder if I can put some of their songs on the blog and not have people running away screaming.”

So here’s Japanese rock band Cymbals. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth your time pressing “play” and listening to something you’ve never heard before for a few minutes, then I’ll give you a short description and leave it up to you:

Cymbals sound like a cross between Jellyfish and Ben Folds Five.

Over to you, dear reader.

Cymbals – “8am Escape Plan” (2003)


I like that. It’s fun.

And I like this, too:

Cymbals – “Rally” (2003)


And this:

Cymbals – “Do You Believe In Magic?” (2003)



(*Celeste will be studying there.)

Song of the day: Pete Townshend – "Give Blood"

August 25, 2011

I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to ask you to play the video first, because it’s that version of the song I’m featuring today. And it’s a specific aspect of the performance in the video that I want you to experience.

I’ve chosen today’s track specifically for the drumming, which is provided by premier session dude Simon Phillips (who also provided the drums on the studio version). I think it’s astonishing drumming, and propels the song in a way that makes it an unstoppable force of nature:

Pete Townshend – “Give Blood” (1985)


Potentially snooze-inducing sidenote: Simon Phillips came to Australia in the 80’s and held a drum clinic in Adelaide (the state capital of South Australia, where I live). I must admit that I don’t remember exactly when that was, so I’ll have to interrupt his reminiscence to find some dates…

Found it. According to this page, Simon Phillips was in Adelaide sometime in May 1988 for a clinic tour promoting Zildjian and Tama. (Drummers know what those mysterious words “Zildjian” and “Tama” mean.)

Anyway, I went off to this drum clinic*. Simon appeared, said “howdy” to everyone (he may not have actually used the word “howdy”), sat down at his drum kit, and proceeded to play “Give Blood” (see above). In its entirety. Completely solo. And my jaw dropped – for six minutes.

It was one of the most amazing musical performances I’ve ever experienced. Thanks, Simon, for drumming an entire song on your own and not making it boring.

Hi, Simon!

(*It was at John Reynolds Music City. I remembered where it was! Woohoo!)

Musical coincidences # 123

August 24, 2011

I was listening to “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” on the weekend, and a bit of it got stuck in my head – this bit:

Meat Loaf – “Paradise By The Dashboard Light (1977) (excerpt)


As I kept singing that bit to myself over and over again, it dawned on me that I’ve heard that tune somewhere before…

Rick Nelson – “Garden Party (1972) (excerpt)


I hope you don’t have any trouble hearing the similarity. The two songs make it pretty helpful by being both in the same key.

Now, ever since the weekend I find those parts of the songs interchangeable, and I can sing either lyrics in either song. Easy.

Meat Loaf – “Paradise By The Dashboard Light (1977)


Rick Nelson – “Garden Party (1972)


Song of the day: Anodyne 500 – "Temporarily Yours"

August 24, 2011

Today’s post features yet another band from Perth.

(I already pestered you with Perth bands on Tuesday and Sunday. I think I might call this week’s posts Attack Of The Perth Bands).

Here’s Anodyne 500:

Anodyne 500 – “Temporarily Yours” (1998)


Song of the day: Taxiride – "Afraid To Fly"

August 23, 2011

Ah, the joys of op shops…

I was in an op shop the other day (I think they’re called “thrift shops” in America and “junk* shops” in England – shops that aid charities by selling secondhand goods ultra-cheaply), and made a beeline straight for the books and CDs (as I always do). I was extremely pleased to find a Taxiride CD there for $2. I’d heard very little of Taxiride – only a couple of radio hits – but I remembered that one of the power pop blogs I visit regularly speaks highly of them from time to time. (I’ve forgotten which blog it is.) So I handed over a $2 coin (we have those in Australia), and I’m now the owner of Taxiride’s 2002 album, Garage Mahal.

Now that I’ve heard an entire Taxiride album, I must admit that I’m underwhelmed. It’s very slick modern rock, and seems as if it was designed specifically to be played on commercial radio. That in itself is not bad thing as far as I’m concerned, but the album doesn’t sound terribly unique to me. It sounds like it could have been recorded by any number of other bands that sound like Taxiride. I didn’t get the sense of “Oh yeah, that’s Taxiride alright – it couldn’t be anyone else.”

Anyway, here’s one of the songs from the album:

Taxiride – “Afraid To Fly” (2002)


And here’s another track from the album. You might like it more than I did:

Taxiride – “Saffron” (2002)


Incidentally, Garage Mahal contains “Creepin’ Up Slowly”, the biggest hit the band ever had – it was a Top Ten hit in Australia (it got to number six):

Taxiride – “Creepin’ Up Slowly (2002)


Trivia time: Garage Mahal was produced by Jack Joseph Puig, the chap who engineered and co-produced Jellyfish‘s two albums, Bellybutton and Spilt Milk. Yes indeed.

Taxiride official website
Taxiride on MySpace

(*I hope they’re not called junk shops in England, because I reckon most of the stuff sold in these shops are not junk at all.)