Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sun, by Cat Power

This Cat Power album is fast becoming one of my repeat-play albums of this summer. It's got the right breeziness for intense heat. Manhatten feels especially cool.

I was worried that having lost touch with Cat Power, and not being keen on some latterday stuff, that I wouldn't like the album. In fact, hearing some of the leading material from this album on Youtube, I was disappointed, it felt pale and not all that melodic.

But seeing her Glastonbury performance this year (one of only about two or three televised acts worth my time - the rest wasn't even broadcast, eg Six By Seven, Robyn Hitchcock - and I got to pining for John Peel's wry and lovely voice as well, but that's another story...), turned me right around. I find an honesty and a kind of strength in her clear discomfort for playing live, no falsity or persona. Albeit, she did seem pretty stoned, and sadly kind of lost, but, that's Glastonbury for you, I couldn't blame her for being overwhelmed/high in the moment.

My immediate reaction to seeing her sing again after so long was fondness. When I was at university, I practically worshipped Chan Marshall: the only female poster on my (male-dominated) wall, and I wanted to play guitar like her, and I saw her live, loved her interview comments, wanted to be her, etc... There are very few females that have that effect on me, if I'm honest.

This album has two huge highlights in the opener, Cherokee, and Manhatten. I've got to admit that hearing these songs on the stereo, and not on a basic laptop, makes such a difference to my feelings for them, too. Obvious thing to say.. But sampling stuff online is often such a bad option for me if it wrongly mars my reactions, as is often the case.... I suppose it's not always down to quality, though, but the immediacy (instant) that the medium demands (though, conversely, with the recent, new Six by Seven material I was hooked from the off). This video for Manhatten is really cool and in good fun though - and maybe now I know the song and taken it to my heart, I enjoy it a whole lot more. I have to state how much I adore the electronic beats along to the piano riffs too:

Overall, it is Cat Power's honeyed voice, treacle thick and sensual that wins me over, and reminds me what I love about this artist.

A toast to Sun by Cat Power, then! Soundtrack to beautiful, laidback summer evenings. Now, to complete my Cat Power collection.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Albums of summers past #2

Had a real craving to hear this album when it was unbearably hot the other night, and I was cooking. There's something incredibly suited to the recent weather about this album. It's not so much that it reminds me of when I was younger and listening to this album (on C90 tape again - but I then owned it on CD), perfect summer times, or anything... Though I do recall the fun time I had when the Dandy Warhols came to my small town, the sensation that caused at school, and the amazing gig itself...

No, Dandy Warhols Come Down just has this incredibly cool air about it - both exuding from the band as they deliver it, and from the songs as they sound... There's a really nice groove to it, that makes you feel (or wish to be) stoned, and it's very American-cool sounding - and danceable - rock/pop, which I appreciate. It's such a 60s influenced album, too. A lot of the songs are good time, and there's summery pop bounding about. This is one of my albums of the summer at the moment, as is some of their first album.

Not wanting to mention The Dandys in the same breath purposely, but I was already thinking about and remembering what an ideal summer album this was for me a few years ago, so I'll just mention it anyway - and the music has a similar effect and groove and influences...

I guess it was more the Peppermint Wonderland singles collection by The Brian Jonestown Massacre that I dug this one perfect, happy summer some years ago. But then, there are two songs from here that were on constant repeat as well: Free & Easy, Take II, and The Ballad of Jim Jones. I guess it's the harmonica that makes it so summery and cool. The laidback, hippie, 60s air. I remember feeling so ecstatic this summer, strolls in west London parks, all this amazing, tuneful music soundtracking everything, feeling so spirited.
Underrated and wrongly slated, I feel. The farewell album from Mansun had a lot of moments. This reminds me of being on my year out, working weird shifts at a cinema, being practically nocturnal, and often coming home to listen to this and Marquee Moon by Television, as I drank restorative booze, so badly needed as my muscles ached so much from the long hours at the cinema. A strange time in my life, but how acoustic and melodic this album was in places was really nice - and, again, that word, sorry, but no other fits - breezy!

That same period of my life as the above, evenings as the sun set, and there was dreamy pink-yellow-purple light, were often soundtracked by this. Again, just so cool sounding - floaty, and ebbing on and on, winding guitars, hypnotic.

Albums from summers past

Breezy but hot summer has reminded me so much of youthful afternoons listening to Vauxhall and I. And how I seldom dig it out nowadays. I actually still only own it on the same cassette tape that I taped it from the library with, back then! Had to have a bit of  a dig around to locate it. On the flip-side are a bunch of classic/repeat Peel sessions, mix of stuff like New Order, Sleeper, Gene, The Cure, The Housemartins, oh and John Peel saying he'd need thousands of pounds to hear any more session tracks by The Farm...

The slew of six songs on the first half of this Morrissey album are absolutely, unadulterated perfection, for me. Now My Heart is Full, Hold onto Your Friends, and Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself, in especial. The opening line of the latter kept getting in my head with the weather, and made me need to hear it again. The rest of the album is good to excellent, but it's the first half that makes this album for me. Ah, so much yearning. The songs really take me back to a point in time, and, yep, I was often found indoors, supine, and writing letters to odd people in Luxembourg, and the like...

Another breezy sounding album from this sort of time, again borrowed from the library and stealthily recorded onto tape, and still needs to be replaced on CD, is this one:

Singing my heart out, dreamily, such a romantic, prettily melodic collection of songs...quiet, sometimes lovelorn, but assured vocals...emotive, poetic lyrics....really very literate and eye-opening to me as a teenager, I even made a homemade lyric booklet to fit inside the tape case - days before the internet! I copied them by hand often - though this time I must've used not even a computer as we hadn't one, but an electronic typewriter...The inter-vocal play with female and male is so nicely complementing...Dive for Your Memory so evocative of being on a cliff....reminds me of picnics by water, and cycling in the sun, writing letters to endless pen pals on my bed of an afternoon with the tape on...the harmonica part of Quiet Heart drifting out of the window, plaintively...

Streets of Your Town is the highlight of the Go-Betweens' 16 Lovers Lane, for me, really feel the cool breeze when I hear this song...

Still such a painfully underappreciated band, so many perfect songs, and I'm glad I could appreciate them at such a young age. This album is seamless for me, not a band song on it, one of my favourites.

More summer album posts coming...

My t-shirt of the summer

One of the brightest coloured, most arty band t-shirts I now own; so summery that I'm wearing it out. It's in competition with my bright lime green Robyn Hitchcock t-shirt as my most summery band t-shirt. A reminder of the band's recent and wonderful Herne Hill Half Moon gig. I can't wait for the new Allo Darlin' album, too, as they're often so dazzingly summery sounding musically, too.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

All Thrills No Frills Music Bill, issue #3 of the print fanzine

The new issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill is a mini issue, made in 24 hours to celebrate International Zine Month, this month.

This issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill is a bit different to usual issues, since it takes the form of a perzine (personal writing zine). It is written from the perspective of a female guitar player, and focuses on: getting back into playing after a break (inspired by reading Good Fuzzy Sounds 'zine, and being hooked on the new Six by Seven album), times of feeling conscious of gender in music playing, also thoughts on the attention/treatment of female musicians, analysis of past personal experiences, heroes and heroines, and asks the question: 'Just, why are women still not fortified with similar respect and credibility about their abilities?

Limited editions of the 'zine come wrapped inside a guitar string envelope, if you buy on Etsy! Dinky little zine, but packed full of writing, images/collage.

And if you are about to tell me that sexism in music doesn't exist, there's this excellent website full of experiences from female musicians: