Saturday, August 04, 2007

Albums of 2007 - the halfway runners and riders

As usual I thought it was time to pick the 10 albums that have tickled my fancy most thus far in 2007. How many have the staying power to still be there come the end of the year? - Who knows. The following are in no order, but I must confess that The Grinderman and NIN albums are probably the two that have most impressed me thus far.

1. Grinderman - Grinderman: This really shouldn't be this good, and this enjoyable
2. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero: Bit flat for me live, but this may just be Trent's best outing.
3. Mary Chapin Carpenter - The Calling: I had believed that MCC's best days were well and truly behind her, but this album has pleasingly proved me wrong.
4. Ryan Adams -  Lost Highway: Not his best, but his second best is better than most people's best.
5. Queens of the Stoneage - Era Vulgaris: I Just like it.
6. Jesse Malin - Glitter in the Gutter
7. Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full: Obviously drinking Starbuck's Coffee has done the trick.
8. McQueen - Break the Silence: 4 young ladies making a, pleasingly, British rock sound.
9. Funeral for a Friend - Tales Don't Tell Themselves:
10. Manic Street Preachers - Send Away the Tigers: No new ground, but more fun then recent offerings
(The Hold Steady - Boys & Girls in America : Yes, this could be considered cheating if I include it, but it's not my fault this wasn't officially released in the UK until this year. So it's unofficially officially in the top 10 in place of one of the above. And did I mention I am going to see them for the third time in 6 months on 30th Aug)

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Jill Sobule - San Fransisco

The excellent Jill Sobule via Mydamnchannel (which has some nice stuff with Slash and Duff too).

Downnload MP3 of the track and another track called 'Mom' here

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Aimee Mann at Indigo02 - 27/07/07

This was the 4th time I have seen Aimee live, and whilst she was great once again, she has never been better than the first two times I saw her (esp the first time in 2000 with husband Michael Penn and comedian Patton Oswalt). Still, let's not look backwards.

The gig started off with a nice little set by Jenny Owen Youngs (she remembered to tell us who she was just before she left the stage!). Her debut album is a mostly average singer-songwriter offering; but live she has a humour and a sense of fun that help raise some of the weaker songs above their recorded status. This is not to say she doesn't have a few great tunes: 'Drinking Song'; 'From Here' and 'Fuck I was' are all top draw. Add to this a very entertaining cover of Nelly's 'Hot in Herre' (to the tune of Oasis' Wonderwall) and I think it safe to say she made a number of new fans. She is a star in the making.

Aimee was in a fun mood too - even if she wasn't sure whether or not the venue was still in London or not. The set consisted of a mix of old and new including two of her finest moments: - '4th of July', and by popular request (and complete with fluffed lyrics) ' Other end of the Telescope'. Also she played 'Momentum' (from the Magnolia soundtrack) which she hasn't played live before, mainly because she considers it a novelty track - sounded good though. In an ideal world I would have liked a few more of her rockier numbers, but her thanking us for the Beckhams just about made up for that.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Scorpions at Hammersmith Apollo - 30/07/07

The last time I saw the Scorpions live was 17 years ago. They were very good. Why the gap to seeing them again? I'm not sure: a general indifference to most of the material they have released since Savage Amusement most likely. Anyway, a few weeks ago on the spur of the moment I decided I needed a 'Heavy Metal' night out, so the Scorps fitted the bill. Things got more interesting when I read that Michael Schenker would also be on the bill as support with MSG. Cool.

I little research this afternoon revealed that young Micky has been back to his getting smashed ways and this had even lead to a fight with older brother Rudy just a few days ago. I also learned that Uli Roth was on the road with the boys and joining them for a few classics in the middle of the set. An interesting night beckoned.

And so to the gig.

I arrived a bit late so had missed half the MSG set. This turned out to be a blessing. Michael Schenker was having enough problems standing up, never mind playing guitar. Let us not forget this man is a fine guitarist. It was sad and embarrassing to watch. Like a bad version of Spinal Tap, which not even a few classic UFO songs could save. Michael remains a troubled soul.

But then, all was right with the world, and the Scorpions hit the stage for a set that lasted 2 hours 20 mins including encore. Kicking off with Hour 1 off their latest record (they also played 321, and Humanity off this album) it all came flooding back - the Scorpions are a fine live band. We got, the Zoo; Coast to Coast; Bad Boys Running Wild; Holiday; Big City Nights; Leaving You; Dynamite; Tease Me, Please Me; Love 'em or Leave 'Em; Deep & Dark. All pretty good, but wait ...there is more.

In the middle of this we got Uli on stage to run through: Pictured Life; Speedy's Coming; Dark Lady; We'll Burn the Sky; and (a shortened) Fly to the Rainbow. Now, one old guitar god might have been having problems knowing where the fuck he was, but Uli showed he can still play a mean guitar, and it was a treat to hear these old pre 80's Scorps tunes again. We even go another - a personal favourite - In Trance thrown in during the encores, which also featured: Still Loving You, Winds of Change; and finishing off with a fine, Rock you like a Hurricane.

I remember when I was younger, and during the 80's when if asked I would have said the Scorpions were my favourite band, and that I wanted to be Rudolf Schenker. Tonight, I remembered why. The Scorpions still rock, and Rudy remains a joy to watch on stage. I still want to be him.