Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Part III - 21-40

Yes, it's back. Part 3 (parts 1 and 2 ) of my list of 99 albums you should own by female artists/fronted bands.

21.Shelby Lynne – I am Shelby Lynne. Seriously, how GOOD is this record? I remember first hearing it and being totally bowled over by her voice and the range of songs on it. Your Lies, Easier, Black Light Blue, Leavin, Why Can't You Be ... Not a dud on the whole record. Would feature in a list of the best 25 albums ever made for me. A true classic.
22. Veruca Salt – American Thighs. Back in the days when Nina Gordon and Louise Post were still on speaking terms. A nice nod to AC/DC in the album title, and this was indeed a straight ahead rock album. I listened to this again recently and was amazed how well it stands up. Get Back, All Hail Me, Number one Blind, Victrola, and the marvellous Seether all mean this album rocks.
23. Nina Gordon - Tonight and the Rest of My Life, Somehow seemed right to follow up VS with one of Nina's solo albums. More pop/rock as a solo artist, she is never the less still a joy to listen too.
24. Debbie Harry – Rockbird. The best of Deborah's solo albums. This was packed full of joyous pop - Free to Fall, French Kissing in the USA - of the type that you'd expect from the singer of Blondie
25. Juliana Hatfield – Only Everything. An underrated artist is our Juliana, especially amongst those who only know her as Evan Dando's one time squeeze. This is my favourite album of hers. Lost track of how many compilation CDs I've done with Dying Proof and Universal Heart-Beat on them.
26. 10,000 Maniacs – In my Tribe. The moment I heard the song 'Cherry Tree' – I truly great song about not being able to read - I fell in love with this band and Nathalie Merchant. Add to this songs like 'Don't Talk', Like The Weather, Hey Jack Kerouac, What's The Matter Here? Listened to this on Vinyl a few weeks ago, and still sounded as good as the day I bought it.
27. Mary Chapin Carpenter – A Place in the World. Hard to pick a MCC album for this list as I love all of them, but the balance of this album means it gets the nod, and the title track is truly beautiful.
28. Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas. Ethereal music with Elizabeth Fraser making up her own language to deliver the songs in. What's not to like. I like all the albums but again, this is the one which hangs together best, and the title track is one of my favourite songs from the band.
29. Amy Grant – Lead me On. Only make me love Jesus more. Well, quite. I'm an atheist, but I still bellow out this line every time. Why? Because it's a bloody fine track (Saved by Love) off a quite outstanding album packed full of praising the lord. Great voice, well crafted songs. Another classic
30. Rasputina – How we quit the Forrest. I Think it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that introduced me to this band. Weird, creepy, Cello rock.
31. Voice of the Beehive – Let it Bee. Take Madness' drummer, and two mad sisters from the US of A and you had VOTB. It really is all about the songs again. They made two really great albums but the first is still the best. I Say Nothing, Just a City, Beat of Love, Don't Call Me Baby, I Walk the Earth, There's A Barbarian In The Back Of My Car (co-written by Zodiac Mindwarp )
32. Fuzzbox - Big Bang. I actually liked this band when they were called We've got a Fuzzbox, and we're Gonna use it. They were a bit less polished back then. By the time the name had been shortened they had got very polished. This could have been bad, but writing a song about Thunderbirds was genius. Add in the fun of Pink Sunshine, Self and the Lovely ballad, Irish Bride, and you had a great little album.
33. Portishead – Dummy. Almost immediately hailed as a classic by UK critics, it was an musically inventive album that more than deserved all the plaudits. Glory Box sounds as fresh now as it did back in 1994. Sour Times remains the best 'never' James Bond theme.
34. Lone Justice - Shelter . I always had a small crush on MM. Belfy, I found Love, Shelter.
35. The Bangles – All over the Place. Their often overlooked debut album is still full of hidden gems: Hero take a fall, Going down to Liverpool, James, Dover Beach. I was also in love with Sussana Hoffs. Actually, I may still be in love with Sussana Hoffs.
36. Matraca Berg – Sunday Morning to Saturday Night. The very talented and underrated Miss Berg's most enjoyable record. A fine example of the best pop/country crossover – check out That Train Don't Run. The song 'Back when were Beautiful' is, in my mind, one of the most beautiful and touching songs ever written. One of the few songs to ever make me shed a tear.
37. Rosy Vista - You Better Believe It. A mini album by a bunch of German rockers. Good luck trying to get hold of a copy. Showed a lot of promise with sounds like 'Tables are Turned' and Until I'm Satisfied.
38. Trisha Yearwood – Thinkin' About You. One of the finest voices on the planet. Was tempted to pick her second album Hearts in Armor,, but I was listening to this one recently and I'm a sucker for XXX's and OOO's
39. Sleeper – The It Girl Yet another girl I was in love with. Louise Wener. Quit and became a novelist although think she still plays occasionally. "What Do I Do Now?", "Lie Detector", "Sale of the Century" – marvelous.
40. Elastica - Elastica Justine Frischmann. There was something strangely attractive about her , and Donna Matthews wasn't too shabby either. The album was brash and songs like, Line Up, meant you either loved or hated them. Still a strong record – second album was a big disappointment. One of their best songs – Waking Up, blatantly ripped off the Strangler's 'No More Heroes' – which eventually cost the band royalties.Frischmann eventually returned to her first love architecture and then art and now lives in the US.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Best Singles of 2009

What was very apparent, very quickly, when I say down to make this list was how much of a 'ladies' year this has been. My favourite single of the year? Probably either Pearl Jam, Taylor Swift or Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But what follows in no particular order are my Top 20 (or at least as I remember them – no doubt, as per usual I have left out one or two records I really loved but have forgotten about!)

1. Pearl Jam – The Fixer (Short, sharp, sweet – a cracking song)
2. Taylor Swift – Love Story (Yes it's cheesy, but I loved this record. Catchy like all great pop)
3. Nell Bryden – Second Time Around (proof that you can say it all on just over 2 mins)
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (because was trying to limit to one per artist had to choose this over equally excellent Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero)
5. Placebo - For What It's Worth - (Battle for Sun also great though )
6. Kelly Clarkson – I don't hook up (Just a great pop song)
7. The Veronicas – Untouched (Just the kind of pop rock I like. So should have released This Love here though)
8. The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die (Yes, they must)
9. Florence & The Machine – Rabbitt Heart (The critics have loved Florence. I think album is ok, but this is the stand out track)
10. Lady Ga Ga – Paparazzi (I tried to resist but eventually she wore me down)
11. The Decemberists - The Rake’s Song (buy the album)
12. Bonnie “Prince” Billy - I Am Goodbye (I LOVE this. Another short song, and another instant classic)
13. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc (One of their finest moments)
14. Steel Panther - Death To All But Metal (This is just wonderful for anyone who remembers 80's 'hair metal'. Takes pastiche to a new level. )
15. Echo and the Bunnymen - I Think I Need it Too ( did someone say return to form?)
16. Kings of Leon – Use Somebody (KoL have really struck a chord on these shores this last year, and songs like this demonstrate why)
17. Bat For Lashes – Daniel (Crept up on me a bit this one. Just a beautiful song)
18. Paramore – Ignorance ( A bit Avril, but good all the same)
19. The Duckworth Lewis Method - Meeting Mr Miandad ( …in a VW Campervan …)
20. Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream (and long may he keep on working)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ingrid Michaelson @ Scala, London, 23/11/2009

This was the second time Jen and I had seen Miss Michaelson this year. Things this time did not get off to a good start as we made the cardinal error of leaving the pub too early to go to the Venue. Schoolboy error really. We hung our heads in shame. The problem was that the ticket said ‘Doors 7pm’. Now we took this to mean the doors of the venue would open then, and not that the remaining members of the band The Doors would be onstage riding a storm at 7pm.

As I was interested in catching some of the support act – Greg Laswell, we left the pub just after 7.30 and walked to the venue. We were there by 7.40. Unfortunately there was a queue. A LARGE queue. [For those familiar with the venue and the area it was around the block and up almost as far as the Water Rats Theatre. No, really.] I think the last time I was in a queue this long was back in Glasgow when the Apollo was still open – quite a while ago.

As a result it was 8:20ish before we made it into the venue, by which time Greg Laswell was already into his set. Thankfully this is where things started to pick up

Mr Laswell (who can also be caught at The Slaughtered Lamb this evening (Weds 25th) -I’m annoyed I already have plans or would have gone along ) soon had all thought of standing outside for 40 minutes banished with his dry wit and his upbeat songs with sad lyrics (his own description of his work), an approach highlighted perfectly by his slow mournful piano backed rendition of the Cyndi Lauper classic – ‘Girls Just Want to have Fun.’(There was also a cover of one of my favourite Kate Bush songs – ‘This Woman’s Work’). I also liked that he has a song that last around a minute, as he just thought it was complete with just one verse and the chorus. Godd man. We need more of this kind of thing! The song is called ‘Sweet Dream.’

A good first course, and an artist well worth checking out if you get the chance.

And then it was time for the main course and Ingrid, backed once again by trusty guitarist, and back-up singer, Allie Moss. It took about 10 seconds to decide that crowd participation was needed from the word go as they launched into Die Alone.

This set up the tone for the evening with between song banter that featured talk about when to replace your teddy bear, bestiality, and some thoughts on the lyrics of Take That’s ‘Back for Good’ – which followed a mention of her appearing on Radio 2playlist alongside Michael Buble, Robbie Williams, Cheryl Cole (who it turns out recorded a song – Parachute – which Ingrid co-wrote with Marshall Altman on her debut solo album 3 Words).Later in the set she also had to restart the song ’Everybody’ when instead of singing “Happy is the heart that still feels pain/Darkness drains and light will come again” she actually sang ” Happy is the heart that still feels pain/Lightness drains and dark will come again”

The Set included a mix of old and new which included: Breakable, Locked Up, Mountain and the Sea, The Hat, Way I am, The Chain – with the now familiar trick of getting a volunteer from the audience to take on one of the 3 part harmonies. ‘Alison’ did a fine job, Maybe, You and I, Keep Breathing, Be OK, a song about the wonders of Mexican cuisine, and a fun cover of Radiohead’s Creep.

All in all a rather fine gig, although it would also be nice to see her with a full band at some point. Until then, this was more than enough to leave me wanting more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My first podcast

Podcast 1 - Part 1: Album Reviews.

Listen as we tell you what’s to like and not to like with:

Echo and the Bunnymen - Fountain
The Faming Lips - Embryonic
The Editors - In This Light And On This Evening
Shaikira - She Wolf
Kris Kristofferson - Closer to the Bone

Share our views? Let us know at the Come Taste the Band Blog

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Swear that I saw you in Another Blog

A friend and I have started a new blog Come Taste the Band which we hope to use to support our attempts at podcasting - first not very good effort coming soon. [also follow us on Twitter]

We are currently looking for views on the best albums of the decade. If you have any views on what should be the top 10, let us know via email ps.cometastetheband (AT)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun ...

I know I've been lax in not completing this list so more coming in the next week

Lightspeed ahead

Lightspeed Champion (Dev Hynes) has a new album out in Feb 2010 -Life is Sweet! Nice To Meet You. Produced by Ben Allen, who is known for his work with Animal Collective and Gnarls Barkley, it draws from a broad range of influences, including “joltingly 70’s guitar and synth sounds, classical piano, Serge Gainsbourg, Greek choruses shouting reprisals, [and] Todd Rundgren.”

Meanwhile the delectable Susanna Hoffs reveals some todd on her ipod/phone – iPod Shuffle

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pop Life

My girlfriend's sister, Linda, who is Librarian/Library Manager at Peckham Library in London, now has a music video claim to fame. Around 1min and 20 seconds into this Newton Faulkner video for his new single - Over and Out , Linda is seen in the library serving Newton, and showing some good back acting action.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Veronicas @ Koko, London 24/09/2009

Last night I got the pleasure of catching twins Jess and Lisa Origliasso (aka The Veronicas) live. The Australian pop duo had returned to UK shores to play a couple of dates this week in support of their last album finally getting an official UK release (next month).

Making the, perhaps, unusual move of kicking off their 70min set with their recent (and first UK hit) 'Untouched', the girls and their band launched into an entertaining set showcasing some of the stronger material from their two albums to date. The heavy keyboard presence from the albums is eschewed in favour of a more straight ahead rock delivery live with the girls backed by a band featuring guitar, bass and drums (with Jess providing back up guitars where needed).

The set rattled along and was broken up nicely by a 3 song acoustic based section in the middle of the set featuring, 'Don't Say Goodbye' 'This Love' and 'Heavily Broken'. Set highlights? For me 'This Love', 'Everything I'm Not', 'Untouched' and their wonderful cover of Tracey Bohham's 'Mother Mother' [If you're not aware of TB's work, I'd recommend both The Burdens of Being Upright , and Down Here as albums of hers you should check out].

Jess and Lisa both have good stage presence, and are both – from a male standpoint, at least – very easy on the eye. The band too, look the part, and their drummer is certainly not short of energy.

If the band are still missing that special something that would lift them from being a good live band to being a great life band, it still doesn't stop you from finding a smile on your face whilst you're considering the idea; and I ,for one, would and will be more than happy to part with my money to see the girls again when next they grace our shores [Note to Jess and Lisa: Any chance at all of doing 'In Another Life' live next time, PLEASE??]

So, if you enjoy your pop/rock, light and energetic, then you'd find a lot to enjoy in the Veronicas.

Set List ( roughly remembered, so prosbable mistakes!)

?? (my mind is sadly blank as to what the second track was! – was it When it All Falls Apart ?, or I am just trying to convince myself they played that?)
Take me on the Floor
Mouth Shut
Don't Say Goodbye
This Love
Heavily Broken
Mother Mother
Revenge is Sweeter
Everything I'm Not
Hook me Up
This is How it Feels

(May have missed one other track in there somewhere too) - The Clips were not filmed by me, I might ad!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marvin and Marvin

The Live from Daryl's (Daryl Hall) House featuring Todd is now up and it ir really rather fine. Wonderful stuff.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Hold Steady @02 Academy, Islington, London 10/09/2009

Almost ten months since I last saw the guys, but it was great to get to see them in a smaller venue again. Hot as hell, but hey. What's more we got a few new songs dropped into the set,including one that name dropped 'Utopia' and 'Love in the Answer'. Yes, THS mention Todd!

New tunes fitted in well. Nothing outstanding on first listen ('Going on a Hike'? embedded below, as recorded by someone at gig) but solid stuff.

Craig's singing was not his best this time around, but the overall sound of the band more than made up for this, with the mix getting the right balance between the instruments.

Not much more to say to be honest. Highlights? (beside the Utopia mention): - Multitude Of Casualties, Slapped Actress and Stuck Between Stations.

Set list - Not in order and I may have misremembered some. One thing I can say was there was no room in set for Chips Ahoy, Lord, I'm Discouraged, or Ask her for Adderall.

Constructive Summer
Sequestered in Memphis
The Swish
Stevie Nix
You Can Make Him Like You
Stuck Between Stations
Stay Positive
Slapped Actress
How a Resurrection Really Feels
Certain Songs
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
First Night
Multitude Of Casualties
Same Kooks
Massive Nights
Killer Parties

New Tunes?
Going on a Hike ?
Separate Vacations ?
Our Whole Lives ?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I write about music a lot, but my secret is that I have been know to write things every now and again. After ot of the harranging by a couple of friends I've posted a couple of rough demos of songs I have wrote - maybe more to come from the back catalogue, if I force myself to sit down and do so.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

JGirls Just Wanna Have Fun - Part II - 11-20

Hole – Live Through This.
JR asked on the comment to part one of this list if Hole's Celebrity Skin was going to make an appearance. It almost did, as I think it is a underrated record, and I probably listen to the title track more than any other Hole song. However, if we turn back the clock further. Kurt's dead, Courtney's alive. She's annoying, she can't really sing very well, and despite all this, she produces LTT, which remains is a superb rock record.

Download: Miss World, Doll Parts

Pat Benatar – Precious Time
For a good many years female pop/rock essentially meant Pat. There are several albums you could pick, but Precious Time is one I bought on a trip to Birmingham with my mom when I was about 12. I loved it then, and still love it now. All the elements that made Benatar great are on this album – the pop fun of 'Take It Any Way You Want It', Slow building rocker, 'Promises in the Dark', and overloooked surprise - 'Evil Genius'. Also, I must say a word for Benatar's husband, and guitarist, Neil Giraldo. He always looked a bit of a cock in her early videos and live shows but I have always thought him a hugely underrated guitarist. He is a guitarist who never does more than the song needs and is very adept and adding in little flourishes in the background of songs that help lift the music.

Download: Precious Time , Evil Genius,

Suzanne Vega – Suzanne Vega
Apparently - whilst admitting that it remains a firm favourite amongst her fans – Vega herself is not really a fan of this album. I still think it contains some of her best work.

Download: The Queen and the Soldier , Small Blue Thing

Giant Dragg – Hearts and Unicorns

Can't recall I how came across this band, but I know I was worried it was just another 'White Stripes'. Nothing against the WS, but the pure indie sound created by singer/guitarist Annie Hardy and drummer/keyboard planner Micah, had me buying copies of the album for birthday presents for people. The fact the album's opening track, 'Kevin is Gay' reminded me of My Bloody Valentine probably helped too. Then their live gig at the Borderline was awesome. The world looked bright. Stars were born. Sadly since then various problems with illness, break ups, being dropped by record company and the like have meant that a follow up album has yet to materialise – although currently asking fans to help finance the new album via their website, and Micah is back in the fold once more.

Download: This Isn't It, Kevin is Gay

Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat

Sadly most people in the UK only know Jennifer Warnes for singing 'Up where we belong' with Joe Cocker and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", with Bill Medley from 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and 'Dirty Dancing' respectively. When not doing this, she has recorded a handful of wonderful albums (even managing to cover Todd along the way). But as good as many of these were it is this album of Leonard Cohen covers which is the one you should own. Cohen is having a bit of a revival, esp in the UK at the moment, so now's a good time to grab a copy. One of my fav albums.

Download: First We Take Manhattan (also features Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar), Famous Blue Raincoat

Jill Sobule – Things Here are Different

Whilst I am sure I would have eventually discovered Jill, it was the fact that Todd has produced this that made me seek it on release. A pleasant surprise it turned out to be too. Restrained production from Todd, and some wonderfully crafted songs, form an artist who continues to make good music.

Download: Tell me your Dreams

The Pretenders – The Pretenders.

One of the great debut albums. A seminal british band in fact. People often forget that Hynde was the only non-brit in the original 4 piece. What made them good was that Chrissie Hynde came across as a tough woman who could more than hold her own with any man, no matter the challenge, and coupled with a great song writing ability that seemed to take punk and distil it into a smoother form of rock. This album contains the excellent Brass in Pocket, Stop Your Sobbing (written by Ray Davies – who would later have a relationship and child with Hynde), Kid, and Private Life.

Download: Brass in Pocket, Private Life

Cowboy Junkies – Trinity Sessions

If you haven't ever heard the version of the Velvet Underground's 'Sweet Jane' of this album, then prepare to be amazed. Lou Reed thinks it's the way the song should sound. There is a great atmosphere about the rest of the album too.

Download: Sweet Jane

Garbage – Garbage

I think Steve Lamaq and Jo Whiley were responsible for my first hearing Garbage, back in the day when they used to do an evening stint on Radio one. The song they played was Vow, and I instantly feel in love with it. They played it again a few days later and I managed to record most of it. I then wore the tape out. I'm not sure what it was but that mix of that polished industrial rock with production wizardry (from Butch Vig fresh from Nivana duties) and Shirley Manson's voice just worked for me. It still does, and Vow remains my favourite track by the band. But the album had more. It had the pop-tastic 'Only Happy When It Rains', the dark 'Queer' and the gentle, sleepy 'Milk'.

Download: Vow

Belly - Star

Tanya Donnelly had already been in the Throwing Muses and The Breeders by the time she got around to Belly. Eseentially if you were a Breeders fan then Belly were more of the same. This was not a bad thing

Download: Feed the Tree, Gepetto

Friday, July 24, 2009

Girls just wanna have fun 1-10

Back in May 2006, I did a post that was 101 tracks - classic tracks - that don't get played endlessly on the radio, MTV, and the like, but in my mind should do.

Anyway, I decided it was about time for another list, so I give you Scott's Guide to 99 albums you should own by female artists/fronted bands. I have allowed only one album per artist/band, so there could be 99 new people to add to your collection.

Anyway here is part one. 1-10

Curve – Doppelgänger.

Long before Garbage there was Curve. The pairing of Dean Garcia and Toni Holiday were an indie boy dream, and I must admit I had a major crush on Toni Halliday around the time this album came out. Later outings never really matched the quality and consistency of the material on this debut record.
Download: Fait Accompli

PJ Harvey – Dry.

Could almost be called Raw. This was my introduction – via John Peel – to Polly Harvey, and I loved its stripped down sound and the pain, anger and simplicity of it.
Download: Sheela-na-gig / Oh my Lover

Nanci Griffith – Little Love Affairs.

Nanci is a bit of a pixie, and has been accused of writing mills and boon style country music. I think this is unfair and this album was a great showcase of her songwriting skills. Songs about how love often doesn't work out, but that optimism remains.
Download: I Wish it Would Rain / Outbound Plane

Lucinda Williams – Essence

If you haven't fallen in love with this album after the way Lucinda says 'baby, sweet baby' on the title track, you obviously have no musical taste. A great song writer with a voice like she gargles with sandpaper.
Download: Essence / Out of Touch

Scandal featuring Patty Smyth – Warrior.

Mrs McEnroe used to know how to rock – in fact Eddie Van halen once approached her with the serious proposition of her becoming lead singer for VH after Diamond Dave left. Anyway, this remains one of the best pop/rock albums of the 80s.
Downlaod: Warrior / Hands Tied

Carole King – Tapestry.

One of very few 'classic' albums that really deserve the title. Listening to it is like listening to a greatest hits album. All killer, no filler. Download: All of it.

The Swimming Pool Q's - The Swimming Pool Q's.

This band should have been much bigger. Their first album was doing musically what the Pixies then did and got lauded for (check out Big Fat Tractor off debut album 'The Deep End') , and this second album embraced the sound REM would eventually take global. Meloday Maker said the album contained ' "Some of the most compelling rock sounds in all of America.' Didn't help the sales. But don't let that put you off. If you can get hold of this record you'll see Jeff Calder and Anne Richmond Boston wrote some fine stuff on this record.
Download: Some New Highway / The Bell Rings

Ruby – Salt Peter

Ruby consisted of singer Lesley Rankine (who had previously been fronting hard rock band Silverfish) and producer Mark Walk (ex-Pigface). The album took Rankine's vocal power, added in some trip-hop beats (it was in thing at the time) and came up with a surprisingly durable record.
Download: Paraffin / Hoops

'Til Tuesday – Everything's Different Now

Before Aimee Mann went solo she spent a number of years fronting 'Til Tuesday. EDN was their final and probably best album and lyrically much of it was influence by the end of her relationship with Jules Shear (who co-wrote the title track with Matthew Sweet), and who gets his own song 'J for Jules'. Elswhere one Declan McManus makes an appearance on a song that still occasionally makes an appearance in Mann's live set.
Download: Other End of the Telescope / RIP in Heaven

Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville.

I was half tempted to choice her eponymous 'major label pop album (sorry, but I really like it), but Exile has always been to album closest to my heart. Very lo-fi and I really do never tire of hearing 'Never Said'. Also it was re-issued last year, so you have no excuse for not owning it.
Download : Never Said / Fuck & Run

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Latest TR News

Todd will be appearing on 'Live From Daryl's House' Daryl Hall's online TV jamming show. It is apparently being taped tomorrow - on my Dad's birthday, July 8 - but wont go up on the web until 15th August (just 2 days before my Mom's birthday)

Paste Magazine has an Interview with Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers, where Todd is mentioned.

Paste: What are some of your favorite tracks on Murdering Oscar?
Hood: I like the title cut, and “Pollyanna” which I think will probably be the single. [But] I might be too close to it to even pick. [The album is] pretty concise; it’s like 45-minutes long. I really just like the back and forth of the points of view—I love dualities, and a little whiplash. And I cover a Todd Rundgren song on it [“The Range War”]. Before I made [the record], I referred to it as my Todd Rundgren project. My vision was to make this kind of attempt at a Something/Anything? kind of thing, but it’s not at all. Even the Todd Rundgren song on there doesn’t sound remotely like Todd Rundgren. But I’ve been a lifelong fan and he’s been one of my favorites forever—or at least, the albums of his that I like are among my favorite records ever made, I’ll put it that way. Something/Anything? is probably my all-time favorite record, and 90 percent of his catalog I can’t listen to, but I love that record and I love a handful of songs off of other ones. So that was definitely an influence even if it doesn’t really sound like it. My voice—I mean, I couldn’t sing any less like him.

Elsewhere, Todd has been talking about the AWATS dates and how, whilst every effort will be made to recreate the sound of the album live, he may mess with the order of the album. In the Detroit Metro Times, Todd said: "While I haven't locked my approach down yet, I think it's likely that the running order may be different than the original. A Wizard, A True Star was made when all long-players had to be split into sides, and I think the concept may actually be improved a bit with a little reordering."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Music Weekly and Todd

Guardian Music Weekly's podcast 'Feature With No Name' section this week has the Observer's Paul Simon waxing lyrical about just why he and you should love Todd.

He identifies 3 types of Todd: -

Pop/Ballad Todd
Rock Todd
Prog Rock Todd

Give him a go, see the light :-)

Todd @ Norwegian Wood 2009

Todd played the Norwegian Wood Festival in Norway this year. Norwegian TV recorded it, and Todd's whole set is here

The Pretenders were also there this year, and their set is here

Also, Paramore's set from last year isn't bad - it is here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

electrocuting elvis

An ex work-mate now. All hail Nick Elverston (the guy on bass) I do like this, and YES, it was a while ago!


Ok, my friend Mats has been recording some music, and you know what, it aint bad at all. Check him out at Myspace, and get a taste below.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Best Singles of 2009 - half year view

As we approach the halfway point in the year, it si time to look at the best singles and albums of 2009, thus far. Singles this week. So in no particular order and just down to what I can remember ...

Top 20 Singles

1. La Roux –In for the Kill
2. La Roux - Bulletproof
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero
5. Taylor Swift – Love Story
6. Kelly Clarkson – I don't hook up
7. The Veronicas – Untouched
8. The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
9. Florence & The Machine – Rabbitt Heart
10. Depeche Mode – Wrong
11. The Decemberists - The Rake’s Song
12. Bonnie “Prince” Billy - I Am Goodbye
13. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc
14. Steel Panther - Death To All But Metal
15. Peaches – Talk to Me
16. Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
17. Bat For Lashes – Daniel
18. Lily Allen – It's Not Fair
19. Seether – Careless Whisper
20. Bruce Springsteen – Working on a Dream

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fishbone @ 02 Academy, Islington 05/06/09

It has been a while since I last saw Fishbone, and a couple of years ago I would have been unsure as to whether the band could still cut it, after a couple of quite disappointing album releases, but last year's 'Still Stuck in Your Throat' was the best record that had made since 'Reality' in my view (although I do still like the raw rock of 'Monkey').

The first time I saw them - October 1991 (I think?) – at Brixton(?) (one of the best gigs I have ever been to) , they filmed the promo video for the song 'Fight the Youth' off The Reality of my Surroundings album Back then they still have their optimum line up (inc Kendall Jones, JB Bigham, Walter Kibby) but even with the current line up I am pleased to say that Fishbone still know how to put on a show.

Angelo Moore still like to throw himself into the crowd at any and every opportunity (Dre Gipson – a welcome addition on Keys and vocals is also keen), and Angelo still enjoys taking his clothes off, although these days he seems to be avoiding the full strip that occurred back in that 90's gig. Also good to see John 'Norwood' Fisher still plays a mean bass.

The set is a lot more Ska orientated as opposed to Rock orientated back in 1991, but as Fishbone have always been a pretty good Ska band, this is not a problem, and gives us plenty of opportunities to hear Angelo on Sax and John McKnight on Trombone blasting out sounds together, and sounding damn funky. What did they play?

1. Poem Skank
2. Cheyenne Star / Forever Moore
3. The Suffering
4. Everyday Sunshine
5. Ma & Pa
6. Date Rape
7. Deep Inside
8. Bonin' in the Boneyard
9. Behind Closed Doors
10. One Planet People
11. Alcoholic (inc bit of Gary Glitter – Rock n Roll pt II)
12. Subliminal Fascism
13. Let Dem Ho's Fight
14. Party At Ground Zero


15. Chim Chim's Badass Revenge
16. Give it Up
17. Freddie's Dead

I was disappointed not to hear 'Sunless Saturday' - even more so when I heard that it was on the set list [just not played] Of what they did play, my personal highlights were: Ma & Pa, Bonin' in the Boneyard, Behind Closed Doors, Subliminal Fascism, Let Dem Ho's Fight, and Freddie's Dead.

Great to see the band again and reminded me of what a fine live act they are, and that I must make sure that I am here next time around too.

Alcoholic /Subliminal Fascism / Let Dem Ho's Fight

Todd - AWATS

Been a bit slow in mentioning that I have tickets for Todd doing this in London next Feb. LONG way off, but looking forward to seeing if he can pull performing one of the bext albums of the 70s live.

Veronicas - Hook me up

I first heard of Australian duo, The Veronicas at the end of last year, when I caught a few seconds of the title track of their current album. It stuck in my head, but the band's name didn't until the beginning of this year when I remembered and downloaded the album. I then forgot about it again, until a month ago, when I decided to give it a spin, and found that I loved it.

The band comprise Lisa and Jess Origliasso, 22 year old identical twin sisters. Their debut album was a pop/rock affair in the style of Avril lavigne /Ashlee Simpson et al. Whilst it showed hints of the twins' ability to pen catchy pop tunes it never really delivered on its initial promise. Move forward a few years and they have now delivered that promise in Spades with 'Hook Me Up' – a collection of infectious 80s influenced (Flashdance, Boys of summer as well as nods to Prince/Shelia E) synth pop/rock tunes.

The Video for Hook me up , with the whole schoolgirl uniform thing going on reminds you of Britney and Russian pair, taTu – the later is somehow appropriate as the girls had a hand in writing a hit for the Russians. On this album the girls have a hand in writing all but two of the songs on the album (excluding bonus track)

They are involved in co-writing all but 2 songs on the album, and Billy Steinberg (a man responsible for writing or co-writing songs such as Like a Virgin, True Colours, Alone, Precious Time, Eternal Flame, I Touch Myself, I'll Stand By You) also lends a hand to two tracks.

The album has been out elsewhere for between 1-2 years and is only just getting a UK release, but I predict that it will do big business in the UK, where the 80s and 80s come-back tours – Kajagoogoo, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, ABC, Human League etc – are back in vogue. Add to that the like of Little Boots and La Roux leading to new wave of 80s synth pop, and it could not be a better time for the Veronicas.

Highlights of the album: Current single, 'Untouched', Yazoo verse sounding 'This Love', solid pop/rock ballad, 'Someone Wake me up', and album closer, and slow builder, 'In Another Life'.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"Todd's fucking great"

David Johansen explains to Pop Matters why the New York Dolls reunited with Todd Rundgren to make their new album. He also explains why they are happy with the results: "You go [into the studio] and play the songs and go back into the other room and listen to them on these little speakers and you think, 'Okay, that's a good song.' But then [Todd] gets finished mixing the thing and you're like, 'Oh man. That sounds great.' So I don't know how he does it, but he's got ears where he can hone in on each instrument and, whatever you call it, tweak it to make it sound distinct from all the other sounds and it comes out really great."

Taylor Swift @ Shepherd's Bush Empire 06/05/09

It's not very often I go to gigs and feel like an old man, but last night was certainly one of them. The majority of those present for Miss Swift's second visit to the UK were teenage girls, who all came armed with the kind of photographic memory knowledge of all the lyrics you have at that age, and with that ability to cheer/scream at the same time. Kind of what you'd have expected a Spice Girls audience to have been like.

By the time Swift had left the stage after her encore all said girls were going home happy. She may be the biggest selling artist in the US over the past 18 months, and that doesn't always mean a guarantee of success in the UK, but on the evidence of tonight and the fact of 2 back to back sell out nights at the Empire, it will not be long before Swift is likely to be playing much bigger venues - maybe even Wembley or 02 within the year - the girl is going to be Huge.

The question then is, is she actually any good?

I must confess to thinking her current album 'Fearless' is a pleasant surprise. Yes it is country/pop by numbers to a degree, but there are some good catchy hooks in some of these songs and whilst you could argue her lyrics are a bit twee and girly, I don't think you'd have gotten that opinion from the majority of those at yesterday;s gig who are the target audience for those lyrics. Live, Swift handles things well. Her voice holds up well, and she has a solid band around her to fill out the sound - which is even less country live than it is on record. The band also get to rock out a bit on numbers such as Change and Fearless, which all seem to enjoy.

Live, Swift is an energetic performer who moves around the stage well and has already masters many of the stock rock/pop star poses: pose with acoustic guitar, rock pose with mic stand etc - my companion for the night felt this was all a bit too polished and practiced, although even he had to admit that the girl is destined to go far.

Highlights? hit single 'Love Story' (the song which hooked me on her. Pure fairytale fluff, but catchy as hell), 'You Belong with Me', and 'Change'

Would I go and see her again? probably not, but I'll settle for being one of those annoying peopole who says there were there back when she played smaller venues.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dolls tracks

You can stream the first 6 tracks off the new, Todd produced, New York Dolls album at site.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fail Quietly

Lexington Herald-Leader and spoke to Todd, and asked what was next: 'Another visitation from Rundgren's pop past wrapped in today's headlines, perhaps?'

"I don't know exactly. Liars and Arena, despite being very different records, were pretty close to what I was going for. So I have no complaints there.

"I guess I may run into a wall if I devise some challenge for myself that I can't meet. But I wouldn't let anybody know about it if that happened. I would just fail quietly and then move on to something else."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Decemberists - 'The Hazards of Love'

Whilst the Decemberists have been around for a number of years, and a friend of mine is a big fan, I have to confess - a few tunes aside - they have never really made much of a splash with me. With their fifth album - 'The Hazards of Love' - a 17-track concept album that sort of tells a story about a fair maiden ravished by a shape-shifting demon (no, really) - however, I am suddenly find myself surprisingly won over.

On some levels - like most concept albums - it is utter tosh, but with its repeating musical motifs and reprises, making you quickly think that actually there are only about five actual songs on the album - a clever trick. Like with all good concept albums this makes listening on shuffle not the ideal way to digest this album - especially as their are short 'interlude' pieces joining all the songs too.

Added to all this the fact that the band seem to have a love for early 70's British folk/prog/heavy metal and this walks right up my street - and will no doubt also cause many others to run away down that street as fast as humanly possible - including some The Decembrists fans I'd hazard a guess. Still, you just try and not sing along to 'The Wanting Comes in Waves' after they've smacked you over the head with it several times during the course of the album. Other highlights for me, the heavy rock of 'The Queens Rebuke', the mellow folk duet of 'Isn't it a Lovely Night', the four part title track, 'Won't Want for Love' - Oh, sod it, I like it all.

It is an album that reminds me of The Arcade Fire, and in particular, their Funeral album, which for me is not a bad thing at all. In short, I love it, but then again, I still think Kiss - 'Music from the Elder' is a great record - go figure. I will fully understand if you hate it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tracks of my years

This week, Todd has been featured on Ken Bruce's show on BBC Radio 2. The show has a regular feature called Tracks of My Years where people come on and talk about songs that have made an impression on them over the years for whatever reason.

Todd has been on this week talking about why he has chosen the following songs

Monday Monday ~ Mamas And Papas
Wrapped Around Your Finger ~ The Police
Accidents Will Happen ~ Elvis Costello & The Attractions
A House Is Not A Home ~ Dionne Warwick
All The Young Dudes ~ Mott The Hoople
Hyperactive ~ Thomas Dolby
Wouldn’t It Be Nice ~ The Beach Boys
Beds Are Burning ~ Midnight Oil
Tired Of Waiting ~ The Kinks
Itchycoo Park ~ The Small Faces

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nell Bryden / Tom Mckean & The Emperors @ Monto Water Rats 09/02/2009

One on my favourite discoveries of last year were the band Tom McKean & the Emperors. Managed to catch them 4 or 5 times in 2008, and last night provided the first opportunity to catch them in 2009 - fresh from recording thier debut album in Texas. I was a little disappointed that they were not going to be out on their own, but would instead be supporting Nell Bryden , but figued I'd go along anyway.

It was great to have the band back and once again they delivered at great set, including - what are now firm fan favourites: 'This is the Year'; 'A Little Something'; and the Jolie Holland Classic 'Old Fashioned Morphine', in addition to some newer songs, that were either getting their first outing or their first outling in a while. I'm looking forward to the album coming out. Should be a good one.

Now, Di and I had gone along to this just to see Tom and the Boys, and only I had even bothered to check out Nell Bryden's work. I had listened to a few track on her Myspace site, and felt quite indifferent to them if I am honest. As a result it was more surprising to witness just what a tour-de-force Bryden and her band are live - I was completely and utterly blown away by her set - I am already confident that this is a performance good enough to at least make my top 10 at the end of this year.

Musically Bryden encompaces (in the words of her own website) a 'graceful blend of blues, country / modern Dixie and jazz ... drawing influences from Ryan Adams and Bob Dylan through to soul divas such as Nina Simone and Bonnie Raitt.' This is true, and then some. She has an old style female country star swagger, a cracking voice and a rocking band. This all brings songs such as 'Late night call', 'Tonight' and the wonderful 'Goodbye' come to life. I spent and hour smiling and enjoying.

As a side note, Nell was kind enough to stop to say hello after the gig, where I shared my 'not that impressed to converted fan' road to damascus moment. I can report that she seemed like a lovely and friendly person too - she seemed keen to hook up with Tom and Co again if their paths crossed. I will certainly be making an effort to catch her live again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream

It's tempting to say that Bruce should have worked a bit harder on that dream, as his new album whilst perfectly fine, lacks - dare I say it - a certain 'magic'.

The problem with the album is unfortunately highlighted by the decision to include a couple of bonus tracks - one of which 'The Wrestler' ( from the film of the same name) is so street ahead quality-wise of anything else on the album it is worrying. Now, I should clarify, that I think this song ranks up there with Springsteen's best, so I am not dismissing out of hand the quality of the rest of the record, some of which I like a great deal: "What Love can do", My Lucky Day”, “Working On a Dream”, and "Life Itself", for example; but it is hard to come away from this record not feeling slightly disappointed.

I need to give a quick mention to the first track - Outlaw Pete. Now, it is perfectly ok, but every time it starts I have a blend of the Rolling Stone's - 'Paint it Black', and Kiss' - 'I was made for loving you' pop into my head, which is frankly a bit odd.

So, a good record that will get many a spin this year, but one - with the exception of 'The Wrestler' - that is unlikely to find much space in future set-lists beyond the next tour.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Singles Review

I was sitting earlier with a bit of time to kill so checked out a random selection of new releases/hits fron Virgin's music on demand. Here are my thoughts.

Beck - 'Youthless' : - Not one of my favourite tracks off the latest album (a record that I have come to like a lot in the past few weeks - it should have been in my top 25 for 2008) but still a goood tune.

Cancer Bats – ‘Hail Destroyer’ : - Here’s a band who have listened to too many Slipknot records. Sadly they came away learning nothing on the evidence of this dirge. Shouty vocals.Poor.

Municipal Waste – ' Magician' : - Unlike Cancer Bats, this band not only know their old school thrash/speed metal, but they know that even in this genre a sense of melody is important. Not the greatest record ever, but it’s not bad.

Prodigy – ‘Invaders Must Die’ : - A return to (mostly) instrumental dance rock by the band. They are not doing anything they have not done before, but this is still an enjoyable few minutes, that sets up the new album nicely.

Franz Ferdinand – ‘Ulysses’ : - FF are back with their much vaunted ‘new sound’, which sounds a lot like their old sound to me. Whether you think that is a good or bad thing will depend on whether you liked that sound. I was always a bit indifferent, and so that is how I feel about this.

Katy Perry - 'Thinking of You' : - Lacking the fun of Kissed a Girl, and Hot and Cold, this is just unintersting filler.

Tv on the Radio - 'Dancing Choose' : - I quite like this. Whilst I still think the band are one of many that are over-hyped by the music press (esp in the UK) this is both fun and inventive pop. I like.

Lady Ga Ga - 'Just Dance' - Tipped to be someone you wont be able to escape in 2009, this is good slice of Christina-type pop. The type of song you'll fight humming the chorus too. Not sure about the pointless male prat singing inthe middle of it though.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Single of the Year?

Yes, I know the year is ony a couple of weeks old, but I have spent it with one song continuously going through my head, and it is probably the last kind of thing I would have expected to just have fallen in love with. What is my January guilty pleasure? Taylor Swift - 'Love Story'. I think this came out in the states in October, but it has only just got a release in the UK.

I keep sitting thinking that I should be finding the lyrics twee and so packed full of sugar that it makes me want to throw up - "Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone.I'll be waiting; all there's left to do is run. You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess It's a love story - baby just say 'Yes.' - but every time I hear this song I end up grinning like and idiot and feel happy and uplifted. I may need help.

The track is off Swift's second album - which I believe is perched atop the US album charts, and is set to outsell her debut album, which itself shifted quite a few copies. I have had a listen to the album, and it is a well crafted collection of country pop songs, but Love Story is - for me the stand out track: It just has a great, catchy hook, that all great pop tunes should have.

Oh, and she also happens to be pretty damn sexy too.

Ladies and genglemen I give you Taylor Swift