• Favourites 2009

    Gen 10 2010, 15:58

  • Favourites 2008

    Dic 20 2008, 10:33

    1 Shearwater - Rook
    Lyrical, epic but not pompous, and with a hairy-arsed drummer called Thor.
    Almost fell out of love with it when a friend's wife noted the similarity
    to Chris de Burgh, but not quite.

    2 Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
    Came back to this again and again all year. There's just something so
    immediate, evocative and a bit fragile about it. Would have been top except
    I downloaded the lyrics, which revealed that all the half-heard words you
    thought held deep significance are actually ponderous shite. One of those
    albums that has more meaning when you don't know what it means.

    3 American Music Club - The Golden Age
    Sad to see rhythm section Danny Pearson and Tim Mooney go but even if this was a more gentle, autumnal AMC, it was full of goosebump moments and Mark Eitzel wisdom.

    4 My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
    Wilfully stubborn and sounding like twelve different bands, but most of them
    are great bands. Song of the year in Librarian.

    5 Hello Saferide - More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide
    I sometimes think me and Last FM buddies Girvan and DailymountRoar Michael O'Hara might be the only people in the world who like her (and DasilymountRoar's probably gone off her by now cos she looked at him funny at a gig or something) but this is songwriting genius, in her second language by the way. And when words fail her she makes crunchy snow noises (Arjeplog). Brilliant.

    6 Frida Hyvönen - Silence Is Wild
    Only got this last week but it's so good and might have been higher if I'd
    heard it earlier. Sounds like Abba's scary miserable cousin. According to
    iTunes I've played London! forty-eight times since last Friday.

    7 Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
    Like clean bedding, felt fresh, warm and lovely when it came out and
    stickily familiar nine months later, but you keep leaving it on cos it's
    just so comfy. Er, I mean, some people would. My favourite was Blue Ridge Mountains.

    8 Paul Curreri - The Velvet Rut
    Great playing, darker and grittier than earlier albums but with a streak of
    black humour. Highlight is the long, improvised Freestylin' Crost The Pond, nine minutes of feeling sorry for himself cos his wife's away which manages to be late-night drunken bluesy mope, stand-up comedy and political comment all in one, wrapped around a melody that's always about to collapse but never quite does.

    9 Johan Johannsson - Fordlandia
    Only been out a few weeks but this is insanely moving stuff.

    10 Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
    Has turned them into a stadium band and may consequently turn out to be
    goodbye to the intimacy of their best songs like Mirrorball, but this is great, the musical equivalent of a big drunken Mancunian mate throwing his arm round you and telling you you're his best mate and he bloody loves you, he does.
  • Decibels, Little Pills and Figure Skating

    Feb 7 2008, 10:58

    Wed 6 Feb – American Music Club, Bee and Flower

    Simply put: one of the best American Music Club shows I've seen.

    Packed venue, warm atmosphere and the band really hit stride - it felt like a group rather than Mark Eitzel and Vudi plus two new guys. Sean and Steve constantly undercut Mark's apologies and defensiveness - when he introduced All My Love with a typical 'I force the rest of the band to play this, they hate it, they think it's so corny', S+S piped up 'that's not true!' and Eitzel had to just grin sheepishly and get on with the song. When he started on another similar rant about how the others all just tolerated his bad behaviour, Sean interrupted to remind him that he chose to spend Christmas Day with Eitzel: 'We watched figure skating'.

    Mark was upbeat and funny throughout but with a touch of typical Eitzel craziness: most noticeably when, two songs after a brilliant reading of
    Western Sky, he returned to do a solo version, possibly having forgotten he'd already played it. I think he was about to do a different song but then someone shouted 'I want
    Western Sky' and Mark told him he was going to 'get Western Sky all the way up his ass'.

    Both takes were amazing. I love how this song keeps reinventing itself - the band version is now a vaguely Ennio Morricone-esque epic, and the solo version was blistering and could have been lifted directly from Songs of Love Live.

    Other highlights: Vudi adding impatient ambient backing to Mark's long spoken intros; a furious take on Home; Decibels And The Little Pills coming together, which it hasn't at the other gigs I've seen, to sound like classic AMC; Wish The World Away sounding as unhinged and raw as it should have done on record; and introducing Windows on the World as 'a Yes song, from Tales Of Topographic Oceans'. I'm not sure now why that was funny but it was.

    A mate who likes AMC enough to have seen them a few times but isn't a massive fan told us he'd almost not come, but he was grinning away at the end. 'That was the best I've ever seen them,' he said, 'it was great because he's happy, isn't he?'

    You have to agree.
  • All the Lost Souls welcome you to Kilburn High Road

    Ott 17 2007, 8:15

    Sun 14 Oct – Mark Eitzel

    Mark Eitzel has had better gigs, but he's definitely had worse ones (stomping off stage three songs in, throwing his guitar in the air only for it to land on his head, and leaving the stage pursued by angry security guards are three I've witnessed). If tonight was lacking some of the fire of his very best performances then it was made up for by a warm atmosphere and an upbeat line in banter - telling unrepeatable Michael Jackson jokes and cheerfully recalling a meeting with a vet who wouldn't wear a wristwatch because of where he had to put his forearm.

    Eitzel was apparently in the country to work on his musical, a project he's referred to frequently in the last couple of years called Marine Parade, set in Brighton. He played at least one song from it, One Day I'll Be Old, and this and other new material like All the lost souls were the highlights for me. Hearing an Eitzel lyric for the first time always reminds me why I love him: his ability to knock you off your feet with a line - wondering what happened to the last two years which 'melted away like ice on my tongue' in the beautiful Spinning, for instance. Actually, I've heard recorded versions of that song in which he wonders what's happened to the last twenty years - perhaps the amount of years he wants back each night is a gauge of how jolly he's feeling.

    Inevitably it was the American Music Club classics that went down the best - Patriot's Heart was hit for six as usual, Johnny Mathis' Feet was a bit half-arsed, Another Morning was introduced and started but he couldn't get the tuning right so he packed it in without singing a line, Myopic Books got big laughs, which made me wonder how large a portion of the audience were hearing it for the first time. I reckon many haven't kept up with Eitzel's recent stuff - a pity as he's still writing songs today that could go a round or two with the best of AMC.

    The Luminaire is an excellent venue, by the way - if only more places had big signs saying 'SHUT UP' and telling you to go outside if you want to talk to your pal.

    My mate and I escaped London the next day, just in time, judging by the Evening Standard headline that appeared all around the city: DEADLY SKUNK FLOODS LONDON. Drugs warning or Superman story from the 60s made flesh? We weren't waiting around to find out.
  • Sad Songs

    Lug 1 2007, 10:09

    Fri 29 Jun – Lou Reed

    Must disagree with this gig's previous reviewer. Having previously found Lou's live shows to be flabby and self-indulgent, it was a pleasure to see him play a focused set which gave new urgency and bite to Berlin. For me it did exactly what a live interpretation of an album should do - found the little gaps in the recorded versions and painted them in. It made me go back to the songs with fresh perspective the day after.

    Having said that, the encore was pure cheese. While you're always hoping to hear Lou do a couple of classics (and part of the ritual is hearing him slaughter whichever audience member shouts for Walk on the Wild Side), he pissed all over Sweet Jane with an extraneous wibbling guitar intro and allowed his bass player to do the vocals on Satellite of Love in the warbly-voice-equals-good-singing style popularised by Celine Dion. However, the gig needed a lighter mood after the bleakness of the Berlin songs, and we did leave smiling.

    Add to this that we found ourselves sitting next to Mark E. Smith in the pub afterwards and this comes out easily as the most enjoyable Reed gig I've seen.