Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue …

Old …

Walking down Oxford Road this morning my MP3 player plucked Kirsty MacColl’s ‘Innocence’ from the depths and my God if it didn’t feel like a breath of fresh air on that dirty old road. As I said to my friend, I wanted to line dance and cry all at once. The video is here and if you think I can get enough of that banjo you're quite quite wrong.

My first brush with the desperately missed Ms MacColl was watching her do ‘Fifteen Minutes’ on French & Saunders in 1989 or 1990. She was wearing a Happy Mondays T shirt and playing her guitar and it all was so effortless with her smart, convoluted lyrics and typically understated voice, just gorgeous. I had it on video for ages. An act of criminal negligence means nobody has posted that particular performance on youtube or elsewhere, at least I haven’t been able to find it, so here, surprisingly, is Cerys Matthews having really quite a good stab at things (before Jools comes along and honkys all over it of course…)

The lyrics are a poem unto themselves, see here:

Seven times in seven days
I've sat and wished my life away
I know the greyness comes and goes
But the sun don't shine
And the snow don't snow

There's Suzy-Ann with her tits and curls
Where mediocrity excels
For those vicious boys and their boring girls
You know it makes me sick but it's a bozo's world

Then there's always the cash
Selling yourself for some trash
Smiling at people that you cannot stand
You're in demand
Your fifteen minutes start now

City banker looks are in
The heartless heart, the chinless chin
And you'd spill your beans for just a pint of gin
How you got so holy
And became so thin

In Sunday papers every week
The silly words you love to speak
The tacky photos and the phoney smiles
Well it's a bozo's world
And you're a bozo's child

Then there's always the cash
Selling yourself for some trash
Smiling at people that you cannot stand
You're in demand
Your fifteen minutes start now

Then there's always the fame!
Autographs now and again
People who saw you on Blankety Blank
Or in the bank
Your fifteen minutes start now

Warhol and Morrissey could not have said it better. Kirsty was mistress of the re-vamped cover version and sang, to my mind, two of the saddest songs ever recorded, namely ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and ‘Dear John’, which you must never listen to anywhere near a break up.

My favourite Kirsty song of all is the title track from the underrated Titanic Days album (“'Dream on', he says, ‘dream on’ he always says ...”) but I’ll leave you with this classic country ballad. Wry, sad, tough, worn out and fabulous; it’s what she did best.

New …

Now this is interesting. Broken Bells are Brian Burton, whom we know better as Danger Mouse of Grey Album fame (and more of whom later), and James Mercer from The Shins. What could possibly go wrong? Jack shit judging by their first album, click here for Spotify.

It’s an instantly likeable mix of under-your-skin melodics with sad little surprises at every corner, you can even dance to some of it. If you like Cut Copy or Santigold or Hercules and Love Affair you’ll probably like it. Gets better with every listen, go and play it now. Mercer is currently on sabbatical from The Shins, if things keep going this well he might never go back.

Borrowed …

Some people become popstars and some popstars emerge fully-formed from their shells like Venus. Holestar is the second kind of popstar. Her resume sounds like some gorgeous night time butterfly eccentric you’d expect to meet at Billy’s or The Blitz, check it:

“As well as a former solider in the British Army, Holestar is a Central St Martins Fine Art Masters graduate, club promoter, DJ and cabaret artist. With a multitude of performances across Europe, New York, Glastonbury and Loveboxx Festivals, Royal Opera House, ICA, V&A, Vienna’s Life Ball and every London club of note under her belt, Holestar really knows her crowds.

© Adrian Lourie 2010

NyLon Woman, an original electro-pop hands-in-the-air floor shaker, has already been getting audiences jumping. Quite literally. A recent performance of the song at Johnny Woo’s rammed Gay Bingo saw Holestar share the stage with an invasion of trannies whooping and hollering for more.

Holestar’s musical inspiration covers underground disco, early house, ‘80s pop music, British rave and modern electro. Art, comedy and alternative performance also feed her creative juices. Behind two of London’s recent successful club nights (Hot Mess & Lets Get Quizzical) she opens with NyLon Woman to take the party to a wider audience, inviting everyone to raise their hands and dance.”

She’s a girl playing a trannie, it’s like Shakespeare meets downtown New York! 'NyLon Woman' is a fab little ‘lectro gem, listen to it while you can here and be uplifted, the Piers remix especially has me chair dancing while I'm trying to type. Good work.

Blue …

The first Sparklehorse song I heard was back in 1998 and was called ‘Hundreds Of Sparrows’ and it sounded like this …

I sort of skipped over them in my hurry to get to Elliott Smith. Mark Linkous and Smith had a lot in common as songwriters, and now they have one more thing in common because Mark Linkous has sadly, very sadly, killed himself.

As with Elliott there is some un(officially)released material that Linkous recorded with Brian Burton and David Lynch and a host of other quality musos, read about it here.

I’ve been listening to the first album, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot and there are little refrains that I remember from years without listening to it, they are such beautifully crafted songs. It’s a terrible loss. God bless you Mark.


Anonymous said...

Elliott Smith probably did not kill himself, I know what I am talking about.

Gregling said...

How mysterious, but not very enlightening. What they have in common is they have both died, not necessarily that they did it themselves, the sentence is open. Like Smith's coroner's verdict.

aline said...

nice musics, nice vision of cities.
nice blog, for me, in brazil.