Brandi Carlile is one of those singer songwriters who have been around for a while, but who haven’t really registered on my radar. She has a new album out called By The Way I Forgive You, and it’s rather good. She sounds a bit like a cross between Maria McKee and Melissa Etheridge, with the best aspects of both, and it’s quite hard to pigeonhole what she does – part folk, part country, part rock, with some songs unexpectedly backed by full strings. Any fans on here?
Much beloved around these parts, Gretchen Peters’ new one Dancing With The Beast is out in May. This track bodes very well indeed for more of the classy singer songwriterliness that we have come to expect.
What does it sound like?:
When Laura Veirs’ first major label album Carbon Glacier came out in 2004 I hated it. It was spare, quirky, lacking in decent tunes and willfully difficult – or so I thought. 14 years on and it’s one of my favourite albums of the noughties. Since then Laura Veirs has released four albums of her particular brand of neo-folk, a collection of children’s songs Tumble Bee, has played a leading role in the Case / Lang / Veirs project, and this her fifth solo album of original material. Only 2013’s Warp & Weft diverged from the familiar sound, being a much more electric guitar based prospect. The Lookout is largely acoustic, cool, calm, tuneful and features Veirs’ slightly detached and effortless vocal style. It’s immensely soothing, reassuring, and seems perfectly pitched for these chaotic and frightening times. It would be easy to dismiss Laura Veirs as bland – she comes on a bit like a female Josh Rouse, but like him she redeems herself with great tunes. This is also optimistic music, perhaps at odds with the times, and as such the perfect antidote. The music is largely spare; there’s not an unnecessary piano » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
When Lord Huron’s second album Strange Trails was released in 2015 the band revealed that they had converted their studio into a mock-up of the Red Room from Twin Peaks, and many of the songs featured wouldn’t have been out of place as part of the soundtrack to that glorious TV series. Vide Noir (‘black void’) expands the premise from the weird and earthly into outer space. The shimmering guitars and reverb are still there, but the sound has been beefed up considerably. It’s a gamble that pays off well – Ancient Names (Parts I and II) in particular benefiting from a much chunkier approach. It’s a sort of concept album with a loose intergalactic theme pulling together songs like Lost In Time And Space, Back From The Edge and Moonbeam; some of it works well, some less so, but there are plenty of decent songs to keep the album afloat. The band sound a bit like Fleet Foxes on steroids, and they haven’t quite thrown off that David Lynch obsession – Wait By The River sounds like a reverby doo-wop song that Audrey Horne might have danced to in the Double R diner. » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
The Felice Brothers and Simone Felice have released a number of EPs of rarities and live material over the years, characterised by lo-fi and minimalist instrumentation, focusing on the lyrics, vocals and bare bones of the songs. The Projector, Simone Felice’s third solo release is very much in that tradition, and boy is it good. Featuring 9 songs and one spoken word poem, its sparse and spacey musicality contains splashes of guitar that sound like they have been strummed in empty rooms; there are rumbles of drums, plaintive bursts of accordian, and all sorts of other echoey sounds underpinning this fabulous record. Simone Felice is in fine voice, croaking and crooning out lyrics about the lost and dispossesed, and these are songs held together by a strong poetic sensibility – ‘I used to pull a crowd / Pull the shade / Pull the coroner’s sheet over the mess that we made / There’s figures moving in the shadows / I got my hand on a blade / They say it’s wise to pick your battles / In the old crying game / When it’s pouring rain’. (Your Hands). Spoken word poems chucked onto albums » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
I love Calexico me, but I can’t ever recall reading much about them on here – not an AW friendly outfit maybe? Too Americana? Too Mexicana? New album The Thread That Keeps Us to the untutored ear might sound like more of the same – no bad thing if your ear is attuned to Calexico in the first place. But there are subtle changes – less emphasis on the Mariachi trumpets and dusty tumbleweed strewn soundscapes that the band have pretty much made their instantly recognisable signature. The envelope has been pushed a little into new directions, with an updated sound and different rhythms underpinning many of the tracks. But the core members of Joey Burns and John Convertino are still there, and this is still a record that couldn’t have been made by any other band. A 10/10 rating in The Independent reflects the fact that not only is this a fabulous album, but that Calexico haven’t entirely lost their freshness after 10 studio albums.
What does it all *mean*?
Probably that Calexico ought to more highly rated than they are. From Feast Of Wire onwards they have produced a slew of excellent » Continue Reading.
Old Neil’s been at it again. Not content with giving us one of his classic unreleased albums this year, he’s felt the need to top it off with The Visitor, out on 1st December, and probably Neil’s 475th album. Trouble is – and perhaps not entirely surprisingly – the first single, Already Great, doesn’t live up to its billing. It features Promise Of The Real coming on all bar band, but the tune is unbelievably turgid and uninspired, and as for the lyrics – “I’m Canadian by the way, and I love the USA…….. you’re the promised land, you’re the helping hand….” Get the picture? Whether this is irony or just another example of Neil’s terminal decline and lack of quality control is anyone’s guess. Frankly, I couldn’t bear to hear the whole song in order to find out. And yet he keeps churning them out, each one worse than the last; destroying his reputation bit by bit. What’s to do? Who knows, but the man at Reprise must be impatiently looking at his watch, and waiting to close the door behind him.
In a nice touch / crass bad taste* it appears that t-shirts bearing a ‘nil desperandum’ message were made available to guests at Tom Petty’s recent funeral. Which made me think about rock star funerals – share your examples of good or bad taste, subtlety or excess at the final journeys of our dearly departed friends.
* delete as applicable
I have an Apple iPhone and an iPad Air 2 that I use all the time. However, I am a dyed in the wool Windows PC user, and much against my better judgement, Mrs Bungliemutt has persuaded me that we should invest in an iMac. Already, it’s irritating the hell out of me with its unfriendly, non-Windows-like quirks. Little details like the inability to sort bookmarks into alphabetical order in Safari – so much so that I’ve already switched back to using Firefox – the fact that the keyboard has no ‘end’ or ‘delete’ keys which means you have to position the cursor with the mouse in order to backtab delete (who the hell thought that was a good idea?), the seeming lack of a right click function to cut and paste, and most irritating of all, I cannot get the hang of where to save files without switching on the bloody iCloud, which means that when you switch it off they’ve all vanished.
Okay, this isn’t exactly rocket level IT knowledge, but I knew my Windows PC like the back of my hand, and found it supremely user friendly. For me, using Windows is like buying hi-fi separates – » Continue Reading.
Winchester Science Centre
Firstly, due to a ‘traffic situation’ on the M3, Thea was late. Secondly, the venue was a little unusual; the planetarium in Winchester Science Centre, but fortuitous as it turned out, as everyone was in reclining seats and treated to a film about the birth of the universe filmed in 360 degrees and projected onto the domed ceiling. When the show started, Thea’s other half Nigel Stonier was the support act, and played half a dozen songs from his recent Love And Work album, either on piano or acoustic guitar. After a short interval the main event finally got under way. Perhaps a little surprisingly there were few songs from Thea’s New album, but plenty of crowd pleasers from across her career, all of them played acoustically. Thea was in exceptionally fine voice, and there was some good banter and interesting introductions to her songs. She ‘shamelessly plugged’ an EP available after the event, which included two fabulous new songs, Willow and The New Tin Drum, plus a rather good cover of Eyes On The Prize. Towards the end Thea’s 10 year old son Egan joined his Mum and Dad onstage and accompanied » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
A natural extension to Lost In The Dream certainly, but The War On Drugs’ new album has been 3 years in the making, and at times it shows it; a little too laboured, a little too much like how you knew it was going to be. But for all that it’s a damn fine album. Adam Granduciel’s songwriting is more honed – these are more like songs in the traditional sense, rather than the meandering soundscapes that have defined earlier work. Washes of synth are balanced with some fine guitar work – it’s kind of obvious when the reverb drenched guitar solos are coming, but it doesn’t really matter when they are this good. Tracks from the album have been available online for a while, but it helps to hear the whole thing in the right order. The centrepiece track, Thinking Of A Place is very long, but top notch, and there are other fine examples here too – Strangest Thing, In Chains, and especially Pain, a song that does exactly what you want it to do at the right moment, unleashing torrents of reverb, but an exercise in restraint too.
What does it » Continue Reading.
Daredevil, stuntman, nemesis of Biddy Baxter, favourite uncle to an entire TV generation, the great John Noakes has passed away from Alzheimer’s at the age of 83. Blue Peter was never as great again after he left it, no line as stylishly fluffed, no pet as much loved as Shep. He is one of the most fondly remembered parts of my childhood – a prankster, a pal, a giant amongst children’s television presenters. RIP John – thanks for being there, and for all the great memories.
So, with less than 12 hours to go before the reboot of Twin Peaks on Sky Atlantic at 2.00 a.m. (or Showtime at 9.00 p.m. if you’re stateside), it’s time to celebrate the kind of music that wouldn’t be out of place in the Double R Diner, or the Red Room at the Black Lodge. Post your twangsome tunes here, preferably with lashings of reverb, or select some dark moody jazz.
I’ll be waiting up to watch it, fortified with damn fine coffee of course. Feel free to join me.
We’ve probably done this before, but are there some performers that you struggle with artistically on account of the general prattishness of their behaviour? I’m not talking about obvious cultivated idiocy – Gallagher brothers anyone? – but something more elusive. Take Father John Misty, aka Josh Tillman for example. His new album Pure Comedy is receiving garlands of praise from all quarters, and is undeniably one of the most accomplished releases of the year so far. Musically it sounds like a post-millennial Elton John for our times, a strange recreation of 70s singer-songwriterly craft. But dig a little deeper and listen closely to the lyrics, and it’s clear that Mr Tillman has issues with just about everything in the modern world, and expresses them in a relentlessly sarcastic sixth form poetry style, the kind of faux profundity that doesn’t really say anything particularly new or profound. After two or three listens I found myself thinking that Pure Comedy is a bloody good album, but that its creator is a bit of a self-regarding twat.
Other opinions are inevitably available.
“I’ll see you again in 25 years……” Now that we have waited that long, the new series of Twin Peaks finally goes to air on Sky Atlantic on Monday 22nd May at 2.00 a.m., the same time as it is broadcast on Showtime in America. The first episode then gets a repeat at the more civilized hour of 9.00 p.m. on Tuesday 23rd May.
Seldom has a television series made such an impact on me as Twin Peaks did back in 1990. It was intelligent, original, daring, funny, moody, scary and impossibly cool. It spawned many imitations, and the smart money would suggest that it changed the face of television drama. David Lynch went on to make movies that were similar in tone and content, most notably Lost Highway and the superlative Mulholland Drive, but he never quite matched Twin Peaks. The original series was flawed – season 2 was spoiled by the network who insisted on revealing the killer earlier than Lynch intended, and the remaining episodes which weren’t directed by Lynch until the finale, were weak in comparison.
The new series promises a huge cast, including most of the originals, some like Warren Frost who sadly died yesterday, » Continue Reading.
Afterword favourite Vera Lynn survived 2016 unscathed and is most definitely not hanging up her geetar just yet. At the fabulous ripe old age of 100, she is just about to release a new album. May the Force(‘s Sweetheart) be with you, Dame V. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38829936
So, if Trump has achieved nothing so far he has at least succeeded in nudging the Doomsday clock an extra 30 seconds closer to oblivion, the closest we have been to the apocalypse since 1953 it seems. Which of course begs two questions: what are your thoughts on our chances of surviving 2017 unscathed, and which song shall we have to play us out?
This one is a little obvious perhaps, but then there’s nothing subtle about armageddon. https://youtu.be/u2UhvN0k74w
Jay Farrar and his band have a new album out in February, which according to pre-release blurb is ‘inspired by the spirit of the blues, but not the blues as we know it’ (Rolling Stone). On first listen to a couple of the new songs, it sounds satisfyingly heavy on crunchy guitar riffs. The spirit of Uncle Tupelo lives on as if the last 23 years (and Wilco) never happened. Sounds like a blinder to these old ears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1aHfWdVDRA
This is not a music post, so look away now if you are not amused by the misfortunes of others, or easily offended at the sound of a middle aged bloke having a rant about incompetence.
Here’s the scenario. Bungliemutt orders Mrs Bungliemutt’s Christmas present online. 3 days later Bungliemutt arrives home from work to find Mrs Bungliemutt’s Christmas present in a puddle, it having been chucked over a 7 foot high gate. Mrs Bungliemutt’s Christmas present broken. Bungliemutt contacts well-known courier company with full tracking details by e-mail to point out the error of their ways (I won’t name them, but they wear winged sandals). Winged-sandalled wearing courier company responds by saying it takes customer service extremely seriously and will take immediate action to resolve the matter.
3 days later a crash is heard in the Bungliemutt back garden. The remains of a bottle and a broken package are discovered, seemingly similar to an online order placed by Mrs Bungliemutt. Mrs Bungliemutt (not one to be trifled with) legs it after winged sandalled courier and accuses him of self-abuse. Courier understandably sheepish, though stops short of apologetic. Bungliemutt contacts courier company (see above for similar scenario of response).
A little heartwarming story that captures the basic decency of folk amid a thoroughly depressing week.
What does it sound like?:
Last year the Truckers released a triple CD live retrospective, which served as a useful summation of recent material – and it was a cracking live album to boot. Studio albums have been a little ho-hum for a while, but American Band is a welcome exception. The band’s creativity seems fired up by a desire to make sense of the current state of the nation, and American Band is full of sharp lyrics and great tunes. Not that the Truckers haven’t done politics before, but they’ve tended to focus on the legacy of the ‘southern thing’, whereas American Band deals head on with issues like gun culture and what main man Patterson Hood calls the ‘new duality of America’ – the progressive liberalism of the cities compared with the deep conservatism and prejudice of rural areas. If all this sounds a bit heavy going, it isn’t. This is a proper rock album from a band that still does proper rock albums, knows how to write tunes, and has something interesting to say. For my money this is the band’s best album since the departure of Jason Isbell, and I’d go so far as to » Continue Reading.
I was 55 earlier this month. In order to mark the occasion the NHS have written to me with a list of fatal diseases and conditions I can look forward to developing very soon, recommending that I have a free Health Check to make sure I haven’t already got most of them. It’s routine, I know, but it sets you thinking about what’s important, and what you could probably stop fretting about. In that spirit, here are a few small things I’ve decided to cleanse from my life.
CDs – does it really matter if they are not the right way up in the jewel case? Well no it doesn’t, so why have I spent years positioning them correctly? From now on they will be left at a jaunty angle, or possibly even put in the wrong box.
Being nice to the postman – he’s never understood the word ‘fragile’, he is incapable of opening the gate without removing it from its hinges, and he chucks all his elastic bands in my garden.
Being early for everything – late is fashionable, right? It gives the impression you have a certain relaxed devil may care insouciance. I shall be late » Continue Reading.
Apparently this is what passes for news on the BBC website today, currently the 5th most read item, ahead of Keith Vaz, but only 1 place behind the exciting news that a car has been driven for 5 miles on 2 wheel rims. It seems that ‘anger’ has erupted all over Farceberk and Titter because of Sainsbury’s sheer temerity, and for one poster (possibly ironically) ‘Sainsburys is now dead to me’. So, the obvious and only question to ask is, what do Afterworders have for lunch? Are you a hummus and bean wrap addict, or do you pig out on 2 Mars Bars and a packet of Gary Lineker’s?
Greetings fellow Afterworders. Since last Wednesday someone at the good ship AW has changed the locks and taken the phone off the hook, and I have been unable to access the site using all devices connected to my home router. This is the equivalent of shouting through the keyhole in desperation. I believe the site is blocking my IP address, and there is nothing I can do at this end to get back on. Are there any friendly Admins that can help? I’ve even gone over to the dark side (Farce Berk) to indicate my plight where a fellow AW-er told me the same thing had happened to her. Someone, anyone, please unblock my IP address or advise me what to do!
This cry for help comes courtesy of Mrs Bungliemutt’s smartphone, so I may not be able to see any responses unless someone PM’s me.
I’ve never been a great David Bowie fan. There, I’ve said it. But I have watched the Five Years documentary on the i-Player recently – twice, and I really enjoyed it, especially the squirmworthy seriousness with which Bowie took himself in early interviews. I’ve long had a few Bowie albums but never really expanded or explored beyond the obvious. So, I really like Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, and the catsuited swagger of the glam years, but other than Aladdin Sane and TMWSTW the remainder of my acquaintance with the great man rests largely on compilations. The electronic spareness of the Berlin albums has never appealed to me, and I hated Let’s Dance, though I’d be lying if I said I’d listened to any of those albums all the way through.
So what should I do? I want to like Bowie, I really do, but I’m not sure if the game’s up and I should just stick to what I know in my little glam bubble. Now that the dust has settled, what is the AW’s opinion of what else I should try? Tigger? Anyone?