Monday, 11 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums of 2017 #11


Celebrity chums add depth* and chuckles** to a play-it-safe set. Still country's most incisive raconteur.

*John Fogerty, duetting on the title track: a worthy update of Creedence's Fortunate Son.

**Mick Jagger, given the chance the play the louche lizard again on Drive Of Shame.

See also this: the year's best song about growing old. Still makes me laugh and cry.

And as for the internet...

Your grandmother's in an open casket
You're in a suit and shades
You take your iPhone out and snap it: #sadday
You oughta be ashamed

Posing in the bathroom mirror, in a skimpy little two piece
In the background there's a toddler, cryin' on the toilet seat...
 
You oughta be ashamed, of your selfie
Now why you gotta go and tweet it?
When you really oughta just delete it
Now we all want to unsee it but we can't
You oughta be ashamed (but you're not)



Next: This is what happens, Larry...

Sunday, 10 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums of 2017 #12


Glorious homage to showstopping 70s pomp; tongue firmly in cheek. "They don't make 'em like this anymore."

12. Foxygen - Hang



Next: all's fair with modern country's finest wordsmith.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Saturday Snapshots #12 - The Answers


And we're back in the room...


10. Two things Otis claimed to have in Tramp go paseo.

 (It's OK, by the way, that's his wife.)

In Tramp, Otis tells Carla Thomas...
I got six Cadillacs, five Lincolns, four Fords
Six Mercuries, three T-Birds, Mustangs, ooh, I'm a lover
One type of Cadillac is the Cadillac Deville. Carla goes on to tell him...
You can't buy me all those minks and sables and all that stuff I want
To which Otis replies...
I can buy you minks, rats, frogs, squirrels, rabbits, anything you want, woman
Gram got Mink Deville, but thought maybe the Cadillac doubled up as a reference to Cadillac Walk.

Alyson and C got out their Spanish dictionaries to reveal that a 'paseo' is a stroll.

Mink DeVille - Spanish Stroll

9. Scottish comics get me really angry.


The Dandy is a famous Scottish comic. These guys were a not-that-famous Britpop band from Leeds.

George puzzled that one out, with a couple of hints.

The Dandys - You Make Me Want To Scream

8. Silly & lazy, yet insists on being a traditional bride.

Silly Billy apparently took his stage name from the fact his teachers called him idle.

Alyson rocked out to this one.

Listen to that intro! Then enjoy the outrageous 80s excess of the video...

Billy Idol - White Wedding

7. Like The Man says, the right Geordie goes a little French.


Van 'The Man' Morrison sang 'Jackie Wilson Said... it was Reet Petite'. (Dexys, of course, sang about Jockey Wilson.)

Reet is Geordie for right.

Petit is French for small.

Lynchie nabbed this one.

Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite

6. Big O song of the Spanish king. I was always an Atari man myself.


Roy Orbison sang about Lana.

Del Rey means 'of the king' in Spanish.

Lana Del Rey - Video Games

Chris had a few goes at this, but George snatched the victory.

5. Not Morrissey's world; not Mr. Ed or Shergar either.


Morrissey sang America Is Not The World.

Mr. Ed & Shergar were both horses... with names.

America - A Horse With No Name

Another one for Lynchie - fighting it out with George for top spot this week.

4. Add 997 to the above, supporting camping without golf in the Reformation.


In the previous picture, there were three swordsmen. 3 + 997 = 1000.

A tentpole supports you when you're camping - take away a golf tee and you're left with Tenpole.

The Reformation happened in Tudor times.

Tenpole Tudor - Swords of a Thousand Men

Another big win for George. Charity Chic wants Ed TPT's trousers.

(Another top video too, if you've got the time.)

3. A sweet Beatles girl and a jerky fellow get disconnected.


The Beatles sang about "sweet Loretta Martin" (George's missus). A jerk is an American twit.

Lynchie got the artists, Charity Chic got the song.

Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty - As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone

(IF YOU'VE NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE, YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT BEFORE YOU DIE OR YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN WASTED.)

2. Night sky obscured by Carly's coffee, "Yay!" say the upper class twits.


Carly Simon had clouds in her coffee.

Rah = yay. Apparently, Rah is also a derogatory term for the upper classes. Why anyone would want to be derogatory about the upper classes is beyond me.

The Rah Band - Clouds Across The Moon

Lynchie has no shame. (It's the only song of theirs that I know too... but I love it unashamedly.)

Another video that screams for your attention.

1. Delta, famous for 15 minute soup and a Queen simile.


Delta = D.

Andy Warhol did pictures of Campbell's soup and told us we'd all be famous for fifteen minutes.

Queen sang Bohemian Rhapsody

Similes, as I keep telling my students, mostly involve like or as.

Somehow, I've never seen the video this before. Can't understand why they never showed it on Top of the Pops. (Clue: it's NSFW.)

Another George victory.



Can't wait for next week's. #9 already has me chuckling...

Saturday Snapshots #12


Saturday is the best day of the week! Here's why...

Ten clues to ten great songs. Who'll guess them first?


10. Two things Otis claimed to have in Tramp go paseo.


9. Scottish comics get me really angry.


8. Silly & lazy, yet insists on being a traditional bride.


7. Like The Man says, the right Geordie goes a little French.


6. Big O song of the Spanish king. I was always an Atari man myself.


5. Not Morrissey's world; not Mr. Ed or Shergar either.


4. Add 997 to the above, supporting camping without golf in the Reformation.


3. A sweet Beatles girl and a jerky fellow get disconnected.


2. Night sky obscured by Carly's coffee, "Yay!" say the upper class twits.


1. Delta, famous for 15 minute soup and a Queen simile.


Special prize for anyone shameless enough to admit to knowing #2.

Friday, 8 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums Of 2017 #13


Marred by tragedy*, Grandaddy's return** makes discarded tech*** a metaphor for Jason Lytle's divorce. Haunting and weird.


*Founding member & bassist Kevin Garcia died of a stroke, aged only 41, just a few weeks after the album's release.

**Their first album in 11 years.

***A classic Grandaddy theme / trope.

13. Grandaddy - The Last Place
Forget the words, the pictures are nice
And dream of a girl or somebody else’s life
I'm trying a road that’s dead on the end
That’s how it goes, so copy and save and send
(A Brush With The Wild)
I just moved here, and I don’t wanna live here anymore
Countless lovers everywhere, I never know what’s gonna happen
They see me coming for a mile, all the while they were laughing
(I Don't Wanna Live Here Anymore)




Next: Just f-in breathe.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums of 2017 #14




Rivers* unashamedly goes pop**.

Pinkerton*** fans go ape.

Infectious tunes + sharp, witty, nerdcore lyrics =  another Weezer winner.****


*Rivers Cuomo = Weezer mainman.

**But without the awful contemporary sheen that marred this year's Elbow / The National albums.

***Weezer's heaviest album, held up by musos as their pièce de résistance, but actually a bit hard going.

****But nowhere near as good as last year's White Album.


14. Weezer - Pacific Daydream

I wanna have the feeling someone's in love with me
You gotta choose between the internet and me
People don't bring me joy
I think you get the point
I'm on an epic quest
Pursuit of happiness


(QB Blitz)

She got a bachelor's degree in physics and a job in computer programming
That's pretty cool for a singer in a band so I knew we would end up jamming
Later that night we went to a gig and she asked for some advice
"What do you do with your hands when you're singing, do you just hold onto the mic?"


(Mexican Fender)

Everyone wants to be cooler than everyone else
It's a hip hop world
And we're the furniture


(The Beach Boys)




Next: They're back! Like they never went away.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums of 2017 #15 / My Top 90 Mid-Life Crisis Songs #10


15. The Menzingers - After The Party

Springsteen-infused post-emo punks make huge-hooked guitar anthems out of the misery of turning 30.



Today's a two-fer, because I've been meaning to feature this album in My Top 90 Mid-Life Crisis Songs since I took a (successful) punt on it a few weeks back.

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #10: The Menzingers - After The Party

After The Party is an album full of songs about the first truly terrifying mid-life crisis we all face - turning 30. Seems so long ago now, I can't even remember how it felt, but I know that wasn't a particularly positive time in my life and I doubt that particular milestone helped any (although now, of course, it seems an age devoutly to be wished for: if only I could go back there, knowing what I know now...)

It all starts with Tellin' Lies, a song which sets up the album's big question: "Where we gonna go now that our twenties are over"...
Oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible
When buying marijuana makes you feel like a criminal
When your new friends take a joke too literal
Making you feel like the bad guy
Then comes Lookers, a track constantly harking back to the old days "when we were both lookers". They exist now only in sad old photographs...
Lost in a picture frame
The way my body used to behave
The way I smiled in the moment
Before it permanently froze
But that was the old me
I was such a looker in the old days
Then there's the excellent Midwestern States in which our narrator complains about the mundane realities of real life now that magic has worn off...
Been having problems with our landlord
He said he's taking us both to court
She got her hours slashed
And my unemployment's drying up fast
We both got worthless diplomas from worthless universities
Two bachelors in worthless studies
But at least it made our parents happy
And cost a whole lot of money
All of which leads to the title track, and the realisation that the only way to survive adult (post-20s) life is to find yourself a fellow survivor with whom to cling onto the wreckage.
We put miles on these old jean jackets
Got caught up in the drunk conversations
But after the party, it's me and you
After the party, it's me and you
The video does a pretty good job of illustrating "growing up" too... 



Next: Buddy Holly goes POP!


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums of 2017... #16



16. The National - Sleep Well, Beast

Matt Berninger's intriguing imagery and sly wit wins out against flat, contemporary over-production*. Storytelling saves the day.


(*A similar issue sank this year's Elbow album for me: a band I've loved since the start, striving too hard to cut out the guitars and garner radio play by smothering their sound in a Coldplay-like sheen. Or maybe I'm just getting old.**)

(**Indexes and parentheses are a cool way of cheating my self-imposed 17 word limit, aren't they?)


I get a little punchy with the vodka
Just like my great uncle Valentine Jester did
But he had to deal with those people like you
Who made no goddamn common sense
I’d rather walk all the way home right now
Than to spend one more second in this place
I’m exactly like you Valentine,
Just come outside and leave with me


.

Next: 30 is the new mid-life crisis.

Monday, 4 December 2017

My Top 17 Albums of 2017... #17

Is that enough 17s for you?

As is customary in December, I feel honour-bound to count down my favourite records of the year. And what a year it's been. Where I struggled to fill a Top Ten in 2016, I could easily go 20 this year... but 17 seemed like a good place to stop.

As it also customary at this time of year, I'm already discovering new records that may take the place of albums in this list after a few more listens (Fred Thomas, Jeff Rosenstock, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile), but the cut-off date has to be December 1st... so I'll write about the latecomers next year.

However, 17 posts between now and the end of the December would be a ball-breaker if I waffled as much as I usually do in these reviews... so this year I'm limiting myself to 17 words per album (plus some choice lyrical extracts). For those of you with short attention spans, that will surely prove a blessing...


17. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

60% genius, 40% pretentious 6th form bollocks...better with choruses. Weirdly, the highlight is 13 minutes long!

More here.
These L.A. phonies and their bullshit bands
That sound like dollar signs and Amy Grant
So reads the pull quote from my last cover piece
Entitled "The Oldest Man in Folk Rock Speaks”
You can hear it all over the airwaves
The manufactured gasp of the final days
Someone should tell them ‘bout the time that they don’t have
To praise the glorious future and the hopeless past



Next... the monster snoozes.


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Saturday Snapshots #11 - The Answers


And we're back with answers...


10. Turner & The Equalisers: not too popular on the wireless.


(Insert "nice buns" gag if you so wish.)

Kathleen Turner + Edward (Equaliser) Woodward = Kathleen Edwards (she gave up music... hopefully not forever... to open a coffee shop).

Kathleen Edwards - One More Song The Radio Won't Like

9. Catch these guys for a little drink with the king of the gods.


Jupiter was the king of the gods.

A little drink is a drop.

What can you catch?

Train - Drops Of Jupiter

(Yes, I know Train are really uncool. When has that ever stopped me? And doesn't the lead singer look like the California version of David Gedge?)

8. Age brings about angina for these visionary majors.


Visionary = eyes

Majors = Lee

One of the greatest songs ever recorded. With the best drum intro. Well done to Lynchie for remembering the brackets.

The Isley Brothers - This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)

Deduct 10 points from your score if you're thinking about the Rod Stewart version.

7. Every X-Factor contestant wants to be one - most are unlucky.


Every X-Factor contestant wants to be a Big Star.

13 is very unlucky.

Well done, Swede.

Big Star - Thirteen

6. Ginger's fella takes over the world, gets dazzled by Bruce's torch.


Ginger's fella was Fred. 

A fella is also a man.

The world is planet Earth.

Bruce wrote the song. His version is better, obviously.

Another point for Lynchie.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Blinded by the Light 

 
5. Redknapp for Division One, people!


Division One is a League (even I know that, and I know nothing about football).

People are human (well, some of them).

This is the Redknapp (formerly Nurding) I was referring to...


(You've no idea how long it took me to find a picture of her where she wasn't just in her underwear. About as long as it took me to find a picture of The Human League where Phil Oakey wasn't instantly recognisable.)

Joint effort from Lynchie & Alyson.


4. Often found in California and Victorian London: antiquated lizards.


California and Victorian London both had problems with Smog.

Lizards are cold-blooded.

Antiquated refers to the old times.

The Swede & Charity Chic tag-teamed this one.

Smog - Cold-Blooded Old Times

3. The desperate enemy of ladies hits ice. Not as short as you think!


Desperate Dan

Enemy = Foe

Lady = Girl (or Gel)

Ice = Berg

Not as short as you think?

Lynchie really didn't want to admit to knowing this one,,, but he couldn't resist nudging C towards the answer.

Don't blame me if listening to this song sends you into a diabetic coma. However, it reminds me of an extremely foolish, if not entirely regretted, dalliance when I was young and very, very stupid...

Dan Fogelberg - Longer

2. Tom's hairpiece prefers to walk home.


Tom Courtenay's hairpiece would be his Barnett.

Too easy a pic if you know the artist, but I'm a sucker for stars holding cameras.

Well done, Swede and Chris.

Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian At Best

1. Gizmo's dad plays cards with Kalamazoo.


Hoyt Axton was the dad in Gremlins.

The cat was called Kalamazoo.

If that cat could take, what a tale he'd tell...

I think we can all agree, Lynchie is this week's winner. Though he does get up very early on a Saturday...



Back next week, breakdown permitting.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Saturday Snapshots #11


I may be busy, but there's always time for snapshots (until there isn't)...

Ten clues to ten great songs. Go!


10. Turner & The Equalisers: not too popular on the wireless.


(Insert "nice buns" gag if you so wish.)

9. Catch these guys for a little drink with the king of the gods.


8. Age brings about angina for these visionary majors.


7. Every X-Factor contestant wants to be one - most are unlucky.


6. Ginger's fella takes over the world, gets dazzled by Bruce's torch.

 
5. Redknapp for Division One, people!


4. Often found in California and Victorian London: antiquated lizards.


3. The desperate enemy of ladies hits ice. Not as short as you think!


2. Tom's hairpiece prefers to walk home.


1. Gizmo's dad plays cards with Kalamazoo.


They're easy when you know the answers!

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