Friday, 18 December 2015

From Inside The Pod Revisited #14

This was one of my favourite pods back in the day. Looking at the tracklisting today I'm not surprised - there's some great tunes on it, and a real mix. As always, the text remains pretty much untouched from the orignal article written four years ago. The rant about Simon Cowell is still relevent. I keep digging and trawling for new music and have managed to avoid every single episode of the X Factor ever since it started. I don't think that's likely to change any time soon.

Pod 11: Illumination
(first published January 2011)

After struggling to come up with a single idea for a title for this podcast, I finally settled on 'Illumination' for two reasons. First, it is the title of one of the tracks and acts as a tribute to its singer who passed away prematurely just a week or two ago. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it shows the breadth of diversity in music that constantly entriches our lives. Simon Cowell would have us all believe its about young pretty boys and girls, a Christmas number one and loads of money in his bank account. But Cowell can kiss my lily-white arse. If you really want to light up your life with music, you have to open your mind, go in search of it and immerse yourself in the wonder of what amazingly talented people there are out there beyond horrible mainstream TV and radio. Ten more examples of such delight are presented here in another illuminating podcast.

1. Rachel Goodrich The Black Hole (2008, Tinker Toys)
It's hard to classify an artist like Rachel Goodrich. Is she pop, folk, indie, retro? Her music seems to cover all these grounds and more. She has a new album - her second - due for release next month.

2. Broadcast Illumination (2000, Extended Play 2 EP)
The sad passing of Broadcast's Trish Keenan this month proved to me once more that life is a fragile thing and that it matters not if you are good or bad, talented or not, it gets us all in the end, sometimes, like Trish, far too soon. Broadcast were/are extremely well respected in electronic-indie circles and this track illustrates beautifully their atmospheric minimalist psychedelia.

3. Joy Division Dead Souls [pitch corrected] (original 1980, Still; this version 2010, A Recycle Sampler)
Thank the lord for nerds. If it weren't for the kinds of music geeks over at thepowerofindependenttrucking, neworder-recycle or smithsrecycle, we wouldn't have brand spanking new remasters of iconic music like this new version of the track which originally appeared on the b-side of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' pitched too high. These guys are working through the back catalogues of New Order, Joy Division and the Smiths to clean-up and correct the originals far better than the so-called professionals who have continually messed up with each set of official re-releases. Yes indeed, nerds of the music world - take a bow!

4. Signe Tollefsen Down By The Water (2011, Baggage)
Dutch/American singer-songwriter Signe Tollefsen is a rising star in Holland and is an in-demand support act for established artists. Her newest release, a six-track EP, contains intriguing re-interpretations of other people's songs. Nestling between versions of tracks by Michael Jackson and David Bowie is this amazing take on PJ Harvey's 1995 single. It's only January and I think I've already found one of my tracks of 2011.

5. Frank Turner Try This At Home (2009, Poetry Of The Deed)
Like a 21st Century Billy Bragg, Frank's folk-punk is gaining him an increasingly massive following thanks in no small part to his hectic live shows and festival appearances. I love the sentiment of this track - music is in all of us and we could all do something a damn-sight more meaningful and relevant with a guitar than many of today's "rock stars". Do it!

6. James Vincent McMorrow From The Woods!! [edit] (2011, Early in The Morning)
The debut album from this Irish singer-songwriter draws on the "darker, less spoken about aspects of life, solitude, disillusionment" in novels by Roald Dahl, John Steinbeck and F Scott Fitzgerald. Musically, there are obvious parallels with Bon Iver, but James is picking up enough plaudits on his own merits without the lazy comparisons. By the way, I had to tweak this to make it more podcast friendly, using the intro of an earlier version of the song, and cutting out a bit of 'dead-airtime' in the middle. So what you get here is a unique mix!

7. Miranda Sex Garden Lovely Joan (1992, Iris)
Back in August, podcast number 3 included a track by the Mediæval Bæbes featuring Katharine Blake. I said I would post something by her original band - so here you go. Miranda Sex Garden began as an a capella trio busking in Covent Garden singing traditional English madrigals. Over time, their sound mutated into avant-garde gothic darkwave. This track marked the start of that process; the song itself dates from around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.

8. Future Of The Left Arming Eritrea (2009, Travels With Myself And Another)
Cardiff band formed from the remains of Mclusky and Jarcrew in 2005. Certainly one of the noisiest things I've featured in a podcast to date but nonetheless rousing and original. Triv question: what is the link between Future Of The Left and Frank Turner (above)? Answer at the end...

9. Saint Etienne Mario's Cafe (1993, So Tough)
It may come as a bit of a surprise to those who think they know me to learn that one of my all-time favourite albums is Saint Etienne's second 'So Tough'. There is something distinctive about the London trio's brand of pure pop that sets them apart from everyone else and I find I can still listen to this record without a hint of irony. This is a wonderful observation of everyday London life as told by the gorgeous voice of Sarah Cracknell.

10. Leadbelly Goodnight Irene (1947, Complete Recorded Works 1939-1947)
Arguably the greatest folksinger/storyteller of all time, Huddie William Ledbetter, with one of his many signature tunes. The origins of the song are disputed, but it is generally agreed that Leadbelly pretty much made it his own, and this version of it, his third, was from the last session he recorded before his death two years later.

And the answer to the triva question: current Future Of The Left bassist Julia Ruzicka was once a member of hardcore punk outfit Million Dead, fronted by Frank Turner.

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