Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The Lockdown posts: Alternative Ditchen Disco #3

I'm getting bored of this already. The most interesting and entertaining bit of it is MrsRobster's missives. The other day she scrawled "Don't go bacon my heart", before replacing it with the equally witty(?) one above. The arrow is a nice touch as our wok is indeed kept in a cupboard to the left.

Anyway, a few more records that have accompanied my culinary efforts this past week or so, starting with a couple of new ones from two of my favourite female artists. Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, is getting better and better. Her fifth album 'Saint Cloud' has some of her best songs to date. To be honest, it took a bit of time to grow on me. It doesn't have any of the energetic rockers her last couple of records had, this one is much more laid back, almost a country album, definitely Americana (so one for CC I reckon). But what I love best about it is the songwriting and production. There are some wonderful touches on it that really bring the songs to life, displaying what a great songwriter she's become. It's a bit early to be talking about albums of the year, but I reckon this one will be right up there for me come December.

Laura Marling is amazing, isn't she? I mean, she only turned 30 in February and yet she's just released her seventh (SEVENTH) solo album, and there's not a duff one among them. Although I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by her last one 'Semper Femina' - it all sounded a bit too Joni Mitchell to my ears. 'Song For Our Daughter' was originally due in August, but because of the lockdown, she decided to let us have it now instead. How lovely of her. There are some excellent songs on it, and this one is probably the most achingly beautiful yet heartbreaking songs you'll hear this year. Try not to shed a tear as you listen.

And now some not-so-new stuff... I have a compilation I made of my favourite R.E.M. tracks. Each album is represented (except, obviously, 'Around The Sun') and the hits are noticeable by their absence. I was thinking what track from it to post here and almost opted for the video of Driver 8. But I typed in Harbocoat to see what came up. These did. Two fascinating live performances at very different stages of their career. First up, from a German TV show in 1985, four skinny lads and some questionable dancing, summing up what I think you'll agree was a band getting very close to their performance peak (four years later they did the 'Green Tour' and nothing was the same again)...

And then there's this, coming in 2007. A fan filmed this from the crowd in Dublin and synched it to the officially-released track from the live album recorded at the same show. Stipe could never remember the words to the early songs, mainly because he never actually wrote them down. So whenever they did a run through of an early classic, he trawled the internet for the lyrics which he claims were nearly always wrong! Older Stipe and Buck don't throw themselves around like they used to, although Buck does at least move about! Watch out for the harmonica anti-solo from Scott McCaughey, and of course, the late Bill Rieflin on drums who succumbed to cancer only last month. Rest easy Bill.

Sorry, I rambled on a bit there. Hey, it's R.E.M. - what did you expect?


  1. Thanks for the namecheck Robster.
    I only have Ivy Tripp
    Read a review of this one in the Guardian and intend to check it out

  2. That 1985 REM clip is something special

  3. I recently revisited Around The Sun. It can't be as bad as I remember, can it?

    It is (other than Leaving New York, which I love, even if it is a bit R.E.M. by numbers).

    And I'm almost relieved to read that I'm not the only one not bowled over by Joni Mitchell (or have I just inadvertently outed myself....?).

    You're right though - Marling is just incredible, even better since she got rid of the awful Mumford & Sons as a backing band...