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?

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The Lockdown posts: Alternative Kitchen Disco #2

What the effin' heck does that mean? Drop what like it's hot? Well, apparently it's the act of a lady with an ample behind crouching and shaking it provocatively as seen in pretty much every hip-hop video in the last 10 years. It became popular through a Snoop Dogg song of the same name. Quite how MrsRobster came across this term is a mystery, but she thought it provided a link between the kitchen and music so daubed it across the splashboard in place of her previous work.

For the record, I have not been playing any hip-hop or r&b of late, and certainly nothing that one can "drop it like it's hot" to. But I have soundtracked my kitchen exploits with the following in the last few days:

I initially tried the new Anna Burch album but turned it off after a few tracks. Its unchanging mid-tempo plod was not exactly a cure for boredom. So I put the debut album by London duo Sorry on instead. That was much better. I know very little about his pair, only recently becoming acquainted with them, but they seem to throw various influences in the same pot and manage to make it work. I can detect all sorts of things in their sound, but I'll let you try and spot some of them. Liking this a lot.

The new album by Milk Teeth is also giving me pleasure. Yes, it does sound rather 90s, but you know - good 90s. Like, Veruca Salt 90s. What the hell, anything's better than the neverending 80s obsession that's lasting longer than the 80s ever did! Milk Teeth's parents clearly had some good records!

And on Thursday night, I also played the new Le Butcherettes EP again. Short, yeah, but better than nothing. As you'd expect, there's all sorts going on in such a short amount of time. This video sees Teri and Marfred do Misery. If I'm being honest, I think I'd be far more afraid of Teri than Kathy Bates, however awesome I think she is!

Not sure you can 'drop it' to any of these tunes, but they're pretty 'hot'. Whatever that means.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

The Lockdown posts: Alternative Kitchen Disco

God I'm bored. I thought this lockdown thing would be easy. I'm not a very sociable person and come the weekends I'm usually more than happy to stay in and not venture outside unless it's to tidy up the garden. So whole weeks of being forced to remain home? Bring it on, I thought. And for a while, it was great - no commute, working from home, bliss. 

Except that after a few weeks it becomes tedious. On Saturday I was bored shitless and got quite moody and low. So on Sunday, MrsRobster and I took the drastic decision to - wait for it - wash the car. Yep, our crappy, 11-year-old Corsa hasn't seen soap or a sponge since about 1863. I was afraid bits would start falling off it if I washed it, but it seems to have held up pretty well. It's now at the state where most people would think about washing their car, so I'm happy with that.

A couple hours later, I went into the kitchen to start preparing our dinner when I noticed MrsRobster had graffitied the splash guard above our cooker - see the picture above. Now, she likes a dance does MrsRobster. She's always fancied taking up ballroom dancing, but the problem is I hate it. I mosh and that is as far as I go. She could never face dancing with someone else so instead of taking classes, she contents herself with something she calls "dancing" around the house when the mood takes her.

And it was this silly act of homegrown vandalism that inspired me to get back to the keyboard and open the blog back up for a bit. Well, that and the desperate need of something to do. What the heck, it might stave off some of the tedium, but don't expect much.

Listeners to Steve Lamacq's teatime show on BBC 6Music will know he has a slot called the Kitchen Disco in which he plays a classic dancey track requested by a listener for us to dance around our kitchens to. Well, to put my own spin on that, I thought I'd post some songs I've been playing in my kitchen while beavering away at keeping my family fed. I can't promise that you'll be able to dance to them though.

And where better to start than Sunday's soundtrack - three albums I played while making our tea after washing the car. First up, something from the new Cowboy Junkies album 'Ghosts'. I love Cowboy Junkies, ever since their seminal record 'The Trinity Session' which as you'll know is one of my albums to take to my grave. Eight excellent new songs, the only downside being it's too short. Desire Lines is not a cover of the Lush song. That would have been interesting, but this is fantastic all the same.

Another band I used to love was Electric Soft Parade. I thought their debut was a great record. I lost track of them for years and was surprised a few years ago to find out they were still going. Their new record only has seven tracks on it, but they are rather lengthy. I can't decide if they really need to be as long as they are, but they are pretty uplifting which is no bad thing in times like these.

Finally, not new, or even an album, but I have a self-compiled Best Of Wire that I played a few tunes from before dinner was served. A band that, even after 44 years, still makes incredibly interesting music. There's a new record of unreleased songs recorded over the past decade that was going to be put out on Record Store Day, but the world has been cancelled so we'll have to wait a bit longer for it. In the meantime, here's one from 2011's 'Red Barked Tree' album.

That's it for now. More musical morsels at some point if I get bored and desperate enough.