Archive for the ‘Hard-to-find’ Category

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Cook Bernard Matthews

July 21, 2015

My daughter hates Meat Is Murder, the final track on The Smiths‘ LP of the same name. The grinding slaughterhouse machines battling for ear space with distressed cows has her shouting, “TURN IT OFF!!” every time it comes on. As all good dads should do, I sometimes turn it up twice as loud and make her listen all the way to the end, which she perhaps understandably hates me for.

smiths ors

The SmithsMeat is Murder

It’s the statement that Morrissey is perhaps most well-known for, and such was his influence at the time, Meat Is Murder turned many teenagers vegetarian. It’s a brilliant track, based around Johnny Marr’s cycling Wythenshawe waltz-time riff and fleshed out (pardon the pun) on record by some understated sparkling piano work from The Smiths’ musical alchemist.

That was a riff I’d been playing around with for a few days before,” recalls Marr. “Really nasty, in open D. I didn’t know the lyrics but I knew the song was gonna be called ‘Meat Is Murder’ so it just all came together in the take.

It certainly came together. Meat Is Murder favours mood over melody, and Morrissey’s lines, rhythmic, rhyming and alliterative  – ‘The meat in your mouth as you savour the flavour of murder‘ pull no punches.

meat is murder lyricsThe song was a staple of The Smiths’ live set for the next year or so, usually performed atop a tape of the abbatoir noises that so horrify my daughter. You’ll find a good version of it, recorded live by the BBC in Oxford on the b-side of the That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore 12″.

When the band played Irvine on their September ’85 tour of Scottish backwaters, Morrissey introduced it thus;

Just remember one thing, dear friends. Next time you bite into that big, fat sausage…..YOU’RE EATING SOMEBODY’S MOTHER!!

The SmithsMeat Is Murder (Irvine, 22.9.85)

I never went to this show, a fact that will haunt me until the day I die. Idiot that I was.

smiths irvine review

Playing it at the Victoria Hall in Hanley a few months earlier in March, a fan threw a string of sausages onto the stage just as the song began, smacking Morrissey on the mouth.

They hurled it so accurately that I actually bit into it in the action of singing the word ‘murder'”

Known for walking off stage at the slightest thing these days, I’m not so sure the old grump would be quite as frivolous about such an act nowadays:

no meat*Cook Bernard Matthews

This was inscribed on the run-out groove of The Smiths’ Sheila Take A Bow single. But you knew that already.

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Tapes ‘n Tapes

July 14, 2015

This post comes on the back of a pal’s Facebook status update at the weekend. He had been in his loft and brought down a box of tapes. Not just any tapes, but a collection of live bootleg tapes. Bought at record fairs and market stalls, under the counter in independent record shops and from the back of the music press, they were all the rage in the mid-late 80s. I had tons of them. Some of my own might also be in the loft, but I suspect I gave the better ones away and skipped the rest when I moved home a decade or so ago. Sacrilege, I know. And a wee bit stupid too.

Not Iain. He’s kept his, and there they were, proudly on display, neatly filed and cared for (out of sight in the loft, but clearly cared for), preserved in all their glory for 30+ years.


The spines, all faded primary colours and badly photocopied typeset were like a post-punk hall of fame; Wire. Josef K. The Fall. Pete Shelly (sic). The gigs, long-since faded memories, lived on in the ferrous oxide therein.

Bootleg tapes tended to come in two forms – ‘audience quality‘ or ‘excellent quality‘. ‘Audience quality‘ was exactly that. Taped on a portable dictaphone from under the lapels of a donkey jacket, they had a sound akin to the band playing underwater 60 miles away. On playback, sometimes the only clue you’d have as to the song being played would be the fevered shouts from the audience as the band played one of their biggies. Unless you’d been there though, 9 times out of 10 you couldn’t be certain that you were listening to the track in question.


My one brief foray into bootlegging began and ended with The Stone Roses. I taped their now legendary Glasgow Rooftops show, just as the band were on the cusp of going massive. Stuffed down the front of my jeans until the lights went out, my dad’s clunky old dictaphone was called into action. The wee blinking red light meant it was recording. Looking furtively to the side I noticed a guy about the same age as me looking at the machine in my hand. He nodded conspiratorially and gave me a wee thumbs up. At the end of the gig he found me and gave me his address, with a promise to send me some bootlegs in return. The Stone Roses were absolutely on fire that night, a terrific gig. I couldn’t wait to get home to play the tape.

“Pffffffffff….Sccczzzzzzzz………Adored……..vmmmmmm……..Adoooo–ooored….’Over here Steven!’……sell my soul……’Here!’……’Steven! Here!’…..skkkkkkshhhhhh…..IwannarIwannarIwannar I Wanna Be Adored……”

It sounded shite.

Sorry if it was you who gave me your address. Your memory of a great gig would’ve been ruined forever. I truly did you a favour. Home Taping Is Killing Music indeed.


A tape marked as ‘Excellent Quality‘ was nearly always misleading. This usually meant the taper had found a quiet spot away from the whirling masses, away from flying elbows and shouts for ‘Hand In Glove‘ or ‘Feeling Gravity’s Pull‘ every other song. The tape still sounded like the concert was playing underwater and 60 miles away though. And get this! It was actually a considered theory that the best way to listen to a bootleg such as this was to play it in one room while sitting in another! Imagine that! I did it, too! Listening to Dylan mangle ‘Visions Of Johanna‘ in the living room while I cooked the tea in the kitchen. Sounded great as well!


These tapes are a whole subculture, a forgotten relic from the days of yore. Young folk nowadays, with their video phones and social media and whathaveyou just wouldn’t understand the lengths you had to go to obtain a crappy memento from the best gig of your gigging life. But I bet if you’re of a certain age, they’re still great to get out and look at, and dare I say it, play them, now and again.

One of Iain’s tapes was of Magazine. Before I knew the band, before I had heard ‘Shot By Both Sides‘ and was bitten by their music, I had heard of Howard Devoto only through reading NME. He was distinctive to look at, a bit weird I thought, and not really someone whose music I presumed I’d like. I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn and narrow-minded as a teenager.


The saddest thing I have ever seen was in the Virgin Megastore on Glasgow’s Union Street. It must’ve been 1987/88. There, sat at a table in the front of the bay window and facing inwards to a crowd of no-one was Howard Devoto. He was surrounded by a sea of books and/or LPs (I can’t quite remember) that no-one wanted to buy or get signed with a personal message. He noticed me noticing him and he gave me the saddest expression – his mouth may have been upturned into a smile, but his eyes were pleading. ‘Help!’ “Me!’ ‘Now!’ Of course, I ignored him and went back to looking for the New Order section. I’ve felt bad about this to this day. I wish I’d gone up and at least said ‘Hello‘.

I’d love to think that if I ever met Howard and told him this story, he’d reply the same way he does when he makes his cameo in ‘24 Hour Party People‘ – “I have absolutely no recollection of this ever having taken place.” You never know.

Anyway, here‘s Howard and the rest of Magazine giving Sly Stone‘s ‘Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again‘ a good post-punk going over. S’all about the bass, ’bout the bass….

MagazineThank You Falletinme Be Mice Elf Again

And here‘s Sly’s original, all finger poppin’, booty shakin’, dripping, brooding funk. If you don’t like Sly there’s just no hope for you. None at all.

Sly & the Family StoneThank You Falletinme Be Mice Elf Again

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We Have Lift Off!

July 6, 2015

I was driving past Glasgow Airport the other day, the runway loaded with planes all set to jet off to weather better than we were presently experiencing. I had a flashback to a few years previously, to a time when I’d dropped my in-laws off there when they were going on holiday. On the way home, just as I had left the airport and was about to join the M8, a strange and beautiful coincidence took place.

runway haze

The iPod, on shuffle, turned up a terrific Weller remix, just as a 737 raked itself into the sky directly above my head. Its skyscraping rumble, combined with the vapour around the engines and coupled with the low setting west of Scotland sun created a spectacular scene, all haze and shimmer and very reminiscent of the TV pictures I remember when Concorde took its first few flights.

Back then, those images were almost always accompanied by the mellow throb of Albatross, it’s faraway bluesy meander the perfect soundtrack to the aeroplane in flight. Here in the 2st century, what I was looking at was accompanied instead by a dubby, spacey, magnificent clatter, all bleeps and whooshes and laden with all manner of shiny studio effects.

The track in question was the Lynch Mob Bonus Beats remix of Kosmos and it was thrilling.  Call it corny or whatever, but it was a perfect moment.

Kosmos (Lynch Mob Bonus Beats)

We have lift off.

Kosmos (SXDUB 2000)

Almost a beatless version to the busy Bonus Beats mix above.

Kosmos (Original album version)

This is a terrific version, the track that brought his first solo LP to a close. D. C. Lee is all over it, competing for space with some tasteful funk guitar.

Those Lynch Mob productions were a staple part of Paul Weller’s releases in the early-mid 90s. And unlike the artist himself, who these days is going for a look akin to Andy Warhol as played by Robert Carlyle, they’ve aged spectacularly well.

weller 2015

I’ve lived with his latest LP, Saturns Pattern (no apostrophe, tsk) since it’s release and to be honest I’m just not really feeling it. To these ears it’s a wee bit flat and one dimensional, trying too hard to be the equal of the last few LPs and spoiled by the odd mockney vocal and what ‘ave ya. In the cold light of day, it’s nowhere near as good as the kaleidoscopic sonic palettes evident on the preceding triptyche.

It has its moments – the angry man squall of White Skies, in itself an Asda priced sanitisation of all his recent best bits, Whole Lotta Love bass lines ‘n all, the chicken scratch Meters-lite Pick It Up and the fuzzy, meandering Phoenix, but while it’s not a bad LP, it’s not one of Weller’s finest. I’m sure, a year or so down the line when he looks back in retrospect, he’ll tell you the same himself.

Console yourself instead with another Lynch Mob-produced spacey remix from 1984.

Eye Of The Storm, b-side of the Peacock Suit single.

brendan lynchBrendan Lynch

 

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Neil Young. He’s a bad boy. 

June 17, 2015

Aurora Borealis, the icy sky at night, Paddles cut the water in a long and hurried flight, 
from the white man to the fields of green. And the homeland we’ve never seen.’

What a terrific, scene-setting opening couplet.

 neil young 70s

It’s from Neil Young’s Pocahontas, although I expect you probably knew that already.

Pocahontas is, as you might’ve worked out, Neil’s ode to the indigenous Native American Indians and their massacres at the hands of the U.S. cavalry. It’s one of many stellar compositions that clutter the highways and byways of Neil Young’s archives.

Rust Never Sleeps version:

The song has its genesis in the early 70s and has been subject to all manner of tunings, keys and arrangements, from solo ham-fisted piano versions to the drop D acoustic ballad that defines its only official releases to date, on 79’s Rust Never Sleeps and on 1993’s MTV Unplugged LP. I love the 12 string version on the latter release.

MTV Unplugged version:

neil young 77

My favourite version though comes from the unreleased Chrome Dreams album. Chrome Dreams could well have been Neil Young’s most era-defining LP of the 70s, had he decided not to bin it, and many of its tracks. Some of them would end up on future releases – Like A Hurricane on American Stars And Bars, for instance, and Look Out For My Love on Comes A Time, but as a studio album (and sequenced to perfection) Chrome Dreams would’ve been a cracker.

Outtakes of Pocahontas remained tantalisingly out of reach, before the advent of the World Wide Web, when previously mythical bootlegs suddenly became as easily available as ordering oranges online from Tesco. What a wonderful thing!

The version of Pocahontas from Chrome Dreams is classic Neil, driven by a winning combination of major and minor chords, hammer ons and pull offs and Young’s trademark clunk-a-thunk fingerpicked rhythm, all topped off with the distinctive high, reedy vocal. “Whiny Neil,” as my wife would say.

Chrome Dreams version:

I prefer to think of his voice in a similar way to whisky – first time you try it, you don’t particularly like it, but as you age, you come to appreciate the reliable warmth and beauty of it. Either that, or it gives you heartburn, a thumping sore head and a dose of the boaks, I dunno. He’s brilliant, though, ol’ whiny Neil, isn’t he?

neil young 70s 2

I’ve always thought of Neil Young as a bit of an original. The music he plays has so many obvious influences but he’s a true trailblazer in so many ways.

Imagine my surprise then when, a few days ago, the iPod shuffled out Carole King‘s He’s A Bad Boy.

 carole king

It‘s standard teen girl fare about falling in love with the wrong kinda guy. The melody though….. and the chord pattern….not to mention the wheezing, asthmatic harmonica solo…..it was Pocahontas, reimagined as a plaintive girl group heartbreaker!

Except, it wasn’t. Given that Carole King wrote her song in the Brill Building in 1963, around a decade earlier than Young ‘wrote’ Pocahontas, we’d be more accurate saying that Pocahontas is He’s A Bad Boy reimagined as a folky, political ballad. Neil Young – just like the white man who stole from the Natives – he’s a bad boy indeed.

carole king bad boy

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You Are Night Club People, Ain’tcha?

June 7, 2015

A double whammy of night club tracks…

dancers

Iggy Pop‘s Nightclubbing is a fantastic product of its environment. It was written by Iggy and Bowie during a particularly decadent period in time, when they hung with Lou Reed in the off-beaten spots of Berlin and and took all manner of pills, powders and potions just to keep themselves alive and creative. It pulses with a creeping electro throb, a jack-booted mechanical goose-step that never changes tempo, never changes rhythm but always sounds menacing. It’s louche, sleazy and vaguely sinister and to this day is just about my favourite Iggy track.

Iggy PopNightclubbing

bowie iggy lou

It was written after one of their many Berlin benders, when Bowie suggested the ‘We walk like a ghost‘ lyric. The Thin White Duke pounds out the skewed honky tonk blues on the upright piano while Iggy half-sings, half-narrates the tale of an average night out in Berlin for the three of them. You can see them, can’t you, a trio of messed up, pale-faced druggy rockstars stalking the city like a gang of up-to-no-good alleycats seeking their next kick.

Nightclubbing, we’re nightclubbing……we’re what’s happening…….we meet people, brand new people….

The SpecialsNite Klub (the spelling is important) on the other hand is as far removed from Iggy et al as Venus is from Mars. A frantic punky, jerky and ska-based, exotica-tinged knee-trembler round the back of The Ritz, one eye over your shoulder on the lookout for a bouncer or her pals or her actual boyfriend or something, it tells the tale of Friday/Saturday in N.E. Town in late 70s/early 80s provincial Britain.

The SpecialsNite Klub

The-Specials

Most nite klubs in those days were big and cavernous and left-over relics from a bygone age when times were simpler and people had more disposable income. The local Scala or Locarno or Roxy or Palais or whatever had seen better days and bigger crowds as a dancehall and might’ve by now been doubling up as a bingo hall. It may well have been on its way to becoming  a cinema. The Specials sing of a club fraught with tension and the notion that at any time soon, you might get your head kicked in, either by a local who doesn’t like the fact that you went to a different school/grew up on a different estate/looked funny at him or by one of the bow tied neanderthal bouncers employed to keep (cough) order in the place.

I won’t dance in a club like this,’ bemoans Terry Hall. ‘All the girls are slags and the beer tastes just like piss.’

We’ve all been to those places. Some of the best nights of my life were in them. And some of the worst.

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The Erratic Antics Of Brendan On Drums

June 1, 2015

There’s a tiny wee Teenage Fanclub renaissance taking place just now. Last week saw the 20th (the 20th!!!) anniversary of the release of their Grand Prix LP, the album many consider to be unmatched by anything else in the band’s brilliantly rich and epoch-defining (well, in my house at least) catalogue.

And also just last week, the band came together in Manchester to play a stadium show with Foo Fighters, warmed-up for with a 2 hour show the preceding evening in a small venue in Yorkshire. By all accounts the band were at their very best. Even Dave Grohl took time out from international rock star duties to sing their praises to Foo Fighters’ audience.

tfc live

Me and Teenage Fanclub go waaaaay back. To 1990 to be precise. That summer, I caught them supporting the Soup Dragons in Glasgow’s Garage, bought Everything Flows on 7″ a few days later and set off on a proud run of buying each record on release day and catching the band play live at least once a year every year until 2014, when they had the audacity to play a rare gig at the refurbished bandstand in Kelvingrove Park on the same night I had chosen to book Glenn Tilbrook to play a tiny venue in Irvine. Glenn was good…..but he wasn’t Teenage Fanclub. Not that you could tell, but I’m still irked somewhat that I missed the bandstand gig that night.

When the TFC started out, they were ramshackle to the point of comedy. Their gigs, a right ramalama of long hair and Marshall-stacked riffs, were punctuated by false starts, broken strings and the erratic antics of Brendan on drums. Lurking underneath the friendly shambles though was a set of melody-rich songs doing their best to burst out of the confines of the plaid shirts and band in-jokes.

TeenageFanclub1990

Teenage FanclubGod Knows It’s True (single version)

Second single God Knows It’s True is a little lost jewel in an embarrassment of riches. The bridge between the gaffa taped DIY of A Catholic Education and the power pop sheen of Bandwagonesque, God Knows It’s True is rough-’round-the-edges indie rock; guitars-turned-up-to-10 and howling like Neil Young in the eye of a hurricane, with a saccharine-sweet minor key chorus that repeats ad-infinitum to the end. As it’s playing just now I can picture the band on stage in King Tuts, guitars slung low and heads bowed lest the 3 frontmen clatter their heads off of Tuts’ roof.

God knows it’s true, but I think that the devil knows it too.” CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Der-Der-De-Der De Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh!

Teenage FanclubGod Knows It’s True (Peel Session, August 1990)

tfc god knows

By the time Bandwagonesque came to be committed to tape, the band were in a rich vein of songwriting form and had taken to recording their valve-driven amps at full volume, mic’d up inside cupboards so as not to blast out any windows within a 20-mile vicinity. But you knew that already.

An interesting metamorphosis has taken place over the course of the band’s career. The hair, once “down my back” has crept slowly upwards. Add an extra member who can enhance the live sound with subtle keys and all manner of instrumentation and stick some necessary yet tasteful spectacles on the faces of half the band and Teenage Fanclub now resemble a quintet of slightly trendy science teachers, the kind of teacher who’d be equally at ease telling you the properties of the most obscure chemical elements in the Breaking Bad titles and be able to point out a major 7th chord on Love’s Forever Changes LP. Then shuffle on and rock out at the end of year school prom.

TFC_BBC

And as the hair has shortened, so too have the guitar solos. They’re still there, but they’re not at the forefront of everything anymore. The focus these days seems to be on the melody and the power of the backing vocal, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. There’s no finer sight in live music than when the 3 frontmen step forward as one to harmonise the opening lines of About You. None.

Teenage FanclubSometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything

Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything from the aptly-named Shadows LP (where the band have been in the intervening 5 years since its release) sums this up brilliantly. A softly sung vocal from Gerry builds into a brilliantly-layered harmonising ba-ba-ba outro, creating a super soaraway sunshine pop song. Beach Boys by way of Bellshill, if you will.

The next TFC LP is due at some point this year. Whether the guitars have regained their room-filling volume, or whether the vocals are now competing for ear space with flutes and strings, I don’t mind. Nor, I suspect, do the legions of getting-on-a-bit-now men (and women…women like TFC too, y’know) eager for a new slice of Fanclub action. I cannae wait.

tfc blurDave knows the score

Useless TFC facts with tenuous links to this writer:

1. Both Gerry and myself are West of Scotland Our Price alumni. Despite numerous training days and the parochial nature of the job, we never knowingly met at the time.

2. Gerry contributed to this rather fine 6 Of the Best many moons ago. I met him quite by chance afterwards when he was DJing in a pub and I thanked him heartily for participating. My Fanclub fanboy conversation was such that he missed the start of the 7″ he’d queued up to play next on the turntable. Jam Master Jay he is not.

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Six Of The Best – Neon Waltz

May 22, 2015

Six Of The Best is a semi-regular feature that pokes, prods and persuades your favourite bands, bards and barometers of hip opinion to tell us six of the best tracks they’ve ever heard. The tracks could be mainstream million-sellers or they could be obfuscatingly obscure, it doesn’t matter. The only criteria set is that, aye, they must be Six of the Best. Think of it like a mini, groovier version of Desert Island Discs…

IMG_5654

Number 21 in a series:

Next Monday (23rd May) finds the hotly-tipped Neon Waltz bringing their spring tour to a close in the intimate settings of Irvine’s Harbour Arts Centre, a brilliant wee venue 20-odd miles south of Glasgow that, when full, holds just over 100 people. The audience surrounds the band on 3 sides and there’s not a bad seat in the house. No-one at the gig will be more excited than myself.

I’ve been following Neon Waltz closely over the past year since first hearing them via the more hip, finger-on-the-pulse blogs. They’ve released a self-financed, extremely limited 7” (the military two-step marching Bare Wood Aisles), signed to Noel Gallagher’s management company (but don’t let that put you off – fans of Oasis might find their tunes pleasantly melodic, and Neon Waltz are fond of a cagoule and a duffel jacket, but they sound nothing like the mono-browed Mancunians) and they’ve recently released a 6 track collection of demos (First Light) after inking a deal with recording giant Atlantic Records, home to Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin and most of the greats you can think of. In short, Neon Waltz are going places.

Neon WaltzBare Wood Aisles

It’s unlikely the band had these sorts of giddy expectations when they began rehearsing a year ago in an old, cold abandoned croft on the outskirts of Caithness. I put this to vocalist Jordan Shearer, owner of the finest bowl-cut fringe in music since Bobby Gillespie in 1990, as we do a quick catch-up over the phone on his day off in Oxford, sandwiched in-between gigs in Amsterdam and Birmingham.

Coming from where we do, we have to think about things differently to everybody else. We knew we were a good band, but no-one from around our way ever expects to become famous or make it. We were just happy playing music for ourselves…I know how cheesy that sounds, but it’s true. When we found out there were record labels interested in signing us we couldn’t quite believe it.”

 neon waltz 1

That they come from the far north of Scotland, in musical terms the middle of nowhere, has helped Neon Waltz forge a sound that is more than the equal of its influences. Victims to neither fads nor fashions, they’ve quietly gone about honing their own version of the sounds that turn them on. As a six-piece they bring many elements to their music.

We all love The Band’s The Last Waltz. I think we actually saw the film before we’d heard the LP, but as a group we really loved their rootsy, organic take on things. There’s a definite Band influence, maybe not in our sound, but certainly in how we approach making our music.”

The BandKing Harvest (Has Surely Come)

King Harvest (Has Surely Come) is one we all love. The playing on it is superb. Loose and funky. They were proper musicians, The Band.

I suggest to Jordan they ask Atlantic to get Robbie Robertson to produce the eventual first LP by Neon Waltz. You’ve gotta make the most of your opportunities, I tell him. Watch this space…

We’re all big music fans. Spotify has been a great tool for us in discovering new bands. We all write and contribute to the band. Usually, someone has the bare parts done on an acoustic guitar, basic open chords, then we play it with the band. We all add our own parts, with a bit of tweaking here and there until we’re satisfied with the sound of it. We’ll often go on long, extended jams. Bare Wood Aisles came out of a 20 minute jam. 

Neon Waltz take their influences and spin them into terrific, slightly psychedelic, little symphonies. The guitars, sometimes chiming, sometimes fizzing, always to the fore and battling for attention with a drummer fighting a serious Keith Moon infatuation bring to mind all of what’s good in premier league indie rock. The National. Ride. The House Of Love. They’re all in there.

 

I’ll have to pick a track by The Walkmen. They’re one of our favourites. D’you know them? I could pick anything by them…. Let’s go for The Rat. There’s so much energy in it.

The WalkmenThe Rat

 

We all like vastly different records and bands, but there are lots of things we all agree on. One of them is The Magical World of The Strands. What a genius songwriter Mick Head is. He was in Shack and The Pale Fountains, two bands that never got the attention they maybe deserved.

 

The Magical World… is his first solo LP. We all love the songwriting and the arrangements. He’s a true one-off. If I was to recommend any of his songs it would be Something Like You.

 

Another obsession is Mac DeMarco. My latest infatuation is a song of his called Ode To Viceroy. It’s slacker rock, basically, full of beachy surf guitars. Viceroy is an American cigarette brand and this song is a very funny ode to the joys of smoking.

 
Mac DeMarco – Ode To Viceroy

Ou
r tour manager Big John from Liverpool turned us on to Captain BeefheartMad shit! It’s out there, man! We played the Safe As Milk LP regularly on our first tour. It’s great stuff!
 
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do

The one band we all agree on, other than The Band, is The Coral. 
 
The Coral – Skeleton Key

The Coral are brilliant! Simple pop songs, but brilliantly played. They are very clever in how they arrange their songs. 
Skeleton Key from their first album captures everything that’s good about the band – out there, uncompromising but still pop music.

Zoom right in to the finer details of Neon Waltz and you’ll spot all these influences and no doubt many more. What’s impressive is that they have reassuringly ‘old’ tastes that belie their tender years. That might be a turn off to some, but not for me or many of you who drop by here regularly. The tagline up there isn’t ‘Outdated Music For Outdated People‘ for nothing, y’know. 
 neon waltz 3
Listen closely to Neon Waltz and in the woozy vocals and wonky keyboards you’ll hear shades of The Chocolate Watch Band, The Standells and all those terrific Nuggetsy garage bands. A more obvious and mainstream influence might be The Charlatans. 

Take a track like  Veiled Clock. When the instrumentation drops and the vocals soar, you’ll be able to pick out lovely 3-part harmonies informed by Crosby, Stills & Nash. Zoom in closer and you’ll spot the Fleet Foxes arrangements.

Neon WaltzVeiled Clock


Listen for pleasure though, without over-analysis or a need to compare the new with the old and you’ll hear melody-drenched, hazy, soft-focus tunes that wouldn’t sound out of place playing loudly as the sun sets behind a sea of flags in front of the Pyramid Stage at this year’s Glastonbury. It’s sure to happen for Neon Waltz sometime. Maybe not this year. Or even next. But it’s only a matter of time.

 

neon waltz 2

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