Friday, October 13, 2006

No mobile phones, no BK

I've long been drawn to the character that is King Creosote (nee Kenny Anderson).

He has a rather unique approach to his craft (songs more important than style; performance over recording quality), and is wildly ambitious (he's at over two dozen albums now and counting). He extends a big middle finger to fame: "I don’t want to be cool," he said in this interview. "I hate that winning thing -– people that enjoy winning, that’s just a total farce, isn’t it?" He enjoys the relative isolation that comes with living in Fife: "Mobile phones don’t work there," he said, "and there are no chain shops, no Burger King or Costa Coffee -- it’s great!" And, possibly most important of all, he hates the idiot box.

Anderson is known for his involvement with the Fence Collective, a group of folk artists affiliated with Fife's Fence Records and headquartered in the seacoast town of Anstruther. That collective included The Beta Band, though more typically, features those artists of the obscure variety such as James Yorkston and Lone Pigeon.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "So Forlorn" and "My Favourite Girl In All The World" by King Creosote. Both songs beautifully capture Anderson's knack for poetic, lo-fi, quirky folk music.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An unexpected reunion

Word is trickling down that next month there will be a pair of must-be-there gigs for us C86-ophiles. The shows will take place in The States; oh my, if only I had the wherewithal to attend such events.

According to the Keeping C86 Alive! web site, the gigs will feature Wolverhampton's own The Mighty Lemon Drops. Original vocalist Paul Marsh is not on board for the reunion, however, and will be replaced by Pop Will Eat Itself singer Clint Mansell. A neat choice, to say the least! I gleefully attended The Mighty Lemon Drops' show at the ICA in London during C86 week some two decades years ago and I still have their lovely set ringing in my ears.

More good news (for this old sod, mostly): The supporting act will be BMX Bandits, who, as legend has it, submitted a song to be included on the NME compilation and were . . . . Yeah, yeah, yeah, I apologize: You've heard that story one million times already. Anyway, good to hear these Glaswegians are on board.

The dates are: Nov. 17 at Cafe Du Nord in San Fran and Nov. 19 at The Echo in L.A. I demand a full report from any who attend!

"Wise Up! Sucker" by Pop Will Eat Itself

"E102" by BMX Bandits

"Inside Out" by The Mighty Lemon Drops

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Let good pop smother you

If it feels like I keep coming back to Egg Records, it's because, well, I do. The tiny, Glasgow record label has given pop fans quite a few glittering gems -- both during its short, three-year run from 1988 to 1991 and today, as part of its restoration program.

The Hardy Boys, who hail from Greenock, are one of a handful of acts getting the re-issue treatment. According to the band's rather terse biography on Egg's web site, the mainstays of The Hardy Boys' lineup were two lads named Johnny White and Mike. The group did some gigs around the UK and once recorded at Shabby Road Studios in Kilmarnock, the former recording haunt -- and living quarters -- for Trashcan Sinatras.

The Hardy Boys had just four official releases: 1987's "Wonderful Lie," a four-song EP on Stella Five Records; the track "15" on a cassette compilation known as Red Roses For Me (a comp I've unearthed nothing about, though I have managed to track down the song itself); a 2004 "Wonderful Lie" re-release on Japan's Excellent Records; and 2005's "Let The World Smother You," which was initially set to be an EP on Egg in '91, but the label going belly-up prevented this from happening.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Let The World Smother You" by The Hardy Boys.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Black mood . . . lifted

Ah, so that was lovely, now wasn't it?

We won't get into further details -- you need only know the loveliness I speak of can be found here. And Wednesday? The outcome of that battle indeed looks grim; The Boys In Green will likely be without the services of 14 lads. Here's all one needs to hear about our starting XI: The goalie last saw action against the likes of Crewe, Yeovil, and Chesterfield!

I decided I shall avoid Landsdowne Road entirely and passed off my ticket to a relative. And yes, he's a masochist. (Of course he is; he's related to the wife.)

Anyway, I returned home Sunday in absolute tatters. My black mood was lifted, however, after a nicely prepared sup from the little woman, post-meal tea in front of a comfy turf fire, and a smidge of Altan. This group has long occupied a special place in my heart, both for their lovely music and their inner strength, as they endured the terrible illness and death of one of their own: the genius Frankie Kennedy (I taped the funeral services which were broadcast on Radio Na Gaeltachta; will have to track that cassette down). They are survivors, and survivors are folks I ardently admire.

And getting back to the trivial matter of football: We'll soon see if Staunton is of the same make-up.

Two songs from Altan: "Slainte Theilinn (A Health To Teelin)" and "The Pretty Young Girl."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Power of glam compels you

One of my older brothers popped by this weekend. You know, one of them I'm-here-to-hang-with-you-but-really-here-to-check-up-on-you type visits. That's cool; I understand he's got sibling duties to perform and all.

At my insistence, we drove everywhere in his car. I haven't been in an automobile since Moving Day back in early September and it was nice to travel somewhere butt planted on cushiony cushion, rather than the adamantine seats in our lovely local transit. Plus, the smell of pine tree car freshner, no matter how pungent, is better than the acrid stench of hobo pee-pee.

Anyway, rides all over Manhattan in my brother's '89 Civic meant I was subjected to his heinous mix tapes. More Eighties hair rawk than you can shake a stick at. Most of it I could endure, but when Britny Fox came on, I had to implore him to shut it off. My sincere hope is, one day my brother will be riding to Damascus when a blinding light will flash around him, knocking him to the ground. He will then be converted, his evil music ways behind him.

Speaking of Sauls and Pauls, Mr. Stanley here (left) is one frightening looking individual. I pointed this out to my brother, but he wanted nothing of it. He defended Starman's right to look like he belongs as a display in a wax museum.

Two of my brother's favorite artists are coming out with new albums: Winger and Paul Stanley. Listen and . . . er, enjoy.

"On A Day Like Today" and "Four Leaf Clover" by Winger.

"Bulletproof" and "Lift" by Paul Stanley.