Friday, October 27, 2006

A band that drives me hazy

Two tradeshows in two months, vacation looming, persuing other writing projects, The Hype Machine being an unruly bitch -- all of this has made the last few weeks a bit hectic and frustrating 'round these parts.

I'm cutting out of here shortly, so a long update is out of the question. And while you diehard Jock popsters (all five of you) curse me up and down for falling on the side of lazy this afternoon, take a listen to The Hazey Janes (the name comes from a Nick Drake song; and no, they sound nothing like him), for it will certainly brighten your dark moods. This Dundee outfit already has one well-received U.K. tour under its belt, not to mention an appearence at the annual SXSW festival.

The Hazey Janes' debut album, Hotel Radio, was recorded in Spain with producer Paco Loco, and features three-part harmonies, plenty of glossy pop hooks, and a unique blend of trad and country rock. Not to mention a rather deft brother-sister team of Matthew and Alice Marra.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Don't Look Away" and "Moanin' Face" by The Hazey Janes.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Some arresting Johns

They were Jon Langford, John Hyatt, and Phillip "John" Brennan. On stage and on LPs, they were known as The Three Johns. (Of course, we can't forget Hugo; he was the band's drum machine and named thus because the trio was often striving for that Gang of Four drum sound. Clever, these Johns.)

I took these excerpts from Harp Magazine. A good read, that rag is:

The Three Johns commenced in '82 in Leeds when Langford-weathering a Mekons hiatus and nursing an urge to play, as he puts it, "flat-out rock."

The 3Js also incorporated metallic dissonance and psychedelic drones into their sound, shifting easily between dance-floor punk-funk, jagged Beefheartian skronk and T.Rex-styled riff-rock. (One highlight of Live in Chicago is "20th Century Boy," with Hyatt uncannily channeling Marc Bolan's trebly warble.) In the Margaret Thatcher era the Johns were defiantly political, too, as evidenced by song titles such as "English White Boy Engineer," about apartheid, and "Death of the European," which skewered American imperialism.

"But we didn't want to be dogmatic," Langford says. "I think our thing was more humorous, and Hyatt's lyrics were almost dadaist-surrealist in approach, too."

A pair of tracks by The Three Johns:

"King Car"

"Death Of The European"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How many Moore times

I wasn't all that prosperous back then. Lolling head and flickering tongue, sitting on my hands, freeing them only to grasp at pint glasses. When I finally started clawing my way back to everyday clarity, I found myself -- like anyone else partaking in a similar endeavor, I suppose -- looking for signs that my destination was indeed viable.

And that brings us to Prosperous in Prosperous: Christy Moore's first album and the town in County Kildare. Moore named his LP thus, on account of it being recorded in this tiny hamlet by producer Bill Leader. Years back, battling with the amber liquids, I spent a weekend of torment in a dirty hotel room in Prosperous, my only salve the album Prosperous. I was angry with Ireland at the time -- I may have even pissed in An Chanail Mhor -- but Moore's brilliance kept me in check.

So yes, I found a sign that weekend. I can be prosperous again. Sappy? Of course. But I can deal with being sappy now; I can deal with being a lot of things now.

I also just came to the realization that this post has been one big tease; I do indeed have Moore tracks to share, but they are not from Prosperous. Don't be cross with me. These are from Ride On: "Back Home In Derry" and "Among The Wicklow Hills."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Braff: new Shins subpar

We won't get into any talk of career suicide (it has been three years, though); we'll just talk about the new release, which is due to hit record shops (finally) Jan. 23. I was going to mention its unfortunate title, but then learned Wincing The Night Away is a sly reference to singer/songwriter's James Mercer's battles with insomnia. Okay, that makes it tolerable.

Anyway, I'm sure mp3s blogs everywhere are ripe with Shins' tracks. Folks will pluck them, taste their sweetness, and quickly declare them to be second-rate compared to Oh, Inverted World. "Why can't they do more songs like 'New Slang?' I love that trippy, moody nostalgic stuff. And yeah, I loved when it was used in Garden State! This song will change your life indeed."

Shut up. I didn't even bother listening to any of the new album; I just picked two songs at random. Because we all know none of the material from this LP even compares to that landmark first record. Shit, I bet even Zach friggin' Braff doesn't like it.

(Quick side note: I can't get over how fat the drummer from The Shins is. I thought indie dudes were supposed to be scrawny skinny. Do more coke or something. Jeez.)

"Australia"

"Black Wave"

(Editor's note: Ah look, the copyright police have made a mess of things. No Shins tracks for you! In due time, kids, in due time.)