Monthly Archives: November 2008

“There ain’t no black in the Union Jack”

manics

Manic Street Preachers – “Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart” from
The Holy Bible (1994)

Manic Street Preachers – “4st 7lb” from The Holy Bible (1994)

The Manic Street Preachers are one of the more provocative bands around, or at least they were in 1994 (I don’t know their more recent work). I bought this album based on its title and the titles of the songs, and ended up with the band’s magnum opus. The two songs here are standouts. The lyrics are nuts, not to mention incomprehensible when listening to the songs (read them here and here). It is also impossible to figure out how the lyrics fit with the music when reading them without listening to the song at the same time.

Most of the lyrics were written by Ritchey James Edwards (second from left in the above photo) who disappeared mysteriously shortly after the album was completed. According to this, Mr. Edwards’ family has decided to change Ritchey’s legal status from “missing” to “presumed dead.”

The title “Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart” is correct as written, even with the grammatically incorrect apostrophe and the lack of spaces.

Buy the Manics

Posted by Adam

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“Ended with a cry”

Neil Young (w/ the Buffalo Springfield) – “Expecting to Fly” from Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

The latest Neil Young Archives Performance Series recordings will be released next week as Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House 1968.   These archives releases have been very exciting for me.  I found the Live at Massey Hall 1971 recordings to be a refreshing collection of songs which I had previously known only by their studio versions.

This latest record (streaming in its entirety here) is a similar revelation.  It includes many songs that would appear on his S/T album the following year (“The Loner,” “I’ve Been Waiting for You,” “The Old Laughing Lady,” and the horrible “Last Trip to Tulsa”).  But I particularly enjoy the stripped-down Buffalo Springfield songs like “Broken Arrow,” “Expecting to Fly,” and “Out of My Mind” (possibly the most beautiful song on the album).

It shows what a skillful businessman Neil is that fans are anxiously awaiting his albums 40 years after they were recorded.

Make sure to listen to it at the NPR link above

Order here

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1960s, Live, Rock

“All these poor men in rich men’s clothes”

Gloria in exclesis deo

Gloria in exclesis deo

Zookeeper – “Snow In Berllin” from Becoming All Things [2007]
Zookeeper – “On Madison Way” from Becoming All Things [2007]

Chris Simpson was the primary songwriter for the bands Mineral and The Gloria Record and has been recording under the Zookeeper moniker for the last year or so.

I love Chris Simpson.  I love him forever.  His words are put together just perfect for old Phil Johnson.  And I’ll follow him wherever he may go.

It’s snowing for REAL for the first time here in sunny, sunny Pittsburgh, so here’s a track to celebrate.  Dance.  Dance, my friends, with Chris Simpson and his merry band of horns, harmonicas, massive drums, and squealing guitars.

Buy it. Buy it all.

Posted by Phil

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Filed under 2000s, Folk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

“Strange days have found us, and, through their strange hours, we linger alone.”

The Doors – “Strange Days” from Strange Days (1967)
The Doors – “People Are Strange” from Strange Days (1967)

I’m not sure how my fellow SWR-mates feel about The Doors, but I think they’re top-notch, as long as you can excuse Jim “Bozo Dionysus” Morrison’s poetic posturing. Morrison was a great singer, with a good sense of drama, a precise delivery, and a way with a holler, but as a wordsmith, the man often left something to be desired. Let’s not even think about “The End.”

But the songs! And the band! They wrote perfect little creepy pop ditties, immediate as a folk song, stuff that’d be at home on Broadway–unlike their contemporaries in Love or the Jefferson Airplane, they didn’t reach after odd baroque melodies, but wrote tunes so obvious you can’t believe you hadn’t known then already. And they played tighter and groovier than any other white rock group of the time, except for the Stones and the Stooges. And, to be perfectly honest, I like The Doors better than almost any other “psychedelic group,” including Pink Floyd or Love or even the Dead.

When The Music’s Over, Buy Some More

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1960s, Psychedelic, Rock

“I told you when I came I was a stranger”

mccabe1

Leonard Cohen – “The Stranger Song” from Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)

Songs of Leonard Cohen is Cohen’s first album.  Before recording music, he found success as a poet and novelist (the novel Beautiful Losers is his literary magnum opus…read it!).  Songs was released on December 27, 1967, which is the same day Bob Dylan’s return from oblivion, John Wesley Harding, was released.  I don’t know if album release dates were as big a deal in 1967 as they are now, but what a day for album releases that was.

I always have to stop whatever I am doing and listen when this song starts.  L. Cohen’s lyrics offer extraordinarily intricate ruminations on human relationships, and this song is a stellar example.  It’s about the uncertainty that is a part of every relationship, and how people are, simply put, strangers to one another, and there’s really nothing we can do about it.

This song is used to great effect in Robert Altman’s superb anti-Western film McCabe & Mrs. Miller.  The film’s soundtrack consists entirely of songs from this album.  The Stranger Song serves as McCabe’s theme, with Warren Beatty as the consummate stranger.  The songs seem to fit perfectly within the framework of the film, despite the album being four years older than the movie.  In fact, Cohen disliked the film after having first seen it, but later saw it again and liked it.  Altman’s films often warrant repeated viewings in order to fully understand them, and McCabe is no exception.

Another note which has nothing to do with this song; he visuals in McCabe remind me very much of those in There Will Be Blood.  This is not terribly surprising, given that PT Anderson was Altman’s protege for a while.  Also, both films take place around the turn of the 20th Century.  McCabe is set in the Pacific Northwest, and Blood is set in California.  When watching one film, I find it interesting to think of the events of the other film happening at the same time in a different part of the country.  I may very well be the only person who finds that interesting, but I’m OK with that.

Don’t be a stranger to Leonard Cohen

or to Robert Altman, for that matter

Posted by Adam

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Filed under 1960s, 1970s, Acoustic, Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Soundtrack

“Someone better talk this over.”

Dude, stop jacking my ball!

Dude, stop jacking my ball!

The Sea And Cake – “On A Letter” from Car Alarm (2008)
The Sea And Cake – “Midtown” from Oui (2000)

I really love The Sea And Cake. Breezy, funky, deceptively simple (or is that deceptively complex?), with killer bass tones. They play like a limber jazz group and write songs that seem to just hang in the air until you realize they’re permanently lodged in the folds of your scrunched rag of a brain. Good stuff to sing to yourself on a bike ride or a walk around town. Their new record, Car Alarm, is darn good, a great one for an autumn Sunday afternoon. Here’s a standout from Car Alarm as well as an old chestnut.

More TSAC on SWR

Sam Prekop (TSAC lead singer) on SWR

Buy your Sea And Cake and eat it too

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 2000s, Rock

“I can play along to every record/front and back every song”

Bread

Against Me! – “Rice and Bread” from As The Eternal Cowboy (2003)

My friend Becky asked me to make a guest post on her excellent vegetarian cooking blog, Meals; for Moderns. I wrote a bit about some Victory Loaves baked Monday in honor of the impending Obama win. Check out my bread (and Becky’s delicious blog, which will make you hungry) while listening to this Against Me! rocker.

Baby, I’m An Anarcho-Syndicalist

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 2000s, Punk, Rock