Friday, June 30, 2006

Cat Power on Planet Claire (Part 2)

This is the second post featuring Cat Power's sessions recorded for the French radio show Planet Claire Planet Claire.

This session was recorded on March 6th 2000:

Download: Cat Power - Satisfaction (MP3)
Download: Cat Power - Troubled Waters (MP3)
Download: Cat Power - Good Woman (MP3)

Buy: Cat Power records

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Free Strokes for everyone!

Are The Strokes still hip? Do people still use the word hip? Do people still use words? I care not, all I know is that after three albums I am still a sucker for The Strokes.

This is why I was pleased to discover that they have a free download available for a limited time on their Myspace page. The track is 'I'll Try Anything Once', a demo of 'You Only Live Once' from the album First Impressions Of Earth. It is also available on the B-side of their 'Heart In A Cage' single.

Download: The Strokes - I'll Try Anything Once (MP3)

Watch: The Strokes - You Only Live Once (Video)
Watch: The Strokes - Heart In A Cage (Video)

Buy: The Strokes records

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cat Power on Later... with Jools Holland

I just can't seem to get enough Cat Power at the moment! Here she is performing on Later... with Jools Holland last week.

The Greatest

Lived In Bars

Buy: Cat Power - The Greatest

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cat Power on Planet Claire

This is the first of two posts featuring Cat Power radio sessions recorded for the French radio show Planet Claire.

This session was recorded on November 20th 1998:

Download: Cat Power - The Winter Wind (MP3)
Download: Cat Power - Wild Is The Wind (MP3)
Download: Cat Power - Red Apples (MP3)
Download: Cat Power - Great Expectations (MP3)

Buy: Cat Power records

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday is for covers

It is so great when a band that you love covers a song by another band that you love. I guess it is kind of like the musical equivalent of your hot new girlfriend making out with your hot ex-girlfriend just to turn you on.

Here producer, musician and all round good guy Jim O'Rourke along with sticks-man extraordinaire Glenn Kotche cover English singer/songwriter Bill Fay's 'Pictures Of Adolf Again', the original version of which can be found on Fay's excellent 1971 album Time Of The Last Persecution.

MP3: Jim O'Rourke & Glenn Kotche - Pictures Of Adolf Again

Jim O'Rourke Website
Jim O'Rourke Myspace

Glenn Kotche Website
Glenn Kotche Myspace

Bill Fay Website
Bill Fay Myspace

The last bandit

Nikki Sudden's untimely death earlier this year was a real tragedy. A personal tragedy for those who knew him, and a tragedy for rock 'n' roll. The self-styled 'last bandit' died just shy of his fiftieth bithday, after playing a show in New York and just a couple of days before he was due to play in London with his long-term collaborator Dave Kusworth as their on-off joint-venture The Jacobites.

The first time I saw the Jacobites was also the first time I saw Nikki Sudden. It was in the early nineties when Nikki and Dave had recently reconvened after a period persuing various solo projects. And it was during this phase in Nikki's long and prolific career that I discovered them, to all intents and purposes when I bought my first Jasocbites album (which was their second) they'd split up and I didn't imagine I'd ever see them live. So I lived in hope of Nikki doing a solo show, but it never came.

I moved away from home, embracing student life rather fully and hadn't been back to see the folks for many, many months - eventually I gave in and hopped on a train, for my first weekend back 'home' since heading to the bright lights of the big city. Grabbing an NME to read on the way (remember, this was back in the days before it became a picture book) it wasn't until the station before mine that I flicked through the live ads and saw nustled in the listings for Islington's long-gone Powerhaus, Nikki Sudden & Dave Kusworth - Jacobites. This was friday, the show was Saturday. To this day I feel guilty for the lies I spun to get my dear father to put me in the car and drive me back to college on the Saturday morning (something about essays, deadlines and forgotten textbooks...) but I'll never forget that show. Raw rock 'n' roll, exactly the way it should be.

Download: Jacobites - When The Rain Comes (mp3)

Nikki kept alive a true rock spirit that by rights should have died with Johnny Thunders. Sure he was indebtted to his heros, but that's what I loved about Nikki, he wore his influences right there on his chest, right over his heart. He put his (lack of) money where his mouth was and hit the road... a true modern-day troubadour.

Download: Nikki Sudden - Great Pharaoh (mp3)

Of course it's hard to say anything about Nikki without mentioning Swell Maps, the divine noise group he formed with his brother Epic Soundtracks when they were barely out of short trousers. There's not a great deal that can be written about Swell Maps that hasn't already been said elsewhere, but if you're in any doubt as to their importance and the influence they've been on a thousand bands since (come to the front of the class Pavement, I'm talking to you...) then look no further than this recently rediscovered live recording from The Maps tour of Italy in 1980. It's close to impossible to listen to this and believe that a) it was recorded over 25 years ago and b) two of the driving forces behind the band are no longer with us.

Download: Swell Maps - Read About Seymour (live in Italy) (mp3)

Check out Swell Maps on MySpace for more superb live tracks.

The day before playing his final show Nikki played an acoustic show at The Cake Shop in New York (a place named after the Swell Maps song) which was captured by the splendid people at Punkcast who, apparently, also recorded Nikki's final show the following day. Hopefully that'll appear online in due course, but in the meantime, there's the video from The Cake Shop show to enjoy, including a surprising performance of the Swell Maps classis 'Read About Semour' and a new song 'Green Shield Stamps' from Nikki's as-yet-unreleased final studio album, which he planned to call 'The Truth Doesn't Matter'. It's classic acoustic Sudden,

Download: Nikki Sudden - Read About Seymour (acoustic) (mp4 video)
Download: Nikki Sudden - Green Shield Stamps (acoustic) (mp4 video)

Nikki Sudden's web site is being maintained as an archive in his memory.

The Big Store, Nikki's online shop selling his records as well as releases from Jacobites, Swell Maps and Epic Soundtracks is back online. Do yourself a favour, and pick up some records.

Dave Kusworth together with Max Decharne of the Flaming Stars has organised a special evening in tribute to Nikki Sudden - just like the one Nikki arranged a few months after Epic's death. The idea is for various friends and people who've played with Nikki to perform his songs during the course of the evening, culminating in a set of Jacobites songs with Dave singing.

The tribute gig will take place on Friday the 21st July 2006 at The Dirty Water Club, Tufnell Park in London - visit the Dirty Water Club website for a map and further details.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Saw Mill Man

Recorded in a shack up on Old Sand Mountain in Alabama, 'Saw Mill Man' by Cast King sounds like a great lost recording from Harry Smith's vault.

Cast King and his former band The Country Drifters recorded with Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in the 50's, however with limited success the band broke up and King left his music career behind him in the early 60's. Virtually disappearing for four decades, he was tracked down by Matt Downer, an Alabama native, who started making field recordings of local Sand Mountain musicians when he realized that a generation of songwriters and performers were dying out without ever being recorded. All the musicians that Downer recorded talked of one particular songwriter with high esteem, Cast King.

Author of approximately 500 songs, Cast King was 79 years old when Downer coaxed him into recording what would end up being his debut album. The result, 'Saw Mill Man', made during a series of 'picking sessions' recorded either to 4-track or onto mini disc sounds like something akin to Johnny Cash drenched in sepia and whiskey.

'Saw Mill Man' is a revelation of a record containing some of the best drinking and heartbreak songs you are ever likely to hear.

MP3: Cast King - Saw Mill Man

MP3: Cast King - Wino

Cast King & Matt Downer - Alabama Arts Radio Series-Interview (MP3)

Buy Saw Mill Man

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Heartworn Highways

Loose Records have just released a companion 'soundtrack' to the cult documentary 'Heartworn Highways'. The CD comes in deluxe 'whiskey bottle style' packaging. It is fantastic.

Filmed in Nashville and Austin in the mid seventies, 'Heartworn Highways' is a snapshot that captures the birth of the alt-country movement. Focusing on a small group of singer/songwriters including Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, David Allan Coe and Guy Clark at the start of their careers, this is a warm, intimate documentary that captures a number of inspired performances sure to instantly convert listeners and viewers into fans.

MP3: Guy Clark - L.A. Freeway
MP3: Steve Earle - The Mercenary Song
Townes Van Zandt - Waiting Around To Die (Video)

Watch the trailer
Buy the album
Buy the DVD

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sweetheart Of The Radio's Favorite Music Videos (Part 1)

Pitchfork are celebrating the genius of youtube by listing their top 100 Awesome Music Videos. Always keen to steal a good idea, here are some of Sweetheart of the Radio's favorite music videos:

Vincent Gallo: "Honey Bunny"
Directed by Vincent Gallo
from: When

A bunch of models (and Paris Hilton) revolving round a huge turntable in their underwear. What else do you people want?


Bob Dylan: "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
Directed by D.A. Pennebaker
from: Don't Look Back

An obvious choice, but what the heck.


Bobby Conn: "Never Get Ahead"
Directed by Bobby Conn
from: Truck Stop

Funny and cool... just like the authors of this blog.


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: "Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow"
Directed by John Hillcoat
from: No More Shall We Part

Before their collaboration on the quite brilliant movie 'The Proposition', Nick Cave and John Hillcoat team up on this little seen, but hugely stylish gem.


Fiona Apple: "Criminal"
Directed by Mark Romanek
from: Mark Romanek: Directors Series DVD

If loving this video makes me a perv and a bit creepy, so be it. Visually based around the aesthetic of snapshot photography this is a perfect example of how a great video can transport a mediocre song to a different level.


R.Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet (Part 1)"
Directed by R. Kelly & Jim Swaffield
from: Trapped In The Closet DVD

The most absurd, surreal, funny and brilliant set of video's I have ever seen, R. Kelly's 'Trapped In The Closet: Chapters 1-12' is a work of unparalleled (and almost certainly unintentional) genius.

Tapes 'n Tapes

I give in. I didn't want to like them, but I do.

When Tapes 'n Tapes were being applauded by shed loads of blogs earlier this year I delibeartely tried to resist the hype. I resisted for as long as I could, but I can resist no more and now I am jumping right on the Tapes 'n Tapes bandwagon.

'The Loon' is already one of my records of 2006 (even though it was originally released in 2005) and I am sure them recently signing to XL is going to do their ever expanding profile no harm at all.

Here are two of the stand out tracks from their outstanding album:

Download: Insistor (MP3)
Download: Omaha (MP3)

Official Website:

Buy "The Loon"

Monday, June 19, 2006

London, London

It is great when a cover version draws your attention to an artist or song that would have otherwise escaped your attention. This has happened most recently to me with Cibelle & Devendra Banhart's playful cover of "London, London". Taken from Cibelle's album 'The Shine Of Dried Electric Leaves', hearing this song (..well, actually it was seeing the video) made me check out the original by Caetano Veloso. And I am mighty glad I did!

Written while he was living in forced political exile in London during the early 70's, the original version of "London, London" would not sound entirely out of place on Love's 'Forever Changes' or perhaps one of Donovan's more hippy albums.

Here is the cover and the original for you to compare and contrast:

MP3: Cibelle & Devendra Banhart - London, London
MP3: Caetano Veloso - London, London

Buy 'The Shine Of Dried Electric Leaves' by Cibelle

Buy 'Caetano Veloso' by Caetano Veloso

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cat Power On Letterman

I love Chan Marshall.

Here she is performing "Living Proof" on The Late Show with David Letterman this week.

Buy Cat Power records

My Most Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People

The Late Cord are John Mark Lapham and Michah P. Hinson. Apparently. Two dudes from Texas who sound like dudes from Texas. On paper, a strange combination perhaps but with a laid-back fainlty gospel quality that matures well with repeat listening we should just be thankful this record even happened. It's not like either of these guys must have been short of things to do, with entirely respectable careers in their own rights.

The main refrain from 'My Most Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People' is strangely reminiscent of Nikki Sudden's 'The Bible Belt, which is a million miles away from being a criticism. It's a deceptively simple song based around a truly haunting melody that just lingers in the brain.

Download: My Most Meaningful Relationships Are With Dead People (mp3)

Buy the Wheels From The Lighthouse EP from 4AD

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Coral Sea

It's been (give or take) a year since Patti Smith's Meltdown. It's great that Patti's live re-performance of 'Horses' got officially released and I listen to it now actually far more often than the original recording. It's a real shame though that many other fine performances never get heard ever again... that's why I was really excited to discover this recording of Patti Smith and Kevin Shields performing The Coral Sea.

Download: The Coral Sea (mp3)

Buy My Bloody Valentine records from Rough Trade

Buy Patti Smith records from Rough Trade

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

New Bob Dylan Album!

According to a whole bunch of reports on the internet, there will be a new Bob Dylan album released around the end of August. Titled 'Modern Times', this will be the first album of new material since 2001's 'Love & Theft' and is said to conclude the trilogy of albums that begun with 1997's 'Time Out Of Mind'.

A number hand picked journalists were apparently given a playback of the album last week in New York, but made to sign legal papers agreeing not to talk or write to anyone about what they heard.

'Modern Times' will feature 10 new tracks. Song titles include "Workingman's Blues", "When The Deal Goes Down", "Ain't Talkin'", "Spirit On The Water", "Neddy Moore" and "Thunder On The Mountain".

I am sure we can all look forward to plenty of reviews and reports of the new record with the headline 'The Times They Are A-Modern'.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Campo Bravo

So my boss sends me a message saying - "You have to listen to this band" - with a link to the Campo Bravo MySpace page. I check it out and find myself more than pleasantly surprised. So here I am telling you - you have to listen to this band.

Hailing from Tuscon, Arizona, Campo Bravo is the musical vehicle for Mark Matos. Equal parts Neil Young, Giant Sand and Will Oldham, Campo Bravo play americana the way I love it best. Laid back, thoughtful, sad and heartbreakingly beautiful.

MP3: Campo Bravo - Former Mrs. Oklahoma

MP3: Campo Bravo - Ship On The Sea

Buy Campo Bravo records

Monday, June 12, 2006

J. Tillman

Some more tracks have appeared on Damien Jurado's MySpace page, and rather splendid they're sounding too.

But Damien's not the purpose of this post - oh no - rather, I want to write about another songwriter I was turned onto by Damien Jurado. Namely, J. Tillman. He's similar-but-different, if you know what I mean. Lazy, I know. Hell, just give him a listen.

I've been loving the tracks on his MySpace page and urge you to go give them a listen.

If you like those, you may want to check out these excellent tracks:

MP3: My Walking Days

MP3: Seven States Accros

MP3: Lilac Hem

MP3: Cecille, My Love

Buy J. Tillman's music from the Keep Recordings web site

When Serge met Whitney

Below is a clip of god-like genius Serge Gainsbourg meeting Whitney Houston on a French TV chat show in 1986. After his shenanigans here, Gainsbourg would never be asked to appear on live TV again, while Whitney's future behavior would make Serge's comments here pale in comparison.

If you do not own it already, no record collection is complete without Serge Gainsbourg's masterpiece 'Histoire de Melody Nelson'.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Spider - 'The Way To Bitter Lake'

One of the best albums I have come across so far this year is Spider's 'The Way To Bitter Lake'. Described as sounding like '..Sam Beam meets Vashti Bunyan; hushed, comforting and ultimately, beautiful and calming.' by Gorilla Vs. Bear. Spider is Brooklyn based Jane Herships, a smart, pretty lady writing smart, pretty songs. Beautiful!

MP3: Don't Be Afraid, I've Just Come To Say Goodbye, "The Ballad Of Clementine Jones"

MP3:Maggie's Song For Alice

Click here to buy the The Way To Bitter Lake from CDBaby

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

God bless you Swell Maps

Swell Maps - Midget Submarines

Swell Maps - Let's Build A Car

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Damien Jurado

It has been just over a year since the last Damien Jurado released his last album 'On My Way To Absence' and he is very close to having another one in the bag already. On his MySpace blog he reports:

"after months of recording and now mixing... the new album is done. ..we still need to have it mastered but i'm calling it done. the end result is fourteen songs. i'm still trying to come up with a title for the album and two of the songs which are ..well untitled. as for a release date we're looking at october... which is fine by me. i need time this summer to just deal with things and spend time on painting... (and riding mopeds)"

In the meantime for those who cannot wait until the album comes out, Damien has been so kind as to post a new song:

MP3: Carver Street