I’m keeping today’s music post short and sweet, as I’m currently looking into different ways to do my weekly music posts to see what works best.
Anyway, tonight Colin Hay (successful in his own right as a solo artist but also famous as the front man for Australian 1980s band Men At Work) was on a music quiz show we watch over here, and my house mate and I began to discuss his songs, before my house mate began playing his songs on the guitar and I pretended to sing along (well, I did sing along, just not very well).
Anyway, the point is, one of the songs that we started playing/singing was the Men At Work song Overkill. It’s an absolutely beautiful song, and recently (well, probably a decade now but whatever) made famous again after Colin Hay himself appeared in an episode of the comedy Scrubs playing the song at numerous points. It’s personally one of my favourite episodes of that show, and I’m pretty sure his appearance and this song have a lot to do with it.
So here’s a clip that someone has stitched up to include all the moments he appears playing the song in that episode in lyrical order. Although I really love the original album version, with blasting saxophones and all, I also love this stripped down acoustic version which manages to retain all the emotion that Hay has worked into the song. Enjoy!
The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by Steven Wilson
Steven Wilson is one of the busiest people in the music business, almost constantly either working on a new album with one of his various bands (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield and Storm Corrosion to name but a few), or helping produce, mix or remaster albums by many other progressive rock bands new and old. This is his third solo effort, less than two years after the highly successful Grace For Drowning, and if you liked that work you’ll love this. It has six songs, averaging close to ten minutes a song and jumping around in genre between prog rock and jazz and everything in between. Each song tells a story of sorts, all of which are of the usual dark themes one would expect from Wilson. I absolutely love this album, and it is definitely going to be in my top ten albums of the year. If you’re looking for intelligent music, go no further than this! The clip I’m including is of the song Luminol, being played live last year long before the release of the album – even at this point the song was pretty tight:
Ghost On Ghost by Iron & Wine
With his last album, Kiss Each Other Clean, Iron & Wine moved away from his folk roots and towards a more 1970s pop sound. With this, his fifth (or is it sixth) offering, he continues this direction only adding more elements of jazz and even funk into his music. While many who have been listening to him from his earliest beginnings a decade ago might be disappointed by this new turn in his sound, I personally love it, and love the fact that he was daring enough to try something so different. The song I’m going to include is called Lovers’ Revolution, and is a pretty good example of what to expect from the rest of the album:
The Terror by The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips are a very strange band. They always have been very weird and quirky, and have been about as alternative as you can get, but I quite liked a number of their albums, particularly last decade with the likes of The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and At War With The Mystics. But then they released Embryonic, and things just got a bit too weird even for me. The Terror is one of those albums which addresses all sorts of interesting existential issues, and had so much potential as a concept, but simply isn’t pleasant to listen to, which I tend to think is the primary objective of music. I like to be challenged with music (Steven Wilson is awfully good at this), but I just listened to this with a look of despair and confusion on my face. Perhaps some Flaming Lips fans will love this, but it isn’t for me. Not terror-ble (sorry, I had to make the joke), but nothing amazing. The clip I’m including is at least entertaining to watch, and is of a song called Try To Explain:
Are you a fan of any of these artists? What are your thoughts on their new directions?
Hugh Laurie shot to fame over the last decade for playing the lead role in the medical drama House, but he was known long before that in some parts of the world as a very funny, and very British, comedian. And those who have seen his comedy from decades past may perhaps recall that he often would play the piano or guitar and sing on regular occasion (even if for comedic effect). With a second album on the way, it’s clear that Laurie has now chosen to focus on his music aspirations, and his new album is supposed to follow on from this debut work in which he played and recorded a lot of his favourite songs from the New Orleans blues scene, alongside many other famous blues musicians. He is insanely talented and his music is very catchy and uplifting – just listen to his take on “Swanee River” and you’ll see what I mean:
En Concert by Jack Johnson
This is perhaps one of my favourite live albums of all time, recorded during his “Sleep Through The Static” tour of 2008. Released in 2009, the album features performances from a number of shows, many from Paris but also some from other parts of Europe and the UK. The set-list features a lot of my favourites, although to be honest I love everything this guy has ever released so I’d be pretty difficult to disappoint. The song I’ve included contains footage from the film that accompanied this album (of the same name), and is of the songs “Belle” and “Banana Pancakes” – just try and listen without smiling, it’s impossible I tell you:
Mirage Rock by Band of Horses
I only discovered this band a couple of years ago, but I really love their Americana styled vocals, and their ability to jump between sweet and melancholy ballads, folk songs and upbeat rock songs. What I find particularly impressive is that they seem to keep improving as their career spurs on – four albums in and they sound stronger than they ever have before. They’re one of those bands who seem to have become popular through word of mouth, but looking at the figures on some of their clips on Youtube, they have definitely achieved a substantial level of success, as they deserve. Listen to the lead single and album opener, “Knock Knock”, and you’ll see why I like this band so much:
Do I really need to introduce this masterpiece, which just last week celebrated its 40th anniversary? Released in 1973, Pink Floyd’s 8th album is easily their most successful, remaining on the charts for nearly 15 years (no, that wasn’t a typo, it was about 740 weeks if my memory serves me correct), and selling around 50 million copies across the world. It explored a lot of universal themes, such as the passing of time, war, greed, and mental illness (influenced by the deteriorating mental state of Syd Barrett, who founded the band but left after two albums). Musically it is best enjoyed listening to the full suite from start to finish, although it did have singles including “Money” and “Time”, the latter of which also had “Us and Them”, my favourite track and a song which sneaks up on you and seeps under your skin, as the b-side, and it is this song which I’m including as the clip:
Chaos And Creation In The Backyard by Paul McCartney
Released in 2005, this album is considered by many to be one of McCartney’s finest solo works in a very long time, and I for one agree. Working with Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck) as his producer, McCartney was challenged during the writing of this album, often being told bluntly if his songs were not good enough, and being forced to play most of the instruments himself (much like on his albums McCartney (1970) and McCartney II (1980)). What results is some of the best material he has written, songs which have been honed continuously through the long process of making this album, and music which is also quite reflective and intimate for McCartney – while the album has plenty of upbeat moments, it is generally a more quiet affair. The track I’m including is the first single, “Fine Line”:
Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin
This is one of my two favourite albums by this band (the other is Led Zeppelin III, and I cannot for the life of me pick between them). Their 6th record was released in 1975 as a double album, featuring 15 songs that are among the most varied ever collected on the one work by these guys – from long drawn out rock songs like Kashmir and In My Time Of Dying, to funky moments like Trampled Underfoot, to upbeat, almost silly songs such as Boogie With Stu, and then the simple classic rock songs such as Houses Of The Holy, The Rover, and more. I have often said that Led Zeppelin are a deeply misunderstood band, judged on the songs that appear on their “best of” collections which, to me, do not show the full range of their musicality. One listen of this album from start to finish and you’ll know what I mean. The song I’m featuring is a live rendition in the 1970s of “Kashmir”:
Are you a fan of any of these bands/artists or albums? What are your favourite moments on these albums, all of which are classics in their own ways?
A couple of months ago I mentioned the release of an EP by Bob Evans, The Double Life EP, which also featured a couple of songs from an upcoming album, it turned out. The twelve tracks which make up Familiar Stranger are widely varied in sound, and are a definite move away from the acoustic-guitar driven songs from his first three solo albums (Kevin Mitchell – his stage name is Bob Evans – is also the frontman for Aussie band Jebediah). Instead this album is layered with various pop sounds, with a lean towards nostalgic pop in places, with lively songs such as lead single “Don’t Wanna Grow Up Anymore” and “Maps” bound to get you tapping along, while being alternated with softer, sweeter songs such as “What Else Is There?”, “Wonderful You” and “Sitting In The Waiting Room” (which might not sound sweet until you get to the end of the song). This album has been on non-stop in my car for a week and I suspect this won’t change any time soon. Check out the second single here, titled “Go”:
Mala by Devendra Banhart
Devendra Banhart is a Venezuelan American singer-songwriter who, for the last decade, has released a string of albums that are a blend of folk rock, psychedelic rock, latin music, and probably a whole bunch of other genres too. Generally quiet in mood, his music often has a slight cheekiness to it that is bound to put a smile on your face, and his eighth album, Mala, is no different. It picks up exactly where his last album left off, with a generally upbeat atmosphere, quirky songs that are definitely among the most mainstream he has written thus far (which isn’t a bad thing), and even dabbling in some entirely new sounds. If you’ve never heard of his music, now is a good time to start by listening to this album. The song I’ve included is called “Never Seen Such Good Things”:
All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu by Rufus Wainwright
I’ve mentioned Rufus Wainwright at least a couple of times before on my blog. However, this album stands out among his catalogue as something different – the entire album consists of only a piano and vocals, resulting in some of the most intimate but intense songs he has ever written. He also used this album as a way of dealing with the passing of his mother (who, like everyone in his family, was also a musician), and so there’s a melancholy tone running throughout, which only adds to the atmosphere. With his classically trained voice complementing his incredible piano skills, this album feels surprisingly big and full for such a simple set up, which is testament to his abilities as a musician and song writer. The song I’ve included is one of my favourites off the album, the beautiful “The Dream”:
What music have you been listening to this last week?
His fourth album along now, many long time fans of Matt Costa’s work will probably view his latest, self-titled piece as a return to form, for lack of a less cliché expression. His first two albums quickly established a unique sound in the way he writes songs with sweet pop melodies and a voice to match, which was suddenly thrown to the wind with his third album, Mobile Chateau (which, for the record, I really liked). But elements of his older song writing have crept back on this album, which tends to vary greatly in atmosphere with some very soft and quiet songs being interspersed with some quite loud and upbeat songs, such as the lead single “Good Times”. It’s not my favourite album of his by any means, but after only a couple of listens it is fairly solid. The clip that follows is a live rendition of the song “Silver Sea” off this album:
Life In Slow Motion by David Gray
David Gray’s 2005 masterpiece is also one of his most popular albums, and came as a surprise to fans at the time due to the way he had recorded it – after recording his previous two albums at home, he made this in a much bigger studio – an old church that had been transformed into a studio, which he had bought off Dave Stewart. The result was a much more bold and epic sounding record, and as far as I’m concerned much more beautiful song writing – Gray himself counts the songs on this album as some of the best he’s ever written, and one of my friends admitted to me when she first heard this album she was so overwhelmed by it she just cried. The song I’ve included is the (almost) title track, “Slow Motion”, which while not a single still remains one of the most powerful moments of the album:
Only Sparrows by Josh Pyke
Josh Pyke is an Australian singer and songwriter who has made quite a name for himself by writing folk-pop songs with poetic lyrics and melancholy undertones. This is his third album, released a couple of years ago now on the back of his hugely successful second album Chimney’s Afire, and while this record didn’t mirror its predecessor’s success, it is still a worthy album and shows Pyke as an ever changing and always growing songwriter. The song I’ve included, while sadly lacking an actual video clip, is my favourite song off this album, and also the opening song, called “Clovis’ Son” – listen to the lyrics and you’ll see why I like him so much:
Have you heard any of these albums? What are your thoughts of them, and of the songs I’ve included here?
In this slightly delayed post (hence the Monday Music and not Sunday Sounds) I am looking at two very new albums – the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s film Sound City, and David Bowie’s new album The Next Day, as well as a classic album by Crowded House.
Sound City (Soundtrack) by Dave Grohl and various others
Some of these various others I speak of include Joshua Homme, Alain Johannes, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Rick Springfield, Corey Taylor, Lee Ving, Robert Levon Been, Chris Goss and more. The film, directed by Grohl, is a sort of tribute to, and exploration of, the ‘human element’ in music – how we can keep music ‘human’ in this digital age. Naturally a film that will appeal to musicians, songwriters and producers, the soundtrack features all of the musicians who came together to write a rocking good album to go with the film. For more information on the film, check out the trailer here. The song I’ve included is called From Can To Can’t, and features Corey Taylor with Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen and Scott Reader forming the rest of the band.
The Next Day by David Bowie
His first new album in about 10 years, Bowie’s release has already stirred up a strong reaction in its first few days on sale, rocketing to number 1 on the iTunes charts in over 20 countries on its first weekend. While some good marketing through social media certainly has helped with this, the hype is actually quite warranted – Bowie has delivered an impressive album, full of the creativity and quirky song writing that helped cement his reputation over 4 decades ago now. No two songs on the album sound similar, keeping it interesting until the very end. Not many artists can remain so good at making music this far into their career, but then, not many artists are David Bowie. The clip I’ve included is for the song The Stars (Are Out Tonight), but a word of warning – the actual song doesn’t start until about 2 minutes into the clip:
Together Alone by Crowded House
This is the fourth album by Aussie and New Zealand band Crowded House, and, released in 1993, it also marks the last album to feature the late Paul Hester (who died shortly before the CH reformation in 2007 (they broke up with a famous concert on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 1996)). This has long been my favourite album by these guys, even though I can’t quite pinpoint why. Overall, it’s perhaps the least pop-oriented album of their first four, though it still had a lot of big radio hits, including Pineapple Head, Locked Out and Distant Sun. Just listen to this clip of Distant Sun and you’ll see why I love this band so much (and why I consider Neil Finn one of the best songwriters on this side of the planet):
What are your thoughts on Bowie’s new album and the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s new film? Have you heard much from this Crowded House album?
Arj Barker is a Californian born comedian who has enjoyed so much success in Australia in the past decade he now lives here (though I suspect there’s a little more to it than this). Known mostly for his stand-up comedy, he has also appeared on numerous talk shows and was a character in HBO’s surprise hit show from New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords (the show shared the band’s name).
But first, on to his stand-up comedy…
Arj’s comedy style is hard to define, as he flits between clever observationist humour and bizarre surrealism, all of which is filled with his incredible energy and wit. Just as comedians like Billy Connolly are at their funniest when angry, Arj really hits his stride when he allows himself to become worked up about things – the more undeserving of his wrath it is, the funnier. We’ve all probably, at some point, thought that the water resist aspect of watches becomes pointless after a certain depth, but Arj manages to drag this out to a long rant and keep it hilarious the whole time.
Another one of my favourite sketches of his is this following one, in which he discusses the predictive text feature of mobile phones, before cleverly making fun of it in a way that almost makes him look like he’s lost his marbles for a few seconds. This is probably one of my favourite moments of all his stand-up I have seen, and I am sure you will see why very quickly:
Lastly, he appeared in Flight of the Conchords as Dave, a friend to main characters Bret and Jermaine, a New Zealand music duo trying to make it big in the US. In this particular clip, they are suffering racist abuse from a fruit vendor, and Dave in his infinite wisdom shows them how to deal with it. It is quite funny, though a bit rude (don’t play this with kids around), and the ending is hilarious (especially to those of us from this side of the world…you’ll see why):
What are your thoughts on Ark Barker’s comedy, both on stage and on screen? Are you a fan?
Velociraptor are an awesome garage-pop band from Brisbane, largely inspired by the sixties music scene. They take their love for times past one step further with this 8 song EP, with its clear 80s arcade-game themed cover art, not to mention this theme transferring into the video clips they’ve made for several songs off this short album. There’s a lot of energy here, and considering they’ve gone from a 3 piece to a 12 piece band, I can safely assume they would be amazing live. The song I’m including is a fun clip called “Riot” – even if you don’t like the music, it’s hard not to enjoy the film clip:
My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters And Men
I’m not entirely sure if I even need to introduce these guys, considering their enormous success over the past year around the world (the clip I’m posting up has 50 million views on Youtube, to give you some clue as to the size of their popularity). The folk/pop/rock band from Iceland released an album that is at once catchy and quite intelligent, rarely becoming repetitive throughout (something which is an issue with some of these newer folk bands, not naming any names (oh okay, Mumford & Sons. There, I said it)). They have an enormous following in Australia, gaining number one status with their album, and almost topping the Triple J Hottest 100 list for last year (they came second). Their biggest single, “Little Talks”, has a pretty cool clip too:
Variations On A Dream by The Pineapple Thief
Those who read my list of favourite albums from 2012 will remember me mentioning these guys then with their latest album. Variations, however, is one of their oldest albums, initially released in 2003. At this point their sound was much more progressive, and a lot less hard rock, with several songs on the album hovering between five and ten minutes in length, slowly building layer upon layer. There is something similar through all their albums though in the way that the songs are written, and there is always a certain beauty to them which has drawn me in (this was the first album of theirs I heard, and I was an instant fan). This song, “Part Zero”, while showing their influences quite clearly, is a good example of how the album sounds on the whole:
What have you been listening to this week? What do you think of the albums on my playlist this last few days?
Have you ever watched a movie that was so bad it was good? I know I have, and there are plenty out there that fit under this description. But then there are some movies that are so ridiculous, you can hardly believe anybody even bothered to spend the time or money to create them. Here are some trailers for some of these films.
You know what would be a great idea for a horror movie? Anything except the story of a killer rubber car tyre that leaves a trail of death and destruction behind it. Which is essentially what this film is about, believe it or not. While I laughed during the trailer, I can’t imagine having the patience to watch this film the whole way through.
A film about a second Titanic ship that sails a century after the first one, and pretty much suffers the exact same fate. Laziest story ever, and I just hope they didn’t think anybody was actually going to take this one seriously. It looks pretty terrible no matter how you approach this movie.
When a scientist creates a mutated animal that is essentially a cross between a shark and a giant octopus as a new weapon, it goes on a killing spree and…that’s about it, really. I did nearly choke with laughter the very first time I saw this, a couple of years ago. This is one I would watch just for the laughs.
What terrible movies (or trailers) have you seen? Do you ever watch movies just because they look so bad they might be good or funny?