June 16, 2006

40 Early Rough Trade Singles

The Slits | In The Beginning There Was Rhythm

The increasingly corporate, irritatingly ad-riddled, but at the end of the day still very useful All Music Guide has published a cool annotated list of 40 singles from the first few years of Rough Trade. Nice to see some of the label's lesser known acts getting a mention. How many do you own?

40 Early Rough Trade Singles | Pt. 1 | Pt. 2 | Pt. 3

June 14, 2006

Groovin' With Mr. Bloe

Groovin' With Mr. Bloe

For those not familiar with Mr. Bloe (although many will have heard the title tune at some point), it's a fine and groovy slice of early 70s English beat driven easy listening, conceived by veteran (apparently) band leader Zack Laurence and featuring the harmonica of one Harry Pitch. (There's an Elton John connection as well, but I don't know if the released Mr. Bloe tracks are the same as the ones he seems to have played on). Bubblegum Northern Soul, or so I've seen this described; fair enough, much of this is definite club stuff. It might also be of interest to some that the Mr. Bloe sound, particularly as heard on the track 'Mighty Mouse', served as a blueprint for 'Ru Tenone' by Tim Gane of Stereolab's side project Turn On.

(Less famously, 'Groovin' With Mr. Bloe' was the second album I ever owned...)

June 07, 2006

MySpace sucks (but not always)

I hate MySpace. Apart from all the obvious reasons (it's addictive, it doesn't work half the time, Rupert Murdoch), I'm getting bored with the countless unsolicited friend requests from bands who consider themselves similar to something I've listed as a favourite, or are Norwegian. Because most of them are... well, rubbish really. But, as demonstrated to me twice in the last month (while not at all in the previous six), there are exceptions.

The Schla La Las

One such is The Schla La Las. Punky (as in garage), actually post-punky pop nuggets, 60s girl-group inspiration (matching frocks, but no, don't give me The Pipettes, not now), I couldn't resist accepting this particular add. And gleefully! The Schla La Las make me smile and dance and feel sexy and arrogant, and they make me want to turn up the volume and shout fuck off to all that's bland. (And to my neighbours.) They have among their members Delia, who is and has been in loads of other bands (including Mambo Taxi), and Piney Gir, who I discovered has a solo album out called 'Peakahokahoo' which is part Laura Cantrell, part Kathleen Hanna, part Julee Cruise, and deliciously awesome. But first, check out the great Schla La Las track below, and bear in mind the version on their current EP is much better!

The Schla La Las | Up For It

Darcey Hile

An even more wonderful exception is Darcey Hile. (I initially thought her adding was due to her surname being similar to mine; thankfully nothing so silly). A singer-songwriter out of Ohio by way of New York (at one point), Darcey Hile and band may, or may not sound like they're part of the so-called Antifolk movement. If you think Antifolk's a good thing, then by all means, but if not, well Darcey Hile is more than special enough to transcend any such comparisons. Beautifully emotional songs, haunting melodies, a pure, silken, soothing voice, sublime guitar playing (textures as well as tunes); this is soulful, jazz-tinged folk (-rock?) of the highest order. Think Diane Cluck, think Sonya Cotton, think Joni Mitchell if you will. "Something you oughtta hear..." her MySpace claims; damn straight! Listen to these songs and you'll most of all be thinking Darcey Hile from then on. Gorgeous!

Darcey Hile | Before We Kiss

I love MySpace. Sometimes.

EDIT OCT 16: Darcey's MySpace was recently deleted in favour of a new one for her band Vandermere. Check it out.