The first Left of the Dial DJ set took place yesterday in Dukes Bar, Glasgow. Dukes is a a great bar with nice staff, good beer and a trusting nature in allowing me, Noel, Alastair and Michael to play songs for the evening. We will be back in Dukes at some point but in the mean time check out the setlist below.
Music lovers all over the UK are in for a treat this Saturday, April 20, as Record Store Day rolls around once again. The day, which came into being back in 2007 in the USA and the UK the following year aims to celebrate independently, owned record stores everywhere.
It is a one-off day annually, bringing together record stores, musicians and fans alike as a collective to rejoice in the art of music. There are exclusive vinyl and CD releases but the heart of it lies in the appreciation of the former of those formats. Over the last number of year’s vinyl records have experienced somewhat of a renaissance, this return to the purest form of listening and resurgence in sales has placed greater emphasis on Record Store Day.
It has once more awakened the imaginations of musicians and encouraged them to look at their music as a complete concept, from record sleeve to the music that lies within, something that has been lost in an increasingly technological age. Furthermore it has put pressure on bands to come up with something new/unique to release on the day or at the very least to reinvigorate previous material by re-packaging it in some way.
There are bountiful fresh releases from contemporary artists, but a lot of the content is comprised of exclusive releases from well-established bands for Record Store Day that will only be sold from in-store locations. In addition, past legends such as Jimi Hendrix and the Shangri-Las will have previously unreleased material available to purchase on the day. And David Bowie has also chosen the day to release limited edition tracks from forthcoming album “The Next Day.” Check out here all RSD releases.
For record enthusiasts among us it is viewed as one of the most important dates on their calendar, it is an opportunity to purchase something special, a record released on that day only, with a limited number of copies available. In a time when multi-national record stores are dying away, (as many independents have before them) there is no better time to get out and support those well-worn survivors of the capitalist storm, so let’s all go out and find a musical gem this weekend!
Based on the successful book of the same name by Graham Jones, Last Shop Standing is a 50-minute documentary looking at the growth of record shops on the high street in the 1960′s, their decline in the age of the CD in the 1980′s, downloading in the 1990′s and how those record shops still standing have made it to 2013.
Working in the music industry since the 1980′s when record shops were a common meeting place for music fans to share and discover, the closure of so many of these shops over a period of only a few years provoked Jones to find out what had caused such a rapid decline.
As well as providing a great overview of the history of the record and those shops responsible for getting them into the hands of the public it’s the personal stories shared by the record shop owners interviewed that make this film so special. Jones travelled up and down the UK interviewing record shop staff, owners and fans about their own experiences.
The film features interviews with musicians and record shop fans Billy Bragg, Richard Hawley, Paul Weller, Clint Boon and Johnny Marr. It’s the latter who provides one of my favourite quotes of the film;
Record shops are like libraries for your ears.
From the funny to the bonkers to the have your hankies at the ready Jones and team have created a superb documentation of the communal and tangible experience of buying records from shops rather than online.
The timing of the film is rather poignant. Although vinyl sales have been on the rise for the last number of years, the high street in general is in decline. This has been caused by many of the same reasons record shops started closing, such as cheaper prices offered by large supermarkets and people shopping so frequently online, rather than venturing outside to deal with the 3D people. So if we don’t want the high street to be filled with domineering supermarkets alongside bookies and pounds shops the film’s message to support independent record shops applies even more widely to all smaller owned and family run businesses.
Last Shop Standing is being promoted in conjunction with Record Store Day 2013 (20 April) with screenings happening now and the DVD of the film available for purchase in independent record shops this Saturday. Find out here which shops have it in stock. The film has rightfully got people talking and hopefully thinking, from not only the UK and throughout Europe but as far afield as Beijing and Australia, with screenings being organised globally.
Good Vibrations chronicles the life of Terri Hooley, the record-store owner instrumental in developing Belfast’s punk-rock scene in the late 1970′s.
Whilst all his friends take sides and take up arms Hooley decides to open a record shop in Belfast’s Great Victoria Street, at that time the most bombed half-mile in Europe, and calls it Good Vibrations.
Not the immediate uniting success he hoped, it’s Hooley’s discovery of Belfast’s local punk scene that supports his belief that music could cross political boundaries and unite people no matter what part of the city they came from.
With London record executives not willing to come to Belfast to hear what local bands had to offer, Hooley decided he would create a label to release the tracks that ‘everyone must hear.’ Rudi’s Big Time was the first track released on the Good Vibrations label with future releases also including The Outcasts and The Tearjerkers.
News of the support Hooley was giving to the Belfast punk scene spread up the road to my home town of Derry, with the label’s most renowned release being The Undertones Teenage Kicks. Hooley was instrumental in getting the EP into the hands of John Peel with the revered DJ famously playing the song twice in a row on his BBC radio show and naming it his favourite song of all time. You can hear Peel talking about Teenage Kicks and watch a tribute to the DJ, the band and Hooley here. ‘It’s a mighty, mighty record.’
Despite Hooley living and breathing music, he wasn’t so good at making money from it with the film also depicting Good Vibrations financial woes; showing that even before the digital age it wasn’t so easy to make a buck from music.
Good Vibrations is a great reminder of (and introduction to those hearing this music for the first time) the passionate bands that came out of Northern Ireland during the 1970′s. One of the best lines in the film is when Hooley’s character explains to a packed gig crowd why all these bands are coming out of Northern Ireland.
“New York have the haircuts, London the trousers but Belfast has the reason.”
But what makes me love this music is that the lyrics aren’t dominated by bombs and guns and political struggle but simply the struggles of growing up anywhere at any time. Their lyrics focus on teenage kicks, self consciousness, perfect cousins, parents and love affairs, themes everyone can relate to.
One of my favourite scenes in the film is Hooley giving a lesson on how to correctly fold the record sleeves for Teenage Kicks. His dedication to Good Vibrations is something which every music fan, DIY promoter, record shop owner and musician can surely relate to. If like me you spend all your spare time listening to music, discovering new artists and promoting the music you love then Good Vibrations will bring a huge smile to your face and make you thankful for the existence of people like Terri Hooley: ‘The Godfather of Belfast Punk.’
If you’ve yet to see Good Vibrations, view the cinema listings for Ireland and the UK here. Then prepare to find your local record shop. Living in Glasgow I’m thankfully spoilt for choice with my favourites being Monorail and Mixed Up Records.
Get a taster of the bands signed to the label by listening to Good Vibrations: The Punk Singles Collection. My favourite track on here is Self Conscious Over You by The Outcasts which I’ve had on repeat since seeing the film last weekend.
Dead Gaze release the video for I Found the Ending from their forthcoming compilation.
Cole Furlow, bassist with Dent May is the lead singer and songwriter of Dead Gaze. The band have been together for a number of years but have a bit of a piecemeal discography made-up of cassettes and 7-inches.
Thankfully corker tracks like I Found the Ending will be providing this summer’s soundtrack with FatCat Records pulling together a collection of the band’s musical highlights for their self-titled debut album.
Despite the video for I Found the Ending featuring a simple day in the life, the song itself is an addictive and delicious dream-pop track which will definitely have you hitting repeat. You can watch the video here and stream the track below.
The Dead Gaze LP will be released on 1 April in the U.K and 21 May in the U.S.
I absolutely loved Youth Lagoon’s debut album The Year of Hibernation. Therefore I was pleased when Dropla and Mute, two tracks previewed from its follow-up revealed it should be just as hypnotic.
The tracks will appear on Wondrous Bughouse is the sophomore album from Trevor Powers and his Youth Lagoon moniker.
The album resulted from what Powers describes as “Becoming more fascinated with the human psyche and where the spiritual meets the physical world,” with the repetitive chorus on Dropla of “You’ll never die, you’ll never die, you’ll never die” revealing this fascination clearly.
Powers is showing a great knack for transferring his passion for the psychological and other-wordly unknown into beautiful and atmospheric soundscapes.
Wondrous Bughouse is released on 5th March 2013 on Fat Possum and I’m confident this will be one of my top albums of the year.
Get lost in the wondrous sounds of Dropla and Mute below.
Colour Me Obsessed: A Film about The Replacements charts ‘The Mats” from their first show as The Impediments to their 1991 onstage breakup in Chicago, and all the ups and downs in between.
Directed by Gorman Bechard, the documentary doesn’t include any traditional music documentary content such as live footage of the band, or even their music but instead focuses on the memories of the band’s fans. The film’s name plays on the band’s track, Colour Me Impressed, which featured on their second album, Hootenannay.
Interviewees include, Steve Albini, Husker Du’s Grant Hart and Greg Norton, one of my favourites given their similar music journey; both hail from Minnesota, achieved critical indie acclaim but then jumped to bigger labels not quite achieving the success predicted for them.
Joining Husker Du are Jim DeRegotis, and Greg Kottwo, music journalists and DJs I love for their Sound Opinions podcasts on WBEZ Chicago, and it was great to hear them share their live Replacements stories.
The interviewees also have some “I am actually seeing these people on my screen” moments, with actor Tom Arnold (Roseanne’s ex hubbie) and George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) being massive Replacements fans! I’ve watched Cheers since seeing the documentary and it’s made me shout “Norm” even louder than usual at the screen in respect.
Although I took offense at The Goo Goo Dolls saying if you listen to their music you can completely tell they were influenced by The Replacements; NO YOU REALLY CAN’T!
Explaining the reason behind his unique filming approach Bechard says,
“I wanted to give the band god-like treatment, but I didn’t want to make a VH-1 where-are-they-now style documentary. People believe in god without ever seeing or hearing him or her,” the director says. “I’d like viewers to believe in the band that way.”
This documentary does really well what a great music documentary should do including putting their music on straight after in beloved excitement, has you remembering how you personally discovered the band and your pride in yourself for doing so. The film’s tagline of, “The potentially true story of the last best band, The Replacements”, shows that although this is yes, a documentary which by nature is about reflecting the true story of the band but highlights that The Replacements are a band whose mystique lives on, no matter how many anecdotes are shared.
Finally it makes you ask yourself that all important question…What’s your favourite Replacements track?
Here’s a couple of mine…
Love You Til Friday (Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, Twin/Tone Records 1981)
Unsatisfied (Let it Be, Twin/Tone Records, 1984)
Androgynous (Let it Be, Twin/Tone Records, 1984)
Bastards of Young (Tim, Sire, 1985)
Alex Chilton (Pleased to Meet Me, Sire Records, 1987)
You can purchase Colour Me Impressed: A Film about The Replacements on DVD as of this month and you can also stream it below, for a limited time.
I came across So Cow when looking for more guitar drenched pop music to include on a playlist I was making also featuring, The Television Personalities and The Clean. Within 30 seconds of hearing the track Casablanca I was hooked.
I thought I’d discovered a new, indie outfit but upon further research I learnt So Cow, was initially the solo project of Irish multi-instrumentalist Brian Kelly, who released the self-titled So Cow album back in 2009. That was followed a year later by the long-player, Meaningless Friendly, released by Chicago’s brilliantly named, Tic Tac Totally Records. This link with the United States has continued with the now three piece having already played loads of gigs stateside and most recently, they received excellent reviews for their performance at CMJ in October.
The latest So Cow release is a rollicking split LP, with Dublin garage-pop band, Squarehead. Have a listen to the LP below and buy it here for your own price above the bargain starting point of $7. We can also look forward to the third So Cow LP in early 2013, produced by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof.
The Whitest Boy Alive-1517
Siouxsie and the Banshees-Dear Prudence
The Velvet Underground-Rock & Roll
The Pop Group-She is Beyond Good & Evil
Au Revoir Simone-The Disco Song
The Clean-Tally Ho
The Dream Syndicate-Tell Me When It’s Over
Arthur Russell-I Like You
Josef K-It’s Kinda Funny
Blank Dogs-Leaving the Light On
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone-Old Panda Days
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti-Kinky Assassin
Sly & the Family Stone-Family Affair
Television Personalities-She’s My Yoko
The Staple Singers-I’ll Take You There
Cocteau Twins-Cherry Coloured Funk
Brooklyn based quartet Widowspeak will kick off 2013 in style with the release of their second album, Almanac on 22 January. I loved the haunting sound heard on the band’s debut album and was glad it came across just as well when I saw the band play at SXSW back in March.
To accompany the album’s release, Widowspeak will be doing a short set of gigs in the United States; there’s no European dates as yet but here’s hoping they make an appearance at some of next Summer’s festivals, if not headlining their own European shows.
Almanac was recorded by Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate) and will be released by the nice folks at Captured Tracks.
Listen to and download the lovely, Ballad of the Golden Hour below. In return for this freebie, don’t forget to buy the album from the Captured Tracks store or support your local record shop when it’s released (if they have the good taste to stock it….).
02 Dyed in the Wool
03 The Dark Age
04 Thick as Thieves
06 Ballad of the Golden Hour
07 Devil Knows
08 Sore Eyes
11 Spirit Is Willing
12 Storm King
01-22 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
01-23 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
01-24 Washington, DC – Black Cat Backstage
01-26 Middletown, CT – Wesleyan University Eclectic House