Thursday, October 29, 2015

I only fly away (Nelly Furtado) #478

Nelly Furtado I'm Like A Bird/ Party (Reprise)/ My Love Grows Deeper/ My Konos/ I'm Like A Bird (video) (Dreamworks, 2000)

Nelly has the X factor on I'm Like A Bird

It's damn catchy and it appeals to me from a lyrical point of view, although I'm constant in my love where she's warning of the opposite. 

It's the feeling of rootlessness that gets me. I like the wistful tone she sets up in the chorus. I don't know where my soul is, I don't know where my home is

Hmmm. She manages to tap into a modern zeitgeist/ conundrum - whether to settle an settle down or whether to explore. She means in a relationship. I'm taking a wider view.

Ultimately Nelly will opt for the adventure and so will I.

Hidden gem: Not sure if they are gems but the B side tracks are playful and delightfully experimental in musical approach. the video to the A side is a nice bonus.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I was good, she was hot (The Fratellis) #477

The Fratellis Chelsea Dagger/ Dirty Barry Stole The Bluebird (Fallout, 2006)

I must confess - not my CD single this - instead one a daughter left behind after leaving home. 

Why did I keep it? Probably for the start which is promising - sounds like Queens Of The Stone Age before we get the hook and then the movement into leery lager lads territory.

No denying it's catchiness but it's also kinda forgettable as well. Three minutes after playing it I forget how it goes.

Sadly that QOTSA promise in the bass and guitar riff doesn't have the back up from the lyrics department: I was good, she was hot? Really?

The video is entirely predictable.

Hidden gem: Not this time, sorry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The feeling took me down (Embrace) #476

Embrace Nature's Law/ Deliver Me/ Collide (Independiente, 2006)

I have a soft spot for Embrace. The vocals (Danny McNamara) and brotherly harmonies are big reasons. I'm a sucker for big gooey group harmonies that are this good.

Embrace tend to specialise in great piano lead ballads and great guitar lead pop. 

Nature's Law is a case in point. Starts off piano ballad and then morphs into guitar pop for the chorus. Not their best song by any stretch but still a cut above the norm. 

BTW - I've got slightly out of alphabetical order here - my CD singles are catalogued with the parent albums and not on their own like the vinyl singles - hence I'm going to miss some along the way and need to catch up from time to time. My bad!

Hidden gem: Guitar pop rules on the B sides. Again - not their best songs but worthy all the same.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

What a life I lead in the spring (Fleet Foxes) #475

Fleet Foxes Sun Giant/ Drops In The River/ English House/ My Konos/ Innocent Son (Sub Pop, 2008)

This five track EP - called Sun Giant, is a weird one. It actually came out BEFORE the debut album, but was recorded AFTER it.

If you know Fleet Foxes, you'll know what you're in for with the title track: pure harmonic brilliance that sounds like it came by way of a medieval cloister in the 15th century then became morphed by slave work songs and English rose folk singers.

Yes - that's right, like nothing else you've ever heard!

Hidden gem: The ethereal high jinks continue on the B side tracks. Gems abound. Shock horror: Drops In The River almost rocks!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Still no end in sight though I travel far and wide (Neil Finn) #474

Neil Finn She Will Have Her Way/ Faster Than Light/ Identical Twin (Parlophone, 1998)

Nil Fun has featured a lot so far in the singles countdown: as a member of Split Enz, as a Crowded Houser and now as a solo person.

Really this song could have been a Crowded House or Finn Brothers single. He has such a clearly identifiable sound.

A sound that borrows from the best in the universe. The Harrisonesque guitar and Beatle harmonies are intact on SWHHW: a pleasant song with a lovely hook that centres around the title.

Hidden gem: Both tracks are also from the parent album (Try Whistling This); Identical Twin was subsequently added as a bonus track. 

Neither stands out particularly - they are just superior songs, done by a master musician. Stuff this effortless takes a load of work!

Friday, October 9, 2015

We've got something (Evermore) #471 - 473

Evermore Slipping Away/ Oil And Water/ Pick Yourself Up/ Tears/ Colours Bursting (Warner Music, 2002)
Evermore Hold On/ My Own Way/ What's inside/ The Same As You/ So Fine (Warner Music, 2003)
Evermore Unbreakable/ Real Life (live)/ It's Too Late (live)/ Running (live) (Warner Music, 2006)

Evermore are a New Zealand band, originally made up of the three Hume brothers from down the road in Feilding (okay - actually about 90 minutes away to be more precise); drummer Dann left in 2012.

When they were a threesome
Their harmonic pop sound and Jon's soaring vocals are easy to like. 

The Oil and Water EP has Slipping Away as its lead off batter. The classic Evermore sound is there from the get go: those vocals, inventive pop arrangements, the Hume brother harmonies, singalong choruses, great musicianship, great production!

Hold on, off the My Own Way EP is a rock song with a sneery almost (almost) punk attitude. Blimmin' great song too!

Unbreakable comes from my favourite Evermore album: Real Life. A purple period (before the overblown Truth Of The World), the band were on fire with insanely catchy songs. Unbreakable itself knows it. A new confidence is evident. The sound is bigger. The song is huge! it's...UN-BREAK-ABBBBBLLLLLEEEEEEEE.

Hidden gems: The title song on Oil and Water is a gem but so are all these tracks! None, btw, including the A side, made the debut album Dreams! The boys move on fast. What is noteworthy are the guitar chops of the insanely talented Jon Hume! Tears and Colours...are, um, bursting with ideas! 

Same deal with the other My Own Way songs - this could side two of the unofficial pre Dreams album! My Own Way itself is a standout though! And then there's So Fine - a brilliant slab of attitude and driving riff rock noise that The Datsuns would love to call their own!

All of the live tracks on the Unbreakable Live EP are gems. Running is such a great song. All this and these CD singles still don't include my favourite all time Evermore song! That would be Light Surrounding You. Now that's entertainment folks!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Goddamn right it's a beautiful day (The Eels) #468 - 470

The Eels Cancer For The Cure/ Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas/ Exodus Part III (Dreamworks, 1998)
The Eels Last Stop: This Town/ Funeral Parlor/ Novocaine For The Soul by Moog Cookbook (Dreamworks, 1998)
The Eels Mr. E's Beautiful Blues/ Birdgirl On A Cell Phone/ Hospital Food (Live) (Dreamworks, 1999)

The background to the album Electro-Shock Blues (where these first two songs come from) is really harrowing. 

After three deaths (father,mother and sister) E found himself the only member of his family. 

His decision to write and sing about his situation on Electro-Shock Blues means much of the album is pretty bleak. But he's a very gifted writer and his black humour and way with a tune makes these songs not only heartfelt but highly listenable (go figure).

Cancer For The Cure clearly targets his mother's death but in an oblique way (if that makes sense). The weird metallic machine effects soundtrack what the Big Chief in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest hears. Then the song gets into its rhythm and some wild organ. All up - an unlikely, but effective singalong!

Last Stop: This Town is a jaunty number musically while the lyrics are another matter - You're dead but the world keeps spinning.

The third single in this set is from the third album (and I think their best): Daisies Of The Galaxy. E is still crafting superb songs - always catchy and pithy (full to the brim of pith), but now more playful and sunnier in tone. Mr. E's Beautiful Blues is a case in point - a fine rock song; E's vocals are brilliant.

Hidden gems: This time all the B sides are non album tracks (or live). Of them Funeral Parlor is a real hidden gem - second track on a CD single! It's only short but it punches above its weight. Likewise Birdgirl On A Cell Phone.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

This paint-by-numbers life Is fucking with my head (The Eels) #463 - 467

The Eels Novocaine For The Soul/Guest List/Fucker (Dreamworks, 1996)
The Eels Rags To Rags/Spunky/Animal (Dreamworks, 1996)
The Eels Susan's House/ Stepmother/ Manchester Girl (Dreamworks, 1997)
The Eels Your Lucky Day In Hell/ Susan's Apartment/ Mental/ Altar Boy (Dreamworks, 1997)
The Eels Novocaine For The Soul (live from hell)/ Manchester Girl/ My Beloved Mad Monster Party/ Flower (Dreamworks, 1997)

According to E, main man of The Eels, "Rather than sound like The Beatles I wanted to do as The Beatles did. They soaked up everything around them at the time, and then put their own stink on it". Great aspirations and job done on these four singles + EP off the debut album - Beautiful Freak..

Having said that, it was Beatle inventiveness, melody and spirit that is most definitely present and correct and what drew me to the band in the first place. 

The A side in each case is a standout from the album (yet still doesn't include my favourite all time Eels song - Flower).

Novocaine was an early favourite. E is a brilliant lyricist - Jesus and his lawyer are coming back!

Rags to Rags is a terrific fuzz tone rocker.

Susan's House is a flat out unbelievable song with a great set of stories on the way to Susan's house, and Butch on drums is superb.

Your Lucky Day In Hell keeps the quality control on high. Effortlessly, E crafts a great 10cc style pop song!

Finally in this set - The Novocaine...Flower CD single came with my copy of the album. They are all BBC Radio 1 versions. It's a great version of Novocaine - spoken rather than sung and pretty damn awesome!

Hidden gems: ...everywhere you turn on these CD singles. E was mining a rich vein during the Beautiful Freak sessions. Guest List, Spunky, Mental are standout album tracks. 

Fucker was not on the album but could easily have been (hey it could have been a double!). Great pay off line - I hate you - fucker, is delivered full of nuance (think Billy Bragg and his version of Walk Away Renee).

Animal ditto! Haunting piano and close miked E get inside your head.

Stepmother and the live version of Manchester Girl pull no punches - by now E's fearlessness has been well proven.

The BBC live version of Flower strips away the choral synth part (which I adore) and goes for a stripped back version. Makes it sound like a field recording from the 19th century - superb!