June 27, 2010

Last Train to Lhasa - Banco de Gaia

Tomorrow Y Brawd flies to Shanghai. Expect possible intermission in posts owing to China Inc.’s block on Blogger. A work around will be attempted but, just in case, here’s a little something apposite to tide us over. Super intelligent dance music from Toby Marks.

 Join free Tibet

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 26, 2010

The Mildew Leaf - The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree

Fruit of the Deserted Village collective, this 2004 debut would seem to document travels around the UK, northern France, Channel Islands and the isles and captures performances in both English and Gaelic.

Traditional sounding but – like all the best folk music - one with a feeling of strangeness running through its heart. Those who can’t get enough of The Wicker Man soundtrack would do well to look here.

New release Soup and the Shilling reckoned good too.

Some Magickal Folk the other day, or "4 Get Lost on Geography Field-trip":

Track-listing in Comments

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 23, 2010

L'enfant Assassin des Mouches - Jean Claude Vannier

This is one of those records that you can’t believe whilst you’re listening to it; maybe someone spiked your drink? Or maybe you are actually dreaming, it doesn’t really exist? Haunted by the ghost of Gainsbourg this record is real, you really need it in your life – Jarvis Cocker

This kind of record could not be made today: who would pay for this brilliant suite of instrumental concrete madness? – Jim O’Rourke

Oddi wrth y brawd
like flies to wanton boys

June 21, 2010

The Psychedelic Furs - The Psychedelic Furs

Thus ending the current run on guitar based 80s indie bands, here’s one from the dawn of the decade. While they would of course go on to enjoy more commercial success and much bigger hair, let’s remember The Psychedelic Furs this way: lean, hungry and, quite frankly, thrilling. The UK kids swooned to Richard Butler’s rakish rasp and the pulsing post-punk melodies. By the time the US got it the game was sadly up.

Oddi wrth y brawd

Today / On Fire - Galaxie 500

And so 80s UK indie ploughed a hyperkinetic guitar furrow and told kitchen-sink stories of love lost and found. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic an altogether more interesting distillation of the VU legacy was taking place, and one best epitomised by the slow-motion guitar washes of Galaxie 500 whose blissed-out melancholia and elliptical narratives anticipated the shoe-gazing psych textures of the 90s. Galaxie 500 were one of those bands whose music – rather like Nick Drake's - has a deep emotional impact at the moment of listening while also managing to pass by almost unnoticed from one track to another.

An impressive if compact and overlooked body of work. Here's hoping a recently re-issued clutch of CDs will redress matters.

Oddi wrth y brawd
on fire

June 19, 2010

George Best Plus [Bonus tracks] - The Wedding Present

FIFA World Cup Fever finally catches up with Y Brawd. Magnificent cover image and a hyper fine set of songs. While Gedge & Co would go on to more majestic heights in the early 90s with Seamonsters, this 87 collection is their definitive C-86 revved up indie-pop statement.

Oddi wrth y brawd
all this and more

The Milk-Eyed Mender - Joanna Newsom

A missive from Pastaman who attended this year's Matt Groening curated ATP. See Comments for full review of PVY's weekend thrills. (Psst. I think he likes her really).

THE DREADED CENTRE STAGE QUEUE - The biggest pisser of them all this, although it only happened the once this time, as we dutifully filed in line to be allowed into the presence of some harp playing Kate Bush tribute act currently milking critical acclaim. The DSCQ occurs when for whatever reason it is decided to clear that venue in readiness for the next act to set up. For the most part they don’t bother doing this, most acts will set up and sound check with an audience out front and some even dispense with the formality of leaving the stage for a brief period before making their official entrance. Not so Joanna Queuesome. A line started forming a good half hour before the end of Spiritualised main stage set on the Sunday night and by the time I’d joined it stretched the length of the Pavilion and out the back door and eventually to the end of the fun fair. And you couldn’t even get a go on the dodgems. By the time we were let in to the Centre Stage area and Joanna simpered and plinky-plonked her way into the first number she was almost half-an hour behind schedule, I was not kindly disposed and even less so when it meant the Raincoats playing over on Reds also had to be held back until the end of her set because “Joanna plays so quietly”. Grrrrrr
Aw, c'mon. With music this good how can you stay pissed off with the heaven sent harpist? And latest Have One On Me is her best yet: 3 discs and not a smidgeon of padding. Kate Bush comparison increasingly bang a good way. Though the smart-arse comparsion to make is with Roy Harper.

Oddi wrth y brawd
sing, harpy

June 18, 2010

Gainsbourg Versions Femmes - Various

Like many misogynists, Serge loved the ladies. And the ladies, by and large, they loved Serge. For one, he wrote songs the ladies love to sing. For two, his songs set beauty in miniature and flatter the plainest voiced songstress naif. His music brings out the innate beauty in the base and imperfect. Is it sexist to suggest that few women find this resistible? Probably. Now go listen.

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 17, 2010

Propellers in Love - Arnold Dreyblatt and The Orchestra of Excited Strings

Currently Professor of Media Art at the Muthesius Academy of Art and Design in Kiel, Germany, Arnold Dreyblatt is an American media artist and composer. He has charted his own unique course in composition and music performance, inventing a set of new and original instruments, performance techniques, and a system of tuning. Often characterised as one of the more rock-oriented of American minimalists, Dreyblatt has cultivated a strong underground base of fans for his transcendental and ecstatic music with his Orchestra of Excited Strings.

Dreyblatt's ensemble, consisting of altered, adapted, and prepared instruments are in just intonation and play drones or repeated tones, setting up heady resonances with a continually changing and complex matrix of overtones. By adding drums and other percussion, and by writing fast, sometimes furious tempos, Dreyblatt avoids the dreamy and sometimes stultifying effect that is a part of so much drone music. The entire six-part title track is lively and vibrant. High Life is similar in spirit to La Monte Young and Alvin Lucier, with its nonstop drone and lavish array of overtones to inspect and exult in. –Option
Oddi wrth y brawd

June 16, 2010

The Best of Sweet - Sweet

What constitutes a guilty pleasure? Well, here goes:

1. Band/music, in its day, universally popular with “the kids”.
2. Short tenure in limelight followed by calamitous falling out with fickle dame fashion.
3. Subsequent exile to naff pop purgatory wholly resistant to genuine (cf. ABBA) or national treasure status (cf. Tom Jones) type rehabilitation / reappraisal.
4. Liking for said band/music bereft of ironic cachet.
5. Lest we forget, corking tunes avec un soupçon de nostalgie.
6. And here’s le clincher, an insistent voice whispering that in a right-thinking universe this music is boss.

Turn up the sirens!

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 15, 2010

Come, Arrow, Come! - Festival

Come, Arrow, Come! is terminally precious in its mix of modern folk and psychedelic tropes with a thin veneer of what the Festival seem to think music sounded like in the days of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. [The] affected delivery… and the slapdash arrangements sound like the work of musicians with only the vaguest sense of what the records which inspired the Festival actually sounded like.
Thus proving the fallibility of, this incredibly mean-spirited review of Festival’s debut ignores the guts and gusto of a thoroughly charming first outing: a bit of breath and friends are sometimes all you need. Band’s name consists of one word, and still the reviewer gets it wrong – go figure. Even better, go listen and make up your own mind.

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 14, 2010

Nos Du, Nos Da - Meic Stevens

Meic Stevens yw’r dyn. Dyma rhywbeth hyfryd o 1982.

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 13, 2010

Exuma, the Obeah Man - Exuma

Exuma: the name of one of the Bahamas' largest islands, also, a spirit balanced between the worlds of the living and the dead; Obeah: an Afro-Caribbean tradition of sorcery.

Mixing powerful Afro-Caribbean rhythms with shamanistic exhortations and vividly Obeah-inspired lyrics, often this feels more like eavesdropping on a tribal ritual than listening to songs. Exuma and his accompanists make a spooky clamor with their bells, foot drums, chanting, gasps, sighs, shouts, and other percussive instruments, creating a mood both celebratory and scary.

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 12, 2010

Has Been - William Shatner

Shatner/Kirk – where does one end and the other begin? Much of the hilarity to be gleaned from The Transformed Man, his first effort put out towards the end of the first Star Trek run, comes from the yawning gap between blinkered over-reaching ambition and steaming turd reality. It has of course since entered the canon as a stone cold cult classic. Produced some 35 years after that rum if compelling debut, Has Been suggests that with age comes self-awareness and, dare we say, wisdom. Shatner is firmly in charge, not Kirk. Where TTM works as novelty, HB just works.

That’s not to say there aren’t laughs to be had – there are – the title track for example is a real winner, yielding chuckles over repeated listens. The difference is we’re laughing with a Shatner who’s not above slipping us a knowing wink. When it comes, the humour is intentional, and it works. This is though first and foremost a music album and much of the credit goes to main songwriter and all round mid-wife Ben Folds.

The spoken song-poems we might expect are present, correct and oddly affecting. Shatner conjures up some genuine pathos in a Nick Hornby co-penned That’s Me Trying, about a father trying his best to reach out to a long estranged child – a highly personal theme given Hornby’s own family story. So too is a poem written by Shatner (bear with me now) about the personal tragedy of finding his wife dead in their swimming pool. Not the grisly freakshow one might suppose but a moving piece of art, so there.

As if more recommendation were needed, it opens with a corking cover of Pulp’s Common People. It’s the closest we get to Kirk doing a Mr Tambourine Man, and yet, you guessed it, it works.

Who’d have thunk it eh?

Oddi wrth y brawd
the rehabilitated man

Of course Y Brawd could not pass up an opportunity to revisit past Kirkian glories. Here are two prime shanks of cured ham. The first has James T. acting up a storm (and having a "moment" with Spock), the second perhaps the best extant example……of the randomly…….placed pause (watch Bones' expression as he struggles not to laugh in Shatner's face).

June 11, 2010

The Wall of Sacrifice - Death In June

What was it about the 80s that gave rise, in certain quarters at least, to a fascination with mittel Europa ennui, industrial soundscapes, flirtations with fascist imagery, gay musings on freedom in deviancy, which then all seemed to morph into a dark neo-folk? At the silly end of the spectrum this gave us Midge Ure vamping around Vienna on a chilly evening. More credibly we had Marc Almond’s solo work, and so on until we reached the scarier climates of Coil, Current 93, and, here, Death in June. No surprise that both John Balance and David Tibet made up part of the revolving group of collaborators on this, Douglas Pearce’s ongoing project.

For some reason the hardcore frequently favoured shaved heads and the liberal application of khol eye-liner.

The Wall of Sacrifice bookends a set of neo-acoustic apocalyptic folk - think Dead Can Dance with added doom – with two longer experimental pieces. The opening track is a relentless barrage of martial rhythms, triumphant horn flourishes sampled from  old German marches, all driven forward by repetitive piano riffs. Not everyone’s cup of sturm und drang but music to these ears. The similarly epic closer, Death is a Drummer, conjures up more ghostly military music against a droning hypnotic pulse. The sparser acoustic pieces in-between may be a safer point of entry for the wary.

Oddi wrth y brawd
giddy giddy carousel

June 08, 2010

Dream Letter, Live in London 1968 - Tim Buckley

Top drawer snapshot of where he was at, at the time. Which was a better place than where he would be some 5 years later. Extras: painfully cool intro from audience dude.

Oddi wrth y brawd

June 04, 2010

Come Write Me Down - The Copper Family


Rough, raw and rare old collection of standards by venerable Copper Family old guard. Can you have too many versions of Spencer the Rover? Not when sung like this.

Oddi wrth y brawd
all writ down

June 03, 2010

The Wyrd Meme - Alasdair Roberts

If anyone can lay claim to Robin Williamson's starry mantle, it's Alasdair Roberts. Breathing the same bardic air as his 60's acid folk progenitors, Roberts makes music both expansive and timeless. A compelling weave of the traditonal and innovative. And now of course, a Wire magazine cover star! Like this EP then check new album: Too Long In This Condition.

Oddi wrth y brawd

Plus check out another free EP DL at ayrtime

June 02, 2010

Satori - Flower Travellin' Band

And so we come to the mighty Flower Travellin' Band. Check out the video and see if this is for you.


Oddi wrth y brawd
mighty Joe, young

June 01, 2010

浮世の夢/ Ukiyo No Yume [Dream of Floating World] –  エレファントカシマシ [Elephant Kashimashi]

1989. Back when they was young guns, songwriter Hiroji Miyamoto still did his quiet-shouty thing and the riffs had the Led Zep chug. Articulate lyrics (yeah…) and a clutch of more tuneful slowies make this a first rate introduction.

Oddi wrth y brawd