Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Best Friend Is You

Kate Nash: Yes, we all love her cute little accent. And we also adored her debut album, not because it was deep, or even musically thrilling, hell half of the songs were just C and F chords. Why did we love it? It was cutesy. It made us want to dance. It made us feel like we were 11 years old again: not a little girl anymore, but not yet a woman: a tween in the truest sense of the word. It gave us our youth back, and for that, I commend Nash and her cutesy music and accent.

Nash's latest endeavor is entitled My Best Friend. It's all the cutesy music you loved from her first album...again. The album opens with "Paris", a blaring intro with a cutesy piano riff jumping in. It's fun enough to dance around to, I suppose (although MIKA's "We Are Golden" is a much better dance-around choice). The songs are about as deep as the kiddy pool at the park. With lyrics such as, "kiss that girl, I will shrink her, and I will die and I will think up a thousand ways that I can hurt you and you will never touch my hand," ("Kiss That Grrrl") you'll almost believe her threat by the 25th time she's repeated the chorus.

By the time you hit track three, you might feel a little ripped off. Don't worry, Kate's got some ukulele and what sounds like a xylephone. This sounds great, until the first line of the song, "barbeque food is good." Really? The song ends with some ranty monologue that sounds like a pre-teen girl's rant, reminiscint of Andrew McMahon's in "I'm Ready" (Jack's Mannequin, Everything in Transit). The next track, called "I Just Love You More" is...just that. It's the most original thing (compared to the rest of Nash's material) on the album. Lots of screaming and some attempt at hard guitar. I detect hints of punky-girl-garageband-grunge. The album follows with Do-Wah-Doo (I'd like to be on that plane...actually maybe not, I think I would kill myself from this music), a catchy little jam that you'll want to listen to twice and then again in another two months.

Skip the next few tracks (you're not missing much), to track 8: "Mansion Song". It's a vulgar, monolgue that I think is supposed to move or offend you. It's reminiscent of Pistachio Nut, which is actually a decent poem (at least I like it). "Mansion Song" is a nice break from the unbearable pop, but it sounds so forced (you know that person who has to stress "fuck" everytime they say it? yeah, that's Nash). Skiping "Early Christmas Present" and "Later On" we get to "Pickpocket", which is what Nash is best at really, just playing a simple piano riff and singing. Honestly, this is where she's best. Give her a piano and take away the pop licks and you've just got a girl and her words.

The album closes on "I Hate Seagulls" (which is the first line of the song actually). It reminds me of "Birds" (Kate Nash, Made of Bricks) from her previous album. Following the end of the track is a welcomed few minute silence followed by the "hidden bonus track", which is quite short. Not as good as "Little Red" (Kate Nash, Made of Bricks) the hidden bonus track from her debut.

Like I said, Nash makes us feel like we're not a child anymore, but not quite a woman either: a tween, if I may say so. Her debut was released three years ago though, so I'm wondering, when are we going to grow up? I can only listen to so many pop songs about boys with the same chord progression for so long.

Anyways, I give My Best Friend Is You a 5.6/10. Unless you really want to hear it, I'd skip it and pick up The Apples in stereo's Travelers in Space and Time.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I don't know what happened here, but I guess nobody's around anymore. Hm. Maybe there's a reason. Maybe there isn't. Either way, I'm going to get to the bottom of this. Just wait...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Noodles: Lite Pop

Lite Pop is the first EP released by the Japanese all-girls band Noodles after their label hop from Benten to Sawao Yamanaka's (of Pillows fame) Delicious Label, and you can truly hear the difference.

Here Yoko, Junko, Ikuno and Ayumi come out with the rocking guitar-pop title track in "Lite Pop," which proves to be a veritable, rolling rock song, in contrast to their sentimental, pretty songs from Benten. It keeps up the rocking mood with "Ootobai" [Motorcycle], then move right along into the catchy girlish "Small Small King." Following is the beautiful and dreamy ballad "think," and the disc comes to a close with a grungy, brief, and no-nonsense rocker, "OH OH."

Time-wise, this EP isn't very long at all, but the material is worth its weight in gold (for any Noodles listener, casual and avid alike). With this, the band established a certain signature sound, that seemed to be lacking in previous records. This is where they started as the baby- doll vocalled, pop-rocking aura they have now. Overall, I would say 4.8 out of 5 glasses of milk for this one.

Friday, February 5, 2010

OK Take Two

Let's try this again.

I'm still scratching my head why post #1 got removed. So far nobody has told me to fuck off so I can only assume for the time being that either (A) It was accidentally removed and whatever dipshit did so isn't up for owning up to being a dipshit (for the record I much prefer self-confessed dipshits to closet dipshits), or (B) It was maliciously removed for one of two reasons - either (B.1) Some egotistical bampot who loves Animal Collective and has a gripe with me thought it would be funny, or (B.2) Some Prozac-fuelled fascist doesn't like us putting out anything negative. Thanks to my propensity for paranoia, I'm swaying towards B.1, and if that turns out to be the case then I know EXACTLY where to look. But in the unlikely event of it being B.2 please let me say this - the random release button on CLLCT is like musical Russian roulette. I tried three times and if I'd clicked it one more time then it would have felt like I was proving that the button doesn't work.

Today, I'm going to put my listening fate back in the hands of the Random Release button again, and hopefully I'm going to prove that it DOES work and that there are real gems of DIY music just waiting to be discovered there. Those of you who already dig CLLCT as much as I do, now's the time to hold your breath with me and cross every finger and toe.

Here we go:


Okay, so that's quite spooky, but at least it proves that it DOES work.

I know this record like the stigmata'd backs of my own paws. I even sailed with the guy who wrote it on an imaginary ship for a few months at the end of last year. For those of you who don't know him, Simon Piler is an American experimental folk-poet who has been recording with the Atom Band (a quite insane collective of musically talented individuals) for the best part of the last decade. KINGTIME is his most recent album, written and recorded in two months during the autumn of 2009 in Alaska for an Invisible Box-Set.

If you're familiar with his work then you'll be pleased to know it is more of the same. Traditional folk songs like 'ROLL' (perhaps my favourite Simon Piler song of all time), sit side by side with weird instrumental and spoken word interludes. Sounds drift in like electronic insects, vocals wail like Dylan on ecstasy, lullabies leap, and hissy lo-fi anthems roar. Check out the quite disturbing 'King TV' to see/hear how weird it can get. For now there really isn't an easy place to start with this music - every record is heavyweight, like the tip of an iceberg, and there are copious interviews and notes kicking around the internet that reveal some of the depth of thought that goes into making them. This isn't everyone's cup of morning coffee - it isn't a pick-me up shot of melody, but speaking from experience it can be one of the most inspiring slow-burning things you will hear. Some of you will hear it as a bamboozling little home-made opera about King Midas, and some of you will stagger away from it feeling like you want to know more, maybe even do more yourself. I think that's the thing I love most about Simon Piler - he is a charmingly complex singer-songwriter and very, very infectious.

There are albums of his I like better tha KINGTIME, but like I say, there's no shallow end to this. So hold your nose ,cross your toes and jump on in at the deep end. I give it 9/10 (just because you might as well hang up the songwriting hat if you ever hit 10 - see Jeff Mangum).

*Again I know that I am involved in the making of this record, mainly by taking the cover picture in some really weird acid-drenched woods in Scotland, and by writing one of the songs on it. But fuck it.

So that went better this time I think. I'm presently on a cloud high above Sydney (Australia, as opposed to Sydney Texas where I'm supposed to be), and I received the small fat middle-aged moustached Spaniard as requested for my services here. As yet still no sign of an orange hand or a Winona Ryder blow-up doll, and 'Pancho' (I'm calling him this, he doesn't speak a word of English and seems quite bewildered about the cloud situation) is unable to tell me about when the rest of my payment is going to show up. I'm back in Glasgow next week for some kind of vegetarian/animal rights concert that my childhood best-friend's wife is organizing so I'll try and check out some of the bands when I'm there and report back. Personally I feel quite hypocritical being a fox and a meat-eater turning up, but there's a back-stage pass and apparently Stella McCartney and Natalie Portman are going to be there, so I can't really say no. The last time I went to one of their charity gigs I ended up drunk and unconscious on an ice rink while my mate and the lassie from Belle and Sebastien skated around my head. Expect more calamity.

Yours sincerely

Willoughby Toad

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here's one that was deleted earlier...

Something the hipSTARS of the world need to know:

Animal Collective is not as good as you think they are.

Get over them and yourselves.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review: Great Lakes - Diamond Times

8.0 / 10

2006 - 2007

Ben Crum and Dan Donahue have written the most
charming and comprehensive album of their careers in Diamond Times. Declaring this the underrated album of the decade would certainly be going too far, but it is unquestionably a remarkable and under-appreciated work. The Great Lakes of the early 2000s, albeit a splendid one in its own right, may or may not have put down the green stuff for this record. Whatever the turn made, it surely was one for the better. This Elephant 6 satellite group abandoned the comforts of suburban Georgia and relocated to Brooklyn in preparation for the wowing of the world.
Leaping on board for this effort are Athens friends Bryan Poole, Dottie Alexander, Kevin Barnes and James Huggins - all sporting of Montreal green jackets. Other contributors include Matt Stoessel , Heather McIntosh (Circulatory System and the Instruments), and Chris Ziter. The album was recorded with the help of Jason Nesmith aka *Casper* of Casper and the Cookies fame.
It mixes the style of early Beach Boys call and response, Bad Brains-esque guitar riffs ("Hot Cosmos"), base lines Chris White would eagerly approve of, and an uplifting country twang on "Night Hearts" that you'd find if Dolly Parton and Pete Townsend ever met on the Bayou. Then, toward the end, the title track unfolds for three minutes of who-knows-what, leaving you speechless. The song is almost like something you'd hear in a movie concerning '20s Chicago gin joints if there were rock and roll in those days. Ben takes on a 21st century Tom Petty tone for the gorgeous "Horses Wings" that could pass for a Wilbury outtake. The "Eagles and Swans" outro is a rather boring, toned-down end to a sonicly impressive half hour of totally unique music.
It'd be a 9 if there was a little more mixup in the arrangement. All in all it's a fantastic listen, but it's not going to be on any top 100 lists of the future. Listen for yourself.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Explosions in the sky

Explosions In The Sky's "The Earth
Is Not A Cold Dead Place" is absolutely amazing. Explosions is an instrumental-only group and they are truly masters at it. Words cannot describe how I felt the first time listening to this album. Truly beautiful.


- Mike

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review: White Guys Jumping - The Lettuce Tree

Album: The Lettuce Tree
Artist: White Guys Jumping (RIP)
Year: 2007
Rating: 11/10

This album has it all, soaring highs, somber lows and everything in between. Songs about an umbrella saving everyone from certain death, to songs about wet dreams, this album is not one you can listen to expecting anything, you just have to enjoy the ride.

The instrumentation is astounding; Guitars, piano, singing saw, drums, and probably others I've failed to mention, all played by one Cameron Clarke. That's right, White Guys Jumping was just one guy.

To truely be able to understand how significant this album is, you have to look at the album prior to Lettuce Tree. The Meaning of Life, which came out the year before contains mostly loud noises shouted into a mic and cheesy synths, with the occasional strumming of a guitar (Although I can be found humming along to the first track "In The Trunk" from time to time). A year later the Lettuce Tree came out. Now I had heard The Lettuce Tree before hearing The Meaning of Life, but upon hearing it, it made me reconsider an album I already considered to be 10/10 and brought it up to an 11/10. This album is a masterpiece and I mean that with every inch of my being.

Cameron still makes music under the name "Cameron Clarke". Go figure.

You can stream or download the Lettuce Tree, here:

and if you're interested enough, you can check out The Meaning of Life, here: