…where I might present you as a chaste virgin…

I’m off to Brittany soon! But I do have time for one more post. It’s a good’un too.

Maher Shalal Hash Baz

Maher Shalal Hash Baz are the vehicle of Japanese singer Tori Kudo, and are one of the many bands signed to the fine K Records from Olympia, Washington. If you went to Sunday School as a child you may know that Maher Shalal Hash Baz was the name of one of the prophet Isaiah’s sons. It means something like “Hurry to spoil! Make Haste to plunder!”, and it was a prophetic name the Lord instructed Isaiah to give his son. If you didn’t go to Sunday School, well you’ve got thus far not knowing this, and your probably none the worse for it.

I have no idea what it means to Tori Kudo, although he does seem to have a bit of a “thing” for Old Testament references. What does it all mean?

The songs themselves are odd shambling things with a simple charm to them that I really like. I also really like the brassy arrangements that Kudo gives his songs. Out on K Records is their most recent album L’Autre Cap which is full of short and quirky numbers that are either child-like or just plain childish (I can’t quite decide) – I think “naivist” is the term…

To be honest, they sound like a bunch of friends getting together for their second or third practice, still getting used to their guitars and trumpets. But I mean that in a good way, you understand.

In fact, various incarnations of Maher Shalal Hash Baz have been releasing records since the beginning of the 1990s, so unless Kudo operates a Zappa-esque approach to man-management, we can assume that the band haven’t just met, but are actually executing some fiendishly clever naivist plan.

Whatever. I just think they’re great and you can be sure that I’ll be filling my (recently purchased on ebay) iRiver with more acts of shambolic brilliance for the Brittany trip.

K Records give you one download – the glittering “Different Daylight” with its unnervingly odd drum patterns – but to be honest, one’s all you need…

Different Daylight

And then there’s this video of the same song, which appears to include members of the audience having a bit of a go too. Wonderful stuff.

A Comforting Deathly Silence Will Accompany You Now

Ridiculously pleased to get a text from Al asking me if I fancied a trip to the Shush Club last Thursday to see Family Machine. I think this is now the fourth time I’ve seen Oxford’s shambling country rockers, but such is the dry spell that we’re having at the moment, I jumped, nay leapt, at the chance.

The Shush Club was a new one on me, but it turns out to be another acoustic evening running sporadically at Monty’s in Cheltenham, organised by a feller called Vince Freeman, who gigs around the area and has recently won some sort of award for his songs.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with Monty’s, not really my sort of bar and the sound was pretty poor, but hey, it was free! Family Machine were pretty good, although forced to cut their set a little short, and were a pretty friendly bunch to chat to beforehand.

Little Lost David

Probably the best part of the evening though was a set by Sheffield duo Little Lost David. Yeah, it took me a while to see past the name (surely the worst, I’ve heard in a long time…), but actually they were pretty damn good. Made up of a guitarist, David J Roch and drummer, Chris Basford, their songs were gothic, compelling affairs with Roch making excellent use of some haunting falsettos. They really grew on me.

I tried to record a couple of numbers, with only limited success, (my Zen Plus, being still not really upto the job), and I was going to post them here because I couldn’t find any other downloads, but somehow stumbled across these on Last.fm. (I didn’t realize they did downloads…). They’re far better than my recordings and well worth a listen.

Waltz for Elliott

Cutie Pie

I think Al was also quite taken by the pair, and who knows maybe we’ll see them in Gloucester?

What’s freedom, babe?

Seems about time for another of these. I’ve heard some good records this month, one of which I’m a little uncomfortable about… Can you guess which?

Lucky Seven 8
In the River – A Hawk and a Hacksaw
Odyssea (Giant Swarm Remix) – Fussible
Foghat Digs Holes in Space – Gong
Full Moon Over the Shopping – Jah Wobble and the Invaders the Heart
Mo – Murcof
Train Song – Pentangle
The Wind – Shukar Collective

The Shukar Collective track is well weird, a kind of Gypsy Drum and Bass thing; the Murcof track is also excellent, really quite creepy, and the Pentangle track a favourite of mine for some time…

Lucky Seven 8

Cool is a word that’s tossed around very casually these days…

But I love this.

The first thing that I’ll do is throw my arms around you

I’ve neglected you, I know. It’s not that you haven’t been on my mind. (and if I made you feel second best…)

Actually, I have sat down a few times in the last fortnight to bring you some new stuff but, to be honest, I haven’t really come across anything all that good…

The best thing I have heard this month is actually rather poignant, but I’ve drawn an absolute and complete blank when it comes to finding out more about the artist.

Last month, I wrote about the wonderful Dengue Fever, who’ve since then played Glastonbury and I get a feeling are going to be something special, and since then I’ve tried to hear some of the original Cambodian music that so attracted the Holtzman brothers. I came across a wonderful Blog called Horse Drawn Zeppelin, which is pretty eclectic (to say the least) and which had this post, from which I was able to download a magnificent mix tape of Cambodian Sixties pop, called “Cambodian Swing Machine”.

Really, I can’t recommend it enough.

Cambodian Swing Machine

And, waddyaknow, the second track on it turns out to be what is presumably the original version of Dengue Fever’s “Tiger Phone Card”.

It’s great, easily as strong as the Holtzmans’ version, with a guitar break that is probably even better. But that’s as much as I can tell you about it, taken as it was from an original cassette, whose liner notes were all written in Khmer, so I don’t even have a name for you.

The only other thing I can say about it with any degree of certainty is that the writers and performers are almost certainly dead, having disappeared along with the whole Cambodian Swing scene into the whole, awful Cambodian black hole of the seventies. A genuine tragedy or what?

So, anyway, snag this, if you liked the Dengue Fever stuff, and then go along to Horse Drawn Zeppelin and download the whole album, even if it’s only to pay your respects to a small piece of pop history, tragically caught up in one of modern times’ most brutal episodes….

Track 2 – Cambodian Swing Machine (Tiger Phone Card)

And never let go…