Secret Santa

RedlightssmallPart of the @lpgrp Christmas festivities for this year was to organise a Secret Santa mixcd for each other, using new or new-to-you tracks for 2013 only.

It was fun and I got all sorts of new music from the mixcd that I got. I enjoyed the whole thing so much that I started burning copies of my own offering for other non-twitter buddies and members of my own family. And you know, I’ve come to look upon you, dear old Partly Porpoise reader, as part of the family too.

So here’s your copy, complete with brief liner notes (originally written for the less clued up members of my circle – you’ll have heard me rabbiting on about most of these records already…)

Merry Christmas!

Secret Santa CD


Secret Santa ’13 – Liner Notes

New Records of 2013

The Sing – Bill Callahan

The only words I’ve said today are “Beer” and “Thank you”

Bill Callahan’s been recording for years as Smog (loads of great albums to discover, I like Supper and Dongs of Sevotion best, but they’re all great). This track comes from Dream River, which is a lovely, thoughtful, quiet record, released this year.

Frosted Tips – Califone

In the old, watching the new world die

Califone have also been around for a good while, but “Stitches”, which came out this year, is their first record for ages. I really like their slightly glitch, junkyard countrified sound. Lyrics are pretty much in comprehensible, I’m afraid.

Master of My Craft – Parquet Courts

Forget about it!

I love this! No idea who Parquet Courts are (Google it yourself…) but they certainly don’t hang around. At 3:10 it’s pretty much the longest track on the album! Top tune, no fuss, in and out quickly…

Loadstones – The Fall

Shoes for the dead! Shoes for Loadstones!

Saw the Fall this year – they were poor, to be honest. Smith was even more whiny and incoherent than ever (and “sung” his encore from the dressing room), but it’s good to know he’s still out there. And on top of that, “Re-Mit” is a really good album.

Sunspot – Suuns

Kill whatever is to be

Saw this bunch this year too, but they were excellent – noisy, sulky and didn’t speak to the audience once. This track is from their second album – the first was one of my favourite records of last year. Sneery, horrid stuff (lyrics again pretty much unintelligible)

Iron Acton – Beak>

(Sorry about the “>”, it’s probably vital…) Not actually new, a couple of years old, I think. Him from Portishead, doing a bit of electronica / Krautrock type stuff, tracks rather disarmingly named after particular beauty spots of the Bristolian landscape…


Black Cat – Soft Walls

Come in from outside, and close the door behind

Soft Walls are some sort of side-project of a bloke called Dan Reeves whose day job is to play with a band called Cold Pumas (who aren’t nearly as good as this…). Moody, hypnotic stuff, with all sorts of “found” sounds cavorting around out back.

Eras – Juan Molina

Come, come quickly!

Juana Molina is from Argentina, and sings in English, Spanish and maybe Portuguese (there’s some stuff on the record I can’t place) – I read somewhere that she’s doing all sorts of clever stuff with language. This is a lovely record that is mostly enjoyable for its haunting rhythms and her charming voice. An Argentinian Bjork, if you like (without all the silliness, obviously…)

Sisters – Cate le Bon

I know well this space I fill, I’ve seen both sides, I know the drill

I make this Cate le Bon’s third album, and although I liked the first two, there’s a definite upgrade each time. She’s part of what you’d call a “burgeoning Welsh scene”, and often appears with Gruff Rhys, but I’m guessing less so as she gets more and more good press of her own. Choppy, garage-y rhythms, swirling organs and a guitar solo that sounds like it’s been played on an elastic band. If Juana Molina is an Argentinian Bjork, Cate le Bon is a Celtic Nico (I won’t do any more of these…)

New Blue Feeling – White Denim

Try to hide our fears until we go away into a place we never know until we know it.

If I’m honest, the album this came from, Corsicana Lemonade, isn’t as good as last year’s effort, but this is a beautiful song. Saw them last year, and they’re real muso types, occasionally showy masters of their craft and all that, but it’s the words that make this song…

Shelter Song – Temples

Now I know the lonely days are gone

I don’t think Temples have released an album yet, and I only heard this because it turned up on one of those Mojo giveaway CDs. The opening notes sound a lot like a new (old) Pretty Things song, (and that can only be a Good Thing…) and from there it goes on to drift further and further into past times. Lovely, new psychedelia…


New-To-Me Records of 2013

At this point, the CD veers crazily away from modern records and focuses on records that are old but I’d never heard until this year.

I’m Rowed Out – The Eyes

You got a grey suede coat and a soul like fire

If the first notes of Shelter Song made me think of the Pretty Things, your first thoughts on hearing the choppy opening chords of “I’m Rowed Out” will be of the Who. I’ve no idea who the Eyes were and why they didn’t become really huge, but they surely should’ve been. Great clunking Moon-ish drums; harsh, jerky guitar chords and what sounds to me like classic mod lingo – they had it all…

Gotta Get Enough Time – The Fleurs de Lys and Sharon Tandy

I look in the mirror and I get a surprise, I got 14 people looking out of my eyes

I’ve spent a lot of time this year listening to mid-Sixties mod / psychedelic records, and again, as with the Eyes, I’m stumped to know why the Fleur de Lys didn’t get bigger. The records they did with Sharon Tandy are just incredible – the combination of their furious freakbeat backdrop and her furious smoky delivery are as good as anything else of the time.

I Wonder If I Care As Much As I Did Before – The Everly Brothers

It’s your mistakes I’m thinking of..

Also spent a good amount of time around Easter listening to a great box set of Sixties albums by the Everlys. I’m told the Sixties saw a few of the old Fifties legends trying to go Serious (with varying results), but this is a lovely song of weariness and regret; I can really recommend the Roots album that it came off.

Colours – Kaleidoscope

Oh, please, acid colours burn my brain, I’m just insane

Not the American Kaleidoscope, Silly! Nor the British Kaleidoscope either – these are the Mexican Kaleidoscope… (oh yes!) Turns out there’s a whole world of Latin Nuggets-style garage punk / psychedelia out there, just like this. And actually, loads of it’s pretty damn good. The lyrics above pretty much tell you what you need to know about this record, it’s all rather 1967…

 Ya Se – Los Ovnis

¡Así lo se que me has probado!

Another belter from South America 1967, taken from the Los Nuggetz collection (as was the Kaleidoscope track) which has been one of the finds of the year for me. Rasping punky guitars, farfisa organs and distraught vocals – a winning combination!

Vacilando con Ayahuasca – Juaneca y su Combo

¡Así, así, más Juaneco, qué rico!

I love this! Juaneco and his Combo recorded in the Sixities in Peru, playing traditional Peruvian songs with wah-wah guitars and more “happening” arrangements. Apparently, the young folk went wild for it and a Chicha legend was born (which was unfortunately further amplified by a classic Rock’n’Roll air crash which accounted for three-quarters of the band in the mid-seventies…).

Sonido Amazonico – Los Mirlos

Here’s another Peruvian Chicha classic of the times by another Peruvian band, Los Mirlos, which came off another great Peruvian compilation called The Roots of Chicha. If you’re interested, there’s actually an American band around now, Chicha Libre, doing their own Chicha songs and covering the odd classic, including (the very odd) Sonido Amazonico

Judith – Lucho Perez

¡Bailate cumbia, muchacha hermosa! ¡Bailate cumbia, que guapallosa!

Dance the Cumbia, my beauty! Josie and I spent a thoroughly entertaining weekend driving around Abergavenny in the summer, sound-tracked irresistibly by the goofy rhythms of Colombian Cumbia like this. Recorded sometime in the Fifties by the ever-exuberant Lucho Perez, this is probably my favourite track off a brilliant Soundways compilation, called The Original Sound of Cumbia, It’s great!

Maria Lando – Susanna Baca

Pero para Maria, no hay mediodía…

And to close, a more thought-provoking song from one of the David Byrne compilations, Afro-Peruvian Classics: The Soul of Black Peru, from the beautiful voice (and pen) of Susanna Baca. I’m pretty sure this is a bit of a tear-jerker about poverty and slavery in Peru, but even if I’ve totally missed the point, it’s still a gorgeous, soulful melody, which sticks in my head every time I hear it. (Interesting-ish fact: in a later life Susanna Baca went on to become a Cabinet Minister in the Peruvian government.)

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