I’d give anything to have skin like you…

Courtney-BarnettBought the new Courtney Barnett record a couple of weeks ago and it’ll come as no surprise to you that it’s a real zinger, packed full of languid observations, entertaining remarks and more than a few poignant moments. Imagine, if you will, therefore, the added sheen that began to appear around the ticket pinned to our board for the young Aussie’s Bristol date. Live music! Whooo-ee!

Courtney Barnett at The Fleece

As is becoming a bit of a habit, we missed the first act, hanging around in the pub next door for too long; which is a shame as, according to friends who showed up at a decent time, Fraser Gorman was pretty good and was supported from the floor by his host herself – a gesture of solidarity that I’ve always thought says a lot. Spring King, the second support, band were certainly a game bunch thrashing through an edgy, enthusiastic set which made me think I should investigate them at a later date.

Courtney Barnett came on early (about nine, I think), looking in disappointingly robust good health (the cartoon picture I’d been nurturing in my head was of a slightly neurotic, ashen-faced, over-sensitive soul). Overcoming a few sound problems at first, she worked through a cheerful, business-like set which I really enjoyed, and which went down well with a packed Fleece audience.

She played a lot of material from the new record, running from the Witty (Elevator Operator) through the Menacing (Pedestrian at Best) to the Moving (Illustration of Loneliness) – all of it laced with an easy, almost offhand charisma. Ably supported by a bass and drums unit that showed no inclination to upstage her – I say this because as is my ridiculously fussy wont these days, I felt one or two of the songs on the record suffered a little from over-assertive “musicians”. In fact the bass-player nominated onstage to look after the merch stall afterwards (and give away kisses with any and all purchases – I resisted, in case you’re wondering…)

The whole set came and went alarmingly quickly, and with the briefest of encores (an unexpected Easybeats cover to be fair) she was gone. Terrific, in-and-out, stuff – job’s a good ‘un…

As ever, the sound at the Fleece was tip-top and the recordings have come out quite well; I warmly urge you to avail yourselves.

Elevator Operator

Pedestrian at Best

Avant Gardener

I’ll Make You Happy

 

Many strangers have arrived, wearing immense black boots, selling buttons at my door, I don’t feel well

f23ee6be4059db716502c71ea3433326Once again the earnest souls of @lpgrp have organised a Secret Santa exchange of Best of ’14 tracks to share with each other. I enjoy this and it’s always interesting to hear new endorsements but I have to admit that this year I threw mine together in a bit of a hurry, having not got myself organised earlier and for a number of reasons I’m not entirely happy with it.

Probably the biggest gripe I have with myself is that although the brief was to compile it from “new to you” tracks rather than bona fide released-in-the-last-12-months stuff, there really isn’t much new stuff here. I can’t decide whether this is because 2014’s not been a great year for new releases or whether this year I’ve been more easily distracted than usual. I suspect it’s a large slice of both.

This is one of the reasons I’ve not clambered into the whole seasonal gongs business this year – I haven’t really bought a lot of new stuff (neither have I seen a lot of live music, for that matter…) – and so I feel a little out of touch. All in all, I reckon the tracks by Mogran Delt, Doug Tuttle, the Delines, Siesta! and Tigres Leones are about the only brand new stuff on the collection. The tracks by White Fence, Courtney Barnett and Speedy Ortiz are new-ish but the rest is, I’m afraid, all old. Some of it really old (the Trio Matamoros song is from the forties, I think).

But anyway, here, in all its glory:

Secret Santa ’14 – @Sweeny99

  1. Pink Gorilla – White Fence
  2. Make My Grey Brain Green – Morgan Delt
  3. Save My Soul – Wimple Winch
  4. 1906 – The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
  5. Millionspiel – Can
  6. Bat Macumba – Os Mutantes
  7. Muevéla – Abelardo Carbonó
  8. Jam 5 Kai Thiet – Ros Serey Sothea
  9. Lam Tung Wai – Chaweewan Dumnem
  10. Buenos Hermanos – Trio Matamoros
  11. Avant Gardener – Courtney Barnett
  12. Colfax Avenue – the Delines
  13. Erusu Nganga – The Sweet Talks
  14. Ya Mom Samaray – Guelewar
  15. Bocata de Sangre – Siesta!
  16. Pájaros – Tigres Leones
  17. With Us Soon – Doug Tuttle
  18. No below – Speedy Ortiz

Having said all this, you’ll love it – some psych, some afrobeat, some garage punk, some Spanish new wave – but particularly worth noting are tracks 8 and 9 which I’ve taken from a couple of fabulous Cambodian and Siamese compilations by Parallel World and by the consistently brilliant Soundway Records.

If you don’t fancy any of it, I understand, it’s OK – we can still be friends. Although, I would urge you to listen at least to the Trio Matamoros track which features Cuba’s greatest singer Beny Moré and is just magnificent. It also includes a really wild piano break which sounds like it finishes in some sort of plane crash (around the 2:30 mark).

 

I was going to leave it there, but I think it’s worth mentioning that while I may not have spent much time on new releases, 2014 has not been a waste of time entirely. It is after all the year when I finally discovered the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, surely the weirdest of a weird crop.

“1906” is certainly as odd a song as anything I heard this year and I can’t help thinking 2015 will have to be a very strange one indeed to throw up anything like this…

 

Here’s to more strangeness!