Probably the best thing Robert Smith’s produced in years, and the first time I’ve thanked Crystal Castles. Absolute heaven. This new version of “Not in Love” is the A-side of a single due out December 6 on Fiction.
There comes a time in every man’s life where he needs to truly admit that he’s reached that particular age when the banjo is undeniably, incontrovertibly his most favourite instrument. And, if any band could convince you of that moment, it could be Matthew and the Atlas.
Matthew and the Atlas – otherwise known as Matthew Hegarty, Lindsay West, Dave Millar, Thomas Field and Harrison Cargill – are yet another product of jams at the Notting Hill Arts Club, putting them in the same company as Laura Marling, Noah and The Whale, and Mumford & Sons. In other words, if you judge someone by the company they keep, Matthew and the Atlas are damn well positioned for a wider breakthrough.
Hegarty has that kind of Ray Lamontagne/Glen Hansard/Nick Drake voice that just immediately sucks you in and unfolds a story in your head far bigger than your skull should be able to hold. And the band just plays so… organically, it’s like music that you’ve been waiting to hear.
The below track (like the above video) comes from Matthew And The Atlas’ “To The North EP”, and it’s one of my favourite tunes of 2010. “I Will Remain” has a wistful quality that is more genuine than anything I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s the type of song that was made for whiskey and faded jeans.
Matthew and the Atlas’ new EP, “Kingdom of Your Own”, is out on November 1, and can be pre-ordered here. And, if you simply can’t wait, you can download another track of theirs, “Deadwood”, for free here (well, for the price of your email address).
There’s something so damn familiar about Donovan Woods‘ voice. I’m not sure what it is… I mean, it’s more than the fact that the guy sounds like Jeremy Fisher… it’s that the voice is such a comfortable one. It’s the type of voice that you’d have around the campfire with beers, you know?
Anyway, at the beginning of this month, Donovan released his latest LP, “The Widowmaker”. And it’s a whole lot of awesome. Here, as a taster, is a tune off the album, “Let Go Lightly”.
I’ve written about aKING here on Burgo’s Music Blog before. Heck, at the time (nearly 2 years ago!) I called them “South Africa’s next big thing“. So why, you might ask yourself, am I devoting another blog post to this band from South Africa? Is it because they’ve released another album, or done something particularly noteworthy recently?
Well, ok, they have actually released another album since that last post, called “Against All Odds”. And make no mistake about it, it’s a cracker of an album. But that album came out in 2009 and I’ve had my grubby hands on it then, so it’s hardly breaking news suitable for a post in 2010.
No, the whole reason behind this love letter to aKING is far more prosaic: it’s simply that, after a few months off, I came back to listening to aKING… and for two weeks now, they are all I’ve listened to. Seriously. I don’t listen to radio, so I haven’t heard anything coming over radiowaves. I listen to music at work, and at home through Spotify. And, for two weeks now, I haven’t moved off aKING’s page. It’s ridiculous.
So, I thought that an obsession like that simply deserved a post… even if there’s no real point to it, other than to say: Man, I never get tired of these dudes!
So, in case you missed their previous post, go check it out. And then come back here, and watch/listen to these tunes. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
aKING’s first single, “The Dance”. If anything, this song as a first single hurt them more than anything else. Its mainstream sound turned off some listeners. Their loss. From “Dutch Courage”.
aKING, “I Believe”. Off first release, “Dutch Courage”.
aKING, “Safe As Houses”. Off first release, “Dutch Courage”.
aKING, “You and I”. From new release (arguably their best), “Against All Odds”. Questionable video though.
You can listen to aKING’s two full releases, “Dutch Courage” and “Against All Odds” on Myspace Music. Do it now.
What do you think? Is this an unhealthy obsession? Sound off in the comments.
On Wednesday night, I went to possibly the best gig of my life. And no, I don’t write those words lightly.
But when I managed to see Rodriguez – the legend behind one of my albums of the century (Cold Fact, naturally) – at the Tivoli on Wednesday, it was easily one of the musical highlights of my life.
First off, some background: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to quite articulate the effect that Rodriguez has had on my life. When I first heard “Cold Fact”, I probably would have been all of 5 years old, because both my parents were big fans and actually had the LP. By the time I was… ooh, I’d say 13, I had my own copy of the Cold Fact CD, and I listened to it religiously.
This went on until… well, to be honest, it never stopped.
Cold Fact is, in my opinion, the exemplification of the perfect album. Point blank, perfection. But, thanks largely to Sixto’s slightly quirky nature – like playing at an industry showcase with his back to the audience throughout – and a second album (1971’s “Coming from Reality” which was still a cracker) that sold poorly, Rodriguez dropped out of the music recording scene, and subsequently out of the public eye. It got to the point where rumours spread in South Africa of his death… and quite frankly, most of us believed them.
You see, the thing is, while Rodriguez never really had much success in his native America, over in South Africa, his music was the stuff of legend. For a country struggling against the apartheid establishment, his music was – for us – a music that we needed.
Americans talk about Hendrix. I talk about Sixto.
And now, 40 years after the release of Cold Fact, Rodriguez is touring Australia. There was no way I was ever going to miss the chance to see him live.
Rodriguez was led out onto the darkened Tivoli stage on the arm of an assistant. It’s clear that the 68-year old is getting on a bit. His eyesight is failing, and his walk is occasionally – but only occasionally – that of an old man. But from the second that he launches into first tune, “I wonder”, it’s clear that the legend still lives.
I wonder how many times you’ve been had
And I wonder how many plans have gone bad
I wonder how many times you had sex
And I wonder do you know who’ll be next
I wonder I wonder wonder I do
– Rodriguez, “I Wonder”
Despite what I expected (almost no one I spoke to in Australia seemed to know who the man was), the Tivoli was packed on the night, and it was clear that Rodriguez meant as much to every person there as he did to me. From the very first line of “I Wonder”, the crowd sang along with each and every word, and carried on in that manner for most of the night.
And I think it blew Rodriguez away.
After every song, with the crowd belting lyrics back at him, Rodriguez had to step back from the microphone, seemingly overcome with childish joy. I can’t tell you the light this guy gave off. Seeing that massive smile, that childish joy on a 68 year old? Man, I hope I never forget how I felt that night.
“Go get your hugs,
Don’t do drugs.
Rodriguez, introducing his flagship tune, “Sugar Man”
Of course, it was always going to be Sugar Man that brought out the biggest cheers. When that bass line started, the crowd literally erupted. Times have changed for Sixto… and I think that’s why he introduced “Sugar Man” the way he did.
I wonder what he thought of the pungent smell of marijuana emanating from the crowd, looking back on how his life has changed from those times?
Sugar man, won’t you hurry
‘Cos I’m tired of these scenes
For a blue coin won’t you bring back
All those colors to my dreams
– Rodriguez, “Sugar Man”
I don’t think I’d be able to pull out highlights of the night if you asked me, because the entire night was one long bliss-fest. That said, some of the moments that still stay with me are the renditions of “Sugar Man”, “Only good for Conversation”, “Crucify your Mind” and “Forget It”.
But there was one point in the evening that I hope I never forget. It was a special moment, where everyone in the crowd – whether they were in their 20s (minority) or 40 – 60s (majority) – came together. And it was during the quintessential Rodriguez song, “This is not a song, it’s an outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues“. If you don’t know the song, I’ve included it below… but there was a moment there, where the song ends off with the immortal lines:
“It’s a hassle it’s an educated guess.
Well, frankly I couldn’t care less.”
… and the entire crowd yelled out that ending couplet in perfect unison. It was the most cathartic moment I’ve ever had at a gig. Hell, I think it may have been the most cathartic experience I’ve ever had, point blank. And I never, ever want to let go of that feeling.
Rodriguez is currently touring. I urge you (you hear that? Urge. I almost never urge people) to go and catch one of his shows. Rodriguez is a treasure that I fear may slip away from us, before his message gets out. So do your part, and spread the word.
Below, I’ve included a grooveshark player with some of his tunes that you can cycle through.
Listen. Love. Support.
***Post Updated 5 April***
Updated post thanks to Debo in the comments, with a video of Rodriguez and band performing opening number, “I Wonder”. See video below… killer!
So we all know that I haven’t been blogging for a while. In an attempt to make amends, I’m going to post a series of short “Things you missed while I wasn’t blogging” posts that recaps what I’ve been up to/listening to in the last while. Enjoy this peace offering.
Things you missed while I wasn’t blogging #2: Brandon Clark and the American Standard
So, about a year ago, a dude by the name of Brandon Clark got in touch with me to let me know about their new tune that they had just recorded, “Restless”. I thought it was a badass track, and wanted to hear more. Unfortunately, I had to wait quite a few months until Brandon and band managed to get back into studio.
Nearly 12 months and yet another name change later (they’re now known as Brandon Clark and the American Standard), Brandon dropped me a line with a copy of their new EP, titled “Honestly”. And I’m really glad he did.
After a few spins, I realised just how apt that title is… because if there’s one word I would use to describe Brandon Clark and the American Standard’s music, it’s just that: honest. I wouldn’t say this is music that’s going to change the world. But that’s ok, because it is – quite frankly – damn fun to listen to and just freaking cool. And the guys seem to be ok with that, and I love the fact that they aren’t trying to be anything other than what they are.
If anything, this is becoming my “favourite band shirt” music equivalent… you know, that shirt you slip on when you need to be reminded that everything’s going to be ok? Yeah. That’s this EP.
Here’s a sampler from the guys, and below that there’s some details on where you can get a free copy of the release.