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Archive for August, 2007

The latest release from Tucson’s magic men see’s another all instrumental album in the vein of several previous tour accompanying releases. After what myself and some other ‘diehard’ Calexico fans viewed as an off colour release with Garden Ruin, it’s nice to here them step away from the more poppy sensibility of that album – but be warned, Toolbox isn’t a total return to experiment – Only closing track When only Ashes are Left is on similar ground to say, the collaboration’s as ABBC or some of the more abstract material on the ever gorgeous Hot Rail.

Much of the record treads classic Calexico territory, lap steel and accoustic intertwining on desert soundscapes, but there is more of a Jazz sensibility here than heard on Garden ruin and a tinge of funk here and there. Detroit Steam is a stunningly 1970’s road movie sound track that gains much from it’s snaking bass line and whining jittery guitar. Here and there, snatches of good old American rock n roll can be heard and much of the record sounds warm and positive.

It’s not the best album they’ve ever done, but it’s far from the worst. I suspect if this was someone else, I would fawn over it, but with such a band, standards are high. I can’t help feeling that some of it is a little forgettable, largely perhaps because I can’t help feeling that much of it treads a path Messrs Burns and Convertino have gone down before – I find myself kind of wishing they’d suprise me a bit by y’know, turning on the distortion peddle or finding the electronics they seem to have lost after a bit of a flirt with a while back. Despite this, I can’t deny that much of this album is utterly lovely. When you are talking about Calexico, it kind of goes without saying.

(afraid I couldn’t find anything off Toolbox – so here is an instrumental mix of Sonic Wind instead!)

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Situated in the beautiful Galloway Hills, the Wickerman festival is a lovely small to mdium scale festival with a laid back atmosphere. This years festival had a pretty good line up to compliment the the natural surroundings and Scottish bonhomie.

Sounds ranged from the laid back celtic tones of folk quartet Galloway (formed especially for the festival) to the more hectic hardcore of the all night dance tent

Cover version fun was in no short supply as Hayseed Dixie did their usual genre bending act and if that wasn’t enough – The Easy Star Allstars provided Floyd-tastic dub shenanigans that had a lot of the unitiated confused then delighted.

A Scottish festival would be incomplete without bagpipes, which came courtesy of local favourites, The Dangleberries (not pictured) and the celtic tin whistle techno dub fusion crew The Peatbog Fairies

The more laid back of the revellers enjoyed a typically smooth set by the Fun Lovin Criminals

Also slick smooth and full of deep bass was the incomporable Jah Wobble who gave a mesmeric main stage performance, a truly hypnotic pleasure, featuring a simply devine extended version of Visions of You and special guest Rankin’ Roger.

For those seeking more ear splitting, limb shaking high velocity thrills and spills, both Eat Static (top) and the Orb gave good value for money

Away from these acts, my personal highlights included the indie whimsy of St Judes Infirmary…

… the delta blues of the Swampstompers…

and the Pogues-on fire revelry of the Junkman’s Choir

A few sights

Roll on next year 🙂

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After attempting and failing the herculian 30 minute walk to the park some 3 or four weeks ago our determination to reach our destination couldn’t have been greater and as such, we only stopped in one pub along the way and even then I had coffee. Least said about the “Red Mist” rasberry bitter my companion drunk the better…

The walk to the park is pleasent and the views of the Lune Estuary and Morecambe Bay are worth climbing the steep hill to the entrance for. Below you can see the view across Lancaster to the Ashton Memorial in the park.

The large allotments alongside the railway line are home to lots of veg, but also some lovely colours. There was a plan to expand them significantly, but a scheme involving the purchase of some unused school playing fields fell through, when Ofsted ruled that the school in question must create better sporting provision and therefore renaged on the agreement.

Over the canal to the pub…

…past a disused waterboard property – behind these gates are several boarded up stone buildings and rather oddly, a 1960’s house, also completely boarded up. Whether this property was once for waterboard employees, I know not, but the house itself seems rather too new to be abandoned in such a way…

…then on, up the hill to views of Lancaster and Morecambe and also South Cumbria and the lakeland mountains.

Williamson’s Park was a gift to the town from a local industrialist, in order to provide a place for recreation for Lancaster’s workers and commerate the memory of his beloved wife. The large site is a mixture of formal fountains, flower beds, woodland and lawns.

We took refreshment on the lawns underneath the famous Ashton memorial, a folly that dominates the Lancaster skyline

Here we spotted a friend with some dogs.

Moss (above) was a bit frightened of all the noises and kids in the park but Jack was more interested in his ball

After we’d been well and truly exercised by the dogs and soaked up some of the fine Lancashire sunshine, we went for a wander though the woodland to the rear of the park. Fenham Carr is a wilder section of parkland and on the way there we found some monsters and a giant’s watch!

Fenham Carr provides views to the Bowland Fells and shelter for lots of ferreting squirrals and birds.

We found a fascinating fallen tree, decorated with pennies, some of which were really quite old.

Coming out of Fenham Carr, we walked past the butterfly house (which as the name suggests, does contain lots of brilliant tropical butterflies) – As it was closed, I had to content myself with a photo of a crow instead.

As the sun was starting to think about slinking away to bed, we walked back down the hill

to the canal (well, to be honest, the pub)

On the way home we saw fireworks and were followed by a very friendly cat who I had to take all the way back to his house as he seemed lost after he’d followed us almost to ours.

Links

Official Lancaster Council site of Williamson’s Park

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Mogwai: Live


Thanks to pixelspin for the image

Mogwai: Are Tremendous. This is a fact, verifiable by both science and myself. As such I am delighted to point you is in the direction of an awesome live show by Glasgow’s finest purveyors of post-slint noise terror. The show itself is from Denver, on the US leg of Mogwai’s 2006 tour schedule and in lieu of a ‘proper’ live album (notwithstanding the excellent ‘Government Commisions’ BBC session disc) the recording is as close to the experience of listening to Mogwai play a gig as you are going to get.

Sound quality is outstanding

Download the whole show here

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Particularly eagle eyed indie kids will spot that this blog’s name take some inspiration from the name of an Archers of Loaf b-side. It’s fair to say I love the Archers as much as any other indie rock guitar band, in fact more than most, if not all. The solo work of singer Eric Bachman is the subject of this review, and I feel it only fair to temper the critique with the caveat that readers should listen to Crooked Fingers eponemous debut and the follow up ‘Bring on Snakes’ as they are really quite remarkably intricate, intimate and mysterous albums.

Bachman however, has this time, disapointed me. The album as a whole feels unfinished – I think the aim is to provide a kind of confessional vibe, as Bachman is rarely accompanied and the arrangements are simple and take no great effort to listen too and absorb. Here in lies the disapointment, as these songs largely sound not like soul wrenching heart rending cries to the wilderness, sung by candlelight in an isolated dark, but like demos for songs that might be quite good if they were developed a bit. They cry out for some lap steel, for a bit of percussion, for the beautiful mesmeric electronic textures of the aforementioned ‘bring on snakes’ – Simply put, it sounds like he hasn’t tried very hard with this one.

There are two outstanding tracks – first, the painful love song ‘Home’ – no concidence that here unlike most other tracks, raspy strings tear accross the delicate finger picking with an almost eastern mystery. It feels like his best material does, dark, doleful, tired and lamenting, his scarred and scored voice sounding like a million regrets drifting into a liquor sunset.

Second, the title track ‘To the Races’ is an unexpected blast of gypsy folk, a lively jig with just a hint of foreboding that lifts the album beyond the repetive plodding simple finger picked melody and rhythm of it’s main body. Really, I wish there was something else to tell you. I really do. It’s nice, it’s not bad, it’s just not memorable. I’m not going to do a hatchet job on Eric – I can’t, his words and music mean to much to me – but really, if you havn’t got them, buy the albums I mention above, then hope that he pulls something out next time, because he’s capable of the most intricate and odd interplay between lyric and music, of disturbing and dark imagery and of songs that worm their way into your head, without you quite understanding them. This is all too bare, too obvious and well, too easy.

sorry Eric, I really am…

Have a listen to his genius here…


(Archers of Loaf – White Trash Heroes)


(Crooked Fingers – New Drink for the old Drunk)

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Butter Pie News 2

Those of you who read this post —>https://densityofsound.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/butter-pie-news/
will be pleased to know a reply has returned. Unfortunately, it’s not happy times…

Dear ** *********,

Thank you for your comments regarding the change of supplier for Butter Pies.

Regretably, ASHWORTHS ( our previous supplier for many years ) has recently ceased trading and an alternative supplier was needed. Greenhalghs was selected as the new supplier; their products have won several Industry awards and have,previously, been requested many times by shoppers in Spar stores. However, all of us have personal taste preferences and we are disappointed you do not enjoy the Greenhalghs product but this product was considered the best choice from those companies able to supply us.

Thank you for shopping at Spar and look forward to serving you in future.

Regards,

***************.

I feel bad for hastling them now!

Well done to SPar, cos I’ve asked questions of much bigger companies and had no reply… To spar!

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Thanks to gretchen robinette for the Aesop photo.

So yer main man Aesop is back with a 12 inch single and boy, it doesn’t disapoint. Huge bass crunches your speakers, but it’s set back far enough to allow Aesop’s slick patter to come to the fore. The beat is funkadelic, spiraling and slinking, like one of those plastic snakes made of loads of little sections that hinge together. Aesop sounds laconic, lazy on the chorus which contrasts with the easy but breakneck pace of his delivery in the verses. Trademark themes are there, mental health, medication and imagery second to none ‘right hand on a can of worms…’

It’s got depth as little samples of soul and scratching weave their way through the main fabric of the song and just when you’re thinking, ok, it’s kind of ok, good even but well, y’know… he breaks into a build up, spitting letters like a drummer hitting a cresendo and exploding from nowhere is a simply divine vocal, talking about ‘holding back the vampires keeping me alive’ which is just, well, spot on. Target hit. Play it again…. and again… and again

Second track ‘Citronella’ is dirtier, darker, more sci-fi meats New York jazz and more of a storytelling exercise. Fragments of language like ‘a riot for home ownership’ and a pulsing hook that sounds kind of ominous, take us into a darker place. It seems somewhat more apocolyptic, if Coffee seems to be personal, this is more general, societal. ‘The future is …so great‘ he tells us, in the dryest tone imaginable. So wry, so dry. He’s always dark and happily it doesn’t appear he’s about to go all bluebirds and joy on us just yet.

Final number, Next Best Thing seems to have borrowed a backing track off Beck’s Tropicala era work and to be honest is the most forgetable thing on here. It’s a little disjointed and perhaps for that reason won’t be on ‘None Shall Pass’ – the album out on the 28th.

Still, the gist is – Has he still got it?

Damn yeah…

Edited to add:

Since writing this I’ve discovered the vocal at the end of ‘Coffee’ is in fact John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats – Click here for a transcript of the lyrics

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