Archive | September, 2010

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Belle and Sebastian-Write About Love

Posted on 30 September 2010 by Joe

Belle and Sebastian perform the title track from their album Write About Love in the US.

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Lady GaGa Is Most Deleted Artist

Lady GaGa Is Most Deleted Artist

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Joe

Lady GaGa is Last.fm’s most deleted artist. But this may not necessarily be because her music is so appalling, according to a press release from the music streaming site.

The release , sent out by Last.fm’s PR firm Edelman, says that the meat clad monstrosity is both the most listened to and most deleted artist among users, suggesting that her fans are listening to her by stealth. In fact,  the release points out, seven of her songs are in the top ten most deleted tracks.

Lady GaGa

Here’s last.fm’s top ten most deleted tracks.

Last.fm top 10 deleted songs

  1. Lady Gaga – Alejandro
  2. Lady Gaga – Poker Face
  3. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
  4. Lady Gaga – Paparazzi
  5. Ke$ha – TiK ToK
  6. Lady Gaga – LoveGame
  7. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
  8. Justin Bieber – One Time
  9. Ke$ha – Your Love Is My Drug
  10. Lady Gaga – Monster

Matt Sheret, from Last.fm said: “Artists such as Lady GaGa along with Justin Bieber and Ke$ha are examples of artists that people seem to love to hate.

“Despite people not wanting to be seen to be listening to  Lady GaGa, her recent award success and regular appearance in the Last.fm’s most listened to chart, shows that people love her music but might not want to be labelled as one of her ‘monsters’.”

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Top Ten Indie Music Tearjerkers

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Top Ten Indie Music Tearjerkers

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Joe

Time for a bit of emotion now as we look at some of our favourite tunes that make us weep. Some are so emotional that the artists themselves can barely play them live without crying. Some take on issues of grief, mourning, the end of a relationship and in one case the decline of an entire country. Sit back, make sure you’ve got a good supply of tissues and chocolates and weep to  our list of the top ten indie/alternative music tearjerkers of all time.

1. Sufjan Stevens – Casimir Pulaski Day

This track from Sufjan Steven’s classic album Illionoise for us at Neonfiller.com is the most heart-wrenching, tear jerking indie/alternative music track of all time as he remembers the death of a former girlfriend from bone cancer.

The song opens powerfully, with the protagonist finding out about the disease and her eventual death. He remembers their past and moments of teenage love. The father’s grief as well is laid bare. “Your father cried on the telephone, And he drove his car to the Navy yard, Just to prove that he was sorry.”

As the song goes on the man’s grief worsens as he struggles to reconcile the devastating loss with his faith. The final lines sums this up perfectly, “Oh the glory when he took our place, But he took my shoulders and he shook my face, And he takes and he takes and he takes.” A true weepy.

2. Hefner – Good Fruit

Hefner’s Darren Hayman excels in songs about lost love and relationship breakdowns. ‘Good Fruit’ from Hefner’s third album, We Love the City, is one of the band’s best singles and probably their saddest.

Sung on the last day of a failing relationship as Hayman tries and fails to convince his lover to stay. The sound of the song perfectly reflects the feelings it portrays. Playful and melodic as he sings of their first moments “You were just there, in the right place, You smoothed out the wrinkles on my face” and shouty and more abrasive at the final point of her leaving. His final emotions being at odds with the situation he finds himself in.

“Cause I’m not supposed to feel like this, not when you’re leaving”

3. Yo La Tengo – Tears Are In Your Eyes

Yo La Tengo are well known for their wall of sound and squealing feedback, but few bands do soft and tender better. Georgia Hubley’s soft, almost broken, vocals are perfect and the instrumentation is sad and beautiful.

Sung to someone who is suffering, possibly from a bereavement (although this is never stated) it is an offer of hope that they can come back from the darkest place. If anything the positive undertones make the song, and the suffering of the individual, seem even sadder.

“Although you don’t believe me, you are strong, darkness always turns into the dawn. And you won’t even remember this for long, when it ends alright.”

4. Shipbuilding – Robert Wyatt

Shipbuilding by Elvis Costello, about the decline of industry and working communities  in 1980s  Britain, is arguably one of the greatest political songs of all time.

But when covered by Robert Wyatt it also because one of the greatest tearjerkers of all times. The song looks at a  declining ship building community who are given hope that some big contracts are coming in. But there’s a rub to “this rumour that was spread about town.”  The ships to be built are for the navy to take their sons to war in the Falklands.

When sung by Wyatt the song takes a new twist. He actually sounds like one of the dock workers struggling for money, desperate for work and waving goodbye to his son, “who could be home before Christmas.”

5. The Miserable Rich – The Knife Throwers Hand

There’s room for interpretation here, but whichever way you look at it Knife Thrower’s Hand will leave you an emotional wreck. It tells the tale of a knife thrower who has either killed the woman he loves by accident, or fears he will. I take it that he already has.

Drink is involved and he has the shakes, but is that the cause of the accident or does he drink to forget. “Why can’t your dress have been made of tin” he begs. On another level this could be a metaphor for loss of confidence and depression of any artist, unable to carry on with their craft. Whatever interpretation tears are guaranteed.

04 The Knife Thrower’s Hand by The Miserable Rich

6. Sad Eyes – Josh Rouse

Josh Rouse is another master of the mournful masterpiece. The song itself doesn’t need much analysis, the lyrics speak for themselves.

“You’re so young and so bored, you were staying out ’til late cause it was what your husband hated. But, oh, it’s too bad cause he’s stolen all your happiness
and good times.”

The original version is the one to listen to, originally on the Bedroom Classics EP and also on the Rykodisc ‘Best Of’ collection. It is a beautiful arrangement that fits perfectly with the mood of the lyrics. The version on Nashville is good as well, but sacrifices emotion a little for the more bombastic instrumentation in the final third.

7. The Mountain Goats – Pale Green Things

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats has written reams of tearjerkers but it is this, the final track on Sunset Tree, an album recalling his teenage years drunk, on drugs and living with an abusive stepfather where the tears really flow.

Pale Green Things finishes the album perfectly, in which he is told of his stepfather’s death and remembers a rare good time with him, at the horse track. The sense of grief, anger, happiness and even ambivalence all rolled into this masterpiece make it a true tearjerker. Darnielle is also clearly moved by it. In an interview with 3:AM magazine in 2007 he said: “I am especially fond of Pale Green Things which I think is maybe the deepest down I’ve ever reached, which is why Ive only played it live once or twice.”


8. Killdozer – Knuckles the Dog

Teary songs aren’t what you’d normally expect from gravel voiced, faux-Communist, dirge-grunge act Killdozer. However, this tale of a dog saved from the glue factory by a handicapped boy (the songs narrator) is worthy of Simon Bates’ ‘Our Tune’.

Knuckles trips to the nursing home to visit the elderly “abandoned by their own children” is heart warming, but when you get to his untimely death there will not be a dry eye in the house. His leap in front of a bullet, meant for his wheelchair bound master, is a real choker.

“Knuckles the dog who helps people, now you are forever free”

9. Grandaddy – Jed The Humanoid

‘Jed the Humanoid’ is our second non-human subject for a tearjerker, but it is no less sad for that. In the song a group of humans build a thinking, feeling robot that ends up teaching them how to solve problems.

Despite this he is just a gadget to them and they lose interest in him over time. Finally, sad, lonely and abandoned, he drinks all their booze and dies.

It is only then that they realise how much he meant. “Last night something pretty bad happened. We lost a friend”.

10. Ryan Adams – Come Pick Me Up

Ryan Adams has a reputation for his erratic performances and tossing off albums (under a variety of guises) but his song writing is often very heartfelt. His first solo album, Heartbreaker, is sad songs of break-up and lost love from start to finish and ‘Come Pick Me Up’ is its masterpiece.

He is so desperate to have his lost love back that he begs her to fuck him up, steal his records and screw his friends, all with a smile on her face. These acts are presumably what lead to their break-up in the first place.  And now that he has lost her he misses her so much he is desperate for her to do those things again, just so they can be together.

If you have any other suggestions for great indie tearjerkers please post a comment below, or add them to our Spotify Playlist.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers.

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Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

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Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

Posted on 28 September 2010 by Joe

Sufjan Stevens’ latest album The Age of Adz is a radical departure from his usual softly spoken, banjo plucked albums as he takes in a range of electronics and experimental sounds.

To the pluses first and there are many. This is a major change from the likes of Illinoise and Greetings From Michigan. Both were ambitious in their structure and use of instruments, but still keenly focused on melody and with a homespun, earthy feel. Here the banjo is replaced by beeps, the guitar by clicks and whirs and the whisper by a vocoder (but that is thankfully only at the end). Change is good, artists should evolve and Stevens should be applauded for that.

Age of Adz

So many great Bob Dylan albums would never have been made if he had listened to that lad shouting “Judas” and said, “hey, man you’re right, I’m sticking to harmonicas and blowing in the wind.” Flaming Lips did the same last year with Embryonic. After three or four albums of catchy pop their experimental side, their love of prog rock was getting lost. Then came along Embryonic, a rollercoaster of rock oddity and they were a better band for it.

Another plus is that there are actually some really good songs on here. Standouts include opener ‘Futile Devices’. It’s the nearest to classic Stevens track, he whispers, the guitar plucks, but it is as if he is saying ‘this is what I used to do…now listen to this’ as the rest of the album barges its way in like Judas with a synth.

Other standouts include ‘Vesuvius’. It’s among the slower ones, piano is there but the vocals are swathed in echo and backed by drum machine. The choral element is reminiscent of the best on Michigan. It’s already one of my favourite Stevens tracks and despite the modern sound is full of old-fashioned soul.

But to to the downpoints. Too many of the other tracks lack the soul shown on ‘Vesuvius’. The experimental production, hip hop rhythms and bleeps has come at a cost to the melody in places.

Sufjan Stevens

There’s a minus in this change of direction as well. At times, like on ‘All For Myself’, the production sounds a little too much like Animal Collective, but not as good. ‘I want to be well’ is great, but not if you’ve heard Owen Pallett’s Heartland. It sounds like a straight rip off of Pallett’s use of electronica, classical music and looping.

Stevens has morphed into something that may be new for him (although my colleague reminds me that Stevens has dabbled with electronica before  on 2001′s Enjoy Your Rabbit) but not in music over the last few years. Animal Collective and Pallett have already been doing this for a while and now it is Stevens turn to be the follower rather than the leader. This leaves him vulnerable to criticism for his music for perhaps the first time.

Final negative mention goes to last track ‘Impossible Soul’. Starts off great, even though I had to double take at the 25 minute length. But by the 11th minute as the vocoder/auto tune device came in, Stevens lost me. I had to turn it off. I’ll revisit it later, when I can get the image of Cher out of my head.

Overall Age of Adz is a mixed bag with some stunning tracks, some weaker ones and a change of direction that is welcome but not quite there yet. Age of Adz feels like the middle ground between two parts of his career, testing out new ways of making music and new influences. Knowing his previous work and sense of adventure in making music I can (almost) confidently predict that if he can stick to this evolving route the next album will be his masterpiece. For now though we will have to wait.

Review update: Despite still having reservations about much of the album, I’ve really warmed to some other tracks, especially  ‘I Walked’. Listened to it this morning (7 Oct) walking the dog at dawn across the Somerset levels and watching some swans on the river….great music meets reality moment.

‘Vesuvius’ is still my favourite and still can’t get into ‘Impossible soul’ and the title track. A bleep too far for me. I must add though that  I’m mighty impressed by the backlash this review has received from the Sufjanette army, proving that something we can all agree on is that he makes music that provokes a response and is anything but bland….I’m sticking to my guns for most of my initial thoughts but have taken  on board our readers comments and decided to up its score from a 6 to  7. Now, how often does that happen in a review?

7/10

by Joe Lepper

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Ray Davies Collaboration Album To Feature Metallica

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Ray Davies Collaboration Album To Feature Metallica

Posted on 27 September 2010 by Joe

Ray Davies has revealed details of his forthcoming album of Kinks songs, featuring collaborations with the likes of Metallica, Alex Chilton and Black Francis.

Called See My Friends each track features versions of Kinks tracks performed by Davies and an eclectic line up of artists that also includes Jon Bon Jovi, Mumford and Sons and Spoon.

Ray Davies

Among the most eye catching is Davies and Metallica’s version of ‘You Really Got Me’ and ‘Til the End of the Day’ featuring the late Alex Chilton.

Here’s the full track listing and collaborators. The album is released on November 1.

1 Better Things [Bruce Springsteen]
2 Celluloid Heroes [Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora]
3 Days/This Time Tomorrow [Mumford & Sons]
4 Long Way From Home [Lucinda Williams & the 88]
5 You Really Got Me [Metallica]
6 Lola [Paloma Faith]
7 Waterloo Sunset [Jackson Browne]
8 ‘Til the End of the Day [Alex Chilton and The 88]
9 Dead End Street [Amy Macdonald]
10 See My Friends [Spoon]
11 This Is Where I Belong [Black Francis]
12 David Watts [The 88]
13 Tired of Waiting [Gary Lightbody]
14 All Day and All of the Night/Destroyer [Billy Corgan]

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Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

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Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Posted on 27 September 2010 by Joe

Deerhunter have named their fourth album Halcyon Digest for good reason, as once again the US band serves up an unusual and effective mix of music that takes a range of influences from the golden years of rock n roll to the 1990s shoegazers. Halcyon Digest is lush, layered and timeless. Deerhunter’s most focused and accessible album yet.

Their last album Microcastle gave glimpses of what was to come but under producer Ben Allen, who also worked on Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, Halcyon Digest takes the band to the next level.

The band, of lead singer Bradford Cox, singer and guitarist Lockett Pundt, bass player Josh Fauver, and drummer Moses Archuleta are at the top of their game here. Cox’s vulnerable vocals backed by a swathe of sound combining vintage guitar twangs with more traditional indie rock moments is perfectly delivered.

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Opener ‘Earthquake’ sets the scene well as it builds up the ambience with guitar jangling in gradually. Cox’s vocals whisper in as the sound of a vinyl record’s scratch builds up with the layers and tension.

The catchy ‘Dont Cry’ is one of my favourites as is ‘Revival’, one of an array of standouts with its instantly appealing chorus and off beat guitar.

With ‘Sailing’ the tone dips, the guitar gets crisper and cleaner allowing Cox’s vocals to shine. For those that have seen Deerhunter live, the freakishly tall figure of  Cox is a sight  to behind, humble at times and ill at ease as a performer . It’s an image that belies the assuredness of his and his band’s ability.

Deerhunter at ATP 2009 Festival, Minehead

Other highpoints are ‘Memory Boy’, the nearest to a radio friendly single, ‘Basement Scene’ which comes at you like an indie rock Everly Brothers, ‘Helicopter’ like Donovan and ‘Fountain Stairs’ like the Velvet Underground. There is so much of interest here for both revivalists and those looking for something new.

‘Desire Lines’ is another standout, fantastic mazy guitar riff carrying this centrepiece track on the album.

Not many bands are so aware of their studio, their production and instruments as Deerhunter. Perhaps The Walkmen are the only others able to take vintage sounds to create something so contemporary.

So where does this compare with Microcastle? Better is the answer as Deerhunter deliver one of the highpoints of the year.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Po’ Girl – Follow Your Bliss

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Po’ Girl – Follow Your Bliss

Posted on 24 September 2010 by Joe

Americana act Po’ Girl have really pushed the boundaries of the genre with their fifth album Follow Your Bliss.

The familiar, heartfelt country-music lyrics backed by banjo and dobro are still there but the act, who are originally from Vancouver, Canada have used a far broader pallet.

There are elements not just of jazz and soul, but gospel and even European folk with more unusual instruments such as clarinet and accordian coming to the fore. Its packed full of surprises and is an ambitious mix that works well, especially backed with the very different vocal styles of lead singers; the more traditional country music lilt of Allison Russell and the rawer emotion of Awna Teixeira.

Russell’s ‘Kathy’ opens the album. It’s a simple and effective track with guitar building up gradually to include banjo and trumpets before Teixeira joins in on backing vocals. It shows that Follow Your Bliss is a class apart from other Americana albums.

Teixeira takes over lead singing duties on track two ‘Montana’, a more standard country tune, but with a major twist as electric piano and clarinet take centre stage. The album continues on this similar mix of themes, introducing new sounds in a lush mix of styles. Among the standouts are Teixeira’s ‘Pink Shoes’ and Russell’s ‘Go Easy’. These are among the slower tunes, but have a genuine passion and sweetness.

The PR blurb accompanying our review copy is right to highlight the “new heights of musicianship and songwriting maturity” of the album.  This is one of the highlights of the year for us at Neon Filler, for its range and ability to take Americana, or ‘urban roots music’ as they call it, to a new level.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Wilco – Country Disappeared

Posted on 24 September 2010 by Joe

Recorded at the End of the Road Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens, on Sunday 12th September 2010.

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The Miserable Rich – Pisshead

Posted on 24 September 2010 by Joe

Recorded at the Willkommen Collective mini-festival, at the Union Chapel London, on Friday 12th June 2009.

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Revere – Hey! Selim

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Revere – Hey! Selim

Posted on 23 September 2010 by Joe

Revere has been knocking about the UK music scene for about five years now. Over that time the band has steadily grown in both size and scope, from original duo Stephen Ellis and Andrew Hawke to its current eight-strong line up featuring glockenspiel, a horn section and strings.

On Hey! Selim, their debut album from Albino Recordings, we find this larger Revere in epic mood, mixing Ennio Morricone style cinematic scoring, gypsy music, folk and Eastern European influences. Think Sigor Ros with a dash of Django Reinhardt and Clint Eastwood and you are somewhere near the sound they’ve conjured up.

The first half is the most accessible and where the best, most festival-crowd pleasing songs reside. ‘As The Radars Sleep’, the horn laden ‘We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow’ and  ‘The Escape Artist’, are among many highlights.

Revere  - Hey Selim

Revere - Hey Selim

The second half is less  accessible, but give it time and what at first sounds meandering soon becomes as appealing as the first half’s more radio friendly tracks.

‘I Bet You Want Blood’ is typical of this grower tag for the latter half. What starts off as a Doors-esque bluesy number soon opens out into Morricone horns as the pace builds up beautifully.

And on the low key ‘Too Many Satellites’ violin effectively takes centre stage, as it does on opener Forgotten Names and thereby creating a satisfying arc to the album.

One of the surprises of Hey! Selim is that it is a debut at all, that the band in all their guises and with an alumni that includes Rachel Unthank, has taken so long to come up with an album. It’s worth the wait though as Hey! Selim is one of the most powerful and ambitious albums you will hear from a UK band this year.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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