Monday, 22 February 2010

Song of the Week #8: "Someday" by Embrace

Embrace's first album was a big player in soundtracking my first year of Uni, bombastic, epic songs like Come Back To What You Know making their mark in those years straight after Britpop. The couple of albums that followed got slowly weaker, to the point that when they returned in 2004 with Out Of Nothing, hopes weren't high. Fortunately it turned out to be a career peak, full of big guitars and immense tunes, of which Someday is a fine example.
Spotify: Embrace

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Song of the Week #7: "Tinsel & Ivy" by Montage

A little bit of obscure long-out-of-print, super-fey 60s baroque pop this week, with Tinsel & Ivy from the self-titled 1969 album by Left Banke off-shoot Montage. I randomly found this in a record shop on Bleecker Street in New York, which was a nice surprise (never having seen anything Left Banke-related in any shop ever). By no means the most macho song in existence, but what a tune!

MP3: Montage - Tinsel & Ivy

Wikipedia: The Left Banke

Monday, 8 February 2010

Song of the Week #6: "Hide Behind The Sun" by Natalie Imbruglia

Listening to Civil Twilight's 'Human' put me in the mood for further piano balladry, which I've stretched out into a very tasty compilation CD for the car, full of (mostly morose) piano/voice songs (with a little extra accompaniment here and there). Songs with this arrangement have always been hugely appealing to me - not sure why, just something about a well-played piano being a suitable setting for 4 minutes of maudlin beauty. Good examples? How about Number Crunch by Mike Viola, My Blue Manhattan by Ryan Adams, Only In The Movies by David Mead, NY by Frida Hyvonen, Flint (For The Unemployed And Underpaid) by Sufjan Stevens and Untitled by Tom McRae.

And there's also Hide Behind The Sun by Natalie Imbruglia. Around the time of her first album in '97, a string of singles gave way to a set of cracking b-sides, of which I *think* this was one (I question that statement as I can't remember owning it on CD, but it's sat very nicely for many a year in my Natalie Imbruglia B-sides folder in iTunes). Anyway, this is a real beauty, stark and

"Tonight... everything but me /
Taken out to sea /

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

It's all the things you can't explain...

Gotta say, I'm a sucker for a bit of melancholy, particularly when it's done by the likes of Leaves or Coldplay. In that vein, some of the stuff on the new album by Civil Twilight has really hit home. My pick would be Human, an utterly gorgeous piano ballad with a keening vocal that, while a more cynical soul might suggest it's been designed by committee to soundtrack death scenes in Grey's Anatomy, has more than enough emotional weight to stand on its own two feet. Other tunes on the album, like the single Letters From The Sky, have studied the Coldplay template maybe a bit too closely (which I guess is only a slur if you think Coldplay are unemotional and overblown), but if a touch of maudlin indie-rock is called for, this record is a good punt.

MP3: Civil Twilight - Human

Monday, 1 February 2010

Song of the Week #5: "Love Made A Fool Of Me" by the Carolines

It's fair to say my knowledge of 60s girl pop acts hasn't previously stretched much further than the usual Motown suspects and a healthy selection of work by the late and very great Dusty Springfield. Hurrah then for the Eclipse label's 'The Girls Are At It Again: UK Beat Girls 1964-1969', which lays out 20 joyous pop obscurities on one disc.

Some of the names are familiar (Diana Dors, Kiki Dee), but mostly these are presumably one- or indeed no-hit-wonders. Pick of the bunch is Love Made A Fool Of Me by the Carolines. It's a cracking tune, and even though the subject matter has been done to death before and since, the anguish in that chorus vocal is still guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine:

"Love made a fool of me /
What can I do now I've lost you? /
It's over now, leave it that way"

MP3: Carolines - Love Made A Fool Of Me

Buy: Amazon