Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Save the Fence Homegame!

It seems that Fife Council are planning to block the Fence Collective from holding the third Homegame festival in Anstruther next year after ONE person complained. You'd think the local cooncil would welcome an event that brought custom to local businesses and put Fife on the cultural map. Here's a message from Glasgow's Viva Stereo. Make sure you sign the petition folks!

Earlier this year we played The Fence Homegame in a wee Fishing village of Anstruther in Fife, Scotland. We opened the weekend's events (which was a great privilege) which also featured performances from James Yorkston, King Creosote, Pictish trail, Adem, Lone Pigeon, Aidan Smith and loads others.....
anyway it was a great weekend, very relaxed by the sea with loads happening and everyone had fun including the local businesses who made a fortune from the festival go-ers. Unfortunately one local person, out of the whole place complained...and this has meant the festival might not go ahead next year which would be a shame.
Anyway,we would be very grateful if you could take one minute of your time....and thats all it would take...to sign the petition to try and prove to the council the event should be staged again next year. We realise this will mean nothing to 99.9% of you would we would appreciate it :)


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Cat Power - The Greatest

Not that we need any excuse to post a picture of Chan Marshall, but in case you haven't heard, a new Cat Power album will be with us in January. It's called The Greatest and you can listen to the title track here. Absolutely gorgeous it is too. The opening piano line reminds me a little of Neil Young's Philadelphia, but then it goes into a lush Bobbie Gentry style country soul ballad, all plaintive strings, wisps of tremelo guitar and Dusty in Memphis backing vocals. Oh man! Can't wait to hear the whole album.

Ten Beardy Belters

Here's a little something I did for the Pinup Nights zine...

Ten Beardy Belters

Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom (Ryko, 1974)
In which pop’s greatest beard and most touching singer embarks on a new life, as an artist and human being, with wife and collaborator Alfie. Left paralysed from the waist down after falling out of a window at a party, Wyatt, one of rock’s most inventive drummers in Soft Machine, was forced to rethink his approach. Recorded with British jazz rock luminaries, Rock Bottom is a strange and beautiful work, at turns funny, perplexing and deeply moving. In the peerless Sea Song Wyatt imagines his lover as strange sea-creature, before wondering how to reconcile such romantic fantasies with the reality of playing “at being human for while”. Elsewhere, Ivor Cutler plays his harmonium and talks of moles. What’s not to love?

Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue (Caribou, 1977)
As Brian Wilson retreated into his depression it was left to his brothers Carl and Dennis to lead the Beach Boys. Dennis’s songs were often the high points of the band’s 70s albums, but this is his flawed masterpiece. The cover shot of a weathered, shaggily bearded Dennis against a golden California sunset gives a good indication of the album’s bittersweet mood. It’ s super slick LA pop-rock, Jim, but not as we know it. The opening River Song is gloriously affirmative, sounding like a less opiated Spiritualized, all gospel choirs and grandiose piano and guitar. Then there are the ballads, where lush orchestral bombast will drop out, leaving Dennis alone at the piano, his voice ravaged and aching, vulnerable to the point of desperation. Until it gets a proper reissue, the internet is your best bet for getting hold of this remarkable album.

The Band – The Band (Columbia, 1969)
One band, so many whiskers. Going beyond the beardy weirdiness of the debut Music From The Big Pink to tap into a rich seam of American history, The Band sing of Civil War veterans, farmers hoping for a good harvest and old sea dogs called Willie. Gotta be a few beards in there. Musically, they incorporate such beard friendly genres and country, bluegrass, Appalachia and Dixie jazz. How more beard could this be? The answer is none, none more beard.

The Congos – Heart Of The Congos (Blood & Fire, 1977)
Quite possibly Lee Perry’s greatest production, Heart Of The Congos is roots reggae at its most transcendent. Cedric Myton’s sublime falsetto and Roydell’s tenor float over astonishing dubbed out soundscapes, all tribal rhythms, percolating guitar and organ and otherworldly effects that range from the uncanny (percussion that sounds like creaking ropes and chains) to the absurd (Perry’s trademark moo cow). A beard and dread sporting masterpiece.

Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (Hannibal, 1968)
Along with Paul Giovanni’s Wickerman soundtrack, there is no finer album for growing a beard and dancing naked with wood sprites to than ISB’s acid folk classic. Combing folk with Indian classical, medieval music and whatever bonkers ideas came into their heads, this is a record of vision and wide-eyed charm, a key influence on the likes of Devendra Banhart and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Master & Everyone (Drag City 2003)
Steve Gullick’s masterful cover short captures the Bonnie Prince, aka Will Oldham at his beardiest, looking like some mystic who’s just emerged from the wilderness. But far from being the ravings of a wild man this is Oldham’s most considered album. One of those rare albums that sustains a mood for its entirety, M&E is beautifully spare and understated, recalling the English folk of Shirley Collins and Nick Drake as much as the lo-fi Americana that made Oldham’s name. Ruminating on the give and take of relationships, Oldham longs to be loved as he is in ‘Wolf Among Wolves’, beard and all.

My Morning Jacket – At Dawn (Darla 2001)
Fuck Kings Of Leon; when it comes to modern day Southern rock (and quality beards) the Jacket are the reigning monarchs. Place Neil Young, Lynnyrd Skynnyrd and the Flaming Lips at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, ply them with Wild Turkey and good weed, and they might come up with something like At Dawn. From the evocative title track, through the star-kissed revery of Bermuda Higway and country pop of …MMJ ride a wave of reverb and soar into the stratosphere.

Willie Nelson – Shotgun Willie (Atlantic 1973)
It’s hard to believe but Willie Nelson was once a clean shaven Nashville crooner and songwriter for hire. But then he moved to Austin, Texas, grew his hair and smoked a bunch of weed, becoming a maverick country superstar in the process. Country rock has rarely sounded as loose and as funky as on the title track and the hit Whiskey River, while on ballads like Not For You, Willie’s vocals are immaculately phrased, his guitar playing full of jazzy inflections.

Comets On Fire – Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop 2004)
A band of deranged rock n roll Dr Frankensteins, reanimating the twisted remains of 70s prog and heavy rock, Comets have the power to make your beards stand on end. Running their instruments through archaic effects and echo boxes, these hairy freaks create a sound akin to Sonic Youth jamming with the wacked out Pink Floyd of Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother. With a bit of MC5 bluster and skronk thrown in for good measure. Guitars flail and burn, drums pound and feedback dances dervish like into the heavens. Out of the melee monstrous riffs emerge, leavened by unexpectedly pretty acoustic guitar and organ flourishes. Incandescent and interstellar: Comets On Fire more than live up to their name.

Moondog – Viking Of Sixth Avenue (Honest Jon’s, 2005)
Moondog aka Louis Hardin was a blind, homeless composer of incredible scope. He would perform on the street and in concert halls and is estimated to have written over 300 madrigals, scores for brass and string orchestras, organ and piano pieces and over 80 symphonies. What a guy and what a beard! This wonderful new compilation is the perfect introduction to his odd and beautiful world.