Title: Hot Wire
Label: Blairhill records
Tell me more: The Kane brothers were extremely able in the 1980s when they blew out of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire with their soul-funk inspirations which seemed to be popular in Scotland at the times with the likes of Love and Money and Hipsway. I Refuse was the first real sign of their talent, and few did.
The Lowdown: They’ve been listening to New Orleans funk, Sly and the Family Stone and maybe Curtis Mayfield, while observing the world at large. Opener, Duty to the Debtor is, as the title suggests, a diatribe on debt and poverty; Hand and Heart reworks the socialist slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” and life after the Arab Spring and other recent uprisings feature on If You Want Changes. Live, Pat and Greg Kane would be a fantastic party act, on Hot Wire the funk-soul mood works on such songs as Duty to the Debtor and If You Want Changes, but, the album doesn’t have a gear change.
Anything else: Pat Kane is also a clever clogs and an activist, instrumental in forming Artists for an Independent Scotland, a contributor to The Guardian and once Rector of the University of Glasgow.
Title: Both Ways Open Jaws
Label: Six Degrees
Tell me more: The double FFs combine, as in French multi-instrumentalist Dan Levy and Finnish singer Olivia Merilahti, who first teamed up in 2005 for a film soundtrack and then worked on a side project. This is The Dø’s second album, following A Mouthful from 2008.
The Lowdown: There’s similarities to Air and St Vincent on Both Ways … that atmospheric fusion of folk and basic elements of ambience, the kind of music you would play as the sun comes up on an all-night party on an Australian beach or in the middle of a long road trip when you need a backdrop to the endless desert or fields. Merilahti has a beautiful voice and Levy is adept that working his beats and rhythms around her, notably on The Wicked, the finest song Goldfrapp never recorded, or Gonna Be Sick! in which the Finn makes lines such as “gonna throw up” seem like a Sunday afternoon pleasure.
Title: Greatest Hits: Songs From the South Volumes 1 and 2
Tell me more: Australian musical exports make me shiver: Mental As Anything, Kylie, INXS, and various soap stars who’ve attempted to make a career out of bad cover versions and dance beats. A shame as it hides talents such as Midnight Oil, Nick Cave, The Go-Betweens and The Laughing Clowns. Paul Kelly, I have to say, I know nothing of, and that’s the same with most reviewers outwith the Lucky Country I assume. However, he garners enormous respect in Australia after a career that dates back to the mid-70s.
The Lowdown: Naturally, singing about your own culture, country and politics isn’t going to endear you to people in London or Los Angeles, but Kelly is a storyteller and his stories come from his travels and from his observations on Australia, such as From Little Things Grow Big Things, about Aboriginal land rights. He’s collaborated with Indigenous group Yothu Yindi, sampled Australian prime ministers and penned a tribute to outback outlaw Ned Kelly. Sometimes it’s just Kelly, sometimes he has a backing band, the Coloured Girls, or the Messengers.
There’s a lot to survey on Greatest Hits, as it covers a long period, from 1985’s St Kilda to King’s Cross to a light-hearted ditty about cricketer Shane Warne. Sport rarely features in music, but Kelly has also written a tribute on Ashes legend Don Bradman, which avoids cliches and platitudes. There’s far too much in here at 40 tracks to cover in this instance, but the tracks that have captured my attention so far, include Pouring Petrol On A Burning Man, with all the passion of a Midnight Oil single, the pop-frenzy of Look So Fine, Feel So Low and a live take of Every Fucking City which gets the crowd laughing in a very un-rock’n’roll manner as it relates to Kelly’s time in Europe when everywhere he went Livin’ La Vida Loca was being played. All the fucking time.