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Posts Tagged ‘The Proclaimers’

This is Porky’s annual round -up of, not necessarily the best albums of the year, – we haven’t heard the Leonard Cohen one after all – but the ones that endeared us the most.

The Black Seeds: Dust and Dirt (Rhythmethod/ DRM)

Solid Ground from 2008 moved the Seeds in a slightly different direction, one that encompassed more fluid influences. They haven’t strayed from that ubiquitous path on Dust and Dirt, although the trademark Jamaican grooves and skanks are very much in abundance.
You can imagine they’ve been listening to early 70s funk, 90s acid jazz and Curtis Mayfield on the tour bus. There’s an enormous amount of great ideas on this album, which is undoubtedly their finest yet, and the one that could smash open doors in North America, Europe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Paul Weller: Sonik Kicks (Universal)   SonikKicks_Cvr

In a 21-year solo career, Weller has never dwelled on the successes; every album is a new adventure, and to be truthful, some have needed to be to make amends for a lapse in judgment. Such an accusation can’t be levelled at Sonik Kicks, a glorious ride through rock and electronica’s magnificent history. Dragonfly soars like Goldfrapp with the scent of sci-fi wafting throughout; Around the Lake is a course, bitter fruit, with drumbeats and screechy effects mingling with guitars-a-plenty; Drifters has a flamenco touch, while Paperchase has ‘a slight Blur feel to it’ says Weller and it’s hard to disagree. Like Bowie he is a living legend but like The Grand Dame, he has that innate ability to change and move in a new direction, without sounding like a bandwagon hopper.

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The Heartbreaks: Funtimes (Nusic)

Funtimes is jaunty, effervescent and joyful, while referencing the decline of the great British seaside resort. You can imagine they spent their pre-teen years on the coconut shy and ungainly wrapping their arm around a girl, “I’ll be waiting outside the Winter Gardens, feeling slightly worse for wear; if talk of romance thrills you, honey, maybe I’ll see you there?” coos Matthew Whitehouse on Winter Gardens.
Standard indie guitars abound and it’s reminiscent of Tom Allalone and the 78s, who promised more than they actually delivered but the vigour, passion and northern Englishness of Funtimes is winning me.

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Madness: Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da ( Lucky Seven)  
Ah Madness, they call it gladness. The London boys have always had a place in the heart of this porker. Their tenth album, with a title that seems like it was taken from a Bad Manners b-side, won’t pretend to be their greatest but is one of the highlights of a grand year. It’s the poppy, ska-lite, soulful work I fully expected. My Girl 2 harks back to the single of 1979, and that feeling of nostalgia worms it’s way in syubtle ways throughout. Download-contender How Can I Tell You has a jolly ol’ knees-up Mother Brown feel to it, “the last chocolate in the box, a pair of mittens and some cotton socks”.
Madness always wore their influences proudly on their jackets, it was what endeared them to millions in the 1980s, so it’s only natural that will wear them loudly again in 2012.

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The Proclaimers: Like Comedy (Cooking Vinyl)  LIke Comedy

This is the sound of two men maturing: “A hundred years ago/ I thought happiness was ice cream and football/ But time went by so fast/ Till I couldn’t see their attractions at all.”
Nevertheless, despite their affection “for the lassies” there are the occasional nods to the national game, such as on the opener, where the brothers hope for a good season on account of their main foes’ poor defence.
It’s a typical Proclaimers mix of folk and country lurching from the reflective Dance With Me to the stirring There’s, though the highlight is the title track, which starts with one of the Reid brothers (they’re twins so fuck knows who’s at the mic) singing plaintively before both Craig and Charlie rouse their vocal chords with enough energy to wake up a morgue as they observe how life moves on form the days of hellraising.

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Richard Hawley:  Standing At The Sky’s Edge

Sitars mingle with distorted guitars on the seven-minute opener,  She Brings The Sun, and I’m transported back to the meeting that never happened between The Beatles and The Byrds.
Later, a surge of guitars drone out from the start to Down Into The Woods and the incessant hum continues for the remainder of this wonderful little buzz. It’s surprising, and refreshing to have a massive gear change, with Seek It offering beautiful harmonies, a love song without the clichés.

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Factory Star: New Sacral (Occultation recordings / Fishrider records)

Mini-album New Sacral is a work that delves into the darker side of life, with an eerie, yet invigorating Strangely Lucid being the focal point of the release. It does share an affinity with Blue Orchids’ Greatest Hit album from 1982, (which I was coincidentally listening to before receiving this), notably on Incorruptible where Martin Bramah (ex-Orchids) intones the title track numerous occasions with a grim knowningness. It would fit in perfectly on the Flying Nun label but much kudos to Fishrider records for picking up on this.

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Bruce Foxton: Back In The Room (Basstone)

Back In The Room sees Foxton’s oft-fracticious relationship with Paul Weller seemingly fully repaired as the legend appears on three tracks, and that Weller-Jam influence is fairly obvious, sometimes too transparently, but that is far from a fault. It means enchanting pop dongs like Number Six, the blues-driven verse-chorus-verse anthem Find My Way Home and the essence of Motown in Don’t Waste My Time.

Piano playing augments The Gaffa, a trip back to the days of rock’n’roll; there’s a couple of pleasant instrumentals while there’s a feeling of contendness on the breezy Drifting Dreams.

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Ultrasound: Play For Today (Fierce Panda)  Ultrasound

It’s been a whopping 13 years since Ultrasound released their one and only platter. Money wasn’t a motivator, but a need to prove that they could have made an impact is.

It is somewhat fitting then that the opening track is Welfare State, released in an era where the unemployed are regarded as pariahs, on a level slightly below Middle Eastern bombers and child-snatchers. “We are the greasy, unwashed scum/ We are the paupers on the run/ We’ve never done a day’s work in our lives.” intones Wood, mimicking hundreds of right-wing, snooty tabloid headlines.

Long Way Home is gloriously upbeat, as it purrs along like a Japanese car on the fastest highway in the country. These two plus Twins more than mitigate for some of the lesser lights, such as Glitter Box that seems out of place.

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Jim Jones Revue: The Savage Heart (Play It Again Sam)

Jim Jones and his Revue offer no surprises, no charm offensive .. it’s the bare-bones rock’n’roll rampage of a band born with The Cramps and Bo Diddley playing at their birth, and Iggy and Jerry Lee Lewis at the first birthday party.

Radio won’t play them but word of mouth has seen the not-so-young rockers with greased-back quiffs move up from the toilet circuit to proper venues.

Needless to say there’s no room for electronics; it has strong whiffs of 1950s attitude, 70s raw power and the proto-goth rock of the Birthday Party in the 80s. Rock on.

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Madness: Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da ( Lucky Seven)  
Ah Madness, they call it gladness. The London boys have always had a place in the heart of this porker. Their tenth album, with a title that seems like it was taken from a Bad Manners b-side, won’t pretend to be their greatest but is one of the highlights of a grand year. It’s the poppy, ska-lite, soulful work I fully expected. My Girl 2 harks back to the single of 1979, and that feeling of nostalgia worms it’s way in syubtle ways throughout. Download-contender How Can I Tell You has a jolly ol’ knees-up Mother Brown feel to it, “the last chocolate in the box, a pair of mittens and some cotton socks”.
Madness always wore their influences proudly on their jackets, it was what endeared them to millions in the 1980s, so it’s only natural that will wear them loudly again in 2012.

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Porky has had a soft spot for The Proclaimers since he borrowed their spectacles in 1987, the year they released their semi-acoustic, but sizzling debut, Throw The R Away. They no longer sing about their Scottish accent or away trips in Scottish football, and focus more on love, family life, and everything that the world can throw their way. Their latest album, Like Comedy (Cooking Vinyl) is the sound of two men maturing, and they even explain this organic change on Women and Song, “A hundred years ago/ I thought happiness was ice cream and football/ But time went by so fast/ Till I couldn’t see their attractions at all.”

Nevertheless, despite their affection “for the lassies” there are the occasional nods to the national game, such as on the opener, where the brothers hope for a good season on account of their main foes’ poor defence. Their standing within Scottish musical circles is not without a doubt: tours are sold out from Kirkcudbright to Kirkwall, and they have not forgotten their homeland, or the accents even though they no longer sing in their Perthshire brogue: “There’s you lying on your quilt/ There’s your west of Scotland lilt/ Singing me your guilt.”

It’s a typical Proclaimers mix of folk and country lurching from the reflective Dance With Me to the stirring There’s, though the highlight is the title track, which starts with one of the Reid brothers (they’re twins so fuck knows who’s at the mic) singing plaintively before both Craig and Charlie rouse their vocal chords with enough energy to wake up a morgue as they observe how life moves on form the days of hellraising.

The Proclaimers have often been the source of ridicule with their glasses and the pasty-puff cover that was King of the Road, but Like Comedy sees them finding some form as the folicles disappear and the kids are of an age where they can do exactly what their dads did in their youth.

The Proclaimers are a product of Auchermuchty but Garbage owes much of its success to their Edinburgh-born lead singer, Shirley Manson, who was once a part of the criminally under-rated Goodbye Mr MacKenzie. Garbage had a sparkling self-titled debut in 1995 which was a prod in the belly of Britpop with a lukewarm fork. This was how grunge should have evolved, retaining much of the noise and passion but channelling that into a sound that was feisty but electro-charged and adventurous.

Manson is certainly feisty and kicks off Not Your Kind of People (Stun Volume/ Liberator Music) – in velicose mood, on Automatic Systematic Habit, bellowing LIES LIES LIES at a presumed former lover, before telling us why exactly she’s slightly peed off. “Oh men like you keep me up at night/ you want your woman at home and your bit on the side.” Which is all well and good but I can’t imagine a male singer  saying the same thing, replacing men with women and escaping being labelled sexist.

Plenty of fuzzy guitars abound, Manson adopts a near-rap style on Blood for Poppies and it has a frenetic feel, as if they’re keen to make up for lost time. Control is a track that could have fitted on their debut, with its choppy beats and rousing verse. It’s followed by the title track that brings the mood down a notch, and is the weak link in an album that fails to break new ground, though that may not have been the purpose. This is an album whose objective is to reclaim some ground away from the emo bands, Radiohead and even the Gaga generation.

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