Category Archives: Alternative

Spiritualized – Broken Heart (1997)

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Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space is a majestic album. It was recorded shortly after the break-up of Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce and Kate Radley, the band’s keyboard player. Radley had secretly married Richard Ashcroft of The Verve. ‘Though I have a broken heart/I’m too busy to be heartbroken”. Have a great weekend.

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Jonathan Wilson – Loving You (2018)

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Jonathan Wilson’s work has featured here before. The Laurel Canyon multi-instrumentalist released his highly regarded Gentle Spirit album back in 2011. Where his sound was once dusty (‘Desert Raven’), it is now cosmic, spiritual even … guest artist Laraaji adds a New Age cherry on top for this journey through the clouds. ‘Loving You‘ is a pre-realease single off Wilson’s new king player Rare Birds. Happy Valentine’s.

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Kevin Morby – City Music (2017)

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Kevin Morby’s fourth solo album City Music is an exploration of urban life. The album’s centrepiece is its title track with its repetitive vocals and intertwining guitars, before it slows back down to a late night walking pace. I think he found his downtown.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1997

A compilation for the weekend. My favourite 9 songs of 1997, bookended by Radiohead. There are no surprises there; I have showed some restraint by not featuring more of their work.

Radiohead – Airbag

Supergrass – Late In The Day

Yo La Tengo – Stockholm Syndrome

The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Embrace – All You Good Good People

Pavement – Stereo

Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space

Björk – Unravel

Radiohead – Let Down

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Honourable mentions also go to: Radiohead for ‘No Surprises’; Radiohead for ‘Paranoid Android‘; Radiohead for ‘Lift‘; Supergrass ‘Richard III‘; Spiritualized ‘Broken Heart’; Yo La Tengo for ‘Autumn Sweater’, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for ‘Into My Arms‘; Daft Punk for ‘Around The World’; NuYorican Soul (featuring Jocelyn Brown) for ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It!’ and The Notorious B.I.G. for ‘Mo Money Mo Problems‘.

I realise now that four albums – classic albums – were crowding out others from my ears in 1997.

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The Fall – Bill Is Dead (1990)

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R.I.P. Mark E. Smith; the legendary contrarian and frontman of The Fall died two weeks ago after an extended period of ill health. Two decades ago, his life was about to hit a rough patch. His marriage to Brix Smith-Start was failing and his father died of a heart attack at the unripe age of 59. His response was to release the album Extricate, which features ‘Bill Is Dead’ with its ironic chant “These are the greatest times of my life.”

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street (2013)

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‘Jubilee Street’ was the second single from The Bad Seeds’ album Push the Sky Away. This slow burner has echoes of The Velvet Underground; a song about a prostitute named Bee who lived on Jubilee Street in Brighton. Before the Australian star left the city for L.A., following the death of his son, he had spent the best part of two decades down on the south coast. That’s enough time to see a lot of change. Have a great weekend.

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Big Star – Stroke it Noel (1975)

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In late 1974, Alex Chilton and band went into Stax’s studio and recorded the album 3rd. Already recognised for their self-conscious power pop, this album was much more experimental and final. The band was falling apart, but the album would become highly influential in the development of alternative rock. The delicate  ‘Stroke It Noel’ reminds me of Van Morrisoon, John Cale…. “Do you want to dance?”

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Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans (2011)

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I have been keeping an ear open for Will Toledo ever since I first listened to the remarkable ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ a couple of years back. I am pleased, yet disappointed, to see that he has just released a video and single edit of an old track. ‘Nervous Young Inhumans’ featured on his album Twin Fantasy, which he self-released in 2012. New material, Mr Barnes!

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Pavement – Stereo (1997)

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Good morning! Some dissonance to clear the weekend cobwebs. The single ‘Stereo’ featured on their Pavement’s fourth album Brighten The Corners. Stephen Malkmus yells, “listen to me, I’m on the stereo!” Has it really been over 20 years? Have a great week.

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Alt-J – Something Good (2012)

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In 2012, Alt-J was awash with critical praise. At first listen, one could draw comparisons to Radiohead, but there was something alt in the cosmic folk of ‘Something Good’. Singer Joe Newman evokes the bullring, and like a band of picadores, the group tease listeners with a number of entwined musical interludes. The song features on their award-winning album An Awesome Wave. 

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The Strokes – Reptilia (2003)

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Unlike one of their songs, no one wanted The Strokes sound to come to an abrupt stop. Two long years after the release of Is This It, came their second L.P. Room On Fire. The album featured ‘Reptilia’, a scientific term for the part of the brain we share with reptiles. The song seems to be about a long night that’s not going so well. “The room is on fire as she’s fixing her hair.” The song evidently gave the album its name and tempo. Have a great week.

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The Killers – When You Were Young (2006)

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From nature to an outright affected indie anthem. ‘When You Were Young’ was released in September 2006 as the lead single off The Killers’ sophomore album Sam’s Town. Heavily influenced by the early work of Bruce Springsteen, Brandon Flowers came up with the standout, singalong lyric, “He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like a gentleman.”

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Destroyer – Dream Lover (2015)

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This sound oozes nostalgia. Apparently, Dan Bejar made his band record ‘Dream Lover’ after just two rehearsals. In a parallel universe, I hear Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue trying to do a Lou Reed impression while being supported by a horn-laced E Street Band. “Here comes the sun.” I hope so. ‘Dream Lover’ was the first single from Destroyer’s 10th album, Poison Season. Have a great weekend.

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Mew – Special (2005)

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A decade earlier, south of Malmö, Jonas Bjerre, Bo Madsen, Johan Wohlert and Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen were also tapping an older sound. The Danish quartet released their album And The Glass Handed Kites in 2015. It featured the single ‘Special’ – a slice of pure 1990s alt rock.

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Death And Vanilla ‎- California Owls (2015)

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Happy New Year folks! The Swedish duo of Marleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson formed Death And Vanilla in Malmö and quickly set about using the vibraphone, organ, mellotron and Moog to recreate a certain sound of yesteryear. Their 2015 album To Where the Wild Things Are included the dreamy pop number ‘California Owls’.

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