The Courage of Others is the 2010 follow up to The Trials of Van Occupanther, a record I was (and still am) obsessed with. I remember being slightly underwhelmed by The Courage of Others when it came out, thinking it was a bit pompous. in many ways it’s a lot different to Trials but I persevered and I now find it heartfelt and joyous. There’s no doubt it harks back to seventies British folk, I feel like I can hear Richard Thompson’s guitar and Sandy Denny on backing vocals….Acts of Man is the glorious album opener, powerful and understated, never fails to give me the tingles. There are not enough flutes in modern rock.
A trip through the music that's influenced the Boot Palace sound. A mix of styles, genres and moods - tunes that move me.
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One of the most original bands to hail from the land of song, Gorky’s mixed off the wall psychedelic rock with folk in English and Welsh. Patio Song, from the album Barafundle, was possibly their biggest ‘hit’, at least their most well-known tune. I bought this on CD single when it first came out and it has stayed with me ever since. It’s an unashamed love song that never fails to make me smile – deliberately slightly twee, yet heart warming and wonderful. Thanks Euros!
On the 25th anniversary of The Good Will Out, I’ve been revisiting this album and seen Embrace play it live in full. The band lost me after this record but it brings back so many memories and I still adore this set of songs, they really move me. It’s an unapologetic straight up bunch of anthems about love, written by a group of young lads who weren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. The fact that the five of them are still going with no line-up changes at all is quite remarkable.
Retread isn’t one of the big songs from the album but it’s one of my favourites – this is the live version from Abbey Road sessions in 1998.
I love the guitar sound on this record. I’d class it as heavy shoegaze, it’s bass forward and the guitars are immense. It was recorded in 1990 and still sounds fresh to me, Adam Franklin’s vocals sound like an edgy Elvis Costello after someone has spilled his pint. Rave on, rave down.
From the breakout album Sweet Oblivion, I prefer Dollar Bill to the big hit Nearly Lost You. I’ve just finished the Mark Lanegan memoir of that period Sing Backwards and Weep – it’s a pretty shocking account of how far he plumbed the depths of humanity, and I think you can hear it in his voice on this record. Mark sang more accomplished material with a stronger and more intense vocal later in life but I think this was where he really started finding his tone. RIP Mark, your voice moved me.
Geese were totally new to me this week, having come across them at the End of the Road. Billed as New York punks, they didn’t really sound anything like that to me but having subsequently listened to their releases, they don’t really fit easily into any particular genre. I found them to be more straight ahead American rock but they do have something different about them, enjoying this track. The video is billed as ‘4D Country’ as it is an elongated version of the album cut i.e. they milk the southern rock guitar riffs at the end – no bad thing.
The strange, non-sensical lyrics and jerky rhythm made this tune all the more futuristic sounding at its release in 1980. Does it stand up? I think it does – still sounds great after all these years. Apparently the lyrics are meant to be a series of motivational statements poking fun at the American can-do attitude. There is a rather misogynistic MTV video for this song that came out at the time, I watched it again recently (and won’t be republishing it here!) – it’s cringy and doesn’t fit with the song’s intention at all – guess it helped sell records 30 years ago.
The angular genius of Kiran Leonard, he’s quite mesmerising live. His songs are intelligent lyrically and take a bit of perseverance to fully embrace, but the journey is well worth the reward friends. Start with Grapefruit, from which this track Secret Police is taken, and move on from there.
Laconic delivery, expertly crafted politically charged lyrics with a thinly veiled sarcasm, South London’s Goat Girl are one of the best bands to come out of the post-punk scene that’s been bubbling up over the last few years. I’ve seen them a good few times and they never disappoint live either. A couple of great albums in now, I hope they build on their success and get taken as seriously as some of the other bands in this sub-genre.
If you’re reading this I assume you already own at least one copy of Solid Air. If not, please rectify this situation forthwith. Seminal 70’s folk/rock crossover with a smattering of psychedelia and the odd jazz note thrown in. It was recorded in 1972 with the great Danny Thompson on bass and various other folk luminaries of the time. I was introduced to this masterpiece of an album in my teens and it’s rarely been too far from my Walkman. I got to see John Martyn live just once in 1997 at the long gone Mean Fiddler in Harlesden. I could barely speak with excitement.
Here’s some indie rock with a healthy undercurrent of garage and blues. Sounds American but they hail firmly from this sceptred isle. Came across them at Glastonbury 2023 and their album Cub has barely been off the turntable since.
My first memory of Sparks was hearing The Number One Song in Heaven on a C90 recorded compilation I found lying around the house when I was a kid (home taping is killing music!). For the record, other ‘hits’ on that compilation were Duke of Earl, In the Navy and so on – of their time you might say……although I now recognise how Sparks were actually ahead of their time with that song, it still stands up well today.
Fast forward to 2009 when I first got to see them live doing Kimono My House and Exotic Creatures of the Deep in full, I was blown away by the performance and how inventive the songs were. This track Lighten Up Morrissey is from that Exotic Creatures album which I love, particularly the fantastic song titles including I Can’t Believe That You Would Fall For All The Crap In This Song.
Randomly came across Paranoid Void while buying a drink at the bar in Portals Festival 2023. Those in the know were already crowded around the tiny stage and everyone else who wandered in was similarly transfixed, what a sound. Three incredibly talented Japanese women playing the most intricate and beautiful tunes. Will be seeking them out when they are next playing in the UK.
The 2001 album Rock Action has a fair few tracks with vocals, not their usual style, and this one in particular doesn’t sound very Mogwai at all. It’s a lovely song with vocals in Welsh by Gruff and Cian from Super Furry Animals. I suppose the coming together of Scots and Welsh does give it a very celtic folky feel. I imagine it playing while I’m sat by the fire in an old pub with a pint of Brains Bitter on the go….or walking up the hill towards a wicker man….a weird combination of those two things.
This track from Liverpool tunesmith Bill Ryder-Jones is probably my favourite of his. A bit shoegaze but also reminds me a lot of Red House Painters. Bill is great to see live, an understated entertainer who connects with his audience on their level, funny, engaging and self-deprecating. Catch him next time he’s on your manor.
Introduced to me this week by Eel Pie Records, the raw and excellent Laurel Canyon. Total grunge and shoegaze melded together. Really like the album, it’s a head nodder and a bit of a throwback but that’s ok.
It’s also a watershed moment…..we’ve got to the point where the youth are taking back the name Laurel Canyon from Joni, Neil and Mama Cass – have these kids no respect?! Go kids! Love it.
This will wake you up….the opening track of one of my favourite albums. Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea by the sensational Polly Jean Harvey. Heading firmly into National Treasure territory, not sure if she would appreciate that really, but she’s been creating raw and unique records for the best part of 30 years and is constantly reinventing herself. Mesmerising live, I’ve seen her sat on the floor in a flowing white robe playing just an autoharp, reciting poetry all the way to rocking a big stage in a mini-dress and cowboy boots with huge distorted guitar riffs.
One of the most original, inspirational and emotive artists these isles have ever produced imho.
This one is from Micah’s 2022 album I Lie to You. He’s been around in my consciousness/record collection since about 2007. A haggard, harrowed voice like treacle over a cheese grater, he’s had a chequered past and by his own admission is a flawed individual who hasn’t necessarily made the best choices in life – a journey poured heart and soul into his songs that are raw and powerful.
I’d been listening to his music probably for a year or two before I got to see him live and was taken aback at how young he was. I’d been assuming this fella was in his seventies with a lifetime of woe behind him! Beautiful and heart-rending stuff.
Austin psychedelic rock gods The Black Angels bang on your door with a relentless thud until you’re forced to let them in to wash your brain with a kaleidoscopic noise. Stephanie Bailey hits her snare drum so hard, it makes you fear for the building. Eventually you’re sucked into their world unsure if you’ll ever come out the other side.
A classic piece of shoegaze from 1996. Hypnotic, slack and edgy, it makes you close your eyes, raise your arms and sway.
You should be picking me up, instead you’re dragging me down.
Apparently Anthony Bourdain’s favourite song. No doubt he had this on the bluetooth speaker in his hotel room when he departed this dusty and oppressive world.
Released in 2021, this song has only recently popped up on my radar, not sure how because it seems like it’s massively popular….perhaps that’s why 🙂
It’s a feel good bit of lovely indie-folk and I can’t get enough of it at the moment. Big Red Machine is a long-time collaboration between Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame. Throw in Fleet Foxes and Anaïs Mitchell to an already super supergroup and it’s probably getting a bit ridiculous, some cynics might think it’s twee, but this is a brilliantly crafted tune.
I would love to hear it one summer’s afternoon in a big field, I’d be smiling all the way through.
An unashamed, feel good pop tune from The Delgados. It’s summer in Glasgow (probably raining) 2004 and this track never fails to make me smile. Throw the windows open, turn it up loud and bop around the living room.
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