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Band of the month

July 1, 2017

JULY 2017

The first thing that’s got to be said is what a cracking album cover. And a very suitable one too, because subversive humour has a big part to play in Madonnatron’s music.

Unless you frequent the Windmill in Brixton, chances are that you never even knew about Madonnatron until I mentioned them just now. But things could start getting interesting for them from here. Two years ago, when Charlotte, Beth and Stefania formed the band, they could barely play an instrument between them. But they’ve worked hard, played a lot of gigs around south London, and had some valuable support from Trashmouth records. Most importantly, they’ve been writing some seriously good tunes. Earlier this year the band became a foursome with the addition of former flatmate Joannie.

Their debut album, also called Madonnatron, has just been released on iTunes and will be getting its proper launch on 29th July. It’s apparent right away that these girls know their music. I don’t know who their influences are, but I detect a bit of PJ Harvey in there, and an affinity for the gothic. They were probably laughing as they wrote these songs : it’s like they’re gently poking fun at a certain type of male rock artist who takes himself too seriously. But while some of the lyrics are a bit of a send-up, the music never descends into pastiche. Creating music that is genuinely unsettling is a difficult thing, but whether it’s a slow noirish number like Glenn Closer or the fast and fearsome garage of Mother’s Funeral Madonnatron do a good job of creating a certain mood, and that reflects the amount of different ideas that have gone into each song.

“We are playing a modest handful of festivals this summer,” they told the Indie-pendent, “and are very much looking forwards to Green Man festival in August.” They’ve also begun writing material for a second album; however “we are not one of those garage or punk bands that spend the whole time doing the same 3 chords and play for people who have listened to the same few bands all their lives, so I cannot tell you what the next album will sound like at this point. 

Madonnatron – Tron

 

Madonnatron – Sangue Neuf

and the obligatory creepy video :

Madonnatron – Headless Children

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Musicians and Trump

January 27, 2017

I’m very grateful to Anne-Marie Sanderson for sending me this. And I’m mightily interested in hearing from more of you with links to songs that you or others have written which express your thoughts or feelings about living in Trump’s America. They don’t necessarily have to be protest songs, though protest songs are very welcome. Just leave a comment on this post or email me, and then sometime toward the end of 2017 I’ll put together a compilation for y’all.

Anne-Marie Sanderson – Red Giant

“It’s taken me a while to process what’s happened and what could happen as a result of November’s election. For quite some time I, like so many others, was shocked beyond belief, lost for words, lost in despair. But sometimes inspiration and hope pop up from the unlikeliest of places. In her eloquent Golden Globe acceptance speech (the one where she slams Trump without ever saying his name), Meryl Streep quoted the immortal wisdom of Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart and make it into art.” Such a simple turn of phrase, almost cliche, and yet it resonated so strongly with me. So, that’s what I decided to do. Although I wasn’t able to take to the streets in protest this past weekend, this song and video are my own response to Trump’s inauguration and the looming shadow of his presidency. This is my first (and perhaps not my last) protest song.”

 

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Pity the Downtrodden Landlord : songs of tenants rights

February 7, 2016

I’ve resisted the temptation to include songs about homelessness as well. These are songs with strong lyrics and a linking theme. I understand that the Alistair Hulett and David Rovics songs are about actual historical struggles, but please do leave a comment if you have background to any of these songs. If you have similar songs that you want to share, please leave a link if you can.

Fred Hellerman – Pity the Downtrodden Landlord

Stan Kelly & Leon Rosselson – Greedy Landlord

Malvina Reynolds – The Faucets Are Dripping

Mike Rawson & Rob Rosenthal – Talking Tenant Blues

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – Raisin’ the Rent

John Lee Hooker – House Rent Boogie

Mercy Dee Walton & Thelma Walton – Rent Man Blues

The Mersey Wreckers – Back Buchanan Street

Charlie Poole – Moving Day

Jimmy Collier – Rent Strike Blues

The Pogues – Boys From The County Hell

Public Order Act – Pay Your Rent

Alistair Hulett – Mrs. Barbour’s Army

David Rovics – Landlord

Rory McLeod – Defending Our Homes

It would be wrong of me not to give a passing mention to the recently discovered Woody Guthrie song Old Beach Haven Ain’t My Home, written when he was a tenant of Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump. Sadly no recordings exist as far as I’m aware, but we can get the gist from the lyrics : “Beach Haven looks like Heaven/Where no black ones come to roam!/No, no, no! Old Man Trump! Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

 

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2 million hits

January 26, 2016

On Wednesday 27th January this site will pass 2 million hits.

To mark the occasion, I’m giving some free songs away. If you email me at nctwall@hotmail.com before midnight Wednesday, I’ll send you two or more songs from any country in the world of your choice. The only restriction is that it can’t be a country where you’ve ever lived.

My music of the world project is still in the works : you can read about it here – https://foreverycountryasong.wordpress.com/about/ .

Nick

 

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The blues ain’t dead

December 13, 2015

… you just need to look in the right places. These guys got the rhythm and they got the blues. All from albums released in the last 12 months (a couple from December 2014, so they just qualify).

Boubacar Traoré – Hona

Malian blues. “He was the first to play Mandingo-based music on electric guitar, long before his junior, Ali Farka Touré.” In 2015 Kar Kar still has that rhythm.

Charlie Parr – Empty Out Your Pockets

Folk blues by perhaps the greatest bluesman in America today.

Dead Sara – Mr Mr

Californian blues rock, fronted by Emily Armstrong and Siouxsie Medley.

Fiona Boyes – I Done Quit

Aussie blues. “I ain’t never heard a woman finger pick a guitar like that since Memphis Minnie.” – Pinetop Perkins

Holly Golightly – As You Go Down

British blues rock, by a former protégé of Billy Childish.

Ironing Board Sam – Baby You Got It

Rhythm & blues. “This is the time when in my life it seems to be that I’m at my best because I know more on how to write music, know more how to play it, know more how to get it to the audience, know more about everything. I’m 70 years old. It took this time, you know.”

JD McPherson – Mother Of Lies

Okie blues. Getting fired from his job as a teacher “had to happen at that exact time or I wouldn’t have done it. Because I had a wife and kids. I’m not gonna tell them, ‘Hey, daddy is gonna quit his steady job just out of grad school, and I’m gonna go get in a band and play.”

The Josh Garrett Band – Goodnight, Goodnight

Southern blues. “I’m drawn to all things Louisiana, it’s my culture and I try to embrace it.”

Left Lane Cruiser – Tres Borrachos

Hard rockin’ blues. “The core group of songs on this record were written at soundchecks during a nine-month period of touring the U.S. and Europe. After a long drive, we would get to the club. Burn one down. Fuckin’ jam at soundcheck. Then we had a new tune. It went on like that for a while. This album was written entirely under the guidance and influence of marijuana. No dirty spliffs were used in the making of this record.”

Lou Shields – Little Town

Chicago blues. “Lou is a solo performing artist; he sings, plays National Guitar, Banjo and harmonica. He sits on top of a stage riser built from reclaimed materials and can reproduce that front porch sound anywhere he goes. Lou uses a bass stomp on his left foot and a broken skateboard with bottle caps nailed to it on his right foot.”

Parvathy Baul – Apon Moner Baghe

Indian blues ? The Bauls are a Bengali sect who pass down teachings, philosophy and folk music from generation to generation. Some like Parvathy choose to commit themselves to a life of asceticism, renouncing family and possessions, becoming travelling minstrels and living off alms.

The Reverend Shawn Amos – Joliet Bound

Harmonica blues. This is a Memphis Minnie song.

Seasick Steve – Barracuda 68′

Beardy blues. Cool video.

Songhoy Blues – Soubour

Malian desert blues. “Though their music bears elements of contemporary rock and hip hop, at its heart is Songhoy Blues‚ deep attachment to the homegrown songs and dances of Mali‚s Songhoy people as well as such iconic West African guitar heroes as Baba Salah and Ali Farka Touré.”

The Vaudevillian – Luke’s Blues

Canadian stringband blues. Purveyors of old-time music.

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF – What Is This False Life You’re Leading

Punk blues. “Billy Childish is an international cult figure, painter, poet and novelist. He has released over 120 independent albums and influenced a vast range of musicians from Kurt Cobain, Beck and Mudhoney, through to Jack White, The Hives, The Strypes and Kylie Minogue. ”

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Cumbia, cumbia, cumbia !

December 6, 2015

Many of the best drop-down-dead dance rhythms this year came from South America. Here’s a sample. Most of it’s cumbia based, but Sonora Carruseles demonstrate that there are still bands around who know their salsa.

ARGENTINA

Lagartijeando – Congo Ya 

Sonido Guay Neñe – Dejala Llorar

CHILE

Chico Trujillo – Malgeniosa 

Señor Chancho – Momposound 

COLOMBIA

Arrabalero – Kumbia Aguacero 

La-33 – Te Lo Voy A Devolver 

Lucho Campillo feat. Daniel Leon – Cafecito Colombiano 

Magin Díaz y el Sexteto Gamerano – Yo me voy con tigo 

Paito – La Cumbia Islena 

Sonora Carruseles – Como Baila Micaela 

Tomborato – Negra Rosa 

Totó La Momposina – La Candela Viva 

MEXICO

because the South American beats are also big in Mexico

Sonido Mamalón – Varúsi Mericaríya (Madre Rayo)

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The art of songwriting

November 29, 2015

I continue my survey of 2015 with selections from some of the best singer songwriter releases of the year.

Krista Detor – Can I Come Over   (Barely)

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Mississippi, It’s Time  (single)

Craig Finn – Newmyer’s Roof   (Faith in the Future)

Gilmore & Roberts – She Doesn’t Like Silence    (Conflict Tourism)

Bella Hardy – Oh! My God! I Miss You    (With the Dawn)

The Honey Dewdrops – Loneliest Songs   (Tangled Country)

Gurf Morlix – 50 Years   (Eatin’ at me)

Old Man Luedecke – Wait a While   (Domestic Eccentric)

Grace Petrie – The Last Love Song   (Whatever’s Left)

Rod Picott – Drunken Barbers Hand   (Fortune)

Dave Rawlings Machine – The Trip   (Nashville Obsolete)

Joe Topping – One Beat Away   (The Vagrant Kings)

Will Varley – Concept of Freedom   (Postcards from Ursa Minor)