Tag Archives: ezra furman

50 years of tunes…2010-14…

2010

I was alerted to the work of John Grant by way of BBC6music playlisting the title track from his ‘Queen of Denmark’ record, and was further drawn in through learning of the support of members of Midlake as his backing band.

I’ve written previously on this and other blogs of the regard in which I hold John Grant, especially live, so will try and keep it brief here.  He is though, an extraordinary artist and performer – a tall, broad and striking creature, with even greater voice, all of which belies a being that is seemingly at all times shy and even insecure – which for the listener adds up to a peculiar mixture of charming, sad and awe-inspiring.

Enough of the superlatives (well, nearly)…QoD is a brilliant, heartbreaking, record – musically and lyrically.  Any of the tracks could get a special mention, my favourite however is ‘Sigourney Weaver’…and this version is pretty special…

Also from 2010: The National’s ‘High Violet’ (replete with ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ – another contender for best song this century) and the self-titled debut from androgynous psych Japanese krautrockers Bo Ningen.

A very honourable mention too for The Megaphonic Thrift’s ‘1000 years of deconstruction’ ep and ‘Decay Decoy’ lp…which I discovered a little bizarrely after witnessing the Norwegian psychey noise pop group as support for a country gig at the Borderline.  I fell in love with them there and then.

2011

Fucked Up’s ‘David Comes To Life’ is an incredible piece of work.

I first became aware of the Canadian (post-?) hardcore outfit during a chance encounter at Reading Festival and picked up the album soon after.  It really is like nothing else I’ve experienced…a concept album-cum-rock opera focusing upon a love story amidst the society of Thatcherite 70s and 80s Britain.  Make of that what you will.

The record is inherently hardcore punk but as with much of the band’s work, woven throughout are wonderful melodies and musicality, with supporting vocals from Kurt Vile, Jennifer Castle and Cults’ Madeline Follin – all of which juxtapose brilliantly against Damien Abraham’s unstoppable roar.

‘Queen of Hearts’ is just immense, and this video is equally brilliant…

A very good year otherwise as well, with other magnificent releases including Cliff Martinez’ outstanding soundtrack to Nicolas Winding-Refn’s ‘Drive’, Joy Formidable’s ‘The Big Roar’, Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Gentle Spirit’ and Mogwai’s ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’.

2012

Another Reading Festival discovery, followed a week later by an even better performance at End of the Road.

Toy’s self-titled debut is a brilliantly assured piece of psychey shoegaze from an unnervingly young and talented band – elevated above the recent spate of (still mostly great) ‘nu-gaze’ guitar-driven bands with the addition of a swirling wash of keys and synths from Alejandra Diaz.  It is, to coin an oft over-used phrase of mine, a fucking lovely noise – evidenced by the magnificent ‘Kopter’…

A diverse and brilliant mixture for 2012’s other notable releases: more 70s desert prog with Howlin Rain’s ‘The Russian Wilds’,  a full album of wonderful noise with The Megaphonic Thrift’s ‘The Megaphonic Thrift’, Paisley Underground via Mexican desert storytelling from Dan Stuart’s ‘The Deliverance of Marlowe Billings’ and Eat Lights, Become Lights’ ‘Heavy Electrics’ – which very much does what it says on the tin.  Relentlessly.

2013

2013’s best album, discovered by me on the Thursday night of EOTR 2014…Ezra Furman’s ‘Day of the Dog’…

We walked out of the Tipi tent following Ezra’s ‘secret set’ with broad smiles…my immediate (100% positive) assessment of what I had seen “a young man imbued with the soul of a 50yo Lisa Simpson, backed by the E-Street Band, singing Velvet Underground songs”.  And I stand by that.

The album is full of stories and sadness and tenderness and humour and charm and love.  Furman is a great talent, deserving of what I am convinced will be a great career.

Herewith my favourite song of 2015: ‘And maybe God is a train’…

More from 2013: Fidlar’s self-titled debut, Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Fanfare’ and Kiran Leonard’s extraordinary ‘Bowler Hat Soup’ (keep an eye on this one…alongside Ezra…so talented it is not funny).

2014

Gruff Rhys’ ‘American Interior’ is one of the greatest pieces of art this century…which ever medium you choose…book, film, album or live telling.  It confirms as well Rhys’ position as an absolute genius of this music generation, if further proof were indeed needed.

The work follows Gruff’s retracing of farm boy John Evans’ American adventures in the 1700s…who sought to prove the hypothesis that North America had been discovered by a Welsh tribe hundreds of years before Columbus.  Such is the scale of the work, to say much more would constitute spoilers to what I recommend is an experience everyone reading this should seek out…especially if you get the opportunity live…although ‘100 unread messages’ does précis the whole thing quite well, and I defy you not to dance to it…

Some other very definite favourites from 2014: Mogwai’s ‘Rave Tapes’, Teleman’s ‘Breakfast’ and Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s ‘Days of Abandon’.

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So there we go.  The end.  For anyone who has made it this far thank you for  indulging me – I hope at least some of it has been of interest and that you may have discovered something new that you love too.

It has been a challenging and thoroughly interesting exercise and I think after a number of reviews I pretty much stand by the choices.  By its nature, the least objective piece of music writing I’ll probably ever manage (at least for another ten years or so when maybe I’ll make it up to sixty) which I hope along with the excessive hyperbole can be tolerated if not excused.  It is affirmation all the same though of so much that I love about music.

I am also well aware the whole fifty years’ worth needs a bloody good edit.

To sign off…a very appropriate line I read from Lauren Laverne just this evening…

“Music is a banquet…THE WHOLE THING IS A GLORIOUS FANTASY”

…and long may that continue.


discovered in 2014…

A mildly damning indictment upon my creative written output that only one (somewhat maudlin) post separates this from ‘discovered in 2013’, but anyway, here we go…

Again, the prompt for this list stems from the @LPGrp ‘secret santa’ exercise and doubles as the enclosure for a number of friends’ Christmas cards.  The following is a collection of new (and on occasion old) music that I have discovered this year.  Some artists; notably Teleman, Mogwai and Ezra Furman, stand out particularly as favourites but I have limited matters to one song per artist for reasons of breadth.  Listening notes are as scribbled upon compiling, without editing.

1.  ‘Bloomdido’ – John Sinclair…

…managed the MC5, mates with Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk and maybe the coolest speaking voice ever.  Seek out the 6music interview w/ Gid Coe.

2.  ‘Almost like the blues’ – Leonard Cohen…

…effortlessly cool, could be from any other period in his career (apart from the coked-up Spector shenanigans of ‘…Ladies Man’ : – )

3.  ‘Are you with me now?’ – Cate Le Bon…

…the first of a few EOTR (and Marc Riley) discoveries.  Evokes the Velvet Underground and is wonderful for it.

4.  ‘White rabbit’ – Mayssa Karaa…

…a wonderful cover of a favourite song, from one of my films of the year (American Hustle).

5.  ‘Another love song’ – September Girls…

…fuzzy, gazey, charming, dreamy pop reminiscent of Paisley Underground-era Bangles…

6.  ‘Madison’ – Joanna Gruesome…

…and continuing in the same vein.  Guitar pop roolz forever.

7.  ‘Until the sun explodes’ – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart…

…from one of my albums of the summer.  Pure sunshine in a song.  Very Aztec/Prefab.

8.  ‘For one night only’ – King Creosote…

…another courtesy of Marc Riley. and more pop loveliness. builds to soaring keys, and hooray for unashamed accents.

9.  ‘Skeleton dance’ – Teleman…

…my other album of the summer.  Against type to a degree, but I LOVE this band.

10.  ‘Breathing’ – Juan Wauters (feat. Carmelle)…

…can’t honestly say why I like this so much.  But I do.

11.  ‘100 unread messages’ – Gruff Rhys…

…one of pop’s true geniuses – American Interior is easily the most brilliant and complete work of art from 2014.  ppt presentation at EOTR was magnificent.

12.  ‘Nobody loves the Hulk’ – Traits…

…this year’s top ‘oldie’ discovery – covered by Sterling Roswell supporting The Chills in Tufnell Park.  Wonderful 60s garage pop and top geek content.

13.  ‘The weather song’ – Ought…

…a very recent discovery and last minute addition to this tape.  Bright, jagged pop.  Thanks to Gid Coe (and The Kinks, I reckon : – ) for the discovery…

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/91444736″>Ought “The Weather Song”</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/cstrecords”>Constellation Records</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

14.  ‘Slacker Adria’ – Ezra Furman…

…a very definite highlight from EOTR – from secret Tipi set on Thursday to fresco-bothering Garden Stage appearance – my first impression was “a young man possessed by a 50yo Maggie Simpson, singing Velvet Underground songs with the E-Street Band”.  and I stand by it.  a quite glorious talent.

(I have since decided that Ezra can have two in my best of the year…because this next one somehow did not make the CD but is definitely my song of the year…)

15.  ‘The return of evil Bill – Clinic…

…a slight cheat, as I was given this on a friend’s best of 2013 compilation, but fully confirmed in January 2014 with Clinic supporting Mogwai at RFH.

16.  ‘Houdini’ – Cuz…

…relentlessly groovy bassline and hooks underneath (I think) vibraphone and synths with strangely dark stream of consciousness over the top.  I also like to think it references Prometheus.  but it probably doesn’t.

17.  ‘Geraldo’s farm’ – Kiran Leonard…

…I was aware of KL prior to EOTR, thanks to Marc Riley’s entirely justified promotion.  I was unaware of the astonishing talent I would witness in a Big Top lunchtime set.  Frighteningly good with echoes of Yorke and Buckley.

18.  ‘The people’s microphone’ – Shellac…

…another recent addition – not much to add really – just…Shellac.

19.  ‘Remurdered’ – Mogwai…

…retains its place as 2014 Mogwai-pick (only just ahead of recently released ‘Teenage Exorcists’) through the awesome noise that was the RFH gig.  Thundering and relentless.

20.  ‘Couvre-moi’ – petit fantôme…

…gorgeous, big, Stereolabby French noise. x x x

21.  ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’  – Flaming Lips (feat. Miley Cyrus & Moby)…

…it could have been awful (indeed some think it is) but I love this…the encore to my two favourite shows of the year.  Truly epic and I think back to my favourite band.

Lastly, below is a small selection of some of the CD covers I’ve designed for folks this year, having rediscovered drawing/doodling in the last year (part of the reason I have written very little)…

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