Sunday, April 29, 2012

1992: Top 50 Singles

It's the end of the month, which means it's time for another trip down the '90s memory lane for the unveiling of our latest Top 50 Singles list from the last decade of the 20th century.

This time we're going exactly 20 years back to 1992, the year PJ Harvey released her stunning debut album "Dry". A few months earlier, in February, the instant classic "Sheela-Na-Gig" was released as her second single on Too Pure backed by two more songs that would also become part of "Dry", "Joe" and "Hair" (on the 12 inch only). The song was originally written in 1986 when Harvey was just seventeen years old and took its title from the Sheela-na-gig statues - carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva found in old buildings throughout Britain and Ireland for keeping evil spirits away.

Other highlights from 1992 include The Fall's apocalyptic electro of "Free Range" (with the lyric "Europa, every second Third World" sounding very real in the current economic climate), Belly's debut EP "Slow Dust" featuring the amazing "Dusted", Screaming Trees' grunge anthem "Nearly Lost You" and the three further hit singles that were taken from Nirvana's "Nevermind", which, by January 1992, it had replaced Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" at the top of the Billboard charts.

Check out below our Top 10 Singles of 1992 and click here for the complete Top 50 list published in Cool Music Database, the central hub of all our year-end lists from 1980 and onwards:
1.   Sheela-Na-Gig - P.J. HARVEY
2.   Free Range - THE FALL
3.   Slow Dust EP - BELLY
4.   Lithium - NIRVANA
5.   Nearly Lost You - SCREAMING TREES
6.   100% - SONIC YOUTH
8.   Bruise Violet - BABES IN TOYLAND
9.   Trigger Cut - PAVEMENT
10. Drive - R.E.M.

P.J. Harvey - Sheela-Na-Gig

You can listen to most of our selections by pressing play below:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Shearwater, live @ An Club (Athens, April 21, 2012)

"Animal Joy", Shearwater’s seventh album, is one of their best efforts yet and one of the finest releases of the year so far. In that respect, we should consider ourselves lucky for the timing of Jonathan Meiburg’s band first ever visit to Athens, a decade into their recording career.

The Austin, Texas band, which for this tour also includes Mitch Billeaud on guitar and keys, Lucas Oswald on guitar, keys, percussion and backing vocals, Danny Reisch on drums, and Christiaan Mader on bass and backing vocals, was in excellent spirits for this last gig of their current European trek. Cheered on by the small but very enthusiastic audience, they delivered powerful renditions of almost all of the tracks on their latest LP along with a handful of old ones and a passionate cover of R.E.M.’s "These Days" which closed the hour and a half performance on a high note.

Among the evening’s best moments were the spirited renditions of "Animal Life", "You As You Were", "Open Your Houses (Basilisk)", "Immaculate" and especially "Breaking The Yearlings" and "Pushing The River" (a track which rides on the drumbeat of Joy Division’s "Heart And Soul"). Both of these songs were boosted by extra percussion, adding weight to my belief that all rock bands would sound better with two drummers! Meiburg was in fine voice throughout the set, with his soaring vocals adding extra power to his compositions.

Check out below our footage of "Breaking The Yearlings" and "These Days", two of the highlights of Shearwater’s gig at An Club:

Shearwater - Breaking The Yearlings, live @ An Club (April 21, 2012)

Shearwater - These Days, live @ An Club (April 21, 2012)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Giant Giant Sand

It's not a typo. Howe Gelb has expanded the line-up of his Giant Sand to twelve members and fittingly renamed the group to Giant Giant Sand. Their new album "Tuscon" (self-described as a country rock opera, no less) is coming on June 11th, 2012 on Fire Records and the excellent "Forever And A Day" is the first taste from it. It sounds wonderfully dusty!

And here's an older favorite from Gelb's and Giant Sand's rich history - "Shiver" from the 2001 album "Chore of Enchantment":

Giant Sand - Shiver

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Mark Lanegan Band, live @ Fuzz Club (Athens, April 5, 2012)

After several visits in the last few years along with his many notable collaborators (Greg Dulli, Isobel Campbell, Soulsavers), Mark Lanegan returned to Athens once more, this time for a solo gig with his own band. Thursday night at Fuzz Club it was time for a Blues Funeral.

Little before half past ten, after local act Illegal Operation presented us with their own version of the blues, Lanegan and his band came onstage without much fanfare and went straight to business, kicking things off with the excellent "The Gravedigger's Song", one of "Blues Funeral"'s greatest tracks.

Lanegan’s latest opus, as expected, was the backbone of the 75-minute set, with older material coming mainly from previous album "Bubblegum" and its accompanying EP "Here Comes That Weird Chill". "Hit the City" and the explosive "Methamphetamine Blues", the encore’s only song, were the tracks that stood out from this period, while "Gray Goes Black", "Quiver Syndrome", "Riot in My House", "Ode to Sad Disco" and "Tiny Grain of Truth" were among the most enjoyable moments from the new record. "Harborview Hospital", unfortunately, went missing in action (it was penciled in for the encore along with old favorite "Pendolum", but both never came to be).

One of the surprises of the evening came with the inclusion of Screaming Trees' "Crawlspace", one of their lesser known tracks as it was officially released only last year on "Last Words: The Final Recordings", the band’s “lost” album (isn’t it time for a Screaming Trees reunion? I for one would pay good money for that). From Lanegan’s '90s solo material, we only got his version of The Leaving Trains' "Creeping Coastline of Lights" (off 1999’s covers album "I'll Take Care of You"), while "One Way Street" and "Resurrection Song" represented 2001’s "Field Songs" (alas no "Don't Forget Me").

It's true that with such an impressive body of work, there are many more songs that we would love to have heard from Lanegan and his band on Thursday, but without a doubt this was another highly enjoyable evening in the company of our highly esteemed old pal. Let's do it again soon to make up for that missing "Harborview Hospital", ok?

Here's the awesome "Quiver Syndrome" from Mark Lanegan Band's Athens gig, one of my personal highlights of the evening:

Mark Lanegan Band - Quiver Syndrome, live @ Fuzz Club (April 5, 2012)

More live reviews from Lanegan's previous visits: with the Gutter Twins in 2008, with Greg Dulli in 2009, with Isobel Campbell in 2010.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

New Releases: March 2012

Round up of the most interesting albums and singles released in March 2012:


THE MEN - Open your Heart
LEE RANALDO - Between The Times And The Tides
LA SERA - Sees the Light
BLOOD RED SHOES - In Time To Voices
THE SHINS - Port Of Morrow
NITE JEWEL - One Second Of Love
ELEPHANT & CASTLE - Transitions
ODD FUTURE - The OF Tape Vol.2
ROCKET JUICE & THE MOON - Rocket Juice & The Moon
LAKE R▲DIO - Dream House
UNSANE - Wreck
WHITE HILLS - Frying On This Rock
120 DAYS - 120 Days II
THE MARS VOLTA - Noctourniquet
PAUL WELLER - Sonik Kicks
MARK STEWART - The Politics of Envy
ROBERT POLLARD - Mouseman Cloud
THE MAGNETIC FIELDS - Love At The Bottom Of The Sea
ANDREW BIRD - Break It Yourself
SOAP & SKIN - Narrow
POND - Beard, Wives, Denim
MINISTRY - Relapse
HOODED FANG - Tosta Mista
QUAKERS - Quakers
TANLINES - Mixed Emotions
KINDNESS - World You Need A Change Of Mind
THE CHAP - We Are Nobody
BOWERBIRDS - The Clearing
TERRY MALTS - Killing Time
DIE JUNGEN - At Breath's End
DAVID MYHR - Soundshine

Singles & EPs

GUIDED BY VOICES - Keep It In Motion 
FUTURE OF THE LEFT - Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman 
SILVERSUN PICKUPS - Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)
REGINA SPEKTOR - All The Rowboats
FEIST - The Bad In Each Other
POLICA - Lay Your Cards Out
SUMMER CAMP - Losing My Mind
LOS CAMPESINOS! - Songs About Your Girlfriend
THE SCHOOL - Never Thought I'd See The Day
POLLYN / MOODYMANN - Pieces In Patterns
EMERALDS - Does It Look Like I'm Here (Daphni Mixes)
GOSSIP - Perfect World
PLAN B - Ill Manors
WISE LINES - Callin’ Out EP
THE YOUNG - Don't Hustle For Love
YOUNG MEN DEAD - Young Men Dead EP
   Young Men Dead - Young Men Dead by youngmendead

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Keep Shelly In Athens & Baby Guru, live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, March 29, 2012)

Keep Shelly In Athens and Baby Guru, two of the best new bands of the Greek scene right now, shared the stage of Gagarin 205 last Thursday. Here's a glimpse into the happenings of this enjoyable double-bill:

Keep Shelly In Athens was the first band to take the stage, playing just for the second time in their hometown. Thanks to the power of the internet, the band's chilled, electropop sound immediately generated international attention, making them one of the most blogged about bands of 2011 and landing them a place in this year's Coachella festival line up. This gig in Athens was the first step on the journey that will take them all the way to California this April.

The band's core duo of RΠЯ and Sarah had the help of three more musicians on stage, augmenting their sound with guitar, drums and contrabass. In this live incarnation their ethereal songs became rougher, more rock oriented, making it sometimes difficult for Sarah's voice to become the center of attention. As a result some of their more delicate songs had less of an impact live, while others, like set highlight "DIY", revealed an interesting alternative side to their recorded version. And despite her vocals getting lost in the mix here and there, Sarah was easily the star of the evening with her theatrical performance and dancing, gaining confidence as the evening progressed.

Keep Shelly In Athens, live @ Gagarin205

Baby Guru was up next with an impressive, highly energetic set with plenty of improvisation. The trio which draws inspiration from '60s psychedelic rock and '70s krautrock, has the ability to effortlessly expand its songs from the three to four minute mark which is their usual duration on record to more than ten-minute jams that leave you wanting more.

This tricky achievement is accomplished thanks to the ultra-tight rhythm section of King Elephant and Sir Kosmiche, who provide the steady backbone for singer Obi Serotone's improvisations on keyboards and percussion. Tracks like "Navigation" or "Kicks With Mary" become even more explosive on stage, taking the listener on a trip beyond the boundaries of the map. If they ever manage to capture all this wild live energy on an album, then Baby Guru can grow up to truly become the Guru of the Greek rock scene!

Baby Guru, live @ Gagarin205

Check out below two of the night's highlights: "DIY" by Keep Shelly In Athens and an edit of "Kicks With Mary" by Baby Guru.

Keep Shelly in Athens - DIY, live @ Gagarin 205

Baby Guru - Kicks With Mary, live @ Gagarin 205