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Broken Record #12
Not ones to stand still The Agency are back with a brand new double A-Side single, not six months since their superb debut For the Brave and Troubled was released to glowing reviews. "She" seems like a natural progression from that debut album, with its distinctive lyrics and subtle strumming that evoke a strange Lynchian world, made more so by some nice Julie Cruise style backing vocals. "The Temple" on the other hand is a total departure, harking back to the 80s, it is surprisingly upbeat and more akin to Echo and The Bunnymen than their usual US influenced folly. The band play a launch gig at Newcastle's Heart Attack & Vine venue on 27th April, but in the meantime they got together to discuss some of their record collection with Crackle. She/The Temple comes out on 29th April as a download only release and you can get it from their bandcamp and all the other usual places.
There are so many great albums that mange to keep under the mainstream antennae…it’s hard to pick this one. Andy has gone with ‘One of those days in England’ by Roy Harper. I can’t find a copy anywhere, not even on Roy Harper’s website, so we’re taking Andy’s word on this on this one. Harper does offer a nice mellow brand of folk with the odd sitar thrown in. I am sure that there will be a pretty esoteric message to the song writing – that’s Andy’s bag. Definitely under rated; I’ll find out more.
From Folk to Post-Rock and Steve has gone for ‘Lift your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven’ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Andy and Steve were/are part of My Exit Music a Newcastle based post-rock band and you can really see the influence here. Although their songs weren’t quite as ‘developed’, the shortest here is nineteen minutes long. Gaz and I went through a list of albums including the back catalogues of Sonic Youth, the Screaming Trees and more via a conversation about Townes Van Zandt. Our conclusion: most of what we listen to is under-rated.
Steve and I agree on ‘Pet Sounds’ by the Beach Boys. We know that has the potential upset people. Indeed, who are we to talk as mere mortals? Gaz is keen to point out the recording process of that album and how ground breaking it was at the time of release. On the other hand, Andy went for ‘Smile’ by Brian Wilson anyway. It’s not even that we don’t like ‘Pet Sounds’, I can happily listen to it but when I do I can never quite see how it has become so revered. Between us we listed bands and singer like the Stereophonics and Robbie Williams but as we don’t know their albums by name and probably haven’t listened to any of them, we have to pip for the Beach Boys. It’s the only section we broadly agreed on. Despite the criticism, we were as excited as anyone by their 50th anniversary reunion.
Essentially not our thing. However, Andy has gone for ‘Leftism’ by Leftfield, which he says will perk the listener up no matter how dark the place they find themselves in. Steve tends to find happiness where other people see the dark (actually that’s a rule of thumb for the band). Thus, his choice is perhaps surprisingly ‘The Lyre of Orpheus’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It is an album that is lyrically more uplifting than the music, which is fairly typical of the song-writing approach of Cave et al. I’m going to go for the Felice Brother’s eponymous second album, five years on and it is still wearing well. Usually they’re compared to Dylan and the band but if you keep listening there is definitely something unique in all of that. It may not all be happy but the track ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ has this amazing barroom piano and the vocal delivery is deliciously sleazy.
I was delighted to see that Steve went for ‘Revelation’ by Christopher Lee. It was my gift to him this Christmas. When we’re in the rehearsal room we have these competitions to hit the lowest notes on ‘Wanderin’ Star’, which Lee Marvin sings in the movie ‘Paint your Wagon’. Anyway, Christopher Lee does a version on this 2006 album along with his frightening takes on various Christmas Carols. It is good though. We also like to check out William Shatner’s efforts when we get a chance. There’s some amazing footage on youtube where the South Korean Pop Idol winner starts to belt out ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ pitch and phrase perfect – then Shatner joins in and…just wow! We’ve got an album of the greatest hits of Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. The latter’s rendition of ‘If I had a Hammer’ is a highpoint.
It turns out that we were all youths at different times. Garry and I agreed on a lot of great albums that inspired us as we were growing up but couldn’t settle on one or even two. So, honourable mentions here to ‘Sweet Oblivion’ by the Screaming Trees (Jim’s also a fan), ‘Temple of the Dog’, ‘Dirty’ by Sonic Youth and ‘Where you Been’ by Dinosaur Jnr. Andy has gone for ‘Disraeli Gears’ by the Cream. It features ‘Sunshine of your Love’, a track I used to play when DJing in the back room at a popular local drum and bass night. I’d slide it between a song from a Bollywood soundtrack and DJ Shadow, which worked every time. ‘Revolver’ is Steve’s choice. Enough said.
Steve doesn’t like surprises but Jim does recommend the new Ellie Goulding album Halycon. He wasn’t a fan of her earlier material but apparently the latest record has something a bit different about it. I’m going to give a nod to Alice Cooper here. There’s one album, ‘From the Inside’, which I just find absolutely incredible. It’s written about his time spent in a mental hospital whilst recovering from alcoholism. We’re told that the songs are based on actual inmates. So, we have this wonderful but truly ludicrous rock opera/concept album about perverts and murderers. The lyrics on songs such as ‘Nurse Rosetta’ and ‘Millie and Billie’ are terrifically absurd, I wholeheartedly recommend this strange album as a guilty pleasure.
Because Fred had amazing energy.