Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Gruff Rhys | Knitting Factory | 5.18.2011

Gruff Rhys has a very distinctive “thankyouverymuch” Maybe not as classic as Peter Frampton’s, but it’s got its own charm, slowly slurring out the “thhhhhh” and then speeding through the “ankyouverymuch” like it was one syllable. It makes me smile every time he says it (which is after every song). Charming, self effacing, funny and slightly unintelligible…Gruff Rhys in a nutshell.

This was the first night of Gruff’s North American tour that will find him back in NYC in a month or so at Mercury Lounge on June 15. “This is the first night of our American tour. “It should be interesting to compare and contrast,” he mused. ” No vacant stares last night, though the smell of weed permeated Knitting Factory the second Gruff took the stage.

For previous tours the shaggy Super Furry Animals lead singer has usually truly played solo, with only a tableful of junkshop keyboards, turntables, metronomes as backing. For this tour, in support of his new album Hotel Shampoo, he brought along Gwynedd surf rock combo Y Niwl (“The Fog”) for backing and as openers. (They were great.) Which meant a louder show, though no less meandering or funny. Rhys is a showman at heart.

There were signs explaining the title “Conservation Conversation”; he taught the audience the first line of Hotel Shampoo closer “Rubble Rubble” so we’d recognize it and clap when it started, as “nobody makes it to the end of albums.” (Not true, Gruff!) He also indulged in his love of key changes with “Ni Yw Y Byd” which contains six of them. I dont’ quite love them as much as he does.

The set was a little front-loaded with hits: we got “Shark Ridden Waters,” “Candylion,” and “Sensations in the Dark” right off the bat, leaving the rest of the 90+ minute set with lesser-known, more mellow material. Though, really, there aren’t a lot of casual Gruff Rhys fans and the 100 or so who made it out in the rainy rain stayed the whole set and demanded an encore.

“We only have time for one more,” Gruff informed the disappointed audience (“THREE MORE!”). “It’s a ballad and it’s 15 minutes long.” At that point he donned a airline emergency vest and launched into “Skylon!,” the epic and awesome closing track from Candylion which tells a tale of love and terror at 20,000 feet. It’s not one second too long.

MP3: Gruff Rhys – Skylon! (buy it)

The best song on new album Hotel Shampoo is most certainly “Shark Ridden Waters,” which is based almost entirely around samples from “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” by obscure ’60s pop group The Cyrkle. It’s one of those tracks — like The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” or Jens Lekman’s “Black Cab” — where wholesale appropriation in the hands of someone clever and creative results in something strikingly original.

MP3: Gruff Rhys – Shark Ridden Waters (Buy it)
MP3: The Cyrkle – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (Buy It)

Gruff returns to NYC on June 15 at Mercury Lounge, with Y Niwl, beards and blank stares. Sad to report they did not have the “Honey All Over” mugs at the merch table. (He also didn’t play that song either!) All dates on his North American tour are below.

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What Up with Gruff Rhys? A Lot.

Gruff Rhys stays busy. When he's not recording with Super Furry Animals or writing concept albums about the Delorean or making great solo albums… he still does other stuff! Currently, two more things. Both of which are a) connected, and b) pretty weird.

The first actually sounds amazing. Rhys stars and co-directs (with Dylan Goch) the quasi documentary Separado! which follows Rhys across continents in seach of a lost uncle. The official synopsis:

Star Trek meets Buena Vista Social Club in this psychedelic western musical as Welsh pop legend Gruff Rhys takes us on a pan continental road trip in search of his long lost Patagonian uncle, the poncho wearing guitarist RENE GRIFFITHS. 

In 1880, following a controversial horse race that led to an unresolved death, Gruff Rhys’ family split as Dafydd Jones took his young family to join the burgeoning Welsh community in Patagonia, South America. There was to be no contact between the families for almost a century when in 1974 Rene Griffiths arrived in Wales with his Latin infused Welsh love songs and became an over night sensation.

It played the L.A. Film Festival last week, and Variety said:

"Nominally concerned with tracking down the singer's mysterious uncle in South America, this sui generis film is equally devoted to travelogue, exiperimental music, Welsh history and the properties of a magical Power Rangers helmet…with frequent pit stops of concerts (including one for a crown consisting entirely of wild horses), interviews with local characters and cheeky freak-out interludes. Yet even when the nostop digressions begin to test one's patience, the film is always easy on the eyes and ears, and a dramatization of 19th-century Welsh emigration via Bollywood-style interpretive dance is worth the price of admission."

Here's the trailer:

And the opening titles


I don't think Separado! has a North American distributor at this time, but maybe it'll play at CMJ or the NYC Film fest? It's currently touring the UK, with Gruff performing as well. Some of the dates also feature an odd, cosmic-looking dude in a headband you may have spotted in the trailer. 

That would be Tony da Gatorra, "a Brazilian TV and VCR repairman, musical freedom fighter and the inventor of his own unique ‘Gatorra’ instrument." While in Brazil filming Separado!, Rhys made an album with the guy which is called The Terror of Cosmic Loneliness which is credited to Tony da Gatorra Vs. Gryf Rhys and it's out today. Rhys explains further:

We spent 5 days rehearsing a set of songs to play live at the venue – our only shared language was music itself so there was no small talk, just intense
concentration on the music. On the final day, as the rehearsals had been so productive, we hooked up some recording equipment and took about 5 hours out to make this record.
We recorded several live takes of each song then chose the best versions. I added a harmony vocal overdub on two songs, otherwise it’s pretty much what we recorded at
the time. 

Upon returning to Cardiff I took the songs to producer Kris Jenkins’s studio whose excitement for the album and general encouragement was infectious – then we called in noise legend Sir Doufus Styles to oversee the final mix.
Armed with 5 flasks of strong coffee, 75 sticks of gum and a bank of vintage compressors we mixed The Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness at extremely loud volume in one epic 12 hour session.

The result kind of sounds like a South American version of The Fall. Clanky old-school drum machines, fuzzed-out guitar, repetition, a lot of shout-talking by an old dude, the occasional melody. Gruff exerts his influence on this one:

MP3: Tony da Gatorra Vs Gruff Rhys – In a House with No Mirrors (buy it)

UK Separado! screening dates are after the jump.

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New Super Furry Animals | “Inaugural Trams”


Super Furry Animals' new album Dark Days/Light Years comes out digitally on Monday. To celebrate, the band are playing the album — their ninth — live in its entirety on superfurry.com at 8PM GMT. (That's 4PM EST, U.S.) Immediately after the gigcast, as they're calling it, you can download the album. To whet your whistle, SFA have given the internet a track for free. "Inaugural Trams" is borderline synthpop and pretty darn catchy:

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Inaugural Trams

If you want Dark Days/Light Years in physical form, it's out on Rough Trade in the UK on April 13 and a week later in the U.S.

New Super Furry Animals album: No Ballads, Saxophone or Pedal Steel


The band that never rests, Super Furry Animals, have just announced details of their new album, which may not have a title yet but does have a track list and a release date. Whatever it ends up being called, SFA's ninth studio album will be released digitally on March 13 via the band's website, with physical versions out on Rough Trade on April 13 in the UK and a week later in the US.

With their last album, 2007's Hey Venus!, being SFA's shortest, most focused album in years, what can we expect from the new one? Says the press release: "Musically it's based around riffs and grooves we've been playing around with over the last few years. We have enough now for a whole album so even though it's still very melodic we thought we could leave off the acoustic ballads for the time being."

Not only will their not be any of their signature Bowie-esque ballads (think "Demons" or "Fire in My Heart") but also no "country rock," which has featured prominently on 00's-era SFA platters. "Daf [Leuan, drummer] has developed a pedal steel phobia. Which has confined the great Nashvillian instrument along with the Saxophone to the banned instrument directive of the SFA board. There's only one slow number, which isn't slow at all."

Cover art this time will be by both longtime SFA graphic designer Pete Fowler and Keiichi Tanaami who provided the "interesting" design for Hey Venus!. I don't know whether this is a collaboration between the two or more a "Pete gets the cover, Tanaami gets the inner sleeve" type of thing, we shall see.

Here's the track listing:
1. 'The very best of Neil Diamond'
2. White socks/Flip Flops.
3. Inaugural Trams.
4. Sounds Familiar.
5. Cardiff in the sun.
6. Where do you wanna go?
7. LLiwiau LLachar.
8. Mountain.
9. Moped eyes.
10. Inconvenience.
11. Crazy Naked Girls.
12. Earth.
13. Prick.

Nice to see what appears to be a Welsh track on there. We haven't had one of those on an album since their all-Welsh record Mwng in 1999.

In addition to the new album, the various members of the band stay busy on their own. Gruff has both solo albums and his Mercury Prize nominated Neon Neon collaboration with Boom Bip; keyboardist Cian Ciaran will finally be releasing a Acid Casuals album this year; and Daf and bassist Guto Pryce spend time in The Peth with actor Rhys Ifans, who if you haven't heard are pretty good:

MP3: The Peth – Let's Go Fucking Mental

Super Furry Animals | Bowery Ballroom | 2.25.2008

Sfa_bowery2Great to see Super Furry Animals back at Bowery Ballroom after eight years of playing other NYC venues. A better show all around, and a definite change-up to the setlist. The band opened with "Slow Life," a number that has for the last few tours the first of the encore. We were also treated to "Fire in My Heart" and, most excitingly, "Ice Hockey Hair," though nothing from Radiator or Mngw. (We got both at Music Hall of Williamsburg last month.) Actually there was no encore at all this time, just one awesome 100-minute set. For those keeping track, tonight’s "The Man Don’t Give a F***" clocked in at a relatively brief seven minutes.

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Receptacle for the Respectable

Openers Times New Viking were pretty great too; rowdy indie rock a la Yo La Tengo, Superchunk, or the Fall. And really, really loud.

Super Furry Animals | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 1.25.2008

Sfa_mhow"So our next song is ‘Northern Lights,’ which will be played in the style of Teenage Fanclub." It was that kind of show. After seven years of touring with electric raincoats, 5.1 stereo sound, elaborate visuals and celery-chomping gorillas, Super Furry Animals were back to basics.

Now, "basics" is the ‘Furries world still means having room for a laptop and a Power-Rangers helmet but this was, more or less five guys playing nearly two hours of great songs with the ability to keep things loose and change it up if necessary.

Which brings us to that Teenage Fanclub version of "Northern Lights." The song, from 1999’s Geurrilla, normally has a tropical vibe with steel drum and mariachi horns. I’m going to guess that there were laptop problems with this one so they just decided to play it straight. I still prefer the original — maybe one of my favorite SFA singles — but it was cool to see them just sort of winging it.

The band played for nearly two hours, with a mid-show break to "grab a drink." We got most of their new, return-to-form Hey Venus! and probably three songs off all the other albums, except Mwng and Love Kraft which only got maybe one each. But I can’t say for sure. Highlights for me were "If You Don’t Want Me to Destroy You," "Zoom!," "Receptacle for the Respectable," "She’s Got Spies," "Slow Life," and "Into the Night."

There were a couple firsts at Music Hall of Williamsburg, one being this marked their Brooklyn debut. Second, traditional epic show-closer "The Man Don’t Give a Fuck" clocked in at around five minutes, and was followed by Guerilla’s "Keep the Cosmic Trigger Happy," ending the night. I’m certain this was the only time I’ve seen them since the f-bomb laden, Steely Dan-sampling single was released that it didn’t close the show. There were some shenanigans too. Gruff Rhys engaged the crowd in a
little audience participation, getting everyone to wiggle their fingers
on top of our head like "jazz antlers" or something. And, of course, the robot head.


Sound was good, though it seemed a little quiet till they got to "Zoom!" and the sold-out audience didn’t really get into it till then either. Well, except for this dude who was totally into it, much to the occasional mortification of his tolerant girlfriend. (I’ve been that guy before.) Then there was the dude next to me who played Othello on his cellphone during the entire show. To each his own.

MP3: Steely Dan – Showbiz Kids

I only caught the last four songs of openers Holy Fuck but they were good as usual. Expanding beyond the live dance music vibe they had in effect when they opened for Forward Russia, there was a definite Who vibe going on this time. Hope they come back soon.

Also in attendance: Punk Photo; SPIN, Vulture, and the Voice; Photo swiped from ryandombal’s Flickr photostream.

Super Furry Animals’ tour is only just beginning. See all shows and request a song, though apparently the widget wasn’t exactly working correctly as of Friday.

Really? Is That What it’s Like?

This item was in Pitchfork’s News section today:

Does this seem a little weird to anyone else? Times New Viking— among the grittiest-sounding groups that fall under the "pop" descriptor– plan to spend the second half of
February tooling around North America with none other than that
highest-of-the-hi-fi acts, Super Furry Animals. I mean, I’m all for
it– great bands, both– but this is a bit like having Tom Waits open
for David Bowie, or the Wu for Kanye.

First of all, I know they’ve relaxed what is called "news" at Pitchfork, but this seems especially bloggy. Secondly, and more importantly… what? How is a band that is barely three years old opening for one of the best bands of the last 15 years anything like Tom Waits opening for David Bowie. If anything it’s like Kanye opening for the Wu, not the other way around.

I realize writer Paul Thompson was talking more about slick-versus-grit and I sort of get what he’s saying, but he could’ve chosen a lot better examples for his analogies. And it just comes off as kind of ill-informed. While a lot of their ’00s albums have been technologically advanced, the new Super Furry Animals album, Hey Venus!, is pretty stripped down, five-guys-in-a-room sort of affair. And I’m hoping this tour will follow suit. And they can be plenty noisy. Still I was trying to come up with a better analogy for Bowie, but the TWD is the kind of guy who probably would’ve had Pere Ubu open for him. Maybe he did.

It doesn’t seem that weird a match-up to me. Is it any weirder than Holy Fuck opening for them this Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg? As I’m going to it and the SFA/TNV show at Bowery Ballroom on February 24. I’ll be the judge.

Meanwhile, Hey Venus!, which made my Best of 2007 list, is finally out in the US this week and the CD comes with a bonus disc of four additional songs from the recording sessions, plus the "Run Away" video and footage of the band in the studio. The four new tracks aren’t throwaways, either. They’re all really good, which should be no surprise to anyone who picked up their B-sides comp or listened the excellent Rings Around the World bonus disc. A taster:

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Never More

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Aluminum Illuminati

Buy it, won’t you?

Here are all the tour dates for the ‘Furries upcoming tour. Beggars Banquet has created a widget that allows you to select a date and make requests for what songs you want to hear from a list of about 40 songs or so. (It did not include the one I wanted to request, "Ysbeidiau Heulog" from the all-Welsh Mwng.) It also automatically plays music, so I’ve included it after the jump.

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Super Furry Animals Announce 2008 U.S. Tour

Oh happy day. Ever since Rings Around the World, Super Furry Animals have opted for bigger venues like Irving Plaza, Hammerstein Ballroom and Webster Hall. But for their forthcoming Hey Venus tour, the NYC area is getting Maxwells, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bowery Ballroom! I still remember the Guerrilla tour at BB when they brought out a horn section for "Northern Lights" and they were dressed as nuns.

After three albums that found the band getting progressively bigger, more complex and with a greater reliance on technology, Hey Venus is a stripped-down affair and I’m hoping that the tour, which begins January 23 at Maxwells and finishes a month later at Bowery, will be free of laptop backing tracks, illuminated costumes, synched projections, 5.1 surround sound, and other such lily guilding. As much fun as that stuff was, Super Furry Animals don’t need it. They’re good enough on their own.

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Into the Night
(buy it on digital or vinyl)

01/23/07  Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s*
01/25/07  Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*
01/26/07  Philadelphia, PA @ Starlight Ballroom*
01/27/07  Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club*%
01/29/07  Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle*%
01/30/07  Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse*%
01/31/07  New Orleans, LA @ The Republic*%
02/01/07  Dallas, TX @ Granada Theatre*%
02/02/07  Austin, TX @ Emo’s*
02/05/07  Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress*
02/06/07  Solona Beach, CA @ Belly Up*
02/08/07  Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex*
02/09/07  San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall*
02/11/07  Portland, OR @ Doug Fir*
02/12/07  Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s*
02/15/07  Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre
02/16/07  Chicago, IL @ Metro
02/17/07  Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
02/18/07  Buffalo, NY @ Tralf Music Hall
02/20/07  Toronto, ONT @ Mod Club
02/21/07  Montreal, QUE @ Cabaret Music Hall
02/22/07  Ithaca, NY @ Cornell University
02/23/07  Boston, NY @ The Paradise
02/25/07  New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom

The day before the tour starts will see CD release of Hey Venus. So far it’s been digital or vinyl for America. The CD will have previously unreleased bonus stuff. Also, the ‘Furries are getting into the holiday spirit and will be giving away a download of their new single, "The Gift that Keeps Giving," on Christmas Day from their website.

2008 will also see the release of the debut from Neon Neon, a collaboration between SFA frontman Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip, that features guest appearances from Spankrock, Yo Magesty, Har Mar Superstar and more. New single "Raquel" can be heard right here:

MP3: Neon Neon – Raquel

Photo of SFA in Barcelona swiped from Alterna2’s Flickr photostream.

Venus Landing

Sfa_heyvenusYes, this really is the art for the new Super Furry Animals album, Hey Venus!, due out August 27 on Rough Trade. For those used to the awesome Pete Fowler artwork that has graced every SFA (and Gruff Rhys) release till now, the initial reaction is probably "this is kind of horrible."

But the man behind Hey Venus' in-your-face look is graphic designer Keiichi Tanaami distinctive imagery helped shaped the look of the psychedelic '60s. (Jonathan Woss did a weverent piece on him that you can watch on YouTube wight now.) I must admit I prefer Fowler, but it's obvious Tanaami was an influence on him.

Though you might think with sleeve like this it might be a return to the wild freakouts of SFA's past but Hey Venus! is fairly mellow, though much more focused than Love Kraft. And at 36 minutes, it's the shortest SFA album ever. Gruff seems to have grabbed back the majority of the songwriting reins this time, singing lead on every songs except the Bunf-led "Battersea Odyssey."

This is a good thing, I think. For the first time since Mwng, it sounds like an album made by a band in the studio. Gruff is saying that it's a loose concept album, centered around a girl named Venus, "moving from a small town to a big metropolis and following her adventures. Some songs link up to that story more than others, but some were left off the record, they'll be on the next one, which we're working on already. It started off as a concept, but then we chose songs for their merit rather than their themes."

The gentle "Show Your Hand" will be the first single, out August 13 in the UK. But I prefer "Neo Consumer" which almost sounds like it could have been on Fuzzy Logic:

MP3: Super Furry Animals – Neo Consumer

Neonneon So with many songs for the next record already done, Rhys still has other irons in the fire. There's Neon Neon, his colaboration with DJ/producer Boom Bip, as well as his great solo album, Candylion, that was released earlier this year which he'll be playing some U.S. dates in support of in September, which are as follows:

9.19    Philadelphia, Johnny Brendas
9.20    Washington, DC,  Rock N Roll Hotel
9.21    New York City, Hiro Ballroom
9,22    Brooklyn, Union Hall
9.23    Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
9.25    Toronto,ONT,  Rivoli
9.27    Chicago, Schuba's
9.29    Seattle, Crocodile Café
9.30    Portland, Doug Fir Lounge
10.02   San Francisco, Swedish American Hall
10.03   LA, Rec Center Studios

And if that's not enough, bassist Guto Pryce has cherry-picked his favorite reggae cuts from the Trojan archives for Furry Selection, a compilation well worth picking up.

SoundBites Best of 2005 | Albums

Don’t let anyone say 2005 was a crummy year for music. I coulda done a Top 50. But that takes too much time. Here’s my Top 20 Albums of 2005, which probably changed more than NME‘s lineup right down to posting.

ElbowLeaders of the Free World (V2) | Elbow‘s third album is not only the best thing they’ve ever done, it was the best thing I heard anyone do in 2005. Gorgeous melodies, inventive arrangements and musicianship, and some of the most heartfelt (without treacle) lyrics around. And Guy Garvey‘s amazing voice on top of it all. Album of the Year by a mile. Best songs: "Station Approach," "The Stops," "Mexican Standoff," "The Everthere."

Art BrutBang Bang Rock and Roll
(Fierce Panda) | The year’s most flat-out enjoyable record. The humor
in singer Eddie Argos‘ lyrics hits you first ("I’ve seen her
naked…TWICE!") but these are songs that are funny, not novelty rock.
(Some may disagree.) And, as Argos sings on their manifesto "Formed a
Band," this is not irony. "We’re just talking to the kids!" The hits
keep coming through all 12 tracks, from "My Little Brother" through
"18,000 Lira."


New PornographersTwin Cinema (Matador) | Not as immediate and crammed with hooks as either The Electric Version or Mass Romantic, album number three for this mostly-Canadian supergroup seemed like a bit of a dud on arrival. Weeks of play, however, and songs constantly coming up on shuffle on the iPod, have proven Twin Cinema to be another batch of winning songs with perhaps the most staying power of them all. Dig new New breed: "Sing Me Spanish Techno," "These Are the Fables," "The Jessica Numbers."

Of MontrealThe Sunlandic Twins
(Polyvinyl) I remember seeing Of Montreal back in 1999, playing with
Ladybug Transistor. There were props and slide-flutes and other twee
type things. I didn’t like them. But somewhere down the line they
transformed from utter whimsy into a band capable of filtering poppy,
’60s-inspired melodies through Eno-esque new wave. I was hooked. One of
2005’s earlier releases (well, April), The Sunlandic Twins has
stayed with me for most of the year. Get some Sun:"Requiem for
O.M.M.2," "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)," "Forecast
Fascist Future."

The RakesCapture/Release
(V2) | These guys have, so
far, been met mostly with shrugs in America (the record’s not out yet here), dismissed as the latest
post-punk whatever. There may be a little disco hi-hat in the drumming,
but The Rakes are miles better than any of the others and actually
remind me of Pink Flag-era Wire with a working-class attitude
and an articulate grasp of late-20s ennui. "Might as well go out for a
fifth night in a row" indeed. Capture/Release is genius from start-to-finish and has some of the year’s
best singles, too, including "Work Work Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)," "22
Grand Job," and "Strasbourg."

Field MusicField Music (Memphis Industries) | Despite having ties to both the Futureheads (singer Andrew Moore used to be in them) and Maximo Park (they share a drummer), Sunderland, England’s Field Music sound nothing like them. It’s all delicate, sparse arrangements (not unlike Spoon), nods to ’60s baroque pop, and a cut-the-fat approach to album making. Debut album of the year, rock division. Choice cuts: "If Only the Moon Were Up," "Shorter Shorter," "Got to Write a Letter"

LCD SoundsystemLCD Soundsystem (DFA/Capitol) | When LCD Soundsystem‘s debut got two Grammy noms, I began to question my own taste for including this on my best-of list but no, dammit, this is a great album. It still sounds great after having it for nearly a year, and being played at every party, before every show, and on The O.C. It will be interesting to see what James Murphy does next. Killer jams: "Daft Punk is Playing in My House," "Tribulations," "Beat Connection"

My Morning JacketZ (ATO) | Like The Clientele, My Morning Jacket dare to drop one of their calling cards (the gallons of reverb), then drop a key band member and pull a 180 musically. The result being the best album they’ve ever done and the first one I’ve truly liked start-to-finish. And yet they still sound like My Morning Jacket, thanks in no small part to Jim James voice-of-heaven vocals. Prime cuts: "Wordless Chorus," "Into the Woods," "Anytime"

Richard HawleyColes Corner (Mute) |
Third album’s the charm for this former axeman for Longpigs and Pulp,
who once again leaves indie stylings behind in favor of full-on crooner
mode, a la Roy Orbison, Burt Bacharach, Marty Robbins, or even
Morrissey. Even though it was written about Sheffield, England, Coles Corner
makes a gorgeous soundtrack for NYC too, and sounds even better after
midnight. Swoon: "The Ocean," "Hotel Room," "Born Under a Bad Sign,"
"Coles Corner"

Malcolm MiddletonInto the Woods (Chemikal Underground) | If you read the lyrics sheet, you may wonder about the state of mind of Arab Strap‘s Malcolm Middleton
on his second solo album. For example, on "A Happy Medium" he sings,
"Woke up again today/Realized I hate myself/My Brain is a disease." But
Into the Woods is not a dreary exercise in woe-is-me-isms. Like so many
before him, Middleton turns his pain, fear and doubts into something
beautiful. Even those who have never had any time for Arab Strap should
give this one a chance. Get into: "My Loneliness Shines," "You’re Gonna
Break My Heart," "A Happy Medium"

The other 10 after the jump…

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