Saturday, 30 October 2010


An Introduction To…Elliott Smith

When Elliott Smith died in October 2003 the world lost one of the most powerful and greatest songwriters of our era. ‘An Introduction to…Elliott Smith’ provides the listener with a well-balanced and insightful collection to some of Elliott’s strongest and most loved songs.

From the Academy Award nominated ‘Miss Misery’ (New Moon) and ‘Last Call’ (Roman Candle), this album brings you right up to date with tracks from ‘From A Basement On The Hill’ (the posthumously released record in 2004).  Each of Elliott’s seven albums are represented on the collection with ‘Either/Or’ (perhaps deservedly so) offering no less than 5 tracks.

Elliott was born in Nebraska in 1969 before moving to Dallas as a one year old to live with his mother. By fourteen he moved to Portland to live with his father, stepmother and two half-sisters. It was in Portland that Elliott started writing and recording songs on a four-track recorder. Whilst studying at Hampshire College, Elliott befriended Neil Gust, who he later went on to form the band Heatmiser with. From this point onwards Elliott demonstrated his song writing abilities, gaining significant critical acclaim along the way.

Although some personal favourites may be left off (‘I Didn’t Understand, ‘Son Of Sam and ‘A Fond Farewell’), this will always happen when these collections are put together. Having said this, there is not a bad track on the record (it would be hard to find a bad Elliott track). “Needle In The Hay’, ‘Pretty (Ugly Before) and ‘Between The Bars’ all earn their place, much to the delight of this reviewer.

The collection works predominantly for the listener who has yet to hear a single song of Elliott Smith (wanting a taste), but also for the established fan that can appreciate some of his best known works. These ‘introduction to’ releases often misrepresent an artist, especially one whose albums are so well rounded without obvious stand out singles. This record however, does not act as a ‘best of’, yet as titled, an ‘introduction to’….such an emotional, powerful and mesmerising songwriter. It is a great place to start before you delve into each of his albums.

PS. Check Elliott's Beatles cover of 'Because' from the end credits of the movie American Beauty.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

currently listening to...Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith-Either/Or

I spend quite a lot of time listening to the late Elliott Smith. His songs are powerful beyond words. I've been making my way through his back catalogue and there's so many great albums there. This one is a particular favourite of mine, released back in 1997 (a great year for albums).

Listen to new Elliott Smith album here

You can listen (before you BUY) to the new 'An Introduction to...Elliott Smith' album by clicking on the link below.

New Music # 14 The Vaccines

The Vaccines

You may have heard their first single 'Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)' on the likes of XFM or being talked about in NME etc....the track is due out November 22nd.

Listen here:

Along with Mona, Warpaint and a couple others that will be discussed in the near future, The Vaccines are on my list of ones to watch over the next couple years in terms of indie rock.

The band are touring the UK throughout November and Decemeber and are worth checking out:

Monday, 25 October 2010

Interview with Kris Drever

Before I go to the Drever, McCusker, Woomble gig at Union Chapel on Novemeber 10th, I was excited to chat with Kris Drever about the tour, his other collaborations and some of his fondest music memories:

1. You’re currently in the middle of a tour at the moment (with Lau) aren’t you? How has that been going?

Yes. It’s been going very well…all sold out!

2. You released your second solo album ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ earlier this year. What has the response been like?

The response has been very good. I haven’t done much solo touring but it’s been great, lots of compliments.

3. Do you prefer writing and recording solo albums or collaborative ones?

I don’t prefer either. I like to keep producing lots of material….you need a diverse musical life and each (solo and collaborative work) help each other.

4. Do certain musicians lead you to write certain songs, or does it depend on how you’re feeling at that time?

Music making is made up of different mechanics and people have certain ways of doing things. There’s a knock on effect (from the other musicians to what is written). The knock on effect is mainly for the melody…but the lyrics come from the melody written.

5. I know Phil Selway recorded on a few tracks for ‘Before The Ruin’. How did that come about? Are Radiohead a big influence on your music? Will he playing any live dates with you in the near future?

I love Radiohead. Every teenager has a record that they have a special relationship towards and ‘The Bends’ was mine. He became involved through connections with John McCusker. Phil’s a fan of folk music and had been to a gig where John and I were playing somewhere in Oxfordshire…I doubt he’ll be touring with us, I’m sure he’s very busy with Radiohead at the moment!

6. I found out about your music from Idlewild…being a big fan of theirs for years. In terms of how other people follow the band, is it an even spread that you each bring fans so some find out from Roddy, some John and some yourself….?

When we first started I think that Roddy had the lion share of fans at the performance. There are certain Idlewild fans who are not too bothered about folk music though and so now it’s probably more evenly split. I guess you could say it’s half Roddy and half John and I together.

7. Does it feel unsettling or natural to go from one tour to the next with different musicians?

I need a day in between! I’ve done 2 gigs with different bands at the same festival before and it was a nightmare-a lot of material! It’s doable, but not ideal.

8. For any of our readers who aren’t familiar with your work, where would you point them first? What are you most proud of would you say?

Well I’m proud of all of it. Some people have trouble grasping music with no vocals-so not the instrumental stuff…in which case maybe start with the solo stuff, or go directly to a Lau gig.

9. What’s the next record you’re involved in? Will Drever, McCusker, Woomble be releasing another record?

We (Drever, McCusker, Woomble) will be doing another album. Lau are releasing an EP in the near future.

I’m now going to ask you the standard set of interview questions for our readers to get to know you a bit better:

10. Who are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to a T-Bone Burnett album: ‘Tooth of Crime’ recently.

11. What was the first gig you went to?

That would be The Boys of the Lough in Kirkwall, Orkney. It would have been about 1986.

12. Most memorable gig?

When Beck supported Radiohead in Edinburgh. He had the full puppet show going with the band playing and the puppets doing the same!

13. Perfect gig-if you could pick any band to play anywhere?

I would see…Tom Waits, with the band of his choice at The Bongo Club in Edinburgh.

14. If you could pick any musician to collaborate with, who would it be?

Mark Ribot. I love his guitar playing!

Vulgar Picture grows...

Keep reading our articles and posting your comments. If you want to be a guest writer then get in touch...comment on our blogs.

Hope you're enjoying the's great hearing from people telling us that they're listening to what we're recommending.

currently listening to...Belle & Sebastian

Been making my way through all 8 of their studio albums to date over the past few days.

Why? I felt it was time to listen to them seriously. They've often been compared to so many bands that I like so much (including The Smiths, Nick Drake and Dylan)...

Each album is a great listen with the odd fantastic song thrown in. I'm very much enjoying myself thank you.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Kid A vs Mark Beaumont?

Casually reading some articles online and strolled upon this:

Mark Beaumont, who I've never been much of a fan of (although respect him telling it how he thinks it is, even if it isn't!), re-reviews Kid A...and decides that he was right and it was shit.

I can understand why people may not like Kid A. It took me a fair few listens to realise that it was one of the best albums ever recorded. To say that 'How To Disappear Completely' 'mumbles and drags too drearily' is's most definitely one of my favourite songs of all time.

For the Radiohead fan or not.... it's always fun to read everyone going nuts in the comment section when something like Kid A is being discussed.

For those interested, here is the link to his review back in 2000:

Saturday, 23 October 2010

currently listening to...Carl Barât

Carl Barât-Carl Barât

The debut solo album from the Libertine. Wasn't a fan of the single but decided it was time to give the album a go.

To listen before you BUY check here:

Oh dear Kings Of Leon...

How wrong has he got it...both here and on his last two albums. Arcade Fire must be laughing from the leagues and leagues above KOL that they sit in.

Weezer fans offering money for the band to stop!!

Pretty amusing little article about a bunch of unhappy fans:

currently listening to...The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground-The Velvet Underground & Nico

If you haven't heard it...hear it.

Without a doubt one of my favourite albums ever and one I keep coming back to.

Radiohead fan and looking for new music?

Always a good way to find out about some interesting bands and DJs.

Thom often puts up what he's listening to at the moment and there's always the chance of discovering a gem or two:


Check this brief article where Warpaint's Emily Kokal talks about one of her main influences:

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Warpaint's debut album...listen here now!

A band I've been talking about for a while (Warpaint) are set to release their debut album later this month. You can listen to it in full right here before you BUY it!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

New Music #13 Neil Young

Neil Young-Le Noise

On first listen of this record I was pretty disappointed. Neil's one of those artists that I often hail as untouchable, but he's put out so many records over the years that they're not all going to be immaculate (in my eyes).

At times, this album threatens to take hear Neil's raw guitar sound and you're ready to head into a messy, rock-fuelled classic. More often than not however, each track is slightly held back, and its urgency is lost. The first real highlight comes midway in the form of the acoustic 'Love And War'. This was the only track that impressed on my first listen and definitely stands alone.

The other acousic track on the record-'Peaceful Valley Boulevard' is probably the other strong point. I'm normally such a fan of Neil's electric sound that it was a surprise to me that my favourites were his softer songs. I think the rockier, electric tracks are missing the 'edge' that he is known for. They seem half-hearted a times. Perhaps it was a conscious decision not to recreate his classic sound...going for something different; but it just didn't work for me.

Listen out for a hint of 'In Those Jeans-Ginuwine' at the beginning of 'Peaceful Valley Boulevard'!!! Must be one of Neil's influences!!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

currently listening to...Anthony and the Johnsons

Anthony and the Johnsons-Swanlights

The new album from Anthony Hegarty and co was released last week. It sees a collaboration with Bjork on 'Fletta' and comes with a 144 page book filled with a variety of Anthony's paintings, photography and writings.

An artist that creeps into my range, (at times just about), and one whose artistic integrity can never be questioned. Powerful, emotional and often extremely with every Anthony record this is filled with feeling. 'Ghosts', 'Fletta' and lead single 'Thank You For Your Love' stand out.

Kings Of Leon-Come Around Sundown...thoughts

Kings Of Leon-Come Around Sundown

I told a friend I was going to give this a listen whilst making a journey up the M1 late at night. His response: 'good luck'. Why? He hadn't heard it.

I would probably have said the same to him if it had been the other way round. Why? I didn't know what it would be like.

I'll tell you the answer and save you reading the pointless and endless debates posted on guardian music et al about this band. Yes it's true their first couple of albums were great, their third OK and their fourth very uninspiring and not to my liking.....but they don't do themselves any favours. They recently slated both the songs that made them HUGE and their fans for no longer being cool. Fair enough...maybe they wrote an album and didn't like the way it sounded (don't release it you're saying). They weren't a fan of their new founded commercialism and success. Maybe they didn't like the fact that they were being played in very uncool nightclubs and in the rooms of 12 year old girls....(this didn't stop them from playing arenas and generally showing themselves as mainstream boy band pricks).....but all of this made their next album CRUCIAL.

When I was thinking of a way of summing up the record to my friend all I could think of was that they have pretty much dropped their commercial sing-along stadium fillers, but forgotten to replace it with anything....and that is exactly what I stick by. 'Come Around Sundown', as clear from both title and artwork and more importantly the music-is a nothing album. It certainly doesn't put KOL back on the map as a gritty, raw rock band like 'Youth And Young Manhood' did. It also isn't another 'Only By The Night'...although they'll get a similar fanbase from it I'd imagine.

When I heard the lead single 'Radioactive' I was certain they'd carry on the same route as OBTN, but the majority of this album tries to be more laid back and less stag night sing-along. I guess it does....but it does so extremely unconvincingly. I read somewhere that it sounds like an album that the band aren't confident about and I'd completely agree with that. It's the sound of a band struggling and not knowing where they belong or who they want to buy their records.

I can't see this record taking off like OBTN did, but I guess it was never going to. All it will do is struggle to keep those 'uncool' fans they didn't want, whilst struggle to regain the fans they lost 1-2 albums ago.

I don't hate this band, I just think that they've shot themselves in the foot so many times and this album is another prime example. They needed to do something big-and this album is anything but that.

request blogs....

Recently had a couple of requests for blogs on certain bands/albums.

Tell Vulgar Picture what you're listening to and we'll probably listen to it too and write our thoughts!

Comment on any blog with comments and recommendations!!!