Sound of The Week Returns (!) and album testing

Evening all. I’ve had a total non-day as I’m rather tired. I’ve been trying desperately to finally finish Six Feet Under – only two more episodes to go. After I finish it I think I’ll start Mad Men. Anyway, it’s crazy to think that this time next week September is upon us. This year has flew in at a scarily fast pace. September looks set to be an incredibly busy month for music too. I know I bleat on about Madonna’s MDNA Tour and The Clash’s Hits Back and Sound System releases, but that literally is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s Arctic Monkeys, Janaelle Monae, MGMT, Chrvches, Nine Inch Nails to name but a few. Personally, I can’t wait.

Anyway, the song I’ve been listening to a lot of recently – the past few weeks actually – is by Ladyhawke.  Perhaps surprisingly, I only know a select few tracks from Ladyhawke and I’ve never listened to either of her albums in full. Anyway – I actually discovered this song by pure chance. I’ve also been listening to Only Over You by Fleetwood Mac recently (from Mirage). One day I was listening to it on Youtube, and I read some of the comments. One of them said that Ladyhawke’s song Morning Dreams basically ripped the song off. Naturally, I looked the song up to hear for myself. I have to say there’s definite similarities between the two, mostly in the music. That coupled with the fact they have this very serene sort of atmosphere. I don’t mind one iota though – I love both songs. I think it was an intentional homage too. When I researched more about Ladyhawke I discovered that she is a massive Fleetwood Mac fan. In fact, when she stated her five favourite albums of all time no fewer than three of those were Fleetwood Mac albums. I must say, I love her taste. I’ll definitely need to hear her two albums soon I think.

Also, in the midst of trying to redecorate my room and get fitter I also finally listened to an album that I’ve been meaning to do for ages. It was End Of The Century, which is the fifth album by The Ramones. I was underwhelmed by Road To Ruin on the whole. Mainly because I felt it was very… predictable. That they needed fresh ideas by that point. Thankfully, there were fresh ideas in End Of The Century but I did still feel it was pretty mixed in terms of quality. I loved songs like Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio? and Danny Says. Songs that were completely different and simply could never have featured on a prior record. It was the songs were they tried their more traditional sound were it fell flat though. Songs like I’m Affected were attempts to sound like Ramones of old and thanks to the production, it just fell flat. The heavy handed production did spoil it a lot for me. A shame really, because there were some good ideas, and when the album worked for me it was brilliant. It’s just a shame that it was so inconsistent.

So that’s it for this week. An unusual one really, what with Joe Strummer’s birthday and what have you. This coming week will be quiet for me musically as I attempt to get healthier, get caught up with reading and the like. Although on Friday I’m going to order from an online site that I’ve never used before. It’s called Punk Rock Shop and there’s no prizes for guessing what band I’m looking to purchase merchandise from. I was delighted to discover that they had the ultimate Clash T-shirt design I was after (previous searches for the design were a fail). Anyway, I cannot wait to get a few bits and pieces from it. As you could guess, when they arrive I’ll be sure to post a picture. See you soon!

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More album testing

So, more album testing today. That means only one thing: more thoughts below.

Continuing on with my Blondie exploration I listened today to arguably their most famous album: Parallel Lines. Technically it’s not a new album for me – I had begun listening to it last year. I loved One Way Or Another and Hanging On The Telephone but the next three tracks bored the life out of me. By track five I  was utterly bored and stopped listening. I have to admit that definitely didn’t happen today, I actually liked it this time around! Other new favorites I found were Pretty Baby and I’m Gonna Love You Too. Significantly even Heart of Glass grew on me tenfold. Previously that song had left me with a bad initial impression of Blondie because it used to grate on me so much. In any case Parallel Lines is another most enjoyable album. I’ve liked all their albums so far – despite not having found one that I could class amongst my all time favourite albums. It’s still very early days though and I’ve got another three more recent albums to check out (not forgetting Debbie Harry’s solo material either). I’ll be very interested to see how each album grows on me because it’s still very much at a tentative state.

The other album I listened to today was The Ramones’ fourth studio album, Road To Ruin. A few months ago I started listening to The Ramones and working through their back catalogue in chronological order. Needless to say, I only managed three albums. Criminal I guess because their albums are ridiculously short in length. In any case, I do have to say I think Road To Ruin has been the weakest Ramones album I’ve heard so far. I did like the more mature sounding songs such as Don’t Come Close. I did found new songs I loved such as I’m Against It and Bad Brain. It was just the more punk songs sometimes felt flat; a case of same old, same old really. Their fifth album is said to have a more mature direction all round though, so I’ve actually got high expectations of it!

I’ve been on a new music binge lately as you can tell – I’ve been needing to spend a little more time listening to new music actually. I may be back with another post later, not sure though. See you soon whatever happens though!

Sound of The Week: Friendly Fires, Ramones & Updates.

Gosh, is it really that time of the week again already? I swear the weeks seem to be flying in faster and faster as the year goes on! It’s been a strange week for me music wise: I haven’t actually been dominated by any one particular artist – although my new found love of listening to Simon & Garfunkel is still going strong I finally recieved my copies of Lou Reed’s Transformer (remastered), and the special editions of M.I.A’s Kala and Goldfrapp’s Supernature albums also. Not to mention I also got Little Boot’s new album, Nocturnes. Definitely a busy week for me in that regard, although I hope to pick up a few bits and pieces online this coming Thursday. After that then I seriously need to start saving money, although trying to resist the urge to buy one more record is one I find next to impossible. I must try though!

So, in a first for my blog I have not one but two sounds of the week! These are songs I have fallen back in love with, and they sound-tracked what was a pretty great week of weather all round for Northern Ireland. Gloriously sunshine, a far cry away from the snow we received around Easter! So, both songs have a summery feel and that’s about all that they have in common. First up, its True Love by Friendly Fires from their second album Pala. I don’t feature them on my blog nearly as much as I should, but I love these guys. Probably my favorite band to emerge in the last few years and I simply cannot wait for their third record. Pala is my favourite album of theirs, and one of my favourite albums ever in all honesty. It’s one album that I can listen to on repeat. One of my favourite songs from it is True Love, a great song that I’m surprised doesn’t get more attention (although I share that opinion for all of Friendly Fires recorded output). It’s one of – if not the – most paciest tracks on Pala. It also has piano chords during the chorus that sound like they were lifted straight out of a vintage house track. As you could imagine, I rather love it!

The other song for the week is a completely different sound, but it is also fast paced, exciting and summery. Most of all it is also very addicting! The track is The Ramones cover of California Sun (originally released in 1961 by Joe Jones). It was a track on their second album, Leave Home and it also served as a B-side to the album’s first single, I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You. There’s two things I love about this: the pounding drums, in particular those during the verses, and the fact that the chorus is one of the catchiest things I have ever heard. For whatever reason, I just love how Joey Ramone sings the chorus.  And in true Ramones style. it’s fast, rhythmic and exciting and it makes for a track that I must have listened to five times in a row whilst doing some surfing (pun fully intended although this was of the internet kind) in that gorgeous weather we had. To be honest, I would have to say its one of my favourite cover versions by any artist, ever!

So, that’s it for this week’s sound of the week. An unusual post perhaps. As for posts this coming week, I have a few songs I wish to discuss and maybe even a book review. Well the book review is nearly totally finished. I keep promising a picture of my ever growing Clash collection but it won’t be this coming week, hopefully the week after. I still haven’t got a notification of my Strummerville shirt and postcards being dispatched, although because its being delivered first class I hope that when they are dispatched it will be a speedy delivery. Although the local post service can be… erratic, to say the least. I’m actually ordering two Clash/Joe Strummer related items at the end of the week too, so I’ll need to wait until the following week before they’re even here. Until next time, thanks for reading though!

The Ramones – It’s Alive!

A post I forgot to make earlier in the week, oh well. Anyhow – I’m still investigating The Ramones so I’m not very knowledgeable about the history of band when it comes to landmark performances and such (not yet at least). As far as I’m aware though this performance, which took place at London’s Rainbow Theatre in 1977 on New Year’s Eve (what happens at midnight is unbelievably cool I think) – is regarded as a key Ramones performance. Not only that but it’s also regarded as one of the finest to take place at the Rainbow Theatre. It was released in 1979 as their first live album under the title It’s Alive! You can also find the video footage on a DVD compiling live Ramones footage that’s called It’s Alive 1974-1996. Bare in mind though that the DVD doesn’t contain the full show – it has about half of it I think – but the CD version does. I haven’t got the DVD yet (although I plan to soon) but when I saw the video footage I was blown away by the performance so much so that I went straight on Amazon and ordered the CD for a very reasonable price. The first thing that struck me very quickly – before we even come to the fact it’s a stellar performance – is the quality in terms of picture. Seriously, this was shot in 1977 and there’s precious little video footage of punk that exists in such high quality from that era. The only other thing that I’ve ever seen that rivals it for picture quality (and musical performance really) is the live footage of The Clash in their Rude Boy film. The picture quality is so good it almost makes up for the fact it’s sadly only half of the show roughly. A real shame because The Ramones are phenomenal to watch: such ferocious live energy. It’s the first proper live footage of the group I’ve seen, not counting the inevitable live snippets that could be found in the End Of A Century documentary (highly recommended and yet another DVD I need to purchase). Anyhow I’ll stop blathering now, but I can’t recommend this video highly enough if you have any interest in punk, The Ramones or simply a killer live band!

Soundsystem.

Evening all, its slightly late here over in UK but I decided it was time I knuckled down and wrote an actual post as opposed to yet another update.

I’ve been busy here this past week: buying an iPad Mini no less (wonderful machine) and treating myself to some new CDs in the process, namely M.I.A’s Kala album and the Ramones live album It’s Alive. I’ve also heard Daft Punk’s new Random Access Memories and truth be told I don’t think its as good as everyone says it is, but that’s for another post . In terms of what’s been dominating my listening the past few days I’ve been having a serious love affair with the back catalogue of Simon & Garfunkel, an amazing group (and I’m not even a folk fan by any means). I really like Paul Simon as a solo artist, so I decided it was time to investigate where it all started. In all honesty, Art Garfunkel is now one of my all time favourite vocalists – the phrase “voice of an angel” may be branded about too much – but in his case I feel its certainly applicable. The scary part? I’m singing their praises already and I haven’t even heard all of their albums yet. A new addition to the all time favourites list perhaps!

Anyhow – the big story for me these past few days has been the announcement of the long awaited boxset of The Clash, entitled Sound System. I love special editions, boxsets and all that fancy stuff so I had high hopes for this – I have to say it looks tremendous (the art for the boxset is done by Paul Simonon). It consists of their five albums  remastered (omitting Cut The Crap) including an extra disc of their various non album singles. There’s also rarities/unreleased tracks  and a DVD to boot which I love. One of my favourite Clash songs is The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too and I was ecstatic to discover this much underrated track is finally going to get an official release. As is standard with such a boxset there’s also merchandise galore: stickers, a poster and badges to name some of it. All stuff I will treasure because being 19 I missed out on a lot of merchandise and Belfast doesn’t stock much in the way of Clash material at all, believe me. The real gem for me though merchandise wise though is the reprinted copies of the Armagideon Times fanzines that will be in it (along with a new edition). Again, I missed out on these being born years after they broke up. I love fanzines and the like so this shall be a real treat. The boxset comes out on September 9th here in UK, it’s pricey at £110 but the group have made such an impact on me this past year that I really can’t wait to buy the boxset. In fact, there’s a chance my family might be buying two copies because one of them has turned into a big fan also (thanks to my constant playing).

Now I have that off my chest, its not even the only Clash release that’s been announced: there’s a new compilation coming called The Clash Hits Back (I love that title). I already have all their albums and even their singles boxset, so truth be told I’m indifferent to a compilation coming out but I have to admit the track listing isn’t far off my personal ideal one in all honesty. It’s been a busy month for me in my Clash fandom really, particularly on the purchasing front. I’ve ended up with two copies of their official book (see a previous post), the two disc edition of Rude Boy on DVD not to mention receiving their singles boxset as a 19th birthday present. It doesn’t stop there, if all goes to plan I’m getting the US edition of The Clash next week along with my first Joe Strummer T-shirt, which I’m really excited about as the T-shirt comes from the Strummerville charity. When all of that arrives (give it two weeks), I’ll be sure to do a post on my Clash collection.

Long winded post I know, but there’s just been so much lately, its crazy! I will try and write a post on Daft Punk’s new album (well initial thoughts) at least tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that along with sharing some musical gems I’ve found. Until then I’m going to unwind now, listen to more Simon & Garfunkel and start the latest season of Big Bang Theory. Adios for now!

Finally watched End of A Century!

So today I finally watched something I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks – End Of The Century: The Story of The Ramones. It was a very enjoyable documentary. My investigation of The Ramones is pretty much in its infancy. I’ve only heard a few albums but earlier in the week I did receive my copy of their Hey Ho, Let’s Go! anthology in the post because I’ve liked pretty much all of what I’ve heard so far. As I said before I really enjoyed the documentary. I probably would have liked it to focus on their music slightly more however but that’s just a side issue. It was very cool how they gave themselves the stage surname Ramone to bestow a sense of unity in the group even though in actuality none of the band members were even related. It was even more interesting when it became clear that despite these attempts the band members contrasted with each other particularly Joey and Johnny. I particularly liked Joey Ramone actually. The documentary also featured one of my favourite musicians (and human beings) as an interviewee – Joe Strummer (in what must have been one of his last interviews). It also featured other key musicians of the era such as Blondie. Watching the documentary in 2013 was actually quite moving as all but one of the original members of the group (Tommy Ramone) has now died, along with Joe Strummer. End of A Century, end of an era I think. But to end on a more positive note I do really recommend this documentary, its funny in places, moving in others but always very interesting and informative!

Things I’ve been doing this week: The Ramones.


 I’ve only listened to punk for about a year. I started off with the two obvious bands: Sex Pistols and The Clash. I ventured off into trying out other bands such as Stiff Little Fingers and X-Ray Spex. One band that I didn’t try out though was one of the key punk bands – The Ramones. Until recently. In the last few days I’ve decided to do an album a day of theirs until I’ve listened to all of their studio albums. So far I’ve heard their first two albums. It’s funny because a lot of the songs have a very similar sound, but there’s something very likeable about their music for me. It’s just so catchy and there’s no faffing about – it gets straight to to the point and bang. Boom. Next track. It’s a refreshing change when you listen to a lot of dance music which often feels like it takes forever to get going. I’ve listened to The Ramones and Leave Home. Of the two, I definitely prefer Leave Home. The Ramones did get really samey for me as a whole album (although I liked most of the songs) but on Leave Home you can hear a definite progression in sound. Having said that I’ve yet to hear the albums that feature my favorite Ramones songs so far – like Rockaway Beach for instance – so I’ve a feeling I’m going to enjoy their subsequent albums even more!