Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ash Grove Volume 9 - Xmas 2006 Disc 1

Well, at long last, it's about time I got to reviewing at least one of Lisa & Neil's superb Christmas compilations!! The compilations in general have been going ever since I met the Dudes at the back end of 2002, and each further chapter makes a very welcomed addition! So quick, before any more DIY or mountains get in the way!

1. The Tiny - Know Your Demons
From: Starring; Someone Like You (2006)

Taken from The Tiny's second LP, this track starts the compilation off sweetly and innocently enough, the beautiful voice of Ellekari Larsson coming in over gentle piano notes. However, with the first run of the title line, an unbalanced edge comes into Ellekari's delivery, and you start to feel that this might not be as billed. Sure enough, futher returns to this line are accompanied by equally unbalanced backing vocals and crashing of drums, culminating in a swirling endgame as your gentle stream suddenly becomes full-on rapids. Indie, but flavoured sweet, odd, unbalanced and Scandanavian. If this track isn't on the soundtrack to 'The Golden Compass', there's no justice..

2. Felix - Death To Everyone But Us (Meredith's Version)
From: What I Learned From TV (2006)

Offbeat Nottingham festerers. Discordant piano. Muttering. Feedback here and then there. No complaints. They seem almost embarrassed to be articulate but in doing not so they create a tension and an envelope that you're suddenly on the inside of. Like Lorna in a psychiatric ward, or possibly Meanwhile Back in Communist Russia without the loud bits.

3. Beirut - Scenic World (Version)
From: Lon Gisland EP (2006)

Suddenly, this comes in and gets the place moving. Hip young thing Condon, lover of electronic and Balkan music alike, tinkers with no set rules and is clearly having a fine time. His vocal delivery is restrained but emotional, but the rich music tapestry behind it is infectious and overall means that this is an upbeat ride. A fine thing. A jotting down of the name for further investigation...

4. Eleni Peta - Only When I Lose Myself
From: A Greek Tribute to Depeche Mode (2005)

Only Lisa could find an album by this name, and yet it all makes sense. A fine cover from a niche within a niche. This Depeche Mode number benefits a reworking by this Greek star and general 'not entirely unattractive lass'.

5. Low - Back Home Again
From: Take Me Home: A Tribute To John Denver (2000)

Some people don't 'get' Low, finding their 'Slowcore' numbers to be definite downers. I feel sorry for these people. Maybe my emotions resonate in the slow spectrum, but they always have quite an effect on me and this is a fine example. A cover that definitely justifies itself and probably this compilation's centrepiece.

6. Maps - Don't Fear
From: Now Hear This! 47 (2006)

Northampton electronica-indie outfit. A simple and uplifting refrain repeated over relaxed but building music that without realising it, you're bobbing along to. The Polyphonic Spree meet The Jesus and Mary Chain.

7. Lullaby Arkestra - Unite!!!!!!!!!
From: Ampgrave (2006)

This piece from Toronto's newies starts innocently enough, but for a song with nine exclamation marks, you just know there's going to be some shouting before too long. Sure enough it comes in abundance in choruses and then in trading cross-fire, as the music seems to lose all control and brakes through every genre-boundary it can find, sounding simultaneously like thrash metal and eastern european folk. These people can only be a welcomed edition.

8. Dead Can Dance - Cantara
From: Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun (1987)

A fine outing from old skool Dead Can Dance. Tense and echoing guitar gives well to fine eastern vocals and rousing strings. This is simply great music.

9. A Hawk And A Hacksaw - In The River
From: The Way The Wind Blows (2006)

Another great piece from eastern folk stalwarts A Hawk and A Hacksaw. Wonderful rich music with a delivery that could fit any lyric to any music and make it an essentially part of the song.

10. Ludovico Einaudi & Ballaké Sissoko - Chameaux
From: The Festival In The Desert (2003)

The folk theme continues with this well-crafted piece. I really hope these people know how well they play!

11. Super√°gua - Stylish
From: The Rough Guide To Brazilian Electronica (2003)

I have all the patience in the world for electronica with soul and this has it. No thundering dark beats like the home grown stuff, but instead a welcome marriage of sounds as more traditional music comes in, finishing on upbeat notes fading out to...

12. Orishas - A Lo Cubano
From: A Lo Cubano (1999)

Well, this livens things up! Cuban hip hop with great beats and vocal delivery, both upfront and with the backing. Stands up in its own right as well as bearing many cultural clues to its origin, and no bling in sight...

13. Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - Exile
From: Exile (2003)

Bringing the heartbeat back down is the saxophone stylings of Gilad Atzmon et al. A gentle track but still with a distinctive flavour.

14. Felix - Back In Style
From: What I Learned From TV (2006)

See no.2. It still has muttering. It still has melody. It's still dark. It's still brilliant.

15. Saturday Looks Good To Me - Typing
From: All Your Summer Songs (2003)

Sweet female vocals and slightly unhinged indie accompaniment is always a good mix and this is no exception. Makes me think of Lorna again, but you know, once they've been kicked out of school.

16. Sarah McLachlan - Dear God (cover of XTC)
From: A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs OF XTC (1995)

Sarah McLachlan takes on XTC and wins. What can you say? She bags it.

17. Saint Etienne (feat. Stephen Duffy) - Fake '88
From: Sharks Patrol These Waters: The Best Of Volume Too 2 (1995)

Ash Grove compilation stalwarts St. Etienne round up this chapter with a depressing look at how the 80's will be remembered. 'Wet look gel'. Enough said.

Good work dudes. Maybe we can get one of those signs like with twinned towns? 'The Dudes Music, twinned with George's Aberdeen, for cultural enrichment!'

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Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Awh man, that is one stupendous review and SOOOO glad that collection hit the spot. It just reminds me that I have a long-since-left-in-draft post reviewing the second of the Dudelicious volumes from Xmas myself!

very pleased with the comments!

6 March 2007 at 12:06  
Blogger George Walks said...

No problem, and you're very welcome. I'm off to press play now!!

6 March 2007 at 18:48  
Blogger Scott said...

Hey, George! I took your advice and picked up the 16 yr Lagavulin.

Whoa! What a fine whisky. Great recommendation! Thanks!

23 March 2007 at 20:18  
Blogger George Walks said...

No problem at all Scott; I like nothing more than spreading the news. I am very glad it meets your approval!

31 March 2007 at 19:24  
Anonymous Philena said...

Great work.

10 November 2008 at 21:32  

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