June 26, 2007

Sweet symphony: The Verve reunite

The Verve just announced some big news today — they are reuniting after eight years apart for a new album at the end of the summer and several shows this fall. Even though they’ve all slagged off on each other with vitriol in the intervening years, saying that a complete Beatles reunion was more likely than a Verve one, the statement released today says that they are “getting back together for the joy of the music.” Isn’t that sweet.

Richard Ashcroft, Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, and Pete Salisbury were back in the recording studio in London last week, and tickets to a handful of UK shows go on sale July 6th. Here’s to hoping there’s some amazing music waiting to come out from their reunion. In related listening, these are the demos from the Urban Hymns sessions at West London’s Olympic Studios in 1996 & 1997. The information that came with these when I sleuthed them out on a dare reads:

These are the legendary Urban Hymns demos recorded by Richard Ashcroft during 1996. They are from an analog source, but the quality is very listenable, all the instruments and vocals are present and clear. Verve drummer Peter Salisbury plays drums on most tracks, and most likely Simon Tong plays as well although no one is sure of the lineup other than Ashcroft and Salisbury. There are 3 songs from Urban Hymns, two b-sides from that album, 3 tracks that a few years later would appear on Ashcroft’s debut solo album, and eight unreleased tracks. Obviously, the absence of Nick McCabe from the proceedings is a negative, but the unreleased tracks and early versions of other songs make a nice addition to the Verve catalog.

OCT 13, 1996 – AUG 4, 1997
Space and Time
Song For The Lovers
One Before Dinner
Misty Morning June
Lord I’ve Been Trying
The Drugs Don’t Work
C’mon People
A Little Bit Of Love
Lord, I Guess I’ll Never Know
Monte Carlo
Oh Sister
New York (Siren mix)
One More For The Lovers
It Takes Two


June 22, 2006

“I’m Richard, I’m going to be doing some youth work here.”

Good to know that I’m not the only one who can get huggy and emotional after drinking:
Richard Ashcroft Arrested at Youth Club
From The Sun, 6/21/06

RICHARD ASHCROFT was arrested this week after bursting into a youth club and demanding to work with the baffled teens. Witnesses say the former VERVE frontman appeared drunk and looked like a tramp as he began swearing and refusing to leave. Staff called cops and Ashcroft was taken into custody for a couple of hours, then given an £80 fixed penalty fine for disorderly behaviour and released.

One eyewitness told me: “He was very strung out and close to tears at one point. He kept saying he wanted to work with kids, that he wanted to do ‘good things’. “He wasn’t aggressive, in fact he was quite charming and friendly. He kept hugging some staff and kids. But when the police arrived he was almost begging to be arrested. They told him to go quietly but he wouldn’t.”

The singer, famous for songs like The Drugs Don’t Work and who earned the nickname “Mad Richard” during his Verve heyday, entered The Bridge club in Chippenham, Wilts, just before 8pm on Monday. The club is near where his wife Kate’s family live. Around 60 youngsters in their early teens were relaxing and playing games when he arrived.

The witness said: “It was surreal and we couldn’t believe it at first. He looked like a tramp. He was dishevelled and unshaven, with filthy clothes, and there was saliva caked around his mouth. “He was off his head, although he wasn’t slurring his words. One of the staff said, ‘You’re the spitting image of Richard Ashcroft’. And he said, ‘That’s because I am.’ When they asked what he was doing there he said, ‘I’ve just come to see the kids. I want to see what’s going on in the youth club.’”

Ashcroft then announced he would like to work with the youngsters but the woman in charge of the club told him he would have to go through the proper channels.

The insider added: “He kept swearing and saying, ‘I’m Richard, I’m going to be doing some youth work here. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me, this is my first night.’ The woman was getting more and more anxious and rang her boss and I think he told her to call the police.”
Ashcroft then slumped on a sofa and the kids gathered around and asked him: “Are you really a rock star?”

When a lone police officer arrived, the star was seen arguing with him outside. The insider said: “He started getting aggressive towards the policeman and was swearing and asking him what his ‘f***ing problem’ was. The officer called for back-up and a patrol car arrived and took him away.” A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said Ashcroft was arrested for a public order offence and taken into custody. A police source added: “It looked like he was drunk. He was discharged once he had calmed down.”

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May 16, 2006

Superb acoustic Richard Ashcroft show

Here is an excellent acoustic set from Richard Ashcroft (former frontman of the Verve, whose new solo album Keys To The World is getting very solid reviews, and is a frequent listen ’round these parts). Recorded March 7 of this year at a sold-out show at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. The setlist has excellent flow, and the stripped-down accompaniment really allows his voice to shine. Those who were there say it was an incredible, intimate night.

01. Intro
02. Check the Meaning
03. Break The Night With Colour
04. Music is Power
05. Sweet Brother Malcolm
06. Lucky Man
07. Words Just Get In The Way
08. Keys To The World
09. Encore Break
10. History
11. Why Not Nothing
12. Bittersweet Symphony


Ashcroft returns to the same venue in a few weeks (June 7), this time with his full band. He is currently on tour in the UK & Europe.

Thanks to Jason for sharing!

April 12, 2006

Richard Ashcroft belts it out for Reeg

Richard Ashcroft recently appeared on Regis & Kelly to perform an acoustic rendition of “Break The Night With Colour”. If you are like me and would rather poke forks in your own eye than listen to Regis’ nasally voice (or, even worse, Kelly or Lisa’s perky one) at ungodly morning hours, I now bring you the video:

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February 6, 2006

Monday Music Roundup

Something In The Way
Nicolai Dunger
Neither a Nirvana cover, nor a Beatles cover, this ex-footballer (and by footballer I mean soccer player) Swede has a pleasant backyard BBQ vibe, which is something I can appreciate in the cold brown of winter. When I first heard him, I thought “Sondre Lerche?” Similiar geography (Sweden vs. Norway), reminiscent sound, but different guys. Dunger has also been likened to Van Morrison in his use of harmony and the tone of his pleasingly rough voice, but I hear that comparison more validly on his 2001 album Soul Rush. This track is off his 1999 album This Cloud Is Learning.

Otis Redding
This one’s just because.
It’s not new (um, obviously), but because I love Otis Redding and this is one of the best little songs ever recorded. I hadn’t heard Otis’ version until recently, being more familiar with the Sam Cooke stylin’ – who is also just a dose of good stuff. Otis makes it a little rougher, a bit more pained (unh). He throws down the fat bass riff & makes the drums more prominent to make you wanna stand up, maybe shake it. Add a little soul to your week.

Lonely Soul
Unkle featuring Richard Ashcroft
In honor (honour?) of Richard Ashcroft kicking off what is informally billed by some as his “comeback tour” in the UK recently, here is a downtempo trip-hop collaboration he did with Unkle on their 2003 album Psyence Fiction. This reminds me of Moby or Portishead, a very chill sound. Picture me on the Tube, with my headphones, speeding under the streets of London, listening to this. I might be wearing black, and/or sunglasses. But I am definitely feelin’ cool in the eardrum region.

Quiet Town
Josh Rouse
I really like Josh Rouse, and the deeper I dig into his back catalog, the more I am consistently impressed with the quiet quality of his releases. Underappreciated? Definitely. Here is a track from his upcoming March 21 release Subtitulo. It is gentle and harmonic, with plucky guitar and gorgeous strings. Josh recently picked up and moved to Spain (a variation on my ‘move-back-to-Florence’ dream), and this song is a paean to this sleepy hamlet of Altea where he first settled upon arrival. I would expect some more tour dates to be announced shortly to promote the new album – he just did a limited run in January, hitting Chicago, Nashville, L.A., San Fran, and New York.
Subliminal message: cometodenverpleasecometodenver.

Like A Star
Corinne Bailey Rae
From Leeds, England, this young woman’s voice possesses a straightforward honesty which I find extremely appealing. Corinne Bailey Rae sounds vocally like a cross between Nellie Furtado and India.Arie, with a hint of Billie Holliday. She’s got a unique & organic soulful sound which I like very much. Check out her recently released 3-song EP of the same name, and thanks to Aurgasm for the tip.

BONUS: iGIF has the new Vines song Gross Outfor download. The Vines’ site has the new songs streaming, but unfortunately your favorite friendly blogger is not technologically competent enough to know how to rip mp3s from streaming audio. So thank God we have Connor.

December 26, 2005

Monday Music Roundup (is it Monday already? )

Good gluttonous morning. I think I have eaten about a thousand Christmas cookies and other equally sweet items in the last 24 hours – ugh! Christmas was splendid overall, filled with family and friends and thoughtful gifts (new Dr. Martens!) and, my favorite: lame, loud board games with lots of yelling about rules. As good as it gets. I hope yours was equally nice.

Here are five songs for your listening pleasure. Please let me know what you think, I am very excited about several of these tunes lately.

When U Find Someone
Ken Stringfellow
Wait a sec, am I listening to The Beach Boys? The gorgeous layered vocal harmonies on the chorus of this song from ex-Posies frontman Ken Stringfellow have the timbre of the Wilsons all over it, a successful homage. This is a sunny, shimmering piece – you’ve got to smile when the chorus breaks. Check out Stringfellow’s 2004 album Soft Commands.

Over My Head (Cable Car)
The Fray
A local band straight outta Denver, The Fray has been getting a lot of airplay over at KFOG in San Francisco (say it with me again, “KFOG is possibly the best radio station in the world”). This is an understated song from 2005′s How To Save a Life which has been really growing on me. Piano crashes into a driving drum beat, while the vocals by Isaac Slade draw obvious comparison to Coldplay, but are distinct. Rolling Stone cites this as “elegantly wasted twentysomething angst.”

Your Love
The Butchies
North Carolina’s The Butchies completely reinvent the glitzy, cheesy, synth-laced ‘80s power ballad “Your Love” (originally by British band The Outfield), turning it in to something sultry and lolling. Singer/guitarist Kaia Wilson breathes the sad lyrics of longing over a simple, slowdancing beat. The final cut on 2004′s Make Yr Life.

Elizabeth, You Were Born To Play That Part
Ryan Adams
This song absolutely rips me in two. I listened to this for this first time last night in the dark. Starting with the opening two words – Adams them lays out with what I perceive as stunning beauty, and I can’t explain why. Something about the fragility of the way he floats the words, “For you…” and the drop in the melody.

The local newspaper today reviewed 29 and said this song is about a romantic interest, but Adams has said in concert that it is about a friend who experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, and that’s the interpretation that resonates and gouges. One of the many lushly gorgeous tracks from Adams’ new album 29.

Break The Night with Colour
Richard Ashcroft
Ashcroft (former lead singer of The Verve, for those of you playing along at home) has a new album called Keys To The World, coming out stateside on February 7, and this is the first single. Ashcroft was recently called “the best singer in the world” by Chris Martin during his high-profile appearance with Coldplay at Live 8, and this track shows off his distinctive and heartfelt sound. It will be interesting to see what 2006 holds for Ashcroft, with some tour dates coming, both solo and opening for Coldplay. BONUS: You can listen to some new interviews with Ashcroft on his website.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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