This week Gerard Love steps out from behind the bass playing duties he's been holding down for Teenage Fanclub for the last 100 years or so and releases his first solo project under the name Lightships. Love was responsible for some the group's hookiest, poppiest songs ("Starsign," "Sparky's Dream," "Radio,") but also some moments of tender beauty ("Don't Look Back,") and on Electric Cables he combines the two into something magical. It's a near perfect soundtrack for an afternoon of peaceful daydreaming with Love's lovely vocals floating gracefully on intertwined guitar and flute lines bathed in tremelo and delay. We took a moment off from playing the album over and over to ask Love to send us a list of some of the things that inspired him as he was making the album.....
Electric Cables is streaming here but if you just want a quick hit, Love made a pretty video for one of the album's highlights "Sweetness in Her Spark"
Duke Ellington - "Didgeridoo"
This is a great Duke Ellington track that I spent almost 2 years trying to identify. I first heard it in a van somewhere in England while touring The Pastels/Tenniscoats Two Sunsets LP in 2009. Ueno Takashi, the guitarist with Tenniscoats, sat up front and played it amongst other exotic gems from his iPod somewhere between Birmingham and London. It sounded so great and I remember asking him who the artist was, but stupidly I didn't ask the name of the track or the LP from which it was from. In the following months I picked up numerous Duke Ellington LPs and a couple of career-spanning compilations, all to no avail. I asked around in Glasgow trying to describe the sound of the track to people who i thought might know, kind of like a big band doing Stereolab or Silver Apples, but everyone was directing me to the swing stuff from the 40s, 50s and early 60s, all completely wonderful but not the sound that I'd heard in the van that day. When Tenniscoats eventually returned to Glasgow in summer 2011, I made a point of asking Ueno if he could remember which Duke Ellington LP he might have been playing in the van way back in 2009. He thought about it for a few seconds then said The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. I picked it up from eBay a week or so later and found the tune that had made such a big impression on me. It's called "Didgeridoo". It's from 1971, when Duke Ellington was a cool 72 years of age.
Bob Seger and the Last Heard - "East Side Story"
Bob Seger is an artist whose music I've always avoided. I don't know what I expected it to sound like, but I didn't expect it to sound anything like this. His name somehow conjures up perpetual soft rock in that bearded genre that's inhabited by the likes of Toto/Chicago/Foreigner, but this is based on absolutely nothing but misguided assumption (and the fact that he might have had a beard). I was pointed in the direction of "East Side Story" by one of the guys at Monorail Records in Glasgow and it is such a great track. Like a lot of garage songs of that time, it seems to be loosely based on the Gloria model, but being from Detroit it has an added edge and an authentic heaviness. From 1966 - just brilliant!
Harumi - "What A Day For Me"
I first heard Harumi when I downloaded the Trish Keenan Motorway Mix which appeared online a few days after her sad passing early last year. The mix is a wonderful esoteric blend of melody, atmosphere and invention featuring an international selection of artists mostly unknown to me at the time. On the first couple of listens it was Harumi's "What A Day For Me" that stood out as the cool pop moment of the compilation. The song is bright and positive and slightly George Harrison-esque, but with added vibraphone and twinkling organ on top of a laid-back soul groove. There are places in the song where it sounds like the vocal has been muted, as if the original vocal arrangement had been (roughly) cut and pasted into a brand new pattern at the mixing stage, but this kind of adds to the eccentric charm of the whole shebang. "What A Day For Me" is taken from Harumi's self-titled double LP released on Verve in 1968. It was produced by Tom Wilson, who was responsible for producing some of the most amazing records of that period.
Las Acacias is a lovely movie from Argentina which was released last year. It's a wonderful simple tale of self-realisation/transformation in the life of a middle-aged long distance truck driver whose job is to transport timber from Paraguay to Argentina. On this occasion, as well as the timber, our hero has to accommodate a mother and her young child in his journey from Asuncion to Buenos Aires. Although the movie is in Spanish, with subtitles, the simplicity of the tale and the strength and quality of the acting completely carry the essence of the parable without any real need for language at all.
Cate Le Bon - "Puts Me To Work"
I haven't really listened to radio much in the last few years, but I recently picked up a DAB set up and started tuning in to the digital channels in the UK. The first night I listened in to Marc Riley's BBC 6music show, I heard this great song by Cate Le Bon. I don't know anything about her except that she is from Wales, and there has been lots of great music coming from Wales over the past decade or so. I haven't picked up her CYRK LP yet so I don't know how this song compares in style with her other stuff. Her voice reminds me a little of Kendra Smith in places, but maybe it's just the pronunciation of the odd word here and there. Anyway, I love the effortless feel of the band and I love the melody. This is from now.