Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Sally Timms of the Mekons and The Moon Upstairs.
Listed: The Mekons (Sally Timms) + The Moon Upstairs
One of the longest-running of the UK post-punk acts that came out of Leeds in the mid-1970s (alongside Gang of Four and Delta Five), the Mekons have stayed relevant by continually reinvented themselves. Starting as jittery, politically-engaged punks, they had moved by the mid-1980s to more traditional country instruments. This raucous cow punk hybrid peaked with the 1989 Mekons Rock ‘N Roll, whose opening “Memphis Egypt” urged fans to “destroy your safe and happy life...with rock ‘n roll.” Natural, the Mekon’s first studio album in five years, follows the gentler, more acoustic trajectory of more recent work with witchy violins, Sally Timms' haunting vocals and melancholy tunes about life, death and foxes of all ages.
Natural will be released August 21, and you can catch the new tunes on the round next month. Here are the U.S. your dates (though dates might still be added):
Sept. 27 - Pabst Theater Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Sept. 28 - Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago, Illinois
Sept. 30 - Andy Warhol Museum Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Oct. 1 - Jammin Java, Vienna, Virginia
Oct. 2 - World Cafe, Phialdelphia
Oct. 3 - The Gramercy Theatre New York, New York
Oct. 4 - Narrows Center for the Arts Fall River, Massachusetts
Oct. 8 - Aladdin Theater Portland, Oregon
Oct. 10 - Town Hall, Seattle
Oct. 13 - Lafayette Brewing Co. Lafayette, Indiana
Timms took part in this week’s Listed.
1. The Residents - Third Reich and Roll (1976, Ralph Records)
If I were only allowed to own only one cd, this would be it. To me it’s the musical equivalent of being tickled and I never tire of it. Klaxons, tinny pianos, bad German accents, tortuously slow versions of the Doors, Beatles et Al. An ingenious critique of all the things that were bad about the sixties. Political music at its strangest.
2. Kevin Coyne - Marjory Razorblade (1973, Virgin)
A great English eccentric, typically undervalued, who rewrote American blues to serve his own odd, desperate stories of misfits and underdogs. A musician’s musician, which means few people bought his records. Sadly departed, sorely missed.
3. Nicolette - Now is Early (1992 Shut Up and Dance)
Released on the defunct British Shut Up and Dance label which could do no wrong. Nicolette sings in a childlike, sing-song voice over stripped down proto-jungle beats. It’s the precursor to Homogenic (see below) and I have to assume Bjork had this in her record collection. Also worth checking out the Ragga Twins "Reggae owes me Money" on the same label if you can find it.
4. Martin Carthy - Martin Carthy (1965, Topic)
Lovely traditional folk songs from British singer/guitarist Carthy and fiddler Dave Swarbrick.
5. Nico - The Marble Index (1969 Elektra)
Nico’s dark, broody vocals over John Cale’s shimmering loops. Ahead of its time, otherworldly and undated. It’s way more unusual than anything the Velvet’s did. Who would have expected that she would turn out the innovator? Don’t play when depressed.
6. Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure (1973, WEA)
My Aunty Mavis gave me this for Christmas. It was my first LP. Songs about bogey men and falling in love with blow-up dolls in empty mansions, men in makeup and effeminate clothing, Eno hadn’t yet quit...What more could a fourteen year old girl ask for?
7. Bjork - Homogenic (1997, One Little Indian)
Like Nicolette, Bjork and Mark Bell mixed the sound of British underground dance music with something older. Swooping, dramatic and far more minimal (which for me means better in Bjork’s case) than any of her previous work. A great experimental pop record.
8. Nadka Karadjova - A Little Lambkin has Commenced Bleating (1982, Topic)
My favourite female singer and the greatest of all the Bulgarian vocalists by far. A benign, rosy-cheeked hausfrau who could strip the paint of walls with her exceptional, piercing voice. Sings about sheep giving birth, mountain streams, courtship rituals etc etc...Awarded many well-deserved first-class medals by her Government.
9. David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (1972, EMI)
This was my formative teenage record. I listened to these songs so many times that the lyrics are permanently seared on my brain. The words “funky thigh collector” stick with me for some reason. God, I loved David Bowie but I loved Mick Ronson, Bowie’s guitarist, even more. I had folders full of photographs of him culled from the music papers. He and I obviously weren’t meant to be. Yet another bunch of English men in make-up and girly clothing...
10. Slits - Cut (1979, Island)
Scary, scary, scary women...that’s how I remember the Slits when I first saw them play when they opened for the Buzzcocks in 1978. They shook up the conventional view of female musicians in a way that is difficult to explain now. I’d never seen anything like it, and the urban commentary and primitive, clattering punk-reggae on this record holds up as much today as it did then.
The Moon Upstairs
Combining unabashed pop hooks, psychedelic touches, and some rockin' moments to boot, L.A.'s The Moon Upstairs released their first full-length album, Guarding The Golden Apple (Gifted Children Records), in late June. With each member playing more than one instrument – lead singer Sharif Dumani is credited with nine – plus guests and a string section on several songs, many bands might have mistaken ornamentation for songwriting. Thankfully, The Moon Upstairs channel past masters and make sure that memorable songs are at the core of the album.
See them live when they hit the road with the Silver Apples (yes, those Silver Apples):
Sept. 5 - Emo's - Austin, TX
Sept. 7 - Univeristy of Kentucky (Memorial Hall) - Lexington, KY
Sept. 8 - Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
Sept. 10 - Rock And Roll Hotel - Washington DC
Sept. 11 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA
Sept. 12 - Knitting Factory - NYC, NY
Sept. 13 - The Silent Barn - Brooklyn, NY
Sept. 14 - Cafe Bourbon Street - Columbus, OH
Sept. 18 - Someday Lunge - Portland, OR
Sept. 20 - Cafe du Nord - San Francisco, CA
Sept. 22 - Club Spaceland - Los Angeles, CA
More dates will be announced, so keep an eye on giftedchildrenrecords.com. Dumani took part in this week’s Listed.
1. Brinsley Schwarz – Despite it All
I can't for the life of me understand why these guys aren't more recognized. I mean Nick Lowe had hits afterwards and the whole country-rock thing has exploded three or four times over now and these guys still get swept under the rug. This record is the British counterpart to The Band, Van Morrison, and The Burritos all swirled into one and from around the same time period. This record is gold.
2. Minimal Man – The Shroud Of
This is such a killer record: Totally paranoid and psychotic. It's funny when you hear all these reviews about "synth-punk" and then listen to some of these bands that sound like a grade-D version of early 80's new wave or safe post-punk. Now this sounds like what my version of a synth punk art damage record should be: jittery, intense and wild. I bet if Patrick Miller were alive today he wouldn't even be calling his first record a "synth-punk" classic. This album defies categorization. That's about as punk as it gets.
3. The Only Ones – Even Serpents Shine
This is such an amazing album. Romantic, hopeless, desperate, beautiful. Too punk for pop and too pop for punk. It didn't fit in at the time. There's something really special about those kind of records. It means that it'll last and stay strong through the years.
4. Felt – Poem of the River
I absolutely adore this band but out of all their records this is the best. "Silver Plane" is one of my all time favorite songs. Martin Duffy's organ playing is sick. His organ playing isn't really set to one "style." There are hints of 60's influenced organ but also wanks like Jimmy Smith, but it's not jazz or soul. Totally unique. Not to mention the fact that Lawrence's lyrics and execution of his words are a total art piece unto themselves.
5. The Nerves – Self Titled 7" single
This single is pure candy. It's like the ultimate sugar rush. Powerpop at its finest. I mean, if you think Dwight Twilley's "Looking for the Magic" is pure sugar then you'll be licking this single too.
6. MDC – Millions of Dead Cops
I played the crap out of this record as a kid, which is why I had to replace it a few years back because the old copy was so beat. This is one of the greatest punk/hardcore records of the early-mid 80's. A gay vegan front-man with intelligent commenting on corporate America equals an enemy of the state. I love it. MDC are more than a band. They are a weapon of mass destruction and I'm glad they exist.
7. Yoko Ono – Season of Glass
One of the most deeply personal and haunting records I've ever heard. Released a year after John Lennon's death and with a cover of his broken glasses with blood on them, this record is a tell all. Though one would think it's a diary of a women who has been broken, it's much more than that. The songs switch from Lennon-style pop beauty, to sort of a Lene Lovich new wave, to dark and Asian influenced sounds. Listening to this is an intense affair but totally worth it. She's let me peek into her life through this record. I can't really say a lot of albums do that, and that's what makes it so special.
8. Curtis Mayfield – There's No Place Like America Today
From the first glance of the record cover you know this shit is going to blow your mind. A painting of a white all American family from the 50's in their car and in front of that car is what alludes to a welfare line of African Americans? Mind-blowing. Talk about using your art in every way to make a statement on the social climate of the day. Not to mention the music on this record is some of the most heart-felt and beautiful funky soul music of that era.
9. Kevin Ayers – Joy of Toy
I love the first couple Soft Machine records and I love Robert Wyatt, but Kevin Ayers has a special place in my heart. I always brawl people on the fact that I think Kevin Ayers is far superior to Syd Barrett. I know I've probably pissed a lot of psych-turds off but it's true. Syd's good and their music is a bit different, but Mr. Ayers just sounds like he used the same formula and did it right. Plus, the instrumentation on this record is awesome. Great sound.! Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Floyd fan but Kevin Ayers needs more props.
10. The Beatles - The White Album
When I was a kid I didn't really like The Beatles, especially the later records. I was into punk rock, thrash, and art damage stuff (still am). I was an idiot. Enough said.
By Dusted Magazine