Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy birthday you old bum...

Okay, Tom Waits does not do disco. Yet. But posting here nonetheless because the Great Man just hit 60 and that's something to celebrate. It doesn't all have to be about dancing music here, right?
     Saw him last year for an exorbitant price in a big tent in Phoenix Park but it was worth it alone for the unexpected pleasure of witnessing Waits solo at the piano, crooning one of my favourites: '(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night' and God knows I may not get the chance again seeing as he probably prefers to spend most of his time cooked up in the house mysteriously mucking with machines and music. Plus he was bloody hilarious (wish I could remember some of the stage patter here but I know the live album just out for the tour a features a bonus disc collecting his non-musical musings so I  an remind myself later maybe).

I won't say much else other than earlier today I read that he might do some more acting and stick on the latex socks to play a hobbit next year. Can't wait. Here's some more choice vids:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Remix of the week: XX + Florence + the Machine = Genius

Next one in a nominally weekly series. We take a remix, re-work, re-edit, whatever and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that either!

The next one we're bigging up here is very arguably not a remix, but sure we're not into strict definitions here on the TomTom blog. What we're talking about here is a full-blown cover of a cover that's already been covered many times (as the Guardian have recently detailed) that samples a small part of one of the covers (by Florence + the Machine) and does a lot more besides. Funny thing is, if you buy the new Florence 7 inch of 'You've Got the Love' the b-side has the Jamie XX re-work Feat. The XX on the flip so technically the artist is Florence + the Machine, which is a bit stupid; but anyway, like strict definitions, we won't get bogged down in the details. [note: I just played the Florence version on 7 inch at 33 rpm (i.e the wrong speed) and it's a disturbingly listenable slow-burner torch-song - kind of sounds a bit like Antony Hegarty's younger, slightly butcher brother who's realy into Scott Walker. I'm sorry I can't be arsed recording this to digital right now so you can hear it here but if someone is intrigued enough then give me a shout in the comments and I'll see what I can do].

Florence Welsh's take the on the 1986 The Source featuring Candi Staton original is not bad, but it's a bit of a no-brainer easy-fit for someone with such a soulful voice and is obviously indebted to later interpretations of the original; saying that it's probably amazing live when she lets rip. South-west Londoners The XX (pictured above) come up with one of the year's most memorable "remixes", refashioning it as a sexy duet prefaced in the intro by a dreamy harp sample, and then blasted with 2-step precision, then something marimba sounding and choppy ticks and snares ducking in and out of the sensuous assault; it all culminates to reinvent this song in a way Florence did not. You need to hear this and if you haven't heard The XX's debut album then you have even more work to do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Disco where art thou?

Came across a lovely piece on on the oft-lamented RTE music show No Disco by Tanya Sweeney. This show was a formative influence on myself and many mates - mainly due to original presenter Donal Dineen's fondness for showing trippy videos from the nascent trip-hop scene (Massive Attack's Karmacoma and Protection as well as Tricky's Hell Is Around the Corner stand out big time in my mind). Many's a night did I sit propped by the VCR, finger twitching over the record button to catch these gems for posterity.

In hindsight, the reticent Dineen was so remarkably 'not there' on screen, head jerking self-consciously as he whispered record label names and meticulous adjectives from the auto-cue. The lack of professionalism was of course decidedly refreshing. His successor, the late Uaneen Fitzsimons, was a little too commercial for my tastes, but, as Sweeney's article reflects, she was made for the screen and no doubt would have gone on to, well, if not greater, at least more high-profile assignments. Leagues O'Toole revived the laid back, subtler tones of Dineen and did a decent job until the show was axed in 2003.

There's something new on the increasingly depressing RTE homegrown schedule called When Under Ether (not a good name guys, PJ Harvey song or no) - I haven't watched it but here's hoping it proves worthy of being spoken of in the same breath as No Disco by some media correspondants.

Here's some more video memories off the top of my head (some not embedded 'cause EMI the poopers won't allow it) - anyone remember any others on heavy rotation that I've forgottn here - there must be loads?:

Smashing Pumpkins - Today 
Portishead - Glory Box
Radiohead - Just
Beck - The New Pollution 
Daft Punk - Around the World and Da Funk

Friday, November 13, 2009

Remix of the Week: WhoMadeWho kick out the tunes

Next one in a nominally weekly series. We take a remix, re-work, re-edit - whatever - and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that either!

It's usually LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy who turns whatever he touches into gold, but in the case of his and LCD colleague Nancy Wang's collaboration with electro-rockers Munk (aka Mathias Modica), it's a bunch of Danes who turn on the greatness on this occasion. I can't say I know much about WhoMadeWho; they're presumably named after an AC/DC song; the little I have heard since this remix of a song call 'Kick Out the Chairs' hasn't come close to the cowbell funk brilliance of their re-imagining of that tune. In fact, so good is the instrumental track they slide underneath the vocals here that you wonder why these guys did not keep the song for themselves; but there's the rub - the selfless beauty of the truly great remix and whole point of this regular post.

So, the Munk original mix is decent in its own respect - twangy, menacing eletrco-rock lynch-pinned by the LCD co-vocalists possibly talking spontaneous gibberish but making sense in their own hipsterish way. But it doesn't hold a candle to what came later - those vocals were made for WhoMadeWho's addictive groove. The original is rendered truly moot in the best possible way. Check it out for yourself:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sesame St. is forty. Not a grey hair to be found.

This week saw the fortieth birthday of that little eternal gem known as Sesame St. There's been many deserving tributes throughout the media spectrum in the past week: Google released a week of homepage doodles dedicated to the show; those commies over at the Guardian, as always, put things into context as only they can; and even the impossibly perfect Michelle Obama turned up to teach kids how to grow cucumbers on the birthday show.

One thing we've always loved about Sesame Street are the plethora of musical guest who've turned up over the years to serenade Big Bird and his mates. Some of these people have even adapted their lyrics in an effort to appeal to the decidedly younger demographic (or, in James Blunt's case, to prove that Top Gear wasn't just a fluke and that he actually really isn't that thing that rhymes with his name). Below are a few examples of our fave musical appearances for your eternal enjoyment. The Stevie Wonder magic is dedicated to TomTom's design wiz El Yob and Mrs El Yob all the way on the other side of the planet.

But first, take us to school Ms. Patti Labelle:

On to the next one: TomTom November

November 21st and we are back in Sligo for our third party and once again we set up shop upstairs at Tobergal Lane Cafe. We're well happy to return to the scene of our last party where, in the end, we weren't too far from filling the place.

That night saw Liam take to the decks for the first hour and a half or so for a very nice mix of scene-setters (Arthur Russell, Grace Jones, Röyksopp/Kings of Convenience) and then I came on the decks in slightly less subtle fashion to (ahem) play some classics. It was a good night we think - bodies were moving, balloons were popping, er, records were even skipping. But let us know if you think we can do more - click that comment link at the bottom, go on, go on.

The upstairs venue at Tobergal offers an intimate setting and attracts good heads and even some familiar faces, which is always nice. We're hoping for more of the same and even more besides in little over a week. Expect more balloons, tunes, and maybe even a free gift for those in early doors (that's 10.30pm). We'll be there til 2am or thereabouts. Do say hello.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remix of the Week: Holy Fuck do things to Röyksopp

Next one in a nominally weekly series. We take a remix, re-work, re-edit - whatever - and big it up so you might then listen to it. The track doesn't have to be new or anything but usually it should stand-up to or even better the original. Usually it'd be a track we'd spin on a TomTom night - but don't hold us to that either!

For some reason, Icelandic band Röyksopp don't seem very interesting to me. Someone gave me their second album when it came out and I didn't listen to it (sorry Liam). In fairness, they did a great mix of a Kings of Convenience song a few years back and that one 'Eple' off their first (?) album is always nice to hear now and then - especially the Scratch Attack mix.  (Hello Aran McMahon!)

The original of 'Happy Up Here' is not bad I suppose. It bounces along airily for a couple minutes; has an indistinct vocal that might allude to the title; and will probably be used in an ad to sell you insurance before the end of the year.  The 12" for some REALLY ANNOYING REASON does not include the "Re-interpretation" by Toronto's analogue zealots Holy Fuck, though it does have about fourteen other versions of the song crammed in there. A lazy kick drum ushers in its groovesome three and three-quarter minutes; whooshing panning noises strafe the speakers; and then the sparring Low-era Bowie synths jostle with a bassline to crumble your corn flakes. There might be a Dyson in there at one stage. It's a belter. Job's a good'un.