heard on the wire

And the bells were ringing out

Bells

A consensus appears to have been reached, if my Facebook and Twitter timelines are at–all reliable indicators, that Kirtsy MacColl and The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the greatest of Christmas songs.

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog’s holiday affections lie elsewhere, but we can only be happy that the season’s airwaves are more likely to be filled—and I’m not being sarcastic here—by Shane MacGowan’s beautiful voice than the tuneless drone of the Richard.

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Play some punk rock songs as Santa passes by

Bauble tree

Marrs’ 1987 number one smash hasn’t exactly sprung to mind when I’ve thought of Christmas records, but it will now, thanks to the enduring pop genius of perennial smithsock favourite Helen Love.

Helen is no stranger to seasonal songs, having graced the festive airwaves on several occasions, and this year is no exception. Marrs, on the other hand, was a one-off collaboration that produced its seminal chart topper in the distinctly non-festive month of October.

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Sprinkle sugar over me

Golden Syrup

To think, there are people who have never experienced the gustatory glee that comes from spreading fresh, white bread with thick layers of salted butter and Tate & Lyle’s Golden Syrup.

Equally there are people whose olfactory sense has never been graced with the sound of the Wave Pictures, the quirky English pop band whose latest LP, City Forgiveness, was much anticipated in these parts.

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Spend a little time with me

Big Spender

The blog has emerged, blinking, yawning and stretching its arms after another of its all-too-frequent but in-this-case-unavoidable hiatuses. An aestivation enforced by relocation, by the clearing out the accumulated detritus of everyday life and, worst of all, by being without a Mac for three weeks demands a blog post of exceptional clarity and conviction.

If this were an everyday—as opposed to randomly intermittent—music blog, clarity and conviction would manifest themselves in lists of the best records of a year that hasn’t yet finished. Go elsewhere for such assumption.

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This false idea of love has an entire language

Grey light

I can’t write music reviews. I’ve tried, but they sound like pile of pretentious twaddle., which is pretty much what all music reviews sound like to me. Maybe I am doing something right after all.

So when a band asks me if I would like to review their latest offering, I smile wryly to myself, thinking they’d probably prefer it if I didn’t. Instead I’ll just make the usual smart-arsed or vaguely informed comment and let you decide for yourselves. You know, like when you listen to the radio.

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C is for…

Cinerama, whose three LPs and collection of singles form, to my mind, the most consistently brilliant collection of recordings since Joy Division, each track worthy of a blog post of its own.

In the space of seven years, the band released three LPs and a dozen or so singles that managed a credible lack of chart success or mainstream critical acclaim, both of which are the kind of wholly admirable endorsements that more bands should seek.

And we’re lucky to have them, since the band happened almost by accident. It was originally a mere side project of David Gedge, singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Wedding Present, and his girlfriend Sally Murrell.

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Abrupt in nature, offish, frazzled

Dunes

Hibou is largely the work of Seattle-native Peter Michel, who makes music influenced by the city’s Discovery Park, pitch-black, candlelit concrete rooms and cheesecake.

Hibou is also the French for owl, an animal with a particular fondness for ukelele music.

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You best believe I’m in love, L-U-V

Cheap records

The problem with music blogs is that you have to wade through large quantities of mediocrity before you stumble upon a nugget of music that has you reaching for the download button. Regular readers may well be saying, “Tell me about it.”

Like panning for gold, often the trawling seems fruitless, but eventually it pays off, though if I hear another track on Indie Shuffle that “sounds like Two Door Cinema Club” I may be tempted to burn the place down, one door at a time.

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Here’s your room and here’s your records

SLF Nobody's Heroes

While Sweden seems to be able to produce a sparkling, new indie pop band at will, its Nordic neighbours’ kids seem more content to speak an impenetrable language, swan around Copenhagen on bicycles or luxuriate in the oil wealth that enables them to afford ridiculously over-priced beer. And, frankly, who can blame them.

Recent Swedish marvellousness includes recorded by Acid House Kings, Alpaca Sports, Liechtenstein and Sambassadeur, to name but four. For the countries to its east, west and south, there is some catching up to be done.

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From the dreamers and the sweethearts

Suitcase

Writing an intermittent and widely unread blog on the extreme margins of the musical landscape is a labour of love, so it’s always exciting when I find myself being followed by a genuine rock ’n’ roll artist, especially when it’s one I haven’t mentioned.

It’s certainly a pleasant change from those artists too rude eve to acknowledge that I’ve given their record the smithsockseal of approval.

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.

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All the music on this site is posted to encourage listeners to enjoy it and then rush out and buy as many songs by the artist as they possibly can. Any artist, record label boss, publisher or other rightsholder who doesn't want their works featured here only needs to get in touch and the offending file(s) will be removed at the earliest opportunity.