heard on the wire

Sting singing on the roof of the Barbican


I’ve been messing about with tumblr for years without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it. Then, in a moment of inspiration that would have surprised Saul himself, I realised that I could combine tumblr’s immediacy with the longer form of this blog to create the ultimate two-stop shop for discerning music fans.

So, after much jiggery, a little pokery and suprisingly little cursing, a customised smithsocktumblr has become the place where I dump those SoundCloud and Bandcamp soundbites that I encounter on my virtual travels. There’s no commentary, no context, just music.

All of which has little to do with today’s selection of top tunes, other than that it’s just as random as the tumblr.

We start with Scotland’s Just Joans, who’ve been around for quite some time without really exciting this blogger until now. This lovely ditty about rain and favourite metaphors comes from a seven-track LP, 6.9 Love Songs, released last August.

The Just Joans :: Another Song about the Rain

Audio MP3

Type “rain quotations” (or “quotes”, if you insist) into Google and you’ll be presented with a long list of wise words and uninspiring tosh, not least among which will be this extended epithet, attributed to nineteenth century polymath John Ruskin.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

I say attributed, because I haven’t been able to find any evidence that Ruskin was at all responsible for the words prior to the semi-colon. What he appears to have said, at a lecture in Oxford in 1883, is the altogether more prosaic: “there was no such thing as bad weather, but only different kinds of pleasant weather.” The longer quotation was the work of Ruskin’s contemporary and fellow polymath, John Lubbock, in a series of lectures collected as The Use of Life¹.

We often hear of bad weather, but in reality, no weather is bad. It is all delightful, though in different ways. Some weather may be bad for farmers or crops, but for man all kinds are good.

He said, before listing the various wrongly attributed weather observations. As Kyle would say, “I learned something today.”

Lately I’ve also learnt a little more about galivanting Vienna Ditto, not least that at least one of them is known to mess about in boats.

Vienna Ditto :: Snowbound

As we all know, snow is formed of six-sided or six-pointed flakes and no two are ever the same. It is also true that Formes are from the current musical heartland of the UK, Leeds, and comprise a variable lineup based around brothers Steve and Jordan McNamara. More importantly they make a lovely noise.

Formes :: Inside I’ve Flown

For Leeds in the UK read Brooklyn in the US; I continue to amazed by the sheer breadth and quality of music currently emanating from the New York borough. The latest sound to catch my ear comes from Quiz Kids whose debut on the excellent February Records label is a three-track single with EP styling, Dynamite!

Quiz Kids :: Too Much for Me to Shoulder

And finally something from an LP, Generation Club, that’s been knocking around the ’Pod for a while now, bringing a lush warmth to many a cold day, as befits a band from from Austin, Texas.

Love Inks :: Time

Audio MP3

There was a time when many a post on this blog ended with a pithy summary from Merseyside’s finest. This may not be pithy, nor particularly summery, but, as Nigel says:

Opinionated weather forecasters telling me it’s going to be a miserable day. Miserable to who? I quite like a bit of drizzle, so stick to the facts.

Half Man Half Biscuit :: A Country Practice

Audio MP3


Photo: Seven; some rights reserved
¹ There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong gear

Twitter: The Just Joans; Vienna Ditto; Formes; February Records; Love Inks.

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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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