Wednesday, 20 February 2008

No Depression 1995-2008

Earlier in the week I read the sad news that bible No Depression is joining Porter Wagoner on the front porch in the sky. The May-June edition will be their last - meaning I'll read my final copy exactly nine years after I bought my first.

Although the magazine's readership is pretty strong for a niche mag, the downturn in the record industry means that No Depression isn't getting the advertising revenue it needs to survive. Publishers Grant Alden, Peter Blackstock and Kyla Fairchild explain further in this letter on the No Depression website.

For fans of steel guitars and men who own entire wardrobes of plaid shirts No Depression was gold - an old-school magazine that always felt like a labour of love for its creators to which its readers responded with equal passion.

I've discovered dozens of bands through its pages and the magazine's always been a welcome signpost, not just to the USA's more interesting musical corners, but other odd bits of Americana too. That first issue I read contained an article on an intriguing documentary called Hands On A Hard Body about a 'touch the truck' contest in Texas. I found a VHS copy of the film a while later and it's become one of my favourite docs of all time. The trailer doesn't do the film justice, but it certainly gives a flavour:

I'd been planning for a while to make a regular blog feature of bands I'd never heard of but that I'd read about in each new issue of No Depression. Maybe I'll start ploughing through my back issues.


MP3: Uncle Tupelo - No Depression


The Best of No Depression (book)

Uncle Tupelo 1989-1993: An Anthology

Related Links

No Depression

NPR: Interview with ND founders Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock

Billy Bragg & KT Tunstall

HMV Oxford Street, Monday 18 February

Monday's lunch hour was one of the strangest I've experienced in recent memory. I went to HMV expecting to see Billy Bragg perform a few tracks from his hearteningly well-reviewed new album Mr Love & Justice. Instead I saw Bragg and KT Tunstall tear through eight under-rehearsed cover versions that took in Cliff Ricahrd and The Human League.

The reason behind this enjoyable shambles was HMV and Q Magazine's daft poll to find
the top 50 Best Ever British Albums. Billy and KT were asked to play songs from each decade since 1958. This was the set list:

  • Cliff Richard – Move It
  • The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
  • David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust [KT Tunstall solo]
  • Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) [Billy Bragg solo]
  • Morrissey – Every Day Is Like Sunday
  • The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work
  • Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot
  • The Human League – Don’t You Want Me?

The Drugs Don't Work was about the only song that sounded vaguely in tune but all were fun to watch. The piece de resistance was the Human League finale. The clips below, diligently filmed on the phones of lunchtime shoppers, give some impression of the event.

The Drugs Don't Work

I Predict A Riot

Don't You Want Me?

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Scarlett Sings Waits

On Tuesday Scarlett Johansson let journalists in New York hear her long-awaited debut album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, which mainly consists of Tom Waits covers. A Hollywood actress recording a Waits tribute was always going to be intriguing, but the project has taken another strange turn. According to Billboard, David Bowie sings on two tracks.

When I read about this project a year or so ago I wondered which songs Scarlett would pick and now I've seen the final tracklist I'm pretty impressed.

  • Fawn
  • Town With No Cheer
  • Falling Down
  • Anywhere I Lay My Head
  • Fannin' Street
  • Song for Jo (the only original, non-TW song)
  • Green Grass
  • I Wish I Was in New Orleans
  • I Don't Want To Grow Up
  • No One Knows I'm Gone
  • Who Are You?

Who Are You? and Falling Down are two of my favourite Waits songs and Town With No Cheer is a melancholy slice of Swordfishtrombones. We'll find out how Scarlett delivers her version when the album's released in May. I've only heard her sing once before - a version of Summertime from an album called Unexpected Dreams: Songs From The Stars. If you want to hear Jeremy Irons or Ewan McGregor you'll have to buy the album, but you can download Scarlett's effort below.

Tom Waits covers are nothing new. My hatred of Rod Stewart has a lot to do with his horrible version of Downtown Train. Leave a comment if you'd like me to post MP3 of some my favourite Waits covers. And also share your thoughts on whether you think Johansson's album will be any good. It can't be any worse than Rod.

MP3: Summertime - Scarlett Johansson
MP3: Who Are You? - Tom Waits
MP3: Falling Down - Tom Waits

Related Posts with Thumbnails



Back to TOP

Glamour Bomb Templates