Thursday, 29 March 2007

10 Reasons To Love 1 Song- Ep A

The 'Ten Reasons To Love One Song' Series.

Episode A- 'The Butcher' by Matt Pond PA

1) The rumbling sweep at the beginning to let you know something is going down.
2) The introduction before the vocals, each furious jab of the cello paradoxically drawing the listener closer.
3) The way the strings stalk the start of each verse to sketch out the melody.
4) The duh-dunk of the bass, the bassline itself providing absolutely no more than required amongst the melody lines.
5) The foilage that the drums hide behind for the opening forty seconds, only to spring out as the strings retreat to drive the rest of the song with a metronomically passionate 1-2-1-1-2 beat on the bass drum, snare and a smidgeon of cymbals.
6) That steady, dead basic guitar chord progression strummed up and down, up and down, up and down throughout the whole song. Some things constantly change, some things stay the same.
7) The completely unflashy yet melodically essential guitar bits in the middle and near the end.
8) The fact that the song doesn't even have definable verse, chorus and middle parts, just repeated sections. I mean, there's no repeated vocal hook in the second section (what you would think is the chorus), just the musical equivalent of a Moebius strip.
9) The delicate urgency in the singer's voice, tugging the string of words along the spine of the instruments. It succeeds even without knowledge of the English language, his phrasing leaving you breathless at the end of almost every line.
10) The oblique story contained within these words, something about a butcher and a lover and intrigue that I cannot fathom even after at least a hundred listens. Can you?

Episode A [the full 4:15 version, the first upload I put up cuts off after a minute!]
Official Site
Quick UK link to buy the excellent album where this song resides.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Sufjan Stevens - Free Man In Paris

Ah yes, we’ve arrived at Sufjan already. As much of a clichĂ© as it is to blog about the much hyped American wonderkid, it’s easy to forget he’s such an exceptionally talented artist with possibly the most glorious ear for melody currently producing material on a regular basis.

Producing material is something he does a lot. A hell of a lot. Seven albums (one of them spanning five discs) in the last few years, and you have something of a prolific writer on your hands. He had 63 officially released songs in 2006 to be exact. But - get this - every single album is good, usually better than the last. Remarkable.

But then, you read blogs; you already know this no doubt… so I’ll leave the introduction to Sufjan at that…

The reason for this torrent of praise? Sufjan covering the legendary Joni Mitchell, one of “the greatest songwriters ever” (Rolling Stone, 2002). "It has to be worth a listen" I thought when I stumbled across it to download. Oh my, it was indeed.

In typical Sujfan tradition he’s entirely fucked the song up, twisting and beating it into a pulp of its former self only to leave it bloody and bruised and more beautiful than ever.

Without further ado, I present to you, Sufjan Stevens - Free Man In Paris:

Sufjan Stevens - Free Man In Paris (Joni Mitchell)

While I’m at it I may as well upload his other two rare covers of note - What Goes On (The Beatles) and The One I Love (R.E.M.) - The Beatles cover is a personal favourite, and ranks high amongst even the choice cuts from Stevens own arsenal.

Sufjan Stevens - What Goes On (The Beatles)
Sufjan Stevens - The One I Love (R.E.M.)

You can check out Sufjan or Joni on the following links...

Simon x

Monday, 26 March 2007

Superhero Songwriters..

The nation is awash with mediocrity. Take note; Pillaging decades of passionate, influential and inspired singer-songwriters and clogging our senses with dull, unimaginative Fuckwit Blunt (yes that scapegoat) and his pals is going to cause a backlash when the nation realises we're knee-deep in their pseudo heartfelt nonsense and when the majority actually don't understand why some absolute tit is singing about his new shoes. Nutini: Is Shite the t-shirts will say. We'll celebrate all that is pure, honest, challenging. We'll shove their nylon strings where... Well ok, you get the point of this rant. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of another myspace friend whore adding me with 'their new tunes.' only to find DIRGE. That's the word for it, nothing more, nothing less. Yes ok, myspace isn't exactly the forefront of talent in this country but it's giving a voice to people who think they are and they're knocking on my inbox. Yes, I know I can turn band friend requests off but quite frankly the day Beyoncé added me as her 'friend' was the sexiest day of my life to date.

My pretentious 'snobbery' and internet social life aside, it's rare in this day that I find a solo artist to connect with. Someone who sounds, feels and has the ticket to the fairground extravaganza that is myself and my emotions. In two weeks I found two and they're both from Scotland and they're both wildly different but parallel each other quite nicely.

The first of these discoveries was found rather excitingly the through the radiowaves, a rarity these days for lots of music lovers around the country. His name is Malcolm Middleton and yes he's been around a fair while and yes he's the half of Arab Strap that doesn't drunkly commit himself to tape for all and sunder to dissect. I say that, but in fact he has a vocal style not dissimilar to Aidan Moffat, that thick Scottish drawl shines through but with a quicker pace and cynicism replacing the downright angst but the musical similarities to his previous project stop here.
His third solo album 'A Brighter Beat' has recently been released and it is downright angry & bitter. I pity his heart for it seems a sad thing, I pity those who connect with it but quite frankly you can't help it. Everyone's been there. That romance thing. It's a bugger and he's expressed it wonderfully. Song titles such as 'Death Love Depression Love Death' and 'Fuck It, I Love You' barely scratch at the door, but give an idea of the tone of this album. Don't be fooled, this is an enjoyable and beautiful document; tender but raw. Well worth a few moments of your day.

A Brighter Beat
Up Late At Night Again

More info:
Buy 'A Brighter Beat'
Official Website
Myspace (With more tracks)

My second saviour is Emma Pollock, of defunct Scottish cult heroes The Delgados. Always having a beautiful voice, she's now pursuing a solo career and it's producing fabulous results. With a busy gigging schedule, the adding of a backing band and recent appearances at SXSW in Texas, things are looking up and moving forward for her. I recently experienced her live and she captivated the room immediately both through her songs and her obvious charm and bashful nature. There isn't much publicaly available (if at all) that's recorded but a debut album is planned for 2007. The two songs for download here and different in many respects, one is a haunting and natural folk lullaby that gnaws at you and the second is almost jaunty in it's own piano led way (lyrics are supplied on the second track by author Louise Walsh who collaborated with Pollock on the recent Ballads of The Book Compilation). I'll leave you to fall in love with her at your own pace.

Jesus On The Cross

More info:
Official Website
Myspace (With more tracks)


Thursday, 22 March 2007

This Dance Is Difficult

Sorry for the static, I forgot how to sleep and spent the last week staring comatosely at the screen.

We've had a bit of a sausage fest so far. Time for-


I first heard Mirah on a homemade mix CD and I haven't heard anything like it. It's music full of contradictions- sparse but with lots of subtle touches, melodically simple yet concealing looping riffs that stay with you and- most of all- more sensual than a skipful of sodden FHMs.

I think my favourite album of hers is
You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This so I'm putting three songs here for your consumption.

Much, MUCH longer (and frequent) posts coming soon.


Mirah- Sweepstakes Prize (best introduction, probably)
Mirah- La Familia (Guy Sigsworth Remix- the other half of Frou Frou) FIXED LINK DO ME A FAVORE
Mirah- Murphy Bed (if the seat you are sitting in is not moist after listening to this, see a doctor)

Mirah on K Records (best place to get her CDs in Britain is probably Amazon Marketplace)


Monday, 12 March 2007

Moving pictures with sounds..

The greatest actors could portray the perfect screenplay and plot, the cinematography could be beautiful and the director might capture the moment and be hailed a genius by everyone he/she has ever worked with. Yet you feel empty, an ingredient is missing, something which takes it to a higher level. Yes.. that's it.. where is the music? Where is the tension and romance? The horror and beauty? Music at the closing credits can change the whole mood or music can be a thread that strings every scene throughout the piece.
A movie is nothing without a good soundtrack, in my personal opinion. Outwith the terrible teen movies which merely cash-in on their musical output, a film can become something so very special based on songs or score which surrounds it.
A lot of of films are of course scored and arranged using various orchaestras from around the world but there are many occasions an established artist not only provides a song but composes an entire collection of songs to accompany the story.
Examples of this can be found both decades ago and in the present day.

In 1971 Cat Stevens collected an entire album of songs (including two specifically written for the film) to partner Hal Ashby's classic cult movie 'Harold and Maude'.

Stevens' songs were the backbone to the story, proved by generations of new fans being introduced to and loving his music, long after he was popular owing to the gradual rise in the popularity of the comedy. The lovliest song from this movie is 'If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out'.. a wonderful acoustic piece, leaving you with a warm feeling and general optimism, which parallels the film beautifully.

Listen; Cat Stevens - If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out

Now if there was ever a soundtrack or film that could contrast Harold and Maude so vividly it would be 2005's Austrailian Western masterpiece, 'The Proposition'. The film was written by the desolate Nick Cave and he composed a sound to match with his partner in crime Warren Ellis.

A sparse composition of ambient and tense material, this not only pins the whole movie together but just listening later to the OST CD recalls the film inside your head, leaving you as un-easy and un-nerved as you were when you left your seat at the cinema. The track 'Gun Thing' sums up the sound the pair were aiming for and which they pulled off magnificently. Melancholy strings paired with Cave's low mumbling and groaning... "I'm gonna go out.. and get myself a gun." isn't the cheeriest thing you'll ever listen to, but it'll make you think and want to see this movie which is just as scattered and on edge.

Listen; Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - Gun Thing

Moving away from whole pieces written for a movie but keeping in touch with the theme of connecting scenes with a single sound we approach Baz Luhrmann's award winning adaptation of 'William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet'.

The song in question here is Nellee Hooper's glorious re-mix of classic Radiohead B-side 'Talk Show Host'. It appears throughout the movie, introduced by the haunting guitar line and Thom Yorke's ever disturbing vocals. This is one of the things I remember most from the film (which for me is otherwise a little cheesy), for days I wondered what this was.. what was stuck in my head? I didn't recognise it, not having delved into Radiohead previously. The song managed pop back into my consciousness, suitably, as a b-side to the moody Street Spirit single which I picked up second hand. I much prefer the mix on the soundtrack however and it's here for you to download and devour and become depressed over.

Listen; Radiohead - Talk Show Host (Nellee Hooper Mix)

And so we come the end of this little jaunt through the world of movies and sound with a song which lies outwith the rough theme that has followed here. But this song, a cover, fits the film so perfectly and is so beautiful that it has to be heard and explained. The song twins with one of my favourite films of all time, 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind'.

Michel Gondry's chaotic film is one of the most heartbreaking yet pleasing cinema experiences I've ever had and I could write for an hour about just how much it gets to me, but to spare you this I'll provide you with Beck's astounding cover of The Korgis' classic 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes'. It is actually a collaboration with Jon Brion, the films composer (and a sterling job he does too) but it's Beck's subtle vocals that does the trick here. The song sums up the whole script, the films images and feelings so wonderfully. I hope you enjoy!

Listen; Beck - Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes (The Korgis Cover)

Friday, 9 March 2007

I Know It's Not Quite The Custom In This Country...

This week, ladies and gentleman, I give you-


Frightened Rabbit are a bassless trio [Soon, I'm going to show you a band with TWO bassists (!!), so I'll fulfill the bottom end in time] with the best debut album I've heard in years. Their main trade is creating wonderful pop songs with a surprising amount of instrumental depth and some stunning lyrics to chew over.

It's really difficult to pick out an album highlight, because it's consistently amazing and the flow 'is like woah' [(c) me], including awesome wee interludes. So I've picked two from it, one to highlight the uptempo triumphant indie-rock and one to reflect their folkier side.

I had never even heard the name when I stumbled into about the only regular gig venue in Edinburgh, Cabaret Voltaire, for one of their free gigs last year. I had intended to see Beerjacket, but he was literally packing up as I made my way down! He said 'Stick around for the next band'. I did, and my jaw hit the fucking floor. I hope these MP3s do the same. You can stream the album on their site and there's goodies on their Myspace too.

P.S. I put in a sexy bonus new song because I'm nice like that.


Frightened Rabbit- Music Now!
Frightened Rabbit- Behave!
Frightened Rabbit- The Twist
FR's Myspace (touring the US now, playing a Glasgow date in mid-April)
FR's own site (bands, make sure you do this! Myspace is buggy as fuck.)

P.P.S. The title of this post is a lyric from their utterly phenomenal Go-Go Girls. It's also on the album.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Union Of Knives - Taste For Harmony

Not often, but just sometimes, the best way to summarise a band is by quoting their own press releases, as lazy as it may seem... i present to you, Union Of Knives...

The music of Union of Knives is a meld of analogue riffs, beautiful voices and guitar abstractions over a dirty backbeat of programmed drums. It was designed to hypnotise and offer a true ode to life in all its dark beauty.

What this translates to (in case you couldnt already guess) is wonderful glorious music.

Their debut album Violence And Birdsong was released last autumn to critical acclaim, and they have an ever expanding fanbase it seems. Still small, yes - but not for all too long i'd guess.

For now however, Union Of Knives remain one of the best kept musical secrets in Scotland.

The aforementioned album Violence And Birdsong is out now in most good record shops. You can also order online here.

You can also find out more album Union Of Knives on their official website, at

Simon x

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

To download a couple of sample tracks from the stunning debut album, just follow the links below:

Union Of Knives - Evil Has Never (Highly Recommended!)
Union Of Knives - Lick Black Gold

Tuesday, 6 March 2007


Snowden are a four-piece American indie rock band from Atlanta, Georgia.
Starting off as the bedroom dreamings of front man Jordan Jeffares the band have expanded into a bright and dynamic collective, with a pounding, upbeat rhthym section and dischordant guitars. They quickly grew in stature supporting the likes of Arcade Fire across the pond.
Clear influences are to be taken from both Interpol and The Dismemberment Plan but enough infectious originality shines through on their debut album 'Anti-Anti' which takes them a notch above the seemingly endless wave of noisy new bands travelling over the Atlantic. There is both a sense of melancholy and eager dancefloor bombast throughout leaving you quite at odds with yourself by the time the disc has stopped spinning. In fact this is one of the most impressive debuts I've heard from a band in quite a while, owing possibly to the fact the songs have been worked on for a number of years before being fully realised in a band setting. The songs had already found their feet and they're waiting for you right now to discover.

The fantastic light show that makes up the 'Anti-Anti' video, from the album of the same name..

Track six from the album.. (right click & save as)
Between The Rent and Me

More tracks and information available at..

Johnny x

Saturday, 3 March 2007

The Dismemberment Plan Play Again!

Hi, I'm Ed, the magical third contributor of Radio Protector. The first guy who posted was Johnny. We are going to subject our tastes on the blog nation and make it easier for people who use a machine of hype [WINK WINK] to find good songs.

My first post is dedicated to one of my favourite, favourite bands. The Dismemberment Plan are reuniting for a fundraising gig (now two) for Calum Robbins, son of amazing producer J. Robbins. He is suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy and the medical bills are understandably obscene. I'm pretty excited this could lead to further dates and I'm going to demonstrate here why anyone who hasn't heard of them should be too.

Though their output was fairly small- four studio albums in all- the last two would be permanent fixtures on my Top Albums Ever list. I first got into The Dismemberment Plan through browsing Epitonic looking for Death Cab For Cutie songs. I downloaded The City first, it didn't strike me immediately. Then I downloaded You Are Invited and everything changed. It's basically a perfect pop song, with a second chorus so awesome I literally fell out of my seat when I heard it.I purchased Emergency & I (the album that spawned both ditties) pretty much immediately.

The sound they perfected on this album is quite difficult to describe. I have settled on saying it's as if the rhythm section of a funk band joined up with the guitars and vocals from an indie-rock band and threw some skronky synths on top. The thing that keeps everything together is their innate pop sensibility; a catchy riff, a clever lyric or an absolutely triumphant singalong section.

Their final album- Change- delved into more introspective and experimental territory, producing some moments of sheer beauty. It's not as immediate as E&I but once it gets some listening time, it hangs together to produce a thoroughly cohesive experience. Two songs from it are at the bottom of this post.

The D-Plan went their separate ways shortly after touring Change, and their live show is a pretty major factor in why I want to see them reform properly. They never toured Britain (to the best of my knowledge), mostly because no-one in Britain had ever heard of them at the time. I was pretty delighted when I found a whole bunch of legal free live recordings, the stage banter is awesome! There's a few clips on Youtube too.

I think the rest of the world are gradually catching up on this amazing band. I can hear (the now sadly split) Clor, the Dudley Corporation and Dartz! as some of the first British bands filtering it through their music. Jump on now before every trendy fucker namedrops them.


The Dismemberment Plan- The City [Right-click]
The Dismemberment Plan- You Are Invited [A+++++++ RECOMMENDATION]
The Dismemberment Plan- The Face Of The Earth [right-click]
The Dismemberment Plan- Pay For The Piano [pretty topical, I think!]

D-Plan obsessives, please email radioprotectorblog[AT]googlemail[DOT]com and I'll sob about not being able to buy plane tickets to D.C.