Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mojo Helper

I always wished that I could read my favorite music magazine with an accompanying CD that would contain the music that I'm reading about. Fortunately these days most magazines do come with a CD, but the music still doesn't always match the articles. There's a very good issue of Mojo (#172, March 2008) that ranks the top 50 UK Indie records of all time. It comes with a great CD compilation of indie singles. Still, there are some bands or songs on that ranking that I'd never heard about and that don't figure on the compilation. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to discover most of them, and here I'll share a few of those with you.

The first one should please Mme Easy, our little punkette! The Swell Maps were Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden, who went on to have separate careers in other bands or in solo. A minute and a half of rhythm and chaos:

At the other end of the indie spectrum, here's a very poppy song by Camera Obscura, an answer to Lloyd Cole's "Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?". They kind of remind me of Belle & Sebastian, which makes sense when you find out that they also hail from Scotland. Melody seems to run in Scottish genes.

Speaking of Scotland, here's a band that I wish I'd known a long time ago: Josef K is a great new wave band from the Postcard label (known mostly for Orange Juice, the band featuring Edwyn Collins). Listen to this, and you'll find the most obvious influence of Franz-Ferdinand.

Here's a freebie because I like you (even if "you" may refer to the empty set in the case of this blog's somewhat sparse audience): get to see an actual video of Josef K, with perhaps an even better song.

I might make a sequel of this if I get any positive feedback.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gondry A Go-Go

Let's have a show in honor of Michel Gondry, known as the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Science of Sleep, but even more so as the director of some wonderful music videos. But did you know that Gondry himself used to be in a pop band? The band is Oui-Oui (that's Noddy in French), and of course he directed their videos in his inimitable style:

Now here's a great video he made for little-known French pop singer, Jean-Francois Coen. The video plays with the song lyrics and is full of fun little jokes (that is, if you know French). I didn't know that the song was a cover though, thanks YouTube comments!

His best work has got to be his White Stripes lego video for Fell in Love with a Girl. Even though it won't qualify as "obscure", I'll include it here, cause it's just such a fun one (and I love Lego).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bacalhau A Braz!

(the first person that finds the meaning of the title and puts it in the comments section earns a request for the next show)
Dr Easy takes his role of explorer of obscure music so seriously, that today's show comes as a result of his in-person investigation into the hearts of Portugal! Here's a shout-out to Luis from Rocknet Records, his excellent record store in the rocking area of Barro Alto in Lisbon. Luis recommended the bands below, and after checking out some of the songs on YouTube, I can only agree:

Portugal is famous for its saaaad fado. Instead of being cliche and throwing an old Amalia Rodriguez out there, I'm gonna go with the band that made me discover the genre in the mid 90s (well, they were around earlier, but I digress):

It's enchanting, I'm enchanted. I'm going back there when I can.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Some Velvet Morning

For today's show, a selection of late 80s - early 90s bands who were influenced by the Velvet Underground. This is mostly an excuse to discover or rediscover some interesting videos and great songs; you're not going to find the clearest examples of Velvet influences in the choice of songs.

To begin with, everybody's idea of the underrated band by excellence: the Go-Betweens. Here's a video I hadn't seen at the time, and which is positively ridiculous and kind of disturbing. No wonder they never achieved fame - they just didn't take themselves very seriously.

Galaxie 500 was a fantastic but unfortunately short-lived band who probably invented the "slowcore" style. Here's a live version of Strange, my favorite Galaxie 500 song.

Dean Wareham's autobiography is a great read. Oh, and a note to Mr Bad: the song above is dead easy: G, D, Am. Let's try it some time.

Let's finish with Mazzy Star. This one is truly haunting, so I picked an audio-only one so you concentrate instead of getting distracted ogling Hope Sandoval:

What happened to the above bands? Well, the Go-Betweens re-formed in the early 2000's for three more albums (without reaching the heights of 16 Lover's Lane, their best album), but Grant McLennan sadly passed away suddenly in 2006. As for Galaxie 500, Dean Wareham the singer went on to form Luna, met his current wife Britta Phillips there, and is now channelling Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot in his recently formed duo with Britta. His autobiography is an excellent read. As for Damon and Naomi, they're still touring (they're regulars at the Terrascope festival). I had the chance to see them in concert and have a brief chat with them, they're great people. Finally, Mazzy Star went on a long hiatus after three albums, but Hope Sandoval has just released a second album with her Warm Inventions.

If you liked any of the above songs, just click on the videos and surf YouTube from there! In particular, there's some pretty rare Go-Betweens vidoes out there, as well as some great live footage of Mazzy Star and Opal (Dave's Roback band prior to Mazzy Star).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Italo Disco

Remember: you were a teenager, you always had your walkman on (maybe the Toshiba model that had an FM/AM radio that you could swap in and out like any other tape), you had a Ferrari Testarossa poster on your wall. The year? 1984, maybe 1985? Now you look back and think of the great music they used to play on the radio: The Cure, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen. Well, wrong you are! What you really used to listen to was... Italian Disco!

Well, there's not much that can be salvaged from that style. It sounds horribly dated, and it was probably horrible then too, except kids didn't know any better (nothing has changed since, I'm afraid). The songs were catchy and the synthesizers were just so cool. Who cared about the lyrics, or the fact that all the songs were built the same way? Still, here's a few that aren't all that bad. Yeah, c'mon, admit it: you're gonna enjoy it and you're still gonna vote "lame" in that little box at the bottom of this post. It's ok.

Live is Life was a huge hit in around 1985. There were actually two different versions getting airplay at around the same time: one by Opus, and the other one by Stargo, and both charted (the same thing happened to Self Control: both versions, by Laura Branigan and by Raf, became big hits in 1984). For whatever reason, I hate the Opus version, and I looove the Stargo version. It has some kind of poignancy (yep). We used to all sing it aloud while playing cards after lunch at school.

Really? She's lip-syncing? No way!

Here's another one that still sounds ok: the video is awesome, with P. Lion playing the synth superimposed on pictures of children.

I'm saving the best for last. Valerie Dore wouldn't have looked out of place on a label like 4AD. It's like Lush before its time (just wait till you hear that lovely chorus), but replace the guitars with synths. Plus, she has freaky eyes:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Psych! Folk! Revival!

This show was inspired by some discussion on a forum after the recent death of Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. Someone claimed that folk music died in the mid-60's when Dylan went electric. I don't pretend to have a good definition for folk music, but it seems to me that folk music is alive and well, thank you very much! In fact there's whole new wave of young musicians who are experimenting with folk music in very personal and inventive ways. Let's see a sample:

There must be something in the water in Nevada City, California! Here's two artists from that city:

I was lucky to see Mariee Sioux in concert last summer. She played in an open air concert in the middle of a park, surrounded with trees and moths. A magical evening for sure.

Here's a couple of bigger names from the new psych folk scene, starting with Devendra Banhart, whom I like to compare to a young Marc Bolan, from his Tyrannosaurus Rex period.

Here's one that requires some open-mindedness: Joanna Newsom, with her harp and her unusual vocals...

This show wouldn't be complete without a mention of the godmother of this movement, the one who inspired many of these new artists: Vashti Bunyan, who has made a successful comeback recently. She hasn't lost her touch, as you can see in this video. Pure bliss.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reminiscing the Pretty in Pink Era

Just watched Pretty in Pink, the excellent John Hughes movie, and it made me want to revisit that era. I wish I'd seen that movie at the time, as I would have completely related to the teenage angst, the class struggle aspects, and especially the sitting alone and listening to the Smiths and feeling miserable parts. We're talking about 1985-1986, that is the end of the new wave, cold wave, post-punk era. Most of those kind of bands (except the Cure and U2, of course) had reached their expiry date by then, but some of them were lucky enough to have one good last gasp in them, and that's what I'm going to share with you now! There's some nice videos on YouTube that I hadn't seen at the time.

Let's start with the Psychedelic Furs then. Even though Pretty in Pink the movie was released in 1986, the eponymous single dates all the way back to 1981, so it would be cheating to post it here today, and besides, you, i.e., the knowledgeable EasyTV fan and musicologist, already know that song all too well! Instead, let's check out their very good single from 1984, Heaven, from their Mirror Moves album:

Another band that by 1985 had been around for a long time, with various line-up changes, is Ultravox. Here's their single from around that time, with a video guaranteed to give you a chill:

(the above single in from 1984, I think. There will be many more shows about the year 1984, as it was a pretty pivotal year for me, personally and musically speaking)

For whatever reason, critics usually don't like Killing Joke. But here's a single from 1985 that really turned me on to the whole scene (yep, I was too young to know that stuff before then!): (embedding the original video was disabled, so here's a live version instead)

Alright, that's it for today! Whether you loved or hated the show, please leave your comments, or at least take the little vote that I've added at the bottom of each post! 'later!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tea Time for J-Yo!

Today's show is for J-Yo! Here's some reggae riddim that'll go well with your new tea and cookie recipes!

Let's start with a couple of songs that I discovered thanks to Mojo's excellent Trojan Explosion compilation. Here they are, in full vinyl glory:

John Holt's voice reminded me of Horace Andy, a guy I discovered (very late!) thanks to his vocal contributions to Massive Attack's fantastic Mezzanine album. Here's one of his old songs:


Friday, September 4, 2009


Today's show is brought to you by Mme Easy. I was looking for some punk bands that weren't necessarily the ones the critics liked (you know who I mean: the Buzzcocks, the Clash etc.) but the ones the average punk dude liked to slam dance to. It turns out Mme Easy was one such average punk dudette! Here's a selection she made:

Here's what she had to say about the Exploited: "WHAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH"

Apparently the following song by the Subhumans formed Mme Easy's views on religion:

Alright, I actually like and approve of the following song:

Mme Easy kept trying to convince me that GBH has some awesome songs. We went through plenty of videos, and the songs all sounded the same to me. As I'm typing this, she is still looking for that elusive interesting song. But I think I'll just end the show here. See you later!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Krazy German Konzepts

German music sure was creative and bizarre in the 70s and 80s. First there was that Krautrock movement (subject for an upcoming EasyTV show!), and then all this futuristic fascination stuff took over. Let's kick-start today's show with my favorite Kraftwerk song:

But even more bizarre, we have the inimitable Klaus Nomi, with his crazy make-up and robotic moves. He was part of the New York scene that included artists such as Basquiat and Haring. It's also no surprise that David Bowie was intrigued by a guy like this:

Kitsch yet disturbing stuff, no? But speaking of mixing opera with craziness, here's Nina Hagen giving it a go.

I wouldn't want to leave you with a bad impression of Klaus Nomi, so I am adding here his fantastic Cold Song (apparently it's an old Purcell composition, but I don't know much about opera). Klaus had a genuinely amazing voice, and was at his best when concentrating on the opera side of his music instead of the kitsch pop stuff. Klaus Nomi was one of the first famous casualties of AIDS. RIP.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

I'm in the mood for duets today, and since I got a request (EasyTV's very first request: thanks, Mme Easy!) for some Lee Hazlewood, I'll start today's show with this very strange Hazlewood/Sinatra duet. It looks to me like a cross between Star Trek and some old Sergio Leone movie, very psychedelic!

People just had more guts in the 60s. I can't believe that at the end of the song he intertwines bits from his singing and hers, although they are on a completely different tempo! There's definitely much more to him than These Boots Are Made For Walking. I especially recommend all the videos from Hazlewood's Cowboy in Sweden TV feature. Oh, here's one, and who cares if it's not a duet?

(But there definitely is a train to Stockholm. How else did I get there from Uppsala or Tranas?) RIP, Lee.

Today's show is called Beauty and the Beast for a reason. I was digging for songs pairing some dirty old man with a young innocent girl. Here's, I guess, the furthest one can go with the concept: Serge Gainsbourg, the master of provocation, singing about incest with his own 13-year old daughter Charlotte.

But before you start sending me the outraged hate mail, note that the lyrics specifically say "the love we will never make is the purest and the most intoxicating", meaning he never intends to sleep with her. This is all about fatherly love, nothing else! Musically speaking, you may have recognized some Chopin in there, whose romantic melody only adds to the scandalous nature of the song.

In the next video, another man sings about killing a young woman to preserve her beauty forever. Unfortunately the official video is nowhere to be found on YouTube due to copyright restrictions, so a live Top of the Pops performance will have to do:

More murder ballads can be found on Nick Cave's aptly named Murder Ballads album!

Now after a song on incest and another one about murder, you might be tempted to say "I have seen it all!". Bjork and Thom Yorke do just that, on a song that can be found on Bjork's Selmasongs album. Although Selmasongs is the soundtrack of the heart-breaking Dancer in the Dark, you won't exactly hear this duet in the movie, as the Scandinavian actor does the singing instead. I wanted to find the movie excerpt featuring the song, but I didn't want to hear the actor (whose singing is pretty bad). Well, guess what, somebody on YouTube had the same idea and made an attempt at a solution. The result is obviously out of sync, but I give this a B for effort:

Any reactions? Ideas? Requests? Your comments are what will make me keep this up!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

No Comment

I bet you didn't know there was such a thing as francophone country music! Only in Quebec...

I'll leave the best title for the end. Back to that Cayouche dude:

Comment away!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

EasyTV's First Show!

Hi everyone, and welcome to EasyTV!

As Lou Reed would put it, this is the "beginning of a new adventure". I'll use blogs as a new medium for sharing my love of semi-obscure rock music. Who am I, and what qualifies me to do this? Well, I used to have a radio show on an independent radio station, then I made the transition to online radio (the now defunct Invisible Radio). Now I'm mostly just happy to browse YouTube in search of lost nuggets, and to send the nice finds to friends or to post them on, my favorite sports forum hangout (shoutouts to SteeleRed and Stampman!). But then I thought: "hey, why not combine the blog format with YouTube videos to make it a nice little sort of online tv show specialized in rock music from all decades?" This way, if you don't care about my commentary you can go straight to the videos, but if you want some context you can read whatever I may have to say. You're basically in control, isn't this better than being subjected to a podcast? So here you have it. Hope you'll like it. I'll keep it going for as long as I get encouraging comments!

Let's start it with a short one to see how it goes. In the mid 90's, a little American label called Elephant 6 started releasing albums from nice little psychedelic bands, some of which reached cult status on indie rock stations. Here's a little selection:

- Olivia Tremor Control was probably my favorite band from that label. I can definitely hear some Beatles influences amid the psychedelia. I would have loved to post a video of "Define a Transparent Dream", but couldn't find it. So here's another great song from "Dusk at the Cubist Castle":

- In an even more "garage" vein, here's Apple in Stereo. The frontman, Robert Schneider, was also a co-founder of the Elephant Six Collective. I was lucky to see them once in concert, but boy were they LOUD! Here's another heavily Beatles-influenced song (Oasis would agree!) from their "Her Wallpaper Reverie" album released in 1999:

- Last but not least, perhaps the most original band of the lot, Neutral Milk Hotel. They were quite a sensation on college radio stations and Pitchfork. In terms of influence, I'm reminded of Syd Barrett's solo efforts. There's indeed a bit of a crazy edge to this modern troubadour. The eponymous song from the album "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea" is pure genius.

Let me know what you want next. I'm thinking of some crazy German stuff from the early 80's, but stop me if you have a better idea!