Archive for the ‘Young Marble Giants’ Category


In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

I’ve been aware of the Young Marble Giants forever, and yet I apparently knew nothing about them.  Like that they only put out one album (how are the so influential?) or that they were from Wales.

Young Marble Giants were a trio: Philip Moxham on bass, Stuart Moxham on guitar and organ, Alison Statton on vocals.  Yup no drums.

The songs on the record are short and seem to focus around the basslines primarily.  It’s really quite an unusual presentation–quite lo-fi and very engaging.

This song (the 12th of 15 on the album) is 2 minutes long.  It features a simple guitar riff, with a some extra detailed notes sprinkled at the end of the main riff.  Then comes a four note bass riff, with a little hammer on at the end of the riff.  After a minute, Alison quietly sings along with the melody:

Think of salad days
They were folly and fun
They were good, they were young

She sings for 15 seconds and then it’s all music until the end.  The bass drops out with 30 seconds left and the guitar plays that same melody with a few picked notes to the end.

It’s simple and delightful.  And as the start of a mix tape, it speaks volumes.

[READ: January 21, 2021] “Find and Replace” 

This story is written as a true story.  But there are plenty of little comments in the story that show how easy it is to change something in a story–maybe make it untrue?

The narrator, Ann, says her father died in hospice on Christmas Day–the day that she had left the country.  Her family was not the kind who communicated every day.

Her mother was not demanding.  She was a friendly person and had a million friends (she still wrote cards to a maid who cleaned their hotel room fifteen years ago).

Ann flew to Florida, rented a car and drove to her mother’s house.  Her mother showed her letters that she hoped Ann would help her make decisions about.  The last one was from a neighbor named Drake who asked her to move in with him.

Ann assumed it was a joke.  Then assumed her mother would laugh it off.  But indeed, she had said yes.  They might even move to Tucson. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The Believer July/August 2009 Music Issue Compilation CD: “Fantastic and Spectacular” (2009).

After the globe-spanning CD in last year’s issue, the 2009 Believer CD returns to the dominant musical style of the first few.  This disc is a collection of unreleased, acoustic songs from the editors’ favorite singer-songwriters.

And, wow, check out the bands that are represented here: Sam Phillips, The Clean, The Waterboys, Lloyd Cole, Young Marble Giants, The English Beat, Lisa Germano, Unrest, Suddenly, Tammy!, The Lilac Time and Mary Margaret O’Hara.  It’s an amazing collection of artists who agreed to release these songs only to this Believer compilation.

The liner notes ask a few questions of each artist so you get a nice peek into their working styles.  And for a few of them you find out what they’ve been up to for the last few years.  Although, sadly Mary Margaret O’Hara (sister of actress Catherine O’Hara!) only mentions that you can get a copy of her only released album Miss America directly from her.  And since I thin it’s a great album, I’ll pass along her email for ordering purposes only: m2oh8 @ hotmail.com.

So, what do we get in this collection?  Sam Phillips provides a fantastic drum-heavy, 90 second song.  Robert Scott’s song is a delightful, simple acoustic track.  I’ve always liked The Waterboys, but Mike Scott tends to go on and on, and this track is no exception.  It’s very very catchy but it’s over 10  minutes long!  The consistently excellent Lloyd Cole doesn’t disappoint.  Phil Wilson’s poppy number is very good.

I’m surprised that I don’t have any Young Marble Giants in my collection, and Stuart Moxham’s song here makes me want to see what I’m missing.  I swore that Dave Wakeling of The English Beat was Bob Mould on this song, but as soon as I saw who he was I recognized that English Beat voice in a more intimate setting.

Mark Robinson of Unrest also records as Cotton Candy, and this absurdly poppy ditty (the only duet on the disc) provides the title of the disc and one of the truly happiest moments. Except, of course, for Beth Sorrentino from Suddenly, Tammy! whose song “Such a Beautiful Day” is absolutely wonderful.  And if it is any indication of the greatness of Suddenly , Tammy!  then their absence from the msuicial scene is a real shame.

Stephen Duffy who records as Tin Tin and The Lilac Time writes songs that are instantly memorable and catchy as anything.  This one is no exception. And the Mary Margaret O’Hara song is not quite as out there as you might expect from her, but it’s really quite good.  I wonder what she has been up to for decades now.

There’s a secret bonus track from a brand new New Zealand band called Haunted Love.  When this issue went to print they were about to release their first EP, and this track doesn’t even appear on that (it’s THAT secret!).  It’s a great song and I hope good things come to them.  It is also not acoustic, but everyone can break their own rules once in a while right?

This is another string compilation from The Believer.  The track listing is here.

[READ: December 16, 2009] “Diary of an Interesting Year”

So this story is, indeed, a diary.  It is written in several entrees.  And, as we learn from the first entry, the diary itself was a gift to the writer from G. for her 30th birthday.  And, although we don’t learn it from the first entry, we quickly discover that global warming predictions were accurate and, basically the earth as we know it is no more.

But what I liked about the writing was that it revealed this global catastrophe somewhat subtly.


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