Some interesting correspondence on the blog over the past week or so, not least on the subject of Brian Eno, after I posed a mildly provocative question about his recent work here.


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I suspect I’ve banged on about Howlin Rain so often now that my admiration for the band is reaching mildly stalkerish levels. Last night’s show at the Scala, though, was a big leap on from this one that I frothed over a few months ago.


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I suspect I’ve banged on about Howlin Rain so often now that my admiration for the band is reaching mildly stalkerish levels. Last night’s show at the Scala, though, was a big leap on from this one that I frothed over a few months ago.


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First, a couple of lyrics (and God knows, there are plenty to quote on the Hold Steady’s fourth album). From the opening song, “Constructive Summer”: “Let this be my annual reminder that we can all be something bigger.” From the last song, “Slapped Actress”, repeated by Craig Finn while the music swells and a rabble choir add “woah-oh”s: “Man, we make our own movies.”


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I couldn’t make it to Howlin Rain’s London show the other night, but my colleague Miles did, and came back impressed and bearing a very neat new CD that he bought at the gig. “Wild Life” has two tracks, lasts for about half an hour, and may provide some succour for Ethan Miller fans who’ve been unnerved by his transition from the flat-out psychedelic gloop of Comets On Fire to the sepia-tinted classic rock of the Rain.


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A busy and deeply professional couple of days listening to a backlog of CDs, MP3s, secure streams, dodgy downloads and so on, which involved us having another go at the Coldplay album. Apparently there's some sort of embargo on revealing opinions about "Viva La Vida". One question that occurred to me, however: when was the last time Brian Eno produced a really interesting album? I'm struggling to think of one here, but if you have any suggestions, let me know.


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Taking a well-earned break from the MP3s of new Oasis songs that seem to be whizzing around the Uncut and NME offices today, there are a couple of folkish new albums from British singers that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while.


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Among other, healthier spring activities, I spent a fair part of the Bank Holiday weekend introducing my three-year-old to The Beach Boys and Lightning Bolt and listening to “Superfuzz Bigmuff” – not on any particular grunge nostalgia binge, but because it has just been subjected to the extensive, deluxe, collector’s edition reissue treatment.


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I was just Googling the line-up of All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2001, curated by Mogwai (whose still-exhilarating debut album, in deluxe reissue format, was playing five minutes ago). Looking back, I must have been in hog heaven: Godspeed You Black Emperor, Stereolab, Super Furry Animals, Labradford, Ligament, Shellac, Papa M, The For Carnation, the great and good of post-rock and, notoriously, Sonic Youth.


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The Courteeners are not, as regular readers could probably guess, the sort of band I like much, and I generally try not to let the existence of groups like them bug me. Occasionally, though, I’ll become passingly outraged by something – like, say, the constant and wildly optimistic comparison that keeps being drawn between the Courteeners and The Smiths.


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Editor's Letter

D'Angelo's "Black Messiah": some first thoughts


When Thom Yorke sneaked out his new solo album a few months back, I managed to hold out for 66 hours before writing a review of "Tomorrow's Modern Boxes". Since waking up...