Friday, 1 January 2010

Moonflower Video (updated).

In late 2000 and early 2001 I wrote and recorded a clutch of songs. Vocals, guitar and on occasion a tiny wee keyboard and an egg shaker, all recorded on 1/4 inch reels in mono.

Recorded under the moniker 'Mozzie Coil', the result was named, appropriately ' Glistening Mono'. Friends seemed to like it. Played a couple of tiny gigs and left it there. Mozzie Coil became Encyclopedia Brown, then Strange Tractor. Now, in the middle of writing a new batch of songs with a view to recording, it's Nx Doyle.

As ever, I'm halfway through about five songs, but I have, after only nine years, made a little video for one of the old songs, Moonflower. The photos and videos were recorded over the past few days. The upload to youtube was not as clean as I'd hoped, but this third attempt was about as good as I could hope for. I hope you like it.

(Update: I had the same upload issues with She, so I converted both vids to .mp4 in the hope that I'd get a cleaner result...seems to have worked, so here's the newer version.)

The Best of Music 2000-2009 (Part 2/2 - Miscellaneous).

Sure, I fell madly in love with the warm and wistful embrace of 'whatever the hell it is' (if you do a genre search on M Ward, it'll come up variously as alt-country, folk, indie and 'other'...I even heard it referred to as 'the new weird') in the last ten years. I even wrote and recorded a bunch of tunes with a country-ish feel. But that doesn't mean I turned my back on my first love...RAWWWK! Still, it took until 2007 for me to weld myself back to the train, starting with the Pixies gig in April...and then when I heard the last album from:


I was late to the Spoon party. They'd been around for years but while I knew about 'em I never really heard anything until a couple of years ago. My friend Flash sent me an mp3 of Sister Jack and it became my ringtone...for two years. I went cuckoo bananas for their last album 'Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga' on first hearing. Simply put, Spoon helped me to enjoy rock again.

Arctic Monkeys

Canny readers will have noticed that every artist to this point has been American. Those who know me will not be surprised by this. It's not that I dislike music from my own country or the UK, it's just that I was much more affected by American music these past few years. Let's leave the sweet stuff there, cross the pond and dizzy out to some rock.

Strangely enough, the first British band on this list was the most successful in terms of sales and exposure. With the exception of the Shins whose third album 'Wincing the Night Away' was a US Top Ten hit, all the above artists are relatively small. Even The Strokes' commercial success was comparatively minor, despite being labelled the 'Next Big Thing' by just about everyone in 2001.

The Arctic Monkeys, on the other hand, lived out the hype and sold up a storm. A bunch of spotty boys from Sheffield recorded a few songs for friends, who in turn dropped their songs online...and within months, Arctic Monkeys were a major act, breaking the record for fastest album sales. Here's why. No lard, no frill, no bullshit. Just tight, collected, bruising punk pop, delivered with insouciance and real skill. I heard back in 2006 when they burst, but honestly? I didn't cop to them properly till a few months back.

Art Brut

Art Brut's been around a few years, but my first meeting with them came via my ultimate musical inspiration Black Francis from the Pixies. He produced their 2009 album 'Art Brut vs Satan'. They pump along alright, but what sets them apart is the child-like persona & lyrics of frontman Eddie Argos. He doesn't sing, but it ain't rapping, and it ain't that wanky 'Streets'-style spoken word bollocks, either. He's just talking about silliness. Francis' production on their last album took this band to a new level.

Art Brut - Alcoholics Unanimous- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.


Ooops, back to warm & wistful... but this time, with lots of embracing analog swooshes and swirls. Just my thing. These fellas came to my attention in 1998 after the release of 'Under The Western Freeway' but it was their next effort, 2000's The Sophtware Slump, that is considered their most rounded work. The brainchild of Jason Lytle, Grandaddy disbanded in 2006 after the album 'Just Like the Fambly Cat'. A sad loss, but their tunes will sit inside for quite a time to come.

The Strokes

The phenomenon of 2001, The Strokes didn't make much of an impression on me at first. In March/April that year I was purple-haired in preparation for a play (Popcorn by Ben Elton). A week or so before the show went up I met an English guy at a party and he was going on and on about The Strokes. They'd only released an EP but the cognoscenti of the music world were raving. I didn't really get the fascination until the album 'Is This It' was released in July (Australia being first cab off the rank for release). The first Strokes song to do the trick? This'un.

Elliott Smith

Elliott's no stranger to this blog and, with M Ward, sits atop the 'most played' on Ralphie iPod. He was a very sad, tortured, troubled man who bled that into his songs. How he was able to do it with such beautiful melody, harmony and texture will always be of great mystery to me. After an Oscar nomination in 1998 for Miss Misery, one might have imagined things going gangbusters for Elliott. Not so. 2000 saw the release of 'Figure 8', a sublime mix of acoustic bitter-sweetness and playful pop rock. While acclaimed, from 2000 on, Elliott went into a tailspin of drugs, unfulfilled commitments and suicidal depression.

In 2002 he performed less than a handful of gigs, one of which was described as the the worst ever. He was constantly starting fights, losing, and getting arrested. At one point he was busted for fighting at a Flaming Lips gig and the cops beat him up because they assumed he was a street bum. Things started to pick up in early 2003 and he began recording tunes and messing with noises. He didn't live to see the result, 'From a Basement on a Hill'. In October 2003, he died from two apparently self-inflicted stab wounds to the heart.

The Shins

I was mad for The Shins from 2001 when I first heard 'Caring is Creepy'. In recent months I've found them almost ulnlistenable, flicking quickly past 'em every time they pop up on my iPod. I'm not saying I don't love 'em, they're just not doing it for me at the moment. However, they played a huge part in my musical decade, so it's a cinch that they're here. The Shins are odd angles of pop bliss. I saw them live in 2003 at The Zoo, the day they caught Saddam Hussein.

The Essex Green

What do you get when you cross Peter, Paul & Mary with The Mamas and the Papas and The Velvet Underground? The Essex Green. This band was the first of my CD box accidents.


I gave up on 'hits' around 1989. One reason really: Pixies. I didn't hear a number one single I loved (and still love) until late 2003, when Outkast released this. Without doubt the best hit song of the 00's. This performance is the first I heard, in about October when my brother sat me down one day and said 'you've gotta see this'. It was clear from that first listen that a number one beckoned.

Mark Mothersbaugh

A slight change of pace. This is one of my favourite pieces of music from one of my favourite movies, 'The Life Aquatic, with Steve Zissou'. Nothing much needs to be said. The top clip is the tune as it appears in the movie and underneath it, the tune alone.

Band of Horses

I could quite easily have put these guys in Part One, but they remind me more of a shoe-gazing power pop band than anything else. They don't wank on for 12 mins a song though, which I appreciate. Another late starter for me; I only heard 'em for the first time a couple of months back, the day I arrived home from Tasmania. They would have been perfect background for that trip. This song is just beautiful.

They Might Be Giants

A personal favourite since 1989, TMBG have had a great decade. They've been around for nearly 30 years but are still considered by some, wrongly in my opinion, to be a bit of a novelty. They broke most assuredly into writing fun and educational songs for kids most unlike any written previously. And in 2007 they released 'The Else', their best 'grown up' album in a coon's age.

The Flaming Lips

When 'She Don't Use Jelly' made the charts way back in the mid-90s, many thought the fearless freaks of The Flaming Lips were a new band. They'd been around since 1983. In 2001 they released one of the great landmarks in popular music: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The song I've chosen, Do You Realize, is simply beautiful...and on more than one occasion I've heard otherwise testosterone-fuelled manly men request it be turned off due to its tear-inducing ability.

Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??

Ryan | MySpace Video

I'll have forgotten a bunch. But that's just the way it goes. Enjoy these...and happy 2010.