[From The Cutting Room Floor]: Eric Andersen, The Smiths and Bob Marley & The Wailers.

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Often, seeking out new music can feel like a treasure hunt (or sweeping a minefield, depending on how you look at it). And every now and then you will come across those completely unexpected diamonds-in-the-rough that appear in the form of B-sides, outtakes or bootlegged live cuts. Those happy moments where you stumble across something that stops you in your tracks and think ‘Why is this only a B-side?’. This feature is about digging out those deeper cuts that deserve more attention than mere relegation.

‘Close The Door Lightly When You Go’ – Eric Andersen
If the mark of an artist is the company they keep then Eric Andersen can be ranked up there with the best of them, having rubbed shoulders with Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Joan Baez, The Band, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and William Burroughs to name but a few. While Andersen has not shared as much of the limelight as his Greenwich Village folk scene contemporaries, his vivid songwriting about love in all its expressions has influenced and been covered by countless artists in the singer-songwriter tradition and in 2003 he was awarded the Premio Tenco for outstanding songwriting, an award previously won by Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave (again, the company you keep). While later versions of ‘Close The Door Lightly When You Go’ have gathered a more upbeat pace, none of them have the same raw sense of self-loathing and loneliness as the original found on Andersen’s second album ‘Bout Changes ‘n’ Things. A documentary taking in Andersen’s ongoing fifty-plus year journey as an artist entitled The Songpoet is slated for release later this year.

‘Back To The Old House’ – The Smiths
Morrissey is set to release his tenth solo album World Peace Is None Of Your Business in July (announced by way of a tongue-in-cheek music video), and while he tends to divide opinion like Moses parts large bodies of water you’d be hard-pressed to deny the emotional weight he lends to this stripped down version of ‘Back To The Old House’ lifted from a John Peel session in 1983. Nostalgia drips from Johnny Marr’s honeyed arpeggios, complementing the forlorn quality in Morrissey’s tenor and the palpable ambivalence conveyed through understated images in lines such as “When you cycled by, here began all my dreams, the saddest thing I’ve ever seen”.

‘High Tide Or Low Tide’ – Bob Marley And The Wailers
Replete with sultry rhythms from the Barrett brothers and beautiful harmonies from Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, ‘High Tide Or Low Tide’ makes perfect listening for the nights drawing longer. It was recorded during the sessions for The Wailers’ Island debut, Catch A Fire, which would begin Bob Marley’s meteoric rise to become the Third World’s first superstar, but didn’t make the final tracklist. However, positioned alongside the social commentary of ‘Concrete Jungle’ and ‘Stop That Train’, this soulful ditty of solidarity and friendship shows the scope of Marley’s songwriting even at this early stage and it is this sense of peace and love he would infuse much of his music with throughout his career.

What are your favourite B-sides and rarities? Let me know in the comments below.

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[Cheap and Cheerful]: PHOX

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What’s better than discovering great music? Discovering it’s free as well. Cheap and Cheerful intermittently throws free downloads your way for continued listening pleasure that doesn’t break the bank.

With the worst of winter’s frosts behind us and the temperature hovering around 10°C where I am it might be safe to say that spring has sprung and that the weather is, dare I say it, quite good! What better way to celebrate that than with some sunshine-infused pop from Wisconsinite collective PHOX? Hailing from Baraboo, WI, they describe themselves on their bandcamp as “a gaggle of goofy wizards performing minor illusions and bigtop music”. While that description might seem fanciful there is an air of wide-eyed wonder and big possibilities they weave into their music, and this is nowhere more apparent than on their live set from last year’s iTunes Festival, which has been made available for free/name-your-price over at NoiseTrade.

Performing tracks from their Unblushing and Confetti EP’s, this offering is short and sweet, but above all memorable. Powered by a mini-orchestra assortment of instruments and seamless vocal harmonies, the multi-instrumental PHOX create chirpy and charming earworms with a bit of depth that stay put long after listening. There’s also room for moments of drama and slow, building movements though, as on standout track ‘Blue and White’ which sees principal vocalist Monica Martin deliver a powerful lighters aloft performance. For this band to have made it onto the iTunes Festival listings with only two EP’s under their belts points to something special, and with a debut album in the works at April Base, home studio of Bon Iver mastermind Justin Vernon, I think you can expect PHOX to be making a few waves when it lands in the summer.

PHOX Live at iTunes Festival is available for free from the good folks over at NoiseTrade. Find it here.

[Mixtape]: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Songs To Keep You Warm


“Then the snow started falling, we were stuck out in your car”

Time for another mixtape methinks. Autumn is officially in full swing where I am: the trees are nearly stripped bare, your breath hangs in the air and you have to go out fifteen minutes earlier in the mornings to turn the heater on in the car and scrape the windows. Following on from my post about confessional albums last week, I thought it would be nice to post this mix of songs designed to keep you warm inside as winter creeps in. Wrap up warm, plug in and enjoy.

Tracklist:
1.
 ‘Observatory Crest’ – Captain Beefheart – Bluejeans and Moonbeams
2. ‘Autumn Sweater’ – Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
3. ‘Sugar Mountain’ – Neil Young – Decade
4. ‘Don’t Want To Know’ – John Martyn – Solid Air
5. ‘Blood Bank’ – Bon Iver – Blood Bank EP
6. ‘Headlights Look Like Diamonds’ – Arcade Fire – Arcade Fire EP
7. ‘Obstacle 2’ – Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
8. ‘So Here We Are’ – Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
9. ‘Norway’ – Beach House – Teen Dream
10. ‘Með Blóðnasir’ – Sigur Rós – Takk
11. ‘Once Around The Block’ – Kings Of Convenience – Toxic Girl [Single]
12. ‘Wildfires’ – Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter [Bonus Tracks]
13. ‘Harvest Moon [Live]’ – Pearl Jam – Live Portland, OR, 20/07/06
14. ‘Cherry Blossoms’ – The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
15. ‘The Trapeze Swinger’ – Iron & Wine – Around The Well

Cover Credit: Winter Story by Nayein

Got any winter mixes of your own? Link them in the comments, I’d love to hear them.