Posted by: dan | July 17, 2009

the checkout: june


Dan: First, an apology: This is probably the latest checkout post we’ve done so far, and we have no excuses for it. Well, Ben does, he was on holiday, but I’ve just been lazy. But here it is at last, a review of all the albums we bought in June.


I’m going to add another apology here. I’ve bought very little over the last month, as I have developed a fear of spending since moving. As such, I don’t have much to talk about, so I’m going to get it out of the way first. The first album I bought was The Eels’ new release, Hombre Lobo. I’m working on an Eels post at the moment, so a review will eventually be found there. I also bought a Simon and Garfunkel boxset, despite my knowledge of their work being Scarborough Fair, Sound of Silence and The Only Living Boy In New York. The boxset consists of their five studio albums, and a Live DVD. But it was £8 in HMV, and that’s a pretty good deal. In chronological order, then, are my brief snippet reviews of each disc, excluding the DVD, as I haven’t watched it.

Wednesday Morning, 3AM opens with You Can Tell The World, which is almost exactly the same as the Good Book Song (a parody track in A Mighty Wind, a film you should really watch), and then flies through a range of styles that obviously inspired many people. I like it.

Sounds of Silence capitalises on the success of the song with the same title from the previous album. Unfortunately, nothing else is as good, and even Sound Of Silence is better on WM3AM. I’m not so keen.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme contains the other track everyone knows, Scarborough Fair. However, the highlight of the album is The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy). Overall, I’m not too keen on this one either.

Bookends is closer to being back on form, with a few good tracks, and a couple similar in tone to early Scott Walker, oddly enough (particularly Old Friends). Best track here is Fakin’ It. And yes, I know Mrs. Robinson is on this one.

Bridge Over Troubled Water. Aha, now here we go. There’s barely a low point on this album. It returns to the range of styles seen in their debut, and contains some great tunes, such as Cecilia, The Only Living Boy In New York and Bye Bye Love. I like it.

Thirdly, and lastly, is God Help The Girl. There’s one proviso for this album, and that is that you have to remember it’s a musical. If you forget this, some of the tracks seem overly lavish, and ostentatious. But in context, that’s exactly what they should be. But that’s only a couple of tracks, for the most part, it’s just great music from the Belle and Sebastian gang. I love the whole thing from start to finish, but highlights are still quite easy to pick: Musicians, Please Take Heed; Perfection As A Hipster (with Neil ‘busy-this-year’ Hannon on vocals); and I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie. This should be a definite addition to anyone’s collection.

Ben: I have a complaint. The complaint is called ‘I now have no bloody time to listen to music.’ It’s debilitating, embarassing and makes me sad. There’s so little opportunity for me to listen to things I want: my commute now lasts about ten minutes each way, the purchase of a Wii means the TV’s always on and as I now don’t have my own room or space (or time) I’ve nowhere to escape to in order to listen.


Waxing Gibbousst-vincent-actorartbrutgod_help_the_girl

I purchased four albums in June. They all need more listening. Malcolm Middleton’s newie seems lovely enough, certainly better than the acousticy downbeat Sleight of Heart. Art Brut’s Vs. Satan is ridiculous – after showing some promise on their brill It’s a Bit Complicated, they’ve regressed to meaningless nonsense again. A pity.

St Vincent is a bit of a mixed bag. Of the four albums she’s the one I need to invest more time in. I want to simile her – say that she’s ‘like’ Kate Bush or ‘like’ Feist – but I can’t do it. I’ve listened to the album a few times but need to listen much, much more before I can offer any thought at all.

Oh, and God Help the Girl. This was leaked months ago though was loyally purchased upon proper release. Have to say that I’m not keen on it at all. It’s way too maudlin for a summer release, the songs aren’t especially catchy and the new version of Funny Little Frog is the unholy union of Simon Cowell, Stuart Murdoch and every fourteen year old girls’ iPod. And I really, really hate musicals. I expected so much more.

Next month? I’m going to purchase little and listen more. More more more more more!

Dan: Starting this month, we’re going a bit further with our Checkout monthly top tens. We’re going to create a Spotify playlist for you so you can quickly and easily check if we know what we’re talking about each month. If you’re unfamiliar with Spotify, it’s a piece of software that allows you to stream music across the internet, and you can download it here. It’s great for discovering new music (though obviously no replacement for physical formats), and it’s free! Once you’ve set up an account, all you need to do is click on the link we provide at the end of each Checkout post to hear our selection of great tracks for that month. If there’s an artist you like, click on their name, and it’ll whisk you off to their back catalogue so you can hear some more of their stuff. As an added bonus, I’ve created playlists for each of our previous Checkout posts, and you can find links to them on the original post, or collected below. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Our Favourite 5 Tracks of June


Malcolm Middleton – Red Travellin’ Socks
The Chalets – No Style
The Shortwave Set – Now ’til 69
REM – Pop Song 89
St Vincent – Laughing with a Mouth of Blood


The Eels – Prize Fighter
Simon and Garfunkel – The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)
God Help The Girl – I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie
Blur – No Distance Left To Run
Franz Ferdinand – Bite Hard

June’s Spotify playlist here! N.B. You will need to have Spotify installed for the link to work (and indeed for the others below). If you do, then you’ll get to hear our favourite tracks this month free!

February Checkout Spotify Playlist
March Checkout Spotify Playlist
April Checkout Spotify Playlist
May Checkout Spotify Playlist



  1. Ben, have you St Vincent’s first album? Spotify it if it’s on. It’s, in my opinion, a bit better.

    • No, I haven’t. ‘Actor’ is my first exploration. I’ll have a bit of a deeper dig when I have the time.

  2. As I say, I think it’s a bit more focused, and crucially has more coherent “songs”. Actor, at moments, felt as though there was a song happening nearby, say in her bedroom, but we were off somewhere on the landing trying to hear it.

  3. Though that wasn’t wholly unpleasant…

  4. How about a free online music festival to go with your Tea?



  5. Just looking at the CD covers from the photo in the header makes me want to read more. May I recommend Midlake – Trials of Van Occupanther, The Bees – Free the Bees and Elliot Smith – Figure 8

    • Actually, we’ve both got The Bees, and I’ve got Midlake’s album. They’re both very good, though I find Van Occupanther declines a bit in the second half of the album. I’ve not got around to listening to Elliot Smith yet, but I’ve heard good things.

    • Yay! Free the Bees is my stockpile summer listening. For a band with a reputation for being rubbish live, they were amazing when I saw them.

      Our next checkout post – July’s, obviously – will be along in a few days. In the meantime – have you heard Charlotte Hatherley’s new single? I’m hoping the album will be as good as The Deep Blue.

  6. We seem to be on the same wavelength so I’m going to follow you two on your musical adventures………………don’t tend to buy ‘new’ stuff these days, more ‘going-off-at-tagents’ from existing knowlege. Looking forward to the ride!

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