Board of Fun Download Singles Club #003: “One Last Dance” by Sean King (download here)

Sean King's artwork for "One Last Dance": P-p-p-pick it up.

“One Last Dance”: P-p-p-pick it up.

Here, belatedly, is the third instalment of the Board of Fun download club: a great two-song set from Sean King, co-founder of the soon to be resurrected 1990s/2000s noise label Eidola Records and lo-fi songsmith in his own right. Recorded one summer’s day using a single microphone, these songs come unadorned and bullshit-free – they’re what they are, and what they are are small gems.
Listen/download the A-side, “One Last Dance”, here.
The B-side, “A Bottle of Whiskey at the End of the World”, can be found here.
Artwork by Sean King. Recorded by Yo Zushi.

COMING SOON! Board of Fun Download Singles Club #3: “One Last Dance” by Sean King

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover design for Sean King’s brilliant two-song download, “One Last Dance” and “A Bottle of Whiskey at the End of the World”, which will be available here on 21 January.

Board of Fun Download Singles Club #002: “December”, “Merry Christmas” and “Silent Night” triple-A

Image by Zoë Taylor

Image by Zoë Taylor

Merry Christmas from Board of Fun! For our second instalment of the free Download Singles Club, we’ve gone for a Christmas set with new recordings by Hana Zushi, me (Yo Zushi), Dan McKean, Oliver Talkes and others. The cover art is by Zoe Taylor (zoetaylor.co.uk).

A-side: “December” – Hana and Yo Zushi
Written by Yo Zushi
Debut song from Hana Zushi, here backed by her brother Yo Zushi. More info about Yo at yozushi.net

AA-side: “Merry Christmas” – Yo Zushi and Dan McKean
Written by Yo Zushi and Dan McKean
Yo sings; Dan plays all the rest. More info about Dan at theatrain.co.uk.

AAA-side: “Silent Night” by Oliver Talkes, Adam Beattie, Sean King and Yo Zushi
Traditional
The brilliant Oliver Talkes, former singer of the Southern Tenant Folk Union, performs the traditional standard “Silent Night” with Adam Beattie on piano and bass vocal, Yo Zushi on guitar and mid-harmony and Sean King on Richard-Manuel-channeling falsetto. More info about Oli at uk.myspace.com/olivertalkes

In pictures: the Board of Fun zine launch, 30 November 2012

Thanks to all those who made it out to the Dentist in Hackney, London, to celebrate the launch of the Board of Fun zine, the James McKean download (see post below) and also zines by Zoe Taylor and Sean King. It was a great night, full of music and photocopied bits of paper. We had songs from Jerry DeCicca of the Black Swans, me (Yo Zushi) and James McKean, with assorted backing from Phil Brunner, Ned Crowther, Ross Palmer and Dan “Robbie Robertson” McKean. Information about the zines (and where to get them, if you missed out) will be in a later post.

Are you in these pictures? Let us know.

Zines from Board of Fun, Zoe Taylor and Sean King!

Zines from Board of Fun, Zoe Taylor and Sean King!

The stairs, bar and entrance... all in one!

The stairs, bar and entrance… all in one

No heating

No heating

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

Not Gael

Not Gael

Jerry DeCicca

Jerry DeCicca

Comedy/tragedy

Comedy/tragedy

Yo Zushi

Yo Zushi

Dan McKean (not Gael Garcia Bernal)

Dan McKean (not Gael Garcia Bernal)

Contemplation

Contemplation (“Is that Gael Garcia Bernal?”)

In cider knowledge

In cider knowledge

Mak Murtic

Mak Murtic

Standing in the doorway

Standing in the doorway

James McKean

James McKean

Ralph and Amy

Ralph and Amy

Backroom bar

Backroom bar

Ross Palmer

Ross Palmer

Zoe Taylor and Sasha Ilyukevich

Zoe Taylor and Sasha Ilyukevich

Phil Brunner

Phil Brunner

Let there be light

Let there be light

Timothy Street

Timothy Street

Images by Hana Zushi, (c) 2012.

Board of Fun Download Singles Club #001: “Wave Upon Wave” by James McKean and the Blueberry Moon (download here)

Finally, the download link to James McKean’s free single “Wave Upon Wave”.

James McKean is best known as the frontman of the ‘A’ Train, a London-based rock band that has been delivering a “melodic wall of sound like a low-key Arcade Fire” (Digital Fix) since the mid-2000s. The Fly called the ‘A’ Train’s single “Black and White Memories” a “sublime debut”; Tom Robinson of BBC 6 Music praised their “lovely, organic, earthy sound”.

"Wave Upon Wave"

“Wave Upon Wave” is James’s debut solo single and is also the first instalment of the Board of Fun Download Singles Club.

The B-side, “Brave Old Boat”, can be downloaded here.

Coming soon: Board of Fun zine and free download singles club

We’ve been away for a short time but we haven’t just been sitting around in a circle, talking about cars that run entirely on water.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting out a zine featuring original artwork by Oliver Talkes, Zoe Taylor, Sean King, Yo Zushi and others; new writing from Ross Palmer; as well as interviews with a few musicians/artists you’ll want to read about – find out who, soon!

Also, on 29 October, we’re going to launch our new download singles club with “Wave Upon Wave”, the debut solo single from the London-based James McKean & the Blueberry Moon.

Return of the Mac: James McKean

“Wave Upon Wave” comes with the previously unreleased new song “The Brave Old Boat”.

The A-side features the deft touch of James’s brother Daniel on lap steel and electric guitar, as well as backing vocals from Laura Gimson of Letters to the Front.

The Blueberry Moon was originally started as a studio collaboration between James – best known as lead singer of The ‘A’ Train (‘A lovely, organic, earthy sound’ – Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music) – and producer/multi-instrumentalist Ross Palmer (Yo Zushi, Great Days of Sail). The project has now developed into a six-piece live band, which has started to play regularly around London.

Find details about their shows at: myspace.com/theatrainmusic

Praise for James’s day-job band, the ‘A’ Train:

“A lovely, organic, earthy sound” – Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music

“Black And White Memories is a sublime debut single” – The Fly

“Timeless pop/rock that connects as deeply as you could dare to dream– The Mag

“A melodic and soft wall of sound like a low-key Arcade Fire” – 7 out of 10, The Digital Fix

“They’ve created something that sounds so new . . . [The 2011 song] ‘Moon Water’ is so fantastically catchy, it damn well deserves to be an immediate hit!” – Hitsmith.com

“Outwardly working through a variety of styles, there’s an underlying air of melancholy which seems to pervade all of these songs . . . A thumbs up” – 7 out of 10, Tasty Fanzine

More news to come. Stay tuned!

Ross Palmer on “What Makes You Think You’re the One?” by Fleetwood Mac

Old dog, new tricks: Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk

Lindsey Buckingham did not want the follow-up to Rumours to sound like Rumours. That much we can say for sure: he infuriated the engineer and co-producer Ken Caillat by asking for sounds completely alien to his sensibilities (almost literally so: Buckingham would insist that Caillat turn the knobs of whatever device they were using 180 degrees from wherever they were set before he’d start recording a take) and bemused his band mates by playing them the Clash’s first record and trying to convince them that this is what they needed to sound like!

It was the late 1970s and Buckingham was convinced that his band had to evolve or die. History proved him right – their generation of artists either had to come to terms with the new music and fashions or wait a few years to start playing the nostalgia circuit. The majority updated their haircuts and wardrobes, bought synthesisers and drum machines, pushed up the sleeves of their pastel sports jackets and tried to make post-new-wave pop hits.

Buckingham should have realised that he was on a hiding to nothing. For all his good intentions, he couldn’t make Fleetwood Mac’s slick Californian navel-gazing into raucous English punk. But what the band came up with in the attempt was much more interesting than if they’d have succeeded. The appeal of Tusk lies in the tension between Buckingham’s aims for the record and the band’s failure to quite get there; between his own nervous, fractured songs and the material given to him by Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie.

Lacking the woody warmth of Rumours (partly, perhaps, due to the album being recorded on an early digital system called Soundstream, rather than to analogue tape), Tusk’s Buckingham-penned songs turn away from mainstream LA rock, only for those written by Nicks and McVie to attempt to return to it. The attempted fusion of slick, albeit heartfelt, West Coast AOR with this raw and ragged new music resulted in a record that was uncategorisable: Fleetwood Mac gone askew, covert punk rock on a superstar budget.

Buckingham had recorded demos for his songs in his house and, enamoured with the sounds he got by recording in his bathroom, had a replica of his bathroom built in the studio. On some songs, he played all the instruments himself, painstakingly Xeroxing his lo-fi demos in a hi-fi studio. “What Makes You Think You’re the One?”, fortunately, was one song that he let Mick Fleetwood and John McVie play on (though not the fastidious and precise Christine). Buckingham has remarked that something about hearing that drum sound in his headphones, with its clangy slap-back delay, turned Fleetwood into an animal. His unhinged performance is hilarious, the highlight of the track: he beats his snare drum mercilessly, four to the bar for the entire song. It’s a joy to hear such a tasteful musician playing so uninhibitedly, throwing away all restraint, while Buckingham bashes out incongruously chirpy piano quavers and cackles maniacally.

Critics didn’t know quite what to make of all this and neither did the public. Tusk sold “only” four million copies in the US, less than a quarter of Rumours’s figures. Yet Tusk’s critical reputation has soared in recent years as West Coast-influenced artists such as Midlake, Best Coast and Jonathan Wilson have resurrected the old Fleetwood Mac sound and made them a cool reference point again – something that was hard to envisage 15 years ago but welcome and deserved for a group whose work was never less than sincere.

Live rehearsal version:

Studio version: