Song of the WeekIsland Top 11
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We're going to take a break from our deep-seated International Swelling Song of the Week Page and focus on a favourite music of ours - Fanfare music. We've already featured alot of this music on this page in previous months.

Essentially this is modern brass band marching music, combined with pop music styles and often manic energy, cos its usually played out on the streets. It's got a big tradition in the States and in various European countries like France, Italy, Spain, Russia and Eastern Europe, but sadly it's lacking in the U.K. - I blame punk. Oh, a quick word of warning - forget your colliery brass bands from North of England.

Tuba Slim and the Brass Ones
Kosiche Ugly RMO

To kick the proceedings into life, here's a typical fanfare example by Tuba Slim and the Brass Ones, a bastardised version of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra (I think). Great heavy drum backbeat, massed brass, manic playing, brass sections that play across each other, powerful brooding bass brass, syncopated counterpoint, players brandishing their brass instruments like weapons - it's all here for you serious Fanfare music fans. The very idea of the coordination of massed brass elements always gets me hot under the collar - oh, the teamwork!

The Washington State University Cougar Marching Band
Louie Louie

This is a great powerful fanfare version of the classic, Louie Louie. These sort of bands are so big they have to have two conductors - one either side. This band look like some sort of Roman legion, lined up in their ranks, getting ready to go into battle, only they fire sharp brass riffs at you. The song is manic and the band sway and swing like the sea on speed. Great stuff. Great screeching top end brass section with malevolent sounding bass section.

MarchFourth Marching Band
Crack Haus

Another example of a truly huge fanfare band - 35 in all. I imagine if the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band had been a brass band they would have ended up like this.

Mama Digdown's Brass Band
Word on the Street

Superb drumming on this song - in fact, it so good we might nick a sample of it for a song or two of ours. It also works well with the bassline of the sousaphone.

Pakava It
Sveya TRP

A good powerful fanfare band - this one from Russia. A massed saxophone section! Yes! Another of their songs, Klezmer for Baby, has got some very fast brass playing that we can only dribble with envy over at the moment.

Nymphonik Orchestra
Les Larmes

Plenty of different brass sections playing across each other in this one.


Aug. '07 I Besh o droM

Brilliant bit of scat singing at the start. Female singer with a voice that can cut sellotape [whatever that means]. Song then shoots off at a swinging pace. Song does a few neat tricks. It reaches a climax and I think you know the rest.

Aug. '07 Nemérdekes

July '07 I Gatti Mézzi
Ir Gallaccio di Rigone

Great song , great moustaches, even better manic stares. So far these two have the best dental work of any band so far. Any song with whistling has got to be ok - in fact, the whistling alone could make this song Song of the Week. The song seems to be the Italian equivalent of the French chanson with that melodramatic style of Italian singing that borders on the operatic. Superb fast piano and guitar playing from these two younger-looking, Mediterranean Chuckle Brothers and you've gotta listen to the manic piano comping in Tragedia dell'estate" - jerky or what.

July '07 Skamaleonti ERAORA!!!
Sti Skazzi

The Italians are great at rolling their Rs, unlike us Anglo-Saxons who are all labial-fricative and embarrassed at the ejection of spittle. When they can be coaxed, this band are brilliant at rolling theirs, which is reason enough to give them a listen. The use of exclamation marks in a band name has got to signify something but what ... well that's a puzzle: are they being angry or emphatic or suddenly being surprised half way through saying their band name at realising they've come up with a tired pun? They must be commended for singing in Italian and an excellent trombone solo in one of their songs. Great driving guitars switching into tinny choppy offbeats with bouncy brass.

June '07 Haydamaky
Nemae Hliba Spivaj

We like our brass like our porridge - fast - and that's exactly what you get with this band, so we're as happy as a Scotsman faced with a bowl of this band. Now, if you like a bit of heaviness, then you'll also be happy. The usual excellent East European growl thrown in on top and you've got a speedy dish for breakfast.

May '07 Zdob si Zdub
Bunica Bate Toba

We don't often feature happy songs but this is one such item - uptempo and very happy. This song reminds me of something but I can't think what. Brilliant bit of penny whistle[?] over heavy guitars. They've even got shouted "Hey"s in there. Those of you that speak Moldovan might be interested in the lyrics of the chorus that go: "Bunika bate toba,bunika bate tare Bunika bate toba cu maciuca-n casa mare" - and certainly you'll agree with the sentiment cos bunikas can be a problem when the macuicas aren't looking.

April '07 Karl Hlamkin & OgneOpasnOrkestr

This band typify the Russian Growl way of singing - you've already heard it with Leningrad. Many Russian vocalists seem to favour this and why not? We've chosen this band because they do some excellent, fast funk songs [Kolomeiki really is very good] and certain members of our band labour under the misapprehension that we, the rest of the band, discriminate against this type of music because we are blinkered. No, we discriminate against it because it's crap and that's true cos it says so both in the Bible [Isiah Ch. 12 v. 22-24] and in the Koran [The Counsel 42.42]. Anyway, we chose this lot to show we are impartial and also because they are an excellent band - very tight and good in dark places.

April 07 Oppa Novy God
Piter bolshe

Another offering from St. Petersburg, providing 'Melodramatic Popular Song'. Excellent tinny snare drumming with scratchy guitar. Some tasteful little trombone twirls as well as a tasty trombone solo - we've got a new trombone player so we hope he listens to this to see how to do it.

April 07 Saint Petersburg Ska Jazz Review
4 70

Have you ever wondered what happens when you mix ska music with Cossack dancing music? Some great soaring brass transitions, a neat trombone solo, a searing latin trumpet and don't forget to shout "Hey" as you do your cossack dance. Unfortunately, they sing in English ... oh, well, you can't win 'em all.

April 07 Leningrad
Moi Mototsikl

Firstly - great move to keep the communist name for St. Petersburg as your band name. 'St. Petersburg' sounds too top heavy - too clumsy - too Catholic [ and yes we do mean to upset Catholics, so please don't write in].
Secondly, great singer - reminds me of when my girlfriend used to purr sweet nothings in my ear, only the vocalist of this band sounds less rough. Lots of great rolling Rs, guttural sounds and hissing - Russian is a great language to sing in.
Thirdly, anyone out there who can tell us what 'Moi Mototsikl' means?
Fourthly, this band have a great sound - very tight, very together, and all work as a coiled music machine, ready to moon-stomp up and down the Vyborgskaya Naberezhnaya ... ah, happy memories of hanging around Prospekt Bakunina, trying to pronounce 'Vyborgskaya Naberezhnaya', drinking drakshnayska and fighting off the genobschkiviks. Nowadays, genobsches are banned; the kiviks seem to have gone west; drakshnayska is no longer made with bleach [and therefore is crap or rather ??????] ; and we still can't say 'Vyborgskaya Naberezhnaya'. Oh, well, never mind - Leningrad more than make up for it! The other songs are probably even better but this one got my Mototsikl throbbing.

March 07 Rascasse
Schlecter Scherz

We had to feature one song with "Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier!" shouted out. It starts off with an excellent choppy rythm, more suitable for introducing clowns on stage. The female vocalist has a melting voice. There's a ukele in there too and assorted yells punctuate it.. It goes fast then slows down then speeds up again then slows down. Once again I'll bring my incomparable translating skills to bear on this song for you: well, the girl seems to have a worser pain than Jah, ever since he gave her a very sour apple. He retorts that he could show her and explain the inner workings of a watermill in exciting detail. She is uncertain but replies I'm not that sort of madchen." Still far more coherent than Revenge of the Lawn lyrics, I think, my dear.

March 07 Skouch
[literally "Buggered up Sash Window Hour"]

Don't be put off by the strange noises at the beginning cos, once they're over, the song goes off like a rocket then changes rythm then changes rythm again. The singing in the chorus is smooth, gorgeous and sticky like rich, dark toffee, but with the usual raucous Teutonic thrust.

I believe this song is all about his sash windows not working very well and he's wondering whether to have them ripped out and replaced with uPVC windows although he's reluctant to take this option because he's worried about the conforming architectural uniformity of plastic window frames that is prevalent in the modern Western World as well as the environmental impact and besides if God had intended us to have plastic windows then Moses would surely have said something about this (though in the Parable of the Three Little Pigs, most serious modern biblical scholars now agree that Jesus was advocating the use of an artificial, man-made material in the construction of windows rather than wood - and he should know: he was the son of a carpenter) and certainly Mohammed always pushed for wooden surrounds, but then again he's pissed off with his bedroom sash window because it's been stuck in an open position all this winter ... I wasn't too sure about the ending cos he seemed to be saying something about "loving his girlfriend and never wanting to lose her", which are obviously totally ridiculous words for a pop song. Ending with a good chorus about 1920s metal casement windows would have been perfect, but then again its easy to see that in hindsight.

March 07 Deutschland

Rather appropriately singing about their homeland, but in some strange German accent that makes it sound like he's singing about "Dachsland", a very small central European country, over-run by large numbers of dachshunds. The trumpet playing is brilliant and slurs around the melodies in a way that gets me all damp. A punky acoustic rythm section topped off with a simple tripled-up trumpet riff completes the mix. My O' level German urges me to translate the chorus as " I am able to ( subjunctive suggesting uncertainty) live (with the sense of co-habiting) with Germany standing on me."

March 07 1000 Dank
Berlin Boom Orchestra

Too many German bands [especially punk bands] sing in English, which is a pity since the German language is the best for spitting energy and aggressive vitriol - The Sex Pistols would have been perfect if they'd sung in German. So it's refreshing to hear German bands, who have faith in their language and use it to sing. Berlin Boom Orchestra is such a band. This song: a ska song with beautiful, tuneful brass riffs; a gentle, soothing backing rythm section; and very mild-mannered lyrics. However although the vocalist sings as mild-mannered and as soft as possible, the singing still sounds like a rage against the infidel, thanks to Teutonic linguistics. For all that though, it sounds great ... in a rather herrlichsogeschmackvollwieeinspanischerFlamencotanz sort of way.

Feb. 07 J'aurais bien voulu
Babylon Circus

The Heineken band of the French-speaking world i.e. probably the best of the French crop of bands at the moment. This lot are excellent and the music swings and thunders. This 10 piece band sound very French and usually go in for reggae, but more of their recent stuff leans more towards ska and reggae.

When they go for it, their music moves with the power and agility of ... well, you know ... a cheetah on speed driving a juggernaut or some such poorly chosen metaphor. Despite this misleading mental image, they are excellent live: check out the video of the band live on their myspace page. It's all there: music, theatre, tv presenter stylee, big brass sound, band members trying to push each other over, pantomime lighting effects, etc - you can't wish for more. I think they're bloody brilliant and I wish there were more bands around like them ... moan ... whinge ... mumble ... mumble ...

Feb. 07 Bibi Kool Raoul
Le Zef
Les Ouiches Lorenes

What happens when a chaotic young, 16 piece, multi-sex brass band find a Teach yourself Ska book in packet of cereals?
A style of music little heard on this side of the Channel - big brass band ska. Yes, this seems to be a type of music that has been around on the Continent for some time.

Powerful brass riffs fight against each other, while tuba and bass keep up a simple, hypnotic bass growl. Guitar [or rather hectic banjo] is relegated to a barely audible addition to the drums in keeping up a strong, insistent beat. Meanwhile, a swelling, brooding horn section surges over and above the manic sax rythm section. In fact, brass sounds seem to come flying out of nowhere at you all the while. In all, an excellent pounding brass noise. It's what The Damned would have sounded like, if only they had learnt to play their brass instruments properly at school.

Feb. 07 Hou la la la la
Princes Chameau

You can't beat the lyrical sophistication of the chorus of this song - you'll be singing it every time you wander along the street to get the milk or whatever. It's also a brilliant reply if anyone asks you a difficult question. In places, the operatic singing of the 'Ooo la la la la' was definitely enough to make the duck (who lives in the corner of our recording room) scream like a monkey in agreement (and it's a very difficult duck to excite usually).

I love the bit where he sings "the Portuguese are like apples, singing in the street for petrol. The grease slips out like a car-horn. The camels are green and run away from the disco" ... well, I think, that's what he sings. But the beauty of these foreign songs is YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND the words - just listen to the sounds of the rythms that the mouthings (oo err) of the words make - it's music in itself! You get two songs in one. Hou la la la la!

Jan. 07 Sound Advice intro
Mista Mushroom

It's come to our attention that there are many songs out there with several bars of such excellent music in them that these song portions ought to be songs in their own right. This song by Mista Mushroom has probably the most dramatic, stirring intro we've ever heard - it made us want to fix bayonets, form a square and fight off hordes of lightly armed Island tribesmen.

However, we felt this intro was too good to only appear once at the start of the song and deserved to be heard twice over, so we asked our sound engineer to do some clever knob twiddling and now you too can listen to the intro in all its full extended glory:
the powerful, momentous rythm guitars; the weaving and dodging-in-and-out of the scratching; the solid drum beat; the falling and rising keyboard rythm, adding attack to the guitar; and above all, the sharp, moving fanfare of the trumpet as it emerges over all the rest of the aforementioned unstoppable, musical supertanker of an intro! If anyone can find a better intro, please let us know.

Jan. 07 Hillbilly
The Hoo Haas

To continue with the hillbilly theme started in December, here's another offering in the old country vein. Great whining vocals and listen to that guitar in the background! Inspired! Stretchingly sublime! Then, to put a trumpet over the whole thing is truly inspirational. What purist Country and Western musician worth his inbred salt would ever possess the genius to dare to do that, your honour? I rest my case.

Jan. 07
Could We Find the Monkey?
The Chancers

A beautiful, melodic song, which on that criteria alone, is easily eligible for Song of the Week. However, the bloke in the video looks like me so that's the real reason why I've chosen it. In fact, I'm wondering if he could be my brother, who I lost contact with 20 years ago.
The song is a totally unexpected surprise because this band are fronted by a thuggish, mean-looking, large fortress of muscle [see left], with a neck as thick as your torso, and a viscious-looking belly, and usually they thunder out very heavy, skinhead punk music. Vive la Incongruous!

Dec. 06 Once I shot a Rabbit
Harvey Broadhurst

Well, what can be said about this one? Stylish lyrics, heartfelt vocals, a huge hair-do - what boy (or girl for that matter) could ask for more?! Everyone must be able to identify with this song ... I mean, we've all made documentaries about the vermin that we've killed. Who hasn't? But what this song is able to do which few of our documentaries are able to do, is conjure up the heart-breaking shame one feels when one shoots a mayor. Listen to the song, then look me in the eye and see if you can honestly say that you haven't felt the slightest shame when you've shot a mayor before. I know I can't. Anyway, a song that ought to be covered by any Island band worth their hot air.

Nov. 06 One Night in Paris
i ♥ audrey

This could be song of the week just for the title alone. At the risk of boring you with my many famous well-known European exploits, it reminds me of the time when I spent a night in a Paris café back in the 1950s in the company of Sartre, Camus, dear, dear Simone de Beauvoir, several very famous European painters, Zsa Zsa Gabor, a glass of absinthe here, a pernod there, a shrug, a cold look of disdain for the scurrying public, an improvised line of genius poetry ... blah, blah, blah ... well - that's another story. Anyway back to the song: A great voice reminiscent of Kate Bush or The Chefs lead singer.

Nov. 06 Supersad
Plushy Edwards

Tipping the nod to the Undertones can never be a bad thing! Excellent whiny vocals - you can't beat them. This song's got enough interest to keep you listening, unlike Revenge of the Lawn songs. Clean sound, clean boys, the sort you could take back to your boyfriend.

Oct. 06 Sweet Taste of Revenge
Zoe and the Maybe band

A great, clean sound to this simple but beguiling reggae-esque song, with singing to die for. The band are tight and crisp, unlike Revenge of the Lawn, and the vocals have that unique, distinctive quality, that identifies the singer straight away, an asset that very few Island bands have at the moment ... come to think of it, no other band has it.

Why not brighten up those dull, solitary moments in the shower with tawdry musical accompaniment? The Country Roads Band Featuring Nancy & Tammy are waiting to ease the tedium of bath-time by playing terrible easy-listening cajun muzak while you pamper yourself in the shower. More about shower showtime eagerly awaits.