The High Llamas: C or D?

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this isn't "defend the indefensible," because i think that o'hagan et. al. are very defensible. and i know some others hereabouts also like 'em (like messrs. currie and hanle y).

as fer me, i stopped paying attention to them after cold and bouncy. but in 1995, gideon gaye was easily my favorite CD for that year and a couple thereafter.

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 6 September 2003 22:35 (sixteen years ago) link

dud, it's all very pretty and all but he could do with a catchy chorus or two.

keith (keithmcl), Sunday, 7 September 2003 00:02 (sixteen years ago) link

o'hagan does some outstanding string arrangements on other people's records. but the dude can't write a tune to save himself. gideon gaye is and will always be his only worthwhile record. cold and bouncy was wretched.

the surface noise (electricsound), Sunday, 7 September 2003 00:19 (sixteen years ago) link


I've never bought an album, just downloaded songs, but have loved almost all I have heard.

David Allen, Sunday, 7 September 2003 01:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Classic on the whole; yes, at times indistinct (some longueurs on "Cold and Bouncy" and "Hawaii"), but at their best, wonderful. "Hawaii" at 45 minutes would have been quite something. "Gideon Gaye" very much is something.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 7 September 2003 01:19 (sixteen years ago) link

I've never bought an album, just downloaded songs, but have loved almost all I have heard

i'd probably recommend this is the best way to hear them - an album's worth is just too much airbrushed beach boys parody/homage to cope with in one sitting

the surface noise (electricsound), Sunday, 7 September 2003 01:31 (sixteen years ago) link

Classic, and what I've heard of the new record is good too.

hstencil, Sunday, 7 September 2003 02:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Part of "Gideon Gaye" was great. As for the rest, it sounds nice in an elevator.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 7 September 2003 07:50 (sixteen years ago) link

but mr o'hagan has churned out some very lovely melodies on those high llamas records, geir!

Tad (llamasfur), Sunday, 7 September 2003 08:40 (sixteen years ago) link

The High Llamas certainly have their moments (I'd go along with the general concensus that Gideon Gaye & Hawaii are their best).But lately I've been re-examining the band from which they sprung, Microdisney, after stumbling across an excellent fansite here

On re-examination, I was delighted to find that Microdisney actually were the best band ever.

harveyw (harveyw), Sunday, 7 September 2003 08:42 (sixteen years ago) link

I can confirm this to be so.

N. (nickdastoor), Sunday, 7 September 2003 09:52 (sixteen years ago) link

Classic. I love 'em. It's good to see it's not just me and Hstencil, either. I wasn't that enamored of Buzzle Bee, but I'm very much looking forward to the new one. I read an interview with O'Hagan once in which he said his aim was for a listener to finish the album and wonder, "Wait, were there vocals on that?" That made me smile.

jaymc (jaymc), Sunday, 7 September 2003 16:17 (sixteen years ago) link

High Llamas is purely road trip music for me at this point.. especially for road trips during the day in long stretches of farms, prairies, and rolling hills. "Hawaii" and "Gideon Gaye" are the ultimate soundtracks to that.

donut bitch (donut), Sunday, 7 September 2003 16:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Is it me, or are The Thrills just the High Llamas without any of the interesting bits?

*aside* a guy i used to know insisted on pronouncing the High Llamas' name as if it were Welsh. Never failed to make me giggle.

Oh, and Gideon Gaye is fucking brilliant, and agreed re Hawaii's overlongness. Still ace tho. And Sean's a lovely fella.

CharlieNo4 (Charlie), Sunday, 7 September 2003 21:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Has anyone seen O'Hagan solo? One of the best solo acoustic performances I've ever seen.

jaymc (jaymc), Sunday, 7 September 2003 21:48 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd just like to put in a word for 'Snowbug'.

Momus (Momus), Sunday, 7 September 2003 23:40 (sixteen years ago) link

I've just listened to Gideon Gaye for the first time in years and it's kind of boring. ):

N. (nickdastoor), Sunday, 7 September 2003 23:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Expertly played, wonderfully arranged, beautifully recorded elevator music.

Sean (Sean), Sunday, 7 September 2003 23:59 (sixteen years ago) link

i too like what he's done for stereolab, but i bought Hawaiia and am still waiting for the first wave

of course living in new zealand means you don't need drippy soundtracks to evoke the beach, the surf, the sun, warmth etc.. so perhaps this is music for northern hemisphere conditions

(oh, that didn't stop me liking Fennessz Endless Summer, but that record is a quantum leap from Hawaiia, the latter a record with too many theatrics and not much content, ie songs, ideas, & w/out the wit of stereolab or the almost visceral Fennessz)

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 8 September 2003 01:07 (sixteen years ago) link

hawaii can be kinda oppressive and one-note if one hears it all at once. it's OK to put on in the background and forget about it. one plus: in the USA, it came with a bonus disk which had the very nice "it might as well be dumbo" and a good cover of nick drake's "at the chime of a city clock."

gideon gaye is perfect winter's time music, i found. perfect for when yer snowed in, can't get outdoors, and all you can do is watch the snow pile up against yer window and drink warm tea. which might be the point. and it was made for some ridiculously low amount of money (like $10K?) if i remember correctly, which makes it even more of an achievement.

Tad (llamasfur), Monday, 8 September 2003 02:26 (sixteen years ago) link

i like snowbug. i thought buzzle bee was not much good, except for "the passing bell." only listened to new album once--not impressed, but will give it a second go.

seanp (seanp), Monday, 8 September 2003 16:57 (sixteen years ago) link

'snowbug' is the only one I own, I like it fine.

RJG (RJG), Monday, 8 September 2003 16:58 (sixteen years ago) link

for me "hawaii" is a beautiful record & their best.

the couple of times i've seen them live were among the best shows i've ever seen by anyone.

Dallas Yertle (Dallas Yertle), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 08:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd just like to agree with Harvey (and Nicky) and thanks Harve for that link.

Tim (Tim), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 09:26 (sixteen years ago) link

nobody's mentioned 'Apricots'? I kinda like it. Much more starightforwatd sardonic pop in the Steely Dan/Squeeze vein. I think they lost it after 'Buzzy Bee' or whatever it was called. Meandered down the avenue marked 'Kraut-surf'.

laticsmon, Tuesday, 9 September 2003 10:52 (sixteen years ago) link

They are dire except for some of Gideon Gaye which is just about tolerable. Hawaii is one of the worst records I've ever heard.

Microdisney's 1st album (what's it called 'Everybody is Fantastic' or something?)is utterly classic - once or twice a year I'm convinced that 'Sun' might just be the *best thing ever*. Possibly the best lyrics too.

I loved the songs on 'Clock Came Down...' but prefer the Peel versions of 'Loftholdingswood' etc etc. All great stuff. I didn't really like the last couple of MD albums and The Fatima Mansions were almost as bad as the High Llamas.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 12:35 (sixteen years ago) link

fatima mansions are crap. the only microdisney stuff i've heard is 'gale force wind' and 'town to town' which are both great despite their hideous 80s production

the surface noise (electricsound), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 12:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Both the Fatima Mansions and the High Llamas win my approval, but I've never once been tempted to search out Microdisney.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 13:51 (sixteen years ago) link

You wouldn't like them Ned.

Tim (Tim), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 14:04 (sixteen years ago) link

B-but Ned likes EVERYTHING.

Dr. C (Dr. C), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 14:08 (sixteen years ago) link

No he doesn't.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 14:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I was about to say.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 15:24 (sixteen years ago) link

High Llamas - Have their moments. Search "Travel", their first (?) single which is as sweet an example of ba-ba-ba pop as I know.

Fatima Mansions - have a few more moments, one or two per record and pretty much the whole of Bertie's Brochures is good.

Microdisney - have even more moments, their last album I always think of as a lost classic but I only have it on a tape that doesn't work anymore so this may be nostalgia talking. "Rack" is my favourite song by them FWIW.

Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 15:35 (sixteen years ago) link

There are moments on Gideon Gaye where I hear myself saying 'This is what the Beach Boys were aspiring to.'

Daniel (dancity), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 21:46 (sixteen years ago) link

And then you hear a croaky voice in the background saying "And if it wasn't for that pesky meddling Mike Love I would have got away with it too! Oh, and the drugs."

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 9 September 2003 22:19 (sixteen years ago) link

Duassic! They have their moments, but on the whole don't offer much.

I always wanted to get hold of the tapes of the material Sean O'Hagen was arranging for Brian Wilson and Andy Paley, has anyone ever heard these tracks (or knows where I can get them from?)

Chewshabadoo (Chewshabadoo), Wednesday, 10 September 2003 00:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't think Sean ever actually got round to recording with the Beach Boys. The plan -Bruce's plan- was to record a "reunion" LP with Brian/Carl/Al/Mike/Bruce using Brian's Paley/Wilson collaborations as the songs, produced and arranged by Sean. Bruce was (is?) apparently a huge fan of the Llamas. Sean was obviously very excited about the prospect, but it didn't take long before he was put off by the endless bickering & layers of red tape he had to wade through, not to mention Mike's snide-y "you're a faggot"-style comments. So he jumped ship not long after, and who can blame him? Shame, it would have been a very very good record indeed.

Chew: if you don't have the Paley/Wilson demos, email off board & I'll see what I can do. Patchy, but moments of greatness.

harveyw (harveyw), Wednesday, 10 September 2003 11:49 (sixteen years ago) link

i was gonna say, didn't mike love call sean o'hagan a "faggot" or something? why does the good Lord keep mike love alive, but lets folks like warren zevon die (not that i was a big fan of mr. zevon's music, but he was certainly a better human being than mike love is).

Tad (llamasfur), Thursday, 11 September 2003 05:37 (sixteen years ago) link

i just bought Cold and Bouncy for US$2 found in a bargain bin, and i'm just listening to it now.
the songs sound drippy lazy like Hawaii a bit, but all those synth noises/ kraftwerk samples, they seem to be much more foreground, and perhaps as the foil for the strings, and i think they actually inter-chime with the muzak-like ambience in quite interesting ways. the noises are performing a dance with the lush otherness and hopefully they'll save the album from that.

i like stereolab for the synths, bass, drums, horns, strings, disco, more synths, vocals, guitar, probably in that order, but at least all at once
i can see now that 'lab had the tunes and rhyhtms, while o'hagan provided plenty of atmosphere. since there's only so much from the 'lab and i dunno, maybe that's it anyway, which would be very sad as i think they were going in a great new direction, having somewhat jettisoned the guitar rock or at least made it sound like something other than guitar rock, the tragic forced exit of some of the bubble-vocals would make for an interesting album made more of semi-instrumentals i reckon.

anyway i can hear all those noises on this later llamas record, and if the songs themselves make me think of paul mccartney, with all the best intentions and hand-picked band etc. etc., this makes me think that the greatest music from these guys does still boil down to the mandatory good harmonic tune, so i think the llamas-lab axis should continue, with all those noises included. maybe a new band, tripartite songwriting.

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 18 September 2003 19:58 (sixteen years ago) link

george i couldn't agree with you more.

gygax! (gygax!), Thursday, 18 September 2003 20:37 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Damn, there were vocals on that?! ;)

Just bought Beet, Maize & Corn. Just finished listening and it seems like I just put it on. Beautifully done background music. Emphasis on background. To give it some credit, I think it would make for great baby-making music. It evokes springtime to a T.

Francis Watlington (Francis Watlington), Saturday, 25 October 2003 16:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Thankfully, it's only 40 mins. long!

Francis Watlington (Francis Watlington), Saturday, 25 October 2003 16:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Classic, especially the swishy meanders through Cold and Bouncy and Snowbug. And because my first date with my future wife was at a High Llamas performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum's LATER night !

darren (darren), Sunday, 26 October 2003 19:54 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
Has anyone else heard Beet, Maize, and Corn? I'm thinking about seeing them live at the end of Feb., but I haven't heard the new material yet. Is it worth picking up? I have to admit, when I heard that the drums and electronics were almost entirely absent, I became wary, but jeez, I'm listening to the Beach Boys' Smile right now and loving it...

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 23 January 2004 20:33 (sixteen years ago) link

I was thinking about this too; they're playing the Troubadour ...

dean! (deangulberry), Friday, 23 January 2004 21:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Beet, Maize, and Corn is great.. for those of you who missed the days of Gideon Gaye and Hawaii... which I did.. sorely.

If O'Hagan brings a small orchestra with him, I'll gladly hop along and see the Llamas when/if they come to town. I saw them many years tour for "Hawaii", and it was absolutely amazing. Later, I saw them tour for "Cold and Bouncy" and it was... well, not amazing.

donut bitch (donut), Friday, 23 January 2004 21:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Beet, Maize & Corn is the new "Skylarking" with bossanova bits.

wuperetta, Saturday, 24 January 2004 00:23 (sixteen years ago) link

"Beet, Maize & Corn" is fantastic... beautifully wistful stuff. I do think a pared-down, live instrument sound is most effective for them, although "Snowbug" (tinged with exotica that one) is excellent and the best of their previous 3 records. BM&C actually seems the most subtle, refined HLs album since "Gideon Gaye" and is possibly even more cohesive (and a very concise 40 minutes) than that. A regretful, very English sound this time... must be a lot to do with the mournful brass.

*Highly recommended*.

Tom May (Tom May), Wednesday, 28 January 2004 01:32 (sixteen years ago) link

but.his.voice... love the instrumentals but i really have nothing but contempt for that paper-thin voice.

gygax! (gygax!), Wednesday, 28 January 2004 01:38 (sixteen years ago) link

I think it works well in context; certainly does it little harm. His very undemonstrative voice is really part of that singular High Llamas sound.

Tom May (Tom May), Wednesday, 28 January 2004 01:41 (sixteen years ago) link

hey, i liked cold and bouncy!

Eisbär (llamasfur), Wednesday, 28 January 2004 01:42 (sixteen years ago) link

"Cold & Bouncy" is certainly good at least, but not really that consistent. Not quite as beguiling as (the admittedly also inconsistent, overlong) "Hawaii", as far as I recall.

Tom May (Tom May), Wednesday, 28 January 2004 02:11 (sixteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
I just felt tempted to throw on "Might As Well Be Dumbo", the (aforementioned) lead track on the Hawaii bonus track -- and it's fantastic. No thin voice, no indebted arrangments or anything -- just a really swell melody. Think I'll play it again...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 16 October 2004 02:37 (fifteen years ago) link

'Beet, Maize and Corn' was totally my soundtrack for Autumn '03. Time to dig that disc out again, I think. It really works most splendidly against a backdrop of red and gold leaves.

retort pouch (retort pouch), Saturday, 16 October 2004 02:55 (fifteen years ago) link

'Hawaii' made my wife fly into a rage. Something about the slowness and repetition of it really got on her tits.

retort pouch (retort pouch), Saturday, 16 October 2004 03:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Wow! Needless to say, it's...not really that kind of record. Interesting.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 16 October 2004 03:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, really. I was surprised at the violence of her reaction to it. I should play some Brian Eno for her, just to see what happens.

retort pouch (retort pouch), Saturday, 16 October 2004 03:17 (fifteen years ago) link

'Beet Maize and Corn' is beautiful.

definitely a favorite disc of mine.

reo, Saturday, 16 October 2004 03:32 (fifteen years ago) link

They have a good album and you fools haven't touched on it. It's called Buzzle Bee. Beets Maize & Corn is boring.

god of rock, Saturday, 16 October 2004 04:22 (fifteen years ago) link

i hold every wrong opinion re: HL

utterly classic
search: almost everything, *especially* Buzzle Bee, think S O'Hagen was the 2nd best thing that ever happened to Stereolab,(John McEntire being the 1st- wrong wrong wrong)
destroy: Gideon Gaye

and the student has become the teacher - Brian who?
-said for effect

tremendoid, Saturday, 16 October 2004 04:27 (fifteen years ago) link

Gideon Gaye's pretty good, you should give it another shot.

hstencil (hstencil), Saturday, 16 October 2004 04:28 (fifteen years ago) link

I will, actually - I sold GG a long time ago(gave it a good chance when I had it, however)

tremendoid, Saturday, 16 October 2004 04:45 (fifteen years ago) link

Buzzle Bee? Ugh, that's so not their best work.

jaymc, Saturday, 16 October 2004 07:21 (fifteen years ago) link

think S O'Hagen was the 2nd best thing that ever happened to Stereolab

this i agree with, Sean's arrangement work is by far is greatest strength, and he's feckin good at it. Buzzle Bee is no more or less dull than most of the HLs stuff.

the surface noise (slight return) (electricsound), Saturday, 16 October 2004 07:26 (fifteen years ago) link

"Giddy And Gay" and "Checkin In And Checking Out" were excellent songs. They have their moments otherwise too, but way too often they seem stuck in the elevator with Ray Conniff and James Last.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 16 October 2004 15:28 (fifteen years ago) link

jaymc, grow ears--it so is their best. The rest of their crap before it is boring wannabe Beach Boys snooze, and everything else is just unlistenable, like a baby playing with a synthesizer. Maybe interesting when it came out but it hasn't aged well.

god of rock, Saturday, 16 October 2004 17:02 (fifteen years ago) link

The first track on Santa Barbara is fantastic Steely-fun, as I recall...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 16 October 2004 19:19 (fifteen years ago) link

two years pass...
New record: Feb 20. "Can Cladders." Looks like it is 'out there'- anybody heard it?

bangelo (bangelo), Thursday, 25 January 2007 22:35 (thirteen years ago) link

I got me a promo--it is fantastic! Obviously, there are great string arrangements and beautiful melodies galore--the main difference this time around is the addition of some soulful female backup vocals, which work surprisingly well. Very nice. I love this band.

Tyler W (tylerw), Thursday, 25 January 2007 23:18 (thirteen years ago) link

Do you know who sings those backup vocals? I just listened to an mp3 on the Drag City site.

jaymc (jaymc), Thursday, 25 January 2007 23:33 (thirteen years ago) link

No one I've heard of:
Winnie Asmah, Tania Degale, Sylvia Arthur, Kelsey Michael are the credits on the liners.
There's also some very nice harp work (and a shout out to Dorothy Ashby!)

Tyler W (tylerw), Thursday, 25 January 2007 23:40 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Good album, though I haven't heard much of them since perhaps 'Snowbug'.
'The Old Spring Town' is really beautiful.

zeus, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 14:07 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm pretty sure Kelsey Michael has contributed to several Llamas albums.

jaymc, Tuesday, 6 March 2007 14:26 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

Has anyone here heard the Musical Wheel thing that Sean O'Hagan put together with some French artist? The soundtrack for La Vie D'Artiste last year was excellent, so I imagine this is just as inspired/interesting:

teflon monkey, Monday, 23 June 2008 20:39 (twelve years ago) link

two years pass...

It's probably a D&L thing but Cold & Bouncy has bullied its way into my very being. I accept that I have little/no taste but bugger it.

TS: Toad of Toad Hall v Wobbie of Wobbies World (Autumn Almanac), Friday, 22 October 2010 11:58 (nine years ago) link

I've always loved Buzzle Bee.

corey, Friday, 22 October 2010 14:07 (nine years ago) link

three months pass...

new one: Talahomi Way, out 4/19/11.

tylerw, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:19 (nine years ago) link


Sean O'Hagan is a genius IMO. Creates worlds with his music. It's not so much about the songwriting to me.

mjqjazzjbar (teflon monkey), Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:32 (nine years ago) link

yeah, the albums are wonderful sonic journeys -- dunno if o'hagen has written a ton of great "songs", but he's a master at (like you say) creating little worlds.

tylerw, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:39 (nine years ago) link

I view him in the tradition of like Penguin Cafe Orchestra. It's music that takes you away, gliding over the sea, wandering through snow valleys. Just really strikes the right chord with me, plus he does great work for other bands.

I think when he has written actual "songs," he's done a great job. "Put Yourself Down" on the first High Llamas album is something I go back to often and I think Can Cladders could be considered the most song-oriented album he's done since the early days. I enjoyed that one immensely.

mjqjazzjbar (teflon monkey), Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:42 (nine years ago) link

Psyched for this even though I thought Can Cladders wasn't as good as it could have been.

Moodles, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:45 (nine years ago) link

i thought can cladders deserved a little more attention than it got. my fave is still gideon gaye, but i don't think they've made a bad album yet.

tylerw, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:46 (nine years ago) link

Anyone check out the latest soundtrack, the Copacabana OST with Tim Gane? I enjoyed it. Pretty insubstantial and sounds about what you'd expect it to sound like, but I'm fond of that niche so it's been one I come back to.

Album art for the new one is on here:

mjqjazzjbar (teflon monkey), Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:49 (nine years ago) link

i'd like to hear that sdtk, but haven't gotten around to it.
in case anyone's interested i interviewed o'hagan around the time of can cladders:

tylerw, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 18:53 (nine years ago) link

I have a major soft spot for '90s High Llamas albums, but I feel like everything they've done in the past decade has suffered from diminishing returns. As a fan, I'll still listen to the new album, but I guess I just don't expect anything from them anymore.

Tyler/Perry's "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" (jaymc), Wednesday, 26 January 2011 19:04 (nine years ago) link

Fantastic news. Excited. Love everything they've done.

Touch of Death, Friday, 28 January 2011 01:29 (nine years ago) link

four weeks pass...

Love the art.

mjqjazzjbar (teflon monkey), Friday, 25 February 2011 20:48 (nine years ago) link

I always find with the Llamas that their albums sound a much of a muchness until I've had them on a few times, and then suddenly it clicks and it becomes as essential as anyone else they've ever done. I've never understood the "lift muzak" accusation.

I think "Sailing Bells" and "Honeytrap" off Can Cladders might be my two favourite tracks of theirs. Perfect music to walk home to on a summer evening.

Pheeel, Saturday, 26 February 2011 11:03 (nine years ago) link

It's music of subtle complexity. On the surface, it might sound that way. But as I've become a bigger fan over the years, I've grown accustomed to Sean's arrangements and my expectations of hearing expertly layered music that comes with this otherworldly atmosphere is always met.

mjqjazzjbar (teflon monkey), Saturday, 26 February 2011 15:36 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

wow, this new one's really good, nice and tuneful. my favorite since buzzle bee

reggie (qualmsley), Thursday, 31 March 2011 13:17 (nine years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Sold my copy of Santa Barbara years ago, but I'm listening to clips on Amazon right now and I'm surprised how well (and fondly!) I remember all of these songs. They never did anything else that sounded like this, did they? I guess Gideon Gaye would come closest... (Sorry to revive and not mention the new album. The cover art is nice.)

Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Tuesday, 19 April 2011 18:18 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

Nope, can't think of anything like it, but Can Cladders is probably the poppiest thing he's done in ages.

i-i (teflon monkey), Thursday, 26 May 2011 00:57 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

"I don't believe them (Radiohead) for a second. I'm not vehemently down on them, as I am say Oasis, but I hate the way that that record ( O.K. Computer ) is supposed to be the greatest record of all time and so radical. I don't think there's anything radical about what they do. They're careful, well-honed cliches. The perfect marketing tool and I think those things need to be exposed. I mean I hate to sound so bitchy about it, but I think it's incumbent upon people to make that point".


afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 6 March 2013 20:08 (seven years ago) link

Word Sean otm! I always knew Yorke was just a mediocre art student jerkoff. Yeah being a fucking bos-eyed twat might get you laid ... hmmm maybe an album of this type zzzzzzzzzz...... Contribution to modern music = 0 Radiohead fucking boredom deathray pulverising my head in the 90's = 100000000

Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Wednesday, 6 March 2013 21:44 (seven years ago) link

The audacity of Sean O'Hagan to call something out for being a 'careful, well-honed cliche' is quite frankly obscene

insert witticism here (hypehat), Wednesday, 6 March 2013 21:54 (seven years ago) link

Yeah that was my first thought too. I like some High Llamas now and again (especially Hawaii) but they're hardly the most original band ever.

Kitchen Person, Wednesday, 6 March 2013 22:02 (seven years ago) link

I guess the difference is that the High Llamas wear their well-honed cliches on their sleeves.

Moodles, Wednesday, 6 March 2013 22:12 (seven years ago) link

The difference is that the High Llamas actually have some great songs.

Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Wednesday, 6 March 2013 23:22 (seven years ago) link

I think Cold and Bouncy is extremely progressive music.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 7 March 2013 15:09 (seven years ago) link

Look, I love the High Llamas, but O'Hagan's being dumb there.

jaymc, Thursday, 7 March 2013 15:15 (seven years ago) link

I really, really, really loved their last one.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 7 March 2013 15:56 (seven years ago) link

five months pass...

So this is the "musical performance before it becomes an album" he alluded to:

Sean At The End Of The Road Festival.Woodland Library
01 September 2013

Sean is delighted to play a ,very early set , 11.30 on Sunday morning ,in the Woodland Library section at the festival. It will include a reading from a new new piece of narrative work called Here come The Rattling Trees.So its a solo performance with a literary edge set in a library created for the festival in the woods.... magical. Any one around at the time of the morning ? If you are please come along and make a great start to the day!!

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 15:49 (six years ago) link

sounds cool, are you going? i'd be into hearing an o'hagan solo performance -- do tapes of such things exist?

tylerw, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 16:04 (six years ago) link

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 16:23 (six years ago) link

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 16:24 (six years ago) link

thanks! these are great.

tylerw, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 16:35 (six years ago) link


Moodles, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 17:01 (six years ago) link

Really wish I could hear the Pauline Detective OST. That was never released. Also thinking this might be nice:

Directed by Tsuneo Goda (director of Domo-Kun) scored by Sean O'Hagan (2013)

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 4 September 2013 17:32 (six years ago) link

i went to a fantastic o'hagan solo performance ca. 2001-02.

Geoffrey Schweppes (jaymc), Sunday, 8 September 2013 06:18 (six years ago) link

holy shit "sparkle up"

Geoffrey Schweppes (jaymc), Sunday, 8 September 2013 06:19 (six years ago) link

three months pass...

Wowie. How I wish I could've seen this

Such luxury.

Akin to getting an Indian head massage from Van Dyke Parks while playing Ludo with Rihanna and having Stephen Fry knit you burberry mittens.

Welcome To The Pleasuredome that was the Triskel Christchurch last Wednesday night. The High Llamas had us floating on lemonade rainbows, purring like tranquilised sea-lions, sporting the smiles of gameshow hosts.

The set-up was as simple as Johnny Giles’ mind. The punters were sitting happy in the pews. The band were sitting pretty on the stage. The Felix cartoons unfolded on a giant screen behind the stage. The music and cartoons merged in a feast for the eyes, Tiramisu for the ears; plush and luminous in lush and pluminous ways.

The five feline Felix flights of fancy were easy to sum up: Chameleon cat gets in a pickle – has a bright idea – uses tail as a switchblade or a mosquito net – sticks it to The Man – everybody hurrahs – end credits.

The soundtrack cannot be summed up with words. A contented sigh fits better… Aaaaah…

Once more for the non-believers… Aaaaah…


When you knew the night couldn’t possibly be improved upon, The High Llamas played a twenty minute set from their peerless back catalogue.

Pigeon-headed people would put them in a “lounge music/easy listening pop” pigeon hole. Feed the birds poisoned bread ‘cos The High Llamas make glorious, clever, perfect music. ‘Triads’, ‘Bach Ze’, ‘Woven & Rolled’, ‘Rotary Hop’ were played. A clutch of classics: side 2 of Pet Sounds mixed with meringue dubstep and a dash of oblique Tropicalia.

Sean O’Hagan may be a tad greyer around the temples than back in his mighty Microdisney days but his ability to wring winning, ringing melodies from his guitar remains undiminished. If there’s a finer guitarist alive I’ll lick the leaves from their heart-shaped swimming-pool wearing a polka-dot toga.

Kudos to Cork Film Festival for being able to arrange such a magnificent show. Gratitude to the Triskel for being the greatest arts venue in Ireland. Plaudits to Felix for being funnier than Family Guy.

Love to The High Llamas for being.

Why is there no footage?? :(

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 18:39 (six years ago) link

This has an excerpt of a song fromm the play.

afriendlypioneer, Sunday, 22 December 2013 23:05 (six years ago) link


PaulTMA, Monday, 23 December 2013 16:03 (six years ago) link

nah they're great. in lieu of new music from them, some of the recent Arp album kinda scratched the high llamas itch this year:

tylerw, Monday, 23 December 2013 16:07 (six years ago) link

I forgive you, Paul.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 23 December 2013 16:27 (six years ago) link

four months pass...

The band is petered to play which leads us to believe a giddy-mellow resonance will permeate throughout the evenings' bopping festivities. Following a one-off in the New Age town of Hebden Bridge, The High Llamas will perform original music to 5 Felix The Cat films live at the Sheffield Doc/Fest on June 15th! What does the future hold for the High Llamas? More music, more music, of course! Their new musical narrative, Here Come The Rattling Trees, is being recorded and will debut live/theatrically sometime in the near future; til then, grab tickets to see them live for the first time in an age, long live High Llamas!

4/25/14 The Islington London United Kingdom

5/3/14 The Islington London United Kingdom

6/7/14 The Trades Club Hebden Bridge United Kingdom

6/15/14 Sheffield Documentary Festival Sheffield United Kingdom

I'd really like to see the Felix the Cat performance.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 16 May 2014 14:04 (six years ago) link

two months pass...

afriendlypioneer, Saturday, 26 July 2014 13:55 (six years ago) link

Email to mailing list last night:

Here Come The Rattling Trees

We would like to announce that the new High Llamas release is a show called Here Come The Rattling Trees. The initial performances will be followed by a conventional physical release.

These performances will take place at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Soho, London from October 20th to October 25th 2014. Information detailing ticket purchase will follow very shortly. We are excited by this new event in the band's existence and hope you join us in the experience.

Here Come The Rattling Trees is a new departure for us, a piece combining spoken word and music which will be performed by the band and three actors. It explores the theme of urban renewal in South London through the response of a series of characters to the rebranding of their local leisure centre. What emerges is a very contemporary tale. New songs, and a brand new score.

New 7" Single on Ghost Box

Sean O'Hagan has joined Jon Brooks from The Advisory Circle to release a single on Ghost Box as part of the labels Other Voices release series. Sean and Jon collaborated on both songs , 'Calibair' and 'Mulclair'.

The record can purchased from Ghost Box as a 7" single or a download.

Jeff W, Thursday, 31 July 2014 13:26 (six years ago) link

Sounds interesting, although I'm hesitant about the "spoken word" bit.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 31 July 2014 14:41 (six years ago) link

BTW: I really can't wait to hear the collaboration with Jon Brooks. What an awesome idea. I ordered the 7", but it hasn't arrived yet.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 31 July 2014 17:01 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...

The collaboration is great. I could use an entire album like that.

And I can't get enough of this song lately:

I only recently noticed how nice the nylon string guitar sounds.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 14:16 (five years ago) link

that's definitely one of my favorites, I think Snowbug may well be their best album overall

odd proggy geezer (Moodles), Wednesday, 20 August 2014 14:50 (five years ago) link

I've never seen that video before. Is Mary Hansen pushing those moons around? I miss her so much.

odd proggy geezer (Moodles), Wednesday, 20 August 2014 14:55 (five years ago) link

I do as well. I think that she would've sounded great on Can Cladders. She always sounded great.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 15:29 (five years ago) link

Lately, my favorite Mary vocal is her bit on the second half of "Double Rocker."

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 16:20 (five years ago) link

"Long Life Love" is a really good one featuring Mary.

odd proggy geezer (Moodles), Wednesday, 20 August 2014 16:40 (five years ago) link

I won't say that he hasn't come up with lyrical passages I enjoy, but Sean has written some real bizarre duds. "Bobby's Court" is inexplicable

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 20 August 2014 17:58 (five years ago) link

I strongly recommend this if you haven't heard it

I think it's one of the most cohesive projects he has worked on

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:38 (five years ago) link

two months pass...

Found this on the High Llamas forum. No one else has written about it:

I was at the last show on Saturday. I can see the comparison with 'Say Hi...' but thought this was far superior. Coe's dialogues can be pretty cringe inducing. Sean decided to go with all monologues and the writing was fantastic throughout. Must have been a pleasure for the actors to recite. Also, I was surprised by the range of subjects/voices covered. I didn't expect a tale about getting lost while jogging in Canberra! The songs punctuate the stories within each monologue. A couple of potentials for the HL canon, inc. the title song (which was repeated as the final encore), The rest were OK. But it's not the music I took away really, more a new respect for Sean the author. :)

Never thought of Sean as a writer. I'd love to hear this.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 6 November 2014 16:34 (five years ago) link

eleven months pass...

London pastoral poppers the High Llamas haven’t released an album since 2011’s Talahomi Way, but last year their long-time label Drag City teased that the band was working on a new “musical narrative” project called Here Comes The Rattling Trees, and they’ve played a few shows around the UK throughout 2014. billed under that title. Today we’ve been given the first recorded music from the project in the form of a title track. The release is being billed as “Music From The Original Stage Production,” which means that it’s probably tracks culled from those live performances, and more performances could be coming in the future. Check out the first track and tracklist for the new record below.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 4 November 2015 15:24 (four years ago) link

randomly heard a sondre lerche track this week and thought, hey this sounds like high llamas -- and of course o'hagan did the strings.

tylerw, Wednesday, 4 November 2015 15:27 (four years ago) link

Re: "it’s probably tracks culled from those live performances"

In fact, it's the whole show reproduced in album form. Tracks titled as "(x) Recalls" are the monologues.

The song on soundcloud is good, but it's a very wispy version! The arrangement when they performed it in the show was much punchier. (Not that High Llamas recordings can often be described as 'punchy', I'll grant you)

Jeff W, Wednesday, 4 November 2015 20:23 (four years ago) link

Oh wait, track times on the Drag City website - - suggests those "Recalls" tracks are very short.

So, not the whole monologue :(

Jeff W, Wednesday, 4 November 2015 20:28 (four years ago) link

I'm disappointed it'll be five years since the excellent Talahomi Way and all we're getting is what looks like a pretty short soundtrack. I really like the song, though. It's nice to hear Sean reign it in sometimes. I guess the actual narrative is actually pretty good, then? I've found little about it online.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 5 November 2015 14:34 (four years ago) link

two months pass...

looks like this is coming out this week

Check Yr Scrobbles (Moodles), Wednesday, 20 January 2016 14:41 (four years ago) link

I bought it. It's really, really nice, but only 28 minutes long. :'(

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 22 January 2016 22:18 (four years ago) link

So there's no dialogue from the play at all? That's disappointing, I was hoping to get at least a flavour of what it was like.

It's a bit like the problem I had with Scott Walker's "And Who Shall Go To The Ball...", in that it's difficult to appreciate as a whole piece of work due to a crucial part being missing.

Pheeel, Saturday, 23 January 2016 16:07 (four years ago) link

seven months pass...

"go to montecito" is secretly the best track on snowbug.

jaymc, Saturday, 27 August 2016 05:07 (three years ago) link

harpers romo, cookie bay, the american scene, janet jangle. o'hagan's melodies have never since been quite as accomplished imo.

Autumn Almanac, Saturday, 27 August 2016 08:19 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

Can Cladders and Talahomi Way are two of their strongest albums. Ive been playing them to death in between Stereolab sessions. The addition of the soulful backing vocals really gives the Cladders songs some needed life and the arrangements on Talahomi are to die for...

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:15 (three years ago) link

His inability to write a hook or a memorable song is overstated on this forum. Yeah, Gideon Gaye was probably his strongest set of traditional songs, but I think he's had a lot of decent melodies up his sleeve all along.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:16 (three years ago) link

Sean performed a Basil Kirchin tribute the other night with a group that included Tim Gane.

They recorded at least one song, which pops up at 55:30. It's an original.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:25 (three years ago) link

Just noticed HL remixed a track from the Rundgren/Lindstrøm Runddans collaboration. First listen makes me think it's kind of inspired – Rundgren has always loved the Beach Boys but it's rarely materialized in his music. This takes one of the poppiest pieces from a very proggy record andsome of the background vox Rundgren recorded that got buried in the final mix and does a little Gold Star treatment with them. Pretty neat.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:37 (three years ago) link

I love Sean's remixes.

Completely rebuilt that song.

I hear an element of a fairly famous tropicalia song I can't put my finger on.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:56 (three years ago) link

recent live show here -- glad they are still at it.
just gave can cladders a listen last weekend randomly — still a really strong album! the backup singers are a nice touch.

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:58 (three years ago) link

By the way, that Alexander Von Mehren album is very good if you're a Stereolab/Llamas fan.

Thanks for the link, tyler.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:03 (three years ago) link

CLASSIC just for influence on Cobra and Phases

flappy bird, Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:05 (three years ago) link

There was a lot of disdain for his influence on the group in one of the many Stereolab threads. :(

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:06 (three years ago) link

More than just an influence, O'Hagan performed or provided arrangements on most of Stereolab's albums

Al Moon Faced Poon (Moodles), Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:09 (three years ago) link

i think o'hagan + stereolab is usually successful ... and i love the hansen/sadier vocals on snowbug.

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:13 (three years ago) link

just LOLd at this classic early pitchfork review:

tylerw, Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:13 (three years ago) link

Yep, and still actively collaborates with tim. even played piano on a cavern of antimatter track or two. He's clearly been favored by Tim for a long time, or is it the other way around...

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:13 (three years ago) link

SeanO did the strings on this song. lol

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 21:46 (three years ago) link

Well, he does on the original. That's not the original.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 23 February 2017 21:48 (three years ago) link


Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Thursday, 23 February 2017 22:25 (three years ago) link

Stereolab reminds me of 1997
In a good way

calstars, Thursday, 23 February 2017 22:41 (three years ago) link

Turrican, ever the buzzkill

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 24 February 2017 00:12 (three years ago) link

Couple of new remixes by Sean & Tim.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 24 February 2017 15:09 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

Interesting interview w/ Sean, mostly questions about his work with other bands and artists. It's fairly long.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 12 April 2017 21:26 (three years ago) link

Interesting that he feels like he doesn't take enough chances with the Llamas material

Moodles, Wednesday, 12 April 2017 22:06 (three years ago) link

I love how when he hums & sings during the interview, he sounds nothing like he does in his own music. It's a much more gravelly, normal voice, rather than that airy, kind of flat voice we're all used to.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 13 April 2017 20:17 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

Just found out about this album. Came out a couple months ago. It's very, very good:

The rough guitar sketches he sent to O'Hagan earned beautifully detailed string arrangements, eventually forming the basis of this beautifully crafted collection. As a creative foil to Lancellotti's soothing yet ambitious approach, O'Hagan is a perfect fit, enhancing instrumental tracks like the lilting title cut and the gorgeous "Árvores" with exquisitely rendered string parts that seem both featherlight and absolutely essential. As on previous releases, both Kassin and Veloso also return to help out, the former adding sitar, guitars, and synth to the mysterious "Aracne" and the latter singing and co-writing the breezy highlight "Tudo ao Redor." For his part, Lancellotti remains the captain here, singing, arranging, playing a multitude of instruments, and turning out challenging avant-garde pop on "Asas" and sunny samba rhythms on "Insatiable," and crooning over eerie synths on the magical "Dama da Noite." The Good Is a Big God may be a lofty album rich in layers, details, and rhythms, yet it never flaunts its ambition. Lancellotti is a master of subtlety, gracefully melding his own attributes with the strengths of others to great effect on this excellent sophomore outing.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 9 July 2018 19:50 (two years ago) link

Thanks for the tip, checking this out right now

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Monday, 9 July 2018 20:16 (two years ago) link

Did you notice Seano started a new website recently?

There are some audio clips on the 'Music in Art' page that I need to check out.

Jeff W, Monday, 9 July 2018 20:16 (two years ago) link

That Basil Kirchin track is part of an album that I believe is either being worked on or completely finished. I heard one track and thought it was phenomenal.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 9 July 2018 20:20 (two years ago) link

This Lancellotti album is nice. "Asas" has a monster groove.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Monday, 9 July 2018 20:36 (two years ago) link

There's even a song where Sean takes lead vocals. Sounds totally Llamas. The instrumentals sound heavily influenced by Sean as well.

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 10 July 2018 20:46 (two years ago) link

Sean O'Hagan - The Peacock Hunter
Sean O’Hagan has spent 30 years in music as a performer and writer, first as the co-founder of Microdisney in the 1980s, then as the founder of the still current High Llamas as well as being a part time member of Stereolab. Sean has made a living as an arranger, in film, art and event writing. In 2014 Sean wrote a staged musical narrative called Here Come The Rattling Trees set in Peckham, his home for 30 years. Here Come The Rattling Trees is now the High Llamas's 10th studio LP. In 2017 Sean was commissioned by Hull City of Culture 2017 to write We Start Counting, a tribute to Basil Kirchin.

The Peacock Hunter, the show which will be performed this evening, takes you on an impressionistic trip from a Coventry production line to the last days of a collapsing Middle Eastern dynasty, using original music and text and archive images. Music written and performed by Sean O'Hagan, Marcus Holdaway, and Dominic Murcott, with text written and delivered by Liam McNeive. Liam McNeive has originated or collaborated in various musical and filmic creations, including a BBC-produced virtual reality world.

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 18:36 (two years ago) link

Looks fun!

Jeff W, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:23 (two years ago) link

Tickets have gone on sale now too

stet, Tuesday, 31 July 2018 15:40 (two years ago) link

two months pass...

Peacock show is on Saturday.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 21:29 (one year ago) link

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 21:30 (one year ago) link

I thought I’d bought a ticket but seems like I hadn’t! Glad there are some left.

stet, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 22:17 (one year ago) link

I can't wait to hear how it goes.

I wonder if this is connected to the Basil Kirchin project they were working on.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 11 October 2018 16:45 (one year ago) link

Ta for the reminder, I was planning to go to this and nearly forgot. Herne Hill's a mainline service as well so coming from Luton I've no excuse, the train comes practically right to the door of the venue.

Brainless Addlepated Timid Muddleheaded Awful No-Account (Pheeel), Friday, 12 October 2018 17:27 (one year ago) link

Sean vs The Banging Door and Sean vs The Hand Drier = one for the ages

Jeff W, Sunday, 14 October 2018 09:08 (one year ago) link

Seriously though, a great show in a lovely venue (the above mentioned drawbacks notwithstanding). The Peacock Hunter bears no relation at all to We Start Counting (the Kirchin project), it's much closer to Here Come The Rattling Trees in terms of structure, but with a single story arc rather than a series of loosely linked narratives.

Jeff W, Sunday, 14 October 2018 09:15 (one year ago) link

I wonder what planning lunacy led to the toilets being directly behind the stage area, it was farcical. I genuinely thought Sean was going to kick off when they had to stop Bramble Black, he must've been fuming.

Lovely set though apart from the "technical issues", glad to've caught it.

Brainless Addlepated Timid Muddleheaded Awful No-Account (Pheeel), Sunday, 14 October 2018 14:15 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

Magical show by @mercuryrevvd at Oslo. Exquisite versions of tracks from Deserter’s Songs, a cover of Here by Pavement and a quite staggering surprise guest appearance of Sean O’Hagan to lead them through Checking In Checking Out by The High Llamas. Incredible night.

— Steven Johnson (@_SPJ_) December 18, 2018


afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 19 December 2018 10:47 (one year ago) link

very nice, that song sounds like it was pulled directly off of Pretzel Logic

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Wednesday, 19 December 2018 16:28 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Fuuuck, I hoped that was going to be a video. Wonder if anyone thought to record it?

Also I had no idea Sean and the Rev boys had collaborated before, many years ago, on a cover of I Only Have Eyes For You

Brainless Addlepated Timid Muddleheaded Awful No-Account (Pheeel), Thursday, 24 January 2019 21:09 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Amazing how you just keep uncovering things as you trudge along the net:

Anyone ever heard this song 'Shang'? Sounds brilliant. Sean doing vocals.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 21 March 2019 20:32 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

There it is. Soooo good.

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 16 April 2019 18:50 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Sean O'Hagan is unjustly despised on this site.

He's a fuckin' genius.

Been going through h the entire Llamas discography and aside from the not very good solo debut and the middling Santa Barbara, it's just delight after delight. Every album its own little universe, a mini masterpiece after another. It's breathtaking.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 2 August 2019 14:46 (one year ago) link

Wait, who despises him? I don't think I've ever read anything negative about him on here.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 2 August 2019 15:49 (one year ago) link

There are a couple Stereolab threads where the comments on him are overwhelmingly negative.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 2 August 2019 17:18 (one year ago) link

1. Here are some drawings from a new video/animation I was asked to make for former @High_Llamas frontman and songwriter Sean O’Hagan @seano_arsenal. This for the first single from the ‘Radum Calls, Radum Calls’ album on @dragcityrecords (25/10/2019)... #animation

— Paperface (@paperfacetweet) August 13, 2019

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 15:16 (one year ago) link

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 15:24 (one year ago) link

Sean's second solo album in 30 years reflects the bold new sounds of today embedded in the plush sound-world he's built for The High Llamas, Stereolab and many others – thick low end synths under light orchestra strings, dubby percussion atop bossa-nova beats and rumbling drum sounds driving Sean's tounge-in-cheek ditties. Guest vocals from former Microdisney partner, vocalist Cathal Coughlan add to the surreal bloom of Sean’s new musical conception.

Woah @ Cathal.

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 16:44 (one year ago) link

There’s at least one song from The Peacock Hunter on the album, judging from the track titles on the DC website.

Jeff W, Tuesday, 13 August 2019 23:42 (one year ago) link

I wonder who actually plays on this record. It sounds like The High Llamas. I only recently started appreciating Jon Fell’s Bass work. It’s extraordinary.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 01:29 (one year ago) link

Yeah, I don't exactly get how he distinguishes his solo stuff from High Llamas exactly. It's a bit of a weird track, but maybe a bit more adventurous than some of the stuff he's done in recent years. Looking forward to the album.

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 02:01 (one year ago) link

There’s at least one song from The Peacock Hunter on the album, judging from the track titles on the DC website.

― Jeff W, Wednesday, August 14, 2019 12:42 AM (seven hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

I hope the full Peacock Hunter material is destined for a separate release, as I thought that was some of the best stuff he's done in years.

Brainless Addlepated Timid Muddleheaded Awful No-Account (Pheeel), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 07:40 (one year ago) link

I love O'Hagan, he's done some incredible stuff over the years. Snowbug is one of the greatest summer albums ever made by anybody.

He seems like a nice bloke too.

does it look like i'm here (jon123), Wednesday, 14 August 2019 12:22 (one year ago) link

He also did a Basil Kirchin tribute a couple years ago. What I heard online sounded incredible. The music was original, but influenced by, aside from a cover of “I Start Counting” with Jane Weaver on vocals. Too good not to record.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 14 August 2019 14:16 (one year ago) link

i was graced with a promo copy

it's incredible

first track is a pretty weird 'psychedelic' song with cathal coughlan on lead vox

i love it when sean breaks out the synths. he always gets the best sounds out of them.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 19 August 2019 14:18 (eleven months ago) link

This album is ridiculously good. Like best in years. Why'd they give it such an unassuming cover?

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 19:01 (eleven months ago) link

two months pass...

Good review. Comes close to my initial thoughts:

Sean's definitely on his own track and continues to make wonderful music.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 23 October 2019 16:20 (nine months ago) link

He just canceled a bunch of shows because of 'health issues.'


afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 24 October 2019 17:36 (nine months ago) link

What shows?

Michael Oliver of Penge Wins £5 (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 October 2019 17:41 (nine months ago) link

From what I understand, everything.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 24 October 2019 17:44 (nine months ago) link

I was just about to buy a ticket for one of them!

Michael Oliver of Penge Wins £5 (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 October 2019 18:22 (nine months ago) link

Yeah. I am bummed out. The new album is great. I am happy he got to release a quality LP under his own name. That first Sean O' album is not one of my favs.

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 24 October 2019 18:43 (nine months ago) link

Get well soon Sean O'Hagan @seano_arsenal

— J. John Foyle (@JJohnFoyle) October 22, 2019

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 24 October 2019 23:23 (nine months ago) link

Jeez, I don't like this news at all, I hope he's ok

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Friday, 25 October 2019 00:10 (nine months ago) link

Appears he played a little set at Rough Trade at least.

Here’s a new interview as well:

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 25 October 2019 21:50 (nine months ago) link

Have you officially retired The High Llamas?

Not officially, no, and I don’t consider them as such. But what needs to happen, and I am desperately trying to make happen, is to get the rights back to our label output from the Nineties. They’re owned by Universal, who are extremely reluctant to do anything with our catalog, and I’ve really been wanting to get them remastered and pressed on vinyl, and maybe do an expanded series like Stereolab have done. If we can get that to happen, we’ll tour. Maybe not a full-scale tour, but perhaps residencies where we play one or two albums a night over two or three nights. If we can get those albums reissued, we’ll definitely tour. Maybe we’ll do a new record to go along with them. Then we might use that as an opportunity to officially retire—it would be a great way to close that book, don’t you think?

Agreed. But you know, if you do decide to make one last record, you have to title it Sean O’Hagan.

(Confused) What? What do you mean?? I don’t…(Pauses, then bursts into uproarious laughter). Joseph, my friend, that is brilliant! I simply must do that, you’re absolutely right! What an absolutely perfect way to bookend it all

I love that.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 25 October 2019 21:55 (nine months ago) link

Some typically fantastic outros on the new one

afriendlypioneer, Sunday, 27 October 2019 14:06 (nine months ago) link

The 6 November London Show at Cafe Oto is still on, I believe (which is good because I have a ticket for that). Only shows planned from 9 November onwards are postponed.

Jeff W, Sunday, 27 October 2019 14:59 (nine months ago) link

He's giving good interviews.

“The music that is coming out of this generation of say, 17 to 37-year-olds, is the best it has been for years. They have finally cast off the past but are able to reference it in a healthy way. There’s this esoteric, creative jazz popping out everywhere. Hip hop is so old now it almost has the legacy and weight of jazz. It’s got such a history and presence that finds itself in this great contemporary music that we hear so much in the UK and US”. He compares Khalid to Marvin Gaye (“that Talk track he did with Disclosure – if Marvin Gaye released that people would be saying it is one of his best songs”) and likens Kadhja Bonet to the 1960s psychedelic soul outfit Rotary Connection. He goes on to praise the likes of Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy, The Internet, Mount Kimbie, Empirical and new(ish) Coventry band Batsch. “I don’t see a demarcation between musical eras. A problem I do see is my personal contemporaries who say there’s nothing interesting being released now. He suddenly remembers Tyler, The Creator – “nutty old Tyler, what a joy!” – and when we talk about some of the amazing short instrumental tracks on Radum Calls, Radum Calls he remarks how he was going to leave them off the album “but then I listened to Tyler, The Creator do them and I thought fuck it – if Tyler’s doing it, I’ll do it!”. It’s refreshing and inspiring to hear a musician who has just entered his 60s talk in such animated, heartfelt, excited tones about contemporary music.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 28 October 2019 14:30 (nine months ago) link

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 31 October 2019 14:43 (nine months ago) link

Finally got around to putting this up. Might have to try a re-encode though as youtube seems to've fucked the upload :/

Brainless Addlepated Timid Muddleheaded Awful No-Account (Pheeel), Monday, 4 November 2019 20:36 (nine months ago) link

Oh my goodness. That's fantastic. Thank you.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 4 November 2019 20:40 (nine months ago) link

Ha! Came here to promote ^this (Twitter has just found it). Thanks, Pheeel!

Jeff W, Monday, 4 November 2019 21:57 (nine months ago) link

Great playlist:

afriendlypioneer, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:27 (nine months ago) link

one month passes...

Unfortunately, it appears he is dealing with cancer. I wish Sean the best.

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 11 December 2019 14:39 (eight months ago) link

Oh fuck, really? That's awful.

Get well soon Sean.

does it look like i'm here (jon123), Wednesday, 11 December 2019 14:43 (eight months ago) link

I can't find anything about this online, where did you happen to hear it?

does it look like i'm here (jon123), Wednesday, 11 December 2019 14:44 (eight months ago) link

I've been at the sharp end in hospital under going cancer treatment , cared for by a team if wonderful health workers from all over the world. Migrant workers.This latest revulsion from Johnson as he attempts to shore up the vilest sentiment for votes is criminal.Times shame.

— High Llamas (@High_Llamas) December 9, 2019

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 11 December 2019 14:59 (eight months ago) link

Fuck, this sucks

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Wednesday, 11 December 2019 15:02 (eight months ago) link

Thanks for the tweet. That's dreadful news.

does it look like i'm here (jon123), Wednesday, 11 December 2019 15:12 (eight months ago) link

afriendlypioneer, Wednesday, 11 December 2019 16:24 (eight months ago) link

ugh! hopefully he'll get better.

tylerw, Wednesday, 11 December 2019 16:26 (eight months ago) link

Yeah, fingers crossed for Sean, genuinely a good guy.

I've Got A Ron Wood Solo Album To Listen To (Tom D.), Wednesday, 11 December 2019 17:23 (eight months ago) link

Wishing Sean a speedy recovery, he's such a lovely guy. Reading some of these comments from years ago, I think there's been some misconception that The High Llamas' records are meant to be a kind of terminus. The culmination of their influences, e.g. "what the Beach Boys were aspiring to". I believe this is looking at it the wrong way about. Surely they were the entry point? And from there we were meant to go on to check out Giu La Testa, Clube da Esquina and Marcos Valle? We didn't have algorithms for that in the 90's. Sean has been criticized a great deal for wearing his influences on his sleeve, and I understand but if you flip the triangle the other way around, it's incredibly generous, isn't it?

Deflatormouse, Saturday, 14 December 2019 02:08 (eight months ago) link

Yes, get well soon, Sean. Always liked this one.

Lidsville U.K. (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 14 December 2019 12:08 (eight months ago) link

two months pass...

I'll pick this thread 'cuz Sean's the one who interests me the most of the characters on the line-up. I am looking forward to this on Friday:

Grande est la maison – Cabane’s first album is the outcome of Belgian composer Thomas Jean Henri bringing together the American Will Oldham (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) and English musician Kate Stables (This Is The Kit), to perform some songs arranged by Sean O’Hagan (The High Llamas) ; a dream line-up for this collection of tunes, bordering on both folk and orchestral pop. Far from the maddening sounds, ‘Grande est la maison’ will be a warm shelter for lovers of Nick Drake or Vashti Bunyan.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 24 February 2020 15:51 (five months ago) link

Oh thanks for that - this was the fellow out of Soy Un Caballo, whose LP I love (it also involved Sean in a similar capacity I think).

Tim, Monday, 24 February 2020 16:42 (five months ago) link

Sean also produces the upcoming album, High January by Market Starling.

Jeff W, Monday, 24 February 2020 16:48 (five months ago) link

*Marker, grrr stupid autocorrect

Jeff W, Monday, 24 February 2020 16:51 (five months ago) link

Kate Sables appears courtesy of Rough Trade Records Ltd
Will Oldham appears with courtesy of his own damn self
Sean O'hagan appears with courtesy of Domino Publishing

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 24 February 2020 17:03 (five months ago) link

Sounds good, Jeff.

Laetitia with a guest spot.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 24 February 2020 17:09 (five months ago) link

Pretty sure Sean O'Hagan did some playing/arranging with the early Palace Bros.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 24 February 2020 17:14 (five months ago) link

"I'll pick this thread 'cuz Sean's the one who interests me the most of the characters on the line-up. I am looking forward to this on Friday:";

I think this guy is mainly a photographer, Sean has worked on his records before and played a gig in his apartment a few years ago.

Deflatormouse, Monday, 24 February 2020 19:35 (five months ago) link

I've hit an age where I have panic attacks when threads are unexpectedly revived.

djh, Monday, 24 February 2020 20:38 (five months ago) link

It's pretty reasonable to panic with this particular thread

Mario Meatwagon (Moodles), Monday, 24 February 2020 22:07 (five months ago) link

never talk about anybody old and not dead on the internet

brimstead, Monday, 24 February 2020 22:40 (five months ago) link

ugh sorry didn’t know dude was actually not doing well, fp away

brimstead, Monday, 24 February 2020 22:41 (five months ago) link

yes, made me very nervous to see this revived. i haven't heard anything about his condition since december.

Deflatormouse, Monday, 24 February 2020 23:25 (five months ago) link

I think there's been some misconception that The High Llamas' records are meant to be a kind of terminus. The culmination of their influences, e.g. "what the Beach Boys were aspiring to". I believe this is looking at it the wrong way about. Surely they were the entry point? And from there we were meant to go on to check out Giu La Testa, Clube da Esquina and Marcos Valle? We didn't have algorithms for that in the 90's. Sean has been criticized a great deal for wearing his influences on his sleeve, and I understand but if you flip the triangle the other way around, it's incredibly generous, isn't it?

― Deflatormouse, Friday, December 13, 2019 6:08 PM (two months ago) bookmarkflaglink

Thank you for this, I think it’s a lovely summation of what I’ve thought many times; I can’t think of any single artist in the past few decades who has been so ill-served by a lazy shorthand for their work. I hope more people will figure it out with time.

Deverly (Bangelo), Tuesday, 25 February 2020 01:24 (five months ago) link

Really digging the Cabane album. There's something very Llamas-esque about it beyond the string arrangements. I am enjoying Kate Stables's songs; I hadn't heard her before.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 2 March 2020 15:34 (five months ago) link

damn this is REALLY nice

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Monday, 2 March 2020 15:48 (five months ago) link

I really like the Cabane also - if you like it and you haven't heard the Soy Un Caballo LP you have a big treat in store.

Tim, Monday, 2 March 2020 16:11 (five months ago) link

one month passes...

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 20 April 2020 13:04 (three months ago) link

Aargh someone take the harmonica away from whoever’s ruining this lovely cover 😆

Jeff W, Monday, 20 April 2020 13:22 (three months ago) link

Seriously though, good to see Sean looking OK and in fine voice after last year’s medical treatment

Jeff W, Monday, 20 April 2020 13:24 (three months ago) link

Fantastic that Sean O'Hagan (High Llamas) is looking healthy & hale here — and sounding typically wonderful.

— Tyler Wilcox (@tywilc) April 24, 2020

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 24 April 2020 18:28 (three months ago) link

yeah this made my day

tylerw, Friday, 24 April 2020 19:19 (three months ago) link

Yes, it's great to see him in good spirits and fine form. I think his voice is getting better w/ age. His voice always needed a little extra grit. I'm also enjoying his daughter's contributions; her voice is wonderful on Radum Calls.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 27 April 2020 16:47 (three months ago) link

Love him. I don't know if any others made the connection between their musics over the decades, but this is the closest to imagining having my hero Simon Jeffes from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra doing a home concert for free.

My wet dream would be Sean producing a new David Sylvian album.

Max Florian, Wednesday, 29 April 2020 12:39 (three months ago) link

As mentioned upthread, he also produced the new Marker Starling LP, which is out now and v nice.

Deverly (Bangelo), Wednesday, 29 April 2020 17:09 (three months ago) link

two weeks pass...

I completely missed up until now that the video in tylerw’s tweet is different to the one posted on 20 April. Just caught up with the former - so good, and brings back good memories of the Café Oto gig last year.

There was also short essay by Sean published on the Drag City website on the same day. Worth a read:

Jeff W, Friday, 15 May 2020 18:45 (three months ago) link

I've loved O'Hagan's music for a long time. In fact, it was one of two reasons why I launched a website around his music

weirwrite, Saturday, 23 May 2020 06:46 (two months ago) link


buzza, Saturday, 23 May 2020 07:10 (two months ago) link

Message on Bandcamp: “Small something special coming to you on June 18th. Stay tuned to Drag City”

Jeff W, Wednesday, 3 June 2020 18:01 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

The lockdown-era return of wildlife to the towns looked foreboding, with images of our streets deserted but for the odd roaming animals - but weren't cities built for everyone? Sean O' Hagan and his daughter Livvy have teamed up to sing of this ecstatic, divisive and unexpected homecoming, with squelching, modern r'n'b beats to boost the much needed energies in our stagnated communities today. Mixed by modern art-pop wunderkind Fryars, "The Wild Are Welcome" introduces a futuristic side of O'Hagan's always inventive songcraft. Sean writes:

"This April, the animals were coming back to the cities. I love our wild in London, the foxes and badgers - but then sheep, deer and goats started to stray back into the edges of urbanity, in Essex and on the fringes of Swansea and Edinburgh. So I imagined the conversations the animals were having as they acclimatized to the new norm. And of course it flipped the status for the rest of us not in captivity, as we stared out at the wild from our lockdown. As much as I have enjoyed the musical landscape that I have explored for 30 years, I want to creep beyond it. I can still drop the chords as I always have but I am enamored with the 2020 RnB experience and here I have found new tools to put records together. Livvy keeps me informed and I increasingly run stuff by her, so when the idea of this tune emerged, I wanted a female vocal around which to hang an approximated vocal running through bit crushing and transformers to get the 'sound'. The sounds of Sly's Riot mixed with these vital new expressions. This is where I am at in 2020: SEAN SYLVESTER DRAKE 61."

afriendlypioneer, Thursday, 18 June 2020 16:52 (one month ago) link

Nothing to add to Sean’s own description! Hard to judge from just one song but yeah more in this vein would not I think be unwelcome.

Jeff W, Thursday, 18 June 2020 18:19 (one month ago) link

A really great interview with @High_Llamas Sean O'Hagan on his creative process:

— Paul McDermott (@learnandsing) June 18, 2020

Jeff W, Thursday, 18 June 2020 18:40 (one month ago) link

For an act that gets a lot of "every record sounds the same," he sure releases quite an eclectic array of music. I'm addicted to the new song. His daughter's got a lovely voice. She's great on Radum Calls as well.

afriendlypioneer, Monday, 22 June 2020 15:58 (one month ago) link

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