Ex EMBLD come up with something different and special

 

 

Usually when two established bands collaborate the results are unfulfilled and a mish mash of half formed ideas and riffs. This is not the case with Piano Wire. After the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster finally gave up the ghost in 2013 founding members Andy Huxley and Sym Gharial decided to continue to write songs. They recruited like-minded individuals and formed Piano Wire.

 

 

The music is softer and popper than EMBLD. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that when EMBLD first came out they were a cacophony of feedback, hair and half mumbled half shouted lyrics. Society – the first song released – sounds like a mixture of Skin Yard/Green River, but with a pop sensibility. It is a fairly dramatic change. Don’t like it’s clean, poppy front dissuade you. At first I wasn’t immediately into it, but I persevered and finally I got into it. Under the whole piece there is an acoustic guitar. At first I dismissed it, but eventually it pulled me in to its hypnotic, folktronic charm. Now it’s all I hear (and want to hear for that matter).

 

 

It is Society’s production that is its hidden weapon. The way the guitars are mixed is great and the folktronic element is inspired. The drums seem low in the mix, but given the nature of Huxley’s vocals and the light touches of the acoustic guitar you don’t want them over powering everything. There an element to psychedelia to the proceedings as well. All this adds to a very welcomed and accomplished debut.

 

 

Rumour has it that they have recorded more of the same. If Society is anything to go by this bodes well, but if it’s all the same level then it might get a bit samey. Let’s hope there is a Morning Has Broken, the Way of the the Men of the Stuff or a I Hate Blues in there for good measure!

 

 

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Southern Shoegazers release new video, it’s been on for an hour now and I don’t care!

 

 

The Death of Pop have released a new video. It pretty special. I can honestly us here at thisyearinmusic towers have watched it more than any other recent video. Love that cheesy ending too.

 

 

 

 

Keep up the good work guys!!!!

 

 

The Death Of Pop – Key of Three

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Dorset brothers return with second album of 2014

 

 

Yoofs are the kind of band you long for. Not only do they write brilliant songs that encapsulate life, love, the universe and everything, but they do it in the best ramshackle lo-fi way. On their last album they changed their trademark fuzzy sound and when clean (think of the difference between the Jesus and Mary Chain’s first and second album) and released the album of the summer. Sounding like the Coral, but recorded in a biscuit tin.

 

 

Now they are back with their second album of 2014. Kind of. This time the brothers Dent have raided their hard drives and released a 12 track album of these hidden gems. To say it’s a wonderful cacophony of joyous music is putting it lightly. On these 12 tracks they have re-written the rule book of lo-fi indie pop. What make it so fun is that they’ve left in bits of studio banter and a few recording mistakes. This adds a level of warmth that few albums have. You feel that they are talking to you.

 

 

The future is extremely bright for this Dorset duo, if this level of song writing and imagination is continued. If this sounds like your thing then click on the link below and download something that is far from disposable!

 

 9/10

 

 

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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http://yoofs.bandcamp.com/album/caravan-echoes

Minimal techno never sounded so fresh and vibrant

 

 

“Murky, compressed, glitchy and dirty techno” is how I was asked to describe Shelter to a friend. “Sounds great” my friend replied and I think that’s basically it. There isn’t much else to say apart from Shelter is of course the debut album from Moire. Not much is known about the elusive Moire, but as far as I’m concerned, this album – and the two previous singles – is all I need to know.

 

 

Moire is the next logical step from the genius Richie Hawtin albums of the 1990’s. In fact when I first heard Moire I thought it was Hawtin under a new alias. I’m not saying that Moire is a direct rip off, of Hawtin’s blueprint – far from it – there are enough differences to distinguish the two apart, but there is a theme that runs through both artists work.

 

 

The songs are claustrophobic, yet they are fill with space. They are layered, yet they have few elements. Each time I play Shelter I hear something different and it’s this level of complexity and contradiction that should propel Moire to the next level in the techno arena.

 

 

8/10

 

 

Moire – Infinity Shadow

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Something is a brewing….

 

Aphex Twin Blimp

Aphex Twin Blimp

 

 

The King appears to have returned from the wilderness. Will King Richard be able to knock the Prince John’s off his throne will remain to be seen. Needless to say the hype machine is full oiled and well and truly in motion…

 

 

Aphex Twin – We Are the Music Makers

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Ex-White Girl Mob MC goes solo, results are far from convincing

 

A lot of music that I listen to, I stumble across by accident. Today’s songs fits into this category. Lil Debbie was part of the now defunct White Girl Mob. They were a power trio consisting of V-Nasty, Kreayshawn and Lil Debbie. Kreayshawn had the world wide smash Gucci Gucci, then got signed to a major label and released an album that made Cher Lloyd’s album seem hard hitting and edgy.

 

 

Now Lil Debbie is solo and has released three EP’s (last year’s Queen D and this year Californian Sweetheart Part 1 & 2). Sadly the results aren’t that great. This is partly down to the subject matter, delivery and timing of releases. Musicians have always (and probably always will) write about what they do to relax\get loaded. I have no problem with this, my problem is when they try to shock\boast about what they do. Take a leaf out of Bob Dylan’s book about being creative with your hobbies. The second problem with these EP’s is Debbie’s delivery. It stays the same through everysong. Some of you might say this is a good thing as it stays constant. Yes that can be affective, but when every song is aggressive and shouty it’s hard to enjoy. Lastly, but possibly the main problem with these EP’s is Debbie’s timing. When Gucci Gucci came out in 2011, there weren’t a lot of similar artists about, so Kreayshawn got a lot of attention as she was doing something different. Now in 2014 there are a lot, so Lil Debbie doesn’t stand out. But her main down fall is through artists like Charlie XCX, Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea. They are simply doing it better. They have better lyrics and deliveries.

 

 

There are positives about these EP’s though. The production on every track is pretty decent. The beats are hard, the hi-hats (and claps) are crisp and the bass does its job. It’s a shame that they are tainted by not having the best lyrics and delivery put on top of them.

 

 

While listening to these EP’s at times I questioned if this was a joke\satire\performance art. If it is any of these things then they immediately become something to be shared as they are sending up and pastiching Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop culture. They are showing the hypocrisies and blatant overtly sexualising of women for entertainment in music, but as Debbie isn’t doing this, she is helping to perpetuate this homogeneity of women in Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop culture. This is a shame as I feel that Lil Debbie could actually say something important about culture, rather than just boast about how much she can smoke, her power of stealing boyfriends and how much money she has\can make.

 

 

Lil Debbie – Ratchets

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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A slice of urban commentary from one of soul’s most observant artists

 

 

I’m going a bit off piste today. Although this might not come across from the majority of these blogs, but I do like soul music. If truth be told I have a massive soft spot for soul from the 1960’s. Especially if they were released on Stax or Chess. For me Motown was too slick and (no pun intended) had no soul. Stax and Chess records on the other hand had grittiness that I find Motown is missing. My favourite soul singer is (unsurprisingly) Nina Simone. She lived through her songs, and this is embodied in possibly the greatest soul song of all time “I Wish I Knew How it Felt to Be Free” This is the definitive Human Rights song, and the rest of Silk and Soul isn’t too shabbby either.

 

 

This brings me nicely to today’s song. For a brief period in the late 1990’s I thought that Eryka Badu would be the Nina Simone. She had the right look, vibe and through provoking lyrics. Her debut was far more interesting than a lot of soul\R&B stuff that was coming out at that period. It was chocked full of ideas about how to make things better, rather than warbling on about how they’d just been dumped and woe-is-me-life-is-hard-for-a-singer-on-a-major-label. Baduizm also had a more organic feel to it than a lot of her peers. It felt like Earth Music (but without the pretension).

 

 

What it striking about this album is that its ideas and methodology seemed out there at the time, but 17 years since its release Afrocentric/Afrofuturism music has been taken in by the mainstream and Baduizm is now getting the respect it deserves. At times some of the social commentary sounds dated, but at others Badu is as spot on today as she was in 1997. It’s sad how little somethings can change…

 

 

Erykah Badu – On & On

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Want to have a say in the charts this week? Buy this single…

 

 

Boy Names have released their new single this week. It is eight minutes of the finest Post-Pop around. The rhythm is tight, the melody flows and the vocals soar. What more do you want from a pop song?

 

 

This is Boy Names first release since 2013’s Wanted Man EP. Over that time they have been playing gig all over the capital and hiding away in studios and rehearsal spaces writing and recording new songs for a rumoured album. If Instant Ambition is anything to go by we’re in for a treat.

 

 

So if you want to have a say in the charts, go and buy this single from i-tunes or Amazon and help propel this trio to the next level of their career.

 

 

Boy Names – Hey There Sailor

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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My favourite song, from my favourite childhood programme

 

 

After playing my nephew remixes of his favourite TV themes, and finding out about a Munsters re-boot. I got to thinking about music from TV shows of my youth. Of all the TV shows I used to watch, The Addams Family was by far my favourite.

 

 

It was full of amazing eccentric characters, surreal storylines, a house full of weird and macabre things and an Uncle that could light a bulb in his mouth. What’s not to love? Add to this heady mix a score that is just as wonderfully bizarre as the pictures it backed. It was everything The Munsters failed to copy.

 

 

My favourite song of the series wasn’t the theme (possibly the best TV theme of all time) is a piece if incidental music that was used to link scenes\plot devices. When I think of the series, this track runs through my head. For me this is track helps bridge the gap between the juxtapositing of the episodes themes and the family’s view on society. When you get to the bottom of it, the Addams Family are a pretty weird and dangerous lot. They keep vicious pets, have plenty of explosives, are into the occult and judge 1960’s America with contempt. But as the music is slightly jaunty and fun, but with a jazz feel. When you hear it, it puts you at ease, because as different as the Addams Family are, you know that they mean well and don’t want to harm you.

 

 

Victor Mizzy and His Orchestra – The Addams House (From the Television Series “The Addams Family”)

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Childhood just got a re-boot

 

Just a short and sweet one today. This weekend I saw my three year old nephew. I wondered what music he liked. I realised that if I started playing him things on my laptop he’d probably get bored and wander off. So I decided to pick things he knew to see what genres he liked.

 

I decided to try and find remixes of his favourite TV themes. Most were awful and I turned them off before he got bored, but a couple were great, this is one of them.

 

 

 

 

He started to head bang to it and generally enjoyed it. He also enjoyed a dubstep Peppa Pig. That one was more music edited to the cartoon than a remix of the theme, but it was fun none the less.

 

 

This isn’t as weird as you might think. It’s the logical progression of

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

 

 

 

 

If you have a small child or are and uncle\aunty, why not try the same experiment and see if you can trick them into liking music they would never hear.

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Possibly the greatest metal song of all time, but the best metal band of all time

 

 

I really like metal. I can’t really explain it, but there is something about it that makes me smile. Maybe it started as a kid. I had some friends and we just wanted to find the most extreme stuff ever and then see if we could take it. It wasn’t long until we found metal. It was inevitable really. At first it was just the stuff their Dad’s, brother’s (and sister) had in their collections. Actually what we were listening to at first was just heavy rock (Guns ‘n Roses, Aerosmith, Van Halen and their like). It wasn’t long before we were bored of that and wanted more. A friend in the year above made a ‘metal’ tape for us from his brothers albums and singles. Most of it was stuff we’d heard before, but near the end of the second side it started to get heavier (and faster). When the tape had done the rounds (I was the last to get it), we were sold!

 

 

Over the next few years I flitted from rave\dance, hip-hop, punk, trip-hop and rock, but metal was there. My other friends never really left its grip. When around their houses to play computer games and watch films, there was more metal. Different posters, T-Shirts, CD’s and cassettes littered their rooms. They had followed our original plan and just kept ploughing into it to see how much they could take. I remember one computer game session and all we listened to was black metal. At the time it was about as far as I was filling to go, but my friend moaned that he was having trouble finding harder things (it was the mid 1990’s and everything was word of mouth, plus CD’s were hard on limited pocket money).

 

 

Nowadays when I don’t go out of my way to find the hardest thing ever, but when someone says “You have to hear …..” I always check them out. The band that has never stopped doing it for me is Slayer. I can’t explain what it is about them that I love, but I think it’s a mixture of hardness and intensity. Kerry King is my favourite metal guitarist (and possibly in my top 3 all-time guitarist list). When Jeff Hanneman died in 2013 is was devastated as he’d given me so many great memories and I was gutted that he would give me no more.

 

 

So for those of you who know this song, play it loud and start your weekend off properly!

 

 

Slayer-Angel of Death

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Kevin Martin starts ramping things up for the new Bug album, so far so good…

 

 

In 2008 The Bug (AKA Kevin Martin) released an album called London Zoo. To call it an instant classic and game changer is doing it a disservice. It is far more than that. It’s mix of political\social commentary lyrics coupled with some of the most hard hitting and dirty beats and rhythms. Even now four years later it hasn’t lost any of its power.

 

 

Since then Martin founded his own label Acid Ragga (an imprint of Ninja Tune) and released three Bug 7” singles and one 10” EP. Musically it was similar to London Zoo (bass heavy filthy dancehall electro), the music was slightly softer. Part of this was down to what equipment used. Martin went back basics and composed on Roland 303’s and 808’s. This gave the music a slightly retro vibe, but still keeping it in check with current musical trends. In short it’s taking the implements of rave and inverting the sounds from those happy rave anthems, to some slightly more claustrophobic and menacing.

 

 

Later this month Martin releases his latest album. If the songs that he’s leaked so far are anything to go by it sounds like business as usual. The songs aren’t as terrifying as London Zoo, but they haven’t been toned down either. There is more of a groove to them, than on previous releases. That being said the collaboration with Death Grips could easily have been a hangover from London Zoo.

 

 

As albums to look forward to, this is certainly up. Luckily there is only two weeks to wait and the five tracks available from it are filling to void for now.

 

 

The Bug-At War with Time (Featuring Spaceape)

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Electronic maverick returns with EP full of skitter, wonky classics

 

 

Broken. Skittering. Wonky. Hypnotic. Dirty. Pulsating. These are all words that can be used to describe the music of My Dry Wet Mess (or MDWM). Earlier in the year MDWM released a new EP. At first I wasn’t overly impressed by it and after a couple of listens if dropped off my radar. BIG MISTAKE! Recently Laptop Lapdance has slowly raised itself to being a near constant inclusion on my daily playlist.

 

 

This is forward thinking music. Little regard has been held for what a song should be, and how its composition should be structured. At times MDWM uses very simple melody (the chimes on Infinto), but juxtaposes them with slightly off kilter rhythm. This takes two separate schools of production and merges them into something new and interesting. There are also similar patterns to each track, this is clever, as if they tracks were mixed together in the right way, they would create a continuous piece of music (I know this is mixing is in the most basic definition), but normally EP contain contrasting music. This level of cohesion shows MDWM’s level of thought and intent.

 

 

In the two years since the last album (Stereo Typing), you can see the progression. Not only in the scale of the tracks, but in composition and production. This is definitely one to watch for the future and it won’t be the last time they get a mention (or a play at thisyearinmusic towers)!

 

 

My Dry Wet Mess-Nailed Scale

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Surprise collaboration yields familiar results

 

 

Of all the collaborations I thought would come about Brian Eno and Karl Hyde was not one of them. Eno and Hyde aren’t strangers (they worked together in 2011 and Eno remixed Hyde in 2013), but I thought a collaboration would be off the cards (due to work schedules). The efforts of this creative burst were released in May, then in June they announced another album. This second effort isn’t an odds and sods album (as sometimes happens) but a fresh batch of songs. Both albums are full of interesting ideas and soundscapes. The only problem is that we’ve kind of heard it all before.

 

 

During parts of the albums I forgot who Eno was working. This sounds like it could easily be another album with David Byrne. Granted this is an easier listen than some of their past works (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts I’m looking at you here), but Someday World and High Life do follow the blueprint. At times the music is more dance oriented than Eno and Byrne’s previous work, but it’s still the same formula. Lush soundscapes, slightly introverted lyrics that embrace society’s changes and a production to die for. While this isn’t the best Eno collaborative album (check out My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Small Craft on a Milk Sea for those honours) , it’s still one of the best albums to come out this year and gets better with every listen.

 

 

Brian Eno and Karl Hyde-Mother of a Dog

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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My favourite alt-blues-psychers release ode to the First World War

 

 

of Arrowe Hill are back with a new single. Never being ones to stick to conventional song writing (and current trends) their new single 1914 is about the First World War (the title gives it away eh?). I was expecting a song set to a marching beat, with enough sound effects to give the feeling of being in the trenches. What we are given is a stripped down acoustic workout. The only sound effects come from the superimposed crackle of vinyl. This add to the effect that this is a ‘found’ record from the period.

 

 

The song itself is full of lines about being sent away, being separated from your friends and not knowing where you are going. These are themes that oAH have written about before, but in the setting of a ‘war song’ they are devastatingly effective.

 

 

Rumour has it that oAH will release their latest album this year. The first single off it was a calypso affair, but this is more reminiscent of their last two albums. Expectation is high in thisyearinmusic towers that this will be another flawless album, and if these two singles are anything to go by we won’t be disappointed!

 

 

of Arrowe Hill-1914

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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24 years on Gang Starr still stand head and shoulders above the majority of their peers

 

 

This weekend I picked up Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr. I’d been meaning to buy it since it came out, but something got in the way (usually the price!), but I stumbled across is for £4 so I thought sod it. It was a bit of a foolish purchase as I have most of the studio albums, but Full Clip isn’t just full of the singles and album tracks. There are B-Sides, soundtrack contributions and (usually the kiss of death) the dreaded ‘new material’. Obviously it isn’t as good as the original stuff, but it’s not that bad either, and at times you can’t really tell if it’s an album track you don’t know that well.

 

 

The stand out track is Jazz Thing. Originally appearing on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues. In just under five minutes Guru tells you the history of jazz music, how the successful re-write history and how jazz in the 1990’s will become even more respected and more popular than ever. As usual Guru is right. Not bad from a track buried in the middle of a soundtrack right?

 

 

Tracks like Jazz Thing, Just to Get a Rep and Step in the Arena separated Gang Starr from the majority of their peers. Gang Starr were hip-hop for the thinking person. They constantly spoke about social commentary. They weren’t satisfied to talk about turf wars, drug dealing, how many people they’d slept with or how many chains they had. That was blasé to Guru. It has long been suggested that Guru was a poet masquerading as a rapper than a rapper with artistic leanings. Add to this DJ Premier’s exceptional production and ridiculously extensive musical knowledge, and you had possibly the best pairing since Eric B & Rakim.

 

 

The only downside with Gang Starr was also one of their main positives. They were neigh on impossible to pigeon hole. They weren’t part of the D.A.I.S.Y. Age scene, nor were they Back Pack Rap. They also didn’t fit in with the Zulu Nation vibe either. This was great as they were their own crew, but they were hard to sell to people who weren’t in to Hip-Hop “What, he’s just telling stories and not killing anyone?” I once got told after playing a friend at college a track. This suited me fine, as music (and Hip-Hop) should stimulate the brain as well as the feet.

 

 

In the four years since Guru’s death no one has come near to his flow, vocabulary or vision. This makes his sudden death even harder to take as no one is coming through. At least we have the Gang Starr albums (and his solo releases).

 

 

Gang Starr-Jazz Thing

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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One of Aphex Twin’s more introspective tracks, is perfect listening for a laidback day

 

 

Aphex Twin-Selected Ambient Works Volume II is an album that divides as many people as it unites. For some Aphex Twin should be balls to the wall techno and when he deviates from this he is deemed as selling out. While in my youth I might have been in this camp, as I have got older I find myself being drawn to it more than I Care Because You Do and Richard D. James.

 

 

There is something wonderful and beguiling about this double album. All of the songs offer an introspection that you don’t normally find from a techno artist. The songs are full of uncharacteristically space. At times it’s what you don’t hear that keeps you listening than what you do. This is chamber music for the post clubbing generation. It’s as thought provoking as it enjoyable (and it is extremely enjoyable). When I hear certain parts of certain tracks Philip Glass comes to mind. I don’t think that this is a fluke as he re-worked Icct Hedral in 1995 on the Donkey Rhubarb EP.

 

 

Selected Ambient Works Volume II is more than a chill out album. This is a serious album made by a serious artist, instead of some minimal down tempo demos bunged out fulfil a contraction on a recording agreement. The music might be lucid at times, but it is its lucid on purpose.

 

 

There are rumours of a new Aphex Twin album in the offing, I’m hoping for Selected Ambient Works Volume III as this is a concept that needs to be revisited again!

 

 

Aphex Twin-Shiny Metal Rods

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

The Orb

 

 

Brian Eno

 

 

Portico Quartet

 

 

Steve Reich

 

 

Philip Glass

Country meets classical, the results are far greater than they sound

 

In 1966 Jack Nitzsche released an album full of re-interruptions of Frederic Chopin’s music, unsubtly titled Chopin ‘66. This was unlike anything Nitzche had released to date. Jack Nitzsche was one of the biggest players in music (American Pop) in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He wrote, produced, arranged and played on some of the biggest songs of the period. He was (for a while) the unofficial sixth member of the Rolling Stones (playing keyboard on most of their mid-60’s hits). Before Chopin’ 66 was released Nitzsche had release two Surf-Rock albums of Beatles covers and original compositions. Given his previous albums (and his day job) this album would have been a little out of the blue

 

 

What he did on Chopin ’66 was re-arrange the Polish composers work, but with a slight pop\country twist. The results are magical. Nitzsche hasn’t tried to ham them up, or make them sound ‘rock & roll’. What he did was try and re-arrange them for a pop audience. This is evident as all off the songs (apart from two tracks) are under four minutes long. After you listening to the album you get the impression that Nitzsche liked these pieces of music and wanted to do them justice, and they are treated with respect.

 

 

On the surface this album looks like career suicide (classical for kids), but actually it makes sense. The arrangements (and production) is luscious. It showcased off his skills and talents. It was a calling card to say “If you want beautiful string arrangements in your album\films, give me a call. This is what I can do!”. And it worked. In fact it worked so well that he only released one more studio album. 1972’s St. Giles Cripplegate. This was another exercise in Avant-Garde music. Sadly rock and pop wasn’t ready for this level of experimentation, so Nitzsche switched to scoring films, where his sonic visions would find receptive audiences.

 

 

If you have never heard this album before, I urge you to play it (and St. Giles Cripplegate which is a far superior album, yet more out there).

 

 

Jack Nitzsche-Revolutionary Etude

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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A month full of live music and great releases!

 

This month has been one of the best this year. I’ve seen the Tour de France and been to the annual beer, blues and jazz festival (all of which somehow were better than last years).

 

 

New music this much has come courtesy of Fink, Cheaters, Boy Names Jon Mapp, ortoPilot and K.Flay to name a few. Check out all their new releases!

 

 

Cheers July you’ve been amazing, let’s hope August has been paying attention…

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Elusive producer released the most beautiful and beguiling album this year.

 

In February patten released his second album (but debut for Warp Records) ESTOILE NAIANT. At the time I thought it was good, but over the last few months I’ve realised how brilliant it really is. At times the album is haunting, but in the next instance its (to quote a friend) “all gone wonky”.

 

 

What draws you in to the album is melody. Every track on ESTOILE NAIANT is chocked full of it. On some tracks you have to look for it, but it’s there, hidden under hypnotic layers of woozy synth, glitch samples, hazy percussion and wonky beats.

 

 

Dreamlike is an overused term, but during ESTOILE NAIANT’s 42 minutes you feel like you are stuck between the ‘real world’ and some surreal dream realm, where everything is soft and fluffy, but you can hear the ‘real world’ trying to break through.

 

 

ESTOILE NAIANT is as striking as it is beguiling and patten sounds like very few producers, but somehow he has managed to create to the sound of 2014’s Britian perfectly. If there is any justice ESTOILE NAIANT will be hailed as a classic landmark album, just as the Village Green Preservation Society, Parklife and Hazyville all have been.

 

 

8/10

 

 

patten-Winter Strobing

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Beck’s Song Reader album is released; this is more than an art project as songs speak for themselves

 

 

Beck is anything but lazy. You may not like the music he makes, buy you have to give him credit for trying! In 2012 Beck released a song book called Song Reader. This consisted of 20 songs in sheet music. Rumour has it that originally there was no other plan for it other than the book. It had taken him right years to complete the book. In 2013 he staged three concerts where he was accompanied by different musicians and the book was performed from start to finish. The shows were so successful that an album was planned. This was released this week.

 

 

As a concept album is works really well. Anyone who plays an instrument, can take a piece of sheet music (or a tab if you’re like me) and you can reinterpret it how is best suits your playing and style. This is what everyone has done. None of the songs sound like Beck (apart from his track on the album). Lyrically they sound like something Beck would write and sing about, but because he never recorded and released them the performer has the pleasure of putting their stamp on it.

 

 

Musically the album is broad. It covers blues, folk, indie, cabaret. Its possibly one of the most diverse collections of songs I’ve heard in a long time (possibly since the original War Child album). The thing that I have to remind myself is “Wait this is a Jack White\Laura Marling\Sparks\Jason Isbell track. It’s a Beck track”. This is true mark of a classic songwriter.

 

 

The problem with this album is that due to the nature of the book, you expect it to be different each time you play it, and when it’s not the songs start to lose their sparkle a bit. This is more of a criticism of how disposable music has become than the song writing (which I mentioned is top notch). Also the concept is so great that (and the performers are so diverse) that while it covers most genres, overall it isn’t cohesive and some of the tracks can be a bit jarring. I’m looking forward for Volume 2 in 2022!

 

 

7/10

 

 

Jason Isbell – Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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One of the most prolific producers returns with a friend for split mixtape

 

Ras G should need no introduction. His name should be uttered and complete recognition and comprehension should follow. Like tea, work or books. You may not like them, but you get 100% what they are as soon as they are mentioned. This is what I’m like with Ras G. When I see his name mentioned I know what they mean. When someone describes a song and add “you know, like Ras G” at the end I get it totally. If this blog does any good, more people will be able to do this after hearing his name. I had this sensation yesterday when I read online that he had a new release on Leaving Records. 30 seconds later I had purchased this new mixtape (that is actually a tape!!!!). The download was immediate and a minute later I was listening to the new Ras G release.

 

 

“So what’s it like?” I can hear you ask. Well firstly its 30 minutes of some of the most incredible and forward thinking beat music I’ve heard in a while. Secondly Ras isn’t on his own. He teamed up with VHVL. They both take a side each. Ras decided to break his 15 minutes up into seven tracks whereas VHVL went for one 15 minute piece. This is pretty brave, but consider that this is his first release, it’s a bit of a gamble. Luckily the gamble pays off as the music is excellent. It intertwines, throbs and recontextualises itself over its 15:22. Oh did I mention that’s bloody good?

 

 

What I really admire about Ras G is that (basically) he does what he wants. If he wants to make an Afrofuturism album. He does. If he wants to redefine hip-hop he does. If he wants to make a track based out of records he spent $10 on from his favourite thrift store. He does. But what separates him from his peers is that the music he makes is always amazing and thought provoking. I’ve never listen to a Ras G track and though “He was only going through the motions with this one”. I’ve always felt that whatever I’ve just heard, there was an idea behind it and a point. Granted the point might be missed on me (at that time), but I know there is a point to it.

 

 

In these time when anyone with a computer and sound manipulation programme can create ‘music’ (Avicii I’m looking at your here). I find it refreshing that someone has a concept and uses technology to create this, rather than just bunging a few hokey samples together with an awful beat and calls it a track. Ras G is a hero. So the next time someone mentions you know what he’s about. Authenticity, quality productions, high concepts and above all amazing music! I just wish everyone else was as easy to get it as you were!

 

9/10

 

 

Ras G-3am Downtown

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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The tour is over, but what a tour!!!!

 

 

The 2014 Tour de France should go down as a classic! From the first stage there were blood sweat and tears (maybe not in that order). I have never known a tour when so many of the favourites went out so quickly. To call it open was an understatement.

 

 

After the first week it was pretty safe to see who was going to win the yellow and green (save any more accidents or attacks), but who wins isn’t really all the tour is about. Each day is its own mini tour. Personally I love the breakaways and it always make me sad when they get caught, but when they don’t I’m ecstatic.

 

 

In Vincenzo Nibali there is a true winner (as long as it turns out he’s clean). He has won all three Grand Tours. A feat that not every winner can say. Whether this will be the start of many tour titles will remain to be seen, but for now he can rest on his laurels. With Peter Sagan there is a sprinter who can climb mountains. I wonder if the time will come when he decides to go for the GC title. I think that if he does he will have to write off a whole season getting mentally and physically set for it. A friend thinks he could easily with yellow if he changed his mindset. I’m not so sure, but I’d love to see him try.

 

 

For now the tour is over, but in a little under a month my attentions will be sent to Spain where the Vuelta will take place (23/08/2014 – 14/09/2014). This year’s Vuelta looks set to be completely different from most years. A lot of the fallen tour riders have now set this as their ‘Must Win’ event. Let’s hope that they pull off a classic and get this race in everyone’s mind (and soul).

 

 

 

Kraftwerk-Tour de France

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Vocalist for hire shows she is an artist in her own right on jazz fest’s last day

 

 

You know Heidi Vogel. She has probably sung on songs that you love, but until now you never really knew who she was. All this is changing now. In 2013 Vogel released Turn up the Quiet. If you know Vogel only by her guest appearances, this might sound like a little out of the blue. After playing Turn up the Quiet I went back and listened to a few of the tracks she’s guested on and it fits. On every song she’s sung on, he’s give a jazz performance (give or take a few). Turn up the Quiet was the album she was born to make.

 

 

Jump forward to today and she has performed at the Ealing Jazz Festival with her quintet. And what a performance it was! During her hour and fifteen minute set she sung the gambit of latin, soul, funk and jazz (of varying types).

 

 

The most refreshing part of the set was how laid back it was. You got the impression that Vogel was relishing every moment she spent on stage entertaining the crowd. It was the perfect end to what was the best Ealing Jazz Festival in years. Everything clicked with her set. My personal highlight sadly wasn’t anything Vogel sung, but a gesture she made. There was a little girl dancing, so she brought her on stage and she danced for everyone.

 

 

Since seeing her live I have been playing Turn up the Quiet (its actually playing as I write this) and now I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I’d love to see a full collaboration with the Cinematic Orchestra (who she has worked with before and remixed the album’s titles track). The two would work perfectly. But until then I’m going to stick with her last album. And as should you.

 

 

Heidi Vogel-Love Dance

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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As the Jazz Festival rolls on, Michel Legrand is on a near constant loop

 

 

Some jazz albums are hard work but once you crack them they are a pleasure (Sun Ra I’m looking at you now). Some are light and fluffy (Henry Mancini, this is your territory) and others are just immediate, regardless of their textures. Legrand Jazz is one of these.

 

 

Michel Legrand at the time was more famous for recording film scores, than jazz albums, but this didn’t stop him assembling the greatest line up of musician’s. Not just of the time of recording, but possibly of all time. Legrand decided it was probably easier to pick 11 standards and get everyone to play them, than to compose something new and try and get his dream to rehearse and record them. Instead of having everyone play at once he devised that they should be split into three separate groups. The session that has remained lodged in people’s mind is the one consisting of John Coltrane, Phil Woods, Herbie Mann, Bill Evan and Miles Davis. The tracks they cut are just spine chillingly wonderful. But it’s not just the players that make this album special, it’s the way that Legrand’s arrangements keep you on your toes as you don’t know what he’s going to do next. It shows that he was one of the greatest arrangers of music at his time.

 

 

There are only two downsides to the albums. Firstly as it is so good, if you play it too much everything else you listen to after just doesn’t sound as good. Secondly you are left feeling the pangs of regret that Legrand didn’t make more studio albums, as this is quite possibly one of the greatest albums ever recorded!

 

 

And now back to the present. Last night I had the privileged to see Jon Mapp. While he is technically not 100% jazz, Mapp does use certain techniques and devices that on a jazz line up he fits right in. What he does is simple. Mapp plays certain patterns of bass notes, which he then records and loops. Then he plays new bass parts over this (along with percussive beats and rhythms). Easy eh?

 

 

 

But the real cleverness is the intricacies and interplay of the old and new bass runs. It’s melodic, hypnotic and strangely beautiful. His debut album The World Will End with a Bang was released earlier in the year and its 48 minutes of this formula. The results are stark reflections of modernity and modern life.

 

 

 

 

Last night performance was on the most interesting and mesmerising things I have seen for a long time. The only downside was that when Mapp had brought some songs to the peak, there wasn’t quite the payoff I was hoping for. I’m not saying I wanted an explosion or airhorn, heaven forbid, but I think he could take a couple of pointers of post-rock bands and really build for something amazing using fuzz\distortion pedals. Other than that it was a near perfect set! I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of this new and exciting artist!

 

 

Michel Legrand – The Jitterburg Waltz

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Miles Davis

 

 

Sarah Vaughan

 

 

Henry Mancini

 

 

Charles Mingus

 

 

The Dave Brubeck Quartet

Polish singer\violinist is the act not to be missed at the Ealing Jazz Festival today

 

 

Agata Kubiak is talent personified. Her voice is beautifully sweet, but with a slight sardonic edge. Her violin playing is second to none. While her music cannot be solely classed as jazz (if contains elements of rock, classical and folk) all of her work is grounded in jazz. In May she released her debut album Polarity. Polarity is a fitting name. The songs that make up this wonderful debut are part original compositions and part covers. Kubiak’s take on Soundgarden’s classic Black Hole Sun is as wonderful as it is startling. She adds an element of warmth that is missing from the original.

 

 

Kubiak is being backed by the Konvalia String Quartet tonight. This threatens to be a truly wonderful and mesmerising performance. Kubiak’s voice will cut through the swirling maelstrom of music that the Konvalia String Quartet will create. On the surface the music might seem simple, but once your ear catches the melody you will be split between listening and trying to process what you’ve heard and how they did it.

 

 

While this might not be music to everyone’s tastes, it will be a spectacle that needs to be scene (and heard). As Kubiak is still studying at at College of Music, hers is a talent that has only just started to come to prominence. While I understand that the Ealing Jazz festival is not a small event (by scale and prestige) this might be one of the best way to see Agata Kubiak at a festival and still be able to watch what she does as closely as if she was at a normal gig!

 

 

Agata Kubiak – Black Hole Sun

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Jon Mapp

 

 

Sasha Siem

 

 

Lisa Cranner

 

 

Ontz

 

 

Mona & Mari

T-Dead return with new split 7” single, it’s almost perfect!

 

 

Brighton’s favourite alt-indie rockers are back with a new split 7” single and new sound. Post Holiday Dad Song sounds like Brian Molko fronting Sonic Youth covering a classic pop song, full of distorted guitars, clean vocals, surging bass and incessant driving drums. It doesn’t get much better than this!

 

 

Rory Attwell is at the helm and this is apparent as he’s made T-Dead sound more polished and tighter than on previous releases. Rumour has it that an album is coming out this side of Christmas. I just hope that Attwell has produced it (or at least some of it) as this could be one of the albums of the year and perfect autumn\winter listening!

 

 

Buy this 7” now. Your life needs it!

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/oddbox/post-holiday-dead-song

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Joanna Gruesome

 

 

Eagulls

 

 

Waxahatchee

 

 

The Hundredth Anniversary

 

 

Plastic Animals

Unique minimal techno artist releases surprisingly listenable EP, late nights have a new soundtrack

 

 

London producer BNJMN has been around for a few years, but until recently he’s been fairly unknown. This is all changing with his debut release for Technicolour (a Ninja Tune offshoot). In 11 minutes he has jumped from obscurity to underground hero thanks to leftfield beats and wonky melodies. This is an EP that is as wonderful as it is experimental. BNJMN tears up the rule book and follows his heart (and ear) to create something wonderful.

 

 

The EP opens with Tonight. To begin with you think that you CD is stuck, but then you realise that you’re listening to a MP3 and it can’t be sticking. After a minute of stuttering a vocal sample and a haunting synth comes in and you’re relieved. Not just because you don’t have to buy new audio equipment, but because when the song kicks in it’s brilliant. The surging beat is relentless. This isn’t the hardest drum loop ever, but combined with the skittering backing it becomes slightly menacing (like a great JD Ballard book).

 

 

To quote Ninja Tune BNJMN’s music is “as much concerned with stimulating your head as they are your heel.” This sums the EP up perfectly. It’s very hard for a dance artist to have a track that works in a club and on a bus, but BNJMN does this perfectly. His music has been linked to Actress’ but I think that there is more to it than that. They both create music that makes you think, at times BNJMN reminds me of the classic Carl Crack album Black Ark. Both are relentless in their assault of the senses and there are elements of IV EP that has that same level of claustrophobia. One thing is certain, although at times BNJMN’s music isn’t that bright, his future certainly is!

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/technicolour-music/tonight

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

FaltyDL

 

 

Floating Points

 

 

Actress

 

 

Pantha Du Prince

 

 

Lukid

Future rulers of progressive blues play hometown festival

 

 

The Chairs are one of the most interesting and exciting new bands around. There are many reasons why, but the most striking is that they effortlessly merge traditional blues rock, with progressive leanings. Think of Chuck Berry meets the Mars Volta and you are on the right track. Today at 7 they will be helping to close this year’s Ealing Blues Festival.

 

A while back I was lucky enough to meet up with guitarist (and head Chair) Russ Newman.

 

How did you all meet?

 

Most of us grew up in Ealing. We’re sort of all around mid-20s. We’ve been playing quite a while, probably since about 2006.

 

Did you start gigging straight away?

 

I think was our first gig wasn’t until around 2009 then I think we started trying to play more gigs we’ve been a bit dormant the last six months but I think we’re going to pick up again as spring comes around.

 

Is that just a hibernation period?

 

Yeah, I mean hopefully, I’d like to think it’s not just us. It’s like a global thing. People just go dormant. No one wants to go to a gig when its’ snowing. We’ve got some gigs coming up in the summer and we tend to play well, but we’ve never played outside of London.

 

How come you’ve never played outside of London?

 

Well you can probably take over the world from inside London, without ever leaving London. Having said that, we are actually playing a gig in Cornwall this summer. A wedding we’re going to play at but apart from that we tend to play London. Mainly West London…There are a few people that are trying to build West London up in terms of it’s sort of music credibility.

 

 

I think they should, because the heritage is there

 

Exactly, yeah, I mean I randomly found myself looking up the Ealing Club on the internet and it’s got a really interesting history but I don’t think anyone realises that and it kind of needs to. It should get a blue plaque because that’s where the rolling stones met. I mean, that’s a hell of a statement!

 

 

What was the reason that made you form the band?

 

I suppose there is always like, there’s probably only ever three answers to that question. I think people do it

 

a)      Because they’re not very good at anything else

b)      Because they want to try to get more sex or

c)       Probably just the enjoyment of playing music

 

And I’d say it’s mainly the enjoyment of playing music but also sort of wanting to take over the world aspect and to get some more sex…so basically all of the three.

 

There’s also the element of when you’re around 19/20, if you discover that some of you and some of your mates play an instrument it seems like the logical thing to sort of try and create something bigger than you know messing about here and there.

 

Was there like a period when stuff that was coming out and seeing people on TV that made you think ‘Well if they can do it we can clearly do this?’

 

Definitely, there was a band called The Music. I looked at them and thought: they’re like, they’re not much older than us. I like the music they made and thought we could do something similar. That band was quite sort of inspirational at the time.

 

 

How did you come up with the name?

 

There was a guy at our school who used to just sort of fantasize about a band. He didn’t really play anything but he used to just go: ‘Oh! It’d be cool to be in a band.’ And he came up with this name The Sleepy Chairs and he just sort of drew this art work. I thought Sleepy Chairs that’s quite cool. So we removed the word sleepy and it just became The Chairs. I think they name of a band is quite important. Probably more important than we ever thought it was, ha!

 

Do you have collective influences?

 

That’s quite a tricky question. We’ve all seen Muse. We’re definitely all into Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Queens of the Stoneage and Radiohead. We’ve kind of got fingers going off in other weird things.

 

So what are your individual influences?

 

Led Zeppelin. I took more from it just because I was a guitarist and I wanted to be Jimmy Page. That’s my main thing that I wanted to bring. I like the way it’s quite built up. There’s always a lot going on, you can listen out for extra bits that you’ve not even heard of. Possibly more so than just lots of guitar solos. I’ve always sort of fantasised about making a guitar solo but often I think the perfect thing for the song is to not have one. I’m so really subjective when it comes to influences. One day I’m like: O lets me some like trance band and another day and I want to do folk music.

 

Do prefer playing venues or you like doing things like the Ealing blues festival?

 

I definitely enjoyed the Ealing blues festival because it’s probably the largest physical gig that we’ve played. I definitely enjoyed playing that festival. Playing outdoors is something I really like.

 

 

So what’s the future for The Chairs?

 

Hopefully we should just play our thing and eventually it will become a scene.

 

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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TDoP will release a new EP next month, it’s time to get excited people!

 

The Death of Pop are making a break for the song of the (Indian) summer. Whenever is chocked full of all the elements that have been making them one of the most exciting new bands in recent years. This time they’d added some Pink Floyd-ism’s to their arsenal to make this their most catchy and infectious song to date.

 

 

The Fifths EP is released on 4th August and if  Whenever is anything to go by it is set to be their best release to date. They are separating themselves from the rest of shoegazing chancers by creating music as powerful and exciting as their hero’s rather than copying them to within an inch of their lives. It is this level of reinvention that makes their music so enjoyable. Maybe it’s because the band is made of members from the same family, but when they get together there is an almost synergy to their playing.

 

 

As an added bonus this EP is proceeded by a flexidisc and 20 page zine. This is released on the 28th July and is only limited to 250 copies, so if you want it, you better click the link below, or you’ll be missing out on something special. Remember how amazing their Pictogram 10” was, this looks set to eclipse that! Luckily if you miss the flexidisc the EP will be released digitally in August.

 

 

http://artishardrecords.limitedrun.com/products/529271-the-death-of-pop-fifths-flexizine-ep

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/separatedbymotorways/the-death-of-pop-whenever1

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Weaves

 

 

Hooded Fang

 

 

Kult Country

 

 

Cheatahs

 

 

Teleman

Fink retuns with the album of his career

 

 

Fin Greenall has come a long way since his 2000 debut Fresh Produce. When he started he was basically a trip-hop acid jazz artist. His debut was chocked full of the beats and samples that made N-Tone albums something different. When he returned in 2006 he had something different. Biscuits for Breakfast was stripped down album. It was so far stripped down in some parts is was just Greenall’s voice and an acoustic guitar. It was one of the biggest shock albums of that year, but also one of the best albums too.

 

 

Since 2006 Fink has released five albums continuing in this vein, but with each album he has pushed his song writing and musically they are more complex and entertaining. Now he has returned with Hard Believer. On this album we find Fink mixing his past and his present. There are more FX tricks and his playing it more emotive. It is his most cohesive work.

 

 

The standout track is Pilgrim. It starts off with a broody repetitive riff, that builds the suspense and emotions until a maelstrom swirls around you, then at the pivotal moment it calms down again. This is Fink’s electro\dance mind coming into play. If you removed his acoustic guitar and add in a woozy\wonky synth you’d have a great dance track. This is cleverness of Fink’s work.

 

 

The rest of Hard Believer follows this pattern. The songs have peaks and valleys and at times they are wonderful, but near the end the songs start to sound a bit samey. This isn’t criticism on |Fink’s song writing, but on the limitations of a voice and a guitar. Even the best Nick Drake albums drag in places. This might seem like a chill out album, but it is far more than that and you are doing it a disservice so pass it off as disposable background music.

 

 

8/10

 

 

Fink – Pilgrim

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Alexi Murdoch

 

 

Bon Iver

 

 

Zero 7

 

 

Agnes Obel

 

 

Angus Stone

Boy Names go Afrobeat, still bloody works!

 

 

It’s been all quiet on the Boy Names front. Rumour had it that they were locked in a studio creating their new single. Luckily this was true, even more luckily is that they’ve written their most full formed track to date.

 

 

 

 

They’ve kept to the same winning formula. Catchy chorus, woozy synths, infectious guitars and a load of forward thinking pop. But this time they’ve changed it slightly. Although the electro pop is still there, they’ve added an extra element of Afro-Beat. At first I wasn’t sure, but after a few listens this is a master stroke. It adds an extra level of catchiness and makes them stand alone in the pop wilderness! This should be the sound of the summer.

 

 

I’ve said this before, but if Boy Names continue to create music like this they won’t be playing in small venues for much longer! Check the out now and boast to your friends that you saw them in pokey clubs and pub backrooms.

 

 

Boy Names – Instant Ambition

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Glass Boy

 

 

The Lovers Key

 

 

Pure Bathing Culture

 

 

Forest Swords

 

 

MONEY

Happy Bastille Day to all Francophiles!

 

 

Today is Bastille Day, so I’m hoping that all Francophiles are having a great day and are looking forward to the fireworks tonight. So who better to have today than Serge Gainsbourg!

 

 

 

 

Aux Armes Et Caetera is a dub version of Les Marseillais. When it was released in 1979 is caused controversy as Gainsbourg was deemed to be an insult to France. 35 years later it is considered a high watermark of his career. It was the first reggae album by a French artist and he was the second white European to record in Jamaica.

 

 

Personally I prefer Gainsbourg’s early stuff to the mid 1970’s, but this track is a monster and makes sense to play it today!

 

 

Serge Gainsbourg – Aux Armes Et Caetera

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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Jacques Dutronc

 

 

Alain Bashung

 

 

Francoise Hardy

 

 

Jacques Brel

 

 

Benjamin Biolay

The World Cup ends today, the winner is still unknown, but what is the best football song ever?

 

 

As the World Cup ends today I thought I’d come up with a different kind of blog. Today I have decided to come up with the best 10 football songs ever! I know that some of you won’t agree with the list, but I hope you enjoy the choices!

 

A worth mention should go to Scotland’s World Cup team in 1998. Del Amitri had the honours and this is what they did…

 

 

 

 

10. Los Ramblers-El Rock Del Mundial

 

 

 

 

Arguably the first ever football song, so it’s in at number 10 for that reason.

 

 

9. Baddiel and Skinner and The Lightning Seeds -3 Lions

 

 

 

 

First off I hate this song. It’s been overplayed and it isn’t actually that good when you get down to it.

 

 

8. The Beautiful Sound- Hooligans Don’t Fall in Love

 

 

 

 

Paul Heaton is a massive football fan (even if he does support Sheffield United). This is his take on a football anthem. Utterly beautiful!

 

 

7. Black Grape-England’s Irie

 

 

 

 

Shaun Ryder and co came up with this catchy ditty for Euro 1996. It’s a proper tune and Joe Strummer is on it.

 

 

6. Collapsed Lung-Eat my Goal

 

 

 

 

Eat My Goal. ‘Nuff said really!

 

 

5. Village People-Far Away in America

 

 

 

 

What isn’t to love about this song? It’s the 1994 Germany squad hanging out with the Village People.

 

 

4. New Order-World In Motion

 

 

 

 

That football song that made it cool to write and record a football song.

 

 

3. Fat Les-Vindaloo

 

 

 

 

This was going to be my number 1 song, but then I remembered the other 2. I still love this song. It reminds me of being at school and it was probably the last time I was confident about a football tournament. Silly boy…
 

2. Primal Scream-The Big Man and the Scream Team Meet the Barmy Army Uptown

 

 

 

 

This is a weird one as it actually talks about what it’s like to be a football fan, rather than just shouting and screaming “WE WON!”

 

 

  1. Pop Will Eat Itself-Cicciolina

 

 

 

This is my favourite football song of all time. It was released in 1990 after the World Cup was over, but it has everything you need. it’s catchy and danceable!

 

 

Pop Will Eat Itself – Touched By The Hand Of Cicciolina – Edited Highlights

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Happy Mondays

 

 

Lightning Seeds

 

 

Fat Les

 

 

New Order

 

 

Primal Scream

Underground hero has been knocking about in my head for a while

 

 

Dave Cloud is a man who shouldn’t need an introduction, but sadly he does. For a decade and a half he has been (along with his band The Gospel of Power) releasing some of the best soul garage punk rock ever recorded. Over the years he has been described as a mixture of Neil Diamond and Tom Waits. This is a good approximation. His lyrics contain the emotional content of Diamond’s, but with the experimentation of Tom Wait (along with slight vocal stylings).

 

 

In 2010 Dave Cloud released a live album called Live at Gonerfest. I generally don’t like live albums as they never quite capture the live event, but Live at Gonerfest is half an hour of high octane distorted garage rock. And it’s awesome. I have never seen Dave Cloud live (mainly because he rarely leaves Nashville), but hearing this album is the next best thing. The power and energy contained in these thirty minutes shows that in over 15 years Cloud hasn’t lost his passion or love of performing live.

 

 

Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – Motorcycle

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Angels of Light

 

 

Twink

 

 

Faust

 

 

Kevin Ayers

 

 

The United States Of America

The Don return, but what a return!

 

Mastodon release their sixth album (Once More ‘Round the Sun) this week. It is their first album in three years since 2011’s The Hunter. This is everything you’ve come to expect from a Mastodon album. The songs are hard and heavy and full of psychotic riffs that get stuck in your head for days. On The Hunter they went for a shorter sharper (pop if you will) sound and approach after the massivly complicated prog epic Crack the Skye. The Hunter was an amazing album and this less is more approach worked really well.

 

 

One More ‘Round the Sun is a back to basics album. It has more in common either their 2002 debut Remission than with Crack the Skye. This is a good thing as Remission is one of the greatest rock\metal debut albums ever. The songs aren’t as short and to the point as The Hunter, but you can see how they’ve tried to rein things in a bit. Although it is a bit longer than The Hunter, there is no fill here.

 

 

There are some down points. All of the songs a decent, but none of them really jump out at me like March of the Fire Ants, Blood and Thunder, Bladecatcher, Divinations and Octopus Has No Friends did. Maybe over time Alseep in the Deep will join this group. I hope so as I found this album enjoyable (and like all Mastodon albums) it gets better with repeat listens.

 

 

Mastodon remain one of my favourite bands because they never sit on their laurels. They are always trying to challenge, not just the audience but themselves. This is a band you can trust and reply on to always deliver the goods! Miss this at your own peril!!!!!

 

 

8/10

 

Mastodon – Asleep In The Deep

 


July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

Neurosis

 

 

ISIS

 

 

Melvins

 

 

Pelican        

 

 

Slayer

The best month of sport starts today, needless to say I’m excited!

 

 

I want to start this blog with a statement. I LOVE LE TOUR DE FRANCE! It is my favourite sporting event of the year. It has more action, drama and entertainment in one stage than the Premier League and Six Nations has in total. Each stage is more epic than the one that preceded it.

 

 

This year the race starts in Yorkshire (and I am going tomorrow!). To say I’m excited it putting it mildly. So what is it about a bike race that gets my juices going, I can hear you ask. The answer is simple. It’s you against the course. Yes I know that there are teams and each team leader is dragged over some of the more intense parts, but if you don’t keep peddling you go out. It’s basically that simple. I know that in the past there was a dark side to the tour, but hopefully those days are behind us and there won’t be any more doping scandals. I know that this is probably a pipedream, but it’s looking like the sport has taken a look at its reflection, didn’t like what it saw and has now had a haircut and a shave.

 

 

As I have said it’s an individual race, and it’s the individuals that make the sport what it is. In a way I look at professional cyclists the same as I look at professional wrestlers. They put their bodies’ one the line for the majority of year and if you pick up and knock (as long as it doesn’t put you out of action) you dust yourself down, grit your teeth and carry one. One cyclist (Tyler Hamilton) gritted his teeth so much he ground down 11 teeth to the roots. Another cyclist Eddy Merckx once fought through the pain and finished a race he had no chance of winning because if he’d dropped out, the winner wouldn’t get full satisfaction of beating him fairly. Both of these examples are insane I know, but this is part of cycling’s rich history.

 

 

I’m hoping for a close race. I’d love another 1989 when the race was won by 8 seconds, but I that this isn’t likely, but as long as the winner is challenged all the way to Paris I’ll be happy!

 

 

Kraftwerk – Tour De France Étape 1 – 2009 – Remaster

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Yello

 

 

Can

 

 

Gong

 

 

Soft Machine

 

 

Van Der Graaf Generator

Electro pop with one eye to the past and one to the future

 

 

This evening my wife and I went to one of her friend’s houses. When we arrived she was playing BBC 6 Music in the background. I never normally listen to the radio. This is a shame as I really like the medium and think 6 Music is the is arguably one of the best stations out there. It plays some of the most diverse and distinctive music. My reason for not listening to it as I forget it’s there and when I do remember it’s too late as the show I wanted to listen to is over, or its tie for bed. So I was looking forward to a night of hearing a swath of music I’d either never heard or forgotten I knew.

 

 

During the show this song came on and I found it wonderfully familiar but totally new at the same time. What really strikes me about this song is just when you’ve got it worked out, BAM it changes its sound and goes from being an electro track to a sweaty slick pop song and just as you’ve readjusted, SMACK, back to electro.

 

 

 

 

Sundial is taken from Cheaters debut EP. If this is what they are doing now I can’t wait to hear them in six months to a year!

 

 

CHEATERS – Sundial

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Cloud Boat

 

 

SOHN

 

 

Jaakko Eino Kalevi

 

 

The Acid

 

 

Ballet School

I love a fake band as much as a real band. Over the years I have been in my fair share of fake bands (this probably won’t come as a shock to some of you). Cinema and TV have given us countless fake bands over the years. For weeks I wanted the band in an episode of Game On (they were called Proactive) to actually be real and release something. After watching Crème Brule in the League of Gentlemen I stalked my Dad’s records trying to find something close (I failed). One of the best fake bands of all time came from one of the weirdest and worst films released. The film was Velvet Goldmine and the band were Venus in Furs.

 

 

Velvet Goldmine is an odd one. Part of it is Bowie biopic, part of it is a fanboy’s wet dream and the final part (which take up most of the film) is an exercise in excess and the surreal. I have fond feelings of this film, but I think that’s mostly for the soundtrack. As I mentioned is a Bowie biopic, but Bowie told Todd Haynes (the writer and director) that he couldn’t use his name or music. So a new Bowie was invented. Brian Slade. The film takes Slade from folkie up to the Ziggy persona era. In the film Ziggy is called Maxwell Demon. But instead of reinventing himself after the ‘death’ of Ziggy (as Bowie did) Brian Slade kills off the character and then vanishes from public. This leads to a journalist (played by Christian Bale) to write an article (20 years later) and speaks to people who knew Slade up until his fall from fame. Ewan McGregor plays a character based on Iggy Pop. The film is interesting as its discussing fame, failure, age, sexuality and music. At times acting feels a little hammy, but that was what Glam was all about really. Overselling everything and pushing it to the limit. The real stars of the film are the songs that had to be written, as the actual ones weren’t allowed to be used.

 

 

My main problem with the film (and soundtrack) is Ewan McGregor’s depiction of Iggy Pop. It’s beyond pastiche. Which is a shame as I really rate McGregor as an actor (I can even forgive him for Star Wars), and I love Iggy Pop’s music, but together it doesn’t really work. His covers of TV Eye and Gimmie Danger are woeful at best. I kind of hoped that as Bowie didn’t give them permission to use his songs the producers might write some Stooges-esque songs for McGregor to sing. Sadly this didn’t happen.

 

 

My favourite track on the soundtrack is Venus in Furs covering Roxy Music’s 2HB.

 

 

 

 

It’s wonderful and Thom York’s vocals are beautifully haunting and it a rare example of a cover being better than the original. I find it more punchy and luscious than the original and the “Here’s looking at your kid” line gets me everytime!

 

 

Venus In Furs – 2Hb

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Roxy Music

 

 

Grace Jones

 

 

Brian Eno

 

 

T. Rex

 

 

David Bowie

Death Grips call it quits

 

Sad day today. Death Grips has announced that they have broken up. The details are scratchy, but it seems like they feel that they are at the peak of their powers and are going to call it a day. While I understand their reasoning, I don’t agree with it. They have just released a new mini album and another one is coming out before the end of year. Why not just have a farewell tour and go out as heroes with a bang than with a tweet and a whimper?

 

Death Grips – Full Moon (Death Classic)

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Killer Mike

 

 

Battles

 

 

El-P

 

 

Flying Lotus

 

 

Madvillain

This week’s number one is pretty good, makes a change.

 

 

It dawned on me today (while I was waiting for a report to load at work) that I had no idea what the number one single was. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t know any number one singles this month, scratch that, this year! “I’ll rectify this when I get in” I said to myself. After a light dinner, the last 10 minutes of Argentina vs. Switzerland and having a bath I was ready (mentally and physically) to listen to it.

 

 

The first thing that stuck me was that I didn’t hate it. Yes it is very of the moment, but with the whoosh of that-thing-that-was-called-dubstep. What I really enjoyed is that it doesn’t have any annoying vocals that you normally find on pop dance\club tracks. I’m sure there are versions that are chocked full of dithering girl house whine, but one this version it isn’t there.

 

 

If this is the state of the charts they are in a better position than I thought. This shows that the general public aren’t as swayed by novelty records and reality singing competitions. I know that one song a good chart does not make, but I really enjoyed this, and it gives me hope that the British music industry is righting itself and good product is being released.

 

 

Oliver Heldens – Gecko – Radio Edit

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Laidback Luke

 

 

Tiësto

 

 

Axwell

 

 

Fedde Le Grand

 

 

Retro/Grade

 

 

 

This is a new feature I’m going to drop in every once and a while. It’s called Underrated\Overrated. Each time I will select an album that I feel is, this might shock you, either overrated or underrated and I’ll try and explain why. No doubt this will descend into me just being pedantic, petty, mean and over opiniated, but it should kill sometime and it might make your rethink something that you’d forgotten. For the first one I’ve picked R.E.M.-Monster. Personally this is the most important R.E.M. since Reckoning and Green.

 

 

Monster was released in 1994. Before its release R.E.M. said they were recording a rock album. People got excited. When it was finally released in September 1994, some fans were disappointed as it was the rock album they expected. Personally I loved it. This was probably because I didn’t know much about them before I’d heard it and I wasn’t comparing it to anything. Another reason why it might have received a slightly lukewarm reception, is that in 1994 US Alt-Rock was at its height and grunge was king. So this was definitely an influence on the album (Thurston Moore features on crush with Eyeliner).

 

 

Being 14 when the album came out there was something exciting about seeing them perform on Top of the Pops.

 

 

 

 

Watching it now it looks slightly tame and well, mid 90’s. Mick Mills still looks cool though, but at the time I loved it and it was a talking point at school the next day. “Did you see the R.E.M. video? It was mental, there was a guy dressed as a gorilla and he had a TOTP sticker on his arse!”

 

 

What I really liked about this album at the time were the lyrics. They were really dark and self-deprecating and quite funny. I’d ever really thought about lyrics before I heard this album. They were always just words that rhymed, but these lyrics connected to me like none had done before. The other thing that spoke to me was the music. It contained fuzzy guitars and as the production was quite muddy in places, it felt a bit like a live album. I just remember playing it for what seemed like forever (in fact it was probably a few weeks). It was a slight joke in my registration at school “Still listening to Monster?” I’d reply “Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” the normal reply was laughter. One time a girl in my registration group said “I like it too, but when you get bored by it let me know and I’ll lend you something you should like”. I can’t remember if I ever took her up on the offer, but I expect it would have been an L7 comp.

 

 

That’s how I felt about it then, how do I feel about it now? Pretty much the same. Since 1994 I have gotten in to lyrics more and I realise that the lyrics aren’t as good as I originally thought, but over the years they have taken on different meanings. I now understand more of what was going on musically and culturally and I get what they were writing about. I also think that the album is a lot darker than I originally thought. It contains a lot of rock clichés (rock star moaning about being famous and how annoying it is to be famous), but it still sounds like they’re having a good time.

 

 

As Monster didn’t sell as well as Automatic for the People (and it wasn’t a well-received) it was the start of R.E.M.’s slump. Personally I think that the run of albums from Monster to Around the Sun contains some of the most interesting and ‘classic R.E.M.’ songs they ever wrote. Yes they never reached the heights of Losing My Religion, Shiny Happy People and Everybody Hurts, but with songs like E-Bow the Letter, Daysleeping and Imation of Life who needs the others!

 

 

In closing I still find this as intriguing and enjoyable as I did the first time I heard it. I’ve never got bored of it either, because each time I play it I get something new from it. For me this is why the album is underrated. Granted it could be my personal experiences with the album that make it enjoyable. What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? was on a tape we played while we were drinking at a local park when we were 17. Strange Currencies was on a tape a friends sister always used to play when she drove us anywhere in her car. I spent a night at a friends after he’d either got dumped\rejected by some girl and he kept playing the final track You. In hindsight this should have really worried me, as the lyrics border on stalker territory, but at the time I was just there for my mate.

 

 

If you’ve never heard this amazing album, I implore you to play it. If you know and love it, why not dust off your copy and give it another listen for old time’s sakes, I know I will!

 

 

R.E.M. – Star 69

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Talking Heads

 

 

Pearl Jam

 

 

Bob Mould

 

 

Wilco

 

 

Patti Smith

Soul’s most distinctive light goes out after 70 years

 

 

Bobby Womack died yesterday. Such sad news.

 

 

Bobby Womack – Everybody’s Talkin’ (Single Edit)

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Gil Scott-Heron

 

 

Curtis Mayfield

 

 

Isaac Hayes

 

 

Bill Withers

 

 

Charles Bradley

Musings from a diner lunchtime

 

 

As has happened fairly regularly I find myself working at a new company. This brings lots of new challenges, but by far the most enjoyable is having a new set of options for lunch. As I walk round this slightly different part of London I’m struck with choice. There is so much choice that I don’t know if I’ll be able to try them all in the short time I will be at this company.

 

 

After wandering about for 10 minutes I knew I had to pick something quickly (as time to order and eat was running out). In the end I decided on a burger. This is a rare choice from me. It’s not that I don’t like burgers (I do), I just like most other things more. I went to Ed’s Easy Diner. If you haven’t been to their restaurants before you should. They offer up ‘good’ food from America’s golden age of dining. The place was small and cozy. It was full of all the things you’d expect from an American diner. A high counter and chairs that spin. Chequered tiled floor. The cook visible in the centre of the restaurant. Mini juke boxes on the counter playing the hits of the 1950’s and of course burgers and fries.

 

 

The waitress was attentive, but not pushy. She could see I was reading (Jamie S. Rich’s brilliant second novel The Everlasting, more on that in coming weeks) and I just wanted a place to get out of the Sun and have a good meal for thirty minutes. When my food arrived (Chilli Cheese Burger) I put the book down and started to take it all in. As I have said everything you expected was there, but then it dawned on me, it was too perfect. Ed’s Easy Diner is the Café Rouge of American Diners. It’s the idea of 1950’s America by someone who never lived it and had an unhealthy obsession with Happy Days.

 

 

These are my only criticisms (and they are petty at best). My burger was excellent and exactly what I was after. My shake was amazing. The music was some of the best I’ve heard over lunch for a long, LONG time and I will be heading back there again soon with others.

 

 

Johnny Burnette & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Trio – All By Myself

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Eddie Cochran

 

 

Ricky Nelson

 

 

Carl Perkins

 

 

The Coasters

 

 

Gene Vincent

Tom Vek releases his second album in as many years, has music’s recluse finally found his muse?

 

 

Tom Vek is a musician who’s talent you can’t ignore. He first burst on the scene in the heady days of 2005. At the time he was ‘one to watch’, but because of bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Libertines and all the other style over substance bands his debut (We have Sound) was largely missed by the majority of the public. Then as soon as he’d arrived he vanished. During this time his ex-band mates and cohorts said the was ‘working on something special’. Years went by (six in fact) before he release his second album. But it was worth the wait. Leisure Seizure came like a bolt of lightning. After hearing it you were reminded why Vek was such an exciting prospect in the first place.

 

 

Now three years (and three days) since Leisure Seizure come out Luck is released. As I play it I’m having a similar experience. It’s chocked full of great hooks, amazing melodies and enough forward thinking ideas to put most bands on the scene to shame. Luck is chocked full of pathos, social commentary and amazing couplets

 

 

One of the most interesting things about Luck is that Vek doesn’t stick to the same sound (as on previous album). It’s more eclectic. When each new song starts you know that it isn’t going to be the same as the previous one. I understand that this can give the album a disjointed feel at times, but at least it’s not boring!

 

 

If you like your indie music infused with electronica and clean angular guitars this is for you!

 

 

8/10

 

Tom Vek – Ton Of Bricks

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

St. Vincent

 

 

Clor

 

 

Clinic

 

 

Lightspeed Champion

 

 

Arab Strap

The UK’s biggest selling solo male releases new album, I really wished he hadn’t

 

 

Ed Sheeran X is an awful album. It could quite possibly the worst album I’ve heard in a long time. And I’ve heard some dross in recent months. I know it’s easy to take pockshots at Ed Sheeran, like fish in a barrel and junkies in an opium den. But when you make music as bad as this it’s pretty easy.

 

 

My main complaint is that the album is full of whinge and whine. Not the good whine that you drink during a nice meal, but the bad whine. I’m not saying that just because you become a wealthy international pop star and play sold out big venues after years of sofa surfing that things are easy. They probably are not, but given the life that Sheeran has many would happily trade places with him. A lot of the songs sound the same. This is probably because of Sheeran’s limited vocal range. It’s either falsetto or ‘rap’ and not much else in between.

 

 

My second complaint is that not only do the songs sound the same lyrically they sound the same musically too. They are all chocked full of Sheeran’s mournful finger picking and plucking. Again there isn’t much range here. A few of the songs have a ‘phat beat’ behind them but this does little to break up the monotony.

 

 

Overall this isn’t a great album. I know that I’m not the biggest Sheeran fan. I didn’t hate his debut +, but I didn’t love it. I thought there were some good songs, but on X I can’t find anything to get remotely interested about. Despite my criticisms of the album I’m giving it half marks as Sheeran can play the guitar and it is well produced, its just not my thing.

 

 

5/10

 

 

Ed Sheeran – The Man

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Newton Faulkner

 

 

Taylor Swift

 

 

Coldplay

 

 

Gabrielle Aplin

 

 

Gavin DeGraw

One of the pioneers of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who never gets boring

 

 

It’s Sunday and I’m not at my best. The reason is simple, too much Guinness and football, the cure isn’t going to be as easy. I need fresh air, Vitamin C the finest music known to man. This isn’t a quick fix, it will take all day to come to fruition. Luckily I have all day but it won’t be pleasant at times.

 

 

The music that I have chosen to start with is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was basically one of the best guitarists ever. Rumour has it that if it hadn’t been for her Little Richard and Elvis my not have sounded like they did. The music that she made is a mixture of the blues, gospel, a bit of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. Even now it’s nothing short of genius! She was doing things on the guitar that even now are just beginning to be realised. She was the real deal.

 

 

Didn’t it Rain is the song I have chosen, but the version I’m really loving is a live one. It was recorded in Manchester (of all places) in the mid 1960’s. The UK in the mid 1960’s was in love with the blues, so a tour was worked out and Sister Rosetta Tharpe was part of it. As you can tell from the video she’s happy to work the crowd, which in turn at happy to be worked.

 

 

 

 

So as far as my road to recovery is going, I thought be fine in a few hours, but for now I’m happy to sit and listen to a true legend at work!

 

 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Didn’t It Rain

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Lead Belly

 

 

Robert Johnson

 

 

Lightnin’ Hopkins

 

 

Bo Diddley

 

 

Bessie Smith

Spoon return and sound more vibrant and needed than ever before!

 

 

Spoon are back! 2014 will see the release of their eighth album in 14 years. Their last Transference came out in 2010 and was universally praised so this, as yet untitled album, has a lot to live up to. The details are sparse other than eight track names, pictures of them recording, some tweets about how good it is all sounding and a lo-fi video for new song Rent I Pay.

 

 

Luckily (as if we were ever worried) Rent I Pay is a brilliantly glorious lo-fi romp. Musically it has more of an edge to it than Transference. Britt Daniel’s vocals have more bite and bile to them than previously, and this compliments the fuzzed out guitar perfectly. After a few listens though you start to think that the guitar riff sounds familiar. This is because it does. The whole song is very similar to Sheryl Crow’s 1996 worldwide hit A Change Would Do You Good. Whether this was on purpose will remain to be seen, but it works and doesn’t detract from the song.

 

 

A special mention should go to the ‘unofficial video’. It fits the mood of the piece perfectly. In recent years the quality of music videos has gone down. They are usually mini-movies of some kind of cheesy hokey performance video. The director of Rent I Pay has tapped into the vide of the song and created something that matches the songs lo-finess, but doesn’t come across like half arsed and lazy. This is truly brilliant stuff!

 

 

 

 

Spoon – Rent I Pay

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Wilco

 

 

Death Cab for Cutie

 

 

Broken Social Scene

 

 

Coconut Records

 

 

Guided By Voices

England lose again, World Cup is in tatters, why does this sound familiar

 

 

Come on everyone let’s just admit that the national team isn’t good enough and won’t be good enough while the Premier League is ‘the best’ in the world. It’s a well proven fact that you can’t have a great league and a great national team. You have to pick one or the other, but not both. You can say “But XXX is the best English player in the league”, but that’s like saying the milk monitor is the best at carrying things in the class. I love the Premier League but until the FA realise that all revenue from televised rights is dirty money (yes Sky and BT I’m talking about you) and start to make rules that limit the number of foreign players that starts to actually strengthen the national team is means nothing. Sadly I realise that I sound like one of Racist Nige’s followers, but that’s what needs to happen if England are to stand a change at some bling.

 

 

If you look at how England have performed in tournaments before and after the invention of the Premier League you’ll see that it kind of makes sense. Italy 1990 is arguably the best England performance. No Premier League. 1994 didn’t even qualify just two years after the start of it. I know you’re saying “But Nick what about Euro 96?” and “World Cup 98 was alright and Euro 2004 was good and 2006 we got to the quarters and we robbed” but were we?

 

 

There are exceptions to this rule of course. The Spanish league is good and they have (until recently) the best national team in the world. If this World Cup is anything to go by they will slide down the world rankings. Is this due to the lack of young players coming through, or bad decisions by their coach? Hopefully it’s just bad decisions, but if there is a lack of quality coming through then it goes back to my original point that you can’t have a good national side and an amazing league.

 

 

Sorry for the rant but I think it needs to be said. I’ll end on a lighter note. At least England did better than Spain.

 

 

Hank Williams – Why Should We Try Anymore

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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If you like this why not check out

 

 

Johnny Cash

 

 

Townes Van Zandt

 

 

Patsy Cline

 

 

Merle Haggard

 

 

Hank Williams III

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