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

 

 

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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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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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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

 

 

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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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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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Neurosis

 

 

ISIS

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Johnny Cash

 

 

Townes Van Zandt

 

 

Patsy Cline

 

 

Merle Haggard

 

 

Hank Williams III

Colombia face the Cote d’Ivoire in the World Cup, if it was based on music there would only be one winner

 

 

In the World Cup this afternoon Colombia are facing the Ivory Coast (or Cote d’Ivoire which sounds cooler). This is a real six pointer as both teams won their opening. Arguably these are the only teams that stand a chance to progress from the group stages as Greece are awful this tournament and Japan appear to be in flux. Personally this has draw written on it, an exciting goal heavy draw, but a draw none the less.

 

 

If the match was being settled by music than Colombia would surely be the victors. Colombia has a rich musical heritage. They have their traditional music, as every country does, but I’m not going to mention vallenato or cumbia. For me the best period of Colombian music (apart from the reggaeton explosion recently) was in the 1960’s. just like Brazil’s Tropicalia scene Colombia has its own foray into rock music, but sadly isn’t not as well known. In the 1960’s after the explosion of American Rock ‘n’ Roll and the Beatles world domination Colombian kids were picking up electric guitars and trying it for themselves. Some of the bands just recorded some great covers (Los Speakers), others tried their own songs. Both resulted in some remarkable music.

 

 

Today’s song is by Los Flippers (of The Flippers as they were known in America and the UK). They were originally around from 1964-1975, but briefly reformed in the early 1980’s. Their sound is a mixture of psychedelic pop rock (like Brazilian’s Os Mutantes, but less weird). Their debut album was called Discotheque and is brilliant (as you can hear from the link below)! This contains everything I love about music. Firstly it’s a great track, secondly is kids making their own scene and thirdly it takes an existing sound\style and makes it better by adding local ideas and techniques. At times its breath taking.

 

Whether today’s game will go Colombia’s way will remain to be scene, but if they play like thisn record we’ll be in for a classic!

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Los Shains

 

 

Los Locos Del Ritmo

 

 

Los Salvajes

 

 

Los Ovins

 

 

Los Mockers

Lost Aphex Twin album is finally released, is it worth the wait? You better believe it!

 

 

Back in the heady days of 1994 Richard D. James was releasing music left right and centre. He was making so much music that some if it was destined to fall by the wayside. The Caustic Window album was one of these releases. Until earlier this year the album was considered to be another part of the Aphex Twin mythology. Now this is not the case. It’s very much real, very much released and very very good!

 

 

Musically Caustic Window LP doesn’t sound that different from a lot of the music James released around this time. It’s full of his trademark abrasive techno, but there is an added musicality on the tracks though. Opening track Fluety has a vibe that is missing on previous tracks. The main riff is as lyrical as it is touching. This is everything that Richard D. James’ music can and should be, it’s just a shame it’s taken so long to get released.

 

 

So after 20 years, does it sound dated, well, in a way it does. Dance music has evolved so much since the explosion in the 1990’s, but in another way it sounds fresh and vibrant. Maybe that’s because this type of music isn’t as popular as it once was and hearing it now makes it sound even more amazing. Whether now the secret Aphex Twin discography will be released or not will remain to be seen. Personally I hope that some more releases are drip fed to us music obsessives as if this is something that James thought wasn’t good enough for the Aphex Twin moniker then I can’t wait to hear the rest of it!

 

 

8/10

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Squarepusher

 

 

Boards of Canada

 

 

Amon Tobin

 

 

Autechre

 

 

Flying Lotus

Lana Del Rey’s second album picks up where the first left off, pity that

 

 

Lana Del Rey polarises audiences. You either love her or hate her. I am in the latter. I’ve never quite ‘got’ her. I get what she (and her team) is aiming for a mixture between Marianne Faithful, Nancy Sinatra, chanteuse and sleazy lounge singer. Her breakthrough hit Video Games played all of these factors off each other perfectly. When I first heard it (like a lot of people) I wanted to hear more. Sadly I then heard more and was bored. I get that Del Rey is depressed \bored\blasé with life, but the lack of range in the songs didn’t work for me. On her debut 2012’s Ready to Die all the songs sounded the same and had similar themes.

 

 

So what has Ultraviolence changed the formula? In short no. The songs are grander in their sound and scope. This is luscious music. Every instrument and drum beat sounds amazing. No expense was spared on the recording process. So this is an improvement. Lyrically Del Rey has pushed the ‘woe-is-me’ lyrics to their obvious conclusion. There are some witty couplets in there too. However all the songs have the same tempo, pace and sound. There is hardly any variation here, so after four songs it starts to drag a bit.

 

 

Lana Del Rey is the musical version of that girl in your class for wore dark expensive clothes, ripped holes in them, acted depressed when in fact her home life was perfect and she never wanted for anything and always got what she wanted. I really hope that Del Rey changes the formula for her next album as after two albums its starting to wear thin!

 

5/10

 

 

Lana Del Rey – Pretty When You Cry

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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MS MR

 

 

London Grammar

 

 

Nancy Sinatra

 

 

Brigitte Bardot

 

 

Marianne Faithfull

 

 

 

Just like the Dutch national squad, Martyn produces a five star performance

 

 

The last time we heard from Martyn he was making slightly murky, glitchy techno (2011 Ghost People) this week sees the release of his new album The Air Between Words. Musically it’s more of the same, but it’s slightly more ‘laidback’. The feel and sound of Air Between Words is slightly different, and it’s this tone that makes it more interesting than Ghost People.

 

 

Rumour has it that after Ghost People Martyn got rid of all his kit and bought a loads of synths, drum machines as he was influenced (at the time) by 1980’s pop. The level of composition is also higher and the use of analogue is inspired. While this change isn’t noticeable at first, after a while you start to pick up on certain nuances and it all starts to make sense. I’m not trying to claim that this is a pop record. It’s not. It’s still a techno record, but it’s laden down with hooks and melodies.

 

 

Another thing that sets this apart from Ghost People and his 2009 debut Great Lengths are the collaborations. The first single off the album was Glassbeadgames which featured Kieran Hebden. This is a match made in heaven. You can’t really tell where Martyn stops and Hebden starts (I hope they did more than this one track). The second collaboration is with Inga Copeland. This is the track that typifies this new aesthetic. It’s possibly the best pop song I’ve heard all year.

 

 

The Air Between Words is one the two perfect summer albums. It’s geared up to be played just after the sun as gone down at your World Cup BBQ\house party. It’s got enough going on to keep you listening, but it’s not bombastic enough to ruin the vibe after your country wins. This is an excellent addition to Ninja Tunes catalogue and to anyone record collection.

 

 

8/10

 

 

Martyn – Two Leads and a Computer

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Lone

 

 

Actress

 

 

Daedelus

 

 

Floating Points

 

 

Darkstar

Stuck at an airport on my birthday, aces…

 

 

So here I am, on my birthday stuck in an airport waiting for a flight that may or may not take off. We were woken up at 4.30 (after going to bed at 1 after the England game). The coach arrived at the airport at 6. No one told us what to do when we arrived there. Luckily we found the airline’s ‘helpdesk’ so we formed a line and asked what was going on. The staff were quite unhelpful and rude. Eventually we got a flight back to London, but we were told to use the self-service machine. Of the four machines we tried only one worked, but it wouldn’t print out tickets. It did however tell us that our flight back was via Amsterdam with an hour layover. At this point we’d had enough and just wanted to leave. We went back to the ‘helpdesk’ and asked for printed tickets. Then we were told that there was a direct flight and it leaves at 10.

 

 

So at the moment we are sitting in ‘our seats’ in the departure lounge waiting. I hope the flight is 100% as I’ve kind of had enough of Lisbon and it’s airport. To say sorry for the delay we have been given a 16€ gift token for some food. This is one birthday I don’t forget in a hurry…

 

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Aeroplane

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Jane’s Addiction

 

 

Faith No More

 

 

Blind Melon

 

 

Living Colour

 

 

Alice In Chains

England’s opening match raises a few questions, but answers more

 

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought (or even dared to say out loud) “That was a good performance” after an England game, but this is how I find myself. This might have something to do with the circumstances I find myself in. At 14:55 this afternoon I was meant to be on a flight back to England, to meet up with friends for a meal and then to watch the England game, but instead I’m still in Portugal and unsure if there will be a flight home.

 

 

We arrived at Lisbon’s airport at one in the afternoon. We passed through passport control with no problems, navigated duty free without spending a fortune and finding what we wanted, found a good spot in the departure lounge and had something to eat an hour before check in. We were set to go, apart from a slight hangover I was in optimum flying conditions. Our flight kept being put back, and back with no explanation. At 19:30 is vanished from the board. We freaked out a bit and tried to find an information board. None was at hand, eventually we found the transfer desk. There were four other English people in the queue, the airlines representatives were awful at best. After hanging around there for half an hour, they suddenly said we were on a flight that leaves in 5 minutes. So naturally we pegged it to the gate. Passport wasn’t as easy this time, but we made it with seconds to spare. One of our party got on the flight no problems, but we were told that we were not on the flight. We begged for two seats, but the hard faced senora wasn’t having it. We were sent to stand with the other flight rejects.

 

 

At 20:30 word got out that we were being shipped to a hotel for the night. By 21:00 (after eight hours in the airport) we left via coach for the hotel. When we arrived we were given a room and told that dinner was being served if we wanted it. We did. After we dropped off our bags, we went and found our meal. Normally at 22:00 I’m not hungry, or if I am I just think about going to bed and sleeping it off as it’s too late to eat, not tonight! The food was buffet style, but the choice was great. In the end I had a bit of everything (including soup and a desert). The hotel staff were second to none and we got a few free beers too. Now it was time to find a place to watch the England game. There was a massive screen and some brand new hotel branded deck chairs down by the pool, so we watched it there. I won’t go into the in’s and out’s of the game, but overall it was enjoyable and they looked ok. A bit shaky at the back, but I’m putting that down to first game jitters.

 

 

Now after the game we have been informed that we will receive a wakeup call an hour before the coach will depart for the airport. I hope its late as I’m knackered and need a sleep!

 

Mariza – Feira De Castro

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Carminho

 

 

Cristina Branco

 

 

Carlos Do Carmo

 

 

Amália Rodrigues

 

 

Oquestrada

The World Cup kicks off in style, well kind of

 

 

The World Cup started yesterday, but instead of being in my lounge, local, work bar, at my parents, etc, I am in Portugal for the Feast of Saint Anthony, otherwise known as the sardine festival. My information is slightly sketchy about it, but I was expecting a lot of sardines to be sold in markets, restaurants and bars. While this is going on the World Cup is also underway. The opening game was Brazil vs. Croatia. I’ve long been a fan of Croatia, so I was hoping that they did themselves justice.

 

 

What I wasn’t hoping for was what we got. Diving, playacting, some good football and a referee too scared of annoying the home crowd to award decisions against them. The penalty was a joke and the yellow card was a kick in the teeth. I watched the game in a backstreet barrio bar, on some steps with the game being projected on a neighbour’s wall. It was possibly the coolest place to watch it. Oh and the sardines were to die for. Cooked to perfection over hot coats and with a bit of bread for 3€.

 

 

Now that the festival is over (as is the opening game) we can concentrate on a month of football. Tonight I had the privilege of watching Spain vs. Holland at a fan park. This is everything the opening game (and in all fairness 2010’s final) should have been. It had everything. Gripping football, solid refereeing, up’s and down’s and goals, goals, GOALS!

 

 

The final score of 5-1 to Holland was a bit much, but they had made their point and laid down an early gauntlet. As much as I like the way Holland set up and play, I don’t for a second think that the tournament is theirs, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Spain and Belgium all have a say in the matter, but going on this result I wouldn’t want to play them anytime soon!

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Caetano Veloso

 

 

Os Mutantes

 

 

Rita Lee

 

 

Gilberto Gil

 

 

Gil Costa

 

 

 

The sisters Söderberg release third album, it the perfect summer record

 

 

Johanna and Klara Söderberg, better known as First Aid Kit, release their third album this week. It’s business as usual from the Swedish pair, but they have raised their game and released 38 minutes of pure summer heaven.

 

 

Stay Gold sounds like it was recorded in the mid 1970’s in LA. The album oozes sunshine, this is party down to their beautiful vocals, but is also tantamount to their playing. The lyrical content of the album is anything by sunny at times. The melancholy you feel on Cedar Lane makes First Aid Kit seem older than their years. It is this “old head, young body” that separates them from their peers. Instead of writing about things in the third person, you get the feeling that they have lived every minute of each song.

 

 

This is definitely one that will be the soundtrack to all of my BBQ’s and parties this Summer season!

 

 

8/10

 

 

First Aid Kit – Cedar Lane

 


June 2014

 

 

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Laura Marling

 

 

The Secret Sisters

 

 

Smoke Fairies

 

 

Anna Calvi

 

 

Sun Kil Moon

New album 48:13 lives up to its title

 

 

Kasabian’s new album 48:13 does exactly what it says on the cover. It lasts 48 minutes 13 seconds. Lead single Eez-Eh (or Easy) made me dread this album as it was worse than music by numbers. It was a dreadful dirge that took three minutes of my life that I might need to pick out a pack of screws or (which might be more valuable) it robbed me of three minutes of sleep. After listening to the 48:13 I can say that it is a hell of a lot better than Eez-Eh lead me to believe. This isn’t the best thing that they’ve released, nor is it the pinnacle of any musical movement, but it’s not awful.

 

 

My main problem is that Kasabian are five albums into their career. This is the sound of a band that have a few interesting ideas, but when taken to their logical conclusion the results aren’t that great. This can be heard on the shorter tracks with brackets in their titles. As bridges between tracks it works ok (and is less annoying than the fake radio snippets on the third Queens of the Stone Age album), but I would rather have one or two of them as proper tracks (even instrumentals) than as they stand now. What they have basically done is take the sound of their debut and try and update it, but sadly the lyrics aren’t as clever and witty and the music doesn’t have the same power ten years later. A reason for this is that I feel Kasabian never got over Christopher Karloff leaving. One of the reasons why the songs sound flat is that on their debut he filled in the gaps, now he’s not there the gaps are all to plan to see. Treat at seven minutes is too long. They could easily shave two minutes from it and the album would be all the better for it.

 

 

A lasting problem with the album (and this may cause problems going forward) is that it appears to a slight power struggle going on. Serge Pizzorno writes all the songs and Tom Meighan sings them, but on recent albums Serge is singing more and more. Will this power struggle eventually mean that one of them leaves? I hope not, but musical history is littered with hundreds of these instances so only time will tell.

 

 

Overall this is Kasabian trying to make a party album, but sadly it’s a party that you don’t really want to go to because the host can’t hold his drink, rants at you about conspiracy theories and you leave early with a headache. This isn’t the worst album they’ve made (Empire holds that award), but it’s nowhere near their best. Which is a shame, as when they are on form Kasabian are better than anyone! But don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

7/10

 

 

Kasabian – doomsday

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Beady Eye

 

 

Franz Ferdinand

 

 

The Courteeners

 

 

The View

 

 

Kings Of Leon

Lazaretto is an enjoyable mixed up kid of an album

 

 

Lazaretto is a mixed up kid. It swaggers, cry’s, screams and rocks, but at its heart it’s a straight up blues record. Just take the opening track Three Women. It’s a straight blues track from its composition, lyrical structure and feel. It’s bloody brilliant! Son House would approve!

 

 

Jack White is one of music’s best chameleons and re-interpreters. Depending on his mood he can basically do anything. This comes across on the title track Lazaretto. The main riff sounds remarkable close to the OJ’s classic For the Love of Money. Due to this riff the track takes on the feel of a hip-hop track. The beat is large and heavy and the lyrics have more venom than we are used to.

 

 

High Ball Stepper is the stand out track. It is an instrumental that has more in common (musically) with The Dead Weather than with The White Stripes. It is a heavy fuzzed out rocker with tinges of spaghetti western to it. It’s inclusion in the running order really closes the first side perfectly. Just One Drink opens side two. This side has a more laidback countryesque feel to it. The songs are slightly more introspective than on previous releases. That Black Bat Licorice picks up the pace a bit with its slight reggae feel to it.

 

 

Overall Lazaretto is a great album. A lot about the album can be taken from its title. Lazaretto means a hospital for people with contagious diseases especially leprosy. When making an album it must like being isolated form the rest of the world, so this might explain some of the lyrics and a few vibes of the pieces. One of the downsides is there isn’t an overall theme to tie it all together so at times it feels a bit of a mish mash. It does have plus sides though. The production is second to none and the use of fiddle is a great inclusion (Why Can’t You Be Nicer To Me is my favourite White Stripes song and it is down to the fiddle).

 

 

8/10

 

 

Jack White – High Ball Stepper

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

 

 

Alabama Shakes

 

 

The Von Bondies

 

 

Beck

 

 

The Greenhornes

Death Grips do it again, surprise release an album with Bjork, game changed!

 

 

Just when you think you have Death Grips pegged, they release an album from nowhere and it takes control of your world. It is everything that we’ve come to expect (and respect) from Death Grips, expect they’ve added vocal samples from Bjork. This adds something different to the mix.

 

 

The inclusion of Bjork’s vocals (abet even as samples) adds a vulnerability that has been missing from their trademark abrasive hip-hop sound. This doesn’t mean that Death Grips have gone soft or pop, but the change is subtle. This might be their most rounded release and possibly the best thing they’ve released since 2012 Money Shop.

 

 

As this is the first part of a new double album, it is safe to say that over the next few months interest (and hype) will go through the roof and if this introduction is anything to go by part two should be just as good. Whether Bjork will appear on the next part will remain to be seen, but her inclusion so far is nothing short of genius!

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Grimes

 

 

Killer Mike

 

 

Sleigh Bells

 

 

Jeremiah Jae

 

 

The Gaslamp Killer

England match disrupted by lightning storm

 

 

Tonight’s pointless England friendly was postponed for 40 minutes by the threat of a lightning storm. This ruined what could possibly have been a good match. After the match was restarted it ended up being a bad tempered foul match. I don’t have anything against Honduras, but they should have had at least two players sent off.

 

 

It was the match no one wanted and the outcome that England fans feared. Time will tell if anyone has a serious injury, but fingers crossed that no one has.

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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The Tornados

 

 

Little Eva

 

 

The Shangri-Las

 

 

The Chiffons

 

 

Manfred Mann

Led Zep re-issue their first three albums digitally

 

 

This week sees the re-issue of the first three Led Zeppelin albums (I, II and III). This is a massive deal, not just because the albums are all amazing, that they have been digitally enhanced, but because they are available on i-tunes and Amazon. Next to Pink Floyd this this is something that music fans thought they’d ever see.

 

 

The new albums sound even better than they originally did and as it’s a Friday it felt like the perfect track.

 

 

Enjoy!!!

 

 

Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Jimi Hendrix

 

 

Pink Floyd

 

 

The Yardbirds

 

 

Black Sabbath

 

 

Rainbow

London Grammar do it again, shame I’m nonplussed by the results

 

 

I’m not a massive fan of London Grammar. London Grammar represent a new batch of bands that are popular, have a lot of hype about them, but ultimately do nothing for me (also see Metronomy, Everything Everything, Alt-J, The XX, and The Maccabees to name a few).

 

 

With their current single Sights it’s business as usual. Their trademark sound is still in effect. Laid back trip hop, electronica, indie pop with husky whispered vocals. It’s all very well produced and played but it does little for me. The song meanders along nicely and then it stops, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Where is the oomph!

 

 

I know that my main problems with this song are my own. But I just can’t get into it (or them). Maybe there will be a eureka moment when I hear a future song and I finally get it, but at the moment I don’t get it. What they are doing isn’t new or that ground breaking. They are following the formula that Saint Etienne and One Dove laid down in the 1990’s. Maybe it’s a sign of age, but I’d rather listen to them than London Grammar.

 

 

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Clean Bandit

 

 

Flume

 

 

One Dove

 

 

Saint Etienne

 

 

Björk

Avalanche Party unleash their softer side with new single

 

 

The North East has a stigma of a bit of a wasteland. Due to certain reality TV shows and away football fans the opinion is that there isn’t much there and what is there isn’t that great. The inhabitants have more in common with Cro-Magnon Man than the rest of the population. After witnessing the marauding away football fans I attest to the similarities, but if you were to judge a place by its football fans you would only go to places where either football doesn’t exist or they have a lacklustre team.

 

 

Luckily with the new single from Avalanche Party this myth has been laid to rest. The single is chocked full of emotion and pathos to make even the hardest of us feel grateful for what we’ve got. The song starts with a classic soul organ riff. It reminds us of those classic Stax and Chess slow numbers. This conjurors up images of repentance and pulpits. Given the title this is a deliberate choice, but it works.

 

 

I’ll Get Through (the B-Side), has a more speakers corner feel to it. Jordan Bell is still preaching, but he’s probably doing it after a few pints. It is a mixture of previous single Obstacle (https://thisyearinmusic.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/26022014-avalanche-party-obstacle-2014/) and Praise. It has the soul swagger of Praise, but the sound is rougher and heavier. On Obstacle they sounded like the MC5, now they sound like the MC5 but without the explosive feedback (and chanting).

 

 

Avalanche Party claim that “Nobody comes from where we come from” Musically speaking that might be very true. Part of hopes more did.

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/avalanche-party/praise

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Retriever

 

 

MC5

 

 

The Sonics

 

 

Flamin’ Groovies

 

 

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

 

 

The Fall

 

 

Side project starts to surpass original bands

 

 

Parakeet are one of my favourite bands. This can be equated to two simple factors. Firstly they make brilliant noise pop and secondly because they come from two bands I have a lot of time for. The bassist and singer is from Yuck and the drummer is from The History of Apple Pie. Independently they continue to push the boundaries of indie music with their respective bands, but collectively they can push it even further (and take more risks) as this isn’t their day job and if the results aren’t as polished it doesn’t really matter as no one is worried about hit singles.

 

 

Today Parakeet announced that they will be releasing a new EP later in the month. It will be a limited edition cassette (hopefully a cassingle), but if you pre-order you get the MP3’s now. So pre-order I did! Musically the EP is different from 2012’s Tomorrow 7” and the Shonen Heart EP. On the original releases the mix was a bit thicker and muddier, but the Pink Noise EP is following a less is more approach. The guitars are crisper, the drums cleaner and vocals sharper. The final track Magic Queen, is a fuzzed out rocker with hooks and vocals that make your heart melt. Quite frankly it’s the best EP I’ve heard for a long time.

 

 

Going forward it’ll be interesting to see what Parakeet do next. Rumour has it that there is an album in the pipeline and the threat of some live shows. If the three releases are anything to go by the album is be a noise dream pop classic!

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/parakeet/pink-noise

 

 

 

http://www.marshalltellerrecords.com/bigcartel-item/parakeet-pink-noise-ep-1

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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The History of Apple Pie

 

 

Yuck

 

 

Toy

 

 

Savages

 

 

Retriever

Three years in the making, but well worth the wait!

 

 

Taylor McFerrin began releasing music in 2006. The music be made was a hybrid of beat boxing and down tempo house. It was the logical progression of something his father (Bobby McFerrin) started in the 1980’s. Using the voice as an instrument, rather just for singing. The technique isn’t new, but mixed with contemporary dance music the results were effective.

 

 

Fast forward to 2011 and Taylor released his next single. A Place in My Heart was released on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder inprint. Brainfeeder have released some of the most forward thinking electronica music in recent years, and A Place in My Heart fitted in perfectly with this mind set (http://thisyearinmusic.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/11072013-taylor-mcferrin-featuring-ryat-place-in-my-heart-2011/).

 

 

This week sees the release of his debut album Early Riser. Has it been worth the wait, or has the suspense and hype destroyed what could have been a good album. Luckily the album lives up to and surpasses all expectation.

 

 

Early Riser is an apt name. McFerrin has managed to evoke that feeling you get when you wake up before anyone else, the world is bathed in a warming glow from the Sun and anything seems possible. The album is ethereal and dreamlike, but with a firm hold on melody. McFerrin’s lyrics are half whispered half sung adding to the early morning mood. The beats are hard and clear, whereas the synths and keyboards (slightly prog like at times) are woozy. You feel that they are all around you, a little like mist but more warming and less damp. At times it makes you think that this is the kind of music Prince should be making, if he hadn’t lost the plot a bit and starting writing on his cheek. It has that swagger his songs used to have.

 

 

I usually hate this analogy, but some of the tracks feel like musical paintings. I don’t mean in the Ken Nordine way. The background is laid down by the bass, drums and vocals, but the detail in the foreground is applied by subtle keyboards, hand claps, backing vocals. Each have been delicately added for texture and to enhance the story of the piece.

 

 

If this is the future of soul then I can’t wait to hear the reinvention of the genre!

 

 

8/10

 

 

Taylor Mcferrin – Already There

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Floating Points

 

 

Teebs

 

 

Romare

 

 

Mount Kimbie

 

 

Ghostpoet

74 year old film still holds up after a 27 year absence inbetween viewings

 

 

There isn’t much I can really say about Disney’s Fantasia, apart from it’s about as close to perfection as a film can get. It contains some of the most amazing animation I have ever seen. This is not mean feat considering this film is over 74 years old. Techniques have advanced at an alarming rate over the last five to ten years, and films that were cutting edge then, now look a bit hokey. Luckily this hasn’t happened with Fantasia. The use of different styles in specific scenes adds to its distinctive feel. Take the final sequence (Night on Bald Mountain). The way that the different disciplines and styles are merged seamlessly shows that Fantasia was not meant to be your standard animated Disney film.

 

 

Fantasia isn’t just fascinating because of its look. When you get to the brass tacks of it, Fantasia is basically an Avant-Garde art house film masquerading as a mainstream film. The film is Walt Disney’s love letter to classical music and the feelings and emotions it creates in us. All of the classical pieces are totally different in style and composition, each animated segment needed to different too. This diversity helps to tell a different story. At the start of the film Deems Taylor explains that “What you’re going to see are the designs and pictures and stories that music inspired in the minds and imaginations of a group of artists. In other words, these are not going to be the interpretations of trained musicians, which I think is all to the good. Now there are three kinds of music on this “Fantasia” program. First, there’s the kind that tells a definite story. Then there’s the kind that while it has no specific plot, it does paint a series of more or less definite pictures. And then there’s a third kind, music that exists simply for its own sake”. Sounds great doesn’t it?

 

 

When the film was originally released in 1940 critics raved over it, but I do wonder what Joe and Jane Public made of it? It must have been a bit of a departure from Snow White, Pinocchio and the Silly Symphonies from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Apart from Taylor’s introduction inbetween the sequences there is no dialogue (or sound effects) in the whole film. While this sounds taxing it works perfectly as you aren’t drawn away from the animation and the music (which is the main event). The narratives of the stories aren’t lost by useless plot devices. It’s total film making (Like Holland’s total football, but more film based and less orange shirts).

 

 

On a personally note this film has stuck with me since I saw it in the cinema in the 1980’s. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequence haunted me for years and don’t let me get started on the two closing sequences Dance of the Hours and Night on Bald Mountain. Every time I hear Bald Mountain I get flashbacks of sitting in a darkened cinema watching the Devil on top of a mountain with this minions below dancing (it also reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes audiobook too). This is the power of great cinema! I was one of the first people in my class to see it. When I went back to school the next day I was asked how it was. They were expecting a rabidly positive response (we all like Disney back in those days), but as my response was a tad lukewarm my fellow classmates weren’t chomping at the bit to see it (some ever went and saw a Carebears film instead). In hindsight I wish I could go back and wax lyrical about it (as only a preteen can do) as I feel they missed out on a cultural experience.

 

 

Mickey Mouse dressed up at the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is one of the most iconic images in the Disney canon, but I do wonder what percentage of Disney fans have seen this masterpiece. I’d probably say less than half. If you are in this percentage I urge you to track down a copy (or see it in a cinema if your local Cineplex is showing it). The film has only got better with age, and what other 74 year old’s can you say that about!

 

 

Leopold Stokowski – The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, Dance Of The Reed Flutes

 

 

June 2014

 

 

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Leonard Bernstein

 

 

Boston Pops Orchestra

 

 

London Symphony Orchestra

 

 

Philharmonia Orchestra

 

 

Philadelphia Orchestra

Jazz’s most forward thinking maverick would have been 100 today

 

 

Happy Birthday Sun Ra! You would have been 100 today if you hadn’t of died aged 79 in 1993. Sun Ra (AKA Herman Poole Blount AKA Le Sony’r Ra) was one of the most experimental, forward thinking, controversial, amazing and crazy jazz musicians, scratch that, musicians ever.

 

 

Ra’s music (like his life) was colourful, chaotic, poignant and unorthodox. Claiming that he was from Saturn (rather than the Earth like the rest of us) he channelled Sci-Fi influences in his work (1968’s Outer Spaceway Incorporated and 1972’s Space is the Place are two of the finest examples of this). These albums fit perfectly into his Afrofuturism views (he was one of the first to start pushing this on the mainstream). The music was a mixture of Bop, but with a modal twist. Even now they are ground breaking and haven’t lost any of the magic.

 

 

Today Ra’s influence can be felt throughout music. One artist who channels Ra more than any others is Ras G. Musically they aren’t that similar, but once you get beneath the surface of Ras G’s music you can’t help notice the similarities. Ras G’s last album Back on the Planet is a massive homage to Ra (from the cover to the Afrofuturistic themes). In a recent interview he said (when asked what his first impressions of Ra’s music were) “I never heard a record like it before, it was spiritual, bluesy, and cosmic all at the same time. It made me go back and buy more Sun Ra”. Ras G’s reaction isn’t a one off. After you have listened to Ra’s music (and got it) there is no turning back and you want to hear more and more.

 

 

I’m going to sign off now as it’s late in the morning and these Sun Ra records aren’t going to play themselves. If you’ve never experienced a Sun Ra track before, why not today (on the 100th anniversary of his birth) to give it a go.

 

 

Sun Ra – The Antique Blacks

 

 

May 2014

 

 

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Ras G

 

 

Jaga Jazzist

 

 

Lonnie Liston Smith

 

 

Motor City Drum Ensemble

 

 

Charles Cohen

 

 

 

North London Alt-Rockers release new EP, it’s a master class in loud-quiet-loud

 

Wolf Alice have been making waves for a few now. Their Blush EP was a high light from last year, and this year’s Creature Songs EP looks set to repeat this feat with their mix of folk, alt-rock and pop. It shouldn’t all work together but it does.

 

What makes Creature Songs so impressive is that although we’ve heard this before (abrasive guitars and soaring sweet vocals) Wolf Alice make it all their own. This is loud-quiet-loud to perfection. Not all the tracks are bombastic blasters though, Heavenly Creatures is a beautifully touching piece of music, the like of which I’ve not heard for a while. This is important as it shows that they aren’t a one trick pony. This will serve them well in their future. Final track We’re Not the Same starts off slow, but when it hits the halfway point it explodes in a wall of feedback and wailing guitars (and vocals).

 

Wolf Alice’s future looks extremely bright, the only concern isn’t the music they’ll make, but the public’s interruption of it. Over the years we have seen countless band start brightly, garner praise across the boards, but through no fault of their own, interest dwindles when the ‘next big thing’ comes along. I really hope that this doesn’t happen with Wolf Alice and I don’t think it will. They’re sound isn’t meant for mass consumption (at the moment) so hopefully they’ll keep their heads down and their blinkers on and continue to craft wonderful music like this EP.

 

 

Wolf Alice – We’re Not the Same

 

 

May 2014

 

 

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Swim Deep

 

 

Drenge

 

 

Royal Blood

 

 

Dan Croll

 

 

Hole

 

Debut single from gravel voiced singer songwriter

 

 

John J Presley sounds like he knows the darker side of life. He’s songs are filled with anger, pain and heartache. He has been compaired to Tom Waits, Charles Bukowski, Johnny Cash and Jack White. I can see where people are getting this from. He’s music is heavy, brooding and pushed to the limit.

 

 

Presley is an artist who knows his range and not to push it. His vocals very rarely get above a gruff roar or a hoarse moan. This matches the subject matter perfectly. The A-Side (Left) is a stomping rampage that answers the question of what a Death from Above 1979 and Nick Cave collaboration would sound like. For me the B-Side is the real tour-de-force. It is a haunting track that begs for repeat listens.

 

 

My only problem with this single is because of his influences none of it sounds that original or ground breaking. I hope that with subsequent releases he finds more of his own voice and style, but at the moment I’m just left thinking that while it sounds good, I’d rather listen to the original artists than John J Presley.

 

 

6/10

 

 

John J Presley – Devil’s Daughter

 

 

May 2014

 

 

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

 

 

Death From Above 1979

 

 

Tom Waits

 

 

Charles Bukowski

 

 

The Blood Arm

Speedy Wunderground marks its first birthday with the comp of the year!

 

Some labels seem like they have been around forever. Speedy Wunderground feels like this. The actual truth is that it has only been around for a year. One of the reasons for this feeling is that they release a new 7” single every couple of months. So far they are up to seven and it feels like they haven’t even got started yet!

 

Speedy Wunderground is the brain child of producer extraordinaire Dan Carey. After getting sick and tired of record labels sitting on finished tracks for months before release, Carey decided enough was enough and started his own label. The concept is simple. One song. One day. Dan invites a band (or artist) into his studio and they have a day to write, record a song. Over the course of the next week Carey and engineer Alexis Smith mix and master the song, then send if off for pressing. A few weeks later the finished product arrives and can be sold. What could go wrong? If the first seven releases are anything to go by very little!

 

“But what about the B-Side Nick?!” I can hear you asking. Good question reader let me explain. If the song that is recorded is a beast (Steve Mason, Scotti Brains and Childhood we’ll deal with you later) the B-Side is a dub version crafted by Carey and Smith. These dub versions aren’t half arsed throwaway tracks. In the case of Toy & Natasha Khan, the dub version outshines the A-Side.

 

The label is prefect for this age. Musicians, producers don’t want to wait for up to a year for their new music to come out and fans don’t want to wait either. Also as vinyl is throwing off it death robes and making a comeback fans was high quality product to play on their decks. All this is feeding into Speedy Wunderground’s hand.

 

As Carey’s CV is chocked full of some of the biggest and best bands and artists round picking the releases must be pretty easy. It’s a musical equlivant of being Manuel Pellegrini “I want him, her and them!” Rumour has it that in the pipeline there will be releases from Django Django and Baxter Dury to name two. The only down side is that there are only 250 per pressing so you have to get in quick, or you may miss out and have to pay over inflated prices.

 

Here is the complete Speedy Wunderground’s discography

 

SW001  Steve Mason and Emiliana Torrini-I Go Out

 

The first release of a new label\imprint is sometimes the most important as it sets up the whole thing. Steve Mason handles the whole thing perfectly by allowing Carey (and backing band Toy) to reimagine an old Black Affair electro demo track as a twisted psyched out rocker. The song starts off simply enough with a call and response verse, under pinned by the kind of music we’ve come to know and love from Mason. It isn’t until the three minute mark that the song starts to show its true colours. There is an explosion of sound and the song goes up a few notches. This is where Side 1 ends. Side 2 continues, but the music is slightly darker and heavier. It’s a perfect introduction to everything that Carey and the label stands for. This is the stand out release!

 

SW002  Archie Bronson Outfit-I was a Dead Duck

 

Next up is the Archie Bronson Outfit to get the Wunderground treatment. Veterans of the studio and recording circuit this must have appealed to them. The song they produced is four and a half minutes of swirling, bassy lo-fi dance funk. If you’re thinking of a more ‘indie’ ESG, you are on the right track. The middle eight is the stand out passage. It is moment when band and producer merge to create something wonderful. The B-Side is the first dub version of the series. It takes the main riff and expands it through woozy synths and vocal refrains.

 

SW003  Toy & Natasha Khan-The Bride

 

After backing Steve Mason, you wonder that Toy will come up with. The answer is something almost other worldly. It opens with a simple, yet beautiful, piano line. Natasha Khan starts singing in almost hushed vocals, then BAM the song switches a gear. The pace increases, tension and drama are now introduced. Just when you don’t know what will happen next the original piano line reappears. After a verse, the song starts to build pace again. It’s reminiscent of cyclist who has lead for the majority of a mountain stage summoning the last ounce of energy to get the win and keep his title hopes alive. (Here Come) Dub Bride is the flip side. This is a master class of how to dissect a song to its most basic and elemental parts, yet to end up with something that is more powerful than the original.

 

SW004  Scotti Brains-Keep Your Eyes Open Boy

 

Keep Your Eyes Open Boy is another double sider. This song I think it closest to Carey’s original idea for the label. In an interview he once said “When you’re recording something, there’s a moment that comes just after everyone having learnt the song enough to be able to play it, where it just sounds amazing, because it’s slightly on edge, because no one’s 100% sure – I want to record that bit. Not the bit once it’s been rehearsed and played and played. It could be better once it’s been gigged for a while and turned into a real thing, but it’s that moment where everyone’s like ‘oh, shit!” The song sounds like a seven minute jam track, but that doesn’t take anything away from its charm. It runs the gambit of indie, space rock, krautrock, prog and psychedelica. It’s seven minutes of joy!

 

SW005 Kate Tempest-Hot Night Cold Spaceship

 

So far all the releases have sounded a similar. One aspect that marks a label against another one is the depth of its catalogue. On the fifth release Carey opted for the up and coming (yet relatively unknown in most circles) Kate Tempest. This release is a no brainer. Dan Carey recently produced Tempest’s debut for Big Dada, so getting her involved in this series makes perfect sense. In previous releases the lyrics have taken a back seat to luscious music, but SW005 turns this on its head. The music is not the main event here. Tempest’s vocals and words are. This is everything we have come to expect from her. Street philosophising with a moral twist. The music sounds like Underworld’s Born Slippy but reimagined for the after clubbing generation. Hot Night Cold Spaceship (Mr Dan’s Monday Morning Dub) sounds like a totally different track. Instead of stripping the track down, he’s layered it up. This is a stand out release, possibly the best release of the series so far.

 

SW006 Childhood-Pinballs

 

Childhood bring the sound back to indie rock. This is another double sided track. Childhood are another band who were recording their album with Carey and he decided to give them the Wunderground treatment. I think that the results speak for themselves. This is just under seven minutes of indie ambient dream pop with a middle 8\transition last pulled off by Franz Ferdinand. It good, but compared to the other five releases this falls a bit flat. The second side doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere. Scotti Brains worked well because it was a free flowing jam track, Pinballs however feels like it needed to be reined in a bit.

 

SW007 Juce!-Braindead

 

The most recent addition to the catalogue is Juce! They are a three piece group from London. They’re sound and style is late 80’s early 90’s. Bomber jackets, pony tails, disco tinged pop songs. It works well and is refreshing to hear. This is the most refreshing release to date. It does against the grain of what is going on at the moment. The dub version is ESG tinged which only adds to its charm!

 

So there you have it. Speedy Wunderground is one. To mark this occasion they are putting out a compilation of all the releases so far on the 26th May. The CD version comes with bonus tracks and is the compilation of the year so far. So let’s raise a glass to Dan Carey, Alexis Smith and all at Speedy Wunderground who has made the last 12 months slightly better by putting out some of the best music I’ve heard in recent years. As Carey says it’s “Just for fun and for the sake of music” and if that isn’t worth a toast I don’t know what it! I can’t wait to see what they put out in the next 12 months!

 

9/10

 

 

Scotti Brains – Keep Your Eyes Open Boy

 

May 2014

 

 

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Steve Mason

 

 

Archie Bronson Outfit

 

Toy

 

 

Kate Tempest

 

 

Childhood

 

 

Neil Young releases one of his most personal and enjoyable albums to date

 

 

Where do you start with Neil Young? Do you say that his career has spanned 50 years and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down? In that time he has released over 35 studio albums and countless live albums? He’s personally put money in to an electric car project? Or that his Pono audio system is arguably the best sounding digital files that have ever been released? Or should I just say Neil Young is my favourite singer songwriter EVER! Possibly, but with Neil Young, you don’t have to say these things, as everyone knows them, and countless other facts about this Canadian legend.

 

 

This week sees the commercial release of his latest album A Letter Home. Originally a vinyl only release by Jack White’s Third Man Records. Rumours were going around that the Jack White and Neil Young were working together, but the information was shady at best, then one night (without a fanfare) it was available on the Third Man website. Needless to say it sold out immediately it is now getting the digital and CD treatment. This is a back to basics album. It features Neil Young on an acoustic guitar (sometimes with a harmonica) and that’s it. Musicians have released stripped down albums before, but I’ve not heard any that sound like this. It was recorded at Third Man studio on their Voice-O-Graph. A Voice-O-Graph is a machine that allowed people to record songs, poems and letters home directly on to a vinyl record. They were popular in American in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but sadly have vanished. That is until Jack White got his hands on one and restored it. The concept of the album is simple, the album starts with Neil Young recording a piece to his Mother and then playing some covers. The second side of the record follows the same plan. It works really like (like all simple ideas do) and it doesn’t sound hokey either.

 
The covers that were recorded range from Bob Dylan, Bert Jansch, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson, Tim Hardin, Bruce Springsteen and the Everly Brothers to name a few. These are clearly songs that mean something to Neil Young as he plays them with passion, pride and respect, but what gives them more power is their authenticity. The recordings actually sound like they were found in a junk shop under a pile of discarded blues and classical records from the 1940’s. I get the same chills from listening to this as I did from Johnny Cash’s American Recordings. There is something wonderful about a voice that has been through the ringer and still sounds beautiful.

 

 

After listening to A Letter Home I immediately played 2010’s Le Noise. This album is also just Neil Young and guitar (Old Black this time). The two are companion pieces (even if they weren’t conceived that way), but A Letter Home is more moving. As I’ve said this is probably down to the song choices and recording methods, but there is something under pinning the music that really gets to me.

 

 

There are no down sides to this album, apart from at 39 minutes is seems a little short, considering two tracks are just spoken word pieces and another cover would have polished it off perfectly. I’m nit-picking here. This is one of the most honest and beautiful albums you will hear, not only this year, but in any year.

 

 

9/10

 

 

Neil Young – On The Road Again

 

 

May 2014

 

 

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Grateful Dead

 

 

Willie Nelson

 

 

David Crosby

 

 

Leon Russell

 

 

The Byrds

QPR clinch playoff final victory in dramatic fashion

 

 

The call (well text) came 48 hours before. It was form one of my best friends and it was simple. “Do you want to come to the Wembley on Saturday for the final”. My immediate response was yes, but I wasn’t sure what plans we had, so I played it safe and declinded. Then the day before I got a similar text. Someone else had pulled out, could I make it? This time I accepted. “There is a slight catch though” my friend replied “ I’m in Bosnia with work at the moment and my flight home is Saturday morning, I should be able to get there just before kick-off”, “Fine” I replied “See you on Saturday”. Luckily I live not that far from Wembley, so it was all sorted.

 

 

I got on the bus just before one. I wanted to get it time so that traffic wouldn’t make me late while my friend (who is a QPR fan) was sitting outside waiting, chomping at the bit to go in. Sods law I got to Wembley even earlier that I planned. So I looked around some shops, got a bottle of juice from a shop and made my way to the stadium. Wembley is a weird place. It has no real charm, this is probably because at least eight times a year marauding football fans surge through its high street, pubs, bars and restaurants. Wembley has no need to be aesthetically pleasing. What’s the point? It would only get it thrown back in its face. Locals know better than to drift too near the stadium on match day.

 

 

As I was weighing up whether I should get a programme or not one of the largest thunderclaps I’ have ever heard erupted over head. Then the rain came. I made a break for the shopping centre near the stadium. After a few minutes I realised this wasn’t a light summer shower, so I decided to look at the shops the fans could check out. It’s a mixed bag really. On the front and back of the shopping centre there are the usual restaurants and coffee shops that you expect to see, but in between them were sandwiched a most eclectic range of shops. Chapelle Jewellery next to Clarks, Villeroy & Boch rubbing shoulders with Nike and Viners cozying up to Claires Accessories. Is this what sports fans want?

 

 

Luckily there was a break in the rain and I made a dash for the stadium. It was now half past and I was hoping my friend would be near soon. I checked my phone and realise I had a missed call and a next text. They both said the same thing “Flight delayed, should be there by quarter past”. Not being a massive QPR fan I wasn’t that bothered by this slight delay, but I felt bad that my friend would miss the start of the match. I found a dry spot and pulled out my book. Over the next 30 minutes I read a few chapters, checked my phone sporadically for new updates, nothing came so I took no news to be good news. Just after kick off I got another text. “Bloody trains! Make that 20 past”. I went back to the routine of reading and phone checking. 20 past went and my friend was nowhere to be seen when I got the next text “I’ll be there for half past”. Half past came and went when I got the last text “See you in 7….” When my friend finally arrived (and we were in the stadium) it was the stroke of half past. He was breathless. He had run from the station all the way up Wembley Way (no mean feat) and he was now knackered. Over half time I left him get his breath back and filled him in what we’d been up so since we last saw each other. Then it was time to head in. The score was 0-0. Luckily he’d missed nothing.

 

 

When we found out seats (six rows from the front, eight seats from the QPR dugout) we asked his mates what the first half was like “The worst 45 minutes” one of them said “What worse than last time we saw them?” my friend asked “The worst 45 minutes, forget football!”. We had missed nothing. The second half kicked off and QPR did nothing. Derby pushed and pushed and pushed, but couldn’t score. At about 60 minutes QPR has Gary O’Neil sent off, but Derby still couldn’t score. At 70 minutes it was still 0-0. I said to my friend “Derby won’t score. You’ll get a freak goal and win. Don’t worry!” My friend didn’t share my optimism and looked worried. At 80 minutes is was still 0-0. The buzz around was that they’d win on penalties. I didn’t think it would get that far. On 89 minutes the freak goal I spoke of happened. A Derby defender (who hadn’t had much to do all game) played on Bobby Zamora by mistake and BAM! 1-0 to the R’s! The crowd went crazy. All you could hear was “Whoa Bobby Zamora!” to the sound of the White Stripes-Seven Nation Army

 

 

 

 

Just before he scored the fourth official put up the “3 Minutes” sign. All that was left to do was wait and count down the clock. When the final whistle went the stadium exploded. Flags were being waved, scarfs were brandished, Derby were taunted, grown men cried and players danced on the pitch. When we left (40 minutes later) the party was still going on.

 

 

We decided to hear to Shepherd’s Bush and have a celebratory drink before my friend had to get his train home. Had his day been worth it? Being delayed in Bosnia for 20 mintues, not allowed to land for another 15 minutes, then being held in the plane for another 10? Then having the worst run of tubes to drop is luggage off and then head to Wembley? Yes! Of course it had. The football fan is a very different breed to the rest of us. Despite the cost and length of time it took to get there, he was there when his team won at Wembley. This is something that isn’t going to happen very often. Even as a neutral it was hard not to get excited jump and sing with joy. This is the power of football!

 

 

 Pigbag – Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag (12″ Verison)

 

 

May 2014

 

 

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Everyone’s favourite Blues Psychers channel calypso’s spirit to great effects

 

 

The name of Arrowe Hill should need no introduction, but unfortunately they do. Formed in London 1999 their name is where founding member Adam Easterbrook is from in the Wirral (what is it about the Wirral and psych indie bands?). They are about to release their seventh album this year. Originally their sound was more psychedelic indie, but in recent years this has been toned down and elements of acoustic blues has been added. A lot of the lyrics lean quite heavily towards the darker side of life. I don’t mean they sound like the musical version of a JD Ballard novel, but they incorporate (Hammer) Horror, the occult and ghost stories. Blues Matters magazine once said they are “MR James meet Elmore James”. Personally I think a more truthful line is Arthur Machen meet Son House (but this lacks the punch of Blues Matters quote).

 

 

So enough of the past what of their future. As they are signed to Ouija Board Entertainment, maybe we should consult the spirits? As I’m in a rush to go out I’m going to play their new single instead. Around the Corner is two minutes of classic oAH. The verses and chorus are short and catchy and the calypso\bossa nova feel of it makes it infectious. This is the sound of the summer, not only because of the World Cup in Brazil, but because it’s light, airy and fun.

 

 

If Around the Corner is anything to go by this could be the most interesting oAH album in a long time, but I expect that the rest of it will be like it’s brothers that proceeded it. Short, sharp and slightly spooky. Whatever it turns out like I for one cannot wait!

 

 

 

 

May 2014

 

 

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Guided By Voices

 

 

The Aardvarks

 

 

The Eighteenth Day of May

 

 

Circulus

 

 

The Minders

Long overdue debut album allows Indie Electro princess to ascend to the throne. Coronation will take place nightly on current tour

 

 

Life as a Dog has been a long time coming. K.Flay first appeared on the scene around 2009. She self-released a few mixtapes that were chocked full of out of the box ideas and game changing production. She also managed to create some remixes that outshone the originals. Then she went quite. Rumour had it that she’d signed a major label deal. It turned out this rumour was true, but all that was released was the excellent Eyes Shut EP in 2012. For some insane reason nothing happened. It contained the monster We Hate Everything. This should have been the song of the year (it was for me), but it was unfairly slept on by all media outlets.

 

 

 

Again she went quite. In 2013 she released the mini album West Ghost and What If It Is EP. These showed that her absence has been well spent. They were slices of filthy indie electro pop. The only down side was that they didn’t quite hit the high mark of her earlier work. Then (as usual) she went quite.

 

 

That is until earlier this year when she announced that she had ended her major label deal, lost all the songs she recorded, had started from scratch and now finally had her debut album. Life as a Dog is the album we’ve been waiting for K.Flay to release! It is arguably the album of the summer. On Life as a Dog K.Flay has answered all her critics (and peers) and raised the bar on what ground-breaking, forward thinking pop music should be in 2014.

 

 

A lot of debut albums fall down as all the songs sound similar and there is not much depth or range to them. This is not the case here. Some of the tracks are absolute bangers, some are beautifully intimate (due to sparse production) and others are ballads (well lyrically at least).

 

 

In a way her time with a major label did her good. K.Flay is now a more focused and passionate musician for going through system (release dates months after songs are finished, bureaucracy and their fickle need to ‘hits’ over quality product and artist development) and this new found self-belief is visible (or audible) on Life as a Dog.

 

 

This is one of the best albums of the year (or any year for that) why aren’t you listening to it now!!!

 

 

9/10

 

 

K.Flay-Fever

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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What better way to spend a Saturday, then in the park listening to Blues

 

 

Today the Ealing Blues Festival starts off. The line-up looks stronger than in previous years. Kicking off the Festival is the Robert Hokum Blues Band. Robert Hokum isn’t a straight up bluesman. Over the years he has incorporated different styles to create something different. Well worth a watch.

 

 

The Others R&B get the party started on the South Stage. Over the years the South Stage has generally had the more interesting and less traditional music than the Main Stage. This year is no expection. The Others R&B get the party started. The Others R&B started in the 1960’s and still have the same line up, that have played all over the world and it’ll be a pleasure to watch them this afternoon.

 

 

The highlight of the afternoon is Rabbit Foot at the main stage at 3.30. They are a duo who play a stripped down blues rock. They play fast and their songs are catchy has hell. Think Imelda May fronting a swamp blues bar band and you’re on your way to getting their sound. Miss this at your own peril!!!!

 

 

 

Jerimiah Marques and the Blue Aces are on the main stage from 5-6.30 for laidback evening blues. Don’t forget your dancing shoes for this one! But you want something a bit more heavier, but no less danceable head to the South Stage for Robin Bibi Band. This is classic blues reminiscent of Double Trouble (in places). It should be the perfect place to watch the Sun go down.

 

 

At 7 at the Main stage Connie Lush and Blues Shouter are on. Lush has one of the best voices to he heard all weekend! It can hit the highs perfectly, but can also hit those gravelly notes that few people can.

 

 

 

 

On the South Stage from 7-8 is MACK. These are relatively new kids on the block as they only formed two years ago. If you like your blues like the Rolling Stones (or early Aerosmith) then this something that you won’t want to miss! Expect lots of hard riffs, guttural vocals and harmonicas! What more do you want?

 

 

 

 

Closing the first day of the festival goes to Big Boy Bloater and the Limits and Devil Drives. Big Boy Bloater is on the South Stage 8-10. He takes the Cowpunk sound of Jon Wayne and the Blasters, adds some distortion and comes up with something slightly heavier and more interesting. This could be the most interesting band on the bill today.

 

 

 

 

The Devil Drives sees Robert Hokum closing the festival (after he opened it on the South Stage). As the Main Stage dictates this is big family friendly fun.

 

 

So there you have it. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than checking out any of these band!

 

 

Rabbit Foot – 1234

 

 

July 2014

 

 

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