youtube sensation covers classic, and makes it his own

 

 

As more and more music venues are closing across the country, more and more musicians are making the switch to youtube to get their songs and covers out there. One of the best of this new breed of virtual troubadours is ortoPilot. Hailing from Manchester, ortoPilot has been uploading covers, and original compositions to youtube for 8 years. On top of that he has released 15 albums, which are available on Spotify.

 

 

His most recent video is a cover of Radiohead’s Karma Police. Instead of it being a guitar cover, this one is a piano cover. What he has effectively done is recreate the emotion and power of the original, but strip it back to its bare minimum, voice and piano. Through using these basic elements the song takes on a new feel. Another reason why the song has an emotional feeling is that it was recorded for a close friend of this cousins’ who’d died. All of these factors add to a beautiful performance to a powerful song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Alt-12-Days-of-Christmas fun. On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten Lordz of Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

nine ravers raving

 

 

 

 

Eight Owls a drunking

 

 

http://hungoverowls.tumblr.com

 

 

Seven swinging couples

 

 

 

 

Six rappers guesting

 

 

 

 

FIVE COLD BEERS!

 

 

5 Cold Beers

5 Cold Beers

 

 

Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

Original Christmas tracks ever rang so true

 

 

Since I have been with my wife we have never spent Christmas together. That’s five Christmas’ apart. This year will be no different. On Christmas Eve we will say our goodbyes for a week or so and decamp to our respective parent’s homes. We’re (slightly) ok with this, as it’s the way it’s always been, but it’s not much fun.

 

 

At last there is a Christmas song about it. What Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems have done is captured the feeling perfectly. Well done Rodgers et al, you might have released my favourite Christmas song this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Alt-12-Days-of-Christmas fun. On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ravers raving

 

 

 

 

Eight Owls a drunking

 

 

http://hungoverowls.tumblr.com

 

 

Seven swinging couples

 

 

 

 

Six rappers guesting

 

 

 

 

FIVE COLD BEERS!

 

 

5 Cold Beers

5 Cold Beers

 

 

Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

 

Indie troubadour records traditional Christmas album for charity

 

 

There isn’t really much to say about this one, other than its possible the best version of traditional Christmas songs I’ve heard all year. David Thomas Broughton has again proved why he is one of the best musicians on the scene at the moment. He has taken a classic Christmas song, yet somehow made if feel contemporary, without losing any of its traditional charm.

 

 

The EP was recorded in his house and thanks to this lack of technical equipment David Thomas Broughton had to get creative with how he was going to tackle each track. His voice has been layered and the pitch has been changed, to add texture and tone.

 

 

The Holy and the Ivy is the stand out track. This might be because it’s the one I know the best, but there is something about the production and voice that makes to a compelling listen. If you only buy one Christmas album/EP this year, you could do a lot worse than getting Wintertime Songs 2014.

 

 

 

 

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More Alt-12-Days-of-Christmas fun. On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight Owls a drunking

 

 

http://hungoverowls.tumblr.com

 

 

Seven swinging couples

 

 

 

 

Six rappers guesting

 

 

 

 

FIVE COLD BEERS!

 

5 Cold Beers

5 Cold Beers

 

 

Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

A nice slice of Pop-Step for a Thursday lunchtime.

 

 

Some track need lengthy explanations by hack journalists, like me. Some songs don’t. Luckily this is the latter. While this track skirts pop, there is enough filth and bass going on to keep it credible.

 

 

 

 

Over the years pop music has corrupted and debased many a noble genre of music, it’s involvement with dubstep/heavy bass electronic music is the most worrying. Deep down we all know that dubstep ever really existed as a genre, it was a term coined by lazy journalists to explain something that a handful of producers were doing about 10 years ago. As we are aware, the weight of this exposure meant that the scene became bloated and eventually imploded on itself. Sadly now it is a bit of a dirty word, like Jungle in the late 1990’s, which is a shame as some of the tracks still sound great and fill me with the same excitement as when they first came out.

 

 

In the world of Pop-Step this is a great track. While the lyrics aren’t ground breaking, the interplay with the music is inspired. They sway and intertwine until the filth switch is pressed and then BAM it’s a total banger. Although it is a filth off, it still retains a pop sensibility that keeps the bass from melting your eardrums. While I totally understand that this isn’t a new song, and I’ve probably missed the boat, it’s still a great way to spend a Thursday afternoon. Listening to this. On repeat. While working.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Alt-12-Days-of-Christmas fun. On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swinging couples

 

 

 

 

Six rappers guesting

 

 

 

 

FIVE COLD BEERS!

 

 

Beers

Beers

Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

Four tracks in seventeen minutes, don’t mind if I do

 

 

Some tracks start with a whimper, other fade in slowly, and some start with an explosion of feedback. King TV’s Don’t Wanna Go Home, is with the latter. After a rousing drum intro the most Britpop riff kicks in. This is the most Britpop thing that’s ever happened, well this side of 1997. If Echobelly and the Longpigs formed a super group it might sound a bit like this. The narrative is simple, you go to a gig, stuff happens, you don’t want to go home.

 

 

Despite the sound, don’t be fooled, this isn’t Britpop by numbers, nor is it a pastiche. What King TV has done effortlessly is take a tired formula and slightly changed a few things, and breathed new life into it. Each track on the Play on Forever EP is filled with this playfulness. Unlike the original slew of Britpop bands, there is no sarcasm or cynicism in the lyrics. This is just big fun music.

 

 

On the December 22nd, King TV at playing at the Brixton Windmill. This looks set to be one of the best gigs during the Christmas period. If you are in the area, go on down for a proper Christmas knees up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Alt-12-Days-of-Christmas fun. On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Six rappers guesting

 

 

 

 

FIVE COLD BEERS!

 

 

Beers

5 COLD BEERS

 

 

Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lo-Fi Acoustic Ambient introverted folk is the order of the day

 

 

As the monolith that is Christmas spreads it’s shadow over our lives more and more, the thought of food comas gets closer and last minute panic buying starts to seem like a good idea, we need to step back from the brink, stop and reassess. During these moments of contemplation, a soothing soundtrack is needed. This is where MXLX comes in.

 

 

In two years Matt Loveridge has released over 20 albums/EP’s. These are spilt over different aliases Klad Hest, Fairhorns, Gnar Hest, Knife Liibrary, Speed the Plough, Matt Williams and MXLX, as well as being a member of BEAK>. Not bad going. His latest album, Go Away, released through the excellent French label Valeur d’usage Records, is a lo-fi ambient acoustic affair (Loveridge calls the music Autistic Blues).

 

 

This is a fair description as the music is abstract and sketch like in places. Some tracks are nothing more than beautiful chord progressions, with misty drone like synth/keyboard in the background. In Loveridge’s own words “Combination of misery and poverty and having nothing else to do brought this record on”, this is an apt description, but there is beauty to it too.

 

 

I Am Not a Functional Human Being opens with a simple riff, layered with rhythmic strumming. As the track progresses the strumming gets faster, lyrics kick in and finger picking is introduced. All this add to the tension and the feeling of alienation grows. This being said, the music isn’t depressing, it’s upbeat in places. The Hate (Continues) seems simple enough. It’s just guitar and some humming. The complexity of the playing and the rich sound envelopes you, and draws you into its world.

 

 

MXLX is a similar artist to Jackamo Brown and Lupen Crook. They are not content in sugar coat everything like their pap-chart peers. They show you a mirror to the world where everything isn’t rosy, but it’s not all doom and gloom either. They populate their tracks with the ‘other side’ of society. The loners, drifters, people who are depressed/have mental illness, and show that there is beauty in them too. At this time of year, this is an album you can’t afford to miss out on.

 

 

8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@thisyearinmusic

 

 

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me FIVE COLD BEERS!

 

 

Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Queen of Country’s Christmas album ticks all the boxes

 

 

When you think Christmas, Country music might not feature, but think again. There is wealth of quality Christmas song, and Holiday themed albums out there. One of the better ones is Dolly Parton’s Home for Christmas. This wasn’t Parton’s first foray into Christmas music. In 1984 she released the amazing Once Upon a Christmas with Kenny Rogers. This was chocked full of festive favourites. Six years later Parton released a solo Christmas album Home for Christmas.

 

 

The song selection was similar. A few hymns, a few holiday favourites, but there weren’t any originals though. Overall this doesn’t matter, as tracks selected where all gold. The stand out track is We Three Kings. The power of this track is Parton keeps it simple and never deviates from its original arrangement. Opening with melancholy mandolin and dulcimer, Parton delivers a classic performance. As the track builds and sways, Parton’s country twang gets stronger.

 

 

This is a classic Christmas album. While it isn’t the best (more on that later in the month) its not far off. Don’t take my word for it though, why not play it while decorating your tree today, or at your Christmas cocktail party.

 

 

 

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Part three of an alternative 12 Days of Christmas

 

 

On the Third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

Christmas themed EP that delivered not just Christmas cheer

 

 

Covering tracks is never an easy thing. You either stick close to the original source and get criticised for playing it safe, or you veer so far away from the original that you can get accused of blasphemy. John Whiles pitches himself somewhere in the middle. There is enough of a baritone croon going on to keep the purists happy, but the inflection separates it from the original. There is a slightly sardonic and sarcastic inflection that gives an old song new meaning. It’s the perfect way to get this EP going.

 

 

Another Disappointing Christmas however is the main event. Opening with a simple piano/organ riff, with Whiles’ voice layered to sound like a choir, however at halfway through the vocals start to merge and glitch and the tracks takes an unexpected turn. A massive beat kicks in and you have something that could never be called a Christmas song. Imagine Aphex Twin remixing Radiohead.

 

 

Winter is Blue is another cover, this time by reclusive folk artist Vashti Bunyan. Bunyan’s tracks have a distinctive feel, due to her voice and the guitar playing. Whiles does a great job making it his own, but never leaving the charm of the original. Last up is another original Ring Out Wild Bells. This track is chocked full of longing, hope and festive cheer.

 

 

Overall this EP is possible the best collection of new, and old, Christmas songs I’ve heard in a long time. The original compositions sit effortlessly with the covers. This is Christmas music with a twist. Its reminds me of watching Tales of the Unexpected on Christmas Eve with my parents. Things look normal, but under the surface things everything is slightly skewed. John Whiles is defintly one to watch going into the new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now for the second installment of an alternative 12 Days of Christmas

 

On the Second Day of Christmas my true love gave to me Two songs by Love
And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

Had enough of Christmas music? The antidote is here!

 

 

Christmas is well and truly upon us. For the Ralphie Parker’s is never last long enough. However the Frank Cross’ among us it can’t be over quick enough, and although it’s the twelfth you still have another twelve days to do before it’s all over. If you are like Frank, you might need an alternative to Slade, Wizard, Shakin’ Stevens and the Wombles being rammed down your throat and ears.

 

 

Money for Rope is that alternative. Sounding like a mix of Misfits, Music Machine and the Walkmen, they make a Punk Surf Pop that is hard not to enjoy. On latest single Easy Way Out, the Erik Scerba’s pulsating drums are the main event. Julian McKenzie’s vocals soar and growl and the middle 8/solo really makes this a formidable track.

 

 

What makes this really refreshing is that it’s fun. Recently bands have been making very serious, dour sounding singles and albums. Yes we are going through some tough times (economies crumble, Human Rights are being violated and the far right is on the rise), but sometimes you just something big, loud and proud and this is exactly what Money for Rope do. Rumour has it there is an album in the pipeline. If this year’s out-put, and this single are anything to go on, it will be an album you can’t afford to miss!

 

 

This evening sees them playing their last UK show before heading home. They are part of their label’s (Killing Moon Records) night at KOKO in Cambden. Also on the bill are label mates Sons & Lovers and the KM DJ’s. Get tickets HERE, or queue in the cold to get one. This looks set to be a Christmas Party you won’t want to miss!

 

 

Now for the Ralphie Parker’s out there, here is an alternative 12 Days of Christmas

 

 

On the First day of Christmas my true love gave to me a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lo-Fi troubadour releases one of the surprise hits of the year

 

 

King of Cats is anything but conventional. From his style of music to his singing voice. He’s not aiming for the mainstream. He’s shows take in everything from a midnight choir, heartfelt crooning, mournful laments, drone rock and at times he’s a one man Sebadoh. Whether he’s the main act or not, you will remember his set.

 

 

He’s now released his third album Working Out. To say it’s lo-fi is to describe the Sun as yellow. The only way it could have made it more lo-fi, it would be have been recorded on Dictaphone tapes and the whole album was improvised. Having said that there is plenty of good stuff on Working Out to engage with.

 

 

Opening track Orb Weaver is a touching duet with Alanna McArdle, you know her from Joanna Gruesome/Id, that has one of the best lines of the year “Not everybody gets the joke” shrilly sung. At a recent gig, KoC closed the set with this and spent what seemed like 5 minutes just screaming “Not everybody gets the joke”, louder and louder while feedbacking his guitar. As previously mentioned (http://wp.me/p32DDF-CD), Orb Weaver is a firm favourite at thisyearinmusic towers. Dead Lamb is a war cry for “Big Bellied Boys” to stick together. On Brasso KoC sounds like he’s been heavily influenced by Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack. There is a slow and brooding harmonium in the back ground that works perfectly with the juxtaposition of the shrilly, nasal vocals. Ulcers does what it says on the tin. Final track Chuggers questions what it is to be a man in society. These aren’t throwaway topics, despite their appearances.

 

 

The strength of the album comes from its honesty. As the tracks sound like they were recorded in an intimate space, you feel that KoC is singing, not just to you, but for you. At first his voice can grate, but after a few plays, you get used to it, and it starts to become the integral part of the songs. There is something about it that draws you in. There is a limited amount of elements to the tracks guitar/voice and the rhythmic, almost hypnotic guitar playing is really effective. The dissonant chords heavy chords, coupled with the high pitch vocals creates something wonderful and unlike anything else around at the moment.

 

 

 

8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://artreeks.bandcamp.com/album/working-out

 

 

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Norwegian jazz band celebrate 20 years by releasing a boxset that celebrates the past and future of the band

 

 

What do you get if you mix Charles Mingus, Squarepusher, EPMD, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk and Boards of Canada? Apart from the best mixtape ever, you get some idea of what Jaga Jazzist sounds like. Formed by two brothers, Martin and Lars Horntveth, in Norway in 1994, Jaga Jazzist has grown from being a side project while the brothers were in a pop group, to touring the world, releasing critically acclaimed album on Ninja Tune and performing with the 25 piece Britten Sinfonia.

 

 

Their second album, A Living Room Hush, released in 2001 brought them to the attention of the world, as the BBC said it was the best jazz album released that year. Even now thirteen years later, A Living Room Hush still sounds like an insight into jazz’s future, yet hinting at it’s past. Opening track Animal Chin sounds like a fairground carousel, being run by psychotic and demented clowns and organ grinders. While the intensity is slowly heightened with each rotation of the carousel, there is no threat of malice or danger. It’s good clean fun. Airborne is a glitch-tastic jaunt through laidback, and at times romantic riffs, until the maelstrom at the end leads to a beautiful outro. Low Battery is one of the most traditional tracks on the album. It’s a slow building horn track, but there is plenty bubbling under the surface to keep you on your toes. Mingus and Monk would approve!

 

 

To commemorate this monumental event Ninja Tune, Jaga’s home since 2001, have decided to release a boxset. Like all Ninja Tune boxset’s, it sublime. It consists of a re-issue of A Living Room Hush on limited edition coloured vinyl, and two bonus coloured 12” records of re-working of classic Jaga tracks.

 

 

Jaga Jazzist

Jaga Jazzist

 

 

One of the standout tracks is Clark’s remix of Banafluer Overalt. What Clark does effortlessly is to take a mellow track, and cherry pick a few elements from it, mix it perfectly with a funky beat and bassline to create something that never deviates from the original’s vibe, but has a dance floor sensibility. As Christmas is coming up, why not buy this for that jazz electronic music fan your life.

 

 

 

 

http://ninjatune.net/release/jaga-jazzist/94-14

 

 

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Good things come to those who wait, and wow, this is worth the wait!

 

 

Regular readers will know about my love for Speedy Wunderground. Everything about the setup is quality. The idea is about as punk/DIY as you can get. 6 releases a year. 24 hours to write and record a song. 1 week to master, and to create a B-Side (if one is needed) and then off to the pressing plant. A few weeks later 250 7” singles return. The studio is badass and the man in charge of the whole thing is possible the best producer working in music at the moment. The one, the only Mr. Dan Carey.

 

 

This week sees the release of the ninth instalment in the SW saga. It contains the two brightest lights in the UK Hip-Hop scene. I won’t bore you with the back story of Kate Tempest and Loyle Carner. All you need to know is that they are young, hungry and insanely talented. The track that they created Guts, with Mr. Dan at the controls, could possibly be the Hip-Hop track of the year, but I’ve already waxed lyrical about this (http://wp.me/p32DDF-Ei), let’s concentrate on the B-Side.

 

 

Mr. Dan’s Balloon Dub, concentrates on a simple back and forth between Kate and Loyle but with a dub version built around it. What makes this B-Side shine is that Dan’s production is so against what is going on at the moment that you can’t help take notice of it. At times it sounds like the RZA at his peak, but without being lost in a sea of Kung-Fu samples and bass.

 

 

By the time you read this, SW009 will be sold out. Sorry about that, but you were warned early about this. Best start saving those quids for eBay and Discogs, which will be the only place you’ll probably find this now. Other than wait 6 months for the Speedy Wunderground – Year 2 compilation next year…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My morning cup of tea just got Audrey Horne’d

 

 

Over the past few months I have been spending my Saturday and Sunday mornings trying to find the right album to play over the first tea of the day.Many albums have been played, but the recurring ones are The Boss-Nebraska, Tomita-Bermuda Triangle, Orange Can-Entrance High Rise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Wonderful World of Disney-Disney Favourites. This is a bit of a curve ball, but the sequence of Bella Norte, I’m Late, Colonel Harti’s March, Cruella De Ville, Pink Elephant on Parade, Never Smile at a Crocodile and Lavender Blue is almost perfect for these early morning Dorset Tea brews.

 

 

This weekend however there has been a new contender for this crown. The album in question is Soundtrack from Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti. Twin Peaks is one of my favourite programmes. Since my childhood it has transfixed me. Part of the transfixing was the plot. Who Killed Laura Palmer and why? The other part was the music. There was, and is, something sinister, yet pleasurable about the music. It’s strange rhythms and structures pulls you in and you can’t help click your fingers, or dance like The Man From Another Place to it.

 

 

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

 

 

This is exemplified by Audrey’s Dance. The way the keyboards, horns and bass intertwine is just fantastic. It is totally perfect for internal monologuing while drinking the first tea of the day. So why not start your Sunday with one of the best scores ever made, and settle down with a damn fine brew (or coffee, if you want to me authentic).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At a loss tonight? Why not come along to this. It’s better than watching X-Factor…

 

 

After the success of last month’s Club Ealing gig at the Drapers Arms, they’re back again with an even stronger line up. Tonight’s bill includes Luge, Ella and the Blisters, the Chairs and Northsyde.

 

 

First up is Luge. Not much is known about Luge, as they’re kind of a local secret, so if you want to find out more, you’ll have to come to the Drapers Arms.

 

 

Next up is Ella and the Blisters. This seven piece band draw that incorporates blues, gypsy swing, jazz, folk and country to create something totally original, yet immediately familiar. Latest single Alcoholic Flaw showcases this sound perfectly. After one song they will have you jigging like someone possessed!

 

 

 

 

Local heroes The Chairs take the stage next. This quartet mix blues and heavy rock perfectly. Sounding like a mix of Led Zep, Chuck Berry and the Mars Volta they have been destroying every band they play with and winning over fans all across a the capital. If they continue at this pace, it won’t be long before they’re playing bigger venues.

 

 

 

 

Last, but not least is Northsyde. Since 2006 this four piece has seemless mixed blues, funk and rock. This winning formula has seen them play all over Europe. Seeing them in such an intermit environment will only add to the set.

 

 

 

 

Luge are on at 7.30 and it’s free. Why not make a night of it and get down early. I know I will!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“I’ve run out of things to say, and I’ll be on my way” is the opening line of Hunck’s new EP. You can take this in two ways. Firstly is it just a lyric in a song that helps tell a story/get the narrator’s feelings across. Or secondly have Hunck run out of ideas?

 

 

 

 

Toy Trucks is a lament about the loss of innocence and how we all die eventually. Moerbeke is predominantly an instrumental, but it does have a chorus of “Aha-aha-aha”. This is the most engaging track on the EP as Hunck turn autopilot off and let rip for a few minutes. The remaining three tracks are instrumental. These range from a Casio keyboard riff, to something that wouldn’t be out of place in an art house film when someone dies or when someone is walking in thought through a city or by a river.

 

 

At times it is hard to get excited about some of the EP. Sounding like a mixture of the Flaming Lips at their most melodic and the Arctic Monkeys, all of seven tracks have a slow tempo and it’s hard to tell them apart. As mentioned in a previous blog their songs have a slightly 90’s claustrophobic feel to them. This sets them apart from other bands that have embraced the 90’s revival. There is a lot of feedback going on, but at times the songs can get lost in it. However this being said Hunck are on the right lines and when they get it right it works well (Something Missing and Departures No.2), but they need to change the tone, and pace a bit. This is definitely one to keep an eye and hear on.

 

 

 

 

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Scottish Post-Rock quintet polishes off a successful year with a blistering EP

 

Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1. is the latest EP by Mogwai. The EP picks up where the critically acclaimed and insanely brilliant Rave Tapes left off. As with most Mogwai EP’s the themes and ideas are executed more concisely. Whereas on an album they can take their time exploring the track, on their EP’s they get to the point.

 

 

Teenage Exorcists opens the proceedings. While this isn’t classic Mogwai (due to the vocals and the slightly poppy sound), it still has plenty of their LOUD/QUIET formula to keep old fans happy. At times though it sounds like Interpol and Sonic Youth have collaborated. History Day is classic Mogwai. Melodic guitars, haunting piano, glitchy clicks and that overall air that things could turn nasty and heavy at any minute. HMP Shaun William Ryder, is another slow building instrumental. There is a lot going on here, and the track could easily exceed its five minutes. The interplay with the xylophone really adds texture, and allows the bass to surge underneath it all. However the real star is the songs exquisite peak, and the outro is to die for. The remaining three tracks are remixes from Rave Tapes. These remixes never reach the highs of the original tracks; they do come close in places.

 

 

As all the tracks culled from the Rave Tape sessions, it’s easy to see why they didn’t quite fit in with that project. However this EP makes a perfect accompaniment piece, as Les Revenants EP was to the original soundtrack. This EP rounds off another successful year, for a band that should be commended for never taking the easy route and sticking to their guns. Let’s hope 2015 is just as good, as Les Revenants returns, hopefully with another flawless score.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bass worrier’s new single mixes his past and his future with mixed results

 

 

Back in the heady days when dubstep was just a few guys making moody bass heavy tracks, Breakage stood alone. In 2006 he released This too Shall Pass, a great debut album, and arguably one of best dubstep albums, second only to Digital Mystikz’s Return II Space.

 

 

In 2010 he released its follow up Foundation. The sound was slightly different, more drum and bass, but still keeping his signature sound (woozy synths, massive bass, sparse hi hats and big beats). While it was a strong album, it felt like a step back compared to his debut. Tracks Hard (featuring David Rodigan and Newham Generals), Run ‘Em Out (featuring Roots Manuva) are Vial (Featuring Burial) are classics, the rest felt flat.

 

 

Four years later he is back with new single Treading Water. Sadly this is an apt title. The track sounds like a bootleg of Skream’s remix of La Roux’s In for the Kill, with vocals from DJ Rap circa 1999 or Sneaker Pimps in their Becoming X period. Basically we’ve heard it all before, and slightly better. This is a shame as for years I was championing Breakage, and loved his debut. The VIP version does redeem itself, but not enough to save this track. I really wanted to like this track, but the more I listen to it, the more the flaws are on display. I’m sure in certain camps people are loving this, but for me it does less than nothing. I hope that Breakage stops treading water and swims to safety before he releases more of this substandard material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prolific lo-fi producer shows us a glimpse into his psyche with new album

 

 

Miguel Baptista Benedict’s music over the past few years has affected more than almost anyone else’s. The way he combines sounds and textures is unlike anyone else. Since 2008 he has released over 25 albums. Some of them are little more than sound sketches, others are cohesive pieces of work, that tell a story. 2013’s Super(b)-Child-Ran, released on Brainfeeder, is a perfect example of this. Using simple instruments, and production techniques, he created something, that even now, still gets me. There is something about this album that I can’t get over. Each time I play it, it’s like the first time. I still have no idea what some of the songs are about and I’m sure my ideas about the others aren’t right, and the next time I play it (possibly today) I’ll get something else from it. It’s truly a brave and captivating album.

 

 

This week sees the release of Benedict’s new album meek(ch)o. Clocking in under the half hour mark it’s thirteen tracks are full of Beneditct’s trademark analogue/digital production. Third track Maik displays this in abundance. Guitars slot in seamlessly with haunting synths, repetitive beats and dream/nightmare like vocals. Busk contains a swirling loop that engulfs the mix, but just under something bubbles, slowly builds and pushes through until a simple, but emotional guitar takes over and pushes the track in an unexpected direction. Surf Face sounds like an unused track from the Akira soundtrack. It’s murky and slow building drum intro, gets bathed by swaths of synths, until its abrupt conclusion.

 

 

meek(ch)o is one of the surprise releases of the year. Considering its experimental nature, the album is an enjoyable listen, but it’s not immediate and has to be given repeat plays. However once it’s code has been cracked, and once it’s secrets have started to be yielded, each play you notice something new and the album, like its predecessor, starts to take on a life of its own. Congratulations Miguel Baptista Benedict you’ve just made the end of year list.

 

 

8/10

 

 

 

 

https://miguelbaptistabenedict.bandcamp.com/album/meek-ch-o

 

 

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It’s been another good month for music. Max Cooper released his new EP on Gearbox and Kid Wave released an amazing no frills indie EP (these could feature in our end of year review). Speedy Wunderground released their latest 7” with the insanely catchy Dangerous When Wet by Natalie Bang Bang. Cheaters came back with a new a slightly sound. Neil Young released Storytone, sadly it wasn’t as good as his previous work, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve heard this year.

 

 

On the other hand Tyrannosaurus Dead released one of the best albums of the year, scratch that, of any year. It redefines the lo-fi genre. Kelly Lee Owens teamed up with Ghost Culture to release a strong debut EP. It showcased her unique vocal talents, with some clever production.

 

 

Special mention needs to be given to Aretha Franklin. She released possibly the worst cover albums I have ever heard. Everything about the album from start to finish was wrong. The way they went about the covers was wrong from the start, and her mash up’s were hilarious at best.

 

 

As we are now approaching the end of the year, if past years are anything to go by, the quality of music coming out will decrease, but there are a few releases I’m looking forward to, but more of that next month…

 

 

 

 

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Shronk maters end the year in style with new EP

 

 

Can Can Heads have had a great year. Not only have they released one of the most original and exciting albums of the year, with March’s Butter Life (their first album since 1999’s debut Headcracking Lifestyles), but they have now released a five track EP King Dong Kong. What’s striking about the EP is that in five minutes, these five tracks do more than most full length releases.

 

 

King Dong Kong is full of Can Can Heads’ distinctive shronk sound. The EP opens with a cacophony guitar and trumpet. It feels like there is an error and it’s started mid song, probably it has, but it’s on purpose. This carries on for just under a minute. The EP’s first track is Square with a Little Bit Rectangle. This track has a repetitive guitar riff and drum beat. Over that has been layed, what sounds like, an accordion and someone sawing wood. It works well and the guitar and drums help to build tension, and the other instruments stop it from getting boring and irritating. Last but not least is Slow Kill Monotany. This is the heaviest track on the album. There is real aggression and vigour on display here. There are chugging riffs, hard drums, backwards vocals and general unease. The track is a slow building menacing affair that builds and builds until it’s reaches maelstrom proportions, then abruptly stops.

 

 

Despite its length, there is a lot to engage with here. This is the kind of EP you will either play a couple of times and ponder it’s meaning, or just play on loop until someone tells you to turn it off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Number four with a bullet Ed

 

 

This week’s number four in the chart is Ed Sherran with his latest offering. Sticking to form, it’s another bore-fest. I don’t mean to jump on the Ed-Bashing Band wagon, but this is pretty dull. I totally understand that Ed’s vibe is heartfelt, emotional ballards, but c’mon Ed! Where is the inventiveness? Where is the cleverness? This sound’s like it could have been a bad Britpop b-side in the 1990’s.

 

 

Sadly this isn’t the most worrying about the track. The fact that it’s number four (last week’s number two and previously number one). This is a worrying sign as it shows that the British public, have, well let’s face it, bad taste in music. If this was once our most popular song, it shows that instead of embracing the musical diversity that has been going on for the last few years, we’d rather play it safe and go for something that we’ve heard before, and was done better then.

 

 

There is another more comforting reason for this slow burners rise to the summit of the charts. Perhaps, perhaps it was a slow music week in the run up to Christmas? Something has to be number one right? So why not let Ed have his moment in the Sun after another ‘successful’ year? Sadly I don’t buy this 100%. I had a sinking feeling Ed would have been number one anyway. Come on England, pull your finger out. Next year let’s try and have a better selection with our high charting singles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ever wanted to know what cover version of How Soon is Now is the best? You need not wait any longer

 

 

The other day I felt the urge to play the Smiths classic How Soon is Now? I cannot explain why I felt this urge, but I did. When I typed the titles into Spotify I was confronted with dozens of different versions. This ultimately made me re-question the version I wanted to play.

 

 

After a few moments hesitation, the decision was made. Make a playlist of as many versions that could be found, and then play them to find out the best version. Covers Club was born. The playlist starts with the original version. Then I decided to offer this decision to the floor and see what version people like the most.

 

 

Whether this becomes a regular feature will remain to be seen, but for now bask in the glory of 27 different versions of the same song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We Are Shining mix Psych, Hip-Hop, Rock and Pop to create something enjoyable and insanely listenable

 

 

We Are Shining’s Road grabs you by the collar. It keeps you held until it’s finished, but it doesn’t let go. It keeps holding on for a few more moments. As soon as it lets go, you feel inclined to play it again and the game begins a-new. The whole track sounds like an outtake from Bo Diddley’s Black Gladiator project (with added Afro-Beat), but it was left off due to being too “far out”.

 

 

The real power of the track comes from the interplay between the music and vocals. The music is pumping, slightly skewed, thrusting psych influenced rock, with Hip-Hop leanings, whereas at times the vocal delivery is almost lackadaisical. It brings to mind Method Man with touches of Luvinsky Atche (from Paris Suit Yourself). Either way it’s a very compelling listen.

 

 

I can’t get enough of this track, nor the album it comes from (Kara). It demands to be played on a loop until you’ve rung out all its meanings and messages. If you are fan of either the Heavy or Malachai, with add added dose of Psych, this is for you!

 

 

 

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Submo Orchestra release the album that fulfils their early promise

 

 

A third album is possibly the most important album in a band career. It is generally make or break. Chinks begin to appear in a band’s armour. For every Check Your Head there is a Fat of the Land. Luckily however Submotion Orchestra’s third album Alium is their strongest album to date.

 

 

What the Submo Orchestra has always done well is mix jazz, soul vocals and electronic music. While this isn’t new, Submo have always separated themselves from their peers through great arrangements, filthy bass and interesting production. This has been continued on Alium. Awakening opens the album. The song has a dreamlike, or nightmare quality to it. Repetitive prog synth loops drive the song, while woozy slabs of bass rumble and pulsate below. Faux mariachi horns add a sense of the surreal, this plays into the dream like nature of the song, while the song grows to the maelstrom at the end, sounding slightly like a Peter Best score from the 1980’s.

 

 

Time Will Wait opens with a salutary husky vocal, while in the background the music slowly builds and mimics the vocals in tone and volume. Then the woozy sub bass kicks in and the track changes direction. It’s not only ballad, but a banger. The tracks peak is when the two merge, creating something both touching and filthy. The rest of the album follows this formula. A bit of emotion, a bit of jazz, and a bit electronic filth. The strongest tracks however are the instrumentals. The band gets to flex their muscles and show what they can really do. Chrome Units is a perfect example of this. It uses intricate interplay, to create emotion, but never loses its dance floor credentials.

 

 

 

 

Alium shows that Submo are moving in the right direction, however this isn’t a perfect album. At times it’s hard to tell the tracks apart. SubMo excel at slow burning vocal tracks with heavy bass and horns, the few instrumental tracks to break this up, but at 57 minutes it feels like a long listen, and maybe a track, or two, could have been removed or shortened to make this the fantastic album it had the potential to be.

 

 

7/10

 

 

 

 

 

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London quartet remind us of the Summer, with this slab of Summery Indie Pop

 

 

This is exactly what today needs. After spending a weekend of self-imposed hibernation, with the heating on and boxsets on constant rotation, Kid Wave’s new single Gloom hits like first rays of Sun to thaw the ice. Opening with an explosion of drums and guitars, it grabs your attention and brings to mind weekends in the park in jeans and T-shirts, evening beer garden sessions and dare I saw, the warmth of the Sun. Given the lead tracks title, this is anything but Gloomy.

 

 

 

 

Kid Wave mixes the elements of Britpop, indie, shoegazing and adds a dollop of pop, to create something familiar but forward thinking. Imagine Granddaddy forming a group with Kelly Jones on guitar and Justine Frischmann singing, with Marc Waterman producing. As you can hear the results speak for themselves. Second track Brimstone is a rockier affair than Gloom, but this goes in for its favour. On Brimstone Kid Wave are at their best when extending the instrumental sections. This is nothing against Lea Emmery’s vocals, but the real star of this show is the outro!

 

 

All I Want is slower and tender (not by much though). Here Emmry is channeling PJ Harvey (along with Frischmann) to create some great vocal moments. The band, drone away nicely in the background, but it never gets boring, nor feels like they are only going through the motions. Final track Young Blood is another stomper and closes the EP perfectly.

 

 

There is nothing flashy about Kid Wave. They write great songs and how to achieve that with limited fuss. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the 4-4-2 of songwriting, there is plenty going on, and with each listen to you pick up on something you missed. As the winter is quickly engulfing us, we need music like this to keep the embers of Summer alive.

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Possibly one of the most exciting tours of the year is happening now!

 

 

Macclesfield’s Racing Glaciers take elements of classic rock, post-punk, indie and good old fashioned song writing and mix it all together to create something unique and refreshing. This can been heard on latest single Animal, released those purveyors of quality music Killing Moon Records (well done KMR you’ve done it again!).

 

 

 

 

Yesterday (22nd November) saw the start of Racing Glaciers as the support slot on Coasts’ tour. This looks set to be a great run of dates (get tickets here http://kililive.com/artists/coasts). Coasts are currently riding high as a Rush of Blood was recently Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record.

 

 

If these bands are playing in your town, I recommend you to check them out (hurry as tickets are selling out fast), as this looks set to be one of the most exciting tours of the year. Go on then, what are you waiting for!

 

 

Racing Glaciers – Animal

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Gypsy swing trio channel Django for intimate gig

 

 

Last night I had the pleasure to witness something that will long remain in my memory. Swingatto. If you like the music of Django Reinhardt, you seriously need to check them out. During their sets, they played some of the finest Gypsy Swing I’ve ever heard. Each song was played the passion and respect they deserved, but this isn’t surprising given the calibre of Antonio Feula, Matt Dibble and Miko Ambrogini.

 

 

While Swingatto (loosely translated Swing Cats) have only been playing together since February 2014, they are very familiar with each other, and the London music scene. This familiarity works well as they are able to improvise and extend pieces flawlessly and with effortless cool.

 

 

A special mention should be given to the venue. Old Mary’s is a basement bar/speak easy that specialises in cocktails and interesting beers. The basement is allegedly haunted, but the only spirits that tormented me were the ones in the drinks I bought. As it’s a basement bar you are very close to the band. This is great as you can really see the trio’s interplay between the guitar, clarinet and double bass really helped to make these standards their own. The music suited the vibe of the bar perfectly (as does their regular in house jazz band).

 

 

However during parts of the set, the music was drowned out by a knob who was sitting near us on a date, braying on about nothing and totally missing the point of an intimate gig. Sadly I now know more woeful chat up lines and had an education about the (luckily) defunct TV show Entourage.

 

 

Swingatto are one of London’s newest and best kept secrets (as Old Mary’s is too). I for one can’t wait for their next EP and gig, I just hope that the other patrons know their gig etiquette as well as Swingatto know their licks and riffs.

 

 

 

 

https://swingatto.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Indie pop quartet’s new single is catch-fest

 

 

“Friends don’t always make good lovers” Alphabetic lead singer Walter Heale croons. He either knows this from experience, or he’s making a good stab at it. However Alphabetic do make good music. Mixing elements of Sheffield Synth Pop, 1990’s indie and a hint of prog, they are separating themselves from their peers. New single Good Lovers, showcases all this in just over four minutes.

 

 

Good Lovers sounds like it was in a John Hughes. You know the bit when the kids were running about and being chased by someone, but always just slightly getting away, then during the middle 8 the two main characters finally get it on in a cupboard/bush/car. Then the chorus appears as a warning to their tryst. John Hughes would have loved this track, but his loss (and Alphabetic’s lack of time machine) is our gain.

 

 

This evening is the launch of Good Lovers in the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. This looks set to be a great night of music, dancing and drinking (if you’re drinking don’t drive and if you’re driving don’t drink). Make sure you get down early as for the first 30 people there are perks and freebies. So why not head on down, as it’ll be the perfect start to the weekend!

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Flat Eric’s best mate returns with new album “Its Oizo Jim, but not as we know him”

 

 

When I was at college I watched a lot of TV. I’m not saying that I watched all the cliché daytime TV that students are meant to, far from it, I was at college during the day, but when I got in after a hard day of learning I watched a lot of Film4 (when it was good) and MTV (when it showed music, not depressing reality TV tosh). One day in between videos, an advert came on. The opening shot was of a beat up old American car driving down an American street. Then it jumped into the car. In the background was the driver, generic ‘young’ male, but in the foreground was, basically, a yellow muppet. They are cruising listen to music (a pastime I spent a lot of time doing at this period). Suddenly a police siren breaks their drive and they pull over. The muppet then changes the cassette to Don Gibson’s What’s Happened to Me, turns a picture over on a sun visor and puts a bobbly monkey on the dashboard. A motorcycle cop walks to the car and asks for their papers. The driver hands him two passports. One for him and the other for the muppet (Angel and Flat Eric). The cops asks Angel to step out of the car. Now we get the a full length view of him. He’s wearing a shirt and jeans with sharp creases in them. The cop asks for the trunk to be opened. It’s full of shirts and jeans neatly folded. Satisfied the cop lets Angel and Flat Eric go. Eric immediately changes cassettes, switches the photoback and removes the money from the dashboard. They drive of listening to music while the cop re-assesses his drab uniform, compared to Angel’s sharp, pressed shirt and jeans. They drive away and the reveal is that it was an advert for Levis. What made this advert so brilliant, wasn’t the surreal nature of the characters, or the plot, but the music.

 

 

 

 

Underpinning the whole advert was this filthy repetitive bass heavy music. The track turned out to be Flatbeat by (the then mostly unknown) Mr. Oizo (real name Quentin Dupieux). When the single was released, unsurprisingly, it went to number 1. Then as always happens with a fad, people get bored of it, and it fades away. While it appeared, to the mainstream, Mr. Oizo was a one hit wonder and vanished without a trace, to us keen eared types who long for “something a bit different” Oizo never went away.

 

 

Since his break through track he has released four albums chocked full of the laid back Hip-Hop, broken beat, surreal synth riffs, French House. Debut album Analog Worms Attack and it’s follow up Moustache (Half a Scissor) are stone cold classics that any serious music fan should own.

 

 

Right, I think I’ve delved into the past enough, what about the present. This week sees the release of his fifth album The Church on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder Records. This is classic Oizo. On previous albums, he has strayed away from his blueprint and embraced a more commercial sound. While these albums were enjoyable, there was an element of “where’s the surreal playfulness?” Luckily the Church delivers not just on this level, but its Dupieux most enjoyable album since 2005’s Moustache (Half a Scissor). The beats are harder than on previous albums, but is still accessible at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning sitting at your desk. Opening track Bear Biscuit is a statement of intent. It says “You thought I’d gone soft? I’ll show you how soft I am!” Destop is a slower and mellow track. There is a comical playfulness to it, that harkens back to Oizo’s past. It has a very lyrical keyboard part. It is one of the most immediate tracks on the album. Mass Doom is another fun track, that deserves to be played LOUD. Title track the Church closes the album. This is a story about how a group of bored friends spend a day. While isn’t fairly amusing at times, it’s the music that keeps you hooked. A psychotic hypnotic keyboard riff (reminiscent of a church organ’s) with the heavy beat, keeps changing and progressing and pulsating until the outro closed, not just the track perfectly, but the album too.

 

 

 

 

The only downside is that at times it appears that Oizo is more concerned with the dance floor than on his earlier albums. While Analog Worms Attack and Moustache (Half a Scissor) sound great played in clubs, they also sounded great at home, on headphones while you travelled to and from wherever it is you go or at parties. At times this means that the music swerves in directions that you might not initially appreciate, but after a few listens you realise this isn’t just for home consumption.

 

 

8/10

 

 

Mr Oizo – Machyne

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Imaginary city project is brought to a close with a second album

 

 

Last year Travis Stewart (AKA Machinedrum) released Vapor City. The album was based on an imaginary city. Each of the ten tracks represented a different part of said city. It was a tour de force and showcased Stewart as a force to be reckoned with in dance music. The album was full of his slow jungle infused R&B styled Hip-Hop. Now Stewart has returned with the last instalment in the Vapor City saga.

 

 

Generally sequels aren’t that great. For every Empire Strikes Back there are a dozen Ace Ventura 2’s, and musically speaking for every Led Zeppelin II you get Use Your Illusion II. However Vapour City Archives doesn’t feel like a re-hashing of old ideas. Each of the ten tracks (as with the original) represents a different district of Vapor City. And just like its predecessor this concept of the ‘City’ works well with Stewart’s skewed take on dance music.

 

 

Opening track Boxoff starts off with skittering snares, while the rest of the track slowly builds until all is as one. It’s claustrophobic and intense, but there are elements of space punctured through it. Basically, its Oxford Street at any time of the day. As the song progresses, and the different elements are faded up and down, Boxoff starts change perspective and goes into Banger territory, only for the end to mimic the start. Next track Safed starts off with a hypnotic acoustic guitar riff. As it draws you in a dreamy vocal sample slightly hides the beat that grows ever more menacing as the song builds to its logical conclusion. Only 1 Way 2 Know shows off Stewart’s take on Footwork, while incorporating his ethereal vocal heavy bass style.

 

 

Stewart isn’t the first person to create an album based on an imaginary city, although his is one of the better takes one it (special mention should be given to Vangelis’ 1990 album the City, but not to Bloc Party’s A Weekend in City). What Stewart has effectively done, is create music that if you listen to while flaneuring about cities you will have the perfect soundtrack to your travels.

 

 

7/10

 

 

Machinedrum – Safed

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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SW009 has been announced and it’s possible (sic) their best release yet!

 

 

This one is a no brainer. Kate Tempest. Loyle Carner. Dan Carey. YES! Speedy Wunderground have pulled it out of the bag again. After the post-pop of Natalie Bang Bang I was wondering where SW were going to go with their next single club release. I thought “It’ll be some indie band, maybe doing a Christmas song for the December release”. This is so much more exciting.

 

 

Kate Tempest needs no introduction, so I won’t give her one. Loyle Carner on the other hand might need a few words. Earlier in the year Carner released his long awaited debut EP. It proved that UK Hip-Hop was alive and well. Although it was less than 20 minutes long, it was chocked full of pathos, social commentary and a musicality that has been missing in UK Hip-Hop for a while. Carner wasn’t copying or pastiching existing artists, he’d created his own sound and world. To call it one the best EP’s of the year is putting it lightly!

 

 

To have these two paired together with Dan Carey’s production (sounding like golden age RZA) is anything but inspired. I suggest putting your orders for this one in now, those 250 7” single will sell out quickly!

 

 

 

 

http://speedywunderground.com/shop/

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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South coast psychedelic drone electronica group’s new album isn’t as dark and harrowing as the title would lead you to believe

 

 

The opening seconds of Mung Crow, sounds the start of Lost, then some distorted blast beats kick in. This isn’t where the Lost vibe ends. I’m not saying that polar bears have been sampled (they might have though later on in the album), or there are references to hatch’s, but like list, things might not be as they first appear. Under all that noise and compressed beats there are melodies and rhythms. It’s this level of juxtaposing that makes Trippin’ Daggers Inner Skull Metal Blade Musique an intriguing and interesting listen.

 

 

As the album progresses, not only to the tracks get longer, but they get more experimental and abstract. At times this shift works well and the experimental elements intertwine with the melodies and create something that resembled Feedle and Vangelis at their most extreme, but at other times as with City Stroms, the experimental side overtakes an what we are left with is just a lot of interesting ideas, but not a fully formed track. While this is the nature of the beast when it comes to experimental music, when the two styles are mixed the results are excellent, take Hyper Tile and Lumbargo Extraction.

 

 

While Trippin’ Daggers Inner Skull Metal Blade Musique isn’t to everyone’s tastes, DR:WR have struck onto something fairly original and with a little more work they have the talent and vision to create something that could be very special indeed.

 

 

7/10

 

 

http://dr-wr.bandcamp.com/album/trippin-daggers-inner-skull-metal-blade-musique

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Cath Coffey show’s how good a cover version can be!

 

 

Since Friday I’ve been listening to, and thinking about, cover versions. Over the years there have been some great cover versions (Laura Marling-Blues Run the Game) and there have been some awful cover versions (every X-Factor winner’s single). One cover version however is stuck in my head. Cath Coffey’s cover of Summer Nights (with Tricky) is possibly one of my favourite covers.

 

 

One of the reasons for its genius is how different it is to the original. This is crucial if you want to have a good cover. Another reason is its sheer randomness. Whoever suggested that Cath Coffey and Tricky cover the biggest song from the Grease soundtrack was totally inspired. This song shouldn’t work, but on every level it does.

 

 

In closing this is everything that Aretha Franklin didn’t do on her latest album.

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Adele’s signature song mangled by Queen of Soul

 

 

This track would be great for three things:

 

 

  1. If I had never heard any music before
  2. If I didn’t have good taste in music (while I understand this is debatable given some of the tracks I have written about lately, the statement still stands).
  3. If it didn’t segue Ain’t No Mountain

 

Cover albums seem to be part and parcel of the musical landscape these days, especially with legacy artists. While I don’t dislike cover versions, some of my favourite tracks are covers, the idea of this kind of covers album repulses me a bit. After looking at the tracklisting I initially think ”Who’s idea was this? Did Sony get call her and say ‘Hi, can I speak to the Queen of Soul please? Oh good you’re at home. Right we’ve got an idea about you recording these 10 tracks. What do you think?’ or did she rock up at the offices one day, march into the head of RCA’s office, kick the door of the hinges plan the tracklist on the desk and say ‘I want to cover these tracks, and you’re going to put it out, yeah?’ ”. Sadly it’s probably somewhere between the two.

 

 

Anyway let’s go to this monstrosity. When I clicked play, I had to double check that I was playing the right track as it sounds just like Survivor’s ‘classic’ Eye of the Tiger. Then Franklin’s vocals kick in and I realise that I am listening to the right track. Musically they stick to the original fairly faithfully, but because of the bombastic arrangements, it loses all of the emotion and charm that the original had. What makes the original so striking is that it’s Adele’s voice carries the song. The instrumentation is sparse. Drums, piano, guitar and bass and they work around the outside of the song, and let Adele’s vocals soar. The backing singers are used almost sparingly and they never get in the way of a great song.

 

 

It appears that while approaching this new arrangement, they have ignored the simplicity of the original, and just bunged everything into the mix. While I understand that Franklin is used to working with the best musicians in the business, their over complicating the song helps to add to its downfall. Compared to the original this is overbloated tosh. Franklin had one of the best voices ever, but on this you can hear how time has ravaged it. This is most obvious on the big power notes. She can’t quite hit them as she once could, as the backing singers are pushed higher in the mix to try and cover this up. Which makes all her warbling even more annoying. But this isn’t the worst thing about the track. On no. About halfway through, very subtlety at first, a disco vibe starts to come through. At first you brush it off as Franklin’s producers having now idea about what’s current and popular, but then BAM the song switches into a full on disco track and skews into a cover within a cover (meta eh?) or Ain’t No Mountain. This works even less than Rolling in the Deep does. In fact it doesn’t really make sense. Why ruin two tracks instead of one? I guess the answer is because you can.

 

 

Um, sorry about that. I have rambled on long enough, just like the track. Ultimately this song is awful, and shows the gulf between what someone thought was a good idea and an actual good idea. What Franklin, and her producers, should have done is worked out why the song works, and concentrated on those elements, rather than making the backing music louder and more complicated than it needed to be. Ultimately Rolling in the Deep is a modern blues song. If Franklin had performed a stripped, intimate version it would have been far more enjoyable than what we have been given.

 

 

Aretha Franklin – Rolling In The Deep (The Aretha Version)

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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After claiming another nugget of space thanks to science, it appears that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is actually emitting oscillations (due to its magnetic field). While this isn’t audible to the human ear due to being 40-50 millihertz, however after increasing the frequencies a recording has been made.

 

 

Whether this is part of a longer transmission or will remain to be seen, or heard, but from this one and a half minute excerpt Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko seems to be in to prog rock and early electronic music. While there is no such music there is a melody is and it is reminiscent of Luigi Russolo, Otto Luening, Musique Concrète and a bit of George Harrison’s Electronic.

 

 

One thing is certain this is the last we’ve heard from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. If they’re releasing tracks of this quality, the album which should be dropping next year, will definitely be one to look out for!

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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B-Side outshines A-Side

 

 

Kelly Lee Owens has done something clever. Well, technically she’s done a few clever things, but one of her best ideas, was to drip release her debut single. Instead of giving us the A and B-Side, she released the A side (Lucid) and now she’s dropped the B-Side, Arthur.

 

 

Opening with field recordings of birds, babbling brooks and rain, this is about as far away from the A-Side as you can get. However all is not what it seems. Just when you think Owens has gone all Basil Kirchin, a luscious vocal comes in, then slowly the bass and drums flood the mix. Instead of singing Owens is using her voice in the most ethereal way. To put it this way, if I was a sailor in ancient times and I heard this voice coming from an island I’d be up for exploring.

 

 

Musically however this is far from ethereal. Underneath Owen’s vocals is a serious track. It throbs, pulsates and bangs in all the right places. This is thanks in part to Ghost Culture’s production. Together they have crafted something special, that not only complements Lucid, but is a great song in its own right (as all good B-Sides are).

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Debut lo-Fi indie album ticks all the right boxes, end of year lists domination is on the cards

 

 

Tyrannosaurus Dead are possible one of the most interesting and exciting bands around at the moment. While the sum of their parts might seem standard (guitars, vocals, bass and drums), their output is anything but. Hailing from Brighton they are part of a scene that includes the Hundredth Anniversary and King of Cats to name two. Away from the London music scene they have carved out a niche in lo-fi rock. This is all set to change however with the release of their debut album Flying Ant Day.

 

 

On this album they have successfully redefined firstly what lo-fi rock album can be and secondly produced a selection of tracks that are not just entertaining, but demand to be played again and again and again and again and again. The album opener is Canada. It starts with an assault on the senses through feedback and a heavy hypnotic riff, then just as soon as you think you have the track worked out, it switches to a clean Pavement-esque sound. Singer (and guitarist) Billy Lowe sings/drawls through the first verse until he is joined by Eleanor Rudge for the chorus. Instead of creating a harmony, their voices merge and create something far more interesting. The juxtaposition of Lowe’s monotone, and Rudge’s sweeter higher register, creates a new voice. If you’re thinking of early Belle and Sebastian, you’re on the right track, but this is more effective. Then the original riff kicks in again, but instead of repeating the first verses formula, Lowe and Rudge continue to join forces and the song heads off in a new direction.

 

 

Free Radio Lies is a lot more heavier and faster than Canada, but it doesn’t lose any of the formers charm. This song screams SINGLE, PLAY ME LOUD and makes me long to be eighteen, drunk in the local indie disco and dancing/spinning round joyously with my mates. PHDS is another fast paced track. The instrumentation seems tighter and the bass and drums really propel this one. So hats off to bassist Tom Northern and drummer Rupert Willows. The second half of the song is them stretching their musical muscles.

 

 

The album is littered with musical reference points. Daniel Johnson. Pavement. Early Teenage Fanclub and Smashing Pumpkins. dEUS. Sebadoh. But their influences are never pastiche or bastardised. They have taken the sounds they liked growing up and made an album that references the past, but also says something about the present. It’s refreshing for the vocals to be slightly lost in a wave of guitar. While these aren’t simple songs there is an element of simplicity to them that adds to the enjoyment. Each song sounds like it was recorded in a couple of takes and there has been no editing to it in post-production. At times you feel that the tracks will fall over, but they never do as change course several times per track. This brave stylistic decision that should be commended, as the songs take on a fragility that is missing from 90% of alternative songs out there.

 

 

There are downsides with the album however. As with all lo-fi albums after a while the sound does start to grate a bit and you almost want something polished, but clocking in at just under 30 minutes, this doesn’t really happen that often. If anything after playing it through, you want to hear it again to make sure what you just heard was correct. This is an amazing album and one I can’t wait hear played live as their sets are nothing short of incendiary! Miss this at your peril!!!!!

 

 

8/10

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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http://www.oddboxrecords.com/

http://reeksofeffort.bandcamp.com/

http://bleedinggoldrecords.bandcamp.com/ 

 

 

One of the best films ever has a hidden gem on the soundtrack

 

 

The Goonies is one of the best films ever. FACT! What’s not to love about a bunch of misfit kids finding buried treasure, thwarting bad guys and saving their home? OK some of the acting is a bit campy, but it was a 1980’s kids film! It’s not

 

 

The soundtrack on the other hand wasn’t as good as the film. However there was a silver lining. The title track Goonies R Good Enough by Cyndi Lauper. Goonies R Good Enough is a classic Lauper track from her golden period. It’s full of her usual charm and playfulness. While it may not be as well remembered as True Colours, Time after Time and Girls, it should be.

 

 

 

 

Cyndi was at the height of her powers here and the video plays with the concept of the film, yet it peppers it with cameos from the films cast, Steven Spielberg and her wrestling connections. Being twelve minutes long the video was split over two parts in order to tell the story.

 

 

 

 

So as it’s another lazy Sunday why not sit back and enjoy twelve minutes of a lost classic why remembering why the Goonies was (and is) such a great film!

 

 

Cyndi Lauper – The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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If there is better way to spend a Friday night than in a pub with friends watching local bands, I need to be informed what it is. This is exactly how I spent last night. Ealing is most famous for the film industry, but if it wasn’t for Ealing then rock and roll would have turned out differently. It’s in the boroughs DNA. The Rolling Stones met at the Ealing Jazz Club. Jim Marshall had a little shop and redefined the amplifier. Led Zeppelin used to rehearse in Ealing (well, Hanwell). Over recent years the live scene has floundered under the hipness of East London, but this is starting to change now. There appears to be a shift and people are looking West to the home of rock!

 

 

Last night three brightest lights in this new wave of bands took to the stage at the Drapers Arms. First up was the Chris Sagan Project. Last year Sagan released the excellent This Machine EP. It was chocked full of gems, so I was interested to see how these songs would translate to live. The set was stripped down to the basics, guitar, drums and vocals. As it was an intimate venue, the songs took on a personal vibe. Special credit has to be given to the clarity and power of Sagan’s voice and how he is able to sustain a note perfectly.

 

 

Next up was Jacob and Goliath. This trio (although only two performed) have been making waves over the last few months. They took part in Burberry’s acoustic series and their Eyes Conveyed single in June further showcased their talents and sound. Last night was no exception. Sounding somewhere between Mumford and Sons and the XX, they showcased their ability in song writing and musicality. One of the highlights of their set was their cover of the Johnny Cash classic Folsom Prison Blues.

 

 

The last band to perform was the Francis Gahan Band. This five piece band play a version of the blues that is influenced by the delta bluesmen of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Opening with a version of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night, they showed that not only could they match his playing, but the intensity of his vocals. Next up they tackled St. James Infirmary. This is another blues standard, but they nailed it too. After two powerful songs like this, the rest of the set seemed a bit flat. I’m not saying that their own songs are bad, far from it, but compared to these incredible songs it didn’t live up to the initial blast. The crowd didn’t seem to mind as they were going mental for the whole set. I’d like to see them tackle some Son House, Pink Anderson or, dare I say, some Gomez, as I feel they could breathe some new life into old songs. Special mention should be given to the sound man Martin Bonner (of another West London band the Chairs). After some initial teething problems he managed to kerb his inner Kevin Shields and pulled a great job!

 

 

If this is the state of the West London scene, then over the next few months and years we should be in for a treat. If you get the chance to see any of these bands I whole heartedly recommend that you take up the chance.

 

 

Jacob & Goliath – Old Man

 

 

 November 2014

 

 

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http://www.jacobandgoliath.co.uk/

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Francis-Gahan-Band/108955272466264

 

 

The good Captain is all I want to listen to, not sure what this says about me as person, but with music this good I don’t care!

 

 

Captain Beefheart. Where to start? The beginning is normally the best place, but considering the amount of myth about Beefheart I’ll skip that. Apart from saying that Captain Beefheart was born in 1941 under the name Don Van Vliet. The end of the story is inevitable, retirement and eventually death, so I won’t start there. Instead I’ll start in 1967. This is an important year as it marks the release of Vliet/Beefheart’s Safe as Milk (arguably the greatest debut ever!). Although it only clocks in at 32 minutes, it is chocked full of the best psychedelic desert blues freakout’s ever committed to tape.

 

 

From the opening riffs you realise this is unlike any blues album you’ve heard before. It’s primal blues, but with a pop twist. The guitar work is incendiary and the interplay with the rhythm section is flawless. But the main event is Vliet’s vocals. They croon, howl, squeak, bellow. The rest of the album is a journey into parts unknown. A year later the follow up Strictly Personal was released. Sadly this isn’t a great album. The songs aren’t as good, mainly because guitar genius Ry Cooder left due to Vliet’s adhock (putting it lightly) view to his musicians. Also the production is pretty muddy. Instead of striving for something different (as the debut had done) it followed the late 1960’s psychedelic trend. Ultimately it’s a disappointment. His next album would be nothing like this. Trout Mask Replica is a beast. I could write a novella about this album and still not run out of things to say. Over the years t has divided opinion and critics alike. Some claim it’s one of the greatest albums others made. Others state it’s just noise and they’re making it up as they go along. The only advice I can give is the more you play it, the more it makes sense. After this he released, personally speaking, his greatest work. Lick My Decals Off, Baby. It is a mixture of this debut and Trout Mask Replica. While Trout Mask Replica was a monster at 79 minutes, Decals is more concise at 40 minutes.

 

 

Sadly after Decals Beefheart got scared and tried to make more ‘traditional’ albums. While by his standard they were mild, they still seemed too wild for the mainstream. He then released two more albums that were aimed at the crossover. These fared worse than the previous two. Which is a shame as they’re chocked full of great tracks. He vanished until 1978 and went back to basics. By this time he had attracted a new legion of followers (some of which joined his magic Band). Punk had been and gone and fans were more into abrasive, aggressive, angular guitar work, so his next two albums fared better. Then the inevitable came. The farewell album. As swansongs go, it’s pretty good. People hoped for another album, but alas that was all he wrote. Vliet died in 2010.

 

 

The track I have picked today is from one of this most derided albums Blue Jeans and Moonbeams. This album finds Beefheart at his most romantic and poetic. Just listen to Observatory Crest and not well up. Party of Special Things to Do has a great riff, and the imagery of the lyrics are brilliant. As today is Friday it felt rude not to share this.

 

 

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Party Of Special Things To Do

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Everyone’s favourite Canadian singer song writer returns with second album of the year

 

 

I love it when some artists aren’t content to release one album a year. This year there has been a slew of artists who have released more than one album. Neil Young now joins their ranks. This isn’t the first time Young has released multiple albums in one year. I’m not including live albums or parts of his archive series, just new studio albums. In 1975 he released Tonight’s the Night and Zuma. 1989 he released Eldorado and Freedom. 2006 Living with War and the stripped back version Living with war: In the Beginning (ok it was the same album twice, but both versions are different). 2012 Americana and Psychedelic Pill were released. Earlier in the year he released A Letter Home, recorded straight to vinyl at Jack White’s Third Man Records and this week Storytone.

 

 

Storytone is a double album, but has more in common with Living with War then Psychedelic Pill. The first disc is just Neil doing what Neil does best. Sing and play guitar. This is the sound of Neil baring his soul. He discusses his fear for the future of the planet, but at the same time, he still wants to drive his cars. For the first time you can hear the mortality in his voice. You get a sense that he hasn’t finished creating, and the bigger message will be coming soon. The second disc is the same songs, but this times he’s backed by a 92 piece orchestra and choir (apart from three tracks where is backed by a big band). It sounds unlike anything that he’s released before. Rumour has it that during the recording sessions he sung in the same room as the orchestra and choir. How’s that for old school?

 

 

Individually both discs work, but during certain tracks (for me it was the big bands ones) I found that they grated a bit (like the Are You Passionate album did). While this new sound is interesting, I’m not sure if it’s any good. The intimacy and concern that Young’s voice had on the stripped down versions, was lost due to the grandiose nature of the backing bands. While you picked up that he was worried about the state of the planet for future generations, as he was having such a blast with the orchestra he didn’t care as much. Sadly this was a good idea, but could have been executed better (maybe an orchestra running through his greatest hits as a bonus disc instead)? Let’s hope there’s a Le Noise 2 is in the pipeline…

 

 

7/10

 

 

Neil Young – Glimmer – Orchestral

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Anglo Dutch electro indie-pop group return with new single, and slight tweeking in direction

 

 

Earlier in the year Cheaters released their brilliant Neon Dreams EP. It was chocked full of enough hooks and charm to win over anti-pop music fans. While the music was 100% it had its focus on the dancefloor and not just headphones. Cheaters have now returned with their new single Bad Thoughts. Luckily it’s more of the same.

 

 

Bad Thoughts follows the same pattern of Neon Dreams, expect this time the music is a bit more hard hitting. At times it feels like a dance track with good vocals, rather than a pop track gone dance. The track starts with a beat and a bass wobble. While this isn’t the filthiest thing I’ve ever heard, it’s quite surprising in a pop song. As the song slowly builds the vocals intertwine with the ever shifting music until the end, when it all comes together for a wonderful outro.

 

 

Cheaters wear their influences on their sleeve, which was made the Neon Dreams EP grate slightly after repeat listens, but here, their ideas sound fresh and more cohesive. Let’s hope they can continue this new found song writing into the new year, when rumour has it an album might be coming out…

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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Natalie Bang Bang joins the Speedy Wunderground club with their eighth single release

 

 

Natalie Bang Bang is slowly making a name for herself as one of pop’s emerging stars. So far this year she has released three singles. Each one showcases her sugary voice and tongue in cheek biting lyrics. Today sees the release of her fourth, and best single to date. This time she’s joined the ranks of Steve Mason, Archie Bronson Outfit, Toy, Bat of Lashes, Scotti Brains, Kate Tempest, Childhood and Juce. Not a bad bunch to be associated with.

 

 

This time however producer extraordinaire Dan Carey has embraced his pop side, but merging that with NBB’s Riot GRRRL influences. They show both sides of her personality. As Dan has worked with some of the biggest bands, it was obvious that he would draw out her indie leanings, but this pop’s when it needs to! On last single He’s So Fine NBB listed that she liked boys with good hair, now she’s added a few more things, most notable “a boy who’s dangerous when wet”. Swimmers with attitude look out. NBB is after you! Are these two tracks companion pieces? Most definitely.

 

 

The flipside however is another slice of Carey magic. As Speedy Wunderground’s ethos is to record one track in one day, the B-Sides are either the second part of the song, if it’s too long for the A-Side, or a remix or dub version. SW008 has a dub version. This is not a throwaway track to fill up space. At times it eclipses the A-Side. While Dangerous When Wet is chock a block with sounds, Mr Dan’s Danger School Dub, looks like Sunderland’s defence after they played Southampton. It’s so full of space and holes. This is a good thing, as you get to hear how slick his production is.

 

 

On this release Speedy Wunderground are suddenly pulling away on of my favourite labels. Speedy Wunderground – Year 1 is the best compilation of the year, if this is anything to go by next year’s Speedy Wunderground – Year 2 looks safe to be doing the same! As there are only 250 copies of this single, buy it when you can, if not you’ll rue you’re slowness in missing this indie pop gem!

 

 

 

 

November 2014

 

 

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October has been a great month. Ras G released the latest volume in his Raw Fruit series. Lorde unveiled one of her offerings from the latest Hunger Games film. Flying Lotus showed the world his new You’re Dead! album. Jagaara played a storming set at a Book Jam night. Scott Walker made a surprise comeback with Sunn O))). The Coral released a ‘lost album’ that outshined some of their real albums. Klaxons and Beady Eye broke up. And Young Fathers won the Mercury Music Prize. Not bad eh?

 

 

Check it all out here…

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Happy Halloween Ghouls and Ghoulettes!

 

 

Today is Halloween so I thought I’d pick five sold gold songs that would be perfect for a Halloween Party. I’ve tried to avoid the usual suspects, you know how you are Ray Parker Jr. and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins…

 

 

First up is Lupen Crook.

 

 

 

Lupen Crook is a firm favourite at thisyearinmusic. Halloween was taken from his second single. It is full of spooky imagery and his trademark fingerpicking. The middle eight sounds like it would fit in perfectly in any Tim Burton film.

 

 

Next up is those psych blue rockers of Arrowe Hill.

 

 

 

 

While this song might not seem to be that Halloween themed, it is chocked full of Autumnal themes. It is the musical equliviant of going for a brisk walk through the park (after a heavy night out), as the sun slowly goes down. All around you are piles of fallen leaves and conkers. You pull your coat around you tighter to keep the sun out. Then you go to a pub, get an ale (or tea) and sit by the fire as you contemplate going home for dinner. Plus it’s chocked full of Adam Easterbrook’s surreal occultist world view. This is one not to be missed at party time!

 

 

This next choice is a bit off piste, but stay with me.

 

 

 

 

The Groovie Goolies was an American cartoon I used to adore as a kid. The premise is simple. A Vampire, Frenkenstein’s Monster and Wolfman live together in a house. They perform slap-stick/vaudeville routines with each other, but each episode they sing a song. They sung so many songs they released an album (it’s a personal fave). Here is one of the best songs

 

 

 

 

The next song is a stone cold classic! Howlin’ Wolf needs no introduction, and I won’t be giving him one here. This song is a straight Halloween classic!

 

 

 

 

Moanin’ at Midnight is chocked full of Wolf’s trademark harmonica and gravel voiced style. It has that Voodoo Blues vibe that would make it perfect for any Halloween themed playlist. While it might not be as iconic as Smokestack Lightnin’ or Evil, it is one of Wolf’s more memorable songs, personally anyway. When I first started making this playlist it was all going to be Voodoo Blues, as that music is perfect for Halloween/Spooky parties.

 

 

So last but certainly not least is this song.

 

 

 

 

So who sums up Halloween better than anyone else? That’s right Elvira “Mistress of the Dark”. Elvira has made a career of the spooky and the macabre. This song, released on Third Man Records, is an tongue in cheek ode to Halloween. While the lyrics are a bit too obvious at time, musically it’s fun and exactly what you want a Halloween.

 

 

So there you have it. If you have add any of these songs to you Halloween party playlist it will improve 10 fold*. Other songs that should get a notable mention are:

 

Tricky-Pumpkin

Ghouls Aloud-Sound of the Underground

Black Sabbath-Heaven and Hell

Tricky-Hell is Round the Corner

Misfits-Return of the Fly

The Cramps-I was a Teenage Werewolf

The Sonics-Strychnine

The Black Belles-The Witch

 

 

I’m going to leave you with some sage advice from the Mistress of the Dark herself.

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween Y’all!

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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*Tenfold is not a real measurement and I might be over exaggerating my musical selections.

Scottish Hip-Hop trio win 23rd Mercury Music Prize

 

 

So the 2014 Mercury Music Prize has been announced. This year’s winners are Young Fathers. When the album came out I waxed lyrical about how good it was, so it does look like I do know what I’m talking about. In your face detractors!!!!

 

 

On a personal note I’m glad that Young Fathers won. Firstly because it is a strong debut album full of interesting ideas, clever lyrics and inspired beats. They make the kind of music that comes from a place free of restraints. It was made simply for the love of music, and not for chart positions. Young Fathers could easily have followed the Hip-Pop blueprint and made generic music, but they strove to make something different and have been awarded for it. The fact that they won the prize (and the £20,000) means that they can now make a follow up whenever they’re ready. Secondly they are signed to my favourite record label (Ninja Tune) so any accolades they get I relish. Thirdly I’m glad that they prevented Royal Blood from winning the gong. While I don’t think that the Royal Blood album is bad, I personally like the intensity that two instruments can make, I just find the album boring and I’d rather listen to Kyuss instead.

 

 

Over recent years the Mercury has faced some criticism as its point isn’t certain. While other awards are given due to sales or popularity, the Mercury has always been more obtuse. If the award was given solely on sales then Damon Albarn or Royal Blood would have won. If it was on obscure artists and albums then the ‘jazz’ album would win every year (it never has). Originally point might have been to highlight albums that the mainstream might have missed, but that doesn’t explain M People’s win in 1993. This lack of consistency is frustrating as it means picking a winner is nigh on impossible as the parameters are too vague. Asking if electronica is better than indie is like trying to unlock a door with an orange.

 

 

Maybe this is the point of the Mercury? It generates dialogues about the music, and ultimately the award itself. Thanks to the award four albums have now been exposed to a wider audience, three have been given an extra push, five tours will definitely sell out (if they haven’t already) and one has been given a nod for crafting something ‘worthy’. I’ll let you work out which albums are which. Massive congratulations to Young Fathers and let’s hope that the Mercury curse doesn’t hit them like it did Gomez, Badly Drawn Boy, Ms. Dynamite, Klaxons and Speech Debelle…

 

 

Young Fathers – DIP

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Mercury Music Prize Shortlist 2014

 

 

Mercury Winners Playlist

Last week the Dundee Book Prize was announced. This year’s winner was Amy Mason. Regular readers of thisyeairnmusic will remember that she wrote and performed The Islanders at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, along with Eddie Argos from Art Brut. As we’re all fans of her here, we thought a quick catch up was in order.

 

 

thisyearinmusic: Hi Amy, First off I’d like to congratulate you on winning the Dundee Book Prize. At any time during the evening did you think “I’ve got this!”?

 

Amy Mason: I actually knew a while before. It has nearly killed me not telling people. They told me a few months ago so we had time to edit it and stuff. Luckily they didn’t make me do a fake surprised face.

 

tyim: How much of the prize money did you spend celebrating?

 

AM: I have pre-emptively spent about £15,000 on chips and cheese so I’m 5 grand in debt. I got over-excited.

 

tyim: Can you briefly explain what the book is about and why you felt the need to tell it’s tale?

 

AM: It’s about the women in an extremely dysfunctional family. The mother, Bridie, is an alcoholic playwright who named her first daughter after her most famous play. The book’s set over the week of Bridie’s funeral, when Ida comes home for the first time in years. I suppose I was interested in the fate of celebrity offspring and how it often seems we know they’re destined to live tragic lives.

 

tyim: After your previous work the Islanders being about growing up in the south of England, are you going to write about your past again, or is this subject finished for you now, or will there be an Islanders 2 at some point?

 

AM: Ha. Well The Other Ida is set in Bournemouth too. I think I might move on for there now though!

 

tyim: The Islanders incorporated music into the show, how important was music to you growing up?

 

AM: Music was MASSIVELY important to me growing up. I was really into Elastica, Kenickie-Come Out 2Nite, Bis, Blur, mega-indie Snakebite City compilations. I used to open my bedroom windows and play music really loud and think I was punk as fuck.

 

tyim: Do you still feel the same passion for the music of today?

 

AM: I still love music and listen to Radio 6 when I’m writing. I’m embarrassed to talk about what I like now though, I’ll end up trying to sound like someone’s hip mum. I listen to lots of soul (my new show has a soul soundtrack), also into the new La Roux album and got that Kate Tempest song stuck in my head. I am so jealous of Kate Tempest, she can do EVERYTHING.

 

tyim: What are you working on at the moment? Another book? Another play?

 

AM: At the moment I’m working on a new autobiographical show Mass, about my relationship with faith. It’ll be at Bristol Old Vic next April.

 

tyim: After winning to Dundee Book Prize do you want to assail anyone who vilified you and said you were wasting your time and should get “a proper job”?

 

AM: You’re always told at school that if you want to write you should do it in a more organised way with a clear career path – become a journalist or something – like writing creatively isn’t a proper job. I wish I’d been told that it actually is a job in its own right, I think I would have wasted lots of time trying to do other things. People slag off creative writing classes but I like the way they’ve validated people’s ambitions.
tyim: Now you’re officially a writer, do you feel that you now have to live up to it somehow? I’m not saying going all Hemmingway, but do you think this award will affect your next book?

 

AM: I think I lived the life of a writer long before I actually was one! I spent years lying in bed crying because I was a failure, drinking shit loads, then deciding I was a genius…before doing it all over again.
tyim: Do you have any words of advice for any would be writers out there?

 

AM: Take classes (adult ed is always good), be brave, get your writing out there however you can.

 

Again massive congratulations to you Amy for sticking to your guns and following through dream. Everyone here a thisyearinmusic towers is looking forward to the new play next year. The Other Ida is out now, but you can buy a (signed) copy here

 

 

http://amymason.bigcartel.com/

 

 

And you can follow Amy on twitter

 

 

@AmyCMason

 

 

Kenickie – Come Out 2 Nite

 

 

October 2014

 

 

 Amy Mason’s Playlist

 

 

 https://www.facebook.com/thisyearinmusicxx

 

 

@thisyearinmusic

 

El-P and Killer Mike return with the second Run the Jewels album of the year

 

 

Run the Jewels is a collaboration between underground Hip-Hop rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. Their debut album came out in June. It received universal acclaim and is heralded as one of the albums of the year. Now a mere four months later, they have returned with the second album Run the Jewels 2. It’s an extension of its predecessor, but this time they’ve brought some friends along.

 

 

The album opens with Killer Mike’s trademark thousand-miles-an-hour delivery, then a bassline kicks in (reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 score) slow and menacing while Killer Mike does his thing. While the lyrics are aggressive, however there is a level of parody to them, so there is never a real threat from Mike’s verses. Run the Jewels 2 doesn’t start hitting its stride until Blockbuster Night Part 1. This one of the album’s standout tracks partly down to El-P’s ridiculously sick production, but mainly for Killer Mike’s clever lyrics, especially this moment of genius “I Jake the Snake ‘em, DDT ‘em in mausoleums”.

 

 

As I mentioned it’s not just El-P and Killer Mike this time, the first guest artist is Zak de la Roche. His vocal sample makes up the majority of the track, plus his guest verse shows that he’s still got the goods that made him a household name. The album slows down a bit now. All My Life is about as slow as RtJ’s gets, but don’t worry the pace gets picked up again with Lie, Cheat, Steal. Now we come to a suite of guest appearances. First up is Boots. Boots is slowly making a name for himself in R&B and Hip-Hop. He produced the lion’s share of the last Beyoncé album. His touches give Early some of the albums most memorable and catchy hooks and vocal flourishes. Next on the guest list is Travis Barker. His drums sound tight and this level of instrumentation, juxtaposed with El-P’s slick production give the track a fresher feel than on others. Gangstsa Boo answers Killer Mike’s somewhat suggestive and derogatory lyrics. In truth she gives as good as she receives. Her vocals she that’s not just men who are players and the reverse chorus at the end is a great pay off. Diane Coffee closes off the guest spots perfect. Diane Coffee is actually the alias of Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming. As All due Respect, this tracks added instrumentation gives the track some memorable hooks.

 

 

While Run the Jewels 2 isn’t as slick produciton wise as their debut, there is still plenty to engage with. The guest spots are all for the greater good of the tracks, rather than showing off how cool they are by who they know. The future is looking pretty good for Run the Jewels. Next up is a remix album and then the cat influenced Meow the Jewels. El-P is planning to remix the album entirely using cat samples (thanks Kickstarter). Whether this will turn out to be a producers folly or a credible album will remain to be seen, but you can’t say they’re boring can you! Avoid this at your peril!

 

 

8/10

 

 

Run The Jewels – Blockbuster Night Part 1

 

 

October 2014

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/thisyearinmusicxx

 

 

@thisyearinmusic

 

RIP Klaxons 2005 – 2014

 

 

So Klaxons have called it a day. While this doesn’t warrant a press release, there are a few select who are devastated. For these people I feel sorry. Not that they are going through a tough time as a band broke up, but because I’m sad that they like Klaxons. They’ve only made one good album (I don’t mean their debut Myths of the Near Future, but it’s follow up Surfing the Void). While this initially might come across as trolling, I hope explain my indifference about this piece of “news” (I use this word in the loosest sense).

 

 

In 2006 there was a period of time when music got all nostalgic for rave culture. That period of time when it was acceptable to wear day-glo colours, get as out of your face as you could and generally lush it up. The band at the fore of this movement were Klaxons (Sunshine Underground, Late of the Pier and Does it Offend You Yeah? Were close runners up for this title too). Their brand of indie-pop with big ravey beats was heralded as a good thing, apart from in clubland who generally wanted nothing to do with them. Klaxons were to rave what Boney-M were to disco. Nothing! After Myths of the Near Future came out their star really started to rise. The highwater mark was when they won 2007’s Mercury Music Prize (it wasn’t a great year but Bat for Lashes or Jamie T was robbed). After that tour ended there was talk about would the follow up be like. Sadly we never got to hear that effort as it was rejected by the label for being too ‘prog and psych’ (if you believe reports in the media). What we were given was far more interesting and engaging that their debut but, as usually happens, it was too different from the original and it the punters didn’t like it as much. Shame on you! This was a band who were trying something they found interesting and fun, but because there wasn’t a ravey cover on it, you lost interest.

 

 

After that tour not much happened (musically). Then earlier this year they released their third album Love Frequency. This felt like a step back as they’d tried to be all ‘dancey’ again and were working with ‘hot’ producers, rather than creating good song on their own, the label felt they needed outside help to recreate the ‘good times’. Sadly this didn’t work, as people didn’t buy it, the tour didn’t sell as well and now they’ve decided to cut their losses. My question is why now? Why not two years ago when people actually cared? I guess they thought that this new batch of tracks was just what the public wanted and their ‘hot’ producers were in touch with the zeitgeist as they had funny hair and went out in E8.

 

 

So that about sums it up. A mediocre band have split up in the middle of a mediocre tour, to try and generate some interest in a mediocre album. Don’t remember them as they are now, remember them as they were doing what they did best. Make genre bending music that was exciting, interesting and fun.

 

 

Klaxons – The Same Space

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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@thisyearinmusic

 

Unlikely collaboration delivers an early Christmas present

 

 

This year has been the year of bass. Despite what the pap chart tells you, Kevin Martin is ALL about the bass. He doesn’t just use it in a conventional way, oh no, Martin uses it to add texture and tone. On this year’s Angels & Devils album he displayed this deftly.

 

 

Martin isn’t one to rest on his laurels, four months after its release, and two after his last EP, he’s back to end the year on an even greater high, with possibly the collaboration of the year. On Boa/Cold Martin has teamed up with Dylan Carlson, AKA Earth. Over the last two decades Carlson has produced Drone, Ambient Metal, Noise and Doom Metal of the highest quality. The two had originally hooked up so Carlson could appear on Angels & Devils, but due to the quality of their work, they decided to expand the idea to a standalone releases, and we’re all the better for it!

 

 

Boa/Cold is 12 minutes of guttural bass and distorted beats, combined with beautiful guitar work and exquisite feedback. Boa opens with claustrophobic misty noise, while a guitar pierces through it. Carlson’s playing is repetitive and precise. This is Drone at its best! Then Martin joins in and throws down a slab of beat, that not only compliments the guitar work, but gives it something to interact with. Cold starts very ambient, and continues in the vein for most of the song. Its effectiveness comes from its simplicity. Carlson, us his MO states, only plays a few notes/riffs, while Martin builds the tension and drama around it.

 

 

Boa/Cold rounds off a very successful year for both Martin and Carlson. Both released albums this year to critical acclaim. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we hear from these two together, as musicians of this quality and vision should release a long player!

 

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/thisyearinmusicxx

 

 

@thisyearinmusic

 

 

Day four of an alternative 12 Days of Christmas

 

 

On the Fourth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Four Cool Birds

 

 

 

 

Three boozy Friends

 

 

Two songs by Love

 

 

 

 

And a Christmas card from the Partridge Family

 

 

 

 

 

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