Novelty records delivers a quality cover that almost surpasses the original



If you look at some of the biggest hits over the years a lot of them will be novelty songs. As a nation we love it. Today’s track comes from one of my favourite novelty albums. Simpsons Sing the Blues was released in 1991 at the start of Simpsons mania. At the time I liked this song, but didn’t really get it. I like Do the Bartman, Deep Deep Trouble and Look at all those Idiots more. It wasn’t until I really got into music, and found King Curtis that I realised the genius of this track.



In my heart I like this version more than the original (I know I’m wrong, but what can I do? I heard it first). It’s a classic track for a classic lazy Saturday.



The Simpsons – Springfield Soul Stew



September 2014




So Scotland decided to vote no against independence, now the real fun begins



Last night Scotland went to the polls. They were voting to see if the majority of the country wanted to become independent from Britain. This is the biggest political vote to happen in my lifetime. Registration numbers was a record high (in the end 85% of the Scottish population went to the polls). The end results were 55% No to 45% Yes. Roughly speaking about 2 million people voted to stay, but 1.5 million people voted to leave.



Now the real fun starts. If you have 1.5 million people who aren’t happy with the way things are being run, that’s a massive problem. The three main cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen) all voted to leave. How will Westminster appease these disillusioned people? Massive reform is the only answer, but what will this actually mean?



Only time will tell, but it is the start of a long, long journey to make the United Kingdom united again.



Teenage Fanclub – Start Again



September 2014





Hollie McNish unveils new album with some choice cuts from it. Just counting down the days until release now…



Hollie McNish is about to release her new album. This album is a double. Before you start to reel and think “A double poetry album…?” Don’t fret non-believer, the second disc will be McNish’s poems put too much “Poetry and music? Bongos and berets? Alright you beatnik…” Think again.



Hollie McNish has as much to do with poetry as she does with hip-hop. Her poems are a mirror to the country. They show all that is right and wrong with it. She tackles immigration and racism (Mathematics), how the old are treated in society (Bungalows and Biscuits) and the dilemma of breastfeeding in public (Embarrassed). These are big topics. Topics that effect all of us, but are rarely given the attention they deserve because XXXXX celebrity has a new hair cut or XXXXXX footballer scores a goal to get his team into the next round of the almost never ending season.



To mark this occasion McNish has uploaded two tracks to her Soundcloud. The first is Mathematics, but the second is a musical version of Embarrassed. Lyrically the poem is about breastfeeding in public and the countries objectification of breasts (its ok use breasts to sell bras/soft drinks/cheese, but if you breastfeed in public you’re a freak). It’s sad that McNish had to write this poem, but I’m glad that she did as it draws attention to how many women don’t want to and hide out in toilets instead. Musically it has a bass/grime feel to it (actually the beat is sick). It is about as far away from the subject matter as you can get, but it’s this juxtaposition that makes it work.



If you have an interest in poetry and hip-hop, mark 29/09/2014 in your Outlook calendar. This will be an album that you can’t afford to miss!



September 2014




Welsh quartet channel the power of pap on new single rather than rock



This isn’t for me. I’ve tried, but I realise that I am not the demographic for this band. Maybe it’s a sign of age or indifference, but this comes across as angst-by-numbers. Lyrically Cocoon is mundane. At no time do I care about either of the characters in this dysfunctional take on Romeo and Jules. If her mates think you’re a dick, you’re probably a dick (from my experiences with people). Musically this is pedestrian. It follows the classic formula of rock of the lowest order.



If this is your thing I’m sorry that I’ve slagged it off, but I’m totally not bothered not bothered about this.



Catfish and the Bottlemen – Cocoon



September 2014





Mercury winners return with strong second album



When I realised that I’d have to listen to and review the new alt-J album, it didn’t fill me with glee. It’s not that I dislike alt-J, or thought their debut was hideous, far from it. In its way it was a snapshot of those heady times that were 2012 and some of the ideas on it were interesting. My main problem with the band (and the debut) was the level of praise that was heaped on it. It wasn’t the best album of 2012, nor was it the best album on the Mercury shortlist that year (Field Music and Django Django shared that honour). There was an element of Emperor’s New Clothes about it. Music journalists had not much to write about the week it came out, to over lauded it. Which is a shame, but the English press does love to build someone up and tear them down.



Jump forward to 2014 and This is All Yours is released. On a first listen this is a cleverly inventive album. It is far superior to An Awesome Wave. On An Awesome Wave you got the impression that alt-J were going along with the scene. They were following the blueprint The XX laid down for indie with an electronic\dance flavour. The songs were well crafted, but ultimately dull. These sets of songs are anything but dull. This is All Yours starts with a four and a half minute romp which alt-J flex their music muscles (and influences) more than on 44 minutes of their debut. It throws in harmonised vocals, haunting keyboards/synths, a sample of Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, distorting drums and Eastern hypnotic instruments. So far so good. Over the next few tracks this new musicality comes to the fore.



alt-J have more energy and feel more vibrant than before. Up next are two of the single Every Other Freckle and Left hand Free. These songs have a slight bluesy feel. Joe Newman’s voice sounds especially guff and harrowed. The best lyric of the whole album is contained in Every Other Freckle (Let me be the wallpaper that annotate papers up your room). Garden of England – Interlude is the next track. It’s a minute of faux traditional English folk that conjured up garden parties, walks along a tow path in the summer, women with parasols and cricket. You know, England. After this track however the album doesn’t live up to its early promise and the next few tracks don’t have the impact nor the strength of the first six. There are a couple of highlight, Warm Foothills is a nice instrumental jaunt and Pusher is an emotional ditty that starts to close the album nicely.



While this isn’t a perfect album it is far more varied and enjoyable than their debut. I still get a touch of Emperor’s New Clothes about it, but there are moments here that justify some of the praise that the album has received. If you liked the An Awesome Wave you should love this. If you were on the fence about it, This is All Yours will push you one way or the other. Personally I’m still not sure, but I’m willing to give their debut another listen and hope to get swept along with it, rather than against it.






alt-J – Intro



September 2014




Skronk mavericks release second album in 15 years



Earlier this year Finish group Can Can Heads release their second album Butter Life. They had been recording songs for it since before their debut came out in 1999. Once you get your head round this piece of information, you can start to understand their creative process. Once you’ve got that sorted you are ready to experience their music.



There should be a little disclaimer on the cover stating “Abandon all preconceptions ye who enters here”. At first Butter Life sounds like a cacophony of discordant sounds and noise. This is partly true, but only partly. Once you get past the third track it all starts to calm down a bit and the method to their madness starts to sink in. This isn’t just random loud noises seemingly put together for the sake of shock (or art). There are melodies and rhythms at play.



Musically the album combines Punk, No Wave, Free Jazz and Noise, but there are elements of Grindcore, Classic Rock and Pop in the mix too. It’s pretty heady stuff. What’s more is that once you crack the code it’s massively enjoyable and repeat listens are mandatory. There are also elements of Jazz Canto here. While not all the songs have lyrics, the feel of the pieces have this album at their core. There is a discordant feel here that harks right back to Jazz Canto.





This is the sound of band who know what they want to do and don’t care if you don’t like it. Let’s hope that the next album doesn’t take another 15 years to make and is released before 2030!






September 2014




Lazy Sunday’s require fitting lazy music



Today I am sat on the sofa not doing very much, eating food that isn’t very healthy. Part of the reason for this self-imposed exile from the world is that last night I drank a bit too much Guinness and as tomorrow is Monday, I fancy a day doing nothing.



When a day is full of slothful behaviour it needs a righteously slothful soundtrack. Today I am playing the 1965 Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass classic Going Places. It’s chocked full of hit after hit after hit. At times you think it’s a best of, but it’s not. How Herb Alpert and the TJB came up with songs of this magnitude keeps me guessing more than an episode of Lost.



So if you are like me today and need something lazy and laid back to play, I heartily recommend this album!



Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – A Walk In The Black Forest



September 2014




The second Soundbite festival kicks off today in West London, why not get involved



Today sees the Soundbite festival returning for a second year. As with last year it’ll be taking place in Dean Gardens in West Ealing. The line-up is better than last year. The two must see bands this year are Jacob & Goliath at 17:30 and friends of thisyearinmusic Du Bellows. As We’ve given the alt-folk-blues group some attention in the past, I thought I’d pick Jacob & Goliath as today’s featured artist.



This three-piece hails from Brentford. They make the kind of music that is as thought provoking as it is beautiful. Yes at times it does edge toward Mumford & Scums, I mean Sons, territory but it doesn’t have the smugness that infiltrates their bland form of faux folk acoustic pop. Big things are destined for Jacob & Goliath, they have recently taken part in the Burberry Acoustic sessions and the results are pretty impressive given the age of the band.





Throughout September Jacob & Goliath will be touring round selective venues in the UK. I recommend you to go and check them out, as they probably won’t be in venues this small for long…



 Jacob & Goliath – Green



September 2014





It’s Friday, the weekend is almost upon us, what better way to start it than with an apocalypse themed funk album.



Maggot Brain was created by funk overlord George Clinton. The album opens with the immortal lines “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, For y’all have knocked her up, I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe, I was not offended for I knew I had to rise above it all, Or drown in my own shit”. Then a guitar slow (and quietly) starts to play, as the song carries on the intensity increases until it’s a maelstrom of riffs, licks and effects. Not a bad way to start an album right?



While this might be everyone’s idea of a perfect start to a Friday, it is to me, and if you are like me you’ll be playing this album on loop, chanting and mumbling along, like some kind of demented mantra all day!



Funkadelic – Maggot Brain



September 2014




The Mercury Music Prize shortlist as been revealed. Not a bad list this time…



So it’s that time of year when the Mercury Music Prize Shortlist is announced. This year’s list looks better than in recent years. Here’s a quick rundown of who’s on it and their chances of winning.


Anna Calvi – One Breath


A second nomination in as many albums. Calvi’s been here before so maybe second times the charm.


Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow


This could be worth a cheeky outsider punt, but I don’t think it has the legs to pull off a shock win.


Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots


No shock that this is on the list. It’s a bloody good album, but is too obvious to win.




This is a beautiful and beguiling album that yields more charm with each listen. Chances of winning, low.


FKA twigs – LP1


This is one of this year’s favourites. It has the right amount of quirkiness, underground cool and ‘who’ to grab the gong.



GoGo Penguin – v2.0


Token jazz album. Great for them to get a nod, but limited chances of winning. But if the Mercury panel keeps putting jazz albums on the list, one year a jazz album will have to win. Might be worth a sly wager.


Jungle – Jungle


Another favourite. Sadly I find this album bloody boring, but if it wins I won’t be shocked.


Kate Tempest – Everybody Down


My favourite album on the list. This is everything that the Mercury is about. Clever lyrics, inventive musicality and a stage performance that is second to none!


Nick Mulvey – First Mind


The downbeat, folky choice of the list. Nick Mulvey won’t pick up the final award, but will pick up a Brit of two next year. Also the second album on the list produced by Dan Carey.


Polar Bear – In Each and Every One


Second time of the list for experimental jazz group. Chances of winning slim to none, but you never know do you. Speech Debelle won once remember…


Royal Blood – Royal Blood


This has winner written all over it. Shame it’s not a great album…


Young Fathers – DEAD


This is the most intriguing and experimental album on the list. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard all year and I’m slightly shocked by its inclusion. I hope it wins, but know it probably won’t.



GoGo Penguin – Fort



September 2014






Mercury Music Prize Shortlist 2014

Avant garage pioneers return with 18th studio album and 40 years



Where to begin with this album! Firstly it’s by Pere Ubu. If you are aware of those two little words you know what expect. If not, then you are in for a treat. Pere Ubu formed in Cleveland during the mid-1970’s. While originally part of the underground (and punk and post-punk) scene, they stood out form their peers. When asked what their sound was like front man David Thomas coined the term “avant garage”. This suits them perfectly. They play with the conviction of a garage rock band, but with touches and flourishes of avant garde experimentalism (if you think of The Fall-I am Kurious Oranj you’re on the right tracks). They released five critically acclaimed albums until disbanding in 1982. This was short lived and in 1987 they reformed (and have recorded 11 albums since then).


Now back to the present. Carnival of Souls firstly is brilliant. It encompasses everything that Pere Ubu does well, and things I’ve never heard them do before. Instead of writing a conventional album they have followed the pattern of the previous two albums 2009’s Long Live Pere Ubu (loosely based on Macbeth) and 2013’s Lady from Shanghai (each part was recorded in isolation from the rest of the band). Carnival of Souls is (as the back cover tells us) “about a guy sitting by a river. After awhile he takes some clothes off and jumps in the water. He drops to the bottom where he looks up and watches the moon as he’s dragged downstream for as long as he can hold his breath”. And that’s about it.


Musically this is the tightest and heaviest Ubu have played for a while. But it’s Thomas’ vocals and lyrics that are the real star here. Visions of the Moon is the stand out track. It’s a monologue about someone living on the moon. The emotion that he sells with this delivery is astounding. Less is certainly more. He talks about the characters house, his walks and the lack of Sun rises. Musically the song is a slow and meandering (but never boring). It builds with simple keyboard & clarinet runs and a marching drum beat never stops the song moving slowly forward and it has an outro to die for.


If you’ve never heard a Pere Ubu album before, this is a good place to start. It is full of clever ideas, wonderfully playful lyrics and dirty guitars. If you are already a fan of Ubu, then you are in for a real treat. It’s so good that it’s the only thing I’ve listened to and thought about for three days. It’s totally under my skin and I love it! The only problem with this album is that it is under my skin and if I don’t stop listening to it, I’m running the risk of overplaying it and then ruining it possibly for ever. Which would be a travesty!






Pere Ubu – Golden Surf II



September 2014





Indie electro duo release uplifting second album



In 2012 ODESZA released their debut. It was 40 minutes of dream pop. Lyrically there wasn’t much there (apart from some vocal samples), but musically it was rich and lavishly constructed. Jump forward to 2014 and ODESZA have released their second album In Return.



In Return contains more of the same (textured dream pop, but with an added bite of manipulated samples). The music is euphoric, ethereal and uplifting. Everything we’ve come to expect from ODESZA. Since 2012 their song writing and composition of songs has increased. At times their debut sounded like a band working out what sounds and samples go together. The majority of these experiments were flawless, but a bit rough around the edges at times (which added to the effect). On In Return, they have nailed it. They have the perfect mix of pop and indie electro.



One of the most obvious differences between Summer’s Gone and In Return is that they’ve brought some friends along for the ride. Half of the songs have guest spots, predominately vocalists. On one level this works, as the limited vocal samples have been replaced by organic vocal samples. Lyrically the juxtaposition between the subject matter and the music works very well. However because there are seven different collaborations (on eight tracks) the album doesn’t flow as well as if ODESZA had used two or three guests. At times it feels like they could have released three fully formed EP’s than one cohesive album.



This is an enjoyable and inventive album that gets better with each listen, but this fan would have preferred a couple more instrumental tracks and maybe a few less guests. As it stands it’s a strong difficult second album, but not as strong as it could have been.






ODESZA – Sundara



September 2014





Electronic indie label give away entire back catalogue for free. Another reason to love Activia Benz!



What’s not to love about Activia Benz? They sign great artists. They’re tweets and posts are funny. They were founded by Slugabed. However late last night they’d decided to give away their back catalogue for free, and going forward all EP’s will be free to download too (see link below). What bloody good chaps eh?



But what makes this even better is that the music is flawless! Over the past few years Activia Benz have released some of the most forward thinking electronic music I’ve heard in a long time. I feel bad when an indie label has to give their music away for free, but as most of the EP’s are on Spotify they’re already doing this. At least this way they’ll know the people who REALLY like their label and can send updates of future releases and live nights.



Eloq – Stadium Aurora



September 2014






 Activia Benz



1970’s blue-eyed soul group eighth studio album is perfect to Sunday’s



OK, it’s Sunday. Let’s slow things down a little bit. Yesterday was for bangers and the boozing, today, is for silent reflection and tea. The Rascals eighth album (Peaceful World) fits this perfectly. It’s 73 minutes (that’s a double LP) of blue eyed soul. I generally dislike blue eyed soul. It’s generally a boring and watered down version of a classic genre.



Peaceful World is a different album though. It has elements of pop, rock, psychedelica along with soul. This is the perfect Sunday album. The music is mellow, interesting and has a laid back harmony vibe. It’s bloody brilliant and I can’t stop playing it today.



The stand out track (is the title track) Peaceful World. It’s a monster at 22 minutes. The majority of it is instrumental, but it doesn’t get boring as the psychedelic/rock tinges come to the fore. It’s nothing short of fantasitic!



So if you are like me today (slightly hungover) play this while you have your first brew of the day.





September 2014





London duo release hybrid album that is stronger than its elemental parts



SDR007 is a great album. End of. It’s the kind of music that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago. It’s a mixture of indie, spoken word, punk and hip hop. “We’ve heard this before!” I can hear you saying, but where SDR007 succeeds where other albums fails is in the lyrics and their delivery. It isn’t so much what they are saying as how they are saying it. This is the spoken word part of the album and it’s a joy to listen to. I won’t ruin the tracks by saying what they are about, but I will say that the more you play it the more you get out.



Being signed to Speech Development Records is a massive factor in their musical freedom. Scroobius Pip is one of the major players on the spoken word\UK hip-hip scene. He has constantly delivered the goods, be that with Dan Le Sac or on his solo albums. He’s never scared to experiment or try something new. Pip’s musical ethos is all over this album. The way each track jumps around the juxtaposition of sounds is anything but inspired.



Later in the year sees warrenpeace travelling around the country as part of the Speech Development Showcase Tour. If they are playing in your town (or one near to you) I suggest you checking them out, as it’ll be a night you’ll never forget





warrenpeace – Hungry



September 2014




1980’s B-Side eclipses 99% of Macca’s total output



Before today I was a very staunch non fan of Paul McCartney. He is my least favourite member of the Beatles. I find his post Beatles work very smug and single serving. That is until I heard the Temporary Secretary single.



The A-Side starts with a wonky synth that wouldn’t be out of place in Hoxton today. As the song progresses a stuttering acoustic guitar is added. Lyrically (and vocally) the song sounds like the Residents have hijacked it. It’s a peculiar song about a guy who wants a secretary and doesn’t mind if they’re crap as long as he can look at them. Nothing prepares you for the B-Side though.



Secret Friend is 10:31 of swoony synths, conga rhythms, noodling trumpets and rise and fall piano. It’s nothing short of brilliant. What McCartney has done (while messing about\experimenting) is see the future of music. Just under half way there is an instrumental break and that passage along could have been released on any number of labels today. The beat is reminiscent of a garage track, with its stop-start pattern. The piano part is the blueprint for the majority of dance music that followed.



After listening to this piece of music I have been left reeling. For the year it was recorded it is totally forward thinking. What is even more surprising is that it has aged remarkable well. A lot of music that has been created under experimental conditions sounds very dated quickly, but because these two songs were so ahead of their time (a time we have only just caught up to) they still sound fresh and exciting. There are three words I never thought I would never say about Paul McCartney!



Paul McCartney – Secret Friend



September 2014





Gothic post rockers gear up for album three by releasing their most striking song to date



Naming your band after a Norwegian fairy tale can bring certain conations. Luckily the music Esben and the Witch make lives up to this. Basically it’s post rock, but with some subtle differences that set them from other groups. Firstly they are fronted by Rachel Davis. With Davis they possess a vocal range that can equal any maelstrom their guitars and keyboards can create. Their songs have a far more Gothic feel to them than other post rockers. This is a post-modern Gothic though. It has more in common with David Cronenberg’s Shivers and JG Ballard’s High Rise than the classic Gothic of yester year. This is down to their interplay of electronic equipment and devices during the song writing process. Their songs glitch, click, buzz and hiss in places, and Davis’ vocals merge perfectly to create and ethereal haze. Esben and the Witch employ melody far more than other post rock bands. Esben and the Witch slowly interweave melodies and textures of sound until they have built a crescendo of noise.



This model of song writing is on display with their new (and come back single) Blood Teachings. The bass and guitars interact with Davis’ voice. At times it follows the call and response pattern. As the song is eight minutes long it slowly builds to its majestic peak 2:33 from the end. Then they just put their foot down and let rip until the end. It is one of the most striking and beautiful pieces of music they have ever created. The evolution of their sound keeps their song writing fresh, transient and beguiling.



Interest at thisyearinmusic towers is building for the release of their third album next week. If the song writing remains this consistent then it could eclipse their nigh on perfect (and genre defining) debut Violet Cries from 2011. The future is dark and gloomy for Esben and the Witch, but that’s the way they like it!



Esben and the Witch – Blood Teachings



September 2014





Another transfer window closes; let’s imagine if football managers were musicians



I’m going a bit off piste here today. Over the last few days transfer rumours and signings have been ruling my world, so I thought it would be funny to imagine what musician’s football managers would be. Some are based on their methods, others on their persona and others still on how I perceive them.



Ian Holloway = Sqaurepusher


OK, this isn’t obvious at first, but bear with me. Like a lot of jazz (and let’s face it that’s kind of what Tom Jenkinson’s music is) there is a method to the madness. The method might not be apparent straight away, but there is one there. The same can be said with Holloway’s managerial style and most defiantly his interviews. “It’s all very well having a great pianist playing but it’s no good if you haven’t got anyone to get the piano on the stage in the first place, otherwise the pianist would be standing there with no bloody piano to play”. Nuff said really.



Harry Redknapp = Chas & Dave

Bit of a no brainer really. He’s an East End lad and they play Rockney (a mixture of boogie-woogie, pub rock, but with a cockney’s charm). Redknapp’s style of play could easily be classed at Rockney. It’s a bit old fashioned and rough around the edges, but it can be really enjoyable to see the old favourites performed live “Long Ball” and “442”.



Roberto Martinez = Fran Healey

This one might be a bit unfair, but I really think that Martinez is the football embodiment of Travis. Whilst massively unfashionable now at a time Travis were, well, alright. Sadly Travis haven’t changed their musical style over the years and nor as Martinez. There is nothing particularly wrong with this, it’s just a bit boring. Yes he won the FA with Wigan (no small feet) but Travis also headlined Glastonbury (again no small feat given their talent and lack of competition).



Steve Bruce = Tom Scholz

Steve Bruce is similar to Roberto Martinez. (This pains me to say but) Bruce was one of the best centre backs England ever produced. Since making the switch to management He has never changed his style of play. This is probably down to the way he played for Manchester United. He went in hard and worked hard for every ball. This is something Bruce instils in his teams. Tom Scholz’s story is similar. Scholz’s built a studio in his basement and made demo, after demo, after demo until he got signed (and formed Boston). It’s this bloody mindedness and perseverance equate the two together. Boston eventually got singed and Steve Bruce almost won the FA Cup last year.



Mauruicio Pochettino = Mick Jagger

This one might be a bit short-sighted, but I feel that Pochettino only cares about his reputation and the amount of money he can get, rather than the team he is in charge of. The same can be said for Mick Jagger. It’s been written that Jagger only cares about how much money he has and how famous he is, compared to whether he is making good product. I feel the same can be said for Pochettino. Leaving Southampton after an amazing season to jump to Spurs shows that he never really cared for the club and when a better offer comes along he will leave Spurs for it too. This is fine, and maybe he thought he had taken Southampton as far as he could, but I would have love to have seen what he did this season with that group of young English players.



Brendan Rodgers = Black Sabbath

Before I get into this, I want to say that I actually like and rate Brendan Rodgers. He has done what many have failed to do in recent years. Make Liverpool play well and attack the summit of the Premier League. Black Sabbath are the perfect band to represent Rodgers’ style of managed and play. His teams can be fast, they have vibrant attacking options and they can be fun to watch. However I feel that the legacy of the band attracts more fans than the current releases. This can be said for Liverpool. They have one of the richest pasts in English football, but recently they haven’t won a great deal. I’m sure time will change this though. Sadly…



Manuel Pellegrini = Kanye West

This one has little to do with style of play, but down to cold hard cash. Manchester City are one of the most wealthy teams in the world. In theory they can buy anyone, for any amount of money. Excess is woven into their current stadium and trophy cabinet. Excess can also be used to describe Kanye West. Everything he does it beyond the realm of financial mortals. Everything he says is excessive. I like Pellegrini’s manner, but when the results don’t go his way he’ll be gone. With an excessive payout in hand.



Jose Mourinho = Phil Spector

I’m drawing parallels between Phil Spector’s private\later life. Far from it, I think that when joe Mourinho sets up a football team, he sets up a wall of football (similar to Spector’s Wall-of-Sound). No matter who he plays he steps up his strongest team. Be that a league match (after the title is in hand), a Carling Cup match on a rainy Wednesday night or a Champions League game. This has to be commended. But like Spector Mourinho is immensely arrogant thinks no one can better what does. See a perfect match!



Louis Van Gaal = Captain Beefheart

When Miroslav Klose played under Louis Van Gaal he has said “It was a tough time, particularly working with Van Gaal, I didn’t feel free. It was very difficult for me to fulfil his expectations. He was asking me to make runs I just couldn’t see. I gave it all I could, but sometimes it just wasn’t enough.” This is a similar response from musicians who played under the good Captain’s (mis)guidance. Captain Beefheart was notorious for making musicians play seemingly impossible riffs, chord progressions for days on end until he had the sound he wanted. Both Van Gaal and Beefheart have the product to back up their odd working practices. Van Gaal has won trophies everywhere he has been and Beefheart’s discography contains some of the most ground breaking and inventive music ever committed to tape. Time will tell if Van Gaal bring the silverware back to Manchester United or if he’ll end up with an Unconditionally Guaranteed on his hands.



Arsene Wenger = Sun Ra

Before we go on I should say I am a massive fan of both Arsene Wenger and Sun Ra. Sun Ra is one of the most innovative, forward thinking, musicians and band leaders of all time. Ra kept a big band going to 40-50 years. He did this though a shoestring budget (at first), communal living, lectures on subjects that interested him and a love of music. The same can be said of Wenger (I can validate the communal living or lectures, but if he could he probably would). When the Premier league was (let’s not beat about the bush) going mental by paying silly money for players Wenger bought the players that he thought would be beneficial for the team without paying over the odds for them. Wenger has also brought in many regulations for his Arsenal team. The most striking is an anti-drinking policy during the season for his players. Ra was tee-total and imposed a drinking and drugs ban on his musicians. Some called playing with like the “Ra Jail” meaning that once you were in his band, you lived and breathed his music 100% sober. When you see some of the best free flowing attacking playing football. That’s Ra. When you see the team make 30+ touches before scoring. That’s Ra. When you see Wenger sitting on the bench then walk over to a player and speak calming about what needs to happen. That’s Ra. Now if only Wenger would start wearing Egyptian headgear and quoting about Isis and pyramids, he would truly be Sun Ra!



Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Trust Us (Take 6)



September 2014




Three single in and Ghost Culture is making a niche dance friendly atmospheric electronica



Ghost Culture is a very apt name. Ghost can mean “a mere shadow or semblance; a trace” and Culture can also mean “development or improvement of the mind by education or training”. Add these two nouns together and you have something remarkable. And remarkable is the new single Arms.



The music James Greenwood creates is part floor fillers (not in an Ibiza way) and part ethereal soundscapes. When listening to current single Arms, you get the impression that the music is almost translucent. It feels like walking into a mist. You can see it, and feel it, but when you grab a handful it vanishes.



The Greenwood music sounds familiar, but totally original. He is a disciple of Richard Fearless (he played on Death in Vegas last album) and at times this connection is very apparent (debut single Mouth could almost be a Death in Vegas track), but there is plenty there to show that the student will slowly become the master. On Arms it’s more of the same, but everything is more concise. The drums sound crisper and the synths more effluvium. The major difference here is the tone of the vocals. Half whispered, half spoken. They draw you in and once they have the wonder hypnotic outro starts.



Arms is the direct descendant of Kraftwerk, but for the post-clubbing generation. Rumour has it that Greenwood is working on a full length album. If these three singles anything to go by, then an album would be the highlight of any year it is released! For now, however, I’m going disappear into the musical haze Ghost Culture has, almost, effortlessly created. I suggest you do the same!



Ghost Culture – Arms


September 2014





Sheffield duo return with new album and sound, kind of.



It’s been three years since the last Slow Club album. In that time they have grown up. On new album Complete Surrender, they had ditched their twee indie-folk roots, and the full indie sound of Paradise. This time they have embraced the past and gone soul. Northern Soul to be precise.



The intro to Complete Surrender reminds me of Taxman. After this initial flirtation with familiarity the song changes and a Hammond organ and husky female vocals enter the mix. The vocals are more exhaled then sung. A guitar enters now and the song picks up the verse-chorus-verse-middle 8-verse-chours-outro pattern. It’s all very pleasant, but it isn’t what’s in the foreground that is the most interesting bit though. It’s what is going on behind that.



What is most striking about Complete Surrender is the composition and the textures of sound. There is a lot going on in the background. This is the sound of a band who has been listening to a lot of 1960’s pop. You can definitely pick up on a touch of Phil Spector about it. Everything about this song is BIG. The way the guitars and strings mimic the vocals is exceptional. At times it sounds like a Mark Ronson song, but there is a level of authenticity about it. Being from Sheffield, Slow Club would have been exposed to Northern Soul in its purest form. They have not just decided to add some horns and Wall of Sound production techniques to their new song, they have studied the composition to the genre and produced something that sounds like it, but it respectful to the original source materials.



Slow Club – Complete Surrender



September 2014





August has been a great month. There was loads of great new music, and I re-found loads of old favourites. of Arrowe Hill released a track inspired by the centenary of the First World War. It is part of an EP. Every year until 1918 they will release a track for that year. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.



The Bug released his new album and it’s amazing! Keeping on an electronica vibe Rustie released his second album and it’s possibly one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. The Wytches released their debut and it proves that guitar music ain’t dead! Keep it up boys…



This month saw two surprise returns. Kate Bush took to the stage for the first time in 35 years. The results were meant to be magical. The other surprise return was Aphex Twin announced he will release a new album in September. When the new broke, everyone at thisyearinmusic towers sent batshit crazy!



Along with all this new music I watched some amazing musical documentaries. If you have a few spare hours please check out youtube for documentaries on Grindcore, Black Metal, Thrash Metal, Sun Ra, Blondie, Punk and Grunge.



August 2014




Bush mania rolls on. Eight albums in the top 40.



After her first gig in 35 years eight Kate Bush albums are in the UK top 40. What is more remarkable is that she only has 11 studio albums. This is about 72% of her total output in one chart at one time. What is more remarkable is that she is the first female artist to do this.



Out of her discography her debut The Kick Inside (1978) and Hounds of Love (1985) are my personal favourite. This might seem that I am only picking the albums with the biggest singles on them, but it is more than that. The Kick Inside is full of wonderful ideas and some of the most interesting pop songs committed to tape. Hounds of Love on the other hand is an album of two halves. The first half (Hounds of Love) is chocked full of massive pop songs (including three of Bush’s most famous), but it is the second side that is the most interesting. The Ninth Wave is a suite of seven songs that Bush herself described as being “About a person who is alone in the water for the night. It’s about their past, present and future coming to keep them awake, to stop them drowning, to stop them going to sleep until the morning comes.” Not bad for a pop album eh?



If you have never heard this selection of songs I recommend that you do. They truly are wonderful. At times the lyrical content is abstract, humorous, loving, scary and chilling, but they are never dull. It is a work of brilliance. The old expression “They don’t make ‘um like this anymore” is sadly true with this album. Let’s hope that this sudden bout of live performances (also called The Ninth Wave) might inspire Bush to get back into the studio and create something as bewitching again.



Kate Bush – Waking The Witch



August 2014





Yet again a computer game tells me the music I want to hear



It’s Saturday night and I’m playing DJ Hero 2. Some might look at this as a flaw. Wasting my time staying playing an outdated game, but I disagree. The game is fantastically easy to play (at first, but it gets insanely hard later on) and the songs are some of the best mash-up’s I have ever heard (see below).



If you get the chance play this game, even if you don’t like computer games, play the game for the soundtrack. It could change your Saturday nights!





August 2014





Mercury winners gear up for album #2



alt-J are gearing up for the release of their second album, after months of squirreling away in rehearsal spaces and studios. The results so far, are well, the same as their previous releases. The usual elements of heavy basslines, folktronic guitars, harmonised vocals, ‘odd’ time signatures and the guttural howl of Gus Unger-Hamilton’s are all still present.



If this is your bag, you’ll love it, man! Sadly it doesn’t do much for me. Actually that is a lie. I like it more than their previous material, but I still find that they suffer from Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome. The production is very good and composition (and ideas) on show are decent, it does little to move me. This is partly because I feel I’ve either heard it all before or there other bands doing a similar thing but more better.



I hope that these songs (and the subsequent album) grow on me over time as (until recently) there has been a void in new good bands coming through and I feel that if I could get over my own issues, whilst cracking their code I’d enjoy their music. As it stands however I’m finding myself scratching my head and gazing blankly while friends and colleagues wax lyrical about them.



alt-J – Every Other Freckle



August 2014





Scottish producer eclipses debut in 35 minutes



In 2011 Russell Whyte released Glass Swords. The world of electronic music imploded. Everything that had been considered forward thinking was blown away in 42 minutes. It was a critical success (and didn’t see that badly either). It swept the boards in the End-of-the-year-Lists and won the First Album prize in the Guardian. The only thing it didn’t do was get nominated (and win) the Mercury Music Prize.



Whyte is back with a new album titled Green Language. In interviews leading up to its release he hinted that he wanted to make a ‘different and more serious album’. He has certainly delivered on his promise. Green Language is everything that we have come to expect from Whyte, but this time the ideas are more concise.  At 42 minutes in length Glass Swords was hardly a sprawling monster of over indulgence and excess, but Green Language (at times) feels like a punk album. It doesn’t mess around getting to the crux of the tracks.



Musically Green Language is more of the Lazer Hip-Hop that Glass Swords was chocked full of. While it is quite an experimental form of hip-hop, the music created isn’t a chore to get through or unlistenable (feelings that are usually associated with experimental music). The synths sound crisper, the bass is wonky and the rhythms add to the overall aesthetic. At time it almost feels like Whyte is channelling Philip Glass as some of the tracks feature his trademark sound. This is a welcomed addition in this humble hacks opinion. Overall the songs are filled with a sense of euphoria. This is uplifting music that demands repeat listens.



There are downsides to the album though. Some of the collaborations seem unnecessary. The track Lost is a prime example of this. It features Redinho, but Lost is a strong enough song without a guest spot. This might be totally unfair criticism, but personally if feels like one collaboration too many. Having said that Danny Brown’s and D Double E’s inclusions are inspired and the results add to the original songs composition and production.



If Green Language is the future of electronic music then I need to get a copy of the Rosetta Stone so I can decipher it’s hidden meanings and messages. I suggest you all follow suit.



Rustie – Paradise Stone



August 2014





Brighton coven releases a stark, but beautiful album that re-ignites one’s love of alternative music!



First off The Wytches are one of the most exciting and refreshing new bands around today. Scratch that, they are one of the most exciting and refreshing bands that have come along in a long time. Right, scratch that long time, I mean this century!



Their music is a mixture of surf-rock, psychobilly, lo-fi indie and Death rattle and roll. This isn’t a bunch of kids ripping of their parent’s record collections. There is an authenticity there this is missing in the current crop of new bands. You get the impression that this is the only music that Wytches could make, because it’s the only music that they want to play.



Over the past 18 months there has been a wave of new bands that have re-ignited my love with alternative music (Death of Pop, Tyrannosaurus Dead, Parakeet to name three), but Wytches debut album has push me over the edge. Annabel Dream Reader is chocked full of songs that are yearning to be played loud in small venues. At times vocalist Daniel Rumsey sounds like he’s channelling spirts as the lyrical content sounds older than his years. Annabel Dream Reader has also given this hack writer the final push to fall in love with alternative music again. Tracks like Wide at Midnight, Gravedweller, Fragile Male and Burn out the Bruise (the stand out track on the album) are classic freak out anthems (think the Open Mind covered by Neil’s Children while being produced by Spider Webb and you are close).



While Wytches are currently not contenders to take the alt-indie throne, with this stunning debut they have definitely shown their intent and thrown down the gauntlet to the slew of new bands trying to make a name for themselves. This is an album you must not miss!



The Wytches – Beehive Queen



August 2014





LA Resident releases strong sophomore album



Mono/Poly last released an album in 2010. It was chocked full of the kind of electronica that has the power to move your feet and your mind. The songs were made up of vocal samples, bouncy hip-hop, glitch inflections and woozy and wonky basslines and rhythms. It was part of something that ended up being played at Low End Theory nights. The following year he released an EP on Brainfeeder. That was more of the same, but the emphasis was on the music and less on the vocals. It felt more structured, but with an element of abstractness to it.



Now in 2014 he has returned with a new album. Golden Skies sounds more analogue and organic (if a thing exists in current electronic music). The albums jumps from sounds to sounds and styles to styles (sometimes in the same song). This is the sound of someone who has wide ranging influences. One moment it sounds like Teebs, then it jumps to Vangelis. Mono/Poly’s lack of fear to experiment should be commended.



The only downside with the album is that sometimes the contrast of music sounds clashes. This creates a slight jar that throws off the listeners concentration. While I applaud this inventiveness, I feel that if similar sounding tracks had been sequenced together it would have given the album a better flow.



The future is bright for Mono/Poly. I don’t want him to change his style at all. I want him to keep playing around with sounds and genres, but if he could find a way to mix the album like one of his DJ sets, then I feel that he could create something game changing that would create a monopoly on the live circuit.






Mono/Poly – Ra Rise



August 2014





It’s CARNIVAL time!



This weekend is the Notting Hill Carnival. It’s Europe’s largest street party. All you need to do is get to W10, drink some stout or Red Stripe, eat some jerked food and stagger around listening to filling loosening sound systems.



Major Lazer feat. Afrojack & Vybz Kartel – Pon De Floor



August 2014





Bank Holiday tidy leads to web-searching and hair pulling



As it’s Bank Holiday, I decided to have a bit of a tidy. Whilst looking through old back issues of magazines I found the best magazine of all time that only made six issues. As you know I’m talking about Grand Royal.



Grand Royal was the brainchild of the Beastie Boys. It contained some of the most forward thinking (and illest) articles ever written. Their feature on the phenomenon of the mullet haircut basically brought it to the world’s attention. Sadly like all great things, it was over far too quickly, but at least we are left with six amazing magazines.



Whilst I was re-reading issue two I came across an advert for Mo Wax records putting on a production of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. I’ve looked online and can find nothing out about this. Was this just a joke? Or was it part of a tour? Or did they actually records a covers album of Copacabana, but it got shelved at the last minute?



Anyone got any ideas?



Barry Manilow – Copacabana (At the Copa) – Long Version



August 2014





Is this a joke, or is it for real?



I can’t make my mind up about this album. Part of me really likes its frivolous style, but part of me thinks it could be one of the most annoying albums I’ve ever heard. The really weird thing is that I can’t stop playing it and I like that I don’t have a definitive answer.



If you have an answer to this, let me know. As I stand here (well sit) I’m just left perplexed by this album.



Anabel’s Poppy Day – Mitsoobishy Deweze



August 2014





Ex EMBLD come up with something different and special



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



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



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



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





August 2014





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



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





Keep up the good work guys!!!!



The Death Of Pop – Key of Three



August 2014






Dorset brothers return with second album of 2014



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



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



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







August 2014




Minimal techno never sounded so fresh and vibrant



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



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



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






Moire – Infinity Shadow



August 2014






Something is a brewing….


Aphex Twin Blimp

Aphex Twin Blimp



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



Aphex Twin – We Are the Music Makers



August 2014







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


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



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



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



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



Lil Debbie – Ratchets



August 2014





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



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



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



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



Erykah Badu – On & On



August 2014





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



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



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



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



Boy Names – Hey There Sailor



August 2014





My favourite song, from my favourite childhood programme



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



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



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



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



August 2014





Childhood just got a re-boot


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


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





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



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












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



August 2014







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



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



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



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



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



Slayer-Angel of Death



August 2014





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



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



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



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



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



The Bug-At War with Time (Featuring Spaceape)



August 2014





Electronic maverick returns with EP full of skitter, wonky classics



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



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



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



My Dry Wet Mess-Nailed Scale



August 2014





Surprise collaboration yields familiar results



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



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



Brian Eno and Karl Hyde-Mother of a Dog



August 2014





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



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



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



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



of Arrowe Hill-1914



August 2014






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



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



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



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



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



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



Gang Starr-Jazz Thing



August 2014






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



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



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



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



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



Aphex Twin-Shiny Metal Rods



August 2014






If you like this why not check out



The Orb



Brian Eno



Portico Quartet



Steve Reich



Philip Glass

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


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



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



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



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



Jack Nitzsche-Revolutionary Etude



August 2014







A month full of live music and great releases!


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



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



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



July 2014






Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 947 other followers