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.




November 2014










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





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.






Mr Oizo – Machyne



November 2014










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.






Machinedrum – Safed



November 2014








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!




November 2014





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.






November 2014





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





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







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





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








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!!!!!








November 2014






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





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






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






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…






Neil Young – Glimmer – Orchestral



November 2014




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





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





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





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:



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






*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






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



And you can follow Amy on twitter






Kenickie – Come Out 2 Nite



October 2014



 Amy Mason’s Playlist





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!






Run The Jewels – Blockbuster Night Part 1



October 2014





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





Natalie Bang Bang’s third single is strongest to date



This track takes no prisoners. From the opening note to the last this is high octane power pop. Natalie Bang Bang (AKA Natalie Chahal) has crafted a song that sounds like “Phil Spector meets Le Tigre on steroids”, her own words. And she’s right. It has Spector’s Wall-of-Sound impact, but with the gritty electro edge of La Tigre at their most abrasive.



Chahal created a song that is the logical progression of RIOT GRRRRL and Girl Power. It rocks as much as it pops. Chahal has subverted the pop sound by adding the bite and bile of grunge. This is the sound of someone who loves Hole and L7 as much as the Spice Girls and P!nk.



This is Chahal’s third single this year and her most fully formed to date. Next month sees the release of her fourth. This time she’ll be the eighth edition of the Speedy Wunderground singles club. Speedy Wunderground is the idea of producer Dan Carey, who grew bored of the time it took record labels to release the bands he produced. So he started his own label. The rules are simple. The song is recorded in one day. It’s mixed and mastered over the following week. After that it’s sent to the pressers and 250 7” singles come back and are on sale within a month. How pop is that?



Natalie Bang Bang – He’s So Fine



October 2014





Cult children’s film gets given a makeover thanks to cult bass rockers



When I first heard that Primus was going release a version of Wily Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I didn’t know how to take it. If you’ve never seen Wily Wonka and the Chocolate, first off why not? What did you do with your childhood? Go outside and get exercise? For the 1% of us who haven’t seen it, I’ll briefly outline the story. A boy called Charlie Bucket lives with his parents and his four bedridden grandparents in a shack in an unnamed town. In this town there is a chocolate factory. It’s mysterious as no one goes in and no one comes out (then how do they load up the chocolate, bit of a plot hole for me). Then randomly one day, the owner (Willy Wonka) decides to let five people in. He has placed five golden tickets in five random Wonka-Bars. Panic ensues as the world goes Wonka crazy trying to find the golden tickets. Eventually the five are names, but the last one is a fake. As luck would have it Charlie gets the last golden ticket. For an unknown reason he takes one of his bed ridden grandparents (Grandpa Joe) with him. When they get to the factory Willy Wonka meets them (played by Gene Wilder as his insane best) and the tour begins. One by one the children are eliminated due to their greed and gluttony and Charlie (being good of heart) gets to take over the factory. Right, now we’re up to speed. If you have seen the film you’ll remember all of this and that its one of the most bizarre, freaky, terrifying and brilliant films ever made. What other children’s film has a beheading of a chicken in it?



So how does Primus’ version compare to the original? Quite well in fact. Even to the point that in five versions of the vinyl there are golden tickets that give the finder entrance to Primus gigs for free for the rest of their life. Bassist Les Claypool has kept the feeling of the original soundtrack, yet he has stamped their bass oriented rock all over it. Hello Wonkites kicks the album off. It slowly builds tension through scratchy guitars and echoy bass, whilst incorporating motifs of Pure Imagination (more on that in a bit). The first track from the original soundtrack tackled is Candy Man. What’s striking is that they’ve stripped all the saccharine from it, but what left with still has power and impact, although now I’m thinking of Tony Todd in Candyman, instead of Gene Wilder making sweets. Golden Ticket is the next big track in Primus’ sights. It starts off as a sad lament on how many bad card’s Charlie’s lift has been dealt. The music is downbeat, but then BAM, he’s got Golden Ticket and suddenly life is great! This is classic Primus. Musically they have skewed the perception of what the song should be. Which, let’s face it, the film is about. A boy has nothing, then through sheer chance he has everything.





Pure Imagination is up next. This is subverts the original. Claypool’s bass is the driving force of this song, until the verse and chorus when Larry LaLonde’s guitar playing comes to the fore. It’s somewhere between demented ice-cream van jingle and psychotic fairground march. There are also elements of math-rock in the chorus. Sadly the Oompa-Lumpa tracks are a bit of a letdown, as they seem a bit formulaic and pedestrian, and after the first one you don’t want to hear another one. So I’ll skirt of them for the main course. The Boatride.





Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride is the stand out track on the album (as it is on the original soundtrack). The original is a psychedelic gem. I still don’t know how they got it in the original film. Primus’ version is just as powerful. Tension is engrained through this track. With each echoy bass note the tension if heightened until at the end it reaches its peak and just as quickly as it starts it’s over. Claypool never reaches Wilder’s original insane vocal delivery, but he gets close. The rest of the album follows the formula laid down on the first eight tracks. Closing track Farewell Wonkites closes the album with motifs of Pure Imagination pepper it’s swirling bass maelstrom.



“It’s kind of strange, but it’s fun” is a line Grandpa Joe says to Charlie in the film. This is an apt description of the album as a whole. The album works well and the jokes don’t get boring. Sadly however Claypool’s vocals do grate after a while, but this is a complaint on all Primus releases, not just this album. Ultimately Primus were the perfect band to tackle this album. Since their breakthrough album Sailing on the Seas of Cheese they have been purveyors of surreal, subversive rock, so this is a piece of cake (what? I had to get it in here somewhere) for them. The only downside is after this initial listening binge I don’t know how often it will get played, but that is a problem with all Primus albums.






Primus – Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride



October 2014






Four years since their release the Coral return with ‘lost album’



The history of music is littered with ‘lost albums’. Some weren’t good enough to ever be released, a few were against what was going on at the time and were shelved in favour of something more ‘current’, others were snatched from us at the 11th hour (Neil Young I’m looking at you’re here) and some were so out there everyone involved went slightly insane (Brian Wilson knows what I’m talking here). The Coral’s The Curse of Love is in the second category. While the Coral had made their name making wonderful psychedelic indie pop, 2006 might not have been open to an album like this.



“But at least it’s out now, right?” I can hear you thinking. The short answer to this is yes, but also no. It is a great slab of slow psyched out folkie brilliance, but it is about 1,000,000 times better than Roots and Echoes, the album they actually released after the Invisible Invasion. Tracks like Wrapped in Blue show that they were still capable of writing gems. You Closed the Door is one of the best ballards they’ve ever wrote. However it is on Gently and the Watcher in the Distance that they channel their inner Pentangle, and create some of the albums most memorable moments.



This is the Coral at their psyched out best. It is a mixture of their first and second album. Fuzzy, wonky guitars, but played at a slower folkier pace. The only downside is that it took them eight years to release it. After hearing the Curse of Love you start to wonder what else they have hidden away in their vaults.






The Coral – The Watcher In The Distance



October 2014





Unlikely pairing yields Scott Walkers most enjoyable and listenable album in 19 years



In recent years Scott Walker’s musical output has been, well, harrowing at best. At times if feels that Walker is changeling his listeners to stick around until the album finishes. If/when you give up he is notified and chuckles while rubbing his hands laughing. This cannot be said for Soused. On this album Walker has released something that can be tangibly called ‘enjoyable’. A major factor of this new found enjoyment is down to his collaborators Sunn O))).





Sunn O))) are a three piece ambient metal group. Since their inception they have pushed the boundaries of what metal, experimental heavy rock and avant garde music can be. In a nutshell they play loud, slow, reparative and did I say loud? Their involvement on this album is a match made in heaven. What started off as a mutual love in, turned into something far more interesting and exciting. The juxtaposition of their hard, crunchy guitars and Walkers falsetto operative voice works perfectly and what’s more there are hooks that you can hum.



From the opening moment of Brando (Walkers opening vocals and a guitar riff that sounds a lot like Sweet Child of Mine), you get the impression that this is going to be something special. This gives way to the sound of a whip cracking and Sunn O)))’s trademark heavy, drawn out riffs. After that the album leads its own way through menacing soundscapes, riffs to die for and viseral lyrics for 48 minutes until the final track Lullaby (this isn’t something you’ll want to play to a baby to get them asleep) closes the album.



While this might not win Walker any new fans, it won’t alienate any existing ones. On Soused, Walker has created some of his most challenging, but listenable tracks in recent years. If you are dubious about an album of this type, heavy droney metal coupled with poetic lyrics (this is the album Lou Reed wanted to make with Metallica), don’t be, at times it’s light and playful, and extremely listenable! OK, this isn’t Scott 3, but it isn’t Tilt or Drift either.






Scott Walker – Bull



October 2014





Dorian Concept unveil sophomore album, it bridges the gap between original electronic pioneers and dance culture



Joined Ends, the second album by Austrian producer Oliver Johnson, is a journey through melody, rhythm and tone. Johnson takes as many cues from electronic pioneers and contemporary classical composures as he does from his dance peers.



The Sky Opposite starts off taking Philip Glass’s trademark sound, but updating it and layering it with luscious synths and vocals loops. As far as first songs go, it does its job. There is no build up, as soon as you press play, BAM, the song starts. It’s intricate patterns draws you in and before you know it, the song as finished. Ann River, Mn merges seamlessly and it’s more of the same, expect that the vocals are more pronounced.



As the album continues, it starts show its dance influences more and more. Mint is a five minute exercise in woozy synths, wonky beats and angular vocals. Daft Culture takes a simple riff, but through layering beats, bass and vocals, the resulting track is anything but simple. It’s these simple, but effective production techniques, not to mention exquisite compositions that makes this one of the stand out tracks.



Nest Nest however is where Johnson really lets rip. It shows off his expertise as a producer as well as a composer. His production touches are light, but effective in creating a specific mood and feeling. The strings flow around you with lyrical flourishes, but it’s the ether like synth and keyboard that holds the piece together.



Ultimately this is a good album and stronger than his debut, what lets it down however is that at times it’s more interesting to spot his influences, than to pay attention with what he is actually playing. Also when Johnson isn’t sure what to do with a track, or where to take it, he layers in vocals. While this adds texture, it can, after a while become grating.






Dorian Concept – Nest Nest



October 2014





As sometimes happens on a Friday night when I stay in, I put on BBC4 and see what music documentaries they have on. Normally I find myself being drawn in by musicians I have no interested in, but am unable to stop watching the story of their lives. Last night, this happened again. The subject was Jeff Lynne. I know, Mr. Blue Sky himself. Over the years I have tried to ignore his music as much as possible. This was easier once I left home for uni, as my Dad used to play ELO a lot. And I mean A LOT! One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was giving him a copy of the Best of ELO (you know the one with the medal on the cover) on CD for his birthday. He had it on vinyl and cassette, but his new car had a CD player, so I thought he’d like it. It ruined so many journeys in the car.



So last night when I saw it was Jeff Lynne. Immediately I thought “Oh God no…”, but sadly after watching the curly permed Brummie for five minutes I was drawn in. Basically he’s a really nice guy. He knows he’s stuck it lucky with his career and that’s, in all fairness, quite refreshing to see. He wasn’t being a dick with his rock n roll stories. He was being very honest and charming. The only thing that annoyed me about the documentary was then they had shots of his house, you could see all his gold discs. At first I thought it was ostentatious, but then I thought, “Where else are you going to put them?” Why hide them in a cupboard? If you’ve proud of your achievements why not show off a bit?



Since I’ve woken up I’ve had this song in my head. It was possibly the first time I appreciated Lynne’s brilliance (cheers Paul Weller… ), and sadly it wasn’t until later that I realised that maybe my Dad was right about him all these years (don’t tell him I said that). If you get the chance check out the Eldorado album, as far as concept albums go it’s alright.





October 2014





Ghost Culture co-produces dreamy ambient pop masterpiece





Lucid is the debut song by Kelly Lee Owens. Short version. It’s brilliant. Long version it’s bloody brilliant. Even long version it’s really bloody brilliant! Songs like this don’t come along very often. It has a dream like quality to it, but the pulsating beat stops you drifting off. Lucid is an apt title, as the track feels like the definition of the word. The beats and bass are crisp, yet the synth and keys envelope you while the vocals keep you grounded. This is in part down to its co-producer Ghost Culture (we are long time admirers of his work at thisyearinmusic towers). You can hear his flourishes all over the track.





The last time Owens was heard, she was on Daniel Avery’s (instant classic) debut. On these three tracks she showed the versatility and adaptability of her voice. However on Lucid she is up front and the tone and quality of her voice come through. While it’s too early to start shouting her name from rooftops and calling her the crossover artists the current scene has been missing, she is definitely one to watch over the next few months if this is anything to go by.








October 2014




Glen Campbell signs off career with a Beatles-esque tear jerker



After a career lasting over 50 years, Glen Campbell is calling it a day. A major factor in his retirement has been his worsening Alzheimer’s syndrome, which he has had since 2011. On his final single I’m Not Going to Miss You, Campbell signs off with an exquisite track.



It starts off simply enough with a piano, vocal sounds and guitars, but it’s the lyrics that really drive home how debilitating this disease really is.



I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end
You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you.
Not gonna miss you.


Croons Campbell. To call the lyrics heartfelt is an understatement. He is spilling his soul to us, while he still remembers who ‘us’ are. He knows that his time is short and wants to go out all guns blazing, like the (rhinestone) cowboy he is! Later in the song he sings

I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry
I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains
I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you



To know that in a short period of time you won’t remember your family and friends is heartbreaking. To hear them in a song is groundbreaking. At times I’m Not Going to Miss You touches on the intensity and emotion as Johnny Cash’s swansong Hurt. The tone and quality of Campbell’s voice is not in question, which makes his departure from music even more sad and moving.



Ultimately this is an amazing piece of music, but deep down I wish it had never been written, as it means one of my favourite musician’s will no longer be around. Try not to well up while listening to this, I know I couldn’t.





October 2014




Noel Gallagher sets up second High Flying Bird’s album with comeback single



In the Heat of the Moment is the comeback track from Noel Gallagher. It picks up where his debut solo album (High Flying Bird’s) left off. The guitars are big and dumb, the chorus is catchy and the verses fill in the gaps. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from Noely G. If this is what the new album is going to sound like then its business as usual. Which is all fine, but, well, ultimately we feel let down.



This is the man who inspired a generation of kids to pick up guitars (for better or worse). He wrote songs that are engraved into the national psyche. He had a feud with the other great singer songwriter of his time, and they inspired each other to make great music, and for five minutes he made supporting Manchester City cool.



When Oasis broke up (for the last time) I promise and potential was there for him to do something different. He wasn’t shackled by his band mate’s abilities to match his vision. He could stop writing three minute pop songs and start to create the music he loved (psychedelic inspired space rock). In interviews before the release of the first High Flying Bird’s album he hinted that he had two albums in the pipeline. The first was a standard rock album and the second was a collaboration with the Amorphous Androgynous. While High Flying Bird’s album played it safe (a little too safe for some) we were promised something special to follow. Over the months (and years) since its release Gallagher has said that the Amorphous Androgynous album has been scrapped. Personally I think this is down to fear. Is it fear that the album wouldn’t live up to the hype, or that the music he made would push him too far away from the mainstream, or that it wasn’t very good? Sadly we’ll never know. Whether these songs will feature on new album Chasing Yesterday will remain to be seen. If In the Heat of the Moment is anything to go by the answer is now.



If Gallagher is going to continue to play it safe, it seems pointless that he won’t reform his old band, as the majority of his songs always sounded better coming out of someone else’s mouth (namely brother Liam). While In the Heat of the Moment isn’t the worst song I’ve heard, it isn’t the best, and nowhere near as good as his earlier work. So come on Noel, patch things up with Liam, even if it’s just for the money, as ultimately you both need each other to surpass where your current birds are flying.





October 2014





Bowie returns with surprise release, some people’s world implodes, others don’t



Right so the one thing the World needs right now it a new David Bowie track. In certain camps this is the biggest, most pressing thing going on. In others it’s just an old man releasing a long waffly faux-jazz number. I’m probably being harsh on the Thin White Duke, but this doesn’t move me in anyway. The first 30 seconds are interesting, vague skittering drum and bass beats against a wall of feedback and distressed bass, then it doesn’t do anything or go anywhere. When his vocals enter the mix it sounds like Bowie has been listening to a lot of Scott Walker. The difference between this and Scott Walker’s more recent work, is that Walker REALLY pushes the boundaries of what music can be. He looks inside himself and drags out dark and intense ideas and puts them to music. I’m not saying that it’s an easy, or pleasant, listen. It’s not, but you have to respect him for going his own way. This feels slightly pedestrian. “Look at me! Look at me! I’m an ARTIST” it screams “I don’t just write pop songs”.



My main problem with Sue (or in a Season of Crime), is that you can see the sum of its parts too clearly. A bit of Scott Walker, some Vivian Stanshall there, a sprinkle of the Residents, a drop of jazz, a smidge of drum ‘n bass and heavy dose of the avant garde. I’m not saying that I want Bowie to reinvent the wheel every time he has new release but something more polished wouldn’t be a bad idea. As Sue (or in a Season of Crime) is part of a new odds and sods/Greatest Hits album being released next month it makes sense that it’s a little experimental and rough around the edges.



While this is true, over the years Bowie has tried his hand at most genres, I would prefer something more fully formed, rather than something new to help flog a new best of compilation.






October 2014







Brighton singer songwriter unleashes opus on an unsuspecting world



King of Cats is a bit like Marmite. You’ll either love him or hate him. Personally I think he’s great. His music contains an honesty that others will strive a lifetime to achieve, not never reach. What you see and hear is what you get. I had the pleasure of seeing him a few days ago and it is a performance that will stay with me for a while.



What we got on that wet Friday night in Brighton was a man on a stage baring his soul. It was just him an electric guitar (played scratchily) with some kind of FX pedal(s). When he started I wasn’t keen. KofC sings in a falsetto, part childlike, and part feline screech. Imagine Daniel Johnston meets Robert Pollard. It was hard to take at first, but after a few songs I got into it and I started to hear the beauty it contained.



There was one song in particular that resonated with me more than the others. The chorus was “Not everybody gets the joke” over and over again, like a demented mantra. Was KoC saying that his performance was a joke and not to take him seriously, or was the song about some joke he’d told people and it hadn’t gone down well? I don’t know and partly I don’t care. I just liked the song.



Luckily for me KoC has just released it as his new single so I can play it to my heart’s content. It’s more polished here, and there isn’t the extended mantra outro, with is the only downside on this song. If you see KoC in your local area I implore you to go and check him out, as it’ll be a show you’ll remember for a long time!




 October 2014





Mass genocide wiped out a generation of musicians, at least some tracks remain



Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia. I’m not going to go into details about who and what they were, but I’ll put it lightly by saying it was a bad time. It’s estimated that upto 2,000,000 Cambodians were murdered in the Killing Fields. If you had connections to the former government, were ethnic Vietnamese/Chinese/Thai or another minority racial group, were an economic saboteur (i.e. you had no agricultural ability) or were a professional or intellectuals (or had connections to the West) you were rounded up tortured and killed. Sadly at the time there was a growing Rock & Roll scene and these trailblazing musicians were also rounded up.



There have been many compilations about this musical scene, the most famous being Cambodia Rocks. The music is a mixture of Rock & Roll, sometimes played with traditional instruments, but with very strong psychedelic leanings. If you think of the Brazilian Tropicalia scene you’re on the right tracks. Some of the tracks were nothing more than covers, but some were original compositions. In truth they are nothing short of genius. Luckily there are current bands keeping the original vibe alive. Dengue Fever and the Cambodia Space Project. While these bands never quite get as out there as the original pioneers, they get pretty close, and that’s good enough for me!



Today I have chosen Paem Nas Sneha by Pan Ron. It sounds like a mixture of the Munsters Theme and classic Surf Rock. I know very little about Pan Ron, apart from this track is amazing and her voice is epic. I have no idea what this song is about, but I don’t care. It just sounds brilliant. If you like music that is a bit out there, then this is for you.



Pan Ron – Paem Nas Sneha



October 2014





Yesterday I went to Brighton. While I was there I saw my mates and three great bands (more on this later). The journey down was easy (40 minutes) the journey home took three times a long (cheers train types), so now I’m slothing like a good ‘un on the sofa watching junk TV. A curry has been called for and I have an unlimited supply of mint tea beside me.



Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow (as I expect the trains will too), but for now let’s all enjoy, possibly, the second best song written about Brighton (Elastica has the credit of writing this).



In closing cheers Brighton you were ace!



Stray Cats – Rumble in Brighton



October 2014





1980’s Scottish Indie janglers, need to be revisited


In the history of music there are a lot of forgotten bands. Most are forgotten because, well, they weren’t every good. Sadly however are the ones are forgotten, but were amazing. The Snakes of Shake fit into this category. Forming in Glasgow in the early 1980’s they released two albums before calling it a day in 1987. Neither have ever been re-issued (pull your finger out Stiff!).




Their debut album the Southern Cross is a 40 minute explosion of joyous jangling indie pop. Seori Burnette’s range from preacher, story teller all infused with a hint of optimism (while sounding more like Lou Reed than Lou Reed at times). On Like No Other Burnette implores while his lover is “like no other, he must believe her” followed “I no longer need her, so I must leave her, but first mistreat her” “I will have no other, and never be her lover” backed by a mournful harmonica and piano, then half way it picks up the pace and switches from being mournful into, almost blasé and sardonic that he isn’t into her anymore.




The album is book ended by South Cross and Southern Cross Part 2. These are the stand out tracks on the album. These aren’t straight indie pop songs. There are elements of zydeco, gospel, barroom choir, ragtime and boogie woogie. What’s more striking is how well it works and gels together.



One of the reasons that Snakes of Shake never really made it, was because they were a bit ahead of their time. Because they didn’t sound exactly like The Smiths, and weren’t from London didn’t help either. So what better way to welcome the weekend than to play the Southern Cross!



Snakes Of Shake – Southern Cross



October 2014





BNJMN releases his second EP of the year and a third is imminent, minimal techno never sounded so appealing!


BNJMN has been a busy boy. Not satisfied with releasing an excellent EP on Technicolur (Ninja Tune offshoot), but he has released another EP on Delsin. Coil contains similar elements to IV EP, but at times it has flourishes of ambient that Dr. Alex Peterson would be happy with.



Title track Coil opens with swirling synths, abrasive loops, and 4/4 beat. It is in the same vein as IV, but there is enough going on to keep it from being formulaic. It’s a dance floor track at heart, but it’s also enjoyable on the tube, or at a desk. Berth contains a simple loop, but coupled with ethereal synths and a beat so subtle that at times if drifts out of the mix. Together they create an ambient track that is similar to fog. If engulfs you, yet you can see through it to all its collective elements. Stand out track Merge is another dance floor gem. It’s a pulsating beast of a track. Skittering loops (at one point it sounds like a modem dial up has been sampled and manipulated), wonky bass, driving beat all make for an euphoric five and a half minutes.



Coil shows a progression in BNJMN’s work. Not only is he capable of making dance floor favourites, but he has crafted some well thought out music. This EP coupled an incendiary DJ set, show that BNJMN is more than a bedroom producer. He knows his audience and what makes up a good show. If BNJMN continues to make music of this calibre his next album promises to be topping end of year lists.



There is a silver lining to this story too. Later in the year BNJMN has a collaborative album with Best Available Technology, and that’s coming out on another label (Astro:Dynamics this time). If the quality of this year’s EP’s then this could be someone remarkable. Personally I’m counting down the days.



October 2014




FlyLo goes jazz on new album You’re Dead!



You’re Dead! is finally here. After months of hyping and mental press releases, Steve Ellison has released an album that not only lives up to all the build-up, but actually surpasses it. A rare occurrence for this day and age. You’re Dead take us on a journey through the afterlife. The album isn’t just literally Ellison has lost friends and family over recent years (his parents, Great Aunt and Austin Peralta his friend and collaborator), so dead is clearly on Ellison’s mind.



Given the morbid subject matter, the album is surprisingly light and airy. This is down to Ellison’s deft production, mixing skittering beats with luscious sways of synth and guitar. As with the previous four Flying Lotus albums jazz is a prevalent factor, but You’re Dead feels like a jazz album from start to finish. This is partly down to (long-time collaborator) Thundercat’s bass. It sets the tone of the album from Telsa to The Protest. This interplay with the beats and synths adds to the feeling of light and space. As the songs merge into one another, we are taken on a journey though the afterlife.



Musically You’re Dead incorporates everything from Jazz, Afro-Futurism, Psychedelia, Rock and Electronic music. As times it feels like the missing link between Sun Ra and Funkadelic (at its most extravagant). It’s this level of experimentation that seperates You’re Dead from previous Flying Louts albums (minus the insanely excellent debut 1983). Usually FlyLo albums sound ridiculous, but are full of boring songs. It appears that on You’re Dead Ellison has managed to create an album that not only sounds brilliant, but has brilliant songs on it too.





Flying Lotus – Turtles



October 2014




Iceage-Danish punks channel spirit of Nick Cave on new album

When Iceage first exploded on the scene they sounded like a bunch of feral kids who had only heard hardcore and punk. Their 2011 debut was a repeated attack on the senses and is one of the best punk debuts ever! In 2013 they returned with You’re Nothing. While it wasn’t as fast and frenetic as their debut, it was still a powerful 35 minutes. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s vocals were starting to shift from hardcore guttural shouts to definable vocals. The style was reminiscent to Ian Curtis (the same as musically there was a shift toward a post-punk sound).



This sound is even more evident on their new album Plowing into the Field of Love. The album opener On My Fingers starts with a call and response from the drums and guitars. Then Rønnenfelt’s vocals kick in. Sounding somewhere between Curtis and Nick Cave, they carve their way through the music. At first this new vocal style is slightly disjointed as it doesn’t quite fit with the music, however by the time On My Fingers ends they have merged. The Lord’s Favourite sounds like a rocker that would make you check out a band in a pub’s backroom. It starts like soundcheck, then bursts into a Poguesesque jig. To call it rambunctious is an understatement.



Lead single Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled is a re-working of The Mercy Seat (but with different lyrics). On this track we hear iceage’s aggressive playing start to come to the fore. It’s a slow burner that builds to a maelstrom of noise confusion at the end. Ultimately this is the weakest song on the album as it sounds like iceage are imitating more than innovating their sound. The stand out track is Simony which starts with a near identical riff to Sonic Youth’s classic Dirty Boots, the song then goes into Joy Division territory (surging bass, attack drums and droney vocals). The production of the track is flawless, with the way the different layers rise to the surface, only to descend when their time is over. The interplay between the bass and acoustic guitar in the bridge is one of the stand out moments on the album. As it’s one of the fastest (and hardest) tracks on the album original fans will have something to salivate (and mosh) over.



While the album is chocked full of iceage’s influences it doesn’t take away from the album’s enjoyment. This is the sound of a band starting to become masters of their craft. While this is a different sounding album to their debut, there is enough here not to alienate their original fan base. They might argue that they want more 1:35 songs and less pronounced vocals, but what they are given instead are 12 well-crafted and written songs, which, ultimately is more important than how fast can you play and how loud can you scream.





iceage – Simony



October 2014





New Wave gets lodged in my head, and because I’m a nice guy I want it to get stick in yours!



Lene Lovich was a New Wave darling. She released her best work between 1978 and 1982 on Still Records. If you don’t know about Stiff, look them up. They have released some of the best Punk, New Wave, Indie and Pop albums.



Today’s song, Trixi, is the B-Side to my favourite Lene Lovich single Bird Song. I remember seeing this on TV as a kid and it freaked me out. Weird church scenes, creepy birds in graveyards, odd looking priests standing around an organ and those vocal yelps. It’s still stand ups today, but don’t take my word for it, check out the video below.





Pretty cool right? Personally, Lene Lovich sits between Patti Smith and Kate Bush (you know, a better Toyah). She was theatrical, but had heavy driving music around her. It was the perfect mix for the times. Sadly



Trixi on the other hand is this demented fairground waltz (does it remind you of the Resident too?). In 1979 people must have thought “What the hell is this? This isn’t very punk!” but 35 years later it has stood the test of time better than the A-Side.



For some unknown reason this has been going round my head all day. When this happens I find getting something hooked on the song, normally gets it out of my head. As I a no longer have the this earworm it must have worked, so you know, thanks for you help!


Lene Lovich – Trixi



October 2014





The Hogwarts Express is calling; I better get a wriggle on



Today is my first wedding anniversary, so I’m keeping this short. To celebrate this amazing occasion we are off to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I am very excited. I am a fan of the film series, but have not yet read a single word of the books. This is something I expect to remedy in the future, but sadly not today.



What I really enjoy about the Harry Potter series is that, although the stories are new, the themes are old (magic, good vs. evil, homework, friendships). Basically it’s a mixture of Enid Blyton, Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaimen and Monty Python. Well that’s how I see it anyway.



No doubt by the end of the day I’ll have put on the sorting hat and ended up in Hufflepuff (bloody love Hufflepuff), but for now it’s time to brave the elements (it’s pretty wet here), have some lunch and board the Hogwarts Express. Later muggles…



The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – Hogwarts March (From “Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire”)



October 2014





Soundtrack offering gets mouths watering for film and the new album


After the strength of last year’s Tears for Fears cover on the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack Lorde returns to the franchise, but instead of just submitting a track to the soundtrack, she’s curating the whole thing.



Yellow Flicker Beat has now been released as a single. It follows on the feel of Everybody Wants to Rule the World. It opens with Lorde’s voice humming. Then her whispery vamp-esque vocals come in. Keyboards enter the mix, playing exactly what Lorde was humming in the opening section (clever huh?). This pattern carries on until the chorus kicks in. It’s big and catchy, everything you want from a pop song. The rest of the song follows this sequence until the end, when the same humming closes the song. It’s a loop. The track (in theory) can never end. Is this a reference to the film and how the plight of the characters will never end, or is it just clever pop tricks? As I know nothing about the Hunger Games (I haven’t read the books) I’m going to have to wait to find out.



Lyrically the track is taking pointers from the film too. Opening lines are



I’m a princess cut from Marble,
Smoother than a storm
And the scars that mark my body,
They’re silver and gold



The interplay between the words marble and storm is clever and playful. It shows that, basically, she’s hard and nothing can touch her. Later in the track Lorde sings



And now people talk to me I’m slipping out of reach now
People talk to me, and all their faces blur
But I got my fingers laced together and I made a little prison
And I’m locking up everyone who ever laid a finger on me



This, again, show’s how hard and ruthless she is. If you wronged her, you better plan your escape route, as she’s coming for ya!



On Lorde’s previous Hunger Games track she was saying that Everybody Wants to Rule the World, however now on Yellow Flicker Beat she is in charge, it’s taken her a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get on top and anyone who has ever wrong her is going to pay. Another reading is that the track has nothing to do with the book/film series at all. It is an anti-bullying anthem. Never give up, if someone puts you down, don’t listen to them, be strong and one day you’ll be in a better position than them. Whatever the reading it’s still a bloody great song.



Lorde is the right pop star for now. She has her finger on the pulse (and it working with the right people), plus her ‘alternative’ image (and music) is the perfect antidote for Taylor Swifts and her bubblegum pop (no offence to Taylor Swift). Yellow Flicker Beat shows that Royals wasn’t a fluke, but don’t get in her way, as she’ll get you next time she’s in town!



Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat



October 2014




LA electronica producer goes acoustic on new album. Results are hauntingly beautiful



Alfred Weisberg-Roberts AKA Alfred Darlington AKA Daedelus is one of the most prolific and respected producers working in electronic music today. His output alone is enough to inspire awe (15 albums in 13 years). Not all of those tracks are gold. For the ones that aren’t you have to respect his decision to follow that path, even if the results weren’t as enjoyable as the journey it took to get there. This can be said for 2011’s Bespoke. It was a good idea (baroque meets LA dance culture) the results were as patchy as getting a jacket tailored at the local launderette.



In the years since Daedelus has released another album (2013’s Drown Out) and has just recently released his 15th album The Light Brigade (I did mention he was prolific). The Light Brigade finds Daedelus on a new path. The album is loosely based on the Crimean War. The opening of the album quotes Lord Alfred Tennyson’s epic poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. While this seems like an unique theme for an album, it isn’t the first time Daedelus has written about it. 2010’s The Rigteous Fists of Harmony was loosely based on the Boxer Rebellion. In all honesty this is the best album about a Russian tradegy since the Bee Gees-Odessa.



Daedelus has always incorporated glitchy samples and beats to his music, but this time he has taken a more folktronic route. You could never accuse Daedelus of writing bangers (Fair Weather Friends excluded). Slightly introverted, quirky, thought provoking electronica is his MO. This is the order of the day on The Light Brigade, expect that it sounds more acoustic and organic. These instruments have been processed, manipulated, tweeked, but the lack of bass boost, keyboard loops and synthetic hand claps makes it a refreshing listen.



Lead single Onward is the anthesis of this new sound. Its five minutes of dreamlike vocals, melancholy piano and woozy bass. In honesty it sounds like nothing else in the cannon of Daedelus’ work. At first I found it’s lack of drive annoying and vocals slightly tedious, it just wasn’t going anywhere, but after a few listens I was drawn in to its fragile, beguiling beauty. The rest of the album is like this. Once you crack the code it becomes one of the most listenable albums I’ve heard all year.



While the Light Brigade possibly isn’t album Daedelus intended on making, its change in direction (musically) makes it more interesting than his last few. A change of musical direction can sometimes be a kiss of death, but this time it appears to have reinvigorated him. If this is the new direction that Daedelus is taking then I’m all for it and can’t wait for what he does next.





Daedelus – Onward



October 2014





Ras G released third in the Raw Fruit series and third ACTUAL mixtape this year



Gregory Shorter, Jr. has had a busy 2014. After the success of last year’s Back on the Planet he wasn’t content to sit on his laurels. Oh no. Shorter (or Ras G, as he is better known) followed this up with the second instalment in the Raw Fruit series. Raw Fruit Volume 1 was a selection of 15 tracks that clocked in just under than 30 minutes. These weren’t throwaway demos; these were just really short tracks. The second edition was more of the same, but the seemed more focused. The tracks had more of a point and the beats and samples were more precise. Then came the slip mixtape with VHVL (original review here).



This brings us up to date. Ras G has now released Raw Fruit Volume 3. It contains the same level of production wizardry as 1 & 2, but this time, musically speaking, Ras G seems more reflective. The samples are more laid-back (almost DJ Shadow-esque in places). The opening track Hear U, is a simple beat, bass, vocal, layered samples track. Less is definitely more with this on. It’s laced with melancholy and reverence. The lone vocal sample says “I can hear you”. Is Ras G implying that he knows what we’re going to be thinking, or will he use this in his live sets when he wants the crowd to know that he isn’t ignoring them? Maybe it was just a badass sample that he loved with the beat. Either way it’s a great way to kick off the mixtape. 2 Kushy sounds like he’s sampled someone running their finger around a glass half full of water and then manipulated every way he could, layered it to give it that Space Bass sound he’s known for. T.V. Party has a violin sample that wouldn’t be out of place on any RZA produced track. It’s a murky piece that plays straight into Ras G’s newly found reflective Space Bass sound.



Stand out track is Rawk’n. This is one of the longer tracks on the album. The main sample is a fuzzed out guitar riff (think Hendrix and Blue Cheer and you’re on the right track). This song conjures up LA’s musical history (the Fillmore, acid-test parties, Metallica, etc, etc), but due his looping, additional samples and beat he shows you LA’s musical future too. It’s a clever thing to do in 2:36.



The most interesting thing about the album is that he’s got some guest vocalists on some of the tracks. Giovanni Marks, the Koreatown Oddity and KhaiLL Sadiq join him on four tracks. These non-sampled vocals show that Ras G isn’t afraid to collaborate (something that he hasn’t really done in the past). Are these four track insights into the new direction that he’s going to be taking? Or are they tracks he had and couldn’t find the right way to finish it on his own? Either way they are exciting and enticing us think about what might be coming next.



While this year’s releases aren’t direct follow ups to Back on the Planet, they are filling the void very nicely. They are allowing the music consuming fans to have something new to chew on while he starts/continues/finishes his next long player. Despite their length these are not disposable tracks. Far from it. This is some of the most listenable and inventive music I’ve heard since, well, the Seat of the Soul mixtape in July. If you are a fan of forward thinking electronic music, this is a tape you need to have. But you better get in their early as they are limited and will probably have run out by the time you’ve finished reading this.






Ras G – Rawk’n



October 2014




If I was in Green Day I would be about to have been woken up. This would have been a shame as I would have missed the fabulous music of September. This month’s free playlist show this quality more than any other month.



September saw releases from Slow Club, Ghost Culture, Esben and the Witch, Pere Ubu (a serious contender for album of the year), alt-J, Leonard Cohen, Goat, Hollie McNish (another serious contender for album of the year) and the History of Apple Pie (yet another serious contender for album of the year).



The biggest album of the month was the return of Aphex Twin. Syro may not have been what we were expecting, but it was definitely what we needed! It was 70 minutes of abstract techno. However the stand out album was the History of Apple Pie’s follow up to last year Out of View. This album has everything that their debut had, but the sound was more refined and more importantly fun.



Let’s hope that October will be just as good. Looking at the release schedules it’s looking like it could…


September 2014




Spoken Word double album is the (un)surprising hit of the year



Historically spoken word albums can be hit and miss. However in recent years this has changed and they have become vibrant, exciting and extremely playable. Since the rise of artists like Sage Francis, Polarbear and Scroobius Pip spoken word nights have taken on the vibe of rock gigs. People get excited, enthused and give the performers a hero’s exit after their set. One of this new batch of poets is Hollie McNish.



This week sees the release of her new album Versus (or should that be Verses?). What’s more it’s only a double. The first disc is straight up poetry. This is what McNish does best. Her poems don’t mess around they get straight to the point, and once she’s made her point she hammers it home with facts, pathos and humour.



Stand out tracks include Mathematics is about immigration. Cherry Pie is a beautifully harrowing lament about her Grand Father being sick because during the war he (and his comrades) were stranded on a beach and all they had to eat was candied cherries. Touch is about how you don’t need pornography if you are in a relationship and you should be able to turn each other on. Cupcakes and Scones is about how weird the concept of School Discos are, and how McNish doesn’t want dress like a child anymore. She’s a woman and wants to be treated as such. As you can see these are big topics that no one else seems to be talking about. This is McNish’s genius and power. At times the album places like a best of, as the quality of the songs are so strong.



Disc two contains the same tracks as the first, but being backed by music. If you’d seen McNish live recently you would have noticed that she was adding musical elements to her sets. Musically it’s pretty grimy and dirty. The juxtaposition between McNish’s lyrics and the music is perfect. Although her voice is soft and soothing but the subject matter is anything but. This is great stuff!



If you are a hip-hop junky or a poetry head this album is for you. If you aren’t then you need to hear this album! There is a major shift going on at the moment and spoken word is getting bigger and bigger. So do yourself a favour and get down to Hollie’s nearest show.






Hollie Poetry – Turn On (Bricks)



September 2014




Stumbling across music was never so literal!



Sometimes you stumble across a band. In this case I actually stumble across them. I was in one of my favourite record shops looking at the precious things in the glass cabinets. Sadly I wasn’t paying as close attention to the other patrons as I should have and stumbled on a bag on the floor. I didn’t fall over per say, but it was pretty close. When I regained my balance and composure I was staring face-to-face with a familiar face. Not the dozy shopper who left his bag in the aisle, but a face on a record sleeve.



At first I couldn’t work it out, but as the blushing faded the image came into focus. It was Sun Ra. Immediately I went to the till with said 10” under my arm and left. On the tube home I read the blurb on the back of the record. “Right” I thought “This should be interesting”. And interesting it was. The record in question was the Brainiac Five-Space is the Place.



The Brainiac Five

The Brainiac Five



The music is a kind of space rock with leanings toward folk, psychedelia, proto punk and jazz. At times it reminds me of Ozric Tentacles. What is it with these Cornish bands eh? But what is more interesting is that it’s their first release of new material since 1988!



Since 1988 the members have been off having lives and indulging in other musical projects. The only downside is that apart from the cover and the title, I can’t really hear much Sun Ra on there. It’s all far to pedestrian to be compared to Ra. I get that this isn’t meant to be a cover, but I was expecting something a bit more ‘out there’ (for want of a better word). Ultimately this is an enjoyable 17 minutes. Let’s hope that after 26 years apart Brainiac Five will yield something else along these lines!




September 2014




One of my favourite producers samples one of my favourite horn riffs



There is something about the sound of a marching band that I can’t ignore. It’s infectious and makes my day immediately better. When I first heard DMX-X Gon’ Give it to Ya I thought it was a joke and wrote it off. After weeks (possibly months) of hearing it most days by a housemate at uni, I realised that it was bloody great. While I have never bought a DMX release (and probably never will) this track has a place in my heart.



This is big dumb rap at its best. Lyrically Earl Simons (AKA DMX) isn’t really saying much; apart from he’s going to give it us, his gruff bark fits perfectly with the marching band on crack music. Today (for an unknown reason) I decided to try and find a marching band cover of X Gon’ Give it to Ya, alas I couldn’t find one, but I did stumble across today’s track.



Regular readers will know us at thisyearinmusic towers rate Melé highly. So today’s track is a match made in heaven. What is great about this track is that isn’t not a cover and it’s not a remix. It’s something in-between. The way that he takes the sample and then adds new a xylophone to the mix it brilliant. This is what marks Melé out from the pack. It’s his attention to detail that always amazes me.



I can’t wait for his album to finally drop. If it is as good as his EP’s then it could easily be the best album of that year!






 September 2014








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