Bedtime Stories showcases his classical side on new single

 

 

Earlier in the year French Witch House/Gothic Electronic producer Bedtime Stories released an album called Universes. It was forty six minutes of ethereal synths, laid-back hip-hop beats and everything was doused with a Neo-Gothic vibe. As you listened to the music you could almost see cobwebs forming on your speakers. Now he has returned with a new single Almighty Deities Kissing, but things have taken a slightly classical tilt.

 

 

Opening with luscious piano and haunting choral vocals, Almighty Deities Kissing swoons along for just over two minutes before is gradually peters out, just as delicately as it started. This is the perfect soundtrack to a Simon Sharma documentary on either the romantics or the renaissance. It’s just so epic that you need to be looking at a flawless work of art just to do the track justice.

 

 

While this isn’t in anyway Witch House, or Gothic Electronic, is it a captivating piece of work that contentiously sends shivers up and down your spine. What Bedtime Stories has effectively done is showcase his talents, not just as a producer and arranger, but as a musician. Songs like this don’t come along very often, and when they do you have to grab them with both hands and hold them close, much like artwork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Iglooghost unveils new side project. Laidback and quirky as! Business as usual then

 

 

Seamus Mal AKA Iglooghost has been a busy boy of late. Not only is he destroying speakers by releasing forward thinking electronic musings, but he’s winning over swaths of people with blistering live sets. Now Mal has a side project called Pyong Yang. As expected its pretty leftfield but bristles with clever productions and Mal’s trademark skewed world view.

 

 

Cat Eyes is a slow burner and never really gets out of second gear. This isn’t a dis on Mal as it works fantastically well, however if you were expecting some ear bleeping future bass you might be disappointed. Ultimately Cat Eyes sounds like a mixture of Prince and Tyler, The Creator jam sessions at four in the morning after a night out. You can almost see the dry ice oozing out of your speakers.

 

 

Whether Pyong Yang will become a full functioning project, or just a place where Mal can release stuff he’s made that doesn’t quite fit into his Iglooghost remint will remain to be seen. However if this just turns out to be his Barton Fink then that’s cool too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brazilian Rolando Bruno’s Cumbia psych via NYC’s Names You Can Trust

 

Sometimes you hear something and while it’s totally removed from your own background you absolutely get it. Brazilian guitarist Ronaldo Bruno started off playing punk, but then decided to explore Cumbia music. Cumbia is dance oriented music that is popular in South America. He took his knowledge of fuzz rock, and combined this with the Latin rhythms to create a hybrid. One on hand it is effectively Cumbia, but on the other it is psych fuzz infused rock.

 

 

Bruno recorded Marionetas himself using a backing track and looping his guitar over it. Once he had enough tracks, they were released through the Swiss label Voodoo Rhythm in 2011. Eventually the New York based label Names You Can Trust stumbled upon these recordings and remastered them. Now they are releasing the 7” single Supermercado Chino as the A-Side and Marionetas on the flip. Both tracks are filled with Bruno’s passion of guitar and love of layered madness.

 

Marionetas is a beautiful burst of audio sunshine that is as perfect at a BBQ as it is at work on a rainy Thursday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bedsit pop just got better thanks to California’s SWAIN!

 

 

One thing about lo-fi music that helps sell it to the listener is its immediacy. Due to the nature of the recordings, usually cheap guitars recorded through cheap microphones, they have a ‘found’ or ‘field recording’ vibe to them. This added level of surface noise, be it floor boards creaking, neighbours talking, car alarms or even house mates banging about the noise, help the listener believe that the recordings have been made solely for their pleasure.

 

 

California’s SWAIN’s music falls into this category. Since February he has released three scratchly recorded EP that showcase not just his mastery of the guitar, but also his panache at song writing. Each of these nine tracks transports you to a place where SWAIN at arms-length regaling you stories of love loss and redemption.

 

 

On his latest EP All My Friends are Vegan and Complain When I Eat People, he’s upped his game. Everything is far more frenzied and immediate. There is a dirty grunge vibes that has hitherto be missing from his previous releases. Simple chord progressions are repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated until they’ve hypnotized you into submission. Thinkin Bout You is the stand out track on the EP.

 

Basically it’s a song about loss, but not in a ‘woe is me’ or ‘I’m so alone’. SWAIN is basically thinking about an past relationship/friendship, but so much time as past this is isn’t painful. The lyric “I’ve been thinkin bout you, do you think about me still?” sums everything up perfectly. The past still effects his emotions, but as he’s reminded of the past, he questions if they are thinking about him too. This is something that we’ve all thought, at one time or another, but rarely admit not only to ourselves, but to others. Through these times lines SWAIN is discussing the past, present and the future. Not bad for some bedsit pop eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Loyle Carner: Bringing the south back without trap!

 

 

For the last couple of years my love of Hip-Hop has been renewed. There are many reasons factors for this, but mainly that there are artists out there making the kind of music I used to love as a kid, but sadly had slipped from my periphery. The Hip-Hop I loved when I was young wasn’t gangsta rap. Yes it was fun to put on but after the giggles at the profanity and macho boasts had faded there wasn’t a great deal to keep me interested. What I really liked was the DAISY Age/Back-Pack Rap stuff. The music was full of incredible jazz and soul samples, and while the beats weren’t as hard hitting as the gangsta stuff, what they were saying had far more impact. Then the Wu-Tang thing happened, which in a weird way combined the gangsta and the Back-Pack stuff, to me anyway, and I was at one with the universe, Hip-Hop speaking.

 

 

In 2014 a mixtape popped up in my feed. It was for an unknown rapper called Loyle Carner.  It was called A Little Late. I didn’t think a great deal but I pressed play. Since pressing play Carner’s brand of Conscious Hip-Hop has been with me. Last year he released two singles and did a track with Kate Tempest, another reason for my renewed love of Hip-Hop. Now he’s released his third single Stars and Shards.

 

 

Opening with a laid-back laconic guitar riff, until Carner’s vocals and drums kick in and then we’re off. Again it’s another slice of social commentary about a low-rent characters who feel as real as anything in Penguin Classics or that the RSC perform. As Stars and Shards continues the tension is raised through the combination of Carner’s wordplay, and the dextrous instrumentation. This is what Carner does better than most of his peers. He limits the elements in his songs, a few instruments and a ‘simple’ track. But through this less is more approach he makes the listener pay more attention to what is going on, rather than bombarding us with a thousand channels of beats, bass and blips and beeps. Through focusing us thus, we get the message/moral of his story quicker as we don’t have to fight over bass drops and ‘clever’ production techniques. As Carner says himself “Bringing the south back without trap”

 

 

Where Carner excels is when, through his exquisite wordplay, he puts us in the exact moment he’s describing. Whether we have seen the exact events take place is by the by, what is important is that we can relate to it. Either because we have all either seen or experienced similar. His unflinching social commentary marks him apart from his peers. Rumour has it there is an album in the pipeline later this year, and that is something to get VERY excited about. But as I’ve been saying for a long time Loyle Carner is one to watch, it looks like everyone is starting to wake up and pay attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sleeper Radio unveil comp that culls their collective lo-fi loves

 

 

Boston’s Sleeper Radio has a lot to answer for. Firstly they play the best in the ever expanding DIY/indie scene, and if you haven’t heard their live shows SHAME! Secondly they’ve just released the Sleeper 1 compilation and, I’m sure I’m not the only one, it’s all I’m playing. “But how good can a comp be?” I can hear you think (I’m not really like Professor X, but in this case I am). That’s easy true believer. It consist of twenty seven track. Yes I did say TWENTY SEVEN tracks. Each track is different from the one that proceeds and follows it. The music contained is straight up lo-fi jams, woozy pop songs, and introverted strum-a-thons and full on ear blistering rockers. What’s not to love, yeah?

 

 

Vundabar kick things off with an idea of how the Ren and Stimpy theme tune could have sounded, if it had been recorded by some kids form Philli. Current live sensations HINDS show that they can also deliver in the studio. Chugging guitar riffs duke it out with melodic melodies while Carlotta Cosials and Ana Garcia Perrote’s vocals act as mediators. Du Vide slow things down an make us do a bit of soul searching before the next maelstrom of guitars and drums starts up. Later the Orielles pop up and remind us why they’re slowly become our new favourite band before Midriffs suckpunch and pummel us into submission with a hi-energy lo-fi thrash out.

 

 

The standout tracks however are by Boston native Jake Rollins and London based Zooz. Regular readers will know that these are favourites of everyone at thisyearinmusic and it can only be a matter of time before they put out a split release, or form a supergroup Zooz Rollins. Rollins’ first track LSD follows on from this month’s Figure it Out. Its loud, brash and incredibly playable. His second song Bed Bugs (Thank You Bay State) is more of a diretribe/short story set to music. The music is lo-fi, sparse and jaunty that show’s another, hitherto unseen, side to his song writing. Zooz’s offering is last year’s fantastic Surf in the Storm. This slice of slacker surf pop sounds more relevant now than it did originally.

 

 

The comps real power comes from its timelessness. Any one of its twenty seven tracks could have been released anywhere in the last thirty years. At times it feels like this is a lost mixtape that was found in a junkshop or car boot lodged in a tape deck. The new owner of the tape deck decided to play it before wiping it. When it was played it unveiled eighty minutes eclectic indie/guitar pop, a-la the original Cambodian Rock compilation. However all the tracks were culled from current bands, but its fun to dream right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nathan Melja joins Ninja Tune’s Technicolour family

 

 

When a label gets to a certain size it realises that it can diversify from its original mission statement and create sub labels to cover everything else. One of these labels is Ninja Tune. I’m not going to re-word this to make me sound cool, rather than the rabid fan-boy that I am, but Ninja Tune is my favourite. Always has been and, probably, always will be. This means I’m not as subjective toward its releases as I should be, but they have released a lot of stuff over the years that if I hadn’t been so anal about them I probably would have missed. Nathan Melja is one of these artists. With the ink still drying on his Technicolour, remember those sub labels I mentioned earlier, Melja is yet to put anything out, but his debut No No No EP, is lined up for a May 13th release. No No No takes his over saturated minimal techno to new directions.

 

 

Opening with woozy synths and hypnotic samples until a wonky beat and pulsating bassline marches us to the nearest dancefloor by the scruff of the neck for the next few minutes. Whilst listening to No No No, hazy dancefloors, sticky bar areas, surely door staff and finally the first rays of a new day, making us squint as we walk outside all come to mind. At time it’s hard to work out if these are mine, or shared memories, but ultimately it doesn’t matter as the music rises above it all like an early morning ethereal fog on a cold morning.

 

 

After hearing this track, Melja should change the name of the EP from No No No to Yes Yes Yes!

 

 

No No No is released through Technicolour on May 13th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mastodon and Game of Thrones. Perfect combination!

 

 

As some of you will know Game of Thrones started up again last night. For those of you who haven’t seen the TV show or read the books, Game of Thrones is an epic saga set a medieval world where various families and individuals are fighting/scheming/duplicitously trying to become King of Queen of this world whilst trying to defeat an army of frozen dead/zombies, called White Walkers, from taking over the whole world. It’s pretty brutal and gory at times, but in a weird way it all seems justified. Basically Lord of the Rings with a bit of religion, loads of swearing and decapitations.

 

 

Each series musicians and actors join the rank and file of extras. It’s like a cooler Where’s Wally. Last year saw Prog-Metal band Mastodon join this illusive club. How could they not with a name like that right? They were part of the White Walker hoard that appeared near the dramatic end of the series. To mark this occasion, they wrote a song called White Walker for the inclusion of a free mixtape. The song proved to be a hit with fan so earlier this year they released a sweet double sided picture disc.

 

 

Musically it’s a departure from Mastodon’s face melting brand of hypnotic progressive metal. In the past intricate heavy riffs have been interspersed with lyrics about white wales, wolves, space and Russian Czars. White Walker on the other hand is a slow and sombre number that is built around drummer Brann Dailor’s haunting vocals. As the song progresses the intensity builds until it reaches a beautiful zenith and then the outro gradually starts.

 

 

If you haven’t seen Game of Thrones this video should get you up to speed for series 6!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bodega Shaman might have released 2016’s summer album

 

 

Over the years there are a few genres that thisyearinmusic hasn’t really covered. Reggae and R&B/Soul. There is no real reason for this apart from things that have been covered were slight more appealing at the time. Despite not being to back it up with reviews and features, we do listen to quite a bit of each. Not to the level when we can call ourselves connoisseurs or massively knowledgeable, but we do know what we do and don’t like. Today’s track is something that we DO like!

 

 

Bodega Shaman’s latest offering, the quasi-instrumental Soaring Phoenix is twenty two tracks, YES 22 TRACKS, of forward thinking laid back Hip-Hop infused, electronic Neo-Soul with jazz leanings. You might think “I don’t have time to listen to twenty two tracks!” but once you press play, you’re transported to a land where crisp beats mingle with pulpous bass and clever vocal samples and time seeps away. Most of the tracks are sub two minutes and due to the nature of the compositions, bouncy bass and rhythmic beats, they zoom past you.

 

 

At times the compositions sound frivolous, but it’s a mistake to feel like this. Nothing is slap-dash and aught is left to chance. The real power of these tracks is the space that Bodega created between the swaths of bass, beats and vocals. This space is what gives the tracks their movement and overall enjoyment!

 

 

As the summer is just about to hit, this is the perfect album for walks home in the sun, adhoc BBQ’s and impromptu parties. The music is non-aggressive, non-offensive and pro-fun. What’s not to like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Death of Pop show off their softer side on their new glorious single Don’t Bother Me

 

 

The Death of Pop are on a roll! Since 2016’s has started they’ve brought in a ringer on bass, played some flawless gig, writing and recorded the exceptional Locomotive and recorded a cover of Memory Babe for the exceptional We’re All Boo’s comp, and they’ve hinted there is more in the pipeline.

 

 

The next of these pipeline tracks has just been released Don’t Bother Me. Instead of coming out of the tracks like a deranged greyhound, as they usually do, Don’t Bother Me takes its time to slowly build exquisite layers of guitars and drums, until an impeccable catchy chorus of “Don’t bother me, I’m still lost, Don’t bother me, ahhhhh-haaaaaaa” washes over you.

 

 

This change in pace is a subtle touch, but telling touch. Don’t Bother Me that shows that TDoP can do more than the savage sonic assault we have been recently used. Instead they’ve wrapped the melodies in a gossamer filigree that hugs us like a long lost friend, even though we’ve just met.

 

 

Currently TDoP have got us in Pavlovian frenzy every time they’re mentioned. Rumour has it this is going to carry on for the rest of the year. In Don’t Bother Me, TDoP sing “Do you know what you want anymore?” Yes, yes we do. More of this please!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australian Swedish Electro Pop titans go all Eastern on new track

 

 

Fantastic Fantastic are, well, fantastic. Their brand of forward thinking propulsive electro pop has set them apart from their peers. Their compositions aren’t just chocked full of inventive ideas and stuio tracks, they are, but also rammed with deceptive hooks and melodies. Just listen to their last single Call Me if you want a better idea.

 

 

On their latest track, Neon Light, released part of Activia Benz’ fantastic ilovesingles.club saga, takes their blueprint, but somehow increases everything ten-fold. The beats are crisper, the bass throbs with power and everything crackles with pop majesty.

 

 

If any of this wasn’t enough, about a quarter of the way through Bakubaku Dokin pops up and delivers some flawless rhymes. Sadly I have no idea what they’re about, please don’t be anything against Human Rights, but they’re delivered with such conviction and poise that they are the stand out moment of Neon Light.

 

 

Rumour has it there is a long player in the pipeline and everyone at thisyearinmusic can’t wait for it to drop, if their previous releases are anything to go by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dorset’s hidden heroes PoweredCows are about to release their opus. You have been warned!

 

 

Back in 2012 I went to a gig in a pub in Bournemouth with friends. It was just a load of local bands playing and given previous nights I was looking forward to it. I can’t remember the full line up, but a fledgling band was taking its first steps in to the live circuit. That band was PoweredCows. They were great and on the way home we chatted about seeing them again soon.

 

 

Fast forward four years to 2016. Whilst having a well needed cuppa today I saw that PoweredCows had released a new single PoweredCows from their forthcoming album Ways the Universe Could End. I pressed play and the next five minutes were a blur. So pressed play for a second time and again I’d lost another five minutes. We’re not talking X-Files pilot episode here, but due to the glorious noise that emanated from the speakers everything else faded into the ether.

 

 

Don’t Lie in the Sun is neo-revivalist-shoegazing. The guitars are big and woozy, the bass swoons all over the like a teenager walking to the bus stop after an exceptional first date and the drums cascade around you like lumps of hail.

 

Basically it’s amazing.

 

Basically it’s amazing.

 

Basically it’s amazing.

 

 

The lyrics, at first, wash over you but as you listen more they start to come to the forefront, until you can’t really hear the music at all. At first you think they are about the usual love, loss and rejection that all the best songs are about, but with a heavy lean on the pathos side. Then, after they have sunk in and got under your skin, they start take on new connotations. Is it about a breakdown of a relationship, losing something special or a bereavement? Personally I don’t want to know, but I think I have an idea.

 

 

Don’t Lie in the Sun is the first song that PoweredCows have released that fulfils the early promise that was on show in Bournemouth four years ago. 2014’s Laguna showcased how far they had progressed, but Don’t Lie in the Sun, and Ways the Universe Could End, are pushing their sound, and lyrics to new unchartered waters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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London’s Cat Videos look set to make a stir, but don’t try Googling them just yet.

 

 

Try Googling Cat Videos and see what comes up. Yup that’s right. Videos of cats. Some are funny, some are rubbish and others are sad. If you keep scrolling down you’ll eventually come across a London indie pop quartet. Sounding like Talking Heads being covered by a The Strokes and Two Door Cinema Club super group their music is full of angular riffs and stuttering drums. Needless to say its great music of a picnic in the park.

 

 

The only real downside to Cat Videos, apart from not being able to find them online that easily, is that so far in their career it’s all a bit 2-Dimensional. Yes the music is well written and arranged and the duelling guitars is a great touch, but lyrically we’ve heard it all before. But The Strokes never really pushed things forward lyrically did they?

 

 

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Cat Videos have recently been added to the BBC: Introducing The South playlist, which is rightly justified. Let’s hope that Cat Videos will flesh out their lyrics the same way they’ve fleshed out their sound, and eventually they’ll be the first result on Google. But if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to finish watching a video of cats failing to jump and getting stuck in vases…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scattered Purgatory pull out all the stops on new ambient album on Guruguru Brain

 

 

Taiwan’s Scattered Purgatory have been releasing forward thinking Post-Rock since 2014. Instead of going down the Mogwai, 65daysofstatic and Mono route, the quiet/loud blueprint, they have opted to forge their own, ambient path on new album God of Silver Grass, released on Japan’s Guruguru Brain.

 

 

Their last album 2014’s Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean, also released on Guruguru Brain, was chocked full of heavy riffs and hefty ideas. On God if Silver Grass everything has been subdued. The guitars are almost unrecognisable under layers of reverb and delay. The juxtaposition of these organic, yet heavily manipulated, sounds with the sub-zero synths gives everything a post-apocalyptical feeling of desolation, loneliness an regeneration.

 

 

Opening with Pao-P’u-Tzu, a 12 minute jaunt through dark chill-out, they are telling us “Oh you thought you’d be getting Ethnography II? Sorry to disappoint you, but we’ve found this whole different school of thought that we enjoy more. You’ll hear snippets of our old sound, but ultimately this is a totally different beast.” What’s even more remarkable is that after the initial shock that there aren’t any drums or catchy searing guitars, you find yourself being drawn in by, well, nothing. I don’t mean nothing in a John Cage way, far from it, but in between the dextrous guitar runs and bass throbs there is this level of synth/noise/effects that is nigh on impossible to ignore. When listening to the cassette version of God of Silver Grass it’s hard to tell where Pao-P’u-Tzu ends and Pathway Ghost starts, as it all merges into one via a droney throb.

 

 

Pathway Ghost is a totally different beast to its predecessor. Most notable because of its use of percussion and vocals. Don’t worry Scattered Purgatory haven’t gone pop, but the use of chanty vocals, coupled with a basic rhythmic beat does bring to mind images of sacrifice and pagan idolatry. But underpinning the whole song is a Vangelis-esque synth/guitar. It not only keep the song moving forward but also cements it in the not too distant future.

 

 

Title track God of Silver Grass closes the album with epic swaths of noise, confusion and ultimately pathos. Guitars wail, synths engulf us like Will-o-the-wisps while whispering their secrets and nonsense in our ears, trumpets from other realms play slowed down lurid versions of the last call. While this is happening deep bass rumbles on, totally oblivious to the rest of the band, but somehow bringing everything together. At twenty five minutes God of Silver Grass can take its time to get where it needs to be, and the song is better for its slow meted phrasing.

 

 

What Scattered Purgatory has effectively done is not only re-write, but re-define what Post-Rock can be in 2016. While it never unleashed gargantuan riffs of monolithic proportions, it does have subtle peaks and valleys.  Instead of using that guitar as its main weapon, Scattered Purgatory use a combination of trumpets and percussion to hammer home their message of alienation and redemption. This is chill-out for the Doom Generation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brighton quintet MØSS channel the spirit of 2008 on debut single

 

 

MØSS are new. So new in fact that they only have one song on their soundcloud. Who says thisyearinmusic doesn’t bring the ‘new’ music? This Brighton quintet consist of Luke (vox, synth and guitar), Nick (lead guitar), Balint (synth), Gavin (bass) and Declan (drums). There are elements of Habitats and Foals rolled up in an indie dream pop ball. On the weekend I managed to catch their thirty minute set as part of the Record Store Day event. I wasn’t blown away, but at the same time I didn’t hate it. There was something bubbling under the surface that was intriguing.

 

 

Their debut single, Pales Seas, was released on Saturday. After closing the set with it, it only seemed fair to check it out the next day. The main problem with this single version is it doesn’t give the band a decent account of themselves. Live Luke’s vocals has a power to it, when he sings you stop chatting and listen, here however this power and emotion has been lost. Then same can be said for Nick’s guitar. Live there appeared to be a free element of improvisation in places, but here its rigid and contrived.

 

 

The jury is still out on MØSS, as this is their debut track they need to iron out some issues in the studio, but they do hint at having something lurking in the background that could be very exciting. However at times Pales Seas sounds like a stripped back Two Door Cinema Club album track. While there isn’t anything wrong with this, you want a bit more than Topshop Pop don’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Squid shine at Brighton’s Record Store Day all dayer!

 

 

Yesterday was Record Store Day. For some of you these might just be some random words that have been thrown together, others might start grinning at the thought of the lovely things your bought yesterday and some of you might chide me for mentioning something that is now just a way for major labels to flog records no one asked for in the first place. Whatever your response it happened yesterday.

 

 

In recent years I have gotten up at the crack of dawn, jumped on a tube, stood outside a small shop in Notting Hill for hours only to walk away with a couple of hundred grams of plastic. This year however I adopted to do something different. I woke up at normal time, had a nice cuppa and at about 10.30 left for my nearest record shop. The plan was to meet with a photographer, observe and talk to people about their experiences and if I could get, the one record I wanted and one for a friend who doesn’t live near a record shop. When I got to the record shop, Resident in Brighton, the queue was pretty big. I decided to head to another shop I knew was partaking. Luckily this shop wasn’t busy at all and had plenty of stock, and luckily the one record I wanted. After buying this and talking to the shop owner, I went back to Resident. It was now about 11:15. The queue hadn’t really moved and was as long as it was before. After meeting up with the photographer we spent a good couple of hours chatting to people about their purchases and how they felt about the day.

 

At half one I left the photographer as our job was done, plus the weather had turned and we were wet and cold from a freak hail shower. He was staying out with friends, but was going to take more pictures of he saw people with purchases in pubs. I, on the other hand was going to an all-day gig. The line-up was full of 20 of the best and most diverse Brighton bands. Needless to say I had a great time and it was the perfect antidote to the somewhat crass and over commercialised morning. I won’t name all the bands I saw and how much I enjoyed them all, but for different reasons, but I will just mention one band that I really engaged with. Spuid.

 

 

Squid are a quartet that combines jazz, post-rock, rhythmic indie and dance elements to create music that pulsates, crackles and fractures why it challenges your conception of what music should be. Basically they are a post-rock version of the Portico Quartet. During their thirty minute set Squid showcased not just their musicianship and ability at arrangement. This is showcased on their most recent song Perfect Teeth. A slow burning instrumental full of breaks that flaunt their capacity for improvisation. It’s one of the best songs of the year so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Death of Pop team up with The Blog That Celebrates Itself for its Boo Radley compilation

 

 

The Boo Radley’s are one of my favourite bands. EVER! There was some whimsical that set them apart from other bands when I was growing up. However, like a lot of people, my first introduction to the band was Wake Up Boo. You know that song with the happy guitars and bouncy rhythm and catchy chorus, that is actually, well, bleak? When I first heard it I liked it, but wasn’t sold. However I must have liked it enough to ask for the album as a birthday present. To judge the album by that single is to judge the England team because Francis Jeffers played for them once. Just below the surface Wake Up brims and bubbles with psych ideas and inventive word play. Soon I had all their albums and I realise how important they are.

 

 

Now let’s fast forward about 15 years. The Blog That Celebrates Itself has commissioned an album full of Boo’s covers called We Are All BOO´s. Covering the bands career from their debut 1990 Ichabod and I up until their flawless 1993 shoegazing epic Giant Steps. As expected the bands in included on this comp are the crème de la crème of the current indie/shoegazing from across the globe. Duelectrum rub shoulders with Heaven while Jett Brando have a nice chat with Stella Diana about delay pedals.

 

 

The stand out track on the album is The Death of Pop’s take on Memory Babe. The original is a fast paced woozy shoegazing affair, with flourishes of psych. The middle 8 whips around you like Willo-o’-the-wisp and the face melting severity of the guitars on the chorus proves that punk wasn’t for nothing. The Death of Pop’s version however feels like a totally different beast. Opening with warm acoustic guitars and crisp vocal harmonies. There is a slight holiday feeling to it. Whilst listening to Memory Babe, you can almost imagine yourself on a patio or veranda watching the last rays of the sun set while you are serenaded by local musicians that is until the outro kicks in a gentle maelstroms of psych guitars engulf your ears. The beauty of this track is that it strips away all the noise and confusion of the original, but what we are left with is pure heart felt emotion. It’s the most striking track on the comp as instead of trying to out delay/drone/muscle the original songs, The Death of Pop have tapped into what it’s about and executed something that delivered on all levels.

 

 

The only real downside is there wasn’t more tracks from their underrated debut Ichabod and I, or non-album tracks I Want a Rainbow Nation and Sunfly, but this, in all fairness, is petty nit-picking on my behalf, as the actual songs covered showcase the bands depth and diversity. If you are expecting to find covers of Wake Up Boo, Find the Answer Within and Ride the Tiger, this isn’t the album for you. However if you want to hear reinterpretations of their early shoegazing, noise-pop material then this comp will find a very happy home on your harddrive and a very lazy day you will have!

 

 

The full tracklisting is:

 

 

  1. 93MillionMilesFromTheSun-Kaleidoscope
  2. Duelectrum-Lazy Day
  3. The City Gates-Towards the Light
  4. Did You Die-The Finest Kiss
  5. Lava Divers-Does this Hurt
  6. Heaven-Firesky
  7. Stella Diana-Lazarus
  8. Seven Tin Stars-Barney (…and Me)
  9. Juvenile Juvenile-Wish I Was Skinny
  10. Jeff Brando-Spaniard
  11. The Death of Pop-Memory Babe
  12. Fuffytails-Aldous
  13. 93MillionMilesFromTheSun-Foster’s Van

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quintet WE-ARE-Z are our outsider bet to make 2016 the year of Wonky Pop!

 

 

WE-ARE-Z write songs in the same way that Camus and Satre looked at the world. While we may see table as a device to put cups of tea and letters on while having a little sit, they might have seen a device that the weight of the world can rest upon without cracking. The same can be said about WE-ARE-Z. They don’t see a relationship as a collection of intimate moments between two people, but continued stories serialised at intermittent intervals, with each moment having a beginning middle and end. This is what their latest opus Easy feels like to us.

 

 

Opening with woozy synth sways, chugging guitars and choppy beats Easy inspires a confident and arousing manner, but when the introspective and soul searching lyrics kick in you realise very quickly this isn’t your usual brand of guitar bothering rawk. Part of WE-ARE-Z’s charm is probably their disdain for convention. Nothing is as you’d expect it and just when you think you know what’s going to happen the opposite happens, or at times nothing at all. This disdain probably comes from their inception. The fact that they call their music Wonky Pop should be enough to make you fall in love with this quintet!

 

 

Forming after impromptu jam sessions in bass player Marc “Archie” Arciero’s flat after heavy nights out. You can almost hear the conversations that started the band “I love this track. I bet I can play along with it. Where is that bass?”, “This would have been really great if David Byrne had written the lyrics it instead” and “It’s a shame Jacques Brel never released a post-punk album” Where else can you find something that sounds equally like Men at Work, XTC and Serge Gainsbourg, while never sounding like any of them at all!

 

 

WE-ARE-Z give you faith in everything. Their music is wonderful and idiotic. Somehow they managed to combine contrasting influences and schools of thought to create lurid soundscapes that would be out of place in either a David Lynch dream sequence and a full on Disney song and dance number. This is one band that isn’t picking the easy path, but who wants to do things the easy way?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brighton newbies Nova are off to a good start, but lets hope their name also isn’t an allegory for their career

 

 

New bands are great. When you listen to a new band for the first time you run an emotional gambit. Like, hate, anxiety, angst and apprehension all take control. After a few seconds you know whether you want to continue and by the end you know if you’ll be playing it again. All these feelings and emotions, plus a slew of others, I went through when listening to Nova, the latest in a long list of new Brighton bands.

 

 

It’s hard to judge Tattoos fairly as it’s more of a rough guide for what’s the come, than it is full song. When listening to it you can spot the areas that are marked for drum fills, guitar solo and soaring orchestral strings. But what is on show is Nova’s ability to write emotive lyrics that get you where it hurts and to tell a concise story without being too obvious about the overall themes and stories.

 

 

Despite the scratchiness of this recording there is something that is transfixing and beguiling. Under tinny guitars and lyrics filled with renunciation Nova grab you in a primal way. You can’t look away and when you do you can feel it boring into you. This is an impressive thing to do so early on in their career. The only worry is that when they re-record Tattoos everything that makes it remarkable will be washed away and they’ll just sound like every other band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John J Presley offer an interesting take on a classic song

 

 

When I first heard John J. Presley a few years ago, I commented to a friend that he sounded like a mixture of Nick Cave and Tom Waits, so his new track is no surprise. The only real surprise is why has it taken him so long to record and release it?

 

 

The main difference between Waits’ version and this is that Presley has slowed it down. At first this sentence doesn’t make sense, given that the original was never played at breakneck speed, but Presley’s version is slower. At firs this sounds jarring and you hope it’ll speed up, but after a few listens you get it and realise that the space between the notes and vocals is transfixing and adds something that Waits never had. Malice.

 

 

While Presley makes this cover his own, it never eclipse the original. This isn’t a unexpected as Waits’ 1980 version is a classic. However given Presley’s vocal range and penchant for the blues, this could have been something very special indeed.

 

 

Tour Dates
April 20 – The Shacklewell Arms, London
May 24 – Indo, London
July 25 – Golden Slippers at Blacks Club, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boston’s bedroom troubadour returns with new song and bigger sound

 

 

It feels like eons since we’ve had something new from Bostonite Jake Rollins, but in fact it is actually thirteen months since his debut album was released on New York’s 80N7 records. Now he’s returned with a new song Figure it Out for Memorials of Distinction’s aptly named Sentimental Journey compilation. While this is classic Rollins, it is also a departure from his astonishing debut album Spend A Few, Make A Few.

 

 

Previously Rollins was the King of Betsit-Pop. His songs were full of scratchy guitars, woozy vocals and the kind of lo-fi production values that everyone at thisyearinmusic loves. From the muffled looped intro, you realise that you aren’t in Kansas, or Boston anymore. On Figure it Out however everything is clean sounding and there is a majestic pop sheen to the proceedings. Lyrically Figure it Out is a step forward too. In the past he’s used quiet introspection to tell his stories of love, loss and redemption. Now Rollins sounds more confident and, dare I say, brash. What’s more it all sounds a like Suede circa Coming Up era. Never a bad thing.

 

 

Let’s hope that this is the opening drop of rain before the monsoon of new material. Rollins is a definite talent, but he needs to release the album that backs up his early praise and promise. Giving the quality of this new track he’s not only figured it out, but managed to capture it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hotei returns with another slice of big dumb fun!

 

 

You probably know Hotei’s music and don’t realise it. If you’ve ever seen Kill Bill then you already know is work. Remember that track with the massive retro beat and incendiary guitar riffs? It was probably played as Uma Thurman cut her way through an unending stream of bad guys before she could get to their boss and another name on her list. Yeah? Cool! That was Hotei. Well since then he’s toured the world, recorded and released seven albums and is has just dropped his latest single, Move It featuring Richard Z. Krupse. You know, him from Rammstein and Emigrate.

 

 

Move It perfectly fills the void for fun massive riffed, big beated rock. Hotei and Kruspe aren’t trying to be subtle, or clever with the juxtaposition of the music/guitars/vocals. It just is what it is. A load of fun. Each riff is are more devastating than the last and by the halfway point you are disoriented and thankful for the slight reprieve that Kruspe’s vocals give. While this doesn’t have the same impact as Hotei’s earlier work, it is just as enjoyable. Do yourself a favour today. Indulge in three minutes of riff rock majestry!

 

 

Move It is out now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Valeur d’usage Records has teamed up with FTOR for their third release

 

 

In recent years musicians and record labels have had to come up with interesting ways to package their products. Some have gone down the route of limited edition covers designed and created by the musicians themselves. Others have opted for heat sensitive covers. Some have gone down the route of releasing art prints with downloads, and this year Scottish post-rock group Outblinker decided to use broken watches in custom made boxes instead (this mirrors the art work perfectly). One French label, Valeur d’usage Records, has gone one step further.

 

 

For their third release, FTOR’s La T album, Valeur d’usage have packaged the four suite forty five minute CD by the experimental drone artist in a concrete container. Let’s just let that sink in for a minute. A concrete container. The dimensions of this container are unknown, but this what they had to say about it:

 

 

The T pattern is made of three main ratios: height and diameter (15/10), two different widths with spout or handle (22/21), handle and diameter of the central orifice (11/5,5). These three fractions define T-scale intervals. Combining them systematically yields fifteen positive fractions, including six fractions containing two of the six numbers from the three main relations, i.e. seven main intervals (between the root and the six fractions) and seven secondary intervals: a scale with fourteen intervals, i.e. fifteen degrees.

 

 

Valeur d'usage Records

 

 

So reading between the lines, La T is a musical and mathematical interpretation of a teapot that was created last year by the artist FCK. The concrete packaging pays hommage to the inception of this project. The teapot was measured and these proportions were used to set both the pitch intervals as well as the musical events and durations of the four stuites. Given that the sole picture we have of it has nothing be base height or width, it’s unsure whether this is a small item or not. However judging by the picture, this is something that wouldn’t be out of place in your local garden centre or boutique designer.

 

 

The sad thing about this release, is that the most interesting thing about it is the packaging. Throughout the forty five minutes, La T never really does anything. Yes the music is pleasant and the tones are polite and cordial, but it never deviates from the opening note of each track. This is the perfect soundtrack for anything that you need to concentrate on. Essay writing/studying, working with headphones at the office, yoga, preparing and cooking a big meal, reading, self meditation and washing up. The music was originally commissioned for a soundtrack an installation from ceramist’s FCK.

 

 

But there is not enough variation and fluctuation of sound for me personally. If you were walking around the installation and this played it would enhance the experience, but without the art it kind of doesn’t work. A reason for this is there are no gentle valleys and subtle peaks of music/noise, it’s just constant. While I might be missing the point here of skilfully arranged complex nuances, it feels like a slightly missed trick not to change the inflection during each composition. Yes I understand that this is meant to be played as a whole, it’s about the completed journey instead of detours and shortcuts, but after a while it all blurs into one and you have no idea what track you are actually listening to. And edited vinyl release would work better as you’d have the surface noise of record making each listen a singular individual experience.

 

 

La T is available through Valeur d’usage Records now for instant digital downloads, but the physical copies will be shipped mid June.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moon Bounce joins the club we all want to be members of. Activia Benz!

 

 

Corey Regensburg AKA Moon Bounce has been making forward thinking music for a few years now. His music is immediately recognisable due to its incendiary beat, R&B leanings and overall fun/tongue in cheek themes and lyrics. Regensburg has unleashed his latest opus, Wingman, onto an unsuspecting world.

 

 

Wingman is that unusual track that not only lives up to the title, but the expectation connected to the artist in question. Regensburg has created a track that is part banger, part life lesson. Anyone who has ever had the unfortunate experience of being a wingman knows it’s a horribly degrading and single serving feeling. Luckily Regensburg fills the vocals with pathos, rather than depression.

 

 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular readers, but Wingman was released through those beat maniac’s Activia Benz as part of their ridiculous ilovesingles.club. Yet again they’ve made the right choice with adding Regensburg to their roster of the best established and up and coming producers in the world today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kwake Bass proves why he’s the one of the hottest drummers in the world with his debut mixtape

 

 

When Kwake Bass released this mixtape a few weeks ago I umm-ed and arr-ed whether to write about it, but I decided that I needed more time to digest it. After playing it on a semi constant basis since then, now feels like the perfect time. One of the factors for this change of heart is that he was part of Kate Tempest’s band when she recorded the exquisite Brand New Ancients album and was part of her live band for the Everybody Down tour. “But those albums came out in 2014 and the tour finished last year mate!” I can hear you say “Why bring that up now?” Well, dear reader, the answer is simple. Tempest’s debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses has just been published, and it tells the complete Everybody Down story. Imagine that the Everybody Down album is the trailer for The Bricks That Built The Houses. The main characters are introduced and we get the idea of the story, but the allegory’s and themes haven’t been full explained. Sorry, I got carried away, this isn’t about Tempest, its about Kwake Bass!

 

 

The KwAke BaSs MiXtApE is twenty six minutes of some of the tightest drumming you’ve heard for a long time, and this is juxtaposed with loose electronic experimentation and sublime sampled loops. Opening with a self-referential tag “Kwake!”, that also pop’s up again and again throughout the MiXtApE. This helps sections and suites seamlessly blend into each other and gives the piece a cohesive feel. There is a slightly surreal and lurid vibe too. But unlike a lot of surrealism, the KwAke BaSs MiXtApE is grounded in the real world thanks to the beats, thus heightening its lurid feel and separating himself from his peers. Throughout the mixtape there are vocal samples from tracks that are clearly close to Bass’ heart. Dub roasts sit comfortable on top of ethereal siren-esque wailing vocals. It shouldn’t work, but it does, perfectly. Samples from 90’s video games are also thrown into the mix with wild abandon. Street Fighter II’s iconic “Yoga Flame” shout crests hard hitting beats and delicate piano riffs, to create something that is familiar, yet totally new and forward thinking at the same time.

 

 

What KwAke BaSs MiXtApE shows is that Bass does not only have the skills to pay the bills through his drumming, but he also has the scope and vision needed to create vast sprawling soundscapes. Let’s at least another hope for another MiXtApE soon, but also that proper long player is in the pipeline, as Bass is too gifted to leave us with this sole solo effort!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oliver Wilde returns with another giddy psych pop sit down classic!

 

 

Since 2014’s lusciously ambrosial Red Tide Opal in the Loose End Womb Oliver Wilde has been like a phantom haunting me musically. Everywhere I go and almost everything I listen to I can feel and hear him, permeating through the songs pores and drenching me in a cool psych pop spray. Thankfully Wilde has now returned with a glorious new song Bifida and it’s as if he’s never been away.

 

 

Bifida opens with a black and white laconic guitar strum before drums, bass and woozy guitars come streaming out of your speakers in technicolour. Hypnotic kaleidoscopic rhythms form tesseracts of sound that are both two and three dimensional at the same time. As Bifida meanders its giddy and whimsical way along you realise that Wilde is almost at the peak of his powers and everything he has released, thus far, has been sublime and majestic.

 

 

After a few listens, as always happens with Wilde, is you start to notice the lyrics more and more. At first it doesn’t really make much sense, but after repeat listens phrases and snatches of words drift by you like faces in a dream. Lyrics like “No now nights wise owls, build us in some meaning, Such eloquence, such a beautiful evening, The Keepsakes are leaving, so precious and just” and “But were cut from the recurring dreams, Where my demons drink kerosene, No body knows why they’ve fire to breathe, But you do well to return in one piece, Happy as can be” say so much, but give up none of Bifida’s hidden secrets and codes.

 

 

Rumour has it that album three will be released this year, after twelve months of touring and writing and rehearsing. If Bifida is anything to go by we are in for a treat as Wilde and co march on, following their own path, but leaving technicolour trails everywhere they go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RSD just got a bit more interesting thanks to the Velvet Hands

 

 

It’s getting near that time of year when music fans either love or loath. Record Store Day. I’m not going to get into the whole debate about it, but I will say these few things. Firstly what started as something to help indie labels shift some of their stock in a fun way, has been co-opted by the major labels. Instead of interesting split singles and missed albums having a day to shine we have list that is full of pointless re-issues and inane one offs. Saying that, if someone goes in and buys an Aerosmith re-issue and happens to pick up something from a small DIY, likes it and goes back the next week to buy something else, then isn’t that the whole point? Getting people who don’t normally venture into records buying and listening to records?

 

 

Right, that’s enough of the cynicism and naysaying. If you look through the RSD list you will find some releases that are worth getting excited about. One of these releases is by The Velvet Hands. Never heard of them? That doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that they are a quartet. And them coming from Cornwall means nothing either. All that really matters is that Trains is a fun slab of fuzzy indie pop, played for a sake of playing it, rather than to fulfil a recording obligation.

 

 

Yes it does scream turn of the century indie more than it does contemporary social commentary, but that’s fine as it’s a fun track and sometimes you just need a bit of fun in your life. The Velvet Hands’ career is ahead of them, and if they continue to release songs like this, they shouldn’t get derailed any time soon!

 

Trains is released April 16th through Easy Action Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t worry! DITZ are your new favourite band!

 

 

Remember these names Callum Francis, Anton Mocock, Caleb Remnant and Myles Waring. Individually this might not mean much, but collectively they are DITZ. DITZ are a new band from Brighton. They are so new, that until this week they hadn’t released anything. Thankfully this has now changed. Their debut single as we all know is named after the actor who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter saga, Rupert Grint.

 

 

Opening with a droney guitar that slowly mutates, through delay and feedback into a majestic and hypnotic riff. Form this point DITZ and Rupert Grint shift gear and really let rip. Francis’ vocals are somewhere between Mark E. Smith, Beck and Eddie Argos and underpins a lo-fi jangly Motorik Sonic Youth sounding monster of a track. Throughout its six minutes it skews and stutters all over the shop, like a Saturday drunk on the high street, but unlike the drunk it knows exactly what it’s doing and where it should be going.

 

 

If their debut opus is anything to go by, DITZ are definitely a band to keep your earballs on. Rumour has it that there is more of this in the pipeline, along with some live shows in the summer. I think we’ve all just found our new favourite band!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LA label Motion Ward preview new EP from Social Service

 

 

Motion Ward know what they like, and luckily for us they like techno. This isn’t blistering balls to the wall, necking pills like sweets, mind numbing 4/4 bassbeats, oh no, this is inventive techno what was created with the idea of the small room as well as home consumption in mind.

 

 

The producer in question is Social Service and what they offer up is a slice of forward thinking music, that shows how the genre can progress and change with the times. Yes the beat is classic techno, not as hard or fast as Paranoid London, but it’s every way as good. After a gentle build up Late Feeling peaks, but instead of ear melting tweets and 303 wails, it then slowly starts to wind down until its delightful fade out.

 

 

SS1 is being released on 15th May on limited edition 12” and download. The incentive for buying the vinyl, not just because it’s a record, is you get a custom lithograph insert. It has a slight Japanese vibe to it and would look awesome framed on a wall! What more could you want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Serene classical for a lazy Sunday!

 

 

Right, its Sunday night, its late and you’re hangover has just cleared. You’re far too awake for this time of night. There is only one solution, well two depending on if you have a cold. Firstly make some hot chocolate, and if you have some handy add some crème. This should start to make you feel more tired and ready for bed. Then put sit somewhere quietly and put on The Paper Boy EP by Breathing Waters and contemplate all the good stuff that’s happened this weekend. If nothing good has happened, then think about all the positive stuff that will/could happen next week. Once you’ve had your hot chocolate and listened this this EP a few times you should be ready for bed. If you are feeling ill then take a night nurse, as it’ll help you sleep and be fresh for work tomorrow.

 

 

What makes Breaking Waters The Paper Boy EP such a great is their ability to transport you to another place, frame of mind in seconds. After listening to Prelude of the Falling Leave (Main Theme) you could easily be walking through a tree lined boulevard in the autumn as red and amber leaves fall. The delicate piano feels like a soft breeze on your face as you wrap your scarf tighter round your next. Waltz With Me, is a brisk jaunt through moonlit liaisons on patios at parties. We’ve all been there, you go one way to get out of their way, they move same and before you know it you’ve got your own private waltz going on.

 

 

Junelight feature Grace Javier is the standout track on the EP, but its change of pace and genre, jumping form neo-classical or 1960’s lounge if a bit jarring, but the interplay of the vocals and composition makes this totally forgivable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Henrik the Artist and Activia Benz team up for new EP

 

 

Friends are the hardest things to find, but the easiest things to lose. That’s what I was told by an Uncle when I was a kid. At the time I didn’t agree with him and now, thirty years later I still don’t. One things I do argee with, however, is that I do like Henrick the Artist. Last year Henrik released Perfect Workout as part of Activia Benz’ ilovesingles.club series. It was a hyperreal journey into a surreal gym where the instructors are Chip and Dale, the music sounded like it was made out of steel drum samples, Haribo sweets, day-glo cyalume’s and a load Jagerbombs. Now Henrick has returned to Activia Benz with the Friendship EP.

 

 

Despite only lasting sixteen minutes there is plenty to engage with. The Prologue is a short sharp burst of epic trance. It is the perfect launch pad for the EP. My Friend Follows on the heels, desperately trying to catch Prologue in a game a tag, but never quite getting the required hit. Massive synths fill your ears and a feeling of euphoria, usually given to sporting events and sugar rushes sweeps over you. As the music builds you look to the sky and nod at passing clouds, this could be an effect of the sugar rush, but everything makes sense. When the beat and the panpipe sounding loop kicks in you wonder how Henrik can match this? Where is there to go? Fret not. Lose You take this blueprint and adds a seductive vocal to it. This combination works so well that you wonder why he didn’t employ it on My Friend? The Moment and Miss Me are as bouncy and ridiculous the previous tracks, but they are also filled with a level of musicality that makes them totally infections. Epilogue closes the EP, with a slightly melancholy and haunting vibe. This level of empathy shows that Henrik isn’t a one trick pony.

 

 

But this isn’t the best bit. You can either buy the download, or you can have the physical. Activia Benz have never been ones for conventional releases. Everybody remember Sega Bodega’s tracksuit from last year? This time they’ve released a double sided poster. One side is a picture of an oil painting of someone who looks a bit like Justin Bieber, and on the other side a collection of Henrik’s poetry. Sweet!

 

 

From the faux trance intro, Jerusalem-esque in places, The Friendship EP gets off on messing not only with your head, but body. Part of you wants to laugh, part of you wants to dance and part of you wants to go out with mates and get some KFC, while you blare this in at full volume so the bass shakes buildings into rubble. Then on the rubble you eat your bargain bucket watching the sun set with your ragtag band of bass, and chicken, loving friends.

 

 

The Friendship EP is out now on Activia Benz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Orielles and Art is Hard team up to release one of the most inventive 7” singles of not just 2016, but recent memory!

 

 

Siblings in bands is normally a good thing, it makes good copy, the inter band conflicts can be based in childhood issues rather than musical direction but for every Cribs, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. and White Stripes* you get a Spandau Ballet, New Kids on the Block and Oasis.

 

 

Luckily the Orielles are in the first camp. Consisting of two sisters Esme and Sid Hand-Halford and their mate Henry Wade, their music their music reminds you of then you were first getting into music and everything was a revelation. You liked the harmonies of the Beach Boys, the visceral noise of lo-fi indie, the melodies of Philip Glass and playfulness of pop music. On their new EP, Jobin, The Orielles have managed to cram if full of throwaway lyrics and melodies, but root it with a pop sensibility covered in reverbing guitars. Basically it hints to a great future.

 

 

The title track meanders it’s why into your psyche with catchy lyrics and a melodic rhythm section and a solo that gives you a smile. Twin Freaks, who doesn’t like a pun title?, follows on in the same vein, but there is an element of deep brooding and melancholy that shows you that the sisters Hand-Halford and Wade are capable of making you think as well as making you sway. Sliders closes the EP on a sombre surf riot grrrl vibe .

 

 

As Jobin is being released through those good people at Art is Hard, they aren’t content with giving you just the music, oh now. The flexi disc is green and housed in a colouring book. What better way to while away the hours than listening to this EP and relaxing with a bit of colouring.

 

 

While the Jobin EP isn’t perfect, its imperfections are incredibly enjoyable. And this is the point of the EP. The Orielles aren’t the finished article and Jobin is a work in progress. In a way it’s like a Rembrandt sketch or a David’s Tennis Court Oath. It is brilliant to listen to, and hints at what’s to come, but there is roughness to it that lets you know that the band are still growing and finding their feet. And this is the really exciting thing!

 

 

Jobin EP is out now on Art is Hard Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes they weren’t actually related, but you get the point

Brighton’s indie noise outfit The Emperors of Ice Cream emerge from their winter hibernation with new cassingle

 

 

Last year The Emperors of Ice Cream released a Double A-Side 7” and an EP. These releases were chocked full of clever biting lyrics and inventive musicality. Needless to say they were both on a heavy rotation at thisyearinmusic towers. Then, as a lot of bands do over winter, they went quiet. This level of public inactivity isn’t anything to get worried about, as it usually means the band is holed up in some studio/bedroom/lounge writing and rehearsing. Then as the clouds parted and the sun beamed down, there was a note from the band, “New EP out soon”. The digital version of this EP, titled This Thing, has now been released, a physical cassette, or cassingle will be released in June. Joy!

 

 

This Thing kicks off with (The Night((Just Gotta) Make It Through)). The pace is fast, jaunty, primal and raucous. Instead of the usual verse-chorus-verse pattern, TEOIC subvert it by having a continuous chorus interspersed with a few verses/variations. This is refreshing to hear, as it shows that TEOIC understand popular music and at the same time don’t care. Clever Caveman follows this similar pattern. The main vocals are “Clever Caveman, Banging the rocks together”. They are catchy and coupled with the music, again primal and raucous, it works well to create an image of the band on the beach performing interspersed with them bashing the rocks and pebbles together. It’s the stand out track on the EP.As this is a semi live recording, Clever Caveman then segues into Took a Taxi with a peel of feedback. The title suggests this is about getting a taxi, but this isn’t actually true. Like the subverting of musical templates, now they’ve named the song something it has nothing to do with. Here TEOIC revert to more standard song writing, well in a verse-chorus-verse kind of way. Musically they seem fixed on pushing everything to it’s more basic and elementary. Overloaded bass and drums, with distorted guitars screeching everywhere they can find a space to penetrate the dense rhythm section. Middle Ground closes the EP. On a first listen it sounds like an extended outro of Took a Taxi as there isn’t much variation between the two. This is the weakest song on the EP, and feels like an afterthought after they realised they only had three songs.

 

 

The main problem with This Thing is that its either brilliant or blasé. While the lyrics are catchy, they aren’t really anything much apart from making it through the night, our ancient relatives were clever and it can be fun to walk around drunk in foreign towns. Which is a shame, as TEOIC have our attention, why not say something? Clever Cavemen seems to be the perfect analogy for the band. The lyric “Clever Caveman, Banging the rocks together” sums it up perfectly. Through their sneering vocals and troglodyte rock, is the joke on them?  Are they the cavemen banging the rocks together or are we punchline as you’re sitting listening to it now? Whatever the answer is it will require more listens and ultimately isn’t that the point of this thing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Psychic Ills returns after a three year absence with new single and band

 

 

It’s been three years since the last Psychic Ills album. Shit! Has it really been three years? Wow! Anyway, time aside, One Track Mind was released in 2013 and since then they’ve toured, rested, jammed and toured, in various orders, but in June their fifth album Inner Journey Out will be released. The first track from this opus is I Don’t Mind, a lazy sunset tinged faux-country/faux psych ditty that features Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.

 

 

I Don’t Mind starts off with a slow guitar riff and builds the momentum until a luscious wurlitzer kicks in and, well, you’re floating away with the melody into the ether of burning sunset, then Tres Warren’s vocals kick in and you’re grounded to the spot, just swaying in the breeze. The highlight of the song isn’t the exquisite harmonies, precise drumming, meticulous bass, but the delightful slide guitar solo. When that antes up to its zenith its game over. All that’s left to do is smile, hold it and wait for the next one to replace it.

 

 

Inner Journey Out is released June 3rd on Sacred Bones

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Vangelis!

 

 

Today marks the 73rd birthday of Greek musical maverick and legend Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, or Vangelis as he’s known to the world. He first came to attention in the psych pop group Aphrodite’s Child in the late 1960’s. However by start of the 1970’s they had broken up and Vangelis was off on his solo musical odyssey.

 

 

Since then Vangelis has released over forty studio albums and soundtracks. Some of them like Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire and 1492: Conquest of Paradise have entered the world lexicon and are household names, whereas other albums like Mask, Oceanic, and Alexander have been sadly overlooked. Here are three more Vangelis releases that need to be re-evaluated and investigated.

 

 

Beaubourg (1978)

 

 

When Beaubourg was first released in 1978 is was considered to be a rash release to get out of a contract, Vangelis refuted this, and claimed it was as thought out as any of his previous albums. After you’ve gotten past the initial abrasiveness of Beaubourg you start to hear rhythmic patterns and melodies. The album is named after the area of Paris where Vangelis lived in the early 1970’s and was meant to reflect it music. For some reason this is the Vangelis album I have played the most over the years, and each time it yields more of its secrets. Yes its not easy listening and yes its abrasive and biting, but it’s never boring. Check out 1985’s Invisible Connections if this is your thing as it’s a slightly tamer and concise version of similar themes.

 

 

Soil Festivities (1984)

 

 

By 1984 Vangelis has pretty much done it all. He’d won an Oscar and had a worldwide smash hit with The Theme From Chariots of Fire. On his 1984 album Soil Festivities he decided to be inspired by nature. The album is made up of five movements, that run the gambit of minimal electronic, ambient, tonal blips and beeps and lavish sonic poems.  It is loosely connected to 1985’s Invisible Connections and Mask, and it is considered that this trilogy should be played back-to-back to get the whole idea of the piece.

 

 

The City (1990)

 

 

Back in 1978 Vangelis tried to create a concept album loosely based on an area of Paris by the Pompidou Centre. This album wasn’t well received and still divides fans, however by 1990 technology was better so it was easier to create vast soundscapes that were also listenable. Thus The City was born. Opening track Dawn kicks things off with a dawn chorus and the sound of a city waking up. From there is goes to afternoon in the business district Nerve Centre and the leisurely wind down after work with Good to See You before the day comes to a close with Red Lights and Procession. This is one of Vangelis’ most cohesive works. Yes at times it sounds a bit basic and contrived, but considering it was written and recorded in a hotel suite in Rome, you can still hear the ideas and themes bustling out of the speakers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leeds quartet Chaika show off their darker side on new track

 

 

If anyone thought psych was something that happened in past to people wearing paisley shirts with colours sunglasses bowl-cuts is mistaken. Over the last few years psych has made a dramatic return to stages and speakers throughout the country. The exact reason, like the original sound, isn’t quite known, but what is apparent is that the quality of music is very very high!

 

 

One band who are marking themselves apart from the pack is Leeds quartet Chaika. They’ve added a darker element to create something being branded as psych noir. If you like hypnotic riffs, pounding drums, throbbing bass and insightful lyrics, Chaika are for you! New song I Fall has all this and what’s more its lyrics aren’t straight forward either. “‘I Fall’ saw us writing about writing. From Philip Larkin to Charles Bukowski, the track charts the necessary enslavement of a writer to the craft; an experience which is one part ecstasy, one part terror. Abetted by the repetitive march of instrumentation, it’s a matter of stoic commitment.” Lead singer Joe Evans recently said.

 

 

From the opening cyclones of guitar slowly spin around you while a driving rhythm section propels I Fall in a slow moving path of destruction. But this isn’t just another psych track, oh no, there are elements of Post-Punk, Krautrock and Motorik here too that keep things fresh, while you fall on your knees in a jibbering heap and hope it never ends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kcus Uoy teams up with Amajin Records to continue their mission statement of forward thinking instrumental music

 

 

It’s Easter Bank Holiday, the night is drawing in. You’re in a food coma because you’ve eaten too many Easter Eggs and hot crossed buns, but don’t worry your musical answer is at hand!

 

 

₭ ₡ V $ V ∅ ¥, KCVSVOY or Kcus Uoy, in all fairness I don’t really care how it’s pronounced or written, as the music speaks for itself. It’s a mixture of Hip-Hop, Trap, Gothic Electronic whilst never committing 100% to any of them, yet sounding like all of them at once.

 

 

Self Seen Mine is the standout track on the album. Opening with eerie vocals and a deep bassline that, if played loud enough, could do more damage than the San Andreas Fault! This is a mixture of everything dark and sinister, bouncy and vibrant, bassy and extreme, eerie and atmospheric and totally listenable. The rest of the album is chocked full of inventive forwarding thinking productions and insightful concepts.

 

 

KCVSVOY is a name that needs to be watched, because like his music cannot be ignored!

 

 

KCVSVOY is out now on Amajin Records.

 

 

 

 

 

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Drone Vaporwave done the Canadian way!

 

 

Some people have argued that the more you are told, the less enjoyment it brings, as its better to work things out for yourself. While I kind of agree with this, when the release is a concept album this came make for a more fulfilling experience. Take the latest DESPAIR release ESCAPE. The press release says “THE YEAR IS 2997, MEGA-CORPORATIONS HAVE BECOME THE LAW. SHAPING THE RULES TO THEIR WILL. LIFE HAS BECOME EXCRUCIATING, FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NO MORE. PEOPLE ARE NO LONGER TREATED AS PEOPLE BUT AS WORKERS. ONE DAY, A CERTAIN WORKER BROKE AWAY FROM HIS FORCED ROUTINE AND FOUND A MYSTERIOUS PATH. THIS WAS HIS CHANCE. THIS WAS HIS WILL. THIS WAS HIS ESCAPE.”

 

 

After reading that images from Orwell, Huxley, London, Zamyatin, Ballard and Max Headroom dance through your brain. It’s a bleak future, but it’s one that isn’t a million miles from where we are now. Musically EASAPCE is as dark and bleak as the description suggests, but there is also an element of humour too. After the short intro track HELL, the rest of the album is a broody, somewhat disjointed affair at times that takes ‘borrows’ and ‘samples’ heavily from contemporary pop music. Imagine of Marcel Duchamp was alive now and making music. There is a readymade quality to it, but like Duchamp twisting the meaning through subverting the objects original meaning, these samples have been twisted, skewed, sped up and slowed down until you can’t even work out what they are.

 

 

The second track LIES sums this up perfectly. LIES is fundamentally a re-working a Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean. From the chopped up beats, diffused bass and zombie like vocals it’s like something that would be the number one record in the Black Lodge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Air Max’97 just joined one of the most elusive and forward thinking groups of producers going!

 

 

The phrase “A picture says a thousand words” is true. When I look at the art work for Air Max ‘97’s new single FD1 I just hear “THIS IS GONNA BE AMAZING!” two hundred times. Before we get into why this is an amazing cover lest just dissect its elements a first. Straight away your eye is drawn to the explosion. What’s caused it? Was it a freak natural occurrence, or did something plan it under the rock porous rock that is now about to enter the stratosphere? Next we notice the black and yellow hoop. This brings perspective and scale into the mix. Like how big is that thing? Is it croquet sized, or like the Wembley arch? Does that mean the rock is actually just a big bit of dirt or is this a meteor sized chunk? Our eye is then drawn to the mushroom. This is the mysterious instigator of the initial explosion or just a harmless bystander, and what at the other mushrooms doing? Has one thrown itself on the other to protect it, or is there a slightly ruder answer to their embrace? Then lastly we see the rock in front of the hoop and why is it wearing a shining green medallion? The answers to all these questions will sadly never be answered, but one thing is for sure, this is my favourite Activa Benz cover to date!

 

 

As the artwork is an introduction to the track itself FD1 more than lives up to it. In fact once you’ve played it a few times it all starts to make sense. The minimal techno leanings that kicks everything off plays into the dark starkness of the back ground. The stuttering, glitching nature could be rock blasting off in slow motion. By the half way mark you think you’ve got FD1 all worked out. It’s a masterclass in minimal production. Then, as your eye is drawn to medallion, a haunting repetitive loop enters the mix and things start to get a bit Philip Glass/Terry Riley. FD1 has mutated into something that wasn’t expected from its minimal salvo. The outro is a thig of beauty and its only flaw is that it isn’t longer, but better to keep us wanting more than be bored right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CΔT flexes more than his musical muscles on new double A-Side single

 

 

The only problem with CΔT’s new double A-Side single PORCELAIN GOD // STUCK is that it isn’t autumn. This would be perfect to play as you’re walking home from work, just after the gloaming has kicked in. The smell of bonfires and car exhausts fills the air and every pub and restaurant is steamed up and looks like the warmest and most inviting place ever. It’s cold so you pull your jacket closer to you and turn your collar up, but the cold still gets in. When you get in turn on the heating, but the pilot light has gone out so you’re forced to either brave it in the cold until bedtime or put n layer after layer until you warm up. As you pull the curtains you can look into your neighbour’s houses. They’re settling down watch the TV after their evening meal, while your only entertainment is reading a book of collective Arthur Machen stories. Eventually you decide to go to bed and drift off into a warming sleep, but you are woken during the night but a bush scratching at the window. When you wake up, you realise that the boiler came on in the night and the house is too hot now, and when you leave for work, the outside world seems even colder and less caring than usual.

 

 

Or you can take PORCELAIN GOD // STUCK for what they are. Five minutes of dark Forward thinking dance music that skirts Hip-Hop, darkwave, witch house, Avant-Garde electro and minimal techno. PORCELAIN GOD starts with a heavy menacing beat while bass blips and eerie synths fly and flay around us like a maelstrom of banshees. Never actually touching us, but definitely doing their best to freak us out. STUCK on the other hand opens with tonal synth that has the density of fog. After a quarter of the song gone, the first tangible beat kicks in, but its fleeting. This is a track that is definitely all about texture and tone, and STUCK is all the better for it!

 

 

 

 

 

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All The Fiends songs are for friends, freaks, girls, and geeks

 

 

In a world super producers, million pound studios, excessive overdubs and auto-tune it’s refreshing to hear bands that don’t really care about any of that. One of these bands is Indiana’s The Fiends. On their latest EP Animal Boys they’ve done away with the lot and what we’re left with is four tracks that are made for the hell of it, with no other purpose than to entertain themselves and hopefully their friends. It’s all pretty primitive and derivative, but that’s the point!

 

 

Stand out track Bathing opens with a wail of feedback and blistering drumming, thanks to Spencer Hartford. Then a distorted guitar comes in with a fairly decent ‘punk’ chord progression. At times it feels like everything is going to fall over and Alex Beckman is playing to his limits on guitar playing, but somehow, miraculously it doesn’t and what’s more it sounds pretty good. The rest of the EP is more laidback and melodic. Closing track Cliff is as monumental as the title suggests. Granite sounding guitar riffs throb through the speakers. Monotone vocals bounce off this and give everything a melancholic vibe. This is Much Better features The Fiends searching for answers, but like the rest of us, coming up with more questions each time.

 

 

If you are looking to the answers to life, the universe and everything this probably isn’t the EP for you. However if you want to hear four songs, in which three guys try and make sense of the seemingly random events in their lives that have lead them to this moment, whilst never making any clear or definite conclusions then this is for you!

 

 

 

 

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The South’s premier New-Gazers the Death of Pop return with the first offering of a slew of releases!

 

 

After a busy 2015 gigging here, there and everywhere, putting out the Runts compilation, Gardens 7” on Too Pure and being playing on Made in Chelsea, The Death of Pop have started 2016 slowly. Apart from some celebratory gigs, most notably at Brighton’s Green Door Store, the only news from TDoP camp was the signing of Richard Dent in the January transfer window. But it appears that this bit of deadline day dealing has started to pay off as new song Locomotive is one of the most immediate and catchy songs in TDoP’s arsenal.

 

 

Opening a monotonous guitar, the song then explodes with a barrage of riffs, crisp drumming and Dent’s trademark pendulant bass. The chorus is a call and response affair between the vocals and guitars. This juxtaposition counterpointed by the nature beat helps to conjure up more images of moving and trains. As usual the lyrics has a melancholy sheen to them. What’s wrong with these boys? They write amazing songs and look like the Peddlers on stage. You almost want to give them a hug and a pint, but with songs this good, I’m happy for them to wallow in existential angst!

 

 

Locomotive is the sound of a band who know what they are doing and where they are going. It also sounds like they’re coming in to their own where everything they release is gold. Long may this continue! Rumour has it that there is more in the pipeline this year. If this is the quality so far 2016 will be a very good vintage!

 

 

During the song the lyrics “You are right, I’m always wrong” is sung. In this case I’m going to have to argue with you there TDoP, this far from wrong, in fact it’s pretty damn right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Theater 1 continues the /12 series. We’re almost at the end people!

 

 

“Whooop, Whooooop, Whoooooooop” is how Thomas, by Japanese Juke and Footwork producer Theater 1, starts. Subtle synths and glitchy noise are the order of the day until the glitch turns into the beat. This isn’t for the main room, and that’s what makes it such a clever production. Just when you think you’ve got it worked out Theater 1 skews things slightly and Thomas is off in an entirely different direction. Just take the final quarter. From the opening that was not predicted!

 

 

As the title of the single suggests this is the ninth release out of twelve. Since July 2015 the previous eight releases have shown a pretty liberal use of bass, tweeters and an almost total disregard for conventional production technique! Let’s hope that Theater 1 finishes the project this year as this is something that needs to be heard in full, rather than as select singles, only when you play all the tracks together does its overall theme make sense. Motifs come and go, slightly changed, but recognisable. Thanks to their being altered the meaning is slightly different and their impact is different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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K.Flay returns with new single and hopefully a new album to boot!

 

 

K.Flay has it. She’s always had it and she has it in droves. Her music fits nicely between R&B pop, indie dance and laid back hip-hop. Her productions are masterclasses in wonky synths and crisp beats. The juxtaposition between them is what set her apart from her peers.

 

 

In 2014 Flay released her official ‘debut’ album Life as a Dog. It was forty five minutes of absorbing productions and social commentary laced lyrics. Since then she’s gone a bit quiet, release wise, but she has now returned. New single FML starts with woozy synth sways until a Flay’s laconic vocals kicks in. The chorus, as with most of Flay’s tracks, is a monumental exercise catchy lyrics and glorious production. At three and a half minutes long it passes fairly quickly, but it doesn’t get boring with repeat listens, far from it, the more you play it the more secrets it yields. The only real downside with FML is the lyrics. Flay’s has never been the greatest lyricists, and it’s her production that is the main event here. At times the lyrics get in the way of the subtle production flourishes she effortlessly uses to create emotionly and passionate soundscapes of captivating, forward thinking music.

 

 

Will FML be part of a bigger body of work or a stand along single, we’ll have to wait and see, but either way it’s great to hear K.Flay doing what she does best. As yet she’s never released the album that she hinted at with her early promise, but let’s hope she drops her magnum opus sooner than later!

 

 

FML is out now on Bummer Picnic Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Outblinker return with new EP ahead of album release later in the year

 

 

Sometimes you stumble upon a band, and sometimes a band stumbles upon you. I remember sitting in my lounge last year checking my emails. One was simply titled “Outblinker-Pink”. On one hand it could be taken as ominous and on the other hand non-descript. I opened the email, read the short press release and then opened the link. The next few hours were a blur, but all I remember is Pink and Blue soundtracked it. After the first listen I had bought the 10”. My original review of that single never ran where it was meant to, but I didn’t mind as I had a new favourite band.

 

 

It’s about a year later now and I’m again in my lounge, but in a different city, and while checking my emails I saw one that my eye was immediately drawn to “Outblinker-The Remains of Walter Peck EP”. I opened it and pressed play. Instantaneously the room was filled with a wash of noise, swaths of layered synths, vibrant drums and crashing guitars. The second track Farrokh Bulsara jumped out at me and I found it hard to fend it off, and eventually I was overpowered by not only its power, and hidden strength, but by its sheer relentlessness and over the top sound. But considering that it’s named after one of the most flamboyant and powerful singers of the past thirty years it’s not really a surprise is it?

 

 

The Remains of Walter Peck EP is out for pre-order now, click on the link below, as this bunch of sonic assassins have written three songs that are pulsating to get out of internet and on to your turntable. But the ultimate question is, would Farrokh Bulsara be happy that his name was being used to title something so visceral and atonal? Probably. Let’s hope he’d also be jealous that he never looked outside of the music he made to create something so free and without boundaries, for that is what Outblinker have done. Can’t wait for to see what they do next!

 

 

The Remains of Walter Peck is released May 6th through Stabbed in the Back Records

 

 

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Mr. Yote proves that Horror Core is alive and well in 2016

 

 

Where to being with the latest offering from Mr. Yote? Firstly its chocked full of the infectious beats, freaky bass wobbles and inspired loops that has made him the toast Sacramento and the world. Secondly it features some of the most fuzzed out lyrics this year. Yote can’t take all the credit for this, he’s joined with long-time collaborator Yungeth Dre. If you were a fan of their 2014 Frank & Stein EP, then this will be right up your street. In fact Rather Rowdy Regiment eclipse that EP in places.

 

 

Opening with woozy bass, Addams Family finger clicks and faux Oogie Boogie vocals, Rather Rowdy Regiment gets off to a rather impressive Horror Core gait. Then everything goes 3-D with layers of synths, loops and eerie hooks not only jostling for our attention, but teaming up to create something that bounces and entertains. Yote’s and Dre’s vocals get more and more impassioned and spectral until they reach their other-worldly zenith around two minute mark, then the outro kicks in and everything start to wind down in to a blissed out, ghost house finale.

 

 

Yote uses sound like Rembrandt and Turner used paints. They didn’t just use it for colour and detail. Oh no, they slathered it on and used finger nails, brushes and their bare hands to move smear and gouge it into what they saw in their minds eye. Mr. Yote does the same. He uses sound not to create something pleasurable, which Rather Rowdy Regiment is, but it is a heavily layered, flaked and laminated until you can almost see the music emanating from the speakers. Given that Yote has already released the exquisite Terrible Tales of Scurvy Jones last month and his track record for out there concept albums and his semi-prolific output it’s safe to say this isn’t the last thing we’ll hear from him this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ra flexes his instrumental muscles on new EP

 

 

In Hip-Hop there are two schools of thought. Actually there are probably more, but for now let’s keep things simple. One school is that the rapper/MC is the most important and the other is that the producer/beat maker is. Personally I’ve always listened to the music first and the lyrics second. Don’t get me wrong I love a good lyricist. Slick Rick’s Mistakes of a Woman in Love With Other Men was one of the first songs that I heard as an impressionable youth and his skill of not only storytelling, but of dissecting a moment so that you were able to tell what the wall paper was like impressed the pre-teen me. But songs like Snoop Doddy Dogg-Pump Pump, Public Enemy-Shut Em’ Down, Resident Alien-Ooh the Dew Doo Man and Method Man-Tical drew me in with the music first.

 

 

Things have changed a lot since my childhood, but somethings haven’t. Good beats are always good beats. One of the best beat makers was the late J Dilla. His solo work and productions for others were flawless and sublime. Sadly since his passing many have come close to taking his empty throne, but no one has. One producer who is making the right noises is Ra, and his EP Slow in the Fast Lane.

 

 

Consisting of only seven song and lasting sixteen minutes, Slow in the Fast Lane showcases Ra’s deft production and an ear not only for melody, but for what’s currently going on in Hip-Hop. Kambu Chill kicks things off with a slight RZA vibe. In under two minutes it does the job of whetting your appetite for the rest of the EP, without laying down a gauntlet that can’t be followed up, or bettered. But it’s on Lil’ Showty where things get ramped up a notch. A slow jazz sample is the lynch pin to the whole thing. Through its lazy and hazy horns and piano you are transported back to a speakeasy, but the popping beats reminds you that you are alive in 2016 and anything is possible, musically speaking. Yes it does remind us of DJ Yoda’s How to Cut and Paste: Thirties Edition, but that’s not a bad thing?

 

 

Sweet Chick takes RZA’s slow piano blueprint and updates it with slightly glitchy beats and synths. It’s this ability to understand what made something work and re-imagine for now that makes Ra and exciting talent. Feind’n jumps forward and adds vocals. This is great as there is a change to texture and tone. Feind’n is the hardest on the EP, which again shows that Ra can make beats laden with malice and aggression as well as Neo-Daisy age classics. Loves in Need closes the EP with a soul/gospel-esque vibe. Next to Lil Showty its one of the strongest tracks on the display. Its simple use of faders and vocal refrains mean that it easily gets stuck in your head!

 

 

Basically Slow in the Fast Lane is a show reel. On it Ra is showing what he can do. “You want something fast. Done. You want something fun. Done. You want something poignant. Done”. Despite its length, Slow in the Fast Lane is one of the most complete and concise releases of the year so far. Through subtle production and exquisite use of samples Ra takes us not only on a journey through his collective influences, but through Hip-Hop’s past and, hopefully, its future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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French Gothic Electronica form Bedtime Stories to make you pull the duvet up a little closer tonight

 

 

For the last two years a French producer called Bedtime Stories has been quietly making a trilogy of albums that falls into the Witch House spectrum. As his name suggests these aren’t bangers, but subtle slow burning pieces that fuse ethereal voices with slightly wonky prog synths, like Bristol’s Ocean Floor, but you know more Gothic. The perfect time to play Bedtime Stories is when the gloaming starts to turn into night and you’re curled up on the sofa reading something, possibly eerie. His latest offering is Universes, and like his previous three albums, Microcalpyse, Serenity, Thanatos, but things feel more lurid and free forming. Here is what Bedtime Stories said himself “Universe seen through human eyes looks like a dream, an endless expensive book of landscapes and possibilities, here pictured in an 11 track album”.

 

 

Possession kicks things off with woozy synths, wonky beats and steam like vocals. The main riff is catchy and the hypnotic loop works well to draw us in without realising. There is a slight nod to Baisl Kirchin’s the Abominable Dr. Phibes, but given Bedtime Stories iconography this makes sense. Ethereal Dreams Wendy/Walter Carlos’ Clockwork Orange theme. The bass is bouncy, but there is an underlying threat of malice. The lurid vocals float nicely above everything not getting in the way, but at the same time not letting us hear the subtle flourishes of bass and beats. Wandering touches on that thin line Scott Walker trod with his Tilt album. Falsetto vocals rub shoulders with dark and brooding music. There is a hint of violence, but the fuse wasn’t lit so it all crackles beneath the surface. Walker’s lyrics were the catalyst on his album, but this comes very close to equalling that exquisite album.

 

 

Glory is one of the more aggressive tracks one the album, as it is beat driven rather than vocal/synth. As the beat pushes Glory on and on wailing banshee like vocals do everything that can to ground it, while monumental synths swell, throb and pulsate all around it until its delirious outro. Rebirth closes the album with swells of layered operatic vocals and billowing synths. At the title suggests, it sounds like the transference from one being/dimension to another. The sound sounds so bright and clean that you feel you have to squint due to its brightness. Paradise closes the album. Like Possession it’s all woozy synths, wonky beats and steam like vocals. They bookend each other perfectly and make Universes feel like an infinite round that never ends.

 

 

Overall Universes sounds like Enigma covering Diva Plavalaguna’s song near the end of Luc Bessons’s the Fifth Element, while being produced by Venetian Snares and remixed by Angelo Badalamenti. But this is a lazy shorthand, there is far much more going on. At times it sounds like an audio representation of Arthur Machen’s Ornaments of Jade vignettes. Each track brings up a different feeling/emotion in you depending on your mood at the time. Some passages sound like the stuff of nightmares, but others feel like the soundtrack to your happiest moments ever. It’s this kind of juxtaposition and dichotomy that is exhilarating and sets Bedtime Stories apart from his Witch House peers. In all fairness this isn’t Witch House at all, it’s more like Gothic Electronica, but overall it doesn’t matter. When music sounds this universally good all that matters is pulling the duvet up a little closer and pressing play again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kelly Lee Owens looks set to release one of the albums of 2016!

 

 

In 2014 a little known artist released a song. The artist was Kelly Lee Owens and the song was called Lucid. Like the title states it was full of bright and pellucid beats coupled synths and keys that envelope you while the vocals keep the whole thing grounded. Then last year Owens released Uncertain. It showed that Lucid wasn’t a one off and she was capable of not only writing emotive music, but through captivating hushed, almost whispered vocals, she could pull you in like a siren.

 

 

Since then she’s been on a rollercoaster ride of touring and writing her debut album. The first fruits of creative period has been released. 1 of 3 is another dose of post-pop perfection. Owen’s time with Dan Avery and Ghost Culture appears to have paid off as the production is as tight as it is gauzy. Instead of opening to a crescendo of beats or delayed ridden synths, 1 of 3 starts with a synth which has the density of steam, but the impact of concrete! After a few seconds you are flawed not by its beauty, but by how much Owens has grown and progressed since Lucid. When the beat kicks in is starts subtle, and at first you don’t even reason it’s started, but as 1 of 3 slowly goes on it becomes louder and louder and by the end it’s the most integral part of the song. Again, vocally, Owens sounds Julee Cruise ethereal, ambient and devastating.

 

 

Given Owens previous singles and 1 of 3, her debut album looks set to be one of the stand out releases this year. Knowing what we do about Owens, it’s pretty safe to say that she will justify all the hype and press she’s got over the last few years and she won’t release anything she’s not happy with. Somehow thisyearinmusic was one of the first sites to pick up on this insanely talented and humbled artist. 1 of 3, 9 out of 10 more like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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