Sasha Siem pulls off one of the best gigs of the year, so far

 

 

What happens if you mix classically trained musicians, avant-garde leanings, a junkyard orchestra and a will to save the world? You get Sasha Siem. Last night at the Lexington, with her incredibly, scratch that, insanely talented band, she did all that, but more of that in a bit.

 

 

As with most gigs, I arrived early. This is down to have been brought up that it’s a crime to arrive anywhere on time, always early. While this has meant that in the past I have been a billy no mates waiting for gigs, films to start and friends to arrive, it does offer a few advantages. Namely you can get a good spot, and you might get to catch a few words with the bands. Only one of these was achieved last night. A got spot was secured.

 

At 8.30 the support band took to the stage. Last night’s support came from Richard Navarro, a duo from Kent. Richard Navarro played violin, keyboard and sung, sometimes all at the same time, he was accompanied by Nicholas Thruston on double bass. Their songs were a cross between Tim Minchin and Flight of the Conchords. They were filled with surreal imagery/content, but under pinned by melancholy. However it was the composition, and arrangement of the songs that really pulled you in. Navarro either started the song with accapella vocals or, through playing it like a ukulele, a violin riff. This was then looped through pedals and slowly the song was constructed before our eyes and ears. One of the standout songs was called Seabirds.

 

 

After 20-30 minutes Navarro and Thruston left the stage to thunderous applause. While they were impressive to watch live, I don’t know how well the songs would translate to an album. Yes it’s the same songs, but without watching Navarro construct them in front of you, it might lose a little something in translation.

 

 

Before Sasha Siem took to the stage her band were already there creating an ominous uproar of broody drums, aggressive percussion and a violin pouring out anxiety and unrest. When Siem took the stage it all stopped and the set began.

 

 

Opening track So Polite sounded nothing like it did on Siem’s original Gearbox EP. The acoustic instrumentation had been replaced by heavy, almost industrial drumming and percussion, and there was an extra bite in Siem’s voice. The lyric “We’re fine, we don’t mind. We’re all so polite because we want to be liked” sums up the song and her mood perfectly. In between the songs Siem was articulate and gave a brief insight either into the song, or her mood during its creation. Seamy-Side showed that not only does she possess a beautiful voice, but she is also a clever wordsmith. Opening lines “I don’t want another boy on my mind, but there’s another boy in my bed. I’ve made my bed, But I’ve unmade my mind, So now I better lie about it”.

 

 

Siem showed she wasn’t just a singer, as she played the cello during a stripped down version of Tug of War. It was one of the highlights of the show. Proof was another crowd favourite. The music swirled around her lilting rising vocals.

 

 

Seeing Sasha Siem live gives new meaning to her impressive debut album. The songs continually go one way and then jut another. It’s the musician’s job to try and keep them on track. Throughout the set, violinist Isla Mundell Perkins created maelstrom after maelstrom that matched Siem’s vocals in pitch and intensity.

 

Given the quality of not only her performance, her debut album, and the new songs showcased, Sahsa Siem won’t be playing in venues like the Lexington for long. I recommend you to check out this unique talent, before she’s playing larger venues with less crowd contact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indie disco pop quartet continue 2015 as they left 2014

 

 

Alphabetic make music that is retro cool. New single Human Too features eighties pop Hi-Hats and synths mix with Human League-esque call and response vocals. This isn’t a tribute act however there is plenty of indie disco to make this sound vibrant and contemporary. Human Too could easily have featured on the Drive soundtrack.

 

 

Last year Alphabetic released Good Lovers, this was four minutes of synth pop greatness, that suggested that “Friends don’t always make good lovers”. Whether this is true or not is debateable, but Alphabetic put forward an interesting case.

 

 

Rumour has it that an album is in the pipeline for later this year, produced by man of the moment Toby McLaren. It looks set to showcase their retro pop sound that has a dance sensibility. Next month you can catch them at the Great Escape. This looks like a gig you can’t afford to miss!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jazz group loses a member, changes name and sound, otherwise business as usual

 

 

In the four years since their last album, the Portico Quartet, have not only change musically, but in the personal department too. After the departure of Keir Vine, the rest of the group decided not to replace him, but to carry on as a trio.

 

 

Their new album Portico is a slick 38 minutes, that sojourners in to more poppy territory than on their previous albums. This in part is down to the vocal collaborators. Folk Rock singer Jono McCleary takes the lion’s share of vocal duties. His haunting vocals fit perfectly with the glitchy electronica Portico serve up. Alt-J’s Joe Newman make three appearances on singles 101, Atacama and Brittle. There is a dreamlike quality to these track, which is unlike anything Portico have released before. The album closes with Jamie Woon’s contribution. This is collaboration mixes Portico and Woon’s styles so perfectly, it’s hard to see where one stops and the other starts. And it closes the album perfectly.

 

 

 

The obvious difference between Portico and their previous three albums, apart from no longer being a Quartet, is that the jazz elements have been toned down/removed, and their electronica tendencies have been ramped up. Fans of their original albums might be put off by this slight change. Luckily, however, the music is just as fresh and exciting as when they were a quartet. The other noticeable difference is the amount of guest vocalists. In the past Portico Quartet tracks were predominantly instrumental. While McCleary, Newman and Woon do an excellent job, it does feel that what who they’re really looking for is past member Nick Mulvey’s vocals. While the idea of re-joining his old band, his inclusion in the future could really make an interesting addition, to this every changing band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Sunday’s are made of

 

 

Earlier this week, I was asked to suggest jazz albums, for someone who wasn’t really into jazz. After a few subtle questions, a bit of a think and a look through the albums I have, a list was compiled and sent off. As jazz was on my mind, I decided to listen to some albums. One of the albums I had suggested was the soundtrack to Woody Allen’s tour de force Manhattan. The standout moment of not only the score, but the film is the opening, when Allen is describing New York, with George Gershwin’s bombastic Rhapsody in Blue blaring in the background. At the time I wasn’t in the mood for music of this kind and opted for something along the lines of Miles Davis’ insanely addictive On the Corner and some ‘werid’ jazz comps. Now I am definitely in the mood. I am relaxed, but I want something more than background music. The only questions is, do I turn the record over, and what to contemplate while it’s on…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Death Grips release final album, mission accomplished

 

 

So the wait is finally over. Death Grips, as is their custom, leaked their latest album Jenny Death. This is the second part, of one of the most eagerly awaited albums in recent years, to The Powers that Be. The first part was last year Niggas on the Moon. The album that was made entirely from Björk songs samples. While it wasn’t as intense as previous Death Grips albums, it still contained their trademark blistering production and scathing lyrical attacks on Western society.

 

 

Opening track I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States starts with what sounds like a manipulated fog horn, then MC Ride’s raspy shouts enter the mix and help to create a terrifying  wall of sound. Inanimate Sensation follows suit, sounding like a F1 car on acid, it lurches along until it’s shouty chorus kicks in. This is the sound the Prodigy have been promising, but failing to deliver of late. It has ravey bass undertones, but keeps its feet firmly in the pit. On GP has a classic rock vibe to it, with its 4/4 guitar riff, but instead of the MOR anthem you expect, Death Grips subvert it by turning it into an attack on the senses. Fianl track Death Grips 2.0 is a three minute glitchy instrumental that closes the album perfectly.

 

 

 

 

Jenny Death is an unrelenting attack on the senses. It’s the musical equlivant of drinking a bottle of Econa’s extra hot sauce. You sweat, feel uncomfortable, but ultimately feel like you’ve achieved something. After listening to Jenny Death, you know you’ve heard not just a brilliant unflinching album, but you’ve experienced a work of art.

 

 

This is a fitting end to a totally uncompromising and enigmatic band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Community returns for the mythical sixth series

 

 

Last night Community returned to our TV screens. After a few turbulent years, creator Dan Harmon getting fired, main characters Donald Glover, Chevy Chase and Yvette Nicole Brown all leaving. But after the first 25 minutes of opening episode Ladders, it appears to be business as usual. So what have we learnt from episode one and what can we hope for remainder of the series:

 

 

Montages are cool!

 

 

 

Community Montage

Community Montage

 

 

During Ladders there were plenty of montages. Out of all of them Abed’s (Danny Pundi) work one was the best! Oh and to complete a successful montage, you need to change your clothes a lot in one day.

 

 

 

Chang is back to is abstract best!

 

 

Communtity Chang

Communtity Chang

 

After a few series of not really knowing what to do with Ken Chang’s unhinged Ben Chang, they’ve finally realised that they best thing is not to have Chang do anything. All through Ladders he was going off on tangents and generally being ignored by the rest of the study group. While this is harsh, these situations bring out the best, or worst in Chang.

Jeff Winger might have met his match

 

 

 

 

New character Francesca ‘Frankie’ Dart might be the character to stop Jeff’s domination of the study group. In Ladders Frankie was hired as Chief Financial Officer and Efficiency Consultant. As she said “Drama and conflict are exciting and easy, making a difference can be pretty boring”. Through her no frills/no fuss attitude Jeff might have found a foil he can’t sweet talk to get what he wants.

 

 

Annie loves a fluffy binder

 

 

While Frankie has a no fills attitude when it comes to life, and binders, it appears Annie has gone all out with her new binder!

 

 

 

Ok it’s only been one episode and there is a long way to go until the season finale (rumoured to be another paintball episode!!!), it looks like the kinks of series four and five have been ironed out and its back to its best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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T-Dead are dead. Long live T-Dead

 

 

Yesterday this announcement rocked my world

 

 

Hello! So, this is a funny one. We’ve got a few more shows lined up, but at the end of May, T Dead are gonna stop being a band. Nothing bad or anything, we’re all best friends, it just feels a good time to stop. So we want to say thank you to everyone that’s helped us out over the last few years, for putting us on, doing cover art, putting our records out and coming to shows.

Catch us on these dates for the very last time!

April 3rd – Wales Goes Pop // Cardiff
May 16th – Brighton
May 30th – London

It’s been a blast! x

 

 

Tyrannosaurus Dead’s brand of lo-fi indie with poignant thought provoking lyrics made them one of the best new bands in the country. Their debut album Flying Ant Day was one of the highlights of last year, hell, Drowned in Sound gave it an unprecedented 9/10. Their live gigs were more than just shows. It brought like mined people together. People who were bored with all the posturing and slogan shouting choruses. It was a place it was ok to talk about your favourite authors as well as what is the best Sonic Youth album, while drinking and dancing. And this is why they will be missed.

 

 

But there is a sunny side. They never released a bad song and they end on a massive high. Who knows maybe they’ll become some cult band who years from now will re-from and release another outstanding album, you know, like the Pop Group or Linda Perhacs.

 

 

Cheers T-Dead, it was a blast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Avant-Garde noise makers return with new album

 

 

Shit and Shine don’t make pop music. On their latest album 54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral they’ve have crafted 50 minutes of droney repetitive beats with wonky vocals that not only pushes the listeners boundaries but questions what is music? While this is quite a grandiose statement, and like all grandiose statements, there is an element of truth to it.

 

 

Since their inception in the mid-2000’s Shit and Shine ($&$) founder Craig Clouse has been able to mix garage rock with elements of drone, Krautrock and the Avant-Garde. At their heart they are a psychedelic band though. Their music shares more in common with Loud Reed’s much maligned Metal Machine Music, than Kaleidoscope’s Tangerine Dream. It is heavy, unrelenting but with surprisingly catchy moments.

 

 

What Shit and Shine do well is take the blueprint that Add N to (X) laid down, but push in a harder more abstract direction. This is evident on their latest album. Opening track Electric Pony 2 starts with a Surf\Burundi beat, but it is subverted by distorted vocals, fuzzed out guitars and glitch samples, for ten minutes. Second track C2-6 does the same thing, but it’s a far cleaner sound, and in places as close to pop as $&$ get. The rest of the album follows this pattern. The beats are constant for the duration of each track, everything else is added and removed for its greater good. On paper this album shouldn’t work. It’s collective influences and elements don’t mix Jazz, Space Rock, Aphex Twin electronica, Glam and Krautrock, but combined they create a captivating yet disarming maelstrom.

 

 

At times it’s the musical version of a rorshach test. Some people will hear noise and cacophony while others will hear catchy hooks. While this isn’t for everyone it is one of the most beguiling and strangely honest albums that has been released in a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grand Rapids troubadour looks set to make 2015 his break out year!

 

 

In recent years the art of the protest song has dwindled slightly. Gone are the days when Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ewan MacColl, Billy Bragg, Bob Marley, and Neil Young could effortlessly write a song about social injustice at the drop of hat. Tom Morello had a stab at it with this Night Watchman side project, but the results seemed flat. It’s not like all of the world’s problems have been solve, far from it, but there is a new voice out who is taking up this tradition of singing about what’s wrong in the hope it will change. Enter Michigan’s Cameron Blake.

 

 

Blake is a protest singer song writer in the purest form. He write from the perspective of the aggrieved and down trodden. Be that Israel and Palestine’s on going conflict, an Oil Boom, or living hand to mouth. He’s songs are full of social injustice and melancholy. But they is beauty there too. He’s written about his unborn daughter on Ultrasound, which is full of hope and love. The rapid fingerpicking in this song represents her quick heartbeat in the womb” Blake said about the song. Using only his voice and an acoustic guitar he channels Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake and James Yorkston, with the social commentary of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen Nebraska era.

 

 

All of this is evident on Blake’s last album, Alone on the World Stage. During its writing and recording he explains that there “was a huge learning curve playing solo and writing songs that can carry without added instrumentation, but it’s been an invigorating process that has forced me to become even more critical of my writing and playing” When questioned about what influenced Alone on the World Stage, Blake answered “Many artists have inspired the project from Nick Drake to Japanese Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno and Danish filmmaker Carl Dryer.”
 

Later this month Blake releases his third album. It’s shaping up to be another solid release from Grand Rapid’s folk troubadour. When questioned about the song writing process he replied “Every night before I wrote I had a mantra I would repeat to myself: You have everything you need to write a great song- a brain, a heart and a pencil.” With inner belief like and heart felt poignant songs, it’s hard to see how 2015 shouldn’t be Blake’s breakout year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I thought today would be a simple piece about Mother’s Day. I thought I’d found a good song, that summed it all up nicely.However after doing some digging I found something far more interesting.

 

 

The story of AFS’ Mother’s Day, isn’t so much a story of a song, but about its creator. Mother’s Day begun life when one of AFS’ (AKA Adham Fisher) friends bought an black audio cassette at a jumble sale in Winnipeg. Far from being blank it contained an audio letter that a man, and father, had sent to his children about not sending their mother a Mother’s Day card/present. The friend passed it on to Fisher, possibly because he thought he’d find it amusing. Fisher not only found it amusing he decided to create a whole song around it.

 

 

The song itself is a slow burning dance track. It’s repetitive bassline, synth loop and beat match perfectly with unknown father’s lambasting of his children. As the bollocking gets more intense, so does the music. When it finally ends you feel like he is talking to YOU. Eventually it was released on Atomicduster Records, after being mentioned in their Spotlight section. After its release it Mother’s Day was played by BBC DJ’s Tom Robinson, Huw Stephenson and Rob Da Bank. What makes the release even more remarkable is that the B-Side is another audio letter from the same father to his children apologising for his previous message as they did actually send a Mother’s Day card and present (it’s a reflector!?!) which Fisher also set to slightly folktronic music.

 

 

When I looked into Fisher in more detail I found out that he doesn’t just make music. He is a Guinness World Record Holder. He is the Co-holder (with 6 other Brits) of the NYC Rapid Transit Challenge, completing the task in 22 hours, 26 minutes and 2 seconds. He has also successfully managed to visit all of the London Underground stations in under 17 hours, that’s 270 stations.

 

 

To mark the 150th Anniversary of London Underground, he was part of a group that made a track that lists all 270 stations over a beat made with sounds recorded on the Underground.

 

 

 

 

Fisher has also made another track, under the name 1,000 Stations, that lists all of Paris’ subway stations to a jaunty beat.

 

 

 

 

What Fisher does next is anyone’s guess. He said in a recent interview “I’ve wanted to go from John O’Groats to Land’s End on local buses; maybe that could happen this year” Let’s hope it does, and he writes a song about it too. On these two tube tracks, and Mother’s Day, Fisher’s creativity makes even the most mundane activates, traveling the tube, seem exiting and an adventure. Who knows what he could make of a trip across the United Kingdom? I would love for Fisher to meet Nick Papadimitriou so the two of them could set some ‘deep topography’ to music. That would be a meeting I would love to witness!

 

 

Oh and before I forget, call your Mum before your Dad leaves a ranty message on your phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Newgazing relatives continue to spread their jangly message with new EP

 

 

I’ve thought this for a long time but YOOFS are the new Jesus and Mary Chain. While this might not be 100% percent apparent at a first, it does become clearer once you listen to it all back to back (which I heartily recommend). Like JaMC the band is predominantly made up of two brothers. Their debut We Used 2 Be Fun was a joyful noise. While it never reached the levels of feedback of Psychocandy, it is a fuzzed out lo-fi classic. Then cleaned up their act, well sound, on last year’s Something. Similar to the Jesus and Mary Chain’s second album Darklands they showed that they didn’t need feedback to write and record great songs. Now they are back with a new EP and sound. A happy medium seems to have been reached. While their guitars aren’t as clean as on Something, there is definitely more jangly pop than on We Used 2 be Fun.

 

 

Another Boring Day gets things moving nicely. Everything you need to know about it is here. Won’t You Tell Me has Indian influences, that show the Dent’s aren’t afraid to experiment for the sake of the song. Can’t Think (Anything Clever To Say) is all story we all know too well. But unlike those moments they articulate it perfectly in four minutes. Final track They Call It Fate brings the EP to a great end. Dreamy droney keyboards swirl around crisp guitars and hazy vocals. And it features Brighton’s Post-Heather too. What’s not to love?

 

 

Starting with Another Boring Day, this is anything but a boring EP. In fifteen minutes the family Dent serve up four tracks that continue their foray into Summery newgazing pop. Each track radiates sunshine and lethargy. After hearing the opening bars of each of these tracks I don’t want to do anything but sit and listen. Whether their next album will continue in this vein of song writing, we will find out soon enough, but if this EP is anything to go by their next album could be their Automatic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Notting Hill pubs starts farewell party in fitting style

 

 

Walking into a gig and hearing a band playing can mean either one of two things. Firstly you’re late and you might have missed your favorite song, or secondly you are early and it’s just the sound check. Luckily last night it was the latter. When I arrived at the Elgin in Notting Hill, the bands were just finishing their sound check. Phew! I got a pint of the black stuff and found a good place to perch. The gig in question was Du Bellows. I’d only seen them a few weeks earlier, but I was looking forward to this one as there was a hint of new songs. But first was the formality of the opening act.

 

 

The support came from Grace Moon and the Jaguar. For whatever reason the coming to the stage thirty minutes late. Having recently released their debut EP, this duo make music that conjures up the past. I don’t mean that they’re a cover band, far from it, although their cover of Have Love Will Travel does need to be seen live to do it justice. They take elements from the past and create something new. A hint of Paris in the 1920’s. A snatch of James Bond’s London in the early 1960’s, and a little bit of Angelo Badalamenti thrown in for fun. Add some jazz leanings coupled with some European suave and swagger and you have a winning combination. Their set’s highlight was Night River. Having only heard this through speakers before, seeing it performed live was a revelation. They captured the essence of the track, but due to playing live it’s phrasing and instrumentation took on a whole new vibe. When their set finished the crowd was left wanting more, hopefully it won’t be long before they’re on stage again.

 

 

 

 

After a short interval the headliners took the stage. In the short time since I’d last seen Du Bellows, a change had taken place. They seemed more confident. Maybe that was down to knowing they had new songs to play that people hadn’t heard before. Possibly it was due to a successful string of gigs, or even that they were still buzzing from being announced as Alabama 3’s support at upcoming shows. But they looked ready and hungry to play.

 

 

Opening track Tepid Water kicked things off nicely. When they finished the crowd showed their appreciation with a rousing applause. Next up was Otherside, another fan favourite. In parts of the crowd, loyal fans were singing along with the catchy verses and choruses. Silurian Woman was next to grace our ears, and like the two previous song, it received a fervent applause. The rest of the set was a blur of enjoyment, until the outro of Dry Flowers, when the realisation that it was all over swept over the crowd. A riotous applause greeted the band at the end of their blistering set.

 

 

There were new songs in the set. They had the same power and intensity of the old favourites, if one of them did sound reminiscent of Blueberry Hill, but that might have just been me. While it was great to see the new writing direction of the band, their inclusion did rob us of one of Du Bellow’s finest songs, Isa Du Bellow. But you can’t have everything right?

 

 

This wasn’t a standard performance though. Du Bellows had more bite than usual. They played like they had something to prove. Darley Mylan’s amp sounded like it had moments to live, gritty and visceral. Jade Williams was taking no prisoners with her husky sultry vocals. The rhythm section of TJ, Richard Leeds and David Watkinson were well oiled and a pleasure to watch.

 

 

The only down side to the gig was that the Elgin is stopping original live music. Yes they’ll still have cover bands, but that’s not really the same is it? That’s like telling he Marcus Wareing can only serve microwave meals in his restaurants or letting Alexis Sanchez only play football bootless. I’m sure that in time this original live music embargo will be lifted, but for now get down to the Elgin as much as you can before it’s gone. London. You have been notified!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australian electro pop trio hit new peak with new dark wave single

 

 

Australia has been going through a renaissance in recent years, musically speaking. Flume has been making waves in dance music circles. PVT has released some excellent albums for Warp Records. Sia has hit a creative peak. Iggy Azalea’s continued conquest to Pop Domination goes on almost unchallenged. 5 Seconds of Summer are giving One Direction a run for their money in the pop market. Tama Impala successfully merged psychedelic and indie pop together in a previously unimaginable way and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their best album in a decade with Push the Sky. Electronic Pop trio Crooked Colours are hoping to get in on this high water mark.

 

 

Currently being dubbed as one of the hottest electronic bands coming out of Australia, Crooked Colours make dark electronic dance music with a pop twist. New single Another Way continues the darker direction that last year’s Capricious laid the ground work for. This is achieved in two parts. Firstly the music is at a slightly slower tempo. It incorporates elements from dubstep/EDM, bass wobbles, 8-bit synth loops and hi-hat beats all make up the mix. Secondly in Phil Slabber Crooked Colours have a vocalist who transcends both dance and pop music. However it isn’t all doom and gloom. Slabber’s layered vocals help to create a tension and drama, they also contain the all-important hooks that get lodged in your brain. This combination makes Another Way a great slice of forward thinking pop.

 

 

This isn’t the last we’ll hear from Crooked Colours this year. Rumour has it that another single is set for release and they are currently working on their debut album. They are also on tour with fellow Australian’s San Cisco. The tour dates are here http://sancisco.com/blogs/tours they will also be playing a number of under 18 shows too. After this tour ends, in between recording, they will be going out on their own headline tour too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Swedish indiepop quintet mark 2015 as phase one in World Domination

 

 

Swaths of synth, feedback and piano wash over you. Euphoria fills builds and then BAM you’re brought back down to earth by a powerful, but emotional and tender vocal. This is exactly how debut single from Seaside Heights makes you feel.

 

 

Forming in 2012 in Gothenburg this indie pop quintet has taken the country by storm. Recently winning a poll of the most exciting unsigned act on P3 (think BBC Introducing and you’re close) they are gearing up to make 2015 a year to remember.

 

 

Sounding like a mixture of Bombay Bicycle Club, the Killers and the National their brand of indie pop is second to one. As the Sun is out what better way to spend your lunch or afternoon than listening to Turnover and thinking of a Summer filled with music like this.

 

 

Rumour has it that there is an album in the not too distant future. But before its release let’s revel in this four minute anthemic pop masterclass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A gauntlet has been laid down that Clint Eastwood would approve of

 

 

Who said guitar music is dead? Whoever it was hasn’t told Telegram. This guitar worrying London quartet has unleashed, on Speedy Wunderground, one of the finest pieces of guitar pop this year, in under three and a half minutes no less. And what’s more is bloody catchy too!

 

 

Telegram are no strangers Speedy Wunderground’s de facto leader Dan Carey, and number two Alexis Smith. In 2013 he produced their debut belter Follow. Inside Outside is rougher and raunchier compared to the polished Glam of Follow. Telegram’s guitars are more woozy and their riffs laconic. Imagine Roxy Music covering the New York Dolls covering the Velvet Underground in Berlin. Inside Outside also boasts catchy lyrics that match the music. “Satellites are rolling and I’m not joking” has been doing the round in my head since I first heard it.

 

 

The flipside is, as usual, a Cary dub version of the A-Side. Mr. Dan’s Inside Out Dub is exactly what it says on the tin, or label. Loads of echo and XXX. At times it sounds like Cary has been listening to Cristobal Tapia de Veer genius score for Channel Four’s Utopia. Shame there isn’t going to be a third series as this would be perfect for it!

 

 

Since their last slab of proto glam rock Telegram have toured and started on their eagerly awaited debut album. If Inside Outside is anything to go by it will well worth the hype this quartet have generated. As for detractors of guitar music, Telegram have shown that there are new bands out there that will continue to write and play live. And for their peers, match us if you can.

 

 

As for Speedy Wunderground, as Carey says “It’s still steering itself but we just keep discovering more and more things that we like. The Speedy family is getting bigger”. Considering the other releases on Speedy, this is a family that you wouldn’t to mess with! Musically speaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First release of the month from Bristol’s experimental pioneer

 

 

March is a busy month of Matt Williams. First the release of his MXLX alias’ new 7” single I Set in Motion a Course of Strings Over the Abyss and Let the Sonorities Bellow Forth in Dysphoric Jubilee, then a brief European tour, followed by another MXLX, this time the At Time Temple 12” and a new Fairhorns album Fuckup RUSH both at the end of the month. What’s more the quality never drops once.

 

 

Side one of I Set in Motion a Course of Strings Over the Abyss and Let the Sonorities Bellow Forth in Dysphoric Jubilee, MX, opens with Gregorian style chants, knives sharpening, the sound of escaping gas that would make David Lynch proud and drone synths. As the song progresses it’s hard to make out the different elements, but the intensity grows until the mist clears and the outro beings.

 

 

The second side continues where it’s counterpart left off, but it starts off ethereal and dreamlike, then as it progresses the music gets more and more manipulated, until the inevitable skews itself back into a chanting passage, via some freaky goblinesque vocals. The closing phrases of the track are all distorted by the escaping gas sound. This is what I think sleep paralysis sound like.

 

 

What Williams has successfully done here is create two five minute tracks of abstract music that, due to the nature of a 7” single work perfectly in isolation of each other. However if you have the digital version and play them back-to-back, you start to realise there is a method to this madness. Combined the completed ten minute track almost mirrors itself, from the position of the chanting, to its drone synths.

 

 

I Set in Motion a Course of Strings Over the Abyss and Let the Sonorities Bellow Forth in Dysphoric Jubilee, isn’t for the faint hearted, and at first it all seems to be at odds on purpose, but with repeat listens it begins to get more enjoyable and more importantly under your skin. As the Dali Lama once said “Nothing remains difficult once you get used to it” this is true of the I Set in Motion a Course of Strings Over the Abyss and Let the Sonorities Bellow Forth in Dysphoric Jubilee 7”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Folk duo’s debut album shows folk’s original traditions are alive and well

 

 

When listening to Dumb Supper, it’s hard to put an age on the recordings. You could easily guess somewhere between the mid 1960’s until the present day. When you find out that it was actually recorded in 2008 you start to admire the timelessness of the album. This is classic folk, but recorded in contemporary times.

 

 

They write and perform narrative based songs, full voiced sacred harp singing and sparse mountain banjo. Their music can be more minimal than other current folk groups, their less is more approach enhances their Anglo-American sounding music.

 

 

What really excites me about today’s track 1000 Years, is the interplay between voice and instrument. There is a wonderful harmony going. The guitar playing is also exquisite. Personally this is the stand out track on their debut album Dumb Supper. Compared to some other contemporary folk artists, Cath and Phil’s music is criminally ignored and should have a place in your collection and heart.

 

 

Cath and Phil Tyler are currently on tour and I’m looking forward to seeing them. Do yourself a favour and firstly get both of their albums and then secondly go and show your support if they play in your town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another paradoxical weekend

 

 

The last twenty four hours have been a slight juxtaposition. Last night (Friday 6th) I had the pleasure to watch AFC Bournemouth beat Fulham, at Fulham. This had a slightly pleasant feel to it. Firstly it was the first time I’d been to Craven Cottage. In nine years of living in London I am slightly ashamed at this, but I think my experience, and the result make up for this appalling statistic. The second reason was that over Christmas I went to the Boxing Day game, and good old Bomo beat Fulham 2-0. During this game Fulham had a bite to them and, at times, looked like inflicting serious damage to Bournemouth’s defence. Since then Fulham have sunk to just above relegation. Considering last season they were relegated from the Premier League, their current position shows how much is wrong with this once great club. The third and final reason why last night’s game was so satisfying was a few weeks ago I saw a good Brentford, and a bad referee deny Bournemouth any points in a miserable afternoon at Griffin Park.

 

 

Last night’s match started brightly. Fulham looked down but not out from the kick off. It wasn’t until the half hour mark that Bournemouth could make a dent in Fulham’s defence. Bret Pitman was the scorer and yes Pitness levels were raised. Seven minutes later Matt Ritchie made it 2-0. Then it was half time. The second half started brightly and just after an hour Bournemouth were 3-0 up. They were cruising. Then the inevitable happened. They got slack and complacent and Fulham got one back. 3-1. Fulham’s Fernando Amorebieta got sent off at 69 minutes for a rash challenge. The thought of a comeback was short lived as Ritchie scored again on 71 minutes. At this point Fulham’s fans, weary of a season which many had predicted promotion would be a formality, started to leave the ground. In droves. However the game was not over. Six minutes from time Steve Cook scored possibly the goal of the night. To make it 5-1. Being a humble and gracious fan the travelling away arm shouted “WE WANT SIX!” repeatedly until the fulltime whistle was blown. What a night to remember!!! What’s more Bournemouth were top of the league. They have scored more goals this season than any other team in Britain, and most of Europe.

 

 

After a night like that, how would you spend the following day? Reminiscing the events in their sepia tone? Staying slightly horizontal due to a slight hangover? Having a kick-a-bout in the park and trying to recreate the goals? Going to the local pub for a couple of pints in the glorious 17 degree Sun, then eating bread, cheese and an artisan porkpie? No, although they do sound great. Instead I took part in a march through central London with the Tibet Society, Free Tibet Students for a Free Tibet and Tibetan Community in Britain. It was to commemorate 56 years since the Tibetan National Uprising. The march took just over an hour to travel from Downing Street to Portland Place (just above Oxford Street). The end destination was the Chinese Embassy. As the weather was glorious it was a pleasant stroll through London waving banners and chanting call and response style protests. Like a lot of people of my age, the Tibetan problem was brought to our attention by the Beastie Boys. I remember reading a wonderful interview Adam “MCA” Yauch had with the Dali Lama. Then there were the Free Tibet concerts and albums. Sadly with MCA’s passing in 2012 one of the cause’s loudest voices was lost, but millions now know about Tibet’s plight and thousands have taken up this fight. As predicted the march went off without a hitch and everybody left feeling that they’d taken part in something important. Not bad for a Saturday morning eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Digital collaboration by Oregon maverick and Berlin resident man of the moment shows the beauty of the dark

 

 

What do you get is you cross abstract soundscapes and minimal techno? De/Re-Constructions. This isn’t some kind of Lynchain riddle, it is in fact the new album by Portland maverick Best Available Technology and Berlin based BNJMN.

 

 

De/Re-Constructions may only contain thirty three minutes, but those thirty three minutes were culled from a year’s worth of file sharing and emails. The album is a true collaboration, in the best meaning of the word. It’s almost impossible to know exactly where one artist starts and the other ends. The album’s manipulated samples, loops and beats were merge together to create a perfect soundtrack for either late night existentialism, tube journeys or those early morning teas after a night out.

 

 

Opening track Wired start off sounding like Pong, then slowly a glitch menace descends and it sounds like a John Carpenter film in the 1980’s. The tension builds until it ends like it started, with an 8-bit loop. Ghosting is where the album really starts to pick up. Repetitive beats, minimal bass, with a soundscape that sounds like it was made sleepwalking. 022 is the mission statement for the whole album. Through clever arrangement it slowly builds up peaks and troughs until an intense maelstrom is reached. Then it slowly winds down the tension, but not the intensity.

 

 

After the success of last year’s IV EP and Coil BNJMN has cemented his reputation as being one the brightest up and coming producers in dance music today. With the announcement of his new relase and new label BNJMN is definitely one to be watching as the year progresses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ethereal Post-Punk by the North East’s new hidden secret

 

 

The words ethereal and punk don’t normally go together. Ethereal normally goes with folk, pop and jazz. Newcastle’s Ilser don’t have a problem mixing styles to create something new. In fact, given the strength of their debut single, it appears they don’t have any problems doing anything.

 

 

Led By Silence is a masterclass in the quiet/loud formula. Opening with a delicate feedback, the kind that envelopes you. A pretty guitar chord progression carries this on until luscious vocals kick in. So far it’s all very nice, but a bit light and airy, then at one minute forty BAM a wall of drums and guitars fills the mix and things take a heavier turn. This sudden explosion of noise is very welcome. Sounding like Esben and the Witch covering early Smashing Pumpkins, the track continues along this pattern until it sadly ends. Forgotten Youth has a simpler structure. The whole track is based on a few chords. These chords are played again and again in a drone like mantra until its conclusion.

 

 

As the year is still young, let’s hope for more of the same from this trio. April and May sees them take to road for a trio of gigs. All sadly in the North East. After these two tracks I’m chomping at the bit to hear more, let’s hope we don’t have to wait long to hear this exciting channel their influences and experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Folk chanteuse’s pulls heartstrings and with latest EP

 

 

The beauty of folk music is that to be authentic it hasn’t had to change. All you really need is an acoustic instrument and a soaring voice. While music has progressed since Shirley Collins and Joan Baez, folk doesn’t need it to sound great. Some folktards think you need more. Luckily Cal Folger Day isn’t in this camp.

 

 

What Day does effortlessly is mixing elements of Beth Orton, Joanna Newsom and Linda Perhacs to create something new and heart breaking. On opening track Homez a Place her ethereal voice soars while the music swirls around her, enveloping her in scenes of nature, but you know, with witches. The track ends in a twee maelstrom. A maelstrom in a twee cup, if you will.

 

 

The Adornament EP is released by those good people at Reeks of Effort. This should be a real surprise as Day fits into their mission statement perfectly. While Day might not make the kind of racket that King of Cats, Trust Fund, T-Dead and Joanna Gruesome do, she does make music that has intensity and beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Concept DIY Dropout Pop never sounded this vital and fun!

 

 

Last September a new label came to my attention. While this isn’t anything out of the ordinary, it feels like I’m stumbling upon new labels daily, this one stuck a chord, and since then I’ve been hooked on 80N7. Like a lot of fledgling labels, 80N7 started putting out mixtapes. The difference here is that they were ACTUALLY tapes. These compilations showcased some of the best DIY artists out there, and gave them a home. The first was simply titles 80N7. It was twenty quality tracks by Hooton Tennis Club, Spring King, Diveliner and thisyearinmusic’s favourite DIY-ers King TV. This was followed up by a Captain Samuari EP. Another slice of Dropout Pop heaven.

 

 

In January 80N7 released a fifteen track compilation featuring Ringo Deathstarr, Jake Rollins and Duke York, to name three. It was mind blowingly good. Then an EP from Gleemer. Now they have released a full album by Jake Rollins. Rollins entered my periphery due to his inclusion on the 80N7 compilations. Once I heard an album was in the offing I got excited. Unlike a lot of musical excitements, this one paid off, and Spend A Few, Make A Few has been on constant repeat for most of the day.

 

 

Spend A Few, Make A Few has all the markings of a classic DIY album. It’s only thirty four minutes long, the eleven tracks never outstay their welcome, it’s catchy as hell, there’s plenty of fuzz/distortion, it tells a story and once it finishes you want to hear it again. I’m trying not to over play it, but it’s getting harder not to give it another listen.

 

 

Rumour has it that Rollins, and 80N7 have more up their DIY sleeves, and 2015 is shaping up to be their year! If you’ll forgive me I need to go and re-start this album as it’s just finished and I’m getting twitchy without its Rattle and Hiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australian quintet deliver on last year’s promises

 

 

Albert Camus once said “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of” while agree with this quote, in practice, today, in theory it has been proved wrong. Over the past few months I have been waiting and searching for an album. Sadly I couldn’t find it. That is until today. Today that album has been released. The album in question is the self-titled album by Money for Rope.

 

 

This Australian surf garage rock quintet has finally released their debut on Killing Moon. The good people at KM know a good thing when they see, or hear it, and this album is album is crammed full of them! Money for Rope has culled a loyal following wherever they play, and what’s more they’ve recorded an album that captures this. Blending catchy hooks, poignant lyrics with blistering guitars and throbbing bass this is the live experience, in the comfort of your lounge, desk or commute.

 

 

Opening track Common Man is a groove based romp, think Riders on the Storm played the house band in an indie disco on the outskirts of town. The punters sway and drink while the group ramps up tension through organs and Julian Mckenzie’s soaring vocals. On Been in the Wars Brendan West provided the perfect fuzzy growling bass for the rest of the band to drop in and out of. You’ll Be Gone and Misery Lane are both slow burning numbers that show off the band’s ability to craft sonic maelstroms but never blow their full wad.

It isn’t until Ten Times that the album really starts to get going. Appearing on last year New Moons II compilation, this track is everything I wrote about it then an more! Hang Em High starts slow and gets faster and faster until its break neck outro. The album closes perfectly with last year’s single Easy Way Out.

 

 

Money for Rope is an album of two sides. The first is a gently introduces you to the band. It shows you how good they are without ever putting their foot down. The second side, takes all this good work, but puts it foot to the floor shows you what they can REALLY do.

 

 

After playing the album its memory beguiles. You think you remember the tracks as they were, and their meanings sink in. However when you play it again reality intrudes and show that its nine tracks are clear and crisp the clarity if the lyrics focus’s your attention. What you thought they were about, aren’t. This is rare. Camus thought searching for happiness will never make you happy, but searching for the meaning of these tracks will, as it means you have to play this wonderful album again and again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the world Bob Dylan covers, here are some criminally missed ones

 

 

Every-since Bob Dylan released his album of Frank Sinatra covers, I have had Dylan on my mind. I started thinking about the best covers Dylan, i.e. the covers he has done. After a day in this mind frame, I decided to flip the coin. What are the best covers of Dylan songs? Once I had gone through the obvious ones, Jimi Hendrix-All Along the Watch Tower, Guns ‘n Roses-Knocking on Heaven’s Door and the bad ones Avril Lavigne-Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Then I got to thinking about all the interesting and somewhat missed covers of Bob Dylan. Here are nine that I thought summed up this brief!

 

 

Yo La Tengo-I Wanna Be Your Lover

 

 

Taken from the I’m Not There soundtrack, I Wanna Be Your Lover is a little like Todd Haynes’ film. At the time of recording, 1966, Bob Dylan didn’t know what to do with, or make of it. The track had more in common with his previous two albums Bringing it all Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited, than with his next album Blonde On Blonde. Starting life as a parody of the Beatles I Wanna Be Your Man. The track festered on a tape, in a vault until it was included on 1985’s compilation Biography. What Yo La Tengo effectively do is update its jaunty pace with lo-fi garage rock vibe, and Jagger-esque vocals.

 

 

Julie London-The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)

 

 

Another ‘lost’ track. Might Quinn first appeared on the much malgined album Self Portrait. Recorded when Dylan was questioning himself, both his past and future, many dismissed the album as throwaway, but it is chocked full of strong tracks, as Might Quinn shows. Julie London might not be the obvious choice to cover Dylan. However when you hear her version, you realise that she take a badly recorded jam track, into something beautiful and touching. Her soaring vocals really suit the arrangement perfectly. The tempo is slower, but through London’s almost languid vocals the track takes on another meaning. Dylan’s Quinn sounds like a furious warrior, whereas London’s sound tender, just and fair.

 

 

Wanda Jackson-Thunder on the Mountain

 

 

2006’s Modern Times was a turning point for Dylan. It showed that he was still capable to releasing exciting and vibrant music, instead of going through the motions. It’s inclusion in Wanda Jackson’s 2011 album the Party Ain’t Over makes sense. Jackson had something to prove. Backed by Jack White and friends Thunder on the Mountain starts at higher pace than the original and continues with its foot to the floor for the rest of the track. Jackson, and White, successfully take an upbeat Dylan number and turn it into a full blown rocker. With this playing, any party ain’t over!

 

 

Sebastian Cabot-Boots of Spanish Leather

 

 

This is a bit of an anomaly in the canon of Dylan covers. Actor Sebastian Cabot tackles the track as if it was a poem. His version is full of emotion that the original can only hint at. Cabot’s vocal delivery has more in common with a soliloquy than with a his original love lost ballad. What Cabot shows is that it was Dylan’s gift as a wordsmith and the rich imagery this gift gives, that makes his songs. It doesn’t matter how they are performed. If you get that emotional level correct, the song will speak to the listening.

 

 

The Dead Weather-New Pony

 

 

Jack White as never hidden his love of Bob Dylan. During the first White Stripes gigs, they covered often misunderstood and maligned Isis. A 7 minute behemoth, from 1976’s Desire, with no verses or chorus. On the White Stripes debut album they tackled One More Cup of Coffee, also from Desire. So it was no real surprise when he included New Pony on the Dead Weather 2009 debut Horehound. New Pony originally appeared on 1978’s Street Legal. The original is slightly pedestrian. It doesn’t really go anywhere and the backup singers and sax solo add little to the song. However in the hands of the Dead Weather, and Alison Mosshart’s banshee like vocals, make the song sound meancing, contemporary and vital.

 

William Shatner-Mr. Tambourine Man

 

Just as Sabastian Cabot was an anomaly, as it William Shatner’s cover of Mr. Tambourine Man. While Cabot found the essence of the song through its words and arrangement, it seems that Shatner is found something else. From the opening farcical flute intro to the bubble gum pop production, tabla rhythms, soul backing vocals and Shatners vocal delivery, this is all about fun.

 

 

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-Wanted Man

 

 

Just like Jack White, Nick Cave is a big Dylan fan. Over the year he has tackled at least 6 Dylan covers. On his second album, the Firstborn Is Dead, he covered Wanted Man. While this is a track Dylan wrote with Johnny Cash, Dylan’s presence can be felt in its pours. What Cave brings to this track, is a menacing undercurrent until the maelstrom reaches its peak at the end. Cave totally changes this from the original, and makes it his own.

 

 

The Walker Brothers-Love Minus Zero

 

 

Love Minus Zero/No Limit originally appeared on Dylan’s fifth album Bringing it All Back Home in 1965. 11 months later it appeared on the Walker Brothers debut Take it Easy with the Walker Brothers. What Gary, Scott and John Walker did was take a simple love song and through clever production, turned it into a bombastic blue eyed soul track. The tempo is slower and with a luscious string section, but its Scott’s baritone that is the main event here.

 

 

Elvis Presley-Tomorrow is a Long Time

 

 

Bob Dylan once said that Elvis Presley’s cover of Tomorrow is a Long Time was his favourite cover of his songs. Ever. After the first time I heard this, I have to agree with Bob. What makes this an interesting cover is how the arrangement is totally different from the Dylan’s lo-fi folkie original. Presley’s team has found the core of the track, a melancholy lament, but through the injection of a laconic lead guitar and throbbing bass, Presley’s baritone croon gives that track a totally different vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another month is over. Granted the shortest month, but a month none the less.

 

 

February was a mixed bag. Some good SOAK, SeaWitches, The Sherlocks, Movie and Affairs some bad Alex Mytton does not need any company in this category. The Brit Awards proved yet again that it has no idea what is going on. What a massive shower of shit that was!

 

 

Live highlights this month were Kitty, Daisy and Lewis pulling off a blistering home town show and Swingatto showing that all you need to entertain people is an acoustic guitar, double bass and clarinet.

 

 

So let’s raise to toast to February’s passing and the arrival of March!

 

 

 

 

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London’s premier gypsy swing group pull out all the stops for another blistering set

 

 

While this might not appeal to everyone, watching a band sound check yield secrets to the inner workings of the band. On Thursday evening I went to Old Mary’s and watched Swingatto. Our party arrived early and after a drink in the Mitre, we went down to get a good spot for the band. As we arrived they were running through the sound check. Guitarist Antonio Feula was giving his fingers a work out. What was striking about this warm up was first the speed that he played. I haven’t seen fingers that fast since the last metal night I went to. The second striking thing was how he looped everything he played to create a complete song. Live looping isn’t anything new to me, but it was the deftness of his playing that really stuck a chord. A few chord runs here, a little solo there, knocking the guitar for a beat and you have great track that Feula then played over to get ready for the set.

 

 

At 8, after the sound check was over, Feula accompanied by Matt Dibble on clarinet and Miko Ambrogini on double bass got going. The set consisted of covers, and original compositions. At times it was hard to tell what was original and reimagined covers. Having seen Swingatto before what impressed me this time was how the songs slowed more smoothly. The last time we’d seen them they were great, but in those intervening months a change had occurred. They seemed more at ease and were really enjoying playing those songs. The other change was the crowd. Last time there were only 8 of us, this time Old Mary’s was packed, and they had come to see Swingatto. After each song thunderous applause erupted.

 

 

I’m looking forward to when Swingatto will return to Old Mary’s, as it feels like their spiritual home, and they complement each other perfectly. As Old Mary’s is a low lit basement bar, the acoustic sounds of Feula, Dibble and Ambrogini’s gypsy swing go hand in hand with its ambience. Whether you looking for a hearty drink and some uplifting music, a quiet supper with some engaging music, or you just want to leave the house on the Thursday, this band and venue will be able to accommodate you perfectly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Manchester quintet release uplifting melancholic slab of pop perfection

 

 

Every week we are bombarded with adverts, blogs and recommendations about which new bands to get excited about, what established bands have just released their best album since that last great album and who on the live circuit deserves our hard earned money for an hour in their presence. Most of the time it’s just hyperbole.

 

 

On their recent single Blood Science, Manchester’s Affairs have taken a tired genre, electro indie pop plays and made it vibrant and exciting again. Blood Science sounds like a mixture of Alt-J and Wild Beasts covering Madonna’s Express Yourself in an ethereal synth drenched chill-pop style, it doesn’t just get stuck in your head, but it screams for repeat plays.

 

 

 

 

Blood Science’s lyrics are about two brothers. One is travelling life at break neck speeds and being successful, the other taking is savouring the present so much that he is being left behind. And who says pop songs are boring and formulaic?

 

 

Affairs are being championed by XFM’s John Kennedy and 6Music’s Tom Robinson for ones to watch in 2015. If this isn’t enough reason to get excited about this band then I don’t know what is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The results are in! How did I do…

 

 

Best Male Solo Artist

 

Ed Sheeran

 

Damon Albarn

George Ezra

Paolo Nutini

Sam Smith

 

As I said Ed Sheeran won. 1 points

 

Best Female Solo Artist

 

Paloma Faith

 

Ella Hednerson

FKA twigs

Jessie Ware

Lily Allen

 

Another easy pick 2 for 2 so far.

 

 

British Group

 

Royal Blood

 

Alt-J

Clean Bandit

Coldplay

One Direction

 

3 outta 3 so far!

 

International Group

 

Foo Fighters

 

5 Second of Summer

Black Keys

First Aid Kit

The War on Drugs

 

4/4, I really should have gone to the bookies with these predictions!

 

British Breakthrough Act

 

Sam Smith

 

CHVRCHES

FKA twigs

George Rzra

Royal Blood

 

5/5, I’m really shocked!

 

 

British Album of the Year

 

Ed Sheeran-X

 

Alt-J-This is All Yours

George Ezra-Wanted on Voyage

Royal Blood-Royal Blood

Sam Smith-In the Lonely Hour

 

6/6

 

 

 

British Single of the Year

 

Mark RonsonUptown Funk

 

Calvin Harris-Summer

Clean Bandit–Rather Be

Ed Sheeran–Thinking Out Loud

Ella HendersonGhost

George EzraBudapest

Route 94My Love

Sam SmithStay with Me

SigmaNobody to Love

 

I went for Clean Bandit. I thought a major advertising campaign might have given them the award. 6/7

 

International Male Solo

 

Pharrell Williams

 

Beck

Hozier

Jack White

John Legend

 

Never bet against the Pharell-factor… 6/8

 

 

International Female Solo

 

Taylor Swift

 

Beyoncé

Lana Del Rey

Sia

St. Vincent

 

Shame St. Vincent didn’t pull this coup off, but another right result for me.

 

7/9

 

British Video

 

One DirectionYou & I

 

Calvin HarrisSummer

Ed SheeranThinking Out Loud

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno MarsUptown Funk

Sam SmithStay with Me

 

Who’d have thought that Ed Sheeran learning do dance wouldn’t be the best video out of this list? 7/10

 

So this year I 7 right. This either shows that I have a good handle on UK Music markets, or it means I spend too much time paying attention to music I don’t care about…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 2015 Brit Awards are this evening, here are my predictions.

 

 

Best Male Solo Artist

 

Damon Albarn

Ed Sheeran

George Ezra

Paolo Nutini

Sam Smith

 

This is a two horse race. The winner will either be Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith. I’m going to stick my neck out and predict Ed Sheeran.

 

Best Female Solo Artist

 

Ella Hednerson

FKA twigs

Jessie Ware

Lily Allen

Paloma Faith

 

This award is a bit more open, however I’m going to the bookies for Paloma Faith!

 

 

British Group

 

Alt-J

Clean Bandit

Coldplay

One Direction

Royal Blood

 

While this will probably go to One Direction, I would like to see Royal Blood win. I don’t really like them, and I find their debut album boring, but it would be great to see a band win!

 

 

International Group

 

5 Second of Summer

Black Keys

First Aid Kit

Food Fighters

The War on Drugs

 

Foo Fighters…. Easy one.

 

 

British Breakthrough Act

 

CHVRCHES

FKA twigs

George Rzra

Royal Blood

Sam Smith

 

This should have Royal Blood written all over it, but sadly I think it’s Sam Smith’s, after his Grammy win.

 

 

British Album of the Year

 

Alt-J-This is All Yours

Ed Sheeran-X

George Ezra-Wanted on Voyage

Royal Blood-Royal Blood

Sam Smith-In the Lonely Hour

 

None of these albums deserves to win, as they weren’t the best album in the last year, but Ed Sheeran should walk this.

 

 

 

British Single of the Year

 

Calvin Harris-Summer

Clean Bandit–Rather Be

Ed Sheeran–Thinking Out Loud

Ella HendersonGhost

George EzraBudapest

Mark RonsonUptown Funk

Route 94My Love

Sam SmithStay with Me

SigmaNobody to Love

 

 

This is always the hardest award to pick, but I think Clean Bandit-Rather Be will take the gong tonight.

 

 

International Male Solo

 

Beck

Hozier

Jack White

John Legend

Pharrell Williams

 

Due to his recent Oscar’s win this week, my money is on John Legend!

 

 

International Female Solo

 

Beyoncé

Lana Del Rey

Sia

St. Vincent

Taylor Swift

 

I would love to see Annie “St. Vincent” Clark to win, but I think Taylor Swift has this in her vault already!

 

 

British Video

 

Calvin HarrisSummer

Ed SheeranThinking Out Loud

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno MarsUptown Funk

One DirectionYou & I

Sam SmithStay with Me

 

This should be Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ video, but Ed Sheeran might just take this on the night!

 

 

So these are my predictions, let’s see tomorrow how many I got right…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Old Mary hosts London’s premier Gypsy Swing group this Thursday

 

 

This Thursday at Old Mary’s in Lancaster is one for your diary. London’s premier Gypsy Swing group, Swingatto are returning. Channelling the spirit of Django Reinhardt, Swingatto play with a passion and feel that is missing in other Gypsy Swing groups.

 

 

Old Mary’s is the perfect place for this kind of music. This basement cocktail bar is so intimate you can hear the groups discussing the next song in their breaks. And let’s not forget the cocktails. Old Mary’s has some of the best mixologists and bar staff in London. Their cocktail menu is as long as it is original, however if you know it, they’ll make it for you!

 

 

Last November I was lucky enough to witness Swingatto’s rousing set in this venue, and if this Thursday’s set is half as good, we’ll all be in for a good night! Music starts at 8, so I advise you to get down early otherwise you’ll getting in the way of the dancers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reimagined 80’s pop never sounded so vital

 

 

Tusk Vegas is a monster. It is three and a half minutes of exquisite indie pop. Sounding somewhere between the disco beats and spazzy angular guitars or Franz Ferdinand, the vocal delivery of Kasabian and retro vibe of Lobster Club, Movie can strut comfortable on any dance floor, and high-street for that, across the country.

 

 

 

 

What’s more the rest of the EP is just as infectious. In a Life brings to mind the Cure at their hauntingly poppy best. In Vain is another indie disco stomper. Misty Windowpane sounds like the Thompson Twin, but instead of synths and keyboards, they had more guitars.

 

 

The Tusk Vegas EP is released today and I can’t think of a better way to kick of a new week than buy this and playing it on loop, like a demented mantra until next Monday rears it’s ugly head! This is essential listening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Everlasting is chocked full of more cultural references than Paul’s Boutique

 

 

Jamie S. Rich writes novels about life. While this might sound like a post-modern cliché it is very much true. His books characters aren’t two dimensional. They have intricate pasts, as we all do, and have a wide range of contrasting interests and influences, again as we all do. His first novel Cut My Hair was set in LA, his third novel the Everlasting, is set in Portland in 1999-2000. While this might seem like an obscure setting, it makes perfect sense. Firstly it is where Rich lives, and secondly Portland has a vibrant and exciting cultural scene. This is a rich tapestry to tell his tale.

 

 

The main protagonist of the Everlasting is Lance Scott. He is an early 20’s web designer who is obsessed with Paul Weller, and that’s putting it mildly. The plot revolves around his loves and heartaches. A subplot involves conversations with his Mother and Brothers Tristian and Percival. In Rich’s debut Tristian played a pivotal part, so it was good to see him again. What Rich has done in the Everlasting is create a literarily family in the vein of JD Salainger’s Glass family, which he mentions. It is revealed that Percival wrote a book called I Was Someone Dead, which was Rich’s second novel. How post-modern eh?

 

 

While didn’t find the plot of the Everlasting as enjoyable as Cut Your Hair. However I did enjoy its nonstop cultural references. Lance wasn’t likeable as Mason, he does feel more fully formed. Everything that befell Manson was brought on by events out of his control, while Lance’s problems were all self-inflicted. When he bemoaned them or moped about I found it hard to feel sympathy for him. What I did find more enjoyable was how Rich name dropped all the time. On certain pages it was just a list bands, songs, films and books, very similar to how Bret Easton Ellis namechecks in American Psycho and Glamorama. It felt like I was in the room, looking around and getting to know the characters. These references points helped me to firstly get to know the characters and secondly feel empathy for them, as shallow as that sounds.

 

 

This is a book that has been unfairly slept on since its original publication eight years ago. The characters feel more life-like than the majority I have read about since. The plot is one that we’ve either lived through ourselves or know someone who has. Rich’s writing is deep and meaningful and rammed full of prose. He writes about love and rejection. While some might not enjoy the emotional interplay he brings to his characters, I can’t get enough of it. It’s brave to read a male writing novels like this, and being unashamed to bare his heart and soul. If you have an interest in indie culture, or modern romance stories, this is for you. There are other instalments in the Scott saga. Tristian and Lance appear again Love the Way You Love and Percival’s story is concluded in Have You Seen the Horizon Lately. Both are well worth reading!

 

 

Below is a playlist of all the songs and bands mentioned in the Everlasting. I’m pretty sure I’m missing a lot, but these are the ones I picked up on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Everlasting Playlist

 

 

 

 

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Inconsistent referees, obscured vision and cold weather do not make for a good afternoon

 

 

Brentford is no fun in the cold. Even in warm weather it isn’t that much better. Add to the equation of cold weather, an afternoon at Griffin Park, inquisition-esque ground staff, a view obscured by a pillar and Mike fucking Dean.

 

 

The reason for this excursion was simple, AFC Bournemouth were playing Brentford FC in the Championship. It was a game both teams needed to win. Bournemouth to keep themselves at the top of the table and Brentford to keep their promotion dreams alive. Sadly by the time the ground staff had sold me a ticket Bournemouth were one nil down. Add that I was sitting in the home end meaning that I had to take the mutants of Brentford’s jeers toward the traveling fans. For the majority of the game you couldn’t hear the home fans over the constant singing and cheering from the away end.

 

 

If you have never heard Bournemouth’s travelling army then you are missing out. While some of the chants are generic, but aren’t all football chants, they never stop singing and praising their team. I have been going to football matches since I was 7, trust me when I have seen some awful fans, but I have never seen a more loyal bunch of fans than Bournemouth’s. The second best away followers have to be Blackpool’s. After and thrashing at the Emirates they never stop cheering their players and team, and sadly, they won the day on the terraces that day.

 

 

While this piece is in favour of Bournemouth it has to be said that neither team deserved to win. Both made multiple mistakes and missed chances. The difference was down to three factors. Firstly Brentford had better luck. The ball bounced in their favour, this usually happens with home teams. It’s their turf so they know its kinks, but more on the pitch in a bit. Secondly Mike Dean was massively inconsistent. He didn’t book any Brentford players for time wasting until well into the second half. There were clear penalty shouts for both teams, but neither were given. Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie picked up a soft yellow card, then wasn’t booked again for what looked like a harsher challenge. There were multiple handballs, by both teams, and only a couple were given. For as long as I can remember Mike Dean has been awful. Scratch that, he makes awful look good. He has regularly decided games by rash and idiotic reasons. If he were a sandwich he’d be honey, garlic and liver. The third and final reason was the pitch. My neighbour’s garden would have been a better surface for playing and he has gravelly stones. One of Brentford’s most famous son’s Robert Rankin once wrote that one of the Great Pyramids of Giza appeared on the pitch at Griffin Park. Looking at the pitch today, if I had heard that rumour in the crown I would have believed it. In the closing moments of the game Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman won a slide tackle with a Brentford forward. When he arose from the pitch his name and number were obscured by mud and detritus. Parts of the pitch were sanded, and others looked as threadbare as an eight year olds knee after a disco.

 

 

Despite these negatives there were positives. Both teams midfields worked tirelessly winning tackles and pushing forward. However the real winner of the day wasn’t even on the pitch. At halftime I tried to get all the scores on my MP3 player’s radio. I only got as far as the first station I found. It’s bandwidth was 87.5 FM and it only played jungle, drum ‘n’ bass and other bass music. As soon as I found it I didn’t turn it off until I boarded the bus. I have no idea what the station is called, but it might have been UK Raw Radio, also the Magpie and Crown needs a mention too. It’s the best pub in Brentford, and perfect for per/post match drinks. Also Brentford’s decision to play the Vaccines’, Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) as the teams come out is also inspired, but random.

 

 

Brentford were the ‘better’ on the day, but their promotion hopes look like a long shot. While Bournemouth has been top of the table for months, it looks like the wheels might finally have fallen off. This is a shame, but if they can’t win games when referee’s and the bounce is against them, then they will find the top flight even harder. Whether either team will go for the final push remains to be seen, but the season isn’t over yet and a lot will happen between now and May 2nd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Canadian garage rock duo are the only thing worth playing to get your weekend started

 

 

As soon I heard Phone by Cousins I wanted to hear more. And I wanted to hear it LOUD! Cousins make the kind of music that won’t win any award for its complexity, but they will win fans for their frankness. They don’t mess about. As soon as you press play, BAM, the music is loud, hard and in your face. It’s nigh on perfect.

 

 

Cousins write catchy pop songs, but they use lo-fi garage rock to hide this under layers or feedback, tinny guitars and reverbed drums. Their latest albums Halls of Wickwire is chocked full of catchy melodies, infections hooks and sing-a-long choruses. While submerging pop in feedback isn’t new, Cousins do it better than most of their peers, the tracks have an anthemic quality to them, that makes repeate listens a must!

 

 

As it’s Friday afternoon, why not get in the weekend spirit by playing Halls of Wickwire while vaguely staring at the clock and playing flash games on the sly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camden siblings pull out the stops for home coming show

 

 

The Electric Ballroom was full. The crowd was as mixed as you’d expect for a Kitty Daisy and Lewis gig. There were retroists, indie boys with their indie Cindys, punks, after work giggers and general Camden heads. Despite the spitting rain and cold temperatures the crowds spirits were high and everyone was up for what was looking to be a great night of music.

 

 

First up were the Dash. This energetic London quartet showcased their ability to successfully mix the spirit of punk, with indie pop hooks. At first they sounded like asinine Green Day B-Sides from 1996, shouty verses with catchy choruses, but not much substance. As their set progressed however the punk element was toned down and a more melodic indie side emerged. Sounding like Razorlight and Johnny Cooke’s Dogs. Weirdly both use the lyric “a month of Mondays” in their songs. As soon as the set had calmed down a bit, Dash ramped things up again for their final track, Fell in Love (With the Back of My Hand). Basically an ode to onanism. The Dash are a great live band and their music is fun, but at times it feels slightly dated punk by numbers, but great to watch while having a couple of beers.

 

 

After a brief interval, the in house DJ played some great ska, calypso and rock steady, Kitty Daisy and Lewis took to the stage. As this was a home coming gig, of sorts, they were clearly up for it. From the opening bars of Whenever You See Me Kitty Daisy and Lewis had the crowd captivated. As well as being joined by their Mum on bass, there was a string section. This gave the tracks a more grandiose feel. When they launched into Baby Bye Bye, the crowd hollered and joined in with the chorus. For Feeling of Wonder they were joined on stage by Mick Jones. He was meant to be a surprise, but he walked on before they could introduce him. As on the album his inclusion really brought the track together and he delivered a flawless solo, which the crowd lapped up.

 

 

 

 

Whiskey was another crowd favourite. Again the live string section really helped add the emotion to the piece.

 

 

 

 

The majority of the set was from their latest album The Third, infact the only track not on the album was the penultimate track Going Up the Country. The crowd lapped this up and went bat-shit crazy for it. Developer’s Disease was the most poignant track of the set. It’s main theme is about how London is being sold to property developers and it’s slow losing its charm. This hit home for Camden residents as the Bull and Gate was closed down in 2013, and Kitty Daisy and Lewis played one of the last ever shows there. This is clearly an issue that is strong with the siblings Durham. After the set had been play, and after a brief break, Kitty Daisy and Lewis returned and played What Quid as an encore. During the track they introduced the different members of the band and each Durham played an extended instrumental section. It was a fitting way to close an excellent gig.

 

 

What last night showed is that on their day Kitty Daisy and Lewis are one of the best bands currently on the circuit. This is the third time I have seen them and I know it won’t be the last. I implore you to go and see them if, and when, they play in your town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Retro Promenade’s third Twin Peaks tribute album sees the light of day

 

 

Earlier in the year Texan label Retro Promenade released the Twin Peaks score covered in a synth pop style. Against all logic is worked perfectly. Two weeks ago they released a second volume. This time any track in the Twin Peaks canon was free game, either for a remix of cover. The results were interesting, but they never hit the highs of original. Now, the Next Peak: Volume III is released. This time the brief is slightly different.

 

 

This time, instead of covering or remixing, the tracks have taken inspiration from the series. Some of the inspirations are abstract; others have built tracks around vocal samples. But that all have that ‘Twin Peaks’ feel. The strongest tracks on the album are the ones with one foot in Twin Peaks itself. While there is nothing technically wrong with the other tracks, they are just synth pop tracks with a slight dark and menacing feel.

 

 

The stand out track on the album is Paine Nihil’s BOB. Of all the tracks this works to the brief the best. It contains vocal samples from the series, but in just over four minutes it conveys everything about BOB that you need to know. The music itself is has motifs from the series in it, piano and basslines, but there is an eerie background noise, it has a paulstretch sound to it. This is what drags you in. It echoes the primalness that BOB has in the series. At times it’s unsettling, but you can’t stop listening.

 

 

Through these three compilation albums I have re-found my love for the music from Twin Peaks and for that I’m grateful. These compilations are must have albums for any fan of the original series and Angelo Badalamenti’s score. While the first is the strongest, there is plenty to engage with on the other two, and through repeat listens these tracks really stick in your head and get under your skin. To quote Dale Cooper “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.” Why not make this your present today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sherlocks aren’t the only Sheffield indie band to stalk the charts

 

 

Coming from a city with a rich musical history could be intimidating. If you look at the great bands that have come out of the Steel City, Cabaret Voltaire, 65daysofstatic, Moloko, the Longpigs, Pulp, Bring Me the Horizon, Arctic Monkeys, Def Leppard, Babybird and Rolo Tomassi, also not forgetting Warp Records output before they moved to London, this is a lot to live up to. Before you have even released anything, you have already been judged, and possibly pigeonholed. Luckily the Sherlocks are living up to this high standard.

 

 

The Sherlocks

The Sherlocks

 

 

Sounding like a poppier version of Interpol, with hints of the Little Flames, Escapade is littered with heavy riffs, and massive pop hooks. The Sherlocks effortlessly merge indie cool with a pop sensibility. This appears to be working as they are currently sitting outside of the Top 40, which mirrors the current Kings of Sheffield’s meteoric rise.

 

 

Rumour has it that there are more singles in the pipeline and an album is on the horizon. If these future releases can match the impact and power of Escapade, and debut single Live for the Moment, then the future looks very bright for this Sheffield quartet. As Alex Turner once said “Do believe the hype”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Liverpool quartet releases the Post-Pop track of the year

 

 

Stars by SeaWitches is a perfect mix of indie cool and pop hooks. Sounding like the Cure, Belle & Sebastian and Nico, they drawn you in with jangling guitar riffs and bittersweet lyrics. What’s more remarkable is that Stars is only two minutes twenty long, and this is only their third release!

 

 

SeaWitches are one of those bands that are easy to get excited about. They sound like a dream, have a great name, a strong image and, from what I’ve been told, are incendiary live. The only downside is their limited output. However with tracks this good, and their previous two EP’s, this isn’t a problem.

 

 

 

 

Rumour has it that this is just the start of what SeaWitches will released this year. If Stars is anything to go by, SeaWitches have a bright future with their perfect blend of Post-Pop. Be excited, be very excited!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Theme music never sounded so good!

 

 

 

 

Over the past few months I’ve been thinking about what my theme music would be, if I could have some. Ultimately it would be great to have a few selections, so whatever your mood people would know how to approach you. If it was ethereal and playful you were in a good mood, Heavy and dark a bad mood, etc, etc.

 

 

As we all sadly know, this isn’t going to happen, unless you have a Blu Tooth speaker secreted about your person, but it did get me thinking about it. After a few months, and a lot of digging, this is what I decided on my theme music.

 

 

 

 

It’s upbeat, catchy and well known. Granted you would have to be in a good mood, otherwise it would start to grate. What’s brilliant about this version that on certain occasions you would actually want the band to follow you. Imagine walking down the street with a matching band playing that behind you and bumping into someone from your past who’d put you down, or said you’d never amount to anything and having that playing whilst meeting them? Argument won, am I right?

 

 

Recently however my decision has started to change. I now think that today’s track would be my theme music. It’s more contemporary, and you’d only need the hidden speakers I mentioned earlier to hear it. I haven’t found a situation that this music hasn’t improved!

 

 

Sadly the point of this blog is redundant as if you did walk around with theme music you’d probably end up with an ASBO. But imagine if you could, it would be EPIC!

 

What would your theme music be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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St Valentine’s Day is upon us yet again. This year I have spent it with my wife. After a relaxing morning, and a semi relaxing trip to the supermarket, we retired to our lounge where we partook in watching DVD’s. We watched Game of Thrones Series 3.

 

 

While to some this might not be a very romantic way to spend the day, there is a wedding in it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Indie Pop three piece mix surrealism and riffs to create something memorable and exciting

 

 

Just when you think you have a handle on new bands, you sometimes get thrown a curve ball. The Wave Pictures are that curve ball. Their latest single I Could Hear the Telephone (3 Floors Above Me), is three minutes of indie pop perfection.

 

 

From the opening riffs you realise this isn’t your average track. The track tells the story about staying at someone’s house and you can, as the title states, Hear the Telephone (3 Floors Above). The juxtaposition of the surreal lyrical imagery and the music help to set the Wave Pictures apart from their peers.

 

 

Their latest album is released next week and if this is anything to go by, it should be one of the highlights of the year. It would be only fitting to play it on loop while someone three floors below listens in a sleeping bag!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Texan folkie channels past to create something memorable

 

 

Nobody’s Fool is the new album from Shakey Graves. Mixing traditional folk, roots with psychedelica, Shakey Graves has pushed the boundaries of what contemporary folk can be since his 2011 excellent debut album Roll the Bones.

 

 

Opening track If Not For You, conjures up images of the desert, dust bowls and Nick Drake, but you know in a Stetson. The rest of the album is chocked full of the dissonance charm that peppers Shakey Graves previous work.

 

 

This album is available through the Shakey Graves bandcamp page, so why not go there now and check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Southern psych-gazers look set to make 2015 a year to remember

 

 

In the pantheon of indie, genres come and go. Some stay forever, while other disappear without a trace. One genre that looked set to be on the way out was Shoegazing. This was until a few years ago, when a slew of new bands with fuzzed out melodic tracks started to appear in venues across the country. One of these bands was Dorset’s Yoofs. Their 2012 debut We Used 2 Be Fun, showcased their ability to take a vanished genre and create something fresh and exciting. Last year saw the release of Something. While this was chocked full of great tracks, it was a very different sounding album. The walls of feedback had been replaced with some of the best summery guitars since Trident Productions.

 

 

Yoofs have returned with comeback single Another Boring Day. The track opens with a fuzzy guitar riff, but when the verse kicks in, the guitars go clean. What this track does successfully is merge their first two albums. The lyrical sentiments of Something are merged with the fuzzy wall of sound used on We Used 2 Be Fun. As with all Yoofs’ tracks, it makes me long for the Summer, and this is no exception.

 

 

There is a strong rumour that Yoofs will release their third album later this year. If Another Boring Day is anything to go by it looks set to be their finest and most cohesive work to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What happens if you add a horn section to a Math-Rock band? Selectric!

 

 

Who’d have thought that adding a horn section to a Math-Rock band would work? Luckily Si Paton does. Selectric are a seven piece Math-Pop band from West London and the brain child of Si Paton. This week Selectric release the Insultc EP. It is 20 minutes of Math-Rock with a soul side. So Math-Pop!

 

 

Musically Insultc is a mixture of classic Math-Rock, but with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Memphis Horns leanings. What sets Selectric apart from other Jazz Math-Rock bands is they have a pop sensibility and what more they are having a blast. This EP is insanely catchy and gets better with repeat plays.

 

 

This Wednesday Selectric will be playing Power Lunches in Hackney to celebrate the release of Insultc EP. It looks set to be an amazing night. So get yourself on down and pick up a copy of this EP on cassette! Yes I said cassette!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back Catalogue: New Order

 

 

New Order have always been a band I’ve been away of, but I’ve never considered myself a massive fan. Despite somehow having all their studio albums. Over the past few months I’ve slowly been playing them more and more. Then it occurred to me, what’s the best New Order album? Well read the next nine hundred and thirty three words to find out!
 

Movement (1981)

 

After the death of Ian Curtis and Joy Division’s break up, the remaining members formed New Order. At times they are just going through the motions, playing the songs leftover from Joy Division. So at times Movement sounds like Joy Division’s third album, instead of a new band’s debut. They knew what Joy Division had been, but not what New Order should be. The inclusion of more synths and keyboards shows a direction New Order would follow for the rest of their career, but at the time this decision and sound was derided in the press.

 

Stand out tracks: Truth, Chosen Time, the Him

 

Power, Corruption and Lies (1983)

 

The difference between Movement and Power, Corruption and Lies is monumental. In the space of two years New Order sounds like a totally different band. The oppressive, claustrophobic synths have been removed and replaced with bright and airy New Wave composition. There is interplay between the instruments. Bernard Sumner has found his voice and his guitar playing is sparser. Although Blue Monday didn’t feature on the UK release, it’s there musically in other guises, most notably 586.

 

Stand out tracks: Age of Consent,586,Leave Me Alone

 

Low-Life (1985)

 

New Order had found their sound and they were sticking to it! Blue Monday’s rhythmic sound peppers this album. Loads of synth. Loads of surging bass. Loads of drums. Loads of Sumner’s trademark guitar and nasal vocals. Joy Division still hangs over the band like a spectre though, most prominently on Sunrise.

 

Stand out tracks: The Perfect Kiss, Sunrise, Elegia

 

Brotherhood (1986)

 

On Brotherhood New Order actually made two albums, well, two sides. One side was straight guitar/indie, the other dance oriented. While on paper this works well, in actuality mixing the two seamlessly was what made New Order so special in the first place. Brotherhood suffers from this separation, and is their first flat album.

 

Stand out tracks: As it is when it was, Bizarre Love Triangle, Angel Dust, Every Little Counts

 

Technique (1989)

 

After the explosion of Acid House, Technique was part recorded in Ibiza and has more of a dancey feel to it. True Faith was released in ’87 and Blue Monday re-released in ’88. Both were big singles and this exposure helped change the New Order, for a more pop/club oriented sound. Due to the slight change in sound, Technique feels flat as the guitar/indie vibe has been replaced with cutting edge clubbing elements. Overall another flat album, however it is great to play at BBQ’s.

 

Stand out tracks: All the Way, Guilty Partner, Vanishing Point

 

Republic (1993)

 

After the commercial success of Technique New Order followed this blueprint, but added more pop hooks. The resulting album Republic feels like a bright pop club record rather than then darker murky sound of their earlier releases. Saying that Regret is arguably one New Order’s best tracks. The remainder of the tracks sometimes feel lost under a swash of over production and effects.

 

Stand out tracks: Regret, Everyone Everywhere, Chemical

 

 

Get Ready (2001)

 

After an eight year break, New Order returned with Get Ready. After the indie explosion of the early 2000’s guitars were back in vogue. Get Ready is chocked full of them. Gone are the saccharine synth and ‘house beats’, instead there are brooding bass riffs, dark slabs of synth fuzzy effects pedals. From the opening track (and lead single) Crystal, a musical gauntlet is thrown down. This is a hard hitting, stark 50 minutes. It has more in common with Unknown Pleasures and Closer than their previous albums. There are slow burners. Vicious Streak and Run Wild show that band have matured and were capable of writing reflective songs as well as bangers. The only downside to the album is the video for Crystal gave the Killers the idea for their band. New Order, this is going on your permanent record…

 

Stand out tracks: Crystal, Turn My Way, Vicious Streak

 

 

Waiting for the Sirens’ Call (2005)

 

After the success of Get Ready, Waiting for the Sirens’ Call feels like a step back. The first notable change is the lack of keyboards. This is a guitar album. While there is nothing particularly wrong with the album, apart from the brashness of the guitars and vocals which are great, there isn’t a lot going on. At times they haven’t really anything to say. Luckily they sound like they’re having a great time. This enthusiasm makes this an enjoyable, but sadly formulaic album.

 

Stand out tracks: Jetstream, Working Overtime, Hey Now What You Doing

 

Lost Sirens (2013)

 

After another eight year break, New Order returned with Lost Sirens. While this isn’t technically a new studio album, it’s a collection of songs recorded during the Waiting for the Sirens’ Call sessions, it does feel like one. At times it feels fresher and more vibrant that Sirens’ Call. But at times it’s just a band on autopilot. As with Sirens’ Call their enthusiasm makes the album more enjoyable. While this isn’t classic New Order, there is a lot to enjoy. Sadly it’s the last album to feature Peter Hook, who left in 2007 and the second without Gilian Gilbert who left in 2001.

Stand out tracks: Sugarcane, Recoil, I’ve Got a Feeling

 

 

Substance (1987)

 

While Substance 1987 isn’t a studio album, it is an essential New Order purchase. New Order realised that if you didn’t always put the singles on the albums, as fans and collectors would have to buy both to get all the tracks. Substance 1987 contains all the original singles, and more importantly their B-Sides.

 

Stand out tracks: Ceremony, Temptation, Shellshock, True Faith, Blue Monday, 1963

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lazy Saturday’s are the perfect antidote after a hectic week!

 

 

After a hectic week, what better way to wind down than doing nothing! This is exactly what I plan to do today. Well by nothing I don’t just mean lie on the sofa and gaze out of the window at watch planes and vapour trails. I’m aiming a little higher than that.

 

 

So far I have woke up, always a good start, gone to the sorting office and picked up post that either our postman couldn’t or didn’t want to put through the letterbox. Then did some basic food shopping. When I got home I ripped my new CD’s and listened to a couple of records while drinking tea. After that I watched a few episodes of It’s Always Sunny. Now I am contemplating going out and watching some rugby.

 

 

One of the albums I played was the Rough Guide to Psychedelic India. As the title indicates, a lot of the tracks sound like they are tripping balls! If you are into out there psych, or interesting world music then this is for you. You could buy a lot worse than this. Also check out the others in the series too. All of them showcase the best of their specific region!

 

 

While this might seem like a waste of perfectly good Saturday, this is exactly what the Doctor ordered!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 year old chanteuse looks set to make 2015 hers!

 

 

Sea Creatures three minutes of fantastic dream pop. At 18 years SOAK, Birdie Monds-Watson, is wise beyond her years, and her song writing showcases this. Lyrics such as “They don’t know what love is, Throw it around like it’s worthless, They don’t know what love is!” and “I pray for you, And you know I don’t like Jesus!, Want you to get better… , Please, please get better, For you, for me” show her understanding of the human condition and what it means to love. I can’t think of another set of lyrics written in the past year that have affected me like these.

 

 

The track opens with the sound of the sea, when the music kicks in; it follows the ebb and flow of the tide. SOAK’s vocals rise and fall with this pattern. At times Sea Creatures resembles Ben E. King’s classic Stand By Me, but this isn’t a bad thing, as it never pastiches the original.

 

 

SOAK is getting some major attention after being included in the BBC Introducing 2015 list. Let’s hope that it isn’t long before SOAK becomes a household name and her song writing is lauded for honest interpretations of life and society. Runour has it that her album is on the way and this this, and last year B a noBody is anything to go by it looks set to be included on 2015’s end of year lists. SOAK is definitely one to watch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reality TV star unsurprisingly releases single, result are surprising

 

 

On a timeline there is the inevitability that soap/reality stars (and I use star here in its loosest sense) will turn their hand to music and release a single. We’ve seen it all before. However for every Kylie, there are countless Bill Tarmey, Anita Dobson, Hollie Valance, Michelle Gayle and Bubble’s. It appears that Alex Mytton (from Made in Chelsea fame) has now decided to throw his hat in the ring.

 

 

Mytton isn’t the first Made in Chelsea cast member to try their hand at music. Fellow cast mate Andy Jordan released an EP last year. But instead of horrible amalgamation of Ed Sheeran, the Kooks and Counting Crows, Mytton has decided to go down the more route of dancey pop music. However the route detours into garage. After hearing Electric it’s safe to say it’s not what I expected. Electric opens with a woozy synth line and piano riff. Echoy vocals and 2-step beats and bass line enter the mix. At times it’s a little reminiscent of a slowed down Gotta Get Through This.

 

 

 

 

 

Despite Mytton’s best efforts, the clichés still remain. Autotuned saccharine vocals with a generic beat 4/4, until the chorus at least, and the excessive use of the word ‘Baby’ and ‘Love’ pester the track. Also it’s hard to know Mytton’s actual input. Did he write and produce Electric, or was a ghost-writer brought in to pad out his original ideas (i.e. a dance track with garage leanings)? Ultimately it doesn’t really matter, as this has One-Hit-Wonder written all over it, and that’s being fare. Like his screen time in the last series of Made in Chelsea, Mytton’s music career looks fleeting. Don’t give up the day job. Oh wait…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Retro Promenade return with second Twin Peaks themed comp

 

 

Last month a Texan label, Retro Promenade, that has a love of everything synth and 1980’s sounding, put out a covers album to the original Twin Peaks soundtrack. While this sounded like a bad idea as the original was nigh on perfect, it turned out to be a surprise hit, and has been on constant rotation ever since. Now the Next Peak: Volume II is released. The brief was slightly different. Volume I was a straight track for track cover of the original soundtrack, this time the artists involved could remix any track from the Twin Peak canon. So anything from the Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks: Season Two and the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with me soundtracks.

 

 

The album starts strong enough. Kalax’s remix of Falling ethereal nature of the original subverts it into chillwave. Lucy Black add the vocals, as she did on Volume I. What makes this track so striking is there is no beat at all. The only elements are vocals, bass and synths. The synths have been layered and create a dense fog that envelopes you until at the end it lifts. Second track is Protector 101’s take on the Pink Room, from the Fire walk with me soundtrack. As with the original, that start he is that murky stalking bassline. Instead of stark stabbing guitars, it is surrounded by a wall of synch that Phil Spector would be proud of, you know if he wasn’t in jail, and screaming solos. The whole thing sounds like Vangelis is just warming up before a session.

 

 

Here however is where Volume II start to become unstuck. The next two tracks are exactly the same. The first is a remix of the Twin Peak Theme and the other is remix of Falling, but without the lyrics. After this is one of the highlight of the album, a dark and broody remix of Laura Palmer’s Theme. Sonic Synergy channel the spirit of Visage, but into a contemporary chillwave, darkstep sound. One of the three stand out tracks on the album. Then another Falling remix. This is followed by another Laura Palmer Theme Remix. The album closes nicely with a Telesto remix of the Pink Room. It’s a starker remix, very much like the original. Lots of background synths, phaser bass riffs and live drumming. Telesto employs limited elements to create something that evokes the original, yet keeps in line with the brief. 1980’s synths!

 

 

The main problem with the album is lack of variation. Given the brief to remix a song from the Twin Peaks canon, only five tracks from the various scores make appearances. Leading the charge are Falling and the Laura Palmer Theme, with three tracks each. Pink Room has two remixes and finally Twin Peaks Theme (an instrumental version of Falling) and the Nightingales have one remix each. The combination of all three original soundtracks is about 45 tracks. Where was Blue Frank, Best Friends, Shelly, Harold’s Theme, Packard’s Vibration, Sycamore Trees or New Shoes?

 

 

Overall however this is another solid release from Retro Promenade. Not quite a clever, or inventive as the original, but not far off. Rumour has it that a third volume is nearing completion. It will contain tracks inspired by anything in the Twin Peaks canon. Whether this means covers, remixes or original compositions, is anyone’s guess, but it shouldn’t be too far in the offing. Hats off again to Retro Promenade, this is another damn fine compilation!

 

 

 

 

 

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San Francisco Math-Rockers return with new pop 7”, yes I said Pop!

 

 

In eight minutes Giraffes? Giraffes! have created something that needs to be heard to be believed. The first minute of SugaaaaaSpazzazazz is a slow melodic, highly manipulated riff that jumps from sounding like circus music to a church organ and back again. Then BAM the drums come in and it sounds like the Mario theme on acid! This motif continues for the rest of the track. The riffs are hard and fast as are the drums. This isn’t Math Rock, its Math Pop! And it’s Math Pop at its best! Second track Swallowing Light is a more straight forward track, if such a thing can ever exist in the world of math. It’s also heavier. There is structure and repetition here. Swallowing Light is less psychotic than SugaaaaaSpazzazazz, but it’s no less inventive or intricate.

 

 

Chaos seems to rule supreme here, but after a few listens you realise that everything has been planned and there is order in place. While this isn’t for the faint hearted, there is a lot to engage with. Taking as many cues from Ornette Coleman, as Three Trapped Tigers and Nomeansno, Giraffes? Giraffes! successfully subvert pop-hooks and melodies into their maelstrom of organised disorder. What’s more it’s incredibly playable, and after each listen you understand a bit more of this complex, yet catchy eight minutes of pandemonium and turbulence that is Giraffes? Giraffes! and Math-Pop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This year’s Hanwell Hootie looks set to eclipse last years

 

 

While a one day music festival in Hanwell in West London might not appear to make much sense at first, if you do a little digging, it makes perfect sense. Hanwell might not be as pretty as other parts of West London and Ealing, it is actually rich with culture and history. Led Zeppelin used to practice in Hanwell, as did Deep Purple and the Who. Jimi Hendrix owned a house there. Jay Kay, of Jamiroquai fame, and the Magic Numbers both hailed from Hanwell. However the most important resident of Hanwell was on Jim Marshall. Marshall created a unique amplifier for guitars and his original shop was in Hanwell.

 

 

The first Hanwell Hootie took place in 2013. The main event was the unveiling of a blue plaque on the clock tower, to honour Marshall and cement his place not only in musical history, but in local folklore too. 2013’s Hootie had thirteen bands in three pubs. Last year there were thirty bands in six pubs and 3 ‘Hootie Fringe’ venues. This year there are forty five bands in eleven venues. What’s more this year’s line-up looks even better than last year. Established bands are rubbing shoulders with new up and coming bands. It is this mix that make this year’s line-up exciting.

 

 

 

 

The four bands that stand out are Francis Gahan Band, Two Hands, Du Bellows, Jacob and Goliath and Ella and the Blisters. Each of these bands typifies the quality and depth of the current West London scene. The Francis Gahan Band give the blues a folk rock twist, not unlike like Gomez, but they enthuse their sets with pop hooks. Two Hands make a loud noise and play rhythmic hard rock. Du Bellows channel the spirit of classic Fleetwood Mac, but at folk flourishes, lyrically, to create something that is not easily forgotten. Jacob and Goliath effortlessly mix pop and good old fashioned song writing to create a Mumford-esque sound. Ella and the Blisters are a rag tag band of gypsy swing folk rock misfits. Their songs are filled with the sounds of the past, but with contemporary social commentary and stories of now.

 

So what else have you go to do this weekend, then come on down to Hanwell and pay your tribute, not just to a slew of great bands, but to the Father of Loud!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ex-Zutons front man returns with something totally unexpected

When I first heard Dave McCabe was releasing new music, I have to say I wasn’t that enthused. At the end of the Zutons career they were a slight pastiche of themselves. All the excitement and promise of their debut releases had vanished, and they’d turned into a standard middle of the road rock band. McCabe probably felt this too, as he called it a day after their third album.

So, again, when I heard that McCabe was releasing new music I wasn’t that bothered. However, as often does, I heard the new song by accident. At first I had to double check that the artist was McCabe. There are no guitars, and the lyrics are sparse and slightly surreal.

After a few listens Space and Time is slowly becoming one of my songs, not just of the month, but the year. For the first time since 2003 I’m excited to hear what McCabe releases next!

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