The 60th Eurovision song contest takes place tonight in Vienna



It’s that time of year again, when musical excellence is decided over back stage political sidings, tactical voting and petty past grievances. I don’t mean X-Factor, I can only be talking the Eurovision Song Contest. This year Austria host, and it’s shaping up to be a great year for Euro-Sex-Pop and quirky performances.



After the Semi Final’s one of the most forward thinking Eurovision acts ever won’t be present. Sadly Finland didn’t get enough votes, along with Moldova, Netherlands, Macedonia, Belarus, Denmark, Ireland, San Marino, Malta, Portugal, Czech Republic, Iceland and Switzerland, and wont be performingin the Grand Final. This is a massive shame as Finland’s Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät have an interesting story along with an amzing song. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät are a punk band who formed in a charity shop in 2009. Since then they’ve taken the country my storm, and look set to conquer the rest of Europe with their frank songs about social inequality. The final will be slightly less enjoyable now they’re not performing.



While it’s disappointing about Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät absence there are plenty of performances to get excited about. Thisyeairnmusic’s man in Vienna has given us the lowdown on the songs he thinks will be pushing for a podium finish.






Måns Zelmerlöw has given Sweden the biggest chance of Eurovision glory with Heroes. It basically has everything a Eurovision song needs to win. Catchy chorus, mixing of genres (faux country guitars meets dance beats). Heroes is also the booking favourites as they are the Chelsea of Eurovision.







Nadav Guedj performs a nigh octane that mixes traditional Israeli sounds, with a Western pop sensibility. This track is definitely worth a punt each way.








Loïc Nottet has bumped up Belgium’s chances of winning with this Lorde inspired single Rhythm Inside. This is another one that should finish on the podium, so maybe an each way bet wouldn’t be a bad idea.








This is the wildcard bet, but our insider thinks Elina Born & Stig Rästa could pull off a surprise win with their song Goodbye to Yesterday. It has a soaring chorus and enough indie charm that might grab them the top spot








The last entry that deserves a mention is Australia’s entry. Yes I did say Australia. For the first time ever they’re taking part, still not entirely sure how Australia are part of Europe, but they’ve been included. Whether they’ll be successful and win the whole thing will remain to be seen.









West London’s Boys have this summer’s perfect soundtrack



In recent months its becoming apparent that East London’s stranglehold on new bands is loosening, and possibly for the first time in a great many years, eyes and ears are being drawn back to West London. The latest name on West London’s roll call is Boys. This quintet makes the kind of music that longs for the Sun kiss on your skin.



So far they’ve only released three songs, Summer of Love, Nice Guys and Off to New York City, but these three songs show a knack for melody and harmony that hasn’t been heard since some relatives started making music in California in the 1960’s.



Boys are showing their winning hand at the exact moment, the smell of Summer is in the air and this weekend is a bank holiday. So whatever you’re doing this weekend make sure you’ve included at least one of these songs to your playlist.







Can nothing stop Bristol’s experimental swami in 2015?



Gnar Hest’s new album Void Rider should come with a note exclaiming “No instruments were harmed during the making of this album”. Everything you hear during its thirty five minute duration is 100% synthetic and digital. Gnar Hest AKA Matt Williams, created every note and sound sitting at this computer trying to set his inner soundscapes free. Everything is programmed note by note, and there are no MIDI keyboards used either. Although the album was composed using Reason, it was written by hand.



Void Rider sounds like the soundtrack to the best Amiga game never made. You can almost see the introduction sequence, as the album starts, the plot explained over animated sequences with sparse title cards. As the opening track, Soft Sweet Smile at the Abyss is How I Do, starts to get into a pattern, the track explodes with squelchy lurid bass rumbles, this is when the villain of the piece is introduced and the aim is made clear. From this point on Void Rider skews, drifts, swerves and pulsates until you end heart racing and breathless at its conclusion. Just like any good Amiga game. The track ends as the villain has just escaped, but you’re just behind and ready for the final showdown.



Speedin Thru Blank Realms of Bliss is a slower, darker affair. This is the track that plays while you combat the villain. The tension builds as you have to destroy evil minions, wear down the baddies armour/shields/resolve until there is nothing left and you have won, stopping the nefarious plan and get the prize at the end. Coda (Puts On Sunglasses) is the music that plays as the end sequence plays and the titles roll.



With this Gnar Hest releases, Williams has combined the spirit of Vangelis and classic 8-bit scores to create something fragile, but at the same time that has the power to take you on an emotional ride. This is bold stuff and Bristol’s premier experimental purveyor has out done himself, not just through composition, but through scope of vision.







New York bedroom balladeer’s latest outpourings are diamonds in the rough



The first thing that strikes you about John DeRosso AKA flout’s new album gims, is how lo-fi the recordings are. On the opening track along you can hear DeRosso’s cat meowing near the end and you can hear his flatmates footsteps in the background. At first these intrusions into DeRosso’s songs seem stylistically annoying. Yes we know you’re lo-fi. Yes we know you don’t record in a proper studio and yes we know it’s cool that you record and upload songs as soon as you’ve done them, but do we need the cat? After a few listens however you change your opinion. Yes we definitely do need the cat! DeRosso refers to them as ‘blemishes’, but they are more than simply the world bleeding into the songs. It’s these ‘blemishes’ that end up drawing you in. You even start to look out for them.



When you get past the outside influence of each song and their aesthetics, you realise that there is a touching melancholy and tender yearning to them. DeRosso explains this as “about being an adult, and coming to terms with a realized faulty version of yourself”. There is also an element of downplay to the songs too. DeRosso is still early in his song writing career, and might not feel confident enough to write a full blown pop song, so these rough sketches, so home recordings, with their imperfections just add to the mood and ambience. You feel like DeRosso is performing in the next room, and you shouldn’t over hear, but you do anyway. Just like prison albums when you hear someone urinate during a song, or shout to tell them to keep the noise down.



Clocking in at twenty two minutes, gims’ eleven tracks are pretty concise but that’s their ultimate charm. There is no messing about. DeRosso displays his deft skill as a song writer, as the songs have strong melodies and catchy hooks. This is an album that doesn’t just get in your head it get under your skin though heartfelt poignant lyrics, written verite style at times. There is talk that DeRosso is the new Alex G, it’s too early for that kind of speculation at the moment, but there is something about these songs that are akin to Alex G. And that ain’t a bad thing at all!







Let the hype begin…



Later in the year Rockband makes its over due return. So far nothing has been known about how the game will be set up. Will it be the same as Rockband 3? Starting at small venues and working up to stadiums? Or will go back to basics and just be about the songs, with no story arc? Either way I can’t wait for November to find out. Another things that’s been kept under wraps is the all-important song list. Some has speculated it’ll be a mixture of old and new and that Ed Sheeran will be making an appearance. This week Harmonix, the developers, have begun the teasing by releasing six songs that will feature in the finished game.



These s by releasing six songs that will feature in the fninhsed game. pearance. This week back to basics and just be abotu ix are:


Aveng Sevenfold-Hail to the King





Fleetwood Mac-You Make Loving Fun





Jack White-Lazaretto





The Killers-Somebody Told Me





Spin Doctors-Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong





The Who-The Seeker





While this is a good start, let’s hope that there are more newer bands making an appearance in the full game!







The Forester in Ealing is holding another beer festival. The Sun’s out, so why not pop along



Right, let’s get down to this, no faffing about. This weekend sees the Forester in Ealing hosting another beer festival. While this doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, pub sells slightly different beer, to the beer it normally sells, let’s just look at the list of this slight different beer


Brewery/Producer Location Name ABV Description
Blue Monkey Ilkeston, Derbyshire Sanctuary 4.1% A traditional light copper coloured ale, but with a hoppy twist, spiced up with a generous and unusual combination of German and American hops.
Brains Cardiff, Wales Rev. James Rye 4.3% The Rev. James Rye is dark, dry and distinctive, brewed for a full flavour and bitter finish with unexpected glimpses of citrus and spice.
Brewsters Stathern, Leics. Hophead 3.6% A very pale hoppy brew; with a fresh floral hop character. This comes from a special blend of English and American hop varieties and gives it a modern fresh taste.
Bristol Beer Factory Bristol. Milk Stout 4.5% A beautifully creamy, full-bodied stout, the likes of which were brewed nearly a century ago on the very site of the Bristol Beer Factory today.
Cwrw Ial Mold, Wales Limestone Cowboy 4.5% A tribute to the local climbers who scale the limestone crags found over the hill from the brewery. A robust dark copper ale using roasted malts, big tasting American hops and West Coast yeast for a hop forward style ale.
Dark Star Horsham, W. Sussex. American Pale Ale 4.7% A yeast strain used for the brewing of the pale dry American Ales was specially imported from the USA, along with some Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops, to produce this pale ale. The pale Maris Otter malt provides a perfect light colour and dryness to complement the crisp taste and full aroma of the hops.
Dark Star Horsham, W. Sussex. Hophead 3.8% An extremely clean-drinking pale golden ale with a strong floral aroma and elderflower notes from the Cascade hops. This beer is full-bodied and full-flavoured yet gentle enough to make it a favourite session beer.
Downton Salisbury, Wiltshire Kasbek Zest 4.1% A fantastically refreshing, straw pale ale with 20% wheat and a combination of lemon and lime zest. The citrus flavours are enhanced by the huge amount of Czech Kazbek added as a late copper addition… Its bound to kazbeckon you back for another!
Frensham Frensham, Surrey Forager 4.5% A 4.5% rich and delightfully refreshing golden/copper coloured ale, with an earthy spring in its step. A complex floral aroma, with hints of a forest glade leads to subtle oak/vanilla notes, offset with a caramel/spicy hop balance. Full of character and fine depth with a lingering bitterness at the finish which dances on the palate. A moreish ale.
Frensham Frensham, Surrey Rambler 3.9% A 3.9% golden refreshing session ale, fruity hops with an oak edge give rise to a satisfying bitterness. A well rounded and interesting combination of floral and hop aromas make for an easy light beer.
Gipsy Hill Gipsy Hill, London Southpaw 4.2% Southpaw is disarmingly punchy. An amber ale with a mouthful of malt and hops, it comes out with fruit, citrus and refreshing balance, backed up by a corner of bitterness.
Harviestoun Alva, Clacks. Bitter & Twisted 3.8% A sharp, blond beer with a superb, fresh hop profile combining aromatic Hallertau Hersbrucker with spicy Challenger. It is finished by late hopping with Styrian Goldings, which gives sharpness like the twist of a lemon. A truly refreshing beer and strangely moreish.
Hop Studio Elvington, York York Quaffing Ale 3.8% A superbly drinkable session Ale. Quite complex malt flavours underpin a beautifully blackberry and orange flavours. There’s a hint of tangerine in the aroma. It’s a belter!
Mighty Oak Maldon, Essex. Captain Bob 3.8% A traditional deep amber coloured bitter brewed with Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand. The aroma is fruity and hoppy and on the palate; there is a slightly sweet maltiness that balances an easy going bitterness that is followed by hints of gooseberry, elderflower and grape in the finish.
Oakham Ales Peterborough, Cambs. Bishops Farewell 4.6% A strong premium beer of structured quality dominated by elaborate fruity hop notes, with a grainy background and dry finish.
Oakham Ales Peterborough, Cambs. Citra 4.2% The first of our single hop variety beers. We were the first brewery in the UK to use Citra. The beer proved so popular that we will be brewing it again. Permanent from January 2011. A light refreshing beer with pungent grapefruit, lychee and gooseberry aromas leading to a dry, bitter finish.
Ossett Ossett, W. Yorks. Silver King 4.3% A lager style beer with a crisp, dry flavour and citrus fruity aroma is ideal for drinking anytime, but is particularly well suited to the spring and summer months.
Red Squirrel Hertford Conservation Bitter 3.7% A new and improved recipe, this chestnut coloured traditional bitter is made with Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malts, underpinned by Centennial hops, showing a nice, mouth-filling texture of hoppy fruity bitterness.
Taylors Keighley, W. Yorks. Boltmaker’s Best Bitter 4.0% A well balanced, genuine Yorkshire bitter with a full measure of maltiness and hoppy aroma. Rebranded at October 2012 from Best Bitter to Boltmaker’s. Winner of the Camra Champion Beer Of Great Britain 2014.
Thornbridge Bakewell, Derbyshire Jaipur IPA 5.9% Light golden coloured with a sweet citrus aroma combining candied lemon peel with sun-drenched tropical fruits. Initially a soft, smooth taste which builds into a distinctive hoppiness with a twist of honey, and a long bitter finish.
Titanic Burslem on Trent, Staffs. Plum Porter 4.9% This beer is dark, strong and well rounded; the richness of such a rotund beer is brought to an even keel by the late addition of Goldings hops and natural plum flavouring.
TicketyBrew Stalybridge, Greater Manchester Muncher 4.3% Mixing malty caramel sweetness with a distinctive German hops; a traditional beer is given a new lease of life with the spicy flavours of our Belgian yeast. A tribute to our Central European friends – Prost!
White Horse Stanford in the Vale, Oxford. Black Beauty Mild 3.9% A deeply dark ale that reveals it’s redness when strong light is shone through the glass. The fruity flavour is complemented by the Fuggles hops that are used for bitterness and aroma.
White Horse Stanford in the Vale, Oxford. Blowing Stone 4.2% This famous stone stands below the White Horse in the village of Kinston Lisle. It is said that “he who can blow the stone shall be king”. Using only the finest English pale malt and amber malt to produce a real traditional brown beer which is hopped with English Bramling Cross and Challenger.
Windsor and Eton Windsor, Berks. Knight of the Garter 3.8% Knight of the Garter is a flaxen-coloured easy drinking Golden Ale with a distinctive fresh citrus hop thanks to the use of American Amarillo whole leaf hop with its gorgeous orangey aroma.
Abrahall’s Worcester Slack Alice 4.6% A medium well rounded yet a little tart 4.6% cider. Still mellow with a very slight tart finish.
Abrahall’s Worcester Thundering Molly 5.2% Thundering Molly is a well rounded medium cider.Fresh and fruity with a lovely apple aroma.Gorgeous golden colour and a well balanced finish. Made from a blend of bitter sweet and sharp cider apples.
Lilleys Somerset Gladiator 8.5%  this strong rustic cider with its Roman flair has everything. Well rounded, fruity, packed fulll of flavour and intoxicatingly easy to drink for a 8.5% cider. Medium
Lilleys Somerset Pigs 7.5% A medium dry blended perry and cider packed full of crisp refreshing flavour.
Stowford Press Devon Bumbleberry 4.8% Summerfruits cider. Apples, Strawberries, Blackcurrants, Raspberries and Blackberries.
Westons Herefordshire County Perry 4.5% Fermented and fully matured in old oak vats to develop an exquisite, delicate, light and fruity character. Softly floral with a clear natural pale straw colour.


Yeah! That’s impressive right? Not only that there is a BBQ from 12-9.30pm, a Hog Roast and live music also from 4pm. Oh and did I say it’s free admission too? Also the Sun is now shining so if you’re in the London area, with not much to do today, why not come along!












It’s that time of year again and Brighton is a-calling!



The Great Escape is upon us once more. What better reason to head to Brighton than a weekend of live music! This year is bigger than ever. While I relish the problem of not knowing who to see and when, it can lead to clashing’s. Here are my picks of the artists you should definitely be checking out this year and where they’re playing.



Sasha Siem – Paganini Ballroom 15/05/2015 12-12:30 PM



Sasha Siem is one of the most original and exciting artists playing this year. Her debut album showcased not only her ability to write amazing pop songs, but also her gift at composition. Where else can you hear classical, jazz, indie, pop and a junkyard rhythm section in one song?





Remi Miles – The Basement, North Laines 3.50pm, Hotel Pelirocco (acoustic show) 8.00pm, Nowhere Man (acoustic show) 10.15pm 15/05/2015 and The Open Market 16/05/2015 1-1:30 PM



Local Brighton artist Remi Miles has a slew of shows this weekend, so you’ll probably catch him somewhere. Miles makes great soul pop with a hint of 60’s style. His vocals run over you like thick molasses and are harder to remove from you head. Big things are tipped for this Killing Moon artist, and rumour has it there is an album being crafted as we speak. This is definitely one to watch out for!





K.Flay – Komedia 16/05/2015 1:30PM – 2:00 PM



American indie underground Hip-Hop artist K.Flay should need no introductions, but I’ll deliver her ego another boost by giving her one. While at Stanford University K.Flay started experimenting in music, when she graduated she released a slew of mixtapes and EP’s until she got the attention of Sony Music. After another blistering EP, she went back to the studio, but the fruits of her labours were never released and they apart company. Last year she released her long waited debut album Life as a Dog, to critical applause. This is a set you HAVE to see!





The Death of Pop – Pavilion Tavern 16/05/2015



This quintet channel the spirit of C-86, Shoegazing and Noise Pop with a slight prog penchant for swooping soundscapes to create wonderful maelstroms of noise and confusion that are laden down with melody and purpose. What’s more they’re bloody fun! Big things are on the horizon for this bunch of Southerners, so catch them before they get promoted to the next level of gig venues!





The Hundredth Anniversary – Pavilion Tavern 16/05/2015



My previous selections have been quite raucous, so let’s slow things down for a moment. The Hundredth Anniversary makes a hazy melodic indie rock. Their songs are full of emotion and intrigue, but they know when to let rip. They are purveyors of the quiet-LOUD-quiet formula, and use it to full extent in their live shows. This promises to be something special!





Tyrannosaurus Dead – Pavilion Tavern 16/05/2015



My last tip for the weekend is possibly the one you should definitely get down to. The reason for this is simple. It’s the last T-Dead gig in Brighton. Ever. No really. At the end of the month they are calling it a day. T-Dead make the kind of music that makes you glad that you don’t like generic pop. Singer Billy Lowe’s lyrics are brilliant slices of life, which only come from looking at life with the right kind of eyes. At times you feel he’s ripped them straight from his diary. This looks set to be an absolute belter of a set, and who knows they might even play 1992….





So there you have it, if you any of these performances your weekend, and possibly life, will be all the better for it. Or you could just walk about and follow your ears, either way you’ll be in for a great weekend!







Second album in five months from Brighton’s burgeon lo-fi guru



Last year Brighton’s Max Levy AKA King of Cats released Working Out. While the recordings were rough around the edges and the vocals, at times were slightly undecipherable, in its twenty nine minutes it reimagined what a lo-fi album should be. At times it was thought provoking and humorous but with a level of pathos that stuck in your throat. After a mere five months, Levy and co are back again with new album Microwave Oven.



The first thing that hits you about Microwave Oven his how concise everything is. In the past Levy might have taken his time getting the songs going. Now, almost as soon as they start, you know what they’re about. Opening track The Idea of It is a prime example of this new found song-writing. It jumps straight into the first verse. No introductions, no subtle build up. BAM! First verse and we’re off. It’s this kind of song writing that comes with experience and confidence in your abilities. Guilty is possibly one of the most fully formed and immediate tracks on the album. The strings sound like they’ve being played with a credit card than a plectrum. It’s these ad-hoc touches that really make the album great.



Cover My Ears sounds like a distorted game of Pong while Levy and co. sing and shout over the top of it. Is the title and music Levy’s comment of contemporary electronic music, or does the title, music and lyrics all play into some joke that only he knows the punchline of? Ultimately it doesn’t really matter as the song brilliant. Fake Accent is an example of that Levy does best. Rhythmic strumming set behind shrill, screechy vocals. It’s what I imagine Daniel Johnston would sound like, if he was on holiday in Greece. The star of the show is Incorrect. It’s a fuzzed out off-kilter jangling melodic beast with pop pumping through its veins. Very much like Levy himself as he explained recently “I have always liked the idea of making pop music without the means or components or talents to make anything ‘regular’.” Microwave Oven is anything but regular!



The tracks have a scratchy demo feel about them, but on the other hand they sound polished and complete. When Levy was recently asked about the make of Microwave Oven he replied “It sounds like an attempt at something I am unable to achieve, which is what I want.” This pretty much sums it up. The songs were recorded live in producer Jonathan Coddington’s front room. The album sounds very organic and natural because of it, and it’s a refreshing change from usual produced-to-an-inch-of-its-life sounding music that fills the majority of releases schedules each week. Instead of just guitar and vocals, Levy and co incorporated keyboard, drum machine and a bouzouki, along with guitar. This level of experimentation shows, especially on Naked Fucking Bodies Flying High with its Eastern sounding rhythms. Rumour has it that no computers were harmed in the making of this album and everything was played as you hear it and live. There is fragility to the songs and, as a listener; there is a slightly voyeuristic pleasure to them. You are experiencing something that possibly you shouldn’t, but it’s too interesting to do the right thing and turn away. Like when you hear an argument outside your open window, but you can’t close it as the people will know you’ve heard everything.



Microwave Oven isn’t just a step forward artistically; it’s a step forward sonically. Due to the recording process it’s probably as close as we’re going to get, to the inner workings of Levy’s mind. Once you crack the albums code its a fun twenty-two minutes, through an off-kilter psyche, that is watching a microwave, waiting for his food to ping.











Easy second album from noise pop quintet



As previously noted great seconds albums can be a bugger to pull off. You can either totally change your sound like the Horrors, but you run the risk of alienating your original fan base. Or you could do what Joanna Gruesome have done with their second album and don’t really change anything. Through frenetic touring since their 2013 debut Weird Sister, they have honed their sound and style down, so that their second album Peanut Butter is basically Weird Sister 2.0.



Opening track Last Year picks up where Weird Sister left off. Actually that’s not internally true, Last Year sounds like the Ramones fronted by a falsetto Debbie Harry, compared to the ‘slower’ grunge influenced tracks of the debut. To call it incendiary doesn’t really do the word justice. In-fact it does so little justice that Last Year is offended to be classed in the same category as anything labeled incendiary. Jamie (Luvver) is the next track to make an appearance. Like Last Year it comes rocketing out of the traps, and at one minute forty-one it’s one of the shortest songs on the album. Again the Ramones can be felt on this track. The guitars sound downstroked, the drums are tight and Alanna McArdle’s vocals are lithe and vivacious. There is No Function Stacy takes its foot off the gas, but not by much, and takes a slightly more melodic road. The harmonies work beautifully and really showcase Joanna Gruesome’s ability to not just make a racket, but to be able to construct songs that take you on a journey, rather than pummel you into submission.



Side B starts with a maelstrom of drums, feedback and loops. When I Don’t Want to Relax gets going it’s a classic pop song, disguised as punk banger. This is the crux of the album. Joanna Gruesome write amazing pop songs, but play them at breakneck speed and hide them under layers of noise and feedback. Jerome (Liar) has a jaunty guitar riff, part Brit-Pop part shoegazing, for the verses and an explosion of melody and harmonies for the chorus. Is this a thinly veiled attack on the History of Apple Pie’s main axe and word man? I guess we’ll never know, but it’s still a great track! As with Weird Sister the final track goes against the run of play. Instead of being Ramones-esque, it’s a slow burning quiet number. After playing the previous nine tracks and hearing Hey! I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend. It reminds me of walking for a taxi after a night an indie disco. Your ears are still ringing, you have that feeling of being flushed that only comes after you’ve been somewhere hot and having a good time and you can’t quite feel the cold through your warm jacket yet. Through this moment of quiet meditation, you can start to take on board what you’ve just heard.



Basically it’s like Weird Sisters, but six minutes shorter and the songs are better! If this pattern continues the next album should be out in eighteen months and will clock in at sixteen minutes. While I relish this prospect, try and keep it above twenty minutes though, yeah?







Multi band side project yields excellent results



The problem with a side project is that generally you are always thinking back to the original bands. This is exactly what doesn’t happen with the Gunnera debut album from trio Pfarmers. Danny Seim (Menomena, Lackthereof), Bryan Devendorf (the National) and horn player Dave Nelson (the National, Luluc, Local Natives) have created an album that is as eclectic as it is enjoyable. No easy feat, just ask Zoon Van Snook.



Gunnera opener Benthos sounds like a fog horn that slowly skews into didgeridoo, while being underpinned by an ethereal synth that wouldn’t be out of place on the KLF Chill Out album. As it fades out, You Shall Know the Spirit kicks in. Through a driving bass and haunting horns, it follows on the ethereal nature of opening track Benthos, but adds elements of Devendorf’s other band the National for good measure. Work for Me sounds like Elvis Costello fronting Battles at their most charming and poppy. The track’s bassline does share an uncanny resemblance to David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes. Don’t let this put you off though. Work for Me illustrates that Pfarmers have tunes on their mind as well as eerie lurid soundscapes. El Dorado is a dark and broody subconscious trip, that is about fear and overcoming it. Ol’ River Gang is the stand out track. In the first thirty seconds it jumps from dancey banger, to a New Orleans Funeral March then manages to mix the two together to create something totally unexpected, but ultimately cognitive. Promised Land is a nine-minute monster that follows the work of the previous six tracks. Ultimately it sounds like an elongated jam track, but that’s fine as it’s a bookend to Benthos, and brings the album full circle and closes it perfectly.



So after hearing the album what’s it all about? Seim recently gave this away “The record is about a dream I had where I’m reluctantly accepting a fear of drowning by focusing on being reincarnated as a giant Gunnera plant, which thrive on the banks of rivers (specifically the Jordan River i.e. the Biblical promised land) after I paint myself gold and sink to the bottom like the El Dorado of South American folklore” Right so that’s sorted then! Throughout Gunnera you are questioning if this is really happening or if the audio panoramas are snapshots into the bands psyche?



One album down and whatever Pfarmers are doing its working. They’ve toiled over their debut with diligence and care. Nurturing ideas and rehearsals into coherent tracks. The one thing that is abundantly clear about Gunnera, is how ambitious and free of constraint Seim, Devendorf and Nelson were when they were making it. As this wasn’t for their day jobs there was no real worry about commercial or critical response, and that is what makes it such a great album. They made it because they wanted to, not because of what if had to do. Whether there will be another Pfarmers album will remain to be seen, but given the quality of Gunnera, it can’t be long before those seeds start to germinate and another bunch of tracks take root in their collective minds ready for harvest.







Grime’s grand master returns, changes game again



In the history of UK Hip-Hop one name keeps cropping up again and again. Wiley. He’s basically done it all. He’s released utterly filthy grime tracks, incredible Hip-Hop albums and number 1 pop bangers and after eleven years, yes eleven, he’s still releasing music that not only challenges, but is bloody great too!



New single Chasing the Art is filled with all the trademark Wiley lyrics we’ve come to expect and love. He mentions London, obviously as it’s his greatest muse, “Not a grass, I don’t need compensation, I’d be further if I was more patient, Like waiting for the trains at Euston station” his Nan, “But it’s dead where I’m standing, couldn’t been stranded, If I never worked every day like my Nan did, Some dons, they don’t wanna work thought, While I’m here sitting with a workload, Even though I didn’t get paid any money for my first shows, In music, I’ve got a name that the world knows” and Grime itself “I’ve got time on my hands, grime in my hand, But grime, me and fans, we was in a full circle, They look into your life, don’t matter if it’s personal, Could be good, could be hurtful” But by far the best lyric is the opening line, showing he’s not lost any of this self-depreciating humour, and modesty “Who ate all the pies? It was me, Wiley, Top boy riddims, yeah, made by me”



Special mention needs to be given to the HeavyTrackerz who produced Chase the Art. It sounds current, but at the same time, like nothing else going on. Opening with what sounds like an Oompah Band accordion underneath a catchy keyboard loop, then BAM, the beat kicks in and it’s on! Wiley’s vocals are fast and frenetic, spitting at a million miles an hour, but never losing the point of his rhymes. While it’s basically a bragging, saying how great he is, what he’s done, and still yet to do, it’s brilliant. In fact it’s so good I can’t wait to hear someone playing it stupidly loud as they curse round or drives to the shops for some Cherry Sprite and a load of junk food.



Wiley appears to be going through another golden period, which is great for us, but other rappers and producers must be getting sick with always coming second best. Maybe they should start chasing the art, instead of just following it.







Blur: 12 of the best missed and overlooked tracks



To celebrate the release of the new Blur album the Magic Whip 12 years after 2003’s Think Tank, here are 12 Blur songs that have been criminally missed over the years.



Garden Central



B-Side track from the sadly overlooked Popscene EP. Its 6 minutes of woozy shoegazing guitars and droney bass. It was Blur’s swansong to their early years. What I wouldn’t give for another track like this!








Taken from their debut album Leisure, Sing was the single that never was. Insanely catchy piano riff, backward guitars and drenched in melancholy and regret. This was one of the first signs that Blur weren’t just another baggy indie pop group. They had other things on their mind!





The Outsider



A B-Side from the Crazy Beat single. It is one of the few tracks that Graham Coxon worked on before he left the band in 2003. Is the title a reference to Coxon’s departure or the Albert Camus novel?







This is one of the heaviest and dirtiest tracks Blur ever released. Never has going out to a club sounded so terrifying and exciting!





He Thought of Cars



Another single that never was. Given the singles from the Great Escape album, how Stereotypes got selected instead of this is beyond me. He Thought of Cars sums up perfectly the post- Parklife malaise that would be the nail in the coffin for Britpop.





To the End (Featuring Francoise Hardy)



An entirely French version of this Parklife single. This version features the classic chanteuse Francoise Hardy. While there wasn’t much wrong with the original, this version oozes sensuality.





Theme from an Imaginary Film



During the Britpop period, it was popular to write a theme/song for a fictions film. Portishead did it better than most. This three minute ditty has a faux French feel to it, and is reminiscent to Scott Walkers Jacques Brel covers.





St. Louis



Give how poor the Great Escape was overall, it’s seem odds that this track would be missed off, only to make it as a B-Side for the Stereotypes.





Beagle 2



This song is named after the Beagle 2 space probe. The song was part of the European Space Agency’s equipment and was meant to play as soon as the real life Beagle 2 touched down on Mars. Beagle 2 was lost in space until 2015, so we’ll never know if played the song, as expected.





Music is My Radar



A stand-alone single to help promote the Best of Blur album released in 2000. It is Graham Coxon’s last single with the band until he re-joined in 2009.




Me, White Noise



Phil Daniels features on this hidden track from Think Tank. Its part Parklife part ‘Ullo John Got a New Motor, but for the post-clubbing generation.





Under the Westway



This is the song that kick started the sessions that became new album the Magic Whip. In 2012, against the odds Blur re-formed and recorded this single, inspired by the stretch of motorway that runs over Damon Albarn’s 13 studio. It’s a tender lamenting ballad that slowly grows until it’s tear jerking outro.









Art is Hard release fourth edition of their Hand Cut Record Club



London based Dignan Porch are the latest editions to Art is Hard’s roll call. They’ve submitted the excellent Out of the Picture for the fourth release in Hand Cut Record Club series. Opening with big crunching guitars and catchy keyboards Out of the Picture doesn’t mess about getting down to business.



Sounding somewhere between classic New Order and the Lightning Seeds, the song is a warning to anyone who isn’t being honest with their feelings, as the chorus “If you wait too long to tell her, you’ll be left out of the picture” reiterates.



Dignan Porch have had a busy year, they’ve already released a strong album Crème, and are currently finishing a European tour. Rumour has it that there are more shows on the horizon and possibly another EP. This is definitely something to get excited about!







LA resident releases monumental jazz album



Every now and again an album comes out that blows you away. This is either because of the music, lyrics or subject matter, loosely based on an old warrior’s circle of life. Kamasi Washington’s one hundred and seventy two, yes one hundred and seventy two minute debut album for Brainfeeder, the Epic has all these things and more.



The album tells the story of an old guardian of a city. From his vantage point he can see a dojo. Eventually he hopes to be challenged, and to lose, thus handing the torch to the new guardian. One day the doors of the dojo open, but three men emerge, all set no defeating the old guardian. The first challenger has speed, but not enough strength. The second has speed and strength but is not clever enough. The third however has speed, power and intelligence and defeats the old guardian. Sadly this has all been a dream, and when the old guardian wakes up he looks at the dojo and all of the students are children. As time passes, the children do indeed become powerful enough to challenge, but the old guardian has died, without being defeated. This is a great story for a rock album, let alone jazz!


But who are the musicians that Washington has co-opted to tell this story and where are they from? The answer is slightly more bizarre than the Epic’s subject matter. During its mammoth existence the Epic uses a thirty two piece orchestra, a twenty piece choir and all this is under pinned by a vehemently voracious ten piece band, known as “The Next Step” or “The West Coast Get Down”.  The Next Step has been meeting regularly since they were teenagers in a shed in Inglewood. The band consists of bassist, and Brainfeeder artist in his own right, Thundercat and his brother, Ronald Bruner Jr. and Tony Austin both on drums, Miles Mosley also on bass, Brandon Coleman on keyboards, Cameron Graves on piano, Ryan Porter on trombone and  Patrice Quinn on vocals.


Right, that’s enough of who and where, what about they why? Why form the band, concoct an amazing story and release a three about album? The answer is simple. Washington and the Next Step want to shake up jazz and make it exciting and dangerous again! The opening track Changing of the Guard does this perfectly! Opening with massive horns, piano, keyboards, drums and choral vocals it sounds like a mixture of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra all rolled into one. The music engulfs and sweeps through you. Askim slows things down, pace wise, but the intensity is still there through horns and surging bass. Isabelle is tender and melancholy, with slowly drawn out horns and a mournful piano. The Next Step isn’t so much a track, as a statement of intent. During its fifteen minutes, the band show what they are capable of. The song skews and contorts between bop, free and big band jazz. The Next Step also foretells to what’s to come next on volume two and three.



I could go on describing the rest of the album, but I won’t. I’ll leave that for you to explore this vast and monumental world. All I will say is that the Epic definitely lives up to its name. In the past ten years there have been good jazz albums, but Washington has produced something that not only eclipses these, he obliterates them on style and deftness of playing. Washington looks like he’s set up self-up for glorious career, but at the back of his mind you know he’s looking down at the dojo waiting for the challengers to appear.







Australian Lo-Fi artist releases new album on leftfield indie. Match made in heaven!



Waterfall Person has a gift. At first this gift might not be apparent, due to wonky keyboards, woozy guitars and lo-fi vocals, but after a few listens of new album Bug Byte, the mist begins to clear and it all starts to make sense. Bug Byte is chocked full of insanely catchy melodies and childlike stream of consciousness lyrics “I look into the past, do you miss me” and “What’s on the menu, if is it offaly good?”



The only downside to the album is this. Firstly it’s only twenty nine minutes long. One listen isn’t After multiple repeat plays the tracks start to grate a bit, due to their simplicity and lo-fi recordings. However before this happens, their imperfections really pull the whole thing together.



Luckily for us Waterfall Person is pretty prolific and has many releases on Bandcamp, so hopefully the follow up won’t take long to emerge!







Neoclassical act return after a far too lengthy hiatus



Beautiful Broken is the first new album by Andrew Dobson, AKA Digitonal, since 2008’s Light for Darker Days. In those seven years Dobson has been a busy boy. He released, not really a best of, but more of a this-is-me-now compilation Be Still My beating Heart on Just Music, his musically home since 2008. Rumour has it that he has scrapped an entire albums worth of music, because it didn’t feel right. But like with all of Digitonal’s outputs, the wait was worth it. Beautiful Broken is his most complete, and accomplished album.



“The length of time that Beautiful Broken has taken has been its saving grace,” Dobson said recently “I don’t feel any pressure to align myself to the zeitgeist anymore and that’s very liberating. I have made mistakes in the past where I would contrive certain things to fit in with a certain scene, but I feel happy with the new album, because it’s me through and through.” This new found freedom comes across in the music. Beautiful Broken sounds like a man who has fallen back in love not only with music, but with music making.



This being said there are subtle difference between Beautiful Broken and Light for Darker Days. First of all opening track Proverb contains lyrics. While this doesn’t seem like a massive difference, it does add an extra texture that, in the past, Digitonal have been missing. We Three is classic Digitonal. It opens with a keyboard riff, that slowly fades into the background, while what appear to be a xylophone carries on the same pattern while swaths of synths envelope you. After a few minutes  a chopped up piano interplays with glitchy beats. When the trademark strings kick in We Three really comes into its own. Beltane is one of the standout tracks. The hard manipulated plucked strings are juxtaposed with a lyrical and playful piano. It Doesn’t Matter is a darker, more electro driven piece. The driving bass and beats make it sound like an outtake from a John Carpenter film. Luna is another classic Digitonal sounding track. It’s reminiscent to Silver Poetry, from their debut. Stark strings mingle with melancholic piano. The album closes with Eighteen. Loosely based on Steve Reich’s ground breaking Music for Eighteen Musicians, the song goes I cycles and phrases until it comes to its logical conclusion. Reich’s influence isn’t just on Eighteen, it’s shadow hangs over the whole album like a shadow.



The only downside is that there isn’t that one hard hitting glitched out monster, like Black Box from their 2002 debut 23 Things Fall Apart. Black Box helped tie the album together, yet it put everything before and after into context. That being said, Beautiful Broken is an album that craves to be played. It demands you to listen to its intricate patterns and to break its code. And why not? Given the current musical climate, and Dobson throwing off the pressure of trying to fit in with conventional styles, it’s a very brave album. Let’s hope the next one doesn’t take so long.







Soul jazz singer returns with second album, more of the same, but with pop hooks




Five years ago a singer from London released an album. The artist was Andreya Triana, and the album Lost Where I Belong, was her debut. It was slightly jazzy with a soul twist. At the time of release Triana was compared to Amy Winehouse. While there were similarities between the two, there were also subtle differences. Winehouse’s hybrid of soul, pop and hip-hop made her a household name. Triana’s debut, coupled by her work with Brighton’s Bonobo, got critical acclaim, but it seemed little was known of her outside jazz and electronica circles. All this looks set to change.




Giants, Trianna’s follow up, picks up where Lost Where I Belong, left off. The songs still contain the same heartfelt and frank portrays of everyday life, but the music has a slightly poppier feel. Don’t be worried existing fans; this is all for the benefit of the songs. Giants opens with the sound mournful horns, then a syncopated vocal loop kicks in, Doo-Doo-Doo-Doo, until the vocals properly begin. The rest of the track is full of uplifting Gospel-esque choral arrangements, funky bass and 80’s synths. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Incredibly well too. Comeback single Gold, has a strong pounding beat, that along with the lyrics, conjures up a positive fun vibe. Keep Running which shows off Triana’s gift as song writer as well as a singer. The album closes with Everything You Never Hard Part II, is an ode to Triana’s childhood and Mother. To call it an emotional end doesn’t do it justice.




The production duties this time are being handled by Matt Hales, he’s previously worked with Paloma Faith, so things have a slightly poppier feel. I’m not talking about Miley Cyrus pop, but the tracks seem punchier and easily assessable, but with a vulnerability missing from the majority of mainstream music.




Previously Triana has been compared to Amy Winehouse, but after listening to Giants, another comparison starts to emerge. Lauryn Hill. Like the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Giants paints a vivid picture of not just Triana’s life, but of society too. But this is where the comparison ends. Giants not only showcase Triana’s vocal capabilities, but also her deft skill as a songwriter. Lost Where I Belong was a strong debut, but Giants lives up to this early promise, as it delivers excellent track after excellent track after excellent track and isn’t that what we all want from an album?














London’s favourite Scot’s return with vigorous second album



After initial success, some bands fold and falter with their follow up. One rule of thumb is to get it out as quickly as possible while people still remember how good the debut was. The Arctic Monkeys did this and it paid off. Favourite New Nightmare was released fifteen months after their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Fans and critics agreed it was a classic follow up. Other bands take years for their follow up and release something that not only misses the musical mark, but also is panned too. The Stone Roses took five years between their debut and the aptly titled Second Coming. Others take a lifetime for that follow up Linda Perhacs took 44 years for her second album. Luckily it was worth the wait. Django Django only left it three years for their follow up. Luckily they have returned with an album that is in part equal to their debut.



As Django Django was a sleeper hit, being written in frontman David Maclean’s home, there is more pressure on Born under Saturn (the title gives his worries away, as Saturn generally means death/confronting fears in astrology). This pressure to surpass their debut comes across in the scale of the recordings. It is a bigger and richer sounding album, but at times this larger sound comes at the expense of the songs. Having said that the music is positive and bouncy, but the lyrics are just as ironic and scathing about 2015 as they were about 2013.





Opening track Giant talks about returning to your home town after a lengthy absence and the problems that can bring. “Looking over the city where you once belong, Shrug your shoulder to the people who have done you wrong”. The beats are big, the harmonies and tight and the guitars twang and rumble. Not a bad for an opening track. Shake and Tremble ramps up the twangy 1950’s guitars another notch. The guitar intro sounds like a 2015 version of Rebel Rouser and the Peter Gunn Theme played at the same time while an indie kid plays around with a Theremin. Comeback single First Light is one of the albums highlights. From the opening drums and bassline to the earwom inducing chorus, is begs to be played loud! Pause Repeat sounds like a combination of Klaxons and Hot Chip. It sounds half formed and hackneyed at times. On Reflections Maclean’s fears are summed up in the lyrics “Stare into a gleaming stone, Trying to seek new life, It glistened once, now it’s unrefined and cold. Try to live a perfect life, Paint our world in gold, Before we realized we were owned and sold.” The beauty of Reflections is you don’t notice the lyrics tone until the fourth listen as the music is uplifting.





Musically Django Django have done back to their early loves. Duane Eddy riffs, Beach Boys harmonies, early dance beats, glam rock bravado all wrapped up with an indie sensibility. This approach has paid off as the songs sound fresh, appealing and bouncy. Born under Saturn isn’t a perfect album. Yes it’s catchy, and fun, but the lyrics are quite poignant, but overall it just works and with every listen you hear new things and remember others. One thing is certain Maclean isn’t that comfortable in the spotlight and this comes across in the albums themes. Alienation, the evils of capitalism and acceptance all feature prominently. Let’s hope Saturn has passed for DD III.







Theatrical duo create something remarkable on debut EP



The debut EP from Grace Moon and the Jaguar is like stepping back in time. Imagine Caro Emerald performing on a Michel Legrand score for a version of the Age of Reason made in the 1960’s. OK this isn’t exactly true, but it’s close. They take elements from the past and create something new.



Stand out track Summer City oozes sensuality and intrigue. Grace Moons vocals are sweet, but not sacchariney. They complement the Jaguar (JB Pilon)’s playing perfectly. What makes this track such a joy to listen to is the underlying horn section. They add a level of melodies and harmonies for Moon and Pilon to drop in an out of.



The only downside to the EP is that at times you just want to hear the music and not have Moon warbling over the top of it, but these sections pass and you’re being blow away again by another cinematic moment. If you like early Postishead, film noir film scores and lyrical jazz albums this is for you!







Indiana hardcore kids finally get the recognition they deserve



One thing I love about hardcore bands is after they have broken up, their complete recordings can be fitted onto one CD’s or vinyl. I Saw It All Unfold: The Complete Recordings Of Annabel;Lee is such an album.

From what I can gather Annabel;Lee formed at a high school in rural Indiana, and tried to be different from the other Christian punk, hardcore bands. In doing so they not only opened themselves up to something more interesting, they helped create a scene too. Instead of heavy breakdowns and screaming, they were using the loud, quiet, loud technique along with heartfelt lyrics to create something they enjoyed. And it worked, the songs on I Saw it All Unfold might sounds like bigger hardcore bands, but at the same time every track sounds like Annabel;Lee. Then, for some reason, they just stopped. As a friend once said to me “Only you know when it’s time to leave the party” Part of me admires a band who knows when they’ve had enough.



What first hits you about Annabel;Lee is not just intensity, it’s there, or the passion, again it’s there, but it’s the pride they put across playing and singing these songs. XRA Records have done a great job trawling and compiling this compilation, it really comes across as a labour of love, and the pride they have for it shows as much as in the songs itself. Rumour has it there aren’t many physical copies left, so you better get one while you can, because this ain’t being re-pressed anytime soon…






The North East’s premier riff chasers gear up for new EP



Avalanche Party are a breath of fresh air. They make the kind of racket that every teenager craves for, let alone thirty something’s. In a short time they have gone from four young guys mixing heavy riffs with Gregorian chants for a laugh in a bedroom, to a fully functioning band producing some of the best music this side of the wall*!



After a pummelling assault of guitars and drums, new single Revolution, throws up these biting lyrics “I don’t want your blood, it don’t fizz like mine, you got something killing everyone inside. I don’t want your skin, it don’t fit like mine, you’ve got something I would crush teeth for” after which another musical assault take place before the avalanche of a chorus “Revolution Time!” kicks in. Are they claiming that they are starting the revolution or are these subtle references to the upcoming General Election?





Once again the video is another surreal trip through Avalanche Party’s collective psyches. Cross dressing, Japanese masks, desolate moors, parallel dimensions triggered by trip switches, it’s basically Terry Gilliam’s tour of the North.



Avalanche Party sound like they have an axe to grind. They’ve made a list and are systematically crossing names off. While this is a slightly terrifying thought, it’s actually one that yields immense pleasure. Avalanche Party are, possibly, the most exciting new band around at the moment and it surely won’t be long before they’re adorning magazine covers and creating a storm in venues across the country. Remember you heard them here first…









*The Westeros Wall, not Pink Floyd’s

London based duo release haunting debut album



Taking your name from an Edgar Allen Poe poem builds expectation. It conjures up a romantic impression of a lonely man lamenting the death of beautiful women. It brings to mind misty benches by rivers or the sea. A lingering melancholy, which can never be removed. And a specific feeling that makes you cold at the bone, when you think of it.



Luckily Annabel (lee)’s debut album, By the Sea… and Other Solitary Places, does all of this and more. Annabel’s vocals are ethereal, but grounded in emotion and Richard E’s music features elements of impressionist classical composers, late night Parisian jazz clubs and chill out trip hop soundscapes. Opening track Breathe Us tells you everything you need to know about the album. Opening with a simple recurring loop, that after a few cycles is as impenetrable as fog, but Annabel’s voice cuts through it like shapes and shadows in the distance. Breathe Us seems to say “we’re going to take you on a strange and slightly macabre journey. It won’t get bumpy, but don’t lose sight of us, or you’ll be lost in the gloaming forever”. I Will Lead Us has a simple message “I will lead us”, through folktronic glitch guitars and subtle strings the tension is built and reduced. Lyrically it’s reminiscent to a mantra or lullaby. Musically Believe sounds like an updated version of Bille Holiday’s Gloomy Sunday. Annabel’s vocals literally purr with regret and remorse. Closing track Suki Desu sums the whole things perfectly with its dreamlike strings and beguiling vocals.



The only downside with the album is that the texture ad tone of the tracks doesn’t vary much and if you aren’t concentrating it all can merge into one. Also at times, due to Annabel’s jazz vocals some of the lyrics are undecipherable on a first listen. Having said that it’s perfect for those moment when you need a distraction in the background, or are in quite meditation at work.



Yet again the partnership of Ninja Tune and If Music has released another sublime album. Originally a Record Store Day release it has now been given a proper release and offered to the masses. While this album will probably not set the charts alight, it does contain some of the most honest lyrics and inventive production released this year. Miss this at your peril!







Bristol’s experimental guiding light  fourth release of the year so far…



When I think about Matt Williams and his many musical guises, I picture him in a darkened room, surrounded by instruments, constant prison rollies smouldering in an ashtray, with a fevered look in his eye, as he tries to get the sounds, noises and melodies out of his head and into the world, screaming and yelping his vocals, with a stack of tinned mackerel to keep him going if/when he gets hungry. The truth is probably more mundane and less romantic. But given Matt’s musical track record, anything is possible.



His latest and forth release this year is simply titled At Time Temple. In a nut shell it is two slabs of music, one 22 minutes the other 15. Opening slab titled Disastrchasr // Bad Sigil starts with a delicate guitar and bass riff that grows slightly more broody as it advances, underneath this a throbbing guitar line enters the mix followed by driving drums. Within one minute twenty we are now engulfed in a euphoria of driving post-rock. As the pace quickens as does the intensity. Seven minutes in, there is a slight respite from the abrasive onslaught, the drumming stops and a swath of guitar fills the void. Around ten minutes it all goes quiet and Bad Sigill starts. Melancholic synth replaces post-rock guitars. The intensity is still there, but it’s a lot more subtle. Tender guitar riffs are juxtaposed with feedback the thundering bass. Slowing the noise increases, but compared to Disastrchasr this is a lullaby.



Second slab 666 Quest // Zone Away might be slightly shorter, but it packs just as much of a punch. Disastrchasr // Bad Sigil took it’s time to slowly build tension, 666 Quest // Zone Away jumps straight in and we’re off. With every note that Matt plays, he tightens the screw that little bit more. This is claustrophobic post-rock at its best. Distorted vocals merge with wailing feedback and guitars. 666 Quest was a burn your ears out, Zone Away sounds as it’s described. Mantra chanting vocals mingle with Eastern sounding tonal guitars. This is a slow and, dare I saw, a mellow end to the EP.



Rumour has it that Williams isn’t finished with 2015, as he has another MXLX album and a new Gnar Hest in the can and ready to go. At Time Temple is available to download or on 12” vinyl. There are only 100 so if you want one of these exquisite sounding EP’s you’d better hurry as they’re flying out the door!







Alternative chanteuse ropes in electronic maverick for remix. The results speak for themselves…





Matthew Herbert remixing Sasha Siem makes perfect sense. In fact this is a no brainer. They both make amazing music, that incorporates elements of jazz and electronica. On Siem’s critically acclaimed debut album Most of the Boys that is exactly what she did. At times you weren’t sure what you were listening to as jazz happily mingled with electro loops, junkyard beats and classical maelstroms. One of the stand out tracks was Proof, and it is no surprise that Herbert has selected this one to remix.





The remix starts with a repetitive vocal loop in front of a hard abrasive beat. Through a gradual nuances, this leads into Siem’s original husky stark vocals. The beat returns, but it has changed subtly and the juxtaposition of it and Siem’s vulnerable voice makes for a pleasantly challenging listen. Throughout the remix Herbert chops up Siem’s delivery, so you’re never sure if the phrase will play out, or be glitched up. This element of surprise stops the track betting boring, despite its plus seven minutes length.





At times this feels like an existential remix. While this sounds like a bizarre thing to say, it is technically true. Instead of just phoning in remix Herbert hasn’t just thought about the original song, but he has re-envisioned it by his own experiences. What we are left with is a track that has a slight resemblance to the original, but at the same time is a totally new track. And isn’t that the point of a good remix anyway?













Colchester’s finest return with first album in over a decade



2003 was an interesting year. Homeland Security was officially formed. Manchester United won the Premier League and Arsenal won the FA Cup. The Human Genome Project was completed. Maurice Gibb, Curt “Mr. Perfect” Henning, Edwin Starr, Nina Simone, Noel Redding, “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Herbie Mann and Elliott Smith all died. Dizzee Rascal won the Mercury Music Prize with this debut album. Girls Aloud had their first number 1 single with Sounds of the Underground. The Libertines were riding high as the ‘best’ band around causing a storm up and down the country, and Blur released their last album Think Tank. To call its gestation difficult would be an understatement. Multiple producers and studios made for such a fractious atmosphere that guitarist Graham Coxon left the group. While Think Tank wasn’t as bad as the reviews said, his presence was defiantly missed.



In the 12 years since Damon Albarn has gone on to be revered as one of the most forward thinking musicians thanks to his Gorillaz, Journey to the West and Dr. Dee projects. Graham Coxon released four more critically acclaimed solo albums. Alex James published a tell-all autobiography, bought a farm and made some cheese and Dave Rowntree directed the animated series Empire Square, became solicitor and a Labour Party candidate. But most importantly Coxon has re-joined Blur and their eighth album The Magic Whip is now released.



Lonesome Street kicks off the proceedings. Sounding like an outtake from Modern Life is Rubbish or Parklife, it’s says “We’re back, but don’t worry, we haven’t gone all electronica. We’re the same band you liked when you were a kid, we’re just a bit older but we still like bouncy indie pop”. New World Towers is a slower, more melancholy song. It has more in common with 13 and Think Tank than their boisterous material. Go Out is a slow burner, but there is an undercurrent of malice and danger to it. At any moment it feels like it could explode in cacophony and distortion. Luckily when this does happen all their teasing is worth it, as the outro is exquisite. I Thought I Was a Spaceman is a more meditative song. It sounds like it was produced by classical electronica act Digitonal. The beats are glitchy and Coxon’s guitar sounds other worldly. I Broadcast is another shouty bouncy slice of indie pop. On on There Are Too Many of Us , through a marching beat, and guitar strums, Albarn channels Scott Walker, musically and lyrically. Ong Ong is the most straightforward track on the album. Its position in the running order couldn’t be better. It’s like a pallet cleanser after a meal before you get the final course. The album closes with Mirrorball. This is another slow burning melancholy number. Musically it sounds like it could be played at the Road House in Twin Peaks, and if finishes off the album perfectly.



So what have we learnt from this new Blur album? Firstly they are still capable of releasing amazing music. There are no bad songs on the Magic Whip and the sequencing is spot on. Secondly they aren’t afraid to embrace their past, as well as continually pushing things forward. Thirdly Coxon’s guitar playing really compliments Albarn’s older, huskier vocals. Their interplay at times is breath taking. There is a downside though, and this is purely an aesthetic one. The title, Magic Whip, and artwork aren’t great and at first it really put me off the album. But luckily the songs outshine the dodgy title and cover.



Albarn has said that this isn’t the end of Blur, given the quality of this album let’s hope he’s right, but don’t leave it another 12 years lads…







Idaho indie legends return with best album in years



What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, other than watching the Secrets of My Success on ITV, is to listen to the new Built to Spill album? Its lethargic sounding mixture of fuzzy indie is perfect for a lazy Sunday. It’s been six years in their last long player, There is No Enemy, but this hiatus has only improved their song writing on new album Untethered Moon.



Opening track All Our Songs kicks the proceedings in fine form. It is six minutes of crunching guitars, driving drums and purring bass. Living Zoo sounds like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs being fronted by Michael Stipe. On the Way has a stompy guitar riff, with country leanings. Some Other Song is reminiscent of Neil Young at his most poignant with old Blackie wailing. The album closes with When I’m Blind, by far the stand out track on the album. In its eight minutes we find Built to Spill doing what they do best, making a massive noise while never losing track of the melody or rhythm.



Untethered Moon is a return to form after a long break. It is possibly the most immediately enjoyable album Built to Spill have ever released. The band sound like they’re having a blast and it comes across in the music. Let’s just hope the follow up isn’t in another six years.







Beat music guru makes his most personal record to date





His tracks are littered with them. In ten years Ras G has releases at least fifteen album and as many EP’s. They range from hip-hop, Sci-Fi electronica, beat music and mind melting Aftocentricly themed albums. You’d think with this prodigiously prolific output the quality might vary. Fortunately not. The quality has always been of the highest quality. One thing you can say about Ras G, he never phones it in his production.





His latest album Down 2 Earth Volume 2 (The Standard Bap Edition), a follow up to the 2011 classic, sees Ras make is most personal album to date. Never one to shy away from his influences 2013’s Back on the Planet was an homage to Sun Ra and everything Afrocentric. As the title gives away, this time his paying tribute to his early influences, 1980’s Hip-Hop and more importantly the Boom Bap movement. You can’t listen to this album without hearing Pete Rock, Lord Finesse and Bomb Squad permeating each track. As Ras G said recently “How kids are about Dilla, that’s how I was for Pete Rock. That’s my foundation” And it shows.





Ras G has successfully taken the codes and conventions of the style and manipulated it, so that it sounds contemporary, rather than a personal nostalgia trip. He’s filled the gaps, left by the laconic beats, with his “Oooooooooooooooooohhhh Raaaaassssssssssss” trademark calling card, air horns and general psychedelic surface noise. Standout track Vero Cai… takes a simple vocal loop, a purring bass and a gentle thumping beat and makes something memorable. Through slowly building, and removing, elements Ras G creates a constant vibe of the summer, BBQ’s, house parties, while keeping the ethos of the project intact.





Yet again Ras G has released a flawless album. The production is as tight as ever, but it never feels constrictive and over complicated. While this is a Boom Bap album, at times it feels like a jazz album. The space that is created by the rigid elements of the mix is filled with lyrical synth loops, luscious vocal samples and vivid textures of gritty surface noise. All you can really say is “Oooooooooooooooooohhhh Raaaaassssssssssss!”
















It’s jazz but not as we know it



What jazz has been missing in recent years is balls. It’s all gotten too safe. Musicians seem content to either re-create the old standards perfectly, without adding anything new, or they’ve gone so far off into abstract avant-garde territories that they’ve forgotten the songs and you need a musical degree just to enter the room.



All this is changing. From a shack in Inglewood, South Central LA, a group of like-minded musicians have got together and created something other worldly. Under the leadership of Kamasi Washington they have created a monster of an album called The Epic, being released on Brainfeeder. Containing 17 tracks and clocking in at 172 minutes it is separated into three sections. Volume 1 is called the Plan. Volume 2 is titled the Glorious Tale and the third and final volume is called the Historic Repetition. The whole piece, as a whole, fits in with a musical daydream about a warrior waiting to be defeated, thus passing the torch to the next generation. Not a bad concept eh?



The first offering from this opus is Miss Understanding. At just short of nine minutes long it sets the scene perfectly. Opening with a minute long crescendo of horns, cymbals, choral vocals, drums and bass it says “Ladies and gentlemen the ride is about to being. Please keep all limbs in the car for the duration. Please refrain from using flash photography” then you are immediately transported away. When the main riff begins to kick in we’re off and running. The bass throbs, the horns squeal at breakneck speed, the cymbals and drums are syncopated and the choir has a dreamlike quality about it. It reminiscent of Miles Davis’ Birth of Cool, but played by kids who know how good they are and want to show off, but never losing sight of the overall track.



What Washington has successfully done is gather around him the best and brightest players, put them through their musical paces, like Miles Davis and Sun Ra did before to see how good they really are. It’s hard, fast and sounds nothing like what is going on at the moment. As Brainfeeder founder Flying Lotus said recently “Washington just plays the craziest shit, man. I mean, everything — the past, present, the future. It’s hard to find unique voices in this music” and Washington is definitely a unique voice!



Given the caliber of Miss Understanding, the Epic is starting to live up to its name. I can’t remember an album I have been this excited about in recent years. When the Epic is finally released I can imagine giving up a whole day to try and learn its secrets. When that day is finished I know that the Epic will be anything but a miss understanding.







Nashville garage quartet channel classic rock on new album



Four albums down and Nashville’s Turbo Fruits have looked to the past for inspiration. On their new album No Control, they channel the Doors, Cheap Trick, Kings of Leon, Ramones and the Strokes, in less than forty minutes without ever sounding like a pastiche.



The albums opener Show Me Something Real kicks things off in fine form. Opening line “Am I holding on, to something that isn’t real, I’m trying to stop by thinking about you, but I just can’t help the way I feel” set ups the album perfectly. This theme of heartache permeates the album. Comeback single Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart message is simple “Don’t let me break your heart again, We’ve been here a million times before, Something about you that I can’t ignore” and later “Always play into each other’s games, Chasing memories never feels the same.” The rest of the album follows in this vein. Tracks named Favourite Girl, Friends rub shoulders with Need to Know, No Reason to Stay and Worry About You. Either way the message is clear. Love isn’t easy.





In the years, since 2012’s Butter, Turbo Fruit has grown up. This is the sound of a band that not only enjoys what they’re doing, but also has something to say. Musically they have grown up too. No Control sounds cleaner and most focused than their previous efforts. This is in part down to the Black Keys Patrick Carney, who produced the album. While they have lost a lot of the fuzz and feedback, what he has uncovered beneath are fantastic melodies and sublime hooks.



The closing lines of the album “Take my pain away, I wish I could have you one more time” seem to bookend the opening perfectly. Luckily we can experience it again just by pressing play. In a world of tribute acts, sound-a-likes and revivalists, Turbo Fruits show they still have plenty to say and are in complete control of their musical destiny, even if their love lives are in tatters.







Odd Future’s favourite son returns with minimal second album



Since Odd Future first bust no the scene in 2008 Earl Sweatshirt became a fan favourite. After the release of his debut mixtape, 2010’s Earl, his mother sent him from LA to a school in Samoa, prompting chant Free Earl to be yelled at their frenetic live shows. When Odd Future signed to Sony Music, many questioned whether Earl would be part of the deal. Luckily he was and with 2013’s debut Doris, named after his Grandmother, he cemented his place as one of the most exciting new rappers out there.



Since Doris however Earl Sweatshirt has gone back to basics on the ironically called “I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t to Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt”. The production is as stark and minimal as anything an Odd Future member has released thus far. Apart from Off Top, the production was all down to Earl. And it shows. Like the title states, the music has a slightly woozy claustrophobic feel, as the lyric from lead single Grief backs up “Good Grief, I been reaping what I sowed/N***a, I ain’t been outside a minute/I been living what I wrote”





While Doris was chocked full of guest spots, fellow OFWGKTA members Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis were joined by Wu-Tang’s RZA, this time Earl is pretty much on his own. While the tracks feel more coherent, there is a lack of texture to the vocals. Luckily the savvy lyrical content makes up for this. “I spent the day drinking and missing my grandmother/Just grab a glass and pour up some cold white wine” A more than subtle reference to Doris and later on the track Inside “My first apartment was/Really covered with roaches/Cause n****s was really smoking”. This is the power of Earl’s lyrics. Just when you think you understand, he throws in something at the end and you’re meaning is totally changed.



On previous albums Earl has come across immature and churlish. This has been stripped away on I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t to Go Outside. Instead we find an artist brave enough to explain the world as he sees it and stand on his own and follow through with his musical convictions. Earl’s rhymes are erudite and razor sharp. The beats are game changing. Earl is definitely now free!







Dutch producer releases changeling, but entertaining EP on classic label



Ninja Tune is a classic label. Since its inception in 1991 it is continually put out strong release after strong release. Due to changes in music, not all of this music fitted in with Ninja’s original ethos, so sub labels were created. One of the more recent additions of these sub labels is Technicolour. Employing a more leftfield aesthetic, since 2012 Technicolour has released ten EP’s that cater to those who enjoy the small room in clubs. Their tenth release, and first for the label, is by Dutch producer Danny Wolfers, AKA Legowelt.



Wolfers describes his music as “a hybrid form of slam jack combined with deep Chicago house, romantic ghetto techno funk and Euro Horror Soundtrack”. While this might seem slightly abstract, it makes sense when you listen to Anaconda Flow. Opening track Evaporate with Me 2 Infinity starts with a hard repetitive beat. After a few bars a keyboard riff enters the mix and starts to take the hard edge off the beat. Then a heavy bass kicks in and through clever production, and mixing, the track goes through cycles and phrases, some lyrical and playful, others just hard and heavy, until it ends six minutes later. Evaporate with Me 2 Infinity just a great opening track, but a statement of intent. It says “This EP is hard, repetitive, but there is an element of playfulness to it”. Title track Anaconda Flow carries on where Evaporate with Me 2 Infinity left off. While not being as hard hitting, the interplay between synth and beat is exquisite and dreamlike at times. Never Not U Know carries on in this vein but is faster. The intro synth envelopes you like a mist, before the beat pierces it and sets you on your way. Final track Eternal Flux is not just a perfect closer to this EP, but the stand out track as well. It contains a bass that is nigh on impossible not to hum along with.



With Anaconda Flow, Wolfers has successfully made an EP that caters to fans of European house, but with enough quirky and invention to keep the leftfield fans happy. Never an easy feat! As his twitter handle says he is a Renegade of the New Age, after hearing this EP you can’t help buy agree with him.







Experimental psychedelic unit release electro infused EP



Sounding like the Doctor Who theme remixed by Slugabed DR:WR’s Staring At The Light For Far Too Long is twelve minutes of bouncy electro uplifting psychdelica. Throughout its duration the tension is slowly built up, taken down and built up again by subtle changes in pitch and a never ending synth loop.



What makes Staring At The Light For Far Too Long such great listen is despite its gargantuan length it never gets boring. Just when you think you’ve got is worked out, it skews another way and carries on in that vein until it skews again.



Rumour has it that they are currently working on a long player, given the quality and depth of Staring At The Light For Far Too Long and last year’s excellent Trippin’ Daggers Inner Skull Metal Blade Musique EP, DR:WR are definitely a band to keep an eye, and ear out for.







This morning I woke up and thought “You know what, I can’t be bothered with Record Store Day this year”. Twenty minutes after waking I realised I had made the right choice. Social media had exploded with pictures and stories of woe. A quick look at ebay showed that not everyone’s intentions were good. 600 items and counting



While touts are morally wrong, what they are doing isn’t illegal. They got up early and queued up like everyone else, and then put their ill-gotten gains on eBay and Discogs. My problem with touts is they depriving someone something they were after. I have no problem with other collectors and fans getting something I was after, but selling it online for massive profit it feels the same as losing a cup final by an own goal.



A lot has been written about RSD latey. Some are for it Dave Grohl and Rough Trade, some are against Howling Owl and Sonic Cathedral. The jury is still out as to how RSD will go in the future, but unless the lists are strong and the pointless re-issues are capped then it could just be another day where touts and rich kids rule.







It’s that time of year again when Record Store Day rears its ugly head. What started off as a great idea has been co-opted by dark powers and is just another day for the industry to make money. I know parts of that last sentence might make me sound a little naïve, but I’m really not. I know very well that the bottom line for every label, from indie to major, is profit. You need to make money from your releases so you can either sign new bands, or have enough for another album or single. What I don’t like about RSD is how in recent years the list is full of needless re-issues. Who’s really going to get the re-issue of Aerosmith or David Bowie when the original albums are still available? I know some might say “But it’s 180 gram vinyl, it’s the best sound quality ever” While this is slightly true, if you don’t have the best deck, mixer and speakers you’re wasting your money and time.



Despite this opening diatribe, there are some releases in this year’s list that do look good enough to warrant getting up at 5, to be out the house at 6 to be in the queue for 7 to get, so when the doors open at 9 you stand a reasonable chance of getting them.



First up are Kitty, Daisy and Lewis-Baby Bye Bye


What makes this a classic RSD release comes down to two things. Firstly it’s a picture disc. RSD LOVES a picture disc. Secondly it features an unlikely collaboration. SlimKid3 from the Pharcyde is guesting on the track. As far as RSD collaborations go this is up there! I have no idea how this will actually sound overall, but as the video below shows it’s very similar to the original track. Will there be a verse here and there from SlimKid3, or it will be totally remixed and end up sounding like the clip all the way through. Either way I’m going to try and hunt it down.





Next up is !!!-All You Writers/Gonna Guetta Stomp



!!! have been going for more years than I care to remember. All You Writers/Gonna Guetta Stomp is their first new material since 2013 Thr!!!ler album. The press release says “All U Writers maintains that quintessential !!! trait of blending electronic and organic elements in dance”. This is true. What the press release doesn’t say is that it’s bloody addictive and after one listen you’ll want to hear it again and again and again! Personally this is the best thing !!! has done for a while, and reminds me what I liked about them originally. Another reason to get it on Saturday.





Third on the list is The Wytches-Wastybois.



These Brighton noise mongers have be delighting me for a while now and their debut album last year showed that they were well worthy of the praise they’d received. Wastybois is a split double A-Side with Hooton Tennis. RSD loves a split double A-Side, as much as it loves coloured and picture discs. Will this rank as highly as Mastodon and Fiest remains to be seen, but given the quality of this four minute banger I’m going to try my best to get it home.





Lastly I have picked David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto-Bamboo Huoses/Bamboo Music



While I don’t usually like re-issues on RSD this one is too good to not mention. Originally released in 1982 this slice of synth post-punk sounds a fresh as it did then. Now re-mastered and with new artwork, this RSD version is a must have in any purveyor of early electronica.





There are a few other items on this year’s list that I’m after, but if I mention them then I run the risk of missing out. While this has a cavalier attitude to it, it’s sadly also a part of RSD’s problem.











Southern shoegazers remaster and reignite back catalogue



The Death of Pop constantly releases music that makes me smile. I can’t really work out how they do it. Probably it’s a combination of beautiful melodies buried under the noise of tortured guitars and slice of life lyrics. New album Runts is chocked full of all of these things, plus more.



The track listing should be familiar to any fan of the band, as ten of the tracks were released on last year’s Two Thousand and Thirteen compilation. These ten tracks have been extensively remastered and, not getting into techie territory, they sound totally different from their original incarnations. There is an urgency that was missing from the original. The remaining four tracks are brand new. Can’t Be Blame, When We’re Awake and Keep Me Guessing all previously unreleased, the last track is the original four track demo for Kiss Me Quickly (Kill Me). Through limited production techniques XXXXX.



What the Death of Pop successfully has done with the new songs on Runts, is they’ve taken their original sound, but added a melancholic eighties vibe to. It shows that they are capable of touching the heart strings as well thrashing about.



The album is limited to 100 CD’s, so get in there now or forever hold your peace… and have to trawl record fares for a copy.








New Jersey trip hoppers release new beat tape



Stoner 63 is the latest release from Grimm Doza. This New Jersey group have pushed the boundaries of where beat music can go. Instead of spending too long getting to the crux of track, they jump straight in with the hook. From there they take the listener on a hypnotic and relaxing journey.



The album jumps from library music samples, space hip-hop, jazz infused breaks, Wu-Tang inspired instrumentals and full on filthy bangers. Stand out track Gwap showcases the deftness of their production. Opening with muffled beats, akin to being under water, the filter changes and everything is clear. From then on the track meanders through jazzy bass until it’s logical conclusion.



This isn’t a perfect album though. Some of the tracks feel far too short and some of the tracks feel like demos that haven’t been realised fully. Having said that, Stoner 63 is incredibly addictive and even after a few listens it doesn’t get boring.







Brighton Lo-Fi artist announces new album and single



Last year Max Levy AKA King of Cats released Working Out. It was twenty nine minutes of heart wrenching honesty that divided as many people as it won over. Incorrect is the new single from forthcoming album Microwave Oven. What Levy has effectively done is take the avant-garde elements of Working Out, but coupled it with a catchy melody.



The video for Incorrect is great too. Levy and Joey Four have made a surreal love story about an alien who doesn’t take rejection too well. To call it surreal is an understatement! Incorrect’s video contains the same fuzzy lo-fi charm the song does, but it covers it in tinfoil.



Microwave Oven is available to pre-order now through the good folks at Art Reeks. Given the calibre of Working Out and this single, Microwave Oven should be anything but incorrect!







Shunkan return with new single/comic combo



In just under two minutes Shunkan have made my day. Having spent the last three days in Poland, I need a bit of normality in my life. Normality for me comes in the form of catchy indie pop. What’s more you get an A6 comic too, thanks to illustrators extraordinaire Hats and Milk.



This is the first new material Shunkan has released since last year’s wonderful Honey, Milk and Blood. While there is slightly a change in sound, ethereal shoegazing moments have been replaced with catchy hooks and breakneck playing, there is still plenty of punch.



Rumour has it that there is an album in the works. If this two minute slice is anything to go by, Shukan will easily live up to their initial hype!







The Crooked Man purges his hard drive in musical spring clean



For nine years Matthew Pritchard AKA Lupen Crook has transfixed me. Ever since I first heard him and saw him live he’s been an ever present spectre in my life. I dread to think how many days I’ve spent listening to his music or how many more days I will spend? These are questions whose answers are best left unknown. In those nine years he has released five full albums, at least fifteen singles and EP’s and a couple of odds and sods compilations. However since 2013 he’s been quiet. That is until this month. Since the start of April he has released a live album (XFM Sessions), a Best of (Single Life 2005 – 2012) and a collection of some of twenty six B-Sides and rarities (B-Sides of Life). Let’s hope that this sudden spurt of activity is because he is cleaning his house, conscious, and some new material it in the near future.



After listening to these new collections, what strikes me is how rich and vibrant these songs are. They contain an honesty that has been lacking from British singer songwriters in recent years. Instead of writing singles and trying to get his face on billboards and buses, Crook has always strived to be honest and portray what’s going on around him. Breakthrough single Lucky 6 is about child abuse and its follow up Halloween is about trick and treating, but through a simple chord progression with a few decisive words into something far more sinister than getting chocolate and egging doors.



Musically he’s all over the shops too. Blood Letter Baby has a klezmer vibe to it, Chasing Dragons is a full on rocker, Junk ‘n Jubilee, as the name suggests, has a junkyard feel to it. The Hidden Track is a lo-fi lament that tugs at the heart strings “I’m as drunk as a poet but I ain’t got no words, There’s nothing for me to say that you ain’t said first, So this is my song for the death dumb and blind, This is my sympathy, My last goodbye”. Sunshine Devils is about mental illness, and the optimism of a new morning after surviving a harrowing night.




What these albums show is that although the charts are dominated by over produced slick pop and fame hungry guitar pluckers, there are musicians out there who constantly try and create music that not only entertains us, but challenges us too. It puts a mirror to society, warts and all, and asks us to look at it for what it is. Let’s hope that the Crooked Man picks up his guitar again and leads the charge against torpid music and reactionary bands.







LA’s unsung eclectic producer returns with second album of the year



Los Angeles is a hot bed of creativity. It’s a fact. There must be something in the water out there. In recent years there has been a renaissance with electronic music equalling LA’s heady musical past. One of the new breed of zealots is Miguel Baptista Benedict. Through ingenious production techniques and a never ending desire to push boundaries, Baptista Benedict has created some of my most treasured memories in recent years. Earlier in the year he released Bedsores (Regurgitations and Loops), an album based on sleep paralysis. It was haunting, but incredibley listenable, needless to say it was leading the charge for not only album of the month, but of the year too.



Now Baptista Benedict is back with a new album, that he claims is “the beginning chapter to my magnum opus”. When I asked him what the new album was about he replied “thematically expressed as paganism, christian and satanic theology, as well as sonic expression of personal encounters with culture, society and/or polygamist and self-serving rituals” I asked where the title came from, the answer was just as pragmatic and ambiguous “the name derived of symbols from what it means to be a caretaker, versus what it means to find oneself in the position of searching for symbolic figures or apparitions in which to surrender to”



Musically it sounds exactly like Baptista Benedict explained, but there is a heavy dollop of psychedelica. Opening track Daddy sets up loops being run backwards and forwards at the same time and different speeds, while a level of surface noise has been added on top, so everything is a bit merky. Dramaturgy is a change for Baptista Benedict, as it incorporates vocals until it all glitches out, then after maelstrom after musical maelstrom is ends all Apocalypse Now, with the sound of slow rotor blades. Oratory Confinement is back to what Baptista Benedict does best, lo-fi acoustic instruments manipulated to create lurid dreamlike soundscapes.



What Baptista Benedict has proved again is that all you really need to create forward thinking music is vision and ideas, but massive budgets and endless deadlines. Daddy is by far one of the most beguiling and visionary releases of the year. Rumour has it there is more to follow, and everyone at thisyearinmusic towers is chomping at the bit to hear it!







Second album from Brainfeeder’s UK resident is the perfect soundtrack to modernity



“Whenever I think about the album I think about the bar scene in The Shining,” Lapalux said recently “There’s something about that strange, hallucinatory, psychological madness that relates to the music.” This is a fair assessment of Stuart Howard’s new album Lustmore. While writing and arranging the album Howard was influenced by soundtracks, this comes across in Lustmore. Anyone who’s heard a Gabriel Yared or Vangelis soundtrack can’t help but pick up their presence.



Opening track U Never Know features the husky vocals of Andreya Triana. It’s a wonky soundscape that sets the album up perfectly. It tells you that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill electronic album. It has substance and things are always what they seem. Sum Body is full of constant and ever changing loops and delays. Midnight Peelers has a cinematic feel to it. It’s reminiscent of Cliff Martinez’s Drive score in its reimaging of 1980’s synths, but with an element of sleaze and filth added for good measure. We Lost gives us a rare opportunity he hear Howard sing. The song is about the end of a relationship. It has a R&B groove, but is grounded through glitch beats and woozy synths. Puzzle sees Triana back in the fold. It’s a simple song that has been ripped apart and put back together to create four minutes of future soul. Don’t Mean a Thing is an anomaly on the album. It is consistent with what has come before it, but at the same time it is a lot harder than the rest of the album. It twists and skews through Aphex Twin territory, but there is an element of Ry Cooder to it too. It’s the stand out track on the album.



On his debut album Nostalchic, Howard showed he wasn’t a flash in the pan and could deliver a consistent album. Lustmore shows that he’s more than a woozy glitch peddler. He has created thirteen tracks that on the surface tick all the boxes, but after repeat listens you realise how rich an album Howard has created. More of the same please!







South coast indie pop group live up to early promise



For a year I’ve been waiting for this Bournemouth quartet to release a new song. Last year’s Procrastination Jam was enough to wet my appetite. Wonky synths weaved perfectly with lackadaisical drums, while the whole time giving cheeky grins. It was great, but I wanted more. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed with their latest offering.



Following a similarly laidback beat, What Did I Do Wrong sounds like Sean Lennon fronting an indie lounge group, yes that is a genre, while they play a slow one for all the couples in the crowd. The synths are soulful, the guitars ooze and the bass practically purrs.



While it is still early days for Husband Material I am officially starting to get excited about this band, and if you had any sense you would too!







Alternative chauntress’ second album is anything but disposable!



Nadine Shah has come a long way in a short time. Her 2013 debut album, Love Your Mum and Dad, came out of leftfield, and was an instant classic. It contained 11 songs of heartache, death, redemption and ultimately love. You know, like a good Mike Leigh film.



Now she is back with new album Fast Food. Love and heartache are still the main themes, but the songs have a richer, almost cinematic quality about them. Shah said recently “My favourite love stories are the unconventional ones. The ones that aren’t like rom-coms because those aren’t the real stories, that’s not how it actually happens. For years I had this romanticised ideal of what love would be. I thought it would be perfect and that I would always be someone’s first love but as you get older, people have been in love before. That’s a large part of what Fast Food is about, the sudden realisation that you’re never going to be anybody’s first love ever again.” That basically sums up the album.



Open track Fast Food has a stomping beat, when coupled with the lyrical content, it keeps you captivated until the end. In Fool Shah sings “And I guessed your favourites one by one, And all to your surprise, From damned Nick Cave to Kerouac, They stood there side by side” then “You, my sweet, are a fool, You, my sweet, are plain and weak, Go let the other girls, Indulge the crap that you excrete” It’s a song about knowing exactly what someone is like and what they’re going to do before it happens. Divided is where the album goes up a notch. Shah shows off not only her skill as a lyricists, but her voice too. Her soulful voice soars above droney bass and abrasive guitars. Nothing Else to Do is has a simple lyric “And there was nothing else to do, but fall in love”. This repeats again and again like a mantra, as the slightly wonky music box melody builds and builds until it’s faltering outro. Stealing Car is a full blown indie pop gem. Possibly one of the best singles of the year so far. It’s shows Shah can do pop as well as brooding ballads.



Shah, and producer Ben Hillier, have created 10 songs that fulfil the promise of Love Your Mum and Dad, but add a stronger musical backbone to Shah’s autobiographical stories. If you ever doubted Shah’s talent, this is the album that proves it. There is a stark authenticity running through the album that makes it hard to not only turn off, but shake off after it’s finished.







Edinburgh trio return with follow up to last year’s all conquering DEAD



How many times in the past have you bought an album by a new group and fallen in love with them, then when the next one is released only to feel slightly disappointed? Where were all the wonderful ideas and clever hooks? Nas, the Libertines, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Daft Punk and a slew of others we’re talking about you!



When I heard that the second Young Fathers album was coming out, I was hopeful. Last year’s DEAD was one of the most forward thinking pieces of music I have ever heard. In thirty four minutes it completely re-imagined what a Hip-Hop album could, and more importantly, SHOULD be. Against the odds it won the Mercury Music Prize, and all eyes were on Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and G Hastings. Expectation for their second album was even higher. Luckily I had nothing to worry about as White Men Are Black Men Too is equal to their debut.



Open track Still Running is a call to arms. “Your gonna die in my arms (oooh oooh), Hiding from the torture (Where where), Fire’s what you’re under” It contains Young Fathers’ incendiary production, but instead of hitting the ground running, it takes it’s time to build up before it punches you in the face, musically speaking. Feasting sounds like the Tales of the Unexpected theme in places. This plays into their hands with lyrics like “I’m just feasting with panthers, Rolling around in their shit, You won’t leave with answers, I still believe you love me”



What Young Fathers have expertly produced is an album that is as rich as their debut, but it doesn’t feel like repetition. After a first listen White Men Are Black Men Too appears as dense as molasses and totally impenetrable, but after a few more listens you realise that it is eminently penetrable. Once you have penetrated it you realise how rich an album it is. It isn’t just lyrically rich, but the layers and texture of the music are perfect to be dissected. Sirens is Urban Gospel, with hints of the Akira soundtrack to it. Old Rock ‘n’ Roll starts off sounding like a demented music box, then it jumps to tribal dance/ceremony until it ends in a crescendo of alarm clocks. Nest re-wires a Wurlitzer and through some minimal production creates something that not only yearns for the past, but shows the future too.



This time last year I was exalting the debut album from an almost unknown Hip-Hop group (, since then I haven’t stopped exalting them. After hearing White Men Are Black Men Too, a lot, I expect to be exalting them for the rest of this year and well in to the next.







Dutch synth producer re-releases missed treasure



The term New Age was banded about in the 1990’s to anything that was slightly ethereal and synth heavy, sadly it meant a lot of great stuff was completely dismissed by the majority of the public, due to a stereotype involving crystals and tie-die.



The Holy Trees by Dutch producer Arnaud van Beek show’s how wrong this stereotype was. He has cleverly crafted nine tracks that while seeming serene are packed full of power and imagination. After a full on Bank Holiday of BBQ’s, excursions socialising this is the perfect answer.



If you are a fan of the soaring synth majesty of Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk with the New Age twist of Yanni this is for you. If you aren’t, then you should listen to this album anyway.







North London melody peddlers return



Last year Hunck showed that you didn’t have to employ face melting guitar tricks to create forward thinking music. This week they have returned with new single So Far So Deep. This is a slow burning three minutes, showing that less certainly does deliver more.



So Far So Deep is crammed full of melody and pathos that it takes a few listens to penetrate its core. After this has happened, you experience luscious, gooey production that is hard to extract from your ears. On this weekend especially, this is the musical equivalent of a cream egg!



Rumour has it that Thom, Fred and Co. are carefully crafting a long player, and it should be out later this year. If this, and last year’s Something Missing EP, are anything to go by, it could be one of the high water marks of 2015!



Hunck are playing at the Finsbury on April 16th, also on the bill are friends of thisyearinmusic Two Hands. This looks set to be an amazing night of music. Miss at your peril…







The sound of the Summer just arrived, and it’s jangly!



The words Spanish, Jangly and Indie don’t normally go together. But in Beach Beach’s case this is exactly what they do. This Spanish quartet’s second album, the Sea, is a collection of Sun infused guitar pop classics.



Sounding like the Pale Fountains going skiffle while on holiday in Catalonia, there is an element of fun to these songs seldom heard in today’s crop of guitar worriers. Opening track Friendly is an instrumental. Only at the end of its sixty seconds to you realise that you didn’t miss the lack of lyrics at all. Just Like Before opens with a barrage brazen guitar chords, until the melody, and lyrics, kick in. A Weak Song is more of the Sun drenched same. The rest of the album follows this simple, but effective, pattern. Massive Big intro followed by verse/melody, then a chorus, more verses and choruses until the outro. At times there are elements of the Smiths thrown in, but instead of a morose, self-deprecating vibe, it is replaced with one that seems to says “Everything’s gonna be alright as long as we’re together and the Sun is out”. And what’s wrong with that?



As Spring is rapidly approaching this is the perfect album to help remove the cobwebs of Winter. It should be the official soundtrack to every BBQ in the land. Playing it should be the only way to ensure that your sausages and burgers don’t get burned and your salad isn’t soggy.







Because every Bank Holiday needs a soundtrack…



Another Bank Holiday has descended over the nation. Whether it’ll be a classic Bank Holiday is down to you, so you better make it a great one! Every Bank Holiday needs a soundtrack, over the years mine have been back by Britpop, Acid Techno, Hip-Hop and show tunes, and that was all in one car journey!



This time I have decided to stick to a specific genre, and picked some of my favourite Northern Soul tracks. For those of your not in the know, Northern Soul is a genre used to describe obscure American Soul records. In the late 1960s to the early 1970s, this music was King in the North of England and cities like Manchester, Wigan and Blackpool were the epicentres of this scene.



While I was never able to go to any of the original club nights, the venues shut many years before I was born, I have always had a love for this music, and have regularly attended Northern Soul nights wherever I’ve been living. This list is full of tracks that have made me bop and spin whenever I heard them played



Richard Temple-That Beatin’ Rhythm



What I really like about this is that, not only does it having a driving beat, always a plus for a Northern Soul track, but it’s production and arrangement is super tight, another plus point for it.





Lilian Dupree-Hide and Seek



Any song that makes an adult yearn to play Hide and Seek always gets my vote! The song is basically one massive chorus, as Hide and Seek is said throughout the verses as well as the chorus.





The Flirtations-Nothing but a Heartache



In my honest opinion this is possibly the one finest pieces of Northern Soul there. It contains everything you need. Lamenting lyrics, soaring vocals, a 4/4 beat and uplifting chords.





Major Lance-It’s the Beat



One of the major features of the Northern Soul scene was that each DJ would claim they were the only person to have a record. I’ve been to a lot of Northern Soul nights and the only place I ever heard this was at a night in Bournemouth. Whenever it played the place went NUTS as they knew they wouldn’t hear it played out again for a while.




Shirley Ellis-Soul Time



“It’s time for Soul Time” is a line that sends goose bumps through my body! Can you pick out the sample that the Go! Team used? Bonus point if you name the track it was sampled in…





Shane Martin-I Need You



Another heartbroken song here. What is about mournful lyrics coupled with uplifting music?





Keep the Faith!







DIY never sounded so good!



Currently there is a movement in the Capital of bands ditching walls of feedback, to create something more subdued, melancholy and intimate. YOOFS, King TV and the Tamborines are at the forefront of this scene. Sea of Murmur is the second album from the Tambornies. Instead of fuzz soaked tracks, this sophomore album is chocked full of simple lo-fi power pop gems. Opting for the less is more technique has given this duo the ability to create something that shows off their intensity, as well as their ability to write touching lyrics.



Opening track Another Day has starts with a hypnotic riff, that’s as catchy as it is simple. However it’s the chorus that’s the real kicker “Something always rhymes with goodbye”. There is something in Henrique Laurindo voice that tells you, these aren’t just words he’s put together, this is something that he’s lived through. And it’s this honesty that really comes across in the music. This collection of songs wasn’t written to hit a hit, or because the album needed filling out a bit, oh no, they were written because they had to be.



While Sea of Murmur is a strong album, it’s tracks to tend to blur into each, due to the lack of musical diversity. I totally understand that when you strip everything down there aren’t a lot of places you can go, but a fuzzing up a couple of the tracks would have been a subtle change to the texture of the album.








Things we have learnt in March



BNJMN is slowly becoming a pivotal player in the world of dance music.





Sweden’s Seaside Heights look like the real deal, as indie-pop breakthrough stars this year





The weird and lurid story of Death Grips might not be as over as originally suspected, as they are now back on the road again





Even if you lose a member and slightly change your sound it doesn’t stop Portico from releasing another strong album





Sasha Siem has not only released one of the years standout albums, she puts on one hell of a life show too!





And finally you don’t need to head to East London to see a slew of brilliant new bands thanks to the Du Bellows, Dolls, Two Hands, Ella and the Blisters, Odd Rival and the Hanwell Hootie!









London trio prove they’re worth the hyperbole and adulation on new single



London based Yak have been creating a stir since they first emerged on London’s live scene last year. Since then they’ve released the excellent Hungry Heart single, destroyed audiences whenever they’ve played and started generating the kind of mythology that all bands need to separate them from the also-rans. You know stuff like jamming with Thurston Moore, hanging out with Courtney Taylor in Portland, selling furniture to Jason Pearce and having John Coxon help out on your early demos doesn’t hurt either.



Now they’ve returned with new EP Plastic People. Yak has the knack of writing music that hankers to a different time, but sounds fresh and exciting. Their brand of garage psych-sludge psychobilly channels the Cramps, Birthday Party, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, but never losing sight of the track through a cacophony of guitars, yells and feedback. It’s the kind of music that makes you glad to be alive!



The Chinese astrology system got it wrong when they said that 2015 was the year of the goat. Given the impressive Plastic People EP, and the hint that more releases are in the pipeline, 2015 looks set to be the year of Yak. But isn’t a yak just a bigger and better goat anyway?








Brighton’s new-wave pop group deliver the goods on new EP



Fickle Friend’s new EP’s release couldn’t have been timed better. The Velvet EP was made for the summer. It oozes fun and you can almost feel the Sun’s fading rays on you during the title track. The bass surges and Natassja Shine’s vocals are the perfect juxtaposition to the downtempo disco beats.



While the music is a joyous up tempo affair, the lyrics reveal a slightly darker theme. It’s their ability to seamlessly mix these two schools perfectly that makes them truly something to get excited about. What’s more the promise of their early singles, especially Swim, appears to be being fully realised. Their current home Killing Moon records have a real talent on their hands, and rumour has it that there is more in the offing later this year, when they finish their UK tour.



Expect to hear this lot soundtracking the lives of some real life fickle friends on Made in Chelsea soon!










To celebrate the release of the new Gnar Hest album Void Rider, and as it’s Bank Holiday and it suits my mood everyone here at thisyearinmusic towers has decided to put our collective heads together and pick some highlight from Matt’s previous musical guises. To call Matt’s output prolific is not only a disservice to his release rate and to the definition of the word. So far this year he’s released three albums, one single, EP and compilation and rumour has it there are more releases on the horizon.





First up there its Klad Hest. Matt describes the album Impaled Breath as “electro jams”. This is a pretty astute description. Musically it’s a psychotic soundtrack to a video game that was never made. Fast paced, action packed addictive sum it up pretty well. This Streets of Rage on speed and seven pints of snakebite suicide!








Fairnorns-Satan Replicant was the first release that showed Matt’s vision and scope. While this is ultimately an EP, it’s four tracks clock in just less than thirty minutes. The sound is a lot more lo-fi doom noise than the prog electro mutant disco of the 2012 album Doki-Doki-Run. Out of all of Matt’s output this is one that has probably been played the most at thisyeairnmusic towers.








After listening to Knife Liibrary-Drowners you think “YES! He’s bloody nailed it!” for thirty nine minutes its down tempo piano, a bit of organ and howling vocals, with those goose bump giving eerie chants in the background. Matt describes it as “reacting against the timidness of so much acoustic music”. The piano and vocals were recorded in a café after it’d had closed. This gives is an haunting quality that makes it impossible to forget after you’ve heard it.








After Knife Liibrary, you sometimes want something more bombastic, but the MXLX-Go Away is the perfect follow up. Call them companion pieces of bookends, but they do work well back to back. It’s a very acoustic album, guitar and vocals, and not much else. Unlike Drowners there is dark humour that pervades it. While this isn’t for everyone one it’s one of the most complete and concise albums that Matt has made. Next to Knife Liibrary this is essential listening.







While a lot of what Matt does is him sitting on his own in a pantheon of keyboards, guitars, amps, overfilled ashtrays*, Speed the Plough is him in a band. A really, really heavy band. After his previous releases the two Speed the Plough releases feel like anomalies, but it’s just another extension of Matt’s experimental doom sensibility. Sadly the chance of new Speed the Plough releases is slightly limited as two of the members are in London and Matt’s in Bristol, but we all live in hope.



* This is how I picture him making music anyway








In March matt releases a new MXLX single. This had the cryptic title of I Set in Motion a Course of Strings Over the Abyss and Let the Sonorities Bellow Forth in Dysphoric Jubilee. While it only contained two tracks they are possibly the most condensed MXLX tracks out there. The A-Side opens to the sound of knives being sharpened, gas escaping and faux-Gregorian chants, then it gets down to business. The B-Side is more ethereal and dreamlike.







Fairhorns-FUCKUP RUSH is looking like being the album of the year. It’s been three years since the last Fairhorns long payer Doki Doki Run. While that was a a Kraut-Prog mutant disco doom folk bonanza, this time Matt’s gone for a more electronic Motorik John Carpenter vibe. The music is hard aggressive, but the lyrics really showcase Matt’s ability to turn a phrase, and write a catchy chorus. At first the album seems random and jam like, but as the sleeve notes says “Everything is intentional”. On this Fairhorns album Matt is starting to live up to his initial promise and releasing forward thinking music that not only pummels you into submission, but is enjoyable to play whatever your mood.







The latest addition to Matt’s burgeoning back catalogue is Gnar Hest-Void Rider. Like with the Klad Hest releases the music sounds to be inspired by retro video game music. However unlike Klad Hest everything was painfully and systematically planned out and programmed by hand. No midi keyboards were harmed in the making of Void Rider. This is another step forward for Matt.









September 4th – 6th. Myrtle Park. Bingley. Bradford. West Yorkshire. These dates ones you should book off work, as the Bingley Music Festival is back! This years festival is shaping up to be an unmissable weekend or music and entertainment. The line-up is one of the strongest of this year’s festivals. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t miss West Yorkshire’s hidden festival secret!



Deaf School



Appearing on the Discovery Stage are Liverpool’s art rock pioneers Deaf School. Since the mid 1970s Deaf School have been mixing cabaret, Punk, vaudeville and New Wave, and challenging and winning over audience’s wherever they’ve played. This is one band that you will definitely not want to miss seeing live!








Psychedelic, broody, heavy, atmospheric and loud are four words to describe Leeds based Weirds. Their brand of raucous psych should win over any festival go-er. At the end of their blistering live set, a new group of fans will emerge and help spread the word of this exciting four piece.





Tom Prior



No every musician has the ability to write engaging thought provoking lyrics while delivering flawless music. This is exactly what Tom Prior does. Even at this early stage in his career he is being compared to the Streets for his honest lyrical portrayal of Britain in 2015. Musically however he’s more akin to Alex Turner and Jamie T’s brand of heavy melodic stomping indie anthems. Remember his name, as he looks set to be around for a while!







Mattie Vant writes the kind of indie pop songs that only come out of turmoil. Originally from the North East of England, Vant moved to Brighton and then finally to London where his plans for World domination are being orchestrated. Ripping up venues across the UK this year already, VANT looks set to blow Bingley apart in September. Remember you heard them here first!





Super Furry Animals



Super Furry Animals. SFA. Super Blewog Anifeiliaid or however you want to call them needs no introduction. SFA have returned after a five year hiatus with a fire in their heart and belly to reclaim their spot at the top of the UK’s live scene. If their recent comeback shows are anything to go by, this will be a hit and run, pack full of hits and fan favourites. If you miss this band at Bingley you will rue it until the day you die!





So what are you waiting for? Click on the link below to have one of the best weekends. Ever!





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