Monthly Archives: June 2014

Matthew McQueen’s sophomore album contains every popular genre over the last few years, kind of



Matthewdavid’s second album is wonderful. When McQueen released his debut album (Outmind) on Brainfeeder in 2011 I fell musically in love. It was a classic Brainfeeder album. It was chocked full of wonky beats, woozy synths and enough glitch to make Max Headroom look normal. I played it constantly for weeks. It was (and still is) wonderful. Then as always happens something else came along, now I have a new album to get excited about.



In My World picks up where Outmind left off. The only differences are that instead of it all sounding similar to a dreamy soundscape they sound more like McQueen’s influences. The album runs the gambit of (pretty much) every musical style that has been popular over the last 20-30 years. There are elements of techno, ambient, house, pop, R&B, hip-hop and even folk.Plus a lot of Prince for good measure. These added touches help to give the songs an individual feel. This is one thing that was missing on the first album, it felt more like a mix in places than 12 songs. My only complaint with this new approach (and the album) is that at times there is a jolt between the tracks when the genres slightly clash. I know that my last few comments are contradictory in places, but after you play both albums a few times (and then play them back-to-back) you should get what I mean.



Overall this is a good album. Personally it isn’t as enjoyable as the first, but it does take more risks, and in the wider scheme of things, is probably better. Time will tell if this get the repeats Outmind did, but going on the first 48 hours it’s looking like it will.






Matthewdavid – Artforms



June 2014






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This is a new feature I’m going to drop in every once and a while. It’s called Underrated\Overrated. Each time I will select an album that I feel is, this might shock you, either overrated or underrated and I’ll try and explain why. No doubt this will descend into me just being pedantic, petty, mean and over opiniated, but it should kill sometime and it might make your rethink something that you’d forgotten. For the first one I’ve picked R.E.M.-Monster. Personally this is the most important R.E.M. since Reckoning and Green.



Monster was released in 1994. Before its release R.E.M. said they were recording a rock album. People got excited. When it was finally released in September 1994, some fans were disappointed as it was the rock album they expected. Personally I loved it. This was probably because I didn’t know much about them before I’d heard it and I wasn’t comparing it to anything. Another reason why it might have received a slightly lukewarm reception, is that in 1994 US Alt-Rock was at its height and grunge was king. So this was definitely an influence on the album (Thurston Moore features on crush with Eyeliner).



Being 14 when the album came out there was something exciting about seeing them perform on Top of the Pops.





Watching it now it looks slightly tame and well, mid 90’s. Mick Mills still looks cool though, but at the time I loved it and it was a talking point at school the next day. “Did you see the R.E.M. video? It was mental, there was a guy dressed as a gorilla and he had a TOTP sticker on his arse!”



What I really liked about this album at the time were the lyrics. They were really dark and self-deprecating and quite funny. I’d ever really thought about lyrics before I heard this album. They were always just words that rhymed, but these lyrics connected to me like none had done before. The other thing that spoke to me was the music. It contained fuzzy guitars and as the production was quite muddy in places, it felt a bit like a live album. I just remember playing it for what seemed like forever (in fact it was probably a few weeks). It was a slight joke in my registration at school “Still listening to Monster?” I’d reply “Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” the normal reply was laughter. One time a girl in my registration group said “I like it too, but when you get bored by it let me know and I’ll lend you something you should like”. I can’t remember if I ever took her up on the offer, but I expect it would have been an L7 comp.



That’s how I felt about it then, how do I feel about it now? Pretty much the same. Since 1994 I have gotten in to lyrics more and I realise that the lyrics aren’t as good as I originally thought, but over the years they have taken on different meanings. I now understand more of what was going on musically and culturally and I get what they were writing about. I also think that the album is a lot darker than I originally thought. It contains a lot of rock clichés (rock star moaning about being famous and how annoying it is to be famous), but it still sounds like they’re having a good time.



As Monster didn’t sell as well as Automatic for the People (and it wasn’t a well-received) it was the start of R.E.M.’s slump. Personally I think that the run of albums from Monster to Around the Sun contains some of the most interesting and ‘classic R.E.M.’ songs they ever wrote. Yes they never reached the heights of Losing My Religion, Shiny Happy People and Everybody Hurts, but with songs like E-Bow the Letter, Daysleeping and Imation of Life who needs the others!



In closing I still find this as intriguing and enjoyable as I did the first time I heard it. I’ve never got bored of it either, because each time I play it I get something new from it. For me this is why the album is underrated. Granted it could be my personal experiences with the album that make it enjoyable. What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? was on a tape we played while we were drinking at a local park when we were 17. Strange Currencies was on a tape a friends sister always used to play when she drove us anywhere in her car. I spent a night at a friends after he’d either got dumped\rejected by some girl and he kept playing the final track You. In hindsight this should have really worried me, as the lyrics border on stalker territory, but at the time I was just there for my mate.



If you’ve never heard this amazing album, I implore you to play it. If you know and love it, why not dust off your copy and give it another listen for old time’s sakes, I know I will!



R.E.M. – Star 69



June 2014






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Talking Heads



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Patti Smith

Yet again my MP3 player tells me what I need, not what I think I want



This is another blog that is grounded in hearsay, conjecture, luck and booze. After work last night I met up with an old friend. I don’t just mean that he is old (he’s not that much older than me), but he’s a friend from my past. When I went to uni I was that I’d find it hard to meet ‘new’ people. I’d heard a lot of horror stories about not quite clicking with course and hall mates and spending three year flitting from vague social group to vague social group. It was with pleasure and surprise that on my first day of proper lectures I met a guy who would be my closest confident over the next three years.



We had good times and bad times, but the good outweighed the bad 10/1. After uni, as happens with a lot of people we drifted. Nothing bad happened but life. We’ve always been in touch, just not face to face. Last week we worked out we should meet up (as we work near each other). Work has been kinder to my friend than it has to me, but he deserves it. He’s grafted hard and I’m happy for his success. We met up and watched the second half of the Germany USA game. It was decent, the match I mean not us. After we went to a quieter pub and, basically caught up. We sunk about three or so pints and it was great.



On the way home I decided that I needed some music. I put my earphones in (not knowing what I wanted to listen to) and this came on





This isn’t what I was thinking of playing at all, but when it came on it was actually what I was looking for. Let’s just break this down slightly before I continue. This whole album wouldn’t have happened if ti wasn’t for Johnny Cash. He made old country guys covering contemporary songs cool. He did it with such ease and poise that everyone else thought they could. A few tried, but most failed. Glen Campbell’s 2008 album (Meet Glen Campbell) was one of the better efforts. The choices aren’t as good as Cash’s, but let’s face it, Glen isn’t as cool as Cash.



The opening track is a cover of Travis-Sing. I was never a fan of this track (or the album it came off). In 1999 I was more into Add N to (X), Alec Empire and The Beta Band than the Glasgow quartet but you couldn’t escape them. When I first heard this tonight I thought it was the original (until Campbell started singing). But when he does the song takes on a totally different vibe. It stops being indie whingy and starts being something more poignant and important.



The rest of the album (as was my journey) was a voyage of letting go and turning off. It was only when I got off the tube and wanted something more vibrant that I realised that I hadn’t actually put it on in the first place. I think there is a very valuable lesson of just leaving you MP3 player on all day and seeing what you get at the end of it.



As for meeting up with my old friend I think it’s safe to say we won’t leave it another 8+ years before meeting up again. Same time next week mate…?



Glen Campbell – Sing



June 2014






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Harry Nilsson



Kris Kristofferson



Waylon Jennings



Marty Robbins



Roy Orbison







Just a short sharp blast of awesomeness here. Earlier in the month I wrote about Parakeet releasing a new EP. Today is that day!



I won’t re-hash what I wrote then as it’s lazy and offensive to you for me to pass off an older blog as new. I will say this though, since I last wrote about Parakeet the EP has got better! It’s the kind of music that gets under your skin (and in your head).



Do yourself a favour and get this if you haven’t already!



June 2014






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Musings from a diner lunchtime



As has happened fairly regularly I find myself working at a new company. This brings lots of new challenges, but by far the most enjoyable is having a new set of options for lunch. As I walk round this slightly different part of London I’m struck with choice. There is so much choice that I don’t know if I’ll be able to try them all in the short time I will be at this company.



After wandering about for 10 minutes I knew I had to pick something quickly (as time to order and eat was running out). In the end I decided on a burger. This is a rare choice from me. It’s not that I don’t like burgers (I do), I just like most other things more. I went to Ed’s Easy Diner. If you haven’t been to their restaurants before you should. They offer up ‘good’ food from America’s golden age of dining. The place was small and cozy. It was full of all the things you’d expect from an American diner. A high counter and chairs that spin. Chequered tiled floor. The cook visible in the centre of the restaurant. Mini juke boxes on the counter playing the hits of the 1950’s and of course burgers and fries.



The waitress was attentive, but not pushy. She could see I was reading (Jamie S. Rich’s brilliant second novel The Everlasting, more on that in coming weeks) and I just wanted a place to get out of the Sun and have a good meal for thirty minutes. When my food arrived (Chilli Cheese Burger) I put the book down and started to take it all in. As I have said everything you expected was there, but then it dawned on me, it was too perfect. Ed’s Easy Diner is the Café Rouge of American Diners. It’s the idea of 1950’s America by someone who never lived it and had an unhealthy obsession with Happy Days.



These are my only criticisms (and they are petty at best). My burger was excellent and exactly what I was after. My shake was amazing. The music was some of the best I’ve heard over lunch for a long, LONG time and I will be heading back there again soon with others.



Johnny Burnette & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Trio – All By Myself



June 2014






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Eddie Cochran



Ricky Nelson



Carl Perkins



The Coasters



Gene Vincent

Tom Vek releases his second album in as many years, has music’s recluse finally found his muse?



Tom Vek is a musician who’s talent you can’t ignore. He first burst on the scene in the heady days of 2005. At the time he was ‘one to watch’, but because of bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Libertines and all the other style over substance bands his debut (We have Sound) was largely missed by the majority of the public. Then as soon as he’d arrived he vanished. During this time his ex-band mates and cohorts said the was ‘working on something special’. Years went by (six in fact) before he release his second album. But it was worth the wait. Leisure Seizure came like a bolt of lightning. After hearing it you were reminded why Vek was such an exciting prospect in the first place.



Now three years (and three days) since Leisure Seizure come out Luck is released. As I play it I’m having a similar experience. It’s chocked full of great hooks, amazing melodies and enough forward thinking ideas to put most bands on the scene to shame. Luck is chocked full of pathos, social commentary and amazing couplets



One of the most interesting things about Luck is that Vek doesn’t stick to the same sound (as on previous album). It’s more eclectic. When each new song starts you know that it isn’t going to be the same as the previous one. I understand that this can give the album a disjointed feel at times, but at least it’s not boring!



If you like your indie music infused with electronica and clean angular guitars this is for you!





Tom Vek – Ton Of Bricks



June 2014






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St. Vincent









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Arab Strap

The UK’s biggest selling solo male releases new album, I really wished he hadn’t



Ed Sheeran X is an awful album. It could quite possibly the worst album I’ve heard in a long time. And I’ve heard some dross in recent months. I know it’s easy to take pockshots at Ed Sheeran, like fish in a barrel and junkies in an opium den. But when you make music as bad as this it’s pretty easy.



My main complaint is that the album is full of whinge and whine. Not the good whine that you drink during a nice meal, but the bad whine. I’m not saying that just because you become a wealthy international pop star and play sold out big venues after years of sofa surfing that things are easy. They probably are not, but given the life that Sheeran has many would happily trade places with him. A lot of the songs sound the same. This is probably because of Sheeran’s limited vocal range. It’s either falsetto or ‘rap’ and not much else in between.



My second complaint is that not only do the songs sound the same lyrically they sound the same musically too. They are all chocked full of Sheeran’s mournful finger picking and plucking. Again there isn’t much range here. A few of the songs have a ‘phat beat’ behind them but this does little to break up the monotony.



Overall this isn’t a great album. I know that I’m not the biggest Sheeran fan. I didn’t hate his debut +, but I didn’t love it. I thought there were some good songs, but on X I can’t find anything to get remotely interested about. Despite my criticisms of the album I’m giving it half marks as Sheeran can play the guitar and it is well produced, its just not my thing.






Ed Sheeran – The Man



June 2014






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Newton Faulkner



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Gavin DeGraw

One of the pioneers of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who never gets boring



It’s Sunday and I’m not at my best. The reason is simple, too much Guinness and football, the cure isn’t going to be as easy. I need fresh air, Vitamin C the finest music known to man. This isn’t a quick fix, it will take all day to come to fruition. Luckily I have all day but it won’t be pleasant at times.



The music that I have chosen to start with is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was basically one of the best guitarists ever. Rumour has it that if it hadn’t been for her Little Richard and Elvis my not have sounded like they did. The music that she made is a mixture of the blues, gospel, a bit of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. Even now it’s nothing short of genius! She was doing things on the guitar that even now are just beginning to be realised. She was the real deal.



Didn’t it Rain is the song I have chosen, but the version I’m really loving is a live one. It was recorded in Manchester (of all places) in the mid 1960’s. The UK in the mid 1960’s was in love with the blues, so a tour was worked out and Sister Rosetta Tharpe was part of it. As you can tell from the video she’s happy to work the crowd, which in turn at happy to be worked.





So as far as my road to recovery is going, I thought be fine in a few hours, but for now I’m happy to sit and listen to a true legend at work!



Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Didn’t It Rain



June 2014






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Lead Belly



Robert Johnson



Lightnin’ Hopkins



Bo Diddley



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Spoon return and sound more vibrant and needed than ever before!



Spoon are back! 2014 will see the release of their eighth album in 14 years. Their last Transference came out in 2010 and was universally praised so this, as yet untitled album, has a lot to live up to. The details are sparse other than eight track names, pictures of them recording, some tweets about how good it is all sounding and a lo-fi video for new song Rent I Pay.



Luckily (as if we were ever worried) Rent I Pay is a brilliantly glorious lo-fi romp. Musically it has more of an edge to it than Transference. Britt Daniel’s vocals have more bite and bile to them than previously, and this compliments the fuzzed out guitar perfectly. After a few listens though you start to think that the guitar riff sounds familiar. This is because it does. The whole song is very similar to Sheryl Crow’s 1996 worldwide hit A Change Would Do You Good. Whether this was on purpose will remain to be seen, but it works and doesn’t detract from the song.



A special mention should go to the ‘unofficial video’. It fits the mood of the piece perfectly. In recent years the quality of music videos has gone down. They are usually mini-movies of some kind of cheesy hokey performance video. The director of Rent I Pay has tapped into the vide of the song and created something that matches the songs lo-finess, but doesn’t come across like half arsed and lazy. This is truly brilliant stuff!





Spoon – Rent I Pay



June 2014






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Death Cab for Cutie



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Coconut Records



Guided By Voices