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Monthly Archives: August 2014

August has been a great month. There was loads of great new music, and I re-found loads of old favourites. of Arrowe Hill released a track inspired by the centenary of the First World War. It is part of an EP. Every year until 1918 they will release a track for that year. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

 

 

The Bug released his new album and it’s amazing! Keeping on an electronica vibe Rustie released his second album and it’s possibly one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. The Wytches released their debut and it proves that guitar music ain’t dead! Keep it up boys…

 

 

This month saw two surprise returns. Kate Bush took to the stage for the first time in 35 years. The results were meant to be magical. The other surprise return was Aphex Twin announced he will release a new album in September. When the new broke, everyone at thisyearinmusic towers sent batshit crazy!

 

 

Along with all this new music I watched some amazing musical documentaries. If you have a few spare hours please check out youtube for documentaries on Grindcore, Black Metal, Thrash Metal, Sun Ra, Blondie, Punk and Grunge.

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Bush mania rolls on. Eight albums in the top 40.

 

 

After her first gig in 35 years eight Kate Bush albums are in the UK top 40. What is more remarkable is that she only has 11 studio albums. This is about 72% of her total output in one chart at one time. What is more remarkable is that she is the first female artist to do this.

 

 

Out of her discography her debut The Kick Inside (1978) and Hounds of Love (1985) are my personal favourite. This might seem that I am only picking the albums with the biggest singles on them, but it is more than that. The Kick Inside is full of wonderful ideas and some of the most interesting pop songs committed to tape. Hounds of Love on the other hand is an album of two halves. The first half (Hounds of Love) is chocked full of massive pop songs (including three of Bush’s most famous), but it is the second side that is the most interesting. The Ninth Wave is a suite of seven songs that Bush herself described as being “About a person who is alone in the water for the night. It’s about their past, present and future coming to keep them awake, to stop them drowning, to stop them going to sleep until the morning comes.” Not bad for a pop album eh?

 

 

If you have never heard this selection of songs I recommend that you do. They truly are wonderful. At times the lyrical content is abstract, humorous, loving, scary and chilling, but they are never dull. It is a work of brilliance. The old expression “They don’t make ‘um like this anymore” is sadly true with this album. Let’s hope that this sudden bout of live performances (also called The Ninth Wave) might inspire Bush to get back into the studio and create something as bewitching again.

 

 

Kate Bush – Waking The Witch

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Yet again a computer game tells me the music I want to hear

 

 

It’s Saturday night and I’m playing DJ Hero 2. Some might look at this as a flaw. Wasting my time staying playing an outdated game, but I disagree. The game is fantastically easy to play (at first, but it gets insanely hard later on) and the songs are some of the best mash-up’s I have ever heard (see below).

 

 

If you get the chance play this game, even if you don’t like computer games, play the game for the soundtrack. It could change your Saturday nights!

 

 

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Mercury winners gear up for album #2

 

 

alt-J are gearing up for the release of their second album, after months of squirreling away in rehearsal spaces and studios. The results so far, are well, the same as their previous releases. The usual elements of heavy basslines, folktronic guitars, harmonised vocals, ‘odd’ time signatures and the guttural howl of Gus Unger-Hamilton’s are all still present.

 

 

If this is your bag, you’ll love it, man! Sadly it doesn’t do much for me. Actually that is a lie. I like it more than their previous material, but I still find that they suffer from Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome. The production is very good and composition (and ideas) on show are decent, it does little to move me. This is partly because I feel I’ve either heard it all before or there other bands doing a similar thing but more better.

 

 

I hope that these songs (and the subsequent album) grow on me over time as (until recently) there has been a void in new good bands coming through and I feel that if I could get over my own issues, whilst cracking their code I’d enjoy their music. As it stands however I’m finding myself scratching my head and gazing blankly while friends and colleagues wax lyrical about them.

 

 

alt-J – Every Other Freckle

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Scottish producer eclipses debut in 35 minutes

 

 

In 2011 Russell Whyte released Glass Swords. The world of electronic music imploded. Everything that had been considered forward thinking was blown away in 42 minutes. It was a critical success (and didn’t see that badly either). It swept the boards in the End-of-the-year-Lists and won the First Album prize in the Guardian. The only thing it didn’t do was get nominated (and win) the Mercury Music Prize.

 

 

Whyte is back with a new album titled Green Language. In interviews leading up to its release he hinted that he wanted to make a ‘different and more serious album’. He has certainly delivered on his promise. Green Language is everything that we have come to expect from Whyte, but this time the ideas are more concise.  At 42 minutes in length Glass Swords was hardly a sprawling monster of over indulgence and excess, but Green Language (at times) feels like a punk album. It doesn’t mess around getting to the crux of the tracks.

 

 

Musically Green Language is more of the Lazer Hip-Hop that Glass Swords was chocked full of. While it is quite an experimental form of hip-hop, the music created isn’t a chore to get through or unlistenable (feelings that are usually associated with experimental music). The synths sound crisper, the bass is wonky and the rhythms add to the overall aesthetic. At time it almost feels like Whyte is channelling Philip Glass as some of the tracks feature his trademark sound. This is a welcomed addition in this humble hacks opinion. Overall the songs are filled with a sense of euphoria. This is uplifting music that demands repeat listens.

 

 

There are downsides to the album though. Some of the collaborations seem unnecessary. The track Lost is a prime example of this. It features Redinho, but Lost is a strong enough song without a guest spot. This might be totally unfair criticism, but personally if feels like one collaboration too many. Having said that Danny Brown’s and D Double E’s inclusions are inspired and the results add to the original songs composition and production.

 

 

If Green Language is the future of electronic music then I need to get a copy of the Rosetta Stone so I can decipher it’s hidden meanings and messages. I suggest you all follow suit.

 

 

Rustie – Paradise Stone

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Brighton coven releases a stark, but beautiful album that re-ignites one’s love of alternative music!

 

 

First off The Wytches are one of the most exciting and refreshing new bands around today. Scratch that, they are one of the most exciting and refreshing bands that have come along in a long time. Right, scratch that long time, I mean this century!

 

 

Their music is a mixture of surf-rock, psychobilly, lo-fi indie and Death rattle and roll. This isn’t a bunch of kids ripping of their parent’s record collections. There is an authenticity there this is missing in the current crop of new bands. You get the impression that this is the only music that Wytches could make, because it’s the only music that they want to play.

 

 

Over the past 18 months there has been a wave of new bands that have re-ignited my love with alternative music (Death of Pop, Tyrannosaurus Dead, Parakeet to name three), but Wytches debut album has push me over the edge. Annabel Dream Reader is chocked full of songs that are yearning to be played loud in small venues. At times vocalist Daniel Rumsey sounds like he’s channelling spirts as the lyrical content sounds older than his years. Annabel Dream Reader has also given this hack writer the final push to fall in love with alternative music again. Tracks like Wide at Midnight, Gravedweller, Fragile Male and Burn out the Bruise (the stand out track on the album) are classic freak out anthems (think the Open Mind covered by Neil’s Children while being produced by Spider Webb and you are close).

 

 

While Wytches are currently not contenders to take the alt-indie throne, with this stunning debut they have definitely shown their intent and thrown down the gauntlet to the slew of new bands trying to make a name for themselves. This is an album you must not miss!

 

 

The Wytches – Beehive Queen

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Kevin Martin changes the script on his fourth Bug long player.

 

 

The Bug’s fourth album picks up where London Zoo left off. This is an album full of claustrophobia and paranoia. On London Zoo Kevin Martin put listeners through the ringer with fierce beats, feedback, compressed vocals and harrowing subject matter. This time while it’s still a classic Bug album, the music isn’t as full on. This actually enhances the experience. On certain tracks, the less-is-more attitude brings new feelings from Martin’s music. There are elements of compassion and inner-reflection that in the past have been missing from the Bug’s output. At first these themes feel (and sound) a bit out of place. You don’t expect this from the man who brought us Poison Dart and Skeng, but their inclusion makes the album more rewarding.

 

 

There are many reasons for this change. The main one being that Martin isn’t in the same head space he was in 2008 (when London Zoo was released). The singles released on his Acid Raga inprint showed that he was looking to change his sound to shape this his new found perspective (and studio). Last year’s King Midas Sound Aroo 12” was the best pop song of the year. While none of the songs on Angels & Devils could ever be classed as pop, you can feel Aroo in some of the compositions.

 

 

London Zoo and Angels & Devils are almost companion pieces. London Zoo represents a night out. It’s brash, cocky and fun. Angels & Devils represents the next day. It’s more reflective and melancholy in places. Don’t let this calm fool you though. There are moments of bombastic pleasure to come. Death Grips appearance could easily have been an unused track from the London Zoo sessions.

 

 

While Angels & Devils isn’t the album that we thought it would be, what we are given is stronger and more enjoyable for the change. This is a brave album for brave times!

 

 

8/10

 

 

The Bug – Fall

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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LA Resident releases strong sophomore album

 

 

Mono/Poly last released an album in 2010. It was chocked full of the kind of electronica that has the power to move your feet and your mind. The songs were made up of vocal samples, bouncy hip-hop, glitch inflections and woozy and wonky basslines and rhythms. It was part of something that ended up being played at Low End Theory nights. The following year he released an EP on Brainfeeder. That was more of the same, but the emphasis was on the music and less on the vocals. It felt more structured, but with an element of abstractness to it.

 

 

Now in 2014 he has returned with a new album. Golden Skies sounds more analogue and organic (if a thing exists in current electronic music). The albums jumps from sounds to sounds and styles to styles (sometimes in the same song). This is the sound of someone who has wide ranging influences. One moment it sounds like Teebs, then it jumps to Vangelis. Mono/Poly’s lack of fear to experiment should be commended.

 

 

The only downside with the album is that sometimes the contrast of music sounds clashes. This creates a slight jar that throws off the listeners concentration. While I applaud this inventiveness, I feel that if similar sounding tracks had been sequenced together it would have given the album a better flow.

 

 

The future is bright for Mono/Poly. I don’t want him to change his style at all. I want him to keep playing around with sounds and genres, but if he could find a way to mix the album like one of his DJ sets, then I feel that he could create something game changing that would create a monopoly on the live circuit.

 

 

7/10

 

 

Mono/Poly – Ra Rise

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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It’s CARNIVAL time!

 

 

This weekend is the Notting Hill Carnival. It’s Europe’s largest street party. All you need to do is get to W10, drink some stout or Red Stripe, eat some jerked food and stagger around listening to filling loosening sound systems.

 

 

Major Lazer feat. Afrojack & Vybz Kartel – Pon De Floor

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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Bank Holiday tidy leads to web-searching and hair pulling

 

 

As it’s Bank Holiday, I decided to have a bit of a tidy. Whilst looking through old back issues of magazines I found the best magazine of all time that only made six issues. As you know I’m talking about Grand Royal.

 

 

Grand Royal was the brainchild of the Beastie Boys. It contained some of the most forward thinking (and illest) articles ever written. Their feature on the phenomenon of the mullet haircut basically brought it to the world’s attention. Sadly like all great things, it was over far too quickly, but at least we are left with six amazing magazines.

 

 

Whilst I was re-reading issue two I came across an advert for Mo Wax records putting on a production of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. I’ve looked online and can find nothing out about this. Was this just a joke? Or was it part of a tour? Or did they actually records a covers album of Copacabana, but it got shelved at the last minute?

 

 

Anyone got any ideas?

 

 

Barry Manilow – Copacabana (At the Copa) – Long Version

 

 

August 2014

 

 

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