Monthly Archives: October 2014

October has been a great month. Ras G released the latest volume in his Raw Fruit series. Lorde unveiled one of her offerings from the latest Hunger Games film. Flying Lotus showed the world his new You’re Dead! album. Jagaara played a storming set at a Book Jam night. Scott Walker made a surprise comeback with Sunn O))). The Coral released a ‘lost album’ that outshined some of their real albums. Klaxons and Beady Eye broke up. And Young Fathers won the Mercury Music Prize. Not bad eh?



Check it all out here…



October 2014






Happy Halloween Ghouls and Ghoulettes!



Today is Halloween so I thought I’d pick five sold gold songs that would be perfect for a Halloween Party. I’ve tried to avoid the usual suspects, you know how you are Ray Parker Jr. and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins…



First up is Lupen Crook.




Lupen Crook is a firm favourite at thisyearinmusic. Halloween was taken from his second single. It is full of spooky imagery and his trademark fingerpicking. The middle eight sounds like it would fit in perfectly in any Tim Burton film.



Next up is those psych blue rockers of Arrowe Hill.





While this song might not seem to be that Halloween themed, it is chocked full of Autumnal themes. It is the musical equliviant of going for a brisk walk through the park (after a heavy night out), as the sun slowly goes down. All around you are piles of fallen leaves and conkers. You pull your coat around you tighter to keep the sun out. Then you go to a pub, get an ale (or tea) and sit by the fire as you contemplate going home for dinner. Plus it’s chocked full of Adam Easterbrook’s surreal occultist world view. This is one not to be missed at party time!



This next choice is a bit off piste, but stay with me.





The Groovie Goolies was an American cartoon I used to adore as a kid. The premise is simple. A Vampire, Frenkenstein’s Monster and Wolfman live together in a house. They perform slap-stick/vaudeville routines with each other, but each episode they sing a song. They sung so many songs they released an album (it’s a personal fave). Here is one of the best songs





The next song is a stone cold classic! Howlin’ Wolf needs no introduction, and I won’t be giving him one here. This song is a straight Halloween classic!





Moanin’ at Midnight is chocked full of Wolf’s trademark harmonica and gravel voiced style. It has that Voodoo Blues vibe that would make it perfect for any Halloween themed playlist. While it might not be as iconic as Smokestack Lightnin’ or Evil, it is one of Wolf’s more memorable songs, personally anyway. When I first started making this playlist it was all going to be Voodoo Blues, as that music is perfect for Halloween/Spooky parties.



So last but certainly not least is this song.





So who sums up Halloween better than anyone else? That’s right Elvira “Mistress of the Dark”. Elvira has made a career of the spooky and the macabre. This song, released on Third Man Records, is an tongue in cheek ode to Halloween. While the lyrics are a bit too obvious at time, musically it’s fun and exactly what you want a Halloween.



So there you have it. If you have add any of these songs to you Halloween party playlist it will improve 10 fold*. Other songs that should get a notable mention are:



Ghouls Aloud-Sound of the Underground

Black Sabbath-Heaven and Hell

Tricky-Hell is Round the Corner

Misfits-Return of the Fly

The Cramps-I was a Teenage Werewolf

The Sonics-Strychnine

The Black Belles-The Witch



I’m going to leave you with some sage advice from the Mistress of the Dark herself.





Happy Halloween Y’all!



October 2014






*Tenfold is not a real measurement and I might be over exaggerating my musical selections.

Scottish Hip-Hop trio win 23rd Mercury Music Prize



So the 2014 Mercury Music Prize has been announced. This year’s winners are Young Fathers. When the album came out I waxed lyrical about how good it was, so it does look like I do know what I’m talking about. In your face detractors!!!!



On a personal note I’m glad that Young Fathers won. Firstly because it is a strong debut album full of interesting ideas, clever lyrics and inspired beats. They make the kind of music that comes from a place free of restraints. It was made simply for the love of music, and not for chart positions. Young Fathers could easily have followed the Hip-Pop blueprint and made generic music, but they strove to make something different and have been awarded for it. The fact that they won the prize (and the £20,000) means that they can now make a follow up whenever they’re ready. Secondly they are signed to my favourite record label (Ninja Tune) so any accolades they get I relish. Thirdly I’m glad that they prevented Royal Blood from winning the gong. While I don’t think that the Royal Blood album is bad, I personally like the intensity that two instruments can make, I just find the album boring and I’d rather listen to Kyuss instead.



Over recent years the Mercury has faced some criticism as its point isn’t certain. While other awards are given due to sales or popularity, the Mercury has always been more obtuse. If the award was given solely on sales then Damon Albarn or Royal Blood would have won. If it was on obscure artists and albums then the ‘jazz’ album would win every year (it never has). Originally point might have been to highlight albums that the mainstream might have missed, but that doesn’t explain M People’s win in 1993. This lack of consistency is frustrating as it means picking a winner is nigh on impossible as the parameters are too vague. Asking if electronica is better than indie is like trying to unlock a door with an orange.



Maybe this is the point of the Mercury? It generates dialogues about the music, and ultimately the award itself. Thanks to the award four albums have now been exposed to a wider audience, three have been given an extra push, five tours will definitely sell out (if they haven’t already) and one has been given a nod for crafting something ‘worthy’. I’ll let you work out which albums are which. Massive congratulations to Young Fathers and let’s hope that the Mercury curse doesn’t hit them like it did Gomez, Badly Drawn Boy, Ms. Dynamite, Klaxons and Speech Debelle…



Young Fathers – DIP



October 2014






Mercury Music Prize Shortlist 2014



Mercury Winners Playlist

Afro-Futurism laced acid from the Windy City’s experimental composure



Acid house is making a revival, some would argue it never went away, but that’s a conversation for another time and place. Whether it’s being channelled through pop by Calvin Harris or stretched to its limits by Ritchie Hawtin, acid is definitely making its presence felt. I for one think this is a good thing, as it’s been too long since I’ve heard its hard rhythmic beats and squelchy high end.



Jamal Moss’s (AKA Hieroglyphic Being) take on the genre has always been abstract at best. Instead of following the textbook and creating classic acid house, Moss has mixed his influences and experimented to help create something different. On new EP the Fourth Dimensions of a Nubian Mystic, Moss has added elements of Afro-Futurism to the mix to create a hybrid of both genres.



Title track the Fourth Dimension is, in short, a beast of a track. At eleven and a half minutes it rivals Phuture’s classic Acid Tracks in quality and endurance to get through. It starts off simply enough, a glitch hi-hat pulsating beat, then a hypnotic synth loop kicks in that conjures up classic acid house. As the song progresses more and more elements are deftly added to the mix until there is a maelstrom of noise swirling around you. It’s great on headphones in the office at three o’clock on a Monday afternoon, to hear it played out music be nigh on euphoria*! Its flip side Star Time isn’t shabby either. At seven minutes long it’s half the length of the A-Side, but no less as powerful. While the beat is just as hard-hitting, there is an ethereal feeling to it. The piano riff that peppers it, starts off sounding like Moss has never seen a piano before, let alone played one, but after a through repetitions you realise that’s all part of the charm. Moss knows exactly what he’s doing and the abstract/found vibe adds charm to the track that is lacking in most mainstream acid house.



By the time you’ve finished reading this acid would have had its day and the slide would have started, and something new would be mounting its charge for a comeback Italian Piano House maybe? But before that does happen bask in the joy of these two tracks, because for a fleeting moment these are two of the best songs in the World.



*This is not a reference to the cheesy compilation series.



Hieroglyphic Being – The Fourth Dimension



October 2014







Last week the Dundee Book Prize was announced. This year’s winner was Amy Mason. Regular readers of thisyeairnmusic will remember that she wrote and performed The Islanders at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, along with Eddie Argos from Art Brut. As we’re all fans of her here, we thought a quick catch up was in order.



thisyearinmusic: Hi Amy, First off I’d like to congratulate you on winning the Dundee Book Prize. At any time during the evening did you think “I’ve got this!”?


Amy Mason: I actually knew a while before. It has nearly killed me not telling people. They told me a few months ago so we had time to edit it and stuff. Luckily they didn’t make me do a fake surprised face.


tyim: How much of the prize money did you spend celebrating?


AM: I have pre-emptively spent about £15,000 on chips and cheese so I’m 5 grand in debt. I got over-excited.


tyim: Can you briefly explain what the book is about and why you felt the need to tell it’s tale?


AM: It’s about the women in an extremely dysfunctional family. The mother, Bridie, is an alcoholic playwright who named her first daughter after her most famous play. The book’s set over the week of Bridie’s funeral, when Ida comes home for the first time in years. I suppose I was interested in the fate of celebrity offspring and how it often seems we know they’re destined to live tragic lives.


tyim: After your previous work the Islanders being about growing up in the south of England, are you going to write about your past again, or is this subject finished for you now, or will there be an Islanders 2 at some point?


AM: Ha. Well The Other Ida is set in Bournemouth too. I think I might move on for there now though!


tyim: The Islanders incorporated music into the show, how important was music to you growing up?


AM: Music was MASSIVELY important to me growing up. I was really into Elastica, Kenickie-Come Out 2Nite, Bis, Blur, mega-indie Snakebite City compilations. I used to open my bedroom windows and play music really loud and think I was punk as fuck.


tyim: Do you still feel the same passion for the music of today?


AM: I still love music and listen to Radio 6 when I’m writing. I’m embarrassed to talk about what I like now though, I’ll end up trying to sound like someone’s hip mum. I listen to lots of soul (my new show has a soul soundtrack), also into the new La Roux album and got that Kate Tempest song stuck in my head. I am so jealous of Kate Tempest, she can do EVERYTHING.


tyim: What are you working on at the moment? Another book? Another play?


AM: At the moment I’m working on a new autobiographical show Mass, about my relationship with faith. It’ll be at Bristol Old Vic next April.


tyim: After winning to Dundee Book Prize do you want to assail anyone who vilified you and said you were wasting your time and should get “a proper job”?


AM: You’re always told at school that if you want to write you should do it in a more organised way with a clear career path – become a journalist or something – like writing creatively isn’t a proper job. I wish I’d been told that it actually is a job in its own right, I think I would have wasted lots of time trying to do other things. People slag off creative writing classes but I like the way they’ve validated people’s ambitions.
tyim: Now you’re officially a writer, do you feel that you now have to live up to it somehow? I’m not saying going all Hemmingway, but do you think this award will affect your next book?


AM: I think I lived the life of a writer long before I actually was one! I spent years lying in bed crying because I was a failure, drinking shit loads, then deciding I was a genius…before doing it all over again.
tyim: Do you have any words of advice for any would be writers out there?


AM: Take classes (adult ed is always good), be brave, get your writing out there however you can.


Again massive congratulations to you Amy for sticking to your guns and following through dream. Everyone here a thisyearinmusic towers is looking forward to the new play next year. The Other Ida is out now, but you can buy a (signed) copy here



And you can follow Amy on twitter






Kenickie – Come Out 2 Nite



October 2014



 Amy Mason’s Playlist





El-P and Killer Mike return with the second Run the Jewels album of the year



Run the Jewels is a collaboration between underground Hip-Hop rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. Their debut album came out in June. It received universal acclaim and is heralded as one of the albums of the year. Now a mere four months later, they have returned with the second album Run the Jewels 2. It’s an extension of its predecessor, but this time they’ve brought some friends along.



The album opens with Killer Mike’s trademark thousand-miles-an-hour delivery, then a bassline kicks in (reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 score) slow and menacing while Killer Mike does his thing. While the lyrics are aggressive, however there is a level of parody to them, so there is never a real threat from Mike’s verses. Run the Jewels 2 doesn’t start hitting its stride until Blockbuster Night Part 1. This one of the album’s standout tracks partly down to El-P’s ridiculously sick production, but mainly for Killer Mike’s clever lyrics, especially this moment of genius “I Jake the Snake ‘em, DDT ‘em in mausoleums”.



As I mentioned it’s not just El-P and Killer Mike this time, the first guest artist is Zak de la Roche. His vocal sample makes up the majority of the track, plus his guest verse shows that he’s still got the goods that made him a household name. The album slows down a bit now. All My Life is about as slow as RtJ’s gets, but don’t worry the pace gets picked up again with Lie, Cheat, Steal. Now we come to a suite of guest appearances. First up is Boots. Boots is slowly making a name for himself in R&B and Hip-Hop. He produced the lion’s share of the last Beyoncé album. His touches give Early some of the albums most memorable and catchy hooks and vocal flourishes. Next on the guest list is Travis Barker. His drums sound tight and this level of instrumentation, juxtaposed with El-P’s slick production give the track a fresher feel than on others. Gangstsa Boo answers Killer Mike’s somewhat suggestive and derogatory lyrics. In truth she gives as good as she receives. Her vocals she that’s not just men who are players and the reverse chorus at the end is a great pay off. Diane Coffee closes off the guest spots perfect. Diane Coffee is actually the alias of Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming. As All due Respect, this tracks added instrumentation gives the track some memorable hooks.



While Run the Jewels 2 isn’t as slick produciton wise as their debut, there is still plenty to engage with. The guest spots are all for the greater good of the tracks, rather than showing off how cool they are by who they know. The future is looking pretty good for Run the Jewels. Next up is a remix album and then the cat influenced Meow the Jewels. El-P is planning to remix the album entirely using cat samples (thanks Kickstarter). Whether this will turn out to be a producers folly or a credible album will remain to be seen, but you can’t say they’re boring can you! Avoid this at your peril!






Run The Jewels – Blockbuster Night Part 1



October 2014





I pick Boy Names record bag after another successful gig!



Last weekend Boy Names played a rousing set as part of the Oxjam Festival in Brixton. Afterwards I caught up with them and picked their brains (and record boxes) about their inspirations and current influences. Here’s what they picked!






Outfit “Thank God I Was Dreaming”



We got really into the Outfit album Performance here at Boy Names towers. There is something lovely and English about them. Fantastic songs, great atmospheric pop music. I recently saw them debut some material from their new album and it was really good. They’re moving to occupy the space between Hot Chip and These New Puritans. That is a good thing.



They have been a recent influence, and they remind me that there is interesting pop music to be made. They also showed us that a band playing smaller venues can get a lot of sound and detail in to their sets. We play live with four people, but I would hope it sounds like a lot more.



At some point we would like to play with Outfit. Make it happen internet.



Moonface “Running In Place With Everyone”





This is a track from Spencer Krug’s new Moonface EP which just came out a month ago. I’m not sure I quite understand him. I first heard his EP Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped a little while back and got addicted to the song “Fast Peter” which has really pretty lyrics and really sung to me. This song is more stripped down that, with just piano and voice, but it’s totally huge. I’ve been listening to this EP a lot. It’s all really great but I keep repeating “Running In Place With Everyone”. There is a vague darkness that runs throughout and I love how vast those low notes on the piano become in the chorus.



This is one of the first releases in a while where I’m really concentrating on the lyrics, which are so amazingly sad and funny and weird and gorgeous. Since we started writing for Boy Names I’m becoming increasingly aware of lyrics in songs. It’s something we’re getting better at. I would hope that even in our songs that are more pop-orientated that people will appreciate them.



Dustin O’Halloran “Transparent Theme Song”



I got addicted to the new TV show Transparent and devoured the whole series in one day last week. The theme music is by Dustin O’Halloran and it is utterly perfect. I really liked his album Lumiere a couple of years back, but didn’t realise this was him at first.



I love this because it’s beautiful and it complements the material so well, but it also has that unknowable thing that I love about bittersweet soundtracks that raises the poignancy of the entire show. I get that same feeling from Angelo Badalamenti’s music for The Straight Story and Jack Nitzsche’s score for Starman. With Transparent the theme song becomes more heartbreaking and complex with each episode. It soaks up the emotional weight of the show perfectly.



I need to get in to more of Dustin’s stuff. I think he’s working with the guys from Stars of the Lid now and I’m sure he’s doing amazing things with them.



Dntel “If I Stay A Minute”





Man, I love Dntel so hard. Since a friend turned me on to Life Is Full Of Possibilities around 12 years ago (yeesh) he’s been one of my faves. Dumb Luck was fantastic (anything with Andrew Broder from Fog on it gets my vote) and I really, really liked the After Parties EPs and Aimlessness. His use of texture and melody is awesome.



The new Dntel and the new Caribou album arrived in my letterbox on the same day. I’ve been playing both a lot and they’ve kinda blurred a little in my brain. “If I Stay A Minute” is probably the highlight of both albums. This has got a really intriguing shuffle-funk and an insane digitized recorder-ish instrument weaving throughout it. Then it explodes in to a beautiful, backwards ecstatic mush that only Jimmy Tamborello can conjure up.



Jimmy Tamborello is one of the people we would most want to work with some day. Again, Internet – get on it.






Talking Heads “Once In A Lifetime”



Boy Names love Talking Heads. Love, love love. I could have picked dozens of songs to represent this band, but we’ll go with “Once In A Lifetime”, on one hand it’s kinda obvious, but on the other it’s also probably the greatest song ever written. I’ve never met a Talking Heads fan that I didn’t like.



They recorded eight albums that are all wildly different, but all incredibly consistent. Fear of Music is probably my favourite album, but that can change. They’ve been through a broad range of styles but there is something defined that runs throughout everything they do. Whether it’s sugary pop songs or jaw-droppingly weird art-funk it’s all good. And it is seriously funky. And it’s accessible. You can dance or do anything to Talking Heads. They successfully channelled a lot of disparate influences in to something really unique. In our wildest dreams this is where we would love Boy Names to be.



I saw Tom Tom Club last year and could not stop grinning. That might be closest I’ll come to ever seeing Talking Heads live, but that’s okay.



Kate Bush “Cloudbusting”



Everyone knows why Kate Bush is great. We don’t really need to add anything. She’s incredible. She’s created a Kate Bush-shaped hole in the universe and she’s sitting happily in it. She misfires occasionally, but somehow that only makes her more interesting. We like that she puts herself out there. And of course she’s written some of the best songs of all time.



Boy Names is a band where vocals are extremely important and Kate Bush is possibly the most influential voice on us.



Animal Collective “My Girls”



When talking about bands that influence us, Animal Collective loom large, but you probably won’t hear it in our music. I wrestled with this as I wanted to pick a track which exemplified everything I love about them and made a shortlist. It came down to this or “Grass” from Feels, but this won out.



I was obsessed with this band from the minute they released Spirit They’ve Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished. A friend of mine was playing me the album and it felt like it was beamed from another planet. The songs were shrouded in static and weird high frequencies that are almost painful, but these amazing melodies and songs open up out of it. The voices were incredible, Avey Tare’s scream in particular was so potent and worked so well with the wonky melodies, aggressive cymbals and brushed drums. I have listened to this album probably more than any other.



I first saw them in London in the early 2000s and was a little disappointed because I think they had already moved on to the Here Comes The Indian sound by that time and it felt a little rough and loose. If I went back now I would probably have loved it. The next time I saw them they totally blew my mind. I like the way they are so liquid. Everything bubbles and pours through the music.



I always get really excited when there is a new Animal Collective release. I remember when Feels came out, I put it on and didn’t get further than track 2 for about two days because I had to keep listening to it. “Grass” was so strange and perfect. What are the lyrics about? I dunno! It’s incredible and one of my favourite choruses ever (“WAA! WAA! WAA! WAA!”).



I had the same reaction when Merriweather Post Pavilion came out with “My Girls”. It’s totally rapturous. Utterly, utterly perfect. It’s not my favourite Animal Collective album, but that might be because “My Girls” is such a standout song that it kind of warps what I think about the rest of the record.



We want to make songs that have something near this effect on people. We’re really pleased with a lot of the stuff we’re working on now. Hopefully we’ll get close one day.



Lucy Pearl “Dance Tonight”



There is a certain strain of (mostly ‘90s) R&B that we really love and it’s firmly imprinted on our DNA – “Dance Tonight” is one of the most perfect examples of this.



Often when the voices in Boy Names work together the influence of this kind of music comes to the fore. There is so much power and beauty in the way the voices weave together in some R&B. The arrangement of harmonies and the way the beat works in “Dance Tonight” are incredible. There is a subtlety and restraint which is also really interesting. They never go all out with element, but it’s still really powerful. And the strings at the end kill me every time. There’s also an amazing snippet of a college marching band playing this song in a hidden track at the end of the album which is wonderful.



We like to play around on the intersection of Indie and R&B and try to bring our own thing to it. We used to perform a cover of “The Boy Is Mine” in shows and I think it fit really well in to the rest of our set. It’s a kind of music that has subtly infiltrated our sound. As we’re writing more music and hopefully getting better, the line is becoming more blurry. And we’re happy about that.



So there you have it. After reading that I think we all now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of Boy Names music!


Dntel – If I Stay A Minute



October 2014



Boy Names Playlist





RIP Klaxons 2005 – 2014



So Klaxons have called it a day. While this doesn’t warrant a press release, there are a few select who are devastated. For these people I feel sorry. Not that they are going through a tough time as a band broke up, but because I’m sad that they like Klaxons. They’ve only made one good album (I don’t mean their debut Myths of the Near Future, but it’s follow up Surfing the Void). While this initially might come across as trolling, I hope explain my indifference about this piece of “news” (I use this word in the loosest sense).



In 2006 there was a period of time when music got all nostalgic for rave culture. That period of time when it was acceptable to wear day-glo colours, get as out of your face as you could and generally lush it up. The band at the fore of this movement were Klaxons (Sunshine Underground, Late of the Pier and Does it Offend You Yeah? Were close runners up for this title too). Their brand of indie-pop with big ravey beats was heralded as a good thing, apart from in clubland who generally wanted nothing to do with them. Klaxons were to rave what Boney-M were to disco. Nothing! After Myths of the Near Future came out their star really started to rise. The highwater mark was when they won 2007’s Mercury Music Prize (it wasn’t a great year but Bat for Lashes or Jamie T was robbed). After that tour ended there was talk about would the follow up be like. Sadly we never got to hear that effort as it was rejected by the label for being too ‘prog and psych’ (if you believe reports in the media). What we were given was far more interesting and engaging that their debut but, as usually happens, it was too different from the original and it the punters didn’t like it as much. Shame on you! This was a band who were trying something they found interesting and fun, but because there wasn’t a ravey cover on it, you lost interest.



After that tour not much happened (musically). Then earlier this year they released their third album Love Frequency. This felt like a step back as they’d tried to be all ‘dancey’ again and were working with ‘hot’ producers, rather than creating good song on their own, the label felt they needed outside help to recreate the ‘good times’. Sadly this didn’t work, as people didn’t buy it, the tour didn’t sell as well and now they’ve decided to cut their losses. My question is why now? Why not two years ago when people actually cared? I guess they thought that this new batch of tracks was just what the public wanted and their ‘hot’ producers were in touch with the zeitgeist as they had funny hair and went out in E8.



So that about sums it up. A mediocre band have split up in the middle of a mediocre tour, to try and generate some interest in a mediocre album. Don’t remember them as they are now, remember them as they were doing what they did best. Make genre bending music that was exciting, interesting and fun.



Klaxons – The Same Space



October 2014





Natalie Bang Bang’s third single is strongest to date



This track takes no prisoners. From the opening note to the last this is high octane power pop. Natalie Bang Bang (AKA Natalie Chahal) has crafted a song that sounds like “Phil Spector meets Le Tigre on steroids”, her own words. And she’s right. It has Spector’s Wall-of-Sound impact, but with the gritty electro edge of La Tigre at their most abrasive.



Chahal created a song that is the logical progression of RIOT GRRRRL and Girl Power. It rocks as much as it pops. Chahal has subverted the pop sound by adding the bite and bile of grunge. This is the sound of someone who loves Hole and L7 as much as the Spice Girls and P!nk.



This is Chahal’s third single this year and her most fully formed to date. Next month sees the release of her fourth. This time she’ll be the eighth edition of the Speedy Wunderground singles club. Speedy Wunderground is the idea of producer Dan Carey, who grew bored of the time it took record labels to release the bands he produced. So he started his own label. The rules are simple. The song is recorded in one day. It’s mixed and mastered over the following week. After that it’s sent to the pressers and 250 7” singles come back and are on sale within a month. How pop is that?



Natalie Bang Bang – He’s So Fine



October 2014





Cult children’s film gets given a makeover thanks to cult bass rockers



When I first heard that Primus was going release a version of Wily Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I didn’t know how to take it. If you’ve never seen Wily Wonka and the Chocolate, first off why not? What did you do with your childhood? Go outside and get exercise? For the 1% of us who haven’t seen it, I’ll briefly outline the story. A boy called Charlie Bucket lives with his parents and his four bedridden grandparents in a shack in an unnamed town. In this town there is a chocolate factory. It’s mysterious as no one goes in and no one comes out (then how do they load up the chocolate, bit of a plot hole for me). Then randomly one day, the owner (Willy Wonka) decides to let five people in. He has placed five golden tickets in five random Wonka-Bars. Panic ensues as the world goes Wonka crazy trying to find the golden tickets. Eventually the five are names, but the last one is a fake. As luck would have it Charlie gets the last golden ticket. For an unknown reason he takes one of his bed ridden grandparents (Grandpa Joe) with him. When they get to the factory Willy Wonka meets them (played by Gene Wilder as his insane best) and the tour begins. One by one the children are eliminated due to their greed and gluttony and Charlie (being good of heart) gets to take over the factory. Right, now we’re up to speed. If you have seen the film you’ll remember all of this and that its one of the most bizarre, freaky, terrifying and brilliant films ever made. What other children’s film has a beheading of a chicken in it?



So how does Primus’ version compare to the original? Quite well in fact. Even to the point that in five versions of the vinyl there are golden tickets that give the finder entrance to Primus gigs for free for the rest of their life. Bassist Les Claypool has kept the feeling of the original soundtrack, yet he has stamped their bass oriented rock all over it. Hello Wonkites kicks the album off. It slowly builds tension through scratchy guitars and echoy bass, whilst incorporating motifs of Pure Imagination (more on that in a bit). The first track from the original soundtrack tackled is Candy Man. What’s striking is that they’ve stripped all the saccharine from it, but what left with still has power and impact, although now I’m thinking of Tony Todd in Candyman, instead of Gene Wilder making sweets. Golden Ticket is the next big track in Primus’ sights. It starts off as a sad lament on how many bad card’s Charlie’s lift has been dealt. The music is downbeat, but then BAM, he’s got Golden Ticket and suddenly life is great! This is classic Primus. Musically they have skewed the perception of what the song should be. Which, let’s face it, the film is about. A boy has nothing, then through sheer chance he has everything.





Pure Imagination is up next. This is subverts the original. Claypool’s bass is the driving force of this song, until the verse and chorus when Larry LaLonde’s guitar playing comes to the fore. It’s somewhere between demented ice-cream van jingle and psychotic fairground march. There are also elements of math-rock in the chorus. Sadly the Oompa-Lumpa tracks are a bit of a letdown, as they seem a bit formulaic and pedestrian, and after the first one you don’t want to hear another one. So I’ll skirt of them for the main course. The Boatride.





Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride is the stand out track on the album (as it is on the original soundtrack). The original is a psychedelic gem. I still don’t know how they got it in the original film. Primus’ version is just as powerful. Tension is engrained through this track. With each echoy bass note the tension if heightened until at the end it reaches its peak and just as quickly as it starts it’s over. Claypool never reaches Wilder’s original insane vocal delivery, but he gets close. The rest of the album follows the formula laid down on the first eight tracks. Closing track Farewell Wonkites closes the album with motifs of Pure Imagination pepper it’s swirling bass maelstrom.



“It’s kind of strange, but it’s fun” is a line Grandpa Joe says to Charlie in the film. This is an apt description of the album as a whole. The album works well and the jokes don’t get boring. Sadly however Claypool’s vocals do grate after a while, but this is a complaint on all Primus releases, not just this album. Ultimately Primus were the perfect band to tackle this album. Since their breakthrough album Sailing on the Seas of Cheese they have been purveyors of surreal, subversive rock, so this is a piece of cake (what? I had to get it in here somewhere) for them. The only downside is after this initial listening binge I don’t know how often it will get played, but that is a problem with all Primus albums.






Primus – Semi-Wondrous Boat Ride



October 2014