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Monthly Archives: October 2014

 

Four years since their release the Coral return with ‘lost album’

 

 

The history of music is littered with ‘lost albums’. Some weren’t good enough to ever be released, a few were against what was going on at the time and were shelved in favour of something more ‘current’, others were snatched from us at the 11th hour (Neil Young I’m looking at you’re here) and some were so out there everyone involved went slightly insane (Brian Wilson knows what I’m talking here). The Coral’s The Curse of Love is in the second category. While the Coral had made their name making wonderful psychedelic indie pop, 2006 might not have been open to an album like this.

 

 

“But at least it’s out now, right?” I can hear you thinking. The short answer to this is yes, but also no. It is a great slab of slow psyched out folkie brilliance, but it is about 1,000,000 times better than Roots and Echoes, the album they actually released after the Invisible Invasion. Tracks like Wrapped in Blue show that they were still capable of writing gems. You Closed the Door is one of the best ballards they’ve ever wrote. However it is on Gently and the Watcher in the Distance that they channel their inner Pentangle, and create some of the albums most memorable moments.

 

 

This is the Coral at their psyched out best. It is a mixture of their first and second album. Fuzzy, wonky guitars, but played at a slower folkier pace. The only downside is that it took them eight years to release it. After hearing the Curse of Love you start to wonder what else they have hidden away in their vaults.

 

 

8/10

 

 

The Coral – The Watcher In The Distance

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Unlikely pairing yields Scott Walkers most enjoyable and listenable album in 19 years

 

 

In recent years Scott Walker’s musical output has been, well, harrowing at best. At times if feels that Walker is changeling his listeners to stick around until the album finishes. If/when you give up he is notified and chuckles while rubbing his hands laughing. This cannot be said for Soused. On this album Walker has released something that can be tangibly called ‘enjoyable’. A major factor of this new found enjoyment is down to his collaborators Sunn O))).

 

 

 

 

Sunn O))) are a three piece ambient metal group. Since their inception they have pushed the boundaries of what metal, experimental heavy rock and avant garde music can be. In a nutshell they play loud, slow, reparative and did I say loud? Their involvement on this album is a match made in heaven. What started off as a mutual love in, turned into something far more interesting and exciting. The juxtaposition of their hard, crunchy guitars and Walkers falsetto operative voice works perfectly and what’s more there are hooks that you can hum.

 

 

From the opening moment of Brando (Walkers opening vocals and a guitar riff that sounds a lot like Sweet Child of Mine), you get the impression that this is going to be something special. This gives way to the sound of a whip cracking and Sunn O)))’s trademark heavy, drawn out riffs. After that the album leads its own way through menacing soundscapes, riffs to die for and viseral lyrics for 48 minutes until the final track Lullaby (this isn’t something you’ll want to play to a baby to get them asleep) closes the album.

 

 

While this might not win Walker any new fans, it won’t alienate any existing ones. On Soused, Walker has created some of his most challenging, but listenable tracks in recent years. If you are dubious about an album of this type, heavy droney metal coupled with poetic lyrics (this is the album Lou Reed wanted to make with Metallica), don’t be, at times it’s light and playful, and extremely listenable! OK, this isn’t Scott 3, but it isn’t Tilt or Drift either.

 

 

9/10

 

 

Scott Walker – Bull

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Dorian Concept unveil sophomore album, it bridges the gap between original electronic pioneers and dance culture

 

 

Joined Ends, the second album by Austrian producer Oliver Johnson, is a journey through melody, rhythm and tone. Johnson takes as many cues from electronic pioneers and contemporary classical composures as he does from his dance peers.

 

 

The Sky Opposite starts off taking Philip Glass’s trademark sound, but updating it and layering it with luscious synths and vocals loops. As far as first songs go, it does its job. There is no build up, as soon as you press play, BAM, the song starts. It’s intricate patterns draws you in and before you know it, the song as finished. Ann River, Mn merges seamlessly and it’s more of the same, expect that the vocals are more pronounced.

 

 

As the album continues, it starts show its dance influences more and more. Mint is a five minute exercise in woozy synths, wonky beats and angular vocals. Daft Culture takes a simple riff, but through layering beats, bass and vocals, the resulting track is anything but simple. It’s these simple, but effective production techniques, not to mention exquisite compositions that makes this one of the stand out tracks.

 

 

Nest Nest however is where Johnson really lets rip. It shows off his expertise as a producer as well as a composer. His production touches are light, but effective in creating a specific mood and feeling. The strings flow around you with lyrical flourishes, but it’s the ether like synth and keyboard that holds the piece together.

 

 

Ultimately this is a good album and stronger than his debut, what lets it down however is that at times it’s more interesting to spot his influences, than to pay attention with what he is actually playing. Also when Johnson isn’t sure what to do with a track, or where to take it, he layers in vocals. While this adds texture, it can, after a while become grating.

 

 

7/10

 

 

Dorian Concept – Nest Nest

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Japanese electronic pioneer continues to infiltrate my subconscious, years after hearing the albums for the first time

 

 

Isao Tomita is a legend. He’s a pioneer. He stands alongside other such visionaries as Vangelis, Wendy Carlos, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Tomita’s work helped push the boundaries of what could be achieved with analog synths. Even now 40 years after their initial releases his albums still sound fresh and exciting.

 

 

As with a log of early electronic pioneers he recorded classical music on synths. Snowflakes are Dancing, his 1974 take on Debussy’s tone paintings is one of his more powerful and engaging works. With Snowflakes are Dancing he push the boundaries of classical, avant-garde, ambient, electronic synth pop. The sounds he created are luscious, but warming. The tones envelope you put you in a bubble.

 

 

As this is the day of rest (if you believe in such things) I am starting my day by having a nice cup of tea and listening to this wonderful album. The sky is blue, there is the promise of a lovely carvery later in the afternoon and work seems a long way off (even though it’s about 24 hours away)…

 

 

Isao Tomita – Grand Canyon Suite: Clair de Lune, No. 3

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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As sometimes happens on a Friday night when I stay in, I put on BBC4 and see what music documentaries they have on. Normally I find myself being drawn in by musicians I have no interested in, but am unable to stop watching the story of their lives. Last night, this happened again. The subject was Jeff Lynne. I know, Mr. Blue Sky himself. Over the years I have tried to ignore his music as much as possible. This was easier once I left home for uni, as my Dad used to play ELO a lot. And I mean A LOT! One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was giving him a copy of the Best of ELO (you know the one with the medal on the cover) on CD for his birthday. He had it on vinyl and cassette, but his new car had a CD player, so I thought he’d like it. It ruined so many journeys in the car.

 

 

So last night when I saw it was Jeff Lynne. Immediately I thought “Oh God no…”, but sadly after watching the curly permed Brummie for five minutes I was drawn in. Basically he’s a really nice guy. He knows he’s stuck it lucky with his career and that’s, in all fairness, quite refreshing to see. He wasn’t being a dick with his rock n roll stories. He was being very honest and charming. The only thing that annoyed me about the documentary was then they had shots of his house, you could see all his gold discs. At first I thought it was ostentatious, but then I thought, “Where else are you going to put them?” Why hide them in a cupboard? If you’ve proud of your achievements why not show off a bit?

 

 

Since I’ve woken up I’ve had this song in my head. It was possibly the first time I appreciated Lynne’s brilliance (cheers Paul Weller… ), and sadly it wasn’t until later that I realised that maybe my Dad was right about him all these years (don’t tell him I said that). If you get the chance check out the Eldorado album, as far as concept albums go it’s alright.

 

 

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Ghost Culture co-produces dreamy ambient pop masterpiece

 

 

 

 

Lucid is the debut song by Kelly Lee Owens. Short version. It’s brilliant. Long version it’s bloody brilliant. Even long version it’s really bloody brilliant! Songs like this don’t come along very often. It has a dream like quality to it, but the pulsating beat stops you drifting off. Lucid is an apt title, as the track feels like the definition of the word. The beats and bass are crisp, yet the synth and keys envelope you while the vocals keep you grounded. This is in part down to its co-producer Ghost Culture (we are long time admirers of his work at thisyearinmusic towers). You can hear his flourishes all over the track.

 

 

 

 

The last time Owens was heard, she was on Daniel Avery’s (instant classic) debut. On these three tracks she showed the versatility and adaptability of her voice. However on Lucid she is up front and the tone and quality of her voice come through. While it’s too early to start shouting her name from rooftops and calling her the crossover artists the current scene has been missing, she is definitely one to watch over the next few months if this is anything to go by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Glen Campbell signs off career with a Beatles-esque tear jerker

 

 

After a career lasting over 50 years, Glen Campbell is calling it a day. A major factor in his retirement has been his worsening Alzheimer’s syndrome, which he has had since 2011. On his final single I’m Not Going to Miss You, Campbell signs off with an exquisite track.

 

 

It starts off simply enough with a piano, vocal sounds and guitars, but it’s the lyrics that really drive home how debilitating this disease really is.

 

 

I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end
You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you.
Not gonna miss you.

 

Croons Campbell. To call the lyrics heartfelt is an understatement. He is spilling his soul to us, while he still remembers who ‘us’ are. He knows that his time is short and wants to go out all guns blazing, like the (rhinestone) cowboy he is! Later in the song he sings

I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry
I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains
I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you

 

 

To know that in a short period of time you won’t remember your family and friends is heartbreaking. To hear them in a song is groundbreaking. At times I’m Not Going to Miss You touches on the intensity and emotion as Johnny Cash’s swansong Hurt. The tone and quality of Campbell’s voice is not in question, which makes his departure from music even more sad and moving.

 

 

Ultimately this is an amazing piece of music, but deep down I wish it had never been written, as it means one of my favourite musician’s will no longer be around. Try not to well up while listening to this, I know I couldn’t.

 

 

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Noel Gallagher sets up second High Flying Bird’s album with comeback single

 

 

In the Heat of the Moment is the comeback track from Noel Gallagher. It picks up where his debut solo album (High Flying Bird’s) left off. The guitars are big and dumb, the chorus is catchy and the verses fill in the gaps. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from Noely G. If this is what the new album is going to sound like then its business as usual. Which is all fine, but, well, ultimately we feel let down.

 

 

This is the man who inspired a generation of kids to pick up guitars (for better or worse). He wrote songs that are engraved into the national psyche. He had a feud with the other great singer songwriter of his time, and they inspired each other to make great music, and for five minutes he made supporting Manchester City cool.

 

 

When Oasis broke up (for the last time) I promise and potential was there for him to do something different. He wasn’t shackled by his band mate’s abilities to match his vision. He could stop writing three minute pop songs and start to create the music he loved (psychedelic inspired space rock). In interviews before the release of the first High Flying Bird’s album he hinted that he had two albums in the pipeline. The first was a standard rock album and the second was a collaboration with the Amorphous Androgynous. While High Flying Bird’s album played it safe (a little too safe for some) we were promised something special to follow. Over the months (and years) since its release Gallagher has said that the Amorphous Androgynous album has been scrapped. Personally I think this is down to fear. Is it fear that the album wouldn’t live up to the hype, or that the music he made would push him too far away from the mainstream, or that it wasn’t very good? Sadly we’ll never know. Whether these songs will feature on new album Chasing Yesterday will remain to be seen. If In the Heat of the Moment is anything to go by the answer is now.

 

 

If Gallagher is going to continue to play it safe, it seems pointless that he won’t reform his old band, as the majority of his songs always sounded better coming out of someone else’s mouth (namely brother Liam). While In the Heat of the Moment isn’t the worst song I’ve heard, it isn’t the best, and nowhere near as good as his earlier work. So come on Noel, patch things up with Liam, even if it’s just for the money, as ultimately you both need each other to surpass where your current birds are flying.

 

 

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Bowie returns with surprise release, some people’s world implodes, others don’t

 

 

Right so the one thing the World needs right now it a new David Bowie track. In certain camps this is the biggest, most pressing thing going on. In others it’s just an old man releasing a long waffly faux-jazz number. I’m probably being harsh on the Thin White Duke, but this doesn’t move me in anyway. The first 30 seconds are interesting, vague skittering drum and bass beats against a wall of feedback and distressed bass, then it doesn’t do anything or go anywhere. When his vocals enter the mix it sounds like Bowie has been listening to a lot of Scott Walker. The difference between this and Scott Walker’s more recent work, is that Walker REALLY pushes the boundaries of what music can be. He looks inside himself and drags out dark and intense ideas and puts them to music. I’m not saying that it’s an easy, or pleasant, listen. It’s not, but you have to respect him for going his own way. This feels slightly pedestrian. “Look at me! Look at me! I’m an ARTIST” it screams “I don’t just write pop songs”.

 

 

My main problem with Sue (or in a Season of Crime), is that you can see the sum of its parts too clearly. A bit of Scott Walker, some Vivian Stanshall there, a sprinkle of the Residents, a drop of jazz, a smidge of drum ‘n bass and heavy dose of the avant garde. I’m not saying that I want Bowie to reinvent the wheel every time he has new release but something more polished wouldn’t be a bad idea. As Sue (or in a Season of Crime) is part of a new odds and sods/Greatest Hits album being released next month it makes sense that it’s a little experimental and rough around the edges.

 

 

While this is true, over the years Bowie has tried his hand at most genres, I would prefer something more fully formed, rather than something new to help flog a new best of compilation.

 

 

 

 

 

October 2014

 

 

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Brighton singer songwriter unleashes opus on an unsuspecting world

 

 

King of Cats is a bit like Marmite. You’ll either love him or hate him. Personally I think he’s great. His music contains an honesty that others will strive a lifetime to achieve, not never reach. What you see and hear is what you get. I had the pleasure of seeing him a few days ago and it is a performance that will stay with me for a while.

 

 

What we got on that wet Friday night in Brighton was a man on a stage baring his soul. It was just him an electric guitar (played scratchily) with some kind of FX pedal(s). When he started I wasn’t keen. KofC sings in a falsetto, part childlike, and part feline screech. Imagine Daniel Johnston meets Robert Pollard. It was hard to take at first, but after a few songs I got into it and I started to hear the beauty it contained.

 

 

There was one song in particular that resonated with me more than the others. The chorus was “Not everybody gets the joke” over and over again, like a demented mantra. Was KoC saying that his performance was a joke and not to take him seriously, or was the song about some joke he’d told people and it hadn’t gone down well? I don’t know and partly I don’t care. I just liked the song.

 

 

Luckily for me KoC has just released it as his new single so I can play it to my heart’s content. It’s more polished here, and there isn’t the extended mantra outro, with is the only downside on this song. If you see KoC in your local area I implore you to go and check him out, as it’ll be a show you’ll remember for a long time!

 

 

 

 

http://kingofcats.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 October 2014

 

 

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