Monday, 21 November 2011

"Replica" by Oneohtrix Point Never

So here it is, making a late run for my album of the year, the new album by Oneohtrix Point Never.

Daniel Lopatin has already, as (I presume) the "Lopatin" half of Ford and Lopatin, produced a corker this year, with "Channel Pressure", their 21st Century ode to synth-etic 80s music.

However, under his OHP moniker, he has produced a sublime album of ambient drones, analogue synths and disconnected voices.

This beautiful and at times sinister drift music takes samples from TV adverts as the starting point. Not that this is obvious at any time - there's no "Um Bongo, Um Bongo, They drink it in the Congo" on this record - it's far more subtle than that (i.e. I can't place any of the samples)

I could list all the obvious and predictable reference points in the world of ambient/electronic music for this album, and at times those references would be spot on. However, those sort of reviews often comes across as trying to show how cool the reviewer is with their esoteric tastes. So, what the hell, I'll mention a few anyway.

At times the album touches on the darker edges of classic Global Communication or Aphex Twin's Ambient Works Volume II and, during "Power of Persuasion" (not, disappointingly, a cover of the ABC lost classic) threatens to merge into the Bladerunner Soundtrack via Philip Glass. Spooky, spellbinding and rich in melody and texture, with only the occasional track producing any noticeable rhythm to prevent you from floating away forever - this album is just too engaging to sit the background like some aural wallpaper, it's one of those "every time I listen to it I hear something new" sort of albums that people sometimes talk about.

Check out the artwork too - an 1936 illustration by Virgil Finlay of a vampire looking at his reflection in the mirror, seeing the skeleton of the person he once was. Apparently

Listen to it on Spotify: Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wilco (The Gig)

Does the world really need another fawning review of a Wilco gig? Probably not, but here we go anyway.

Some higlights:
  • The Radioheadesque (sorry) opener "Art of Almost" - where skittering beats and electronics collide with guitars.
  • "Impossible Germany" - *puts on muso voice* for the mind blowing guitar truel
  • Nels Clines collection of guitars - bonus points for the use of a double necked guitar on one song.
  • "Via Chicago" - and for Jeff Tweedy's ability to sing/play in time while the rest of the band unleash hell in the background.
  • The lampshades - nice homely addition to the spotlights
  • Jeff Tweedy berating a fan (what a surprise) for complaining about the hiss made by the smoke machine.
  • "One Sunday Morning" - a twelve minute song that goes nowhere and you never want it to leave.
  • "Handshake Drugs" and the other 14 songs.

So, one of the greatest live acts I've ever seen - they have such a vast back catalogue of live favourites that I left the gig thinking "this was one of the best gigs ever" but at the same time wondering why they didn't play songs such as Spiders (Kidsmoke), Wilco (The Song) or Hate It Here. Maybe they just need to play for longer next time.

And to be contrary, here's a song they didn't play...

Post Script. I bought a t-shirt outside the venue (sorry guys). Photo of it added to this blog.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Amon Duul vs Four Tet

The other day I was in the car listening to Archangels Thunderbird by Amon Duul II - three and a half minutes of spacey Sabbath-esque krautrock, with Renate Knaup doing her best banshee wailing over the top. Ideal music for inner city driving during rush hour. I kept thinking "this is the greatest drum break ever - I must get home and sample it, I can't believe no one else has picked up on this".

Then it dawned on me that someone already has - Four Tet, on his istillcan'tfindwordstodescribehowgooditis Glasshead. Two songs I've got to know inside out over the last couple of decades and it was only last week that I spotted the link. I really should pay attention more.

Anyway, it's an excuse to put up a link for both tunes.

Amon Duul - the drums kick in after about 7 seconds...

Four Tet - the sample is about 3:13 into the song...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mono - It's the New Black

"Ooh, but it's a lot of money..."

That's what I kept telling myself (and what everyone online keeps moaning about) when weighing up whether to get this. But finally, two
years down the line I've gone and treated myself to the Beatles In Mono box set.

And I have to say, it's a lovely item - If aural fidelity isn't your thing, and if you don't care much for the physical presentation (and presence) of music then you might as well stop reading now. (oh, and if you don't like the Beatles too).

So what do you get for your money? Well, all the Beatles' original mono recordings for starters - most of which do sound MUCH better (really!) than the stereo version that we've been force fed on vinyl, CD and on the radio for the last 40+ years. If their music blew you away in stereo, wait 'til you hear some of this. For example, She's Leaving Home and Don't Pass Me By played at the original speed (that's right - the versions we've known over the years were mixed in stereo at the wrong speed), the original/correct vocal takes on If I Fell and Help!, and even the version of Eleanor Rigby without the mistake in it!! ("it had a mistake in it?" I hear you say). Oh, and Tomorrow Never Knows now sounds like the scariest piece of music EVER! Just like it used to. God know why this stuff has been unavailable and unheard my so many of us for so long.

The packaging is lovely too - minaiture replicas of the original LP sleeves/inner sleeves/lyric sheets/postcards etc and a booklet with loads of geeky information about the mono versions. Badly taken photos never do these things justice do they?

I'm going to go and throw away one of my speakers now - looks like I won't be needing it again.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

James Yorkston - Live at the Brudenell Social Club: 4 September 2011

"I have no plans for world domination...I have no plans for gig domination". And so begins a compelling solo set from James Yorkston at a sparsely attended Brudenell Social Club - more fool those who stayed away.

Spellbinding, shambolic (in a good way) and self depreciating - "I hope no one has come here to celebrate their 30th birthday" he said as he launched into another maudlin song - the set touched on various points of his career and included two "new" songs improvised on the spot: One was a tour diary summarising his day thus far, the other a dialogue between himself and his cat (his cat wants feeding, but James is too busy playing his new guitar and, "anyway" he says to the cat, "what about those cat biscuits strewn across the kitchen floor - you can't be THAT hungry"). It was a joy to be in the pleasure of such greatness.

I didn't take any footage of the gig so instead, here's my favourite James Yorkston album, produced by Kieran "Four Tet" Hebden:
Just Beyond The River

Support came from the Big Eyes Family Players - a bunch of multi instrumentalists previously seen collaborating with Mr Yorkston on the Folk Songs album of 2009 - played a set of folk covers and original compositions, their blend of traditional instruments reminding me of the mellower moments from Gorky Zygotic Mynci's Barafundle album.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, my friend Ron and I wore similar shoes that night - he suggested I took a photo so here it is...

Friday, 26 August 2011

Green Man Festival 2011

So, I've finally motivated myself enough to put a few badly written words together about this year's festival; the sunniest one in the five years I've been going.

Despite the main stage headliners being slightly underwhelming this year, there was still plenty of excellent stuff to see/hear/do and plenty of great stuff that I missed.

Here's some of my highlights that I did catch, based on the rough notes I'd scribbled on my phone whilst watching bands.

Holy Fuck (or Holy Cow as they are known in our child-friendly house), headlining the Far Out tent on Friday night, played their usual blistering set of noise funk, whist the front two members were constantly re-patching their instruments as if they'd forgot to bring enough audio cables with them.

Y Niwl, "the Welsh Shadows", at the Green Man pub, put together a 40 minute set of 60s garage rock and surf music, which everyone from Black Francis to Quentin Tarrantino knows is arguably the coolest sound known to rock. Giving each song a number rather than a title (their set taught me the numbers from 1 to 20 in Welsh) is a nice way of avoiding over-pretentious titles for instrumentals too.

And here they are playing Undegpedwar (that's Fourteen in English)..

Laura J Martin deserves a special mention, purely for bringing Chaka Demus and Pliers back to the masses with her kooky ambient folk cover of Tease Me.
Destroyer were a strange choice to headline the Far Out tent on the Saturday night, which showed in the rather thin crowd who watched them. Nonetheless, after a shaky start, where the band seemed strangely detached from the mid paced music they were playing, a stunning version of Suicide Demo for Kara Walker saw them shift into another gear as the second half of the set took on a...err..distinctly balearic feel.

After that I caught the first few songs of Fleet Foxes' headline set on the Main Stage - now I love their albums and, yes, their harmonies are beautiful, but live they left me a bit cold. Maybe it's just that Saturday night isn't the right time for their music (they're more a mid afternoon in the sun kind of band), so I left early; as did a few others who I bumped into during another jaw-dropping set from Squarepusher, who was kicking off 4 hours of "after dark" music courtesy of Warp records. One hour of Tom Jenkinson on bass and FX pedals with a live drummer, creating sounds you can barely imagine and a set of tunes that it was impossible to dance out of time to (trust me, I tried). Nice touch with the futuristic microphone headpiece too. There's no footage of him from the festival online yet, but here's an feature and interview with him from the Culture Show in 2006...possibly the greatest living bass guitarist?
Sunday daytime was all about James Blake's mid afternoon set, played to a packed crowd on the main stage, with the loudest valley-shaking bass I've heard in a long time. Anyone unconvinced by his debut album really needs to catch him live. Seems like a lovely guy too.

To finish the weekend off in style, Suuns seem to have found a winning formula of brooding electro and dirty rock, before "national treasure" Gruff Rhys' set sent us all packing with a smile on our faces. Because that's what he can't help but do...

Monday, 11 July 2011

Nick Cave on The Tube

I'm going through one of my "listen to everything by...." phases at the moment - I'm currently about halfway through Nick Cave's back catalogue.

It reminded me to track down this performance from The Tube in 1986 - it was the first time I saw Nick Cave "live" (he's actually miming) and probably the first time I heard his music. We'd taken the day of school to be part of the audience for the Tube, in particular to watch Heaven 17 - who were pushing their soon to be released Pleasure One album - play live for the first time. It's a shame they hadn't done this a few years earlier when they had something better to promote.

Anyway, I can't say that I enjoyed it at the time, but there was something about Nick Cave's performance that drew me in. Maybe it was the fact that he scared me a bit, and I was convinced that he was glaring at ME all the way through the performance - I didn't know whether to stare back at him or look away (I shuffled uncomfortably on the spot for three and a half minutes). On watching this now, I'm guessing that he probably didn't have a clue who or what, if anything, he was looking at.

Still, it's a great doomy cover version of this Johnny Cash song

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The "Joe Strummer Memorial" Busking Tour

One chilly afternoon in October 2008, with a biting wind blowing, Julian Cope and Black Sheep turned up at the site of the Peterloo massacre to perform the Manchester leg of his Joe Strummer Memorial Busking Tour. Over 3 days they travelled the country, busking at "UK cultural centres" (11 of 'em according to the website) - it was advertised online a couple of days before they set of and no times were advertised, so it was very much a case of hanging around and waiting for them to show up. When they did arrive, he had a brief chat with us before starting the...err...gig. It was a pleasure to meet the great man.

I decided to capture some of it on my phone and, had my hand not turned blue with the cold wind, I'd have filmed more. Still, what you have here is fairly representative. Check out the other people's videos on Youtube for other footage of this and other venues.

Here's what the Head Heritage site had to say about the choice of venue:

"On August 16th, 1819, the huge crowd of 80,000 people, which had gathered in Manchester’s St. Peter’s Field to protest about the price of bread due to the unfairness of the new Corn Laws, were brutally attacked by cavalry fresh from the Battle of Waterloo who’d been sent to police the situation. With over 700 injured and 15 dead, the incident became known as the Peterloo Massacre and led to the forming of the Manchester Guardian."

And here's the footage I took:

And the highlight - parts 3 and 4 are one track (I missed the first 5 or 10 minutes I'm afraid) split into two, incorporating a version of Pristeen and the legendary "face solo"...

Stills from the video are also on Flickr

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Destroyer - Kaputt

Now, I know this is going to divide opinion - having saxophones, soft rock and 80s pop as reference points are likely to send many people running to the hills, or assuming that there must be an "ironic" angle to the music - but this is SUCH a good album, which adds up to so much more than it's obvious influences suggest.

Check out Bay Of Pigs' singer-songwriter take on ambient house (amongst other things), Savage Night At the Opera's 'Enola Gay' referencing guitar riff or - and you'll have to trust me on this one, as it's not on the Spotify version (it's on the vinyl or UK CD version of the album) - the stunning twenty minute The Laziest River, which threatens to turn into 'The Boys Of Summer'. about 12 minutes in.

Listen to the album on Spotify: Destroyer – Kaputt

...or have a look at the lovely video for the title track...

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Now this is very exciting, as I've just got the fantastic reissue of Suede's debut album - 2 CDs and a DVD packed full of goodies to remind you how essential the band were. It's been remastered and no doubt some people will say that it sounds far better than the previous versions, but I'll leave that judgement to others. I liked the sound of it first time round...

Anyway, it still stands as one of THE great debut albums; a flawed classic, which now comes packed with plenty of goodies - all the associated b-sides, which at times surpass many of the tracks that made it onto the album. To The Birds, My Insatiable One, The Big Time etc. are some of the strongest songs they ever did. You also get some serviceable demos and unreleased songs to pad out the two CDs.

Best of all (for me at least) is contained on the DVD - amongst other things is a newly discovered film of the incredible Leadmill concert from February 1993. If I was one to list my top fives then this would be in my top five gigs of all time. Rescheduled from the postponed date in late 1992, the gig took place a few days after Animal Nitrate was released and caught the band just as everything started going a bit crazy and top 10 - I remember queuing up from mid afternoon outside the Leadmill in the freezing snow to make sure we got in and the whole gig just blew me away. The band are wired, the crowd are wired and Brett Anderson had to perform most of the gig topless after his shirt (blouse?) was torn to shreds some fans (not me!)

Anyway, buy it, listen to it and watch it!

One a similar note, I've also got hold of the Dog Man Star reissue, which follows the same format and approach, and contains the stunning full length (7+ minutes) version of The Wild Ones - worth the entry fee alone.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Hungover on Chorlton FM

So, Chorlton FM ends for another year and it's been a lot of fun to be involved with it. DJing at the launch party was a good, if stressful, experience (why does the equipment never work as you want it to?) and being the "producer" for a couple of That Morning Thing shows with Jonathan Darwin was another good experience - (Producer: (n) a person who does the occasional bit of tech op-ing, makes brews for guests and chats to the DJ during songs to give him something else to talk about when he's on air).

Anyway, the highlight was, naturally, the two shows that I presented...

Hungover with Accident and Emergency (10am; 22 May 2011)
Asked to put together a set of my own music (the station is all about promoting local "talent" after all), I elected to play a selection of tracks by the A+E men - Brooksoid, Radiator Boy (that's me) and Spott.

Radiator Boy - Cumin In Your Ears (early version)
Brooksoid - Don’t Be Afraid (Organ Tune)
Spott - Ode to Gin
Radiator Boy - Someday
Brooksoid - Comfortable Holes
Radiator Boy - The Drop (Parts i, ii and iv)
Spott - Niblits
Brooksoid - BestFriend
Radiator Boy - Direct Cut
Spott - LV
Radiator Boy - Heavens Above
Brooksoid - Oranje-Boom
Spott - 1888
Spott - Tilted
Radiator Boy - Pearl
Brooksoid - We Are Observing Your Earth

"Cumin In Your Ears" was an experiment with Ableton software - improvised and recorded in about 5 minutes shortly before I did the show, hence the rough and ready feel to the track. I may come back to it at some point...

Hungover with Tim Wright (10am; 29 May 2011)
Allowed back for another session, this was focussed more on music by other people, but including three of my favourites from the A+E show. Also includes my ramblings and an ident courtesy of my daughter.

David Bowie - Fantastic Voyage
Meanderthals - Kunst or Ars
Bibio - Lover's Carvings
Radiator Boy - Pearl
Bill Drummond - Julian Cope is Dead
Julian Cope - Robert Mitchum
Can - I'm So Green
Spott - Ode to Gin
Lambchop - This Corrosion
Balanescu Quartet - The Model
Brooksoid - We Are Observing Your Earth
Fujiya and Miyagi - Collarbone
Caribou - Melody Day (Four Tet Remix)
The Flaming Lips - Phoebe Battles The Pink Robots
Steve Mason - Am I Just a Man
The Zombies - The Way I Feel Inside
Brian Eno - On Some Faraway Beach

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements

My favourite album by Stereolab, one of my favourite bands. It brings together the band's love of krautrock, 60s garage and easy listening, whilst striking the perfect balance between experimentation, repetition, melody and marxism (probably) - managing to be both derivative and innovative.

It's also housed in one of my favourite record covers, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the band like to wear their influences on their record sleeves too - I picked this up from King Bee Records today, "Hi Fi Sound Stereo Test Record" from 1974.

Even the track names (or "tests" as the album calls them) could be Stereolab titles. my favourite being side one, test 2: "Lateral modulation for determination of tracking pressure in conjunction with bias correction".


Saturday, 16 April 2011

Record Store Day 2011

So, another year, another successful record store day, but the question is – what next? Looking at the number of people queuing up outside record shops, and the number of exclusive records that were release for the day, it did remind me a bit of valentines day – a lovely sentiment, but surely people should be making the effort all year round. It’s all very well people spending a heap of cash on records one day a year, but that alone isn’t going to keep the independent record stores afloat. And as for the artists and labels – much as I love them making these exclusive releases to celebrate Record Store Day, surely EVERYTHING they release should be exclusive and a little bit special. If not, why are they bothering to make or sell music?

The queue outside Piccadilly Records - Saturday 16 April 2011. 7:20am

Anyway, cynicism aside, I did pick up some good stuff although I missed out on a couple of things I really wanted (Suede 7” and the Far Out Psych 7” box set). I must get there earlier next year; I hear that some people started queuing at midnight, so I think I’ll start queuing the day before at about 5pm - whilst the shop is still open.

So, here’s the lovely records I picked up :

Arp – Pastoral Symphony remixes 12”

Franz Ferdinand – Covers 12” EP (Debbie Harry, Stephen Merrit, LCD Soundsystem, ESG and Peaches all covering FF songs)

KORT – Please Don’t Touch 7”

Yeasayer – End Blood 7”

Clinic – Ladies Night 10” EP

Mute Records’ Vorwarts LP&CD

Some were even on lovely coloured vinyl. Mmm mmmm

The couple in front of me each bought a copy of the Radiohead 12” – the last 2 in the store – I presume this was either to sell one on ebay, or they were hedging their bets about the long term prospects of their relationship and didn’t want the headache of sorting out who owns which records at some future date.

Nice to see so many of the records already going for a fortune on ebay too – I’m sure that will do wonders for the independent record stores.

Oh, and I also got this excellent bag, which came with a free mix CD (or was it a mix CD with a free bag?). I think it sums up the day quite well.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Holy Ghost! this is good

Now, I like this a lot.

Missing LCD Soundsystem already? This 80s tinged disco-rock from James Murphy's DFA label might help fill the void.

Listen: Holy Ghost on Spotify

Two songs from The All Seeing I, plus a letter from Phil Oakey

A couple of songs from the wonderful soap opera album that is "Pickled Eggs and Sherbet" - an album that embraces multiple generations from the Sheffield music scene.

Yuri Gagarin might have been the first man in space, but he never told the story quite like this....

...but this is Phil Talking, with a letter on returning to earth - "now everyone's a rocket man, as long as it's served with a balsamic dressing"

And, here's Walk Like a Panther - Tony Christie's sequel to Is This The Way To Amarillo...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Visual Playlists

When you've got a record collection so large, how do you decide what to listen to? To help me, I'll often set myself rules that will help draw out music that, otherwise, could be neglected for years.

Earlier last year, Jocelyn gave me the idea of putting the records I was listening to out on display, to give a bit more colour to the room - this led to the question "why not chose a visual theme to dictate my listening habits?"; and here's the occasional results so far.

Try doing this with your mp3 playlists!

Day Glo - April 2010

Beck - Midnite Vultures
The Irrisistible Force - It's Tomorrow Already
Stereolab - Peng
De La Soul - Three Feet High and Rising
Etienne De Crecy - Super Discount
Stereolab - Switched On
Vector Lovers - Vector Lovers
Brain Donor - Love, Peace and Fuck
Neu - Crazy/Euphoria
V/A - Deutche Elektronische Musik
Run DMC - Raising Hell
Ultravox - U-Vox

Animals - June 2010

Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling
Grinderman - Grinderman
Basement Jaxx - Where's Your Head At?
Jim O'Rourke - Halfway to a Threeway
Julian Cope - Droolian
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas - Mighty Girl
Tindersticks - Can Our Love
Mouse on Mars - Niun Niggung
The Teardrop Explodes - Kilimajaro
Depeche Mode - Speak and Spell
Jake Thackray - Bantam Cock
Faith No More - Angel Dust

Halloween (death, demons, skulls and melting faces) - October 2010

Aphex Twin - Girl/Boy
Grinderman - Heathen Child
Amon Duul II - Live in London
The Hours - See the Light
The Damned - Phantasmagoria
AC/DC - If You Want Blood
Stump - Quirk Out
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (3)
Supergrass - Supergrass
Peter Sellers - Songs for Swinging Sellers
Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (back cover)
David Bowie - I'm Afraid of Americans