Sunday, 8 December 2013

Hungover Albums 2013

So here it is, the moment you've all not been waiting for. In the absence of a Hungover radio show, here's some albums that either featured on the show or would've done if Chorlton FM was still on air - some albums that I really like, including some that I will no doubt have forgot about in a couple of years. You might like some of them too.

Public Service Broadcasting - Inform-Educate-Entertain
The much anticipated (by me) debut album. Having already heard half the album through previous singles, I was thinking "hang on, I want something new", but given that ROYGBIV, Spitfire, Everest and Signal 30 were all astonishing singles, it would be foolish to miss them off. The other tracks couldn't quite live up to these standards, but then not much can.

Warm Digits - Interchange

Steve Mason - Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time
Fantastic ambitious album finally realising the potential of the Beta Band over an entire album. I thought Boys Outside was a great album, but this is even better!

Arctic Monkeys - AM
Despite what the NME claim, this isn't their best-ever album and bringing in an R'n'B influence isn't all that radical - after all, R'n'B artists have been doing it for years. But it is still a fantastic forward thinking alternative rock album. The closing track "I Wanna Be Yours" does sound like a Flight of the Conchords song though.

Joe Gideon and the Shark - Freakish
A band I fell in love with by chance (The Deltics supported them back in 2009 or whenever) - lovely people, awesome live band. Finally a second album comes out, complete with more of Gideon's black comedic tales of self loathing and loves lost and found - and this time The Shark gets to sing two songs.

Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2
Soul Jazz release a second volume of...err...Krautrock. Covering the well known (Faust, Tangerine Dream, Can) and the lesser known (Electric Sandwich anyone? ) it's an equal to volume one and even introduced me to some new (old) music.

Cavern of Anti-Matter - Blood-Drums
The blink and you'll miss it release featuring Stereolab's Tim Gane. Like an instrumental Stereolab album with more Krautrock and less farfisa organs. A few hundred copies were pressed. On vinyl only.

The Flaming Lips - The Terror
The lush production of "Yoshimi..." and "At War With the Mystice" seems a long long time ago now. A dark, chilling album with some great tunes buried inside somewhere.

David Bowie - The Next Day
A promising debut album.

Ian McNabb - Eclectic Warrior
Boots has continued to write some great tunes, but here he's found a band in Cold Shoulder, who come on like a psych rock Crazy Horse, that can do the songs justice. Highlight for me (and arguably my favourite track of the year) is the astonishing nine minute opus Memory Be Good To Me, Memory Come Back To Me.

R. Seilog - Doppler
From a spellbinding set at The Green Man festival to this promising mini LP.

OMD - English Electric
Aren't old bands who have reformed supposed to put out albums that trade on the band's 'classic' sound and former glories? I guess that's exactly what you've got here, but those former glories here include the career suicide Dazzle Ships album, so we get a new release featuring spoken word announcements, women counting up to ten and some bloke saying "I want a future so bright that it burns my eyes". Oh, and some tunes too.

Queens of the Stone Age - Like Clockwork
It's just so good to have them back.

Julian Cope - Revolutionary Suicide
Steadily turning into our greatest living historian, how can his poppiest album in years contain a stunning 15 minute dirge called The Armenian Genocide? We also get They Were On Hard Drugs, which takes us on an alternative tour of how the ancients lived whilst the title track has the most Cope-like key change ever.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
Do I need to repeat what I've already said?

Euros Childs - Situation Comedy
Darker and funnier than an episode of Terry and June.

Oh/Ex/Oh - Extant
Released in late December 2012 but I'm letting this one sneak in as I didn't hear it until 2013. The Boards of Canada album was very good, but this stood out for me as one of the great electronic albums of the year.

Hookworms - Pearl Mystic
Deep fried space rock from Yorkshire

Friday, 18 October 2013

Euros Childs - Situation Comedy

Bad day at the office and then I get home to find this waiting for me a few days ahead of its release date. A new album by Euros Childs.

I'm pretty sure that every record that Euros has been involved in, from the early Gorky's Zygotic Mynci releases through to his most recent 'experimental' release At The Dance, has brought a smile to my face. 

This is no different.

Things that made me smile:
It's on vinyl.
The front cover, with a grumpy Euros in front of a picture of him as a child with (I presume) his dad.
The gatefold sleeve - a still from the Tête a Tete video (see below)
The song titles - Ooh La Oona, Brides in the Bath, Holiday From Myself.
Sample lyrics: "I'm not going to dress up like your mother anymore".
And that's all before I've even listened to the music.

On first listen - and I'm writing this as I listen to it for the first time - it puts forward a convincing case for being his finest solo album. Piano led, but featuring a full band (including Laura J Martin on flute), the album is overflowing with melodies to die for and sugar coated with Euros's vocals - still one of the sweetest voices there is. Things come to an impressive finale when the beautifully stunning (or is that stunningly beautiful) Trick of the Mind floats by for 14 minutes.

Oh, and whenever I buy music direct from his National Elf website, I get a personal note from Euros (I presume he does this for everyone and he's not just singled me out as his überfan). "Hello Tim. Thanks for buying Situation Comedy. Hope you like it! Euros" it said. It made me smile.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

R.Seiliog - Doppler

After blowing us away with his closing set at this year's Green Man Festival, R.Seiliog releases a mini-LP of krautrock doodles, which is the perfect companion piece to the new Cavern of Anti-Matter album.
A promising sign of things to come - please make it a full length album next time though.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Cavern of Anti-Matter - Blood Drums

Heading towards the top of the album charts anytime soon... Oh, hang on, it's a vinyl only release that hardly any record stores seem to be selling? It was always likely to be a niche recording anyway, but I suppose those of you who don't have a turntable or the will power to track this down are just going to have to trust me on this one.  Because this is a great album! The ideal companion piece to R.Seiliog's recently released Doppler mini album.

Following on from the "You Are An Art-Soul" EP (different versions of all those tracks appear here), former Stereolab man Tim Gane 's latest venture involves the band taking you through 16 tracks of loose jams, broken analogue techno, and post-krautrock bliss - or, as the text on the gatefold sleeve brilliantly states, 'black and white psychedelia'.

"Movin' on Static" almost makes you want to dance and "Dystopian Shopping Mall" sounds just like the music you would expect in a dystopian shopping mall - The Love Unlimited Orchestra collaborating with Throbbing Gristle. The whole thing sounds very much as you would expect from a Stereolab-related record.

Anyway, have fun tracking this down. It's probably a limited edition too, just to enhance its obscurity rating. Destined to become a lost classic.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Beautiful Rewind

And out of nowhere (other than a warning a couple of months ago that an album would appear out of nowhere)  Four Tet's new album, Beautiful Rewind, arrives on my doorstep.

First impressions? Beautiful. Lots of sampled female vocals so far.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Cavern of Anti-Matter - You Are An Art Soul EP

So this is the latest project by (ex?) Stereolab members Tim Gane and Joe Dilworth (are the band still "on a break" or have they officially split up?). It's great - sounds very much like the more out-there Stereolab moments but without Laetitia Sadiers sweet melodies and vocals.
Three Neu!-esque workouts, two of which are "versions", which I presume means the upcoming album versions will be different - maybe there'll be some singing and less echo. The wonderful "sound-magic's Death Ray Destroys The Vortex And Has Union With Infinity" even, at one point, threatens to morph into Television-do-Krautrock.

The vinyl is exclusive to Rough Trade shops and is limited to 320 copies, which is a hell of a haul for one shop!

There's no picture sleeve so you'll have to make do with some photos of the label instead...

The band live in Berlin earlier this year:

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Steel City (Move On Up)

It's not all 'cool' records around here you know. I thought I'd post something about a football record...

The Hillsboro' Crew was a collaboration featuring Martyn Ware & Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17 and Ian Reddington - AKA Eastenders' Tricky Dicky and, for those who survived it during the late '80s, Dr Who's Chief Clown (who was, essentially, a psychotic new romantic).

The verses, a rap by Mr Reddington, eulogise the 1986 high flying (hey, we finished 5th in Division 1) Sheffield Wednesday squad, whilst the chorus is lifted from Little Steven's Sun City. There's also time to squeeze in a bit of Funkadelic and Ollie and Jerry's "No Stopping Us" for good measure because, at that time, there really was no stopping us (except in those matches we lost).

But is it any good? Well it's better than the Owls/Thompson Twins remake of You Take Me Up from the previous year.

Back when we were good.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Mother of Pearl

My favourite Roxy Music tune - sonically and lyrically a masterpiece, proving that Eno and Roxy Music were perhaps both better off for going their separate ways.

Listening to this on headphones I could lose myself forever, endlessly dissecting all that is going on in this tune.

Turn the lights dow
(Way down low)
Turn up the music
(Hi as Fi can go)
All the gang's here
(Everyone you know)
It's a crazy scene
(Hey there just look over your shoulder)
Get the picture?
(No no no no) Yes
Walk a tightrope
(Your life-sign-line)
Such a bright hope
(Right place, right time)
What's your number?
(Never you mind)
Take a powder
(But hang on a minute, what's coming round the corner?)
Have you a future?
(No no no no)  Yes

Well, I've been up all night again
Party time wasting is too much fun
Then I step back thinking
Of life's inner meaning and my latest fling

It's the same old story
All love and glory, it's a pantomime
If you're looking for love
In a looking glass world
It's pretty hard to find

Oh, mother of pearl
I wouldn't trade you
For another girl

Divine intervention
Always my intention
So I take my time
I've been looking for something
I've always wanted but was never mine
But now I've seen that something
Just out of reach glowing very Holy grail

Oh, mother of pearl
Lustrous lady of a sacred world

Thus even Zarathustra
Another time loser
Could believe in you
With every Goddess a let down
Every idol a bring down, it gets you down
But the search for perfection
Your own predilection
Goes on and on and on and on

Canadian Club love
A place in the Country
Everyone's ideal
But you are my Favorita
And a place in your heart, dear
Makes me feel more real

Oh, Mother of Pearl
I wouldn't change you
For the whole world

You're highbrow, holy
With lots of soul
Melancholy shimmering
Serpentine sleekness
Was always my weakness
Like a simple tune
But no dilettante, filigree fancy
Beats the plastic you

Career girl cover
Exposed and another
Slips right into view
Oh, looking for love
In a looking glass world
Is pretty hard for you

Few throwaway kisses
The boomerang misses
Spin round and round
Fall on featherbed quilted
Faced with silk
Softly stuffed eider down
Take refuge in pleasure
Just give me your future
We'll forget your past

Oh, Mother of Pearl
Submarine lover
In a shrinking world

Oh, lonely dreamer
Your choker provokes
A picture cameo

Oh, Mother of Pearl
So so semi precious
In your detached world

Oh, Mother of Pearl
I wouldn't trade you
For another girl

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Warm Digits - Interchange

Given that the Warm Digits' debut album contained the Kraftwerk ode Trans-Pennine Express, is only right that they get their own transportation system to soundtrack, namely the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Interchange is, according to the band's website, 'an album and experimental film inspired by images drawn from the Tyne and Wear Archives, of the 1970s’ biggest civil engineering project on Tyneside – the construction of Metro.'

The film (which can be seen as a set of videos for each of the album's tracks) is excellent, but the music stands alone as an exceptional album - there's nothing particularly new going on here, but what you do get is 6 tracks of fantastic analogue synths and some fairly funky, head nodding krautrock.

Anyway, it's now available as an 'art edition', which means 180g vinyl, DVD, lovely artwork and screen prints.

Set along to a tinny drum machine, Cut and Cover sends us straight into that familiar Neu/Harmonia riff until the three minute mark, at which point the drums, bass and fuzzed guitar kick in with a new melody, shortly followed by what sounds like half their synths breaking down.

Following this is Working For A Better Future, which has an altogether more frantic disco/ Punk Funk feel that wouldn't sound out of place on Simple Minds' classic Empires and Dance album, before kosmische keyboards and piano take us to the blissed out world of The Connected Coast.

At times the album reminds me of post rockers Trans Am or Holy Fuck with thunderous rhythms and overloaded guitar/keyboard workouts. You can imagine the conversations in the recording studio:
"I think this track is almost done - what else does it need?"
"More? More what?"
"More everything"

The album comes to a climax with the percussive Terminus, where a variety of instruments carry the main refrain until, just as you wonder where it's all going, an almighty life affirming melody comes crashing in to close the show. 

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Endless Heaven 17

I was never a big fan of cassettes - I probably never had a good enough cassette player to do them justice, so all I experienced was relatively low quality sound, which either had too much hiss or was muffled (courtesy of the Dolby button).

Oh, and there was no getting away from the fact that SOME TAPE PLAYERS PLAYED AT DIFFERENT SPEEDS - I got a shock when I first heard Sgt Pepper at the correct speed after a decade of hearing it being played slightly too fast.

Having said that, I still owned a few.

But there are probably only three albums that I have fond memories of on cassette - The Cure's Standing on a Beach (the singles on one side and their b-sides filling up 45 minutes on side 2), New Order's Substance (a whole extra tape of b-sides!) and this from 1986, Endless by Heaven 17.

Housed in a Factory Records style box, this 'best of' album didn't follow the traditional format of including the 7" version of the singles. H17 have always had one eye on the dancefloor ('special fortified dance mixes' and 'remixed to enhance its danceability' their 12”s proclaimed) and so it was  only right that they instead sequenced together an almost continuous mix of the 12" versions of their singles (plus the occasional b-side).  Containing an extra 4 tracks than the CD version - Play To Win, At The Height Of The Fighting, I'm Your Money and Song With No Name - this was the format to get.

The only downside, presumably because it was too slow, was the omission of Come Live With Me.

This was also, allegedly, the first non-vinyl album to chart in the UK, although I can't find any evidence to back this up - just summat I read somewhere.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Archiv 1: A Transparent CD

Sorting through some of my CDs, I stumbled upon this. Is it the first ever transparent CD? Come to think of it, how many other transparent CDs are there?

"Archiv 1" was compiled for, and came free with issue 238 (December 2003) of, The Wire Magazine, it's a collection of  beautiful minimalist glitch music (reminding me of the wonderful series of Clicks and Cuts albums released on the Mille Plateaux label) compiled by the German label Raster Noton - often sounding like slightly malfunctioning electronics ("what is that clicking noise?") and with high frequencies that are likely to upset your pets.

Reading through the list of artists featured on the CD isn't so much a who's who of electronic music, more a "who?!", with Robert Lippok being arguably the most famous artist on the album. 

It comes in a nice transparent bag with a transparent plastic sheet containing the track listing.

Friday, 26 July 2013

New Home for the CDs

....and it's still not big enough...

Odd sleeve for Odessey and Oracle

Recognise this album? 

You might know the name - The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle is rightly now seen as a chamber pop classic. But what happened to the sleeve?

The original (by Terry Quirk, who allegedly misspelt "odyssey" in his design) was all 60s psychedelia and flower power, so what happened with this version that I own? A reissue from 1986, the painting is more in line with a bad 80s prog/metal album.

If it was a case of not being able to licence the original artwork at the time, surely anything - even a painting by the compilers 3 year old child - would have been more fitting.

Friday, 28 June 2013

A Plugged In State Of Mind

Bought a new book today. Looking at the albums it features is a bit like the old Panini sticker swap game...

"Got, got, got....not got....got".

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Short and Curlies - At The Dance

Short & Curlies? One of the first things that sprang to mind when I heard the name was long forgotten dance duo Phats and Small (it's just the way my mind works sometimes), and I imagined the album being a Welsh tribute to their sound and many hits (Turn Around and, err, probably some others). Fortunately this wasn't the case - maybe for the next album eh? - and it turns out not to be a duo but a band featuring Euros Childs along with other such luminaries as Laura J Martin, R. Seiliog, Stephen Black, Megan Childs and Huw Evans.
Chart smashing hits aren't high on the band's agenda as, to quote Euros, "the album is completely instrumental, doesn't have verses and choruses and can't really be classified as pop music. So if you like your music with choruses, words and singing this might not be the album for you".

A monophonic recording, side one is definately the side that is "at the dance" or, as appears to be the case, is at least within earshot of a dance. Two minutes of abstract sounds give way to four different takes on the sort of music your grandparents used to dance to - to these ears they're almost Gorkys-esque instrumentals from the 1940s. Side two is an entirely different kettle of fish and the comedown from the almost party you've just had - heavy on Euros' keyboards and summertime drones with the "serene" trilogy taking you a faraway place, it's borders on being unnerving and quite lovely.

Some of the delightful song titles...

It's a vinyl only release (or you can download a version from Euros' website) but the first 120 copies include a promo CD version of the album. Oh, and mine also had a lovely personalized message from Euros.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


I'd been planning to write something about Neu! and how they are increasingly becoming one of the most important bands ever but, when it came down to it, I couldn't think of what to say. So, instead, here's a list of some of the songs and artists that that have worn their Neu! hearts on their sleeves...

Pet's Super Pet
Public Service Broadcasting
Ultravox (!)
New Style
David Bowie
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Primary 1
Paul Weller's lat career revival
Oasis and The Shock of the Lightning
What'll it take
Death in Vegas
Primal Scream
Sonic Youth
Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening to Neu!
Fujiya and Miyagi
4 Neu
The Black Neon
Scott 4
The Warm Digits
The Horrors
The Sex Pistols and PIL
Lindstrom and Prins Thomas
Simple Minds
La Dusseldorf
The Phantom Band
Super Furry Animals
The Emperor Machine
LCD Soundsystem
Iggy Pop
Queens of the Stone Age

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Oh/Ex/Oh - Extant

Ambient music eh? For many it's nothing more than aural wallpaper - functional music designed to be played as part of the background to your life. 

Give the music a rhythm track and you've got yourself countless chill out compilations for your dinner parties.

But there is another side to ambient music, the sort of music that places you in it's own self-defined ambient world. Julian Cope talked about this in his book, Krautrocksampler, when reviewing Tangerine Dream's incredible Zeit (an album that feels devoid of all time) - describing it as music that "takes over the room and permeates the whole house....anyone calling in the middle of its playing will never see that room in the same light ever again". In parts, Extant is very much in that camp. 

Things that I thought of whilst listening to Extant:
  • Eno's On Land album
  • Being in the desert in the middle of the night.
  • An, as yet, unmade sci-fi horror movie
  • Richard D James talking about lucid dreams and the word "lush"
  • How can some people make music that is both familiar and yet totally alien? And do it so well.
  • Selected Ambient Works Volume 2
  • Oneohtrix Point Never
  • Drones and melodies
  • How can some people make music that is both uplifting and mournful? And do it so well.
  • How I wish I had more time in my life to immerse myself in this music.

Oh, and on The Holy Fallout, there's a voice proclaiming “May the blessings of the bomb almighty and the fellowship of the holy fallout descend upon us all. This day and forever more”.

The artworks pretty tasty too - a nice fold out sleeve, as you can see from my dodgy photo. Really, the photos are probably better if you go to their record label, The Geography Trip's website

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Record Store Day 2013

So, true to my word last year, but without remembering that I'd said so, I managed to get to Piccadilly Records for 6am only to find that, of course, I was even further back in the queue than previous years (I've finally made it onto Tib Street!). Oh well, at least I found myself with some great company either side of me, making the 4 1/2 hour queue time pretty enjoyable and part of the whole RSD experience. One good thing that has come out of Record Store Day is bringing back the social aspect of buying music - I'm sure the conversations we had about music whilst queuing up cost me another £30 in items I decided to buy.

So, what did I get? This...

Calexico - Spritoso (white vinyl) Live LP
Brian Eno/Grizzly Bear Nicolas Jaar Remix 12"
Lloyd Cole & Hans-Joachim Roedelius - NNNEONLLLLIGHTS (white vinyl) 12"
The Ukranians - Pisni iz the Smiths 12"
The Velvet Underground - The Scepter Sessions LP
OMD - The Future is Silent (picture disc) 10" EP
Royksopp - Ice Machine (red vinyl) 10"
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Animal X (picture disc) 7"
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING - Signal 30 (orange vinyl) 7"
Mogwai/Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - split remix single (white vinyl) 7"
Side by Side secret 7" (which turned out to be 3 versions of Iko Iko by the Grateful Dead, Dr John and the Dixie Cups) - on lovely paint splattered red/blue vinyl

I decided to give the FGTH 7" picture disc a miss because it was...err... £18. Are you sure about that guys?!

So, that's it for another year - threats of not going next year had pretty much subsided by the time I reached the counter, probably helped by the company and also the fact that some items didn't seem to sell out as quickly as previous years (did they get more stock in?).

Oh, and coffee was provided by Tim Burgess's Tim Peaks Coffee Company, so everyone who bought one got this wonderful Pete Fowler designed cup...

Here's what I said previous years:

Monday, 8 April 2013

OMD - English Electric in a Tin

Look what arrived in the post today - English Electric, the new album by OMD, as a stunning box set and vinyl package.
So, here's what I got:
  • An OMD embossed tin
  • The album on CD
  • A CD of demos
  • A DVD
  • A foldout cover to hold the above 3 items
  • Three cards with artwork
  • Three cards with photos of the band 'in concert'
  • A blue vinyl 7" single with an exclusive b-side ('Frontline')
  • A booklet with lyrics and photos
  • A signed card - I think they call it a 'certificate of authenticity'
  • Some foam packaging to keep the above safe in the tin
  • The album on vinyl in a die cut sleeve, so you can rotate the inner sleeve to make different versions of the artwork (it's just like the OMD/Architecture and Morality/Dazzle Ships albums covers all over again, which kept me entertained as a child)
Oh, and there were two metallic badges as well, which I think were extras thrown in to the parcel as it was a pre-order and might not be part of the boxset.
Here's the vinyl "die cut" sleeve - see how I've radically changed the artwork.

And here's the tin... I know, taking photos of tins is possibly an all time low for me.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

This Will Destroy You - Which Colour?

I got TWDY's towering 2nd album for my birthday and a couple of things confused me.

Firstly, why the different album sleeves? The CD appears to come in a slightly Gothic post rock-esque black sleeve with silver design, whereas the vinyl is housed in a couldn't-be-more-different wolf/tiger/eagle/snow/lightning drawing sleeve. At first I thought I'd be given the wrong album.

The second thing was the... err... colour of the vinyl. I had to check online to get some answers but I'm still not 100% sure what colour my records are supposed to be.
You see, the label, Magic Bullet, take pride in their vinyl issues and have made sure that each repressing of the album comes on different coloured vinyl. A quick search online reveals that the album appears to have been released in the following versions:

First Pressing:
Red vinyl
White vinyl
Blue vinyl
Blue/Red vinyl

Second Pressing:
Black/Green vinyl
Third pressing:
Grey/Grey Marble vinyl
Aquamarine/Grey Marble vinyl
Post-Rock Puke/Grey Marble vinyl

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Pressing:
Mixed vinyl

Seventh Pressing:
Grey/Pink vinyl
Grape Taffy/French Mustard vinyl
Cherry Taffy/French Mustard vinyl

Eighth Pressing:
Aqua/Pink vinyl
Green/Yellow vinyl
Purple/THC vinyl

A nightmare for any collector of their records.

I'm guessing that mine is....err...any ideas?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A Very Happy Birthday

Well, wouldn't yours be if you got all of these as presents from your wonderful family?

Expect further posts about some of these at some point. Maybe.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

My Bloody Vinyl

After a lifetime's wait, the new My Bloody Valentine album is here and is now available as a real life physical format.

For those who are wondering about the vinyl version - here it is.

It  sounds great and has, according to the band, been "recorded on 2 inch 24 track analogue tape and mixed onto half inch analogue tape and mastered with no digital processing involved."

It also comes with the CD version of the album, so you can compare compare the difference between the digital and analogue sounds.

Good luck!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Richard Hawley Singles Club

Don't Stare At The Sun - the final instalment of the Richard Hawley Singles Club - has just arrived in the post. So, this is what the full set looks like.
Decking by James Mann http://jamesmanngardensolutions.blogspot.co.uk/

The four singles from the Standing At The Sky's Edge album were all released on 10" vinyl, each with exclusive b sides.
     Leave Your Body Behind You / You Haunt Me
     Down In The Woods / Kindly Rain
     Seek It / Big Sister
     Don't Stare At The Sun / Run For You (Version Two)

The collector's box, designed to hold all four singles, is according to the website "a deluxe black, side-opening, rigid board box wrapped in wibalin buckram paper, with copper foil blocking". Which is exactly what I needed.

Oh, and if you like the decking and don't mind talking about Captain Beefheart, The Stooges and Funkadelic whilst it is being fitted, then ask James Mann to do it for you.

Reight good.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Push The Sky Away

Kicking off with lead single, the subdued but beautiful We No Who U R, the album makes it clear that this is going to be a long way away from Dig Lazarus Dig and all that Grinderman business. It's closest relative is 2001's lush No More Shall We Part.

What struck me was that there really isn't very much guitar on this album at all - not like previous Nick Cave albums - and, when the guitar does appear, it's often muted and found politely playing in the background, allowing the violin/viola and Rhodes to take centre stage. Oh, and the vocals too - this album is big on vocals, with Mr Cave's voice taking on an incredibly soothing tone (he's definitely given his rock voice the album off) and a whole load of lovely backing vocals.

Highlights for me so far (hey - I'm typing this as I'm listening to the album for the first time, so this may change) are Jubilee Steet (LOVE the chorus of backing vocals towards the end), Wide Lovely Eyes (with it's wide lovely Rhodes piano) and the rousing Higgs Boson Blues. But, seriously, it all sounds fantastic.

The album also features the welcome return of former Bad Seed Barry Adamson, who plays bass on Jubilee Street and the closing title track.

The two bonus tracks, Needle Boy and Lightning Bolt - available with a variety of exclusive or limited versions of the album (mine was a 7" that comes free with the vinyl LP from independent record shops) - offer something more unsettling but, great as they are, it's clear that they'd never have fit in with the rest of the album.

"Some people say that it is just rock'n'roll, oh but it gets right down to your soul" Nick sings on the title track. And getting down to your soul is exactly what this album does.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Career Opportunities (Child Version)

Yes, I know - two Sandinista! related post?! Well, my daughter inspired me to write a few words about the "child" version of Career Opportunities.

It's often seen as the the whipping boy of  Sandinista, and an example of where the album went wrong (although it didn't); a novelty track that is one genre too far for a band with an already diverse output. But after hearing my daughter singing along to it, and then asking me to play it again, made me realise how potent the track can be - one that has children singing "career opportunities are the ones that never knock, every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock".
So for all those people with misguided views of what makes good and "credible" music, maybe the song wasn't intended for you - that would be preaching to the converted, because you're already on board from band's previous output, right? Instead, maybe the song is designed for children to sing, almost as a nursery rhyme, years before they are fully aware of what they are singing about. Now THAT is subversive - making it musically, artistically and politically just as valid as the rest of their back catalogue.

I played my daughter the original version of Career Opportunities later - she asked me to put on the "proper" version instead.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Freakishly Good

I know it's only January, but this is by far the best album of the year so far. The chances are it might still be up there come the end of the year.
Following on from the brilliant Harum Scarum from 2008 and 2011's standalone single "You Don't Look At A Tidal Wave, A Tidal Wave Looks At You", comes 2013's Freakish. The music was actually recorded in 2011, so the duo are probably bored of it by now and on their way to recording something even better.
And the album pretty much picks up where the last one left off - influenced by early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and containing occasional glimpses of post rock - but this time much more expansive, embracing more keyboards and an extra sheen to the production, without losing any of the dirty guitars from previous outings. Gideon continues his black comedic outlook on life, but being much more likely to recount some long forgotton playground tale gone wrong rather than a Nick Cave-esque murder ballad. And now Viva (The Shark) gets to sing on two songs too - the wonderful vocoder overload of "Poor Boy", and closing track "Friday 13".
They are also one of the best bands I've ever seen live - particulary to see Viva bring the elegance of her previous life as an olympic gymnast to her drumming and multi instrument playing. I know this photo (the gatefold inner sleeve) might be posed but, seriously, this is exactly how they look on stage.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Oh the irony. A band called Speedy releasing their debut album 15 years after it was recorded...

Formerly going under the name Blammo! Sheffield's Speedy released a handful of singles in the mid to late 90s before vanishing from the world. Now, finally the world is ready for the album, and here it is - "News From Nowhere". Unsurprisingly, it sounds very britpop.
Now I'm going to dig out my Inspirals-esque I'm Spartacus 12"

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sandanista! In Good Album Review Shock!

Much maligned triple album is actually pretty good...

Bar one or two tracks, I hadn't listened to Sandinista! by The Clash for a very long time until earlier this year.

OK, so maybe it doesn't work well in a digital or CD format - there's too much to listen to in one sitting, so I can understand why it is viewed as a patchy mess of an album. Well you try staying focussed on anything for almost two and a half hours!

However, in it's original format - triple vinyl - it's actually a much more focussed listening experience than some people would have you believe, allowing you the benefit of a pause every 20 odd minutes to turn the record over. Reviews frequently look at the negatives - yes, there are some things that don't work - but neglect to mention the album's main strength, which is a lot of classic tunes: The Magnificent 7, Hits ville UK, The Call Up, Charlie Don't Surf, Washington Bullets, their cover of Lightning Strikes (not Once But Twice) etc. Instead of there being "a great single album" (another comment from the reviewers book of clichés) somewhere in here, I reckon there's three hugely enjoyable, adventurous, and wonderfully diverse post-punk-dub-rap-pop albums screaming to get out. There's something for everyone here.

It takes an open mind to love this album - The UK press slated it, but their American counterparts, perhaps not so hung up on the bands punk credentials, loved it. I've listened to Sandinista! more in the last 12 months than I ever have before. If you haven't listened to it for a while then, go on, give it a second chance. Just take it one disc at a time...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

2012 Re-View

So here it is - the best music things of 2012.

Best song:
Of course.
I've already raved about this - it's one of those rare songs that I can listen to on repeat. Six months on, I still get a buzz whenever I hear the intro.

Best song title:
Scott Walker - SDSS141E+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)
Clocking in at just shy of 22 minutes, the track almost outdoes the title when it comes to incomprehensibility. Sublime, ridiculous, pretentious, hilarious, impenetrable but totally compelling. Not quite "Make It Easy On Yourself" then.

Best album:
Field Music - Plumb

Or is it Dexys - One Day I'm Going To Soar?
Or maybe The 2 Bears' Be Strong?
Both strong contenders, but I'll go for Field Music - because of it's brevity, I can listen to it repeatedly SO many more times.

A great "alternative rock" album:
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
What I love about Dirty Projectors is how essential everything is. Every sound, note, hit of a snare drum, have a purpose, each adding something unique - there's nothing superfluous here and no generic guitars strumming with a bass playing the root note. Oh, and the songs are pretty good too, which helps.

A great "alternative electronic rock" album:
Fuxa - Electric Sound of Summer
A Christmas present, so there's still plenty to discover with this as I've only had it for just over a week. Post/space rock and electronica, featuring three brilliant cover versions - Our Lips are Sealed, Some Things Last a Long Time and Cheree (which they have stretched out to 10 minutes). In fact the Suicide references stretch further than covering Cheree, with another track being named "Marty Suicide" and the sound on many tracks coming across a bit like Suicide collaborating with Lali Puna - that is if Suicide were a bit happier and enjoyed spending summer afternoons lying in a field listening to the birds singing.

Five great gigs
So much great live music. Here's five examples.
Grandaddy (Ritz)
Public Service Broadcasting (Soup Kitchen)
Pulp (Motorpoint Arena)
(Green Man Festival)
tUnE-yArDs (Green Man Festival)

Some great album covers:

Three Ambient Records:
It was quite refreshing to find the man who is to blame/thank for the whole genre showing the kids how it should be done. Brian Eno's Lux is one of the most beautiful things he's released in a long time. It sounds even more special now I have it on "180g DMM mastered double vinyl". Honest.

Daniel Lopatin is steadily becoming one of my favourite 21st century artists, with three brilliant albums released over the last couple of years. After Ford and Lopatin's homage to the 80s (1980s and 2080s) that was Channel Pressure, and Oneohtrix Point Never's sublime Replica, we now get a collaboration with Tim Hecker on the Instrumental Tourist album, which might be called ambient, but a thoroughly modern and forward thinking ambient.

Oh and Julian Cope released Woden, which was originally recorded in 1998 but left in the vault. He describes it as "one 72-minute ambulent meditation upon Warden Hill & Avebury". After a difficult opening section, it transforms into a beautiful and absorbing three-note melody accompanied by the distant sound of church bells. Or is it the sound of distant church bells?

Drone Pop:
I'm talking about Circles by Moon Duo, a Wooden Shjips side project (for one member anyway) that takes the sound of Wooden Shjips / Spaceman 3 and blends it with tunes that border on pop. Fantastic stuff.

And talking of side projects...
Tame Impala or Pond? Well, they both released great albums, with TI getting (most of) the accolades. Lonerism was the more consistent, but Beard, Wives, Denim contained Moth Wings - a psych rock masterpiece. A tough one to call.

Hot Chip or The 2 Bears?
Both will put a massive grin on your face. In Our Heads sounds like Hot Chip (understandably), whilst Be Strong is the perfect soundtrack for anyone pining for some post-house, Ian Dury-esque pop...and anyone who is in need of a Bear Hug.

Reissue of the year:
In agreement with 99% of all music publications, it has to be Can's The Lost Tapes. Archive material from 1968-1977 and previously unreleased, this is probably the most remarkable thing I've heard in years. So good, in fact, that I bought it twice.

Oh, how they spoil us:
After a six year gap, Mouse on Mars return with not one, but two shiny new albums of their unique glitchy electronica in a collision with techno, krautrock and hip-hop. One for the head (Parastophics) that you can dance to, which took years to complete, and one for the feet (Wow) that you can admire for it's cleverness, which was thrown together over a few months. Both great.

Best Format:
Barry Adamson - Brighton Rockers. Released as a playable postcard. That's right, a postcard that you can play.

And here's some more albums I've loved this year:
Barry Adamson - I Will Set You Free
Spritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Euros Childs - Summer Special
Neil Young - Psychedelic Pill
Pye Corner Audio - Sleep Games
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Hallelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Four Tet - Pink
Daphni - Jiaolong
Toy - Toy
Squarepusher - Ufabulum
The Flaming Lips With Heady Fwends

Anyway, you get the point...