Sunday, 29 December 2013

6&8 + Day Before Us - May Propre Fable, un Dimanche

sometimes, music stumps me.

basing my output on my ability to put my own thoughts, feelings and opinions into words, being stumped leaves me feeling rather redundant.

and mostly I tend to feel this way towards music when I feel that my own words will lessen the true experience of just listening.

this is certainly the case in point with 'May Propre Fable, un Dimanche', a startlingly ethereal experimental soundscape that shifts and mutates from dreams to nightmares within a heartbeat, played out across sonic environments that at first seem unthreatening, giving way to my own very human instinct of feeling unsettled by the sounds that I am surrounding myself with, and ultimately wondering if I can even bare to carry on listening, as the whirlpool of emotions dredged up across the space of a few minutes cause such a drastic reaction to the audio atmospherics.



and even putting aside the music, for now, let's focus on the jarring, creepy vocal jaunts that are strewn across the sparse thirty six minute running time, turning simple statements, sentences and facts into mantras that echo like a horror movie, an unemotional delivery that means nothing, yet left to our imagination, could mean anything.

there is power in the art on display here, exemplified in the fact that the release is presented as a number of rooms, rather than tracks bearing pretentious titles, and in fact, the ever more pretentious framing device, and the collaborative efforts of 6&8 (spoken word fleshed out with ambient electronica from the UK) combining with Day Before Us (French semi-classical dark cinematic ambience) reeks of high brow pretentiousness and enthusiastic chin stroking, and if that is the reaction you elicit from this kind of art, then so be it... because art is made to produce reactions, differing from person to person.

and art is made to be experienced, throwing my wayward attempt at a review into disarray, even I myself throughout the course of writing this have pondered how so much of what I have written could be perceived as negative, yet here is a collection that I have enjoyed.

'May Propre Fable, un Dimanche' by 6&8 + Day Before Us 
is available via Auditory Field Theory


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tellison -Snow

is it really the most wonderful time of the year?

whether it is trawling around shops, numbed by the hordes of debilitating and directionless consumers serenaded by an onslaught of Slade, Wizzard and Wham, or being reminded that all is not well in your world whilst the universe at large seems to be experiencing warm fuzzy feelings of togetherness.



Tellison's Christmas single arrives as a poignant message and stands for a noble cause, delivering their melancholic indie-janglings as a fundraiser for the Campaign Against Living Miserably.

and it is spot on, not only sounding wistful in melody and charm, riding a foot-tapper of a rhythm, it also instills a heartwarmingly bleak plea to hold it together, pretend that everything is ok as presents are passed between family and friends and hold off the heartbreak until January.

it isn't a perfect solution, but in the spirit of the charity CALM, it is aiming to make it through what may already be a bad situation.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Tayalarz vol.4: Moneke Sorrow

and so, December brings the year to a close

and with it comes the last Tayalarz mixtape of 2013

I must admit that the musical journey we shall be taking together in this last month of the year is possibly a journey that will take you deep into the depths of the human soul, yet is a treacherous and unrelenting path to take 

It starts as many of my December compiled mixtapes do, with a rather folky toe-warmer of a track, best enjoyed by a fireside in a comfy chair with a large whisky, but don't forget, that it is a cold world out there

a cold world reflected in a series of uncompromising beat driven tracks that carry the harsh nature of a bitter northerly wind as it cuts through you to your bone, chilling your insides, so hunker down, tune in and chill out to the latest monthly mixtape

























as with all previous mixtapes, these tracks have all been sourced for free, either via bandcamps, blogs or facebook, and the track listing below tells you exactly where I handpicked these gems from, and joining the Tayalarz family for the next three months is cover designer, Ted Joyce, gracing our mixes with his talents

1.  Vikesh Kapoor - Bottom of the Ladder (available via Mad Mackerel)
2.  Ghost and Gale - Wicked Heart (available via Turntable Kitchen)
3.  The Casket Girls - Same Side (available via Turntable Kitchen)
4.  SZA - ICE.MOON (available via Consequence of Sound)
5.  Justin Bieber - Hold Tight (Adam Snow Late Night Edit) (available via Ear Buddy)
6.  Tabloid - Voyeur (available via Little Indie Blogs)
7.  Moon Bounce - Marvellous Beast (available via The Key)
8.  Wiley - Born in the Cold (Mr Mitch remix) (available at Surviving The Golden Age)
9.  Keenya - Behind Doors (Winter Son's Helpless Room Remix) (available via Acid Ted)
10. TasseomancyHeavy Sleep (Maya Postepski Remix) (available via I Vacation In Your Hell)
11. King Krule -Cementality (8pm remix) (available via Winnie Cooper)
12. Federico AubeleSomewhere Else feat. Melody Gardot (available via KEXP)


In the tracklisting above are links to the artist's bandcamp/soundcloud/website if you click on their name, and clicking on the track name or blog link will direct you to where I originally encountered their music, good luck hunting it all down...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Tayalarz: The Fanfaronade of Guido

Welcome back to the third in our recently established series of Tayalarz mixtapes.

For November's instalment, a slightly different approach has been taken, for both Volumes 1 and 2, the tracks were sourced exclusively via popular blog aggregator, hype machine, searching for words that reflect the particular time of season, and hunting down recommended tracks via blog posts.

This time around i decided to sniff out the good stuff myself, heading straight to bandcamp in order to siphon another 12 tracks that the artists themselves have made available for absolutely zilch, or on a pay-what-you-like basis.



Prior to compiling this mixtape, i had not heard of any of the artists featured, and i hope that their inclusion here will help to shed a little more light on their cause, and yet again i have been overwhelmed with the end product that plays as a complete musical journey from start to finish and back round again.

And i must admit, that in the course of compiling this labour of love, i think i may have crafted the best mixtape in the series so far...

Opening with an astonishingly heartfelt and bereft piece of spoken word,  Malanda J. Poetry sets the tone for a bleak wintery soundscape that shrugs off the joyful summer frivolities and yearns to nestle by the fire in your soul, a thoroughly modern, down-tempo journey across oceans and genres, embracing hip-hop, folk, poetry, hypnotic beats and downright experimental sound collages that may prove conducive to hibernation should you wish to wait out the cold weather until spring.

And since this has felt so wonderfully thematic as a whole, i am also looking to share a unique vision with you in the near future, with previous volumes, i have reworked the tracks so that they run into each other in one cohesive long mix, mostly for my own ends, however, Volume 3 leant itself to this practice so well that it seemed emphatically absurd not to share it with you.

I shall allow you to track down the components of this mixtape and discover the artist involved yourself before gracing your ears with the definitive article, and conjoined version of previous volumes will also present themselves at such time.

but for now, wrap up warm, pour a soothing dram of whisky and dive into November's handpicked selections.

11. Shak - Dmnds

In the tracklisting above are links to the artist's bandcamp/soundcloud/website if you click on their name, and clicking on the track name or blog link will take you directly to the track in question, once again, artwork for this volume was provided by Ian Byford, good luck hunting it all down...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

in conversation with Ciaran Lavery


The main aim when starting the Tayalarz mix series was to create a cohesive compilation of music that is currently up for grabs and won't cost a penny to source, offering a little guidance as we pull together a playlist to save you the hard work.

Yet, as we have been putting the finishing touches to November's instalment, Volume 2 from last month has still been on heavy rotation and one artist's efforts in particular have stood out and caused persistent earworms.

So we caught up with Ciaran Lavery to discuss cover versions, musical discoveries and to further spotlight a singer/songwriter that we feel fortunate to have found in the process of plucking ripe mp3s from the unfathomably large world wide web.





my approach to this mixtape in particular was to simply search hype machine for particular words or phrases and see where it would take me, i came across yourself after searching for 'killer', influenced by halloween that was right around the corner and finding your version of Psycho Killer, what is the strangest way or place you have stumbled across music that has truly impressed you?

I most usually find my music on amazon, I have been doing that for years. I like that feeling of stumbling across something new to my ears, for a brief period it feels like I'm the only one in the world who knows about them, then when I research further I tend to find I'm the last to know and it takes that magic feeling away. If I had to say the most random though it would maybe have to be finding a Grateful Dead LP inside a Wu Tang Clan CD case..you couldn't make that up

were there any cover versions that didnt make the cut, or that you wanted to make work but couldn't find a way?

I had originally tried to re-work just random covers of all decades but it just so happened to work out that the most appropriate were in and around the same time. I think around that time I had demoed some Lykke Li and New Order but they never made it to studio




i have only discovered you recently, but your debut album was released in march of this year, what has the reaction been to it so far?

The album was such a great thing to make just on a personal level. I have read some really nice things from people I've always respected in the music world who seemed to think it was quite special, and I still randomly get people coming up to me and telling me how much they enjoy listening to it. The other day I heard how someone has listened to the album for a straight week - that's kind of mind-blowing. At the end of the day when I finished recording and the day it was released it's no longer mine anymore, but rather it belongs to whoever bought or downloaded or copied it. At the same time I didn't expect it to be welcomed in with open arms by all types of music lovers, it can be a very personal album. In other words it's never going to be played at a party, unless the idea is to clear the place

presumably the Covers EP is a stopgap between the album and your next full length project or release of original material, what plans are you developing right now and when will we next hear the fruit of your labours?

I think it's pretty typical of songwriters to always be writing and scheming some sort of plans and I'm no different. I have a lot of songs that I've been test driving at gigs over the past while and initial plans to record again are in place so I'm excited about that. I would never want to go in and record the same sounding record so the covers EP was important for me to get away from a sound I could have been pigeonholed with and I intend to do the same when it comes to recording my new material

any plans for a christmas single perhaps? get it right and you could see those Noddy Holder style royalties rolling in each year... 

No, no - I think it's hard to beat Noddy Holder's effort. Christmas singles can be really hit or miss these days, it's not like the 80s when there were so many good songs out every year competing. When you think of those compilation CD's at Christmas time, a hell of a lot of the good stuff is based in that decade. There will never be another Wizard or Slade single, which is sad. At least Christmas jumpers are back..it's a step in the right direction

do you have a favourite cover version? 

That's a tough one because there are so many and probably a lot that I have yet to hear but based on the knowledge of them that I have I would have to say it's a toss up between Bon Iver's version of 'Love More' originally by Sharon Van Etten and Rage Against The Machine's take on 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' by Bruce Springsteen



what was it that drew you to record those songs featured on 'Other People Wrote These'?

It was a project I had wanted to do for a long period, but the chance never really reared its head until maybe a few weeks before I went in to record the tracks. One day I said to myself "ok, it's time to do this for real" and that was that. The whole process was like that really. There was no massive time lapse between any part of the process, the whole thing was started and finished inside three days. I wouldn't have it any other way. The songs weren't particularly personal to me before the process, but I knew that when selecting them I wanted to have the room to almost reshape them, and these songs just seemed to lend themselves to the process best. I also felt it important to break down any boundaries on song selection that may have been there based on my own self written material

Our mixtapes so far have skirted between down tempo beats, trap music, folk, dubstep and a few other genres besides, when was the last time you compiled a mixtape and what was on it?

Ah god, I'm not entirely sure. I used to help compose travel CDs that ranged from the most outrageous, to the cheesy. But I guess a mixtape..it would have been a long time ago. I was actually clearing out in the attic the other day and I found a cassette tape, it got me thinking about mixtapes and how much effort went into making them. Maybe one day I'll make one real soon just to say I did it and feel nostalgic again

and in the spirit of discovering new music, we think that you should perhaps check out Benin City and what they have been doing recently, who would you suggest we take a listen to that is deserving of the exposure right now?

In no particular order check out The Emerald Armada, Joshua Burnside and Ian O'Doherty - each amazing in their own right






a massive thank you to Ciaran Lavery for taking the time to answer our questions

and to stay up to date, be sure to follow Ciaran on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Holidays are coming: the Christmas advert rush...

is it not bad enough that I am sat here surrounded by people watching the X-factor?

how special to sit here in their company and suddenly, barely one week into November, to be treated to the premiere of John Lewis's bloody Christmas advert.



and before it even begins, I know exactly what to expect from it...

in fitting with the standard Christmas advertisement formula, the rules dictate that we must have a rather twee and whimsical female voice trotting out a cover version in a rather twee and whimsical style.

we've already had Ellie Goulding selling her soul to cover Elton John and gain herself unrivalled access to Royal shindigs and recent years have seen The Smiths and Frankie Goes to Hollywood surely secured a few extra quid in their pockets after the same saccharine fate befell each of them in the extended advent season.

Surely Lily Allen (or at least her shrewd management team) have spotted this trend and jumped on the prematurely departing bandwagon, arriving just ahead of the brightly lit Coca-Cola lorry that is bound to be with us any minute now, and don't be surprised if a Keane greatest hits finds its way in amongst your stocking fillers alongside Morrissey's autobiography, otherwise the combined might of these Naughties stars has been squandered.

Frankly, I'm sick of the usual tricks trotted out by the usual suspects... a snow flurry and a cover version gift wrapped in a female vocal and a quick tug on the heart strings, chuck in some mince pies with a pre-December 'use by' date and our modern, expertly marketed christmas is complete.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Concerning Britney Spears and Time Travel



I've reached the age where so many of my views and opinions are informed by nostalgia for the way things used to be.

I remember Bloc Party's headline show at Heaven before the release of Silent Alarm, I remember when Arctic Monkey's demos were shared between curious and rabid fans alike before NME began sticking the band on their front cover every week, I remember a time when Simon Cowell didn't rule the world and when ticket prices were reasonable and when music channels actually showed music videos.

I remember when a sweet and innocent girl in a school uniform was kicking her foot against the leg of her desk and tapping her pencil on the table top as she impatiently waited to be saved by bell, I remember being equally smitten and seduced by this visual enticement in the glorious hey-day when it was a usual teenage past-time to flick intermittently between MTV and The Box.

Britney Spears had the perfect mixture of catchy pop and an undeniably calculated image that thrust her to the forefront of the record buying teen market and simultaneously sold the doe-eyed jail-bait sensation to the rest of the world that simply couldn't ignore that knee socks and skirt combination that had accompanied a sure-fire hit.

If, for a moment we enter the realm of sci-fi and hypothesise that instead of just using current technology to play Angry Birds and make new photos look like old photos, I had actually developed time travel in the year 2013, imagine if I travelled back to show my 16 year old self exactly what Britney Spears is up to these days.

I would be shocked for a number of reasons, the time travelling I could probably accept without too much problem, but the fact that Britney would still be plugging away at a music career 14 years later would be harder for me to swallow, yet anther example of my poorly predicted 'one hit wonders' that would never amount to much, which over the years have also included The Spice Girls, Katy Perry and Justin Beiber.

But the biggest mind-fuck would be the alien music that has morphed to an unrecognisable degree over the intervening years, to the point that former pop sirens are embarrassingly coerced into grasping at straws and riding the coat tails of current trends where at one time they would have lead instead of followed.

Of her contemporaries from the turn of the century, Britney is likely ranking higher than Christina Aguilara in the relevancy stakes, yet lagging behind former beau and former N-Syncer Justin Timberlake by a sizeable margin.

Yet the days of knotting a shirt and wearing your hair in bunches in order to win hearts is long behind us now, the game has changed beyond recognition and now supposedly provocative riding of industrial demolition tools, heightened misogyny and product placements are de rigueur in exchange for record industry infamy.

Perhaps the record buying public at large are still willing to swallow whatever swill Britney's people have insisted she should be selling, but I for one am unconvinced and underwhelmed by her latest effort, it works (no pun intended) to some degree as a lowest common denominator 21st century Saturday night at Yates' dance anthem, but for a former pop princess who let her tiara slip, I expect better.


Friday, 1 November 2013

Benin City, live @ Electrowerkz, 30th October 2013

So, this 'urban' band that I came to review step out on stage in matching printed suits that evoke leopard print and flintstone couture with an African twist before my view is obscured by a massive white-fro. Certainly, the audience here is as diverse as the music of Benin City.

On record, they are tantalising and boundary pushing, on stage, new elements of their set-up become much more apparent whilst others slink off with respect into the background to allow these more visual prompts to take hold and lead the way through the musical furore.

The case in point is the way the three piece dynamic catches the eye and the mind, whilst a sly backing track is present, Theo Buckingham on drums provides the rhythmical backbone with a tight precision that humanises what could have easily been construed as programmed pre-sets, and the divergent styles and influences are now more visibly anchored by the sax playing skills of Tom Leaper not only does it sidestep the usual expectation of guitars or bass as a given in the live set-up, and now also informs future listens of the album, raising the stakes of the nature of the brass and emphasising a more prevalent force.

Another transformation that occurs is within my belief that spoken word as a medium is shy and introverted, an outlook that can be taken from pouring over introspective and heartfelt lyrics, yet when Joshua Idehen bounds onto the stage, hidden from the world behind mirrored sunglasses, he could be mistaken for the spirit of Stevie Wonder given sight, dancing and moving as if it were a long forgotten art that had been rediscovered without the obvious obstacle of various trip hazards.



I had already tried to bottle lightning once when I reviewed Fires In The Park, an album that deserves to be heard for itself in order to pass judgement rather than hanging onto pulped opinions, and yet again I've put myself in the position where I lose myself to something so full of passion, clearly ticking all the right boxes for me, that I occasionally catch myself dumbfounded that I need to put this experience into words.

I nod my head, I tap my feet, I dance, I sing along, and when my favourite lines are uttered I feel my heart catch a little and a spark in my soul ignites, those lines I relate to, those lines I have felt for myself.

And this is my revelation, eventually I realise just how Benin City have curated a beautifully committed audience when I see the girl in front of me turn to her friends, shouting above the music, 'this is my line!', stirring that emotion inside here that I had felt previously, and those connections are likely there in nearly every line, in nearly every person in this room, I realise that witnessing Benin City live is more than can just be put into words, it is more than just seeing and believing, Benin City exist through feelings.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tayalarz vol.2 - The Rime of Tabala (october 2013)

you join us for the second instalment of our brand-new mixtape scavenger hunt series just as the clocks have turned back and journeys home from work have descended into darkness

once again, i have scoured hype machine for the finest crop of songs available to download for free and compiled them into a cohesive musical journey made to reflect the darker days of October as 2013 now draws to a close





fill your ears with the sound of autumnal sunshine that still casts a magnificent glow across fallen leaves, the sound of evenings winding down and daylight hours shortening

october's mixtape eases us in with a more folky approach, readying us for the cosy winter days with a down tempo selection before giving way to some lazy beats featuring a number of more familiar names that take the journey full circle as electronic bleeps fall away and the folk element creeps in again like a cold draught creeping in through the crack under the door.

You may recognise an Aaliyah sample within the selection, and Rihanna goes back to back with herself alongside Theophilus London, a new guise for Flying Lotus is accompanied by MF Doom and Earl Sweatshirt and singer/songwriter Ciaran Lavery makes an early appearance in the mix as well as closing proceedings with a couple of cover versions from his recent 'Other People Wrote These'

once again, links to the wonderful blogs that have provided me with this great new music have been provided in the tracklisting below, along with links to the respective artists websites, and Ian Byford has designed the second of three accompanying pieces of cover art

1. Kill Emil - Autumn Sun (available via Serial GK)
2. Ciaran Lavery - Psycho Killer (available via Metaphorical Boat)
3. Cold Country - Missing The Muse (available via Indie Rock Cafe)
4. Abrigo  De Pelos - Julio (available via acid ted)
5. Skeng - Cold Sweat (available via Jack Plug)
6. Bamf - Hold Me Close (available via unholy rhythms)
7. Rihanna + Evil Needle - Pour It Up (Duncan Gerow mash-up) (available via The Music Ninja)
8. Rihanna - Jump (Club Cheval rap Remix feat. Theophilus London) (available via Frenchy Symphony)
9. Captain Murphy feat Viktor Vaughn, Earl Sweatshirt and Thundercat -
     Between Villains (available via Faronheit)
10. Chronic City ft Florian Horwath - The Man Who (available via The Sound Of Confusion)
11. Autumn Owls - All The Lights In New York (available via The Sound Of Confusion)
12. Ciaran Lavery - I Drove All Night (available via Metaphorical Boat)

In the tracklisting above are links to the artist's bandcamp/soundcloud/website if you click on their name, and clicking on the track name or blog link will direct you to where I originally encountered their music, good luck hunting it all down...


Monday, 28 October 2013

Paper Tiger - Laptop Suntan



Paper Tiger are the Gremlins that are hiding under your bed, stealing bags of Space Invaders from the kitchen and beating your high score on Tetris, playing the GameBoy in secret that you haven't been able to lay your hands on recently.

That is the mischievous nature that is played out by the hard-to-pin-down hip-hop/electro outfit hailing from Wolverhampton, embracing an old skool stylistic nature and pairing it with more experimental offerings, often calling to mind memories of 80's culture and 8bit video games.



Laptop Sunshine is a fine example of gloriously restless chill-out music, stuttering beats and bleeps nestle alongside blissful soundscapes that refuse to let it relax, with a vast range of influences pulled together in a magpie manner to fashion an irresistible downtempo kaleidoscope of sounds.

Amongst the erratic instrumentals there are also a number of guest vocalists, maintaining a cohesive balance with a fine selection of artists alongside them, Paper Tiger have crafted a fresh sounding and original release that bypasses indulgent trippy electronic noodling by using vocals as a hook to catch your attention, adding an additional layer to the already intriguing productions with a number of MCs that hark back in style to the UK's formerly prevailant garage scene.

Laptop Sunshine is an album that should belong to the street, but instead it belongs to the domain of the bedroom producer, it belongs to the retrospective throwback internet age, with Paper Tiger putting a modern twist on backpack hip-hop and sending it back to us via high speed fibre optic connections.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience Part 2, album review video

yes readers, we are now going multi-platform

here is a review of the brand new Justin Timberlake album, the follow-up to March's The 20/20 Experience part 1, for you to watch with your eyes and hear with your ears

it is our first attempt at this form of review, so please be kind



i'm planning for these video reviews to be a regular feature that sit alongside the writing, more likely to cover some of the higher profile releases that shall be coming our way over the next few months

any feedback is welcome, but like i said, please be gentle with me

Saturday, 28 September 2013

New Mixtape Project: Tayalarz vol.1: The Queen of Sheba (september 2013)


and how has your music blogging experience been recently?

certainly from myself, you will have had features and opinions on new artists and albums, some of whom i sincerely hope you have taken a shine to.

but one of my favourite ways of discovering and sharing music is via the art-form that is the humble mixtape.

whilst i am buzzing about various other blogs looking for new and exciting music in much the same way that a bee collects pollen, occasionally these odd tracks from here there and everywhere haphazardly join my massive i-tunes library, and are promptly forgotten about until a shuffle throws up a track that could be months or could be years old.

but those special tracks, those chosen ones, those are the ones that find company within a playlist or a mixtape, a coherent hour or so of music that encompass my new finds and my new passions.

they live on my i-pod, sometimes i'll burn a copy for my girlfriends car.

but why not share it further...

and so my new mixtape series begins

all tracks included have been sourced via music blogs found on hype machine, and all tracks have been made available by the stated blog or by the artist themselves

since the purpose of this is discovery, i have provided links to the blogs and the relavent post, so you yourself can compile the same mixtape in a type of digitally based scavenger hunt... sharing a little love for blogs and for new artists that i find along the way



September's mixtape is the sound of the last embers of Summer, bright evenings drawing to a close, the first glimpses of winter waiting around the corner and catching you unaware on a chilly morning, shocking you into digging out the warmer layers and sticking the heating on when yesterday you was parading around in shorts still.

It is the sound of repressed chill wave and dub beats, fidgetting dance, block party bangers, multicultural electicness and more besides, taking you on a journey that reflects the time of year and my current tastes.

Massive love to the blogs that have expanded my musical horizons so far, and thanks to Ian Byford who shall be providing the artwork for the first three mixtapes in this new series.


1. Bear Mountain - Congo (available via The Morning After)
2. Joor Nith - Going Home (available via acid ted)
3. mvnners - we stay in, it rains all night (available via deepmuzik)
4. Dickystixxx - Make Me Feel Better (available via Caveman Sound)
5. Iamnobodi - Maputo Dance (available via Spread The Word 96')
6. Sidi Touri - Bon Koum (available via Draw Us Lines)
7. Psapp - Everything Belongs To The Sun (available via Burl Veneer Music)
8. The Gremlins and PrimalCriminal Scum (THE GREMLINS GOT FED AFTER MIDNIGHT VIP) (available via Bwomp! Beats)
9. DJ Snake x Yellow Claw x Spanker - Slow Down (available via Dani Deahl)
10. J.Nolan - Coming Down (Crash The Internet) (available via Word Is Bond)
11. Old Haunt - Ghost Town (available via Wake The Deaf)
12. Yoofs - Hazy dayz (available via Hearing Gold)


In the tracklisting above are links to the artist's bandcamp/soundcloud/website if you click on their name, and clicking on the track name or blog link will direct you to where I originally encountered their music, good luck hunting it all down...





And keep an eye out for Octobers instalment reflecting the darker time of year.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Franz Ferdinand - Evil Actions, Review


NME seem to grace us with the occasional covermount occasionally these days, certainly, with so much music available freely online, being a taste maker with freebies isn't a neccesity, so instead they have changed tack and are targeting the fanbases of established artists with, so far, divisive demo collections.

With new album upcoming and the marketing machine rolling into town, the spotlight this time falls upon the arch-dukes of pop, Franz Ferdinand, hoping to fire up interest in Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions, indeed, the title track of the album and preceding single opens this collection in demo form, although casual listeners will be hard pressed to spot the difference between this version and the one all over the airwaves.



And it is this polished finish, even on apparent demos and live studio versions that mark 'Evil Action' out in comparison to recent freebie demo collections in the same vein coming from The Vaccines and The Cribs. Franz are now seasoned veterans in this game, and even their demos are startlingly slick and well thought out, making this CD a well placed companion piece (or even cut-price alternative) to their latest release.

Four tracks taken from the new 10 track album are present and correct, either as demos or Konk studio sessions, and a further two tracks, including single Evil Eye, are presented as extended mixes courtesy of producer and DJ, Todd Terje, with the dance-tinged elements almost psychedelic production echoing back to Tonight: Franz Ferdinand and its remix collection, Blood.

Connecting the dots between Franz Ferdinand's previous exploits is also achieved by the inclusion of Do You Want To, presented as another Konk take, from 2005's You Could Have It So Much Better, and harking even further back, and rounding out the collection is a remix of breakthrough single, Take Me Out.

Daft Punk managed to steal the summer with uber-hit Get Lucky, and have been ahead of the music game for years, but when tasked with retooling Take Me Out, it seems the Parisian robots doth their metallic caps to the art-punk Glaswegians, their remix doesn't stray too far from the base template, instead it simply ramps up the tension of the chorus with some building synths, other than that, it lets the genius of the original recording shine through undeterred.

As a covermount, it is amazing value for money, and as a Franz Ferdinand artefact, it is a worthwhile addition to their growing back catalogue, showing that the world of angular pop and indie dancefloors just wouldn't be the same without them.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Hackney Colliery Band - Common Decency

The summer of 2012 and all of the negative energies and grumbles of washed out summers that typify us British have been erased by the sun drenched positivity and pride that arrived with Jubilee celebrations and stuck around as our over analysed and over debated Olympics finally took hold.

It was the summer of 2012 that I discovered Hackney Colliery Band, and near enough couldn't escape them at times. With a fuzzy head after birthday celebrations, I travelled the DLR to the newly opened London Pleasure Gardens, and as i walk in a crowd has gathered round a brass band, the vibe is casual, they almost look as if they are busking here, the mood is playful and engaging, and the music... hang on... what is that they're playing?

 

 Those that stumble upon Hackney Colliery Band in a similar situation to mine with have no doubt done the same cartoon style double-take, the sound is stunningly colloquial, a strange throwback that is as much an indulgence as it is a curiosity. Yes, this is a brass band, yes, with trumpets and trombones and other instruments I may be able to name after adequate research... but what is that they're playing?

To base a review purely on the merits of their cover versions would be poor form indeed, new album Common Decency sees to that, but those that are paying attention to this band are surely doing so after hearing hip-hop melded with a good old British sense of fun, and when I perched my bum on the grass in front of a stage in Victoria Park for an Olympic celebration of Sports and Music, surely those that booked Hackney Colliery Band must have thought the same.

The beauty of the album is that it isn't just a covers album, unique original material is abound, and for those unfamiliar with the source material it is sometimes difficult to discern which is which, making this flighty and joyous rumble of brass and rebellious behaviour a joy to revel in.

I won't lie to you, at live outings and on record, Kanye West's pompous and already mammoth sounding All Of The Lights takes on a majestic incarnation when being blasted out by brass horns, it is my favourite track by a country mile and just the thought of it sends a shiver up my spine and a smile across my lips. Empire State of Mind by Jay -Z/Alicia Keys is a magnificent reinterpretation and the closing Prodigy medley is bloody good fun, but Smile for The Webcam and You Got What I Need also hold their own against the easy lure of recording the songs of others and watching fans flock to you.

 

And as the summer seemed to be signalled that it was time to wind things up with the Olympic Closing Ceremony, and BBC newscasters walking around the stadium talk about and hint at the sights we may see coming up later, who is that I can hear in the background, performing as a precursor to the main event, its only that Hackney Colliery Band again?!?

With good reason have they found so many new acolytes along their musical journey, this is enthralling feelgood music that would fit in at village fêtes as perfectly as it would at trendy Shoreditch nightspots, if there is one thing that is universal, it is fun, and as the summer of 2013 draws in, I've got good reason to believe that Hackney Colliery Band should be the perfect soundtrack to every summer.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Clara Moto - ‘Joy Departed' EP



There isn't much time to form opinions when an email drops into your inbox on a Wednesday afternoon, the main gist of it being 'hey, would love your opinion on this new EP'.

So far, so normal.

'Oh yeah, it came out this week'.

So what you are treated to here is a breakneck review based on a couple of spins of what is thankfully an EP of music that I liked on the first listen.

I download the files, open the zip and bung it into itunes before being enveloped by a sonic experience that roughly equates to a spinning head in a dark room after too many whiskies, whilst being serenaded by Burial. To be absolutely honest, it is quite an unsettling listen... with haunted beats and clipped voices that pass through like echoes of a nightmare, this sounds like lounge music for a club full of movie maniacs, Freddie Kreuger, Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers all clinking their glasses of Bloody Marys and discussing their fondness of Twin Peaks.

Whilst all of the above may not sound overwhelmingly positive, I find a discovery like this to be rather thrilling, taking the chillwave template and subverting it, creating something wholly original from the key touchstones of The XX and Burial and taking them down darker routes, indeed, just consider
the cover version of Chris Isaack's already chilling Wicked Game that is now a rather terrifying prospect.

For The Love We Lost is a swooning atmospheric piece, providing breathing space before 6 minute plus closer Shade, that puts the bass back into 'basic four to the floor beat', neither of these matching the horrifying opening triumvirate for brooding terror filled genius and the darker aspects that delighted me.

Two listens within 24 hours, a quick turn around on a review, and now the whole world can read my hastily assembled assessment on exactly how I feel about the music of Clara Moto.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Benin City - Fires In The Park


Music and poetry collide spectacularly in a kaleidoscopic array on this debut album from trio Benin City.

And is is hard to know where to start singing the praises of Fires In The Park, so why not start at the start with opening track, People Will Say, a mid-tempo moody beast that lurches along with a loose jazz fusion groove, more than adequately taking the weight of the heavily thought through vocal delivery.

It is this enchanting way with words that provides just one of a handful of focal points on this release, taking the jam-packed nature of rap, which when used properly can say so much, and slowing it down to an almost spoken word pace that still manages to ride along with the music, and certainly, the comfortable pace gives the words room to hang in the air, ripe for picking, and almost every listen provides me a new favourite couplet or another line that I can relate directly to my own life.

Another plus point that works in the albums favour is the vastness of musical skills that are flexed across an everchanging soundscape, where the first track lurches, the second one bounces, fuelled by a driven pulse that grows into a full on electro-samba, Faithless quickly demonstrates Benin City's capabilities, and across just two songs they have grabbed my attention and refuse to let go.





The beautiful lament of Wha Gwan from which the album takes its title is a fragile and emotional plea that is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking, tugging at heart strings as it builds, and then Pencils drops with a slow bass walk that pulls us through a vitriolic vocal performance that is virtually spat straight into your face, switching from raised spirits to an almost confrontational throwdown .in a mere heartbeat.

This is surely why Benin City are ones to watch, and ones to watch closely, ones to study with great intent... because they are worthy of the attention.

I've only waxed lyrical about four tracks so far from a thirteen track album, and already I have said more than I ever usually find to say about almost any act I have had the fortune to review.

I could seriously continue breaking down the album into bite-sized chunks, but it is the full scope of this band that make them so appealing, for those yet to be turned onto Benin City, the shades of Wretch 32 colluding with Saul Williams should provide an ample jumping on point for both hipsters and mainstream hip-hoppers, whilst the musical diversity shown by Crystal Fighters and Faithless (the band, rather than the aforementioned track) should point you roughly in the right direction of an act that squirms against generic pigeon-holing.

And again we stumble upon another focal point, for Fires In The Park can simply be listened to, and enjoyed, or it can be voraciously consumed, taking the time to pick over the enjoyable experimentation of the band's productions, richly layered and magically uncompromising in its subtle nuances of strange effects and distortions that bleed faultlessly into the vaster picture, hiding in plain sight and demanding to be discovered.

Music and poetry colliding, that just doesn't do Benin City any justice at all, in fact it is almost demeaning to boil such complex tapestries of sound down to two simple specifics.

Those that merely read this review won't understand, and music and poetry colliding will be all they take away from this, but I'm hoping that it incites further investigation and that Fires In The Park will invite further word of mouth reactions in those curious enough to dig deeper.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Rizzle Kicks: and their part in the world of media's new slave labour

Hey you, youngsters!! You wanna join the shiny exciting world of 'Media'??

Well saddle up for what may well and truly be a slippery slope down shit creek without a paddle, or a paycheck!

I hope that others are likely to find an easier time of things than I have so far, and that everyone can land their dream job in a highly competitive market, but let's face it, a lot of people won't.

For too long I've meandered on the outskirts, quite content to do what I wanna do in my free time, and perhaps my life has happened at the wrong time, but it has given me a unique perspective on an industry that I wish would swallow me whole.

And perhaps the looming shadow of that nasty recession is still hanging over us and clouding our judgements, but even at the tender age of sixteen, when I was considering enrolling at uni in a course on journalism, I was first aware of the hard slog to 'make it' and the fact that you would have to put in a lot of time and effort, getting paid peanuts, just to gain the relevant experience, yet, now more than ever, I see the term 'internship' slung about.

This has always been the favoured route into 'the life you want to lead' and I know people that have travelled this route, and things are looking ok for them, but my life is different, I'm no longer at home with parents, I am reliant on an income to keep a roof over my head and the travel into London alone would be crippling before you double team it with the lack of pay.

I refuse to let this be the end of my dream tho, I want it too much and have let it slide for too long, but among the fiasco in the news about zero hours contracts that is cluttering up headlines recently I can't help but see the proliferation of internships across multiple job sites as taking advantage of this country's rather dire employment situation.

And amongst all this going on, my favourite pop-scamps, Rizzle Kicks have kicked off the campaign ahead of their second album by debuting a new video, proudly proclaiming that it was made by interns!!

The news made my blood boil, I bet it was bloody good fun, and a bloody good experience, but if the economic climate is gonna change for the better then I think we need to start providing opportunities and not just experience to those thirsty for breaking into the glamorous world of after show parties, powdered noses and overzealous exploitation...


Thursday, 8 August 2013

the pitfalls of living a disconnected life in a digital age



I've had a phone stolen, put one through the washing machine with my work trousers and lost one under about a foot of fake snow at a New Years Eve party at the Scala.

But when my HTC Desire decided to give up the ghost earlier the week, things were different. This was my first smart phone, my connection to the world that went beyond missing out an a few texts or the odd call. ok, it's a slight hindrance to the way I lead my life, but it's no big deal.

so as me and my girlfriend head our separate ways at Liverpool Street station with half made plans to meet again at a certain time if the fates allow, otherwise I'll see her at home.

I was out and about to witness a handful of Enfield's bands dragging themselves away from the Bush Hill Park Tavern for once, I've seen one of my boroughs most beloved bands struggle for attendance as close to home as Camden, so I thought I'd support my boys, support my friends and make the journey along especially. I'd made no promises to anyone, thought I'd just turn up and surprise them, but it was me that was surprised as I descended to the basement bar of the Spitalfields venue.

The doors opened at half 7, first band on at quarter to eight, it was now quarter past eight and I found myself stood in an empty room, just me and one other guy that told me through a muffled mouth of sandwich that the gig was cancelled.

'band members were underage' i just about deciphered before he swallowed.

I wandered aimlessly for a short while, hoping that a recognisable Enfieldian or two would be propping up one of a handful of nearby bars while I weighed up my options.

On any normal evening I'd have checked facebook and twitter for updates on the rather dire situation, texted or called one of my mates playing, been hopping on the train back to the more familiar and predictable surroundings of Bush Hill Park and let my girlfriend know the dealio.

Most normal evenings don't result in me nursing a pint of ale for an hour and forty minutes, sat on my own reading a book in a pub in Great Portland Street before descending down the stairs to the comic-book wallpapered lower level where my other half is among a roomful of uke players , merrily strumming away and singing their way through a songbook projected at the front of the room.

So whilst, unbeknownst to me, Decoy Jet, Building The Songbird and Echochain turn a soured experience into a show of solidarity in front of a rabid home crowd, I grabbed another drink and settled in amongst the well lubricated throng for mass singalongs of Oasis and Mumford and Sons before revealing my presence to my girlfriend.



Sure, it wasn't a normal evening, but sometimes the simple joy of the unexpected is just as rewarding.

(although all the missed instagram opportunities are killing me now)



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Sunday, 4 August 2013

E.m.m.a: Blue Gardens

As an 80s baby, the 16 and 8-bit noises of old consoles and gameboys will always tug at my heart strings, wrestling me from this interconnected world and taking me back to a time when the Tetris end screen figured pretty highly into my life goals.



Enter E.m.m.a, wielding a debut album that swings wildly for my memories, taking swipes at my past both distant and more recent, Kirby's Dreamhouse and Streets of Rage are mashed up with the pirate radio stations that used to blast out of our 6th form common room and the garage nights where a friend of a friend that owned their own decks and a boxful of vinyls would provide the gateway drug to real going out when we'd finally all turn 18.

Chuck in some Notting Hill carnival vibes for good measure and a healthy dose of Burial style dubstep and that pretty much sums up the listening experience, an experience that feels tailor made to my own personal tastes. Whilst the experimentation with chip-tune may be nothing original, the way it is presented here certainly feels different, atmospheric yet edgy, a balance of light and dark, dreamy soundscapes and devastating bass.

And I doubt I could tire of it, seemingly fresh and yet overwhelmingly nostalgic, for me at least, those that haven't revelled in a fondness for clubbing and late 80s/early 90s gaming may not understand the virtues I am extolling, but others of my generation will surely find this to be a culturally rich sonic masterpiece.


Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fall Out Boy: Save Rock And Roll

Seeking Susan Boyle has been a one man band since its inception, but no longer...

introducing herself with a review of Fall Out Boy's comeback album is Nelly da Conceição Estrela, who caught my eye with her work over at her own blog, student-journalist and who i'm proud to welcome to the fold.



This may be a little biased seeing as I am the biggest Fall Out Boy fangirl ever since my best friend made me listen to ‘Dance, Dance’ off their 2005 album ‘From Under The Cork Tree’.

I saw Fall Out Boy perform for the first time at the O2 Arena in March of 2009 and it was magic for my little teenage heart. It was a wonderful night and I’ll never forget how I felt like I was part of one big family as we all sung the lyrics to ‘Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner’ in complete unison.

The 4-piece band from Illinois, Chicago went on to have an impromptu hiatus from 2010 until early February this year. To the delight of many die-hard fans (myself included), they had secretly recorded a whole album (insert squeals here), titled an ambitious ‘Save Rock And Roll’. Although, I feel that it’s a satirical device, the album title is fitting.

A music video was released four days after their comeback was announced, starring 2 Chainz, a popular hip-hop artist. Hardly rock and roll, but I applaud the boys for putting out creative feelers and trying to do something different.

The polar worlds of hip-hop/rap and rock have collided before; does anybody remember the music video of Korn’s ‘Twisted Transistor’ featuring rappers Lil jon, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg and David Banner? To my disgust, a small group of so-called ‘fans’ were exercising their right to free speech and making albeit racist remarks at the collaboration on the YouTube comments for the single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)’.

 

There were some people who made genuine comments on the album, referring to the repeated usage of technology instead of what they call ‘real instruments’. To some degree, I’ll recognise that some of the songs are severely lacking in the raw essence we saw in ‘Infinity on High’ (2007) and ‘Take This To Your Grave’ (2003).

As a drummer, I found myself to be disappointed in the beats and found them to be a little too edited and saturated to connect with. Having said that, I do really like the clap sample intro from ‘My Songs’ (which went platinum in the U.S.) and the intro to ‘Rat a Tat’, which features Courtney Love. The star-studded album also features the likes of Elton John, Big Sean and Foxes, an up-and-coming British singer and songwriter.

As a fangirl, I was psyched for this album and I still find myself grooving to it. I have to respect that this album was produced with 100% heart and that Fall Out Boy are trying to shed their negative sell-out ‘emo’ phase and trying to please no one but themselves with their music.

And that takes a lot of cojones, especially in this wonderful, weird digital age.

words by Nelly da Conceição Estrela

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Losers, live at Proud Camden: 11th July 2013

Everything must change.

Evolve or face extinction.

And so it is with Losers.

What brought me to be stood inside a hot, sticky Camden venue on a balmy July evening was the promise of witnessing the live incarnation of the second album from Eddy TM's band, the Xfm stalwart and all round nice guy trading decks for a bass guitar, and a curiosity and passion for anything this guy touches had not prepared me for what came next.

'Beautiful Losers' the debut album was reconstructed beats, a dance-rock hybrid tailor made for Eddy's longstanding Remix show, practically filtering his playlist for influences.

I knew what I wanted, I wanted to dance.

And as the amps were all turned up to 11, I had to put my expectations aside.

Opener 'Acrobatica', was a heaving, unrelenting beast of a industrial rock track, being played by a industrial rock band as if they were facing oblivion and could only ward off the end of the Earth with use of an extremely loud P.A system.

I was shocked.

I presumed that the guitars would subside into some oozing electro-samples and squelches, I presumed wrong, the guitars did not subside, and as the set progressed I realised that I was watching an adept band and not just some meandering side-project.

What I was witnessing was a band purpose built to slot into the middle of any major UK festival, the type of band you stumble across on an unspecified stage, a band that commands attention with their stage presence, absolute passion and unquestionable skill set, capturing imaginations with their blend of Nine Inch Nails and UNKLE swallowing Placebo's Brian Molko whole.

A handful of the tracks offered up dip their toes into the dance arena, but rather than mourning the lack of hands in the air moments, instead I swooned at the fine crafted set that built to rapturous crescendos and euphoric highs.



Losers have evolved, from a collaborative remix project, to releasing a guest-laced album, and now taking up the mantle of a uniquely enigmatic tech-rock act that play is if they have scores to settle.

With so many bands resting on their laurels, lapping up airplay, selling their souls and watching the money roll in, Losers once again cast themselves as the outsiders, choosing to embrace change, facing a turning point and embracing it whole-heartedly.

If the music industry is really in decline, expect Losers to adapt and survive by any means necessary.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Matthew Herbert: The End of Silence

It is entirely possible that The End Of Silence is not music.

And under this reasoning, it is probable that this is not a review.

This is a war report.

Live from the centre of the conflict here in Libya, imagine the broadcaster, facing, talking to the camera, explaining the situation, and the forces both for Gadafi and opposed, and imagine the moment of horror caught on camera, imagine the shock and the surprise as a bomb is dropped from a pro-Gadafi aircraft.

And now imagine that same moment, imagine reliving it over and over again.

Imagine that you don't have to imagine.

Because the new project from Matthew Herbert is a sound sample of an attack in 2011, a simple 10 second clip repeated over and over in a unique fashion, it has been pulled apart, stretched, crunched, and who knows what else Herbert has done to it, but once he was finished, he turned it over to his four piece band who, somehow, 'play' that 10 second recorded by photographer Sebastian Meyer for 40 minutes.



The fact that more time must be spent explaining this release than can be spent actually reviewing it is part of The End Of Silence's subjective nature as a piece of art, for myself, I found the listening experience to be immersive and harrowing, as ambient sound plays out across three parts, each time building an atmospheric and entrancing groove, and each time I'm anticipating the bomb drop, anticipating the screech and the horror and the noise.

And then it's gone.

But the fact that it will be repeated, the fact that it could happen again at anytime, it means that this goes beyond music, it is art, it makes you feel, makes you feel fear, makes you wonder if this is what life in a war zone must feel like.

Not everyone will feel the same way, not everyone will like this.

And that is truly art.

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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Late Night Tales: Röyksopp


How much can really be said about Late Night Tales?

If you are already subscribing to this series of compilations then you already know exactly what you are getting.

And if you are a fan of Röyksopp, lava lamps and jazz cigarettes then you are probably already in a purple haze, reclined, listening to the latest in this long line of mixes rather than scouring online reviews.



For those that may need a little more convincing, here goes...

Röyksopp are here to take you under their most capable wing, perhaps you've had a few too many down at the local Yates', perhaps it has been a hard week at work and you are in need of a bubble bath and massage oils, or perhaps you have another reason to simply want to drift away from the rest of the world until morning breaks, it's ok, relax, Röyksopp are here for you.



Although it may not connect directly with fans of the down-beat, up-lifting duo, the spirit of their music and the comfort of a post-club, post-chill out zone, pre-satisfying slumber early hours crash-pad make this a special mix for a ridiculously niche audience, but as Late Night Tales continues unabated, this drowsy niche audience must be buying in droves.

We have the obligatory exclusive music from Röyksopp to satisfy the completists, and we have track after track of easy listening, because the time to dance is over, we have Acker Bilk, XTC and Vangelis, all at their most mellow, and plenty more besides, and we have Bernand Cumberbatch reading us a bedtime story to bring the release to a close.

Part of me demands more from my DJ mixes, but then another part of me has had enough whisky already and is now wanting to close my eyes, hope the world stops spinning by morning and slide away into sleep.


Röyksopp's Late Night Tales compilation can be ordered here.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Return of The Bush: Live Review

London's Astoria, New York's CBGB, Manchester's Hacienda, Liverpool's Cavern Club and the Bush Hill Park Tavern....

Those living outside of the North London borough of Enfield may have possibly been unaware that the ornate old building that looms large near the tucked away Bush Hill Park rail station holds just as much cultural significance to local music fans as the aforementioned legendary venues do to the rest of the world at large.

Despite not quite carrying the same pedigree as more well known sweat boxes, it is the sporadic and erratic timing of the gigs held in the usually serene boozer's function room that has made this place a firm favourite of my home town.



Last weekend saw The Return Of The Bush ushering in a new age for the Enfield music scene, as familiar faces from familiar bands that themselves were no strangers to this back-room's charms took to the stage in new incarnations, gathering under one roof and kicking to the curb rumours that our beloved scene had faltered and fallen for good.

The vibrancy and diversity of musical tribes converged in unity as a sliding scale of genres was represented over the course of just one evening, from the opening mod-influenced indie rockers Decoy Jet, through the psychedelia-laced Four Sheets To The Wind and the unstoppable funk of Deep Seed. Whilst those that prefer the heavier side of life witnessed the debut gig of Building The Songbird tackling atmospheric post-hardcore, the last ever performance from metallers Red Button Exit, who bowed out in style with a 'Wall of Death' mosh pit and headliners Hands Of A Saviour, who were left to cap the evening off by hitting the Bush with the force of a ten-tonne truck.



Whilst other towns and other venues may boast more consistent musical programmes, it has been the impromptu planning and long absences that makes every small gig held at The Bush feel like an event, with local bands clamouring to get involved, and the punters treating these rare musical outings in our little corner of North London as joyous celebrations, supporting our friends and peers and not having too far to travel home afterwards.

And for now, the scene feels revived, with new bands bearing the promise of carrying Enfield's musical legacy further forward, and loose lips swearing that it won't be too long until we see the Bush heaving, sweating and singing again.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Scrimshire - Bight



From the very first warm tones, my mind moves me to think of the needle dropping on a dusted off record, from the vocals I picture hips swaying seductively alone on an empty dancefloor of a basement venue, and the slowed down DnB style breakdown of the chorus and a creeping electro synth bring this retro-tinged slow-burner bang up to date.





Scrimshire's third album certainly has a devastatingly fresh sounding first impression within lead track Emperor, neatly unfolding into the driven electronica of Convergent, beautifully voiced by the artist himself and with the instrumental melodic shuffle of No More, Bight's place in my list of 'overlooked artists and albums that I shall harp on to everyone about' is ascertained.

As the album progresses and takes shape across the full forty five minutes, the talent of Scrimshire should be apparent to anyone whose ears are lucky enough to be graced by these hybrid dance-soul nuggets, for those less informed, you could be led to believe that what was playing was a compilation album, as loosely connected styles fill out the running time, topped off with a small smattering of alternating vocalists amongst the instrumentals.

The result is perhaps something akin to Fatboy Slim if perhaps his Big Beats weren't so big, the lightly buoyant nature of the albums first half making the tracks as accessible as Norman Cook's without the pop-aimed bravado of the Brighton based DJ's usual productions, instead the crate-digging sound is a much more subtle beast that takes its cues from jazz fusion, soul and funk.

Colliding and colluding styles mean that the album merits a full run through every single time, with each listen opening up and emphasising a new nuance of sound, and the latter part of the album slows the tempo and vaults at a 21st century update of Pink Floyd or two, atmospheric prog-leanings intertwining with a dub-infused time signature to create blissfully modern soundscapes.

All of my showboating is for nothing if you don't experience Bight for yourself, and it should not just be essential listening for music fans but also for music creatives, displaying how an innovative and balanced approach to mining the past can be brought right up to date for today's discerning audiences.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I don't want the party to be over: Flaming Lips @ The Roundhouse, 21.05.13



The atmosphere was at the very same time geeky and jubilant, a mixed crowd of ages filled The Roundhouse in Camden as mirrored domes were brought out and piled up upon the stage and Wayne Coyne's tin foil-wrapped podium was wheeled into position.

It was certainly an unsuspecting crowd that had parted with cash in order to see their heroes or for newer converts to witness what others have so long talked about when it comes to a Flaming Lips live-show.

But this was a changed band and a number of circumstances could have led to this new incarnation of a long standing favourite.

The previous night's performance had been cancelled due to illness that had struck down the psychedic-rocker's usually flamboyant leader, and overnight news told of a devastating storm that had ripped through the band's home state of Oklahoma.

Coyne decreed that he felt 'a lot fucking better' as the sound check progressed into an impassioned speech about how wide-reaching disasters and the loss of lives put things into perspective, that silly rock shows really don't matter in the grand scheme of things, but they were here to put on a show regardless.

Another change of perspective came with the band's most recent album, The Terror, their least commercial offering in recent memory that felt as if all the doom, the doubt and the death that can be found bubbling under the surface of even their most upbeat songs had finally fought its way loose and manifested in droning soundscapes and extreme experimentation.



And it was this outlook that informed the tone of the gig, drawing heavily from the new album, any concessions to former releases were equally dark and mired in waves of glacial electronica and a sense of the morose.

Crowd pleasers and huge bouncing singalongs have gone the same way as fancy dress adorned acolytes and confetti cannons (though hopefully not forever), and the absurd sight of Wayne Coyne cradling a baby doll in his arms with tender care as strobing fills the gloom and dirgy psychedelia blasts from all around, just doesn't seem like the party that I came here for.

perhaps this is a turning point, or perhaps this is just a transitional moment that will pass, but when 'Do You Realize?' no longer sounds like a joyous celebration of our fleeting lives and the ticker tape that rains down is as black as the veil of death itself, it is clear that those gathered here have witnessed a new, altogether different chapter in the Flaming Lips live history.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Brits 2013



It's February yet again, so it must be time for my annual Brits rant.

Thankfully, the award itself was looking more presentable than last years thanks to an overhaul by Damien Hirst and his famous colourful spots.

But in terms of entertainment, the Brits was bland and frankly rather boring.

Sure, Muse kicked off the whole thing in unprecedented style and bombast, and Taylor Swift had plenty of jaws dropping as she owned the stage and set pulses racing with a large scale take on recent single Trouble, both performances took advantage of the award shows monumental stature within the industry, but aside from a mesmerising turn from Ben Howard, the other live sets seemed to be lacking somewhat.




And it certainly wasn't just the artists on parade that left more to be desired, James Corden's abysmal presenting was completely devoid of any charisma, instead playing a good puppet, smiling and mugging for the camera.

Where was the impulsiveness of years gone past, where was the risk that saw Brit-Pop era award shows postponing broadcasting until a day later following the unplanned onstage antics of Jarvis Cocker, Brandon Block and Ronnie Wood?

There is nothing exciting about a polished smooth machine that runs perfectly, why do you think the biggest talking point of last year was the abrupt interruption of Adele's acceptance speech over any other winner or performance?

But where ITV's coverage was lacking, ITV2’s picking up of the baton backstage proved to be the perfect antidote.  Rizzle Kicks' amateur red carpet interviews from earlier in the evening had been replaced by sozzled revelry, an extremely loose approach to scripted questioning and disastrous attempts to read the autocue.

Co-host, Laura Whitmore, seemed panicked by the young pop duo who had clearly enjoyed far too much of the evenings hospitalities, but little did she know that the relaxed atmosphere of post-award show chitter chatter mixed with a free-flowing table service had caught celebrity guests completely with their guard down, resulting in far more honest entertainment, seeing stars as we very rarely do... drunk, witty and very funny.

It was car-crash telly, especially when Robbie Williams reduced .... To tears with his kind words and commandeered the strangely free-form interview, and I doubt Rizzle Kicks will be invited back in the same capacity next year, but we caught a rare glimpse into the real back-slapping culture of the music industry.

So next year, lets run the risk of uncertainty, lets see some more unpredicted behaviour, and lets have an award show that is worth discussing for more than just the predictable winners.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

UNX - Divide By Zero



I have never claimed to be, and likely never will be, a true connoisseur of metal music.

I fail to find the subtleties that are inherent in lurching, monster riffs and screamo vocals, yet when UNX, an Enfield band that I have witnessed the very earliest moments of, approach me to cast an ear over their debut EP, then I am overjoyed to have their raucous machinations bellowing out at me from my iTunes.



The brief intro that opens proceedings is the calm before the storm, a slow atmospheric build that precedes an EP of unrelenting intensity that once deciphered and decoded reveals an internal anguish and sense of alienation that has surely fuelled angry young men across the ages and is befitting of a vocal delivery that is akin to primal scream therapy and music that exists as a pure form of raw expressionism, a release of pent up energy and suppressed aggression.

Consisting of three full length tracks, and further buoyed by three other tracks of audio diversions, Divide By Zero clocks in at under thirteen minutes, hardly out staying its welcome, and is rounded out by UNX's crowning achievement, I Think Therefore I Am.

Bringing itself to a natural conclusion, the EP closer feels like what the band have been working towards. Lyrically, it is the strongest and most memorable track on the release, taking thematical threads that have run through earlier tracks, Severance and Incision, yet it feels musically more progressive than those tracks that have come before it, with epic chiming guitars ringing out, whilst incorporating a woozy and unsettling use of experimental sampling.

As the first chapter in the UNX story closes, I hope that this is a prelude of things to come, encompassing more diverse styles into the established heavy rock template and providing Enfield's proud lineage of metal bands with a brand new standard bearer as it marches ever onwards.