December 3, 2013
OK kids here it is, the perennial albums/music/gigs of the year 2013.
I’ve spent most of the year listening to older music, but there’s a few gems that have made the playlist this year.
1 – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away.
A tremendous album. The best from the band in years. So worthwhile in anybody’s collection. Jubilee Street is probably one of the best songs of this decade.
2 – British Sea Power: Machineries of Joy.
A proper pop-rock LP. So many good songs with a real energy, propulsion and, well, joy.
3 – Savages: Silence Yourself.
Four piece band channeling Souxie and the Banshees & Ian Curtis into a stripped down, angular, danceable post-punk 2013 sound. Brilliant.
4 – Jon Hopkins: Immunity.
Minimal electronica and techno with a lot of feeling and emotion. You can hear the King Creosote influence here in spite of it being a computer thing…
5 – James Blake: Overblown.
Superbly navigates the space between lush analogue and crispy digital. I kept thinking my stylus was fucked until I realised there was deliberate distortion on some of the channels in the mix. Very good songwriting realised to great effect and a proper album with the ebb and flow that rewards repeated listening.
6 – Fat White Family: Champagne Holocaust.
Dirty, scuzzy Happy Monday’s ‘esque avant pop. I’d like to see this band live.
7 – Pissed Jeans: Honeys.
Following the same template. Garage rock at its best. Stooges/Dwarves/Lazy Cowgirls. Get pissed, smoke fags, take class A drugs, take two or three strippers out for the night.
8 – Grumbling Fur: Glynnaestra
As if The Orb, Primal Scream, Psychic TV and Fairport Covention emerged from a mission to Mars induced sleep. This is quality.
9 – Wardruna: Yggdrasil.
Nordic spiritual music played on bones, reindeer gut, ancient wood and chanting by Gaahl of Gorgoroth. What more do you want?
10 – The Asphodells: Ruled by Passion, Destroyed By Lust.
Master shaman Andy Weatherall and friends conjure up a very British gauze covered wound of lush, dub based chugging guitar electronic pop songs.
11 – Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980
Dion Hinchcliffe’s (Tindersticks) soundtrack to the Red Riding episode “1980” – the grimmest one.
Lots of 12”’s and other shapes worth mentioning too.
1 – Theo Parrish/Tony Allen: Day like this.
Fela Kuti’s drummer teams up with TP for a really soulful excursion all recorded live with beautiful vocals from Eska Mtungwazi.
2 – The Asphodells remixes.
3 – Soulwax’s cut of Pulp.
4 – Juan Atkins/Moritz Von Oswald: Borderland series. Techno legend with Basic Channel/Rhythm and Sound legend.
5 – PsychicTV – Silver Sundown Machine. Like it says on the tin.
On the reissue:
#1 has to be Bobby Beasoleil’s “Lucifer Rising” soundtrack box set.
Closely followed by A Tribute to Conny Plank; Kraut producer extraordinaire. Then Dark’s “Dark round the edges” very rare psych-folk-rock album from 1972 with Comus’s “First Utterance” following a similar template. Slayer’s classics remastered and cut to 180g are pretty breathtaking and The Beatles box set (although this was released last year) is fucking amazing.
November 13, 2013
The humidity ratcheted up until he couldn’t bear it any longer. “That’s it, I can’t work in this heat, it’s too much”. Just unzipped his boiler suit, dropped the wrench on the gantry and walked away, leaving me there holding the radio looking at the crane operator raising his arms at me in a what-the-fuck? gesture. I didn’t say anything. By the time I’d got back to the ops centre, he’d gone.
May 24, 2013
I stayed up until 4am last night, on my aching feet for hours. A few vodka red bulls helped to stave off the exhaustion and the heinekens added a bit of a buzz. Savages kicked off, the stage below a huge photovoltaic array like a piece of fallen spacecraft. What a great band. Four women, one guitar, one bass, drums and the singer. Dressed in black. Not a lot of talking. Perfect post-punk. Angular, sharp, arresting and punchy. Jehnny Beth channeling Ian Curtis and with a voice like Souxie Sou. Tame Impala have some great tunes but it all felt a bit, well, tame. Next up, Dinosaur Jr, a band I’ve not seen for nearly twenty five years. Wow, just perfect. J Mascis coaxing everything from his battered Strat and a wall of Marshall’s with Lou Barlow pummelling a low slung Rickenbacker and alternating on vocals. You can’t beat a three piece playing intense rock n’roll. Loads of songs, some classics, some obscure. A cover of The Cure’s “Just like Heaven” was in there somewhere adn Damien from Fucked Up joined them for a cover of Last Right’s “Chunks” to end a blistering set. I regretfully had to pass on Bob Mould for the Postal Service but I’d seen him and the new band last year. PS were dreamy. Lovely melodic quirky pop music only spoilt by the endless jabbering of over excited stoned Spaniards around us. I was hungry so ate some chips covered in ketchup and mustard. Next on Fucked Up. A delighted band open up with “Queen of Hearts” and we all sing along as Damien throws his not inconsiderable girth around the stage and into the crowd. I had an itch that needed to be scratched though and that was to see Death Grips. I’ve struggled with their music but had a hunch that they might be something to see live and boy was I not mistaken. Juddering foundation loosening sub bass. Manic skittering snares. Ugly Einstürzende Neubauten inspired breakbeats and “Energy Flash” hardcore synth stabs. That’s just the music. Lead man MC Ride is the bastard son of Fela Kuti and Henry Rollins in his darkest ‘End of Silence’ days. What a performance. It was f*cking mental. After that I chilled out with some Four Tet and then Animal Collective before exhaustion took hold. With memories of enormous queues for buses and taxis after Sonar some years back I’d booked a hotel right by the site so it’s only a five minute walk back to a comfy bed. Festivals in Cities are really good. No mud and you can get away from it all and chill out. A nice tapas lunch and a wander around the City. Marc bought me an Intronaut LP to add to the couple of bagfuls I’ve already bought here as there are some flippin’ great record stores with tents on the festival site. I’m going to drink some Cava now and then go and see Om, Shellac, James Blake, Swans and Goat tonight. I love music.
May 20, 2013
May 19, 2013
March 29, 2013
January 14, 2013
Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Really great writing on an eclectic and sometimes challenging range of subjects. Essays include his brothers accidental electroction; Bunny Wailer interviewed in Jamaica; living in the residence of an ancient man of Southern letters and Axl Rose.
Boneland by Alan Garner. A blend of the theme of Thursbitch and the characters of the Wyrdstone stories brings an adult finish and flourish to the series of children’s books from the 70′s. I have to say I preferred Thursbitch and The Stone Quartet but this is a great book nevertheless and clearly an itch the author needed to scratch.
Train Dreams – Denis Johnson. A perfect novella that deserves five stars or more. An history of the American 20th century told through the eyes and story of one man. One of the best books of 2012.
KLF: Chaos, Magic, Music, Money by J M R Higgs. Interesting and entertaining ebook that’s more about discordianism, dada, chaos and Robert Anton Wilson than it is about Jimmy Cauty and the KLF. Good if this stuff is of interest.
Museums without Walls by Jonathon Meades. Meades! in writing! all the essays! essential…
Heavy Duty People by Iain Parke. Novel based upon the Northern biker wars a few years back. Noir’ish and interesting for the subject matter. The author clearly got further inside of a closed culture than Hunter S Thompson ever did.
Sharon Olds – Stags Leap. I’ve been to the winery and have a bottle of the Cabernet that the poet named this anthology after in my limited wine collection. It was the favourite wine of Old’s and her husband until their separation which this collection describes in excruciating and moving details. Kind of, erm relevant…..