June 5, 2015
February 1, 2015
December 30, 2014
One more ring on the tree, four seasons gone. Who knows where the time goes?.
#1 Spring (EP): Blixa Bargeld and Teo Teardo. Only five songs, but blimey, what a little gem. A collaboration between Bad Seeds/Einsturzende Neubauten guitarist, singer and composer BB and composer TT. Soli si Muoro & Crimson and Clover, an Italian and English version of the same piece are just hair raising beautiful music. Millions of Eels tells the story, of, well, millions of eels making their way to the Sargasso Sea. If you have a record player, there are a few copies still left and it’s also available for DL online and on iTunes. Their album “Still Smiling” from 2013 is just as good, but the EP really stands alone by itself.
#2 Steve Gunn: Way out Weather. I’ve probably listened to this and last year’s “Time Off” more than anything else. Gunn’s relaxed virtuoso guitar style from vintage Americana to clean fender jazz with a bit of krautrock would be enough on its own but its his ability as a songwriter and member of his group that puts this (and time off) right up there. Again both this and Time Off worth buying on CD or (preferably) vinyl but also available on Spotify and other places.
#3 King Creosote: From Scotland with Love. Some find Kenny’s stuff a bit syrupy and sentimental but I really like it. He’s taken Jon Hopkins influence from Diamond Mine and folded it into his more traditional approach to songwriting to great effect with a much bigger and broader spectrum with a full band, strings and chorus. There are some real standout songs in Something to Believe In, Miserable Strangers and the rocking For One Night Only alongside interesting off-the-wall stuff like the kids nursery rhyme Bluebell, Cockleshells, 1 2 3 and the Hopkins influenced electro acoustic One Floor Down. (I believe he voted Yes in the referendum…)
#4 Mac Demarco: Salad Days. I really like this guy. Reminds me a bit of Steven Malkmus (Pavement) with a bit more of an 80’s Eagles/Cars/ yacht rock coke vibe. Sunny, summery, lazy slacker pop rock. Like a less serious and more stoned Sea and Cake. His Mac Demarco 2 is just as good, if not better.
#5 Moodymann: Moodymann. Maybe KDJ’s best album yet or at least on par with Black Mahogani. Syrupy soul, compressed reconstructed funk, Detroit codeine house beats. Still opening up like a Japanese paper flower pill months on.
#6 Flying Lotus: You’re Dead. Still exploring this one.. He’s Alice Coltrane’s nephew and it shows. Proper electric era Miles Davis (Live Evil, Agartha etc.) plus Kendrick Lamarr, Snoop Dogg and other vocalists. It’s like the Guru’s Jazzmatazz take on mid-70’s Herbie Hancock (he plays on it), Miles, Weather Report, Sun Ra but with modern electronica and Ras G thrown in. A messy Joyful Noise to the Creator.
#7 Oathbreaker: Eros/Anteros. Sister (in real life and lead vocalist) group to the amazing Belgian avant metal outfit Amenra. Not easy listening; blistering hypnotic black’ish metal, it’s ace with a female singer.
#8 Beck: Morning Phase. I’m guessing he was on morphine when he fucked his back up ‘cos this is about as blissful as one could get. Californian sunshine, waves lapping on the beach. His old man arranged the strings for his acoustic guitar songs which wouldn’t be out of place on a Denis Wilson mid 70’s bootleg.
#9 Melanie de Biaso: No Deal. She sings like Nina Simone and Sade and the music’s great.
Also on the list… Swans: To Be Kind. Shellac: Dude Incredible. J Mascis: Tied to a Star. Sun Kil Moon: Benji. Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams & 1984. Bob Mould: Beauty and Ruin. Sharon van Etten: Are We There?. Sleaford Mods: Divide and Exit; Chubbed Up (the singles). Mogwai: Rave Tapes. Fennesz: Becs.
Reissues of note.
Arthur Russell: Love is Overtaking Me. Lots of early poppy, folky Arthur. Really lovely.
Harry Tausig: Fate is Only Twice. A fellow traveller of the Takoma school of Americana, this hasn’t seen the light of day for years.
I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America – 1950-1990. Forget the New Age classification, this is great absorbing cerebral/body music.
Mick Harvey: Intoxicated Man/Pink Elephants. Another Bad Seed alumni. His amazing translation of Serge Gainsbourg’s best songs.
Led Zeppelin: all the albums up to Houses of the Holy. I did question why these were getting remastered again but this time Jimmy Page has done a real proper job. They sound amazing and the alternative takes are all fantastic.
Sleep: Dopesmoker. The classic stoner rock high water mark.
Iggy and the Stooges: Raw Power. Iggy’s and Bowies mixes on the same album. Sounds really fresh.
Hawkwind: Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. My favourite Hawks album that wouldn’t sound out of place in Roxy Music’s back catalogue given the remaster and 180g repress treatment.
March 23, 2014
It was freezing queuing up last night and I was stood next to Evan Parker for half an hour but was too shy to say thanks for all his great music. Once inside we got a great place, half stood, half crouched by the front. It started with a short film on Yoko which was very moving.. She’s had such a difficult and challenging life. Some beautiful footage of her in love with John Lennon then tear jerking shots after he was killed and her accepting a Grammy on his behalf with Julian as a little boy.. Then she walks through the small audience, a tiny, sparrow like lady, smiling and shy.
Thurston Moore, towering above her taking a side place on the stage and Steve Shelley, big enough in girth behind a small drum kit.
Then an hours performance, a proper performance. Some improvised, some of Yoko’s songs. Very intimate, very real, very fun, very sweet, very good…
It finished with a short encore. Yoko strapping on a guitar, Thurston also and they did a very sweet, playful flirtation without touching the strings, just footsteps, stepping into the audience without a sound.. Faces drawing closers as if for a kiss then struck each other’s guitars with the necks, a wall of noise and applause, tears and goodwill. I was pretty choked…. Quite a performance and one I’ll remember for a long time.
February 12, 2014
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.