Sunday, 30 April 2017
Talking Heads yesterday, Severed Heads today. Severed Heads are/were an Australian electronic/post punk outfit formed in 1979 and operating on and off with a revolving door of personnel from then until now. In 1989 their Greater Reward single was remixed in a variety of versions and mixes and the following year The Grid turned in this rather nice and very 1990 version, house piano to the fore at first, then beats and bass and handclaps before the pianos return.
Greater Reward (The Grid Remix)
Saturday, 29 April 2017
Jonathan Demme died a couple of days ago. When I was seventeen I watched Stop Making Sense for the first time, the Talking Heads concert film he made. It is fair to say that it made quite an impression on me. I wore my VHS copy out. This performance of Life During Wartime is something else with so many memorable moments- the keyboards are out there, David Byrne is full on and the bit where the front line all jog on the spot at the front of the stage is visually stunning.
Not only that, but this as well. New Order's best video for one of their many 80s peaks.
Friday, 28 April 2017
In 1987 Ce Ce Rogers and Marshall Jefferson made Someday, one of the definitive early house music records and the first house record released on a major label. From the warm, bouncing bassline to Ce Ce's vocal and the optimism of the lyrics, it is a record that leaves better than when it found you.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
In The Trees by Faze Action was a 1996 funky house single with disco undertones, sweeping strings headed for summer (made by brothers Simon and Robin Lee in Buckinghamshire). They went on to make plenty of other singles and albums but In The Trees is the one that they are known for.
In 2007 Carl Craig fed it through his Detroit techno/science fiction remix machine, starting out with a rhythmic buzzing sound and then adding layers and layers on top. The kick drum arrives after a couple of minutes. The synths rush in from stage left. By the time the strings hit you, the ride is all consuming and you're completely sucked in, heading for the black hole.
In The Trees (Carl Craig C2 Remix 4)
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
I watched the Warpaint gig from 6 Music's Glasgow festival on the iPlayer last week and then went back to last year's Heads Up album which underwhelmed me at the time. I'm a big fan of the group, the dance-rock grooves, the post-punk bass, Californian harmonies and fluid guitars, but Heads Up just seemed to wash over me without making much of an impact. I've got a bit more out of it now. This song, So Good, has a funky disco drumbeat, locked in bass from Jenny Lee and the vaguest of choruses. The instrumental part towards the end where the keys play off against the rest is a joy.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
I've posted This Is The Day by The The before, twice in fact, but until last week I had never seen the video.
None of you need me to tell you what a great song this is, from the accordian to the softly sung vocals and the affecting autobiographical lyrics. I always assumed Matt was singing about a woman he knew but it occurred to me watching the video that he might be singing to himself. Either way, the observations are spot on. It is also one of those songs which seems to be about you. I'm also a big fan of the 1993 version complete with Casio organ preset rhythm (also known as That Was The Day)
This Is The Day (Disinfected Version)
The early 90s full band version of The The, including Johnny Marr and James Eller plus Zeke Manyika, reunited for a RSD only 7" playing tribute to Matt's artist brother Andy, who designed the eye catching The The sleeves, who sadly died last year. Just 2000 copies, no re-release, no downloads. I know at least one person reading this has one.
Saturday, 22 April 2017
We are driving to London today to watch a friend run the London marathon on Sunday. He lost his wife Sarah to cancer four years ago aged just forty-two, leaving his three daughters without a Mum. He couldn't run to the bottom of the road a few months ago so doing twenty-six miles is a big deal. If you've got any spare change down the back of the sofa or in that jar on the side and fancy making a donation his Just Giving page is here.
We won't be driving back until Sunday evening so I doubt there will be any new posts here until Tuesday. See you then. This is an early track from Battersea's finest, The Orb.
Tripping On Sunshine (Live Mix)
Friday, 21 April 2017
DJ Harvey looks a bit like that bloke in your local pub who got on one in 1989 and never really got off. Five years ago he put out an album as Locussolus which came with a bunch of remixes- Weatherall, Prins Thomas, Lindstrom, Emperor Machine and this one from Richard Norris' Time And Space Machine, a summer in the Balearic Isles house thumper with a gruff vocal.
Thursday, 20 April 2017
Henry McCullough is the subject of one of 2016's best songs, recorded by BP Fallon and David Holmes, a long, euphoric, spoken word tribute to the Northern Irish guitarist and songwriter. BP Fallon's vocal was recorded when he stayed at Holmes' house, the night after Henry's funeral. It's a stunning piece of work.
On Saturday Record Shop Day will be upon us again, the annual cash cow for record companies and Ebay scalpers, with the odd sideline benefit for independent record shops and fans. In terms of its intentions starting out, it was meant to get people back into record shops. Job done I think. But it's crossed over into something else now, something more crass and brazenly commercial. On the other hand, irritatingly, there are always one or two things that I want. Andrew Weatherall's stellar remixes of this track is this year's must-have record here in the Bagging Area bunker.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Another long song but one that seems to shoot by far quicker than yesterday's expansive Screamadelica is Bang Bang Machine's Geek Love (also a favourite of Drew's but I don't think he's posted it this year). Bang Bang Machine, from Evesham near Worcester, never really found much success outside the indie ghetto and self financed this 12" which was also a favourite of John Peel and his listeners, who made it their Festive Fifty number one in 1992. The song starts out as indie rock but at a couple of minutes in becomes something dancier and stays there in, a dance-shoegaze groove with a totally hypnotic drum pattern and entrancing vocals, building further until finishing just after nine minutes. Lovely.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Can you feel the rhythm?
Some songs that are ten minutes long fly by and some feel like they are ten minutes long, a journey to wherever the artist intends to take you. Screamadelica, the title track that wasn't on the album of the same name, was recorded in Memphis with Weatherall and Nicholson at the controls and released on the Dixie Narco ep in 1992. It is ten minutes of blissful Balearic house accompanied by Denise Johnson's vocals- 'spaced out, star child, screamadelica'- and an array of found sounds and other voices. Slip inside.
Monday, 17 April 2017
I think this is the first time I've posted anything by a band from South Korea- and if Trump continues the way he's set out recently it may be the last time too. The Korean peninsula is in danger of being wiped out in by a nuclear exchange ordered by a former reality TV show host who has ended up in charge of the world's most powerful military versus the clearly barking mad son of a tyrant/traditional dictator.
Say Sue Me come from Busan and are about to tour the UK with Otoboke Beaver. They have their first release outside of South Korea out on indie label Damnably. This song, I Know I'm Kind Of Boring, is fuzzy, melodic indie rock not a million miles away from Kid Wave and I could listen to it all day. You can buy their album at Bandcamp.
Sunday, 16 April 2017
April 14th saw a load of Aphex Twin articles published across the net, in honour of his 2001 track Avril 14th. I had a vague plan to post Avril 14th but forgot about it so here I am, two days late.
Avril 14th has been used in Hollywood films, sampled by Kanye West and streamed 38 million times. It is a beautiful, minimal piano piece, two and a bit minutes long, Erik Satie-like, that sounds like a robot has been left with a piano in the small hours.
This is Avril 14th slowed down by 1000% by Evan Chapman, twenty minutes of ambient noise.
Saturday, 15 April 2017
Peter Perrett of The Only Ones is the writer of a song that all bloggers are legally obliged to have posted at least once (Another Girl Another Planet). He has a long awaited solo album about to come out and this song has just appeared.
Peter's got a voice that is instantly recognisable and totally distinctive. This song lopes along like the Velvet Underground but a VU that celebrates Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez. That's his sons are on lead guitar and bass.
While we're here, here's The Only Ones live at the Electric Ballroom in Camden in 1980. The gig was released as a live album in 1989 which I bought following reading a review in either the NME or Melody Maker. The final song Me And My Shadow blew me away then and still does now- Peter's vocals are wracked and drawled like no one else's, the guitars are vicious and the drums thumping.
Me And My Shadow (Live in 1980)
Friday, 14 April 2017
There is an absurd amount of music to explore at Psychemagik's Soundcloud page and their Bandcamp page (where they've just archived eight years of tracks for a fiver). Like Steve Cobby's recent six disc re-issue of How About Some More Ether? it's a question of getting stuck in and seeing which ones make the ears prick up the most and then getting to know the rest better over time. This song, Chimera, is very good, a laid back blend of drums and strings...
And I'm also quite taken with this remix the duo did for Roisin Murphy two years ago, a throbbing synth led dancefloor thing...
Thursday, 13 April 2017
Last week Slam celebrated a quarter of a century by taking over Rinse FM and inviting a load of guests to play mixes/podcasts. One of those invited was Andrew Weatherall who put forward the hour of music on the player below, which includes some speaker rattling reggae, some head rattling psychedelia and some weird stuff. You'll find something to enjoy in it somewhere.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
I was reminded of this song on social media the other day and it re-awakened the song for me. Hyperballad swoops in from somewhere else, from Bjork's imagination and Nellee Hooper's fingertips, picks you up and carries you off for a few minutes, somewhere else entirely. Not so much a song, more a force of nature. There's nothing ordinary, prosaic or run-of-the-mill about Hyperballad. Bjork's own explanations of it, about being a few years into a relationship and making it feel alive and 'the art of not forgetting about yourself' add to the song (sometimes when artists explain what I song is about I wish they hadn't bothered). The music sweeps by in a rush of rhythms and textures, brilliantly and beautifully.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
In this post-Brexit world we live in it seems more important than ever to keep looking forward, to try to keep finding things that make the days lighter and longer. Over in Sweden the Hoga Nord label have an ever expanding catalogue of leftfield music. This one from Fontan was released last August, a three track 12" (now sold out). Hoga Nord claim that Fontan are Sweden's 'number one neo-psych band' and I have no reason to doubt them. Is this trippy late 60s rock retrogressive? Possibly. But is it good? Yes indeed.
The third track off the single, Sen Sen No Sen, is a psychedelic and repetitive delight, eight and a half minutes of drumming, percussion, glockenspiel with drones and heady noises.
Monday, 10 April 2017
Good advice Joe.
Earthquake Weather, Joe Strummer's 1989 album, is a bit of a mess in places. There are some of Joe's most affecting solo songs (Sleepwalk, Island Hopping), some mostly forgettable ones and some that sound like Joe couldn't quite get it sorted. The songs that are decent aren't helped by the production and the mixing. Gangsterville has a rambling lyric full of Joe lyrical tropes and a bashed out musical track complete with a squealing guitar solo. For the intro Joe mutters something and then the band crash in. There are some good moments, where the song breaks down and the piano runs down and Joe sings the song's title - and then the band come back in again, crashing about. There's a good song lurking inside Gangsterville but the performance and the production do their best to hide it. Joe was lacking confidence at this point, well into his self proclaimed wilderness years, and worked on Earthquake Weather in Los Angeles without a musical partner. Another voice alongside him, co-writing and in the control booth, and Earthquake Weather might have been a very different record.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
Saturday, 8 April 2017
1991 spoilt us in many ways musically, not least with the release of Massive Attack's Blue Lines, a real melting pot album. Dub's basslines, reggae's sound systems, hip hop's rhythms, punk's DIY attitude. Unfinished Sympathy gets all the plaudits (quite rightly, it's an astonishing record) but Safe From Harm is a huge and brilliant song, led by the driving and tautest of basslines (sampled from Billy Cobham's Stratus) and then overlaid with 3D's paranoia rap and Shara's vocals. The long version from the 12" is has more of everything that's good about this song.
Safe From Harm (Long Version)
Friday, 7 April 2017
There are plenty of Madonna singles I'll make a case for, from Into The Groove to Ray Of Light and several in between. I even like American Pie. In 1990 she released two singles that are as good as anything she did, splicing pop with house to stay a step ahead of the rest, and pushing pop music into new places. Vogue is a smart pop song, a dance, a homage to 1920s and 1930s style and Hollywood legend, a light shining on the gay club scene, and a celebration of the dancefloor. The rap section is totally memorable and the rhythm can only have come from producer Shep Pettibone's exposure to house music in Europe.
Justify My Love was a step further, calculated to cause offence and controversy. Co-written by Lenny Kravitz, drums borrowed from Public Enemy (and Clyde Stubblefield originally), it sets off like a train and Madonna's breathy vocals make it clear there's only one thing on her mind. The video features the full range of button pushers for the TV censors- scenes of a sexual nature, cross-dressing, BDSM and nudity, all par for the course for Madonna in 1990. The Sex book (with Vanilla Ice of all people) was just around the corner. Justify My Love is a great single in its own right though, a chuggy dance pop monster. The video was banned by MTV (obvs) and to watch it you'd have to buy it on VHS. Until Youtube was invented.
Justify My Love
Thursday, 6 April 2017
The Hurt are back in May with a new single, Sleeping backed with Darker Sun. They have two former Paris Angels in their ranks, Rikki Turner and Paul Wagstaff (also of Black Grape), pictured above by Paul Husband. These songs are a long way from the heady days of Madchester though. Sleeping growls and grinds, Rikki's baritone vocals recalling a northern Nick Cave, hiding his face from the light. Darker Sun is a brooding, bass led thing with overloaded guitars and female vocals, the soundtrack to a night out under the streetlamps in the rain. Both are well worth some of your hard earned. I'll put some links up to listen and to buy when its released.
As a reminder, last year they put out the excellent, uplifting Berlin which came with a remix of The Dead by acid house hero Suddi Raval (of Hardcore Uproar fame), available at Bandcamp and on the Bandcamp player below.
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
It can't just be about new music can it? No, it can't. This record by The Holy Ghost Inc. came out in 1990 and combined house and ambient to make a record so expansive, so hypnotic and so magical that 12" of vinyl seems too small a format to contain it, never mind a piddly 8.19 MB MP3 rip. Float away.
Walk On Air (Sun & Moon Mix)
Tuesday, 4 April 2017
There's lots of new stuff around at the moment. To continue yesterday's theme, it's not 'new' new stuff, but new stuff from older bands. There must be an analysis that says that April and May are good times to release music. Last week Gorillaz put out four new songs. I was going to type 'dropped four new singles' but I gagged a little bit at typing 'dropped' and I don't think an internet only song counts as a single (or if singles even exist anymore. I know that 7" singles still exist but when one artist releases an album and all the songs off it enter the top twenty, the single is pretty much a dead form I think).
The four new Gorillaz songs are a mixed bunch, and I suspect the album to follow will be too (which like all Gorillaz albums carries a long list of guest stars and collaborators from Grace Jones to De La Soul to Johnny Beth to Mavis Staples to Jamie Principle and so on). The best one and the only one I've so far wanted to listen to several times is Andromeda, which is a skip away from dance music, with a house beat and synths and a Damon vocal that isn't just that listless one he usually does. It sounds like it was fun to make and is fun to listen to.
A bit less upfront, more subtle and more interested in texture and mood is this new song from Goldfrapp. I haven't heard the whole album yet but this song, Moon In Your Mouth, is a lovely thing. The synths are moody, immersive and spacious, building, and Alison's vocal matches them, soaring where it needs to. Goldfrapp flit from synth stomp albums to folky albums. This song takes parts from both and adds some science fiction.
Monday, 3 April 2017
Maybe we've reached a point where band re-unions have become worthwhile artistically. In the past, when the 60s groups and the punk bands reformed it was often a case of the fans get a nostalgic night out and the band members get a payday (see also The Stone Roses). Not much in the way of new material that meant anything was forthcoming. Let's face it, no one really wanted the reformed Sex Pistols to make an album of new songs. When Television reformed people got to see a group they'd never seen, only been able to hear on record. That was enough (and Television went on to make new records that many people thought were pretty good but I bet they don't play them much anymore). But I think there's something changing. The new songs from Slowdive are a case in point. Star Roving came out a few months ago and sounded great and now there's a new one. Listen to this, out last week ahead of an album in May...
That is fucking gorgeous. It sounds like the work of the group who made Souvlaki. But it also sounds new and like the work of people who have moved onwards. Maybe the experience they had first time around- success very quickly when young, the music press inventing new cliches to describe their sound and then turning on them very quickly too, goaded on by press savvy starlets like Richey Edwards (who said they were worse than Hitler), three albums and then dropped by a label (Creation of all people) that wanted hits- was so accelerated and so intense that they had to stop. The act of having a break for twenty years, getting back together older and wiser, with two decades worth of new sounds to make and new things to say, makes for good music if the creative intent is there. The pressure of the early 90s music press has gone. There's an audience of fans from first time around who have money and babysitters. There are new fans who have reclaimed the word shoegaze and turned it from sneer to celebration (Drew said that there were loads of young people lapping up Ride in Glasgow the other week). There are new groups who have grown up using parts of the sound and moving it on themselves. It used to be the case, especially with guitar groups, that youth was the thing, bands had to be hip young gunslingers. Maybe that doesn't matter anymore. Reform and do it again but better.
Sunday, 2 April 2017
Back in 2013 Forest Swords, a one man producer from Wirral, put out an album called Engravings which I really enjoyed (and digging further back an ep called Dagger Paths). He's back with a new song and a new album in May (Compassion). Arms Out is a bit of a stunner....
I think it's fair to say there's a certain amount of Massive Attack in it but it has an optimism that's sometimes missing from the Bristolians and those strings over those beats with the delay on the snatches of voice are pretty breathtaking.
Working backwards there was another new one at the start of March, The Highest Flood, more abstract sounds, fractured drums and suddenly some choral voices. All very intriguing, and while sounding very urban its all a bit pastoral too. Wirral is one of those kind of in-between places, surrounded by sea on three sides and with a bigger, more famous neighbour across the Mersey- maybe that's what's coming out in the music. May looks like being an expensive month.
Saturday, 1 April 2017
Like Drew I've been listening to the Mary Chain mostly this week, working my way through the studio albums in the car to and from work and getting to know Damage And Loss at home. So Saturday, April 1st (no Fools stuff here I'm afraid), first day off work for two weeks, something different and brand new for the blog to go with the return of Bruce Pennington's kitchy sci-fi 70s artworks.
This is the latest from Rich Lane, a chuggy piece of machine music for dancers and headnodders alike. Even better than the original mix of Dumb It Down is the Jack Butters remix (click the Next symbol on the player), music from a dark machine, a twangy guitar in there too and the robotic vocal of Alien Sofa. Buy both from Bandcamp for £1.80 and Rich, Jack and Alien will put it towards the cost of a pint in a Wetherspoons somewhere.