Kelly Lee Owens has released one of this year's best albums- her self-titled debut is the Piccadilly Records album of the year and they don't usually get it wrong. The album has been near my stereo since it came out, a woozy, spectral head-trip with little melodies emerging from the analogue synths and drum machine, sing-song vocals and extended waves of ambient noise. To finish the year off she has put out a single, a cover of Aaliyah's More Than A Woman, heavy bass and sampled strings, out digitally now and on vinyl soon. The B-side is her own remix of the A-side, a tougher house version with squiggles.
Unauthorised item in the bagging area
Thursday, 30 November 2017
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
This was one of the stand out tracks on Weatherall's most recent Music's Not For Everyone, a strange electronic track from Konzel. You can find it as one of five tracks from five different artists on Glasgow's Invisible Family 2 ep. Haptic Didactic has a hypnotic bass, synths, guitar slashes, a disjointed voice, some great percussion sounds and a lot more besides. Absorbing stuff and available digitally at Bandcamp.
Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Mr Weatherall is currently on tour in Australia but he sent in November's edition of Music's Not For Everyone so we wouldn't miss out.
More of the usual weird, psychedelic, dub, house mish-mash. from Agnes Obel, Okay Temiz and Johnny Diyani, Stunning Couple, Poets Of The Machine, Natural Sugars, Konzel, The Spellbinder Project, Mumbo Jumbo, Au Pairs, Sven Libaek, Anthony King, Jock Scott and Gareth Sagar, Klaus Joynson and The Type 40, Eddie Miller, Buck Jones, Max Wall, Kaleidoscope, Gerardo Iacoucci, O.C.S., Justine, Jennifer Touch, Anne Clark and AMOR.
Monday, 27 November 2017
This came out in September and was widely missed and it's a shame because it is an excellent piece of disco-tinged house. Duncan Gray provides the music, the clipped riff and the beats, the whooshing noises and the grimey bassline. Sarah Rebecca provides the vocals, about drive and ambition and sexual obsession, ending up chanting 'I will be reborn in the fire' over a dirty, descending guitar part.
It's a Monday at the end of November. Christmas is too far away to look like any fun. Black Friday is a dispiriting now annual occurrence. We all could all do with some uplifitng, slinky, funky dance music in our lives couldn't we?
Sunday, 26 November 2017
Every so often I get an email from Mark, the founder of the Quiet Storm family, asking for a suggestion. He'll provide a theme or a photo and ask for a song. A while back he asked for songs that name-check other artists and the Quiet Storm family responded in spades. Mark has compiled and mixed the songs together into a 70 minute mix that is a hit from start to finish, as the tracklist below shows.
The songs I suggest for these mixes often end up being the last song, the play out tune. I don't know what that tells you about me. That I like to have the last word? That the songs I choose are all end of night records? That I go for encores? This time it's Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros' Yalla Yalla, a favourite of mine since it came out in the late 90s. Joe spins out lines about Kool Moe Dee, The Treacherous Three and Brownie McGee.
1. Consolation Prize - Orange Juice
2. Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken - Lloyd Cole And The Commotions
3. You Get What You Give - New Radicals
4. Just Like Eddie - Heinz
5. You're Right Ray Charles - Joe Tex
6. Aretha Sing One For Me - George Jackson
7. When Smokey Sings - ABC
8. Thou Shalt Always Kill - Dan le Sac VS Scroobius Pip
9. Daft Punk Is Playing At My House - LCD Soundsystem
10. Lighten Up Morrissey - Sparks
11. All Men Are Liars - Nick Lowe
12. Sweet Gene Vincent - Ian Dury
13. Faron Young - Prefab Sprout
14. Tinseltown To The Boogie Down - Scritti Politti
15. Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds - The Mountain Goats
16. Elvis Presley Blues - Gillian Welch
17. On My Way To Harlem - Gregory Porter
18. Yalla Yalla - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
Here's Joe back in 1999
Saturday, 25 November 2017
A friend posted this picture on social media recently, a magazine photoshoot from 1995. Richard Whiteley at the controls. My best effort on the letters was 'scores', 6 letters, not too bad I thought. But, according to the Countdown episode guide (yes, it exists) you could get an 8 letter word- 'scowlers'.
This is a new one from Justin Robertson (in his Deadstock 33s guise), about to come out on 7", a chugging, funky piece of acid goodness, equal parts Detroit and Manchester with bleeps straight out of Yorkshire. It really hits the spot for Saturday.
Friday, 24 November 2017
I found this picture I took a few years ago, the River Irwell again but somehow I managed to get it and everything around it entirely in blue. No filters. So one more river post to complete the week- I was thinking of songs that mention rivers (Nick Cave and Kylie, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Sugar's The Act We Act) but you can flog these blog things to death if you're not careful.
This song is from A Certain Ratio's 1989 album Good Together, released following their move to a major label (A&M) in search of funds and a hit. Hits evaded them. But Good Together is a good album, a song based record, a little over polished possibly, and they went several steps beyond it with the following year's ACR:MCR, an album which was soaked in what was happening in the clubs.
ACR are playing The Ritz in December and then a UK tour in March. I've seen them twice in recent years and will do again next month- they are well worth seeing if they're playing anywhere near you.
Thursday, 23 November 2017
This muddy stream is in the woods in Sale, a dirty tributary that I'm guessing ends up in the Mersey. Musically, today I offer you a delightfully strange song and its dub, both from the magic hands of Lee Perry and Zap Pow, recorded at Perry's Black Ark at some point in the 1970s (1977 I think). The original track is slowly wonky, vocal harmonies and horns and a lilting rhythm. The dub, River Stone, is dubbier and less strange, strangely. A river that smells of sweet herbs and drifts towards the sea.
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
That's the Mersey, wending its way from Stockport, through Sale (where the picture was taken) and out through Cheshire to Liverpool. Mersey Paradise as four mop-tops once said.
There's an excellent 7" release- sold out/repressed/sold out/repressed and currently available again here- by the Dubwood Allstars called Under Dubwood, a Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas in dub King Tubby excursion.
The B-side is River Theme, a grizzly, funky garage-psyche groove from The Time And Space Machine.
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
The Irwell again, above, photographed from the same bridge as yesterday but facing south rather than north.
River Of Bass is the opener to Side D of dubnobasswithmyheadman (or track 8 on cd), possibly the best album of the 1990s. River Of Bass glides into being, all fluid and loose with Karl's vocals half whispered/half sung over the top, their most ambient track. Sub bass that entrances and mesmerises. Calming and reflective.
River Of Bass
Monday, 20 November 2017
Some more rivers coming your way over the next few days I think. Yesterday's river was the Afon Llugwy in Betws-Y-Coed, North Wales, photographed when I was there a few weeks ago. Today's river picture shows the Irwell, historic boundary between Manchester (right) and Salford (left). The pub down by the river on the Salford side, the Mark Addy, was ruined by floods in 2015.
In 2002 Doves found themselves caught by the river. I think it's the same river that R.E.M. were looking for yesterday, a mystical river rather than a geographically specific river. Rivers often symbolise time, power, nature obviously, loss of control, and futility (the futility of trying to hold a river back). Also the river, in song and in life, always joins the sea and then disappears into it. The narrator in this song seems to be talking to his son, who's made a mistake, been caught and now has to learn the lesson.
Doves were a good band. Currently on hiatus, Andy and Jez re-appeared as Black Rivers in 2015. I've posted it before but this Richard Norris remix of their song The Forest is well worth hearing again, a kind of autumnal Balearica.
Sunday, 19 November 2017
I haven't deliberately listened to any R.E.M. for ages. I hear them in passing but don't often make the effort to play their records. Recently I had an overwhelming urge to hear Find The River. The album it finished off, Automatic For The People, came out a quarter of a century ago and for an album that is right up there in their back catalogue, Find The River is quite the ending, heartstrings tugged at for sure, but also optimistic and wide eyed (at the end of a record that was surrounded by rumours of death and illness). Lovely beyond belief.
Stipe's lyrics were much clearer by this point-
'The river to the ocean flows
A fortune for the undertow
None of this is going my way'
But he could still chuck in words for their own sake, for the sound of them-
'Of ginger, lemon, indigo
Coriander stem and rose of hay'
And finish with couplets that seem to mean something-
'Strength and courage overides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete
Pick up her and chase the ride
The river empties to the tide
All of this is going your way'
Saturday, 18 November 2017
You know you're gonna be mine...
I'm going to bounce you out of your bed on this Saturday morning with a perfect piece of rave- pop from Bizarre Inc, a trio from Stafford. They had two hit singles in 1991, both ravier and more hardcore- Playing With Knives and Such A Feeling. I'm Gonna Get You is unashamedly pop, with vocals from Angie Brown (reworking lyrics from Jocelyn Brown's Love's Gonna Get You, a 1985 song which also contained germs of two other rave hits, a sample in Moby's Go and the line 'I've got the power!' in Snap's The Power). I'm Gonna Get You went to number 2 in the chart, based around a drumbeat, synth stabs and some vocal hooks. Once in your head they will stay there all day.
Yo DJ pump this party.
I'm Gonna Get You
Friday, 17 November 2017
Sometimes with a blog post the music comes first and the picture second and sometimes the picture comes first and the music follows.When I found this picture, about to appear in a new book about women in punk from Sam Knee called Untypical Girls; Styles And Sounds Of The Transatlantic Indie Revolution, I had to post it.
New Day Rising from 1984, the same year the picture was taken, is the first song on the album of the same name and is a righteous blast of fast, melodic punk rock from three men playing as if their lives depended on it.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
There's been some discussion over the last couple of days at The Flightpath Estate (A Facebook group for Weatherall enthusiasts) about this 12" single from 1994, a one off under the pseudonym Meek. It came out on Conemelt's New Ground Dance Division and was limited to 500 copies- I only got a copy a few years back, via Discogs, but remember hearing it at a friend's flat in Liverpool, late one night after clubbing. I've posted both sides before but that was back in 2012, decades ago in blogging terms.
Glowing Trees is a long, abstract piece of experimental ambient-techno- whirring clocklike noises, some echo, a little melody box type refrain, a soft padding bassline- all quite dreamy and drifting.
Glowing Trees Part 1
Part 2 adds a kick drum and some extra rhythmic intent, propelling it forward. Very Sabres Of Paradise-esque (not surprisingly).
Glowing Trees Part 2
On the label at the centre of the record there is an inscription, reading 'with a head like a burnt candle'.
Dig in Webbie.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
Charlotte Gainsbourg has a new album, Rest, out on Friday. A few weeks ago this song came out, a brilliant piece of dreamy electro-pop, with all the right parts in all the right places.
Soulwax's remix of the same song came out a few days ago,with Belgian beats and cowbell and stretched out over eight minutes. Not quite as instant and emphatic as the original but worth a spin.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Another long one today, a tad over an hour's worth of folky freakery for you. Back in September Andrew Weatherall guested on 6 Music's Freak Zone and played a load of unreleased songs from his Moine Dubh label. The first bunch of songs were released as part of a 7" vinyl subscription a year ago, five singles for fifty quid. The follow up, which is what I'm assuming this will become, is in this big mp3 file.
There's a mixture of Moine Dubh artists here, old and new. Frank Alba and Barry Woolnough both appeared in the first singles club or at the live night at Crystal Palace, Woolnough with the spooky song of loss Great Spirit Father In The Sky. Fireflies, Echowood and Lowroad did too. Nina Walsh, who is in this mix a few times including twice solo with some sparkling acoustic guitar songs, is half of the Woodleigh Research Facility and a long time musical partner. Rootmasters, Jessica Cahill, Eva Eden and Kave are all new ones to me. Over the course of an hour there's some strange modern British folk, some weird psych and some killer tunes.
Monday, 13 November 2017
If you fancy an hour's worth of highest quality machine music seamlessly mixed together by the hands of Richard Fearless then this Boiler Room upload should be right up your alley. Recorded back in 2013, it is a great set, some spacey dub techno, house and acid. Musically it's hypnotic, sexy, and forward thinking stuff and all done on vinyl. Some of the dancing by the punters behind Richard is a little irksome at times but then I wouldn't particularly want to watch back footage of myself cutting some rug either. Scott Fraser and Timothy J. Fairplay can be seen at various points- this was part of a Crimes Of The Future night. There's a Soundcloud upload of the set here. No dancers to distract from your enjoyment of the tunes.
There is further good news for those of us who love Richard's techno/house. He has a new single out in early December called Night Blind. If it's as good as the Sweet Venus/Rex 12" that came out earlier this year, it will be very good indeed.
Sunday, 12 November 2017
An online friend (Spencer) recommended an album to me recently and it's haunted and inspired me for much of the last week. 11, 000 Dreams is a compilation of works from Belgium's Jan Van Den Broeke, a series of minimal, low key synth pieces, drum machines and samples with spoken vocals. On one track Martin Luther King combined with some eastern guitar. Quite a bit of Eno and Byrne in places. Never less than interesting and frequently with some real depth and emotion. Here are two as examples (but you should really buy a copy and get the full effect of the 12 ambient and minimal wave tracks washing over you).
Who Is Still Dreaming?
Saturday, 11 November 2017
This is a new one from The Liminanas, a French duo whose stuff I've posted before- they did an excellent single last year with Hooky on bass (Garden Of Love). This one, Shadow People, has Emmanuelle Seigner on vocals, and has exactly the right amount of Gallic psychedelic buzz.
An e.p. called Istanbul Is Sleepy, recorded between their home in the South of France and Anton Newcombe's studio in Berlin is out in a couple of weeks with an album in 2018. The title track from the e.p. has been out since the end of September. It is a Velvets inspired blast and a total earworm. Le velours souterrain.
Friday, 10 November 2017
A last 1987 song for this week and I'm not even sure it's a very good one. Pop Will Eat Itself's Box Frenzy album was awash with drum machine and samples and on songs like There Is No Love Between Us Anymore they came up with something relatively original, a Midlands take on hip-hop/sampling with indie guitars. The song the album was equally well known for was Beaver Patrol, which opened with a sample 'Attention young ladies!', some crunchy guitar, crashing drum machine beat and then the line 'My favourite way of getting kicks, I go down town and I hustle chicks- beaver patrol'. From there on in it's a question of trying to work out if this is tongue in cheek, humorous, serious, a wind up or what.
It seems like most people were totally unaware this was a cover- I know I was for many years (until a friend bought me the Pebbles garage compilation in the early 90s). The Wilde Knights wrote the original, a 60s organ and guitar garage song. Somehow I'm pretty sure The Wilde Knights were totally serious.
Thursday, 9 November 2017
In August 1987 The Sugarcubes released Birthday, an instant indie hit thanks to John Peel and the music press, a record so different and otherworldly that almost on its own it took the band round the world. I've posted it before, twice. The following year they put out Life's Too Good, an album with Birthday plus nine slices of high octane Icelandic guitar-pop. I've included many of them, Delicious Demon and Fucking In Rhythm And Sorrow especially, on compilation tapes and mix cds ever since. Motorcrash was the last single from the lp, released to promote their US tour at the end of '88, a tour which saw them wined and dined and play at The Ritz in New York with Bowie and Iggy in attendance.
During the American tour they played Saturday Night Live, which you can watch here. The performance by co-vocalist Einar Orn which illustrates exactly why Bjork would eventually go solo. In this clip they play Auburn, Alabama with similar results- blistering band, brilliant lead vocalist, irritating co-vocalist.
Wednesday, 8 November 2017
Let's stay in 1987, a year that has a bad reputation as being at the height of 80s excesses, but there is plenty of gold to be found. Darklands for example...
A very simple song- a couple of chords, some fuzz, some do-do-do-do-do-doo backing vocals and William's tale of teenage alienation.
Ten years later Primal Scream covered Darklands and did quite a job on it- murky, numb, disturbed and distorted. The Scream had bene in a hole for some time at this point and began to climb out with Vanishing Point. This cover was the B-side to the If They Move, Kill 'Em single.
Tuesday, 7 November 2017
Released the same year as yesterday's Shark Vegas song New Order put out two non-album singles in 1987, True Faith and Touched By The Hand Of God. True Faith was the chart smash, the crossover hit with the award winning video but Touched... has long been its equal to these ears. The juddering synth bass intro was written by Hooky, waiting around for the others to arrive at their rehearsal studio, their timekeeping being a long standing gripe of Hooky's. Tellingly in Substance Hooky notes that 'Barney was happy with it'. From there on in the full band contributed to fleshing it out. Originally Touched... was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Salvation!, a parody of televangelism (a straight to VHS release). New Order recorded several other songs for the soundtrack and then had Arthur Baker remix Touched... for its release in December 1987 as a single. There's an effortlessness about it, synth-pop disco brilliance, which makes it favourite of mine, Hooky's bass well represented and Bernard's lyrics seeming to carry the weight of personal experience.
Touched By The Hand Of God
Kathryn Bigelow's video, shot at their Cheetham Hill studio and intercut with MTV video pisstake snippets, is a hoot- all the group dressed as a hair metal band (and Hooky in his normal clothes).
I'm sure if, like me, you were there at the time, you really don't need me to tell you that this single is 30 years old and that, as people like to point out, in 1987 a single that was 30 years old then would have been released in 1957 and etc etc. Where did the last 3 decades go? When did we all get so old?
Monday, 6 November 2017
That was a tough week just gone and probably one to come (for various reasons but y'know, onwards and upwards- we still have music to keep us going). Shark Vegas were a Berlin based band, containing Mark Reeder, who was the Factory Records man in Germany. He put together Shark Vegas, and went through some line up changes including a drummer, Tommy Wiedler, who went on to The Bad Seeds. They supported New Order in 1984 and had a song (You Hurt Me) that was produced by Bernard Sumner and Donald Johnson (as Be Music). Bernard wanted to release as a single and played guitar over the end section. In 1987 a compilation called Young, Popular And Sexy (FAC US 17) was released in the US and Australia. On it was this long forgotten song, a bit of a lost electro-pop classic- yes, there are bits of it where it sounds massively like New Order.
I don't have a MP3 of You Hurt Me but here's the 12" version from Youtube (FAC 111 and recorded at Conny Plank's studio in 1984).
Sunday, 5 November 2017
Saturday, 4 November 2017
The return of Ride and their position close to my stereo is something I definitely wasn't expecting this year. I wasn't too bothered about them back in the early 90s, a couple of songs aside, and their Britpop incarnation was of no interest to me at all. But the 2017 Ride and their Weather Diaries album (a couple of songs too long maybe but a good record and Cali is one of my favourite songs this year) and now a new single- all of these things are pleasing me. This new song, Pulsar, has a lovely throbbing distorted bassline, highlighted by a drop out twice, and some beautifully FX laden guitars. Erol Alkan's production gives everything a hard shine. Good stuff.
Friday, 3 November 2017
I like this, yet another new thing for autumn. Steve Mason and Martin Duffy (Primal Scream's keyboard man) have joined together as Alien Stadium and have a four track e.p. out in December called Livin' In Elizabethan Times (including a song remixed by Brendan Lynch, who always hands in interesting work). Steve Mason has one of the most recognisable voices in modern music, married here to a memorable riff and a general sense of expansion and wonder.
Thursday, 2 November 2017
The Orb's 1997 single Toxygene is a blast of uptempo brilliance, almost a pop song, and their biggest hit (number 4). It began life as a remix of a Jean Michel Jarre track, Oxygene-8. Jarre didn't like it and dumped it. Further pissing Jarre off, The Orb released it themselves as a single, adding insult to injury by claiming that 'the French are always 5 years behind anyway'.
This version starts with ambient noise, voices and found sounds before passing traffic and the sample 'now wait a minute' bring it to life.
Across 2 cd singles and a 12" there were a myriad of remixes, including ones from Thomas Fehlmann, Steve Hillage, Fila Brazillia, Way Out West and Kris Needs. This is the longer of the two Kris Needs versions. Unapologetic, pumping techno- it may not get replayed too many times.
Toxygene (Kris Needs Up For A Fortnight Remix)
The Top Of The Pops appearance is a another occasion where, like the famous Blue Room 3D chess game, The Orb took a different approach, this time spinning around on the waltzers in silver spacesuits while fiddling with keyboards and computers...
Wednesday, 1 November 2017
It might be early November with the darkness consuming us at teatime but we can still, with the power of music, conjure up the heady days of summer, the warmth and the sunsets. In July Nancy Noise's Azizi's Dance was remixed twice by Andrew Weatherall. Tucked away on the 12" single was this masterful piece of Balearica, remixed by downtempo duo Leo Mas and Fabrice. Joyful, slinky and all about the groove. It sounds like the smell of sunkissed skin.