Unauthorised item in the bagging area

Wednesday 31 January 2024


I hope like me you're enjoying the weekly chronological trawl through through the complete singles back catalogue of The Wedding Present over at The Vinyl Villain, an indie goldmine each Sunday courtesy of JC. A couple of Sundays ago JC reached the 1990s, the group's move to a major label and the beginning of their recording relationship with Steve Albini. JC wrote about The Wedding Present's twelfth single, a three song 12" single titled 3 Songs, led by the A-side Corduroy and coupled with a pair of B-sides, Crawl and a cover of Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile). 

Last weekend I found myself in a second record shop and while rifling through the 12" section, nestled among a very random selection of records, I found the 3 Songs 12". I didn't buy it back in 1990, having drifted out of Gedge world after Bizarro (I loved George Best and Tommy, the Nobody's Twisting Your Arm and Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now singles and then followed them to RCA with Kennedy and Brassneck but there were a lot of records competing for my student grant in 1990 and something had to give). I have done some catching up since but my Wedding Present collection is by no means complete. 

Until I read JC's post the weekend before I'd never heard Crawl, a song that had been floating around for the intervening thirty four years unheard. I was familiar with the Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel cover but not Crawl. At his post JC said that many Wedding Present fans have Crawl high up on their lists of all time favourite songs and the comment section confirmed this. 


Crawl is wonderful, acoustic and electric guitars crashing in, Gedge in growly form and the band building as the song goes on, Keith's bass grinding and pushing, drums thumping and the guitars piling up before everything breaks apart at the end. Having heard and loved the song via JC's post, picking up the 12" for £4.00 was not a difficult decision to make, so thirty four years after first seeing the 12" in the racks it now resides in my record collection. 

Tuesday 30 January 2024

An Alternate History Of The Stone Roses

Last weekend I heard the second song by the pairing up of John Squire and Liam Gallagher, a song called Mars To Liverpool. I heard the first, Just Another Rainbow, a couple of weeks previously. They both sound like I thought they would. 

While out riding my bike on Sunday morning, having just heard Mars To Liverpool before leaving the house, I started thinking about The Second Coming, the second Stone Roses album, the much delayed and highly anticipated follow up to the band's debut five years earlier. I've changed my position on The Second Coming several times and currently think of it as a handful of good songs surrounded by a lot of sub par filler. Tensions that developed during the recording of it broke the band apart, Reni leaving in 1995 and Squire in '96. They stopped talking, rarely in the same room at the same time, four men on four different drugs with no one to tell them how to fix it. I wrote a post here many years ago where I opined that, rather than going too far with The Second Coming, actually they didn't go far enough- they should have created a full on psychedelic rock experience, handed all the tapes over to Future Sound Of London or The Orb and told them to pull it into one seamless piece of music, forty minutes long, the promise of the first few minutes of Breaking Into Heaven (burbling ambient field recordings, fragments of guitar squiggles and studio experiments with Reni's percussion coming in before it breaks into the guitar heroics of the song) turned into the full album, the best bits of the album mixed together in a sonic Stone Roses stew. I still think that could work. But while riding my bike through the lanes of Cheshire I began imaging an alternative history of The Stone Roses, one where they didn't blow it but actually followed through from the high watermark of 1989/90...

... a few weeks after the Spike Island and Glasgow Green gigs in the summer of 1990 Ian, John, Mani and Reni meet and sack manager Gareth Evans. They confront record label Silvertone about the highly restrictive contract they signed a few years earlier. Silvertone boss Andrew Lauder meets his lawyers who advise him the contract is a restriction of trade and very harsh, that a judge will find for the band and he'd be better to cut his losses now. The band settle quickly and start looking for a new label. US giant Geffen have promised millions but wiser heads around the band prevail. 'Forget the money lads', you' ll make money anyway, go for the songs, make the records', friends tell them and for once this most strong-headed and willful of groups agrees. Creation are interested but the band meet Jeff Barrett from Heavenly and like his talk, the promise of complete control and the young Heavenly label's outlook. A few months later The Roses are in the studio and in early 1991 release a 12" single, Ten Storey Love Song, the chiming guitars harking back to the debut but with a more muscular bass and drums backing. The 12" rides high in the chart and a short UK tour in spring '91 sees the group rapturously received by their fans. 

By now the weight of recording a second album weighs heavily on them but the recent run of singles- Fool's Gold/ What The World Is Waiting For, One Love and Ten Storey Love Song- shows them a different way to work. 'We're gonna release some singles and EPs', Ian tells the NME, 'one after the other'. Autumn 1991 sees them record another EP, John's predilection for heavy Led Zeppelin style guitars and riffs all over the tapes and songs. Heavenly link them up with Andrew Weatherall and in 1992 an EP of Weatherall produced songs, the Led Zep riffing underplayed now, plus a remix hits the shelves, the chiming 60s psychedelia of the first album now expanded by Andrew's singular remix vision of the early 90s. 

Following the success of the EP the band are tight, spending time with each other and enjoying each other's company. Creative juices flow, Ian and John writing together daily. They meet Brendan Lynch, then recording with the about to be reborn Paul Weller and he produces several songs, three of which come out as a 12" in '93. They have side stepped the nascent Britpop stirrings of Blur, Oasis and Suede and now look to expand in other directions, the less tribal, more genre hopping world of the mid 90s pulling them in other musical directions. Ian eases up on the weed, John eases up on stronger stuff, clarity prevails. Hit and run recording sessions, working quickly with different producers is working. They stop overthinking and start enjoying it. A session with Goldie takes Reni's drums to completely new spaces. Heavenly's connections with The Chemical Brothers opens doors and minds and the band spend several weeks in the studio, Ed and Tom flitting between their own sessions and those with The Roses. A stockpile of songs is built up, a four track Chemical Roses EP seeing the light of day in summer 1995, a few weeks before The Chemical Brothers' Exit Planet Dust comes out. Blur and Oasis argue about the number one slot with two average songs, but The Roses are streets ahead, making mid 90s dance/ guitar crossover psychedelia, pushing boundaries as they once did with Fool's Gold. They still miss out on headlining Glastonbury, John breaking his collarbone, cutting short an otherwise successful tour of the US. An invitation to headline Reading the following year is turned down- the group have reverted to their stance of only playing shows on their own terms. 'We don't want to be part of somebody's else's gig', John says, the truculent interview technique of 1989 resurfacing. Instead they do a tour of seaside towns, fifteen dates in the summer of '96, starting in Bridlington, then heading down the east coast and round the south coast, several dates in Wales, and then Blackpool, Southport and Morecambe, ending in Barrow. 

In autumn 1996 they spend a few weeks in the studio with Portishead's Geoff Barrow and while not much is achieved two new songs are finished, one a dusty, cinematic trip hop groove, Reni and Mani looped by Barrow. The process of write, record and release 12"s and EPs works, the pressure of recording an album lifted and the band free to follow their noses. In 1997 Steve Hillage produces several sessions and though only a few songs are released everyone enjoys the sessions and the liquid, fluid but focussed psychedelia is well received. Several more songs sit in the vaults. 

In 1998, they falter but pick up with a tour of Europe and then record an EPs worth of songs with Mick Jones (The Clash/ BAD), Mick encouraging them to play facing each other, bashing out several songs of loose, ramshackle but melodic guitar pop. John declares that no more than two guitars are on any of the songs, hardly any overdubs and most of the songs sound like the work of a single guitar player. He switches from Les Paul to Telecaster and the thinner sound suits him and the new tunes. Mani helps Primal Scream out with some bass for their Vanishing Point album. In return Martin Duffy plays piano and keys with the Roses and another set of songs are recorded. 

As the millennium approaches the group see what they've achieved and eye the new century with a feeling of ten years of success behind them. They record some more songs, the influence of The Beta Band showing, Ian and John and Ian and Reni's occasional combustible disagreements quickly solved by Heavenly's laid back approach to managing the group. Mani and Reni find new inspiration in Neu! and Can and the band hit the studio again, Michael Rother (once a resident of Wilmslow so no stranger to north west England) at the controls. The Roses go kosmische, John playing in straight lines rather than blues, Reni in the motorik groove, his shoulders rolling as he plays.  

As New Year's Eve approaches plans are afoot and on NYE 1999 drinkers at Chorlton Irish Club are bemused when a truck pulls up in the afternoon and three men begin hauling gear in. The Stone Roses turn up and begin playing at 8pm, opening with I Wanna Be Adored and then flitting between the songs from the debut album and the dozen single and EP releases since summer 1990. They finish at 9.30pm by which time word has spread and fans are arriving. Packing up quickly they head to Sale and set the gear up again in the scout hut at Raglan Road, the venue where John and Ian first played together as The Patrol in 1980. Simon Wolstencroft is there, manning the door with Cressa. Fans arrive, first come first served, about one hundred packed into the scout hut, sweat already dripping from the walls and ceiling. At 10.30 the band appear and begin to play, shimmering dance rock, motorik grooves, light headed psychedelia, backwards songs, and chorus heavy guitar pop. They finish with a cover of White Riot, John's guitar squealing its last as the clock strikes midnight. 

They release their second album the next day. In typically Roses style they mess it up- it's New Year's Day in the year 2000, no record shops are open. When fans finally get the album (unburdened by a heavy and ludicrous name like The Second Coming, it is titled Angry Young Teddy Bears) they find it is a triple disc record. Inside the gatefold is a piece of paper announcing the end of the group. They have nothing more to do. The album contains some of the songs released over the previous ten years and many unreleased from the various sessions, songs recorded with and produced by The Chemical Brothers, Brendan Lynch, Geoff Barrow, Mick Jones, one from a session with Lee Scratch Perry that no one can remember much about, two with Jagz Kooner, several with Steve Hillage and one ten minute epic with Michael Rother. The third disc contains a previously unreleased Weatherall remix from 1991, a Sabres Of Paradise remix from 1996, and a dubby, horn- led Justin Robertson remix. On the final side of the album is a twenty three minute track, the fruits of two different sessions joined together by John Leckie, the first ten minutes the result of a collaboration with Bjork and Graham Massey, John's guitar and Mani's bass and Reni's drums locked in a vaguely 808 style groove, while Ian and Bjork sing a duet. In the second half of the song, Jah Wobble's bass appears and Mani and Wobble trade rubbery basslines, the drums and FX pedals spiraling around, while Ian whispers sweet nothings about space exploration, conquistadors and new centuries. Sinead O'Connor is on backing vocals. The fade out is a long languid groove that could happily go on forever.

A few weeks after the split there are rumours of a series of dates in Scandinavia but nothing happens. All four men are seen together socially, friends still and happy to leave the music industry behind, having achieved what they set out to- play gigs, make records, look good, give journalists a tough time in interviews, do it on their own terms. After all of that, from the halcyon days of 1989 when they broke through, and their constant desire to keep reinventing their sound through to 1999, there's nothing left to do, nowhere left to go-  they've done it all. 

Breaking Into Heaven

Monday 29 January 2024

Monday's Long Song

Today's long song- less a song maybe, more a recording of ambient sound and noise- is twenty five minutes long and comes from the imaginations of Anatomy Of The Heads, three sound manipulators/ musicians/ conjurors who go under the names of Michael van Gore (Tiger Mountain Lord), J Heydenritch (The Essence Of  Forest Dweller & Gentleman) and F.I.S.H. (The Buddha Of Infinite Compassion) and as far as I can tell are based in Indoneisa and put out their music through a German label. Their newest piece of work is an EP of dark ambient/ dungeon synth called The Unknowable And Incomparable World which contains within it this opus, Behold The Serpent In The Sky

Waves of oscillations, synths wobbling and squealing, feedback, drones, the sound of sound, the noise of noise. It's an entrancing and epic collage. They claim that this composition serves as 'mystical proof of the existence of divine integers... an advancement in sacred geometry'. You can buy Behold The Serpent In The Sky at Bandcamp

While writing this and listening to the twenty five minute track above I remembered that Anatomy Of The Heads released an album last year, In The Realm Of Allied Barbarians And Tributary Lords, nine much shorter slices of ambient/ drone/ noise. Try this one which has chanting guaranteed to keep you feeling slightly on edge. 

A Procession Through The Hall Of Whirling Knives

Sunday 28 January 2024

Forty Minutes Of Mick Head

Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band have a new single out this week, Shirl's Ghost (on Wednesday) with a new album to follow. The perfect time to revisit Mick's back catalogue, one stuffed full of some of the best songs of the 90s and 2000s. I don't listen to a huge amount of guitar based songs any more but always make an exception for Mick. I meant to include some of the songs from 1998's The Magical World Of The Strands, Forever Changes transplanted to late 90s Liverpool, but couldn't find my CD copy, something that concerns me a little. Instead there are songs here from Shack, the group he formed with his brother John, and from various Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band releases, any and all of which you should own. Mick Head is one of the greats, barely known about, still playing small venues (all the better to see him in) and about to put out one of 2024's best albums no doubt. 

Forty Minutes Of Mick Head

  • I Know You Well (Extended Mix)
  • Undecided
  • Velvets In The Dark
  • Picasso
  • Josephine
  • Lucinda Byre
  • The Ten
  • Tie Me Down
  • Comedy (Radio Edit)

I Know You Well was a standalone single in 1990, the chiming guitars, backwards effects and Beatles in '66/ Revolver bassline coupled with 1990 drums sounding still very fresh all these years later. 

Undecided is from the legendary Waterpistol album, Shack's 1991 which went unreleased until 1995. Bad luck and disaster beset the album- the studio containing the master tapes burnt down, Shack broke up, Mick developed a serious drug habit- but when it saw the light of day it was widely praised but rarely heard. By '95 and the resurgence of 60s guitar rock these songs should have topped charts. Shack didn't manage to get it back together until 1999 and their HMS Fable album. 

Velvets In The Dark was a 2014 single, Michael Head and The Red Elastic Band, a 7" on Violette Records. Mick wrote the song after hearing of Lou Reed's death. The blend of Mick's voice, the acoustic guitars and trumpet are irresistible, with Mick singing, 'you found me in the park/ listening to The Velvets in the dark'.

Picasso and Josephine are from 2017's Adios Senor Pussycat, scouse cosmic folk, an album that is pure brilliance from start to finish. I could have included any of the songs from it here- warm, wise, melancholic, melodic, confessional and storytelling, human and emotional. It's got everything. My favourite Mick Head album. 'It's not like it in the movies/ There may be police involved', Mick sings on Picasso

Lucinda Byre was song from a 2014 EP titled Artorius Revisited, a song that starts out in a cafe with Mick taking acid and then walking up Liverpool's Bold Street and trying to see if he can get to the top. Lucinda Byre was a ladies clothes boutique on that street which opened in the mid 60s and survived through until the 80s. The song is a melancholic wonder, all violin and strummed guitar and acres of reverb.

The Ten is from 2022's Dear Scott, a record beautifully produced by Bill Ryder- Jones in West Kirby on the Wirral Peninsula. The Ten tells of some of the places to be found in Liverpool L10, while sounding like Love updated for 2022.   

Tie Me Down was the opening song on Shack's 2006 album On The Corner Of Miles And Gil, Mick's love of West Coast 60s folk rock, Love and The Byrds, evident throughout. Tie Me Down starts out with a fanfare of horns and then lyrically dives into the sweetly sung world of Louise and her love of bondage. 

Comedy was on Shack's 1999 H.M.S. Fable, an album packed with songs that saw Mick christened 'the UK's greatest songwriter' by the NME. The album is unflinching lyrically, desolate songs about trying to score heroin on the streets of Liverpool's Kensington, but has some uplifting moments too, not least on Comedy, a heartfelt and rousing song that jangles and soars, guitar lines peeling off like bells and Mick singing one of those hard- won wisdom lyrics he's so good at, a voice that sounds like it's got a mouthful of the Mersey in it, 'when you cry it pulls me through', he sings as the strings swirl around. 

Saturday 27 January 2024

Saturday Sessions


David Holmes returned to NTS this week and delivered a particularly fine edition of God's Waiting Room. Even by his own high standards this one rocks, musically and politically. Interspersed with speeches and broadcasts concerning the bombing of civilians in Gaza and humanitarian calls for a ceasefire, David plays two hours of superbly selected music, including Mokadelic, Valley of The Sun, Khidja, Miles Davis, Szun Waves, Imelda May, Max Roach and the words of Norman Finkelstein, Angela Davis and John Pilger among others. There is spiritual and cosmic jazz aplenty with discourse on the state of the world, politics, genocide and some righteous ire- a two hour companion to Blind On A Galloping Horse. Listen at Mixcloud

David's 1998 Essential Mix was a double CD/ end of the century mixtape that provided a heady stew of hip hop, jazz, rock, soul, psychedelia and whatever else he fancied. It was the first place many people happened upon Marlena Shaw's 1969 song California Soul for the first time, a three minute blast of 60s soul, bathed in a sunshine state glow and made for radio. Written by Ashford and Simpson, Marlena recorded it for her album The Spice Of Life. Marlena died last Friday aged 81, widely sampled and much loved. 

RIP Marlena Shaw.

California Soul

Close to home but in a similar ballpark is this radio show from Sean Crossey, The Takeover. Sean has been a Manchester face for over two decades, regularly stepping up to play records on the radio and at gigs. The latest edition of The Takeover is at Reform Radio, Sean's bag overflowing with soul, Balearica, funk and hip hop, all played on vinyl. 

I've been meaning to post a link to the long running Balearic Sessions radio show for ages, a show run by Denis Heaney and a one stop shop for all things Balearic. This one went out on New Year's Eve, a date that seems a long time ago now. Two hours of laid back sounds here

Friday 26 January 2024

Friday Under The Mirror Ball

Two of the record labels I have trusted most in recent years are Tici Taci and Mighty Force. Prolific, run by people that care and are genuinely enthusiastic about new music and putting out releases that are always worth listening to. Here's one from each label here, one from the end of last year and one from the start of this one.

Mighty Force operates out of Exeter, the label that first brought Aphex Twin to the world's attention back in 1990, had a hiatus after 1999 and was then brought back to life by owner Mark Darby in summer 2019. Mark ran Mighty Force as a record shop and label in Exeter and then out of London- he's a veteran of the punk, free party and warehouse scenes and knows his stuff. Since Mighty Force's rebirth he's has released a slew of music- acid, techno, acid- techno, ambient, experimental and electronic- from Boxheater Jackson, Long Range Desert Group, Nylon Corners, KAMS, Golden Donna, Yorkshire Machines, AP Organism and David Harrow among others. The most recent release, out at the end of November last year and somehow slipping through my net was an album titled Leaves From The Brain by WRNR. Nine tracks and three remixes, all very much in the acid and techno area, utterly absorbing, gripping music that works equally well on headphones, loud in the car or at home. I imagine other listening scenarios work well too. It sucks you in, gradually. Opening tracks Behind The Black Trees and Came In From The City are slow paced, moody ambience and washes of synth, drums and acid synth lines eventually pushing their way in.   

It ramps up though, the tempos increasing and the music moving from sofa to dancefloor. By track four, Be There, the drums are summoning and the acidic squiggles conjuring up lights and smoke and mirror balls. 

Remember The Sun aptly lets the light in, warmer and lighter, the rhythms picking up again and an urgent bassline. Blink is a massive great big piece of acid- techno, everything firing off all over the place. Leaves From The Brain is available to listen and buy at Mighty Force, and highly recommended if you want something that'll fry your synapses a little and/ or wake the neighbours.

Tici Taci has been running now since 2013, and owner Duncan Grey celebrated last year with four compilation releases, each titled Decade, pulling together the cream of releases from his label's back catalogue- The Long Champs, Sons Of Slough, Uj Pa Gaz, Martin Eve, Jack Butters, Boy Division, Tronik Youth, Duncan himself, Fjordfunk, Mr BC and many others. Duncan himself says much electronic/ dance music is by nature ephemeral but over a ten year period he's put out music that has proved itself to be anything but. Tici Taci deals in chuggy, electronic grooves, dub- disco, house, disco, slo mo machine music with a human soul. 

The first Tici Taci release of 2024 is a two track single by sLEdger called Popper, out today. Popper rides in on brightly coloured, disco ball synths and  large, throbbing bassline that demands your attention. It comes paired with a second version, the Guitar Mix, which adds some echo, a spaced out vocal floating around, a lovely Bernard Sumner- esque guitar part and the sensation of taking off, travelling upwards and achieving orbit. Upbeat, astral, grooves, midtempo music for dancing to in communal spaces. There's a clip of Popper here and when it goes up at Youtube and Bandcamp I'll insert the links here. 

There's a fifty minute mix by sLEdger at Soundcloud that you might enjoy, a seamless mix of his own music, but laced here and there with some Simple Minds and a bit of Aphex Twin, some wonderful New Order gone to ALFOS grooves, and ending with a very far from home edit of Well I Wonder by The Smiths. Listen here

Thursday 25 January 2024

He's In The Back Seat

As well as the discovery last week of a pile of CD singles from the early 2000s (of which I've a few more to post at some point) I found a bigger pile of freebie CDs, the ones that come with monthly music magazines*. One of them was a CD promising 15 Indie Classics From The 1980s and it did exactly what it said it would- not a bad or even average song to be found. The Wedding Present, Bodines, The Sugarcubes, The Fall, The Monochrome Set, Shop Assistants, The Pastels, The Brilliant Corners, Red Guitars, The Three Johns, Bradford, The June Brides, The Loft, The Waltones. A very enjoyable way to spend an hour while peeling apples and cooking chicken. This one jumped out at me, Death Of The European by The Three Johns, a song I'm sure I've heard before but not sure I've ever really appreciated before.

Death Of The European (12" Mix)

It kicks off with an intense, grinding, industrial intro followed by a mid 80s, post- punk/ indie rock groove, a perfect slice of 1985 independent dance rock with lyrics referencing Checkpoint Charlie, a dead beat Walkman, American Forces Radio, Potsdam and other Cold War concerns, eventually finishing with a burst of sampled radio fading out with a voice stuttering, 'whom I working, whom I working, whom I working for this time?'

Sadly, I then noticed when writing this post that vocalist John Hyatt, whose vocal is so central to this song, died at the start of December 2023, head and neck cancer taking him. The other two Johns were guitarist Jon Langford (also of The Mekons) and bassist Phillip 'John' Brennan.They formed the band in Leeds back in 1981, 'a group of socialists who are in a band', with gigs and records that criticised the royal wedding, apartheid in South Africa, and Thatcher and her favourite admen Saatchi and Saatchi. The Three Johns split in 1988, reformed in 1990 and then again in 2012, playing gigs intermittently up to 2017 including a few in Manchester. I'm sorry I missed them now. 

RIP John Hyatt. 

* There's an ethical dilemma with free CDs- a few are worth keeping because they're great compilations and selections from start to finish but many I keep because they've got a handful of good songs on them (and in some cases songs I don't have elsewhere). The option to rip them to a hard drive and then get rid of them is always there but brings three problems. 1) Hard drives fail so they'll also have to be backed up somewhere  and it all becomes a big faff *makes mental note to back music files up from PC asap*. 2) Throwing them away just contributes to the excess of plastic in landfill sites, even if I remove the cardboard sleeves to recycle. 3) Donating them to charity shops will surely just contribute to the landfill problem sooner or later. Many charity shops don't seem to want CDs anymore and freebie ones from ten years ago will inevitably leave the British Heart Foundation for the tip at some point. 

Wednesday 24 January 2024

A Love International

The start of 2024 seems to have been a goldmine for new music already and we're less than four weeks into the year. In the middle of last week Houston, Texas three piece Khruangbin released a new song, A Love International, a blissed out five minute glide by, an instrumental sitting in some sun drenched sweet spot between a modernist, psychedelic Balearica and exotic, wiggy global soul. The guitar line and tone, always circling around, climbing and falling as the bass pumps away underneath, is a joy. 

A Love International is from their fourth album, A La Sala, out in April. I haven't gone very deep with Khruangbin, their three previous albums passing me by- the name was always floating around my periphery and I came across them on the Ron Trent What Do The Stars Say? album in 2022 and a Don Letts' Late Night Tales compilation from the same year. Don Letts offered up this marvellous dub of Khruangbin's Dern Kala. 

Dern Kala (Khruangbin Dub Mix)

Now I have four Khruangbin albums, three remix albums and a bunch of EPs to explore. Which is a good thing and yet, also costly. Sigh. 

Tuesday 23 January 2024

All Comes Down To This

A Certain Ratio released a new song last week, a two and a half minute burst of energy called All Comes Down To This. An album of the same name follows in April. On All Comes Down To This ACR recorded as the core trip of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Don Johnson and hooked up with Dan Carey as producer, a person with a reputation for stripping away and honing in.

By reducing themselves to the trio that first came together in Manchester in 1979 they have distilled their sound down to its core, the rubber basslines and drums leading the way, funk and post- punk rhythms reworked and reimagined for 2024. Martin's guitar slides around, all chords and FX pedals. Synths and electronics burst in in the middle with Jez's voice very much at the centre of things. The band say that the album is in part as response to the madness of the world in recent years- this first song from it sounds like that, an urgent and necessary song from a group who keep on finding new ways to express themselves. 

Monday 22 January 2024

Monday's Long Song

Andy Bell played a run of live gigs in 2022 and 2023 as Andy Bell Space Station, Andy on guitar and synth, occasional vocals, and a pair of decks for drums and other parts, playing versions of his solo songs and GLOK tracks, in some cases extended out way beyond the recorded versions. For a while at his Bandcamp page there were a limited run of CDs with three hours worth of music from the gigs available and also a zine, again limited and now sold out, which came with a download code to get hold of these tracks. Taken together or in chunks they are a superb document and stand as an album in their right, Andy's guitar playing very much spinning out in the kosmische area, shades of Michael Rother and late 80s John Squire (the floaty, trippy Squire rather than the heavier, bluesy Squire of The Second Coming) but also very much Andy Bell. 

I could post any of the twenty two tracks, very calming and chilled and a perfect way to ease into a Monday in January. Many of them play out beyond the ten minute mark-  Pattern Recognition comes in two parts, both over ten minutes, opener Melting Hours is fourteen minutes long, a combined version of Pulsing and Dissident clocks in at sixteen minutes and there are two versions of Spiral Away, a song that hits me in all the emotional places, that together reach twenty minutes. This one is First Wave Of Love, nine minutes thirty eight seconds, an extended ultra- kosmische instrumental version of Andy's 2020 single Loves Comes In Waves. 

First Wave Of Love

Sunday 21 January 2024

Forty Minutes Of Fluke

From the moment I first heard the needle find the groove and the opening synth wobble of Fluke's Philly poured into the room, some time in spring 1991, I loved the sheer joy of the song- the 'put your hands up high' vocal line, the pump of the acid house drums and bass, the start of a new decade feel it provoked. Their albums from 1991, The Techno Rose Of Blighty and Out (In Essence) brought more of the same- house, synth- pop, downtempo, seamlessly brought together in a streamlined, mid tempo rush. Mike Tournier, Mike Bryant and Jon Fugler formed Fluke in the late 80s, and released five albums before calling time in 2003. Their early 90s records are as much a part of my record collection at that time as any others, the sound and feel of the early 90s wrapped up. 

Forty Minutes Of Fluke

  • The Bells (Mix 1)
  • Philly (Jamorphous Mix)
  • The Garden Of Blighty 
  • Slid (Hypogasmix)
  • Joni
  • Big Time Sensuality (The Moulimix)
  • Taxi

The Bells was a 1991 single, a track with three mixes (1, 2 and 3) and punningly titled 'The Peal Sessions', with a vocal conflating ecstasy and Jesus. 

Philly (Jamorphous) first came out in 1990, a 12" on Creation backed with two further mixes- Jameoba and Jamateur. It was then the opening track on Creation's Keeping The Faith compilation twelve track album released in spring 1991 that was as good record of the time as any other- alongside Philly were the likes of Sheer Taft's Cascades, Weatherall's remix of My Bloody Valentine, Hypnotone, Primal Scream, Love Corporation, J.B.C's cover of The Rolling Stones' We Love You and World Unite. 

The version of The Garden Of Blighty here is from Out (In Essence), a five track live album Fluke released in 1991, a gloriously uptempo document of their sound at the time.

The Hypogasmix of Slid, remixed by Tom Middleton of Global Communications, came out on the Absurd EP in 1997, the pick of four remixes and one which sounds as fresh today as it did in 1997. Slid was on their 1993 album Six Wheels On My Wagon, a typically optimistic blend of club rhythms and melody, songs and beats, sequenced so it started out poppy and full of hooks and gradually becoming more ambient and experimental. 

Joni samples Joni Mitchell and first saw the light of day on a self released white label in 1990. The B-side was Taxi (a nod to Joni and her Big Yellow Taxi). Joni was then included on The techno Rose Of Blighty album. Joni is very much a progressive house thumper.

Fluke remixed Bjork several times, two versions of Big Time Sensuality in 1993 and two of Violently Happy from '94. The two remixes of Big Time Sensuality are among my favourite records, part of the fabric of my life in 1993/ 1994. The shorter, slower Minimix is a stunner but the longer, faster Moulimix was the one required here. 

Saturday 20 January 2024

Saturday Sessions

I love graffiti on the back of toilet doors, a subculture and demi- world of its own, full of cliches, randomness, artistry and insults. This door is the back of the cubicle in the men's toilet in The Eagle Inn, Salford, and frankly, your guess is as good as mine. 

Annie Nightingale's recent passing has bought a flood of much deserved tributes to her long career as  a DJ, from the 60s to the 2020s, and her constant championing of new music, underground music and the good deeds she often did for people- 'pay it forward', she often seems to have said to people who asked how they could return the favour she had just done for them. 

Annie was a friend of Andrew Weatherall's from the early days. She was part of the Primal Scream team (her son Alex was their manager in the 90s) when Weatherall's remixes and production broke them through from indie also rans to acid house rock 'n' roll stars. Andrew often sat in for Annie on Radio 1, providing guest mixes and shows for her. This one is from December 2008, just as Andrew was returning to the fray after  a couple of quiet years, his remixing and production back at his very best and his DJ sets full of invention and cosmic dance music- only thirty minutes long and without a second wasted. Funky, vibrant, cosmic dub- disco. The link below takes you to it at Mixcloud. 

Andrew Weatherall Mix For Annie Nightingale at Radio One December 2008

  • Richard Gateaux - Runnin On Empty 
  • They Came From The Stars - Moon Song (Holy Ghost Remix) 
  • Richard Sen & Cazbee - AM:FM 
  • Vincent Markowski - Dirty Capsule 
  • Soft Rocks - Slowdown 
  • Intaferon - Baby Pain

There are a slew of other mixes Andrew did for Annie at The Flightpath Estate's Mixcloud, Two Lone Swordsmen mixes and solo ones. This one dates from February 2000, Andrew mixing live from Rotters Gold Club, an hour of very eclectic, library, exotica and post punk. 

Andrew Weatherall Live From Rotters Golf Club For Annie Nightingale February 2000

Friday 19 January 2024


Out today on Evil Plans Records is this six track EP from Man2.0, four new tracks and a pair of remixes, all dedicated to the art of acid bangers. Opening track Paperclip Theory opens with some intent, the hammer of a synth joined by the harder hammer of a kick drum and then a hi- hat. Various wigged out, synapse busting acid synth squiggles writhe around, everything streamlined and pointing in one direction. It's followed by Seraphim which doesn't let up and takes even fewer prisoners, bursts of siren- like bleeps and filters riding over four four drums. A robotic voice picks up, spelling things out. 

Seraphim is present in remixed form too, Blavatsky & Tolley on remix duties, a slightly less acidic , more electro- chug version, the robot voice pitched further up and sounding more unhinged than it did in the original. The Blavatsky & Tolley remix chugs on for seven and a half minutes without ever outstaying its welcome, synths and sequencers repeating their endless patterns. 

Blavatsky & Tolley, if you needed a reminder, remixed BTCop's Just A Disco at the tail end of 2022, a barnstorming, slow mo version of the original with a single vocal line, 'Just a fuckin' disco', inspired by an Andrew Weatherall interview where he pointed out that dancing in dark rooms to repetitive music with coloured lights and some was just that, but also so much more. 


The Seraphim EP continues with Vantablack, five minutes of acid wonkiness, and then You Turn To Stone, exhilarating raved up acid madness. The EP is completed by Ed Tomlinson's remix of Vantablack which lulls you into a false sense of security before everything loopy with wiggly synth lines, huge bass and cymbal crashes. An 808 acid squiggle and some laughter kicks in, more ascending synths, more cymbals, more drums, more laughter, more rave, more acid....

You can listen to and buy the whole thing here.

Thursday 18 January 2024


Four Tet released a new song/ single last week, four minutes of typically Four Tet sounds and rhythms titled Loved. On first listen it sounds like 'another Four Tet track' but with each play reveals more of itself, a track that goes from surface to depth. A echo- laden, shuffly drum break, washes of synth and some very lovely, reverbed piano. There's some Aphex Twin in the piano, some Brian Eno in the feel, some huge crashing sounds at one minute fifty and the ghost of a voice drops in. It builds, falls apart, the piano returns, all the while the drums shuffling on and on. The drawn out end section, piano and echo repeating for thirty seconds, is  beautiful too. It sound sold and very new, like it's been around forever and also one of the first jolts of 2024. There's an album to follow later on this year.

Four Tet has become one of my most played artists in the last few years, the 2017 album New Energy and 2015's Morning/Evening 12" being the starting points I think (in that order) with the 2019 singles Teenage Birdsong and Anna Painting both taking up lots of listening space. Last year he was fairly quiet in terms of releases (but not in terms of touring with an arena tour in the US alongside Fred Again and Skrillex and festival headlining slots). In 2022 he put out Mango Feedback, a dizzying piece of music, skippity drums and bouncing bass and stringed instrument/ synths that constantly delivered little surprises. In April 2023 he released Three Drums which quietly and insistently crept into my consciousness and embedded itself there, another Four Tet track that took on new depths the more you gave into it. 

Three Drums

Back in March 2020 Four Tet released his album Sixteen Oceans, a sixteen track, hour long record that pulled everything he's brilliant at into one place, downtempo drums, chirruping synth melodies, echoes of techno and folk, ear pricking samples, the voice of Ellie Goulding, some of the Indian influences of his childhood and parents and dawn chorus ambient tracks. If you bought it on vinyl, side four was sixteen short locked groove tracks, perfect for playing around with and layering other things over the top of- if you have the equipment and skills.

The main thing about Sixteen Oceans for me though was its coinciding with the first lockdown. The album was released on 13th March 2020. We went into lockdown on the 17th March. The album arrived with me at some point that week, a week that was increasingly stressful and difficult. The last two weeks of March were the strangest time, as well adjusted to a very different life, not travelling to work, one way routes round supermarkets, an hour's exercise a day, confinement to reduce infection and protect the vulnerable (and we had a vulnerable person to protect in our house- Isaac's lack of immune system classing him in that group. Recently we found all the letters from the government advising him and others like him to stay at home and shield). The weather was dry and cool, dusk falling early until the clocks went back at the end of the month. Sixteen Oceans brings all these things back to me vividly, the sights and sounds and feel of those first few weeks of lockdown (Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini's Illusion Of Time, released 27th March 2020 does exactly the same). Funny how music can do that. I could pick any of the sixteen tracks but this one, Insect On Piha Beach, will do the job perfectly.  

Insect Near Piha Beach

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Skeleton Key

Another of the CD singles recently discovered in a neglected corner of my CD collection is one of the earliest releases by a bunch of teenagers from Wirral, The Coral. Skeleton Key came out in 2002, a four track EP with a couple of bonus features to attract the singles buyer- a sticker (still inside the case) and the video for the title track which you could watch if you had a computer in 2002 (I didn't). The band, six still very young men from Hoylake, had a basket full of cosmic scouse influences and soon they were exposed to manager Alan Wills' record collection, bringing music by Can, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and Kraftwerk into their earshot (Wills had formerly drummed for Shack). Skeleton Key, the EPs title track was considered a turning point for the band in songwriting terms, a breakthrough.

Nothing really prepares you for putting the Skeleton Key CD into the CD player and clicking play. The music is a ramshackle burst of electric guitar, rapid fire rhythms and bawled vocals, sea shanty and pirate lyrics, shipwrecks and rocks. 'Will I ever return? Will I ever get back?', James Skelly asks as the guitars, somewhere between The 13th Floor Elevators and early Pink Floyd, fire off.  There's a slow down with a xylophone part and then some manic shouting and playing, followed by the weird ending, voices and a completely different song. Most of the band were only 19 or 20 at this point, guitarist Bill Ryder- Jones even younger. This was not the sort of music most late teenagers would be making in the early 21st century. Everyone else was into The Strokes. The Coral were taking a hectic neo- psychedelic/ folk music/ spaghetti Western hybrid into the world. 

Skeleton Key

Dressed Like A Cow is no less unhinged, a tad more conventional maybe, with some 60s songwriting at its centre. 'Well I went to a movie with a girl last night/ Dressed like a cow but she looked so fine', are the opening lines. Meanwhile the song lurches around with strange time signature changes, abrupt turns and notes screaming from the top of the fretboard and from the keys. It ends in an explosion. 

Dressed Like A Cow

Things calm down on song three, Darkness, which starts out with harmonica and sweet singing, echoes of Dylan in 1968, and some lovely guitar playing. 


Sheriff John Brown closes the EP, a six minute Americana/ blues via the Wirral peninsula epic, the guitars, organ and voice sounding like The Animals (not a popular or even niche influence in 2002). The lyrics tell a tale of authority, corruption and injustice. Sheriff John Brown, song four on a four song EP, struck a chord with fans and the band played it often live thereafter. 

Sheriff John Brown

Of these four songs Skeleton Key turned up on their debut album, released in July 2002 and produced by Ian Broudie. My CD single has not just the sticker still inside it but the postcard to send off to an address in Leamington Spa to get news and info about the band. I'm guessing its a bit late to do that now. I still can't decide where to put the sticker either. 

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Son Of Sam

I found a handful of CD singles recently, a bunch of releases from the early 2000s, nearly a quarter of a century ago now. CD singles were generally good value for money, often three or four songs/ tracks and retailing at under £3.00, sometimes under £2.00. Unlike a lot of vinyl, most have actually depreciated over the intervening years and are now listed on Discogs for pennies (or a few pounds by chancers on ebay). This one came out of the pile, a three song single by Elliott Smith released in 2000, taken from his album Figure 8. I haven't posted anything by Elliott Smith previously, something that surprises me a little- however I'm not sure that this is his best work, the XO and Either/ Or albums being the ones I tended to play back in the 90s. Son Of Sam was the second single from Figure 8, his fifth album and the last studio album released during his lifetime. 

Son Of Sam

According to Smith the song isn't about the serial killer of the same name but about creativity and destruction, two topics he was well qualified to write about. These were the pair of B-sides/ extra songs...

A Living Will

Figure 8

Elliott plays everything on these recordings, guitar, piano, organ, bass and drums as well as singing. Figure 8 is a cover of a song by jazz musician Bob Dorough and gave Elliott's album its name despite not appearing on it. The song is just Elliott's voice and some organ, over and done with in under two minutes. 

Elliott's breakthrough albums in the mid to late 90s, especially XO and Either/ Or, made him famous and brought him some rewards including an Oscar nomination but he was a troubled soul and unsuited to fame. He had issues with drink and drugs and mental health problems, plus a diagnosis of ADHD. He died in October 2003 aged 34 from two stab wounds to the chest, probably self inflicted. 

Alameda is from 1997's Either/ Or, a sparer sound than the songs from the Son Of Sam CD single above, just Elliott's acoustic guitar, multi- tracked vocals and some drums that sound like they're not an actual kit but some cardboard boxes in the corner of the room.


Monday 15 January 2024

Monday's Long Song

Mid- January; reasons to be optimistic. We are halfway what can be a long and miserable month (although having got through November and December, January has felt like a relief for me this year, a definite sense of stepping through a door and leaving the end of last year and all its anniversaries behind us). Christmas and New Year seem seem a distant memory. There are a couple of minutes of extra daylight every day. When I walked to the car park at work at four thirty last Friday it was still daylight, just about. There are some green daffodil shoots in the garden. In two weeks we'll be in February and spring will be on the horizon. 

Some positive music to celebrate with. This track, cosmic Scandi- house from Oslo, dates from 2017 and was released on Prins Thomas' Full Pupp label, a label he set up to focus solely on Norwegian talent. Laars, the artist behind this 12", is Lars Christian and this is seven minutes of delightful, happy/ sad cosmic Scandi- house. It kicks off with a chunky, chuggy rhythm, some big distorto synth bass and any number of twinkling melody lines dancing about on top, builds beautifully for several minutes, breaks down in the middle in a lovely way and then brings it all back, wiggy and insistent. Makes me think Oslo must be a great place for a party. 


Sunday 14 January 2024

Forty Minutes Of Pye Corner Audio

In my head I'd done a Pye Corner Audio Sunday mix quite recently. On checking, it turns out that that mix and post was in March 2022, nearly two years ago. Martyn Jenkins is pretty prolific, his monthly releases onto Bandcamp the tip of the iceberg. He recently re- released his 2015 album Prowler, seven slices of Pye Corner modular paranoia and dark radiophonic ambience. It felt like a Pye Corner Audio Mix Two was in order. Almost all of these tracks come from releases in the last two years, uploaded to Pye Corner Audio's Bandcamp page as free downloads/ pay what you like. It's a treasure trove of dark ambient, squiggly acid, subterranean techno, analogue rave and lovely, if sometimes unsettling drones. I wanted to include a pair of remixes, his remix of First, I Heard Colours by Principles Of Geometry from 2022 and his remix of Lack Of Sleep by Maps from last year but in the end neither really fitted in tone. Another Sunday, another mix. 

I try to keep these Sunday mixes to between thirty minutes and forty five minutes, partly for reasons of discipline (trying to limit yourself in terms of time or space is a good thing I think), partly because it's a good amount of time as a soundtrack to other activities- cooking tea or driving to work for instance- and partly I think because being brought up on home made cassette compilations, it's the same timing as one side of a c90. There's so much Pye Corner Audio material It would have been easy to spin this out for a couple of hours but I kept it just under forty five minutes. You can still download the first Pye Corner Audio mix which can go on side two of that tape. 

Forty Minutes Of Pye Corner Audio Two

  • Winter Drone For Christmas
  • Unmarked Reel Two, Track One
  • Rotational Squelch
  • Cabaret Sauvage
  • Stregan Acid
  • Skip Function
  • Dirty Window Of Opportunity
  • Acid Addendum
  • Seen From Above
  • Somewhere There's A Sunrise

Winter Drone For Christmas is exactly what it says, released in December 2023 and the kind of Christmas music I can get behind. Unnerving and soothing at the same time, modular synth drones becoming 

Unmarked Reel Two, Track One was one of two tracks given away as a free download in 2010, a series of drones and noises. It was paired with Transmission Six: Sunken Village. Track titles are a Pye Corner Audio speciality. 

Rotational Squelch kicks things up a gear, an acid banger from February 2021. 

Cabaret Sauvage came out in August 2023, music for a summer rave, one where there is precious little light and smoke fills every space around you. There's a funky guitar riff in there too that sends it in a My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts direction.

Stregan Acid was part of a four track EP titled Midnite Acid, out in April 2021. Hiss Wave is one of the labels attached to this release to which I'll add dark, kosmic acid. The squelched out bassline and hi hats are seriously deep and intense. See also last year's Mayday Acid which I meant to include here but didn't. 

Skip Function, from December 2021, opens with oscillating bleeps and some calming tones, slowing things down a notch in this mix. 

Dirty Window Of Opportunity dates from April 2022 and is a return to analogue acid dance, bouncing bassline, rattling electronic percussion, machine handclaps and a John Carpenter- esque topline. There's some daylight and sunshine poking through in this one. 

Acid Addendum came out on 1st December 2023, an advent treat, most unseasonal sounding and a blinding piece of music- crashing drums, 808 squiggles, hissing percussion and utterly danceable. 

Seen From Above was released in April 2023, another dark, rhythmic thumper. This one is late 80s/ early 90s acid but with some of that late 70s/ early 80s post- punk/ Throbbing Gristle feel. Smothered with lovely hiss too. 

Somewhere There's A Sunrise, a title with some optimism in it, came out in April 2020, a month into the first Covid lockdown with the comment from Martyn, 'Holding on for that sunrise...'. That whole period, lockdowns and later on tiers, the sudden and dramatic changes brought to everyone by the pandemic and (at that stage, late April 2020) with no end in sight, is a strange world to put yourself back into- it feels recent but remote too. Somewhere There's A Sunrise is the product of being confined to home for 23 hours a day, an optimistic piece of analogue electronic music, with a hint of Italian house in there somewhere. 

Saturday 13 January 2024

Saturday Sessions

Keeping up with all the music that is being released is a full time job, one I don't always have the time to devote to it. There are albums and releases from last year I still need to explore. All the while, more and more music comes forth via the magic of the internet with radio shows, sessions and mixes. This is a round up of some recent shows and mixes, some I've enjoyed in full and some I've only got partway through and will go back to. If you listen to all of these today, you'll finish sometime this evening, exhausted maybe but replenished. 

First up is Justin Robertson and his bi- monthly Temple Of Wonders. This episode is fresh off the press, broadcast three days ago on 10th January, a two hour jaunt through Justin's record box taking in a typically eclectic range of music- psychedelia, dub, ambient, global, setting out with Pilot Voyager and concluding two hours and thirty eight tracks later with Tim Hardin. Listen at Mixcloud

On New Year's Eve Sean Johnston stayed home and broadcast to those staying in and to those who'd bene out and came back to find Sean still at the decks, seven hours and forty five minutes of chuggy cosmic ALFOS tunes, starting out quite slow and trippy and getting increasingly propulsive and dancey. Excellence as standard. Listen here

Jesse Fahnestock and Emilia Harmony's music was a repeat attraction at this blog last year, their Electric Blue Vision EP, Jesse's 10:40 album, a slew of Jezebell tracks and various other releases, lighting up 2023. Jesse and Emilia sat in with Brighton's Balearic Ultras and Music For Dreams playing music and chatting, an hour of laid back discussion, and perfectly pitched and seamlessly sequenced music, telling the stories of what lies behind the Electric Blue Vision EP. Both Jesse and Emilia have great voices for radio- it's a lovely way to spend an hour. Listen to it here

Lastly on New Year's Day Nina Walsh appeared on the long running Sonic Treasures radio show, Brother Joseph's Glasgow based radio show that transmits via radio Magnetic, a trove of the leftfield and eclectic, ambient, electronic and psychedelic. Nina played a perfectly sequenced two hours of music, some unreleased tracks done with Andrew Weatherall, plenty of music from her Fireflies band (as heard on Killing Eve), some WRF and some unreleased Andrew Weatherall remixes of Fireflies. Find it at Soundcloud

While we're talking about radio, transmissions and new music, the death of legendary radio DJ Annie Nightingale was announced yesterday. Annie was BBC 1's first female DJ and a tireless and endlessly energetic advocate for new music, leftfield sounds and underground music, not least much of the music that has featured here over the last fourteen years. She died aged 83. RIP Annie. 

Friday 12 January 2024

Peace Sign

Some weeks in blogging things just come together nicely, in a way that wasn't planned but looks like it could have been. On Tuesday I wrote about Slowdive's 2023 album Everything Is Alive, an early 90s shoegaze band proving re- unions can be about new music not just the past (and making new music as god as or even better than the music they made first time around).  On Wednesday I posted Hardway Bros' cover of Smashing Pumpkins' 1979 and the ethereal remixes of the song by Andy Bell (as GLOK). Yesterday I got home to an email from Andy's other band Ride with details of a new album, Interplay, out in March and a new single, Peace Sign, out immediately.  

Peace Sign opens with a burst of feedback and some rapid fire drumming and then a wall of swirling guitars and a Prophet 5 synth. Andy says the song's lyrics were inspired by the free climber Marc- Andre Leclerc and the film The Alpinist, and the chorus, 'Give me a peace sing/ Throw your hands in the air/ Give me a peace sign/ Let me know you're there', is a lovely slice of optimism in a world that sometimes doesn't look like there's a great deal to be optimistic about. The drums keep hammering away, the bass thumps along, the guitars chime and burn, the words and harmonies flow forth, and it all sounds like Ride reborn again. 

Back in 1992 Ride released their second album, the follow up to their 1990 debut Nowhere, a record of shoegaze perfection. On Going Blank Again they took twin overdriven guitars, a wall of FX pedal noise, twin vocalist harmonies, a strong sense of melody and a powerful rhythm section and fused them all together in one package. Andy Bell once said he got the idea for what Ride should like when he was sitting at home listening to The Beatles while his mum was hoovering, that conjunction of melody and noise.  On Cool Your Boots they nailed everything together, a song that opens with  a line sampled from Withnail And I ('even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day') and then go all in, a descending chord sequence, blissed out vocals about having '50 states of mind', pummeling drums and fills from Loz and more guitars. The last three minutes are 90s guitars and drums heaven. 

Cool Your Boots

Thursday 11 January 2024

It's So Good

Timed (possibly) to coincide with my Xx mix last Sunday, Jamie Xx released a new track two days ago, a new song called It's So Good. The video is pleasingly cassette based, the clunk and click of the cassette being inserted and the tape deck being snapped shut an integral part of the track. The eagle eyed among you will not that It's So Good is tied into an advertising campaign by perfume people Channel which may cheapen it for you slightly. Maybe we're past that now. Are we? 

It's So Good builds nicely, a busy rhythm, hints at Jamie's steel drums and percussion and a voice repeating the title. At one minute thirty it breaks down briefly and then kicks back in, everything getting more layered and busier with house pianos working their way in, hypnotic synth parts and funky rhythm tracks continuing to burble away. It sounds like its meant to be part of something bigger, a performance, DJ set or album while also standing alone. AS the woman says, 'it's so good'. 

Two years ago after releasing his festival anthem Let's Do it Again Jamie DJed at Notting Hill carnival and released a song, Kill Dem, in conjunction with it. Kill Dem is definitely carnival inspired, a dancehall flavoured track with chopped up vocals, a Jamaica via London feel and skittering beats. The video puts the crowd and the dancers the centre of things. 

Wednesday 10 January 2024


There's a school of thought that Smashing Pumpkins were a difficult band to like/ love (although they obviously had their fans, they were massive in the mid 90s) but that they had one solid gold song- and that song is great because it sounds like New Order, chiming guitars, motorik drumming, foreground melodic bassline and coming of age lyrics. 


1979 came out in 1995 and sounds like Ceremony but if New Order had recorded it in 1987 rather than the wreckage of Joy Division in 1980. In an unexpected turn of events,  when New Order returned in 2001 with the album Get Ready, Billy Corgan turned up on vocals with Bernard on the song Turn My Way and played guitar with them as they toured that summer. In an interview from the time Stephen Morris was asked how it was going with Corgan on board. 'He's alright I suppose', Stephen replied to the journalist, which told its own story to this reader. 

In another unexpected turn of events Hardway Bros released two EPs on Monday, both out on Sean Johnston's Outre- Mer label, the first a four track EP titled My Friends and the second an EP of remixes. The My Friends EP covers the range of styles and has something for everyone: an eight minute Vietnam epic called Saigon, voices from Apocalypse Now!, congas from Sympathy For The Devil, synths from a Belgian New Beat basement; a fifteen minute wigged electronic trip called Hello My Friends; a hi hat and kick drum banger Functions For Machines; and a cover of 1979 with Duncan Gray on guitar and Sarah Rebecca on vocals, a smoothed out, gliding cover of Smashing Pumpkins with synths, guitars (courtesy of Duncan Gray) and pulsing drums. You can buy/ hear the My Friends EP here

The remixes EP sees a regular visitor to these pages, Andy Bell wearing his GLOK hat, bring his cosmische influences to 1979. There are two remixes, bookending the EP, the first a four minute reworking, the chords and synths filtered and chopped up. At the other end of the EP comes the second GLOK remix, the GLOK Remix Reprise, gentle, blissed out, guitar led remix, a little like Ride's Vapour Trail slowed down and played acoustically, with Sarah Rebecca's vocal shimmering on top, a very different reading of the song to Billy's mid- 90s rites of passage version. The first treat of 2024. 

In between Andy's pair of remixes are remixes by Warehouse Preservation Society, Djale and Tech Support which span chuggy dub, cosmic electronica and squiggly house. Get it here

Tuesday 9 January 2024


Slowdive's Everything Is Alive album was one of last year's best guitar albums, alongside Yo La Tengo's This Stupid World. Slowdive's return began in 2017 with a self titled album, their first since dissolving in the mid- 90s. Everything Is Alive builds on that album (which felt like a rebirth), the experiences of the band's members in the intervening years (sessions were begun, interrupted by Covid and then restarted, and two of the group lost parents during the recording) and the way that shoegaze has grown as a genre and is now a sound whose time has fully come, the music press criticisms of it from the early and mid- 90s, many of which were pretty rabid, gone in a wall of FX and guitar/ synth noise. 

The album opens with Shanty, the blurp of a synth, then layers of guitars and FX, all building and after a minute finally drums and propulsion. Rachel Goswell's voice appears through the sound, indistinct, a hint rather than a vocal. Neil Halstead's voice might be there too. The guitars push through, one chiming and the other strumming, textures as much as chords, but everything's a blur, it's all a bit like dusk in winter .


Monday 8 January 2024

Monday's Long Song

I had this song penciled in for today a week ago, nearly thirteen minutes of downtempo sounds from 1996, John Martyn remixed by Talvin Singh with Martyn's voice surrounded by electronics, synths, hand drums and a warm bath of FX. No wonder this was a sunset tune for Jose Padilla at the Cafe del Mar- and yet despite that it has a feel of winter about it too, the survival of the longest nights and darkest days. 

Sunshine's Better (Talvin Singh 12" Remix)

We went out on Saturday for a walk at Werneth Low, a hill near Stockport on the edge of the Peak District that overlooks Manchester. The view on a clear day is amazing, Manchester's new skyline clearly visible several miles away and beyond that the hills and towns north of the city. 

The day started very misty but when it cleared the skies were bright blue and although it was cold there was the faintest feel of sunshine, and as John Martyn puts it, 'sunshine's better, sunshine's better on the other side'. John may have meant it as a metaphor but when I sat down to write this post on Saturday evening it all seemed to come together nicely. 

Sunday 7 January 2024

Forty Minutes Of The Xx

Over the course of three Xx albums, a bunch of remixes and various solo releases The Xx defined some of what the 2010's would sound like, the three members conjuring up a minimalist and distinctive sound, a hint of indie- rock, reflective/ melancholic vocals by the front pair of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, and Jamie Xx's beats and laptop bringing in a sound from London's club scene and underground. I missed their debut album, the Mercury prize win and their media exposure putting me off (like the fool I can be sometimes about such things) and only really caught up with their second album and then especially Jamie Xx's solo album In Colour. Now, I find their music hugely affecting. Revisiting Jamie's Gil Scott Heron remix album recently sent hares running in my mind and hence today's mix. In the end, the real problem was choosing what to put in and what to leave out.

Forty Minutes Of The Xx

  • Gil Scott Heron and Jamie Xx: I'll Take Care Of You
  • Jamie Xx ft. Romy: Loud Places
  • Jamie Xx: All Under One Roof Raving
  • The Xx: Chained (John Talabot and Pional Blinded Remix)
  • The Xx: VCR
  • The Xx: VCR (Four Tet Remix)
  • Jamie Xx: Let's Do It Again
  • Jamie Xx: Gosh

In 2011 Jamie Xx remixed all of Gil Scott Heron's 2010 album, I'm New Here (it turned out to be Gil's final album). The new version, We're New Here, is full of Jamie's signature production techniques and is full of life and the joy of making sound. The album was Jamie's first full solo production, much of it created while on tour with The Xx. He said wanted it to sound like something you'd hear on pirate radio, 'a different genres... convoluted and mixed up'.  Post- dubstep apparently. 

Loud Places is the stand out from Jamie Xx's 2015 album In Colour, a record that was deservedly praised in the end of 2015 lists. This song, with Xx bandmate Romy on vocals, a song about memories,  connections, the solace found in crowds, intimacy, missing someone when they've gone, all those kinds of things. John Talabot's remix of Loud Places, the Higher Dub, is among my favourite records of the last ten years and that I didn't put it on this mix is a mystery to me too.

All Under One Roof Raving was released as a single in 2014, a celebration of nightclubs, music, scenes, youth culture, London and clothing. It samples crowd noises and voices from the 1999 film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, the list of brands at the end of the song 

John Talabot and Pionel's remix of Chained came out in 2013, the Spanish producers pushing the source track (from The Xx's 2012 album Coexist) into less minimal territories, the vocals from Romy and Oliver Sim ducking and diving around each other.

VCR was on The Xx's self titled debut album, released in 2010, which suddenly seems like a long time ago. The minimal sound, spacious production, woodblock percussion, single guitar line and melancholic twin vocals demonstrating what made their first album so good. 

The Four Tet remix of VCR is among Kieran Hebden's best work. Yep, that good. 

Let's Do It Again was the first new track from Jamie since 2020's I Don't Know, a 2022 track designed to sound irresistible in fields and festivals. This is the radio edit, a four minute condensed journey through peaks and troughs, samples and synth arpeggios and an anthemic vocal. It was at least partly a response to emerging from lockdown and being able to do things communally again. 

Gosh is the opening track on In Colour, a deep house/ future garage/ pirate radio single that leaps out of the speakers. 'Oh my gosh', the vocal sample exclaims, 'Oh my gosh/ Easy easy/ Hold it down, hold it down' and you know exactly what he means.