Monday, December 07, 2015

Top 20 LPs 2015 - Panic Radio List




1.       Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
The new king of alt.country? Former Drive By Trucker releases a LP that is full of great songs that much like the Courtney Barnett record spins the mundane into pure song writing gold. An emotional record that wears its hard won smarts front and centre. A joy to listen to.
2.       King Midas Sound/Fennesz – Edition 1
Dread and Jah, bass heavy KMS working with Austrian electronic artist Fennesz is a musical marriage made in some sort of smoke filled heaven. Like Massive Attack drowning in claustrophobic reverb and dub. Eerie, grainy, creeping and infectious.
3.       Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think Sometimes I Just Sit
Debut LP proper from Courtney Barnett after a series of great EPs. The ability to turn snapshots of the mundane (buying a house, the daily commute, driving) into a series of little musical epiphanies is amazing.
4.       Roots Manuva – Bleeds
The return of Roots Manuva. UK hip-hip/grime with the advantage of hard won experience, doubt, fear, religious rebirth not the usual subjects for grime. Dark, bruised and wonderful.
5.       Jam City –Dream A Garden
A cross pollination of club music signifiers and mid 80s dream pop indie.  Like a dubbed out Cocteau Twins. A rain streaked faded Polaroid of effected guitars, beats, floating vocals and a deep rooted sense of ennui.
6.       Darkstar – Foam Island
A huge shift for Darkstar from retro synth pop of their early releases to austerity electronica. The sound of social contract collapsing via interviews and electronic soundscapes. Calypso beats, dub, soft focus electronica. Protest music of a different hue.
7.       Torres –Sprinter
New York born living in Nashville her second LP with shades of early PJ Harvey (it’s produced by Rob Ellis). Despair, rage, loss. Brutally honest and hook heavy. From a whisper to a scream.
8.       Holly Herndon – Platform
Dense modern laptop electronica. The sound of modern technology, dance floor moves, digital sludge, post modernism and a haunting vocals. The sound of the Future?
9.       JLin – Black Ballet
A do love a bit of Footwork but most of that comes in single sized chunks. Jlin takes those frantic machine rhythms of footwork and she bends them into new shapes. Dam funky.
10.   Jenny Hval - Apocalypse Girl
Feminism, melody, electronics, noise, American cultural imperialism, gender politics. That makes it sound really dry but its rude, explicit, funny, quite “pop” and very catchy.
11.   Sherwood and Pinch – Late Night Endless
Old School dub master meets new school electronica. A beast of a record full of BASS, reverb and big dry echoes. Much more than the sum of its talented parts.
12.   Grasscut – Everyone Was A Bird
More organic less electronic than the first two LPs but still a delight. Fan submitted spoken word piece, nature based lyrical themes and soaring strings.
13.   Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space
Working with the British Film Institute PSB splice film and news clips with post rock and electronic backing. Funkier than it sounds on paper.
14.   Lonelady – Hinterland
This is like a lost factory record release. Shades of ACR, Section 25, and early New Order. Fragile guitar melodies, industrial murk, Brit funk but a modern twist in the production.
15.   Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
Fantastic return after 10 years away. Snaps, snarls, the guitars bite yet it is joyful at the same time. Knocks the New Order and Prodigy come backs out of ring with a series of beautiful jabs.
16.   The Unthanks – Mount The Air
Folk detour that was started when I picked up a copy of the first Unthanks LP second hand. A lovely mixture of dark folk themes and solid gold harmonies and melodies.
17.   The Band of Holy Joy – The Land of Holy Joy
One of my favourite bands of the late 1980s this is their 19th LP! Johnny Brown is a lyricist with a sharp eye for detail. Bittersweet stories of those living on the fringes of society set to a romantic spring laden ramshackle indie racket.
18.   Floating Points – Elaenia
Late period Talk Talk refracted through an electronic and post rock prism without the god fearing lyrics. Might be higher up the list if I had longer to listen to it.
19.   Romare – Projections
Smoky vocal samples, African drums, garage, house, jump cuts. A lovely collage of various dance forms into a fun, funky and clever record.
20.   Bill Ryder Jones – West Kirby County Primary
Former member of the Coral and Artic Monkeys tour guitarist BRJ’s solo LP is a bleak and beauty collection mainly recorded at home. Strong songs with clever little lyric touches, a fragile voice and a sense of loss. One to get lost in.


Monday, March 31, 2014

New Order - Drop the Guitar Live in Chile 2014



New Order have previewed their first new track since 2005's Waiting for the Siren's Call. Played live in Chile as part of Lollapalooza Chile on the 30th March 2014. The song is the first new material since Peter Hook left the band. Although Hooky is no longer a member the song has the familiar bass rumble, a spidery guitar part that is very mid period (circa 1985) New Order and a Barney vocal that is prime New Order. It sounds more like New Order than the recent Bad Luienent stuff although the only difference live is Stephen Morris. Sound like a return to form to my ears.



More information here:

Fact Magazine - http://www.factmag.com/2014/03/31/new-order-unveil-first-new-song-in-nine-years-listen-here/

Slicing Up Eyeballs - http://www.slicingupeyeballs.com/2014/03/31/new-order-new-song-drop-the-guitar-santiago-video/

Consequence of Sound - http://consequenceofsound.net/2014/03/watch-new-order-debuts-drop-the-guitar-their-first-new-song-in-nine-years/


The Redemption of Martin Hannett - Book and DVD Release


The genius of Martin Hannett (Joy Division, New Order, U2 and Happy Mondays producer) is too be celebrated with a new book and DVD film both released in April.

Hannett's story,he died of a heart attack in back in 1991 aged only 42, has gone mainly unrecorded despite the wealth of material produced on Factory Records.

Cerysmatic Factory who have seen the DVD outline it below:

featuring contributions from Tony Wilson Vini Reilly, Bruce Mitchell, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Tosh Ryan, Steve Hopkins (Invisible Girls), Mark Radcliffe, Dave Formula, Reni and Andy Couzens (Stone Roses) plus many othera.

This is no flash expensive BBC documentary, it's a gritty warts 'n' all tale of experimentation, laid bare with the minimum of trickery and a host of wide-eyed observers...."

http://news.cerysmaticfactory.info/2014/03/martin-hannett-he-wasnt-just-the-fifth-member-of-joy-division-dvd-documentary-review.html

You can order directly from here:

http://www.ozitmorpheusrecords.com/

This is great interview between Tony Wilson & Martin Hannett. .



The song being "produced" is Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls - The Visitor have a listen below. Listen to the snare drum!



There is also a sample from the video in the first two tracks from The Durutti Column's A Paean To Wilson.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wildest Woes - Sam Radcliff



This great little EP popped into my inbox a few weeks ago and I have been returning to for repeat listens. It was recorded in a bedroom in Berlin by Sam Radcliff and has shades of few cool things in its grainy mix.

The opening track reminds of James Blake and the club sounds of East India Youth. The title track Wildest Woes ripples like a lo-fi The XX and crackles like a male fronted Young Marble Giants. The whole EP is worth a listen and a few of your £'s to download. Hopefully someone will pick up the EP and give it a big promo push as it deserves to be heard by a bigger audience. One to listen out for in the future.

I can't get the player from Bandcamp to imbed so I will come back to it later if I have time.

Widest Woes EP - Sam Radcliff

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Actress - Welcome to the Headspace


There is a wonderful interview in the March edition of Wire Magazine with Actress (aka - Darren Cummingham ). It covers a fair amount of ground looking at his background in Wolverhampton, his promise as a football player that got cut short by injury and his move to London. Cunningham comes across as rather otherworldly, living in a kind of altered urban reality. He has interesting things to say on the nature of reality, space, music, how music can heal and attempting to get the sounds in his head out in musical form.

Under the Actress moniker he has released 4 LPs, Hazyville (2008), Splazsh (2010), RIP(2012) and his latest release Ghettoville (2014) on Ninja Tunes. Imagine the fractured musical sound of Burial refracted through a hazy mesh of broken speakers, weed smoke, field recordings and relentless rain. It sounds like the film Se7en looks, a noirish combination of grimey undercurrents and forward motion.

There is a small glimpse into the music making process for Actress and the analogue equipment, field recordings and overloading of circuits that are crucial to the weird, warped sound world that features on the Actress releases.

Below is an Actress track Grey Over Blue from his Ninja Tune 12"  that outlines the kind of dislocated sonic ground that his LPs traverse. I would recommend buying the LPs and losing yourself in the blurred South London via Wolverhampton head space of Darren Cunningham.



Quietus Interview - http://thequietus.com/articles/14423-actress-interview-ghettoville
Electronic Beats Interview -http://www.electronicbeats.net/en/features/interviews/an-interview-with-actress/

Friday, February 28, 2014

Belgian Fog - Loveless Way

Belgian Fog is the musical alias of Robert Dale from Washington State and he works at KEXP in Seattle and has produced a sparkling gem of a track. The songs is propelled along a strident bright programmed rhythm box, a cute melody line and a great vocal that sweeps from a mellow croon to a soaring falsetto. There are shades of New Order in he guitar coda towards the end and it also reminds me of the more synth driven work of Stephin Merritt's work on those early Magentic Fields releases. That's not to say that the track sounds overtly retro it doesn't, the production, the beats the whole feel is fresh. It strikes me as hybrid of The Weeknd's warped R&B and the confessional  indie of Bon Iver or Bright Eyes with some added Hot Chip.  It has already worked its way to my head and hopefully there will more music in the near future.

https://soundcloud.com/belgianfog

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Postcode – Zebratronic (Small Bear Records) Review



One of the main joys of the internet for me is the ability to stumble across new music and then get directly to the source via few clicks of a mouse. I love Soundcloud and Bandcamp for allowing you to listen to tracks and purchase directly (or almost directly) from the band of artist.

My latest discovery (via an email) are Postcode. Postcode are based in the Isle Man, not a renowned hot bed of musical activity. I have a friend who grew up there in the 1980s and at the time it all seems to have been all heavy metal, motorbikes and the odd gig by Dumpys Rusty Nuts. It’s came as a pleasant surprise that Postcode are not metal and they don’t mention motorbikes! Zebratronic is the third LP from the band.

On Zebratronic the band (Mike Daugherty music and Marie Reynolds words and vocals) blend fizzing synth lines, brittle drums, warm distortion and plaintive vocals into a heady and beguiling mix.  It reminds me of dark pop hues of Garbage, the stark melodic intent of Client or the bruised electronic goth of Curve.

The opening track “Back by Dawn” starts with a brooding Joy Division bassline and a crisp rattling machine drum loop before Marie Reynolds vocals become the perfect foil for the music, uncoiling slowly before the blizzard of guitars kick in around 2:20.  Dodge City is an amphetamine rush of overloaded guitars and drowning vocals, Pound is built around a punch drunk drum pattern, snappy bass & guitar hook and razor blade guitars. The epic Resurrection clocks in at 7:18 and shifts through the sonic gears from its jangling guitar intro, via a sprightly snare roll hook to blasts of guitar sludge and distorted vocals and an ebbing slow burning ambient bridge before the sonic onslaught returns. Autumn is a real gem, a twinkling music box melody bouncing on top of circling chord sequence, swirling sweet caramel multi-tracked vocals and a sly infection rhythm box. Imagine early New Order fronted by Romy Madley Croft and you get the idea. It would make a great single.There is an extra track on the CD a great cover version but I will let you discover the pleasures of that yourself.


The CD is released via Small Bear Records label and you can order it directly via their Bandcamp website. Mine came with a free copy of a Small Bear compilation, free badge and a post it note from the band.  The CDs are very well packaged with great quality artwork and finishing. My daughter loved the cover of the Zebratronic CD. At a £5.00 it really is a steal.  All this great music for less than the price of a decent cup of coffee and a muffin.  



Monday, February 24, 2014

Hacker Farm - Sumorsaete Flod

I have been a big fan of the Hacker Farm collective since reading a piece in The Wire in May 2013. The collective live and work on an abandoned Farm in the Dorset countryside and the artists include:

Hacker Farm
Kemper Norton
IX Tab

There is a neat little playlist from The Wire - link below

http://www.thewire.co.uk/audio/tracks/listen-to-wyrd-sounds-from-the-west-country

The Hacker Farm collective itself is made up of Farmer Glitch, Kek-W and Bren. The work using dis-guarded and broken electronics, home made sound generators and field recordings. The track Sumorsaete Flod is a new piece of haunting glitchy ambient that was posted up on the 19th February. From the title, artwork, watery field recordings  and wildlife sounds running through the track it is clearly connected to the recent flooding in the Somerset Levels.

For musicians it must be wonderful to be able to produce something and get it out to the public so quickly without having to wait for post production, mixing, pressing and manufacturing. A pithy listen for wet wintry days in the south west of England.

Steve Albini Talks In Utero, Nirvana and Shellac.


I have recently uncovered this great interview with Steve Albini @  http://vishkhanna.com were he talks in depth about recording (he always says he doesn't produce records) In Utero with Nirvana  back 1993. The podcast is from 2013 around the time of the Super Deluxe re issue of In Utero,. The reissue contains amongst other things the original Steve Albini mixes for Heart Shaped Box and All Apologies. These mixes were pulled at the time and replaced with Scott Litt mixes, there is also a new "2013" mix of the LP from the master tapes, demos and live versions.

It must say I prefer the Albini mix of All Apologies over the version issued at the time. It's harder, darker with add grit.



The demo version with lots of acoustic guitars is also rather lovely and sounds like R.E.M. circa Automatic for the People, although the vocals are low in the mix and it sounds as if the lyrics hadn't been worked out when it was recorded.



I wonder what an Albini produced R.E.M. would have sounded like?

Steve Albini comes across well and has some good points to make about the reissue industry in general, the mixingand mastering of the reissue, the story behind the 2013 mixes and how the record caused him no end of issues in the year & half after its release. He does come across as bitter or angry at his mixes being removed and in fact comes across as lack any ego in term of his "producer" status.

The full interview is here:

http://vishkhanna.com/2013/08/16/ep-24-steve-albini

You can see a copy of the letter they discussed here:

http://www.factmag.com/2013/09/26/check-out-steve-albinis-incredible-in-utero-proposal/

The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart LP Review


The Go-Betweens seem to be cursed. They are a classic example of the Big Star music law. The law that states that no matter how much critical acclaim you receive, regardless of the majesty of your records you only ever attain cult status. A name to be dropped by the musically obsessed. Adored and worshipped by a small but fervent fan base but your sales eclipsed by novelty records and reality TV runners up enjoying their brief fling with fame.
The Go-Betweens where formed in Brisbane by friends Robert Forster and Grant McLennan in 1978. This is the band’s ninth LP and their third since reforming in 2000. These Aussie songsmiths are still mining a seam that is pure musical gold.
The songs on Oceans Apart are split 50:50, five songs written and sung by Forster and five by McLennan. The songs complement each other beautifully. The LP is stamped with the band’s trademark gift for plush intricate melodies and sophisticated wordplay. The sound is mainly autumnal and burnished, hushed and fragile, but infused with dark hues and subtle black humour.
The opening Here Comes A City, penned by Forster, is propelled along on a set of sparkling frenetic guitar chords. It’s the tale of a journey by rail across Germany. Images of other lives glimpsed briefly through the carriage windows, flicking past like frames in Wim Wenders’ films.
It’s followed by the warm and arresting, Finding You. The song begins with a crystalline melody, shimmering off the strings of McLennan’s acoustic guitar. His voice rich and tender, an aching cello adds a bittersweet undertow and a biting distorted guitar swoops in. It builds, gently unwinds, builds again and then evaporates into a blissful double tracked vocal. When McLennan sings “and then the lighting finds us” the hairs on the back of my neck prickle and my heart swoons.
Forster and McLennan manage to tackle the subject of aging with dignity and grace. Forster’s Darlinghurst Nights is a wistful and witty rumination on a misspent youth. A funky brass section buoys the song, the lyrics painting a picture of the hubris of the young. Too many nights spent drinking “gut rot cappuccino” and dreaming of writing film scripts and jetting off around the globe.
McLennan’s Boundary Rider is a subtle update of their classic Cattle and Cain. An organ drone gives way to another wonderful sparkling melody. The lyrics tell of a ranch hand that age has suddenly caught up with and who can only survive by surrendering himself to the prosaic nature of his work.
This Night’s For You sounds like Teenage Fan Club rewriting The Cure circa Head On The Door. Cooed backing vocals, strings and crunching smoldering guitars. The closing Mountains Near Delray is REM relocated to the chilled out streets of Brisbane. There are haunting country style guitars and a gentle lingering organ part that unfurls like a spring morning. The lyrics are cryptic, full of clipped images, a search for a rural hideaway maybe, a reflection on an idyllic childhood possibly. It’s a beguiling and striking way to end a wonderful record.
Tony Heywood (C)