Sunday, 20 August 2017

Recommended music: 'The Road: Part 1' by UNKLE

It's no secret that I'm a massive fan of UNKLE, but that doesn't mean that I think everything they've put out has been an unqualified success. In particular the last album 'Where Does The Night Fall' suffered from having too many guest vocalists and a lack of a single vision or theme - to me it didn't really know what it wanted to be which meant in reality it really wasn't much at all.

I'm pleased to say that's not the case with 'The Road: Part 1' though.With the exception of Mark Lanegan there are no real 'starry' guests - instead Lavelle chooses to work here with a pool of singers he's been using for some years now, to much greater effect. On a number of tracks they - Elliott Power, Eska, Mink - share the vocals which adds to the ensemble feel of the record. And while there are number of different types of UNKLE on display here - instrumental soundtrack UNKLE, deep beats UNKLE, rock band UNKLE - there's a cohesiveness to this album that's been lacking in the past. It's a cliche but 'The Road' does feel like something of a journey, and it least on here all of the participants are travelling in the same direction.

Mostly Lavelle's desire to front a rock band is kept in check, in favour of strings, some dark electronics and more sombre, more atmospheric tunes (although the Elliott Power-led songs do now make it sound like he wants to front Massive Attack instead). We can forgive him his moment on the mic on 'Nowhere To Run / Bandits', even if it does prove he's a better producer than lyricist. The tracks that have been around for a while - 'Cowboys or Indians' for example - fit well with the ones we've not heard before, and show that he's been thinking about this release as a whole items rather than just a collection of tracks he's gathered over the past 5 years.

It's clear that this record means a lot to Lavelle, particularly in the way he's packaged it and tried to present it almost as an art project rather than just a record - and as a result of this care and attention he's given us a record that's up there with UNKLE's finest output. I can only hope that there's a 'Part 2' and we don't have to wait as long for it as we did for 'Part 1'.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Track of the Day: 'War Is Coming (If You Want It)' by Car Seat Headrest

"This is a song about not murdering people"

It's great to have a new Car Seat Headrest track to listen to, especially one as pertinent to our times as this one.Will Toledo's lyrics are bang on - "Last night I dreamed you'd murdered some kids" he sings, "If it has been on TV I would've changed the channel".

The world needs more songs like this and more bands like Car Seat Headrest, and less fuckwits like Donald Trump and Theresa May. That's just my opinion of course, but you and I both know it's true.

Listen and buy the track below.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Recommended music: 'Midnight Versions' by Roosevelt

Having seen Roosevelt as a support band (I can't remember who for) I was keen to give this EP a try when I saw it. It really hits the spot, sounding like a long-lost collection of remixes from the 80s (which I'm all for). Each track is allowed to extend and get its groove on, and I particularly like all the percussion sounds which sound exactly like a lot of my favourite 80s tracks. From the starting funky bass of 'Close' (a track which reminds me of a slowed-down version of George Benson's 'Gimme The Night') through the electro-pop of 'Night Moves' and the congas and house-piano of 'Colours' and finishing with synth and guitar-led 'Wait Up', it's a glorious ride through the sunshine of the past.

You can stream the whole EP and get it on a 'pay what you want' deal below.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Video of the Day: 'Visa Vulture' by Shame

I'm a few months late to the party with this, but having stumbled across it while searching for acts to watch at Visions Festival this Saturday I wanted to share it with you. It's great to find a band making political protest songs these days, we need more of it the state we're in. I'll definitely be watching them at Mangle on Saturday evening.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Track of the Day: 'Say What You Want' by Andrew Hung

Andrew Hung is increasingly branching out from his role as half of electronic duo Fuck Buttons. Lately he's co-written and produced the excellent 'Kidsticks' by Beth Orton, released a couple of EPs and also recorded the soundtrack to the polarising movie 'The Greasy Strangler'. Next up in October will be his own solo album, which you might be surprised to find features vocals from Andrew himself. Even Andrew is not entirely sure what to make of the vocals, having said "Yes, it's me, but it's not me. I see an oscillation between myself and the character of the album".

The first track from 'Realisationship' is 'Say What You Want', which contains some Talking Heads rhythms and a mantra-like vocal that will get stuck in your head for weeks. The album is out on October 6th through Lex Records.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Record Store Day 2017

It's hard to believe that today is the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day. I think I might've missed the first one or two, then spent a number of years making unfeasibly early train trips to Rough Trade East, before South Records opened in Southend and became my local 'go-to' store.

This morning I arrived at around 6.20 a.m. and took the coveted 10th spot in the queue, with my purchase list in one hand and flask of coffee in the other. My good spot led to a few phone calls with friends to see if there was anything I could grab for them, which helped to pass the time and to distract from the fact that it had started to rain.

8 o'clock rolled round soon enough, and the entry to the shop was a much more civilized affair this year, with numbers in and out controlled to avoid a mad scramble of arms and legs at the record racks. So thanks to Richard and the team for doing a great job of looking after their customers.

My records were bagged in one of the special edition Fred Perry tote bags and I was soon back on my way home to start spinning the vinyl. Here's what I bought this year:

  1. Polica - 'Lipstick Stains'; white vinyl 7"
  2. British Sea Power - 'Keep On Trying / Bad Bohemian'; pink vinyl 7"
  3. The The - 'We Can't Stop What's Coming'; etched 7"
  4. Elbow - 'August & September (The The cover)'; etched 7"
  5. Swet Shop Boys - 'Sufi La'; white vinyl 12"
  6. Prince - 'Pop Life'; 12"
  7. Prince - 'Sign O' The Times'; 12"
  8. Follakzoid feat. J. Spaceman - 'London Sessions'; 12"
  9. Primal Scream - 'Mixomatosis'; 12"
  10. BP Fallon & David Holmes - 'Henry McCullough (Andrew Weatherall mix); white & brown splatter 12"
  11. David Bowie - 'No Plan EP'; blue vinyl etched 12"
  12. The Atomic Bomb Band - 'Plays The Music of William Onyeabor'; 12" album
  13. Maximo Park - 'Risk To Exist'; red & yellow splatter vinyl 12" album
  14. David Bowie - 'Cracked Actor'; triple vinyl 12" album
  15. Various Artists: Oxfam Presents - 'Stand As One - Live at Glastonbury 2016'; one red & one green 12" vinyl album
I know some people are a bit snobby about Record Store Day and yes, it is commercialised to a degree, and people should support their local shops all year round, but if this gets new people into those shops I'm all for it. Long may it continue!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Video of the Day: 'Silurian Blue' by Floating Points

Floating Points have a new video / album project on the way entitled 'Reflections - Mojave Desert'. Filmed by Anna Diaz Ortuno, it was recorded last August while the band were rehearsing for the US tour, when the desert became a unique recording environment for them.

The album is due for release on 30th June, and from it comes 'Silurian Blue', a fantastic journey through instrumental jazz and prog-rock themes. I'm imagining the whole project might turn out to be a like a modern day version of Pink Floyd's 'Live at Pompeii' film - which is no bad thing.