Sunday, 14 January 2018

Track of the Day: 'Die Dimension' by Perel

New signing to DFA Records Annegret Fiedler, aka Perel, comes to us from the Berlin club scene, where she works both as a DJ and producer. Her first release for the label is this stonking slice of German electronica, which brings to mind Moroder, Metropolis and many more wonderful things. The spoken word vocal is so atmospheric it immediately transports you to mid-80s Berlin before the fall of the wall, with the collar of your long black coat turned up and your eyeliner thick and dark.

There are some great remixes of the track around too so make sure you check them out, and watch out for more great releases from her in the coming months.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

New Band of the Day: Sports Team

Having formed while they all studied at Cambridge University, Sports Team are now holed up in Harlesden, North London, where they're honing their particular mix of melody, mixed-tempo tunes and cutting, cynical lyrics (example: "where builders I don't like make flats for twats in Canary Wharf'").

Their debut EP 'Winter Nets' will be out on Nice Swam Records imminently - have a listen to two tracks from it, 'Beverly Rose' and 'Stanton', below.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Albums of the Year 2017

It's that time of year again, and I reckon 2017 has been pretty good for music releases. It's been tricky to put these in any sort of order, but here's my selection of the best records of the year.


I'll admit it was hard to pick between this and the LCD album, but this eventually won through, possibly by virtue of the fact it had been around longer and so I'd listened to it more. This is am amazing record though, and once that takes electronic music in a direction nobody had really thought of before. Recorded live in the space of just 2 days, and with 3 (!) live drummers, it shows that the Dewaele brothers are so much more than just DJs and remixers. These are, whisper it, proper songs, songs that you can both sing along to and dance to. The vinyl version is brilliant too, with special announcements at the start of each side, and a concentric groove at the end of each one.


I was completely ready to dislike this record - after the whole deal of the band calling it a day and then getting back together I thought things just wouldn't be the same again. And in some ways they aren't, because although this sounds like LCD Soundsystem, it also manages to sound like pretty much every band who influenced James Murphy in his formative years. As such there's a wider diversity of musical styles on here than on previous LCD albums, which are matched with Murphy's usual caustic lyrics. It's hard to say that it's the sound of a band maturing, given that Murphy was no spring chicken when they started, but it's definitely a step in a slightly different direction.


In third place it's three cheers for a proper British hip-hop record - there's nothing wrong with grime of course, but this is something different, a record that takes 80s rap influences and transports them to the UK, where they're met with heart and soul from Ben Coyle-Larner. This is a really personal record that talks about (and has contributions from) his family, mentions his struggles with OCD and ADHD, and is full of life and vibrancy. Having tipped this guy for a few years now it's great to see him getting recognition from the Mercury Prize, BBC Radio 6 and even Yves Saint-Lauren, who've made him the face of their new fragrance 'Y'. Yesterday may have gone but tomorrow is full of promise for him.


It's hard to make instrumental electronic music that sounds both emotional and intelligent, but that's what Matthew Barnes has done with this record. It's percussive, it's atmospheric, and its use of sampled and transformed vocals communicates in a new and unheard language. In an album that's very much born out of today's troubled world - with immigration, Brexit and Trump woes - you sense that's perhaps the key theme of this record, that it doesn't matter what language a person speaks, if you empathise with them and show some compassion you can grow to understand them. A triumph, both sonically and emotionally, this has been my late night listening of choice in 2017


Despite the fact that it was recorded over a number of year, this is the most cohesive UNKLE album for years, perhaps ever. In the main eschewing starry collaborators for a regular stable of vocalists, James Lavelle has crafted a brilliant record that easily mixes dance tracks with more ethereal songs. The artwork is great, the videos a re great, and the double vinyl package even won a design award. I can only hope that there's a 'Pt. 2' and it follows close behind.


On this record Goddard steps out from the Hot Chip gang, leave behind his partner in The 2 Bears, and crafts a huge, upbeat house-party of a record which will make you smile and dance at the same time. Featuring his usual vocalist Valentina, this is proper good time house music that works equally well in a small club or live in front of thousands at Glastonbury (I know, I was there). The title track features Hot Chip front man Alexis Taylor, reminds me of Halo by Beyonce, and features the unexpected line "I don't know a real ale from a fake one' - these three facts alone should make you want to listen to this record.


The album on which Jamie xx finally takes his band mates out on a night clubbing. Featuring 'On Hold', one of the stand-out tracks of the year, this is the perfect combination of the previous XX albums and Jamie's brilliant 'In Colour' record. As their triumphant sets at festivals throughout the summer showed, the songs are even better live. One for the both the heart and the feet.


A worthy winner of this year's Mercury Prize, Sampha's debut album wore its heart on its sleeve and unashamedly revelled in the quality of its songwriting. From ballads like '(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano' to the strangely upbeat tale of mugging 'Blood On Me', it's clear the this guy is chock-full of talent, something that the likes of Kanye West have already recognised. The UK's John Legend? Quite possibly.


Another act that I've been championing on this blog for years (originally back in January 2013), Blaenavon brought chiming melodies, occasionally strident guitars, and out of the ordinary lyrics to their debut album 'That's Your Lot'. And then, just when you thought it couldn't get any better, they released 'The Bedroom Tapes', a full acoustic version of the album which brought a fragility to some of the rowdier tracks, and showed just what good songwriters they are.


I'll confess that this is the first album I've ever bought by Dirty Projectors, and I know it's not necessarily to the taste of their existing fans. It's an album about heartbreak and loss, which is all the more noticeable given that Amber Coffman was not only David Longstreth's partner but also an integral part of the group for 6 years. So their separation was bound to have an impact on the record, but he seems to have embraced it. The songs are about them, occasionally bitter but often celebratory, and his use of vocal and electronic effects to physically replace her in the music is, for me, a huge success and a big step forward.

Honourable mentions:

On another day any of these five might have made it into the Top 10:

  • Run The Jewels - RTJ3
  • James Holden & The Animal Spirits - The Animal Spirits
  • Four Tet - New Energy
  • Sinkane - Life & Livin' It
  • Blanck Mass - World Eater 
Reissue of the Year: Radiohead - OK Computer

20 years after its release, one of the most important and era-defining albums of all time got the full reissue treatment. The boxset is a truly wondrous thing - triple vinyl, hardcover artbook, 104 pages of Thom Yorke's private notes, a 48 page sketchbook, and a C90 cassette full of demos and session archives.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

2017 - the best new EPs

In a great year for new music there have been some outstanding EPs, which deserve to be recognised but which, for obvious reasons, won't be in any 'Album of the Year' lists. Here are my choices:

1. Floating Points - Reflections: Mojave Desert

Sam Shepherd's Floating Points are more and more turning into the new Pink Floyd. As if to prove this he's made this EP, in which he took the band out to the desert and filmed them recording. The result is something akin to Floyd's 'Live at Pompeii' in which the remains of the ancient Roman city are replaced by mountains and cacti. As I understand it there are more 'Reflections' EPs to come from more equally unusual settings, which can only be a good thing.

2. Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference

A great 6 track EP from the jazz maestro, one which brings out the different colours in his jazz palette. You only have to look at the track titles - Humility, Perspective, Integrity, Truth - to know the message he's getting across with this release.

3. Swet Shop Boys - Sufi La

One of my favourite releases from Record Store Day 2017 was this EP from Riz MZ (aka the actor Riz Ahmed), Heems and Redinho - banging bhangra hip-hop from London.

4. The Wave Pictures - Canvey Island Baby

Another 6 track EP, this one featured 5 Dr. Feelgood covers and the title track, an original song about the band. Garage rock doesn't get any better than this.

5. Ghost Culture - Nucleus

Featuring Coma, one of my favourite dance tracks of the year, this EP saw Ghost Culture dialling up the club vibes after spending months DJing and trying out new tracks.

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.