Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Recommended music: 'Gravity' by Crewdson

Following on from last year's 'Dust' EP, 'Gravity' is the first full-length release from Huw 'Crewdson' Jones. It's a great mixture of choppy beats, occasional slices of funk, and some unexpected jazz stylings. It's an organic mix of home-made sounds (no samples of anyone else's work here) that come together in a hot soup of cool music.

'Starting Out On The Wrong Foot' does exactly the opposite, with crunchy percussive beats and melodic chord stabs, the track is reminiscent of Four Tet. Then 'Trapdoor' picks up the glitchy pace, with treated vocals akin to James Blake (although perhaps not quite as dramatic). Next 'Electric Wing' provides the first full-on jazz moment, which is all the more surprising when it arrives halfway through this post-dubstep track. Hugh puts his keyboard down, picks up the sax and lets rip.

'Satellite Bounce' and 'Mime' continue the glitched beats, with the latter again benefiting from processed vocals and also having more than a hint of Caribou about it. 'Full Force Shuffle' is darker in tone, as if we've moved on to a different venue for some 'specialist' entertainment, if you catch my drift. If you bought the 'Dust EP' then the uptempo pace and Flying Lotus-esque rhythms  of 'Dust Crawlers' will be familiar to you, and after that 'To A New Day' adds to the jazz quotient with some more great sax work.

On the home straight 'Goodbye Old Friend' might be the world's first post-samba record (I might have invented a new genre there), upbeat and friendly, while 'Last Joy Sticks' is mean, moody and spiky. Last up is the epic 'Cascade', the longest and most intricate track, which has an air of Orbital to it and which calms and uplifts you as it finishes the album.

If Caribou bumped into Mount Kimbie, they spent the evening together and ended up in a jazz club, the result would probably sound like this.

'Gravity' is out now on Slowfoot Records. You can listen to the whole album here, and then buy it below.

Crewdson - Gravity (Album) by crewdson


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Roger Whittaker's Bastard Children - A Whistling Playlist

Inspired by a couple of great tracks with whistling on them that have been released this year, and with a tip of the hat to the man who probably inspired them all, here's 12 songs featuring the dark art of whistling (something I've never actually managed to master myself). You can listen to the whole thing on Spotify here.

  1. 5 Years Time - Noah and The Whale
  2. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John
  3. Lovely Head - Goldfrapp
  4. Jealous Guy - Roxy Music
  5. Dead River - Lone Wolf
  6. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of the Bay - Otis Redding
  7. The Stranger - Billy Joel
  8. Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard - Paul Simon
  9. Step On - Happy Mondays
  10. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People
  11. The Frog Princess - The Divine Comedy
  12. Truth - Alexander


Friday, 17 June 2011

Recommended music: 'Not A Word' by Dam Mantle

'Not A Word' is the lead track from Dam Mantle's forthcoming EP 'We', which is released on July 25th on Get Me! Records. This was my favourite track when I caught Tom playing live (twice!) at SXSW this year, so I'm dead excited that it's coming out. I love the 'monks in the cloisters' vocal line, it gets in your head and won't leave you alone.

The video above is an edit, if you want to hear the full length version you can listen to it here

Pre-order the 12 from Boomkat online here

Dam Mantle at SXSW, March 2011

Monday, 13 June 2011

Recommended music: 'Fjree Feather' by Forest Swords

Available on 12" white vinyl or digital download, this 6-track EP consists of early Forest Swords demo material. A lot of this stuff was only previously available on a homemade CDR before last year's 'Dagger Paths' EP came out, but it certainly doesn't sound like demo material.

'Down Steps' starts by briefly sounding like The Clangers (ask your dad) before slowly building a dubby bassline. It breaks down almost to silence in the middle, before returning to become twice as loud and menacing. It's followed by 'Red Rocks Fogg', which for some reason reminds me both of The Cure and Moon Duo, and features about 215 different drum machine settings. Then 'Kaibisa Claps' crunches its way into view, with tribal drums and an Eastern feel, like a Kirosawa samurai film soundtrack re-made in teh 25th century.

On 'Trust Your Blood' a looped, unintelligible vocal precedes another menacing track where the simple two chord bass pattern is overlaid with atmospheric feedback and noises. A crystal clear guitar line provides some relief before the looped vocal returns. The track would suit footage from a sci-fi movie as a spaceship descends through Saturn's rings. 'Riverbed' is percussively reminiscent of These New Puritans, while some brilliantly fuzzed guitar linesfight for prominence. There are some occasional organ stabs that would suit a DJ Shadow track, but the guitar's the star on this one.

Final track 'Bones' throws squalls of feedback over fuzz-bass and the simplest of drum beats. Overall this track puts me in mind of the Peaking Lights album, albeit with more force.

The EP has been released to support the Red Cross's tsunami recovery efforts in Japan, so not only do you get some brilliant music, you get to feel good about yourself at the same time.

You can pre-order the 12", or buy the download, here. In the meantime you can listen to a couple of tracks from the EP below.

Forest Swords - Kaibasa Claps by NO PAIN IN POP

Forest Swords - Trust Your Blood by NO PAIN IN POP

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Recommended music: 'Day of Anger' by Mondkopf

After yesterday's French recommendation here's another release from one of our Gallic cousins, and it's a belter. At the moment this is probably my favourite release of the year so far, I've played it incessantly since it arrived in the post yesterday and I'm completely and utterly obsessed with it.

Mondkopf is a 23-year old Parisian who is starting to pick up a lot of attention across the internet. His mix of 'God's Gonna Cut You Down' by Johnny Cash picked up a huge underground buzz (download it here) and this new release looks set to increase his stock further.

The title track 'Day of Anger' is, frankly, fucking awesome, there's no other way to describe how I feel about it. Starting off with a gentle, haunting piano, it is soon overtaken by a pounding, crunchy bassline, arpeggio'd synths and a feeling that a riot has just kicked off inside your music player. Then, as suddenly as they arrived, the crunchy beats disappear and the piano returns at the end, the calm after the storm.

'Eastern Revolt' is next, 3 and a half minutes of squelchyness, like The Chemical Brothers if they'd grown up on a troubled French housing estate. 'New-york' provides a brief respite, before 'Euphoria' manages to be both menacing and uplifting at the same time to close the EP. Gone in 13 minutes, I suggest you put it on repeat and just let it play again and again and again for ever...

The cd comes packaged with a 16 page handmade fanzine from the universe of 'Rising Doom', the title of Mondkopf's soon to be released album. If you want to hear it you'll have to make a bit of an effort, apart from the title track (which is available on iTunes) the rest are only available on a black CD-R that comes with the numbered fanzine and is limited to 1,000 copies. You can order it from Rough Trade Records here.

Watch the video for 'Day of Anger' below:

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Recommended music: 'Total' by SebastiAn

Sebastians you might already know - Sebastian Coe (Olympic athlete & ticket fiasco chief), Sebastian Faulks (author), Sebastian Vettel (F1 speed merchant) and Belle & Sebastian (indie geeks). And now there's a new Seb in town - SebastiAn Akchoté - french dance music maestro and creator of bangers for Edbanger records.

'Hudson River' starts the show, managing in it's 50 seconds to sound exactly like E.L.O should if they made a comeback. From then on there's a rush of 21 tracks that each manage to leave you wanting more. This is undoubtedly a French-sounding album - that might sound like an obvious thing to say, but there's a certain Gallic dance sound that only the French can do.

If you've ever wondered what Justice would (or should) sound like fronted by Prince then just take a listen to 'Love In Motion' or 'Embody'. Elsewhere the album manages to channel the spirit of Daft Punk (particularly on 'Ross Ross Ross'), Mr. Oizo and pretty much every other French dance act of note from the past 10 years.

The album rushes past at a frenetic pace and plays out like something of a live set - the pace varies but the quality never relents. M.I.A. puts in a star turn on 'C.T.F.O' (Chill The Fuck Out), while Gaspard from Justice adds to 'Tetra', providing an intriguing preview of what their new album might sound like (a baroque version of their last one, apparently!).

If you buy the album from iTunes you get an extra track ('Organia') but in case you don't you can download it for free below.

You can also listen to 'Embody' here as well.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Recommended music: 'The Quixotic' by Tommy Tempa

Released a couple of weeks ago on the Somethinksounds label, this 4 track (if you buy the vinyl) or 7 track (download) EP has captured my ears and been on almost permanent repeat this week.

Covering a whole range of dance-music bases, the EP opens with the jazz-influenced 'Fragments', before moving into breakbeat territory with 'Rejoice Rejoice'.

'Micro Ballistics' has a weird, almost ambient feel, and is followed by the EP's centrepiece 'Light Medium'. Slowly building layer upon layer of sound, it starts to reminds me a bit of Ensemble Economique, before the vocals kick in and take it up another notch.

'Now or Never' is a funk-fuelled samba designed to make your hips shimmy, unlike 'Warm Glow of the City' which is like Tokyo at nightfall. Closer 'Roma' features sampled & looped vocals over melodic & slightly distorted keyboards, and is a fittingly idiosyncratic way to close the record.

You can listen to the whole EP below, and buy it from Bandcamp, iTunes or the other usual suspects.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Recommended music: 'We Are Rising' by Son Lux

I'm sure a lot of musicians would say that making an album is a challenge, but this one really was. The people at NPR Music contacted Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux) in January and asked if he'd be interested in making an album from scratch during February. Initially he thought he couldn't do it, but then decided to embrace the challenge and see what could be achieved.

The result is the brilliant 'We Are Rising', an album full of complexities and intrigue that twists and turns its way from your head to your heart and back again. Proving almost impossible to characterise, the tracks range from darkly threatening ('Claws')) through to simple and melodic (the gentle and haunting 'Flowers'). Lott's distinctive voice provides the one permanent feature as it floats above the music, sometimes fragile, sometimes menacing.

Repeated listens reveal the layers of work that have been put into the recording - if this is what can be achieved in 28 days then maybe more acts should be forced to work at this pace. If he continues to produce work of this quality then this Son truly will be Rising.

You can listen to the whole album below, and either buy it from Bandcamp or iTunes (or I guess anywhere you normally buy your music. It's released on Anticon Records.

'Kid Velo' by Rival Consoles - Part 2

In my previous piece on the new album by Rival Consoles (read it here) I collected together the first four tracks that had been put out into the ether.

As promised, I've now rounded up the next batch of tracks and put them below for your listening pleasure (the first 4 are here as well for good measure). The new songs (I Left The Party, Vos, Eve, Guitari and Rosenthal Road) continue the brilliant sound that the first 4 introduced, and are possibly even better...you can even download one of them for free!

Rival Consoles – Kid Velo by erasedtapes

The album is set for release on June 27th, and looks likely to be one of my favourites of the year.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Desert Island Discs

I'm sure you're all aware of the venerable institution that is Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. On the radio since 1942, the BBC have recently launched an online archive where you can listen to more than 500 programmes, and find the details of every single castaway who's been sent to the island. To help celebrate this they have been letting listeners submit their own Desert Island Disc choices, which made me sit down and think about what I would choose. So here they are - these aren't necessarily my favourite 8 songs of all time, but they are the 8 tracks which I would happily take to my island paradise.

1. Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-IV)
Despite the fact that I was only 6 when this came out, it really reminds me of teenage years. Plus it's a nice long track so I'll get value for money with this selection!

2. The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset
Possibly the most perfect song ever written, this will evoke great memories of London as the sun sets over my deserted island.

3. Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
This song always send a shiver down my spine, it used to bring a lump to my throat even before Jeff Buckley died. It's 2 for the price of one really - a great Leonard Cohen song made twice as good by Buckley's performance.

4. Manic Street Preachers - Motorcycle Emptiness
This is my all-time favourite song; lyrics to make you think every time you hear them, coupled with one of the best guitar riffs ever written (how did James Dean Bradfield write that when he was so young?). This is the track I'd keep when Kirsty Young says 'If you could only have one song whcih would it be?'.

5. The National - The Geese of Beverly Road
From one of my favourite bands comes one of the best lyrics ever: 'Come be my waitress and serve me tonight, serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon'. I love the whole atmosphere and feel of this song, and it will remind me of all the great live shows I've seen The National perform.

6. Johnny Cash - Hurt
The song makes me think of the video, and the video makes me cry. I think it would be good to have something on the island to be sad about other than hunger and loneliness!

7. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
From another of my favourite bands, chosen because it will remind me of all my friends who aren't on the island and all the good times we shared together.

8. Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding
Memories of school days, the Falklands War & the dreaded Mrs Thatcher, but most of all hearing this on the John Peel show late at night, the start of a listening habit that lasted until Peel sadly died. The root of my musical obsession and eclectic taste really stems from him.

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify here if you like to do that sort of thing.

The Desert Island Discs celebration programme is on Radio 4 on Saturday 11th June at 9am.