Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Shortest Track of the Week: 'True Colours' by Gallows

Gallows have re-emerged with their first track since original vocalist Frank Carter was replaced by Wade MacNeil (formerly of Alexisonfire). It's 37 seconds of pure punk energy and, even better, you can download it for free. Just click on the picture at the top of the page and you'll find all the details you need.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Recommended music: 'Unknown Mortal Orchestra' by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Something a bit different to the usual electronic-tinged music that I recommend for you. I listened to this album a lot on my summer holiday, so it's good to know that it sounds as good on a wet Tuesday in London as it did on a sunny beach in Italy. I recently described it to someone as 'early Pink Floyd visits The Beatles on a journey with Sly Stone', and although that doesn't cover all of the influences on display here, it should give you some idea of the type of sounds you'll hear within.

Album opener 'Ffunny Ffriends' is the first track I heard from the band (as is often the case it was on the Tom Ravenscroft show on BBC 6Music). It's a good introduction to the band, with shuffling drumbeats, a catchy guitar line, and melodic but slightly fuzzy vocals. 'Bicycle' (a sequel to Pink Floyd's 'Bike' perhaps?) feels a bit like The Kinks musically, although the 'All of you can eat my dust' lyrics bring the track up to date. Next track 'Thought Ballune' opens with some guitars stolen from The Beatles, and matches them with an equally Beatles-esque chorus.

'Jello and Juggernauts' is a slightly more mellow track with some typically psychedelic words, while 'How Can  You Luv Me' ups the pace, with a funky bassline and some equally rhythmic drumming. Next up is 'Nerve Damage', which has an irritating Peter Frampton / Bon Jovi guitar/voice/tube/thingy intro & outro, but in between becomes the punkiest thing on the album, very much in the Stooges line. Meanwhile 'Little Blu House' is one of the most melodic tracks, a 60s tune fitted to a simple drum machine which comes in at exactly 3 minutes long - the perfect length for a pop song. It's followed by 'Strangers are Strange, which brings the funky bass back.

'Boy Witch' resurrects the ghost of Syd Barrett to close the album - it's very Floyd influenced and could easily be a track from 'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn'. On the iTunes version of the album there are a couple of bonus tracks - 'I Want To Be Left To My Own Devices' and 'Cyrus' Theme'. The former is a distorted acoustic ditty, while the latter is an engaging instrumental.

Overall then, this is an album that draws its influences from each of the last five decades, and wraps them up in something that's both comfortably familiar and enjoyably unusual.

You can listen to the whole album below.

Song title of the week: 'I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl' by Wavves

Who doesn't want to meet Dave Grohl, eh? *putsonstonerLAvoice* 'He's just like, so totally rad, dude, I'd like, totally turn gay for Grohl'.

Anyway, Wavves frontman Nathan Williams has summed up all of our feeling'd for the godlike Grohl in his new track 'I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl' and best of all, you can download it for free here. Just click on the picture of Dave the Dude below and the song will be yours.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Recommended music: 'My < 3' by Chrome Sparks

25 minutes of electronic loveliness from Chrome Sparks, aka 20 year old university student Jeremy Malvin. There's an underlying gentleness and (appropriately) heart to these tracks that can often be missing from contemporary electronic music. The guest vocals of Steffaloo on two of the tracks undoubtedly add a human touch, but even on the instrumental tracks there's a touch of organic, analogue warmth.

After a few singles and remixes, this is the first fully-fledged effort that Jeremy has put out, and for me it shows signs of great things to come. It's not derivative, it's looking forward (rather than backwards like a lot of those 80s-fixated acts), and it's got intelligence and originality.

After you've listened to the album below, you can get it from Bandcamp on one of those 'name your own price' deals - name a sensible price and it'll be well worth the money.

Parental Advisory: Too Many Mutha'uckas - a swearing playlist

Swearing eh? Despite what your parents might tell you, it IS big, it IS clever, and most of all it's very, very funny. One thing's for certain - if you're having a shit day, press play above and listen to this - it WILL cheer you up. Track listing:

  1. Flight of the Conchords - Mutha'uckas
  2. Lo-Fidelity Allstars - Battleflag (feat. Pigeonhed)
  3. Prince - Sexy M.F.
  4. Manic Street Preachers - Miss Europa Disco Dance
  5. Peaches - Fuck The Pain Away
  6. Super Furry Animals - The Man Don't Give A Fuck
  7. The Libertines - What A Waster
  8. Matthew Jay - Four Minute Rebellion
  9. Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole
  10. Eels - It's A Motherfucker
  11. Ben Folds - Bitches Ain't Shit
  12. Damien Rice - Woman Like A Man
  13. Babyshambles - Fuck Forever
  14. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Stagger Lee
  15. Gallows - Staring At The Rude Bois (feat. Lethal Bizzle)
  16. Glasvegas - Fuck You, It's Over
  17. Jarvis Cocker - Running The World

Friday, 26 August 2011

Recommended music: Radiohead remixes by Brokenchord, Altrice and Blawan

Here's batch number five of the Radiohead remixes - as usual they're out on 12" and download on Monday, with the double cd collecting them all up due for release on October 10th.

Friday Top Ten - 26/8/11

13 tracks for you to listen to this week - just click on the play button above (I'll have to re-name this feature if I keep putting more than 10 tracks in the broadcast!). Track listing and details below, including some free downloads:

  1. Balam Acab - Welcome
  2. Foe - Deep Water Heartbreaker (Ghostpoet Remix) Free download
  3. Azari & III - Manic (Creep Remix) Free download
  4. Toro Y Moi - New Beat (Star Slinger Dancehall Mix) Free download
  5. Sleep ∞ Over - Romantic Streams (Balam Acab Remix) Free download
  6. James Pants - Dreamboat
  7. Rollo Jean - St. Tropez Free download
  8. Wooden Shjips - Home
  9. Keegan DeWitt - Colour Free download
  10. The Rapture - How Deep Is Your Love (Emperor Machine Remix Edit) Free download
  11. Lanterns On The Lake - You're Almost There Free download
  12. Alak - My Love Is The Best (Patten Remix) Free download
  13. Balam Acab - Fragile Hope

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Recommended music: James Blake & Bon Iver - Fall Creek Boys Choir

Well, what do you think of it? Personally I think it's a perfect slice of loveliness, but I'm sure some of you will disagree...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Recommended music: 'Wander / Wonder' by Balam Acab

One of the most eagerly awaited releases of the year (in my house at least!), Balam Acab's first full-length album for Tri-Angle Records follows on from his acclaimed 'See Birds' EP for the same label late last year. While still recognisably the same artist, Pennsylvanian Alec Koone has clearly developed since then, with stronger production values and more songwriting depth both evident on here.

The album opens with the sound of an ultrasound scan and the beat of a baby's heart - a suitable beginning for the appropriately-titled 'Welcome'. The track turns darker, with ventilated breathing and a scratchy rhythm, before becoming suddenly uplifting towards the end as the chords change and bring relief to the mood, like a shaft of light after a dark raincloud. The mention of rains is apt, as their is a watery feel to some of the tracks, with the sound of rivers and seas playing in the background.

'Aprt' brings some 'trademark' high-pitched sampled vocals over a trip-hop-like beat. Is it witch house? Is it chillwave? Throw your labels away as it's clear that whatever it is, it's the real deal and it defies any genres you might care to pigeonhole it into. 'Motion' continues the fluid feel to the album, flowing nicely from a looping introduction to a more upbeat track that seems to show R'n'B influences and sounds like some of the remixes Star Slinger has been putting out recently (now there's a hook-up I'd like to see - get on the case please Tri-Angle).

'Expect is slightly more down-tempo and melancholic. The vocals may (or may not be) talking about Indian sunsets, and there's definitely a feel of the end of the day about this one. Towards the end a violin appears, and then unexpectedly the chords and vocals build to a peak, with the drum beats kicking in, before it subsides again. Next up is 'Now Time' - more reminiscent of the tracks on 'See Birds' than some of the tracks on here, this is a quietly atmospheric track, with snatches of violins, acoustic guitars and glockenspiels wafting over a scratchy backing track and topped off with more sampled vocals.

The beautifully crafted 'Oh, Why' follows. Starting with a snatch of vocals singing the title, it gradually builds as more tracks are overlaid - vocals, a beat, than a bassline all coming together to create a track tht is made to soundtrack the sun rising over a Mayan temple, or something equally as photogenic. 'Await' matches the sound of water with birdsong and occasional deep pulses to put you in a dream-like state, ready for the arrival of the final track, 'Fragile Hope'. Here the water sounds are in the form of drips that gradually coalesce to form the rhythm. Matching the earlier 'Welcome' there are more breathing noises as the track gradually takes shape. A lowdown drum beat and bass start to underpin the track as more melody and vocals are added, building into the most accomplished track on the record. Before the end these fade out again and we're left with more water and a haunting, fragile vocal line to end the album.

If you buy the album from Rough Trade (and you really should, it's their album of the month) you get a four-track bonus CD featuring some more diverse tracks. 'Heavy Living Things', from Balam Acab's first ever release, starts things off , with what could well be a sampled pneumatic drill providing some of the backing to this darkly melodic, glitchy track, while 'Long' is an eerie, looped track that never really goes anywhere but still manages to sound rather menacing. With its 'do you still love me?' refrains, 'Still' brings us back to more familiar Balam Acab territory. 'Under' is a lovely way to finish, bringing back the watery theme from the main album matched with some great vocals and a fine melody.

Overall this an outstanding good album that belies Koone's age - it's graceful, assured and utterly beguiling. It is indeed a thing of wonder.

You can listen to three tracks from the album below:

BALAM ACAB - Apart by TriAngleRecords

Balam Acab - Motion by TriAngleRecords

BALAM ACAB - Oh, Why by TriAngleRecords

Monday, 22 August 2011

In Pictures: V Festival 2011 - Chelmsford (Day 2)

Squeeze on the Main Stage
Ocean Colour Scene
Manic Street Preachers played a fast and furious greatest hits set

Living Legend #1 - Nicky Wire performs one of his trademark jumps 
Hurts in the Arena Tent
Big Audio Dynamite in the Arena Tent 
Don Letts
Living Legend #2 - it's Mick Jones!
Pendulum on the 4 Music Stage 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

In Pictures: V Festival 2011 - Chelmsford (Day 1)

Stick 'em up punks - it's the Fun Lovin' Criminals!
Big Country (R.I.P Stuart Adamson)
Aloe Blacc on the 4 Music stage
Kele on the Arena stage

Chipmunk playing a cover of 'Fix Up, Look Sharp'
Kaiser Chiefs on the Main Stage

Katy B - On a mission to entertain

Glasvegas on the Arena stage
Glasvegas - shortly before they walked off stage after only 4 songs...
Dizzee Rascal brought lazers & fireworks for his headline slot on the 4 Music stage

Friday, 19 August 2011

Friday Top Ten - 19/8/11

Listen to this week's Top Ten new tracks and remixes above - it's a fairly laid-back selection this week so kick-back, relax and enjoy. Track listing and details:

  1. Golden Fable - The Golden Hour Free download
  2. Birkwin Jersey - Sixes and Nines Free download
  3. Walls - Sunporch (Holy Other Remix) Free download
  4. Active Child - Hanging On Free download
  5. SBTRKT - Wildfire (Drumma Boy Remix feat. Shabazz Palaces) 
  6. Derek Allen - Hard Act To Follow Free download
  7. S.C.U.M - White Chapel (Light Asylum Remix) Free download
  8. White Denim - Drug (Bjorn Remix) 
  9. Lucky Paul - Demon Spawn (Lucky Paul Refix) Free download
  10. Radiohead - Give Up The Ghost (Thriller Houseghost RMX)
  11. Moby - Lie Down In Darkness (Photek Remix)
  12. tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta (Ad-Rock Remix) Free download

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Recommended music: Radiohead remixes by Thriller, Illum Sphere and Shed

The fourth batch of remixes from The King of Limbs is now available to listen to above. You can buy the downloads from Monday, although the vinyl versions have been delayed (due to the fire at the Sony / Pias warehouse).

Friday, 12 August 2011

Friday Top Ten - 12/8/11

For the past 18 months or so I've been compiling a weekly list of the best 10 or so new tunes around and emailing it to my friends. That was all well and good, but it was a bit one-dimensional, so now I'm pleased to present to you...the Friday Top Ten Mixcloud Broadcast! Have a listen to this week's selection below and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Recommended music: 'Pacer EP' by Offshore

This is the third EP from Ewan Robertson (aka Offshore), ex Aberdonian now living in London. The EP opens with the title track 'Pacer', a deceptively simple start of booming drums and simple chords that gradually builds up layers of melody, chimes and extra percussion while still keeping the driving beat. 'Pepper' is up next, with some Major Lazer-esque rhythms - this one will definitely go down well at the Notting Hill Carnival in a few weeks time.

The middle track on the EP is the highlight. 'Pearls and Butlers' features guest vocals from Cienfuegos and has a darker feel, but is also more organic and warmer than the previous two, slower and more thoughtful. 'Mintlaw' is a brief, ticking instrumental, and is followed by closer 'East Coast Capital Connect' (possibly the first track to specifically name a transport company since The Divine Comedy's 'National Express'). The track itself is far mor eenjoyable than a ride on the said company's trains, being full of dark swathes of chords and sci-fi squelches over a throbbing bass.

'Pacer' is out now on Big Dada Records - you can listen to a sample of the EP below.

Offshore – Pacer EP (preview) by Offffshore

Monday, 8 August 2011

Recommended music: 'Watch The Throne' by Jay-Z & Kanye West

There's been a lot of talk about this album being a piece of history, and undoubtedly it's hard to think of 2 bigger names who you could get to make an album together. With all the weight of expectation behind it, it's hard to know where to start when dissecting the record for a review.

Let's start with what this isn't. In my little opinion, this isn't as good as Yeezy's epic from last year - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It's almost as if that album had the scale that this one deserves, and hence this feels a bit muted in comparison. Not that there aren't some big moments on here, in terms of both songs and production. 'Lift Off' is probably the zenith in terms of collaborations on here, just take a look through the credits - vocals by Beyonce, Seal and Mr Hudson, production by Kanye, Q-Tip & Pharrell, mixed by LMFAO. One of other main problems here is that every time the Jigga raps he blows Kanye off the stage, the quality of his lyrics is just so much better.

Those points aside, this is a good album. There's variety in the tracks, some great samples, and some good & thoughtful words mixed in with the usual bitch/shit/dick dirty talk. A good sign is that, having heard it 3 or 4 times today, I've liked it more every time, and tracks that passed my by at first are already starting to grow on me.

Either way, it's still pretty much an essential hip-hop purchase, and there are a lot worse things you could be spending your money on (or stealing, if you live in looting London at the moment).

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Recommended music: 'We EP' by Dam Mantle

The first release on Dam Mantle's own Get Me! label is this eagerly awaited 12"/download. Regular readers will know that I've been banging on about how good Dam Mantle's new stuff is since I saw him a couple of times at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, and I'm pleased to say that the recorded versions of the tracks he debuted there don't disappoint.

The EP starts off with the immense title track 'We'. By far the longest track that Tom Marshallsay has committed to tape, this is instantly engaging, with skittery beats, hand claps and a chord progressions that's not dissimilar to Moby's 'Go'. Arpeggio'd synths ride the beats before some sampled, mucked about vocals make an appearance. I can picture Tom bouncing about behind his equipment as he puts this together live, layering sounds and beats on top of each other. Three minutes before the end the track breaks down into a vocal loop before building up again into a more percussive and slightly eastern-sounding piece - still recognisable Dam Mantle, but hinting at intriguing new directions for the future.

So then, one track in and already more creative ideas than some bands would put on a whole album. But there's still plenty left to entice you in the other three tracks. 'Meet Me In The Ambulance' is a more frantic track, driven by varying beat patterns, sparser in make-up but no less interesting. Then 'Somnambulate My Dear' has sampled 'oohs' and 'aahs' over a cold,jittery backing of clicks and ticks that is complemented by warm synths. The track ends beat-less, with just resonant, almost organ-like chords.

Finally you get 'Not A Word'. This was my favourite part of Tom's live sets back in March, as he loops his own vocals about 'monks in the cloisters' over fluid beats and effects. This track is effectively a bridge between the 2 EPs he put out last year and the rest of the tracks on here, and as such it feels slightly out of place, less progressive than the 3 tracks you've just listened to. It's still great though and will no doubt go down a storm during his live shows.

Highly recommended - you can buy it at Boomkat here or Rough Trade here, and in the meantime listen to the whole EP below.

WE EP by Dam Mantle

Dam Mantle (Tom Marshallsay) in action at the British Music Embassy, SXSW, March 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011