Saturday, 31 March 2012

Recommended music: 'AwE NaturalE' by THEESatisfaction

THEESatisfaction are Stas and Cat, a duo based in Seattle who have been slowly getting a name for themselves since they started releasing mixtapes in 2008. This, their first 'proper' release, has just come out on Sub Pop Records, and it's a brilliant blend of hip-hop, '70s soul and '80s funk, with a bit of electro thrown in for good measure. Although clearly coming from a hip-hop / rap background, the pair seem as comfortable and accomplished whether rapping or singing, allowing them to switch between the two with ease, kind of like a duo of Lauryn Hills.

The brief instrumental 'awE' opens the album, and quickly takes us into 'Bitches' which is just bass, percussion and handclaps, while the girls sing and rap over the top. 'Earthseed' features a mellow piano melody, with mostly sung vocals before a short rap at the end where, in true hip-hop style, they namedrop themselves.

'QueenS' is built around a repetitive groove, over which the girls offer to cure your ills - "let the musicians be your physicians" - and then 'Existinct' drops some smooth, jazzy vibes. 'Deeper' is exactly that, with a more electronic backing track and lyrics about looking beyond the colour of someone's skin to get to know them properly.

Next track up 'Sweat' builds an Earth, Wind and Fire-type groove under another mix of spoken and sung vocals, which gives way to the instrumental 'Juiced'. Featuring an unnamed guest male rapper at the start (unsurprisingly it turns out to be Shabazz Palaces, whose album the girls guested on last year) , 'God' is probably the most substantial track on the album, with some great lyrical flows and some interesting beats.

'Enchantruss' was the first track I heard from the album earlier in the year - it has a hypnotic feel that draws you in, and some great lyrics that mention Orson Welles, Archie Bunk and Jesus in the same verse - I particularly like the line "the black Jesus, which means of course he's white" - is this having a dig at Kanye West I wonder? A change of pace is provided by 'Needs', which is a mellow song about the girls' need to prove themselves. The weird 'Crash' is a minute long, and the only lyrics it contains are 'zero' and 'one', sung in a binary way - I imagine this is some sort of commentary on the economic state of the world (I could be completely wrong about this of course, but I like to give it some meaning, because if not the track is a complete waste of space). The album ends with 'naturalE', with Stas and Cat calling themselves the 'Queens of the Stoned Age' - this is another really strong track with varied beats, sung lyrics and raps, pretty much summing up the feel of the whole album in one track.

Any criticisms? Well, although it's got 13 tracks the album is only 30 minutes long, which is too brief for a debut album - surely they had more good material available than just these? I'm not asking for an overblown epic, but when most of the tracks are 3 minutes or less you could do with a few more of them. And their habit of randomly dropping capitaL letterS into song titles is irritating when you come to write about them. But really I'm just being picky about what is really a cool, sassy and intelligent debut album from THEESatisfaction.

You can grab yourself a free download of 'Enchantruss' below.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Live: in pictures & videos - Slow Club / Spaceships Are Cool / Wildeflower at Village Underground, London 27/3/12

Slow Club on stage at the Attitude Is Everything night at Village Underground
A great evening last night, put on by Attitude Is Everything to raise funds and awareness for their campaign to improve access at gigs for disabled and deaf people. First up were Wildeflower, playing the type of music first popular long before they were born (a bit folk and a bit prog), but doing a decent job of it.
Next on were Spaceships Are Cool - with a mixture of old synths, theremins and some normal instruments as well, they were poppier than I was expecting, and pretty enjoyable.
Spaceships Are Cool (not only the band's name, but an undeniably true fact)
Headliners and highlight of the evening were Slow Club, playing their first gig in the UK since their trip to SXSW a couple of weeks ago. With a set mixing tracks from both of their albums they were in fine form, as you can see from the videos below. First up is a great rendition of 'If We're Still Alive':

and then there's one of my favourite tracks from Paradise, 'Never Look Back':

It's worth mentioning at this point that throughout the evening there were a couple of guys on the side of the stage doing sign language for all of the song lyrics. This led to the most amusing moment of the evening - for their encore Slow Club played a slowed down version of Pulp's 'Disco 2000'. As we got to the line "You were the first girl at school to get breasts" pretty much everyone turned to the guy signing to see how it would be translated - I can confirm that the sign for "breasts" is pretty much what you would expect it to be!

After Slow Club finished there was a DJ set from Ghostpoet - I had to make a dash for the train unfortunately, but here's a snap of him setting up.
Ghostpoet preparing for his DJ set

Monday, 26 March 2012

New Music Mix - 25/3/12

A round-up of some of the new tracks I've been listening to over the past couple of weeks. Just press the Play button above to listen, track details are:

  1. Crook & Flail - Freelance Exist
  2. GoldFFinch - Outer Twigs
  3. Santigold - Disparate Youth (The 2 Bears Remix)
  4. D/R/U/G/S - Hyperdream Clap
  5. Photek & Pinch - Acid Reign (Pinch's Dubplate Version)
  6. The Invisible - Protection
  7. Balam Acab - Come True
  8. Riz MC - All Of You (feat. Plan B)
  9. Apollo Brown & OC - Prove Me Wrong
  10. Oddisee - Slow It Down
  11. My Panda Shall Fly & Benjamin Jackson - Data-Module
  12. Gonjasufi - Houndogs

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Recommended music: 'Free Time!' by Pinkunoizu

The hotly-anticipated debut album from Danish outfit Pinkunoizu (Japanese for Pink Noise, as you might've guessed) has arrived, and it's a brilliant achievement, stuffed so full of ideas and styles that it's hard to know where to start with it. With a lot of the tracks moving seamlessly into the next, this is definitely a record that you should listen to as a whole, as you immerse yourself into the high-concept lo-fi psychedelia that manages to sound like it's been made in the four corners of the globe, and the middle of outer space, all at the same time.

The album features a couple of tracks from last year's 'Peep' EP, starting with the opener 'Time Is Like A Melody', a lilting, melodic tune that's a bit reminiscent of Animal Collective as it builds to the looped crescendo at the end. This flows into 'Myriad Pyramid', which starts with the sound of the muezzin calling us to prayer. With percussion driving the track, there are some eastern themes in the melodies, some bleepy electronics in the background, and some almost spaghetti-western guitar, while overall the song has a bit of an MGMT feel to it. Talking of guitar, third track 'Cyborg Manifesto' takes the western feel up a few gears, and features the most surprising slide guitar solo that I've heard in a record for a long time.

Track four is the second 'Peep' track, 'Everything Is Broken Or Stolen', a fantastic journey through African and Eastern percussion and rhythmns which slowly winds its way into your head, stopping only for a radio retune halfway through. 'Parabolic Delusions' ends side one, it's perky Japanese pop tune making the perfect 3 minute pop song, complete with handclaps, saxes, a funky synth bassline and some suitably off-balance lyrics - "Like an endless loop of American troops, I will come for you".

Side 2 steps up the psychedelia, while generally being calmer and more spaced out. Just 3 tracks take up its 24 minutes, starting with 'The Abyss'. Wafting in on a sea of guitars, this gentle track soothes your soul, before letting rip with a great guitar solo at the end. Next up is 'Death Is Not A Lover', 9 minutes of trippy sounds, that starts with just an acoustic guitar and vocals, moves through an Eastern vocal and drums section into a brief country lament, and ends with some pounding bass and spoken words, followed by more MGMT-type singing and a general freak-out at the end. As a track it's a perfect microcosm of the album experience as a whole. Lastly comes 'Somber Ground', starting with some Mongolian throat-singing (or something similar), the first half is a downbeat guitar and vocals section, while the second half really lets rip, with saxes blaring, driving rhythms and a great male/female vocal to finish up with, before the studio pixies mangle the tapes at the end.

In terms of scale and ambition, this is probably the 2012 equivalent of last year's Gang Gang Dance album, but it delivers even more that that great record did. The way some of the eastern refrains are woven into the music reminds me at times of the way Matt Johnson used to use these influences, both on his solo album 'Burning Blue Soul' and on some of his The The stuff like 'Sweet Bird of Truth' and 'Armageddon Days Are Here Again'

If, no when, you decide to buy it, make sure you get the vinyl (available at Rough Trade) - not only does it sound great but it comes with a download code for the whole album plus two bonus tracks, the 12 minute epic 'Lacuna Island' and the more compact 'My Vacant Home'.

I don't give scores on this blog, but for this I'm going to make an exception - it's definitely a 5 stars, 10/10 record. Buy it now!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'Propagation' by Lower Dens

I featured the new Lower Dens' single 'Brains' a few weeks back, and now you get to hear 'Propagation', which will be the B-side of the single (out on Monday), and will also be on the album 'Nootropics', which is released on 30th April.

Based on the 2 tracks released so far the album is definitely shaping up to be on of the best records of the year - I've just ordered my copy on limited edition black and gold vinyl. If you want to do the same you can get it here:

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'A$$' by Buraka Som Sistema

Every bit as good as the Zebra Katz track I put up a week or 2 ago, this is a booty-shaking bootyleg from the Portugese crew. In fact, if you played them one after the other, there would be dancefloor carnage. Listen and download below.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'Pads of Light' by White Hills

Some full-on space-rock for your Friday! Taken from their new album 'Frying On This Rock', which is out Monday on Thrill Jockey Records, this is a blisteringly to the point full throttle rock-out, with an incendiary guitar solo at the end. Listen and download below.

White Hills - Pads of Light

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'It's Not Over (Dimitri From Paris EuroMix) by Holy Ghost!

Got this in the post on 12" the other day, and when I played it I couldn't believe how much it reminded me of the classic Shep Pettibone 12" mix of New Order's 'True Faith'. So for your entertainment, you can listen to a piece of the Holy Ghost! track above, and then below you get to hear Holy Ghost! followed by New Order - see if you can tell the difference!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Another new music mix...

This is a mix I did for my friends over at The Rock Club. Essentially it's load of new music from the first couple of months of 2012 - basically stuff that I like but which didn't fit the vibe of the mixes that I've been making. Click the play button below to listen, you can find the tracklisting after the jump.

  1. Richard Hawley and The Death Ramps - You And I
  2. Howler - Back Of Your Neck
  3. Lee Ranaldo - Off The Wall
  4. Tribes - Sappho
  5. Prinzhorn Dance School - I Want You
  6. Trailer Trash Tracys - I Love How You Love Me In The Flesh
  7. Perfume Genius - Hood
  8. Husband - Flowers
  9. Errors - Tusk
  10. Weirdgear - Heat of the Midday Sun
  11. DJ Food - Giant (feat. Matt Johnson)
  12. Reptar - Stuck In My ID
  13. Matthew Dear - In The Middle (I Met You There)(feat. Jonny Pierce)
  14. Milagres - Glowing Mouth
  15. Jagwar Ma - Come Save Me
  16. Retribution Gospel Choir - The Stone (Revolution!)
  17. Meg Baird - Beatles and The Stones
  18. Withered Hand - Gethsemane
  19. Damien Jurado - Nothing Is The News
  20. Bitches - Kill Birds, Eat Shit

Sunday, 11 March 2012

New Music Mix - 11/3/12

Loads of new music around at the moment, so here's another 11 tracks to set your ears on fire. Just click on the play button above to listen, tracklisting below.

  1. THEESatisfaction - QueenS
  2. Dangermouse & Jemini - Knuckle Sandwich 2
  3. Zebra Katz - Ima Read
  4. Pixelord - Keramika (Naive Machine Remix)
  5. Venetian Snares - Fool The Detector
  6. Shlohmo - Rained The Whole Time (Nicolas Jaar Remix)
  7. Andreya Triana - Lost Where I Belong (Banks Remix)
  8. Al Tourettes - Swan Sketch (Datasette Remix)
  9. Akkord - Back & Forth
  10. Jagwar Ma - Come Save Me
  11. Bitches - #PRAYFORBUSTER (w/Foot Village)

Track of the Day: 'Ima Read' by Zebra Katz

        A throbbing, foul mouthed, epic slice of hip hop from Mad Decent. Over a relentless backing, Zebra Katz and his co-star Njena Reddd Foxxx leave you in no uncertain terms as to how they will 'read that bitch' ('reading' meaning to verbally insult an opponent about something not immediately apparent to everyone). Guaranteed to floor you!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'The Look (Camo & Krooked Remix)' by Metronomy

I have to admit, the first time I heard this, I really didn't like it. But as the track went on I got more and more into it, and by the end I was enjoying it so much I had to put it straight back on again. It almost falls into the 'so wrong it's right' category, so give it a few minutes and see what you think.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'Something About The Fire (Carlos Serrano mix) by Adele vs. Daft Punk

I haven't heard a good mash-up for a while, but this one certainly hits the spot. Mixing Adele's 'Set Fire To The Rain' with Daft Punk's 'Something About Us', Carlos Serrano has created a smooth slice of after-dinner jazz-funk, and in doing so provides a potential new direction for Adele's third album. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure, but let yourself enjoy it! Listen and download above.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

New Music Mix - 5/3/12

Hot on the heels of last week's comes another new mix for you - this one's a bit less full-on and a bit more varied. Just click on the Play button above to enjoy - here's the track listing for you:
  1. Akkord - The Drums
  2. Mo Kolours - Banana Wine
  3. Hodgy Beats - In A Dream
  4. Lucky Paul - Elephant Island (feat. Maria TK)
  5. Evy Jane - Ohso
  6. Cadence Weapon - 88
  7. THEESatisfaction - Enchantruss
  8. Phenomenal Handclap Band - The Written Word
  9. Hodgy Beats - Bullshittin'
  10. Clams Casino - Swervin' (Remix Instrumental)
  11. Lower Dens - Brains
  12. Chromatics - Into The Black

Monday, 5 March 2012

Track of the Day: 'Nova' by Burial + Four Tet

From out of nowhere comes this ace new tune from the two masters, a classic mellow slice of uplifiting music. Enjoy!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Track of the Day - 'Enchantruss' by THEESatisfaction

Fresh new signings to Sub Pop, THEESatisfaction are Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White. They met at the University of Washington, and have come together to make music that's a fascinating mix of hip-hop, feminist blaxploitation movies, funk and rap. Their album 'Awe Naturale' is released at the end of this month, and from it you can listen to and download 'Enchantruss' above. Sign up below and you can also get 'QueenS'.

Friday, 2 March 2012

New Music Mix - 2/3/12

This week's mix of top new tunes - just press play above, and then try to keep still! Track details:

  1. Sufjan Stevens - Futile Devices (Shigeto Remix)
  2. The 2 Bears - Heart of the Congos
  3. SBTRKT - Hold On (SiSi BakBak Rmx)
  4. Mondkopf - Ease Your Pain (Jesse Somfay Erase Your Pain Refraction)
  5. Mark Stewart vs Primal Scream - Autonomia (Pinch's Apocalyptic Rework)
  6. Jonquil - It's My Part (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Remix)
  7. Adryan & Sandrino - Either Or (Marcus Sur Remix)
  8. Daniel Avery - Airstrike (Tom Furse Remix)
  9. Errors - Magna Encarta
  10. Wooden Shjips - Crossing (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Live: In pictures & video - Phenomenal Handclap Band / Dead Cannons at Hooga, Chelmsford 1/3/12

The Phenomenal Handclap Band - live in Chelmsford 1/3/12
My first trip to the Hooga in Chelmsford (I'm sure it won't be my last) was for what turned out to be the gig of the year (so far). I'm still not sure how Hooga managed to pull off booking the phenomenal Phenomenal Handclap Band, but this could well turn out to be one of those legendary nights that people speak of in hushed tones in years to come - "Do you remember the time the Phenomenal Handclap Band played Chelmsford?"

First up was local(ish) band Dead Cannons, from Colchester. They've got a bag full of melodies and hooks, some very Coldplay-esque guitar riffs, and were surprisingly good.

Dead Cannons on stage
If you put the word 'phenomenal' in your band name you've clearly got a lot to live up to, but the Phenomenal Handclap Band more than manage it. Taking to the stage, appropriately enough, to handclaps, they gave us the tightest hour of live music that I've seen in a long, long time. Mixing tracks from their new album 'Form and Control' with older stuff like '15 to 20' and 'I Been Born Again' they had us clapping, dancing, stomping and singing, and were definitely enjoying themselves as much as we were, as you can see in the video below.

The hour they played flew by, and by the end of the gig they were crowned as my new favourite live band. Not only were they all kinds of awesome as a band, but they were genuinely nice people too, happy to chat afterwards. If you get a chance to see them then do so, or you'll live to regret it.