Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Dripping Down (Luke Abbot Remix) by East India Youth

Interesting mix of this track from one of the best albums of the year so far. Abbott takes the song in a different direction to the original, keeping in a few snatches of vocals but letting the rest of it drift away and take new forms. Have a listen below.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Track of the Day: 'You'll (Probably) Be OK' by Daniel John Marsden

Proof that sometimes all you need is 105 seconds of simplicity to make a good song. The track is taken from Marsden's EP 'Short Songs for Sad Children', which was recorded in just one day. He's heading back into the studio soon to record some more tracks but in the meantime you should track down the rest of the songs from this EP.

PS Great title for a song too!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Track of the Day: 'Tugboat (Galaxie 500 cover)' by Meursault

This track is taken from the new album by Scottis indie mearchants Meursault, 'The Organ Grinder's Monkey', which has just been released on Song, By Toad records. The record was put together using crowd-funding, with money being raised for the specific purpose of funding a trip to this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. As part of the process, those who pledged for the album were able to vote for 5 of the songs that would be included on the record, and one of the winners was this Galaxie 500 cover, which was duly included. The recording process started on 1st February and the whole things is now mixed, mastered, printed and packaged - not a bad work rate! It's a great cover too, well played and with just the right amount of emotion. You can listen and download the track below.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Track of the Day: 'Primary Colours' by Emika

Release today as a free download to draw attention to the plight of those who dies in the Ukraine yesterday, and to support those who continue to fight for freedom. This track was originally on Emika's most recent album 'DVA'. It's a great slice of European electronic, melancholic in tone, that you could easily imagine playing over the end of credits of a darkly mysterious film thriller.

With a Czech mother, Emika was born in England and currently lives in Berlin, so she knows a bit about the inter-connectedness of European people. Let's hope the Ukrainian eaders see sense and understand their people's desire to be closely linked to Europe rather than Russia.

Remix of the Day: 'We Are Explorers (Larry Gus Remix)' by Cut Copy

A brilliantly wonky remix of this track from Cut Copy's latest album 'Free Your Mind' by DFA Records' Larry Gus. Starting with some ramshackle drums, this version then meanders through some chiming, melodic keyboards, before stepping up the antics by adding cowbells and backwards vocals. As the rhythm builds there are jazz trumpets and a shouting man thrown into the mix. It's all a bit mad, which is why I love it.

Listen or download the track for free below.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Recommended music: 'Love To Give' by Halls

This is another album where I've taken my time writing the review, as this is definitely a record to spend some quality time with. Just over a year since his debut album 'Ark' (during which time he managed to fit in a spell modelling for Hedi Slimane in Paris), Sam Howard has delivered a fantastically warm and emotional record. Although at times it feels melancholic, the overall atmosphere is one of positivity and hope. Quiet, reflective moments mix with tracks that build to crescendos, uplifting trumpets the rise to a valiant cry above the music, and a couple of noisy moments that even Mogwai would be proud of.

Musically the emphasis has switched to 'real' instruments and away from electronics. This, along with the recorded ambience of the theatre in Woolwich where the tracks were laid down, give the album an feeling of warm, crackly ambience. With each listen it draws you tighter into its warm embrace, enveloping you and disarming you, and making you fall in love with it again and again.

With a record this good that fits together so well as one listening piece it's hard to pick out highlights, but for me the best bits are probably at the start, the middle and the end. The opening title track 'Love To Give' is a great introduction to the feel of the record, while the centrepiece 'Aria' fills you full of melodies and then throws you off track with a discordant saxophone, before coming back with driving drums and stirring strings. Meanwhile closer 'Body Eraser / Avalanche' is 9 minutes of pure joy and exhilaration as it turns from an almost mournful hymn to a drum-bashing frenzy with layers of guitars and sound.

One top tip for you - if you're going to buy this on a physical format then get it from Rough Trade as their version comes with a 7-track bonus disc with some great extra tracks, including covers of song by Cat Power and The Beach Boys.

You can stream the whole album below.

New video: Supreme Cuts - Envision (feat. Channy of

OK, so I know I featured this as the track of the day a week or so ago. But now it has some great visuals to go with the sounds. I'm not really sure what the connection is between the wintry exterior shots and the dance-off in the laundromat but it's all pretty interesting to watch.

The Supreme Cuts record is my favourite dance album of the year so far, so if you've not heard it yet you should check it out for sure.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Mesmerise (The Time and Space Machine Remix)' by Temples

After working his magic on most of the tracks from Jagwar Ma's debut, Richard Norris has moved his time and space machine onto Temples' sonic structures. The result is a fantastic stream of sunny psychedelia, brimming with melodies and guitars, which is guaranteed to banish the rainy blues. As they celebrate their album entering the charts at number 7, this is the perfect way for you to join the Temples party. Let's hope they set him loose on the rest of the album...

PS If you've not heard the Time and Space Machine dubs of Jagwar Ma's Howlin' you really should try and track them down. To my mind the finished set is a better experience than the original album, it really moves it into 'Screamadelica' territory.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Drunk In Love' by Beyonce feat. Jay-Z - Kanye West, Diplo and The Weeknd remixes

Three for the price of one today, so if you can't get enough of the mental image of Bey doing the surfboard with Jay in the bath then this is the place for you.

As usual with Yeezy remixes he takes up the lion's share of the track. I reckon if I was Jay-Z I'd be pretty pissed off listening to all the things one of my mates wants to do to my wife (in extremely graphic detail) but there's obviously a different code of ethics in the hip-hop world.

Diplo turns in his usual quality remix, with its feet firmly fixed on the dancefloor and a couple of killer drops.

Meanwhile The Weeknd relegates Bey to backing vocals as he sings his own version of the track. Take your pick, I daresay there'll be even more versions tomorrow.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Live review: 2 nights in the company of Marijuana Deathsquads and Poliça

Night 1 - 11th February - Our Black Heart, Camden

Walking into the Black Heart you can see that it's aptly named - it's one of the darkest pubs I've ever been in. But if you squint through the gloom you find a great selection of 'proper' beers, as well as what certainly smells like good food from the kitchen, which is currently run by Smoke'n'Roll. Perfect then for a few drinks before you head upstairs to the venue, which I think holds around 150 punters.

If you've not heard of Marijuana Deathsquads before, they've variously been described as a 'noise collective' and 'Poliça's older, uglier brother'. Both groups are put together and overseen by Ryan Olson (who also formed GAYNGS and various other acts in Minneapolis), with shared members on record and live, so it's no surprise to see a tweet early in the evening to see a tweet from Poliça to say that they are heading to Camden to join in with MDS. Both acts also have (at least) 2 drummers live, and as we walk in we notice that there are actually 3 drum kits set up on the Black Heart's stage. In fact they take up the entirety of the stage, meaning that the remainder of the MDS kit is set up in front of the stage and, in effect, in the audience.

What's better than 2 drummers? 3 drummers of course - the MDS stage set up
The allotted time arrives and 6 members of MDS appear - the three drummers (Ben Ivanescu, Drew Christopher and someone I haven't yet identified), head man Ryan Olson, Mark McGee and 'vocalist' Isaac Gale. After a couple of track they're joined Chris Bierden, and then later Channy Leaneagh emerges, a slight figure dressed in a hoody who seems as completely into the music as the rest of the band. When they're not joining in Channy and Chris stand next to us (which is nice).

After a while I notice that although Olson is constantly talking into his mic, his vocals aren't coming through the speakers. It becomes clear that he's talking to, and instructing, the drummers, all of whom wear headphones as they drum along to the electronic sounds. His role is almost that of a conductor - encouraging the others, telling them when to start and stop etc. I don't know how they concentrate with the constant dialogue, but while he's even laughing and joking with them at some points the drumming is a powerhouse of awesomeness throughout the show.

(l-r) Mark, woman in audience, Ryan, back of Isaac's head, unnamed drummer
During a few conversations these past few days we've been trying to work out exactly what genre you'd fit MDS into if you had to pigeonhole them.'Drums and shouting' was suggested by Tuesday night's companion, but that doesn't do their sound justice. There are layers upon layers of drums, music and vocals, producing a proverbial wall of sound that completely absorbs and envelops you. And an (unwanted) scientific experiment on Tuesday has confirmed that 3 drummers in unison can produce enough rhythm to vibrate an almost full pint glass completely off the shelf you've carefully put it on, splashing its contents (Neanderthal ale since you asked) down the back of your legs.

Having had the chance for a quick chat with Isaac and Ben after the gig it's apparent that as well as being an awesome band they're thoroughly nice blokes as well. I bid them goodnight and head home, the sounds of 'Ewok Sadness' and 'Wave' still reverberating through my brain. I wouldn't be surprised if in years to come this show is like the Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall - hundreds of people will claim to have been there.

Channy and yours truly after the show, 11/2/14
Night 2 - 12th February - The Troxy, Limehouse

It's blowing up a storm as we walk down the Commercial Road to art deco venue The Troxy, an ex-cinema then bingo hall which has been well restored with a great sound system, and which is metaphorically a million miles away from the Black Heart. I'd seen other acts here before (Jarvis Cocker, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave, New Order) but had never been right down the front on the barrier, something that I was able to achieve for this show. Only 2 drummers for MDS this time, but the sound was great through the bigger system, and with smoke and lights they looked to be a band easily capable of filling a bigger stage (I reckoned the Troxy stage to be the size of the entire venue from the the previous night).

A pretty good visual representation of the MDS sound (l-r) Isaac, Mark, Ryan & Ben onstage at The Troxy 12/2/14
Channy still joined them for a couple of tracks at the end, and while it might not have been as intense and full-on as the previous show it still seemed to convert a fair few people standing near me. I snatched 90 second of 'Ewok Sadness' before my phone ran out of memory which you can see below.

On to headliners Poliça, who to me are a much more appealing prospect live than they are on record. Their first album in particular never really achieved what it could have (to my ears), although good progress has been made with the second. Live though, the presentation of the songs with 2 drummers, a bass guitarist and Channy on vocals gives them a new dimension. I think she's a captivating and powerful frontwoman with a real style and voice of her own, and it's pretty mesmerising to watch her.

Channy Leaneagh, Polica at The Troxy, London 12/2/14
Over the course of 90 minutes they played nearly all of the songs from the 2 records, as well as a cover version. Ryan Olson joined them to twiddle knobs a couple of times, and I spotted Isaac Gale taking photos and filming from both sides of the stage - one of his other jobs is as a video director for the likes of Bon Iver and Dark Dark Dark.

Accidentally arty photo of Channy and Ryan
Overall I've had 2 great nights out, and I get the impression they all did too. There's a sense of camaraderie between them, they're like an extended family or a gang (or maybe a Gayng?). I hope MDS come back to London soon, and in the meantime if they pass anywhere near your door make sure you go and see them.

Monday, 10 February 2014

New podcast: Austerity Audio vol. 15

The second Austerity Audio mix of 2014 is (IMHO) even better than the first one. Packed with 10 tracks, diverse but each one equally brilliant, it's the perfect antidote to the February blues.

Each of the track has been available to (legally) download for free over the past couple of weeks. To listen to the podcast just click on the picture above, or to download it just right click and 'save as'. And if you really like any of the tracks then why now spend a few pence and buy something by that artist next time you have some cash to spare. Here's the tracklist:

  1. Coduroi - Coral Colors
  2. Jon Phonics presents Tabanca - With Direction (Slugabed Remix)
  3. Phoenix - SOS In Bel Air (Jackson and His Computer Band Remix)
  4. Toy - Conductor (Mikey Young Remix)
  5. Blood Orange - On The Line (Star Slinger Edit)
  6. Lemmy Ashton - Breaker Breaker
  7. Gentle Friendly - Autumn Night
  8. Menace Beach - Fortune Teller
  9. Broken Bells - Control (Midnight Mix)
  10. Vancouver Sleep Clinic - Vapour

Video of the Day: 'Waves' by Halls

To coincide with the release of his astonishingly good second album 'Love To Give' (review to follow later in the week), Halls has put out this video for one of the tracks from it, 'Waves'. Looking like a cross between an alien abduction and an episode of 'The Returned', it's black and white moods perfectly match the atmosphere of the album. If you like what you hear you can catch him live at The Shacklewell Arms next Monday.

Track of the Day: 'Coral Colors' by Corduroi

It's always good to hear new stuff from Austin artist Cody Wilson a.k.a. Corduroi. Smooth but glitchy, then one bounces along with some great keyboard melodies and snatches of sampled vocals, with a great bit in the middle that almost sounds like the riff from a film theme. Best of all, it's free, so grab it below.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Track of the Day: 'Breaker Breaker' by Lemmy Ashton

If you're about to put on your dancing shoes and head out for a Saturday night then this is the perfect track to send you on your way. Brand new but retro as fuck, this is as dirty as disco gets. you can grab the track for free as part of a 3 track EP that Ashton has just released.

Friday, 7 February 2014

New mixtape: DJ Cull presents Trans-Europe Express

If you were listening to Barricade Radio last night you would've heard this played out. Cloud and Owl asked me to do a one hour guest mix for their Insurgent Souls radio show, and this is what I came up with.

I'd heard a couple of tunes recently where the rhythm reminded me of the movement of a train, so I came up with the idea of a themed mix for a train ride round Europe. There's 11 tracks, from 9 different countries, that take you on a journey through cities and countryside. The full tracklist is below, together with the places that the tracks represent. To listen to the mix just click on the picture above, or for a cheeky free download right click and 'save as'.

  1. East India Youth - Hinterland; London, England
  2. René Roussel - Caramel (Plancher de L'Usine Remix by DJ Cull); Paris, France
  3. Seams - Rilo; Berlin, Germany
  4. Soulwax - Another Excuse (DFA Remix); Ghent, Belgium
  5. Clapan - The Back of Silence; Krasnodar, Russia
  6. Kraftwerk - Metropolis; Düsseldorf, Germany
  7. Trentemøller - Deceive (feat. Sune Rose Wagner); Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. Vår - Boy; Copenhagen, Denmark
  9. Gidge - For Seoul (Applescal Remix); Umea, Sweden
  10. Sau Poler - Rutes; Barcelona, Spain
  11. Koreless - Never; Glasgow, Scotland

Thursday, 6 February 2014

New music: 'Let's Dance (Yak Inek Unek)' by Ibibio Sound Machine

This massively infectious and upbeat track is the product of a band that are as influenced by classic West African funk and disco as they are modern post-punk and electro. The 8 band members are led by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, who fills her songs full of the African folk tales that her mother used to tell her.

With increased attention on African sounds via the likes of Africa Express and the resurgence of William Onyeabor, the omens look good for their debut album, which is released on 14th March on Soundway Records.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Track of the Day: 'Brandished' by Wertheimer

This, my friends, is what can only be referred to as a Massive Tune (with a capital M and a capital T). Newly signed to Lex Records (home of Doom amongst others), Wertheimer have created a brooding masterpiece - 9 minutes of dark electronics and massive beats to take you through the long night. Hard-edged but not brutal, this is a tough loner of a record that you'd certainly get out of the way of, if it walked towards you down a dark alley. There's a hint of Burial for sure, and maybe a snatch of Mondkopf, but that's all to the good.

I've been unable to find out anything about the band (the name is pretty-much in-Googleable), even Lex Records, who've signed them, haven't got much on their website. The track is from a 3-track EP that will be released as a limited run of 500 on grey vinyl on 24th February - you can order a copy here.

Video of the Day: 'Basic Instinct' by The Acid

A fantastic new video from this previously mysterious group, who have now revealed themselves to be Ry X, Steve Nalepa and Adam Freeland (a.k.a. Adam F, yes, that one, the son of Alvin Stardust). Hooking up almost by accident, this group of friends have together created something that's a step away from each of their individual outputs. The track itself reminds me a bit of UNKLE, more so as it progresses.

The track is taken from their forthcoming 'The Acid' EP, which will be out on April 14 through Infectious Records.

Remix of the Day: 'SOS In Bel Air (Jackson and His Computer Band Remix)' by Phoenix

This is one of those remixes where I've never heard the original, and I'm not sure if I'll ever need to, given that this is just under 10 minutes of near perfection. Great beats, fantastic synths, airy vocals, tinkly pianos, squelchy bass notes - it's got all of this and more.

I'm not sure which bits Messieurs Phoenix are responsibly for, and which bits belong to Jackson and his technological band, but the combination is fantastic. It reminds me a bit of the Time & Space Dubs of Jagwar Ma's album last year (if you haven't got them you must track them down) and makes me long for a whole album of Phoenix remixes.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Track of the Day: 'Envision (feat. Channy from Polica)' by Supreme Cuts

I'm a sucker for anything with Channy Leaneagh's voice on it, so having bought the Supreme Cuts album today this is the track that caught my eye. It's the sort of intelligent electronic dance music (note the non-use of capitals) that sadly can get overlooked amid the big hitting wub-wub basslines. Brilliant production, great melodies and Channy's vocals combine to make a classy, mature sounding track that deserves to be a massive hit (which means it probably won't be). Channy's in London with Polica next week, and Supreme Cuts will be here the week after, so I guess they'll miss each other, but maybe they'll hook up at festivals over the summer.

Remix of the Day: 'Conductor (Mikey Young Remix)' by Toy

At first glance it might be hard to figure out exactly what's changed in this track, especially if you're not overly familiar with the original. The changes are subtle, but there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The hard-edged guitars have been removed, the synths softened, the sharp edges knocked off, and the result is a cosmically blissful track that starts off with your head in the clouds and ends with your feet on the dancefloor. You could almost call this remix ' Parts 1 & 2', as almost exactly halfway through the track metamorphoses into an even slinkier, dancier affair . Almost as good as the mix itself is the fact that you can download it for free - grab it below.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Recommended music: 'Greatest It's' by Yong Yong

For their second album Portugese duo Yong Yong have relocated to Glasgow, with interesting results. Swapping the sunshine of Lisbon for Scotland's biggest city has produced a more focused, structured sound that sometimes even strays onto the dancefloor. Sure, there are still woozy, eerie atmospherics and crackly ambience, and bits were you think you've got a duff copy of the record 'cos the sound keeps breaking up, but overall this set hangs together much better than their début album 'Love'.

There are a couple of points on the record that remind me of The KLF's ambient classic 'Chill Out', but to counterbalance that there's disembodied rapping (on 'Sesamstraat'), crunching beats ('Maca Lu-Lu) and spoken-word extracts (The Valley). If you listen to it all the way through in one go (which you should) this is a record that envelops you, packs you up and takes you to its own private universe, full of dark corners and fog, but occasionally shot through with flashes of sunlight.

'Greatest It's' is out now on the ever-interesting Night School Records, from whom you can order you vinyl copy here. Listen to the whole album below.

Remix of the Day: 'Jerk Ribs (Mount Kimbie Remix)' by Kelis

The new album by Kelis certainly has a lot of promise - recorded and produced by the legendary Dave Sitek, and being released on the equally-legendary Ninja Tune label, it's going to be her most honest record yet, and one which should hopefully re-establish her at the top of her game.

This new remix of lead track 'Jerk Ribs' is performed with aplomb by electronic duo Mount Kimbie, who put their own stamp on it without losing the warm feel of the original.

The album 'Food' is out on 21st March - you can pre-order it from Ninja Tune here.