Friday, 17 October 2014

Track of the Day: 'No Better Blues' by Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment

Think you're having a bad day? Just be grateful you're not Chance The Rapper - he hates everything, everyone hates him, and life's got no better since he found fame. That's the gist of this track, although as he's already had to point out on social media, his message is a satirical one and is delivered with his tongue firmly in his cheek. It's a shame that people have focused on the 'I hate white people' line without recognising that the line before it is 'I hate rascists'.

Anyway, here's the track, it's free to download, and I love its melancholy feel.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

New music: 'David Woodcock' by David Woodcock

"Here lies the end of me, it's all getting dark and hard to see,
Time takes its toll on me, but it couldn't be clearer,
The Evening Echo call it the end of an era"

The début album from Southend's David Woodcock is full of wry observations on life and quiet nods towards his home town. When you come from the same are it almost makes you feel part of an in joke, as you recognise places like The Railway Hotel and Pier Hill. And I've been reading the Evening Echo's local news for local people since I was in short trousers (I've even been in it a few times) so I'm familiar with their hyperbole (and poor spelling).

But you don't have to be an Essex boy or girl to appreciate the warmth of Woodcock's wit. Though it's true that David's music is currently getting a lot of support on BBC 6music from North Essex luminary Steve Lamacq, anyone with even a slight sense of the eccentric or a taste for quirky Englishness will enjoy the cut of his jib. With his voice sounding like Damon Albarn at his most 'mockney' and a talent for shoehorning lyrics into melodies like Ian Dury (especially on 'Same Things') he scampers his way though love and loss. If you'd seen him on a bill singing 'Open Secret' between Squeeze and Madness back in the day he would've fitted right in.

There's a strongly confessional feel to the songwriting here, although they can't all be true. Apart from anything else, one minute he's pleading the fact that just because he's never left the country doesn't mean he's boring (on 'The Adventures of You and Me') and the next he's telling tales of 'Springtime in New York'. But I'm sure a lot of people will identify with his status of being a 'Relatively Single Man' - going nowhere with no back-up plan. By the time you get to album closer 'I Forgot To Miss You (late night at The Railway Hotel) you really do feel like you've spent a night in the pub with him.

So if you fancy a bit of end of the pier revelry, especially if that pier's the longest pleasure pier in the world, then give David Woodcock a try. And maybe buy him a Drambuie next time you see him in The Railway Hotel...

Recommended music: 'Redinho' by Redinho

It's taken me a while to work out if I like this record or not, but now I've decided that I really really do it's time to write about it.

Three years in the making, Redinho's brand of cyber-funk may be a bit too retro for some people's tastes, but there's no denying that he does what he does very well. In this age of trying to disguise the use of auto-tune and hiding vocal tweaking, it's great to hear full-on Zapp-style Roger Troutman talk-box vocals. It's not just restricted to 70s throwbacks either - 'Going Nowhere' seems to have borrowed the major part of the bassline from early 80s smash 'I Found Lovin'' by The Fatback Band. And if you're of a certain age (i.e. mine!) and you can listen to album opener 'Stinger' without thinking of 'Ride Like The Wind' by Christopher Cross I'll be very surprised.

It's not all retro though - 'Say I Want You' could easily be by one of the new breed of electonic artists like Gold Panda or Koreless, and the skittery sounds of 'Searching' would never never have been acceptable in the 70s. Throughout the album there are layers and layers of sounds and harmonised vocals built up on each other that reward repeated listening and ensure that there's always something new here to sink your teeth into.

'Redinho' is out now on Numbers Records.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Recommended music: 'Cosmic Logic' by Peaking Lights

If the music you release is an good indication of how things are going in your life, then all must be pretty good in the Peaking Lights camp right now. Husband and wife team Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis have made an upbeat electro-pop-dub record that's surely designed for sunshine and good times, rather than their previous releases which were more made for late nights, weed and relaxing. I guess having two kids can make your life change like that.

The murky, scratchy, lo-fi dub of old had been replaced with bright and crisp electronics that in places almost veers towards eurobeat. The one constant is Indra's floaty voice, which swoops and wafts over the backing. Album opener 'Infinite Trips' is a bit of a red herring - it's not trippy, and it's also not very much like the rest of the tracks on the album. 'Telephone Call', which is next up, is a much better indication of things to come, in which Indra signs about phone calls from space and seems to be more than a bit influenced by The Space Lady. Later on, 'Everyone and Us' has a bassline that really reminds me of 'Giant' by The The, although it's probably highly unlikely that they (or even you dear reader) will have heard that. 'Eyes To Sea' (I love that title) is built around a hypnotically repetitive electronic loop, and is followed by 'Bad With The Good', which seems to have stolen all of its keyboard and drum settings straight from the 80s - like a lot of the songs on here it's refreshingly simple and uncomplicated.

'New Grrls' is lyrically the best song on the album, telling how Indra tries to balance being a mum and a wife with being in a band, before listing role models like Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Yoko Ono and Lydia Lunch. Even if it does sound a bit like Ace of Base 'Breakdown' is a brilliantly catchy tune, and 'Tell Me Your Song' then closes the standard version of the album with a whirligig waltz.

I bought the vinyl version which comes with an extra 12" with remixes of 'Breakdown' and 'Bad With The Good', both of which are excellent. Overall this is probably their most consistently good album and one which is well worth your hard earned pounds or dollars.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Recommended music: 'You're Dead' by Flying Lotus

First things first - this is by no means an easy listen. Don't think you can just put it on in the background and do other stuff because if you do it might just sound abrasive. But turn and face the music, give it your full attention, and you'll be rewarded with a fully immersive journey into death and the afterlife. Also, don't be put off if you don't like the start, the first few tracks (side 1 of the double vinyl) are by far my least favourite of what Steven Ellison has served up here. But stick with it, because from the moment you put side 2 on and Kendrick Lamar joins in on 'Never Catch Me' it turns into a magical, wonderful record, full of twists and turns, light and shade, explosive moments and quiet corners.

There's been a lot of talk about this being a 'jazz' album, and if you had to pigeon-hole it then that's probably where it would end up. It's so much more than that though. If it is jazz then it's certainly jazz for the 21st or even 22nd century. There's other styles as well though; 'Coronus, the Terminator' is a hip-hop / soul hybrid, while 'Ready Err Not' recalls his earlier electronic influences. Throughout the album the amazing bass stylings of Thundercat take flight, as he runs up and down the frets and lightning speed. He also adds vocals to some of the tracks, along with the Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg. Elsewhere FlyLo's alter-ego makes a couple of appearances, as does Herbie Hancock on keyboards.

I think it's great that in this day and age people like Flying Lotus are still making committed, unflinching, uncommercial albums like this - sure the Lamar track will draw a few people in, but really this is the sound of Ellison taking all of his culture and heritage and wrapping it up exactly how he wants it to sound.

A word on the packaging - the vinyl boxset is lavishly put together, with a fully-printed gatefold holding the original album, with printed inner sleeves, plus another two slabs of vinyl with instrumental versions of all the track. You also get a full download of both the standard and instrumental tracks.

Inside the Flying Lotus 'You're Dead' gatefold

Friday, 3 October 2014

New music: 'Skulls' by Röyksopp

Like many people, Röyksopp are predicting the end of the album format. Their new release will be called 'The Inevitable End' and they've stressed that it will be their last one - but they're still gonna make music. Which is just as well if this little beast of a tune is anything to go by. Like a combination of all the best bits of Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, Daft Punk and Justice, it worms its way into your skull and grips your brain from within. Play it loud for maximum effect - like they say, if you wanna ride with them tonight then this is the best soundtrack...

Track of the Day: 'Teenage Exorcists' by Mogwai

Contrary Scottish buggers Mogwai have got a new EP (Music Industry 3. Fitness Industry 1) out at the start of December, featuring three new tracks and three remixes of songs from their recent 'Rave Tapes' album. To highlight this they've set the opening track 'Teenage Exorcists' upon us, which turns out to be the last thing you'd expect from them i.e. a 3-minute, fully vocal, upbeat track that's the closest thing they've made to a pop song in possibly forever. This turns out to be extremely disconcerting, but does show that it all goes tits up for them they may have a future writing hits for 5 Seconds of Summer.

Remix of the Day: 'My Song 5 (Movement version) by Haim

It's hard to describe what Movement have done to this, apart from to say that they've made it sound completely and utterly unlike Haim. Seriously, I had to go back and read the description of it again to make sure that it wasn't a cover version rather than a remix. It's a slowed down, toned down, beatdown version which makes the track sound 50 times more menacing and disturbed than it did originally. There's a free download too, so grab it now and stick it on your headphones.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

New music: 'There's No Underground' by Papernut Cambridge

"Don't draw the curtains shut, or make the dark too bright,
You can just put on a record so your head's alright"

The second album from Ian Button's Papernut Cambridge, and it's a slightly shambolic and ramshackle ride through the south-east London of today and yesteryear. The title, you see, work on two levels  as well as there being no underground movement to speak of in popular music today, there's also (literally) no Underground and the train services come to a halt where the postcodes change from London to Kent.

Joined by luminaries and peers such as Darren Hayman, Robert Rotifer, Jack Hayter and more, Button has created a record that's shot through with classic iinfluences from the Small Faces and the Kinks to The Auteurs and Blur. Here you'll find undeniably English melodies with a 21st century edge.

One of my favourites on the record is 'The Day The Government Went On Strike', a (cautionary?) tale about our leaders putting down their pens, walking out into the sunshine and saying "You run the country yourselves and see how you like it". It's two minutes of eccentric whimsy that you'd like to think could maybe someday happen, if only for for a day. 'Nutflake Social', on the other hand, seems to be some sort of reinvented 'Timewarp' for the Papernut alternative universe.

'Rock'n'Roll Sunday Afternoon City Lights' sums up the whole feel of the album to me, it's a bit if s throwback to those rainy afternoons when you were a kid and you'd rifle through your parents' record collection trying to find something that excited you.

At 30 minutes long it's a concise journey through the Papernut psyche. Like a surprisingly quick train ride to another land, let it transport you to a better place, a place that looks to the future but is acutely aware of where it's come from.

The album's out on 13th October on Gare du Nord records, where you'll be able to pick up both a standard version or a deluxe set with extra extended and alternate tracks.