Tuesday, 22 December 2015

2015's best live performances

In total this year I've seen 142 live performances at numerous gigs and various festival. Here are the highlights.

Top Ten gigs:
  1. Atomic Bomb! live feat. David Byrne, Hot Chip, Sinkane, Money Mark & many more - Royal Festival Hall, London. Watch the whole thing live below.
  2. Jon Hopkins - Brixton Academy, London
  3. Sinkane - XOYO, London
  4. Public Service Broadcasting - The Roundhouse, Camden
  5. Songhoy Blues - Oslo, Hackney
  6. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Islington Assembly Hall, London 
  7. Algiers - The Lexington, London
  8. The Gaslamp Killer Experience - Koko, Camden 
  9. Run The Jewels - 100 Club, London
  10. Caribou - Brixton Academy, London
Top Ten Festival appearances:
  1. Patti Smith - Field Day Sunday, London
  2. Beck - BST Festival, Hyde Park, London
  3. Son Lux - Visions Festival, London
  4. Clark - Field Day Saturday, London
  5. The Flaming Lips - Victorious Festival Saturday, Portsmouth
  6. Future Islands - BST Festival, Hyde Park, London
  7. Super Furry Animals - Victorious Festival Sunday, Portsmouth
  8. Peter Hook & The Light - Victorious Festival Saturday, Portsmouth
  9. Loyle Carner - Visions Festival, London
  10. Run The Jewels - Field Day Saturday, London

Monday, 21 December 2015

Albums of the Year 2015 - the top 40

It's been a pretty good year for albums I reckon. There's been some that smacked you right in the face the moment you first heard them, and others that have been slow-burners and slowly wormed their way into your brain throughout the year. Here's my thoughts on the Top Ten.

1. 'Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett 
Sassy, intelligent lyrics, brilliant tunes, and overall such a great attitude and joie de vivre that you can't help falling in love with Courtney. For me this was the album that proved that there's still a future for guitar-based music. Full review here.

2. 'To Pimp A Butterfly' by Kendrick Lamar
Probably the most talked about, analysed (over-analysed maybe) and generally dissected album of the year. Big hitting, powerful lyrics, jazz and funk-themed music and top-notch collaborators (Flying Lotus, George Clinton, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg) combined to make this an immense record that has definitely earned a place in the history of black music. See blog post here.

3. 'Foam Island' by Darkstar
An electronic reflection on life in northern England in 2015, the tracks feature interviews with the people of Huddersfield talking about their town, their hopes and their dreams. This is matched with a great selection of music as the band show their skills in writing great melodies. Full review here.

4. 'In Colour' by Jamie xx
A fantastic ride through the rainbow colours of British dance music in 2015. Mixing great samples with deft touches and cool guest vocals, it's the soundtrack to a night out you never want to end. Oh, and the vinyl set was beautiful to look at too. Full review here.

5. 'All We Need' by Raury
A warm, touching and uplifting album that mixes 60s flower-child mentality and 70s vibes with bang up to the minute raps. I've been going on about Raury for a couple of years now, and he's continued to prove my faith in him is justified. Still only 19, and global superstardom beckons. Full review here.

6. 'Projections' by Romare
Mostly instrumental, with snippets of samples deftly woven into a collage of emotions, this is a brilliant début album full of heart and history. Ninja Tune certainly know how to pick a winner, and I hope Romare goes on to make many more albums. Full review here.

7. 'The Epic' by Kamasi Washington
Epic by name and epic by nature, if you want to listen to this triple album all the way through you'll need to put three hours aside. It's worth it though - the best jazz album for years in my opinion, and with his role in Kendrick's album as well it's been a mega year for Kamasi Washington.

8. 'The Good Fight' by Oddisee
Consistently my favourite rapper both on record and live, the fact that Oddisee isn't more well known continues to astound me. Intelligent and intellectual lyrics matched with smooth, quality beats (that he produces himself) results in a record that's maybe just too good for the masses to appreciate. Full review here.

9. 'The Delta' by Brolin
Another great début album, as the reclusive producer from Leeds crafts a sleek and soulful album. Influenced by the synaesthesia he experiences when making music, the record feels like a journey of discovery. I reckon there's a lot more to come from him. Full review here. 

10. '1989' by Ryan Adams
In which Adams completely reinvents Taylor Swift's pop masterclass, swapping the pop smarts for emotions, and in doing so makes the record he's secretly wanted to make for years. Cover version heaven. Full review here. 

And numbers 11-40...to be honest the ordering is fairly arbitrary, but you ought to be able to find something you like in here.

11. 'Music Complete' by New Order
12. 'The Race For Space' by Public Service Broadcasting
13. 'Perpetual Motion People by Ezra Furman
14. 'Golden Ticket' by Golden Rules
15. 'Born In The Echoes' by The Chemical Brothers
16. 'Algiers' by Algiers
17. 'Multi-Love' by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
18. 'Shedding Skin' by Ghostpoet
19. 'Lost Themes' by John Carpenter
20. 'Culture of Volume' by East India Youth
21. 'Inji' by LA Priest
22. 'Beauty Behind The Madness' by The Weeknd
23. 'La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful' by Petite Noir
24. 'Panda Bear vs, The Grim Reaper' by Panda Bear
25. 'Evangelist' by Gavin Clark & Toy Drum
26. 'Hinterland' by LoneLady
27. 'Bones' by Son Lux
28. 'EarthEE' by THEESatisfaction
29. 'Solo' by Nils Frahm
30. 'Get to Heaven' by Everything Everything
31. 'Music In Exile' by Songhoy Blues
32. 'Fold' by Fold
33. 'Return To The Moon' by El Vy
34. 'I Declare Nothing' by Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe
35. 'I Need New Eyes' by Larry Gus
36. 'White Men Are Black Men Too'by Young Fathers
37. 'Portraits' by Maribou State
38. 'Personal Computer' by Silicon
39. 'Magnifique' by Ratatat
40. 'The Most Important Place In The World' by Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Montage Resolution (Truss Total XTC Remix)' by East India Youth

Taken from a new 3-track remix EP, this is a great way to round off the year and the success of the 'Culture of Volume' album by East India Youth. As well as this remix by Truss, the EP features versions by Blank Mass and Yosi Horakawa. I love the insistent, pounding rhythm of this and the fact that it keeps up all the way through the track.

You can stream or buy the whole EP here.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Four (Darkstar Remix) by Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm

The original version of this track can be found on the 'Loon' EP, which came out on Erased Tapes earlier this year. Darkstar's mix builds and builds, based around a guitar riff that Aiden started playing as they listened to the track. It's fair to say that Darkstar & Nils Frahm are currently two of my favourite artists so this is a real treat for me, and I hope it is for you too.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Track of the Day: 'Ride The White Lightning' by Chrome Sparks

The new EP from Chrome Sparks is fresh out on Future Classic, and from it comes this 9-minute marvel. A constantly evolving, urgently beating beast of a tune that invites persistent head-nodding, even at this length it's too short. Personally I just want to put this on repeat all day and let me head and my heart dance while the horrors of the world fade away.

Recommended music: 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' by Khruangbin

There's a gentle warmth and familiarity about this record that disguises it's originality. It sounds a little bit trip-hop, a little bit Acid Jazz, a little bit world music, a little bit psychedelic, but the intriguing fact is that it takes all of those influences and melds them into a new creature. In fact it turns out that their main influence is Thai funk and pop from the 60s and 70s, which is not something you can say about many bands.

There's an analogue feel to the recordings, and also a live atmosphere that makes me believe they did these recordings as near to live as they could in the barn in Texas they used as a studio.

Khruangbin (the name translates as Engine Fly from the Thai) were originally conceived as an instrumental act, and you have to get five tracks into the record before the first vocals appear on 'White Gloves'. This was the first thing I heard from them and it drew me in with its laid-back, Californian groove, congas and gentle, slightly mystified vocal.

More instrumentals follow, including the disco funk of 'People Everywhere (Still Alive)', which in an alternate universe is taken from the soundtrack to the Asian remake of Saturday Night Fever.

My one criticism of the record is that I really wish there'd been a few moments where they'd opened up and just let rip, allowing the guitars to soar and the tracks to take flight a bit more. There are a few bars towards the middle of 'August Twelve' where you think this is going to happen but then everything calms down again, which is a shame.

All in all though this is a record that invites you in and encourages you to sink into its welcoming arms, a benign smile upon its face, much like the universe itself.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Video of the Day: 'Necessary Evil' by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

A nicely animated little video hinting at the compromises and problems that face us during a relationship. And like a lot of relationships, sadly it doesn't end well...

Track of the Day: 'Lime Habit' by POLIÇA

POLIÇA are back, with a new album 'United Crushers' due in March next year. The first single from it is 'Lime Habit', a brilliantly fresh slice of  synths and electronic beats topped off with Channy's excellent vocals. I'm pleased to say that the vocal effects have been notched down even more on this record and that this is pretty much her natural sound, pure and unfiltered, and the track is all the better for it.

There'll be a tour to go with the album next year, including a date at Village Underground in London on February 13th where you'll be able to find me.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Track of the Day: 'Sensation' by Daniel Avery

In his first new music since the 'Drone Logic' album Avery has built a stunningly good track. Bass follows drums before swathes of keyboard wash through. Industrial, percussive noises fight for space with the keyboard chords while all the time the insistent beat keeps you head nodding.

This will be put on Phantasy on November 27th, backed with another new track called 'Clear'. I can't wait to hear that one and hopefully a new album in 2016.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Recommended music: 'I Need New Eyes' by Larry Gus

I Need New Eyes

You know that old brain teaser about trying to name 5 famous Belgians? Trying to name five Greek musicians as pretty much the same (especially if you try to name 5 good ones). Fear not though, as that task has become immeasurably easier with the arrival of Larry Gus and his latest album 'I Need New Eyes'. The fact that this wonderful record comes to us via the ever-brilliant DFA Records should give you the guarantee of quality you need (as well as my recommendation of course) so rest assured, this is one investment in Greece that will definitely repay your capital handsomely.

Currently living in Milan, Panagiotis Melidis has created a dream-world of European Dance and Eastern samples, and in this collision east and west has forged a personal vision of his own future. Stemming from the birth of his first child, it reflects upon the fact that as soon as you have children your horizons change and your ambitions have to follow suit, So it is that personal lyrics reflecting upon anxiety, success, friends and love meld with a steady stream of inventive music. Layers of sound are occasionally peeled back to single bass or synth patterns, and as the record flows you travel on a journey of discovery through his cranial canal.

On top of the musical magnificent his vocals sound much more confident and mature, as if this new-found view of life has helped him understand his place not just in the world but in his music as well. By the way, in case you're wondering the name 'Larry Gus' comes from 'larigas', the Greek word for throat or larynx.

I'm struggling to think of a more inventive or creative record this year, a record that more than magnifies the sum of its parts. If you're a fan of musicians being given free reign to create their own personal and unique vision of the world then you really should turn your own eyes (and ears) to this.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Recommended music: 'Inji' by LA Priest


I'm not sure why I never got round to reviewing this when I first bought it, but lately I've been playing it a lot and realised that it'll definitely make my end of year list, so it's worth putting a few thoughts down about it.

Effectively the solo début album from Sam Dust, late of Late of the Pier, this is a funky, souly, electro-disco record that original and eclectic enough to appeal to left-field hipsters but also, given the right radio play, could launch some smash pop hits on the world.The moment the smooth, laid back bass of opener 'Occasion' starts to slink out of your speakers you know you're in for a good time.

As the records proceed influences emerge from Prince to Rick James to Basement Jaxx to Connan Mockasin (who Dust has previously worked with). Throughout it all there's a sense of playfulness and a lightness of touch that points to the fact that he's completely into the music he's making now. The moody tracks are sultry rather than sulky, while the dancier tracks are funky rather than full-on.

It all adds up to a huge success artistically (and incidentally, a record that for more deserved to be nominated for the Mercury Prize than some of the dross that made the list). If LA Priest is delivering the sermon you should definitely be listening.

'Inji' is out now on Domino Records.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Video of the Day: 'Breaking My Phone' by Oscar

Short and perfectly to the point, this starts off poppy and then gets angry as Mr Scheller walk around his neighbourhood. People have various kinds of arguments on various kinds of (mostly antiquated) mobile phones, and Oscar ends up singing in a phone shop.

He was one of my favourite acts at Visions Festival in the summer so it's great to see some new stuff from him.

Track of the Day: 'Susan' by LNDN DRGS

From the forthcoming album on Stones Throw comes this track from the duo of Jay Worthy and Sean House. The music is 80s all the way, with that classic synth bass and a bi of a Nu Shooz vibe. The lyrics though are pure 21st century, so if you're the sort of person who's not down with the 'bitches, hoes & niggas' school of rap I'd steer clear. The rest of you will probably lap this up though.

Grab the free download below.

Recommended music: 'Fold' by Fold

Fold cover art

First things first - it was always going to be hard to get through this review without mentioning Public Service Broadcasting, so let's get it all out of the way at once. There are a lot of connections - Fold have supported PSB on tour, have remixed them a couple of times, and there are definitely similarities in what they do. In fact, on first listen you might think this was an American incarnation of PSB, as the majority of the samples used here are from the US, and are pretty hard-hitting in terms of politics and social justice. But no, they're from Leeds. They're a bit more mellow than PSB in places, and a bit funkier in others, and overall they've created a really good, pretty-much themed album that mixes hip-hop and funk roots with a conscience and a series of powerful voices.

In fact, as good as the John Lennon-sampling opener 'A Reflection Of Us All' is, it does feel somewhat incongruous amongst the American voices. As they talk about children growing up without their parents, racial equality and slavery, global warming and more, you kind of sense that this would make a great set of election themes for whoever follows in Obama's footsteps. It's more than that though, these are universal themes that affect us all, and we can't just duck the issues by pretending that it's only the USA that has these problems.

That said, this is not a hectoring, lecturing record. There are light touches in the opener, in 'She' and in 'So It Goes', a wistful and whimsical hymn to those who have passed. 'Be Water My Friend' has a sense of Zen calm to it and is a great way to follow the powerful 'Oil-Powered Machine'.

Overall then, a great listen that, as a certain 'other' band once said, informs, educates and entertains.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Recommended music: 'All We Need' by Raury

Raury's major label début is here, and what a début it is. Over 14 diverse tracks he sings, he raps, he talks, and overall he delivers on the promise of being one of the most original and exciting new talents out there.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about this record that I love so much, but mostly I think it's the warmth, both in the sound and in the emotions he conveys. It helps that whether he's singing or rapping he's equally brilliant at both. It's clear, particularly on 'Revolution', that he's as influenced by Pharrell Williams as Kanye West, but it's not just those, he's got a deep understanding of the history of music that he conveys in these tunes. It's like he's an immortal soul, a time-travelling troubadour who blends elements of the 60s and 70s with modern-day meanings, morals and methods.

The album flows so well as a whole piece that it's hard to pick out particular highlights - even the little bits of dialogue and skits in between don't disrupt the like like they sometimes can. So whether you like the auto-tune style of CPU, the 'Freedom'-vibe of 'Revolution', the slow jamz of 'Woodcrest Manor II' or the massive, sure to be stadium-filling end of show number 'Friends' there'll definitely be something here that will grab hold of you.

This record moves me, emotionally and spiritually, and it will do the same for you if you let it into your ears. I don't understand how a 19-year old has crafted something that can do that to me, but I'm glad that he has.

Track of the Day: 'We All Fall Down (Jamie's Version)' by A-Trak & Jamie Lidell

An alternative version of A-Trak's new single, which is apparently closer to the original that they recorded before A-Trak mucked about with it. Showcasing Lidell's vocal ability to full effect, there's something a bit 80s about the production (in a good way), as well as the fact that the "you're only human" refrain is reminiscent of 'Human' by The Human League. This is quite possibly the track that could make a start out of Jamie Lidell, which in my mind would be no bad thing.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Track of the Day: 'Level Up VIP' by Kidkanevil feat. Orifice Vulgatron & Sean Play

This new version of a track from Kidkanevil's 'Rap Biscuits EP1' comes straight out of the blocks at 100 miles per hour and keeps up the pace throughout. It's the kind of track that makes you wish you had some sort of souped-up, lowered car with an unnecessarily loud soundsystem so that you could cruise by with the windows open while playing this song as loud as fuck.

Grab it for free below.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Recommended music: 'The Delta' by Brolin

The Delta

It's been a couple of years since I first wrote about Brolin, and since then his status has continued to grow, even of the facts we know about him haven't. The young man from Leeds with a passion for dogs originally donned a mask as he wasn't ready to face a clammering world wanting instant soundbite gratification. He might have kept up the cloak of mystery in person, but there are plenty of emotions laid bare on this fantastic début album.

Producer, musician, end even video director (his first stab at that was for Nightdriving below), he's retained complete control over the record and has spent the past few years polishing and honing it to great effect.

From 'NYC', the track that introduced him to the world, through latest single 'Nightdriving', the album is uplifting and heartening, as it wraps itself around you. Brolin himself has synaesthesia which he uses to creative effect as sound and vision become one, and he sees and feels atmospheres and places in his music. It's why songs like Reykjavik, Koln, Barcelona and NYC and named after places, as he matches the mood of the song with the city.

So what do we learn about Brolin from the lyrics? Here's a picture of him and his thoughts:

"I lie awake at night" - Nightdriving
"If the eyes are the windows to the soul you might see I lack control" - Kingston
"I won't leave the lights on if you ask me to stay, Follow me I'll guide you, I'll lead you astray" - Reykjavik
"I never thought I could feel so content in the shade" - Barcelona
"I will pull you under the waves, it'll soften the blow" - Koln

Thematically the album is a bit like a journey of discovery, different places and different feelings. If you're looking for a way of describing what this all sounds like, try imagining Jamie xx crossed with The Weeknd crossed with Caribou and you'll be somewhere on the way to arriving at the sound. But don't try and categorise it, it's pretty unique and it's actually bloody brilliant, so just buy it!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Ene Nyame (Henrik Schwarz Blend)' by Ebo Taylor & Pat Thomas

Somehow this passed me by until the other day, which unfortunately means I missed out on playing it every day in the summer. I shall remedy the situation by playing it every day in the winter instead, thereby giving myself a slice of sunshine through the dark months. This epic remix manages to skilfully combine Afrobeat and Highlife with house music to stunning effect - the moment the bass kicks in you won't want to listen to anything else for the rest of the day.

Track of the Day: 'Humanize' by Lizzo

A change of pace and style for Lizzo on this track, the first to be released from her new album 'Big Grrrl Small World', which is out on December 11th. Here she gets to show of her impressive vocals on a song that manages to sound both classic and contemporary at the same time. Give it a couple of listens and the chorus will be swimming through your brain for days.

If the rest of the album's as good as this then we're in for an early Christmas present, especially as you can get the whole thing for free by signing up here.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Track of the Day: 'Ain't Nothing Changed' by Loyle Carner

It's probably no surprise to you to find me bigging up the new track from Loyle Carner - I do it every time he puts something out, but that's only because everything he releases deserves to be heard. This track's a surprisingly jazzy affair thanks to Rebel Kleff's production, while the lyrics tread Carner's familiar paths of growing up and life in London (also featuring his usual batch of swearing lol).

The single is out digitally today on all the usual platforms so have a listen to it below and then go out and buy it. If you wanna catch the by wonder live he's playing at Village Underground in London on February 16th next year.

Recommended music: 'Grey Tickles, Black Pressure' by John Grant

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure [Explicit]

OK, so this is a bit of a strange one. After a week of listening to this record I like it, and I love bits of it, but I couldn't say I loved the whole thing, at least not yet, not like I want to. Maybe that will come in time, but for now it kind of feels like there's half a brilliant album tucked away inside this whole one.

That's not to say that it doesn't piss all over most of the dross that's been released this year. John's lyrics are at their most barbed and cutting throughout - here's a selection of my favourites:

"You and Hitler oughta get together, you oughta learn to knit and wear matching sweaters"
"There are children who have cancer, so all bets are off, cause I can't compete with that"
"Global warming is ruining my fair complexion, augmenting all my imperfections"

Musically it's all over the place, which is sometimes good and sometimes less so. From the glam-rock stomp of 'You and Him', through dark electro like 'Black Blizzard' and 'Snug Slacks', into the 80s disco of 'Disappointing' and onto the lush sounds of 'Geraldine', there are plenty of ideas on display here. But part of me wishes he'd just crack on and make a full on electro-assault on our senses, maybe under an alias, for one album and them come back with a piano / acoustic epic for the next.

High points for me are the verse and clarinet on 'Down Here' and the Wichita Lineman-esque ending to 'Geraldine'. And having seen most of the album performed live at Rough Trade last week I'd say some of the songs have more power and hang together better live than they do on record.

Grant is still one of the most original voices making music today, and it's great that he's given such artistic freedom by Bella Union. I just feel that his ship might benefit from the occasional steer every once in a while.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Recommended music: 'Foam Island' by Darkstar

Foam Island

On their new album for Warp the electronic duo have created an electronic reflection on northern Britain (specifically Huddersfield) in 2015. It's a brilliant encapsulation of the thoughts and emotions of young people in the town, showing both the good and bad sides without passing judgement on either. The theme allows the band to create possibly their most cohesive album to date - as it takes you on a journey through various rhythms and styles, from the upbeat to more ambient tracks, it never loses its focus or sense of purpose.

The titular 'Foam Island' (a euphemism for this once green and pleasant land) is definitely one of the highlights, full of deft electronic touches, while 'Stoke The Fire' is a brilliant slice of electro-pop with an ultra-catchy melody that showcases the best of their song-writing. The most abrasive track here is closer 'Days Burn Blue', which I guess is what you'd expect from a song that was written while the votes were being counted for the bastard Conservative Party's victory in the last election.

I've listened to this record a number of times over the past week and can honestly say that it still gets better and better with each hearing. Concept albums (for that's effectively what this is) can be a hard thing to pull off, but they've done it with aplomb here.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Recommended music: 'Paper Trail Records presents: Thanks For Listening'

Paper Trail Records Presents: Thanks for Listening cover art

Charity records are nothing new, but sometimes the idea is better than the product. Fortunately that's not the case with this new release from Paper Trail Records. Released for World Mental Health Day, the album is raising money for Console, Ireland's National Suicide Charity. It's a many and varied collection of sounds and styles from the label's friends, including the likes of Cloud and Beach Moon/Peach Moon. My personal favourite is 'Rock and Roll (An Elegy In Eb Major)' by Shrug Life, which actually reminds me a bit of Barenaked Ladies with its mix of melody and wry humour. I'm not sure about the efficacy of including a band called Teen Suicide on the album, but that rare bum note aside there's very else wrong with it.

A good release for a good cause - have a listen and buy your copy using the link below.

Track of the Day: 'Winter Sun' by Sarah Williams White

A beautiful tribute to the awesome eternity of the sun, and in some ways a direct descendant of 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine' by Roy Ayers, this trippy, soulful little number is a taster for the forthcoming mini-album 'Of The New World'. Sit back and let its rays wash over you.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Recommended movie: 'Rubble Kings' (and free mixtape)

A fantastic documentary about gang wars and gang culture in New York in the early 1970s, and how the eventual peace that settled over the streets saw the subsequent rise of hip-hop. Dance battles and rap battles replaced armed warfare (at least for the most part) as the gangs chose peace over war. Directed by Shan Nicholson, it really gets under the skin of the socio-economic conditions of the time and pulls together the story of how their circumstances shaped the lives of the kids in the gangs ad how they overcame the struggle. If you're a fan of hip-hop or 'The Warriors', or want to understand how modern-day New York was formed then this is a movie you'll want to see.

As well as the movie there's a brilliant mixtape that's been put together evoking the different musical styles and tribes of the time. It's brilliantly put together in 4 parts, include some dialogue from the film (as well as a snatch of 'The Warriors') - just click on the cover below to download it.

Track of the Day: 'Gold Coat (feat. Cuushe)' by Iglooghost

While most teenage boys are sitting in their bedrooms masturbating and playing XBox, Iglooghost has quietly been stockpiling sounds (he may have been doing those other things as well, who can say?). The result of this endeavour is that the 18 year old from the UK now has a deal with Brainfeeder Records, as run by Flying Lotus, and his first release 'Chinese Nu Yr' will be out at the end of this month.

From it comes 'Gold Coat', a full on electronic assault on the senses. See what you make of it below.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Video of the Day: 'Heard 'Em Say (Kanye West Cover)' by Loyle Carner

Check out this extremely laid-back cover of the Yeezy classic from my boy Loyle Carner. He puts his own spin on the lyrics over a stripped-bare piano accompaniment and a well-sung chorus. The track was recorded for Radio 1's Piano Sessions in London yesterday.

If you want to check Loyle out live you can catch him at Village Underground in London on February 16th next year - get your tickers here.

Track of the Day: 'Rubble Kings (Dynamite On The Street)' by Run The Jewels

The latest instalment in the Adult Swim Singles series for 2015 is also the the first track to be released from the soundtrack to the  Rubble Kings documentary. The film tells the story of how hip-hop culture arose from the gang era in New York City, and features. As well as RTJ the soundtrack, which is out on October 30th on Mass Appeal Records, will also feature the likes of Bun B and Mr Muthafuckin Exquire.

Musically the vibe is similar to 'Crown' off last year's RTJ2 album, with a driving rhythm and a stuttering vocal sample. You can listen to it below and download it for free here.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

New music: 'Twenty Fifty Three' by L'Orange & Kool Keith

Taken from the album 'Time? Astonishing', which came out in July and is apparently a concept album about time travel and insanity, which certainly makes a change from lame-ass rappers spitting about bitches and hoes all day long. The backing reminds me of that old track 'You Showed Me', and the whole thing is a great example of how diverse hip-hop can be if it tries.

Listen & download for free via the link below.

New music: 'Wilkes Booth' by Verbal Kent feat. Skyzoo

A free cut from Kent's recent Anesthesia album, which is out via Mello Music Group. Over a great backing which sounds like a 60s movie soundtrack he spits rhymes at speed, producing an upbeat & positive vibe.

Listen & download for free below.

New music: 'The Revival' by Finale feat. Invincible & Pierre Anthony

From the new album 'Odds & Ends', which came out in August. The quality of Oddisee's production shines through on this track, from the jazzy drum break at the start to the catchy guitar melody. With great guest verses as well this is quality hip-hop of the highest order.

Listen & download for free below.

New music: 'Who's That' by Apollo Brown feat. Maffew Ragazino & Freddie Gibbs

Taken from Brown's new album 'Grandeur', which came out last week on Mello Music Group, this is a proper hard as nails slice of hip-hop. Over a backing Jay-Z would kill for the trio trade verses about how good they are, in the process proving, well, how good they are.

Listen & grab it for free below.

Track of the Day: 'Israel (Sparring)' by Chance The Rapper feat. Noname Gypsy

This laid back and smooth slice of hip-hop is further proof that Chance is one of the hottest properties around. Powerful words that float well over the mellow music, and some great guest verses from Noname Gypsy, who I've not heard before but will be checking out based on her performance here.

Grab yourself a free download below.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Track of the Day: 'Aim High' by Joey Bada$$

Exclusively available via ScionAV, this fresh track features a minimal, dark backing and over which Joey spits stories of struggling to exist. Weirdly he seems to be censoring all the swear words out himself, but apart from that it's a great track, less pop-sounding than some of the stuff on his recent album and all the better for that.

Listen and grab it for free below.

Recommended music: 'Music Complete' by New Order

It's a funny thing when bands have a massive break and then come back with a new album. You wonder why they're doing it, and if they should've bothered. Some (like The Stone Roses) don't even get as far as making a record. When the band is question is one of your favourite acts of all time the questions become all the more demanding - what's the new stuff like? Does it '"desecrate the grave" (to quote John Squire) of their previous material, or add something worth hearing to their catalogue?

Such discourse brings us to 'Music Complete', a possibly ironic title given that bassist Peter Hook has left / been cast aside (depending who you believe) in a well-documented split. To counterbalance that Gillian Gilbert has returned, having not been part of the band since 2001, and her influence is keenly felt here. I'm not sure I ever gave her the credit she was due for her contribution to the band, but the keyboard-led tracks here must surely be partly due to her input.

So how does it sound? As I've said, it's definitely more keyboard focussed, dancier, and harks back more the 'Brotherhood' and 'Low-Life' era of the band (ironically, those are the 2 albums Hooky is currently touring with his band, playing mammoth sets each night to a rapturous welcome), and overall it's a pretty successful compilation of all best type of New Order songs. There are dancefloor bangers like 'Plastic', and more traditional songs like 'Academic'. La Roux's Elly Jackson contributes guest vocals to three of the songs and enhances these, rather than taking them over. The other guests are less successful though; Iggy Pop's spoken word effort on 'Stray Dog' reminds me of the track he did with Death In Vegas as few years ago and disrupts the flow of the record. Meanwhile Brandon Flowers undoubtedly came in his pants the moment he was asked to to sing on 'Superheated', but it's the least New Order-ish and therefore the weakest track here, a disappointing way to end the record. On the other hand Tom Rowlands from the Chemical Brothers manages to inject some contemporary rhythms into 'Singularity' and 'Unlearn This Hatred', which somehow results in these 2 sounding simultaneously sounding like the best bits of both bands at once.

I reckon it's a solid 8/10 type of record. I've certainly heard worse efforts from reforming acts (or those who refused to go away in the first place). I'm tipping them for a slot at Glastonbury next year - you heard it here first!

Remix of the Day: 'Here I Am (Wolfram Remix Edit)' by The Juan Maclean

Grab yourself a free download of this satisfying dark and moody piece of electronica. Sounding a bit like the soundtrack for some sci-fi blockbuster when it starts it soon heads for the dancefloor while still remaining rather menacing.

It's all up to the usual high DFA standards so have a listen and download below.

Video of the Day: 'It's Over' by Golden Rules

Directed by Ryan Synder, I guess this is not one to watch if you're a fan of happy endings. Still, it's for one of my favourite tracks of 'Golden Ticket' so you really should give it a watch, if only to understand the significance of the goldfish...

Recommended music: 'Faith In The Future' by Craig Finn

Faith in the Future

Craig Finn's second solo album is a successful attempt to present some gentler, and more personal songs than he normally presents via The Hold Steady. Dedicated to his mother Barbara who recently passed away, there's a definite air of death and melancholy about this record. That's not to say that it's depressing though, rather it's just accepting of the fact that death is a part of life that comes to us all in the end.

In amongst the trademark character-led songs ('Sarah, Calling From A Hotel' being my favourite) you'll find one of the few listenable songs to have ever been written about 9/11; 'Newmyer's Roof' telling how Finn & his boss at the time watched the fall of the World Trade Centre while drinking beer on a rooftop at 9:30 in the morning. "I saw the towers go down from up on Newmyer's roof, Yeah we were frightened, yeah we were drinking, it was all so confusing". If you see Finn play this live he'll tell the story of how his present-day girlfriend was actually in one of the towers at the time of the attack and managed to escape, making this an even-more personal story than it already was.

There's also 'Going To A Show', which could be as much about performing a gig as watching one; "Some nights it just seems like the same old thing, some nights it feels like a new frontier". Meanwhile people and places come and go - Christine goes to Memphis, Sandra stays in Scratton, Maggie's husband goes to Colorado and Arizona, and St. Peter hangs out in New York.

Musically it's not particularly adventurous but there's a warmth to the arrangements and a familiarity that allows them to stay in the background so you can focus on the crystal-clear delivery of the lyrics. Overall, as with all of Finn's output, you're left with a sense that despite the world being a bit shitty at times, things will work out in the end.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Track of the Day: 'The Lavishments of Light Looking' by Woke (Flying Lotus, Shabazz Palaces & Thundercat) feat. George Clinton

Available as part of this year's Adult Swim Singles releases, this trippy psych-funk smorgasbord of delights is very much equal to the sum of its parts. It kinda feels like FlyLo, having been mostly kept out of the loop on the Kendrick Lamar album project, has decided to form his own to rival it. Whatever the driver behind it, it's new, it's fresh and you can download it for free from the Adult Swim site here - let's hope there's an album of this stuff coming...

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Recommended music: 'Personal Computer' by Silicon

Personal Computer

The debut album from Kody Nielson aka Silicon is a furiously enjoyable record, full of infectious grooves and some sexy slow jamz. Having co-witten and played on a lot of the tracks on Unkonown Mortal Orchestra's 'Multi-Love' earlier this year, and previously been in other bands with his brother Ruban, this is Kody's chance to take the spotlight and he grabs it with both hands and a massive smile on his face.

In some ways it's like Multi-Love's younger, cheekier brother - while Ruban is dealing with weighty matters of the heart, Kody's here for the party, to dance and maybe to get laid at the end of the night. It's kind of hard to recall anyone making electronica this sexy before, there are some real dirty grooves on here, particularly 'I Can See Paradise' which is grinding, rutting rhythm of a track with some really hard to distinguish electro-vocals.

There are definite similarities between tracks on both records, in fact when I saw Silicon live earlier this year supporting UMO Kody played 'Can't Keep Checking My Phone' and made it his own (Ruban was watching and laughing as he did so). It's worth mentioning that Silicon are a pretty fun proposition live, the time I saw them Kody was in the audience for about 90% of the gig.

Overall this is a really fun record, one that belies its technological title and manages to infuse some heart and soul into the modern electronic world.

Recommended music: 'Meow The Jewels' by Run The Jewels

Meow The Jewels - Download
OK, so it started as a joke, a random suggestion that a cat-themed remix album could be crowd-funded to make it happen. Things snowballed (as they do on the internet) and pretty much a year after 'Run The Jewels 2' came out here we are. Along the way the project has picked up some major names from both sides of the pond - the remixes feature the likes of Boots, Dan The Automator, Zola Jesus, Geoff Barrow (from Portishead) and 3D (from Massive Attack).

The weirdest thing about this is that the inclusion of the cats doesn't make this a sweet sounding album. If anything they bring a really sinister, eerie feel to the tracks, may of which feel more menacing than in their original versions. This must definitely be the darkest cat-themed project ever born. Also, never has the line "lick my pussy real good" seemed more appropriate!

Better than it deserves to be? Miles better, and another step on the road to Jaime and Mike's well deserved world domination.

You can get the whole album for free here.

Remix of the Day: 'Never Die (Paul White Remix)' by Golden Rules feat. Freddie Gibbs & Yasiin Bey

This new version of the 'Golden Ticket' album track sees Golden Rules' rapper Eric Biddines trading rhymes with both Freddie Gibbs and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def). With a harder, piano-led backing and some tribal drums it takes up a darker vibe to the album version, making the struggle sound greater. Have a listen below and get hold of it from their Bandcamp site here.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Track of the Day: 'Inner Systems' by Prequel Tapes

I'm a big fan of what Ninja Tune do (does?), but I'm sure that even they'd admit that the write-up to this track on Soundcloud is a huge steaming pile of pretentious nonsense. No matter though, because if you disregard that and just listen to the music you'll be amply rewarded. 8 minutes worth of electronic goodness await you as this Berlin-based artist conjures up dark digital sculptures which are tempered with bright piano acoustic interjections. It's a free download too, so grab it for yourself below and stick it on your headphones late at night.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Recommended music: '1989' by Ryan Adams


Could this be the record Ryan Adams has secretly longed to make all of these years? Quite possibly - listen to not only how relaxed he sounds, and how much fun he's having on some of the tracks, but also how heartfelt they are too. Hear him strip himself bare on 'Blank Space', and then immediately follow that up with the widescreen road-trip rock of 'Style', and you'll realise that although he's pretty much doing this for his own enjoyment, that's a lot here for the rest of us to enjoy too.
If you're not familiar with Swift's original material (and there are many who aren't, or at least won't admit to being) then you might be hard pressed to say whether some songs were hers or his. Even when you get to one of the biggest and most recognisable hits of the past decade 'Shake It Off' there are fair few bars at the beginning where you might not recognise it, and in fact it sounds more than a bit like 'I'm On Fire' by Bruce Springsteen.

If the lush, string laden version of 'Out Of The Woods' doesn't touch you then you really don't deserve to be alive. 'Wildest Dreams' is one that now sounds like a proper Americana track, ending with some gorgeous Byrds-esque guitar. But that's topped by the guitar on the outro to 'Clean' though, which sounds like a Smiths-era Johnny Marr has wandered into the studio to make his presence felt.

Meanwhile, in Ryan's hands, 'How You Get The Girl' sounds like the reminiscences of someone who tried many times to get the girl but failed miserably.

Am I praising him too much? Fair enough, he didn't write the melodies but there's such a skill in doing what he's done, taking them and shaping them to fit a different genre. In doing so he's undoubtedly opened them up to a whole new audience, while at the same time proving just what great songs they are.

This could've been the grandest of follies, self-indulgent and pretentious. Instead it's a huge success, and a credit to both Adams and Taylor Swift herself. Now, when can we expect her to return the favour?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Track of the Day: 'a short 1 about floating down the river face down, obviously dead, but sooooo chill' by Slugabed

Winner of the song title of the week award, this new track from Slugabed is a deep and mellow slice of music. It's kind of freeform and kind of trippy and kind of dark and kind of slippy. Get a free download on the down low below.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Track of the Day: 'Hell Is My Head' by Blaenavon

It's hard to believe that it's coming up for 3 years since I first wrote about Blaenavon and tipped them for success. They've obviously been tucked away in the Transgressive bunker being fed red meat, as they've emerged with a beefier sound on this lead track from their new 'Miss World' EP.

Powerful guitars and crisp, clear vocals take their place over a powerhouse of drumming to create a melodic barrage of sound. This really is the sound of them emerging from their adolescent cocoons and turning into young men with a purposeful stride.

You can pre-order the EP from Transgressive here.

Miss World EP - 12"

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Recommended music: 'La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful' by Petite Noir

If you're one of those (annoying) people who like to pigeonhole everything then I wish you good luck with finding a genre for this. It's so tricky that Mr Noir himself, Yannick Ilunga, has invented his own genre name - noirwave. It seems a suitable description of an album that can be dark, that flows beautifully from track to track, and that has such a broad palette of sounds and influences  it makes most of this year's releases sound two-dimensional in comparison.

You might have heard the single 'Down'  on the radio and been entranced by its rhythms and instantly singable chorus. It's a fantastic way in to the Petite Noir sound - at various times it sounds like Caribou, an Afrobeat band or any number of other (great) things, all of which are woven into a brilliant groove.

'Best' is another outstanding track - it also has a great rhythm, but also some great 80s sounding horns, and is topped of with Ilunga's brilliantly expressive voice and some politically charged lyrics.

You could spend hours and hours going over this record and listing down the influences you can hear seeping from it;s core - from Talking Heads to TV On The Radio, from Tony Allen to Fela Kuti, this album is like an educational masterclass. And despite it's ocassionally dark tones the underlying theme of life being beautiful shines through. I've listened to this a lot this week, in different moods and different places, but it's always left me feeling positive and in a good state. It's definitely one of the best records of the year.

Track of the Day: 'Mannus & Venus' by Chrome Sparks

It's great to have something new from the always excellent Chrome Sparks. This comes from a sampler by the Australian label Future Classic, who are home to Chet Faker and Flume amongst others.

The track is a bit of a belter, with a killer riff and some proper 80s sounding keyboards, and an altogether uplifting feel. You can stream the track below and download the whole album via bittorrent here or on the link in the Soundcloud player.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Recommended music: 'Søren Juul' EP by Søren Juul

Out Now: Søren Juul - Søren Juul EP

You might be familiar with Søren from the 2013 album 'Somewhere Else' - that was released under the Indians moniker but he has since reverted to his own name. The 3 track EP, released on the 4AD label showcases his songwriting talents and fragile, gentle vocals to good effect. Opener 'Ambitions' has hints of Sigur Ros in its melodies and a definite Scandinavian feel - it's warm but detached at the same time, and I love the part towards the end when then keyboard refrain kicks in.

'Manly Beach' (a place I've actually been to) is a simpler, piano-led affair that then sweeps in with some gentle keyboards. The final track 'Soulseeker' actually reminds me a bit of Grandaddy when it starts, and then it becomes a swooping ballad full of heartbreak, with some lovely instrumental passages that have a touch of Pink Floyd about them.

Overall it's a great step on the way to his next album, which will be released early next year. You can listen to all three of the tracks below.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Video of the Day: 'Trance Frendz - An evening with Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm'

There seems to be new material appearing from Messrs Arnalds and Frahm. First there was the single 'Life Story / Love and Glory', then the announcement of their new EP 'Loon', and now this. What started out as a planned recording of one improvised piece turned into an 8-hour session, all of which was filmed by Alexander Schneider. At the end of the night they had a number of new pieces that had been composed on the spot which they've shared with us here (along with some more homely shots of Nils cooking the dinner). Edited down to 46 minutes, it really does show two masters at work, not to mention showcasing Nils' lovely studio in Berlin.

'Loon' is released on October 2nd and you can pre-order it from Erased Tapes here.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Recommended music: 'Golden Ticket' by Golden Rules

Golden Ticket

I'm a big fan of Paul White - his recent album 'Shaker Notes' was one of my favourites of last year - and this new project with Eric Biddines just reinforces the fact that pretty much everything he touches turns golden (see what I did there?). I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect of the record after the quirky, Outkastaliciousness of lead single 'Auntie Pearl's House', but this is an assured and mature record covering a host of styles, as well as another Outkast-style song in 'Holy Macaroni'.

White shows his magpie nature, dipping in and out of different genres to pick the bit's he likes and stitching them together beautifully. He even manages to sample himself, with 'It's Over' stealing from 'Where You Gonna Go?' on Shaker Notes.

Lyrically Biddines covers a range of subjects, dealing with life and love and everything in between, sometimes seriously and sometimes less so. 'Don't Be' gives advice on how to live your life without being a bitch to people, while 'Talkin' 'Bout' is one of those 'this is me and what my life's about' kind of raps where you find out that Eric "don't drink and don't smoke and don't like to do no dishes"

There's funk and soul on here too, as 'Down South Boogie', the next single, blends funk and disco with an insistent rhythm and a catch "we got another one, yeah we got another one" lyric. Meanwhile 'Play Some Luther' shows that Biddines can hold a tune as he gets his sexy on in this slow jam.

Anyone who can get Mos Def to make a guest appearance is clearly doing something right, and the smooth, downbeat sound of the track that features him 'Never Die' is definitely one of the highlights here.

Overall this is a great, positive hip-hop album, cliché free and full of invention.

Monday, 17 August 2015

New band of the Day: Bones & Beeker

Bones & Beeker (Wax Poetics Records). Photo by Jules Ameel.
(Photo: Jules Ameel)
Freshly signed to the Brooklyn-based Wax Poetics Records, Minneaoplis duo Bones & Beeker make hip-hop and soul infused songs that at times seem to have come from a different time or a different planet (or maybe both). Anthony Newes and Brendan Kelly (aka BK-One) are both multi-instrumentalists who've worked cross-genre and seem to be able to turn their hand to just about anything. Joined by stalwart Minneaoplis bassist Chris Bierden, probably best known for his role in Polica, and guitarist Nate Collis, the music they've given birth to almost defies classification. Take 'Lupine', the first track they put out - a slinky bassline melds with a hip-hop beat, congas and even a whistling refrain to slowly weave in and out of your ears.

Meanwhile 'Each Time I Die' has a darkly electronic undercurrent which is lifted by castanets, brass and a bank of multi-tracked vocals in a riot of colourful sound.

The album is due later in the year and personally I can't wait to hear it, especially if they take it on tour - imagine the vibe if they play this stuff live.

Watch this space for more news on the album nearer the time.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Track of the Day: 'Tierney Terrace' by Loyle Carner

One of the highlights of last week's Visions Festival was rising UK hip-hop star Loyle Carner's performance in the steaming heat of the London Fields Brewhouse. His new single has just dropped and it perfectly highlights his style and flow - lyrics about family and heritage, soulful beats and a genuinely emotional and heartfelt message.

The flip side is a homage to the little sister he's always wanted but never had. The record features Kwes on vocals but last week he did this as a poem with no beats and it was equally as powerful

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Live review & pictures: Visions Festival, London 8th August 2015

The sun always seems to shine on East London for Visions Festival, and so it was yesterday for the third edition of this annual event. This is a blessing in disguise as although it makes for pleasant strolls between the venues, it makes the venues themselves incredibly hot (especially the Brewhouse which was so hot and humid that it managed to turn the bar of chocolate in my bag from a solid to liquid state in about 30 minutes).

Oscar at The Laundry 8/8/15
First on my agenda was Oscar at The Laundry. This was an upbeat way to start the day - Oscar Scheller has a deep, rich voice and some great, melodic hooks to go with it. I was surprised at the quality of his songwriting and although it might be hard to pigeonhole him into a genre or market I hope he makes it.

Girl Band on stage at The Laundry
Next at the same venue were one of the current buzz acts, Girl Band. This four-piece from Dublin are loud and intense and definitely bring something fresh to the scene. It's hard to make out what he's singing but that's never been a barrier to success in the past and they definitely seem to be the sort of band they will inspire a rabid following.

Loyle Carner on stage at The Brewhouse 8/8/15
Just over the road from The Laundry is the aforementioned boiling hot Brewhouse, where the heat was matched with the talent. Loyle Carner is the future of British hip-hop. He writes brilliantly aware, emotional and heartfelt lyrics, and is a great performer to match. As well as his raps he did 3 poems which were well received, especially the one about his mum who was in the front of the audience. If you get a chance to see him then grab it, you won't be disappointed.

Torn Hawk
Next in the Brewhouse (after one of their excellent homemade pizzas) was Torn Hawk, who matches video images with experimental music. I couldn't see all of his performance though as I had to head down to The Oval Space to see one of my picks of the day, Son Lux.

Son Lux on stage at The Oval Space 8/8/15
I've loved this band for a while so it was great to get the chance to see Ryan and the boys live. They played mostly tracks from the latest but with a couple of older ones for good measure. It was a really powerful performance, Ryan definitely puts his heart and soul into the performance and his emotion was matched with a rapturous reception.

Ryan Lott (Son Lux) 8/8/15
Next it was time for a double bill back at the Brewhouse. Norfolk's finest Luke Abbott twiddled his modular knobs to perfection, building up to an electronic crescendo.

Luke Abbott
He was followed by California's Peaking Lights, who played a set of electro-pop-dub with some thunderous bass lines that got everyone dancing (including one or two of the guys from Merchandise who'd played The Laundry earlier.

Aaron Coyes (Peaking Lights) 8/8/15
Finally it was back up the road to The Oval Space for Holy Fuck, Having been away for some 5 years they treated us to a shitload of new tunes and their performance got better and better as they went on. No photos for this one as they were on a darkly-lit stage (and I was too busy dancing anyway).

Overall it was another great day, although I have a couple of (connected) gripes. St. John's Church in Hackney is a pretty long way from The Oval space, and led to people basically deciding whether to stay in Hackney or Bethnal Green for the evening as it wasn't feasible to move between the two. Also the organisers seemed to be trying to brand it as a 'Hackney' festival, no doubt for the hipster value, but most of the venues were still in Bethnal Green. So let's have the venues a bit closer together or if not, maybe a shuttle bus between the two?

Track of the Day: 'Yonkers / Bowser' by Daedelus

A nice little freebie from the ever innovative Mr. Darlington. Released to celebrate this weekend's Low End Theory Festival it's got some great touches, including a melodic piano line that turns into a much more menacing synth line. Grab it for free below.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Surprising cover version of the day - Ezra Furman does LCD Soundsystem

This blog is (at times anyway) a paean to LCD Soundsystem and all their associated wonders, so it's not really a surprise that I like this. Furman has stripped the track back to just an acoustic guitar and vocals, in doing so highlighting was a great songwriter Mr. Murphy is (not that you need me to tell you that). The track can be found on a bonus disc that comes with Ezra's new album 'Perpetual Motion People' when you buy it from any of the Rough Trade shops.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Recommended music: 'Bones' by Son Lux

Bones cover art

The new album from Son Lux sees Ryan Lott expanding the band to a trio. Having originally added Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia to flesh out his live sound, he soon realised what a great combination they were and how well they worked together creatively, and hence this album is a full collaboration between the three of them.

You can feel the power of three throughout the album - Lott's voice is still the distinctive centrepiece of the tracks, but the sound is broader, more fleshed out. In places surprising (as when the melodic chorus of 'This Time' give way to crashing guitars, or in the offbeat rhythms of 'Undone', or the stroming end of 'White Lies') the record maintains the innate sense of melody and emotion that has characterised all of his releases. And talking of surprises, if you never expected them to have a video featuring a bona fide tv star, then check out the visuals for 'You Don't Know Me' below, featuring Tatiana Maslany from the excellent series Orphan Black.

This feels like the most mature Son Lux record to date, but also points the way to further development and expansion. I can imagine that once they take these new songs back out on the road they'll sound even bigger and better.

You can see Son Lux performing at the Visions Festival in London on August 8th (I'll see you there). In the meantime you can stream and buy the album below.

Recommended music: 'Morning / Evening' by Four Tet

Morning / Evening

It's Friday, which, according to the worldwide record label overlords, is apparently now the day on which new albums are released. And so on this gloriously sunny day comes this wondrous new release from Four Tet. As with the best of Kieran Hebden's releases it's hard to pigeonhole it into a specific genre. Even though there are only 2 tracks (a Morning Side and an Evening side) there's a whole range of music on dispay. If it wasn't such a dirty word I'd be tempted to call it 'world music', not just for the samples from the Indian sub-continent but also because it's the sort of music that really can be enjoyed by anyone in the world, transcending cultures or creeds to create a really spiritual piece of music. You could maybe even call it 'prog', given its concept and its 2 twenty minute tracks.

The Morning side draws you in slowly and gently, rousing you from your slumbers and bringing you alive. As the vocal sample rises in the mix you'll feel the sun rise on a new day, as layers or found sound and synthesizers combine. The Evening side meanwhile starts equally slowly but in a more electronic vein, building bleeps and analogue chords, mixing them with more Hindi samples and blending them into a Balearic sunset. The samples then subside as the track dips and then rebuilds with characteristic Four Tet bleeps and some surprisingly live-sounding drums before adding some crunchier beats towards the end

If you could only take one album on holiday with you this year then this should probably be the one - it's made for heat, haze and sun. Have a listen below.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Recommended music: 'Island' by Ruf Dug

Arriving perfectly in time for your summer holidays, 'Island' is the sound of beach, sea and sunshine encapsulated in vinyl. From the moment that 'Tendacayou' starts up you're immediately transported to a hazy, shimmering world of heat and light that evokes that feeling of the sun warming your bones as you escape the world.

Recorded in Guadeloupe over 12 weeks using a host of portable equipment, Ruf Dug's first album for the Music For Dreams label is perfect for whatever island you may be heading to this year, whether that's somewhere lonely and deserted, or somewhere more hedonistic like Ibiza. Influenced in part by Wally Badarou's work at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, there are also other lineages on display here, in particular on the first two tracks. 'Tendacayou' is very reminiscent of somvee of the ambient records that The Art of Noise made (particularly their cover of 'Robinson Crusoe'), while 'Speedboat' has more than a hint of John Carpenter. 'Mangrove Dub' also has that Art of Noise feel, while the album's stand-out track 'Le Rayon Vert' could easily have been included on any Cafe del Mar compilation. Steeped in Balearic sunrises it features the guest vocals of Nev Cottee, and is pretty much guaranteed to be included on any mixtapes I make for the rest of the year.

It's not entirely successful, with the noodling 'Mosquito' being the most disappointing track here, but overall it's a pretty great soundtrack for the summer.

'Islands' is out now on double vinyl, and you can stream the whole thing below. BTW, big shout to the team and Wax and Stamp for including this in their package this month - I doubt I'd have heard it otherwise.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Surprising cover version of the day - Ewan McGregor does Catfish and The Bottlemen

Because it's Friday afternoon I'm feeling a bit more accepting and relaxed of stuff I might not normally like, and so I give you this. McGregor was recently in the official video for 'Hourglass' and now there's footage of him doing an acoustic cover of the song for you to contend with. He fits the role of an acoustic troubadour pretty well actually, playing the guitar, clearing his throat and slightly fucking up the last verse - in another world I reckon he'd have made a pretty good frontman for an indie band.

Here's the video.

Video of the Day: 'Misty Maker Stomp' by Jouis

This track found its way onto my radar via the excellent new service from Flying Vinyl. For your monthly subscription they'll send you a box of 5 singles, all new music from emerging artists.

This excellently trippy number is reminiscent of '60s Pink Floyd and other psych nuggets from that era. Meanwhile the animated video reminds me a bit of some of the cartons created for Floyd's 'The Wall', especially the way the plants grow.Take a look and see what you think of it.

Jouis - Misty Maker Stomp (Official Video) from Lucky Bozu on Vimeo.

Track of the Day: 'Did You See My Skin Through The Flames' by Blood Orange

A new track from Dev Hynes is always cause for celebration, but this 10-minute opus is really something else. Although it's not on his next album it covers the sort of themes he's tackling, as it investigates issues of race, slavery and Hynes' own heritage. Mixing jazz with spoken word and funk it really does take you on a journey through his mind. If this is anything to go by then his next album could well be a masterpiece.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Recommended music: 'Kite Without A String' by Beach Moon/Peach Moon

Another release from the bijou Paper Trail records, this hazy, gently lo-fi record will slowly drift into your consciousness. Full of warmth and tinkling melodies, it's an album that never outstays its welcome but makes the most of the time it has with you.

Starting life as a solo vehicle for Robert Prisco from San Francisco (I love how that rhymes), but since expanded to a full band, at its heart Beach Moon/Peach Moon revolves around Prisco's high, softly-sung vocals. Like Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue but with less angst, he subtly swoops through the tunes, using his voice as an integral instrument within the overall set-up. Meanwhile the lyrics are full of missed opportunities and stolen moments that fit well with Prisco's world-weary delivery. "Thoughts are fleeting, seething through my barren bones" he sings on The Fog, one of many references to the natural world and our environment. On 'Firefly Stars' he tells us how "She filled my sky a deep dark indigo, That's how I saw how bright the moon was", before moving on to the end of the relationship on the title track: "I'm not mad at you, I'm just sad at us".

Overall then it's a wistful but not downbeat album, full of touching moments and hidden pleasures. Well worth a listen.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Rainbow (Club)' by Romare

Out on Monday, this epic new version of one of the standout tracks on 'Projections' keeps the funky bassline but updates the 70s disco tribute to fit in today's clubs. I love the little snatches of piano at the start, the way the track builds with hints of vocals and then the bass kicks in to get you strutting across the floor. Take a listen below.