Saturday, 25 April 2015

Live - in pictures: Jon Hopkins / East India Youth at Brixton Academy, London 24/4/2015

Last night was the last night of Hopkins' 18-month tour supporting his 'Immunity' album, and he saw it off in style.
East India Youth, Brixton Academy 24/4/15
Support for the evening was East India Youth who, after some technical gremlins that delayed the start of his set, played mostly songs from his new album 'Culture of Volume' with only 'Looking For Someone. Silhouetted, he cut a somewhat lonely figure as he switched between keyboards, bass and occasional drum-pad bashing. He stepped into the limelight for closer 'Carousel', proving he can hit the high notes like a diva.
Jon Hopkins beneath the screen at Brixton Academy
Hopkins played in the middle of the stage beneath a massive screen which was put to good effect. For the opening track images and shapes were directly linked to the buttons and keys he was pressing. As the show went on films, videos and animated graphics were shown as lights and lasers bounced around.
Jon Hopkins on stage last night in Brixton
A couple of the films were pretty intense and watching the show at times was comparable to living in a Darren Aronofsky movie.

At a couple of points in the evening Hopkins was joined by 4 dancers with flashing LED hula hoops, which twirled around their bodies as the lights syncopated with the music.

The hula-hooping ladies & their lights
On Twitter this evening Jon has described the show as "the best live experience I have ever had" which should give you an idea of how pleased he was with it. It was definitely a great way to give the album a send-off.
Lights, lasers, graphics - Jon Hopkins, Brixton 24/4/15

Friday, 24 April 2015

Recommended music: 'Hot House' EP by The Cyclist

Hot House EP

For his third release, in three years, on three different labels, The Cyclist provides us with six tracks of his trademark woozy, fuzzy music that he himself describes as 'tape throb'. On some of them Andrew Morrison (who's behind the nom de plume) has definitely stepped up the dance beats, making them a lot less ambient and a lot more house. It's kinda of weird hearing a floor-filling bassline topped off with a super-crackly sample, but somehow it works. The result is a type of dance music that feels organic rather than manufactured, as if it's been left in a closed, boarded up club for the past sixty years ad just allowed to evolve on its own.

Well worth a listen (which you can do below) but even more worth a purchase as it's only a few quid.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Record Store Day 2015

After four or five years of heading up to Rough Trade in London I decided to keep it local for Record Store Day (that's kind of the point after all) and so I headed to South in Southend.
The queue at South, 7am this morning
The benefits of this decision were immediately apparent when a) I got an extra hour in bed and b) I was 4th in the queue when I arrived. The usual queue banter took place (seems record collectors are pretty much decent folk wherever you go) while we waited for the store to open, which happened at bang on 8 o'clock. Now, South isn't the largest shop in the world, which brings me to my only gripe of the day - once the doors were opened everyone poured in, leading to a bit of a scrum around the albums and making it impossible for me to get to the 7" singles once I'd finished at the 12"s. So maybe next year they could manage the volume of people in the shop a bit more - that's one thing that Rough Trade has managed to get right over the years.

My 2015 Record Store Day haul
Anyway, moan over. Aside for the Johnny Marr 7" that had gone by the time I reached the counter I got pretty much everything that was on my list, with a free book thrown in too. Here's the run down, listed in roughly the order in which I targeted them.

  • Run The Jewels - Bust No Moves; clear 12"
  • Jon Hopkins - I Remember (Nils Frahm remix); white vinyl 10"
  • Hot Chip - Atomic Bomb (John Talabot remix); 12"
  • Sinkane / The Charlatans - Emile; yellow vinyl 7"
  • Serge Gainsbourg - Serge Gainsbourg et Le Cinema; 
  • Foo Fighters - Songs From The Laundry Room; 10"
  • Kode9 & The Spaceape - Ghost Town; gold vinyl 7"
  • Courtney Barnett - Kim's Caravan; 12"
  • Jay Z / Ghostface Killah - U Don't Know / Whip You With A Strap; 7"
  • Gram Parsons / The Lemonheads - Brass Buttons; pink vinyl 7"
  • Warpaint / Daughter - Feeling Alright / Winter; 12"
  • Toy & Jane Weaver - Fell From The Sun 7"
  • Free book: Strange Requests and Comic Tales from Record Shops by Graham Jones
Update: On the Monday after Record Store Day I went across to Rough Trade and picked up a couple more things, namely:
  • Metronomy - Boy Racers; Ferrari Red 12"
  • St Paul & The Broken Bones - Sing A Simple Song; Albama-shaped burgundy vinyl

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Recommended music: 'Lustmore' by Lapalux


You don't get to be on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label without displaying a hefty chunk of talent. On his second album for the label Stuart Howard shows how his talent has devloped, delivering a cohesive if woozy slice of electronica. Veering into trip-hop at times, the album is loosely themed around the experience of hypnogogia, the transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. As such there are no dancefloor bangers, but rather melodies and images that fade into focus and then blur again as we drift into the state with him.

Howard's heavily treated vocals are interspersed with clearer guest turns from Andreya Triana and Szjerdene, the latter contributing to one of my favourite tracks on the album 'Closure'.

There's some unexpected (and rather pleasant) saxophone on 'Puzzle, which is another of the best tracks on here, as well as some keyboard samples that reminded me of  'Moments In Love' by The Art of Noise, which I think is destined to be a future single. Throughout the record there are the usual crackly, crunchy rhythms, which here undercut some great melodies. 'Don't Mean A Thing' is the closest the record gets to taking a spin on the dancefloor, but just when you thing you know where it's going it tales the legs out from under you with some utterly gorgeous slide guitar.

It's worth mentioning the luxury packaging for the vinyl - I don't think I've ever had a record sleeve half covered in red velvet before, but that's what you get here, along with double album made from an orangey brown splattered vinyl.

This is definitely a record to sink into once the sun's gone down. Howard's talked about the thinking about the record in terms of a films soundtrack, and if you imagine what a film set in the 22nd century but based around a 1950's retro cocktail bar would look like then this would definitely be the music to accompany it (I might just go and write that film now so hands off the concept).

Live review and pictures: East India Youth at South Record Shop, Southend 9/4/2015

East India Youth 9/4/15
A sunny late afternoon saw a small group of those in the know arrive at the equally small South for a gig to promote the new East India Youth album. After a few slightly awkward moments where Will Doyle was soundchecking and we all sort of pretended that we couldn't see him, he headed to the cafe over the road while we waited for the clock to strike five.

East India Youth live at South Record Shop 9/4/15
At the alloted hour Doyle took to the stage and opened with 'The Juddering', the opening track from 'Culture of Volume'. Without stopping for breath he ploughed through a 35 minute set that mixed a couple of older tracks including 'Looking for Someone' with highlights from the new album like the single 'Turn Away' and also 'End Result'. The tempo increased, as did the bobbing of Will's head, and by the closing pairing of 'Hearts That Never' and 'Hinterland' we were pretty much having a full-on rave. The wooden floor of the shop was vibrating as we bopped away while the traditional seaside smell of chips wafted in from the chippie over the road.

Afterwards there was a chance for people to have a quick chat with Will and get records signed etc. I spoke to him about his support slot for Jon Hopkins at the end of the month which he's really looking forward to - he told me that Hopkins a/v show is pretty spectacular so I can't wait to see it now!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Recommended music: 'Culture of Volume' by East India Youth

Culture Of Volume

This is the second album from the Mercury Prize nominated Will Doyle in his East India Youth guise, and the first for a major label (XL Recordings). After a few listens it's clear that, possibly as a result of one or both of those facts, this is an even stronger record than his debut. It's more mature and assured, and hangs together more cohesively as an album than 'Total Strife Forever' did. Like that record this one is a mixture of vocal tracks and instrumentals, but here everything is beefed up - the melodies are catchier, the dance tracks are beefier and the vocals are stronger. It's like Doyle has found his voice (literally and metaphorically) and is happy to use it.

Musically it's quite hard to pinpoint his influences, although 'Beaming White' definitely seems to be doffing its cap to the Pet Shop Boys. 'Turn Away' actually reminded me of Villagers when I first heard it, if they were to explore their electronic leanings a bit more. Other tracks are developments of ideas from the first record, with 'Hearts That Never' in particular sounding like a vocal sequel to 'Hinterland', and the switch from that to 'Entirety' is one of my favourite bits of the record as we go to an all-out banging club tune (think Daniel Avery for this one). The fact that this is followed by the torch song of 'Carousel' just shows how confident Doyle now is - this is a real show-stopper of a track that's got 'movie climax' written all over it.

To sum up, this is a record that moves East India Youth's sound a good few steps forward. I reckon that come the end of the year it'll be pretty near the top of my 'most played' list - I can imagine how good it will sound sitting by the pool on my summer holiday - and even if it doesn't earn Will another Mercury nomination it's definitely the most essential of this week's new releases. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Video of the Day: 'CounterClockwise' by Oddisee

As the excitement builds for the launch of Oddisee's new album 'The Good Fight' (out on May 5th), this new video has just been released. Shot over a few nights around New York, the backwards / forwards video brilliantly reflects the music and lyrics. Check it out, my favourite bit is the guys taking the garbage out of the truck and putting it back on the street.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A tale of two rap albums: 'To Pimp A Butterfly' vs 'Mr. Wonderful'

In the past couple of weeks two completely different but great rap albums have been released - Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp A Butterfly' and 'Mr. Wonderful' by Action Bronson. You've probably seen a lot of reviews of them, especially the former which a lot of people have already crowned the album of the year, so rather than do another straightforward review I thought I'd compare the two (not entirely seriously). Whether you like one or the other or both, it's good to see rap music in such rude health at the moment.

To Pimp A Butterfly [Explicit]           Mr. Wonderful [Explicit]


West Coast                                                 East Coast


Black Consciousness                                  Food
Racial Equality                                            Women
Politics                                                       Transport
Sex                                                            Sex

Musical influences:

George Clinton                                             Billy Joel
70s Funk                                                     80s soft rock
Jazz                                                            Some weird Turkish stuff


Flying Lotus                                                 Mark Ronson
Snoop Dogg                                                 Chance The Rapper
George Clinton                                             Party Supplies
Thundercat                                                   Zane Lowe
Dr. Dre  

Likelihood of winning a Grammy next year:

100%                                                           0%                      

Best tracks:

The Blacker The Berry                                  Baby Blue
How Much A Dollar Cost                               Easy Rider
King Kunta                                                   Only In America

Most likely to say:

"I'm black, deal with it"                                "I'm hungry & horny, feed me or fuck me"

Friday, 3 April 2015

Austerity Audio 2015.3

The third instalment of Austerity Audio for 2015 is finally here! What more could you want at Easter than 10 prime slices of new music (apart from a vomit-inducing quantity of chocolate eggs)?

As usual, all of the tracks are available for free and legal download from the internet (you might have to rummage around for some of them, but that's part of the fun). If you find something that you really like then all we ask is that in return for this lovely free mixtape you buy a track or two from one of the artists involved. That way they make a crust and can keep producing lovely music for us all. To download the mixtape just right click on the image above and 'save as', or left click on it to listen to it first. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. Fluida - Deep Down (Dub)
  2. Tame Impala - Let It Happen
  3. Roger Sellers - Waves (Corduroi Remix)
  4. Ratking - (Steep Tech (Feat. Despot & Princess Nokia)
  5. Rome Fortune+ Ceej - Blacktop
  6. Deech - Hi-end Babe
  7. Outfit - Genderless
  8. Ibeyi - Ghosts
  9. Buddy Banter - I Miss You
  10. Torres - Strange Hellos

Video of the Day: 'Valentina (feat. Smoke Fairies)' by Public Service Broadcasting

As we've come to expect by now, each video that comes out from Public Service Broadcasting is a treat. This one is a little more gentle and a little less frantic than the previous two from 'The Race For Space', telling the story of the first woman in space with some lovely and atmospheric footage of her. It's a fitting tribute to a lady whose role in the space race is so often overlooked.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Recommended music: 'Living Fields' by Portico

Living Fields

Billed as the debut album from Portico (following three previous releases as Portico Quartet) this continues Portico's move towards electronica, and this time includes weighty contributions from three guest vocalists - Jono McCleery, Joe Newman (from alt-J) and Jamie Woon. But this isn't one of those crap r'n'b records full of tracks 'feat.' people you've never heard of. Instead the three singers have been an integral part of the recording process, and in fact all have previous history of one sort or another with the group. And while it's fair to see that your enjoyment of the album will depend on how you feel about their choice of vocalist (particularly Newman's distinctive voice) for me this is a great record. From the opening, Haxan Cloak-esque sound of the title track, 'Living Fields' will drag you into a dreamy and sometimes dark world, full of atmosphere and (unusually for a lot of electronica) warmth. McCleery has the lion's share of the vocals and perhaps because of that his probably work the best overall - I could see him becoming a full time member of the group quite easily.

If the album has a shortcoming it's that it doesn't particularly carve out a niche for itself in the electronic market - it strays into a lot of other territory, from Darkstar to Mount Kimbie to Everything Everything without really setting out its own stall.But that's a small gripe about a hugely enjoyable record that I think will be on repeat for many weeks to come.

Track of the Day: 'Choose Your Enemy' by Thee Faction

Political agit-pop of the highest order, reminiscent of bands from The Redskins through to The King Blues. The perfect antidote to the Leaders Election Debate on the TV right now.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Remix of the Day: William Onyeabor's 'Atomic Bomb' by Hot Chip remixed by John Talabot

Hot Chip's version of 'Atomic Bomb' was one of my favourite tracks from my purchases on Record Store Day last year. Now, fresh for Record Store Day 2015, comes this remix of the track by John Talabot, and it is indeed the bomb. This is going straight on my shopping list for April 18th.