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.