Friday, 30 December 2016

Recommended music: 'RTJ3' by Run The Jewels

Like a present you never dared hope for, 'RTJ3' dropped unexpectedly on Christmas Day to fill your stocking with beats and rhymes. Following their usual distribution model Killer Mike and El-P gave it away for free, but you'll also be able to buy it from iTunes, Amazon etc., and there's a host of physical products and merch you can pre-order from here if you want to support them financially.

A lot's happened since the release of 'RTJ2' a couple of years ago, not least Killer Mike becoming some sort of unofficial spokesman on black issues in America, and you can feel the weight of what's passed on this record. Overall there's a sense that they're taking things seriously and this is no longer just two guys fucking about, getting high on weed and mushrooms and making music to please themselves. the music and lyrics are both more powerful and there's a higher proportion of proper melodies in place. Having someone like Tunde Adebimpe feature on 'Thieves! (Screamed The Ghost)'' no doubt helps but overall El-P seems to have upped his production game by a few notches, and there's not a single duff track in this bunch. 

From the acknowledgement of their own stardom (on 'Call Ticketron'), through the politically charged 'Thieves!' and the nightmare view of the future on '2100' this is the sound of a duo on the top of their game.

If you're one of those people bemoaning the lack of protest music in these turbulent times then you need look no further. This is the sound of a black man and a white man uniting their voices against racism, fascism and all of the other shit in the world today. 'A Report To The Shareholders: Kill Your Masters' might take things to the extreme with its "kill your masters" refrain but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

In summary, and because the official release date is 13th January, this is the first essential album purchase of 2017.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas Rave of the Day: 'Merry Christmas Lil' Mama' by Jeremih and Chance the Rapper

As if Chance hasn't been good enough to us already this year, he's just dropped this 9 track mixtape with Jeremih to give y'all some festive cheer. There's some great tracks on here, from the vocoder-heavy 'Snowed In' to 'Stranger At The Table' lifting the melody from 'I Want You Back' to the piano and organ-led full-on Christmas ballad 'Joy'. Seriously, this guy can do no wrong at the moment, and this is a grat way to round off a huge year for him.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Rave of the Day: 'Night Shifts At Christmas' by Golden Rules

A heartwarming tale of hard work and family life, this track from Golden Rules shows what can be achieved in rap and hip-hop music without resorting to 'f' words and 'n' words all the time. You can buy this song from all your favourite music download emporia.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas Rave of the Day: 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Airhorn' by Slugabed

What's better than an old-style Christmas carol? An old-style Christmas carol with beats and airhorn - that's what. Available as a free download, this is guaranteed to put the wind up your grandma over Christmas dinner.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Rave of the Day: 'Litmas' by Akira The Don

The festive season is upon us which means that, amongst the frenzy to get the Christmas no. 1, all sorts of people bring out all sorts of Christmas songs. Today's selection is a four track EP from LA's Akira The Don, which brings some warmth to the cool Christmas vibe. My personal favourite of these is his version of 'A Spaceman Came Traveling', which always had a good tune but thankfully is now devoid of the wailings of Irish short arse Chris de Burgh. Have a listen and grab yourself a copy below.

Remix of the Day: 'White Crow (Erol Alkan Rework)' by Beyond The Wizards Sleeve

This is a really interesting one, as Erol Alkan, one half (with Richard Norris) of the duo Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, reworks his own track. The result is this fantastic electronic version, which surely deserves to be on a movie soundtrack someday soon. Just picture this on the soundtrack to Drive and you'll understand where I'm coming from with this.

There's actually been a set of really good remixes from the album 'The Soft Bounce', each one of which has come on different colour vinyl. They're well worth getting - not only do they look great but they put a different spin on the record, which made it to number ten on my albums of the year list here. Here's my set:

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Video of the Day: 'Payout (feat. Stalley)' by Apollo Brown & Skyzoo

Another quality track from the Mello Music Group stable, this killer cut from 'The Easy Truth' hits the spot. I love a track that starts and ends with the sound of warm vinyl pops and hisses (unless I'm actually listening to it on vinyl lol). Have a look at the brand new video below.

Track of the Day: 'Things' by Oddisee

A new Oddisee album, The Iceberg, will be with us next February, and is surely something we all need in these trying times. A plea for understanding and for us to recognise our common ground, it will feature his trademark intellectual insight and rapid-fire rhymes.

Lead single 'Things' sets out the album's stall as, over an infectious dance groove, Oddisee runs through the things that are getting him down, and talks about how we should share our concerns and experiences. I can't wait for the whole album, but until it arrives I've got 'Things' on repeat.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Review of the Year 2016

Now that the album of the year list is out of the way (you can read that here if you haven't already) it's time to pull out some more highlights from 2016. Let's face it, in some ways it's been a pretty shitty year so it's worth picking out the good stuff and looking at it again, Here are some of the things I've enjoyed this year.

Video of the Year: 'Friends' by Francis & The Lights

Simple but beautifully executed, this video features both Bon Iver and Kanye West. It never fails to make me smile when I watch it - I love the synchronised dancing, and I love how you can see Francis trying to control his breath as he sits and counts in his head after his first energetic burst.

Track of the Year: 'Love & Hate' by Michael Kiwanuka

It's hard to pick out one overall track, but this is probably the one I've played the most and has been stuck in my head more than anything else. It's pure quality, and when played live the guitar solo is outstanding.

Free Track of the Year: 'Transient Program For Drums & Machinery' by Soulwax

Soulwax burst back from nowhere with this amazing 8 minute long track, which you can get for free by clicking here.

Dance Track of the Year: 'Boss' by Disclosure

Just a brilliant dance track and a return to their roots for the Disclosure brothers. If this doesn't make you dance then nothing will.

Acoustic Track of the Year: 'In The Light of the Room' by Alexis Taylor

Just one man and a piano, as the lead singer from Hot Chip presented us with a stripped back record of original tracks and a few covers. This is the standout track, and one which I listened to a lot as I read the book of the year (see below). For me the 2 will always now be linked.

Free Album of the Year: 'Rubble Kings' Soundtrack and Mixtape

This is actually two albums - one is the soundtrack to the brilliant 'Rubble Kings' documentary about gangs in New York in the 60s and 70s, and the other is a mixtape inspired by the four parts of the movie. Grab them both by clicking on the images above and below.

Gig of the Year: Kojey Radical, The Jazz Cafe, Camden 22/9/16

Pushing Radiohead off the top spot is a hard thing to manage, but while their show at the Roundhouse was a great set from a well established band, Kojey's set was the energetic sound of the bright future of British music. Coming just days after his 2 MOBO nominations, he put on a near two hour show featuring a host of guests - most notably Maverick Sabre and Ray Blk - and was still playing at 11 o'clock when they pulled the plug on him.

Festival Performance: Christine and The Queens, Other Stage at Glastonbury

I was right at the front on the barrier for this one so it wasn't until I watched it back on the TV that I realised how many thousands of people had watched her. A spellbinding performance that cemented her position as one of the acts of the year.

Christine & The Queens, Glastonbury 2016

Music Book of the Year: 'Porcelain' by Moby

A really entertaining read, particularly for the fact that Moby seems constantly bemused by the fact that he's successful at all. About two-thirds of the way through he gives up being teetotal and there are a few chapters of complete debauchery before he gets back on the wagon again.

Book of the Year: 'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara

Not just the book of the year but one of the best books I've ever read. Devastatingly emotional, savage and haunting, I'll admit that this book made me cry more than any book ever has. As tough as parts of it were to read, I never wanted it to end.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Albums of the Year 2016: The Top Ten

1. David Bowie - Blackstar
For 3 days this was merely just a great Bowie album. Then, in reverse biblical fashion, on the third day David died, and the record suddenly took on a whole new complexion. To me, this is now one of the greatest artistic statements about death ever made. From the lyrics to the hidden messages in the cover art (a version of which is now tattooed on my arm) this is the perfect, transcendental way for Bowie to leave us.

2. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
Far removed from the last couple of Radiohead releases, this entrancing record was the sound of a band embracing their maturity. It also seemed to free up Yorke and co to explore their back catalogue with abandon, and the live shows that accompanied this release were a riot of hits mixed in with the new record. If this turns out to be their last release it's a great way to go.

3. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
My favourite 'guitar band' of the year, Car Seat Headrest have a massive back catalogue that I trawled through at length having only heard about them in 2016. But the new album is the pick of the bunch, as well as having the best track titles of any album this year. And even though they had to recall all the vinyl due to an issue with a track by The Cars that they were 'interpreting' as part of one of their songs, which meant it was delayed about 3 months, it's still my most played vinyl of 2016

4. Underworld - Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future
The best album that Underworld have made for at least 15 years, this record brings family, emmotion and contentment into theor music for possibly the first time. As a result it sounds like a band enjoying themselves for the first time in a while, ready to explore what it feels like to be getting older and to be happy about it.

5. Bon Iver - 22, A Million
From its complicated track titles to its never straightforward music, this is a record that can be hard to find a way into. For me the moment came when I listened to it all the way through on vinyl for the first time - from then I was hooked. Justin Vernon is ploughing a unique furrow here, and it feels to me like each time he goes off to work with someone like Yeezy or James Blake it frees him up a bit more to experiment with his own music.

6. Christine and The Queens - Chaleur Humaine
The new act of the year for me, Christine and The Queens not only make sophisticated and softly subversive pop music, but also have the most engaging and enthralling live show I've seen for years.

7. Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate
A record that oozes both quality and soul, and sounds like something that's been lurking in some dusty vaults since the 70s (in a good way). From the lead single 'Black Man In A White World' to the title track and beyond, this is probably the best produced record of 2016, something that's matched by the quality of Kiwanuka's songwriting. Pure class throughout.

8. Francis and The Lights - Farewell, Starlite!
Having made the best video of the year for 'Friends', the lead single from this track, Francis followed up with an album that sounds like Peter Gabriel and Bon Iver made a record together (and wouldn't that be a good idea?). It unashamedly wears its heart on its sleeve, and is all the better for that. Guaranteed to make you feel better and put a spring in your step if you're having a bad day.

9. Anohni - Hopelessness
Without wishing to sound like a pseud, this is an important record, and one which deserves your attention. Dealing with weighty political matters in a way that very few songwriters can, it also sounds unique, something which is very difficult to schieve in an age where pretty much everything has already been done before. At times it's a difficult listen, especially on 'Obama', but don't let that put you off. As bleak as its title may be, this is a record that will enhance your life.
10. Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - The Soft Bounce
Probably the least well-known record in my selection, this project is the brainchild of Erol Alkan and Richard Norris. It sounds like 60s psychedelia and 70s krautrock all rolled up into one, and features guest vocalists like Hannah Peel, Euros Childs, Blaine Harrison and Jane Weaver adding their own talents to the prodigious duo. A min-warping listen.

11. James Blake - The Colour In Everything
12. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
13. Parquet Courts - Human Performance
14. Gold Panda - Good Luck And Do Your Best
15. Glass Animals - How To Be A Human Being
16. Kojey Radical - 23 Winters
17. Jack Garratt - Phase
18. Lambchop - Flotus
19. Polica - United Crushers
20. Romare - Love Songs: Part Two
21. NZCA Lines - Infinite Summer
22. Clark - The Last Panthers
23. Frank Ocean - Blonde
24. Factory Floor - 25 25
25. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
26. The Avalanches - Wildflower
27. Alexis Taylor - Piano
28. Jamie T - Trick
29. Mystery Jets - Curve Of The Earth
30. Saul Williams - MartyrLoserKing
31. Jagwar Ma - Every Now & Then
32. Skepta - Konichiwa
33. Oscar - Cut And Paste
34. Mark Pritchard - Under The Sun
35. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
36. Bullion - Loop The Loop
37. Oddisee - The Odd Tape
38. The Gaslamp Killer - Instrumentalepathy
39. Wild Beasts - Boy King
40. Animal Collective - Painting With

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Albums of the Year 2016: Numbers 11-20

We're getting closer to number are numbers 11-20:

11. James Blake - The Colour In Everything
12. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
13. Parquet Courts - Human Performance
14. Gold Panda - Good Luck And Do Your Best
15. Glass Animals - How To Be A Human Being
16. Kojey Radical - 23 Winters
17. Jack Garratt - Phase
18. Lambchop - Flotus
19. Polica - United Crushers
20. Romare - Love Songs: Part Two

21. NZCA Lines - Infinite Summer
22. Clark - The Last Panthers
23. Frank Ocean - Blonde
24. Factory Floor - 25 25
25. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
26. The Avalanches - Wildflower
27. Alexis Taylor - Piano
28. Jamie T - Trick
29. Mystery Jets - Curve Of The Earth
30. Saul Williams - MartyrLoserKing
31. Jagwar Ma - Every Now & Then
32. Skepta - Konichiwa
33. Oscar - Cut And Paste
34. Mark Pritchard - Under The Sun
35. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
36. Bullion - Loop The Loop
37. Oddisee - The Odd Tape
38. The Gaslamp Killer - Instrumentalepathy
39. Wild Beasts - Boy King
40. Animal Collective - Painting With

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Albums of the Year 2016: Numbers 21-30

Here's today's section of the countdown, along with a reminder of yesterday's ten.

21. NZCA Lines - Infinite Summer
22. Clark - The Last Panthers
23. Frank Ocean - Blonde
24. Factory Floor - 25 25
25. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
26. The Avalanches - Wildflower
27. Alexis Taylor - Piano
28. Jamie T - Trick
29. Mystery Jets - Curve Of The Earth
30. Saul Williams - MartyrLoserKing

31. Jagwar Ma - Every Now & Then
32. Skepta - Konichiwa
33. Oscar - Cut And Paste
34. Mark Pritchard - Under The Sun
35. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
36. Bullion - Loop The Loop
37. Oddisee - The Odd Tape
38. The Gaslamp Killer - Instrumentalepathy
39. Wild Beasts - Boy King
40. Animal Collective - Painting With

Monday, 12 December 2016

Albums of the Year 2016: numbers 31-40

The annual yearly countdown is here! In true Top 40 form we have to start at the bottom, so here are numbers 31-40. The rest will follow each day this week.

31. Jagwar Ma - Every Now & Then
32. Skepta - Konichiwa
33. Oscar - Cut And Paste
34. Mark Pritchard - Under The Sun
35. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
36. Bullion - Loop The Loop
37. Oddisee - The Odd Tape
38. The Gaslamp Killer - Instrumentalepathy
39. Wild Beasts - Boy King
40. Animal Collective - Painting With

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Track of the Day: 'Transient Program For Drums And Machinery' by Soulwax

A brilliant return to form from the Belgian brothers, this track sounds like everything from Kraftwerk to LCD Soundsystem. Heralding their new album, it's 8 minutes of electronic wonderment. And you can download it for free by clicking here.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Track of the Day: 'Digging For Windows' by Zack de la Rocha

What do you expect from a track by the ex Rage Against The Machine frontman and produced by El-P from Run The Jewels - teddy bears and flowers? Of course you don't. What you expect is exactly what you get - a pounding beat, electronic crunches, angry lyrics (the first word is 'fuck' and it's not the only use of it) and attitude by the bucketload.

We need more angry records like this in the world, especially if they're given away for free via BitTorrent like this one is - you can get it here.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Video of the Day: 'Friends' by Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West

I heard this track on Radio 1 today (I'm not sure how I hadn't heard it before) and they mentioned how good the video was so I headed online to look it up. And it's great - from Kanye's appearance at the beginning (where he gets into the music and then kinda checks himself), to Francis bursting out of the set to dance and then calming himself down once he's back on, to the fact that it's all filmed on one take, to the great dance routine with Francis and Justin Vernon, to all three of them striking a pose at the end. It proves a lot of things, not least of which is that fact that Yeezy doesn't always take himself too seriously.

Recommended music: 'My Band Is A Computer' by Chuck

I knew I was going to like this record from the moment I saw its title. The first release from Old Money Records (part of the Audio Antihero empire) is an introduction to the sad and wondrous world of Charles Griffin Gibson, who as Chuck has put out a load of records independently, from which these tracks have been culled. Despite this it flows pretty seamlessly as an album piece, telling tales of life, love and loss in New York.

With a vocal style that's part Jonathan Donahue, part Jonathan Richman and part Ezra Furman, Chuck plays the role of outsider as he narrates his tales of New York life. 'Bushwick Girl' is one of the highlights, as the 'L' train announcer gives way to a whimsical tale of an imaginary idyllic life in Brooklyn. 'Phoebe's Lips' (one of many songs about girls on here) is a darker love story about Mikey & Phoebe though, with Mikey's erectile issues contrasting with how easy love was when he was younger. Meanwhile 'The Internet' is possibly the the saddest feeling and most acoustic song ever written about a day in the life of a computer - "chatting with girls who claim to be ex-men, selling your dad's wedding ring, videos of rappers with expensive things" - all human life is here.

'Death' and 'Wipe Out', are as you can imagine from their titles, not the happiest of tracks, but perversely they're two of the most musically upbeat tracks on here. The album closes with 'Let's Make Out', a mournful tale of the end of the night (and possibly the end of the relationship) - "In the darkness on your couch, with nothing left to talk about...Let's make out, let's order take-out" - like most of Chuck's stories you're not sure if this one has a happy ending or not.

There's lots to love about this record - like all good things in life it has some darkness to highlight the light, and it's comfortingly lo-fi approach feels warm and reassuring. The album is out on September 9th and you can order it here.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Recommended music: '25 25' by Factory Floor

25 25 cover art

For their second album Factory Floor have stripped back their sound somewhat, having also stripped down their band size from three members to two.

An album born from long, late nights spent in dark and moody clubs, this is a record that engages brain and feet as one, without necessarily any need for emotional attachment. This is no bad thing - the purpose of this music is to deliver pounding electronic bleeps and beats and it does that in abundance.

Lose yourself in the repetition and it becomes almost meditative - with no real vocals to distract you, just some snatches and cut up words, the music allows you to escape to another headspace.

For me there are four standout tracks on here. The first is 'Slow Listen', with its almost tribal rhythm and the closest to actual singing on the record. The later on there's the triple whammy of 'Dial Me In', 'Wave' and 'Ya'. 'Dial Me In' has a late 80s Chicago house vibe to it, as well as reminding me of 'Fine Time' by New Order. 'Wave' is straight up next, a pounding (factory) floor filler. Thetrio of techno tunes finishes with 'Ya', which may be a distant cousin of LCD Soundsystem's 'Yeah' and which has a hypnotic acidic bassline that you just can't shift out of your head.

Overall this is a marked improvement from their patchy debut and one which definitely deserves your attention.

Video of the Day: 'Nobody Speak' by DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels

It's a week or so old now but that doesn't detract from the power of this video. In some ways it reminds me of that old video for 'Two Tribes' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood', where Reagan and Gorbachev squared up for a fight.

Any record that's made by two of my favourite acts was always going to be good, but this video elevates the track to a higher level. Watch and learn what congress is really like.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Video of the Day: 'Let's Pray' by Blaenavon

As the moment for indie-pop stardom for Blaenavon gets ever closer, they've deferred their University places and focussed on completing their debut album for Transgressive records. From it comes this slice of jangly guitar angst, with its plaintive cry 'Let's pray for death' and accompanying revenge-flick video.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Video of the Day: 'Gosh' by Jamie xx

When a new video emerges for a track that's already been around for over a year it had better be good. Otherwise, you think, what's the point? Then you find out that it's directed by Romain Gavras and you know you're gonna be in for something special...and so it is. Filmed in China (yes, there is a part of China that has a replica of the Eiffel Tower and parts of of the Palace of Versailles) this hypnotising,, mesmerising video was apparently made without any CGI, so everything here is as real as life can be.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-1 Day: LCD Soundsystem

The last one to watch couldn't really be anyone else could it? Headlining the Other Stage on Sunday night, and closing their set with one of my all time favourite songs 'All My Friends, the recently reformed LCD Soundsystem will make you dance, sing, and maybe even bring a tear to your eye as they close out the festival.

Sure, they may have split up and reformed in a shorter space of time than many bands take between making albums, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that a) they've made some great tunes and b) they're brilliant live - just wait until it all kicks off in 'Movement' and see the crowd go wild.

At Coachella this year they played both Bowie and Prince covers so we should expect something special by way of tributes. But even if they don't their set will be a great way to finish the festival. I'll be there, and even if it means I miss Beyonce and Jay-z coming on with Coldplay then I'll have no regrets. Like it says in 'All My Friends': "I wouldn't trade one stupid decision, for another 5 years of life".

Monday, 20 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-2 Days: Saint Etienne

Nestling nicely on the bill between E.L.O. and Beck (if you don't mind a sprint up to the Park stage and back), Saint Etienne will provide some blissful 90s beats for your Sunday afternoon. If you're not familiar with their particular blend of indie-pop then here are a few pointers. Let's start with what is possibly the best Neil Young cover version in history, their version of 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart', which was their first single.

I always loved the bit in 'You're In A Bad Way' where they lift the melody from 'Telstar'.

How about the Italian-house inspired 'She's On The Phone'?

Or the conga beats of the filmic 'Sylvie'?

As you can see there's plenty of great songs to choose from, so make sure you try to catch some of their set.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-3 Days: Jeremy Corbyn / Left Field stage

As you should know by know, it's not just about music at Glastonbury. The Left Field stage has been there for 10 years, and sprang out of the festival's tradition of campaigning, first for CND and then for the striking miners.

The stage is now curated by Billy Bragg and features a mixture of debates, music and comedy. And with the small matter of the EU Referendum to be decided while we're at the festival, is there a better time to listen to the thoughts of the Leader of the Opposition? I honestly expect this to be one of the most packed tents of the whole weekend so if you're going make sure you get there early.

If you don't make it for Jezza then there are panel debates on Feminism, Immigration, the junior doctors strike and more that might take your fancy. There's always a great feel in the tent and it can be a good place to escape the sun / rain / general hecticness of Glastonbury, so do stop by and see something there while you're on site.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-4 Days: Eska

ESKA cover art

Born in Zimbabwe, raised in Lewisham, Eska is a great talent who weaves together a range of genres from folk to soul to r'n'b to dance in a style that's all her own.

With support from the likes of Gilles Peterson her debut album soon came to prominence, and was shortlisted for the 2015 Mercury Prize.

There are a couple of chances to catch Eska at Glastonbury this year - midnight at The Rum Shack on Saturday or midday on the West Holts Stage on Sunday. I might well see you there.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-5 Days: St. Paul & The Broken Bones

A man with the voice of an angel (but the body of an overweight Alan Carr), backed by a stunningly-good band, Paul Janeway has come from heaven via Birmingham, Alabama to prove that proper soul music is alive and well.

If you passed him on the street you'd never imagine that he'd sound as beautiful as this, which for me is one of the attractions of this band - the unexpected strength and soulfulness will draw you right in.

If you watch the 2 live performances on here then I really don't need to say anything else, other than I'll see you at the Other Stage early on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-6 Days: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Listening to Rateliff's music it can be kinda hard to work out where it stems from. What lies at it's core may well be the gospel music he grew up with in church. On tip of that there's blues, there's soul, there's r'n'b, there's rockabilly, there's classic Memphis horns, and crowning it all is Nathaniel's excellent voice.

This is going to sound so good in the Sunday afternoon sunshine on the Park Stage, the only snag being that he finishes exactly at the moment that E.L.O come on the Pyramid Stage, so tough choices will have to be made.

If you do end up missing him at Glastonbury he's back in London at Brixton Academy in November.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-7 Days: Meilyr Jones

Welsh troubadour Meilyr Jones is a one man melting pot of sounds and influences. Take a dash of Super Furry Animals, a smattering of My Life Story, a smidge of Velvet Underground, a shake of Jarvis Cocker and even a bit of Bowie and you'll get an idea of what he looks and sounds like.

Live he's an endearing performer (I saw him at Field Day last weekend) who will fill the William's Green tent on Saturday afternoon with his wit and melodies.

If you've a penchant for great tunes, as well as the odd bit of cornet and viola, then seek him out.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-8 Days: Beck

Beck's albums are many and varied with his style changing seemingly with every release. It's now 20 years since his biggest hit 'Odelay', something he seems to be acknowledging in the genre-splicing new single 'Wow', which hops from Major Lazer style beats to horns to lyrics about a 'Lamborghini Shitzu' (whatever that is).

It's a continuation of the upbeat nature of his one-off release last year, 'Dreams', which was a big hit at the festivals he played last summer.

If you've never seen him live then you're in for a treat. He picks and chooses cuts from across his back catalogue, mixing them in with the odd choice cover version (I think he's currently doing Donna Summer). I've seen him a few times, the last being last year in Hyde Park where he was a million times more entertaining and fun than headliners The Strokes.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-9 Days: Car Seat Headrest

This band, headed by Will Toledo, hit the headlines recently when their new album 'Teens of Denial' had to be pulled from the shelves due to a last minute wrangle over a sample from the Cars' track 'Just What I Needed'. That song (originally called Not What I Needed / Just What I Needed' and now more succinctly revised to 'Not Just What I Needed') will no doubt feature in a set that's bound to lean heavily on the new record but also pull from their previous releases.

Their guitar heavy sound, which veers from The Strokes to Kings of Leon to even (unbelievably) Status Quo on current single 'Fill In The Blank' seems to tailor-made to kick start your day, so head up to the Park Stage on Saturday morning to catch them.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-10 Days: Blackalicious

This West Coast rap duo have been making records for nearly 20 years and their new album (the first in a trilogy no less) will be out in September. From it comes this track:

If you're not familiar with them but like rap acts such as Jurassic 5, Pharcyde or even De La Soul then it would be worth your while checking them out. They're on in the Pussy Parlure at half past Midnight on Saturday - I'll see you there.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-11 Days: The New York Brass Band

 When they started they were new and from York, rather than being from New York. One of Glastonbury's best party bands, their spirited mix of covers can be found at numerous times of the day or night, in sunshine or in darkness, in heaven or (literally) on the Hell stage

I distinctly remember bashing the shit out of the bar in The Rocket Lounge  in 2014 as me and the barman sang along loudly to 'Take On Me'.

There's plenty of times to catch them, especially on Wednesday and Thursday before everything really kicks off, so if you're looking for a party you know where to find me.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-12 Days: Michael Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka's latest single 'Black Man In A White World' is quite possibly my favourite song of the year so far. The production, courtesy of Dangermouse, is spot on and the whole thing just exudes a quality 70s vibe. Just imagine this washing over you in the sunshine on the West Holts stage on Sunday afternoon, it'll sound so good.

His new album 'Love & Hate' will be out a couple of weeks after Glastonbury so I'm sure that he'll play a few tracks from it - here's the title track.

But there'll also be a lot of stuff from his Mercury Prize-nominated debut album to get your teeth into too. I saw him at a special Mercury gig when he was nominated and he's a fantastic live performer, so if you don't mind missing E.L.O. then make sure you catch him.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-13 Days: Beak>

Geoff Barrow's krautrock-loving offshoot from Portishead fuse different genres and styles with ease, and whatever they do they do it loudly.

There's a new album due from them soon, so expect tracks from that (like the one below) as well as some old favourites when they play William's Green on Saturday evening.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-14 Days: Jack Garratt

Already a recepient of a Brit Award and the BBC's Sound of 2016, Garratt's music sits somewhere between the balladeering Ed Sheeran and the soulfully electronic James Blake.

As you can see from the live videos on this page he's a one-man tour de force, playing guitar, keyboards and drums and using pedals and loops to keep things going.

It all looks a bit frantic, like he's doing about 6 things at once (which he is) but it should make for a good experience on the John Peel Stage on Friday.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-15 Days: Jagwar Ma

Jagwar Ma, Village Underground London 31/5/16
One of my highlights from Glastonbury 2014, Jagwar Ma are now back playing live shows while also recording a new album.

If you were a fan of the last album, especially the Time & Space Dub Remixes of it, I'm pleased to report that their new songs now extend their sound from Screamadelica-era Primal Scream to also cover the Swastika Eyes and Get Yours Rocks Off periods as well.

Joking aside, a Jagwar Ma live show is something you should all experience, as it's a full-on rave-disco-rock mash up of epic proportions.

Although I've always thought of them as very much an 'after dark' kind of band I'm sure they'll cope just fine with being on the Park Stage in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-16 Days: Christine and The Queens

Heloise Letissier is something of a superstar in her native France, where the original version of her album 'Chaleur Humaine' has spent nearly two years in the charts and she plays to packed out audiences in massive venues. And since the revamped version came out this year, with some English lyrics and new songs added, the rest of the world is also taking her to their hearts, as you can see from this brilliant performance of 'Tilted' at Coachella a couple of months ago.

Her cool electronics and Gallic chic blend perfectly together, and she manages to combine some fascination and thought provoking lyrics with some proper full-on pop melodies.

It's a tricky thing to have an intelligent message to get across while at the same time wanting people to dance and have fun but it's something she pulls of with aplomb. And if you want just one example of how effortlessly cool she is take a listen to 'Paradis Perdus' below, in which she takes a 1973 track by French singer Christophe, splices it with 'Heartless' by Kanye West' and makes a track that sounds totally her own.

Tough calls will have to be made as she's on the Other Stage on Friday while Skepta is on The Pyramid, but I think mon coeur est avec la femme Francaise.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-17 Days: Blaenavon

I've been writing about Blaenavon in the pages of this blog for nearly three and a half years now. Over the course of that period they've grown-up, grown a moustache or two, and put out 3 releases.

Following the intelligent indie-rock trail blazed by the likes of Foals, as their hair has got longer so have their songs become more complex and involved (although judging by their latest video below, they haven't spent much time practising their lip-syncing skills),

Having just completed a full tour of the UK they've also developed into a great live act and will be an ideal opener for the William's Green stage on Friday.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-18 Days: Khruangbin


This three piece from Texas eschew traditional down-home boogie for the esoteric delights of Thai funk and drifting, dream-like grooves, as in the video below.

As you can see, they're not short on talent (or, for 2 out of 3 of them, hair) and when their music find its groove it's a real treat.

Their album 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' was recently released on the Late Night Tales record label, which gives you some idea of the kind of vibe they create. There are a couple of chances to catch them on Sunday this year at Glastonbury - I'll probably see you at the Park first thing in the morning (before drifting over to Four Tet's early morning DJ set in the Stonebridge bar, which will follow this perfectly).

Friday, 3 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-19 Days: Oscar

Indie-pop has somewhat fallen out of fashion these days. Fear not though, as the man to bring it back to sartorial superiority is here, and that man is Oscar Scheller.

With a deep and melancholic voice, the former Central St Martins art school student matches his words with infectious melodies that bring to mind the hooks that 90s Brit-poppers Space used to write. Making 'happy-sad vibes' (his self-confessed favourite form of music) this bedroom-based balladier will definitely ease your hangover into the last day of Glastonbury.

Having seen Oscar live at Visions Festival last summer I can confirm that he's great to watch live, so make sure you head down to William's Green on Sunday to see him.

Oscar at The Laundry, Visions Festival 8/8/15

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-20 Days: Vince Staples

Vince Staples debut album 'Summertime '06' got somewhat lost last year in the general swell of mass appreciation for 'To Pimp A Butterfly'. While it doesn't consistently hit the heights of Kendrick's masterpiece it wasn't without merit, and a slot on the West Holts stage late on Friday afternoon should go a long way to raising his profile in the UK.

Hailing from Long Beach, California, his early friendship with Odd Future helped to propel him into the limelight, something that his current tour with A$AP Rocky is only adding to.


While he might not grab such a large audience as Run The Jewels did in a similar slot last year he'll still be worth seeingon the brilliantly eclectic West Holts lineup.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-21 Days: Ezra Furman

With last year's album 'Perpetual Motion People' Furman produced a record full of wit, warmth and energy while mixing musical styles from 60s do-wop to garage rock and beyond.

In the flesh he's even more energetic, an unpredictable force teetering on the brink of anarchy but just about managing to rein it in.

So let your hair down and join the perpetual party with Ezra and his band.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-22 Days: Oddisee

You don't have to go very far in the pages of this blog to find me singing the praises of Oddisee. One of my favourite rappers ever, he's as brilliant live as he is recorded, as you can see in the live video below.

If you were expecting raps about drive-bys and bitches hopefully that's put you straight. Oddisse is much better than, with an intelligent, lyrical flow that deals with weighty subject matter without ever resorting to cheap shots.

Prodigious in output, he's already released a free EP and a full-length instrumental album this year, and I've no doubt there's more on the way from him too.

I love so much of his stuff it was hard to know what to put on this page, but hopefully there's more than enough here to get you into him. Wherever he's playing (I suspect West Holts or John Peel) I'll see you down the front.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-23 Days: Floating Points

When Sam Shepherd's debut album 'Elaenia' was released towards the end of last year it received massive critical acclaim. Its mix of electronica, jazz and ambient styles took on the kind of atmospheres created by the likes of Caribou and Four Tet and weaved new magic with them.

Having created this expansive world on record, he's since developed it into a live act which is likely to go down a treat on the West Holts stage. With a live band and great visuals he's definitely one to chill out with as the sun sets.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-24 Days: Years & Years

Image result for years & years

This is undoubtedly the most 'pop' and/or 'popular' act I'm going to recommend in the countdown to Glastonbury. I make no apologies for that - there's always been a place on my shelf got the sort of top quality synth-pop that these guys make, from Bronski Beat and Erasure to Royksopp, Robyn and beyond, I've always been a sucker for a great melody with an electronic background.

On top of that I've got a lot of time and respect for frontman Olly Alexander. he's outspoken 9for the right reasons), good to his fans, and seems like a genuinely decent human being.

Just imagine some of these hits being pumped out in the sunshine on the Pyramid stage - it's going to be one of those feel-good Glastonbury moment that you remember for years (& years).

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-25: Mik Artistik

Everyone who goes to Glastonbury seems to have their own traditions - a bar you always go to, a special place to camp, the thing that always makes you feel that Glastonbury has properly started. For the group that I go with that tradition is a trip to see the marvellous Mik Artistik. And since he plays every day from Wednesday onwards, and more than once on most of those days, it's pretty easy to catch him!

He's definitely one of those acts that you have to see live to appreciate him properly - the wonder of 'Plastic Fox' comes alive when everyone is singing along. His songs are the proper Shakespearean mix of comedy and tragedy, and if it's your first time at Glasto then I can't think of a better way to lose your virginity and experience the proper spirit of the place!

Friday, 27 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-26: Maribou State

Maribou State have been around for some five years now, but it was last year's album 'Portraits' that brought them to a lot of people's attention (including mine).

They're playing on one of the stages in Silver Hayes on Sunday, which is great as this morning when I was playing this record I was thinking what a great Sunday morning album it is. It's relaxed but not too laid back, and will ease you into the last day of this year's Glastonbury perfectly.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Glastonbury 2016 - The Ones To Watch - T-27 Days: John Grant

If you've listened to BBC 6music at all in the past few years then you can't fail to have heard John Grant. Former lead singer of The Czars, he's now had 3 solo albums out, and although these may have been patchy in places, he's a tour de force live. The songs from all of the albums seem to have more power and more emotion, and they fit together in a way that you wouldn't necessarily expect.

He's a brilliant performer who really engages with the audience and having met him a couple of times I can also say he's a thoroughly decent bloke. There's some videos below that span his records, so see which version of him you like the best - they'll all show up at Glastonbury!