Thursday, 8 December 2011

Sleazy Skanking: Genre Slags At The Frog And Fiddle

Three glassy-eyed ragamuffins peek suspiciously at me through greasy dreadlocks as I swagger through their spliff’s aroma towards the Frog and Fiddle, feeling a little high-and-mighty with the prospect of blagging my way in as ‘press’ for the first time and thinking it’s probably safe to assume these lot are heading to the same reggae-infused stoner jam as I am. Tonight my good pals Emmett Brown are warming the stage for Bristol-based Zen Elephant and Brighton’s rabble-rousing Samsara; a motley crew of some of the most fantastically outrageous genre slags to have ever bounced the Frog’s sticky floors.

The Orchard – Dead Town EP

Their name may lead you to assume that they’re whimsical yodelling milksops with more beard than bollocks, but don’t be fooled – The Orchard will have your guts for garters. Their debut release, full of menacing, claustrophobic riffs and paint-stripping snarl, finds an unlikely balance between raw fury and chemically slackened sludge. They sound like Black Flag on thorazine, or Kyuss if someone had set them on fire.

Friday, 2 December 2011

MAG Fanzine December Issue

December issue of MAG fanzine is out, profiling the cider-swilling shenanigans of the Gloucestershire music scene. My second review for MAG, a review of Oui Legionnaire's debut EP, is out and ready to read.

Zoft - Electrically Haunted

For me, avant garde music is a thorny topic.  I studied music at a university that was obsessed with the stuff, and have many memories of lessons that were a little like having my eardrums sandpapered. In one classic incident a new teacher asked for our initial opinion to one particularly hideous piece to which I curtly replied “I think it’s pretentious bollocks”, only to find she had composed it herself. Surprisingly, however - despite my calamitous slagging off - I am actually a big fan of experimental music. I love dissonance when used in the right way, I love chaos and unpredictability and I love music with an intellectual stimulus, as long as there is also a visceral, expressive ingredient...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Downpilot - New Great Lakes

What is Americana? For Paul Hiraga, it’s the whole landscape. In ‘New Great Lakes’, his third album under moniker ‘Downpilot’, he paints a heart-breaking picture of his hometown - grey, drizzly Seattle, while infusing it with enough southern charm to turn a bucking bronco into a ‘my little pony’.

From start to finish Paul’s blanket of intimate melancholy is ruggedly beautiful; full of dreamy chord sequences and warm, rustic production. The modest accompaniments to his guitar and piano (brushed drums, an ancient sounding melotron, glockenspiel and so on) are understated and restrained, suggestive of immense power but never satisfying us with the full whack– one of my personal favourite musical effects.

The only thing that taints Downpilot’s music for me is that it’s too easy to see where the influences come from. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has obviously contributed the americana sentiment, with the more tender moments of Wilco and R.E.M filling up the rest. His dusky pipes are a dead ringer for Ryan Adams’. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with having your heroes (especially with such sublime taste), I can’t see that Paul would be left with much if his were taken out of the equation.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Roberts & Lord - Eponymous

If your iPod-fried attention span is, like most people’s, having trouble committing to full-length albums these days, Roberts & Lord have tapped themselves firmly into the jugular of your zeitgeist and may even have found a solution. ‘Eponymous’, their debut album, is a swirling kaleidoscope of wacky sounds; squelching, tweeting, buzzing and throbbing its way through an analogue haze of psychedelic mischief. It caters for those with little patience by fidgeting with them through a montage of clashing elements - each track a new novelty. Roberts and Lord approach pop in the same way that Jamie Lidell approaches soul – with an eccentric imagination in the studio but enough personal style to glue the fragments together into a whole, breathing entity...

Friday, 18 November 2011

Evolution: Studying The Engine From Music's Slipstream

Newport Folk Festival, July 1965

You Can’t Stop The Future, thought Bob Dylan as he glared back into the harsh, stunned gawk of the crowd. Like an ocean of earthy colours and unwashed beards they froze in the bloated summer dusk; bloated like the ozone of a blistering stormcloud. They twitched as they watched Dylan, all black leather and loud, ‘fuck you’ orange shirt, arm himself with an electric stratocaster and jam a buzzing lead into it. Charged with sizzling defiance, Dylan and his band (recruited at the last moment, upon hearing the festival snobs heckle the electric Paul Butterfield Blues Band) gritted their teeth and hurtled into a squawking, feverish ‘Maggie’s Farm’.

The audience howled like a huge, spurred beast as the raggedy speakers shrieked and thundered with lusty vigour. Pete Seeger, an architect of the world that Dylan had just declared war on, grabbed an axe and stomped towards the soundboard.

Or, so they say.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

EMI bites the dust

Times ahead look bleak for artists as EMI, one of the music industry's giants, draws its last breaths - to be consumed by rivals Universal and Sony. This now leaves, considering also Warner, just three superpowers left to dominate the industry. It is unsurprising that times are tough for record companies with the integration and acceptance of file-sharing into our culture, what is perhaps more surprising is that the industry has survived at all. 

In a day and age where so much power is controlled by so few people (whose loyalties lie with the money, not the music), every step towards music's seemingly inevitable new world order is a terrifying one for musicians globally.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Tune Of The Month

           [Free Download]               Captain Beefheart - Moonlight On Vermont

Rarely has rock & roll sounded as utterly deranged as Captain Beefheart. In wild cacophony and without the slightest care given to playing in time with each other, clashing tones, dustbin-lid drums and satanic barking snarl at each other like circling wolves, twitching with rabid bloodlust - it's actually pretty terrifying. According to popular legend the captain once kidnapped and held his band hostage until they played the exact sound that was in his head, without giving them any clue as to what it was. However, if this yowling, bonk-eyed din wan't enough of a warning call to the men in white jackets, they should probably be in the loony bin too.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

MAG Fanzine Debut Article

I have recently become involved with Gloucestershire-based MAG fanzine, you can see my debut article, Lars's Album Of The Month (covering 'how do you do' by Mayer Hawthorne) in the November issue, recently released. There's a free online version, so get on it!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bob Dylan the Crook?

Controversy over plagiarism is a nutritious source of gossip we all like to have a slurp on. Whether it's the Coldplay/ Joe Satriani scandal or Banksy's brazen cribbing of Blek Le Rat, we lap it up with relish and giggle with glee - they've been clocked!

                                               READ FULL ARTICLE

Monday, 19 September 2011

Coldplay's Penis Goes Floppy

When Coldplay released 'Viva La Vida' in 2008, I honestly thought Brian Eno could do anything. If he'd have scaled Niagra Falls using only his teeth I'd have been less impressed - he'd actually made Coldplay sound good. Never having paid them any attention before, I was surprised to find myself eagerly anticipating the next rung on their evolutionary ladder. I have been disappointed.

                          READ FULL ARTICLE

Friday, 9 September 2011

Tune Of The Month

                        PJ Harvey - White Chalk               [free download]

In case you didn't know, shapeshifting songstress Polly Jean Harvey beat Tinie Tempah and Adele to the Mercury Prize a few days ago (thank fuck for that), an achievement which prompted me to get well and truly stuck into her back catalogue. This is the title track of her 2007 album 'White Chalk', an incantation of bleak and eerie wilderness, and a truly stunning piece. There is something very supernatural about PJ's wispydelay-thick vocals and the lonely, haunted Dover landscape she paints with her lyrics. The album is class, and very different from anything else she's done, so if you haven't done already, check it out!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Beirut Rip It Up

Four tenderhooked years after Francis Condan's cosmopolitan rat pack graced us with the French-flavoured gallantry of 'The Flying Club Cup', part three of Beirut's story has finally been unveiled. 

'The Rip Tide', which was released a few days ago, shows Condan at his poppiest yet, with the world influences of his earlier sounds playing a much subtler role. 

                          READ FULL ARTICLE

Fluid Breaks - a Trip-Hop/ Downtempo playlist

Just a few nice mellow tracks, all downloadable. Enjoy!

1.) Amon Tobin - Deo
2.) Eleven Tigers- Stableface
3.) Cinematic Orchestra - All Things To All Men
4.) Thievery Corporation - Sweet Tides
5.) Bonobo - 1009
6.) Quantic - Apricot Morning
7.) Four Tet - As Serious As Your Life
8.) Caribou - Odessa
9.) Blockhead - It's Raining Clouds
10.) Boards Of Canada - Everything You Do Is A Balloon
11.) Bonobo - Ketto
12.) Heliocentrics - Joyride
13.) Super Numeri - When The Sun Dials
14.) Mr Scruff - Jazz Potato
15.) DJ Shadow - What Does Your Soul Look Like
16.) Pilote - Up And Down


Sigur Ros double live album in the post

Having scrapped their near finished 2010 album to "go off and have babies", Sigur Rós aren't giving up on our attention, and will be releasing a double live album, complete with 75 minute film, in November this year. Recorded in 2008, 'Inni' is sure to be a gem in the collection of any sensible post-rock fan.  I'm sure I will be shoving my opinions on it down your throats the second I get my hands on it!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Florence & The Machine teaser

Last sunday, the eccentrically clad ginge and her disciples released an aperitif to their forthcoming second album, due for release in November. This spooky little number is a definite grower, in fact so much so that it's a little difficult to understand why it was picked as a single. Still, can't fault the beautiful Abbey Road production or Florence's effortless vocal control, and I am looking forward to hearing what is looking like a mature sequel.

The Eplileptic World Of Hudson Mohawke

Let me start by saying I really like Hudson Mohawke. Pointing out this geezer is ahead of his time is just stating the obvious. His space-age itchings feverishly hop between styles, twitching with ADHD mania, seemingly having invented their cornucopia of influences themselves. It really is as if he’s here from the future.

                  READ FULL ARTICLE

Stock up on popcorn, Scorsese's George Harrison flick's on the way

The academy-award winning wizard behind 'Taxi Driver' is set to release his third rockumentary on 10th October, profiling the life and sitar-twanging times of the Beatles' own moustachioed guru. Being a slightly obsessive fan of both these titans of pop culture, the wait for this one's got me fidgeting like a kid on christmas eve. In a world saturated by generic Beatles documentaries, surely only a handful of directors are capable of keeping us from yawning through such an endeavor, but the "spiritual journey" through Harrison's life that Scorsese plans to take us on could well deliver. With a wealth of previously unseen footage and unheard songs having supposedly appeared out of nowhere (where do they keep finding all this stuff?!), I'm sure 'Living In The Material World" will have me sobbing in ecstasy like Beatlemania-era jailbait. Who's joining me?

Tune Of The Week

Here it is folks, the first of many.

        Polyphonic Spree - Lithium           [free download]

It's refreshing for someone to breath some air into a tune you've played stale, and having been a Nirvana fan pretty much since I got into music, 'Lithium' needed a pretty decent cover to be rescued for me. Polyphonic Spree's lush symphonic soundscape fits surprisingly snugly over Cobain's angular changes, although this version is surely proof that there isn't an artist in the world who could rub the Nirvana stamp off 'Lithium'. But then, maybe playing someone's song better than them is a little harsh anyway.

the orgy is underway...

           prepare for some grooving you slaaaaaags