Monday, March 31, 2014

New Order - Drop the Guitar Live in Chile 2014

New Order have previewed their first new track since 2005's Waiting for the Siren's Call. Played live in Chile as part of Lollapalooza Chile on the 30th March 2014. The song is the first new material since Peter Hook left the band. Although Hooky is no longer a member the song has the familiar bass rumble, a spidery guitar part that is very mid period (circa 1985) New Order and a Barney vocal that is prime New Order. It sounds more like New Order than the recent Bad Luienent stuff although the only difference live is Stephen Morris. Sound like a return to form to my ears.

More information here:

Fact Magazine -

Slicing Up Eyeballs -

Consequence of Sound -

The Redemption of Martin Hannett - Book and DVD Release

The genius of Martin Hannett (Joy Division, New Order, U2 and Happy Mondays producer) is too be celebrated with a new book and DVD film both released in April.

Hannett's story,he died of a heart attack in back in 1991 aged only 42, has gone mainly unrecorded despite the wealth of material produced on Factory Records.

Cerysmatic Factory who have seen the DVD outline it below:

featuring contributions from Tony Wilson Vini Reilly, Bruce Mitchell, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Tosh Ryan, Steve Hopkins (Invisible Girls), Mark Radcliffe, Dave Formula, Reni and Andy Couzens (Stone Roses) plus many othera.

This is no flash expensive BBC documentary, it's a gritty warts 'n' all tale of experimentation, laid bare with the minimum of trickery and a host of wide-eyed observers...."

You can order directly from here:

This is great interview between Tony Wilson & Martin Hannett. .

The song being "produced" is Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls - The Visitor have a listen below. Listen to the snare drum!

There is also a sample from the video in the first two tracks from The Durutti Column's A Paean To Wilson.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wildest Woes - Sam Radcliff

This great little EP popped into my inbox a few weeks ago and I have been returning to for repeat listens. It was recorded in a bedroom in Berlin by Sam Radcliff and has shades of few cool things in its grainy mix.

The opening track reminds of James Blake and the club sounds of East India Youth. The title track Wildest Woes ripples like a lo-fi The XX and crackles like a male fronted Young Marble Giants. The whole EP is worth a listen and a few of your £'s to download. Hopefully someone will pick up the EP and give it a big promo push as it deserves to be heard by a bigger audience. One to listen out for in the future.

I can't get the player from Bandcamp to imbed so I will come back to it later if I have time.

Widest Woes EP - Sam Radcliff

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Actress - Welcome to the Headspace

There is a wonderful interview in the March edition of Wire Magazine with Actress (aka - Darren Cummingham ). It covers a fair amount of ground looking at his background in Wolverhampton, his promise as a football player that got cut short by injury and his move to London. Cunningham comes across as rather otherworldly, living in a kind of altered urban reality. He has interesting things to say on the nature of reality, space, music, how music can heal and attempting to get the sounds in his head out in musical form.

Under the Actress moniker he has released 4 LPs, Hazyville (2008), Splazsh (2010), RIP(2012) and his latest release Ghettoville (2014) on Ninja Tunes. Imagine the fractured musical sound of Burial refracted through a hazy mesh of broken speakers, weed smoke, field recordings and relentless rain. It sounds like the film Se7en looks, a noirish combination of grimey undercurrents and forward motion.

There is a small glimpse into the music making process for Actress and the analogue equipment, field recordings and overloading of circuits that are crucial to the weird, warped sound world that features on the Actress releases.

Below is an Actress track Grey Over Blue from his Ninja Tune 12"  that outlines the kind of dislocated sonic ground that his LPs traverse. I would recommend buying the LPs and losing yourself in the blurred South London via Wolverhampton head space of Darren Cunningham.

Quietus Interview -
Electronic Beats Interview -

Friday, February 28, 2014

Belgian Fog - Loveless Way

Belgian Fog is the musical alias of Robert Dale from Washington State and he works at KEXP in Seattle and has produced a sparkling gem of a track. The songs is propelled along a strident bright programmed rhythm box, a cute melody line and a great vocal that sweeps from a mellow croon to a soaring falsetto. There are shades of New Order in he guitar coda towards the end and it also reminds me of the more synth driven work of Stephin Merritt's work on those early Magentic Fields releases. That's not to say that the track sounds overtly retro it doesn't, the production, the beats the whole feel is fresh. It strikes me as hybrid of The Weeknd's warped R&B and the confessional  indie of Bon Iver or Bright Eyes with some added Hot Chip.  It has already worked its way to my head and hopefully there will more music in the near future.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Postcode – Zebratronic (Small Bear Records) Review

One of the main joys of the internet for me is the ability to stumble across new music and then get directly to the source via few clicks of a mouse. I love Soundcloud and Bandcamp for allowing you to listen to tracks and purchase directly (or almost directly) from the band of artist.

My latest discovery (via an email) are Postcode. Postcode are based in the Isle Man, not a renowned hot bed of musical activity. I have a friend who grew up there in the 1980s and at the time it all seems to have been all heavy metal, motorbikes and the odd gig by Dumpys Rusty Nuts. It’s came as a pleasant surprise that Postcode are not metal and they don’t mention motorbikes! Zebratronic is the third LP from the band.

On Zebratronic the band (Mike Daugherty music and Marie Reynolds words and vocals) blend fizzing synth lines, brittle drums, warm distortion and plaintive vocals into a heady and beguiling mix.  It reminds me of dark pop hues of Garbage, the stark melodic intent of Client or the bruised electronic goth of Curve.

The opening track “Back by Dawn” starts with a brooding Joy Division bassline and a crisp rattling machine drum loop before Marie Reynolds vocals become the perfect foil for the music, uncoiling slowly before the blizzard of guitars kick in around 2:20.  Dodge City is an amphetamine rush of overloaded guitars and drowning vocals, Pound is built around a punch drunk drum pattern, snappy bass & guitar hook and razor blade guitars. The epic Resurrection clocks in at 7:18 and shifts through the sonic gears from its jangling guitar intro, via a sprightly snare roll hook to blasts of guitar sludge and distorted vocals and an ebbing slow burning ambient bridge before the sonic onslaught returns. Autumn is a real gem, a twinkling music box melody bouncing on top of circling chord sequence, swirling sweet caramel multi-tracked vocals and a sly infection rhythm box. Imagine early New Order fronted by Romy Madley Croft and you get the idea. It would make a great single.There is an extra track on the CD a great cover version but I will let you discover the pleasures of that yourself.

The CD is released via Small Bear Records label and you can order it directly via their Bandcamp website. Mine came with a free copy of a Small Bear compilation, free badge and a post it note from the band.  The CDs are very well packaged with great quality artwork and finishing. My daughter loved the cover of the Zebratronic CD. At a £5.00 it really is a steal.  All this great music for less than the price of a decent cup of coffee and a muffin.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hacker Farm - Sumorsaete Flod

I have been a big fan of the Hacker Farm collective since reading a piece in The Wire in May 2013. The collective live and work on an abandoned Farm in the Dorset countryside and the artists include:

Hacker Farm
Kemper Norton
IX Tab

There is a neat little playlist from The Wire - link below

The Hacker Farm collective itself is made up of Farmer Glitch, Kek-W and Bren. The work using dis-guarded and broken electronics, home made sound generators and field recordings. The track Sumorsaete Flod is a new piece of haunting glitchy ambient that was posted up on the 19th February. From the title, artwork, watery field recordings  and wildlife sounds running through the track it is clearly connected to the recent flooding in the Somerset Levels.

For musicians it must be wonderful to be able to produce something and get it out to the public so quickly without having to wait for post production, mixing, pressing and manufacturing. A pithy listen for wet wintry days in the south west of England.

Steve Albini Talks In Utero, Nirvana and Shellac.

I have recently uncovered this great interview with Steve Albini @ were he talks in depth about recording (he always says he doesn't produce records) In Utero with Nirvana  back 1993. The podcast is from 2013 around the time of the Super Deluxe re issue of In Utero,. The reissue contains amongst other things the original Steve Albini mixes for Heart Shaped Box and All Apologies. These mixes were pulled at the time and replaced with Scott Litt mixes, there is also a new "2013" mix of the LP from the master tapes, demos and live versions.

It must say I prefer the Albini mix of All Apologies over the version issued at the time. It's harder, darker with add grit.

The demo version with lots of acoustic guitars is also rather lovely and sounds like R.E.M. circa Automatic for the People, although the vocals are low in the mix and it sounds as if the lyrics hadn't been worked out when it was recorded.

I wonder what an Albini produced R.E.M. would have sounded like?

Steve Albini comes across well and has some good points to make about the reissue industry in general, the mixingand mastering of the reissue, the story behind the 2013 mixes and how the record caused him no end of issues in the year & half after its release. He does come across as bitter or angry at his mixes being removed and in fact comes across as lack any ego in term of his "producer" status.

The full interview is here:

You can see a copy of the letter they discussed here:

The Go-Betweens - Oceans Apart LP Review

The Go-Betweens seem to be cursed. They are a classic example of the Big Star music law. The law that states that no matter how much critical acclaim you receive, regardless of the majesty of your records you only ever attain cult status. A name to be dropped by the musically obsessed. Adored and worshipped by a small but fervent fan base but your sales eclipsed by novelty records and reality TV runners up enjoying their brief fling with fame.
The Go-Betweens where formed in Brisbane by friends Robert Forster and Grant McLennan in 1978. This is the band’s ninth LP and their third since reforming in 2000. These Aussie songsmiths are still mining a seam that is pure musical gold.
The songs on Oceans Apart are split 50:50, five songs written and sung by Forster and five by McLennan. The songs complement each other beautifully. The LP is stamped with the band’s trademark gift for plush intricate melodies and sophisticated wordplay. The sound is mainly autumnal and burnished, hushed and fragile, but infused with dark hues and subtle black humour.
The opening Here Comes A City, penned by Forster, is propelled along on a set of sparkling frenetic guitar chords. It’s the tale of a journey by rail across Germany. Images of other lives glimpsed briefly through the carriage windows, flicking past like frames in Wim Wenders’ films.
It’s followed by the warm and arresting, Finding You. The song begins with a crystalline melody, shimmering off the strings of McLennan’s acoustic guitar. His voice rich and tender, an aching cello adds a bittersweet undertow and a biting distorted guitar swoops in. It builds, gently unwinds, builds again and then evaporates into a blissful double tracked vocal. When McLennan sings “and then the lighting finds us” the hairs on the back of my neck prickle and my heart swoons.
Forster and McLennan manage to tackle the subject of aging with dignity and grace. Forster’s Darlinghurst Nights is a wistful and witty rumination on a misspent youth. A funky brass section buoys the song, the lyrics painting a picture of the hubris of the young. Too many nights spent drinking “gut rot cappuccino” and dreaming of writing film scripts and jetting off around the globe.
McLennan’s Boundary Rider is a subtle update of their classic Cattle and Cain. An organ drone gives way to another wonderful sparkling melody. The lyrics tell of a ranch hand that age has suddenly caught up with and who can only survive by surrendering himself to the prosaic nature of his work.
This Night’s For You sounds like Teenage Fan Club rewriting The Cure circa Head On The Door. Cooed backing vocals, strings and crunching smoldering guitars. The closing Mountains Near Delray is REM relocated to the chilled out streets of Brisbane. There are haunting country style guitars and a gentle lingering organ part that unfurls like a spring morning. The lyrics are cryptic, full of clipped images, a search for a rural hideaway maybe, a reflection on an idyllic childhood possibly. It’s a beguiling and striking way to end a wonderful record.
Tony Heywood (C)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Boyfriends – The Boyfriends LP Review

A certain Mr Steven Patrick Morrissey hand picked the The Boyfriends to provide the support on his UK tour. From the opening bars on their eponymously titled debut LP is easy to hear why. Martin Wallace’s croon bears a striking resemblance to the bard of Manchester’s own weary tones. The band punch their instruments with the passion that fired The Smiths.
There is a crackle, a swoon, a thump that rushes out of your speakers in vaguely 1980′s indie style. But are the Boyfriends more than a bunch of Handsome Devils, a gang of Charming Men? Does the music oscillate wildly or is it a pale imitation or a well thumbed record collection? Are The Boyfriends a miserable lie?
Well, strike me down with a feather, hang out the bunting and turn off your phone. This is something to treasure. Despite my huge reservations and my obsession with The Smiths, I am smitten with this record. There is more than enough invention, wit, wisdom and zeal here to mark the Boyfriends out as something special – a rare band, even. Wallace’s words are by turns heartfelt, funny, clever and well observed.
Thankfully all the quick word play is not lost in a stew of Albion skiffle. That fragile indie sound that has ruled the roost since Pete and Carl split is nowhere to be seen. The lyrics soar across the ominous mechanical throb generated by the band. If you were looking to The Smiths for reference then this would be them in their post The Queen Is Dead glory. This is not meek or delicate – the guitars lash like Bernard Butler jamming with The Who.
The opening Brave Little Soldiers is a bold statement of intent. A set of chords ripped through with glorious abandonment, the rhythm snarls with dark intent. The lyric a call to arms, a plea to keep your dignity and your individuality in face of indifference. The guitar riff is as catchy as a common cold. British Summer Time opens on a reverb heavy riff that builds slowly to its Graham Coxon style fractured melody.
When Martin Wallace sings “It is far too a nice day to be in playing scrabble, let’s slap on some factor 15 on and join the half naked rabble…” I can’t suppress a smile. The picture he paints of London hanging out in the summer time would make Ray Davies proud. It could be a Blur classic apart from the fact that Wallace displays empathy for his subject matter and not misplaced scorn. The military drum rolls match the mood delightfully.
The bassline and toms that open Adult Acne provide Richard Adderley the space to show off his chops. From atonal sparks, via wah wah funk to the chiming chorus, the playing is a master class in precision; mind your backs for a new guitar hero. Adderley further enhances his reputation with the dissolving chords that open I Love You. An aching plea, a declaration of love that pricks the skin like a tattoo needle, leaving an impression long after the sensation has faded. The guitars are like whiplash on the bullet train. There is Always Hope closes the LP in a slowly drifting maze of melody and noise. Eight minutes of melancholy bliss.
Everything here is disciplined and succinct, nothing over stays its welcome, the whole collection hums with purpose. The only thing that stops me declaring it a stone cold classic is a certain lack of variation. It’s nick picking really. This is music of passion and soul. If you miss this you’re a fool.
Tony Heywood 
Original review first published here -

The Bands Myspace Page -