Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Number 8 - Deerhunter - Microcastle

Deerhunter plough a farrow that marks them out from the indie guitar orthodoxy.They blend a myriad of influences, MBV, Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride with the art rock of Sonic Youth and some of the latent mentalism of the Liars.

That Bradford Cox is only 26 is scary. You feel that is still loads to come from his fractured muse.

Number 9 - LambChop - Oh (Ohio)

Kurt Wagner is a genius of that there can be no doubt. Through his work with Lambchop he is amassing a body of work that is unrivaled in the cannon. Not that Lambchop are still an band - Wagner and his rotating group of musicians have long since transcended any genre boundaries.

On Oh Ohio Wagner again turns those tiny prosaic moments into musical miracles. He can spin story telling gold from a single phrase, a hushed mumble and some beautiful backing tracks. Hats off to you Mr Wagner.

Lambchop Home Page

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top Ten LPs of 2008 - Number 10 - Ezekiel Honig - Surfaces of A Broken Marching Band

I found this glorious gem of a record on emusic. I was hooked in by the cover even as a tiny jpg on the screen amongst others in the new interface when you log in.

Ezekiel Honig is a Brooklyn based electronica artist and has fashioned a work of wonder and drift on Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band.

This is blissful recording shifting between music concrete, static, reverb,field recordings and twisted acoustic sources. Surface noise dissolves into rhythm, rhythm twists into light, light disappears into dusk, dusk explodes into neon, neon fuses with static space, time bends.

Its a hollowed out ghostly version of dubstep. Its glides on eddies of surface noise and deep dubby drums. You can detect echoes within echoes. There are traces of Pole and Gas but the texture and tone is unique and beautiful. A melancholy reverberating glass heart.

Ezekiel Honig

Monday, December 08, 2008

Durrutti Column Master Tapes Found

Some great news from the Durutti Column website.

Anthony H Wilson's son Oli Wilson has discovered a host of master tapes in his Dad's loft.

The Return of the Master Tapes
A collection of over 50 (yes, fifty) master tapes of original recordings by The Durutti Column (plus a whole load of other tapes by other Factory bands) has been unearthed recently by Oli Wilson during his ongoing work to clear out his dad's loft (the "AHW Loft" to be more precise).

Watch this space for more news as it develops.

The Durrutti Column site is a real treasure trove of information and well worth a visit.

Here's some classic Vini in Finland in 1981

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Order Doubts Even Here v Eraserhead

The New Order reissues have made me come to the releases with a fresh set of ears. I have never really listened to Movement in much depth but now have found that I love it more and more on each listen. Doubts Even Here is a real lost New Order classic, I tired to find a live version to put up here but I think this is much better.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Number 10 New Order Clips - In a Lonely Place

I love this so much. Marvel at how far New Order have moved on from the Shadow of Joy Division. Lyrics by Ian Curtis sung by Barney in his own voice, compared to the pale imitation of Ian on the recorded version.

If Joy Division are long rain coats and gloom, this is class A drugs, synths, sunshine and those nasty shorts.

Faster Steve, faster......

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New Order - My Top 10

I am going to post up my favorite New Order tracks over the next few days with clips from you tube if I can find them.

First my review of the Singles Collection penned for Music OHM

New Order - The Singles

Genius. Simply, pure genius. No doubt, no hesitation. New Order kings and queens of disco melancholy. Rhythm, beauty, melody and bass. God like genius award from the NME. A trifle. You know that Pope Benedict is addressing the calls for their beatification as a matter of urgency. Touched by the hand of god, the perfect kiss, heaven in their hands.

Singles is the perfect review for New Order. All thirty singles, from the brittle sackcloth of Ceremony to the sleek surging Waiting For The Sirens' Call. See, they hail from a time when bands didn't release singles from LPs. Bursting with so many thrills and pills that they dropped faultlessly formed blasts of music on matt black 12" singles. Songs full of languid grace and thumping beats. The Manc fab four. Effortlessly cool and arty.

The shadow cast by Ian Curtis' death, the weight of the myth of Joy Division would have been enough to bury most bands. That New Order not only rose above and did not buckle as people but exploded in a riot of electro, programmed drums and gruff honest humour is a miracle. When U2 went all postmodern and swish they where attempting to ape New Order's jump from the ashes of the past. With U2 it always felt like a mask, a game, a ruse and now they are back grinding out rock music in 1000 shades of grey, with New Order it was a love affair, a taste for New York high life mixed with Manchester low life. The art of parties. It shows in the energy rush, the glee and vibrancy of the music.

Blue Monday is often labelled with inventing indie dance. Sure its huge success brought the sound out of the left-field and onto Top Of The Pops but you can hear the stirrings on Everything's Gone Green and the majestic Temptation. Bernard Sumner's Chic via Salford guitar playing on Temptation is the sound of their past being unstitched and shrugged off. The long overcoats of Joy Division crashing to the floor revealing (if not gold lame, that comes in the video for World In Motion) then reds and blues where once was only grey. In the "woah woahs" of the refrain you can feel the relief, the light at the end of the tunnel. Memories cleansed, the future imperfect

Enigmatic single, followed enigmatic single. Along the way they invented the blueprint for much of the mid 80s indie. The Cure, in hyper poppy style and Depeche Mode owe much to the trailblazing of New Order. Depeche Mode's Enjoy The Silence is New Order in fetish gear. The bassline is pure Hooky. Subculture is a Pet Shop Boy's wet dream. Their sound can be heard in artist such as The Killers (named after the fake band in the Crystal video) and Franz Ferdinand, who think making dance music with guitars is radical. New Order were doing that in 1982!

Not content with re-imagining the limits of pop music, they also provided the cradle for acid house, their club the Hacienda becoming the Northern Mecca for the first generation of ecstasy fuelled ravers. Their finger has always been on the club pulse, leading where others follow. True Faith is an ode to drug use that sounds like a hot air balloon ride to heaven. Fine Time is Barry White meets acid house in a crumbling canal side warehouse, Regret a comeback greater than Liverpool's in the Champions League.

If you have any interest in pop music then sell your soul to buy this. At that price it's a bargain.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Glasvegas - The Best New Band In Britain

At my ripe old age I have become somewhat immune to the screaming hype that comes from the NME. A best new band banner headline in the NME would normally make me YAWH!

Glasvegas are different. Terrible name amazing tunes

I am gripped by a sense of anticipation that I had almost forgotten surrounds the arrival of a debut LP.

From the moment I first heard Daddy's Gone I've been hooked. The band blend the kind of kitchen sink reportage and eye for detail that the Arctic Monkeys excel at marriaged to a blissful, heavy reverb soaked sound. It the Jesus and Mary Chain covering the Smiths with the amps turned up really loud. Their is a yearning and ache in the sound, a scene of loss and hope. I can't wait for the debut LP.

Daddys Gone - Jules Holland

Geraldine - Jules Holland

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Burial - Untrue Review

The landscape of London has had its fair share of bards, poets and punks. The city has been eulogised and damned by musicians as varied as The Clash, The Kinks, Patrick Wolf and even those arch Mancunians The Smiths.

To that list you can now add the name of Burial. The south London dubstep producer has released a collection of songs that has the city's dirty DNA etched into its grooves. The anonymous back bedroom genius has followed his ground breaking debut with a huge leap forward.

Untrue is not the streaked neon and glitter bomb buzz of the West End in the early hours. Nor is it the melancholy romantic sweep of city possibilities so beloved of outsiders. No, Burial has soundtracked the London night out beyond tube lines, the shadowy hinterlands of South London Boroughs. The stuttered shops, graffitied underpasses, the smashed bus shelters and abandoned cars of the endless suburbs. You feel as if you are wandering dazed through the early hours of a Sunday morning. Half-heard mobile phone conversations, reverberations of bass bins in passing cars, snatches of dance music drifting in the air. The lonely sound of a distant tower block party heard coming up through the piss stained lift from six floors below.

This record could not have been conceived or composed anywhere else but in London, 2007. Untrue is a dark record, a refraction of night time, a hazy, hypnotic mosaic of voices, beats, sub-bass and clouds of radio static. It's Iain Sinclair or Peter Ackroyd's psycho geography of London's hidden corners ripped from the page and made flesh. The sound of a ghostly city floating, the past remixed and remodelled into the near future.

The songs unfurl like a blissfully slow comedown, those hours spent waiting for the restless chemical-fuelled dawn. Ethereal vocal hooks, drizzle, crackle, submerged beats swimming to the surface of your dreams. You feel immersed in half-remembered clips of the tunes you heard on the dancefloor, Like the night is continually rewinding then jumping forward, twisting time, bending space.

Never has such a prosaic title as In McDonalds been attached to such a beautiful piece of music. The grandeur is conjured from the briefest whispers of electronic vapour, via slowly evolving string pads and a heavily treated, time-stretched vocal that melts away into thin air. The title track's restless snare-driven rhythm is welded to a soulful vocal sample and a swarming bass frequency that seeps through the mix like an impending headache.

On the nightmarish Homeless the samples, beats and synths collide head-on before the track is stripped back to a haunted twisted vocal, warped bass and the distant sound of gunfire. A weary, weak vocal sample intones "no future" over and over on the majestic Endorphin. The vocal rises and falls away like a voice heard through a broken radio, infusing the music with a sense of dread and unease.

Untrue is complex, stark, tender, blurred and breathtaking. Burial has managed the impossible and improved on his faultless debut. Buy this record, for diverse is the pleasure it will bring.

Burial - Archangel MP3

Monday, April 07, 2008

Portishead - Third Review

Portishead - Third (Island Records)

The release of Third by Portishead has been imbued with a heavy cultural significance. It has been reviewed on the Late Review, generated acres of coverage in the music press and broadsheet newspapers and there is a growing online buzz. It feels less like a release more an event.

In a music scene so deprived of anything approaching sonic innovation, there is a desperate desire for Third to be an audio panacea. That it will push the envelope, blur boundaries, feed our imaginations and extend out expectations. Relight the fire of experimental wonder at the crossroads of dance music and indie.

It’s been ten years since the misfiring second LP Portishead. Ten years? Is that too much of a wait or even a weight.? Has it been worth it? Frankly, no!

Back in 1994 it seemed that Portishead had discovered the future sound of heartache. Dummy inverted hip-hop. Slowing down the beats, removing the machismo and replacing it with angst and twisted song writing. Geoff Barrow strip mined the sonic template of hip-hop, capsizing the structure. These static Luna landscapes and haunted dancehalls where the perfect foil for Beth Gibbon’s smoky evocations.

The signifiers we all too quickly collected collated and copied by a host of pale imitators. The skinny latte genre of Trip Hop was commoditised and packaged. Now blaming Portishead for the likes of Sneaker Pimps is like blaming Elvis for Cliff Richard or The Beatles for Oasis the source material might be the same, the outcomes somewhat different.

The bands reaction to the wholesale larceny of their sound was to get darker, harder and grittier. The second LP, confusingly titled Portishead, replaced samples with live recordings and melancholy with full blown despair. It sounded like a band fighting too hard to distance themselves from their original sonic blueprint. The resulting songs where sterile and still born. Somewhere along the way they lost the magic that coursed through crackled hissing grooves of Dummy.

Third is much closer to the disappointing harsh metallic sounds of the bands second LP. The songs are overloaded with heavy bleeding synths, high whining strings, heavy strained rhythm patterns and a far too many turgid guitars.

Yes Third is dense but devoid of tension. It aims to be abrasive and harsh but comes across merely ingenuous and brash. You get the feeling that the band where aiming for something edgy, maybe the nightmarish soundscapes of Scott Walker’s Drift. If that was there intention they are wildly wide of the mark.

The Drift is bone chilling, a myriad mix of disconnected sound and complex Gnostic lyricism. A scream into the dark emotional void of the 21st Century. The only blood curdling aspect of Third is Beth Gibbon’s appalling lyrics. They are thrown into a stark and unforgiving spotlight, much more audible than on previous releases. They are so pitiful, sub teenage Goth platitudes that would be unforgivable for a teenager. That the author is over the age of 40 beggars’ belief.

The lyric issue wouldn’t be so crippling if the music wasn’t so grey, ponderous and lacking in dynamism. Yes the have attempted to broaden their palate and range. Acoustic guitars and folk melodies intertwine with the beats and strings. Unfortunately you soon realize that Beth Gibbons wouldn’t even scrape a living as a folk artist on the Bristol Pub circuit. The material on display is so pallid and clich├ęd. The Rip is awful collision of Fairport Convention and Kraftwerk, all flimsy pastoral imagery, wishful melodies and analogue synths. The hook to Machine Gun is a stunningly prosaic rhythm track. A slowed down blunted version of that kick drum pattern that powers New Orders Blue Monday, repeated over and over again.

Third starts promisingly enough. Silence rattles along on some frantic percussion and descending bass notes, the guitars spidery and inert. Portishead by number maybe, with it’s grainy film nor atmospherics but it is the stand out track. Hunter is a lacklustre folky lament with a pedestrian rhythm that is juxtaposed with a bleeping synth interlude in a failed attempt to inject some interest.

Disappointingly ordinary, you can help but feeling the alchemy that Portishead summoned up on Dummy was a fluke.

Tony Heywood ©

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

American Music Club In Bristol

A few photos the set list and hopefully a video (shot on my phone) of Hello Amsterdam which they opened the set with.....its sideways but you get the idea!! Will try to work out how to change it...