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 -

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Phonautogram - Winter North Atlantic - Live links and LP edit.

Winter North Atlantic are new to me but after reading a review in this month Wire magazine I have downloaded the LP Phonautogram from emusic and have gone hunting out whatever else I could find online.

Winter North Atlantic is a musical alias of Ed Carter and Phonautogram is the third LP they/he has produced.

"The phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound. Previously, tracings had been obtained of the sound-producing vibratory motions of tuning forks and other objects by physical contact ..."

Inspiration for the music on the LP was taken from the idea of this early recording/play back device.

The LP was  launched at Sage Gateshead back in October and two tracks from that performance are below. It reminds me of a wide range of electronica and ambient stuff that I love, blending electronic elements, processing and acoustic instruments into a fully realised warm and beguiling soundscape.

Shades of Tim Hecker, Doll Boy, Belong, Faust and Can.

There is also a brief session and interview for the BBC Introducing in the North East

There is also a four minute edit of the LP produced by Winter North Atlantic on Vimeo that can be downloaded.

Phonautogram album edit by Winter North Atlantic from Winter North Atlantic on Vimeo.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Art of Noise Remixes – Moments in Love and Close to The Edit

The Art of Noise have always been a band I have loved since the first time I heard “Close to the Edit” back in 1984 aged 13. Well apart from the Prince thing with Tom Jones which is terrible. I played the debut LP “Who’s Afraid of the Art of Noise” to death at the time and have two copies on vinyl with different cover art and track listings.

I was intrigued by the mix of samples, news clips and melodies. It was unlike anything else I had ever heard at the time and in reality it was ground breaking in its use of the Fairlight Sampler, cut and paste techniques and Paul Morley’s situationist/futurist adverts, texts and graphics. A whole new world to get lost inside. Head spinning stuff for a young lad used to listening to Paul Young records.

I have seen it quoted fairly frequently that they are the most sampled act of all time, I personally would have thought it would be James Brown, but much like the “fact” that Blue Monday by New Order is the biggest selling 12” single of all time it’s impossible to really know.

What is clear is that the band were a big influence of electronic music, the evolution of the use of the sample and hip-hop generally. The bands tracks have been remixed and reworked in multiple formats and oddly they whole project started after a remix of the Yes Track “Owner of Lonely Heart” by two recording engineers Gary Langan and JJ Jeczalik. The Red and Blue mix of track used a number of samples of Yes that would be reused on the tracks produced by The Art of Noise.

Of the remixes of the bands tracks (official and unofficial) I love the following reworking of Moments in Love.

The Rhythm Scholar mix of Close to Edit is also great, great Paul Morley sample and I can even live with the Tom Jones vocal clip!

Neneh Cherry – Everything (Villalobos & Loderbauer: Vilod high blood pressure mix)

Having not really thought about Neneh Cherry for years she seems to have somehow worked her way back into my musical consciousness. I unearthed a copy of her seminal Buffalo Stance Remix 12” in a charity shop last week and then her new LP is reviewed in this month’s copy of the Wire magazine.

It sent me searching online for new tunes and I uncovered this amazing Richard Villalobos and Max Loderbauer remix of her track Everything on Soundcloud. Everything closes the new LP Blank Project and has been released as the second single. The original as 7:21 is hardly likely to bring her back to the charts but it’s a great track.

The rattling electronic prime evil swampy trip-hop of the original (supplied by electronic duo Rocketnumbernine and Kieran Four Tet Hebden production) has been stripped back and replaced by a lovely pulsing bassline, slow mo rhythmic ticks and the vocal cut, sliced and diced across the mix in a series of grunts, sighs and vocal tics and generally dub it up brilliantly.

Have a listen below:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Classic Chicago House Mix Tapes

I caught a brief snatch of "Love Can't Turn Around" by Farley "Jack Master" Funk and Darryl Pandy on the radio the other day. Its a great record and it makes me think the first time I heard any "house" music back in 1986 when I would have been 15 years old. There is a piece in the Mike Skinner book (The Streets) about exposure to "club music". For most kids it comes initially via radio, peoples cars and back in the day via Top of The Pops. I was far to young to go clubbing and in the part of south east London I lived in they wouldn't have been playing "house" and they only time I saw a DJ live would be at a school disco or a wedding. I can remember "Love Can't Turn Around" on Top of The Pops and thinking it was wonderful. I had no idea it was a "house" record. I just loved the vocal and the bassline. I was just finding my musical feet/taste at the time and I think I would have been living on diet of The Pet Shop Boys and The The's Heartland LP. Although I ended up mainly as an indie kid/goth with a soft spot for house, acid house and most types of strange hued dance music.

The performance from Top of The Pops  is below and it is every bit as glorious as I remembered it. I always thought I had dreamt the bit of him going on his back at the end, but no there it is.

Big soul vocal hooks over a thumping bassline and electronic drums, what's not to love about that!

I had no idea it was originally a house track called "I Can't Turn Around" by J.M. Silk.

So it opened an internet wormhole and I started to look for some classic house mixes and came across this great blog. A mixtape a week by a US based  "DJ, producer and record nerd" -

There are a wide range of styles covered on the blog including Ghetto House, Post Disco Pre House and a Hi Energy mix.

The Chicago House mix is great, covering a wide range of classic tracks and is well paced and mixed.

Classic Chicago House Mix

I also found this great mix on SoundCloud by Leroy Skibone

Close to an hours worth of classic Chicago House. Track listing below:

Kreem - Triangle Of Love (Remix) (Vocal Mix) - 00:00
Lil Louis - French Kiss (The Original Underground Mix) - 03:33
Farley Jackmaster Funk - Clap'n The Pella - 06:28
Bigger Than Life - World Of Make Believe (World Of Samples) - 10:59
Rhythim Is Rhythim - Nude Photo - 13:46
Fast Eddie - Acid Thunder (Fast Thunder) - 16:19
The Lincoln Boys - Check It Out (Bad Boy Mix) - 17:50
Bam Bam - Give It To Me (Instrumental Mix) - 19:06
Mix N Tel - Feel The Beat (Mix 2) - 22:09
Kenny Jammin Jason with Fast Eddie Smith - Can U Dance (Can U Drum) - 24:41
Mr Lee - Come To House (Club) - 26:13
Quest - Mind Games (Underground Mix) - 29:23
J.M. Silk - All In Vain (London Mix) - 32:11
Criminal House - Rhythm Talk (Rick's Mix) - 35:46
Mickey Oliver and Ralphi Rosario - Pump Up The Acid - 38:34
Mark Imperial and Dennis Ramirez - Rock This House (Bassline DJ Groove) - 41:06
J.M. Silk - I Can't Turn Around (House Of Trix Mix) - 43:08
Mr Lee - Acid Pump Up London - 47:27
Mark Imperial - J'adore Danser (Club Mix) - 51:45
Armando - 100 Percent Of Disin You Remix (Mike Dunn's House Mix) - 53:31


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Half and Hour with Mark Eiztel in Amsterdam 2013

A great video of Mark Eiztel playing the Paradiso Amsterdam in 2013. I assume although I don't know that it is an edited set list but its still a wonderful performance of some classic American Music Club and solo material. It's a shame the banter has been cut back as Mark is often very funny in a deadpan kind of way.

The track listing is as follows:

  • Mission Rock Resort
  • Dead Part of You
  • Apology for an Accident
  • Blue and Grey Shirt
  • Decibels and Little Pills
  • Bad Liquor 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Dean Blunt - New Mix Tape Skin Fade Free Download

The every elusive and odd Dean Blunt has dropped a 27 minutes free mix tape titled Skin Fade. The "tape" by the Hype Williams main man is a collaboration with Joanne Robertson. The tape seems to take a his obsession with the 80s pop has taken a slightly left-field shift towards a more underground/indie sound source. The song fragments at times sound like lost 4AD demos.

The Soundcloud posting appears to have gone but follow the links below to a download of the set. The track below is one from the pair from last year.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Yellow Loveless - My Bloody Valentine Loveless covered by Japanese Shoegazing bands

Stumbled across this great record today. I have always been a fine of the cover LP and this version of the seminal My Bloody Valentine LP Loveless by a range of Japanese shoegrazing bands is brilliant. I don't imagine when Kevin Shield was going mad, staying awake for days and spending all Alan McGee's cash on Loveless he dreamt that one day it would be covered by a wide range of artists from Japan.

The CD never appears to have had a physical release outside of Japan but it can be purchased here  -

The track listing and timing are below:

1 東京酒吐座 – Only Shallow 4:27
2 Goatbed – Loomer 3:19
3 Sodom Project, The – Touched 4:48
4 Lemon's Chair – To Here Knows When 11:18
5 少年ナイフ* – When You Sleep 3:21
6 東京酒吐座 – I Only Said 5:13
7 Age Of Punk – Come In Alone 4:05
8 Boris (3) – Sometimes 8:12
9 Shinobu Narita – Blown A Wish 5:12
10 Lemon's Chair – What You Want 6:19
11 Sadesper Record – Soon 6:21

Nice article at Tiny Mixtapes about the LP  -