Sunday, August 31, 2008

Classic thirteen - Piggin' brilliant

IF EVER a band deserved better, it would be The Longpigs.
Born in the heady days of Britpop, the group penned four of the defining singles of my misspent youth - Far, On And On, She Said and Lost Myself - before releasing a dire sophomore album and going their seperate ways.
And although guitarist Richard Hawley and singer Crispin Hunt have both achieved modicums of success since The Sun Is Often Out, the group - named after a cannibal term for humans - are one of the biggest "what if'"s of that era.
Because this LP, which peaked at a lowly number 26 back in '96, was a brilliantly ambitious, bombastic slice of indie way ahead of laughable comtemporaries like Menswe@r and Rialto.
Alhtough in musical history The Longpigs will be a mere footnote, at the time they kicked ass - and I urge you to indulge.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hit and mist


WITH this release, James Yorkston is now four LPs into a career that has promised to deliver, at some point, a truly classic album.
And some sections have already hailed When the Haar Rolls In, named after the mist on the North Sea, as it.
However for me, this unfulfilled promise continues to roll on.
Undoubtedly Fife's James Yorkston can deliver some beautiful, string-soaked folk indie, but it can be so understated it's like he's not saying anything at all.
A ramshackle yet beautifully crafted record, When the Haar Rolls In is well worth a listen, but lacks the dynamism - or should the be athleticism - to make it a truly memorable record.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wave Pictures put their footprint down

YOU'VE heard of the blues - now the world's first green record is to be made.
Wymeswold band The Wave Pictures are set to record their next release with as low a carbon footprint as possible.
According to reports, the band's next EP, out on Moshi Moshi Records on October 6, will solely be available digitally with no physical CDs being produced, and promos and press releases will be sent via email only.
It will be recorded at the solar powered The Premises studio in London, with the band and engineer travelling to the sessions on foot.
The process will be filmed - but entirely on solar-powered cameras.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Majestic LP from Rose Kemp


WOULD Rose Kemp, by any other name, sound so sweet?
Probably - for Rose's third album, Unholy Majesty, sees the singer blossoming into an epic, unique and awe-inspiring proposition.
Influenced heavily by folk - after all, Rose's parents were both in the seminal electric folk band Steeleye Span - the Chris Sheldon-produced Unholy Majesty mixes stoner rock and classic rock, with splashes of goth and prog to create a bruising, stomping backdrop for her talents.
For the star of this ten-track show is undoubtedly singer Rose, whose operatic vocals swing from snarls and growls on the polarised likes of the grinding Nanny's World to the tender Flawless.
The approach to everything on Unholy Majesty is daring and different - and the result is the Bristol-based singer's crowning glory.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reasonable effort


AT FIRST glance, Roots Manuva's fourth studio album, Slime And Reason, appears to have been formed from the same primordial soup as his previous effort, the deeply awful Awfully Deep.
Slime And Reason showcases the same rich, deep timbre and distinctive vocalisations of South London's Roots, real name Rodney Smith, over bass heavy British hip-hop beats infused with dub and electro influences.
But where on Awfully Deep Roots was prone to shouting his point, leading to a frustrating listen, here the focus is more on subtlety - leading him to produce some of his best work since tracks like Witness (One Hope) and Join the Dots from sophomore LP Run Come Save Me.
After a couple of listens, orchestral inflections and piano hints seem to appear, with the Metronomy-produced Let The Spirit showing an almost U-turn in Manuva's sound.
For this reason, Slime And Reason should be one to stick with for Roots Manuva.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do it again!


WHERE do I start, where do I begin?
Brotherhood, the new release from the Chemical Brothers, is a collection of the dance duo's greatest hits "with a kick and twist".
Whatever that means.
Because listening to the album, as a long-term devoted fan of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, I really can't tell how the beats are any more block rockin' than they were before.
Therefore I would question how neccesary this release is, considering they already have Singles 93-03 available.
Gripes aside, however, you cannot argue with the quality of the Chemical Brothers's back catalogue, and the two new tracks here, Keep My Composure featuring Spank Rock and Midnight Madness, don't let the side down.
And having set a precedent with Radiohead's The Best Of and Biffy Clyro's Singles 2001-2005, there really is no way I cannot give Brotherhood full marks.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Local band are cutting edge

IN THE words of Gary Glitter: "Hello, hello, it's good to be back."
Although he probably hasn't said that too much of late...
Anyway, I return from a brief holiday with news that Belton-based band The Young Knives are also planning a return.
For the trio will release new single Dyed In The Wool, the third from the brilliant Superabundance, on September 8.
The track is accompanied by a ground-breaking world-first concept in promo videos, a music video entirely in 3D - there is in fact a preceding video which shows how to make a set of 3D glasses to a experience it with.
Definately one to watch.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Honestly, I'm away

THIS is just a quick note to say I'm going away - that's right, I need a break from criticising others.
I'll be back on Tuesday with another damning critique of somebody's hard work, so you'll have to do without me for four whole days.
But if you think that's bad, when I used to write for the Coalville, Ashby and Swadlincote Times series under the title Honest Isaac (see above), people had to wait a whole week between each installment.
So in a way you can count yourselves lucky.

Classic twelve - Good Bad

THE original idea behind the Classic Collection section of this site was to highlight "a few oft-overlooked classics".
So to pluck an album with 32 million-odd sales worldwide from 'obscurity' might defeat the object somewhat, you might think.
But with a new Michael Jackson studio album rumoured and a best of to celebrate the King of Pop's 50th birthday, and sitting between Thriller and Dangerous in the Jacko discography, '80s classic Bad is worth a pat on the back.
The LP that introduced me to Michael, Bad is pure, unadulterated pop at its coolest.
In fact, of the 11 tracks only Speed Demon and Stevie Wonder duet Just Good Friends weren't charting singles.
And the fact that the others are I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, Another Part of Me, Smooth Criminal, Leave Me Alone and Liberian Girl says it all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Milosh iii's lightweight


DESPITE the deeply disturbing nightmare of an album cover - easily the best album artwork of the year to date - Milosh's third LP is more of a gentle snooze.
Mixing electronica with soul and R'n'B vocals, the Canadian soloist's overall affect is a delicate, beautiful one.
But sadly, what iii demonstrates in originality and sensuality it lacks in bite.
This ultimately means the whole album washes over the listener, sounding like D'Angelo fronting The Postal Service - although for me Milosh's vocals show hints of both Jimmy Somerville and Mika - when what the songs need occasionally is "oomph", a meatier beat or a harder edge to instrumentation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Faff about

A LOUGHBOROUGH University student's band - Wakefield-based The Faff - is set to release a new single on August 25.

Architecture student Joe Tuson plays bass and sings for the band, who release That's A Nice Glove? nationwide on Monday.
The track, backed up by B-side Halves ‘n’ Halves ‘n’ Halves, is an energetic slice of synth-driven indie disco in the vein of Shitdisco and Does It Offend You Yeah?.

Monday, August 18, 2008

So so Go:Audio


THERE may be good noises being made over pop rockers Go:Audio, but to me they seem a little hear today, gone tomorrow.
Because the London-based four piece, who used to be known as The Vacancy, are merely filling a hole in the market, somewhere between Busted and The Used.
Don't get me wrong, they bassistless band are very slick at their schtick on Made Up Stories, and they do it with the energy and enthusiasm of a puppy bounding after a tennis ball, it's just they come across as McFly with overdrive to my rapidly ageing ears.
I know I was a teenager once, but still there's only so many songs about relationships and breakups and cheating girlfriends and unrequieted love and other loin-driven thoughts that should be crammed into one album.
Of course this is a debut, and the youthful band could well mature into a good group - perhaps it should be less a case of Go:Audio, and more one of Grow:Audio next time around.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Charting their rise

CONGRATULATIONS to Castle Donington's Late Of The Pier, whose debut album Fantasy Black Channel has entered the UK album chart this week, at number 28.

Classic eleven - Darc Mind's bright idea


ALTHOUGH only released in 2006 but recorded almost a decade before, Darc Mind's long-awaited, almost forgotten album was still a breath of fresh air.
Originally recorded between 1995 and 1997 for Loud Records, the New York label went bust and Symptomatic Of A Greater Ill never saw the light of day recently, when Anticon unearthed it and put it out to a muted response.
But the Darc Mind duo of rapper Kevroc and producer X-Ray are two treasures that had to be found.
Kevroc's rap style is a laid back one, but with metronome-sharp timing, instrumental old-school phrasing of inplausibly dense lyrics and a Grand Canyon-deep rumble of a voice with which to deliver it.
Add to this sultry boom-bap beats from DJ X-Ray, also known as GM Webb D, and this turns into what would surely have been a grade A classic, forward thinking and with a nod to its predecessors, had it been around in the correct context.
But even 10 years too late, driven by the percussive interplay between drum and vocal and laced with sultry horns, despite being a small fish in a big dog's pond, the album still struts fearlessly in the company of the Kanye Wests, Eminems and 50 Cents of today's charts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Classic ten - Go Loco


BEING a man closer to the bread-line than the upper crust, it's not often I pick up an album and buy it on the strength of a hunch, a mere feeling it'll be good.
However with this Classic Collection addition, which I first found back in 1997 while browsing the shelves of French department store Fnac in Orleans, I went crazy without ever hearing a note of Kid Loco.
Lucklily, Kid Loco's debut studio album, A Grand Love Story, was easy to fall for.
For the French producer's largely unheard of masterpiece is a slice of trip hop so warm you could heat a mug of cocoa on it.
But as well as laid back, comforting string swells, Kid Loco, real name Jean-Yves Prieur, demonstrates a knack for a funky lick and a beat too.
Like his compatriots Air, Kid Loco's music is both dancey and dreamy, showing a stereotypical Gallic streak of nonchalent pop.
So even if you've not heard this album, I urge you to follow in my footsteps and splash out anyway.
You'd be mad not to.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One not to forget

AFTER releasing the brilliant 24 Postcards In Full Colour earlier this year, Fat Cat records are set to rerelease German contemporary classical composer Max Richter's 2002 debut Memoryhouse.
And here, instead of postcards, Richter paints pictures.
Inspired by Max's musical memories of artists ranging from Chopin to Kraftwerk to The Beatles and Bach, Memoryhouse see him explore a running theme throughout.
Always beautiful, never forced and always inventive, Richter - who outside of classical music has worked with dance artists such as Future Sound Of London and Roni Size - uses this to mix the modern with the timeless effortlessly.
And with works of this depth, no doubt in a few years Max Richter will be cited as an inspiration himself, just like his formative musical heroes are to him here.
Unforgettable stuff.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Offer ends

Just a quick note to say that the Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice mailing list tape giveaway madness has come to an end.
Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far, and happy listening.
And to everyone else, to join the list just e-mail with the subject header "I Want In".

Classic nine - Head master

IF HERBIE Hancock's semainal Head Hunters album is not yet in your collection, it's time for you to track it down and capture a copy for yourself.
The four-track LP was a real breakwater for the jazz funk genre, soaking the listener in squelching basslines, wah wah synths, furious-fingered piano, skittering drums and space age sound effects, even blazing trails for genres yet to be invented, such as hop hop and electro.
Amazingly, the pioneering album was released way back in 1973.
Less amazingly, the first half of the album, made up of the all-time classic Chameleon and beer bottle blowing Watermelon Man, are standards today.
Coupled with Sly, a jazz track dedicated to funk musician Sly Stone, and the wild Vein Melter, Head Hunters is a real bounty.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School of hard rock

A NEW season of gigs has been announced at Loughborough University Students' Union.
Leading the line with an appearance on October 9 is Norwegian rocker Ida Maria, who is touring to support her debut album Fortress Round My Heart.
On October 25 Delirious? hit the venue, followed by stalwarts Feeder on November 1.
The on November 11 folk singer Seth Lakeman is appearing, and on November 15 Elliott Minor are playing.
For more information on the gigs, which are all open to the general public, log on here.


THE Off The Tracks Festival in Castle Donington, now in its 20th year, is to be headlined by Dreadzone.
The dub, techno and roots fusion group, best known for their 1996 hit Little Britain, are top of an eclectic bill that includes dance act Eat Static, Turkish performers Oojami, bhangra-raggae crossover act Kissmet, funk band Fat Digester and folk group Tarantism.
The festival takes place at Donington Park Farmhouse from August 29-31.

'Bery boring


MARK Ruebery's debut album Because Of You is less rock band and more rock bland.
For the singer, from Newport in Wales, has clearly put his heart and soul into writing an album so polished and radio-friendly it is ultimately unremarkable from start to finish.
That said, Mark Ruebery still demonstrates a huge amount of pop potential here.
Squeeze the Ruebery and you get a finely balanced cup of Robbie Williams-quality voice but Howard Donald-levels of charisma, Gary Barlow style melodramatic pop songwriting but Mark Owen's, erm, haircut.
But not Jason Orange juice. Take that.
However, while Because Of You's tracks may grab a fair share of radio airtime, with music this middle of the road, the cup will always be half empty.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Isaacs update

IN AN earlier post about the late Isaac Hayes, I wrote that Isaac Hanson was my last remaining musical namesake.
However I was wrong - lead singer of The Fray, Isaac Slade, is still pumping out the hits.
Bizarrely, prior to actually knowing Mr Slade's first name was the same as mine, I had been told that I looked like the pianist.
You can make your own mind up above.

Sad day for Isaacs

RIP Isaac Hayes, the exceptional soul singer who died yesterday aged 65 - anyone who can carry off the nickname 'Shaft' so effortlessly is sure to be missed.
I urge you to take this as a spur to discover his back catalogue, if you're not yet familiar.
As an Isaac myself, the loss will be great, because, not having most run-of-the-mill name, the phrase "Isaac in Hayes" was my explanation of choice.
Now, from the world of music, that just leaves me "Isaac in that guy with the long face from Hanson."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Classic eight - Ben Folds five out of five


FANS of modern day groups such as The Hoosiers, We Are Scientists, Scouting For Girls and other similar rock-band-playing-pop groups would do well to turn their attentions to the absolutely brilliant Whatever And Ever Amen.
The 1997 peak of Ben Folds Five - who were a trio, by the way - and unmatched by Ben Folds solo output, the album has its fingers in many tasty pies, with tear-jerking ballads, tongue-in-cheek rockers and jazz-out improvs all the order of the day.
Recorded on a budget lower than a midget limbo dancer - as testified to by the phone ringing on stomper Steven's Last Night In Town and the crickets on the touching Cigarette - the LP is simply the sound of three prolific musicians, piano, drums and bass, having a lot of fun with their art.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Musical icon

AS I have become something of an iconic figure in the world of online music criticism, you can now celebrate this fact literally - with an Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice desktop icon for your PC.
In addition, you can also pick up a music piracy icon, and not one, but two, that's right, two, desktop wallpapers to complete your computer's fabulous new look.
To get your copy of the full Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice Desktop Package, just e-mail with the subject header "I Want Your Package".

Friday, August 08, 2008

Robson highly strung


LIVING equidistant from Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, I am always a bit taken aback when something worthwhile comes from the latter.
I think the last time it happened was White Town's Your Woman.
So to hear that Phil Robson's Six Strings And A Beat was a product of Derby Jazz Week was something of a surprise.
And what a surprise!
A string quartet, a drummer and a furious-fingered jazz guitarist tackling jazz influenced by everything from classical to blues, Six Strings And A Beat is engaging from start to finish.
Tracks such as the epic Louisiana, the skeletal Songbird and the riffing Hillbleeoos show how eclectic a selection of influences the LP draws from.
Ocasionally it does get a bit much, or Robson lets his girlfriend sing - she may be BBC Jazz Awards Vocalist Of The Year Christine Tobin but really, your girlfriend? - but Six Strings And A Beat is the best thing to come out of Derby since Man Utd visited Pride Park.
And it could be a while until something like that happens again.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Noah smokin'

TWICKENHAM-based hippy indie folk group Noah And The Whale, who have recently completed a tour of British woodlands, are set to take root firmly in the album charts from Monday.
For the sound of the band, which spawned Mercury Music Prize nominee Laura Marling, mixes equal parts Arcade Fire, The Magic Numbers, Willy Mason and Loyd Grossman in a pleasing, smily, summery, radio-friendly way.
But don't be fooled, this is not disposable pop, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is music on a grand scale - some might say Noah And The Whale's ambition is Biblical in proportion - and most of the time it works.
Opener Atoms In A Molecule and breakthrough single Five Years Time are representative of the band's upbeat, lively symphonic pop that dominates here.
Sadly, as the group's nautical name implies, these peaks come in waves, with Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down prone to dragged out slower numbers as well.
However Noah And The Whale's debut is still well worth splashing out on.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mailing list madness

IN ORDER to give you, Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice's most loyal following, a leg up in life, Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice is launching a new mailing list.

To join the ranks, just e-mail with the subject header "I Want In" and I will add you to the official Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice list.
You will then be first to know when Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice is doing anything a little bit different - freebies, surveys, competitions, anything else out of the ordinary.
And to give my online readers a head start, above any opportunistic one-click Loughborough Echo readers, every subscriber who contacts me between now and midnight on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, and provides me with a UK address as well as their e-mail will receive a completely free, randomly selected cassette tape, as modelled by me above.

The Eraser rubbed up the wrong way

THE unavoidable benchmarks for Thom Yorke's The Eraser Remixes - already in stores as three vinyl EPs and available as a CD on import from next Tuesday - set quite a high standard.
The first obvious comparison would be the original The Eraser album, which was Mercury Music Prize nominated and even one of Isaac Ashe's coveted albums of the year, as well as the more electronic leaning Radiohead LPs such as the hugely popular Kid A, and then Thom Yorke's previous dance dabblings with UNKLE.
So no surprise then that this release is a little underwhelming.
The opener, current Mercury nominee Burial's dubstep reworking of And It Rained All Night, replaces the rumbling melody of the original with a sparse, uninspiring garage beat, and although the Modeselektor and Various remixes that follow are a little more inventive, it takes until track four, Four Tet's beautiful remix of Atoms For Peace, for the album to start in earnest.
While Christian Vogel's Spare Parts Remix of orginal The Eraser standout Black Swan and the The Bug remix of single Harrowdown Hill are worth individual attention, overall the album is probably not worth the £25 it'll cost to have it shipped over.
A hit-and-miss affair, The Eraser Remixes is probably one to forget about.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cheer! Late Of The Pier are here

LATE Of The Pier have, in their brief career to date, been compared to The Klaxons, Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Gary Numan, Metronomy and Brian Eno, among many others.
However these comparisons, however complimentary, do not do justice to the Castle Donington-based four-piece's debut album, Fantasy Black Channel.
Because the LP, out on Monday, is an absolute smash hit - it smashes the musical boundaries between electro, indie, rock and pop, it sends the listener reeling with a barrage of sound from start to finish and above it, it sounds absolutely smashing.
Even the less-than-a-minute long intro, Hot Tent Blues, is innovative and interesting, sounding like Flash Gordon at a rave, before the album bursts into genre and mind-bending track after track.
Songs such as Broken, Heartbeat and White Snake are real rock stompers, and singles like The Bears Are Coming and Space And The Woods sound like a vision of the future, lifted from the 1980s.
The album is an electric, eclectic, joyous barrage of music, and the quality never drops from start to finish.
So if you're not yet familiar with Late Of The Pier, get with the programme and tune into Fantasy Black Channel as soon as you can.
  • Keep your peepers peeled for an exclusive Late Of The Pier interview appearing on this site real soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Simian Mobile Disco music


THE 41st addition to the Fabriclive DJ mix series, Simian Mobile Disco's mix follows hot on the heels of their Sample And Hold remix album.
Sadly, this is not quite as good.
That said, it has to be one of the best Fabriclive remixes - although not quite hitting the heights of John Peel (Fabriclive 07), James Lavelle (01) or Plump DJs (08) for me.
The problem here is consistency. The mix starts okay but then Hercules And Love Affair's Blind [Serge Santiago Version] takes it on a vocal detour.
Again, the Simians build up a head of steam, peaking with Worthy's Crack El, and then Moon Dog's Suite Equestria steps in, a creditable enough track but possibly in the wrong place.
Ultimately these are minor niggles in a mighty fine mix, but hey, with Sample And Hold mere weeks ago they set their own standards.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A timely Prod

WHISTLES at the ready - rave classic, The Prodigy's Experience gets a rerelease this Monday.
And it is an experience well worth repeating.
The group's debut is an old school dance classic from a simpler time, when dance was a genre in itself, and Keith Flint hadn't considered bothering a microphone.
As a result this blast from the past is a joy from start to finish, with tracks stretched out for all they are worth, and songs like Charley and Out Of Space showing that back then you could make full throttle dance music with a smile on your face.
In terms of the additions to this disc, unless you're a big fan of early-era Prodigy, you probably don't need to invest - and What Evil Lurks and We Gonna Rock are oddly omitted - but if your collection is lacking in Experience, this is well worth picking up.

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