Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fruits of the Forest


FOR the latest LP in the Baka Beyond project, English folk musicians Su Hart and Martin Cradick went to great lengths - the Cameroonian rainforest in fact.
The latest in 17-years of collaborations between the pair and the tribe, Baka Beyond The Forest's basis is field recordings taken of Baka pygmy women singing traditional African tunes in the nation's forests in the evenings.
Conjours up images in you head, doesn't it?
Can you imagine the likes of Bono and The Edge stalking through the undergrowth, dictaphone in hand, moving in mysterious ways?
Sadly the resulting album, made from these recordings with selected vocal lines replayed by traditional instruments such as guitars and violins, as interesting as it is, is never as arresting as the premise behind it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Brother The creative


DISCLAIMER - although I have given this album a four-star rating, by the time it's released on Monday I reserve the right to change my mind to award full marks for Our Brother The Native's latest.
When I first embarked on listening to Sacred Psalms, I had a three in mind, possibly even a two - I admit I was bored with it to begin with.
However in the space of a week or so, it's grown on me, like some sort of musical parasite.
Hell, it'll probably be in my Albums Of The Year 2009 come December.
The album is a strange one, with some tracks sounding more like a poetry reading over the top of an orchestra warming up being recorded from the far side of a cathedral than a pop song.
As the album progresses, the lyrics do come more to the fore and drums become more apparent in the disparate mixture of influences that the group layer.
With reference points in classical, post rock, folk, indie, world and much else along the way, yet standing alone, Sacred Psalms really is devine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lashings of Lisa

HARD dance DJ Lisa Lashes will be performing a 90-minute set at Loughborough club Rapture on May 1.
The DJ appears at the Swan Street venue as part of T.F.I Tidy alongside Scott Fo-Shaw, Jon BW, Danny Lee and D-Railed. Tickets cost £8.

Clemmons lacks zest


DESPITE the album title's assertions, Texan Jessica Clemmons is unlikely to become a permanent feature in the UK charts with debut Permanent.
This is no slight on Clemmons herself, whose voice is clearly passable - she's the singer of choice for sporting events in her native Houston, by all accounts.
However her pipes are put to no good use singing Permanent's formulaic pop soul tracks that would have been more at home in the early '90s.
These have then been polished so hard at the production desk that they are completely devoid of any kind of distinguishing features whatsoever.
The resulting music is so middle of the road, it's amazing that Clemmons hasn't got cat's eyes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lighten up with a free track from The Heavy

FUNKY folks The Heavy have offered up a free download of their latest track.
You can get your hands on Oh No! Not You Again! featuring Shingai Shoniwa of The Noisettes, which is a taster for their forthcoming album The House That Dirt Built, if you click here.
And do, because it's great.

New Download acts

HATEBREED, Therapy?, A Day To Remember, In This Moment, God Forbid, Backyard Babies, Hostile, Middle Class Rut, No Americana, Esoterica, Suicide Silence, Ripper Owens, Voivod, Sylosis, Turbowolf, We Are The Ocean and Man Raze have all been added to the Download line-up.



CASTROVALVA - a punk math rock band, if such a thing can exist - unleash their debut mini album on May 4.
The Leeds duo, who evoke the spirit of the short-lived pair Death From Above 1979 in ethos as well as application, literally batter their way through the eight-track listing.
Apart from the breather London Kills Me and Bellhausen, which features Leemun Smith as a deranged alternative Justin Hawkins, the eponymous album is an instrumental, heads-down blitzkreig of noise.
And Castrovalva, who share their name with an Italian village, an Escher sketch and an episode of Doctor Who, are either doing something very clever or very stupid underneath their shroud of feedback.
Either way, it's a lot of sweaty fun.
• You can download one of the tracks from Castrovalva, Triceratops, by clicking here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Negative comments


NOW I don't mean to be overly negative about electro outfit Burn The Negative.
In fact half expecting a heavy metal onslaught on pressing play, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Carlisle group's synthpop sound.
However I have some severe reservations about their debut album, In The Atmosphere.
Firstly, this is nothing new, by several decades.
Not a crime in itself, but while the new wave sound is entirely electronic, it's backed by the an array of the most pedestrian, stock house beats.
These in turn hardly liven up Burn The Negative's positively dour new romantic vocal approach.
Burn The Negative - not exactly hot stuff.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Caught in the Webb


THERE'S something about Acrobat, the first long-player from Jo Webb And The Dirty Hands, that I can really empathise with.
And not just the scruffy cartoon on the cover with receding hair and glasses that exhibits some serious Ashe family-style genes.
No, there's an air of honesty about the riffing pop rock on show here that sits somewhere between Weezer and The Feeling.
It's a clever yet fun listen that knows how to kick it when required, and is packed with more hooks than Abu Hamza's wardrobe.
Seriously, just listen to Acrobat, and you'll flip.

Basement Jaxx return

SCARS, the new two-part project from Basement Jaxx, is set for a May or June release for its first installment.
Speaking about the album which features acts such as Yo Majesty, Santogold and Yoko Ono, former Loughborough schoolboy and one-half of the band Felix Buxton said: "It was completely a voyage of discovery.
"The direction always changes according to the people that you meet.
"We set out to make a double album, which we have done, but we are going to release it in two stages.
"The first half now and the second one later."

Rushing to the shops


READING'S The Rushing release their debut this Monday that should have hard rockers rushing to the shops.
Summon The Heroes, as the name implies, has a feel of the classics about it - most obvious points of reference are Pearl Jam, Metallica and Our Lady Peace, and Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins and Queens Of The Stoneage are all cited by the band themselves.
However the album does raise itself above simple homage.
Here huge sounding hard rock numbers abound, that make up for what they may lack in killer hooks with stadium-filling ambition.
A straight rock album, Summon The Heroes goes straight for its target, and hits.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sunny outlook for Merriweather


DANIEL Merriweather, second fiddle to both Mark Ronson and Wiley on recent chart raids, fiddles with himself for his first debut album Love And War next week.
And it’s a pleasure to hear him on this soulful, ‘60s infused collection.
From the supurb Chainsaw to the soulful single Change to the mournful Red, Merriweather’s vocals have a timeless quality to them.
And combined with the evocative guitar licks and hammond stabs which bring to mind acts from Smokey Robinson to the Rolling Stones as well as the slick modern drums and production, Love And War should easily fight its way into most collections.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Summer tunes


WHEN life gives you Leman, er, make Lemanade?
Whatever that may mean, this chirpy concoction of Cameroonian soul and upbeat bossa nova and jazz influences is easily as much of a fizzy treat as a glass of R White's.
Clearly made with a summery smile on its face, Blick Bassy's latest laid back guitar-strumming LP is the perfect soundtrack to a hammock-dwelling day in the garden.
And on that note, I'm going on holiday - so there'll be no posts until next weekend.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brakes stop by


BRIGHTON'S Brakes third album Touchdown lands on Monday, a credit to the group who were left out in the cold by Rough Trade.
Now put out by FatCat, the latest from the 'supergroup', as you can imagine from a group which is laced with Electric Soft Parade, The Tenderfoot and British Sea Power connections, is a proficient collection of indie rockers.
However, with a few exceptions such as stomper Hey Hey and current single Don't Take Me To Space (Man), their schtick rarely raises the bar compared to previous work.
So if you're a fan, then Brake yourself - but otherwise there's no shame in letting it pass you by.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Prefuse refuses to conform


PREFUSE 73, real name Guillermo Scott Herren, is a DJ with ADD.
His latest LP, the out-of-this-world Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian, splits up its 50-odd minutes into a ludicrous 29 tracks, averaging around one minute forty seconds per track.
Now if I could craft hip hop beats half as well as Prefuse 73, I'd want to milk more than 30 seconds out of them.
The LP, the fifth studio album by Prefuse 73, is a barrage of funky beats thrown into a blender of other-worldly wailing, old school hip hop samples and ambient noise.
The result is a collage of choice tracks, all fantastic, and all frustratingly fleeting.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Noisette for a few more hits


I HATE to be the one to upset the rhythm, but flavour of the month Noisettes new album isn't quite up to the standard of their pop chart-conquering, car advert-soundtracking single's sound.
Now being the only song by the London three-piece that I'd heard, that the album opener Sometimes was a ballad was a pleasant surprise ahead of the thumping hit Don't Upset The Rhythm.
And the title track and '60s Motown-sounding Never Forget You could both trouble the top ten in due course.
But apart from that, let's not go nuts.

Cities' breaks


THREE Cities, the second album from Bombay Dub Orchestra, is a cosmopolitan affair.
Production duo Garry Hughes and Andrew T Mackay have again melded western chillout electronica with Indian influences and instrumentation, a formula that served the pair well on their self-titled debut.
It was a nice idea, and therefore everything here is, as a result, well, nice.
The beats are competent, chilled and conservative, and the melodies are restrained and relaxing.
The result is an album you could imagine playing in the chill-out room of a banging Bombay club - although but's more likely to be played on a portable stereo at a stall selling incense sticks, bongs and novelty rastafarian ashtrays at a music festival near you this summer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Steel youself for City Of Thieves


LIKE similarly Street Fighter-titled act Hadouken!, Sonic Boom Six are so in your face their name is derived from an attack.
Their third album City Of Thieves steals from a myriad of genres - metal, rap, jungle, ska, punk and even glam rock - in an aural assault overlaid with menacing inner city social commentary.
It's an interesting idea, but unfortunately Sonic Boom Six are jacks of many genres, but masters of only some.
The ska sections and dance elements here are buried again and again by the proliferation of metal overdrive that's not done as well.
As a result, the overall effect, ironically, ends up as a sort of musical indistinct sprawl representing the inner cities that the band are raging against in their lyrics.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hijak your stereo


AN ALBUM that came to my attention recently, due to the band's connections to my home town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, is BlackSheepMoneyBox, the latest from Hijak Oscar.
The self-released album, the second from the six-piece vudu blues band - don't ask me - came out earlier this month.
A collection of apocalyptic blues that's more Gomez than John Lee Hooker, this is an excellent LP from the group who first rose to fame on Channel 4's MobileAct Unsigned TV talent show.
There are only 200 physical copies of the album and they've all gone - luckily for me I own one - but the album can still be downloaded. Click here to find out more.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Brevity is what?


I LIKE to listen to music in my car.
And working in Loughborough, around 40-45 minutes from my house in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, I can normally listen to a full album on the daily commute.
Now granted I am referring to Good Friday - so there was probably a little less traffic on the roads than usual - but I pressed play on Kris Menace's three-CD marathon debut Idiosycrasies as I left for work, and as I reached the Echo office the CD was in the dying throes of Jupiter, a mere track three on the album.
Up-and-coming electronic producer Kris Menace, no relation to Dennis The, is not a man to do things in a rush.
In fact, if you were to listen to this album start to finish it would take more than three hours from your day.
Aside from that gripe, Idiosyncrasies, which is made up of two CDs of original work and one of remixes, is still a worthwhile listen, made up of slow-growing, DJ-friendly electro and house tracks and some nifty remix work.
The likes of Soulwax, Erol Alkan, Pete Tong and Laurent Garnier are all already vocal supporters of Menace, and should you have the time to listen, I'm sure he'll grow on you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Inspiration Information an inspiration


INSPIRATION Information sees jazz fusion experimentalists The Heliocentrics - a London-based collective who mix jazz with elements of dance and hip hop - and Mulatu Astatke - who mixes jazz and traditional Ethiopian music - fusing.
As Astatke puts it, the album is "a nice experiment".
At first the LP, the third in a series which has seen both Amp Fiddler/Sly & Robbie and Horace Andy/Ashley Beedle paired up, seems jarring and confused, but slowly the coupling melds together.
And with Heliocentrics tubthumper Malcolm Catto delivering some trademark funky drumming, and some Lalo Schifrin style horns from Mulatu's musicians, the results are some inspirationally cool jazz well worth picking up, for your information.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wave Pictures focused


DIFFICULT second album? What difficult second album?
David Tattersall, lead singer of Wymeswold's finest The Wave Pictures, said that If You Leave It Alone, the follow-up to 2008 debut Instant Coffee Baby, was a breeze to make.
And as the LP hits you like a breath of fresh air, you can hear that it was.
Although their rough busker charm and dry English wit is retained, their second outing is less ramshackle in production, and has some sublime touches such as the crescendoing horns on the title track.
Plus all of this is done with a smile on their faces - you only need listen to Bumble Bee, which reminds me of a British woodland animals version of Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side, to hear this is a band having fun.
Quite frankly this is the prolific band's best work to date - if you leave If You Leave It Alone alone, you'll regret it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Skream if you wanna get plastered

DUBSTEP legend Skream has been announced for Dub-Boro 4, the latest event from the night which is held in secret locations around the area.
It has been revealed that the Croydon-based DJ is appearing alongside Rob Sparx and Felis of Kontakt on May 12 - but no venue has yet been announced.
A spokesman said: "Tickets are gonna sell out quicker than an MJ gig at the O2, so get your requests in now!"
If you want to know more about the secretive Dub-Boro event, check out the Facebook page.

Thunder, thunder, Thunderheist, ho


YOU'VE heard of internet dating - how about internet collaborating? Because Canadian duo Thunderheist first made beautiful music together over the world wide web.
In fact, this happened by accident, before they even met in the flesh.
The hip hop electropop collaboration between producer Grahmzilla and MC Isis Salam took off when Grahmzilla accidentally sent MC Isis a track over the 'net, and before returning to sender she rapped over it.
One thing led to another, and well, the result is their eponymous album that's out on Monday.
And with female-fronted electropop riding high at the moment with the likes of Lady Gaga, Santogold and Ladyhawke all the rage, although it's a simple formula, there's no reason why the resulting sweaty, bass-heavy tracks and lusty lyrics of Thunderheist shouldn't have people shaking it too.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Show me the error of my ways

Everyone makes mistakes - but as a fully-trained, professional journalist I'd like to think I don't make many.
But if I do, I'd like them to be corrected as soon as possible.
So if you spot any typos or inaccuracies in any of my posts, please leave me a comment, as smug as you like, underneath the offending post, and I'll sort it out.
Plus, if you're a resident of the UK and you e-mail me to let me know at, I'll post you out a promo CD or two to say "thanks".

Underground all over the world


HIPSTERS, flipsters, and fingerpopping daddies, we give you the international transglobal conglomerate of music.
Run Devils And Demons is the two-CD best of Transglobal Underground, a London-based world fusion collective that's had at least 15 members throughout a 19-year career.
Over nearly two decades the group has mixed world influences from Indian sitars to Delta blues guitars and everything in between, in every direction, with dance music ranging from house to drum and bass.
The results have been eclectic, but everything is tied together by the infectious energy of its execution.
A band which broke new ground and paved the way for acclaimed acts such as Afro-Celt Soundsystem, Talvin Singh, One Giant Leap and Banco De Gaia, Run Devils And Demons is an excellent retrospective on a group which has pushed musical boundaries the world over.

It'll be Nuts

DUMPY'S Rusty Nuts, who have been aiming to make it big in the music business since the year before I was born, bring their heavy metal roadshow to The Doghouse in Loughborough on Saturday, April 11.
The performance at the Nottingham Road venue is the second time around at The Dog' for the Just For Kicks band - as they performed at the pub back in the 1980s, before the floor collapsed closing the venue until last year.
Tickets cost £6.50 or £7.50 on the door. For more information call 01530 458308.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

'60s band aim for Top 40

LOUGHBOROUGH rock band The Carnabys have put the finishing touches to their debut album, Introducing The Carnabys, which is set to be released on Rattle ‘n’ Roll Records later in the year.
To capture the spirit of their music, the local ‘60s revivalists recorded the album with Seasick Steve and Teenage Fanclub-producer Andy Bell in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, without the aid of any equipment made after 1969.
Vocalist Luke Williamson said “We’ve gone back to basics with this project to ensure we’re true to our influences and passions.
“It’s great to be offered this opportunity to release the album with Rattle ‘n’ Roll and we’re just excited about the project even more now they’re on board.”

One worth tracking


LONDON-based Parisians Underground Railroad's new EP, Pick The Ghost, is a spirited affair.
The trio's latest five tracks, leftovers from their album Sticks And Stones, go full steam ahead through some more dirty, punky alternative rock which brings to mind some of last year's most pleasing releases such as The Kills' Midnight Boom.
However here you get the feeling that Underground Railroad, who take their name from the secret system of safe houses used to move black slaves to freedom in 19th Century America, have a lot more to give.
With all the feedback the tracks can turn into a bit of a dirge, which stifles the band's personality a lot of the time - it's no coincidence that the quirky stop-start Breakfast, where the band pause to let it all out, is the best track.
Although they're a band two albums to the good, you still get the feeling on Pick The Ghost that the trio's best is still yet to come.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

New acts named for Download

A DOZEN more acts have been announced for Download festival this summer in Castle Donington.
Joining the ever-growing line-up are The Answer, Fightstar, Bring Me The Horizon, Staind, Stone Gods, Static-X, Shinedown, Volbeat, Facecage, Auger Bane, Sevendust and Go:Audio.

I've Noltes you around, I find you very attractive...


AN ELEVEN-piece Icelandic post rock band and a selection of traditional Bulgarian and Balkan folk tunes may seem like an odd couple - but they make beautiful music together.
This multicultural marriage of influences may be as much an archiving project as an album - Storsveit Nix Noltes members painstakingly researched the music to make sure it was all traditional in composition before setting it to tape - but don't be fooled into thinking Royal Family-Divorce is a stuffy listen.
No, this is a rowdy, raucous rendition of the tunes that would befit a wedding reception, played by a prodigiously talented collective of musicians that have lent their musicianship to Mum and Sigur Ros among many others on a hotch potch of instruments both old and new.
Although maybe not to everyone's taste, if you're looking for something exciting and different, give Royal Family-Divorce a ring.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Buy Gum'


LET Houston producer Yppah, real name Joe Corrales Jnr, take you on a Gumball Machine Weekend.
I'm not sure what that entails exactly - apart from probably a lot of chewing - but judging by this EP, it'll be a real trip.
Although melody-wise there's not a lot going on, the music is a dense collection of joyous noise and guitar licks that make me feel like a spaced out Ray Manzarek playing with his organ in a busy casino.
Added to this by former rocker-turned-electro artist Yppah are the drums, which sound like live breakbeats played by a psychotic drummer.
All in all, Gumball... is plenty to get your teeth into.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Two Fingers up


TWO FINGERS, the hip hop collaboration between trip hop producer Amon Tobin and junglist Doubleclick, is definitely a V for victory.
A menacing, aggresive, politicised statement of an album, Two Fingers is so representative of street level, it's amazing the duo haven't been hugged by David Cameron in a lame publicity stunt by now.
With a supurb line-up of guests including the ever-reliable Sway as well as Ms Jade and Kevin Tuffy, combined with subtle brooding beats and backing tracks, this indelibly British album is a testament to the fact that there's life beyond the staid gangsta rap churned out by the usual suspects across the pond.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pencil in some time for Origami Biro

BASED a mere stone's throw away from Loughborough in Nottingham, Origami Biro make some of the most delicate and beautiful electronica I've heard.
Based around live acoustic instrumentation, principally guitar and double bass, the group - Tom Hill of Wauvenfold and Penfold Plum fame alongside Andy Tytherleigh - use samples to accentuate the prominence of all the incidental creaks and reverberations and scrapes and noises that come with playing an acoustic instrument.
To this mixture of simple melodies and accentuated ambience they add the subtlest of beats, and hey presto - it's like a disco in a National Trust property.
You can hear three of the group's tracks on their myspace page.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Season's greeting

A NEW season of shows has been announced for Loughborough Town Hall.
Musical performances between May and August include Lau, Alan Price, Clare Teal and The Lark Rise Band as well as tribute acts Let's Hang On and Lee 'Memphis' King.
For more information call the Box Office on 01509 231914 or click here.

A few reasons


HERE are just a few reasons why you should support Hundred Reasons by picking up a copy of their latest LP.
  1. Hundred Reasons are as reliable as they come - and new album Quick The Word Sharp The Action is no exception, boasting a handful of sturdy tracks suck as Break The Glass and Boy.
  2. However the band can still confound expectations - for example the laid back Pernavas Iela followed by the ripping riffs and electronic beats of The Shredder.
  3. Singer Colin Doran has a funny little curly afro haircut.
  4. The distinctive timbre of Colin Doran, which had a tendency to chafe on earlier work, now fits brilliantly into Hundred Reasons' vocal harmonies, making this some of the band's most polished work to date.
  5. Hundred Reasons is an anagram of "unharnessed rod", which sounds rude.
  6. The record was originally released in 2007, but despite positive reviews a mere 10 days after its release, their record label V2 was bought out and the album became unavailable again - until Monday, that is.
  7. Ummm, it was recorded in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
Well there's seven reasons at least - feel free to add your own.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dream on


DOWNLOAD-only EP Mr Wobble's Nightmare, the latest release from schizotronic DJ Kid 606, is hardly the stuff dreams are made of.
Berlin-based Venezuelan-born American electronica artist Kid 606, real name Miguel Trost Depedro, attempts to blend as many elements of as many different styles of dance music as he can into each track.
And as you can imagine, the results are a bit of a mess on the title track.
Most in line with the techno scene, Mr Wobble's Nightmare is a bass-heavy, plodding collection of morbid dance tracks which is least taxing - and therefore most enjoyable - on the less experimental tracks, such as Billionaire Bank Run.
It's not all bad - for example the lively Kanji Kinetic remix of Dancehall Of The Dead, the original of which is set to feature on Kid 606's forthcoming album Shout At The Donor.
But for the most part, Mr Wobble's Nightmare is in need of a wake-up call.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wheely impressive


MANCHESTER outfit Spokes' debut EP, People Like People Like You, is impossible not to like, people.
The five-piece take their lead from post rockers such as Mogwai and Jeniferever, fashioning grandiose slow-burners that rarely clock in under the five minute mark.
To these they add evocative rustic folk instrumentation as well as background ambience both sampled and incidental to create an album that sounds like an old friend, from the very first listen.
And with the band currently beavering away on a full length introduction, isn't it time you awoke to Spokes?

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