Monday, August 31, 2009
THE time is right for 11:11, the new album by Rodrigo Y Gabriela, a Mexican duo of two metal fans that play Spanish guitars who had to move to Dublin, Ireland, for their flamenco music to be noticed.
And this cosmopolitan theme is continued on the group's latest LP, with guest spots from Iranian-Costa Rican flamenco duo Strunz And Farah and American jazz metal guitarist Alex Skolnick.
There's lots to stroke chins about - not least that each track is dedicated to an act that's influenced the pair, such as Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag Darrell and Pink Floyd.
But the draw here, as on their self-titled previous release, is the amazing interplay between guitarists Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero, whose energetic strum-and-solo style is simply finger picking good.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Produced by Mars Volta member Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and with a new backing band, The New Romantiques in place of The Licks, Lewis sounds refreshed.
Country and blues tinged rock tracks like Terra Incognita, Noche Sin Fin and All Is For Good see Lewis balancing abandon and accessibility brilliantly, like a drunken Sheryl Crow shooting vultures with a shotgun.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I LIKENED The Dodos 2008 album Visiter to a lovable hobo - their 2009 follow-up Time To Die is the equivalent of washing said hobo and putting him in a suit.
Because although the latest LP is less dishevelled and more confident than previously, it’s also missing some of its original charm.
There’s still a lot to love in the group’s brand of ramshackle psychedelic folk.
But if Visiter, with all it’s critical praise, didn’t crack the UK, don’t expect The Dodos to take off any time soon.
DANCE act Basement Jaxx are to part company with their record label XL - claiming that releasing music isn't what it used to be.
With the release of Scars next month the group will have fulfilled a five-album deal, and a new contract has not been offered, say the pair.
Former Loughborough schoolboy Felix Buxton said: “XL haven’t offered us a new deal, but I didn’t imagine they would.
“You don’t need a record company now - they aren’t so relevant. All you need is someone to distribute your music.
"Besides, you only make money through touring now.”
Luckily, Basement Jaxx will follow the release of Scars with a tour including a series of North American DJ dates.
ANYONE expected more summery folk-pop chart-troublers on The First Days Of Spring will be as disappointed as Noah was when that pesky whale swallowed his arc.
For Noah And The Whale have had a change since their last effort, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, which was typified by the hit Five Years Time.
Demonstrating their love of an orchestra, the group have dropped the pop element, and gone all classical, with seven-minute tracks which rise and fall like movements replacing the pop nuggets - and where before they sang of love, here they sing of heartbreak.
It's utterly unexpected, it's utterly enthralling, and it's utterly brilliant.
Friday, August 28, 2009
PRIOR to this review, I had the impression that Just Jack was a watered down version of The Streets - The Canals, perhaps?
But listening to the opening singles showcase on his new album, All Night Cinema, I had to give him credit.
Curtain raiser Embers is a fantastic track, perhaps his best to date, while sure-fire single 253 and his current single, the tender The Day I Died, show there's more than just that to Just Jack, real name Jack Allsopp.
Sadly this goodwill was all but gone by the end of the dire dance pop of the appalling Doctor Doctor, and the rest of the London pop star's third LP continues in this hit and miss fashion.
But despite All Night Cinema being broad and haphazard, I would recommend you give Just Jack a listen, if only just once.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
YOUNG Knives are today beavering away writing for the new album, Royal Sunlight.
And if you tweet suggestions of song titles to the band's Belton born singer Henry Dartnall, @helpmedarling, you could see your suggestions on the track listing.
Earlier today he said: "I need a name for a song.
"If there's a good one we will use it.
"Meaninglessness to be encouraged."
But it's business as usual for the Jarmans - just straightforward rock and roll that you'd be foolish to overlook.
Marr's jangles slot nicely into crisp Cribs compositions such as We Share The Same Skies, adding an extra dimension to the group's sound.
And while there's no big hit here that will hoist the group to the top, the solid Ignore The Ignorant will surely continue the group's steady ascent up the charts.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
BELTON born band Young Knives are letting their fans decide the setlist for their upcoming London show.
The trio are taking part in a series of gigs celebrating the fifth birthday of their label Transgressive Records - and currently they look set to play tracks including She's Attracted To, Counters and Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer).
Fans can vote for the tracks they want to hear at Young Knives' date at gay club Heaven on September 24 by clicking here.
ONE man band Rob Jones's debut album as The Voluntary Butler Scheme is out on Monday - is it worth the wait?
On Breakfast, Dinner, Tea, Jones has a classic songwriting approach, demonstrating a clear gift for penning wry lyrics, like.
He then takes these twee tracks and stirs them up with unexpected electronic hints - resulting in an LP that sounds like Hot Chip singing Beatles numbers.
My only criticism is that the tracks can be a tad lightweight, not much to get your teeth into - consider Breakfast, Dinner, Tea more like a light snack.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
BALTIMORE-based band Wye Oak, who take their name from a 460-year-old tree, haven't branched out on their new album The Knot, just consolidated.
The duo of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have put together another shoegazing indie record like last year's If Children, with songs that have grown to be as epic as redwoods.
With flecks of American folk roots music over rousing yet restrained rock, the album is stunning in places - although at other times it can sound like an Arcade Fire 45 being played at 33rpm.
But in among all these slow-growing drones there's some great tracks - it's a case of giving it enough listens to see the wood for the trees.
Monday, August 24, 2009
IN JANUARY, I tipped Three Trapped Tigers as one to watch this year.
And now, eight looong months later, I finally, finally have a new release to salivate over.
Luckily the London band, who play Aphex Twin-style IDM music on live rock band instrumentation, continue where they left off with their first effort EP.
Literally, in fact - their second EP, EP2, starts with their sixth track, titled 6.
With shifting, skittering patterns of organic beats and brooding ebbing and flowing ornamentation from guitar, keyboard and vocal harmonies, there's a primal power contained within Three Trapped Tiger's tight musicianship and sophisticated song structures.
With a full album planned for 2010, which will no doubt be called Album, now is the perfect time to be introduced to Three Trapped Tigers - they're grrreat.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
SAM And Me, the duo of Sam 'Sam' Zindel and Rowan 'Me' Dawes alongside Mitchell Johnson and Dan Black, are set to release their album The Battle Of Hemsby - a puzzlingly-titled LP.
Because with their nice and simple pop songs played on nice and simple instrumentation, they don't seem the most aggressive, confrontational, battling type of band, what with with their tight vocal harmonies and dreamy sound.
But it's this lack of aggression of any kind, standout track If I Fall, Can I? excepted, which lets their first release down for me - it's just all too nicey nice throughout.
And we all know where nice guys finish, right?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I LOVE Mùm.
No, that's not an ill-advised, drunkenly-conceived tattoo I have adorning my pasty body - it's a statement of my regard for the post-folk rocktronica band Mùm.
Because it's impossible not to feel affection for the quaint sound that the Icelandic group fashion on their latest album, Sing Along To Songs You Don't Know.
Revolving around the Arcade Fire-reminiscent vocals of Hildur Guðnadóttir and Sigurlaug Gísladóttir, the group's sound is soft and charming yet subtly mangled, strange and yet pop.
Quite simply, Mum's the word
Friday, August 21, 2009
LOUGHBOROUGH electronic artist Kelpe has a new mix CD coming out next month.
Death Before Distemper Four is a 46-minute mix of DC Recordings artists including Depth Charge, Alexander’s Dark Band and Orichalc Phase, which is due for release on September 14.
Also, Kelpe has a new album in the pipeline, planned for release in October.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
WOODY Guthrie, Bob Dylan, The Levellers - every generation has their social commentators.
And nobody around at the moment flies the flag for disaffected youth quite so brilliantly as folk troubadour Frank Turner.
However a huge swath of the growing fan base of Turner don't actually realise he cut his teeth screaming as frontman of hardcore act Million Dead.
A Song To Ruin, Million Dead's debut which is re-released on Monday with a few bonus extras six years after its first outing, showcases his former self brilliantly, and may even enlighten a few of his newer fans.
Because one listen to Breaking The Back or Smiling At People On Trains brings it all back, if you were aware of him before he threw off the fuzzy feedback shroud and went solo.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Expanding on their 2008 album Furr, the group continue to mix American folk with sparse splashes of psychedelia.
With time-tested feel to it, evoking Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and even a little Rod Stewart on closer Big Black Bird, the seven-track EP is a superb showcase for the Portland sextet who show the kind of promise that means there's nothing wrong with mentioning them, Young and Dylan in the same sentence.
Quite simply, Blitzen Trapper should have you snared.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
BASEMENT Jaxx star Felix Buxton may be a dance legend - but behind closed doors for the former Loughborough schoolboy it's more a case of 'rock me Amadeus'!
In an article on pop stars' 'hidden gems', Buxton revealed his love for Confutatis, from Mozart's Requiem: "I'm a bit obsessed with requiems, especially those by Verdi and Mozart.
"Eight years ago, Simon and I used to walk on stage to the Dies Irae from Verdi's Requiem, but a bit of me always worried that we were disrespecting the dead.
"Music that gives a glory to death is fantastic.
"It makes you beat your chest and go: 'oh, for a proud death!'
"What's great about the Confutatis is that it's music that moves the simple man as well as the critic.
"It's like showing a great painting to a coal miner as well as an art expert - they'll both think it's wonderful.
"You can find the joy of life in it, and the madness of love - it can make you go nuts, or it can calm you down.
"But most of all, there's a positivity to it, especially in the pain.
"It's easy to wallow in misery, but to make it wonderful is hard to pull off.
"Radiohead do that in modern music, and it's what we aim for, too - but obviously no one can do it like Mozart."
IF THIS one is new to you, then I must confess I'm proud to be introducing you to Patriot, the second album from instrumental act Cougar.
It gives me great honour to bring you a band which makes such a glorious, intricate, sophisticated noise - it's really something to get your teeth into.
The Wisconsin group create a brand of beautiful post-rock that's half Mogwai, half Battles, which as you'd expect from a band signed to Ninja Tune is laced with glitchy electronic flickers and irresistible beats, courtesy of drummer D.H. Skogen, also of Youngblood Brass Band.
The muscianship is tight and the invention of the tracks enthralling, and as an album it's consistently challenging from start to glorious finish.
Patriot, I salute you.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
LEICESTER band Ist's new album Toothpick Bridge is out on Monday, and much as I hate to scrape away and cross an up-and-coming almost local band, the release is severely underwhelming.
Backed by Leicester's nearly-men The Swinging Laurels, the album has a brassy foundation on which it builds an almost-Mavericks style vibe, with country-tinged pub rock the order of the day.
But although this is a passable album, there's nothing here which sticks - making it pretty bog-standard fare.
Ultimately Toothpick Bridge is unlikely to go down in 'istory.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
WASN'T it Tinchy Stryder who climbed up the waterspout?
No, grime mastermind Stryder is the one that climbed up the charts to hit number one alongside Dappy from N-Dubz with Number One.
And the album, Catch 22, is a showcase for the incey wincey star's hit potential - the propheticly-titled Number One, Take Me Back, the brilliantly-titled Stryderman, Never Leave You...
The catch is, at 18 tracks, as you can imagine, there's as many misses here as there are surefire hits - you could say it's a Catch 22 situation.
But if you're a fan, then you can't lose.
Friday, August 14, 2009
SCHIZOTRONIC DJ Kid 606 must have been taking his pills.
The last time I reviewed the Berlin-based Venezuelan-born American electronica artist Kid 606, real name Miguel Trost Depedro, for his erratic Mr Wobble's Nightmare EP, he stuffed dance genres haphazardly into the mix like a modern day Jive Bunny.
However here, his ravetastic techno - while still laced with unexpected booty bass, house beats and junglist interludes here, there and everywhere - is almost coherent.
So while he is admittedly cheesy at times, and long-winded at others, his Dancehall Of The Dead EP, which clocks in longer than most artists' LPs, is actually worth a visit.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
A STUNNING line-up of music has been announced at Loughborough University.
Starting on September 23 with Stavros Flatley performing a student-only show, stars of TV, comedy and music will be gracing the stage of the Students’ Union.
Again NUS-only, on September 24 Faces Of Disco will be at the venue, then on September 25 Seb Fontaine will appear in a gig that is open to the general public.
Chart-topper Calvin Harris will perform a student-only show on October 2, then the student-only Freshers’ Ball, making the end of the first week for the new recruits at Loughborough University, will see Daniel Merriweather, N-Dubz, N-Trance, The Outhere Brothers and comedian Matt Horne on the bill.
Later in the term gigs by comedian Simon Bird, on October 10, and dance group Chase And Status, on November 5, will be open to the public.
Entertainments spokesman Steve Black said: “The line-up is probably the strongest Freshers’ Week we’ve done.
“There’s a while host of other things going on all week as well to encourage students to keep on campus.”
For more information on tickets, call 01509 635000 or click here.
Following this hype, you will not be disappointed on hearing the Melbourne-based band's second album - in fact, it 'blue' me away.
Erm, yellow something.
The Antipodean album's tone is set with opener Memory Lane - painting their fuzzy rock with a pallette of classic influences, from the Rolling Stones to Iggy Pop And The Stooges to The Pixies to the Sex Pistols.
The result is an album of straight-forward primal post-punk - Primary Colours is simply brilliant.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
IN 1997 I went to Glastonbury, and headlining that year were the frankly awesome Chemical Brothers.
It was a blowout performance in front of the biggest crowd that the world-famous festival has ever seen - I would not be surprised if people at the back had their view partially obscured by the curveture of the Earth.
I had a good time that night.
But since those halcyon days it's felt like big beat has been on a slow decline - despite some stunning albums by the big hitters Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim in the interim, it's just not a chart-topping genre any more.
But now, once again it's time to go ape, thanks to Temporary Pleasure from Simian Mobile Disco - whose electronica most definitely has a touch of the big beats about it.
The duo of James Shaw and James Ford, with the help of a few friends - Yeasayer's Chris Keating, The Gossip's Beth Ditto, Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor to name but four - have upped their already-impressive game since their 2007 debut Attack Decay Sustain Release.
In fact the group may have trumped Basement Jaxx's impending Scars by being the dance album of the year.
It's already a permanent fixture on my mp3 player - so I'm pretty sure that Temporary Pleasure can hold out until December.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
"Great," you'd say. "I'll listen to that in the bath."
But when you slip into the bathtub, having pressed play on the cassette, you realise that you friend's CD had been skipping while the recording was made.
"Darn," you might say. "I can't listen to this now."
But then, to compound matters, the player started eating the tape of the skipping CD, resulting in a frankly hellish outpouring of irritating looping noise.
To escape the non-music, you quickly duck your head under the water - and the resulting sound is the closest thing you will ever get to Eric Copeland's new album Alien In A Garbage Dump.
That's right, Alien In A Garbage Dump is both strange and rubbish.
Monday, August 10, 2009
In fact, it's played by people who don't usually play mariachi - Mariachi El Bronx is the side project of LA hardcore punk band The Bronx.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
For the singer, who is possessed with a crooner of a voice straight out of the 1970s, has done his compositions justice by not only enlisting The Heritage Orchestra to back him up, he's also persuaded The Roots' drummer Questlove, ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, and former James Brown cohorts including saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley and the JBs to help out.
With a line-up like that, you can bet the result is as polished and as epic as soul comes.
A full album, seven years in the pipeline, is anticipated soon from Jeremiah - if it continues this EP's form it'll be an instant classic.
SHE Keeps Bees' new album Nest may be a studio effort, but the two-piece's second LP has the buzz of a live recording.
With the barest of production, throughout there's just a handful of drums being bashed to back basic, slow, solo blues rock guitar drone, White Stripes-style.
But this bare necessities approach is all that's needed - because the star of the show is undoubtedly female frontwoman Jessica Larrabee's vocals.
Her voice drips with a primal heartfelt passion throughout, as if she has a bee in her bonnet that's just dumped her.
Impassioned, stinging stuff.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Let me point out that the "Parental Advisory" sticker is earned with Back On My B.S., the return of all-time great rapper Busta Rhymes - any doubt what the B.S. stands for is removed within seconds of the opening track.
Also beyond a doubt is that Rhymes, who slipped off on a R&B tip over the past few years, is back in full hip hop flow here, alongside a stellar line-up of collaborators including Akon, Estelle, Lil Wayne, Mary J Blige, Common and Pharrell Williams.
With weighty beats to match Rhymes's meaty vocal style, and obvious chart appeal, it's clear that a heavyweight is back.
WHAT I know about UK garage you could fit in a glove box - it's not much of a scene in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, as you'd probably guess.
But although I'd normally say "no selecta", I gave Join The Dots, the new album from London production duo Nextmen, and I have to say it was actually worth a rewind.
Then again, there's as much soul, reggae and hip hop here as there is UK garage - despite the presence of Ms Dynamite - to balance the LP.
The Cambridge-originating duo of Dom Search - real name Dominic Betmead - and Brad Baloo - real name Brad Ellis - hop genres from track to track, leading to some cracking hits, such as Round Of Applause, and a smattering of misses, like Love Someone.
Overall, the bigger picture is that Join The Dots is not a bad listen - even for an Ashbeian who can't dance.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
ONE man band Telekinesis, without an exclamation mark, release their album Telekinesis!, with an exclamation mark, on Monday.
And my thoughts on Telekinesis! are it's moving stuff.
Seattle soundsmith Michael Benjamin Learner and his backing band have created a happy surf-style jangly indie record, with a sound which deserves to shift some units.
And although the record tends to hold back and could do with a bit of hands-on push in places, it definitely spreads a little sunshine - something we could all do in the midst of this rain-soaked summer.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
I'm not sure what I was expecting, some chart dance by numbers perhaps - but I was not expecting to hear the sheer funk brilliance that did emerge from my speakers.
Twisted Tongue is like the funkiest P-funk band you can imagine - now imagine the entire band are in fact robots, and you have what the group describe as 'nunk'.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
YOUNG British artists Young British Artists' debut EP Small Waves deserves more than a ripple of support.
For the Manchester-based trio have created a concise argument why they are the indie kids to watch, despite the group's fledgling status, in just four tracks.
With a new wave, shoegaze drone, tracks like Bring The Sun and Ovation are sublimely crafted tracks hidden in a swell of distortion and atmospherics that reveal themselves with ever listen.
In short, it's a grower.
Monday, August 03, 2009
AS A teaser for the forthcoming album Nigerian Wood, which was released worldwide apart from the US and UK in 2008, Keziah Jones's blufunk is showcased brilliantly on his Nigerian Funk EP.
Although only a smattering of UK readers will be aware of Lagos-born, London-based Jones's back catalogue, the guitarist and singer - who guested on Amadou Et Mariam's excellent Welcome To Mali last year - is actually five studio albums to the good.
So his own unique blufunk style, which sees raw funk mixed with a little blues, a hint of rock and splash of soul and a chunky slice of African rhythm is down to a T here.
And over the five tracks there's a surprising amount of variety too - Nigerian Wood is funk-driven, Lagos vs New York is undeniably African, while International Area Boy is almost Blood Sugar Sex Magic-era Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Original, overtly political and likely to make you wiggle, Nigerian Funk is an impressive introduction to a rising star.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
A SINGER and songwriter from East Leake is set to storm the charts across Europe - after contacting Dutch hitmaker DJ Patrick Jumpen via e-mail.
Damian Pipes, who works for A2Z Computer Products in Belton Road West, Loughborough, was told to contact the Dutch DJ, who has scored several chart hits in European countries including Holland and Germany, by a colleague.
Jumpen was looking for a songwriter to pen vocals for a new track, Solis Invicti - and when Mr Pipes sent across his lyrics, the pop star got back in touch.
Mr Pipes said: “Although I would normally write and sing country and pop music I decided to have a go at writing the lyrics to his new ‘Jump Style’ dance track.
“He sent me an instrumental beat that he had created, so I wrote the lyrics and I sang the song according to the melody and sent him a demo copy of my work.
“After consideration Patrick agreed that this was what he was looking for and told me that I had got the job of singer as well as lyric writer for the project.
“I was over the moon that a chance to help release a song into the charts had finally happened.”
The track, Solis Invicti, is available from Play.com.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
BRIGHTON-based dance DJ Amongst The Pigeons has scrubbed up well on his first offering, Music To Brush Your Teeth To.
On first listen you wonder where the LP is going, meandering about in a world of blips and subdued beats.
But then the individual tracks get you - like the fantastic lo fi Frank Turner collaboration Lazin or smile-raising weirdness such as Bird Flew - and you realise that Music To Brush Your Teeth To is like one long quirky interlude from start to finish.
So any DJs looking for something a little different to drop in and shake up a set, Amongst The Pigeons should have something to ruffle a few feathers nicely.