Friday, 19 July 2013

Recommended music: 'Scratchcards & Wine' by DB Cohen

'Scratchcards & Wine' eh? The world's shortest shopping list, or a couple of things that help to get you through the day? If it's the latter then DB Cohen's album should be added to that list, as it's pretty much guaranteed to put you in a good frame of mind.

Born in South London and raised on a diet of Bob Dylan, The Kinks and Cream, Dan Cohen could well be the South's answer to Alex Turner. Lines like "Snowboy is talking 'bout fun with Steve Hawking, Chomsky is running the bar but he won't serve American boys" (from 'Dinner Party', about the ultimate fantasy party) or "She's betting I'm a gambling man" (from 'The Dealer') show that he's as on top of the lyrics as he is with the music. There's an English feel to the songs that brings to mind Madness or The Kinks, but there's also more than a hint of The Libertines in some of the tracks and the vocal delivery. On the slower tracks you can feel the Dylan influence, as well as 'Exile On Main Street'-era Stones.

After a few listens some of these songs feel like classics that have been with you for years. Dan plays a mean harmonica too which he makes good use of and which adds to the timeless feel of some of the tracks.

The album was produced by Essex legend Snowboy (as namechecked in 'Dinner Party') and features a host of quality musicians including Mark Saunders (bass player with Florence + The Machine), Southend bluesman Steve Hooker, Mike Webster (Baddies) and the horn section from The Specials. Live at Village Green last week he even managed to rope in Adele's backing singers!

DB Cohen on the Main Stage at Village Green festival, Southend 13/7/13
Overall this is a greatly entertaining and enjoyable record which you really should buy (see below for the full album stream and purchase links on Bandcamp). If you fancy catching DB Cohen live there's a show at London landmark The 100 Club on 10th August that will be well worth going to (click here for ticket details).

New podcast - Austerity Audio vol. 6: The Village Green edition

My latest podcast is a special themed edition - I had such a great time at the Village Green festival in Southend last weekend (pictures here) that I though I'd make one that featured acts who performed in some form or another on Saturday. The challenge was to find free tracks from the artists I saw (and a few that I didn't) and I succeeded pretty weel. So as well as the likes of Sweet Billy Pilgrim and DB Cohen you get the Rumour Cubes (who played with Sam Duckworth) and a new tracks that Sam recorded this week with Micall Parknsun.

Left click on the picture to listen to the podcast, or right click to download it. As well as the usual rules that come with this podcast (if you like one of these free tracks then spend a few pence buying something else by that artist) there's an extra call for support this week. Village Green is put on for free each year by the Metal organisation with Southend council, and they want to make sure that it continues to be free in the future. So if you're feeling generous then you can donate £3 to the festival by texting VGFR33 £3 to 70070. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. Rumour Cubes - Rain On Titan
  2. Sweet Billy Pilgrim - Joyful Reunion
  3. James Yorkston - Moving Up Country, Roaring The Gospel
  4. Parky & Recreations - Why
  5. DB Cohen - Do You Love Me Now Daddy?
  6. Youth Club - Nothing
  7. Phillious Williams - Oh My Old Love
  8. The Lucky Strikes - Gold Ring
  9. Wednesday's Child - No Doubt
  10. Stuart O'Connor - Designed To Stop

Thursday, 18 July 2013

New music: 'The Way' by Friends

Signalling something of a change of direction, this track comes on like something Prince & Sheena Easton cooked up in the late 80s. It's smooth, sultry and simmeringly sexy and frankly could single-handedly increase the birth rate in any country where it gets radio airplay. Listen below.

Track of the Day: 'The Weight of Gold' by Forest Swords

Am absolutely stunning track from his forthcoming album on No Pain In Pop records. Deep and tribal, you just need to put it on and immerse yourself in the inky depths it conjures up. Listen below.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Live - in pictures: Village Green Festival, Southend 13/7/2013

The sun shone brightly on Southend's annual music and culture festival, organised as always by the wonderful Metal organisation. They do a fantastic job with the council putting this on for free every year, and while I mainly go for the music there are a whole host of other activities, local theatre and music groups, and general stuff happening that make it a great day for the community.

First up on the Main Stage and opening the day were Japanese punk-poppers Mika Bomb. They played some energy-packed songs, the best of which was the brilliantly-titled 'Super Sexy Razor Happy Girls'.

Next up on the Main Stage were local boys The Lucky Strikes. These boys clearly deserve to be much more well-known than they are, they're hugely talented and their brand of Thames Delta alt-country sounded perfect in the sunshine.

A stroll round the site brought us to the brilliant Prairie Stage. Thankfully located in the leafy shade under the trees it played host to lots of country-tinged acts, all held together by an energetic compère - a great place to cool down.

Next we headed to the Sundown Stage - it was warm inside but with hay bales and cushions to sit on we couldn't complain! Stuart O'Connor played a brilliant solo set, looping up guitar and percussion sounds to sing over, and putting a lot of effort (and sweat!) into his performance.

We stayed in the Sundown tent to see Jason Steel battle with the sound wafting in from the main stage. He played quite a few snippets of other people's songs in between his own - anyone who plays the theme to the Littlest Hobo is OK by me!

Back to the Main Stage for one of the day's highlights - DB Cohen. Produced by local legend Snowboy this guy deserves to be huge, and is quite possibly Essex's answer to Alex Turner. He's got style, swagger, good lyrics and a great ear for a tune, and he plays a mean harmonica too!

You can probably judge how good he is by the quality of his band - the bass player from Florence + The Machine, the horn section from The Specials, and some proper full-on backing singers who've apparently sung with Adele! If you get a chance to see him live you really should.

Round to the Village School stage next for another soon-to-be-big act, Youth Club. Judging by the drunken dancing and singing along that was taking place they've already got a pretty loyal fan base. They certainly look like they wouldn't be out of place playing in the sun at Glastonbury next year.

Sweet Billy Pilgrim were a revelation to me. I really knew nothing about them apart from their Mercury nomination & somehow imagined they'd be playing twee folk or jazz noodlings. But no, this was really powerful stuff from some very gifted musicians. They were joined at the end by Sam Duckworth & his horn section, and sign of things to come later on...

Next on the Village School stage was Ed Harcourt. With just a lone trumpeter for company, he switched effortlessly between guitar and piano while building a good rapport with the crowd.

Ed finished his set with a trip into the audience and a chance to high-five, hug and generally interact with some particularly fervent (and quite drunk) fans - the sunshine definitely seemed to have brought out the best in everyone!

And so to Sam Duckworth. After pulling out at the last minute due to illness, this was a chance for him to make amends and play in his home town for the first time in 3 years. Joined by the Southend Youth Orchestra and a horn section marshalled by his long-time trumpeter Mikey Glennister it was a show full of passion and joy.

Sam was joined by various members of Sweet Billy Pilgrim during his set, which also featured his dad rocking out with some guitar solos during one of the songs!

The evening finished with a cast of thousands joining forces for a rousing rendition of Rock The Casbah, sending everyone off into the night with a spring in their step. The organisers were asking for voluntary donations this year to help keep the festival going for the future, and as Sam Duckworth rightly pointed out this was well worth the £3 they were asking for. Here's to many more years!

Sam Duckworth, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, The Southend Youth Orchestra & more play Rock The Casbah at Village Green Festival 13/7/2013

Friday, 12 July 2013

New podcast - Austerity Audio vol. 5

What could be better on this glorious sunny afternoon than some free new music to brighten up your aural cavities? Yes, it's that time again, welcome to the fifth instalment of my free downloadable podcasts.

As has become the norm, there's 10 tracks of new music from a diverse range of genres, each one legally culled from the Internet over the past week or two. Left click on the picture above to listen, or right click to download the set. If you find something that you really like then please buy a track or two from that artist if you can, and then they'll be able to afford to carry on making beautiful music for us. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. Long Arm - Blue Birds Red Flowers (A.B.S.T.R.A. Remix)
  2. Joey Bada$$ - Sorry Bonita
  3. The B C Band - Railway Rhythmn
  4. Run The Jewels - Banana Clipper (feat. Big Boi)
  5. Bendik - Forsvinne (Ole Torjus remix)
  6. Vondelpark - Always Forever (Tuesday Born remix)
  7. Adam Stafford - Ghostly Arms
  8. Hookworms - Away Towards
  9. Scott and Charlene's Wedding - Lesbian Wife
  10. Jack Hayter - Quotes

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Track of the Day: 'Teenagers In Heat' by Holy Ghost!

It's a hot, hazy summer day in the city. What you need is the perfect soundtrack, something that brings together New Order-esque vocals with Phil Oakey & Giorgio Moroder 'Electric Dreams' instrumentation. To fill that need Holy Ghost! have kindly presented us with 'Teenagers In Heat', their new release on DFA Records. And then, like finding an ice-cream van at the end of the road dispensing complimentary 99s, they've given it away for free.

Listen and download below.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Video of the Day: 'My Father in Hong Kong 1961' by Gold Panda

A nice, atmospheric video for one of the calmer and less dance-oriented tracks on Gold Panda's latest album 'Half Of Where You Live'. The album itself has strong themes of travel and worldwide locations, which are brought to the fore in this track.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Track of the Day: 'Lesbian Wife' by Scott & Charlene's Wedding

I think this is the third track I've featured now from the marvellously-named Scott & Charlene's Wedding (henceforth referred to as SACW) and I think this may well be my favourite so far. There's something reassuringly familiar about it, I'm not sure whether it sounds like something in particular (that I can't quite put my finger on) or a mixture of lots of things that I've liked in the past. Either way it's great, the perfect mix of guitars, slacker vibes and entertaining lyrics.

The album 'Any Port In A Storm' is out on July 22nd on Fire Records, but in the meantime you can grab this great track for free below.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Track of the Day: 'Always Forever (Tuesday Born remix)' by Vondelpark

The new single from Vondelpark is out today, and to celebrate its release you can grab a free download of this mix of the track. Perfect for kicking back in the sunshine, this is a mellow, dreamy mix that's tailor-made for relaxing with a glass of something cold while the sun warms your bones.

Listen and download below.