Saturday, 30 November 2013

Independent Label Market - London, 30/12/13

The Independent Label Market started a couple of years ago in response to Record Store Day, as a chance for labels to gather together and sell their own wares direct to their customers - a bit like a hipsters' farmers market but without the mud and faint whiff of cow shit. It's now settled in at Spitalfields Old Market in London where twice a year you can find enthusiastic label bosses old and young emerging from dank offices and dark venues to engage with enthusiastic punters.

On balance I think I probably preferred this to Record Store Day this year - you don't have to get up ridiculously early, it's less busy, there's not as many pointless re-issues to buy, and it's great to get a chance to talk to the label owners and even some of the acts themselves. This year it had the added bonus of a brewers market as well, so you could sample the brews of various London breweries as you wandered round - I had a nice Christmassy ale from the Windsor & Eton Brewery to quench my thirst.

So who did I visit and what did I buy? Here's are the highlights:

  • First stop was Stolen Records where I bought the new East India Youth 10" from the man himself
  • Then round to Modular for Erol Alkan's Rework of Tame Impala's 'Be Above It'
  • To Bella Union for the 'Peace Sword' EP by The Flaming Lips
  • A chat with Darren Hayman before handing him a fiver for his 'Blue House' EP
  • A brilliant sales job by the guy on the Because / Phantasy stall, who talked me into buying 'Cosmic Machine - A voyage across French cosmic & electronic avantgarde (1970-1980)', which meant that I got a free copy of the handprinted new Metronomy 12"
  • 3 cds for £20 from Late Night Tales, including the new Bonobo mix and Late Night Tales At The Movies, which is the first cd for a long time that Mrs Cull has asked me to turn up rather than down. These came with a free mix cd of most of the cover versions that have appeared on the Late Night Tales cds.
So overall it was a great trip - put it in your diaries for next year!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Track of the Day: 'The Way (Blood Orange mix)' by Friends

I know this appeared on the internet a few days ago but I thought it was the perfect way for you all to ease your way into the weekend (and recover from all your Black Friday expenditure). I know it's billed as a remix but to me this sounds much more like a duet between Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Samantha Urbani (lead singer of Friends). You'll know from this blog that I've always been a fan of Friends, although for me their debut album didn't live up to their early promise and their live show. However, this track hints at a promising new direction for them, so maybe they could get Dev in to produce the album for them, assuming it doesn't compromise their relationship (if you didn't know, Hynes and Urbani are an item).

This sultry, steaming slice of aural sex reminds me sooo much of Prince & Sheena Easton it's untrue, but to me that just adds to its charm, as does the fact that it's available as a free download. Grab it below and then go get it on with someone.

Remix of the Day: 'Join The Dots (Leo Zero remix)' by Toy

'Join The Dots', the new album by Toy, will be out in just over a week's time, and while that will make it to late to feature on any of those 'albums of 2013' lists I'm sure it would've been a contender for anyone who likes their music laced with a high quantity of Krautrock and psychedelia. Ahead of that album you can listen to this 13 minute remix of the title track in all its glory. It keeps that driving motorik sound while heading for a more contemporary vibe, and for some reason has just made me wonder what a Micheal Rother album produced by James Murphy would sound like (if you know either of those two can you please put them in touch with each other?).

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Live review: In words, pictures & video - Har Mar Superstar & Lizzo at The Scala, London 26/11/12

On Tuesday a tour that has seen Har Mar Superstar and Lizzo traversing the US and Europe reached its climax in London. And from the moment that Lizzo took to the stage it was clear that she's destined for massive things.

It's not often I get to use the word sassy, but this girl's got more sass than you can twerk your ass at. Striking up an instant rapport with the audience (not always easy with a start-of-the-week London crowd) she pretty soon had us eating out of her hands. From dedicating a song to 'the next person to buy me a whisky shot' (which dutifully arrived halfway through the track) to discussing whether her 'Fuck Nice' t-shirt would go down well in London (a voice from the crowd suggested it should say 'fuck nicely' instead) she kept the energy and entertainment level at 10. London welcomed her to its ample bosom, and I'm sure that when she returns it'll be for a headlining tour of her own. Until then here's some footage of her current single 'Batches & Cookies'.

15 minutes after finishing her own set, Lizzo was back on the stage singing with Har Mar Superstar. This unlikely sex symbol and soul singing superstar sure knows how to put on a show. Imbued with the spirit of both James Brown and Ron Jeremy he proceeded to sing and dance his way though a career spanning set, and the addition of Lizzo to his live set up seems to have injected even more energy to his performances.

Clothes were changed (but mostly removed), women were snogged, asses were smacked and I, along with others right down the front, was showered with his sweat on more than one occasion. His cover of Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'Alone Again (Naturally)' saw Har Mar walk out through the audience to the back of the Scala and perform sitting astride the barrier (a picture of this was later tweeted by The Libertines' Carl Barat who was in the audience, as was Al Doyle from Hot Chip). After a full set and an encore (which ended with a storming version of 'Late Night Morning Light') he returned for amongst the packing-up roadies for a note-perfect acapella performance which showed just what an astounding voice he's got.

It's fair to say that, with his songwriting and singing skills, a less beauty-obsessed world could and would have made a real superstar by now, but I'm kinda glad he isn't. Instead he's our indie-soul legend, who makes the worled a more fun place to be. Next time he comes back to these shores I expect you all to be down the front with me.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Remix of the Day: 'Will Calls' (Diplo Remix)' by Grizzly Bear

If you're of the sort of indie persuasion that a lot of Grizzly Bear fans are then Diplo might not be the first person on your list to go to for a remix. But put your preconceptions to one side, take off your check shirt and put on your dancing shoes, because the dance supremo has crafted a masterful mix for the newly expanded edition of 'Shields'. It's full of space and texture, giving the vocals a lot of room while still featuring some of Diplo's trademark sounds. You can listen and download the track for free below, and get the new edition of the album here.

New music: 100 copies of 'The White Album' by The Beatles, all playing at once

A while ago artist Rutherford Chang started a project to purchase as many original vinyl copies of The White Album as he could. The project (called We Buy White Albums) is a labour of love which in particular explores how the minimalist artwork by Richard Hamilton for the record's sleeve has been affected by the vagaries of time. Each sleeve has been treated differently, carefully looked after or wilfully manhandled, and the vinyl inside has also suffered the same fate.

Chang has now recorded 100 of the albums playing and put them together to see what they sound like. The result is a woozy, trippy affair that starts in synch but gradually goes out of kilter as the various pressing and record players reveal their own idiosyncrasies. Have a listen below and see what you think - make sure you stay until the end as it gets weirder as it goes along.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Remix of the Day: 'Be Above It (Erol Alkan Rework)' by Tame Impala

This is all kinds of awesome. Repetitve, persistent, whispered vocals collide with acid keyboards to produce a track that is a guaranteed dancefloor filler. The track will be released as a limited one-sided 12" and a digital download next month and is definitely one of the best remixes I've heard all year (although James Murphy's David Bowie remix still tops the list for me!).

Track of the Day: 'Salt Carousel' by Evian Christ

It's always a treat to hear something new from Evian Christ, especially when it's as good as this. Taken from his next EP 'Waterfall', which is out early next year on Tri Angle Records, this is a crunchingly powerful set of beats and bass guaranteed to rock the 'phones off your head.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Video of the Day: 'Phantom Rider' by Daughn Gibson

The new single from Daughn Gibson's album 'Me Moan' is probably the stand-out track from the record. and it's got a stand-out video to match. There's no-one in the video but Daughn himself, and as he stands singing the song a skull is projected onto his face and occasionally a skeleton onto his body.

It's a simple idea, done brilliantly, that lives you feeling just a little bit uneasy. Apart from releasing it at Halloween they couldn't have done anything better.

New podcast - Austerity Audio vol. 12

Yes, it's back again, the latest in my series of free, downloadable podcasts featuring the best new music from the dark corners of the internet.

This week's podcast is bookended by a couple of hip-hop tracks, and having just listened back to it, it feels like quite a downbeat affair. There's the usual mix of genres, plus this week you get a couple of cover versions of songs written by two musical giants (one of which is sadly no longer with us). You know the rules by now - I find great free tracks (that you can legally download), package them up in a handy podcast for you, and in return all of you have to do is spend a few pence buying a track from any of the artists that you really like. They get paid, you get good music, and the world feels like a better place. Just right-click on the image above to download the podcast, or left-click to listen. Drop me a line with any questions about any of the acts, or to point me in the direction of any good new music that you've found. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. L'Orange & Stik Figa - Before Midnight (feat. Rapsody & Castle (Billie Holiday Remix))
  2. Pinkunoizu - Perish In Hilton
  3. Cloud - Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen cover)
  4. Whitey - Waves Of Fear (Lou Reed cover)
  5. Mogwai - Remurdered
  6. Cut Copy - Free Your Mind (Spiritualized Remix)
  7. Acquaintance - Aerial
  8. The Riddles - Birds Don't Fly Above Me (feat. Amy Spencer)
  9. Mount Kimbie - You Took Your Time (Oneman Remix feat. Jeremiah Jae)
  10. P.O.S - Get Down feat. Mike Mictlan & Greg Grease (Marijuana Deathsquads Remix)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Recommended music: 'The Cavalry Never Showed Up' by Rotifer

This album came to my notice via the Rough Trade Tracks of the Week service (details here), who included the brilliantly titled 'I Couldn't Eat As Much (As I'd Like To Throw Up)' a couple of weeks ago.That track opens the album, and also contains the line that the record is named after. It turns out the track is equally as good as its title (liberated from the German Jewish expressionist painter Max Liebermann), and it's also got a damn fine video which you can see below.

From there we're into a set of dongs full of charm and wit, with lyrics that aren't afraid to throw in some social commentary and caustic asides on the state of our nation. If you're looking for comparisons then there's more than a passing resemblance to Luke Haines & The Auteurs, both musically and lyrically, and at times there are hints of Edwyn Collins (whose label released Rotifer's last album).

This is the sort of intelligent, informed album that can trace its lineage from the aforementioned Auteurs, through bands like Hefner to modern-day proponents of this type of music (alt-indie?) like Benjamin Shaw, Ben Parker and Withered Hand (there's a musical connection there as well, with Darren Hayman from Hefner having played with both Rotifer and Withered Hand in the past). It's great to see that in an X-Factor age there are still people wanting to make records like this, records that reward repeated listening with a deeper understanding of both their subject matter and their writer.

My personal favourite track on the album is 'Black Bag', a song that starts with a melancholic piano and follows with lyrics about clearing out the wealth of personal effects you've accumulated during your life after you've died. As the guitars kick in the words talk of judging a person by what they've left behind, with an extremely catchy chorus of 'Put it in the black bag'. It's not all dour doom and gloom on the record though, as the jaunty 'Ms Pedantovic Resigns' tell the story of a woman at The Daily Express whose job it is to count the words in articles, and even that ends in computers with wordcount features forcing her to lose her job she does at least get a bottle of wine when she leaves.

The closing song 'So Silly Now' is another cracker, an acoustic lament about the obsession for the past that haunts pop culture, and which features the great line 'I guess that Neil Young could be your Spencer Tracy / I suppose Joni Mitchell could be my Doris Day in these darkest of days'.

Overall this album is a victory for quality, a beacon of songwriting light for a dark and confused world. Have a listen and buy it below.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

New music: 'Healin' It Right (DJ Cull Remix)' by Marvin Gaye vs Daft Punk

This one's for the lovers...

'Doin' It Right' has been a regular earworm in my head since the Daft Punk album came out. Then recently I heard Marvin Gaye on the radio and the pace and rhythm of the track made realise that the two tracks were pretty similar, so hear you.

Like my facebook page & drop me a message if you want the download.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

New music: 'Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye' (Leonard Cohen cover) by Cloud

A nice little freebie for your Saturday morning, courtesy of Tyler Taormina (Cloud), the creator of one of my favourite albums of the year (see my review of 'Comfort Songs' here). It's a great version of one of Cohen's best-known tracks, with Tyler managing to inject some brittle emotion into the track - he really does sound like he's been badly wronged by someone.

You can listen to the track or download it below.

Friday, 1 November 2013

New music: 'Remurdered' by Mogwai

If you watched 'Les Revenants' ('The Returned'), the French TV show that Mogwai soundtracked, then you might think that the title of this track could be a clue as to what happens to the dead who return to the sleepy French village by the lake. Is it possible to kill someone more than once? Would they be doubly pissed off with you? These are the sort of questions that Mogwai probably completely ignored when naming their new track, the first to be released from forthcoming abum 'Rave Tapes'. Whatever it's called, it's an understated but powerful track, driven along by a great electronic riff which continues the subtle evolution of their sound. I love the artwork and their new band logo too. You can listen to the track below, or grab it for free by inserting your particulars in the requisite slot.