Friday, 31 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'Lay Claim To My Grub' by Karen Gwyer

Not so much a track as half an album for some people, this 16 minute instrumental epic never tires or loses its way as it ebbs and flows. The mechanical, insistent rhythms are matched with a swooning, swamping set of keyboards that create dark layers of sound. It  pretty much brings together all of Gwyer's influences and sounds in one track, and comes highly recommended.

The track is pert of the 'New Roof' EP which is out on Feb 17th on No Pain In Pop - you can pre-order the limited edition 12" from them here.

Single of the Month: January - 'A Selfish Man / Tsunami Blues ('Cause of Me) by Francis Lung

In a new series of blog posts, designed to bring back the halcyon days of record releases, each month I'll be selecting a single worthy of honouring with the 'Single of the Month' award. The rules for consideration as pretty simple - it has to have been released during the month, and there has to have been a physical release; 7", 12", cassette, it doesn't matter which, but you have to be able to hold it in your hands.

January's award goes to the début single by Francis Lung (ex of Wu Lyf) for the stunning beautiful pair of tracks contained within this old-fashioned slice of black plastic. Released on the French label Atelier Ciseaux and carefully packaged and posted from Paris, this is the sort of quality, mature songwriting that you might be forgiven for thinking had all but evaporated from today's music industry. 'A Selfish Man' clearly tells the tale of the Wu Lyf break-up over a fairly upbeat backing and some precisely picked guitars, while 'Tsunami Blues' is a mournful, acoustic number with some fantastically subtle slide guitar. Lyrically this one ponders whether one man could be the cause of some destruction and chaos - another allegorical reference to the end of the band perhaps?

Bonus points are awarded for the fact that the single came with an inserted lyric sheet, not to mention the hand cut heart of thanks (see photo below).

You can listen to both sides of the single below. To order it from Atelier Ciseaux click here - but be quick as there aren't many left!

New playlist - A Track A Day 2014

I've been trying to stick a song into this Spotify playlist every day since the year began, and while there've been a few days where I had to catch up, we've got to the end of January and there are 31 songs in it, so something must've worked.

The track selection might seem a bit random, but that's kinda the point, and anyway, that's what my musical taste is like. So you get birthdays (Syd Barrett), deaths (Pete Seeger), new stuff (Young Fathers), old stuff (Flying Burrito Brothers), gigs I've been to or am going to (Withered Hand, Summer Camp) and whatever else takes my fancy. I'll post the list at the end of every month, so here's the sound of January.

Recommended music: 'Dead' by Young Fathers

It's been nearly a year since I first wrote about Young Fathers (see post here), and in that time they've continued to build a name for themselves while putting together their début album, which will be released on Monday 3rd February.

So what do you get from a Scottish / Nigerian / Liberian hip-hop act? As you might expect, this is not run of the mill gangsta / pimps & hoes rap record. It inhabits its own space in much the same way as Kanye West's last 2 albums - you really won't have heard a hip-hop album like this before. And like Kanye at his best, there are some fantastically melodic hooks and catchy pop choruses in amongst the brilliant rap lyricism.

Take opener 'No Way' for example - hard pounding, almost military drums and raps possibly about life in an African village give way to a sung chorus of "AK-47 take my breath, went straight to heaven" which also incorporates one of the most audacious rhymes on the album - "when you're feelin' Presbyterian". The highlights come thick and fast: 'Low' underscores it's powerful rap with a bagpipe-like drone and more marching band drums, 'Just Another Bullet' layers the vocals up to menacing effect, while 'War' builds a Massive Attack-like track to add another sound to their style. 'Get Up' is full of the band's natural energy, and 'Dip' has another of their big melodies and great choruses. There's more Massive Attack-ness in the menacing 'Mmmh Mmmh', and 'Hangman'steps up the threat level with its "time to meet your maker" threats. In contrast 'Am I Not Your Boy' offers redemption with it's heartfelt chorus that's impossible not to sing along with. The album closes with 'I've Arrived', and after a few listens you can't do anything but agree with that statement - Young Fathers have arrived, and 2014 is theirs for the taking.

You can listen to the whole album below, and once you have you're definitely gonna want to rush off and buy it. My top tip (if you're in the UK) is to get it from the Ninja Tune shop here, where it's the best price you'll find. The album is on the Anticon label (in the US) and Big Dada (in the UK).

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'Kong' by The Notwist

I must admit that The Notwist have managed to evade my ears so far in their career. But if this is anything to go by then I'll definitely be checking out their new album 'Close To The Glass' as I've playing it pretty much non-stop since I found it on Soundcloud yesterday. It's hard to categorise - it reminds me a bit of Grandaddy, and there's definitely some Krautrock influences in there too, but  there's lots more besides. Have a listen and see what you make of it.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Wanderlust (Factory Floor Remix)' by Wild Beasts

If you've heard Wild Beasts' new track 'Wanderlust' you'll know that it doesn't sound all that much like some of their previous work. And as you can imagine, this new remix of it by Factory Floor stray even further away from the Wild Beasts sound. It's weird, I was really disappointed by the Factory Floor album last year, but their remixes always turn out well, despite the fact that they've got a lot more of Factory Floor than the original artist in them. Have a listen and see what you think.

Surprising cover version of the day - Vancouver Sleep Clinic do Drake

This great cover comes by way of Vancouver Sleep Clinic, who I wrote about at the end of last year (see article here) and GXNXVS, who I know absolutely fuck-all about - I don't even have a clue how you'd pronounce their name. Anyway, between them they've produced this first-rate cover of the Drake song 'Hold On We're Going Home', which you can listen to below

New podcast - Austerity Audio vol. 14

I only just managed to get it together in time for January, but here's the first Austerity Audio Podcast for 2014.

We might be in a new year but the rules are still the same: 10 tracks, each one legally downloaded for free from the internet in the previous few weeks, lovingly gathered together for you so you don't have to spend hours trawling sites yourself looking for porn new music. All I ask is that if you find something you really like than next time you have a pound or dollar spare you buy a track or two from that artist to keep the music wheel turning. To download the podcast just right-click on the picture above and save it to your drive. Here's the tracklisting:

  1. Unloved - La La La
  2. Son Lux - Easy (Arandel Remix)
  3. Rob St. John - This Muted Flourish
  4. Vampire Weekend - Step (Remix feat. Danny Brown, Heems & Despot)
  5. Elephant - Elusive Youth
  6. Milagres - Jeweled Cave
  7. Tastelike Cake - Within Arms Reach
  8. Cloud - Danielle Turns Into Wind
  9. Kid Smpl & AnnaLove feat. Love Cult - Stay
  10. Shigeto - Olivia (KRTS Moxie Tribute)

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'On The Line (Star Slinger Edit)' by Blood Orange

A great new dancefloor-friendly version of one of the best tracks from 'Cupid Deluxe', Dev Hynes' latest album in his Blood Orange guise. You can get a free download of the track via Star Slinger's facebook page, click here for details.

Dev will be in London next month for a one-off date at Village Underground, which is already sold out, but he'll be back to play Field Day in May if you want to catch him.

Friday, 24 January 2014

New music: 'Olivia (KRTS Moxie Tribute)' by Shigeto

A great little remix of a great original - it's not vastly different from Shigeto's version, just a little but more laid back and floaty. But you can download it for free and if you like it then go and check the rest of the album 'No Better Time Than Now', it's well worth some of your hard-earned cash.

Remix of the Day: 'Almost Home (Washed Out Remix)' by Moby

Taken from Moby's latest album 'Innocents' this track features the excellent vocals of Damien Jurado and was already one of the record's highlights. This brilliant remix by Washed Out makes it even better, featuring some great new Eastern rhythms, an emotional speech, and an introduction that now reminds me of '7 Seconds' by Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry. The single it out in a month's time and this is definitely the version I'll be buying. Incidentally, in case you didn't know Moby has given away the entire set of stems for 'Innocents' so that any one of us can make remixes of the tracks. It was the most downloaded music of 2013 on Bit-torrent.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Impacts (Factory Floor Gabe Gurnsey Remix)' by Max Cooper

Cooper's new track comes from his forthcoming album 'Human' in which he attempts to tackle the various aspects of the human condition and reflect them in music. 'Impacts' is the track that shows the darker, unpleasant side of the psyche, and it's pretty brutal in its musicality. Gurnsey actually puts more into the track than his usual method of stripping things back. You can listen to both versions here to see which you prefer.

Track of the Day: 'Waves' by Halls

Great to have some new music from Halls a.k.a. Sam Howard. This, the first track from his new album 'Love To Give', sees his sound develop into a more open and welcoming direction, with the vocals clearer and the melodies more immediate. If this is any indication it definitely one of the albums to look out for next month. It comes out on February 10th on No Pain In Pop, you can pre-order it here. And if you fancy catching Halls live there's a launch gig for the album at The Shacklewell Arms, London on 17th February.

Recommended music: 'At or From a Distance' by Steiner

The third release in Glass Reservoir's series of commissioned recordings is a contemplative affair. Mixing field recordings with waves of musical sound, the overall effect is one of transience, of moving from one state to another, and of a general sense of not belonging. It's hard to tell whether the music has been created on keyboards or naturally - there's a recurrent sound that could as easily be the sound of a ringing bowl as its electronic counterpart.

When you put the rather mystical song titles together with the sound ('I seem to glimpse you in every window', 'The opposite of now', 'I seem to glimpse you in every window', 'Topography/Hiro') you end up with something that becomes the aural equivalent of a Haruki Murakami novel - you're not entirely sure where the journey is taking you, and ultimately it raises more questions than it answers, but it's an engrossing experience that you'll want to repeat.

'At or from a distance' is released on 17th February on download and a limited run of handmade CDs - click here for details.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Recommended music: 'Total Strife Forever' by East India Youth

I can be as guilty as anyone of rushing out reviews just to be head of the pack. So for a change I've lived with this album for a week, played it every day and even watched Will Doyle perform most of it live at Rough Trade East last Monday. So after seven days in its presence what's my verdict on the record?

It's highly possible that you'll struggle to hearing anything as good as this all year. Doyle has crafted a wonderfully diverse album that mixes wistful pop songs with euphoric dance moments and atmospheric, almost chilling instrumentals. It's like a concoction of Daniel Avery, Pet Shop Boys and Tim Hecker served up, in appearance anyway, by a recently-graduated teacher. By his own admittance there were some pretty low points in Will's life while he was putting this together, but while you can feel these in the music there is sufficient light and shade for the feelings not to become overpowering. Doyle has a good ear for a melody, particularly on the more straightforward tracks like 'Heaven, How Long', 'Dripping Down' and 'Looking For Someone', and his lyrics also exude quality.

Overall this is the first essential purchase for 2014, a record that good well be in with a good chance of a Mercury Prize nomination, and one that deserves to be in your collection.

East India Youth at Rough Trade East, London 13/1/14
PS It's worth mentioning that if you're going to buy the cd you should get it from an indie record store such as Rise Music or Rough Trade, as initial copies come with a bonus cd featuring a score that Will Doyle's written for the 1916 film of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea that he originally performed at Bestival last year.

Video of the Day: 'Everyday Robots' by Damon Albarn

After only announcing last night that his solo album would be released in April, Damon Albarn has had a busy day, being confirmed as the Saturday headliner for Latitude and releasing this video for the album's title track 'Everyday Robots'. The video uses CGI and scans of Albarn's head to build a sculptural image of his face. The song meanwhile continues the melancholy feel that the recent Blur tracks 'Fool's Day' and 'Under The Westway' have had, ending with a beautiful string arrangement, while the lyrics describe how technology is turning us all into drones.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Video of the Day: 'Ewok Sadness' by Marijuana Deathsquads

I know, I know, this blog is getting pretty full up with Marijuana Deathsquads posts. But they keep coming up with creative and entertaining stuff, and as long as they do then I'll keep posting them. This video is directed by MDS member Isaac Gale, and features Har Mar Superstar, American comedian Jacy Catlin and, of course, an Ewok.

If you want to see Marijuana Deathsquads in the UK they'll be supporting Polica in February. as well as playing their own headline show in Camden on 11th February - you can get tickets for that here. I'll see you there!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

New music: 'Caramel (Plancher de L'Usine Remix by DJ Cull)' by René Roussel

The original of this track is on a brilliant album called 'Cosmic Machine that I bought last year at the Independent Label Market (see report here for details). This is one of my favourites on the record, but ever since I heard it I wanted to beef up a but and take out some of the cheesier keyboards. Here's the result, I hope you like it.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'La La La' by Unloved

Any new project that has the backing of David Holmes is guaranteed to be worth a listen. Despite having a pretty awful and unrepresentative name, this track proves to be a beguiling mix of Twin Peaks-esque soundtrack, ethereal 60s French chanteuse and slightly chilling Scandinavian noir-thriller vibes. Perfect for your chilled-out Sunday, it sounds like the album will definitely be one to check out when it arrives. Listen & download the track below.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Easy (Arandel Remix)' by Son Lux

This was always one of my favourite tracks from last year's 'Lanterns' album. This new version knocks some of the sharper edges off the track and turns it into a more ethereal, almost wintry track that floats along backed by a harp and some burst of choral voices. The result is a really beautiful track that I've been listening to over an over, and you can too thanks to the fact that it's available to download for free. Grab it below.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'Maca Lu-Lu' by Yong Yong

I originally wrote about Yong Yong back in April last year, when their first album 'Love' was causing something of a stir (see article here). Since that time the Portuguese due have relocated from Lisbon to Glasgow to make their second record 'Greatest It's'. Due out on Night School Records at the end of January, the new record sees a marked progression in their sound which, if this track is anything to go by, sees them increase both the quality and depth of their sound while retaining a certain other-worldliness. You can pre-order the album here once you've listened to the track below.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'This Muted Flourish' by Rob St. John

A track from the box set celebrating five years of Song, by Toad records. From the Song, by Toad sessions, this one is by the wonderful Rob St. John (if you haven't heard his album 'Weald' you should definitely check it out). Listen to the track or download it for free below, and then make sure you check out the label here.

Monday, 6 January 2014

New music: 'Fragmenta' by Late

Hailing from Miami, Florida, Late are an electronic duo with a feel for cold rhythms and metronomic beatscapes, who operate in the axis where deep space meets the deep blue sea. Despite their impossible-to-Google band name they could be set for big things if this demo that comes to us courtesy of Fat Cat Records is anything to go by. Have a listen or download the track below.

Track of the Day: 'A Selfish Man' by Francis Lung

After their brief moment of glory, followed by their equally brief implosion, the ex-members of Wu Lyf look like they'll be putting out lots of interesting music between them in 2014. This track comes from the band's bassist Tom McClung under the pseudonym of Francis Lung, and it's a brilliantly bright and melodic indie-pop track. Whether the lyrics are about himself or Wu Lyf's former frontman Ellery James Roberts only Tom will know, but either way it's a great track. Have a listen below.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

New music: 'We Here Now (So Much Smoke)' by JproD

Is there such a thing as a New England rap scene? If not then there soon will be if JproD continues to make tracks as good as this. The beats are straightforward enough to give it a classic, timeless feel, and I reckon if you heard it on the radio you'd be pretty certain it was by an established, big-selling act. Have a listen or download the track below and see what you think.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Remix of the Day: 'Muizenberg (The 2 Bears Remix)' by John Wizards

I'm probably a couple of weeks behind on this one, but I've been meaning to check out this Cape Town band for a while, a fact I was reminded of when I saw this remix mentioned on twitter. The remix is a brilliant creation, retaining that African rhythmic bass but building into a proper house tune. It's full of the sour of sunshine vibes that you don't really get in the UK in January, and makes a welcome change from the over-indulgent stupor of Christmas. Have a listen below.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Track of the Day: 'Dream Ache' by Lone

A nice little Friday freebie for you, courtesy of XLR8R. Although it was first heard in 2012 this has never actually been released, so I guess the start of the new year seemed like a good time to clean out the closets and set it free. It's a great instrumental that has something about it that reminds me of 808 State - see what you think by listening to it below.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

New music: 'Within Arms Reach' by Tastelike Cake

A nice slice of piano-led ambient instrumental music from the Icelandic musician William Georges. It's definitely got that Scandinavian vibe going on, all chilled moods and atmospheres. Listen or download the track for free below.

EP of the Day: 'Waiting Room Sessions' by Cloud

Regular readers will know of my love for the music of Cloud. If you haven't heard them before this seems a good place to start - a 3-track 'pay what you want' EP featuring a track from the 'Comfort Songs' album, a new song and a cover version, all originally recorded for The Waiting Room Radio Show last September. The new version of 'Boy Sees Mirror' is great and the new track 'Danielle Turns Into Wind' is easily good enough to have made the original album. Listen and download below.

Remix of the Day: 'Step (Remix feat. Danny Brown, Heems & Despot)' by Vampire Weekend

Fresh for the new year comes this remix of the track from 'Modern Vampires of the City'. Heems hits the spot the best, but all three raps are good, and while it might not herald a new direction for Vampire Weekend it shows that they're on the money with their choice of collaborators. Listen and grab it for free below.