Friday, March 31, 2017

Gruff Rhys - Skylon

Friday again. Tempus fugit eh? Back in the (now far off) days when I worked in an office Friday afternoons seemed to go on foreverrrrrrrrrrrr. Fortunately, working in the kerazzzzzzzy world of advertising, we were able to have music on all day and everyday which was obviously a bit of a bonus and it was always nice to end the week with something suitably epic. For a few weeks this was my go to track, Gruff Rhys' 14 minute 40 second masterpiece Skylon. If I timed it right I could pop it on at 5.15 so it climaxed at 5.30. Simple pleasures but to this day it still reminds me of Friday afternoons so that's as good an excuse as any to stick it up here again. Absolutely ter-Gruff-ic.

PS: Just in case you fancy dancing around in your pants after that here's another work place favourite...It's A Rave Dave...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sparks - Hippopotamus

One of my absolute favourite bands of all time, Sparks, have just unveiled a brand new single and, despite being a mere 46 years into their career it's right up there with their deranged genius best. Like the band itself it's liable to be a bit of a Marmite track (you'll either love it or hate it) but you're unlikely to hear anything like it from anyone else this year...or next...or ever in fact. First class Maels.

PS: Here's another much underplayed Sparks classic from the archives from the year I had the very great privilege of briefly meeting Ron and Russell...proper gents the pair of 'em.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Orielles - Sugar Tastes Like Salt

Perhaps it's an age thing or maybe it's all down to the click click click culture we're all mired in these days but I'm increasingly finding that if a track doesn't grab me by the unmentionables in a second or two I'm off looking for something else like a mangy bloodhound. Who knows maybe I'm missing out on some great stuff but I do like a band - and a track - that makes me want to listen on from the very first second and this latest release from hotly tipped Halifax trio The Orielles does just that. It's worth sticking around for too. Starting off with a bit of a 60s almost Stereolab-ish vibe it morphs into something worthy of The Breeders at their 90s best, adding a little Slits-ish skank along the way. At 8 minutes 2 seconds it's longer than some albums but impressively it still make me click back to the start again. And these days that takes some doing. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alice super...

Snuffling around rather ace local record shop Phoenix Sound in Newton Abbot after a restorative pint and a half in the equally ace local Cider Barn (oh so much cider...) I happened to catch an album playing that caught my ear. Turns out it's by a local artist too, Alice Jemima, who recently signed to Sunday Best a label that generally knows its musical onions. Plying a deliciously laid back vocal with just a hint of a hip hop flava she reminds me a little of much missed (by me at least) hipster band Friends (especially on this little beauty). Hopefully she'll play Dawlish soon - okay I know that's a bit specific but being car-less getting back from gigs continues to be a bit of a challenge - so I can see her live but in the meantime here are another couple of cuts from that self titled debut album. Enjoy!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Goodnight Lenin - Portrait of Youth

Appropriately enough given the sad passing of Mr Chuck Berry Esq. last weekend the new one from Goodnight Lenin, Portrait of Youth, both rocks and rolls splicing their alt-country DNA with an almost punk spirit. It's been gestating for a while now but this is perhaps the best example so far of the band's new direction and, as I've been banging on about for the last few years, it really suits 'em. You get the sense that perhaps they're now free from that dreaded 'first album' pressure and just playing for the sheer hell of it which, let's face it, is the best way to play eh? It's out digitally on Static Caravan on March 27th with a live single launch gig at the Hare and Hounds on April 2nd. If you happen to live in Lahhhhndon though you can catch them at The Shacklewell Arms on March 30th. Cor blimey, apples and pears, leave it ahhht you slag etc etc.

PS: If you like this one check out their last single Desire, with added Tom (a)Peel!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Kioko - Tired Of Lying

Is it summer yet? What's that? No?! Oh bugger. Never mind, to put you (yes, you) in a bit of a summer time mood here's the new one from the ska-tastic Kioko. Dead chuffed to see this band going places, a classic sound and a great bunch of blokes too. They're playing the O2 in Brum this Friday as well but it's sold out so I'm guessing you'll just have to press your ear against the bouncer's groin now if you want to hear the show. NB: That's possibly not a good idea...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Marc Almond – The Sea Says

Today sees the release of Hits and Pieces, a career retrospective for one of my favourite artists Marc Almond. I won’t be buying it as I’ve got pretty much everything on there, in some cases several copies in fact but you can never have too much vinyl can you eh? Hmmmm. Anyway, wandering the beach scaring the seagulls this morning this track, The Sea Says, popped into my head and blow me down if this year isn’t the 30th ruddy anniversary of the album that spawned it, the utterly splendid Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters.  Quite possibly one of Almond’s finest and most distinctive vocal performances it never fails to remind me - cue sepia tinged memories - of my days living in Brighton and working at 7-Eleven in Hove, a job which necessitated rising at 5am, getting the train from Falmer to Brighton and then plodding the 2 miles or so to work. I’d often walk along the virtually deserted sea front to get there in all weathers, which was both pretty depressing and rather soul stirring (in retrospect at least) all at the same time. Fast forward almost 30 years and I’m somehow back living by the sea again (albeit on the opposite side of the country), thankfully not rising at 5am or working at 7-Eleven this time... 

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The importance of being Idles

Copped a load of Idles on Mark Riley's 6 Music show recently and it's just the kind of shouty bollocks that floats my boat. There's a lot of this stuff around right now of varying quality, quite possibly precipitated by the fact that an awfully large percentage of young people seem to have been totally screwed by the system. Shit happens, I know that, but not having any hope of owning your own home, relying on a zero hours contract just so you can afford to eat and looking forward to a retirement age that may well only kick in once you've received your telegram from the Queen/King/Alien Overlord has got to get on your wick a bit eh? Still they've got Snapchat, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr and a million and one other virtual distractions which is quite possibly why there's relatively little dissent, either on the streets or in the arts, right now. Which brings us back to Idles and their ilk. Sadly nothing in music or art will ever shock the world ever again. It's all been done. Everything. Okay so a few grannies in the Home Counties might raise a eyebrow at Miley Cyrus or any one of a thousand female 'pop stars' who pretty much perform as naked as the day they were born (probably 2001 judging by the age of some of 'em...jeez) but it's almost impossible to imagine the kind of furore that, say, Bowie caused when he put his arm around Mick Ronson, or when the Pistols muttered a 'rude word' on tea time telly or when Boy George genuinely confused a nation over his gender ever again. That being said some shouty bollocks sure beats a lot of the soul sappingly dull but perfectly pleasant mass music that's downloaded by the billion so here's to Idles. They're out on tour starting tonight in Bristol with a date in Brum at one of my old stomping grounds, the Hare and Hounds on the 14th. Why not take your mother along? She'll love it.  

Friday, March 03, 2017

1994 and all that...

It's 1994 day on 6 Music today. That was only a few years ago right? What...23 years ago? Good grief. Whoever says 'time flies' isn't lying. Back in 1994 I was working in the Customer Service department of Birmingham Cable Communications (now Virgin Media), Mrs B was a student (and still two years away from being Mrs B actually) and we were saving to buy our first house together so money was, as Mick Hucknall put it, too tight to mention.

We managed the odd gig though (more than we're managing right now but that's partially down to our location and partially down being too tight to mention again) and one of the ones that really stands out from 1994 was the Credit To The Nation gig at Edwards on, or around, the same day that the suicide of Kurt Cobain was announced.

If you ever made it to Edwards you'll know it was pretty compact, more than a little moist when it was full and loud as heck. Opening act Collapsed Lung (at least I think they were) were so loud in facts that they reduced my insides to mush before Credit To The Nation came on and Matty Hanson (lead rapper) paid a quick but heartfelt tribute to Kurt before launching into a blistering run through Call It What You Want. Sadly Credit To The Nation failed to sustain their early promise with Matty hitting the 'erb and subsequent releases performing poorly but 23 years on Call It What You Want still sounds pretty damn good though doesn't it eh?