Jenny Agutter is an actress who means something quite specific of course to a certain generation of boys who grew up in the Seventies. As Swansea band Superczar know only too well. Even if they wilfully mis-stress her surname.
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
I saw Interpol, way back in 2001, in New York City playing with The Walkmen. I was highly unimpressed, they struck me as a Joy Division cover band which I didn't see any need for and I . pretty much dismissed them. The Walkmen meanwhile were just splendid.
Twenty years on I've come to reconsider. Joy Division is pretty much an irrelevant comparison point at this point. Interpol have earned their right to their own space. They deserve respect just for still being standing at this point in time and still having something to say. And this, from a forthcoming album, has all their trademark menace and dread.
Monday, June 18, 2018
One of the more interesting records of 2016 was The Visitor, the debut album of LA based musician Khadhja Bonet. Very much rooted in the Soul sound of the early Seventies at its most extravagant, think of Minnie Ripperton's Les Fleurs, Isaac Hayes's Hot Buttered Soul or the gorgeous orchestral swirl of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, while borrowing freely from the fertile imaginations of the likes of George Clinton and Sun Ra, it was a luxuriant re-imagining of the past, a waking dream.
In her self-penned biography, Bonet wrote of herself: 'Kad-Ya was born in the backseat of a sea-foam green space pinto. After spending an extraordinary long time in her mother's plasma, she discovered the joys and gratifications of making noise with her hands and face while travelling at maximum velocity through intergalactic quadrants.' There's no real answer to this, but you have to at the very least respect its chutzpah and the music very much lived up to its hype. It was a glorious, technicolor Cosmic Soul statement. There was nobody else around attempting quite what Bonet was aiming for here.
Two years on and Bonet's new record Childqueen consolidates and enhances the achievements of The Visitor. It's another gorgeous, multi-faceted and deeply layered record, entirely self-written, played and produced. Like bathing in milk or sleeping in silk sheets, it's a perfectly realised vision, like watching time-lapse film of petals opening, fruit ripening and raindrops plopping on enlarged images of flowers. A special album indeed!
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Two former members of Joanna Gruesome come together to form a band called after after Black Sabbath's Into the Void and The Raincoats The Void. It's as good a description of their sound and intention as you could want and these three songs are the band's first fruit.
Heavy and sweet all at once. Short and to the point, taking ingredients from Punk, New Wave and Grunge in equal measure, they're sure to be someone's favourite new band.
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Hope Downs, the debut album from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever out yesterday from Sub Pop, a record I had no little anticipation for and one that didn't disappoint me in any respect. The Melbourne band have been showered with critical garlands over the past couple of years with their two splendid EPs laying the groundwork for this, surely as good a guitar album as anyone will put out this year.
The record sparkles in a remarkable way that will remind those of a certain age of those of their youth, the songs and albums that made you fall in love with this stuff in the first place. The band are well aware of this themselves, commenting on the amount of 'grey hairs' that tend to attend their gigs. There's good reason for this as their songs are distinctly reminiscent of a fabled lineage of bands, The Go Betweens most obviously, but also Flying Nun bands The Clean and The Bats and the still thrilling guitar play of Television. They had Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd while Rolling Blackouts go for a three pronged attack both in terms of guitars and songwriters and lead vocalists.
There's a restless spirit and forward momentum from first to last. Also a determined positivity which is wonderful to hear in these most troubled of times. The record comes racing out of the traps and never once lets up, ten tracks of small characters on a vast landscape, quite clearly an Australian album that evokes sky, sand sea and outback like the best Triffids and Go Betweens records. The band themselves give an apt description of their sound and approach as 'tough pop - soft punk', they're Indie but more expansive and in some ways more ambitious than their immediate peers
It's a record that just invites you to come back to it again and again. Lyrically flowing and continually interesting, picking up the baton from McLennan and Forster and running freely with it. So while this is not necessarily anything new, there's so much invention with familiar ingredients, Hope Down is an album of eternal return and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever a band of current wonder and future promise.
Australian Milk! Records signings and support band on Courtney Barnett's recently completed European tour. And here's their new single ahead of their third album Keep Up which is due in August. And it's a cracker. A tune that will be firmly in your head by the end of the song and a wonderful promo video where the band take their turn on every form of transport possibly imaginable. Fun!
Friday, June 15, 2018
In honour of the glorious debut album from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, released today (to be reviewed in time), here's a new playlist. The thought behind it is how much wonderful old school indie guitar records I've been hearing recently. It feels, to my middle aged ears, like some kind of rebirth of the Eighties records that I first fell in love with, but these are new and beautifully fresh sounding records that have all come out in the last eighteen months. So you get Korea's Say Sue Me, Canada's Alvvays, New Zealand's Salad Boys, Sweden's Holy Now, England's Orielles and Goat Girl, America's Holy Tunics and Lawn, and Australia's Goon Sax and Flowertruck. And plenty more. Much better played that the original C-86 stuff it has to be said!
Christine & the Queens made considerable waves a couple of years back with their, (or probably more accurately her), debut album Chaleur Humaine. The record didn't really do it for me at the time as I didn't really go for the very Eighties feel of the music and imagery. Janet Jackson came very strongly to mind.
Two years later and things have changed. Probably I have. The wonderful new Natalie Prass album is definitely allowing me to re-experience the joys of Janet Jackson. And Christine & the Queens new song Girlfriend sounds, and looks, (on the state of the art video posted here, somewhere between West Side Story and Michael Jackson), pretty great. Perhaps its time for me to re-investigate Chaleur Humaine.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
The World Cup starts today and it seems only appropriate to include the promo for Parquet Courts wonderful Total Football which focuses on the glorious, iconic related culture of Panini stickers. Highlighting the lyrics of the song of which A.Savage is probably justly proud. The Nineteen Seventies Dutch football team set up as an archetype of collective-based freedom set up against American individualist corporate, political and sporting power-structures. The USA, unusually didn't make it to the finals this time but here is a worthy contribution that manages to namecheck Hesse, Twombly Tzara, Mina, Dada and Beatles. Respect. Here also is a clip to illustrate what they are talking about.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Married American couple The Saxophones' debut album Songs of the Saxaphones is structured around the centrally defining conceit that we are all living in the Fifties still. While the spell holds the record is deeply affecting, imposing an aura of calm equilibrium for me at least yesterday at work as the clock ticked towards lunchtime.
Recorded over ten days in Portland, Oregon and drawing on Exotica of artists from that remote decade like Martin Denny and Buddy Ho and all kinds of cool jazz, the record is sparsely orchestrated and all the more effective for it. Alexi Erenkov's voice has the faintest lilt of Tim Hardin's haunted moan and it contributes to a mood that's almost stillness itself.
There's flute, synthesiser and the sparsest drum and bass work imaginable. But very little of it. Less is more though in this case, and this is a record to turn to for particular moments when calm is required, and provides graceful and much-appreciated relief from whatever passes as 'reality' nowadays.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Second of the Ash mini-series. An early b-side, very much in Nirvana mode. Always a prime influence on the band.
Snail Mail's Lindsey Jordan is operating in a crowded field. There are no end of emotive, young female singer-songwriters crowding in on the Indie scene nowadays and it's pretty difficult to make yourself heard above the clamor of rather similar sounding records.
Nevertheless, Snail Mail are getting no end of attention for their debut album Lush. Pitchfork love it of course. There's nothing that floats their boat as entirely as this kind of lovelorn, plaintive Indie strumming. Fitting very well within the lineage of rather glum American artists, both male and female. File between the Replacements, Chastity Belt and Waxahatchee. Snail Mail more than hold their own. It's a fine, if slightly familiar album. Here's one excellent and sparky track!
Monday, June 11, 2018
All American Seventies Pop Culture gets a suitably grandiose nod from fans of all such things, Ash, who are still growing strong, having released a very good album this year called Islands though probably very few noticed. A three day min-series on this particular thread for this band.
Sunday, June 10, 2018
Very good Cerys Matthews, on a sunny Sunday morning in June. Though she didn't play the whole nine minutes. So here it is!
A breathy and really rather beautiful EP called North Hatley from Canadian artist Munya, (these are two of its three songs). Of course she has the French language going for her, never a bad thing which places this in the tradition of Ye Ye, Francoise Hardy and Vanessa Paradis. Neat, woozy update anyhow!
Saturday, June 9, 2018
I can tell you next to nothing about Washington D.C. band Bad Moves except that they are very fond of the whole Power Pop sound and do it very well. This, their new single, does a very good take on that early Cars chugging guitar sound with apparently Kim Deal on lead vocals.