Friday, 11 December 2009

Portishead Tear It Up

In aid of Amnesty International, Portishead have just released their new track "Chase The Tear" which is available for download exclusively from 7 Digital - profits going to Amnesty's Human Rights work. It's quite wonderful too - Beth's smooth and sinister vocals are set against a strict tempo collision of Moroder style 70's analogue electronics with some monotone guitar brought in for good measure, in a very dark place indeed. Judge for yourself though - the video's just below, and then purchase your own copy.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Andy J's Top 3 Remixes of 2009

As 2009 draws to its conclusion, it's the time of year when everybody tries to decide their favourite album, their favourite single, their favourite film, or perhaps even their favourite version of A Christmas Carol. My thing is remixes. This is my top 3 for 2009....

3: Miike Snow - Black And Blue (Caspa Remix): 2009 was the year where dubstep went overground and indeed woomb woombing free at many of the UK festival grounds. Although it was largely Skream who was responsible thanks to his eventually ubiquitous remix of La Roux's "In For The Kill", it was fellow dubstepper Caspa whose remix of Scandinavians Miike Snow that really performed the magic trick - it just sounds better than the original.

2: Oasis - Falling Down (A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Mix by Amorphous Androgynous): who would ever think that Oasis would make a chart of cutting edge music. Even in their prime, it would be either a Gallagher brother or a madman (perhaps much the same thing) that would describe their music as revolutionary, but thanks to the freaky-stylings of Amorphous Androgynous (better known as The Future Sound Of London), over 22 glorious minutes Oasis finally sounded if not relevant then certainly interesting. Of course they couldn't top this - this is the real reason behind the disbanding for sure.

1: Saint Etienne - Foxbase Beta (Richard X): difficult what to say here as Richard X and Saint Etienne set themselves an uphill challenge - how do you improve upon what is rightly viewed as a classic without ruining the memory completely. George Lucas should take note. Foxbase Beta captured Foxbase Alpha's original London setting and jetted it over to a sunset beach in Ibiza. Around 1987. There is not a bad remix in the set, and the additional quirks of Beta set it apart in a way that neither fades nor tarnishes the original. A triumph.

Get Struck Dumb!

Things just seem to get better and better for Sunderland's finest export, The Futureheads. For the small sacrifice of your e-mail address, new-album taster "Struck Dumb" can be yours to own, forever, gratis, free. Full details on their website. It's the most fun you're likely to have under three minutes tonight for sure. It's also one of the most out and out pop songs (in a early nu-wave kind of way) that they have dared to release yet. A good thing and bodes well for the album.
Seeing as I'm in the mood for a remix or two (see above), here's a classic interpretation of "News & Tributes" single, Skip To The End by Digitalism for you to feast your eyes on whilst you wait for the futureheads confirmation e-mail to hit your inbox. It's all about the drop ...

Monday, 7 December 2009

Pete D'oherty Does It Again

You know the old phrase 'couldn't get arrested' well this obviously doesn't apply to Pete Doherty who has managed to get himself banged up again ..this time in Germany. He had apparently just been thrown out of a bar after asking staff where he could buy some cocaine and had decided that throwing a pint glass at a parked car was the rock n' roll thing to do, was promptly arrested and taken to a police station, near to the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, where he was held for three hours before being booked for property damage and then released.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Steve Lamacq Launches Old T-Shirt Day 2 - Hooray!

For some it takes little encouragement to wear washed out, threadbare, mis-shapen band t-shirts to work - and not just on 'dress down' Friday.  But tomorrow Steve Lamacq is encouraging everyone to raid their wardrobes for the oldest, weirdest band t-shirts you can find for national 'Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day'.

More information and a great promotonal video can be seen here :

See how Steve shows his true early 90's indie colours with a selection of Carter USM, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Wonder Stuff and Kitchens of Distinction shirts.  He won't wear Kingmaker though, oh no, he leaves that up to Elvis.  Meanwhile a selection of Radio 6 buddies show just how far back they go with such ancient bands as Metronomy and Grizzly Bear.  Ooh, retro!

Sadly I have tomorrow off work but, if I was going, then a suspiciously musty Back to the Planet t-shirt would be my attire of choice.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

XFM Listeners Name 'Songs of the Decade'

Listeners to the allegedly alternative radio station XFM have named their Top 10 songs of the decade with the end result one in the eye for the likes of me who criticise radio playlists for blandly replaying the same hits back to back and those who clamour for a rest from groups made up of four or five white blokes.  It seems the listeners love this shit, so good luck to them.

XFM Listeners Top 10 Songs of the Noughties
1. The Killers - 'Mr Brightside' (2004)
2. Arctic Monkeys - 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' (2005)
3. Kings of Leon - 'Sex on Fire' (2008)
4. Muse - 'Knights of Cydonia' (2006)
5. Elbow - 'One Day Like This' (2008)
6. The White Stripes - '7 Nation Army' (2003)
7. Ian Brown - 'F.E.A.R.' (2001)
8. The Strokes - 'Last Nite' (2001)
9. The Killers - 'Somebody Told Me' (2004 / 2005)
10. MGMT - 'Kids' (2008)

Friday, 27 November 2009

Culturedeluxe's Top 50 Albums of 2009

2009 may have seen X-Factor and its derivatives crowned by the musically-impaired and cash-greedy alike as "the nation's favourite" but, for those of us who scratched the surface (or in some cases dug deep), there were as rich a pickings as any year previously.  To this end, eleven of our finest scribes put their collective heads together some weeks ago and delivered our definitive Top 50 albums of the year.  If you've yet to hear any of them then get yourself to your favourite record shop / download outlet now and listen with confidence.
1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - 'The Pains of Being Pure at Heart' (Fortuna Pop)

Despite various screams of 'hype' directed at a certain large US indie music website in January, those that had heard their early singles knew that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's adorable retreading of shoegaze-era indie was difficult, nay impossible, not to fall in love with.  The musical equivalent of flicking through a new acquaintances record collection and finding you like every single disc - best friends from that moment on.
2. The Horrors - 'Primary Colours' (XL)

Nobody gave them a chance.  To come back from their NME-hyped beginnings and a disappointingly sketchy debut album?  To shake off their unpopular garage rock sound and fully embrace full-blown krautrock-driven psychedelia?  Well, they did and to often startling effect leaving detractors the world over eating their words while uncontrollably nodding their heads.  As Dr Foster put it in our May review: "to make your second LP sound brilliant be sure to record a really shit debut."  Wise words indeed.
3. Bat For Lashes - 'Two Suns' (EMI)

Natasha Khan released her second album this spring to press adulation and an appreciative fanbase alike.  Although not always as immediate as her debut 'Fur and Gold', the end result was altogether a more mature and cohesive affair.  Interest escalated this autumn as 'Two Suns' became the bookies favourite to scoop this year's Mercury Music Prize, only to be beaten at the final hurdle by the inferior 'Speech Therapy' by Speech Debelle.
4. Animal Collective - 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' (Domino)

Simply picking up 'Merriweather Post Pavilion' and examining the disorientating front cover was enough this year to warp your mind - and this was before we'd managed to prise out the CD and start playing it.  The noughties' answer to the Beach Boys produced their 'Pet Sounds' this year coupling the unexpectedly warm, yet unhinged pop of 'Summertime Clothes' and 'Bluish' with the deranged ramblings of 'Lion in a Coma'.  Quite simply a knowingly abstract group at the height of their powers allowing them to quite rightly cross over into the lives of others.
5. The Duckworth Lewis Method - 'The Duckworth Lewis Method' (1969)

The only thing more surprising than England's Ashes win this summer was this delightful collection which arrived out of mid-wicket with a well-oiled bat and a glint in its suprisingly Irish eyes.  The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon and Pugwash's Thomas Walsh joined forces, took their name from a confusing mathematical routine for deducing target batting scores and wrote an album around the concept of cricket.  From 'The Coin Toss' through the batting order to 'The Nightwatchman' and 'The End of the Innings', this collection never once failed to charm and never more so than the wonderfully whimsical and witty 'Jiggery Pokery' which reminded a nation how much Mike Gatting hates Shane Warne.
6. Florence & The Machine - 'Lungs' (Moshi Moshi)

Florence and her machine topped many "one to watch" polls this January and even picked up a Brit Award in recognition of this fact, but we had to wait until the summer to find out if the debut LP would justify the column inches. Happily, for many Culturedeluxe writers, the collection delivered all the promise and more, from the scintillating sounds of early single 'Dog Days Are Over' to a much-heralded run through the old Candi Staton standard 'You Got The Love'.
7. The Lions Constellation - 'Flashing Light' (BCore Disc)

While American acts such as Ringo Deathstarr and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart jumped on the UK-fuzz guitar retro bandwagon, Spanish act The Lions Constellation scored a point for Europe with a collection of modern-day, psychedelic shoegaze. Proof positive that 2009, for those of us who looked outside the Top 10, was actually more about resurrecting the spirit of Kevin Shields and Jim Reid than Howard Jones and Gary Numan.
8. Mos Def - 'The Ecstatic' (Downtown)

A decade since last being musically relevant and as far away from his Hollywood career as you can imagine, Mos Def returned in 2009 free from major label shackles and with a refreshing new experimental attitude. Production from Stones Throw stalwarts MadLib and J Dilla threw psychedelia and Middle Eastern and Latin grooves into the pot making this one of the most interesting and best hip hop albums in an age.
9. The Phantom Band - 'Checkmate Savage' (Chemikal Underground)

Glasgow's The Phantom Band, famed for playing surprise gigs under various names, finally decided on a fixed moniker in 2009 with the release of their spellbinding debut LP. Healthy portions of classic rock mixed with titillating electronica and, oh yes, the occasional doo-wop solo, to provide one of 2009's most interesting mixtures. While the nation lapped up the mediocre Kings of Leon, here were a band doing essentially the same thing but at an astronomically higher level.
10. Saint Etienne vs Richard X - 'Foxbase Beta' (Saint Etienne Fanclub)

Self-confessed lover of all things retro, Richard X was let loose on Saint Etienne's 1991 debut in its entirity. Thus 'Foxbase Alpha' evolved with measured subtlety to 'Foxbase Beta'; bolstered with a noughties dancefloor sensibility while retaining its old-school feel and original sass. Here Richard X gave everyone a lesson in remixing with due care and love for the source material.
11. Emmy the Great - 'First Love' (Close Harbour)
A very assured debut from Ms Moss and her varied collection of "borrowed" musicians. 'First Love' was at least two years in the making but, due to taking time over her art, this love will not be her last.
12. The Prodigy - 'Invaders Must Die' (Take Me To The Hospital)
Leaving an even bigger gap between albums than that between the huge 'Fat of the Land' and the disappointing 'Always Outnumbered...', Liam, Keith and Maxim took a leaf out of the stadium dance of Pendulum, reverted to their rave roots and were soon back at the top of the charts and many festival bills.
13. Sky Larkin - 'The Golden Spike' (Wichita)
Leaving their native Yorkshire for the Seattle home of their grunge heroes, 'The Golden Spike' saw Sky Larkin's native grit and energy transformed into full-on, driven college rock. With American acts paying tribute to British guitar legends all over the place, here was one band doing the opposite to great effect.
14. Howling Bells - 'Radio Wars' (Independiente)
Delivered two years after their debut, this Australian four-piece introduced a poppier and simultaneously grandiose element to their sound with the results sometimes mellow, sometimes enthralling but always entertaining.
15. Fuck Buttons - 'Tarot Sport' (ATP)
While their debut 'Street Horrrsing' was justifiably acclaimed, it was a mere hint towards where these two Londoners were going with their sound. With legendary producer Andrew Weatherall on board, 'Tarot Sport' is one of the most rivetting rides you'll take all year - sometimes like witnessing an Andes pan pipe band caught in an electrical storm.
16. Passion Pit - 'Manners' (Columbia)
Slammed perhaps unfairly into a large sack marked 'similar' along with Little Boots and Empire of the Sun, Passion Pit managed to push the US dream pop envelope handsomely in 2009 thanks largely to the distinct vocals of Michael 'helium junkie' Angelankos.
17. Sub Focus - 'Sub Focus' (Ram)
Following the slightly cheesy lead of Pendulum, 2009 was the year that drum 'n' bass returned to the nation's consciousness with a bang. Sub Focus aka Nick Douwma proved on this self-titled effort that he isn't afraid of delivering a big sound that snatches influences from all over - be they italo-house, dubstep, breakbeat rave or straight out of Pendulum's own book cf. 'Rock It'!
18. Future Of The Left - 'Travels With Myself & Another' (4AD)
Despite being considered "too heavy for indie fans, too indie for metal fans and too mental for everyone else", Future of the Left combined natural aggression with good humour to bring a broad smile to the face of every one of their niche market - and many more otherwise.
19. The Cave Singers - 'Welcome Joy' (Matador)
Gruff, gravelly, Gram Parsons-esque alt. country came this year from Matador's Cave Singers and a self-referential album title. Taking blues as a starting point and working in the finer points of various musical cultures, they produced one of this summer's most well-rounded LPs.
20. The Raveonettes - 'In And Out Of Control' (Vice)
Having long since perfected their blueprint of "somewhere between Phil Spector and the Jesus and Mary Chain", The Raveonettes followed up the disappointing 'Lust Lust Lust' by injecting some much needed pop sensibility back into their record. The likes of 'Bang!' saw the Danish duo at their most accessible yet.
21. St. Vincent - 'Actor' (4AD)
Picture Emiliana Torrini getting together with Modest Mouse, throw in a lot of fuzzy bass and the occasional abrasive guitar and you're nearing 'Actor' by former Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens collaborator Annie Clark. These warm, fuzzy, lo-fi sounds backed up by a full orchestra led to many falling in love with St. Vincent this spring.
22. Fukkk Offf - 'Love Me Hate Me Kiss Me Kill Me' (Coco Machete)
One of our hot tips in January delivered one of the best dance albums of the year this August when Bastian Heerhorst's potty-mouthed, rave-obsessed act took the sound of sweaty Hamburg dance clubs direct to your living room and then refused to leave until the early hours of the morning.
23. The Soundcarriers - 'Harmonium' (Melodic)
Just as Stereolab called an "indefinite hiatus", Nottingham's The Soundcarriers made themselves available to step into their elaborate footwear. 'Harmonium' seemed less a tribute to the lesser-used instrument than a nod towards krautrock, 60's psychedelia, Lee Hazlewood and obscure library music.
24. Andrew Bird - 'Noble Beast / Brilliant Creatures' (Bella Union)
Likened to Mercury Rev's timeless 'Deserters Songs', 'Noble Beast' became Andrew Bird's fifth album and brought his unique combination of out there jazz and modern rock to a greater audience. The instrumental 'Brilliant Creatures' was a purely voluntary joint purchase which many salivating fans took up.
25. Doves - 'Kingdom of Rust' (Heavenly)
The ever-dependable Doves released their fourth LP after a brief break and announced with it a love for Vangelis and Kraftwerk which was reflected in the album including the giveaway track 'Jetstream'.
26. We Were Promised Jetpacks - 'These Four Walls' (Fat Cat)
The improbably named Scots released their debut LP a full six years after forming at an Edinburgh high school wearing the influences of labelmates Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit squarely on their sleeves - not to mention their shared love of Scots heroes Biffy Clyro.
27. The Qemists - 'Join The Q' (Ninja Tune)
Described by Andy J back in February as a contender for album of the year, 'Join the Q' makes it through its sheer disregard for genre - mixing rock, metal, breakbeat, hip hop, drum 'n' bass and a rare vocal from Faith No More's Mike Patton into an eclectic mix.
28. Wild Beasts - 'Two Dancers' (Domino)
With the dust from the release of last year's 'Limbo, Panto' barely settled, the Lake District's finest upped the stakes considerably with a smart, bold and ingenious piece of work. That's before you even consider Hayden Thorpe's unique and impressive falsetto.
29. Monsters of Folk - 'Monsters of Folk' (Rough Trade)
The oxymoronic name aside, what isn't there to love from a band featuring members of Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket and M.Ward? This late addition to the year's albums prove there can be truly great output from the rather sadly resurrected concept of the supergroup.
30. Broken Records – 'Until the Earth Begins to Part' (4AD)
This Edinburgh band have gradually worked their way up through various competitions, showcase sets and limited edition singles releases. In 2009 the seven-piece released their debut album through the respected 4AD label bringing their upbeat and decidely Celtic take on the indie-folk sound to a greater audience.
31. Blakroc - 'Blakroc' (V2 / Co-op)
Former Roc-A-Fella Records co-owner Damon Dash is the mastermind behind this rap-rock collaborative LP. The featuring artists read like a who's who of credible hip hop with everyone from Pharoahe Monch and Mos Def to Q-Tip and the Wu-Tang Clan lending vocal support.
32. Filthy Dukes - 'Nonsense In The Dark'
London three-piece Filthy Dukes achieved that most difficult of things this year - a credible electronic dance album which stands up over the course of two sides of heavyweight vinyl. Whether the punchy Depeche Mode pop of 'Elevator' or the chilling soundscapes of 'Somewhere at Sea', the music remained multi-dimensional.
33. The Protagonist! - 'Pink Fuzz!' (Stroboscopic)
Never let it be said that we don't look after our own at Culturedeluxe. Late 2009 saw the release of our popular scribe Keith Haworth's first outing as The Protagonist! and his first appearance in the end of year poll voted for by "his peers".
34. Paul Steel - 'Moon Rock' (Raygun)
Although recorded and readied for release by his former label, the fiercely pop-orientated Fascination who apparently wanted to market Steel as a new Mika, 'Moon Rock' sat on the shelves for two years before a labelless Steel decided to release it himself. We're glad he did as sugar-coated pop and extravagant pomp hasn't sounded this good since Freddy Mercury's heyday.
35. Luke Haines - 'Achtung Mutha / 21st Century Man' (Fantastic Plastic)
At the turn of the year the former Auteurs frontman was touring the nation's bookshops confounding listeners with his self-effacing charm punctuated by caustic passages of his book 'Bad Vibes'. Returning to the studio for a double LP, he prove that neither his lyrical ability nor his ear for a tune have left him.
36. Bell X1 – 'Blue Lights on the Runway' (ADA)
County Kildare's finest survived the loss of founder member Brian Crosby and released their third LP this year which impressed fans on both sides of the Atlantic, not least fans of US TV show 'One Tree Hill' on which the track 'Light Catches Your Face' made an appearance.
37. Fanfarlo - 'Reservoir' (Raffle Bat)
More than yet another ensemble folk-rock band with ambitions of being the next Arcade Fire, Fanfarlo coupled their mature, multi-instrumental sound with the incredible offer of downloading it for a mere dollar from their website - now that just makes great financial sense!
38. The Dead Weather - 'Horehound' (Third Man)
Or the latest in a very long line of Jack White-led supergroups. Where the Raconteurs lacked a certain ardor, the introduction of Alison Mosshart from The Kills and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita gave The Dead Weather the bite that some of White's previous dalliances have lacked.
39. The Xcerts – In The Cold Wind We Smile' (Xtramile)
Proving that the Granite City has, and always has had, more to offer than Annie Lennox and The Shamen, and that Aberdeen's proximity to Scandinavia does indeed have an effect on the hardness and the severity of its music. The XCerts' debut channelled the band's live aggression handsomely, often showing off a surprisingly tender side too.
40. Juliette Lewis - 'Terra Incognita' (ADA19)
Now officially Lickless and somewhat short on Hollywood roles, Lewis teamed up with a new producer (The Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez) for an album heavily-influenced by the best of recent alternative rock.
41. Philip Jeays - 'London' (
To some Philip Jeays is a natural successor to Jacques Brel and the smoky solliloquies and string-laden laments of 'London' only serve to back this up. For an act best appreciated live, this record does stand up well to repeated listens.
42. Bronnt Industries Kapital - 'Hard for Justice' (Get Physical)
Sadly an extracurricular project with little fanfare, this collaboration between Gravenhurst's Nick Talbot and Guy Bartell was both one of the most interesting and intelligent collections of music to be released this year. With reference points as far-removed as Kraftwerk, Roy Budd and The Strokes, this was a krautrock-soaked collection to keep returning to.
43. My Sad Captains - 'Here & Elsewhere' (Stolen)
With a winning combination of Wilco-style country rock peppered with volcanic bursts of noise, My Sad Captains helped fly the flag for a muted London indie scene in 2009 with a sound often beautiful, often melancholic but always enjoyable.
44. Moderat - 'Moderat' (BPitch Control)
After taking an unusual seven year break between their first EP and this debut long player (due to arguments over how they should sound during which they split back into ModeSelektor and Apparat), Berlin's Moderat finally unleashed this accomplished IDM debut this year.
45. We Fell To Earth - 'We Fell To Earth' (In Stereo)
Featuring former man from UNKLE Richard File and former Queens of the Stone Age / Mark Lanegan collaborator Wendy Rae Fowler, this debut album cleverly saw dance and rock music clashing to great effect. Using the drums as a lead instrument, this record frequently brought back flashes of Portishead at their best - praise indeed.
46. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - 'Beware' (Domino)
The prolific Will Oldham struck again in March, this time in an unusually upbeat mood. Layer upon layer of lush instrumentation provided a fitting backdrop to Oldham's rootin' tootin' songwriting with impressive choral swoops and pedal steel.
47. Arctic Monkeys - 'Humbug' (Domino)
The former chart-toppers entered the "difficult third album phase" with both confidence and a new celebrity producer Josh Homme. Not as immediate as either of their first two offerings, 'Humbug', for those who let it, was instead a work full of majestic subtlety and stands up with their best work - albeit after three or four listens.
48. The Twilight Sad – 'Forget the Night Ahead' (Fat Cat)
The stock of Kilsyth's finest continues to rise with a real progression from their 2007 debut on this sophomore LP. Exploring darker themes and experimenting with atonal soundscapes, 'Forget the Night Ahead' was lauded by pretty much everyone who heard it.
49. PJ Harvey and John Parish - 'A Woman A Man Walked By' (Island)
Long time collaborator John Parish was given equal billing again for the sequel to the pair's 1996 LP 'Dance Hall at Louse Point' on an album surprisingly described as a low key "diversion" for Harvey. Conversely it became one of her most enchanting and beguiling releases in recent years.
50. Music Go Music - 'Expressions' (Secretly Canadian)
Disco became achingly cool for the first time ever this autumn with a record which owed a real debt to the glitzy late 70's boom of Abba, Blondie while simultaneously throwing in the classic songwriting sheen of Neil Diamond and James Taylor. Very much a fun record at a time when the whole damn world needs cheering up.
Bubbling Under
51. Julian Casablancas - 'Phrazes For The Young'
52. Them Crooked Vultures - 'Them Crooked Vultures'
53. Baddies - 'Do The Job'
54. Darker My Love - '2'
55. B>E>A>K - 'B>E>A>K'
56. Titus Andronicus – 'The Airing of Grievances'
57. Royksopp - 'Junior'
58. Willie Isz - 'Georgianvania'
59. Dirty Projectors - 'Bitte Orca'
60. The Von Bondies - 'Love, Hate and Then There's You'
61. The Galvatrons - 'Laser Grafitti'
62. Clint Mansell - 'Moon OST'
63. The Juan MacLean - 'The Future Will Come'
64. Camera Obscura - 'My Maudlin Career'
65. The Silent League - 'But You've Always Been The Caretaker'
66. Major Lazer - 'Guns Don't Kill People Lazers Do'
67. Rebotini - 'Musical Components'
68. Miike Snow - 'Miike Snow'
69. Two Fingers - 'Two Fingers'
70. Euros Childs - 'Son of Euro Child'
71. Grizzly Bear - 'Veckatimest'
72. Air - 'Love 2'
73. The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band - 'The Phenomenal Handclap Band'
74. Jahdan Blakkamoore - 'Buzzrock Warrior'
75. Boys Noize - 'Power'
76. Morrissey - 'Years of Refusal'
77. The Last Dinosaur - 'Hooray! For Happiness'
78. Ryan Driver - 'Feeler of Pure Joy'
79. Seasick Steve - 'Man From Another Time'
80. Isis – 'Wavering Radiant'
81. Dizzee Rascal - 'Tongue 'n' Cheek'
82. Mastodon - 'Crack The Skye'
83. M.Ward - 'Hold Time'
84. Version Big-fi - 'Crux/Dub Collide Hybridize'
85. The Slew - '100%'
86. Felix - 'You Are The One I Pick'
87. There Will Be Fireworks – 'There Will Be Fireworks'
88. Venus International - 'Pléyades'
89. The Cribs - 'Ignore the Ignorant'
90. Revolting Cocks - 'RevCo. Sexo-Olympico'
91. Bob Dylan - 'Together Through Life'
92. Sean Bones - 'Rings'
93. Steel Panther - 'Feel The Steel'
94. Cornershop - 'Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast'
95. Andrew Weatherall - 'A Pox On The Pioneers'
96. British Sea Power - 'Man of Aran'
97. The Little Kicks – 'The Little Kicks'
98. Cats On Fire - 'Our Temperance Movement'
99. Raekwon (ft Ghostface Killah) - 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt II
100. Heads We Dance - 'Love Technology'
The Roll of Honour (Former Winners)
2008 - Eine Kleine Nacht Musik - 'Eine Kleine Nacht Musik' (Modular)
2007 - Justice - '†' (Because)

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

We Want Our Jackanory Back!

Bernard Cribbins would like to see Jackanory return to its original format, and who can blame him?  The popular, although admittedly less than it had been, show which featured a guest storyteller relate a classic or contemporary tale to camera in short chunks over five episodes was finally removed from Children's BBC schedules in 1996 after thirty one years on air.

Ok, we're probably all a bit old to be watching children's programming now - and, in some cases, so are our kids - but didn't we have it a bit better in our day?  Kids could get a pang of excitement at the notion that the wonderfully expressive and captivating Kenneth Williams may soon be nasally narrating one of their favourite books and, for many, it was an introduction to such wonderful talents as Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Cribbins himself.  For me it was Rik Mayall and his legendarily frantic re-telling of Roald Dahl's 'George's Marvellous Medicine'.  I doubt I have ever looked forward to a serialised show as much as I did that week and remember audibly cheering when I found out it was to be repeated.

It's such a shame that technology so frequently has to get in the way.  Disney movies now come exclusively in CGI and, while they're almost universally entertaining, some of the old 2D line-drawing magic is sorely missing.  Sadly, children's programming has also been forced to "move with the times" with show formats changed to involve heavily-edited reality sections, classic swashbuckling animation replaced with gross-out lewdness and even the good lady Blue Peter looking less shipshape and in danger of retirement with every year.

I'm not asking for a second appearance from Prince Charles, presumably to read the compelling sequel to "The Old Man of Lochnagar" - the most famous, yet most boring passages to make it to the show.  I simply think there is still a place for tradition on television - parents still read to children in bed so why should their day be full of bangs, zaps, farts and sob stories?

Here Come Your Vans

When you think "fashion" you instinctively picture rotund Pixies frontman Black Francis, don't you?  Well, perhaps not, but the erstwhile frontman of America's favourite purveyors of LOUDquietLOUD now features on the essential shoes out there this autumn.  Vans have produced limited edition pairs of 'Death to the Pixies' skate shoes in both hi-top (see below) and slip-on varieties.

They can be ordered for a reasonable $65 at this address.

The Mercury Curse Claims Another Victim

Oh dear...average album...a target market that already knew about her...beneficiary of one of the Mercury Panel's "let's have an 'out there' winner this year" decisions cf. Roni Size, Talvin Singh (for 'out there' read non-caucasian) Speech Debelle is blaming Big Dada / Ninja Tune because she hasn't subsequently made a mint.

Hey, not a word about how the label gave you your break, submitted your album to the award in the first place nor how they will have allowed you complete creative control - something which the new deal with a major label you're hankering after will probably not.

Bye bye Speech...bye bye.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Very Tasty - The Yummy Fur Return for New Dates

If you paid any attention whatsoever to the Glasgow music scene of the 1990s then chances are you'll know all about The Yummy Fur, John McKeown's shapeshifting Godfathers of lo-fi indie music.  Formed in 1992, The Yummy Fur (named after Canadian cartoonist Chester Brown's comic book) released four albums, seven EPs and singles and contributed to to a number of local compilations; all the while sharing the stage with the likes of Pink Kross, Urusei Yatsura, Lungleg, The Blisters and lo-fi survivors Mogwai...or at least various bands featuring members of some or all of the above.  Such was the interchangeable, come-play-in-our-band ideology of the time and nobody subscribed more to this than The Yummy Fur who managed an impressive thirteen members during seven years of existence; most notably Alex Kapranos (then known as Alex Huntley) and Paul Thomson from Franz Ferdinand.

So, the good news, The Yummy Fur are back and will be playing a few shows in 2010.  Line-up details are somewhat sketchy at the moment, but general consensus suggests John McKeown will be joined by Paul Thomson for the shows with general guesswork piecing together the rest - however, bassist and founding member Jamie McMorrow seems a likely bet as he has since played with McKeown in 1990s since.

Better still, a hopefully comprehensive "best-of" compilation will be released around the same time through What's Your Rupture?

January 2010
7 - Nice 'n' Sleazy's, Glasgow 
9 - Buffalo Bar, London
14 - Kung Fu Neck Tie, Philadelphia, PA, USA
15 - Lombardy, New York, NY, USA
17 - The Echo, Los Angeles, CA, USA
18 - Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA, USA
20 - TBA, Portland, OR, USA

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Own "Boys Own"

Should any of you lovely readers be stuck what to put onto your lists for Santa, or indeed what to buy that Weatherall-obsessed completionist, then help is at hand. The website is currently offering up all of the Boys Own Fanzines in one handy compendium after being largely unavailable for many years unless you have a an e-bay account, and had a run of good luck on the national lottery. And all for the entirely reasonable price of £24.95.

For the uninitiated, Boys Own's place in the UK's cultural history is pretty important - from these humble routes, the four original authors (Farley, Mayes, Weatherall, Oakenfold) would go on to launch record labels, become superstar DJ's, manage stadium techno bands, produce all-time critical successes and provide many a great excess into the mix also. Before all this though they would muse in the hand produced fanzine upon their favourite records, fashions, and the emerging Balearic sound that would prove to be one of the main catalysts for the dance music renaissance in 1988. even have a PDF sampler for you to have a squint at. Just here in fact. Now ... someone start compiling mixes of those top tens please ...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Download : Luca C & Ali Love Special

Following on from our own Ben Goldrun's review of Ali Love's great new single 'Diminishing Returns', we now present to you a free download of the rather fine Luca C & Brigante remix of the same track.  Luca C co-wrote many of the songs on Ali Love's upcoming album and he teams up here with Ibizencan producer Brigante, with whom he shares a love of obscure Italian disco.

Download it here:

If you like the sound of that then you really need to check out Luca C's latest mixtape featuring ten tracks lovingly mixed together including house legend Jamie Principle, the dub version of the Ali Love remix and, oh yes, Bananarama.

1. Kink & Neville Watson - 'Blueprint'
2. Linkwood - 'Electricity'
3. Zepp 001 - 'Don't Sleep'
4. Chamboche - 'Feverish (The Revenge Mix)'
5. Ali Love - 'Diminishing Returns (Luca C. & Brigante Dub)'
6. Charles B & Adonis - 'Lack of Love
7. Jamie Principle - 'Baby Wants to Ride'
8. B Beat Girls - 'For the Same Man'
9. Ilija Rudman - 'Easy (Dub)'
10. Bananarama - 'Ecstasy (Chicago Stylee)'

Download it here:

Come On Down - The Return of Steve Mason

Following a couple of solo false starts (the patchy King Biscuit Time and highly disappointing Black Affair), former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason gives it another go, this time under his birth name, with new single 'All Come Down' released on December 7th with a new album 'Boys Outside' following in March.

We recently had the chance to speak to producer Richard X who told us more about the LP:

"Steve is a great talent so it's been good to work with him. I like the fact he's into records from any genre, obviously his past records have illustrated this. Originally he got in touch about working on a Black Affair record, but that kind of changed when I heard some of the songs he'd demoed, so we started making a different kind of album. It probably doesn't sound much like anything I've worked on before."

And for those curious, the track was debuted on Mary Anne Hobbs' radio show last week, a rip of which can be heard below.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

ReviewDo It Yourself Vol.1 - The Mosaics

Sometimes as a reviewer, you can get carried away with the more, let's say, ornate aspects of the English language. Tracks are 'achingly beautiful' 'willfully ramshackle'; riffs are 'razor-sharp', and so on. So in reviewing this latest track by geordie hopefuls The Mosaics, (who I would be pretty positive about on the whole, as they seem to blend early Coldplay with elements of A-Ha without being annoying or smug about it), I'd like you to submit your own review. It's not lazy journalism, it's just a reaction to some of the utter, utter wank posted by sites such as Pitchfork and Drowned in Sound, which are nearly all staffed (barring a couple of honourable exceptions), by a slurry of pretentious, third-rate Lester Bangs impersonators.

'Illuminate' may not sound fashionable, but then again, with the parlous state the UK music scene is in at the moment, that may not be a bad thing. But I want you to get involved and spew your reactions to this in the comments box below... The more the merrier, and try and be constructive innit. And it's out now. So have a listen and let me know what your ears think.

The Mosaics - Illuminate by benstroud

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Bear-y Good

Kinda good actually. Basement Jaxx continue their rather strong return to form with new single "My Turn" out on December 14th featuring Dev 'Lightspeed Champion' Hynes. But by now you should have really gone and bought the album to be honest.

Chemikal Underground Comes to Aberdeen

In association with Aberdeen's Interesting Music Promotions, Glasgow's number one independent label Chemikal Underground comes to Aberdeen's Lemon Tree this Friday with some of the label's best known acts coming together for an unbeatable bill.  Recent favourites The Phantom Band, listed as one of the ten best bands of this year's T in the Park by the NME, will share some of their favourites from this year's brilliant 'Checkmate Savage' LP.  The bill also includes former Delgado Emma Pollock, a rare solo gig from former Arab Strap frontman Aidan Moffat (although the billed Best-Ofs may still turn up) and former De Rosa man Martin John Henry.  Tickets are still available at £15 each plus £1.50 booking fee.

The imp collective have yet more shows in the pipeline with Fence Records' Francois & The Atlas Mountains performing tonight along with The Balky Mule and Rozi Plain & Jakalope, while Japanese psychedelic punk act Bo Ningen with Amber Pilot and Sarah J Tingle will play a week from now on Wednesday 25th November.

On 1st December Scottish singer songwriter Findlay Napier brings his Bar Room Mountaineers back to Aberdeen for a show topped off with Davy Cattanch with Steve Crawford and, get this, Northumbrian sword dance Gaorsach Rapper and Step.

Fast forward to 15th December and there's a headline performance from Sub Pop act Fruit Bats (featuring Eric D Johnson and Ron Lewis of The Shins) along with Puzzle Muteson and local hero Steven Milne.  Finally, imp are advertising a pre-Hogmanay show on 30th December with no further clue than a tantalising "very special guests - tba".  All performances will take place in Aberdeen's Tunnels venue.

For more information on imp try their MySpace.

Has It Been A Good Year For British Comedy Then?

The British Comedy Awards really are unique in that their televisation represents the only time anything funny is ever actually shown on ITV - even if they are second hand clips from superior stations.  The nominations for this year's ceremony, to take place on December 12th with Jonathan 'Don't mention the granddaughter' Ross back in charge after a self-imposed suspension, were announced this morning with some interesting choices surrounding the reassurance that ITV1's only foray into chuckledom is a dumbed-down Harry Hill show where he mimics soap operas in front of an audience that have clearly been locked up since Game For A Laugh last hit our screens.

Topping the list of nominations is BBC1's Outnumbered written by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin of Drop the Dead Donkey fame and starring Claire Skinner, Hugh Dennis and their three children who give the series its title.  It's perhaps the largely improvised performance from the chilldren - Ramona Marquez, Daniel Roche and Tyger Drew-Honey - that has seen all three of them receive newcomer nominations.  In fact, we should spare a thought for Dennis as the only main cast member without a solo nomination.

Whether the intention was to irk Charlie Brooker by sticking the rubber-faced 38 year old, a television veteran of nearly a decade, into a category with a nine and a thirteen year old, I'm sure it has worked.  'Comedy Newcomer' refers more to that performers arrival in the nation's consciousness and Brooker's work on Channel 4's You Have Been Watching, a rare terrestrial outing for Screenwipe, the brilliant Newswipe and various republications of his popular musings from The Guardian sees him deservedly nominated.

Elsewhere, Michael McIntyre's amiability and Alan Carr's...errr...teeth get them three nominations each, both vying with Harry Hill in the "entertainment" categories which, largely, have as much to do with comedy as World Wrestling Entertainment has to do with wrestling.

Looking elsewhere on the list, there are deserved nods for Psychoville and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle (sadly the latter is, for the second year in a row, a nominated BBC show that has failed to be recommissioned - following last year's excellent The Peter Serafinowicz Show) and a must-win in a weak film category for the hilarious In The Loop.  Despite strong competition from Have I Got News For You and QI, the massively popular Mock the Week is a shoo-in for best panel show while the beleagured sketch show category edges closer to retirement with the patchy Mitchell and Webb Look heading a truly terrible set including the deeply unfunny Kevin Bishop and the long gone to seed Harry and Paul.

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality: Alan Carr, Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Open Mike Productions for Channel 4); Harry Hill, Harry Hill’s TV Burp (Avalon for ITV1); Michael McIntyre, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow (Open Mike Productions Manchester for BBC1)

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme: Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow (Open Mike Productions Manchester for BBC1); The Sunday Night Project (Princess Productions for Channel 4); Harry Hill’s TV Burp (Avalon for ITV1)

Best Television Comedy Actor: Rob Brydon, Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special (Baby Cow for BBC1); Simon Bird, The Inbetweeners (Bwark for E4); Robert Webb, Peep Show (Objective Productions for Channel 4)

Best Television Comedy Actress: Ruth Jones, Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special (Baby Cow for BBC1); Claire Skinner, Outnumbered: Series 2 (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1); Katherine Parkinson, The IT Crowd (talkbackTHAMES for Channel 4)

Best New British Television Comedy: Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Open Mike Productions for Channel 4); Ladies of Letters (Tiger Aspect for ITV3); Psychoville (BBC Productions fo/r BBC2)

Best Television Comedy Drama: Dead Set (Zeppotron for E4); Psychoville (BBC Productions for BBC2); Pulling: Special (Silver River for BBC3)

Best Live Stand-Up Performer: Michael McIntyre, Live at the Apollo; Frankie Boyle, Live at the Hackney Empire; Stewart Lee, Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle
Best Male Comedy Newcomer: Daniel Roche, Outnumbered: Series 2 (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1); Tyger Drew-Honey, Outnumbered: Series 2 (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1); Charlie Brooker, You Have Been Watching (Zeppotron for E4)

Best Female Comedy Newcomer: Rebekah Staton, Pulling: Special (Silver River for BBC3); Ramona Marquez, Outnumbered: Series 2 (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1); Tanya Franks, Pulling: Special (Silver River for BBC3)

Best Comedy Panel Show: Have I Got News for You (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1); Mock the Week (Angst Productions for BBC2); QI (talkbackTHAMES for BBC1)

Best Sitcom: Peep Show (Objective Productions for Channel 4); The IT Crowd (talkbackTHAMES for Channel 4); Outnumbered: Series 2 (Hat Trick Productions for BBC1)

Best Sketch Show: The Kevin Bishop Show (Objective Productions for Channel 4); That Mitchell and Webb Look (BBC Productions for BBC2); Harry & Paul: Series 2 (Tiger Aspect Productions for BBC1)

Best Comedy Film: Bruno (Universal Pictures); In the Loop (Optimum Releasing: Peter Capaldi/ Tom Hollander/ Gina McKee/ James Gandolfini); The Hangover (Warner Bros: Bradley Cooper/ Ed Helms/ Zac Galifianakas)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Confused Factor – The Truth About Jedwood, Calvin Harris and a Pineapple

The X Factor:First Simon Cowell insists it’s a singing competition then gets rid of contestants that can sing then Louie Walsh claims that the show is all about fun when a member of the audience decides to have some, why he is derided as a publicity seeking idiot.
So what was Calvin Harris thinking about, jumping on stage during Jedwoods performance, clutching a pineapple? Here is his explanation to Radio One’s Chris Moyles:

Chris: Look, we had to get you on and talk about your appearance, albeit brief appearance on X Factor on Saturday. Have you seen it back yet?

Calvin Harris: Yeah

Chris: Are you happy or disappointed?

Calvin Harris: It did everything I wanted to achieve, which was nothing.

Dave: You were there because you were set to appear on the Xtra Factor, were you not?

Calvin Harris: I was, I was backstage I was waiting to go on and I was listening to everyone taking it incredibly seriously. I was just inspired to make a mockery of the show. Because it is a music competition, it is a joke and I think it should be treated as such, so when people were saying “John and Edward, maybe they deserve to stay in this week”, I was like “Are you watching what I’m watching?” It’s terrible, it’s terrible. I need to get out there and basically for the greater good of the nation I wanted to go out there and make an idiot of myself and sort of just bring the whole show into another kind of area in which it’s treated as kind of a joke

Dave: What’s your take on John and Edward, obviously you don’t rate them musically but do you think they have a place in the show for entertainment?

Calvin Harris: Um yeah, yeah, but as entertainment goes it’s pretty much down there with the worst. So compared to everybody else and you know they’re there and it’s funny, but I’ve noticed as the week goes on it’s kind of knowingly funny, whereas first it was kind of “John and Edward. ah they’re rubbish, they should get out of there” and they were doing these terrible performances and it was hilarious, and then the producers cottoned on to this, as occasionally they do, and kind of make scenarios which they thought it would be funnier to put them in, and it wasn’t which was a shame.

Chris: In a weird way though, you may have helped J&E to stay in next week

Calvin Harris: This is what I want to do, I want them to win, I love them

Chris: So you do want them to win?

Calvin Harris: Yeah I’d love them to win because where can they go from there? Not them, where can X Factor go from there? It’s not a music competition

Chris: Would you like to see the demise of X Factor as a show?

Calvin Harris: I think if you look and… I mean obviously I release singles, I try and get in the charts and all this kind of stuff, but separating me from that I’m a fan of music, I’m a fan of pop music. If you look at the chart it’s like a frightening stranglehold that Simon Cowell has got over the entire music chart in the UK at the moment, it’s really impressive but it’s really frightening at the same time. It would be nice to see him use that power a little bit more creatively and maybe use I don’t know interesting producers of music to make songs because pretty much whatever he puts out by Leona or whoever is going to do incredibly well so why not try and make the most amazing music that anyone has ever heard in their life? I think it just shows that he’s not really a music fan.

Chris: I think by his own, and I’m not defending Simon, but I think by his own admission that he makes popular stuff, he’s not there to make groundbreaking music

Calvin Harris: Why can’t he make groundbreaking music popular? The position he’s put himself in he could change the whole country musically and make it amazing and it’s annoying that he’s not doing that, he’s pretty much just releasing the same records again and again and again

Chris: OK so you have a fairly serious point that you have obviously thought through long and hard, so explain to me where the pineapple came in

Calvin Harris: The pineapple was the mimic the hair and it was the only available tool at the time in order to mimic J&E hair, and I think to be honest it did an incredible job

Dave: I think I don’t think any other fruit could have mimicked their quiff in such a way

Calvin Harris: No you’re right

So now you know!

NME Countdown Top 50 Albums of the Decade

The idea of thinking back through a whole ten years of largely average music, trying our best to think of how albums made us feel at the time and not now, is a harrowing one at best and, thankfully, professional fanzine and conscious bandwagon-jumper the NME have counted down their Ultimate Greatest Top 50 Albums of the Noughties...Ever! Take a look below and see what you think.  Sadly, from a piss-taking point of view, they've largely hit the nail on the head, if not from a musical standpoint, then certainly one upon which indie music was reinvigorated after years of Coldplay / Keane / Stereophonics / Travis dirge through such iconic releases as The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines.

The NME Top 50 Albums of the 00's
1. The Strokes - Is This It
2. The Libertines - Up The Bracket
3. Primal Scream - xtrmntr
4. Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
6. PJ Harvey - Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
7. Arcade Fire - Funeral
8. Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
9. The Streets - Original Pirate Material
10. Radiohead - In Rainbows
11. At The Drive In - Relationship Of Command
12. LCD Soundsystem - The Sound Of Silver
13. The Shins - Wincing The Night Away
14. Radiohead - Kid A
15. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf
16. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
17. Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
18. The White Stripes - Elephant
19. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
20. Blur - Think Tank
21. The Coral - The Coral
22. Jay-Z - The Blueprint
23. Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future
24. The Libertines - The Libertines
25. Rapture - Echoes
26. Dizzee Rascal - Boy in Da Corner
27. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
28. Johnny Cash - Man Comes Around
29. Super Furry Animals - Rings Around The World
30. Elbow - Asleep In The Back
31. Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
32. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones
33. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
34. Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump
35. Babyshambles - Down In Albion
36. Spirtualized - Let it Come Down
37. The Knife - Silent Shout
38. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
39. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
40. Ryan Adams - Gold
41. Wild Beasts - Two Dancers
42. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
43. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
44. Outkast - Loveboxxx/The Love Below
45. Avalanches - Since I Left You
46. Delgados - The Great Eastern
47. Brendan Benson - Lapalco
48. Walkmen - Bows and Arrows
49. Muse - Absolution
50. MIA - Arular

Monday, 16 November 2009

Single Review - Ali Love 'Diminishing Returns' (Backyard Recordings)

You get the feeling that life has not dealt an artist as talented as Ali Love a fair hand. You'd probably right. Whilst infinitely inferior bands from his East London manor (hello, The Klaxons) have gone on to enjoy mainstream success, all Ali has had to show from his aborted major label deal (he recorded an album for Columbia, didn't like it very much, they parted company), is a few battle scars and stories of gatecrashing Ronnie Wood's birthday party dressed as a gypsy.

Which is why it's good that he's been given a second chance on Backyard - one of the best indie labels around. And their investment and his efforts have paid off - 'Diminishing Returns' is an italo-flecked beast of a track, tearing synth-pop a huge Moroder-shaped new arsehole, with lyrics that could have been lifted from Princes purple notepad circa 1984. Comebacks don't come much better that this...

'Diminishing Returns' is out now.

Edward Woodward 1930 - 2009

The well-loved actor Edward Woodward has died in hospital today aged 79.  He had been suffering from various illnesses including pneumonia.

Woodward cut his acting teeth with appearances in such shows as Dixon of Dock Green,  The Saint and Armchair Theatre before the latter secured him the title role of Callan in the late 60's spy drama.  However, it was his career-defining role as the idealistic, clean-living Sergeant Howie in 1973's The Wicker Man and that of Robert McCall in 80's drama The Equalizer that he will be best remembered.

He continued working regularly until his untimely death with a recent memorable performance as CCTV obsessive Tom Weaver in Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz and a short run in Eastenders this Spring.

He is suvived by his wife Michele Dotrice and four children Tim, Peter, Sarah and Emily all of whom are actors.

Derek B 1965 - 2009

1980's hip hop star and producer Derek B has died of a heart attack at the criminally young age of 44.  The star is best known for his 1988 hits 'Goodgroove' and 'Bad Young Brother' but was previously and subsequently a respected DJ, producer and prominent member of the UK hip hop scene.

Thoughts go out to his family and friends.  Here's the man himself with his best-remembered hit...

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Be Seeing You? Will The Prisoner Remake Be Any Good?

Thanks to Mr Akira the Don for reminding me today on his blog that the fantasic 1960's series The Prisoner has been remade.  The show, starring Jim Catweasel as Patrick McGoohan and Sir Ian McKellan as a sadly permanent and non-interchangeable Number 2 premieres tonight in the USA and the trailer for this may be seen below.  Unfortunately it doesn't look as though the 00's version will come close to the joyful quirkiness and sheer madness of the 1967 original.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Video Of The Day - Hitler's NYE Unravels

So in case you didn't know, Ministry of Sound are holding a massive event at The 02 Arena on New Years Eve with Deadmau5, Justice, Calvin Harris and more.

Apparently though, one special guest couldn't get their tickets. Although I called my mate at Ministry, who said that they are 'still availiable', so you can still pick them up here if you need to.

Whoever did this, well done - it's turned a very shitty day in London into a much brighter one.

Check this out!

Giving Good Headlines

We had a nice letter today from Clare over at, a peculiar site which seems to specialise in both replacement ink cartridge and musical commentary.  Hey, in these times of recession, it's a boon to be able to multitask - particularly when you're offering cheap ink into the bargain.

Naturally, you need great quantities of ink to produce attention-grabbing headlines and this great post counts down the ten most infamous headlines ever printed.  They're all there, from the NME's famous rumour-mongering (printed right) which led to an all-out battle where music was the loser to the various ways famous singers have shuffled off this mortal coil.

It also reinforces the opinion that, no matter what you think of The Sun and their selfish personal agenda propagation, the buggers have come up with some of the greatest puns of our time.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

A Special Night For Swells Announced

Celebrated NME journalist (and, really, how often do we get to put those words together these days?) Steven Wells AKA Seething Wells AKA Swells was taken from this world too soon by cancer earlier this year. Quite rightly, a flock of his peers are putting on a special night to celebrate his life at the Albany in Deptford, London on December 4th.

Steven 'Swells' Wells, who died of cancer on 24 June this year, was a roaring, radical, iconoclastic motormouth, a verbal timebomb permanently primed and aching to explode.

As a journalist for the likes of the NME and, after his move to the States, The Philadelphia Weekly, he systematically demolished everything middl England held dear and then dynamited the rubble, while simultaneously immolating whiny indie bands, pompous rock stars and Morissey. Before that, in the early to mid 80s, as the ranting poet Seething Wells, he did the same thing, only even louder because he was on stage - headlining one of the earliest Apples & Snakes gigs in November 1982. Tonight some old mates and collaborators celebrate his loud, defiant, wonderful life. Book early!


Melodic punk trailblazers The Newtown Neurotics
Speccy troubadour John Hegley
Innovative journo / broadcaster David Quantick
Gothic poetry-pioneer Joolz Denby
New Model Army frontman Justin Sullivan
Livewire anarcho-poet Nick Toczek
Nightingales singer Robert Lloyd
Southern Death Cult / Fun-Da-Mentals Aki Nawaz
Vintage Bradford ranter Little Brother
Music-vidoe innovator Nick Small

With compere Attila the Stockbroker (who shared an EP, a book and countless memorable gigs from Swells)


Tickets cost £8, £5 to concessions and free to selected under 26 year olds. For more information check the website

Get Well Soon Again in 2010

'Rest Now Weary Head, You Will Get Well Soon!' was the long-winded, long-loved debut LP from Get Well Soon AKA Berlin's Konstantin Gropper in 2008. Those who heard it loved it for its Coldplay-with-character elegance while those who didn't (and these number into embarrassing figures) still don't quite know what they've missed out on.

The uninitiated will get a second chance, however, with the release of Konstantin's second LP 'Vexations', issued through City Slang on 25th January 2010. That title, if you were wondering, is named after a 1949 piano piece by Eric Satie and, yes, it does roll off the tongue rather better than their debut.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Jacking the Charts in the Name of Charity

Now, very few of us still bother to follow the charts these days.  Even our own Dr Foster finally had to admit that reporting on ten records you have never heard - and do not want to - simply was not worth spending time over.  Well, for those of you at the back with one eye still open, I can tell you that the number one slot in the chart has been filled by an X Factor-related act for weeks now (Alexandra Burke, Cheryl Cole, JLS) and now previous winner Leona Lewis looks odds-on keep that unfortunate statistic rolling.

However, salvation could come in the form of 'I've Got Nothing' by Chartjackers, an apologetically "cheesy pop tune" from Youtube celebrity Charlieissocoollike.  The record, a product of ten weeks labor, was released via iTunes this Monday with all profits going towards BBC Children in Need and has already crept into the Top 40 in the midweeks.

 The song itself is actually quite catchy and at least one hundred times better than The Kooks (even though that's technically one hundred times nothing) and the video is ridiculous DIY fun.  Usually I'd urge you to put an extra quid in a charity box than buy a Children in Need or Comic Relief single but, far from the career-enhancement-dressed-up-as-altruism of most acts who lend their name to charity singles, this seems notihing more than marvellous. Dig deep now and get your copy from iTunes.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Evening All!


“Not Afternoon, But Evening”

HealeyIsland is one-man arts lab Greg Healey, a man hell bent on creating a slipstream genre located somewhere in the twilight zone between dark electronica and light muzak. This is most apparent in album opener and title track ‘Not Afternoon, But Evening’, a suitably mariachi inspired krautrock affair that as far as openers go is impressively moody. On other tracks such as “Your Final Journey” there is even a hint of Richard Hawley, albeit with an added element of spoken-word poetics, which is not a bad thing at all. This then is an album of thought experiments, and while some of them may not have been entirely successful, they are nevertheless always interesting, as on “Edwardian American Prefab”, which could have been something unearthed by the Ghost Box Label. Other tracks are located firmly in easy listening territory. This is noticeable on “Moments After Joining”, a beautifully understated space – lullaby, all jazzy chords and melodramatic smokey vibes. Add to this the John Barry / Barry Adamson goes Moog atmospherics of “Red Car Crossing A Dimly Lit Bridge”, “Recriminations” and “Facsimile Mountain”, a daytime American TV show starring Angela Landsbury waiting to happen. “Not Afternoon, But Evening” is an intimate album dripping with neon-soaked noir and idiosyncratic cinematic overtones designed to create a headspace that you can get lost in.

Keith Haworth

Just How Long Do The Simpsons Have Left?

Everyone loves The Simpsons - that's a given fact.  Well, ok...everyone loves The Simpsons apart from a couple I met earlier this year in my local pub, but two out of seven billion can be wrong.  This fact was re-impressed upon me yesterday when Channel 4 screened the classic episode 'Simpson and Delilah' (the one where Homer charges hair-growth formula to the nuclear power plant and becomes a powerful junior executive - until he is found out, the formula is spilt by Bart and eventually his influence weakens with every lost strand of synthetic hair) which was originally screened in October 1990 nestling among a universal clutch of "classic episodes".  This is an episode I have seen many times but, like so many others, it was with a friendly smile that I greeted this old friend instead of a derisive sneer of over-familiarity.  Contrarily, my normal response to The Simpsons on Sky One, where the episodes tend to be recent ones, is "I haven't seen this one - must be crap."  Sadly, it often turns out to be true.  The series will celebrate its twentieth anniversary on 17th December this year and many may argue this would be a suitable chance to finally call time, not just in Moe's bar, but on the whole town of Springfield.

It's long been said that it's difficult to pin-point the exact point when The Simpsons began to lose its magic, but general consensus puts it, sadly, at around the summer of 1997 when series creator Matt Groening began to look at his new venture Futurama with David X Cohen.  The series had run virtually flawlessly for eight triumphant seasons (although there were some near misses in season six!) but, with a disastrous season premiere finding The Simpsons in New York (which had previously been portrayed brilliantly by the fictional 'Capital City') and the first of many ill-advised character developments outside the family (Apu and new spouse in 'The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons') this was the beginning of the end for a show which had simply run out of stories.

From 1997, The Simpsons relied more on celebrity cameos.  Famous voices would more often than not play themselves as this previously normal American family increasingly found themselves coming face to face with Hollywood stars, Rock Gods, Teenyboppers and, in the abysmal 'British' episode, the incumbent Prime Minister - who, let's face it, has never been shy of doing anything for a stray dollar.  At least when Ricky Gervais was given the honour of becoming the first guest to write and appear in the show, he voiced the smarmy 'Charles', an extension of Gervais - just like David Brent or Andy Millman.  However, the wonderful irony at work here is that Gervais has been a long-standing advocate of "quit while you're ahead", wrapping up both The Office and Extras after two series and a special to tie up any loose ends.  To accuse Gervais of the same sell out tactics so often employed by his two most famous creations would be churlish, however.  This is the Simpsons after all!

That's possibly the problem.  Nobody really wants to admit that The Simpsons has gone stale, nor that it did a long time ago.  However, voluntary euthanasia may be the kindest gift Matt Groening can give his biggest cash cow.  The movie is quite literally in the can (one for you American slang enthusiasts there) and the show's greatest character has completed his journey from gruff, frustrated patriarch to a guff, frustrating idiot savant (minus the savant) with an over-reliance on a skin-crawlingly unfunny, exaggerated whisper.  It would simply be kindest to remember him on his greatest day ever...

Watch: 'Simpson and Delilah' (1990)

R.I.P. Jerry Fuchs

Gerhardt 'Jerry' Fuchs - very much the hired hands for various DFA and DFA-associated acts (!!!, The Juan MacLean, Turing Machine, Maserati) died in New York on Saturday night at the age of 34.

In a bizarre incident, Fuchs and a friend became stuck in a lift at a benefit party in Williamsburg.  Having managed to force the lift doors open, they both attempted to jump to their freedom to the nearest floor.  Fuchs did not make it and fell down the shaft to his death.

Tributes from bandmates and friends alike have been flooding in with John 'The Juan MacLean' MacLean describing Fuchs as "hands-down the best drummer I have ever played with or seen for that matter."

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Free MP3! The Plasticines - Barcelona (Lifelike remix)

Check this spaced-out housey remix by Lifelike of the French girlband de-jour (arf arf) The Plasticines. It's a bit of a stinker for Sunday (avoid if you have a hangover), make sure you have this in your arsenal this week if you are playing out. I like - 7/10

Barcelona (Lifelike remix) by Plastiscines

Video - The So So Glos - 'My Block'


Just got back from a wicked, music-free break in Bruges, which I'm sure you'll agree we all need from time to time. What always cheers me up is when a great video drops into my email account, and this week it's been this newie from Brooklyn's The So So Glos. Coming off like a cross between The Strokes, The Walkmen and The Clash, this is a pretty heady, ramshackle mixture that has the words 'over-exhuberance' running through it like a stick of rock. I like it. Hope you do too. The album 'Tourism/Terrorism' is coming soon, so keep your eyes open for that, and they'll be playing some London dates later this month too (dates on their Myspace)

In the meantime, check this and enjoy... BGR x

The So So Glos - My Block

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Pure Evil!

‘Liquid Mercury’
‘The Wickedest Man In The World'

The one-man renaissance that is Paul Simpson continues on his Lazarus - like airborne trajectory with ‘Liquid Mercury’, which is yet another mercurial slice of autobiography and hymn to his Liverpool hometown. While in comparison to previous single ‘English Electric Lightening’ this could initially be viewed as a slight affair, it does, like all great Wild Swans moments, seduce the listener on repeated listening. However, yet again, and true to form, the real delight is to be found on the spoken-word flipside. ‘'The Wickedest Man In The World', a Crowley lift, is a beguiling tale of psychodrama and psychogeographic malevolence that simultaneously manages to evoke a scene from Paris Texas while relocating it amongst the muddied sludge of the river Mersey. At a time when I had all but fallen out of love with the guitar, this beautiful confectionary reintroduces that most subtle of things, the intelligent guitarist, in the shape of Mike Mooney. A man who has previously played in other great bands such as The Sex Gods and Spiritualised, but it has to be said, has seldom sounded sonically better than in this luxuriant bubble bath of understated guitar histrionics that effortlessly embeds Simpson’s fine speaking voice as he again narrates a dark tale recalling his love / hate relationship with the city that in turn both fascinates and frightens him. Brush stroked drums and Debussy inspired piano sprinkled wonders evolve as Simpson asks himself, as David Byrne before him, how did I get here?

“What happened to me? I used to catch midnight boats to the Hoek of Holland, make love to punk schoolgirls in shower cubicles, drink Benylin for kicks, steal poetry, do acid for breakfast.”

It’s not such a bad life is it really Paul? Especially when after all those years you can still produce music that is as rich and life affirming as this. Buy this record now and then work your way through the back catalogue.
Keith Haworth

We Have Sound!

The Soundcarriers
The legion
Old Street

Tonight’s set is cherry picked from debut album ‘Harmonium’s highlights that kicks off with ‘Caught by the sun’. A thrilling start to a stunning show that reveals the exuberant nature of the band in full effect and makes one wonder what will happen when they let their imaginations embrace some of the less explored permutations on offer tonight. You see, The Soundcarriers, like Stereolab before them, appear to be able to seamlessly fit at least twenty different songs into one. This is down to Adam and Pish’s mercurial, liquid rhythm section. Pish, stoic and aloof as always, while human metronome Adam seems to change the tempo and inflection after every bar. One minute, as on ‘Cannonball’ and ‘I had a girl’ kraut groove, the next an understated subtle Pentangle-type rhythm. In fact Adam is possibly the greatest drummer since the Bunnymen’s sadly departed Pete Defrietas, not to mention he is also a man who makes Chris Sharrock look like Def Leppard’s Rick Allen. Add to this the gorgeous three part harmonies of Adam, Dorian and Leonore and at one stage the fact that Leonore’s organ knob twiddling live has now started to recall Eno in Roxy mode, sculpting as she does swathes of sonic prog- wizardry that are both electric and electrifying, momentarily giving a retro flavoured make-over to Old Street and effortlessly turning it into the New York underground circa 1969.

Keith Haworth

Friday, 30 October 2009

Heavenly Make 'Lost' Flowered Up Single Available For Free Download the loss of Flowered Up frontman Liam Maher, his former label Heavenly Records have made the ultra-rare 'Better Life' single available for free download via Mediafire.

This distinctly reggae-sounding release (with occasional sonic nods to the slap bass and keyboard histrionics of Faith No More of all people) was intended to follow up the hugely-popular 'Weekender' but eventually slinked out in a 500 copy limited edition 7" release in April 1994, some time after the band had split.

In a parallel world this would have gone Top 10, but unfortunately this country was dancing to the tune of Doop and Take That during this single's short shelflife - there must be a better way indeed...

Download it here:

Thursday, 29 October 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Efterklang perform Parades with the Britten Sinfonia

As the Barbican falls to a hush, the oboe plays its A and the rest of the Britten Sinfonia follow suit with the familiar, comforting and hall-filling sound of an orchestra tuning up. It's was at that point when it dawned on me that tonight could be very special indeed.

Having already performed their much acclaimed album of 2007 with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (now a DVD and live album) and with the Britten Sinfonia, Efterklang were in a new comfort zone here. Rather than the band playing front and center -- with orchestra behind -- they assimilated themselves in amongst assembled throng of strings, brass and woodwind to become part of the orchestra, rather than a band backed by one. Leading from the front was conductor Paul Hoskins; from the back of the stage Efterklang front man Casper Clausen conducted his men and women -- a picture childish smiles.

Parades obviously lends itself well to being played with an orchestra, the album having strings and brass dappled over all its tracks -- a duty normally replicated live by Peter Broderick (violin), Niklas Antonson (Trombone and tap shoes) and Thomas Husmer (trumpet and drums). What lifted this performance above the obvious width of sound when replicating these songs with an orchestra was the arrangement itself. Stings doubled vocals while brass picked up on bass lines; strings were plucked, picked and scraped en masse to create a canvas of sounds that was part of the performance, not merely an accompaniment.

Even though the band seemed very comfortable in amongst the orchestra it did, I feel, take away from the energy you normally get from an Efterklang solo show. However, this was by no means a normal Efterklang show.

With Parades now performed in its entirety a number of times one can only think what influences this is having on one of the most inventive and stand-alone act of the moment. A new album is promised for the Spring. Those that were there had a little sneak peak during the encore. Glorious.


Efterklang & The Danish National Chamber Orchestra - Cutting Ice To Snow (live) from Leaf Label on Vimeo.

Restorative Justice Can Be Funny Too

I read with interest today that youth crime in Northern Ireland is being cut by having young offenders meet face-to-face their victims and that a similar scheme may be introduced for troublesome 10-17 year olds in England and Wales.

Hey, any attempt at rehabilitation is a good attempt - but how far will it go? Could this satirical sketch from 2001's "The Armando Iannucci Shows" actually become commonplace?

Knife Attack Reunion