Monday, 30 September 2013
When the lovely Miriam Campbell agreed to pose with Martin Stephenson (or vice versa?) for a photo wearing the very stylish hiapop badge it made a certain Blog writer very happy.
I really didn't expect another impromptu photo a few weeks later of Miriam displaying her incredible balancing skills.
I also didn't then expect her to take a short break from cleaning her fridge, to sit inside it and send another silly pic.
Later that night, her group Mir, rehearsed what I am sure will be some more rather wonderful songs. This gave my favourite nose-balancing-fridge-hiding-female-singer-songwriter the perfect opportunity to then hide in a bass drum. Like you do.
What more can I say. Ace artist. Lovely lassie. Up for a giggle.
If you haven't heard Mir's current album, then you should give yourself a slap and click here.
Friday, 20 September 2013
Jack Cheshire – Long Mind Hotel (Gun 20 Records)
23 September 2013
This Jack Cheshire chap is a talented bloke, very talented. In fact, file him under Poets rather than Songwriters, because that’s actually what he is above anything. His words don’t rhyme and that largely goes unnoticed in his ability to make the words (and his voice) seem like an extra instrument. Instead he writes in unique couplets which add to the unique presentations.
His style is hard to pinpoint – nestling somewhere in between classic blues, 80s Indie, folk and vaudeville he creates tunes that brim (and often overflow) with sheer quality and ease. His words flow beautifully at times reminiscent of the British pop/poet institution that is Ray Davies, managing to fit the word ‘cantankerous’ effortlessly into album opener ‘Gyroscope’ which is a classic waiting to happen.
Moving to Liverpool in his formative years, Jack studied music whilst becoming an accomplished bass player, interestingly then adapting the bass playing style to the guitar. There are often nods in the general direction of Chris Isaac with his surf tinged plucking and obvious improvisations which were recorded and left to settle in the dust.
On first listen the album seems peculiar, almost a bit too different for its own good, but, after several more listens (yes, you will want to play over and over again) the mood grabs hold and won’t let go. The optimistic ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is another super catchy affair embroiled in sweeping arrangements and general loveliness. The title track describing the perils of drug abuse is majestic.
‘Kerosene’ is compelling with love song, and album closer, ‘Moving In A Straight line’ ending an album of surprises. An album of superbly written, constructed and recorded tracks, and, an album which you really should hear.
Published on Louder Than War 19/09/13 - here
Gary Numan – Love Hurt Bleed (Mortal Records)
23 September 2013
It’s thirty-five years since the release of Tubeway Army, thirty –five years! Gary Numan is back with a new single, from the forthcoming Splinter album, and he’s sounding better than ever. His first self-penned album since 2006’s Jagged, if Love Hurt Bleed is anything to go by, it should be a stunner.
His live appearances and admittance of his admiration for Nine Inch Nails is very clear as he sounds more like Trent Reznor and his boys than the group do themselves. You can almost hear Numan curl his lip as he lets his trademark snarl free on a pounding, heavy on bass track, aggressive track which promises to have Numanoids the World over whipped into a frenzy.
With enough modern day trickery to entice younger fans, and, several nods back to the early days of Replicas and The Pleasure Principle, Numan has crafted a modern day anthem which should blast the cobwebs from between everyone’s ears on his forthcoming November tour.
There’s little doubt that there have been times over his career where he has stumbled in his own footsteps, but, Love Hurt Bleed is Numan back at his incredible best, and, whilst the ‘Radio Edit’ of the song steams along magnificently, it’s the ‘Album Version’ that really roars along with a backing track that is as memorable as the choral lines themselves.
Gary Numan is back with possibly the best single of the year.
Published on Louder Than War 19/09/13 - here
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
TELEVISION were one of the most innovative bands to emerge from New York’s underground scene of the mid-70s, creating an influential new guitar vocabulary. While guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd liked to jam, they didn’t follow the accepted rock structures for improvisation - they removed the blues while retaining the raw energy of garage rock, adding complex, lyrical solo lines that recalled both jazz and rock.
With its angular rhythms and fluid leads, TELEVISION’s music always went in unconventional directions, laying the groundwork for many of the guitar-based post-punk pop groups of the late ’70s and ’80s.
The group will play four live dates in November at Gateshead, Manchester, London and Camber Sands.
More details on the Television website here.
Dustin Wong – Mediation Of Ecstatic Energy (Thrill Jockey)
16 September 2013
This is a slightly peculiar beast if ever I heard one. A nice one, but, slightly peculiar.
On the final part of the album trilogy that started in 2010 with his ‘Infinite Love’ album, Wong plays guitar in a very original way accompanied by an octave pedal to produce something that is compelling and intriguing. With influences of Surf Rock and John Fahey from his upbringing in Hawaii, the scene is set.
From the experimental opening of ‘The Big She’ to the curiously titled ‘A Shows B His Analysis And C Looked Over’, Wong also wails avant garde sounds to complete tracks which incorporates drum loops and near prog-rock guitars. The former could be called aggressive compared to the rest of the album which tends to be spiritual in sound. The later builds from simple guitar and gradually builds and builds via more loops and added instrumentation.
Wong’s way of work is certainly interesting, but, it has to be questioned if it is sustainable over a fourteen tracks. Initially, yes it is, the layers of guitars which come and go and interesting, and whilst ‘Mediation Ecstatic Energy’ isn’t going to stop the Universe, it’s certainly worth getting on board for a ride.
‘Aura Peeled Off’ starts with a rock feel and could be lifted straight from the 70s before crashing into ‘Out Of The Crown Head’ quite literally. The transition from track to track is poor, with a new one starting without gap or mix, or, fade in and out. It’s like watching American TV where you have no warning of an advert or a programme restarting. It’s frustrating and actually quite amateur sounding.
Comparisons could be made to Mike Oldfield and ‘Tubular Bells’ in so much as the way each piece appears from nothing and morphs into grand compositions, and, it’s probably easy to see this album fitting in nicely alongside. That’s a compliment of sorts, by the way.
The intro to penultimate track, ‘Vision Waterfall’ sounds more like the theme from ‘Twilight Zone’ than maybe the theme does itself, and, closer ‘Tall Call Cold Sun’ is a gentle end to an album of interest, but, possibly not longevity.
Published on Louder Than War 16/09/13 - here
Monday, 16 September 2013
Nat Lyon – New England Paradigm Shift
Artists like Nat Lyon are difficult to categorise. He calls himself punk/folk or anti-folk. He sounds more like a mix of The Ramones, early R.E.M. (when they were listenable) and They Might Be Giants. It’s a strange mix, but, it’s one that sounds mighty good.
Based in a 230 year old Connecticut farmhouse that he is currently renovating, Nat is an old-hand at punk now writing songs about fictional characters influenced by his Swamp Yankee history.
It’s probably the only album I’ve ever heard that kicks off with a reprise of what will be the final track. ‘For People In Cars n I-95’ is, for the un-initiated, about the freeway that spans from Florida to New England. At almost 2,000 miles long it remains unfinished for at least another five years. Claiming that he doesn’t want to die on the road, indicates either it’s boring or dangerous, or both. An interesting, almost trip-hop start to the album.
Given that the album is solely recorded by one man and his musical talents, it is an enthralling affair. The post mixing of the album by Chad Methany adds a haunting, apocalyptical feel with reverb and feedback aplenty.
There’s some dark humour on the album, ‘Gin And Visions’ being prime example, accompanied by some epic guitar work and a hook that will nestle itself in the dark recesses of your mind. ‘Field Notes From Eastern Uplands’ steams along with a backing track that could have been lifted from The Cure, and, ‘Pitched’ could quite easily be early 90s Indie with its cool effects and catchy melody.
Nat’s ability to write interesting lyrics is none better seen than on ‘Fox Sighting 1’ where the words can be best described as poetry, and, his uniqueness is proven on a second braver version of the song, ‘Fox Sighting 2’ with a backing that is stark and almost frightening. Wonderful stuff.
Ending on the (almost) title track ‘Paradigm Shift’ (the prequel to the album opener), you can’t help but feel that you’ve stumbled across something rather entertaining. The music is subtle and simple to start, and, ‘that’ whisper sends shivers down your spine. Building and building to an indecipherable noise mesh, it’s the perfect end to a very very good album.
Published on Louder Than War 15/09/13 - here
Sunday, 15 September 2013
Not content with giving us one of the finest albums you will ever hear (this year's 'The Disappearance Of The Girl'), Phildel now wants to share her hiapop badge with the World.
How she isn't yet an international star is completely beyond hiapop, and her forthcoming Advent Tour promises to be unforgettable (can't wait for the Sacred Trinity Church date in Manchester in December!).
So, if you haven't already, buy the album and click here for a hiapop badge!
Phildel interview on hiapop Blog
Phildel 'The Disappearance Of The Girl' album review
Phildel on Twitter
Friday, 13 September 2013
You've just got to get your hands on one!
Long time follower of hiapop, Mike Cornes (aka Shiny Rhino) can be seen here sporting some rather fetching spectacles and the fashion accessory of the season!
None other than Radio 6's Tom Robinson is a huge fan and has played Shiny Rhino several times on his show.
If you'd like your own hiapop badge, just click here.
Shiny Rhino on hiapop Blog
Shiny Rhino on Bandcamp
Shiny Rhino on Twitter
Thursday, 12 September 2013
Not content with possibly the finest single of the year so far, Feral Five are the latest in the growing line of artists wearing the badge that everyone wants!
Pictured above with are Drew and Kat looking mighty happy with their new clothing attachments.
If you'd like your own FREE hiapop badge, click here for details of how to get one.
Feral Five 'Skin' review on hiapop Blog
Feral Five website
Feral Five on Twitter
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Friends of hiapop Blog, Public Service Broadcasting, will release their new single on 4th November.
'Night Mail’ takes as its subject matter from the eponymous film of 1936, a pioneering documentary film produced by the General Post Office and the Royal Mail Group. Setting the original words of the documentary – including the much loved Night Mail poem – to a song that evokes the rhythm, speed and excitement of the railway in the era of the steam train, PSB breathe a new lease of life into a gem of a film.
On the same day, they will release a DVD version of their album, 'Inform-Educate-Entertain'. It features a video for each track on the album (mostly the ones played live), as well as bonus videos and features including interviews, short films and, commentaries on each video.
'Inform-Educate-Entertain' album review
PSB feature on hiapop Blog
PSB on Twitter
The latest in the line of artists sporting a hiapop badge is Nat Lyons - the first overseas wearer!
Nat creates an interesting mix of fuzzy post-punk/folk/pop that is both serious and seriously funny, and, an altogether very pleasurable experience. His latest album New England Paradigm Shift is currently available to download from Bandcamp here, and, you can follow Nat on Twitter here.
If you'd like your own hiapop badge, just click here for details.
Monday, 9 September 2013
The new Erasure album, Snow Globe, is planned for release on 11 November.
It will be preceded by its first single, Gaudete, Erasure’s distinctive take on the Medieval Latin carol, which was also a folk hit for Steeleye Span in 1973.
‘I haven’t actually heard him sing better,’ says Vince of Andy stepping back into the booth. ‘I found my inner choirboy again,’ says Andy. ‘I thought I’d lost him but he was there all along.’
Unlike the bells and whistles, glitter and tinsel sets that crowd the market come Christmas-time, Snow Globe is possessed of something more in the wistfully, strangely subdued celebratory mould of recent seasonal albums by Tracey Thorn and Kate Bush. ‘We managed to strip everything back to bare essentials,’ Vince says approvingly of the minimal approach Erasure took for this recording. ‘White Christmas almost has a drone all the way through it. I love that.’
Sunday, 8 September 2013
Following the dizzying "The Big She", Dustin Wong has released a second track called "Liberal Christian Youth Ministry" from his hotly anticipated Mediation of Ecstatic Energy, due out 16th September on Thrill Jockey.
Mediation of Ecstatic Energy follows the stunning Toropical Circle collaborative album with Takako Minekawa, and is the final release in Dustin's trilogy of albums based on advanced guitar looping techniques. Liberal Christian Youth Ministry showcase's Dustin's innate melodic abilities, and his ability to create complex, technicolor songs using only his guitar and a series of pedals.
'Chatma' is the new album by Tuareg rockers Tamikrest. The album is a fully persuasive sonic document and is filled with sober reflection, moral indignation, musical experimentation, cultural celebration - and the kick of rock and roll. 'Chatma' translates as "Sisters" and the band have dedicated the album, in their own words, to "the courage of the Tuareg women, who have ensured both their children's survival and the morals of their fathers and brothers."
Out 16 September 2013 on Glitterbeat Records
CD/ Vinyl/ Download (GBCD 007/ GBLP 007)
UK distribution by Shellshock
You can also catch Tamikrest live in the UK:
16 October - GATESHEAD The Sage Hall Two
18 October - LEEDS Howard Assembly Room
19 October - WHITBY Musicport Festival
20 October - LONDON XOYO
21 October - NOTTINGHAM Djanogly Theatre
22 October - BRIGHTON Komedia
23 October - BRISTOL Colston Hall II
24 October - NORWICH Arts Centre
Knitting Factory Records releases 'RED HOT + FELA' on 15 October, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Fela Kuti's birth and uniting an eclectic, collaborative roster of artists from the USA and Africa in the name of AIDS awareness. All profits are going to combat AIDS.
Featured on the thirteen Fela Kuti reworkings are Angelique Kidjo, ?uestlove (The Roots), M1 (Dead Prez), tUnE-yArDs, Baloji, Spoek Mathambo, Nneka, Kronos Quartet, Tony Allen and many others.
Also to be released on 15 October are these six Fela Kuti reissue CDs:
Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense (KFR1022)
Original Suffer Head / ITT (KFR1023)
Live In Amsterdam (KFR1024)
Army Arrangement (KFR1025)
Beasts Of No Nation / ODOO (KFR1026)
Underground System (KFR1027)
The release of these CDs will complete the Fela Kuti reissue series by Knitting Factory Records. The complete works of Fela, consisting of almost 50 albums, have been re-packaged, with in-depth track commentaries written by Afrobeat historian Chris May, and released in three batches between March and October 2013.
The first batch of reissues was spearheaded by 'The Best Of The Black President 2', a 2CD collection (KFR1029-2) with a foreword written by Senegalese-American R&B/hip-hop artist Akon. A special deluxe edition of the compilation also includes a DVD of Fela's legendary 1984 Glastonbury concert (KFR1029-5). Also available is 'The Complete Works' of Fela Anikulapo Kuti in a deluxe box - 26 CDs (containing 46 albums) and a bonus DVD (KFR5004).
Hjaltalin – Enter 4 (Hjaltalin)
9 September 2013
Sigur Ros have a lot to answer for. If it wasn’t for their reputation I may never have listened to Retro Stefson whose eponymous album was a lovely slab of alternative pop. I may also never have come across Enter 4 by Hjaltalin, and that would have been a huge shame given the sheer quality of the album.
There’s a story that precedes the band. Between the release of critically acclaimed 2009 album ‘Terminal’ and the Autumn of 2012, the band laid low whilst frontman Högni Egilsson struggled with his worsening mental health. The work-in-progress they had produced was left in a state of flux as he left the band and continued between hospitals and mental institutions. He now insists that ‘Enter 4’ played a huge part in his recovery.
So what of the album? Essentially, the backbone is one of synth and percussion complimented by conventional orchestral instruments, it’s a fine fine collection of post-pop, ambience and general eeriness. Vocals from both Egilsson and Sigríður Thorlacius are superb and in many ways, comparisons can be made with last year’s album by Archive, ‘With Us Until You’re Dead’. Songs that are built on simple melodies but frequently escalate into neo-stadium anthems.
Opener, ‘Lucifer/He Felt Like A Woman’ has a deep bass beat, that though repetitive, is essential to the make-up of the song. A hook that continues to buzz around until well after the song has finished, and, a great start to the album.
Hjaltalin have a quite remarkable ability to combine pop with deep experimentation, and, make it work. Song arrangements can be complex but the melodies shine through like glimmers of sunlight through a dark forest. ‘Forever Someone Else’ enters the realms of trip-hop with the sumptuous vocals of Thorlacius being a key factor, and, some quite enthralling orchestral arrangements. ‘On The Peninsula’ is nothing short of beautiful.
‘Letter To […]’ seems to combine echoes of Soul II Soul with a darker, second half, which includes post-industrial beats and screeches. The placid vocals being a well-placed contrast as the track fades out. ‘We’ rises from quiet ballad, with more stunning vocals, to a gargantuan close of crashes, bangs and general wall of sound.
The story goes that album closer, ‘Ethereal’, was recorded in one take, on the spur of the moment after Egilsson had been out of his mind and unable to work with the rest of the band. It’s pure genius and a quite incredible song. It’s eerie and beautiful at the same time, and, when Egilsson performed it, it apparently brought the remaining band members to tears. It’s a fitting and sobering end to a quite brilliant album.
Saturday, 7 September 2013
It seems that everyone that is anyone in the world of music is wearing a hiapop badge!
Above is Johnno Casson (aka Snippetcuts), purveyor of some of the finest DIY folk/pop you're likely to come across sporting his rather wonderful, and FREE, hiapop badge.
And, the badge also makes a cameo appearance in the newly recorded track Whatever Happened To The Working Class:
If you'd like your own hiapop badge, find out how to get one here.
Snippet DIY album review on hiapop Blog
Snippetcuts on Twitter
Here it is! The first photo of hiapop fans wearing their hiapop badges!
First up are the lovely Martin Stephenson and the equally lovely Miriam Campbell, lead singer with Mir, pictured in Invergordon.
Watch out for more hiapop Blog supporters showing off this Autumns most sought after fashion accessory soon!
If you want your own hiapop badge, find out how to get one here.
Martin Stephenson articles on hiapop Blog
Martin Stephenson website
Martin Stephenson on Twitter
Mir album review on hiapop Blog
Mir on Bandcamp
Miriam on Twitter
Friday, 6 September 2013
Circle Traps – Obelisk EP (Five Easy Pieces)
Obelisk is one of those things that you want to like. Five tracks combining ambience with drone and the promise to equal the success of the debut EP, Fjord.
‘Heatwave’ opens with a backdrop of drone and what appear to either be random chime-like sounds, or, a calculated attempt to purposely play a tune out of synch. The percussion also doesn’t necessarily suit, but, there’s a feeling that after two or three listens, it will all fall into place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and, the theme continues for the remaining four tracks.
There’s no doubt that Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie and Duncan Bellamy, with the addition of Will Ward, are striving to be original. There’s also no question that there are interesting sounds and effects used here, (the beginning to ‘Open Cube’ being case in point), but they just don’t seem to gel.
At times, the tracks sound like there are two or more separate melodies being played at once and can become slightly frustrating. At little over two minutes, ‘Pop’ could well be the EP highlight. Simple drone with the addition of an interest semi-drumbeat makes for easy listening with enough variance to keep it engaging. Any comparisons to Four Tet can be made here as the track fades away from whence it came.
The title track and ‘Redshift’ close the EP with very much of the same, staggered stalling. The later attempts to forge a distinctive melody, but, doesn’t necessarily meet its goal. ‘Obelisk’ too promises much but falls just short of the mark.
There are ideas on Obelisk EP, but sometimes, originality at the price of a good track isn’t always the objective. You get the feeling that the EP is just one or two steps from being something rather special, and, there’s no doubt that there are great things up Circle Traps’ sleeves. Unfortunately, just not yet.
Published on Louder Than War 6/09/13 - here
Monday, 2 September 2013
Transmission 13 – The Great American Disaster
‘Kaleidoscopio’, last years album release by Transmission 13, brushed aside the ‘difficult second album’ tag with ease, leaving Maurice Doogan free to then tackle his third album, ‘The Great American Disaster’, and he’s only gone and done it again.
Eleven new tracks, each repeating the quality now expected from Transmission 13 (no pressure for album 4!) and continuing the sound which is quickly becoming recognisable. With slightly more ambient this time round, the krautrock sound has been temporarily laid to rest in favour of soothing tunes and soundscapes, that in several cases, are truly beautiful.
Opener, ‘Shimmering Substance’, is gorgeousness personified. An ocean of ebbing synth sounds that ripple around your sub-consciousness for quite some time to come. Slowly building, but never completely taking over, the track weaves its way from start to end before meeting up with ‘On Reflection’ where the theme continues.
Where Transmission 13 succeeds is in the simple way that the tracks are constructed. We’re talking layers of sounds rather than multi sounds where nothing is overfacing and everything sits perfectly. All tracks are caringly put together and surely it’s only a matter of time before you start hearing Maurice on your TV sets where you can witness his tracks being put over images of natural beauty and/or outer space.
The title track is case in point of the confidence in which these tracks are executed and laid down. Imagine if a shard diamond could sing – this is what is would sound like. The temptation to have a blockbuster, belt-and-braces track representing the album is resisted, and, ‘The Great American Disaster’ is quite literally incidental in the bigger scheme of things.
‘Bay Of Pigs’ sees the perfectly placed newsreel soundbytes that are becoming almost characteristic, and, the piano backing has the potential to become anthemic . Rarely has mention of George Bush and Richard Nixon sounded so good!
There’s a true eeriness to ‘Objeccto Volante de Identificado’ , where there is potential for percussion thunder interspersed by newsreel voiceovers and some interesting effects. Probably, the most experimental Maurice has yet been and another string to his bow.
Closer, ‘Warning Sign’, transmits astronaut voices from space beside minimal piano and drone. An end to a fine album from a very talented artist.
Great album cover too.