Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Friday, 27 May 2016

Listen! - Jasmine Rodgers - Sense





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Watch! - Hunter As a Horse - Dead Stars






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Listen! - Tommy Antonio - Summer EP





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Review - The Cultural Studies – Recycled Press




The Cultural Studies – Recycled Press (Sub Continental)

DL

Out Now

8 / 10

Electronic European/American duo release their debut album. 

Largely spoken word, Recycled Press is a punchy and occasionally raw sounding album combined with dancey, electro beats it offers an alternative slant on modern day pop.  Considered as a musical genius Oskar Pompa spent his formative years in Slovakia and after a chance meeting with American ‘Eric’ at Spector Studio in Brussels, The Cultural Studies was formed.

Recent single The Automaton, aside from being the album highlight, is a fascinating and sometimes amusing diction on the World banking system.  “I want my money back” is the catchy strapline which accompanies a frenetic backing with Eric sounding very much like actor Bill Murray.  In fact, once that image is in your head, it’s hard to shift. 

It is the spoken word, almost poetic style that sets this album aside from its contemporaries.  Cosmic Journey has a backing at times with more than a hint of Taking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime and it’s those comparisons that add to the albums charm.

On efforts more akin to singing, the album loses a little impetus.  Yellow Dance for instance descends into a mediocre pop track without the edge that its predecessors contain but normal service is resumed with Car-Men a thoroughly entertaining diction over a pattering backbeat.

The title track tackles power, corruption and lies within a wonderful electro-reggae beat, and Bastardification, aside from having one of the best song titles of the year, deals with the tabletisation of society.  Shapeshifter is slightly experimental in its backing with added vocals over a delightfully unconstrained flexibility.  A tale of vampire sorts has some Pet Shop Boys influence and terrific pounding percussion.

Amongst the incisive percussion of album closer Supernature, Ricky Gervais gets a mention in the same line as squirrels and the continued black humour of Recycled Press is once more present amongst the occasional profanity.

It’s not a perfect album, but it’s imperfections make it some essential listening and there are plenty of ideas abound from the duo which bode well for future releases.  When The Cultural Studies get it right, they get it spot-on and it’s those moments which make them one to keep an eye on.



Links

Sub-Continental Records
The Cultural Studies website
The Cultural Studies on Twitter
The Cultural Studies on Facebook
Pet Shop Boys on hiapop Blog




Pubished on Louder Than war 21/05/16 - here










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Listen! - Michael Mormecha - Restless Remix by Ryan Vail








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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Blog - Favourite Shirts


I only chose the title for this article because I couldn’t think of a song called Favourite Record Labels rather than give it the name of a Haircut 100 song. 

There was a time in the late 80s when you could tell a band by the single/album artwork even if they didn’t put their name of the title on the sleeve.   New Order spring to mind, or even Pet Shop Boys and a plethora of unknown artists too – probably why they remained unknown.  There was also a time when you liked everything that a label put out.

Once upon a time labels, particularly the indie ones (when Indie meant Independent before an attempt to create a genre was made) had music of a theme, in so much as you almost knew you’d liked everything they put out.  Factory, Mute, Kitchenware, Rough Trade, 4AD – you were guaranteed to enjoy almost every release.  Sadly, those days are long gone as are many of the labels who have either disappeared or been swallowed up by a jealous major.

Another thing that is gone is my The The t-shirt.  I loved it.  After struggling unsuccessfully for many a year to buy one, I got a work colleague who made shirts for Stag and Hen parties to make one out of the bands logo.  It was the dog’s bollocks.  White logo on black T.  I was twice stopped at a Blancmange gig and asked where I got it.  One fateful day, it was unintentionally put it in the clothes dryer and the vinyl lettering melted into an horrific mess.  My wife was sorry.  I was gutted.

I digress.



It would seem however, that some labels are back with their themes.  If you like one album, you’ll probably enjoy the vast majority of what they do.  Two of my favourite labels are like that, the third is admired because it’s catalogue is so brave and extreme, that they shine above anything that any major could ever do.

The first label is On U-Sound.  In 1985 Bop Bop by Fats Comet was the first track I heard as it spewed its incredible break beat from Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire.  It gobsmacked me, I’d never heard it’s like before and with OTW the two became an obsession that I carry to this day.  Unlike the labels, I don’t always like every track on the show but the diversity is incredible. 



After Bop Bop I sought out more from Fats (the ‘dick-around’ version of Tackhead and the same line-up) – Stormy Weather, King Of The Beat, Dee Jay’s Dream.  The beats were loud and clinical and made you want to move every part of your body.  A purchase of the On-U sampler album Pay It All Back Vol 1 introduced me to the likes of Singers & Players, Dub Syndicate and New Age Steppers and the amazing Mark Stewart.  His treatment of Jerusalem is still ahead of its time more than thirty-five years later.

Tackhead are a huge favourite of mine.  The cut-ups and the willingness to be different were second to none.  Gary Clail.  African Head Charge.  Little Annie.  Little Axe.  Andy Fairley.  Somebody stop me.

Needless to say I have an On-U t-shirt.  Disturbing the comfortable. Comforting the disturbed.

Thrill Jockey Records is an enigma for sure.  My introduction to them was with Total Folklore by Dan Friel.  A mish-mash of crunching, distorted sounds over bass heavy rhythms and general electro anarchy.  It was wonderful, but the thing about Thrill Jockey is their reluctance to conform whether it be the faux funk of Brother JT or the gnarling thrash of White Hills to the gorgeous harp of Mary Lattimore, not every album is a classic but therein lies much of the charm of the label – they seem to give something less than a shit about how it’s received and more about their enormous credibility for being so bold.



For me, 2014s best album was by The Skull Defekts.  Dances In Dreams Of The Known Unknown pictures on its sleeve what appeared to be a medical cross section of a penis and a vagina. I could be wrong, but one thing I’m definitely correct about is its absolute brilliance probably making it one of my all-time favourite albums.



My Johnny Cash t shirt features the great man display a huge middle finger in the classic image – the equivalent of the Thrill Jockey outlook no doubt.

Formed in 2012, Glitterbeat is a mere baby in the World of record labels but in a short space of time has impressed me no end.  Specialising in “vibrant global sounds from Africa and beyond” Chris Eckman (The Walkabouts) and Hugo Race (The Bad Seeds) have formed not only a stunning label but also an amazing act themselves in Dirtmusic.  The 2013 album, Troubles was nothing short of perfection mixing traditional Malian sounds with Westernised influences.



With a roster including the likes of Dennis Bovell, Bassekou Kouyate and Jon Hassell/Brian Eno the label pumps out albums at a quite startling rate and expands on the original base of Africa to South America, Turkey, London and more.

Glitterbeat too seem to be governed by a ‘release what we like’ philosophy and is probably the nearest thing you’ll find to an ‘Indie’ label nowadays.  The recent Hanoi Masters compilation with a mix of Vietnamese contributors was a joy indeed.

So, my favourite three labels.  It’ll probably change at some point but for now it’s as it is. 

Now where’s my Marc Bolan t-shirt?






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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Listen! - #hiapopRadio 14/05/16










Watch! - Volkova Sisters - Bianco






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Listen! - Channel D - Derelict K.V.B.G.N Remix





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Review - New Order – Complete Music




New Order – Complete Music (Mute)

CD / DL

Out now

8.5 / 10

Legendary Mancunians release extended mix album.  

Last year’s Music Complete marked a triumphal return for Manchester’s finest.  Hailed as their best album for over a quarter of a century, their first for over two years was a critical and commercial victory.   Such was its success that the remix album contained within the special edition vinyl has now been released in its own right by popular demand.

The band that needs very little introduction are back to their finest, possibly the best they have ever sounded.  The now polished sound of the band, no doubt influenced by the work technique (sorry) of Mute suits them perfectly.  The characteristic bass and synth sounds are still there and its unmistakably New Order.

Complete Music is billed as extended mixes rather than remixes, and the result is ten tracks on cd for the first time with the addition of Singularity which appeared on the single release package.  Whether it be the Giorgio Moroder bass throb of Plastic or the memory of True Faith in Academic, each track glows in its own glory.

Playing like a Greatest Hits package, Complete Music goes one step further than its master and adds further depth and insight to an already great album.  Six and a half glorious minutes of drawling Iggy Pop on Stray Dog epitomise a group having the time of their lives with heroes guesting on their own compositions.

What maybe makes Complete Music so special is that it brings together echoes of New Order past and present.  Their distinctively recognisable sound with the typical remix quality hits fine form on Nothing But A Fool which is classic fodder, whereas The Game sounds as though it is as it was originally recorded, and there is perhaps the strength of this album.  No track sounds like a ‘remix’, each and every one sounds as though it was recorded as a lengthy version then edited for their 2015 album.

Complete Music is a special album from a special band making some of the finest dance/rock of their careers.






Links
Mute Records
New Order website
New Order on Twitter
New Order on Facebook




Published on Louder Than War 19/05/16 - here











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Friday, 20 May 2016

Watch! - Vince Clarke & Paul Hartnoll - Better Have A Drink To Think







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Watch! - M.A BEAT! - Four Hands







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Listen! - Aphex Twin - Bucephalus Bouncing Ball (M.A BEAT! Remix)





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Watch! - Still Parade - Chamber (360°)





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Watch! - Saint Sister - Madrid







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Listen! - Mole - Tar Baby





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Thursday, 19 May 2016