Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the de-valuation of tunes (again!)

Another article about free music being uncool and unsustainable, as well as damaging to all of us in a way -- it's always been hard for really good music to get out there, so I would say that in a sense not much has changed, but I still find this article though-provoking. Some of the comments below the line are also pretty good.

Friday, October 28, 2011

the Hype Machine

Just read an article on the Guardian site about bands who initially do amazing then lose massive sales and their fanbase when their next album comes out. Seems to me like a trend that's more and more prevalent, especially when you look outside of mainstream pop -- the likes of Glasvegas, Franz Ferdinand, and even Vampire Weekend all seem to have had that flavour-of-the-month quality to them. Not that their latter efforts were good/bad, but more that whatever they did next didn't seem to garner as much attention as their debuts. I'm sure we all have our theories why, and I think many of the comments below the article itself are quite valid. My own suspicions are to do with the internet and the sheer volume of supposedly good music that's coming out -- once one band has been massively hyped, there's another one to hype up the next day. It's reached a saturation point and I'm not sure how the average fan is supposed to keep up with everything they're being told is good/great. Personally, I've gotten a little sick of music at the moment and can't really pay attention to anything new. Ipods and the instant nature of the web haven't helped; I was better off with radio and when good DJ's had more of a say. Blogs are kinda like all new media in that their content needs to be constantly renewed -- that means they always have to go after the next artist/sound/album. Also, for me, with so much music out there I feel like it's gotten a little cheaper -- all these people, they're not saying anything particularly new or profound, it's all a bit simple and repetitive really. Maybe this is what growing older is like? When pop music just doesn't seem to matter as much. Anyway, here's the article, and the comments below really do seem to sum up the many reasons why some artists are having a harder time now, while also reasoning that maybe it's not just about sales anyway.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Raving like it's 1986

Yes, 1986, cos the first video featured below is from way back then. Didn't know house music culture was so established so early but I'm guessing black kids in Manchester were ahead of the curve (massively ahead! Maybe the year is mislabeled?). Back then I was eight years old and listening to things my older family were into -- stuff on Top of the Pops and the radio basically, Michael Jackson, Abba, Dire Straits. Who knew this underground thing was bubbling up? There's quite a lot of nostalgia for that era going around; blogs like Class of 808, musicians like Calvin Harris, and the second video below attest to that. Not sure how I feel about it -- I love the tunes and the era but I was too young to truly be a part of it; at the same time the current fashion is forcing me to realise that all that is way in the past. Plus, when it comes to nostalgia for music and fashion, what's next? A Britpop revival featuring crap Liam Gallagher type haircuts? I hope not. I think the mixed feelings come from the fact that I'm a recent old skool revivalist myself (if you've seen my trainer collection this will come as no surprise) -- it felt good to be doing my own thing, now it's a current thing, soon it'll be a past it thing. That and the recognition that it is the past, and that it's gone now, replaced with thousands of new Mp3's a day but no proper new scene. Anyway, check out the vids and enjoy the moves, the gurning, and the blinding clothing.

The one right above is by Friendly Fires, yet another band I don't know too much about, but I can definitely relate to the lyrics here and what the band-member is saying at the end of the vid -- watch it all the way through and you'll know what I'm talking about. Closest I've come to a nice outdoor dancefest is the Movement festival in downtown Detroit, but sadly I'll be missing it again this year. There is something special about being outside and dancing with others. One more thing, that first vid is from a community centre in Manchester, England, in 1986 -- check out the crowd. It amazes me just how diverse the rave scene really was, and also how it never took off in the US like it did in the UK and Europe -- why is that? Especially keeping in mind that in the beginning most of the music was coming from America.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twinkly sounds

I've been having a very busy, strange, and exciting month here in NYC, much more than usual. But its also been stressful, and as always, my automatic method to de-stress is to listen to music.

Bjork's latest single was released a few months ago but I'm only posting it up now. Have a look at her website, one of the funkiest I've ever seen.

'Crystalline' is the single and its got a sound only Bjork can pull off, and what I really love is how it goes all drum n bass at the end - I'm very happy to see that come back around. Its one of those songs I know I can play on repeat...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Old Band Releases New Album That Almost No-One Will Buy

And with good reason too -- cos what I've heard isn't very good. Who am I talking about? The STEREO MC'S. Remember them? Were they ever really anything more than a one-hit wonder? It's hard to remember now. What I do know (circumstantially -- I came across an ad while looking up events in DC at RA) is that they've got a new collection of songs out, and it's called 'Emperor's Nightingale'. It's not terrible, to be honest, and probably if I paid more attention to the lyrics I might even like what I'm hearing. But the music backing up said lyrics just doesn't stand out to me in any particular way -- it's a bit dancey, a bit poppy, but I've not heard anything special. For some reason I keep thinking of that other old dance band, Faithless, though I have no idea why cos I don't think the music is really that comparable. I think it's cos of Rob Birch's voice sounding a bit like Maxi Jazz's. You can judge for yourself at a mini-site with some streaming tracks and a video here. Videos. I'm surprised anyone bothers with them anymore; I mean they cost money, and most people don't even spend money on music now. If you go the website do listen to the tracks 'Tales' and 'Bring it On' -- really quite decent and deserving of a bit of attention. And you know what, I've just Youtubed the Stereos and I feel a little bad now. I mean check out 'Connected':

That is class! Look at Rob Birch! He hasn't aged at all -- cos he can't. How could he possibly look any older? And what about 'Step It Up'?:

These videos make me happy -- they remind me of how seriously Brits (used to?) take their pop music and culture -- the clothes, the look, the feel! Lovely stuff. Probably a book could be written on why music is taken so seriously in the UK -- to the point that bands like the Strokes and the Killers broke over there before they did in their native US. But that book will not be written by me (and surely it's already been written?). I'm pretty sure this new album will get lost in the mix, in the thousands of new releases that are out every month -- but who knows, maybe it'll get picked up on the radio and talked about in the UK? We can only hope.

UPDATE: I've now listened to 'Bring it On' a couple of times and have decided that it's wicked. So, with that, and cos I know many interwebbers are ultra-lazy, here's a Youstube of said track:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jon Convex

Just discovered a new tune and producer via Benji's B Radio 1 show that featured Martyn, which was on air a few hours ago. Listen to this mix its pretty terrific, you can download it here. Thanks to Didier for the tip! (Ps on this mix you can hear lots of new tracks off of Martyn's upcoming brand new album!!!)

So here's the tune its called 'Falling Again' by Jon Convex. He's signed on Martyn's 3024 label.

And it turns out he's got a mix up on FactMag.

Hurrah for new music!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here to Stay

I just want to note first that I love the name 'Felix da Housecat'. It's so fun to say.

Recently I got a 'new' vintage audio system. It was time to move on from my big black Aiwa box that I bought used in Ann Arbor 7 years ago. When I got my 'new' soundsystem the first song I played was a record I bought in some random record shop in New York a few years ago. The record is a single by New Order (one of the best bands ever in my opinion) called 'Here to Stay' and there's a very fantastic remix by...Felix da Housecat. This was released in 2002 I believe.

When I was playing the song, the guy who sold me the system and had come to deliver and set it up, was astonished that I was playing New Order; he remarked he hadn't listened to them since his high school days in the 80s.

Anyway, here it is! It sounds amazing when I play it in my room by the way. I love it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(West) London Calling

I'm not sure where to start with this post. It's fairly self-indulgent but since I'm the only one doing any real blogging here now I'll give myself a pass. I was checking out Platform and saw some of these vids posted. Then I went here and found more. I'm focusing on a few that stood out to me, for varied reasons, below. They're all filmed in London, all are about the length of the songs that soundtrack them, and all involve young urban Londoners. Whenever I come across stuff like this I wonder about where I might've ended up if I'd not left London -- would have I have had earrings and a silly haircut? I think I would've been one of the uncooler kids, but you never know. Now I'm 32 the nostalgia for this time period is passing a bit, but I wonder about that too -- how would 32 yr old me who'd not moved be? A saddo in a hoody, driving an old Merc around West London? Perhaps. Check out the vids and the tunes that go with them; perhaps Hena will comment on the merits of the film-making?

This first one's about Southall, where we'd go in the back of Dad's Honda to get Indian groceries. Me and Feraz would usually have a big samosa in a paper bag to eat to keep us occupied. It hasn't really changed much. The track on the video is really good too:

The next one is the last day of school at a school in Harrow, in West London, also near where we used to live. I used to see the older kids writing on each other's shirts and think that it would be me one day, but that never happened. I like the diversity of the group here and the fact that they all seem so chummy, despite the differences. Multiculturalism at it's finest!

This last one I've put in cos it made me think even more about the diversity present in modern-day London. These are the Asians that don't really get talked about but here they are showing that they've got their own place in London's street and youth culture:

There you go then. All those vids make me feel old. There was another one that made me feel even older but I'm only going to post the music from that. Check out Solar Bears:
Children Of The Times by Solar Bears

Friday, June 3, 2011

so, has dance music finally gone totally mainstream in america?

You know, it's normal on pop radio and on the charts mainstream? I actually have no idea cos I don't keep track of the charts or listen to the radio, but I did come across this, which made me wonder. 10 million hits?? Someone is into this stuff, and it's quite amusing to watch Chris Brown dance with his hands while surrounded by a dozen rap cameos. The stadium dancing makes me want to go out. The tune isn't the greatest, basically fits in with all the David Guetta featuring whoever stuff, but if dance is finally mainstream I'm ok with that. Look at those happy dancing people in the club scenes; isn't that preferable to shots of expensive liquor and moody looking people being aggressive? I'm pretty sure this sound has been around for a while now, but still, it strikes me that the mainstreaming has come from an unexpected place. Back in the day, shows like 'AMP' on mtv and some of the radio shows on alterna-radio (such as 89x in Detroit) were clearly aimed at white people -- as were the big beat scenes that were promoted at the time. Even today, if you go to a festival like Movement in Detroit, the vast majority of the crowd will be very very pale (as confirmed by a friend who went to this year's event). Yet all that marketing never pushed dance over to the mainstream. Now it's being reclaimed by the demographic that invented it in the first place, through house and trance riffs on rap songs on to straight up cheesy dance a la the Chris Brown/Benny Benassi track. Full circle then! About time.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I am the paper above the skyscaper. + Massive x Gui Boratto

That GusGus post got me nostalgic for this classic track -- the first GusGus track I ever hard. I'm pretty sure I have this video on a promo VHS cassette somewhere -- if you're old you may remember the weird foam VHS videos some bands would give out as promos. I hope I still have it!

Also posting this not-new but still very good remix of Massive Attack's 'Paradise Circus' by Gui Boratto. Who is he/she? No idea, but you may be familiar with this track from the TV... it's on ads for a car company who I won't name cos it'll make the track seem less cool:

Massive Attack - Paradise Circus feat. Hope Sandoval (Gui Boratto Remix) by lucidonline

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Icelandic Hi-Tech Soul

GusGus! Remember them? Polyesterday? A great track from yesteryear and then the band kind of -- went away. But not really, I just didn't hear about them. Turns out they've been signed to German dance music label Kompakt for a bit and are about to come out with a new album ('Arabian Horse'). I wouldn't really care except the track I've heard from the album is grrrreat! Smooth sexy vocal house, as good as their old stuff but with a better beat. I lowe it! Check it below.

GusGus - Over

I really really hope they come and do some live stuff now, cos if half their new stuff is as good as this track they will be amazing.

In other news, James Blake is going on tour again. I hope I get to the tickets before the scalpers this time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Alarming (sorry)

So someone has made an album entirely out of the sounds made by an alarm clock. Yes indeed. That someone is Jon Brooks who's made a bit of an ambient record based off sounds from a classic Braun alarm clock like the one below:

Weird but kind of cool. He basically sampled and then manipulated the sounds until he had a full range of notes, so it's not as amazing as it may at first seem, but still beyond what I could do. How he did it is quite interesting ; you can hear him talk about that below, and listen to the entire album here.

Jon Brooks - Music For Dieter Rams - An explanation of techniques. by cafekaput

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


When I was growing up Chad Valley was the name of a Woolworths toy brand. I had a cricket set from them which was quite good. But people made fun of it and called it Chav Valley. Now Chad Valley's the name of a musician who's putting out some rather smooth dance tunes, like the one below. Times change, eh?

Chad Valley - Equatorial Ultravox - 05 Fast Challenges

That's taken from this EP:

Haven't heard a lot of his other stuff yet, but will be checking more out; as should you.

A belated Goodbye to the Streets

Aah, yes, the Streets are no more. Other than a few remaining tour dates, Mike Skinner's musical project are all but done with. 'Computers & Blues' came and went, and it was a mixed affair, like most recent Streets albums. Having said that I think I prefer it to the last few albums; there are some thoughtful and melancholy tracks that are well put together, but perhaps it's the knowledge that that's it that is adding some poignancy for me. Still, I think Mike is one of the best at reproducing the garagey sound with the female vocals added for an extra touch of sweetness -- street music that's for more than dancing to. The last track on the album is 'Lock the Lock's and it's one of the standouts. Here's a video that uses various Streets video-art to make a video -- proving that not only is Mike a great musician, he's a pretty good visual artist too. There's talk of him doing video and soundtrack work in the future, I just hope I hear about it and get to check it out. Only one US tour date has been announced so far -- it's in New York, in August, which is also when my baby is due, so I don't think I'll be going to that...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

mix by martyn

Martyn has become one of my favourites. I've written about him before. I love his album Great Lengths.

Listen to this mix by him, it's pretty good and fun. He also responded to my tweet which I thought was hilarious.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

matthew herbert

Fahad is annoyed I haven't done in a real post in a while. Before I used to bug him now he's bugging me.

So going back to the vault again. I discovered Matthew Herbert through listening to Gilles Peterson Worldwide back in college, which is how I also discovered Ame. I definitely need to go back to listening to online radio and playlists again at some point soon; it's a great way to discover music.

A lot of the music I like is genre-less - you can't fit it into one category. Though I definitely post up a lot of house and dubstep, I also put up stuff that isn't easily defined and that's probably my favourite kind of music. Matthew Herbert falls into that category. I really don't know how to describe his sound. But check it out, what do you think?

Here are my favourite songs of his:

This is "Moving Like A Train" from his 2006 album Scale. This is also one of my fave music videos, its extremely creative.

Here's "Movers and Shakers" from the same album:

You can check out more of Herbert's music and all sorts of stuff on his site.


Friday, March 25, 2011

New solo Burial

Burial's got a new single out on Monday with three brand spanking new tracks on it: ‘Street Halo’, ‘NYC’ and ‘Stolen Dog’. Fact nicely provided the info and Soundcloud links to two of the tracks and I've been checking them out over the last two days. Neither are groundbreaking; they seem more like a continuation of the sound Burial developed over his first two albums. Definitely not a bad thing since I quite like that sound and there's something to be said for consistency. And even if they aren't radical departures they do show progression -- there's more depth to the tracks and 'Street Halo' in particular has a different mood than what I'm used to from Burial -- it's more aggressive and dancey. 'Stolen Dog' has more of "classic" Burial sound, with similar motifs (crackle, bass washes, bleeps, nonsensical lyrical snatches drenched in reverb) from his past work. Both tracks have a nice groove and good use of female vocals. Check 'em out for yourself:

Burial - Stolen Dog

Burial - Street Halo

You can check out a clip of the third track and order the 12 inch here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

couple of house tunes

I was gonna write about how I had to pass loads of annoying people wearing green today but then deleted what I wrote as I really don't wanna recall those unfortunate sights of sad white people acting like they're still in college.

Anyway here are some tunes I've been listening to, I know its been a long time since I posted anything. Enjoy.

burial + four tet + thom yorke

A triple collab on a two song 12 inch which is already sold out at The tracks are up on youstube (see below) and I've only listened to each a couple of times so can't comment too forcefully. Overall nice and I'd be lying if I said I don't mind not nabbing that 12 inch. The Burial touch is clear in the beats and synth bass washes; Thom Yorke is easy enough to identify; and I think I hear Four Tet on the first track, "Ego", not sure where he comes in on the second, "Mirror", though. Not even sure how the tracks would be split between the two producers to be honest. Maybe they did one each? "Mirror" definitely has that melancholy Burial sound; "Ego" has a lot more going on, but retains that Burial space and mood between verses. I think I prefer soul-girl singing to Thom Yorke on dance tracks though.



Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fresh outta Platform, it's Jamie XX and Yasmin with a live cover of Rui Da Silva's 'Touch Me'. What's that sound you hear? Steel drums mate.

A boring post about other blogs (and an article about XL recordings)

Just wanted to highlight some decent blogs I've been looking at recently. First up is Class of 808, a superb throwback blog about the old sounds of Acid House and early Techno when it first took over the UK back in the late 80's. It's very frequently updated and posts up lots of great mixes -- I thought the sounds might seem cheesy 20-odd years on but they actually sound pretty great. It feels a bit sad to be nostalgic about music that's supposed to sound like the future but it happens to every scene eventually.

The other blog I've recently added to my "must check" list is Platform. Also out of the UK, the postings are Vice-style musings on various things but mostly music and pop culture related. I've not looked into the background of the site as I can't be arsed, but I've been getting a lot of links to new tracks and remixes through them (such as the Adele x Jamie XX one from not too long ago). Worth a look-in, I think.

Lastly, the Guardian had a good article recently about XL Recordings and how they're doing pretty well while the rest of the music industry is tanking. To me, XL is still rave music from the early 90's, but moved on pretty far from there. It's a good read, you can check it out here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adele x Jamie XX

Not sure about Jamie from the XX's Jamie XX moniker, I have to say. He's been remixing again; came across this at Platform last week. Wasn't too thrilled at first, but it grew on me after a couple of listens. I like the South American/Caribbean vibes and prefer it to his Gil Scot-Heron remix from last year. Haven't heard much Adele in my life, did look her up but wasn't too interested in what I found. This remix is good though:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Couple of artists I've wanted to cover for a bit and am finally getting round to here, plus one old tune that can be put under the crooner category (not really, but i'm gonna do it anyway). Ok, so, both James Blake and Jamie Woon have been getting tipped for big things in 2011. I've had them on my new-headphone enhanced mp3 player and do think their tunes are worth mentioning. Couldn't pick which version I liked so I'm going to put a selection up. First up is James Blake, who's getting the most buzz. This track is 'Limit to Your Love' and it's actually got a decent video. On initial listen I wasn't sure if he (skinny little white bloke) could be singing this song, but the vid seems to indicate that he is, which is pretty astonishing before you even get to the deep bass and use of space in the track. Check it (best heard with decent sound so you can actually hear the deep bass when things get shuddery -- it's there):

I'm going to put two version of a Jamie Woon track up. The track is recent single 'Night Air' and I'm putting up a live version and a remix. I think the live version is quite good as the song seems to hold up well in a basement club setting while actually sung live. The remix is by Deadboy; I like it on my headphones but it doesn't sound as good to me on the PC -- maybe you'll feel differently:

Last is an oldish Pulp track that popped up recently when I listening to something else by them. Had forgotten how well put together the track and lyrics are, and the high-production-value video seems a bit of a throwback when seen now -- can't imagine many bands having much of a budget for videos nowadays, and it's funny to think that Pulp were themselves big enough for a video like this. But this is post-'Different Class', when they were briefly massive and could probably do whatever they wanted -- including disintegrate:


Discodeine feat. Jarvis Cocker - Synchronize from Pschent on Vimeo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

two plus two

DP + TRON = 2 + 2

everyone said film is rubbish, but soundtrack is amazing. of course it is.