Friday, December 27, 2013

I heard it on the Radio

Good old radio, a great source for new music that doesn't involve (too much) typing or reading.  Going to keep this simple, just some embedded new songs that I'm rather taken with.  Do your own typing for more info, if interested.  Incidentally, I just noticed that both the videos I'm going to stick in this post have been posted by the same person!  Coincidence!



I'm also going to put up a video of Boy George's other performance on Later -- he played one of his old hits:

Monday, December 23, 2013


Boy George was on Later last week and it got me thinking about pop stars of the past and how things may seem to them now, how the landscape has changed.  In the 80's it seemed like George was all over the news with all kinds of scandals -- drugs, death, sex, being openly gay, it was all one big controversy being Boy George, or so it seems in my recollection (I was only a kid back then).  I do remember some heroin scandals and I'm pretty sure someone died in his house.  All that plus the normal decline of fame that seems to come with the aging of any pop star; how did he handle it?  And how does it seem now, when the only controversies seems to come from what a pop star wears?  Things have certainly changed now, or they seem different to me anyway.  Probably a lot of that has to do with how the media are now -- there are so many more channels of information that it's rare the entire populace to unite around any one bit of news.  I also think, as a culture, we're far more forgiving.  I think the thing that would most irk me if I were George is how the issue of being famous and gay has changed -- irk me in the sense that things were so much worse for him; probably George Michael feels the same way, or worse, since he was a much bigger star, worldwide, than George is.  It's funny seeing these people age.  George (,Boy) is looking good though, I have to say, especially for 50 and especially given his past habits!  And I'm liking the new songs I've heard -- I'll put them in below so you can hear them until or unless they get taken down.  And, while I'm at it, it's also amusing to me that he plays a reggae-tinged number on the show and on his new album.  I love ska and reggae but you can always tell that a musician is from the UK, and probably from a certain era, when they're doing anything Jamaica-related -- that tiny island has had an outsize influence on UK pop music, and a good one, I'd say.  There should be, and may be, a book written about US vs UK pop music, and culture and that book should have a large section devoted to the black influence on each country's pop music and how the approaches have compared and differed.  It would make for some very interesting reading.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Shadowboxers

The internet and twitter wormhole led me to JT's twitter page and he tweeted about this video, appreciating the band's cover of his song "Pusher Love Girl". I was also blown away even though I've never heard the song before. This cover is damn good. And then I listened to JT's original, and sorry JT but these guys did a better version (as if JT would ever, ever, ever read this).

Anyway when listening I was impressed by how much the lead singer sounded like Justin. Have a listen:

And then I found another cover the band did, this time, its TLC's "Creep". And that same singer pulls off sounding like the original singer, this time T-Boz, to very amusing effect. So I guess he can pull off sounding like different vocalists. Anyway, this cover is also great, and hilarious:

I listened to one of their original songs and they reminded me of a nicer, less disturbing Maroon 5. I'm not a Maroon 5 fan, at all, but I do like the covers these Shadowboxers here did. Maybe I'll listen to more of their stuff.

If you like the band/fancy the band, they're from Atlanta, here's their site.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Time for a long overdue post.  Sorry about the lack of words, but I've been hearing things here and there that I've enjoyed in one way or another and I thought the least I can do is compile them all on our dear old blog.  So that's what I'll do!

On Radio 6 this morning I heard this and found it rather pleasant:

I wasn't a Pavement fan when they were around but I was lucky enough to see them for free at the Virgin Freefest a couple of years go and liked them.  I like this too, it's got a nice warm indie sound to it.  And so does the video, particularly the end of it.

I also heard this on the radio today and it seemed very familiar, particularly the instrumental breakdown.  Not sure where I've heard it before, I feel like it's been sampled.  And if you're sick of Christmas music, my apologies, but this isn't really what you'll hear playing at the mall now is it?

Sorry about the video but, you know, just don't watch it -- most of the time music is better without visuals anyway.

And now, aah yes, Arctic Monkeys, I'm into them right now.  I just saw them play three songs on Jools Holland and they were all good!  Plus the band have a good vibe about them, particularly Alex Turner, the man has some snake hips nowadays.  They're full of confidence, which makes for good performances.  I'd like to see them live but for some reason they're skipping DC and playing Richmond, VA only -- my guess is cos they must have hit this place up when they toured with the Black Keys.  Turn this up (no really, the sound isn't very good in this video) and do watch the video:

Burial's got a new EP coming out, you can hear it all online:
I'll have to give the tracks a few more listens but... I don't know if they're for me.  I remember when I first heard of Burial in 2007 (that was thanks to the Boston Phoenix, where I also heard of Ellen Allien and Dixon, thanks to their CD reviews; Dixon's Body Language mix is well worth a listen, and I went on to see Ellen Allien in NYC).  At that time it was still really hard to look up and hear his music -- I think it was months before his first CD showed up for sale online at a reasonable price.  Now his new EP is news for basically every music site and blog on the web, including the AV Club!  Bit of a change.  It's nice that good music is easily accessible and artists like Burial are getting more attention but at the same time there was definitely a certain pleasure that came from feeling "in the know", when there was still a music underground.

You  may recall that I saw Four Tet live a little while back and thought he was brilliant.  Well, he's put a live set up on soundcloud now so you can decide for yourself.  Check it!

I'll end with this.  I actually came across it thanks to comments on the Burial tracks left at Fact.  There's nothing I can say about it.  Just watch it:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Morrissey Writes! (about himself)

He's back in the news, number 1 in the charts, but not in the singles or albums charts that he's accustomed to; Stephen Patrick Morrissey is number 1 in the book charts in Europe with the fastest selling musical memoir ever.  Unfortunately the book's not out in America yet (but will be coming out on December 3rd) but somehow my brother managed to get me a copy for my birthday which I have just finished reading.  Here's my succinct review:

First off, it's written in quite an odd manner (no chapters), especially the first 150 pages or so (457 pages total).  Morrissey writes in a lyrical, almost poetic way at times which can be hard to grasp but is enjoyable nevertheless.  However, for someone like me, things get more tasty as his career takes off and he starts writing in a more normal way about his time with the Smiths and his solo career.  There's also a lot of stuff in there about his influences (particularly the New York Dolls) and the horrible time he had at school.

The Smiths section is distressingly short but that makes sense when you consider how long their recording career was (1982-1987), especially when compared to Morrissey's much longer solo career (25 years and counting).  There's a large section on the Smiths' court case in which the Smiths' drummer, Mike Joyce, successfully sued Morrissey and Marr for 25% of the Smiths' recording royalties in 1997.  After that Morrissey writes at length about his post-Smiths career and his contentment with his solo records and tours.  By all accounts it's a satisfying read and one that I highly recommend to fans of the Smiths and Morrissey.

Side Note: NME names "The Queen is Dead" as the greatest album of all time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

the Power

I still get amazed sometimes when I hear something cool that I've not heard before and it's all thanks to the whims of a radio DJ.  I don't know if online streaming services can be as eclectic as an actual DJ can be, since they supposedly cater to what they know of your tastes.  Hard to say really, but I came across some music on Radio 6 the other day that I'm pretty sure I'd never have heard otherwise.  It's a collaboration from 2003, so not even new, I just never knew about it.  The collaboration is between Terry Hall & Mustaq.  You may be thinking "who?".  Well, Terry Hall is a founder member of the Specials, a classic UK ska act.  I've liked Hall for a long time and I'm not sure if it started with the Specials cassette I bought or when I heard a song of his as a solo singer.  Mushtaq I'd never heard of but it turns out he's a member of Fun-Da-Mental.  Now, I could probably write a whole other post on Fun-Da-Mental, but I won't, I'll just keep it short, but looking into them for this post again also displays the power of radio to remind us of things we'd forgotten, and how it exposes us to massive amounts of random music.  Fun-Da-Mental are a multi-ethnic UK group who are anti-racist and quite pro-Islam.  They were using and singing about these topics back in the 90's, way before 9-11, when wearing  your Muslimness on your sleeve wasn't even a thing!  They basically started with a combination of Asian sounds and hip-hop, and their Asian/Muslim identity was pretty mind-blowing to me when I first came across them as a teenager in Wales (though not mind-blowing enough to get me to hear anything else by them for nearly twenty years).  Very interesting group, definitely worth a further read upon.  Anyway, back to the main topic; Terry Hall & Mushtaq put together an album called 'The Hour of Two Lights' which is a great blend of Hall's singing with Arabic instrumentation -- you can hear it all here.  It reminds me of a bit of some Gorillaz stuff, and it turns out that Damon Albarn had some involvement and put it out on his Honest Jon's label -- hmm.  The song I heard, and that  piqued by interest, is below:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

something something ketchup

It's been a pretty long break since proper postings so here I am.  Not that the interim has been spent in an audio-less vacuum, not at all, just didn't feel like blogging for whatever reason, but there are many sounds and links that have accumulated during my time away.  I will attempt to summarise forthwith; please don't get annoyed at the length of the post, it's all good stuff.

First up, Daniel Avery, an electronic musician who's probably very well known, but not by me, not until now anyway.  I heard of him through this Guardian video and then looked him up and was pleased I did.  His sounds are excellent and I'm planning on picking up the album and the Fabric mix in one form or another.  You can hear loads of things on his Soundcloud page, including this:

Next, some video links, and I don't mean music videos.  I don't have the time or patience to really use Youtube to it's full potential, but there are definitely some gems on that site, including a couple of great documentaries I've come across recently.  One is all about Bjork, and I think it was originally on the BBC.  You can watch it here.  The other documentary is about dance music, a kind of general overview, and it's narrated by Idris Elba with his full-on, I'm-actually-from-London-mate geezer accent.  Here you go.  

Washington's version of City Paper had a good write-up recently on the 20th anniversary of a local music venue, the Black Cat.  I've been to the venue a fair amount of times (to see Mum, Ash, Bonobo, and M83 to name a few), and while it's not one of my favourites, it's definitely not the worst venue in DC (that honour is reserved for the Rock n Roll Hotel, which is the worst venue I've been to around here anyway), and they do have a great booking policy -- in fact, I'm going there tonight to see Mount Kimbie.  I found the write-up quite interesting, maybe you will too -- check it out here.  

Lastly, I really like this Arctic Monkeys track, it's got a great groove to it:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Only the Lonely

My sister just sent me a forward from Ben Watt's email list that linked back to his website and I came across an interesting little post he's got up.  It's him talking to a sound engineer about Vinyl vs CD's and the whole debate about which sound better, etc etc.  In the end it's a relatively minor concern but still makes for interesting reading if you're into that type of thing.  You can check it out here.  I would say I don't really have a real preference -- vinyl seems a bit cooler, and I like the size of it, but it's also more expensive.  I usually end up going for whatever option seems economically reasonable, but there are some purchases where the vinyl stands out a bit more to me -- the Smiths boxset, for instance, is something that, to me, just seems cooler to have on vinyl.  Or cassette.  Something about the object that is a CD just doesn't appeal.  Plus my main hi-fi doesn't have a CD player on it.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Most people wouldn't guess that I'm a fervent fan of (good) pop music.  Many think I'm just some sort hipster obscurist, but it's not true I tell  you!  I like a good pop tune as much as anyone, but perhaps my definition of good is a bit stricter?  Today, there are a couple of tracks I'd like to write about that I consider to be very poppy, but I'm going to start with a classic from the 80's.  In many ways, the 80's seem like the golden age of pop to me, but I think that's mostly cos the 80's is when I was a little kid.  It was a good time for synth-driven music though, and a lot the poppy music I like now also has a synth-fuelled sound.  Here's some Howard Jones:

Last night I went to see a far newer pop act, AlunaGeorge.  I was in two minds about going to the show, mostly cos I didn't have anyone to go with, it was on a work night, and the band weren't due on til 11.15pm.  I also wasn't sure how AlunaGeorge's pop sound would transfer to a live setting -- I was pretty wary of just watching someone press play on a computer and then have some singing over the top.  I ended up going though, and I'm glad I did, as it was a very good gig.  It was at U Street Music Hall, which has been a consistently great venue in my experience -- good sound, good acts, and a great crowd who are more than happy to get into things and dance.  There's always a good energy there and the acts really seem to feed off of it; last night was no different.  AlunaGeorge are Aluna Francis, singer, and George Reid, producer, but for their live act they also brought along a drummer and bass player.  I love electronic music, but I do think when you go to see someone live it's nice to have some more traditional musicianship on the stage too, and not just a lot (or even worse, a little) electronic equipment.  This way you know that some of what you're hearing is truly live, and you're getting a unique experience, different from what you'd hear just by listening to recorded music.  Of course, there are solo electronic acts who do a great job of transferring what they do onto stage, even while being all by themselves (Shigeto and Four Tet come to mind), but there also those whose "live" sound is so perfect that it's like karaoke (cough cough, Disclosure and Simian Mobile Disco).  Sorry, but a nice light show doesn't make up for that.  Back to the sold-out show -- again, it was a pretty great gig and I'm going to finally say that I'm impressed by DC crowds.  The kinds of electronic shows I like seem to consistently sell out here and at venues like U Street I can't say that the crowd is just full of in-the-know posers who want to be seen at the right place.  Last night's crowd, similar to the one at Bonobo a few months ago, was really into AlunaGeorge's music, so much so that the cliched act of holding the mic out to the crowd really worked well!  People knew the songs, the lyrics, and they really got down in a nice happy way.  Here's the track they ended the show with -- a show that didn't flag by the way, helped by the fact that is was only 45 minutes long, but that length actually felt perfect -- long enough to have a good time, short enough to not get tired or bored.

My last pop-post is by the very non-Icelandic-sounding but apparently Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini.  Heard her on the radio, this track specifically, and liked what I heard.  A slightly different sound that is still very pop, I think.  I hope she comes to DC.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Close Call in The Suburbs

There are lots of popular bands that I've heard a lot about but never made the effort to listen to. One of them is Arcade Fire (who I keep confusing with Arctic Monkeys - shows you how much I don't make an effort to follow this stuff - if you're a fan of either of these bands I'm sure you're laughing at me, go ahead.) Earlier today I listened to the first Arcade Fire song I've ever heard, while ironing. It's their song "The Suburbs" which comes with a very interesting video, which I haven't been able to figure out yet:

I listened to some of the album via Grooveshark (a great site to stream music) and might pick it up someday, I put it on my list.

Another band I've heard a lot about over the years but never paid attention to is Rilo Kiley. I did see them play actually; back when I liked Coldplay, I went to a Coldplay concert many years ago and Rilo were the opening act. I wasn't impressed unfortunately. But things change. A few months ago my coworker was listening to some tunes and I asked what he was listening to. I was surprised he said it was Rilo Kiley, here's a track off the album he was playing:

This album Under the Blacklight is very country-ish (at least to me). I've listened to the album (again, via Grooveshark) a bunch of times now and quite like it and find the country tracks very charming, so this album is also on my list of CDs to get! That's right, CDs! I don't care what year it is.

Have a lot more indie stuff to post about soon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to

I sometimes get turned off by electronic music when it hits me that the tune I'm listening to could've been banged out in five minutes on a laptop.  There's good and bad electronic music, and it's not always possible to tell what's throwaway and what an artist really put a lot of effort into.  With the massive proliferation of digital tracks I'm sure that some of what we hear online was put together really quickly from some bog-standard samples.  I came across a couple of videos that, in their own way, attest to this.  One is obviously facetious, the other is more telling though.  The latter is of an artist called Huxley who's been challenged by Factmag to put a tune together in ten minutes or less, and he basically manages it.  He's definitely got skill and talent, and I'm by no means arguing that anyone could do what he does.  But there is also, I think, a meaningful difference between being able to put a house track together in a few minutes and really putting together something unique and musical that's worth going out and obtaining.  And not just obtaining, but that's worth spending your time on, and that doesn't have that cheap almost plasticky feel to it. I can't really define what that feeling is, but I think I hear it sometimes and it's definitely a turn-off.

Here's a real Deadboy track and, to me, it sounds like something that a lot of time, thought, and effort has been put into.  I hope I'm right:

Sidenote:  Noticing that a lot of "comedy" videos on youstube are basically repeating the same old traits, including the Deadboy video that starts this post.  It's getting old!  

Monday, August 19, 2013

the Wales, part 5, and more.

After a gap, some more Welsh stuff.  Gulp are musicians from a few different bands, but they stood out to me mostly because the drummer is from the defunct group Race Horses.  There's also a member of the Super Furry Animals involved, which reminded me of this guy, who I posted about back here.  I went to his record label's SoundCloud after remembering him (practically his whole album is up there) but decided I wasn't too impressed.  It's not that I don't like his music, it's just that it sounds just like 'Mother' era John Lennon, and I can never get behind anything that's too obviously indebted to an influence.

Anyway, back to Gulp.  They've got a single out called 'Play' and I rather like it:

On the Welsh tip, I came across this clip today from the film 'Human Traffic', which was about clubbing in Cardiff (something I got to do... almost... once).  Watching this got me nostalgic about record shop culture, and dance music record shops in particular.  A time, not too long ago, where all that was available was what your local shop carried, and you had to think hard before dropping some real money on a real object. Having the right tunes actually mattered!

Ok, heard this on the radio and thought it was pretty smooth.  It's from the forthcoming Elvis Costello and the Roots collaboration, and basically sounds like what I'd want that collaboration to sound like!  Although on second listen it's reminding me a bit of trip-hop...

On a side-note, why do so many promo pics of men involve them adjusting their ties or suit buttons or cuff-links??  It's bloody annoying, and this whole dressing-up thing is getting really old.  I've already made a partial return to jeans and t-shirts; I predict a more relaxed style of dress making a comeback very soon.

Last up, someone I'd never heard of til last week, Frank Turner.  Apparently quite big in the UK, and also apparently has some right-wing/libertarian views, but this isn't a political blog.  I heard this song on the radio and the motif of it stood out to me as something I'm very wary of too -- essentially time going by really quickly, speeding up, and years just passing by whereas days and weeks used to feel like forever before.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Black Holes and Revolutions

Heard a few good tracks on 6 Music at work today so I thought I'd share.  Being less strict about music this Ramadan, though my listening is basically limited to work or the few times when I'm alone, so a lot less listening going on than normal.

First off, a track by a new quintet from Liverpool called Outfit.  I quite like it, even though it reminds me of Hot Chip a bit:

Next a track I know nothing at all about.  It's got that afrobeat sound that was big a few years ago.  Funny how certain styles become fashionable and then go out of fashion again just as quickly?

Last track is an old one by Muse which I hadn't heard in ages.  I like it's relative simplicity, especially when compared to Muse's more current output:

I'll end up with some links which you can check out if you're fast!  They're album previews that won't be up long:
NPR's got Moderat's latest and it's well worth a listen.
And AlunaGeorge are streaming their debut album on their website at the moment.
That last due are also coming to DC in September.  Quite a lot of good shows coming up actually -- off the top of my head there's Toro Y Moi touring with Classixx, Mount Kimbie, Bonobo and Gold Panda both coming back, and at least a couple more gigs I'm forgetting.  Roll on autumn!  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jewels on Jools

It's been pretty quiet around here as of late, what with Ramadan and all, but I did watch Jools Holland's programme the other day (gasp!) and there were a couple of standout tracks on it, as well as an entire performance by the Manics!  Not putting any Manics up though.  Instead these...

First off, a track by Mark Ronson and his band with some guests, one of whom is Boy George.  Boy looks quite strange but I like his voice on this.  Not sure if he's doing more work that I'm not hearing about but he still has a voice that's worth hearing, I think, though he does seem to run out of puff a bit here and there:

Incidentally, the other track that Ronson and his band performed was a bit crap so I forwarded it -- something I also did with my second selection, by Klaxons.  Quite liked this though; singer's a bit strange looking isn't he?  But who am I to judge:

One more post to finish things, unrelated to the two above.  Tim Westwood, Radio 1's longtime rap and hip-hop DJ, is being pulled off the air.  He's a bit of a character but even I heard some good tunes on his show back in the day, only to return to the States and find out the tracks were quite underground.  Came across this video when reading about him some more -- it's a UK hip-hop documentary from 1987 that Westwood put together.  Probably worth checking out if you like that sort of thing:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

the News

Yes I know, I've used that title before, but it's OK because the News in constantly being... renewed.

I noticed recently that CD's have become really cheap to buy.  I went by Best Buy and almost everything new was $10 or under!  Depending on your age you may find this similarly shocking and pleasing -- I remember when the average CD was $16 and nothing new was $10 or less, ever, so the hunt would be on for promo copies of new albums in the used section.  But now CD's are cheap, and seem even cheaper thanks to inflation and the fact that I have a real job - hooray!  So I bought quite a few recently -- the new Daft Punk, like everyone else; AMOK by Atoms for Peace after hearing good things from musically-minded acquaintances; the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with the Garbage Pail Kids-like cover, after hearing them on Jools Holland and loving the performance; the new Tricky thanks to good reviews and the stream I heard on NPR; and, finally, the new Suede thanks to a combo of the above reasons (Jools peformance, Guardian stream, acquaintance opinions) + a love of the band from my youth.  I'm pretty happy, I have to say.  I still prefer listening to a CD, tape, or vinyl over an MP3.  Mostly cos I think that when I've properly bought the music I value it a bit more; also cos using these physical methods for listening doesn't involve sitting at a computer or using a computer in any way; and lastly because I've made a decision to listen to music that I get properly, repeatedly, instead of just getting it and barely paying it any attention -- involving money helps in that process.

Anyway, I'm gonna stick a few vids below of things I've heard (and by the way, I know most of this is actually not new music at all, but it is new to me) and liked from these CD's, as well as a video by Cornershop.  I went on a road-trip to New York recently and for that I actually bought this podcast -- part of a documentary series for BBC Radio 2 by Stuart Maconie that goes through the UK's history as told via pop music.  This particular episode was about the Asian experience in Britain and Cornershop were featured quite prominently, which led me to reacquaint myself with them; plus the wife liked Brimful of Asha.  I like this song, the video, and the fact that the actor from My Beautiful Laundrette is in it.  Good beat too:

I thought the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Jools were great.  I never really paid any attention to them but I was in the mood for this type of rock I suppose:

I read some Tricky interviews recently and in one he mentioned how success doesn't necessarily change anything -- he still has the same issues, concerns, sadnesses, that he always did:

Lastly, I thought Suede did a great job playing live on Jools Holland.  Feraz reckons that Brett Anderson's voice doesn't have it any more, but I can't say I agree.  Sadly I can't find a video of it online, so here's a different performance which isn't quite as good:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

RBMA Video: 12 Years of DFA

RBMA has been in town in NYC this month. Unfortunately I've been too busy with life to go to their events (and I'm also a wallflower so I avoid dance parties) and the one thing I was thinking of going to with Lee Scratch Perry is now sold out. Oh well! Life moves on.

I did come across this nifty RBMA video which is about DFA Records in NYC. When the Rapture came out with "House of Jealous Lovers" about 10 years ago I did buy the album coz I thought I'd like it. I didn't unfortunately and its one of those CDs that's gotten quite dusty over the years. So I'm not really a DFA fan, but some of the tunes in the video sound quite nifty so maybe I'll check out some of the artists who are mentioned. Anyway this is a great little film that's very well-made, and is quite funny as well. I think what really makes this film work is the hilarious editing. Enjoy.
Film and music! My two favourite things!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Alt Jai

Just heard about this fella today, I think.  Actually, let me put it this way -- I don't recall having heard of him before.  I'm talking about Jai Paul, a young producer out of West London (see pic above for exact location) who became prominent about two years ago.  I heard a track by him today in a mix by Four Tet and looked him up.  There's not much official by him out, but the few things I've heard have been pretty intriguing.  He's signed to XL now and hasn't really done much, but hopefully something'll come out soon (look around and you can find copies of leaked tracks online).

Here's the track that got him noticed, including being sampled by Drake:

And here's the track that put me onto him, as heard in the Four Tet mix:

Really like the vibe of his music, I have to say, I hope future things are as good as these two tracks are.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Classixx nipper album stream

Peeps, if any of you were digging that Classix track you can hear a stream of their whole album at NPR.  I've been listening to it this morning and am finding it rather enjoyable.  Def worth a listen if you like sunshiney dance music.  

Friday, May 3, 2013

Summer Jamz

A nice coincidence this morning -- for the last few days I'd been thinking about doing a post on music suitable for the nice weather we're having around here (70 degrees F, no clouds, sun-dappled streets, the smell of cut grass, and the sound of birds chirping and kids playing -- I like!), then the Guardian went and did a potential summer tunes round-up.  To be honest, I wasn't that impressed by most of the tracks, but there were two I'm going to highlight in a bit.  Also came across another Guardian article that led me to this next track, which is very very good and has a great video to boot.  Never heard of this song until today and it gets me wondering about all the good music I'm not hearing, despite my efforts!  This is possibly too "pop" for a lot of the sites I frequent, but it's great!  The article, by the way, is about youngsters making dance music.  I don't really care about age as long as the tunes are good.  Here's Duke Dumont, and a great video that celebrates the simple act of dancing like a loon:

Here's one of the tracks that really stood out to me from the Guardian's summer tunes round-up.  Again, never heard of anyone involved, but that sometimes come with summer music territory.  Got a bit of an 80's thing going on I think:

Jessie Ware's an artist I came across a few months ago and have been listening to quite a lot of.  First saw her on Jools but immediately dismissed her as just another English soul wannabe -- there's a lot of them that show up on Jools, and then you never hear about them again. I was wrong about her though, her album Devotion ended up on a lot of best-of-2012 lists and I ended up checking it out right after she played a cheap, not sold-out, show in DC.  Bah!  I liked the album after hearing it a few times -- to me, it's a continuation in the line of British dance-soul that goes back to Massive Attack and Soul II Soul, though it's more on the soul than the dance side; the sound is very contemporary without being gimmicky.  The track I'm going to put up though, is slightly different, in that it's more of a dance track -- not totally surprising as Ware started out doing vocals for dance acts.  Also, this video got lots of dancing in it too!

She's still worth checking out even if that track isn't totally to your taste -- I don't believe it really gives a good idea of the music found on her album.

Now, for me, nice weather and reggae just go hand in hand.  I heard this track on 6 music the other day and knew I'd have to find out more about the artist and stick it up on this blog.  It's by Roland Alphonso, who turns out to have been a founding member of the Skatalites, a classic Jamaican act from the first ska era.

I'll be keeping my eyes open for a Roland Alphonso compilation of some sort now, as music like that and driving around in a car in nice weather go together like ... cheese and cucumbers.  Well, that reggae vibe got me thinking about reggae legend, Horace Andy.  Here's one of my favourite songs, Skylarking:

Well, this is already a mad long post, so feel free to stop now.  If you'd like to go on cos you're just chilling with some juice on your balcony, I'm going to link to a few more good summery tracks.  If you're too busy for it then carry on wit ya.

Lumidee - Never Leave You
I still really like this from a while back.  It was hard to hear overtly dancey stuff here back then.

Jessie Ware - Wildest Moments
Good track off the album, like the spare production.

Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Yes, it's all over the place but it's still great!  I hope the album lives up to the hype.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

new season, new tunes

Every now and then someone asks me what I've been listening to. I'm not sure how to answer. For the last couple years I've been listening to a lot of mixes found online. So I guess I could answer by saying "mixes" but that doesn't as exciting as "oh this great new band blah blah". But hey these mixes ARE good. And its one of the best new ways to find new artists and tunes.

A few months ago Fahad wrote a bit about Disclosure. They're a dance act from the UK of two brothers. Somewhere in the last few months they got quite big in the dance scene and are now crossing over (perhaps?). Let's see if they reach Daft Punk crossover-levels. Anyway, I've been listening to their XLR8R mix since it went up in December. It has joined my list of favourite mixes that I listen to on repeat. It is very, very good.

And here are some of tunes I wanna highlight from that mix:
This is a really lovely, smooth tune. It has a nice laidback, warm summery feel to it. Let's put in the always great 'unclassifiable' section. This is Leon Vynehall - "Untitled017":

I love the bassline in this one. This is
Native Soul feat. Trey Washington - "A New Day (Spencer Parker's a Gun for Hire Remix)", a nice tune that pays homage to Jamaican influences in dance music. Apparently the original track came out in 1998?

This one is Jhelisa - "Friendly Pressure (From Midnight Mix)". Some nice garage sounds here, and it also makes me think of nice warm sunny days, like the Leon Vynehall track (maybe that's because I'm looking out on a sunny day). Anyway here it is:


I could keep highlighting tunes from their mix, but I'm gonna end with this stomper. Get up and dance! Yes go on. At least tap your foot. Here's a remix of Disclosure's "Latch" by Zed Bias. Zed Bias is a helluva cool name by the way.

Friday, April 26, 2013

RA Real Scenes - New York

A few months ago I watched and reviewed a short documentary by Resident Advisor that was about the Detroit music scene, part of their 'Real Scenes' series.

Earlier today RA released another short documentary that focuses on the music of a city, and this one's about NYC. I thought this latest effort by them was quite revealing in many ways. First, what I liked most was the beginning where subjects are talking about how hard it is to make it in New York; how hard it is to get by and make ends meet while still trying to find time to be creative and make things. I can relate to this 1000%, as that's my life. I've been in NY for nearly 4.5 years now and I'm still struggling just to survive here, while also trying somehow to be creative and make films and things. Being a creative person and trying to make films/music/art is hard enough, add on top of that struggles to pay rent and bills and spending most of your hours at a job instead of on what you really want to do, makes it all immensely more difficult. This RA video is one of the few things I've seen where people really discuss these things in-depth.

Another aspect I liked about the video is that it discusses gentrification a bit. I'm not a clubber and party-goer (for all sorts of reasons) but I've been to some clubs and parties out in Williamsburg, which is kind of where the latest club scene has been for the last few years. The film talks about how lots of places got shut down in Manhattan due to extremely expensive and ever-increasing rents. An article I happened to also come across today (which for some reason is in the NY Post), talks about this, in which I learned venues like the Bowery Poetry Club are now shut down. I've been there a couple times, and I just think, what's gonna replace these places, and where are people going to go now? At the end of the RA film the subjects are optimistic about cycles of change and how there's always new things. However, Dope Jams shut down at the end of January, and I of course had just learned about it a couple weeks beforehand but wasn't able to get to it before its doors closed. I was so excited to learn about a record shop selling loads of house but now its gone, and as these spaces disappear, its a huge loss to the city and to communities. But I guess the folks in the RA video are right, there is always something new around the corner.

One thing that did bug me about RA Real Scenes: New York is that almost all the subjects were white males, save for a couple of brown men. I think we all know that NYC and the house scene is certainly more diverse than that. I guess this oversight by the filmmakers however is also reflective perhaps of how the scene is seen.

Well, here's the video, and the original link.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I was in Michigan this past weekend and stopped by one of my favourite haunts from the old days, Dearborn Music.  It's one of the few independent record stores left in the area and even then it's about a 20 minute drive from my parents' house.  Went a bit nuts after having ample time to look around and bought way too much stuff, some of which is bound to be disappointing when I finally get around to listening to it (already put 'Jazzmatazz Vol. 1' and Motor City Drum Ensemble's DJ Kicks mix on my imaginary For Sale list).  If I remember to I'll update the blog when I listen to some of these new buys, starting now.

First record I listened to after my spree is the debut EP by TNGHT -- a duo I put on the blog not too long ago.  The EP was available and pretty cheap so I got it and it's pretty good.  Bugg'n is still a standout, as is the following track, which will sound crap unless you have good speakers or headphones:

I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago that I never got around to reviewing.  It was Bonobo with support from Shigeto at the Black Cat, and it was a great show.  I like live electronic music, especially when it's not just someone hitting play on a laptop.  A previous high had been seeing Four Tet live at U street music hall, and this show was almost as good.  The Black Cat is a decent venue in my opinion, even though it's pretty basic.  The nice thing is that the shows are cheap, and while this one was sold out I managed to buy tickets for slightly under face value just by showing up on the night and waiting for people who had spares.  That despite the fact that fools were trying to sell tix for $100 on Craigslist!  I'm still confused as to how Bonobo got so popular but apparently his last album, Black Sands, did very well in the States, so there you go.

Shigeto started up in a very discreet way -- I wasn't the only one to wonder when he'd come on stage and started playing as he just seemed to appear out of the haze, looking as if he'd been there the whole time, playing, while we thought we were just listening to pre-show music.  He's out of Ann Arbor, MI, and he's on the Ghostly label, and I like him already.  At first it seemed like he might just play from a laptop but he had more equipment up there and really got into what he was doing; after a couple of tracks he jumped onto a drum-set and accompanied the machines himself:

Bonobo were excellent.  They came with a full live band, played a lengthy set, and the crowd was really into it to boot.  Things slowed down a bit in the middle of the set but soon picked up again.  The show overall just had a really fun, energetic vibe to it, and I also felt quite cool being there -- like I was in a really good soulful loungey venue and not just at the Black Cat!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Every Tuesday Morning Comes...

Until it doesn't.

Was listening to 6 Music a little earlier while cleaning some teeth and heard a nice interview with an artist who goes by the name Bibio.  The interview itself was pretty interesting and was a good reminder of why I listen to 6 Music on the web and not some local DC station.  On 6 Music I get to hear new and different artists and when they're interviewed I get to learn more about them, their music, and the process and thoughts that go into making it.  You can't get that on normal DC commercial radio, or probably most radio in the US.  The closest widely-available avenue that compares is probably NPR, but of course that is not a station that's dedicated solely to music.

Anyway, Bibio mentioned being a one-man-band of sorts -- he plays all his own instruments, recording and layering them to come up with tracks.  He uses a lot of analogue equipment and instruments as well as a drum-machine, which I think gives his music a nice organic-electronic feel.  I came across this track while reading about him and really like it -- it's got a very pleasant guitar riff:

During the interview Bibio chose a song he'd like to hear on the radio, and it was this, which features a great organ loop:

Beach House are from Baltimore and get me thinking about my lack of engagement with local music scenes.  Beach House are big now, their shows get sold out in DC easily, but when I lived in Baltimore they were around and easy to see.  I never seem to check out bands without hearing about them in some way -- there seems to be some additional attraction to seeing a band that's been hyped up a bit.  My loss really.

Last up, these are Darkstar.  They were supposed to come here to play live and I was quite looking forward to checking them out, but then they cancelled the show.  Shame really, I'd gotten into their tunes -- hopefully they'll come at a later time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Boogie Nights

Just links to dancey music, just because.  Turn it on and turn it up!  Yes, that was quite cheesy.

Also, here's a funny article on the upcoming re-death of house that I just read on Vice UK:

What's Going to Kill the House Revival?

Also read another interesting dance-related article on Shuffle.  Doesn't look like anything new to me, pretty sure Leeroy from the Prodge was doing this stuff in the early 90's.  Still, I like it, shame there's a movement against it really.  Check the article for more, and check out the videos too!

This Vice reading's got me looking forward to the Vice TV show on HBO coming up this Friday, I must say.

Lastly, continuing with my obsession on things UK, there's a good radio show on BBC Radio 2 right now that's going through the history of Britain via fifty records.  Newest one up is on Asian immigration.  Check out the whole series here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

something 4 the weekend

A bit late on this as Friday's almost over but there's still two days of the weekend to go so I think it's ok.  Hope so anyway.  No big stories, just some good tracks for the weekend, especially as spring is in the air.  Something old, something new, and something in-between.

Old:  'Sound & Vision' by David Bowie.  Embarrassed to admit that I heard this for the first time today -- but it was on the radio, not in an advert!  So that's something.  If I ever make it to the record shop I'll keep an eye out for a used copy of 'Low', the album this song is off of.  Haven't listened to a lot of prime period Bowie, just some of the glam stuff -- I think I need to remedy that.

New:  'Say That' by Toro Y Moi.  Been hearing this quite a lot on 6 Music.  Quite like it and quite like the change in the Toro Y Moi sound.  When I first heard him he sounded a lot more chilled out.

In-between:  First heard this on either 6 Music or Jools and it gave me a nice summer feeling, though I think the song's actually set during the start of autumn.  The video nicely highlights those long days of summer, and the nice yellow light.  Stornoway:

Monday, February 25, 2013

the News

Having one of those days today, just coming across loads of cool new music that's got me thinking about all kinds of things.  Started with 6 Music and then I got caught up in an internet music link wormhole!  Happens every now and then.  Heard Disclosure and Steve Mason first, which led me to AlunaGeorge and TNGHT.  Trying to stop with just those as, apparently, too much music per post is not a good thing.  On a music blog. I ask you.

I first heard of Disclosure after hearing a great mix by them a couple of months ago at XLR8R.  Seems like they're getting quite big in the UK now and they've just put out a great new single, White Noise, which features another new act, AlunaGeorge.  The video for the track is pretty great, and it's shot in Detroit!:

There's a pretty tight remix of the song that will (hopefully) be officially released.  It's by Scot Hudson Mohawke:

He's one half of an outfit called TNGHT, who've got this track out:

Can't tell, but I'm pretty that'll sound wicked out of a good stereo.

To summarise the above, we've got "future-garage" (Disclosure), "future R n B" (AlunaGeorge), and "future hip-hop" (TNGHT).  Those labels are all from the interwebs, you can decide on your own genre distinctions I think.  I have to say, though, that terms like these do get me pretty excited for the music before I even hear it -- thinking it's some mix of nostalgia, love of new stuff, and wanting to tap into UK urban scenes.

Anyway, last up, someone who doesn't really fit in with the above young 'n' new stuff, Steve Mason, ex of the Beta Band.  I really like his voice and guessed it was him when I heard this, a new track from a forthcoming new LP.  This song should serve as a pleasant come down form the previous glitchy madness:

When I hear this new, great, stuff, I do actually think about picking up a Disclosure single, or a Steve Mason album, but I know they'll just add to the clutter around my house -- it's so hard to find the time to stop, sit, and properly listen to music anymore.  That's nothing to do with life nowadays -- I think it's more to do with being mid-30's with a job, a wife, and a kid.  And also cos of life nowadays!  Hopefully you have more time than me, and can have a good listen.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

the Wales, part 4

Finally getting round to writing about the band that first inspired my "the Wales" posts, but it's taken me so long to get round to it that the band has broken up in the meantime!  That band was Racehorses, who I first heard on 6 Music.  I was immediately captured by their sound -- a very clean indie sound that sounded like it could be from 1986 except it was just too clean.  I got fooled the first few times I heard them on the radio, thinking it was a band from the past, only to be told it was Racehorses.   I'm going to post the two songs I heard on the radio somewhere below.  Sadly, they really have broken up, as of a few weeks ago, boo hoo.

The two songs I heard are both tunes I really like, 'Mates' and 'Sisters'.  Both have a sad quality that appeals to me, hidden beneath the pop, and the latter reminds me a bit of Pulp.  I think that has less to do with the sound of the song and more to do with the content and the use of the word 'sister'.  If you've heard 'Babies' you may understand what I'm talking about.

Another Welsh artist I heard recently is Sweet Baboo.  Not much info on the lad from me, you can check out the link if you'd like to know more, but I heard him singing 'Cate's Song' on the radio and enjoyed it so here you go.  Could only find this link to it, which is to a British Council session (had no idea they do those), but the first song is the one I'm talking about, which makes things easier.

Friday, February 8, 2013

the Weeknd

Coupla tracks for the weekend, since it's Friday morning and I'm getting that weekend feeling!

Heard both of these on 6 Music -- first up, Dutch Uncles, followed by Yacht.  Time for a Crunchie, if I can find one.  Otherwise a dance in the living room will have to do.

Quite liking that fellas baggy tucked-in shirt, goes with the general 80s vibe of the song I think.

More info on the Yacht track here.

Joy Orbison's playing at U Street Music Hall this weekend.  Not really sure if I'll go though, first cos it's on a Sunday night, secondly cos I just don't know if I'll really enjoy the clubbing experience, especially as I'll probably go by myself.  Sad, eh?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jewels on Jools

Only one video today is from the Jools Holland show I just watched, the other is from the past but came to mind today.

First up, Tracey Thorn -- great voice, great hair, great dress.  A thought popped into my head when I was watching her sing, something that may only occur to dentists; namely that if Tracey Thorn had grown up in America she'd look totally different.  She probably would've had surgery to fix her underbite, which would've   totally changed her face and look.  Wonder what else would've changed about her then?

Second video is of Roni Size and Reprazent live on Jools back in '97.  Just popped into my head that they may have been on the show, and they were.  I saw them live in Detroit when they were touring this song and the album it came off (New Forms) and it was the only time I've seen music like this played live -- he was (and still is?) definitely an innovator when it came to live dance music.  Sad when so many musicians and DJ's now are content to just fiddle around behind a macbook.  Check out the set-up these guys had!  Check  out the size of the computer monitor and the black and white looking software they're running!  Definitely took a lot of talent and work to make something like this come together back then.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teenage Kicks

Not much else to say really.  Remind me a bit of the Let's Wrestle track from November -- same sort of youthful energy.  Nothing profound but one shouldn't downplay the appeal of a well-written pop track.  Saw them on Jools Holland, acting silly, but like this song.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cold night monday morning

Popped in Pulp's album "Different Class" a little bit ago and this really good song came up. Here's "Monday Morning"!

Continuing on this 90's kick, Tracey Thorn from EBTG released a Christmas album a few weeks ago. I've always loved her voice and she does this cover of a White Stripes song quite well. If she had a whole album that sounded like this (not a Christmas album) I'd definitely get it! Her Christmas album is released by Buzzin' Fly Records, which is owned by her husband and partner from EBTG, Ben Watt. Aww :-D I love their love story!

ps happy new year!