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Showing posts from September, 2013

Crystal Stilts - Future folklore (from the album Nature Noir, Sacred Bones)

A new Crystal Stilts album should be an occasion of joy in every household.

While I'm still digesting Nature Noir, their third, this ferocious cut is worth a mention on its own. It seems a dime a dozen to say that it channels The Velvet Underground but let's say it does that but still manages to come out intact, with its own distinct flavour.

The rolling bassline helps, Brad's sleepy vocal is beautiful, JB's brilliantly chaotic guitar lines, all the better to carry a fable about returning to the underworld, the garden - of Eden, perhaps?

It's over in two and a half minutes aswell, tantalisingly, because on top of everything else they write perfect pop songs this lot.

Playlist 281 - Sept 24 2013

A rake of great tunes this week, plenty of new music again.

Let's start by mentioning Crystal Stilts (pictured), one of my favourite bands, whose 3rd album Nature Noir is just out. We had the cracking 'Future folklore' from it, a kind of Velvets-Bo Diddley mash-up, and there will be plenty more to come on the show over coming weeks.

Also, Julia Holter paired with Leslie Caron, two Gigi references there, both based on the famous Colette novel; Bill Callahan getting funky in his old age, with the meditative Yusef Lateef, two flute interludes; King Khan appeared in the Moon Duo video for 'Sleepwalker', the lunar ones play Liverpool Psych Fest and in Dublin next weekend; two Alexander Tucker out there pop plays in Grumbling Fur & Imbogodom.

MGMT play Cork next month, their great missing Philly Soul link from the 2nd album; some lovely folk/reggae tones from Me & My Friends; Paper Dollhouse from the extensive new Outer Church comp on Front & Follow

Playlist 280 - Sept 17 2013

Another raft of new stuff this week, including a shower of Irish material.

A new single from the wonderful Cat Dowling, that intoxicating track 'Wild woe' from the new Hidden Highways album again, Copenhagen-based The Unusual History of Ether bringing some intriguing jazz moves into pop; Kevin Murphy back again with his fractured folk songs, and O Emperor and The Altered Hours, both with high profile shows coming up.

Also Fuxa, the first single from the new album Dirty D feat. Ann Shenton of Add N to X on vocals with a ferocious krautrock drone. And The Cinematographer, a Dublin artist plying the more meditative end of the ambient drone spectrum.

Satelliti, math rock from Italy; some new (old) music from Peter Broderick from his reissued debut album, some superb crooning from Jon DeRosa, and something sweet and silly and brilliant from Jacques Caramac.

Sept 17 2013 w/ Hidden Highways,Altered Hours,O Emperor,Fuxa,Young Knives,Jacques Caramac++ by Theundergroundofhap…

Camera Obscura – Desire lines (4AD)

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One of my favourite albums of the 2000s was the third from Camera Obscura, Let’s get out of this country, which featured the peerless pop-referencing-itself ‘Hey Lloyd, I’m ready to be heartbroken’. I must admit that I didn’t bond as much with their following album, My Maudlin Career, but I’m delighted to report that Desire lines is back up with their best and (in the best possible sense) most lovable work.

From the sprightly but sad single ‘Do it again’ (“can you see the tears of this clown?”), to the endearingly chipper melancholy of ‘Troublemaker’ (“On a cold morning you arriving, I’m struggling for survival”) and the absolutely sublime heartbreaker ‘Break it to you gently’. Add in the slow dance beauty ‘This is love (Feels alright)’ with its insinuating saxophone line, steeped in a Scottish Motown atmosphere. The wrenching tribute to lost friends ‘William’s heart’. The touching machismo of ‘New Year’s Resolution’ – “I’ve been cool with you and the sooner you admit it I will …

V.O. – On rapids (Humpty Dumpty Records)

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The second album of the year produced by John McEntire of Tortoise which is guaranteed to feature in my end of year faves list (the first was Yo La Tengo’s Fade). And it’s another match made in paradise.

V.O. is a band of elegantly cut men and women out of Brussels lead by the superbly moustached Boris Gronemberger who follow a broad jazz pop manifesto. What does that mean? Well, there are smooth brass swells, slinky keyboard themes, deliciously low-key male-female harmonies, slow and sure unwinding vocal melodies, tidy unfussy stickwork.

The single ‘When you see red’ has all of these things, as well as a breezy, propulsive bass (synth) line. But although it nods to the lounge and the smoking jacket, it gradually reveals itself to be a protest song, or more precisely a song of counsel to the 21st century dispossessed (that’s you and me, friends). The fact that such a conceit is smuggled in such a smooth package is a brilliant sleight of hand which makes the message doubly persu…

Liam Singer – Arc Iris (Hidden Shoal)

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I was a huge fan of Liam Singer’s last album, Dislocatia from 2010 (you can find an interview from around that time with Liam in a piece here which includes a review of the album). It was an album of chamber pop that managed to be both delicate and thrilling at the same time. A good trick that, one you might associate with The Beach Boys for example. For this album, Singer has extended his range to create an even headier brand of dreamy, cosmic pop while retaining the classical shapes that add such emotional heft.

The songs unfold themselves in no verse and chorus format but as miniature symphonic movements, driven by one main piano or keyboard generally, with key and stunning second-vocal contributions from Wendy Allen of Hidden Shoal labelmates Boxharp. And once more, her Boxharp partner Scott Solter produces, providing an intriguing sound bed for these off-kilter pop creations. The album overall portrays a kind of rarefied, heightened atmosphere, as with Dislocatia the distin…

Playlist 279 - Sept 10 2013

Still working through the summer backlog this week.

New albums from two English artists - Jack Cheshire, some nice Nick Drake-ish jazz folk tones, and from Satellites, something slightly more epic.

V.O. back with a new single, what a great band, and I've also been liking Mick Harvey's latest album a lot recently.

Three acts playing the Liverpool Psych Fest at the end of the month, showing just how much variety you can fit under that banner - The Lucid Dream (psych rock), Plankton Wat (sun-baked folk) and Eat Lights Become Lights (krautrock).

Two from the Hidden Shoal label, lovely dream pop from Kramies, and something more of a chamber persuasion from Liam Singer, brilliant.

Sophia Knapp sounding like a woozy Stevie Nicks and some tropical sounds from Delorean, you can't beat it.

Sept 10 2013 w/ V.O.,Mick Harvey,ELBL,Jack Cheshire,Satellites,Grant Hart,Sunray,Plankton Wat++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting po…

Playlist 278 - Sept 3 2013

The first show back after the summer recess (and for once we had a summer to speak of), so plenty of new music to catch up on.

And one of the best is new from Limerick band Hidden Highways (pictured below), a beautiful, tremulous cut from their debut album, Old hearts reborn, out next week. I paired it with Shearwater, joined by Sharon Van Etten on guest vocals, another absolute folk showstopper.

Also in there was the delirious glam pop of Jacques Caramac & The Sweet Generation, brilliant; garage rock with brass from King Khan & The Shrines, love it; new music from Manchester's Magic Arm, very catchy; and great to hear new material from Fuxa and Jeffrey Lewis (the latter paying tribute stunningly to Pussy Riot).

Plus three other very impressive new Irish releases, Cork in fact - Saint Yorda playing around very nicely with steel drums and rack toms; The Vincent(s) with another impressive blues howl; and Kevin Murphy, doing something interesting with hushed folk harmon…