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Showing posts from November, 2013

SlowPlaceLikeHome - Interview & Cork Show

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I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of seeing SlowPlaceLikeHome play live, when they appeared at the TDC space of Triskel Arts Centre in Cork as part of a kind of fringe to Cork Film Festival. They've only played a handful of times live but you'd think they'd been at it for years, such was the confidence and poise of the sound.

I also interviewed Keith Mannion (the main brains behind SPLH) in advance of that gig for WeAreNoise, to ask him about the upcoming debut album, Romola, his recording process and some other stuff. It was particularly interesting to hear his thoughts on how sounds take shape and suggest themselves into something enduring. Here's an excerpt.

http://wearenoise.com/index.php/2013/11/slowplacelikehome-qa/

After your three EP’s last year, Coastal hubs for chivalry, Post-hoc and There go the lights again, will the album consist of new material?

Totally new material. I think I have gone through a dozen different drafts of the new album at this stag…

Major Lazer feat Ezra Koenig – Jessica (Because)

I’m not a huge reggae head but this is just the most luscious reggae jam with perfect, smart and yearning falsetto vocals from Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.

Yes.

Dan Haywood – Dapple (Southern Bird)

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A completely captivating album of English folk songs recorded outdoors in Lancashire with backing of birdsong. Mr Haywood is apparently also an ornithologist so this background bleed was no accident but part of his plan, as he relates here.

Given that Dapple could be set in the 18th century, I was keen for there to be no motor vehicle noise, just in case the listener might prefer to imagine it that way. So the locations had to be out of the way, and some of the sessions started as early as 4am to beat the sound of the Abbeystead gamekeepers’ Land Rovers and Bowland farmers’ tractors. Days on which the breeze might gust above 5mph were avoided, which was good for reducing wind noise and for a preponderance of midges.

Top notch stuff, eh? His singing voice is somewhere between Vic Chesnutt and Latka Gravas; this may not be to everyone's taste but wrapped around these pastoral-historical story songs, I dig it in a major way.

Playlist 290 - Nov 26 2013

Let's start by mentioning something glorious in the middle of the show, Band of Clouds (pictured), and the opening song from their new album Appear to float. Great to hear from them again.

Another beautiful Daniel Johnston cover from Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston upcoming album; some Lee Hazlewood deep + soulful country lounge; and a Go Betweens classic from 1982, 'Dusty in here' sounds as good today.

Some bonkers funk from Connan Mockasin, some bonkers folk from Dan Haywood (with birdsong) and the sublime piano meditations of Angele David-Guillou.

Plus Dublin band Tin Charm, bringing plenty of charm, melody and heart to some fuzzy Dinosaur Jr-esque guitar rock.

Nov 26 2013 show w/ Go Betweens,Connan Mockasin,Band of Clouds,Angele David-Guillou,Jacques Caramac+ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


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Playlist 289 - Nov 19 2013

Another bumper crop of Irish music on the show this week.

New music from Adrian Crowley with James Yorkston, September Girls, Elastic Sleep, My Pilot and Benny Smiles. Folk to shoegaze and many points in between.

A bit of Moondog - every day should have some - and a great song from the new Dean Wareham EP, so good to hear from him again.

I've been enjoying the new Piper's Son album very much lately, find more on it on the blog. Beautiful ambient piano work (if that's not a misnomer) from Richard J Birkin.

And some dub to finish. Georges Vert taking us into deep space, Bill Callahan more of a funk variety, speaking of fertile dirt, lovemaking and other essential things.

More on these pages.

Nov 19 2013 w/ Moondog,Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston,Elastic Sleep,Dean Wareham,Bill Callahan++ by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


www.theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.com
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Piper’s Son – The roar from behind (Vacilando ’68)

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What a lovely album this is, from Londoner Thom Driver with friends, lying somewhere between the wry social observations of Darren Hayman and the outsider introspections of Syd Barrett. So, very English you might think except that lyrically these songs are painfully direct, in a fairly unEnglish way.

Draw me things you’d love to see
and I can fill the colours in
then we’ll smudge the lines
and feel them running up and down our spines


from ‘Please don’t go backwards’ or this from ‘Fingers from the future’ –

I saw your hand-me-down in the fireplace
after mother left for town
are you strangled by your emotions
do you wish you had the key.


The latter proceeds luminously at funeral pace and with its skeleton guitar lines brings to mind a little bit that poignant Go Betweens classic ‘Cold and dusty in here’.

I’ve already played ‘Mining’ on the show, an inspired mixture of ska, calypso trumpet and cartoon soundtracks, which bemoans the psychological hazards of (western world) c…

Kramies - Clocks were all broken (from The Wooden Heart EP, Hidden Shoal)

A lovely piece of drifting dream pop from the Denver resident.

This track features and was produced by Jason Lytle ex-Grandaddy and you can hear a little of the ache that was so apparent in that band's music in the hazy synths and swirling melody here.

The Wooden Heart by Kramies

littlebow – Pi Magpie (Second Language)

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This is an intoxicating album of playful, (mostly) instrumental tunes from Kieron Phelan and Katie English (their second as littlebow, both for Second Language), combining avant garde foundations with a great accessibility – a fair reflection of both of their previous work across a broad range of musical contexts. As mentioned in other reviews, there is more than a shade of children’s tv themes about a lot of this album which should give a wide entry point for many people – it certainly floats my boat.

I particularly love the beautiful jazz drone with shimmering keys, with the embedded-in-the-mix flute melody of ‘Part time blind’.

Fans of Gamelan music might recognise some if its beautiful, compelling structures and textures in ‘The pin point night’ (Katie English, I’ve learned, is a member of at least one London-based Gamelan ensemble, among her many other activities).

But I find I keep coming back to the same three tracks again and again.

The title track opener with…

Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir (Sacred Bones)

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Another step forward for the Brooklyn-based band on their third album, in which taking the foot off the garage rock pedal in fact works to intensify the psych atmosphere in unexpected ways.

There’s a distinct baroque feel to ‘Star crawl’, with cello and mellotron swimming around the mid tempo beat; you’ll still find plenty to recognise in the crunching guitar and stalking bass.

A song like ‘Sticks and stones’ is the last thing I would have expected from the band and brilliantly wrongfooting – it’s sweet, pastoral and dreamy, with just enough of an organ buzz and general offbeat air to keep you guessing.

‘Memory room’ takes on this thread with acoustic guitars, violins and mythological lyric lines, veering fascinatingly into post-punk, verging on Go Betweens, territory (I’m so there).

And the title track, along with album closer ‘Phases forever’, completes this baroque mini-section with a gorgeous guitar run over organ and cello, and a sumptuous string quartet breakdown,…

Playlist 288 - Nov 12 2013

A few themes on this week's show, kicking off with the garage pop two-punch of Dott and Crystal Stilts. Mmm.

SlowPlaceLikeHome plays Cork tomorrow and Keith Mannion of SPLH I know is partial to a bit of Connan Mockasin, who is doing the filthiest impression of Prince since Prince was Prince.

Then husband and wife, kind of. The wonderful Britta Phillips guest sings on the last song of the latest Fuxa album, brilliantly refashioning the Mike Nesmith classic 'Different drum' (seguing from Randall Niemann's 'Stand by me'). And she's married to Dean Wareham who has a new EP out, the first under his own name, solo like. Britta plays bass on it and (I think) sings too. It's great.

Then a kind of mid-show, broadly folk theme. The Doomed Bird of Providence chart early Australian immigrant experience through song - compelling and not for the faint of heart. littlebow (lowercase) ply a beguiling brand of folk exotica. And Dan Haywood is a songwriter and…

Playlist 287 - Nov 5 2013

Plenty of wonky pop on the show this week, of different hues. Just the way it goes sometimes.

Julia Holter, wonky in a floaty, enigmatic, showtunes-gone-fringe kind of way; Beaty Heart, more of a psych pop flavour; Piper's Son, very interesting offbeat guitar pop.

Bill Callahan was back, taking country music into dub territory; Georges Vert is far out in dub space already; Major Lazer featuring Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig on guest vocals is an insinuating, smouldering slow reggae jam.

Room for classic pop too. The Would Be's, top class indie guitar pop; Best Boy Grip, sharp/tender piano-lead power pop; and Dott (pictured), taking the legacy of 60's vocal girl groups and re-shaping it sublimely for 2013. They play Cork this week, their very fine debut album is out next month.

More on these pages as always.

Nov 5 2013 w/ Dott,The Shaker Hymn,Would Be's,Georges Vert,Beaty Heart,Chin of Britain,Bill Callahan by Theundergroundofhappiness on Mixcloud

The …