Showing posts from October, 2011

Nat King Cole - Nature boy

We mentioned an album last month, the great Eden's Island by Eden Ahbez, which has been re-issued on Trunk Records . First of all, you need to hear that. But secondly, it made me think again about another Eden Ahbez song, Nature boy , which was made famous by Nat King Cole . Here's some footage of the Nat trio doing a version, very close to the recorded one. The date isn't given but I'd guess it's around 1948 or so, when the song was a hit. That's one of the high water marks in pop music history, hands down. I went through a period, some years ago, of being quite obsessed with the tune, but I haven't listened to it in too long (my CD copy went astray). It's great to hear it again. Plus Nat could play one mean piano, in fairness.

Apparat – The devil’s walk (Mute)

This is a beguiling album of emotional songs from the Berliner, featuring lyrics with a broad romantic (in the Keats and Shelley sense – in fact the album title is apparently a nod to a Shelley poem from 1812, how cool) sweep. Let the bed sheet soak up my tears And watch the only way out disappear Don’t tell me why Kiss me goodbye But while the words wonder and brood in melancholy, almost metaphysical fashion, the surging, fizzing soundtrack reaches for the sky. The stall is set out from the beginning, in the shape of the celestial choir and circling, Reichian synths of opener Sweet unrest . You’ll probably already have heard the sublime single Song of Los , which manages to combine a semi-operatic vocal with a twitchy two-step (it reminds me of CocoRosie in a way), to make a tune of soaring emotional power. That title refers to the genesis of the album during a break from touring in Mexico in 2010, and there is a kind of sun-bleached, morning-after quality to a lot of the mu

Dark Captain – Dead legs and alibis (LoAF)

Second album from the London 5-piece (who used to be Dark Captain Light Captain in the days of their wonderful debut Miracle Kicker ), full of propulsive rhythms and hushed vocal harmonies. Where their debut album was bound to make you think of an imaginary Elliot Smith soundtrack to The Wicker Man (folk with a twist, we’re saying), the beats are more prominent this time around. We’ve already spoken about the first single Submarines , a salutary tale built around a powerful hi-hat and snare two-step backbeat and a matrix of acoustic guitars – it also features a meltingly gorgeous melody. One of the most noticeable new threads this time is some lovely high-tone bass work (for example, 3 years to go – am I the only one who thinks it sounds like a slowed-down baggy beat, a la Ride? In fact, the shuffling Ex detective has a hint of this too, come to think of it…I’m all in favour by the way – and Different and easier , which comes on like a folky Stereolab, complete with an intriguing

Playlist 194 - Oct 25 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 194 Tues Oct 25 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist Roll the Dice - Calling all workers ( playing Corsica Studios, London, Nov 30 ) Dutch Uncles - Fragrant ( playing Academy 2, Dublin, Nov 18 ) Colourmusic - Tog ( playing Crawdaddy, Dublin, Nov 26 ) Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 - Rise Battles feat. Gary Numan - My machines ( playing Button Factory, Dublin, Nov 19 ) Suuns - Up past the nursery ( playing Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Nov 15 ) Barry McCormack - The secrets of the Buckfast Monks ( playing Whelan's, Dublin, Oct 28, w/ Lisa O'Neill & Bunoscionn ) Nils Frahm - Snippet ( playing Café Oto, London, Nov 12 ) Low

Nils Frahm – Felt (Erased Tapes)

Another set of sublime neo-classical instrumentals from the Berlin resident, which shed new light on the full dynamic range of the piano. By close-miking the instrument from the inside, and playing the keys softly (it’s practically his signature style), Frahm exposes an unexpected set of sounds. Actually, the album almost qualifies as a field recording where the field is the inside of a piano, and the listener is surrounded by the sounds of the room fed through its natural reverb and decay, at least as much as the notes coming from the keys. The resulting arrangements feature microscopic rumbles and creaks and clicks as a kind of supporting orchestra arrived from the wings, and headphones are recommended/essential to get the full benefit. The title apparently derives from Frahm’s need to quieten the piano notes to show consideration for his neighbours during his nocturnal practice sessions. To achieve this effect, he layered thick felt in front of the piano strings. At times though

(The) Caseworker Interview

We had a couple of excerpts on the show this week of an interview with Conor Devlin of dream-pop trio (The) Caseworker . (Notice I haven't specified where they're from, because it's hard to say exactly, being that each member is resident in a different part of the world. You could argue their spiritual home is the U.S. west coast, where at least two of the band were based for a good number of years, due to a certain burnished guitar sound, although they are from Dublin originally.) You can listen to the whole interview now here, in which Conor talks about... ...listening to Radio Luxembourg on Tuesdays as a child, older sisters with Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd records, travel, Pro Tools, Ethiopian athlete Miruts Yifter, the process of making music together/apart in the internet age, the love of 7-inch vinyl, The Undertones, random brackets, ska, late Byrds, a West Coast Sound, and more. It's interesting, at a time when Irish people are leaving the motherland in

New Giant Sand track on Luz de Vida compilation album

We're not all that fussed about keeping up with trends, here around the UOH chalet. However, we tend to get excited when new Giant Sand material is announced. Have a listen to this, we played it on the show this week. Giant Sand "Recovery Mission (Radio Edit)" by FortLowellRecords Beautiful or what? I particularly like those lines - They found water on Mars, not much but surely substantial About a pound of frozen tears' worth, as such it's purely circumstantial Wry and poignant would be words. And that children's chorus later on is perfectly judged. It turns out that the tune is Howe Gelb's response to a certain shooting in Tucson, Arizona earlier this year. You'll have heard about it. Here are all the details, quoted from the Fort Lowell Records website, the label on which the compilation appears. (By the way, you'll find eight other tracks from the album streaming on that link - at first listen, they sound really good. In fact, I

Playlist 193 - Oct 18 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 193 Tues Oct 18 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist Wooden Shjips - Lazy bones Amiina - Asinn ( playing Opera House, Cork, Oct 30 ) Portishead - Chase the tear ( Amnesty International ) Giant Sand - Recovery mission ( Tucson Together Fund ) Apparat - Song of Los ( playing KOKO Theatre, London, Oct 20 ) Atlas Sound - Lightworks (The) Caseworker Interview Interview Excerpt 1 (The) Caseworker - National runner Interview Excerpt 2 (The) Caseworker - The slow track *d'load the full interview here Yann Tiersen - I'm gonna live anyhow ( playing Jeff

Tune-Yards cover Yoko at Airwaves

Another week, another magic live performance from Tune-Yards (as you know, I refuse to do the cAps ShIfT thing), this time covering a Yoko Ono song, We're all water , at the Iceland Airwaves Festival in Reykjavik . As with all great cover versions, Merrill Garbus (and Nate Brenner , let's not forget) manages to make it sound like one of her own songs. Yoko joins them onstage at the end for some freeform vocal workouts, and later asks the crowd "she's great, right?" The answer, Yoko, is yes. (Makes me feel a bit sorry for Nate cos he's extremely cool too.)

Playlist 192 - Oct 11 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 192 Tues Oct 11 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist Josh T. Pearson - Sorry with a song ( playing Barbican Theatre, London, Nov 26, w/ guests ) Left with Pictures - River Avon ( playing Union Chapel, London, Dec 10, daytime gig ) A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Requiem for the Static King, Part One Cymbals Eat Guitars - Wavelengths Deus - Constant now ( playing Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Oct 12 ) Dark Captain - Right way round ( playing Union Chapel, London, Nov 26, daytime gig ) Liz Green - Hey Joe Bert Jansch - The black swan Plaid - Missing ( playing Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Oct 16 ) The Field - Then it's white (

Dark Captain acoustic version

And lastly for today, a song that's already much loved around these parts, but a different version. We were on about Submarines , the first single off the new album by Dark Captain , back in August . Here's some film of four of them (I think they can reach seven, if the weather's good) performing an acoustic version of the song at the Lo & Behold gallery in London . It ups the ante on the original in terms of intimate hushed vocals and cunningly replaces the guitar line with a flute. That may not be everyone's cup of tea but I must say it charms the pants off me. Dark Captain - Submarines (Acoustic at Lo & Behold) from Lo+LOAF TV on Vimeo . And for comparison, the superb original. We'll be talking more about the album later in the month.

Portishead hook up with Amnesty International

Portishead's Chase the tear gets a 12" vinyl release through XL on November 14th, all proceeds going to Amnesty International . It's a fantastic blast of krautrock with Beth Gibbons' signature downbeat vocal. There's also a version (re-imagining, officially, with more of an electro feel) by Toronto's Doldrums , which moves things from the autobahn to the racetrack - it's also worth your time. The label actually had 200 signed copies of this at the Independent Label Market in Brooklyn over the weekend just gone - I'm assuming they are now gone. So you'll have to make do with this lovely B&W video.

My Brightest Diamond - Take Away Shows

As an adjunct to last week's mention of the new My Brightest Diamond album , some great new Take Away Shows of her ( Shara Worden ) with some friends have just been released by the wonderful La Blogotheque . This first film features her solo with guitar sitting at the bar of the Hotel MichelBerger in Berlin (sounds good so far, says you) singing a song she wrote for her son (if my French isn't mistaken). Apart from being achingly beautiful, it also shows the meaning of "inhabiting" a song, as opposed to simply singing it. Those tears aren't crocodile, girls. My Brightest Diamond | I Have Never Loved Someone | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo . This next one switches to New York (in the park, near water) and features Shara Worden and the yMusic Ensemble , who play extensively on the new album. There are actually two pieces of music here - first a song (she plays an autoharp and suppresses a smile, as if the director was trying to make her laug

My Brightest Diamond - All things will unwind (Asthmatic Kitty)

Another notable release this month on Asthmatic Kitty is the new album by My Brightest Diamond , All things will unwind . We opened this week's show with a song from the album, Reaching through to the other side . It's an affecting, fluttering chamber-pop piece, all flutes and clarinets and bending violins, and of course Shara Worden's always engaging voice. It's really beautiful, as you can hear here. Reaching Through to the Other Side by My Brightest Diamond In the past, MBD was/were one of those artists I've admired from a distance, without getting up to my neck in. I might have to change that. Here, Shara Worden describes the background to the visual and other concepts at play on the album, including the funky body-painting art design and superb synthetic hair sculpture. Personal ancestry and the finite nature of the cosmos also feature. My Brightest Diamond - ALL THINGS WILL UNWIND: Visuals from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo . And in this one, Sha

Playlist 191 - Oct 4 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 191 Tues Oct 4 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) UCC 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show here Playlist My Brightest Diamond - Reaching through to the other side Julia Kent - Dear Mr Twombly ( playing Cafe Oto, London, Oct 19 ) Roll the Dice - Cause and effect Scott Solter - The great cold The Jezabels - Endless summer Mint Julep - Days gone by Dum DUm Girls - Bedroom eyes ( playing The Factory, Manchester, Nov 13 ) Paul Curreri - Juju ( playing The Crane Lane Theatre, Cork, Oct 9+10 ) Young Knives - Vision in rags Adrian Crowley - These icy waters ( playing Triskel Christchurch, Cork, Oct 6, w/ James Yorkston & Alisdair Roberts ) Alisdair Roberts - The daemon love

Julianna Barwick - Matrimony Remixes (Asthmatic Kitty)

Beautiful new release from Julianna Barwick , who is one of our favourite singers/artists around here. Her fantastic album The magic place came out earlier in the year, also on Asthmatic Kitty - this was the UOH verdict at the time. Julianna Barwick - The magic place (Asthmatic Kitty) From the opening strains of Envelop , with multiple wordless, heavily treated vocal parts creating texture as well as melody, you know you're in the presence of something special here. By the end of that track, as a distressed piano line gradually swamps the vocals, a haunting, heartrending mood has taken over from the initial bliss. The title track is a choral symphony which slowly disintegrates into a lone soprano. Cloak sounds for all the world like a line from a church hymn sampled and looped, until its layers gather a power not witnessed in any church I've ever been in. White flag creates the effect of standing at the mid-point of three competing choirs, which somehow manage to complemen