Showing posts from October, 2014

Playlist 330 - Oct 28 2014

More new material from Wildbirds & Peacedrums this week - their wonderful new album is available to stream on Spotify and bandcamp now. And a new band (on me) with a Halloween reference from San Francisco, Cool Ghouls , playing sprightly psych rock which I like very much. Also a new album from Elisa Luu , great to hear from her again, and sounding just as beautiful and strange as ever. Silver Servants with Anna Bronsted on vocals, and that gauzy dream pop that I hear as a kind of companion sound. Benjamin Schoos is back too, new album soon but here's the single feat. April March on duetting vocals - swoonsome is the word. Grasscut covering Robert Wyatt gorgeously. And East River Pipe being many shades of wonderful. More on these pages as always. Oct 28 2014 w/ Cool Ghouls,W&P,Little Tornados,Benjamin Schoos,East RIver Pipe,Elisa Luu++ by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed

Ariel Pink – Put your number in my phone (4AD)

More gloriously poignant/vaguely unsettling jangle pop from the pink-haired one. He may have dropped the Haunted Graffiti but the killer 80s-inflected tunes keep coming. In among the irresistible chiming guitars, the massed banks of synths over a heartfelt “baby” and the superb touch of a girl’s gently pleading message on his voicemail, I find myself returning again and again to the genius staccato of the chorus bassline. It seems to tap out a morse code of hope and love from Ariel to the world. And apart from that being exactly what the world needs now, it is such a beautiful thing. *As is his wont, the video is likely to take the poignant edge off the tune for you, opting instead to creep you the fuck out.

Playlist 329 - Oct 21 2014

Having just read the fascinating 4AD biography, I'd been biding my time to play something from the staggering Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares , a Bulgarian female choir given an "indie" UK release first in 1986. It was an album that had quite an impact on many other 4AD artists, including Liz Fraser of Cocteau Twins , who was already ploughing a most individual vocal furrow, in fairness. Two from the Hidden Shoal label this week, the sumptuous dream pop of Chloe March , the feverish psych strummings of Brother Earth . Also Caribou , it's sounding like an instant classic that new album; a re-release for Gravenhurst , lovely psych folk with an electronic undertone; Ty Segall channelling Brett Anderson of Suede but pulling it off; East River Pipe , haunting and poignant wrapped in glorious guitar pop. And Kemper Norton , as intriguing and spooked out as ever. More on these pages as always. Oct 21 2014 w/ East River Pipe,Caribou,Bell Gardens,SPLH,Voix Bulg

Rachael Dadd – Strike our scythes / Rozi Plain – Jogalong (Split Single, Lost Map Records)

A brilliant declaration of progressive folk values from two of Britain’s most distinctive contemporary voices, and regulars on the show's playlists over the last few years. Rachael Dadd brings ukulele strums, shakers (in fact a box of matches apparently) and a loping drumbeat with a charm-the-pants-off-you chorus vocal line from the Kate Bush school (“ca-ca-co-co-yup”) to an uplifting worksong. In Rozi Plain’s case, her signature syncopated guitar, softly insistent backbeat, a glorious kosmische synth line and a bank of celestial harmonies develop an eminently danceable groove, perfect for the stoic nostalgia of the lyric. One sprightly and bouncy, the other a sort of motorik murmuring. Put together, they make an intriguing yin and yang. It’s all most beguiling and joyous and, in short, very classy pop music.

Playlist 328 - Oct 14 2014

Been enjoying the new Mark Fry album very much lately, reminding me of Bert Jansch a bit with its low acoustic drone and keening string parts. So, good to hear those two together at the start of this week's show. Also, Laetitia Sadier doing lush Philly soul; Ariel Pink doing swoonsome jangle pop; Tennis doing sweet blue-eyed soul. Mid-show, another mini-folk run with the bounce of Rachael Dadd , plaintive tones of Olof Arnalds and spare instrumental piano of Soley . And two FM Cornog songs, one covered by Lambchop from 1998, the other from Cornog's own East River Pipe , from the reissued 1999 album The gasoline age . Songs as good as those are a treasure for humanity. More on these pages. Oct 14 2014 w/ Ariel Pink,Laetitia Sadier,Olof Arnalds,Polar Bear,Lambchop,East River Pipe++ by The Underground Of Happiness on Mixcloud The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed

East River Pipe – The Gasoline Age (reissued, Merge Records)

Another in the most welcome series of reissues from Merge Records to celebrate its 25th birthday. East River Pipe is the recording moniker of FM Cornog of New York and he would be the definition of cult – highly regarded by other musicians, critically acclaimed over but unknown to the majority of the population. I came across the name first, I think, through Stewart Lee’s album reviews sometime in the 1990s, and through the advocacy and cover versions of labelmate Kurt Wagner of Lambchop (Cornog’s songs have also been covered by David Byrne, The Mountain Goats, Okkervil River and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, among many others). This album was originally released in 1999 and features a host of unbeatable pop songs, unforgettable melodies and vignettes at every turn. It is also a concept album of sorts, about the automobile and its iconic place in the hearts of Americans, offering a chance of love, prestige, freedom, redemption and all sorts. These are home recordi

Playlist 327 - Oct 7 2014

The great new Caribou album loomed large over this week's show - from it we played the gorgeous 'All I ever need'. I find I'm pairing it with the new Wildbirds & Peacedrums material, they have a second thrilling single of drumbeat soul (let's call it) from their upcoming new album. I've been reading the 4AD biography of late so I thought it'd be nice to pull out some Tarnation from 1997, an old No Disco staple in the Donal Dineen days. You could file that sound next to Calexico, so as luck would have it we also had the writer Sylvie Simmons with her debut album produced by that other Tucson legend Howe Gelb . Sean Nicholas Savage plays in Ireland this week, Paul Smith & Peter Brewis with beautiful, lyrical chamber pop. A Lazarus Soul and Women's Christmas , two fine Irish bands with new albums out around now. Jennifer Castle and A Winged Victory For The Sullen , you'll find more on the blog on those; Circus Devils and GBV ,

Laetitia Sadier – Something shines (Drag City) & Little Tornados – We are divine (Rio Bogota)

And now for a double whammy of Laetitia-flavoured the NME might say. Laetitia Sadier’s third solo album sees her take another short step away from the beat-driven glory of Stereolab, in the direction of something more meditative, you might say taking a cosmic view, although as much as ever there is a distinct social, or even sociological, undercurrent to the music. In fairness, it’s not as if drums (and particularly bass – the second half of ‘Butter side up’ has a driving ‘Lab-ish backbeat over the refrain “we need answers”) play no part on Something shines , but the overriding impression from these songs is of someone taking stock of the world, probing, questioning, rather than making any overt, bold statements. The epitome of this is the middle track, ‘Release from the centre of your heart’, which comes across very much as the centrepiece of the album. It has shades of Stereolab in the vocal layers, but these are outweighed by thoughts of the orchestral

A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos (Erased Tapes)

One of the most spellbinding shows I’ve been to in the last few years was the Irish debut in January 2012 of A Winged Victory For The Sullen in support of the release of their self-titled first album. I wrote some words on the gig at the time, it really was pretty monumental. In fact, hearing that music live in the presence of another 100 people or so was bordering on emotional. So the second album by Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie is quite an event for me. And it doesn’t disappoint. I’m afraid words like grandeur and majesty will have to do once again to describe this slowly shifting maelstrom of strings, piano and ambient hum. And as with the first album, despite (maybe because of?) the poise of the music, the restraint, there’s still something deeply romantic about it. What does that mean? Well, it seems to connote some vague sense of human yearning, something primal

Playlist 326 - Sept 30 2014

A kind of a core of folk music running through this week's show, with a particularly nice centrepiece of new music from Olof Arnalds, Lutine & Vashti Bunyan . All female artists, all with their own intriguing versions of a delicate folk strand, from domestic idyll to murder ballad, unique all three. Of course, to that group we can also add the classy Bobbie Gentry , with a beaut from her debut album in 1967. And even the show openers, XTC and Paul Giovanni from The Wicker Man soundtrack, continued that theme with pastoral and psych-folk takes on the harvest time of year (that's now city dwellers). Groovy, beaty sounds from Red Snapper , reminds me a bit of Lalo Schifrin in places; Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa being brilliantly weird and wonderful. The Altered Hours have a new EP of beautiful short pieces (it's pay-what-you-can on bandcamp), this track has a shade of the great Mazzy Star about it. And Merchandise (pic), with one of the songs of the year, t