Thursday, 20 April 2017

Swamp Sounds/Uncle Pops & The Dumbloods (Bearsuit)

The latest split release from Edinburgh's Bearsuit label pairs Japan's Swamp Sounds with Uncle Pops, who hails from Dundee.  As we've come to expert from Bearsuit, the release is a triumph of experimentation paired with the kind of obtuse hooks that somehow lift the whole thing very much into the realm of the eminently listenable.

Uncle Pops, aka Douglas Wallace, is a little more low key about it, specialising in meandering soundscapes and fascinating temporal shifts that come out sounding like the soundtrack to some film whose sense you won't be able to make out but which you really wanna see.  He was involved with Anata Wa Sukkari Tsukarete Shimai's album The Lost Charles Underscore and if you loved that album as much as I did, you'll have some idea of the territory we're getting into.

Swamp Sounds are the work of Nagoya's Yuuya Kuno, an experimental musician who also records under the alias of House of Tapes.  His half of the release is less texturally complex, more perky and an absolute delight throughout its five tracks.  I'm opening my Dandelion Radio show this month with opening track 'Marionette', the mutant disco rush of which offers a snapshot of the warped, exhilarating journey Yuuya is about to take us on.

At times bewildering, at other times faintly unsettling, but always mad and always magnificent: get it here

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Threes And Will - Purge of Genden (Nothing Out There)

I first encountered Threes And Will via a split release they put out through the always wonderful Blue Tapes some time ago.  Ever since then I've been a huge admirer of the caustic, sub-krautrock din dished up by this Estonian band and their latest release, in partnership with French label Nothing Out There, has certainly not diminished my admiration.

If anything, the band crank up the noise levels still more on this offering.  Looping, repetitive guitars dominate, though often to subtly varied ends: the woozy, dissonant fuzz of opener 'Koniec Cywilizacji' opens up over the collection, via the epic spaciness of 'The Conquest Of Zhangzhung' until something more reminiscent of psychedelic rock is let loose on 'Bunkers'.

That in turn gives way to the magnificent 'Erebus', half stoner nightmare and half the sound of something that might well come out from the speedway pits if the mechanics got the pitch and balance just right.  You can hear it in my current Dandelion Radio show, streaming throughout April.

I'm aware I'm already descending to the level of the figurative to describe all this, which kind of gives away the difficulty I'm experiencing in doing so.  Perhaps I should just tell you that the six tracks here collectively bring about the kind of head-shredding thrill we've no right to expect to last over forty minutes but somehow, in the hands of Threes And Will, it does. 

Sadly, the limited edition cassette version is now sold out, but you can still download these six slices of magnificence here

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Audio Antihero Presents 'Unpresidented Jams' (Audio Antihero)

The wonderful Audio Antihero label has developed a reputation for producing one-off compilations that combine variety and quality while striking exactly the right note at the right time.  Few have been more timely than this: a nineteen track collection with all proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center to aid the fight against the odious Trump administration.

The usual Audio Antihero regulars distinguish themselves as usual.  Cloud offer an evocative piano version of 'Moonlit' while Chuck's 'Nothing Matters To Me Now' characteristically combines power and fragility in a way that  seemingly only he can manage.  'Hole' is another dollop of introspective brilliance from Benjamin Shaw, while 'The New Colossus' finds Jack Hayter in fascinatingly experimental mood.

You can hear three of the other tracks in my Dandelion Radio show this month.  'Still Pills' is a woozy indie masterpiece from Still Pills, originally found on their 2014 album Omstart Sessions (which you can get as NYP here) while the always stunning Deerful serve up the typically delightful 'Unlearn/Begin Again'

The third of the tracks comes from the legendary Jeffrey Lewis, whose 'Dictator Seeks Reichstag Fire' is the most blistering and scarily perceptive attack on Trump yet to arise here or anywhere else.

Audio Antihero are offering the compilation for a minimum £2.99 here.  It's a cracking opportunity to get involved while enjoying the perfect soundtrack to the resistance.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Kloba Kent - Naked in the Storm

Listeners to my Dandelion Radio show will be familiar with the work of Diane Marie Kloba, who I was pleased to see gracing the Festive Fifty for the second time in 2016 and whose marvellous recent session for my show can now  be purchased as NYP here
Now, Diane has teamed up with Brighton-based guitarist Paul Kent to release this EP, which you can get from his Exploding Galaxy bandcamp page.  It's a fascinating release. Diane is such a singular vocalist that it's intriguing to hear what the addition of a collaborator can add to her work.

If you heard my Dandelion show last month, when I played the track 'Fools Like Walls', you'll already be aware of the extra dimension Paul Kent's spacious guitar lines bring to her unique style.  This month I'll be featuring the title track, where the guitar work provides a fine backdrop to a vocal performance that, even for Diane, is pretty damn breath-taking.

Overall, the collaboration works like a dream.  Worth checking out too Paul's earlier work while you're at his bandcamp site and, if you still remain unacquainted with Diane's back catalogue, I'd advise you to address that with some urgency by visiting her website here.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Baker Island - Demolishing the Fourth Wall (Edils)

If you like your indie pop to venture beyond the merely formulaic - and allow me to suggest that you probably do - then Newcastle's Baker Island may well be the band for you.

I'm featuring the title track from this three track single in my Dandelion Radio show this month.  I love it for its wildly anarchic structure, informed, it seems, by the principle of never settling for two or three hooks when you can have six of seven.  It yields a tune that manages to be both pleasingly messy and instantly hummable.

The other two tracks are pretty damn delightful too.  'Cheers Nostradamus' carries itself along on a vintage Madness-type vibe before once again diversifying madly, while 'Meet Me In John Lewis' intrudes into the proceedings with a more languid gait and spiky glitch-like portents of doom that never really sound doomy at all.

It's a delight, as you can probably tell.  Download it (NYP) here and prepare yourself, with great anticipation, for the forthcoming album which, the Edils Bandcamp site tells us, will be 'full of more slack, upbeat misery'.  Can't wait. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Eureka Brown - O Utopia (Digitalia)

I like to think I'm well-balanced enough to accept that music is generally a matter of personal preference.  If someone fails to find something in releases I recommend to them, I can generally greet this with equanimity  Why, then, do I find myself listening to O Utopia and thinking that, if you don't find yourself instantly falling for its charms, there must be something very wrong with you?

If that sounds like Eureka Brown's music has brought out my intolerance demons, that couldn't be further from the truth.  There's an easy charm about this album that, even in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary, astonishingly manages to reassure me that the world is essentially a good place

The reason for this is, I suppose, that the album's upbeat quirkiness manages to take apart and put back together that world in so many pleasing ways you're drawn into something that resembles a far more satisfying place to live.  Sometimes it does this, as in the case of 'Hush Hush', by settling into such a reassuringly lovable groove that the spikily intrusive guitar that comes in at one point soon falls victim to that groove and settle peaceably into it.

Or sometimes the inclination is to throw a whole melee of sounds together that ought to sound like a disparate mess but which somehow creates some kind of wondrous balance between dissonance and harmony.  'The whole caboodle's going down the tubes,' he sings on 'Shebang', following the line with a scratchy mock-fanfare that's part celebratory, part twisted sonic meddling. 

I play 'We're All Gonna Die' in my Dandelion Radio show this month, its calmly enunciated statement on the inevitability of death failing to shake off the album's general feel good vibe even as it consigns us all to dust. 

Somehow, I get the impression that Eureka Brown isn't one to judge you over all this, but I will: you are incomplete without this album.  Get it from the Digitalia bandcamp site here

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Chuck - My Band Is A Computer (Old Money/Audio Antihero)

The perennially wonderful Audio Antihero have introduced a new off-shoot label.  It's called Old Money Records and if what it's going to release is anywhere near as good as this first offering, we're in for a treat.

Old Money's remit is to put out reissues and compilations, with the intention of allowing us to catch up with music from the past that hasn't yet received the attention it deserves.  As someone who constantly self-flagellates due to an inability to give everything that passes through my inbox as much of a hearing as I'd like, this is a pleasing venture in itself.

I don't think anything from Chuck ever did pass through that inbox, which is a shame because I've clearly been missing out on something very special indeed.  Chuck's approach is unmistakeably rooted in that tradition of eastern US songwriters - he's from Massachusetts but now lives in Brooklyn - who have a way of mixing the celebratory and the world-weary in such a way that any dormant paradoxes lying therein are brought kicking and screaming, yet often laughing, into the world.

I detect strains of Jeffrey Lewis and Leonard Cohen but I note neither of those are mentioned as influences in the press release.  Daniel Johnston and
Jonathan Richman are though, and these are just as discernible. Other ears may no doubt find that Chuck is coming from somewhere else entirely, because what he adds to all this is very much his own.  The defiantly bombastic synth-led overture of opener 'Happy New Years Babe' make way for the wistfully introspective 'Oceans' and 'Mary Anne' yet the mesmerising, uplifting musical backdrop, particularly of the latter, continues the defiant mood, which prevails, even as the awkward tiny details of life so brilliantly assemble in Chuck's acute lyrical observations, throughout the collection.

I'm playing 'Pictures' in my Dandelion Radio show this month, another track that marries upbeat instrumentation with reflective lyrics, in this case searching for clues in a personal history that, for Chuck, comes across as somehow both familiar and alien. 

In all, then, a new direction for Audio Antihero, but with a familiar stamp of quality. 'My Band Is A Computer' is available now, as download or limited edition cassette, here