Monday, 25 July 2016

Track Of The Day: Julia Jacklin - 'Pool Party'

A stunning slice of alt-country from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin. Even on first listen, it's one of those songs that your brain could mistake for an old classic that you've heard a thousand times, such is its instant beauty. "When I was growing up I was so ambitious; I’m going to be this amazing social worker, save the world, a great musician, fit, an amazing writer,” says the 25 year old from the Blue Mountains region. "Then you get to mid-20s and you realize you have to focus on one thing. Even if it doesn’t pay-off, or you feel embarrassed at family occasions because you’re the poor musician still; that’s the decision I made."

Jacklin is due to release her debut album 'Don't Let The Kids Win' later on this year and will be playing a few shows in the UK in November. 


REWIND: Babylon Zoo - Spaceman

A song which was impossible to escape during 1996. When I played it during my DJ sets (as a very young DJ at my Dad's club in Corsham), I'd often play an extended 12" version of the "Supervarian Mix" by Arthur Baker. 'Spaceman' was a 1996 chart-topping hit single by one-hit-wonders Babylon Zoo. It became massively popular after being featured on a Levis jeans advert and went straight to Number 1 on the UK singles chart in January 1996, selling 418,000 copies in the first week of release. At the time it was the fastest selling debut single by any artist in the UK. An album entitled 'The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes' was released soon after and debuted at #6 on the UK Albums Chart. I also remember being keen on the follow-up single 'Animal Army', which I haven;t heard in years. In 1999, a follow-up album was released, 'King Kong Groover', but singer Jas Mann decided not to promote the album as he was not getting support from his record label. Mann subsequently decided to move to India and work for an aid agency. The last I heard of him, he was working as a distributor for independent films. 




Monday, 18 July 2016

Track Of The Day - She Makes War - 'Drown Me Out'

Having witnessed the excellent multi-instrumentalist Laura Kidd (a.k.a She Makes War) live in action a couple of times, it was a pleasant surprise to hear her playing a live session recently for Marc Riley's BBC Radio 6 Music show. Not only did the performance impress hugely, but also reminded me about the recent release of the third She Makes War album 'Direction Of Travel'. And after a few listens, it casts its spell song by song, full of bright melody, vibrant delivery, illuminating arrangements all brought together with magnificent songwriting. 

On the opening 'Drown Me Out', the Bristol-based artist adds ear-catching melodies to a shadowy alt-rock background to conjure up a thing of dark, sorrowful grungey beauty. One of 2016's most essential records, 'Direction Of Travel' also features collaborations with Mark Chadwick of the Levellers and Tanya Donelly. The album is available now on CD and download, and She Makes War will be touring throughout the rest of the year.


REWIND: MARRS - 'Pump Up The Volume'

Today's REWIND selection is dedicated to Steve Young, who died a few days ago on July 13. MARRS were quite possibly the most important one-hit-wonder of all time. The project started in 1987 as a collaboration between the groups A.R. Kane and Colourbox. Instead of working together, the two acts recorded a track each, then swapped with each other for additional input. Of the two songs, 'Anitina' was an A.R. Kane track with drum programming by Colourbox's Steve Young, while 'Pump Up the Volume' was a Martyn Young track constructed largely of samples, and featured one of A.R. Kane's guitars.

The record was released in 1987 under the alias MARRS, an alias created from the forenames of the five artists: Martyn Young (from Colourbox), Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala (from A.R. Kane), Russell Smith (an associate A.R. Kane member), and Steve Young (from Colourbox). The track went to number 1 in the UK singles chart and is regarded as a significant milestone in the development of sampling culture.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Track Of The Day: The Living End - 'Monkey'

It's unbelievable to think that The Living End are barely known of here in the UK, yet during the 90's their single 'Prisoner Of Society' was the biggest selling song of the decade by any Australian band. Following the five year gap since their last album 'The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating', the trio have returned with a brand new album. The excellent 'Shift' is their seventh full-length studio effort, and one of 2016's finest albums so far. From it comes this melodic rock n roll blast of heavy, no-nonsense punk energy that comes served with the sort of chorus that Dave Grohl would kill for.


REWIND: Suicide - 'Rocket USA'

Alan Vega, the frontman of pivotal pre-punk band Suicide has died aged 78 years old. Henry Rollins broke the news in a statement that read: "With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away," reads a statement from Vega's family. 

"Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.

Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970’s, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.

Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.

One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.

Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.
Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever."

Suicide were a massive influence on some of my favourite bands, and the first I heard of them was a live version of this track that they played with Spiritualized, which I heard on a free CD that came with the NME in the late 90s. 'Rocket USA' can be found on the band's self-titled debut album, released in 1977.


Friday, 15 July 2016

Track Of The Day: Dodgy - 'Are You The One'

As well as celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1996 classic 'Free Peace Sweet', British power-pop combo Dodgy will soon be releasing their 5th studio album 'What Are We Fighting For' via the Cherry Red label. The LP is available in a variety of formats from September 30 and promises to be excellent if it's anywhere near as splendid as their previous outing, 2012's 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place'. Out of the three new tracks they've previewed so far, the lead single 'Are You The One' is the one that charms in the most instant way. The single is out today as a download and via Spotify. 

As usual, the band will be touring over the summer and playing a number of festivals, including a slot at Melksham's Party In The Park, an event in the Wiltshire town that takes place tomorrow (Saturday July 16). Tickets are only £5, and many other acts (including T.Rex tribute band T.Rextasy) will also feature on the bill. NOT to be missed. 


REWIND: The Real People - 'Window Pane'

Like a lot of other people, I first heard of The Real People through their association with Oasis, who were still unsigned when Noel Gallagher first met Tony Griffiths of the band. In the early 90's, Noel contacted Griffiths and asked him to help record the eight song music demo that became 1993's Live Demonstration tape, which landed Oasis with their first record deal. The tape included many of the songs that eventually featured on the band's first album Definitely Maybe. Tony Griffiths is credited with providing vocals on 'Supersonic', while Chris Griffiths co-wrote 1995 b-side 'Rockin' Chair' with Noel Gallagher. The Real People were formed in 1986 and released 'Window Pane' as a single in 1990. It reached number 60 in the UK singles charts.


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Track Of The Day: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - Creation

Available as a spectacular mirror sleeved vinyl LP as well as in standard formats, 'The Soft Bounce' is the debut album from psychedelic duo Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve, and was released a couple of weeks ago on July 1. The album is the work of of prolific electronic musicians Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, and from it here is the lively, mesmeric single ' Creation'.


REWIND: Muse - 'Invincible'

Not often RW/FF will feature the same artist twice in a week but we'll make an exception for British rock titans Muse, whose 2006 album 'Black Holes And Revelations' was released exactly 10 years ago today. From the LP comes the wonderful 'Invincible', a dong of courage, strength and love that conquers all. Coincidentally I was listening to this song a lot after meeting a very special someone last year, someone who i will have been with for exactly a year tomorrow. Would be wrong not to feature this track really...



Friday, 1 July 2016

Track Of The Day: DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels - 'Nobody Speak'

This tough, forceful slab of electronic hip hop goodness comes from the new DJ Shadow album 'The Mountain Will Fall', and features New York/Atlanta duo Run The Jewels. The album is DJ Shadow's fifth full-length and was released by Mass Appeal Records. It's his first studio album since 2011's 'The Less You Know, the Better'.


REWIND: The M.V.P.'s - 'Turning My Heartbeat Up'

Another very old track that I have only recently discovered. 'Turning My Heartbeat Up' is a brilliant northern soul track by The M.V.P.'s, who appear to have only released this one single. It came out on Buddha Records in 1971.


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Track Of The Day: Richard Ashcroft - 'Hold On' (Acoustic)

Former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft hasn't made a great album that I've enjoyed all the way through for nearly 20 years now. His previous outing from 2010 (as RPA and the United Nations Of Sound) saw him trying to "do an Ian Brown" and incorpororate hip hop and electronic influences into his sound. It was an artistic and commercial disaster. Six years on and he returns with a slightly more traditional record, his fourth solo album 'These People'. 

Although it reached number 3 in the UK album charts, the LP is not a great success musically. Recent single 'Hold On' boasts the album's most infectious hooks and would be one of Ashcroft's finest musical moments were it not for the ill-fitting, cheap-sounding digital production that hampers the song. A stripped-back acoustic version recently played when Ashcroft played a session for Radio 2 brings out the best in the song and is the recommended alternative. 

Read RW/FF's review of the album HERE.


REWIND: Johnny Kidd And The Pirates - 'Please Don't Touch'

Until recently I thought that this was a Motörhead song, since the band and Girlschool released a version of it in 1982. But having heard it on the radio last week, I now know its true origins. 'Please Don't Touch' was the debut single by British rock and roll combo Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, released in 1959 reaching number 25 on the UK singles chart. Kidd died at age 30 in 1966, in a motor car accident.


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Track Of The Day: case/lang/veirs - 'Best Kept Secret'

This joyous new musical offering comes from a supergroup made up of Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs, who have just released a rather fine album under the moniker case/lang/veirs. “The combination of spirits, the combination of artistry, is very unique, because we have definite similarities, but we are very, very different, and it creates a really interesting thing,” says Lang. “It's a truly collaborative record where our individual essences are firmly in place.”


REWIND: Montego Joe - 'Fat Man'

Here's a song I heard for the first time over the last few days when it was played on the indispensable BBC Radio 6Music. It's from an artist that I also wasn't aware of before. A longer, slower version of this can be found on a 1965 album by Jamaican latin jazz drummer/percussionist Montego Joe. The album is called '¡Arriba! Con Montego Joe', but this version is from a single release on the Prestige Label. Montego Joe died in 2010.


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Track Of The Day: Guy Garvey - 'Open The Door'

At Glastonbury 2016, one of the weekend's best-kept secrets was Elbow mainman Guy Garvey on the Park Stage. Mostly playing tracks from his 2015 solo album 'Courting The Squall', Garvey seems to have gained a second lease of life with his new project. A departure from the sound Elbow have developed over the years but peppered with intelligent lyrical content, his backing band excel at bringing this brilliantly rhythmic music to life as Garvey's vocals provide warmth and expression. Definitely a highlight of the weekend. Included on the new, deluxe version of the album is this fantastic new single.


REWIND: PJ Harvey - 'Good Fortune'

While I thought the much-praised 'Let England Shake' wasn't the 10 out of 10 album the music press made it out to be, I still recognise Polly Jean Harvey as one of the greatest and innovative female icons in music. Having recently released her 9th album 'The Hope Six Demolition Project' a few months ago in April, her set at Glastonbury on Sunday night was full of drama, performance and oddness. But it's still her late 90's/early 2000's output that I'm most fond of, and this tasty single from her fifth studio album 'Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea' was released in November 2000 on Island Records. It reached number 41 in the UK charts but clearly should have been a bigger hit.


Monday, 27 June 2016

Track Of The Day: Wolf Alice - 'Lisbon'

One of the most exciting performances of this year's Glastonbury festival came courtesy of the London four-piece Wolf Alice. I'm relatively new to this band's music, having first heard them only a few weeks ago (on Radio 1 of all places!) but I knew that a place up on the main stage would push them a step further towards success. And when they hit that first chord, I felt something awakening. In an age where the singles charts are filled with blandness and conformity, Wolf Alice are a great balance of enticing melody and raw ferocity that provides a fine antidote and just maybe a new beginning for British guitar music. The awesome 'Lisbon' is taken from the band's debut album 'My Love Is Cool’, which was released last year. 


REWIND: Electric Light Orchestra - 'Showdown'

After lots of doom and gloom within the music world over recent years, it was amazing how much of a buzz this year's Glastonbury festival seemed to have. Maybe the deaths of great icons like Bowie, Lemmy and Prince has reminded people how special music can be and taught us to enjoy our musical heroes while they're still here. The festival's traditional Sunday afternoon slot has allowed much-loved groups from the past to enjoy an afternoon back in the limelight, and this year it was the turn of Jeff Lynne and ELO. I first heard of Jeff Lynne after he worked with the remaining Beatles on their "reunion" songs 'Free As A Bird' and 'Real Love', and after years of only knowing 'Mr Blue Sky' and 'Don't Bring Me Down', it wasn't until hearing an ELO Best Of compilation that I realised just how brilliant a songwriter Lynne is. With a hint of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine', the stunning 'Showdown' immediately became my favourite ELO track as soon as I heard it. Released in 1973, in the US the song was included on the album 'On the Third Day', while in the UK the song was omitted from this album but later featured on the band's first compilation album, also called Showdown.